Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sleepless in Detroit

Last night, I decided to review my retirement account before I went to bed. I do this twice a week. One by one I went through those numbers. As I got to the third one, I started to get excited thinking my ship had finally come in. I had three of the numbers and then my run stopped. I had such a hard time falling asleep after that and had to resort to counting merino sheep. At least I have a $7 winner to reinvest for Tuesday's new jackpot of 212 million. And they say it's hard to make money with current market conditions. What do they know?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Falsie Advertising?

Six years ago, I went to Cancun with my BF Fanny, another friend and my oldest daughter. By day we'd lie by the pool, swim in the ocean and drink exotic cocktails carried to us by uniformed wait staff. It was wonderful. At night we'd try offbeat restaurants and then hit the nightclubs. I've created many vacation rocking chair memories with Fanny that I hope to tap into when I become ancient and decrepit, but this trip was the best.

For 27 years, Fanny has made me laugh longer and louder than any other human on earth. Like me, she is not exactly well endowed. Just to get the illusion of cleavage, we both need all the help we can get from duct tape, miracles and any other push-up type device on the market. Over the years, we've come to accept the way things are, but that doesn't stop a girl from wishing for just a wee bit more in the asset department. Enter the falsies-which have come a long way since the days of using Kleenex to pad things up. One night, Fanny asked to borrow the silicone wonders I had brought along to help me fill out my nearly A B cups. After a few drinks with dinner, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe to listen to some live music and dance. Fanny, always the life of any party, got up on the stage to mime along with the song YMCA and toward the end of her stellar performance, just as she was making the Y with her arms above her head, something gave way and the falsies slipped out. The look on her face of complete mortification is etched in my mind forever. Six years later, I'm still wiping tears from my eyes whenever I think about that trip.

In a what you see, is not what you always get sort of way, the French colonial was an abysmal house. Where do I start with the shortcomings? Perhaps the neighbor's jacked up Ford F-350 was the first sign that all would not go well on this visit. Or could it have been the 4 foot tall heaps of scrap metal and lumber in his yard? From every window in the house, I could see the neighbor's perfect nests for rats. The downstairs of the home was cozy with beautiful French doors in the dining and living rooms. The kitchen was modernized, but a bit small; smaller than Charming's kitchen. The only bathroom had a claw foot tub with a makeshift shower. The kill the deal third bedroom was the problem as one had to walk through the master to get to it. Since it was currently set up as a nursery, I think that's exactly what it was intended to be a hundred years ago. There was a kitchenette on the second floor too that I'm still pondering. At first I thought it had been converted to a multifamily dwelling, but since it had only one bathroom, this made no sense. I don't know what it was for. Perhaps it had been a bathroom that was changed to a kitchen for a homeowner too lazy to go downstairs to make food. Not a single room had closet doors, they all had curtains in front of the closets. It was an odd little home.

Today's photos are of homes in Charming's neighborhood. Gee, what's missing? Junk heaps and jacked up pickup trucks. With every house I see, Charming looks better, warts and all.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Up until recently, I've avoided getting snagged into shopping at Trader Joe's.  I'd go in here and there, buy only what I needed, and leave.  Then I found the Druid Circles, and the frozen Mac and Cheese, and the Columbia black pepper encrusted hard salami, and the vegetarian grape leaves.   Oh, and the four cheese flatbread.  I'm hooked on everything in that place including its charm.  So is everyone else in the house.  No longer do they say, "oh, you went shopping."  These days it's, " Oh!  You went to Trader Joe's!"  This is always followed by a raid on the fridge and cupboards to look for the loot, and empty promises to save me some grape leaves.  I joined a Trader Joe's group on Ravelry for the heck of it.  In return, I've been pointed to products I may not have tried otherwise.

Knitting update:  I have tackled trinity stitch.  I wouldn't call myself an expert, and I'm quite certain the Knitting Guild of America would send me to prison for my crimes against knitting, but I've swatched both in the round and flat, and when I pay attention, I don't lose stitches.  I don't think this stitch is one to do while watching Top Chef.

Frog Kissing Update:  I have a visit to the colonial scheduled for noon Friday.  I hope it's as nice as the pictures seem to indicate.  

Did I mention that both Charming and the French house are located less than a mile from Trader Joe's?  No?  Charming is closer.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


As I was leaving a local hospital tonight, I noticed the car in front of me had vanity plates that completely explain this week's knitting attempts. The lace wrap has been ripped back to a lifeline for the fifth time, and for now, it's in time out. Now that puts a whole new spin on naughty lace. Please don't ask why I'm not putting lifelines in more frequently. I haven't a clue.

In an attempt to show the lace I mean business, I've been doing a little stealth knitting. It's the most beautiful yarn (Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds), but I'm completely befuddled knitting trinity stitch in the round. I've ripped this piece back 3 times. Twice I tried trinity stitch, but each round found me with 4 fewer stitches. If I'm adding three stitches for every three I take away, how is this happening? I know it has a simple answer, but for the life of me, I can't get it to work. Completely frustrated, I tried a slip stitch pattern and thought it was hideous, so I ripped that out too. I finally gave up and knit something with cables. I couldn't possibly mess up cables, could I? I shouldn't curse myself, but it is moving along well and should be done tomorrow. Did I tell you this yarn is stunning? Well it is. I spent the better part of last night (between yarn time outs) in the hunt for a sweater pattern for bulky yarn. The yarn gets 3 stitches to the inch on US 10.5s. Any ideas? Any tips for doing trinity stitch in the round? I'm stymied.

