Thursday, December 28, 2006

What was that Ben Franklin said about guests and fish?

We had plans of leaving for Pittsburgh after I got back from work the Thursday before Christmas. But I got back from work later than I had hoped, and we really weren’t packed at all, and I wanted to drop some presents by a friend’s place. She has small kids, and I get that it’s important to have Christmas Presents On Christmas Morning, Even if The Felted Hedgehog Is Not Dry.

So with the packing and the hustling and bustling in the apartment, we didn’t notice right away that there was someone on the porch tapping on our front window.

“Jeebus! What the fork is that?!” I exclaimed. My mother-in-law doesn’t allow swearing, so I was practicing.

The Fool pushed the curtains aside and took a look.

“Huh,” he said. “It’s woolly. I wonder if it’s from that living nativity the Baptist church had a couple nights back.”

He stared for a moment more.

“It’s cursing at me.”

“Call the cops,” I said, handing him the phone.

“Let me in, goddammit, it’s cold out here! You want me to get ice balls in my fleece?”

“Oh,” I said. “I think that’s Dolores. You know, Franklin’s sheep.”

The Fool opened the door, and in barged Dolores, bundled up in a wool overcoat (I ignored the irony.)

“Merry Christmas,” I said. “Come in.”

She stepped on my foot with a sharp hoof as she pushed past, and emptied a carpetbag upside down on the living room floor.

“There,” she said. “You stay here with Auntie Meg and the Fool until Franklin and I come back to get you.”

A half dozen balls of sock yarn shook themselves and settled into an attentive heap, trying hard not to gawk as they looked around.

“Dolores,” the Fool said, “You can’t leave them here. We’re going out of town tomorrow. Who’s going to take care of them?”

“They’ll manage fine on their own – just leave a takeout menu and a little cash by the phone. Now, I have to go to Aidan’s, so you all get acquainted.”

“But….” I began.

But Dolores was gone, hustling out my door again and into a waiting cab. No wonder she hadn’t started sniffing around the liquor cabinet; the meter was probably running.

With some reservations, we left for Pittsburgh the next morning. The sock yarn had curled up in a basket and seemed to be sleeping through the long winter’s night. I tried calling the cats a couple times to get a report, but cats are notoriously unreliable about answering the phone or returning messages left on the machine.

What with the total lack of opposable thumbs in the apartment over the weekend, I don't quite understand how the goings-on were documented, but they were.

Here, the lads seem to have settled in for the evening.

Some of them apparently overindulged. They left lint all over the bathroom rug, too.

Knowing that Franklin is an erudite fellow, I was a little surprised to see what the sock yarn preferred to read. They tried telling me they only bought it for the short fiction, but I said in that case, they could have read the New Yorker or the short stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald, either of which was sitting around.

The Dynamic Duo better retrieve their wayward fiber soon, because we have a gig in St. Louis this weekend and don't want to have to take a whole basket of sock yarn with us. They're not staying home by themselves; I don't know how Franklin does it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Everything

I saw the line Happy Everything on a Peanuts drawing I received in the mail on a Christmas card today, so I thought I would title the post after it.

We're off towards the East sometime tonight, grabbing a hotel somewhere in Ohio, then spending the extended weekend with my parents in Pittsburgh. Tuesday we're playing a contra dance in Indianapolis on our way back home. There's never a dull moment around here!

There's nothing to put a smile on your face like this great picture from the live nativity scene right down the street from us. It is apparently the largest outdoor live nativity scene in the area... so large it's actually five scenes. So enjoy the camel.

Happy Everything, everyone!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Today is the Feast Day of St. Dominic

He's a patron of shepherds, so I suppose, indirectly, we should all be celebrating, too.
(Hagiography from the "Forgotten English" desk calendar, which makes a great holiday gift for the verbivores in your life.)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Michigan, ho!

We're off to Lansing for a quick overnight today - playing at the contra dance, and then heading back home tomorrow.
The calendar did that thing where the days march along in orderly fashion, and then, when I'm making dinner, someone rips a whole week out of the year, and suddenly, I look up and panic sets in, and then the Fool and I are having discussions that end with me saying stuff like:
"We cannot send Christmas cards out after Christmas, before New Year's! I don't care if they say 'Peace on earth,' they're not New Year's cards. They're Christmas cards sent by slacker procrastinators who can't meet one simple deadline!"

