Sunday, January 31, 2010

For mlf

You can either pierce the shawl or wear it threaded through like a backpack strap, although most of the time you see them displayed pierced through the knit of the shawl. Most of my shawls are sturdy and holey enough that I wear it pierced through, like this:
The super-fancy shawls I wear threaded through the loop like a backpack strap. They tend to be one size fits all, unless you're using something that is super thick (like polarfleece) or super thin (like gauze).

You can wear it wherever you need to in order to keep the shawl or scarf on. Most of my shawls are sized so that I end up wearing the pin in the front somewhere near chest level, but plenty of shawls and scarves are long enough to do the "fling one end over your shoulder and pin it up closer to your shoulder" look. Some people use smaller ones as an accent on regular scarves or cowls. Check out the results you get for "shawl pin" on flickr and you should get some ideas.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Now I'm pimping out my dad, too

My very handsome and talented father has been carving for decades - actually, we can actually measure it in fractions of a century at this point - so it was no problem at all for him to whip up some shawl pins for me when I started whipping up shawls. They were so beautiful and functional that I encouraged him to make some extras to sell. And the owner of River Colors Studio in Lakewood agreed that they're awesome, so now you can buy them there!

Stop in and grab one before they're gone, because you never know when Lazy Dad will get sick of making these and then they'll be gone for good.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

One of the most profoundly cool things ever

We got to see the baby! And you can hear the mother peeping and buzzing when she flies! We're totally going to leave this open on full screen down in the kitchen so we can check in on them for the rest of today. Precious little pumpkins ...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

And a last one, this time from just under a decade ago

One more post from way back when - a recounting of my adventures getting (the first of three) lasik surgery to correct my hideously bad eyesight. The squeamish should bow out now, I think.


Ok, so I'm back, have slept off the worst of the valium, and am ready to tell my tale, for those of you who have strong enough stomachs to read any further. Here's how my day went:

9:15 am - suffered power blackout at work; since I work in a lab where the loss of ventilation can be hazardous, all of us trooped over to the cafeteria to hang out. Nothing better than time to sit around with nothing to do right before surgery, so you can dwell on exactly how scared you are. Contemplated the possiblity that the power wouldn't come on in the next hour or so, which would cause the plant manager to send first shift home early for the day, which would mean that I could save 1/2 a vacation day. That was the bright spot of the morning.

10:55 am - power restored, first shift had to stay. Darn it!

11am - bid farewell to coworkers ("See you Monday . . . hopefully!). Felt sense of elation that in a few hours, I'll be able to stop worrying about the damn procedure. Thought about taking my safety glasses with me in the car so I could pitch them out the window on my way home after the surgery, but decided that littering wasn't the best idea.

11:15am - choked down a light lunch at Subway. Contemplated which toppings would look best if circumstances caused me to regurgitate them all over the laser technician. Fretted.

11:55am - arrived at doctor's office. There were only two cars in the parking lot, a parking lot that is usually full. Is the place closed? Has he been sued for malpractice? Or are they just slow because of the lunch hour? Remembered to bring inside the bag of pre-surgery stress reducers I've gathered (stone I use to keep my hands occupied instead of biting my fingernails; photos of loved ones; handkerchief from my grandmother who breezed through several cataract surgeries with no difficultes, and whose estate made the surgery financially possible for me; plastic baggie and napkins to use in case of nausea).

12pm - signed in. Signed disclaimer that boiled down to "anything that goes wrong ain't the doctor's fault." Took 10mg valium. Tried to read engaging book to keep my mind off of impending procedure (
i O is for Outlaw;
very good book so far). Held husband's hand. Fretted.

12:15 pm - young woman who just arrived is scheduled for the surgery slot after mine. She looked calm and ready to go. And skinny. Wished fervently that I was more like her, or at least looked that good in overalls.

12:30 pm - assistant came to prep me for surgery. "I'm supposed to be feeling less anxious, right, because that isn't happening yet." "We'll get you prepped and get you another pill."

12:40 pm - Began crying. Just a little. Reassured by assistant, who had laser surgery herself, that everything will be fine, but I don't have to continue if I don't want to. Gulped down another 1/2 a valium, preying for some dopiness to start soon. Eye area was swabbed with betadine solution, and I had to put on a little blue shower cap to keep my hair out of the way.

12:50 pm - Waited in small waiting room for doctor to arrive. Assistant stopped by every few minutes to make sure I was feeling ok, which interfered with my stress-reducing yoga breathing techniques. Panic was still there, but manageable.

