Sunday, August 31, 2008

Georgia On My Mind

I've lived in Georgia for nineteen years. I didn't move here by choice, but because of my husband's job. After all these years, I still don't much like it, but I have friends and activities here, know where the stores are, and have a hairdresser and doctors I like. The reason this area has grown so fast and so large is because companies move here, and the unfortunate employees must follow. After all these years, I still wouldn't choose to live here if I had the choice, and I can't think of any reason anyone would move here if they didn't have to.

Two items in this week's news reinforce my opinion of the area: Clayton County, south of Atlanta, is the first school district in the nation since 1969 to have its accreditation stripped from it; AND there is a road sign on the Georgia side of the Georgia/Alabama border that says that our speed limit laws will be "strickly enforced." Oh, good.

I feel sorry for the parents in Clayton County. Unless they are wealthy enough and can find decent private schools within commuting distance from their homes, they are stuck with schools that are poorly run and poorly performing. If they are homeowners, they can try and sell and move someplace with better schools, but people aren't moving to the area because of the schools.

I don't know the solution to any of this, but I do know that there is a connection between education in Georgia and the sign just inside the state line...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Are the inmates running the asylum

over at the McCain campaign?

I'm guessing that the governor of Alaska is a nice enough woman. But a heartbeat away from the Presidency??? She has been governor for two years and before that she was the mayor of a small (pop. 7,000) town and before that she was a PTA president.

John McCain is 72 years old today, and if elected, will be the oldest president at the time of his election in our history. He has had a couple of bouts of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. So to worry that he might not make it through four years is not wildly beyond imagination.

And then Sarah Palin takes over? She must give hope to PTA presidents everywhere...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Does anyone know

if you can get e-coli or whatever from slicing your finger open while trying to put a skewer in raw chicken?

What I was trying to do was roast a chicken on my charcoal grill. I have no business doing this but my husband is on the road coming home from south Georgia and I felt like trying something new. My friend in West Virginia did this while I was visiting and the chicken was delicious. I thought I was paying enough attention, but possibly-NOT.

First of all, I was distracted by all of the different brands of charcoal at the grocery store and decided to try something called Greenwise 100% Wood Charcoal. Doesn't "100% natural" sound like a good thing? However, it doesn't look like charcoal; it looks like black pieces of lumber. When I was in college, my friends stopped asking me to get them their cigarettes from the machines in the basement if I was going there to do laundry. (Yes, there were cigarette vending machines in dorms back then. It was a long time ago.) I would get distracted by all of the labels and end up buying something other than what they had requested. "Give these a try," I would say. I learned then that smokers are very faithful to their brand, and I have just learned that I should have stuck with the normal charcoal briquettes.

I don't know if I put enough charcoal in or if the fire is hot enough to even roast marshmallows, let alone cook a chicken. It sure doesn't feel like it. And as I dumped the hot coals out of the chimney we use to start the charcoal, the pieces fell apart. I don't know if I'm supposed to leave the vents opened or closed, or if it's ok to open the lid to check and make sure everything is still cooking along. So basically, I don't know anything except that my finger hurts.

Tonight we are going to a restaurant where the local democrats have rented two rooms with televisions so that we can watch Barack Obama's speech. I honestly thought that there were only ten or twelve of us out here, so this is a nice surprise. And if this chicken doesn't roast, well, there's my fallback plan---dinner out.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

One Downsmanship?

Is there such a thing?

When I fly, I always notice if and what the person sitting next to me is reading, and so I assume that others do the same. I'm just back from DC and West Virginia, and on the plane back I had a book (The Other Boleyn Girl) given to me by a friend. When she handed it to me, she said "It's kind of trashy," and it kind of is. I was in my favorite seat---the bulkhead window---and a well-dressed businessman sat down next to me. I assumed he was probably no dummy and thought: What kind of dummy will he think I am when he sees what I'm reading? So I sort of hid the book as I read it during the flight, but when my fellow traveller pulled out his book, I saw that it was one of the Anne Rice vampire stories. Ick.

I don't know why on earth I care what a total stranger thinks about my reading material, but I guess I do care; maybe it's because a million years ago I was an English major. The question is: Which one of us had the poorer taste in literature?

Unrelated Rambling:

I am not surprised when grocery store/elevator music includes the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, or Simon and/or Garfunkel. They have been around a long time and their music has sort of become mainstream. But the music playing over the sound system on my Delta flight yesterday while we were boarding and waiting to take off included "Back to Black" by Amy Winehouse. Is she already mainstream? Is background music on a plane in the same category as grocery store music? I think she is an amazing talent; I just hope she stays around for a long time so we can enjoy more of her.

The End

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Which of These Things Is Not Like the Others?

OK, so this doesn't work when there are only two things, but do you see a problem here??? Well, I do. But I didn't until I was one row away from starting the toe decreases on sock two.

