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Catching up by phone in under an hour is a fine art, probably only possible when you've known each other about thirty-five years. Half sentences, one-word references, significant pauses, and tone can each distill whole sentences. And yet... it isn't enough. I want to sit and chat while we have dinner, then linger over wine as we start the serious conversations. Just us. It has been years since we did that. Seriously, years - possibly double digits. In the last decade, either I've had to get back to a conference or she had to get back to the family.
The knit-nite anniversary party was quite fun - and time seemed to fly. This is the first time the whole gang has been together in quite a while. Since summer ended, the group has been somewhat fragmented. But tonight, there's a certain giddy enjoyment around the table. There were no late drive-by visitors that brought the party down. There was storytelling and oversharing, as usual. And today is also the real anniversary: we heard the "origin story" from our founding mothers, complete with Ravelry posts, and the very first meeting of what became this group was on December 2.
We finished putting up the holiday lights this afternoon, and of course, we have loads of extra C batteries, but we're one D battery short. Our reward is afternoon tea is cocoa with homemade marshmallows from KnitNite and some apricot pannettone. I hope that the lights tonight will help me gear up for Christmas. I haven't done anything yet - no cards or gifts. And even worse, I don't even have a list of ideas. Thankfully my list is very short. I will have to pay attention in the next week or it may be a very disappointing Christmas all around.
Gingerbread. Cranberry. Pumpkin. This time of year is filled with wonderful flavors for baking. Today I am overcome with the desire to bake all.the.things. Every year, I dream of spending days in the kitchen, baking fresh cakes, cookies and muffins, to then stash in the freezer - treats for dessert, tea, or a special snack. It has never actually worked out that way. Even if I suddenly had the day to myself to bake, there's no room in either freezer, upstairs or down. I have to find a solution - that was one of my reasons to get a freezer.
The last two days have been filled with laundry. And dread. Tense stomachs. And more than a few rants from himself. But now it appears that we know who the culprit is, and the whole experience has a different flavor. It isn't the middle guy, trying to establish his alpha status. It isn't the young guy trying to adapt in a strange place. It is the old lady, the empress, whose health is suddenly and sharply failing. She was sending a message in the only language she had, but we couldn't interpret the message until we knew who sent it.
As the dishearting drama continues, I worry that tomorrow's visit to the vet, rather than a perfunctory checkup, may bring a very difficult decision. No, that's not true: the decision will be easy, but living with it will be hard, although the potential has existed for more than a year. She'd been doing so well this summer, but she started to slide downhill in early November. I can't help feeling guilt, that perhaps adding the new guy to the house may have tipped the balance for her, and could be hastening her decline. She's not eating, she's not cleaning herself.
Just when you think you have it figured out, that you know who is doing what - surprise! The universe pulls the rug out from under you. That is what it felt like tonight when I was presented with indisputable evidence about which cat was responsible for the nasty surprises this last week. The fall out of this discovery was substantial, but I realized I have finally learned how to handle the vitriol that gets directed to me at times like this. I still don't understand the reasons, but I no longer let the waves pull me under and drown me.
Stuck behind a school bus at 9 AM, I found myself wondering at what time this elementary school begins classes? The bus was clearly at least ten minutes from dropping off students at an elementary. I also found myself somewhat shocked - in the best possible way - that the kids at the back of the bus were playing the wave game. You know, wave at people in the car behind the bus, see if they wave back? We used to do that forty-plus years ago. Despite the Internet and cable TV, it seems kids are still kids: I waved back.
Big, fat, peony pink cormo wool is about as opposite from laceweight, tan camelhair as you can get. The size 9 needles seem almost too large to work with after so much time knitting on size 2 needles for so long. It is startling how quickly it knits up, I cannot wait to start. But I have to figure out what the yarn wants to be, first. I was thinking of a girly bed jacket. Or a long tunic vest. I'm not sure how far the 1200 yards will go - is it enough to be a decent pullover or cardi?
In order to make Sundays more relaxed and relaxing, I am trying to get more of my chores done on Saturdays. Specifically, I am talking about laundry. When I do laundry on Sundays, no matter how early I start it, it ends up nicely folded in the basket, which is still sitting on the floor outside my closet at 10 PM. And that means it doesn't get put away. I have spoken to myself sternly on this topic several times to no avail. I finally capitulated and doing laundry on Saturday seems to be the compromise that works out best.
