Saturday, April 29, 2006

Resuming an old hobby....

Years ago, long before I discovered knitting, I was a cross-stitcher. I cross-stitched many pieces for friends and family, and if there was something I wanted to make, but couldn't find an appropriate pattern for, I would design my own pattern.
When my lovely cousin Erin got married, I wanted to make some throw pillows for her & her husband that had a celtic pattern on them. At the time leading up to their wedding, I could not find any celtic patterns anywhere. I was able to locate some 10x10 graphing paper (as opposed to the standard 4x4) and I procceeded to design 3 or 4 throw pillows for them. In the weeks leading up to Erins wedding day, I would work on the pillows at work and at night, and help with the planning of her wedding in the afternoons and weekends. They turned out nicely, were backed with velvet and trimmed with coordinating ribbon. Erin and Jeremy loved them and kept them on their sofa. Where they were much loved by the cats. A little too much - none of them still exist.
Somewhere between "Erins wedding pillows" and last year, I forgot my love of cross-stitch. Although I still have about eleventy billion pattern books, an organizer full of thread, and various pieces of aida fabric, I think Erins pillows were the last item I made. I may have made something after those, but I'm not certain.
About a month or two ago a local cross-stitch shop announced that it was going out of business. It was the same shop I used to go to when I was a cross-stitching fiend. In recent years with the trend in knitting, it had also expanded to include a minimal amount of knitting supplies - a few shelves of yarn, a couple racks of pattern books, and needles. I figured that with them going out of business, I would stop by and see what kind of clearance knitting items I could find.
I did find some great deals on knitting items. Everything was 60% off and I was able to find some needles and 3 random skeins of yarn that I have no idea what I'll use them for. But, the best finds?
counted cross-stitch patterns. I found my family crest as well as the crest for one of my friends - in both her maiden and married names. So, it seems as though I may be taking up cross-stitch again. I'm not sure when I'll get to this as I have a plethora of projects that are currently in the works, but the ones for my friend are on my to do list. The one for myself? I'm not sure of when I'll get that one done. I aways seem to put off making items for myself and work on those that are for others first.

Friday, April 28, 2006

I Couldn't Stop Crying...

I said I’d write more about my trip to Portland when I’d figured out how to put what I was feeling into words.
here’s my best attempt, it’s disoriented, rambling, and all over the place, but it’s the best I can do at the moment.
I left my grandparents in Oregon about 4pm and didnt stop crying until I fell asleep around 3am.
I also felt nauseaus for SEVERAL hours after I got home and I still don’t know if it’s due to the two frappucinos at the airport while waiting for my flight, the three vodka tonics on the flight home, the jack in the box drive thru on my way home from the airport, a legitimate illness, or stress and emotions. Whichever it was, I hate nausea.

Heres the background.
In August of 2004 my grandmother, Grandma, was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. She has several small tumors on the glands surrounding her lungs. Shortly after her diagnosis she began chemotherapy. During the past 20 months she has only had one break in chemotherapy treatments and that was for about two months this past December and January.
During the past 20 months she’s also aged about 10-15 years.
It’s hard seeing her go through this.
Grandma D has always been so energetic, upbeat, positive, and vibrant. Now, she seems to sleep about 18-20 hours a day and her answer to most questions is “whatever, I don’t care”.

When I got to Portland last Friday, I took the lightrail half way from the airport to my grandparents which was perfect because the lightrail station is close to the hospital and Grandma D had a chemotherapy appointment about a half hour after my train arrived.
We got to the hospital, and as we were driving around the parking garage looking for a space, Grandma said “Can’t we just tell them that I’m done with this?”

