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Archive for the ‘McRanty’ Category

It’s been a rather emotional weekend, full of ups and downs.

Mom works for a national grocery chain. Right now the union that oversees her job is negotiating with the store bigwigs over things like wages, health insurance, and the like. Friday evening they canceled their agreement to extend the old contract– so in essence, the workers are at this moment not working under a contract, and a strike can be called at any time should the negotiations break down again (which was why they canceled the extension in the first place). As of this writing, they are still talking, which is positive… no real updates, but I’m flying with the “no news is good news” route. Still nerve-racking, but better than the alternative.

And Friday’s non-post was due to Projects That Do NOT Want To Be Made. Many crafters have wrestled with this beastie– whether it be sewing, knitting, or whathave you… the project that takes FOREVER and causes aggravation and dismay. Well, the planets aligned here at Squirrelhaus where most everything decided that it would be fun to instill gobs of frustration into the normal bit of insanity.

Like… the crocheted hat I’m trying to make for Preschool Rockstar to give her a little variety in her chapeau selection. I don’t know what in the world’s going on, but it’s turning out BIG. I’ve already had to frog once, and it’s still coming out roomy (and this is supposed to hug the head). It’s time to frog again, rip it down to a smaller crown and try it again before I reduce hook size.

And then… the housecoat. I’m plodding along, pinking the seams, fighting the blind hem function (which I have mastered! hahahaha!), when the project comes to a screeching halt, due to the fact that one of the pattern pieces has disappeared into the ether. Which wasn’t a total loss since I tend to copy patterns onto interfacing (more durable, and I can make modifications and notations onto it) so I have the original pattern. But the fabric… not so much. And this is a piece that’s going to be seen rather than a lining piece which can have a substitution of a solid color fabric. So that entailed a trip to the fabric store, and the fabric’s being washed now.

I have a third project that I’m working on for a friend, which still needs iron-on numbers of a certain type that I’m trying to find with little to no luck. And this can be trying enough… but on top of having very little time to devote to these projects makes the snafus and the fubars all that more pronounced. It’s doubly frustrating to realize that I need to rip out several rows of crocheting when it took me three nights to get that far. It’s nearly time to break down into tears when a toddler’s insisting  you read them Good Night Moon for the FIFTH TIME IN A ROW and all you want to do is try to sew in one damn sleeve. 

But within the crazy, some fun can be had which keeps life in balance. Last Saturday we had an opportunity to go to an event held by a local organization that put together a temporary drive in movie theater. There were some neat food trucks, and a Roller Derby team raised money and awareness for their group by acting like car hops– you let them know what you wanted, and they would go to the trucks (or several of the local joints by the parking lot) and get it for you. It was nice to have the younger two (Eldest Daughter was with her biological father last weekend) in their jammies, the van set up so we could sit with the girls and watch the movie (Ferris Beuller’s Day Off– which was sorta unfortunate since a cable station was also showing the same movie THAT DAY). It seemed to be a success; the organizers are talking about having another one. I think we shall attend!

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Running to Stand Still…

I don’t think Hubs and I would make it on The Amazing Race.

Which is sad, because out of all the reality TV dreck, I kinda like The Amazing Race. I love the premise that you go around the world, doing challenges that are… sorta… related to the area’s cultures/traditions/what seems to freak the mundanes. You have to get by on your wits and whatever resources you may have, whether given or brought to the game by you and your partner. And while I’m sure there’s a fair amount of editing to make people seem more likable/douchecanoe-y, it doesn’t feel as piled on as some others. We have talked about how it would be fun to try to be on. How this might be a helluva way to see the world.

But today. Oy, today. One of the things that really work with us is when there’s an emergancy, we both get into a zen-like calm, and work together to solve whatever crisis is going on. Time to fall apart and freak can be later, we deal. But if it’s not a life and death thing?

