Sunday, August 31, 2008

Visiting Home

We went back to Maine again this week. Thing One has been given the chance to return and live with friends for senior year. While this means giving him up a year early, in a sense, it's also something I'm really glad to do. Thing One has always been there for his mom and sibs, always helped out, and it's good to be able to let him have this opportunity. And The Girl, I'm sure, was especially thrilled at his return.

So back we drove, with the temperature becoming cooler as we headed farther north and east. It was a bit odd to see the first hints of trees beginning change

when back on the plains it was still sticky and humid and most definitely clinging to late summer.

But even the slightly cooler temps did not stop us from having fun on the lake

or hooking up with lots of friends (each day culminating into three nights of grilling out, each with different sets of people, each getting larger as we went)

and it especially didn't stop us from visiting our beloved Korner Knitters,

where the awesome Darrin waits to help all and sundry.

(I also found the name of the cotton from which I made my Christmas stocking, but for which I'd lost the ball bands. It's Cascade Pima Tencel 030 Natural and 2493 Purple--Rav will now be updated.)

We found out right before we left Maine our house bid back in the Midwest had fallen through. The ex-wife had accepted the offer, but the ex-husband didn't. That was a bit of a bummer, but we tried to stay philosophical about it, even as we said goodbye to Thing One (very odd that; as he said, I don't think it really dawned on him that we would be half a country apart).

Despite all that, we said our final goodbye, then got on the rotary, took the proper road off it, and headed south.

It was then that the cell phone rang.

"---? It's D-- from ---College. Are you still in Maine?"

"Well, sort of. We're just leaving."

"I know this is short notice, but could you come interview? Tomorrow?"

It's a wonder I didn't drive off the road right then and there. This was a college I had applied to before, but one which kept reorganizing and canceling its positions (which you kind of begin to see as a sign, you know?). The last position, which dealt with providing support services to at-risk and learning disabled students, was right up my alley and I'd applied once again. D and I had talked several times, and she had shown interest in interviewing me, but hadn't returned my call before I went to Maine. I assumed this meant there wasn't a chance and hadn't bothered to bring my suit along. I pointed this out to her.

"Oh we don't care. Interview in your summer clothes; that's fine. We'll put you up in a hotel up here and get you some dinner. Do you need someone to watch the kids? It'll be a three-tier, two-hour interview, you know."

Somewhat dazed, I accepted the interview and we turned around and headed farther north into Maine, rather than south.

That night the kids played in the pool and I made phone calls back west, letting everyone know we would be behind schedule on our return and why.

The next day I went through round one and round two of the interview process trying hard to forget that I was in sandals, the comfy pants I wear kayaking on cool mornings, and one of the few nice tops I'd packed (slightly wrinkled). I also tried to piece together my brain enough to give semi-coherent answers; three nights of visiting with friends means not much sleep, you know?

By the time I got to the last interview, I was breathing an internal sigh of relief. One more battery of questions and then I should know in a couple of days how I did. Either way, I already had a job in the Midwest, so I was set.

This is what I got instead of questions.

"Look, we don't feel the need to beat around the bush or make you wait. We know you'll have decisions to make, so we just want to offer you the job."

Being my ever suave self, I replied, "Are you sure you don't want to ask me more questions first?"

They didn't. Instead, they said they would give me a couple of days to decide whether or not I wanted to be with them, rather than the other way around.

The kids and I left in daze. After months and moths of not being able to find anything, I suddenly had two jobs (well, a job and an offer) instead of none. That's a bit shocking, quite honestly.

Heading south, I decided there was only one thing to do. We stopped here.

The lady who owns this shop is on Rav as myarns (that link will only work if you are a Ravelry member, btw)

and we met in the stormy weather fanatics group. She had told me to come on by if ever I got the chance to interview at that college north of her.

So we went by. I fell instantly in love with the place. The store is everything a LYS should be, lots of great selection and many friendly people hanging out in rockers, knitting and talking. I chatted with them while I picked up a skein of beautiful, hand-dyed-in-Maine sock yarn, which will either be used in Leyburn or in Northern Lights. The color changes might be too quick for Northern Lights, though, so I may have to go back to Marnacook one day and get another skein by that same dyer, as she had several others with longer color runs.