House Hunting Update: I was unable to see the new house today, but I have an appointment at noon on Friday. Like any girl suffering after a bad break-up, I drove past Charming tonight. I think I'm turning into a house stalker. I should see what Charming is doing Friday too. Maybe I should just go through there again before I make a rash decision and completely throw that house out of my life. Maybe we just need a little time alone.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tell Me Lies

I'm sorry to tell you that just like a prince who has been turned into a frog, Charming House has developed a few warts. My entire family has driven past this place at different hours of the day to get a feel for things. Noise was the primary concern and we were all worried about living with something we couldn't change. I recall when I moved out of the house I lived in prior to this place, I promised myself that I'd never live near a freeway again. In a time heals all wounds sort of way, it wasn't the noise I'd forgotten about, it was the constant layer of soot. Freeways are dirty places. Thankfully, I've recalled how hard it was to keep up with the dirt generated only 2 blocks away from the freeway. This new house is separated only by a small yard, brick wall and service drive. Because I have ringing in my ears, I know that constant noise is something that becomes a background hum, but the ever-present soot would annoy the hell out of me, especially when it got into my yarn. I have to think that's as bad as moths in terms of damage.

Charming House has a second -perhaps fatal- flaw, as it's about to be surrendered to the bank. The realtor/owner has thrown in the towel. Although she says she is current on payments, she is not current on taxes and admits to having failed to pay her winter taxes. This home is still on my short list, but I have to be realistic because their asking price covers only the bank note. Since their pricy taxes weren't included in the mortgage, how long would it be before we were booted out? Taxes are around $8,000 a year. If their assets are tapped out, who would make repairs if they were needed? Who would fix the leaky ceiling/roof on the sleeping porch, or a furnace on the fritz? I'm beginning to think of Charming House as a Danger Boy, a sweet talker. I learned a long time ago that it's bad for my mental health to listen to sweet little nothings, especially when whispered by boys who had only their own interests at heart.

For a mere $4,500 a month, you too can imbibe in the lap of luxury.

Being back at square one for house hunting has turned me into a voyeur. It's like peeking into people's windows from a distance. Just today, I found a house that was renting for $4,500 a month and I fell in love with the special bar area they had to offer in the basement. I would have thought that for the asking price, there would have been a more substantial offering of liquor, and a bartender to serve it up. I'd have to consume everything on that tray just to make an offer. I can't afford that much per month, but I wanted to see how the privileged folks lived. You know, like the ones with this fancy bar.

All is not lost as I've found an appealing French colonial, built in 1907, and remodeled just 2 years ago. It has a spacious Dukealicious friendly back yard, complete with a deck, and hey, check out that front porch. It does not come with a bar, but I think I can duplicate the fancy one I saw without a problem. We'll see that house tomorrow, and I'm going to add one more to the list that's been on the market for awhile now. It's a high rise loft in the heart of a busy suburban town. I know it's ultramodern, but I'm willing to keep an open mind. I'm almost over you Charming House.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Today I got a call from a friend asking me if I was her Golumpki Fairy.  It seems someone had left a dish of stuffed cabbage on her doorstep, and for some reason, she thought it may have been me.  We had a good laugh and chatted a bit, then she was off to hunt down the person who'd left her such an amazing treat.  The moment the phone disconnected, I felt sad.  She and I used to work together and there were times when I was indeed her stuffed cabbage fairy.  Since she's single and doesn't cook like this anymore, anytime I made a giant pot of those treats, I took some to her.  I was sad because I miss the camaraderie of working with others and until my week from hell, I didn't really recognize that. 

 At least with others around, I could let off steam and work my way through a difficult problem with the assistance of my colleagues. In the ICU, there were plenty of people willing to help me through a tough spot, not the least of which was a security department.   I'm more or less on my own in this off shift job and on Friday night, there were some tense moments when I didn't feel safe doing my work.  Even with time off from the weekend, I'm still feeling anxiety over that situation.  I've received a couple of calls from people who wanted my take on what transpired, but only one of those calls was from someone who wanted to be sure I was doing OK after my adventure into the snake pit.  

In my line of work, we call this debriefing.  For the most part, this is an informal process although on occasion, it can be very formal and offers the staff an opportunity and venue for decompressing.  Working through problems together as a group of colleagues is like geese flying in formation.  The racket the geese in the back make keeps those in the front going strong.  I miss all that honking.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I got up Sunday morning and while my coffee was brewing, I opened my laptop and clicked on my site. Nothing. I had my picture and title up there. I had all that nonsense I have down the left side of my site and nothing else. A completely blank page. I clicked on my archives. Nothing. There was one blank page after another. I knew some were reading what I'd posted the night before because I had comments in my email. Recalling what a hassle Brenda had because her site wouldn't publish, I worried. A lot. I could kick myself in the butt because I don't back this stuff up. I back up my laptop, but not my blog. It's not written in a word document then copied to blogger. I don't trust Google not to lose my work so I should come up with a different place to store the product of all my wasted time. Don't you agree? After all, I don't want to have wasted it for nothing.

What do you do to protect your ramblings?

Interestingly, the way to fix the particular problem I had is to write a post and press the save button. For some mysterious reason, everything publishes after this repair job. It took one hour to figure that one out. I should have had my coffee first.

And yes, I screech like that when I see a mouse or big ass spiders in the house.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Knee Deep

My brain is complete mush today. Being somewhat thick headed optimistic, I kept thinking that each work day this week would be a bit better than the day before. Boy, am I stupid, or what? I swears it precious, I never used the Q word.

So last night (meaning Friday), I'm at a start of care and get 5 phone calls from the family of that somewhat difficult start of care I'd done the night before. Each one was a different caller, and each one had a different complaint or problem. There were kerfuffles galore going on in that dwelling, and I was about to find myself knee deep in the muck. There I was, all dressed up in my Friday night best without a pair of Wellies to be had.

