Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tangents and Distractions, Part II

During the blizzard, I actually did get a few things accomplished. First, I finished quilting and binding a small experiment. I used two Anna Maria Horner fabrics (the cream and the brown) with a solid pink for an Irish-chain style baby quilt. The brown fabric gets lost here, though, and those yellow circles simultaneously remind me of jelly fish and alien spaceships. This is a classic case of great fabric, wrong pattern. Or, rather, the scale of the brown print needed bigger blocks to really shine. My niece Grace loves it, though, so it might just be me. It's pretty small, since I didn't put a border on it, but would be a good stroller blanket or a preemie quilt.

I also finished piecing another small baby quilt, similar to this one. Although I'm usually not a fan of this particular shade of green, the happy spring colors were lovely to work with whilst a blizzard raged outside. And it's all simple 5" block piecing and strips for the borders. Easy-peasy.

And then finally, I hauled out a project from at least two years ago. (Yet another) Irish chain project, using a couple of funky Indian batiks. It's an intercultural quilt, tee hee! It's not a great photo, but the yellow is a bit mottled, and the turquoise blue is not a solid, it actually has little gold/orange flowers scattered on it. I started this one for me, and I apparently meant to make a very large quilt as I keep sewing and sewing and the fabric pile does not get discernibly smaller.

I am not 100% sold on the yellow, truth be told. But the blocks are half sewn, so I guess I'm committed to seeing it through. The other thing is, when I pulled this out of my unfinished pile, I realized how much it reminds me of my niece Julia, whose favorite color is blue and who recently painted her room a bright sunshiny yellow (just like her). And I'm thinking this may wind up on her bed, not mine. We'll see, though; she made some comments at Christmas that made me think she was just about ready to help sew her own quilt :-)

And, y'know, *phew*. I was feeling like I hadn't accomplished a thing this week, and after writing these past two posts I feel a little redeemed!

Tangents and Distractions

This is an off week for me, as my employer closes the week between Christmas and New Years. I had all sorts of giddy plans for this week, which in retrospect were just ridiculous: clean the apartment, donate all extraneous clothing, books, etc., get up at 7 am, eat healthy food and not the Christmas sugar leftovers, exercise, meditate, write out my 2011 plan, visit with a friend or two, finish an essay, write every day, a guitar to practice. A nice, quiet, restful but productive week.

Well, none of that got done. There was a blizzard, for one thing, which required hours of staring out into the snow and bad TV and internet surfing. And then it later required serious digging to find my car; well, the back half, to be precise, since the snow drifted so much. This was a tad problematic, as my shovel was in the trunk of my car. Yesterday, I had to take the cat to the vet, and now know way more about feline anal glands than I ever wanted to. I was happy to know hers were just a bit clogged up and there was nothing serious, but phew. The smell was just indescribable, and certainly not fit for public consumption. And for the past few days, construction crews have been in the downstairs apartment tearing out the floor and playing loud Latin rap music, which has sent me into PTSD mode from flashbacks to my NYC apartment, where I endured months of the walls vibrating from the exact same music. (So much for quiet meditation and writing.)

But mostly nothing got done because I got a on a sewing project. I mentioned that I recently joined my local quilt guild, and I'm participating in a friendship block exchange. The way they do it is, you write your name and what you want (a color, a block style, a theme), and then you pick someone else's name. Each month for three months you make and give them two blocks; the last month all is revealed, and you give them the pattern instructions and any leftover fabric so they can make 2 more blocks, and then sew up the quilt top in any manner they see fit (a lap quilt, a table runner, a wall hanging). There's no rule about block size or anything, and is pretty much up to one's interpretation of the indicated theme. (I was boring. I indicated "scrappy log cabin", because I've always wanted one and figured even the most beginner quilter can sew one, and a more advanced quilter would find some way to spice it up.)

The person I picked indicated she preferred "Asian". I assumed she meant the Asian-inspired quilt fabric that I see a lot of, which was a bit troublesome because it's just not my thing at all. I spent several hours raiding my fabric stash to find anything remotely Asian in theme, and came up totally empty handed. That necessitated spending Tuesday afternoon browsing at both of my local fabric stores, trying to buy fabric that I didn't really care that much for, for a total stranger to boot. But I found some fat quarters, and some background fabric, and figured something would turn out.

I also spent several hours poring through old quilt books and magazines, trying to find a pattern to use. I wanted a bigger block, as it would be easier to actually make something useful with only 8 blocks; I wanted something that would complement the Asian fabric I had bought; and I wanted something fairly easy to piece, in case I was handing the project off to a beginner; and I wanted something that would instill a hint of surprise after the first exchange. I found this "T" block pattern from an old Quilter's Newsletter Magazine from November 2001 (why yes, I am a packrat, why do you ask?). It's called "Kimonos and Cranes" by Jan Fecteau, and what I really liked about this was that the T's sort of look like little kimonos when sewed with the Asian fabrics. I also liked that they were 12" blocks, and while the original pattern was more scrappy with the fabric choices, I could use one fabric for each block and still have a little surprise. In fact, with the way some of the fabric is printed, there were some fat quarters where I could make 2 completely different-looking blocks with the same fabric.

The pattern was marked "easy", which was another plus...until I realized that lately (as in, the past freaking 2 years) I've been mostly strip piecing, or sewing simple 5" blocks. And for me, any time triangle points are involved, things immediately become Not Easy. No matter how carefully I cut, or how carefully I sew (and I have a 1/4" sewing foot on my machine), my crisp triangle points are often missing. And I know all the tricks, too - using a pin to match up opposing points, sewing just shy of the point's intersecting seams, etc....but still, my seam ripper and I are spending lots of quality time together. I also have the darndest time squaring blocks up when there is a lot of piecing in them. You can see on the first block below, the lower left side is a tad off...but regardless: I actually really like it.

It's sister blocks are now littering my living room, despite not being due until MARCH, because I am now fixated on sewing these. In fact, I am contemplating hoofing it back to the fabric store for a few more fat quarters.

Oh, and also? I hope the recipient of my blocks is not allergic to cats...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Half the Sky Project Update

Awhile back I mentioned that I read the book “Half the Sky” and it really had an impact on me. I wanted to start a little personal side project related to women’s empowerment issues, and for lack of anything else I’m referring to it as my “Half the Sky Project”. I don’t think the authors will mind, since they want to start a movement, but just so I don’t get sued let me be clear: this project was inspired by the book Half the Sky, but is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by the authors or Mercy Corps.

