Sunday, December 06, 2009

Watch Your Step!

If someone were to ask me, "When you hear the word 'Christmas' what do you think of?" the first thing I would probably say is "family". Because I've been taught that is the right answer. In fact, we've all been taught that same answers.  Along with the rest of the cliche answers like presents under the tree, family being together or coming together (probably for another Thanksgivingesque meal), the whole Santa myth, the longing for snow a la the song "White Christmas", celebrating the Christ Mass, Jesus's birthday, ad naseum, ad infinitum.

But you and I both know that all of that is a crock of shit. A warm and steaming pile of crap just waiting to be stepped in by some sorry Polyanna.

Here's the reality of the situation:

First of all, Christmas is NOT a religious holiday. Don't get all holierthanthou on me. You may try to teach your kids that the true meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus but unless you keep your kid under a rock they know the truth: it's all about the toys. Presents are nice but face it.  The toys are the real story here. And, if by some bizarre miracle you get the kids to buy the whole Jesus's birthday thing, why are you celebrating it now? Go check with the historians and astronomers and you will find that this time of year is NOT when he was born (the star in the east thing).

Now, about the whole family thing. I can't speak about your family. However, I do know that my family, my husband's family, my friends' families, and my co-workers' (when I had them) families all seem pretty average in most respects so I am basing my comments on family with all of these average people in mind.

It is almost NEVER a miracle when the whole family gets together. It is a miracle when the whole family gets together and there aren't tears or screaming, or disagreements, or minor altercations or hurt feelings.  Thankfully, because we are pretty average our get togethers have never involved a trip to the ER or a visit by law enforcement but I've heard that's a possible side effect for many families as well.

When I'm answering the loaded Christmas question honestly I say things like:

"When I think of Christmas I think of...


Money or the lack thereof

Great expectations (I still have a very little kid who believes in Santa. I don't want to be the one to break that bubble)


Unreasonable expectations



Too much to do

Spending time and money I don't have particularly on people who don't care. I'm tired of kissing ass just because there is some genetic connection.


A culture of gimme gimme

Self indulgence

Over indulgence


When I had a job it was nice to have some paid time off.  Now that I don't have a job there is no such thing as a day off. A day where I am not making something to sell, or working on improving my shop, or my marketing reach, or at the very least thinking about the next design, the next set of colors, the next idea is one more day without a paycheck. And I can't afford that. My family can't afford that.

So, I try to get things I know my kids really, truly want AND will use and enjoy for more than just a day without hurting my meager bank account too badly.  I knit a few things for family members and friends who I am pretty sure will appreciate them AND wear or use them as intended.  I attend at least one, often two family get togethers and if need be, bite my tongue.

Otherwise, my biggest goal of the holiday season is to just get out of the way of all the crazy people who haven't figured out what a crock this all is or are too stupid to take a step back and see how their frenzied actions are only making a bad situation worse for everyone.

Don't get me wrong.  I love surprising my family with well thought out presents. I love the sense of peace and calm that comes with the first real snowfall. I love the sparkling, twinkling lights. There are some Christmas songs that are my favorite songs ANY time of year. There are some relatives I only get to see at the holidays that I wish I could spend more time with or see more often.  There are special foods that I wish I could have more often as well. All of these things are the parts of Christmas I want to keep.

Those icky, nasty, other things I mentioned first that leave such a bad aftertaste in not just your mouth but in your psyche and your soul? They're in that big stinking pile over there and I am NOT going to step in it this year!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Favorite Cranberry Stuff for Thankgsgiving

I am not much of a "foodie" but I do like to cook.  What follows is one of my favorite holiday recipes.  It is for a Cranberry Compote but I prefer to call it Cranberry Chutney or just "My Favorite Cranberry Stuff only because I don't really know what a compote is (and it sounds too much like compost) and I don't know the technicalities of a Chutney so I don't think this is really one of those.

Anyway, this is my kind of recipe because you don't really measure much...Jake helped make a double batch this morning.

1 bag of fresh cranberries
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1-2 medium apples cored and diced (I prefer Granny Smith.  Use whatever you like.  Peel or don't)
handfull of raisins or golden raisins or both
Cup of sugar

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.  Larger is better than smaller (isn't that true about most things in life?).  Heat over medium heat stirring occassionally.  As the cranberries heat up they will pop open.  As the mixture heats up and things get popping, turn heat down to low.  Please be very carefull, this becomes dangerously hot.  Once it starts to thicken, turn the heat off completely.  Cover and let sit until cool.  Refrigerate and enjoy!  Because it needs to cool and is best after being refrigerated I ususally make it the day before or even a few days ahead.

