CookForGood.com Challenge – day 3 FAIL

I’m trying this challenge and have done well for three days, until last night. I was supposed to make black bean chili and/or some other thing with black beans, but was it didn’t happen. I was tired of smelling them, the sink was full of dishes from the cooking (and eating) for the previous two days, and I really needed a nap before I went out to the “Two Spirits” movie at the LGBTU meeting.

Dinner was supposed to be :

rice and beans with glazed carrots

Dinner ended up being:

reheated potato soup and about 10 homemade salted caramels

Dinner FAIL.

But I did have the pasta and sauce from day 2 for lunch today on day 4. So there’s that.

Dinner for who?

I am making a real good healthy home cooked meal tonight. Tofu braised in Vietnamese caramel sauce over Jasmine rice with a side salad of Daikon radish. Chai bars will be prepared later tonight. Heavenly smells of sugar and shallots and soy are wafting out of the kitchen as I type, and I am slightly sad. Why?

Because I have no-one to eat it with.

I knew this was gonna happen…

… last year, when I wrote about the crazy family member pregnant with her third child, who had just gotten her second taken by CPS. Her first baby was adopted out because she was single when he was born, and he was the product of rape. But that’s another story.

Well, I just got the letter notifying me as a relative that BOTH her (remaining) children were in custody of Child Welfare authorities, and did I have any interest in caring for them? No! As I stated last year, I don’t want to raise children spawned by those parents, and don’t have time, money, or energy to do so, even if I did have the desire.

Also heard from another family member that she (the unfit mother) was currently in the mental ward of the county hospital.

I was pretty sure this was going to happen when I heard she was knocked up last year, and I’m sorry I’m right, but I’m really not surprised at all.

Subsumed by schoolwork

Okay, I’ve been absent for 3/4 of a year. My drive to write has been totally subsumed by my drive to achieve excellence in my classes. And I have achieved. I’ve earned 28.5 credits since last spring, and can boast a GPA of 3.9 and change.

Various knitting projects have been completed this year, but my updates on Ravelry.com have stalled just like this blog.

Perhaps I will be able to rectify my lack of updates this coming semester, as I am taking only 4 serious courses plus a lab instead of 3 serious and 4 not-so-serious plus a lab. I’m a little concerned that I will find one of my classes particularly tough, not having taken the prerequisite in this decade, or the last, but the one previous to that. However, I am hoping my recall is good enough to struggle through. And I think it will be.

Failure to Thrive

I had a dream about this situation last night, so it is clearly weighing on my mind. Perhaps writing here will clear it out of my head.

I have a young relative who has already put her first baby up for adoption, has a second young child (21 months old) that she kept and is pregnant with her third. She is unemployed; her second husband (daddy of the 2nd and 3rd babies) has a terrible job that pays him about $100 per week. Yes, I said per week! That’s $400 per month, and out of that he must pay child support for his other 4 kids as well. Yes, this idiot has 6 kids (well, 5 and one on the way) and no skills. Besides getting in the pants of stupid, gullible girls, that is.

Anyway, since he can’t support her, she and her toddler (and up until recently, her 2nd husband) have been living with her first husband’s house. Creepy, eh? And it gets better. He (first hubby) is old enough to be her father. And there are rumors that his first ex-wife wants to move back in with him. I don’t know where that would leave his second ex-wife, my relative. She has no education and no coping skills thanks to a wacky uber-religious upbringing, but that’s not today’s story.

The current crisis relates to the toddler. This child has just been removed from the house by Child Welfare authorities for “failure to thrive”. This is not a surprise to me, having seen the environment. The first husband’s house is a microscopic former “basement house” with a ground level addition. The kitchen is tiny and stinky and crusted with filth. It’s located in the original basement part of the house, too, so there’s a funky mildewed odor on top of the nasty smells of over processed bachelor food, which is all I saw in the grimy fridge on the one visit I made to the property. A child cannot grow on cold cuts and yellow mustard and pop.

The upstairs has 3 miniscule bedrooms and a smallish living room that stinks of smoke. Despite the outdoor deck, both men smoked in the house with the baby present. The stairs to the basement are a hazard; the single bathroom is cramped and outdated almost as badly as the 1930s fixtures in the kitchen. There was no open area for 2nd baby to play, even in her room, as her loopy mother had splurged on expensive furniture that took up all the space in the room, and spent hundreds of dollars that would have been better spent on fresh milk and vegetables, and cleaning supplies.

Meanwhile, the mom is claiming that her toddler has every disease and condition under the sun, and according to another family member, has a history of taking the little sprite to the emergency room every couple weeks or so for whatever the health scare of the month is. Mom is acting a little like she has Munchhausen’s by Proxy – she claimed at one point that baby had gluten intolerance, yet continued to feed her tyke crackers while said baby was in the hospital (where, BTW, medical personnel confirmed that no such condition existed to my other relative I heard this from).

