Friday, March 21, 2008

Yarn Accident

Just 'keeping it real', here's the damage from the Yarn Accident.

Or, um, PART of the damage from the Yarn Accident.

Fleeeeeeeeeece... Arteeeeeeeeeeest.

It's the blue one on the right side that I'll be making Wisp out of on the plane.  The red one on the left is the gift for the French Knitter.


There were a few more yarn accidents.  But they're already being assimilated.


That's Ken's sock, crossing the border on Tuesday afternoon. Sock says, "Hello, Canada, I'm in Washington right now, and you can hardly tell."  That's 3 skeins of Sandesgarn Smart in Cherry Red, and one skein in Red Tweed.

Here's a better shot of the border:

"Children of a Common Mother" indeed.  The tramp.

And this is what happens when you stuff your knitting quickly into your carry-on for the trip through security.  Yeah, that'd be a needle that used to hold 14 stitches.

I'll be more careful today.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Packing Heat.

OK, I'm finished re-packing the kids' suitcases (to add warmth, baby. Gloves, hats, sweaters).

The carry-on bags are nearly packed, too.

Kelly and Nate each have their favourite baby blanket that goes with them everywhere. Skip weaned himself off of his on this last trip to Victoria, so his backpack has room for Ender's Shadow, two Asterix books, his PSP, a case full of games for said PSP, and his "Journal du France" for Social Studies. All 3 kids have a change of clothes (so we're not snookered if the luggage goes to Timbuktu), and Nate and Kelly have a few fave stuffed animals for puppet shows on the plane.

My carry-on?

Oh, you want to know what's in it? Well, this is the bag that I may or may not have alluded to in a previous entry when I let slip that I might have had a little Yarn Accident at the Beehive Wool Shop in Victoria when I was under so much Passport Acquisition Stress. I checked it yesterday for the trip from Seattle to San Fran, but it's actually WAY smaller than an actual carry-on bag. I thought "hey, I'll go modest", and started putting bare minimal essentials into it this evening.

Ladies and gentlemen, I do believe I have discovered The Tardis. I swear, that thing just opens its hungry mouth and swallows up stuff, and it NEVER gets bigger.

I have inside my carry-on (which is NOT even 3/4 full), a complete change of clothes, a pair of running shoes, a bag of turkey jerky (I wonder if that's even something I can import into France. Hmm. We'll find out tomorrow), exercise books for Kelly and Nate to play "school" on the plane, and practice their cursive writing, a 64 pack of unopened crayola goodness, my big fluffy pink scarf, the game "Pickomino", a rather hefty novel (paperback - I'm not COMPLETELY insane), a fold-out map of the south of France, the charger for my camera battery pack, two packs of wet-ones wipes, a pair of gloves, and a stuffed penguin.

Oh yeah, and I might have a *bit* of knitting in there, too.


1. A 3/4 complete red wool sock for Ken. This one will NOT be felted, as it's made out of Superwash.
2. The yarn to make a second sock for Ken. I figure I'm less likely to get Second Sock Syndrome at 35000 feet.
3. A skein of Inca Silk (Alpaca and Silk) to make a scarf for my Dubai sister-in-law who is currently miserable and freezing in the south of France, and can't get warm at all.
4. A skein of Golden Crown Suri Alpaca lace-weight. This stuff is like gossamer down, and the deepest blood red. I have to make up something wonderful and lacy to make with it. Maybe I will be inspired in Amsterdam.
5. A skein of Fleece Artist Sea Silk, with a half-completed shawl trailing out of it (my going-to-Seattle knitting)
6. A skein of Handmaiden Angel Hair, with which to make "wisp"
7. 2 Skeins of Lorna's Laces sock yarn. Hey, if I finish Ken's socks before we hit Europe, I'll be able to cast on for another pair.
8. A skein of California yarn (Alchemy-Synchronicity) and a skein of Canadian yarn (Fleece Artist Tara) for a woman in Marseille who gave me a map of ALL of Marseille's (and environs) knitting stores. I hope I can connect with her.
9. A few pairs of BAMBOO circular needles. I'm hoping they don't set off any x-ray alarms.

I *did* have my set of Beatrice interchangeable needles in the case, and Ken nearly died laughing. "While one pair of needles makes you look like a knit-nerd, having something like THAT is going to send up so many red flags, they won't know what to do with you. Put. That. In. Your. Checked. Suitcase. Right. Now!"

I dunno. As I was putting my bamboo circulars into the carry-on, I thought "You know, this would work as a very efficient garrote."

Sheesh, I need to go to sleep. My mind is wandering into all sorts of bad places.

And the automatic light-switch just turned the lights off in the living room, so I know that that's set up and working right for the trip.

My list for tomorrow is shorter now. Almost do-able.

I think I'll save my Complete Nervous Breakdown for another day, and go knit for a while.

Weather News, now with Homework addendum.

Well shoot.

Here I'm all thinking I'm on top of things, wearing my Merrill hiking boots, and packing my hiking sandals and water shoes (Mediterranean, baby!), and I just got back from the mall, where I snagged a great pair of white wedge sandals to wear with my dark purple wrap blouse and pale purple floral swishy crepe skirt (hello, bargain basement sale prices at Coldwater Creek!) (You never know if we might actually, you know, GO OUT to eat one night), and I just went onto my iGoogle, and looked at the Marseille weather.


It's going below freezing on Sunday.

Where's my beautiful Mediterranean climate? Where's my potential Mediterranean TAN?

But more to the point, WHERE am I going to pack this sudden pile of WINTER CLOTHES that I'm going to need to take?????

Right now, each kid has a pair of pants, a pair of shorts, and a bathing suit packed.

Oh man, they're going to see us TOURISTS coming a mile away, aren't they?

I'm half tempted to post a list of all the things that I ABSOLUTELY HAD TO DO today, and how almost all of them got done...

But I think there's a character limit on entries.

In other France-related news, I went by the schools today to pick up homework packages for Skip and Kelly. Kelly's was all ready. Skip's? Well, I've had ONE of his teachers respond to my letter that I had Skip hand-deliver early last week. And that was his band teacher. He's to take his trumpet mouthpiece along to France, and practice 'buzzing', so his lips don't get out of practice this close to the Disneyland trip (did I mention that I'm chaperoning the band trip to Disneyland almost immediately after we get back from France?).

Of the other teachers? Silence.

And the office was little help. "None of the teachers have said anything to us. Let's assume that they'll all hand Skip the assignments today, so he'll be able to organize them tonight"

Yes, let's all assume that, shall we?

