I had no choice. None at all. Really.

September 27, 2010

Every year I make a present for DH’s family members.  Usually the women only, but sometimes the men.  And every year the list gets longer.  Initally it was just his immediate family.  The next year I added his aunt, her two daughters and another female cousin.  Last year I added his other cousin’s girlfriend.  This year another cousin is dating a guy with three tween daughters so they’re on the list too.

It’s a lot of work, but to be honest, I don’t mind.  Most days.  Pretty much all of them are “knit-worthy” and to be honest, for the ones that aren’t….100% acrylic.  Plus, knitting for so many people is a good stashbuster.  I’ve managed to divest myself of about 50 balls of yarn this holiday cycle and I’m not done yet.  Yay me!

To make my life easier, I make everyone the same thing, although I customize each gift for each person, usually selecting a colour I think/know they’ll like.  I also select the yarn based on how “high maintenance” the recipient is.  People who will hand wash get 100% wool.  People who don’t get mostly acrylic or a wool-acrylic blend.  

I don’t always knit either.  A few years back I sewed aprons.  Which were a huge hit with the MIL and Aunt-in-law but not so much with the younger crowd.  Last year everyone got cowls and it was the reverse….big hit with the young women but not so much with the older ones.  Eh, some days you win some and some days you lose.

Most years though I end up making scarves.  They are quick and easy and everyone needs a scarf.   Plus they are often mindless knitting which is useful for those weekend nights when the hubs and I rent movies.  Or we’re at the cottage and I want to knit but don’t want to think about what I’m knitting.

This Christmas’ offering will be Saroyan for the younger crowd.  I have to say, I really, really, REALLY like this pattern.  Which is a good thing because by the time Dec 25 rolls around I will have made 14 of them.  Not all for the Hubs’ family but mostly for them.  So far I’ve made the ones for the tween’s out of Loops and Threads from Michaels.  It’s a good yarn to use for kids (or adults who don’t handwash) and after a cycle in the washer and dryer it’s actually quite soft.  One scarf done to pattern uses up less than a ball and two balls will easily make a longer Saroyan and a slouchy hat. 

The one for the SIL came from the stash.  It’s Fleece Artist’s Ottawa which is discontinued.  I can see why since the yarn was a pain to knit with, sometimes thick and sometimes so think I am worried about the strength of the fabric.  But it’s done and I’m not ripping it back.  The SIL is actually pretty careful with her knitted things and I like to knit for her since she’s very appreciative.

One cousin will be getting a Saroyan made from Misti Alpaca Tonos in Atlantic.  I have about half a skein left and probably could have used up both but honestly it’s like knitting with buttah and I wanted to keep some for myself.  What I’ll do with half a skein is beyond me.  Maybe make a swatch and just pet it it’s so soft.  Or maybe I’ll add it to the cat’s Kitty Pi stash that will eventually become a bed for the princess next year.

The remaining two Saroyans were to be knit out of MadelineTosh Eyre.  I got a great deal from Eat.Sleep.Knit when they were selling off their stock and figured two skeins would be enough.  Afterall, at 218m I’d just squeak by.  Sadly no.  I got through the increase section of the first Eyre Saroyan and it took 3/4 of the skein.  No way was I going to get 16 more repeats out of the remaining yarn.  No way.  Rip rip rip and back I went to Eat.Sleep.Knit and lo and behold they were sold out of Eyre.  Completely.  And every other yarn store on the MadelineTosh website was sold out too.  Or didn’t carry Eyre.  Or didn’t carry the right colourways.  Grrrr.

I suppose I could have called some of the stores and asked if they could get the colours.  Or posted on Ravelry in the ISO forum.  But that’s a lot of work and I’m intrinsically lazy.  Stash diving was also an option but I don’t wear orange or the bright blue that these two cousins do.  Maybe I could have selected another colour from my stash but why spend hours knitting people things if they won’t wear them because they don’t like the colour?  Anyway, who wants to lug out tote bin after tote bin to look through in the wee small hours of the night?

So I think you’ll agree that I had no choice but to go online (it was after midnight when I discovered I wouldn’t have enough yarn) and order more.  Really I had no choice at all.  None whatsoever.  That’s my story.  And I’m sticking to it.

As for the Eyre, even though none of it is my colour, I think it will make a nice pair of Fiddlehead Mittens.  For me.


