Monday, May 26, 2008

Long Overdue

So, our trip to Tennessee seems like ages ago, what with all the stuff that's gone on since we've returned. But I'd be a bad blogger, and an even worse sister if I didn't at least share with you the pride of getting to watch Jessica graduate with university honors, Suma Cum Laude. Yep, there ain't no dummies in this family.

Way to go, Jess!

Of course, we did lots of other stuff while we were there:

We took the kids hiking in the woods... ok, so we went hiking in the woods and carried the kids, mostly.

We even dragged Nana to Chuck E. Cheese for an evening of bad pizza and mayhem

We built a bear... or two.

We visited with family, and generally just had a great and relaxing time.

I wish we could have stayed longer.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Still no pictures

We got our cable, and our internet service back on Sunday, so on Monday I plugged my old computer back in, and sat down to do some catching up on my favorite blogs and various other online thing, and also started backing up my photos and other important files that I'd been neglecting for the past month or twelve. Sure enough, about an hour into my work, the poor thing went into convulsions on me, and was later pronounced dead.

We have two other computers in the house, so it's not like I don't have any alternatives, but that was MY computer. My comptuer with my files and my bookmarks, set up the way I like it.

We're going to try and pull the hard drive out and slave it to J's computer to see if we can retreive any of the stuff that's still on there-- ahem... like ALL of my transcription stuff that I'm truly ALMOST done with. Man, if I have to go back and re-do all of those reports I'm going to just sit down and cry! And I don't even want to talk about all of the pictures of J-man that are stuck on there, possibly never to be seen again.

Lesson learned-- I'll be more diligent about backing things up from now on.

On the knitting front-- did I tell you that I finished the ballet cami? Well, she's done. A bit too small, even after blocking the heck out of it. But if I block it a little less firmly, it'll fit my sister perfectly, so it wasn't a complete waste of knitting effort. She tried it on the other day and loved it, so I'll be glad to see it go somewhere where it'll get used.

I've cast on for the Shalom Cardigan, using an even thicker yarn than the pattern calls for, so I'm thinking it should fit just fine. Besides, it's a pretty forgiving pattern as far as size goes, I think. I'm loving it's simplicity, and I could see myself knitting this pattern again and again. Now to just wait about 10 months until we have weather cool enough to wear it!

Also working on a pair of Monkeys that I'm not in love with. The pattern, of course, is fabulous, and I like the make-up of the yarn I'm using, but the color is horrendous! It's stuff I've had in my stash forever, given to me by someone a long time ago. I'm considering finishing them up and then overdyeing them to tone down the blinding brightness and erratic color changes. Right now I'm calling them "puke-monkeys" and will share a picture of them just as soon as I have the capabilities.

Today we're meeting up with Michele and Thomas for a little while. The boys are going to go see Speed Racer, and Michele and I will do the usual coffee and yarn. Looking forward to it.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Whew! That was close!

You know, you never expect for things like this to happen to you. No matter how big of a threat there is-- it just never seems like it's going to be your emergency, until it is.

A week ago today most of our city was battling brush fires-- about three miles south east of us it was a raging inferno and we were sitting right here watching it on the news, calling our friends who's homes were in danger, and offering assistance. We were sitting pretty, upwind of the blazes, and not worried a bit for our own possessions and lives.

Then, out of nowhere, I look out the livingroom window and there's smoke in our backyard. Hubby jumped up and ran outside to discover a new fire started about 4 streets west of us and moving our way fast. I can't even begin to tell you the entire sequence of fortunate events that occurred that day, and most of it is still a big blur, but someone was looking out for us.

As he turned on ever sprinkler we had and began hosing down the roof, I ran around inside, trying to gather important paperwork and throw a change or two of clothes together for us, knowing we only had minutes to get out.

I'll spare you the panic and the chaos of trying to keep calm and brave in front of the kids while being eaten away by total panic inside. But we managed to throw a few things in the car, load up the dogs and the two cats we could catch, and we pulled out of the driveway as the flames crossed the canal and began burning our street.

I'll never forget sitting there, less than a block away, stuck in traffic with the smoke billowing up in the rear-view mirror, sickly knowing that the black smoke was our house and everything we owned burning up. And while it hurt, I didn't lose sight of all rationality. I had my pets, my family, and honestly, nothing else really mattered. It was a sick sort of calm.

We got the animals to the kennel and went to sit anxiously at the inlaws, with no local tv, no radio, and no way of knowing how bad things were.

Sometime around midnight, after J was asleep, we decided to try and get back to survey the damage.

The neighborhood was a warzone of smoke, still burning fires, and chaos. But there in the bend of the road, amidst the cinders and smoldering woods, was our house, still standing, and untouched!

Our next door neighbors were our angels that night-- refusing to leave. And when the fire trucks ran out of water, they carried on, hooking the well pumps up to their generator and battling the hotspots with garden hoses.

They saved our home and theirs, and there's no way in the world I could ever repay them for such bravery and selflessness.

