Should Have Used Eight Tiny Reindeer

There are those times when things just have no intention of going right, and the past week seemed to be one of those times. It’s not that there weren’t a few nice moments, but in the end, the stress won this round. Even when I was able to stay cool, I was strongly affected by those around me who didn’t…

We’d decided to go out of state for Christmas, with Thursday being a travel day, Friday and Saturday to be spent with family, Sunday a travel day (DH coming home and me driving a few hours to a friend’s house), Monday and Tuesday visiting there, then Wednesday home for me. Both visits were short, but I was really looking forward to the few days of stress free living and seeing people I don’t often get to see, as well as meeting an i’net acquaintance in person for the first time. Hubby had even okayed me driving separately, and I was counting the days!

So, the first fly in the ointment was that my friend decided that she needed to cancel our getting together at the last minute. This took out out most of my R&R time, and obviously was terribly disappointing, but I decided I was not going to let it ruin my holiday. What I didn’t know was how big of an impact it was going to make on things in the end! This change meant that we only needed to take one car, and since DH was planning to hit the slopes on Saturday, it had to be his car that we drove. Skis just don’t fit in a sedan. 😉 My car is far more comfortable for me, and I inevitably forget something important when I transfer my driving comforts to another vehicle, but there was nothing to be done for the situation, so again, I figured I’d make the best of it. Another problem that arose is that I had some audiobooks picked out for the trip, and I knew they would not please him at all. There went the shoo-in completion of my annual book reading goal. However, when he suggested I grab the second Mitford book, which he’d not yet heard, I knew I’d not be suffering too badly. 🙂 On the other hand, for some reason, he also decided we were going to stay away until Monday – announced Wednesday night! That threw a number of things into a tizzy (including our hostess who was really counting on us leaving after church on Sunday!), and in the end, we set out an hour later than planned on Thursday with much undone and my head in a total spin. And so our adventure began…

THURSDAY: We needed gas and I needed a couple of buttons, so less than a half hour after we hit the road, we stopped at Walmart. I needed only two buttons, so when I saw a card from which someone had stolen the third, I figured Walmart and I could strike a happy deal which would benefit us both. What I learned is that Walmart policies aren’t based on logic. Instead of taking 33% off for the missing third of the product, they cheerfully offered me a 10% discount. Huh? Seems that even though it was a theft, they have the audacity to charge it back to the supplier, and they’d rather pay an employee to do the paper work than accept the $.75 loss they would have incurred by selling what they had left to me. And to make matters worse, the employee who was helping me didn’t seem to grasp why I didn’t think the 10% discount was a great deal and acted like I was a bit strange when I told her that would result in me paying more for the buttons instead of getting a bargain. Merry Christmas…

Next memorable moment actually belongs to my “Five Best Memories of the 2009” list. Not far outside of Zanesville, I noticed a hawk soaring high in the sky, and although I was driving and couldn’t just stare, it seemed like a rather big bird, and somewhat different than the redtails I usually see. As we got under the bird, I looked up – WAY up – and saw that the tail wasn’t red at all. In fact, it was glare white, and as he circled, the sun flashed from an equally white head. I could hardly believe my eyes – but there was no doubt I was looking at a Bald Eagle! I know many people live with these birds being relatively common sightings, but I’ve been a casual bird-watcher for years, and this was my first ever spotting of our national bird and also the first time I’ve seen one on American soil. (Only other time I’ve seen a wild eagle was when someone pointed one out while we were riding the rails in Canada.) It was truly an awesome sight, and not something I’ll be forgetting. I sure would have loved to have been able to pull off and just watch him sail for a while. I’m seriously glad my husband was with me, as he says he’d have never believed me otherwise!

