It's the Holidaze

I have a problem with anything that requires general jollity, so the holidays can be hard. I'm no Scrooge, but I don't always have the holiday spirit. I can maybe sustain a fortnight of holiday cheer, and it's a low-grade cheer at that. Well, it's started to kick in.

I kicked off my holiday season with a tea thrown by my pal Sam. She and her husband Ben really went all out in the pastry department, and there was a sneaky white sangria. I was careful not to let it sneak up on me, as I am still a bit tentative about driving the Beetle in the snow. Also, only assholes drive drunk. I digress... It was a marvelous party, with many knitters and interesting non-knitters, very good conversation, and an excellent book exchange. Sam wore a pink Malabrigo Wicked sweater that made me want to run home and knit the one that I stashed in Dream in Color. She always has the best knitwear, like the multicolor February Lady Sweater in Lorna's Laces Edgewater that she wore in her engagement photos. She also wore a white satin skirt and kicky red striped stockings, which gave an overall "I sing in The Decemberists" vibe. Mental note: must make striped knee high socks in two shades of purple Jitterbug. I wore my Matsuri cardigan, which I am wearing like crazy. It was admired by knitters and non-knitters, and declared surprisingly soft for Noro. I consider it a hit.

The next day, I managed to talk my way out of a Holiday concert. That is too much for me. Also, I've become a music snob since I started attending the opera. A concert and party in one weekend seemed like too much. It's important to pace yourself around the holidays, as it is quite tempting to try to squeeze in too many events.

Tuesday, I went over to my Grandmother's and set up her tree. She always had live trees for as long as I could remember, until one dropped all of its needles in her house a couple of years ago. We then spent a couple of hours decorating the tree with a mind-boggling number of ornaments. The tree was saturated with sparkly, glass goodies. Well, I thought it was saturated, but there was even more on the tree when I went over there this afternoon! Grandma somehow managed to weave garland through all of the decorations and added hanging icicles. It really looks magnificent now, but I am still amazed at the sheer number of things on the tree. There's a lifetime of Christmases on it.

Yesterday, I had an almost perfect day. It didn't have the most auspicious start (an alarm clock, instead of sleeping until I wake). I had an appointment in Wrigleyville until two, then an opera at 7.30, but nothing to do in between. That's a lot of time to kill. Fortunately, I decided on a whim to invite Miss B. out for a drink. I'd begged out of going to a burlesque show with her on Monday, so I wanted to prove that I'm not a big flake. Well, we spent most of the afternoon at my (non) local pub, drinking and crafting. I knitted a sock while she embroidered a penis motif, which was an amusing contrast to the regular crowd, a bunch of Irish guys. Afterward, we headed downtown so that I could park in the cheap but precarious lot and we could hit a really chic bar in the West Loop for a review before I headed off to the Lyric. The cocktails were inspired, really high-end culinary drinks. They were off-menu creations featuring floral motifs. B had a rose cocktail, with a couple of dried rosebuds soaked in rose liqueur gaily bobbing around. Mine was a lavender gin cocktail. Sounds old lady-ish, I know, but it was the essence of the cocktail. It was sparkly and chic and made me feel sparkly and bright. Also, I love lavender (and gin, apparently, but not vermouth. ever.). They were served in lovely, old fashioned round stemmed cocktail glasses that made me think of Wodehouse and Dorothy Parker.

Fortunately, the bar was relatively close to the opera house, because they were ringing the ten minute bell when I arrived. I had looked forward to seeing Madama Butterfly since I bought the tickets last spring, and I wasn't disappointed. The woman who has the seat next to mine was clearly disappointed when I showed up and politely made her move from my seat. I suspect that she's sat there every time I donated my seat back. Her elbow never left my side during the first act, though it might have bothered me more had I not been wearing such a thick sweater. She disappeared during intermission, saying that she'd found another seat and I can't say that I missed her. The performance itself was so wonderful that the obnoxious neighbor was the merest annoyance. The set was a very intelligent design, featuring Pinkerton's house and its landscaping on a giant revolve in front of a drop. The set was so versatile that the turning of the revolve never seemed gimmicky. Of course, opera has the budgets to get all of the elements right. The soprano singing Butterfly was astonishing. When she sang my favorite aria, a chill ran down my spine completely unrelated to the temperature up in the balcony. I can only hope that I Pagliacci, Tristan und Isolde, and Abduction from the Seraglio can live up to it.

About the cheap, perilous garage-- I've joked that it would collapse for months because of the banged up look of the support beams in it. Well, apparently someone else noticed, maybe a structural engineer. When I parked there on Wednesday, about half of the spaces had been killed to make room for some heavy duty looking scaffolding that went from floor to ceiling. The especially flimsy looking column had been encased in wood. Why would I park my car someplace that looks like it might fall down? Well... I might not again for a while, until it looks a little more sound, but they have a special 5pm to midnight $5 special. A total steal compared to the $30 they charge across from the opera house, even if it requires a brief ride on the El.

On the knitting front, I've been taking a breather from the xmas knitting. This will undoubtedly lead to another exhaustion-inducing finishing marathon. Some of that will be literal last minute knitting, but there will probably be a couple hours of swearing like a sailor while quickly manipulating a tapestry needle. Yes, I realize that would be prevented by weaving in ends as I go, but I operate an assembly line of knits: one step at a time, until everything looks like a finished object. Fortunately, I have the steamer now, so my blocking will go a lot quicker. That may aid in further procrastination. I finished the hat for my cousin, the Sheep & Wool hat by Emily Spence, which turned out really well and very cushy. I don't know how a non-knitter will react to all the floats on the inside, but I pleased with it inside and out. I might even make another one for myself after xmas. Other than that, I still have to knit the sleeves onto my three Liesls. I'll have to settle in with a few DVDs and my dpns and get to work.

I've also picked up my Weekend sweater again, with the thought of making it this year's Christmas sweater. No, it won't have sequined candy canes on it, but it is green. I wore the Matsuri cardigan to decorate the tree (I don't know which was busier!), so maybe I'll let it rest on xmas. Fortunately, the Weekend cardigan is knit on size eleven needles and has all of the body parts done. Unfortunately, I thought that I'd already knit one of the sleeves during the show, but it turns out that I hadn't. I think that I can pull this off. If not, I will wear my Liesl, once it has its sleeves. I hear we're going to have a big snow/ice storm, so I may have a couple of good knitting days, with breaks for cocoa, Harry Potter reading, and Winston.


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