Several times over my visit I got the distinct impression that Grandma does not want to continue with the chemotherapy and that the only reason she keeps going is that Grandpa D keeps pushing her.
I’m mixed on this.
On one hand I can understand her wanting to stop chemotherapy, she’s miserable. Shes been going through this for 20 months without any form of remission. I don’t think it’s fair for Grandpa to push her to continue the treatments when she hates it so much.
At the same time, I don’t want her to stop the treatments. I’m not ready to lose her and I know Grandpa isn’t either and that his intentions are to keep her going. To hopefully see her through to some sort of remission.
I’m also pissed at my aunt and uncle who live about an hour away from my grandparents. My uncle is completely in denial about how sick Grandma is and avoids dealing with it by avoiding her. They used to have dinner with my grandparents about twice a month. Now, my aunt and uncle only go out to visit on holidays and birthdays. It pisses me off because Grandmas doesnt have the energy or stamina to stand and cook meals, Grandpa can make toast, tea, and little else. Am I wrong for thinking that my aunt and uncle should be able to drive out there on Sunday afternoons and cook up a couple of casseroles, or whatever, that Grandpa could heat up throughout the week? It wouldn’t have to be EVERY Sunday, but SOMETHING just to help them out and to support Grandma.

Theres so much more going through my head right now. I’m trying to get up there to visit her again, but with my trip to Ireland next month (I leave 3 weeks from today), my father coming out to visit in mid-June, then the end of June and beginning of July being very busy at work, I don’t thinkg I’ll be able to visit her again until July. But, that could work out well, her birthday is in late July.

On a sidenote, tomorrow is my 1 year bloggiversary.
I really wasnt certain I would keep this thing up for a year.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I'm home

I made it home from Oregon, but not yet ready to talk about my trip.
I'm still trying put together how I'm feeling.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

seriously? SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?

So, last night I go to make my hotel reservations for Ireland.
I enter all of my debit card information and get the following result:
"Your account can not be authorized"
WTF? So I try it again, double checking that I have all of the numbers right, the spacing in my name matches the spacing on the card, etc and resubmit it:
"Your account can not be authorized"
Now I'm REALLY confused.
Did I enter something wrong?
I have the whole "verified by visa" enrollment on my debit card, do I have some sort of conflicting information between the verified by visa and with my bank? whats wrong?
This morning, I log into my online banking and verify that I have MORE than enough funds for the transaction and rather than call my bank and deal with the whole "press one to hold for an hour, press two to hold for 45 minutes, press three if you would prefer to jab a fork in your eye than to deal with all of this crap...." I opted to use the "chat with a live representative" feature and since I'm at work I think this is AWESOME since I can talk to clients and take care of my personal banking at the same time.
CSR: Hello Vanessa, how may I assist you today?
ME: the past 2 days I have tried to make online purchases using my Visa check card and both times I've been told that my card could not be authorized. Could you tell me why this has happened?
CSR: Thank you for your patience Vanessa. How much were you trying to charge using the Freedom Check Card?
ME: one was for $10 and the other was for about $225
CSR: I am not sure why it would decline it. I do show that your daily limits on that Freedom Check Card is $200.00 ATM withdraw limit and $500.00 point of sale limit.
ME: ok - both sites were european sites (I'm planning a trip to Ireland next month) - would this cause them to decline?
CSR: It will be just a moment while I confirm this information for you Vanessa.
CSR: Thank you for your patience Vanessa. So when you go online, the transactions that you are trying to make are in Europe? Or are they in a different country?

----- really? did she REALLY ask that? I hate to sound so old-fartish, but what the hell is public education coming to?-----

ME: they are based in a different country - one was for a hotel in ireland (thats the one thats about $225) the other was a russian music store (thats the one that was $10)
CSR: Thank you for waiting. I'll be with you in just a moment.
CSR: Thank you for your patience Vanessa. Unfortunately Ireland and Russia are completely blocked for any type of use with your Freedom Check Card. Due to an increase of debit card fraud in foreign countries, Sucky Federal Credit Union's board of directors and executive team made the decision to block foreign transactions to prevent future loss. This block is only in effect for debit card transactions, and will not affect Visa credit cards. We do apologize for any inconvenience.

