Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Need more vacation

I need a vacation to recover from my vacation.

I shouldn't complain. The hardest decision each day was what to eat, or to be specific, what to grill. Otherwise, playing cards (euchre) was my only other mental exercise.

There was also much drinking of scotch (Laphroig), beer (Labatt's Blue), and wine (Don Ramon). Then there was the cigar smoking.

No wonder I don't feel so good.

On the other hand, I got a lot of crocheting done. Pictures to come.

The biggest achievement, however, was the cleaning of the kitchen. Let me set the picture.

At the turn of the last century, Husband's paternal family bought a cottage in a temperance camp (oh the irony. Each morning we wake to beer bottles lining the porch railing) on the shores of Lake Ontario. Ownership of the cottage has passed down to Husband's father, Husband's uncle, and their cousin. It's used mostly in summer, as it is not insultated. It's also rented out to other relatives. Therefore, there are generations of pots, pans, and other stuff in the kitchen.

On the second day there, Husband's Older Cousin opened a cabinet and several, redundant muffin tins fell out. He lost his temper about the amount of junk in the place. So the afternoon was spent cleaning and scrubbing away all evidence of mice (ewwwww). Excess pots and pans were put in a box, and stored in a closet.

I should mention that the cleaning was done by Husband, Older Cousin, Younger Cousin, and Uncle, all men. The only two women in the place (Younger Cousin's Girlfriend, and me) sat on the porch. We did venture in there to make some the dinner afterwards, when it was nice and clean and all the mouse droppings were gone. The grilling, of course, was done by the men.

How's that for a vacation post? The only things worth mentioning is that the kitchen got cleaned? On the other hand, there was a lot of talking, late nights hanging out, playing cards, and doing nothing. And that's what vacations are about.

Still, a few days after returning to sleep it off would have been nice.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Going on Vacation

To Buffalo, NY.

Husband's father side is from that area and this weekend is the annual family reunion. We will actually be at a cottage on the shores of Lake Ontario. There used to be a beach, but it's eroded away over the years.

On a good, clear day, we can see the CN tower in Toronto across the lake.

An added bonus this year is the chance to catch up with friends who moved to Buffalo. I went to grad school with R and he's now a professor of sociology at a Buffalo university. Becoming a professor was always his ambition, so while in grad school, he served on department committees, in the sociology club, etc. And now he has his goal.

I on the other hand, would take 2 sociology classes and one art class. One quarter, I signed up for pottery and just fell in love. Fortunately, I've been able to continue taking pottery classes at the county parks and recreation, which is just 3 miles from my house!

But this weekend, it will be about eating, drinking, knitting, crocheting, talking, fishing, and most of all, chilling out.

Crazy Aunt Purl in the New York Times

The NYTimes style section discusses the popularity of bangs, and one of my favorite bloggers, Crazy Aunt Purl, is the first person in the article. Here's the URL

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- No Spoilers

At about 3:30pm today I started reading Deathly Hallows and now at 1:30am I have finished it. I even took a break for dinner.

First of all, it was a very good read and a satisfactory end to the series. And secondly, I was right about half my predictions.

All week, I would get a little sad, thinking that the last book was coming and that the story would be over. I was also a little sad that this was my best employee's last week. Fortunately I've got someone already to take over that position and another new employee coming on, who will fill a big gap that we've had for about a year.

But anyway, back to Deathly Hallows. Like all the other HP books, it was fast paced and suspenseful. As in the other books, there are choices to be made and you never know what's going to happen. And the emotions and characters are believable, as always, though I wish some characters would be deepened.

As I read, I did not try to predict what would happen. I just enjoyed how it unfolded.

Tomorrow I will swim laps, which always puts me in a contemplative frame of mind. As my body goes though the motions and I go back and forth, back and forth in the pool, I will think about DH and the whole HP series. Maybe I'll have some more thoughts to add. But how to post again without giving spoilers?

At some point, I will reread the entire series. Now that I know how it all ends, it will be interesting to look for all the foreshadowing JKR puts in.

As mentioned in the New York Times review, there is an epilogue that tells you what happens to some of the characters afterwards. However, it doesn't address the fates of all the characters. I would love if JKR writes another book, kind of like Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them, that extends the epilogue and tells us what happens to all the other characters. Or to really write Hogwarts, A History.

What an amazing world JKR has created. What an incredible 10 years this has been!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


This is what summer is about.
Red double hibiscus and ripe tomato.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Order of the Phoenix

In preparation for watching Order of the Phoenix tonight, I rewatched Goblet of Fire. Again, I was disappointed at how much was left out, but what can you do? GoF is a big book and there's no way it could all fit in one movie.

