Thursday, March 13, 2014

 It's been a long, long winter...
And we got another taste yesterday, with great heaps of snow, strong winds, and cold temperatures lasting through today, but spring is coming, and it will be here very soon. Until then, we have melting snow, mud, and potholes to work around. I have to admit, and please don't hate me for it, but I have loved every minute of this cold and snowy winter, and I'll truly be sorry to see it pass. We've seen every type of snow, from powder to heavy, wet, snowball-snow, and we've seen some extremely cold days, but it has been quite sunny and nice, mostly, and I do love a good, cold, snowy, sunny winter!

I have been given some treasures from my childhood. The house in which I grew up is being sold, and my father has cleaned out all of the last remaining reminders of my youth. Here are two very silly little mementos that I will cherish.
My mother was a normal, hardworking farm wife and mom, but she loved to throw a party. In days past, before the advent of disposable paper party-ware in every imaginable color and style, one used dishes like these. Every woman I knew had a set or two or three, and my mom was no exception.  If it was a really large party, all of Mom's friends would bring their party dishes to share, and sorting them out after the party was part of the fun of using them. 
Mom had several sets, and we knew there was going to be a PARTY! when the party dishes came out. I have eaten countless sandwiches, slices of cake, scoops of sherbet, cups of fruit from these plates, and sipped many, many servings of punch from these cups. There was usually a little paper cup of mints and mixed nuts, decorated to match the theme of the party, and perched to the side of whatever treat was served on your plate.
One of my fondest memories is of sitting carefully on a folding chair with my party plate and cup balanced on my lap, trying not to spill my treats on my party dress...I was so happy when Dad gave me Mom's party dishes! Some day, perhaps, I will pass them on to my grandchildren, but we might have to have a little party or two, first.

This little oddity is another very fond memory from my childhood. This is a popcorn-ball mold. It appears to be made from Bake-Lite and is in pretty good shape, considering all the popcorn balls we made with it! Mom would pop huge quantities of fresh popcorn, and then she'd cook butter and sugar in a saucepan until it made a thick, caramel syrup. She'd pour the syrup over the popcorn, and we'd dig in with buttered hands or, if we were lucky enough, the popcorn-ball mold, and shape the sticky treat into lovely, delicious balls. They were a favorite treat for school Hallowe'en parties.

It is odd to know that my childhood home will no longer belong to my family. My parents and three siblings lived in a garage and a camping trailer through the summer of 1955, while they tore down the old, ramshackle farmhouse in which they'd lived since my sister was born and built a new home for their little family.  When the 'new' house was completed, my grandmother came to visit one day, and said to my mother, "Now remember, Beverly, you must be very houses sometimes bring new babies!" and in 1956, that new house brought me! That house held laughter and tears, celebrations and grief, but most of all, it held a family.
It will now hold a family, once again. The young woman who will live in the house with her new husband grew up a mile to the west of us. We watched her grow up and raise many flocks of sheep. She was one of 'my' kids when I ran our elementary-school library. My mother knew her and her parents, and loved them, and I know that Mom would be happy to see them settling into 'her' home. They are doing major renovations on the house to bring it into a more modern state. Dad has promised to take me down to tour it as the construction progresses, and I'm eager to see it. 
I am so happy that another family will live in that house, that it will once again hold laughter and tears, celebrations and grief, and I am very, very happy indeed to know that once again there will be sheep on 'my' farm! It's been thirty years since baby lambs ran and jumped in the barnyard, and I can hardly wait to see them there again.

And yes, of course there has been knitting! This pair is on its way to my friend, Dale, in Texas. The yarn is a blend of sheep's wool and buffalo down, the soft undercoat of the American bison. Dale's wife, Suzi asked me to knit them for him, and provided the lovely yarn. She also very generously included enough yarn in a gorgeous blue to knit a pair for myself! 

 Last fall, I donated a coupon for a pair of hand-knit socks to my public library's annual fundraiser raffle. The winner is a giant of a man, 6'8" tall, with size 14 or 15 feet! These socks are the result of a test of a pattern that was designed by a Swedish woman, who is a member of the international Internet group Ravelry .
These are the finished socks shown with one of my 'normal' sized socks for comparison:

 and here is a picture of the winner, modeling his new socks.

A pretty pair for me

This pair was knit using leftover yarns from other projects in my favorite combination of yellow and blue. The color arrangement was completely random, but when I posted a picture of the finished socks at Ravelry, several people mentioned the 'landscape' that I'd knitted. Do you see it? The yellow is a beach, with the blue-and-white section the waves meeting the shore. Behind that is the ocean, with a blue and cloudy sky above it.  Pretty cool, and entirely by accident. 

