Sunday, July 29, 2012

Here we go again

Ages and ages ago, back before the days of Ravelry (a knitting website/social network-I know, sounds weird, but just accept that there's probably a social network for anything, and go with it), I had a knitting blog. Just like lots of other people did; I could share what I was working on, where I got my ideas, show off what I'd accomplished. And then most of us moved over to Ravelry for the forums and databases, or life got busy, or we just got lazy, and the knit blog thing really fizzled out. There are still some left and going strong, but as you can see, I hadn't posted anything here for three years or so. I've decided to bring it back and make it less of a knit blog and more of well, just a blog. Only time will tell if I post more than a few times in three years or not.

So what's going on the the Melissa neck of the woods? Well, I'll tell you.

About two weeks ago, I got suckered into fostering a dog for the Crittenden County Animal Shelter, and brought home a border collie/lab mix named Skye, although I've been calling her Katie because it seems to fit her better. She's a half-grown puppy, but I honestly have no idea how old she is; six months, maybe? She's lively but still pretty laid back and really cute and friendly and she's going to make someone a great dog. (If you know anyone looking for a dog, call me!)

I grew up with a dog and have had one of my own for the past three years, but hoo-boy, she's still a puppy and I didn't know what I was getting in to. Puppies pretty much do whatever strikes their fancy. It means they do really cute things like chase their tails or snuggle up for pats. But, puppies chew. Puppies don't come housebroken. Puppies dig. Yeah, that's pretty much the gist of it. She's chewed a pair of glasses and an electric razor that was still plugged into the wall, and my good headphones and yarn and a pair of handknit socks and those are just the first things that come to mind. And I think I might have cleaned up some puddle every day for the past two weeks.

I put her outside this morning with a bowl of food so that she could eat and then do her business while I took a shower and got ready for church, without having to worry about any accidents. This is what I found when I finished and went to bring her in. Doesn't she just look so pleased with herself?

Yes, that's a duck in the dirt. It's a stuffie I bought for Zen a few years ago. He'd broken the squeak almost immediately, and Katie's now eviscerated the thing and it's become a duck...pelt. Whatever. Zen does that to his toys, too. If I remember right, my parent's dog Meeko did that with several stuffies or a pair of bunny slippers or something, too.

In other news, I've learned a lot about the plumbing in my house lately. A few weeks ago, I noticed a drip from the bathtub faucet, and set about learning how to fix it. I think it's a pretty simple matter of replacing some parts in the handle, so a $5 or $35 fix, depending on how much I have to replace. That led me to finding out that what I thought were the hot and cold shutoffs for the house, well, aren't. The hot water valve worked, to some extent. It shut off water to the kitchen and the bathroom, but not the laundry room, which, along with the hot water heater, are located in a part of the house that was added on sometime after the house was built in 1929. The other valve, which I expected to shut off the cold water, didn't do anything, leaving me without a way to shut off the water to my house if there were an emergency, because I couldn't find any kind of control outside, either.

I put out a call on Facebook and asked around at work for recommendations for a plumber, and got a few names. The first guy came out last week, and to be honest, I was less than impressed. I've never done anything with plumbing and don't really know much about it, but I felt like he wasn't listening to me. Maybe because he was dismissing my ignorance, but I want to be a responsible homeowner, and if I'm going to be paying someone to do work for me, I want them to help me have at least a basic understanding of what they're going to be doing. And I had my doubts that he knew what he was talking about. I told him what I'd bought to fix the leak in the faucet myself and I would have expected a plumber to say, "oh, yeah, that's an easy fix; I do it all the time," but he didn't seem to know what I was talking about. And then when we looked under the sink at the valves, the things he was telling me about how the water was set up just didn't make sense. The work he recommended doing involved replacing the valves in the kitchen and adding shutoffs above the hot water heater, and along with fixing the bathtub, would have come to about $450.

I didn't feel good about it, so over the next few days, I kept researching, checking out plumbing books from work and checking with the city and state government agencies here in town that govern construction to see if maybe they had plans for the house. No dice, but I learned that the guy I'd been working with wasn't even a licensed plumber at all! That sealed it. I called him and canceled the job, and had someone else that a coworker recommended out on Friday.

It was a totally different experience. The second guy came across as very competent and familiar with houses and setups similar to mine. I understand a lot better how things work in my house. I learned that the valve that I thought didn't do anything actually works--it shuts off the water going back to the addition, which is actually a sensible thing, given the layout of the house. There isn't a homeowner shutoff; they weren't standard procedure in the 1920's and 30's, but he showed me where the city shutoff is and how it works. He recommended digging up the pipe leading from the main to my house and adding a shutoff on my side of the meter. It's still going to cost about the same to fix, but it's only changing one valve, instead of four. Actually, I think I dodged a bullet, as the fixes the first guy was proposing wouldn't have done anything to solve the problem at all, because he was starting from a totally wrong assumption about where the water came in. It would have been $450 to that guy and $450 to someone else to correct it.

So blah blah blah, this is long enough. Work continues to be fun and life is good and it's hot and we need more rain. The Olympics are going on in London, but I haven't watched any of it. PBS doesn't carry it and that's the only channel I can get on my TV. The one thing I kind of wanted to see was the opening ceremonies, but the internet was out that day, so I couldn't watch it online, either.

I am participating in the Ravellenic Games, though. It's kind of a knitting tribute to the Olympics--pick a project that challenges you and try to get it all done--start to finish--between the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic games. It's been going on for several years and it used to be called the Ravelympics, until the USOC sent a cease-and-desist letter to the people who own Ravelry. It was kind of a fiasco because they have the right to the tradmark of the name Olympics or anything like unto it, it seems, but the letter was rather rude, condescending, and insulting to knitters. (Don't make knitters mad--they're armed with lots of sharp, pointy objects). Whatever. The name was changed and people moved on.

I'm working on a throw made out of leftover yarn, mostly from all the socks I've made over the years. Pretty, huh? No, I haven't done all that since Friday. My "event" is to make 48 of those squares.

And that's it for now.