Sidetracked

Last week was rough. Especially the second part of the week. I have absolutely no crafting photos, only Lizzie photos. And I am going to share those photos in the manner most resembling how she makes our lives better. We go about our business, even in stressful moments, and she just makes goofy faces for us, or does goofy stuff, just to make us smile, easing the stressful moments.

So, on Thursday morning at work, I found out that in addition to all the grants we were working on, we had two more needing to be submitted, with the due date of Monday. We immediately got started on them, but as is the case so often, we have to wait for additional information that cannot be gathered by us, nor can we really push the process along. All I can say is that trying to pull together a grant in less than 3 business days is just not acceptable, and very stressful. And more stressful still on my staff, two of whom are still very new to this process. One of my new team members was already working on two of her own, so I split the two new ones between me and the newest team member, figuring I’d train her as we go along. By 11:30 on Thursday, I got a call from the school nurse saying that Miss Butterfly was sick and wanted to go home. So, my grant work came to a halt, and I got Miss Butterfly from school. I stayed home with her because I didn’t really trust that she was that sick and I didn’t want her to have the afternoon with her devices.

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Now, Miss Butterfly had a show choir performance on Friday directly after school. And naturally, she didn’t feel bad enough to miss that. Show choir hair requires that we straighten it, tease it, spray it, and get it up into a poof. And all that needed to be done before I went to work on Friday morning. I leave at 7. So, on Thursday night, I asked her to please get a shower so that we could dry and straighten her hair on Thursday night, making Friday morning less stressful.

And now is where I need to tell you a bit about our plumbing. We are in a raised ranch. The main drain is below the main floors of our home. Our basement/garage is under that. So, when in our garage, you look up and can see our main drain pipes. Because of this, we have an ejector pump in the basement. This is similar to the concept of a sump pump but it’s fully enclosed, and collects grey water from the washer, the dehumidifying part of the furnace, and the creepy basement shower when we use it. The ejector pump runs when the pit fills, pushing all that water up through a one way flap, the flap closes again, and that water heads out of the home in the main drain. Sometimes the pump can run two or three times in quick succession if we are doing laundry.

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Well, on Thursday night, Miss Butterfly was taking her shower, and the ejector pump ran at the same time. What we didn’t know is that we had a clog in the main line heading out to the street. With the lines already full from the shower, and everything else that we’d put down the drain that couldn’t make it past the clog and out, and then the ejector pump pressing more water into the system, what happened next was rather epic and awful. All the drains upstairs blew up. We had waste water in the sink, we had what had just been in the toilet come up the shower drain. Both toilets flooded over. And then we went to the garage. All that pressure had blown through the wax seals of the toilets, pushing water all over the garage as well. Right on top of our motorbikes and Mr. Ink’s toolbox.

Let me just get another Lizzie picture in here, since I know your stress level is rising just reading all that.

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While Mr. Ink cleaned off the motorbikes and got them moved, I tried to get in touch with a plumber that could come out that evening. I was unsuccessful. We had to wait until the morning. We cleaned up as best we could without using the drains, thank goodness I replaced all our towels recently and put the old ratty towels in the rag bin. We used them all.

The next morning I did Miss Butterfly’s hair, and then went into work to  see what I could get done with my grants before I had to leave again to meet the plumbers. That was when I discovered that those grants were not due Monday, they were due that very day. I got as much possible done on mine. I double checked the work of my newest team member. I then let my most senior team member know exactly where I was with the grants so that she could take over. I emailed all those involved in the transition of the grant to senior team member. I delegated the rest of my work for the day to other team members. And then I was prepared to rush home with the plumber called. I got two hours of work in.

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The plumbers arrived, and were extremely nice guys. They quickly got to work and I saved us quite a lot of money because I knew exactly where the outdoor access point was hidden, and where our lines connect with the city, and could show them. They tell me that sometimes just trying to find hidden outdoor access points can be the part that takes the longest. Of course, one of them said “How on earth did you figure out this access point was under this particular rock?” And I said “Because we discovered it fully covered in lawn when we put this garden in, and we figured it was important so we covered it with this particular easy to spot rock.”

