Archive for November, 2012

In Which I Use My Head For A Hat Rack. Sorry, Mom.

November 17, 2012

Reader Sharon wants a hat.

Specifically a red hat with a black band.

This means that said hat must be knitted, then felted, which means it must be made of 100% wool yarn.  More specifically, not the 100% WASHABLE wool that some yarn labels proclaim.

Don’t get me wrong, I love washable wool, although I’m a little bit confused as to how wool, a fiber that felts naturally and willingly, can be made washable.  Perhaps it is a trade secret.  Perhaps not, but it doesn’t bother me so much that I’m actually going to look it up, although looking things up is so easy with my friend Ms. Google.  (Notice I called her a Ms. not a Mr., because she is so helpful and accomodating.)

Colors in yarns follow cycles and trends, just like other fashion products.  Sometimes you can find exactly what you need, other times not.  Fortunately, I found this Paton’s Classic Wool for this project, cleverly named “Bright Red”.  (If anyone knows where I can get hot pink, give me a shout.)

When you knit something that will be purposely felted, it is made giant sized.

Don’t think I don’t hear you laughing.

 

First one that says they like this style on me gets a smack on the head.

 

Nice stitch definition, don’t you think?

Next, the same hat after two rounds of felting in the washing machine.

Same hat, I swear it is.

 

And if you thought that wasn’t fun enough, keep in mind that I’m taking photos of my head.  I’m not using the timer on the camera.  Umm, I *think* there’s a timer on the camera, but I haven’t learned how to use it.  I’m from the generation that uses the microwave to heat water and make popcorn.  No complete meals EVER were made in my microwave, even though my first microwave was a Sears countertop model that was big enough to put a whole turkey in, and the recipe book (yeah, right, like I’m going to use a recipe book for popping corn.) had complete meals with directions on how to arrange the cooking racks and the cooking pans and when to add dishes that needed less time and how long to nuke everything.  Anyway, forget the timer.  I have arms.

Nice foliage.

 

Try again.

 

Better.

 

View from the space station.

 

I’m clearly off-center with this project.

 

Shows promise, but needs to try harder (straight from the high school teacher’s handbook).

 

Insert smug smile.

Today, hat model.  Tomorrow, the world.

You!  Over there!  Stop laughing.

 

 

Advertisements

So Now I’m A Gatekeeper

November 15, 2012

Yesterday I was called a “gatekeeper”.  The tone of voice with which the message was delivered indicated disgust.

I’m always, ALWAYS surprised in the tone that people take with someone they don’t even know.  It’s everywhere, and seems especially prevalent on faceless entities like FaceBook and the comment section of newspapers and blogs.

I’m hardly a gatekeeper.  I’m more of a facilitator.  It’s true, I took the test.  I want everyone to play nice and to get along.  I personally get my feelings hurt fairly easily, especially when it’s delivered with a message like, “Oh, toughen up.”

I’m not going to get any tougher than I already am.  Telling someone not to be so nice does not add to the teller’s charm.  Rather, it makes for the opposite effect.  If you are going to talk crappy to me, then I’m not going to talk to you at all.  I’ll give you one chance past your initial crappy remark, and if you fail that chance, you weren’t that much to lose.

Yesterday, I was helping out the BabyBoy at the grooming shop by hanging around and generally being useless, and occasionally answering the phone if he was otherwise engaged, like bathing a dog.  As luck would have it, the phone rang, and the caller ID showed that it was a toll-free number, meaning solicitor, but I answered the phone anyway.

Sure enough,  a young gentleman, and I use that word loosely, asked for the previous owner.  I replied that they sold the business, so the g-man said that he wanted to speak to the current owner.

It must be a sad sort of existence to have to make those kind of phone calls for a living.  It would probably make you desperate, and angry at your fate that has fallen so low, and it could possibly make you lash out at the very people that you want to buy your products and/or services.  A true fail/fail.

I replied that the owner was absentee, so then you and I know the next step is for the g-man to ask for someone in charge, a manager, or a decision maker.  He assumed that I was not in charge.  He’s calling a small business, and if he had done his homework, he should know that lots of people in small businesses wear many hats, and they might even, God forbid, answer the telephone.

While it’s true that I’m not in charge, I do have some influence, and I have been answering the telephone in an office setting since 1972, shortly after we stopped using the two-cans-linked-with-a-string method.  I really do know what I’m doing, and I know that telemarkets pollute the circuits, and tie up phone lines, and whatever his service is, the grooming shop probably doesn’t need it.  There’s a good steady business now, and if your service is to make our website get more hits, why would we want more hits?  Global hits don’t translate into business for a small town pet grooming salon.

If someone is grooming your dog, do you want them to step away from the personal attention they are giving your dog, which would mean possibly leaving your dog unattended, and take an unsolicited sales call?  That’s such a ridiculous question on my part because you, faithful reader, ain’t no fool.

