Friday, January 29, 2010

This Post Brought to You by Mom, and the Letter P...

I realized late last night the reason I cannot deal with wee small folks on anything other than a non-professional level...barring that, no more than two at a time. (I did a fabulous job baby-sitting back in my day, after all.)

But when my mom called last night, first to lament about the fact that I might have a killer car (and not in that slang-tastic "killer" way either, she was taking about the Toyota recall), and then, and what was really more important, to make me procure "another" piggy bank like the first I'd gotten for my niece....I will admit I was kinda confused on both parts.

As much as I'd love a new car every year...just for that new car Matrix is not on the recall list, it being older than the models listed...besides, I checked, and the hooks that hold my floor mats? Are kinda burly. I think I'm good (knock on wood).

The piggy bank, however, really stumped me. As much as I think that some Hello Kitty stuff looks as much like a cat as oh, I dunno, my left foot? I never thought it looked anything like a pig. And here my mom was insisting that I needed to replicate the gift I'd given my niece for her birthday so my nephew could stop wailing at his lacking of it...Hello Kitty dolls? Hello Kitty markers? Hello Kitty pens? (A seasonal (xmas) store at the mall was closing...50% off EVERYTHING.) What did he need so badly that his heart was breaking (okay, really it was my heart breaking hearing him crying in the background) with my dad (my dad!) trying to sooth him ("ya, ya, ya, mijo, ya, ya, ya.")

There had been no piggy bank in my gift box...I was at a total loss. Then she went on to describe it (in a pink box, with "shelves" for the paint and decorations), and I absolutely knew it was neither Hello Kitty, nor something I had bought. But I would be damned if I could not find one to placate this child.

My mom handed him the phone and he calmed down enough to describe it in utter detail (it was at his house, and he was at my folks' house)...and I just about started to cry when he was sniffling and telling me it was bigger than a matchbox car and has glitter and stickers and he didn't care if the box was pink. Did I mention he just turned 5?

Then technology came to my rescue. I googled as I spoke to him and thought I'd maybe found it, but needed to be sure (I could not send him something almost but not quite what he was lamenting about...just could.not. So I asked him to get one of the adults to send me a picture of it using their cell phones. Tio Tony! We were at the point of having him take the phone to my baby brother's room when my mom said she'd go to their house (they live next door) and have my SIL send me the picture.

It's a match: Decorate your Own Piggy Bank by Melissa & Doug. The only catch is that I can't find a local place to procure it. I'm totally calling them this AM to see if they can help me find a place here in Seattle or down in LA so that this can be taken care of. And it must be taken care of.

Andy was totally baffled by all of this...along the lines of, "You must really like your nephew." Well, duh, but aside from's who I am and how I react when someone of the young and helpless variety are so upset that they are losing it. (Remember Sally Struthers and her suffering kid commercials? KILLED ME.) And as the tia, auntie, big sister, or even just good friend of the parents? I can do stuff like this. Well, especially for the niece and nephew, gramma is the usual suspect, spoiling rights are obviously hers, but I had the google at my fingertips this we had to do it in tandem.

This, however, is also why I could never walk into a classroom of under 6th graders (dude, sometimes, 6th graders were just so wee and so pathetically helpless that I had to give them up too) as a substitute teacher. And NO WAY was I taking on a class of my own super-littles when I did do the teaching thing. I can't be everyone's go-to auntie, it would have drained me dry.

I'll just keep spoiling other peoples' kids, as is my right when I'm not being paid to look after/teach them.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The View from Up Here

So it's just dawning on some of my coworkers, as we are walking towards their bus stops after work, just how close I live to the new building. Especially when I point and say, "See that one? That's where I live."

But all flowers and gravy it never is. And where did that idiom come from? Or is it to early for me to think straight?

Did I ever recount (okay, too early if I'm using that word) the tale of us looking at the apartment back in May/June of '09? You know, last decade? When we may have seen a rocker and a baseball player in the hallways? Both being this place's claim to fame? (Both most likely having moved out as people like us vs. people like them start renting space here...another story all together.)

Anyhow, so as we were given the grand tour I noticed that the HUGE neon-looking sign out the windows that face both bedrooms. "Does that thing light up?" I asked.

"Oh, no, no no. It's just a sign."

