Wednesday, March 28, 2007


It occurred to me that I haven't been posting much lately. I haven't been able to string two coherent thoughts together, let alone write something that might make sense. At least we have Kate to keep us entertained!

I've been preoccupied lately with a number of things happening at work. Some opportunities, some good things and some bad things. I've always tried to be the sort of person who works to have a life, not someone who works because it is my life. I don't want to be defined by my job, because it really isn't who I am. I work because I need to, and I have always tried to make the best of that.

I work for a bank, and I'm currently an Assistant Manager in one of our branches. I don't always like my job for various reasons but it's better than working in a coal mine, or panhandling on the streets, for example. I might still look in to panhandling, since I think it may pay better. There have been a lot of things going on company wide, and my manager and I were asked to think about making some changes. Our sister branch here in Portsmouth suddenly needs a new manager and assistant manager. Ideally, they want our manager to make a lateral move over there, and I would stay here and move up to manager. You're probably going to think I'm crazy, because most people do, but I really don't want this job.

I'm trying to sort out the pros and cons of this position. So, here they are:

Reasons why I would do this-

  • It would be best for the bank.
  • It would look good on a resume.
  • It would eliminate the possibility that someone new would come in as my boss and be worse than the current boss.
  • People expect me to.
  • I like telling people what to do.
  • I'm sorry, I can't come up with any more pros. I won't even list "getting a raise", because it would be negligible at best. Insulting at worst.

Reasons why I don't want to do this-

  • I hate customer service. Hate it. No, really, I hate it. I already don't love what I do now, and this would be all of my current job and then some.
  • I would be directly responsible to a certain employee of the bank. I would rather claw my eyes out with knitting needles than have to answer to this misogynistic ass.
  • I would have to go out on Business Calls, which means that I would have to go out and walk up to total strangers and convince them to come bank with us. There would be quotas.
  • I would have to get involved with certain community organizations. I don't have anything against these organizations, but I already have causes and organizations that I participate in, and none of these are acceptable to the bank. I would potentially have to drop the causes that I actually believe in to make time for shmoozy-boozy Chamber Functions that every one in town knows are just an excuse for an open bar.
  • I want more from my life than climbing up the corporate ladder, and it feels like I would be taking myself further and further away from where I really want to be.
  • Once, just once in my life I want to take a job because I really want the job. Not because I think I should.

I can't decide if it would be more adult and responsible to just take the stupid job. I'm trying to convince myself that it is more adult and responsible to make a decision to stay away from a job I know I won't be happy with. What do you think?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

One more corner left

Our poor little car. You've already heard about the exhaust system that our driveway beats to heck on a daily basis. Someday I might tell you about the fight I had with the dealership in regards to our sunroof (that they broke during a rainy week). We make it haul anything from our canoe to Christmas trees. The trees are usually much bigger than the canoe, if you can believe it. I have a penchant for tall fluffy trees that won't fit in the front door - so believe it.

I am starting to worry about the disaster magnetism of our car. Back left bumper - run into by a moron in a boom truck while parked at work. Despite blue paint streaks that match the company truck (driven that day by the moron), he swears he did not do it. Weeks after this first love tap... front left wheel well - run into by the neighbor as he tried to scoot his car out of the space next to ours. He was very apologetic, but did send Papa Bear in alone to tell Mama Bear what had happened. Mama Bear was so mad, she didn't even say "What?!" or talk with her hands. I growled a lot, but thankfully it was unintelligible.

And then there's today. We're leaving the home-improvement-store-of-gross-and-greedy- warehouse-proportions. We watch a truck ("Oh geez! He's not gonna make it! Aagh! Our car!") pull away from a space he's unsuccesfully trying to back into. He misses our car by inches. We have enough time to sigh in relief before he's tries again, cutting it even wider ("Hey! Stop!"), pushing his back bumper into our right headlight. Crunch. Our little Honda bounces.