Take a good look at the heels (oops, one sock is upside down):

Yup. For some reason, I switched back to the striping yarn before I turned the heel on sock #2. But I didn't notice until way, way too late, unless I wanted to frog the whole foot, which I didn't. These socks have been a series of mistakes from the very beginning of sock #1.
Mistake #1: I don't remember what it was, but I had to start over fairly soon after beginning.
Mistake #2: I picked up the OTN sock and enthusiastically started knitting. Many rows later I noticed something odd. There was a hole, and the brown striping zigged when it should have zagged. Ooops, a short row. I didn't realize I had knitted in the wrong direction. Ribbit, ribbit...
Mistake #3: The yarn is called Paca-Ped HT. The HT, of course, means "heel" and "toe." So I just used the solid brown yarn as reinforcing yarn for the heel flap. At the time, I did wonder why the reinforcement yarn was a solid color, and why it was as thick as the sock yarn. Well, I tell you, it made for one thick, sturdy heel. Duh. It was for contrasting heels and toes, just like the picture on the yarn label!!!!! Frogged it.

So on sock #2, I was destined to do something wrong. Today after I discovered my mistake, I took the pair, with #2 still OTN, to my LYS. My knitter friends there said that since the socks were not a gift, I should just leave them as is. They reminded me that The Yarn Harlot says that there are no knitting police. If there were, I think that they might take away my needles. However, in my defense, I started these months ago, just before I damaged my knee and needed surgery. Also, my thumb has been in a brace forEVER and that doesn't help any.

Some people say that the yarn tells you what to do, and I believe this yarn was telling me to just, for Dog's sake, finish and go on to something else. So I am...

Thursday, August 14, 2008


This is the state of the suburban neighborhood-at least the state of MY suburban neighborhood. Our list serve sent out a warning yesterday about a "predatory owl." This owl has so far taken out one dog and two cats. This must be a very large owl! A huge owl!! A very hungry owl!!! Who knew such a thing was possible?

The powers-that-be in the neighborhood are trying to find a professional "owl catcher" to humanely trap the owl and relocate him. Who knew such a "professional" existed? But then, who knew such an owl existed?

For whatever reason, the neighbors choose to believe that an owl, not the coyotes that inhabit this area, has killed off their pets. Friends who live about three miles away found their mangled cat, and knew that one of the two coyotes seen regularly in their neighborhood had gotten it. The evening following the discovery of their cat's remains, they saw one of the coyotes standing next to the mailbox at the end of their driveway. They assumed he was asking, "What's for afters?"

The wildlife was here before we were, and I kind of enjoy seeing different creatures outside; we've had raccoons and opossums on our deck. Deer are all around, although unfortunately, we more often see them dead along the roads.

I would love to be listening to the phone call asking for someone to come and remove the owl. "You want what???" But the thought that crosses my mind is that these same people who think that the owl is carrying off pets are the same people who get to vote. ..

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Beaded Knitting, continued

Remember the beading I whined about over a month ago? Well, I have finally gotten back to it, after knee surgery and dealing with a problem thumb. I threaded 1400 of the 1600 beads on the yarn (Aslan Trends, Natural Luxury Yarns, "Class"), and that process shredded the yarn a bit. I don't recommend it for beaded knitting. The beads are from Czechoslovakia (via this shop) and are very sparkly, but that sparkle doesn't show up well in the photo.

I met a friend for a "working" lunch on Saturday. She has made several of these scarves, and they are beautiful; there is an endless variety to make depending on the yarns and beads chosen. She was kind and offered to guide me through the getting-started stage. It turns out that I should only have put about half the beads, or even one-quarter of them, on the yarn. Every bead on there has to be pushed along as I knit, and once past the first eleven set-up rows, I only need five beads every other row---so I'm pushing way too many beads along, even though we cut off about half of the 1400. (Arggh--I'll have to re-string them when I start the second half of the scarf.) Once I got the hang of pushing the beads into place as I knit, the project became fun. I've also found out about a new bead store in the area, but I'm refraining from checking it out, going crazy over the beads and buying even MORE beads to thread onto yarn. If I still enjoy this process after finishing the first scarf, then I'll go there and fall in love with some new beads.

Friday, August 8, 2008


As I was going to add in my previous blog, but Blogger wouldn't let me, there is art, no matter how strange, everywhere. This huge spider is on the grounds outside of the Louvre. I have no idea why it's there, but I think it's neat and fun and all, especially when you change where the picture is taken from, and discover, voila! The Eiffel Tower in the background...

April in Paris

This spring I went to Paris with a college friend. It was her seventh visit and my third, so we skipped a lot of the more usual tourist attractions and enjoyed things that are more off the beaten path, except for Monet's garden, which neither of us had seen. We both love, love, love Paris, and my friend has a savings account which will allow her to live there for several months. She says she will move there and stay until the money runs out. Her husband isn't fond of this idea because he worries that she may not return. (Two cute grandchildren will bring her back...I think.) Within three weeks of our return, we both decided that we "needed" to go back. That's the lure of Paris for us and for many expats who now live there part or all of each year.

