Monday, December 22, 2008

The Return of the Light

Yesterday was Winter Solstice. And today I had meant to write something on the inspirational side about how the dark of the past days will be lessening, how we can look forward to increasing hours of illumination and that rebirth is just around the corner. But at this moment, the idea hasn’t quite processed yet.

We have had below freezing temperatures for over a week now. The first day of cold that I particularly remember is December 13th, the day that I forgot to go to our monthly spinners’ gathering. That was a good thing, in retrospect. As it turned out we had quite a wind storm that day. If I remember correctly, 25 mph winds, with 40 mph gusts, and low 20’s for temperature. So wind chill factor. . . reallly cold. That day, the flashing on the roof of the old barn became partiallly ripped off and flapped violently in the gusts. The animals (rams, goats & alpacas) were startled & agitated, and I feared that the flashing could become detached, fly off & injure somebody. We had the old barn moved last year, and perhaps not quite enough screws were replaced. Whatever the reason, there was nobody to deal with it but me. I was very fortunate in that the one friend that I was able to locate, that had also missed the meeting, had recently put a metal roof on her studio. She knew what kind of screws to use to penetrate the metal & go into the wood, and she was steady & strong on the ladder. Between the two of us (she did most of the work), we got the flashing reattached, and I am happy to say it is still in place.

Since that day, we have not had temperatures above freezing. We have been down to single digits, with and without wind & snowfalls. The chicken and pigeon water freezes & needs changed about three times a day, as does the water for the rams, alpacas & goats. That means hauling water from the house. The ewes are in the new barn, which has running water (which is actually running) but the hoses are all frozen. So again, it’s hauling water, but not as far. The snow on the ground is drifted. In places it’s 5” deep, where in other places, well, I just know that it’s well above my knees. It takes time and energy to slog through all this, getting food & water out as needed.

Considering everything, we really could be much worse off. I keep thinking that as I still grumble, and I feel like a complete wimp. This is Bellingham. We have weather like this some years, but it’s not supposed to last *this long*. And I know that to our foremothers who grew up in Minnesota & dealt with freezing, biting cold for *months* on end, this would have been nothing. This would have been downright balmy.

So here I sit, in a blue funk. I fill the water, drag bales of hay through the snow to the animals in the old barn, and fill the water again. The really rewarding part is the welcome with which I am greeted when I bring food & water. It is reassuring, and downright warming to spend time with my beasties, feel their breath & smell the lanolin of their fleece, and to know that they are all well-fed and at peace. I am rewarded with nuzzles & sniffs, and snatches at my hat.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Contest

Doug & I recently went to Seattle for his annual Ob/Gyn meeting. While Doug dutifully attends his meetings, it’s been a long tradition for me to shop for Christmas gifts in the beautifully decorated downtown stores, and to visit my two favorite yarn stores in Seattle - the Weaving Works in University District, and Acorn Street Yarn Shop just north of University Village. That’s been my tradition, or at least an attempt at tradition. In recent years I haven’t had the best of luck on this particular weekend. In the last three years, there was the year of the raging sinus infection, the year of the Beetle getting stuck in the bowels of the W Hotel, and last year, the emergency hospitalization of Mother in Mt. Vernon. What would happen this year? Nothing. Perfectly enjoyable.

In the morning I wandered to the Pike Place Market, where I searched kitchen shops for a sheep cookie cutter & electric krumkake iron. I met my son for lunch, shopped some more, and in the evening, we joined friends for dinner & afterward went to The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition. This is an annual fund-raiser for the Pike Place Market Senior Center. It is held at the Westlake Center Park. There were thirty+ choruses that sang on different street corners. The winning group was from Phinney Ridge neighborhood - a truly gifted & enthusiastic group. And best of all, about $60,000 was raised for the Senior Center.

I made my pilgrimage to the two yarn stores on Saturday morning & had a wonderful time there. Mmmm. Alpaca & wool. Mmmmm.

On the Knitting Front

The **** that I’m knitting for **** is finished, except for some blocking & finishing. I’m very pleased with the yarn I chose. I can tell you that it’s Knitpicks bulky superwash. I had a hard time finding bulky superwash elsewhere, and this was very nice to use. Color is bleeding a bit, though. Yellow blood. Strange, considering that the **** is ******.

Other knitting right now is felted mittens. I have had an uncontrollable urge to knit felted mittens. It just may be related to the fact that we haven’t had temperatures above freezing for several days now. We have 3” - 15” of snow on the ground, depending on where you measure. So I’m staying home knitting mittens.