Skip came home with assignments from two teachers. One, his English teacher (that I bribe heavily with classroom supplies and extra copies of the class-required reading materials), gave him a whopper of an assignment. FOUR pages of spelling words.

Yeah... that's all.

Skip was grinning like a fool, "Mom, I just looked at her with my mouth open and said "That's *IT*???" and she said "Yes, enjoy your trip" So I backed away slowly, just in case she might change her mind."

He just sat down at the dining room table and finished his WEEK's worth of English homework in 5 minutes.

*pumps fist in the air*

The other teacher? She put together a folder of pre-copied pages, and it's a "Journal of My Trip To France". It's already labelled, and described, and set up with a page for every day. I swear, she probably put more work into this that Skip will have to. There's areas for "memorabilia", and very truncated areas for "journal entries" (so he won't have to write until his fingers fall off. Whee!), and even suggestions for souvenirs and memorabilia that she'd like to see from him.

Four words: Walk. In. The. Park.

Two other teachers have said "You will get no homework from me. Just enjoy your time there with your family." And then there's Science and Algebra. His Algebra teacher thinks he's something else, so may just go easy on him, and his Science teacher is the Wild Card. I've sent in classroom supplies, which may work in our favour, but on the other hand, there's ALWAYS something...

I guess I'll find out tomorrow.

And? In other news, it's my mom's birthday today. Whoops. I guess I'll phone her tomorrow, and see how it went. I swear, I am always a day late and a dollar short.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

In Other News

I've been so taken up with this whole "Will we all get to France?" business, that I've not been recording other things that have been going on in the Parker Household.

For example.

Last week at supper.

Kelly: Mom? Can I have a straw for my milk?
Me: Yes, Kelly.
Kelly goes to get a straw.
Nate: Mom? Can I have a straw for my milk, too?
Me. Yes, Nate, you can have a straw, too.
Nate: Kelly, can you get me a straw, too?
Kelly: Nate, you can get your own straw.
Nate: Kelly? When you *DIE* do you want to go to... heaven... or to HELL?
Kelly: What?
Nate: Because if you want to go to heaven when you die, you have to bring me a straw. Because that is what Jesus would do.

What *are* they teaching him in Kindergarten, anyways?

My Photoshoot with Photo-Mommy

You may think that I have just gone through hell and back, getting Skip's passport this week, but you'd be wrong.

You see, I spent the last evening with Photo Mommy and her family, and I have come away from that experience refreshed, and ready to take on the chaos that is my 'We're going to France in 36 hours" life.

As always, we start the visit saying "THIS TIME, we will take photos before the Very Last Minute...."

And as always, it was mere moments before I hopped in the car to race back to the airport that we were pulling out the cameras.

She takes great photos with her camera phone.  You should go over there and see.

Me?  I will never have the paparazzi gene.

But seriously.  Go over to her diary.  She managed to airbrush out my extra chins.

And when I take photos, I look like The Joker.

After taking photos out on her doorstep, I dumped Skip in the car, and with Photo-Mommy's children hanging off of his arm, we backed out of the driveway, and out through the maze of numbered streets back to the freeway, and thence to the airport.

Can I just say that I was VERY happy that I was going SOUTH to the airport?  We got to just south of Seattle, when all (and I mean ALL) of the northbound traffic came to a grinding halt.  And there it stayed... ALL THE WAY to our exit.  Probably 6 miles worth of gridlock.  Ouch.

I would've run out of gas for sure, seeing as I'd paid the rental company the "return the car empty' prorated fee for teh tank of gas, and wanted to get my money's worth.  We coasted into the rental return area with the "Add gas NOW" light on.  I feel like I came out ahead on that transaction.

And wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, when I went to check in, the kiosk computer asked "Would you like to take an earlier flight?"  Well, I thought you'd never ask!

Heh.  Funny story.  We were going through security, and, because Skip had been asked to take off his fleece sweater to go through the metal detector on the way UP to Seattle, I suggested he be pro-active, and take it off before going through security in Seattle.  When he pulled off his sweater, he had this big scrape/gash across the back of his neck.  "Egads, Skip, what's that?  Another war wound from the rock tossing episode?"  He felt his neck.  "Nope, it's not a rock."  "What, then?  Was it perhaps part of a stick-fight that you had up in the forest last night with the boys?"  "Nope."  "Skip?!  Was it one of the girls that did that?"  He laughed.  "No, mom.  It was the little guy.  And not a stick.  He did it with his fingernails when I was giving him a piggy back ride."

Ah, mystery solved.

He's going to make a great dad some day, because he thought the lumps on the head, and the scratches on the neck were kind of fun, and he was happy the little ones had a good time while he was there.

We're home 2.5 hours earlier than we would've, and I'm already 3 loads of laundry ahead of the game, and I've been to Trader Joe's to get snacks for the Irish family that will be joining us at the chateau in the French mountains on Sunday.

Oh, and I've already packed Nate's suitcase.  Kelly has a pile started, and Skip just said "whatever", so you know packing for him is a no-brainer.

Now, if only I could find that pile of bills that really needs to be paid before we head to the airport on Friday.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Kicking Back.

I am at Photo-Mommy's.

I feel the stress melting away.

It may be the ice cream.

It might be the Sloppy Jose's.

No. Not "Sloppy Joes". They're Mexican. Hey, hey, Jose.

Or it might be the fact that their kids seem to worship Skip, who is lapping it up like nobody's business.

How are they worshipping him? Well, the eldest daughter kept tiptoeing over to Skip, and whispering things in his ear during supper. And how was Skip receiving this worship? With a smile that was a lot softer around the edges than one might think. One might almost think that he was sweet on her.

And what of the boys? The two rough-and-tumble boys that appear to think that the sun rises and sets on Skip...

Why, they showed their adoration by showing Skip just how amazing their rock-throwing arms were.

Skip now has two large welts on the back of his head.

I told him that it would be better if they'd broken the skin. Then he could've had a bloody scar to bring back to California.

But Mr. Photo-Mommy? The pastor? He had other ideas. He seemed a little upset that Skip was the target, and proceeded to give the home-town boys a lecture that brought scripture into things. A snippet: "In the Bible, they stoned people, you know? And why did they do that? Because they WANTED TO KILL THEM. Do you want to KILL our guest????"

Yeah. I was trying not to laugh, too. And Skip seems pretty proud of his war wounds. He's keeping tabs on the goose eggs on the back of his head, hoping that they'll still be noticeable when he gets back to school on Thursday.

