PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Friday, November 30, 2007

Tart Tongue

I was catching up with a colleague on the phone today, and we've had some good heart-to-hearts over the years.... she's had a rough year, since her husband has had a debilitating illness that has consumed their lives. He lost his job, she fights with Social Security, they have numerous doctor appointments & she just hopes and prays he'll get better. They love each other so much, that you know if love alone could heal, he would run a marathon tomorrow.

So I have to admit my jaw dropped when she told me about a third person we both know, who asked her point-blank if she was going to stay with her husband, since he hasn't gotten any "better".

Of course, it slammed back up so I could (very tartly) ask if she'd pointed out this person's physical disability and did her husband threaten to leave HER over it? I'm not a very kind person in the face of that kind of stupidity. Things like that make me crazy. Like, ok, you can think it? You can wonder, wow, how is she hanging in there? Does she ever want to run away to Aruba and change her name? But to question her faith and love and fidelity? Just like that? Questions like that say so much more about the person saying them.

I'm just agog. I would rip someone in half if they dared to question my commitment to James like that. IN. HALF. And then, just for good measure, I'd put them in a wood chipper. Welcome to Fargo, you idiot.
posted by PlazaJen, 1:25 PM | link |

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Booty! And Tripper! And Knits!

OK, I gotta run through this fairly zippy-like, but let me first tell a funny on myself. I got a pair of ankle boots in the mail today (finally threw away the pair that were pulling apart at the heel & driving me crazy) and I unpacked 'em and tried them on. They looked cute.... the leather is even stretchy... but the fronts, over the instep? Man! They just killed! I walked around a couple minutes, fighting with myself about whether to repack & ship them back, or to keep them & hope they broke in and felt better. As I looked down, I thought it seemed kind of strange that some of the leather was supple, and the parts where it hurt? Nice and shiny & immobile. Hm. Could it be?

Yes. Plastic inserts that weren't initially visible because they're CLEAR, and once you take them out? Really nice boots. Sheesh. It's a wonder I've made it this far in life without skewering myself on a traffic cone.

OK! Alyson, of YoYo Knits fame, had a contest before she went to Rhinebeck, and I was the lucky winner drawn who guessed correctly the number of items she would buy! I figured I would win a skein of yarn, and didn't think much more about that - so let me just say I was BLOWN AWAY by my prize pack when I got home last night!!!

Prize Loot!

Not just ANY ol' yarn, but WOLLMEISE, people. (Dramatic clutching at throat.) And two bars of chocolate, and three handmade stitchmarkers, and then the cutest damn package of fun stuffs by a company called Plain & Thimble. I am going to tell all of you to go to her website right now, and look at the yarn she has for sale, because she is destashing to help pay for Bitty's Booty Surgery, and everything she has is awesome and very nicely priced. (Fiber for you spinning folks, too!) Really, you're helping a fellow knitter/spinner out, AND her little dog, too. It's not adding to your stash if it's for a good cause. MMmmKay?!

Then, I have some more recent pictures of Tripper, because everyone loves puppies, and he is grown up enough now that he has to wear the e-collar, because he is always up for challenging the Pack Leaders (JWo and Me) and this was on Thanksgiving, when he needed to be reminded that he is NOT in charge.


Do you see the little divot on his head, between his eyes? He has challenged Suzy a few times, and those challenges have been rewarded with some toothy redirection. As in, his head is bitten as she flings him aside, much like a brontosaurus might have irritatedly flung a small biting raptor out of its way. Back in the day.

Modeling his Fetching Tag:

Last but not least - I'll be doing some felting this weekend.

Slippers for me: (candy bar for scale)
Curiously Clever (and Gargantuan) Clogs, pre-felting

and slippers for James:

JWo's house slippers, pre-felting

His are going to have to come out of the machine quickly, because they're just a smidge bigger than his feet right now. Mine? Might need to felt for a week. Holy crap. I'll post more about the projects/yarns/patterns once they're done & I can devote a whole post to 'em. With after pictures.

Anyway, there's your Thursday update! James made duck gumbo last night & it's been simmering all day - it smelled sooooo good this morning, I can't wait to get home & have a bowl or three. And then the weekend will be here soon! More knitting! But now, with chocolate! Thanks again, Alyson!
posted by PlazaJen, 2:36 PM | link |

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hand Me My Violin....

I have to say it. I am loving every gruesome second of tonight's KCTV5 Kline Controversy. (God, why didn't they make it "Kontroversy"?) I watched it last night, and have been riveted ever since. (Tonight? Has been All Phill Kline All The Time - No Weather, Even!) I know people who were in the previous DA's office, and I know they have got to be loving it.

Lest you think I've jumped on a bandwagon for the last block of the parade, I give you this post from 2005. My dislike for the man has been long-seated. And yes, all of my dislike for the man comes from his aggressive, personal agenda with Planned Parenthood & legal abortion providers. But the beauty of this expose is the fact that the man keeps an apartment above a storage unit, run by a couple of SuperPhillFans, and he never seems to LIVE there. (He has the residence so he's qualified to work in JoCo. Meanwhile, he & his wife stay nicely ensconced in Topeka.) And, from what they could parse together, it seems like he doesn't really put in a full workweek. So I can't wait to see if our suburban friends in the Land of Little Trees actually feel enough outrage to toss him on his not-working-very-much-not-adhering-to-residency-rules ass.

Oh, and Phill? I'll be the one with the fiddle, just past the flames. And lose the extra "L". It's kinda stupid.


posted by PlazaJen, 10:22 PM | link |

Icy Cold Bliss

So, this morning, I took my first sip of Diet Coke - and for the first time in months - there was no agony. No zinging pain, no deft maneuvering of my tongue to instantly re-warm the tooth in question, nothing. I'll admit, I took the drink with great trepidation - I drank like I "used to" ... and .... nothing! So sweet! Yay for root canals! (Boo for how much they cost!)
posted by PlazaJen, 5:02 PM | link |

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tha' Wath Fun....

Well, fun isn't necessarily the right word. But! I had possibly the nicest, kindest doctor in the universe perform my root canal this morning. He was so wonderful in his thoroughness, explanations, updates on what we were doing - of course, it still doesn't take away from the fact you have your mouth propped open & at one point, something was hung on my lip to keep it handy, but hey, I wasn't exactly there for spa services, either.

