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Archive for December, 2006

Get Your Blackeyed Peas Now!

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

New Year’s day will be a pajamas-all-day experience for me, or that is the plan. We will do our annual batch of “Hoppin’ John” which is a blackeyed pea/rice dish eaten a lot in the southern states of the USA. It is especially popular on New Year’s day because the blackeyed peas (small beans, actually) are considered good luck.

I knew a woman from Texas once. She said she had a friend who put dried blackeyes in her change purse for good financial luck. That sounds messy to me, but I definitely enjoy the food anyway and it is a great excuse to have a day designated for us to eat it.

Three years ago I posted one possible recipe for vegetarian Hoppin’ John. Maybe you would like to join me in the kitchen? Today would be the day to get your groceries, that is if you want a jammies day on the First.

Whatever you do, may you all have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2007.

Yarn Talks

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

LynnH Basketweave RugIt’s not my fault. Sometimes yarn just talks to me. A few years back I walked into Threadbear and they had Brown Sheep Burly Spun yarn on display. It told me “Rug.” I told the guys at Threadbear the yarn wanted to be a rug. They said, “a rug?” They could not imagine it. (Click photo at Left for a larger view.)

I did not know what it would end up looking like but I was sure. And now that very first Burly Spun rug (which became my Basketweave Rug pattern is still on display at the Threadbear shop. I’ve done several other rugs in other yarns but this one may still be my favorite. And the guys? They like it a lot, they just needed to see it first. (For the record, this rug makes a really great lap blanket as well.)

So Saturday I went to Rae’s to pick up a check she had for me, one of my favorite reasons for going to any yarn store. And some new yarn came in. Well, a yarn I’ve knit before but it was in new colors. She knew I would want to see, because it happened to come in hot pink, purple and turquoise, my favorite trio of colors. And the yarn whispered “Kid’s socks.” I was doomed.

You see, a few years ago I was doing work for Dawn Brocco‘s Heels and Toes Gazette (which is no longer in production for new issues but the back issues are available on her website). I had an exciting idea. I wanted to do a series of socks for kids, where each sock was different but in the same two or three colors. It was an idea that came too late for the issue at hand and I had to sit on the idea. For years. Until Saturday.

twosoxforisabel.jpgI took home the yarn. I got out the needles. And visiting Altu at her restaurant, in the car on the way to a holiday party in Ann Arbor, part of the time at the party, on the way home and a little more at my desk at home… I knit.

And now I have two socks. I choose to do at least four socks, two pair, which can be interchanged at will. I have made them in a size that little Isabel across the street can wear. These I am doing now are prototypes and then I will of course need to write a pattern.

Yes, I said four. I only knit two so far, these are in the photo. But they won’t be complete until there are four total socks, and no two will be more a pair than any other pair from the total count. I just love this fun I’m having. I had not “allowed” myself to do stranded colorwork enough lately. This is more fun than I’ve had with wool in a looong time!!!

I LOVE these sockies. I love them. I want to be a toddler again and have unmatched fun sockies. I’m not sure I can loosen up quite that much but maybe I can.

As for Isabel, I am pretty sure that she will love her sox by “Grandma Lynnie.” And for her mother, April, I think having 4 socks will make it easier for two to get washed occasionally… because trying to take something away from Isabel when she loves it very much, is difficult to say the very least.

I’m still fighting a case of the almost-headache blahs (this is getting old, it’s gone from Tuesday to Saturday off and on). I must have half a cold bug or something, it is taking my energy level down a bit. I’m afraid to sing too much until our gig is over Sunday night. But I did have a bit of excitement today, don’t you agree?

Socks, Socks, Socks! (and more…)

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

buttons by LynnHI’m on a major roll. I finished a pair of socks for Brian on Christmas day. I finished another gift pair on the 26th. I dug through all my boxes of unfinished projects to see what else I had on the needles. On the 28th I finished a pair for me. Right now I am finishing another pair.

