Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Red-Letter Day - definition...


OK, Saturday Mr Dearling and #1 Son brought new couch home. I looked after #1 Son's sons (always an adventure - Master D, age six, read "Caps for Sale" to me, flawlessly; Master X saved my life ... four times ... with his light saber, in a flowing cape printed with teddy bears and bunnies; super heroes are secure in their Mighty Manliness). After, as reported, Mr Dearling got me my very posh new camera. (See earlier post.) Sunday I babysat again (the boys had cold pizza for breakfast, doesn't everyone?) and in the afternoon we went to a coffeehouse and met with our young friend home on R&R from her archaeology work in Cambodia. She's a fascinating girl, a favorite of ours, and we're very fond of her husband too, who is holding the fort here in Madison with their dog James. (James has his own blog.)

Sundown on Sunday was roughly 8:00 pm, and Mr Dearling and I went to Culver's for the ritual end-of-Passover blow-out. Notice: bread, bursting with leavening; yummy grilled Butterburger made of beef; good Wisconsin dairy-type cheese; a few veggies for health (requisite onion, tomato, lettuce)...and BACON. So much for kosher. NOTE: that's Mr Dearling's hand, we had the same meals - and yes, he does "still play with motorcycles", thanks for asking.

And then .... and THEN .... I woke up and it was MONDAY. That's Monday, the 28th day of April, upon which, in the evening, the Yarn Harlot was coming to Madison !

The flurry of activity began as soon as I woke up. First I took my old-lady-morning-pills and had my first cup of tea, with pizzelles. I love me some pizzelles (the anise ones) and hadn't had any during Passover. Then I tidied up some and began to assemble the little things I'd been accumulating to gift Stephanie. I'd been collecting for a while; on her last visit I think I gave her some Wisconsin stickers (she really liked the Badger one and I had to explain - very quickly - about the Cornish miners) and I wanted something more formal for this visit.

Briefly - I assembled a small bag (recycled, we're like that here) with such items as a bottle o' Spotted Cow (I think she got a lot o' local we not ROCK?); a block of 5-year-old sharp cheddar cheese AND a box o' crackers; an enamel pin reading "I Was in Wisconsin"; a gold Wisconsin coin (not legal tender); a mighty fine Sow's Ear travel mug (for disguising beer like coffee); cow pencil; tube of Udder Balm (all right, keep it down back there, it's good for your hands, too); and a very good emergency item: It's a Smile-On-a-Stick. She can look perfectly pleasant even in long airport delays with this handy little item. We all have times when we could use a Smile-on-a-Stick.

Then I started to try to decide what projects to take along. I had volunteered to go early and save seats for fellow Sow's Ear afficianados, other Hog-and-Bloggers. Should I cast on a sock? Take the baby wrap? the scarf? Ah, mais non! I'm near the end of the Very Last Toque (are you listening up there, Knitting Goddesses?) so my conscience won out and I packed my smallest basket with my knitting bowl and the NEARLY completed toque. Friend Donna, masterful crochet-worker, was coming over at 3:00 to ride over with me - she's working on another of her most amazing and beautiful afghans. I figured out what to wear, packed my pockets with required things - and noticed that there were large, soft snowflakes thickly falling ! Stephanie had said she tends to bring Winter with her. It's true! Of course, it didn't stick, but it was a dramatic moment.

OK, Donna arrived, I decided on a flowery dress, and my conscience won out: I'd take my tiny knitting basket and ONLY THE TOQUE. I thought a look of Righteous Piety might go well for the evening (when you don't wear make-up you wear a mind-set). Tote bag packed (my copy of the new book from Amazon - ok, call me a piker; I was into Immediate Gratification and I pre-ordered). NOTE: At the SAME time, I pre-ordered Stephanie's Page-o-Day calendar, due out in June - AND her *NEXT* book, due out in October....this innerwebs thing might be going too far when you can pre-order a book that's not finished yet.

AND SO WE GOT TO BORDER'S! It was about 4:35, and as we arrived we were met by a smiling girl at a table who announced proudly "Just like for Harry Potter, here's your wristband!" YES! JUST LIKE HARRY POTTER!! (but cuter, funnier, and she knits). Very clever plan to ease the book signing. There were also buttons: "Eat. Drink. Knit. - Yarn Harlot Tour 2008".

I had determined to save three seats for fellow Hog-and-Bloggers; we found that the front row was already occupied - but the second row (JUST as good) was not, so Donna and I arranged ourselves over a total of five chairs. Just a few people were there, and this wasn't a problem, by the way. NOTE: there were a LOT of chairs! I think that It Is Happening: the bookstores are beginning to realize that knitters have our own Rock Stars and should not be minimized! When Lovely Daughter and I arrived at the bookstore in Minneapolis for Crazy Aunt Purl, there were nine chairs. I think Border's had allowed for something around 200.

We got settled and our fellow knitters began to arrive. The mood, as you no doubt know, is the same in any like situation - a couple of friends, or a Knit Night at your LYS, or (in our case) at our Late-Night Knits at the Sow's Ear: everyone comparing, sharing, laughing, chatting - it was a Gathering of the Clan, a chapter meeting of the Community of Knitters. I think Stephanie's largely responsible for this. She's brought knitters out of our closets and out of our rocking chairs and made us aware of what was always the case: knitters ARE a family, we just didn't realize it .

Bethie of Chocolate Sheep arrived and settled between myself and Donna, who was saving the end seat for Jen - we knew she was bringing her wee pre-knitter and wanted access in case a Fast Getaway became desireable. I'd have to say both of these ladies were displaying exactly the mood of the entire room. Merriment prevailed!

