Saturday, December 29, 2007

Back from San Francisco

This isn't a travel blog, so I won't spend a ton of time talking about our visit to San Francisco. I do need to, just a little though since it was so fantastic. We met my brother and his family on Wednesday. We hadn't been to San Francisco, other than to drive through, for over ten years. When my brother was in law school, he and his wife lived in student housing for Hastings Law School, which is right on the edge of the Tenderloin District... in other words, in a pretty extremely scary area. A guy tried to mug Russ on one of our visits, and on another someone broke into our car and stole our travel crib. We had fun most of the time otherwise, but you can see that that could put a damper on our enthusiasm about visiting, once my brother and his family had moved from there.

This trip, we stayed at a Day's Inn across from the San Francisco Zoo. It was less than $100 o night, which is unheard of in S.F. We had considered visiting the zoo, but the "tiger incident" nixed that. We got there the morning after the attack, so it was BIG news, lots of hints from the media that those boys had been bating the tiger, definitely not smart if true. I'm not sure what I think. I guess the zoo should still have made the cages idiot proof, but I kind of have the same feeling I get if I hear someone has died in a high-speed car crash or while swimming in shark-infested waters. My daughter was unhappy that they had shot the tiger, but what were they supposed to have done?

The highlight of our visit was going to The Nutcracker Ballet at the War Memorial Opera House. It was incredible. At the end of act I, it looked they were actually dancing in falling snow, which even piled up like it was real. We had "nose-bleeder" seats, but still had a fantastic view.
Our motel was quite close to the Cliff House and Golden Gate Park, and yesterday morning Russ and I went in search of a good cup of coffee around that area. We thought that Louis' looked not only like a good place for coffee, but also for breakfast. We were right. This is a picture of my two kids and my daughter's friend, who went along with us. I am particularly happy about this picture because my daughter's friend has on a hat that she knit on the five-hour trip in the car.

I finished it up for her the night we arrived, but she knit most of it. Paige knit one too, but she managed to lose it already. I was so happy about the knitting because Paige has showed next to no interest in knitting or even having me knit her stuff. They were both so into it that we tried to stop at a knit shop on Divisidero on the way to Fishermen's Wharf. It was closed, but we found a fabric store, Britex that had yarn...and thousands of bolts of fabric. The girls bought yarn to knit legwarmers! Their prices weren't great. I bought Paige two skeins of Cascade Baby Alpaca wool for $15 a skein. I'm not even sure that she has enough, but it's worth it to see her enjoying knitting.

We're home for today, and then may head to Santa Barbara to spend the day with my brother and his family there. It's a little closer, only a couple of hours, so I'm ready to get back in the car again, I guess, especially if Paige and I can knit.

Monday, December 24, 2007

God Julaften

I don't have all of my "Christmas knitting" complete, but I rarely worry about that. All of my projects this year were for my sister and her kids, and she and I consider it Christmas until we've finished sending Christmas cards and Christmas presents, which sometimes doesn't happen until the middle of January!

Somehow, we're ready for Christmas Eve with our little family though...except not a cookie has been baked yet. We're planning to remedy that this morning. Russ is already preparing some sugar cookie dough. We saw a segment on Food Network last night about Eleni's Cookies, and he thinks that our kids should be able to create some works of art at least as good as hers. Mmmmm. We usually have a Danish meal on Christmas Eve. I went to our favorite butcher shop yesterday hoping to buy some Swedish sausage, which is my replacemnt for medisterpolse (Danish sausage). They didn't have any, but they had "country" sausage, which sounded pretty close.

On the 26th, we are heading for San Francisco to meet my brother and his family for a few days. They are flying in from Alabama, so we're very excited to see them. They lived there years ago, so we'll pretty much rely on them for the itinerary. The highlight of the visit is that we have ticket to see the Nutcracker Ballet on Thursday night.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Challenging Week

My knitting accomplishment for the week is mainly the result of a sad event. My 70 year old aunt died last week, and we drove two hours to go to her funeral on Monday. I worked on these "classic" socks from Nancy Bush's Folk Socks most of the way there. She was my mom's sister-in-law and was one of those people who was always so active. I almost had this feeling like: she doesn't have time to die; she's got too many things to take care of. She loved music and directed her church's choir forever. I will always remember the wonderful Christmas Eve services that she organized every year; Her husband and children did such a good job of choosing her favorite songs for the funeral, which, of course, was all the more emotional for so many of us who had those memories of her singing those songs and directing the choir to sing them. There was standing room only, which is a testament to how many lives she impacted. I have seen her only rarely since I've been an adult, but was always happy when I did. I'm mostly sad for my uncle and her children and grandchildren. It was totally unexpected, not really tragic but still very sad. As one of her kids said, "Mom would have had us playing games and giving away prizes at her service, but we're just not there yet."
Anyway, I didn't intend to go on and on about it; it's just something that has filled my thoughts this week. I've thought about my aunt a lot as I finished these socks, and I've been even more contemplative then usual. I know that my grandparents loved my aunt, their daughter-in-law, so I like to imagine ajoyous reunion up in heaven. There are a lot of things I question about the world and why things are as they are, but it's reassuring to me that I have no doubt where my aunt is right now.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Wonderful Winter Books

A couple of entries ago, I wrote about how I love old books so much, but I probably love children's book most of all. I used to read to my children every night long after they were reading other books on their own. When we started reading actual novels, when they were around five, I even kept a journal with both of them in which they would dictate to me what to write about their feelings about each book as we finished it. I usually would ask them what they had learned from the book. I remember that after we had finished reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's These Happy Golden Years, Paige said that she had learned that if a boy starts coming over to your house, it means he wants to marry you.

Each Christmas I would buy each of my children a "Christmas" book for St. Nicholas Day, December 6. As a result of that practice, I think I own every book that Jan Brett published up until a few years ago when I decided that teenager don't appreciate picture books so much (LOL) Of course, as most knitters know, Jan Brett used knitting motifs throughout her books. Two of my favorites are The Hat and The Mitten although I'm in love with all of them.

Yesterday, I was looking for an idea to give to a co-worker who is expecting in a couple of months. I was looking through some of my kids' old picture books, and I decided to buy my friend a Kim Lewis book. She is one of my very favorite author and illustrators. We have three of her books, but I found a different one to buy for my friend. It's called A Quilt for Baby. We have Emma's Lamb, Shepherd Boy, and First Snow. These books don't have any overt knitting in them, but they have sheep, snow, and cozy farmhouse scenes, which makes me just as happy.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas Bunny

I knit a Christmas bunny this weekend. I've mentioned least ten times, I'm sure, that I love Julie's little cotton rabbits. Someday I would like to buy one but it seems unlikely considering she has hundreds of people on her mailing list, so I've tried to knit my own little bunnies. I've never been completely happy with my past attempts. I do like Barbara Prime's patterns that she sells in her ETSY shop, This Chrismas bunny is my latest evolution of her Easter bunny pattern, and I love him and his little sweater. He wasn't cheap to knit exactly since I used a skein of Karabella Aurora 8 which is about nine dollars a skein. For his sweater I used some red Brown Sheep sock yarn and some ridiculously expensive cashmere that I bought a while back for no reason whatsoever.

Garnstudio and Drops Design is one of those great sites that I don't visit enough. They have so many free patterns that I always overwhelmed. I have a kind of wish list in my bookmarks of some their designs but I haven't knit any of them yet. Yesterday I was checking on Knit n Lit, and she had a great link to Garnstudio's advent gift to their users, an advent calendar. It's so cheerful I wish I could just take the month off and knit all of their patterns.