Four pair in a week? Cool. OK, I surely did not *Knit* them all in that time, but I finished them and that counts for something. I was so low on small-sized double-pointed needles that I kept having to buy new sets. I will be free of that problem for at least a little while now. And since I usually knit two socks at the same time, on two sets of DPN’s, that is a nice cashflow boost, which I will enjoy.

Why do I have so many partial pairs of socks? Mostly because of teaching. I teach a particular pattern or technique, I work along with the class. I finish one sock or part of a sock, to the point where the class is done and I showed them what they needed to see. Then the project sits for the next class. Assuming there *is* another class, that is. Eventually I get to keep some of these for myself and that is a perk of my job. It takes a while for that to happen sometimes, though.

Both of the pairs I’m finishing for me this week were used as afterthought-heel demos. That has not been a big draw class in the past, though now I have five people already signed up for my class starting January 25 at Rae’s shop. Woohoo! This is my favorite sock structure for my own foot and I’m always happy to show it to others.
Button by LynnHHowever, I am still doing other business tasks and therefore I have not taken photos of many recent completed socks for you. I just added five items under Polymer Clay Buttons on the shop. I did a little mailing to those who had asked for notices if I had new yarns, etc… and to an email list which allows advertisements.

And since the Fabulous Heftones are doing some performances in the next month or two, I did a mailing (paper and email) to encourage folks to come out. It’s more fun to sing to a crowd than an empty room, you know?

And lucky me, I have some yarn to dye. Nothing like a winter vacation, huh???

At least we had great food for dinner and a nice walk in the neighborhood after dinner. That’s a mini-vacation, a break of sorts. After dinner we did a little promo recording for a friend who has a podcast, and I’m working on my afterthought heel socks between typing here and there.

Button by LynnHAnd I am counting my blessings. My life is pretty good, you know? I spent 4 hours today at Foster Center. I had fourteen children today and they were lively. One child knit, everyone else was on the computers. The knitter learned to unknit one stitch at a time (it’s called TINKing, which is knit spelled backwards… I did not make this up). She also learned how to make a tube by knitting on double-pointed needles. Magic. She has a couple of skeins of Noro Kureyon yarn and is making wristwarmers that change color slowly like a rainbow, in orange and pink and lavender. We both thought it was glorious.

Blessings. A space heater blowing on my feet right now is the best one of the moment. What I would have done for my very own space heater when I was in Africa, I can only imagine…. it got very cold at night where we were.

Photos are of three polymer clay offerings I added to the shop today. Photos of socks will follow when I can get free to do non-business work. If you want to see something new, though, I re-wrote the main page to my polymer clay subsite on Christmas Day, and it has some photos there… some old and some new, but probably all new to most of you readers out there.

Human Necessities

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Sometimes I forget I’m human… twice this week I got major headaches from “forgetting” to eat lunch. Lunch really is not optional, I need some sort of fuel mid-day as we all do. However, my schedule is odd and I often eat breakfast just before I leave and then I’m out for so long that I miss a meal time. If I could buy food at a restaurant I bet I would do it, but I am allergic to almost anything (but sushi or lettuce salad) that is available in restaurants. I’m relatively bad at planning packed meals when I’m going to be in town. Clearly this part of my life needs renewed focus, because the headaches are no fun.

So last night after getting out of computer lab I did as many of my errands as I could. (I did miss Rae’s knit in, unfortunately, but I got to see the folks at Threadbear and Linda at Little Red Schoolhouse anyway.) And then it was dinnertime. Brian got home from work around 8:20pm and we decided we would go out for sushi. I usually have lunch with Altu on Thursdays but for the 2 weeks of Holiday vacation I’m working the computer lab and I have to miss that ritual. So I went to the same sushi restaurant at a different time of day with a different person, and had the same great food.

Then home. I did bake a bit, more granola bars. I am getting pretty good at these, though I’m still not at the stage where they are perfect enough to stop tweaking the recipe. Every batch is a new experiment and these are very very good. If I’d had some granola bars in the freezer to start yesterday, I would have had food in my purse when I was hungry midday and maybe I could have skipped the headache.

