Sunday, February 24, 2008

I bought feet

In the excitement of all the cleaning, I forgot to mention these:

Yep, I bought feet. Lately, all the socks I've been making have looked misshapen when photographed on flat sock blockers, so I decided I needed a mannequin foot. Eventually, I discovered that the correct term is "hosiery form," and I found an eBay store that carried them. I bought the women's form (on the left) first, and then decided to get I needed the men's form as well.

Here's the form in action, displaying my current sock in progress: "Fountain Foxglove" from New Pathways, with an eye-of-partridge heel.

These were promised to my boss at Christmas, so I need to get cranking on them. But I've been distracted by progress on the tweed pullover. I finished the second sleeve and connected the sleeves to the body yesterday.

My plan is to continue that stripe of ribbing up the sleeves and over the shoulder. I'm pretty sure I'll have to block the ribbing out flat or the sweater will be too tight, but it's going to be sharp when it's done.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

February New Gadget Lust

There seems to be something about this season that makes me want new electronics. I'm guessing it has something to do with Christmas toys losing their shininess, and with income tax refunds waiving at me from my checking account.

I should be focused on buying a schmancy TV and an up-converting DVD player, but what I really want is a new phone. I want something iPhone-like, perhaps even an actual iPhone.

I want ubiquitous, convenient, handheld web access. I want to check my email from my phone; in particular, I would like to be able to use mobile Gmail, but the app doesn't run on Verizon devices. That just makes me want to abandon Verizon, but to do that, I would also have to move Mike and Nancy.

Someone send me the answer, please. Thanks.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cleaning Sabbatical - The Wrap Up

"Sabbatical" implies rest, a sabbath. Clearly, last week wasn't restful. I thought of it more like the sabbaticals afforded to professors: a break from the usual work to work on something else.

Though not restful, my cleaning sabbatical was satisfying. The study and basement in particular feel less oppressive now that floor space has been cleared of junk.

The cleaning project really isn't finished, but I think I managed to start something and get some momentum that will carry us through what is usually called "spring cleaning." I intend to keep a bookcase devoted to discards; I am fond of systematic approaches to problems, and while there are systems in place for getting books and media into our home, we haven't to this point had a systematic way of getting them out.

So, to my readers, thanks for putting up with the tiresome details of this little adventure. And thanks especially to Mike, who only got visibly cranky with me twice during all of this. That's monumental. The first time he was ever really mad at me was when I moved his stuff, and I expected this last week to be a living hell of domestic strife. But I worked hard to keep the disruption to a minimum : every day, an hour before Mike got off work, I stopped what I was doing and began putting things away. Mike put up with it all, and I'm grateful.

Now, honey, could you sort through the remaining video cassettes and clean out the mess under your side of the desk?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cleaning Sabbatical - Day Six

A lot more progress in the basement, but if I only did 1/3 Tuesday, I don' t know how I thought I could make up the other 2/3 on Wednesday.

I should drop it. Be satisfied with what I've done, and either give myself a day of rest or see what I can do on the unfinished side of the basement. But the work I've done these past two days feels less like cleaning and more like reclaiming an extra room in the house, so I'm going to keep plugging away.

Today I moved out of my way all the books and media that yesterday we decided to get rid of. (Most of it is packed into my car, or lining the stairs up to the main floor awaiting transport). That cleared off the new bookcase. I assembled the second bookcase, and moved them both into a corner beneath the stairs, where they currently hold the VHS collection, now ready for a deep weeding.

I cleaned out the antique post office desk that I inherited from my grandmother, and I sorted and stored my yarn stash. (Enough with the sock yarn, Donald).

My biggest accomplishment of the day was dealing with the remains of Mike's last job: adjunct writing instructor for Capital University. When he was unceremoniously booted from his position, he cleared out his office spaces and dropped it all in a corner of the basement. It was terribly painful for him, so I understood why he packed quickly and couldn't face sorting through it. I tossed the trash, consolidated the office supplies (none stolen; all purchased by Mike), and organized the rest for Mike's easy judgment.