The driver gets out of the truck... and his wife hands him his cane. Not a good sign. From his speech and movement, it's obvious he is recovering from a stroke. Unable to feel anything but resentment that he's returned to driving, I sit in the car while Steve sorts out the details. The man's wife takes off like a shot, headed for another store (cheap-crap-designed-to- bring-the-US-economy-to-it's-knees). Not reassuring behavior. A lemon shortbread cookie of the Girl Scout variety soothes my temper a bit. Steve is wonderful and seems to ease the old man's anxieties just by being polite and calm. As he turns to leave, the man notices the car next to us, and points. A woman is getting out, and her door swings... it almost hits... As if acknowledging that that side has already been tagged twice, it clears. "I thought for sure they were gonna get you too" he says.

We have one more corner left, and wait for that last crunch to correct our "ding shui".

Monday, March 19, 2007

Please don't be my neighbor!

I live in a college neighborhood. We share a parking lot with the building next door. There are probably nine or ten cars in that lot. Our lease says that snow removal is provided, but frequency is not specified, and the plow service isn’t the most customer friendly game in town. When it snows, maybe half of the tenants bother to shovel. It snowed again this weekend. I like snow, I do. But shoveling for three days straight can take all the fun out of a snow storm.

My stupid (I’m sorry, she IS. Quite. Stupid.) neighbor came over while we were shoveling this weekend and sniveled about her bushes. We were putting snow on them see, and they DIE off every year. And she’s talked to our landlord, and asked him to talk to the plow guy, and WHAT can she do to get us to stop ruining her bushes. This is the same hedge that she hacked to hell last year, and called it pruning. I’ve seen pruning. That was not it. This is also the same woman who had a bonfire in her backyard last year. Her yard is about 15’x15’, and surrounded by trees and bushes. It is also closely bordered by other houses (including hers). A bonfire. See what I mean about stupid?

She went on to tell us that other people dumped snow there too, AND some college student parked her into her driveway causing her to miss an appointment the other day, AND she’s tried fences but the students just tear them down. There was a pause for breath here, and I must have had a look of some sort on my face because she whined “and I don’t WANT to move, I LIKE downtown”. It wasn’t a childish whine either – it was the grownup version that sets your teeth on edge. I wanted to charge her an hourly rate for therapy, but instead just said “Hmm” and stared at her with my best “go away please” eyes, adding an “I can’t control the other tenants” grimace.

We apologized. We offered to shovel the snow off of the bushes. She punctuated our conversation with “I’m just trying to work this out” and “it’s just… you know…”. And the whole conversation would start. All over again. I got the impression that she’d come over for a confrontation and was disappointed that we were so accommodating and apologetic.

It’s not just bad yard habits, whining, and her rude approach to problem solving that gets on my nerves. Her son fired his b.b. gun through the butchered hedge last year, almost hitting me. She heard us yell “hey, stop shooting!” and made him come over to apologize. We talked with him about safety- the possibility that he could hit people or their cars, and the fact that we're not crazy about guns. She gave us a sucking-lemons face over that one - probably because it's a conversation she's never had w/ her kid. "I just let him shoot at pigeons, he understands that." she said. Okay, I'm not a FAN of pigeons, but have you heard of paper targets lady?! I’m sure their bonfire blackened lawn hides the bodies of multitudes of dead city birds. Eww. We did thank the kid for coming over to apologize, and acknowledged that it was a hard thing to do. He was squirmy and uncomfortable, and took off almost before we finished speaking. She made the lemon face again as he ran up the driveway and around the corner. We stared back. Somehow, she’d made us feel like we were in the wrong. There is nothing to say in situations like that. You just say Thank You even though you don’t mean it, and pray not to have to interact again.

I was remembering this last conversation as she finally walked away and left us to our work. If she was watching out her window again, she saw my mouth moving as I removed remaining snow to appropriate areas. Hopefully she thought I was singing shoveling songs to myself.