I was a wee bit disappointed, simply because it was REALLY BIG and I thought that there had to be a catch and/or maybe a way to get the rent reduced if, say, we had to live with a huge neon sign burning our retinas every night. But the rent was super reduced anyway and we decided to take it.

Sometime around November I noticed that there was great movement on and around the hotel with regards to refurbishing. Especially the lights and lamps that give it it's, whatchucallit...personality. They are either fuchsia or purple you see. Outside lamps. Shining on huge pots of flowers. (If I've mentioned this hotel or you've stayed there, you don't have to let everyone know where I live, but now you know....although I may have blabbed this somewhere along the line anyway...I do that...)

Where was I? Right...lights...refurbishing...cuz you know, winter is DARK and maybe they need to let more people know where they are? Was it around xmas time that they finished? I want to say so...And January is traditionally the darkest time of the year in Seattle...and I mean, you have to bring in the customers somehow...after all, the name side of the sign points out to the world...but the "HOTEL" side? Right towards our building...and it's pink:There isn't even an alleyway between us from this view...seriously must have been there back when my building was a parking lot or something. It's about as high as the 8th floor...i.e. they are the ones whose retinas are probably all burnt out by now. Or maybe they are even more sleep deprived than I am with the fuchsia glow coming in THROUGH THE CLOSED BLINDS and reflecting vividly across the walls of the bedroom.

This morning? While over-thinking my latest dream in the shower***? I realized maybe why I'm having so many god-awful dreams with pain and death and chasings and knives and mean parents and a constant flashing pink hotel sign somewhere in the middle of it all...

Back in May/June, I remember joking that it would be the bomb if it was a flashing hotel sign where the neon was giving up the ghost like in all those creepy killer movies from the 80s...And in my dreams? It flashes.

***On a semi-drifting off topic...I want to note this here for me more than anything...dreams about parents...I've been having a lot of them lately. Not memory dreams...not always my parents, just parents, interacting with their kids, all pretty much in the same way. No, this is not me wanting children, possibly the exact opposite.

The conclusion I came to as I was rinsing the conditioner out of my hair is that my folks, who wanted me to be more learned and accomplished and successful than they were, kept fighting against my teen-aged self when I did become at least more learned and accomplished than them...because it's one thing to fill a person's head with all this "stuff"...and quite another for them to grow into it. (And oh my gods how I thought I knew EVERYTHING when I was sixteen and why are these people holding me back!)

I don't dwell on the "what would have beens," it just gives me indigestion. Besides, I knew then, even if they refused to see it, that it was completely against their mexican natures to let me be the american teenager I wanted to be. What I wouldn't have given to have them come to this conclusion sooner. See, raising two kids and seeing how they came out before my baby brother even hit puberty? Oh how they've changed...old fashioned they might still think themselves (and ACKNOWLEDGE), and too strict and mean my BB may think them...but man, he has NO IDEA how easy he has it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I Must Be Looking in All the Wrong Places...

Shortly before my xmas trip down to LA I got a bug in my ear (does that sound like the right idiom) to make some beanies for the bigger boys in my family: My older brother (OB) and my baby brother (BB).

I started a beanie for my BB from my stash as the boy has this thing about "if it has purple in it, I'll take it" so there was some yarn, with purple in it, and yeah, I started it. (Though, to clarify, he did not know he was getting a hat made, he did not specifically state the above purple statement, both just came to me in a "shower thinking" moment.)

Did I mention my BB has a big head? See, unlike OB, it's because of his hair. He's got more hair on his head than the rest of us, mom, dad, me, OB...put together. So I cast on a million stitches in sock-yarn, cuz there was purple in it. Suffice to say, as with all last-minute/desperate knitting ideas I've didn't work out. Along with the purple there was way too much yellow and the green looked awfully fluorescent...I'll take a pic. later, promise, as it's still sitting in a time-out on my desk as I write this.

Instead I decided I'd focus on my OB. I'd tried (and failed failed failed) in the past to make him a hat that would fit. Both, it seems have inherited some ancient Tarascan BIG HEADS. This time it would be done. So shortly before leaving I ventured into a bit of yarn shopping to find some Dale of Norway Falk yarn (as it's worked super well for me in the past for hats) in black, grey, or other dark dreary colors that my brother would wear...