So, my lovely bank does not allow ANY foreign transactions AT ALL, no exceptions, no way to set up authorization for my debit card to work at all while I'm in Ireland. IT WON'T EVEN WORK AT ATM'S!! The CSR proceeded to tell me that if I got one of their Visa credit cards, then I would be able to use it internationally.
I'm trying to get OUT of debt, not charge up more and I refuse to get another credit card. I'm working on paying mine off and have had the credit limit reduced as I pay it off so that I can't charge it back up and when I do have it paid off, the limit will be a minimal amount for emergencies only - not even 1/4th of what my budget for Ireland is.
I do not understand why you would be able to use a visa credit card somewhere but not a visa debit card. I thought the point of these debit cards was to be able to use them the same as a credit card.
After work today, i went and opened a new account at a much better bank.
They even offer rebates on the purchases I make with the debit card. Also, I didnt know this, but I guess my employer has some sort of a partnership with them so I get all kinds of free benefits with the account, I havent even read through all of them yet. I'm just hoping that the direct deposit gets up and running between now and then. The woman who set up my account must have took pity on me when I told her about the problem with my old bank because she told me that if I need to deposit ANY checks between now and my trip to Ireland, to come into the branch and bring them to her and she'll make sure theres no hold placed on any of the funds just to be sure that I have all of my funds available for my trip.

Friday, April 14, 2006

It's destiny

My horoscope for today:
It's time to go beyond borders. That curiosity you've always had about distant lands, foreign customs and languages? It's time to explore them to the fullest. These avenues may just be life changing.

How spooky is it that I get this horoscope 5 weeks before I leave for Ireland?
To make it even spookier, about two months ago I went to lunch with a coworker and we were having Chinese. During our meal I was telling her how I've been trying to go to Ireland the past three years but that something had always come up to stop me from going but this year I had decided that I was going this year as soon as I got my tax refund. At the end of lunch I opened my fortune cookie:
You will step on the soil of many countries.
I remember it exactly because I tacked it up at my desk as a reminder to not allow anything to stop me from going this year.

Since then, I've decided that I do need to step on the soil of many countries and that from now on I will use my tax refund every year to travel to Europe. Theres so many things I want to do, like ride a gondola through the canals of Venice, see the Eiffel Tower, visit the Louvre, walk through Pompeii. Theres so much I want to see and do.
I can't even describe how much I'm looking forward to this trip. I truly hope that it is life changing like my horoscope says it will be.

I'm staying home this weekend. I had a nice time with my friend and her family last weekend (and to those who suggested I get a dog to satisfy that matenal itch - I already have one, an adorable pembroke corgi-miniature american eskimo mix who is the sweetest thing EVER), but I've got a lot to do this weekend. Some of its self indulgent, and a little bit of its housework related. I have some laundry to get caught up on along with other housework, but I also plan on getting a manicure and pedicure tomorrow and I have quite a bit of knitting and crocheting to do.

On the needles:

1. A messenger type bag experiment.
I've started this with the thought that it would be my daily travel bag for Ireland. Something to use in place of a purse to carry my daily necessities such as my passport, camera, guide book, etc. I'm thinking it may be too big though. Im knitting it up in stockinette using two stands of yarn - Patons Classic Wool in a heathered grey and black. I'm hoping that using the two colors together will give it a marbled effect. I'm using the two colors for the body and strap of the bag and I have a dusty blue that I'll use for trim to seam the sides up and possibly add a little pocket or two with.

2. baby afghan
one of the managers at work had a little boy last week that I'm knitting up an afghan for. Normally I would have had this finished before the baby was born, but they were waiting until the birth to find out whether it was a boy or girl so the day he was born I got the yarn (yes, I cheated on my yarn diet. AGAIN) and started the afghan.

3. A tank top type experiment.
Notice a trend here?
A while back I'd gotten some Moda Dea Ticker Tape because it was on sale at Michaels. This was long before the yarn diet. I've been hanging onto this yarn for about two months now, not knowing what I was going to do with it when I decided that the color (bright & light pink) would look great on my little cousing Janae. This pattern I'm making up as I go along. I have a general idea of the look I'm going for, so we'll see how it turns out. I'm putting it on hold for the time being to work on....

