Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another Year Coming To An End

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning, but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” ~ Hal Borland

That quote made me laugh because a friend and I were just discussing going back to age 20.  I said never and she said with everything she knows now.  You don't need to be 20 to go back and turn things around you can do it whenever.  Now, my wisdom/ experience tells me I am no good at keeping resolutions.  The last one that I can honestly say I stuck to was when I quit smoking ten years ago.  So I just hope to do things differently in the new year but without the angst and guilt of a formal declaration.

And as a smooth is something I do feel guilty about....I bought a fleece at Rhinebeck.  I was walking thru a building when an open bag with a fleece in it  landed on a table to my left at the Wild Apple Hill Farm Ltd (no website but they are from Hudson, NY) site.  I turned and looked to see what they were putting out and the clouds parted, the sun shone down and the angels sang. (I can't understand how nobody else saw this)  However, I came to a halt, which if you have been to Rhinebeck you know caused a ten person pile up behind me.  But I didn't hear the cursing and swearing, although I do remember an elbow to my back, I was admiring this Shetland fleece.  Now I love LOVE a gray, grey, light gray, medium gray, dark gray, or in Shetland terms Emsket or Shaela fleeece and there it sat.  Without really looking at it other than color, I bought it.  I came home and comandeered the mans attention to see what his hard earned money bought.  As a fine specimen of an enabler he was dually pleased with the fleece and my reaction to it.  Then I stuck it in a tote with some lavender and walked away. WALKED AWAY! WTF was I thinking.

I returned to that tote the other day, months after I should have shown it some appreciation.  I pulled it out and started seperating locks so I could wash them. Look at all the loveliness.

 And all I can say is I have never, never, never (x10)  had a fleece so incredibly free of VM. It is almost non-existent to the point that they must have raised them on air and swinging from harneses. There were a couple of tiny pieces of secondcut which caused a nub when spinning but was easily pulled out.  I washed/dried some and ran it threw the carder.  Shetlands can be double coated and this one is.  I had decided to keep the two coats together because I like the color/tweediness of it.  The longer fibers wrapped around the softer shorter fibers, making it less elastic and not as soft.  More experienced spinners would know that, I didn't think it would be as noticeable as it is.   

I have seperated some and what an incredible difference between the two even before washing.

I am was thinking the kids would love nothing better than to sit and seperate but I was offered the use of combs which I am going to take advantage of and let the kids off the hook!  So the rest of the fleece will be lighter but oh so much softer.  Right now I am just enjoying being back behind the wheel.

And now that I have confessed and have made amends to the fleece, I have to go clean my house.  My daughter just reminded me of the old superstition that "if the house isn't spotless by midnight, it'll be dirty all next year" and I don't need that.

But then again maybe I can use that....the man comes home from work and the house is a mess, I tell him I tried to clean it but it wouldn't come clean because I didn't have it clean on New Year's Eve and he will have to wait a year for it to be absolutely clean again.    Now I confess I get away with alot but I don't think even he has that much patience!

HAPPY NEW YEAR ~Now go clean your house!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Hangover

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. ~From the movie Annie

After all the presents were open and food inhaled, #1 son and his gf went home late Saturday evening.  #1 daughter and Sir T left for their home yesterday.  Sir T, #1 son and the man have returned to work today.  After such a whorlwind of activities leading up to Christmas, it is so quiet now.  Part of me embraces that quiet as I get more done and I am slightly saner.  The other part wants to run from it, call them all back, and languish in the noise and mass confusion that is our family.  It all went too fast eventhough we made it a two day affair.  It is a different feeling you get being together at Christmas that isn't there the rest of the year. Similar to the difference between being covered with an afghan vs. being engulfed in one and being so warm you are drowsy from it.  Now I have to wait 363 more days.

