Monday, December 31, 2007

You canNOT be serious.

You'll need a little bit of background to appreciate this one.

Paul has a lot of relatives. (Well, so do I, but that's not what we're talking about right now.) Most of them live pretty close to us, but there is a contingent in Indiana, and a few in other states. A couple of years ago, around Christmas, we got a call from a second cousin living in a nearby state. She didn't seem to want anything in particular, or have anything particular to say, but whatever. Paul chatted with her awhile and she seemed happy. It must be said that she is slightly loopy and more than slightly nosy, but Paul is a patient man.

About a week ago, we got a call from her again, at just after 7:00 in the morning. A bit early, but we figured it was our every-couple-years Christmas call. I can stand lots of things if they only happen every couple of years. Unfortunately, Kooky Cousin (hereafter known as KC) was a bit behind on family stuff and asked how our beautiful little boy was doing. Paul explained that we had lost him when he was two months old, very sad, thank you for your sympathy.

"WELL," said KC, in the way of well-meaning but buttinsky people everywhere, "you should adopt from China. There are two couples at my church that have adopted from China, and it has just been wonderful." I'm sure there was more, but I was spared the play-by-play. Paul did the Nod and Smile Routine, in which you pacify someone but pay no attention to their advice. After all, while KC is related to Paul, she doesn't really know us and is at least a year out of date. He didn't feel like sharing personal plans for our family with her. We talked about the phone call and forgot about it.

Okay, now you're caught up. I hope that wasn't too painful.

This morning, the phone rang at 6:42. In the morning. (I said that already, but I thought it needed repeating.) I would only call someone at that hour if a) I knew for a certainty they were up and I had something important to tell them that could not wait, or b) there was a flat-out it's-time-to-panic-now emergency. Since anyone who has ever been slightly acquainted with me knows that I do not rise cheerfully from my bed, I assumed that someone had died or was in the process of it. Having recently received a phone call from the EMS regarding my mother (she's fine) and also having an uncle who we recently found out is quite ill, I was even a bit more attentive than usual to the possible emergency issue.

You see where this is going, but I, in my sleep-induced numbness, did not.

"H'lo?" I mumbled, thanking goodness and Paul (who put it there) that the phone is right by the bed.

"Yes, is Paul there?" Well, yes, but he's in the bathroom. I might tell you this if I know who you are, but you've not identified yourself. And you do not have an Emergency Tone, so why are you bugging me?

"He's not available," I said, with more politeness than I felt. "May I take a message?"

"Oh, this is just his cousin Kooky from Nearby State! I called to see if you'd taken my advice about adopting from China."


I just wanted to let that sink in for a little bit. A crazy woman called me at quarter to seven this morning to ask if we had decided to adopt from China.

AND THEN she asked me my name.

I am not making this up.


Anyway, after I said something along the lines of, "Well, we didn't really do anything major in this last, y'know, week and a half," I heard Paul coming out of the bathroom, and I passed the phone over to the person who was guilty of being related to the kook on the other end.

KC, perhaps rethinking her original strategy, didn't mention China to Paul, but instead grilled him about the possible worth of her current vehicle, which is a '92 Something Junky with only a few rust spots. She got it from a former missionary to Mexico. I'm unsure how this affects the value of the vehicle, but she felt it was important. After being told six different ways how extremely difficult it is to evaluate a car you've never seen and have only the barest details about, she signed off.

I heard Paul hang up the phone in the kitchen and then say, "I wonder if she's been drinking?"

While this latest episode has been quite entertaining for both of us, I am hoping that it will not become a regular occurrence in our household.

So. If you have to call me early in the morning for some reason, and I am not by the phone with caller ID, I hope that you will understand if I let you go to the machine and identify yourself before picking up.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Oh, presents!

My brother and his family stayed with us for the last few days, and we had our family's Christmas celebration on Saturday the 29th. I had so much fun with my sister-in-law and my niece, who have also recently picked up knitting (my sister-in-law was a knitter when young, but hasn't done anything with it for awhile). They are now calling me The Enabler. I think it's because I went to yarn shops and patted skeins with them. And I had fun with my brother, too, and my nephew, but they did not knit. I think my nephew would, but he's two, and his favorite thing to do with yarn is grab and run.

