Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Last hurrah

It's supposed to warm up this week.  Of course, you couldn't tell when we woke up: it was snowing again.  And it's supposed to snow again tonight.  But in the middle of the afternoon, it crept up over freezing, and it's supposed to each day this week.  So, before the snow is gone forever, I decided to take advantage of it:

What's this giant pile of snow in my front yard?

Yes, I built an igloo.

When I was a kid growing up in Illinois, I always wanted to build an igloo, but I never did.  Maybe the snow was never right.  Maybe I got tired.  Maybe I just didn't have enough understanding of how to build things.  I don't remember why, but I never managed it.  Then a few days ago we drove by another block in our neighborhood, and one of the houses has a huge igloo, at least eight feet tall.  You could stand up in it.  I got jealous.

So, with the weather over freezing and the snow nice and wet, I put my mind to it.  My sweetie dug snow, and I built.  The neighbor's kids "helped" by throwing snowballs at both of us during construction :-).

It's pretty big inside.  You can't stand up in it, but there's lots of room for sprawling.

When we dug into the snow in the front yard, I'd have to say it was at least twelve inches deep.  Amazing.  I built the igloo from the sides up; it probably would have been easier to make a giant pile of snow and dig into it, since we certainly had enough snow, but I didn't want to take the easy way.  It'll probably be all melted tomorrow, and my back is pretty sore after all that digging and packing, but hey: one of my life's ambitions is fulfilled!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Real football

Well, we did it:

I pulled out my long down coat, my sweetie put on long johns, and we went.

It snowed the entire game.  I loved it!  In my opinion, real football is played in the snow.  Football played in air conditioned domed stadiums in hot states is pansy football.  If we were only going to see one game this season (and we are), I am glad it was a real game.

Alas, the Jets lost.  Oh well, you can't have everything.  We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly nonetheless, and were glad we braved the elements and this stubbornly plow-free city to go.

OK, this is ridiculous

OK, I love snow, but this is kind of ridiculous.

It snowed again on Thursday morning, and then again last night.  And each time, it snowed a lot.  Thursday morning I attempted to go to work, in the pouring snow.  My sweetie came with me, because we were nervous about the driving.  And rightfully so: when we turned the corner to go down the hill, we sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiid out of control to the bottom.  Very slowly, but still: I was scared.  It didn't help that there was a kid sledding on the hill.  In the street.  When we got to bottom, I turned to my sweetie, and said, "I'm not going to work."  We returned home and had a two-hour snowball fight with the neighborhood kids (and their parents).  (Embarrassingly, my throwing arm and all down my right side were really sore on Friday and Saturday.  Sheesh.)

Then last night, this:

Can you tell we had a huge snowball fight in our backyard on Thursday?  The snow was all torn up.  There were snow angels.  Really, there were.

See the arrow pointing out the walkway in front of house?  This walkway was totally cleared yesterday morning.  We are responsible homeowners!  We shoveled the walk!  Sigh.

For Christmas, I got my sweetie tickets to the Jets game.  People around here keep calling it the Seahawks game, but what do they know?  Anyway, the game is today.  I don't know how we're going to get there.  Seattle is totally unprepared for snow.  They never plowed after Thursday, so all this new snow is on top of packed three-day-old ice.  People are trapped in their homes.  As someone who grew up with snow and snow plows that start going even before the snow has started accumulating, I am finding this a little maddening.  My sweetie saw the city official in charge of streets clearing on the news, and they asked him how he planned to deal with this.  His answer was essentially, "Hopefully it will get warmer."

We're thinking if we go to the game we will start early.  Maybe we will walk.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

More suburbia

It's very, very cold in Seattle right now.  Below freezing, which is unusual.  And last night it snowed quite a bit, also unusual:

I was very excited to see the snow.  I love snow, and I didn't get enough of it in NYC (I think the city was just too hot for snow).  Last night it started snowing early in the evening,  light snow that was collecting on grass but not on pavement.  But around 10:30 or 11:00 it started snowing heavily, so that it started collecting on the streets and sidewalks.  I insisted on going for a walk in the snow.

As we walked down the block, I scooped some snow off a nearby parked car and discovered it was the perfect packing consistency.  I started rolling the ball along the street.  My sweetie said, "Why don't you do it on the grass?  The snow is deeper."  So I did.  We left a 12-inch diameter ball on the lawn of one of our neighbors and went on our way.

By the time we came back, about 45 minutes later (we stopped for a drink in a neighborhood bar which was surprisingly crowded), the ball was still there, the snow was still falling, and I decided I'd better make a snowman while the making was still good.  I picked the ball up, took it to our house, and made some additions:

I love it :-).  The next morning it was still there.  We went out to sweep the snow off our car and started talking with various neighbors who were out playing with their kids (the kids were excited: snow is rare).  My sweetie and I got into quite a snowball fight with a couple of the kids.  At least three people asked us how we had made the snowman, because by the time the sun came out this morning, the snow was too cold and icy to pack well.  Thus proving that when the snow is perfect, you must seize your opportunity.  I was out there at midnight, and I have my snowman to show for it :-).

We finally got our lights up, too.  We visited several stores before finding lights: the Lowe's in particular looked like light-eating locusts had descended and devoured every last bulb.  It was creepy.  But if you look closely, you can see what we did manage to buy at the nearby drugstore, standing by the porch.  My sweetie calls him "Snowy."

Saturday, December 06, 2008

One advantage of suburbia

OK, I realize that I do not technically live in the suburbs: I am in Seattle.  I don't have a gigantic scary huge grocery store to shop in, I just have a big store.  But seriously, after years in Manhattan, this is plenty suburbian for me!

I noticed this past fall that the changing color of leaves were really stirking me.  I'd turn a corner (in my car) and see a whole avenue of orange or red, and it would lift my spirits.  It made me realize that I didn't get a whole lotta nature in Manhattan, and while I wouldn't say I really missed it (after all, I never sought it out), it's kind of nice to have.

One thing  I did miss in Manhattan was sky.  I like sky.  When the Hale-Bopp comet swung by earth, I had to go out on a boat on the East River to see it.  I visited the Orkneys once, and was completely enchanted by the sky.  When I got home, people were like, "Um, why did you take so many pictures of the sky??"   When I went rafting in Idaho some years ago I was amazed at the night sky.  I don't know much about the sky, but it's sure pretty.

So today, as I left the house at 7:40 am to go to my Saturday morning Pilates class (so worth it, seriously), I was struck by the gorgeous sky.  Normally I don't look up.  It's often overcast here.  It had been dark when I had gotten up.  But this was not ignorable.  I whipped out my camera and took pictures....of the sky.