We had a fairly normal trip for a while after that, but about 4 hours into the drive, about the halfway point, my 2 hours of sleep the previous night started to catch up with me, and I wanted a bottle of pop and some Tylenol, not to mention we were both starting to get hungry.  DH told me to pull off at the next exit, and that’s when things started to get out of control – literally. I hit the brake at the end of the ramp, and my foot went clear to the floor! This isn’t the first time this has happened to me, but I do grow rather weary of it, and believe me, it’s still good for a huge adrenalin rush! I nursed the car through town to a big truck stop, which thankfully housed a Subway and a shelf full of brake fluid. We turned out to be foolishly optimistic. Hubby popped the hood and gurgled the first bottle of fluid into the reservoir, and it promptly gushed out somewhere near the bottom of the driver’s door just as quickly as it went in. Not good. 😦 We started wondering what one does at 3:00 pm on Christmas Eve, four hours from home and four hours from destination, when they have a brake line burst.

At least we were in 24 hour truck stop and had a hotel across the street if worse came to worse, and that seemed pretty likely based on how buttoned up the town was when we’d come through. Several phone calls to recommended mechanics came up empty, so DH set out on foot to an auto supply store someone thought was open. He came back with some hose, clamps, and tools, but after watching him fight the generous leak for a few minutes, I lost the faith and called AAA. It turned out to be a good decision, even if it wasn’t exactly a slick solution. The nearest driver they could find was 45 minutes away from us, and they would only tow us 100 miles. After that, it would cost us $3.50 per mile. Considering we still had about 250 miles to go, my quick math came up with a very unhappy number. 😦 Then I had a brainstorm – which turned out to be the best solution all around.

I called AAA back and changed our drop off point to an exit a few miles beyond our 100 mile limit, and our SIL met us there with a trailer, loaded our car, and drove us the rest of the way.

It took us three vehicles to get there, but we met an interesting man in our flatbed driver, and we arrived only 2 hours later than we’d expected. Many blessings surrounded the whole event.

  • The line burst when we were in as safe of a situation as could be, rather than out on the interstate when I was doing some sort of avoidance maneuver or going around a mountain curve.
  • We had a safe, warm place to wait, as well as daylight.
  • We have a SIL who works with his dad in the largest PJ trailer sales business in the eastern U.S.
  • Thanks to my cell phone, I was able to easily make quite a number of phone calls with no problem, so I checked options, arranged a tow, kept our hostess up to date, and had friends praying for us – blessings all!
  • And I had my knitting with me. 😉 (What a lot of memories have been knit into this sweater over the past few months!!!)

And though we had to go to a different church than we’d planned, we did find a Christmas Eve service. Silent Night by candlelight never fails to bring tears to my eyes. It’s the switch that turns off the “hectic” and begins Christmas in my heart.

SATURDAY: The day after Christmas is a day I’d been looking forward to for the entire year. Everyone else goes skiing, and I have the house all to myself – and it’s someone else’s house, so I have no duties or responsibilities. It’s the most incredibly relaxing day of the entire year for me, feet up knitting whatever I WANT to knit instead of what I NEED to knit, glutting on audiobooks and remembering how to breathe again after the intense days that are so common as the year winds to a close. This year I had a new shawl I’m designing, pattern and yarn for two different pairs of socks, a new KAL pattern, my spinning, and two of my active social knitting projects – my February Lady Sweater and my Autumn Entrelac Shawl – as well as about 6 ounces of spinning fiber and my Navajo spindle. I figured that would be enough to keep me going quite happily all day long. 😉

But it rained – everywhere for a hundred or more miles in all directions. For some reason, they just didn’t want to go skiing. With everything else that has been happening, this was enough to make me cry. I SO needed that day! And I still DO need that day! We ended up driving to Harrisburg to spend time in the National Civil War Museum, which I highly recommend, by the way. A person could probably spend weeks in there and not absorb all the information they have, and their book store is just plain awesome! I took my sweater along and knit as I meandered and read – a very good decision on my part, as I worked past the “this thing is NOT getting any longer” hump without even realizing it. 🙂 They booted us out the door at closing time, and we had dinner at Red Robin, followed by a bowling excursion.

