Saturday, August 29, 2009

I'm sick and it's making me mean (okay, meaner)

LA is on fire and all the smoke in the air is killing me. My head feels like a Macy's parade balloon and sinuses are all swollen. My throat is very sore, too. I tried using the Neti pot for some relief but it just made it worse. I'm drinking lots of tea and ice cold water.

In the mail today, I received a catalog for Lakeside Collection, a purveyor of "unique gifts" at cheap prices. While flipping through I came across this:Wii accessories. Okay, a steering wheel for driving games, tennis rack, golf club, baseball bat, I'm with you so far....but, um, what is that other attachment? And more importantly, does it have the rumble feature?

A few pages later I came across a photo of a little girl selling some kind of paper dolls. It's mean. I know. I'm horrible. But the resemblance was uncanny.Oh, I'm going to hell. and I'm feeling like it, too. I need more tea. And perhaps a nap.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I was Lindsay Weir--Vintage Photo Friday

I've been watching "Freaks & Geeks" on DVD this week because the rash of wild fires and subsequent helicopter traffic has made my antenna cut out, and I had a sudden realization last night. I was Lindsay Weir in high school, but in a uniform and with older siblings and divorced parents, but yeah, just like that. I was graduating high school during the same era. I had the best friend from childhood that my parents liked and trusted, and the school friends that my mom thought were a bad influence (they weren't). I had a crush on the bad boy who played guitar, whom I got to be friends with because I knew that Curtis Loew* was the finest picker to ever play the blues.

Here for your Vintage Friday pleasure is a young Laurie Ann, circa 1982. I was 17 and already an aunt (Hi Roy). Pay no attention to how incredibly horse-like my front teeth appear. They have since been tamed.Behold my senior portrait. It was the early 80's and the cowl neck was in (this one was burgundy velour). I had only recently cut my hair in layers, and began letting them grow out shortly after this picture was taken.I look a little flighty in this photo. I believe it was taken in home room, where I sat behind the incredibly handsome John Mrakovcich, who had killer blue eyes, dark brown hair, and dimples you could smuggle dope in. That would explain the smile. This is me and Jackie Quaresimo at an FBLA function. That's Future Business Leaders of America, for those of you who didn't know and didn't watch "Veronica Mars." Does Executive Assistant count as being a business leader? We used to say Jackie was born blond (apologies to my blond friends). I think she still holds the record for blowing through more stop signs in one day than any other driver in Notre Dame history.Karen Hughes (above) was my Kim Kelly, but with a better family life. She wasn't a bad girl, but she, along with Jackie, had done a brief stint in the dreaded PUBLIC SCHOOL. Karen was my partner in crime for most of my high school years. Oh, the adventures Karen and I had in high school and beyond. I'd tell you, but I've been sworn to secrecy. (Not really, I just don't want to sully what's left of my good reputation. ) We used to call Karen's hair "the hurricane-blown look" because it was more than wind blown.

Okay, so 27 years is hardly vintage. I just got very nostalgic this week.

*It's a Lynyrd Skynyrd song

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A quick birthday note

to my handsome nephew, Niko, who turns 22 today.
You may remember him from the weekend of handsomeness March 2008 when he blew into town with his friends. He's still single (ish), ladies.

Photo stolen from his father's Facebook page. Thanks, Michael.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's much too Mochimochi

The knitting project I'm currently working on involves a lot of stockinette. A whole lot of stockinette. The knitters in the crowd will understand when I say, I needed a break. I needed something quick. Something satisfying. Something unbearably cute. Mochimochiland to the rescue.
I made Campy and the Mallows last weekend but didn't want to show them until our Camp Director, for whom they were made, came back to the office. He was super excited.This weekend, I whipped up some weeds, or Weeeds, as the pattern is called.The weeds have invaded my Impatiens. I think they just like the view from up here, since they're so used to being trod upon.

