saturday night, mr. bee and i had grownup time! we dressed up (okay, not much, but a little) and went to the toonseum and eleven with our friends liz and manos. it was so fun!
a year ago, i'd finished knitting my sunrise circle jacket but never hemmed it (it has a turned hem around all the edges). it languished for many months; i finally hemmed everything except one sleeve a month or two ago, and then decided that i wanted to wear it last night. so i hurriedly hemmed the sleeve and wore it! it was cozy and soft on a snowy night, so it was perfect (even though it was a little big in the waist--i closed it using a pedestal button, and it puckered a lot).
pics because it happened. i tried posing in front of a decal of bugs on the wall at the museum, but mr. bee kept trying and trying and trying with his phone camera. so that is why there are five shots, and i am sharing them with you because it cracks me up that he kept shooting. he was still unhappy with them, but i was bored of posing :)
the museum is super cool. there was a looney tunes exhibit in the main gallery, then a small keith haring exhibit in the hallway, and finally an exhibit of newspaper comics. AND they do not discourage photography! just no flashes. so i snapped a few shots of things i thought were cool:
a good time was had by all. and of course dinner was delicious :)
in other news, the floors are all finished and the stuff is all back in the house. the radiators are supposed to be finished cleaning tomorrow night. then we get them brought back and loaded into the house, mr. bee paints them, and the plumbers hook them up. THEN the flooring guys come and finish the stairs, and then i can have the organizers come back to finish up the unpacking, and our house will be ours again. AND we're getting a new sofa (espresso, chunky weave). I AM SO EXCITE.
you might have been following our saga chez bee, in which the cats' constant (almost daily) peeing outside their litter boxes (not on clothes or furniture, thankfully, just within a few-foot radius of the litter boxes) was bringing me, my marriage, and our household to our knees. we were pretty sure that we were going to have to surrender the cats to the shelter, which would be a death sentence for two cats that were known to have bad litter-box habits. they just don't get adopted.
this had been going on for about three years (since shortly after we adopted them) and was so much worse than just "i hate cleaning up after them" or "i hate that smell." the smell, first of all, permeates everything, every part of the house, and really dominates one's brain in its presence. but it also stains and can ruin flooring, and this was happening in the dining room (so, no company almost ever, for someone who used to entertain regularly and have monthly dinner parties, and a terrible welcome-home greeting because it is situated smack dab between the two entryways to our house) and in my craft room (talk about saddening and frustrating, having my precious craft room, with its beautiful light and wonderful storage and my favorite color on the wall, become a place that i was loath to enter, let alone spend time in). it was virtually the only topic about which mr. bee and i ever fought, and we didn't fight nicely and healthily about it. it really was dominating my life and my psyche in terrible ways.
once we agreed that rehoming or surrendering was likely to be the solution, i became despondent. i cried constantly, couldn't sleep, couldn't think about anything else.
finally, i found a behavioral consultant who would work with us, despite the fact that she is more than a four-hour drive from us. i found only three consultants through the international association of animal behavior consultants who were within 200 miles of us, one in central pennsylvania and another in virginia. the one in central pennsylvania pretty much dismissed the idea (of working with us) out of hand; the one in virginia took forever to get back to us and still wasn't especially useful (thankfully, by then, we'd been working with debbie via phone and email and were on a path to a plan). i posted in three groups on ravelry and got lots of help, support, and advice from folks there. i read a ton of books. and i took the cats to the vet AGAIN.
this time, i really laid it out for dr. ben, explaining that this was really the end of our rope and that we were serious about rehoming or surrendering the cats if we couldn't make this stop. we are finally at the point that we are ready to paint and refloor the whole house, and we simply couldn't do that if the cats were going to ruin walls and floors. and we couldn't keep living in this shithole that the fixer-upper continues to be after more than seven years of living in this uneven, unfinished crapshack. not even for these wonderful, sweet, funny cats.
so dr. ben's advice (combined with some of the advice i'd received from other sources) was this: get four boxes (one for each cat for each function because some cats like to use a different box for peeing than for pooping) and put them all in one room. allow a few inches of space around each box, and put pee pads on the floor all around and underneath them. the pee pads would make detecting spots easier and make cleanup easier as well. and they would stop further damage to the floors and walls. in each box, try a different substrate (because cats). see what they like (use) and don't like (use) and keep working until we find what works.