Same sky.  Cool, hunh?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

I'm not sure what to think

So, not unexpectedly, my sweetie was laid off this week.  Most of his coworkers were also laid off.  WaMu is truly no more.

It's got me thinking about a lot of things.  I recently got into a brief discussion in comments on someone else's blog about choices, the economy, and how to fix this whole mess.  Twenty years after I first got on an online message board and learned the meaning of the word "flame," and you'd think I would know better :-).  Anyway, this person told me that we make our choices and have to live by them, and her husband had survived 25 years at his company and countless rounds of layoffs, so "he must be doing something right."  Implying that if my husband got laid off, it would probably be because he was lazy.  She did use the word "lazy". The smug complacency in this statement left me breathless (though no longer speechless) with rage.  I heard on the news that 80% of WaMu's Seattle workforce lost their jobs on Monday.  I suppose you could say that it's no wonder a company with a workforce consisting of 80% lazy people failed.  

I wish I could be as sure that making the right choices is always guaranteed, or even that making the right choices, assuming you can manage it every time, guarantees health, happiness, success, etc.  I wish I could believe that nothing is left to chance.  That there are no flukes, that you cannot be affected by anything that you are not personally responsible for.  I mean, of course, that I wish nothing had ever happened to me to make me think otherwise.

There are a lot of reasons to be down--how about the WalMart employee who was trampled to death on Black Friday by shoppers who continued to shop even when  they knew someone had been killed?  The self-centeredness depresses me.  That's why I think even though the election supposedly changed things, nothing will change, because everyone thinks they're better than everyone else.  Everyone thinks the other guy should suck it up.  We'll be pointing fingers at everyone who is lazier or stupider or more morally bankrupt than we until we're a snivelling footnote in history.

All of this has me thinking, too, about love and marriage, because what makes everything OK is that we're in this together.  I know that sounds smooshy and cliche's kind of true.  However worried I am, being with my sweetie makes me smile.  I can't say we haven't had a few stressed moments during this mess, and or that we won't have more, but I think we are both very happy to have each other.  Though I sometimes miss NYC and my comfortable single life without any real worries, I don't really wish to be back there.  I like it in Seattle.  I love our house.  I like my job, though now more than ever I wish it paid more.  And I love my sweetie.  Life, for all its scariness right now, is better than it was.  So I guess, on balance, we ended up making some good choices after all.  Ask me what I think in a couple months if my sweetie has not found a new job :-).

And, because I am the way I am, this got me thinking about divorce.  You always hear about marriages falling apart during periods of crisis--the loss of a child, or a job, or the aftermath of crime.  How do people get from here to there?  Do they make a choice to give up?  Does the lure of comfortable single life, where there are no decisions to live with but your own, become too strong?  Is it a fluke?  Does it always mean that the choice to get married was a bad one?   Maybe our crisis isn't bad enough yet, or hasn't lasted long enough.  Maybe divorced people were just lazy.

Sigh.  I think I'll go curl up with my sweetie now.  At least until we start blaming each other for everything that's wrong in our lives.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Third time's the charm

This will be the fourth winter I have known my sweetie.  We met in November of 2005--it seems like I've known him forever, but it's really been a short time.  When Christmas came, we had been dating about seven weeks, so I didn't know what to give him.  I knit him a hat.  I had only just started knitting, and the hat was the first thing I ever just made up.  Alas, because I didn't know him well, I did not yet know he is a pinhead: the hat was wayyyy too big for him.  When he wears it, he looks like the kid from Fat Albert, whose pink hat comes down over his face and all you can see are his eyes and mouth.  

The second winter, I knit him the fabulous Mets/Rangers hat.  I still love this hat, but again, it was too big.  Not too big around, at least, but too deep: my sweetie could easily pull it down over his eyes.  Even my doormen made fun of him when he wore it.

Last winter, I didn't knit him anything because I had a sore shoulder and was trying not to knit.

This winter, my sweetie requested another hat.  God knows why, since I clearly don't have the knack for fitting his head!  But I took a deep breath, knit it in the round, and made him try it on periodically while I made it.  Things are easier when you're not trying to keep it a surprise :-).

I made it out of Noro Kureyon; I have a few balls lying around from a moment of madness.  I was inspired by the Noro scarves the Yarn Harlot has been knitting: you alternate balls every two rows in order to get a graduated striping effect.  Since I didn't want to use two halves of two balls, I simply alternated ends of my single ball, which made for some more subtle striping in the middle, especially as this particular colorway is not as wildly varying as many Noro balls.  I think it looks very masculine, no?

Happily, my sweetie loves it.  And I have to admit, I do like the Noro colors.  Kureyon is not the softest of yarns, but my sweetie is not sensitive that way.  And it knits up into a nice dense fabric, so it is pretty good in the wind.  I guess the third time's the charm.  I'm sure it helped that this time, I wasn't overly ambitious: it's a pretty basic hat :-).

One ball Noro Kureyon, knit on size 7 needles.  About 4 stitches per inch.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A refresher lesson in gauge

I have been knitting like a fiend lately.  Partly because it's cold.  Partly because I am stressed (WaMu: they suck).  Partly because Christmas is coming and knitting presents from stash doesn't cost any money.  Although I have only knitted two things as Christmas presents, so I guess the last reason is more an excuse than a reason. 

Anyway, here's a pic of the Hemlock Ring Blanket, which was a really fun and very quick (just two weeks) knit:

I knitted this out of Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool, which I really like.  It's surprisingly soft, and comes in 465-yard skeins for $9 at Jo-Anns (which means if you're more patient than I you can wait for a sale or a coupon and get it for less).  Knitting this blanket took only a little over one skein, which probably should have been my warning, since I knit two pattern repeats more than brooklyntweed calls for and yet used less yarn. Oh well.

Yes, I was a bad girl, I didn't check my gauge.  Two years of knitting experience, and I still have a love/hate relationship with gauge.  I figured since this wasn't a garment, gauge was not critical.  (For what it's worth, by the way, Lion Fisherman's Wool is really 5 stitches per inch, not 4 as it claims on the band :-)  Alas, I forgot, as always, about row gauge, so my blanket is much smaller than I wanted.  I wanted something over 4 feet in diameter, and I had to really push it in the blocking to get it to be even 40 inches.

If you look closely, you'll see through the holes that the fabric isn't even touching the blocking board: this baby is stretched taut.

I still think the blanket is pretty.  