I was screamed at, threatened, refereed a physical fight between intoxicated people, and then, just to solidify my crappy night, I promptly knelt in urine that soaked my trousers. That. Was. Gross. Believe me, I never imagined running into trouble like this on the job. I visualized what I thought would be more dangerous situations, like unwittingly walking into a crack house, but this kind of trouble never entered my mind. My belief that trouble knows no zip code has been proven, as all of this happened in a very nice area of town. Most people don't let their feelings show in front of strangers, but these were no ordinary people. Pushed to my limits, I let loose with some Houseisms and today, I'm not regretting them a bit. I tell you, some folks are out of their ever-loving minds and stressful situations often bring out the worst behaviors in people.

Now that I've finished the charting and whining, I'm going to put that case behind me. A little birdie told me all was said and done over there and Nurse Rudee need never darken that doorstep again. Praise God-He does answer prayer.

Instead of dark thoughts, I'm going to do something here that has been needing attention for a bit of time now. I'm about to decorate the joint with the awards I've gotten from my blogger pals. It's about time, don't you think? I read Winifred's post about forgetting to post her awards and thought it clever. I even asked if I could steal her post as I thought it was perfect, and obviously, I'm rather sloth-like when it comes to this. Even though she graciously gave permission to swipe her stuff, I'll link you to that post and you can pretend I've plagiarized her work.

This award came first from Brenda, and then from RC. Thank you both very much.

According to the authors of this award, this blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award." Well how about that? I am indeed honored. In return, I'm giving this proximity award to Karen, Sister Jeanne, Gill, Jane, Cheryl, Rositta, Debra and Amy. They all fit well into this category. Now go forth and share the love.

Here is another award I got from Brenda-and probably before she won the shawl. Thank you Brenda, you are a friend indeed. Brenda doesn't care too much for the award process and singling out people to receive them. Me neither, but here are the rules: "These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbon of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. That said, I nominate Rose, Sandy, the Crusty Crone, Betty, Lisa, and Miss376. I also nominate blogless SueB, blogless OWIATW and blogless Ravelry Ruth for their comments.

This Kreativ Blogger Award is one I received first from Amy, and again from Betty. Thank you, thank you. I think the award is self explanatory. Here are the rules for this award:
1. Copy the award to your site.
2. Link to the person from whom you received the award.
3. Nominate 7 other bloggers.
4. Link to those on your blog.
5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominated

I'm passing this one to Riley T Coyote, RC, Flydragon, Brenda, Distracted, Laurie, J'Ollie, Winifred and even though he'll make fun of it, I'm giving it to WT (and it is passed on in good faith.) OK, so that's 8 9. So what? The Grammy Awards has over a hundred categories and probably four times as many nominees. These bloggers make me laugh all of the time and are 10 times better than any Grammy Award show although slightly less better than the Academy Awards. I'd have nominated Little Red, but Duke didn't want me to.

Thanks for trudging through this very windy post, and thank you for the awards. I think someone should give me an award for the most links in one post. Don't you? God, I hope I didn't forget anyone.

Friday, February 20, 2009

What Do You Call This?

Slave Boy took Mr. Larger Than Life to the Casino today-not the one where MLTL cracked his coconut, resulting in a skull fracture and subarachnoid hemorrhage-the one across the river. Slave Boy is just shy of 21 and can't get into Detroit's casinos so they drove south of the border to Canada.

Like any old person, MLTL likes to get to the casino at the butt crack of dawn. Why is that? He doesn't imbibe, but his young companion had a beer before noon to help him cope with the shenanigans that surround his head injured grandfather. If it had been me, we'd have been calling a taxi to drive us home, and the whole world would have known I was a lush by 2 PM. My son is made of more flexible stuff than me.

The youngster was proud he had won a little money and was showing me his winnings Friday afternoon. He said, "it looks like I'm a crack dealer with all these fives and tens." I asked him if he knew what a Michigan Avenue Bankroll was. Of course, I immediately dated myself with that one, and these days, it's a crack dealer's wad. A Bankroll was a stack of singles with a big bill folded over on the outside to make someone think the carrier of said cash, was flush. Usually it was a gangster, or pimp some other worldly type of person carrying his money in this manner.

I found a Michigan Avenue Bankroll as I was leaving a downtown bar one night. That I found it on Woodward Avenue didn't matter in the least, I still identified it by its real name. There wasn't a soul in sight, just me, my girlfriend and a wad of money that was mostly ones and a single one hundred dollar bill.

Do you think I kept it? Would you have kept it? What do you call a wad of cash like that?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Heart's Desire

Just once, I would like to tell my patient's families the way things really are.  For once, I want to open my mouth and have Hugh Laurie's sarcastic wit pop out and tell them what I really think.  For once I want to say, yes I know you think this is all about you, but how do you think the dying patient feels?   Do you think that would hit home for some of these people?  I doubt it.  To say it wasn't a good night is putting it mildly.  It was awful.  I was called to do a stat hospice start of care (the irony doesn't escape me), and became promptly embroiled in family drama-none of which was about the patient.  Perhaps I am a touch jaded this week.  Bring on Friday, I'm ready for a break.

photo Google images

Neighborhood Watch

I'm going on 8 months at my current job and I'm pleased to say, I'm not jaded yet.  Yesterday while making my way home, I had a major disagreement with Tim, my GPS device.  I really didn't want to go the route he wanted me to take home.  This mechanical little man was trying to send me down the worst streets in the city.  I completely ignored him and chose the safer, more populated route, and took us past a crime scene in progress.  Perhaps Tim knew something I didn't.

There were police cars everywhere, and the scene was cordoned off with crime scene tape.  Nobody else slowed, but I did.  Listening to the news today, I got the report and I was surprised, and a little sad.  Seems a store owner took offense to a homeless man urinating outdoors, while on his property, so he shot him.  Dead.  Over pee.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Crazy Man Always Rings Twice

For days, the news stations have been warning us of an epic snowstorm that will start after midnight on Wednesday morning. Tonight, they altered their forecasts to say there will be a coating to an inch or two of snow, surely not the life altering blizzard they warned about. Even so, I'm sure Mr. Larger Than Life has his knickers in a knot over this one.

