Laboring

It’s Labor Day here in the US, and a day set aside to honor the men and women who tirelessly sit at a desk all day and create stacks of paper that mean virtually nothing.  Having been in such a job myself in earlier times, I can safely say that this day has virtually nothing to do with reality or sense.  Much like this blog.

I believe it also honors the union workers, who historically labored under dire working conditions without any job security or dignity, and it is due to these unions that we now have the five day work week, minimum wages, and a song that urges us to look for the union label.

Here’s my labor takes:

  • I’m not in labor.
  • I’m not laboring, as I am still without employment.
  • I’m not doing any labor because it’s hot and humid outside and I’m fairly caught up inside.
  • I don’t own a labor-atory.
  • I don’t know anyone having a Labor Day cookout, so it looks like dinner is up to me.

Share your mundane Labor Day so I don’t feel quite so laboriously underwhelmed.

 

For all you hard workers out there.

For all you hard workers out there.

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MOAR Knitting

I told you I finished a blanket, didn’t I?  Did I show you a picture?  Do I expect you to answer me instead of me just checking my archives?  Apparently.

True colors.  Thank you, outdoor lighting.

True colors. Thank you, outdoor lighting.

This was an attempt to recreate a crocheted ripple pattern that my mother-in-law started for my niece before MIL passed away.  I didn’t block it, because it’s a blanket and it’s supposed to have some good squish factor happening.

Artistic drapery on deck railing.

Artistic drapery on deck railing.

This picture is to help see the size and also just how cracked and unconditioned the wood on my deck has become.  Where is my custodial crew when I need them?

Yay, crappy lighting!

Yay, crappy lighting!

And that’s the human holding the blanket to see the perspective.  Okay, I should stop calling it a blanket and call it a lap warmer.  Those ends have been woven in and it’s just waiting to be delivered.

So what am I knitting now?

 

A baby blanket.  I must love not thinking while I knit.

*yawn*

*yawn*

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Make it So

Getting organized is one of those things I put in capital letters in my head.  I have all sorts of ideas (Pinterest has a lot of unrealistic expectations, by the way) of what I’d like to do to corral the chaos in my home.  I want my bookcases to be functional, not works of art, but I don’t think they should be crammed full of every volume I own, jammed willy-nilly in whatever way gets the most stuff in.  I want my most-loved books available, plus all my knitting reference books, plus books that hold a special meaning to me and mine.  Instead, I have the most eclectic and what-the-elf collection of titles and bindings interspersed with “gift books” like 1001 ways to say thank-you to God which I’d really like to get rid of but how do you throw out such a well-meaning gift?

Knick-nacks can Die In a Fire as far as I can see.  At this point in my life, those carefully saved dust-collectors are nothing more than symbols of how much money was wasted in the pursuit of symbolizing important moments and displaying them on shelves and surfaces.  For what?  Am I likely to forget that I got engaged, married, and had two children?  No, but I’ve got the Precious Moments (purchase-remorse included free!) to prove it.  How many vases do I need?  If somebody sends me flowers through a delivery, they come in a vase.  If Hubby hands me flowers, I get out one of the two or three vases that holds meaning for me and I don’t look at the 1-800-look-here’s-more-clutter vases I have lined up on a shelf or seven.  

There are two things I don’t mind being strewn about the house: photos of loved ones, and Hubby’s German stein collection.  He is discerning and pragmatic when buying a new stein, and he has to really love it before it comes home with us.  And every single one has been used, so they are not “just for show” and so they are allowed to stay and I get to rearrange them whenever I want (which really means whenever he’s not looking.)  

I like having things contained in boxes and baskets so they are easily accessed and I know where they are.  Unfortunately, we live with a dangerous spirit which tends to countermand my wishes.  I’ve never seen this spirit but I know he exists, because if I send out the general query “Who left this bowl of dried-up food in the family room?” and nobody answers, I know it was the dangerous spirit.  After all, my family would never lie to me or pretend they didn’t hear me or be dishonest about clearing up after themselves.  No, it’s the spirit of disarray and discomfort, who knows just how to push my buttons and get me cranky.  He is the one perpetuating this myth that I can control the clutter.  He is the one who builds mysterious piles of paper interspersed with that receipt we’ve all been looking for.  He’s the one who apparently owns 27 shoes that are always in my way, and he must be the one who leaves crumbs all over the damn counters.  

If I didn’t have to live with him, I’m sure my home would look just like a Pinterest board.  Pardon me while I peruse the Container Store website.