The bright colors were a bit outside my norm ("Those are SO not jewel tones or solids mom! What happened to you?" was how Thing Two oh so kindly put it.) but they are beautiful and fun and I needed a bright pick me up to shock my senses out of their benumbed state. (Note: it's French Twist from French Hill Farm and I still love the colors, no matter how different they are from my norm.)

So, I have three or four days to decided. Do we stay in the metro area we were finally trying to make into a home, or do we go back to the adopted state we had called home for almost ten years?

Six months ago, there would have been no competition. Now, it's a harder call.

We're going to be doing a lot of talking about it all as we head back to the city.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Corrupting the Young

You want to. You know you do. The urge to twist and warp little minds is just something no one can control.

It starts with your own kids; quietly and by stealth, so no one notices. But one day they're knitting squares to make into Herbie

& Reg,

garter stitch dogs extraordinaire from Kids Learn to Knit, or little hats for charity

and the next thing you know, they're knitting something secret for somebody who might read the blog

and giving you Bambi eyes for a skein of hand dyed sock yarn that they swear that they are going to knit up themselves (just as soon as I pick a pattern from your pattern stash, mom, honest).

But that's not enough. You find yourself letting small kids hang out with you and try stitches while they wait in line to go to gym (awesome crowd control method when everyone is five years old and under). The only problem there is that you don't get the satisfaction of total corruption. There's only time, due to the sheer number of small people, for a quick dip into the pool of degenerate behavior.

So, you turn to other outlets. Namely, the kids of your friends.

It's great.

You talk them into making Nigel, the late night owl (another Kids Learn to Knit cutie) with a bribe of their very own kitty cat-headed needles and uber-bright variegated yarn.

You slyly offer to reteach some other friends' daughter how to knit,

then point out that bamboo needles work better with the yarn she has chosen. And after she drags her father to the local yarn shop to get the needles (where she and your own daughter, who's gone along to make sure dad doesn't duck out, also purchase several skeins of two color cottons) you score the ultimate in knitting corruption.

Nothing's better than a kid in a skeleton t-shirt picking up a skein. Absolutely. Nothing. And all because he had the audacity to say (after the girls were safely out of the house), "That doesn't look hard to do."

By the time the girls had returned, he had picked up enough speed with the needles to have finished the bookmark his sister had started and was experimenting with different ways to make knitting "more efficient." You realize you may have to email him Hardcore, from Knitty, just to keep him going.

But you don't have to do it all. Really. Because before you know it, they're knitting without you.

The corruption never ends. Just think of who could be next...

(you thought it was going to be a picture of you, Thing One, didn't you?)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Going Postal

I think the post office is out to get me. I strongly suspect demonic possession.


At first, I thought it was confined to international postal transactions. I mean, it wasn't unusual to receive a box from loved ones across the pond that came home looking like this:

All that were holding those packages together was the tape and the good will of postal people in countries the to which the boxes had never been addressed (though they somehow ended up in places like Romania anyway).

I'm sure the postal demon gnashed its little teeth at said goodwill undoing all of its careful package mangling planning and vowed its revenge on nice people.

Because slowly, sneakily, the little imp has begun to do funny things with even Stateside mailings. It took advantage of me when I went on a bit of a yarn & supplies spree and ordered several things all within days of each other.

It didn't do it without first creating a false sense of security. It let me receive this yarn from Rikes Wollmaus in Germany for the Baby Surprise Jacket for little Lief.

(Note the German postmark and remember how far it travelled...)

Then it let me receive this bag from Spunky Eclectic

and this DVD from School House Press.

Three good deliveries in a row. I should have known it was too good to last.

It was with the Afghan and cro-hooks from Turn of the Century that the postal demon struck with its full, malevolent fury.

Bill, from Turn of the Century, does exquisite work, and when I asked about him on Rav, I received glowing reviews about his customer service as well.

I found the page of regular crochet hooks first and just sat staring at them, stupefied by their beauty. The PD took note of that; I'm sure it did. Had I been paying attention, I would have heard its little snigger then.

But no, I blithely got hold of Bill and found out that in addition to cro-hooks and regular hooks, Bill did do Afghan hooks as well (found on the Odds 'n' Ends page) and we worked out what I would need.

I tried to pay via Paypal, but the PD had obviously coerced Paypal's demon into assisting, because Paypal didn't work. Bill discovered there were some updates he needed to do. I suggested a money order, promptly went out and got one, and rather tardily sent it out (because I'm like that). Still, it was only a few days behind the Rikes Wollmaus payment, you know?