But alas, it's not a baby blanket.  I actually knitted this for a coworker who is battling cancer.  Before, she was famous in the office for always being hot.  Now, she is always cold: not a good sign.  Unfortunately I think this blanket will be of very little use to her, since it will cover her lap and not much else.  I'm bummed.  I will probably still give it to her, but I really wanted it to be more useful.  I should have checked my gauge.  Feh.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fuzzy cellphone pic

Today my sweetie and I raked leaves.  It has been a very long time since either of us have done this--I, at least, have not done it since high school, possibly even earlier.  We only have two trees in our backyard that drop leaves, but boy, that was plenty!

Seattle collects "yard waste" as well as trash and recycling.  They are supposedly quite draconian about the yard waste: you are even supposed to put your vegetal kitchen scraps into yard waste, and if they catch you putting it in the garbage, they say they will not take away your trash.  Yard waste cannot be put in regular old black plastic leaf bags, because those are not compostable.  Therefore, all the hardware stores sell giant brown paper bags for yard waste.  We filled up seven, and I got an idea for my Halloween costume next year.

That's right: paper bag puppet.

Friday, October 31, 2008

$25 richer

Happy Halloween!!

At my office today we had a costume contest.  Everyone came in costume and voted on the best costumes.  I won second place--$25!

I have to say, I am very proud of this costume, which I made myself out of felt, stuffing and styrofoam balls for the eyes.  I think it looks pretty convincing, even though it's only a head and a collar.

We had a lot of trick-or-treaters at the house today; it was the first time I had passed out candy to kids since I lived in my parents' house.  Of course, I did it wearing my Kermit head.  We had a lot of candy, but became concerned we were running out, so my sweetie went out and bought more.  Now we have lots of extra candy :-).  It was great to see all of the kids in their costumes, though, especially the kids on our block, whom we know.  They're so cute!  

Monday, October 13, 2008

Behold the Batter Blaster

We had friends visiting this weekend.  They are grad school friends, and it was fun to see them, and their small daughter.  When we were in grad school, N was particularly a cooking friend.  She and I would frequently bake or cook something just for the fun of it, then invite our friends over to eat it.  My favorite instance of this was the day we made three desserts because we couldn't decide which one to make; fortunately, a starving grad student social circle means a) everyone is generally home when you call and b) they're never going to turn down free food.

So it seemed totally natural that we go grocery shopping while they were here.  And, in the store, we discovered this:

It's the Batter Blaster.  Your eyes do not deceive you: that is a spray can, of the sort you usually find containing whipped cream.  The instructions on top admonish you to "Shake Well."  But this, dear friends, is not a simple can o' whipped cream.  No, it's spray-on pancake batter!  You shoot it directly from the can onto the griddle, "No mess, no clean up!"  The bowl of batter in this picture is our control: we of course decided to do a head-to-head comparison between the Batter Blaster and regular old made-from-scratch, propellant-free pancake batter.

Here is my friend N making pancakes with the Batter Blaster.  The batter comes out looking exactly like canned whipped cream does, with little ridges in it.  However, unlike whipped cream, the batter quickly spreads on the pan until the ridges disappear.  

In the end, we found that the homemade batter pancakes were both tastier (because they were less sweet) and fluffier than the Batter Blaster pancakes.  The latter was a surprise to us: we remain puzzled as to what the batter gains by being pressurized in a spray can, if it does not gain fluffiness.  If anything, the Batter Blaster pancakes were a bit rubbery, and a smidge squishy, like marshmallows.  But hey, don't worry: the Batter Blaster is organic.

Finally, a really nice picture of my friend and her daughter on the ferris wheel in the Seattle Center.  We do not appear to have harmed the small child with our experiments.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Notes from suburbia

I've been incommunicado for a few weeks because it took us forever to get Internet access at the house.  It involved three different Comcast guys (and three different days with my sweetie at home for no reason--OK, at least the last day there was a reason).  The last guy arrived on a Sunday and was the only competent guy we saw.  Clearly he works on Sundays dealing with the customers who have been driven to the breaking point during the week.  Anyway, here are some notes from the intervening weeks.

Here we are in front of the new house, wearing our WaMu "Whoohoo!" shirts.  At the time we took this picture, it was already a little sarcastic.  At this point it's just sad.  If you're wondering, my sweetie still has a job, and we still have the house.  We shall see how long this lasts.  Marriage has been a very interesting journey so far.

My second baby surprise jacket.  I love the little fish buttons!  The second time around, this pattern still has not lost its charm.  It's fun to knit, and it's so cute!

Our brand new living room chair, which I love.  I love the cool almost mod pattern!  I love the cool pastel-yet-bright colors!  I got this chair by spending two hours in the store with my sweetie, after which he said, "OK, whatever fabric you want.  As long as we can leave."

And, finally, our new couch!!  I love this couch, and it has a great story behind it, too, which I will share in another post.

That's enough catchup for now!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Brief political comment

I have no intention of using this blog for political commentary. I don't care to get into arguments with random strangers, and honestly I'm pretty conflicted about this election. I don't know what to think, and I can't get passionate about arguing for either candidate.

However, I do have to say, that last night on the culminating night of the Republican convention, they showed a "tribute" video about 9/11. They showed footage of the WTC and the Pentagon burning, of the WTC falling. They made references to "bodies falling" and said "We will carry memories of your beautiful faces and those loving voices now gone forever" while showing footage of distraught survivors and their frantic "missing" signs with pictures of their loved ones. They implied that only they can prevent this from happening again.

As someone who lived in NYC at the time, I don't think I can even begin to express how offensive I found this. Actually, "offensive" is not even a strong enough word. "Filthy" comes to mind. "Revolting." This is political exploitation of the most morally bankrupt and disgustingly cynical sort.

Yes, I "remember where [I was] that day" and no one is going to tell me what I should have learned from it, nor are they going to win me over by showing footage of thousands of people dying for their own political ends. How dare they? How dare they??? In the days after 9/11 the local news channel just turned on the camera and showed family after family with their signs and pictures, begging the camera for anyone who had seen their relatives to come forward and tell them anything. It was agony. How dare they speak of "your beautiful faces" in generic terms and exploit other people's suffering to scare the country for political reasons? How dare they reduce this to yet another opportunity for jingoistic flag waving and saber rattling?

The next day, I am still enraged. But I guess they figure no one in NYC is voting for them anyway. So, what the heck? Exploit away for the benefit of those who weren't there.

Friday, August 29, 2008

All-Clad forever

I have several All-Clad Stainless pots and pans, judiciously acquired over the years. I say "judiciously" because they are expensive pans, and I am cheap. But one of the things I am willing to spend money on is good cookware, and All-Clad is the best.

I bought my first two pans about ten years ago, when I was a poor 20-something with two roommates in a crummy walk-up apartment in New York. I bought a 1.5-quart saucepan and a 3-quart saute pan. I researched cookware for quite a while before settling on All-Clad. I dithered and dithered and dithered, and finally bit the bullet with help from a birthday gift from my brother. Hey, a pan which costs close to $200 was a huge purchase at a time when my daily take-home pay was $70. Those pans meant a lot to me.