I have some Stackable Cats in the works, and some Grass, but I really want to make Boo. They are all my favorites.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I wrote this for my sister, but you can read it, too.

Hey Katie Lady,
I wanted to share a funny story with you. I am becoming our mother.
As you may recall, one of my neighbors keeps using my trash can. It pisses me off because I don't accumulate much trash, but every two weeks when the bag is full and I attempt to take it out, my can is full already with someone else's crap. Now, I could be a jerk and use another trash can, but two wrongs don't make it right (or something like that). So, I was lying in bed trying to sleep Wednesday night (or Thursday Morn as it was 3am) when I heard someone rolling a trash can out to the curb. "Who's taking out their trash at this hour?" I thought. Followed by, "Rats! I forgot to take out my trash!" So, I peeked out the window to see who it was and it was the chick downstairs who ripped up the carpet when she moved in. She had had a party over the weekend and I guess she had a lot of trash because she was rolling out not one, not two, but three trash cans. Crimoney! Someone needs to learn about recycling. I saw her gathering and there weren't more than 10 people. Anyway, I was so mad at her. I thought, "I'll fix her little red wagon," and then I giggled because it's such a Mom thing to say.

Anyway, yesterday when I got home from my dentist appointment all the trash cans were still sitting on the curb (which is the other thing that irks me--she uses my can but never brings it back from the curb so I get in trouble with the Frau). I grabbed my can and pulled it up to my front porch. Then I went upstairs, grabbed the can of white paint I had in the cupboard, some Q-tips, a tube of moist towelettes, a Wite-out pen, and my bags of trash that didn't get out. Using Q-tips, I painted my apartment number in thick white paint about 4 inches high on the top and both sides of the can, then added "only" for good measure. Then, with the Wite-out pen, I wrote "Unless you live at [my apt #], please stop using this trash can!!" I used two exclamation points because everyone knows you mean business when you use two.

When I finished, I wiped up the drips on the sides, surveyed my handiwork and declared myself satisfied. I may have even added a little nod of my head, Little Rascals style. This morning while I was filling the water dispenser, I looked outside to see my trash can, white numbers gleaming in the sun, and I had to laugh at myself. I think you can probably see them from the police helicopters, which is kind of a civil service if the police are hunting a suspect and need to tell the ground units where they are.

In other news, I have a pretty new crown and it doesn't hurt anymore, although I now have cramps to pick up the slack.

The towelettes were to clean off the top of the can before painting.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Wish me luck

I didn't mention this yesterday, but on top of all the tooth troubles, Jamie has been acting up. She's been kind of sputtery upon acceleration. It feels much like the problem I was having a year ago when she kept breaking down on me. So, after Tuesday's dental appointment, I drove her out to see her friend Max, the German Car King. Naturally, when Max test drove around the block, she didn't sputter at all, but based on my description and the problems we had before, Max decided she was misfiring and hooked her up to the diagnostics machine. The computer found nothing wrong, but Max checked the spark plugs anyway, since that was the root of all evil last time. He only changed plugs 1 and 4, since they were easily reached without removing the manifold and they were "gunked up." Max said if she still had problems to bring her back and he'd change 2 and 3. Here's the rub: I can't afford to bring her back until payday (end of the month) and she's acting up something fierce today. I'm kind of afraid she'll leave me stranded on the way to the dentist so I also mapped out the bus route to Burbank and I'll be taking those streets instead of the freeways. Fingers crossed that I make it to and from. After that, I think I'll let her sit until payday rather risk a break down.

Meanwhile, enjoy these old dentist photos in honor of my impending doom.

I feel your pain, little guy.

Look how pretty the chair and spit sink look. It's like a dentist set up shop in my Grandmother's living room.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What time is the best time for a dentist appointment?

