Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmastime has gone and the goose has gone as well

6th annual cookie drop
another Christmas has come and gone, and i sincerely hope it has brought joy and love to all of your homes.

it remains strange to have Christmas without Grandma (Mickey), but otherwise our traditions remain fairly unchanged - even with celebrating in Knoxville instead of Nashville. this year, for the Cookie drop we made Tollhouse chocolate chip, peanut butter, chocolate peanut butter chip, oatmeal raisin, sugar cookies with icing, and pecan puffs. we also added on Ranger cookies - who knew dates and coconut would work so well together - and... [drumroll please] gingerbread cookies! it had been long enough since the great gingerbread debacle of 2002 that we were willing to try again. we used an entirely different recipe (which we completely screwed up the first time round anyway) and eventually ended up with cookies that behaved suspiciously like food!

we followed Grandma's approach to the puffs to the T [only use cake flour, sift three times before measuring, use room temperature butter, roll in Confectioner's sugar a second time once the cookies are truly cool....] and we came surprisingly close. next year we think we will nail it. the peanut butter cookies, Mickey's other specialty, were yummy but not nearly as close to replicating her genius. as we decided it should be. we do have some ideas for next year though.

6th annual cookie drop
after a last heroic push to finish and package all the cookies*, we had dinner from our 'Chinese place' - a wonderful Thai restaurant called Lemon Grass.

*don't worry- there were a few left for our own noshing...

because i was on clinics through Christmas eve morning, we were up awfully early and ended up too tired for the 11 o'clock Christmas eve service. instead, we all gathered round the table with Grandma's little ceramic tree, Mom told us how Grandma would read the Christmas story from Luke to them when she was a child, and then she read it to us by candlelight. it was quite special and really felt like Mickey was with us. we reflect about how terrifying it must have been for Mary, a teenage girl with no mother in sight, to labor amongst the cows to bring forth the Greatest Gift.

to bed we retreated, in hopes of sugarplums and reindeer and peace and goodwill. Christmas morning we woke to discover full stockings. A Christmas Carol starring Patrick Stewart (one of our favorite versions) played while Mom and I made the cranberry relish, bread dressing and prepped the turkey. then we all dug in to our stockings with glee. we listened to the Muppets Christmas with John Denver while enjoying scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. [and bacon!] we were going to have mimosas with our breakfast like Mickey loved so much, but we forgot to pick up Champagne!

after breakfast, we made final preparations for the Cookie Drop:

6th annual cookie drop

since it is the first time we have 'dropped' in Knoxville, it took a lot of legwork to track down our fire stations, ERs and police but we were up for the challenge. Roland drove and Travy kept us out of trouble. this year we visited my work (the animal ER is open for Christmas as well, you know), the Bearden Fire Station, City of Knoxville Fire Station on Portsmouth, Highway Patrol, John Duncan Fire Station, TSA screening at the Tyson-McGhee Airport, a failed attempt at the alleged police station near our house (bad intel on this one), Park West Medical ER and then - just for good measure since we knew they were open - the Thai restaurant.

we were a bit uncertain about how we would be received now that the terrorist 'threat' is a constant orange, but everyone was happy to see us and the firemen especially wouldn't have minded if we stopped to stay awhile! we aren't sure if the TSA people ate their cookies - they don't have history with us like they do at BNA in Nashville - but we enjoyed delivering them so either way it was a success.

home was a welcome sight as the clock rolled round to 3:30. it took no time at all to pop the turkey in and then finally it was time for presents. Roland loved his socks (whew!); Mom loved her stole, socks and footies; and Travy was totally shocked (in a good way) to receive his slippers. i was quite well-spoiled as well. Travy gave me wool and yak fiber, a special project bag for Madrona, DPN WIP tubes, and a generous supply of Woodbeams. Mom and Roland delighted me with both the slow and super slow whorls and another bobbin for my wheel.

after presents, i showed Mom the finished Comfort Shawl. she asked whether i might consider giving it to a member of her choir who has developed Lou Gehrig's disease and has great difficulty pulling sweaters on. it seemed a perfect idea so the Comfort Shawl is now on his way to a new home.

