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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good: I got some wonderful, beautiful, stunning, fabulous fiber from Amy. She and I have been known to swap fibers on occasion; this is mostly because every so often, you want to eat someone else’s cooking, even if you’re a nitpicky shrew who likes things just so (that would be me, not Amy). We like each other’s cooking — that is, fiber work — quite a bit, so these little swaps and surprise gifts are always a major treat.

Of this particular fiber, Amy says, “I made these batts with you in mind – then I thought they had too much grease so I wasn’t going to send it. Then I sampled it and knew you had to have it. The content is CVM from a prizewinner at 2007 Rhinebeck but I also blended in some soy silk. I hope you like them as much as I did.”

Truth to tell, I was slobbering before I even found her note explaining. These batts are just… so stunning. I just can’t tell you how stunning they are. And unfortunately, here’s the first The Bad: I also, apparently, cannot make a picture remotely come close to doing them justice. This one is probably the best.

But it’s totally unable to convey why — and this is The Ugly — I bumped the spinning that I needed to be doing for work, and started spinning this, for me, instead.

That doesn’t do it either. They’re a gray-green base with mild tweed elements of both colour and texture, and natural coloured flashes of soy silk. They’re frothy like way-too-rich-mousse that has a definite whipped texture to it but is also heavy and substantial. They’re so good. So very, very good.

It breaks my heart that I cannot show you how fabulous these are. You all need to come over so I can shove them in your hands. And if you are coming over, please bring coffee. Strong coffee. Once the manchild was off to school, I started to take a look at my list for the day. Bear with me, please.

For a typical work week, I generally try to stick to a breakdown of “Production: 12-24 hours; Operations: 10-12 hours; Development: 12-20 hours.” Total work hours in a typical week: 32 – 56.

Production is things like dyeing silk, or producing yarn and fiber for sale.

Operations is stuff like packing, shipping, inventory, accounting, routine correspondence.

Development is writing, patterns, product testing, market research, and some correspondence.

Like I said in January 2007.

Both production and development have strong risks of slopping over into my personal life; in some cases this is acceptable and in other cases, it’s not — but that’s a whole new range of stuff to talk about, best left for another day. For now, suffice it to say I’m figuring a slack week is 30-some-odd hours of work, a busy week maybe as much as 60; with average weeks somewhere in the “around 40 work hours” range. The big tricky issue for me, really, is how to limit time and be focused; I have a tendency to just work nonstop, whatever I’m doing, and that’s what needs controlling most in my life.

The good news is… um, I have this concept, and in theory, sold my boss on it. The bad news is I haven’t been experiencing nearly as many slack weeks as busy weeks. Or maybe that’s the good news. Or it’s both. In a perfect world, if I have a week with big development, then I do a leaner production week. Or something. You know, so it all balances out. I haven’t been so great about balance. I haven’t been so great about keeping work from taking over my personal life. And the ugly, well.

I need to stop frantically, reactively working, and commit an act of neatness in my office. I need to do this badly, and there is simply not going to be TIME for at least a week. This situation is entirely untenable and yet I have to live with it for a while, till I can get the space to figure out where to store the old 21″ monitor, answer paper correspondence and file it, be honest with myself and move out some yarn, and that kind of thing.

In my office, there are kid school papers, some of which are keepers and some of which are trash. There is mending I need to do. There are near-finished projects because I suck at finishing things. There are areas which were pristinely tidy until a cat decided to go haywire there, and now, it’s cascading chaos. There are things I’ve left out and acccessible which don’t need to be out and accessible because I haven’t touched them in a year. There are things I meant to hang on the wall. There is stuff I can’t find. There are even two empty beer bottles from last night, which I did not take down to the kitchen and dispose of before crashing. More than the empty beer bottles being there, though, there is the situation of which this is proof: late-night drinking at the office, while working. That is a sure sign of “omigod, take some time off, or else.”

But on the bright side, I did find J. Jonah.