Tooth Hurty! hee hee

You may have noticed a lull over here at the blog that gingham built. I've been in pain. My tooth, the one I broke while eating rice, broke again a couple of weeks ago. I decided it was time to see the dentist. I made an appointment for last Friday early in the morning, but since the boss was on vacation and I didn't know what they'd do to the tooth, I took the day off. Boy am I glad I did.

This dentist is new to me and this visit my first, so it was a long one. X-rays, medical history, a couple of pokes and prods and then I saw the first doctor. He looked it over, poked some more and declared, "This tooth needs a root canal!" Nooooooooooooo! Okay, honestly, I've never had a root canal, nor did I know what it was, exactly, but I've always heard people talking about it and how awful they were. Also, along with the root canal, it needs a crown--as do two other teeth. And, hey, while I'm here, I might as well have the super deluxe cleaning that requires them to shoot me full of Novocaine. The first visit consisted of the doctor prepping my tooth and putting on a temporary crown. When the Novocaine finally wore off, I was in so much pain. The tooth didn't hurt at all when I went in.

On Tuesday, they did the actual root canal. Still no permanent crown, which will be done tomorrow. But Oh MY GOD!!! The pain!! Seriously, I have a really high pain threshold and hardly ever take pain medication unless it's a blinding migraine or a limb is hanging off. Yesterday, I was begging co-workers for Vicodin. I could feel each beat of my heart throb in the roots of my tooth. Needless to say, I didn't get much work done and was less than pleasant to be around. Today is much better, although I still can't eat food that requires actual chewing. I hope after tomorrow, when the permanent crown is in place, the pain subsides because quite frankly, I am so over this shit.

Moral of the story: Don't ignore that broken tooth because root canals suck ass.

Also, my dental insurance is a joke. My co-worker's dentist told her it wasn't insurance, it was a discount coupon. So much for a new car or new apartment this year.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Chester's back in the Poconos*

I'm blaming the pain meds, even though I'm only on Excedrin, for the nostalgia I'm feeling. Or, maybe it was just the woman at Michael's who reminded me of my Mom. Whatever it is, Vintage Photo Friday is all about my hometown (or actually, the general area, since photos of my hometown are hard to find). First up, the Lackawanna Hotel, circa 1900's. These buildings are still there. To the left you can see part of the bank where I had my first checking account. The porch and overhang parts of the hotel are gone, but the bar is still open, or it was last time I was there.Here we have St. Matthews church, my family's parish, with my old elementary school on the left and the convent connecting the two. I love this church and I loved that school.
Have a fling in the Spring in the Poconos, at your host with the most in the Poconos--beautiful Mt. Airy Lodge. (sing it, Will) This is just one of the myriad resorts in the Poconos that catered to honeymooners, as well as city folk just looking to get away but not too far away. Easy on the budget--that's The Poconos.And look at this couple. Now here's a honeymoon gone wrong. He's reading and she's on the phone (probably with her mother).I can't remember which movie it was (although something tells me "Hello Dolly") but Barbra Streisand says something to the effect of "I want to go to Rome, Paris, Delaware Water Gap." And I remember as a kid thinking, "Why the hell does anyone want to go to Delaware Water Gap?" To me, it was just a passage to New Jersey. In the above photo, New Jersey's Mt. Tammany is on the left and Pennsylvania's Mt. Minsi is on the right. The boaters are on the Jersey side. You can't tell from this angle, but that upper bare patch on Mt. Tammany contains a rock formation that looks like an Indian profile. Erosion has made it less noticeable these days. I actually have this postcard in my kitchen. That's Main Street, Stroudsburg. See the black car on the left? (red car, black car, white car...oh, black car) I lived in the apartment over that store front that is right in front of it. (gray building, black awning) It was a great apartment and I had a great roommate (love you, Krista Waters).
This one I'm throwing in mainly for Katie. Brenda Muller was one of her best friends in high school and they were bridesmaids for each other. The Muller's were so nice and down to earth. Alice (the mom) even let me drive the family car on the day I got my driver's license. I'm also including this for my Dad, who may or may not read this, I'm not sure. I rarely got to go fishing with Dad because I talked too much, I wouldn't bait my own hook and I couldn't cast for shit. But sometimes, I'd get to go and one of my best fishing memories involves a trip to Muller's diner on the way home, where I had chicken soup, hot cocoa and the waitress thought I was adorable (which, of course, I was). And it's not just a diner and a pancake house, it's a restaurant, too.