So now there will be a court date to determine if the toddler was failing to thrive because of the care she was getting, or not getting, at home. She is in foster custody for the two weeks before that date, and will be evaluated to see if progress has been made while she was living out of her weird-ass family home. I’m afraid she will, and that would mean that she will be taken away from her mom. If that happens, I can’t see the fate of the third baby ending up any better.

If the court removes baby #2 from the house, they would prefer to place her with family, but none of us are equipped to deal with a toddler, especially if she does turn out to be developmentally delayed. I, for one, would not want to waste my time on the offspring of a loser like her dad, and would have a tough time dealing with her if she turns out needy, clingy, and emotionally volatile like her mother. My baby is now in middle school, and I have just gone back to college. I will not interrupt the path I am on now to bail out someone else for their life mistakes – I have enough on my plate dealing with my own mistakes and their consequences.

I’m terribly sad for the baby that she had to be born to a looney and a deadbeat. I met a foster family once, as was appalled by how mercenary they were. They viewed the children with some compassion, but it was a very superior, snooty “we’re better than the family you were taken away from” attitude, and behind it I could see lurking the calculation of how many checks from Child Welfare it would take before they could buy the next bedroom suite or big screen TV for their own offspring.

Sadly, that is still a better environment than the one she is in now. I must provide for myself and my own offspring. This relative’s baby I must entrust to the social contracts we have set up in the past century or so, to ensure that the children of terrible parents do no suffer too much for the accident of being born to those parents. I must trust this little sprite, this elf-faced cherub, to the agencies that have been created to carry out that work.

I don’t feel good about it, but I’m resigned to the fact that it may have to happen. Best of luck to you, baby #2.

No job, 2 classes.

I got an email on Friday the 9th that Big Energy was not able to hire anyone for that job at this time. Same thing they told me after my other interview back in October. Soooooo……..

I am now enrolled at U of A and have 2 classes this semester: English Comp. II and Cultural Anthropology. I signed up for the classes at orientation on the 9th, and got pretty excited by the prospect of going to school again. Plus this University is much nicer and bigger than the Urban Commuter State University I attended 20 years ago in the rust-belt city where I grew up. And cleaner. And newer. And better organized. And nicer.

Holding My Breath…

Went for a second interview at Big Energy company today. It’s down to me and another person, just like it was several months ago when I applied for the hospital job the other guy got. I got a “Dear John” postcard from the hospital. Hope Big Energy is better to me…

(IreallywantthejobIreallyneedthejobIreallywantthejobIreallyneedthejob)

Fabulous Friday!

Just to catch up on the events from the past month:

I’d interviewed (on Oct 30th) by phone with Big Energy, and was a perfect fit for the job. I’d done the exact same job at Highly Recognisable Multinational Manufacturing company, and the guy at B.E. was delighted to find someone who was familiar with the programs used by the SNOC (System and Network Operations Center). BUT… the economic downturn had caused a hiring freeze at B.E., so they were unable to hire another contracter at this time, and would probably not offer another position until July 2009.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving at Aunt J’s house. All the aunties, an uncle, and my parents were in the kitchen. Uncle B was explaining to my father how his hematocrit was down to 10 at some point during the progression of his disease (years ago – he’s better now) due to a very slow internal bleed, and Dad couldn’t understand how he wasn’t passing out from lack of blood. I explained that the blood volume was replenished quite quickly by intracellular and extracellular fluid (it’s basically the same fluid as plasma, just changes names depending on where in the body it’s located, and moves pretty freely to wherever it’s needed). The red blood cells, on the other hand, took weeks to be produced by the bone marrow. So a slow bleed could dramatically alter the makeup of the blood due to the various components of the blood being replaced on vastly different timetables.

Which is when Aunt J stopped in the middle of what she was doing, looked at me in amazement, and said “Maghag, WHY are you not a doctor or a nurse?” and basically told me to get my butt back to college.

And considering that she went back to school after her kids were grown and got her PhD just before her 50th birthday, and is now globetrotting for a major Pharmaceutic Manufacturer, and enjoying the heck out of it, she’s in a position to tell me to do the same.

So I got home from Turkey Day and applied for admission at University of Anonymous-city-where-I-live.

Fast forward again, to yesterday, Friday:

I finally got an email saying I’d been accepted to the UofA, and classes start Jan 12th, with orientation on Jan 6th. But I ALSO got a call from Big Energy saying one of their contractors had put in a resignation and they’d been given the green light to “back-fill” that position, so would I please come in for a face-to-face interview on Jan 5th.