Did I miss something in the yarn world? Or is it a Seattle thing? I could not find a skein of black yarn in Falk or Louet Gems or any other superwash sock-ish yarn to save my life! By utter chance and mistake I dug out the very last dark grey and two very battered black skeins of Ull in the back of the very last shop I had time to go to...(seriously, leaving the next morning and thinking, "Oh, why not try one more shop...")

But I was armed with yarn and needles and cast on as soon as I got on the plane (I'd be there for a few days before xmas, I could do this...) I knit and knit and knit and caught the attention of the children who helped me lie bold as anything and swore that the hat was for MY dad, not theirs (gotta love kids who will go in on capers with you). But also caught the attention of my BB, who very much wanted a black hat also, please.

Well, after finishing my older brother's hat, I didn't have much yarn left, so I told him I'd see what I could do with what I had and started a duplicate hat for him...It fits my head wonderfully...maybe even my nephew's BB's? With a 25.5" circumference? Not so much. And I'd run out of yarn...

So off I went in search of more black yarn...This was December 20th or so.

It's now January, the 20th even. I finally found some black machine-washable-ish sockish yarn for his hat...Seriously, did everyone buy out the yarn stores of their black yarn from LA to Seattle? (Well, it was xmas after all...)

And yes, I know I can order stuff over the internets...but I really wanted to touch and feel and see what I was getting myself into...again, he's got a 25.5" circumference on his behaired noggin', those are a whole lotta stitches if all I could get was super-ultra fingering weight vs fatter heavier fingering (and you know they are ALL labeled JUST fingering...). And with the shipping charges? For yarn I wasn't sure I wanted? My cheapassed nature got the better of me and instead I worked in running a few blocks to a yarn store into my regular Seattle-centered excursions.

When I was picking up my glasses I again figured, "eh, I'm here" and dropped into the yarn store where I'd neither found Falk or Ull or anything close to what I was looking for, but you never know, right?

Hello battered skein of Berocco Ultra Alpaca...I'm about to finish casting on 180 stitches for this boy's hat...I must like him just a little, eh?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Me Again...

I was talking with my boss's boss when I noticed there was a chip in her lens that, thanks to an ill-timed fall (she was traveling that week) she would have to live with it until further notice. It got us on the topic of glasses and the importance of spares and backups. What we didn't say, and what I now share with you, is the importance of a spare or backup that you like.

See, back in October my eye doctor pronounced that my left lens needed more tweaking. This is not a new thing. My eyes aren't so bad that were it not for modern technology I'da been eaten by the saber toothed tiger as I'd have mistaken it for a kitty. (Okay, 'member Adventures in Babysitting? Did the movie also have the girl who lost her glasses petting a rat and thinking it was a kitty? Cuz the book was especially good at mentioning that bit...and I can't remember the movie all that well...) But my eyes require the use of my glasses to keep me from say, walking off with complete strangers in low lit crowded rooms thinking they're the folks I went to the party with...

Anywho, the wonders of insurance stated that they'd pay for the lenses, but not the frames...given my knack for eating through metal...I don't have many old frames just lying about, and given the state of the economy, I didn't exactly have the cash to spend on a new frame (new frames?) So I grabbed the only pair of glasses that did have serviceable frames and turned them in for lenses. I know I could have tried wearing the super old prescription as I waited for my more favored pair of glasses to be updated...but there was that whole "can't see to drive" hurdle that I just could not jump. All you Seattle drivers are welcomed :).

So, for the last three months I've been wearing a pair of glasses that..I'm not sure how to describe it...except to say they just weren't me anymore.

I mean, back when I got them, I liked them. A lot. They were, um, well, just like all the other glasses I've had since I got away from the BIG PLASTIC FRAMES of the 80s. Nothing fancy, just wire rims that let me see. Wire rims that faded into the background and could be taken off at a moment's notice to take a picture (back when I could still see the camera clear enough to not squint...). I know this stems a whole bunch from the fact that my mom did not want me wearing glasses, at all, ever! And was actually shocked by how bad my eyes were when I did get them (I was thirteen...glasses and braces and bad hair, oh my!)

Somewhere along the way though, I totally came to accept my glasses as a part of me. So much so that frame choosing became a fun part of the doctor's office visit, and I'd force friends to come with me as you would on any shopping excursion. Sometimes I laughed right out loud when after hours of searching I'd choose something that looked just like the one I had really.