But now the kids are in bed. We'll see if they stay there. And Photo-Mommy and I will go find our make-up cases, and get all prettified, so we can take photos before The Very Last Minute.

Oh, and eat ice cream.

Greetings *again* from Mount Vernon

You know, you've gotta love a restaurant that offers free WiFi.

Even if it means that I had to back-track on the freeway to get to the exit, to get back to my Round Table.

Now if only I really liked their food, I'd be set.

We are, as you may have gathered, back in the States.

Skip has his shiny new passport in his hands (actually, it's in a secure zippered part of my purse). It has TODAY's date on it. Yes, it is Hot Off The Presses. In fact, when I went to the passport office this morning at 0830, I had to wait a few minutes for it to finish 'cooking', and when they brought it to me, it was still a bit warm. Woot. The laminating was still a bit tacky. Just perfect timing.

And they were all rather appreciative of the Ghirardelli Chocolate (straight from San Francisco!) bars that I offered as a "thankyou" to Joe and Danielle, and the chick-that-could've-been-a-movie-star with the cool glasses. She was the one I dealt with today. I think she was Danielle's supervisor. I still haven't met Joe. I think he may just be a computer generated voice. Everyone knows him, and talks to him, but nobody's seen him.

I may or may not have purchased yarn while in Victoria.

As a corollary to the above statement, I may or may not have also purchased an additional suitcase at Zellers, so that I could get the maybe-yarn home.

Now I am faced with a dilemma. I *could* pull over soon, and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening with PhotoMommy. Our flight doesn't leave until tomorrow afternoon.


Or I could go straight to the airport, and see if they can't get me on a flight tonight. That would give me another day at home to do stuff like pay the bills, and put a hold on the mail, and arrange for someone to take out our trash, and clean Midnight's cage and take him to Kelly's friend's house, and do laundry (anyone want to place bets on whether the load of laundry that I started on Saturday morning before I left for the airport ever got put in the dryer?), and figure out who gets which suitcase, and which carry-ons are going to be used, and how we're getting all the homework put together for Skip and Kelly, and, and, and, and...

ACK! Too much stuff to do!

On the other hand, having a "mental health' evening, with hours spent laughing at PhotoMommy's endless stream of jokes might be just what the doctor ordered...

Film at eleven.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ode to invisible Joe

Joe, Joe, ya big schmo.

What’s with you not getting into the office until 8:30 on weekdays? Don’t you know I was lined up outside your door at 6:45am? Out there, in the cold, cruel streets of Victoria, where I could’ve been attacked by seagulls, or smothered by friendly locals who couldn’t believe that I’d flown All That Way just to get a passport in the dark early morning. Out there in the drizzle, chatting up the Commissionaires who realized I knew what I was doing when I said “I’m here to see Joe about an emergency passport renewal”. Out there in the pre-dawn when Guy (oh, excuse me... "Geeee'), the gregarious commissionaire looked at me with a grin and said “You’re here awfully early, then. Joe doesn’t get in until 8:30. But someone else might be able to help you out. They’re a helpful lot up there” And Joe? He was right.

But you know what, Joe? You may have been my first Passport love, but now there’s a bigger space in my heart for Danielle. You see, Joe, while you were picking out which understated Canadian Bureaucrat Cologne to apply this morning, she was already at her station, waiting for D402 to be called. Waiting for me, Joe. She was there for me, while you were still scraping ice off your windshield.

So tomorrow morning? When I take my green Passport Retrieval form, with its bright red “URGENT REQUEST” sticker on it, to the front desk, it’s Danielle who’s going to get the Ghirardelli “Citrus Sunset” dark chocolate bar with the Thank You note attached.

But you know what, Joe? I bet she’ll share it with you.

She’s great, like that.

But while I'm racing to make the 9am ferry, Joe? I'll still be thinking about you.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

But wait! There's more!

I swear, this passport debacle is turning into an episode of I Love Lucy, or something.


Joe was quite insistent that there were PLENTY of places right around the passport office where we could get Canadian-Taken passport photos done on Sunday afternoon. "Oh yes, they're open on Sundays. They do a brisk tourist business" OK, I'll believe him on this one.

So after church and a lovely lunch out, mom and dad drove us by the passport office (so I'd know where to park), and then slowly cruised up the "passport portrait strip", so we could get Skip's pictures taken today.

All of those portrait studios was closed.

Every. Last. One.

But all is not lost. Mom and dad had had great luck getting their portraits taken at Walmart, and it was on the way home. So off we went to Wal-Fart.

I explained to the girl with the camera that we'd already had TWO sets of passport photos rejected because of all manner of oddness, so she was adamant that she was going to take the Best Passport Pictures EVER. She sat Skip down. She adjusted his hair. She fiddled with the collar of his orange fleece sweater. She had him fold down the collar Just So.

And then she told us to come back in 10 minutes to pick up the masterpieces.

Ten minutes later, when we came back to her kiosk, she said "I rejected that set of portraits."

Ack! More rejection! But this one didn't cost us anything.

And what was the rejection this time?

"If you look, it seems like your son's ears are glowing. I've heard off them rejecting passport pictures because of glowing ears..."

And you know what? I totally believed her. If they're going to reject a picture because a kid looks too pleasant, or because he's got a zit that's reflecting the camera's flash, I have no doubt in my mind that glowing ears would also get the big red boot.

She continued, " So here's the solution.... ELECTRICIAN'S TAPE!"

Yup. You heard that right. Electrician's tape. Which she then proceeded to pull off the roll and stick to the backs of Skip's ears.

Live long and prosper, dude, you look like Mr. Spock.

So now it's night.

We will be getting up at oh-dark-thirty in order to be in line outside the passport office at 6:30am.

And Skip just called to me from the bathroom, using his "I'm young and confused and I don't know what to do" voice.

I peeked out in the hallway, to see him standing at the door to the main bathroom of the house, with towels in his hand, dropping them down onto the bathroom tile, where it meets the hall carpeting.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, with mere hours before my inlaws leave for France, and mere+6 hours before Skip and I lock up their house for a month before heading back to California, we managed to overflow the upstairs toilet.

Thank-yew, thank-yew. We'll be here until Tuesday.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Greetings from Mount Vernon

Heh. I'm in a Round Table. It's got free wi-fi with purchase. Skip is chowing down on cheese pizza, and unloading most of the cheese on my plate, and he's guzzling Sierra Mist. (Usually, he's a Coke guy, but this Round Table has Pepsi, and that vile Lymph of Satan will not cross his lips)

I just had to ask the people at the next table what town I was in. I really should pay better attention to the road signs when I scream off on an exit

As to the trip.