While I was doing the zesting thing this morning Jake was carefully inspecting the cranberries to find the few who were not worthy.  He helped with the juicing, measuring of the sugar, dumping-in of the same, and taste tested each of the apples.

The colors of this are amazing.  I think I may have to try to replicate this in a yarn.  Hmmm...

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On Health, Happiness, and Holiday Wishes

The media is making a HUGE deal out of the H1N1 flu virus. Were you aware of how many THOUSANDS of people in the US alone typically die from the seasonal flu every year? So what's the big, damn deal?

Well, I'll tell you. It's our children, our babies! If you are a parent then you know that you will protect your child from harm and against all threats large or small, real or imagined, and even at risk of your own well being.
We do this instinctively, it's nature's way of ensuring that a species survives.

I have seen all the news reports too. But it wasn't until my 12 year old son, Carter, had a sore throat one day and a slight fever the next and I saw a news story about a healthy 14 year old girl who had those very same symptoms and ended up dead a couple of days later that I, too felt the panic. Thankfully, Carter was fine.   A friend of mine's little girl just got out of the hospital following a scary two week ordeal with this thing. So now I watch for any sign of a sudden, high fever the way I imagine people with money watch their 401K's and portfolios these days.

Recently, I have had some sort of illness for the past month. It was first treated as a respiratory infection. But it came back. Round two of the antibiotics is currently treating it as a sinus infection. I'm on day seven and it's already showing signs of coming back. It's nowhere near as serious as the flu but it is really starting to wear me down.

Historically, I have had recurrent health issues my entire life. Some days I just feel resigned to the fact that every once in a while I'm suddenly going to 'get that feeling' and need to curl up and stay in bed for the day until it passes. Other times it makes me stubborn. 'Fuck this! I'm gonna do what I need and want to do anyway.' And I put off feeling better by an extra couple of days just to show my body who is really in control here.  Some times I don't have a choice. If vertigo, or a really bad migraine, or a seizure episode hits, there isn't much that can be done and that's scary.

That time of year when we send out well wishes to all of our friends and family is rapidly approaching.  I usually write something like "Wishing you health and happiness in the coming year".  Maybe I'll just shorten that and say, "To your health.". These days that seems so fragile and so much more important. Besides, we've got therapists for the happy part and in this economy I'm sure they could use some work too.

So, here's to your health, the health of your family and loved ones, the health of our country and the economy. Oh, what the hell, I guess it doesn't hurt to hope for a little happiness too.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Politics and Public Schools in Central Pennsylvania

A little bit of me died today.  I felt it.  I knowingly, purposely voted for a Republican. Man.

I have been a die-hard liberal my entire life.  I was raised that way.  Anti-guns. Pro-choice (not pro-abortion, they are NOT the same thing). I am not for every tax the beaurocrats can dream up but I am for those that have helping those that do not have.  I am not for big business.  I am for everyone doing their honest, level, best in this world at something that helps the planet and your neighbor.  We should all be looking out for each other but especially for our children.

I understand how it is possible to have a good income and yet still live paycheck to paycheck.  My husband and I made the decission to send out kids to private school.  It is and has been a very expensive decission that has affected our lives every day since.  People have asked why we didn't just move to a better school district.  In the long term it would have been much, much cheaper to do just that.  In the short term when we made the turn down this path it was all but impossible.  Had we decided to sell our house in the city and move to one of the "better" school districts what kind of guarentee were we going to get that our kids were going to have a better education?  None.  As it is now, they are in (in my humble opinion) the best school possible and one that is at the very least on a par with the best in the country.

It is the simple things, the things cast off as "expensive extras" in public schools that make the biggest differences in my kids lives.  Things like Physical Education class every day.  Yeah, gym class.  How can you be a healthy, happy kid if you don't get to run around and blow off some steam everyday?  How can you be a healthy, happy adult if you don't get in the habit of exercising everyday?  Things like music class multiple times a week.  Research has shown repeatedly that learning music helps people learn math.  It also has a calming effect and can help kids with certain learning disorders by strengthening parts of the brain we don't usually use for learning.  Things like art class multiple times a week with someone qualified to teach our kids about all of the possibilities in the world and all the history of self expression that has come before us.

