Thursday, February 14, 2013

Plugging Away

I'm keeping busy, that's for sure!

It's amazing how much extra time you have in your day when you don't have to drive 2 hours a day for work.  Of course, working for myself, that extra 2 hours often gets sucked into work time.  But I wouldn't swap for a corporate nine-to-five again, either.

Life is good!

I've been doing a ton of knitting, cranking out three stranded hats and two stranded mitten sets for Christmas, as well as a couple of ear bands for gifts and a pair of socks for me!

I had to design the teeny ladybug mittens for my niece. They match the hat.  He momma calls her "Ladybird".



Her big brother got Spidey designs.


And my other niece, whose momma calls her "Bee" got bee-designs.  Another set of original design mittens to match the hat.


I knit nine mittens to get four useable mittens for the girls. Unfortunately, they are too small, so I'm starting over and re-designing and re-knitting them.  Again.

It's OK, though.  I took a break from little mittens when my cousin's baby shower was coming.  I used Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Baby Sweater on Two Needles" otherwise known as the "February Baby Sweater" from Knitter's Almanac.  When I found out she was having a girl, I knew exactly which stash yarn I wanted to use: this lovely cotton/wool I picked up at Allegan a few years ago with no plan, but knowing it was perfect for a baby girl. I don't have any pictures with the buttons on it - they're pretty iridescent pink.

 
This sweater was so much fun that when I found out at the shower that another cousin is expecting, due in June to have a boy, I cam right home and started another.  Another stash yarn, also from Allegan, in perfect "boy" colors. 

I'm almost done with a hat, halfway through another pair of socks, and have 2 sweaters and 2 afghans in the works. Kiddo and I have started spending the last hour or so of every evening listening to audiobooks, and I knit while we're listening.

And back to the day job!  I love the flexibility of it even though I often work until 7pm on Fridays as my clients work to wrap things up for the week (and we're not all in on time zone).

I just wish the cats would let me work without their help.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Working and Spinning

Getting back into the blogging habit is not as easy as I had thought it would be. My new work is ramping up fast, and is keeping me very busy throughout each day. I have people I need to talk to in all the US time zones, so my phone often rings far after local "working hours" are over.  But that is what voicemail is for, right?

It's interesting, working at home.  I enjoy what I'm doing, and often don't feel like I'm "working".  It also helps when I can toss in a load of laundry when I need a quick break, rather than hang out at the coffee machine feeling guilty and wondering how long I can break before someone is going to look for me!  Really, it's about being my own boss and making my own schedule.  I no longer need to ask for time off - I tell the people I work with when I'll be out of the office.  Granted, I'm at my computer by about 7am on weekdays, and the phone starts about 8, but I usually walk away between 3 and 4pm and call it a day.  I might answer the phone after that, but only if necessary, like if something needs closure by the end of the day.

I am a lot more relaxed than I've been in ages.  Fewer migraines, less stress, no childcare dilemmas...the "stress" at work now is more like excitement.  A deal is about to go through.  Or not. And I have a hand in it.  Also, I generally have a purring cat in my lap all day.  One or the other of them is almost always keeping comfy on my legs or tucked behind me in my office chair!

And because you asked, I am working as technical and sales support for a laboratory instrumentation manufacturer's sales representatives.  I'm not going to get too specific, but I wear a lot of different hats each day, from data entry to quote requests, talking to potential and existing customers about the scientific needs, and chasing down people who aren't answering their phones.  There are a number of other tasks I fulfill every day, too, and like any job, not all of them are fun or enjoyable.  I don't love every aspect of what I'm doing, but I have the freedom to decide when I'm going to do an onerous task. And the benefits far outweigh the onerous tasks!

As for craftiness, I have several projects underway, always.  I'm almost done with the plying of a superwash merino which I'll show when I finish it.  What I did finish, though, is the first fleece I ever bought, back in 1997 when I was teaching myself to spin. 