The manchild gave me J. Jonah Jameson here for Christmas some years back. He has stayed in his packaging, because his packaging proclaims that he has an amazing super power. He does. He has Desk Pounding Action. No lie. He has lived on every desk I’ve had ever since.

I have to come clean here, and explain that J. Jonah Jameson — Peter Parker’s overstressed and temperamental newspaper editor boss, who hires him on a freelance basis to take photos of Parker’s own alter ego, Spider-Man — has long represented a lot of things about my own work life for me. J. Jonah’s not easy to work for, but the truth is he’s not a bad guy at all. He has standards and expectations that are arguably impossible for mere mortals to meet, but, um, but something. I’m sure I justify that somehow. He puts Peter Parker to work, doing outrageous things nobody else could do, seemingly unaware and uncaring about that, interested only in results, unaware of Parker’s bizarre work-life balance issues and dual identity and the moral wrangling Parker must do. J. Jonah never stops moving, and he’s the kind of guy who, as in the first of the recent Spider-Man movies, feels it is important to counter an accusation of libel by saying “No, it’s slander, libel is printed.”

Plus, he has DESK. POUNDING. ACTION.

My boss — my own alter ego — secretly worships J. Jonah Jameson.

But, so moving right along, the J. Jonah in me has apparently failed to be concerned about my own schedule, demanding that I perform on command and simply deal with the laundry later. This morning, I went into the laundry room to see how that was working out. The good:

Paimei is very comfy on the high shelf. That’s good. The bad, of course, is that he is atop some hand-wash-only items and handknits in need of minor repairs. And the ugly, well.

I made a horrible mistake. I forgot to move the last load of laundry last night, and now the load in the washer at left will have to be re-washed. What’s particularly ugly about this is that I’m not sure “forgot” is entirely honest, because the truth is more like “would have had to fold stuff presently taking up the laundry basket, and put it away,” and instead, I was drinking beer in my office and editing photos. This is a clear failure of work-life balance. It’s ugly.

Moving right along though, there is some good news. Momentarily, I’ll be getting a box of batts shipped off to Beth at The Spinning Loft for her to sell. Once that’s done, I’m going to be making another giant box of batts for Amy to sell at Spunky Eclectic. Let’s hear it for my very exclusive dealer network!

The bad, unsurprisingly…

…is that this is a lot of work, and my studio isn’t in any better shape than my office. The ugly is that it may even be in worse shape.

Truth hurts. Let’s look at “good” again.

Those Amy batts spin up nice too. Again, photos don’t do it justice. Hey, the sun’s out! Maybe I can take it outside! Oh, right, but the bad news is, the sun may be out, but we’re back to winter temperatures (or just above). I’m so ready to be done with winter. And the ugly is, well, look:

I should be doing stuff with things that are in those boxes, instead of using them to keep me from gaining access to the closet, where potentially, I might even be able to store things that are making it impossible to straighten my office. But I won’t know until I get in there, which at this point, will require a game of Tetris. So, later.

In other good news, I think I like these beads on this little shawl, which is done except for the beads, which I’m sewing on.

They’re more iridescent than this flash photo shows, and when I finish the thing, you’ll see how awesome it is. But the bad is…

…I not only seem to not be finishing it right now, but I seem to have draped it atop my to-be-filed file to look at, and then covered it with other projects. And what’s ugly is that the box of beads now seems to be lost on my desk. It’s probably under the unfinished hat.

But, you know, in good news, I’ve pruned my inbox down to 399 emails. 399! This is fabulous. Of course, the bad news is that they’re all emails which need answering. And the ugly? Well, some of them are getting stale, and call for long answers, and I won’t be getting to those today either.

Ahem. Indeed. What more really need be said? I’d try to explain, but my inner J. Jonah is exercising DESK POUNDING ACTION and demanding results, so I’m afraid we’re all out of time here. And don’t tell Mr. Jameson, but I might also be out of clean socks, so I have to go brave Mount Laundry to find out. If you haven’t heard from me by Monday, send help. With coffee.