The values of equality and fairness and basic human kindness and human dignity should be taught at home.  But how can you expect your kids to espouse these ideals if they are not also taught at school?  When children are in an environment of acceptance of who they are, an environment of trust, a safe environment that is drug and violence free, where they are encouraged to learn and grow, they thrive. How can today's kids learn to think, and draw, and sing, and soar outside of the box if they don't know they are being put in a box or that anything else even exists?

I digress.  The crappy public education available in the Commonwealth of PA is one of my shall we say, hot buttons.  The woman running on the Democratic ticket for Mayor of Harrisburg today was one of the people who faught our current mayor over control of the public school system.  It got so bad here that the government had to step in to try to get our school system moving in the right direction.  You know, the direction of actually teaching the kids as apposed to the school board being more worried about their own egos.  Even as the government was stepping in the school board continued to wage political battles over who got to say what in terms of school board policies and politics.  All the while pouring more money into the hands of their lawyers instead of using the money to buy books or supplies.  She was part of that problem.

Lately, the non-profit company the democratic candidate started has come under scrutiny because of false advertising on its web site, and possible financial mismanagement at best, fraud and tax evasion at worst.  Rather than explain the situation in a calm manner she has repeatedly ducked the questions.  She gets her knickers in a twist and cries foul and unfair.  This is just the other side playing politics.  Why, yes, m'am it is.  Maybe.  Who knows. Point is if this is how you act when people start asking questions how are you going to run our town?:  She gets loud and indignant.  I want a mayor who can calmly explain her point of view.  One who can rationally work their way through a series of events without everything becoming personal.  Her best answer on all of this was that she doesn't pay attention to the website.  Then how are you ever going to manage paying attention to everything neccessary in our city?  Please don't tell me what is important.  Just answer the questions without all of the drama.  She couldn't do that.  So I couldn't vote for her.

I wish I could have voted for a Democrat.  I wish I could have voted for a woman.  But my wish for a better environment for my children and the children of Central PA is stronger.  And, I can put my ego aside when I have to and do what it right for our kids and our community.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

On getting older (and our budget)

I need to go to the grocery store. There is a list (mostly compiled by me because other members of the family either don't notice when they use the last of something or figure an audible is sufficient but that is another post) of things I need to get.  Last week I noticed my roots are starting to show. I realized that I am coming up on four weeks since I last recharged my mane.  So I put hair color on the list.

Our budget is beyond tight right now. As I looked at the list on my way past the fridge the hair color caught my attention.  Sure, I think my red hair suits my complexion and my temperament better than my natural color but is it worth the $12-$16 a month (not to mention the time and the fumes) that I pay?

Some people color their hair to cover grey.  I've always said that I like my grey because it is really more of a sparkly silver.  It's the mouse-brown I've never been fond of. (My apologies to mice everywhere but mouse-brown sounds better than shit-brown).

At this point I'm not even sure how much grey I really have.  It's been a few years since I went back to being a redhead. At that time I had a lot of grey around my temples but it was underneath the brown. So. The only time it really showed much was when I pulled my hair back off my face.  It will be interesting to see how much there really is and where.

So, this could get interesting over the next few months as I return to my roots. And I figure this will (at the very least) give me a few dollars for the yarn budget. After all, that's what life is all about...More Yarn For Me.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Disasters on Sept 11th

Thursday, September 10th came and went.  I ran into the Head of Max's school and he assured me they were "working on it".  Being a hopeful person, I could only assume that meant working on what the conditions would be if they didn't expell him.  Maybe I was right.  Maybe not.

Maybe there just weren't enough conditions possible.

Thursday turned into Friday.  It has a way of doing that.  They were still "working on it".

Early Friday afternoon we were summoned.  So, Addison, Max, and I went to the school.

Max was done.

They left open the possibility of re-enrolling next year (his senior year).  They also very kindly did not ban him from the school grounds.  As long as he is with one of us he can attend his brothers functions and go with me to drop off/pick up.

We live in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  The local school system sucks.  I don't know how else to describe it and sucks really isn't strong enough.  PA public schools in general are pretty crappy.  While it has been a few years since I graduated I have not seen any evidence of improvement since I was in school.  I attended three public high schools (Opelika, Alabama, Shaker Heights, Ohio, and Susquehanna Township here in Harrisburg).  If I had to rank them from best to worst it would look like this:

1.  Shaker Heights.  Period.  Nationally ranked and noted school.
2.  Opelika.  I had some really great teachers there and the educational environment was very progressive.

Susquehanna township was considered one of the better school districts when I attended.  Still it.  Sucked then and I can only imagine that it still sucks today.

