The realities of age....

I have never much been one to worry about the trivial things in life. And for me, age is a pretty trivial thing. When I was in the 6th grade, I had a friend named Cindy. She had an older sister who was in *gasp* high school! She was the COOLEST. I had many a day dream about what my life would be when I finally reached the glamorous age of high school. :sigh:

I remember my first day of high school like it was yesterday. I was fascinated by the idea of meeting people who drove and had their own cars. And dating boys who shaved. As the weeks and months and years of high school went by, I had my share of wonderful and horrifying experiences. But I never did feel on the inside the way I always imagined Cindy's older sister felt. When would I feel like a grown-up?

After high school came marriage and the birth of my son. I would look into his little face with the big eyes and I would think. "Wow, I am a mom." And yet still, on the inside, I felt pretty much the same. When my son was young, I imagined my mom and how she seemed to me when I was little. She had a job and was married and was a mother. And I wondered, "when will I feel like a grown-up?"

Years went by. I went to college, graduated, went to work in politics. Flying around the country, working for and with important people. I was now a mom, a wife, a college graduate, and a career woman. And yet, I still wondered, "when will I feel like a grown-up?"

Now, at 35 I am still waiting. I don't know anymore what I am waiting for. I know I am not the same person I was at 15. Or 25. Damn, every time I think I have life figured out, ten years go by and a I look back and think. I didn't know a thing about anything. Yesterday, I looked at my 15 year old son and had the same thought I always have. Holy shit, I am a mom and THAT is my child. When the hell did that happen?

Getting older has never bothered me. Turning 30, 35, just didn't phase me. Each year that goes by, my life has just been better and better, so why would I mind getting older?

Yesterday after sitting down to do some knitting I came to the realization that I have the symptoms of arthritis in my left hand. This is not really so surprising. My grandmother had pretty bad arthritis in her hands. But now I am thinking a lot about aging and the unpleasantness that comes with the reality that we just aren't the same as we used to be. Things that never ached before now ache. Things that used to be up are down. There are few more grey hairs and some crows feet around the eyes. I accept these things. They really don't bother me that much in the scheme of things. But I still have just one question: When will I feel like a grown-up?


I finished the Clap for Kristal. It has really been done for awhile, but I had to finish dropping the stitches and then pin it out for blocking. It's on the blocking mattress right now. I couldn't figure out where to block it out that I could pin it to, because it is so long. I didn't want to go with the floor, because of the dogs. Then I remembered that there is my son's old twin mattress in the dining room, awaiting pick-up by the thrift mart. So I put the mattress down and pinned the Clap to some towels laid over the mattress. It is NOT pretty, so I'll wait to post pics until it is finished drying.

I am swatching for a new clap for me using the linen (flax) that Anna sent me. I'm not sure about it, as the linen is a little stiff. I am thinking however that as the linen softens, it will be fine and with a little blocking will probably look lovely. Although, blocking linen is a bit tricky. But I have done it before, so soldier on! The clap will be a perfect pattern to knit on the way to Yosemite in two weeks. Last year I designed Yosemite on the bus ride. This year, I already have a design I'm working on, I just need to decide if I want to take it with me or not.

For the uninitiated, I go to Yosemite every year with the 7th graders. We leave on Monday morning, ride on the bus for 9 hours, arrive, eat dinner, do a night hike and go to sleep. Then we have outdoor fun and adventure for three more days. On Friday morning we wake up, we eat breakfast, take a quick hike, pack up the bus and head back home. We're usually home my 6 or 7pm. It is the most awesomest (see I'm practicing my middle school speak) trip ever. This will by my fourth trip. I really enjoy it because it reminds me of home (Alaska) and re-inspires my dedication to the environment and exercise. I'm hoping the exercise motivation lasts longer than it did last year. OY.


I fought the credit card company.....

and I won! So this blog has officially morphed from knitting blog to hock my designs, to official debt reduction/politics/knitting/I'm bored and have nothing better to do, blog.