Sometime over the last thirty years, it became difficult to find a really good Christmas tree for decorating. Searching for Pottery Barn lifestyle decor perfection, growers seem to have forgotten that there must be room for the decorations to hang. Most trees now for sale have essentially a solid surface, from years of pruning growing trees into the "perfect" triangular shape. Now decorations perch on the branches, like birds, rather than being able to hang freely and twirl or sway slightly, so as to show off their glitter and glam to best advantage. Does this make the ornaments sad now?
A black hole day, one for which I cannot remember any distinguishing features. My calendar is mute, as well as my email folders and other electronic traces of my life. It was clearly the usual Monday: go to work, deal with crap and come home. I don't know what to write about on days like this to start with, the quotidian diary of life is a bore, but when nothing happens - and there's no trail to follow when the system eats my words - there is really nothing to report of interest and I have no time to be that creative.
I am surprised by the fact that the sweater is fingering or sport weight. I was sure it was heavier, was certain that I would knit it up in the cream cormo wool I've been saving. I should have known it was fingering, I did know what yarn was used for the original. But I saw what I wanted to see when I looked at the sweater. That does tell me the direction I need to go to find the right pattern for the cream cormo - something cabled with a shawl collar. And maybe a cardigan rather than a pullover.
Another massive security breach has been announced. I really do need to move my email to a different provider, one that actually focuses on secure email, rather than providing content to the world. I started the process months ago, but because it is such a pain to move everything, and get the software installed and working on all devices, I let it stall. No more dallying, sometime during the long weekends at the end of the month I need to buckle up and just do it. Because once I've road tested it, I can hopefully get others away from Yahoo.
We have another supermoon this month, and it was waiting for me, visible in my bedroom this morning when I got up. I was suprised, and a bit unsettled, to see the large, full moon shining brightly in the western morning sky, just above the tree line. It seems... an unnatural sight for earth. I am suddenly reminded of all those science fiction book covers of an off-world sky filled with different colored moons, and for a moment, my mind's eye is filled with the image of Luke Skywalker watching the setting sun on Tatooine early in Star Wars.
Now that the visit to the holiday markets in the city is definitely off, Iím desperate to find presents for himself. Particularly as Iím afraid the sweater is going to be too big. I was hoping something - or better yet, several things - would capture his interest at the holiday markets. Nearly everything he expressed a desire for is on backorder and I have not yet had luck in finding alternate sources of similar things. I was really hoping the holiday market trip would help me find some holiday spirit, which has completely failed to move me so far.
In need of inspiration today, I went looking. It took me a while, but I found it. Big color, big yarn, big needles, big sweater. Times two. And a big shawl. Just as soon as I finish the small yarn, no color sweater. I hope to finish the shawl before the end of the year, and the two sweaters before the winter is over - nearly instant gratification. I hope that having now found the next project(s), I will be able to power through the remaining bits of the Giftmas sweater - it is just a matter of completing four seams.
I don't know what I was expecting of the William Chappel exhibit, but certainly not what we found in small, nearly hidden room on the mezzanine. More than two dozen little gems, oil on slate, images of New York City as it was two centuries ago. Each painting so amazingly detailed, it requires a magnifying glass to see everything captured about daily life in a city that existed even then only in memory: street peddlers, swimming in the East River, fire brigades, funerals, markets, and lamplighters - all under the wide, open sky in delicate shades and the stepped Dutch roofs.
Berlin. Istanbul. Not even a week before Christmas. News of the world today made me sick to my stomach. Quite literally. I can't even, as they say. In the last year there has been so much death and destruction in the name of "justice" it all seems to be spiraling out of control. It is as if the Shadows have been made manifest and infiltrated every corner of the world, sowing chaos and hate, pitting every group against each other, violence the only solution they can see. It is an explosive start to this Mercury retrograde. How will it end?
This particular customer drives me crazy. Nearly every interaction in the last 15 months has been difficult, with the client vacillating between ignorance and beyond. And during mercury retrograde, it is worse, much worse. For whatever reason it seems that many of our meetings are that much worse during retrograde. We have been prepared to walk away from this nonsense before, and it looks like another batch is brewing, and so I will need bring Boss Lady into the mix. Thankfully, she was the first one prepared to walk away, more than a year ago. It may finally be time.
I hardly observed that it was the winter solstice, I have been so pressed in by the utter crap that was exploding at work today. I hardly observed any of the holidays this year, for similar reasons. Pathetic. Iíve been in this quandary for decades now, with work ruling my life, making me ill, or not having time to recover when I am ill. It needs to stop. I need to stop it.Two new hires should make it easier, if I can train them. My real resolution for next year is to find and hold a better balance.