When we moved here I went from an AP US History course where we were studying the formation of the Supreme Court to a US history class taught by the football coach whose idea of a quiz was to pair us up, take out his stopwatch, and see how long it took us to put together a wooden puzzle of the US.  A kindergarten-age-appropiate f*(&^ing puzzle!!!!

The really sad thing is that the school district I live in now (Harrisburg City) is a million times worse than Susquehanna Township.  We live a block from the line dividing the two.  So, we looked into the option of sending Max to Susquehanna Township as an out-of-district student.  The cost would have been in the neighborhood of $800 a month!

*** Yes, I am aware that we could move to a different school district.  Selling our house/buying a new house is just not financially feasible at the moment.  Besides, that would mean not just cleaning up my stash/stuff but hiding it from prospective buyers and that is probably impossible. ***

Our only other option is cyber school.  PA now has cyber school available to all students living in the Commonwealth of PA as a public school choice.  I was completely unaware of this.  Ok, a little aware but I had no idea that it was the same as public school and that anyone could go.  Wow!

It is now October 7th and we are still in the process of getting Max enrolled at PACyber (there are a number of cyber schools available and competing for students but we heard this was the best).  I talked to his guidance counselor for the first time this morning, he is scheduled for his classes, and his text books, computer, and other materials have all been ordered.  Looks like we are about to start another new chapter...

Monday, October 05, 2009


Wednesday, September 9th was a good day.

I talked to my buddy Pete first thing in the morning. We got caught up on the goings-on in each other's lives. This only takes a couple of seconds-there isn't much going on. But, it's still great to hear his grumpy voice.

Then, I talked to my bff, Ron, while I headed south to Chambersburg. I hadn't been to the "Yarn Basket" in at least a year if not longer.  I wanted to reaquaint myself with the lovely little shop as well as look for the fiber for the cute little spring jacket I have been thinking about.

Ron and I had one of our off-the-walls conversations where we go from one strange topic to another in a stream of conscience sort of way; laughing most of the time.

At the yarn shop I found orange sock yarn for Jake (don't ask), some purple-ish sock yarn for me, and the sweetest alpaca yarn in pastels that just screams (ok, it whispers) spring.

I made my way back home with my newly acquired treasure and shortly after I arrived the nice day ran off the rails.

I'm not talking a glitch. Or an inconvience. No minor setbacks here.  I'm talking blood and guts, smoke and flames spewing, get the medic kind of this-aint-gonna-fix-itself and it-aint-gonna-be-pretty disaster.  The kind where years later you still remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news.

Addison and Max came in the house together. On this otherwise lovely Wednesday. In the middle of the day. Silently.

Max had been suspended. And made to clean out his locker. And was now waiting to find out if he would be allowed to return to the school.  Ever.

My uninspired, unmotivated, unenthusiastic, ADD-challenged 16 year old had (with a couple of his buddies) signed himself out of study hall and gone to "the cove" (an area at the bottom of the stair well decorated with fish and furnished with a bench and a desk) to study. He got bored.  He played with a broken lighter.  When it finally lit (to his surprise) he used it to light the corner of a piece of paper on fire.  He blew it out in the same instant.  A teacher walked through and saw the corner of the paper still glowing.  A jackass of a teacher who doesn't particularly like Max.  He got caught.

He got written up.  He was later yanked  out of lunch by the Head of the Upper School and told, "I want you out of my school". Addison was called at work.  Max cleaned out his locker.

So, they were home.  On that beautiful Wednesday in September. Max sat at the dining room table with his head hung down in shame and bewilderment.  Addison sat in the living room with his head in his hands fighting back the tears of anger and disbelief.

I didn't know what to think. What to say?  What to do?

Friday, October 02, 2009

An Intervention

My name is Susan and I am a ...

a what?

a packrat?  No, that makes me think of those people whose houses are filled from floor to ceiling with magazines or whatever.  It's not that bad.

a stashaholic?  Maybe, most of my organizational challenges currently involve my stash of yarn, fiber, and related tools.  Although close, doesn't seem to encompass the whole issue of the mess.

a wrinkle-challenged, over-fiberated, individual with diminishing floor space? Ok, but the wrinkle thing is in relation to the laundry.  If it weren't for the wrinkles I wouldn't care.  Well, it's kind of hard to even think about putting it away in its current state so I guess I care a little.  That and the cat keeps knocking my pile of clean stuff over to get at the sweaters underneath.

a person with good intentions, too much stash, too much laundry (both clean and dirty), and too little time?  Yeah, that's a lot closer but still not quite it.  I know, add in too many ideas and too many WIP (works-in-progress) and that's it!  Oh, and Susan sounds too stuffy and formal...