As the clock moved toward 7:00 pm, the air became charged with anticipation. You see here the reverential attitude of Knitters Waiting for Their Icon. Near as I could tell, all the seats were filled, bags and baskets settled and opened, coffees or sandwiches consumed, and the anticipation became peaceful and delighted. There is a calm settles over knitters as they begin to knit that is the very essence of comfort. (On the other hand, I'm not naive - if someone had stood up and said "FREE MERINO TO THE FIRST FIVE......" you can bet that all semblance of quiet and tranquility would evaporate. Fast.

Doesn't this say it all?

I'm just going to put some Photographic Evidence here (taken, might I add, with my new camera, without flash !

She always begins by photographing the Sock against the backdrop of The Happiest People in Town....

The Border's lady asked if she wanted to sit down, and she said "NO!", bringing a chuckle from all of us who knew she'd been sitting in airports, sitting on planes, sitting in cars....and was NOT about to sit down again!

The whole of her presentation was made with a thin sheaf of papers in her hand; she glanced at them occasionally, went to the next -- but she speaks from her heart, and while we all laughed so much that I was stiff in the stomach for three days, SO much of what she says is mere truth, wisdom, keen observation. She reveals herself as she speaks - and what she reveals is One of US. She's a mom, a wife, a knitter and a writers; she deals with not only knitterly issues but ordinary household daily Awfuls (and she's no lover of the Awful Maths either, although they're not the boss of her!)

She talked about not being taken seriously; she talked about the image non-knitters have when they hear "Knitter" (old lady with grey hair in a bun, sitting in a rocking chair knitting with a cat in her lap). Come on, you know it's true! Then she talked about how we really are, and about how there is genuine scientific documentation that complicated actions repeated over and over are PROVEN to be helpful in the prevention of Alzheimer's and dementia. She talked about the kind of concentrated patience we garner from knitting....well, she talked about a LOT. And it was LITERALLY as if we were all sitting around a huge kitchen table (HERS....or OURS....) There was no separation between US and HER like you see in general Hero-and-Fan situations.

When she wrapped up, she added one small note that made us all even love her more (I'd bet you two skeins of hand-painted lace-weight alpaca none of us would've believed that possible): she said that, in spite of Border's clever plan of colored wristbands so the book-signing could be orderly (it was) SHE was doing the airplane thing (she's obviously had a lot of experience there) and go with the "pre-boarding" plan. To wit: anyone with babies, small children or any other reason that might make it difficult for them to wait around, she would sign THEIR books first.

Ladies and gentlemen, ponder that for a minute. I'll wait. Let it really sink in.

Then the booksigning for the rest of us commenced, and was lovely; we all enjoyed visiting with one another while we waited, and (I had noticed this when we saw her in Eau Claire, too) she does not rush. She chats, warmly, with everyone - and her interest in each of us is genuine. She really IS our friend, our mentor (never mind our idol) and virtually everyone comes away feeling knowing we've been with our peeps, including herself.

The signing of books begins, and besides affording us each her signature in our books, we each got our moment to chat. Furthermore - there was no limit of how MANY books she would sign for each of us! No one took gross advantage, and there again, we were all satisfied! The culmination of the evening was that we each got Our Moment to chat (and when mine came, I felt like she and I were old friends, chatting for a moment on the street - meant a lot to me!).

When our books were signed, our pictures taken, and our knitting bags packed up, we all wandered off to resume our daily lives....improved, might I say. GREATLY improved and enhanced by our visit from the Yarn Harlot.

EDITOR'S NOTE: this post took me all week to write; I have lots more pictures but have reached the limit of my patience at getting 'em WHERE I want, &c. Since the glorious Visit I've done other things about which it's time to write. Suffice it to say, my attendance, the company of all those knitters (ALL dear friends, some of whom I knew before), the delight that is Stephanie, the inspiration to me as a knitter, the comfort of being in a large group of My Peeps ... which phrase I love, and like to say since it's unlikely coming out of a 65-year-old......all of those things had a profound effect on me. I COULD go on an on, but it appears I already have. I think y'all can figure out whatever else I'd say.


Anonymous said...

What a great post! I had not realized it, but Stephanie HAS reinforced our realization that we are a community. I attended another book-signing earlier this week, and although the authors are wonderful people, they are not like Stephanie. She could/should teach a course in How to Do A Book Signing.

Nora said...

I saw your photo on the Harlot's blog - you're famous! I loved that she was getting lots of Fat Squirrel and Spotted Cow - that's my hometown beer!

MollyBeees said...

What a great post, Dale. Almost makes up for having to forgo the actual experience myself. You made me feel like I was there!

cheesehead with sticks said...

Thanks for the recap! It was well worth the wait.

Iron Needles said...

I am a tad couch, new camera, and the harlot! Dale-Harriet, you are living mighty high on the hog.

Thanks for the 'early birthday' wishes, too.

Julie said...

A wonderful update of the evening, Dale-Harriet...thank you as I had already forgotten some of it. She is such a gem of a person--and yes, makes you feel as if you are friends and stopping by for a chat (and book's an odd friendship but it works...). Can't wait to see you again soon--hopefully next Knit Night...hugs!

Anonymous said...

I'm happily jealous for you. You've seen/met her how many times now? I've had the pleasure just once, but it was as wonderful as you described. You really do have a way with words.

MX said...

Excellent post and thank you for it. I have not had the pleasure of meeting Stephanie yet but you made your visit almost real to me. I do really appreciate the time you put into the post, you're a good sharer Dale-Harriet!