1:10 pm - Doctor is here, ready to go.
* Sit in something like a dentist's chair, only it tilts so far back that you feel like you're going to slide off headfirst onto the floor. Head was positioned just so, then held in place with an inflatable donut-shaped pillow. They moved the laser in place over my eye, and the focusing ring around the outside was so bright I could barely look at it.
* They put a patch over my left eye. Had to stare at the light while they attached a suction ring to my right eye. This caused me to lose all vision in that eye, which was probably a blessing, but it was really uncomfortable - like someone pushing fairly hard on your eye with their knuckle. The keratome (translation - knife) attached to the suction ring, and after a few seconds of vibration, the flap was cut. They removed the suction ring, and I breathed for the first time in several minutes, or at least that's how it seemed. Probably would have been impossible at that time to pry the lucky stone out of my hand.
* Also luckily, with the flap cut I couldn't really see what was going on too well. First they attached a speculum to my eyelids to keep them open. Then they flipped back the flap, made sure everything was ready, and started up the laser. The trick to the laser is that you have to look right at that super-bright area (with a pulsing red light in the middle; that's the actual laser) without moving your eye, or it gets all screwed up. Unfortunately, to me it looked like the damn target light was moving, so I kept trying to follow it with my eye. Luckily the doctor has a view of the whole thing, and every time my eye started to wander, he'd flip off the laser. After the fourth or fifth time that happened, he was probably getting a little annoyed. Meanwhile, the laser technician was counting down how many seconds I had left to go. Longest 48 seconds ever recorded in the history of mankind.
* Once the laser was done, they flipped the flap back in place and used some sort of spatula or brush or something to smooth it back into place. Thanks to the negative pressure in your eye, there are no stitches necessary to hold the flap back in place. Then I had to sit there with the speculum holding open my right eye (so the flap could get nicely dried and stuck down before I blinked) while they started on my left eye.
* So the right eye was bad, but the left eye was even scarier, since I knew exactly what was coming. The suction hurt worse on that eye - was bordering on pain, instead of just being uncomfortable. I'm hoping that whimpering uncontrollably doesn't mean that I wasn't brave, since I made it through the whole procedure for that eye, too. Of course, I may be picking rock fragments out of my hands for a few days, but hey - at least there was not vomiting!
* After the left eye was done, they put some drops in my right eye, then took out the speculum. Then I had to wait for another few minutes with the speculum still attached to my left eye (and it pinched!) while the doctor and technicians made small talk. Then they put in the drops, took the appliances off, and damned if I couldn't see! Well, I could see pretty well until they taped some clear eyepatches over my eyes to keep me from scratching at them overnight - they blur things a little bit.

1:30 pm - All done, including the post-operative counseling to let me know what types of pain and/or problems are bad enough for me to call the doctor at home and drag him with me to the hospital. Arrived in the lobby, triumphant, and looking unbearably stupid with both eyes tremendously bloodshot from the suction

Another post from the way-back e-mail machine

Found this one still online at the cooking forum I used to haunt back in the day ("the day" being 1998 and 1999, while I was living in Japan and was using the forum as a substitute for actual friends).

Oh, one more thing. For those of you who are interested, here's a copy of the message I sent out to friends and family, to let them know what our last few weeks have been like. Hope you enjoy!

This week's topic: Sayonara!

Well, it's been a long, hard road, but we've finally made it - our last day at the lab! Thank you, dear readers, for giving me a place to vent and explain our life abroad. It's so nice to share our thoughts with our friends, without having to tell the same anecdotes over and over again. I hope that you have learned a little, and laughed a little, and will miss the messages a little now that they're done. Better hold on to printouts of these little gems . . . you never know, maybe someday I'll become famous and they'll be worth something as records, rather than as kindling! Anyway, as a public service to you, I leave you with a step-by-step list of instructions for closing down your life in Japan, in case you ever need to do so.

** Allow two moving companies to bid on the move, as required by company policy. Explain to moving company representatives what will be sent by air, what will be sent by boat, and why your cat has its own bedroom in your apartment.

** Cram in day trips to all the places you meant to go see, but never got around to visiting. Shop for potential Christmas gifts and last-minute home decorations; add several more little paper weeble-wobble dolls to your now-extensive collection.

** Prepare cat for trip. Attempt to put cat into the carrying case he used on the trip to Japan; realize that he can't fit all four legs and his tail in at once. Visit hardware store to purchase crate large enough for a medium-sized dog, because "we want him to be comfortable." Sigh with relief when huge crate actually fits in the back seat of your car. Take cat to vet for pre-move checkup and updated shots. Watch as cat goes ballistic at the sight of other animals in the exam room; almost receive rabies shot instead of the cat because he squirms so much. Wish you had a tape recorder to capture the sounds coming out of the cat's throat, some of which could be marketed to the folks who make sound effects for horror movies. Vow that when you have to take the cat back to the vet again right before you leave the country, for another round of shots and the final certificate, you will either drug him into a stupor or wrap him up tightly in a towel.

