Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dogs on Thursday

It's Penny's turn again over on Dogs on Thursday. Head over and check out her post.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Maybe a sparkle of interest???

The plague/crud/whatever it is continues to attack. Amazingly enough, I think the voice sounds worse than yesterday, yet I still have people calling me and complaining they can't undertstand me when they continue asking questions after the first croak. This is why there's email, people.

I'm not firing on all thrusters, so I don't feel comfortable doing tax work. But I'm bored. I've got on the TV. The current administration comes on talking about a plan to screw up the financial system as badly as they want to screw up healthcare. I can't even scream at the TV. I text Teresa on IM. I text Richard on the phone. I make up words to old songs, such as "Where have you gone, Alan Greenspan, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you, woo woo woo". I watch the market plummet. Now, I can't shut off this crap, because it's my job to keep up with it, much to my chagrin.

So I take out the knitting...

Most of you are now thinking, thank goodness, she's finally going to stop droning on and on about the tax code and the cleaners and the current administration and "how Mr. Smith is running this country and how many languages Enoch Powell can speak and then he throws up all over the Cuba Libres..." (as I lapse into Monty Python, Travel Agent sketch... srsly, if you've never seen this, it's a matter of cultural literacy). And she'll quit nattering about the cute dog.
(gratuitous cute dog photo)

I've been wanting to try two socks on one circular needle, specifically because my attention span lends itself to SSS (single sock syndrome, for those of you who don't knit). My friend Linda does them on two circs, and I've tried it, but I find two circs in general really fussy. A few nights ago Richard and I carefully weighed and divided a skein of Dream in Color sparkly yarn -- I forget what the heck it's called, but it was on sale at the Dizzy Sheep. My original intent was for it to become the wonderful Francie socks that my DF Jen on Ravelry had gifted me the pattern for, but upon review of the pattern and my state of mind, I decided those had best wait for another day. I decided that the Nutkin pattern might fit the bill... challenging enough not to be boring, but not so challenging as to send me screaming (or croaking as the case may be) for the frog pond.

First problem was casting on. Unlike The Magic That is Heather, I wasn't able to figure this out on my own... but fortunately others on the internet had kindly posted detailed photos of exactly how things should look. Got the stitches carefully placed on a size 1.5 47" circular needle and started to knit. I realized quickly that stitchmarkers were going to be necessary, as I kept pulling the cables too tightly and removing my "magic loop" (can you say "tense"?).

It took almost an hour, but I cast on and got two rounds of plain stockinette knit.
I really hope I get better at this. I'll let you know when I get to the heels.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Possibly the most boring blog post ever

So here we are, middle of January. I'm happy to report that I haven't gone postal with anyone over their taxes yet... but then, it's early. We're using a new tax software package this year -- ironically from the same tax software company I worked for in the early 90s. Ownership has changed, but some of the same people I worked with are still involved. One of them is the salesperson who is also my tech contact... he's just getting back into the tax craziness after being laid off from a pharmaceutical company, and we have a deal that he calls me with tax questions and I call him with tech questions. Undoubtedly I think I've got the better end of the deal. :) At any rate, it'll be different getting used to a new package. Right now I've got enough to do finishing up W2s and payroll taxes. My new desk is installed in my office and is wonderful.

Not much else is happening. I appear to have developed a case of the crud/plague/some form of upper-respiratory throat something that has at the moment cost me my voice. Delightful when you still have to speak with clients on the phone. I'm hoping for some pity.

Made a big change to discontinue the cleaning service I had. Now, those of you who know me in real life are well aware that our house will never be a show home. We are, to say the least, cluttered... at worst, we're a candidate for "Hoarders". But we take pride in the fact that even tho there's clutter, the house is basically clean. Until a few weeks ago when I bent down in the kitchen with a paper towel to wipe up a spill and the paper towel came up black. I mean totally black. The day after it had supposedly been mopped.