I went to my first fiber festival that spring.  It was incredible.  I was a broke grad student and needed a diversion and some spinning help.  I drove out to the fairgrounds that Saturday, alone, after a clerk in the local spin/knit/weave shop gave me a flyer (I think she was tired of me hanging around and asking for advice!)  I wandered around, watched demos, talked to people, was invited to try a few wheels, and had a terrible time deciding what to buy!  A wonderfully nice woman in a booth convinced me that raw fleece was the better bargain for my money, and that I could buy a well-shaped fleece and spin right from the locks after washing, no tools necessary.  So I bought two - a yearling Romney and a first-shearing white mohair.

And they sat until I sent them to Spinderella for processing.  In 2006.  And they sat again.  Until June of this year.  I started spinning during my layoff, when I was stressed and trying to negotiate the contracts for this job.  I pulled out the 2.5# bag of roving, lovingly rolled into balls straight off the carder, and started spinning.

It seemed to go on forever, the spinning did.  Singles forever!  I ended up with 12 Schacht bobbins stuffed full, mostly wound off onto TP tubes so I could keep spinning without running out of bobbins.


 
Finally plied into a beautiful pile of wool.  Three-ply.  About Dk-weight, maybe light worsted.  I haven't washed it yet, so I expect it will bloom and fluff some when I get the carding oils out.  I've been admiring it, petting it, and imagining what it will become since I finished it at the end of July.  And agonizing over the decision to come: should I dye it?  It's not my color of brown, it matches nothing I own, and is the wrong shade for me to wear without looking washed out.
 


Only yesterday, sitting at my dining room table, talking with my sister did I realize...

It's totally her color.  It matches her hair.

Should I make her a cabled zip-up hoodie?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

2012 so far

OK, so this has NOT been a normal "break" in blogging.  I've been swamped. 

I bought a house in January (started the process in September last year, took that long to wrap things up!), moved in late January, during which I got a death-flu which was suspected of being Norovirus and missed a week of work in a foggy daze on the sofa bed because I was too sick to go upstairs.

February was trying to unpack and find things, as loving friends and family finished my packing and moving while I was delerious.   They packed so much stuff!  When I woke up, there were 250 identical white garbage bags in my garage, stacked 4' deep, filled with everything from my old house.  Packed by proximity.  It took me 6 weeks to find the forks.  I finally found my mixing bowls just this last weekend.

March brought massive company reorganization and my layoff notice, with the provision to continue going to work until late April.  Started stress-knitting little mitered squares from leftover sock yarn.  We call them "knitting potato chips" (betcha can't knit just one!).

April brought funk and panic. And lots of meetings with the career counselor, wherein I totally decided I did not want to continue in the same path and that I needed a career change.

May I started to relax and unpack and look for a new job/career.  And wash and wax my parents' trimaran boat so we could get it in the water.

June I started to panic over the looming end of my severance and I started getting impatient with the negotiations on a new path.  Spun 2.5 pounds of carded Romney wool into three-ply worsted weight.

July was full-on panic mode, with nothing concrete on the radar.  Lots of stress-knitting.  More garter stitch.  Sailing.  Negotiations.  A one-day trip to Texas for an interview.

August I finally got contracts signed on my new career!  Getting going on the new work, and then left for two weeks on the vacation we've been planning for 3 years - the North Channel in Lake Huron.

Now it's September, and I'm home again, and trying to get back into the work groove, having left in the middle of the ramp-up.  I like what I'm doing now, I work from my home office (good and bad, depending on the day!) which I converted from the guest bedroom in the new house.  I've been getting rid of excess stuff, as this house is about 1/3 the size of the old one, with no basement and a third of the garage space.  But it's cute - a 1929 bungalow in an old vacation-home area.  It hasn't been totally brought up to date like my neighbors' houses have, but that's the investment part, right?  Buy the least-improved property in the area and bring it up to par?

But one of the things I've noticed in this new career is the lack of community and coworkers to chat with leaves me with too much to say and no one to talk to...therefore I'm talking to you, if there's anybody left out there. And if not, then I'm just talking to myself.  But at least I'm not trying to talk to my clients about knitting and spinning projects!