Hello, my name is Sue and I am a person with good intentions, too much stash, too much laundry (both clean and dirty), too many ideas, too many WIP's, and too little time.

Glad that's solved.  I've got stuff to knit.

Friday, September 25, 2009


What inspires you?

There are so many possibilities.

Color. Line. Form. Texture. Shape. Improvement. Possibility. Temperature. Lightness. Darkness. Quality. New. Old. Rust. Wear. Shiny. Smooth. Drape. Function. Edge. Hue. Value. Quirky. Innovation. Experimentation. Competition. Industry. Weather. Re-creation. Recreation. Procreation. Sex. Sales. Money. Fame. Sleep. Dreams. Music. Mathematics. Science. Religion. Dance. Emotions. Stories. Time. Immortality. Beauty. Spontaneity. Repetition. Feel. Feelings. Time. Politics. Family. Nature. Nurture. Age. Wonder. Awe. Finish. Re-finish. School. Art. Language. Water. Landscapes. Time.


You know, I could do a project or even multiple projects around each of the above words.

Now, if I could only finish one of the million things I have already started. Now, that's the rub.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Change for the Better

I am establishing a new schedule for myself. So far, most days go something like this:

06:30 Alarm goes off. Pretend it didn't OR play sudoku or solitaire until Jake's alarm goes off.

06:40 Jake's alarm goes off. Take deep breath in AND out to prepare for battle.

06:45 Try to remember method of coercion that worked before or come up with new way to get an obstinate, cranky, tired 5 yr old to get his effing clothes on and brush his gd teeth.

06:50 Ask Jake what he wants for breakfast. Eggs? Toast? Bagel? Cereal? None of these, then what?

06:55 Make sure Max is awake. Note to self, the cattle prod seems to work better than the bullhorn or the cold water trick. Thank God (again) that Carter is self sufficient in the morning.

07:00 Get self dressed. Preferably in the dark as random clothing/color choices just make the day more interesting. Besides, can always answer questioning looks from strangers with, "What are you looking at? I'm an artist."

07:10 Make whatever food Jake now wants that he swore he didn't at 06:50. Of course, now there really isn't time.

07:15 Remind Jake to go brush teeth. Admonish Max to pull up his pants, put on a belt, and (this one is my favorite--TIGHTEN the belt).

07:20 Chase Jake up the stairs to go actually BRUSH the teeth while reminding all three that we should really be leaving NOW!

07:25 Take kids to school

08:00 Go for a walk around Wildwood (a local wildlife sanctuary and nature center #WW on Twitter)

10:00 Bathroom break, snack (brunch is more like it), talk to the cat, waste time.

11:00 Write/post to blogs, check email, try to not get sucked into the black holes of Twitter, Ravelry, Etsy, or whatever other cool things I can find on line.

1:00 Knit/work on designs currently in the que.

2:30 Shower, change, ponder the issue of "doing my face", beauty in our culture/society, and the ideas of self-worth, ego, and where does L'Oreal fit into all of this? Seriously folks.

3:00 Pick up Jake from school. Begin the battle of wills and be amazed that he is so good at school and so NOT at home.

3:30 Look through Jake's school folder with him.

3:45 Attempt to find something new and exciting for Jake to do that preferably does not involve me or the cat.

5:00 Daddy's home! Think "Tag! You're it!" Realize I said that aloud.

5:01 Think about making dinner, wish for a personal chef or at least delivery of take-out food.

5:05 Realize that neither of the above is going to happen tonight and poll the family on dinner preferences

5:10 Check the fridge, freezer, basement freezer, and pantry for ingredients for the one and only meal they all agreed upon.

5:15 Poll the family again. This time give them specific choices as the open ended version yielded no usable results.

5:20 Wonder what it was about marriage and a family that seemed so charming and desirable at the time.

5:30 Make dinner. Chase Jake out of the kitchen as there is only room for one (if I am the one) or two in our tiny galley kitchen.

At this point in the day I shouldn't even bother calling it a 'schedule'. We have bedtime fights rituals with Jake but the end result is just wishing we could all just close our eyes and go to sleep with the hope of doing a better job of it all tomorrow.

