Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shutting Up Now

If I've seemed a little quiet this week, there's a reason. Sunday morning after my last post, we got up to find we had no heat or hot water. Proved to be a relatively simple issue (air in the fuel line following the oil tank replacement), but I'm trying to avoid challenging any of the other appliances. Shhh....

Also, all I've knit is red socks, and you've already seen a bunch of them. But I'll be working on something else soon. I'm almost out of red yarn.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I May Have Spoken Too Soon

But first, in crafting news...the red socks proceed apace:
sock family
"I don't know, dear. I really think he looks like your side of the skein."

The partial sock pictured is actually the start of sock number four. I have yarn for three pairs, and they've been moving so fast, I've just cast on the next as soon as I finish one. Definitely something to love about worsted weight socks!

The fluffy yellow sweater is in negative stitch count...I found a dropped stitch this morning in location that would be hard to fix inconspicuously, and so I ripped back about eight inches of the front. I've reknit about six of those, but the yellow sweater and I are due for some more quality time tomorrow, while I explain my expectations to it.

And yes. I may have spoken too soon when I said it was Tuesday and nothing had broken. Wednesday, during what was supposed to be routine furnace service the technician discovered a leak in our oil tank. Since the oil tank was probably put in when the house was built, this isn't terribly surprising. Finding out that our city who (in contravention to the historic 'Live Free or Die' principles of this great state of New Hampsire) has really annoying building codes that would necessitate moving the fill pipe location, was just an extra special bonus. Three days later:
new oil tank
--we have a new oil tank. Also with code-mandated concrete pylons to prevent us from hitting the tank while driving a power tool into the garage (there's certainly no room for a car in there). We still need to pass the city inspection, but that's fun for next week. Note the gaping hole in the ceiling over the tank--that's the ceiling that was brand new less than four years ago. (The oil tank technicians cut the new holes for the pipes. Fixing the ceiling and patching the old holes is our problem.) The new oil tank went in yesterday.

So then today we went to see our accounting professional and get our taxes done. (We're not gluttons for punishment, the appointment was set up months ago.) At least this year, no one's employer was acquired, no complicated stock transactions occurred, and our employers managed to withhold something approximating the correct amounts in the correct categories. (We have acquired some notoriety with the accountants, between the complexity of last year's return plus twice having cashed in on their guarantee to make right any mistakes in the return.)

By the time we got out of there, we decided that it was time to run away from home, at least for the afternoon. So we drove down to the coast and walked around the wildlife refuge on Plum Island. It was gorgeous- sunny, warm, shirtsleeve weather. Even this early in the spring, the place has a stark beauty:

We had dinner in Indian restaurant called Jewel in the Crown, which had excellent food (though their medium spiciness would be quite hot by most standards). The nice weather apparently had brought out the crowds because they seemed to be a bit overwhelmed to have a full restaurant, and the service was on the slow side. Still, it was a good meal.

Now. If the remaining household equipment and vehicles would just consent to run normally for a bit....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Après le Déluge

Thankfully, I was not affected by the widespread flooding in my area in the last few days, though I did have some minor excitement related to getting my car out of an underground parking garage. I had left it there at my husband's workplace while we went out to western Massachusetts for the weekend, and came back to find it in the center of large and deepening pool of water. Fortunately, there was a shallow bit only an inch or so deep that extended in the general direction of the driver's side door, and I was able to get to the car without getting my feet (very) wet. The water at the entrance was substantially deeper, but proved not too deep to drive the car through. But really, we didn't rescue it a moment too soon. By Monday AM, the water had risen enough that they had to close the garage, and it had flooded the bottoms of the building elevators.

The weekend featured a lot of breakfast…our traditional March maple-sugar expedition on Saturday and brunch Sunday. I also brought home cider doughnuts, both with and without maple cream on them. (I ate the last one this morning. Yum.) Now I need to get back to my exercise program. While visiting with yet other friends on Sunday, a folding chair collapsed underneath me. No damage done except to the chair, but I think I may need to cut back on the whole doughnut thing.

However, with driving around, eating and socializing comes knitting, and I managed a pretty steady amount of it through the weekend. Exhibit A: Jungle Socks.
Jungle socks
Two weeks for a pair of socks seems so much more reasonable than two months, don't you think?

Exhibit B: Non-beige mittens. (I feel so much better now.)
non-beige mittens

Exhibit C: Plain red socks. In Cascade 220 superwash- this was one of the gift yarn projects I mentioned the other day. It occurred to me that it's March already and I haven't started on the Christmas list. Besides—socks in worsted weight progress so gratifyingly quickly!
red socks

So far, it's Tuesday and nothing has broken, flooded, caught fire or collapsed underneath me. And the sun is out. Here's hoping for a less eventful week than the last couple.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How Low Will She Go?