I’m trying to think of more things like this, that I can make and freeze ahead for a quick afternoon boost. Maybe I can figure make some pumpkin bread or some sort of cookie/brownie/bar.
After baking the granola bars I went to bed. It was 11:00pm. I typically can not sleep until 1:30am at the earliest, and sometimes I’ll go to bed at 3am and not be able to sleep right away. Last night? I knit for a very short while but could not keep my eyes open. I was asleep by 11:15. I had taken a nice cup o’tea up there with me. When I awoke that cup was still on the stand with only a sip or two out of it.

Sleep is the universal cure. When there was little medicine to cure people, they would go to bed and sleep until the body could work through an illness on its own. I felt positively sick when I woke up briefly at 1am, but now it is 10am, I slept for almost 11 hours and I feel human again. Whew!!!

And as they say, tomorrow (today in this case) is another day. I’m so glad to feel well, it will be a good one.


Thursday, December 28th, 2006

I am at my desk in total silence other than the clicking of the keys and an occasional car passing by. I can not think of anything I would rather do today than continue this quiet bliss.

I am a very social person but I get wiped out by too many people, and then I need a quiet retreat. Last night when I got home after 4 hours with children at Foster Center, Brian offered to go out so that I could be alone. I said no at the time, but I would love some of that right this minute.

As it is, I am going to go run some errands, be with kids for 4 more hours this afternoon, run more errands, maybe hang at Rae’s for the Thursday night Knit in, and *then* be home in relative quiet. That is only a few hours away and I will be fine. I sure love it when the loudest thing I can hear is the furnace blower… total luxury.

perfecthuggoddessdiana.jpgThere is still much to do for my business during this low-teaching time of year. I start my adult teaching schedule on January 7/Sunday, at Threadbear, teaching Perfect Hug Shawl (which is essentially three shawls in one pattern, depending on the size/length/yarn you choose). The photo at right is Diana modeling the Goddess size version.

Until then I have a website to fill (I took photos of six button entries today which will be added to the cart tonight if all goes well). And of course, our New Year’s Eve concert.

I have stayed up too late several days this week but finally crashed at a more normal time for me last night. Then I woke up when the garbage truck passed by and could not sleep again. It could be worse… I did get a bit done this morning.

heftonesatdagwoodsbyjen20.jpgI think I’m also a little dragged out from the smoke the other night. You see, we went to open mic night at Dagwood’s Tavern on Tuesday. We love the people there, and our friend Jen Sygit is the hostess of the weekly event. I always love going there when I can find a Tuesday night free.

We had a blast but I had to yell a bit to be heard when chatting, so my voice is tired, and all that smoke is hard on the sinuses at this time of year. Never mind that kids are sneezing on everything at work. Yesterday after the kids left I spent 15 minutes wiping down all the computer mice and keyboards, hoping to make things a little better for them. It’s definitely “wash hands often” season. So far so good, I’ve been quite well this last few years.

So today I will venture forth. The good news is that once I get going I enjoy myself. It is just that changing of gears that is hard for me. I’m just not good at transitions. Especially on cold, gray winter days.

I will make color in my day and I will bundle up. And I will enjoy the folks I see once I go forth! Have a good one, too.

Photo: The Fabulous Heftones at Dagwoods. Thanks to Jen Sygit for taking the photo.

Upcoming Article in Lansing Community Newspapers!

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

Chris Wardell of Lansing Community Newspapers interviewed me via email yesterday, for an article regarding The Fabulous Heftones (and in particular our 8-9pm New Year’s Eve show at Lansing’s El Azteco basement, now called the Aztec Room). He says “The story will run in the Towne Courier for sure, possibly some other papers.”

The Fabulous HeftonesI am not sure what the publication dates are. I think his deadline was Wednesday. It will surely be printed before Sunday, though, since that is the date we perform.

I will be on the lookout for the paper, though it mostly focuses on the East Lansing, Haslett and Okemos (Meridian Township) area and I am in the City of Lansing. Do keep your eye out for the article if you are in town. The Towne Courier does not have a web presence at all, so I won’t be able to share a link to it from this blog.

