Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Counting down

If you've made it this far in the month of December, you either have no children or grandchildren in your house, you use your TV for watching movies only, or you live in a hole in the ground somewhere south of Yellowknife. Not that those who live in Yellowknife don't celebrate Christmas. They just haven't been inundated with American-style Christmas. If it isn't the gifts that need to be purchased, made, or otherwise acquired, it's the preparations for visiting friends and family. The corridors of the office are abuzz with holiday stress releasings. Yet the carols talk of joy and peace and tranquility. Christmas is supposed to be fun isn't it?

You can count me in as one of the few who is not undergoing major stress right now in the face of the holidays. The cats don't expect presents or a feast on Christmas Day. My house is looking more like the intersection of Chaos and Mayhem to fit even a table for setting food on. I plan on spending the day with the local classical station playing in the background while I sip tea and work on a jigsaw puzzle. I'll prepare something nice for dinner and call my siblings. All is calm, all is bright. I hope your Christmas day ends up being pleasant for you after all the preparations and the stress.

Secret Santas

If you work in an office with a fair number of people in it you probably have a Secret Santa exchange or something similar. For those of you unfamiliar with this interesting game it's a gift exchange. Participants fill out a form of favorite things (beverages, food, hobbies) enter their names in a hat, then draw names. The name you have drawn is the recipient of your bounty. During a designated week, usually a week before Christmas, you leave one gift on that person's desk. That person doesn't know it's you who's leaving the gift, providing the mystery and fun. Well, for the most part it's fun. If you get someone who has no clue what you're like you can end up with some pretty crappy stuff. Often there's a money limit, like $20, so you can end up with cheap goods. But if you get someone who is resourceful you can wind up with some really fun stuff.

I'm fortunate to be working in an office full of the latter. We have quite a number of creative people who go all out for the exchange. One year I received my name done up as a beaded panel. Another year I received a handpainted coffee cup. I'm one of the people that participants want as a Secret Santa as I try to find things that are not the usual gifts you can find. If I can, I try to make something special for the recipient. This year my recipient received beaded earrings and handknit and beaded wristwarmers.

I do have to say that the exchange is done with fun in mind, so I don't take quite as seriously as I have in the past. My Secret Santa did pretty well for the most part. The thing that made me chuckle though was a fleece throw in bright green with red, green, and white holiday sentiments like "Ho Ho Ho!" and "Happy Holidays". It was soft and cozy but it's Grinch green. I knew the furries would take to it and sure enough Miss Mazola seized it as hers. All I could think was how many Grinches died to make these throws. It came from WalMart -- oh the horror!

Strap on your helmet!

The Winter Olympics are coming! Skiing! Skating! Bobsledding! Hockey! Luge! I look forward to it every time it comes around. I don't know what it is about it. Maybe because it's a celebration of everything cold and it isn't a USA propaganda fest. But I have to wait two whole months. I didn't think I could wait so long. Then while I was channel surfing I ran across on an obscure sports channel world cup competitions in various winter sports. The last couple of nights I've been watching ski jumping in Austria and Germany. The crowds have been incredibly loud with horns and flags. Hot air balloons with advertising logos have been stationed around the stadiums. The jumps have been magnificent and frightening at the same time. I couldn't imagine sliding down a hill and jumping off but the sight of the jumpers flying with their skis splayed out to give them air is so thrilling. Other nights I've been watching luge and slalom skiing. The excitement these have been giving me has helped me crank out my latest project. It's been a great prelude to the Games.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A surprise Christmas gift

I received some good news at the office. Thanks to the hard work of all the staff at the company I work for at not only keeping costs down but helping the company thrive during the economic downturn all the employees received a bonus. I work at a very large company that in the past has given out only gift cards for turkeys during the holidays so this is a very big thing. I could spend it to clear up the last of the bills but I'm thinking that it can be an investment into a tool I can use to make some money on the side.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A very productive weekend

There is something so satisfying in completing more than one project. This weekend was the one I had available to complete projects for this week and prepare for Christmas. It's Secret Santa week so I had to fetch gifts for my recipient. Of course she'll have handmade gifts as well.

Some beaded wristwarmers.

And beaded earrings.

One of my knitsibs has been recently diagnosed with a rare type of cancer. Instead of a blanket from those of us in the group, she's asked for hats to wear while she's going through treatment. She lives in Minnesota so a warm hat was definitely in order. I found some Cascade 128 in my stash and whipped this up today.