This week I finally caved. Gave in. Indulged in retail therapy. I had really wanted to hold out longer, but I finally had to splurge and go yarn shopping. See, my stash of worsted weight acrylic mitten yarn, last hope for the Hundred Projects challenge? Was down to this:
the dregs of the mitten stash

Now, it's certainly not that I don't have yarn. And I have a record-setting number of projects on the needles at the moment, at least for me. (Six. Since I'm sure you were desperately curious.) And it isn't even that I haven't bought yarn recently, since I splurged on some lovely sock yarn and a sweater's worth of other yarn for myself a couple of months ago, plus picked up some yarn for gift projects last week. Nope. This was pure self indulgence. The desire to not have to face another set of beige and yellow mittens for a while. A symptom of my utter boredness with all the mitten yarn I had. So, how rash, foolish and spendthrift was I?
new yarn!!!

Yes. I actually went out and bought four whole colorful skeins of acrylic. They weren't even on sale. I'm so embarrassed. But I'm casting on non-beige mittens this evening....

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sad News

I mentioned in an earlier post that there had been a lot of vet trips lately. Our cat Woats has been very sick for several weeks. We had hoped she would recover, but despite our best efforts (and several vets', and hers), she passed away last night. She would have been 17 this spring. She was a lively and opinionated personality and a delightful companion. Her friendliness and sweet nature charmed everyone who knew her. She will be grievously missed.

I couldn't choose just one picture:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Huh? Well, Color Me Stunned.

Turns out- not the clutch. So much for assumptions. No, the reason I heard a terrific bang and didn't go anywhere? My axle broke. (The drive axle that connects to the transmission.) That's...unusual. Well, it does explain why I didn't have any of the usual signs of a dying clutch. Also the lack of forward motion. And it's a cheaper repair than a clutch.

But. It means that the clutch repair still waits for me sometime in the future. Hmm. Better start swatching.

Friday, March 5, 2010


There are times when I take knitting with me, and don't have a chance to work on it after all. And it's tempting to think that it was a wasted effort. And yet, you never know when a knitting opportunity will unexpectedly present itself.

Take yesterday. There I was, leaving work. I pulled up to a red light. The light turned green, and I shifted into gear (I drive a manual). However, instead of a small mechanical noise of meshing gears, what I got was a terrific thump, a grinding noise and a complete lack of forward motion. I knew what had happened instantly, of course. I tried one more time to shift into a gear, any gear, then put on my emergency flashers and motioned to the line of cars behind me to go around.

You see, my faithful little Saturn wagon is a '99. With 182,000 miles on it. And until today--it still had the original clutch. If you know standards, you understand that this is incredible longevity for a clutch, something like 140 in car years. I certainly can't complain that I didn't get my money's worth out of that clutch. (I'll also note that while I've been known to say that I was 'expecting I'd have to replace the clutch soon', I must admit that I was expecting in some vague indefinite future time, like 'a few months' or 'sometime'...not, well, yesterday. But. This was not an unanticipated issue, as you'll see....)

So. Traffic light. No forward motion. I checked again to be absolutely sure I had no motive power as the folks went around me, and it it was capital-D Dead, kaput, not a hint of anything meshing. So when the light turned red again, I hopped out of the car, still running the emergency flashers and started pushing it out of the intersection. A couple of guys in adjoining vehicles immediately got out and gave me a hand (sometimes, people are pretty damned nice, you know?) and we quickly got it out of traffic.

From there, it was a straightforward exercise...I pulled out my cell (which I originally got for exactly this kind of situation). Called my garage and got the number of their recommended towing company. Called the towing company. Tow driver was there in 15 minutes (to the chagrin of a guy who was broken down across the street and had been waiting longer than I had for AAA). Got a tow to the garage (where they already had my repair written up). The garage called their associated rental car facility, and the rental people came and picked me up. (This is convenient since when I pick my car up, it will be easy to return the rental at the same time.)

I actually didn't have a lot of time for knitting, in fact, because everyone was so efficient*. But the principle was sound, and having knitting certainly made the time pass more quickly. And what was I knitting you ask?
twin rib socks
Twin rib socks in Online Supersocke Jungle Color. On size 0 needles. Didn't I say that the next socks would be faster? I cast these on last Saturday.

But this highlights another aspect of preparedness. I've occasionally posted about neat thrifty ideas, and I certainly don't go out of my way to spend money on things I don't think have value. But having been at this for some years now...the emergency stuff is all in place. Yeah, my car is old and a little beat-up. But it gets great fuel efficiency, regular maintenance and it's been paid off since 2002. Some of the money I don't spend on car payments has gone into an aggressive maintenance budget and my emergency car replacement fund. I don't have to agonize about renting a car while mine is out of commission or worry about paying the tow fee. I know a lot of people out there are struggling with trying to adjust their lifestyle to a more modest level. I'm hear to testify...good for you and keep at it. The security of knowing you can handle whatever comes your way is more than worth it.

But be sure to take your knitting, just in case.

*For the record, Coady's Towing, Lannan Mazda, and Enterprise Rentals all get highest marks for excellent customer service. If you break down in the Lawrence/Lowell MA area, I highly recommend them.