Some days you are the statue

September 17, 2010

So this week the universe seems to be conspiring against me, the hubs, various people at work and some of my friends.  Seems like EVERYONE has had something nasty happen to them or someone they love.  And I’m pretty sure Mercury is out of retrograde so I really don’t know what’s going on.

The hubs and I have  spent the past week cleaning out the weirdest stuff and lots and lots of garbage from the outlaws rental property.  Last night we found a bunch of brand new, never been used stuff – a Wii, a high end coffee maker, a space heater among other things.  And their wedding album.  Who leaves this kind of stuff behind?  Especially since it was already boxed up in the first place?  At least we didn’t find anything dead so that’s a bonus I suppose.

Also, it turns out that despite thinking otherwise, I can’t seem to get the FL out of my head.  I don’t actually want to see him, I am just weirdly obsessed with knowing all the small details of his life.  Some stuff I have managed to ferret out with my mad research skillz, but most of it I just imagine.   Which is silly because I will never share a life with him (and this is a good thing) and in the end who really cares what kind of car he drives and what colour it is.  This really better pass soon because I’m getting kind of tired of it all and I’m sure it’s not even remotely healthy.  But I can’t stop.  It’s like some sort of fever I can’t shake.  And no, I’m not going to stalk his house or office.  I’m not that crazy. Or interested.  Besides, cyber stalking is a lot more fun than sitting in a car for hours on end.  

We’ve been up and down and up and down all week and will likely be up and down again several times over for the rest of the month about our own renters at the cottage.  They’re staying, they’re going, they’re going but coming back, they’re not coming back, they’re maybe coming back.  It literally changes every minute and I don’t want to keep up anymore.  Just tell me when it’s finally decided.  Yeah we’ll keep the place but it means more pasta for dinner and less yarn for the next year or so.  And no big trips (again) next year.  Siiiiiigh.  And yeah, Marakesh is off sadly.  No Arabian nights for me.

I hurt my thumbs making a swap present for my Four Seasons Swap partner and have hardly been able to knit.  This is driving me crazy, all that yarn taunting me.  I used some stash yarn to make the bag and let me tell you Briggs and Little  Atlantic should be avoided at all costs if you value having skin on your fingers.  I have no love for you B&L, made in Canada or not.

I have deadlines at work I am in no way shape or form going to meet.  And I don’t care either. And speaking of work, it’s 15C (59F for those of you in the US) outside and my office still has the A/C on.  I am FREEZING.  Apparently they don’t turn the heat on until October here either so I am going to have dig out every freaking shawl and sweater I own and pray for warmer weather.  Maybe I should bring in that space heater we found.

We have to go and see some friends who just had a baby and I can’t get excited about it.  I feel bad but I have no desire to see this child.  Or knit for him.  I just want to crawl into my bed, pull up my duvet, curl up to the hubs (or even the cat) and sleep for the next 247 hours.  Straight.

Ok Universe, I know my life is pretty good most days but maybe you could make it be a little better and stop throwing all this annoying stuff at me.  Just for a while ok.  I gotta get some work done and can’t afford to be distracted by google search strings for the FL.  I am done sorting through other people’s crap and really, if you could make it so I can get by on six hours sleep a night again I will be forever grateful.

There is a special place in Hell reserved for these people

September 16, 2010

So it’s not exactly a secret that the outlaws are not my mostest favouritest people on the planet.  I don’t like either of them very much and with the FIL at least, I’m sure the feeling is mutal.  But this past week I have to say I have felt very badly for them.  No one deserves to be treated this way.

Many many years ago, they got an excellent deal on a rental income property.  Apparently the owner died and his children wanted nothing to do with the house.  The kids didn’t live in the city, didn’t want to rent it and basically sold it at a firesale price.  The outlaws snapped it up, rented it out and life was grand.

The house isn’t great.  It’s quite small; six rooms and a basement which isn’t finished.  But it sits on a great piece of property and is close to major bus routes and shopping centres.  Plus, they don’t charge a lot of rent for it.  And, as much as I complain about the outlaws, as landlords they are pretty good.  They’ll let you paint the walls whatever colour you want.  If you want to do minor improvements they’ll either knock money off your rent or pay for the materials.  They’ll even give you a break if you’re a few days late with your rent, so long as you have a good excuse and tell them as soon as you know you can’t make the full amount.  They’ve been in financial straits before so they get it.  They’re not happy ab0ut it, but they get it.

