Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Morning

I had to work at 0600, so at 0400 I attempted to wake the children (I have been forbidden to call them "kids"; they are not goats!). Even with the allure of a lit Christmas tree and a pile of presents, it took a bit of doing. I almost had to break out the pipes!

It's not that it was a small pile of presents, but it was a pile of small presents. People got and gave books, DVDs, gloves, small items of clothing, pieces of china that had been broken unbeknownst to the owner but were now being replaced . . . (What . . . ?!). Stuff like that.

Our routine is that Small Son picks the first present--any present as long as it isn't for him. That person opens their present, we all oo! and ah! over it, then that person picks a present for someone else, again not for themselves. It goes on, and we can see what everybody gets and record what thank you notes to send out. We didn't get done until 0558, at which time I was already up on the computer. They finished without me.
It's supposed to be snowing buckets--indeed, it is snowing buckets in Draper and West Jordan, but not here. Yet. I will be content to stay at home and sleep after I'm done working.

Here's my stash: 101 Stitches to Knit (on cards) (HH)
Where's My Cow, by Terry Pratchett (D#1)
Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, by Terry Pratchett (D#1)
Europe Through the Back Door, by Rick Steves (HH)
a new butter dish in my Noritake pattern. (D#1)
(Nobody told me the old one had been smashed)
(. . . until today.)
Christmas potholders (D#2)

I think that's it. I'll add the others if I've forgotten them. I remember thanking Daughter #2 for something enthusiastically, but I don't remember now what it was.

When I got done working, here's what the house looked like.

D#1 recorded on video our present opening ceremony, since she won't be here next year.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Cookies & Gardner Village 2008

We had 2 holiday traditions today.  The first was making Christmas cookies.  Originally, we made these to hang on our Christmas tree, from an old Danish tradition, and from days when we did not have funds to buy enough Christmas ornaments to make the tree look presentable.  Cookies were cheap, fun to make, and you can eat them afterward.

Now, since we have dogs who like to eat cookies, even cookies that appear to be out of their reach unless you tip the tree over . . . we just eat them.  But we still make them.  They are . . . anticipated.

After the kitchen had been restored from cookie mess to original cleanliness, we hopped in the car and drove south down the valley to a little "restored" village on the Jordan River situated around an old mill that was originally owned and operated by a family named Gardner.  Hence the name.  Each miniscule log cabin houses a tiny shop.  At Christmastime, it becomes a magical place.

This year it was overcast and threatening snow.  The river was iced over, except for the place the ducks and geese kept open.  Our favorite shops are a yarn shop, a Christmas ornament shop, a toy shop and (of course) a candy shop.  There's another shop which defies description, containing whimsical signs, ruffly skirts and shawls, perfumes and incense.  They always have the incense going ad nauseatum, so only Daughter #1 and #2 can bear to spend much time there.  We've found many wonderful ornaments in the ornament shop (even a bagpiping Santa) and this year we were hoping for a lady missionary, but no dice, so I had to settle for a knitting ornament.  The candy shop yielded it's usual heavenly fudge and an amazing variety of Jelly Bellies.

We did find something for Daughter #1's upcoming mission, but it was at the cross stitch and quilting shop.  We enlisted the help of the proprietress in purchasing it under D#1's very nose without her knowing about it.  Had a little trouble in that all the credit card computer systems went down just then, but D#2 and HH came up with the required cash.

It was a satisfactory day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Il tombe de la neige . . . Noel! Noel!"

From The Enormous Room, by E. E. Cummings

It snowed on Saturday, then again on Sunday. Really dumped on us on Sunday, such that the Young Women were awakened at 0800 to pull on their cold weather shovelling gear and go shovel the walks at church. I went to help them, since 66% of my daughters would be involved anyway. I shoveled so hard I got a huge blister on the palm of my hand, which popped when I was breaking up ice in the driveway, so that now it looks like the beginnings of stigmata (if I believed in that sort of thing).

Monday I believe we had a respite, but Tuesday it was at it again. I was trying, again, to get Small Son and Daughter #3's passports renewed, having showed up on Friday without birth certificates to prove they were actually my children. They turned me away, of course. Bureauacracy. So after my 10-hour shift in Sandy on Tuesday, HH and I drove the 17 miles in the heavily falling show, threading through one accident after another, to get back to the same Bureaucrat. Daughter #1 was in charge of picking up #3 and SS from school (early, on his part, which caused no end of glee) and bringing them to meet us downtown. As I stared out the window at the snow and bent fenders and cars facing the wrong way, shuddering at each 18-wheeler that roared past at the Posted Speed Limit, I thought of what would happen if #1 should meet with one of these crazy drivers who was not as good at mathematics as HH (he loves driving in the snow; says it's a series of math problems: physics) and end up in the hospital (or worse) just weeks before she is scheduled to depart for her mission.

It did not bear thinking about.

