Monday, November 30, 2009

Trying to make plans

Well, my husband will be gone for a week, and I have stuff that I need to do, and I had better do it. So I should not waste time on the computer and such. I have knitting to do and cleaning to do, and there are deadlines. One Christmas get-together on the 13th, and another on the 19th, and probably stuff to do with my family on the 24th, and maybe someplace to be on the 22nd or the 23rd, and something else to do on the 12th if I have the time. I need to finish Miss Allergies scarf and get started on the pilot's gift and get something for G and finish up with the gifts for R and K. I need to put fringe on scarves that I have already made and probably try to squeeze in two more scarves before the 13th.

And most of that stuff needs to be done this week, because there are plans for next week. I am planning to go out of town Sunday, and I plan to be gone til that Wednesday, if not longer. And that won't leave a lot of time for knitting or cleaning or anything else if I have to get stuff done before the 13th, and other stuff done before the 19th.

And then I still don't know what gifts I will need before the 24th, so I will probably still have stuff to do even after the 19th.

Anyway, on Sunday I hope to be out of the house for a few days. As usual, most of the time will be spent in a motel room watching cable, but there are other plans. We will be going to a place that used to be special to us, but we have been there so many times that after a while going there is no big deal. We have done most of the stuff there is to do and seen what there is to see. If it costs money we probably don't bother with it anymore. I have a couple of friends there that I don't even visit, cause I just don't want to have to explain what has happened, and I really don't know how to have the catching up conversation without getting into it. So there is this place that used to be very special, and then was sort of special, and then was sort of old hat.

But it was still an excuse to get out of the house for a while.

And while I was debating on whether or not I should go this trip, my husband really started to get into the idea of making this a nice trip. While we have already been to all the places in the area that we would really care about, I don't think that we have been in the area much around Christmas, and there are several places that we have not been at night, and so that would really be nice to see.

Of course that is next week, and this week Grandma is coming home, though I don't know what day. I had planned to help out some, even if I don't take the "job", and now I am planing to go out of town on the 6th.

So I'm sure that my mother isn't going to be happy about that.

This is one of the reasons that I don't want the "job", though it certainly isn't the main reason. But if I had a regular job and I needed the day off or if I wanted to go away for a few days, there would be a way for me to do that. I might not aways get the day off that I wanted, and I might not be able to go out of town during a particular week or month, but there would be a way to get someone else to cover for me for short periods of time, and there would be someone else who could do the work on my day off, if there was even anything that needed to be done on my day off. My mother has so far not even been able to tell me what hours I would have this "job", or what would be my day off, or what would happen on a day that I get sick, or what would happen if there is ice on the road and I can't drive, or if someone else could take over for a few days if I just needed a break.

I am afraid that my mother is going to try to talk me out of going out of town Sunday. And then the "job" will probably not work out, and after a week or two they will have to make other arrangements, and I'll have missed out on the trip for nothing.

And of course if I am going to go on this trip I need to get the house cleaned before Sunday anyway. In addition to the knitting and the usual stuff that needs to be done.

I am tired just thinking about it. I would like to go back to bed now.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Black Friday and Grandma

Well, it has been a while, hasn't it. I have sort of been busy. You would think that I have been busy knitting, and I should be. More like, I'm getting ready to knit, but I'm not really doing that much actual knitting at the moment, though I am still working on the scarf for Miss Allergies. I am getting ready to knit something for the pilot, but I not quite certain about it, and I haven't gotten started on it yet because I'm afraid that I will make a mistake and have to start all over again. And I really cannot make a mistake and start over, cause I don't have enough supplies. I must be certain of what I am doing before I get started.

Anyway, I did finally clean that bathroom that I haven't done anything about since I hurt my knee. And then after my knee felt better, I put off the cleaning for another week or two, as after I have put off a chore for a while the chore gets worse and worse, and it is almost like I become afraid of it. Anyway, now I also have to tackle cleaning the frig, which is also difficult to do with an injured knee, and I have to wash a very large pile of dishes.

I have no excuse for the large pile of dishes. My ability to wash dishes doesn't really have anything to do with whether or not my knee hurts. But after I don't do them for a few days, they reach a certain mass, and then it is just really difficult to deal with. So I will have to do that soon, whether I feel up to it or not.

I have had a lot to eat. Not like you might think. In spite of spending all that money on groceries so that we wouldn't be tempted to go out, we still managed to go out to eat twice, and have ice cream twice in addition to that. But mostly we have stayed in, except that I went out once with my mom (mostly without problems), and he has been cooking a bit, and we went to Thanksgiving dinner at Uncles G's place.

At Thanksgiving dinner I expected to have all sorts of things to eat that I would really like, but most of it wasn't quite what I wanted. Now, there were plenty of pies. We joked that there were enough pies for each person to eat a whole pie, and I did eat pie and I did take home half of a pie. But the other stuff wasn't quite what I expected, except for the turkey and the ham. But this year mom only made pies, so the rest of the stuff just wasn't as good as mom's.

I had been worried about what to bring, and that my stuff wouldn't be as good as everyone else's. After seeing all the Google searches for Rudy's creamed corn that lead people here by mistake, I decided to try that one myself. I found a recipe for two pounds of frozen corn, a tablespoon of sugar, eight ounces of cream cheese, a quarter cup of cream, and half a stick of butter. So I made that, except that I didn't find two pounds of frozen corn and used three twelve ounces packages instead. And when I got the idea, that seemed like plenty, but it wasn't. But it turned out to be enough as one of the families had something come up and didn't make it to Uncle G's place.

I have a turkey. I like turkey, so I buy one when it is on sale, even though we rarely make it for other people. So the turkey is thawed now, and I should cook it today or tomorrow.

So after Thanksgiving comes...Black Friday.