Things are slowly getting back to normal for us, but for so many folks around us, normal is gone. It's a charred wasteland surrounding us, dotted with eerily untouched homes. It almost makes you feel guilty to be so lucky.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Spring bug

I still owe a post about our vacation, baby sister's graduation, and all the other stuff we did while in Tn, but since I haven't uploaded any pictures from my camera, it'll have to wait a little longer.

Instead, enjoy this post, void of pictures, where I simply ramble about everyday stuff.

Ever since we returned home, I've had the urge to clean and organize the house in a way that I haven't in years. Seriously. Years. And I never really realized how much of a pack rat I could be until I started emptying out my closet.

And since I'm feeling quite ADD at the moment, let's talk about the closet. But before I tell you about the closet, I have to tell you about my crafting area. You see, I never do much in the way of crafting because I lack the space to spread things out. We don't own a single table, aside from J's little folding kiddie table, so it makes it difficult to do things like cut out fabric, or attach a ball winder and swift in any sort of decent fashion. If I want to sew, I have to place the machine on a tv tray, and cut everything out on the floor. Not ideal at all. Then add to that, the fact that when I'm done, everything has to get returned to their respective closets and cupboards. It's hardly worth the hassle most of the time.

That's when it dawned on me that my closet would serve as a perfect small craft area.

The Layout: Our closet is a large walk-through closet. You have to walk through it in order to get to the bathroom on the other side. On each long wall are the usual clothes bars and shelving that you find in any closet, and right through the middle is just an empty walk way. One side has sliding glass doors to conceal the contents and the other is just an open area with the bar and shelves running along the top.

The problem: I hate cleaning out closets, and I'm no good at getting rid of things, even when I know that they're useless to me. Hubby is even worse than I am. On my side (the side with no doors) there were clothes ranging in sizes from 22 all the way down to 8. Probably 95% of the stuff taking up space in there will never ever be worn again. Hubby's side-- pants ranging from 30s, all the way to... ahem... he doesn't want me to divulge, but let's just say 'larger'.

The Plan: I started thinking the other day-- if I cleaned out the closet and got rid of all the stuff in there, we could fit all of our wearable stuff in one side, opening up a whole bunch of space. If I cleared up the side without doors, I could fit a sewing table in there, and use the bar for some of those hanging organizers to store my yarns, fabrics, etc. I could also line the top shelf with bins or cubbies of some sort, and have an actual craft space. Sure, it'd be fairly small, but it's a whole lot better than what I've got now.

So, it was just an idea until I opened up a Joann's email and it contained a 40% off and a $5 shipping coupon. Deal sealed. I'm making a craft room!

In the past three days I've hauled three enormous bags of clothing out of the closet destined for Goodwill, and two more have gone to the shed filled with winter stuff that we won't need for another 8 months or so. I've also packed a box off to my baby sister, which I hope she'll find useful and wearable. If not, she can always pass them along to someone else.

It feels good to declutter and get rid of all that junk, and I'm so glad I found a good reason to get my butt in there and do it.

Today J and I met up with Michele and we did some knitting while J played on an indoor playground, and we also did some shopping. I bought a slipcover for the couch. Yes, it's a fairly new couch, but I've learned that tan microfiber does not hold up well under the stress of a drooly child and two big dogs that sneak up there when we're not home. One of the cushions is lopsided, and not in that butt-print sort of way-- really lopsided, and Kelli has loosened up a seam across the back from standing on it to look out the window when we're not home. So, a slipcover will give us a bit more time with this couch before chucking it to the curb in disgust. I will never buy microfiber again.

But the big thing of the day, and perhaps the greatest mother's day gift I could ever receive is that while I was out having a blast- hubby was home cleaning his fool head off. Seriously. I know. He scrubbed the orange hard water stains out of the bathroom, steam cleaned all the carpets, cleaned the bedroom, and also steamed the couches. It looks almost brand new in here, or as brand new as a house can look when it's full of kid toys and dog hair. Makes me almost enjoy being home.

The garden is growing daily, the flower beds are colorful and full of life, the sidewalks are edged and the yard is clean. I'm almost tempted to invite everyone over, just to prove that I really don't live in a total dump.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Catching my breath

Yes, it's true. Vacation is over for us. We arrived home last night, just in time to catch a few hours of sleep before I had to go to work today. Since then it's been a whirlwind of things to accomplish-- mainly getting the dogs home from the kennel and restocking the fridge a little.

On top of that, we're having to shop for a new washing machine. Ours is on it's last leg. It still washes, but refuses to rinse, so it's pretty useless. Man! If it ain't one thing, it's another.

And this week is "Teacher Appreciation Week" at J's school, so I just had to whip up a little goodie for him to take with him tomorrow for his teachers. I also picked up a couple of little things for the classroom that was on his teacher's wish list. I feel like a bad parent, not having the time to sit down and do cute little hand-made cards and stuff, but honestly, I just don't have it in me. J hates to color, and has no interest in making anything, and it's not worth the fight to MAKE him do it. So, it's homemade cookie bars from him. Good enough, considering I've been on my feet for almost 20 hours straight now.

More upbeat stuff to come, I promise, including some pics from our trip and a brief narrative. But first... a shower and some sleep!

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