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Mac and cheese is such a hallmark of childhood for generations of Americans; I loved Mrs. T’s scratch mac ‘n cheese. Now, having learned to make it from scratch myself, thick and creamy but baked in an oven, it is an adult pleasure that transcends the childhood memories. Even with a recipe that uses only eight ounces of pasta, it is a once-a-year kind of treat, as there is a pound of cheese in the dish. Using really good sharp cheddar, this is the way to start the new year – a quiet, adult indulgence linked to a childhood comfort food.
Blending traditions is on firmer footing when it comes to taking down the tree. Growing up, and during my single adult life, the Christmas tree and decorations came down on New Year’s Day. We weren’t into football, so taking down the tree became our designated family activity filling the afternoon hours of the holiday, and it meant the house would be ready for normal activity once the school vacation ended. No one in this house is into bowl games, but we’re waiting until the weekend after New Year’s to take down the tree, easing ourselves out of the holiday spirit.
After the last two weeks being shortened by holidays and PTO, I can’t believe I have a full week of work. Except it won’t even be a full week: Wednesday is the office holiday party in the afternoon, and Thursday I have a doctor’s appointment in the morning. I noted that although my workload has not been diminished, three deliverables are off my back and I am much more relaxed about the very daunting prospect. It helps that Boss Lady clearly spent the weekend digging in to the Norfolk project, that I’m not the only one working on the project.
Every winter, generally starting sometime in mid-December, I have problems waking at the usual time. It doesn’t matter what time I go to bed, I find it all but impossible to drag myself out of bed before 7:30 in the morning, when there’s actual light outside. It used to be somewhat manageable – when I had a train to catch and hell to pay if I didn’t make it on that train. The last five years or so, I find myself regularly hitting snooze multiple times a morning. This year, I seem to be taking it to a whole new level.
Schools are back in session yet the roads are still reasonable. Except for the crazy drivers. They seem to be getting worse, or more of them, even thought the holiday season is now over. I think these mad drivers are the worst part about the commute, because there’s at least one each way, every day. They do seem to cluster together, with one, two, or even three of them playing dodge ‘em through traffic, causing fear as you wait for the squeal of tires and crunching metal. Five accidents tonight on the way home – I don’t want to be next.
Still struggling with the post-holiday morning blues, I haul myself during the morning rush hour across the county line to a doctor’s visit in Manhasset. The universe must be paying me back for good behaviour at some point in the past because the trip across Suffolk and Nassau counties takes just a little more than an hour, which is pretty amazing when you consider that my normal morning commute to Northport, half the distance, takes 45 minutes at a minimum. This is the unexplained, unsolvable riddle of driving here: some days you move, and others days, you sit and wait.
I have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I tried to be rational, reasonable, not hold past issues that were more than twenty years old against a financial institution that appeared to have a way that could help me cut my debt in half this year. The plan is to aggressively pay down balances, and have everything at low-interest accounts. I moved the last bit in November, and was starting to breathe easy until this morning’s phone call, which suggests the company still maintains unfair, deceptive practices. I’m not sure how I can get out of this.
Driving around today, it was just beautiful outside. When you looked into the green spaces, it was really a white, winter wonderland, exactly like all those Christmas cards, with the structure of all the trees and shrubs outlined in white and starkly light with bright sunshine against clear blue skies. It was only a few inches, but it cleaned up all the ragged edges from recent blizzard snow piles, giving us a fresh, clean slate. For whatever reason, traffic was very light for a Saturday morning, so we could take the time to enjoy the snowy beauty, however briefly.
One pair of socks finished, and another pair started. I’m probably not really going to turn into a sock knitter, sweaters are really my thing, but it was nice to finish the pair for Geoffrey in less than a month. The new pair I cast on is for me, a simple pair, but I had to knit something last night while we watched the movie. I’ve got two sweaters very close to done, but also needing real attention. Perhaps I’ll take some time off his week if we get a snow dump, and try to finish one of them then.
When I saw it, I knew I had to have it: King Crimson, live in New Haven, November 2003, the official recording. I didn’t regret the decision seven years ago to forgo a King Crimson concert in the city so that I could spend a blissful weekend with Geoffrey in the Gatehouse. Not even when it became apparent a few months later that would be the last tour of that particular incarnation of the band after Trey Gunn left. The fact that it became the last King Crimson tour, perhaps ever…well, there were twinges, small twinges of something like regret.