Now, I tend to go shopping on Black Friday, but as I am usually more organized than this, I usually shop mainly for myself on that day. Except that I usually also get a few more things, like I usually go get a few more things at Bath and Body Works. I didn't go there this year, cause I just didn't have the money, which is sad because they had the most excellent deal "while supplies last" and if you spent forty dollars you could buy this other hundred dollar thing for fifteen. And I really kept trying to reason out how I could do that, but I really couldn't, and I decided to be on the safe side that I should avoid the area.

This year the shopping was entirely for me. I bought two pair of jeans that I can wear now, and one to grow on. Or rather, one to shrink into, just in case. And I bought a mixer and a chopper.

Before you tell me how selfish I am for shopping for myself instead of Christmas presents, well, I can't do Christmas shopping for other people or do anything else for other people if I am naked. I really did need those jeans, and I have put off buying them till now, cause I was hoping that they would be about half price at Walmart like last year. And they were. And I got a free t-shirt with each one. I think having the bundle with the free t-shirt cut down on the confusion on which jeans were the sale price. Last year I finally figured out that the ones on sale had the bar code in a different place. This year you just had to find the ones with the t-shirt attached. This year's jeans were nine dollars, while last years were eight dollars, but I still think that it worked out better. I haven't tried on the t-shirts yet, so I'm guessing that they won't look good, but I'm pretty happy about the jeans. As happy as I'm going to be the way I look now.

And the mixer, well, I don't think that I have one, and I need one, especially if I might be expected to exchange baked goods with someone, or bake something for a party. So now I have a mixer for such an occasion.

Okay, for Christmas with my friends I need something for G (not Uncle G, and not S, different G), I have already wrapped something for J, I need to make final touches on stuff for R and K, and I am working on stuff for Miss Allergies and the pilot.

Christmas with my family still has not been discussed, though I can now cross my fingers and hope for a baked goods exchange or some really cheap gift exchange. That was half of what we did last year, and I actually thought that part was more fun. Less stress and all of that.

But now there is Christmas with my extended family, which I did not expect, and that is going to be in about two weeks. I am thinking about knitting a scarf for that, if I have the time. I haven't made scarfs for any of them, so they might actually want one. And it is one of those things where you "steal" gifts from other people, so hopefully someone who actually wants the gift actually ends up with it. I'm just not sure if I'll have enough time, but I'll try using the other knitting machine now that I have seen the YouTube video on how to fix dropped stitches.

So that should be fun.

My husband is going out of town for a week, so that should leave me plenty of time to knit. I just have to make myself do it, and all the other stuff that I will have to do that week. The next week he is going out of town for a few days, and he wants me to go with him. And, the way the schedule is now, he isn't supposed to work that weekend, so I could go with him and not miss anything that I have planned. However, if the schedule changes while we are out of town, I'm screwed. So I will have to give it some more thought. And of course, it will depend on how much knitting I get done, and how much cleaning I get done, etc....

And then, there is Grandma.

Now, those of you who have really been paying attention know that my mother has been trying to get me to help her take care of Grandma for the last four or five years. This has lead to serious problems between us, almost to the point where I have thought that the next time she mentions this I will totally cut mom out of my life. My mother claims that I haven't made myself clear on the subject, that I have said that I would rather not, that I haven't ever said absolutely not and do not mention this again.

So now I have said that, and that should be the end of it, right?

Anyway, Grandma had to go to the hospital for something, and when she got out they put her in a nursing home. Not the nice assisted living place that she used to be in, but a nursing home. So I thought that was the end of that.

But everyone seems to think that she is better now, except that the doctors do not think that she is well enough to live by herself, and if she is going home she will need someone with her 24/7.

Grandma wants to go home and does not think that she needs anyone 24/7. Her plan is that we take her home, and that she has someone there for the first few days, and then we just lie to the doctors and do whatever we want to do, not what they say.

So my mom calls, and she says right up front that she knows I don't want to do it, she's just mentioning it cause one of my uncles said I should have first refusal. So I think that she isn't really asking me to do this again, just that she's telling me what they are going to do, and that they are going to hire someone to help Grandma, just that the someone isn't going to be me.

And then as she goes on and on about it, I realize that she still is asking me, she just doesn't think that it counts because she's asking on behalf of one of the uncles instead of herself.

The odd thing is that I am actually considering it, if I can get a straight answer from someone, maybe one of my uncles.

Anyway, I would help on those first few days for free, cause I figure that we are all going to help out a bit for those first few days. And depending on how that goes, I would think about it. I do need the money, and at this point they are willing to pay me as much as they would have to pay an agency, which is a minimum of fifteen an hour for a minimum four hours.

I just can't quite understand what I would be doing for those four hours, would it be more than four hours, what time would those four hours be, etc...?

Sometimes my mother talks like I would just be running errands. But I don't really think that is it, because I have offered to run errands before (even for free) and I rarely get called to do that. And we would still have to talk about the important stuff, like what if I have an accident while I have this "job", and what if I get sick, and what if I just need a day off, etc.... When you get a real job, someone knows the answers to this stuff. My mother just seems to think I'm making stuff up.

So I am thinking that I will help out for a few days and see what happens.

I still don't have a flu shot. Grandma won't like that. Maybe mom will pay to get me one. Maybe this will get us all on the list for the h1n1 shot. That would be good.

I still don't think that I want to do it, but I'm thinking that if I did it for a few days and it didn't work out that would finally be the end off it.

Anyway, I have knitting to do.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

An eBay dilemma, and glow in the dark stuff

Okay, so I had this brilliant idea that I should get some glow in the dark yarn. I had seen some on sale at Michael's last year, but by the time I got to the store they were all sold out. So I didn't get any last Halloween, but I didn't think that was my only chance at getting the stuff. I thought that either it was just a new product and I would see it later, or maybe it was a seasonal thing that they only sold at Halloween.