I’m pretty excited. I just found the email address for performance announcements at these papers, the week of Thanksgiving. I got an email thank you from the editor on Thanksgiving day, believe it or not. And already they are doing an article. I feel very supported. By the way, I grew up in the area that the Towne Courier covers so it is a little like being welcomed home. Way cool.

If you are interested in the show or The Aztec Room as a venue, you can check out the location’s MySpace page by clicking here.

Recipe: Diana’s Sunshine Orange Shortbread

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

Diana has been cooking all things sunny lately, in celebration of the sun’s return. Golden beets rather than red, yellow bell peppers, chard in yellow and gold… and citrus.

She posted a recipe for Sunshine Orange Shortbread on her blog yesterday. I know how much you like recipes. Diana is an artist in the kitchen, I can assure you that these cookies will be delicious.

Tracy a Three-Time Winner!

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

Tracy (who test-knit my Button, Button, Who’s Got the Hat? pattern last year and I swear also tested my tea cozy the year before but I can’t find the documents to prove it to myself) is my first winner. She took the LynnH SockTour and found three embedded links (in descriptive text paragraphs) to pages/sites that do not exist anymore, including one of mine. Big oops!

Tracy, therefore, has won three patterns of her choice. That’s a great way to prepare for the mighty month of January, Tracy! I have always declared January to be “Selfish-Knitting Month.” We set our own needs aside for the month of December and sometimes before that, to knit for others. Or so it seems many of us do…

So January is Selfish-Knitting Month and Tracy gets to choose three patterns from which she can knit her projects for *herself.* Or not, her choice.

In any case, thanks for starting off the contest so quickly and thoroughly, Tracy.

A Christmas Walk

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

christmas3.jpgBrian and I went on a walk Christmas Day in our neighborhood. The grass was green and we found two places where the myrtle/periwinkle groundcover was actually blooming! (That is Brian in the red coat, in the photo at left.)

christmas1.jpgIt was very quiet in the neighborhood though we saw a few folks coming/going from houses and one other lone walker.

christmas2.jpg I took photos of decorations as we walked. I found one house where the inflatable decorations were deflated and flat, and it made me chuckle. Maybe they were out for the day or maybe they unplugged for some reason.

christmasflowers1.jpgIt is amazing… often we have snow by Christmas, though sometimes it is above freezing. However, most years the grass is golden and dormant by August. It is strange to see such green grass this time of the year. It was beautiful.

christmasflowers2.jpgYou already have seen decorated homes and no doubt these are redundant. But flowers blooming on December 25? In two gardens blocks apart? In Lansing, Michigan? I just had to share.

A Contest

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Well, I spent the last month working on my web presence… I had sites on four different servers and now they are all on one. I then did my best to update all the links on all the pages.

I have hundreds of pages on little obscure mini-sites such as The Fabric of Friendship, the LDTH Poetry Collection and Lynn and Brian’s Fabulous Yucatecan Adventure. The last one is 1996. My polymer clay site also began in 1996. There was much to do, to get these things brought into the relatively-modern age with proper current links.

I even checked the links on my blog sidebar, and this blog rendition is only since August. Even some of those sites had moved.

I created a new calendar through Gmail/Google, and I created a new shopping cart instead of my old patterns/yarns pages. It was a lot of very late nights in a row, to get this all in order. And now I believe I am done.

So now comes the Great Idea I got from Sarah Peasley. I’m having a contest. For anyone who can find a mistake on any ColorJoy.com/LynnH.com page, either a link or a misspelling of midwestern English, if you are the first one to find that mistake (or dead link), I will send you the LynnH pattern of your choice. I would prefer if you posted your finds to my email address at Lynn AT ColorJoy DOT com.

It is a good thing to limit these things, so the final day to find mistakes and claim a prize will be January 3.

