.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I finished the Christmas presents, and even the day before Christmas! I still have a couple Epiphany projects up my sleeve, though, so I can't rest too long. I am pretty wiped out, though, because I was up until 5:00 on Sunday finishing presents, and up until 4:00 this morning wrapping them. We got back from Christmas mass at 2:30 a.m.

All went well until Dominic cracked his forehead on a table, chasing Elijah. So, he got an egg on his head, and it smarted pretty badly. He evidently was confused about the holiday, and thought it was Easter. We got him an ice pack, and he could answer difficult questions about his age, birthdate, what holiday it was, his middle name, things like that. He woke up and the egg was already pretty small, and he's not hurting any more. Good thing he cracked his head after we took the church picture and not before.

Anyway, I realized I had planned to give a scarf to my midwife and had forgotten to account for it. I finished it in April!

I also finally figured out the how to get those felted fish slippers made, and finished them. If anyone is interested in how I did it, I will share. These are them on Elijah's feet this morning.

My sewing machine has become possessed, and so I modified my plan for Dominic's slippers, and sewed them up by hand, using a contrasting color. These were made of the same sweater from which I made Elijah's stocking.

Just for fun, here is Jerome in his Santa booties, playing with his toys. On his right is the doll he found in his stocking for St. Nicholas and on his left is the cool squishy, rattley ball he received for Christmas from his godparents. He cut his first tooth yesterday morning! He's having a great time chewing.

I have pretty much relegated Amira's Church doll to a birthday gift, because of the whole sewing machine debacle, but she adored her scarf and wore it most of the day.

Oh! Rich scanned the boys' school pictures a couple weeks ago, and with all the goings on, I never posted them. Here are Alexander and Dominic in their birthday sweaters.

Rich took a picture of Amira with his phone (his picture phone, as the kids call it) a couple months ago. Somehow the way the light was, and how she was dressed, you could see how she will look at age 12.

Rich said that if you elongated her face a little bit, she would look exactly like she will when she is a teenager.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Keeping Both Christ and Mass

As Advent comes to an end, I am finally becoming ready for Christmas. Not necessarily for the decorating or the presents (I have one more to finish) or the baking (after the power outage, we're going pretty simple this year), but for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, the intersection of God and time at a particular point of human history, the Incarnation.

There are some who celebrate this holiday as Jesus' birthday, and while I commend their desire to keep the focus on Christ, I think they miss the point. Jesus is fully God and fully man, but that doesn't mean He was just any old fellow. We aren't going to light 2000 candles this year for His birthday, that intersection of God and time wasn't when Jesus became, but when He became man, otherwise He could not have been slain from the foundations of the earth, He could not have been part of creation. A birthday is what all of us have, none of our births were God taking human flesh. Christmas is not about happy birthday to Jesus, but about the awe and wonder of God becoming one of us to fulfill the covenant made with Abraham and to untie the knot made in Eden. Calling this merely a birthday trivializes that.

It is well meaning, to be sure, and I wish that more people would focus on Christ instead of presents and decorations. It is also a little frustrating to me to hear people talking about doing things like this and keeping the Christ in Christmas, and then talking about how their church isn't having services on Christmas day so people can be home with their families and open presents. If it is about Christ, then we shouldn't cancel church so we can get stuff. Traditionally, Epiphany was when people exchanged gifts, and it is a relatively recent shift that has made Christmas a day of gifts, rather than a day of holy observance.

It is this shift in priorities that has made it so easy for modern culture to shoo Christ out of Christmas in the first place. If people didn't decide that the mass was optional, it would have been harder to make Christ optional. Christmas means Christ's Mass, of course, though many wish to forget that. In fact, one of our priest's wife went to a very Protestant bible study in which the members and leaders tried to convince her that the -mas in Christmas really meant worship and not mass. Needless to say, she was not convinced. While worship as we use the term today is a part, and even a major part of the mass, it is not the same thing as the mass, which they were trying to deny. Not only were they trying to rewrite history, they were evidently trying to rewrite etymology. Perhaps they are from the same camp that believe that Jesus turned the water into non-alcoholic wine, and that the Israelites in the hot desert were able to preserve grape juice rather than it fermenting.