Anyway, I so much enjoyed giving away the few Christmas handknits that I had this year. I would like to do more next year, but I know myself. I will need to start in February if I want to do it without having a nervous breakdown. Here are the things that I did this year:

I tried to tailor things to the recipients in nice ways. The legwarmers were for my sister. They are super soft and machine wash and dryable, because she is Anti-Handwash.
The multicolored scarf was for my sister-in-law (the one that was staying with us), and was just a couple of Noro Kureyon skeins done up in seed stitch. Nice and warm, because she sometimes rides her bike in the city in the wintertime.

The orange scarf, which translates least well to photography, is a simple garter stitch with a ruffle on each end. The yarn is all cotton from Maggi Knits, and it's so bumpy and fun; it makes a wonderful texture and looks like much more work than it was. I am hoping that it will complement my sister-in-law's favorite color.

I need to learn to photograph my projects better, because I don't think any of them look as yummy in the pictures as they do in real life.

Right now, in the washing machine, I am felting a Bracelet Bag from Crazy Aunt Purl, which I whipped out this morning while I was staying home from church because I felt pretty queasy. Really, I was not well enough to go, but sitting very still except for my wrists seemed okay.

I need to make some progress on the in-midstream projects, because I have so many Grand Ideas for new projects. And I need to figure out my travel knits for when I go a-visiting to Canada next weekend. And what to take to help my 19-year old niece, who is going along, with her very first knitting stitches! (I'm so proud.)

I'm feeling a little sick again. I think it's my body's way of punishing me for all the evil foods I ate during the past week. Ugh. Saltines and 7-Up, here I come!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Silent Night

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even to go to a party. And boy, were they happy. Yes, even though we are invited to something, we are staying in this evening. I am so thrilled. I even had baklava all baked and ready to go, but when Paul said, "Hey, let's skip it tonight," my response was very little hey-I-got-ready-for-this and almost completely oh-are-you-serious-I-love-you-for-saying-that. So I am in my jammy bottoms and a t-shirt and I am planning to start knitting myself a new lacy shawl with some silk yarn that has been calling to me. He's outside playing with the cows (actually, I think he said he was moving hay so they'd have something to eat), but he should be in soon. We can sit by the fire and not do anything that we don't deem worthy of the effort required to rise from the couch. Pure heaven.

I wish for all of you a Christmas Eve so exactly suited to your desires. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Presents Complete

Hooray! All my Christmas presents are complete. I'm very excited. Now I just need to wrap them. Or -- and this is much more likely -- dump them in gift bags. Gift bags are God's little present to the wrapping paper impaired.

I will be posting pictures of the completed projects, but not until after the 28th -- our immediate family doesn't celebrate Christmas until then, and I don't want to give anything away. Even to my sister, who already knows what she's getting, but hasn't seen the purtiness of the finished product.

The Fabulous Maureen taught me a new stitch yesterday, and I'm whipping through a scarf using it. (In the picture, you can also view my new Lantern Moon needles, which I am pretty much in love with.)

She calls it Chain Link Fence, because when you stretch it out, it looks like a ... well, you know. It's very quick and I think it's so pretty. I have a stash of yarn that I've been looking for a project for, and I think I'm going to do an afghan in Chain Link Fence. Just as soon as I finish this scarf, which I think may be a fun gift for someone as yet to be named. Don't you just wish it was you? :)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

New Hair!

I got new hair!

Last time I saw my friend Jen, she was fresh from the salon, and her hair looked great. I was openly jealous, so she invited me to come with her the next time. I had terrible guilt about abandoning my stylist, but I decided to give it a try. I love it! (Sorry the picture isn't better, but it does at least give you an idea of what it looks like.)