It’s charitable donation time again! As part of my project, I decided I would contribute to one charity per month that supports women's empowerment. Admittedly, these are small donations ($25 or so), but I’ve worked in the nonprofit sector long enough to know that every little bit helps, particularly when the big checks are few and far between.

I donated to Kiva in October, and in November I contributed to my (nonprofit) employer’s staff campaign (which may seem a little self-serving to some people, but I didn’t *have* to contribute, and our mission is to support women’s economic empowerment, so it counts). December’s little check was mailed today to the Maine Women’s Fund. In addition to leadership programs, MWF provides grants for a number of nonprofits in Maine that build economic security for women and girls. I was in one of the early New Girls Network classes, and one year I got to sit on the grant review committee (which was a truly fabulous experience for me, both personally and professionally). It’s one of the many things I miss about Maine.

One thing that I am trying to do is balance giving to international organizations with giving to US-based organizations. I find that having a small budget makes the international organizations far more tempting – $25 in Africa goes a lot further than it does in Boston, MA. “Feed a girl for a year” is so much more compelling than “buy some new staplers”….until you are the staff person cursing up a storm because you have to snail-mail 10 hard copies of a grant proposal to the one foundation still living in the dark ages, and all the staplers are broken, and the office manager looks at you like you are crazy and says, “I thought they all had online applications now”. I have been that staff person, and let me just tell you: it’s infuriating when stupid stuff trips you up from doing your job, which is directly related to the organization’s ability to achieve its mission. Don’t discount the importance of those staplers, is all I’m saying.

As we get closer to the end of 2010, don't forget to support your own favorite charity! If you are looking for some inspiration, check this guy out - he's giving $5 a day, every day, to charities. A really interesting social experiment!

Nicholas Kristof, one of the authors of Half the Sky and a NYTimes columnist, has a great list of organizations worthy of support this season - you can find it

Thursday, December 16, 2010

REVERB10 #2: Writing

This week I officially joined my local quilt guild. While I clearly won’t be finding a husband there, so far it seems like a riotously fun group of mostly retired women who have no compunctions about speaking their minds. It’s probably the closest thing to a crystal ball that I will ever have. However: my first order of duty is to sew friendship blocks that are Asian inspired, for someone I don’t know. I’m a little worried about this. Fortunately, I know that one of my local fabric stores carries quite a bit of Asian-inspired fabric, but I'm stumped as to what sort of pattern to use. Cross your fingers for me that delving into my stack of 10+ year old quilting magazines will unearth an idea or two!

But onward. The second Reverb10 prompt was about writing: December 2 –What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it? (Author: Leo Babauta)

Pertaining to my own writing (as opposed to the grant writing I do at my job), I feel like I thought more about writing this year than I actually wrote. I will exceed my goal of 52 posts here on this blog (one per week), so that’s something. I did send three or four essays out, all of which were rejected. I’m actually not so fussed about those rejections, mainly because the pieces I sent out had been workshopped and I know they were well-written enough such that I am not embarrassed about them. I did, however, recently contract with a writing instructor to review one of the pieces; she gave me great feedback, and I will be reworking that over my Christmas vacation. I kept a fairly good personal journal until I changed jobs, but that kind of petered out. Last month I started using 750words, although I have rarely managed more than 3 days in a row. But it’s something. Also, I have about 70 pages of something drafted. I’m not sure what this “something” is, whether it is a collection of essays or the beginnings of a little book. I’m not sure yet what it wants to be. I suspect 2/3 of it is garbage, but there’s enough there to make me want to keep going.

There are a million things that keep me from writing as much as I want to, but the biggest problem is that there is always something else to do. Knit, sew, read, watch a movie, surf the internet, watch TV, play with the cat, call my sister, read in the bathtub, etc. For all that I do to avoid writing, one would assume I hated it. But I don’t – I actually really love it. So, then, why is it difficult to carve out time for something I love? It’s not like I have kids or a husband to take care of. (Although, conversely, this means everything gets done by me or it doesn’t get done – full time job, paying bills, oil changes, trash duty, laundry, dishes, errands, making dinner, cat wrangling, it’s ALL on me.)

Despite all this, though, I actually do a pretty good job most week days of writing something, even if it is dashing off a page or two at lunch. But I need a good chunk of uninterrupted time to really work - to revise, rewrite, mash things up, etc. And the one day of the week I have such time? Sunday. The day I always *say* I'm going to go to church/yoga class/brunch with friends but inevitably wind up sleeping until noon and spending the rest of the day in my pajamas on the couch watching chick flicks and sewing. And I really love having that one whole day with no commitments (Saturdays are guitar lessons and errands and family things. And why, yes, there IS a nagging little voice in my head that is clearing his throat, suggesting that the guitar lessons make an early exit, but I'm committed until June. And I'm determined to be a decent guitar player.) In my fantasy life I work part-time for just this reason, but right now that isn't feasible.

So I don't quite know yet how to solve this dilemma. It's a privileged dilemma, I know, but thorny nonetheless. If I could just function without sleep...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reverb10: The Backlog

I hate it when there’s a good idea floating in the nethers of the ‘net and I find out about it too late. In this case, not TOO late, but later than I would have liked to have known about it, because now there is Catching Up to be done. And right now, “catching up” is just about the story of my life.

“It” is REVERB10, which is a series of daily prompts to encourage people to reflect on the past year and plan for the next. It's sort of ingenious, really, and complements so much of my blog reading this year, including The Happiness Project and The Art of Non-Conformity (specifically, the author's encouragement to create yearly plans). Plus, I'm a big fan of navel-gazing, particularly my own. I may not post a response to every prompt here, but rest assured I am following along. (Incidentally: one new writing tool I discovered recently is 750words, which is a place where you can write privately about things, based on the Morning Pages concept from The Artist's Way. It's free - right now, anyway- and provides a simple way of making sure I get at least some writing done every day, even if it is stream-of-conscious whining.)

But I digress! On to prompt #1: Find a word to describe 2010, and identify one for 2011.

I love this idea as I like succinct, even if the concept rarely applies to me. And I had actually been thinking about this anyway, as I wanted to spend 2011 focusing on one concept and thought that it might be helpful to find a word to sum up 2010. After much thought, I came up with the startling realization that 2010 was all about “Better”. Things got better in 2010. And, hallelujah…because for awhile there I thought I was truly doomed.