Thankfully the clog was the only real problem. The garage disaster was just something that happened because the water was under so much pressure and had to go somewhere. We probably will need to consider taking a look at and possibly replacing that portion of ceiling in the garage but it can probably wait a bit. After the plumbers were done, I considered going back in to work. However, I’d given over my tasks so carefully that I feared that going back in would just be even more disrupting. So, I decided to allow what I’ve trained that team for to happen. Let them fly without me. I was worried about this decision. On the other hand, this disastrous week was precisely why I am training them so carefully. This could happen to any of us, at any time. There will always be situations which come up that take priority over what is going on at work, no matter how important work is. I want my team to be able to seamlessly (even if sometimes grumpily) take over for each other in times of need. And you know what? Plumbing disaster is one of those things that’s pretty much universally understood. My team didn’t actually seem to be too grumpy to take over, they were more “GO HOME, we got this, it’s ok, we understand.” And you know what? They do “got this.” I am positive. I think I just saw the super hard work I’ve been putting in for a very long time even before transitioning to our current team, and the work I’ve been putting in on training since October pay off.

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So I stayed home and got to work on cleaning, scrubbing, and sterilizing all the areas which were hit by this disaster. Then running loads of rags in the laundry, getting a load of dishes run through the dishwasher as they’d totally piled up, and generally trying to put our home back in order. I am telling you, there’s nothing so fantastic as the sound of WORKING plumbing if you’ve been without it even for a short time. Mr. Ink came home from work at lunchtime and made me lunch so I could just keep after the clean up. And as is his nature, took the time to notice my work without being asked, and thank me for handling it. (I swear this is one of his most precious qualities.)

It was an extremely exhausting week. Extremely. But, it ended on a very high note! The weather yesterday was 50F. And it just so happens that our biking group was gathering for a cold weather ride. Even though it wasn’t so cold. Mr. Ink and I were wishy washy on if we’d go all week, but in the end decided that a bike ride and time to reconnect with our friends was going to be valuable for us. IT WAS. We rode from our home to the ride, spent time with friends riding and goofing off and having late lunch at a bar, and then we rode all the way back home. Once home, Lizzie Bean who had missed us greeted us with her usually exuberance and sweetness. So we ran around in the yard playing with her for a time before settling in to a quiet evening.

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A perfect ending to a stressful week.

(Though we also got the plot twist of finding out that some of Mr. Ink’s family will be moving back to our city in May, and that sent us on a bit of a tailspin trying to figure things out as they aren’t the most reliable people. It’s sort of like the “next time on Life of Shells” ending to this blog post, as this situation is bound to add some interesting stress and drama to our lives in the upcoming months.)

 

Dangerous

The kids are off school today due to cold. It’s in the negative numbers again and feels like -20 so it was the right decision for the schools. Tomorrow we begin to see a serious upswing in temps again, and it looks like “normal” cold will prevail through the foreseeable future. (The foreseeable future being the 10 day forecast.)

So, today? It’s a sweater feature day. Here’s what I am wearing:

We go back to 2014 for this one, a boxy and buttony sweater featuring dyeabolical yarn and Czech glass buttons. This is perhaps one of my all time favorite sweaters and I wear it quite frequently. It’s made an appearance at work regularly this winter.  It’s so wearable, and the yarn I chose for it also feels fine to wear even without layering. Not at all itchy. So it makes for a great everyday sweater in the winter, not being too warm. On a day like today I can still layer it for extra warmth without feeling bulky at all.

In my sweater clean out and rearrange, I realize that I have sweaters I could be wearing if I’d just…do a little work on them first. I am considering making a pile of the handknits I don’t wear because they need work and then trying to fix the problems they have if possible in order to make them something I actually want to wear. Maybe I’ll make a month of it. A month of repairing handknits. (I’ve got at least a pair of socks to do this with as well.)

