Re: Title -- I'm trying to remember a quote from Porky's II without watching it (love it, just not in the mood) ETA: Of course, John remembered it exactly. I'm declaring Halloween season on this blog. Not like I don't mention it whenever the mood strikes. So, mostly, I have a new header.
Anyway. Like the new header? I had 2 concepts and decided to combine them. The top font is "Dead Secretary." The orange cats, pumpkins and ghosts are Halloween noisemakers I got in Hell, MI last weekend. The ghost on the right is John. We have been known to, on occasion, dress up and take pictures in old, secluded graveyards. There isn't one of me that I like yet. He combined it with several elements he photographed, into this little masterpiece (reduced and watermarked):
We keep a nice framed print of it on the wall year 'round.
We're thinking about going to the big haunted house attraction in Pontiac next weekend. I don't generally "do" haunted houses. I'm afraid of the dark and claustrophobic. But John really wants to go and is prepared for me to be gripping his arm really tightly.
Yesterday, we went to the cider mill in Plymouth. We bought cider, took the tractor ride, and just enjoyed the day. I got a honey bear for my chamomile tea at work (and one for home). They have a little farm set-up there, but not a petting-zoo type place. The posted signs that read "Do not reach through fence, animals may nip" did not keep one woman near us from yelling to her kids: "Stick that grass through the fence. I want a picture!" Sigh.
Crappy Real Estate Broker News
Over two weeks now since the deal fell through, and no refund on our deposit. The guy won't even respond to our attorney. Upon the advice of a broker friend of Jdub's, I've documented the experience in detail (3 pages) and am mailing it to the head office tomorrow. The broker I spoke with was flabbergasted at just the few examples I gave him, and practically demanded that I file a complaint straight away, refund or not. Interestingly enough, Keller Williams doesn't have their mailing address anywhere on their site. (The bad agent is a franchise owner.) My Google-fu was strong yesterday (at about 2 AM), after I tracked down the name of an individual at corporate, then searched on her name, which led me to a professional networking site (similar to Linkd in, which I'm on) that listed the address for the corporate office.
I will probably post a copy of the letter, redacted of course, at some point in the future, but if you want to read it sooner, shoot me a note and I'll send a PDF. I'm not bragging, but those that do read it will see how I was told at one job that my writing skills made me dangerous, and how I was "laid off" a couple of weeks later. (Foolish man, my boss. Sat down one day to read a year's worth of reports to the board of directors. (I was required to send them one a month.) Gasp! I was reporting things as they actually occurred!) Nothing changed throughout a year of reports -- proof positive that the board wasn't reading them, either.)
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Re: Title -- I'm trying to remember a quote from Porky's II without watching it (love it, just not in the mood) ETA: Of course, John remembered it exactly. I'm declaring Halloween season on this blog. Not like I don't mention it whenever the mood strikes. So, mostly, I have a new header.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Last night, Jdub and I went to see The Duchess. I enjoyed this one far more that The Other Boleyn Girl, in part, I suspect, because I could see the glaring historical inaccuracies in the latter, and knew almost nothing about Cavendish. (Ignorance is bliss?) I'm sure this is only loosely based on her life, but I was able to relax and enjoy the spectacle. I do have to admit that I wondered, during more than one scene, how so many men lived as long as they did. Because, seriously? I would have killed the Duke in his sleep, thank you very much. (Proving that Ralph Fiennes does an excellent job at playing the bastard/villain.) The beating of wives is discussed and there is a violent scene, so I would say not it's for youngsters, no matter how cool Knightley's wardrobe is.
My score: 4 out of 5. Worth the price, good experience, but not jumping-up-and-down good.
The Knitting Detectives and the Addi Turbos v. Premium Mystery
Some seven months ago, on Ravelry, a member asked an intriguing question: what's the difference between Addi Turbo (pricey circular needles, sold in North America) and Addi Premiums (reasonably-priced circular needles sold everywhere else)? An enlightening discussion resulted, with a rep the NA distributor chiming in to state that the Turbos, which cost 2-3x the retail price of the Premiums, are held to a higher manufacturing standard and are covered by a lifetime warranty. A Hong Kong-based distributor reported that the Premium needles she sold were identical to the Turbos, but with different packaging.
Well, this got people on every continent interested. Folks in Europe & elsewhere wanted to know why Addi would sell inferior needles to them. Folks in the US and Canada wanted to know why they were paying up to three times as much money for a warranty that shouldn't be needed if the needles were such high quality. (Not to mention that you had to have your original packaging and store receipt to take advantage of said warranty. Raise your hand if you have all your packages and receipts.) Folks who had both kinds in their possession reported that the packaging was slightly different, but they could tell no difference between the needles themselves. Oh, a mystery was afoot! Developments in the last few days inspired a few determined and intrepid investigators - from all over the globe - to direct some questions to the source.
One PI contacted Skacel, the NA distributor and was told (her words): "The Turbos and Premiums are made by the same company, Addi. The Turbos are made by Addi to Skacel’s specifications. The Premiums are also made by Addi, but for the European market. They are cheaper, as they are made to lesser standards."
More than one PI contacted Addi, the manufacturer, and were told (quote from emails): "There is no difference between Addi Premium and Addi Turbo needles it is only the label. In USA we sell under the name Addi Turbo and in Europe we sell them under the name Addi Premium. The quality is exact the same."
Ladies, Emerson Cod (the original knitting detective) would be proud.
Skacel has been silent since these communications have been shared. The addi rep tried to do some back-peddling, explaining that Skacel's Addi Turbos cost more because standard of living in the US is higher and they have advertising expenses, etc. The effort is appreciated, but it doesn't wash. In Iceland, where the cost of living is just about the highest in the world (gas is roughly $9.50 a gallon, and it's ~$10 for a McDonald's hamburger meal) because of the high cost of getting the materials to them, a pair of Addi Premiums is under $10.
Many folks on the thread recommend this eBay seller. I haven't ordered anything, because I'm quite happy with my Knitpicks needles (also a fraction of the price of Turbos). When buying online, make sure an out-of-the-country seller has the needles listed as Addi Premiums.
I could have sworn I mentioned this, but I can't find an entry. If it happens to be on my old blog, sorry for the repeat, but there is new news as well.