Mark Shea wrote a little about keeping the Mass in Christmas:

But it is also worth it for Evangelicals to note that when Protestantism got rid of the "Mass" part of "Christmas" they more or less guaranteed that the Christ part would come under attack someday too. Once the faith ceases to be the faith of the Body of Christ and becomes simply whatever each individual says it is in the court of private judgement, it's just a matter of time before the court of private judgement decides it sees no particular need for Christ at all.

(The rest of his blog is worth reading, he makes a lot of clear and interesting points, regardless of whether or not one agrees with him. Here is a very interesting post about the origins of Christmas.)

Since the first day of Christmas (out of the 12) is the 25th (not the day after Thanksgiving, or November first, as our local Christian radio station sets the date - I very nearly wrote to them to tell them that because of their buying into the commercial, non-Christian tradition of making Christmas come earlier each year, I was switching our radio station to the godless, heathen ones until Christmas Eve), I am finally ready to start celebrating it. Our family has had to shut out a lot of the mainstream culture to observe a holy Advent that isn't just a countdown to Christmas day, which then ends the Christmas season. We were instead trying to build ourselves up to receiving the Christ child on Christmas day, and celebrating His first coming for those 12 days (we are planning a Twelfth Night cake and Epiphany presents for the kids, and St. Martha's is having an Epiphany gift exchange that day as well). Advent prepares us to enter into the mystery of the Incarnation, and to await with joy the Second Coming.

We don't do Santa in our home. Not because we think he is evil, or that it is somehow morally wrong to "deceive" our children about this fictitious character (after all, we do the tooth fairy here), but because he is a commercialization and secularization of a real saint of the Church. St. Nicholas is a real man of God who was generous to the poor, loved children and served the Lord faithfully. Every gift he gave was because of his love for God, and because we believe and have taught our children to believe in the reality of the communion of saints, it doesn't matter that he died in the fourth century, because we can be reasonably sure that he lives with God for all time. So, we celebrate his feast day on the 6th of December, we hang stockings up on the night of the 5th, put a carrot out for his horse and write letters, the little kids draw pictures, for him to take up to Jesus. On the morning of the 6th, we wake to find that he has visited and brought us gifts, taken our letters and his horse has had a little refreshment. It is not the sense of wonder that we find objectionable, but the crass commercialism that makes Christmas into a gimme gimme event.

Everyday Mommy wrote an article about Christians and Santa Claus and how odd it is that he is the figure fixed on as a paganization of Christmas, when he is one of the only Christmas symbols we celebrate anymore that has anything to do with Christendom. The wreaths, mistletoe, Christmas trees, Yule logs (Yule, folks!), and holly all have their roots in pagan worship, but somehow these are not the target of Christian ire, Santa is. While I do not object to the use of any of these things during Christmas, so long as you aren't actually worshiping the tree, or celebrating Yule or so on, if any of them should go, Santa should be the only one left standing. Especially since the image of Santa bringing presents to good little children popularized by 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, by Clement Moore, is part of what saved Christmas in England from being a dangerous day when people in the streets acted out drunken behavior and turned it into the family oriented, child centered celebration we are familiar with today. I remember reading in a book about Christmas traditions that in many ways Santa saved Christmas. Because the Everyday Mommy doesn't celebrate saints' days, she doesn't observe December 6th for St. Nicholas, but features Santa in their family celebration.

The Santa toward whom most of the objections are aimed is more of the Coca-Cola Santa than the Clement Moore Santa, to be sure. That Santa is secular, hyper-commercial, and indeed has very little to do with true Christmas devotion, pointing not to an infant Lord in a manger, but directing us instead to the cult of the almighty dollar. The response shouldn't be to hate Santa, though, but to reclaim him. Even Clement Moore took liberties with St. Nicholas, tying his actions to Christmas, and making him a jolly old fellow rather than the young, strong bishop he was, though his depiction was fictional and in fun. So, we instead honor a man of faith who served all those around him as he would serve his Lord.

Tomorrow is the fourth Sunday in Advent, the last day of Advent and Christmas Eve. We will be at church twice tomorrow, and once on Christmas day. We will be helping our children keep Christ in Christmas as well as keeping the Mass in Christmas, so that they will be able to focus on our Lord rather than the presents, food and family, good and enjoyable as those things are. Tomorrow is the Good Night, it is not a night for sleeping.

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 22, 2006

Survey Answers

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer high-end/natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand? Or is it all the same to you?

I am somewhat of a yarn snob. I prefer natural fibers, but do not look down on inexpensive yarns. In fact, I am a great shopper and love a bargain.