It used to be that when I was working at night days would pass where I wouldn't go anywhere else besides work. I always took a shower and "did my face" before I walked out the door. Now, all I need to be ready to go is a ponytail holder. Is this a good change or a bad one?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

In praise of Facebook

When I was 11 (in the 6th grade) my family moved from Shaker Heights, OH (a suburb of Cleveland) to Carmel, IN (a suburb of Indianapolis). Since this was the first move that I was old enough to remember (we had moved a few times since I had been born but had been in Shaker since I was about 2) this was a cool, fun, and exciting adventure. I hated leaving my best friend, Liz, behind but how cool is it to have a pen pal? We wrote back and forth frequently and stayed in touch.

A year and a half later we moved again. This time to Opelika, AL (next to Auburn). The girlfriends,Kim and Carol, that I had made in Indiana were't much for letter writing and it didn't take long for us to lose track of each other. My best friend and next door neighbor, Mike, was killed in an accident riding his skateboard along a busy road about a year later. After that, I really had no ties to the place. But Liz and I continued to write.

In Opelika I made friends with another Kim (whose birthday just happened to be the same as Liz's and one day after mine--kinda strange). I also discovered boys while we lived down south but that is a whole different post alltogether (but I am still a sucker for a man with a southern accent). Anyway, we lived there for three years and Kim and I were thick as thieves. I don't remember when Liz and I stopped writing. I think the time in between each of our letters just got longer and longer until we didn't notice that they weren't there anymore. By this time it was highschool and we were all so busy.

In the summer before my Junior year we moved back to Shaker. Of course by now it had been five years since we left. Five years doesn't sound like much but when you leave as an 11 year old and come back as a 16 year old there is a world of difference.

I don't remember what was said between myself and Liz but it wasn't much. The highschool is huge and classes were hard. We never really reconnected. Instead, I became friends with Rashmi. Her mom was Dutch and her father is Indian. She was and still is one of the most gorgeous women I have ever known and she either didn't know it and or didn't care. Our greatest mutual love was horses. Just as our friendship was forming I found out that we would be moving again. We were only there for six months.

Now, all of these moves were employement/career driven. My father worked in marketing at True Temper in Cleveland. I don't know what sparked the move to Indianapolis but he was then working for thw Blue Luster Company (a member of the Liggitt Group). The move to Alabama was a transfer within the Liggitt Group to a company called Diversified Products. Unfortunately, they did not end up doing whatever it was in marketing that my Dad had expected and he quickly grew bored and dissatisfied. When he started to get his name back out there as available (where is this place and can I put my name in?) He got a call from True Temper. They wanted him back. That's how/why we moved back to Shaker. That summer as my parents moved us to Shaker (and we were all away at summer camp) True Temper decided to move their corporate headquarters from Cleveland to Shiremanstown, PA to be closer to their manufacturing facility. A handfull of middle management (my Dad included) was asked to make the move and it meant a promotion. So we ended up in Harrisburg, PA.

Kim and I were keeping in touch and Rashmi and I wrote also. This was of course back in the stone age before PC's. Before cell phones or i-pods. Before laptops. And, before crackberries (I mean blackberry) like the one I am using to post this. So, while I have always been a champ at talking on the phone (especially late at night) I was never very good at writing letters and back then, long distance was expensive. So, I lost track of the boys in my life completely at that point. That Rashmi and Kim managed to stay in my life is a testament to their tenacity, not mine.

I write all this now for two reasons. First, I have reconnected with Liz (and a few other people who were/are special to me but lost for years) and Kim, and Rashmi through the wonderful invention that is Facebook. If you don't already use it, I recomend it highly. And secondly, while I still live in Harrisburg and don't forsee any sort of move in the near future, I am about to "move away from" some of my closest friends.

It has already started. Ron, and Heather (who coincidentally both have the same birthday as my son Max) don't deliver to the warehouse anymore. Paul doesn't swing by every few days in that huge white Volvo truck anymore. I can't tell time by Mike showing up at 4 in the morning anymore. How do I know it is Tuesday when Greg and Gene and Bubba and Mike aren't around? These are just a handfull of the driver's I became friends with whom I miss so much. I have their phone numbers but it's not the same.

Two weeks ago Steve, Barry, Jim, and Ken were offered "early outs" and jumped at the chance. I miss them all.

So, for the next week Pete, Denny, Chris, Mike, Scott, Kevin, Gary, Ray, Luke, and I will still be together. Luke works for the lumping company and will be done in our department on Wednesday. Ray works in inventory control and won't be done until September. Gary has all but begged for a job at the warehouse in Lancaster and they finally threw him a bone and offered him something a couple of days ago. But in typical Gary fashion he's making more out of it than I'm sure it is by being secretive about what possition it is--like any of us care at this point. Sad thing is that while he was begging for a job there all I would have had to do is say yes. My former boss was begging ME. But that is not something or someplace I want to be or be doing.

