Saturday, November 21, 2015

Good Things

Fall is turning again, with most the leaves on the ground now and dark coming around mid-afternoon.  It is cold--very cold in the mornings--and I wake up to a leaded sky with frost on everything.  This has been a hard week, around the world and even in my little city, with a massive windstorm doing terrible damage to homes and trees and some people.  We don't get severe weather of any type here, so when 70 mph winds toppled trees that were nearly 100 feet high, sending them onto homes and cars and roads, it was shocking.  So many people are still without power, and the mornings temperatures are in the teens.

November feels like a waiting month.  With Thanksgiving around the corner and the Christmas countdown begun, November holds its breath and waits, patiently and hopefully, for good things.  In the wake up of this week I hold my breath and wait for better things to come, too.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

In Progress

Everything is in progress right now.  Teeth being straightened (with almost no soreness afterward, yay!  I was all prepared with tons of soft foods for him, and he doesn't seem to need any of it.  Figures.  I'm finally prepared beforehand for something, and now I don't need it.)

Nativity softies are almost done, hooray!  I got very tired of them on wise man #2, who is still in the hoop, so I thought maybe finishing the others would give me incentive.  I backed them with a red micro-gingham instead of the linen called for in the pattern.  I figure little hands will leave fewer traces that way.  I was not thinking ahead and lightly traced each figure in a brown Micron pen before I cut it out.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  Now I have a light pen border around several figures.  I think I'm going to probably embroider in white around the border.  This will be tricky, since they're already stuffed, but the headache will be better than being irritated for the next 20 years every time I look at them.  Left to embroider are two wise men and a sweet little sheep, so the light is very much at the end of the tunnel.  A  few more allergy appointments or swim practices is all I need.  That's when I work on them, which makes me feel better about sitting that long.  I can't fathom the other parents I sit by, who literally stare at their phones or nothing for an hour at a stretch.  I admire them, but I can't do it.  I've never been good at sitting still.

I'm three down, four to go on the sheep hats.  I surreptitiously tried one on my niece Hallie yesterday. She's 1, so it's not like she'll remember it on Christmas morning.  I'm waiting on my pom pom maker to work on the pom poms, which are like icing on a cake--they make the hat perfect.  After fighting with the first one, I figured it out on the second and got speedy on the third.  By the 7th I should be greased lightning!  And will probably never make another one again.  I'm not sure I can even make it to #7.  I need things to stay new for me to stay interested.  But as long as I'm watching "Alias," I should be okay.

I opened the wreath box (gorgeously packaged, I must say) cautiously and with much trepidation.  My biggest fear is that it doesn't turn out.  It's so beautiful in the photos; I want to do it justice.  I stood at the kitchen counter while watching Miracle on 34th Street with Addie one night and got almost everything cut out.  I have to say--this is a biggish project in terms of time, but it doesn't seem very hard.  If you're a beginning crafter who is patient, you can do this.  My hope is to have it done by December 1st, but we'll see.

Suffering during all this making is reading.  I actually got Kate Morton's newest, "The Lake House," and gave it to my sister first, which shocked both of us.  I can't believe I waited two months on hold and then handed it over to her.  But I don't think I afford to get immersed in a great story right now, or I'll bail on making the mouse, kitty, and bunny up next.  Working on Basil last year and Maggie a few years ago was my favorite activity the entire Christmas season, so I don't want to be rushed.   That odd stack of stuff above is the future Maisie, kitty, and mouse (unnamed as of yet).

So that's the progress.  I am actually somehow keeping up with laundry, meals, and chores.  And even schoolwork!  My secret is to leave the house as little as possible and keep a project in my purse, on my kitchen counter, and on my nightstand.  Stay up late.  Work every possible free minute.  And in January, I'll replace all those projects with books and maybe actually go outside. :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Walk, Walk, Jog

November is one of my favorite months.  I love the departure from fall and entrance into winter.  In other places, November is actually the departure from summer, but here in north Idaho, fall quietly fades out right after Halloween.  It is dark here--I mean completely pitch black--at 4 pm now.  That was the weirdest thing for me last year, our first full winter here.  At 3:30 you look up and think, wow, it's kind of dark and cloudy right now, and 30 minutes later you realize no, that wasn't clouds, that was twilight.  Bizarre, isn't it?  It throws off my grasp of time, and at 5 pm I want to put on pajamas and tell the kids to start getting ready for bed.  Getting me out after dark in the winter is hard; I just want to stay home and bask in the coziness of it all.

