Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Summer Jobs

A few weeks ago I was listening to NPR and heard a portion of a show on jobs that people had had in their youth. The interview I heard was with a man whose one-time job had been at a race track where he had to collect horse urine - directly from the horse - to test for drugs. While that sounds horrid, sort of, at least he got to work with horses. I like horses; I wouldn't have minded being around them for a summer, depending, of course, on HOW I had to collect the urine.

When I was in college I had summer jobs, bad summer jobs, the kind of jobs that keep you in college when you decide after your sophomore year that you want to "take some time off to travel in Europe." One summer, for no particular reason that I ever heard, my mother decided that good jobs could not be found through classified ads in the paper; they could only come from friends of friends of friends and that's how I got two really bad jobs.

The first I found through my college roommate. She had heard about a job interviewing homeowners about their childrens' schools. How difficult could that be? It sounded fun, really, meeting new people, sitting in their living rooms, drinking offered iced tea and chatting. We interviewed and were hired.

However, what we discovered at our training was that our job was really selling encyclopedias. (Does anyone still publish these?) So off we went, in teams of two, dropped off at neighborhood entrances. Our canned pitch gave the impression that we were from the school board, taking a poll of homeowners about the education their children were receiving. Getting in homes was pretty easy; getting out was REAL easy, once the homeowners realized what we were up to.

The first and only night out, we got through our assigned neighborhood VERY quickly (imagine that), and our boss left us for a really long time sitting at the drop-off point. Finally, he picked us up. There were three of us college kids in the back seat and one in the front. The boss and the woman we thought to be his wife were also in the front seat. The boss drove astonishingly recklessly and at one point, his wife said something to him that set him off and he smacked her really hard across her face. We all looked at each other in alarm and each of us quit that night, by phone, once we were safely home. The boss was angry with us and threatened to charge us for our training. That never happened, but whatever he would have charged would have been worth not getting in the car with him again. I hope that woman quit whatever her role in his life was too.

The second job that summer came from word-of-mouth, again from my roommate. We were hired to make Avon perfumed candles at a candle factory that had received an order that they could not complete without temporary help. We worked in a huge un-air-conditioned, tin-roofed warehouse space. It was hot, really, really hot, in order to keep the candles from hardening too quickly to allow the workers to fix any imperfections in them.

The individual candle containers arrived on racks on benches in front of us and we had to then put in the wicks, pour in the wax, and pull on the wicks to make sure they were in the center of the candle. The scents of the wax changed throughout the summer. Ugh. A thirty-something man was our supervisor and he was tough. The candles had better be perfect or he would threaten us with firing. At the same time, we had a quota to make and if we didn't, he would threaten us with firing. After a few weeks there we would have welcomed firing I think. I sure knew that quitting college was not an option. Who would do this job for life?

There were plenty of people there who did. I felt sorry for them. We were snotty college kids, probably making snarky remarks about the job. We made LOTS of snarky comments about the supervisor. But no doubt we were working with permanent employees who were there so that their snotty kids could go to college. The only skilled job that I ever saw there was making the hand-dipped tall candles. That required talent. Other than that, it was hot, mind-numbing, boring work.

And smelly for those of us making the perfumed candles. I wore the same shoes each day so that I would only have to throw away the one pair at the end of the summer. Repeated washing did not get the scent out of my clothes and those I threw out too. I said for years that I could recognize any Avon perfume from one-hundred paces. I don't know if that's still true, or if Avon even still sells the candles.

But lots of other companies do sell scented candles, and I feel sorry for the people who make them - I suppose they're all in China, and any job is better than no job, but still.....

The summers after that one I worked in offices, still doing boring work (that I found through classified ads), but I was really grateful not to be in a factory.

Horse urine or scented candles?

Honestly? It's a toss-up.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I turned the news on at about 10:15 p.m. and

it wasn't about Michael Jackson!

But then it was.

Enough already. OK?

Friday, June 26, 2009

We were young, we had no money, we possessed the world through sheer enthusiasm.

Isn't that a lovely sentence?

It's in an essay by Garrison Keillor and I wish I had written that sentence. Just sayin'.

Well, I'm back to Georgia, where it is almost as hot as it was in Austin. Yikes!!!

I had a great time in Austin. It was such a treat to see grandchildren (and their parents, of course) EVERY day for two weeks. Little Elizabeth even changed during the two weeks; her body is telling her she must stand up even if her mind doesn't know what the heck she is doing. She gets quite frustrated by her body these days.

