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Archive for December, 2009


Out with the old…

Dear Ellen,

dscn2247.JPGI’m off work tomorrow.  My primary objective will be to accomplish a clean sweep in my home office.  I never really unpacked and organized it after we moved in and it has only gotten worse.  I’m just hoping there aren’t any overdue bills hiding in the stacks.  With some luck and a bit of discipline, I’ll make it through the piles and start the new year off with a  clean slate.   I remembered to burn a true bayberry on Christmas Eve and have another ready to go for New Year’s, so there’s at least one step in the right direction.  I’ll find some time tomorrow to find the herring, black-eyed peas and greens.

dscn2207.JPGdscn2204.JPGChristmas was very nice.  Allen came down from NYC on the train and we picked him up at Union Station on Christmas Eve and then drove up to Fair Winds so he could see the property.  There had been plenty of snow up there too.   The dogs loved it…and Dale got a needed fix.  Allen started laying out his estate.  We told him to keep it in check.  He gets to offer ideas, but we make the design decisions.

dscn2210.JPGdscn2211.JPGAfter visiting the property we took him to Musser’s Grocery, a nice store about a mile and a half from our place.  We had to show him how to really celebrate…with pure lard and root beer reindeer.  I tell you, the Amish do it right.

dscn2209.JPGThen we went into Lancaster and stopped by the Central Market very briefly.  I had oh-so-cleverly checked to make sure it was open Christmas Eve, but had failed to note that it closed at 2:00 PM.  We got there at 1:55 PM.  It was enough time for Allen to buy a giant brownie and  for me to buy springerle cookies for Dale.  We adjourned to a nice pub for a late lunch and headed back to Alexandria.

dscn2213.JPGdscn2220.JPGdscn2239.JPGI didn’t put many decorations up this year, but the tree, stockings and penguins were enough.  Of course, dogs under the tree are obviously helpful…especially when Max is willing to wear a decorative bow.

dscn2242.JPGdscn2246.JPGWe broke tradition and  didn’t do steak and baked potatoes.  Instead we did the turkey and fixings.  It was quite good and we now have many, many, many leftovers.  Some will go into the freezer, but some will go into new year’s soup.  And I think turkey and noodles and turkey tetrazzini and turkey croquettes…

dscn2224.JPGFamily is the very best part of Christmas.  And all the way from Minnesota you helped make my Christmas special.  I got started on my Bohus wristlets (unblocked and badly focused picture, but you get the idea) before the end of the day.  And I kept the chill off with the gorgeous moebius scarf from the sisters’ weekend.  Throw in the Norwegian Handknits book, the Minnesota Knitting Guild membership dscn2250.JPGdscn2251.JPG(by the way, you said to reserve the dates for Yarnover and failed to tell me when it was) and the fun, fun, fun stitch markers and it was quite the haul!!

2010 will undoubtedly hold many stitches.  I can hardly wait to see what kind of patterns they form.

Love, Jan

So Much for My Gifts Making It by Xmas Eve!

Dear Ellen,

Today was the day I was going to get our last Christmas gifts to the Post Office.  Mother  nature had other ideas in mind.  You may have caught the weather reports telling of the blizzard that is hitting the mid-atlantic right now.  We’ve got well over 15 inches on the ground already and 8-12 more supposedly still possible by tomorrow morning.  That means I’m not going to be venturing out with any packages, that’s for sure!

dscn2152.JPGBed time last night.

dscn2157.JPGWhen we first got up this morning.

dscn2162.JPGMid day…

Can you tell that when I got up and midday were not all that far apart?…

dscn2186.JPG…and an hour later.

For relative depth, a Betty Crocker plastic cooking spoon stood on end does not reach the top of the snow on the arm of the chair.

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dscn2174.JPGdscn2183.JPGdscn2185.JPGWe did venture out with the puppies.  They had a great time and are now very tuckered out.  Ruby had to follow someone else when we left the roadway…it was deeper than she is tall!  I do love snow, so am not at all upset.  I’ve done some knitting and some wrapping, and who knows…maybe a Monday mailing will still make it by the 24th.

Love, Jan

Solstice is coming…again…

Dear Jan,

12.jpgThe shadows are growing longer.

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21.jpg33.jpgAnd the hair is growing* shorter.

I don’t think the latter really has much to do with Solstice, but my hair seems to be celebrating by jumping up in to curls.  The departed tresses will make their way to Locks of Love, a small gift on my part to start the season.

Love,

Ellen

P.S.  I know.  It isn’t growing shorter, it got cut shorter.  Poetic license.

Blink!

Dear Ellen,

dscn2141-1.JPGHow in the heck can Christmas be only 12 days away?  And why isn’t my Christmas tree decorated?  I think we must be in some sort of a crease in the space time continuum.  It was only September last week, so something is definitely awry.  At least Max has the spirit.  He found “Santa Loofa Dog,” one of his favorite holiday toys and brought him out to try to add some holiday spirit to the house.