27 thoughts on “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

  1. Oooh….wow…I think I would go into fiber overload at your house! All in all, it’s a nice problem to have. You could be watching Days of Our Lives and doing laundry all day. Bor-ring!

  2. Oh, I so totally empathize, in any number of ways! My work-life balance is currently exemplified by the dust-elephants in all the corners (dust bunnies doesn’t do them justice, though I realize elephant doesn’t convey the true impact of a mound of husky fur. Woolly Mammoth, maybe?) and the stack of papers I’m toting around everywhere I go and making little progress on.

    Plus, of course, the to-do list, which has things like:
    -excavate the corner of the studio where I think the sock yarn might be so I can skein some to dye. If it’s any consolation, my work space looks waaay worse than yours. I wish I had a photo!
    -finish major big-time work project that was technically due last week.

    and so on.

    I think your proposed time-breakdown sounds lovely. Mine currently involves working 50-60 hours a week at “real job”, then spending the time left over in a microcosm of your time allocation, trying to get a small fiber business off the ground. Laundry? House cleaning? Hah! Although I think I must perform the first lawn-mowing of spring real soon now. Maintenance tasks the municipality will fine you for neglecting do somehow get done.

  3. P.S. I’m glad you dared!

  4. Very enjoyable tour through someone else’s overwhelming life … when I should be taking some of the “whelm” out of my own work day!

  5. and your life is different from the rest of us…how? (said with humor…please laugh!)

    Just picked up the April/May issue of Quilting Arts…I don’t quilt, but I love this magazine because it has inspiring art/design/color articles. My favorite article in the new one: organizing your studio.

    You know, we really do deserve to have inspiring workspaces. You too, Abby!! (Notice there are no pictures of my workspace on the blog!)

  6. I fell in love with CVM this weekend at the Fiber Event in Indiana. I got four ounces of a rich brown with silk blended in and four of 100% cvm more in the shade you pictured. It’s just yummy.

  7. Oh, that looks SO much like my house! Except my “studio” is also the 800 square foot 2 bedroom apartment I share with my family of four (plus Irish Wolfhound and cat). I recently had the brilliant idea to expand into yarn dyeing…. I tried to start slow, but it went well and the boxes just keep piling up and I am a little afraid… 🙂 The dog can’t actually turn around anymore.

    Life balance?? I keep making charts and schedules and abandoning them for “unforseen circumstances” within a week or two. Maybe I need more realistic foresight.

  8. Thanks for putting this out there. I don’t feel quite so alone, noticing the two beer bottles on my own “worktable” now.

    My workspace is in need of an intervention, and I’m afraid I’m the only one who’s going to be forced to do it, eventually.

  9. I have that mug. I think I’ll take that mug to work with me today.

  10. If I lived near you I would totally come over and help you out! I have a brand new puppy, and he’s preventing me from getting anything done. Showering, cleaning, dishes, laundry, cooking. At least he’s cute. I hope one day I can pull my wheel back out from its hiding place.

  11. Ha! It’s nice to see that I’m not the only one that receives presents from a boy child that the boy child specifically wants themselves. Remember the old adage “buy for someone else what you would like to buy for yourself”? Yeah, that’s my eldest’s philosophy. Except I get computer games. He and I waste a lot of time on those together and he almost always “has” to take over. 🙂

    Good luck on your cleaning. When you get finished I’ll let you come over to my house and clean my office!

  12. big hugs and can I please have your coffee cup? xx

  13. ahem. Please hit delete on that little missive you got today from a spindler with silly questions. She’ll be sure to ask later.

    Thanks for the peek at the batts for Beth’s shop!

  14. Oh rats, those aren’t the batts. Well, at least if I never see Beth’s batts, maybe I’ll get to see Amy’s someday….

  15. Where did you get that mug? I want one for work.

  16. Thats your mess????

    Wow if I had that mess I’d be laughing.