Saturday, after a half inch snowfall, he called to tell me our snow blower was at his house and he wanted to know if we needed it. It was 8:05 AM. Well actually, he thought he was talking to my husband, and I just played along. I swear, I have a girlie voice, but that's beside the point. I told him we didn't need the snow blower for such a small amount, and by the time we get out of bed, the snow will melt. He was very insistent, wanting to know what my son was doing. Uh, sleeping. I'm not dumb, I knew exactly what he wanted: someone to clean his drive. He can't come right out and say so though, it must always be masked as something beneficial to us. By the time we got going on Saturday, he'd already cleaned his own drive, and then called everyone he knew to let them know we didn't do it for him. When the boys saw him, they were regaled with stories of how much he was sweating while shoveling. As predicted, the snow melted on its own by late morning, and no shoveling was required at our own house.

As obsessed as this man is about leaves, he's ten times worse when it snows. He gets very upset if there is even one flake left on his drive. He used to call when he was out of town and thought it may have snowed at home. He needed to be sure his drive was cleared. As with leaves, there are special implements to use for different areas of the drive and the chore provider must be ever vigilant to adhere to the rules. There is a certain shovel that will tear up the carpet he applied to the front porch. I know that begs the question of why someone would carpet a 6 x 4 foot area, but that's neither here, nor there. That was very expensive outdoor carpet he installed a thousand years ago. Particular care must be taken. When shoveling is complete, liberal amounts of road salt must be applied, and don't bother arguing when it's too cold for salt to melt anything. You'll not get anywhere. One of these days, I'm going to hook him up with Mr. Farmer. I'm sure they'll get along famously.

Tomorrow, I'll be ready for him. When I go to bed tonight, I'll turn the ringer off on the phone. I'm not getting up early to hear about something that will melt by noon.

Photo: Google Images

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Olfactory Nerve Workout

It's not even a pretty moth
I won't bore you with belabor the issue of house hunting much longer.  I know you're all sick of it, as am I.  This entire act of going through the motions to find a house is a waste of time.  You see, my mind is made up and you know, and I know, the noisy house with all of the charm will win the race.  In a futile attempt to make the hunt look good, I saw another house Monday afternoon that was a major disappointment.  The bedrooms were large(r) this time, but the communal spaces were itty-bitty.  There were no porches, not much of a backyard and no space in which to seek solitude when feeling hormonal.  I need space.

The miniature size of the home wasn't what I noticed first, it was the odor. I couldn't quite distinguish what I was smelling.  I kept asking the agent, "what is that smell?"  "God, what is that?"  I think it was a mixture of poop, cat pee and mothballs, or maybe someone died there and was forgotten for awhile.  It stunk.  Of all the aromas, it was the mothballs that worried me most.  If it wasn't already off the list for lack of legroom, the threat of moths eating their way through my stash was a deal breaker.

On my way home from seeing the stinky house, I recuperated by stopping off at my favorite yarn store.  The smell of wool has incredible healing powers for me.  When I told the owners where my dream house was, their response was, "hey, you could walk here."  And yes, I fell off the wagon, but only a little bit.  I don't feel badly though, I consider this to be my financial obligation to healing Metro-Detroit's economy-one skein at a time.  OK, four.  So sue me...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mama Needs a New Pair of Shoes

When all else fails, go shoe shopping.  They weren't on sale, but I couldn't resist and on Sunday, I wore my new Danskos house hunting.  When we walked into a condo, we found carpeting on the stairs that matched my new shoes.  Hmmm.  The condo was not a good match because although-carpeting aside-it was beautiful, there were 3 levels to the place.  I couldn't envision going up 2 flights of stairs to get from the garage to the kitchen.  Too bad, the place was a steal.  Three years ago, the owner bought it for $350,000 and in today's market it's selling for $185,000.  Property taxes are $8,000 a year and association fees add another $2,000 a year. I can't imagine taking such a horrific financial beating.

The best place I've seen so far was yesterday's dream home.  Do you think the leaves on the trees will muffle the sound from the freeway?  My girlfriend says I'm probably getting the dream home because I'm already imagining me and my belongings in the place.  Did I mention it's only 8 doors from a community center that has an outdoor pool and a gym?  Incidentally, it's less than a mile from my favorite yarn store.  I'll keep my mind partially open when I go see another house tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

We'd Need a Shoehorn to Fit

I know nothing is perfect, but I was so hopeful about the house we saw today. When we pulled out of the drive, I said to my husband, "wouldn't it be great to find a new home our first day trying?" It should come as no surprise to me that my dream house came up short. What's surprising is my disappointment. I've been sighing all evening. The nice part was I could look out the window of the family room and see the dome of the aviary at the Detroit Zoo-even though I know the leaves would block my summer view, at least it's something to look at in the winter. The downside was the sound of the interstate one block over and instead of birds, I think all I will hear is the steady drone of the main east-west artery that intersects the city. I drive that highway every single day of my life and there is never a time between 5 AM and 12 AM when that road has no traffic. Maybe Christmas day is the only slow one. Did I tell you the dome of the aviary is beautiful?

Outside those French doors in the living room picture was a small slate tiled porch.I envisioned a nice futon in there and a perfect summer sleeping porch. The only flaw for the tiny porch was the leak in the ceiling. For some reason, I don't think being rained on while I sleep is appealing.

The kitchen had been completely gutted and had brand new maple cabinets, granite counters and beautiful (real) hardwood floors. The kitchen was a quarter the size of my current space. That's not so bad since I rarely cook big meals these days. The living room was beautiful and full of architectural detail that the pictures don't reveal.

