Monday, July 25, 2011

Apartment Update

Things have settled down a lot here in the jungle. The major things have been taken care of. I totally pulled on my Big Girl Pants (tm) and called Landlord Man to tell him that the carpet still smelled and I was waking up with headaches. Apparently the smell-hating force is strong in me because two days later we had brand new, non-stanky carpet in the bedroom. It is SOOOOOO much better now.

The new carpet doesn't quite match the old carpet but I could care less. I'm so happy to have new carpet that I don't really care. Just add it to the list of quirks in this place. Carpet Man noticed that there is a seam running down the middle of our living room. He offered to bring a strip of the new carpet in to replace it. Thus ensued a comical back-and-forth between us wherein I kept insisting that the strip wouldn't match the old carpet, and he would say things like, "Yes. Is the same." while pointing to the new, mis-matched carpet he had just installed. I finally told him to check with Landlord Man and waved him out the door.

(The following photo was manipulated with Photoshop. I did not actually let him "fix" the seam in the living room carpet.)

Other delightful "quirks" about our new place:

The backsplash in the bathroom isn't actually attached to the wall. I found this out the first time I cleaned the bathroom. Apparently propping pieces of granite against a wall is good enough.

The deadbolt on the back door does not quite match up to its hole in the door frame. This means that the door isn't locked at all, even if you think it is.

Everywhere you look there are screws holding things together. That's all well and good, but these screws were only sunk halfway in. Putting in a window? Who has time to sink the screws? Halfway is good enough! Hanging a curtain rod? Leave the screws sticking out! It's easier to remove them later! Installing sliding closet doors? You didn't want to open those, did you?

We also seem to live next door to a compound for shrieking children, overseen by an old Mexican woman who loves her polka.

And then there is the monster in the canyon. Every so often, and usually at night, our house is visited by a snarling, growling creature thrashing around in the underbrush. It's all very Lost.

Other things are bustling along here as well. I have completed my top-secret project and have been back to working on things I can actually talk about. I have a backlog of FOs that need to be photographed, so I may have a marathon FO post coming soon.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Whee! Fun Knitterly Things!

Dudes, you know how when people win something they always say things like, "I never win anything!", which is probably true for most people and it generally is true for me, too. But I guess I can't claim to be unlucky in this regard anymore because after winning the skein of Smooshy from Kristen I also won...

...a class at Vogue Knitting Live in September! There was a blog tour thing with a different designer giving away a class each day. I was the lucky recipient of a class from Carol Sulcoski's blog. Carol, as you may know, is the author of the very helpful book Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn, a book which helped many a sock knitter figure out just what the heck to do with their beautiful skeins of sock yarn that looked great wound up but fell down flat when knitted.

I had been debating about whether or not to go to VKL. We Unemployeds really don't have money to drop on classes. And if I splurged on a class I would have to give up my right to cry "Unemployed!" as an excuse not to do other things, like buy that stupid mouth guard so I stop grinding my teeth at night. (I am wise beyond my years, truly.) But now I get to take a class (my first knitting class!) and stick around for the marketplace so I'll be sure to let you know what I find. I decided to take a Friday afternoon design class with Josh Bennett. I have always liked his designs, and I have never done any designing myself so I'm sure I'll learn a lot.

The other fun news I have is the new book that finally arrived in the mail: Knit, Swirl by Sandra McIver. The patterns looked interesting and I almost bought the book at the LYS in St. Paul when I was back visiting the fam a few weeks ago, but the hefty price tag held me off. Fortunately, I checked in on Knit Picks' summer book sale where it is being offered at 40% off so I snagged a copy. And let me tell you: I LOVE IT. I can totally see myself making several patterns from this book. The information that she provides about this unique construction method is so fascinating and I can't wait to start knitting one of the sweaters just so I can try it on. It is a beautiful book, with great photography, clear instructions, and a wonderful presentation. She even gives helpful hints on techniques both in the book and on her website. Highly recommended.

I'll be back shortly with a post about real-life stuff but I wanted to get this one out there.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Help a Knitter Out, Will Ya?

Now that things are starting to settle down here in the jungle, I have been able to get back to other things, like knitting! Yay! I'm working on a mystery project right now so I don't have a whole lot to blog about, but I did get a special piece of mail on moving day to share with you:

This is a skein of Dream in Color Smooshy in the colorway Wisterious, and I love it! The fabulous Kristen from the Learner's Per-Knit blog sent it my way after I won a blogiversary drawing on her blog. You may remember that her blog post is partly responsible for me getting back to it myself. This skein of yarn dropped through the mail slot on my moving day and it was quickly stuck into a box, sealed up, and remained there until I was unpacking my office the other day. It was a nice surprise because I had forgotten all about it in the midst of all the other drama at the time.