2. Do you spin? Crochet?

I learned to spin a few years ago, but haven't progressed much. I learned to crochet this year, and am really enjoying it.

3. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?

I am learning to sew. I finished my first unsupervised sewing project this month! I love cooking, baking and preserving.

4. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?

Natural fibers, soft yarn, especially polwarth and merino wool, alpaca, angora and silk. I tend to knit between sport and aran weight yarn, except for socks, shawls and small projects for which I will use fingering or lace weight yarn.

5. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I guess I'll say acrylic, even though there are some that I like and I think it's fine in blends, just because I'm so picky about it. I'm not a huge fan of fun fur, but a little glimmer or something like boucle or ribbon is fun. I do like loopy mohair, it and baby mohair are about the only mohair I like. To be honest, though, I can always find a way to use any yarn. My biggest problem is with the itch factor, I have very sensitive skin.

6. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?

Cables, always cables. Any texture knitting or lace.

7. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

Pullovers, shawls, baby things, small objects.

8. What are you knitting right now?

Christmas presents!

9. Are you a sock knitter?

I can knit socks. I do like sock yarn, and that lovely keychain sock blocker thrills me.

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Are there any colors you hate?

Red. Deep, true red. Blues of various sort, think oceans, skies, flowers, anywhere from the green end to the violet end. Yellow from butter to lemon. Rose, coral and raspberry pink, but not much else pink. I don't really do any colors from the orange spectrum, though I'm sure I could work with them.

11. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Yes, a link is in my sidebar. Here is a link to make it easier: Amazon Wishlist: Knitting.

12. Do you have any allergies? (smoke, pets, fibers, perfume, etc.)

Smoke and dogs.

13. Do you have any religious prohibitions or restrictions?

We don't do Santa (why when there is the real man St. Nicholas?), we observe the liturgical calendar and honor the saints. We observe the dietary restrictions of Advent and Lent.

14. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)

Citrus, pear, melon/cucumber. I also like light florals, like jasmine, freesia and lilac. I do not like most vanilla or cinnamon scents (prefer the real thing) and don't like lavender at all.

15. Do you burn candles?

Yes, especially recently.

16. Do you have a sweet or salt tooth?

I am mostly a salty and crunchy snacker, but I have a weakness for good chocolate, caramel and sweet and sour candies.

17. Do you drink coffee, tea or cocoa?

Yes. Coffee, strong and black, tea, hot and syrupy and cocoa just about any way I can get it!

18. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I am married, our 10th anniversary is in nine days, we have five children: Alexander, 8, Dominic, 6, Elijah, 4, Amira 2 and Jerome, 4 months.

19. What are some of your favorite things?

Yarn, of course. I love chickens, ducks, heritage turkeys, American Buff geese, Dexter cattle, Tunis sheep, we want to farm one day. Kitchen stuff always makes me happy. Books!

20. Is there anything that you collect?

See above. Yarn, books, farm-y and orchard-y things, patterns, kitchen goodies.

21. What is your favorite holiday?

For the purpose of this round of the Color Swap, New Year's. Favorite Christian holiday is Pascha/Easter, with Christmas a close second, favorite non-Christian holiday, probably a tie between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

Color Swap Survey

In order to help your partner learn more about you, please post this survey and your answers to your blog:

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer high-end/natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand? Or is it all the same to you?

2. Do you spin? Crochet?

3. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?

4. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?

5. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

6. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?

7. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

8. What are you knitting right now?

9. Are you a sock knitter?

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Are there any colors you hate?

11. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

12. Do you have any allergies? (smoke, pets, fibers, perfume, etc.)

13. Do you have any religious prohibitions or restrictions?

14. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)

15. Do you burn candles?

16. Do you have a sweet or salt tooth?

17. Do you drink coffee, tea or cocoa?

18. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

19. What are some of your favorite things?

20. Is there anything that you collect?

21. What is your favorite holiday?

22. What is your birthday? (You don't have to tell the year)


Thursday, December 21, 2006

January Assignments Sent

I have sent out the assignments for January's Color Swap. I forgot to ask everyone to email me when you get your assignment just so I know you received it.

The color theme is Metallic, and I'm interpreting that pretty broadly, to include sparkly, shimmery, glittery, not just gold, silver, copper, bronze, etc. So, now that you have your assignment, you can go snoop on your partner's blog and see what she's interested in and what kinds of things she likes, and have fun finding things with which to spoil and surprise her.

