Sunday, December 30, 2007

Cha-a-a-a-nges....

Things change. Seasons change, opinions change, goals change. Religions change sometimes, fashions change. Years change (like in a couple of days). And more to the point right NOW, for me.... plans change .

This is NOT Minneapolis. Minneapolis is where we were supposed to be Saturday night (which was last night, where I started writing this post from my usual nest-y little post on the couch). This was the Beginning of a Bad Few Days. As I see it, there must be some bad karma that I have to use up before the end of the year, so I'm Gettin' It. Here's the deal:

I have an old friend, Howie, who performs stunning blues on the 12-string or dobro guitar. He's a master guitarist, and has a very warm voice; he patterns his style somewhat after Ledbelly, and calls some of his repertoire "Mill City Blues", as in "Minneapolis" (founded as a grain center). I met Howie while I was at Macalester College, and a fast and firm friendship was formed. At the time he was performing around town. He moved in with us for a while (me, Lovely Daughter and #1 Son). He'd hold the boy baby on his lap and the guitar in front, put the baby's little hands on the back of the guitar and play and sing (things like "Foggy Mountain Breakdown"!) and the baby would laugh and laugh to feel the vibrating back of the guitar.

It was a very fun few months, and then he moved on and so did I. Good times. I remember thinking that he was about as perfect a friend/guy as I could imagine. Well, time went by - I went to California, met Husband #2, came back, had #2 Son, began my glorious secretarial career, divorced the husband....kept in touch with Howie, though, intermittently. (Those years were me being a Hippie and me being The Baroness; Husband #2 and I founded the local Barony of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and I am SO not going there right here and now. Maybe later.)

For several years I was a Happy Single Mom. Believe me when I tell you that my children were and are totally crazy diverse enough in personality that I was perfectly content. Besides, I'm of the "A Woman Without a Man is Like a Fish Without a Bicycle" era.

NOTE: Story for another time, but one day a fella newly moved to Madison came to our SCA fighting practice and noticed me (I was the Baroness, hardly any way around it). We became acquainted shortly thereafter, and as it turned out, he has proven to be the One Man in all the World who has all the qualities I liked best in Howie - and even MORE; that would be he whom Fortune smiled on for me, now known as Mr Dearling.

Howie was living in New Hampshire by this time, and on occasion I would answer the telephone to hear his voice - I would always say "So where ARE you?" and like as not, the answer would be "I'm in the phone booth up the street." (This was, after all, pre-cell-phone, or he'd have been standing outside the door.) We always loved his visits, the kids as much as I. He's absolutely the sweetest, merriest vagabond of a musician you could ever hope to see. NOTE: this is the Innernet Era! You want to see and hear Howie? Try this: Poor Howard.

Nice, eh? "St Paul Woman" was written about a friend of ours and talks about the area we lived in around Macalester College. (He actually did write a song about/for me, but it's not on "Cultivated Blues".) So tell us, Mrs Wizard, where is all this going?

Minneapolis. Going to Minneapolis. Only things changed . After working for many years in New Hampshire NOT singing, Howie's getting to retirement and is reviving his performing career (to great and growing acclaim, unless I miss my guess). And this season, he had booked a couple of gigs in the Twin Cities, allowing him and his wife to visit family in Iowa and friends in the Cities. While not actually "in the Cities", we're pretty close, and counted ourselves among that group. We knew we wouldn't be able to make the gigs before Christmas, being as WE are now what's Over the River and Through the Woods, so we made plans to drive up last Thursday and have a couple of days to visit, enjoy his performances at Betsy's Back Porch in Minneapolis and come home Sunday in time to get ready for the New Year's festivities downtown on the Square. That's where our Museum is and we volunteer to help out with the (very popular) party-hat-making activity part of the evening there.

OK, Dale-Harriet, are you finally getting to the point? Yup I am. Where's my kleenex?

Here's what changed, leading ultimately to our changing our plans and NOT going to Minneapolis (NOT visiting with Howie and wife, NOT hearing the gig at Betsy's, NOT doing a yarn crawl, NOT visiting family.....you get the picture.)

First, the snow. (See picture above.) It began a very steady serious snow, and the forecast talked about 3-5". Then...I discovered it. My billfold is missing. Gone. Disappeared. Vamos. Resulting in my becoming majorly distressed. I was beginning to feel that I was Not Supposed to go to Minneapolis. We thought we might go up on Friday, when the weather cleared....and then the router went out and Daisy lost the Internet connection.

I see this as Handwriting on the Wall. Realized with regret that we won't be going to the Twin Cities. And then realized the full import of "I lost my billfold."

Oh, Mr Dearling took me right away to get a new drivers' license (two hours at the DMV). And then we stopped at the library and I got a new library card (there were fines I had to pay too...figures). Once home I made a list, which I'm still working on. Insurance cards, membership cards (State Historical Society, AARP) UW Staff card. I'm a Universal Life Minister and have had the same card since 1973. It's gone.

But you know - those can be replaced; it's a nuisance, but do-able. But friends...the pictures ! I have pictures in there that cannot be replaced. They're older, the negatives are gone, no one else has originals that can be scanned into the digital age. My sons in their Drum Corps uniforms. A series of granddaughter pictures from infancy (stuffed inside the little pocket behind the most recent one). Mr Dearling's folks at their 50th anniversary (that one I CAN scan, but still...).

So this weekend - and the last hours of 2007 - have been less than desireable from my viewpoint. Believe it or not, I have a little niggling feeling that my billfold WILL turn up (praying fervently in the process) and I hope it does. We'll visit with Howie again, and I do have a tape of "Cultivated Blues". I made it to Last Saturday Knit, finished "The Secret Life of Bees" and I'm thinking I'll go to the Sow's Ear later for a while to work on the toque. Oh - and I got into Ravelry! So see? Things are starting to look up already! (Billfold? If you're reading this, PLEASE come home!)

Editor's note: Ravelry? I'm "Cousin Hattie", and still have to learn my way around.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Chinese Food and Boxes

Not much progress on the cable piece, but the scarf is coming along - and that's a toque-in-the-rough, waiting to be cast on. Not much time for knitting these last days!

First - to one and all, Happy Boxing Day! It's a British tradition and enjoyed by others "in the Commonwealth", according to Wicki. There are a variety of reasons and meanings given; apparently it's traditionally a day of gifting one's staff and employees. And "Chinese Food"? Well, it's a sort of sub-culture tradition for Jews to go out Christmas eve, which they're not celebrating, to Chinese restaurants, because they're open, presumably because the proprietors are perhaps Buddhist and also not celebrating. Of course, there's that fabulous scene in "A Christmas Story" where the family is enjoying their Christmas dinner at the Chinese restaurant after the neighbors' rotten dogs ate theirs. {whew}

Bottom line: Christmas eve and Christmas Day are over, and I have a moment to spend with Daisy and write a post.

Christmas Eve day we celebrated with #2 Son and children. It was a first, the "new arrangement" owing to the new divorce. It was perhaps a little awkward, but mostly awfully fun, for me. One thing I did that I've SO wanted to do for a while was put new "I'm this tall" lines in my hallway. Granddaughter M has grown a spurt (she'll be taller than me, probably by this time next year); Grandson C is several inches taller than his last line. And we managed, M and I, to maintain a tradition shared (quietly) by the two of us since she was about two years old.

Every year, I set the figure of Jesus aside in plain sight, and when M came over, I would say "The baby Jesus isn't in his manger, it must not really be Christmas!" Then she would find the baby and run over to put it in the creche, THEN I would say "Aaah, OK, NOW it's really Christmas." And this year, when she's 11 years old and a beautiful "Tween" and becoming sophisticated and probably too old for such things - she did it, and looked very pleased when I said "Yes! Now it's really Christmas."

The visit was actually very nice. Mr Dearling (AKA "Grampy") made a lunch for us. For himself, Granddaughter M and me, "Croque Monsieurs", a favorite of hers whenever she comes over to visit with us by herself. Usually she helps Grampy make them, but this time we were visiting in the living room. OK, Dale-Harriet, we're game -- we'll play, whazzis "croque monsieur"? Well, here in L'Amerique, it's a grilled-cheese-and-ham sammich. Sounds more elegant in French (what doesn't?) This is a family-friendly blog, please keep your responses to yourself. Kthx.

For #2 Son who apparently doesn't like ham - grilled-cheese sandwich. (We didn't tell him that, in French, that's "Croque Madame"....he doesn't speak French anyway.)

And for young Grandson C? "Peanut-butter sammich, Grandma" No butter, no jelly, nothing exotic -- JUST peanut butter on bread. A gentleman of simple discernment, I like that.

All in all, a nice visit and by next year all these new arrangements will be old hat and comfortable and I'll look back on this and shake my head with relief. We had a quiet evening after they left, nice and peaceful. And it gave Mr Dearling an opportunity to engage in another of our personal little traditions.

The Hearts. It goes like this: We hadn't had a Christmas tree until Mr Dearling moved in with us. (See November 26 for details.) We of course had no ornaments. Mr Dearling bought some of the tiny lights and friends gave us ornaments for that first tree.

That first year - I bought a heart ornament for Mr Dearling. And I've gotten him a new one each year since. I made the ticking heart, hand-sewn with linen thread and stuffed with clean raw wool.

This is the new one, blown glass with beautiful glittery gold letters. It's a bit of a challenge each year - while heart ornaments are popular, it has to be just the RIGHT one. So far, so good. NOTE: I also buy a new star ornament every year, as a gift for Granddaughter M's maternal grandmother, a tradition started the first Christmas after her August birth in 1996, to note the "little star we share". She gives me an angel in return.

