Tag Archives: holidays

Save me January

It’s been a winter f*cking wonderland out there.

Winter-yard

I knew it was coming eventually, but I was feeling a little smug since it hadn’t happened here until a couple of weeks ago.

It’s not that I hate snow per se, it’s the immobility it causes.  Or like a bad pet, it’s not the beast itself at fault, but the owner.

Shovel your goddamn sidewalks!

I’m not doing well with the lack of light this year (I’m not sure I ever do, but this year feels like the worst ever) and I’m overjoyed with the arrival and passing of the winter solstice.

I’m not a fan of Christmas* either.

I’m just not into the religion, commercialism, consumerism, greedy children, gifts, worship of fat beardos (Santas, not you my bear friends), waste of materials and electricity, varieties of anxieties, bad music,  the pushing of the season to before Thanksgiving, and the food-sharing, traveling, and gathering of masses of breathing, snotting, vomiting bodies during the peak contagion period. But perhaps mostly because it is the deepest, darkest, dreariest time of year – and that is the reason people celebrate and I know worse winter weather is yet to come, but for me, the new year is what I’m excited for, and feel intense relief when it comes.  It signifies that the holidays are f*cking over, each day brings a few more seconds of light, and the anxieties and societal ho-ho-ho throat-cramming go away.

Winter-1970s

I sort of liked winter as a child.  However, I hated it as a very small child because of the tortures of plastic bread bags on my feet inside my boots and socks on my hands over my mittens.  I looked forward to Christmas, though my excitement was tempered with dread that it would all be over too soon, and a feeling of watching something beloved die.  In hindsight, my favorite day of the holiday season was St. Nick’s on December 6th when we woke to a few little presents in a sock – a tangerine, a couple of walnuts, a candy cane, and a little trinket like a flavored lip gloss or novelty eraser.  I loved the simplicity and the lack of anxiety surrounding the day and some connectedness with the past.  Didn’t the Little House on the Prairie girl savor only a nibble or two a day of her sole simple cookie gift?  Or one of those characters in one of those books…  Children can bizarrely identify with, and intensely feel, the grand sufferings of others – Anne Frank, dirt-farmer kids, sooty-city orphans – without ever having a moment of true sufferings themselves.  Or maybe it was just me and a f*cked-up upbringing in an old religion where suffering and self-martyrdom was supposed to be a good thing.  Either way, I still crave and appreciate the most simple aspects of the holiday – not much fuss and some citrus fruit.

candied citrus

And speaking of citrus and to break my no-cooking-in-the-blog-rule, I’ll share my candied peels.  They’re tasty but take a long time to make – mostly because of multiple blanchings to temper the bitterness and then the hour+ cooking time in simmering sugar water.  We needed some for a recipe but can’t find them in our suburban groceries – and if I did find them, I’m sure they’d be dyed and full of pesticides.  I used organic pink grapefruit, orange, and lemon, and cane sugar – and then dipped some in dark chocolate and rolled some in pecans for good measure.  (Yeah, the sugar coating is kinda clumpy, but whatever.)

And I am solidly anti-craft for the season.  I don’t want to make something only usable for a few weeks out of the year.  And I don’t really believe in exchanging gifts (especially to every known person) beyond a few edibles or drinkables.  However, over my lifespan I’ve made exactly one ornament, one stocking, and this tree skirt.

xmas skirt under tree

N has a soft spot for the holidays, and will occasionally erect a tree.  His tree needed a skirt and I didn’t have any appropriate fabric, nor wanted to waste a good yard or so on something that would be rarely used, so I cut up some felted/fulled sweater scraps.   I think my original plan was something like a penny rug, but the cutting took long enough, so I just tied it all together.

xmas skirt

I don’t know where it is now – probably in still in storage five hours away (and we no longer have lovely wood floors).

But things will be better soon, we’ll have the tiniest amount of more light day by day.  And we’ll eventually get out for some winter woods activities.

*Our Christmases are a pleasant low-key affair limited to time spent with just a few family members, good food, dogs, a cool kid, and walks, so I’m quite thankful and look forward to them.  It’s the larger sense of the season (and some past holiday events) I abhor.  My second favorite Christmases were the years I spent alone with Chinese take-out in a quiet apartment with the neighbors away – sounds bleak, but it was awesome and always the most productive few days of the year for me.

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Not so gawful now, or perhaps just a little less so…

Gawful in NYC

This is my first winter wearing this scarf made from recycled sweater yarn especially selected to match my red coat.  (Stupidly, I also wore it in NYC when all the kids dress like slutty, sexy, and sloppy Santa and go bar-hopping – I fear I may have been mistaken for one of them at a distance).

Gawful sweaterBut all Santas aside, last year I found this moth-eaten semi-fulled [felted] cropped turtleneck sweater at a thrift store.  I thought it was god-awful, or “gawful.”*  I like bright colors, wool, and three big cheers for gay pride rainbows, but I thought this was just something that few should wear – it might just be best for a child.  Since it was already ruined by holes and aggressive washings (and had the magic unzippy seams) I happily frogged the bitch.

Gawful balls

Nice balls, eh?  It then dawned on me that half of the colors** matched a Harris Tweed coat I scored months earlier.

Gawful balls and coat

I don’t wear much red – I prefer orange, and I think red generally washes me out.  I have nothing against it per se, I just don’t choose it, and don’t have anything to wear with it – green would look way too x-masy, yellow would make it mustard and ketchup, and my rusty murky colored things don’t work.  I have a grey scarf languishing on the needles, and another dark cowl that would look decent enough with the coat, but I decided it needed an equally loud accessory.  I wanted a sideways constructed scarf or cowl so I could have long skinny rows and few, if any tails to weave in.  I was also itching to do a large project in linen stitch – I found Cerus Scarf by Hilary Smith Callis in ravelry, and though it’s not so much a pattern as just cast-on-this-many-stitches-and-then-do-this-stitch, I linked to it for the sake of conformity, much like the drunk Santas do every year.

Gawful detail

Thankfully I didn’t wear any green so as not to be confused with the drunken masses attending the St. Pat’s day parade in the city yesterday.  I would have worn this cacophony of reds in opposition and protest of toxic colored alcoholic beverages*** and the assholes who spew them on the streets and trains, but alas the weather was a bit wicked and I lurked about in my muds and rusts.

*I didn’t realize this was already a used term, see here.

**This was another project that surprised me in terms of color and color dominance.  I only did one row of the pale yellow and it absolutely screams out and takes the pink along with it, bleaching it down.  And where is the orange?  Though I did an extra row of orange, you almost don’t even see it.  If I had more yarn, I’d like to try a version without the yellow and pink and see if that gives it more of a murky glow.  And I’m still on the fence about removing the kinky fringe and stitching it into a cowl… I usually opt out of fringe, and I’m not sure why I don’t sorta like it, but I think it’s because if it’s too close to your face on a windy day it goes into your mouth?  Or maybe it is something from childhood.   I don’t have a specific plan for the harvested blues and greens yarn yet, but the smaller balls make them excellent for sideways designs…

***Nothing wrong with a good alcoholic beverage, just those that involve dye, or a culture of mass sloppy public drunkenness.

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