Monday, December 31, 2007
We love the car, but I wasn't prepared for the time commitment involved. We arrived at the dealership at 9:10 a.m. and didn't leave until 2:45 p.m. And we knew what we wanted when we walked in the door!
We each had a piece of pizza at noon, but nonetheless I was experiencing food management issues by the time we finally got out of there. As we were waiting for them to pull the car up to the door, our salesperson, Evan, said "We just have one more thing...it'll only take me five minutes to show you how to operate the radio." I couldn't help myself. I blurted out "No! I swear to G-d in heaven, if I have to stay here one more minute I am hurting somebody! There's a chance it wouldn't be you, but if I were a betting man, I still wouldn't take that bet."
She rides like a dream.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
I have mentioned in these pages that I have a great boss. I do. I have the best. Without a doubt.
I'd like to give you evidence of his greatness.
At the end of 2001 I was working on a huge, pressured anti-trust case at a boutique firm -- one of those firms that prides itself at having a staff smaller that your average Baskin-Robbins but able to take on the behemoth cabbage-demons of the business world. One of the parters, I'll call him Leo, if you don't mind, had always been a little bit crazy, mean, and vindictive. The office story was that he always had to have one person who he hated. And I had become his bitch.
So, we are working this big case. I've been working it for a couple of years and feeling lucky to have a job after the economic and emotional downturn following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Yes, Leo did everything he could to make my life a living hell, but I had a family to support, and I could put up with anything from him.
Then, not unexpectedly, a month or so before trial (but not before I assembled the 10,000+ exhibits we expected to use at trial) all of the bad guys started to settle. The office did well. We negotiated settlements of over a billion dollars for our clients. And the firm received a percentage of that amount, so we are talking about a $100m year for the firm. Visions of Christmas Bonus' danced in my head. I had, after all, had a major role in staffing the case.
So imagine my disappointment when, a couple of days later, the managing partner, I'll call him "Sir", walks into my office and closes the door. He told me that the partners had held their year-end meeting, and that Leo had advocated vociferously for my dismissal.
Sir then said that he wouldn't let him do it -- that he thought I was a good worker and would be glad to have me work on more of his cases. He told me that, in a year where 5 figure bonuses were de rigeur, I would be receiving $1,000 -- and that he had to fight with Leo to get me that. In addition, Leo had insisted that I be moved out of my 32nd floor window office into what had always been (and still was) a file room. A file room not large enough to accommodate a desk, so I had a table. A table I had to climb over to get behind.
Sir told me that I had a choice to make -- I could be unhappy and look to leave, or I could work my way above Leo's enmity and continue with the firm. He said that he believed I could do it. And he hoped I would.
So, I made my decision. I stayed. I moved to the file room, I bore the indignity of Leo's constant hate. I worked for Sir, learning a whole new area of work and getting kinda good at it. We really developed into a team. One of our biggest cases resulted in Sir being out of town four or five days a week for several months at a time. He trusted me to keep the home fires burning, and when people half a world away who created the documents couldn't find them, he would call me and I'd have them to him in an instant. As I said, I got kinda good at what I do.
Then, last February, things kinda fell apart at work. Leo screwed his partners and brought down the firm. My guy, who wasn't one to cut his own deal and screw everyone else, advocated for finding a merger where all the attorneys could go without conflicts. Leo, who wasn't ever raised to think about anyone but himself, said "F**k you all."
The month that the firm was closing down, Leo wasn't around unless he has a meeting at his new firm. He did absolutely nothing to aid in closing up the shop. My guy? Well, my guy was going through his files and throwing out dumpsters of papers. And when he wasn't doing that he was hustling new jobs for his employees -- I could tell that it was eating him up, having people out of a job and not have solid things lined up.
I lined up another job in about 45 minutes. I have skills and they are marketable. But I was miserable. It wasn't going to be working with My Guy. It was a big hit to my psyche. I could hold things together for three or four hours, but then at lunch, rain or shine, I would walk up and down Michigan Avenue bawling like a baby. I must have looked like an absolutely lunatic. Then when the hour was over, I'd pull it together and go back to work, putting things in order for Sir.
When Sir called and told me he had firm offers lined up and asked if I would go with him, I was floored. It was the one thing that none of the other positions could offer me. (Oh, and they offered me a 10% higher salary for working only 90% time! Can you say "Heaven"?)
I just had my first of, I hope, many annual reviews at my new firm. 14% raise. (on top of the earlier increase), and a 13% bonus! And -- I kid you not -- the words "beloved by all" were included in my review. I still get a little teary-eyed when I think about it.
I know that there are a lot of people who don't believe that G-d is involved in our lives. Myfanwe constantly says "Well, G-d could spend a little less time helping Carleen find short-shorts on sale at TJMaxx and use the time to help all those people in Zimbabwe."
I don't know how to reconcile the disconnect, but I do believe G-d has helped me. G-d has been merciful to me. I am happier than I could ever have hoped to be. I have a great wife, a great boy, a lovely home, fine friends, and a job that makes me happy to get up and go to work in the morning.
It does make me feel a little guilty for all those nights I prayed for Leo Fried to choke on a ham sandwich while looking in the mirror. ( I know that sounds mean, but I thought it would be comforting for him to see the person he loved most in the world as he died.) Jerk.
Friday, December 28, 2007
But I'm sad. You see, I sort of promised my wife and my physician that, at the New Year, I would make some diet and lifestyle changes which will, hopefully, result in a healthier me. (I swear, umpteen-thousand dollars spent on high tech brain imaging and neuro-psych evaluations and dog knows what else, and all I have in way of a definitive diagnosis is that I am "morbidly obese". I questioned my doctor..."Morbidly?" asks I. "Oh, yeah" says Doogie Houser, M.D.
Now, he admits that this isn't what is causing my health problems, but I think he figures this dieting and exercise will keep me distracted while he tries to figure the rest of my stuff out at a nice leisurely pace. I would say he is wrong, but one of my problems is memory loss, so I probably will be easily distracted. Could you all remind me to take the wind out of his sales once in a while?