To continue the "Tradition" theme...we always go over to our friends Jack and Ginny's house Christmas Day night. (I've mentioned them before - she's the master quilter/knitter/embroiderer/cook who illustrated Golden Books in the '70s; he's a master photographer with a retrospective of Madison going back to the early 1940s.) In past years their son Steve and his wonderful bride Marcia have joined us from Fairfield, Iowa, but this year they went to her people. Steve is building the most beautiful geodesic dome house you ever saw....by hand and literally by himself . He's had help only for things like the pouring of the concrete floor, and of course has the wiring and plumbing checked for "code". But this remarkable young man, possessing all of the artistry of both parents coupled with an incredible curiosity, thoughtful approach to creative problem-solving and a lot of gumption, is creating a comfortable, cozy and wondrous home. He posts pictures of his progress - go to Steve Tiffany's Home Page and click on "geodesic dome". Prepare to be amazed. (In fact, I think he developed the magnetic poetry sets you see everywhere too - check out the rest of his website. I consider it a point of pride that he calls me "friend", and that his parents honor me similarly.)

OK - are you back? Have you EVER?? 'Cause I haven't. OK - back to our visit to his parents' home. We always sit around and overeat ridiculously on the most delicious tidbits, interspersed with a wide variety of fascinating topics, observations, recollections and kitties. This year Ginny made spanakopita (her daughter-in-law Marcia's succulent recipe) and she found some lobster bisque to start with that was chunks of lobster in a tomato-based cream-and-butter soup. I believe the correct description is "to DIE for!" And I? I brought something, too. NOTE: here comes another story; skip ahead or go get a cup of tea.

When I was 13 years old, I was invited to the bar mitzvah of a kid I knew from Sabbath School. I'm not sure why I was invited, and I think that was the only bar mitzvah I've ever been to, excepting that of my #1 Son. I do remember the kid's name, but I don't remember one single other thing about the event....except this: they served these incredible little toast rolls stuffed with mushrooms. They were delicious. Now, in all honestly, they have NOT been on my mind consistently in the intervening FIFTY-ONE years. (Thanks for the math, Mr Dearling.) But I did happen to recall them for some reason when tossing about for something yummy to take along to Jack and Ginny's. And guess what, ladies and gennulmen? I found a recipe for them on line!! THE INTERNET RULES! {{ahem}} 'scuse me.

They turned out VERY well. You see them here on my pet wheat-bedecked plate, in company with one of Ginny's hand pies, little tasty tarts filled with ground beef and raisins, spices and dried apricots; the crust has sour cream in and I'm dreadfully addicted to them. They were VERY nice with my mushroom rolls. NOTE: ever since my children were little, we've had "pet" items...pet spoons, pet cups, pet plates. Took Mr Dearling a while to catch on, but now he has pets too.

When my children were in the 4-18 range, known as the "you're-using-my-cup-get-your-hands-off-my-plate-MOMMY-he's-looking-at-me" stage, I assigned certain dishes to each kid, for his (or her) exclusive use. They all respected it instantly and to the letter; I doubt if they have any such peculiarity in their own homes, but *I* still do. What're you looking at, shut up. I like it. And this is my pet plate. So nevermind. I have plenty of other dishes and spoons for guests, so most people aren't even aware of this little - quirk. Move along, these are not the 'droids you're looking for.

So the first half of the holiday is successfully completed. To conclude,

here's Mr Dearling's creche with the baby in place. These are Fontanini figures, based on some life-sized figures dating to the Renaissance in Italy. Admittedly, there are a couple of folks that may be lacking in historical documentation - the tiny bunny angel seems to have fainted with excitement, but the baby bunny is clearly in awe of the goings-on. I myself do not know of any verification that there were rabbits, either spiritual or infantile, at the Nativity. There are, however, some twenty additional characters in the whole display (one for each year - see November 26 again).



This little guy just seems to fit - no idea where we got him but it was years ago. His little paw to his amazed mouth looks realistic to me in the scene. And I can only believe the baby would have been happy to see such a thing.





This is the newest figure, and I admit she's my favorite; a young girl busily spinning the fluffy wool on her distaff. She's ordinarily positioned with the group of shepherds and sheep, but this year I thought she should be quietly watching over Joseph's shoulder. Her face is so gently but she never stops in her industry.

Even though I grew up in a Conservative Jewish Home, I find it undeniable that the Nativity Story is a perfect story in every way, and I've always loved artistic representations of it. I took a class at Macalester called "Jesus and His Interpreters" which fascinated me every single day. The professor, Dr. Dawe, was wise and sound - he explained historically a lot of the biblical stories, including the Nativity. He pointed out that the story was not new, that in fact it's a retelling of the birth of the Egyptian god, Horus, born in a humble stable on the banks of the Nile to his parents Isis and her brother-husband Osiris. And yet, before the end of the class, none of us doubted the sincerity of his faith, and while he did not convert me he gave me a real appreciation for the historical Jesus and his life and times.

I hope, most earnestly, that you all enjoyed a warm and merry Christmas and that you count among your gifts a whole set of delicious new memories to take out and enjoy throughout the coming year.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Countdown to Christmas...a Collage

So much to do, so little time. I admit it, the holidays always creep up on me. This is obviously a character fluke of mine; it's not like there's no anticipation. I mean, the day after Halloweeen, Christmas filled all the stores. (I distinctly remember Thanksgiving, although apparently it's not consumer-worthy; aside from a few autumnal table decorations and tips for carving the turkey, there isn't a great deal around.) NOTE: I do want to mention one thing. There are lots and lots and LOTS of decorations available which claim to look like the Puritans/Pilgrims and/or Native Americans from the First Thanksgiving.

Fortunately there ARE now lots of information sites available (thank you o innernet) with good information which are slowly beginning to dispel the tons and tons of misinformation out there. Two facts come immediately to my mind: 1) the Puritans did NOT wear solid black with wide white collars and little dutchgirl caps. (Pure black like that was very hard to dye; also, they wore subtle colors, but COLORS, as in reds and blues and greens. 2) while it's very possible that there was turkey at the First Thanksgiving, as they were common fowl - historians think that it's very likely there was also lobster on the table. They weren't popular with the English, bug-looking as they are, but the Wampanoag enjoyed a lot of provender from the sea. Aren't we GLAD that didn't catch on? Think of the expense of trying to plan a lobster dinner for the whole family!!

OK. We've been thinking about gifts for the grandchildren. We don't get presents for the adult children or really anyone else. Instead, we adopt a family and get presents for them. These are families with children whose parent (usually there's only one) are unable to provide anything nice, in this year 2007, in this country of wealth and abundance. Even as a single mother with three children I never experienced that kind of isolation, so I really enjoy being able to do this small thing.

Ah - in case anyone is in need of something to do on line while watching television or chatting on the phone. There is a game called Free Rice . There's no registration, no need to put in any personal information and you totally keep your own score. It's a vocabulary-building quiz. As you answer correctly, your "best level" is recorded, and your vocabulary level changes with each word. You can raise your best level as you answer correctly. Of course, if you answer wrong it gives you the right answer and you can expand your vocabulary painlessly (and secretly). Best of all! As you answer correctly, you store up grains of rice in a little bowl. These represent ACTUAL grains of rice which are ACTUALLY donated. There are ads on each screen (for neat stuff, might I add), and each company advertising there donates money to Free Rice to be turned into the donatons of food. It's a non-profit; we're not supporting a bunch of people who aren't really doing anything.

There are 50 levels possible, although they point out that very few people ever get over the 48th level. I do fairly well at it, but my Daddy was a newspaperman and words were relished and shared. In fact, when I a kid, Dad left for work before I got up. He'd leave a word on a slip of paper next to my bed for me to find when I got up. Then, when he came home for dinner I had to spell the word, use it correctly in a sentence and define it. I LOVED that game - hence, I'm not too bad at Free Rice. Like, we all need something else to vacuum time away, but at least while you play this one you're increasing your vocabulary and ultimately feeding someone. Cool, huh?

Moving on - a little "funny".....the phone rang, and both Mr Dearling and I answered, simultaneously. The call disconnected as a result. (Don't ask me, I don't do technical or electrical or any of that stuff.) However, owing to the time, I figured it was my friend Sunawa; Mr Dearling figured it was his sister calling. I said "I bet you a new knitting book!" and the phone rang again instantly. Well, I lost he won, it was in fact his sister. So see, now I owe him a new knitting book. I'm thinking he might really enjoy one of those big stitch ditionary books, wouldn't that be nice?

I'm going to end here with a Pet Peeve. (Along with the two cats and a wide variety of teddy bears, I have quite a stable of pet Peeves, and they sometimes are more high-maintenance than either of the others.)

You might have seen that commercial on television that shows a very attractive woman reading out of what is apparently her diary, saying "Today I really struggled with my fibromyalgia...." and she goes on to describe how painful it was. Now, that might be really true, taken from genuine life, an entry in that actual woman's actual daily journal. But...I don't think so, and for some reason it rubs me the wrong way. Just sayin'. (I am, of course, glad that she's now taking Dr Yiffniff's Magical No-Fibromyalgia-Owie Pills and can write more interesting things in her diary.)

On to tidy up for the holidays.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tidying up...

a few loose ends, as long as I'm at it. NOTE: I'm writing at 2:27 AM - on account of a) I had a lovely cup of Double Bergamot Earl Grey later than I should have; and b) I'm listening to my Steeleye Span station on Pandora, to which I am addicted. So is Mr Dearling; he can play Solitaire for hours listening to his Grateful Dead station.