And my most recent pair, finished at around 4:30 this morning (got insomnia much?), for the first round of Sock Madness 8. It's my third year in the competition. The first year, I was eliminated in the first round. The second year, I made it almost through the third round, being eliminated just moments before I finished my socks. We'll see how far I make it this year!

This is ice cream...I made it using sugar, cream, vanilla and fresh snow! It was delicious.

And a winter picture:

Be well. Be strong. Be happy.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Christmas, and the first big snow for 2014

It's all about the grandkids!
Some fingerless mitts for my co-workers. There's another pair done, too, but I haven't taken a picture of those yet.

And winter at Sunnybrook


In other news, my passport expires this year and will need to be renewed. I've been thinking, on my drives to and from work, about the last ten years. 

Ten years ago:
I had never even had a passport.
I'd never flown across the Atlantic Ocean. I've done that four times since then.
I'd never been to Europe. I've been twice now.
I was a few pounds thinner, a lot less gray-haired, and MUCH less arthritic.
I could still run up and down stairs.
I did not yet have my first daughter-in-law. Now I'm on my second one.
I had no grandchildren. Now I have four.
My sister and several other people who are very dear to me were still alive.
I had yet to meet four of those dear friends who have since died.
I was still living in the house where I thought I would spend the rest of my days on earth.
I had never visited Alabama, New York (state AND city), Mississippi, or Arkansas. I have now.
I was still doing library work. I miss library work very, very much, although I enjoy the job I'm now doing.
I had JUST learned how to knit socks. Now I have knit countless pair, taught people how to knit socks, and designed and had published several patterns for socks.
Oh, and I have knit socks while riding down the highway on the back of a Honda Goldwing.
I quit smoking after more than three decades.
There has been one breakup of a couple who are my friends in the past ten years, but not one single divorce between any friends.
Police have come to my house to arrest someone, and I have been to a jail to bail someone out. Those were new experiences.
I have hiked a mountain gorge in the Alps in icy February.
I have experienced Fasching in Germany. I got a little drunk (also a first for me!).

In the last ten years, I've seen the following wonderful things:
My newborn grandson's beautiful face.
The not-so-newborn faces of my beautiful step-grandchildren!
The city of London, England.
The city of Paris, France.
The Bavarian Alps.
The Roman Gate at Trier.
Munich, Germany, and the Winter Olympics Stadium there.

I have laughed, wondered, mourned, comforted, loved. It's been a pretty good run. 
Maybe I'll do another ten...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Holidays to One and All!
It has been a quiet Christmas here at SunnyBrook. Christmas Eve was spent with dear friends, and Christmas Day was at home in pajamas until evening, then a visit to my dad's to see him and my brother from Canada. The grandchildren called on the phone to tell me what Santa had brought them...they were very excited! They'll be here for presents on Sunday. 
Jeanie's New Socks
There is fresh snow this morning and it has been very cold and dark, some days. I still love winter, nonetheless! It was so frigid one morning last week that the air sparkled with ice crystals. The sun shone brightly that morning and it looked as though I was being showered with diamond dust.

There has, of course, been knitting, although nothing terribly exciting. A pair of socks for my cousin:

An advent mystery knit-along. The pattern was for a scarf, but I made a few 'small' modifications, and mine will be stopped short, lined, and turned into a project bag, I think:

Sock Madness Forever Advent Scarf KAL
I love the bees! They were one of my modifications.

My Christmas Shimmer Walk Tree
My store is resplendent for Christmas:

Rudolph, the red-nosed PT Cruiser
Even my car is dressed for the season, as am I:

Becky, in scarf and FrigNhat

I received a lovely gift from one of my online knitting friends:

It is a tin, decorated like Dutch Delftware, and three delicious packages of Stroopwafels, all the way from the Netherlands! These are cookies made from two thin, crispy waffles and filled with caramel. You place one over the top of your hot cup of coffee or tea, and the caramel warms and softens...Yummy!
There is much talk of these treats in one of my online knitting groups, and I have been wanting to taste them. :o)

There is a blog that I love to read, written by a woman in the far northern reaches of Europe. Lene writes with grace, beauty, and deep love for nature and the ways of the world. She is endlessly creative. I never leave her blog without feeling warmed, calmed, centered. Visit Dances With Wool, and find a little peace for yourself.

