Another Hobby Blog

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Holiday In Review 2005

In August we knew we’d most likely be visiting Madison, Wisconsin for part of the holidays. We tossed around the idea of visiting other family in other locations at about the same time, but weren’t really sure how it would all work out. It’s okay, though--there is plenty of time to decide.

In October we traveled a bit. Not a problem. It was still well in advance of the holiday season, and there was plenty of time remaining to do all that needed to be done before the end of the year. Sure, we might want to visit family in December, but there’s still plenty of time to book flights…

November was all about enjoying just being at home again (except for the weekend we spent at a B&B because we’d forgotten to celebrate our anniversary in October.) It was a time for unpacking from travel, catching up on laundry and household chores, voting, baking, and touching base with friends. It was a time for matching up schedules and for making plans. By Thanksgiving we’d taken care of flight, hotel room, and rental car reservations for December. We knew who would be watching our house and taking care of our dog.

November was also the time to realize what we’d signed ourselves up for. When the first Arctic-driven winds howled through Seattle, downing tree branches and power lines, I realized how vast the likelihood that Madison WI would be colder. Suddenly feeling desperately unprepared for surviving a Midwestern winter, I dug frantically through the dusty old boxes in every nook, corner, and crevice in my home, unearthing the ancient cold-weather gear from the good-old-days when I used to go downhill skiing.

As I inventoried and washed each tattered, outgrown, miserable piece, a sinking feeling started to creep up on me. Even allowing for the few things that could be mended and the other things which might still fit with the help of a shoe-horn and some axle grease, we were woefully bereft of some of the important layers. Sure, thanks to my recent knitting obsession I had wool socks in abundance, wool hats and scarves to match (for very loose definitions of “match” …even “co-ordinate” would be stretching it in most cases. In fact, when you get right down to it, any two randomly chosen knitted accessories are frighteningly likely to clash in a most momentous way.) but silk long johns were in short supply, as were sweaters, gloves, mittens, winter coats, and waterproof shoes tall enough to keep snow out. Like it or not, I was going to have to set foot in a department store during the Holiday Season. (shudder!)

Somehow, I survived. I’m thinking it might have had something to do with the way I turned tail and ran for home before I found even half the things on my list. I got a good pair of leather gloves, and some alpaca knee-highs. (I should be embarrassed to admit I told my husband if he needed anything more, he could shop for it himself. Bless his heart, he did.) I looked for mittens (which I was assured were an absolute necessity, the wind-chill making it much too cold for gloves of any sort) and can you believe, I could not find a single pair! Not one. (..well, okay, I admit there was one. A pink pair with a picture of Hello Kitty on it, but I don’t think it would have fit over my thumb since I found it in the infant’s and toddler’s section.)

For Thanksgiving, we had a fabulous turkey dinner. We had it on Friday. On Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, we had turkey sandwiches. Starting on Tuesday, we had turkey soup. After that, we had turkey enchiladas. There may have been some turkey omelettes for breakfast along the way as well, now that I think about it…

The arctic winds didn’t stay for long. One thing that I really like about the weather in Seattle is its tendency to be what I like to call “interactive.” In practical terms what this means is that one day when I walk the dog I may need to bundle up in all the warm layers I can find and still freeze my nose off, and the next day it’s warm enough to be sweatshirt weather again. It’s possible I may have been lulled into a false sense of complacency by the return of warmth.

On November 26, in Madison, Wisconsin, Bethieee’s sister went shopping for winter coats for us at the Lands End Outlet Day After Thanksgiving Annual Sale. She is a much much braver soul than I! Cause for celebration: suitably warm coats will meet us at the airport when we arrive.

On December 2, I realized that if I didn’t start working on the hat for my father, it wouldn’t be ready by Christmas as promised. While I was out that day, I bought the yarn.

December 3 through 9 I cleaned house, did mountains of laundry, and researched hypothermia.

On December 10, I realized that if I wanted mittens for Wisconsin, I was going to have to knit them myself. I bought the yarn for three pairs. Cascade 220.