There are a host of reasons for this. 2009 was a really horrible year, for reasons I won't get into, and there really wasn't any way to go but up. My job change in August was a key factor in making 2010 "better", as was getting my cat. Having my family back from California also really helped. My guitar playing got better. My stress levels plummeted. While you wouldn’t know it to look at me, my health got better too, including my tension headaches (while they haven’t completely gone away, they became much less frequent after I changed jobs). And, save for a few icky weeks in October, I did not endure a raging case of seasonal affectedness disorder or a major depressive episode.

There are still a million things that need improvement, but for once: things got better. And there is much gratitude for that in my little heart.

As for 2011...I’m turning 40. Forty!!! My life is officially more-or-less half over, and I have so little to show for it that it is embarrassing. I’ve wasted so much TIME that I get anxious thinking about it. And a couple of recent conversations have left me rattled – one with my friend S. about the notion of ambition, and another with my guitar teacher about having a passion for something (in his case, guitar). At the moment I seem to be lacking in both the ambition and passion departments, and I’d like to end 2011 having one or both figured out. On a less ethereal plain, I need to lose weight, exercise, and start saving money like crazy so I can buy a house or a condo in the next few years so I can retire without a mortgage.

So despite the obviousness that I loathe, 2011 is the year of Forty. I don’t know exactly how this will manifest itself – lose 40 pounds, write 40 blog posts, write 40,000 words, read 40 books, sew a 40-block quilt…at the moment there seems to be enough possibilities to justify the theme. And let’s face it: it’s what I’m going to be thinking about anyway, so I may as well get something productive out of it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Is this insomnia?

Well, so much for bedtime.

I don't know what's happened to me lately, but for the past couple of weeks I have been completely unable to sleep before 2 am. I find myself in bed watching stuff on Hulu -- like old Mary Tyler Moore episodes, and most recently this cancelled ABC Family show based on the movie "10 Things I Hate About You", which wasn't quite "My So-Called Life" but actually pretty good. I was a lot like Kat in high school...and my sister was a lot like Bianca. In some ways, it's kind of scary how close to home it can hit...for example, in one episode an elderly woman chastises Kat and tells her, "I know a lot of girls like you who wound up being old cat ladies", a fate I am beginning to wholeheartedly embrace. (Except that tonight the cat managed to drag my sort of heavy wool coat off the chair and onto her wet cat food, which she likes to cover up despite my regular reassurances that I have no interest in eating it.)

But back to the not sleeping thing. It's not stress. I'm not depressed. It might be caffeine but I don't think so. The last time this happened I had a week of really bad dreams about an ex-boyfriend of mine who was being exceedingly mean, and it got to the point where I didn't want to sleep because I didn't want to dream about him being mean anymore. But there are no bad dreams this time. Mostly it feels like...procrastination. Possibly my worst habit; in fact, sometimes I worry I will procrastinate my entire life away, with a college friend's words echoing in my ears: "I could have wasted my time in much better ways". And it's weird because I have a list a mile long of things I want to do (or need to do...), but I cannot get any of it done to save my life. It's not just finishing knitting projects or cleaning out the fridge, either; it's stuff that is really important to me, like my writing projects. I'm avoiding them big-time. I don't know why.

The other thing is, my hair has been giving me fits. It's too long now, to the point where about all I can do is put it in a ponytail. I fantasize about taking my pinking scissors to my ponytail, just to see what would happen. While I'm not a big drinker anyway, I am currently avoiding all alcohol just so that I don't act on the scissor impulse. It's a pretty strong compulsion, actually; even just writing about it is making me think about those scissors, which I happen to know are on the dining room table. The problem is that every time I cut my hair short I hate it and instantaneously regret it. Just...chop. So tempting...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Photo Update

1) First, a kitty update. Callie has settled in, and recently I sprung for one of those cat tree thingamajigs because she seemed like she was a little bored. She's one of those cats that is immune to catnip, which I discovered after buying a slew of new toys for her. She just looks at the toys, then looks at me as if to say, "What on earth am I supposed to do with this?". Same with balls. So I thought one of these would give her a place to play. Instead, after it took her three days to figure out she could get inside it, it became her favorite place to nap. Just don't get too close -- she's keeping an eye on you:

And speaking of trouble...she's not happy about the whole wrapping presents concept:

I suspect this is my fault, as in my quest to entertain/exercise her, we started playing a game that has come to be called "Smackdown". The one toy she likes is a fishing-pole style toy -- a long plastic stick with a string, and a fuzzy toy at the end of the string. Callie doesn't care about the fuzzy toy or the string...she likes the stick. The stupid plastic stick. And she likes it best when I hide the stick under paper or a sheet, so she can attack it. She smacks it repeatedly with her paws, and then when she really gets going she starts racing around and pouncing. Now, before you call the ASPCA, I am exceedingly careful with this, and I don't let her play this without me, as it is all too obvious she could really hurt herself (poke herself in the eye, etc.). I don't let her chew on the stick, and don't let her grab onto it. She just bats it around with her paws.

2) Thanksgiving was really low-key this year. We were up at my parents' in Maine, and the day after Thanksgiving it snowed. Not a lot, but enough for one very determined 8-year old to build a "snow deer" with her father. Note the leftover dinner rolls used as ears and nose:

3) Knitting. There has been an inordinate amount of knitting mittens around here. Alas, the knitting has been accompanied by a ridiculous amount of un-knitting. I knit this mitten for my 10-year old niece J. (from the new Cascade 220 book), using yarn she had picked out. Stupidly, I thought that knitting the mittens just as the pattern instructed would result in mittens that would fit J. I was, alas, hugely mistaken. Thankfully, I only knit one of them, and this one fits her mother (my sister). So not all was lost. But it's taken me several tries to rework the pattern in order to get something that fits J., and that's where the ripping out has come in. I *will* figure this out though!

Meanwhile, I had my own mittens to knit. For the past two years I have knit myself mittens, with matching hats. And for the past two years, I have lost what I have knit. Come spring, these things just disappear. I assume I've left them on the train, but they never turn up in the lost-and-found.

This year, I had a picture of exactly what I wanted in my head, but couldn't find a written pattern so....well....I winged it. And all was good until I got to the increasing part. You'd think I would have anticipated this, it's not like I haven't knit mittens before, but no. Totally didn't occur to me that my two black/one red scheme would get thrown out of whack when more stitches were added. So, there was a lot of "improvising" (also known as, "screw it, its yarn, what's the worst that could happen?"). Ultimately these were a pretty quick knit, but I was honestly *this close* to ripping them out because I didn't like the way they tapered off. In the midst of my indecision, it got cold out, and that was the end of the deliberating. Plus, since it's stranded knitting, they are really warm!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Catching Up, Part 1

Oh, my poor little blog, neglected these past few weeks in the flurry of holiday preparations, in addition to the usual obligations – work, family, guitar lessons, cat cuddling. There has been sewing and knitting and even a couple of finished projects, which I need to get posted soon. These include a wonky but warm pair of mittens and a scarf that had long malingered in the UFO pile. But I’m determined to catch up here this week, even if it means a smattering of rapid-fire posts.