First, apologies for not remembering to resize the pictures in that last post. I discovered that if you click on them, you get a much bigger picture than I'd intended, which is much more revealing much clearer than I might prefer ordinarily. There it all is, right in front of God and everybody: the schmalzy quotation over my sink, my bottle of Gingko Biloba (it HAS to be front-and-center or I forget to take it, shut up), my hand-knit dishrag on the tap which was, at one time, a knitted dishCLOTH but which is somewhat the worse for wear.

NOTE: the lyrics of the song I'm listening to reminded me of one of my favorite words: FOOTPADS. Otherwise "hooligans", "ne'er-do-wells", "schmendricks". There used to be such rich words for bad guys. There's a real romance to a crowd of "footpads and cut-purses". Today we seem to just have petty-a** deadbeats and robbers.

The other picture, of Jonny-the-Clown at the fridge, reveals much of my picture collection. Now, I've read the Official Grandma's Book of Required Stuff, and in the chapter about Photos and Images, it states very clearly that you should have no more than 1/2" space between pictures of children. Most of them, of course, are my own grandchildren, but there are also pictures of dear friends' children, quaint magnets, and - to the immediate left of the lobster magnet (Bar Harbor, Maine, as I recall - thanks for asking) you can make out the photograph of Lilliane, during Passover 2005, dragging a matzoh right out of the box to eat. She doesn't even insist on cream cheese and jam on it. I figure she must've been one of Tevye's daughters in a past life.

(Aaaah..."Gaudete", from Steeleye Span's album "Below the Salt", probably my most favorite of their albums.)

Also, as I write, it is officially the Winter Solstice! According to Infoplease it's already here, having struck at precisely 12:08 AM here in Wisconsin. So this is the longest night of the year, and I'll therefore get a few extra minutes of sleep when I do cry "Uncle!" and finally go to bed.

UNCLE!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Windin' Down - a Good Thing

We're in the last days of 2007. Christmas is next Monday night - I think I'm glad I'm not knitting anything for anyone for Christmas. I haven't had a great deal of time this last week. There were some big huge things, which had the potential to be Not Great or Not Bad, and at my age (relatively considerable) Anticipation can be delicious or....apprehensive.

There were two Big Events to look forward to: Lilliane's ultrasound, to see how serious her heart murmur was, and #2 Son's court appearance regarding visitation with his young son and related matters. This last was of particular interest, for obvious reasons and because I was anxious to know about when we could see the grandchildren for Christmas. Truth is, we're hoping we can commandeer invite some grandchildren over to help decorate the tree. It's down to the wire, and the "It's a Solstice Tree, it's pretending to be a Thor's Oak" story is getting weaker and more feeble by the day.

So the first Major Event of the week was Lilliane's ultrasound. We have a pretty old pet carrier. It's cardboard, and has a clear, heavy plastic domed top on it. When we bring it upstairs and sit it on the floor, open, both kitties sniff around it curiously. Fortunately they don't remember that it's not something they love. But when the Moment of Reckoning comes and someone is lovingly picked up and stroked and cuddled -- and headed for that carrier, the memory comes flashing back. It's amazing how sweet, loving fuzzy babies can morph into pinwheeling, razor-clawed, hissing, spitting Demons. With teeth. Sharp ones.

So this time we were smart. I gave Lilly a sock full of that high-powered catnip stuff. She's Susceptible. She licked it and kicked on it and sucked on it and got downright loopy. She hopped up onto the top shelf of the cat tree and settled in for a woozy daydream. I picked her up, cuddled her, stroked her -- and it wasn't until she realized she was suspended over the open carrier that she changed her mind. Her eyes flew open and she attempted to brace all four legs against the opening. Luckily, I was able to wedge her in and close the lid with no blood being drawn. And she was all right too.

We seat-belted the carrier into the back seat and I settled in next to her, where we spent the twenty-minute drive with me hovering over the cover cooing and talking and soothing.....and Lilliane sitting square in the middle of the carrier meaowing non-stop. I couldn't hear her through the air holes on the sides, but by the look in her eyes I'm guessing she wasn't saying things like "Thanks, Mom, I've so looked forward to a scenic journey outside of that tiny cramped house of ours." (My poor BEHBEH!)

Mr Dearling carried the carrier in and set it on the floor while we checked in. I don't know if she could see the cages full of darling, adorable, winsome, fluffy, appealing noisy feisty little kittens across the room.

We went into the examining room to wait, where she we wouldn't be tempted further by the kittens; also, there is always the possibility that someone will come in with DAWGS. Lilliane is virginal when it comes to contact with DAWGS, and I wasn't interested in checking out her reaction, should that occur.

Lilliane checks things out from the safety of her carrier.

The Cat Cardiologist was delayed by getting stuck behind an auto accident on the Beltline, but eventually came hustling in, and we liked her immediately. She came in bearing several large black bags like laptop totes, and set about getting things in order. Her gear, when it was set up, consisted of what looked like a large laptop computer with an unusual keyboard; on the front was a short wand in a holster attached by a cord to the unit. Next to that she put a printer. NOTE: ponder this: our CAT has a cardiologist; there is an ultrasound machine that can be carried by a normal-sized woman in a shoulder bag; it IS the 21st century.

The upshot was this: Dr Hattie gently wrapped Lilliane in a towel and sat on a chair in front of her Amazing Machine, holding her tenderly on her lap. Mr Dearling sat right next to her and my chair was just behind, and our instructions were to just talk to Lilliane and pet her. As we did this, Dr Hattie slid the Magic Wand over her side, producing one of those triangular black-and-white images on the screen. She spent a few minutes, occasionally pressing a key on the keyboard, and explained what she was seeing.

This is Lilliane's HEART! Seen as if from the very inside her furry little body!

To make reasonable a long story....she keyed in those explanatory letters, showed us the film in motion and printed out this image. Then she took various measurements (thickness of heart walls, dimensions of chambers &c) and printed THOSE out for us. NOTE: Lilliane lay perfectly quietly in her arms, unmoving and apparently unrattled. She was Perfection in Brown Stripes, bless her little.........

PERFECT HEART! Yes, I am delighted to report that this examination revealed that she may have a little "click" intermittently, perhaps a valve snapping shut, but her heart is "within normal limits" in each and every capacity. Dare I admit it? I got a little verklempt , a tad teary-eyed. No medications, no need for being quiet (like THAT could happen, Lilly is a pistol!)

One down, with the best possible outcome. Lilliane came home in triumph.

Incidentally, Mr Dearling was very interested in Dr Hattie's mobile ultrasound, and learned that they go for about $60,000. I'd call that "money well-spent", and I say KUDOS to Dr Hattie and the University School of Veterinary Medicine whence she comes.

One down. The next event was the Son's Court Appearance, and the details of that need not be laid out -- if you've had a similar experience, you know; if you have not, be thankful. Suffice it to say only that my apprehension was greater for this than for Lilly (obviously). That is not the way one would choose to spend any of the hours allotted to one's lifetime. However - that situation was resolved in a very satisfactory way as well, and - call me a Selfish Ol' Granny - I can count on seeing Son and Grandchildren Christmas Eve day, and I am in fine fettle to prepare for what will be a very merry time. My relief at the outcome of all the stressful meetings of the week is downright palpable, and I could not imagine a dearer present for any holiday. I am a Happy Woman.

Last little Tid-bits of Joy: last week Mr Dearling appeared on National Television....uhm..er...well now, but it was the early Sunday morning local news show, in the dress of the voyageur, to talk about our new Fur Post at the Museum:

He's the one on the right. That's his Very Best Shirt, made of linen and appropriately gaudy for the French love of ornament. Also -- that's the first knitted toque I made -- not a great image, but that's what they look like. (I only have five more to finish, by the way.)

Also last week there was a big sale at our Museum Shop, and Mr Dearling obtained for me something that had stood in the hallway at the Museum since I started there as a volunteer: Jonny-the-Clown. I couldn't believe it when he told me Jonny was in the sale; nothing for it, I wanted Jonny-the-Clown. Since he came home, Jonny has been very helpful around the house.

Jonny-the-Clown helps with the dishes, and Evangeline is waiting for him to give her a little treat.

He's almost a member of the family, and is allowed Full Refrigerator Privilges. So far I'd have to say that it seems he's not going to add much the household grocery bills....I haven't seen that he's actually eaten anything!

In conclusion, this week ended in Pleasant Company and Food (always a good thing). Wednesday night was the Historical Society-wide reception, with a fine array of little nibblies. There were some of those wee spiral sandwiches, delicious meatballs, miniature chicken eggrolls, brie and fruit--and tiny creampuffs. All very nice indeed! Last night one of our former colleagues from the Museum came over for dinner (a fascinating young man with great stories about travels to Alaska and to Czechoslovakia, and his lovely friend who works in a marvelous little shop on State Street). It was one of those charming, relaxed evenings spent in fine company which are not only pleasurable but restorative.

And you've surely noticed the dearth of mention of KNITTING or READING (although at least there were CATS). I did knit some while waiting at Court; I also read a few pages of "The Secret Life of Bees" which I am continuing to enjoy and RECOMMEND (go out and get it NOW or put it on your Santy list, you will NOT be disappointed!). However, tonight is Late Night at the Sow's Ear and I mean to go and make up for the week by a few hours of Fast and Furious Knitting. I will report progress in near future.

To sum up the week? WHEW!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Not ONLY dreaming....

....of a White Christmas. It's snowing again! We have a genuine and lovely snowfall goin' on and it looks like it's supposed to look in Wisconsin before Christmas. Last weekend we had that fascinating forecast called "Wintry Mix". That sounds like plates of powdered sugar cookies,fluffy snowglobes, stuff like that. What it means is, snow...and rain, sleet, hail, ice -- all at once, so the lovely snow becomes encased in inches (actual INCHES) of glare ice. In such weather I drive like a Little Old Lady: stay to the right, go at a comfortable speed {shut UP! If you're comfortable driving over 12 MPH go AROUND!} NOTE: I have been known to flip a bird or make other obscene gestures, but I try to keep my hand below window level. I'm a lady, if nothing else, gawdommit!