Bowling was not a good experience that evening. The lanes were exceedingly oily, and all the alley balls of any given size were drilled the same. I have a large hand, but have to throw a light ball, so my hand fit the 15 pound balls and my arm an 11 pounder. Trying to hold a ball dripping in lane oil with a pinch grip when I’ve not bowled in the last year led to three ripped fingernails, two bleeding tears to my thumb, a pull in my elbow, a strained knee, and rousing scores of 57 and 74, in the first time in my entire life that I’ve rolled two full games without so much as a single mark. Six frames in my second game boasted 9’s, 5 of which were rolled on the first ball. It was a bit depressing. Thankfully, I also had my knitting along… 🙂

SUNDAY: Since we weren’t actually supposed to be visiting any longer but were anyway, we ended up at a family reunion for someone else’s family, then spent the evening feeling a bit in the way as our hosts had friends over for the evening.  Thankfully, I had plenty of knitting along, though by this time, I was really suffering from the fact that the house where we were staying had zero task lighting. That left me again working on that sweater, which was the only thing I could see to do, but the good thing is, I reached finished length on Sunday, bound it off, and started the first sleeve. 🙂

MONDAY: Thankfully the brakes were repaired well before noon, so we packed out and headed for home. The first little bit of the trip went well; we found our spot in Mitford and were settled in for a nice drive. Then the precipitation began… For the entire rest of the trip, we were treated to high winds and a non-stop display of various and sundry cloud leakage, mostly snow, some brief rain, all slick and just enough to make things really dirty. The normally 8 hour journey took nearly 13. After several hours of being able to barely see out the windshield most of the time, I forced a stop for new wipers. Ironically enough, we ended up at the same exit we’d lost our brakes, so hubby was able to swap the unused supplies from last Thursday for new wipers. It was a marvelous improvement, but about a half hour later, we had to stop again, as one of the new wipers broke. We arrived home at midnight with one new and one old wiper, and no washer fluid, totally drained. I don’t think this place has EVER looked as good to me as it did last night!

For some reason or other, I have some lyrics running through my mind right now… something like:

I’ll stay home for Christmas.

You can count on that.

Won’t drive through snow,

Have brake lines blow,

Or ride on truck beds flat…

Christmas Eve will find me

Where it’s safe and warm.

I’ll stay home for Christmas,

And visit via phone!

Wuzzing Wonder!

I’ve been thinking about that Christmas song about the wonderful marvelous toy. My newest fiber tool reminded me of it for some reason…

What did I get?

Good question!

A wuzzer!

Whatza wuzzer?

Another good question!

Wuzzing is removing water from wool/fiber/etc. by centrifugal force.  Until now, I built up arm muscles swinging fiber in wild circles around my head, risking what little reputation I still have in this neighborhood, or sometimes I resorted to using the washer, which seems a vast waste of electricity and annoyed the cats, who tend to always be asleep in the laundry room at the wrong time.

F0r a quite a while, now, what I’ve really wanted was a salad spinner. I’d dropped broad hints to relatives who have them sitting unused in back corners of  their kitchens, but they are apparently all sentimentally attached to them – or perhaps they are thinking I will eventually become a fast sock knitter, and they’ll be getting hand knit socks?

I finally found a grand excuse to give up. My younger daughter asked for a Crate & Barrel lamp for Christmas, and that was my ticket! There were several special offers on the site, including a percentage off the total order and free shipping over a certain dollar amount. Though pricey enough, the lamp wasn’t over the magic number, and when I checked the shipping for it, I discovered that the heavy, bulky thing was going to cost close to $20 to ship! Surely I could find something  to bump the order up just enough to ship for free, as I was only about $20 away from that goal. May as well have something in exchange for money I was sending to them anyway, right?