So, that leaves me and the 6 boys. I call them boys because very few men ever really grow up. As they get bigger so do their toys. But in reality, the youngest of these guys is Scotty who just turned 42 last week. Kevin and I are next. I turned 44 this past Thursday and am 13 days older than Kev. Pete will turn 46 this coming Wednesday (a week before Kev's birthday). The ages go up from there and I don't know the particulars but I still call them all boys.

So, this Friday is the end for the other 7 of us. We plan on going to a little local dive (that has great food and opens at 9 in the morning) for a couple of farewell drinks. The 4 that already left are coming too so it should be quite a party! I even think some other guys from other departments will be joining us and Steve might bring his wife, Brenda.

In case you couldn't tell I am closer to Pete, Kevin, and Scott than the others who are still here. But Steve and Pete have been my closest confidents for the past two years. I have been closer to Pete and spent more time with him than anyone else. And he tells me yesterday that after Friday we'll probably never see each other again.

WHAT?? He says he won't be driving to Harrisburg anymore. I protest with the fact that I will be heading his way (he lives about 40 miles south of here) when I make a trip to the yarn shop. He says he is going to run and work out and other wise be a home body. I protested that we both have cell phones. He says he is not much of a phone person and now that he won't be driving to Harrisburg every day he might just get rid of his cell phone. I say, "I know where you live".

Gwen (Pete's wife), I appologize in advance for showing up on your doorstep. I don't know when it will happen but I do know that if the little boy you live with doesn't stop pouting abd being the biggest asshole I have ever had the misfortune to give a damn about, I will end up there. I am not about to lose the people I care about again without a fight.

Brenda, consider the above apology to be for you as well. But I have to give Steve credit for phone usage. Now, if the two of you could just learn to use the computer (or a smart phone) and get on facebook (and use it) we wouldn't have this problem.

Saturday, August 01, 2009


So I've been reading Knitty and using the patterns they publish since I started knitting. They have great stuff and are a great showcase for independant/novice designers. I finally decided to check out their submission guidelines and deadlines. The next deadline is Sept 2 for the late fall/early winter issue. I have something in the works for it now but can't say what. If my design is accepted it can not have been shown or published anywhere else (including blogs). It will probably be the last week in Aug before I am ready to submit my design. Wish me luck...

Friday, July 10, 2009

More knitting time

Work last night was so strange. We are done receiving dairy and will be shipping all of the dairy inventory over to the other warehouse tonight. So, with the meat department heading into its last week and frozen slowing down drastically we had almost nothing to do. In the past an easy night was 900 pallets received. I've seen us do as many as 1900. Last night we had 392. And it's only going to get worse. Half of the guys were in the dairy cooler breaking down skids of product so that they would be the right height for the new warehouse (their slots are shorter than ours). Those kinds of out-of-the-ordinary odd jobs kept everyone from going crazy. Tonight the entire department is in on overtime along with an odd mix of about 20 people from all over the warehouse to move out almost 2 million dollars worth of inventory and send it 55 miles up the road.

The only good thing about being dead like this is that I have a lot more knitting time and no one gives me a hard time about it. Of course, they all know that knitting is a stress reliever for me and I'm pretty sure they are afraid that if I have nothing to do and they tell me not to knit that I'll kill someone. They probably figure whomever is the one to say something will most likely be my victim.

Last night I finished a pair of socks that are for my friend Heather's birthday. They have a 5 x 1 rib down the leg that continues down the foot and stops at the toe. The yarn is a wool-bamboo blend called Lolita from The Great Aderondack Yarn Company. The colorway is Cancun. The skein is a whopping 560 yards! This is the second pair of socks I have made from it and there is enough leftover for a third pair!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Fearless Knitter coming to a computer/Blackberry/smartphone near you Aug 15th

I have only been knitting for 4 1/2 years now. Every thing I know is self taught either from books, a few videos I found on-line, magazines, from watching "Knitty Gritty", or from Sephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka the Yarn Harlot).

My first project was a baby blanket with a simple lace design. My second project was a sweater for myself knit out of Lion Brand Thick n Quick. It is so warm I can't wear it indoors. After that, I designed and knit sweaters for my 3 sons and my husband. The sweater for the youngest, Jake, was a little bit of stranded color work and the other 3 were striped. These were all before I had been knitting for 10 months.