Normally, November is a terrible month for me; however, this year I seem to be sailing along quite nicely. I’m not sure why, but I’ve been feeling quite content lately. Uncharacteristically content, to be frank, to the point where my inner hypochondriac is starting to wonder what on earth is wrong with me. I'm feeling more "me" than I have in years, and I must say that I'm quite happy about it. That's not to say everything is going well (for example, my car got sideswiped in Providence a few weeks ago), it's just that I don't constantly feel like the Peanuts character PigPen, surrounded by a cloud of dust and doom.

A lot of this change has to do with the fact that I started the year following The Happiness Project, and while it didn’t turn out the way I had thought it would, I definitely feel like I’m in a much better place than I was 11 months ago. Here are my top 5 reasons why:

1) New job. I've written before about how the focus for The Happiness Project in March was work, and how it catapulted me into finding a new job. And truly, I’m so happy to be back in a small nonprofit organization again, working with people I genuinely like and who are committed to our mission and are not motivated by their own egos. And, the lack of bureaucracy has enabled me to submit 26 grants in 4 months PLUS write and mail an end-of-year fundraising appeal (not usually my bailiwick), so I’m feeling ridiculously productive. While the commute still stinks, my stress levels have plummeted and I *so* needed that.

2) New kitty. Adopting Calypso, or Callie as she has come to be called around here, has been such a great thing for me (in spite of the tapeworm incident). It's odd because she is the complete antithesis of Wilbert, my niece’s cat that I cat-sit for two years: he loves catnip, she is immune; he loves having people around, she hides whenever someone comes to visit; he hates being held, she cuddles up and purrs any time she can. It’s the latter quality that I love so much, particularly when I get home after a long train ride. She jumps up and snuggles right into the left side of my neck, nuzzling my face and purring loudly, and it’s a great thing to come home to. Plus, she will actually drink out of a bowl, rather than insisting the bathtub faucet be permanently set to drip.

3) Guitar. While it is still a struggle, and I still have a very long way to go, I am finally getting to the point where I can play music now. And it makes me inordinately happy to be able to sit down and strum chords. It has been shockingly difficult to learn a new instrument as an adult, but I’m glad I did. And I'm glad I didn't quit this summer when I really, really wanted to!

4) Nieces and nephew. This is the first time I’ve lived close by to them (roughly a 20 minute drive), and it’s been so great. I get to see them almost every weekend, and I love being able to spend time with them, and be a part of their lives (even if it did mean sitting through several cold and rainy middle-school football games this year!). And it's been great to have my sister back here, too.

5) Speaking of rain, I’m going to Ireland for my birthday next year! After a series of awful birthdays, I was determined that this next one be really good – particularly since I’m turning *gulp* 40. My best friend from college, who turns 40 a week after I do, is coming with me, which is a HUGE thing since she is married and has a child. Because of that, we’re not going for very long (we leave on a Sunday and come back on a Friday), and we're doing a tour because neither of us dared try driving on the other side of the road, but still: we’re going!

So that's the best of the good stuff. I'll be back over the next few days to catch up on craft projects and update on some of the "still needs work" parts of my Happiness Project!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This whole air travel flack has me really wound up. Truth be told, I haven’t flown in several years – I think the last time was in 2006 – but I used to fly fairly regularly, first because I was living in Memphis and then because of work. Frankly, I’ve always felt like the post 9/11 security was nothing more than an inconvenient joke. For one thing, a few months after 9/11 I flew home for Thanksgiving with a huge pair of sewing shears in my carry-on luggage – I didn’t know they were there, and they were never found by security. But they could have done some damage in the wrong hands. And yet: the last time I flew I had a set of size-1 bamboo double-pointed needles (basically a couple of long tooth picks!) taken away from me on my return trip, despite the fact that I was allowed to fly with them just a few days prior, and despite the fact that if you tried to poke someone with them they would most likely have snapped in two.

I’ve also had some less-than-positive interactions with TSA agents. Once at Logan, changing planes to fly to Portland, I was confused about why I had to go through another security screening; I was genuinely unsure if I was in the right place, but the agent threatened to arrest me when I asked him why I had to be rescreened (he didn’t like my “tone”, whatever that meant). Another agent once dumped my prescription medication (in its original bottle, with my name and prescription info on it) out on a dirty table to make sure there weren’t any “illicit” drugs in there, spilling some onto the floor. I can understand maybe opening the bottle, but at least have some reasonably clean place if you are going to dump it out! (She picked them all up and put them back in the bottle “because she had to”; I threw them out and got a replacement from the pharmacy, which incidentally was a pain and required authorization from my doctor in order for the insurance to pay for it again. And I'm aware that I was lucky to have insurance!)

But mainly I’m wound up because I’ve had exactly two parking tickets in my lifetime and that is the extent of my “criminal” activity, but I’m supposed to feel safe because they are making ME take my shoes off?

The truth is, we’re spending millions if not billions of dollars to screen thousands of innocent people on a daily basis. And we are (apparently) not even marginally safer than we were pre -9/11. And now, we’re putting innocent people through machines that may or may not be safe, and we’re letting the TSA literally stick their hands down the pants of innocent people in front of their children (I’m not making this up; my nieces and nephew watched as a TSA agent did this to their father on a recent trip). We’re forcing the pilots who fly the planes through the same idiotic procedures, despite the fact that if a pilot wanted to destroy an aircraft, all he/she would have to do is, y’know, crash the plane (these people need to watch The Event!).

This is supposedly all legitimate because when you buy your airline ticket you are presumed to give up certain rights. First, I just bought a plane ticket for travel and at no time was I ever told, “by purchasing this ticket you give up your right to unreasonable search and seizure”. Second of all, really??? To me, the most reasonable comparison is to road blocks set up for drunk drivers. Drunk driving is a serious threat to the public good; I can tell you right now that infinitely more people die from drunk drivers each year than are affected by terrorists blowing up airplanes. So fine, we accept that it is legal for the police to conduct random checkpoints. You go through the checkpoint, you give the cop your license, and unless s/he has reason to believe you have been drinking, you get waived through. But each driver is NOT routinely taken out of their vehicle and frisked, or forced to take a breathalyzer, or strip searched. Can you imagine???

