Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell 2011

Since I'm not good at keeping them, I'm not usually one to put forth resolutions for the coming year. This year however is different and I am trying hard to better myself by working on the act of forgiveness.

I am neither quick to request forgiveness when I've been wrong, nor am I generous when it comes to forgiving if it's requested of me. Hardest of all is forgiving someone a particularly egregious act that they (may) have no clue they've committed against me or someone I care for and that is something I've been considering for several months now. This work has been a challenge, especially since this problem is only indirectly mine--it really belongs to someone I love. I've felt anger so profound and been so outraged at the injustice of it that it's made me feel sick to my stomach and even visits me in my sleep. Truly, this type of problem eats at the soul like a cancer. With the dawning of understanding that how I feel is not particularly healthy for me, I've embarked on a journey of awareness with the goal of learning to forgive.

I am a work in progress.

During this nasty little family drama (two years in the making), it has come to pass that the person who is at the core of this and has created all of this hurt and pain is now physically suffering in the most horrific of ways. It's the ultimate cosmic comeuppance, and I'm (kind of) ashamed to say that I have actually felt true glee at her misfortune. I'm (sort of) appalled at my feelings, but with wise guidance I have started to forgive my own self for feeling that way. In the words of my friend, Jeanne, "feelings come unbidden. We don't ask to have feelings like this, they just sort of wash over us." I didn't ask to feel that way, I just did. Self awareness is a good start. Ultimately, throughout this two year ordeal, I held my tongue. I was really angry that I didn't have the nerve to say what I really felt toward this woman before misfortune befell her and now, well, I'm in a position where I never will have that opportunity and have to learn to let it go. It's so hard.

This week, Jeanne and I met for lunch to explore this topic of forgiveness a little more closely. She gave me some material about the topic that was (oddly) given to her the first day we spoke of this. It included a quote by the theologian Frederick Buechner, “Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back--in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.”

Mmmm. Words to ponder.

And so my friends, for many reasons, it's finally good to say goodbye to 2011. May 2012 be better to our collective world than this year has been and may your own journeys take you to a kinder, gentler and healthier place.

Happy New Year.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boys just wanna have fun

Who knew the Doberman would like the remote control helicopter as much as the recipient?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Busy little elf

We were promised no snow for Christmas, but awakened this morning to a dusting that covered the sidewalks, streets and lawn. It wasn't enough to build a snowman, so I made my own using other ingredients.

This is the Snowman Hat from, itty-bitty hats. It was a total joy to knit. The hat took the duration of watching Mama Mia while knitting, or not long at all.

His adornments took forever! I hope it fits the recipient.

And so my friends, with a knitted gift to give, it must truly be Christmas. May you all have a wondrous and joyous holiday.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Come together

A part of Mimi will join us at the holiday table this year. I rescued this beautiful and unique vase from the estate sale. Sara took it to her florist who loved working with such a pretty piece of glass. It shows.

The list I did not make--but was nevertheless weighing heavily on my sudafed poisoned mind--is finally getting done. One by one, the little things we do that make our holiday traditions complete are coming together. I like these traditions, from the deep cleaning to the baking, shopping, decorating and cooking. Which reminds me...I still forgot to order the meat. I'd better get on that right away.

OK. Technically,it's not a Christmas cookie cutter, but handily for me, my state comes in the shape of a mitten. You can ignore the Upper Peninsula, or not. I think they look just right together!

Today I cleaned the house and baked my little heart out. It was just me and my baking partner, Leo, in the kitchen. For the record, he's a slacker. While I baked three different cookies, and three loaves of honey bread, he mostly napped. He did get up every single time the mixer was running, but only once did it pay off when powdered sugar flew out of the bowl. For the most part, he cleaned the floor for me. He watched intently and whined while I frosted 3 dozen cookies.

Would it be holiday baking if Leo didn't get a little flour or sugar on his face? I could have substituted last year's photo here.

