Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This and That

Thanks to everyone for your support and guidance with the gusset issue. I did figure out how to get those sneaky little stitches picked, did the decreases and am working around the foot now. I'm thinking I didn't do it quite right, but having gone through the process once, it now makes more sense. Particular thanks to Amy Lane for getting me knitting and helping to feed my habit.

I'm off to Phoenix today to visit my daughter for a couple of days, leaving my husband home in charge of the three cats. The cats and husband always take a while to forgive me, as it is evident that this cat momma is the favorite parent! My daughter's roommate just got an 8 week old kitten so I can get my fix. I'm even taking my camera so I can get you a picture.

I talked to my best friend from college yesterday and am planning a June visit to see her. We were inseparable for years,she was my maid of honor,my daughter's middle name was in her honor, yet we have lost touch for long stretches of time. The availability of e-mail helped, as neither of us are letter writers. We realized yesterday that it has been at least twenty years since we have seen each other! I'm sure neither of us has changed at all :-)

I'm off to make plane reservations before anyone's schedule changes and we go another twenty years.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The mystery of gussets

Once my Suns managed to win one game and keep our hopes and anguish alive for another day, I pulled out my stash of left over sock yarn that Amy sent me, found a footie pattern, grabbed my Harlot book and started to work on my first socklike experience.

It's a good thing I had lots of caffeine before I started because knitting with multiple, sharp needles requires one to be on their toes! I think I cast on at least six times before I finally got far enough to actually see something happening. Did you know that if you grab the wrong needle (like one with stitches on it), instead of the spare, that you now have a see of little loops waving at you from the side of the sock? I also learned that those slippery little needles sometimes just slide out. Cats are definitely are not compatible with learning to knit socks! Oh no, they don't try to pull the knitting away, they just flop on my lap, butt my hands with their heads. When I startle, those little stitches just slide right off the end of the needle.

Finally, I actually got through the ankle band, figured out how to knit while holding what appears to be a porcupine, made my heel flap, turned the heel (hurray) and then got stuck. The pattern calls for a 5 needle process for the gussets (what the hell are gussets?) and the Harlot uses 4. I found myself thinking of all those people bringing their first sock to see the Harlot (some of them are overachievers by the way). I read the instructions, I stared at my baby socklet and decided it was time to go to bed.

I have found a video online that claims to simplify the creation of said gusset, and guide me through the perpetual mystery of creating a tube once again for knitting the foot. For all of you avid sock knitters who are exclaiming "But it is so easy!", remember your first time doing anything and keep a good thought for me and my socklet :-)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Being a Suns fan is depressing

I actually threatened to never watch the Phoenix Suns again. It happened about the time they went down 20 points in the third game of the Spurs series. I looked at my husband and said, "I can't stand it!!! " He looked aghast at the fairweather fan standing in his house and shook his head. I yelled at the screen, paced the living room and then sunk in to a desperate funk as the game slipped away. My daughter-in-law called from Iowa just as depressed. Her favorite Sun, Steve Nash is letting her down after they paid extra to get the NBA channel on satellite.

Chocolate didn't help, wine didn't help - HOW COULD THEY SCREW IT UP AGAIN! Tomorrow, they have one last chance to keep the dream alive. Please, please, please, please. . .

The only up I can see is that once basketball season is over I'll have more knitting time. I can knit to baseball any day if I stay awake long enough.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I'm an ENFP

You Are An ENFP
The Inspirer

You love being around people, and you are deeply committed to your friends.
You are also unconventional, irreverent, and unimpressed by authority and rules.
Incredibly perceptive, you can usually sense if someone has hidden motives.
You use lots of colorful language and expressions. You're quite the storyteller!

In love, you are quite the charmer. And you are definitely willing to risk your heart.
You often don't follow through with your flirting or professed feelings. And you do break a lot of hearts.

At work, you are driven but not a workaholic. You just always seem to enjoy what you do.
You would make an excellent entrepreneur, politician, or journalist.

How you see yourself: compassionate, unselfish, and understanding

When other people don't get you, they see you as: gushy, emotional, and unfocused

Yes or No?

It seems to me, after years of working with people (a hazard of being a social worker), that asking for help is one of the hardest things to do. I have been reminded of this most recently by a friend who had surgery last week. Independent soul that she is, for the last month she has been adamantly telling all of her friends that she doesn't/won't need help, and all will be well.
I've had surgery, and remember trying to persuade my body that it really could do more than walk to the mail box and back in a day.