Well, I looked and looked and looked. I have to say that Crate & Barrel has some really wow stuff. Only problem is that pretty much none of  it would look right in my house, and most of what I would was  – well, let’s just say “substantially” – beyond $20. Then I wandered into the kitchen offerings and found “it”… a gorgeous, high tech salad spinner. It was love at first site! Clear sides, pump action spin, stable grip base, smooth and compact storage, thanks to a lock that holds the pump down, and even a brake! Subtracting the free shipping and the order discount, I could own this wonder for less than $8! WOW!!! How long do you think I hesitated? 😉

I used it for the first time last evening, and I’m seriously impressed! I was washing my only wearable pair of hand knit socks (trying not to think about how miserable my feet are in the Wally’s World coverings they were being forced to abide), and actually excited about the process of sock washing just because of the new wuzzer. I squeezed out the water the way I usually do, then put the contraption to the test. I couldn’t believe it! By the time I quit playing with using my new toy tool, there was a half cup of water in the bottom! I’m going to be wearing my socks SO much sooner! Yippee!!!

This will be perfect for dyeing, for spin drying small amounts of washed fiber, socks, scarves, lace, and other small hand wash knits, and would even work for (gasp) non-handknit fine washables – pantyhose and such…

Gotta remember to thank my daughter for requesting that lamp… 🙂

I’m in Mourning

My husband shaved off his mustache.

It’s been part of his face for 30 years.

He didn’t even warn me.

It’s just gone – poof!

Trying not to cry…

😦

But I learned something new:

The British spell it “moustache” and and we don’t in the States…

Not that it matters any more…

Sigh…

Published in: on December 19, 2009 at 1:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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I Want a Fiber Studio for Christmas

This evening a friend introduced me to I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, and it took me about 10 seconds to know precisely what my own “hippopotamus” was. Consider this a little Christmas gift to all of you. Enjoy!

I Want a Fiber Studio for Christmas
© De-De Heeter 2009

I want a fiber studio for Christmas.
Only a fiber studio will do.
No diamond ring.
Nothing from Dior.
I want to card and spin and knit and weave and felt and more!

I want a fiber studio for Christmas.
Hubby surely won’t mind that at all.
He won’t have to fight
The noisy, crowded mall.
Just grab a hammer, nails, lumber, and his favorite saw.

I can see me now on Christmas morning, creeping out the door.
Oh, what joy and what surprise when I open up my eyes
To see a furnished studio standing there.

I want a fiber studio for Christmas.
Only a fiber studio will do.
Eight harness loom,
Kromski spinning wheel,
A tri-loom and a carder and a felt machine – surreal!
And a cupboard full of qiviut fiber, too!

All I’d need’s a bed, and dinner catered in,
And I’d walk in and never have to walk back out again!

There’s lots of room for one, if we fill in the pool.
I’d throw a shuttle, hook a rug, ply handspun made of wool!

I can see me now on Christmas morning, creeping out the door.
Oh what joy and what surprise when I open up my eyes
To see a furnished studio standing there.

I want a fiber studio for Christmas.
Only a fiber studio will do.
Schnact warping mill,
Walnut Woolee Winder,
English combs, an inkle loom, Tom’s spindles, and dye pot.
And a cupboard full of qiviut fiber, too!

No “Good News”

We took ourselves off on a small adventure last evening, and I came out of it with mixed emotions. One of our favorite Christmas season activities is taking in a live concert. Hands down favorite has always been my favorite Christian artist, Steve Green. He presents a beautiful concert anytime, but his Christmas presentations are extra special – probably just because it’s Christmas. 😉 It’s an evening to step away from the bustle and reset our hearts and minds to more God centered holiday, and I always look forward to these evenings.

Sadly, this year Steve isn’t in our area, but I did hear that another Christian artist, Sandi Patty, was giving a concert within driving distance. I have to confess that although I’ve known her name for many years, I’m not really familiar with much else about her other than that she is very popular. DH and I decided to buy tickets and try her out. We had a lot to discuss on the long drive home!