If you don't read Kristen's blog, you really should. She creates wonderful knits and I always like keeping up with what's going on in her life.

So here's where the help comes in. Kristen put up a blog post today in which she talks about her mother's bout with cancer and upcoming laryngectomy. Kristen could really use some of the fabled knitterly generosity and is asking for help knitting/crocheting/sewing some stoma covers for her mother to use following surgery. She includes a link to a website with several patterns for how to make these items, and they look quite quick and easy.

If that's not enough to get your needles clacking, Kristen is also offering a drawing for a beautiful skein of Wollmeise and the sock pattern of your choice. Because Kristen is a bloggy friend of mine, I'm going to send her another little something to raffle off to participants, too. So go! Check out her blog, whip up some quick little projects (great stashbuster!) and get your name in the drawing for some great yarny prizes!!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Further Adventures in Moving

Sorry to leave you all hanging there. The suspense is killing you, I'm sure. Did we manage to take down all our furniture and box up all our possessions in time for the carpet cleaner to come on Saturday morning?!?

Yes, we did. And it sucked. Here is a picture of our dining area with everything piled into it.

I was away at work on Saturday but The Brain had to spend his entire day either crouched on that chair or out on the deck in the sun. He had his iPad and laptop loaded with video games, and he totally had access to food if he shimmied past the mattress and into the kitchen so don't feel too bad for him. It took the carpet roughly 48 hours to dry so on Monday, exactly a week after moving in, we got to celebrate our independence by hauling boxes (AGAIN) and getting our furniture set up.

That musty smell hasn't gone away though, so now I am convinced that the carpet is rotting out from under our feet. I am still recovering from the spider infestation so there is no way in hell I'm peeling back a corner to take a look. I simply don't think I can take the knowledge of whatever is happening under there. I'm trying to be all zen about it. Maybe I can take on a new identity as a quirky knitting lady who smells like rotting carpet. It could be my thing. And then people will get to know me and discover that people who smell like rotting carpets really aren't that bad. It could be an After School Special. Do they still make those things?

So let's recap, shall we? In the last few days we have had our carpet professionally cleaned (The Brain tells me it was one of those super-powered giant tanks on a truck with a long hose), we got our power back and our hot water turned on. Things are looking pretty good, no? Except that I have filled one and a half pages on a legal pad with things that are broken or installed incorrectly or just plain annoying. As Nora suggested to me, I'm putting everything in writing and delivering it to Landlord Man so that there is no confusion later on about who was responsible for what. I am including everything from the fact that we need to run the dryer three times before the clothes are no longer damp to the leaky toilet that is draining water all over the bathroom floor. Now not only do I smell like rotting carpets, but I have the classy distinction of getting to pour a bucket of water down the pot while standing on soggy towels every time I visit the restroom.

Things are not all bad though. Landlord Man brought his own personal washing machine over on Sunday so that we could do laundry (a process which led to our discovery of the faulty dryer). I finally took matters into my own hands and WD-40ed the heck out of our post office box and now the lock works again. The Brain even managed to use his powerful biker's legs to press the front of the dishwasher back into shape so it doesn't catch on the baseboard. Now we can open it all the way! And it was with great relief that I turned on the AC today and discovered that something in this place actually works.

And in case any of you are still wondering what possessed us to move here (aside from a rent payment hundreds of dollars cheaper than before), I leave you with these:

The view of the canyon from our front deck:

The view of the canyon out the door of the guest bedroom:

The sunroom/office, overlooking the canyon:

Every day is kind of like waking up in the middle of a jungle...a jungle with its very own ice cream truck driving up and down playing "Oh Susanna" all the livelong day.

Friday, July 1, 2011

It Continues...

Problem #16: The garbage disposal does not work. The landlord's response when I told him? "Sometimes you have to take a broomstick..."

Problem #17: We were given only one key for the mailbox. It's one of those group thingies shared by the whole cul de sac. Problem is that the landlord forgot which box was ours and never called me back to let me know. Once I called him and got an answer, another problem appeared: the lock is old and dirty and probably bent inside. I just spent 10 minutes up there trying to get our key in the lock so we can get our freaking mail. No dice. Landlord told us last week that he was going to replace the lock. We're still waiting.

Problem #18: No doorbell. It's just gone. It's one of those battery-operated things with no wires that you just stick on the wall. Apparently the previous tenant removed it to replace the batteries...and then lost it. Landlord told us weeks ago that he was replacing it but...

Problem #19: I was cleaning the kitchen cupboards when I found the doorbell. Yay! Problem is there were so many bug carcasses in those cabinets that I am completely unwilling to put any food inside unless it is sealed in a snap-loc container. That means another trip to Target. We've already been there every day this week.

