Thursday, December 18, 2014

An Excuse Not to Bake for the Holidays

Off and on for most of my life I have cranked out batch after batch of Christmas cookies for holiday feasting or gifts. My last years in Oklahoma City I made eight or ten trays with four to six kinds of cookies, a quick bread, and some homemade candies garnished with holiday commercial candies & wrapped in cellophane. I loved making them and they were well received as gifts. Since I have lived in Massachusetts I have not made a single batch of Christmas cookies. Mainly it's because I don't have enough people to gift to make it worth while to make many different kinds, and it's not as much fun to make just one or two kinds. Maybe next year I will make some and take them around to my neighbors. It was never cheap or easy to make them but I liked doing it. Some years I did them by myself, other years my daughter Jennifer would help, or my nephew Kyle, or Shana's Aunt Rita.

When I was a girl we would make a lot of cookies, and for the holidays we would make several favorites and a couple of experimental varieties. There was often an Irish Tea Cake, and always some kind of sweet bread for a quick and festive Christmas morning breakfast. It's a tradition worth keeping.

For my excuse this year maybe I will blame it on Martha Stewart, who does everything so well that there is no need for mere mortals to even try.  I do see that she has loads of help, so my pathetic lack of staff will be an additional excuse.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas by the Numbers

2014 shipping
I've finished my crafting and even shipped all my non-local gifts out (if you are expecting one look for it on Monday) and here are the knitting numbers:

Pairs of socks: 5
Hats:  6
Mitts: 3
Shawls:  1
Slippers: 1

There is also an item crafted but not knit, but the recipient is a reader, so you'll have to imagine something fabulous. This does not include things that were ripped and reknit, either! There is also a pair of mittens still on the needles which I decided against gifting, so it will be for me. I am still watching Christmas movies, but now I do it while relaxing and knitting for myself or reading.

Our westie has proved to be an unexpected bar to knitting efficiency. Not only has she decided that time spent in the same room with a dog should be time spent with the dog on your lap, but she is taking an unholy interest in my yarn. She seized a leftover quarter skein of cashmere sock yarn and unspooled it into a horrid mess (which I wound back into a ball because I am determined to have it as wristers for
Roxy in her new bed
myself) and is trying persistently to get at the 40% angora scarf I have started for myself with "souvenir yarn" I purchassed on a visit to New Hampshire.  That project is likely to proceed slowly because it is a twelve row pattern which is not charted and apparently I am only going to work on it when I am not at home. I will chart it, but I still have to pay a little attention because although it is a simple lace pattern it is one where errors will to noticeable. I wonder how long I can keep the finished object from her.

Scarf in progress
This week I am putting my money where my mouth is and beginning a volunteer position. I will be volunteering at the Centerville MSPCA facility, I think I will be doing my what they call Direct Animal Care. What that entails exactly I am not sure, but I will be helping to care for animals who have not fared as well as my Amazing Roxanne, who will be turning 16 this year. She's been with us since 2001, and Shana's father is fond of saying she won the lottery when she came to us. As long as I am in good health and have the time I want to contribute some good to our community.

Lest anyone think that the Amazing Roxanne has turned into the "good" dog, let me tell you that we now keep our toilet paper in a little basket on the counter. Yesterday she discovered that the tissue paper sticking out of gift bags makes a very desirable toilet paper substitute for tearing up.  Any facial tissue left around, especially if it contains some DNA is fair game. Also I forgot I had been given a candy cane at my Monday morning meeting with the Twisted Stitchers and had left it in my knitting bag on the floor.  She has almost the knack of getting into the treat cupboard, too.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Did You Put Your Tree Up Yet?

We have ours up. This year it is a table sized tree with vintage style colored bulbs and red and white bows. There are already a few things under the tree - my daughter Samantha always does her shopping on Black Friday and mails early. Not me. I am still finishing up on a few projects. I'll be finishing my shopping today and still have one project to do before I can ship. I generally come in on time but never early. When my kids were young I had their shopping done the first week of December, mainly because the most popular toys would sell out if I waited longer. Now that I am not worried about that I sometimes have knitted gifts drying on Christmas Eve.

As usual, I am calming my holiday anxieties by watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel. I (sort of) ran out of Hallmark movies last night and checked out what was playing on Lifetime. Turns out there is a significant difference. Hallmark holiday movies take place in small towns with slightly older (to really older) characters - usually of an age to have children in the photogenic school-age to young teen ages.  Lots of dead spouses, more than I would have thought statistically likely. Lifetime seems to be going for a younger crowd with glittery parties and romance among the never-married late twenties age group. Lots of outdoor snow scenes on Hallmark, lots of dancing and parties at Lifetime. Sweaters and caps on Hallmark, cocktail dresses on Lifetime. Both channels go with a female centered story. Take your pick. The premium channels have a different selection, with big budgets centered on a more male point of view. The Hallmark bride married Santa Claus; the star of the HBO story IS Santa Claus.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

WKRP Thanksgiving Promotion

If you haven't seen this one for a while it's worth a look. Cracks me up every time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Check Your Privilege

Having grown up in a Catholic family Irish on one side the concept of "Who do you think you are" and a robust sense of the starving children in China I may have escaped the sense of my privilege but not the fact of it. If you did not like what happened in Ferguson but think it will not happen to you because it's strictly a Black thing you need to check your privilege.

Another thing you should do is read Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. Thoughtfully. When you step out to demonstrate against Wall Street, Income Inequality, Personhood, or whatever White People's Issue mobilizes you you may find that the tear gas is aimed at you. Unless you are of the 1% Ferguson is your town, Ferguson's civil rights are your civil rights.

So. If you are not already voting at every opportunity, start now. If you have something to say, say it now. Don't let your silence be taken for consent. If your elected representatives do not act in the interest and with the will of the people they serve vote them out. When the next batch proves no better vote them out too. 90% of the American people want gun control, want Medicare to be able to negotiate prescription drug prices, want to see banksters go to prison for tanking the economy and letting us pay for it, want the minimum wage to be a living wage.

And for something completely different:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

I am early with my Thanksgiving thoughts, but most likely if I wait until the right time the thoughts will have run out of my head and I will end up posting some dopey platitude and running off in embarrassment.

The list of what I am grateful for gets longer every year if counted individually: that I am still driving, knitting, able to kayak and cycle for hours, able to walk for miles, able to read, cook, talk, go where I please. They are all the same thing, really. I am able. No catastrophic illness has found me, no accident robbed me of my abilities. At 65 I am a little slower but still able, and the better for the years of learning how to do things in ways that get the most done with the least amount of effort.

My mother and my siblings, my nieces and nephews are all still living, except for a baby brother gone in infancy who I can hardly remember. We are in various stages of health, but all still enjoying life. My children and grandchildren are all well. All have homes and enough to eat. We have enjoyed lives which might be difficult to our eyes but in comparison with much of the world are luxurious beyond imagination.

I am living in my own home with a wife who treats me like a queen, with two dogs, a car of my own, and space for as much gardening as I choose to do. I live in a beautiful place within 15 minutes drive of the beach, and 90 minutes from a world class city. I have enough money to afford hobbies,  the time to pursue them and friends to join in the fun.

The things I miss or wish for are fewer. I have lost some dear friends among my in-laws and there are friends around the country who I may not see for many years. My ability to travel is not infinite. The Internet keeps them in my life. I need no material thing, and there are very few things I desire that I do not have. My life is good and I am thankful.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A "Musical" Interlude

I ran across this odd Chinese music video. I don't know if I can recommend it, but it certainly has a completely new take on chickens! Yes, I still nurse a little chicken obsession although I have pretty much decided not to keep any at my house.