so i implemented operation clusterbox the next morning. i threw out the cabinet in which the craft-room cats' room box had been, moved my work table to the other side of the room (so that the boxes were completely open because cats), and used get serious to scrub the floors [spoiler alert: WAY better than simple solution or nature's miracle, imo], using a blacklight to make sure that i had cleaned all the spots. i laid down pee pads (i've since been advised to use pads made for handling human incontinence instead, both because they're cheaper and because they're not treated with pheromones to attract puppies; those are on order but haven't arrived yet) across the whole area where the boxes would go, overlapping the edges a little for complete coverage. then i arranged the boxes:
box 4 is another shallow sterilite bin; we originally had it empty but, after it went untouched when the others were getting used, we added another litter we've used before, swheat scoop.
things are SO MUCH BETTER here i can't even believe it. we are at almost exactly three days (72 hours) since beginning operation clusterbox, and we have had exactly one accident that i know of (there could have been one in the first 48 hours in the dining room and i wouldn't have known it because the carpeting was still down and i didn't get down there touching actual fibers), and even that one was JUST behind one of the litter boxes so was probably just bad aim. they are consistently using the two shallow boxes.
the cats' room hardly smells at all and is very easy to clean both accidents and the litter boxes themselves. the dining room smells MUCH better; i tore up everything stained that i could yesterday, down to the floorboards, then used the get serious on the floors, but i couldn't get the last of the stained carpet out. my husband is home from his trip now and will take care of that, and then i can do one more pass with the get serious (which is AMAZING stuff that i cannot believe is not in every home in the world) and the blacklight to make sure that all the odor is out.
my stress, anxiety, frustration, and sadness levels, all of which were through the roof and really dominating every corner of my heart and mind for...well, for months or and parts of even *years*, are pretty much zero now, which is a feeling i haven't had in i can't remember how long. definitely years. i have great hope that we have seen the last of these problems and that the cats will live out their long and (i hope!) healthy lives with us.
cbs sunday morning does it to me almost every week: makes me homesick or nostalgic for something i love. today, it was a longtime, long-lost love: camp.
i went to girl scout camp for three summers, then returned to work at that camp for eight years in my teens and 20s. i loved that job so much. if i'd been able to eke out a living doing it, i'd have stayed forever, i think. i was director of the camp for the last two years i was there, and it was so gratifying. i can't imagine who i'd be without having had those experiences. a very difficult and challenging job with a lot of responsibility for a 24- or 25-year-old, but WOW was it rewarding.
today, sunday morning ran a segment on letters home from camp, a segment inspired by a new book. the segment addressed (quite well, i thought) the phenomenon that campers often feel terrible and sad on that first night away from home (and, often, the first day after that). they think that this is the worst place possible ever in the history of places and that they have to get out of there right now.
i realized after a couple of years of working there that lots of kids experience this feeling but that they also change their minds after a couple of days. and i made good use of that knowledge. i became a go-to person for The Homesick Talk.
if a kid were homesick, i'd sit with them for a little bit off away from everyone else. we'd find a fallen tree in the woods or a little shade at the pool, and i'd listen to her tell me all the things that were making her upset, and i'd lend a sympathetic ear and let her crycrycry. for a few minutes. when i thought that i'd heard all the reasons she could give, i'd start talking.
i'd explain that she was in this place that *exists* for the sole purpose of making her (and other kids just like her) happy, staffed with dozens of people whose sole job it was to provide ways for her to be happy and have fun, and surrounded by other kids whose sole intent was to be happy and have fun.
i'd then explain that, if she were unhappy in a place like that and surrounded by people like that, maybe she needed to think about things a little differently. she needed to realize that she had power in this situation and had some choices to make.
given that she was in this place and surrounded by these people, she could certainly choose to be miserable, and nothing anyone could say or do would be able to make her happy if she did that.
but she could also choose, i'd point out, to be happy. or at least to let herself be happy and see what happens.
i'd make her a deal—a promise, i'd say, and i never make promises that i can't keep: if you promise to do your best to choose to be happy, then, on wednesday morning at breakfast, if you still want to go home, you come and find me and we'll call your parents. (i didn't promise that the girl could go *home*, just that we'd call her parents, and that seemed sufficient.) i'd tell her that, every time she felt sad or homesick, she should go hug x, where x was a counselor or counselor-in-training or some other staff member whom i knew would be readily available to this child at any time (always with a backup name because every staff member gets time off every day).
and do you know that i never ever had to call a parent on wednesday morning? every single child, armed with that power, that knowledge, and that understanding, not only made it to wednesday morning but *thrived* by wednesday morning. we had huge retention rates—high percentages of children (and staff) returned year after year.
i loved sharing those things with those girls. and the staff members were even more rewarding than the girls sometimes. it was an incredible, life-changing, wonderful time in my life that i often wish i could recapture. i love my job now, and i feel rewarded in other ways, but that is one of those experiences that i'll treasure forever.