Now, I'm just now getting caught up on the wonderful events of last weekend, which got set on the back burner because of my Rubber Ring Event.

NOTE: I have decided to follow the suggestions to give them to a preschool nearby (there are two, a community center one and a Montessori). And Mrs S.A.B.L.E., because you suggested it first (and because you're "local") allow me to buy you a round at the Sow's Ear when next we meet there!

Now then, a recap of last weekend, which was one of the busiest I've had all year. It's awe-inspiring how much fun you can have in one two-day period. Legally. And without booze or dope.

It started with the long-anticipated Late-Night-Slumber-Party-Knit-In. When I arrived at the Sow's Ear, Lovely Daughter was already there, along with BUNCHES of other folks. However, my Incredible Parking Karma held, and I found a spot right next to Daughter's car, in the little parking lot. Beth was there, (Chocolate Sheep) and Molly Bee sporting the FINEST piggy slippers there ever WERE (completely restored from an unfortunate canine experience!). Only she and I were wearing jammies - hers had lovely penguins; mine have woodsy, outdoorsy, hunt-y, fish-y, cabin-y things on with pine trees. They're flannel, with elastic waist and lovely pockets. (Oh - Proprietess Heather had her jams on too.)

NOTE: I love pockets in everything; as a result, I buy BOYS' jammie bottoms. For some reason, girls' ones don't have pockets. What, don't they know a girl needs the back-up battery for her tiny radio, a lip balm, some point protectors, a St. Anne's medal and a couple dollars on her, yes, even in the middle of the night? Fools!

I would like to state here, for the record, I was a Good Girl, and for the first hour I knitted steadily and determinedly on my Current Toque. (As I write, actually the next weekend, I'm all but finished; I have only to finish decreasing and draw it up and block it.) It'll be out of here before Tuesday. ::Virtual High-Five!::

During the evening I also worked on my "double Irish Hiking Scarf" pattern, which will be a baby wrap.Here it is on the couch at home, displayed next to Lilliane, who seems to be knit in the same colorway! How very Martha Stewart of me, to coordinate knitting projects with the household pets. (That's the Debby Mumm yarn from JoAnn Fabrics; they call that colorway "Adirondack".) I love the natural hues, and the way the variegation works up is just STUNNING. I can hardly wait to see how the "Beeswax" colorway works up. Watch this space.

As the evening wore on, some of the wimpy reasonable folks packed up and went home. To my delight, at one point Beth, our Hog-and-Blog Chocolate Sheep, slipped into the other room and emerged in the coziest, snuggliest jammies!! If I remember correctly, they were even an early present from Mr Beth for the occasion. NOTE: I just realized that one reason I so value all the time I spend in company with fellow knitters, be they the Daughter, fellow Hog-and-Bloggers, fellow Sow's Ear folks - it's because they ALL exude certain qualities: friendliness, creativity, artistic demeanor, willingness to share.....

As the evening wore on, Heather and Deb put on the movie "Elf", which we sort of glanced at while knittin' and chattin' and sippin' and laughin' and all that. When it was over, they tried "Pride and Prejudice", but it wouldn't play, so they put on that wonderful classic, "Breakfast at Tiffany's". It was 1:45 AM. As it had gotten to that hour where conversation lags a little (although we WERE all still quite perky), we watched it. Who could NOT love that movie? It has Audrey Hepburn and a cat. And that handsome guy. You know the one. Yeah, that guy.

The Lovely Daughter and I lasted until about 3:30 AM. We wanted, desperately, to stay on, especially since there was talk of going out for breakfast at "Smut and Eggs" in the morning. (It's a local watering hole that serves breakfast with porn movies early in the morning.) It's a Madison thing. Anyone offended just doesn't go! It's Madison. NOTE: I've seen porn exactly once - and I have to say, perhaps it was my advanced age, but it absolutely Cracked. Me. Up. Looked like an awful lot of athleticism and effort, not romantic at all, I can tell you. Here's a Dale-Harriet Homily of Life (observations over a long life): Sex is not, no matter who's directing, a spectator sport. I have spoke.

However - we did NOT make it all night (haven't heard yet if they actually did go; I'm not asking so I don't feel jealous). My Sensible Daughter decided she wanted to drive home while still conscious, and I?

I had to be at the Museum at 8:30 in the morning, in Metis apparel of the 18th century.

DISCLAIMER: this is not a particularly good picture; however, that IS me "in the 18th century". For the opening of the Fur Post at the Museum, this is what I wore. We will now resume regular programming.

The opening of the Fur Post was the Second Major Event of the weekend. I've mentioned here and there (I think) that Mr Dearling and I had wanted, hoped for, lobbied for this exhibit for quite some time. Having had probably two...two-and-a-half hours' sleep, I was PERKY! Well, vertical. Whaddya want anyway? Actually, it was a lot of fun. Some of our friends were in town from Minnesota, visiting their college child, and they came; our good friends Ginny and Jack came; there were also quite a number of regular Museum visitors including three groups of little Cub Sprouts. We showed off the trade goods and furs like children with a school friend over, showing off their bedroom treasures. As there isn't really anywhere in or near the Post to sit down, by the end of the afternoon I had one big case of Museum Legs. You know the ones - comes from standing around and walking short distances. Not enough for exercise, too much to be restful.

When all was said and done we changed into our nicer-than-usual clothes (taken to the Museum in advance) and headed off for the Third Event of the weekend:

Dinner at a very nice cafe in Barbaoo with a crowd of old friends and new, a fascinating mix of people, followed by finding our box seats (!) at the wonderful old Al Ringling Theatre for a performance of "Nutcracker", including a spectacular small solo and role by my dear friend Jody's (eye-wateringly beautiful) granddaughter. The company at table included the Librarian of the International Crane Foundation; a fascinating college professor from Buffalo, NY and his wife; the ballerina's delightful mother (whom I've known since she was a rather little girl); my special pal Jody, other friends of hers, and of course the best company of all, Mr Dearling. It was a very congenial group, and the theatre, literally just steps from the cafe, was beautiful. I'd never seen it before (which is, now I think of it, a little embarrassing - Barbaoo is only about 45 min. from Madison and we're there from time to time, just never went to the theatre.) NOTE: Baraboo is also the home of "Circus World Museum" which was the wintering quarters of the Ringling Bros. Circus - it's fabulous, if y'all ever come to visit me I'll take you there. I also learned there's apparently a VERY nice yarn shop there, which I've never visited. Another embarrassment.

The ballet, a variation on the more traditional Tchaikovsky, was nice enough; there were some exceptional performances (the Arabian Dance was mighty fine!) and of course our darling little friend really WAS a delight. She danced with a crisp technology coupled with a quality mandatory for truly good ballet dancing. The French have the perfect description of it: Joie de Vivre . She dances with laughter in her feet and sparkles in her hands, excitement and enthusiasm in her eyes and a smile on her lips. Her variation was short, but it was an absolute pleasure to watch. (Did I mention that I KNOW? That...having been a classical ballerina myself for a short period of my life and having studied with a genuine Hungarian ballet master, I know from classical ballet? Well I do, so nevermind.)

When we came out after the performance and bade farewell to the wonderful company, it was snowing big, soft, sparkling snowflakes, perfect snow-globe ones. Absolutely breathtaking, entirely wonderful.

One last thing: After seeing me safely tucked into the car to go home, Mr Dearling stopped and wrote in the snow on the windshield before going around to the drivers' side.

That was one CAPITAL weekend.

Now I've caught up on my sleep, organized my knitting again, and this weekend is for continuing knitting, Christmas-Letter-writing and preparation. And it's snowing again, beautifully.

Friday, December 14, 2007

"Quantitatively Challenged"

All right, back to these rubber rings. I had no idea I would open a can of whup-ass create some real interest! Wait - I cannot tell a lie. That strike-out? See, I'm watching telly while writing, and someone on the show said "You musta opened up a can o' whup-ass"and I had to hold both hands over my mouth to not howl with laughter and wake up Mr Dearling who, being a Normal Human Person, is asleep in bed. All of which has nothing to do with this post. Nevermind.

So anyway! All the suggestions were really good; I can't begin to tell you how much I wish these rings were small enough to use as stitch markers, or to add beads to them to make into stitch markers. Those coins shown among the rings are quarters. Twenty-five cent pieces. They're big. They're 1/4" thick; the small ones are two short lines shy of 1-1/2" across (are those eighths? dunno) and the big ones are 1-3/4" across. If I remember rightly, those are the diameters. In fact, the small ring fits snugly and neatly inside the big ring. They're not rigid, they're flexible but not flabby. And useless of questionable value when they've finished identifying MY pill bottles.

Might I add - Mr Dearling doesn't Take Stuff. He rarely has prescriptions at all, and when he does he usually gets them from Walgreen's, so it's not like the following conversation will ever take place:

ME: Uhm...Love? It's morning time and therefore time for me to take my Bowl of Pills with Cream and Sugar that I take in the morning because I'm very old.

Mr Dearling: Well, two years ago I got a prescription for pills because I twisted my ankle. Are you sure you have the right pills there?

ME: Gee, let me see, what color of rubber rings are there on your prescriptions because I don't want to take a Twisted Ankle Pill because I don't have any. (Twisted ankles.)

Mr Dearling: YOUR pills have blue rings around their necks, they look like escapees from the Croatian Navy. Mine, on the other hand, have NO RINGS. Therefore, don't take anything from a bottle that doesn't have a blue rubber ring around its neck.