Despite the fact that the kids were off school yesterday and today, Miss Butterfly had show choir rehearsal as they’ve another performance on Friday. Despite living less than a block from school it was so cold that I wimped out and drove her there, and drove to pick her up. I usually walk her and take the dog. But, I just couldn’t manage it in the cold, despite feeling like a wimp. I realized last evening that Friday’s performance means taking off work to get her there as it’s pretty darn early. When I picked Miss Butterfly up she said “It’s ok mom, I already made arrangements with M’s mom, I can ride with M that day and you can get me after performance is over.” Well, that’s that! I may complain about teenishness sometimes, but they do seem to be nicely balanced with these moments.

In crafting news, the sleeves of my sweater should be done this week. I divided the sweater body and am now working the back armholes. It feels like it’s moving pretty fast at the moment. And I am still very much enjoying the knit! I don’t know why, I think stockinette should be boring, but it’s not for me right now. It’s perfect. I think it’s the colors. As soon as the second sleeve is finished, I intend to block the sleeves. I have a feeling this is a sweater that will do best blocked prior to assembly.

AND, that’s it from here. I am out. Despite the cold I am having a pretty pleasant week. I love that. I hope your week is looking pleasant too.

 

Starting Again

First of all, I must tell you about my love for my new instant pot. Oh my goodness, yesterday it really shone. Mr. Ink headed to the store and I asked him to pick up extra eggs so I could make hard boiled eggs for my week. They are so great to have around for snacking, for egg salad, and Miss Butterfly actually eats them sometimes too.

When Mr. Ink arrived home, I grabbed a container of eggs and got them started in the instant pot. Then he handed me some potatoes and asked me to make mashed potatoes for dinner. So, I figured I could do those in the pot too. While the eggs were cooking, I peeled potatoes. When the eggs were done, I put them in ice water and got the potatoes into the pot. While the potatoes were cooking I peeled the eggs and got them in the fridge. Mashed the potatoes and we ate dinner. Then I put the remainder of the potatoes in a container for Miss Butterfly to enjoy throughout the week, cleaned the pot, and poured a gallon of milk in there for Miss Butterfly’s yogurt for the week, which was done this morning. Prior to this I would never have attempted all these items in one evening, but that pot makes life so easy.

When I woke up this morning, Mr. Ink got up too and made breakfast. I said to him “Does this signal the beginning of our low carb diet again?” And he said yes. So, I brought the extra loaf of bread in to work to give to my coworker, I think she’ll appreciate it. And I got my brain prepared for low carbing again. To be honest, I wanted to start on Friday but Mr. Ink said he wasn’t done with carbs yet. Now we are starting on a Monday morning and I get to enjoy the associated brain fog that ALWAYS happens for me a few days in. (I guess it’s better than the leg cramps that Mr. Ink gets while he adjusts?) In any case, we’ll try to stay better hydrated this go ’round.

It’s cold here again. 3 when I walked in to work. So, I am wearing a handknit sweater again. Here’s what I am wearing:

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That’s the sweater that was on the needles for years with unfinished sleeves. The one I also ended up ripping the ribbing out and adding a significant amount of length to the body. The too long arms may look a bit ridiculous but they are SOOOO comfortable at work and my hands stay nice and warm. This was also the sweater that started me back on the path to garment knitting after 3 years off. So it’s kind of a big deal. I think what I love the most about this sweater is the handspun details. I mean, sometimes it’s really hard to find a way to use handspun yarn in a garment without spinning large amounts. This was just a 4 oz. skein of 2 ply fingering weight yarn. The main color was two different colored skeins of laceweight yarn held double so it was also a fantastic stash buster.

We have one more day of the super cold weather so I’ll have to pull out another option from the sweater stash.