Problem #20: We started out with hot water in the shower, which quickly disappeared over the week. My shower this morning was so cold I was shivering. I scouted around and located the water heater in an outdoor cabinet. It was turned off. Gee, thanks Landlord Man. No electricity and no hot water? Way to do your freaking job.

Update: The Brain and I spent all yesterday evening dumping 4-pound boxes of baking soda on the carpet and then finally vacuuming and putting together our bedroom furniture. We even managed to get the couch set up so we can have a place to sit, and hooked the tv up so we could flop on the couch and turn our brains off for a while. So of course when I called the landlord this morning to reiterate the carpet problem, he finally admitted that he never actually asked the previous tenants if they had cleaned the floors--he just assumed they had. The end result is that he is having someone over tomorrow to shampoo the carpets. This means that we have to cram ALL of our belongings into either the kitchen or the bathroom. Tonight. This oughta be good.

I also told him how upset we were that he doesn't have a washer for us yet. Apparently he is scouting around town trying to find the cheapest used washer he can. I told him we need to do our laundry and we're tired of waiting. He said he could bring over his own washer to let us use until he finds a replacement. WTF?!? Just buy a freaking washing machine!!! Or hell, give us a cut on the rent and we'll rent one ourselves!

Uff Da

So did y'all like that little teaser in which I told you I was back to blogging but then disappeared for ages again? Good one, huh?

Yeah. I went on that week-long trip to visit the fam and I totally meant to blog while I was gone, but know how it goes. The trip was fun and I got to spend time with my brothers and sisters and friends so I'm glad I went.

But then I got home and had a day to pack before we moved apartments last Monday.

And let me tell you, this week has nearly killed me, mostly because I have no patience for other peoples' bullsh*ttery, and there has been a lot of it this week. I'm apologizing in advance if this post is super cranky or complainy. It's just been one of those weeks and I really have to vent about it. I actually typed it all out and then almost didn't post it. It's long. Feel free to skip it, if you want. There are no pictures and no knitting content because I can't find my camera cable yet and I haven't knitted a stitch since before the move. It is what it is.

Problem #1: Way back on June 16, The Brain and I met our new landlord at the new place to pay our security deposit and first month's rent. The previous tenant was finishing up his move-out, so there were still a few small things hanging in the closets, etc. Everything still needed to be cleaned. No big deal. Except that there was no power. This detail will be important later on.

Problem #2: On Saturday, June 25, The Brain and I met with the landlord at the new place to pick up our keys for move-in on Monday. Still no power. The landlord guesses that the previous tenant had the power completely shut off instead of reverting it back to the owner. Now he tells us that we'd better call the power company ASAP because they can sometimes take a couple days to turn on the power. Umm...I'm sorry, but shouldn't that have been the landlord's responsibility at any point during the last 10 days? The answer is yes, yes it should have been.

Problem #3: On this same visit I notice that the floors are still dirty. Landlord tells us the carpets have been "cleaned". Kinda hard to do when there is no power, isn't it?

Problem #4: We go home on Saturday and The Brain fills out the online form with the power company to get the power turned back on, hopefully in time for our move-in on Monday. He gets an automated reply telling him to expect a response within 48 hours. So far, so good...maybe.

Problem #5: Knowing that the floors were probably still filthy, I want to bring a vacuum on our first run to the new place and give them a once-over before moving all our belongings in on top of dirty floors. But the lack of power thwarts that plan.

Problem #6: We spend all day Monday moving into the new place and have to put our (new-ish) mattress on the bedroom floor. I refuse to put the furniture together until I can clean the carpet. We keep the mattress in its plastic bag and sleep on the floor Monday night...and Tuesday night...and Wednesday night.

Problem #7: The Brain makes a special trip out to pick up a shower curtain. Gets it home to discover that both the packaging and the curtain have been sliced through. Makes a second trip to the store to replace it.

Problem #8: No power until late Thursday afternoon. This means no vacuuming the floors, which are clearly filthy and full of cat hair. It also means running to Target for some cheap camping lanterns so we can pick our way through piles of boxes and furniture when the sun goes down.

Problem #9: All the cat hair from the previous tenants are aggravating The Brain's allergies. We still can't vacuum all the floors because they are under our stuff. We can only move and clean patches at a time.

Problem #10: There is a VERY STRONG musty or cat smell in the two bedrooms. Our mattress smells from being on the floor. Our bedding smells and has to be dry cleaned. As soon as we got power we cleared everything out of the room and used up two large boxes of baking soda doing two rounds of odor-eating treatment. It's a bit better but still hits you when you walk into the room. I'm sitting on the couch in the living room right now, a good 5 or 6 feet away from the bedroom door, and I still get wafts of mustiness from in there. Not sure if it's a cat smell or if there's something else going on in there.

