Listening to Alice's Restaurant on Thanksgiving Day. Somehow we missed that one this year. Maybe we will do it on Christmas instead. One year #1 Son spent T'day with a friend and her family who had never heard Alice's Restaurant. He introduced them to the tradition.
Not having turkey on Thanksgiving or Christmas. I am the only one who likes turkey, so we go non-traditional these days. In the years when #1 Son came home for Thanksgiving we had ribs and sauerkraut. Last year it was enchiladas. One year only #2 Son and I were home, so we volunteered at local church that serves a free will turkey feast. This year it was a beef roast in the crock pot (the meat is nothing special, having given up all its flavor to the gravy, but the gravy is to die for) and roasted root vegies, cheesecake (purchased) with blueberry sauce (homemade).
Addressing the Christmas cards on the evening before Thanksgiving while the pies are baking.This one was just me and was relatively short-lived, only for a few years in the early 1990s. Then we started writing a Christmas letter instead, and that takes weeks.
Smokey writes the first draft of the Christmas letter and I edit, add, and insert photos. He is so much more verbal than I, and I am an excellent editor if I do say so myself.
Taking turns opening Christmas gifts one at a time so everyone can see and admire. I love watching everyone open their gifts.
Christmas dinner sponsored by a local civic group at a beautiful lodge in the next village over. The boys and I have done that several years. (I used to love to cook, but big holiday meals are too much work for my lazy a$$ these days.)
Spending Christmas with both sons here together. Who knows how many years we will able to do that? Now we have added BGFE to the mix, and it is better than ever.
Watching Love Actually. Such a sweet movie that happens to be set at Christmas.
Not decorating for Christmas. I used to do the whole enchilada -- a lighted wreath on the door, one year a lighted swag around the entrance, the tree, a Christmas village on the mantel, a couple of framed needlepoint nutcrackers (made when I was in my needlepoint phase) on the wall where the clock usually hung, mistletoe in the doorway, electric candles in the all the windows. Now all that work makes me tired just to think about. I hang a wreath on the door and Smokey brings home a poinsettia or two in late November. Some years we have a tree, some years we do not. The tree is still up from last year (obviously an artifial one; prelit and still decorated); I need to blow the dust off it.
Not traveling far, far away for the holidays. From the mid-80s to the mid-90s we went to Florida for two weeks every year to spend the holidays with Smokey's parents. Some years we also spent part of those two weeks camping in the Keys. Imagine doing all the usual getting-ready-for-Christmas stuff, plus packing for a two-week trip with two small children, plus sometimes also packing for a camping trip. I know it may be difficult for you to feel sorry for anyone who gets two weeks in Florida in the winter, but the whole thing was a lot of work. I loved being there and being with my in-laws and having my children spend lots of time with their grandparents; it was the weeks beforehand that were annoying.
Back when I was a teenager I spent two Christmas seasons wrapping gifts in the little department store in my home town. That taught me how to wrap efficiently and tidily, although our results (my best friend and I worked there together) pale when compared to the gift-wrapping you might get at Saks or Macy's or Nordstrom. It has always surprised me how long it takes to wrap gifts. It seems like once the thinking and the deciding and the schlepping from store to store (in the old days) and the internet shopping (now) and the buying is done, the last step should be over in a snap. This year it seemed to go quickly, maybe because I knew it would take a while or maybe because there were not all that many presents to wrap or maybe because I was listening to an audio book (last bit of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, then Bill Bryson's At Home: A Short History of Private Life, thanks for asking). Anyway, the task is done for another year.
Note: The Leinie's box visible in the background is NOT a Christmas gift. It just happened to be sitting in the right spot to look that way. (If you are not from the Upper Midwest, you may not know about Leinie's. Follow the link to become informed.)
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You may have noticed the balls on the bottom shelf of my cart. They are the FO in the title, dryer balls that I made. We have used dryer sheets forever, but I heard about using wadded-up balls of aluminum foil to eliminate static electricity so I tried those. Two foil balls didn't seem to reduce the static much, and I started to have bits of aluminum foil all over the laundry room. Apparently a ball of wadded-up aluminum foil doesn't last forever -- who knew?
But felted yarn balls? Perfect project for a knitter with some extra yarn. Brown, purple, and dark green. I chose dark colors to avoid any possibility of adding lint to the dark loads. My dryer sucks at removing lint.