On December 11, I could not find the pile of cold-weather-gear I had so carefully pulled out, washed, and mended. I started looking. In the process, I unearthed several intended Christmas gifts that were supposed to come with us but that I hadn’t seen since July.

On December 12, I realized I still had to take packages to the post office before we traveled. I finish knitting the first pair of mittens.

On December 13, I realized I had library books that needed to be renewed before we left! I felt and block the first pair of mittens. Bethieee claims them.

On December 14, I found the stack of cold-weather gear and breathed a sigh of relief.

On December 15, I started packing. It is important to realize that my preference is to be fully packed two weeks before I travel. This gives me time to reconsider whether I have over- or under-packed, to locate specialty items and make sure they are clean, to pack things as I think of them, and to be confident that I haven’t forgotten anything important.

I started with the most important things: the knitting projects I wanted to work on. I had skeins of yarn to ball-wind, needles to locate, cutting implements to remove from my travel bag! I considered bringing the Mystery Stole to work on and then realized how aptly it had been named: its location is currently a mystery. I gathered up the yarn for three pair of mittens, a half-finished scarf, and my father’s hat. I brought needles in sizes 2, 4, 5, 6, and 10-1/2 in both dp and circular. I remembered my tapestry needle.

Next, I packed cold-weather-gear for Madison, WI, and lightweight silk t-shirts for Los Angeles, CA. I figured I could wear the silk shirts as under-layers for warmth when we got to Madison. I packed every pair of wool socks I own, my wristies, my leather gloves, my favorite scarf, a knit hat for cold winds and a wide-brimmed hat for rain. I packed my slippers for the hotel room, my swimsuit in case there was a pool at the hotel, and the blank notebook I already know I won’t get around to writing in.

I pull three packages of chewing gum out of the freezer and toss them into my carry-on with my knitting. A couple of years ago the manufacturers started putting aspartame into all the Wrigley’s chewing gums, and since I’m allergic to it, I bought up quite a large volume of the old formula Juicy Fruit before it all disappeared from the shelves. It stays pretty fresh in the freezer, and now I have it on-hand whenever I travel and don’t have to search for something at the airport gift shop. Alternate aspartame-free options include: Beemans, Bazooka Bubble Gum, and Fruit Stripe, but finding them at the airport is nearly impossible. Instead, I get them ahead of time at local candy stores. (Hubba-Bubba is aspartame-free, it’s true, but it’s much too sugary and makes my teeth hurt.)

I don’t get much sleep, but by the end of the night my bags are ready to travel. I may be carrying more than I need, but I don’t * think * I’ve forgotten anything.

On December 16, we travel. The city we leave is 55 degrees, cloudy, wet, and gets dark at 4pm. The city we arrive in (Los Angeles,CA) is 75 degrees and sunny at 6:30pm.

I’m not certain what stray thread of logic led us to travel to ice-cold Madison, WI by way of a 5-day layover in summery Los Angeles, but by December 17, the potential repercussions are beginning to dawn on me. Not only will we be visiting a locale which is averaging 20 to 30 degrees colder than our own, we will be first acclimating ourselves to a temperature 30 to 40 degrees warmer than the one we are accustomed to! I realize I am going to freeze, and I redouble my efforts on the mittens.

December 17: visit yarn store. Wildfiber. I’ve been looking forward to this for months! They have a very decent selection of Koigu, and our local yarn store has been backordered for more than a year. Irony of ironies, though, three days before we left Seattle, the Koigu arrived. They had abundant and beautiful colors. Even better, the yarns had arrived just in time for a 15% off all yarns sale! …now I’m standing in front of the Koigu display at Wildfiber feeling very strangely displaced. Nonetheless, I manage to find at least one skein to bring home.
Also visit family. Keith’s mom and Chris. Knit on mittens.