if you haven't ever worked at camp (or even attended camp), i hope you'll find one and volunteer or work there next year. i have a special respect and affection for american camping association–accredited camps, so i recommend searching the association's list for your next camp opportunity. it'll be one of the best times of your life. even if you hate it when you first get there. (p.s. i did.)
i love the en dash. i have observed that, like a dining hall, it has many uses. one of my favorites is its service like a hyphen but between compounds. from chicago:
6.80 En dashes with compound adjectives
The en dash can be used in place of a hyphen in a compound adjective when one of its elements consists of an open compound or when both elements consist of hyphenated compounds (see 7.78). This editorial nicety may go unnoticed by the majority of readers; nonetheless, it is intended to signal a more comprehensive link than a hyphen would. It should be used sparingly, and only when a more elegant solution is unavailable. As the first two examples illustrate, the distinction is most helpful with proper compounds, whose limits are established within the larger context by capitalization. The relationship in the third example, though clear enough, depends to some small degree on an en dash that many readers will perceive as a hyphen connecting music and influenced. The relationships in the fourth example, though also clear enough, are less awkwardly conveyed with a comma.
the post–World War II years
Chuck Berry–style lyrics
country music–influenced lyrics (or lyrics influenced by country music)
a quasi-public–quasi-judicial body (or, better, a quasi-public, quasi-judicial body)
A single word or prefix should be joined to a hyphenated compound by another hyphen rather than an en dash; if the result is awkward, reword.
a two-thirds-full cup (or, better, a cup that is two-thirds full)
An abbreviated compound is treated as a single word, so a hyphen, not an en dash, is used in such phrases as “US-Canadian relations” (Chicago’s sense of the en dash does not extend to between).
here's my recommendation: learn about the en dash, become its friend, and use it. that way, when i try to use it correctly in works i'm editing, the authors won't respond, "i don't want to use that. our readers won't know what that is." friends, the only way readers learn what something is is by encountering it.
if you can't control your medical assistant, at least you can control your knitting needles. also, warning: smug zone ahead.
yes, i am smug. smuggy smug smug smug. why? because i have all of my craft supplies, except for the one project beside me right now, in my actual craft room. i know! the only thing left to do in that room is put down a new linoleum floor, but that will wait a while. it is completely functional. like, scary functional.
note: the room is actually vertical irl. the brown floor is actually on the bottom, the blue-grey (LOVE THIS COLOR) walls are beside you, and the ceiling is on top. 'cause we're fancy like that.
but i do not know why my photos are sideways. we shall deal.
this is the busy part of the room from the doorway. on my left is a trash can, tall and hands-free, because this is the room where the cats eat and i like to throw away the cans right.now.
beside that is the first of two dressers on that wall. this dresser has four drawers, which contain, respectively, sport, dk, worsted, and aran yarns. i even used a ptouch label maker to label each drawer. and when steven and i organized and inventoried my yarn a few weeks ago, we sorted all the yarn (according to ravelry's weight categories) and i destashed anything that wouldn't fit in the right drawer (except for a few sweater quantities, which fit in the next dresser over). this was very exciting. for me. probably not so exciting for anyone else.
here's an even better view of those two dressers.
the silver bento box on top has one compartment of buttons and other fasteners, one of beads, one of beading supplies, and one free. i forget what's in the other compartment. but i am sooo smug to have all those things in one place. (crap, i just remembered that i forgot to give steven some graph paper today. sorry, sweetie! come by later if you want some.)
the plastic tub beside the bento box is a few projects waiting to be blocked or to have buttons added. i will ask youvonne to do some of that for me because i am teh suck at that sort of thing. smug i am about organizing; humble i am about finishing.
let's get back to the smug part. that is infinitely more fun for me. on top of the wider dresser (whose drawers have those extra sweater lots plus bulky and superbulky yarn plus one drawer of gift-wrapping supplies) are all my knitting books and magazines. all of them. all alphabetized by author (or, in the case of magazines, by title, then by season and year). i spent four hours this morning organizing my needles (on which more in a moment) and alphabetizing the books.
did i mention smug?
ah, the needles. the needles now hang from the baker's rack that you can see in that first photo.
reminder: things are vertical in our house, despite what the photos might indicate.
so all the needles are hanging from that second shelf, by diameter. every diameter has its own hook. i have lots of the original packages, so they're hanging in those like they would in a shop, but i don't have *all* the original packages, so some are doubled up.
they like it like that.
the bins and hat boxes have all the rest of my supplies, organized by the awesome cindy, from the organizing service that's been coaching me through all this. she spent four hours with me on friday helping me get all this done. at the end of it all, she carried away loads of trash and goodwill donations, and today i took another huge load (that's 11 loads, each at least 11 gallons) of knitting stuff to the shop.
where the piranhas devoured nearly all of it within about five minutes.