Possibly the best moment (look away, you who are squeamish) was when he reached my tooth pulp and said, "Ohhhh, Jennifer. This tooth pulp is really irritated. You have been dealing with this for a long time, haven't you?" (My response was a guttural "UNG-HUH!", which pretty much sums up all of the communication I could make with all the stuff in my mouth.) "Well, you're going to have some discomfort for a couple of days, but after that, it's going to be so good for you, you probably don't even know how much you've been coping with it, you've gotten so used to it."

SWEET JESUS. Thank you! The second-best moment was when I got to watch him on the overhead TV, packing the canals and filling up my tooth. Yeah, some people (my husband included) would not enjoy that, but I am Fascinated with a capital "F". I figure as long as I'm not feeling anything, why not watch the show? I'm always curious Georgina when it comes to these things, and I love when doctors (who know infinitely more than I do about what's going on) explain the process.

Anyway, I decided I felt so sorry for my inner child that I had a huge chocolate malt from Winstead's, along with a burger & fries. I haven't had fast food in a very long time, and I about got drunk off the fumes driving home. After that feast (consumed very carefully with my right-hand teeth), I went to bed. And slept the entire afternoon. I'm on an alternating schedule of Tylenol & Aleve, and should be a transformed woman by the end of the week. I will say, though, if I'm ever faced with this again, I will simply go ahead & get the root canal FIRST, because there's a risk to the crown during the procedure, and I don't think you get your second crown at 50% off. (Must check for coupons...) It was an expensive adventure, but I'm trusting his words, that life will be significantly better soon. Yay for that!

The only downside is that the permanent filling doesn't :exactly: match my crown, and they made a point about that at least 3 times, but the doc did finally say that given the location of the tooth, the only people who would actually see it and notice it, should be accepting of such anomalies, given how close they are to me. Literally. Uh, yeah. Good thing I'm not a horse, though......


posted by PlazaJen, 5:37 PM | link |

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tuckered Turkey

So, it's been a lovely, four-day weekend, and actually, you might say, "Jennifer! You're so lucky, you have tomorrow off, too!" But then I'd point out I'm getting a root canal at 9 a.m. and your face would sort of melt into "OH NO" sympathy. Frankly, I could give a rip about the procedure at this point, I've had multiple rounds since June with this tooth, and the crown covering the crack, and I've finally had to "bite the bullet" and accept the toothy truth, that only a root canal will stop the pain from cold, or serious chewing. (I've simply GOT to stop borrowing the dogs' nylabones!) What really gets my goat about the whole procedure is that all my "dental insurance" got used up on the crown, so I'm paying for this gem out-of-pocket. I could get a KitchenAid 6 mixer, have dinner at Em Chamas, get Tripper neutered, and probably still have a good chunk of change leftover to party all week with that kind of coin.

That aside, the weekend, to this point, has been pretty good - though I must say, I think I'm done with Black Friday. There really weren't any deals that I needed, and let me just run through my morning to illustrate how true this is:
Awaken at 4:15 a.m. Proceed to try to talk myself out of going altogether. This almost works, but at the last minute I rally and push myself to get dressed & go.
Arrive at Gordmans, approximately 5:05 a.m. They had a deal where you got 25% off your entire purchase, if you were one of the first 300 people in the store. I neglected to notice the fine print, which said, "Everything you can fit into this BAG", and since I was going to buy a dog bed, that blew that right out the window. So I got JWo two pairs of socks & a new rug for the kitchen in front of the sink. Yeah.

But wait! Then I go over to Linens-n-Things, where I discover the "Doorbusters" are exempt from the 20% off coupon. There go the things on my list, right out the window. With the memory still fresh of peeling 8# of potatoes, I decide I'm worth it. Yep. I bought an $8.00 vegetable peeler. With my coupon. And asked myself as I left the store why in hell I was doing this.

Because then it was on to Target, my love, how I adore the Target, and usually, on Black Friday, I'm running late & I miss most of the crowded throng and just sail right on in. However, because I am not buying much at these other stores, I'm there before it opens. So I go to get in line. Oh. Mah. God. The line wrapped around the corner and halfway the length of the store. The very thing I said I would not do. And once the doors opened, it was pandelerium. People were after cameras and tvs. I reassured myself that my coveted item (a 500GB external hard drive for $87) was probably not THE ITEM everyone was waiting for.... though by the time I steered through the crowd (and the 5 people snatching up some sort of iPod docking system), there weren't but 6-7 of the hard drives left on the shelf. Phew. My geekdom, preserved. Most of the other stuff I bought was not Christmasey. Light switch covers. Hair color. A couple of games to donate to St. Vincent's Operation Breakthrough. Baking soda. I even had coupons. The most cheerful woman in the universe checked me out & marveled at the items in my cart. What can I say, lady. My season is a little weirder than yours.

Last, but not least, I went over to Michael's, because they also had a coupon for 25% off your entire purchase, and that didn't have to fit in a bag. Too bad they don't have dog beds. Anyway, I got a bunch of baskets, for gifting our canned goodies, and various and sundry small things for my secret pal. I didn't have the strength to go to JoAnn's at that point, and I just went home & collapsed. My euphoria comes from the deal & the steal, and really, anymore, those things are going to be the day after Christmas. I did go to Bath & Body Works on Saturday, and just about got caught in a race war between a customer and a sales clerk, which let me tell you, was enough to whack me out of my daze, because holy crap! The (black) customer asked if the African-American woman (the only other visible sales associate) could help her with the return, after the (white) sales clerk had just told her she was waiting for her manager to complete the return, and the clerk replied with "It's not that I can't do it because I'm Caucasian...." and I didn't really hear the rest, because holy crap! Nobody really needed to be identifying each other by race, but the sales clerk should have let it go and just re-explained the need for the manager's involvement. The customer was turning to me, and the lady in front of me, for solidarity and shared shock, and I just kept a very surprised-I-am-not-getting-involved look on my face, because, holy crap! Merry Christmas Shopping! Let's talk about race, baby! Let's talk about you & me! Let's talk about all the lotions and the soaps that we see! I was tired, I just wanted to buy my four anti-bacterial hand soaps and various other products, use my coupons, and get home. But I did think about the exchange quite a bit, and concluded that even had the roles been reversed, responsibility still fell to the sales clerk to handle it appropriately. (And she realized what she'd done, and apologized about 70 times, and talked about how stressful the day had been, to the point I just wanted to say, "Lady, let it go. You're now making it worse.") Though it was strange to call out the other associate as being the same race as her, like somehow she might get better/necessary service. (Perhaps because this whole thing had happened on Grey's Anatomy this week, it felt more pointed!) I think, in the end, you just have to rise above and do the right thing. It's not a bad mantra, and it has usefulness in lots of situations. (So easy to say it, so difficult to do when you're stressed!)