But it was a wonderful Christmas.  The kids got spoiled and were all happy with their gifts.  And now I can show what I was working on that was giving me fits....

nereid fingerless mitts for #1 daughter.  When I finally read (!) the instructions, things worked just like they were suppose to work and they moved merrily along.  Then the week of Christmas she calls me up and tells me she doesn't wear hats and is there any way I can make her something to cover her ears with the same yarn I made her gloves from last year.  I tell her to go on to Ravelry and pick something out and she picked out the braided ear warmer.
Luckily I did have more yarn, but it was thinner then recommended so the ear warmer was no where near as wide as their's but it is wide enough to cover #1's ears.

Now it is a known fact that my family spoils me and I love it!  Oh come on, who wouldn't?!  I got so many exellent gifts I don't know where to start so I will start with the oldest which came two weeks ago when #1 son called and said to meet him at the barn in 20 minutes.  He and his gf bought me a 9 month old ram. 

He heard me say I was thinking of locating a ram to do the deed with my ladies. My ladies are all Finn.  #1 son has a friend that has animals and he asked him to find him a ram.  The friend knew people with sheep and called son up and said he found a ram.

#1 son was told it is a Finn/Romney cross, but it cannot be because neither of those breeds have horns and Jonathon Rambo does.  He maybe part Finn/Romney but there is something more mixed in there.  But he is beautiful and when allowed to finally go out with the ladies went right to "work."  His fiber is as soft as, if not softer than my finn, with approximately the same crimp and luster.  Other things to note..he is a short tail breed.  Like the Romney his hooves are black but unlike them his nose is pink.  He has no hair on the poll but has some on his cheeks and forehead unlike my Finn.  He has no hair on his legs like my Finn.  It was said he was a bottle baby and he is very friendly and well behaved.  Bozo knows he can't do the "job" so was not upset taking a back seat.  #1 Son doesn't know it yet, but he will be helping to put up new fences in March/April...When is Mother's Day as that would be a great gift!?  Then again, maybe the rolls of fencing did give him a clue.

But on to my other gifts....did I ever tell you how much I love Christmas!  I got a Cuisanart coffee pot, pj's, lottery tickets, wireless router, 6.5 quart enamel lined dutch oven, stainless steel teapot, slippers and after years (and I do mean years and years of asking) I got pictures of my kids together.  While I was gone one day, they dressed up and took pictures.  Some have just the four of them, others have my four with the b/gf's, and some are the kids with the man.  So so so so awesome.  I cried of course and then #1 daughter gave me this to unwrap ... 

#1 daughter wanted me to read it out loud but I couldn't.  She has this innate ability to know just how to pull all of my springs.  She knew although it would make me cry, it would also be something that I would truly love.  It reads "I thought of you with love today, but that is nothing new. I thought about you yesterday and days before that too" ~~~ "I think of you in silence, I often speak your name.  All I have are memories and your picture in a frame. ~~~ "Your memory is my keepsake, for which I'll never part, God has you in his keeping, but I have you in my heart"  Once the snow melts this will be going in my mom garden which my mother helped me dig filled with all the plants she shared with me.  And now that I have cried again I will move on to other friends spoil me too!  I got a pattern for Green Thumb Fingerless Gloves
I pulled out some green earthy yarn and made them.  The yarn while nice, does not do the mitt justice.  It blurs out the beautiful leaf design on the thumb gusset.  They are quick and easy and will be something that will be made again and again.

And in between all the family, gifts, and eating, I have been spinning!

I spun up both of these since Christmas Eve (posing with another present).  Nothing spectacular just stuff I had laying around that I had played with but it felt good to spin....I need to do more of it as the backlog of fleece/roving is getting out of hand.  I have a shetland fleece just calling to me which I might have to start working on later today.  Right now I have to clean up the mess left by six kids, four of which aren't mine. 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Very Merry Christmas!

“Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.” - Margaret Thatcher

The kids arrived home early from school yesterday and so started our Christmas vacation.  There are still presents to wrap and baking to be done and it will all get done before the big day.  For now it is the anticipation.  I think the kids being home increases that anticipation.