First, let me say that Sandi Patty is obviously a very talented musician. I would not even think to argue that point. She put on a very good performance, sharing a lot of well sung Christmas music, all of which was very enjoyable, and also showed off her “opera voice” and piano playing abilities. However, we both came away from the program feeling somewhat disappointed and a bit empty. Why? Our expectations were for a Christian concert, but the evening’s program contained as much secular music as Christian/traditional carols, and there was no attitude of praise, worship, prayer… no Gospel – no “Good News.” In short, there was nothing to encourage, challenge, support, or build up the faith. It’s odd to have attended such a well programmed and performed event and leave feeling so let down – and I’m sad to have seen a Christian performer make such little use of the stage to glorify God. Perhaps our expectations were wrong. Because the advertising I heard was on Christian radio, I didn’t realize the concert was being presented by the Springfield Arts Council. Perhaps it was non-religious for that reason. I’ve just never been to a generally non-religious concert by a Christian performer, so it really took me by surprise to find nearly as much Santa Claus and mistletoe as Jesus, and an extended story about her daughter’s romance, but not about God’s for us.

One other thing bothered us through the evening. It seemed very much as if the show was extremely star centered. I’m so used to a performer giving of him or herself that this felt backwards to me. The instrumentalists had solo spots that were mere seconds in length – the shortest I’ve ever seen. The Shawnee High School Symphonic Choir sang back up vocals but was mixed too quietly to hear well through most of their portion of the show, though what we did hear was exemplary. Sadly, there was one number in the tradition of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir – an extremely bold and energized piece that absolutely demanded the choir should be clapping and swaying to the music – but the students stood like so many statues, while Patty was all over the place with her lead solo. The immobile choir left me totally flat and made Patty’s prancings look a bit odd, and what would have unquestionably been the high point of the concert, in my opinion, saw me just politely clapping at the end, instead of on my feet. There aren’t too many things I love more than being part of great music, and this colored the rest of the evening for me. It’s tough to thrill to live music when the performers are allowed to express all of the enthusiasm of Medieval monks. I couldn’t let go of that deflated feeling, so after the show, I stopped one of the young people to ask how they managed to stay so still while singing such a lively piece of music. Well… It seems that during rehearsals, they did NOT stand still! They enjoyed that piece exactly as they should have. However, they were told that for the concert, they were to remain still. I can only guess who gave that order and why, and although it was the only real artistic blunder of the evening, I think it was a huge one.

So, will I pay to go see Sandi Patty again? No, because I don’t think she offers what I personally am looking for in a concert. Am I sorry I went? No, not really. It wasn’t the mood and atmosphere we were seeking, but it was a pleasant show nonetheless, and definitely not a wasted evening. In fact, considering we started it with supper at Young’s Jersey Dairy, it was actually a right nice time! Thanks, Young’s! 🙂

Christmas Part 2

Laughing – no, you didn’t miss Part 1, and no, Ive not gone totally around the bend. Computer was in the hospital with a bad case of swine flu a virus when the first part happened, so I’ll have to catch up with it later.

We had our family party (my parents and all of their descendants who could make it) last evening. In recent years, we’ve switched over to a single draw gift, and my parents now give us cash instead of shopping, so these gatherings no longer resemble the wrapping paper orgies of my youth. Opening gifts is now just a small part of the evening that starts with too much dinner and mounds of cookies baked by my talented sister, and ends with board games, which somehow manage to elicit a tremendous amount of shouting and laughter – and an occasional bellow or two.

This year, I drew my nephew’s name, and he had a terribly unexciting list… $25 cash. Only after he turned in his paper did he discover that the dollar limit was actually $40, a fact which produced a piteous plea from him for mercy from his potential gift buyer. Personally, sticking $40 in an envelope and handing it to him just didn’t inspire me. After some thought, I decided to have a bit of fun with him. I engaged my banker daughter to do a bit of shopping for me in the vault of her bank. A wrapped box of fed pennies made for a curious looking gift under the tree – and it weighed so much my 6-year-old niece insisted she couldn’t even lift it. I also found a great money card at Walmart, promising he was going to love his gift this year. When opened, it plays a rousing rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus. I tucked the extra $15 in there and stuck the card in my knitting bag. Frustratingly enough, much of my fun was spoiled. It’s finals week for him, and he couldn’t come home from school to attend the party. Perhaps my imaginings were more fun than the actual presentation would have been anyway…

So, my dad got my name, and he and my mom actually found their way to an alpaca farm local to them, and I have to say that I REALLY liked my gift this year a lot!