We did manage to get out to our directorate holiday party Friday night.  Thank goodness it was a sit-down dinner.  There was dancing, but you could just sit at your table propping yourself up by your elbows if necessary.  It was actually very nice — a dinner cruise on the Potomac and the band played music I recognized.  We went to Dale’s work party today…YES, THAT’S RIGHT….HIS WORK PARTY!  Dale has a job.  Yay!  It’s only a temp job, but it is reactivating his clearance and has already gotten him a reputation with the firm that picked him up.   We think this has broken through the barrier that was keeping him unemployed.  This does mean that in the last week I had to go to the grocery store, run a load of laundry and cook dinner one night.  Maybe I need to rethink this.

dscn2151-1.JPGI have one of my Christmas gifts early.  I was going to save it, but I want to use it, so I’ll go public.  While in England I made it down to Hampshire to spend a few nights with Vanessa.  She presented me with this stunning Miko knitting bag and accessories (project and needle bags).  It is absolutely fabulous.  I shall look quite smart going to knit group in the future!

Through the last week I got bare knitting accomplished.  I am partway up the cuff on the first of the Hugs and Kisses Socks, named for the “X”s and “O”s in the stitch dscn2147-1.JPGdscn2145-1.JPGpattern.  (No Ravelry project page yet…it’s coming.)  This is the one I commented on reference your frogging post last week.  I noted that I had knit a sock and a half and ended up with one sock…that was a typo.  it should have said one-half of a sock.   At least now I can claim three-quarters of one.  I also did some more on my Einstein.  I’m at the point of picking up sleeves.  Maybe I’ll finish in time to wear it this year.

rehearsal-dinner-1.jpgWe did get our Christmas Cards labeled and signed during the Army-Navy game yesterday and into the mail today.  And I’ve started thinking about what to send nieces and nephews for gifts…adults may have to make due with 12th night gifts!  And now…it’s already time for bed.  Good night!

Love, Jan

Joy and tubulation…

Hi, Jan,

3.jpgKind of a low energy weekend here.  We just couldn’t seem to get much done.  I think just slowing down after our busy work weeks is really all we want to do on the weekend.  The birds are glad that I got this load of snow shoveled off the deck so at least I could fill the feeder.

11.jpgI did get a bit of knitting done watching old episodes of Mary Tyler Moore on Friday night while Wilson played chess.  Around and around the tube of the sleeve on my gansey, I finally feel like I’m making progress.

On Saturday we drove around and around, from one store to another, as we shopped for a new mattress.  Now that college payments are behind us and the house is nearly paid off, we splurged for a really good natural latex one.  We hope it will help us wake up truly refreshed in the morning, and if it does, it will be well worth it.  (One nice thing about mattress shopping - you get to lie down and rest a lot!)

2.jpgDuring the driving, I knit on another tube - the cuff to the second of Wilson’s broken rib socks.  I’m feeling like I’m making progress there, too.  Not very exciting as a blog entry, but at least I have something to show for the weekend.

I hope you got something done with your weekend.

Love,

Ellen

We interrupt the holiday season for some sisterly bonding…

Hi, Jan,

It really was lousy that the US Navy required your presence overseas this last weekend.  Patty and Beth and I had such a tremendous time holed up in a cabin on Lake Erie; the only flaw was pointed out on roughly an hourly basis as someone would sigh, “I wish Jan were here.”

5.jpgWe knit,

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6.jpgwe cooked (simple but yummy stuff like black bean burritoes and cheese grits with eggs from Patty’s chickens),

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8.jpgwe hiked enough to feel virtuous,

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14.jpgand we made new friends.

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dscn0194.JPG34.jpgWe saw a bear.  And an eagle.

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321.jpgAnd with a nod to the season, the weekend was over way too fast.

Next time, we insist that you go AWOL.

Love,

Ellen

Collecting stamps

Hi, Jan,

92.jpgI’ve been practicing philatelic knitting this week.  I’ve finally cast on for Rimfrost, aka Many Moments of Grace, and so far I’ve knit and reknit about a half dozen of these.  After three days this is exactly where I was at.

In an example of knitter’s irrationality, I kept going by memory when I knew I really should check my notes.  I thought I’d calculated that my smaller gauge matched the size L - WRONG! Restart for size XL to result in a roomy M.  I’m knitting from the top down, so knit two little shoulder stamps straps along with their increases to follow the circumference of the set-in yoke.  Of course, I forgot the clarification on the yoke opening decreases and knit them as I had originally interpreted the pattern - despite that I had taken part in the Ravelry discussion of the confusion. Then I got panicky about my gauge and cast on an additional 12 stitches for the bottom of the yoke.  In the light of day, that looked like it would result in a sweater for a linebacker.

1.jpgLast night I frogged again and then made some decent progress and now have two shoulders joined by a narrow bridge and the prospect of calming stockinette for a few hours - before the armhole decreases start and I’m sure I’ll have another adventure of miscalculations.

It’s part of the mystique of these sweaters.  I think that sounds much better than attributing it to my addle-mindedness.

Love,

Ellen