Since I haven't answered the last three questions for SP12, let me begin by answering one of them. This isn't the current one - I really don't have an answer for it - so I took the question before it. I'm sorry to my pal for making her wait.
What is the best thing you've ever received in the mail/post? I get so many things in the mail that this was a tough one. After thinking about it, I have to say that my swap pal gifts are the best things I receive. To think that someone took the time to put together a package just for me, sometimes with hand-knitted items (like socks), handmade cards, goodies that they knew I would love - those kinds of things bring me to my knees and make me cry. I have a dear friend in England who sometimes sends me little presents, and I also adore those. My 50th birthday was stellar - I got all kinds of unexpected gifts from friends all over the world. It was really something.
Now that I've answered my question and been a good do-bee, I'm about to collapse. Yesterday was one of the most heart-wrenching, exhausting, emotionally draining days I've had in a long time. Yes, it was prison day.
It didn't start out well. I got to the guard shack five minutes early and waited to see if Bill would pick me up. After realizing that he might not show up, I left him a message on his voicemail telling him that I was taking the taxi to the sally port and would be walking from there to C Block. I figured that he would pick me up at the port or somewhere along the way. So I got on the taxi and headed out. At least I got a driver who kept hitting on me. There's nothing to jack up my ego like a young man telling me that I'm hot.
After getting to the port, I went through all the usual machinations and got through. Still no Bill. So I began the hike down to the block. No Bill. He still wasn't in sight when I got to the block, so I thought maybe he had taken the day off. My boys were waiting for me when I got there, but something felt strange. We walked down to the chapel, I went inside and turned on the lights (Bill's office was dark), and entered the main office. Then it hit me; the entire office was completely redone, and the computers, printer, and many other things were missing. Hm.
After my boys got inside (I had to call the towers to get them released, and even those CO's hit on me), I hugged everybody and asked what was going on. It turns out that on one of the days I was supposed to be there, there was a raid. One of the religious groups had stashed quite a bit of contraband inside the TV. In the inmates' cells, the TV housings are clear so the CO's can see inside them. The TV's in the chapel, however, aren't clear. They're fairly large so the entire group can see what's being shown. Anyway, there was a box inside the TV which contained cell phones (including Blackberries), smut, and about 100 box cutters. Once the captain saw that, she went apeshit and had the CO's tear the place apart. One of my boys, who worked in the chapel and used the computer all the time, had been putting things on his computer for years which weren't allowed (we're talking beaver shots and all kinds of other things); the computer in use was also a higher grade than what the captain used. The upshot was that this particular religious group was kicked out of the chapel, and the man in my group was immediately fired from his job, banned from the chapel, and the computer confiscated. So now, not only was he hot, but every body else in the chapel was suspect, including me. It was an eerie feeling knowing that the CO's might come bursting in the door at any time with guns drawn.
The class went really well. I played one of the songs off my CD for the guys; they were absolutely silent while it played and looked at me like I was a rock goddess or something. Then they got feisty because they hadn't seen me for so long (that part was fun - they're hilarious). I had two new boys who didn't know how to play, so I spent some time with them getting them started and giving them homework. We all played duets for the remainder of the class, and then I had to wait to leave because Bill hadn't called the towers to come escort the men out. In the meantime, Hubster had called to say he was waiting for me (we brought Emma this time so she could enjoy being with us), and I figured that it was just him letting me know that he was ready. I was dead wrong and will get to that in a minute.