I spent some time recently seriously trying to decide what to do with all the swatches I’ve knit. No, not really the swatches, but what they indicate: what yarn is suited to what pattern, based on the number of stitches per inch and rows per inch, and the general drape of the fabric in the swatch. I’ve now got a list going that matches specific patterns with specific yarns, based on swatches so I know what needle size I’ll need. For the next level of organization, I’d like to create project bags for each sweater…maybe I’ll do that next month.
I was overwhelmed with fractured and fractal memories of Mrs Jo’s kindergarten today. I couldn’t tell you why, there didn’t appear to be any connection to the day’s events, but nevertheless, it was like looking into a kaleidoscope and seeing these memories whirling around, the fractured bits of images, but also the surrounding envelope of how I felt that magical year. I was happy. Safe. Secure. Challenged – I was not bored, definitely. I can only think I’m being reminded of this in such an intense manner for a reason, especially as that is so different from how I feel now.
Driving to work this morning, the sun was coming up and giving everything a strong dose of golden brightness, which was particularly beautiful with the blue sky and trees dusted with fresh, white snow. It is important to see these moments of winter beauty and enjoy them or the season can seem even longer and more depressing once the holidays are over. Winter with this much snow – closing in on 3 feet already – can be very tough when you’re not used to it, but sunshine and blue skies rather than grey, gray and more gris, can help the mind cope.
I find dreams that are more vivid than real life quite unsettling. Even if the impression of the dream was of perfect happiness and hope. The desire to go back into the dream and stay there, even after I’ve gotten out of bed, is more than a little, well, overwhelming, for lack of a better word. It goes well beyond tempting, especially in the wee small hours of the morning. Even after waking up with coffee, the dream still persists, but now it is more like a toothache, bothersome rather than a delight. I keep poking at it all day.
We took a mini vacation today: after getting the basic chores out of the way, we settled in to an afternoon of NetFlix and hot snacks (mozzarella sticks, filled phyllo triangles, mini tacos) with champagne to wash it down with. Watching The Man Who Fell To Earth for the first time in twenty five years was certainly interesting. . . what with David Bowie, New York City (ca. 1975), space flight as a private enterprise (how timely!), betrayal, it was quite the cinematic experience. Not to mention a far better print than we got through the college Film Society distributor.
There is a really satisfying feeling that comes from finishing a sweater and having it fit. Maybe for this sweater that is particularly true. I first started it during my winter of underemployment two years ago, after buying the yarn at Diana’s SuperBowl sale. It was still a WIP when it traveled with me to my first Rhinebeck that fall, to get inspired so I could continue knitting it. A year ago I frogged the too big and loosely knit but nearly complete sweater during Ravelympics, and cast on again. The final sweater is beautiful and worth the time invested.
I failed to protect the house this year. I didn’t do the New Year’s perimeter walk, leaving sage in my wake. I don’t remember the last time I burned sage in the house, or even sprinkled sea salt water in the house. I think it is time. Geoffrey even joked (I think… I hope!) that we should have the house exorcised. There appears to be bad juju in the house; we have both spent far too much time sick this winter. Maybe I could start by taking care of several repair jobs that have been outstanding for several months now
I was shocked to discover that one my primary sources of entertainment over the last year is gone. One of the main forum boards on Ravelry closed today and while I do understand the logistic realities that spurred the decision (it was massive and very, very active), I completely disagree with how they handled it. Some of the threads were real head-scratchers (“what?!”), but you never knew what was going to come up next – humans are perplexing. I’d been bumping for Laura (“My sister is missing in Florida”) for nearly two years now and had found a few kindred spirits.
The sun came out this afternoon. I noticed this startling fact while sitting at my desk, because over my left shoulder, there was suddenly light. An office window is certainly nice to have, whatever the view. A view of the harbor, with boats dotting the surface, or even choppy and empty in the howling wind, is about the best view I can imagine. Being able to see something beyond the computer screen, and the corner of my office, is very, very important to me. I don’t like the feeling that I’m in a box, trapped, reinforced by my physical surroundings.
I’m appalled to discover that educated adults think that reality shows like American Idol are real and “live”. Until the week of voting, they are fake, scripted productions and the producers are pre-selecting participants based not on talent, but on potential profitability for the TV show. There are disclaimers displayed right there on screen in the credits! (I know, I’m the only one who reads the credits.) And to then, crestfallen, the thought finally occurs to these idiots that maybe America’s phone voting in the “live” weeks may not be tallied correctly, that maybe the final winner is rigged? Really?
Boston or California? Oh, there’s no question about it, especially since he’s limiting it to southern California: Boston it is. If we’re moving because he has to work, then it has to be somewhere that I can also find work. I might be able to find a job in Boston but I think the Los Angeles area would be death to my career, so what’s the point? Also, I have about as much interest in living in LA as Florida, which is to say: none. And I could keep all my handknits in Boston and knit more from my stash.