The bedrooms were fairly small with the exception of the master bedroom which had built in drawers and small little closets. I'm not much of a clothes horse these days, so I don't think that matters much.  The other rooms were Thumbelina sized.  Not so good when the manchild alone is 6 feet tall.  The last worry in the bedroom category was getting my dream bed up the staircase-could be a problem there.
The agent wasn't helpful on the answers.  We wanted an idea of what it cost to heat the place during the winter.  Her answer was that it depended on how high we set the thermostat.  Duh.  She never really answered the question.  I should have asked how much if she took into consideration that I'm not a hibernating creature and I need a little warmth.  You know, 66-68 degrees, maybe higher during subzero outdoor temps.

Well I'll put it on the short list and get back to the search.  It was almost perfect.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Can I Show You That in a 9?

No porch, but it is on a lovely tree lined street that's walking distance from the zoo.

Have you ever suffered disappointment at the shoe store when you want a particular shoe in your size, and they're all out? I hate that. What I hate more is when the salesperson comes back with the shoe you want in a size smaller than you wear, and asks if that will do. Now if I ask for a size 10 shoe, what makes them think a 9 will fit? I'm beginning to think house hunting is going to mirror my experiences shoe shopping.

The living room-look at that doorwall-and the French doors.

Being a very fickle woman, I've changed my mind about the house I showed you yesterday. Not having seen it in person, I came to the conclusion that 17,000 cars a day was 1 car too many passing by my house. Actually, it was the Google map that done it in-the house was sandwiched between two businesses. I called a real estate agent to cut to the chase for me, and I told the guy that I needed central air and a charming old house. He sent me everything in the book and they all looked awful. I bet he had a previous job selling ill fitting shoes. Really, I don't know what his idea of charming may be, but it certainly didn't match mine.

The knitting room. I picture the shelves lined with yarn baskets and knitting books, and the window sill will be filled with orchids.

So I called another agent (it's not like they're busy in Detroit), and this one, a woman, sent me multiple listings that all seem charming, and exactly what I told her I was looking for. Imagine that. Even the Google images look pretty good. These are pictures of the one I'll go see Saturday afternoon. I'm smitten, so I hope it fits. Maybe I should take my rose colored glasses.

Friday, February 13, 2009


As of April 4th, I'll be homeless.  I need to get off my lazy arse and find a home.  Soon.  I've been trolling Craigslist and I've come up with a couple of options.  Esthetically, I love this house.  Look at that porch!  I can see myself sitting out there, sipping iced tea while I knit in the summers.  The only drawback I can see is it's on a main street.  The ad says it's zoned residential but would be a great place for a business with 17,000 cars passing by daily.    The home is in a very popular suburb that offers much to do and is within walking distance to a very hip downtown area.  The most AMAZING thing is it's about a half a mile from my favorite yarn store.  I'd be able to walk to classes there.  I know if I were closer, I'd be there all the time.  Hey!  Maybe they're hiring....

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Texas Teeth

Concerned about the width of this piece, and wondering if I should have added another 5 stitches, I looked into the lace knitter's crystal ball.  Utilizing the lazy knitter's method (pins, a wet cloth and a screaming hot iron), I blocked the bottom of this wrap and got a fairly relaxed width of 16.5 inches, which is close enough to the pattern's 17 inch width to convince me to keep working for now.

Here is my 39 stitch cast on looking too much like a scarf-not a wrap.

Here is the same piece after a down and dirty blocking job while still on the needles.  This is what I mean about having faith when it comes to lace, and knowing that blocking will open the spaces.  This piece is a staggered lace pattern that's turning out quite nicely.  I love the rich and earthy colors, and the Mountain Colors Alpaca Blend is a dream to knit with.

This blocked section sort of reminds me of the orthodontist my daughter saw when she was a teen.  She had a Lauren Hutton-like tiny gap in her otherwise perfectly straight teeth.  To close the deal and convince her she needed $7,000 worth of work, he told her, "you have what we like to call Texas teeth-lot's of wide open spaces."  At that very moment, she stopped listening to me tell her she already had a nice smile, and I bought her a mouth full of metal.  The orthodontist in the mean time, lives in a lovely Grosse Pointe mansion.  Damn, that would have bought a lot of yarn.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Note to Self

Just because they only come out once a year does not mean you have to eat them all at one sitting.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I'd Like To Use a Lifeline Please

Knitting lace requires faith. While forging forward, the work looks like a blob of yarn and funky stitches. Blocking the piece will reveal the negative spaces and beauty of lace.

When knitting, it's important for me to be able to look at a stitch and emerging pattern to see where I've been, and where I'm going. This ability is referred to as reading the knitting. Once a pattern is established, I should be able to tell if I'm on a right side, or wrong side row, or what the next stitch should be. The rows below supposedly tell me all of that information. Even though I thought I was a good reader, apparently, I'm not so great at reading my knitting.

When I first began to knit in earnest (something other than garter stitch scarves), I elected to knit lace. I joined a knit along (KAL) and jumped into it with all the enthusiasm I could muster. This was also the first time I tried knitting with a chart. It seemed so simple, just another variation on knit and purl stitches with a yarn over here and there. Simple, it was not. In the first place, I had to learn to use symbols in place of written words for instruction. Additionally, charts are read left to right and from the bottom to the top-this was a whole new language to me. In the second place, knitting lace involves creating negative spaces. For every stitch that creates this negative space or hole, there is a corresponding stitch taken away, usually ending a row with the same amount of stitches that there were at the start. How the knitter takes a stitch away is known as a decrease, and can be left leaning, right leaning or centered. Combined with the yarn overs, these stitches create a lace pattern. With the certain knowledge that I was way over my head and drowning, I restarted that project (Pink Lemon Twist's Mystery Shawl) over and over, choosing to rip out every single stitch every time I made a mistake. I was just so confused as to how I should fix dropped or forgotten stitches. Yarn overs preceding a purl stitch were particularly troublesome. I don't know why it took forever to learn to bring the yarn over to the front of the work before I purled, but it did. I'm embarrassed to tell you how many times I restarted Mystery Shawl 3. In microbiogy, we'd say TNTC (too numerous to count). Completely frustrated, I started reading the message boards to glean the insights of more experienced knitters. Surely, I couldn't be the only person with issues.