One of my boys, my young one who's down for four life sentences, seemed out of sorts. I talked to him while we were waiting and finally got him to tell me what was wrong. He's having a hard time doing his time (he's not eligible for parole until 2021 and has only been there for six months), and was absolutely devastated when one of my other boys told him that the first five years are the hardest. He just about collapsed. I talked to him and told him to talk to the old-timers about how to do good time, how to escape the bars inside his head, and to not let his time do him. He finally agreed to work on it, but still seemed really bummed. Then I found out the real reason. He has nobody to come see him. His mother died when he was little, and her side of the family is in Texas. His father doesn't come at all, nor do any of that side of the family. So here's this young man who's all alone in a prison where they eat you alive for breakfast. Then he said it: "I want my mama." I opened my arms and he rushed into them, sobbing on my shoulder. I told him that he can talk to me any time he wishes, to pull me aside if he needs some comfort, that I'm not really his mama but can substitute for her as best as I can. That calmed him down, and he now is calling me "Mama". It was heartbreaking.
After all this, we finally got out of the chapel. I said good-bye to everybody and got in the golf cart. We headed out of the prison and down into the parking lot where we intercepted Hubster driving towards us. I got into the truck and encountered the next major problem of the day.
Hubster was ill. I mean ILL.
We stopped at a gas station for a drink, and he told me that he had barfed two times since he dropped me off. I got behind the wheel to see if I could drive us home, but realized that I wasn't going to be able to do it. I was so sleepy that I could barely keep my eyes open. We got on the freeway and hadn't gone more than 10 miles when he yelled for me to pull over. I cut across two lanes of traffic, shot off one of the exit ramps, and pulled off into the dirt. He barely got the door open before he was on his knees barfing up everything in his stomach. I drove for a little longer and finally told him that I couldn't do it, so he traded places. I instantly fell asleep and learned when we got home that he had to pull over three more times. He did it four more times in two hours after we were home, so I called the doctor to try and get him some help. Then I got really pissed off because our doctor, whom I've gone to since I was 18 and Hubster has seen since we got married, refused to call in a script because he hadn't seen Hubster in a while. Fine. I made an appointment for him this morning and went to clean up the bathroom. Hubster slept for most of the afternoon and evening, woke up at around 8 a.m., and said he felt great. He had some coffee, I made him an omelet, and he was able to eat it and keep it all down. Then he called the doctor to tell him he was fine. This is like the third time this has happened in the past couple of months, so I don't know what's going on. If it happens again, though, I'm taking him straight to the emergency room. I think he's not getting enough sleep and gets run down, but it shouldn't keep happening. I stayed up all night keeping an eye on him, so now I'm absolutely spent. We have to take Emma to the vet this afternoon, too, so I have to be somewhat coherent. I might change the appointment for later this week - I think we're both dead.
I've been working on the shop and have been trying to implement many of the suggestions which were left on the Crochet and Knit Giveaway (you still have time to enter). One of the things people asked for were crochet hooks. I'm delighted to say that I've successfully signed on an artist who makes OOAK hooks, some with jewels, some with stones, some with exotic woods. They're gorgeous and reasonably priced. As soon as they arrive, I'll list them. I'm also getting in some yarn caddies - they're egg-shaped plastic containers which sit in a wooden stand; you put your yarn inside, place the stand close to where you're working, and it protects your yarn from pets, kids, and dust. They're also very reasonably priced. I've got roving, larger-gauge yarns, more goodies from KaratStix, new stitch markers, lip balm, hopefully soap, and all kinds of new items just in time for the holiday season. Check often, and if you're not signed up for the newsletter, please do so. You sign up on the shop site. We also have that cool new search/browse feature which people seem to like.
One of the things I can't do is knit up a little of each skein so people can see how it looks. A lot of people wanted a little swatch knitted; I just can't take yarn from a skein and make a one. Most of those skeins are OOAK and have set yardage. Besides, knitting up a swatch won't show you how the yarn will behave; it acts differently when knit into something larger, and you really have to knit quite a bit so you can see how the colors will interact. I also don't have the time to knit up a swatch for each skein - look at the number of skeins I carry! There were also suggestions that I list information about the fiber content, size, etc. I already do that on each item page. In fact, several of the suggestions are things which are already in place. I think that people may be missing them because there's so much to see.
Maybe I did my job a little too well. :)