When it rains, it pours…

Mis-shapen Mittens

I am having real problems with this pattern. I am TRYING to knit a pair of very cute mittens for my DD out of Norah Gaughan’s “Knitting Nature” book. The “Target Wave” mittens look very good in the picture, but I have run into several problems in real life.

First, the gauge is not coming out right – the large size should measure 9 1/4 from cuff to tip, and mine is a full inch short of that measure.

Second, the direction to pick up 58 stitches turns out to be WAY too many – there’s some real puckering and rippling going on in the thumb gusset. I will try these again with 52 or perhaps 48 stitches picked up.

Third, the decreases are not regular. The pattern calls for a straight row of knitting (well, purling) after the stitches are picked up, then a decrease row, then THREE rows of straight knitting before another decrease. Anyone whose hands are shaped the way MY mitten came out after following those directions must have the meatiest thumb base ever. We’re talking Guiness Book of World Records large. I think I’ll do a decrease every second row, and shoot for 8 decrease stitches per round to try and keep the gusset flat and lined up with the side of the mitten instead of having it bulge out like the base end of a willy warmer.

Fourth, speaking of willy warmers, the thumb ended up looking like one. A small one, but still. The thumb is NOT supposed to reach to the tip of the mitten under ANY circumstance. Unless, of course, the aforementioned Guiness Book-qualifying hand had TWO abnormalities.

My only conclusion is that the instructions for the large size must have been skipped by the technical editor. The difference between the small and large mitten hands is 6 rows, or one inch (according to gauge. The difference between the small and large thumb is 8 (EIGHT!) rows. Why on earth would the thumb get longer FASTER than the hand as the size goes up?

So I will cut back about 6 rows or so off the length of the thumb, pick up fewer stitches, and decrease more dramatically. I think I’ll also go up a size of needle to see if I can match the row gauge better. Wish me luck!

Job Hunt

So I had 3 interviews scheduled this week. 2 were with staffing/recruiting firms, both of which had jobs posted on online job boards. I sent in electronic applications for those jobs (and many others) and got calls to schedule interviews by the two staffing firms in question so they could figure out if I was a candidate they wanted to “sell” to one of their clients. The other scheduled interview was with an actual company that had seen my resume posted online and called me to see if I was interested in their opening.

All three appointments were set on Monday. Tuesday I went to the first staffing firm and had a great interview with a lovely young lady who liked my hand-knitted socks, and told me how her cousin was making a living knitting one-of-a-kind bags and selling them for $300 a pop in Hollywood. Oh, and I was a great fit for the job, too.

Wednesday was busy. I was sitting in the lobby of the second staffing firm when I got a call from “Big Energy” company, the client from the first staffing firm. Long story short, phone interview was set up with BE for Thursday (today) after interview with “Actual Company” that had called me. Went on to interview with second staffing firm (who I’d had a rather dismissive interview with a year earlier), and the interviewer seemed to really like me this time. Probably my year with “Highly Recognizable Multinational Manufacturing” company helped. Yep. Nothin’ like working for a company that’s been around for over a century and had so much stuff in this town named after it: HRMM Heights, HRMM Boulevard, HRMM Logo Lake, etc. etc.

I was high as a kite. Wait. Make that: I was high as the HRMM dirigible.

Of course, here’s where the universe had to let a little air out of my balloon. I got a call later in the afternoon from Actual Company, saying that “something had come up” and they were no longer hiring, so they were cancelling my interview. Phooey. I wonder if it’s the same credit crunch that the owner of the company my hubby works at, “Perishable Construction Material Supplier”, is complaining about, and using as justification for her attempt to jhack up our health insurance premiums by 200%.

Yes, I know I spelled “jack up” wrong, but given the circumstances, it looked appropriate.  

So back to my point from the last post: degree snobbery in hiring. How come when I applied for the BE position 2 months ago, I didn’t hear a thing from them, but when a staffing firm writes me up, I get a call in less than 24 hours? Is it degree snobbery? Is it preference for a candidate that’s been “vetted” by a staffing firm? If so, then why in the world did they post the stinking job on Craig’s list themselves? Or could that have been a previous staffing firm getting creative? Perhaps BE is just getting less selective as the job is not getting filled for month after month?

I just hope they make me an offer, and then I hope that “Global Online Parts Supplier”, the company second staffing firm wants to place me with, offers more. The hours would stink either way – 12 hour overnight shifts 3 or 4 times a week – but the perks sounded better with GOPS than with BE and depending on the BE location I’d be working at, the commute would only be 10-15 minutes longer to get to GOPS.

Wish me luck!

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