I just want to reiterate that the total cost for this should be at least $25, including shipping and packaging. Please send your package by January 20th to make sure that it is received by the 31st. Also, this is supposed to be fun, not just a way to grub for stuff. So, please don't complain on your blog about your partner, if you have a problem, please email me about it and I'll see what I can do. Enjoy finding fun things that fit within the color theme to send, and enjoy the fun of receiving a swap package!

Another thing: I am not very artistic when it comes to drawing and painting, so if anyone out there can come up with a good Color Swap 2007 button, I will award a prize to the one I like best. Email me the button, jpg or gif please, with your name, email address and a snail mail address, so I can send you your prize.

Here is a list of January's participants:


Have fun everyone!


Six Days without Power

And three days without a land line have shown us what we are made of, and we're much tougher and more capable than I thought. It also has pretty much conquered my remaining objections against my getting a cell phone, though I will still only give the number to the kids' school, Rich, our priest and the children so people can't just call and annoy me. We used Rich's work cell when he wasn't at work (yes, he still had to work with no electricity or phone at the airport), and charged it up in the car.

Anyway, we survived six days without electricity in our home. It was eased quite a bit by three families from our church letting us use their laundry facilities for about six loads, so we had enough warm clothes for the kids and blankets and sheets for bedding. We were also allowed to use the showers at two homes, and at our neighbor's hotel room (they left their powerless home for a hotel in town), so we were all bathed on Saturday and Rich and I got to take turns showering at the hotel Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Thank you to the Williams, the Landons, the Ramos and the Lavines!

As for Rich and me, we came up with all sorts of ways to work with our powerless state. Aside from putting all the kids with us in the living room in front of the fire, which we had burning almost non-stop for those six days (it was out Saturday afternoon while we went to our various meetings and gatherings, Sunday morning while we went to church and Tuesday night while we went to Home Group), chopping wood each morning, afternoon and night, he did lots of the cooking on the grill, fashioning a kind of stove top on it and cooking everything from hashbrowns, to eggs to lemon-pepper chicken, to sausage and toast, he also heated our house Sunday morning with a propane torch he brought down from the shop, since we couldn't light the fire and still go to church, because we didn't want to leave the fire going, he then used that propane torch with a wire milk crate turned upside down to boil a big pot of water so we could wash in warm water that morning. The Landons brought a propane heater with them to church, and let us borrow it, so from Sunday on, we used it a few times a day, 10-20 minutes at a time, to heat the living room (which is a huge space, open to the dining room and the hall) and I made sure that every time it was on, we put a pot of water on and sometimes a pot with eggs in it to steam on top, so we could have hard boiled eggs and tea and water to wash with. I also wrapped potatoes at night and put them in the ash in the fireplace so we'd have hot baked potatoes to eat in the morning, I also cooked a squash this way, and between Rich and me, we rigged up a toaster/grill of sorts on the hearth with cinder blocks and metal trays, where we warmed plates of food, toasted bread, made grilled cheese sandwiches and even dried wet gloves. Each morning began with milky tea, so the kids had something warm for their hands and stomachs. We had a butane one burner stove but ran out of butane on Sunday, and there was no butane to be found in a 30 mile radius of our home, so it came in handy to have the propane heater where we could heat water after that.

Our phone came back on Monday night, which was a huge relief. There was something particularly frightening about there being no power and not being able to get a hold of anyone should we need help, especially since the phone first went out while Rich was at work, and whenever he was gone it was a little distressing for me. Monday night also brought another reprieve for us. We had set up our outdoor refrigerator, and if it weren't for wildlife, we could have just left everything out in the breezeway, it was colder than our fridge was, but we have a deep freeze and two fridge freezers that were full of food, mostly meat, that were just starting to thaw. We put the contents of all three into the deep freezer with two blocks of ice, but that wouldn't refreeze anything, just keep it from getting worse. Well, there is a construction company that has a hangar just up the hill from our house, and they have a portable generator that they were using during the day for light and tools and such on the job. They let us use it at night while they didn't need it so we were able to hook our freezer up to it and Rich plugged in an electric space heater in Dominic and Amira's room, and we set the four older kids up in there for the night with heat, which expanded our living area from four rooms (kitchen, dining, living and downstairs bathroom) to five rooms. He also plugged in a lamp in the bathroom and our alarm clock, since he had to return it by 6:00 a.m.