But...going back to this pair of frames that I chosen so long ago? It felt like I was putting on an outfit I hadn't worn for years...and maybe didn't quite fit right anymore...or look right...or feel like I should still be that embroidered jean jacket I still have at my mom's house...I love it to death, but wear it? Out in public? Like I said before, they are serviceable, they let me see, but...they're just not me anymore.

So I did it. A few weeks back I took my mom's xmas present (cash) and my first month of no car payment (did I mention I paid off my car? Go me!) and brought my favorite frames (that had no corroded metal damage whatsoever thankyouverymuch) and asked the nice ladies at my doctor's office to make them work again...which they did.

It's like I sent my one rain jacket to get dry cleaned or something. Making due with whatever I could until it was time to pick it up (but not the faded, embroidered jean jacket, mind). I picked them up today and when I put them I could not help smiling...wrinkles be damned! Hello me! Where have you been?!?

Lesson learned...I will budget for frames every year. Like a pair of shoes, I need to both like and be comfortable with what's on my face helping me not walk away with complete strangers or crash my fully paid for car.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Good News Is...My Mom was Right

She doubted herself. Tomorrow I will praise her logical thinking.

It's official, I have never had the chicken pox.

Everyone at my Dr's office was all, "Of course you have." And, "Maybe the case was so mild you didn't even know it." Or the brutal but true, "Sweetie, at your age you'd better hope you've had it!"

Nope. Never. Not a speck of it in my system. Damn.

See, and this is where you can't trump my mom's line of thinking:
a) My mom has the best memory of everyone in the family.
b) In my 18 years of living there, she does not remember me ever sprouting any tell-tale fever and dots.
c) Had I gotten the chicken pox as a child, why/how did my older brother & dad escape? (Yep, that's me saying that my dad was also not a chicken pox survivor until...)
d) My baby brother got the pox at age 3 (and I was far far away at college) and both my older brother AND my dad (at the not-so-old-to-me-now age of 48-ish) got it, full boar (bore?), no holds barred.

So, when I have the paper results (as opposed to the voicemail), I get to head down the the health department and see if I can't get an inoculation.

Somehow that doesn't seem like a reward for being right though...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Does It Count as I Actually Cooked, Twice?

Yesterday was supposed to be a productive go-shopping day.

My trip to LA made me realize just how lacking I am in "non-work clothes." See, work clothes? I have sufficient slacks and blouses (okay, I think of silky/rayon with puffy sleeves and maybe a bow or some-such thing when "blouse" comes to mind...but really they're all cotton knit things that I got in the woman's department at JC Penny's or Macy's...) to get me through...I'd say 2, maybe 2.5 weeks without even having to think about "matching" (they all match) or laundry.

Ask me to go out on a Saturday for a casual brunch or day with your kid and I'm frantically searching for a clean pair of jeans and a non-work shirt/blouse that is not part of my "lounge around the house t-shirt collection" which should never see the light of day, and maybe something that makes me look not too frumpy...but also not like I'm ready to go to a business meeting...with jeans...and I'm super lacking; unless I've been really good with the laundry.

As I scanned what I'd packed in LA for such an outfit to go to my nephew's birthday party? You know with kids? And cake? And ice cream? And kids covered in cake and ice cream? I realized I honestly had nothing to wear. Everything I'd packed was just wrong. Nothing was comfy enough to chase kids in, if the need should arise. And let me be all single-no-kids female here...I was not looking forward to getting "kid" stains out of anything I owned, should the need arise.

So it's been in the back of my mind that I need to shop for such occasions. Especially since more and more folk are getting in the family way and I so do not want to be that person that can't enjoy their time with their friends and their kids because my pants are too nice to sit on the grass and chill out in. I've never been that kind of person, yet somehow my wardrobe is vectoring in that direction.

I know what accident + weight gain + pants that HURT my HIP + way more work-style clothes on sale than non work clothes = me with exactly 2 outfits to wear on a "go out" weekend.

Yesterday was supposed to be the day to amend this problem.

Then I woke up with the gnarliest of sinus I sat up in bead and started re-re-reading the Harry Potter saga in between naps of epic proportions, sudafed, and advil. I'd say I did absolutely nothing? But I got hungry around noon and made breakfast during the more medicated of moments. Had I not been loaded up on sudafed I think the sound of cracking eggs might have killed me...or made my head explode...that's how bad it was.