Maybe not my finest moment this week.

But I did a little mental reshuffling, and it's better now.
Thorny is not getting a thing from me until we go to Madison in late January to play the contra dance there.
The Fool's two gifts still on the needles really aren't a secret anymore, and I'll probably finish them as we drive to Pittsburgh next week.
My friend Carrie, who picked a rather big - and justified - bone with me about not spending time with friends because I was too busy (see above re: collection of fine moments this week) has a scarf on the needles as well. So that's my first priority. Because I suspect not finishing her present because I ran out of time would be a faux pas, as they say.
So today, as we drive to Lansing (and stop at Threadbear! Yay!), I'll be exercising spousal prerogative and insisting the Fool drive, so I can knit like a madwoman.
Finished the Sea Silk scarf this morning, blocked, fringe and all - photo update to come.
Happy weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Thoughts about my Spouse Who Also Knits (SWAK)

Meg has already written a treatise on the subject, but I was asked to weigh in as well. So here it goes.

Spare Time
Pro: Free time is often spent quietly on the couch together, working on our respective projects, listening to music, and enjoying each other's company though not saying a word. Quite meditative and fun.

Con: Unfortunately this is a little too easy to do, so we don't end up spending much time doing other things together... like housework.

Road Trips
Pro: I usually end up doing most of the weekend driving in the relationship. This works well, as I seem to enjoy it more than Meg. It is nice, however, on longer trips to be able to break up the driving a bit and give myself a bit of extra time to knit.

Con: When I am in the passenger seat knitting, I'm usually thinking about how I am taking away from Meg's knitting time. Crazy, I know, and not really fair to myself. But there you go.

Family Dynamics
Pro: Grandmother is ecstatic that we both knit, and Mom thinks it's pretty neat.

Con: Somehow it really pisses my brother off.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Status Update from the Fool

Knitting hasn't been the first thing on my mind recently, and I'm okay with that. I figure it's one of those things that comes and goes, depending on what else is happening in my life. I got a bit discouraged from my vain attempts to knit a Christmas present for Meg. I think I have frogged a total of four times now, so I needed a break.

I'm finishing up a pair of socks that kept me company at the airport last week (the ones with the forethought heel that I adore so much). I'm also most of the way through the first purple bootie that will accompany the eggplant hat that Meg made for an infant of some of our friends. (The hat is an eggplant hat, not just the color of eggplant, in case you were wondering.)

That darned baby sweater still isn't finished. I really need to get off my lazy arse and finish it. I didn't get to visit my friend over Thanksgiving, though the languishing project is really starting to hang over my head.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, we had a really fun time. Thanksgiving Day consisted of visiting a whole bunch of relatives of mine that I didn't even know existed until a few weeks ago. Meg and I briefly spent a few hours getting to know much of this side of the family (which is really quite large). Natalia, the matriarch of the family, is originally from Lithuania, and her family all grew up on the South Side. Her one daughter has seven children (my third cousins). Before we left for second Thanksgiving at Meg's dad's house, Natalia sat us down and fed us large amounts of eastern European food, including two or three types of sausage, ham, and turkey. She also prepared a "to go" bag for Meg's dad... in case he doesn't have enough food at his house.

Thanksgiving weekend was spent at a contra dance weekend called Breaking Up Thanksgiving (named after the old-time tune Breaking Up Christmas). It's our home contra weekend, so it's quite special to us. We got to play a bunch of times for dances (including as an old-time pickup band featuring twin fiddling, banjo, and guitar). I think we turned some heads when we played old-time music, as we're not usually associated with that kind of thing. We also got to sit in some great jams (the music kind, not the fruit kind.)

Speaking of fruit jam, today was Clear The Freezer day. This mostly meant making 12 half-pint jars of blueberry jam from my grandmother's home-grown blueberries. It also entailed making a mixed berry fruit pie with streusel topping and my famous Messed Up Pie Dough1 for the bottom layer (both from the freezer). More pies are in our near future, including cherry and blueberry pies.