Anyhoo, my weekend concluded with many hours spent tearing out the garden, smelling rotten tomatoes (and errantly squishing some in my hands) and slimy okra stems and decaying peppers. The worst part of it wasn't the rotten veggies, but was the blasted sticker bushes that had grown up in some of the peppers, and by the end of my work I looked like that fucker from Hellraiser, on the right half of my body. That took a good 15 minutes to pick out all the burrs, and every time I do, of course, I think of the dude who invented Velcro, and I also think of my dad. He'd have me pick the burrs out of his clothes and boots, post-hunting. (They clung to his bootlaces like crazy) I think that's where some of my Task/Project/Accomplishment/Perfection streak comes from, because those were all things you never. ever. did half-assed. Otherwise you got to do it again, and what made the second time worse, besides having to keep doing it, was knowing that you'd disappointed. I could have done more in the garden, but I was starting to tire, and I still had to scrape the paint from the windows I'd painted a week ago. Suffice it to say, my right shoulder's barking at me tonight. Tomorrow, it'll be my left jaw, and yeah, this part of getting older sucks, the elasticity of youth isn't there to help you bounce back and feel like a spring chicken - even the same day. But JWo spent the morning with the NYTimes reporter, and the article should appear in a couple of weeks or so. He's already in bed, and I'm heading there shortly. Much as I want to stay up and watch Dexter, it's a show we watch together, so I'll save it for tomorrow night - a nice distraction from any discomfort, methinks. (I should make some jell-o tomorrow. Yeah.)
Hope everyone else had a lovely holiday weekend, and if you did go out and shop, you got the deals you wanted! Now, I'll just hope that I get offered the chance to buy a KitchenAid 6 mixer from Amazon for $69 on Wednesday. THAT would make my day!


posted by PlazaJen, 8:03 PM | link |

Thursday, November 22, 2007

It Could Only Be More Perfect If Everything Were In Rubbermaid Storage Boxes With Custom Labels.

'Merican Peeps - Happy Thanksgiving.

I am feeling victorious this holiday because, right now, I am the picture of Preparation Organization. I have all the serving dishes out, all the potatoes peeled & chopped & waiting for the burner to turn on, the turkey is in the roaster, the cranberries are simmering, and we are READY! And it doesn't even "start" until 4pm. The only thing better would be if all the other rooms in the house were as organized! But it feels good. Having an extremely clean refrigerator helps a bunch, I'll admit it, I feel a little rush of joy and pride every time I open the door. (It was long, long overdue for a cleaning, scrubbing & ruthless disposal of items.)

And tomorrow morning, I'll conduct my military-esque insurgence on the stores of my choosing; I even have a notebook with a list, the times they open, and whatever deal details I need to know. Ah, yeah. I think I just heard all of you shaking your head & saying "That's crazy." No, crazy is getting up at FOUR a.m. to go to JC Penney. My list is relatively short, I don't go to Wal-Mart or Best Buy (I do not want to be involved in the pushing or running, it's not worth it), I just hit about five or six stores, and am usually back home & tucking myself back into bed by 9 or 9:30. I know some people who shop 'til early afternoon! Now THAT'S crazy. It's all in the perspective. :)

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, here's your chance to reflect on what you have, what you're grateful for, and to remember those less fortunate. It's a good idea to do that every day, of course, but these days are filled with abundance for those who are fortunate, and even in my highly organized kitchen, I recognize the path I'm on, one that in part was given to me, in part one I've worked hard for, and that path allows me to (over)feed my family and look forward to crazy-ass early-morning shopping. I'm grateful, and I also wish I could get that Adam Sandler "Turkey for me & a turkey for you" song out of my head.

What? You want me to get all maudlin and preachy? You know what to do. Donate to a food bank, be somebody's angel and buy some toys when you're out tomorrow, give back, do good things, make a little birdhouse in your soul.... ah hell. Now that's in my head. Thanks to all of you for reading, this crazy roller coaster funhouse of a blog, that wails and screams and goes clank in the night. I love writing, I love putting a chunk of me out there and it's gratifying every day when you don't boo me off the proverbial stage. Now. I gotta go stir the cranberries. Smile at the relative who makes you crazy and it'll all be over in a few hours. ;)
posted by PlazaJen, 10:42 AM | link |

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Aggressive AND Special.

I've had two conversations that have amused me in the past day - last night, while we were driving to meet Momma Linda at Em Chamas (really, they should just drop the "E" and make it "MMMM Chamas", it's that tasty. Meat! On Swords!), JWo and I were talking about the upcoming NYTimes reporter's visit, and how exciting and cool it all was:

JWo: "I mean, I'm just an average guy."
Me: "I'm not average."
JWo (still in his train of thought): "I'm just ordinary!"
Me: "I'm not ordinary. I'm SPECIAL."
JWo: "I'm - wow - I'm just ...."
Me: "I would never say I'm ordinary. I'm unique! And Special."
JWo: "And humble!"
Me: "Oh, not so much."

Now, I'm not trying to finagle an interview for myself, in fact, I'm so proud and excited for him, I'm blinded by love and excitement. I even said that a fraction of 1% of me even has room to feel envious, and who cares! Global warming hasn't affected knitting. Or has it? (Waggles eyebrows) It certainly doesn't get cold enough anymore to wear heavy sweaters! Global warming, it's robbing me of my god-given right to wear bulky hand knits! How do the sheep feel about global warming?! Do they slow wool production, or are they simply grateful to be sheared? (OK, Tangent, go sit down.)