My Monday mantra

My Monday mantra

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Saturday Shenanigans

We received a lovely and thoughtful anniversary gift from Younger Daughter: a Groupon for a wine, chocolate, and strawberry festival.  Sounded like lots of fun, and something to look forward to after vacation.  The location was two hours away in New York, and we debated getting a hotel room and turning it into a mini vacation.  Everything local was booked, however, so we decided to just make a day of it.  

We envisioned wandering the grounds of the winery, sampling certain wines paired to go with different kinds of chocolate and strawberries galore, perhaps some music, some Adirondack chairs (even though we were in the Catskills – do they make Catskill chairs?  Do they kill cats to get them?  Oi, sorry cat lovers!)  and maybe buying a meal to soak up the alcohol and make us safer drivers.  Doesn’t that sound like a lovely picture?

Well.  It was a lovely day, but much different than I thought.  It wasn’t exactly a vineyard, it was more like a house that had a barn in the back that had an area for entertaining.  We were directed to “the kitchen” which was right behind the welcome counter (which coincidentally was also the check-out counter) to be given our plates.  This was a small paper plate that had a mini brownie bite, a small square of cheesecake, a half slice of poundcake with strawberries on it, and a chocolate-dipped strawberry.  We were then directed to “the bar” which was right next to “the kitchen” and was the site of the tasting.  

It was interesting to taste the different wines, and most of them were fruit-based.  There was raspberry, strawberry, black raspberry, and apple, none of which I liked because I really don’t like sweet wine.  To me, it’s like drinking a glass of jelly you’ve put through a strainer.  The merlot and chardonnay were okay, not great.  We bought two bottles of a white that was a little sweet (for Hubby and Older Daughter) and a port which I’d never tried and decided I immediately liked once I felt the warmth of the brandy it was mixed with flooding through me.  

The entire wine “experience” took 35 minutes after our two hour drive and we’d had maybe a total of 1/2 cup of wine.  Our nibbles were so cloyingly sweet it was a little disconcerting, but there were no crackers or cheese to have between tastings so I was forced, FORCED I TELL YOU, to consume all the sweets.  Except my chocolate-covered strawberry.  When I cut it open to take a bite, it was completely white inside; I quietly pushed the plate aside and whispered to Hubby “no, I don’t think so.”

We left, smiling at the hosts, then got in the car.  

“I am SO  glad we did not get a hotel for tonight.”

“Yeah, what would we have done?”

We looked around.  And around.  And around some more.  

“Apparently nothing.”

“So, home?”

“Can we get some food first?”

Hubby smiled.  

We ate at an Italian-American-Mexican place and took the pizza.  They had penne pizza.  Of course I ordered it.  It’s pizza with penne on top!  Behind the place there was a farmer’s market, so after we finished wrestling the yellowjackets for our lunch, we investigated.  There were three vegetable stands, four stands selling honey and honey-related products, two baked-good stands, and one Italian cheese stand.  We bought corn, peaches, and the season’s first apples, and tried really hard not to listen to the folk singing trio who made me feel sad that they had obviously lost their way to 1973.  They looked to be about 65, two men and a woman but an extremely far cry from Peter Paul and Mary.  (I’m fairly certain Peter Paul and Mary took regular showers.)  The long grey hair, the macrame vest and long skirt, sandals, and the guitar cases covered with old and cracked stickers made me want to peer around the corner for the sure-to-be-there VW mini bus.

I’m sorry if that makes me sound snarky, because I don’t mean to be.  I tend to project when I do my people watching and imagine what people are thinking and doing and feeling and this blog is like being in my imagination, so I’m really sorry.  For you.  In my imagination.  

But now I’m home, I’ve had a cup of tea, and I’m trying to stay off the internet so I won’t see anything about Dr. Who since we’re all going to watch it tomorrow as a family instead of tonight while Older Daughter is working.  Looks like I need to knit.

Speaking of which…

Here is the t-shirt I knit in bamboo.  I love it!  It kept me very cool during the ridiculous heat of Florida, and I love the color (which is the truest in the cable picture).

I hate doing selfies because it looks like I'm thrusting my chesticle area in your face and I'm not that kind of girl unless you buy me a drink first.

I hate doing selfies because it looks like I’m thrusting my chesticle area in your face and I’m not that kind of girl unless you buy me a drink first.

Sleeve detail for those of you who care about such things, and among my friends, that's quite a few of you.