This weekend my friend finally admitted that perhaps she is going to need some help when she goes home. The fact that she lives alone and has only walked down the hospital hall once, with help, might have something to do with that. I am relieved that, if only for a short time, she may consider letting one or more of her friends stay with her, help with meals etc. We all want to help. We see it as a gift we can offer. It is hard to wait patiently in hopes that someone we care about will let us offer that gift.

Coincidentally, I'm giving a short presentation on Thursday to a Chamber Leaderhip group on being a caregiver for another adult. I've been thinking a lot about what I want to tell them. Caregiving can be a hard role, physically and mentally exhausting. The rewards may be many, or it may be a resentful duty. The most common concern of the person being cared for is being a burden to family and friends. The reality is, the act of caregiving is sometimes a burden. Many caregivers I've talked to, also speak of satisfaction in helping, giving back to a loved one and personal growth. They want to do what they are doing, even on the days it is hard.

One of the lessons I learned from my years in hospice care was to ask for help when I need it. I've always been a very independent person, just like my friend. My family, friends and coworkers have called me their "rock" because so many people rely on me for support. Asking for help when I was sick or sad just didn't enter in to the picture. Little by little, I learned from the people I was supposed to be helping that asking for help is a strength. I also learned to accept the gift of support when it is offered.

This got a little heavier than I intended but has been much on my mind recently. So my question for the day is, "Are you able to ask for and accept help from others?" It is something to think about.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

My name is Galad and I am a Facebook addict

My family has recently switched from MySpace to Facebook for many of our communications. I have been pleasantly surprised to find more of my friends inhabiting the Facebook universe too. Much better than MySpace, where my daughter had to find me friends so I wouldn't be pathetic. We can post pictures and videos, SuperPoke each other and generally have a good time. All seemed good until. . . .

It all started innocently enough when my daugher-in-law sent me the Facebook application Pet Pupz. She encouraged me to adopt a cyber-puppy to help her gain points and play with her cyber-puppy. It seemed a simple enough request until I discovered that Patches the Cavalier King Charles puppy with adorable brown eyes has to be fed, played with the trained. Every day. To do so one must have puppy points, acquired each day at sign in. It didn't take long to figure out that the daily puppy points were not going to be enough to pay for training. In search of more points, I discovered promiscuous puppy petting on the application bulletin board. AHA

People from all over the world post their puppy link on the bulletin board. Each pet patted gained me 4 puppy points. Soon I found myself "petting" hundreds of pictures of puppies while watching TV. I was making good progress on training with my additional points and beating said d-i-l in the daily puppy contests, when I mistakenly shared the secret of unlimited puppy points with my son. The Rat! Now we are neck and neck in the puppy contests.

Thankfully, the puppy training came to an end and I had more than enough points left to feed my puppy every day without working at it. But wait! One of d-i-l's friends wasn't feeding or playing with his puppy. It was starving and unhappy!!! Being a recovering codependent, I had to take care of it. Now I'm feeding two puppies a day and giving away excess points to other starving puppies. Husband says, "THEY AREN'T REAL". Oh.

Obsession slightly under control I heaved a sigh of relief. Until the invitation arrived for the new application, Cute Catz. I didn't hesitate for a second before adopting Sven the Norwegian Forest Cat, who is now a week old. He is partially trained, but I only pet other kittens during basketball games. By the time the playoffs are over and my Suns are victorious, he should be grown. Now my daughter has joined Facebook and has also been sucked in to the Cute Catz obsession. We may need a twelve step program if I'm going to get more knitting done (like that really cute scarf I saw in the cat knitting book)

I thought I was finding a balance until yesterday when the invitation arrived for the Hatchery. Damn the d-i-l for tempting me again. I couldn't leave that poor little egg unclaimed and they hatch in to such cute cartoon babies. Sigh. ... My egg is calling.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A good week

I'm sitting here listening to the birds sing outside my window and the mornings are still cool enough to be delightful. The terrible wind of the last few days has let up and I was finally able to retrieve the various trash cans and boxes that blew down the street in to my neighbor's yard.