This morning I woke up and had a new thought:  I should put on running clothes and go outside.  I trained (halfway) for a marathon last fall and winter.  I faithfully and cheerfully ran 4 mornings a week, generally in temperatures well below freezing, until the morning in late February when I ran 10 miles and realized that training for a marathon takes a lot of time, and that wasn't how I wanted to spend the rest of my Saturdays all spring long.  So I scaled down to train for a half marathon in the fall and kept running until July, when I started feeling so exhausted from a 3 mile run that I'd need to come home and take a nap.  It kind of freaked me out, because my doctor discovered a small heart issue earlier in the spring, and every step I ran, winded, I was afraid I was going to keel over.  Pace wasn't even slightly compassionate about this; he thinks I'm a hypochondriac and doesn't cater to my small dramas.  However, I explained to him, I went in for a sore throat (allergies) and came home with an appointment for an ECHO.  I didn't imagine this one!  (Score one for the hypochondriac.)

Anyway, the fear of dropping dead combined with the sheer exhaustion I was experiencing made me drop running completely, mid-summer.  (In early fall we discovered I was pretty anemic, hence the exhaustion.  Two months of iron pills and I am totally fine.)  So today I decided that the relative lethargy has been really fun but also rather bad for fitting into clothes, so I went out.  It was beautiful, foggy and slightly frosty.  Most of the leaves are down, splattered flat on the sidewalks, wet and anemic themselves.  The mountains are completely obscured by low-hanging clouds, and winter is in the air.  Even in broad daylight it looks like twilight, and it's a good thing I've already walked/run, because if I hadn't gotten dressed today, I'd be tempted to stay in pajamas all day, errands nonetheless.  I should probably do this again, say, in a couple days.  It wasn't hard work, walking/running a couple miles (WAY more walking than running, I should say), and the feeling of having crossed off something by 7 am is nice.

I'm making progress in the Christmas-making department.  I finished one of my niece's Baable hats, this one in gray and pink, and it was much easier than the first one.  I think I've finished out how to knit with both hands now.  That's the funny thing about knitting.  You think you've figured it all out, relatively, and then you start a new project and are all thumbs again.  Stranded knitting was that for me, but now it's better.  Sunday afternoon Pace and I sat on the couch and watched a "Bluebloods" marathon--I've just discovered this show, and I like it.  The touching family dynamics and relative lack of gore make it a police/law drama I can stomach.  Anyway, a marathon of TV on a Sunday afternoon make for good knitting.  Two hats down, five to go.  (No pictures; have I mentioned how dark it is outside all day long?) Packages are arriving left and right with my supplies for Maisie and the unnamed kitty and mouse, and the wreath isn't here yet but should be soon.  I'm afraid to open the package, that I'll be intimidated by it and quietly put it on a shelf in my sewing closet, to save it for another year.  I hope I don't do that.  The nativity set is short two wise men and one sheep but otherwise ready to be turned into softies.  I just keep on plugging away, during allergy shot appointments or swim practices or while standing at the kitchen counter, giving out spelling words.  Knit, purl, knit.  Walk, walk, jog.  Keep on swimming and don't look down.  We'll get there.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

First Snow

It's freezing today, almost literally.  Only the brilliant red trees have any leaves still; it seems like the yellow leaves always drop first.  All the aspens are naked, but the lane of reds across from my backyard remains fully-clothed, the only color out there today.  The sky is leaden, and rain is falling slowly but heavily, trying to decide whether or not to turn into ice.  Actually, yes!  Just this second it turned to a frozen mix.  Happy dance!  Inside we have lights and lamps on, Bing is crooning Christmas songs, and I'm in full Christmas-making mode.