I will be out of the office now for nearly two weeks, between working from the local incubator, time off and the holidays, I won't be back until January. I need the time off to decompress away from people, to put down the artificial smiling mask, to speak as I want to rather than always in even tones. I really need to start doing my own work, rather than showing others how to do everything. I would really like to throw them off the deep end, and let them sink or swim at this time, but that would be counterproductive.
The start of a four day weekend, a holiday weekend, and the roads are a mess - although it is clear and dry. The holiday spirit is still in hiding - at least for me. The tree is decorated at last. Presents have been sorted out. Cards were sent and some received. We figured out how to hang the stockings by the chimney with care. There was even snow, for a brief period. But I still do not feel motivated to celebrate Christmas. My only motivation is to hide in a blanket fort, sit in my chair, watch beloved movies and knit.
I have a feeling that the long holiday weekend will not be very restful or relaxing. Today's list of stuff to get done is much longer than I'd imagined, but the stuff just doesn't get done by itself. I'd thought of spending the afternoon with a drink, some knitting and music or holiday movies, but it will be late afternoon before I get the minimums done. I should have poured myself a glass when wrapping presents. So much for the Christmas spirit - I'm still not very emotionally invested in it this year, not yet. Maybe tomorrow morning will change things.
Geoffrey likes to say that eating well is the best revenge... if true, then we certainly took our revenge on everyone today. I have finally figured out the Christmas roll recipe that works best for me, with an enriched no-knead dough, heavily loaded with butter, cinnamon and nuts. We got through the long mid-day stretch with a bowl of cioppino from last night, with a glass of champagne. And for dinner, the rib roast, while slightly more done than we prefer, was extremely flavorful. The yorkshire pudding, made in the roasting pan, is the best I've ever made.
No rest for the wicked translates into no lounging around on Boxing Day this year. Today's list was again long, which I found tiresome in more ways than one. I would like one of these long weekends to actually be relaxing - long weekends have been the only vacation I've had this year. Yet I spend most of them getting shit done, like sorting through the stack of health insurance claims, trying to figure out if all claims have been submitted. It isn't until after dinner that I finally get out my big fat yarn and start swatching the purple cashmere.
Tonight I went through all the medical claims paperwork for the past year, trying to figure out what had not yet been submitted. I will not miss doing this bloodly slog next year when we will have a 'traditional' health insurance plan. Though it will cost more up front, if we have a real need of it, the coverage is much more complete. Doing claims and insurance enrollment paperwork during the holidays is pretty lousy timing. That said, if we get all the reimbursement claims back in early January, that will be the balance we need to cover house taxes.
I am sick. And as usual, now is when I'm overwhelmed with the desire to bake everything. Gingerbread. Gingerbread pudding cakes. Cranberry-orange rolls. Pumpkin bread. Ginger creams. Shortbread. Sour cream cookies. Sugar cookies. Molasses cookies. Candy cane cookies. Soft toffee cookies. Banana nut bread. Chai pound cake. Biscotti - all sorts of biscotti! I think next year I may need to figure out how to do a modified Christmas cookie plate exchange, but with mini-breads and such. Spend Thanksgiving weekend baking and give them out in early December. Biscotti and some cookies can be made in advance and frozen.
As the rain sets in, I give up all pretense at working from home today. It is a miserable, grey, cold and wet day. I am tired, cold, and aching. I don't care about all the things that "need" to be done for the office. As Scarlett said, tomorrow is another day. Today is for me. To rest and sleep. To watch the last episodes of Downton Abbey while knitting. The christmas rolls are gone, but there's still lebkuchen and moose munch to sample. It will be a mental health day as much as it is a physical health day.
All of the Fairy Hoarmother elf givenings have been received. I hope she enjoys not just the chocolates, but the whirlygig. That she's not put out by it, but accepts it in the spirit in which it was given - a random act of holiday spirit giving, just because we can. Having sent an expensive to a relative this year because it was needed to maintain communications - and not having heard a single thank you - I was beginning to feel quite Scrooge-like. Doing something for someone else just for fun, to make someone smile, took the edge off that feeling.
A day spent trying to tie up loose ends, forgetting that Mercury is still retrograde. I should be happy for overall progress, even if I didn't really complete much. I got pantry supplies for the office, and went to the bank. I paid bills so I will enter the New Year owing no one a penny. I completed a work project. I did some baking, cleaned the kitchen and fridge. Laundry was done, but not put away - I simply ran out of steam after so much activity on my first day "back". But I was awake to usher out 2016.
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