Monthly Archives: December 2013

I write stupid post titles. How about “Lovely December”?

We are too cool to care. Solstice. Whatevs.

We are too cool to care. Solstice. Whatevs.

Fooled you! Can we open a Solstice present now?!?!??!!?

Fooled you! Can we open a Solstice present now?!?!??!!?

Yes, they could open a Solstice present now. So. My kids get to open one present each on Solstice. Just part of me making up stuff and calling it family “tradition” as I go along.

Here’s another new tradition for us: winter band concerts. H plays trumpet now. It’s shiny and loud and he’s not too bad for having been at it only a few months. But H is a performance hater. I can relate to that feeling, but I can’t quite relate to the intensity of how he feels it. Boy howdy, does that boy *not* want any music to come out of him and be heard by other humans. At least not humans who are paying attention. So even though I can’t believe I’m doing this, and I totally don’t expect anyone to click this YouTube link, I have to say that this little clip actually means something to me because I think it means something to H. You can’t even see him at all — it’s just for the audio. And putting it here, I’ll be able to find it this spring when he has a spring concert and we can compare. Yup, I am using this public space as a filing cabinet.

I went to Brad’s work party. That is not so big a thing, a holiday work party. The big thing is that Brad danced with me and now I know how to make that happen. Tell him he should dance with me, listen to his excuses, then shrug and go dance anyway. His overactive guilt-and-duty gene then took over and that’s that. Well, alcohol always helps too.

Anyway, then Christmas came! As it always does, and it’s always lovely.

Here is Christmas Eve, waiting for the night to be over.


And here the wait is over. Finally.


Christmas went as Christmas usually does when you have a couple of excited kids and you’re generally just ridiculously lucky. Not much else to say about Christmas Day. Except Brad cooked some kind of beefy thing and I’ve not had it before and it was good. Coming on the heels of the fancy-pants paella from Christmas Eve and the itty-bitty (perfect size) turkey on the day after Christmas when his parents come to visit.

Which is when I happened to get this photo, which is gold for family files (again with the filing cabinet, I know.)

Y'all. This is a four generation photo. PLUS a cat. Future heirloom photos don't get better, you know. Well, except maybe with actual photography skills. I mean they don't get better when I'm the one taking the photo.

Y’all. This is a four generation photo. PLUS a cat. Future heirloom photos don’t get better, you know. Well, except maybe with actual photography skills. I mean they don’t get better when I’m the one taking the photo.

Then today Brad took the boys to a museum in Worcester. Sadly, it is closing its doors forever in a few days, so this was the last chance. I didn’t go, but here is the coolest picture they brought back.

6th c BCE Corinthian helmets

This photo requires more yakkety-yakking than a mere caption can hold. Those helmets are from Corinth, from about 550 BCE. Now, I’ve seen old things before. Lots. I’ve even visited Corinth. And I do generally like very old things (though when visiting museums with children, I’m not very able to look at things for more than a split second as I zoom past. Come to think of it, going to museums with Brad is also that way. I need a fun museum buddy.) Anyway, I do generally like to look at old stuff — cuneiform tablets, statuettes from Mohenjo-Daro (not that I’ve gotten to see those in person, I’ve just had Harappans on the brain lately), Aztec pyramids. I like bog men and torques. Ruined buildings so old and so ruined that you can only see outlines of foundations left. Oh. Well, I like all of it, more or less. though the weapons are almost always less interesting.  But those helmets! They’re like something out of one of those Hollywood epics I can’t help loving (Ben Hur! What a ridiculously principled hottie! The dancers in Cleopatra! Sexy as all get out, no consideration of principles required.)

What maybe gets me is that they’re used. My kids are standing, smiling, in front of these three helmets that people wore a really long time ago while they, presumably, killed other people. It’s creepy and fascinating.  Normally, I’m not really into glorifying war, which a weapons museum sort of does, but somehow I have a different feeling about them. Why the fascination?

Probably I’m falling into that trap Thoreau ridiculed, “When the thirty centuries begin to look down on it, mankind begin to look up at it.” Still, I was not terribly interested in, say, the weapons from ancient Pacific NW nations I saw in Ottawa a few years ago. Those artifacts were just as old. Why is this?

It occurs to me that Thoreau was probably not a fun museum buddy.



I’m a skeptic. I don’t know when I became a skeptic, but maybe I was born that way and had to grow into it. I’m thinking that skepticism may have a genetic link, like religious belief is, maybe. I do remember being a sucker for Santa Claus, though only dimly, and don’t recall when I stopped.H believed haphazardly until a friend of his told him the truth, and my belief is that he’s been on a secret, forbidden crusade to educate his little brother ever since. C started saying last year, speculatively, testing the waters, “I think you’re just putting presents under the tree. Not Santa.” Now, that’s true (sorry to break it to y’all), but I also label the presents clearly as being from me (or Brad), so it’s hardly a revelation. I remind C that Santa doesn’t leave presents under the tree at our house, but just in the stockings. Then he remembers that’s the case, says, “Ooooooooooooh,” and looks at my sideways for a while.