I think our Christmas's are like a summer family get together and Thanksgiving combined.  It is less formal than Thanksgiving, more fun like a summer get together, but with the food, family and friends in all their good/bad glory.  And yet it still reminds us of how much we have to be thankful for.

And we will get that twofold this year.  Christmas Eve is going to be a quiet time for us, the man, #2 children and myself.  The kids will go to bed and then the man.   I will turn off the tv and unplug the colored lights. With some carols playing softly in the background and with just the white lights on, I will sit in the rocking chair, either watching the lights or knitting, and think of whatever else needs to be done. 

Christmas morning will start with #2 daughter waking us far before she should (an a plus for trying every year)!  #1 son and his gf will be arriving, stockings will be opened and breakfast eaten.  Then slowly, each one getting a turn, the presents will be opened.  Oh the anticipation of wanting to open a certain present and having it pushed back under the tree in leiu of another your parent wants you to open! So frustrating as a child and yet so deliciously evil doing it as an adult.

Later we usually have ham and salads so we have time to just relax and be with each other.  This year we will be having salads and pulled pork and then #1 daughter and her bf will arrive in the evening.  Cookies and eggnog galore.

Saturday will start much like Friday did.  #1 daughter wants the whole Christmas morning hoopla.  Christmas is her favorite holiday and she doesn't want to miss the whole family thing but realizes her bf needs to do the same with his family.  So we will wake, #1 son and his gf will arrive and breakfast will be eaten.  Then slowly, each one getting a turn, the presents will be open.  But after that everything changes.  We will dine on ham and duck.  #1 requested duck years ago and it has become a new tradition.  Then we will have time to relax and spend time together or go visit friends.

Sunday is leftovers!  I foresee a huge pot of corn chowder with the leftover ham.  Then at some point #1 and Sir T will leave with the grandkittens in tow.  The man will go to bed as he has to work on Monday, the kids will go to bed and then I will turn off the tv and unplug the colored lights.  With some carols playing softly in the background and with just the white lights on, I will sit in the rocking chair, either watching the lights or knitting,  and appreciate the whole time we had together.

Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart and hand in hand. ~ The Grinch Who Stole Christmas quote

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ushering in Winter

But Winter has yet brighter scenes—he boasts
Splendors beyond what gorgeous Summer knows;
Or Autumn with his many fruits, and woods
All flushed with many hues.
–William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878) Winter will soon be here and Mother Nature is ushering him in with style. As it stands now we are only going to get a small amount compared to Philly, DC and NY. It definitely puts one in the Christmas spirit...or it does if you have all your shopping done and no place to go- otherwise I am sure it adds to the stress of the season.

This snow will make it even harder on the wild animals. The wild turkeys are having a hard time scratching through the ice we got previously. With high temps below freezing nothing is melting. They are frequent visitors now.

With the impending snow, #2 daughter and I left the house early to go put swags we made on the cemetery's. They are nothing fancy by a long shot, just trimmings from the tree, some greenery we picked in the woods and leftover bows and ribbons, but it is something we do each year. As they are not big on plowing the cemetery's I figured I better do it now or they wouldn't be one before Christmas.
After that we ran to the store to check if they had duck because I didn't find any while out yesterday. Luckily they did have some and I got two for Christmas dinner. On the way home we passed the local food pantry. The place was packed. I assume they were handing out Christmas dinners and presents. My brother and I, along with my older kids unanimously sponsored a local family with three kids this year. Seeing all those people standing in line made me so extremely thankful for what I have and happy that we could help in a very small way. I pray they all have a wonderful Christmas and that the new year treats them better.