It was April, the weather was cool, and on two evenings, it snowed! It was magical. Snow at home? Not so magical, but it was really pretty to see Paris by night with the snow falling. We stayed on the Left Bank in a neighborhood called Rue Cler. We had windows overlooking Motte-Piquet and it was so amazing to open the windows and look out to see this in the distance:

Paris is a wonderful city for children. There are small parks tucked in all over the city, and in the summer, lots of carousels. We came across a hand-operated carousel, and learned the derivation of the term "catching the brass ring." The children had sticks and as they circled past a post with brass rings hanging from it, they used the sticks to try and catch one. It was more difficult than it sounds, and I don't know if the children who were successful won a prize or not, but they were having a great time. The man in the center of the carousel is cranking the wheel to make the whole thing turn.

What is also fun about Paris is all of the art. Yes, there are more museums than you can imagine, but also, there is art in the streets, in the parks---everywhere!

THIS is an entrance to a Metro station:

A friend of mine and her husband recently returned from their first visit to Paris, and they did agree that it is a beautiful city, but they didn't (in their own words) "get" Paris. They saw sidewalk cafes everywhere, full of people drinking wine or coffee no matter the time of day. They wondered if the French work. Of course they do; they didn't see the same people at each cafe all day every day. But the French take time to sit and relax, and so do the tourists. It's a treat to just sit, drink rich, strong coffee or great wine, and watch the world go by. And because everyone from everywhere goes to Paris, you really do see the world go by.

So, if anyone is looking for a travel companion, my passport is ready...and so am I!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Smoke and Mirrors

I spent way too long today, in the million-degree heat, walking across more acres of asphalt parking lots, in order to pick up my new glasses. "HAH!" said DOG.

First of all, last week I ordered the new lenses for my glasses at a place I shall call by its initials: PV. When I was in the exam room with the doctor who owns a bunch of PVs in the Atlanta area, I mentioned how horrid my current glasses had been; I was on the third pair because the little magnet that holds the clip-on sunglasses on kept falling out. I finally found a glue at Lowes that worked, but then the sunglasses went all wonky and wouldn't stay on the glasses. They have been a pain in the a** for a whole year. I wasn't being unpleasant and I didn't even think to ask for any sort of refund, but he agreed that he didn't like the glasses either, told me he would give me free frames to make up for the inconvenience and didn't charge for the exam. Sweet!

However, I wanted to keep the old frames, because I like the look of them, but wanted separate sunglasses. No problem! The sunglass frames would be free. Again, sweet!

If you've ever been to PV, you know that the pricing is based on magic, smoke and mirrors, and the click of the mouse. You never see the screen; you just listen to the clicks as the salesperson mumbles all sorts of things that you can never quite hear. As I looked at the receipt, I realized two things: I have no idea if I REALLY got free frames for the sunglasses and I have no idea if I've paid anywhere near a decent price for what I've bought. Six-hundred dollars for one complete pair and the lenses for another pair? I have no idea.

When I went in today, there was, as always, a line. So I waited and waited and waited... There is no one whose job it is to ask, "May I help you?" Everyone is at tables helping people pick out glasses, so until one of them is free, we wait. And wait. An indecisive teenage-age girl was picking out frames. Her equally indecisive younger sister was trying to help. Finally, the salesperson voiced her opinion and the teenager took her advice. Phew... Last week when I picked out my sunglasses, I asked the salesperson, hoping that she did not have an ugly or perverse sense of humor, to just tell me what to buy. She did and I did and that was that.

Well, when I finally made it to the head of the line, I got my sunglasses and they were fine. But I had to leave my regular glasses for two hours to have the lenses changed out. No problem. I went to my nearby LYS and knitted with friends who were there---a nice break.

But two hours later, back at PV, there was a problem: blurry spots right in my line of vision. So next week, I get to go back and stand in line again to get my correctly-made lenses (I hope).

Really, this is it. PV is always very good about repairing glasses and fixing problems. But it would be great if there weren't always problems, and it would be even greater if I knew if I was getting a good deal.

Monday, August 4, 2008

In My Not-So-Humble Opinion

I was just at the local mall, and it must be about a million degrees outside. And acres of asphalt don't make it any cooler.

So, I think that all parking lots should be made of something that allows water to seep into the ground. I think that this would allow rain to seep through, and the parking lot wouldn't be so hot.

A. I have no idea if this is true or not, but in any case, letting water into the ground can't be a bad thing.

B. It doesn't rain here, or at least not at any here where I am, so I may never find out if it's true.

On the other hand, I did find a lamp I like to replace one I didn't like, so all is not lost.