This entry only took me a week to write. Or start writing. You know what I mean.
Last Saturday, John and I went on one of our little road trips, this time to Hell, MI (we go just about every fall), then on to Dexter. I'm working on a collage entry of those pics. (There was a hearse contest!)
On the road, I finished up these green booties (the color in the first pic is more accurate); they only needed buttons, but since I did, technically, finish them on the trip, they've been dubbed the "Hell and Back Booties." They're for a co-worker, who is expecting this winter. I had planned on giving them to her right away, but then found out there is to be a shower, and I'm to be invited, so they're going to wait for awhile.
Pattern: Saartje's Booties (PDF)
Yarn: Rowan 4 Ply Soft, a lovely washable wool (color #367), from nbyarns.com
Needles: US3 (And they're still bigger than I'd like.)
I know at least 4 women who are pregnant right now, so there will be more baby gifts coming. I also have a friend who is trying to adopt, so when news of that success comes, watch out!
The third pic to the right up there is the start of the "Led Zeppelin Baby Socks," since we listened to the CD shown during the trip. (I like naming projects after what I was doing when I cast on. Many projects don't have names, though, because "watching Ghost Whisperer Scarf" doesn't really have a ring to it.) I knit the first sock on that trip, then the second one as I had time over the next couple of days.
Pattern: North Country Cotton Baby Socks (except that I didn't use cotton)
Yarn: Araucania Ranco Multi (gift from celticsuncat) - superwash sock yarn
Quickly, finally I got a picture of my finished Ubiquitous Noro 2-row scarf. (Click to embiggen.)
Results: love the play of the color. Jury is still out on the scarf itself. I'm hoping a nice soak with some conditioner will soften it up. I'd hate to have used such expensive yarn and spent so much time on something I can't wear around my neck. I started on a matching hat, but it's not going so well.
Next up: review of The Duchess and Hell pics.
Friday, September 26, 2008
If angry ranting turns you off, this might not be a good day to read. If you're reading this via LJ or a reader, sorry the whole thing is visible! Readers of the blog have the advantage of a cut.
It's weird how something will come at you out of left field and remind you of old wounds, pouring into them a little metaphorical salt, and suddenly, you're pissed at something that happened years ago (but was never resolved). That's me today. There was this very simple question on Ravelry the other day, simply asking for recommendations for yarn to knit chemo caps. And just like every other damn thing (on any forum, really, not just Ravelry), someone comes out of the woodwork, not to answer the question, but to ask what the point is. And there are tangential/meta discussions wondering if knitting for sick people is offensive because we should really be driving them to the doctors and cooking for them, and shouldn't assume that they want chemo hats or prayers shawls or socks, and shouldn't they try to be more fashionable anyway?
I had to add to one of those discussions because, while I couldn't knit for my mom when she was sick (I didn't learn until years later), I remember how much she loved hats. She decided against wigs and scarves, and would probably have gone bare-headed, but she was always cold. Always. So she wore hats, and loved them! She stole at least one of my cool winter hats, and we were always looking for cute, soft and warm ones for her. I hate the idea that some stranger sitting in another life, in another part of the country/world would declare that Mom should really have been more worried about her appearance than to wear a hat, indoors, letting everyone know she had cancer. (If a person that is losing their hair to chemo doesn't like hats, by all means, they shouldn't wear them! But no one else should have any say in the matter.)
It's very true that knitted gifts aren't the answer to every crisis. But from a long distance or, if closer by, in conjunction with a cooked meal or a ride to the doctor or something, the gesture can help both the knitter and the recipient. Most of the participants in the main thread were more than happy to suggest yarns and patterns. Some of them are cancer survivors or are fighting cancer now and were able to add some genuine perspective. Overall, the discussions were positive, but it's got me thinking.
The short version (which has nothing to do with chemo caps) is: even if you have to write it down in your calendar to remind you, don't forget about sick folks after the initial crisis has passed, and if you know them too, don't forget about the caregivers! The long version is below.
The talk of providing meals, etc., led me to remember the early days of my mom's illness, when both our church and my brother and SIL's really came through. Of course, after several days that kind of thing stopped, but I don't think anyone expected to be fed by others for weeks or longer. What I didn't expect was to be all but forgotten in a matter of weeks. In that area, my mom fared better. She had close friends who were stayed in touch and checked in. After awhile, hardly anyone from the church called or visited, and that was disappointing, but not a huge surprise (said the cynic). There was one member of the church staff who made it his personal mission to visit my mom every week. He genuinely liked talking with her, and frequently brought his young son. (So he could meet a saint, the man said once. (My mom was no saint, but she was very generous and sweet to others.)) When he left the church, that was the end of the visits.
Meanwhile... a month or so in, I was persona non grata to my church. My mom required round-the-clock company/care when she wasn't in the hospital, and we split it up. My typical day was: get up from my mom's house, go home and shower, feed Sheldon, go to work, stop for Chinese take-out on the way home, stop at home and scritch Sheldon (sometimes I took him with me), then go to my mom's (I lived 2 doors down), where I stayed until morning. A couple evenings a week, my brother and his wife stayed with mom, but I still had to go there to do her IV and then be back at 9 PM to stay the night. My dad was with her during the day (he worked midnights). I literally had part of Saturday and part of Sunday "off" (and of course still visited her). I came really close to having a complete physical and emotional breakdown, and there weren't many people that gave a damn. Honestly, I thank God my boss gave me the option of "go to therapy or you're fired." It probably saved my life. I know it saved my sanity.
Because I didn't go to Sunday School or regular services any longer, I was written off, and pretty quickly. Most people that I'd thought were friends, including some I'd known for more than a decade, were gone by the second week. The co-leaders of my Sunday evening group (our church was split up into "cells" for small home Bible studies) announced that I'd opted to join a different group (not true - they were just tired of calling me and finding out that I wasn't able to attend). Some hung on longer, but either couldn't take it or I pissed them off. Mom was diagnosed in January. By summer, I had - quite literally - two friends (who hated each other) up until my mom passed away more than a year later.
There were two friends (the ones that I think I drove away) I was able to patch things up with later, and I'm grateful for them. The rest, screw 'em, because if they could walk away just because I couldn't attend church they were never real friends, obviously.