No matter how I look at it, though,  Life is good!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

OK, so I've been busy

I bought a house.

And if you've never fallen down that rabbit-hole, I can tell you it's not easy, especially in the current economy. It's true - the banks don't want to lend money. I had to jump through some crazy hoops to get a house, and I didn't manage it until I'd seen dozens and dozens of houses, made offers on six, and started the mortgage process on three of them.

Two deals fell through due to stupid reasons within the banks. The house I bought was severly under-appraised, and we had to re-negotiate. And I had to find extra cash to bridge the gap.

The result?

A home. And a trashed credit score.

Yup, my credit score dropped over 130 points due to "too many requests in previous 12 months". Of course there were too many checks - the bank did the checking!

Crap. Good thing I don't need to buy anything big right now!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Chastized

I have been informed that without my blogging, my neighbor's daughter has no clue what her parents are up to. Not that I blog about them, but apparently she is living vicariously through my blog and watching her parents' house in the background of my pictures.

Really, though, I have been so busy that I can't see straight.

I took a new job in March and have been driving an hour each way since then for work. My old job was disappearing, as the Federal facility I was working in was forced to close down all laboratory operations. I cleaned out, closed, and mothballed every lab under my control before I left, leaving significant resources to rot in labs that the government decided were no longer necessary.

My new job keeps me busy - I'm now supervising a small staff of trace analysts and a mass spectromoter. I am now a manager of my old self, pluralized. Which means I am on call 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, even when I'm on vacation or sick or whatever. It was incredibly challenging getting into the new job, but I'm enjoying it.

I bought a new car in June. My poor old 1998 minivan couldn't take the 110 mile per day beating, so I bought a super-safe, very efficient, comfortable little car. With Bluetooth, so I can make my phone calls while driving without ever picking up, looking at, or touching my phone. It all goes right through the dash on the car.

In August I went to Allegan again, with friends from downriver. We had a lovely time - we went on Friday, not on rainy Saturday. I was sick all the way home, though, from the wonderful seafood course of the fabulous French meal the night before. I guess I still have that shellfish allergy...

In September my Little Boy went into Middle School. He's actually doing much better than in elementary school. I chalk it up to a support staff that knows him well, and four minutes in between classes to run around and be loud.

In October we finally got my tiny little boat in the water. We sailed it all of twice before it was time to take it out for the winter. The shrouds needed shortened and it took weeks, leaving my little boat sitting mast-less in the water.

In November we started working on the Boar's Head Festival, a local all-churches madrigal/Christmas pageant that only happens every four (or five) years. I blogged about it taking over my house last time, and it once again consumed house, home, and life. And yet we love it.

The day after Thanksgiving brought daily Boar's Head work, and that went solid through, every day of the week, until two weeks before Christmas. The next week was spent in a panic that Christmas was only two weeks away, and the last week was spent doing everything that should have been done in the previous two months.

Merry Christmas!

I'm back!

Monday, January 03, 2011

2010 Wrap-up, part 1

While I'm putting together my first-ever crafting year in review photo post, I thought I'd distract you with some pictures of other things from the end of 2010.

Finally, someone complained about tghe lack of social events on Christmas Eve morning, and we re-instated the Albionite Christmas Eve Brunch, the social gathering that was created some 10(!?) years ago when a group of friends from college figured out that the only window of opportunity not over-scheduled by our parents while we were home for the holidays was the morning of Christmas Eve. It's always been a hit-or-miss thing, and some years was completely forgone.

It took about six different tries to get it right, but we have one group shot, as yet unedited, that shows all of us who attended this year. I can't believe how big the kids are getting!

The Christmas towels weren't hemmed yet (I got that done in the afternoon) but they were packed up and pretty by Christmas morning. Always with the help... (they're sweet, and they work for treats!)The wine wasn't done yet (and still isn't!) so I bought nice chocolate instead. I have gotten no complaints about the substitution. Which makes me wonder if the wine is worth the effort after all?