So I have only 5 days left to cook and eat what I wish. (I am NOT starting the dieting shit on my birthday and you can't make me!) I am panicking. After a long internal discussion, I've decided on a devil's food cake with 7-minute-icing for Saturday. My grandmother used to make that for me. And I think on Sunday I will make some hand rolled Chinese dumplings. I love me some potstickers. (I have to make them out of chicken because Myfanwe doesn't allow pork int he house.) Maybe Monday I'll make apple pancakes -- the bigass brown buttery caramel ones from the Original Pancake House! You know the ones. I have a great recipe...I make them just a little less sweet and they are ever so much better. Yum.
And somewhere in my day I am going to have to squeeze in a trip to the gym. And Myfanwe is going to say things like -- no you can't take it out of house cleaning time. You can take it out of knitting time. And then I'll have to hate her for an hour or two because she doesn't even TRY to understand how important knitting is.
Well, you can't say I didn't warn you that this post would be without import. But you read it anyway. Thanks for listening.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Ooh. Did I mention I was on vacation? Yup. I have been since noon last Friday. And I don't go back to work until Wednesday, the 2nd of January. (Which happens to be my 44th birthday!)
Anyway. After administering copious amounts of caffeine -- Excedrin Migraine washed down with strong coffee -- I am at least somewhat relieved of the pain. Not completely relieved, but enough that I can stumble around the house instead of just rocking back and forth on the bed praying for death.
I had been planning to bake some rugellach today, but the idea of doing anything around food makes my head pound more. So that will have to wait for another day.
I did get item of my "To Do" list done. I did this:
My Luna Moth shawl. I didn't realize until I was pinning it out that I hadn't worked in the ends...a serious but not insurmountable mistake. I hate blocking, and I am really quite bad at it. But it is a necessary evil when you knit lace. Overall I'm pleased.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Ich habe Familie noch in Deutschland, obwohl wir nicht in 25 Jahren geentsprochen haben. Meine Familie dort waren Wurst-Hersteller, und ich bilde mein eigenes wurst hier in Amerika, weil es hart ist, wirklich gutes Wurst hier zu finden. (Ich überlasse dem Brauen Fachleute, obwohl!)
Ich sollte vermutlich hier über, wie das Internet die Welt kleiner gebildet hat, oder möglicherweise etwas sagen etwas, das profund ist über, wie Stimmung allgemeinhin ist. Aber wirklich, möchte ich mich rühmen, wie mein Sohn spaetzle und Kohl liebt! Mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut. Ich mußte Hälfte von ihnen oben schauen. Verzeihen Sie mir bitte.
Ein gutes neues Jahr. Gott segnen Sie.
*My careful reading of my StatCounter stats indicate that a large number (2) of my readers hail from Germany. Three years of high-school German and an internet translator make me feel qualified to address them in their native tongue.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
My friend Nancy's mom and dad, Beverly & Vince, are in town for a few days, and I wanted to do something to mark their visit. You see, Beverly and Vince host us every year for Passover at their home in Toledo. They are our family now -- we couldn't possibly love them more if we were related by blood.
So I asked Nancy if, while here parents were here, I could whip up a little dinner, just for the family, so that I could repay in some small measure their kindness and hospitality. Since both Beverly and Vince are from the South, I decided to put put together a menu of Southern comfort food.
To start, I made a couple hundred cheese straws -- lovely crisp cheesy crackers heavily spiced with cayenne which go well with every sort of cocktail imaginable. (And pretty damn well with a glass of milk -- Norbert's favorite beverage!)
A salad dressed with a garlic vinaigrette and blue cheese will follow, then chicken and dumplings -- the rolled dumplings, not the drop biscuit kind. (Yankees drop biscuits on top -- Southerners roll out their dumplings.) I like my chicken and dumplings with carrots and peas cooked in the broth, and with lots of mushrooms!
Then comes the most important part of the meal:
Three layers of coconut scented cake, filled with lemon curd, then frosted with 7-Minute-Icing and topped with coconut. Yummmm!
And I don't want you to get the wrong idea. On Christmas Day we will do what Jews across the country are sure to do. We will see a movie and go out for Chinese.
For Christians, Happy Holidays! My Muslim readers, I hope and pray your Eid was filled with peace. And for my Jewish readers, Try the mooshoo. Yum.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Anyway, having checked a few web sites, I decided to order the book from Borders, because I could pick it up in the store and not pay for shipping. (And I always have coupons, so I could save some money!)
BIG MISTAKE. Borders sucks.
Today I called to see if they could tell me when they thought the book would come in, and, after getting passed around a few times, I was told by the woman who does the ordering that she had determined last week that she couldn't order the book and had canceled the order. But hadn't calle me or e-mailed me or written me a letter or any of the other things that might have been confused for customer service. Her response? "Sorry. We're busy."
Amazon.com had the book. I ordered it. Their postage wasn't bad and they ship pretty quickly. But don't forget...Borders sucks. If there is a lesson to be learned from this experience, it would have to be that Borders sucks.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
I literally was sewing on buttons while Myfanwe curled her hair for the party. But, thank Bob*, I got it done and it fits! Or at least it LOOKS like it fits! I think we will have to wait until February to find out for sure!
An interesting note about the buttons. When my father, z"l, passed away, one of the things my brother Mark gave me was Pop's button tin. It was obvious that my dad had never thrown a button away in his life. And he had cut a number of buttons off of my mom's old clothes and from the five kids, as well. I treasure it, and dole out its contents as if distributing gold. The five shell buttons came from Pop's stash -- a sure sign of how much I love and treasure the baby's moms.
* My Ravelry friends will know who Bob is...and I will write more about the new knitters holiday, Bobmas Eve, closer to the April 10th celebration. (Bobmas Eve is traditionally celebrated by getting together for food and libation and exchanging stash! Can I get a Woot! Woot!)
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I don't have any pictures of Michael, save for those which live on in my brain, but I think I can describe him so that you'll get the general idea of what Michael was like.
I met Michael when we were both working for Paul Simon's presidential campaign in 1986/87. We were roommates for the entire time we worked together. Michael was tall, thin, and almost always laughing. He had bright, piercing, deepset eyes -- very expressive...full of fire. He was an idealist, and he was smart. Really, really smart.
Michael was the biggest sissy and also one of the biggest hypochondriacs I ever met. I'm not saying he didn't have real physical ailments -- he did -- but he traveled with an old-lady Samsonite make-up bag full of medicines and other cures. If you had a sinus headache, Michael could diagnose and provide. If you had a migraine, he just might have a couple of Darvocets or a Caffergot. I seem to recall, after checking into the only hotel in a small town, him pressing 2 Valium into my hand and saying they would make the roaches less scary. Which they did.