Our house is an older home, built in the postwar holy-crap-we-got-to-house-all-the-soldiers-and-their-families 40s. The home was renovated slightly– the original homeowner thought himself quite the handyman, and before my mom and dad bought the house it was worked on. We’ve done some remodeling (one awesome experience and one that should have been featured on Holmes on Homes). The kitchen wasn’t really touched aside from having to replacing bits and bobs. The majority of it is still from the 40s, and we are constantly running into problems in a world where not many things are made for a house that is either too old for the modern crap, or too new for the restoration/vintage crap. We constantly are having to make do. One of the things we did was use some shelves that my dad had put up lo these many years ago as a sort of dry pantry/storage area for my baking ingredients.

A couple of days ago, Mom and I were talking, and she discovers that the shelves were in a slow state of collapse. We were able to rescue the goods (yay team us!) but the braces were toast; as a stopgap measure until we can really afford to get a remodel (or… somehow have one gifted to us!) we deicided to get the heavy-duty shelves to put up on the wall. HOW HARD CAN IT BE, REALLY???

Through this Project That Won’t Die, we discovered a few things, like…We knew the walls aren’t really drywall but a sort of plaster-esque substance. What we didn’t know was how brittle it was getting. Oh, and our fancy-dancy stud finder? Couldn’t find a damn beam even if it was right on top of the blasted thing; my drill, on the other hand, was able to find the stud JUST FINE… while we were using the drill bit sized for the anchor, which was too large for the screw that came with the plastic bits of crap that we needed to use as anchors. Our hammers, an essential tool so we could pound the anchors into the wall, apparently have all grown legs and walked off to parts unknown, leaving a small worthless PoS hammer that couldn’t pound sand, and a mallet that ended up bouncing from the impact and nearly banging Hubs in the head several times.

We started this with Preschool Rockstar asleep and my mom rocking Toddler Terrorist, praying that we could get this done. Nope, Rockstar woke up and was in Weepy Clingy mode. I tried to distract her with a show but then she kept screaming questions about what was going on, which was distracting, which also resulted in Hubs putting his thumb through the brittle plaster. He was snapping at me, I was snapping right back, and Rockstar was asking more questions about Disneyland Resorts which we couldn’t answer because we were a little busy not trying to kill each other. I got her in her room with crayons and a princess coloring book, so that was better (even though she would come out every other minute wanting me to color Sleeping Beauty pink, wanting me to rip the page out of the book, wantingwantingwanting).

The wall braces are on, and they mostly cover the holes (yes, plural) that were put in while trying to get the damndable anchors in. We start with the shelves; My idea was that, since you have to screw the shelf onto the shelf supports, we would hook the supports on the braces, screw the shelf on, and then move it where we need it to go. That’s when we found out… one of the braces was installed 1/16″ lower then the other two. Technically they were level… but spaced in such a way that the shelf, once screwed on, would pretty much be locked in place. Kinda the opposite of the problem we had with the previous set. More RAWRing ensued, with bonus stomping around by us!

Hubs: “well, I hope you like where that shelf is… BECAUSE I CAN’T MOVE IT.”

Me: “let me see what’s going on.”

Hubs: “IT’S NOT MOVING. You are WELCOME TO TRY, but it’s locked in place.”

Me: (pissed off after about five minutes of futzing, I removed the shelf): “IT’S OFF!”

Hubs stomped back in, still frustrated, and tried to put the shelf up again. He ended up having to take the screws out, reposition the supports, and put the screws in.

After the second shelf, we’ve ruined the screw bit on my drill, Hubs’ drill battery isn’t charging, and the wee auto-screwdriver he was resorting to use fell behind the cabinets under where the shelves are put up. We were tired, both drenched in sweat, and my husband kept asking where the hell Bear Sheva was. That’s when I realized that within three episodes of The Amazing Race, we would end up like one of those teams that would be screaming at each other, possibly me saying screw it, quit the contest and find a decent hotel with a jacuzzi and room service that brings the booze in cases instead of by the glass.

I still need to put the last two shelves on. And maybe figure out a way to get that kitchen remodel sooner then planned… Happy Labor Day!