On the boards, I learned the importance of using a lifeline. A knitter's lucky charm, the lifeline allows me to rip out my stitches down to the line (a piece of contrasting yarn, or dental floss if I'm knitting with lace weight yarn). Some knitters don't need a lifeline and are quite capable of seeing which stitch goes where-all the way down a knitted piece. Either I lack the experience of these fiber artists, or I just can't see things the way they do. Subsequently, I use a lifeline. I always place my lifelines through the stitches of a wrong side row, in this case, a purled row, taking care on the next row, not to knit the lifeline into the fabric-it needs to be left alone. On this particular project, I place the line at the end of the last row of the 4 row pattern. This way, if I have to rip it out because of a mistake, I know I can rip to the end of a 4th row, pick up the stitches and restart at row 1 of the pattern. I'll place my lifelines every 3 or 4 pattern repeats so if I do encounter a problem with my stitches, I'm ripping only a little bit out, not an entire piece. Wisely, I also leave more than one lifeline in- just in case one comes out. Even if I can't be taught to read right, I can be taught tricks to compensate.

Just like my inability to accurately read my knitting, I'm having a hard time reading the verbal and non-verbal messages I'm receiving about my job. I'm staying put for now, and I'm trying really hard to be as optimistic about how things will shake out with my department as I am about how the lace will block. Wish I had a lifeline for this decision.

Monday, February 9, 2009

We Interrupt This Knitting Time for a Mini-rant

Tonight we'll get to hear what our new president has to say about the economic stimulus bill he wants passed.  You know, the number just keeps growing and I find it hard to think in terms of hundreds of billions of dollars, it  all seems so insane.  I feel so small-and to think I was so proud of my piddling raise this year.  Actually, they can keep the raise if it means I keep my job.

Part of the money President Obama has asked for is supposed to go for fixing our infrastructure.  I'm all for that.  It beats a bridge to nowhere, and if it saves me from hitting potholes the size of manhole covers, well it won't be a minute too soon.  Driving at night, it's hard to see those enormous holes until you've hit them and caused damage to your car.  Ask me how I know.  

A word on the cabinet nominees if you please.  We've had one nominee after another bow out because of shady dealings in the past.  Well dammit, if you know you haven't paid your taxes, admit you're an ass to your president, and decline the invitation.  Are you waiting for the monkey on your back to just go away? It doesn't work that way.  The other side is always looking for a way to bring this side to their knees, for God's sake, don't hand it too them on a silver platter.  Now, a word about my taxes.  My God!  I pay my taxes Mr. Nominee, why don't you?  If I owed $100,000 in back taxes, I'd leave town, right after I finished throwing up.  I'm so sick of this game between the haves and the have nots.

All better now.  Today's mantra is *yo, SK2P, yo, K1*  repeat from * to *.  Yes!  I'm knitting lace in Mountain Color's Apaca Blend-Bitterroot Rainbow colorway.  It's stunning.  So far I'm still playing with it, but I think it wants to be a wrap when it grows up.  If you're on Ravelry, you can find the pattern here.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Under the influence of Grayson Cabernet Sauvignon, I bought the Ralph Lauren sweater last night.  I think it's beautiful, and worth every penny.  Considering the yarn, and the time and effort expended, the original price would have been worth every penny for a hand knit item.  Upon request, I've knit some things for people and I've never charged more than the value of the yarn-never taking into consideration how many Rudee hours have gone into the item.  When I look at items others have made, I usually think a work of art is worth the asking price.  Even though I'm sure this Ralph sweater is mass produced, the yarn alone makes it worth the $50 I purchased it for.  But really, what was I thinking?  I tried it on at the store and though the mirror didn't lie, my wine addled brain told me I could fix that horrible hem.  Ralph, what were YOU thinking?

Here are my options:
  • Wear it as is, because even though it makes my arse look enormous, darling, I'm fabulous as is, and so is this sweater.
  • While wearing it, tell everybody I decided to go off my meds.
  • Undo the side seams (machine sown), and unravel the hideous hem.  Finish by knitting a 2 X 2 rib.
  • Steek and hem.  I've never steeked a thing in my life, but Elizabeth Zimmerman recommended a lie down afterwords to get over the shock.  This leads me to think that such a treatment may give me the vapors.
  • Find the receipt and look for something that highlights my assets in a more humane manner.
What would you do?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

What Have I Done?

In an effort to make life feel more normal, I took my oldest 2 kids out for an overpriced dinner at Brio.  I had two glasses of Cab with my steak, and tried hard to forget about yesterday.  The family doctor called to see how my son was and apologized for being an alarmist.  I don't think he was.  I think he did a good job, even though I've been like putty since yesterday.  Considering he has a pretty serious underlying cardiac condition, I think it's reasonable to put dizziness and cardiac abnormality together.  Frankly, I'm relieved all is well.  We're starting to think something may be wrong with the latest prescription my son had filled.  The medication is correct, but since he had it filled, he's been feeling like he's drunk and dizzy.  He's doing a trial off the meds with the blessing of the cardiologist.  He's less dizzy today.

