Wednesday, November 28, 2018


Although the calendar hasn't turned to December, the weather is wintry. Right on cue, snow arrived the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Rain fell, the temperature dropped, and wind blew in blizzard conditions. It was a good day for a cup of tea and a healthy helping of knitting projects. Over the weekend I blocked Norah's Christmas stocking. Sunday I wove in ends. Monday evening I seamed it closed. This week I will line it, crochet a short chain for the hanger, and attach the all important jingle bell at the toe. Technically it isn't quite finished, but soon. Then off it goes with a wing, a prayer, and a tracking number to Connecticut. I don't like trusting it to the mail but I don't have much choice. In the last two and a half years, we haven't had any packages go astray so I'm hoping our record holds. Fingers crossed.

Norah's is the ninth stocking I have knitted from this old 1950's pattern that came from my aunt. She knit stockings for my three siblings and I, as well as her five children, their spouses, and perhaps her grandchildren. I told my daughter that baby names can be no longer than seven letters so they fit on the stockings. Ha. When I began knitting them for my grandchildren, I bought extra red and green yarn that is mostly gone. Extra yarn never hurts and often helps. My intarsia is flawed but the stitches are knit with love and that is what counts, especially at Christmas.

Every time I think I am more of a process knitter, I finish projects with immense satisfaction. So perhaps I am both. At any rate, Norah's hat and mittens are finished as is this shawl I knit for my sweet sister's birthday gift. I modified the pattern a bit to get a shawl of good size and use up most of the skein.  Last winter we visited a local yarn shop and each bought a skein of yarn. This is the yarn I purchased. It is absolutely lovely and it is blue. We both like blue yarn. She is a beautiful knitter and a wonderful sister to me. This shawl was a joy to make for her. The stocking and the shawl have been my knitting since September.

Now I am onto more relaxed knitting in December. I may knit one more hat for a gift this week or I may not. I have been enjoying the afterglow of a lovely Thanksgiving. This morning Jonah asked me to read the reindeer book. Since he is not yet in preschool, I read to him quite often via Face Time. What a life saver for long distance grandparenting. This afternoon I am going to get out the Christmas books so Rudolph is ready for tomorrow's chat. Next week will be time enough for my minimalist approach to decorating. 

As I join Kat and the Unravelers this week, I am in between books. I read a few essays from the collection, Aging: An Apprentice. The essays were written and arranged by writer's decade of life, that is the 40's (is that aged?), 50's, 60's, etc. Some well known authors: Jane Hamilton, Judy Blume, Gloria Steinhem, Donald Hall, Doris Grumbach had pieces in the book. Some were worth reading, many were not. I skipped quite a few. An essay called "Ripening" that likened aging to being ripened like a seed appealed to me. I prefer a positive focus.

Enjoy the rest of the week. What are you reading and making?

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving Eve

Yesterday this piece of birch bark blew onto the deck. Since it was so lovely, I brought it in for awhile. Today is a day for a tried and true recipe, Butterhorn Rolls, and two new ones, Gingerbread Spiced Almonds and Cranberry Couscous Salad. Then, tomorrow, over the river (the Platte) and through the fields (corn) to my sister's home we go.

As I grew up, my family celebrated Thanksgiving with my Dad's extended family. The tradition began in 1941 with a kindness. After one of my great uncles lost his young wife, my grandmother and her sister invited the widower and four daughters to Thanksgiving dinner. My grandparents had three children. Great Aunt Elizabeth and her husband had three daughters. I think about how uncertain life must have been in November 1941 for all of them, including Uncle Henry.

As the cousins married and the family expanded, they met in various farm homes. Although there was plenty of outdoor play space, I preferred to be underfoot in the kitchen. There I listened to the women chat as they prepared the noon dinner for forty-some family members. At least one cousin was a dairy farmer, so pie was served with plenty of fresh whipped cream. One year when I was a little girl, I skipped the pie and ate a plate of whipped cream. In the early days, my grandmother and her sister would often put their silver heads together laughing and talking in German when they didn't want the children to overhear their conversation.