Friday is for grocery shopping and trying to remember to get the meat. If I'm still up to it, I'll bake one more type of cookie. If I'm not, it'll be a quick knit on the menu for my day. Hey--the cleaning is done, so why not?

Are you ready?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Wintry PSA

If you're weary of cold, or snow, or wintry rain, or short days and long nights, take heart. It's only 42 days until Groundhog's Day!

So light some candles, revel in the knowledge that this can't last forever and enjoy your lovely Winter Solstice. You're welcome.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cause and Effect? The all about me edition.

I've thrown in the towel this holiday season. What will be, will be. The house is more or less clean with my bedroom--gathering site of all things I don't have time to store properly--being the last room to tackle. No baking has been done, but the tree is up, the gifts wrapped and a menu has been more or less decided. I write this, I realize I've forgotten to order the meat. Duh.

This, the last day of Autumn, has arrived and I've had yet another December visit by Mr. Rhinovirus. Bastard. I wish he'd leave me alone in December. He showed up last Friday with one sneeze and a wretched sore throat as the only clues he'd moved right in. Again. I thought I was making progress on the self care front and felt pretty good last night, but today I feel worse. And whiny.

I called in sick to work on Monday, but worked last night. Of course things didn't go smoothly and my night was rather complicated. It's hard to think when your nose is plugged. Why is that? I won't call in sick today because I'm off until Tuesday after tonight. If I call in sick, I'll lose holiday pay and no amount of stuffiness is worth a day's pay.


Which of these items do you suppose gave me nightmares last night? And why was Adam Sandler in my nightmare singing the Hanukkah Song?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011


After knitting a bit this morning, and watching The Help with Sara, I got busy with the tree. Sara had an artificial tree in storage outside that, and I kid you not, went up in about 3 minutes. I felt a bit like the Grinch opening and closing trees like they're umbrellas! Still, it's pre-lit and while it's not a fresh fraser fir like I'd been thinking of getting, it was easy. Easy is good this time of year. I'm so glad the spirit came to visit.

Here's a group of men and women who had no trouble finding their spirit. According to their youtube description, this is some of what they missed while on deployment:

Births, birthdays, graduations and holidays. On hearing they'd be going home for Christmas, they made this video.

Charming. Welcome home HMS Ocean!

Friday, December 9, 2011


Yep! That's my middle name of late, at least when it comes to blogging. I took a look back at the posts from last year and compared them to this year, and frankly, I'm surprised I've had so little to say since, oh, April. The year has frankly sucked that much and I must have thought that to write or speak of the awful things we've endured as a family would only given them more prominence. I've also found I've lost a lot of my blogger fodder. With MLTL gone, and me not willing to speak ill of the dead (yet), I simply must come up with something else. I think I've lost my muchness.

Oh...OK, I will dabble. For what it's worth, THERE WILL BE NO HAM AT THE HOLIDAY TABLE. And hey! There will be no fight about it either. It's a little muchness, but we're talking baby steps here. In his honor, I will say grace and thank the Father, Son and Holy Spurs.

To bring you all up to speed, the estate sale was last weekend. I'm so grateful we hired a professional company to do this, even if we did forfeit 35% of the proceeds. The work involved would have been overwhelming to go it alone at such a busy time of year, not to mention how much it hurt having strangers traipse through the house with their hands all over my mother in law's things. Those feelings were a surprise, so it was better to be able to stay away during all of that mayhem. When all was said and done, most things sold, a few of the bigger pieces did not, and all that's left of the smaller porcelain pieces are the ones that are chipped, cracked or broken.

While doing the big after sale clean up so we could put the house on the market, I came up with the idea to turn my mother in law's broken collectibles into functional art. Over the winter, and well after the holidays, I'm going to make tile mosaic table tops to display these pieces that were dear or somehow appealed to her. I'll make one for us, and one for Sara and Brian, too. There is that much left over. Even though I've never done anything like this, I'm looking forward to this project. Hmmm...Pieces of Mimi. She was adored so this is fitting and I believe she would have loved this idea.

