Monday, January 30, 2006

It's hard to believe that February 2006 starts tomorrow. In 17 days I will be flying east to New York City to rehearse for the performance at Carnegie Hall. Yet I feel totally unprepared. I've looked at my music a few times but not really put a lot of effort into it. I've done all this fundraising and been able to pay my way thanks to the generosity of family and friends. Richard Feynman the Nobel Prize physicist who was known more for his quirks than for his physics said that for him the adventure of getting somewhere was more important than getting there at all. In a way I agree with him. There's something to be said about setting a goal and trying your damndest to reach that goal with the faith that you're going to do it. I don't feel panicky. I don't even feel--well, excited. I feel more excited about doing the Knitting Olympics. Maybe it's my Gemini self just being bored. "Oh yeah I've been doing this planning and all that for a year; it's time for something new." I'll get out of it. At least I hope so.
I had my first allergist appointment and found out I'm allergic to not only grasses, some trees, and dust mites but also to cats. After 43 years of some sort of cohabitation with the feline persuasion and my worst fear is realized. Fortunately I do have the option of getting allergy shots. I'm not giving up on my kids. They and I will just have to learn to sleep in separate rooms. Tonight's the first night. Wish me luck. I go in for more testing in two weeks, the Monday before I leave for NYC. We'll see what other things I'm allergic to.
I had to find more yarn for the Tasha Tudor shawl. I won't have enough for the border so I had to resort to finding a substitute for the bottom two sides. I found the Sirdar Chunky in blue/cream which will complement the cream of the shawl. We'll see how it turns out. I'm still on the top edge bindoff with a good couple of feet to go but it's turning out very pretty.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A couple of weeks ago I had mentioned that I had finished the scarf I was going to do for my New York trip. It started out with the cast on of 300 stitches on size 15 needles. It ended up looking like this after the cast off.

It was 19 feet long. Yep. Nineteen FEET. But it was quite a stash buster, let me tell you. So how does one manage something this long?

You fold it in half, sew along the least stretchy edge, and get a nice ruffly scarf like this.

Try it yourself!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

So what is it with cats and boxes? I get something in the mail and the first thing my cats want to do is get in the box. This is Maisie, the queen bee of the house, commandeering an box. "You will obey my every will feed me when I want will let me sleep in your lap as long as I want will cater to my every whim and get rid of that sunnuvabitch of a cat you introduced to us three years ago......"

This is the other cat in question:

On a knitting note, I've fallen victim to temptation and joined the Knitting Olympics. Yep, I'll be part of the insane group of knitters who will be casting on their projects February 10th with the goal of finishing them by February 26th when the Olympic torch is extinguished in Torino Italy. I'll be knitting a cardigan sweater in Rowanspun (I couldn't help it, Mother, I succumbed to temptation! The touch! The texture! The fact it's a discontinued yarn so I won't be able to see it ever ever again!). But not only will I be knitting a sweater. I will be rehearsing and traveling to NYC from the 16th thru the 20th for a performance with my fellow Confluence choristers at Carnegie Hall. It's a good thing there are long flights to and from for knitting time.

I'm not the only wacko--um, dedicated knitter who is up to the challenge. PodMama Brenda is co-captaining the Welsh Knitter contingent, complete with its own button. Once her site is up for the group, I'll link you to it. For now you just have to contend with the button and a picture of my swatch.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Cow time! Today's topic: Medicare, or to be specific the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) (with a gratuitous mention of knitting on the job).
Now I work with a medical system and handle Medicare claims for a living. I've been working with Medicare (and for a time Medicaid) for 15 years. I enjoy it. Really. I'd rather deal with Medicare than the other insurance companies who are out there. And when they decide to make changes, I pretty much go with the flow, make my adjustments, and move on.
Today was not a good day. I sat for 4 ungodly hours with only my knitting to keep me sane during a training session where my fellow listeners and I sat and heard the presenter give out incorrect information. There were folks who were very new to Medicare billing receiving time-consuming directions on sending their claims. Now these training teleconferences aren't Academy award winners by any means, but at least give correct information gang! I did 6 rows on my Tasha Tudor shawl until I ran out of yarn then switched to making a preemie cap. I knew I kept a set of needles at work for a reason....=8)
CMS has also let someone loose on their website to revamp and reorganize it. The results are broken links, missing information, and a website that had before been a valuable tool to a worthless piece of crap.
I'm glad I don't have to handle anything that was affected by the Medicare Modernization Act. I tried to figure out what I would have to pay if I was a Medicare beneficiary and signed up on the plan and gave up. And I deal with them for a living, kids! Can you imagine what your parents, grandparents, older siblings, and so forth are dealing with?
So that's my cow for today. Oh yeah. When buying canned cream soup to use for cooking, be sure to read the label carefully. I thought I had picked up two cans of cream of celery. One turned out to be cream of broccoli. It smelled of old man fart when heated and could only be disguised by very cheap tuna fish. You know, the 49 cents a can generic label stuff that your cats won't touch.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

