Friday, June 26, 2009

The Art of Applying Yourself

Top 5 things not to do in your cover letter when applying for a job:

5. Mention the hospital bills you have to pay after your recent sexual reassignment surgery.

4. Start every sentence with "I."

3. Talk about how you really don't need a job that bad, but you're applying anyway, as if it was a legitimate reverse psychology tactic.

2. Misspell something or confuse "your" and "you're" while purporting to be an editor.

1. Forget to include the attached resume, only to send a second e-mail saying "Oops! I forgot to attach my resume!" That's foreshadowing a crappy employee.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Quality Time

I don't see much of my family in the Houston area. That's what they'd have you believe, at least.

I am probably going to make more trips out there to see them, mostly because I discovered that my neice, Little T, is growing like a weed and I'm missing it. She's so fun to be around now. She'll be walking at any moment. She's babbling constantly and she's such a happy little girl.

So, I got to spend some quality time with her and the folks that care for her on a regular basis. I even got some time with my camera in, and some time with my fishing rod.

Here are some photos just to document. Notice the lack of baby in the pictures. When I was with my neice I actually spent time with her instead of spending time in the same room but behind my camera.



Limbs from an evergreen next to the lake dip their fingers into the water to cool off on a blistering day.


A view to one of the small islands in the lake at my parent's house. The bank is mostly delineated by a narrow stand of grass, then a greenbelt and then the steep trunks of the endless pines surround.


This stump spoke to me. It was so humble, a host of a small poison ivy vine that chose to circle about the bottom. It seemed old enough to posture as a miniature face of a canyon or something equally ancient.


The Houston area is surrounded by bayous, rivers and lakes, and around those lakes you'll find cattails, which are so fascinating.


There are signs constantly reminding you that where you live is surrounded by a delicate ecosystem. A concrete plant moved in next door to my parents' neighborhood. Its runoff has decimated an old stand of saw palmettos that kept the bogs clean and saturated. Without the palmetto, algae and duckweed have taken over. Without cover, beavers come in and take down trees and ruin the once-primordial landscape.


It just doesn't look right without the underbrush...


My dad. He doesn't look like a guy that's been torn apart and put back together more than Humpty Dumpty. He's the reason people say "Live fast and die young." Only he lived fast and long enough to see that the end of your thirties isn't the end of the road.


If my brother would have asked what I wanted in another sister I would have told him to marry a girl like Megan. Thank goodness he did. Even though he would have never asked in the first place.

To top it off, almost no knitting got done during the vacation, and I totally spaced on getting pictures of my sister Kara in the hat I made for her. She did make me some totally boss jewelry, and I'll put some pictures up of it when I can.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Too bad you can't knit while driving

Dave and I are no strangers to time in the car. We did drive (stupidly, might I add) to Key West and back. I am usually lucky to be in the passenger seat. While this means that I relinquish control of the radio for a fair amount of the trip, it also means that I may knit while we traverse the more boring parts of the journey.

I'm making my way down to Houston later today. It's a TREMENDOUSLY BORING DRIVE. Really boring. So boring that I would prefer to hire out the driving so that I can instead knit while we make our way to the swampy air of the Bayou City.

Regardless, you shouldn't feel left out in the cold just because I'm gone for a while. You see that little box to your right? The one that says "Road Bumps"? That's my twitter feed. Feel free to follow it and get your fix of Miss Dallas while I'm away from my desk.

Also, go leave some love for berg with fries and switching over to AM. It must be hard to be sans wife for the weekend.

Back soon!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Getting a little dangerous

So, after talking to a neighbor as I was on my way home from yoga last night, I realized that on July 7 it will be three months that I have been without a steady job. The few freelance gigs I had on the outset really helped keep my chin up. They also helped me keep a nice schedule. They got me out of the house. They gave me a real sense that I could transition. But, they're gone now.

And I am left without work. Without a job. Without a reason to get up in the morning other than laundry and dishes, which is not a reason to get up in the morning but a reason to avoid getting up in the morning.

As a condition of collecting unemployment, you have to look for work. I totally get that. I am more than willing to do at least 5 work searches every week. Hell, at this point I've applied to almost 30 jobs and done about 90 searches. I'm good at looking for a job. I think the job, though, is piss-poor about finding me.