** Purchase airline tickets, remembering to reserve a space in the cargo hold for the cat, and to get the animal-approved flight from Cincinnati to Cleveland (which involves a 3-hour layover in Cincy, rather than the standard 1-hour layover). Make hotel reservations at cat-friendly hotel. Reserve mini-van rental car to tote luggage and cat home from the airport.

** Begin disposing of Japanese appliances. Sell washer, dryer, and refrigerator at bargain-basement prices. Arrange to borrow company minivan to transport large appliances to their final destinations. Purchase large amounts of aspirin to alleviate hernia you anticipate will occur after you lug the refrigerator downstairs. Give away hair dryer, telephone, and light fixtures to strangers who make eye contact with you on the street.

** Begin sorting out what will actually be sent by air. Bring home boxes of work-related papers, and empty boxes to use for sorting. Watch in amusement as cat goes partially psycho when furniture is moved from one room to another . . . try to record the highest spontaneous vertical leap he performs when he hears a loud noise.

** Begin disposing of excess food. Offer American canned goods to fellow expats at reasonable prices. Devise delicious meals to use up foods that have already been opened ("Hmmm, a box of frosted flakes, a can of tuna, a bar of white chocolate, and two boxes of baking powder. Looks like we're ordering another pizza!").

** Ask secretaries to find a Japanese hotel which allows pets, for your last few nights once the apartment has been vacated. Determine that the closest one is two hours away from work, and three hours away from the airport. Decide to stay at a hotel in Nagoya and either smuggle in the cat, or leave him with a friend for a day or two.

** Deal with the movers for the air shipment. Explain, in a horrible mixture of English and Japanese and without the benefit of a map, how the movers should get to your apartment ("We're near the Meito Ward post office, and across the street from an elementary school. Does that help?"). Explain to the movers that the piteous noises coming from behind the closed door are not from a human sacrifice, just from a spoiled kitty. Try not to feel awkward as you sit on the couch watching a rerun of professional wrestling - it's the only English-language show on - while the movers grunt and strain in the next room. When movers ask if they may take a 10-minute break, consider the question carefully just to worry them, then say "yes." When movers ask if they may use the bathroom, consider the question carefully just to make them squirm, then say "yes."

** Deal with the aftermath of the air shipment packing. Let the cat out of his room, then watch as he actually does a double-take when you let him into the room the movers have emptied out. Notice how he jumps two feet straight into the air anytime you move or make a noise, for about 2 hours after the movers leave. Decide to get all the psychic cat damage done at once, and bring the dreaded suitcases out into view.

** Decide that to make things easier on the cat, you will leave the country one day earlier, thus eliminating the need to board him at your friends' house. Rebook airplane tickets, hotel, car rental. Notify everyone in the expat division of the changed date. Reschedule apartment inspection for the morning of the day you leave Japan. Schedule necessary maintenance on newly-purchased home (being certain to schedule the chimney cleaning BEFORE the carpet cleaning, and the cable tv installation AFTER the delivery of the television in the air shipment).

** Deal with Japan's farewell present to you, in the form of one last Unpleasant Seismic Event (we don't like to say the E-word). Think to yourself - and I'm suggesting based on experience here - "God, what are they doing downstairs? Ok, this one does feel like a truck hit the building - several times - and it's still going. I don't want to be trapped in the post-earthquake apocalyptic rubble wearing nothing but spandex tights and a sports bra - should I put my shoes on now and get crushed to death, or put them on later and risk having to run through broken glass barefoot to escape? Huh, the china cabinet sure is rattling - good thing we packed up all the photos and breakables earlier today. Maybe I'd better go stand by the door with the earthquake kit and see if this is going to stop soon. JASON!!!!!" Wait for 30-second temblor to finish, wait for a few seconds. Find husband, half-clothed and trying to pry the cat out of the box spring of the bed. Remind husband that in the case of a real emergency, it's better to have a dead cat than a crushed husband. When he disagrees, remind yourself that his life insurance policy is large enough to provide for a comfortable life for you. Remind yourself to check on whether he's covered in an earthquake, and if the "Accidental Death or Dismemberment" policy would apply in that situation.