Thanks for joining me. And thank you for having so many amazing old post cards on your website.

*The title refers to a variation of the old "Chester's back in the Army". You never heard of it? Okay, here it goes. You go up to somebody and say, "Guess what?" and when they say, "What?" You say, "Chester's (then punch them in the chest) back (punch them in the back) in the army (punch them in the arm)." For the local version, you end with a poke in the nose. Get it? Poke a nose? Oh, it's the height of comedy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Some updates

It's not just me. This morning as I was leaving for work, Latina Gladys Kravitz stopped me to ask if I felt the house shake last night and this morning. I told her I didn't notice anything last night, but yes, I did this morning. I told her that I feel it move all the time, so I barely notice anymore. She then told me that she, too, feels the house moving, and her daughter (Jennifer, but you have to say it like zheneefer) looked it up on the government website but there hadn't been any earthquakes. She called her friend who lives in the apartments next door and her friend said, "Oh, you crazy!" I calmed her down and said, "No, you're not crazy. But I don't think it's anything to worry about. I think the house is just old and moves more than a solid brick apartment building." I didn't mention my hellmouth theory, though. She's already losing sleep.

So, my co-worker, Anne, the one who thinks I have a stalker in my house and should film myself while I sleep, is now convinced that I AM sleep driving and that I should be handcuffed to my bed at night. The following email exchange took place yesterday when I asked if she had anything to add to the payroll newsletter.

Anne: Please let them know that you have been driving while sleep walking and to be aware so that you don't hit their cars!! I would like to add that if anyone has any fluffy handcuffs to bring them in and give them to you!!!

Me: Perhaps not. However, thanks to you, I had a dream last night that I drove here, parked in the garage (all while sleeping) and Criss found me the next day in my car, in my jammies.

Anne: Not because of me!! Because you have a very serious problem and I am POSITIVE that one of our employees will have some fluffy handcuffs!! I wish I did 'cause I would give you mine because you sleep and drive and change stuff in your house. And we need to either set up a camera, have a friend stay over, or get you handcuffs. Maybe you DID drive to the garage and sleep or maybe you are the one that is throwing condoms all over the garage.

Me: I'll bet [name omitted] does.

Anne: Oh yeah she might....If she calls me tonight I will ask her but I haven't seen any at her house...a pole, yes! But no handcuffs and I don't think she is in to that kinky stuff. Maybe I should just go to the warehouse and buy you some.....



Me: A Mancuff.(c)*

Anne: PERFECT!!! Let's put out an AD

Me: Wanted: sound sleeper with Kung Fu grip to hold me all night long and prevent me from sleep walking. Great body appreciated.

If you know of anyone qualified for the job, let me know.

*I'm totally copyrighting that shit, because it's brilliant. Admit it.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

A pall hangs over the House of Frau

Sometime while I slept today , the bees, the lovely little bees, lost their lives in a senseless slaughter. I went downstairs to get my mail around 4pm and found the entrance to their hive filled in with something that looked like foam insulationor maybe wood putty.Whatever they used, it was just glopped on the hole and all around as if the perpetrator had taken a spatula and flung it at the area. And when that clearly didn't kill the bees fast enough (or more likely, when they swarmed) the murderer attacked them with bug spray soaking my stoop and leaving behind a pile of bee carcasses. When I stepped outside to get my mail, I saw the carnage and a dozen or so lonely and dislocated worker bees hovering around. I apologized to the bees and went back upstairs feeling a heavy sense of loss.