Husband did come to see OotP with me and Brother One. Not having read the book, he was a bit lost. Especially about how the other kids could ride the thestrals when only Harry and Luna could see them. Just because they're not always visible doesn't mean they don't exist.

Like everyone else, I thought Imelda Staunton did a great job as Dolores Jane Umbridge. Evanna Lynch did a good job as Luna Lovegood, and I liked how Neville really grew, starting with GoF. I wish they would give Ron more to do than just be the goofy friend.

I didn't like that they made Cho be the one to betray Dumbledore's Army, but they did provide a good explanation for why she did it, later.

There are glimpses of Ginny's jealosy of Cho and interest in Harry, which is very interesting considering Ginny and Harry hook up in Half Blood Prince. But then, ever since Chamber of Secrets, you knew that Ginny had a crush on Harry.

And Ginny is shown as having really strong magical skills. I like Ginny in the books but don't like how Bonnie Wright portrays her. I always imagined that Ginny has more sass than we see in the movies.

I think I need to see OotP again. There were times, especially when they were in the Ministry of Magic, that I wanted to pause the movie to look closer at the details. And I wanted to slow down the fight scenes to better understand what was going on.

All in all, I enjoyed the movie and look forward to buying the DVD. Hope there are good extras.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


In exactly one week, I will have in my hot little hands, the last Harry Potter book. I will be unavailable for anything other than eating and possibly sleeping until the book is done. Which would be the next day. Definitely by Monday I would be done.

Okay, here are some of my predictions. It will be interesting to see how they compare to what actually happens. After I read Deathly Hallows, I'll post again. Not to give away any spoilers, but just to say "50% (or whatever) of my predictions were right" or "This is just as good as Goblet of Fire." Things like that. I personally don't mind spoilers. Even if someone had told me that Dumbledore died and Snape's the one who did it, I would still read it to know how it happened.

So here are my predictions:

1. There will not be a happy Hollywood ending.
It'll be more like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" where the main characters do not live happily ever after. Rather, some live, some die, and life goes on, with both regrets and some satisfactions. You know, like real life, after war. Some soldiers come home as heros, but that fades, and some come home and eventually end up homeless.

2. People who live:
Hermione, Ron and all the Weasleys, the Dursleys, Neville, Luna, all the other kids in Hogwarts. That includes Draco, who I think will survive, but with consequences.
Hagrid, McGonnegal, Trelawney, all the other teachers and adults at Hogwarts. Yes, I think Snape lives.
All but one or two of the Order of the Phoenix. JKR killed off Dumbledore and Sirius, and it is battle, so people on both sides will die.

3. People who die:
Harry, Voldemort, maybe Bellatrix, maybe Lucius

4. If these people die, I would be so sad:
Hermione, Ron and all the Weasleys, Neville, Luna, Hagrid, McGonnegal, Trelawney.

5. Relationships: Harry comes to his senses and goes back to Ginny. Ron and Hermione finally hookup. Luna and Neville do not hook up. That would just be too neat.

6. Characters who become prominent:
Neville becomes a crucially deciding factor. How, I don’t have any idea. It would be really cool if Neville rises up like Eowyn killing the King of the Nazgul. Like he mortally wounds Voldemort, Voldemort weakened still manages to fatally wound Harry, and Harry deals the killing blow and then dies of his wounds. But more probably, Neville and Bellatrix will have a showdown.
Luna makes a prediction. Not like Trelawney's predictions, but more like she sees something that the others don't. She's the one who thinks way outside the box and goes against conventional wisdom and so she perceives things that others don't and kind of dismiss because she seems like such a flake.
Snape turns out to be good and he does something as critically important as killing Dumbledore and being revealed as the Half-Blood Prince.

6. Characters and elements we see again:
We see the larger, international wizarding world again like we saw in Goblet of Fire, my favorite so far. The giants, house elves, centaurs, and other nonhumans play crucial roles.

7. A yarn shop opens in Hogsmeade :) And not managed by Fred and George. Who will continue to be very successful.

8. Neither Harry nor his scar is a horcrux.

9. Kreacher helped R.A.B.

Okay, this is a partial list. Probably during this week I will come back and edit this post to add more. But will stop once I get the book.

Can. Not. Wait.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Looking up

Boy, was yesterday eventful at work.

First we had a goodbye lunch for an employee. Some of the attendees were other former employees and as we left, I told them to refer to me anyone who would be qualified to take over this position. That's when our volunteer piped up "Train me for it! Train me for it!"