Uneventful thus far. Easy getting the tickets, easy getting boarding passes. easy going through security (although Skip had to strip down to his t-shirt before they'd even LET him go through the metal detector. I guess those orange fleece shirts just look too dangerous, or something.) Easy boarding the plane, easy flight, good knitting on the plane.

Only glitch so far is the rental car. When I went up to the counter, the lady said "You've rented a PT Cruiser, but I can upgrade you cheapy-cheapy to a Chrysler 300 [ed. Long term readers may remember this as what our children affectionately call a "Land Yacht"]" Well, to me, cheapy-cheapy is only cheap if it's FREE, so I declined. Even if she was going to drop the upgrade fee to $59. Sorry, lady. I've already shelled out enough money today. So she gives me the paperwork, and says "Go to stall S14, and the keys will be in the Cruiser's ignition"

OK, first off? The parking garage is a zillion miles away from the rental counter in the airport. I could've walked to the border in the time it took me to find the car. And then? There's a HYUNDAI parked in S14. Hyundais are NOT Cruisers. I may be car-impaired, but I do know that much. So I have to hoof it back to some rental-car kiosk in the parking garage, to say "Where's my car?"

Turns out that all the time she's SAYING "PT Cruiser", she's MEANING "Hyundai Sonata". Dur.

The car smells like smoker-breath being covered up by pine air freshener, but it could be worse. It could be vomit that the freshener is trying to mask.

See? I'm looking on the bright side.

But now it's time to brave the border. Skip has eaten his fill of pizza, and needs more soda.

So far, this has been a good bonding time for Skip and I. We have laughed FAR too hard while eavesdropping on "too much information" conversations in the boarding area. Of course, now I can't remember them. Probably all for the better.

Now it's 2:30. Another hour to the border, I'd guess, then an hour to the ferry terminal. I just hope we don't get held up at the border. That would really stink. Though it'd be pretty much par for the course in this whole "being a legal alien" thing that we've got going on. As we were driving to the airport this morning, Kelly and Nate trying to go back to sleep in their seats in Homer, and Skip and Ken chatting about something that neither of us can remember... hmm, it involved the GPS, and what route is best to go to the airport, and how sometimes you just fly by the seat of your pants, and you still win... I realized that I was taking ONE of our children across an International Boundary WITHOUT HIS OTHER CUSTODIAL PARENT.

Hello? Can you say "recipe for disaster"? I thought you could.

So while Ken's driving, I'm writing a letter using my best counterfeit-Ken handwriting, explaining that he knows that I am taking Skip to Canada to get a passport. I did everything but sign his name. I have my boundaries, you know.

And now I think that my time has just run out here, in the land of free-wifi-with-purchase, so I will save this, and bring you news from Canada.

I hope.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Scoop

So here's the scoop on the passport.

I phoned this morning, right after taking the kids to school.

I had steeled myself for the worst, but honestly?  On the inside, I was fully expecting them to say "oh, but madam, your son's passport has been sent, and should get to you thees afternoon"

I was not ready for this:

"Oh, that passport was printed on the 5th of March."


If it was printed on the 5th of March, how come I haven't seen it.

"Well, it is scheduled to be sent back to you on the 25th."

Could you check on that for me?  Because I've phoned THREE times, now, and each time I casually mention that my son has to TRAVEL ON THE TWENTY FIRST.

"Please hold."

"Ma'am?  I'm sorry.  But that passport was rejected.  AFTER it was printed."

But....!!!! But...!!!!!!  I talked to someone on the phone ON THE TENTH OF THIS MONTH and they said that it was NOT printed, but being SCRUTINIZED.

"Well, I see no record of that.  Hmmm.  And whoever told you that should not have told you that.  They should have told you that the application was rejected, and that the rejected documents would be returned to you on the 25th."

Wow, so somehow, TWO different people that I talked to over the last week not only gave me false information, they also gave me false hope?  What is my recourse?  It is imperative that my son fly to France next Friday.

"But ma-am, you know that applications currently take 25 business days as a minimum.  If you re-apply now, it will not be in time."

I understand that [*knucklehead* which I don't say out loud, but I think it REALLY hard].  But I am a Canadian trapped in California, and my son's passport is currently TRAPPED in Ottawa.  What can I do?

"You can fly to Canada, and apply in person."

Will my son need to come with me?

"I would recommend it, as you have now had two applications rejected because of photography."

WHAT?  This application was rejected because of the photograph?  What happened?

"I see in the file that the photographic facial analyzer machine detected a glare on his cheek.  There is nothing we can do.  It was rejected after it was printed."

A glare?  On his cheek?  On the cheek of a 13 year old boy with bad skin?  [jeepers, back when I was a kid, we called that the T-zone]

"Ma'am, it doesn't matter the source.  A sheen or reflection causes the machine to reject the picture.  If you tell us which passport office you will be flying to, we can transfer the file there, for emergency processing."

I will go to Victoria.  It's where my inlaws live, and it's probably the closest office (that's not the insanely busy Vancouver/Surrey offices) to a border town.  Because, and correct me if I'm wrong, seeing as you have my son's passport, he cannot get on an international flight, even if it *IS* to come home to get a passport.

"Yes, that is correct.  And when will you be going to the office.  I will inform the office, and they will call you with details of what you will need to bring.  And you will need to get new pictures, which, if I could recommend, you have taken in Canada."

Can they call me back today?  And do *I* need to travel with my son, as the applicant, or does my husband need to travel with my son, as he is the one who originally signed the backs of my son's rejected passport photos as the guarantor, and, I'm guessing, would need to sign these NEW pictures.

"Um, I don't know which of you should travel, but they would be able to inform you.  Although... they are busy.  What about calling next week?"


"Oh, so you would like to expedite this?"

*bangs head on desk*  Yes, please. 

"I will take down all your phone numbers, and then inform the Victoria office of your situation.  We close at 8pm, and Victoria closes at 5pm local time.  If you don't hear from them by... noon your time, call me back."

Are you open on the weekend?

"No, ma'am.  It is a business office."

OK, yes, tell them that I will be on their doorstep at the crack of dawn (or earlier) on Monday  morning.

And with that, I hung up.

Completely defeated.

I did *NOT* want to make an emergency trip to Victoria for 3 days, coming back less than 48 hours before turning around and leaving again.

I phoned my mother in law.  I figured I should let her know the bad news.