Since we were having dinner at the mall with the intent to take advantage of Macy's wear red and take an extra 20% off, we went shopping after dinner.  I bought a cute winter jacket for $22.  Then I went into the Ralph Lauren department and bought a hand made sweater that's cabled and has ruffled cuffs and hem.   I'm going to cannibalize the thing to get rid of the hideous hem.  Really, it looks like a tutu which is not flattering.  On me, it's too-too much.  Without, it'll be a thing of beauty.  Original price was $280.  I got it for $50.  Tomorrow, it's gonna be me, my new Ralph sweater, a pair of scissors and some knitting needles.  I can't wait.  I'll take before and after pictures.

Uh.  This doesn't  count as buying yarn, does it?  Nah.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The New Squeaky Wheel

Well it seems only fitting that today, National Red Dress Day,  I'd talk about the heart. 

My son is a wonderful man.  Growing up, he never really caused me any trouble.  I'm sure he's responsible for one or two of my gray hairs, but certainly not all of them.  He was just 18 months old when my youngest was born, and he spent many years in her shadow.  Her overwhelming needs most certainly dwarfed his own.  

When my son became a teen, he began to complain about his chest feeling funny.  He'd say his heart felt like it was beating out of his chest and he was short of breath.  Every single time I'd listen to his heart or take his pulse, it was completely normal.  My dad and my neighbor had just died so I thought he'd found a physical way to express his grief.  Then one day he complained and I found this boy's pulse was racing so fast, I couldn't keep count.  I took him to the ER where they hooked him up to a monitor which showed nothing abnormal, just plain old vanilla sinus rhythm.  How boring.  We couldn't make his heart act up until the nurse stuck his arm with a needle.  Immediately, his heart rate jumped to 200 on the monitor and just as fast as the catheter was advanced in his arm, the rhythm was gone.

We were discharged home that day and followed up with a cardiac electrophysiologist.  My son had an electrophysiology (EP) study with empiric ablation.  More or less, the doctor zapped the tissue in the general area he thought was causing the problem.  It didn't really help except now when my son felt the rapid rhythm coming on, it was always preceded by a thump he could feel.  We were back to square one.  We changed doctors and over a few weeks, my son wore a cardiac event monitor which he'd press whenever he felt his heart racing.  You know it's not good when a cardiologist calls your home on a Saturday and starts talking about sustained heart rates of 200 to 220. We saw a different EP doc who took him to the cath lab and tried again to fry the piece of tissue in his heart that was causing his condition of AVNRT, but because of sedation, they were unable to get the heart to act up during this visit.  Sick of it all, we looked to medications to help, and through trial and error, found the drug metoprolol to be the most beneficial.  For years, he's been stable and I can look at him without thinking of his heart.

Fast forward to today.  Thinking nothing of it, I sent him to the doctor for dizziness.  I'd checked his blood pressure, heart rate and listened to the rhythm.  I thought I heard a new murmur but didn't think much of that.  Just as I was getting ready for work, the phone rang.  It was the family practice doctor telling me he thought my son had signs of an aortic aneurysm and he was concerned about a prominent new carotid bruit.  WHAT???  I did what any seasoned ICU nurse would do:  I broke down sobbing.  I'm telling you, I was chicken little and called to anyone who would listen that the sky was falling.  Wisely, one of them was the cardiologist.  She, who is the voice of reason, called the cardiology department at the small hospital I used to work at and had them stay late to see us.  Today, we've had one meltdown, one 2 D Echo with Colorflow Doppler and one Bilateral Carotid Artery Ultrasound.  All was well.  There is no aortic aneurysm, no bruit and I am a useless blob of spent energy with several new gray hairs.  My sweetyheart  is still dizzy, but he is not in an operating room.  Now may be a good time to crack that bottle of red-it's the right color for today.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet

Is it possible that I'll become a victim of the next round of layoffs in my health system?  I'm trying really hard to keep my calm in respect to the news that my system is looking for a way to shave $100,000,000 from its operating budget.  I thought I was bullet proof, but clearly, I'm misguided.

Do I keep my calm, waiting to see how the dust settles?  Or should I start looking now?  I'm torn.  I don't want to be caught in a flood of hospice nurses looking for work a month from now...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Games People Play

There is a little game that's played in my home.  For the life of me, I can't recall the origins of the game, except to say that I think it began out of boredom.  Someone in my home sets up little animals all around the house.  They're for protection.  From what, I don't know...

Here we have a goose protecting the coffee pot and stash of coffee beans. I don't know why the pot needs to be protected, but that's the purpose of the goose.

It would seem the jungle animals were let loose in my bedroom. Now either they're a bunch of voyeurs, or they're there to protect me. All of them are facing my bed. I can't figure out why the horse is lying on top of the hut.

Obviously, someone has watched too much of The Godfather. I'm not quite sure of the meaning of this horse's head on my pillow, but that's what I found when I went to bed last night.  

Over the years, I've tried to tell people how quirky my husband family is, but I think the photographic evidence speaks for itself. You know, they say there isn't anything out there in this big world of ours that hasn't been said or done before.  I'm not sure, but I think this may just be an original game.

Do you live with odd people too?

One Thing Leads to Another

I am always amazed at the places my mouse can take me. Just point and click, or press enter, and I'm a world away. Today I was looking for news on Mt. Redoubt in Alaska. There are warnings this volcano could erupt at any time. One thing lead to another, and there I was looking at webcams from all over Alaska. No eruptions yet, but those people have drawn my pity just the same. The sun doesn't rise until 9:27 AM and sets at 5:22 PM. Honestly, I don't know how they do it! At 5:15 PM Monday, I had to wear my sunglasses while driving. I guess I should quit whining about the hardships here-at least we get about 2 extra hours of daylight than Alaska. That has to be awful. Of course, they get long days in summer, so maybe to them, it evens out. Here's hoping the volcano goes back to sleep.

