Saturday, October 20, 2007

Who Are You and How Did You Get Here?

Okay, so this post is a kind of rip off from a blog that I read fairly regularly. She had a post about how people were finding her blogsite, and it just made me laugh. I also have a program attached to our own little blog that tracks who visits, what they might be reading, and most interesting to me - how they got here. Some people have found us through groups or Ravelry or are already our friends and family. It's the other people that stumble across us that I'm talking about now. Through this tracking website you can find out exactly what people searched to get to us. We get our fair share of "knitting disasters" which seems fairly obvious, what with our title and all. Google also listed us on a search for "knitting engineer." Why, no I'm not, but thanks for thinking such nice things about us! Some of the ones that make some sort of sense based on our posts are "santa atv snowglobe," "eating yarn," "towing flat bed," and "bad neighbor snow." All things we have referenced in some way if not specifically in that order of words. Some of the ones that really make me wonder are "goldfish costume pattern" and "batman zap pow zing." Kate, you may be interested to know that someone in Poland searched for "franken chickens." Does that mean they really exist? Are they common over there? Now, my favorites. The runner up has to be "baseboard heat groan." What an interesting way to put words together. My number one favorite is "stinky hedge bush." First, we have written about hedges and/or bushes. But stinky bushes? These poor people! First the problem of some sort of stinky bush - it must be pretty bad to do a Google search about it. Second, these poor bush afflicted people end up with us. I tend to be a people pleaser and I feel as though I should help them somehow. What kind of bush is it, exactly? Why is it stinky? Is it naturally stinky or has it been made stinky through some strange occurance? Maybe you should just rip it out? I don't know if a bush can be fixed once it gets stinky.

So, you can't hide from us anymore. We may not know who you are, but we know where you are (relatively speaking, that is). I can't always figure out why you're here, so if you stop by, say hi! We're friendly even if we aren't engineers, and we promise to try to help you!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Pie... it's a genetic predisposition

Spent the afternoon in the old hometown today, drinking coffee and wandering from bookstore to bookstore. I did not find another pie cookbook, but I did have dinner with my parents. After-dinner ramblings usually take an interesting turn at my folk's place (embarrassing family stories and all that). This time, inspired by my upcoming trip to England, Dad pulled out my grandfather's genealogy notebooks and... it is highly probably that I am a direct descendant of the "Sargent of the Pastry" to Queen Elizabeth I. That doesn't mean he could make pie himself, but it does mean that one year, in the traditional stack of gifts to the Queen for the New Year, was a gilded quince pie from my family. My fascination for Elizabeth I is equal to my fascination with pie, so this was fantastic news, and I had to blog about it.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Our Halloween Party's 10th Anniversary

It's true. It's been ten years since "the first" Halloween Party in my apartment in the North End. Alex came as Frankenstein and was so in character I didn't recognize him when I answered the door. The Better Half was there too (before I knew he was really the better half), and there were eyeballs (apples with raisin centers) in the punch. My brother dressed as the tooth fairy, and everyone said his wig made him look like his sisters. The party itself was simple, but the costumes were amazing. I loved giving my friends a chance to display their creativity. I'm sorry I don't have pictures of that year - the goldfish costume alone was stunning.

The next year, Alex and Bobbi (in their tiny apartment downstairs from Steve's not-quite-as-tiny apartment) fed us all a spaghetti supper on Halloween and we watched them do multiple costume changes as they decided what to wear later in the evening. I had no idea you could transition from macabre Victorian gentleman to revolutionary politician so quickly. It was my first introduction to Bobbi's fondness for fangs in her Halloween costumes. Somehow, she always manages to work them in.

And it grew. When Bobbi bought her little house, we took advantage of the perfect Halloween Party sized yard. I remember carving dozens of pumpkins... and giant pumpkins that took three of us to roll onto a truck, big enough for me to crawl into when hollowed out. I remember mad scientist labs, cobwebs, candlelight...

Looking through the pictures, I am amazed at what we pulled off. A pirate ship. An honest to goodness sunken pirate ship complete with skeletal captain at the wheel. In the back yard. A mausoleum... torches, mummy, fantastically creepy cemetery. A smoke breathing dragon that we later donated to the local Haunted Forest (a non-profit organization). He was my chicken-wire and PVC-pipe-framed baby, and I'm still sad we had to give him up. The witch Alex's grandfather built that always greeted guests and trick-or-treaters from the front porch (the fingernails that curled 'round the rocking chair arms were my favorite skin-crawling detail).

There was frantic last minute prep. There was crankiness and stage fright. But really, it was all worth it to see the reaction of the guests and trick-or-treaters when they came through the gate into that tiny and Halloween-magicked backyard.

I've posted pictures of our projects, but there's just not room to post our friend's costumes. A shark eating a diver, the most amazing bride of Frankenstein ever, an airplane, a giant sunflower, Team Zissou from Life Aquatic, corporate pirates... the list is endless and impressive.

Alex and Bobbi, our source of Halloween inspiration and collaboration are in London for the next year. London - rich in creepy history. Halloween all the time if you wish it so. I read about a pre-anaesthesia operating theatre that's been turned into a museum, and A & B have already been on a Jack the Ripper pub crawl - enough combination of kitsch and creep to be quite fun.