I've used those pans heavily for the last ten years. I love them. The little saucepan got a lot of use when I was single, and once I started cooking for more than just me, the saute pan began to see heavy use. Nowadays, I use it nearly every day. I've added other All-Clad pans to my arsenal, but these pans, especially the saute pan, are my workhorses.

But, as we were preparing to move into the new house, I realized that somehow, over the years, the bottom of the saute pan had warped a bit, so that it was no longer flat. I hadn't cared when I was cooking on gas, and even on our apartment's electric coil stove it wasn't a problem. But in our new house, we have a ceramic smooth-top stove (bought from the Sears outlet--bleargh!), and when I was researching these stoves, I read comments from a lot of people complaining that you have to have perfectly flat pans to use them.

I became concerned. I began to worry that I would have to abandon my beloved pan. And, now that I have a started my career over again, a $200 pan is once again a huge purchase. I didn't want to have to buy a new pan.

So, I went on the All-Clad website, and sent them a message, asking if there was any way I could fix it. I thought they might direct me to a dealer or someone who could, I don't know, bang it out for me. Who knows? Instead, I got back an email which said, essentially, "All-Clad pans are guaranteed for life. Send the pan to us for evaluation for repair or replacement. Here's your return number."

To say this was more than I expected would be an understatement. I was a little worried about surrendering my favorite pan. But, a month ago, I dutifully packed up the pan, sent it off to All-Clad, and waited. I cooked without it for a month (very tough, let me tell you!). Then, this week, when I came home, there was a box waiting for me.

I'm not kidding: they sent me a brand-new pan.

I love All-Clad, and the little pauper who bought that pan ten years ago with more money than she really should have been spending on a pan? She feels like crying.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


My sweetie hates crows.  I think it has to do with an incident a year ago, when he first moved to Seattle, and was trapped in a courtyard populated by crows.  The crows thought he was invading their territory and proceeded to divebomb him in threatening ways.  It was like a scene from The Birds.  He's hated crows ever since.  There are crows that hang around our new house, and whenever he sees them on our roof, he mutters under his breath and glares at them.

This morning, his hatred of crows bore fruit.  Today was the day we were going to start seriosuly moving into the house.  We've hired movers to move our big furniture next weekend, but we are planning to move the smaller stuff and boxes ourselves.  We were going to do it this weekend to get them out of the way of the movers.

So, this morning, we get up bright and early to drive down to Tukwila to collect some boxes from one of my sweetie's coworkers who recently moved.  We get back to the apartment, and have the first carload packed and ready to go.  He goes out to bring the car around.  As he gets to the bottom of the steps, he sees a pair of crows on the curb.  He comes down the last few steps quickly, and as he launches himself off his right foot to run at them, something snaps in his right calf.  Instant, horrible pain.  He can't walk.  We have to go to the emergency room.

Fortunately, the doctor at the ER tells us it is a not very serious, albeit very painful, injury, and that he should ice it, elevate it, pop some painkillers, and stay off it for several days.  They gave him a pair of crutches.  So much for packing and moving. 

Personally, I think the crows gave him the Evil Eye.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Jaguar Cove

My sweetie and I went out to dinner tonight with some of his coworkers.  It's a long story, but essentially we were meeting an executive from his company at the zoo.  Neither of us was much looking forward to it, but my sweetie felt obligated.  Then we arrived, and found ourselves here:

Dinner was in the zoo.  To be specific: in the Jaguar Cove.

See Junior in the back there?  Yeah, he's not thinking about dinner at all.

It turned out that the executive is on the board of the zoo, and tickets to this dinner were part of a charity auction of some kind.  My sweetie's boss had bought the tickets, but in the end couldn't go, so he gave them to us.  What we had feared was going to be a dinner all about work turned out a lot cooler.  And the executive had all kinds of cool things to tell us about the zoo.

For example, Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo is a breeding zoo.  They have a female jaguar, too, but they're letting her and Junior acclimatize to each other slowly, so they're not kept in the same exhibit yet.

Having never been this close to a jaguar before, I was fascinated by his shape.  Totally different from a tiger: much more muscular; the legs seem shorter, proportionately, and he's got big shoulders and a big head.   While we were eating, several times he made a weird, kind of grunting, huffing sound, which I've seen described in books but never quite understood.  Definitely would not want to run into one of these while hiking in the rainforest!

Afterwards, we went to see the flamingoes, who are a new exhibit in the zoo.

Did I mention the zoo was closed?  So cool.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Oh, were you wondering about my knitting?

Probably not, but this is, by subtitle anyway, a knitting blog.  And I have been knitting, in the evening hours, when work on the house has stopped.  Here are my current projects.

A baby hat of my own design, knitted from Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Astrakhan, which will never, ever, happen again.  The stuff is a nightmare to knit, even if the end result is kind of cute.  The baby is due in September, but no one told him, because he arrived yesterday.  Luckily, my knitting is already done.  Hah!

Knit and Tonic's Tender Blankie, knit from Blue Sky Organic Cotton.  The stuff if hell on my hands and shoulder, but it's lovely soft.  This baby (my sweetie's second nephew, which I guess makes him my second nephew.  Hmmmmmm) is due in October, so I have a bit of lead time.  I hope!

And, finally, Manon:

Knit from WEBS Valleys Yarns Sugarloaf, in a slightly more deep raspberry color than the picture shows.  Yes, this is my fourth Norah Gaughan.  I freely admit my addiction.  I will not seek help; you can't make me.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

A galaxy far, far away

Continuing our adventures in what feels like some sort of science fiction (who knew house ownership was so alien?), my sweetie and I made three trips to the dump today.

Yes, the dump is indoors.  Strictly speaking, it is a "Disposal and Recycling Center," also known as a "transfer station."  You back up to the chains guarding a precipitous drop down onto a mountain of garbage, and just chuck your stuff over the side.  Presumably it gets transported later to a landfill somewhere.

My only regret is that I didn't get a picture of the huge earth mover, with all its windows covered in grillwork to protect its operator from flying garbage, that was pushing all of the garbage into that huge tunnel at the back of this picture (NO METAL.  NO METAL).  Everything was grey, industrial, and very, very dirty in a sort of post-apocalyptic sci-fi way.  Seriously, I felt like I was in the sewer of the Death Star, though it was perhaps not quite as smelly.  And no underwater monsters.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Team Destruction

So, we are rewiring the house.  Or rather, we are having the house rewired.  We've owned the house about six weeks, and we're going about systematically destroying it.  First, we cut out a cabinet in the kitchen to fit in our new fridge.  We love the fridge, it was totally worth it, but we had to destroy the cabinet to get it in.