When the Simon campaign ended, he went home to Iowa and I went home to Springfield, Illinois. We talked rather frequently on the phone. I loved picking up the phone and hearing his voice -- I knew that I'd be laughing non-stop for the next half hour.
Michael was a very visible face in the struggle for Gay & Lesbian civil rights in Iowa. He was a gay rights advocate before being a gay rights advocate was cool. He lobbied tirelessly for gay rights -- he was three feet smarter than any legislator he ever encountered and I know that even people who didn't agree with him had to admire his intellect.
He believed in love desperately. Not just that torrid, sweaty sheet love. He love his friends fiercely and was tremendously loyal.
One day in 1994 his calls stopped. I tried calling, but his phone was disconnected and no forwarding information was available. I missed him something fierce. He was such a wonderful friend.
I never stopped thinking about him or missing him or looking for him, and finally, in 2002 or so, I had free access for a day to a Lexis database, so I typed in his name, and I found him. Or at least his obituary. He had died, just about the time I lost track of him, of complications of diabetes.
I miss him. He was a spectacular friend. He made the world a better place. What a loss to the world. He was a world-changer. I hope that Michael -- wherever his energy has taken him -- can sense my love, respect, and grief. And, wherever you are, Michael -- save a Valium for me!
Sunday, December 09, 2007
I, however, am not. Because I am not knitting for the holidays this year.
That does not mean that I am not knitting. Nor does it mean that I am not stressed. In some instances, I am knitting for LAST year's holidays.
I have yet to block the shawl I knit for my sister-in-law. I knit this for her because I didn't knit anything for her last year. It's KNIT, it just isn't blocked.
I am a third of the way through a Baby Surprise Sweater which I cast on and worked on in August, but haven't made a stitches progress on since then. The baby shower is next Sunday. Hmmmm. I wonder if I'll make it.
The Swallotail which I really had wanted to give to my friend Nancy weeks ago is stuck about 5 pattern repeats from the end of the first chart. It is BEAUTIFUL, but it doesn't want to be knit.
I haven't touched it in weeks because I made a mistake on it months ago and now every time I fix the mistake, I knit five rows before finding another mistake...five rows back. I feel like friggin' Penelope, without the entourage.
And then, as if you didn't already know that I am a big, fat idiot, I ordered some cobweb cashmere/silk from ColourMart.com. GEORGEOUS stuff...in a light olive. This stuff is soft as a new baby's scrotum. And at $34 for 2500 yards, postage (from Britain) included, the price can't be beat.
Anyway, I swatched a couple of shawls and I didn't like any of them, so I just cast on a few stitches -- without a plan -- and started knitting. LOTS of knitting...LOTS of stockinette. It just seemed to WANT TO BE stockinette. And it is so light and dreamy and happy...knitting with cashmere is like ...ummm...well...like...never mind. Myfanwe doesn't like it when I blog dirty.
Anyway, somewhere in the back of my mind, the plan has been to pick up stitches along the edges and knit a patterned border. It was only recently that I realized I had a) never done anything like that, b) really had absolutely no idea how to plan a border, work the math involved, or c) what books were out there to help idiots -- I mean people -- like me learn the skills necessary to plan and execute a nice border.
I am ashamed of myself.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Myfanwe. Norbert. Nancy. Ben. Phil. Margie. David. Aaron. Leora. Chuck. Sheri. Chuck. Shari. Bob. Judy. Ron. Helen. Jessica. Joanna. Dennis. Laurie. Sean. Michelle. Kate. Batsy. Conor. Mark. Paulette. Alicia. Yonkel. Stella. Mitzi. Marco. Lego. Steph. Stefi. Larry. Lena. Abi. Samantha. Jan. Bob. Brenda. Naomi. David. Renee. David. Janet. David. Anne. Ethan. Ezra. No Pie. Barbara. ‘Lil Myfanwe. Gale.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
How did I come to such a conclusion? Well, aside from my mother telling me, like, a billion times how I was fat and lazy and stupid and would never amount to anything, I was aided in coming to this conclusion by fruitcake.
I love fruitcake. I won't listen to anyone who knocks it. I am completely biased. I love fruitcake. I feel privileged that Myfanwe and I have reached a level of monetary comfort that we are able to afford dried fruit, which ain't cheap, let me tell you! Every year I read Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory", cry a little bit, then start baking. Oh, yes. I love fruitcake.
Every evening, after the dishes are washed and the kitchen tidied, I like to pull on some comfy jammies, brew a pot of tea, kick back in the recliner and knit. In the autumn and winter, I augment this ritual with a few slices of fruitcake. This is as close to paradise as I can get without a city-crippling snowstorm and a wood-burning fire.
As I may have mentioned in a post or two, this has been a busy autumn for me. But each weekend I have made a batch of fruitcake. Lovely fruitcakes. From three recipes, so far. Because I love all fruitcake.
Fruitcake is, if you don't already know, rather easy in the making, but tedious in the preparation. Most recipes are very specific -- butter the tins, line them with brown paper or parchment, then butter the brown paper or parchment. Cutting and fitting the paper takes something like eleventy-three hours per batch.
Well, the third recipe I made this year came from a very reputable source. I'm not naming names. This recipe instructed the baker only to grease the tins. Sweet Mother of Liver Sausage! I had been waiting for a recipe like this! I was so happy, I decided to bake a double batch! I greased the tins well with my own little hands -- a task I learned at my grandmother's knee. I thought about lining the tins with parchment, but the recipe didn't require it, and it saved me tons of time. What the hell!
I made a few minor variations, including substituting espresso for the prescribed apple juice or water -- I like my fruitcake dark and complex -- not just sweet. But no alterations that would affect the consistency of the final product. They baked beautifully,exiting the oven with a lovely sheen and a delicious aroma. I brushed them with a boiled rum syrup, let it soak in while they cooled for a few minutes, then tipped the cakes out of their tins.
And three of them stuck. %#$@!
I did the best I could to patch them back together, trying to use rum syrup as glue, but it is obvious that these are the crippled children of the fruitcake world. I don't think they will stand up to slicing, even if refrigerated. (Tip: If you want thin slices of fruitcake, refrigerate it before slicing.) I'm so sad.