Turns out that I was wrong on both counts, and that Michael's probably got that yarn at a discount because Bernat was discontinuing the product. So there was no glow in the dark yarn for sale later in the year, and it did not re-appear on the shelves in October like I had thought. A few online places still had some, but I didn't have the money for all the yarn I wanted and the shipping.

While I was waiting for there to be more money available, the online place sold out of half the colors, mostly the half that I wanted to buy.

Then I found some on eBay. I didn't want to get in a big bidding war over a product I hadn't even tried yet, but I did get a little bit for a reasonable price, and then the shipping wasn't bad (though not as good as just being able to pick it up at the store and not pay shipping).

So I have nice things to say about the eBay merchant, but the yarn itself was a total disappointment. There was a reason the stuff was discontinued. It doesn't work. Or at least, it doesn't work very well. I bought yellow, and it was more like yellow with an off-white streak. Only the off-white streak glows, not the whole piece of yarn. And then it doesn't glow for very long, maybe about five minutes.

Of course, it says that it will glow five minutes right on the label, so maybe if I had bought it at a store I would have noticed that. And maybe if I had bought it at a store last year I would have taken the stuff back for a refund. As it is I am keeping the stuff, cause it isn't worth the postage to send it back if I could get a refund.

A few other companies sell glow in the dark yarn, but most of them sell to sports stores for stuff like catching fish, and I have heard that it doesn't smell wonderful. And there is one company that sells directly to clothing manufacturers, but unless someone has leftover stock to put on eBay, I don't see how I'm going to get any of that either.

So before I totally gave up on the idea of having glow in the dark yarn, I decided to try getting some glow in the dark paint from Michael's and trying to make my own glow in the dark yarn. Not that I was going to make a lot of it. Not like I was going to make a whole glow in the dark sweater or scarf, but I might want some glow in the dark letters or glow in the dark cat eyes or something like that.

Okay, so I can make tiny bits of glow in the dark yarn with paint from Michael's. Except that it is very stiff when I get done making it, so it isn't going to be easy to knit with. And it isn't especially pretty in the daylight. And it lasts longer than five minutes, though maybe not as long as I might have liked.

So, I tried ordering some glow in dark paint on eBay. This was supposed to be some great new stuff that would glow much longer than the stuff from Michael's. And it came in more colors, and I would really like blue, and Michael's didn't have blue. So, I bid on a few things.

Now, if you buy something on eBay (or from anyone else online or from a catalog) you have to pay shipping and handling. Now, this might just mean whatever the actual postage is. Or, more likely, this is the actual postage plus the cost of the box (or envelope) and the packing materials. And sometimes it means the actual postage plus the cost of the box and the packing materials, and something for the time of the person having to pack the stuff, cause they don't work for free.

Here's where it gets interesting (and really, really upsetting if you bid on something before you read everything). On eBay, eBay gets paid (by the seller) fees for listing the item and for having pictures of the item, etc...and maybe there's also a percentage of the final sell price. The listing fees are smaller for items with lower opening bids. So, there are items with opening bids of one cent or ninety-nine cents, and while the bidding usually goes higher, sometimes the items actually sell at the opening bid.

Okay, for the most part, sellers on eBay are not running charities. They don't want to pay thirty cents in listing fees so that you can buy something for a nickel. They don't want to sell stuff for a dollar and not make any profit. And they for sure don't want to lose money at the end of the day, even if you are a really nice person and just love whatever they are selling.

So, maybe, that silver ring that you won for a bid of fifty cents has a shipping fee of six dollars. That means that you just bought a silver ring for six dollars and fifty cents. A silver ring for six dollars and fifty cents doesn't sound too bad. If it sounds like a good deal to you, that's great. If that isn't what you wanted to pay, too bad, you should have read that stuff before you bid on the ring.

Of course, the actual postage for the ring was less than a dollar. The box and/or envelope and packaging materials were also less than a dollar. Maybe the seller actual paid a dollar or so for the ring. So if the seller's expenses were about three dollars, then the seller made a profit of three dollars and fifty cents from your winning bid of fifty cents.

I don't think that is so bad. I don't think the seller is evil. The seller is just trying to make some money, and that is probably not an unreasonable amount of money.

If the shipping was fifty dollars, that would have been an unreasonable amount of money. But you should have read what the shipping was before you bid on it. If you bid on things first and then try to negotiate less shipping afterward, it is probably you who is being unreasonable.

Sometimes a seller will do combined shipping. Maybe the first silver ring is shipped for six dollars, and up to three more rings could be shipped for an additional four dollars each. The seller is probably going to make an additional three dollars profit each on those. But that is the limit. The seller really wants that three dollars profit. You can't assume that the seller is going to get you a better deal than that, even if you buy more stuff.

And if you really think that the seller is going to put two dozen silver rings (especially silver rings that you had winning bids of about fifty cents) in a flat rate box that would only cost six dollars to ship and then only actually charge you that same six dollars for the shipping...are you really that dumb? Why would anyone send you a box of two dozen silver rings for eighteen dollars? Did you think someone really had a business set up to give away jewelry like that? Did the seller suddenly decide that silver rings were so unpleasant to have around that he would rather pay to have them sent away than to have them around anymore?

Several years ago I bought a lot of jewelry from this one seller. Opening bids were usually a penny or a nickel, and I usually stopped bidding between a dollar or two. Shipping was five dollars. They would combine shipping for up to three items at no extra cost. If I won something that I really wanted for two dollars or less, I would then put minimum bids on other things until I had won two more items, so then I usually got three items for six or seven dollars. So I usually got the items for an average of two dollars and twenty-five cents. Most of them I wanted, but once in a while I bought either something that I already had or a ring that didn't fit me. I figured that I could either sell it myself or give it to a friend. I got a lot of my Christmas shopping done early that way.

