Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Angel

Four years ago (three years ago? No, I think it was four...) we had crazazy snow and ice storms the week preceding Christmas. By the time I was ready to head Northeast to my parents' house, the kindly snowplows that cleaned my apartment building's parking lot had carefully piled snow, topped with ice, topped with more snow, right behind everyone's cars. My Saturn SL could only dream of getting over that mountain.

We had a "digging out" party in the parking lot one afternoon, where at least a half dozen tenants were in the parking lot at the same time. I didn't have my own snow shovel, so I asked a number of people if they would let me borrow theirs when they were finished. In true Christmas spirit, no one would commit to shovel-lending, although one kind neighbor did drive me to Meijer, where a frantic search led to zero snow shovels and a very frustrated Brooke.

I had called my parents a couple of times to let them know about my plight, only to find that they were stranded in a different way... they'd been without power for about a day.* (Fortunately this was before digital phones, so their phone worked just fine even though they were without power.) They encouraged me to keep trying to get my car out of the parking lot, and I scoured my apartment looking for innovative snow removal equipment.

Found: one aluminum softball bat.

Picture this: Drunken Monkey outside, aluminum softball bat in hand, kneeling over the pile of snow and ice behind her car, beating valiantly at said pile and brushing tiny clumps of snow and ice to the side. Four years later (three years?), it's kind of funny to think about. Then, it was a desperate attempt to get the heck out of dodge.

So I'm beating and brushing, whacking and wiping, smacking and smoothing, and thinking just how ridiculous I must look, when an old beat-up sedan drove through the parking lot and parked near the dumpster. A middle-aged man with long hair tied back with a bandana and wearing a Harley Davidson jacket got out, along with a junior-high-ish-aged boy. He came over to me and asked me if I needed a push. I could have kissed him. With his help (and the slight indentation I had made in the snow/ice pile with my softball bat), the car made it over the hump and I drove it over to a section of parking lot that had been completely cleared. I quickly packed my stuff and boogied out of here as quickly as possible.

I've lived here ever since and have never seen that guy again. I call him my
Harley's Christmas Angel.


This year, however, brought a completely different kind of angel. I drove Northeast again this year to spend Christmas with Mom and Aunt Karyl Lynn. We had a few great and lazy days, with all sorts of good food and silly puppies and two seasons of
Psych on DVD. However, the night before Christmas I noticed that something was missing from the nativity scene in front of Mom's tree. Where was the angel?

Ah.. there she is. Knitasha got an angel outfit for Christmas this year, and I'd say she pulls it off pretty well. What do you think?

Aunt Karyl Lynn and I took her to
Calla Lily Yarn & Gifts on Friday to show Donna, but she was out of town. So we looked around and might have picked up a thing or two. (I'll post about Christmas yarn in the next couple days, promise.)


Last year I had another experience with a Christmas angel. I held open the door at
Panera for a man on a very rainy day a few days before Christmas. He got in line in front of me on the sandwich side. It was one of those days where you spend the whole time in line thinking you probably should have gotten in the other line because it's moving faster, but as soon as you think you might step over there, three more groups of people get in that other line and you end up staying where you are, but you wish you'd made the move just a moment sooner.

Anyway, this guy in front of me picked up a handful of gift cards as he got up to the register, and I couldn't help thinking, "You have got to be kidding me... this is going to take for. ev. er." All I was going to do was get a drink and play on my laptop for a little bit. And this guy was going to waste a good... what, two minutes of my oh-so-valuable time? So I'm being a rotten jerk inside my head, and he turns around and hands me one of the gift cards he just bought, and thanks me once again for holding the door open for him.

I picked my jaw up off the floor, mentally smacked myself, and gave him a big hug. He told me to have a blessed Christmas, and he went about his merry way. Talk about a Christmas-spirit attitude adjustment.

Have you ever met a Christmas angel? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.


*All together, my parents were without power for more than 80 hours that Christmas. All my dad got for Christmas that year was a stack of DVDs about two feet tall. And really, there's only so much reading you can do from the back of a DVD case before you have to put it down. We spent much of Christmas day squeezing the foot of one of Mom's presents... a stuffed dog who sang "Singing in the Rain" while tapping his toes and swinging his umbrella back and forth.

Regardless, it was MUCH nicer spending Christmas with them and cooking hamburgers on the wood stove than it would have been spending Christmas alone in my apartment. Memories!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


My recently-turned-three-year-old nephew Calvin is awesome. He loves trains and cars and trucks and books and guns and Monkey George and any game you can play with a dodo (ball). He talks up a storm and chases his big sister and finds ways to keep his baby sister from screaming. It was so incredible to see him over Thanksgiving, since the last time Mom and I had seen him was a year and a half ago... half of his lifetime! He's (obviously) SO different now and it was a blast to get to know him again.

These all seem fairly common characteristics of a three-year-old boy, but something you might not know about Calvin is that he has a bit of... spirit. I'm fairly certain that everyone who has ever met him has been witness to that stubborn, fire-y streak, so I thought it only fair that his third birthday sweater be a warning to all.

And if that's not enough (you know some people have trouble heeding vague warning signs...), the back reads:

And Calvin loved it. He wore it a lot while we were there, and I hope he's still enjoying it. It's his "chicken" sweater. He calls lots of things "chicken", and that's a lot easier (and let's face it, more fun) than saying "construction". Here he is on Sunday morning rocking his sister's carseat so she'd stay happy right before we headed to church:

(Please note that Hallie is still wearing her February baby sweater and Saartje's booties. The west-coast Higgins's seem to be an often happily be-knitted family.)

Calvin's sweater is the Knitting Pure & Simple top-down raglan for kids, and I designed the colorwork after seeing a caution tape scarf in CRAFT magazine a while back. I used Berroco Comfort Worsted yarn and size 9 needles. I refuse to admit that it took me until 12:30am the night before our flight left to finish it.


Maggie and Calvin both got new socks a few weeks before Thanksgiving, too (so much for Valentine's socks).

Maggie's are the Handsome Devil pattern, using two different balls of Cascade fixation. I had seen someone else do these colors on the Six Sox Knitalong, and had to try it myself, only Maggie-sized.

Calvin's are Charlie's Dragon Socks from Cat Bordhi's New Directions for Sock Knitters book. First of all, let me tell you how much I love this book. I LOVE this book! I can't wait to experiment with more of the patterns and sock chickens. Umm, sock constructions. It's so much fun! And you can completely customize your socks for anyone with the super helpful charts.

Why dragon socks? Because you can unbutton and unfurl the dragon tails and let them fly out behind you as you scamper about your business, that's why. I used Opal Handpainted yarn double-stranded for the main color, and a reddish brown Trekking yarn for the tail spikes.

Heehee. :)

My nephew's feet amuse me.

P.S. If you aren't yet convinced that I am completely smitten with my nephew, please note that these are all the tails I had to weave in times TWO dragon tails. Love love love...