ME: OK then.

NOTE: There's a minor complication here. I take a couple of "what makes you think those do any good?" pills, like Lutein for my eye which sometimes goes wonky, and (when I remember) 1) where they are; and 2) that I DO take them.....Gingko Biloba. Or, as Mr Dearling calls them, "Gingky Balboa".

OK, now that you can probably understand the size of these rubber rings which come also in a variety of other colors in case you get your pills from Target and there are enough people and pills in your family that you each need your own color so you don't erroneously and mistakenly take the wrong stuff -- I repeat, "Any idea for anything clever they can be used for? Because they still just look too nice to simply throw away."



"Gee, Mom, sorry - they're just not interesting. And putting them in a bowl does NOT make them tasty, either. Just sayin'."

Editor's note: I did check; the Pharmacy cannot reuse the rings, because of issues of sterility, &c. Would've been a good idea.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Idle Thoughts....

Last week there was an "only in Wisconsin" moment...perhaps even "only in Madison". It was in the news. A college student fell EIGHT STOREYS from the balcony of his apartment building on campus. Seems the police found him lying in the snow and took him to the hospital. His injuries were not life-threatening. They did not say if alcohol was a factor and frankly I'm thinking probably it was not because they tend to mention it, particularly in stories coming from campus.

I get my prescriptions from the pharmacy at Tar-zhay. They come in interesting little brown bottles that stand on their heads, and each has a little rubber ring around its neck. These rings are color-coded, so that each family member can determine which pill bottle is his. When they first went to that system they gave me a choice, and I selected the blue ones. Now, as an Elderly Person, I take a bunch o' pills. But you know - these rings are flexible but sturdy, and they're totally useless too good to throw away. I almost said "It's a contest...." and I was going to say that the winner would get all these rings. But see, that's no bargain, because it might be that they're totally useless, in fact.

What I would like to know is, does anyone have any brilliant or clever ideas for things to do with these? There are about a gazillion of them on the floor from futile attempts to convince Evangeline and Lilliane that they're Exciting Cat Toys, so don't say that. You always see these books of stunningly wonderful things to do with the oddest things, but I've never found anything like the rings.

Mr Dearling has a good idea: "THROW 'EM AWAY!" Well, he's right, of course. But they just look so...Potential, or Anticipatory; I can't believe that there isn't some truly wonderful use for these guys.

By the way, if you can't think of anything offhand but would like to have some or all of them, please e-mail me. I'd feel every so much better knowing they were going to a teched in the head crafty, artsy person with great plans for their little blue futures. (I keep seeing them with crocheting around them, but it ends there.....)

Lastly, (and this may convince you of how easily amused I really am): I've been watching "Kid Nation". (Very good knitpix material.) It's a very interesting social experiment (and blah blah blahtidy blah) but some of the kids intrigue me. The last episode is on Saturday morning and it is my Considered Opinion that they should give each and every kid who doesn't already have one, a Gold Star. (If you watch you know what that means; if you don't, nevermind!)

But last week, two of the little boys wandered out in the desert for a stroll and found the skeletal remains of a large cow. They were pretty excited, and decided to take a couple of bones back to show off in Bonanza City. One of the lads picked up the horned skull, which makes great sense....the other kid, a sort of geeky type who is one of my favorites, picked up the largest bone he could find and the last camera shot showed him trotting along behind his friend with this huge bone held over his head, shouting "PELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING!" I just about laughed myself sick.

Maybe you had to be there. Leave me alone.

Friday, December 7, 2007

No Pix for YOU!

(With a nod to the soup nazi, of course.) Well, I have things to say and will, but I first have to report an SOS! The Lovely Daughter alerted me to the fact that, when she tried to bigamize my pictures they tried to open in some peculiar program instead of just getting bigger! So I tried it (because thank you, Mrs S.A.B.L.E.!) I learned how to size them appropriately for the blog) and for SOME reason, and believe when I tell you I have NO idea why -- Daisy tried to open the larger pictures in -- are you ready for THIS? WordPerfect! This is a Major Problem, and until I fix it I will either have pictures you can't biggify or {sob} no pictures a-tall. There you have it.

This is going to be brief anyway. I'm getting ready to go to the Sow's Ear All-Night Knit! There's a Late-Night Knit on the first and third Fridays of each month, but this is a gen-u-ine, full-fledged Knit-and-Sip SLUMBER PARTY...although of course "slumber" party is a euphemism for "HAha we're going to stay up all night laughing and talking and eating stuff and getting ridiculous and calling boys and painting...."

Ooops. Got carried away. In this case, because we are all Mature, Elegant, Sophisticated, Mature Knitters, I'm sure we will sit demurely knitting and exchanging notes, tittering wickedly melodically chuckling - we'll be sipping our tea, admiring one another's work...there may be some rude jokes reading aloud of wholesome and uplifting literature.

My Cool Rolling Yarn Thingie is packed with yarn, projects, a couple of little piggies (it IS at the Sow's Ear), patterns, camera, my current book, a couple of books that ARE good for reading aloud (in case the opportunity arises; I love to read aloud). I'm taking a couple of dreidls and some M&Ms to get a game going (if only with Lovely Daughter). I'm taking some playing cards - and now, in the last minutes before tearing out the door, anything else I can think of to throw in and bring along.

Only thing that remains now is to go put on my jammies, put my teddy slippers in a bag (unlike Molly Bee, I don't have piggy slips), and head on out. I thought about bringing along Daisy and blogging right from the very event, but I think I'll just take notes in my Blogosphere Journal. Watch this space for next report!

NOTE: I can't stay ALL night, as I have to be at the Museum tomorrow morning at 8:30 am, dressed like a Metis woman (Mr Dearling will be garbed as a voyageur) and we will be portraying characters in the fur trade to officially open our new Fur Post exhibit! I will take pictures there too, count on it - - and when we're finished there, we have to dress like grown-ups and hie ourselves up to Baraboo, where we will be meeting friends for dinner followed by an evening at the ballet! My dear friend Jody's stunning granddaughter has a role in their "Nutcracker Suite", and we're to join the family in their BOX! Now....Sunday evening is our annual Chanukah party at our friends' home (I have to take a salad). THEREFORE - it may be as late as Monday before I can sort out all this excitement and write about it. Therefore...
WATCH THIS SPACE!

TESTING TESTING!I tried foolling around with my pictures and MAY have found a solution. Therefore, observe the following. Try to biggify them if you like, but if they try to open in WordPerfect or Yiffniff 2.0 or some bizarre thing, just enjoy them as they are. I'm still learning, leave me alone.


This is my little menorah on the second night of Chanukah.I admit, the items around it seem to suggest a wide and ecumenical faith system. They would be right. Our family line is: "I believe in everything, Mr Dearling is skeptical of everything."




Yes, that is a cat on the table. Evangeline has studied Tasteful and Elegant Table Settings 101, and must approve all arrangements.You will also notice that there is no FOOD on the actual table. When everyone crowded into the kitchen for the traditional meal of latkes (potato pancakes fried in oil), she cleared out. What's that? You think there might possibly be a cat hair somewhere on that table? Why yes, I think there may, although none are on plates (I checked). It's a well-known fact that friendly family meals are enhanced by the presence, somewhere, of a cat hair. 'Nough said.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Into the Long Night Moon!

I didn't mind seeing November, the Beaver Moon, go.

On Thursday, we took Lilliane to the vet for her well-baby visit. She was fine - got her required shot - but then the doctor (a partner of our usual beloved vet) said Lilly has a heart murmur, apparently a very serious matter in kitties. (Must be from my side of the family, I have a heart murmur too.) She suggested that we might want to get an ultrasound to determine the exact status. Worst case scenario - she'll need to take medication daily for the rest of her life, which wouldn't be as long as it might otherwise; best case? It's an error, and she's actually fine. As we hadn't heard anything of this before, I'm naturally hoping for the latter. The specialist is coming to the clinic on December 19th (from our mighty-fine Veterinary School at the University) so she'll have the ultrasound that day.

Thursday afternoon I met my friend Donna at Barnes & Noble for our weekly knit date, and I found that they DO have that delicious sandwich I got at B&N in Minneapolis when I went to hear Crazy Aunt Purl. It's a smoked turkey and cheese sandwich on whole-grain cranberry bread. It is WICKED delicious! They told me it was "seasonal" so go get one. I'll wait here. Well, ok,you can go later.

Anyway, we had a very nice time, as usual; I made some progress on my current toque, and got a good start on the Replacement Baby Wrap with the yarn from JoAnn on Ugly Black Friday. I had moved into my super new rolling yarn tote and had the toque, the baby wrap and a scarf plus two extra skeins of yarn, several patterns and my book ("The Secret Life of Bees", it's wonderful). Plus next year's date book, my Little Bag of Doodads (c'mon, everyone has one of those--where else would you keep your withered rose hip? the stone from Lake Superior? the Monopoly thimble? Sheesh) and my Tiny Radio bag. NOTE: I always have my tiny radio because if I'm not home for Dr Phil I can listen to it on the radio and guess what? You don't HAVE to see it!

On Friday I had a doctor's appointment. It has to do with the Wicked Maths. The deal is, I have one prescription where I used up the whole 6 months' worth of pills after five months. HORRORS! Well, the problem is that I take five of them a day (every four hours, which being as I resent having to sleep at ALL means five a day) instead of the four a day normal human people take. The very nice doctor KNOWS Wicked Maths, and gave me a prescription for five a day and not four a day....and Mr Dearling points out that the new prescription will actually last me a whole month. Don't ask me, I don't do Wicked Maths. Or Yards or Gallons or Ounces, and I'm a little dicey on Hours and Minutes. Mr Dearling says I have "a very medieval concept of time" and "a genuine numeric dyslexia" (well, I say that last one). I prefer the Native American concept of time; i.e., the Sacred Hoop. You get up in the morning. When you get hungry it must be sometime around noon and it gets dark in the evening.