On the needles is this, the first one already cast off and ready for its pom pom.  Who can resist sheep?  Not I.  No point in even trying.  I'm making one of these for each of my daughters and nieces and two youngest nephews.  At last count, that's 7, I think?

Then I'm nearly finished with my soft nativity set, which is turning out sweeter and sweeter.  I ordered the felt yesterday for the bottoms and can't wait to see each little person plump and upright.

I ordered patterns from Alicia for Juniper Kitty and Phyllis Mouse for my girls.  Addie already has a Maggie rabbit from a few years ago, and she asked today if I would make Maggie a nightgown for Christmas.  Lucky girl doesn't know that Maggie already has a special order of sweet Liberty fabric on its way, for that very thing!  I made Basil Fox last year for Grayson, and we agree he needs pajamas.  And Sarah Grace is getting her own Maggie rabbit, renamed Maisie.  Picking out their dresses and ear fabrics in Liberty fabric yesterday was the happiest hour I spent all day.  In my dreams, I do nothing but create woodland creatures and dress them.

So today I remembered how much Gray loved his Sammie the Sock Monster a few years ago and decided we need Frances the Charismatic Monster to join Sammie this Christmas.

And I want to make bunting--curved scallops for the girls, pennant-style for Grayson--for their new bedrooms.

Addie and I want to make these adorable ornaments for her family gifts.  And then I remembered (Yes, I'm turning into a total spaz) that Purl Soho has the most gorgeous felt Christmas wreath kit, and that I wanted last year to make it but didn't.  It's not cheap, but it is beautiful and will spend many happy years on my new front door.  My house is sage green with cream trim, and my front door is barn red.  The house doesn't look Christmas-y on most days, but during December it will be very festive, and that wreath in cream is a no-brainer.  I think, probably, that wreath is also going to take a million hours to make.

But obviously the wreath was meant to be, since in this very moment the frozen mix turned into fat, fast-falling SNOWFLAKES.  First snow!  I am deliriously happy.  Even if there's no way on earth I can actually complete all these projects.  I know I can't, but I'm going to, anyway.  Somehow.  It's snowing on the 5th of November, which means this year's Christmas making is meant to be.  The snow is a sign, I'm sure of it.

Monday, November 02, 2015

I am the grownup

Historically speaking, November is a very calm month for me.  The flurry of Halloween activity is past, and there's not a lot of warmup required before Thanksgiving; I just buy a jillion dollars' worth of groceries and cook the day before.  November is dark by 5 pm and chilly and still fallish but also a little bit wintry.  There's comfort food and warm socks and nightly fires.  So, generally speaking, I like November a lot.

This November is a little bit different.  Pace and I actually had a lunch date today just so we could make sure our calendars are in sync, which is a little depressing if you think about it.  On both counts, it's depressing:  first, that's not a very fun date; second, it's scary when you need your calendars to be in rhythm, because that means you have a lot going on.  I am not a fan of a lot; I am a fan of all the nice things in the above paragraph, and a lot generally doesn't involve enough of those things.  A lot involves getting in and out of the car too many times in a day, forgetting things because my brain is past capacity for minutia, eating too quickly, rushing around, not enough knitting or reading or baths with bubbles.  Actually, a lot is the antithesis of November, darn it.

But this November looks crazy.  We have multiple dentist and doctor appointments, including braces for Caiden, which will involve ibuprofen and many soft foods.  We have to figure out what to do for next year's health insurance.  (Why is it SO expensive??)  We have friends coming in two weekends in a row.  I have all the regular things I need to do, and this is seriously going to cramp my style.  Lately all I want to do is sit cross-legged on my bed in my new white nightgown, watch episodes of Alias back to back to back to back, and work on tiny nativity figures or sheepish hat knitting.  I do not want to run people back and forth to swim practice or expensive teeth appointments or buy groceries.  Darn it again.

Alas, I am the grownup, and I have to to it all anyway.  I'm gearing myself up to have a good attitude about it, to cheerfully do all these things and not mourn the fact that this November isn't going to be quite like I want.  That's what it means to be a grownup, right?  Right.

Excuse me while I go find some Halloween candy.