That freed up some wall-adjacent floor space, so I shifted bookcases into a better arrangement, filled them with stuff, and reorganized our game shelves. Counting various Trivial Pursuit supplements, we have 47 games, including 7 types of "Scene It." Next month's Game Night is at our house; I'm excited that, for the first time ever, I can let guests into the basement to see the full game collection.

Like hope, but different

My inner cynic has been disgusted by how moved I am by's Obama song and video. "Dude," says the cynic, "have you no defenses against cheap sentimentality anymore?"

Apparently not.

So I set off looking for parodies. This one cracked me up. More homage than parody, picking on McCain instead of Obama, but it's funny. Check it out.

I'm loving this Viral Video Chart site.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Cleaning Sabbatical - Day Five

I would be the most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.”

(Anna Quindlen, "Enough Bookshelves," The New York Times, August 7, 1991)

Our basement poses some particular challenges. Cleaning it involves sorting through books and movies that we no longer want. Plus, Mike is part of that "we," and he is on record as an official conscientious objector to my War on Clutter. Actually, he's been swell this whole week, but if I want his cooperation, I need to make it easy on him.

I have long maintained that we have plenty of bookcases. A quick count of individual shelves, not counting the ones devoted to holding CD's, and mentally averaging out long and short shelves:
  • 33 shelves upstairs
  • 15 shelves on the main floor
  • 64 shelves in the basement
We have a bookcase and a half double-shelved with VHS tapes. This is why I say we don't need more shelves; we just need to get rid of the extra stuff.

Actual cart is much older and junkierBut I needed to start somewhere, and this idea occurred to me: a new bookcase would provide a staging area to help us get rid of stuff. So I tooled up to Big Lots, bought two bookcases, drilled one together and filled it with the books and VHS tapes. I stuck a note on it, saying, "Keep anything, but move it to book cart." (I have an old, wooden library shelving cart because I'm a geek and because a previous employer, inexplicably, wanted to sell it cheap. It's much older and junkier -- but more authentic-looking -- than the one pictured here).

I stacked every homemade VHS tape on the floor for Mike's review, and I put every taped movie that we also own on DVD into bags for the library book sale. I alphabetized all the DVD's that are downstairs, then did the trick that Mike and I have found works well for cooperative weeding: I push in everything I want to keep. He will push in everything he wants to keep. What's left sticking out is given to a library.

All this got me about a third finished with this room, so I decided to suspend my rules. I know I said each room gets only a day; but with another day, I can make some fantastic progress in the basement.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cleaning Sabbatical - Day Four

I found it enormously satisfying to unplug the computer, wrestle it out from under the desk, pop the cover, and blow three years of dust out. Best of all, when I put it all back together and turned it on, it worked. And it's quiet.

There were a lot of dead and out-dated electronics hanging around in the study, which was the target of Day Four. At the end of a very long day, the dead things have been pitched, the salvageable things have been given to people who can use them, and the useful things have been stowed. Old diskettes have been tossed, old financial records shredded, old clothes and small appliances donated to Goodwill.

Beneath the desk, I found a matted but unframed print (pictured left) that Mike bought at the Arts Festival a few years back. Since all this cleaning is upsetting his world (not to mention kicking allergens into the air), I brought it to the neighborhood frame store as a peace offering.

I told Mike I'd hang it if he would sort through some books and clean up two of the places where he's been piling stuff.

Friends, I am beat. I should start tackling the basement on Day Five, but I'm not sure I'm up to it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cleaning Sabbatical - Day Three

I'm losing steam. To say that I "worked" in the living room is to stretch the definition of "work." I moved dirty mugs to the dish washer. I threw socks into the laundry. There were a few Christmas decorations that I think Mike was hoping would become permanent decorative fixtures. I put them away, as I did with a few straggling holiday CD's that were sitting out. I made a half-hearted pass with a Swiffer duster and ran the vacuum cleaner.

In short, I redd up the room. Still, these efforts made a more visible impact than the work I did yesterday in the bedroom.

There was one achievement, however. Tucked between "my" side of the couch and the wall are my knitting tools and works in progress. I pulled all that out of there and sorted it. When it was all untangled, I found three projects (a pair of socks, a scarf, and a toy) about 80% done.