So I called a client of mine who has a cleaning business, and as luck would have it, she had an opening. She and her husband came today. Wow. Just wow. I am so very happy with everything she did!!! So Susan, if you're reading this, a big ol' Thank You from the three of us... oh, and if you live in the north Atlanta area and are looking for someone to help you out, let me know and I'll provide particulars... :)

Penny continues to run the household. She's now 10 months old and is a Big Dog. Just ask her. She fancies herself to be a watchdog. Just let there be a noise of any sort -- car going by, airplane flying overhead, ant walking across the grass -- and she'll spring into action and into full barking frenzy. We haven't seen what would happen should she encounter Actual Danger, but I'm sure in her mind she's up to the challenge. This week we took her for a walk that was a full circuit of the neighborhood -- about 2.5 miles. That made for one tuckered teckel (as well as tuckered parents who walked her...).

Until next time... stay warm... if you're around here, stay dry... and continue to keep the people of Haiti in your prayers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sometimes we need a reminder...

...of Who's in charge.

We got a reminder in Haiti last night. The suffering of that poor nation is tremendous... the history of corrupt government combined with the poverty, and now the smackdown of this earthquake... it's almost too much for humans to comprehend.

It's natural to want to help. And that's what I want to talk to you about.

You're going to see commercials on TV and hear them on the radio from relief agencies begging you for money. I'd like for you to consider other options, namely, faith-based relief organizations.

These organizations are not going to use their money on advertising. They operate as a branch of their denomination (or please forgive me, whatever branches of the Jewish faith are called... I'll admit I don't know), and their salaries and expenses are paid by the larger organization. That means that the money you donate for the cause actually goes to the cause and not to finance overhead.

More bang for the buck. As an accountant, I like that. And they'll give you the receipt you need for your taxes.

These folks are often the first ones in to situations like Haiti. They go in quietly, doing their work without fanfare. You won't see them on TV. They're carrying out the mission their faith tells them to do, which is to serve their brothers.

It doesn't matter if you're a believer or not. Just recognize the good work these organizations are doing, often on a shoestring budget. And help them if you can. I've put my money where my mouth is, and I encourage you to do the same.

Of the many organizations available, I can direct you to two I have personal experience with: the Presbyterians and the Methodists. There are many more available... just do your research and check them out before you give. Unfortunately, events like this also bring out a lot of charlatans.

God bless you for helping. God bless the relief workers. And God bless and help the people of Haiti.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ice, Ice, Baby...

What did I get for my birthday?? Ice.

There's precedent: twenty-two years ago, my thirtieth birthday party was cancelled due to a good old-fashioned Southern snow storm... which to those of you who don't live in these parts means a heavy coating of ice topped by about an inch or inch and a half of snow. We who were raised in the South understand that it means a snow day, and we hole up in our houses for the most part, having raided the local grocery stores of all the bread and milk, and we don't leave until the ice melts, which is generally the next day. Now, I understand those of you from cooler climates don't understand this but 1) you can't drive on ice and 2) we just don't have the equipment down here to clear the roads.

So on Wednesday, my two DFs Ann and Teresa came into town to spend the weekend with me for my birthday. We'd been cooking up this plan since ASG in October, and we were psyched about just hanging out on Thursday, doing shopping and eating out on Friday (my actual birthday) and then deciding what to do on Saturday.

Except... on Thursday afternoon it started raining. Then, it started snowing. Normally not much of a problem, since it generally melts and goes away, but we've been in the grips of the coldest weather this area has seen in, oh, 20 years (note reference above to my 30th birthday...). Somebody left the door to the arctic open and has seriously neglected to close it. So... the rain gave us a nice layer of ice for the snow to stick to, and the temps were low enough that it wasn't going anywhere.

Thursday night DFs Jill, Heather, Andy, Debbie, and Linda joined us for stitch night and a brief celebration -- Debbie brought some oh so delicious cupcakes! -- but driving home was a bit dicey, but everyone reported in that they had made it safely.

Friday morning we turned on the TV and realized we weren't going anywhere. Looked out the window at the ice on the road in front of the house and realized we weren't going anywhere. Fortunately Richard was able to work from home (we discovered later that night that it was a really good thing he didn't try to go in -- his route to work was the scene of an 11 car pileup where people just abandoned their cars because they couldn't move them on the ice). So... we had another day of hanging out, knitting, and stitching. Teresa discovered the wonders of the Wii and video games. :) And we shifted all our plans to Saturday.