That was strange, because I had already approached the volunteer about taking over that position. This volunteer has come to the office 2 full days a week for about a month, is smart, and a quick learner. She said when I first asked her about taking the position, that she got the impression that I was looking for someone more qualified than her. What I didn't know was that she had 8 years of experience doing similar but not the same kind of work. When I first interviewed her, she was applying for a different position at the organization.

Anyway, she's going to move into this newly vacant position. And that's a really good thing because she knows the organization and the program. Now I have to figure out how much to pay her. For 10 years, the starting pay has been the same, so now it's actually worth less than it was ten years ago. On the other hand, that puts pressure on me, as the only fundraiser in the organization, to find even more money.

Secondly, I have another new hire for a position that's been open since February 2006. Yes, it's been open for 17 months. I have really high hopes for this new person. We met for coffee yesterday to discuss a few issues, such as salary (of course) and her visa situation. She's got a work permit through her current job, so if I want to hire her, we have to find a lawyer to file the papers to have it transferred or something so she can work legally for us. Eventually she also wants to become a permanent resident, which means more legal fees and a 2 year commitment. The goal is to become a citizen.

I said, let's try a 3 month probationary period before sponsering her for permanent residency. After all, we may find that it's not such a great match after all and then we'd both be stuck for 2 years in an unhappy situation.

I agreed to a higher salary, though not as high as she wanted, so we can cover the costs of the legal fees. Again, now I have to think about where this extra money will come from. Augh, the pressure, the pressure!

However, it's coming up on the weekend and I can rest easy that these two positions will be filled, that work will continue, and that new blood and fresh ideas will be coming in. Change is inevitable and I think this time it's going to be good.

So I will take a break at lunch and go bead shopping. I really like long beaded lariat necklaces, so my idea is to take the one skein of multicolored sari silk yarn that many of us have and knit it into a long skinny scarf, maybe a 5 stitch I-cord, with beads at the ends.

And then tomorrow, Brother One and I will go see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It was not my favorite book but I hear the movie is really good. My favorite HP is Goblet of Fire, and the movie did not live up to my expectations. This time, my expectations are much lower.

Husband is not sure if he wants to participate in this geekery with us. He has not seen any of the movies nor read any of the books. Yes, I'm married to a muggle.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Resisted Temptation

I'm so proud of myself :) I drove right past my favorite yarn shop and did not stop in.

It was good to have the support group yesterday. The hardest part of every manager's job, I think, is human resources. Just look at how many articles and books are written about how to get along with difficult people at work.

So it was good to commiserate with peers in this regard. And it wasn't all complaining. Each person at the the "meeting" last night has a different management style and I got some good ideas. Mostly, I'm hoping for human cloning to work, so I can clone one of their employees and have her come work for me too.

At work, one of my best employees is leaving. It's a great step up for her, doing the same job but internationally and one of the offices she will be working at is in her country of origin. It'll be the first time she's been back there in 15 years. So that's the good part.

The bad part of course is that I have 10 days to find someone to replace her. Then I found out that someone I want to hire may have H1-B visa issues. It's true, the hardest part of any executive's job is not the selling or product development or anything. It's human resources. And no one ever tells you that!

However, as one of my friends said last night, the only thing she can control is herself and her own reactions. She took a month off to visit her country of origin with her sons and for the first week she had panic attacks, worrying about work. Eventually she realized that she was doing this to herself and since her reactions are under her control and not the other way around, she just relaxed and let it go.

So I am trying to put that in practice. I will not let myself freak out over things any more. No one is injured, no one is dying. Therefore, it is not really a crisis and yes, this too shall pass.

So when will it pass, already!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The only thing I can control

Over the weekend, after Husband's family left, I spent the weekend watching the Harry Potter movies on ABC Family channel and knitting on Sister's sweater, the Bi-colored Cables.
After much counting of rows and stitches, it turns out that the two sleeves were differents widths was because I knitted more rows on one than the other, hence there were more decreases on one than the other.

All the knitting is now done and now I am seaming the sleeves. Then sew up the turned under hems. Oh, I still have to knit the hems of the sleeves, but that shouldn't be too hard.