After we got home from the doctor, Mr Dearling got organized and prepared to leave for the Twin Cities, so that I could have some uninterrupted tidying-up time. Yeah, it's true, go ahead, I'll say it: GEEZ ARE YOU EASILY DISTRACTED OR WOT?? But it's true, I can be a lot more single-minded when alone in the house. (Mr Dearling is fascinating, and I really love exchanging ideas, getting opinions, and he comes up with fascinating oddments of information - and it doesn't take much to draw my interest away from oh, I don't know, CLEANING?

We have a saying in this house: "Martha Stewart doesn't live here." I've done that in calligraphy as gifts and it's very popular. To his credit, Mr Dearling always adds to that "Neither does Bob Vila." I'm quite passionate about my cozy little homey nest, but it's OURS, and we wouldn't win anything in a Domestic Arts competition. It IS relatively tidy, there are plenty of piles of books around to put stuff on, and the furnishings are a mixture of Rather Nice Antiques (lovely old secretary and two glass-front bookcases from Aunt Lo of blessed memory), old office furniture that Mr Dearling got when the AAA offices moved (like two large office desks with surrounds and several five-drawer file cabinets, all for under $20) and Salvation Army Leftover. Throw in a few 18th century replicas, some toys (MINE!) and yarn...and I just this MINUTE figured out what our decor is! Drumroll please...(how the heck do you write a drumroll?) Our home is richly furnished in.... Bohemian Eclectic.

Feel free to use that to describe your own cozy cottages if it applies, but there has to be at least one teddy bear in a prominent position and a Star Wars toy somewhere (depths of the basement acceptable).

So I got up on Saturday; there was some Fierce Weather predicted. My plan was the following: Knit for a while, work from my Power Point book for a while, work on my presentation (which will be given next Tuesday) for a while. Then, pack up the knitting and go to #2 Son's house, where I get to visit with him and his son while said son visits HIM. Well....that was not the way the day fell out. I spent the morning listening to music on the on-line personal radio station Pandora . You put in the group you like and it continuously plays that group and lots of other groups like it! It's pretty cool. Then I heard from the #2 Son, who said that his son wasn't coming to visit, as he was under the weather. And by THEN, the weather he was under was a very healthy snow. As the afternoon wore on, it became very windy, and then began sleeting. That's where it looks like it's snowing but you can hear it hit the windows. What that MEANS is that Mother Nature is applying a layer of ice on top of the snow. That's the point at which the TV reporter says "Dale-Harriet, fergetaboutit, the police, sheriff and FBI are recommending that you sit on your ass remain indoors." Well - that's not true. I mean, the recommendation is true, but he didn't really tell me personally. Nevermind.

However. What I DID (refer to list of intentions up a few lines) was curl up on the sofa with my lovely feline bunwarmer tucked up behind and knit and watch TV and read blogs. But there was a discussion about lovely yarns, so I thought MY pet skein might like to come out of his sealed moth-free package to spend the day with the family.

Meet Dov. ("Dov" is Hebrew for "bear".) Dov is a skein of Alpaca yarn in slightly variegated shades of brown (he's undyed). He's 820 yards of Peruvian Tweed, and while I bought him (in Colorado) with the intention of maybe knitting something -- he's so soft, so beautiful, so entirely luxurious that I decided to keep him as a pet. This is where he took a nap in the kitty pi, as neither cat was using it.



Later on he came up and curled up to sleep on the cushion. He's actually an exceptionally nice Skein, and while he's as soft and snuggly as the kitties, he has no appetite and he doesn't poop uhm.... poo need a litter box. Frankly, I think he's a bit highbrow and elegant for me; he's clearly fancier than a toque. However, he has confided in me that he prowled around the house one day when we were at the Museum, and he noticed that I have some books on knitted lace....and that it has always been his dream, since he was on the back of his animal 16,000 feet up in Peru (says so right on his tag) that he'd love to be a lace shawl. And you know, some day he will.

Today I've also spent indoors. I cannot tell a lie: I fell into a rereading of "The Golden Compass" and you know how that is -- I was reading while I had breakfast. Now it's suppertime....uhm...well, Mr Dearling's coming home tomorrow. I still have some time to tidy up some, and I can work on my program after that and tomorrow. The Power Point book? It'll keep. Now, where's that toque?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Post-Thanksgiving Shopping? ME?

You know what they say about "Black Friday", the day when everyone in the whole world (or anyway this country, apparently) rushes out to work off all that turkey and stuffing by dashing madly to the stores to buy ChristmaChanuKwanzakah presents. There were stories on television about stores opening at 4:00 am and 5:00 am, for early shoppers. There was a film on the news showing hundreds of bleary-eyed smiling people pouring into Target at 6:00 am.

We don't hold with all that. Ridiculous. But we learned that the illustrator of a favorite book of ours, "The Voyageur's Paddle" (David Greist) was going to be at Barnes & Noble on the east side, reading from and signing his book. We love the book; the story is excellent and the pictures stunning, so we decided to brave the mobs and go visit with him.

NOTE: shameless plug, we really love this book. It's about a voyageur, his Ojibway-French Canadian wife and his son. This is the whole cover, showing le voyageur and his son, you can see how beautifully it's illustrated. Oh - and see that red cap on the paddler? THAT, my friends, is a TOQUE, that very item which I spend a great deal of my life knitting. And mine really do look like that, and it's very authentic. (Mr Greist has visited Grand Portage and Pine City, and we share many friends in common.) He didn't ask me to say any of this, in fact - he probably doesn't even read any knitting blogs. It was a lot of fun meeting him and his wife and he drew a little pine forest along with his signature in our book! Well worth stomping into the fray.

Well! As long as we were OUT, we figured we'd take care of a couple of errands.

First, we stopped at JoAnn Fabrics, on account of, I had a flyer from the newspaper that said "50% off any item". I really like some of the yarns they carry, so Mr Dearling humored me and we went in. By then (after noon) it was crowdy but not mobbed.

First, I found me some yummy yarns! On the left, some Debby Mumm: the gold-y stuff is called "Beeswax" and the brown is called "Adirondack". They're variegated, soft and delish. It's 75% acrylic, 23% wool....and 2% "other fiber". Hmmm......aardvark? On the right, four skeins of Bellezza Collection Dolcetto. This is 54% wool, 24% nylon and 22% cotton. It's very soft and snuzzy, and I have some in pink, blue and yellow in my stash. I understand this is discontinued so I grab some when I see it. I made a three-panel Irish Hiking Scarf baby wrap out of it. I hate.... dislike....am dissatisfied with it, so I'm going to finish seaming it up and give it to the Shelter for a puppysnug. I've begun a replacement, a double-width Irish Hiking pattern in the Debby Mumm. The baby the original was for will soon be two, and in February will have a sibling; I'm making a duplicate wrap in the Beeswax color, and they'll get them at the same time.

But THEN! Mr Dearling saw it: a rolling knitting tote!

It has a large main compartment, a smaller front compartment, long zipper pockets on each side for needles and an outside pocket on each of the side pockets for papers &c. Fan-TAS-tick! It has nice wheels and the telescoping handle, and clearly has space enough for bunches o' yarn, all kinds of room for needles and patterns and books and assorted chazerai (there's also a clear zipper pocket inside the top flap). It was marked $49.95. WHOOOAAAAH, says I - "but wait", says Mr Dearling, "you have that coupon!"

Now, when I "go 18th century" I have to use one of my thousands many wicker baskets, but for Regular Ordinary Daily Knitting? What could be better? For forays to The Sow's Ear, for going to Barnes & Noble -- how convenient is that? And you know? At "50% off", this here is a genuine bargain, what we Minnesotans and general Midwesterners call "a pretty good deal", as in "hey, that's not a bad deal, it's good deal". In FACT -- it was SUCH a good deal, Mr Dearling went up and got another copy of the flyer and we got one for the Lovely Daughter! I took it to her last Sunday when we met at the Ear, and she promptly moved out of her huge, bulging tote bag and into the rolling tote -- everything fit, INCLUDING the empty tote bag!

Here's the main compartment, containing A Lot of Stuff....

and here's the very neat little portable knit-kit which came in the front zipper pocket. It's thick clear plastic, with the yarn holes in the top of each of the three sections in it. As you can see, I have my Perpetual Toque in it. I think it would be nice for some sort of stranding, because you could put one color in each section with the yarn coming out of the holes and they wouldn't get all gnarly and tangle-y and messy. (Of course, I don't know how to do stranding, but if I ever learn, I'm in like Flynn!) is this not a very cool bargain-y after-Thanksgiving-y purchase?

And finally...Mr Dearling's been raving and cooing over the cat who spends his time in the shop of Cecil-the-shoe-repairing guy. "Cecil's Sandals" has been a Madison fixture since I first came here; his original shop was downtown but now he's conveniently near JoAnn Fabrics so we stopped in to Cecil's to drop off Mr Dearling's running shoes. And I got to meet Felix.

Felix is a large, black Maine-Coon-shaped cat. He was sitting on a cushion on a stool, and accepted my petting and stroking and cooing with grace while Cecil waited on Mr Dearling. Then he came over and sat on a chair, and Felix got up langorously and stepped over to Cecil's leg, where he settled himself against his chest, paws around his neck. Cecil stroked him affectionately, and told us friends of his at a local vet clinic had called him "a couple years ago" to say that they had a cat they thought needed Cecil...and Cecil needed Felix. His predecessor, Homer, had crossed the Rainbow Bridge three years earlier. Then Cecil said "Gotta get back to work, old man" and Felix climbed back onto his stool and curled up.