There has been another friend lost. George Hudson, known from our motorcycle forum as "1lonereb" died unexpectedly in his sleep a week or so before Christmas. He was one of 'my' chatters, a dear, funny, eloquent man, passionately in love with his wife, their little granddaughter, and motorcycling. His wife phoned me to share the sad news. He was far too young and will be deeply missed.

Merry Christmas, a little late, and a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2014 to you all.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Because they're too beautiful to share a post with anything else:

Judy's Beanpole Socks

My Dutch-heel conversion

Inside out and right side out

I knit these for my co-worker, Judy, who has made the transition from the old store to the new one so very easy for me!  
Judy loves the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and so these socks are in her favorite colors of Irish Kelly green and navy blue. They were a real challenge to knit. The pattern is the same one I used for an earlier pair of socks, but much more difficult this time because the contrast is stronger with these two colors and so every mistake shows right up.  I have carefully photographed them to avoid showing the worst errors!
In the original pattern, designed by "Hypercycloid" for one of my Ravelry groups, the band of patterning that runs down the center front and back of the socks was interrupted for the heel shaping.  I did a little bit of re-designing, replacing the original pattern's heel turn with a Dutch heel so that the band could continue uninterrupted.
I also changed the way the toes were worked.  The pinstripes and center band were supposed to extend all the way to the ends of the toes, but my brain was just worn out from all the patterning, and I couldn't make it work as written. Instead, I just used alternating rings of color to finish them.
I delivered the socks to Judy Friday evening, in time for her to wear to the Notre Dame game on Saturday...I hope they kept her feet warm in the frigid weather we had that day!

Today was my fifty-seventh birthday. I spent it quietly at home. I had a visit from the kids and grandkids, did some knitting, watched football and napped. It's good to be another year older. :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Small Happinesses...
Some days contain small moments of happiness. Here are a few of mine:

Four grandkids in constant motion

Six beautiful kittens presented by Pearl. Three are already gone to new homes. I still have three little gray cuties, if you're interested...
One glorious sunset:

Two pairs of socks finished, and one more begun:
Socks for Captain Bob, my own design

Dutch Affair Socks, pattern by Dutch designer Erry Pieters-Korteweg, yarn by Rhichard Devries in "Torrid Affair"

Socks for co-worker Judy, in her favorite Fighting Irish colors of navy and Kelly green
And then, there are these oddities that come to visit in damp weather:
 They are huge, maybe as tall as eight or nine inches, and I'm pretty sure they're toxic....

I have nothing profound to say today. It's cool and drizzly outside, and I will not spend my day off mowing for the last time this year, as I'd planned. Snow is forecast for Wednesday. I think that I shall knit.
Christmas is coming, and I have projects to plan.

Monday, September 23, 2013

William at Chattamoochie
Another passing
We have lost a very fine man. Mr. William McGee, of Tuscumbia, Alabama, husband, father, grandfather, friend, soldier and patriot, successful businessman, motorcyclist, citizen of the world at large, was taken from us two weeks ago by cancer. I knew William from the motorcycle forum and chat room that I frequent. He came into chat at first as the friend and riding companion of one of the regular chatters, and stayed to become very dear to those of us who were lucky enough to know him.
JP, me, William... "patpatpat"
Mr. William, or just Wm as we came to call him, was a true original. He was a prankster who loved to pull tricks on all of us, and who loved it even more when we managed to pull one on him though it was rare, indeed, to get one past him. 
He loved riding motorcycles, especially the Honda Valkyrie. He kept two of these beautiful bikes to ride, and considered any day that he was able to get out and travel a few miles on one of the Valks to be a perfect day.

At the Harrison, Arkansas, gathering

William's Valkyries
 He loved his friends, and was intensely loyal to those he cared for.  He adored Ms. Nina, his high-school sweetheart, wife, mother of his children.  We are all most fortunate to have known him, and to have been loved by him.  We will miss him deeply.  
Mr. William waiting for the Bull Shoals Ferry
JP, William, Wormy (top) on the ferry

Very full bellies after lunch at JoJo's Restaurant in Arkansas
Gail, William, Becky, Snoop, Rita, Frig, Larry, Joyce, Michael, Rickey and Denise, Banana Boy Jerry and Kathey, Dick Pointer, Steve and Sheila, Russ in back row
Rich, Boyd, JP in front row

JP and William
So long, William. I'll see you later, sir.

Not much in the line of finished knitting to show.  Just these:

But they are quite lovely!
Be well. Be strong. Be happy.