Kelly and Bill called from Ireland, where they are enjoying a wonderful holiday with Joanie Baloney, who is still going strong. it was wonderful to talk to them and hear all about Joanie. we have never met her, but she remains like family we have always known.

finally, we wrapped up our magical night with A Child's Christmas in Wales and Elf. [we were going to watch Amahl but the DVD player was acting out. if Christmas is here next year, we will have another plan in place!] it was a wonderful day, full of love and joy and the magic of the miracle.

so from our family to yours, here is hoping you had a magical Christmas and wishing you a Joyous New Year!

Roland, Mom, me, and Trav

Sunday, December 16, 2007

the seventh inning stretch of holiday knitting...

otherwise known as 'Next year I have got to make a schedule (and coordinate with shipping windows).'

here it is, one week and some hours before Santa hitches on the reindeer to bring wonder to children everywhere. my trees shine merrily, the bushes twinkle and our shepherd's crooks remind me of mono-color candy canes. the new Christmas movies battle for viewing time against the ever thickening crush of NFL games and 13.4* hours of Christmas music. the Christmas cards i almost never successfully send stare at me from a basket on the wall as if to say, 'This year? Could it be this year that we go to the show?'

holiday knitting has reached a new fervor as projects multiply like tribbles in the night and the shipping window completely closes. for unknown reasons, i have gotten out of the habit of making a Christmas list of my family (blood and otherwise) and their intended presents. as the year has gone by, i have bookmarked certain project ideas in my head for certain people and even stashed some completed objects in my 'gift hutch' as i went. my grasp on time, however, has been poor and it wasn't until the Yarn Harlot began posting her holiday knitting schedule that i recognized how the projects had been queuing up in the background and realized how quickly the month was getting away from me. it did not help that i spent last weekend in Georgia at a Continuing Education series - i could knit neither while driving the 5 hours each way nor while practicing advanced scoping procedures in a live animal lab.

so when this weekend came up fast and furious, responding in kind was imperative...

and respond i did...

but i can't show you any of it for fear of blowing the surprise.

the project list has been beaten back to semi-manageable, but the shipping window is sealing up tight as Mr. Scrooge's purse! there is no ducking the truth- some presents will be late reaching their new homes. sigh.

*my current iTunes tally yet to my bafflement it is still sadly deficient. example: although i have been 'given' it twice and actually received it once (right before the accident so not too shocking it disappeared), i still do not have the Muppets Christmas with John Denver CD.

thank you all for your kind comments upon my friend's wife's passing. after some discussion, i have decided to finish the comfort shawl and donate to a charity auction for breast cancer research funding.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Comfortless shawl

Comfort shawl

last night, the person for whom i was knitting this comfort shawl died.

though you know nothing of her, please keep her husband and two teenage children in your prayers.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat!

oh joy, oh contentment- how i love Christmas!

the decorations are finally up and this year there are so many. our place is so much bigger than my old apartment, so there is room, and i have many of my Grandma's Christmas things to bring her with us into the season.

downstairs is my big ol tree:

Big Christmas

and now we have an upstairs for the little tree i got when i was an undergrad. i have decorated it with a bucket of nutcracker ornaments of Mickey's and her angel rests on top.

Nutcracker Christmas

after chores, some work and decorating, Sunday was mostly free. Christmas is going to be here this year so i really have to start scouting a route for the Great Cookie Drop*, but that is the stuff of the workweek.

*somehow, we took no pictures last year! how strange.

Sunday i crafted. i cannot show my work, for it was almost all Christmas knitting! how very joyful. joyful enough that i can share a personal disappointment... i was really hoping to go to Madrona this coming year. i desperately wish to be able to knit the Mittens of Rovaniemi.

unfortunately, registration opened the day i started an emergency rotation right after i had to start work. by the time i could take 5 minutes to register, it was 2pm here and the page was broken. it finally reopened around 6pm but everything was full! i emailed Suzanne for advice and she said to send her my course requests and she would get back to me in a week. well, it has obviously been much more than a week (poor Suzanne). i threw everything out so i wouldn't get too bitter and yesterday i finally emailed to retract my time off request. :(

then, about 8:30 last night, i got quite a surprise when Suzanne called to say she could get me into my second choices and also my most important first - the mittens class. i can barely believe it. so, i will be seeing many of you this spring after all!