Anyway, about three years ago their long-term tenants left.  The outlaws let the house sit empty over the winter and rented it out to a couple who kind of abused them.  They didn’t pay rent on time, their cheques often bounced, they rarely paid the full rent amount but apparently always had money for beer, cigarettes and taxis.  They left the following fall and the outlaws, who have some weird ideas, let the house sit empty until spring, because in their mind “no one decent rents a house in the winter”.  Whatever.

They also don’t believe in doing reference or credit checks because the former is a pain and the latter costs money.  They prefer to hold an “open house” viewing of their place and won’t show it if you call and ask to see the place.  Fair enough but people who need a place to live on short notice don’t have time to wait for your open house in two weeks.  We all know the saying that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks…well that’s the outlaws.

Anyway, this last pair of tenants played them.  Badly.  They gave the outlaws a song and dance about how they wanted to plant a garden and didn’t have pets and were looking for a place to call their own.  They said they were gainfully employed.  They lied about it all and the outlaws bought it.  They paid rent for the first few months and that was it.  They had two dogs, two cats, a rabbit, fish and who knows how many lizards.  They bounced cheques, they changed the locks, they refused the outlaws (and any service people) entry without 24 hour written notice (notice is required but it doesn’t have to be written in my province), they made pointless demands (finish the basement), they called the city and the police claiming they were being abused.

In short, they made the outlaws’ lives hellish for eight months.  Finally, the outlaws had no choice but to evict them.  They followed the proper procedures, even down to hiring a lawyer, but the tenants still wouldn’t go.  They went before the Landlord and Tenant Board and won their case.  The Sherrif served them with eviction papers and the tenants dug in their heels and refused to leave.  On the actual eviction day they still hadn’t packed up their belongings.  They were given six extra hours to get out.  It still wasn’t enough.

You should have seen the state of the house.  Now, I lived in student housing and partied in many a house in the student ghetto of my university town so I’ve seen a lot of grossness.  I’m not really all that squeamish.  But this place was beyond disgusting.

These people left piles of dirty clothes, garbage, half used food, dirty plates on the floor and I swear they hadn’t vaccuumed the joint for at least six months….even though there was a vaccuum cleaner in the basement.  They left behind books and furniture, all kinds of personal care products, CDs, video games, toys, clothes, aquariums, dishes, small appliances, a TV and a computer monitor.  The list goes on.  And let’s not talk about medical waste we found. 

The FIL was prepared to set fire to the house when he saw the state it was left in.  The MIL started to cry.  The hubs, me, his cousin and her mother have spent the past week just picking up crap.  Honestly, it looked like they let their dogs at garbage bags. 

How do people do this?  How do you walk away from half your possessions?  How do you live in squalor if you don’t have to?  How do you make it so that decent people have to spent all of their free time picking up your shit?  DH’s cousin found a dead lizard in a ziplock bag in the freezer.  Something was clearly not right with this couple.

We’ve picked up what we can.  Some stuff has been donated to shelters and food banks.  We’ve recycled what we can.  We divvied up the stuff that was left behind that was useful to us.  We’ve given away things.  We’ve tossed out 18 garbage bags, filled three blue bins (twice) and a giant green bin (twice) and there’s still more to come.  There will be dump runs and more dump runs.  And nothing has actually been cleaned.  For that we’re calling in a company who specializes in heavy duty industrial cleaning.  Or crime scenes.  I have many hippie treehugger leanings, especially where food and cleaning products are concerned, but honestly, I’m not even sure that 100% bleach will disinfect this place.  I’m pretty sure the carpets will have to be pulled up and burnt and God only knows what manner of filth and germs the bathroom holds.

The outlaws, understandably, don’t want any part in this.  They are immensely saddened and angered by the blatant disrespect shown to them.  And I have to say I agree.  Sure they’re annoying and out of touch but no one deserves to have their property treated this way.  No one.  While they can’t help clean they will throw money at the problem until it goes away.  And that’s fine.  The stress of being in that house every day would likely make him stroke out.  She’s just had eye surgery and can’t bend over.  Both of those things aside, neither are all that young anymore and neither deal well with stress.  It’s best to keep them away.  While I don’t want them in my life any longer than need be, no one in the family would be well-served by one (or both) of them having a heart attack or stroke right now.