Then, this morning, I had a rep meeting with someone I've known for a long time, and she's recently taken a job with a business that will be a challenge for her. I believe I even told her, in my special blunt way, that I know she'll either turn things around or she'll quit before the end of next year. It's the truth, and she knows it, too. We were talking about a previous meeting I'd had with another salesperson, and she started laughing, and said, "And I thought :I: was the most passive-aggressive person I knew!" Well, my head tilted all "Baroo?" style, because huh? Was she talking about me? Turns out, no, she wasn't, and (in relief) I responded, "Phew! I mean, I just think of myself as plain ole AGGRESSIVE."

Be Aggressive! Be Be Aggressive! And Special! And Give Give Give Thanks! Or I'll pop pop pop ya in the nose! Because I'm Specially Aggressive! In the name of the Globally Warmed Sheep!

(Hi, I cannot leave for the weekend fast enough. My brain is in rapid-fire mode!)


posted by PlazaJen, 12:32 PM | link |

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

We've Come A Long Way, Baby....

I could spend time complaining about the "joy" that is this week, but I'll spare you. At least for today.
Today? I am going to pull a couple knitting skeletons out of the closet and show you just how far I've come as a knitter over the years. Since I learned as a little girl, and didn't do much with it until I was re-taught by our foreign exchange student, most projects consisted of items based on the shape "rectangle". Sweaters (with drop sleeves), scarves, even hats. I finally learned to knit in the round, and then one winter, decided I needed to learn how to knit socks. I believe this would be the first year I knew JWo. Because you don't make a boyfriend a sweater, you make him hats, and scarves, and if you really find yourself smitten, you tackle those double points and make him some hugs for his feet: socks.

My first sock does not have a mate. It is still around, somewhere, in all its badness and glory. I taught myself from a Threads techniques compilation, and let me tell you what, if you ever want to learn how to knit socks? HAVE SOMEONE TEACH YOU. Or I suppose, you can use one of those books that's all about how to knit socks. My way? The hard way. But again, that's also how I roll.

So I decided to make JWo some socks. To keep his feet warm, in his little, minimally-heated home, 72 miles away from me. And he told me he would treasure them forever. God love him.

Shrek-ilicious Socks

Do you understand how large those are? Knit out of Lion Brand Thick & Quick Wool? I could put my feet in there WITH his and we'd still have room to store bagels, loose change, and a curling iron. Sweet lord almighty. However, I did at least have the ability at this point to make them match.

Then, I knit myself these bad boys:

Enormous! But With Shaping!

Oh yeah! I put the yardstick in for reference. I even did LEG SHAPING for my shapely calves. Uh-huh. Look out, all you bitches with your 0's and 1's, I knit these mo-fo's on 10.5 DPNs. With shaping.

Both pairs went into the trash last night. Their horrendousness recorded for posterity with the camera, but they can no longer be in the same space as things like this:

Baby Tulip Cardi

Baby Tulip Cardigan, for a v. special baby....
Stop lady with the flash already! I'm not even a day old!
(I owe her a sweater for all the pictures I took of her, on her first day here!)

or even this -

Knitted Helmetliner for JWo

A knitted face mask for JWo on his biting cold duck hunts... (the first one I knit is about to be mailed, so it can go to a soldier in need....)(It just irks me that we are spending ALL this money fighting these wars and yet our volunteers who are on the front lines aren't properly equipped. It's a nightmare!)

And of course, I've figured out how to knit socks. I've put up pictures every time I've finished a pair, and I have enough sock yarn to um, take me into the twilight years, so I plan to keep on knitting them..... I still am a loose knitter, and I don't pay loads of attention to oh, uh, "GAUGE" and whatnot, so I just knit on the tiniest needles I can stand. But we discovered those shocking socks when James was going through a storage box, and it was a humor-horror moment for me. It's good to be reminded sometimes of how far we've come, but to see the progress, we have to look at where we were and sometimes - it just ain't pretty. Or even wearable. But you can laugh and notice the small things (leg shaping!) and keep on improving!


posted by PlazaJen, 4:23 PM | link |

Monday, November 19, 2007

Out Of The Grey......

You know that expression "Out of the blue"? Well, sometimes you get things that come out of the grey. Because when the skies are crisp and bright and blue, sure, it's great to have things happen unexpectedly (as long as they're great things), but they really count when the skies are grey.

JWo and I both had tough days, we've got stressful things that are and aren't related to work, and at least we're not stressing each OTHER out, but we arrived home tonight at the same time, his mind filled with thoughts, my mouth open, screaming at my dashboard to get that extra ounce of frustration OUT before I opened the car door.

Ten minutes later, he stood at the top of the steps to the backyard and we looked at each other (black labs tearing around us) and he said, "I'm so glad we have each other." And we hugged and kissed and we were grateful (and this is where you go "awwww"...) and I went inside & hit the blinking button on the answering machine.

It was a reporter, from the New York Times. He wanted to interview James about duck hunting, and climate changes, and the season this year. I was so excited, I ran out the door & told him, and he came in after he finished marking for the fence, and returned the call.

After talking to James, the reporter is now trying to fly out here to go on a duck hunt with him; the challenge is finding a photographer and coordinating flights - during the busiest travel time of the year. I forgot all about my petty anger, and just felt pride. The New York Fuckin' Times. Yeah. It just makes me smile, a smile that comes from deep within and warms me to the tips of my toes as it curves to my nose....

Oh, and the other little drop of silver in this day? Came in the mail. Welcome to the family, Tripper. You're bona-fide officially ours.

Welcome to the Family, Tripper.
posted by PlazaJen, 8:56 PM | link |

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Aliens Have Landed... and Our House Is Their Base Camp!

Last night was something of a humdinger. At one point, I actually wondered if one of those Electro-Magnetic-Pulse-thingies had gone off in the vicinity. (You know, Jack Bauer had to deal with one of those once, and how crazy is it that I actually thought of him amidst the chaos that was Last Night's Electronics Disaster?!)