Although we literally had between 25 and 30 candles lit at any given time at night, that one light brightened up the room and hallway so much it made us realize what a miracle electric light must have seemed to the people who were alive when it became common. We just couldn't believe how bright it was.

Oh! but I haven't told you the story of Rich getting that generator set up. It was night time, as the construction company used it during the day, and it gets dark here at around 3:30 p.m. anyway, so after dinner, Rich goes to get it and set it up in our driveway to the garage, so it would be outside, but near the basement so he could run extension cords to the deep freezer down there, as well as up the stairs to the bathroom and the kids' heater. Well, he spent at least two hours trying to get it to start. Here we were hanging all our hopes on this machine, so that we wouldn't lose all that food, and it wouldn't start. Every time he came into the house, he was more and more frustrated, and I was worried for him and for the food and for the kids, who were already asleep in the room, waiting for the heat to go on. It just wouldn't go, and Rich ended up hurting some tendons in his arms and got blisters, until finally he thought it must be the machine and not him. He didn't want to mess with it too much, since it wasn't ours, but we needed it on, so he did some basic trouble shooting, and found that the spark plugs were disgustingly dirty. No amount of cleaning got them to work, so he went up to the shop, and got replacement plugs. That did the trick, and sure enough, he got everything hooked up and running. Less than three hours later, it ran out of gas. So, early in the morning, he had to get more gas into it. Two and a half hours later, he had to get up to return it to the construction hangar.

It did the trick, though, and our freezer was frozen, and the kids were warm all night. The next night, Tuesday night, the construction manager called Rich to see if he wanted to use it again, and he set it all up again. He said we could keep it longer in the morning, so I made two pots of coffee, as Rich had gotten us some preground coffee, and I made mochas for all of us throughout the morning, as our coffee maker has a thermal carafe, so it stayed warm longer. It was a good thing we had that coffee maker plugged into the generator, too, as there wasn't going to be tea in the morning since we ran out of propane in the heater that morning. We had another tank of our own, so Rich got it hooked up after he got more wood chopped, cooked up some sausage on the grill, talked to the power company again to get an estimate for power (our last estimate had been Wednesday morning, and that had come with no power), and did a few other things that needed to be done. So, a pot of eggs and a pot of water got put on the heater once it was up and running again, and we went about our, now normal, routine. Wednesday night, the power went back on and a cheer went up from all of us here. Even though we managed very well, it was wearing on us all.

You have to understand that this wasn't just a matter of too many people with power out that they were trying to service, although that was true (there were a million homes without power around Puget Sound on Friday). Just in our area of town, there were two or three power poles broken at the base and fallen (they have been working for years to get all electric lines underground, and all new ones are underground, but it is not a finished job), three telephone poles broken and down, trees down everywhere and about every 150-200 feet trees through the power lines bringing them down to the ground.

There are so many things we are thankful for after all of this, not the least being the friends who were willing to help us out, the crews from Eastern Washington who came to work on our power, our fireplace and the fact that we have been working on making sure we have enough for winter each year, the diesel generators that back up the pumps to the water towers on the airport (without which we wouldn't have had running water or flushing toilets), and Jay who lent us the generator.

Environmentalists may despise diesel and gasoline, but we are sure glad that they are available to us, because we couldn't have had water or saved our food without them. Also, I take back any bad things I have ever said about tea cosies. I'm going to make cosies for every dang thing in our house this year. I made a makeshift tea cosy out of a large hot pad and a kitchen towel to keep our water hot for as long as possible and it was a godsend.

One disappointment was learning how low on the priority list the airport was. Almost our whole town had power before we did. This isn't just a matter of convenience to us, or a privilege for general aviation and pilots, but a matter of safety. The runway lights, ILS, localizer, etc. were all out, which meant that nobody could fly in or out of here at night, even those with instruments on their planes. The tower has a generator, but they were running with one light bulb and no heat, so the generator would only be used for their radios and instruments. Since the restaurant was closed, the guys in the tower couldn't get food when they needed it, Rich brought them a plate on Friday, and made sure they ate. With all the lights and such out on the airport, it was dangerous to fly here, and we are the airport that does mediflights for our area - no medical supplies could be flown in, nobody who needed airlift could be flown out, we are part of the civil air patrol, and part of national security, and none of that was operational by sundown.