** Say goodbye to coworkers. There should be plenty of opportunities for this, since you'll have a farewell staff meeting, farewell luncheon, night out with the secretaries, and official Soubetsukai on the evening of your last day of work. Begin thinking up excuses why you are unable to sing karaoke that night. Mentally review the useful Japanese phrase, "I cannot drink much tonight; I am on a diet." Lay in a supply of Tums, aspirin, and cool cloths for the next morning.

** Supervise packing of sea shipment. Stand around awkwardly while the movers do all the work, gradually taking away all the comfortable places to sit and interesting things to do. Remember to buy earplugs for yourself and all moving company employees, so that the noise from the cat - who will be locked into an empty room by himself - does not drive anyone insane. After movers leave for the day, watch as cat becomes completely psycho as he views the boxes and rearranged furniture one day, and the completely empty apartment the next day. Partially open doors between the connecting bedrooms, so that cat can run circular laps around the apartment. Feel really guilty when you leave him alone in the apartment and check into a hotel.

** Last day in Japan: 6am - wake up, check out of hotel. Travel to apartment; clean like maniacs. 9:30 - apartment inspection. When apartment owner and management company try to charge you for the tiny holes in the wall where you hung pictures, point out that they were going to have to re-wallpaper the whole apartment anyway, since there are so many 4-foot-long cracks in the walls. Remember to stand directly over the spot in the carpet where the cat tried to chew his way under a door (so that inspectors don't notice the frayed area). As inspectors make unreasonable demands for compensation, whisper hilariously menacing catch phrases you learned from the professional wrestling show under your breath ("He wants $500 because we didn't sanitize the oven? Yeah, right, I'd like to take that oven, shine it up real nice, turn it sideways, and stick it straight up his roody-poo candy a** "). 10:30 am - apartment inspection complete; turn apartment keys over to apartment owner. Turn company car keys over to secretary from work. Throw yourself on the mercy of your neighbors, whom you will visit until it's time to go to the airport around 4:30 pm. Check watch. Realize that you will smell like sweat and bleach all the way back to the US - that's another 20 to 24 hours. Check watch. Hope that the Business Class amenity pack contains refreshing moist towelettes, which you can use to give yourself a sponge bath in the airplane bathroom. Check watch. Cram yourself, 400 pounds of luggage, and the cat, into two taxis and head for the airport.

So long, farewell, sayonara, and good night!

Blast from the (way, way) past

We're going through some totes full of old mementos, and I found an e-mail correspondence I had with the owner of the company I worked for in July 1991. This is the first recorded instance of me using the computer to be funny, so I thought I'd share it here. Of course, the boss came up with much funnier material, but he'd had decades more practice than I had at the time (I was 17).

Backstory - Our company was on two floors of one building (five and six), and someone had recently sent around a message complaining that people were leaving the fridge door open in the break room near where I worked.

From me:
I found that the best way to make sure the fridge door closes (see Ley's e-mail) is by pressing on the lower lefthand side of the door with your foot as you close the door. This makes sure that the gasket around the door seals; if it doesn't, air leaks out and you may as well not close the door. Give it a try next time you use the fridge on six. Thanks!

From Andy:
FYI. Personally, I have found that getting a running start from the file cabinet and slamming my head into the lower right hand corner of the door seems to work just fine ... except for the one time that someone opened the door and I didn't notice ... it took me a half-hour to get that Tupperware container dislodged from my head.

From me:
Sometimes I go up to the seventh floor and do a Tarzan-type swing out their window and in through ours, kicking the door shut on the way. Of course, we usually don't have the windows open, so it's pretty painful and probably not as effective as your method.

From Andy:
Yes I have tried that method also and it is not nearly as effective as my first method, as you so correctly state. Another method that has also proven effective in the past has been to attach a come-along to one of the support beams in the ceiling (or actually, a portable engine-lift also works in a pinch) and then I have wrapped the fridge in a sling and pulled it up to the ceiling. Then comes the tricky part ... you need to position the refrigerator such that the door is facing down while suspended six feet above the floor. From here you simply cut the cable and let the fridge drop to the floor - slamming the door shut and safely sealing the contents for the next user. This method is a little tricky but it has never failed me yet. Give it a try and let me know how you like it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Actual conversation from bedtime tonight

L: Mom, can two girls get married?
Me: Depends on where you live, sweetie.
L: What do you mean?
Me: Remember how we talked about how people believe different things sometimes? Well, some people believe that girls should only marry boys, and some people believe that two girls or two boys can get married. The government is in charge of saying whether people are allowed to get married, and each state has its own government. The government in each state figures out what the people who live there believe, and that's the law. So in some states, girls can marry girls, and in some states, girls can only marry boys.
L: What about here?
Me: Well, in our state, a lot of people believe that girls should only marry boys, so that's the law here.
L: So I have to move if I want to marry Leah when I grow up?
Me: Remember how we talked about how sometimes what people believe changes, and laws get changed? Like when we read that story about slaves last week? Well, maybe before you're grown up, people here will change their minds about who can get married. You never know.
L: So it's okay if I want to marry a girl?
Me: Honey, as long as you love the person very, very much, and they love you very, very much, I don't care who you marry. Now go to sleep.