I think I'm finally starting to get the hang of my new camera! Every once in a while I actually get a shot that I'm not embarrassed to admit I took myself...

And then I get doozies like this one:

I have a whole series of shots, trying to get something for my sister to put on her Christmas card where both kids are, at a minimum, pretending to look in the same direction. So not happening. It is infinitely much easier to get my "helpers" to look in the same direction.

Nope. One or the other.

And of course, Kiddo turned 11 yesterday.Really?

Wow.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Countdown and Challenges

It's been... difficult... this week, trying to get ready for the holidays. The kids were fabulous, and helped me get the house in order on Saturday so we could put up the tree and decorate for Christmas in between going to a Penance service at 11am and my/Little Brother's combined birthday dinner that evening.

About 4:30, when the tree was up but not decorated or lighted, I decided it was time to head over the Mom's for dinner. That was about when the police cars showed up. And stopped in front of our yard.

One look out the window sent me flying out the door in my slippers - the neighbors on my west, who have been there for 22 years, I've watched their kids grow up, they watched us, etc. - their carriage house from 1910 was on fire.

I stood in the road with Mrs. Neighbor, watching the flames, and watching her husband move cars that were parked in front of the carriage house. By the time he got them moved, the flames were already touching the porch roof.

Over the next hour, we watched the progression as the carriage house burned completely and the fire got into the eaves and walls of the house. We have a fabulous fire department, and they pulled out all the tricks and gear, but it took 6 hours to put it out, the majority of which I watched with Mrs. N from my bedroom.

I don't feel like it's my place to show you the carnage. It's too... personal. For everyone. Despite the fact that random people feel comfortable parking in the driveway and blatently taking gawker-pictures. I haven't even felt comfortable blogging it until some of the dust settled.

The community has been fabulous, and much has been offered. They stayed with my parents overnight the first night, and moved to a hotel after that, as their grown kids started to trickle into town. We're all still a little (or a lot) in shock, and not much appears to be salvageable.

Thank God no one was hurt. Things are just that - things - and can be replaced. I've been helping to take pictures of the damaged property so they can list what they owned for insurance to cover it. It's tedious, difficult, dirty, and heartbreaking.

So do yourself, and your family, a favor this holiday season, whatever holiday you celebrate: go around your home and take pictures of everything. Every bookshelf in enough detail to read the titles, every drawer pulled open to show the contents, every closet laid out to show the clothes. Open your cupboards and take pictures of the dishes and appliances, snap a pic of the bottom of a plate to show the make if they're worth anything. Go snap a picture of your CD collection, the serial number on your computer, the label on your TV...whatever you own.

Don't tell me this isn't important, that it's too hard, that you have enough to do without adding this. If we had tons of time I would tell you to make written lists of all the information, but we don't. We're busy. So go take a hundred, two hundred pictures, whatever it takes. It shouldn't take more than an hour, especially if you have help.

Then write it all the a CD, or to a thumbdrive, or a DVD, or an external drive...and give it away. Take it to work, send it to your parents' house, your best friend's house, a safe deposit box, whatever. Get it out of your house. Because it could have been you. It could have been me. it happens, and it happens far more often this time of year, believe it or not.

And I suppose I don't need to remind you to make sure a copy of your home or renter's insurance is with those pictures, do I?

What do you mean you don't have renter's insurance??? If you're renting, you need it. It's really inexpensive, and can make all the difference in your world, should you need it. Go on. Do it. Now.

So we have two days till Christmas, and nothing is wrapped. I'm not fretting (yet), but I am getting a little antsy about it. I think I have a little better perspective on it than I normally do.

So when I was going to work yesterday morning, and I was late, and I had to go home to retrieve things I had forgotten I was getting irritated and grumpy. And I pulled onto the road by the river and immediately had to pull into the church parking lot and stare at the river.

The morning colors were glorious, and I stood there, in the cold, and took pictures of the amazing sunrise until the color faded again and I was really and truly late for work.




And I was OK with that.
Go. Take pictures.
Be safe.