Friday, March 16, 2007

A Logo

GKD has a logo!? Heather spring cleaned the site, and we found this lovely doodle just lying around so...

Really, I hounded the Better Half to draw "something" for us. Anyone who could come up with a skull and cross bones for the cover of my recipe collection, make our family wedding photograph sing the "Menah menah" song, and create a flash movie of my dad and his squirt gun could come up with a logo for a blog called "Gourmet Knitting Disaster". Each completed project encourages new ideas (on my part). Maybe some day he'll actually have time for his projects instead of mine.

If you read the comments posted to this blog, you will recognize Alex's name - the reason we met, the blog pusher himself, the faithful reader we verbally poke at with pointy sticks. To honor Alex as our number one (and sometimes only) fan, we gave him the first piece of what he called "blogophenalia" for his birthday. An apron avec GKD logo was appropriate not because Alex splashes when he eats, but because he's a good cook. I often invite myself to his house for barbecue, turkey dinner, brunch... He makes great chocolate chess and pumpkin pies.

Thank you Steve. Thank you Alex.

Monday, March 12, 2007

No Self Control

It really shouldn't surprise me that I can't stick to a diet or to a schedule. I have absolutely no self control.

Saturday, we went to Concord, where there is a Borders Books that M wanted to go to. No road trip is complete without a quick search by me for any local yarn stores. Sometimes they are worth the trip, other times not. The one I found this weekend was one of the good ones. The Elegant Ewe was really well stocked. I wasn't wild about the hovering staff, but I finally convinced them that I knew what I wanted, I didn't need any help, and that I could spend plenty of money even without their suggestions. I proved that by spending quite a bit more than my ridiculously low pre-set limit. Actually I ended up spending our grocery money for the week, but don't tell M. (Honey, if you're reading this, it's gonna be cereal for dinner for the next few days...) I bought three of these, three of these, and two of these. I couldn't stop myself. When we got home, I sat on the couch with all eight skeins on my lap. One of them is so soft that I kept putting it up to my cheek to feel it's deliciousness. M jokingly suggested that I toss them up in the air and then roll around in them. I considered it, but even I have to draw the crazy line somewhere.

M wanted to know why I needed more yarn when I obviously have enough yarn to make seventeen pairs of socks, three sweaters, countless scarves and probably a couple of hats. I figure I'm stocking up for the time when money is really tight and I won't be able to buy any more. Or if I should ever break both my legs and be unable to get to my LYS. I really have no excuse. I like yarn. I just can't help myself. And while we're on the subject, oh husband of mine...why did you need more books? You already have some books. So, you just sit over there and look at your books and mind your own business. I'm going to go roll around in some really soft yarn.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Classic Disaster in Connecticut

Whenever I haven't had a disaster in a while, I start to worry. The universe tends to even things out, so I feel like there must be something big in store for me. Little things don't really count, like how my coat sleeve was apparently stuck under the spout of the coffee dispenser this morning and made me pour coffee into my sleeve. That's just a little joke. No, what I'm worried about is the Next Big Thing. I am way overdue. I thought I might try to remind whoever is in charge of this sort of thing of a few of the things that have happened in the past. Maybe they'll feel sorry for me and think twice before sending something new.

Since my car has been featuring prominently in my life these days, I thought I'd remind them about what happened last April, on an ill-advised trip to Connecticut.

M had an interview down in Connecticut for a teaching position, so I thought it would be "fun" to go with him. Get out of town for a quick overnight trip, see a little of an area we might end up moving to, and generally keep him company. His car is sort of like driving a tin can, so we decided to take mine. Hah! Be warned, this is a long story.

The drive started out fine, until we hit the Connecticut border. We stopped for gas and the car started to overheat for no apparent reason. It was unseasonably warm and the air conditioning wasn't working, so that was probably part of the problem. I found out later that the place I had taken the car two weeks earlier to recharge the cooling system had somehow clipped a wire that was essential for the air conditioning to work. After spending a little time in a well placed shopping plaza with an AC Moore and a Barnes and Noble, we hit the road again and hoped for the best.