I was probably not that seller's favorite buyer, at an average of two twenty-five per item they were not making much money from me. But I usually got what I wanted and it was delivered in a reasonable amount of time and all of that. I left them positive feedback, and they did the same for me. Unfortunately, after years of mostly positive feedback from people who either had a brain and read the listings, or else didn't mind paying five dollars shipping, the seller got a lot of negative feedback and they don't sell on eBay anymore. I hope that they got a new name and tried again. I really liked them. Not that I need any jewelry at the moment, but it would be nice if they were around if I wanted something later.

Back to the glow in the dark stuff.

I had seen a few sellers on eBay with this glow in the dark paint that is supposed to be much better than the stuff I was buying from Michael's. I noticed one seller a while back, and I planned to buy stuff from them as soon as I got some money. Most of their stuff started with a ninety-nine cent opening bid, and they wanted six dollars shipping for the first item, and three dollars for each additional item, up to whatever you might buy for the next fourteen days.

By the time I actually bid on anything, the shipping had gone up a bit. Six ninety-five for the first item and three fifty-five for the additional items. Still, not too bad if the product actually does what I want it to do.

I started biding. I bid too much for the purple, but at the time, I really thought I wanted it. After that I would bid a bit more than the opening bid, and if I didn't get it, no big deal, there was something else to bid on tomorrow.

I didn't win something, but I got a second chance offer to buy it for just under three dollars. I probably didn't think about that too much before I agreed. Then I won three more. So I won five colors for about eleven or twelve dollars, and the shipping I had agreed to was like nineteen dollars, so I actually spent just over thirty-one dollars. The actually cost of postage is under three dollars, a bit more for the bubble-wrap envelope, and about fifteen dollars went into the seller's pocket. The seller is not really interested in my artistic efforts, the seller is trying to make some money.

So that was a bit more than I wanted to pay, but if the paint does what I want it to do, it would be worth that.

So the items came yesterday, and I am supposed to leave feedback. The seller has already left me positive feedback for prompt payment and so forth.

I am not sure what I am going to do.

The clear-day/green-night paint, which I bought as an afterthought due to the second chance offer, is excellent. It might actually glow all night as advertised. I meant to test it, but I forgot and turned on the bathroom light this morning, and now it is slightly recharged. Anyway, even if it doesn't glow fourteen hours as promised, it does glow quite a lot, and I think that it will work very well for me. I want more of this stuff.

The other colors aren't what I had hoped for.

Still in the tube, the other colors don't do much of anything. I am trying not to rush to judgement, and I have read that the colors glow better once they are actually painted on something rather than just in the tube, and that they glow better after the paint has dried for a few days, and that the paint is best over something white and doesn't work very well on something black, and that the painted item might need a thicker coat of paint or a second coat, and that if I want it to stay looking really good I should put a clear coat over it.

So I have done a test strip with the blue and the aqua. They do seem to glow better after they have dried, though they do not look as good as the test strips from the stuff I got from Michael's. They will probably need a second coat, which will mean that I will only have about half as much finished yarn to work with, or I will have to buy twice as much paint. And while the yarn isn't as stiff now as the other test strips, it will be stiffer after a second coat. As for putting a clear coat on top, that might make the yarn mostly unusable.

But my problems with painting yarn are my problems, not the seller's. The seller didn't tell me to try to paint yarn.

Anyway, I think that I'm going to have to test all of the paint, two coats each, and let them thoroughly dry for about a week before I can really see what I am getting. But here is what I can tell from the two test strips so far. The blue and the aqua do not glow blue and aqua. They glow that same greenish yellow that I got from the clear-day/green-night color, and it just looks like most every other glow in the dark thing that I have. So that is very disappointing, even if it does eventually glow for a long time as promised.

But they do look very blue and aqua under black light. But I wasn't really planning to carry a black light around with my knitting projects, and I doubt that the people I might give the finished projects to would carry a black light around with them either.

Okay, I am not returning the items. That is not even an option. If I had bought them in a store, I would probably take them all back except for the green and exchange them for more green. But I didn't buy them at a store, I bought them online, and if I asked for a refund I wouldn't get back the shipping, plus I would have to pay three dollars to have the items shipped back, plus I would probably be charged a restocking fee. So that would eat almost half of what I would get back anyway.

And I really think the green is pretty good, and I might want to buy more of it later. I don't want to leave really negative feedback, or they won't want to sell me anymore paint. And I'm not going to complain about the shipping, because I'm not an idiot, and I get that the shipping was really for the profit that they should have made from the paint itself. I just don't know what to put about the item being as described. One of the items does seem to be exactly as described, but I'm just not sure about the rest.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sorry, I've been busy, sort of

It has been pointed out to me that I haven't blogged in a while, and if I don't blog and I don't write long emails to individual people, how are my few remaining readers supposed to know if I'm okay?

So, I'm okay. Or, at least, I'm as close to what now passes for okay as I tend to be.

My husband had steady work for a bit, but this week he doesn't work until Friday. And he will soon be laid off for about a month if things go as last year. So that isn't good. We are trying to do pleasant things with his almost week off. We had one last nice dinner out at Campo Verde, where I tried to figure out how I might copy something. And anyway, you have to go to the place at least once during November or December, when they put up extra Christmas stuff in addition to the thousands of Christmas lights that they have up all year.

Until further notice, we have to stop going out, and he doesn't do much cooking himself, and he needs more calories than soup and such that I like to make. The one thing that he does like to do is make pizza, so we spent seventy dollars on groceries, some of that being a turkey, and some of that being cheese and stuff for pizza.

Some of that was also potato chips and such that he probably doesn't need, but I never can really convince him that potato chips are not a necessity. On my part, the variety pack of Tang wasn't a necessity either. But most of the other stuff wasn't an unreasonable splurge, and we did get some things that we really like and maybe that will keep us from missing restaurants too much. And we did remember to get stuff like soap too. Except for veggies and milk and eggs, we shouldn't have to buy much for a while.