Then I went straight back to bed and hit repeat....until dinner.

Seriously? I made dinner? Though Andy helped mightily with this as I was getting super distracted by my head, nose, and I also seemed to have thrown my back out...but as I figured out later, it was that aforementioned hip twisting my tendons and back out of whack again. I think it's something to do with the 11 flights of stairs I went down on Friday (fire alarms cause the elevators to park in the lobby until the firemen make it all better, FYI) in order to leave the building.

Whatever the case? I did not make it to the stores. And I'm rather glad of it. My body needed to collapse and be useless (except for maybe also doing some laundry) after all these weeks of go, go, go! It's winter and I honestly think we are meant to do WAAAAAAY less during this time of year than society says we should.

Today being a whole new day and my headache finally subsiding at about 4AM...maybe I'll venture out, depends on how the hip is doing (Tiger's Balm Muscle Rub is my friend). After all, I did wash my weekend jeans and I'm almost positive I have a t-shirt worth wearing.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

On the Twelfth Day of Xmas...

I'll be at work and probably getting that "third day" soreness from moving that will prevent me from doing much I did my baking a night early:
One Slightly Lop-sided Rosca De Reyes

Why do candied anythings remind me of super old ladies? The smell, the sticky sweetness of them...And why do they always taste as if they've been around for a few decades? I mean, I did check the "packed on" and "sell by" dates and though they might be considered "fresh" for candied cherries and what might be pineapple and some other thing that turned into hard jelly, it just boggles the mind. Some day maybe I will candy my own (and thus I shall complete my training and become a full-fledged little old lady.(Insert Darth Vader breathing sound effect, here.))

But the more things stay the same:
...The more they change.
I made two wee Kings Cakes this year instead of my usual way-too-big-for-two-people one so I could not die a sugary death (because it really is, VERY sugary, and Andy will only have one slice)alone, instead I will share the love with workmates.

Now the hard bit...which one to take in? I'm leaning toward the all red one...though the red/green does look more like a crown...yet it's a wee bit more lopsided as well.

Whatevers. That decision will have to wait on the 'morrow, cuz it took about 5 hours to make these things (silly 70's messican cook books with their "stir by hand" for a million stirs and kneading for like 15 minutes, or something...some day also I will follow the recipe without my skipping a step or seven...), and it's past my bedtime.

Feliz Dia de los Tres Reyes! If you celebrate and stuff.

So I Walked to Work Yesterday...

If you knew exactly where my new building is, this would not be all that astounding of a proclamation.

I think you'd give me more accolades for just getting out the door and enduring a morning of RUSHED unpacking and setting up and finding out that we had absolutely NO ability to print (though I joked that I could possibly have our Maryland office print up and FedEx me some documents (yes, to Seattle) as I COULD see THEIR printers...but that was only funny for a wee bit).

I was ready to go home by 11AM. No, I'm not that efficient. It's more like, you know that new-building-smell? No, it is NOTHING like new-car-smell. I'm talking about the paint that hasn't quite set, the carpet vapors plugging up your pores, the ventilation system trying to keep up with 462 new bodies + movers + workmen?

Yeah, that new-building-smell. I thought it would break me.

But after a few hours I was so high on fumes that I barely noticed the lack of oxygen and instead was more concerned that my ear drums would burst from the "noise-dampening" speakers. I know it's not the ventilation system, that's down on the ground and as over-worked as it got (it must have been 80 degrees in that building at one point) it was quietly working away and the noise was definitely coming from overhead.

There are these speakers over our heads that along with being the PA system, seem to be pumping out enough "white" noise that one might mistake it for burgundy. I noticed it with a headache throbbing certainty when I went to the other side of the building (to see my apartment building through the window...) and experienced the blessed sounds of silence.

Later, when Andy met up with me to go have an early dinner and check out my company's new digs, seeing as his head is a whole foot closer to the speakers? He confirmed that I wasn't going bat-shit insane (always a good thing on a Monday).

But now it is Tuesday and I have to go back...and finish with the organizing and maybe light a candle to the printer server so I can maybe get some work done. Cuz as fun as it is to sit around and do nothing? I'd rather sit around and do nothing at home than at work, silly me.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Man, A Plan, a Canal, Panama*

I got nothin' except for the date:


*Also a palindrome, in case you missed it :).

Happy New Year!