So my small skeptic is onto me, which is fine. I love a good skeptic. That being said, this is probably the only picture I’ll ever get of this nature:


And he only did it to humor me. Look at the fakey fake smile and the leeeeaning away.
Now, while I love a skeptic, I love a skeptic who humors me even more.

At the moment we’re all about advent calendars in our house, both the purchased Angry Birds K’Nex kind and the homemade activity-based kind (which is actually a Solstice Advent calendar — hence, only 21 pockets):

ImageWe’re about through it — only four more to go. And I could really do with a little more sun. Or a lot more, if the solar system is so inclined this year.

We also do a tree. This one is the top of one of our very sick looking Colorado Blue Spruces, which need to go. At least one of them has served a noble purpose (other than getting burned in a firepit, I mean, which is also their fate).


Decorating is serious. Morose, almost. At least that’s about where the tree-drama stopped this year. It’s always been sort of a volatile activity for my boys. I don’t know why. Much tantrum, in the past. This year, only a little resistance to using the damn ornament hangers.

Western Mass is in the grip of, um, lots of snow. Which I spent lots of time tonight blowing around with our very heavy, very old, very loud, and reasonably effective snowblower. Just trust me. You’ll have to, since I’ve not taken a picture of the lovely, white, cold blanket all around. It’s out there, being all bright and glistening.


A cozier way to indicate winter’s arrival. Ye gods, how I love to put on warm boots.



Detail from ‘The Midsummer Night’s Fairies’ by Robert Huskisson

A friend posted this on FB this week. I really really love this image and I’m so glad I saw it (thanks, Tim!) The tiny guys have clearly been fighting bravely, but ineffectively and are now in retreat. Except the one unlucky one who is getting a snail eye to the chest. I normally can’t help snickering when I see pictures of naked warriors (because why? why go to war naked? Artists! Just portray naked guys without all the war trappings! It’s okay, I promise.) But I guess if you’re going to fight a snail with drum major batons you may as well fight naked. There’s not a lot of pointiness in a baton or a snail to make you regret your nakedness decision.

Aside from the little naked warriors, I cannot stop thinking about snails now, and whether they’d be dangerous if I were the size of these guys. I know they can put away a lot of leaf in a night, so I started wondering what their mouths were like. The holes they leave in leaves are pretty chomp-y looking.

Shamelessly stolen from UC Museum of Paleontology (, which you should go look at it immediately.

And now we know. If Huskisson also knew what a snail mouth looks like, it puts a slightly different spin on the little men running away so desperately from it.


No teeth. Only raspy tongues, like tiny slimy toothless cats. Assuming that Huskisson did not know what a snail mouth looks like, I believe the little warriors are needlessly worried,  unless the snail is checking him out with its eyestalk to see if he is raspable.

I would now like to capture a snail and give it some leaves and see if it checks them out with its eyes before eating them. Also, I’d like to look at the edges of slug holes, because they always looked very crisp to me, like the edges of grasshopper bites, but they must not be, and I’d like to see that. Alas, such must wait until summer and figuring a way to lure some snails, because I haven’t seen a single one in New England yet.If I had some tiny naked warriors to use for bait, that might help.

And now for some snail knitting content.

Holidays come and holidays go.

And some holidays aren’t really my own traditional holidays, but I like them anyway.


Working on our sugar skull decoration with a few friends.



Respect the real sugar skull artisans, and just give us credit for trying.

Then comes the late autumn, when we have scenes like this.


And later autumn, still, when we have this.


Giant chicken, stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, etc. to be added shortly after.

And now we are getting to the good stuff.


I bought this barn star at a tag sale before we had even made a deal on the house, because barn stars are important, yo.

In other news, I got a job. It seems like a real job so far, even though I’m not 100% certain of the name of the company I’m working at. But I do know the name of the guy I’m working for, and he did pay me, and I am doing work, so I’m calling it real. Seemed pretty sketchy at first, but now it only seems very marginally sketchy. The hours are good. I’d still like to work here and hopefully will someday, but I like where I am right now and what I’m doing.

Ohhh, and we did get those family additions a few weeks back, courtesy of Craigslist and a guy next town over who was just sick of them. Here they are — five molting Rhode Island Red hens. I admit, one of the five is already toast — taken by an unknown predator. We still let them roam during the day, but not all day long. At least not when there’s no one home. The other four are eating and drinking and crankin’ out eggs and scratching the hell out of all bark-covered and bare dirt areas they can find. I haven’t the heart to keep them in all the time, even if they might get taken by, well, pretty much any wild animal that lives in New England comes across our lot. So they’re in danger, yup. But they really like to roam, so I let them. They are very grumpy in their coop. Be free, chickens! They come back to their little henhouse at night, and I close them up safe. And Emerson is having fun rushing at them and scattering herding them. He is actually helpful if I want to put them in during the day. Those hens got no respect for me and occasionally no interest in the yummy scratch I offer, but they worry about Emerson, and do what he says.