In other news, Lizzie got to experience chasing a fox out of our yard! That was quite a surprise. I told Mr. Ink about it and wondered what the heck it was doing in the city. I said “Maybe it’s just that cold and it thinks it can find food?” And Mr. Ink said “Do the neighbors still have chickens?”  Why yes, yes they do. This would be a good reason for a fox to find our yard appealing. It also explains why I keep feeling like I am picking up about double the amount of dog waste for the amount Lizzie produces. In any case, the fox can stay as far as I am concerned, maybe he’ll pick off a few of the irritating rabbits while he’s scoping out the hens next door.

That’s all from here! Have a great week!

Will I Ever Learn?

Two “Will I ever learn?” situations for this weekend.

The first, will I ever learn that I miscount when baking bread, always, and that erring on the side of caution is the wisest choice? Yesterday I decided to bake some bread. Mr. Ink had another super hard work day, I think the job is slowly killing his soul and it’s really hard to watch someone go through that and not be able to help. So, I decided to bake his favorite bread. Because comfort food. I KNEW I’d miscounted the amount of flour I was putting in there, but somehow just kept going, gaslighting MYSELF into thinking I really hadn’t miscounted. Naturally, I ended up with extremely dense bread, as it had probably a cup and a half more flour than it needed. Ugh. When will I learn? I do this ALL the time.

When will I learn situation 2. I have a dog now. WHEN will I learn to put my knitting up when I get up from my chair? I consistently set my knitting on my ottoman, despite having a perfectly nice out of the way knitting basket, where Lizzie then, in her excitement and play, runs into it, dragging the knitting and yarn all over the house and getting herself well trussed up in the process. Today I had to chase her down while hollering “SIT LIZZIE!! SIT!  SIT LIZZIE!” and she’s not a very still dog, so she’s still squirming while she’s sitting. I extracted yarn from over her eyes, her muzzle, two hind feet, if she’d gotten any more tangled she’d not have been able to run anymore!

Thankfully no harm done to the knitting itself on it’s fast drag through the house, which was sleeves of the legends of the fall sweater again. I finished the increases today and now I am putting the project away to take to work. I need to knit in 4 more colors and then the sleeves are done. It’ll be a great mindless work lunch project so I am saving it for that and will begin working on the main body of the sweater at home again.

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As you may begin to notice, it snowed here again. I spent a good portion of the morning shoveling with Mr. Ink. While he doesn’t ever request my help, I decided I needed a little out of the house time, and it’s 20 instead of 9, so it feels far more mild today.

I guess that’s about it for me, the weekend has been so quiet that I am venturing into “too quiet” territory and will require a walk myself, much to the happiness of Lizzie I am sure. I am caught up on podcasts, I was reading a book but it’s long and expansive and I haven’t ever been sure I liked it even though I’ve pushed through and am nearing the end. I hold out hope that it could redeem itself. The TV mini series Mr. Ink is turning on from time to time I don’t care for even though it seems like one I should like. I don’t think any of the characters are particularly likable, and though sometimes I love that in a show, this one I do not. I guess if one is not particularly pleased with any entertainments indoors, the solution is to get outdoors!

My Morning

I told Mr. Ink on Thursday “Are you ready for a quiet weekend? Because after show choir, Miss Butterfly will be at her dad’s and we’ll have a quiet weekend.” After my week, and his week which was much much worse than mine, it was needed. Except there were a few wrenches thrown in. First was that he informed me that he had to work. So much for a quiet weekend for him. Then, midday Friday Miss Butterfly’s dad informed us that he had to be out of town for work this weekend. Missing his weekend with her and her first show choir performance.

Well, we did show choir, 5 choirs from our schools performed. I honestly thought it might be tiresome, but it was fantastic! TRULY fantastic. Such great fun. I am so glad my kid is a show choir kid, and watching the high schoolers perform made me thinking “I hope she sticks to this.” She has try outs already for high school show choir at the end of this month.

Miss Butterfly’s stepmom came to her performance too in hopes to record it for her father. After it was over, Miss Butterfly informed me that she had every intention of having a weekend at dad’s even though dad wasn’t home. This surprised both me AND her step mother, who may also been looking forward to a quiet weekend. In the end, the compromise was made that she’d spend until this afternoon with her stepmother. I truly couldn’t be more grateful for her relationship with her stepmom, but I was also surprised at the decision.