I had many knitting-related experiences. I went to three yarn shops and bought things I absolutely must have at each. And I met a blogger. On three separate trips to Austin I have met a blogger: the first was Barb Cooper, who is a wonderful writer and who has even published a book, The Mermaid's Purse, a collection of essays; the second was Wendy Aarons, who writes a really funny blog, but who is sort of shy and understated in person; and on this trip, Suna, who writes about her amazing and prolific knitting. We met her at the shop where she teaches, and she was kind enough to take time to chat with us and to show us around the shop. She is very talented, and I am especially envious of her lace knitting.

The only problem with the trip was my flight back. Why knit? Why knot? That's what I say, and I was very happy to have knitting with me on the flight. We all boarded a full flight, and once the doors closed and we were all trapped in the plane, the pilot announced that there was a thirty-minute ground stop in Atlanta. So I cast on a sock and happily started knitting. Time flew. Then the pilot announced that there was another thirty-minute ground stop in Atlanta. So I kept knitting, just muttering a few not-so-nice thoughts quietly so my seat-mates could not hear me. Then there was a bit more of a ground stop. Grrr......

Once we got going, the flight was short - until we were put in a holding pattern over LaGrange, Georgia. More quietly-muttered not-so-nice thoughts.

And then we landed. Everyone bolted for the exit. As did I. And on the way home, I remembered that I had put the extra dp needles, my favorite dp needles, my Knit Picks Harmony dp needles, in the seatback pocket. And I had left them there. RATS!

So I'm off to the Knit Picks site to order replacements, and a few other things I just must have.....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Austin, Texas

Day.... uh....??????

It's 6:15 in the evening and it's 105 degrees outside.

I don't know what $%^&*(&*#$ day it is.

It's one hundred and five friggin degrees!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Woo Hoo!

A couple of weeks ago, my granddaughter Elizabeth met Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot and was photographed with her. Today, older daughter, Elizabeth and I went to The Knitting Nest in Austin, Texas, to meet Franklin Habit, photographer, knitter, designer and author of It Itches, a collection of his knitting-related cartoons and essays. He is a big fan of babies and was happy to hold Elizabeth for her second famous knitters/writers photograph. He was at the shop to teach a class, and then, since it is Worldwide Knit in Public Day, he stayed on to knit with all the people who came in to spend some time knitting.

And shopping! I scored two skeins of his new yarn color, called Franklin's Panopticon, which is also the name of his blog. The yarn is made by Lorna's Laces and comes in several weights. It is blue, green, khaki and all sorts of shades of each. Mine is sport weight, but I think it will turn into socks....

Anyway, it was fun to knit at such a friendly shop and to meet Franklin, who was very gracious, and whom Elizabeth just loved!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Austin, Texas

Day Four

I have been unfairly accused of there not being any discipline when I watch the grandchildren.

This is not true.

When they are doing something I consider to be a questionable activity, I ask them, "Would your mother say it is OK for you to do this?"

They say "Yes."


(And if Lily cries, I let her do or have whatever she wants.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Austin, Texas

Day Three

Babysitting for older daughter:

Chaos reigns because I apparently cannot rein (hah, hah, hah) in the activities of four children at once (ages: 8, 6, 2 1/2, 8 months). They are well-behaved children, but there are four of them and that means constant NOISE.

Fighting noise, playing noise, crying noise, screaming noise, laughing noise, assorted noise.

But they sure are cute and it sure is fun....

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Austin, Texas

Day One

Cost to have locksmith pick the lock on older daughter's neighbor's house where I am staying/housesitting so that I can get back in: $52.00.

Cost to spend two hours in my jammies, teeth unbrushed, at older daughter's house while we wait for the locksmith - and explaining WHY we are allowed to go in the absent neighbor's house to begin with - to arrive and successfully pick the lock on the neighbor's house: priceless.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Just in Time for Texas

First of all, I finished the second sock of my sparkly Berroco Sox Metallic yarn, but the sparklies don't show in the picture. I know they are there! And so will all my friends and family (not you, younger daughter) when I wear them.

These are not blocked. I don't block socks; I figure that's what feet are for.

And second, I finished my second attempt at the Bitty Bolero sweater. THIS one will fit Elizabeth, I am sure. But she doesn't get it till her first birthday, in October, and even if I gave it to her now, it is way too hot in Texas to wear a wool sweater, even one as soft as this one. It's made from 100% merino wool, and I am starting to think that out of all the wonderful fibers that are made into yarn (wool, angora, bamboo, milk -yes-milk, cotton, soy, alpaca, mohair, silk and ???? I'm sure I've forgotten some), I love working with merino the best. It is just SO, SO soft! This is Malabrigo, colorway Cuarento 237. And have I learned my lesson about the importance of making gauge swatches?
Probably not...

I've also bought yarn for a new project to work on while I'm in Texas, because, you know, there are just NO yarn shops there!

Oh, and I do have a new camera. Phew. Without pictures, how can I blog???