My favorite part is the low-maintenance of it. I was instructed that I may a) allow my hair to air dry, b) blow it dry, c) use a flat iron on it, or d) any combination of a, b, and c. I love the flexibility. I can run out the door quickly, or I can gussy it up a little. A study of past behavior indicates that I'll take option a most often, though!

Friday, December 14, 2007


On the radio the other day, I heard a man talking about the coming of Christmas, and what it ought to mean to us. His message, at its heart, said that we've been going about this whole Christmas-is-coming thing the wrong way, which is something I've believed for a long time. While I applaud the extra cheer that many folks seem to muster up, I'm not a fan of the general frenzy that is most of December. The Christian season of Advent, he pointed out, has never been about sugar and presents and decorations, or even about families getting together. Advent is about expectation and hope, and longing.

So rather than asking you what you want for Christmas, let me ask you this: what do you long for? It may be reconciliation, or a child, or a vocation. It may be a resolution to a tangled problem in your life. What space is there in your soul that cannot be filled with anything wrapped up under a tree?

I cannot guarantee that longing will be fulfilled on Christmas morning. I can almost guarantee that it won't. So life, like Advent, is bittersweet. We are all of us walking around with holes in our hearts.

I don't have any objection to Christmas cheer. But I think it would be so nice if we took the cup of kindness with us past the New Year celebration.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Knitting Pressure

So I went to my Sit 'n' Knit group this afternoon. I thought about skipping it, because I really needed to clean up the kitchen and vacuum and do some other things. Like put up the Christmas tree already. But then I decided that the dirt and the tree would be here when I got home, so off I went. And I was glad, as always.

We had a great time chatting away, though Pat was very quiet today. She's working on felted slippers that require her to count carefully on every single row. Counting like that always shuts me up, which is probably a relief for the other knitters!

It seems like everyone was working on Christmas gift projects. Pat's slippers were intended to be presents, but she's not going to get enough pairs done, so I believe she's given up on that. Melanie just finished a collection of purses for her aunts and mailed them yesterday. She said she never wants to knit another purse. Or at least not for a long time. Maureen, our Fearless Leader, put some finishing touches on a sock monkey, Jackie was working on socks (perhaps the only non-Christmas item) ,and Pam was attempting to finish a copy of a vintage knitted Christmas stocking. Everybody in her family has one, and she's making one for her granddaughter. It's got overstitching and sequins and all kinds of good stuff. She's very brave.

I was working on finishing a set of legwarmers for my big sister. They could not be easier: K2 P2 ribbing and sewn together at the edges. They're the third and final gift for Christmas that I am knitting. I didn't want to get into knitting a whole bunch of stuff, because I knew that I would just lose my mind at about this time, and I wasn't signing up for a nervous breakdown this year.

The darlin' boy is herding me into the car. He really is like a sheepdog. I'll be back ...

Friday, December 7, 2007

My Silly Name

I wasn't sure how to introduce myself initially, because I'm not sure I'm really that interesting, except perhaps to myself and my dog. Oh, wait, I don't have a dog. Humph.

I am the Country Mouse to my old college roommate's City Mouse. (I don't mean that she is old. Certainly not, because we are the same age. I just mean that I no longer live with her.) Annie and I were paired up by the computer our freshman year, and what an interesting ride it's been. We hardly like any of the same things, except the Barenaked Ladies, alfredo sauce, and each other. She had never seen a Black Angus cow until she met me, and I had never ridden a subway until she took me on one. I hardly ever have again, unless you count in Washington D.C. and Toronto, but I don't think those count as actual subways because they're so clean. Anyway, one time I was trying to explain to her why I didn't like something (I can't remember what is was, but probably living with so many people in such a small space), and she said, "You're such a country mouse." Since she's pretty firmly a city mouse, we'll likely never live together again. I like visiting cities, and I even lived in one for almost five years. At heart, though, I like it out here where the nearest grocery store is at least a 15 minute drive away.

Besides, I got married to a farm boy, and he's not moving anywhere where he can't have at least five acres around him.

Speaking of the farm boy, he's going to be herding me into bed soon, so I'd better sign off. Happy December!