All this could have been avoided if I hadn't been stupid and lazy.
So now, dear Readers, if indeed I have any readers after my confession here, please answer me this: Do you have any idea what kind of a dessert I could make with 4 pounds of crumbled fruitcake? I can't bear to waste it...that would be a sin.
Did I mention I love fruitcake?
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Hello. My name is Aidan, and I like snow.
In fact, I am happiest when there is a foot and a half of snow on the ground. Nothing is as certain to raise my spirits as a meteorologist's prediction of a blizzard. I become almost giddy.
Living in the city, as I do, one must learn to live with a certain amount of noise -- traffic, people, sirens, car alarms. I've learned to block out background noise to a certain extent.
But there is this moment, when it is snowing. I turn off all the lights in the front of our condo and I stand in the sun room and I watch the snow fall, illuminated from behind by the street lights. I open the window -- cold though it may be -- and I listen to the sound of the snow. I can't describe it well, but it sounds like peace. And I will stand in that sun room for the longest time, watching the sparkling snow fall, listening to the quiet city...it is as close to magic as I have experienced.
So as others dread the oncoming winter, as others bemoan the drop in temperatures, as local news anchors scream into the camera "Oh, No! It's going to SNOW! We're all going to die!" Well, you will find me standing in the dark in my sun room, expectant.
Friday, November 16, 2007
I enjoy reading your blog. I am located in Alden, NY which is just outside of Buffalo. There aren't a whole lot of knitting shops around and the few that I have gone to didn't even know about the knitting community on the web. In fact, I knit a clapotis a year or so ago and the lady at the yarn shop didn't know what it was!
Since I don't really have any knitting friends, finding all the knitting blogs and places to buy yarn on the web has been great. The only problem is trying not to spend a fortune!
My husband is pretty tolerant of my knitting habit considering I have a tendency to go a little overboard. When I really started to get into knitting seriously he was like 'Why don't you just finish one thing before you start another?' HA HA HA He obviously doesn't understand!
I really admire your lace knitting. I have bought a few patterns and some yarn, but haven't really been brave enough to try them yet. I made a PI shawl using different patterns for my Aunt who has been battling cancer. It didn't really come out right, but the yarn was so beautiful, I think she liked it anyway.
I especially enjoy knitting socks since they're so portable. But, I've dabbled in a lot of different things from mittens, to summer sweaters, baby booties and hats.
I have a few friends expecting babies to knit for so I am hoping to try the Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket. I'm having a hard time finding the pattern. I don't really want to spend $30 for the book. I probably won't start them until after the holidays.
BTW, there are a few pictures of me on my flickr site.
It was nice hearing from you!
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I just read your blog post about friends on Ravelry - I really like your approach to trying to get to know people beyond just clicking the "Add to my Friends" button.
So, in the spirit of your post, I'm not just adding you to my friends tonight, I'm telling you a little bit about me so you don't have to wonder who this crazy person adding you to their friends list is. ;-)
We've actually met very briefly once, about a year ago at Franklin's Dulaan gathering (Don't worry, I don't expect you'd remember me!). I still think about the mac and cheese you made. I'm a composer and college professor here in Chicago. I'm married to a fabulous guy who does most of the cooking in our relationship and who only occasionally questions the state of the yarn stash. We have a slightly neurotic but totally awesome border collie named Jake. When I'm not teaching/composing/performing (I'm also a French horn player), I'm knitting (of course), watching independent movies and documentaries, and occasionally embracing my inner rock goddess by going out and singing karaoke.
Yikes. Hope that wasn't more than you wanted to know. ;-)See you around the Rav! Emmdy
Doesn't she sound lovely?
Someday, when I've won the kabillion dollar lottery and bought my little island off the coast of Scotland, I'm going to invite Emmdy to my knitting weekends...and ask her to bring the tunes. I'm not sure if karaoke fits in with my dreams of firesides and teapots, but I bet you can come up with a few Clevinger recordings...maybe the Mozart four horn concertos?
I've been spending much more time than is decent learning the many and storied Secrets of Ravelry -- the Skull and Bones of the Knitting Universe. (Only Ravelry isn't a secret. And I don't think they'll let George Bush in unless he brings home the troups and learns to knit.)
Ravelry is truly amazing...so much to see, so many projects to admire, so much yarn to drool over, so much to talk about, so many new people to meet and get to know. I honestly don't know what I did with myself in the 43 years before Bob and his crew started Ravelry!
One wonderful part of this new knitting environment (besides being able to socialize in my boxers) has bee making Friends. Knitting Friends. Ravelry Friends.
The people on Ravelry are quite friendly, you see. I've made so many, I thought it was best to try to get to know them in an organized way. So I've started e-mailing them and asking them to write me a paragraph that tells me something about them -- a paragraph I can share with my peeps via this blog. And I got my first response from...
I used to be in the Chicagoland area, and miss it. Currently I am having trouble typing (and knitting) because I have a bandaid on my left index finger. One of my cats pegged my finger really well with his claw while we were playing. Currently they are running in circles around me - every once and awhile the little one stops to chase her tail. That's pretty much my life - cats and insanity that stops when I bite myself. Except I don't have a tail, so you can imagine how that ends.
I help build things like giant whale models for museums as a living.
Wow! She builds giant whales. That is sooooo cool. I wonder if she would make me one for my birthday? Oh, better not hint. Where would I put it, after all.
So if you run across Blueyedwench on Ravelry, be sure to introduce yourself and feel free to mention my name.
Gotta run. Ravelry is calling.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Aside from working brutal hours, meeting every deadline, and managing not to call f***heads, well, f***heads, not much.
Today I met a major deadline. Actually, I came in 24 hours early. My boss leaves Saturday for 9 days in New Mexico, so it had to be done Friday. And I had plans for tonight, so I didn't want to have to work. So I just opened a can of whoopass, and it got done!
Tonight's plans weren't exciting -- I cooked and Myfanwe and I tried to create some order in our chaotic home before the cleaning lady comes tomorrow. (I am always afraid that the cleaning lady, who doesn't speak 5 words of English, goes home on Friday and talks about what pigs we are.)