By Easter, I was done with church. They wrote me off first, but church had always been a big part of my life and I wasn't able to give it up so easily. But, Easter came that year and I found myself looking forward to hearing the traditional message. I thought it might give me some hope/peace. I guess it might have, if the pastor wasn't so attached to his serialized sermons. He wasn't about to hit pause on the next one in the series for Easter, so I sat there - for a few minutes - as he preached about something (don't remember what exactly), and started talking about cancer, and then used my mom as an illustration. I was up and on my feet and to the door before I knew what I was doing. I heard someone calling to me, but just kept going. I got home to find a tirade on my answering machine, from the intern/junior minister who had chased after me. (Also, someone I'd babysat for when I was a teenager.) I got quite an earful about what an ungrateful person I was, how he prayed for me, how no one would visit or call me unless he made them, etc. He named names -- said that the two friends I mentioned in the paragraph above had to be forced to call me. (Not even a little true.) Since that day, I've only stepped foot in that place for my mom's funeral, two weddings and a baby(?) shower.
When my mom's cancer went into remission, she wanted to go to church. She knew she'd been forgotten, and was hurt, but was too tired to find another church, and HAD to go to church. So, I'd drive her over, get her seated (they were nice -- found a recliner for her and set it up so she could be comfortable) and went to my car to wait until it was over.
Her dying wish was that my dad and I would try church again. Dad tried at the same church. He'd come in after it started, head for the balcony, and leave before they were done with the final hymn. It was just too hard for him I tried another church, and attended for at least a year, even getting involved with the music ministry (I used to be able to sing a little), but couldn't stay after certain events. (This story is already too long to go into that.)
For weeks after mom died, the (new) pastor of the (old) church visited my dad, and always asked about me, wanted to talk to me and see if I would come back. My dad wouldn't put him in touch with me, but told him he'd pass on the message, which he did. Finally, to get my dad some relief, I wrote the pastor a letter, explaining all of the above. I made it clear that I had no intention of coming back; but I explained my suspicion that a lot of this was probably a result of everyone assuming someone else was doing it. I begged him to consider rethinking their shut-in/sick program, and to not forget the caregivers. I never heard back.
In closing, in case people wonder why I don't go to church, this is it. It's why I still get sad and hurt when I get reminded of all the peripheral stuff around my mom's illness. It's why I hope against hope that I don't ever forget to check in on someone going through a rough time. And, oh yes, why I still wear a little chip on my shoulder. I lost more than my mother during that ordeal. I lost most of the support system I needed to get through it.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I'm destashing. Knitting stuff first, then other books, crafts, etc. If you're interested, comment or send an email. Prices don't include shipping, unless noted, because I'm a terrible judge of weight. Let's see. Checks are okay if I know you personally (long-time internet buds included in this); otherwise Paypal is the way to go. First come, first serve. On the off chance that more than one person is interested in something, and the first person changes their mind, I'll contact the next person. No trades. I'm trying to destash!
I'll keep updating this list as I work through my things. There'll be a link in the sidebar, too.
Sox Stix (image). Neither have been used. They are so pretty, but I've found that I just don't like using DPNs in general, so shorter skinnier ones for socks don't sound like a good idea to me.
Size 2, ebony: $18 (includes US shipping) - retail is $22 & up, plus shipping
- Size 3, rosewood: $17 (includes US shipping) - retail is $21 & up, plus shipping
Sensational Knitted Socks byCharlene Schurch: $14
The Gift Knitter (out of print): $6
Simple Chic by Jill Eaton: $7
Except where noted, $2 each. I linked to whatever source I could find to show the covers.
Craft: Magazine, premiere issue & #2: $14
Last week, John called to tell me about something he'd heard on the radio: recent studies show that chamomile tea is very good for diabetics (here's a link). I'm all about the black tea. I don't like herbals, generally, or greens; however, I decided that if I was going to try this, I was going to go all the way.
I popped over to Adagio, and ordered a bunch of stuff (got a partial Christmas present done while I was at it): a 4 oz. canister (huge) of the chamomile, which is not all chopped and processed, but looks pretty much like the picture shown in this entry. I also got some of the sample canisters, which are adorable and only $1-$2 each (great way to try out flavors), and some paper tea bag/filters. I have a press, but it's frequently a pain to use, so I figured the paper filters would be easier. (They are, and they are not expensive - 100 for $3.)
The box arrived yesterday (quick shipping!), and I dutifully packed up the tiny sample canister of chamomile and a handful of filters to bring to work. (I figured I could keep the big canister at home and refill the little one as needed. We'll see how that goes.) I remembered reading that chamomile is especially good sweetened with a little honey, so when I went through the McDonald's drive-through for my morning caffeine fix (large unsweet tea, xtra ice), I got them to sell* me a handful of their little honey packages. (Next time I go to the grocery, I'll get a honey bear.)
The 2-and-4-oz. sizes come in nifty canisters with a clear lid and sturdy metal closure. (Tea needs to be kept out of light, so I'm not sure why the lid is clear, but I'll keep it in a cupboard anyway.) ETA: Mystery solved! The lids are UV-protected, so they're safe to keep out.
This morning, I made my first cup of chamomile tea w/ honey (brewed 7 minutes). And, hey -- it's pretty tasty! I can easily manage the recommended 2 cups a day, at least at work. (After my morning caffeinated version!) I have a lovely tea kettle at home, but tend to flake on stuff there. Here at work, there's a "cafe" at the end of my aisle, with hot water at the ready.
If you want to order some tea (you can make your own blends, too), I can highly recommend the chamomile, as well as the cherry and peach (black teas), oh and Christmas. Yum. I can get you a $5 gift certificate if I have your email addy. It will cover shipping (only $3.75 ground, free if you spend over $50). Just drop me a line. I'm not signed up for anything -- I don't believe I get any points or rebates or anything.
*McDonald's has cracked down on all condiments in a big way. You can only have a couple of sauces, ketchup, etc. before you have to pay extra. Since I wasn't ordering anything that needed honey, I didn't mind paying at all (10¢ ea.).
Friday, September 19, 2008
It has NOT been a week since I posted! Has it? Crap. Better than a month, I guess.