Later the reunion moved to a community room and we took our children a time or two. At one of the last celebrations, a new daughter-in-law brought Cool Whip. No unkind looks or words were exchanged. However, Ellen, one of Dad's cousins with a big smile and bright eyes, went to her picnic basket, pulled out a hand-held mixer, searched for an electrical outlet, and whipped up real cream. The family gathered on Thanksgiving from 1941 until 2000. The sweetest moment occurred when all the voices, young and old, sang the Doxology. "Praise God from whom all blessings flow" rang throughout the farmhouse or across a big room. I am grateful for the memory of the Thimm family Thanksgivings.

Tomorrow at my sister and brother-in-law's table, the group will include their children and significant others as well as good friends. Out of respect for those of the Jewish faith, we won't sing the Doxology and I will miss those who are not there. Still, as we gather my sister, niece, and I will be shoulder to shoulder in the kitchen. We will celebrate Thanksgiving and our many blessings, including real whipped cream on mocha pecan or pumpkin pie. Personally, I am also adding a dollop to my decaf coffee.

Although I am joining Kat and the Unravelers this Wednesday, knitting feels like an afterthought. I finished all the mitts, including a wee pair for Norah. She needs a hat that doesn't fall down over her face and I need a project for the drive to Omaha tomorrow so I cast on a hat. I have almost finished knitting her Christmas stocking. Friday I plan to take a walk and spend the afternoon pulling out the waste yarn to knit heels. Then after gentle steam blocking, I will weave in a boatload of ends, seam, and line the piece. Meanwhile I have some other yarn waiting on the coffee table for the next project. I've been looking at it and thinking of shawls.

May your Thanksgiving be rich with kindness, dear ones, and your favorite dessert. I am off to stir up dinner rolls. Happy Thanksgiving Eve. 


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Wool Sock Weather

Last week we drove to Fort Worth to visit the Texas crew. While we were gone, wool sock weather arrived on the prairie. On a brisk Wednesday afternoon, we drove south through Kansas. Hawks, hunting and staking out territory, perched on fence posts, trees, or utility poles about every thirty miles. Near a rest area, bittersweet bloomed and I peeped into a tiny nest. All afternoon, the sky and light changed. Snow and rain clouds gathered in the west. By early dusk, the sky was the most beautiful gradient of grays and blue-gray lavenders layered with a hint of mauve. The colors would be perfect for a shawl. We stopped overnight in Wichita and left early the next morning in order to dodge snow and DFW rush hour traffic.

We had a nice visit with our son and his family. Thursday evening we cheered Austin at his last freshman football game. We spent the first half in the stands and the second half standing under an entry to the bleachers, sheltered from a downpour. Bundled in layers and our red Nebraska ponchos, we stood out like sore thumbs but kept reasonably dry. We ventured out when his team had the ball. My daughter-in-law and I worked a jigsaw puzzle over two days. Saturday we watched the Nebraska football game and played an impossible Sherlock Holmes game. We laughed at the complex riddles and then threw out the rules to brainstorm solutions as a group. Cooperation versus competition is not a bad thing. That evening we ate dinner at a small family owned Italian restaurant where every sauce and dish is made from scratch. Pops threw the football with Austin and I walked around the neighborhood with him. He is quite the grown up young man. Chatting with him is a joy.

A one-way ten hour drive plus more time for potty stops meant plenty of knitting time. I finished the pair of socks I began on the flight to Connecticut. This free pattern with the little mock cable is great travel knitting. I also knit two pair of fingerless mitts and began the third for the three younger grandsons. Those boys thought fingerless mitts would be just the ticket for outdoor play. Little Norah will get a pair of thumbless mittens to cover all of her fingers.

Last week, I finished reading A Warrior of the People. The story of the first Native American woman physician, Susan La Fleche and her family is remarkable. She was equally at home in Connecticut parlors and at Omaha powwows. I love her story but wish it had been written differently. The author had access to La Fleche's many journals and letters but included only a few quotes from them. I wanted to know more of her, hear her voice, and read prose that was more than a list of her many accomplishments. The book is readable though. Last night I finished Pachinko. Discrimination experienced by immigrants bears reading and continued thought. The challenges and expectations of women in the story would make a good book group discussion. Although the novel was entertaining and the characters well developed, I wasn't wowed by it.

I will link with Kat and the Unravelers. I missed them last week.

Now it is November. May your feet be warm and your Thanksgiving preparations filled with joy, gratitude, and loved ones. Welcome wool sock weather.