I'm back from the photo expedition to Yarnover and had a splendid time. It was a chance to reconnect with my buddy Tim from St. Paul, who extended his hospitality and hoisted my bags; to meet the wonderful people from The Yarnery and a whole lotta terrific knitters; and to add a further 73 people to the 1,000 Knitters Project–sneak previews to come.
However, as Dolores and Harry decided they wanted to come along, you know that's not the whole story.
Those of you who tune in regularly will be not at all surprised to know that shortly after I landed in the Twin Cities on Friday, I got a frantic telephone call from Harry. He was jabbering a mile a minute and sounded oddly muffled, as though he were calling from inside a suitcase.
Which, in fact, he was.
"Slow down and speak up," I said. "I can't help you if I can't hear you. Now, what did you say?"
"It's terrible," he whimpered. "I was really having fun because I went to the café car to get a soda pop and I met this guy from Fargo and he said do you like Scrabble and I said sure and he said me and my sister brought our Travel Scrabble so why don't you come play with us and I said okay I have to go tell my friend first but when I got back to our seats Dolores was up in the luggage rack and three conductors were trying to pull her down again and she was screaming and yelling bad words and then she bit the one guy's hand–"
"She bit a conductor?"
"Yeah I guess while I was gone she started handing out campaign flyers and the man got all mad and said you can't do that in here lady and she got mad back at him and threw her purse and it hit this other lady in the head and knocked her glasses off and people started running around and I climbed in here to get out of the way and now I can't even find my soda pop and it's dark and I'm scared. What do I do?"
I sometimes wonder if Harry thinks I possess a little book entitled How to Handle Any Emergency that includes entries like "Train Travel: Trapped in Suitcase Due to Sheep/Conductor Fracas."
Before I could offer any advice, I heard a zip and a scream and Harry was gone. There followed a tense hour while I waited for news. Amtrak customer service, helpful as ever, hung up when I called to say I'd received word from a ball of sock yarn about a fight taking place on the Empire Builder between three conductors and the sheep who lives in my apartment.
Finally, my phone chimed: CALL FROM VANHOOFEN, D.
"If this is your one call," I said, "you've dialed the wrong number."
"Oh thank you, thank you so very much for your support," she grumbled.
"Where are you?"
"We're not sure. Somewhere in Minnesota. It's snowy and I see cows."
"It sounds awfully quiet. Is the train delayed?"
"We're not on the train."
"You're not? Well, what's the name of the station?"
"We're not at a station."
"We're in a field next to the tracks somewhere or other. They slowed down and pitched us off the back of the caboose. If any of my hats are crushed, I'm going to sue."
I heard Harry scream.
"Harry!" shouted Dolores. "Just shut up! That cow is more afraid of you than you are of her! Smile and make friends!"
Harry screamed again. Louder.
"Whoa," said Dolores. "Gotta go."
There's more to tell, but duty calls. The rest of the report to follow soon.