We managed to navigate the Connecticut Turnpike without any more incidents, and got to the hotel. I can't remember the name of the town we were in, but I remember someone telling me that the singer 50 Cent had recently moved to this enclave of preppiedom, and people were freaking out. Our room was of course "not ready", despite the fact that it was more than an hour past the stated check in time. We went out for a bite to eat and when we went back an hour later, guess what? Still not ready. Half an hour later, we got into a room and collapsed. We were only a few minutes away from the Mohegan Sun Casino, so having never been to a real casino, we thought we'd go check it out. Also, I had heard that Lisa Loeb was playing a free concert there and I wanted to see her. I could see that they had done everything they could to make it beautiful and inviting, but no waterfall or light show could cover up the despair and sadness that filled the place as people stared with glassy eyes at their slot machines. I can't even begin to describe what it was like. We had a hugely overpriced and slightly unpleasant dinner in a supposedly gourmet restaurant with barely average food and atrocious service. We wandered back to the middle of the place to see if we could catch a glimpse of Lisa, which we were finally able to do. That was really the only good thing about the night. We found our way out and went back to our hotel for the night.

The next morning, we packed up and M got dressed in his new sport coat as we prepared to head over for the interview. We discovered that we had left his dress shoes at home. Now, you would think that finding a pair of shoes in the great state of Connecticut might not be a major production. The only mall we could find was set to be demolished later that week, and even though it was still technically open, there were only two stores in it. One was a shoe store. They didn't have any shoes. After driving around with no idea where we were for about an hour, we finally stumbled upon a Wal-Mart. Against my better judgement, the boy needed shoes, so we sucked it up and bought some damned shoes.

Hot, sweaty, crabby and disheveled, we finally found the college. Turns out the address they gave us doesn't actually exist anymore, since they have rerouted and renamed the street that the school is on. We did our best to spiff M up a bit, and he headed off while I parked the car in the shade and took a nap. He was gone for a long time. I told myself that this was a good sign, that they had a lot to talk about. Nope. They were merely keeping him waiting around while they tried to find the person who was supposed to interview him. It didn't go well.

We struck out for home. If you have ever been on the Connecticut Turnpike through Hartford, then I don't have to explain what that was like. If not, all I can tell you is that if you are driving any slower that 85 mph, you're gonna get creamed. We pulled off the highway to a rest area to get out and stretch and generally pull ourselves back together. I figured it was M's turn to drive for a while, since I was still shaking from the last half dozen miles. He put the car in reverse and hit the gas. The next thing we know, there is a horrible screech and a bang, and the car lurches to a stop. After getting out and lying on the ground under my car I had no choice but to admit that this car wasn't going anywhere. The axle was not attached to the car anymore, and was crammed up into the wheel well, scraping the hell out of the wheel. Still shaking, and now crying, having realized what could have happened if it had fallen off while we were driving, I did what any girl would do, and I called my Dad. M called AAA for help. Three hours later, a tow truck showed up. What we really needed was a flat bed because THE AXLE SHE IS BROKEN AND THE WHEELS THEY NO GO!!! No one seemed to understand this except the tow guy who said "I can't help you, you need a flat bed." We called AAA again. They have no record of us ever having called, and we start all over, stressing the importance of the need for a flat bed and trying to explain where we were. When we pulled off the road, it was around five-thirty. By the time the flat bed shows up, it was close to midnight. The guy driving the truck had never used a flat bed before, and was completely clueless. It took him forty-five minutes to get the car on the truck, in the process dragging the car sideways, effectively separating the rest of the wheel from the car. We got in the truck and drove to a Citgo station that was in the middle of nowhere and was very, very closed. Our helpful driver left us there by a dumpster in the dark, at one-fifteen in the morning, with no idea where we were or what we were going to do. He did give us a phone number for a cab. We called, and one of the nicest, kindest people I have ever met came to get us. He drove us to the next town over where we finally found a Holiday Inn Express that would take us in. The first couple of places we passed were a truck stop and something else that defies description. Our cab driver refused to stop at either one, saying they just weren't safe. The next two were full. Apparently there was a girls basketball championship going on.