So, what's happening? Househunting. We have a short list of one right now. It's well within our budget, but a little smaller (slightly larger footprint, but no second story (this house has a half story)). Upside: 2 acres of mostly oak trees. We found a house we liked better, with a larger but less cool lot and decided to place an offer. Turns out they can't sell it right now -- they didn't record the easement (long-ass driveway). It's been on the market since July and they just figured out they can't sell it the way it is. Sigh. There are also two other offers pending.
We have a new real estate agent team. The two people we're working with (our main guy's wife is having a crisis in her pregnancy so another teammate helps out) both know the con-artist we were working with on the last house. The main guy won't let the con even show his houses, and won't show any of the con's listings, period. Okay with us -- we already decided that we won't consider any house that Keller Williams lists. This one guy could potentially pull down the entire agency. In our case, they only lost the possibility of a sale, but I guess there have been tons of complaints filed about the guy. It's been a very interesting week.
Meanwhile, our deposit check still hasn't turned up. The agent actually told me that it had been mailed on Sept. 6th. Funny, since we didn't give them the full amount until the 7th, and our offer wasn't rejected until the 11th. Guy lies like it's breathing. Now they won't tell us when it was mailed.
Get this: our new real estate agents will actually show us houses that they didn't list! Amazing!! (The first team, in the body of the female agent, would only show us houses that they had listed. Every house we asked to see that wasn't on their books was not available or had miraculously sold that morning. We were stuck in limbo while we waited for the sale to either go through or fall through, and then we ran in the opposite direction.)
Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. I uploaded a new avatar on Ravelry just for this purpose. If you load an avatar today with the word pirate in the title, a little parrot gets added to it. Mine landed in an interesting position -- absolutely unintentional.
- I need either a crochet lesson or someone who can help me add a half-double edge to 3 children's hats.
- I'm finally finishing the second pair of socks. We had words, first sock and I, and it sat in my bag for over a month. We made up, and now I'm in the gusset of sock #2. I quite like the yarn -- there's nothing wrong with it at all -- I just had to work out a better way to carry my knitting so when I reach into my tote for it, it doesn't come half off the needles! Now I have a smaller canvas tote inside the bigger one, which is helping a lot.
- I'm now the proud owner a skein of Wollmeise, which is, apparently, a hot property in the knitting world right now. Another Raveler got sick of all they hype surrounding it and said the first person who PMd her could have it. It's chocolate colored, but the thinnest yarn I've ever seen. I'm a little scared.
- I'm working on a destash listing/page. I have 2 pair of Sox Stix, a stack of magazines and some books set aside to sell. Then I'll attack the yarn. Watch for it this weekend!
Friday, September 12, 2008
Instead of creating a new entry every time there's an addition, I'll probably be updating one calendar entry a month, perhaps changing the date. Hopefully it won't mess up anyone's feed.
Saturday, September 13: Knitterpalooza 2008, Royal Oak. I'll be there around 2 PM.
Tuesday, September 16: Pushing Daisies season 1 available on DVD. You can also watch episodes online for free.
Wednesday, October 1: Pushing Daisies season 2 starts (ABC).
Saturday, October 4: Ghoultide Gathering (Halloween Art Show), Northville
Friday, October 31: Deadline for Orphan Foundation of America (OFA) to receive any Red Scarf donations (scarf deadline only -- you can send money whenever you like!). Oh, and Halloween.
Knitterpalooza 2008 is tomorrow. Since all the house stuff fell through, I'm planning on going for at least part of the time. I'll be at the park around 2 PM, wearing my Ravelry name-tag pin. First, though, I'm meeting up with a sweet young woman I met at a party a couple of months ago for a knitting lesson. I love helping people learn my favorite craft! I almost wish it was crochet, so I could use the phrase "Hooked another one!"
(knitting) Knit an acorn cap, then sew it to a felt ball.
(cooking) Chocolate-covered Oreos
(sewing) Baby Gifts: lots of tutorials at Little Birdie Secrets, including decoupaged wooden hangers (would make pretty adult gifts too)
& Binky Clips. Via greetingarts.
(crafting for pets) Nice, long collection of tutes for pets & the people they own.
(giving) Actually, Skip to My Lou has several collections of links to all kinds of gift-giving ideas. Some of them have been on CFF in the past, many are new to me. One I liked was an updated how-to for the sleeping mask pattern I've shared in the past.
(cooking) Edible Googly Eyes
(crafting) Cute, Ribbon-covered Hair Clips
(crafting) DIY Cake Stand, via whip up. I am no longer pining for the acorn cake stand I didn't get at Joann Fabrics a few weeks ago.
(knitting) Sort of knitting. Twine stitch markers. I've been making mine out of simple jump rings and tiny buttons, and I still love them, but the way I lose them, maybe twine is an even more economically-sound solution for me. From the same source as above, I think. (Sometimes I get a whole bunch of tabs open and don't remember where I found the links.)
Thursday, September 11, 2008
This isn't going to be very eloquent, because I'm just not that clever today. This was a dark day in our recent history, and there were many heroes (none of whom are holding political office).
Seven years ago today, I was unemployed, and sitting on my couch watching TV when the first plane struck the two towers. I don't remember what show I was watching, but it was live, and switched over to Katie Couric (I do remember that) in time for the second plane to hit. I stayed glued to the television for most of the day, then went to the Red Cross. I gave blood, and started working there the next day - almost full time, volunteering until I got a paying job.
The first week or so was spent 100% on the phone. My "favorite" call was someone who wanted a guarantee that his blood would go to someone injured in NYC because he didn't believe in mixing blood, but would risk it for this kind of emergency. So, apparently, racists have hearts too. Sadly, we couldn't make that promise (the blood goes to wherever it's needed the most). Other than that guy and one other really ugly call that someone else got, and several of us tried to deal with, the outpouring of support and interest was astronomical. People just wanted to help. They didn't care how. They frequently didn't like hearing that they couldn't jump in a car and go to ground zero and be official Red Cross workers. But it was nice that they were willing. (There's a process; it's a long one, and you have to start months before you could be sent to a catastrophe. You start out small, responding to local fires, etc.)