And you know what?  She was amazingly nice about it.  Devastated, too.  But she also said that she'd heard locally that it was pretty much impossible to get a passport, emergency or not, within a week at the Victoria office.  Although she didn't think she could advise us about not making the effort, she wondered if it would be worse for Skip and I if we made all that effort and STILL didn't have a passport to show for it.

Truly?  I was amazed.  I thought she'd be pushing for me to go the extra mile, and all that, but she was nothing but gracious.

I hung up, at peace about not going to France.

And then the phone rang, nearly immediately.

The voice on the other end was tentative.  He wasn't sure who he needed to talk to, but it was about an emergency passport.

"Me!  You want to talk to me!  My son's had a horrible time getting a passport, and our only hope is to fly up there and get one in person!"

He laughed "This is Joe.  I only have your son's name, and no information about what's up.  I'm the Emergency Passport Guy, how can I help you."

Joe, Joe, what can I say about Joe?  The sun rises and sets on him and his wonderfully anglo-Canadian accent.  He walked me through everything I might need, and about a dozen things that would REALLY help, but weren't absolutely necessary.  He assured me that I had done everything humanly possible in the situation, and even gave me a hint as to what to say to the doormen at the office to get in quicker.  There seemed to be little love lost between him and the Head Office (although that might just have been me projecting,,,,) and I now am confident that I can get things nailed into place by end of business day, Tuesday.

He even suggested that, seeing as I will be staying with my inlaws, that one of them act as the guarantor, and that way, he won't have to spend any extra time contacting Ken (the current guarantor).  His suggestion:  Print up TWO applications, identical in every way except that one has Ken as guarantor (with his signature on the back of the REJECTED photos - which we have), and one has my mother in law as guarantor (with her signature on the back of the NEW photos that we have taken when we get to Victoria)

More hurdles?  Skip CANNOT get on a plane, and just fly to Canada... BECAUSE HE DOES NOT HAVE A PASSPORT.  So we get to have the joy of flying to Seattle, and renting a car.

The only down side of this is that I'll have to pull Skip for THREE MORE DAYS of unexcused absences.  Although I think that "being deported" might count as a pretty darned good excuse.

Is your blood pressure as high as mine is right now?


Consider the lilies of the field.

And take a deep breath.

Hello, Diarrhea

Guess what?

Skip's passport application was rejected.


With 170 hours before we're supposed to get in a plane to France.

Excuse me. Diarrhea hits.

I know, I know. Hold your applause.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Because I live in a world of sunshine and ponies, where everything always works out (also known as the realm of the 50s sit-com), I have been planning fun things to do in the South of France. You know, just in case Skip's passport ever arrives, and we actually ALL get to go AS A FAMILY on this Family Vacation....

All hail, Ravelry!

I put out a little request to residents of Marseilles and environs, and asked about the Yarn Shopping Flavour.

And boy-howdy, did I get responses.

Now, if ONLY I could actually get there.

Check it out:

re: Local Yarn (LYS?) question
Sent at 8:19 AM Today

Hi Kemma! I did the exact same thing as you last month before I went to Torino… How much I love Ravelry for this! I did bring back some yarn souvenirs myself from Italy b/c someone answered the exact same request!

Alright. Marseille. There are no LYS per se, as “Independent yarn stores” France is a country of brand yarn stores and of this we have several :

The most common is Phildar which has four stores in Marseille, two of which are in the city center :

* 15 r St Ferréol 13001 MARSEILLE (that’s in the main shopping street)
* 31 r Trois Frères Barthélémy 13006 MARSEILLE (that’s in the artsy neighbourhood)

Then you have Anny Blatt / Bouton d’or (same company - more expensive but nicer yarns. Two stores :

* 2 r Moustier 13001 MARSEILLE (close to the main shopping street)
* 48 r Trois Mages 13006 MARSEILLE (in the artsy neighbourhood)

Then you have Bergère de France ( which I am not a big fan of… and there is one store :

* 77 r Rome 13006 MARSEILLE (close to the main shopping street)

In the artsy neighbourhood you also have one independent store which sells mostly Italian brands called “Les Laines du Chat Botté” :

* 28 r St Michel 13006 MARSEILLE but the store is dark, the yarn under plastic so I find it very difficult to see

Close to the main shopping street you also have La Droguerie ( which is EXPENSIVE! But sells really nice stuff :

* 42 r Vacon 13001 MARSEILLE

Then you have one store which sells different brands but mostly the spanish “Katia” from what I could see called “La ronde des pelotes” :

* 59 av Mar Foch 13004 MARSEILLE

And then slightly on the outskirts of marseille there is an outlet store calles Laines Center :

* 4 bd Gueidon 13013 MARSEILLE

You can use the website “” to plug in the addresses and see where they are in relations to each other.

Let me know what you find!

From: Kemma
Local Yarn (LYS?) question
Sent at 1:51 PM Yesterday

I will be traveling in your area (well, from near Ales, through Marseilles) at the end of this month, and am hoping to find Local Yarn Stores, to take back French Yarn Souvenirs of my trip. Of course, I haven’t got a clue how to find French yarn stores from my nest here in California, and so, am hoping that someone like you might have a recommendation or two. I will have a car, and can drive all over the countryside, hunting down the elusive Perfect French Yarn Store, if only someone will point me to it. Can you help me?

*kisses her new French best friend*

But wait! There's more!

re: Visiting France with Questions.
Sent at 9:28 AM Today

This part of the country is almost a total yarn wasteland in some ways. I say this because most LYSes are not full of tons of brands and beautiful colors here. They’re not bad, exactly, but they tend to sell one manufacturer’s brand of yarn or maybe two or three at the most. That certainly limits things. No lovely hand-dyed goodness here, for sure. So, the LYSes aren’t so great around here, but near Orange there is the Anny Blatt/Bouton D’Or Factory Outlet store.

33 rte Ste Cécile 84830 SERIGNAN DU COMTAT

The part in caps is the name of the town it’s in. It used to be inside Orange, but they moved some time in the last couple of years. I’d recommend looking it up on mapquest or something to find it.

Here is there phone number: 04 90 11 80 88

They have pretty decent yarns, actually, but they can be pricey if you buy them in an LYS. The factory outlet store has really good prices most of the time. They can be somewhat limited in color choice, though.

If you really want to feast your eyes on some beautiful colors, you can go to La Droguerie. Again, it’s a chain where only the house brand of yarn is sold. They have gorgeous displays, though. They hang all of their skeins from the walls in beautiful arrangement and have lots of sample garments up, too. They are also a “mercerie,” which means they sell lots of buttons and jewelry-making goodies. I know there is one in Montpellier (which is the closest big town to me) on Boulevard du Jeu de Paume.