RIP, my little friends.

Friday, August 07, 2009

At least that would explain the bruises

I have a few idiosyncrasies that I have admitted here (and some that are best kept secret). One of them is that I lock my bedroom door every night when I go to bed. I do this because my front door is all windows and very easy to break into without anyone even blinking an eye at the sound of glass breaking. (believe me, I know) I figure a locked door will buy me a little time to call 911 or to climb out the window, should an intruder, you know, intrude.

That being said, remember when I thought I might be a sleep walker or driving my car in another dimension? Three times recently (twice this week) I have woken up in the morning, utterly exhausted after a full night's sleep, to discover my bedroom door unlocked. Now, I check and double check that lock every night. Even if I get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, I always lock the door when I come back to bed. Another oddity--my HD converter box has a green light when it's on and red when it's off. It has been off all week because I've been watching DVDs since Monday. However, three times this week when I went to turn on the DVD player, I noticed the converter box turned ON. I'm beginning to think the sleepwalking theory isn't so far off.

My co-worker, Anne, has another theory that I frankly care not to think too much about. You see, I told her that the key to my bedroom door lock (it looks like a tiny flat head screwdriver on a sardine can key) is missing. It used to be above the door hidden in the crown moulding. I had it in my wallet for a while, but I put it back a few months ago. Well, it's not there anymore and I didn't really think too much about it until I was relating my unlocked door story to Anne. "Oh My God, there's probably some guy hiding in your apartment and at night he's in your room stroking your hair." Thanks Anne!!! I read a short story like that once. This guy was hired to remodel a woman's condo and he built a hidden room and passageways into her existing floor plan, then moved in and watched her. Now I've got that in my head and I'll never sleep again.

My boss suggested I set up a video camera to see what, if anything, I'm doing in the middle of the night. But what if Anne is right? I don't want to see some creepy Creepster creeping around my apartment. They both suggested I should not be allowed to live alone, but stopped short of suggesting I should be in a facility. Do any of you sleepwalk or do other stuff in your sleep? Are you aware of it or did someone else tell you about it? I'm kind of weirded out here.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

I'm a hot mess. Don't you judge me.

Remember that time they towed my car and broke that plastic shield thingy that's supposed to protect the undercarriage when you bottom out? Well, part of the shield thingy has been dragging under my car for over a year. Edgar, my friend in supplies, fixed it temporarily with some quick set clay, but it eventually wore off and dragged again. It was slightly annoying but the car was drivable and I just turned up the stereo to drown the sound.

Today, on my way to the offsite storage unit, my ridiculously-low-to-the-ground car bottomed out on my way down the ramp from P4 to P3 and I heard an awful sound. I stopped the car and looked behind me to see if I left any parts back there. Seeing nothing, I continued on, but now instead of a slightly annoying dragging sound, I had the "OMG, is there a dead body under my car?" sound. (Don't ask me how I know that sound. What happens in Pennsyltucky, mostly stays in Pennsyltucky.) I tried to soldier on but it was obvious something awful happened, so I backed into a parking space on P3 and got out to investigate. Turns out the ENTIRE plastic shield thingy was now hanging out from under my car, and being held in place by the most stubborn screw in the history of hardware.

While I was on my hands and knees peering under my car and wondering what the hell I was going to do, one of our chivalrous maintenance men came over to see what was wrong. We have the nicest maintenance crew in this building, no lie. I mean, we were such a needy bunch of whiners when we first moved in here I'm surprised they don't spit on us or key our cars, let alone stop to help when it's clearly outside their job description. But Feliciano stopped and I'm glad he did. He tugged and poked and even whacked it with a piece of pipe, but that stubborn last screw would not budge. Finally, he twisted the plastic piece under my front tire and had me drive forward and reverse until it snapped. When it did, he raised his hands up and shouted, "Goal!" It was kind of awesome. I gave him a bottle of water and a hug, which kind of scared him because I'm a large woman and stand about 1/2 a foot taller than him.