This morning, after working until 1 AM, I had a mandatory staff meeting at the buttcrack of dawn. Oh, OK, so it was really 8 AM, but when you work evenings, what's the difference? I came home after a pit stop at the farmers market to find one last contractor in the house. I'd forgotten all about the back door dude. He's here to give us a new energy efficient entry to the yard. The only draw back to the door dude's appearance today is that it's 1) freezing cold out there and now in here, and 2) it's snowing. Leo and I are snuggled on the sofa under 3 blankets and have the big space heater blasting. Supposedly, he'll be gone by 2 PM. I'll believe it when I see it! I want him gone so I can get in the kitchen and make some potato leek soup.

Here is a version of Rudolph much beloved by my family. A big thanks to FTM for reminding me!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

This, not that. That, not this.

In our multiple moves and general upheaval of the past few years, some things have gone missing, likely never to be seen again. Some of these items include my collection of Christmas CDs. Over Thanksgiving weekend, I uploaded a great deal of my general music collection into my itunes account and spent hours and hours doing this. However, after having perused hundreds of discs, I can't seem to find the holiday stuff.

Instead of going to Michael's, the Ford dealer, Kohl's and the pet store today as planned--Leo can wait for cookies--I spent a lot of time on itunes. I think I've pretty much downloaded all of the seasonal songs I think I missed most. To double check, I googled a list of the top 100 Christmas songs. Number one--no surprise here--was White Christmas. The Bing Crosby one, which, incidentally, is not my favorite version. Barbra Streisand sings my favorite version of White Christmas. You can listen hear. The number two artist on that list was Alvin and the Chipmunks. Really? I don't think so. I'd rather listen to Bing.

I may have broke the bank over on itunes, but I'm a happy woman with my favorite songs to listen to again. Back in my Christmas music repertoire, to name a few, is Ottmar Liebert, Luciano Pavarotti, Mitch Miller, A Very Special Christmas with various artists, Elvis, Frank (Sinatra, of course), George Winston, Transiberian Orchestra and the Bolshoi Theatre version of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. Some albums I bought outright today, like Pavarotti's, Winston's (December), The Nutcracker (the Bolshoi version has always been my favorite) and A Very Special Christmas...the first one. With others, I only bought my favorite songs instead of replacing entire works. I hope someday all those CDs will show up in an unexpected place.

Apparently, I'm finally getting in to the holiday spirit. Can a tree, other decor and Christmas cookies be far behind?

Tell me, because I really want to know if I missed anything, what is your favorite Christmas music or song that my itunes shouldn't be without?

I love Ottmar Liebert. Poets and Angels was one of my favorite holiday CDs.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I have news for you

If for some reason you're expecting something hand knit from me for Christmas, perhaps you should think again. I'm breaking it to you now so you can all get used to disappointment.

I'm way behind on knitting gifts this season. I finished the Bella's Mittens pattern for my friend, but my needles have been more or less idle since then. I don't know why, but I just don't feel like knitting. To combat this unusual turn of events, I cast on the Brioche Cabled Cowl. While this stitch boggles the mind of some, I have no problem doing brioche stitch, and I rather like the ribbed pattern it produces, but the cable with such bulky yarn makes this project insane! It took me an hour alone to do the cable row which is only 56 stitches across but required an extraordinary amount of finagling. All 56 stitches were twisted on the cable of my needles in a way that made them look like they were tied in knots. They weren't, but because of their appearance, I ripped out the cable row twice. Once I figured out that the crossed 56 cabled stitches were only making all of them look like they were twisted, I stopped trying to fix the row and knit on. The return two rows took another 45 minutes of what felt like battle. My hands were aching when I was done with those three rows so I put the knitting down, which we all know is code for, now the project is in critical care on life support.