Several of our neighbors called government representatives and someone from the peninsula got a hold of our county representative to express their dismay that a municipality was so low on the totem pole for getting back up and running. It should have been just after the power company, hospitals, fire and police, and phone company for getting back online. Well, there is now some liason dealing with this to make sure that the next time something like this happens, we will be back in action sooner than six days out.

Overall, though, it wasn't that bad. The lack of hot water, and having to be on top of everything all the time were the hardest parts. Rich and I had to make sure the fire never went out, round the clock. At night, where normally we had the luxury of saying that something could wait until the morning, we had to get any work done that needed to be done, or there wouldn't be heat or food or whatever. There was also the safety worry, the normal rule not to run in the house all of a sudden was a huge deal, because a candle could be knocked over, or a child could run into the propane heater, or trip into the fire. We did get a little cabin fever staying in pretty much one room all the time. Normally, I can send the kids to the playroom or to one of their bedrooms to play when they are too rambunctious for me, but we had to stay where the heat was. It did wear on all of us. We tried to keep it fun for the kids, roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, made up plays, the boys made a book, things like that, but it was hard on everyone. It felt like we had forgotten what it felt like to be warm, and we'd be just sitting in front of the fire, in sweaters and socks and bundled in blankets, lethargic and tired. It gave us a greater understanding of what we had read in the Little House books, and we didn't have it nearly as bad. Our home was well insulated, the temperatures were around 28-32 degrees at night, rather than the 20 to 40 below in the books, we had clean, running water, flushing toilets and better and more clothing and bedding.

There was one thing, though, that we learned to do, and that was to work with the normal daily rhythms. When there was light, I put the few dishes we used in the dishwasher, so when we did get power back, I'd have it ready to run and fewer dishes on the counter, for instance. Also, we used leftover paper plates, plastic utensils and cups from Thanksgiving for most of our dishes, and just used pots and pans, knives, cutting boards and serving utensils that needed to be washed. We read and I knit and we played games mostly during the day when there was light, though I did get good at reading by candlelight, we did the outside chores with the light, things like that. Nighttime was for essentials and for getting ready for bed. There is something profoundly good about daytime being for work and nighttime being for rest. We are not so good at that in our modern, electric life.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Power Outage

Well,the Monthly Color Swap assignments for January will not be sent out until our power comes back on. We were hit with the 50 mph winds (gusts up to 69!) and our power has been out since 11:30 p.m. Thursday night. I'm over at a friend's house right now in a different town, where they still have power.

Perversely,after the winds died down, and relative calm was restored, our phone went out yesterday afternoon. The estimate yesterday for the power returning was two to five days. We are doing alright, though, we have lots of fire wood for the fireplace, two gas grills, a charcoal grill, a fire pit, and a butane stove, plus lots of candles and flashlights. It's cold enough outside that we put coolers and a chocolate cooler outside as a refrigerator, and we have tons of food. Today, we were able to bathe the kids and ourselves at our friends' houses, because St. Martha's was still meeting, and Rich was doing Christmas crafts with the kids at another house. We also have been doing laundry while we are out and one family has invited us to stay for dinner.

The power company crews are steadily working toward us, though, and we are seeing more lights come on, so we are hopeful that we might have power tomorrow night. The airport has been hit pretty well, a few hangar doors ripped off, some roofs torn off, a skylight that levitated off a building and dropped down next to it, two planes that were flipped,tipped or rolled. Our house only had one small section of the roof over the upstairs bathroom was lifted a little bit,and our carport has some festive greenery from the fir and cedar trees on it. We've been selling it as camping in to the kids, and for the most part they are going along with it. Since we just finished the Little House series we have been talking about how we are still doing better than they did. No frost on our noses this morning, our home is sealed well, we have more warm clothes and more blankets than they had, all the fire wood we can use, food and water for weeks, running water and indoor toilets. We are truly blessed.

Labels: ,

Friday, December 08, 2006

Color Swap

Inspired by another blogger's color themed swap this past year, I wanted to start one of my own. Each month of the year will have a color theme assigned to it, and sign ups will be the month prior. This isn't a secret pal type thing. You will know who is sending to you, and you will be sending to that person. I hope this will discourage deadbeat participants, though I'm sorry to have to consider that. There will be different assigments each month, so you shouldn't get the same person each month, should you choose to participate all year.