So here is the story. You all know the debt reduction story. We don't use credit cards at all anymore. But we have opened some accounts in the last year in order to take advantage of 0% interest offers to restructure the debt that we do have. One of the cards is a BofA card that I opened in October. Since the first month, it has always been due on the 3rd. Except apparently for February when they decided they wanted me to pay it both on the 3rd AND the 29th. Of course, because the bill is always due on the 3rd, it is scheduled to go out via our online banking bill payment service. So our March payment was late (because it was due in February). So they jacked up our rate from ZERO to 29.99%. Oh yeah baby, didn't even offer any lube.

So I decided to call them and check up with them since the last time I called. Last week the nice gentleman who helped me was able to tell me that my account was flagged for "retention". This apparently means that when I call and threaten to cancel my account, they're supposed to try and keep me. Now this is fun turn of events, because two years account my credit was for shit. I guess when it becomes clear that you're in the process of paying off and closing accounts, your credit score goes up? That must be the case, because it has been probably more than a year since we've used a credit card. :shrug: Anyway, the guy who I talked to told me to pay the late fee, bringing the account "current" and then call back and ask for a lower rate.

Today I called and not only did they give me back my 0% rate, but they credited me back all the late fees and shit. SWEET!

I tell all of you this not to brag about my credit being good (which honestly, I could care less, since I hope to NEVER need it), or to brag about having the money to pay off accounts of companies that piss me off. But to say that two years ago we were hopelessly broke. We payed out more per month than we made, even though we made good money. Our credit was for crap. I thought we were going to live on the verge of bankruptcy forever. We never had money to go out and eat, like all of our friends. Every small emergency was financially devastating.

If you feel like you don't make enough money, and you're never going to get ahead. You're wrong. If you really want to do it, you can. It's not easy. Truly it isn't. But it's the kind of hard that is so rewarding that you don't mind doing it. Every little extra penny paid is a triumph and it motivates you to keep going.

So many people are hung up on the idea that in order to have a lot, you have to make a lot of money. But the reality is that the best way to have a lot, is to have very little overhead. Think of your salary for a minute. Now image how much BIGGER that salary would feel if you had NO credit card payments. NO mortgage payments. NO student loan payments. It would be like getting a $2,000 a month raise, right?

Okay, now I'm veering off in the direction of infomercial territory, right? I'll stop. If you're interested in our debt repayment plan, you can check it out at www.daveramsey.com. The basics of the plan are completely free. We haven't spent a dime on learning it, although if you really want to be a kool-aid drinker, there are classes, seminars, books, etc. But the radio show and the TV show are free, and you can learn about the basics of the program for free on the website.

Total financial freedom. You can do it.

Another day, another non-knitting post.

I am still working away on the giftie for mom. So I can't delve into any detail about that except to say, it is going really well. Oh yeah, and guess what? You really do use the math you learn in school in real, everyday adult life. HA to all those little bastards that questioned why they should learn the math I was trying to teach them. But I digress. I just realized that I can't even tell the math story without revealing what the gift is, and that bums me out because it would make an excellent post. Crap.

What can I talk about then? I am doing the drop stitches on the Clap for Kristal, which is completed. It is knit with SWS, and turned out quite nice. I am going to finish the dropped stitches, then lay it out in a pseudo block. Then I am going to start swatching for the next Clap made from my swap yarn.

I looked at a lot of wrap patterns, but I really think the simplicity of the clap pattern will show the beauty of that yarn the best. I wonder if that yarn will keep it's shine after washing? I know it will significantly soften, but I hoping not to loose all the sheen. :sigh:

Okay, this picture is why I can never get out of bed on Saturday morning. I love the view of the bougainvillea and lantana in the back yard. A few weeks ago the roses were amazing, but they're working on new buds right now.

The Coachella Festival is this weekend, so of course it is bloody hot. It's been gorgeous for most of April. I'm sure Prince will love performing in 100 degree weather. Hope that new hip holds up!


Hello! I'm hungry!

When Daisy is really hungry, she climbs up on her house and makes little whistling noises. She totally knows her name. She knows me. As soon as she hears my voice in the morning, she gets up there and waits for me to come feed her. She really needs a new bigger house, but I'm so nervous about her living outside, she is still pretty young. I guess she could be on another table, but that house fits in that spot so well. I'll have to look online and see what other people do.