So, I got home, and JWo and I had some de-lish takeout Vietnamese, and we watched Weeds. I noticed that the DVR (yes, THAT DVR, the DVR of Discontent) showed a bright red "RECORD" and yet when I hit the controls, it showed that it was recording ... nothing. And it was whirring a bit. It's been whirring lately, and I just let it. Whir, little friend. If you explode, we will blame Corporate Time Warner, because well, I already do. I've saved you so much on therapy bills! Anyway, James said it had been doing that since he got home, and since the recording log said it was now 100% full, I wisely panicked, because that could only mean one thing was coming: automatic deletion of shows for no reason. So I did what I'd been told last week, unplugged & re-plugged, and let it re-boot. It seemed to do the trick! I felt quite satisfied.

Later, I was watching tv & checking email on James' laptop, and playing a little "Poppit", when suddenly his computer froze. Not just the game, the whole kit & caboodle. I turned it off, and rebooted, and began what has become a very tiresome long dance with the devil, because it will. not. reboot. Not in safe mode, not from the recovery CD, it freezes at a certain line of code when you reboot in safe mode with command prompts, I have updated the BIOS, (yes, my network administrator slip is showing), and I have searched the internets for solutions, and so far have been unsuccessful. We have a dead computer, unless I figure out what the magical resuscitation clue is. (It won't even power on if it's not plugged in.) So as I was wrangling with that, my cell phone rings.

It's James. Who is wondering what is going on, and I am thinking, holy moses, does he have a nanny cam on me? No, he'd just been trying to call the house phone, which would ring and ring and ring and ring and ring, with no answering machine. Or, I should point out, any RINGING on my end. Sure enough, the phone is dead.
WELL! We've been here before! I know what to do! So I begin. Racing around, upstairs, downstairs, jump up jump up and git down, unplugging power sources and phone cords. But. The corded phones don't work, either. Hrm. I go to the basement and unplug and plug in the alarm, to make sure it's not messing with the lines. I test the alarm system, twice. It works, but it also starts beeping at me. Because the landline phone lines aren't working. (We have layers on the alarm system. I swear, try what you like, asshats, but that alarm is going OFF. With outdoor siren.) So, I call the phone company and immediately explain I have already attempted their foolproof plug-unplug-replug system, and so out to the box we go, in our jammies, at 11 pm, mind you, with a corded phone, a screwdriver, and my cell phone. Nope. None of the lines work.

As the very cordial CSR is setting up the technician call, he sort of explains how surprised he was that I went outside this late to test the line. (Hi. I don't put "Tenacious Jen" on my bills, but obviously we've never met.) I then tell him that we've had a whole host of electronics problems this evening, and while I'm not at the point I'm going to start wearing a colander for a hat to keep the aliens out, I AM going just a little bit crazy with it all.

He laughed, I laughed, but I think we both knew I wasn't lying. About the crazy part.
The colander hat is another matter entirely.

(Oh, update, the phone issue has been identified - there's some work being done down the street & a crew "Stretched The Cable" causing a "Loss of Dial Tone". I love the doublespeak for "We Fucked Up and Cut The Cable" resulting in "You Had No Phone." But it's fixed now!)


posted by PlazaJen, 12:56 PM | link |

Friday, November 16, 2007


I think that's an excellent title if I do say so myself. Now, worry not, I'm not overly pissy, but I have these general irritations that chafe and bind at sporadic moments throughout the day. I'm quite glad it's Friday, that's for sure! I just have this over-arching sensation that I'm distracted from what I'm really supposed to be doing, because the more urgent little fires are demanding my attention. Meanwhile, the barn is going up in smoke!

I am finally getting a root canal, the Monday after Thanksgiving, so that's fun. And since we are hosting James' family on the holiday, we wrote out the menu & assigned some things last night, which helped me feel like I was getting a grip on things. We'll have the house cleaned on Tuesday, our fence guy is supposed to start next week, and ahoy, I just remembered, I need to sand & putty & sand & paint an exterior window. I need a cloning machine. Because I would just get all my clones to do all the crap, and I'd sit comfortably in my big chair, knitting & catching up on a lot of tv I've missed this week!

Now I need to go run around a little bit more and make sure nothing is ticking or smoking or leaking toxic waste ..... I need to leave today with at least some things wrapped up! Productive weekend, here I come! (and as soon as I typed that? I immediately wanted to lie down & take a nap. Gusto, where did you go?)
posted by PlazaJen, 1:02 PM | link |

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mamma, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys....

Well, yesterday was JAM-packed with everything you could ask for!

I went and saw my dear friend Shelley's baby over my lunch hour:

Meet Miss Kara!


OMG she is so teeny tiny and perfect and cute. She has her momma's eyes and a wonderful round face and loads of hair. I couldn't be happier for the family, and I hung around until Gramma got there so I could share in her joy as well.

So then the Cowboy part of all this. We went to the Sprint Center last night for the 9th & final Garth Brooks concert, and wowza, what a show. I do not know that much of Garth's music (though I can belt out some chorus words, especially that "I Got Friends In Low Places" song!) The Sprint Center was really cool. And? Louder inside than a Chiefs game. Probably because it has a lid on it, but holy mother of god, the entire arena was full and these people DID know Garth's music. He is the consummate performer, I must say. He loves what he does, he does it well, and this concert was also being broadcast around the country and Europe in movie theaters. After about an hour & a half, he "ended" the show, complete with an encore - and then came back out and proceeded to play for the crowd for another hour or so. (He said something to the effect of, "Now that the movie theater taping's done, let's give you folks more of a show!") It was pretty impressive. He ended with Don McLean's "American Pie", which was one of my dad's favorite songs and one I learned at a very early age, so I sang along, with tears streaming down my face & clutching my husband's hand, not having to explain a thing. You fall in love with words and talking, but sometimes love is even stronger when you don't have to say a thing.

Thanks, Garth, for a fun, fun night!




Oh, but the really funny thing? The suite next to ours? Was filled with the most stoic, serious, unhappy-looking people. We found out that suite is owned by a large um, concert ticket provider. You'd think those people would like to party! Maybe they all had to pay exorbitant handling fees.....

Are We Having Fun Yet?!

