Christmas Crochet (and Knit)

This pregnancy has seen me off my feet more than I’m accustomed to, even for a pregnancy. My mind accepted the necessity, my hands would not. I picked up my hooks and needles so I wouldn’t pick up dishes or the vacuum (the kids can take care of those anyway), and I crocheted the bulk of my Christmas presents this year.

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Potholders for many! I started calling it “Hotpad-maggedon” and declared I wasn’t making more for at least a decade. This is hands down my favorite potholder pattern. I’ve been using it for years and haven’t burned myself once through them. Plus they’re so pretty. ๐Ÿ˜€

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Christmas angels. I made two to take to a Christmas party/ ornament exchange. Pokado came with me and so I gave her one to stiffen. Painting thread with diluted glue is every kid’s dream, apparently? The pattern was a learning curve. The littler one in the first picture was the first go at it, several mistakes were made. The second one came out better, but I decided I actually preferred the smaller head. When the Dearliest heard I’d given away both angels he showed obvious disappointment, so I made a third one with a gold halo (his preference) and gave it to him for Christmas.

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Along with a knit wool hat (2nd picture more true to color)! I’m a slow knitter and I much prefer crochet, but there are some things that just benefit from needles. It ended up being a tad short for him, so I did something I’d never done before and added an extension. Turned out all right, I daresay, and he loves it.

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Bookmarks for the kiddos. Geckos for the boys (except Indy who doesn’t quite need one yet, although that didn’t stop him from promptly naming them Oscar and Oasis, for those familiar with the cartoon), flowers for the girls. The Gecko pattern has been in my queue ever since my friend Patch shared hers. I think the concept is hilarious!

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A bonus pic of me playing yarn chicken with a birthday scarf. I won! But only just. (No pattern for the interested, just repeating rows of half double crochet through the back loop only to desired width. Foundation chain 65″ long.)

I also started a baby blanket in there somewhere, but no pictures yet.

Putting the pedal to the metal.

But not in the vehicle sense.

Yesterday afternoon I left the bedroom with Indy a little frustrated. He needed a nap but fought it for 2 hours, at which point I called it quits because sometimes it’s better to surrender a battle and plan to win the war and all that jazz. The house was quiet and empty except for Squeaky, who immediately pointed out my piano.

“Dad’s fixing it!” She informed me.

LK was Indy’s age when a mishap felled the bench into the pedals, snapping the middle one clean off and disconnecting the interior workings. Back then the Dearliest hadn’t yet learned the art of welding and we lived on the rural mountainside to boot, so the thought of repairs really never entered my mind.

Apparently it’s been on the Dearliest’s though, for years. Two moves, 5+ years of welding experience, and other events later, he decided to surprise me. He and the kids vacuumed out an ungodly amount of dust, sand and glitter left over from the Great Snowglobe Disaster, realigned and reconnected the left pedal (which has never worked for as long as I can remember), and repaired the middle one.

The pedal is cast bronze but the base metal is cast iron, which I learned is a difficult substance to weld. A recently acquired brazing torch proved more effective, and he was able to braze the pieces together.

(An aside: I knew the term but not the difference between brazing and welding. Here’s a basic explanation for anyone interested in the technical element.)

Reconnecting the pedals with helpers.

As for me, I heartily enjoyed sitting down at the end of it all and running through a few chords and musical doodles. Hearing the new effects at my fingers and feet, I was reminded that no matter my frustrations or battles lost or moments of utter failure, there’s always hope of joy, of victory, of restoration.

“Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” (Psalm 97:11, KJV)

Missed Connection

In the late part of spring I dusted off our dehydrator with hopes and plans of drying basil and other things. It didn’t turn on. It’s not a complicated machine (having just one on/ off switch), but for someone with not much inclination towards mechanical anything, it might as well have been a rocket. I did what any person in my situation would have done: I sighed and told the Dearliest.

It went on his “to look at later” list. “It may be fixable,” he said. “Growing up we fixed ours 3 or 4 times.” Later eventually arrived, and what the Dearliest discovered surprised everyone.