We've been wondering if we should even DO a Halloween Party this year. But it's year TEN. And my best friend from high school (he's also our neighbor) can't host it (believe me, I did my best, and he bought it... and then he came to his senses). So it's on, despite the fact that it feels weird without our partners in all things Halloween. Really, we can't NOT do it, now can we?! And once you cave, Halloween Party accoutrements seem to materialize before your eyes... Really, who couldn't do with a nice pair of spider web drinking glasses, or an extra skull?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A Nice Few Days

As a reward for being a good girl and not burning the bank to the ground, I was given permission to take the few days off that I had planned since February. This is my favorite time of year, and I always take a few vacation days right around Columbus day. I really needed the time off, and I can't tell you how wonderful it was. I spent most of my time channeling my inner June Cleaver, cooking, knitting, organizing, sewing, and generally pulling my self back together.

We didn't really go anywhere special, since M only took Friday off to hang out with me, but we did go to the annual Dover Apple Harvest Festival. I kept asking him all morning if he was sure he wanted to go, but he assured me that it was fine. He was encouraged by the prospect of visiting Bald Face Books on our walk home. He was pretty good until we crossed over Central Ave and he got a look at just how many people where there. Crowds, screaming children and crafts. Not exactly his cup of tea. I lured him further in with promises of food down on the other end in Henry Law Park. Much bad for you fair food was consumed which was really the reason I wanted to go in the first place. Fried dough is a powerful motivator.

I had the chance to actually cook this week, and made all sorts of comfort food, including beef stew, chili, meatloaf (which I haven't made in probably eight years, but turned out amazingly well - I credit the use of garlic bread from the night before instead of dried breadcrumbs for keeping it relatively moist) and chicken parmigiana.

After ignoring it for six years or so, I dragged out the sewing machine, having decided that the kitchen needed curtains. The kitchen windows have mini-blinds, but I hate that closed off feeling they give. I didn't want to give up the privacy they offered, so I ended up leaving them and making cafe curtains for the bottom half. This picture is crap because of the lighting, but you get the idea.

Another reason I needed to keep the curtains short is the shelves.

Someone decided that two of the three windows needed these funny little shelves. Now that I am used to them and am no longer smacking my head on the many times a day, I love these shelves.

The curtains took far longer than I thought they would, partly because I've lost the sewing machine manual and after so many years it took a while to get back to my comfort level with the machine. Threading the bobbin was an adventure all by itself. I was also distracted by a knock at the door from the FedEx guy, who had a package for us. I hadn't ordered anything, so what could it be?


More wonderful books from a blogless friend! (Thank you generous blogless friend!) I was just looking at both of those books online the other day! One book is KnitKnit which includes some pretty basic knit items taken to amazing lengths, as well as some things that I'm not sure how they happened. Who starts their day thinking "hmmmm...I think I'll knit a fourteen foot tall fiberglass teddy bear." Well, someone did, and it's amazing to see how people have stretched the boundaries of knitting. The other is Knitting New Scarves, which has many, many interesting and complex scarf patterns. You think knitting scarves is boring? All in one direction? Think again and check out this book. I just happened to pass my LYS on our way home from the apple festival, and picked up some Rowan Revue yarn and I'm going to figure out what to knit with it this afternoon.

Tuesday I will have to go back to work, and new position or no...I'm not really looking forward to it. I will at least go back rested and refreshed.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

End of summer summary

Things have finally slowed down to a more reasonable pace. This post will be higher on photos than usual.

Alex and Bobbi are married (Bobbi's bouquet at left) and in London... with our cat I might add. Okay, she's not truly ours, but she is on the list of my three most favorite cats ever. The ultimate Halloween kitty, living the life of a world traveler. We've bought our tickets, and on Boxing Day, we're headed to London to mooch off our dear friends for two weeks. I'm sure we'll drag each other all over creation, but I'm looking forward to some good old fashioned family style meals together again too.

On Heather's recommendation (her salve for my work-wounded spirit), I went to the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival. We saw a fantastic display of working sheep dogs - truly amazing animals, and of course loads and loads of fiber. Everything a fiber nut could possibly want was there... including the animals the goods came from!

Our kick-off to the autumn season was my brother's wedding. We chased that with the Scottish Highland Games in New Hampshire (which seemed appropriate since my brother and his best man were kilted). Last weekend, we stayed with my folks at camp in the Northeast Kingdom. Went on a short hike to ogle foliage and spent the rest of the time eating and puttering around doing odd jobs out there. While moving wood, we found a monarch chrysalis on the woodpile. It caught my eye because it stood out against the bark - beautiful jade green with metallic gold spots.

The latest addiction is patchwork bags. There's a lovely new quilting store the next town over, and I paid it a visit. The Better Half has no idea why one would express their appreciation for fabric colors and patterns with the word "yum", so he left me to my own devices just long enough for me to pig out. The weather is cooling down, and my habits turn indoors, so I hope to crank out a few bags and knit some franken-chickens this winter.