Hope makes me cry

Just in case, like me, you haven't yet contributed to the 4 million times this has been watched.

"There has never been anything false about hope."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Cleaning Sabbatical - Day Two

JoVE asked, "Is someone's mother coming to visit?"

Ha! No. Most of the areas I'm targeting are not visitor areas -- bedroom, basement, study. Even so, Mike's mom is blind, so she couldn't tell. My mom probably regrets instilling in me the carpe diem attitude that makes me choose to live my life rather than spend it cleaning.

Yes, sitting on my ass watching game shows qualifies as "living my life." Shut up.

One way of looking at all this effort: I'm cleaning so that Mike and I can find space to put more shit.

Day Two: The Bedroom.

This didn't take too long; in fact, I took a long break in the afternoon to go see a movie. Cleaning the bedroom mostly involved dusting. I pulled about a hundred books that we'll donate to our libraries, then spent the rest of my time dusting the book cases and the remaining books. I wiped dust off the walls and doors, off the vertical blinds, off the ceiling fan. I vacuumed behind dressers and under the futon. We sleep with a fan running, and I took that outside with a can of compressed air to blow the dust from that as well.

It's no wonder that all of us -- me, Mike and Dodger -- have sinus problems.

I'm very excited because while re-folding the sweaters stacked on top my dresser, I found my missing watch.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Cleaning Sabbatical - Day One

As a couple, Mike and I can most politely be described as "untidy." Our home is dusty and cluttered. It's not dangerously unsanitary, and there are no ominous smells, but if cleanliness is next to godliness, it's pretty clear that we're infidels.

So I have taken a week off work, starting today, to clean. Each day is devoted to one room, so not all rooms will get attention. And some rooms (like the two in the basement) need more than a day, but one day is all they'll get.

For the first day, I decided to stretch the definition of "room" to include my car. It's time for the 60,000 mile service, plus vacuuming, dusting, polishing the windows, and cleaning out the trunk.

Oops, I suddenly remembered that I forgot to vacuum the trunk (there are pine needles in there; I'm not quite sure how that happened). Will have to get to that on Saturday.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Partisan, political message

I'm going all liberal for a moment. International and conservative readers and those of you who have already voted or caucused should just move along.

In the general election, I will doubtlessly be supporting Dolores, but for the primary, I seem to be following demographic expectations and supporting Obama.

I like Senator Clinton; I always have. But I fear that she is unelectable as a Presidential candidate. Conservatives of all varieties loathe her. I never understood this Clinton-hating until I experienced similar feelings for our current President.

Think about that: much of the country hates Hillary Clinton as much as you hate George W. Bush. They will put aside their differences and unite behind any candidate that is not her, leaving us another Republican President to make Supreme Court appointments.

What's weird to me is, if I know this, why doesn't she? She's smarter than I am.

Look, policy-wise, there's very little discernible difference between Clinton and Obama.* Therefore, we need to nominate the candidate who can win. And speaking from my blue household in a red precinct of a blue city in a red state, I'm telling you that winner is not Clinton.

* In truth, I score highest with Clinton on Candidate Match.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Hey, yesterday was my blogiversary! My very first real blog post was about a scarf I was making from Blithe baby camel yarn, but I didn't tell the story of finding that yarn.

I was in Salem, Mass. for a work thing, and I had the afternoon free. I fired up my laptop, connected to my hotel's free wireless, searched for yarn shops in town, discovered Arbella Yarns, and looked up directions to walk there from my hotel. The shop didn't disappoint. I'm easily attracted to funky fibers, and yarn made from baby camels? Gotta get me some of that.

Expensive stuff, and a total pain to wind into balls, but it made a gorgeous scarf.

Today, while picking through the carcass of the late and lamented "Stitch Stops Here" yarn shop, I found a box of the Blithe baby camel yarn at 60% off. It's mine now.

Fourteen skeins, in colorways brown (5 skeins), straw (7), and cinnamon (2). Anyone have any good suggestions what I can make out of it?