(When I told my fellow knitters about this, they each said "Gee, I didn't know Cecil was still around!" He is, friends, and it'd be worth it to go get new heels on those Birkies; the craftsmanship is superb and it's worth it just to visit Felix!) I'll try to get a picture of Cecil and Felix some time soon.

So....I guess the answer to that question is - yerp, I did go shopping on Black Friday. But not at 5:00 am, for petessakes.

Editor's Note: FIE on me! The illustrator of "The Voyageur's Paddle is David GEISTER; I apologize (with remorse) to him and also to anyone who looked up the book by my erroneous declaration of his name! (Thanks to Mr Dearling for catching my error--it's especially bad because I have a real burr under my saddle regarding name errors &c.) Mea culpa...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mmmm...take a deep breath~~

We have a Standing Order with my former employer. Every year for the past -- oh 12 or 14 years, we have gotten our Christmas tree from him; his family has a wonderful tree farm up by Antigo, Wisconsin where the fresh air grows truly beautiful trees.On the weekend after Thanksgiving, they bring over a tree, either setting it safely inside the garage (if we're out) or knocking on the door (if we're not). They know our house, they know our taste - and nothing will convince me other than that they measure, examine, peruse, interview and admire every single one of their many trees and select the exactly right one for us.

As you can see, it fits the window end of the living room perfectly, and it's exactly the right height. If you put your nose right up to the monitor and take a deep breath, you will smell that rich fragrance unique to firs raised in clear fresh air. The house, so recently fragrant with the smell of roasting fowl, is now absolutely redolent with the crisp freshness of the northern forests. As it warms, the branches will relax a bit, but the scent (every year) lingers deliciously until after the first of the New Year.

But Dale-Harriet! you may ask. I thought you were Jewish! OK - to forestall future confusion, let me put it this way: I believe. I've always celebrated at least the major Jewish holidays (Chanukah, Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur), but I tend to not discount the Norse Gods, the Greek gods, the Spirit which imbues all, as the Native Americans believed.

When Lovely Daughter and Sons #1 and #2 were children, we only celebrated Chanukah this time of year. We lighted our menorah (I still do) and had latkes and played dreidl (still do). In those days, the children took their little menorah to school and explained their festival to their classmates, and enjoyed singing Christmas songs, coloring little pictures &c. They gave them to friends, proudly. As adults, their belief systems are their own. But they come over during Chanukah.

When Mr Dearling joined the family, he commented that he'd enjoy having a Christmas tree. I had never had one, so I polled the children. Think about this for a moment: ask a child if he'd like a beautiful, fragrant tree bedecked with sparkling lights and shimmering ornaments in the living room. OF COURSE! So we had our first. I have no conflict with that - after all, the evergreen is a shining example of life thriving in the winter &c &c.

That having been decided, however, we discussed the fact that Christmas is a religious holiday, the celebration of the birth of Jesus (who was, after all, a nice Jewish boy). So we bought a lovely Fontanini nativity set for Mr Dearling: the figures of Mary, Joseph, the Babe in the manger, two angels and three kings. Since that year, Lovely Daughter and I have added a figure every year, and now he has quite the colorful crowd! (The truth? I love setting out the figures and arranging them on the card table and moving them around, and Lovely Daughter and I go out and spend time selecting the new figure, which Mr Dearling then has to identify. Whose are they really? Maybe mine. He likes them well enough, though. Nevermind.)

However, all this excitement has been punctuated throughout by knitting!

On Saturday I collected my dear friend Ginny and we actually found went to join some of our fellow local knitters at a Victor Allen's Coffee Shop. NOTE: I had to ask three times exactly where it was because I'm geographically-challenged I couldn't remember which shop it was, so it was a victory for me to get there!

It was a lovely time! See here displayed, the six squares I finished for Kay of Mason-Dixon; they're 4" squares in Reggia sock yarn. Also see two toques, a red one for a voyageur and a blue one for my friend in Colorado; a scarf I've begun with Paton SWS because I love both the yarn and the pattern so much. (It's the Yarn Harlot's "one-row" pattern.) On the left there you can see another toque on its circular needle - I need to really crank on that one so it can go to the fellow in time to serve as a Christmas present (!)

Incidentally, our tree will remain as it is, unadorned, for some time until we can arrange to have assistance from grandchildren; there's no rush, it's a month until Christmas. Also - our first Chanukah candle will be lighted on Tuesday, December 4th, at sundown. Watch this space - I'll take pictures!

PS SO FAR, the kitties have been *interested* in the tree but no more. I expect no less from Evangeline, but the spritz bottle is at hand in case Lilliane forgets herself. Just in case.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Snow in the Beaver Moon

It's been a long time since we had snow - even THIS much - on Thanksgiving. At the risk of becoming unpopular, may I say that I hope this is a foretaste of a beautiful winter of deep snows. I would like the sort of winter I remember from my childhood (Whooah! Does that make me sound old or WOT?) where the roads are dry after being plowed but the snow is deep enough for skiing and sledding, and at night the huge sparkling flakes twinkle past the streetlights. OK - it's a start. Nevermind.

Of course this is the time of year we think of things for which we thankful; I had written a great list, but your lists are in your hearts, and mine in my heart. I daresay they match with a few differences and additions on each hand.

Our cozy little nest has no dining room, but the table in the kitchen can seat six if everyone is friendly and well-behaved. Therefore, for Thanksgiving, Mr Dearling brings up our Big Table (an ugly utility table we've had forever) and sets it up in the living room. We can seat ten to dine...of course, if Mr Dearling needs to leave his place at the head of the table to go to the kitchen, he needs to go out the front door and around to come in the back door into the kitchen. Some of our guests have to climb along the couch to get to their chairs and the rest have to suck it in and squinch past the television. However, once everyone is seated, it works very well. I think it looks very nice with my family silverware (it's Rogers Bros silverplate, but engraved with a lovely "G" for "Goldish", my maiden name - it was Grandma Goldish's). I also use my wonderful Spode, also Grandma Goldish's at one point, then used by her daughter, Aunt Lois - and finally to me. I cherish it, and only use it for Thanksgiving...although you know what? I may start to use it every day. Aunt Lo did, and it is a shame to let it languish.

OK -- yes, they ARE halloween napkins. With Spode. Nevermind. (The only other choice was paper towels and I MEAN! What kind of dolt would use paper towels with Spode??) Still, I thought it looked a fine table. We had the Lovely Daughter, #1 Son Ben and family; #2 Son with his friend and her 15-year-old daughter and the two of us. It made for a merry table.

Mr Dearling makes the delicious turkey, a very respectable dressing and the wild-rice-sausage dish. Dawn, the well-named lady of #1 Son (and Domanic and Xander's capable mommy) brings her flawless green-bean casserole. NOTE: she uses the GOOD stuff, French's Onions, on top. I make the corn pudding and this year, the pumpkin pie, from scratch. NOTE: the home-made crust, however, was also made by Mr Dearling. Any guesses if he's on my "Thankful" list? He appears on alternate lines on the list. Lovely Daughter brings the pecan pie -- she doesn't care for it, Mr Dearling doesn't care much for it either; MORE. FOR. ME! You can see here, the golden, moist, wonderful turkey, and next to it the Heart Bowl, which I've had for over 30 years and ALWAYS use for the corn pudding, which was my mother's recipe.

As Daughter and I were setting out all this amazing food on the table, #1 Son was watching very closely as each dish emerged. Finally, as we were preparing to sit down, he could hold his peace no more and he said, in panicked tones of dread, "Is that ALL there is? Haven't you FORGOTTEN SOMETHING?" The Heart Bowl was still in the oven, and his sister was headed for it even as he spoke. It's what he comes for, the corn pudding. Every year he tries to talk me into making it on a cookie sheet "so there's more crust!" but hey, I'm Jewish. You don't mess with Tradition, just ask Tevye. Corn pudding is made in the Heart Bowl. I may be short but I'm still The Mom. Shut up.

The meal was fine, and the company better. We all ate prodigiously, everyone eventually wandered off, and the house was quiet again. We prepared a care package with some of everything for our friend Sunawa and her partner, ESPECIALLY thankful that, on Thanksgiving Day, she was able to return home to their little nest, where she can finish her recovery surrounded by their beloved four cats and goofy sweet dog. They called later to thank us - that's one of the best holiday gifts I could have, seeing her restored to a modicum of health.



We did the dishes (I always wash the plates - then if I break one, I'll have only myself to blame!) and Mr Dearling got his yummy turkey soup underway (another tradition). If there's other thing you can always count on at the end of Thanksgiving Day it's a good, comfortable, NAP. Evangeline and Lilliane set the model, and we managed to follow the example very well, thank you. No knitting ensued all day, but it was made up for Friday, you'll see.

It's not lost on me that, in this country, those with the least, those with great need, live lives superior to that experienced by hundreds of thousands of people, our neighbors, who live in other countries. I don't minimize the poverty, bigotry, alcoholism, drug use and abuse that blights the fabric of our country. Grim as it is, there are people in parts of Africa, of India, of Asia who would consider it a great step UP to live those lives. And me? Well, it's not my fault if Donald Trump is jealous of me. I hear he doesn't even HAVE a stash!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Eve Eve

I'm writing late at night (1:51 a.m., says the little clock in my task bar) feeling moved to jot down a few random thoughts. I was fortunate in having my camera handy when the ladies took up "meat loaf mode" at the other end of the couch; these days Evangeline's been spending considerable butt-warming time, tucked up behind me on my end of the couch. It's nice to be able to reach back and rub a silky ear....of course, I can't actually SEE her (especially since she's usually snuggled on or under my black shawl) and there have been those occasions when I reach back and am greeted with an offended "MROWWR?" as I encounter not the silky ear but the... but her--uhm--well, in this house we refer to it as "the rosebud". When black-kitty Evangeline makes a Social Comment by pointedly walking AWAY from me, tail aloft, tip waving -- it's very clear, that pink rosebud. I try to peer over my shoulder to avoid a Rosebud Encounter.