When the switch is turned on a small metal part (3/8″ to be exact) moves, completing an electrical connection to the motor and powering it. At some point while the machine was off, a tiny bug–we’re talking fruit fly size here–crawled on the end of the part. Then someone flipped the switch, squishing the bug at the contact point, and it was enough to disrupt power.

The machine wouldn’t work because a bug got in the way of the current.

The Dearliest wiped off the insect, put the dehydrator back together, and turned it on. I listened to the hum, marveling at the simplicity of the problem and also grateful the Dearliest was there to solve it. Left to me, I’d have pitched it and invested in a new one, not even thinking about ways to fix it. Thanks to the Dearliest and his greater know-how, I’m looking at several more years of use from the dehydrator.

Tiny bug, small part.

An aside, I updated the Word on the Virus post with a new video.

Overnight Pancakes or Waffles

Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Classic Sourdough Pancakes or Waffles.

Combine in a large bowl:

  • 2 cups soft white/ pastry flour
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup yogurt or kefir
  • 1 cup wild yeast starter or sourdough starter discard

Let sit overnight or 8-12 hours.

Pre-heat griddle or waffle iron. Add to bowl:

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Combine well. Ladle batter onto griddle or waffle iron. Cook pancakes 2-3 minutes per side, cook waffles to desired darkness. Serve with your favorite toppings!

Canoe

Sharing from a friend’s blog. Been a while since a poem moved me quite like this.

Thank you to all who have served our country!

Gladsome Lights

One book in my collection of poetry is the anthology Poems that Make Grown Men Cry, edited by father-son team Anthony and Ben Holden. Clive James contributed this poem by Keith Douglas to the book, and in his introductory comments tells us that it dates from early in the poetโ€™s career, before he went off to war and became famous for his war poetry. Keith Douglas was killed in action during the invasion of Normandy.

James is moved by this work that is to him โ€œall grace,โ€ but feels that the supremely gracious moment is at the end, where, โ€œโ€ฆI can hardly breathe for grief. The grief is personal, of course. My father went away in the war; he, too, was fated never to return, and my mother continued her voyage alone.โ€

CANOE

Well, I am thinking this may be my last
summer, but cannot lose even a part

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Strings for Kisses, Keys for Hugs

At the time I met the Dearliest, I worked at a small printing shop. A fairly tight-knit group of people ran it, and more than one of my co-workers took serious interest in “the guy in Oregon.” I didn’t overtly notice guys. I didn’t go out with guys. The fact that I was talking about one raised eyebrows.

Shortly after I knew I wanted to marry the Dearliest but before we became engaged, one co-worker asked what instrument he played. “He doesn’t,” I said. “He likes classical music, but he doesn’t play.”

A young Princess Saucepot gets her keys on.

The co-worker gave me a sideways warning glance and said something along the lines of, “That’s not going to end well. Playing music is so important to you, and if he can’t share that with you…I mean that’s a huge part of your life!”

I will not bore you with the back and forth I regularly had with this co-worker. We did not agree on much of life, but that didn’t stop him from trying to get more involved in mine. The point here is he said that about music, and my first thought was, “But there are so many other things–more important things–that the Dearliest and I do share, it doesn’t bother me at all that he doesn’t play an instrument. It never even crossed my mind to be bothered by it.”

I forget what I said out loud, but the co-worker didn’t like it. I expected that. He got over it. We kept working.

Indy bangs out a march.

I married the Dearliest. I kept playing music, but maybe a little less than before. The Dearliest loved to listen (and still does!). Then the children came, and with each one I played even less, but that was okay with me. I traded violin strings for goodnight kisses, piano keys for little bear hugs. I’d given up the orchestra before getting married, but now I had a family with music of its own. (Sometimes it sounded like a continual warm up session with a smashing together of screeching notes, trills, and the occasional scream, but that’s life.)

Twelve years later, I have three children who are becoming musicians themselves (and three others who want to be), and I find myself playing more too. I play duets with them, I compose little songs for them, and sometimes I play in the evenings after dinner. The kids have their favorites for dancing to, or picking up the room, or getting dressed for bed. It’s not complicated or professional, but it’s joyful and fills the heart in a way performing for strangers never did. The Dearliest watches, listens, and loves it all.

Honestly? I wouldn’t wish it any other way.

Throwback to the orchestra days, circa 2005.