But we let the TSA railroad us into believing we’re safer because every day they frisk and/or radiate thousands of innocent people, who in any other circumstance a police officer would have absolutely NO just cause to search? Honestly, these shenanigans make me feel even LESS safe, because it tells me they honestly have no clue how to stop the real terrorists. And THAT is what really terrifies me.

What if it was my family that got blown up? I think about that question a lot, and let me be clear: I'm not at all advocating for ditching passenger screening entirely. The problem is, from what I can tell these new procedures may still enable a real terrorist to make it through. I heard on a news program last night that during a training exercise, TSA agents confiscated a bottle of water, but missed a bomb right beneath it. That hardly gives me faith in the system. But bigger (philosophical) picture here: one of the fundamental tenants of American jurisprudence is that it is better to let a guilty man go free than to persecute an innocent man. But that’s kind of what these regulations do. And why is that ok?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Smarty Girl

This weekend's project brought to you amongst the sounds of the neighbor's pain-in-the-arse dog barking incessantly and me trying to drown it out with the music of Antje Duvekot, whose song "Long Way" is the current focus of my guitar lessons. I love this song, even though it is rather long and I can't remember many of the lyrics.

The project: a little bag for my youngest niece. A few weeks ago, I made my niece J. a bag, and her sister G. was not to be left out. (I was reminded of this not-so-very-subtly last weekend.) At my local fabric store I found this cute Heather Bailey pattern - "Smarty Girl Book Bag". I used fabric leftover from a baby quilt experiment (mostly from the Anna Maria Horner Good Folks line). G.'s favorite color is hot pink, so this worked out nicely for her.

The pattern is pretty easy-peasy for someone with a modicum of sewing experience. However, it took me three times to figure out that the ruffles get sewn to the LINING, not the outside of the bag. I was insistent that the pattern was wrong, but couldn't find any pattern errata online, so I finally had to conclude it must be me....and indeed it was. *sigh* Still, even with that hiccup, it didn't take much more than two hours to cut & sew.

For the top "flap" I used part of a leftover patchwork block, cut to the size of the flap, so if you are familiar with the pattern that's why it is pieced rather than a solid fabric. Also, I used one fabric for the top ruffles, rather than two different ones, just because I was using up scraps.

The one thing I would do differently on this project is use interfacing. It is optional in the pattern instructions, but I think it would give the bag a little bit more structure. G. is 8 and I guarantee she'll use it three times before it disappears in her closet, so I'm not too fussed about this one, but were I to make it again I'd definitely add the interfacing. I might also try to see if there's a way to sew the straps between the lining and outside, rather than tacking them on, just so there's no visible sewing line on the side of the bag.

Now, I've got to go pick up before the trick-or-treaters show up and see my completely fabric-strewn living room...Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Yet Unnamed Project Update

Following up on my post from last week about "Half the Sky" and global women's issues:

1) There was a great article in the New York Times today written by Nicholas Kristof, one of the authors of "Half the Sky", which has some great examples of women helping women. You can read it
here. I get chills up my spine just thinking about it.

2) I hemmed and hawed, and hemmed and hawed, and then tonight I was rummaging around the
TED website and discovered a talk by one of the founders of Kiva, a nonprofit that provides micro-loans across the globe (including the United States). By the time I was done watching, I was convinced it was worth at least trying out - and lets face it, $25 is the cost of a skein of sock yarn, which I have plenty of. So I donated (my lender page is here), and I chose to lend to a woman in Cambodia who SEWS for a living (technically, she's using the money to help her daughter's clothing business, but close enough).

3) I also signed up for action alerts at
Equality Now, because I'd like to do something in addition to donating money.

4) I really need to find a catchy phrase for this project...suggestions?

Getting Ready for Winter

I finally bought a new winter coat. Ever since I moved back to the Northeast in 2003, I’ve spent the winter months schlepping around in a series of cheap, ill-fitting, not-very -warm black wool coats. All of these coats attracted cat hair, thread, and yarn as if there were magnetic forces involved. Essentially, I was a walking lint brush for six months out of the year.

This spring, in a rare fit of closet cleaning, I threw the last two coats out – they were completely wrecked, with Wilbert the Cat’s hair imbedded so deeply that the lady at the dry-cleaner just shook her head and said in broken English, “We do best.” And both had holes and torn linings, so donating them wasn’t feasible. I knew this would force me into buying a new coat this fall, when the prices are the highest, and so I’ve spent the past few weeks bracing myself. Every day this month has been just a little bit shorter and a little bit colder than the day before, and I kept telling myself, “just one more day, one more day”.

Yesterday, though, I folded. I had on a long sleeved shirt, a sweater, a handknit scarf, and my lightweight jacket – and I was freezing. So I left work, made a detour into Macy’s, and twenty minutes later walked out with a new, bright red winter coat that was seriously on sale (I suspect it was a left-over from last year, but who cares). I will grant you that this was easy because they had very few coats in sizes above a Medium (what’s up with that?!), but I’ve always wanted a red coat, and it makes me really happy to wear it. The only problem? All my winter hand knits are purple, and I’m not quite ready to walk around looking like a Red Hat Society member. I rooted through the yarn stash last night and came up totally empty handed, so sometime in the next week or so I’m going to have to do some yarn shopping. (It’s a real tragedy, I tell you what.)

Part of me would like to knit a new striped Noro scarf, but those are so time-consuming; I knit right-handed so switching back and forth between knitting and purling every other stitch is a nightmare for me. And, I’m constantly stopping to check out how the color patterns are evolving, which is of course half the fun of using Noro but it seriously lengthens my knitting time. (Plus, the scarf alone takes 4 skeins of yarn; at $12/skein it becomes a pricey project.)

The other part of me is obsessed with the new Cascade 220 book, which is chock full of great hat, mitten and scarf patterns. I’m currently muddling my way through the Spotted Fair Isle Mittens pattern, which when finished will go to my niece Julia. She originally picked out the octopus mittens, but she’s 10 and really tall (with long hands/fingers), and it became readily apparent I would need to do some way-beyond-my-skill-set pattern tweaking to make them big enough for her. Julia chose navy blue and lime green yarn, which I initially grimaced at but as it turns out, actually go rather nicely together. (Also, don’t tell the Cascade folks but I’m actually using a different yarn, because the yarn store Julia and I went to didn’t have any; I'm using yarn from Ella Rae.)