Now, for the rewire.  The house is from 1952, and it has 1950s wiring.  None of the outlets are grounded.  In many of the rooms, the outlets only have two prongs.  In the living/dining room, the outlets have three prongs, but they are merely cosmetic.  The outlets are not grounded.  So, since we're not living in the house, we decided to get the rewire done now.  But the electricians need access to the insides of the walls.  They apparently can go through the attic and through the basement ceiling, and claim they can do the whole house with minimal damage to the walls.

Only problem: we have a finished basement.

Maybe I should say we had a finished basement.  Can I wield a crowbar or what?

Here's my sweetie in the garage, brand new reciprocating saw in hand:
I believe we now own six saws.  Six.  The destructive possibilities are endless.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Malted Milk

I love malted milk.  I have no idea what it is, but I love it.  I always have a jar of malted milk powder in my pantry, and every now and then when I am feeling blue, I'll have a glass of malted milk.

Mind you, this is not chocolate malted milk, which I do not like.

When I was a kid (and, if I am honest, to this very day), I would nibble all the chocolate off the outside of the Whopper so that I could get to the crunchy, malted goodness in the middle and let it melt on my tongue, unadulterated by chocolate which is much too sweet, and much too overwhelming for the subtle flavor of malt.

Why bring this up now?

Well, it's summer.  And our new neighbors on our fabulous new block are having a block party next week.  The organizers gave everyone on the block a little map showing all the houses and the names of the people who live there.  You can imagine that my sweetie and I find this very useful.  We are really looking forward to it, and of course, since it's a block party, everyone is supposed to bring something.  I've decided to bring ice cream. 

I love making ice cream, but I must confess I only make it for occasions where there will be people to help eat it, because I actually get bored with a flavor before I finish a whole batch.  I love ice cream, but not that much.

So, for the block party, I decided to make two batches of ice cream.  One will be my favorite old standby, orange ice cream, the recipe for which comes out of my 1975 Joy of Cooking.  This is the ice cream which caused me to buy an ice cream maker, because a friend of mine made some, and after one bite I felt I must always be able to have it whenever I want it.  It tastes like a creamsicle, only much, much better.

I was going to make chocolate for my second flavor, because I have a very good recipe for a dark chocolate ice cream that's very easy and very good, but it's very dark, and therefore a very adult sort of chocolate.  There are a lot of kids on the block, and I wanted a more kid-friendly flavor.  But wasn't going to make ordinary chocolate ice cream because, you know, you can buy that stuff in the store :-).

After toying with a few things, I finally hit upon the idea of malted milk ice cream.  Not chocolate malted milk!  Malted milk ice cream with Whoppers mixed in.  Trouble is, since no one on earth besides me seems to like malted milk without chocolate, I did not have a recipe for it.  So, I made it up.

OK, OK, so really all I did was take a vanilla ice cream recipe and add about 1/2 cup of malted milk powder to it (as well as almost double the amount of vanilla extract), but hey, I created a whole new ice cream!  And when it came out of the ice cream maker today, I was licking the beaters like some demented kid.  I actually think I could eat the whole batch and not get tired of it.  I love malted milk.  When's that block party???

Malted Milk Ice Cream

2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup malted milk powder
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate-covered malted milk balls (Whoppers)

Beat sugar and eggs until thick and light yellow.  Beat in flour and salt.

Put milk in a medium sauce pan over low heat.  Whisk in malted milk powder.  Bring to a simmer.

Slowly beat hot milk into egg mixture.  Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and set over low heat, stirring constantly until it thickens slightly.  Do not boil!  Strain the mixture into a large bowl.  Cool slightly, then stir in cream and vanilla.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Stir the chilled custard, then freeze in your ice cream machine.  When almost frozen, pour in the malted milk balls and let the machine stir then in.  When the ice cream is done, it will still be soft.

Pack into a container, cover and put in the freezer to harden.  Lick the beaters until your tongue hurts.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Roses in bloom

I've counted: our new house has 30 rose bushes.

Roses have a lot of old associations for me.  When I was a child, my father had a gorgeous rose garden along the southern wall of our house, in a narrow strip of dirt between the driveway and the house. I can remember him walking up and down the driveway for hours every day, tending to his roses, pruning and watering, smoking cigars and swatting flies.  He always kept a pair of pruners on the windowsill outside the house, to be grabbed at a moment's notice.

He owned several books about roses, and I liked to look at the pictures.  The roses had exotic names, and he knew the names of all of his roses.  There was Tropicana, a bright orange rose that was my favorite because of its delicious sweet smell.  Peace was my dad's favorite, with its delicate cream coloring with pink and peach undertones.  There was the newfangled Double Delight, an ostentatious bicolor rose with petals that were white in the middle and hot pink on the edges.  American Beauty was the classic deep red rose.  When I was ten or so I bought him a white rose bush named Honor for his birthday, or for Father's Day.  

For me, ever since, roses are not about bouquets.  If I had to choose my favorite cut flowers, roses would be pretty far down the list.  Cut roses are kind of tame, a little boring.  Roses, real roses, are fragrant, extravagant, showy, slightly wild, but always stately plants.  They are garden royalty, tended with care and supremely confident that they deserve every minute of the attention.  Flowers are cut from these plants only for very special people.

We moved away from that house in 1983, and my father has not grown roses since.  In Connecticut, where we moved, he was discouraged by tales of evil Japanese Beetle infestations, and California, where he now lives, is too hot.  He sees other people's exhausted roses and scorns them: if they cannot be beautiful, he does not want them.

But when I told my dad I have roses, he immediately thought of what I need to do.  In particular, he said, I should look out for fungus, because in a place like Seattle, which gets so much rain, fungus is probably a serious problem.  25 years since he last touched a rose, and he put his finger on the problem: many of my roses are covered in black spot, a nasty fungal infection which is common up here because of the rain.  So common, in fact, that the nursery told me I should plant only disease-resistant roses, and if I have some plants that are very far gone, I should probably just dig them up and get rid of them altogether.

Some of the plants are pretty far gone.

I've never been a gardener, since I've never had a yard.  When I was a kid I had a tiny flower patch in the back corner of our yard, but I took care of it in a very haphazard manner, so the flowers quickly died.  I also do not have a terrific record with houseplants.  In my last job my boss actually arranged to have the plants in my office watered, because I would never remember until the poor things drooped pathetically.  From this I've concluded that I do not have the knack or the patience for it.