What is it about cycles?

So I was thinking today about cycles. Financial cycles and the economy and what not. As I strolled down memory lane I started to realize that the hubmeister and I have always been on an opposite cycle from what is happening in the country financially. When times are bad in general, we seem to be doing well. When it's boom time and everyone is buying a house, we're broke. I figure by the time we pay off all our debt, the government will announce its debt forgiveness program. HA!

I want to be able to talk about what I am knitting right now. It is a simple little pattern that I am designing, but I can't give you all the details, because it is for my mom. I don't know if she reads this, but I can't take the chance, so you'll all have to wait for Mother's Day for the big reveal. Or you can read about it at the rav page for the project. (This is so why I need Rav to stay private!)

Okay, off to make movies with 5th graders. Woot!


Damn I'm Chatty Today!

Just wanted to post a quick link to the rav page for completed Yosemites! Some of these are so beautiful, it makes me want to knit another one!

Rav Link

Yarn Swap Yarn

Originally uploaded by Swanky Knitter
So check this out! This is the yarn I received all the way from Sweden from my yarn swap pal, Anna. It is SO GORGEOUS. This photo does not even do it justice.

It is Linen and I can't wait to figure out something to do with it. I am thinking about a clapotis or shawl of some sort. Ideas?

Joy of Bluetooth

So I have made a wonderful discovery. I have connected my camera phone's bluetooth capability to my laptop, so that I can easily transfer the pics I take with my phone to my laptop. Oh happy day! It makes taking and uploading pictures so much easier and faster! I know the quality of the pictures is not as good. But for quick and dirty, it can't be beat.


Debt Snowball

So we are working our debt snowball. We've been seriously working on it since December. For the uninitiated, the debt snowball is step 2 of Dave Ramsey's* debt reduction program. There are books and classes and other stuff, but the basic premise of the program is free and you can get all the info at the website. There is also a Rav Group and I'm sure a lot of online resources. He has a radio show and a TV show, but I don't think he's that great on TV. (Sorry Dave).

Anyway, in the last two years, we have paid off our car, our golf cart and two or three credit cards. But in December we really got serious and put together a budget. We use cash only to pay for all of our day to day expenses. I used to think that ATM cards were so great because you had a record of everything you spent and where and when you spent it. But I have found since switching to cash that it is much harder to part with! I spend way less money than I did with the card. I have a certain amount of money to spend in the month and when I go in my wallet to get that $5 for a starbucks, and see that I only have $100 left for the month and it's only the 5th, it's pretty easy to say no to that coffee.

I have discovered an added benefit to this program though. It's called peace-of-mind. In February our car went in for an alternator. It cost $550. I have never been so happy to spend that amount of money. Why was I happy? Because I actually had it in the bank. I've learned that spending money isn't stressful. I've learned that cars that break down do not cause stress. Financial instability is the culprit and it takes a fairly small amount of money to give one that stability. The first step in the program is to save up $1000 and put it in an account for emergencies. As long as it may take you to do this, it is the most liberating part of the whole debt reduction experience. What it means is that when those little emergencies come up, you don't end up completely financially devastated. It means that you don't have to charge it, or borrow it or steal it.

In addition to having this money for emergencies, you also have it to give you financial confidence. I had a little run in with a credit card company Saturday when I realized they had jacked up my introductory rate up to 29.99% for a really stupid reason. When I called them to "chat" about it, I found that I was able to negotiate with them for what I wanted, because I was willing to close the account and pay it off that day if I didn't get what I wanted. In reality, it would have depleted my emergency fund, but I was willing to do it, and because I could, I was able to be very persuasive.

I know, it sounds like I drank the kool-aid and maybe I have. But I like it. It's good for me and it would be good for you too. If you think you don't make enough money, you're wrong. If you think you have too much debt to pay it off, you're wrong. If you want some motivation, you can find success stories at the website. Or you can listen to the Friday podcast where people call in to say they are debt free. It is pretty inspiring.