As far as I can tell, the sites and pages I intend for the world to see can all be linked to by starting at the new navigation bar at the top of this blog page. I hope you don’t find anything, for my sake. However, I hope you win a prize, for your sake.

Two Years Ago Christmas & a Funny Story/Cairo

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Two years ago I was in Cairo for Christmas, with my friend Altu. I even blogged a little that day, but I was paying by the minute at the business center at the Marriott, and I could not download photographs.

We decided to stay in the hotel room that day, to just laze around and celebrate by relaxing in our jammies. We were in Africa a total of 38 days and very few were relaxation days, we packed in as much as we could. This was near the end of our trip and we were ready for a “down” day. We had been in Alexandria the day or two before, and got some wonderful mideastern “fingers” which are honey/cashew and puff pastry… and we also had tangerines and guavas from a stand in Alexandria.

We slept in for Christmas. We figured out when to call home (I think it was about 8 hours’ difference between time zones, maybe more) and we ate breakfast of fruit, tea and pastry, on the 19th floor balcony of the Cairo Marriott on the nile. This is the view we had during breakfast. It is the world’s second-largest city, next to Mexico City (which I have also visited). From this vantage point, when there is not a lot of smog, it really looked as though we could see the tops of the pyramids in Giza. It makes sense… we were looking the right direction, and mountains can be seen for long distances as well.

That day we watched a lot of TV. In Ethiopia, the government controls the media, but in Egypt we had satellite and saw shows in at least four different languages. That was the week of the Tsunami (and Altu and I had been on the Indian Ocean at Mombasa, Kenya only 11 days previous), so there was lots of that coverage, as well as holiday stuff. Even though Egypt is only about 12% Christian, there were Christmas decorations at the hotel for folks like us, and the TV shows reflected the season.

alexandriacastlefriendssm.jpgEgypt is a fascinating place for many reasons. It is in Africa but also is middle-eastern/Arabic in culture/language. The radio station would say (in English) the “music of Africa and the Middle East!” Alexandria (less than 2 hours by car from Cairo) is on the Mediteranean and has that influence as well. When we visited the Christian churches on Dec. 26, we had to walk through a very old burial ground where the tombstones were written in Greek. We visited a castle on the Mediteranean (in Alexandria), and it looked very European.

The funniest thing that happened on Christmas two years ago, though, was a personal thing that could have happened anywhere in the world. We ordered room service for our midday meal, ate (it was disappointing, as hotel food can be, though the tea was just fine), and then decided to push the table back out into the hall to make more room.

We had to fuss with putting down the leaves on the table to get it to fit through the door. Before we knew it, we were out in the hall with the table, in our jammies, and the door locked behind us. Dang!

I got elected to go down to the front desk and get help. I was certainly covered up but not at all dressed for the elegant Marriott (part of which once was a bit of a palace built for Napoleon’s Josephine III if I remember right, an incredible building). We were in a second building, and it required walking outdoors under a covered area to get to the main building, then down some halls and past some stores and restaurants, before getting to the front desk.

So here I was, this obvious foreigner not dressed for prime time on Christmas day. I kept laughing out loud because it was so funny. I tried not to look at anyone while laughing because they can take funny looks very seriously in Arabic cultures and I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.

I made my way to the desk and had no trouble convincing them of my situation, one look and it was really clear. So I got a key and walked, walked, walked and took my elevator back to the 19th floor, to rescue Altu who was still stuck in the hallway. What a way to spend part of a lazy holiday!!!

Photos (for the record, I went through the trouble to make all these smaller photos clickable to large images this time if you want close-ups): 1) Skyline from our balcony, Christmas Morning, 2004; 2) Pastries called fingers; 3) Castle in Alexandria, posing with Altu 4) Fruit Stand where Christmas breakfast was purchased; 5) Same Castle, looking out at the Mediteranean Sea; 6 &7) Rooms in the Marriott which were originally built in a French style to make Josephine III comfortable away from home; 8 ) Dancer in Marriott restaurant which is in the back garden of the hotel; 9) Garden of hotel from balcony, showing several restaurants.