L: Can grandmas and grandpas have babies?
Me: Depends on how old they are. When women get older, the parts that make babies stop working, and then they wouldn't be able to have any more babies.
L: What about Grandma?
Me: Nope, she's not going to have any more babies.
L: When will you be a grandma?
Me: When you have babies ... but that's not until you're all grown up.
L: Will I have babies when I'm a grown up?
Me: You probably can, if you want to. And if your body can't make the babies, you could adopt one, if you wanted.
L: But what if I don't want any babies? Then you wouldn't be a grandma?
Me: That's right, I wouldn't be a grandma. But that's okay, too - it's your decision whether you want to have babies. I'm fine with just you - you're perfect as you are. Now go to sleep. We have a big day tomorrow - we're meeting Miss Judy at the coffee shop.
L: Miss Judy, the rocket scientist **?
Me: Yep, that's the one. Sleep well, little girl.

Add that to her earlier request for me to explain exactly what a tampon is and what it does and what the little string is for and what if you can't reach the string, and it's been a fuuuuuuun day. (That sound you hear is me banging my head on my desk repeatedly, in case you were wondering)

**That's how she differentiates Miss Judy, my knitting buddy who works at NASA, from Miss Judy, the mother of one of her friends from dance class last year.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cue the triumphant music

It took about three months of frequent work, 1.5 kilometers of yarn, and about 3,000 beads, but the Shawl of Insanity is finished!

More pics in my flickr photostream. (If the link doesn't work, I'm LazyMamaDesigns on flickr ... it should be pretty obvious which ones are the shawl pics!)

Judging from the response at the yarn store when I went in for sock club today, I done good. One of my knitting friends borrowed it because the store was chilly today, and I thought I was going to have to hamstring her in order to make sure she didn't walk off with it at the end of the day. It's that cozy ... and pretty ... and sparkly ... and mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Now, off to crochet some mindless hats before I start on another mind-numbingly difficult project (which will probably be, oh, next week sometime).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Bear and the Rabbit, by Liza Woods

(Liza drew the pictures, did the title page, and narrated the story; I wrote down what she told me so it didn't take 6 months to complete a book)






Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mmmm, bacon!

Also, I've discovered that having a laptop means I can do shockingly convenient things, like set it up on the kitchen counter and read blogs while I wait for the pasta water to boil. And since that's about the only time I seem to be able to string more than three words together coherently, I think the kitchen option is going to be used a lot this winter.

So if my blog posts smell like bacon, now you know why. Sorry, MLF!

She's ready for the Olympics

Today we practiced "skating really fast to go pick up a rubber ducky on the ice"

... and "skating backwards for the second time ever."

The girl is good.

Why sending Jason out to play with the kid is sometimes a bad idea

Leprous Staring Snow Baby says,

"Step closer so that I may suck the delicious brains from your puny head! Oh, and let me know if you've seen my legs, okay?"

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Proof that the science nerds have a sense of humor, too

From today's trip to the natural history museum, I give you ...

Part of the display of "beetles"

Part of the display of nests and "eggs"

Part of the library in the education center

I believe that may be the best book title, ever.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

10 things I've been doing instead of blogging

10. Reading other people's blogs.
9. Reading (and re-reading, and re-re-reading) the Twilight books.
8. Spending quality time with my family, trying to dig ourselves out of the cluttered shithole that is our basement.
7. Putting insulating Saran wrap over all the windows in the house, in hopes that it will help raise the temperature of our family room above 52F.
6. Buying a space heater, in hopes that it will help raise the temperature of our family room above 52F.
5. Putting a new damper and fireback in the fireplace, in hopes that it will ... yeah, that again.
4. Knitting my Shawl of Insanity. Fourteen rows to go now ... at only slightly more than an hour per row. And then a bind-off of 900+ stitches. Um, yay?
3. Reading more blogs. Lots more blogs.
2. Attempting not to eat anything until I fit back into my fat jeans again.
1. Snowblowing. Lots of snowblowing.