In knitting news, I have finished #1's present. I took pictures and will post them after Christmas because she checks in here every once in a while. I have to say that my kids are nothing like me, I love to squeeze and shake packages. I can taunt them with one of theirs and they don't care and are willing to wait. It is frustrating!
One present I do buy each of the kids is an ornament specific to their happenings that year. (first fishing trip, football game, first job etc) #1 daughter decided to make some ornaments for everyone this year. The first was her Grandma angel ornament (so she will always be with us at Christmas) and a lollipop. My mother's answer to what do you want was always "a lollipop"! Then the other day I was organizing (I use that term loosely) yarn and came across some yellow (my mothers fav color) knit-cro-sheen that I inherited from my aunt. I have been saving a pattern to Drops Christmas heart since last year. So I crocheted up a couple of them.I tried beading some of them but they were clear beads which don't stand out enough. They may show more on the tree with lights behind them though.
I would love to go play with more yarn I "found" but I have to make cheesecake and spinach balls for a party I am going to tonight....if it doesn't snow to hard. If it does I can play then while eating the cheesecake!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Oh Tannenbaum

Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall. ~Larry Wilde, The Merry Book of Christmas

Last year when we went to hunt our tree, Mrs. H said she would not be doing it this year. Of course we had heard that before and thought nothing of it....until this year when she really didn't open her acreage. Oh horror of horrors now where do we go to get a tree?! We found another cut your own Christmas tree lot over an hour away and decided against that. We stopped at one precut lot and found the perfect tree...$100! C-ya! I would spend that on an artificial tree that I could put in a box and reuse but not something I am going to toss into my brothers chipper.
We ended up going to Home Depot where we stood up tree after tree until we found an 8 foot balsam fir for $31. As we all know trees look smaller outside, but we were technically inside an unheated section and it did not look big. It was untied when we looked at it and I knew it would relax some. We got it home and put it in the stand and watered it. We let it sit there overnight and it got huge! I started to think there must be something in the water....maybe that is what happened to my butt!? It is a good thing we never use the front door because you would not get through it!

So Sunday morning after seeing my livingroom eaten by a tree, I happily sit down with a string of lights and my new handy dandy tool that will test all the strings, bulbs, fuses etc etc etc. I take out the directions and find I need two watch batteries. Are they for real? AAA, AA I could understand and have plenty of, but watch batteries?! Tossed that tool in the box and did it the old fashioned way, bulb by bulb....of course after they were finally on the tree I found several brand new boxes of lights. I think I am related to Murphy.
With the lights on the tree, the kids went to work decorating it. Some people tried sticking their beak
in where it didn't belong as they do consider themselves part of the family so thought they had the right. She is standing on the side porch peering in the floor to ceiling window by the woodstove. She is actually there to tell us she wants some treats. They are very spoiled. If you ignore them, they tap on the windows and doors until they get what they want.

When that tree was done (already minus tinsel on the bottom from the dogs rubbing up against it), we put up another tree. This one went up so much faster than the other and with no surprises!

Then we continued to decorate a little more.

Some snowmen on the shelf
And the hot chocolate/cookie stationToday more will come out of the boxes. But before they do, #2 son has an eye doctor appointment and I need to go motivate him. I am not looking forward to the drive as the area I have to go to had a two hour school delay. I hate icy roads but this does give me some guilt free knitting time.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Ev'rywhere you go ~ Meredith Willson

We woke up early yesterday morning to this...
In the end it was about six inches of snow- then sleet and rain. It was enough to keep the children home from school. Six of them congregated here. My floor was constantly wet and dripping clothes were hanging every where.
I made banana bread and zucchini bread and between the hot cocoa and oodles of noodles they were happy. Then I sent most of them home and I happily enjoyed the quiet...and when mine left for school this morning I reached the 1/2 way point of #1's present.
Which means I will have it done in thime for Christmas so I don't have to go nuts. It gives me time to watch this little fiend whom has decided he needs food more than the birds and sits in the one feeder and eats. The cat is having fits becasue she can't get to him!

Monday, December 07, 2009

First Snowfall

“The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event”
Yes our first snow! And it truly did look magical when I left the fire department on Saturday. I did a craft fair with my cousin there. Afterwards, I came home to sit by the fire and watch it snow. I was afraid they might cancel our night plans but they didn’t.