Maybe they had fun? But they weren't showing it on the outside. We laughed & laughed....
posted by PlazaJen, 10:40 AM | link |

Monday, November 12, 2007


I have not been able to get my shit together since Daylight Savings Time rolled back. Actually, if we're going to be technically correct, I've not been able to get my shit together for a really long time. But I pay someone to listen to me talk about that, and meanwhile, if you subscribe to my blog in Bloglines, you've been thinking I have updated, like at least 10 times today. I dunno whazzup with the RSS on the FEED there, but sorry dudes, I'm not live blogging my day, it just keeps showing up as "new"!

In other news, I had a heart-to-heart with the Time Warner Cable technician who came out on Friday. He sat down on the hassock, I sat on the loveseat, and I felt like we were breaking up. Amicably, but breaking up nonetheless. I told him I had suspicions the problem was in the signal. He hung his head, shaking it. I went through all the issues, showed him the error messages, and that's when he sat down & clasped his hands. Basically, he's seen these errors (and more!) all across the metro, in all sorts of different boxes. It's not the signal. It's not the hard drive on the box. Basically, it's not me, it's you. It's YOU, Time Warner Cable Mainframe Computer, it's YOU. You're the reason these poor tech guys go around to peoples' homes and have to sit in their living rooms and apologize for your mistakes and problems. This tech guy looked like he was going to cry with gratitude when I told him I had some connections and planned to pass my concerns along.

Essentially, they have issues at the Main Nerve Center, and the only thing you can do is reboot your box (really fast) and it somehow stabilizes it for a while, until the evil computer sends it mixed messages again and causes its little brain to explode. (That's when you pull the power cord out & plug it back in really fast.) The people at the Nerve Center tell the Supervisors of the Technicians that "they're working on it" which we all know means, "We haven't got a friggin' clue, and don't let this get out." This man was clearly at the end of his rope. I at least felt better because lord knows, I was getting tired of trekking over to the Winchester station and trading these damned DVRs out, and I also no longer have to call customer support. Oddly enough, this solution pacified me, when it was the same solution from the phone company a month ago, and I was having none of it.

Now, I just have to get my shit together & call my "connection". They know someone who knows someone, you knows what I mean? :wink:
posted by PlazaJen, 2:42 PM | link |

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I feel like I'm shooting trap this morning.

JWo must, too. We both got up & have been tearin' through our to-do's. I made two enormous pastries (it's an old family recipe) that caused me to realize that I simply have to find one of those big pastry plastic thingies you roll dough & what not out. I remember ours unrolled & had measurements (and various pie-sized circles) on it; I ended up using two silpats cobbled together & that did NOT suit me one bit. I ended up making the dough too thick, so the treat did not turn out as well as I'd hoped. (And you make the dough the day before, so it's freakin' involved, and I hate that so much effort went into it to have it not turn out as planned!)

Anyhoo, I've got split pea soup with ham in the crock pot, I'm about to go start laundry, and I just finished scraping the 1 year+ paint off the garage door windows. You know how some things just become so familiar? Well, we've had this sort of "artsy" look to those windows for a year now, because they needed to be scraped. (I use "artsy" in the same way one might describe my two-different-shoes mishap of Friday.) I didn't really understand or know what scraping meant, and didn't think I knew how to do it. And I just sort of stopped seeing the strangeness. It didn't even cross my brain that I could actually do it! Until last weekend, when JWo had me scraping the stickers off the greenhouse glass, which was ever so much fun. I am serious! I adore projects that provide instant gratification & satisfaction for the work you are doing. So this morning, I took my new leetle friend, Le Razorrrr Scraperrrrr, please to say in ze Frenchie Accentie, ok, baybee?, and we went out and had at those windows. I am so proud! It went quite quickly, and now perhaps I must do it on ze inside, because ze peoples who painted the inside of the garage many yearz ago were the Messies with the windows as well. But my armz, zey are tired. (This accent thing is hard to break, sorreeee!)

We somehow got a New York Times delivered today as well, and the Wo joked that I would be tackling that crossword. (I tear up the Star's, it's not overly hard.) Ayah. Because I want to undermine all my accomplishments of the day with feeling like a dolt! But perhaps, just perhaps, one of the clues will involve SKEET. PULL!
posted by PlazaJen, 11:29 AM | link |

Friday, November 09, 2007

Why I Do Not Like The Phone

Today may be full of blogs, peeps. The things, they just keep comin'.

I answered the phone, and it was someone looking for Jim. Now, my husband is James, so much so, I do not even think of him when I hear "Jim" but instead, think of my boss. Who is Jim. Anyway, I was all, "WHO? Jim? You got the wrong number" and then they said Jim + his last name, and then oooooh yeah, ok, people do shorten names on their own. So this guy told me who he was, Tim, and that he was involved in James' organization (MWA) and I thought I recognized the name as someone I'd met a few times, who was a very nice man and someone I knew I could joke around with (you can see where this is going, can't you?). Tim continued to tell me that he had an interesting proposition for him that he wanted to discuss.

I get all coquettish and say, "So, does this proposition involve him taking his clothes off?"

And Tim goes, "Uh........" Pause. "Well not at first, anyway."

And I'm all HAHAHAHAHA I am so funny and "Well, I'm sure he'll be interested!" and I proceed to take down Tim's pertinent info and phone numbers.

JWo called five minutes ago & I passed along the info, and said, "Tim's the banker, right?"

"No. Tim works for the DNR (Dept. of Nat. Resources) and is on our state board."



"I might have told him you were willing to take your clothes off. I thought he was the other Tim."

Whups. I should just be tranquilized and not allowed near the phone or computer or the public at large, really.

UPDATE: I guess James called him back, and told him he'd heard his wife had maybe gotten a bit salty with him, and he said, "Yeah, I debated on whether or not to tell her this call might be recorded..." Turns out he's with the Dept. of Natural Resources. So another page for my file. Saucy AND Salty AND Mismatched. It's a fabulous Friday!


posted by PlazaJen, 2:13 PM | link |

1 Shoe, 2 Shoe, Black Shoe, Brown Shoe...

I left the house wearing all black, my Lady Eleanor, and prepared to enjoy my day off, with a pedicure, a little bit of shopping, and then back home to knit & wait for the cable guy while monitoring the siding guys working on the house. (It's all Fences and Siding and Greenhouse and Home Improvements here at the NuWo household!)