After applying to more than my fair share of job openings, I have yet to get a call. No phone interviews. No in-person interviews. Nothing.

So, my confidence is getting a little shaky. I'm getting a little tired of the passive rejection. And I'm thinking of changing careers.

This is probably a big shocker to anyone that knows me. They know me as a writer. They know that ever since I learned to write that I found it irresistible. I love words. I love reading them and I love editing, and I am pretty sure that I will find it very hard to pick up another profession because I love this one so much.

Trouble is, the newspaper industry has left a lot of casualties in its wake, and there are more than too many unemployed editors and writers that have gobs more experience than me vying for the same positions. My meager resume doesn't stand a chance against a veteran assignment editor.

So, here's the mental list I've been mulling.

Top 5 careers I might consider retraining for:

5) Welder and fabricator. If you've seen flashdance, you know that a chick welding is hot.

4) Portrait photographer. I did this semi-professionally in college. I hated it. It's an option, though.

3) Go back to school for a master's degree. I'd likely try for something in natural resources, something related to public policy.

2) Write a book. (Pshaw...)

1) Open my own creperie.

Suggestions? Anything I should consider that I left out?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Make sure you're not wearing mascara

This is so beautiful it will make you cry.

Are you ready?

OK. Go.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Beers with people with babies

So, a lot of the couples that Dave and I hang out with are either pregnant or have kids. When one of our friends' spawn have a birthday you just go, regardless of whether or not you have your own spawn to tote to the party.

Last weekend we went to Dave's close friend's daughter's third birthday party. It was at his his friend's father's place out in Garland. There was a pool. There was beer. I brought my camera. I regret not getting a picture of a half naked Barbie standing in a cake. I didn't even know that they still made those Barbie cakes. I always considered them embarassing for Barbie. You are basically undressing her and eating her clothes. Classy.

Some of my favorites:


Here we have the birthday girl, Leah. I am told she is a ham in front of a camera. It is true. She is coy and cute right on cue!


For some reason, I totally get a "movie star" vibe from Leah here. Her grandfather, Harold, is trying to ask her a question, and she has this sort of upturned nose toward him, sunglasses obscuring her face, as if to wonder how he dared address her in public. What a diva.


Click to go to the full sized one, and you can see the blue icing from the Barbie cake still staining her mouth. So cute!


Leah and her mom, Shelley. Shelley is the wonderful gal that introduced me to my dear husband, Dave.


What a catch, right?


Here's Leah with her dad, Mike. Mike's nickname is "Chicken." Dave and Mike were good friends growing up. Dave is still growing up (See previous picture).



Here's Janice. She is the wrangler of three very high-energy yet unbelievably cute girls.


And here's Leah, about to go down the inflatable slide. I love that little "OMG!" face in the background!


"Whoa! This is really high! You better be at the bottom to catch me!"


"Maybe it's just too high. I'm going to scoot down a little and then I'll slide. OK?"


"Look, Dad. It's just scary. Do I have to let go of the slide?"



Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sometimes I shock myself with productivity

In preparation for a baby shower this Saturday (which is, ironically enough, at a Tex Mex joint in Deep Ellum that is owned by a transgendered male) I was on a knitting marathon for about a week. I needed to crank out a baby set and block them.

Ladies and gents, I'm sure you'll agree with me, that this was a resounding success:


Booties: Baby Monkey Socks by Sheri Berger of The Loopy Ewe Hat: Vine Lace Baby Hat by Sandi Wiseheart from Knitting Daily. Both are knit in Red Heart's Heart and Sole fingering weight in the colorway "Ivory."


White is very gender neutral, so these could end up as heirloom items. Stuff to take those first pictures in.


The lace cap started out looking a lot like a blob. Blocking it really helped to show off the lace pattern, which now looks like climbing vines, whereas, before it looked like a blob.


Freaking precious, no?

I also soaked some of my first handspun yesterday. Soaking the skeins really helps relax and set the twist. I didn't believe it until I actually did it. It totally works.


My yarn is a lot more consistent now, I promise. And it isn't the precise shade of doo-doo either.

More stuff to come later today!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Good eggs, bad eggs and potato salad

Let's start off with the good. There' plenty of time to bitch about stuff later.