For the person I confused by saying that I would be spending Thanksgiving with G, I meant Uncle G, so I hope that clears that up. Uncle G's second wife is an angel, though I still can't quite wrap my head around the idea that Uncle G actually got a divorce. We just don't do that, except in the most extreme circumstances, and I just can't picture that of Aunt S. Not that I was best buddies with Aunt S, but it still seems strange that she was Aunt S for all of those decades, and then a few years ago they signed some papers, and then Aunt S was just S, and then a year or so later I got a new aunt. Weird.

So I expect Thanksgiving to be nice, as we have in the past spent Christmas with Uncle G and the new aunt, and she is very friendly in addition to being a good cook. Since Dad died Thanksgiving has not been too great, and half of the time my sister is with her in-laws and it just isn't that great at all. So this year it is actually something to look forward to. And it is next week, I think.

And then comes Christmas, and despite all of my plans last year, I am not ready. In fact, I do not even remember what all of those plans were. I knew that I probably would not have money for Christmas presents (though I had no idea it would be this bad), and I knew that if I wanted to do gift exchanges with as many people as last year that I would have to plan ahead and mostly give things that I had made for them, and that I wouldn't have the time unless I made them well in advance.

So I went out and bought all these supplies. And I remember buying the supplies, and I even remember where I stored most of them. But I just don't remember what I planned to do with them.

So of course I did not make any of the Christmas presents ahead of time. I am currently working on a scarf which I had planned to give to Miss Allergies, but I have only just a couple of days ago taken it off of the machine, and there is still a lot of work to be done by hand, in addition to the normal four hours it takes to finish up a scarf. And, I have made some mistakes and I must find some way of covering that up as I have no way of actually fixing it. I also had something planned for the pilot, but I am waiting on some supplies to come in the mail. There is something that I usually get for another friend, whether or not she decides to get me anything, except that I usually get it in the summer when it is on sale and put it away, but I didn't have the money to do that this year. So I don't really have anything for her, and she has pretty much announced that she plans to give most of us baked goods.

Now, if you remember watching The Big Bang Theory last Christmas (click here to see Sheldon's Greatest Christmas minisode on YouTube), you might recall Sheldon's description of traditional Saturnalia gift giving. "The essence of the custom is that I now have purchase for you a gift of commensurate value and representing the same level of perceived friendship as that represented by the gift you have given me."

So I am not sure what would be of commensurate value to baked goods. I would think that the thing I usually get her would work, if I had the money to go and buy it, which at this point I probably don't. Giving her baked goods in return doesn't seem like a good idea, as her house would already have plenty of baked goods (the broken cookies and other leftovers of stuff she makes for other people), and I'm not that good of a cook anyway. Anyway, I have been warned not to give her a scarf or anything that I might make for the others, as she likes to keep her house clutter free, which she does by throwing things out on a regular basis. Ideally she likes more practical stuff like soap, which she can use and enjoy and then it is gone. So I might make her some soap. Or, if they turn out good, I might make her some sweet potato chips. But then I would like to give her more than the one thing, just in case she really dislikes sweet potato chips.

At this point I don't think the sweet potato chips are going to work anyway. The regular potato chips were a disaster, and I have given up on them. Next I will try tortilla chips.

As for the rest of my Christmas gift list, I still have no clue about J. For R I was thinking about a scarf similar to the one I am making for Miss Allergies, except that it is taking too long, and R wants to limit the gift giving to about ten dollars. So the idea of giving her that particular scarf is out. I have something small for the last person in that group, and he will either be giving cards or "stocking stuffers", and while my gift for him won't fit in anyone's stocking, I did spend less than five dollars so I think it will work with the general idea.

And then there is my family, and I don't have a clue what to get for any of them, and we haven't yet discussed plans. I don't have the money for what I usually get my mom and my sister. I really don't have much money for anything. And I don't think any of them want a scarf. If they want scarves, I hope someone will tell me, but other than that I hope that they decide to go with something small, or maybe an exchange of baked goods.

Maybe I can get someone a fruit basket.

What else have I been doing?

Tuesday last week we heard that you could get a free Whataburger buy dressing from head to toe in orange. I wasn't sure about the head to toe part, but I have plenty of orange Halloween shirts. So I wore one with a mostly orange skirt and an orange headband. My husband wore one of the shirts and an orange hat. We hoped that would be enough. When we got there the place was crowded, as it turns out they were giving out the free burgers to almost anyone wearing any orange, and there were plenty of people with just orange shirts. We spent another five dollars on drinks and such with our free burgers, and it was a bit of fun.

Today or tomorrow I have to go to Irving, so we will probably see 9 at the dollar theater. Then I will be out of money again.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Monday Morons: Another Update on the Violin a** Woman

Before I get into that, I have a smaller Monday Moron story. Yesterday I was out at Target's (cause yesterday they had the 90% off Halloween clearance stuff), and while I was out I also stopped at Walmart and got a couple of Rubbermaid Takealongs (not that they were particularly on sale, but I thought that I might never get a chance to buy more of them).

A moment of silence to mourn the passing of the Rubbermaid Takealongs.

Anyway, I was at the self checkout thing. If you've never used the self checkout thing, it is a place where you scan what you want to buy yourself, without a cashier, and a computer screen shows you how much each item costs, and then you put the scanned item in a bag. The bagging area is weight sensitive, and if you don't bag the item, or you try to put something in the bag that you didn't scan, the computer won't let you continue scanning items and you have to get an employee to help you. The computer will also ask you things like START, FINISH, TYPE OF PAYMENT, etc...

Unfortunately, in my area we are usually asked if we want to continue in Spanish.

But anyway, you have to look at this computer screen, and at the beginning it says something like WELCOME VALUED CUSTOMER, and then you either press start or just start scanning stuff. If the screen says something else, like there is a list of items, or maybe it says PLEASE TAKE YOUR CHANGE, then it isn't your turn yet, cause someone else is still using the thing.