So, what does that mean? That means that Lizzie and I are doing Saturday like:

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For real, it’s so quiet in this house right now with no one else in it! It’s super cold outside so it’s not tempting to go out right now, I’ll extra walk Lizzie tomorrow when it’s up to 32F. Right now it’s 9F and my breath catches when I try to breathe. I’ll run her in the house, we’ll play when she starts to feel up for it and that’ll help.

Yesterday morning I realized that to survive all the show choir waiting (Seriously, I have to have her there an hour ahead of time for make up and dress, and then there’s getting decent seats so no time to go home in between but better be sitting in the auditorium seats to save them!) I was going to need a new sock on the needles. I don’t know how I forgot this fact until early Friday morning. It didn’t give me a lot of time. So, I didn’t want to waste time trying to wind a skein into a ball. This meant that I chose the yarn Kathy at Compassionknit sent me in our trade this fall. Conveniently already in proper yarn balls, and with my needles still out from the last set of socks, I set about casting on and getting the ribbing knit prior to the performance. I finished up the ribbing while waiting for the girls to get dressed, chatting with another choir mom the whole time. Then was working on the leg while saving seats for Miss Butterfly’s stepmom and Mr. Ink. By the time the performance was over, I already had 5 inches of sock leg.

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It’s been SUCH a long time since I’ve knit a sock that fast! Now, these little skeins of wonderful workhorse sock yarn are generous. 230 yards each. I think I’ll just knit a real nice long leg on these, maybe even as long as Mr. Ink prefers, to see if I can make the yarn stretch of a Mr. Ink pair of socks. If I cannot, they’ll work just fine as a pair for me or anyone else with slightly smaller feet. If I put the heel in last, I can always use a different yarn for it.

My only regret? You know how when using a striped sock yarn you kind of want to knit and enjoy the color changes? I never got that opportunity here. There was no point at which I was looking at the sock overly much and enjoying it because it was all knit while chatting animatedly with other show choir moms or knit in the dark during the performance. On the other hand, there are a ton more performances coming up, so the opportunity to keep knitting on this, perhaps even finishing it pretty quickly, will be great. And even better? This small oval shaped single sock ball fits perfectly into my smallest purse, so no need at all for a special project bag or anything else. Just shove it into the main purse pocket and I am out the door with entertainment to boot. I am sure Kathy had no clue how perfect this sock yarn would be for this season when she sent it to me, but it really is absolutely perfect.

As for the rest of my knitting, I finished one sleeve of the legends of the fall sweater. I am working on the second one. And it’s nice because I did already begin the second one, giving me the illusion that the sleeve is knit faster than the first. I am not going to lie, I am a bit tired of sleeves right now and am reminding myself that at any point I am welcome to put them down and start a new project or go back to working on the body of the sweater. So far, just reminding myself of this fact is working well enough to keep me after it in between chores. We’ll see how things progress.

In spinning, nothing at all. I am just trying to stay with my goal of doubling my stash knit over stash created, and so far I am way behind. The sweater will help immensely but it’s not done yet, so it doesn’t count yet. This is also the time of year I find that my desire to spin wanes a bit, so I am just working with that.

Stay warm my friends! It’s cold here, and I am having trouble imagining it is warm anywhere else.

First Finished

First finished object of 2018.

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A pair of socks that have been on the needles since July 2017. They are knit too large for my feet so that I can give them away. The yarn is dyeabolical’s we’re all mad here colorway. I did these on 9 inch circs, and just saved them for every time I wanted to knit but couldn’t look at my knitting. Obviously that wasn’t very often since they’ve been sitting around since July, but whatever, they served their purpose.

I’ll cast on the next pair very shortly.