*Disclaimer: The radio program, the books and the classes are peppered with a fair amount of Christian preaching. If you don't like that sort of thing, you can do as I do and just ignore it. I don't subscribe to the religious stuff in this program. But you can do the program without a church, and without god if that is your inclination, like me!


Lovely and Sad.

So I am bored. I'm at work. My morning forum reading complete, and no knitting with me to work on. I have been working on seaming the afghan for Joel's girls. You can see info about the project here (rav link). Here is a photo of my progress. These are four panels that are seamed vertically, but not seamed to each other.

Some of you who know that I am not a religious person may wonder about the design. The design is not mine. It was designed by some of my fellow knitters who knew Joel and knew he was devout and active in his church.

It doesn't bother me to honor him with these afghans for his two girls. Even though it isn't what I would want for myself, I understand the sentiment and I truly hope they will bring some comfort to his girls.

As you can see, I have another panel to finish. I am awaiting the arrival of two more lilac squares. The seaming is so much faster than I anticipated it being. I am using a crochet slip stitch seam. Once the seaming is done, I think we're doing a garter stitch border around the outside.

My friend Sara is doing the other afghan which is the same design, but with the lilac and sage switched. It's truly beautiful! Essjay and Dotmom were the creative minds behind the color scheme and the design. Such great eyes for color and theme!

I'll post more info when it's finished.

We'll wait.

Oh are you going to take a shower? We'll wait here for you.


Dogs and Their Boy

Since I have nothing of interest to add today about knitting or politics or society in general, I give you the dogs and their boy! I hope that worked. I just uploaded the picture and I am new to this whole blogger thing. I miss iWeb for my blog, but it's too hard to use when you publish to a third party and not to .Mac. Message to Apple (I know you're reading this Steve Jobs) I want more functionality out of iWeb. KTHX BAI!


Mistakes and Consquences

So as usual, I've been on the Rav. I'm not there as much as I used to be. Trying to cut down and all that. But I was there today and I was reading a little thread (all names and links are withheld to protect the not-so-innocent) about a girl who decided to use a well known document hosting website to upload a bunch of knitting patterns. Some of these patterns were free patterns, and some were patterns she had purchased and scanned in. Others were patterns she or someone had bought and downloaded.

After this phenomenon was discovered, some of the designers of these patterns went to this well known document site and made complaints. The complaints were taken very seriously, because this particular girl had not just uploaded the docs, she had created a group specifically for sharing said patterns with others. After enough complaints, apparently the site banned her and removed all her documents.

Contrary to where you all think I am going with this, this post is not about the actions of said girl, or the copyright issues stemming from such behavior. HA! Gotcha. You totally thought I was going there, didn't you? Nope. What amazes me about this whole situation is the reaction of said girl after the fact.

Apparently this girl put on her blog that she has some sort of interview coming up and now she can't access any of her work related documents because she was banned from the document hosting site. Now I can already hear some of the grumbles coming you dear readers. You are thinking that this seems very unfair. You are thinking that this girl should not lose out on work because she made a mistake. Maybe you are thinking that this girl's professional life shouldn't be made to suffer EVEN if she did do everything maliciously.

If you are thinking that, then PISS OFF with you! When you make a mistake, no matter how innocent, there are consequences. It is an example of the ages that people think that because their actions did not have the intended results, that somehow that means that there should be no punishment. Or worse. Sometimes people just don't think they should have to pay the consequences of their conduct at all. Ever.

You make mistakes. This is normal. Everyone does. Suffering the consequences of those mistakes is what teaches us to be better people. It is what teaches us the errors of our ways. To deny our children, or others the experience of this suffering is to deny them the tools necessary for them to become better people. I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. I have suffered what seemed to be unfair consequences at the time of those mistakes. But from every mistake I have made, I have learned, and mostly I do not repeat those mistakes.

So don't look to me to feel sorry for you, pattern uploading girl. Like my mom always said, if you play, you pay. Them's the breaks, kid.

ETA: Grammar and punctuation. Not used to posting in the new format, sorry!