So as I finish up one project, I am thinking ahead to a new project. Never mind that still on the needles are:
1. Sister's sweater -- it may be close to done, but it's not done yet.
2. Husband's afghan -- I need more Cascade 22o in Kentucky Blue. However, on a yarn diet until we recovered from the spending from last week. You know how it is, with family visiting, there's more eating at restaurants and more people to feed. And oops, unexpected car issues.
3. Lace scarf for me -- using Bamboo yarn from Southwest Trading Company in Butter. It's their simplest wide-bordered scarves from Victorian Lace Today, the one for beginners. It's my portable knitting and I cranked on it for hours during the Court of Women at the US Social Forum a couple of weeks ago. The Court of Women was over 4 hours of testimony on the issues of violence against women, women and girls in the prison industrial complex, and the disaster of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. As I listened to horror story after horror story, I knitted on the the scarf. People came and went, and there were tons of other workshops going on that I wanted to go to, but I felt compelled to bear witness to this and having the knitting helped.

Only three projects? Not enough! Must start more!

So I started a simple lace panel scarf using softer than soft Malabrigo yarn (my favorite) in Buscando Azul, an intense, gorgeous blue that I got at Knitch. I only have one skein and am not sure that will be enough.

Then, since I've been listening to Stash and Burn and hearing about their crocheting adventures, have been trying out different crochet projects, using varigated lace weight from KnitPicks in my stash.

Because of the yarn diet, I have been trying to knit from my stash, especially trying to figure out what to do with the one or two skeins of varigated lace weight and sock weight yarn I bought from Knit Picks. Other than knitting lace or socks, I mean. Oh, the perils of buying pretty yarn for which you have no plans.

So the title of this post. There's been lots of stress in my life lately (yes, I know, so does everyone else) and I realize that I have really gotten into knitting because it's the only thing in my life I can control. It doesn't involve mysterious moving parts that break expensively (like the car). It doesn't have it's own agenda that thwarts my own and if it does, like the lace weight yarn not cooperating with a too-big crochet hook, it's easy enough to put down, take apart, start over, or heck, throw away. It certainly doesn't talk back, quit on you, or ask for more money like people do.

Plus it comes it gorgeous colors. Speaking of colors, go visit Yarn Storm (linked in side bar). She takes wonderful pictures of everyday things.

Tonight I have a support group meeting. Actually, it's me and some friends who have the same kind of job who get together occasionally to commiserate over some margaritas. The big temptation is tonight we will be mere blocks from my favorite yarn shop, Knitch. And I'm on a yarn diet.

Must. Resist. Temptation.

One way of doing it will be to stay at the, ahem, support group until Knitch closes at 7pm. That's one reason I like Knitch. They stay open later, so those of us who work 9 to 5 earning money to spend on yarn (partially), can actually shop for yarn. I certainly shop on line, but nothing beats seeing and touching it in person.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Not the Transmission

Car update: It was the right CV axle. The clip that keeps it connected to the transmission was broken, so the axle fell out. What burns me is that the whole axle assembly was replaced just 2 weeks ago! I did not take it back to Formula One, the original mechanic even though the axle was still under warranty. It would have cost about the same amount to have it towed from Cottman AAMCO to Formula One, as it would for Cottman to just replace the damn thing. I am never going back to Formula One, even for the warranty. It just pisses me off every time I think about it and I don't need that aggravation. See previous post called "Need a Vacation."

Speaking of vacation, I've been out of the office all week while Husband's family was in town. And they left this morning. They're very nice people and all that, but it's so nice to have the house back. Highlights of this week:

1. DeKalb Farmer's Market. Even though I go to their prepared food bar for lunch most days, I don't shop there. So having the time to look at all the international foods, and fresh foods, was fun.
2. Watching Run, Lola, Run, as a bit of inspiration for Brother-in-law, the night before the Peachtree Road Race.
3. Marrietta Square for dinner and then the fireworks on July 4.
4. High Museum of Art, to see the Annie Liebowitz exhibit and the Louvre Atlanta exhibit. I most especially liked the reproduction of what Marie Antoinette and Louis (can't remember which) wore as they sat down for dessert. The clothes were made out of paper by a Belgian artist. I thought that was so cool. The sailing ship in Marie's hair, on the other hand, was ridiculous.
5. Getting my car back. Not that there should have been any problem to begin with!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Car Problems

So, Brother-in-law is in town to run in the Peachtree Road Race, the world's largest 10K race. We took 2 cars, Husband's family in his car, Brother 1 and me in mine.

7 miles down the road, we pulled into McDonald's to get breakfast. As we pulled out, my transmission died. Couldn't believe it. 2 weeks ago, just had other work done on the car, and here another major problem!

So we had it towed home.

Brother-in-law made it to the race and came in at 39 minutes, beating his goal of 42 minutes.

Just looked up the Blue Book value of my car. It's trade in value would be $2000 in the condition it's in now, and $3,075 if it were in excellent condition.

We were planning to get a new car, but in October, not now.