OK, random thoughts: there have been a couple of requests for more information on the History of Dolls as presented at NAVC; I'm actually working on a sort of syllabus to send to the participants, and I'd be happy to send it along to anyone interested too, upon request. It's not going to be done in the next few days - maybe not even the next few weeks, this being "the holiday season" and all, but it was promised and will be completed and delivered.

There were also queries about the "Chykken Gallantyne" pie. I'll try to put the recipe in a format friendly to this blog. Suffice it to say, the only tricky or cook-y part is the sauce, but I think I can describe it. Keep in mind, it's made with yellow mustard, brown sugar and ginger marmalade, and I don't measure. But I think I can describe the correct appearance and taste. Other than that, I throw in cut up apricots and slivered almonds (toasted is nice but I'm occasionally frequently lazy, domestically speaking, so they're just slivered almonds right out of the cellophane). It's very medieval flavors, although in this case the strong flavors of the mustard and ginger are NOT masking the cloying sweetness of the decaying meat. It WAS, in the Middle Ages. I know. Me too. Shut up.

Furthermore: someone had mentioned the Holiday Knits stamps, the seasonal 41 cent postage stamps. There are four designs: a reindeer, a fir tree, a snowman and a teddy, all knitted in a simple (yeah, that's easy for YOU to say) stranded knit. I bought a book of them and they're adorable! Although I'm a wide user of e-mail, I do love plain ordinary common old-fashioned (outdated?) correspondence on stationery with stamps. "Snail mail", don't ya know.

Incidentally, if you have trouble remembering which means "paper to write letters on" from "unmoving", stationAry is the unmoving variety: it sits on its ASS; stationEry, the letter-writing paper, has its "E" for the envelope. Is that not clever? That's the educational portion of today's message.

Incidentally, the Lovely Daughter pointed out the other night that I start a great many sentences with "incidentally". Yeah, I guess I do.

At the Late-Night Knit last Friday at the Sow's Ear, Elizabeth S.A.B.L.E. brought her Fair Isle sweater, upon which she is in the final stages. If you go look at the pictures on her blog you will see knitting of such delicate design and subtle color change as to be amazing, or as I would describe it, "incomprehensible". I like love the way it looks, and freely admit that it is way past even my aspirations, but I take such delight in looking at it. As stunning as it looks in the pictures, it is (as is so often the case) pale in comparison to the real deal. I consider it a genuine privilege to gaze on such work - and to complete the image: the wrong side is just as neat and tidy as you could imagine, a series of perfect straight little lines, strands, carrying the colors smoothly along. It's such fun to see!

And in closing (it's almost 2:30 am now, and Evangeline is stirring behind me and making little mutterings which I recognize as her suggestion that I remove to bed where she can settle in on the feather tick behind my knees thenkyewverymuch), may I say that I've been watching the Food Channel as I write. Isn't all-night TV great? I'm watching the Semi-Homemade gal preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, of course. She just rubbed her big turkey with butter under the skin - and I don't mind telling you, seeing her hand moving under that pimply-looking bluish-white skin did nothing to pique my anticipation of tasty food. Then she rubbed some greenish herbed butter all over the OUTSIDE, massaging it in with what can only be described as a perverse sensuality. Oh yeah, I'm going to bed.

(Mr Dearling makes our turkey and it's golden and fragrant and flavorful, moist and absolutely perfect...and he doesn't do anything rude to it at all.)

To add final insult to injury there's a commercial for another upcoming special in which the word "feisty" appears on the screen for a split second....spelled wrong. You have to really watch for it, but they have it "FIESTY". Oy vey. Good night.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cap - and REcap

Man, what a week. Ever have one of those times where you alternate between despair and delight? Ever have a week where they alternate day by day? All I can say is, BOY am I glad I'm a knitter, for both times.

To start - last Monday began with a phone call from the partner of my long-time friend, from the emergency room. Seemed the Old Friend (36 years a friend) had developed pneumonia. Considering her asthma - her diabetes - her kidney failure (dialysis three times a week)... this was no "oh nuts I feel crummy". I spent much of every day all week at the hospital. Fortunately, thanks to exemplary medical care and facilities here, she stabilized and bounced back. There was a setback Thursday, but it was traced to something reparable which was repaired. She bounced back again.

That is, first and foremost, the sort of time when it's a true blessing to be a Knitter. I finished some 4" squares for Kay's project little squares, which I found soothing, although admittedly wielding size 2 needles is difficult when one's hands are shaking.

I also had a toque to work on, one at the stage where it's just plain straight perpetual ordinary knitting knitting knitting on a circular needle. "Barely Conscious knitting, I call it; I don't have to look. NOTE: I'm NOT a fabulous knitter, it's just that this is about my 32nd toque. Again, comforting. Soothing.

And the week progressed. It was frightening, tiring, educational, dramatic - and the relief of her becoming stable and rallying actually erupted today, interestingly.

Think of this: you have a child who disappears, gets lost. Your imagination parades before you Worst-Case Scenarios worse than anything Jerry Bruckheimer could come up with. The minutes are months long, you cannot imagine a future further ahead than five minutes and you can't see straight (they call it "blind panic"). Then the child returns home, announcing that he just went home with a buddy after school, forgot to call, watched movies, ate pizza, lost track of the time, no big deal. The relief at having him restored, untouched and unhurt, is almost physically tangible....and then, then it turns to RAGE! "You're FINE? I'll rip your finorkin' head off!!" Human nature,I guess...and after this very trying week, a gentle teasing remark I made to the partner was met with exactly that rage, and I was summarily ordered OUT! (By the partner, not the patient.) I left the hospital, returned home to a welcome afternoon of indolence. No hard feelings, I understand. I'll wait it out. Grim.

Now to the OTHER half of the week, the happy-knitter-tranquil part. First, I finished the Punkin Hats and managed to wheedle, bribe, cajole and sweet-talk all three little boys into putting them on long enough to take a picture:

Domanic put it on willingly, smiled obligingly - but I'm not optimistic about his wearing it all winter. Still, he said he liked it, and left the house with it firmly affixed to his head.









His little brother Xander was more reluctant, and this picture is the third attempt; the first had his daddy holding the cap on his head and the second had him covering it up with his blankie. Not optimistic about his wearing it all winter either. On the other hand, Xander's an Individualist, and at this point is reluctant to wear a jacket either. He may be one of those natural-born Wisconsinites who lives perpetually in denial about Winter. (He will be convinced, either by nature or Mommy, whichever comes first.




And Conner looked at his, pulled it on, and when I said "Now, I know you may not want to wear this every day...." said "No, I really Like it!" Awwwww....

Although you can't tell (cameras are weird guys) his shirt and the cap are very nearly the same color in the real world.

Of course, Halloween is over, and it's very close to December which, in my estimation, begins to lean heavily toward Winter, so autumn caps are going to be "so last week" in no time. Of course, none of the lads is yet of an age to be so fashion-conscious as all that, but you never know. The good news is, I think kids' heads grow less than the rest of them so these may fit them NEXT autumn was well.

And now to the Tranquil and Joyous part of the week (remember I said at the beginning, "depths of woe to tranquil pleasure"?) There were two events this week which were just so darn much fun!

As it had been the Lovely Daughter's birthday Thursday, plans were made to have her join me at the Sow's Ear for the Late-Night-Knit. It was WONDERFUL! It was sort of almost the first-formal-informal-semi-official-official meeting of the Hog-and-Blog Society! To my delight (and tranquility), Molly Bee was there, and Mrs S.A.B.L.E and Beth! The evening wss uncommon merry; Mrs S.A.B.L.E's Young Lad came along (I canNOT say "little boy", he is, I believe, a little taller than I am). He brought along some card tricks which DID amaze and entertain me, and Molly Bee amazed and entertained him with a toothpick trick, too. (She showed Lovely Daughter and me how she did it...I smiled and nodded but the truth is, I think it really WAS magic.) I have a wonderful story you tell with playing cards too, regarding the "suicide king", but believe it or not none of the card decks present were the right kind. NOTE: the Magic Lad had two decks; I brought an interesting deck for him to play with; I brought a miniature deck for him; I always have a bizarre deck in my bag. None would work for my story. I did a rain check. Nevermind.

I did very little knitting, actually, but a lot of bouncing and chatting. I filled Mr Dearling's request and got a nice gift card from the Sow's Ear for Lovely Daughter's birthday (she didn't open the card until she was about ready to leave, so she bought nothing that night, but hey - anticipation's half the fun!). I also gave her a ten-minute massage from our friend Donna who comes to the late-nights, which she enjoyed very much. (Ever notice the eyes of someone who's just had a good massage? Oooooooh yeah!)

Beth of Chocolate Sheep and I closed up the place again - our fellow Hog-and-Bloggers went home at more reasonable times, but we just ... gab, what can I say? We're working on Hog-and-Blog gang signs and trying to figure out some identifying bling...well, I found that the Ear still had little buttons with the Piggly Wiggly logo on (sweet little pig face in a white cap); I bought out the whole stock the remaining four buttons, and we'll wear those on little pins until something more dramatic comes along. NOTE: I need to do this more often so it's not so long and rambly.

I've been thinking about stuff for which I'm grateful. Watch this space.