On the knitting front, I came across a really cool website for yarn.  In an effort to keep from spending my retirement money, I didn't buy anything, and I didn't bookmark the site.  I'm having a harder time staying away from this month's Lorna's Laces at Jimmy Beans.   I've resisted for two lousy days. What are the chances I'll stumble?   Luckily, I've been waylaid by something else. While reading Wendy's blog, I saw the Stash Buster Blanket she's making and fell hard. It looked like it was knit, but it isn't. It's Tunisian crochet, and I'm smitten. This type of crochet is a cross between knitting and crochet.  I like that it's a stash buster blanket-the faster I get rid of stash, the faster I can buy again, so I bought the pattern at Stitchdiva and chrocheted a swatch. The pictures above represent a couple of hours of fiddling around with the different stitches. Tunisian crochet calls for big hooks and the one I'm using is a bit too small. Before I invested in the needle ($30) I'm trying to decide if I like this type of work. If you click on the picture, you can see the stitches in close up. When using the Tunisian simple stitch, the work appears woven. The familar V of a knitted stitch lies sideways. Like knitting, there are all sorts of ways you can manipulate the stitches to create others-including knit and purl stitches. Although Stitchdiva has a great written instructions I found a video tutorial. Not one to like traveling alone, I've provided many links. Now one thing can lead to another for you too.

Monday, February 2, 2009

It's What's For Dinner

Should he happen to see his shadow, things will not go well for the groundhog.

Searching for something good to do with groundhogs, I found this recipe on a Michigan outdoor website -they apparently got it from Herb. My commentary is in red to represent what I'll be seeing if that groundhog delivers the wrong result, because frankly, I don't think I can bear another 6 weeks of winter.

Waco Groundhog in Sour Cream

Recipe By: "Indian Cookin", compiled by Herb Walker, 1977

1 Groundhog, skinned & cleaned (who can I pay to do this deed?)
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
2 quarts water
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup bacon fat (apparently the fat in the groundhog is not enough)
3 small wild onions (currently buried under a foot of snow)
1/2 cup water
1 cup sour cream

Skin and clean the groundhog ( this may be my first problem). Wash and dry and put in an earthen crock (why do I have to dry it when it's going into liquid?). Cover with water and a half cup of vinegar and 1 T. of salt. Let stand in a cool place overnight (don't worry, nothing bad could come of this, right?).

 In the morning, remove from brine, wash and pat dry with a damp cloth (again with patting dry then immersing in water). In a large soup kettle combine 2 qt. of water and 2 T. of soda. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer meat for 15 minutes, removing the scum (mmmm, scum) as it rises to the surface. Drain and rinse the groundhog meat and cut into serving pieces.

 Combine the flour, salt and allspice and dredge the pieces of meat in the mixture. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Melt the bacon fat in a heavy iron frying pan until smoking (nice combo of smoking hot and bacon fat- I'll keep a lid nearby in case I start a kitchen fire). Brown meat on all sides. Transfer the browned meat into a greased 4 qt. casserole. Arrange sliced onions on top, add water, cover and bake in a preheated oven for 2 hours or until the meat is tender (must be tough if I have to brine, boil, fry, and then braise).

 Transfer the meat to a heated platter to keep warm. Put the casserole on top of the stove over medium heat and spoon in the sour cream stirring constantly (this is needed either because the groundhog and bacon don't add enough fat, or the flavor is dreadful and I must mask it-I'm just not sure). Do not let the sauce come to a boil. Put the meat back into the casserole and simmer for about 15 minutes. Delicious served with creamed dandelion leaves (now where will I find dandelions on February 2nd in Michigan?).

On second thought, maybe I should make reservations for dinner. After looking at this guy's freaky little fingers, I've come to the conclusion that this recipe has too much fat...

Photo Wiki Commons

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Just Another Day

We had a repeat of last Saturday's adventures in roommate screenings. I had a meeting with the advocate who'll oversee this assisted living arrangement, and we came to an agreement about creepy dad. He won't be visiting anyone who lives here, and he'll have to find a different home for his daughter to live in. It won't be Rachel's. I feel so much better about getting this off my chest, and I'm so appreciative of everyone's advice on this site.

Moving forward, we have 2 women in their early fifties, Miss Rachel who will turn nineteen this month, and a young lady in her mid twenties. All of them are very warm, friendly and charming. I'm so excited about this. Rachel is the most profoundly impaired of the four, but everyone needs supervision. At least my daughter won't be surrounded by people as impaired as she is, and I'm hopeful this situation will give her the opportunity to grow and learn from others.

Duke did OK with all of the women who visited, and their families, but he did not like the man who was doing some repairs here. Subsequently, the dog was banished to the back yard for about 20 minutes. You'd have thought I'd sent him to purgatory. When he came in, he was shivering like crazy so the kids bundled him up in my brother's Michigan blanket. That's what he gets for leaving this handmade gift just lying around like yesterday's trash. It was reclaimed, and as you can see, it's clearly gone to much better use.

Sebba was kind enough to model my neck warmers for me. I used cute silver buttons on the amethyst colored piece and some shell buttons on the other. I haven't blocked the lavender piece yet, so I don't think it lies as well as it will once I blast it will a little water and heat. Thank you Sebba-you really do showcase my work well.

The mittens are another story. It would seem I was nervous during these visits again, and I got a little carried away. The gauge was fine, but the length was simply too long. I just kept knitting around, and around and around. Knit 2, place thrum was my mantra, and I wasn't paying any attention to what my hands were doing-just sitting there channeling my anxiety into my knitting. Oh well, what's a little frogging? It keeps me humble.

***If you want to learn to do the thrum mittens, you can go here to see a tutorial. When placing the thrum, I insert the needle and wrap the yarn around it like for a regular stitch. Before I pull it through, I  place the thrum on the needle and pull them both through together. On the next row, knit the thrum and corresponding stitch together. This gives me the best stitch definition. They really are cozy-if a little huge at present. I'll frog tomorrow. For now, I've again been lead astray by--Heaven help me--crochet. More on that later.***