This is not my definition of relaxing with needles and yarn and the fate of this cowl is already written: Prognosis poor. Recommend Palliative Care to have end of life discussion with this cowl's knitter. I don't know where I went wrong, but it may be that I'm using bulky wool that isn't as pliable as other bulky wools. I only know that Wrong is exactly the destination this yarn, this pattern and I have gone. It's too bad because good execution of brioche stitch is really pretty. Cabled brioche is even prettier. The cowl's life line will be removed sometime later tonight.

For your entertainment today: I know you all can't wait to get your hands on the movie, The Help. Anticipation must be something else for those of you who have yet to see this movie and have to wait until tomorrow to get the DVD. To ease the excitement, I've got a home made video for you to watch. It's not Oscar worthy, but may be worth an honorable mention. The thing is, the actor just does not take direction well.

Leo's Happy Dance. Was it the squirrel or the snow that got him so worked up? I don't know. I was unable to decipher his attempts at speaking.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

What's that sound?


It's stunningly lovely to the ears! Yes my friends, after two months of racket, the contractors are finally out of here. They came by this morning at a very respectable 10:30 AM to put the finishing touches on the walls and now they're gone. We still have carpet to install down there, but the dirty and noisy work is done. last!

They did give a bid on a kitchen renovation, but we won't even consider starting a project like this until the weather breaks. It's also something we may do instead of a big 25th wedding anniversary trip. I think that's fair. Italy will have to wait. Our kitchen is so tiny and I think I'd love a bit of space, not to mention a little room to cook.

I have time to dream, so here it goes...

  • A Viking professional stove with six burners and a grill.
  • A big-ass exhaust hood that stands alone like a piece of jewelry hovering above the alter-like stove.
  • A separate convection oven.
  • An appliance garage for my Kitchen Aid Mixer. It's so heavy to lift and I think a house of its own would be nice.
  • A food pantry
  • A spice pantry
  • Radiant heat in the floor
  • That floor? Cork, I think, or maybe Brazilian cherry hardwood.
  • A lighter colored granite on the counters
  • A boat load of cabinet space
  • Task lighting under the cabinets
  • Built in recycling cabinets
  • French doors leading to the now miniature yard (can't expand without losing outdoor space) and an herb garden on the new deck. Ooh...that yard is disappearing fast in my dream!
  • A new Le Creuset cookware set
  • A state of the art espresso machine
  • A professional chef who can both work the espresso machine AND make fabulous bon-bons in the wink of an eye. Hey! What? It's my dream!
I'm only getting warmed up here, but for some reason, I think my imagination may be a bit bigger than my budget.

If I do something like this, what do I need besides winning the lottery? What am I missing?

Friday, December 2, 2011

It's all over when you care not one whit about appearance.

Just when I think I've seen the last of the contractors for a bit, a whole slew of them seem to have moved in with us. Oh, sure, they're only here from 8 am until 4 pm, but they're still here waking us up early, taking up space, playing their music, creating an awful smelling home, pounding any thoughts of restorative sleep away and creating dust storms on the day the house was just cleaned. It's like living with 10 Pigpens. Today though, I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel. This morning with all of us deep in slumber, Leo aroused the house with his horrific alert that barbarians were at the gate. Looking completely insane with hair raised and makeup smeared under my eyes like a raccoon because I was too tired to remove it before I collapsed from exhaustion went to bed, I greeted the painters.

Yes! Finish work on the basement family room has begun, but more importantly, I'm starting to believe, really believe, that it's the beginning of the end of this parade of contractors that began with a little water in the basement. We evening shift workers can all go back to sleeping in until the ungodly hour of 9 AM and generally feeling more rested. Yes! Yes and Yes!

And then, over just my first cup of coffee, my husband utters the following: "they're going to give us a bid on expanding the kitchen."

Maybe I still have mascara caked in my eyes obscuring my view, but suddenly the kitchen doesn't look so small after all.