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Hate on me if you must, but there are times when children’s TV shows can be useful. Like any tool, if you limit it to when it’s necessary (like… making dinner and you can’t have the kids in the kitchen because it would be dangerous) and make sure the tool is a quality product then there’s a positive outcome to using it. And there’s the rub. It’s gotta be quality. And sad to say… I really think that’s missing from the shows today.

Showing my age, I’m just a wee bit older than Sesame Street. I grew up watching it. My mom felt that this show taught me much more than the preschool I went to, so I only went to preschool for one day (well, the preschool I did go to taught me that cliques are cruel, adults can be selfish tools, and nothing can be more awesome then seeing Mom’s station wagon pulling up to the curb. But I’d like to think that wasn’t quite the prime education they were trying for). I learned silly songs. I learned the alphabet and counting. I learned how wonderful having an imaginary friend can be. I learned that there can be caring adults, like Bob, and Maria and Gordon, and Mr. Hooper. It didn’t matter what color, or species people were, they can be friends. I saw the urban and the rural kids segments, two worlds far and away from the suburb that I was living in. I sobbed my fool eyes out when, much later, I found out the actor Will Lee (Mr. Hooper) passed away– it honestly felt like a dear friend had died, as well as a part of my childhood.

My two older children came along, and they watched a bit of Sesame Street. Then the Red Menace started showing up.

No, not communism. Elmo.

One of the things that harshes my calm is when I hear baby talk. All the other Muppets who spoke, with the possible exception of Cookie Monster, used regular English. They talked… like adults without talking down to the kids. Elmo? Used baby talk. I watched Eldest Daughter (who was wee at the time) start regressing and that’s when I decided these stomping grounds, my childhood playground and learning arena, had ben spoiled.

Today, I turned on Sesame Street to see how well it fared. It caused Preschool Rockstar to get hyper with the frantic pace. Toddler Terrorist really couldn’t have cared less (thank heavens). And The Red Menace was as horrid as ever. Urban decay has overrun Sesame Street, sad to say.

This isn’t a pile-on one show. My ire is for a good portion of the genre. See, I grew up watching shows that weren’t talking down to me. I grew up with shows like Rocky and Bullwinkle where the sly humor was something the grownups could enjoy while the kids watched Boris and Natasha try to catch Moose and Squirrel, or Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman as they traveled through time. Captain Kangaroo with his friends Mr. Greenjeans and Mr. Bunny Rabbit (and Bill Cosby!). Was there crap? Oh, you betcha, but I never really watched them (ok, maybe the Saturday morning cartoons– Superfriends, anyone? But then again, we also had Schoolhouse Rock which was sandwiched between the shows and what I ran to the TV to watch).

Nowadays… it seems like a lot of the shows are an endurance test.  They seem so dratted EARNEST AND MUST TEACH YOU SOMETHING or stupidly dumb where you feel the brain cells actively dying as you watch. Or the shows that revolve around toys and are basically half-hour advertisements for crap. You have to slog through them with your kids; and if you aren’t enjoying yourself, you aren’t enjoying the time with the kids,which is what they’ll take away from it.

Give me shows that engage the brain, but help the kids learn things like concentration, patience, and follow-through. Give me shows that can help define their sense of humor beyond fart jokes. There are ways to teach to without talking down. oh, and while I understand that new concepts are hard to sell and harder to get off the ground with the studios being twits, re-imaginging such shows like Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood (http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/08/mister_rogers_n.php) does not turn me on. Unless they bring Fred Rogers back as a zombie, but I can’t really imagine that working past one or two episodes.

(disclaimer: Yes, my kids do see sunlight. We have a backyard that they play in, a park we go to, and a whole slew of books that I can probably recite to you right now since we’ve read them over and over and over and over and over and… so in case you want to write to me warning me of all the dangers of plopping the kids down in front of the TV all day long, don’t worry. I read the studies, the kids get at most a couple of hours.

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