Sleeve detail for those of you who care about such things, and among my friends, that’s quite a few of you.

I won't even go into the ridiculous pose I had to strike to capture the cable detailing going down the side...but there's nothing too awkward for my readers.  Wait, I didn't mean that.

I won’t even go into the ridiculous pose I had to strike to capture the cable detailing going down the side…but there’s nothing too awkward for my readers. Wait, I didn’t mean that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Till we meet again, poppets.  

 

 

 

 

 

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And Another Thing, Chefs…

Dear Chefs,

I know you work very hard and your reputation goes out on every plate you serve.  I can’t imagine being in a hot, steamy kitchen (see many previous whines posts about humidity and me) bending over all the time and getting what I’m sure is a walloping backache, and having to do the same dish over and over until you want to use a fork to pluck out your own eyeballs.  (Maybe a little too dramatic?)

What I don’t understand is why you need to sabotage food.  If you offer lobster, and I want to eat it, wouldn’t you think I’d want to taste the lobster?  Lobster is damn tasty food, and I don’t even need the melted butter, so why on earth would you present me with a blanket of brown stuff that looked like it should have been stuffing (which is normally reserved for bland food like turkey, not my beautiful lobster) and tasted like a salt repository?  It literally made my dinner inedible, and I couldn’t really taste anything after that, either.  Why?  Did you have a fight with your spouse?  Did you shuffle this dish off to an underling?  Are you unsure of the labels in your spice cabinet?

There’s another habit that I don’t understand.  You present a beautiful ribeye steak, perfectly done and practically a work of art.  On my first heavenly morsel, I bite down on cracked peppercorn so thick it literally made my eyes water and my breath stop in my throat.  After emergency applications of bread and water, I ask for the menu.  Scanning it, I see no description of “peppercorn encrusted” or “spice-rubbed” or anything remotely hinting at the fire in my throat.  Why, Chef?  Why you gotta sabotage me like that?  I scrape off the stuff as completely as I can, but my mouth is still burning from the pepper, and I really can’t taste anything else.  I love ribeye steak almost as much as lobster, and I am sad at this latest turn of events.

One last thing, and I promise I’m done.  I’m a fan of onions when they are fried, frizzled, or sauteed, but not when they’re raw.  Again, if I don’t see anything on the menu warning me of the impending danger, and you serve me a dish where you’ve cleverly hidden the raw onions underneath something else, I’m not going to be happy.  You have rendered my palate temporarily disabled and I won’t be able to taste anything else.  Unless, of course, that’s your master plan, that you don’t want me to taste the food for whatever nefarious reason you have in which case may I suggest you apply for a job with a local spy company?  I hear the NSA is looking for a few good folks.

A tip, if I may: STOP SMOKING.  Your mouths are coated in tar and nicotine so you are salting a peppering and hotting up your food so you can get past all those barriers you’ve put in there, and taking it out on us poor unsuspecting souls who just want to eat your glorious food even at the overinflated prices you charge.  It wasn’t until all those cooking reality shows came on that I realize every damn one of you smokes and you’re killing me with first hand heat instead of second hand smoke.

Hugs and kisses,

Your frustrated diner

OUCH MY MOUTH!

OUCH MY MOUTH!

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I Am A Glutton

So to celebrate Younger Daughter’s college graduation, we took a little trip south to the land of the Mouse.  Stellar planning on our part, yes indeed.  Florida.  August.  95 degrees.  Thunderstorms every day.  And HUMID.  People had trouble telling me and the Lion King apart.  But we did have fun, we did indulge in food, and we walked freakin’ everywhere.  Disney, you really need to look into moving sidewalks.  Having to walk two miles in such heat just to get to the entrance is a bit cruel.

We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort, which is lovely, and has a fairly quick bus service.  I have discovered on this trip (and I would say this is my sixth visit) that I really am not a fan of the Magic Kingdom.  (Listens for gasps of horror, contemplates striking out last sentence, soldiers on.)  I like Epcot the most, followed by Hollywood Studios.  I wonder if Buzzfeed has a quiz about that, along the lines of “What Disney theme park are you most compatible with?” or “What does your preferred Disney theme park reveal about you?”  (Note to self: contact Buzzfeed.)  Epcot has two distinct areas that are appealing, especially the ride Soarin’ and the wonderful water features.  World Showcase is just so cool and we did our best to have an adult beverage at each country.  We missed Morocco (because we thought they didn’t have any) and Norway (because we didn’t think beer would go well with cloudberry horns and schoolbread).  It’s very weird to drink all that and not get a single bit of a buzz because you are SWEATING IT OUT AS SOON AS IT GOES IN.