I did finally get the day I was hoping for last evening. I got home, it was 51F out! No sign yet of the impending snowstorm. I took Lizzie on an extra long walk since clearly that was the only thing to do, knowing that the weather was going to be awful today. I don’t know what was going on out there, but she wanted to stop and sniff all the things, and the walk became very long. I did notice tons of other dogs out being walked, and they were acting similarly. So there was clearly something in the air that was making every scent amplified for them. We stayed out in the yard a bit upon my return puttering around it was so nice out.

Miss Butterfly was with her dad and Mr. Ink worked late so despite having quite a few chores, I still had the house to myself and that was extremely pleasant. I did work on the sleeve of my sweater, all the increases are now complete and I am just knitting around and around until 21 inches of sleeve knitting has been achieved.

Due to that storm which was impending, Miss Butterfly has off school today but I am stuck at work. She’s got one million chores to keep her busy. She also decided that because she was off today, she wanted Lizzie to sleep with her last night. She promised to be responsible and get up if Lizzie needed to go out, which she did at 5 am. I didn’t like the idea of not having my dog around, but I’ve stopped thinking in that direction now that I have experienced such a great night’s sleep!

Anyhow, getting a relaxing evening and a good nights rest has gone a very long way in improving my attitude today. I had a sketchy stormy drive in to work, but all the other drivers were being just as careful and logical as I was so even that wasn’t as bad as it could be. No clue when the storm will quit but it would be great if that happened well before I leave today.

The true bonus of today? Due to the storm, our boss said “Yep, wear jeans to work” and so we all did and we are all happy warm and comfortable.

Crazy Little Thing Called…Life

Yesterday I kept telling myself during the work day that all I had to do was hold out and I’d have a nice free evening to decompress, with no problems on my plate. Just home, decompression, some knitting.

I went out at lunchtime to walk Max, Miss Marja’s dog. It’s always such a lovely time with him, he’s happy to see me and I get a break from the work day. But as I left her neighborhood, I heard an awful sound. I knew immediately I’d need to check my tire. Turned back off the main road and found a place to park where I found this:

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Yep, that’s like…the worlds largest bolt in my tire. It made quite the racket when driving. But, the tire seemed to be holding air at that time, so I gave up on the idea of driving to find lunch somewhere, simply hoping to get back on campus and then find out what Mr. Ink wanted me to do about this.

Now, Mr. Ink has been so very busy all year at work. The extreme cold temperatures we experienced brought out every car problem all over the city. He’s working extra hours daily and so is everyone else in that garage. So, it’s not like he could drop everything and come get the car. He was worried that the tire would lose air pressure over the course of the afternoon and I didn’t really like the idea of trying to drive it home with all the racket of that tire anyhow, so I decided best course of action was to see if someone in my area could patch the tire. Well, I called a garage that’s just on the corner of campus, within walking distance, to ask them if they’d be able to fit me in. I was told to bring the car down immediately, which I did. And they had it patched by the end of my work day, and refused to even take my money! I couldn’t believe it!

So, while I really didn’t need the extra headache of this problem, it turned out pretty well in the end, and I did get home not too long after I normally would. It’s just…I am in that place where my brain just doesn’t want to handle anything extra right now, and this was SO EXTRA.

Anyhow, once home I still had enough light to grab a photo of the legends of the fall sweater in progress.

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It’s looking pretty good! I didn’t actually knit on it though, as I wanted to finish a pair of socks. I’ll get a photo of those tomorrow.

After the socks were done, Mr. Ink was trying to get some grocery shopping done after his busy day, and I wandered into Miss Butterfly’s room to check on her. I ended up sitting down and working on her puzzle with her. It’s HARD! She doesn’t love doing puzzles that are that many pieces, I think this one is 750. But she’s making good progress and I helped. Once Mr. Ink came home we took a break to help him put away groceries. Then she actually asked me to work on it with her again until dinner time. Well, when your 13 year old actually wants your company, you comply. So I sat in there until dinner time getting a few more pieces placed. It was not the evening I imagined, but it was a good evening.

Tonight I am again hoping for a good evening. An evening in which there isn’t much going on except walking the dog. An evening where downtime rules. I feel good about it, it could happen this time.