And it would usually be obvious that someone is still using the thing, cause the person using the things is usually standing right there. Though I suppose that someone could still be using the thing and not standing right in that spot, cause maybe they moved a few feet away to add a magazine or gum or a magazine. If there is not someone standing right there, and it doesn't look like someone is a few feet away getting gum, then maybe someone changed their mind and just left, and you have to get help from an employee.

But usually it is just a matter of waiting your turn, waiting for the person ahead of you get her change and her receipt and collect her purchases and move away. Then you have to wait for the computer screen to think about it for a moment before it is ready for a new customer. And, if the previous customer is really slow, the computer screen says it is ready for a new customer, but you still have to wait for the previous customer to get out of the way before you start scanning things. If you start scanning things with the previous customer still there, and her bags are still there, then the computer will think that you are trying to steal something.

Pretty obvious stuff.

Besides, it is just rude to start scanning stuff before the previous customer leaves. Sure, put stuff down and get ready to scan it, but you can't actually scan anything until the previous customer leaves and the computer is ready for a new customer.

So I am at Walmart waiting for my receipt, and this guy comes up and starts trying to scan sodas. And I'm still standing there, and the computer isn't ready for a new customer. It is still going through stuff like PLEASE TAKE YOUR CHANGE and all that.

And the guy just keeps trying to scan his sodas.

Even if the guy is too stupid to wait look up at the computer screen and see if something is wrong, can he not see me standing there?

The guy looked older than me, and I didn't want to hang around and try to teach him to act like a grownup.


Anyway, what I really wanted to tell you about....

Quite a while back I wrote a post about a former friend. The former friend did really bad things and then ended up dumping his wife for a woman half his age, after he and he and his wife lost their youngest son. For more on the story, read this and this.

I hadn't heard much about them lately, but over the weekend I heard a bit. After the new wife decided to try to have a baby with another man, the former friend didn't want to be married to her anymore. But, her friends and family tried to smooth things over with them, and they didn't immediately get a divorce.

Anyway, she lost her job, because a lot of other people at her place of employment just refused to work with her anymore. So now she doesn't have a job, and she isn't the mother of an American baby. If she's no longer the wife of an American man, there's no reason she should be allowed to stay in this country.

And then the former friend also lost his job. I've heard different stories about this, but whatever the reason, he doesn't have a job, and his younger wife doesn't have a job, so he isn't going to have any money, place to stay, etc....

His mommy doesn't like the new wife.

I don't know where the new wife is staying, but after losing his job, the former friend had to move in with his mommy.

Did I mention that the former friend is in his sixties?

So the former friend, now in his sixties, is having to move in with his mommy, and she doesn't like his new wife and won't have her around. In fact, she dislikes the new wife so much that she has not only offered him a place to stay in her home, but if he will divorce the woman, his mommy will buy him a car.

I have heard that she is so sure this will get rid of the new wife, that she already bought the car and it is now in mommy's garage.

I'm not sorry that the former friend lost his job. I'm not sorry that the former friend has split up with his younger wife.

I am sorry that he's now going to get free rent and a new car out of the deal.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Odessa and Abilene

Okay, so I mentioned going out of town for a few days. I almost didn't go. I kept getting the dates wrong and getting the places confused. I couldn't be out of town last weekend because of the party, and I can't be out of town this weekend because I'm supposed to go to a friend's birthday dinner on Sunday, I didn't think that I would be going out of town for a long time, even if he did get scheduled to go anyplace interesting.

Not that these places were particularly interesting. Just that I hadn't been out that way in a while.

I was thinking that a change of scenery would be nice. Literally. I wanted to look at the trees as we drove by them. I thought I might see some leaves that had turned color. I'm not sure why I thought that there would be more of that west of here than there is here, but I hoped for something interesting to look at.

We just don't have a lot of fall color like that. We have some trees that turn yellow, and we have some trees that turn orange, but not so much an attractive all over orange. Actual red trees are rare. Mostly, we seem to have trees that stay mostly green until frost, and then they just look dead overnight. And we have trees that stay green all year.

If you want the fall color thing, you have to plan for it and specially plant some maples or something. So we did see a patch or two here and there, but nothing really awesome.

What we do see out west, between about Abilene and Odessa, are giant wind turbines. Big white windmills, like they have in California, I think near Palm Springs. I think that there might be that many, though they aren't arranged so that you can see that many all at once. But there are a lot of them, and there are a lot more of them than whenever I was out that way last time.

So that was interesting.

My husband had to work in Westbrook on Tuesday. This is a place that I got the name mixed up with some other place that he had to work last week. Anyway, it is between Abilene and Odessa. It is a wide spot in the road. He wasn't sure that we could get a motel room there, so we stayed about ten miles away, at a slightly wider spot in the road. It took more than four hours to get there, so after getting the room and eating some pizza, he had to go to work. In fact, he had to leave before I finished eating.

I spent a couple of hours finishing up a green scarf, and then I worked on another scarf for a bit. And that was all. That was my day. I think I feel asleep soon after watching V.

The next morning we had to pack everything up and drive a couple more hours to Odessa. We passed more wind turbines.

Now, we got to Odessa with more time to spare and had time to think about where we wanted to go to lunch and if we wanted to look at anything else. We found a nice Mexican restaurant, where we probably spent too much money, since we had eaten pizza the day before. Then we went looking for giant rabbit statue. Well, it turns out that there is more than one giant rabbit in Odessa. Just as Kansas City had statues of steers and Fort Worth had statues of horses (and having no wildlife to speak of London invented the Superlambanana), Odessa has a lot of statues of rabbits. But there was once just the one rabbit before the others, and that was the one we went looking for, not knowing about the others. If we had known about the others, maybe we should have gotten a map to look for them all.

Or not. There are a lot of rabbits, and we wouldn't have had time to go looking for all of them. As it was we found the first one and drove by five or six of the others.