Good eggs:

-OK, you know I'm excited about this, but Stephanie Pearl-McPhee posted about her trip to Dallas, and there I am, with the weird face and two tweed socks (look familiar?) down in the middle. I think her post pretty much captures the awesomeness of the event, and it was crazy awesome. Thanks for coming down to Texas, Steph. Hope to see you again soon!

-Had a great time last weekend with my dear cousin, Mark, and his wife, Erin. These folks know how to have a good time, which is mostly evidenced by the extensively stocked bar they keep. We had an awesome time grillin' and chillin' at there house Sunday and Saturday, and we celebrated a fantastic visit from my sister Kara and her live-in, Vic.


That's Dave in the foreground and Vic in the back. We were doing a good job of sipping mojitos and keeping cool either by the pool or in it. Also, I did a canonball. It was awesome.


Kara doesn't like this picture of herself, but I do.


Here's Mark, my cousin, trying to wear a pink innertube. Someone tell Mark that you're supposed to use that thing to float.


Here, Vic thinks that the float is better used as a shroud, which will help him launch silent splash attacks on unwitting swimmers.


Oh, and did I mention that I got to meet Clover, Kara's new little chihuahua/poodle mix? What do you call that, a Poochi? Choodle? Chipoo?


-Kara brought me some fiber to spin. 100% Peruvian Alpaca, dyed with vegetable dyes by natives in the Andes. So awesome. Don't know what an alpaca is? Take a few moments to look at some video.

You want one now, too, don't you?

It's in just about every color of the rainbow. Really gorgeous stuff and the best fiber I've spun yet (OK, it's only the second type of fiber I've spun, but if it gets better from here, I'm totally cool with that.)


100% Alpaca on my drop spindle.

-I've also been knitting a lace baby set for a shower next weekend. Now I know what I'm going to do with all that left over sock yarn! BABY SOCKS!!!!


Vine Lace baby hat by Sandi Wiseheart from Knitting Daily in Red Heart Heart and Sole, Ivory colorway.

-Also knitting a surprise for my little niece, Teagan. Her birthday party is next month and I'm so ridiculously excited about making her some cute stuff.

-Also knitting socks. Only I'm trying to muster the mental will to start the second Noro Stripey Sock.

-Also, the orchids are blooming and looking quite fabulous. I may not be able to get my garden right, but hey, I can take care of orchids!


Bad Eggs:

- I don't know what's wrong with it, but I hurt my right foot pretty bad last Friday. Let's just say that a shovel was involved and it didn't end well for my foot. In any case, I've been hoping that it's just strained and that it'll mend, but it's a week later and it still gets sore from walking on it.

- Been having trouble sleeping lately. I'll lay awake for an hour or two in the middle of the night, and Dave, being the sweet guy that he is, won't make much effort to get me up in the morning before he leaves. This makes me feel unproductive and lazy, but I'm still trying to figure out what I can change to make sleeping a little easier. We might need a new mattress, which would be prohibitively expensive right now.

- On the injury to self theme, I ran my elbow into the wine rack last night while playing with Hornsby. I then proceeded to blame the dog for my own klutziness. He gave me kisses and I'm trying to get over it, but it still smarts. Apparently, being unemployed makes you uncoordinated.

-I got a really cute haircut from my sister, Kara, but it requires styling, which is a time investment I'm reluctant to make.

A Very Jemison Potato Salad:


6 russet potatoes, peeled, boiled, cooled and cut into 1" pieces
8 hard boiled eggs (preferably from backyard hens), peeled and chopped
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped

2 Tbs. dijon mustard
1/2 c. light mayonnaise
juice of one lemon
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. celery seeds
pepper to taste

Combine the salad ingredients in a very large bowl (I'm talking humongous. The biggest you have.) and set aside. Whisk together the mustard and mayonnaise in one bowl and the lemon juice and olive oil in another. Gradually add the olive oil mixture into the mustard/mayo mixture in parts, whisking continuously. You want to emulsify the mixture, combining the ingredients completely. Whisk in salt and celery seeds and then add to the salad ingredients. Stir to coat the salad completely. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour in the fridge before serving. Enjoy!