Today, we breakfasted at our favorite coffee hole, and hit the last weekend of the farmer's market. It was nice to wander the stalls this morning, before the crowds descended. We met a potter with a sense of humor that shows in his work, and his wares will make good Christmas presents. Not to be left out, we bought ourselves a ninja robot mug. I picked up a fennel bulb and leeks, and i'll grill those tomorrow to make a slaw to go with our pale ale bratwurst. If it stops raining, we'll stop at the orchard to get the makings for apple crisp. Heart stopping sausage and a dessert packed full of butter - there is no better fall meal!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Please Don't Congratulate Me

Anyone interested in why I haven’t been emailing or blogging much lately? I have no excuse other than complete mental and physical exhaustion because of this:

To: All Bank Employees
From: ***
Date: 10/2/2007
Re: Lafayette Branch Manager

I am pleased to announce that Heather L has been promoted to the position of Branch Manager at our Lafayette Rd. branch. She began her career with *** in 2004 as the Assistant Branch Manager of the Lafayette Rd. branch.

Heather began her banking career in 1991 at Portsmouth Savings Bank. She has held various positions over the years from teller to assistant manager while increasing her knowledge of the financial field.

She brings to her new position excellent customer service skills, an understanding of the existing customer base, and desire to learn and grow with the organization.

Please join me in congratulating Heather in her new role and wishing her much success!

What a load of sh*t. Desire to learn and grow, my fat *ss. I’m really not happy about this.

Our last manager left on August 10th, and I’ve been manning the ship alone ever since. Originally I applied for the job, but then withdrew my application because I felt really manipulated and that just made me more stubborn about the entire situation.

I’ve been in banking now for about sixteen years, and I can honestly say that this is not where I ever thought I would be. I took my first bank job as a teller because it was a step up from working at the mall. As time went on different opportunities came up I moved around and did different things but always stayed in banking. At that point in my life, it didn't seem that bad. Then I went and got divorced. This meant I needed more money, fast. I took my first banking position in management, and I’ve regretted it ever since. You know when something just doesn’t feel right? This didn’t feel right. Of course, I was in a situation where I couldn’t possibly win and there were even days when there were tellers physically attacking each other in the lobby. I had no support, no back up, no chance. After M and I got engaged, we decided it was time to get out of Massachusetts and see what was going on back home on the Seacoast. So, off to another management job in banking. Still not feeling right but a job none the less which was really the important part at the time. This wasn't as bad, since there was an experienced manager already there, but still it was not quite what I wanted. Until of course, she quit. And I don’t blame her, she needed to quit.

So, this brings me back to this August. As the only person who could do any type of customer service or supervision at all, I was pretty much here all day every day 8:15 to 5:15, usually with about fifteen minutes for lunch. I couldn’t leave the building. Well, I could leave the building, but the farthest I could go was usually the mail box. Some weeks I would get a day off during the week when another branch manager would take pity on me and cover for the day. The last time I had a Saturday off was August 11th. There's no overtime pay since I'm salaried and this is truly the first time I have regretted that.

When I withdrew my initial application, no one seemed to care. Frankly I couldn’t have been more honest with these people about just how much I didn’t want this job, and how I was obviously not the person they were looking for. Time passed. A few weeks, in fact. There was no ad placed in the paper. No one else internally was interested in the job. No one outside the bank really even knew we were looking for help. Five weeks after our manager left I was approached by the same woman I originally interviewed with, and I was asked to reconsider. It was made fairly clear to me that the only way I was going to get any help here at all was to take over as manager and find an assistant. I thought about it for a couple of days. I finally said yes, I would reconsider, as long as they knew they were getting me exactly as I am. Nothing had changed for me in the last five weeks and I still didn't really see myself as the type they were looking for. But I was willing to give it a shot. I really and honestly thought that since they asked me, this was a done deal and we were all just going to move on. In general I think I am pretty smart and savvy about people, but sometimes my naiveté stuns me. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The very next day, they put an ad in the paper, looking for a branch manager. Many, many days went by with almost no contact from these people. One of them was overheard to say that since they had put in the ad after all, she wanted to get her moneys worth out of it. Yep, after this same person asked me to please take the job she says this. I kept getting put off. One day when I actually asked what was going on I was told that she was talking to the other idiot in charge about this “situation.” When I asked her what situation she was talking about her answer was, “well, you know, how you decided you wanted the job after all.” Like I had thrown them all into a tizzy because suddenly I wanted the job. Like they hadn’t asked me to take the job. I’m the situation? Me? But, wait. I don't really want the job. I said yes because I felt I needed to. I'm the situation? I thought I was fixing the situation. I'm the situation?!?

On a Monday I was told I would know what their decision was on Friday. Friday I was told I would know on Tuesday. Tuesday I was told I would know on Thursday. Thursday came and went with noting at all. Finally, last Friday, after SEVEN WEEKS of manipulation and time wasting, I get a three minute phone call saying they want to offer me the job. And I had to decide right then and there. The only reason I have said yes is because at this point I want to get paid for what I’ve been doing for two months. Plus, if I can just manage to hang on until February when we get our bonus, it will certainly be a better bonus. Great reasons, huh?

I just hope I’ve made the right decision.