I’ve never done any stranded knitting before, so this took some getting used to. I’m almost finished with the first mitten and I’m still not completely sure I’m doing it right. Initially I was twisting the yarns to carry them, but I read in one of my Elizabeth Zimmerman books that she believed you could safely let the yarn “float” for 5 stitches. After that I stopped twisting (because this pattern most of the floats are 5 or less stitches), which made the knitting easier. The floats almost create a second layer, and I suspect these mittens will be supremely warm. But it is tricky to get the tension right – it’s very easy to knit too tightly or too loosely. There are definitely some wonky places that I am hoping will block out (is this serious denial on my part?). The other tricky thing, which I haven’t gotten to yet, is the thumb. Usually when I knit mittens the thumb stitches stay live and get put on a stitch holder. In this pattern, you use waste yarn to hold the thumb placement, and then when you are ready you are supposed to remove the waste yarn to reveal the live stitches. I am terrified of doing this and dropping stitches! Photos to follow soon...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What I'm Reading

As a result of my new job, I’ve become immersed in women’s economic issues. I’ve been spending a lot of time reading reports over at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and the UN Development Fund for Women, as well as reading about the UN’s Millenium Goal #3, Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women. The one thing that has stuck with me the most, and what I often find myself waking up at 3 am to think about, is this little gem:

Women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, produce 50 percent of the food, but earn 10 percent of the income and own 1 percent of the property.


Sometimes I get so self-absorbed in my own little dramas (usually self-induced) that I forget to stop and think about how privileged I am in the grand scheme of things: I’m a white, well-educated American with a full-time job in a heated/air conditioned office, whose idea of being oppressed is not being able to afford to go back to school and get a second master’s degree. (And I probably *could* afford it if I gave up discretionary things like guitar lessons, cable TV, yarn, and fabric.)

Further fueling my fire: I stumbled across the book “Half The Sky”, written by two (married) Pulitzer-prize winning journalists. It’s all about how women across the globe are being oppressed (though truly, “oppressed” seems too sanitized a word for what is going on out there). I’m telling you: if you are a woman, or if you have a mother or a daughter or an aunt or a sister or a niece, you have to read this book. It is at once heartrendingly depressing and oddly hopeful, impossible to read and impossible to put down. By page three of the introduction I was in tears (and truthfully, there were a few sections that were too difficult for me to read and I skipped over them; I can be unreasonably squeamish). [Also, let me just say I completely disagree with the Amazon commenters who claim the book is anti-conservative; I personally found it quite balanced. Yes, the authors criticize abstinence-only programs but also give props to a school in India heavily supported by the Catholic Church. Continuing to frame these issues in a western political context is part of the problem, which the authors address early on in the book.]

I’ll warn you, though, that I think it would be hard for anyone with half a conscious to read this book and NOT want to take some sort of action. I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do myself. On the plus side, I work for a nonprofit that helps low-income women start their own businesses, so in theory every day I go to work is a contribution. And there are plenty of other organizations I can contribute to financially (and there is an extensive list here). But there’s an itching to do something more, and I’m not sure what that it is. I can tell something is percolating, though, as evidenced by the 3 am wake ups. Plus, a good part of this year was focused on my Happiness Project, and while that’s been a valuable experience I’m thinking that the next thing is to focus on something external. (As Gretchen Rubin points out, making others happy makes you happy.) Stay tuned…

Also, on a completely different note: for you fellow cat people out there, make sure you read this.

Monday, October 11, 2010

This Is What Productivity Looks Like

Finally, a long, quiet and uneventful weekend to finish up a few things. The first order of business was a baby quilt that had been malingering in the workbasket, something I started after sewing up a batch of charm squares (back in May, in fact). As per usual, when I pulled the quilt out I realized I really didn't have a lot more to quilt, just a few squares and the border, and then do the binding. It would have been a fairly fast job...except Callie the Wonder Cat decided the quilt was her property. You know how cats have this uncanny ability to know exactly where you don't want them to be, and then be there? This was exactly that, times ten. When she wasn't jostling for position on my lap, she was sitting next to me, giving me The Look:

I manged to finish it last night, and then spent an inordinate amount of time getting the cat hair off from it. It's not my usual "thing", so to speak; some of these fabrics I would never use. But it's an interesting mix of pastels and brights, modern and old-timey prints. (This was a Westminster "Free Spirit" charm pack, which had a lot of Heather Bailey prints). And I think that after being washed a few times and loved a little bit, it will be a nice soft blankie for a little girl to lug around:

And, this evening, I whipped up a little basket to kinda-sorta match (pattern from here), and stuck the booties I knit inside.

The other thing I did this weekend? I got my baking mojo back! I made some excellent bread, with some new yeast -- I think the problem I had last weekend was a dud batch of yeast. I also made some chocolate cake, which was excellent with peanut butter frosting. My nieces and nephew came over this afternoon and helped me finish it off.

I love weekends like this -- but they make it really, really hard to shift focus back to work!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Fall Sports Schedule (Lori's Version)

It's been a weird fall here in the northeast. The leaves started turning much earlier than usual, but up until this weekend it's been mostly unseasonably warm. This weekend, finally, the weather decided to turn cooler; so cool, in fact, that I woke up this morning shivering. While it's not time to turn the heat on yet, it's finally time to stop sleeping with the windows open.

I've admitted before that fall is my least-favorite season. Living in New England, this is about as treasonous as routing for the Yankees would be, but it's the truth: I hate it. I can't explain this coherently, but it has to do with the light - it changes in the fall, and the shadows get longer, and it makes me want to hibernate. Over the years I've learned ways of dealing with it; in fact, I find the less I try to fight it the better I am at getting through it. I let myself sleep more, take longer and hotter baths, and re-read children's books I've loved in the past (the Wrinkle in Time series and Harry Potter are in frequent rotation at the moment). And, while I'm still taking guitar lessons, I just don't beat myself up if I go a few days without practicing. It sounds awfully self-indulgent as I write it, but I've learned the hard way that forcing myself to be more energetic and social during these months just makes me miserable and lands me on antidepressants.

And then there's the sock knitting. Like many sock knitters, I don't really like wearing mass-produced socks anymore, preferring to wear my comfy and soft hand knits instead. But a casual survey of the sock drawer this morning was a little guilt-inducing: to wit, there's been an awful lot of sock yarn purchased in the past six months but very little in the way of sock knitting done. And so, despite the oodles of unfinished projects littering the apartment, despite the fact that every single room in the apartment needs a good cleaning, and despite the state of my laundry, I curled up on the couch and commenced knitting a pair of socks. At this point, I have memorized the basic sock recipe from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's book
Knitting Rules, which means that these make excellent travel knitting projects as I don't have to pay a whole lot of attention, just knit.