Three felted balls, however, were not enough -- still had static cling. So I made some more. Blue, maroon, and black, at left.
I haven't done laundry since I made them so I don't know whether six balls will work any better than three. Stay tuned. They were fun to make, though :)
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No word on the CT scan yet. Thanks for all the good wishes! My doc finally called me today to tell me she cannot find the results in my chart.
The scan was done at a hospital in MN that is in a completely different health care conglomerate than my usual and hospital and clinics, which is probably why the information flow is less than optimal. Still, I have made numerous calls on Tuesday and Wednesday and again today to both places, making sure that the results were transmitted to the right place and that my doc was reminded to call me. Apparently the only call that mattered was the one today to ask the nurse to remind her to call. In her favor, my doctor gave me her personal cell number to call her tomorrow at home -- she is off tomorrow -- to find out if the results have been found.
A tin of home-made [fill in the blank -- fudge, cookies, candies, whatever you are good at]. One year I made several different kinds of spiced nuts. They were a hit and, I like to think, a welcome break from the never-ending stream of sweets.
A donation to the recipient's favorite charity. This is what I did for #1 Son for his birthday earlier this month and he was quite pleased. It becomes increasingly difficult to come up with an appropriate gift when one's offspring is 26 and lives a thousand miles away.
*Gift certificate* good for something you will do for the recipient -- snow shoveling, childcare, lawn mowing, future knitting, whatever.
On Friday I went to the annual Christmas Tea and Living Nativity at the county nursing home, where I am on the board. I thought about bringing my camera but didn't because of privacy concerns. So I will have to paint word pictures for you.
I arrived just as the hostess was welcoming everyone, and I slipped into a chair in the back of the activities room where about 100 people were in the audience. There were residents in wheel chairs and walkers and lots of people from the community. My first clue about how cool this was going to be was the queue of residents in wheel chairs in the hall outside the activity room.
They were dressed in quasi-Biblical robes and headdresses, and a staff person was carrying a tiny baby, who looked to be about a month old.
In the front of the activity room was the narrator with his script and microphone and a woman seated at the piano behind him. There was a small group of six residents in choir robes with songbooks. A couple more people in dark robes and headdresses stood to one side, and over the top of the audience heads I could see...
Turned out his name was Don Juan and he has participated in this play since 2002. For the first three years his owner, an employee in the activities department, put a fake hump on his back with a blanket over it, but no one figured out that Don was supposed to be a camel so she quit that part.
The narrator began the Christmas story. Staff members wheeled in Mary and Joseph in their wheel chairs and another brought in the baby, who cried loudly. Two-thirds of the three wise men walked in, the third was pushed in his wheel chair. A little boy of about 3 walked up the aisle with his little drum while a member of the small choir sang The Little Drummer Boy. Three angels in wheel chairs were recognizable as divine by the gold garlands twined about their heads and necks.
It was all totally charming, and I plan to attend again next year. They have been doing it for 24 years and this is the first year the baby has cried. That's a pretty good run, I'd say.
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Several years ago I had a spate of gall bladder problems. Tests revealed that while mine was no poster child of gall bladder health and functionality, it was not bad enough to warrant surgery.
A few weeks ago I started having what I thought were the same symptoms again, and I trekked back to the doctor expecting that this time I might end up gall bladder-less. Lab tests and an ultrasound showed my gall bladder (and right kidney and liver) was fine but that there was "an odd contour on the side of the pancreas." Um, huh? On Monday I have a CT scan to get a better look. Let's all think positive thoughts for me, m'kay?
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Andrew will fly in at 6:30 tonight from New York and will be home for two whole weeks. Smokey has stocked the freezer accordingly with a ham and steaks and lobsters and an entire beef tenderloin. (Oink.) It will be good to have #1 Son here for awhile. Matthew and GF Alex will be here for Christmas, I think, although Smokey will work a day shift that day. I am kinda sorta planning to slip out of Christmas dinner cookery and take the kids to the Christmas dinner sponsored at a lovely north woods lodge sponsored by a local commercial club. I have done that a coupletimes in the past few years, and it is a lot more pleasant than slaving in the kitchen. I like to cook but not that much.
Matthew's hat: Yarn: Socks That Rock mediumweight, Raven Clan Corbie, ~209 yds (about half a skein). Needle: Addi Turbo US#2 (2.25mm) Pattern: Generic hat with six lines of decreases, 1" knitted-in hem, 108 st
Knitting something as a surprise for Matthew was a bit of a gamble -- he is VERY particular about what he wears. But I thought the Raven Clan yarn might fit his style, and apparently it did; Maggie said he has worn it every day. Score!