Due to my own negligence, I tried to be patient whilst waiting for my order. (And all of you who know me can quit snorting with laughter over that sentence. Because I did. Really.)

Still, Turn of the Century is in Ohio. I live only a few states from Ohio, as opposed to one large ocean and several other countries away from Germany. So when I received the above mentioned BSJ yarn before the hooks, I have to admit I sensed a not-so-divine presence at work in my life. I sent Bill a polite email. The email bounced back. Puzzled, I resent from another address. I received a prompt reply stating that he had not received my email informing him that payment had been sent (even the email demon works for PD, apparently), nor had he received the payment itself. I sent a "but I sent it!" reply. He sent back a, "but I still haven't received it, so sorry" email in return. (There were other emails--several--but as they were of a similar vein, I won't bore you any more than I already have.)

Poor Bill. Between missing emails and missing payments, I wouldn't have blamed him if he thought he was dealing with a psycho crochet hook stalker. Finally, I offered to pay via the now working just fine Paypal the next day and trust that if the money order ever appeared, he would cash it and return the funds to me. He assured me that he would.

Er, the next day I got busy. It's that prompt decision followed by tardy action bit that I mentioned above.

And the PD chortled, guffawed, and then roared triumphant laughter.

I mean, really. What a git, you know?

The next day I seated myself before the computer in defiance of the PD, determined that I would not only successfully submit a Paypal order, but that I would somehow get word of it to Bill, subversive demon network or no subversive demon network.
Then I opened my email, and saw this:


The money order finally showed up. A bit worse for wear, but intact. I should be able to get the hooks in Wednesday's Priority Mail. I will email after they are in the mail.

So, approximately three days after I received this email (and three weeks after the yarn came from Germany) I received these (the cro-hook is in its black carrying case; don't ask me why I did took the pic that way. I just did):

And the box wasn't even dented.

Back at ya, PD.

(And for everyone out there wondering, yes, I did send the money order to the correct address. I know this because I asked Bill and he confirmed that I had. So quit laughing, J. I mean it.)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Trading One Stick for Another

The retreat didn't make me homesick after all.

True, there are lots of trees, just like in Maine. But they are different trees (well, some of them, anyway). There are more birch than I was used to in southern Maine (though farther north in Maine there are some nice stands of them). More deciduous and less evergreen. More...something. I don't know how to describe it. The best I can say is that they shared the same sense of isolation, even if they did not give it to me in the same way.

There were two cabins at the retreat. One was the main house, the other this:

I stole the newly made window seat in the above bay window for my bed

so I could fall asleep watching the moonlight on the water. And when I woke up to see this:

I knew that I hadn't chosen wrongly in ignoring the bedrooms. I let the fog lift a little, since I hadn't paddled this lake before and didn't know what to expect. Then I slipped into the mist.

The lake was smallish and comfortable.

I didn't get close to the loons, but I saw this eagle when it was in flight. (Jean took the wonderful picture of it.)

Probably the freakiest thing was being able to paddle in this:

(Well, really, the night looked more like this

but either Jean or Deanne did something cool with the filter on the shot that one of them took, so I just had to add the blue night pic as well. In reality, it was as inky black as you see above.)

There is no way you would catch me paddling on a lake in Maine in the dark, no matter how good the moonlight (Oh all right, maybe I would paddle during full moon on a lake I knew well. Maybe.).

In Maine there are these things called boulders. In the lakes. Sometimes scraping the kayak bottom if you misjudge the depth of the water when looking down into it. So night-time kayaking in Maine (for people like me, anyway) is a no-no.

The other big difference in the lakes is the amount of vegetation. The bottom of Maine lakes look like this (unless there is milfoil present)

while here I found plants like this:

and this:

and this:

and even more in the still water over by the beaver dam.*

I have to say that I actually felt pretty content to have traded this stick

for this one.

(Besides, I got crochet time in while lazing on the end of the dock in the late afternoon sun, so all is well.)

*Note to anyone paddling late at night on a beaver-inhabited lake. The loud, crashing splash you may hear while paddling by yourself on the darkest part of the lake is not the entry of a crazed moose into the water, intent upon kayak attacking, nor is the belly flop of an inordinately large bear mistaking you for a floating snack. It's simply one fat beaver slapping his tail on the water.

Little twit about scared me to death, let me tell you.