I'm thrilled that several of you stopped by to look at my desert photos. Donna Lee mentioned the vision of reddish earth and tumbleweeds from westerns which can be seen in certain areas of Arizona where those films were shot. Growing up in the green Midwest, I had no idea when my future husband enticed me to move here how many different kinds of desert there are. Getting used to rock yards is a whole other adjustment but the best part is - no mowing!

I went in to my consulting meeting this week armed with the confidence of my family, friends and blogging buddies. The meeting went well and I wore my stretchy dress so I would be comfortable (though I am strongly considering Em's idea that some new spring clothes might be a good idea). I have a rough outline together for the session I'll be leading and now need to do some research for the specifics.

I'm excited about starting a new business but also know I may wind up looking for a "day job" down the line that has health insurance. One of the sad realities of middle age is that if your employer doesn't offer health insurance or you are self employed, you probably are uninsurable on the private market. We currently are doing the COBRA continuation from my previous health insurance, but when that runs out I may be looking for a job with benefits, no matter what it pays. We have a new mall that has been hiring a lot of people but my family is appalled that I would even consider "wasting" my degrees by working at something menial. We've always taught our kids that no honest work is beneath them if it pays the bills, but somehow they think that shouldn't apply to me :-) Thankfully we don't have to worry about it seriously for another year. Much can happen between now and then.

On a happier note, I got to go out on a date with my husband last night. He got tickets to go hear a local swing band, and on a week night no less! We are usually vegetating in front of the tv, not out on the town. It was a lot of fun and one of the perks of being empty nesters - you can pick up and go when you want! My loving hubby also got me new diamond studs for our 28th wedding anniversary on Saturday. I lost one of the ones I've had forever down the shower drain a couple of months ago. These have screw backs so hopefully they won't come loose. What a good guy. I think I'll keep him for another 28 years.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Spring in the desert

Everyone has been posting such beautiful pictures of spring flowers from around the country that I thought I'd share some desert pictures. My agave plant finally flowered (that is the large stalk in the middle). Unfortunately the plant dies after flowering so I guess I need to call the landscaper again.

This is a prickly pear but it is not in full bloom yet. I'll try to get another picture when all of the pink flowers along the spines come out. No, I don't make jelly from mine

What looks like a wild shrub actually is. Creosote blooms with tiny white and yellow flowers in the spring, sends down deep roots that are almost impossible to dig out and gives the desert its distinctive "after rain" smell when we occasionally get the wet stuff.

This flatish flowering shrub is lantana and commonly used in desert landscaping. It comes in a variety of colors, is low water use and blooms most of the year. They are particularly pretty right now.

Many flowers will grow here, but in the winter when we aren't so hot. Thus ends our lecture on desert flora 101!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Paying Gig

So, for the last three months I have been unemployed after years of working many hours per week at a job I was extremely passionate about. The fates and despised person or persons who shall remain nameless, liberated me from my mission driven, passionate life and left me foundering on the shores of endless unfilled time.

Of course, you say, if had three months with nothing else to do, my house would be spotless, my cats perfectly groomed and my physique improved from the daily exercise. HA! As you know from reading previous blogs, my house is improved but still cluttered with the many books that never seem to find a permanent home other than teetering on the edge of every flat surface. My cats are much loved and believe life is now as it should be but still are not brushed regularly and we won't even talk about keeping up with their cat pan cleaning standards! I refuse to talk about my physique which is not only flabby but wider than usual due to applications of ice cream from the full service freezer.

In my defense, I have spent a lot of time in the last couple of months researching and planning what I eventually want to do with my life. The full service brothel was out since Arizona doesn't allow them and my husband won't move to Nevada. Learning to spin yarn from the endless Ragdoll hair seemed challenging (see brushing above). Given those issues, I turned toward more conventional ideas - one of which is starting a consulting business.

I know, if you find an unemployed executive and you'll find a potential consultant. Being a research nut I've combed the internet and read at least 5 books already on how to set up a consulting business. I've also made lists on paper and in Excel (can you spell A-N-A-L), of all the tasks required. None of that has led me any closer to actually having a paying job.

As of today I have (gasp) a small paying gig in May doing a 4 hour strategic planning session for the staff of a local business. No sooner had I accepted and jumped for joy than I started worrying about whether I really know how to do this. I'm already thinking that Amy Lane mantra "Please let it not suck" as this one little job could be a great reference for other, bigger jobs.