Anyway, on the way to getting a picture of the first giant rabbit, we stopped at a historical building and took pictures of that. What is funny to me is that while at the time this was a large spacious home, to me it isn't that big. In fact, it is so compact that there wasn't quite room for the staircase, so there's this little triangular thing in the ceiling under the stairs. Even with the odd steep stairs that the once used, the house needed to be a few feet longer for the stairs to fit without being seen in the ceiling of the room below. And while I think that the two of us might be happy with the space, or maybe a couple with a child or two, at some point the second owner of this house rented the upstairs as five apartments. The upstairs only has three rooms now, but at some point two of them were divided in half so that two more people would have a place to live, and six or more people lived in the house.

Anyway, we took some pictures of this and that and headed back to the motel. At some point a few years ago, my husband had stayed at a really nice motel with a hot tub and all of that. That motel now wants seventy dollars or more per night, so we couldn't stay there. Anyway, it was just for the one day. So no indoor pool or anything. Just the cable TV and the knitting.

As it turns out I felt too tired to even get much of that done.

The next morning we packed up everything again. The continental breakfast was this little pecan pie thing. I don't think that I have ever seen that before as a breakfast item, but I hadn't had one in a while so it was okay. After that we went to Target's and bought a lot of candy for 75% off. They had plenty of costumes left. Too bad I didn't know any kids who like Star Wars. I looked for a pirate costume but didn't find one, so I didn't buy anything else except for a wolf's head.

Then we went to take pictures of a Stonehenge replica. I wish we had thought to go and look at it the night before, maybe he could have gotten some better pictures of it dark and lit up, but we were very tired and didn't think of that. Maybe next time.

Then there was what seemed like a long drive to Abilene, though I don't suppose it was really that long. We stopped at Big Spring to find something for lunch, but there was a long stretch of road construction in front of everything that looked interesting. We got back on the freeway and stopped at a Diary Queen.

There was this whole list of stuff that I wanted to do in Abilene when I thought we were going to be there a couple of days a while back, but I'd forgotten about most of it. And really, we don't want to stay that long. I thought maybe the zoo and one historic building, but then since it was already after lunch, we decided just the zoo.

You might wonder why we thought taking the time to walk around a zoo was a good idea.

Well, for one thing I don't really like the long straight thru drives. I like to get out and walk around some. I like to have something to look forward to.

And, I look forward to zoos and animal parks in general. This one in particular lets you feed the giraffes (which is something I have rarely been allowed to do, even though I have visited zoos all over the country), and there is a bridge which allows you to be at eye level with the giraffes for a bit and then walk over their heads (which is something that I have seen nowhere else, even after visiting zoos all over the country). So, though small, the Abilene zoo is interesting just for that, and this is only the second time I have been in the area long enough to visit the zoo.

After that we drove towards home, stopped someplace for sodas, and then stopped at a Target in Fort Worth (which did not have anything on clearance that I wanted to buy, but I needed a place to stop and we needed to pick up a few things before we got home anyway). We got home around six, just in time to eat and unload the car before watching Flashfoward and Fringe and then going to bed.

I got a few things done yesterday, in between catching up on TV. I should be doing something now, but I've suddenly had a fit of coughing and sneezing after slicing and cooking some peppers. So I feel awful. Of course, I would feel awful today, the day before I'm supposed to go to a friend's house. I just always seem to not feel well any time the guy plans to have some of us over. Or, I feel fine and go, and then I feel bad when I am get there. They think that I am allergic to their cat, but I'm not allergic to anyone else's cat, so I don't see how that could be.

Anyway, I hope I stop coughing soon and tomorrow goes as planned.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

From middle of nowhere, Texas

I am quite sleepy, though I have done almost nothing today. Yesterday there was a long drive, which tends to make me tired even though I did none of the driving. Today the drive wasn't very long, and I am still tired.

I am in a dark motel room. I suppose that it wouldn't be so dark if I would open a window, but I don't even like opening a window at home. In a strange place it might really be creepy.

Anyway, if you don't open the curtains in a motel room, it is usually much darker than at home. The curtains really keep out the light, in case you are trying to sleep.

I am not trying to sleep, but I may give up soon and have a nap anyway.

My husband was complaining that he hadn't been this way in more than three years. I doubt it has been that long. In fact, I was thinking that he was scheduled to work out this way about three months ago, only he just didn't do anything cause I didn't go with him.

I looked it up. He as scheduled to be out this way, but that was one of those times that he had to call and say that he didn't have enough money to go out of town. So maybe he hasn't been here in a while.

Anyway, I was sure that I hadn't been this way in a while. So I thought even if I didn't do anything interesting, I might just enjoy the drive. I guess I did. There still isn't a lot of fall color to look at, but there is some.

And there are giant windmills.

Did I mention being tired?

Anyway, I talked him out of Subway yesterday, and we had pizza instead. Today we had Mexican food. Great salsa. But, as usual, we probably spent too much money, so I am wondering what if anything we should do on the way home tomorrow.

Today I got my picture taken with a giant rabbit. How often to you get to see giant windmills and giant rabbits?

And we drove to a historic building. A lady came out and offered to show us around. She was expecting a group of professional photographers, and we weren't it. But she gave us the grand tour anyway. Most of these people seem to like giving tours, unless you show up just before closing or just as they were about to leave for lunch.

I hope the other group didn't keep the lady waiting all day.

Tomorrow, if we have money left and aren't too tired, we should go look at another historic building and maybe go to a zoo.

There are sixty cable channels, and nothing to watch. I've seen about three hours of history channel stuff about Atlantis and the Bermuda Triangle. It doesn't sound like anything new.

No wonder I am sleepy.

Well, I aways think that I'm forgetting to pack stuff. This time I forgot to charge the phone. And I forgot to pack the pillows. Motel pillows are usually too big for me to sleep on. These aren't too bad, but my own pillows would have felt better.