I told the nice young gentleman that our decision maker was bathing a dog and could not talk.  Of course, the gentleman wants our decision maker’s name.  Does a reasonable person give out such information?  Hmmm, thinking, thinking…

YoursTruly:  You have not yet identified yourself or your company or your purpose for calling.  I do not give out information to unsolicited callers.

Gentleman:  My name is Thomas, and I am calling from the world’s largest web-hosting service.  (I kid you not.  The world’s largest and he doesn’t identify it by name.  Wouldn’t the largest not always be the largest, because those rankings are fluid and dynamic and ever-changing?)

YoursTruly:  Thomas, I’ll take your phone number, and if he wants to, he will call you back.

Gentleman:  (with tone of disgust)  I hear that story all day long from *gatekeepers*, and they never call me back.

YoursTruly:  (Silence because I’m trying to digest that he just called me a gatekeeper.)

YoursTruly:  I don’t even have to talk to you.

Gentleman:  (Loudly)  Well, I don’t have to talk to you, EITHER!

At that point I stopped talking, and hung up.  I didn’t want to hear him singsong, “Nah nah nah nah, nah nah.”

I have been in the customer service field for many years, and yet I am not familiar with this new sales technique of call/vilify/piss-off the customers.  What purpose does that technique serve?  My caller DID go to enough customer service training that he absorbed the words gatekeeper and decision maker.

And from wikipedia, the definition of a gatekeeper.

In the past I would have drafted a letter to the company, but I have embraced new technology.  I’ll just BLOG about it.

A New YARN Shop! (Which was not new. AT. ALL.)

November 12, 2012

A week ago I went in search of more yarn to finish a project.  While I was at the craft store, I met a woman there who asked me to read the label on a skein of yarn for her because she had forgotten her glasses.

I could have offered her one of several pairs of glasses that were in my purse, or I could have suggested that she get a pair off the sales display to use temporarily, but those things never occurred to me.  I suppose I was secretly pleased that someone thought I knew how to read, but most probably I was most pleased to be able to help someone.

(Yes, I’m *that* person with *that* face.  People stop me and ask for directions, like I know something.)

I explained to her that the directions for knitting the garment on the label said that she would need 2 balls of yarn if she were knitting a small.  The secret code said “2 (3,3)”, and she didn’t know that the first number indicates how many skeins or balls of yarn needed for a small size, the next for a medium, and the last (see a pattern emerging here?) for a large.  It’s a bit alarming that this woman was driving.

She even said that she didn’t know what she was doing there.  She lived in B-fort, about 45 minutes away.  If she didn’t know what she was doing there, I surely didn’t either, and then she mentioned something that caused me to pay better attention.

There is a yarn shop in B-fort.  Not a craft store, but an honest-to-goodness yarn store.  I’d never heard of it.

Last Friday, Old Yeller and I tooled on over to B-fort on the bay.  I found parking nearby, and actually had change for the meter for about 50 minutes, which was good, because that gave me a time limit to get out of the store.  If you are a guy and you could wander through Home Depot for hours, then you’ll know the problem of going into a yarn shop.

It’s called Coastal Knitting, and here’s the link to their webpage.  I found everything I needed.  They’ve been there for three years already.

On the way home I had to drive by the bay, and I could see out my driver’s window that the afternoon sun was shining just so on the water, and I turned the car around and parked by the bay.  Just to make a few photos out the passenger window for you people.

 

 

 

 

It was such a nice day, that I further attempted to take more photos out the passenger window as I drove over the Broad River.

Very little river, but lots of concrete. The dump truck driver behind me was not impressed with my driving skills.

 

 

 

 

Pictures of yarns should come later.

Jean McIntosh Hall

November 12, 2012

Our friend and Sugar’s cud’n Jean passed away unexpectedly yesterday morning in her sleep.

I’m so glad that Jean made her first Lawton family reunion this past June with Sugar and me.

We love you, Jean.

Widowmaker, Part 2

November 11, 2012

I wrote about a widowmaker about 3 years ago.  A widowmaker is a branch or some type of debris that is lodged in a tree, and can fall and hit a person, and potentially kill them.

There’s been a lot of storm activity lately.  If you were in the path of the hurricane Sandy, you know what I’m talking about.  And even if you weren’t in her path, there were a lot of high winds and the resulting debris falling out of trees.

The RV is parked in a wooded area.  Some of the trees are nut-bearing, and when those nuts hit the top of the RV, it sounds like a muffled gun shot, right over your head.  I don’t recall hearing these sounds before, so I’m guessing the trees are maturing and giving off substantial-enough nuts to make such a loud sound.  I know for a fact that my hearing is not improving, and both Jackie the One-Eyed Cat and I jump at especially loud thumps.