Problem #11: Still no washing machine. We were told one came with the unit. There is a dryer, but the washer mysteriously disappeared between the time we viewed the unit and when we moved in. Owner/landlord says he is "working on getting one", whatever that means.

Problem #12: This place is crawling with spiders and other bugs. Literally. I have emptied two cans of Raid already just on the doors and windows alone. I have taken to carrying a spray bottle of Hot Shot around with me and I am constantly checking the corners of the rooms. For someone like me, who emptied and re-packed all the boxes we had in storage at our old place just to be sure I wasn't bringing any bugs into the new place, this is a special kind of hell. At least when we had no power we couldn't see them. The Brain counted 5 spiders hanging out near the ceiling of the bedroom closet alone. I just want to dunk this whole building in a vat of toxin. It would help if the owner/landlord had actually sealed things like doors and windows. Instead, this retired-community-college-professor-turned-property-owner has installed his own doors (badly) and windows (badly) using mostly recycled items that don't quite fit. There is a good half-inch gap underneath and between the french doors that lead directly from the living room to the front porch. There are numerous openings between the floor and the outer wall in the self-built sun room. Gee, I wonder how all the bugs are getting in?

Problem #13: The fridge stinks from sitting around in the summer heat for two weeks with no power. Another run to Target for more baking soda.

Problem #14: Most of the food we had in the fridge and freezer at the old place had to be thrown out because we had no place to put it.

Problem #15: Having no power and no place to store food also means having to eat out for all our meals. This means having to eat cheap meals. I don't even want to think about all the crap I have put into my body this past week.

At this point you're probably wondering why we moved to such a horrible-sounding place. Well, it's like this: our old apartment was in a great location and we really liked it...except for the things that we didn't like. For instance, we didn't like that it was on a very busy street with deafening bus and truck traffic. We didn't like having to battle it out with our neighbors for parking every day, let alone having to park more than half a mile from our own home when there were events at nearby Balboa Park. We didn't like that the hardwood floors were so old that they sometimes gave us splinters. We didn't like smelling what our downstairs neighbors had for dinner every night. We didn't like that the windows leaked cold air in the winter, and we didn't like that there was no way to cool the place down in the summer. And finally, we didn't like that our already-expensive rent increased every year while the landlord made no improvements to the building.

So we found an upstairs/downstairs duplex that sits in a canyon at the end of a dead end street. It is surrounded by palm trees and other plants (hence the bugs), but it has TONS of windows, a veranda, a back deck, a sun room, and just enough space for two people with no kids or pets. It is SO QUIET and I love that I can open the two sets of french doors and get a nice breeze. It has air conditioning if we need it, but I doubt we will. It came with all the appliances (except, apparently, a washing machine?) and it has so many wall sockets it's kind of crazy. So we loved it at once, but now we're discovering a lot of problems that we couldn't have known were here. I'm just hoping that things will settle down and once we spray the heck out of this place and get the floors cleaned, things will start to look up. Either way, we're stuck here for the next year so we might as well make the best of it.

Thanks for letting me vent. I'm off to call the landlord (again) to let him know that the garbage disposal does not work, and to inquire about the washing machine (again).

We Have Winners!

Ugh. I've had a whopper of a couple weeks there so I'm a bit late with posting the yarn prizes. I'll get to that in another post, but for now I just want to get the winners' names out there so I can mail off some good stuff!

I used my trusty Random Number app to pick winners. (Just kidding. It's not trusty at all. I mean, it does exactly what it says it will do, but it's not the smoothest interface. But why am I complaining? It's an app that picks numbers for me. If that's the most I have to complain about, I have it pretty good.)

(P.S. That is not the most I have to complain about right now. TRUST ME. You'll get an earful in my next post.)

So without further crankiness, here are the winners:

Julie from the Lotus Blossom blog will receive the Berroco Flicker. I enjoy reading Julie's stories about her sweet little girls and all their adventures. Congratulations, Julie!

ccr in MA from the Knit Reads Cats Hockey blog will receive the Universal Yarns yarn. Congrats, ccr!

And finally, Linda B. (not Johnny) will receive the Noro Kirameki. Linda is a Rav friend from the podcast days and I always enjoy the periodic messages we send back and forth.

I have sent the winners emails (or Rav messages) to ask for your addresses. If you did not get an email from me, please let me know at clumsyknitterATgmailDOTcom. Thank you!

And a big THANK YOU to everyone who welcomed me back from my time in the woodwork. I appreciate everyone who took the time to say hello!