Even after all of this though, they are determined to rent again.  Another cousin has a few people who would be interested.  And I hope they are.  And I hope they’re normal.  The outlaws cry poor all the time, despite the fact that they are likely sitting on a pot full of money.  I understand that they came from impoverished backgrounds and need the financial security that the rental income provides.  But I really hope that this next tenant works out.  The outlaws health (and the rest of the family’s sanity) is worth so much more what than the rent money brings in.  But they don’t see it.  Can’t teach an old dog new tricks I guess.  I just hope we don’t have to bury the old dog because they’re too stubborn to learn.

Here’s looking at you kid

September 1, 2010

So my SIL, who can be a bit pretentious at times, has decided to celebrate her upcoming milestone birthday in Marakesh, Morocco (and yes I know the quote is from Casablanca but it was the closest I could find).  Normally she spends it in London or New York.  But I guess when it’s gonna be a big one, you may as well do it up in style. 

Morocco is somewhere DH and I have always wanted to go.  I am, unsurprisingly, all over the souks.  And the desert tours.  DH is all over the history.  It was a contender for our honeymoon destination.  You’d think DH would be all over going.  This trip will have history, exotic-ness (is that even a word?), family and friends.  But he’s balking. 

We have several rooms to paint in the house and stuff to do at the cottage.  We need to buy carpeting for the stair case and the chimney needs to be repointed.  The driveway needs to be repaved.  His job is very stressful and he doesn’t know if/when he can take the time off and let’s not even go down the I-feel-sorry-for-me-because-I-have-no-children road.  That being said, if he doesn’t take time off, I see a big hot meltdown coming and soon.

I really want to go on this trip.  For a number of reasons.  Let’s start with the fact that DH hasn’t had a decent holiday since he went to Greece this time last year.  He’s worn out and stressed out and heading for some alone time in a nicely padded room if he doesn’t watch out. 

Also he hasn’t seen his sister since Christmas and even then they didn’t spend much time together as she spent several days mysteriously wrapped up in “meetings” in the big city all the while staying with her “friend”.  (I suspect she’s dating this “friend” who happens to live there but that’s just my take on things.  Afterall, wouldn’t your company put you up in a hotel if you’re there on company business?  Just sayin).  His sister and their cousin just spent a few weeks together in Europe and DH was green with envy.  I would have been happy for him to join them but he’s under the impression that his company will fall apart if he leaves for any length of time, so he stayed home and worked.

Also, come on it’s Marakesh.  The home of the biggest markets in Africa.  Since we didn’t buy a rug in India you can be damn sure I’ll be purchasing one if we go.  Maybe more.  Especially since we’re in the market for some area rugs.  And I’ve done the math, the dirham is a very good deal right now and things are inexpensive in Morocco.  It’s a shopper’s dream.  And I’m a shopper.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there will be few if any babies/children on this trip.  While I’m sure some people travel to Morocco with babies, I can’t imagine why you would.  Even if the SIL’s friends have children, it’s highly likely they’ll be left at home.  So it will be a perfect trip for DH  to just relax and not stress out about why everyone has kids and we don’t.  Yes, he is still stressing about that.  And yes I know, he really should be talking to someone about it.  You can lead a horse to water and all that.  Besides, being around people who don’t have kids will hopefully remind/show him that you can have a full and happy life even if you don’t have kids.  Or at least that’s my hope.

So to sweeten the deal, I’ve told him I’ll deal with painting some of the rooms while I’m on vacation next week.  If you know me you’ll know what a HUGE deal this is as I loathe painting.  But it will save us $1000.  Maybe more.  And I’ll stop nagging about how craptastic the unpainted rooms look if I don’t get to them.  There’s always next year.  Which will be when we redo the driveway and repoint the chimney.  Or maybe the year after.  Both need to be done but another few years of waiting won’t hurt.

Finally, I told the hubs I’d hold off on buying yarn for the rest of the year.  I know.  No more yarn in 2010 (the KW Knitter’s Fair doesn’t count…the yarn diet starts AFTER September 11).  It will be tough.  But I have a giant stash and really should be knitting that down.  And think of the yarn buying bender I can go on in 2011 and all the space I’ll have for that new yarn.  It would be totally worth it.

So cross your fingers for me.  DH is thinking about it.  He’s already talked about going a week early and spending it on the coast in a resort.  And maybe even spending some time in London, England as we’d connect through there.  The kicker will be work.  If I am very lucky his projects will slow down and he’ll be able to take a few weeks off.  He can spend time with his sister and immerse himself in all the Moroccan history he can handle.  I can compare carpets to my heart’s content and look for hidden treasures in the souks.  Win-win.  Cross your fingers for me and think desert-y thoughts.