To my surprise, though, I find myself caring very much about these roses. I want them to survive.  I don't want to dig them up.  I want to kneel down and weed the beds and water deeply and apply the right treatments to help the survive.  We are not living in the house right now, but I find I keep wanting to go over and check on them, pull a few more weeds, spray a few more leaves for aphids, deadhead a few more flowers.  My sweetie complains that he has to work at keeping the lawn alive, and weeding everywhere else, while I do nothing but obsess about the roses.

But...the roses are my childhood.  My father and I have a complicated relationship.  He infuriates me a lot, and I know I am not as patient or kind with him as I should be. As they say, he pushes my buttons extremely well because, after all, he installed them.  But when I look at these roses, I'm a kid again, and I want to make them grow well and make my dad proud of me. He asked me if I knew what roses are there, in a sort of wistful way, no doubt remembering the days when he pored over the rose books and sought out the award-winning roses each year.  I don't know all of them, by any means, but there is an Honor in our garden, and a Peace.  I can't wait to show him.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Tale of Two Stores (Or, Sears Kinda Sucks)

So, we have this new house. New to us, anyway: the house dates from 1952, and while the appliances were probably not that old, I wouldn't have been shocked to hear they were from the 70s. I am absolutely positive the washer, at least, was exactly the same washer my mom had when I was growing up. The refrigerator....well. Let's just say that we were keeping drinks in the freezer, and they were juuuuust right.

So we had to buy new appliances. As with the house, I really mean "new to us," because having just bought the house, we are broke like we've never been broke before. We were going strictly used or scratch-and-dent, and we were making no bones about it.

On July 4th, we went to the Sears outlet. I was incredibly happy to discover that they had the exact range I'd had my eye on: a Maytag 6875 electric range. Yes, we have abandoned our dream of running gas to the house (see: broke), so the one thing I wanted to spend some money on was a nice electric range. After a lot of research, I thought I'd be happy with one of these, and I was even contemplating paying full-price for it. But: they had it at the Sears outlet, and at a really great price. Heck, we even got a stainless range for less than the price of a white or black one (usually stainless costs $200 more). Of course, once you added the warranty/maintenance program ($199), the delivery ($69) and the haul away of the old one ($10), it was still pretty steep, but we were pretty happy, still. We set delivery for the following Saturday, July 12.

On July 5th, we went up to the Maytag Store, which also has a clearance room. No, don't worry: we didn't see our range there (well, we did, but brand new at $600 more, so we were still happy). But we did buy a refrigerator (French doors, bottom freezer: exactly what we wanted, in super-cool black) and a front-loading high efficiency washer and dryer. By buying three appliances, even from their clearance room, we qualified for a rebate of $200. Their service/maintenance program was $99 for each appliance. Delivery for all three: $59 flat rate. Haul away of the three old appliances: $0. We scheduled delivery for July 12.

On July 12th: Maytag said they'd come between 8:00 and 10:00. Sears said they'd come between 10:15 and 12:15. Sears arrived at 10:13 (early); Maytag arrived at 10:15 (late, though they'd called at about 9:45).

The Sears guys ran in. They picked up the old range, they ran out. They ran in the new range, they set it down. The lead guy said to me, "Do you have the plug?" (Ranges are not sold with the plug already attached, because you need to buy the plug that fits your home) I said I did. He said, "Great, you just stick that in the back and plug it in." I was surprised. I thought they were supposed to hook it up for me. But I figured from the way he said it that it must be like a printer or computer plug: it plugs in in the back, and then into the wall, no problem. I said, "OK." I'm a fool. He ran out the door: he had 19 deliveries to do.

By the time he left, the Maytag guys hadn't even finished unloading the truck.

The Maytag guys:
  • Measured all the doors to see the best way to bring in the appliances.
  • Took the front door off its hinges.
  • Unhooked the old appliances and hauled them out.
  • Brought in the fridge, hooked it up, turned it on.
  • Brought in the washer and dryer.
  • Hooked up the washer, which I wanted in a different place than the old washer had been. This meant that the hoses the washer came with were not long enough, so the guy went to his truck and brought in 8-foot hoses. Which, by the way, he did not charge me for.
  • Hooked up the dryer. Which meant attaching a plug, because dryers are also not sold with plugs attached. Not only did he attach it, he supplied it, after seeing which one I needed. Sears had me buy one when I bought the range, and I had to guess if it was the right one, based on the age of my house.
  • Started both the washer and dryer to make sure they were working, and instructed me to make sure to let the dryer complete its cycle to burn off the protective coating on the inside.
  • Put the front door back on its hinges.
  • Left, at least half an hour, more likely forty-five minutes, after they'd arrived. I bet they were late to their next delivery, too. I didn't care that they were late.
Note: $79 versus $59.

Of course, when my sweetie and I went to attach the plug to the range, we discovered it wasn't as easy as we thought. There are three wires, which need to be attached to three screws. There were extremely vague instructions that came with the plug, and none that came with the range. We think that the middle wire needs to go to the middle screw. But we don't know if it matters for the two outside wires. We don't think so, but we're not sure, and we do not want to fry our range before we even get to use it.

So, we called the store. The salespeople at the store were very surprised to hear that the delivery guys had not hooked it up for us. After all, we had paid for "white glove service" (which means they bring it into the house and hook it up, instead of leaving it on the curb!). They were very apologetic. They said they'd call the delivery guys and get someone to come back out. After a couple hours, I haven't heard anything, I call back. The salesguy is flabbergasted: the delivery people are telling him that they are not going to hook up my particular range. He says he's arguing with them, and will call me back when he gets it figured out.

An hour or so later, the store manager calls. He says they'd made a mistake in telling me the range would be hooked up: the delivery guys do not hook up slide-in ranges, because they need to be hard-wired. I point out that I don't have a slide-in range, I have a stand-alone range. He is very surprised. He asks if I have the plug, and I say yes. He does not understand why the delivery guys did not hook it up. He is very apologetic. He says he'll take care of it.

A few minutes later, I get a call from their delivery call center, in Scottsdale, AZ. The guy is calling to schedule the appointment. Unfortunately, Sunday is totally booked. I say that I have to, you know, work, so if they could come at 8:00 am on a weekday, that would be great. He says he can't guarantee anything, but he will make a note that I've requested this, and since we're setting the delivery day for Wednesday, with that much lead time, I'm very likely to get it.

Of course, when they call me Tuesday night, the delivery time they've scheduled is 11:15-1:15.

My sweetie calls the 800 delivery call number. They can do nothing for him. They say that they cannot guarantee any particular time. He points out that the whole reason they have to come back is because they screwed up in the first place, but they are unmoved. He says he doesn't see why we should have to take a day off of work because they suck. They don't care.