We are having 15 people for Shabbat dinner tomorrow night. (I swear, when I planned this dinner, I must have been temporarily insane.) In the past we have had to limit guests to 7, because our dining table only seats 10. So we went out and bought two folding banquet tables at Target. Set at each end of the big table like a capital I, they increase the seating to 18. Woo hoo! The tables will come in handy for Thanksgiving and Rosh Hashanah, as well. (Does anyone need a place for Thanksgiving dinner?)
Even with the extra hours, I managed to knit two rows on the Swallowtail Shawl every night...until tonight. I had to clean. But Saturday and Sunday I will knit six rows each, I promise. I think I only have 18 rows of the main body of the shawl left -- then the lily of the valley border, which will be a nice change. I hope to have it done for my friend Nancy's birthday in January.
Must go. Must sleep. Later!
Sunday, November 04, 2007
I try to get home in time to have a pot of tea and knit a couple of rows on the Swallowtail Shawl. Two rows is really all I get time for before falling into bed. I haven't had time to block the Luna Moth Shawl, but I plan to soon. Er, after Thanksgiving.
It's not as bad as it sounds. My boss is appreciative of my hard work, I am leading a big project, and we are producing thousands of documents a week -- we are actually making document productions Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week. (Any paralegals out there will recognize this as a brutal schedule!) I'm pretty good at what I do, and I like the opportunity to prove my worth once in a while.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, touting his past accomplishments as mayor of New York City while on the campaign trail in New Hampshire.
Eeeeew. First he married his cousin, then he licked New York porn...what next...teabagging with Liza Minelli? Excuse me... I have to go wash my mind out with soap.
Friday, October 26, 2007
And just so you don't think I've gone soft, the first thing I did after casting off the last stitch was to cast 40 stitches on to swatch the Colourmart 65/35 Cashmere Silk yarn. It is the thinnest yarn I've ever worked with...and it is softer than Newt Gingrich during the Viagra strike.
I have to be up early again tomorrow...I'm going to work in the morning. My boss has placed a lot of trust in me, and I take that responsibility seriously. I may have to work Sunday morning, as well, but we'll see how far I get on Saturday. I'm a little stressed and a whole lotta tired, but if you hear me complain about my job, just know it is the stress and exhaustion talking. I love my job and I wouldn't trade it for the world. If I were to win the lottery, I'd keep my job. I like it that much.
Good night, dear friends. Sleep well. Dream of me. Or of me having a torrid affair with Allison Janney. (My wife says it would be ok with her. My wife, not Allison Janney.)
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Work has gotten really busy. Not a lot of spare time to play with. But I have managed to get a little knitting in.
I have two rows left on the Luna Moth shawl -- the edging row and the bind off. I'm very excited about that. I hope tonight I will get home at a decent enough hour that I can get at least ONE of them knit.
I have hit a rough patch on the Swallowtail. I'm going to have to tink back about 4 entire rows. I hate tinking lace. But I really don't have much choice.
I ordered and received 2500 yards of cobweb weight 70/30 cashmere/silk cobweb weight lace yarn. I haven't really a clue yet what I am going to do with it. It is so soft and beautiful, and its light olive color is very elegant. I could probably double strand it and knit a Shetland triangle shawl. Single stranded might send me over the edge. Though it would be SO beautiful. I don't know. I'll have to think about it. Any suggestions?
Oops -- my 5 minutes is up. Back to the grindstone. Ta!
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The train on my second trip was PACKED. Every seat sold out. Apparently there was some conference of workers in a state agency. It was FULL.
The seat next to me was taken by a rather disheveled young man who smelled a little bit like sweat and whose carry on luggage consisted of a 12-pack of Old Milwaukee in a messenger bag and a DVD player. After the first beer he smelled like a combination of a locker room and a bar floor. I decided to take my knitting to the cafe car and have myself a little cranberry juice...and a little fresh air.
Now here is where the trip got fun. I was sitting there, knitting, enjoying the space when a woman slipped into the seat across the table from me. I looked up a little surprised. She spoke first, laughing a little bit as she said, "I know who you are!"
"You do?" I asked.
"You're NOT Franklin!"
Her name was either Marnie or Marlie -- I'm a little hard of hearing -- and she doesn't have a blog, but she reads them. She is still waiting for her Ravelry invite, she works for the State of Illinois, and she was sitting with her boss, so she couldn't spend much time. She promised that she would friend me once she got her Ravelry invite.
So there you have it. I officially got recognized in public. She knew my name and didn't mistake me for Franklin. (Not that that is a bad thing...unless you are Franklin...who hasn't spoken to me much since that trashy girl in clip clops confused him the the gigantic 400 pound Jewish guy who makes Kelly Osbourne look positively ruddy.) Never mind. Now that I have a public, I'm going to hire a publicist. And a body guard. And a personal trainer. And maybe a stylist.
And a personal assistant...someone to call in and reserve Booth #1 at the Pump Room. Lord knows, a person of my stature shouldn't be doing that personally.
Good night, sweet Marnie (Mardie?), wherever you are!
Friday, October 12, 2007
So I'll post.
This hasn't been a great week. Nothing tragic, everyone is healthy (ptht, ptht, ptht), but just not great. Saadia: you wanted a post. I'm sorry this is the post you are getting.
Last Saturday i left home early to drive to Springfield to finish going through my mom's stuff with my brother's Mark and Dennis. Long story short, my engine light went off before I even got out of town, and $320 and 2 hours later I was back on the highway. This not inexpensive repair got me all the way to 25 miles outside of Springfield before it happened again. This time I spent 2.5 hours in an un-air conditioned car in the mid-day, 92 degree heat. Even with the AAA card, the tow cost me another $100.
The car was towed to the dealership in Springfield after service was closed, so there was no hope of the car being seen until Monday. I called in to work for Monday, which was good, because I woke up at 3:30 a.m. Monday morning with a terrible migraine.
I don't think I mentioned that Monday was Columbus Day. And in Springfield, this is the worst day of the mechanic's year. Every state worker makes an appointment to take their car in for service on Columbus Day.
So when it became obvious that my car wouldn't be ready until later in the week, I booked a seat on Amtrak ($50) and took the train home Monday evening. They called Tuesday to say that they had driven the hell out of the car and it was driving fine. Yeah. Like kids, the damn car won't perform when you ask it to.