Maggie's Calorimetry: Yarn: Socks That Rock heavyweight, Hot Flash, ~90 yds (about a quarter of a skein). Cast-on plus one row and bind-off plus one row, Socks That Rock heavyweight, Ruby Slippers. Needle: Addi Turbo US#4. Pattern: Calorimetry, 102 st.
She wore it (and the matching socks) all weekend. Score!
Andrew's hat: Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersocke, Moody Blues, a bit more than 1/2 skein Needle: unknown 2.00mm Pattern:Clamber by Laura Wilson-Martos, v.1.0. I had to add four or five extra cable repeats to make the hat long enough to cover his ears; he has a very large head. This is a very nice pattern for a cabled hat, clearly written and easy to knit and to modify.
Andrew is never cold, especially since he left Wisconsin to go to school in NYC. (According to him, it never actually gets cold there.) I knew making him a hat was a gamble but Darn it, I'm a knitter! I have to knit for my family! So I took the chance. He will probably wear it whenever the temperature in NYC is <20˚F. How often is that? Oh, well, I enjoyed knitting it.
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Matthew bought himself a Christmas present, a remote control helicopter.
See the little red things underneath the front fusilage? Missiles... which gave me the opportunity to say:
Knitting was primarily of a stealth nature, but did include scientific swatching and the F'ing of a couple of O's that had been OTN for nearly, and over a year, respectively. (I am rather proud of that sentence -- and its punctuation -- awkward though it may be.)
June was for knitting and vacation and celebrating that brief magical time that is summer in the north woods.
Lots of knitting.
July was for more vacation -- the rest of the one in Wyoming and another on the North Shore.
I learned the difference between eagles and turkey vultures, and I had surgery to remove some extra/unneeded bits and pieces and repair that torn cartilage in my knee.
In September I had lots of catsontheblog, it was my turn to give the prayer at the beginning of the monthly county board meeting, the county budget process blew up, and the most gloriously gorgeous month of the year was here.
Have I ever mentioned that my least favorite color is pink?
And that my least favorite shade of pink is hot pink?
Here's my latest FO.
Hot pink is, however, the favorite color of Maggie, #2 Son's gf. And these are for her. Because I am willing to sacrifice my eyeballs (and sanity) in the cause of love.
Yarn: Sock That Rock heavyweight, colorway Hot Flash. Needles: Addi Turbo, US#3 (foot and ankle) and US#4 (leg). Pattern:Wendy's generic toe-up pattern, with a cable thrown onto the sides of the leg just because I am really, really into cables right now. Worked on 42 st except for second leg, which was worked on 44 st b/c the first leg was a little tight. I used Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off, which works a treat. It will now be my go-to bind off for things that need to stretch. If you haven't used it yet, I highly recommend it.
Wendy's pattern linked above has become my go-to, toe-up sock pattern. I really like that I don't have to fiddle with casting on at the tip of the toe. It uses a provisional cast-on of half the total stitches on the top of the toe, then uses short rows to form the toe. Tidy and easy, perfect. My next goal is to learn to do a slip-stitch gusseted heel on toe-up socks. I know there are patterns out there, just haven't done the requisite research yet. If any of you know of one that is easily adaptable to any gauge and/or size, sing out in the comments.
Note: there seem to be a plethora (there's that word again!) of hot pink socks being thrown up on people's blogs lately. Cookie (not that that is a surprise; that grrl loves her some pink), Cookie again (these for Our Joan), Carole (hers are mittens, but still very, very pink), Diane. I guess hot pink is The Thing this month.
On Christmas Day Andrew, Matthew, Maggie (the boys and #2's girlfriend), and I ate Christmas dinner at a rustic local restaurant, said dinner sponsored and prepared by the local commercial club. #2 and I had done this a couple years ago, and we all decided to do it again. (Actually I decided, but since I'm the cook, I'm also Boss Of The Meal).
The turkey qualified as mystery meat, but the rest was pretty good. And there was a plethora (thanks, I love to use "plethora") of homemade desserts.
Besides the eleventy-seven dozen cookies, many of which were so heavenly delicious I cannot possibly describe them, there was pie -- cherry, peach, pumpkin, blueberry, and perhaps one other I cannot remember.