Life is good. I worked a 1-day week last week, and I'm off to a work conference in Miami this upcoming Thursday through Sunday, so it will be a 3-day work week. And I've had lots of time to do fun things and I expect that I will continue to have a decent amount of personal time. I might as well enjoy it while it lasts before the holiday season hits hard. That's fun, too, but in a different sort of way.

1 For those of you hankering after the recipe, halve all of the ingredients for a double pie crust except for the water.

weekly update and some thoughts

Here's the status of the holiday knitting. The hedgehog (top) is untouched. The mystery thing (clockwise) has a couple more inches on it, and I wound the second ball of yarn for that. The Sea Silk scarf pulled out in front of everything else last week. The sari silk scarf is untouched. The scarf I plan to knit for The Fool is unwound. And the single sock? The sock with a mate I cast on and lost? Still gone.
What will our knitter accomplish by next week? Stay tuned.
I'm entertaining myself today by listening to This American Life on the computer. I love this show. And I just discovered their archives.

So I've been thinking about whether or not it's good to have a husband who knits. That's something people have brought up in comments in one way or another. I thought I'd examine this more completely.

Pro: Because the Fool knits, he understands how much yarn costs, how much books costs, etc., etc. So when I spend money on yarn/ books/ etc., he doesn't really raise an eyebrow. There's none of the "You spent *how* much?"
I quilt too, and until it sank in that I own more fabric than I will sew in my lifetime and I should stop buying stuff until I caught up a little bit, I used to feel guilty about some of my purchases. The Fool never said anything, but I always worried that in the back of his mind, he was wondering if we'd ever be able to buy a house, or if our collective life's work would be sunk into Kona Bay cottons.
Con: You know how much you spend on yarn, books, etc? Yeah, well, now he spends that much too. And he spins.

Economy of scale
Pro: OK. So we both knit. But there's no chance we'll both be putting sweaters on holders at the same time, both be using #13s to knit felted cat beds, both need the 20-inch #6 circular.
Con: You'd be surprised how many knitting projects require the same notions at the same time.

Knitting is the new yoga
Pro: One of the things I like about knitting is that it's a craft one can take at one's own pace. I can knit something just as hard, or as easy, as I feel like tackling. I tend to be a little competitive about stuff, so knitting is a good way for me to calm down.
Con: I tend to be a little competitive about stuff, so we have conversations like this.

FOOL: What's this Knitting Guild of America certification stuff?
ME: It's some thing where you do all these exercises and design sweaters and stuff, and then you get certified.
FOOL: Then what?
ME: I guess you could use it if you wanted to get a gig as a knitting teacher.
FOOL: It sounds sort of interesting. I bet you could learn a lot of stuff just working through it.
ME: Yeah, maybe.
(Thinking: Oh, hell! If he does this, then I'll have to do it and I don't want to do it, but I can't let him be the only one in the house to do it!)
ME: I think it's a bad idea. Lots of people get diseases from it.

The Honey-do list:
Pro: I'll confess, I got the Fool to start knitting because I was bored to tears with a kitchen cotton rug I was knitting. So I showed him how to knit, and that was the beginning of the end. And sometimes, if I have something especially odious in the fiber arts that I wish to push off on someone else (Kitchenering socks, for example), he is the someone else I turn to. (He's also the someone else I turn to if there are bugs to kill, if there are things I need from high shelves, or if there's that weird wet food stuck in the sink trap -- shudder!)
Con: That kind of thing goes both ways. So now I have to teach him the crochet cast-on and if there's weird knitter math to be done, I am often the one to help him do it.

Social life:
Pro: Rhinebeck? Sure! How about Maryland next spring? Absolutely! Sweetie, there's a new yarn shop opening up next weekend. Let's go!
Con: None, unless I suggest that I might like to go a women-only fiber event without him.

In total? I think it's easier this way. There's plenty of other things I do that make him say, "Honey, you're very weird." It's much better that I don't add something else to the list.