So, with their assurances that it was working fine, I took the train down Thursday night (another $50), and spent a few hours peacefully knitting on the Swallowtail shawl. I made great progress. I also made a mistake several rows back and have to tink back. Sweet Frozen Niblets!
So -- Thursday night I spent another night at my brothers -- I think he's getting sick of me -- loaded the car full of photos from my mom, and set off for home. On my way out of town I picked up 2 dozen Mel-O-Cream donuts as an offering for my office.
35 miles outside of Springfield the engine light came on again and the car shuddered a little. I freaked out. I got off the highway at Atlanta, Illinois and headed to Mattingly's (sp?) service, where I waited 45 minutes for the garage to open. The guys there were SO nice. (And the dog, whose name was Mopar, I think, dispensed some much needed doggy-kissing medicine.) They ran diagnostics and got back error codes they'd never seen before. They pronounced the car healthy enough to drive to the nearest dealership -- about 30 minutes away -- and refused payment. So I left them a dozen Mel-O-Cream donuts in gratitude.
I drove to the dealership, and they, too, performed a bunch of diagnostic stuff. And they re-set my radio, which had stopped working. They reset the automotive computer. And they told me I need to have the air-bag computer completely replaced. ($300 - $400 just for the parts.) And they said it was fine to drive. They refused payment and I left the other dozen Mel-O-Cream donuts. (I would bite the head off of a Rabbi for a caramel long john!) I made it to work only 3 hours late...on a day I was only scheduled to work 31/2 hours.
So the way I add it up, this trip will end up costing me $1000 -- and I don't have so much as ball of lace yarn or a caramel iced donut to show for it. And I have 5 rows of lace to tink back.
This was the week the universe decided to stir the turd.
You asked for it, Saadia.
(P.S. Today was Myfanwe's garage sale. I made enough with my split that I can order some Cashmere/Silk blend from ColourMart. Wooo Hooo!
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
I dutifully tinked back three rows of lace. I began, apprehensively at first, to move forward. And again the right hand needle slipped out of the stitches like...well, I'm not going to tell you like what. The reference that comes to mind involves Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson and this is a family blog...today.
Anyway. This time I was sort of expecting it and I managed to regain my position without loosing any ground. I finished the row and I put a lifeline in place. Whew.
That pitfall has been avoided, but it is clear to me that the piece has gotten to a point where the weight of the fabric is not liking the lace needles. I'm afraid, however, to switch, mid-project, to something less slippery -- say, bamboo -- for fear of screwing up my gauge.
It's funny -- when I WANT the yarn to move, such as onto the circular needle to be knit, it resists like a 10-year-old boy being dragged towards bath water. When I DON'T want the yarn to move, it suddenly starts doing the macarena. (Let me say, though, that I LOVE this yarn. It has a natural luster that just can't be described.) Any suggestions?
Monday, October 01, 2007
Eighteen or so stitches before the end of the row / pattern repeat, my right-hand needle slipped out of the stitches and I lost, at least momentarily, half a dozen or more stitches.
No amount of futzing put things right. I now have at least three rows to tink back. I am bereft.
I put it aside for a day or two. I've got the Luna Moth Shawl back into forward motion again, so I think I'll finish the remaining thirty rows and have done with it before returning to the Swallowtail.
So sad. It was looking so beautiful. What if I can't ever get it right? Why, oh why didn't I put a lifeline in earlier?
Thursday, September 27, 2007
I thought I was sumpin', let me tell you! Uninterrupted time to knit without feeling guilty! Unheard of!
Until I picked up my knitting. I had knit about 8 stitches when I knew something was wrong. I was off. So I tinked back a row, counted, and everything looked fine. Then I knit it again, and I came up with the wrong number of stitches. I did this several times. Always the wrong number of stitches.
Finally, at 9 p.m., as my head was about to explode, I ended the row and had exactly the right number of stitches! I was ecstatic! I really had been working on this for hours! So I decided to knit the next row so I could go to bed knowing I had made at least some progress today.
Half way through the row I realized that I had forgotten the requisite purl (ws) row and would have to tink back. &#%$!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
"NO!" the knitter yelled back, "IT'S A SCARF!"
Monday, September 24, 2007
Given the gauge, I'm probably going to add an additional 5 or 10 repeats of this introductory pattern. After this comes a Lily of the Valley pattern that ends in scalloped lace edging. I'm very excited...of course, that's before I've actually encountered a nupp. I've heard that they are difficult...but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
I have absolutely everything I need. Everything. I am well fed, I have a great job, a wife and son who love (wife) or tolerate (son) me. I have a lovely home, good pans, sharp knives, and food is plentiful. My stash -- though not large -- is full of lovely yarns. Our water is clean. My health is decent. I have access to some of the best doctors in Chicago. b G-d has been very, very good to me.
That said, I am still incredibly greedy and have a list of some things I want. Please feel free to print off, photocopy, and distribute. I'm providing links where possible.
1. A 6 burner stove. This is the big-ticket. I dream about it. A lot.
2. A ball winder. I know -- it's WAY high end, but it's like a BMW -- smooth and sexy.
3. Cashmere and silk lace yarn. In Eau de Nil. And Terracotta. (I'll knit two shawls, thank you very much.) What a joy that would be.
4. Addi Lace Turbo circulars -- in every size. Oh, wouldn't that make life so much easier!
5. I'd like to take Norbert to Europe. It is the one area of his education where I feel I have failed. I want to take him to Ireland and France and Greece.
6.A large collection of folk music..50's and 60's stuff mostly.
7. I want to have more money so I could afford to give away more. I know plenty of people my age who don't think philanthropy is a responsibility for this generation. But I think that it is both a practice which must be developed over time, and that everyone should do their part.
8. I wish so very much that I could afford to fly Myfanwe to New York so that she could go to one of those famous bra shops to be properly fitted for and actually purchase bras that fit and are comfortable.
9. I want someday to own a little land just barely out of town where I can keep chickens. I would escape there weekly and bake cakes and eat omelets and fried egg sandwiches.
10. I would like, just once, to walk into a clothing store like Hugo Boss or other high-end designer and not have to worry about be treated with respect. Fancy places don't like fat people. Oh, I would love to have a well made suit...and a blue blazer.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Kwiky is thinking of knitting the same shawl. I can't wait for the pattern to arrive so I can cast on!
