Eye of the Storm

Things just keep happening around here, but I’ve actually had a few hours to breathe, at least! Sorry no photo illustrations. After you read this, you will forgive me, I think.

Monday was totally insane. I had a knitting class to teach in Dayton, as well as several important errands, so Hubby came home from work to baby sit the furnace repairmen. Yes, that’s right. The furnace up and quit Saturday night. He tried to fix it himself, but it was beyond his understanding of gas furnaces and WELL beyond his fear factor threshhold – and mine, too, for that matter. When he worked on it Sunday, I developed a strong interest in the part of the house most distant from where he was tinkering. I figured at least one of us needed to survive the attempt. I can’t tell you how glad I was when he gave up!

Before class, I stopped at Lowe’s to buy a  new bathroom fixture. The one over my vanity is flashing like a beer sign, and it’s uglier, too. I hate fluorescent tube fixtures anywhere, but I absolutely despise them in Victorian homes for some reason. Go ahead; say I’m narrow-minded… Since remodeling that bathroom is very high on my priority list, I bought the fixture I’d like to have for that fantasy – one less item to get if/when it actually happens. It’s not mounted yet, but I do have it! I also grabbed a couple battery operated puck lights to put under the kitchen cabinet on the frig side. The other side is longer and wired, but wiring is awkward on the right hand side, and since I just finished releasing it from solid pack clutter (while keeping my distance from the furnace), I thought it deserved a special little treat. 🙂

Meanwhile, on the hour drive into town, I had been praying for my daughter, who was disposing of her gall bladder at the time, fielding calls from my husband about the furnace and retirement village apartment rental, and trying to find a contractor who would actually come and measure the windows. Of course, as soon as I found one, the missing guy called, promising to be out post haste. That was Monday morning and this is Wednesday night, and guess who I’ve not heard from since… At least I DID finally hear that my daughter was in recovery, and things had gone well – though now that she felt horrible, they were in a huge hurry to send her home instantly. And hubby called to report the furnace was functioning again. Three down…

Class went well, but what happened AFTER class still has me fuming! My cell phone started exhibiting signs of failure over the weekend (of course…), and with it being 6 years old, it was not entirely unexpected. I stopped by the AT&T store, planning to replace it with an iPhone 4, after having done many hours of research. Instantly, the salesman embarked on an all out effort to dissuade me from following my intended course, and in the end, I caved and did it his way, bringing home a Samsung Focus, instead. I could write an entire post about this little fiasco! Now don’t get me wrong – nothing incurably horrible with the phone at this point, I don’t think. It’s just that the fellow at the Xenia AT&T store told me so many stories it’s not funny, and I’m going to be upset with him for a very long time.

  • He told me he would transfer my phone list, my saved TM’s (some info I was storing), and all my photos to my new phone. Once I signed the contract, it was “good-bye and good luck,” and guess what he did NOT do for me. Of course, the old phone is deactivated, so although I have all the stuff stored on it, now it can’t be moved.
  • He told me he was going to cut me a special deal – multiple times – but in the end, charged me the normal store price for everything.
  • Numerous times, he quoted prices for things – like restocking, insurance deductibles, etc., that were not accurate for the model I bought – and notably cheaper than reality.
  • He told me that I could wait and add a memory card later – which is somewhat true. However, if I do that, it will reset the phone to “like new” status, which I didn’t find out until I’d put hours of work into setting it up, buying some apps and putting phone numbers and email addresses in by writing.
  • He had absolutely no idea that the memory card cannot be removed from the Focus phones without rendering both the card and the phone useless.
  • Despite our extended discussion about ringtones and my irritation about having to repurchase the personalized ones I use to make my life ever so much easier, he never bothered to tell me that the Focus does not accept aftermarket ringtones, and I would have no choice but to use one of the series of generally unpleasant electronic beeps and blunders available pre-programmed in the phone. Not only do I hate those, but they sound just like everyone else’s phone, so now I’m going to be forced to join the eye-rolling game of looking at my phone to see if it’s mine whenever one rings in a crowd. How I’m going to learn to tell the personalized tones apart when the only ones that aren’t superbly obnoxious sound pretty much the same is another story. Again, this would most definitely have been a deal breaker for me.
  • He was doing this “wonderful service” for me by installing my screen protector from the seriously overpriced “bundle” of accessories that should be standard, and he managed to trap debris under it. That is going to drive me crazy!
  • I guess I’m naive, but when the salesman chatters on and on about the things one can do with a Focus, I sort of figure I really can do them – and without adding umpteen more paid services to my phone bill, especially when I’m told there are no hidden charges!
  • And I guess I’m a bit foolish, but I went in intending to get the $15 media package. I have WiFi at home, so how much do I really need outside the house? He managed to convince be to get the $25 package “for the first few months.” I’m guessing he’s on commission for some reason, and I was his sucker of the evening.
  • There are only two huge problem so far that is not the fault of the salesman is that the manual that comes with the phone is very minimalist – a quick start guide. I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but Samsung, not everyone in this world already knows how these phones function! The other rather critical problem is that my ancient Motorola V557 had absolutely no reception problems, but my Focus volume wavers in and out constantly on phone calls, going from too loud to bear to too soft to hear and back again within seconds. Now that is a HUGE problem! So how much of the phone problem is solved, even after several hours on the phone with AT&T tech support? Well… Let’s just say that the final chapter in the phone saga has yet to be written.