I'm getting a later start this month than I intended, as I want people to have their assignments by Christmas. To participate, you must either be a member of KnittingMothers or be a knitter with a blog you update frequently. In fact, even among the knittingmothers, I'd encourage those few of you without a basic blog to begin one. I want people to be able to get to know each other a bit. If you wish to sign up, send me an email with your full name, mailing address, email address that you check regularly, and blog url. Please include your birthday, if it falls in the month you are swapping (you don't have to include the year if you don't wish to). This is open to knitters worldwide, but I am going to make a big effort to pair people within the same nation or at least continent, since there is only a month in which to allow for something to arrive. These registrations need to arrive in my inbox by 12:01 a.m. on the 18th of the month preceding the swap month. For this month, that means by Sunday night, the 17th. I am going to limit the swap to the first 50 respondents.

The first thing to come to mind in terms of color is, of course, yarn, but please don't limit yourself to that. Handmade cards, candles, soaps, bath salts, stationery, candies, chocolates, knitterly tools or gadgets, knitting themed accessories and roving/fiber for those who are spinners as well are all good idea for gifts. Knitting something for someone would be a lovely gift. Including shipping, the minimum price for this swap should be considered at $25 (remember, that includes shipping and any packaging). I know how difficult it is to determine the monetary value of something handmade, or handspun or hand dyed, and I do not consider those things as cheap, but please keep in mind a general sense of the price of the package being sent. Participants should expect to receive one package and to send out one package for each round of the swap. Packages should arrive by the end of each month, preferably earlier.

I have somewhat arbitrarily, and somewhat purposefully, assigned a color theme for each month of the year:

January - Metallic and Shimmer This is a little bit of a cheat, but I was thinking of New Year's and sparkly, glitzy things.

February - Browns and Tans for all those Valentine's chocolates.

March - Green in honor of spring and St. Patrick's day.

April - Neutrals White, offwhite, beige, cream, eggshell, and sandy colors, are what immediately come to mind, but this color theme was interpreted in very interesting ways in the first swap I saw.

May - Purple for the first bright flowers of the season.

June - Blue because of the blue summer skies, and the ocean and just because.

July - Red My birthday is in this month, and red is my favorite color.

August - Pinks and Peaches Mostly just because, but also because so many fruit are ripe in August.

September - Yellow for the last of the summer sun.

October - Orange Fall, pumpkins, harvest.

November - Greys and Blacks Around here, November is the rainy season.

December - Multicolor This is another freebie, because there are so many different variegated, handpainted, space dyed, self-patterning, multicolored yarns out there and I thought it would be a fun way to end the year.

I hope you all think this is a good idea, and join in. Please feel free to spread the word.

Remember that registration for January ends 12:01 a.m. December 18, 2006 and the first color theme is metallic and shimmer.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

St. Nicholas

was very good to us last night. We awoke to all of our stockings stuffed with good things. Rich, I mean St. Nicholas, brought me a Chris Tomlin CD that I have wanted for some time, plus the cinnamon nuts, mandarin oranges, candy canes, chocolate coins, and jelly beans for all of us. Rich received some wild blueberry jam and Jello, which I otherwise refuse to purchase, but he wanted it so much that St. Nicholas took pity on him and picked up three boxes when it was in the mark down section at the grocery store and saved them for last night. The kids got suckers and other various candies that they usually don't get, and that made them really happy. Jerome, who couldn't eat any of those things, got a stuffed, fabric doll that he can grab and squish and chew on to his heart's content.

So, obviously, I finished both stockings. I also finished Toddle, Amira's Christmas present, as well. There are even pictures to prove it. I finished a not so Itty Santa Bag using size 7 needles and worsted weight yarn, and almost twice the sts (I meant to only add one repeat to the pattern, but cast on so many sts on each needle as she said, but did four needles as I usually do rather than her three). I don't have a picture of this yet. It will be filled with goodies to eat and be given as a gift to someone I know.

Here is Toddle, which was simple and relatively quick to do. I started on row eight rather than row one, because it allowed me to start on a non-cable row, and I ended a little earlier on the other end, so it wouldn't flare out quite as much. It took probably one and a third skeins of Cashmerino Aran, rather than the one listed in the pattern.