I remember getting really angry with someone (a now-former friend) who criticized the passengers on the first three flights because she "wouldn't have just sat there." To which I replied with, "bullshit." A year later, I left an online community that I'd been heavily involved with for several years because there was an actual debate on whether or not there should be a moratorium on mentioning 9/11. Like it or not, it's part of our history now, and pretending it's not would be a slap in the face to those who lost - and gave - their lives.
We decided to make a low offer on the house, essentially what we could afford if the repairs cost at least $30k. We figured the bank would reject it, and were correct. What I was surprised about is that they didn't try to find a way to keep our deposit. They'd wanted $2k more, for a total of $3k, which our lawyer informed us was 6x the average amount. However, they've already released the funds and a check is on its way back. So, it cost us $600 (and a lot of time) to dodge a pretty hefty bullet. If we'd had a less thorough inspector, we could be the proud owners of a money pit we couldn't afford to fix or live in, and would have spent most of my inheritance to boot. We're dealing with some disappointment, of course, but with a mixture of relief as well.
Edited to add: John is convinced that the (female) agent we were working with on this project is afraid of me. Interesting.
At the bottom of this post are images of the inspection report. I'm including it here, with the address, in case another potential buyer does a search on the address. (click "Read More" if viewing in the blog -- I apologize to those reading this via a feed.) You should be able to click the smaller images to see it at a larger size. I'm not quite ready to post the name of the real estate agency that we dealt with, but interested, local parties who want to avoid a negative experience can send me an email and I'll share.
When I ran into the pharmacy today to pick up Sheldon's prescription, I paused in the magazine section to see if there were any new Halloween editions. I spotted this one and grabbed it right away. I like Matthew Mead's magazines, when I can find them (this is only the second one I've managed to find -- the first was a Holiday issue, for Christmas, which I wrote about on the old blog), so I bought it without flipping through it. It's a little pricey, at $11.99, so you might want to flip through it, or see my mini review, below. Unless you're like me, and just want to own Halloween mags. Then you'll buy it anyway. In my case, it's something I'll add to my collection, so I can justify it -- more like buying a book.
Note: after a quick scan, it's more of a book quality, but you will still find it with the magazines (so places like Borders won't honor %-off coupons, but places like Joann Fabrics and Michaels might (if they have them in stock)). There are several projects I'd like to try, so I definitely don't consider it a mistake to have purchased it without looking.
Once upon a time, the Matthew Mead Style website had lots of fun and clever ideas. It may still, but now it's subscription-based ($17.99 for 6 months), so I have no idea what's going on in there. (The only thing I pay an annual fee for is Flickr, and it's not likely to change.) The templates for the magazine are available without the subscription, though. I would have had to have a little fit, if they were referenced in the magazine but not available online without paying more, but there is no crisis here.
I used to be a kind of magazine addict. One day I realized that many of them were ridiculous, and I wasn't enjoying myself or finding much to inspire, and I pretty much stopped buying them. No fashion mags (wow, these pants are only $200!) or People. I will occasionally grab an MS Living, or decorating magazine (and I get Hallmark in the mail), but otherwise... they kind of leave me cold. But when October comes, I'm all over the magazines! MS Living is a must (I have maybe 11-12 years' worth), some special editions, like this one, etc. I do usually skip the women's magazines (Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Gardens) year-round, including the October issues, but I will check out Mary Engelbreit Home Companion, Country Living, etc. I recently discovered Birds & Blooms magazine, and think I'll be subscribing to that.
Sheldon, on John's shoulder - Memorial Day Weekend, 2006
Today was his check-up. We're a little late, but he's been doing so well that we weren't worried; however, one of his prescriptions ran out and he had to see the heart specialist to get them renewed, and we want to make sure he's really doing okay. I dropped him and John off at the hospital, and returned home to continue working until they were done. (I'm working at home today, and the hospital is less than a mile from our house.)
Results: he's doing very well. He needs to continue to take his meds (one twice a day, one once) and they're adding ¼ of a Pepcid because his tummy's been upset, but his blood pressure is normal and the upper chamber of the heart has reduced in size. His left retina is still partially detached, but otherwise his vision is good. I am SO an expert at giving pills to cats; not such a big fan of cutting them up, though. Major pain. At this moment, he's walking the house, dragging around some article of clothing he pulled out of a hamper, and yowling. Pretty much back to normal.
Later today, if a local store has it in stock, I want to get a copy of this book: Your Older Cat. It's time. We have three cats now who are considered senior, and their needs are changing. (Note: the book isn't available locally, so I've ordered it from Amazon (along with a cat behavior book).)
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
This is where the "rambling" part of the blog title comes in.
Nothing like ripping apart an old tv show, but I'm in the mood. I have a fondness for some of the PBS "House" "reality" shows and have three of them: 1900 House, Colonial House and Frontier House. They're frelling expensive, so I make sure friends, like Heather and Anita, who are also into this kind of thing get a chance to borrow them.
The deal with these shows is that they are promoted as historical/educational, but they are not too different from The Real World, just with different costumes and a limited locale.
I'm watching Colonial House for the second time since I received the DVDs, and have some observations to make. Some of these issues could be due to the editing/direction, but I'll name 'em anyway:
- Of course, the knitted wool hats and stockings rule. (I knit a Monmouth cap after I caught a couple episodes during the broadcast times, and want to do another, with more authentic yarn.) Sad to see no one knitting at all, and doing little in the way of needlework. Proof that these are more about the drama than the history, that they didn't have time - in 8 episodes - to show much beyond fighting and whining. (There were 2 instances that I'm aware of: 1 participant darning a sock, and a few of the ladies doing needlework once Heinz officially became governor.)
- Speaking of the Heinzes... I really wanted to like them. Especially the wife. But I couldn't. I realize that some of what we see was due to careful editing, but they can't fake the snark and elitism. I can understand why many of the participants didn't like the new CEO-type they sent in, but I thought he was pretty cool.
- From the voice overs, they make it clear that this cast of participants/characters was similar to real colonists in that many of the originals starved because they didn't know how to hunt or fish. But I doubt that they'd stand around and scoff after being shown where free and easy food was. (The clam flats. I only like my clams deep-fried, but I'd learn to love steamers if there was only 1 ration of meat a week!)