So anyway, Monday saw the furnace repaired, minimal contact with our window contractor, knitting class taught, successful surgery for my daughter, new bathroom light purchased, new phone perhaps temporarily purchased, and the deposit made on a retirement village apartment for my father-in-law.

Tuesday, I crashed – totally.

I really think I deserved it.

Besides, crazy is only just beginning!

 

 

Fenestration, Ortho-statics, and Bilirubin – Oh MY!

Remember those “famous last words” in my most recent post about this being a busy week, but hopefully much less surprising? Yeh… right! I know that this week could technically have been even more tumultuous, but if it had been, I’m not sure I’d be here writing a blog post right now.

Monday was my first day teaching the Baby Surprise Jacket at my LYS. Of course, first day of a class series always has its trials and triumphs, but I had fun. However, class did run WAY over time, and I ended up late to Guild meeting trying to grab a fast food supper on the way. Then I arrived to a very dark venue, due to Candace’s slide show. Instead of sneaking in unobserved, the program was interrupted and the lights turned on while someone located an empty chair for me. Blush…

Tuesday we drove to Cincinnati to look at some fenestration options. This would be my first new word for the week, and it has to do with the art/science of windowing a house. This is an unexpected emergency project, basically because we have one window we simply can’t close, and we are relatively sure that winter will eventually arrive here…

We are planning to replace just this window and one other that is broken at this point, and we’ve chosen to use Marvin windows. We were going to do more, but it seems that the contractor Marsh Builders recommended must not need work right now. He’s still not called to set up an appointment to measure our openings, despite my second call to the company, and it looks at this point as if it’s going to be physically impossible for him to get them installed before the end of the year deadline for the tax credit, since there is a 4 week lead time just to get the windows – without holidays. No energy credit is sort of a deal breaker on spending more right now. I guess it would have been a good thing to have known about that credit before last weekend… sigh… Now we’d just like someone to do SOMETHING for us before this rather big pane of glass hits the ground two stories down…

or we have to stow a snow shovel in the hallway upstairs. 😉

Wednesday brought my bulldozing buddy, who is helping me work through the decluttering project. It’s amazing how hard and how long we can work, and how exhausted I can be at the end of the day, and yet feel like we got through such a small percentage of the problem. I can’t be anything except unbelievably grateful for the help I’m getting though. This is so far beyond my ability to conquer alone, and it’s a marvel to have someone come alongside me and help. 🙂 There are actually moments once in a while when I think it might even be possible to get my life back. What a miracle that would be!

Then came Thursday. Not long after I woke up, I received a phone call that my father-in-law, who lives more than an hour away, had been rushed to the hospital via ambulance, condition unknown – and for that matter, hospital unknown – but symptoms sounding as if he might have had a stroke. Thankfully, I finally located him, and after three days in the hospital he was released. Instead of TIA’s or a small stroke, he was having ortho-static (next new word for the week) problems – blood pressure/dizziness related stuff, particularly evident when he changed “altitude” by sitting or standing. Much easier fix than the stroke we were fearing, but this was still definitely more stress than either hubby or I needed, especially since we ended up spending all day Friday touring senior care facilities in his area. Though he’s home for now, we are going to learn first hand what it’s like to move a parent into a retirement/care community and break up a household established some 60 years ago – long distance and before the year is over. It’s going to be a very challenging 5 weeks to 2011.