The next day, it became clear that the mechanics at this Citgo station were just as inept as their tow guy, and I started to have my doubts that they could fix this. I called my Dad again, and since I was obviously near the breaking point, he called them for me and we all decided that the best thing to do was to get the car away from them. We called AAA again and went through the whole tow truck vs. flat bed thing again to get it to the local Midas. At least this time we were within walking distance of a couple of restaurants and a TJ Maxx. What started out as an overnight trip ended up being three nights, which by the way, wasn't cheap. So, between the cost of the room, extra meals, extra clean clothes purchased at TJ Maxx, and a few items I didn't need that simply made me feel better, the car repairs and towing charges, it cost us close to $1,500.00 to go to Connecticut for a job that Mark didn't get.

The moral of this story? Never go to Connecticut.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Adding insult part II

Yesterday, perhaps one of the coldest days of the year, some blazing idiot left our front door open all day. We didn't discover this until after 7:00 pm. Oh sure, the storm door was closed. But the big wooden door that keeps all the heat in? Wiiiiide open. No one stole our stuff, but I'm sure our mail carrier thinks we're crazy. That blazing idiot was me. Of course. Just another reason that Steve is the Better Half.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Adding insult to injury

Friday, Steve and I built a giant punk tikki head on our front lawn. He was almost six feet tall with his mohawk. Lit candles in his eye sockets were a low budget yet impressive special effect. Loving how he turned out, I ran out later to sculpt something else. My creativity was nipped in the bud when a skunk and I startled each other. We retreated, crept forward, and retreated again. Finally, I made a "no please, after YOU" motion with my hands that he seemed to understand and he hopped off to hide under the neighbor's car on the other side of the fence. Phew. I have a long history with skunks - but that's a story for another time.

Punktikki was still standing and lit at 11:30 that night. He'd been reduced to a crumbled, kicked and tackled pile of snow by Saturday morning. We'll see what college drunks think about a metal post in the middle of our next snow sculpture.

Sunday was predesignated as couch shopping day. Our twelve year old futon has finally decided that it wants to retire, and has let us know this at least twice. Understandable. Just before we left the house, our bed collapsed on Steve when he sat down to put on socks and shoes. We now must shop for a couch (maybe to sleep on) and hardware to (maybe) fix the bed. Couch shopping - also a long story for another time. Oh the horror.

During the last bit of all this errand running, the car shuddered and the muffler increased in volume - like a squadron of WWII prop planes. Not only had the back end of the muffler taken a beating from our icy driveway (thank you plow service that never shows), but now the front end of the exhaust system had come loose. The floorboards vibrated under our feet in a most alarming manner. To go any faster than 50 mph, the car struggled like molasses going uphill in January.

Home by early evening, we took the bed apart in order to put it back together. Feeling industrious, we even vacuumed under the bed while we had it moved. The vacuum cleaner made a grinding noise and started to burn. Nothing as impressive as flames, but there was black murk around the headlight, and a very nasty smoked motor smell.

I poured myself a big glass of wine, and Steve made pie plate nachos for dinner. We sat cautiously on the futon and recapped our day. Skunk? Footprints lead under the porch, to a wee cave under a pile of lumber I've asked my landlord to remove for the last four years (we've had skunks, cats, possum...). Couch? Oh the sticker shock. Bed? Fixed. Mostly. Car? Can't drop it off on Monday, Steve has a dentist appointment to get to (horrors equal to or worse than couch shopping). Vacuum? A trip to the repair shop (who told us they don't make 'em like they used to anymore).

I'm beginning to wonder if the weather is broken too. Half an hour's drive away, the temperature is 34 below zero. We were in that town on Saturday...