    My mess is WAY bigger then your mess.

    So is the yarn that I spin. Way bigger than yours.

    I raise you your mess, 1 dog, more kids, AND a broken dryer,(the one that just got fixed).

    But I have coffee. nawnaw naw naw naw.

  17. Geez, Abby, you were describing MY place. When I get working on a project, like the spindle boxes, I end up letting every thing else slide. It’s pretty ugly right now. I was all proud of myself earlier this week when I managed to get most of the dishes done. Sad.

    I’d like very much to see those batts. I’m a sucker for fiber pron just the next guy. 🙂

  18. Welcome to the real world. I don’t wanna be a grownup anymore either.

    On the good side, sign-ups for SOAR start tomorrow!

  19. Meep.

    But at least you kinda like what you do 😉

    My sympathies on the chaos too, it is not something I am good at dealing with either.

  20. The whole J. Jonah Jameson story is priceless!!!
    Goodluck on dealing with the chaos, it really is the frustrating part that comes with being a grownup. What bothers me most is that it never seems to be “done”.

  21. Abigail. That mess is disgraceful. You must immediately take steps to empty your house of this foolishness. I will make the sacrifice to help you. Send everything in the blue/red/purple/pink range to me at…..

    (did it work?)

  22. Wouldn’t the folks on “Clean Sweep” just love us all?

    Seriously, I suspect that I will have to do what they do on that show in order to get a grip on my studio/office/sewing room/storage space (AKA The Sewing Room Hellhole). That is, take every single thing out and lay it on a tarp in the yard while someone else builds shelves & cupboards (HA!) Then sort into “keep” “throw away” “sell” piles. Only I would only have one pile.

    You have my sympathy. I have no deadlines other than self-imposed ones, which I regularly ignore. I couldn’t do this as actual Work. Maybe you should ask your boss for a vacation day or two? Tee hee…

  23. LOL!!! I love the mug! I’ve been a lurker as far as reading your blog goes, but I have to tell you that your post cracked me up so much that I had to comment. I just found myself nodding my head to all the talk about trying to find a balance, cracking up at the laundry and mess (Let me tell ya, you’re not the only one who has had to rewash laundry because it was forgotten in the washer!) I find myself fighting this same battle every fiber festival season. Trying to find the balance. It sounds so easy and it’s so darn hard. People just don’t understand how hard it is to juggle everything necessary to work from home, while trying to keep your sanity and family. They think because you’re home all day you have all the time in the world. Yeah right! Good luck on your mission Abby. I’ll leave you with my grandmother’s (She had eight kids, and helped raise 7 more!!!) words of wisdom, “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.”

  24. Wow. And I thought I was busy! By the way, the batts from Amy do look beutiful, the shawl is looking great, and thank goodness for J. Jonah Jameson!

  25. HaHAAAAAAA!!!! Oh my goodness, I don’t even know you, just stumbled upon your blog, and I have just read this post while laughing out loud and nodding madly, because it’s a perfect description of my own day to day life! Thank you so much for sharing and for making my day… I need steer my husband in the direction of this post to show him that ‘oh look, see, I’m not the only one!’

    Gosh, amazing shawl BTW… would you mind sharing how you made it? I just love that loose knitted look!

    ~Roo~

  26. oh, how I wish I could come play at your house! I have also been procrastinating all day, also over something I thought would be my dream job (I’m a set designer). But all I want to do is spin and spin. And do chores. And of course the cat needs to be pet. Anything to keep me from building my model.

    At least I know I’m not alone! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  27. If you haven’t figured out what to do with the monitor yet, I recommend Freecycle… it’s great for getting rid of stuff you’re too lazy to try selling (or think that no one in their right mind would buy), but you hate to send to the dump. Freecycle is great: you post the item you wish wasn’t cluttering up your space, dozens of people instantly clamour for it, and then you select one to come pick it up at a time mutually convenient.

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