Fall is also the start of baking season. This year is not off to a particularly great start - last weekend I made bread that was an unmitigated disaster (hockey puck on the outside, raw on the inside). On Friday, armed with a 40% off coupon and the remnants of a gift card, I went to Borders and bought the
Baked Explorations book, then came home and tried making the Maple Cupcakes. I was up until 11:30 frosting the suckers - and...well. Let me just say that when a recipe calls for 2 cups of maple syrup, and you only have one cup, and you are too stubborn to either a) leave the house to get more maple syrup or b) admit defeat, you should not count on spectacular results. They weren't terrible or anything - just a little bland, and the cream cheese frosting sort of turned them into cream cheese cupcakes. It's a little telling when you bring cupcakes over to your sister's house and her three kids ignore them. Later this afternoon I may break out the bread recipe again, or perhaps I'll try the red velvet whoopie pie recipe?

(This book, by the way, has reasonable facsimiles of both the chocolate whoopie pie and no-bake cookie recipes that I've written about here before. It is also so beautifully put together that I felt a little guilty bringing it into my kitchen, where it was unceremoniously christened by an exploding box of powdered sugar.)

And now, I must gather all the gumption I have to go watch my sixth-grade nephew play football...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

On the Needles

My latest "finish something from the workbasket" project is a little baby sweater I started well before a certain baby cousin of mine was born...and she is now well past the one-year old mark. Honestly, from what I hear this is not really that bad in the grand scheme of unfinished knitting projects. Frankly, I'm sure if I kept digging I'd find some even older projects down deep at the bottom. It still grates on me, though, to have so many of these projects littering my apartment. And I'm saving for a 40th birthday trip next year, so I'm really trying not to buy any more yarn (which would be ridiculous even without the trip, as after a couple of yarn binges this summer I am more tham amply stocked).

Incidentally, I love that word, "workbasket". It sounds so....productive, doesn't it? Slightly old-fashioned, of course, and conjures up Ma Ingalls sitting in her rocking chair by the fire on a chilly fall evening. While I would lose my mind without electricity and indoor plumbing, I can appreciate the sort of calm one must have felt back then, a quiet respite after a hard day of working in the fields. I imagine it was kind of like the little snippets of calm I find on weekend mornings curled up on my sofa, next to the window...although I have my tea and croissant and Nutella, a book and my knitting, Antje Duvekot on itunes, and the cat purring somewhere nearby. (Not to mention the indoor plumbing.) My life would be a lot better if I could manage this morning routine on weekdays too, but that would entail getting up at some ungodly-to-me hour (like 6 am). After two months at my job, I'm still fighting getting up at 7 am, and inevitably find myself making a mad dash for the train, praying I've put matching shoes on my feet. And, while I actually really like my job, there's no workbasket filled with yarn, just inboxes (electronic and paper) that never, ever seem to be empty. I have no problems, however, deluding myself into thinking that my knitting workbasket at least has the possibility of being cleared out, some day, if I just stop adding to it.

But on to the baby sweater. It's Sirdar Pattern #1752, a cute little cardigan (they call it a coat) with a knitted flower on the chest. It's knit in their bamboo yarn, which I've never knit with before. I haven't made my mind up about it, either. Mostly it's nice to knit with -it's not as impossible or stretchy as knitting with cotton, but the fabric just isn't turning out (for me) as well as my wool knitting. It's a little....drapey? flimsy? Definitely not the body that wool has. I've also found the yarn a little splitty in places, and (sort of weirdly) I've had the yarn break in sections. It's the strangest feeling to be knitting along and then all of a sudden realize you have about three inches of yarn left in your right hand, even though the ball is still full. Whenever this happens it takes a minute for it to sink in, my eyes dart from the knitting to the yarn and back again, trying to absorb why the rhythm has stopped working. To me, this is proof that knitting is meditative, or at least has the ability to turn off certain areas of my brain for short periods of time.

The pattern is a fairly easy knit, but has been slow going because I actually have to refer to the pattern while knitting, something that is a little tricky whilst being bounced around on a rickety old commuter rail train. The back and left front are done, and the right front only has another hour or so of knitting (if that) before I can start on the sleeves. The end really is in sight!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Cookies

My weekend was a blur, from guitar lesson to eye doctor appointment and other errands, then on to making oodles of cookies for an anniversary party. Sunday was a long drive up to Maine for the party, then a quick dinner with my parents before turning around and heading back to Massachusetts. I'm really not sure who the genius was who decided it was a great idea to do night paving on 495 right after a NASCAR race in NH, but I'd like a word...I got home pretty late, and haven't managed to quite catch up on my sleep yet.

I'm also not sure what happened to a childhood friend's house. The anniversary party was nearby, and I was shocked to see that the house is now gone. There's now just a vacant, empty lot - and this was a nice house! My friend's family hasn't lived there in a long time, and honestly he hasn't been my friend in like 25 years, but it was always his house, y'know? And now it feels like one more relic from my childhood is gone forever. It's a pretty strange feeling.

So it probably goes without saying that there was no sewing or knitting, and I have nothing to share in the crafting department. But let me tell you about the cookies I made. I don't think they are a Maine thing per se, but I've never seen them sold anywhere else; back home, almost every mom & pop general store sells these, and they are a staple at bake sales. These are one of the first things I learned to cook, mostly because my mom was something of a health nut, and my sister and I inherited my dad's sweet tooth. We usually had the ingredients on hand to make these, though. (And fifty bazillion cans of fruit coctail.) Mom hates these; she's very proper and ladylike, but refers to these as "cat shit cookies" because they look like...well. No need to explain further. The rest of us love them and call them "no bake cookies", though I will tell you don't eat too many; they have the tendency to sit in your stomach like lead.


1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 heaping tablespoons of cocoa
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter
3-4 cups oatmeal (quick oats)

Put peanut butter and vanilla in a bowl. Melt butter, sugar, milk, and the cocoa in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Pour over peanut butter and vanilla. Once the peanut butter is melted in, stir in the oatmeal.

There's a fine line betwen too much and not enough oatmeal. The more oatmeal you add, the faster the mixture will begin to set. Once it's all mixed in, quickly spoon the mixture by dropfuls onto wax paper and let them sit for about 15-20 minutes.

