Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The concert season begins...

A quick post because I'm swimming in undone stuff. Or stuff yet to be done. Or stuff yet to be completed.

The last few weeks have brought some interesting things. For one, many, many concerts. One thing about having a musician for a child, you go to lots of concerts. In the last week, I've attended three concerts, just the beginning of the holiday concert season. The first, was the University of MN choirs performing St. Nicholas by Benjamin Britton. Since Britton is one of my favorite choral composers, I was looking forward to this one. The Manchild also sang, as a small group from the MN Boychoir. It was partly staged, sorta, and I was not disappointed. The tenor who played St. Nicholas was incredible, which was amazing since he was a last minute replacement from New York. The original (local) tenor was sick and they called in this guy literally about 30 hours before he had to perform it. According to the Manchild, he was much better than the original guy. It must be particularly depressing, not only to miss singing a part you've spent a lot of time preparing for, but to have your replacement be better than you after rehearsing with the rest of the singers only once. The whole thing was very good and I was happy to see it, especially since it's one of Britten's less performed pieces. Of course, the boychoir performed perfectly!

The second concert was the Manchild's school band concert. He is a percussionist and a very good one. The concert consisted of the 8th grade orchestra, choir, and two different bands. I love the boy more than anything, but as a concert experience, it ranked right up there with a trip to the dentist. I got a lot of knitting done.

The third concert of the week was the highlight and was the MN Orchestra's performance of "Hansel & Gretel." The MN Boychoir provides the "gingerbread boys." This concert was really amazing. It's a "light" opera, performed with the Heart of the Beast puppet theatre, a local company. The two sopranos who play Hansel & Gretel are actual sisters, so they are natural siblings and very funny. The whole thing really is magical. This is the second year they've performed it and it just gets better every time I see it. For those of you who live close enough, don't miss it if they do it again next year. Bring the kids (it's billed as a family concert and really does entertain the kids). And, of course, the gingerbread boys steal the show.

This weekend begins the first of the MN Boychoir's winter concerts. If you're around, come see one. They really are amazing concerts and they're even free! (Ok, they do take an offering.)

In other news, I started my career as a human guinea pig this week. I volunteered for a local research trial related to my diabetes and I'm taking two additional meds, one of which has to be injected twice a day (not insulin). That's taking some getting used to. I haven't had to do any injections since I was pregnant with the Manchild (when the whole diabetes thing first reared its ugly head). Toward the end of the pregnancy I was up to four injections a day, so it's not like I'm completely new to this. But still, as the Manchild so helpfully pointed out, I'm probably "nuts."

On the knitting front I'm happy to report that I did get the bedsocks for the neighbor finished and delivered. They might have been too big. It's darn hard making socks for other people. Even with foot measurements. Still, I guess too big is better than too small. The yarn has some acrylic in it so I'm guessing it won't shrink much. I also finished several little things in time to get them to church for a craft fair that was benfitting the "Blue House," a project that provides housing and support for fifteen girls orphaned by AIDS.

I cast on last night to start a pair of Fiesta Mittens. I've been reading Krafty 1'sblog and she was raving about these mittens. When I went to Borealis to pick up the pattern, they had a sample made up and they really are cool mittens! If I like the way they turn out, I might use this pattern to make up the Knit Mitt Kit Swap that's due to go out in January.

My spoilee for SP9 got her box and liked what I sent her. Since I forgot to take a picture before I sent it out, you can see it on her blog, here. Find December 8.

Next big thing on the "to do" list is to get all the various packages that have to be shipped gathered together and wrapped. Since most of our family lives elsewhere, this can be a significant chore. Deep breath...go!

Monday, December 04, 2006

I'm Still Here

No, I haven't dropped from the face of the earth. The last several weeks have been nuts. Between Thanksgiving, various concerts, trying to get many knitting projects done, trying to get various swap partners shopped for and, oh yeah, work, there hasn't been much time for anything else. I will attempt to catch everyone up on the past several weeks, so be prepared for a long post.

Thanksgiving was great! On Thursday, we went to church and then had Thanksgiving potluck with several families there. It was very, very warm (in the upper 70's) so our post Thanksgiving dinner walk was much longer than usual. Wow, it was a beautiful day. Very weird to be in t-shirts in November, but beautiful. Friday, we celebrated our family Thanksgiving with good friends who are also the Manchild's godfathers. Reading other people's blogs I'm a bit envious of all the folks trying out gourmet recipies for "pecan crusted" this and "slivered, blanched" that. In my family, Thanksgiving is all about Tradition. There is a set menu, and it never changes. Turkey (always my partner's responsibility -- see previous post), stuffing (with nothing "weird" in it), cranberry/orange relish jello mold, sweet potato casserole with mini marshmallows melted on top, corn, rolls and pumpkin pie with Real Whipped Cream. And sometimes green bean casserole. It's like dinner was prepared in 1965 and simply teleported forward every year. But it's yummy anyway. Of course, the Manchild doesn't eat hardly any of it. Rolls and a little turkey. And whipped cream with a little pie. That's about it. Sigh. But we had a great couple of days stuffing ourselves silly.

Friday's celebration was held despite the fact that the Spouse was up at a 2:30 a.m. in order to go stand in line at Best Buy in an attempt to purchase a computer for the Manchild. She's like that, I am Not. By God, she got it too.

Now to the knitting: My Secret Pal 9 sent another box! Wow, she really outdid herself this time! As she said, this box has a "spinning" theme. Here's a pic of the goodies...

She included a book off my wish list, "Color in Spinning," which I've been coveting forever, some handpainted merino roving, several ounces of an alpaca, merino, silk blend (I think, I don't have the label in front of me) roving, some tea, a scented tealight candle, a couple of cute buttons a couple of sample packets of Crabtree & Evelyn's Gardener's hand therapy lotion (great stuff!) and a packet of hand-made cards with water buffalos on the front. (I collect water buffalos -- yes, it is an odd thing to collect.) Thanks, SP9 pal, you did a fantastic job!

Speaking of swaps, I am just about finished with box number 2 for my SP9 pal. I need to get back to the yarn store before I can send it out! So far it includes a really cute sock blocker keychain, complete with a pattern to make a teeny sock, a copy of the "Yarn Requirements for Knitters" folder, some Dove chocolates, the Christmas Gnome, some handmade Lavender soap, a cute little angel pin and some yarn (yet to be purchased). Here's the gnome:

I'm not 100% happy with the way the gnome turned out, but I reworked him until he's presentable. And he is still pretty cute, as long as you don't look too closely at the seams. He's about 10". The pattern is an Alan Dart pattern, a British designer who does a lot of toys and animals. It was very hard to find, but I fell in love with it and finally found it on ebay.

I've started on the Knit Mitt Kit Swap bag. I'm not that great with a sewing machine, but decided that a fabric bag made more sense than a knit one, so I'm giving it a shot.

Here's the Chrismas stocking I finished for my grand-nephew. It still needs to be blocked and personalized with his name, but it's essentially done. It looks very Minnesotan, don't you think? This is the pattern with the odd heel design. Having tried putting in the heel last, I think I'll stick with a more traditional heel process for future versions.

Here's Murray, admiring the Christmas stocking, or maybe just wondering what the heck I'm doing...

I'm still working on a few things for Christmas. I'm making another gnome, this time for the Manchild who was quite Put Out when I told him the first one was for my secret pal. A pair of bedsocks for my neighbor (suffering from second sock syndrome, but Must. Get. It. Done.).