I enjoyed my pedicure, as always, (Russian Navy toes!) and teetered over to a chair afterwards, while Nancy, the greatest technician there, toted my shoes & my wrap. And that's when I saw my choice of footwear. Same shoe! Same style. (Bina leather mules, Target, they're sooo comfy). Not the same color. Because I'd loved the black ones so much, and at such a great price, I bought a second pair in brown. And had sailed out the door with one of each color on my feet. I felt horrified. Then I desperately thought, "Maybe? Maybe people with think it's cool. Like kind of eccentric, but still, like maybe a TREND. Yeah." None of that helped, btw. And fortunately, the Doc Marten sandals that had killed my feet after two days of non-stop wearing were still in the trunk, so I switched my mismatched footwear for matched (albeit heavy) sandals.

And let this be a lesson for all, to exercise caution while dressing in a darkened room.

Unless you think it's crazysexycool and are going to carry the trend forward, and then I'd like to claim my spot at the forefront of that trend.


posted by PlazaJen, 1:20 PM | link |

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Still Kickin'!

Boy, it's been a blur. We saw Avenue Q on Tuesday, and it was fabulous. So, so funny. It was also fun to be out and about & doing something different. Plus, the entire crowd was so diverse. And let's face it: there's just nothing like some puppet sex to make your week stand out. (Make that: Tony Award-Winning Puppet Sex!)

Yesterday was busy, and then I had a surprise client meeting, so whoosh! I barely remember what happened. I got everything done & pulled together and everything went well, she's a great client & all - but I felt my gears starting to slip late in the day, and most of my night was spent zombie-like. Except for when Suzy started to FLIP. OUT. The growling and the low barking and the borderline-alarm was enough to get me out into the breezeway to investigate what was going on.

And well she should be on High Alert: there were THREE cop cars and an ambulance lined up in the street in front of our house. I watched and watched, with a low-growling Suzy by my side. I'm still not clear on what exactly happened (I'm not one of those neighbors who just strolls out and starts asking, "What's goin' on?" To me that seems like a great way to get caught in some strange takedown by the po-po, or perhaps, shot.)

I did see one officer eventually make it into the house across the street, and noticed that just like on tv, he did NOT turn the lights on. I could see his flashlight bobbling all around their kitchen area. I have always thought that was nuts, like why do they walk around in the dark with a flashlight, hm? Why wouldn't you turn on the lights? I'm still pondering that one, though one theory may be someone is waiting for you & would have some level of an advantage while your cop eyeballs adjusted to the light change? I dunno. Someone needs to find this out. I always thought it was movie/tv silliness! Anyway, the whole drama unfolded over about half an hour, and they wheeled a stretcher up to the house & took someone out, though I think she was alive. I felt bad, because this is the woman from the Hose Incident, and her mom died less than a month ago. I think she's at least a bubble off, and perhaps on some sort of chemical most of the time, so I just don't know the full story. But she seemed to be yelling (her other favorite thing to do) the whole way into the bambalance, so I trust she's still alive.

In other news, I was surprised to find my very liberal, pro-union self thinking this whole Hollywood writer's strike is just stupid. Maybe it's because I have a really hard time feeling sorry for people who make $200,000 a year. However, I also don't feel sorry for studio executives who rake it in hand-over-fist, just for bringing brain-sucking dreck to our television sets. (See: Viva Laughlin.) I feel sorry for all the people who make $24,000 a year who depend on those people being employed, and who will suffer because the Rich are picketing against the Super Rich. When do the worker bees get to go on strike because Gary Forsee gets a $54 million SEVERANCE package? See, in the "real world", the one where going out for sushi is a :treat:, not a lifestyle, when someone doesn't like your work performance? You get fired. Maybe get a couple weeks in pay and any vacation earned. You worry about paying a mortgage that is the equivalent of these writers' cars. Or Gary Forsee's nail clippings. I realize I'm mixing up ye olde issues here, but I just have a hard time believing that someone like a sitcom writer or Gary Forsee are worth millions and millions and millions of dollars, when we have soldiers without proper equipment and armor, fighting a mistaken war, or teachers, who don't even get paid hazard pay, who have to watch out for Kill Lists, or even police officers, who walk into dark houses and wonder if they're going to get shot at, or even have to deal with a sopping wet crazy lady who needs to be carted off to the loony bin.

Apparently I'm more than "still kickin'". I'm kickin' ass and bitchin', too.


posted by PlazaJen, 1:52 PM | link |

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Juggling Porcupines

Boy, it's a bit nutters again! Work's suddenly lurching along at a borderline-frightening clip, and then all the other stuff outside of work is just... there. Needing to be done, needing to be remembered. (The remembering is my downfall!)

Since I absorb everything around me, I am also agog at my husband's whirling dervish abilities of the past week - he put up the greenhouse! He did, he did! It looks a-ma-zing. I promise, pictures to come. He's working on the benches that go inside now.

Dog training is work! Yes it is! Tripper is very cute, and also a bit headstrong. I have learned from Polly and being a bit more of a badass this go-round. Polly just looks at me when he bites her face, and I say to her, "You did that exact same thing to Suzy" and refuse to feel sorry for her. She has to grow up, and 4 years old is time to grow up.

I hit the wall with my molar #19 and am getting a root canal. I initially scheduled it for this week, but moved it to the end of the month. What the hell, I've lived with all this joy & pain since June, another couple weeks won't wreck me.

We've been getting fencing & siding estimates, and it's been an interesting process. I am glad I renewed my membership to Angie's List, because even though I'm a cheapskate on some things, I figured that when you're going to spend a chunk of change on things that you don't want to do yourself, it's better to at least find out if the people you choose to do the job have a good history of doing the work. So far, the fence guy I found on CraigsList is in the lead, but the siding guy from Angie's List impressed JWo so much, it's already worth what I spent to renew. Good times and home improvements. And having a fence truly encapsulate the property will be a HUGE benefit. With three dogs & one who loves to run off & roll in poo, nobody needs her teaching the little one it's a great idea.