Now Friday had actually felt rather positive. We found a place we really loved for my FIL, nice enough I even thought I might be able to live there – presuming I could get two apartments so I had room for my dolls and yarn and fleece and fabric… – and when we stopped to visit at the hospital, he was looking and feeling much better. We stopped for our first meal in 10 hours, celebrating with a rare treat, a Cassano’s pizza, which was simply marvelous. As we left the restaurant and were getting into my car, hubby’s phone rang with a call from Daughter#2. This was odd, as she was supposed to be spending her birthday on a Caribbean island and had told me not to bother calling, as she wouldn’t be answering her phone. My heart was in my throat in an instant, and it stayed there for many hours to come. Instead of being in Dominica, she and her husband had just arrived at the airport in Baltimore on an emergency flight home and were making a mad dash to the hospital. The ship’s doctor had diagnosed a life-threatening condition that she felt couldn’t wait even another day. If you’ve never been in this situation, let me tell you that hearing your daughter’s liver isn’t functioning, her bilirubin (At least I knew what this strange word was!) levels are sky high, she’s 8 hours away and in terrible pain, and on top of it all, she has just lost a fantasy vacation and it’s her birthday, no less… well… it’s definitely one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had in my life – and my reserves were already shot with my father-in-law’s situation!

Happily, at this writing, my daughter is in much better condition than she was two days ago. She’s discovered the grand world of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. In layman’s terms, she had a camera for lunch on Saturday. 😉 Under anesthesia, a camera was fed down her throat and eventually to a place where her liver and pancreas could be examined. During the procedure, they were able to locate and remove a large gallstone that had lodged in an important duct in her liver. The pain is gone, but she has a killer sore throat – probably a good swap, in all honesty. She’s still not eaten since Wednesday, and sometime Monday she’ll be bidding adieu to the hooligan gall bladder that started all the trouble in the first place. One of the things I learned this week is that gall bladder problems aren’t just a pain; they can be a life-threatening problem.

Suffice it to say, after all this I’m trying very hard not to try to imagine what lies in wait for me this coming week. However, God has seen us through an impossible week. My Sunday has been a blessed oasis – the first thing anywhere near a “normal” day I’ve had in nearly a month. In a few hours, it all begins again, but today I’ve felt peace, hope, and much enveloping love and prayer from a myriad of online friends and acquaintances, and for this moment, that’s been enough.

Survivor

I’ve quit wondering what’s going to happen next around here. I got home a week ago from my 5th big trip this year, and I can’t believe I’ve not blogged a word about it! It’s been a brutal week, and this coming week doesn’t look like it’s going to be any easier, though hopefully it will carry less shock value. I’m to the point I’m half expecting to find out I’ve been an unknowing victim of some peculiar TV reality show – perhaps a twisted version of Survivor blended with Candid Camera, where instead of eating truly gruesome foods, unknowing participants are subjected to a continued onslaught of very stressful events, which blind-side them with their unexpectedness.

That said, this post isn’t about my recent trip or my head-shaker of a week – past or coming. Instead, I thought I’d spread a little bit of my weekend sunshine around. As tough as it was for me to change gears when I discovered on Tuesday that I’d totally forgotten registering for a full weekend workshop our knitting guild sponsored this weekend, I’m really glad I didn’t cancel out on it. We had Candace Eisner-Strick come in for 12 hours of classes, and despite the fact that I was battling a migraine, I managed to learn some really great new knitting tricks. Can’t wait to incorporate them in some real knitting!

Saturday was a bit frustrating for me. Our class was on Bavarian Traveling Twisted Stitches – or some permutation of those words. For me, the concept was very simple to grasp, and an hour long class would have been more than sufficient on the topic, but there are a lot of different combinations of learning style and experience in a group that large, and Candace wanted to take the time to ensure every student succeeded, so the class was a six-hour venture that left me very glad I’d brought along my Baby Surprise Jacket to knit. I nearly finished the BSJ, and I also made the sampler just below. I’m glad I attended, even if I did feel like it was moving too slowly most of the time. Whereas I’d have had no problem doing this alone, having the day away from the house with this being my primary goal made it actually happen. Considering I’ve had two of the best pattern books for Austrian knitting on my library shelf for at least a couple years, I think I needed the kick in the pants to actually do it!

I know – doesn’t really look like much, does it? It’s just one repeat of each of 11 different stitch patterns set one after the other, so they aren’t very distinct for the most part. Today I started working to separate each pattern with a basted contrast strand, and for this post, I put a straight line between each of the designs. We worked the patterns in the round with three identical patterns, so in all, each was worked 3 times. I really wish it was a technique that lent itself to back and forth knitting, so I could see what three repeats looked like worked in succession instead of side by side, but I’ll have to wait until I produce a real project, I suppose.

Candace does her twisted stitch knitting in a non-traditional way, twisting the stitches differently for left travelers than right travelers. I want to play with some samples done in the traditional fashion as well, with all the stitches twisted the same way, as apparently the Austrian queen of this technique wasn’t particularly keen on this alternative look. Me being me, I’m going to have to play with it both ways. 😉 I suspect I’ll be happy with both, and I will choose when I wish to use each style. I wouldn’t dare use the modern take on it to knit a sweater for an antique German doll, after all!