Let me just say: I understand that these things are computerized, and that there's not a lot of control over things, and you can't give people requested times because everyone will want the same time, but there ought to be a way to override the system to take care of customers who are really pissed, especially if they're really pissed because you f**ked up. The fact that there is no way to do it suggests to me that they have so many customers who are really pissed, they cannot afford to give any of them special treatment.

At this point I am shaking with rage. I call the store again. They close at 9:00 pm, and it is 8:57. To my astonishment, someone answers the phone. I almost feel sorry for him, except that I am in a rage. I explain the problem, my voice shaking in that annoying way it has when I get so mad I'm in danger of crying. He is hugely apologetic. He says that he will call the local delivery people the first thing tomorrow morning (when I am calmer he admits it won't be him, because he won't be working, but he'll leave a note for the morning manager) and try to fix it. But he tells me honestly that they probably won't be able to get me an early-morning time. I say, fine, if you can't, then get me Saturday. He promises to do so.

The next day, someone from the local delivery center calls, and confirms the appointment for Saturday. At this point I'm so disgusted I say fine. He says I will get a call the night before to confirm the time window.

I've just got the call: they will come tomorrow between 4:00 and 6:00 pm. My sweetie had only one thing to say: "F**kers."

I just want to point out that it's a damned lucky thing we're not living in the house, or I would have had no range to cook on. I have 30 days to return the range if I need to, and seven of them are already gone. Heck, if we're counting from the day we bought it, we're at fifteen days out, and I still haven't been able to turn the thing on. Meanwhile, I am keeping plenty of drinks cold in the refrigerator, I'm making ice in the freezer, and I've already done two loads of laundry in the washer and dryer.

I cannot say anything for Maytag reliability, or for the services of the mythical Maytag repairman. But the Maytag delivery guys? I love them. Buy from the Maytag Store. The difference could not have been starker.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrumroll, please!

Ready?  Ladies, I present, pictures of my sweetie:


Mowing our lawn.  Is that hot, or what??

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ahhh, the buzz!

So, today is the day we close on the house.  I actually took today off, but to my surprise, there is actually nothing to be done today.  My sweetie and I went to the escrow company's office last week and signed all the paperwork, so there is nothing to sign today.  In fact, since possession doesn't happen until 9:00 pm tonight, we aren't even going to get the keys until tomorrow morning.  A little anticlimactic, I guess.

But, since I have a free day and nothing to do, I decided to get back into the swing of things and sign up for Pilates classes.  Since I moved to Seattle, I have taken only one Pilates lesson, and I fully intended to keep it up, but then I got the job, and I went on my honeymoon, and life happened.  Plus, Pilates is expensive, and it's even more expensive here than it was in New York, so I felt a little guilty about spending so much money on something just for me.  (BTW, if anyone ever tempts you to move to Seattle by saying the cost of living is lower than NYC, don't believe them.  It's complete BS.  By all means, come, for the space and the nature and the slower pace of life, but don't expect it will be cheaper)  So, after six months of taking Pilates classes two or three times a week, I have spent four months doing nothing.  But a few things conspired to finally make me do it:

1)  My watch.  I have a very nice watch, given to me by my dad on my college graduation.  It is supposed to wind itself from the movement of my wrist, and in NYC I never gave it a second thought.  In Seattle, it stops every night, and often needs to be reset as it slows down during the day.  This is annoying.  It is also scary: I move so little that my watch cannot stay wound.  Which led me to:

2)  The realization that I really do not walk anywhere any more.  I walked all over in NYC; I walked to and from work, I walked to the grocery store, I walked to restaurants, I walked to go shopping.  I thought I was a fairly lazy person, but simply by living in NYC, I walked.  Here: I walk about 25 seconds to my car in the morning.  I get to office and walk another 25 seconds to my desk.  Occasionally during the day I walk five seconds to and from the bathroom.  At lunchtime I walk for about 15-20 minutes, just to be out of the office.  That's it.  I've gone from walking at least an hour every day to walking 20 minutes if I force myself.  If I'm busy and don't take my lunchtime walk, we're talking two minutes of walking, if that.  No wonder suburbanites are obese.

3)  How physically trashed I was after working the graduation parties.  Yes, I was tired from lack of sleep, but I was also physically sore all over.  After the first 13-hour marathon, I could barely walk, my legs hurt so much.  After another week of these parties, my back hurt, my knees hurt, and my shoulders hurt (so much that even just wearing a bra was exhausting).  I just do not have any endurance any more.

4)  The realization that I have become reluctant to walk.  I was always lazy, but now I am extra lazy.  My sweetie wanted to go for a nice walk along the Burke-Gilman trail on Sunday and he had to bribe me with shopping first.  Once we did it, I enjoyed it very much, but he really did have to make me.  I didn't like that.

5)  My resistance to the walk on Sunday made me realize that I feel restless, but trapped.  The house, the job, everything, is making me just a bit anxious.  I want to do something, but there's nothing, really, to do.  I'm kind of in a holding pattern right now (though that will change when we finally close on the house!), and when I am stressed, I get very sluggish.  I want to hide in unconsciousness.  I sleep a lot, and I hate to make any effort to move.  But what I really need is to focus on something else and relax a bit.  Pilates is great for that.  When I was freaking out over the wedding and the move, Pilates was the one thing that calmed me.  For the hour of the class, and even a couple hours afterwards, I could forget about things and just take it easy.  That's worth a lot to me.

So, today, I took a private lesson.  And, having learned from my previous failure to follow up, I immediately signed up for a group class session this weekend and made an appointment for another private lesson next week.  And, let me tell you, I loved it.  I focused on nothing the whole hour but what I was doing with my body (one of my instructors in NYC referred to Pilates as "the thinking man's exercise" because you really think about what every muscle is doing and when; there's no running on automatic in Pilates!), and when I was done, I felt that buzz, that energizing lift that I had forgotten about.  I am sooooo happy I did this!

Honestly, Pilates is not aerobic, so I don't know that this will solve #1 or #2, but I think it will totally help me with #3, #4 and #5.  And just getting in the mindset of exercise will help a lot, I know.  

Plus, I really want my abs back!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I feel old

I am wiped.  I just finished my first busy season at my new job.

The company I work for organizes safe and sober high school graduation parties.  June is the busiest time of year; more accurately, three weeks in June is our busiest time of year. On our busiest nights we have a dozen parties just on one night.  These parties run from 11:00 pm until 5:30 am: the idea is to keep the kids busy all night so that they can't be out partying themselves.  Statistics show that more teens are killed drunk driving on their graduation nights than on any other night of the year.

Needless to say, during "grad season" everyone in the office is completely trashed from lack of sleep.