At this point I was covered in dirt and grease, but I proceeded to the storage unit to find that the boys over there had done all the work for me. I only had to load a few boxes into my car and then unload them back at the office. Sweet. I picked up a Chinese chicken salad for lunch, heavy on the ginger dressing, and proceeded to spill dressing all over my already dirty shirt. Also, my hair? I shouldn't have been allowed out of the house.

So, all I'm saying is--Ladies, when I show up to Stitch N Bitch* tonight looking like five miles of bad road, don't point and laugh, please.

*I decided I was unfit for human eyes and needed a shower, so I didn't go.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Like a dinosaur, only smaller and less toothsome.

I have been remiss in my updates but then I really had nothing to say and didn't want to post for the sake of posting--like I'm doing now. No, really, I kind of have something to say; I'm just not sure I can phrase it properly.

As I've mentioned before, I live with clutter. My apartment is cluttered and now, thanks to a lack of storage space, my office is cluttered. My desk is cluttered, too, with today's "to do" items and projects I haven't completed from yesterday, last week (or even later). It's true what they say--cluttered space, cluttered mind. I'm just not sure which came first. Anyway, the clutter? Not very conducive to productivity and I really need to be, well, not necessarily more productive but have a better quality of productivity. So, it would seem obvious that Step One would be to unclutter my mind, right? How?

I'm not particularly "new agey" as it were, but I believe in positive thinking and karma, and I try to be nice to people so that people are nice to me. I've noticed, though, that the folks I've met who meditate, do yoga, and practice "being present" are generally happier, calmer and tend to light up a room. That may be a very broad description and it could be just the folks I know, but I want to be happier, calmer and able to light up a room, too. Meditation--I have found that when I take the time in the morning to clear my head and visualize how I want the day to proceed, it usually goes pretty good, if not exactly how I imagined; at least it doesn't suck. Yoga--Well, I'm not very bendy in my current state, but I give it a try. I'll get there eventually. Be Present--Okay, not this is the one that I just couldn't wrap my head around. What the hell is being present? I'm here, aren't I? Isn't that enough? Well, no.

So I did some research and read a lot of blogs and web articles and I think I get it now, or at least enough to practice it. And really, it's so simple--Live in the moment. Don't relive the past (you can't change it), don't worry about the future (it won't help) and just focus on what you're doing right here, right now, the only moment of time that you can actually do something about. And that's what I've been trying to do, which is not to say I don't think about the past or plan for the future. It's just that, I have been known to relive past events, mistakes and conversations over and over in my head, remembering how much it hurt, what I did wrong and how I could have made it better or less embarrassing. And to what end? I can't change what happened. I can only make sure I don't do it again and move on. As far as the future, I can say "when I _____, I'll ______" until the cows come home, but I may never be _____ or do _____ so I should enjoy now.

I bought this bracelet from Energy Muse to help me keep this goal in mind, and printed out this page to keep handy. It really is working. Recently, I went to do inventory and found that other people had moved all the things I'm responsible for, mislabeled boxes, and generally made a mess of things. I was so angry. I fumed for about five minutes. And then, I took a deep breath, realized they had the best intentions in mind, and moved on to the task at hand. Ordinarily, I'd have fumed all the way back to the office or thrown my hands in the air saying, "I can't do this." This time, I just focused on what I was doing and stopped blaming the others (I was still a little angry back at the office, but I let it go). And this past weekend, I attended two parties which is like two more than I normally attend on any given weekend. One of them was at my boss's house. Instead of worrying if I was dressed appropriately or being concerned with how I acted or what I said, I just took each moment as they came, really listened to people when they talked, and enjoyed myself.

I'm not entirely "in the moment" all the time. I still have a lot of work to do before that happens. But I can see the benefits and that makes me want to work at it more.

So, that's what I've been doing.