Fortunately everything looked clearer on Saturday thanks to some sunshine and wind (the temps still hadn't come up, so there wasn't any actual melting). Richard and his "harem" ventured out... we met up with DFs Heather and Andy to shop at the Vera Bradley store (do you know you get a freebie from them on your birthday?? Sweet!) and Teavana (yum...). Then we ventured up to Buford, GA to shop at The Stitch Store (used to be The Dogwood Patch in Hiawassee, GA but recently moved and re-named). Lucked into their 20% off grand opening sale! :) It's a nice store, with a very sweet owner, and she has a fabulous selection of fabric and fibers.

Saturday evening we were met by DF Cathy, and we all went to The Melting Pot for fondue. I absolutely love fondue, and this didn't disappoint! Richard had arranged for balloons and a special gift of chocolate dipped strawberries as well. Everyone got different cheese fondues, entrees, and different chocolate dessert fondues so we were able to sample a lot.

What a wonderful birthday and a wonderful weekend! A little ice and snow can't stop a good party. :)

And the snow?? Someone had her first experience in it:

Till next time -- stay warm!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year... New Outlook (I hope!)

Thanks to all of you who actually read my last two posts. Looking back over them, they were so depressing that even I couldn't stand reading them! So I'm starting off the year with a fresh outlook and have high hopes that I'll be more entertaining.

So how about some pictures?? Say of a particularly cute wiener dog who just happened to get a package in the mail from her Uncle Jerry, Aunt Kay, and Cousin Clancy in Chicago??

The package was addressed to Penny, so it was only fair that she got first crack at opening it:Unfortunately, the lack of opposable thumbs was ultimately her downfall. She gave it her best shot, but we had to help her. Inside, just for her were yummy, yummy, home baked dog cookies.Now, I know this picture shows her sitting politely, waiting for a cookie. I fear it is seriously misleading, as she was quite excited and could barely wait to get to the yumminess that I was holding. Understand that Penny is, as all dachshunds appear to be, an odd little dog. When she gets a particularly high value treat that she thinks needs to be "buried" in our house, she'll walk around with it in her mouth, crying. It sounds quite pitiful and it was very distressing the first few times we heard it until we figured out it was just her way. She took the cookie, cried, buried it, unburied it, walked and cried again, buried it, unburied it, walked and cried again... well you get the idea. This went on for quite awhile until she finally brought it to us for "permission" to eat. Silly dog. Needless to say, the cookies are such high value that I'm doling them out slowly... And we give a great big Thank You to our Chicago friends!!!

Penny has now decided that she wants to claim my pillow at night to sleep on. Mind you, there is an entire king-sized bed that she pretty much has the run of (can I end any more phrases with prepositions?), but she has a dachshund-obsession with my pillow. A couple of nights ago it landed her in her crate to sleep -- now her crate is large and has a fluffy dog bed in it, so it's hardly a prison, but it's not with us. So we'll say that it's a problem we're working on.

A little knitting, you say? Well, I did finish Christmas gifts for my sisters-in-law that can now be shown:Identical hats and cowls, made from Araucania Chunky wool, ordered from Webs. Cowl pattern is the Un-Purled Cables cowl created by my friend Sara, and the hat is a beret recipe from Crazy Aunt Purl. Both are free patterns on Ravelry. I thought both of my sisters-in-law could use them since they have dogs that need walking during the winter weather.

Other pics? Well, I never posted the pic of the crew at ASG:From L to R you find moi, Ann, The Magic That Is Heather, Teresa (girlwithneedles for all you Ravelry folks), Jill, Joy, and Angela. Our group was a little smaller this year, but we still had loads of fun.

That's all for now... back to work with me tomorrow. Richard has been on vacation for two weeks and it's been wonderful having him home. Although, it's been a bit of a working vacation as we've been trying to evict the slobs who evidently moved into our house without us knowing it. We couldn't possibly be that messy, could we?? In the process I ordered a grown-up desk for my office to be delivered this week and I'm very excited about that. ("If you get excited about a desk and a calculator, you might be an accountant.") So until next time...The End. :)