- I started writing this while I was halfway through the series, so "I guess there was a garden, because they had a radish once. But wouldn't this be crucial?" isn't 100% accurate. They actually show a garden in a later episode and show one of the servants cleaning up. Still, never showed anyone harvesting or eating from it (or planting it) except for that radish.
- Another early note: "If I could have been involved in the planning, I would have allowed people to do some research and make notes that they could take with them." Later: Turns out they had books, but I got the impression from something governor Wyers said that they never opened them. Helpful, that.
- The original colonists might not have known what plants were edible, etc., but some of them must have had a trade to bring with them. No one knew how to brew beer, make wine or cider. Hunt or trap. Or, if they did, it was never shown.
- Like how they didn't introduce all of the second group of colonists? One of the guys (Craig) finally - in the second-to-last episode - had his name under his face (another, Jeff, was identified a couple of episodes previous). Neither he nor Jeff were actually introduced.
- The best part for me: seeing how messed up a combined church and state was, and seeing people realize it.
Frontier House: LOVED seeing the newlyweds think outside the box for ways to earn money (cheese) - and the wife was actually shown knitting! LOVED the fact that the community decided on a private school because - if it were a real situation - the newlyweds' future (mixed-race) children wouldn't be allowed to attend a public school. The kids were the real stars. It was sad to watch a marriage fall apart, the exact opposite one I would have bet on during the first episode.
Even if the guy was kind of a whiny baby (I'm starving. No, you're dehydrated. That will be 50% of your savings, please), the one that picked a still as his one special item was pretty darn clever. I think his family was perceived as cheating more than once, but they showed some real ingenuity. If they hadn't gone into that one house to watch TV, I think they would have been fine trading with the family.
The 1900 House: Shortest, I think, but still one of the best. The first episode showed how they got the house retro'd to 1900 standards, then the family they picked. Because that time had regular mail delivery, she had access to resources and was able to research activities and food to keep the kids happy. I was right there with her and the one daughter when they couldn't go swimming (in their fabulous bathing costumes) because they were on the rag and tampons hadn't been invented. Finding out that take-out existed, in the form of fish 'n chips, is probably what got her son through it.
Not so good: sneaking to a drugstore to buy shampoo. Tsk tsk. It would be SO hard to be right in the middle of all the hustle & bustle of a big city and have to pretend it doesn't exist. Knowing that there's a bottle of Suave with your name on it, just around the corner.
I knew I started posting about the house too soon! Things are not looking good, people. I'm operating on about 4½ hours of sleep. This is going to be a long day!
Some things I've learned since the last time I was in the market:
- Buying or selling, I've come to the conclusion that you need a (competent) real estate agent. A buyer's agent is not just there to find you houses; they are also going to be the person on your side when it comes time to negotiate. That probably sounds like a "Duh" to many people, but I honestly thought for years that they just weren't worth it -- if you could find the property on your own, you didn't need one. Wrong! Edited to add: Some agents are just sleazy. If the agents we're working with now were on our side, we wouldn't want them on our side. John has a friend who has told us wild horror stories. So, don't work with one you don't feel comfortable with.
- It's worth it to pay a lawyer for a couple of hours to review purchase agreements. We don't know how much we have to pay ours, because he's my brother's coworker and we never discussed money, but he saved us some serious hassles since we didn't do #1, above, and the seller's agents have a) lied to us at every turn, and b) tried to slip little changes into the documents between versions. (Example of a lie: the listing agent, a contractor himself, swore to us that the sump pump was new and operational. It's ancient and grody and not plugged in, because the floater is broken. There is a supplementary pump for the cellar entrance that is newer, but that's not what we asked him about.)
- It's VERY worth it to hire a nop-notch inspector. We watched this show a couple of weeks ago, and one of the participants mentioned the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI). First, we tried getting a recommendation. My rep (work) just bought a bank-owned house in the spring, and highly recommended her very thorough inspector; however, he isn't licensed in the county the house is in. So, we turned back to NAHI (we'd already looked him up there).
Dontcha know, the inspector John hired is, like, the god of home inspectors. He founded NAHI. Probably the single most thorough inspector, ever, and even then couldn't inspect everything (during the seven hour orderal) because of the problems with the house. He was more expensive than some others, but worth every dime. He must have royally pissed off the listing agent, because she kept commenting on how long it was taking (she was of the opinion - shared with me - that inspections should take no longer than two hours). Near the end, he kicked her out because she was hovering and he wanted to talk to John without her. He revealed to John that they (the seller's agents) had lied to him from the get-go.
- He raved about the floors. The dining, living and maybe all the other rooms besides the bathroom and kitchen are 3" oak, beautifully done.
- The ceilings are original plaster and in the best shape he's ever seen in a house from that time (built in the 60s).
- The cabinetry is absolute top-of-the-line.
- Roof and attic are in good shape, although it needs more insulation.
- He actually thought the not-yet-completed first floor laundry room was a good idea and pretty well done.
- If we do get it for our next offer, and invest the ~$30k (probably more, b/c isn't that the way it goes?), the house will immediately double in value: double the combined cost of the house and the repairs.
- What amazed me is that he didn't say "RUN!" He thinks it's doable, and a nice house, just not worth remotely what they're asking, or what we were going to pay.
- The only thing the previous owner* did right was the floors. The electrical wiring, while all new, is very badly done. Some of the wiring is backwards, not grounded, etc.. There is actually a live (hot) wire hanging down from the ceiling in one room; if someone touched it, they'd be dead. (Pat flipped that circuit off and noted it in the report.) There is an outlet by the front door (exterior) that is neither grounded nor waterproof.
- There is not only not a new well, as the agents informed Pat**, there isn't an official, legal well at all. There is a shallow, "bubba" well, probably hand-dug when the home was built, but no water supply to the house, not really. Getting a new well is the biggest part of the estimated cost.*** All the other stuff is smallish, but adds up.
- Weird little things like: wall tile on the floor of the bathroom. Pretty and shiny, but guaranteed to cause a slip and fall.
The offer will be in the form of an email with a number and the attached inspection. Nothing more.
This will be my last update about this or any house until we're done.
*A little detective work by our intrepid inspector turned up details about the previous owner. He bought it for him and his girlfriend, and did the work himself, but she dumped him and he abandoned the whole shebang. He is probably NOT the one that removed things like the water filter.