Sharon P’s Ballerina

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Go check out Sharon P/Knitknacks’ blog for December 21 (yes, I’m behind… it’s the holiday season after all). She knit a Hanne Falkenberg Ballerina sweater in a general purple/magenta color scheme. This requires zillions of tiny stitches (garter stitch in yarn approximately fingering/sportweight for the knitters out there). I think it was on size 3 needles. We’re talking a lot of knitting, and it was very well worth it.

The sweater is gorgeous. It makes her look incredible, besides. And she has the perfect necklace, accidentally, which was a recent gift. How cool is that?

Great job, Sharon!

Unusual Meals for Christmas

Monday, December 25th, 2006

sushibylynnhrolls.jpgI did it. I bought all the necessary “stuff” long ago, but on the 23rd I got an avocado which would go bad if I did not use it right away. We had short-grain white rice, frozen smoked salmon, seaweed sheets, wasabi horseradish powder, soy sauce and a bamboo mat.

I have been talking about trying this for at least 6 months. You see, Altu and I like to eat sushi (and other Japanese goodies) for our weekly Thursday lunch. But I’m told the word “sushi” might translate to “vinegared rice” and I try not to eat much vinegar because of my allergies. I thought maybe I could make rolls at home, minus the vinegar. Or so started this thought process, anyway.

Fortunately, the mighty Diana lived in Japan for several years as a young woman, and she has done this before. I chatted with her by phone this week about the very specific methods of making a roll that would actually hold together with the right “stuff” inside.

I could not imagine that the crunchy seaweed sheets would actually roll up without breaking apart. She assured me that the rice would steam it up enough, and that I should wet the edges (that weren’t covered with rice) with water (like licking an envelope). And that it would work fine. Her biggest hints were: Compress like crazy when rolling or it won’t cut well… and use much less filler for the roll than you can possibly imagine you need.

sushibylynnhcut.jpgI made rolls. They compressed, the seaweed softened appropriately. Once we got out a serrated knife, they cut fine. They tasted just fine.

Mind you, I really do not like fish much. The smoked salmon I bought in the freezer department, I thought was sushi grade smoked (raw/smoked) salmon, which has a similar texture to soft “water added” ham. What I got was cooked/smoked fish and that kind flakes and falls apart when you try to cut the rolls.

I’m surprised to say it, but I’ve come to appreciate the sushi smoked salmon much more than I ever imagined, and I would have liked the rolls better if that was what I’d actually purchased. And they would definitely have been prettier and cut better that way. I’ve come a long way from the days when any unfamiliar food might bring on a near-panic attack. This is a good development.

In any case, Christmas lunch was pseudo-sushi rolls we made ourselves. (Brian cut up the fish and avocado, bless him… I really don’t like handling meat/fish at all… and he cut the rolls into bite-sized pieces when I’d finished the rolling.)

For dinner, Brian is making us a guinea hen. It’s a bird I saw wild in Africa that is known for good eating there. I don’t eat mammals/red meat, but I need to have variety in my diet so when I saw a frozen guinea hen in the freezer at Hiller’s grocery in Ann Arbor, I took it home. It’s a pretty small thing… like a small chicken. At least I like the flavor of most poultry, unlike fish which is something I usually eat for my health rather than enjoyment.

Brian once more is cooking for me, since touching meat makes me queasy. Someday maybe I can be a vegetarian but for now this is the best compromise I can achieve. (I’m allergic to dairy, egg, most nuts and some beans… there is no way for me to get enough protein without adding some meat at this time.)

I am cooking sweet potatoes and/or rutabaga roasted oven-fries tonight. The roasted veggies thing is really making me happy lately. We made a butternut squash that way this week, which was pretty good, but the memories of the rutabaga drive me to repeat that experience. And I’ve had roasted beets and sweet potato before so I may put an extra pan in the oven and do those at the same time. I figure the more you cook on one day, the more you have frozen and ready to eat on days you don’t feel like cooking.

