The Dust Won

This year it was hard to get motivated to decorate for Christmas, but I did and glad of it. However, we live on a gravel driveway off a gravel road and have two huge house dogs, so the house requires frequent vacuuming and dusting. Prior to decorating, every surface gets wiped down thoroughly, crevices vacuumed, then the Santas, Gnomes, Village, small decorated tree, and linens are brought out. A couple of weeks before Christmas, we go to one of the local Christmas tree farms, pick a fresh tree, have it cut and decorate it. Though it is pretty to look at, all of this just contributes to the mess. The tree goes up between the living room windows and door, so every time the dogs go in or out, tails swat the tree. This one really held it’s needles well, drank quarts of water each day, and was still pretty supple this morning, but every other surface was so dusty I couldn’t stand it another day.

I was awake early and instead of just lounging about, the tree was undecorated. This was challenging as Ranger, the Mastiff decided that since I was in the living room, he would be too and parked right in front of the tree. The stand we bought years ago at the tree farm holds lots of water, so after all the ornaments and lights are off, I have to sit on the floor with a dish pan and a turkey baster and siphon off at least a gallon of water before the tree can be removed from the stand and dragged outside. Usually a trail of needles follow me, but surprisingly few today.

The linens were all washed and folded, the Village dismantled and packed up, the small tree that sits on the jelly cupboard, soft sculptures, nut crackers all packed back in the big plastic totes that store them 11 months of the year. After lunch, the Santas and Gnomes were each wrapped in bubble wrap and packed in their totes. All shelves, mantle, tables, and other surfaces dusted, floors vacuumed and mopped, and Christmas has been put away for another year.

It always makes me a little sad to take it down, but cleaning up the dust, dog hair, tree needles, makes me feel better about the house. Last year, the totes were all stored in a guest room closet, this year, I returned all but two of them to the storage closet in the basement. The two that went back in the guest room are the two with Santas and Gnomes that are just too heavy for me to comfortably carry up and down the basement steps.

The ceramic Snowman and snowmen pillows will stay out until I am tired of snow, that hasn’t happened yet this year.

Soon the pumpkin pie and eggnog will be gone and Christmas will be but a memory. For a couple years, we have celebrated New Year’s Eve at Mountain Lake Lodge, up the mountain from us, enjoying the dinner, party, overnight room, and breakfast the next day. This year, we will stay home, it just isn’t safe to go out. Let’s hope 2021 is healthier and less contentious politically than last year. Wishing you all a healthy, happy New Year.

Yes, I am alive and well

A friend reminded me that I had been silent for a few days. Time spent with hubby and via phone and video chat with family, time spent finishing my December spinning challenge, trying to finish a shawl as a finished project for the same challenge, and getting ready for the start of the new year, spinning challenges and mentally preparing for even more isolation as we are seeing about a dozen new cases of COVID in our county each day (56+% of the cases in the county since December 1) and between people travelling and gathering for Christmas and New Years, it will get worse.

When I went to the Farmers Market on the Saturday before Christmas, part of my goal was to obtain a Christmas roast for our Christmas dinner, we still have Thanksgiving turkey in the freezer. The vendor apologized that his abattoir had not gotten his latest beef back to him, but he expected to pick it up on Monday. He made a stop on his way home and let me buy a 3 pound rib roast. It was a much more expensive cut than I would usually purchase and wanted it to be cooked perfectly. When we have family here or that we can visit with, we usually have Italian food at Daughter’s on Christmas Eve, and Turkey, ham, and all the sides on Christmas day here. As a younger married, I would prepare either Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, my Dad doing the other and extended family gathered. The Christmas dinner was always on Christmas eve and we grazed on left overs and other goodies on Christmas Day. Traditionally, I make Huevos Rancheros for hubby on Christmas and New Years Day mornings. Because it was just the two of us, I did prepare the breakfast then later in the day, prepared the roast that I had seasoned the day before. It was perfect and delicious. We have eaten about half of it over two days, the other half frozen to be pulled out in a week or so and enjoyed again.

We woke to a white Christmas with continued snow showers all day. Gifts had been exchanged with our children and grand children via distanced meetings or mail. We celebrated with just the two of us. My gifts included items lovingly chosen based on my interests, fiber to spin, a Jumbo flyer for my wheel, a travel Lazy Kate, a leather tooled pocket notebook cover, counter top herb garden with grow light, hand made pottery planter made by DIL and bee barn from them as well, wool socks and a wool tee shirt to keep me warm. It was a calm, lazy day filled with too much food, but no in person family except hubby.

My December spinning got side tracked when I started knitting the Peacock shawl, but I still finished with plenty for the challenge.

Yesterday was spent plying yarn, the “Redbud” ended up about 450 yards of light fingering weight and the Jacob (the gray) is this month’s and last month’s plied together to about 115 yards of light fingering weight.

The fiber hubby gave me is the left of this photo and will be the breed I begin my January challenges with, both the “Something New” challenge and a Breed Blanket.

After several frigid icy days, the sun is out and the snow and ice are melting, the temperature finally above 40 degrees, so we ventured out to take a walk, figuring the paved rail grade being the safest path. For the most part it was clear or wet, but there were some areas like this below.

Some of the areas that looked wet were black ice, but it was good to get out and stretch our legs and get some fresh air.

I have about half an ounce of yarn left before I have to use the rest to do the picot bind off. I’m hoping it is enough to finish the repeat I am on.

I’m very pleased with how the gradient blends until it gets to the purples and the gradient isn’t as subtle there, almost like the purples were reversed, but I spun this yarn on spindles and was very careful to keep them in the order they came off the braid. It is still a pretty shawl. Once finished, washed and blocked, it will go in my shop.

I hope you had a safe Christmas and will have a safe New Year.

Gifts of Love

A year or two ago, DIL took a favorite photo of Jim and a compilation of other photos and did a beautiful pen sketch for hubby as a gift.

She is a very talented artist and wanted to do something special for him. He loves the gift and it hangs on the siding wall of the steps to the loft in our living room.

In August, right at his birthday, hubby made the very difficult decision due to health issues to sell his beloved Harley and give up his “Zen” riding as he called it. In the years since he learned to ride, two months after his 70th birthday, he had collected patches, buttons, poker chips, and pins that never made it onto the iconic leather vest and as he was no longer riding, a vest he wouldn’t wear wasn’t an option.

I had an idea as a gift for him. It isn’t a surprise, but done out of love as part of his Christmas. The photo that was used as the focus of DIL’s sketch was printed as an 8 X 10, his license plate from the HD was saved, and the idea came to fruition. A large frame, some black cotton fabric, a piece of corrugated material for the pins to stick into and it was all put together with patches and other treasures.

A collection of memories.