I guess I should clear off all these yarn on the bed. I might want to sleep on it soon.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Might be gone for a few days

I say might be gone because I sometimes back out at the last minute. I have become one of those people who frets about things like "Did I remember to turn off the stove?" to the point where sometimes I don't enjoy the beginning of the trip that much. And this isn't that great of a trip to begin with. And it is only till Thursday, so by the time I stop worry about things like "Did I remember to turn off the heater?" I will be home anyway.

I tend to feel even worse when I don't clean the house first. I had plans of straightening the back room Friday and Saturday. I don't remember what happened Friday, but Saturday I didn't do much because I didn't want to get tired before the Halloween party. Sunday I wasn't doing very well with the lack of sleep and such. Monday I was just lazy. I washed the dishes and did some laundry, but the rest of it is still a mess. Having not straightened the backroom I didn't straighten the living room either, having no space in the back room to move things to while I cleaned anything else.

And any time I have to wear a costume there is more than the usual mess, after I have tossed things about looking for something. So the other rooms are a mess too. There isn't a room left that is even remotely in order.

So this bothers me even more. I tend to think that when the house looks the worst is when there will be some emergency that requires someone to let themselves into my house. I will probably worry the whole three days that something will happen to the hot water heater, that the house will be robbed, etc.... Then someone from the office will have to go into the house, see what a mess everything is, and start looking for a reason to have us evicted.

There are fewer and fewer business trips, and I manage to actually go on very few of them now.

But, after the confusion of where was when and such, I did plan to go to middle of nowhere west of here, and now another day has been added to a slightly larger town a bit down the road from that, and as of right now I am still planning to go.

I have already turned off the heater, so at least I won't have that to worry about.

I am not sure what if any Internet access I will have, so I might be out of communication range for a while.

Assuming I still manage to put my bags in the car and actually leave the house.


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween Party 2009: and the Oscar goes to....

Well, I spent most of the day not doing much. I woke up earlier than I wanted, tried to go back to sleep but did not succeed. So I was just trying not to do anything much that would make me tired.

At some point I tried to deal with the weird food. Do to technical difficulties, the weird food did not work out. I tried three times to make it work, but it just wouldn't do. I have an idea now why it didn't work, so I will make one more attempt (for future reference, cause I might want to make that same thing for next year's party), and then I will just give up on the idea. Maybe it just wasn't meant to be.

Anyway, I don't guess that it matters that much. I don't think that there were cash prizes this year.

After I decided that the weird food wasn't going to work out, I started thinking about putting some flowers in my hair. My costume just didn't look that much like a costume, it was just clothes. I thought that it needed something. And I had bought flowers, thinking that I had wire and such at home to make a wreath, but I couldn't find the wire when I needed it. I tried using something else and then gave up.

Next I thought about props. I was going to make a fake menu and complain about a missing waitress (or, if someone showed up in that costume, complain directly to the waitress), but I changed my mind and put the bar's name on a wine glass. I know, most of the time the name isn't on a wine glass. On a shot glass, sure. On a beer glass, maybe. On a wine glass, not so much, though I suppose they do have them sometimes, and I used to have a souvenir brandy sniffer from a local landmark.

Anyway, I fixed my hair without flowers, put on makeup, but on a necklace that I had added a bull's head with permanent black marker, put on my black almost dress and headed out.

I got to the party and pretended to be Maryann Forrester, the maenad from True Blood, and then I asked people to guess who I was. Only one person could guess. I had clues. I had the bull's head necklace and the wine glass with the Merlotte's logo on it. Still, only the one person guessed right.

I took off my shoes and sort of danced around the place, thanking people for coming to my party. People still couldn't guess. I decided the costume contest might be a waste of time if no one could guess who I was.

I went around the room, telling people that they should loosen up and have a drink. Someone I didn't know said that she couldn't drink because she was the designated driver. I told her she shouldn't drive anyway, just stay at the party.

She thought I was already drunk.

I don't drink. At all. Ever.

It is called acting.

Anyway, we weren't supposed to open the bar until nine, but since no children came, we opened the bar at seven, and people just thought I had a few too many.

More fun. Still didn't tell anyone who I was. They would just have to guess.

A couple of guys tossed coins at my cleavage. One of them actually landed on target.

About this time I decided to do the costume contest anyway. Then I could tell everyone at once who I was supposed to be.

Taking the shoes off seemed like a good idea, but my feet really started to hurt right before the contest. I took a break.

Then we lined up for the contest, and without assigned numbers it was just whoever got in line first got to go first, so I was third. Which meant that I got to sit down sooner and rest my feet some more.

The judges went off to debate who won what. There was more dancing (without me) and door prizes giving away (I didn't win any), and then the judges came back out to announce the winners.

Without much in the way of a costume, and there not being a special award for staying in character, I did not really expect to win much if anything. I hoped I would get an honorable mention, but, no.

Miss Allergies got Most Beautiful. A chupacabra got Most Disturbing. There were about four or five other awards given away before they got to Best In Show, which I assumed would go to the pilot, since he didn't win anything else. The pilot and his wife came as these old toys where you move metal "hair" around a face with a magnet. So we spent the evening giving the two of them interesting hairdos.

So I just knew that the pilot would get the last award, until the head judge started saying something about drinking and such. I don't quite remember what he said or who he was quoting.

I got Best In Show. I have never won Best In Show at the Halloween Party, and my one time winning Best In Show at a con must have been fifteen years ago. So I was totally surprised.

Some other people were also totally surprised, and maybe not too happy. The pilot was happy for me, but people who just didn't get it, well, they just didn't get it.

So it was explained to someone that I (and a couple of other people who also won awards) had stayed in character all night until the contest (almost three hours for me), and that even though they didn't have a special award for staying in character that they decided those of us who did should get extra points for our efforts.

And here I had almost decided not to enter the contest.

So I had fun at the party, even if the rest of the Halloween season was a bust.