Yesterday I was out and about the trees, and I saw a widow maker very close by the RV.  Of course, I had to take a photo to demonstate how dangerous this could be.  Suppose you were in the woods taking shelter under a tree, and perhaps had fallen asleep, and this happened…

Ouch.

 

This photo is deceiving.  The tree is quite large, and the widow maker is actually as big around as my forearm.  It (the widow maker, not my forearm) is in the ground so solidly that I could not pull it out.

So if you take shelter under a pine tree, look up first and plan your next move.

To Catch A Dog, Part 4

November 11, 2012

Today was errand day, and Sugar wanted to swing by to feed the two stray dogs on his route. I’ve written about them, and their mother, and their grandmother, several times, most recently here.

When we turned the corner, they were nowhere to be seen.  I was driving and I pulled off the side of the road, as the usual drill, and Sugar got out on the passenger slide to slide open the back door to get to the food to dump out.  He saw a vehicle coming slowly in our direction, and was not sure if he should dump and run, or dawdle until the car went by.  I suggested he act like he was peeing in the woods.  He didn’t seem to think that this was a good suggestion, so I handed him a glass with a little bit of liquid in it, and suggested he throw out the contents, and busy himself with putting ice from the cooler into the glass.  That seemed to be a better suggestion.

The car turned into a driveway further down the road, and now Sugar was worried that they had spotted him and knew that he was their mailman traveling incognito.  He dumped the food out anyway, jumped back in, and we started up, and when we got just past the wooded part on the right, we see…

The dogs lying in wait.

They jumped up and headed over to the food, I turned the van around, and dug out the camera, and managed to snap a few shots of them before they melted into the woods.

I’m headed back to the stop sign after turning around. The dogs have found the food in the usual spot by the wooded area.

We’re a bit closer, and I’m attempting to use the zoom feature on the camera.

There’s an opening in the woods behind the brown dog, and a path where they come and go. We wonder if there’s a shelter for them in the woods, like an abandoned building.

And that’s all we’ve got. They were getting nervous, and keeping their heads down and tucking their tails. Sugar was getting nervous, too. He was afraid that they would go down the path into the woods and not back for the food, what with all the picture-taking..

We thought that the brown and black one was a girl.  Today’s photo confirms that he is not.

It’s a boy!  Or rather now, two boys.  We are sure that they will be mating with females soon, and we know that litters will be on the way, but at least they won’t be mating with each other.

Cringeworthy blog material, but that’s the way it is with animals.

In Which There is Knitting and Unknitting

November 8, 2012

I’ve been working on a knitted cap design.  No, I’m not misspelling “cat”.  Really, I’m knitting caps.

My design consists of a doubleknit brim, and alternating bands of purl and knit, with a finishing crown of 7 sections of decrease which makes a decorative swirl on top.  That knitted decrease swirly thing – that’s courtesy of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s brilliance.  Google her.

I knitted the first cap, or at least I started knitting it, and halfway through, I noticed a misstep, a hiccup, a mistake, on my part.  It was a small, knitterly mistake in which I must have become distracted (oh look!  Shiny thing!), and I slipped a stitch without knitting it.  I have never, ever, done that before, which is a clear indication of my advancing age.  (Look!  Over there!)

I tried to ignore the mistake.  Really, I did, but I have the ability to spot a misspelled word without reading for comprehension, and that singular ability translates into a similar ability to glare at a knitting mistake.  I couldn’t stop looking at it.  I’d twirl the half-finished cap around, daring myself to not find the mistake, and I’d find it every time.  Crap.  I was going to have to unknit the sucker, and reknit.

So I tinked the fabric, which is the opposite of knit, and started again.  I got to within seven rows of finishing the crown, thus finishing the cap, and I encountered a knitter’s nightmare.

I ran out of yarn, and the nearest store with the matching yarn is 35 miles away.  Heavy sigh.  Do I unknit and reknit the sucker ONE MORE TIME, cheating a little by shortening the brim, which will gain me extra yarn, enough yarn to finish the cap with one skein?

I do not.  I instead drive the 35 miles, hoping that they have the matching dye lot.  And they do.  So I bought an additional 2 skeins.

With one skein I finish the cap in question.

BabyGirl loans her head for a photo opportunity.

With the second skein, I knit another cap, shortening the brim a bit to gain enough yarn to make the project a one skein cap.

 

Aerial view showing the decreases, the only time I use math in real life.

And just to show you how closely I live life to the edge, here’s all the yarn I had left from the one-skein cap…

Less than 12 inches.

 

And that, my friends, is living life on the edge.

 

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

November 4, 2012

The BabyBoy and I have been sharing my car.  Right now it’s working out pretty well, seeing as how I don’t have a job to go to and he doesn’t have a car.   We manage to coordinate, and since he lives right next door, for the most part, it’s okay.