Afterward we rolled ourselves out to the car.
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One of Smokey's and my traditions is to feed Andrew very, very well when he is home. He loves and appreciates good food and doesn't get a great deal of it when he at school. Of course, we do this out of sheer altruism. We get nothing for ourselves out of this deal. Nothing at all. We eat pb&j whilst #1 son gorges himself.
Well, maybe not.
Here is the note that greeted me when I got up this morning.
However, I decreed that those humongous New York strip steaks and the porterhouse were way too big to be paired with the lobster, and replaced them with some delightful little tenderloins instead. (The big steaks are being saved for tomorrow.)
Smokey had a very, very attentive audience while he ate.
No bit of edible lobster went to waste.
The post-dinner destruction:
There were no steak scraps for the dogs, but they did get to lick our plates. Enthusiastically. Cats, however, must be persuaded that lobster is yummy and that we are not plotting to poison them.
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Stay tuned -- tomorrow there may be actual knitting here!
Above belongs to a biking friend of #2 Son. Said friend decorated his bike for the holiday with jingle bells attached to bike with red and green zip ties. Festive!
And now I am being paged and implored and begged to please make waffles! for everyone so that everyone will get up and then we can wake Smokey and then we can open presents. Not that the younger generation is materialistic or anything...
Please accept with no obligation, implied or explicit, my best wishes for an
environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.
To My Republican Friends:
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Shamelessly stolen from an email from a friend in California.
...to have a warm(ish), snug(gish) house when the snow and cold and wind are everywhere outdoors. When I went out last night to move my car to the top of the driveway hill -- just in case we got that 11" - 20" of predicted snow all in one night -- I thought about the Native Americans who lived here a hundred+ years ago and how did they keep warm? I concluded that at least a few of them didn't and that every winter some of them died.
...that #1 son flew in on Monday, when the weather in both New York and Minneapolis was clear. And the terminal was peaceful, unlike the next day.
...that #2 son has a job he loves, especially when so many other 20-yo high school grads are unemployed. His job may not pay much, but it makes him happy (and gives him health insurance and a 401(k)).
...Smokey has a job, a good job, even though it means we won't see him until next Monday (or possibly Tuesday).
...to know that my family will all be together to celebrate our own Christmas in our own good time.
...to have good friends who invite us to have Christmas dinner with them.
...to have a refrigerator and freezer full of food for the other days.
...that the health care reform bill, flawed though it is, is likely to become law.
...for this blog, which has brought me into the internet community of knitters and bloggers.
The trouble with finishing our Christmas shopping in early November is
that in the intervening month one present went MIA somewhere in the house. I finally found it on the fourth or fifth searching expedition today.
We have snow.
We have welcoming bear.
We have welcoming bear still festooned with last summer's cobwebs.
We have welcoming bear still festooned with last summer's cobwebs, who says,
Must get on that...
Andrew flies into Minneapolis tomorrow. Let the holiday begin!
* I did not wimp out on wrapping even the largest present. See that tall one at the back, right? That sucker felt like it weighed about 50 pounds. Have I ever showed you the obstacle course that we must navigate to get to the tree?
The two large empty cans that block the walkway are necessary to keep Bear, the senior dog, out of the cats' feeders. She has never been a jumper, but she did manage somehow to get to the feeders when there was only one can, hence, the second one. It is tricky for a human to get over there, particularly when said human is burdened with a heavy and ungainly package. Given my inordinate affinity for gravity, I am extremely cautious when navigating that passage.
So I was reading tweets one night and decided to see if any other of my favorite knitbloggers were on Twitter. I searched for The Norma (using every handle I could think of) and got this:
I checked with Our Favorite OFA Fan; she claims she knows nothing of this "reagan haynes", but who knows? Perhaps she has a whole secret life as a non-knitting, 22-yo preppie named Reagan...
FYI, Norma is not on Twitter. Darn.
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Remember Kliban? Apparently he had another cartoonist life that had nothing to do with cats but only with very, very weird humor. This one, found at blackjelly.com, is particularly appropriate at this time of year.
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Speaking of cats, have you seen this ultra-awesome Cat House? I so want to do this, but the color scheme might be vetoed by my less-cat-and-color-crazed-than-I sweetie.
Do click the above link to the Cat House and take the tour -- start in the kitchen so you do not miss anything. It is amazing!
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Okay, this is not an oddity exactly, just really cool.