This is Elijah's stocking for St. Nicholas. I did some very sad, freehand embroidery. The M is especially wonky, but I didn't want to undo it, so there it is. Any irregularities should not be seen as flaws, but as part of the natural beauty of the item.

I finally made the twisted cord and secured it to the cuff on Amira's Keepsake Baby Stocking. I had to fiddle with this pattern a bit to make it turn out the way the photograph was in the book. It would have been frustrating to me, had I been a beginner knitter, but I liked how it turned out, and it wasn't difficult to make the changes. If you want to know what I changed, let me know.

For those who were curious, the host was photobucket and I did write to them, thanking them for their service and saying that I was concerned about the nature of their advertising. I received a note saying, basically, thanks for writing, bye. I will be checking out the site you recommended webhill, also. The other thing I didn't mention which makes things a little harder on us purchasing at some places is that we try not to buy from places that use sweatshop labor or that have other political practices/activism with which we disagree. This limits our choices quite a bit, especially on the inexpensive end. So, I shop resale mostly, at a very wonderful consignment shop in town, and make what I can, and buy when I can at some of the more expensive places when they have sales.

Labels: ,

Monday, December 04, 2006

Modesty Is Such a Lonely Word

Many of you may have noticed a few mentions of my learning to sew. It is something I have always wanted to know how to do, because I would like to have clothes that fit me correctly, as well as having an affinity for older styles and a desire to be able to make more of what we use. Well, recently, I have had even more reason to wish to learn.

It turns out that the powers that be believe that little girls should be dressed to look as though their clothing was bought at Harlots R Us. Even in the baby clothes that we received when Amira was born, there were some garments that were innapropriate. I was of two minds about it, as I thought there was no actual harm in a small girl wearing such things, but I wondered what would cause someone to think it was suitable for such a girl to be dressed in such a way. Also, I didn't like the idea of dressing her in a way that would be forbidden when she grew older. Why set her up for such disparate standards?

It is increasingly difficult to find clothes for her that are little girl clothes, and that don't, at the same time, cost a fortune. So, I am learning to make her clothes. There is also a trend to dress little girls up like little adults, even when that clothing isn't inappropriate, but making them look older than they are. This has always been true to a certain extent, but it seems to be starting younger and younger.

I have been frequently shocked at the kind of things the little girls in our boys' classes have worn to school, and how much the school has to stress and restate the dress code, for kindergarten and first grade children. Obviously, their parents are buying them these clothes and allowing them to wear them, as they cannot get them themselves. There is absolutely no reason for a five year old girl to come to school in high heeled, strappy sandals. How does she run and play at recess in them? I can understand having them as dress up items, but these girls are wearing them as regular school wear.

The boys are no better, with the vulgar logos, explicit phrases and images on their shirts and their pants hanging a good foot below where they should. Though, in their cases, it is usually older boys (as though that were much consolation). Fortunately, at the boys' school, they have cracked down on the dress code, and nothing with pictures or words on them are allowed at all. This has caused some consternation with the girls' parents, as so much of girls' clothing is embellished with butterflies and hearts and whatnot, but I can understand why they have simply forbidden it all. I'm rooting for a uniform, actually.

There is a blogger out there who has started a campaign called Moms for Modesty, which I am all for, though we have moms and dads for modesty here, as well as believing these standards are not simply for girls. There are even baby bibs with double entendre "jokes" on them, saying things like: Your crib or mine? Though some may laugh it off, I think it is part of the early sexualizing of children, and the degradation of their innocence. We wish to have no part in it.

Not only do we want our daughter to dress and behave modestly, but we want our sons to desire girls and women who do so. It is hard work teaching them the value of modesty in a world of graphic advertising, billboards, magazines in checkouts, and even the daily clothing they see on people in the street. Even children's film and cartoons seem designed to send a sexualized message. It is not only this that bothers us, but the bad attitude, crass language and rudeness that is becoming far more accepted in children and their examples.

This brings me to a request. I have been using a free photo hosting service for two years. It has been easy to use, and I understand that for them to remain free, they need to take advertising. I have no objection to that. However, they have recently (I think within the past month) begun to have very explicit and vulgar advertising, and I do not wish to expose myself or my family to it. Are there any free photo hosting services out there that are easy enough for a novice to use on a Mac? Please leave a comment if you know of one. Thank you.

P.S. I will put a plug in for Modestly Yours, which is a great blog of commentary on modesty and culture.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?