Yesterday I needed to use the car to run some errands and gather some supplies for craft-making, so I dropped him off at the grooming shop to meet his appointments, and I headed out.

When I finished, I picked him up so he could take me home so he could head back to the shelter to groom a dog there.

We headed west.  No issues.

A big brown dog shot across the highway from left to right in our path, and her right side made a solid connection with the right front end of the car.  The momentum of the hit carried her into the ditch.

BabyBoy pulled off on the side of the road.  I grabbed my jacket and ran back to her, thinking that we might need to use it as a sling to carry her, and BabyBoy backed the car back to where she lay in the ditch.

She was already gone.  We loaded her into the back of Old Yeller, and my first thought was to get her to the shelter, so they could perhaps identify her and contact the owner.  I used the jacket to cover her upper body, for she was a big dog and the jacket wouldn’t cover all of her.

I called the shelter, told them who I was, what happened, and that we were on the way with the dog’s body.  When we got to the shelter I backed the car to the main gate, and BabyBoy went inside to get someone while I stayed with the dog.

He came back with a young man, perhaps about 22 years old, who was going to help carry the dog to the back of the shelter.  I told him that she was deceased, that she had no capillary refill and no blink response.

He pulled the jacket off her head, and said, “Oh my God.  That’s MY dog.  That’s Juno.”

And it was.

October Is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

November 2, 2012

Here’s a link.

Well, hey, you’re thinking, well, hey, ruthrawls.  It’s NOVEMBER.

I never said I was on top of things.

So why bring this up now, since it’s, ummm, November and everything?  Because it’s easier to talk to total strangers than it is to someone close to you.

And hello there, total strangers, and welcome to the blog.  For you not-so-total-strangers, let’s talk about health care.

I’d really rather not talk about health care, or my lack of it.  I’ve been gainfully employed since 1978, and even if you can’t do the math, that’s a heckuva long time ago.  It seems that now I’m unemployed, and have been so for two months and three days – let’s call it nine weeks.

The last time I had a health exam was five years ago.  After all the exams and the diagnostics, I spent $800.00.  After I went back to college in 2008, that’s $800 that I don’t have.  Things are pretty spartan here right now, and y’all are thinking, Hmmm, I really hate my job, but at least I have a job.  That’s right, ruthrawls doesn’t.

Unless you count blogging, and the pay is not that great, unless you think nonexistent is great.

So.  Last week I found a lump or two or three, pertaining to the topic of this blog post, and I suddenly realized that I could probably afford health care, because there are programs to help people like me.  I called the health care clinic where I went in 2007, and explained the situation, and made an appointment, just as easily as typing this sentence.

There’s no history of breast cancer in my family, but still.  I don’t seem to be following the family pattern.

So this past Tuesday, I started off my day with a visit at 8:30 AM.  I filled out copious amounts of paperwork, and presented unemployment records from the state office that I was truly unemployed, and signed on all kinds of dotted lines.  My vitals were good, and the nurse (a Spanish man named Gilbert that I could barely understand, especially when he asked “Do you have your uterus?”  That was a knee slapper.) thought that I would qualify for a program called the Best Chance Network.

The clinic runs on a sliding scale, and I had already presented $30.00.  The clinic had to make a few phone calls to confirm that I qualified, and that I would be assigned a number, my BCN number.  Once the number was assigned, I received an exam or two, and the good doctor decided that I needed to travel on to another clinic for a mammogram, and ultrasound, and a consultation with a surgeon, if need be.

Are y’all seeing dollar signs?  I didn’t because my $30.00 was refunded to me, and all of the services I mentioned were included in the BCN.  The criteria for being included in the BCN was an age group (I’m in), a salary range (I’m in), and no insurance (I’m in!).

I had the mammogram which involved a large plastic vise-like machine.  The images are out of sight on a computer monitor display at the technician’s station.  When I asked if I could look at the images, she said I could, which said to me that if I were in danger, she wouldn’t let me see.  I asked her what a cancerous image would look like, and she said, “Like a spider web”.  Like tentacles reaching out from the spot.

The radiologist wanted me to have an ultrasound, which I did, then on to talk to the surgeon about options, which I did.

It’s all good news.

Except I still don’t have a job.  So I’ve opened an etsy shop online, which you can go look at if you can find it.  I’ll give you the link later, but it has something to do with Catcatcher Corner.  There’s not very much in the shop, but I’m knitting like crazy.  And y’all can’t have the baby afghan.  SharonElaine’s already claimed it.

Now I’m off to take photos, of etsy stuff for the shop.

And you?  Go celebrate National Breast Cancer Awareness.

(Look at that.  I don’t have any tags or categories for breast cancer awareness.  What kind of slacker blogger am I?  Oh, I know.  The kind that doesn’t have to worry about writing about national breast cancer awareness.)