We're going to see Avenue Q tonight - should be really entertaining! And we're going to see Garth Brooks next week, which is really crazy, because I'm not exactly your Country Music kinda gal. But I think he's got a pretty universal appeal, and lordy, he's only doing 9 concerts here....!

Oh, and I exchanged our DVR this weekend (making it the 3rd DVR we've gone through), because it was refusing to record things & do normal DVR activities, like pause live TV? And within one day, the new box was doing the exact. same. thing. I thought my head was going to fly off my body. Fortunately for everyone in the room, JWo had drunk a celebratory martini (after finishing the greenhouse) and he wasn't freaked out by me getting pissed. ("Jennifer, I just don't care." was the exact response. It made me GUFFAW.) The CSR at Time Warner asked, "With whom do I have the pleasure of speaking tonight?" and I replied, "Well, that's gonna depend on how you define PLEASURE." I need to say, in my defense, that I don't scream or yell, but I do tell them I'm frustrated, that this isn't working, and I'm not going to settle for the solutions we've tried already since they aren't! working! He was basically of no help, so Friday afternoon, a technician is coming out. And I'm irked because it's sweeps, and none of my shows are recording. However, after he re-booted it remotely, it recorded some shows and worked properly. For the moment. I'm sure when I get home it still won't be working. It's actually less about the shows themselves - because I can get 'em online - but the fact that something I have isn't working. It zings my OCD inner self and that inner self freaks out. (Remember? Floor lamp? Order must be restored!)

OK, I think that's it. Because it's all infused with stress, it doesn't qualify as a Random Orts post, but instead is a newly-established category: Juggling Porcupines! Not as much fun as riding the bike with one pedal, but I did dream last night that I had a lengthy conversation with Lenny Kravitz while spinning some yarn. (I don't know how to spin in real life, but in my dreams, I'm quite good.)

sotto voce: Nobody wants to hear about your dreams, Jennifer. Thanks dad. :)

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posted by PlazaJen, 5:03 PM | link |

Monday, November 05, 2007

8-Track Flashback

James just mentioned in an email that he'd finished teaching his class to diagram sentences, and had informed his students Just! How! Much! his wife loved doing that in school.

It made me laugh, but I also felt a crazy surge inside me. There was probably a strange gleam in my eye, to boot. Because, seriously, I L-O-V-E-D to diagram sentences. I can still remember my English teacher dividing us into teams and sending us up in pairs, to different sides of the room (chalkboards on both sides) to speed-duel the process of diagramming sentences. Seriously, I smoked at the task, probably because I was such a reader, and English was my favorite subject. Add my competitive spirit to the mix, and diagramming sentences was my ultimate competition. My dream would have been to just diagram sentences for the entire hour, illustrating my speed & accuracy. This might account for why I didn't really have that many friends in high school... hm. SuperNerd! I can dissect sentences with a single swipe of chalk!

Now, could I do it with the same speed and accuracy today? Probably not. But just the notion of drawing that straight line with the intersecting short line elicits such a rush.

There's just no telling what triggers a person has, I tell ya. Mine have long since been replaced with yarn, but the memory of what once was still makes my senses stir..... I can almost smell the chalk. The worst was when you'd get going so fast the chalk would snap under your fingers and you'd be scritching the last bits of the sentence out while trying not to drag your fingernails on the board.... shudder.

Ooo, look at this quote! I keep good company! Unless she's being ironic and depressing. But I choose not to go with that one.

"I really do not know that anything has ever been more exciting than diagramming sentences."

— Gertrude Stein


posted by PlazaJen, 12:57 PM | link |

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Limbo, Limbo.....

I'm waiting for a meeting to start, and I feel restless. It could be related to the fact I didn't have a "good" lunch, per se, unless yogurt, gummy bears & peanut butter cheese crackers count. I didn't feel like going out for anything because nothing sounded particularly great, and reflecting on last night's dinner (toasted meatball sandwiches w/ provolone) and anticipation for tonight's dinner (spicy sausage pasta), nothing really resonated. Given how much I'll indulge my cravings when I have them (lookin' at you, Thai food), I figure I should roll with the lack-of-cravings as well, since they happen less frequently.

Lessee, not much else happening here in the Shire, as I like to call my life, ever since the droll line was thrown out by the hobbit-clad main character on Big Bang Theory this week (That's how we roll in the Shire....) Tripper is not sleeping through the night, one of my dearest friends is about to have a baby, work is not exploding (I'm cursed now just for writing that), duck season's starting, and I have a lot of knitting to do.

Last night, late, after all James and the dogs had fallen asleep, I did have a burst of grief. There was an excellent article in this month's Real Simple, about grief and grieving, which is what probably poked it into life. The image I had was like all those YouTube videos of Mentos being dropped into 2-liter Diet Coke bottles. A fissure opens & grief rockets into the air, and then passes. As difficult as it was to go through, I think I'm going to take the time this weekend to write the answers to the questions included in the article.... may even put them out here, to make it that much more "real". I know, on some level, that embracing this pain and not turning from it, while still not allowing it to rule my life, will ultimately serve me better in the long run. I think it's normal (well, ok, MY kinda "normal") to compartmentalize and even ignore some of the pain and longing and ugh, grief. (I am so sick of that word.) But I don't think you can ignore it long-term without it totally biting you in the ass. And as much as my ass could use some trimming, that's not the way to go. I think as an animal, we like our "knowns". The sun comes up, and then goes down. Even when it's raining and storming, we still know/believe the sun is making its journey across our landscape. Your car starts when you put the key in, you choose the checkout line with the best bagger in the store, you always park near cart corrals, because the familiar comforts us, provides a nest, a buffer to the days when the car doesn't start, or your company lays off 30 employees, or you wake up with a head cold. And some of us crave that normalcy more than others, for example, me. What is difficult to see, especially in the early throes of it, is that grief is the devil's limbo. And you have no idea if the music is ever. going. to stop. What I'm realizing is that it doesn't actually stop, but it stops bending you over backwards like a stalk of wheat in the wind on a daily basis. I guess the challenge is to find the new comfort zone, the new normal, how to offset the lows and manage the plummets. It's so hard to see things when you're in the midst of them, and all you see is that damn bar, pushing you back, down into the depths, away from the norm.


posted by PlazaJen, 3:07 PM | link |