Winter Solstice

The shortest day of the year. When I looked out the window yesterday afternoon at 4:45 p.m. it was completely dark. I don’t like wishing my life away but I do look forward to January and the days getting longer.

I haven’t much to show knitting- or sewing-wise as mostly everything I’m working on is meant for gifting. One of my siblings is going to be a father this spring, so I’ve gone a bit crazy with baby knitting. Although I learned to knit as a child, I didn’t get back into it until my son was well into elementary school, so I missed out on knitting for my own baby. It is very exciting because this will be my first niece or nephew from my side of the family. (No word if baby is a girl or a boy. My feeling is boy. The Burrell family is male-dominated.)

The expectant mom is a knitter and wants me to show her some tricks. She calls herself a “basic” knitter, which is how I think of myself. I’m not very clever, just good at following directions and patient when things go wrong … and they do, all the time. Take for example one of the huge baby projects I’m working on… Only this morning I realized I had one fewer stitch I needed in a critical row, which means tinking back three long rows of lace to fix a missing yarnover. It annoyed me so that I put aside the project aside; I’ll return to it when I’ve cooled off and can face the task without any emotion. As I told my sister-in-law several weeks ago, I think the sign of knitting competence is not in the fancy stuff you can do, but in being able to look at your work, see where it’s gone south, and know exactly what you’ll have to do to get it back on the path. Getting back to that point is often a boatload of work (to mix metaphors), so extra points there. 🙂

And Christmas is almost here! It feels like it snuck up on me this year. We elected not to put up a tree. I would have done it if O insisted upon it, but he’s never been that affected by holiday spirit, so we’re going to put a few bulbs on our potted Norfolk pine and call it a day. Our cat Winston is a climber. Last year he knocked our tree over so many times it was more of a hassle than it was worth. Live and learn!

We spent Thanksgiving in Florida this year. My mother-in-law’s extended family built an amazing outdoor pavilion on their property so they had a family reunion of sorts. It was an interesting experience eating Thanksgiving dinner outdoors in 70 degree weather! On top of that, the food was definitely “southern style,” which interested me greatly as a food writer. For example, there were no vegetables that were cooked on their own. In other parts of the country, I think it would be common to have side dishes of plain green beans, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and/or winter squashes, but with this Southern-style Thanksgiving, the vegetables were cooked into casseroles with a lot of added ingredients. Again, it was interesting to experience a different regional style of celebration. 🙂

OK, so the photo above. That happened Sunday afternoon, right after my husband and I returned from grocery shopping. I had just settled down with a cup of tea at the dining room table when I heard a loud crack. I looked out the window, saw pine boughs falling to the pavement, heard more cracks, and then I jumped up and ran to the other side of the house because I could tell the tree was coming down. What a noise! It ripped out the power lines, caused some significant damage to our neighbor’s home, and shut down the street for hours. We are very lucky no one was hurt, and we had power back by 9:30 p.m. (Actually earlier for us … my husband had the foresight several years ago to buy a backup generator after we lost power for a week at our old house.) This has been the third or fourth tree to come down sort of close to where I’m sitting. Yikes! Think someone’s trying to tell me something?

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