I meet with the person who retained me on Tuesday to gather ideas and clarify her expectations for the session. I've started formulating questions to ask her about the group I'll be working with, the outcome we hope for and how that fits with the organization's mission and goals for 2008/2009.

Keep a good thought for me while I go see what business attire I have for spring that I can still shoehorn my hips in to!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


One of my best friends in the whole world is moving. Tomorrow. Half way across the country from me. We've known each other for nearly 13 years and worked together almost every day for the last twelve. We've fought like teenage siblings and nearly lost our friendship to my being her "boss". Our children have grown up together and our lives have entwined in so many ways over the years. She's listened, understood and prodded me to not be so cautious. I've listened, understood and cautioned her not to be so outspoken. As much as we sometimes drive each other crazy, I can't imagine my life without her.

Another life change, another loss. It never gets easier but we have to keep growing.

I'll miss her a lot.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Films, films and more films

This weekend was the sixth annual film festival in Lake Havasu (www.lakehavasufilmfestival.com). I've always wanted to go so this event but somehow never found the time. I love movies and have wasted many a happy hour in my life watching, discussing and critiquing the film genre with friends and family. This time I got to do all of that with complete strangers too! My kids always say I can talk to anyone if given a few minutes.

Starting at 11 AM Friday morning, thirty films were shown for 11 hours each day of the weekend, ending tonight at 10 PM. The types and topics varied tremendously including feature length films, documentaries, short features and animation. While I would like to say I've seen everything aired thus far, my behind (no matter how well cushioned) just can't handle sitting in a theater seat for 11 hours a day. Thankfully, many of the showing segments are repeated, as most attendees drift in and out.

I loved the documentary on the Karearea pine falcon of New Zealand which combined history, nature and a human interest story of the still photographer made famous in the 70's for his work with these secretive birds.

Two full length features, "An American in China" and "The Flyboys" were both very good with the latter winning best in show. I had mixed feelings about "Beyond the Call" which is a full length documentary on 3 guys who bring aid to remote areas of the world. While they are bringing hope to areas of the world that other does not reach, my social worker boundaries had some issues with what struck me as paternalism at times.

The most disturbing film to me was a documentary on the poligamous Mormons of Colorado City, Arizona and their "prophet" Warren Jeffs. Although I have long been aware of this sect (not acknowledged by the Mormon church) , the depth of the abuse exposed by families who have left the church was horrifying. Although it certainly was not the most popular film of the festival, is perhaps engendered the most discussion.

Well, I'm off to peruse the schedule to see what delights today may hold. The best part - buttered popcorn and the movies are all free!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Grown kids are special

I'm taking time to appreciate my grown kids today. My baby will be 22 in Friday and is coming to visit next week to spend some time with me. Here she is modeling her new hat and scarf I knitted for her.

Despite the fact that we barely survived her teen years(no exaggeration), she has grown in to a lovely young woman and a good friend. In January she showed up for a surprise visit just because she thought I needed the moral support. Later that week she opened her home to me so that I could get away for a few days and regroup before facing the many questions about why I was leaving my long time employer. Now if I can just teach her to knit, we'll have something else to do together! One thing that hasn't changed since her teens are the infamous late night rants but I probably don't need that much sleep anyway.

I also had a chance to talk to my son for an hour on the phone this week (since he is 2000 miles away - sigh). Sure we talk about the plans he and his wife have for their future and how my granddogs are doing. We also talk about movies, music, The Daily Show & Stephan Colbert, politics and our shared passion, the Phoenix Suns. He and I have always been kindred souls and shared a lot of interests but now that he is married, the times we have for just the two of us are few and far between. The upside is that I have a wonderful daughter-in-law who thinks I'm special too.

My granddogs Blue and Stumpy are as close as I'll come to grandchildren for a while and they are very fond of me. I even talk to them on the phone and bring them presents. Now that they are living in the cold Midwest I need to knit some dog sweaters before the snow flies next fall. That fat little weiner dog found the snow very refreshing.

On the progress front, my window sills are painted and blinds in so I can cross that off the list. It is boring to do and write about but I'm glad it's done. Now I have to start putting our many, many, many books back in the bookcases in some sort of order. As a parting note, our cats Merry and Pippin sometimes look like they could serve as bookends.