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Anyway, I've been wanting Galina Khmeleva's book "Gossamer Webs Design Collection", and we were driving right by, so I asked Norbert if we could stop in at Chix With Stix, a yarn shop in Forest Park, right next to Oak Park. It was fine with him.
I could instantly tell that this was not going to be a good visit. There were three women sitting at a table knitting and talking, and when we walked in the door, they fell silent. I strolled over to the books and startled looking when a woman came up to me and asked me, "Are you looking for something?" Not "Good afternoon. How can I help you?" or "Is there anything I can help you find?"
I told the woman what I was looking for, and she said "We don't have that." Then -- I kid you not -- she turned, walked away, and sat down at the table and picked up her knitting. She didn't ask "Can I recommend 'A Gathering of Lace'?" or "What kind of a shawl are you interested in knitting?"
Norbert wanted to buy some orange baby alpaca that he thought would make a great scarf for Myfanwe, but I didn't want to spend any money there.*
While walking to our car from the AIDS Walk today, I mentioned this to Myfanwe, who has heard me recount similar experiences at several other shops in the past. While I was firmly convinced that this rude behavior was certainly because of prejudice against men who knit, my wife suggested that maybe it wasn't gender bias and that maybe the sales people just didn't like me.
I said, in response, "These sales people didn't even know me!"
Her reply? "Lots of people who don't know you, don't like you."
I couldn't really argue with her.
*I ended up ordering the book used from Amazon.com. I'll take Norbert by Loopy Yarns sometime soon to look for some yarn for his stash. They like boys.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Anyway, I will have to keep this quick. I have to work tomorrow.
The food for the bat mitzvah went over beautifully. Everything tasted divine. I make an incredible kugel, and the chocolate fountain was a lot of fun. I still don't feel like I've caught up on my sleep though, because I woke up the morning after the bat mitzvah party and it suddenly popped into my head that I had people coming over for Rosh Hashanah dinner last night and I hadn't cleaned, planned, or even thought about it.
I pulled it off. Never fear.
I am about 25% of the way into the Luna Moth stole. I am enjoying it -- thought it hasn't been without it's frogging moments. I don't know why I am incapable of knitting lace if anyone is in the room...or the telephone rings (irregardless of whether or not I actually answer the phone)...or the upstairs neighbor farts, or someone turns on classical music. I swear, I loose all ability to read a pattern, count to 7, or any of the other skills I need to knit lace. I've put a lifeline in since this pic was taken...I started to worry about what could happen to it.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
at this lovely site, which I found while perusing that Demon Ravlery. I tried not to buy any. I really did. As tempting as it was, I navigated my little self away several times. I just walked away, humming Eartha Kitt's "Get Thee Behind Me Satan" to myself and reminding myself that the first step is to admit I am powerless over lace yarn and that my stash has become unmanageable.
And then -- also on Ravelry -- I saw the Luna Moth Shawl:
The detail shot was even better!
Then I started thinking about how lovely that shawl would be in silver silk. About then I must have blacked out, because the next thing I know, there is a receipt in my e-mail for 2 cones (2500 yards) of heavy laceweight silver silk yarn.
I'm trying to figure out if there is some way I can blame this on my wife.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
It was a glorious success.
We stayed in a little (4 bedroom) cottage in Southwestern Michigan. This is the view of the woods from the dining room. The view from the other rooms looks basically the same. And yet we are only a short walk down a private road to a lovely private beach on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan.
This has been a very wet summer we can remember in the 15 years we've been staying here, and almost all of the woodlands around us are back-dune wetlands at the present time. The mosquitoes are worse they have ever been. And water seems to have gotten into the phone lines, giving all communication and very loud crackle and preventing even the most rudimentary (i.e. dial up) internet connection.
This was difficult for me. I discovered that a laundromat in town (5 miles) offered free wifi. You could see me at odd hours, parked outside the laundromat, checking my e-mail on my laptop. That presented its own problems, since apparently my laptop battery only holds 10 minutes worth of power now. As Roseanne Roseannadana would say, "If it isn't one thing, it's another."
I'M IN! I'M IN! I'M IN!
Just call me LaceWeightGuy.
My Ravelry invitation came in the mail whilst I was away. Thank Bob! I thought it would never arrive. But it has, and it is absolutely everything I had hoped. And almost none of the things I had feared! I've already identified several lovely projects I can't wait to start!
If you are already in Ravelry, will you be my friend?
Has anyone knit the Kiri shawl? I can't, for the life of me, understand the cast on and setup instructions. I'd be much obliged.
NOW I DUCK OUT AGAIN.
I am cooking the food for the bat mitzvah of a dear friend/neighbor next Saturday. They are expecting 200 people, and I'm not exactly what you would call prepared. Oh, and I forgot to get help, and most of the people who assist with prep are out of town. So I probably won't have time to blog/knit/read/sleep or do anything else until after the bat mitzvah. And then, after a day of solid sleeping, I expect to be back to normal.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
We started with a Bride and Groom...
We had some vows...lovely vows written by the Bride and Groom.
The wedding was at Lincoln Memorial Gardens in Springfield, Illinois -- a lovely setting on Lake Springfield. Lots of wildflowers. The weather could not have been more cooperative. After the ceremony, the new couple went to the Illinois State Fair and went down the Giant Slide together. A rather accurate metaphor for marriage.
Then we had some cake. Oh, there was other food, but let's cut to the chase. There was cake.
My favorite niece, Kate, was back from a year in Thailand just in time for her brother's wedding. She will be living close to me, so I will get to shower her with baked and knitted goods.
Her mother, my SIL,Laurie, was there. She raised four really incredible children -- all of them good at heart and quick of mind. I am in awe of her.
My brother, Dennis, was there, along with my favorite niece, Betsy. Betsy and Kate sang at the wedding. They are both talented and accomplished vocalists. And they sound so lovely together -- Kate's soprano blends so well with Betsy's warm alto.
The next day we took Norbert to the Illinois State Fair where we spent much time in the Dairy Building in the company of the famous Butter Cow. And the Butter Calf. And this year there was the Butter Girl, the Butter Dog, the Butter Owl, the Butter Snake and the Butter Books. All in all a rich experience. Get it? Butter...rich...
Anyway -- while at the Fair we got to spend some quality time with my brother, Mark, and his wife, Paulette. I love this picture, and it sure proves G-d knew what he was doing when he gave my mother five boys...'cuz Mark makes about the uglies little girl I have ever seen.