Apparently, there’s one in Marseille as well…

42 rue Vacon 13001 MARSEILLE

04 91 54 39 18

Just a little warning to you, though:

Don’t expect excellent service in any of these places. They just don’t work that way. Not a customer oriented culture. It’ll help a lot, though, if when you enter any place of business that you say “Bonjour” to the people working there and other customers when you walk in. It’s a cultural thing. They even say it to people in a waiting room at the doctor’s office when they walk in and people are already there waiting. One bonjour will suffice for the whole place to when you first walk in. Then, if you want help with something, you should start with Bonjour when addressing the person. I’ve often started with “Excusez-moi” or “Pardon” like we would in the US, but they don’t react well if you don’t say hello first.

Anyway, that’s all I can think to mention. I honestly don’t do tons of yarn shopping, because I don’t like Phildar much, and that’s what’s closest to me. I also don’t like the service or prices in the Anny Blatt store near me, so I just don’t make the effort. I tend to load up when I go the the US, or I go to Anny Blatt factory outlet once every couple of years, or I just buy off the net.

I do hope you have a good time, though. Enjoy your trip.
From: Kemma
Visiting France with Questions.
Sent at 1:15 PM Yesterday

Hey, completely random person here. I’m going to be visiting the area around Ales and down to Montpellier and Marseilles, next week, and was hoping to find some yarny goodness while I’m there. We’ve got a car, and are probably going to be driving like fiends, trying to see everything and be everywhere, and I’m hungry for any pointers that a local (or semi-local, I see you’re not exactly close to the area, but we’re flexible, and always up for a drive) could give us (or rather me! I’m the yarny one) about where to find the good local yarn. Is there good local yarn? I’m so ignorant, and I don’t want to miss ANYTHING in the week I’m there.

So I'm punching the addresses into the Garmin, and looking at driving distances, and thinking about logistics, and wheeeee. All I need is Skip's passport.

Venezia Test

So my little Venezia test-swatch is sucking the very life out of me.

But it's looking cute.

Look!  A steek!

I don't know if I have the internal fortitude to make an entire sweater in this fashion, though.

It'd be all well and good if I could do other things while knitting in this manner, but the thing is an attention-whore.  I can't look away from it.  I can't talk, because my inner mantra must constantly run with "one dark, two light, two dark, four light, one dark, three light, one dark, one light, one dark, one light, repeat", and if I glance away, I'm back to square one, putting down the knitting, getting out the spare knitting needle to use as a pointer, and squinting at the magazine's 8-colour chart, to see where it was that I lost my place.

So TV is out.  Visiting is out.  I find that the only place I can knit this is while I'm waiting in Homer, after school, for one or  another of the kids to get out of class, and run to the van.

I can't even knit in the front yard, and be a presence on the street while Nate toodles around on his puny bike, because I get out there, and my inner mantra runs "one dark, one light, two dark, one light, two dark, three light, one dark, five light..." and then out of the corner of my eye, I see something "three dark... OOH, sparkly!"

I should let my garden devolve back to dirt.  Maybe then I wouldn't be distracted by the flashes of colour.


Even the weeds have a subtle mystique in these halcyon days of spring.

Seriously.  Could you work with these things bobbing their pretty heads at you?

I thought not.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Continuing Saga

Honestly, this whole passport thing is turning into a Soap Opera.

*cue violin soundtrack*

Hunky Voice-over: When last we left Mrs. Parker, she was on hold... again... with Passport Canada, waiting with bated breath to discover if Skip's passport would arrive in time for the Once In A Lifetime Trip to France, so that her child could get the lifesaving Kidney Operation that would save his life....

(ok, I made that last bit up. But if it *were* a soap opera, there would be some 'lifesaving operation' that would be involved. Either that, or a meeting with his long-lost identical twin who'd had a sex-change)

Telephone voice: There are.... seven... callers ahead of you.

Mrs. Parker: (chewing her fingertips - no French manicures for this Daytime TV star) Oh, whatever shall I do? Wherever shall I go? Skip really, REALLY wants to go to France to see his grandparents and eat baguettes, and get out of P.E. for a week.

Telephone voice: There are... four... callers ahead of you. This call may be monitored for quality assurance.

Mrs. Parker: Why, oh WHY did my son have to look pleasant in that first set of passport photos? He usually is grumbling and scowling, and I'm sure photos of THAT face would've looked much more like a terrorist, and MUCH more acceptable to the powers that be. Oh dear. Did I say "terrorist" out loud? And this call is being monitored. Shit.... er, I mean crap!

Telephone voice: There are... one... caller ahead of you. This call may be monitored for quality assurance.

Mrs. Parker: Maybe I should take this as a sign that we shouldn't go to France. It would be one in a long line of signs. Like... on Sunday, when I went to the Currency Exchange to get Euros for the trip, and the guy behind the counter, an incredulous look on his face, said "Wow, oddly enough, we're OUT OF EUROS. I just sold the last ones, and we won't get more until next week some time."

Telephone voice: Your call will be answered next. There will be a click, and quiet air. Please do not hang up. Please have a pencil and paper available to write down any important information.

Mrs. Parker: A pencil and paper? Crap again. I'll just type it into the computer if they have anything important to say.

Real Person: Hello, how can I help you?

Mrs. Parker: I'm checking on the status of my son's passport application. Last week when I called, someone in your office said to call yesterday or today, to get a DHL tracking number for his passport.

Real Person: Let's get your information...

(information changes hands)

Real Person: Oh, I don't know why they would tell you to ask for a tracking number. This passport is not being shipped.

Mrs. Parker: (having a heart attack, coupled with an aneurysm, and rampant diarrhea urges) WHAT?

Real Person: I see here that this application had additional information. Was additional information requested from you?

Mrs. Parker: (regaining her voice): Yes, I sent in a new set of passport photos, LAST MONTH, when his original photos were deemed to be 'too pleasant'. At that time, I phoned your office, and someone there said that to help expedite things, I should photocopy our plane tickets, and write a letter stating the urgency of the request, which I did.

Real Person: Ah, well, those papers would constitute "extra information", and, as such, this application has been diverted to The Examiner for EXTRA SCRUTINY. There is now no timetable for when it will be shipped.

Mrs. Parker: What? You're killing me here. We have to fly to France NEXT FRIDAY, and when I began this process IN JANUARY, I was assured that it would take six weeks MAXIMUM, and that there would be no need for me OR MY SON to do anything in person back home in Canada.