I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography from the Moore College of Art and Design. A college friend of mine graduated with a degree in fashion design. Except for criticism or suggestions for her, I never had any interest in fashion design. I still don't. Except for knitwear.

I don't really get it. I have no idea what possessed me to want to learn to knit in the first place. It was completely out of the blue. Once I got the hang of it I was completely hooked. After that first sweater I have not knit anything exactly as the pattern was written. I have made modifications. In fact, I have only used 3 or 4 patterns at all.

Recently I have begun making my own designs. There are so many challenges to this that I can't believe I'm actually doing it! It takes a lot longer when you end up knitting something 4 times because you just couldn't get it the way you wanted (as if fitting were important)the first 3 times you tried it. But who's counting?

All I know is that it is all I think about and all I want to do and I can't wait until I don't have to work nights anymore and the kids go back to school and I can do this full time. The thought of not having a job should terrify me. But it doesn't. When it comes to my knitting I am not afraid to try anything and I'm not afraid to rip out a row or a whole garment if it isn't working. This is the only thing in my life that I have ever been fearless about. So, that is why I decided to start a new blog. It is going to be about just my knitting and designing. I am going to keep this one for everything else. I still have to set up the layout of the new one and I don't plan to make the first post until I am done at the warehouse on Aug 14th. Wow! I can't wait!!

Monday, July 06, 2009


For the past 11+ years I have been working at a wholesale food distribution warehouse.

The first 9 years I was a clerk in the Outbound Office getting the invoices ready to send with the truck to the stores we service and verifying the load through our internal paperwork/computer system.

For the last 2 1/2 years I have been in the Perishable Receiving Department as the Receiving Clerk. In this job I basically run our shift. I have a supervisor who handles all of us to some extent and the more sensative co-workers when it comes to reallocating staff ro a colder part of the warehouse than they normally work in but for the most part he is the one truly unneccessary individual.I monitor our schedule of incoming loads, tweak it when possible (we are at the mercy of our idiot buyers), check drivers in, process the bills-of-lading through our computer system, assign dock doors, get the paperwork whereever it needs to go, verify that everything has been received properly, and check the drivers out. I also am the chief trouble-shooter, problem-solver, question-answerer,keeper of all records, nanny, mother, sister, babysitter, friend, therapist,and flirt to the 10 guys I work with (receivers and highlift operators)and the 4 man crew from an outside contractor who unloads the trucks. Nothing I do is rocket science. Nothing I do is particularly difficult in any way. At all. For anyone. A chimp. However, it does take a degree of talent (and patience) to do all the things I do simultaneously. While smiling. Ok so sometimes it's through gritted teeth but you get the idea.

I love my job. I love this goofy group of guys I work with. I love the guys who unload the trucks. I even love some of the truck drivers. I didn't say all or a lot, I said some (I'm not THAT crazy-I detest the idiot, non-english-speaking, IQ below 60 drivers just like the rest of the world).

The company I work for is nation wide from New England to Callifornia. I don't know how many DC's (distribution centers) or store we have but it is a lot. Of all of the DC's the one I work in has the highest productivity rating in the country. The US of A. Really! How cool is that? The guys I work with have all been at this warehouse for at least 24 years. Years. Not months.

They're closing our warehouse!

We've known of the impending doom for a little over 2 years now. The company has been very good about the whole thing. They told us as soon as the decission had been made. They have offered jobs at the newer warehouse they aquired through a merger (55 miles away and a union shop). And, they are giving us a generous severence package and we will be able to collect unemployement benefits.

But it still sucks!

As of today, I have 29 more days to work (minus 8 hrs of personal time and ~12 hrs of sick time). I had to start saying goodbye to some of the drivers last week. The ones I have to say goodbye to are the people who have been coming to our warehouse practically every week. Some are there 2 days a week. Some 3 days. Mike from Hatfield Meats is in my office every day except Thursday.

The purpose of this entry is twofold. First to just kick and scream at the whole unfairness of it all (yes, I know life's not fair). To say the pain I am feeling as the reality sets in is excruciating. But also secondly, to acknowledge the potential. The possabilities of a fresh start. The chance to say, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" And actually be able to give it some thought. It's not too late to change the answer to that question, in fact it's the perfect time for a do-over! So, with that in mind I will be starting over. I have just set up a new blog (drumroll please) Fearless-Knitter.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Pics from the Crackberry

Trying to attach a pic... Not very successfully I might add...

Blogging from a Blackberry

Test. This is only a test. If this were a real blog entry it would contain evidence of knitting.