Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas 2008

Merry Christmas, one and all. This is a photo taken by Dave V. on the street just west of his house. It was snowing enough that day/evening to make attendance at the poshest party in my lifetime really slim. Fortunately, there were just enough people to supply 3-4 appetizers, 3-4 main dishes, and 3-4 deserts. It was a lovely night.

Because of all the co-pays getting my new shoulder, I chose to knit presents this year. I put them all into a bag and had everyone pick what they liked best from the bunch.

This is my daughter-in-law, Stephanie, wearing an Alpaca Glitter scarf. It is a simple k1p1 scarf of two different colors. Click the photo to embiggen to see the colors. It looks nice on her, don't you think?

This is Steph's brother, Paul, sort of wearing my favorite of the hats. It is Calm wool with Noro every two rows. I like the way the black sets off the color changes. Noro, for those of you who don't know, is hand-spun and hand dyed in Japan and lovely once it's been washed. Please, do NOT put this (or any of the other knits) into your washing machine. You will be very disappointed with the outcome...shrinkage and feltage.

This is Heather's mother (Steph's Grandmother) Gladys. She chose the richly colored Alpaca Boucle scarf. It is VERY soft. Hand wash, please. She looks so pretty in it.

And this is John, Gladys' hubby and Steph's Grandpa. He has the more pastel-colored Alpaca Boucle scarf. He looks down right dapper.

This is Richard, Steph's other brother. He chose the Shades-of-Green Malabrigo Wool scarf. Nice job modeling, Richard. (It's for your neck.)

Here's Heather with the Alpaca bulky hand-dyed scarf. I knit it on size 19 needles so that if she wants it could be worn as a shawl; a drafty shawl. It ended up being quite long.

Last, but not the least of the gifts I knitted that were chosen, is a slinky scarf of Malabrigo wool from Uruguay. It is a lace pattern that Ben thinks would be good on a model. Ben is a photographer who occasionally takes pictures of comely ladies.

Betty chose a reddish Malabrigo Scarf for herself. I have a couple more hats at home, one of which I'm definitely keeping for myself.

I'm really getting into this knitting thing. A friend asked how I found the time. Easy: compulsivity. I figure it takes 10-15 hours for a hat. Maybe twice that for a scarf. I'm not a fast knitter but I'm getting faster. I hope everyone enjoys their gifts.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thoughts while sitting at my computer

Sometimes, when I'm sitting at my computer cruising the web, I feel like I'm omniscient.

Function: adjective

Etymology: New Latin omniscient-, omnisciens, back-formation from Medieval Latin omniscientia
Date: circa 1604
1 : having infinite awareness, understanding, and insight
2 : possessed of universal or complete knowledge

It was always my dream that when I died and went to heaven, I'd be able to sit at a TV/Computer monitor and tune into different times and places to see what "really" happened. How did the Chicago fire "really" start? Was there anyone else involved in the Kennedy assassination?

At this point in time, we can google almost anything and anyone. We can use Google Earth to look at nearly the entire world. Some places in the world, we can even see things from "street level" and look at buildings and sometimes people.

We can look at what the weather is like anywhere, too.

News is almost instantaneous. Just 150 years ago, news was hard to come by. A hundred years ago, telegraphs made news more timely, but we still had to wait until it was printed. Radio brought the news into our living rooms. TV brought the news with pictures every evening. Now we have so many channels with news to choose from, all with a slightly different slant on the news, that it is increasingly difficult to know who to believe.

A few years ago a friend of mine came back to us with the very same information shared a week earlier by someone in our peer group, which my friend had pointedly ignored at the time. He now said it must be true because he had found it on the internet.

That scares me.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Christmas used to be fun

When I was a kid, there was all the hype, sparkle, and promise. When I was really little, my parents always had an open house on Christmas Eve. Charlie and Ruth and Eleanor and Hubert would come. They were cool people and nice to me. My Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Marvin would show up later in the evening after they'd visited with Dorothy's family.

Uncle Ted MacMichael (not really my uncle) came for several years. He was great. I don't even know if he had kids of his own. Anyway, he was a singer with the Merry Macs. Google them, if you want. I felt really special around him.

Mom would boil shrimp the day before and chill them with lemon juice. She had real sea shells, large clams of some sort, kind of cream/beige/pink in color and about 4 inches across. On Christmas Eve day she'd mix up a sauce recipe she got from Ricardo's in downtown Chicago back in the late '40s or '50s. I still have the original hand-written recipe Chef Ricardo wrote on the menu. Anyway, it was sort of like 1,000 island dressing. She'd put the shrimp in the shells, pour the dressing over them, and sprinkle garlic flavored bread crumbs on the tops. Everything would go under the broiler for a little while (I'm not giving away the entire recipe here) till the bread crumbs were brown and the shrimp were hot.

I don't remember if anyone else brought food. Mom would have pitted black olives (I still can't get enough of them) and creamed herring (yum).There was other stuff but these are the foods that stand out. Oh, and we'd have egg nog. I have Mom's egg nog bowl and cups. It was always yummy. I don't know if it came in a bottle or carton like it does today. I don't know if she made it herself. When I was really little, Mom was a great cook.

Things changed as I got older. Mom would drink more. Everyone would drink more. Charlie and Ruth moved to Florida. Eleanor and Hubert moved to California. Uncle Ted went to California, too, I think. The ones we could always count on were Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Marvin. And Debbie. She was/is five years younger and I. Or, the way I saw it, I was five years Older than she was.

I don't want to go into the details of why things stopped feeling magical at Christmas. It just did.

As an adult I grew to hate the fall. I'd spend hours in the garden over the summer making vegetables and flowers grow. In the fall, everything would die or grow dormant. Days would grow short...and cold. In the 1970s and '80s at least we'd get enough snow to "make the season bright" so to speak.

Now, I don't have a garden to die. Just a tomato plant and some ratty petunias on my balcony. On the bright side, my 35-year-old Christmas cactus has one flower on it. It's the first in a couple years. Its cold out and we have just enough snow to cover the grass. It gets dark early. It's cold out. I am glum. Sorry.

In the past several years I've turned into a hermit. More than four people is a crowd. I don't like crowds any more. I've decided not to go attend Christmas with the extended family this year. I have nothing against them. That's not it. I'm not sure what I want but being part of a crowd isn't it. And David won't be around. He's going to visit his mother in Arizona.

I don't have much money this year because of the extra costs involved with my new shoulder. But I have I've been knitting up a storm. I'd intended to start after my shoulder surgery in August on Christmas gifts but I couldn't really knit for a couple months. I'm way behind.

Enough whining. Back to my needles.