It's been a couple of weeks since my last posting and a very busy one, what with choir librarian duties, rehearsals, and work. All the knitting I did over the holidays culminated with a bout of tendonitis in both hands and arms. Then last Wednesday I came down with the flu and I've been forced to not do anything but sleep, drink fluids, and watch bad television. No knitting has meant that my tendons have had a chance to heal up. So what do I do after feeling better? Pick up a WIP (work in progress) and start working on it.
The scarf started out with this cast on, three hundred on size 15 needles.
I knew it was going to be long, but it ended up being much longer than I expected---like 19 feet. I'll bind the scarf together at the cast on to make the edges ruffly and shorten the length. Kind of like doing a steek in a sweater, only I'll undo the stitches and tie the ends so that they are fringe.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Mabel's Cafe & Knittery has this wonderful little monster that was the inspiration for Festus No-Feet. I was there on New Year's Eve to chat with Melissa and thought it would be a great opportunity for Festus to meet his "daddy". The original is much better than Festus in my opinion. I still have a way to go on my shaping skills. But isn't he just too cute for words? I like the Giant Microbes too. And Morticia Addams knitting the three armed sweater for the next baby.
RESOLUTIONS REDUX Ok I made a mistake in my resolutions. I said I would never swim in the Pacific Ocean. A good friend I want to visit in Hawaii asked me why. That's when I realized I messed up. So I have a revised resolution that I know for certain I will keep. I resolve to never swim in the Arctic Ocean. So there.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

FAT AND HAPPY The days around December 25th seem to bring up all sorts of discussions about the Christian holiday versus other religious observances versus the commerciality of the time, et cetera et cetera... Personally, I don't belong to a specific religious community. I practice a blend of things that I have been taught over the years from friends and family and outside sources. One of the things that remains constant in my life is celebrating the Christmas holiday. I don't attend church but I respect those who do. One of my nephews and his family have a tradition that I enjoy when I celebrate with them. We go out to eat, then when we return we start with one person reading the passages describing the birth of Jesus. Candles are given out to the group, then one person lights their candle and tells the group what they are thankful for. The next person lights his candle and does the same, followed by the next, and so on until all the candles are lit. We sing Silent Night in the candlelight. For me, the ritual is an honoring of a person who tried to pass on a message of peace and love to the multitude. It gives a meaning to the time and reminds me of the blessings I have received over the year. This year, I went to another family's house to celebrate the holiday. It was a more secular celebration, a family gathering that reminded me of the gatherings held at my parents' home years ago. Watching my three grandnephews claw their way through their gifts was a joy to see. It's not often that one can see this ritual through the eyes of a child and it reminded me of the times in my childhood when I would find under the tree that special toy or game I had hoped for. Later, we talked about what was the most memorable toy we had received as a kid at Christmas. For my brother, it was an airplane he got at Grandma's that promptly was lost. For me it was a 400 piece set of Legos complete with boards to put them on, gears, wheels, and all sorts of things. But the gathering was more than just the gifts under the tree. We played dominoes and Yahtzee, watched movies, and ate and ate and ate and ate. In the back of my mind I was thinking how I was truly blessed that I have a diverse family. This group welcomed me with open arms, asking me about the choir and my knitting, and talked with me about things I would never expect from the more religious members of the family. My brother wanted me to feel comfortable and at home. My nieces and nephews-in-law talked about all sorts of things with me. My grandnephews gave me the gift of joy when they found that I had made them mittens just for THEM! What could an auntie ask for? The experience reminded me that I needed to take care of myself and the place I live in. I'm lazy and tend to leave clutter lying about. So I came home and resolved to work on cleaning up my house. I gave myself a reason, taking advantage of the sales the stores are having right now to purchase a new TV to replace the dying one I have. I had another reason: to make room for the armoire my brother in law made for me for my coats. It's too easy to fall into a rut and find yourself sliding into a depression when you come home to chaos. The cleanup has been rejuvenating. I will start the new year clean.
So whatever holiday you have been celebrating this past December, or if you celebrated nothing at all but the joy of living, I hope that your celebrations were warm and hearty and full of joy.

This is the time of year when people make resolutions. Many are broken; others are kept for a while then they go by the wayside when old habits raise their heads. I used to make resolutions but gave it up. I mean, what is January 1st but another day? Why make a resolution today when you can make one a week from now and still be valid? Why have a resolution that is supposed to last all year? Why not make one that lasts just a day? A week? An hour?

Well, there are traditions and taking my cue from a source long forgotten (I think it was Calvin & Hobbes), I'm going to make resolutions I know for certain I will keep.

I resolve to never invade a foreign country or instigate a political coup.

I resolve to never rob a bank.

I resolve to never engage in insider trading.

I resolve to lift no more than 260 pounds.

I resolve to use a letter of the English alphabet once a day.

I resolve to spend my year in the dissemination of joy.

I resolve to never swim in the Pacific Ocean.

I resolve to whistle.

I resolve to maintain a level of levity commensurate to the situation at hand.

What are your resolutions?