Saturday night was the local VFW’s prize bingo. All the money goes towards the kids annual Christmas party and the Christmas dinners they deliver to the needy/homebound. If you are a diehard bingo player you do NOT go. It is slightly unorganized and rowdy. If you want to donate to a good cause, have a couple of drinks and just have a night out, it is fun.

My mother had gone to it every year, then I started to go when I moved back home. I got the man going and last year #1 son and his gf came. This year the man and I, along with all four of the kids and significant others went. I thought this would give us a better chance of winning…..three of the kids won several times. The rest of us went bingo with others and only got picture frames or a bottle of wine. #1 daughter gave me some of her winnings…a $50 gift certificate to the local phone company and a $25 gift certificate to the local grocer. (Thank You)

Sunday was a very relaxing. #1 daughter started baking while I painted some more miniature houses for her village. She made caramel nut cookies, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter and chocolate chip. The baking gene passed me by and went straight to her. The guys filled up the holder with firewood and changed the oil in my car. Too soon it was time for #1 and Sir T to go back home.
I tried explaining to #1 that I didn’t make her a Christmas present this year (except the houses) but she said I had to be joking or I would break her heart. Well gee, pile the guilt on! After they left, I sat down and started knitting as any mother that did not want to break her daughter’s heart would have. I have tried this pattern before and didn’t get far but I will preserve and try it again.

Yesterday, the man returned to work. Yes, he got a clean bill of health and we are scheduled for a head to toe and everything in between physical the first week in January. Last week was so stressful and then the busy weekend so I am hoping things finally have slowed down. Of course the weatherman just said the kids will be home tomorrow as he is calling for a snow/ice storm. There is plenty of wood, the fridge/freezers/shelves are full so and I don't have to go anywhere. So....let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Medicine & Love

A Short History of Medicine
2000 B.C. - "Here, eat this root."
1000 B.C. - "That root is heathen, say this prayer."
1850 A.D. - "That prayer is superstition, drink this potion."
1940 A.D. - "That potion is snake oil, swallow this pill."
1985 A.D. - "That pill is ineffective, take this antibiotic."
2000 A.D. - "That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root."
~Author Unknown

I hate doctors...when I am the patient. I have absolutely no qualms about taking people to them, telling people they should go see one, or holding them down while they get a shot! And so far this week I have done all of the above.

The man took #2 son hunting on Monday. He came back (sans deer) and was getting ready to go to work, when he informed me his left arm and hand hurt. He couldn't make a fist. He thought it might be from working on the Kubota. Of course he also mentioned that he wasn't really feeling "right". It was decided (aka I bitched a little and he was humoring me) that he should at least go to the ER before going to work. Low and behold they decide to keep him! The cardiologist came in the next day and checked all the information from the various tests they had run and released him with instructions for rest and a stress test. As the man is walking in the door, I am walking out it to pick up #2 daughter. She had to go get more blood work done as last time she was at her doctor's her insulin was high. I am happy to say she received a clear bill of health and only has to show up for her physical next year. One down and one to go.

The man and I left before daylight Wednesday, to get him to the hospital for the test....with plenty of guilt free knitting in the bag. While he was in jogging away I was able to get a sock knit down to turning the heel and work on a wine bag. He exited with instructions to not return to work until he gets the results which we go to hear on Friday. He just started a new year with the company so thankfully he has sick/personal/vacation days to play with.

We came home and while he rested by watching tv, I finished my socks.Tomorrow we get the results. Beyond the fact that he is my husband and I want him healthy, I also want him back at work....he is destroying my peace and quiet, he loses the remote, he drinks all the coffee, he throws my whole schedule off. I love having him home when he is able to motivate but for now, he is just always THERE, in the same spot or direction I have to go. I need him to stay out of the hospital so I stay out of the hospital or jail....and I say this with love in my heart.