I worked several of these parties this season.  They're pretty cool, very elaborate parties.  It is the first time I have spent significant amounts of time with teenagers since I was a teenager myself.  That's a long, long time ago.  Here are some things I've come away with:

I am so old: I looked around at these kids and realized that I am old enough to be their mom.  And I wouldn't have had to be a teenage mom to do it, either.

I am so old: my first party was an unusually long one, about 13 hours, and after being on my feet for 13 hours, my legs were killing me.  I was limping around the next day like an old lady.  Which I am.

I am so old: my legs recovered after that first party, but by the end of the season, after several parties of being on my feet, my knees are hurting.  So is my back, and my shoulders (which already hurt, but hurt even more now).

I am so old: spending several hours in video arcade (I should say, a noisy video arcade) is not my idea of fun.  And I never saw anyone playing the Ms. Pacman machine!

I am so old: what the heck is with the dancing these days?  All the kids are pressed up in a big clump, humping each other.  I'm told this is "freak dancing."  At one party there was a pretty big floor and a lot of kids, but half the floor was empty because the kids were all pressed together in one corner.  Weird.

I am so old: I had never heard of Soulja Boy or his Superman Dance, until I saw/heard it at every single party.

I am so old: I heard a fair bit of Michael Jackson at these parties, mostly Billie Jean and Thriller.  I guess this year is the 25th anniversary of the Thriller album, which is the only explanation I could come up with for why these kids were dancing to songs older than they are.  Older by a lot.

I am so old: this week I saw Dance Dance Revolution for the first time.  But hey, at least I'd heard of it!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


As promised, a squee:

This is the front of the house. Isn't it cute? It is, I must admit, a lot like the house I grew up in, at least from the outside, which I didn't fully realize until my dad pointed it out.

Note the sidewalk out front. This is a long-standing joke between my sweetie and me, because I grew up in a neighborhood with sidewalks, and he didn't. Whenever we are walking somewhere, I am always yelling at him to quit walking in the street. This block is one of only about three blocks in the area with sidewalks; when we turned onto the block and saw the sidewalks, I was so happy my sweetie started laughing.

Inside, the house is different from the one I grew up in. The part I love best is this main room, the combined living/dining room, which is just huge and full of light. The hardwood floors are new and just gleam.

The master bedroom is on one end of the house, and two other bedrooms are on the other end. There is also a bedroom in the fully finished basement.

The kitchen, which could use a little work. Mostly I'd love to run a gas line to the house so I could have a gas stove!

And, the crowning glory: the backyard. My sweetie and I really wanted a yard for our (someday) kids, but yards are hard to come by in Seattle. Lots are small and frequently the house takes up the whole yard. This house has a big lot, almost a quarter acre, and a large expanse of yard, with lots of beautiful mature trees (too bad the rhododendrons aren't in bloom in this pic: they're beautiful). The best part is that the lot goes all the way to the street in back, so there is no house behind us. My dad made us laugh by referring to the lot as "only 1/4 acre" and "such a small lot." He has, after all, lived in the suburbs for decades. Trust us: this is a huge lot for being in Seattle proper.

Don't get me wrong: the house will need work. It's from 1952, and needs updated plumbing and electrical. It's still on oil heat, and the windows are original, if in very good condition for being over 50 years old. My sweetie has fantasies of ripping out the bathrooms and remodeling them before we move in. I've pointed out that a full-scale bathroom remodel is perhaps not the ideal first project for a couple of people who have never owned a house before. Still, we've moved past terror at the expense to Big Dreams about our house.

We close in two weeks. Squeeee!!!!!

(All pictures from the listing agent, Lake & Company)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Wait, what's going on?

So, I've been feeling lately like I've become an adult, and I don't like it.

I've been working hard at this new job.  I often feel at sea.  Sometimes I like it, sometimes I hate it.  Sometimes I wish I could lie around at home and do nothing.  It is not yet a habit, the way my job in New York had become.  It's work.  Sometimes it's fun, and I expect (hope) it will become even more fun as I get my feet under me, but right now, it's work.

My sweetie and I spent a huge amount of money in Italy, and so we are trying to be good.  It's hard to be good.  We were used to a carefree, high-living, high spending life in New York.  I mean, we were never huge spenders, but we didn't worry about money.  Now, we worry about money.  A friend of mine recently sent me the menu of an extremely fancy meal he recently ate, and my major reactions were: I used to have meals like that and I can't afford meals like that.  If my sweetie and I blow $60 on dinner for two we feel guilty.

Then, this weekend, we bought a house.  This is wildly exciting, and I will do an excited, squeeing post later (with pictures), but this has turned our worry about money into full-fledged panic.  Don't worry--we can afford the house,'s a lot of money!  And, though I owned a condo in New York, owning a house is a whole different animal.  There's the sewer line, and the yard, and the roof, and the pipes, and the electrical systems to worry about.  There's the water heater, and the furnace.  Every one of these things either needs work or needs to be monitored until such time as it will need work.  And that means even more money!

So, now I have a job that is work (and pays less than I'd like), I worry about gas prices and the cost of groceries, we're about to assume a mortgage and a house, and we're thinking kids, maybe in the next year or so.  Heck, we bought the house because of its yard and its sidewalks and the fact that it's around the corner from one of Seattle's top-rated elementary schools, so we've just committed a heck of a lot of money to the just the idea of kids.

I miss my carefree single days!  I got married and life became, well, difficult.  I know it's what I want, I love my sweetie, I'm excited to be doing all these new things, but....but geez, I think I wasn't ready to grow up just yet.....

Monday, May 19, 2008

Say cheese!

This weekend I volunteered at the Seattle Cheese Festival.

It was utterly gorgeous weather, and so the festival was packed.  I was assigned to the booths of two different cheese distributors, handing out samples and selling $5 blocks of cheese.  Yes, I snuck some tastes.

I also attended a couple seminars.

This is the plate from my second seminar, "From Curds to Consumer."  Yes, both seminars featured a plate of cheese and complementary wine.  Even turophilic me was cheesed out by the end of the weekend!

We've been back from the honeymoon for two weeks now, and have not had a moment's rest since, what with various obligations.  

I started my job the Tuesday after we returned, so I have been working and learning.  It's been interesting so far; I am not sure it's the job I hoped it would be, but it did not suck as much today as it did Friday :-).  So for now, I am sticking with it.  We are coming into the busy season, which will mean I will be working insane hours for about three weeks in June--including overnight--so that will be a trial by fire if nothing else.

The Italy trip seems very long ago now, but we had a lovely, lovely time.  I offer this photo as proof:

Yes, I am in an Italian cheese cellar.