Before we left, I cast on for a modified Kimono Shawl using a light lace weight from Knitpicks. On Friday, before the rehearsal dinner, Myfane, Norbert and I went the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. While sitting in a theater waiting for a movie to start, I realized I had cast on the wrong number of stitches...and knit a dozen rows. So I quickly designed a shoulder shawl in my head and kept knitting. The image above is my rudimentary drawing of the shape. (I feel SOOOOO 21st Century.) I think it will be beautiful. I'll keep you posted.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
And then, as if on cue, my cell phone rang.
It was the babysitter, letting me know that Norbert had been playing outside on his scooter, hit a crack in the sidewalk, and had fallen ass over teakettle.
When we picked him up, he looked scraped, but fine. When we got home, I went to apply neosporin and determined that a cut under his lip, made by his front teeth, was much deeper than my comfort level could accommodate.
So off we went to the emergency room at Comer Children's Hospital. I can't remember which circle of hell Dante assigned this place to, but it was one of the inner ones.
The place was packed. And loud. There were two bigass plasma televisions blasting "102 Dalmatians" on a repeat loop. There was the woman sitting next to us who was telling police that she suspected one of the four men at her babydaddy's house had sexually assaulted her 6 month old daughter...who was crying nonstop. (And her mother, Bless her, was really doing her best to hold it together for her baby, which couldn't have been easy.) Add to that the surreal conversation between the desk clerk and the muslim woman in an extensive black veil who only really understands one word of English -- Comer. She kept saying Comer and pointing in a direction that was NOT Comer Children's Hospital and the clerk pretty much said, over and over again, "Oh yes, Comer! I have no idea what you are saying, sweety. Come back when you can talk better."
Later, while we were in an exam room, they were wheeling a...um...body of a child...past our room. I'm not certain if I shall ever be the same again. And then, on the way out, we had to walk around the huge -- 5 ft in diameter -- pool of blood in the lobby.
I have never been so happy to leave a place ...except for maybe that K-Street sex party where Karl Rove wanted to do a threeway with me and Condi Rice and Grover Norquist got jealous and threatened to put everyone in Illinois out of jobs if I didn't go out with him. I don't know how many times I said "Grover, I wouldn't sleep with you if you were the last fascist Muppet on Earth." It hasn't quite sunk in though...just yesterday he called and said that, with Karl Rove "about to go back to working a Jack-in-the-Box in Austin like he deserves" that if I met him for coffee, he'd have a former boss of mine who treated me poorly put on the No Fly list, declared an enemy combatant, AND give his name and all his numbers to the National Amway Sales database.
That was hard to resist. He's taking me to a Patsy Cline retrospective in Southwest Michigan. Myfanwe says I don't have to put out unless we travel more than 200 miles.
I know this will surprise you, but I totally got off on a tangent.
Norbert ended up with superglue stitches, which I have to say are SOOOOO much less traumatic than sutures. And the opinion was that they will leave less of a scar and have less of a risk of infection.
Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Does anyone know how and have the talent to create lovely little banner/button for my blog? I dfon't really know what I want, yet. I love knitting lace, Knitting anything. Julia Child. Cookbooks, chef's knife. butter and garlic. I'm stymied.
The sleeping pill is clicking in....I think I shall sllep.
D-g Bless you all.
Monday, August 13, 2007
OK. I need your help. As you may have read, I'm experiencing a bit of angst over my entrance into the International Confraternity of Popular Knitters, more commonly referred to as Ravelry.
Since making a good first impression is important, I thought I would enlist your help in selecting a username that will give all other Ravelry users an idea of my personality. A peak, if you will, into my soul.
So far I've come up with the following: TallDark&Handsome, KnittingStud, HotWorstedMan, Let'sGetWorsted, NoImNotFranklin, Size11US, or LaceWeightChampionoftheWorld.
Myfanwe suggested, in the "truth in advertising" vein: TiredSweatyandLazy, MoreExpensiveThanImWorth, NotHalfBadForaMiddleAgedWhiteGuy, or NotBadLookingIfYouSquint&TurnYourHeadJustSo. She's a kidder, she is.
Do you have any suggestions?
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Also in 1767, the Townshend Revenue Act was passed by Parliament on June 29, imposing duties on tea, glass, paint, oil, lead, and paper imported into Britain's American colonies in hopes of raising £40,000 per year.
While we are on the subject of 1767, it was also the year Eugénie by French playwright-watchmaker Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais premiered at the Comédie-Française in Paris.
Also in 1767, Joseph Priestley pioneered carbonated water (and soft drinks). "Sometimes in the space of two or three minutes [I have] made a glass of exceedingly pleasant sparkling water which could hardly be distinguished from very good Pyrmont," he wrote. (As I type this, I am sipping Grape Crush, wondering if this is what he had in mind...)
And in 1767 Jean Chastel killed the Beast of Gévaudan. (Isn't the internet grand?)
Now, you might be asking yourself, about the significance of 1767?
Aside from being the year my mother was born, the number also represents my place, as of this posting, in line for entrance into Ravelry -- the most ultra-chic, ultra-exclusive, totally faboo fibre community the internet has ever know. We are talking The Order of the Skull and Bones of the knitting world.
I couldn't sleep last night. I started off thinking about how Rabbitch is going to get in this week, and how terribly jealous I am. Then I started worrying. What if I don't know anybody. What if nobody talks to me? What if nobody wants to be my friend? What if the other knitters think I dress weird, or make fun of my yarn overs, or think lace is sooooo 15 minutes ago? What if people laugh at me behind my back because I can't learn to knit lace continental? Or because I'm fat? Or because I couldn't pronounce "vegetable" correctly until I was 12? What if they tie me to trees and give me Ex-Lax? I saw "Sorority Girls From Hell" -- I know what people are like!
The only way I could get to sleep was to make a conscious decision to go to my "happy place" and to think about raising chickens and sheep and goats and baking cakes and making sausage and knitting sweaters and sitting in front of a fireplace during a snowstorm and drinking tea while listening to folk music. (I have an active fantasy life. I even thought through which cake recipes I would bake.)
Meanwhile, I have about 2 weeks left to loose 50 pounds, get a new wardrobe, and learn to knit lace continental.