**They told him that they hadn't been able to locate the documents, but assured him that there was, indeed, a new well. Nope.
***We really like that Pat said he would not consider bidding on the job, because he felt it would be a conflict of interest. (I agree, just didn't expect to hear that. After all, the listing agent is foaming at the mouth to bid on it.)
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
I didn't mention before that John's ring tone when I call him is the music from the driving scene in Psycho. I picked it out, but I wonder if other people will believe him?
The inspection is this morning. I won't be there -- time is of the essence and if the guy is available this AM, then that's when it's taking place. John will be there the entire time.
I am going to start packing, and paring down. First to go:
- VHS tapes. I have piles of them. We're keeping a few, but most will have to go. Any suggestions (charities?) and/or takers? I have the entire series of Twin Peaks on tape, including the premiere episode.
- Books. I'm going to start packing books, too. Unless the author is an old favorite, if I haven't felt the need to reread a book in a series in a couple of years, I'm going to get rid of it. All of my
Grishamsare going (spoken for), and some of my Pattersons. My old sewing table/machine. I'll probably put it on Craig's List for a small amount ($10?) unless someone that reads this - and is local - wants it. It's a built-in machine. Doesn't work for me, but probably only needs a cleaning, or tuning, or whatever they do to sewing machines.(spoken for)
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Current song obsession:
I didn't play Portal -- the first-person stuff makes me dizzy & nauseated -- but John did. I watched him for awhile (before I got woozy), then he showed me the closing credits. It's only recently that I've decided I just love this song. It's on my iPod, to add to the already-eclectic mix. (If you play Rock Star, it's available as a selection -- probably have to download it? (I don't have the coordination for any game like that so I don't know the specifics.))
I will probably always love any media that talks about "doing science." (Obscure Lost Skeleton of Cadavra reference, perhaps? That's why I like it. ) For the record, I understand that the cake is Black Forest, which is probably my all-time favorite (if it's done right).
For my own gaming action, I'm deep into Viva Piñata 2. Just my speed. (WoW is on hold because of the monthly cost for 2 accounts, plus time.)
In addition, I think I'm developing a little girl crush on Felicia Day, because it was this video that reminded me of the Portal theme. I didn't even finish watching it before I asked John to share his MP3 version of it with me. Then John sent me a link to The Guild, and I sat up late and watched every one of the ten episodes (and will get it on DVD, along with Dr. Horrible (which she is also in)). She has a blog, too. (In my defense, John found the video at the top of this paragraph on the blog and sent me the link. I'm NOT stalking her. Promise.)
Oh! My acorn keyring is already here! Look:
So well done. I can't do my split keychain (where I detach the car key so I can warm up my car and have it locked) with it, because it makes the whole thing too long. But... don't care right now. Really.
Source: Iron Oak Forge via the Just Acorns group on Flickr.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
My husband has a cell phone.
What with buying a house over an hour away, there is just no way we can keep on without him having one. The conditions were: (1) cheapest phone possible (free is best) and (2) only I have the number. (He really hates cell phones.)
Now, his free phone (Motorola) is better than mine (Samsung), which was free about a year and a half ago*. He's having fun creating ringtones, where I can't even download ones I'd have to pay for. (I've hated this phone since it arrived. Sucky design, limited in so many ways.)
*We're similar in our hatred of expensive cell phones. Me, because I tend to drop them (or have a cat pee on them (happened)); him, because he hates cell phones (why pay extra?).
Friday, September 5, 2008
So. Our offer was accepted. We have next week to get the house inspected and have the lawyer review the paperwork again, and turn over the payment the following week. Yikes! The bank countered our first offer, and we countered in turn. They accepted that offer. Funny thing? It was the amount we'd originally planned on starting with before they started jacking around.
The place needs a lot of work, so we won't be moving right away, but will probably be in by late October.
- Please let me know if you'll need a change of address from us. I think I have most addresses I need, but I'm not sure how accurate it is.
- Want to help paint? We won't say no.
Click below to see a few pics.
One this is closed in, it will probably be my favorite place in the world.
Basement entrance. This has already been all cleared out. We will, of course, replace the door for a sturdier one. One concern (that the inspector can answer for us) is the drain there at the bottom of the stairs.
I was hoping this would be longer, but my bloglines (where I find many treasures to share) is on strike. More next week!
(geeky) Tenuous craft connection. I finally caved and joined yet another media-related group on Ravelry, Supernatural Fans*, and found a couple of interesting links right off the bat that I thought I'd share: Index of every song played in every episode so far (3 seasons); Sam & Dean's Supernatural Tea (an Adagio signature blend created by a couple members of the group.) In case you missed it, season 3 was released on DVD on Tuesday, 2 September, and some packages (available at Best Buy only) come with a miniature replica of the Impala (pictured here).
(sewing) Produce Bags from Doilies
(embellishing) Turn a lamp shade frame into a work of art
(crafting) Paper Fortune Cookies, via How About Orange. I have made the real thing (and will again, once we move and I have a kitchen I can move around in) and the process is similar, except that you don't have to wear cotton gloves or reach into a hot stove. You also don't get anything to eat.
(scrapping (digitally))Every month, the Shabby Princess posts a free scrapbook-y computer wallpaper, with calendar, just waiting for your pictures.
(lighting) Too nifty temporary LED lights for the garden (or elsewhere), via NotMartha
*Because I already belong to a lot of groups** (for me -- some people belong to over 100), I usually make myself quit one group when I join another. On the chopping block this time: the Miss Marple group. Nothing wrong with the group itself, but the main focus is the current BBC series, which I despise.
**37, but there are several inactive ones that I'm hesitant about quitting, one of which is just a group for trash threads from another inactive group. So, about 32 active groups, three of which I actually own, another five that I co-moderate.
I fully intend to have a CFF post later today. I will make every attempt to have it still fall on a Friday (in my time zone).
Did you see the new banner? It's interim -- I have something else planned, but need to a) make it, and b) photograph it. This is a combo of a scan of some fabric (a thrifted shirt that I'm hoarding) and a button I made from it.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
I discovered Iron Oak Forge via the Just Acorns group on Flickr, and had to order the acorn key chain (his picture -- I only ordered this AM). My clunky car remote is going to ruin the aesthetic, but I don't care. This is so perfect for me!