The brown is 90/10 Alpaca/Tencel, and unbelievably soft and squishy. It was donated by Rocky, a huacaya alpaca who lives at Cupola Alpaca Farm. The skein has 300 yards of 2 ply yarn, about worsted weight. My hour or so perusing Ravelry for patterns tonight didn’t give me a final decision, but I found a cabled pillow I really liked, and it’s definitely a front runner. Could also do a hat or scarf or bedsocks…

The green is dyed on the farm, and is a delightful gathering of minty shades, a definite pleaser for this lover of green. 🙂 Artie and Oakie both contributed to this skein of 3 ply DK weight yarn, 128 yards long. It’s pure alpaca. I’m wavering between a quant type ear warmer, mitts, or a neckwarmer with this skein.

Last – and perhaps the most surprising to me, as I wasn’t sure my parents even knew I’ve been playing a bit at spinning – there was a “generous 2 oz” ball of Alpaca/Tencel blend roving. Soft and wonderful, but I wish I knew the right name for the color. It’s sort of blonde – or maybe like a half cup of tea with a half cup of milk stirred into it. It will make a wonderful pet until I’m ready to spin it!

I have to say that if this year’s Christmas gifts continue as fantastic as they’ve started, I’m going to feel like a spoiled brat by the end of the year!

It’s About Time!

I think I’m back in business here… There I was happily floating on a little cloud, enjoying my perfectly fantastic month, and all the sudden I got kicked hard in the backs of my knees… but more on that later. Today I want to share my fun and somewhat naughty excursion to a new-to-me antique shop last week while I was having my car serviced. (Whereas it’s fine for people to have hiccups, it’s not such a good thing in a car…) I drive 90 minutes to get to a mechanic I trust, then borrow a car for the day and try to find something interesting to do. This time my sister suggested an antique store in a town I’d never visited. I had TOO much fun, but after the past couple of weeks, I sort of felt like I deserved it.

Like most antique stores with a collection of vendors, some things were priced far too high, many just right, and with a little bit of time, there were some lovely deals to be found. My “bestest” stuff came from a booth offering an additional 10% off of everything – a quick way for me to get into trouble, but at least it’s fun trouble! In that booth, I adopted a clock that is unlike anything else I had to this point. I don’t NEED another clock, but with this one being so different and priced nicely, it sort of had to come home with me. It has some lightly dinged corners, and the pendulum needs to see a jeweler to have the hook repaired, but it has a lovely cathedral gong and runs fine, so it’s mine. 🙂 A little bit of quick sleuthing tells me it’s a Junghan’s clock, and that, too, is new to me, so I’m very happy with it.

The other thing I found in that booth was something else I desperately don’t need, but he was just irresistible. From working on my family tree, I suspect I have more than a few ancestors who looked very much like this guy, and truth be told, because of where I bought it, he could actually be one of them! Isn’t this great?

In another booth, I found this little sweetheart. She is simply wonderful, but she’s not the sort of doll I collect, so I told her I’d bring her home and play adoption agent. I have her listed in my doll store (link in sidebar). She’s a Nancy Ann Storybook Doll #184 Friday’s Child. She’s exquisitely perfect, and her box is nearly perfect (slight stain on the bottom). The neat thing is that I borrowed a Nancy Ann book from the library, and the brochure in her box isn’t pictured in the book. It falls between the single one listed 1946 and the “early 1947” version, so I guess she has the late 1946 brochure. Wonder if it’s rare, perhaps? Just a bit surprising to see such a thick and well researched book not have the one Nancy Ann brochure I’ve ever seen in my life!

Isn’t she a sweetheart?

I got a few other odds and ends – a few bells, a couple photos, and a sewing box stocked with crochet stuff and some odd lace pieces I’ll have to share one of these days. I was just especially excited to share these three things. They really perked up my day quite nicely – and I needed some perking!

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