Excellent with cold milk. And, the sugar aside, they are full of oatmeal and peanut butter and have been known to be used as a substitute for a granola bar in certain households that shall remain nameless.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Six Hours

I know, right?! I am a painfully slow knitter. This time even more so, as I knit right-handed, and therefore seed stitch is time consuming, because I'm constantly having to move the yarn back and forth to go from a knit stitch to a purl and back again. It's also a bit of a beast to sew up. But I love seed stitch, though - I love how it looks, and I love the texture. I used a pattern from the Debbie Bliss book Baby Knits for Beginners, and I used her baby cashmerino yarn. I followed the pattern for 3-6 months, blissfully (no pun intended) ignoring gauge as I always do for baby stuff. Alas, these would most likely fit an 18-month old. Ooops. I clearly used the wrong type of yarn.

Truth be told, though, I wasn't knitting for six hours straight. There were breaks to switch over the laundry, several episodes of House, and a few playtime breaks with Miss Sweet Pea, who has been tearing around the living room this morning as if she were possessed. She finally conked out in the middle of the living room floor a few minutes ago, but here she is taking a break midway through her romp:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Power of a Good Bootie

I'm not sure I even need to write about this. So ridiculously cute.

I've always eschewed knitting baby booties. I don't really know why, either - I never knit them for any of my sisters children, nor any of the other family/friend babies that came later. But I currently have a pregnant coworker, and I thought I'd give it a whirl. The white pair (which are knit to resemble Mary Jane shoes) is the "Side Strap" pattern from the book "Easy Baby Knits" by Claire Montgomerie, using Debbie Bliss cashmerino that has been lingering in the depths of my knitting basket. The green pair, also Debbie Bliss cashmerino dug up from the depths (I'd love to know what I actually bought this yarn for....) is a pattern I found here. Both are easy patterns, though the green ones were REALLY quick to knit up, maybe an hour total? Although, I did have a bit of a "fraternal" issue with both of these. I actually had to knit three of the white ones for a more-or-less matching pair, which is weird given I was using the same needles, yarn and pattern. The green ones were less so, although I found them difficult to sew up.

Incidentally, the green ones were just happenstance. I brought my yarn and needles to my sister's house yesterday, but forgot my knitting book. I briefly considered just trying to wing it and make up my own pattern. Instead, I sat by the pool, one eye on my niece and one eye on my Blackberry, and this was one of the few free patterns I found that was not in PDF format. Gotta love 3G!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Project Flouncy Bag

Yesterday my niece J. came over and after an outing of mini-golf and ice cream, we came home and played with the cat for a little while. J. decided she wanted to do a craft, which somehow turned into a quick trip to the fabric store...which resulted in me staying up until midnight last night sewing her a new bag for school. Funny how these "we" projects turn into "Aunt Lori" projects...though to be fair, J. would have been happy to stay and help me finish but there were other family plans afoot. (And, I should really get my sewing machine serviced before trying to teach her how to use is becoming rather obstinate in its old age.)

J. is apparently an Amy Butler fan too, as she picked out one of her new prints (called "Love"). I'm not a fan of this particular print, it seems kind of old-ladyish to me, but J. loved it. We found a Kaffe Fassett purple and green polka-dot print for the lining. I bought one yard of each, thinking that would be plenty for whatever pattern we decided on. We came home and pored through a number of the books on my shelves, and she decided on the "Flouncy Bag" designed by Nina Perkins, which is published in the One Yard Wonders book. $20 and 2 hours resulted in:

And I had about a half-yard of the lining leftover, so technically one could make this for less. I had to make a few modifications, mostly because the pattern called for some hardware (D rings), piping, and some ribbon that I did not have on hand (and it was 10 pm when I decided to start sewing, a by-product of watching Project Runway, so running out wasn't an option). Also, the pattern calls for the entire bag (outside and inside lining) to be made out of one yard, and I used a contrast fabric instead. The instructions are fairly simple, although the bottom of the bag calls for oval pieces that are not provided; you basically have to cut rectangles and make it into an oval yourself which I found a bit tricky.

To make up for not having any piping, I cut a 2" strip of the lining fabric, ironed it in half, and then sewed it in as if it were the piping (see below). Were I to do this again, I'd cut a smaller strip. And then I just inserted the strap ends when I sewed the lining to the outside to attach the strap to the bag. If you make this bag with just one yard, follow the cutting layout carefully; I would not have had enough fabric for the lining because of the way I cut out the pieces. Also, a careful eye might notice my fabric is running sideways, rather than top-bottom, another casualty of my cutting. Luckily all the gathering makes it not so noticeable.

J. hasn't seen it yet, so I don't know whether or not it will pass muster. I have my suspicions, though, that I will be churning out another one for her sister in the not-so-distant future...most likely in pink.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Grossest Thing EVER

Every night when I get home I pick up the cat and cuddle a bit – it is a great de-stresser for me, and she seems to like the attention after being home by herself all day. I may have mentioned she does this weird thing when you hold her – instead of staying vertical, she twists her body so she lays horizontally across your chest, and snuggles up as close as she can to your neck. And then we sit down on the couch and she walks back and forth, rubbing her head and then her back up against me.

Last night she was doing the walking back-and-forth thing when I thought I saw something weird under her tail. I thought it was a piece of white embroidery floss. And then it moved.

Let me just say: you have not lived until you’ve chased a cat around a small one-bedroom apartment with a tissue trying to grab some possibly wriggly thing off its hindquarters.

And then there were more wriggly things later peeking out of her bum.

And then I panicked.

The cat has worms. Most likely, a tapeworm.

After scaring myself by Googling, I called the vet’s emergency line and was told it really wasn’t an emergency and to call back in the morning to schedule an appointment. But, of course, the only time the vet could see us this week was right smack of a staff meeting I was supposed to be at IN ANOTHER STATE. And, while I love this cat, as this is my 7th day on the job bailing on the monthly staff meeting seemed just a tad risky! Part of being a responsible pet owner is being able to pay for vet visits (at least, that’s how I dealt with the guilt.) So, I called the vet used by the shelter she was at, and they can see us at 8 am tomorrow morning. They confirmed she’d be fine, that it wasn’t a life or death situation, and that waiting 24 hours was not going to hurt her. And she seems perfectly fine otherwise, although a bit cranky because I am now reluctant to pick her up, lest I get those wriggly things on me.

Thankfully, I am sick with some ridiculous cold and there was Nyquil in my medicine cabinet; otherwise, I would never have slept, envisioning those wormy things burrowing into my pillows and blankets.

To top it all off? no hot water this morning. Arrrrrgh!