Late morning fun leads to an adventure of discovery. The decision seemed straightforward at first: we were not in our usual neighborhood, but somewhere that is really out of the way for us, and there were excellent Indian restaurants, so let’s have lunch! G successfully located the place using only his memory of one previous visit, but alas! It is closed. As was the next place we found, quite a bit down the road. Finally, having progressed closer to home base and the dinner hour, I suggest the Portugese restaurant we’ve seen before. And lunch there was worth waiting for.
It all started with a $75 bottle of wine. I had no intention of spending that much to try the wine I’d heard so much about but never saw in local stores and really wanted to try. Having run through finances the night before, I knew I could splurge and this particular bottle (not the most expensive by any means) was coming with very high recommendations. That single extravagance, however, was like opening the floodgates today: I bought clothes (not just because they were 30% off, but it helped) and, of course, yarn, assisted by 20% off on some skeins.
Some days you just have to go with the flow. No matter what your plans are, no matter what deadlines you have looming over you that cause you to squirm with increasing discomfort, the universe has other plans for you. They may be better than your own plans, or perhaps not; you won’t know until everything is over and done with but there’s nothing you can do at that point anyway, so sit back, try not to fight it, just let it wash over you, maybe you’ll learn something new or vaguely interesting. Or so I keep telling myself today.
Socks! I have handknit socks! They may not be perfect (maybe a bit big in the leg?) but they fit my foot and they will definitely keep my feet warm in the house. I’ve got more yarn ready to go, but issues of gauge will slow me down from starting the next pair immediately. Although I admit to being ready to knit swatches! Although I am eager to have another pair of warm sockies in this very cold winter, I am not going to turn into a sock-a-holic for many, many reasons but mostly because I like sweaters too much.
The email, casual as it appears in my personal inbox, is disheartening. Clearly, another wrong turn was made and cousin Chris is in trouble again. He seemed to be doing so well, going back to school. His expectations for success and high-income leading to early retirement after getting a degree was perhaps a bit skewed, but he always did have big dreams. There’s very little I can do to help him, however, I realized that long ago. Struggling now with my career choices, success, and income, just saying, “keep you head down and work hard” seems even less useful now.
It is official: I’m done with winter. Another foot arrived overnight, bringing our January total to an all-time record high. Yes, the fresh snow is pretty and sparkling, the trees covered in snow are picturesque, especially the evergreen boughs drooping from the weight of this heavy snow. Digging out yet again is highly overrated: ice is layered in the snow this time. A few hours after sweating up a storm outside comes the payback: I’m frozen and I can’t get warm. I really want to just make it a snow day but work deadlines are pressing too tight to ignore.
The final bit of a craptastic day: Grandma’s gone. It is not unexpected: she was in bad shape, and not happy, not really able to participate in her own life anymore, so this is a good thing, that she’s released and her soul can join Grandpa. I bet they’re having quite a party. Still, it makes me sad and weepy, mostly for Mom, who’s really had a tough twelve months. I understand this is the cycle of life, but sometimes it seems like you’re caught at the bottom of the wheel and it is just grinding you. Be happy, Grandma.
I’m not happy at having to work this weekend. I don’t work evenings and weekends, I have a life outside the often. I am caught between a rock and a hard place on this, however, there is a deliverable to the client, and I have work to contribute to that deliverable, there is no one else to do it. To have himself whining about it as well really doesn’t help – sorry I can’t come out and play with you but that’s the way it is. It isn’t a surprise, I’ve been saying all week it will be a death march.
The best thing about posting photos is the comments. Most people seem inclined to praise anything that gets shared with a photo in a forum, they’re very encouraging in this community, but something unusual, or clearly superior really sparks the love and appreciation from other knitters. This ostrich plumes lace is striking in its appearance (and simplicity, but don’t tell anyone!) and hand-dyed tussah silk that glows from the inside is beautiful. I managed to catch the best of the combination in the photos. It almost makes up for not having had a weekend, working straight through with ugly headaches.
Bolting out of the office tonight, I am stopped in my tracks by the light. Light across the water, sunlight, daylight – hallelujah, it isn’t dark out at 5 PM! The days are getting significantly longer, Imbolc is just around the corner. Before I know it, the spring equinox and daylight savings time will be here, then summer. It is very difficult to imagine that right now, however, with all this snow on the ground, piled everywhere, seemingly here to stay. That little peek of daylight, not dark pink, but bright, light blue still glowing in the west is quite encouraging.
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