The highlight, however, was going over to Universal to see Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley.  So worth it!

So real.

So real.

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That little guy perched amongst the owls is Ioan the Sheep.  He is wearing a Hufflepuff scarf knitted by Younger Daughter.  He actually had outfits for most of Disney, too, and some confused but amiable people posed with him:

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Older Daughter crafted the moose antlers.  You would not believe some of the outfits…but I don’t have photos as I was not part of the journalistic foray.

It makes me ridiculously happy that my 24- and 21-year-old daughters still enjoy vacationing with us, and how much fun we genuinely all had.  Turkey leg, anyone?

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Snap Out Of It

When I was little, I hated having to stop what I was doing and go take a bath.  It would almost move me to tears and I couldn’t understand why it always had to be at the moment I was having the most enjoyable time.  I would finally haul myself into the tub, enticed with copious amounts of Mr. Bubble in the pink box, and soak away.  Invariably, once I actually began enjoying the sensation of the tub and the warm water and the diamond-like bubbles, I was told to stop what I was doing and get out of the tub.  Why did it always have to come at the most enjoyable time?  This was my first inclination that I didn’t relish transitions.

Those who only know me as an adult will no doubt be shocked to learn that I wasn’t a particularly chatty child.  I kept a lot of thoughts to myself, and had lovely conversations in my head and told myself wonderful stories and kept things pretty tidy in there.  When real life tugged, it was always an effort to leave one world and join the other, unless there was some signal that I would particularly enjoy the change: the jangling of the ice-cream truck, for example.

As a woeful adolescent (and who isn’t?  Woeful, I mean.  Adolescence is a particularly woeful time.) I nurtured all my supposed injustices and hurts and indignities until I was filled with absolute lists of how I had been wronged and how justice should be served.  (And inside my head, I was always redeemed and accepted it graciously.  Outside my head is another story.)  Just like a compulsive personality, I kept checking my list to see if the scales and tipped my way yet and when they hadn’t, I felt even more aggrieved.

I have since come to realize these were all telltale signs.  When my girls were about 7 and 5, I visited my doctor.  “I think something is wrong with me emotionally,” I began.  “I seem to have an inability to let go of my emotions.”  He asked a few questions here and there, then said almost casually, “Any history of depression in your family?”  Blinking, I said that both my mother and her brother were clinically depressed, but what did that have to do with me?  Depression, he told me, wasn’t always manifested as sadness; it could be vast mood swings, a change in personality, a tendency to hang onto intense feelings longer than what was considered healthy….BINGO.  He explained I needed medication to even out the messages that were misfiring in my brain.  The medication would just smooth things out, and I would always be on it, and I wouldn’t have these outrageous bouts of FEELINGALLTHETIMELIKETHISOHMYGODRIGHTNOWYOUHAVETOFEELWHATIFEEL any longer.  Once I got my head wrapped around the fact I had a condition and I should treat it like diabetes or allergies or anything else that needed to be maintained, I felt a lot better.

I felt even more better about six weeks later, when I was talking with a friend about medication.  She said she had started it too, but hadn’t really noticed a difference yet.  I said I’m not sure if mine had kicked in either, then I looked at my husband.  He immediately said “Believe me, it has.”  While I laughed at that quick response, I realized that depression wasn’t just about me, but everyone who loved me and didn’t know what tools were needed to deal with me.

I am grateful every day to that doctor.  When I had a breakdown that caused me to leave the profession I love, I could only imagine how much worse it would have been had I not been on medication.  I am also grateful that I never had the depths of depression that made me want to check out of the only life I have, but I can so very much understand those that teeter on that brink.  To me, it’s like looking at the sky, knowing it’s been blue your whole life, but it’s not blue lately and nobody you ask about it can see the same sky you insist is there, so you are alone in your perception and you wonder (as we all do with those singular perceptions) if there’s something wrong with you.  When that becomes the daily reality, it is not an easy existence, and you wonder when it will be over so you can stop pretending.

There have been a lot of lectures on the internet saying that suicide is not freedom, don’t glorify it, don’t show hugs and freedom together, don’t call it something it’s not in case you influence a younger person into doing the same thing.  All I can say to that is put on the shoes before you walk the path.  We’re all processing it differently.

And with that, I leave you with this:

I'll never not give hugs.

I’ll never not give hugs.

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