it was awesome.
there are two more views, less exciting but no less important.
this is directly opposite the door, the wall with two big windows that let in some great morning light. and yes, that is a sewing machine. out and ready to USE.
and yes, beneath the table is the litter box. rendering the sewing machine NOT ready to use. the plan is to move the litter box into the closet you see there, with a little cat door. right now, all the cat food, toys, and litter are in that closet, but andrew will build me some shelves to hold that and then the litter box can go in the closet on the floor.
then i can sew.
i'm sure that's all it will take.
and then the third dresser. really the first dresser, but i went clockwise in my tour today instead of counterclockwise. don't be confused.
this dresser has my swift in the top drawer (to be set up on the table beside the sewing machine some time soon). second drawer are needle sets (one addi click, one hiyahiya) and a set of crochet needles, all three in cases. then the big drawers have lace, light fingering, and fingering.
except socks that rock. my socks that rock have their own drawer in the wide dresser on the other side of the room. i forgot about that.
i'm a little embarrassed about that. but mostly happy.
the floor, you'll notice, is midcentury linoleum spattered with plaster and paint. i can live with that for a while. the baseboards and window trim reflect our silly attempt to strip away a century of paint.
let me just start by saying ow. owie owowowow. not the migraine i had this afternoon, which has settled down, but my right hand and wrist. i knitted too much on my queen of beads socks too quickly, i guess, not enough breaks or something, and it HURTS. (the reward, however, is pretty wonderful: pretty new socks for me!)
making my living as i have for the past couple of decades making constant daily use of a mouse and keyboard, usually for double-digit numbers of hours per day and usually for six days per week, i am no stranger to wrist and hand pain. the difference with this is that cracking my wrist and hand joints is *not helping* this time. no response. it's not a joint thing but a muscle thing, and the muscles ache like leg cramps that wake you up in the middle of the night. (if you haven't had those, they are tearfully painful. eat a banana.) from the heel of my hand to my elbow. as soon as i finish my two current edits, i'm headed to natural stitches to buy one of those wrist support thingies. a brace, i guess it's called, to compress? i have no idea how they work, but i'm really hoping that they do. :(
that said, pain aside, the weekend has been really fun. i finished these socks, which is more gratifying than i remember finishing a project being (yes, anna, *you are right*), and i'm wearing them, which is also more gratifying than i remember wearing my handknits (again: *you are right*).
the funnest parts were hanging out with anna, as usual. saturday afternoon, i went over to the yarn shop to see (and hear) franklin habit read from his book, speak, and sign copies. he is so full of win that i can't believe that he fits it all in such a compact package. i love the book, too.
after the signing, anna and i went off to a little going-away party for our friend tobi, who is moving to nashville. so sad :( it was fun, though, held at the floral design shop that our friend april owns, which is just gorgeous, catered by our friend michelle, and attended by lots of people i haven't seen in a few years. and i met a few new people, too. punch, mini cheesecakes, lemon-filled cupcakes, spanakopita, crudites, and lots of other things i can't remember, all yummy.
then this morning, we took a class on the history and techniques of lace knitting and knitted lace. i had to escape to the car to sleep off a migraine for a bit in the middle, but it was really a wonderful class. i learned a lot and had fun; a day doesn't get much better than that. oh—and one thing that has made the day even better: i cast on a pair of socks using a merino-cashmere blend that is positively decadent. i am in love.
(yes, the book continues to get lots of press, including, most thrillingly for me, having excerpts read aloud by keith olbermann and rachel maddow. but that's not what i'm going to write about today.)
in the comments to the last post, katy (a friend from ravelry who lives wayyyy too far away) noted that i probably don't have certain kinds of errors in my books. she is right. i look for bad breaks in lines (e.g.,
anything [of course, i can't think of a word that my layout program would break that way]
and, more importantly, any time i edit anything with the word "public" in it, i search the entire document for "pubic." not surprisingly, i save us that embarrassment probably every six weeks or so. whew!
my biggest peeve of late, of course, isn't in my books but in the msnbc crawl. i have complained about this before, i know, but really. "antrax"? really? that's the level of quality we get? all those shiny graphics and beautifully groomed talking heads, and you can't get a chyron that puts a little red squiggly under misspelled words? or at least catch typos after they've run across the screen *once*?
the associated press is carrying a story today about a book i edited. so are bbc news and press tv in iran. it's an interesting read; the point is basically that a military approach to fighting terrorism is not a winner, calling it a war on terrorism is inaccurate and counterproductive, and that police and intelligence work do more to make terrorist groups end than do military or political efforts. (and there's a big fat table in the back that lists virtually every terrorist group, its location, its goals, its dates of existence, and its numbers. interesting stuff.)