December 18: teach Chris the basics of knitting. First: choose a needle between size 4 and size 10. Don’t be talked into a size 12 needle! Sure, it looks like the large needle will make the knitting go faster, but if you’re not comfortable using the needles, you won’t do much knitting! I’ve met very few people who are truly comfortable with size 12 and larger needles.
Meet up with my mom and dad for dinner. Fabulous restaurant: Aunt Kizzie’s Back Porch. Excellent jambalaya and lemonade. Knit on mittens. Second pair ready for felting.

December 19: Disneyland 7am to 7pm. Net gain: Space Mountain (x3), Indiana Jones (x1), Pirates of the Carribean (x1), 2 mittens, 4 mitten cuffs, 1 ribbed hat, and 2/3 of a scarf.

December 20: visit my mom at her new house. She’s making quite a bit of progress on the remodel. Strange to see everything so decorated for the holiday since she never started doing that until after I’d left home. Give dad his hat. Forget to take pictures.

Felt mittens. Attach ribbed cuffs. Finished just in time.

December 21: travel. Leave 78 degree sunny Los Angeles. Arrive 28 degree Madison, WI. We’ve happened to come during a warming trend. They say it may get up to freezing tonight. Tight connection in Chicago. We make the flight. Our bags don’t. Bye-bye skates…

December 22: Bags arrive 6:30am. Skates are safe. Continental breakfast not worth waking up for (although the do-it-yourself waffle iron is nifty). Visit yarn store with Bethieee’s mom and sister. Lakeside Fibers. Wish I’d remembered to bring my camera. The view of the lake was very very different than it had been last August. Couldn’t tell where snow stopped and iced-over lake began. Could barely tell the horizon from the sky. Bethieee’s sister, Kat, gave each of us (Bethieee and me) a gift certificate for yarn. Now THAT is a thoughtful gift! Bought yarn. Is it strange to be working on a punchcard for a yarn store 2/3 of the way across the country?

December 23: Weather still warming. High is 46 today and sunny. Ice and snow are melting. We go skating. A lake is a very different experience from an indoor rink. I’m really grateful for the experience. Also very grateful we did not fall through the ice. Maybe I’m paranoid.

December 24: Christmas Eve service at Bethieee’s sister’s church. Bethieee’s sister, mom, and dad, and bethieee’s sister’s husband are all in the choir. Better said that with everyone on Christmas vacation travel, they are nearly half of the choir! Beautiful voices.
Finished K’s scarf. Weave the ends in just in time. Planning to give as gift tomorrow morning.

December 25: Christmas day with Bethieee’s family. Dinner was exquisite. Really yummy. I've completed all the projects I brought from home. I start knitting fingerless mittens for my mom from some yarn I found at Lakeside. I’m falling absolutely in love with it though. I hope I can get a pair out of one skein because then there will be enough yarn to make two pair and I can have some too.

December 26: repack. Post offices are not open. One more family dinner.

December 27: travel. Leave Madison 34 and foggy.

Thirty minutes after our flight leaves the tarmac, the Ornamental giftieee box arrives at Bethieee’s sister’s home. Ah, timing.

Arrive Seattle 55 with light rain. Temperature inside the house: 65. Within minutes of returning home, I’m freezing.

On the counter we find a package of fresh-made brownies!! Thank you!!! What an exquisite welcome-home gift!!!

December 28: Christmas dinner in Seattle with Keithr’s mom (up from Los Angeles), and keithr's brother and brother’s wife (who live locally, about 45 minutes from us.)

December 29: unpack. Start laundry process. Vacuum house (didn’t get it finished before we left.) Spend time cuddling dog. Pick up held mail. Packages!! Gift from Laura! Thank you!! I love it!!!

December 30: More packages arrive. Shop for groceries.

December 31: try to convince dog to come out from under computer desk. Fireworks will not get him.


  • At Sun Jan 01, 09:46:00 PM PST, Blogger the stripey tiger said…

    Wow what an itinerary Tahlia!!! Hey has your ornament found you yet?? I'm so sorry it wasnt there for chrissy!! :-) Happy New Year, Stripey (mine hasnt arrived here yet either so I guess thats karma for not being organised!)


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