4. kids sweater.
Tara of Coffee Crochet has designed a childs sweater and I'm testing the pattern for her. Its going a little slow because of the other projects I have going on right now. Once finished, this one will go to a coworkers little one.

5. Roll brim hat.
I'm using Noro Kureyon. I love the colors in this yarn - deep jewel tones. Hopefully I'll have a finished product to show you some time soon.
I've started this damn thing about 3 times. The first time I got only 4 or 5 rounds into it when I saw that I'd dropped a stitch so I'd ribbed it out to start over. The second time I'd gotten to the point of decreasing and had switched to DPN's. About 10 rows after switching to the DPN's I noticed that I'd somehow flipped the hat inside out when I'd switched to the DPN's and had been knitting on the purl side ever since. I ripped out and started over. The third time I'd almost finished the hat. Had gone all the way down to the final decrease and had all but pulled the yarn through the final stitches when I decided to try it on. I swear I had measured the thing before I started decreasing but apparently, I screwed up. The think looked like a kippah.

6. The Brangelina Wide Ribbed Brim Hat
I'm using Crystal Palace Yarns Baby Alpaca Grande in black for this one. I love this yarn, its so fluffy and luscious.
I'm only on my first try with this one but have already managed to throw off the rib pattern for this one. I've ripped it out and will be starting it again.... eventually.
Pattern credit - Crazy Aunt Purl.

So, I've got quite a few projects in the works at the moment.
Theres also another felted bag in the works. Its a mix between the felted purses I've been making recently and this cute number by Crazy Aunt Purl. More on this one later.

Next Friday I'm off to Portland again to visit the grandparents. A nice long weekend to relax on the mountain top.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Let the bidding begin!

My crap, I mean treasured belongings are up for auction on ebay!
You can find them HERE.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Am I Going Soft?

Friday after work I drove up to Cottonwood (just 30 minutes south of Redding on I-5) to spend the weekend with an old friend/coworker. She'd moved up there a little over a month ago because she realized that she and her husband were never going to be able to afford to buy a home here in Sacramento. The area is beautiful, however it is way too remote for me. I do not think I could ever live in the "country" I'm pretty certain that I'm a city girl but I do enjoy getting away from it all to relax and unwind.
My friend has a son that just turned one about 2 weeks ago. He is adorable and for some reason he latched on to me from the minute I got there. I'd seen him before a few times when my friend would bring him in to work but I'd never really spent too much time with him. All weekend he wanted me to hold him, was bringing me his favorite toys, and when I went to leave this evening I set my bag down by the door for a moment and the kid started pulling all of my stuff out of my bag and taking it back into the guest room.
I've never really wanted kids. I LOVE kids, I really do, but I've always wanted to live vicariiously through my friends and family and to be the "cool auntie". Aunt Nessie. I just like the sound of that better than "Mommy".
But this kid? He made my womb ACHE to the point that I question the whole "live vicariously through others" idea.
Am I getting soft? Do I REALLY want a kid or two eventually or is this just some anxiety tied in with turning 30 in a few months? I would think that I'm too young to be having any sort of life crisis.

Irish Fact of the Day.....
Its green and in europe.
Its late, I'm tired, and I don't feel like looking shit up.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I'm so confused

Theres a strange bright orb in the sky.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ok, so I'm a little lazy....

You want an Ireland Fact of the Day?
I'll be there in 45 days.
OH, something about Ireland itself, okay then.....

Guinness initially started brewing porters and ales in Leixlip. Guinness wasn't brewed at the famed St. James Gate brewery in Dublin until 1759 when Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease at the price of £45 annually. 1769 was the first time Guinness was exported when six and a half barrels were shipped to England.
Guinness only has 198 calories per imperial pint - this is less than an equal sized serving of skim milk.
The Guinness Brewery also produces Harps, Smithwicks and Kilkenny beers.

and yes, I believe I will be paying a visit to the brewery while I'm in Dublin.