Sunday there were technically two separate 3-hour workshops, though the edges sort of blended together in the end. The first of these two, titled “Traditions!” was unquestionably my favorite of all, and the best reason for me to have invested a weekend in these workshops. Candace led us through 5 traditional techniques, 3 of which were entirely new to me, and one of which was presented with a tidbit of info that I needed to have known long before now.

First we did the Channel Island cast-on. It’s just a dab more fussy than most other cast-ons I’ve used, but not that much slower once I learned how to hold my tongue just right. We used it both as a base for ribbing and as a provisional cast-on later in the day, and although I’m not totally smitten with the provisional use, it looks so gorgeous with ribbing that I’m definitely sold there, and I wonder if I’ll be able to use anything else when I’m ribbing in the future. It’s definitely worth the effort in this application!

The Fair Isle Corrugated Ribbing was… well… a wee bit of a trial for me, as I didn’t see what was happening until I was done with it. One thing we learned later on during the Norwegian Lice segment is that when you are knitting with two colors, the strand that is running in the lower position on the back is the one that will have the larger, dominant stitches on the front. (This totally explains a minor disaster I had earlier this year…) You don’t have to be an expert to see that I must have swapped the positions of my two colors on each row I knit on my corrugated ribbing. In my defense, this ribbing was never meant to be knit flat, but because of time constraints, we were doing precisely that. Knit in the round, there wouldn’t be a nasty backside row teasing me into swapping colors to the opposite hand in order to avoid purling continental…

It’s a toss up as to whether I love the Channel Island with ribbing or the Latvian Braid more.  Both are pure knitting magic! We were to make one braid, but I decided to double mine, reversing the direction of the second one. I’m definitely going to have to find a good place to use this wonderful little trick in the future!

I skipped the the fourth tradition – knitting a swatch of Old Shale. Having just finished an entire shawl in that pattern, I figured my time was better spent working on the BSJ… 😉 The last item on the agenda was the Norwegian Lice. Of course, the bit about the lower yarn color being dominant was the big surprise in this part of the lesson. I hadn’t expected to learn anything doing such a simple pattern, and must confess to an internal eye roll when I saw it on the list. 😉 Live and learn! Candace also took a moment to show me that there really IS a quick and easy way to lock a long float into the back of of colorwork when it’s the right hand yarn that needs anchored – yet another tidbit that was nearly worth the price of the entire workshop for me. 🙂

Sunday’s second segment was focused on two of the primary uncommon techniques in Candace’s newest book, Strick-ly Socks. She’s worked out an unusual way to knit the toe (and the heel the same way), which allow them to be started flat. It’s pretty slick, once you get the basics worked out, and I bought her book, figuring I need to try a whole pair out, if nothing else, just for the experience. I’m always game to try something new. 🙂 If you like to knit toe up socks, but you aren’t comfortable with any of the normal starts, don’t give up until you give this one a try, as it’s a totally different way to go.

You probably can’t tell a thing from this photo (Try clicking to make it full sized?), but we also used a totally new to me method of binding off, too. It works, and it looks pretty good, but the jury is still out as to whether I will embrace it in the long run or stick with my comfortable Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off that has been serving me so well. Jeny’s is definitely faster, and I don’t have to worry about whether I’ve cut a long enough piece of yarn, but Candace’s does work, is rather tidy, and is also very stretchy. It’s definitely worth trying out if  you are the curious sort of knitter. 🙂

So, although I felt like Saturday dragged terribly and I had to drive into the city two consecutive days, I do feel that over all, my weekend was very well spent, and I’d definitely recommend Candace’s workshops – especially Traditions! since it was my very favorite. Each had much to offer if you have interests in the areas covered, and I know that I have come out of my class time a better knitter than I was. 🙂

‘Nother One Down!

Despite my crazy year and the fact that I’ve done a remarkably poor job of posting a monthly update on my 2010 goals, I am still working at them as diligently as I can. I most certainly won’t be wiping out the entire list, but today I completed one of them WAY ahead of schedule. 🙂 I just finished reading book #100. Now considering that in early July, I was seriously doubting that I’d even accomplish that goal at all, finishing it nearly 2 months before the year is over is really something. Despite the havoc my Chicago injury wrecked on my life, it certainly did help with my reading goal! 😉 Something about reading 3 dozen books in 2 months can change things a bit.

Book #100 was Vienna Prelude, the first book by Bodie Thoene I’ve ever read. It was a decent read, despite a bit of melodrama here and there – decent enough so that I’ll read other titles by her.

Now I’m curious how much more I will get through during the remaining few weeks of this year. It will be nice to not be worried about getting “one last book” done on December 31, for sure!

Published in: on November 8, 2010 at 11:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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