And how, my dears, are you?
Are you perhaps thinking, as I do, that it might be nice if we spread the winter holidays out just a shade more? Frontloading all the Big Stuff into forty days is an appalling strain on the nerves, not to mention the finances.
It also leaves one staring forlornly across the frozen tundra without the comforting beacon of even one really good all-inclusive reason to get down and boogie. Valentine’s Day is for couples. St Patrick’s Day is for the Irish. Easter is too damned early in the morning.
And when I speak of the frozen tundra, remember that I live in Chicago, where global warming is something that only happens to other people. Come March, when we could really use it, the holiday glow has long since fizzled to a heap of dead ashes. So we huddle indoors, eating and drinking too much–kinda like Christmas, except that without decorations and presents and Very Special Episodes of “Gossip Girl” it’s mostly just depressing.
I haven’t felt my toes since late November. And according to the
At a time like this, knitting ceases to be a fiber art. It becomes a martial art. Me and my yarn versus frostbite and cabin fever. And if Old Man Winter throws down with me, he’s going to get a US 7 right in the
He'd better steer clear of my posse, too. Especially this one.
"You know what would be great in these?
A slug of bourbon."
In case you don't recognize her, that is my Exceptional Niece Abigail,™ just a shade over two-and-half years old and already a dab hand at mixing our family's traditional butter cookies.
I arrived at Abigail's house in a gray mood, disinclined to rock around the Christmas tree. She was such a tonic to my nerves that a few days later, when Santa landed on the hearth rug, I forgot to kick him in the
One highlight of my stay was a guided tour of her stuffed animal collection. What began in 2007 with a cow and a bunny is now the largest private zoo in the Western hemisphere. It rivals, both in numbers and biodiversity, the population of the Serengeti Plain.
But the animals are as nothing when compared to the babies. Abigail has in her care enough infants to make Mrs. Duggar pay a call on Planned Parenthood. They're quite literally everywhere. On the couch, the windowsill, the stairs. Under the kitchen table. In the bathroom. They drip from the eaves. They clog the gutters.
"Let's play Count the Handknits."
To keep track of so many, Abigail has had to eschew traditional names like Wilma and Cherise in favor of more starkly descriptive labels like Naked Baby. This is Naked Baby.
"Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form."
Naked Baby arrived wearing clothes, but they were removed within minutes and haven't been seen since. Her only concession to modesty is this burping cloth sarong, which I think makes her look like a mendicant Buddhist nun.
This is Hair Baby, so called in recognition of her crop of brushable, tuggable hair.
"Mama says I'm the pretty one."
I also met, but neglected to photograph:
- Purple Baby, whose sewn-on purple pajamas saved her from being christened Naked Baby II.
- Pink Baby. As Purple Baby, but in pink.
- Band-Aid Baby, who has an oval logo on her knee that looks like a Band-Aid. (Abigail is fond of Band-Aids and often applies them decoratively, like temporary tattoos.)
- New Baby. No longer, strictly speaking, new; but retains the title out of courtesy.
- Mexico Baby, who short-circuited after falling down the stairs and now speaks only Spanish.
- Pajama Baby, who came in a car seat. We expected she would be christened Car Seat Baby, but Abigail likes to throw a curve ball now and then.
Christmas knitting was very subdued this year. No great plans, no big surprises.
Last year, I knit my first pair of mittens as a gift for Abigail. Through the entire Maine winter they kept her hands warm and dry, and they wore like iron; but by first snow this year, she'd outgrown them. So I presented a new pair.
These are improvised along Norwegian lines, by way of Elizabeth Zimmermann in Knitting Around. The orange blossoms are out of left field. I think Dolores slipped something into my Virgin Egg Nog.
Not fancy, but she seemed taken with them and they've already seen action.
"I call them Romulus and Remus."
There was also a sweater, of course. Here's a peek, while I await the full photographs of her in it. If it looks familiar, it's because you've seen it here once before.
"Get off my front porch before I call the cops."
I made some small tweaks to Abby's version, because apparently I can't even knit my own patterns as written.
I've been thinking about and working on socks, too; but more about that after I've polished off the last box of chocolate. (If you eat Christmas candy after Epiphany, the calories count.)
*I know. The weather lady is just doing her job. But I hate the way she smiles when she says, “Stay inside or die.”
** Thanks again, Canada.