A Lovely Yesterday

christmastreegifts.jpgChristmas Eve Day was a beautiful, sunny, above-freezing weather day and we went for a wonderful walk together before we went to Brian’s family gathering. It was very pleasant. The drive was nice, and with my new laptop battery I can again do computer work in the car. I have determined to not work from dinnertime yesterday to bedtime today. I’m a bit of a workaholic (at least I truly love what I do) but sometimes you need to just knit for yourself and read or flop on the couch, you know?

The gathering was very nice. I always have a surreal experience when we visit Brian’s family. They need a genuine parking lot for just relatives to visit. My family has 3 cars, 6 people in the state, and that is when Mom and Fred are in Michigan. Brian’s family has 8 children, all but one is married and five have multiple children. Then this event included cousins and aunts/uncles. Whew!

I like everyone in the group, it’s a very fine assortment of people, but I overwhelm easily with chaos. I’m OK with 50 people all in a workshop focused on the same thing. A party or bar or gathering such as this, taxes my ability to focus. I have a hard time relaxing and enjoying the event unless I can sit with one person and talk one on one, in the least dense room/area available.

Last night I had time to talk with Aunt Peg for a long while and I very much enjoyed that. It’s also delightful to see the nieces/nephews growing up, they are getting SO big, most are nearly my height or towering over me. Only a few are young enough to still stand in my shadow.

We had the annual dollar gift exchange with the aunts/uncles and the whole gang. This is a great way to deal with the too-many-people-to-buy-gifts thing. They do have a great sense of humor, and for many years one package had a bag of ice in it. They get very creative sometimes with the wrapping, and often the way it is wrapped is some sort of hint at what is inside. For example, a package wrapped like a fish tank might contain goldfish crackers. Last night one of the gifts was a huge bow, maybe a foot (30cm) across, with a tiny tiny package stuck to its underside. In the package was a $1 bill wrapped in a lot of tape.

christmasgiftdie.jpgLast night Brian took a can of Green Giant asparagus out of our cupboard (he had purchased it but I refused to cook it, I only eat fresh asparagus) and put it in a large CD case/cylinder, which he wrapped in printed out asparagus labels he got from the Green Giant website. His sister liked the package (she is very creative, mostly a quilter) and appreciated the connection between the package and contents, although who knows if she’ll cook it? I took an empty pumpkin can and put a small package of pumpkin seeds (with the too-much salt coating that is typical) in it, put plastic tape around the can lid so it wouldn’t hurt anyone, taped the lid on and put a gold-colored bow on the top. Another of Brian’s sisters, also very creative, picked that package and appreciated the thought.

It is interesting that the sister who picked my package, was the sister who wrapped the package I picked. First I almost went for the box with hot green polka-dots and “asterisk” patterns, because I really did like the way the package looked. However, I was drawn to the creative package which looked like one of a pair of dice (I’ve got a pair of purple fuzzy dice hanging from my car rear-view mirror). I had to choose that package when it became my turn to pick. It contained a package with 4 dice in it, two of them trick dice so I can always throw a 7 or 11. Whatever! But very cute.

Two Years Ago Today

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

LynnH and Altu in Gaza, Dec 24, 2004I was in Egypt on December 24, 2004. Altu and I went to the Great Pyramid (and a smaller stepped pyramid, Sakkara, that was cooler in a lot of ways though it was not in my travel book at all).

Altu just had to ride a camel, her trip would not have been complete without that experience. I did not think I would like this (I’m definitely a city kid and I typically like photos of large animals better than the real thing).

We rode the camels. It was absolutely wonderful, she had been right all along. Our guide (from what I could tell, he owned the camels) was funny and cheerful, and we were able to go places that you would not typically go on foot. The view was incredible. I loved it.

Here is a photo of the two of us on camels, two years ago today. In Giza, not at all far from the bustling city of Cairo, yet worlds apart. The gentleman in the photo is Nabil, our driver for a week when we were there. Nabil was the best thing about Egypt, a wonderful human being who really made sure we had the best experience he could give us. (The camel driver took the photo.)