Real Person: Is there a number where you can be reached? Because I can put a note in your file (ed: Look, ANOTHER NOTE IN MY FILE. Great lot of good it seems to be doing me) and then if The Examiner has any questions about this application, they can contact you directly.

Mrs. Parker: Here is my cell phone number. I will, from this moment forward, keep it on my person At All Times.

*violins swell*

Hunky voice-over: Tune in next week, when you'll hear our Gutsy Heroine say ....

Mrs. Parker: (on the phone) Yes, mother-in-law, I know this is a once in a lifetime trip, but obviously the Canadian Government doesn't want Skip and I to come along. No, I did NOT orchestrate this whole thing so I wouldn't have to fly over the Atlantic. I hope you have a lovely anniversary, in France, with the REST of your grandchildren....

And how wrong is it that EVERY time that person said "The Examiner", I wanted to say "Actually, I'd prefer it if The National Enquirer gave it more scrutiny"?????

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Door Ding

So, what I didn't know this morning when I got out of bed was this: I was destined to drive the Crazy Bus all day.

Much of the day was just low-grade crazy, with little blips of WTF. Case in point? The whole passport debacle that Will. Not. Go. Away.

And then night fell, and I thought all was well.

I took Skip and his buddy to Youth Group, and, instead of driving home, then turning right around again, and going to pick them up, I decided to stay in the vicinity with Nate and Kelly, and knock some errands off the Endless List.

Got gas. Check. But a big ouchies on the $3.69/gal price tag.

Headed over to Barnes and Noble to pick up some books for a birthday party that Kelly's going to on Saturday.

We pulled into the parking lot, and got a spot pretty close to the store. It was dark, but a quick hop over to the well-lit door of the store.

I had just found the section of Horse Novels (what Kelly wants to get her friend), when I was approached by a large Chinese guy that, at first, I thought was the store manager.

Him: "Um, pardon me, ma'am, but do you drive a van?"

Me: "Um, yes. Oh no. Did I leave the lights on?"

Him: "A blue van?"

Me: "Yes, oh crap, I just left it. Did it get hit?"

Him: (most apologetically) "No, but when you were getting out of your car, you opened your door into my car, and, oh, I'm sorry to even mention it, but you've put a scratch on the car. I was on my phone in the car, and I felt it, and tried to catch you before you got into the store..."

Me: "Oh, I'm so sorry. Let's go right out there and take a look. Kelly, Nate, put the books down, we're going outside for a minute."

Him: "I'm sure this won't take a moment, but I did want you to be aware..."

Me: "Of course. I didn't realize I'd bumped your car when I got out. I'm usually so worried about the kids tumbling out in chaos and hitting something..."

We walked out of the store, and over to the cars. And there, parked right beside Homer was this brand spankin' new Gold Infinity, with the very light of heaven shining out the exhaust.

Crap. I couldn't have whacked my door into a '68 Volkswagen?

Him: "Ordinarily, I wouldn't have worried, but my brother and I, we've just invested in this vehicle, and its value... Well, here, you can take a look..."

And I looked at the car, and it was dark. Darkishly dark. So I beeped my car, and the internal lights came on, and I could see the side of his car, the bright golden flawlessly painted side of his buffed and polished Infinity Sedan. I think even the bugs knew better than to get squashed on the windshield. And there he was, bent over the passenger side rear view mirror, caressing it, and nearly weeping.

Was I going to need to get my glasses out? I squinted.

Nope. I could see it. About an inch long, and barely wider than a hair, yes, there it was, a scratch on the side of the mirror. I ran a thumb over it. Nope. It wasn't going to wipe off. Rats.

The guy looked so defeated. "I just don't know what to do about this. It's my first scratch, and I was really hoping to maintain the value of this vehicle. I suppose I could take it into the body shop for detailing..."

I will admit, I looked at that scratch, and thought "Let it go, buddy." but then I remembered that I had been offered grace by the guy that I'd rear-ended last month, and I thought "I can do better than this."

But what was I supposed to do? Is this where I say "Let's call the police, and fill out an accident report"? Do I go and get my insurance information and exchange cards with him? Do I invite him out for a drink, and hope that my offer causes him to say "Let's call it even"? Do I release my kids on the car, and show him what REAL damage looks like?

And then I started looking at that scratch... at that *white* SCRATCH, and I thought "wait a minute. If I opened my *dark blue* door into this, it would be a dint, and not a scratch." and out loud, I said "Well, let's see if there's any other damage I did by opening the door. Let's reenact the ding."

And before he could say anything, I had opened my door. And swung it towards his car. Where it contacted at a point a full three inches behind where the scratch was. There was NO WAY that my car door could have made that scratch.

"Wow, look at this!" I said. "I don't think it was my door that made that scratch." Whew. I was feeling a bit of relief, finally.

He frowned, "Well, that's being gentle. You did open your door with a greater force earlier."

I did?????

"OK, Let's say I open the door with greater force... how about if the force of it causes your mirror to bend backwards... what happens then..." and I went to push the door just a bit, so it would cause a bit of resistance on his mirror. His mirror bent in a bit towards the car, and he shrieked a little "I don't want to do any more damage to the car. Don't push on the mirror!"

What? He doesn't know that mirrors are DESIGNED to snap against the car, both backwards and forwards, just in case of situations like this?

And it was at that point that I saw a little light at the end of my tunnel.

I was NOT the cause of this scratch. And I smiled.

And he shrugged. "Well, I guess if I worked hard at this, I could buff out that scratch... but it's just not going to be the same. You've been very good about coming out here to check this out."

I turned to go back into the store. "I hope you get that nasty scratch buffed out. It's a lovely car." I said.

I called Ken later, while I was taking the boys home. He laughed "You were being scammed. The guy was trying to get money out of you. Most people will do a LOT to avoid bringing their insurance carriers into the picture. He was counting on that for you. I wonder what he would have said if you'd said "Well, let's call the insurance providers, and see what they say." Hah! Even better, what if you'd said "I think the police should make a report on this!" Oh! Ha ha ha ha!"

Was that it?

Was I the non-victim of a circumvent-the-insurance scam?

And what do I think now? "You whining idiot. Were you trying to get money out of me? In front of MY KIDS?" And I'm also thinking "Hey! I should have gotten your license plate, buster."

Checking the Status


After discovering that Passport Canada charged my credit card on February 27th for the processing of Skip's passport, I thought it might be a good idea to 'track the progress of an application' over at their 1-800 number.