Last year I volunteered to do a test knit for one of my friends. The pattern called for Handmaiden Camelspin, which is a sport weight yarn of camel and silk. It has beautful drape but no bounce so it's not very forgiving to knit up. I didn't finish the test knit because I fought the yarn. I tried another pattern with this yarn and was fighting it there as well. This time around, though, I was successful in producing a nice little neckscarf.

The Winter Olympics are next February and the talk on Ravelry is about teams and preparing projects for the two plus weeks of crafting time. The new line up my cable company has for my package includes Universal Sports which has been showing some of the World Cup competitions of various winter sports. I've always enjoyed watching the Winter Olympics even though the US has not been a strong contender in many of the events. My loyalties will be leaning toward Canada's team in those events where the US isn't a contender for medals. In the meantime, I'm trying to decide what I will do for those weeks. One possibility is another Dale sweater, this time in black and white with red trim. I have some patterns from previous Olympic games that I can consider.

In the meantime, I have one UFO I should return to, namely the sweater I started last year out of Kauni yarn. I'm on the body with the second sleeve left to go so any progress I make on it will be good. If I complete it by the end of January I will be very pleased.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Shades of the Rarebit Fiend

I had thought about writing a post about the blue funk I was in earlier this week but ditched it. It was good to write about it but you don't need to read a tale of woe. (I'm doing much better, thank you.) Instead I welcome you to another voyage into the realm of my warped little brain.

For the most part when I sleep I'm aware of my dreams. They're usually the surreal sort of stuff where I'm floating or flying around or watching things happening. Occasionally I'm active in the dream, either being chased by someone with evil intentions or interacting with other people real and imagined. My dreams are always in color. Even ones that happen at night have color to them. I'll remember smidgens of them most of the time, but occasionally I'll have one that's stuck in my memory bank long enough for me to recall it.

Last night I dreamed I was on a ship returning from Hawaii with a number of tourists. The ship was a lot like a ferry in the inside (I've never been on a cruise ship so I guess my brain took memories of ferries I've been on crossing Puget Sound). The tourists were mostly senior citizens and a good number of them seemed to be from New York City. We were all in a windowed room that looked out onto the deck where a number of other people were standing around either talking to each other or watching the water as we sailed for our home port. It was evening, the sky darkening, with clear weather and calm seas. A pretty pleasant trip for the most part.

I'm looking out the window and see this clean-shaven fairly young man with dark, well-cut short hair (think Matthew Broderick) ease up to stand next to a young woman who is at the rail. She glances at him but says nothing. He glances at her then says something brief. She says nothing so he continues with his brief comments. Next thing I see is that he's turned into the Pink Panther, complete with cigarette holder, and his tail is gently waving back and forth as he's chatting up with this woman. She smiles a little. At another bon mot she giggles. She suddenly becomes a female version of the Pink Panther.

All of a sudden, there's commotion from another part of the deck. The Pink Panther suddenly changes back to the man and runs off with three uniformed boatmen after him. The woman regains her shape as a woman and looks befuddled.

For the rest of the dream it's this man going up to women, chatting up with them, becoming the Pink Panther when he has their attention, then changing the women to female versions only to be chased off by officials. This continues for some time until we arrive at our port and in the commotion of disembarkation the man is lost.

I have to say the Pink Panther was my favorite cartoon character when I was a kid: suave, resourceful, and unruffled by circumstances. How he ended up being this man who seduces women on a ship I don't know. Did I want to be the man? Or did I want to be the woman? I don't know. There is one thing though and that is I had macaroni and cheese last night. Not the stuff from the box -- the real McCoy of grated Tillamook medium over elbow mac. So it's entirely possible that my dream stemmed from an overindulgence of cheese a la the Rarebit Fiend.

Ba dm ba dmmmmm. Ba dm ba dmmmmmm.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

OK Barbie let's go party!

The outfits are done and ready to go to their recipients. Hats, scarves, sweaters, and cunning slacks courtesy of my friend Kathy. The girls are going to be so thrilled! As I got everything together for wrapping, I had company.

Buster was supervising the whole project.

Maisie found a box. If there's one thing she's good at, it's finding a box to sit in.

Sammy preferred a snug place to snooze.

With the current chill in the air, I think Sammy has the best idea.