If you're new to reading this blog, you may not have noticed my acorn obsession. It will become more apparent as time goes on (especially when I change the blog's header (planned)).
I also ordered a couple of items from Mamacita Beadworks that have been on my favorites list for several weeks (maybe longer).
My daily-wear necklace needs replacing. It's lovely, but it consists of pieces given to me by people that don't speak to me any longer. For the time being, it's a painful reminder of friendships lost, and it needs to go into a drawer.
There must be acorns, so one will be this "funky nut" from Mamacita. I like skeleton keys, and this itty-bitty one has just drawn me to it. John wears an antique skeleton key around his neck every day. It was part of my wench garb back in the day, and has a heart-shaped opening (he tells people it's the key to my heart, and it was hard to get, which is why it was so beat up). The little key I've ordered doesn't have the heart-shaped opening, but I told him about it, and he likes the idea of us each having a key around our necks.
These two pieces will join something else (not decided) on a new chain (not found) around my neck. I'll share pics when it's done. I need to find some seriously heavy-duty jump rings. Suggestions?
Jewelry in General
When it comes to jewelry, I am not a switcher. Meaning, I get one pair of earrings that I like and wear them until I lose one (currently, my lobes are nekkid). I wear one necklace. I have two rings: my wedding ring and the sterling wedding band my mom made for my dad. I own tons of jewelry, including several nice pieces that were my mom's, but even if I wore gold (all she wore), she was the tiniest little thing, and none of her rings fit. (Someday, I'm going to take some of it to the brilliant guys that made my wedding ring (using John's design) and have them make something for me.)
Oh! Firefly fans: Mamacita has a Firefly pendant. I'm thinking about making this the third item for my necklace, and hanging the other items from it, along with a colorful bead or two.
If you're even a little obsessed with acorns, I suggest checking out the Flickr group linked in the first paragraph. In addition, I have tagged all of my related images in Flickr with an acorn tag. Also, keep any eye on my Wishlist (in the sidebar). I keep it for myself, mainly, because Amazon now has this nifty feature - a button for your browser toolbar - where you can add things from anywhere. No more emailing links to myself! I've started marking nifty acorn things so I can find them later.
As soon as I'm able to gather up a nice selection of acorns and caps, I'm going to try my hand at needle-felting to make some acorns like these made by my Flickr & swap buddy Craftsty. (I have one of the pouches shown, with a small handful of very well-done needle-felted acorns.)
On my way home from work last night, I stopped to mail some long overdue packages. (I still have one to go.) A couple of doors down from the PO is a nice Hallmark store, where, once upon a time, I paid a ridiculous sum of money for a small wooden bowl (one of the two pictured here). I popped in to see if they had any fun stuff for my Halloween goody bags (no) and spotted two of the larger bowls. I cautiously turned over one, and saw - to my astonishment - that the prices had been changed to something much more reasonable ($9.95) AND that they were 30% off that price. Of course I bought them both (oh yeah: I'm also totally obsessed with wooden bowls). I also hit their clearance area (80% off everything) and picked up some out-of-this-world stationary and a could of other things, for anywhere from 30¢ to $2. I love clearances!
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
I apologize for the lack of updates, but there is just not a lot going on. I finished my scarf for the 2009 Red Scarf Project and started on something I've wanted to do for a long time: this 2-row Noro scarf. I'm grateful for the opportunity to do ads-for-yarn, because otherwise, I don't think I could bring myself to make a scarf with yarn this pricey. But darn it, I love how this is turning out! Basically, you get 2 colorways of any Noro yarn (this is Silk Garden), work in some kind of ribbing (this is Mistake Rib) and switch the yarn every two rows. Each yarn is variegated, so you end up with a really fascinating color combination. The idea is that you could close your eyes and grab any two colorways and end up with something fabulous.
Because I'm doing a Mistake Rib, I didn't have to cast on quite as many stitches to get the width I wanted, so I'm thinking that I'll have enough for a hat. (I have 2 balls of each colorway.)
I've been knitting on it while watching movies (or season 5 of NCIS) with John, and took it on a little road trip yesterday. (We love our mini road trips!) I sincerely wish we had a pet that liked riding in the car. That was really the only thing missing but, alas, not one of our cats likes travel.
Aside: we took one more chance and bid on the house we like so much. This time, all pretense of niceness on our part was gone. They refused to do business with our new agent, so we laid down the law and let them know, in no uncertain terms, that this was their one and only chance to get this right. No one else wants this house. It's quirky and needs work. We lowered our offer - not a lot, just enough to make a point - and insisted on getting the purchase agreement in advance. We had a lawyer review it, and went back with "make these changes or we aren't meeting." Surprise. All the things they balked at last time, like listing the seller's name on the paperwork, were suddenly fine.
Anyway. I could go on and on about the plans we're making, despite our earnest attempts to not get our hopes up. When John proposed a little road trip yesterday to scope out some of the small towns in the area, I agreed, but only if we didn't go near the house.
We drove through some of the towns without seeing any evidence of "town." We got a huge kick out of Grape, Michigan, in Raisinville Twp. At the crossroads was a house covered in grapevines - with grapes. The weather was lovely. We had one upsetting moment when we drove through Waltz to see what was on the other side (nothing), and passed a sod farm. The stench from the fertilizer was so intense that it made us both a little sick for several minutes. So, note to self: don't drive through Waltz. Stop at the Inn (Waltz Inn, LOL) and get some yummy food, then turn around and go out the way you came.
If we get this house, I want to name it. I've always wanted a house with a name. John likes toads, and we found one the first time we went into the basement, but "Toad Hollow" is out (because it's kind of obvious). We both like acorns, especially me, and there are, I believe at least two oaks on the property, so something to do with acorns would be nice. gidesigns has a couple very nifty acorn doorknockers. I want them both, to be honest. One will go onto at least one door, no matter what we name the house.
If our offer is accepted, and the house passes inspection, I'll have so much more to say! It's been difficult, to say the least, to keep myself from thinking too much about it, and to have it all out in the blog would be bothersome if things didn't come to pass. So, please, light candles, say prayers, cross fingers, etc.