As you may recall, my credit card was charged back on the 13th of February for the processing of MY passport, and I received the blessed document on the 22nd. A very respectable turn-around time, if I do say so myself. All things being equal, one might assume that Skip's passport was in imminent danger of arriving in my hot little hands this week.

So I'm on the phone...

[cue the Jeopardy Final Jeopardy clock-timer doo-BEE-doo-BEE-doo-dee-doooooooo music]

There are.... eight... callers ahead of me in line...

Oh look at the grot that I've stashed in the pull-out drawer under my laptop on my desk. Clean that off. Toss that out. Ooh, a menu from Nate's first month at school this year. Probably a bit out of date. Toss!

There are.... SIX... callers ahead of me in line...

Why do I have three unmatched socks in a pile under the desk? This is kind of stupid. Oh crap, and there's the puppet body prototype behind the laptop. Man, I've gotta get going on those. I need to have 10 made by tomorrow. Glad I looked there...

There are.... FOUR... callers ahead of me in line...

Hmm. My page-a-day knitting calendar is still stuck on February 23rd. flip flip flip flip. March 3rd stitch is boring. Good thing it's the 5th. Seed stitch? Blah. Oh wait. It's the 6th...

There are.... TWO callers ahead of me in line....

This is making me think that there are 2 customer service people, and they're dispatching the callers with a great degree of speed. I hope my call will be just as fast.

There are... ONE caller ahead of me in line...

Ooh. Should I do my hair? Apply lipstick? Wanna look my best for this phone call.

*click* You are the next caller. Please have a pencil and paper ready to record any important information.

[rifles around for a pencil that's not broken to the wood. Ack! No pencils! Where are the pencils?]

*click* Hello!


Oh crap. I just about peed myself when she said "Ah, that passport has been accepted, and is being processed. You can expect it to be sent to you on or around the TWENTY-Foo......"


I interrupted.

Of course, I did.

"It can't be sent on the Twenty fourth. We have to travel on the twenty FIRST."

"Oh, but madam, the processing time for this kind of document is six weeks..."

"WAAAAAAH. You don't understand. That would have been FINE back in JANUARY when I first submitted the passport for renewal. But I was lulled into a false sense of security last month when my passport arrived EIGHT DAYS after my credit card was charged, EVEN THOUGH YOU PUT THE WRONG ADDRESS ON THE DHL ENVELOPE...."

"What? A wrong address?"

So then I got to let them know that I did NOT, in fact, live on SHERBROOKE AVENUE, even though I know that it's a completely valid address in EVERY TOWN IN ONTARIO AND QUEBEC, but, please, I live in California, and I *KNOW* that I didn't put that down on ANY of my paperwork.

"Oh, that is a typo, then, and I will check your paperwork. Yes, you do not have that on your application, and that address is not in the system. But madam, please know that there is a huge volume, and the time frame is long for a reason..."

"Yes, but when I TALKED TO YOU LAST MONTH, someone there said "re-submit with a letter and a photocopy of your travel arrangements, and we will do what we can", and I BELIEVED YOU!"

"Well, madam, I will put a note on the file that you are traveling soon, but if the passport has left the processing, and has gone to printing, it is out of our hands..."

"Waaaaah" (because I'm all mature like that)

"And I would suggest that you call back on Monday or Tuesday, and see if we can give you a tracking number for DHL."

"Wha? Oh, ok. That's still in good time. You rock!"

So now I'm a basket case, because I just went through the "Skip's gonna miss France" wringer yet again, and I got to do it WHILE TALKING ON THE PHONE, (which is something I hate more than fried mushrooms in arsenic sauce, anyways!), and I'm wondering what incredibly bad-for-me food I can eat to take the edge off.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A good sign

So, I may or may not have been obsessively checking my Visa statement online...

So happy to discover this charge posted to my account... FINALLY.

2/27/2008 2/28/2008 PASSPORT/PASSEPORT GATINEAU ON $37.79
2/28/2008 2/28/2008 INTL SRVC FEE - A FIN CHG $1.13

That'd be Passport Canada charging me to PROCESS SKIP'S PASSPORT.

And look at that! The Canadian Dollar seems to be stronger than the American one right now. $37 CDN translates to $37.79 USD. Very interesting. But frankly? I would've been happy to see them charge me a HUNDRED and thirty seven bucks if it means that I don't have to drive up to British Columbia in the next two weeks.

In other news, I'm making a 'test swatch' for the Venezia sweater. I found a couple of skeins of fingering-weight yarn at Full Thread Ahead in Los Altos the other day, and so far it's quite a lot of fun. I cast on for the swatch (which, in an ideal world, will turn into some little clever zippered pouch or something) while I was chaperoning Kelly and a friend at a Play-Test Job that they did at Electronic Arts over the weekend.

Yes, I sent my 8-year-old off to work. I'd tell you all about it, but I signed a non-disclosure agreement, so if I told you, I'd have to hunt you down and kill you, or something. I can say that she went off to work with a smile on her face, and now is spoiled for REAL work any time soon.

Her payment was Sims 2 Pets, which is frustrating me, because we can't figure out how to feed her pet. Isn't this supposed to be fun? I'm mired in the simple acts of getting my Sim to just go potty and have a shower and eat something without killing her. And I have to throw a pet into the mix? This is not going to be good. I want something that just lets me shoot at little sparkly things, and tells me that I'm leveling up at an alarmingly fast rate. This whole 'simulation of real life' is just wearisome.

But back to the knitting.

Venezia is going to kick my butt before I'm done. I have to pay ABSOLUTE attention to the charts, which means that I'm hopeless in conversation and (gasp!) can no longer knit while I'm on the phone, or while watching TV.

What's the fun in that?

I'm going to have to cast on for another pair of vanilla socks. Kelly's purple knee socks are done (except for the kitchenering the toe, which I also cannot do while talking, watching TV, or doing anything other than breathing - and really, if I hold my breath, I have better luck).

We were out at a housewarming party this afternoon. While we were there, another friend of mine came up to me with a big gift bag. "When my son heard that Skip just got a PSP and you were *hopefully* going to be going to France, he thought Skip might like to have a few other games for the long trip..." Yikes! FOUR new PSP games. Skip has no idea. I'm not showing them to him until the morning of the 21st. There's NO WAY that he's going to fart away his studying time between now and then playing on the bounty.

But I suppose it would be only good and right if I, as a properly conscientious mother, did a bit of play-testing of those games ahead of time. Wouldn't want to take anything inappropriate on the trip...

A bowl full of skeins of dishcloth cotton just caught my eye. I think I found my new TV-watching knitting.