So I prayed. I prayed that she should not meet with any accident that would delay her going. I was hoping, at best, for no accidents.

What I got was a miracle.

Not 7 minutes later we drove into a wall of . . . no weather: the heavy snow-clouds sat behind us, and sunshine and blue sky arched ahead. It stayed like that all the way to the post office, and all the way home again. Looking southward all we could see was the huge grey and white monster clouds still sitting on the city, dumping snow on all and sundry.

Those kind of mile-thick clouds don't just "blow away", and they extend for miles in all directions. Before they leave you, they have to first dump their load, then think grey thoughts overhead for a day, and then roil away looking for someone else to annoy.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Preparations . . .

After removing the epaulettes from the long, hunter green wool coat we found as a possibility for Daughter #1 for her mission, and then having worn it to church, she decided that it would indeed work, if I lengthened the sleeves.


Later on in the evening, she turned her big, hazel, puppy-dog eyes on me and said, "Maman, could you, very sweetly, knit me a pair of mittens and a beret to match my new coat? For my mission?"

I considered the long list of Things I Have To Get Done, more specifically, Things I Have To Get Done Before Christmas, and figured I could fit in another one before 14Jan2009. If days were extended to 26 hours. I said, "You want mittens? Or would you rather have gloves?"

So today I went out to my local yarn shop, The Wool Cabin 2020 East 3300 South, Suite 11 (at East Ivy Place) Salt Lake City, UT 84109,, and looked at different yarns. I really wanted to make them in merino wool, which isn't itchy and is still very warm. All the info I have on Korea is M*A*S*H reruns, as I have said, and they were always freezing in that show. But the lovely and informative proprietress talked me into an acrylic/wool blend which would be less expensive, washable, and also came in millions of colors, including a hunter green that exactly matched that coat.

I am halfway done with Glove #1, and waiting anxiously for the beret pattern to show up in my email box, since I've already paid for it. Anxiously . . . waiting . . . anxiously . . .

And I'm not the only one who is excited. Here is an exerpt from Daughter #1's blog:

"It's amazing what having five weeks will do to you. I have suddenly discovered the energy to attack my life instead of just dragging myself through it for lack of anything better to do. My bed is made, my room is clean--I've even managed to do my hair, actually do it, with a hairbrush and accessories, in the morning. And when I'm not plowing through the Book of Mormon or playing phone-tag with the bishop or the International Travel clinic, I'm flicking through my "Let's Learn Korean In A Big Hurry" flash cards, muttering to myself. I want to get things done, to be ready, to get going. . . . I keep going to bed early, the sooner to be in another day in which I'm that much closer to going to Korea, and the better to be functioning for phone-tag and flash cards. My call letter promised me that serving a mission would bring me joy beyond anything I'd known before. I think that the second I read the word 'Korea' may, in fact, qualify as the happiest single instant in the whole of my life to date, and I've been generally more thrilled about everything in the past week than I could have pictured myself being. I know the Lord's promises are sure, I just didn't think they'd kick in before I'd actually left. I'll go eat breakfast now, in case you're having a crummy morning and I'm grating on your nerves."

You wouldn't know, from this entry, that Christmas is a week away.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Working Out The Bugs

Did you know the Salt Lake Scots has a new website up? There's a link to it over <---------here. Supposedly there's a /community part of it where we can do email and pics and piping blogs (what a NOVEL idea!), but so far I haven't gotten any response to my registration. If it's Ian handling those, I may have quite a wait. It'll have to be a pretty good blog to get me to switch from this one.

Next year, I'm going to nominate Ian for several awards: 1) for being late to EVERYTHING, 2) for taking more than too much time to make his announcements, and 3) for not getting done the things that he says he will by the time he says he'll get them done. Oh, and 4) for overscheduling himself, and causing #1 and #3.

Last night we worked on the Traditional strathspey (author: Anonymous), not to be confused with "Traditional" (author: Unknown) and also worked on Brogues on the Cobbles and That Darned Jig: Glasgow City Police Pipe Band. Jason was pleased that we noticed our problems ourselves, and worked to correct them immediately. He said it was a pleasure to pipe with this class.

It's nice not to be a burden.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Answer Is . . .

. . . Grade IV is Grade IV, Grade III is Grade III.

We are all still in GrIV. They are going to continue with the same system, moving people up one by one when they are deemed qualified.

Several people are happy about this.

1. Dave - is digging his heels in about being MORE competitive, and doesn't want to go to GrIII. He's very happy to maintain the status quo. Amount of time available to fill with practicing is probably at a minimum for him, too. He's happy with this decision.

2. Small Son - was afraid that when he finally got to pipes and playing with the band as a GrIV, he would be all alone; i.e. no family next to him. He's very happy that I'll still be there to pipe alongside him.

3. Me - I'm happy not to have the extra practice requirements, the added pressure, additional gigs, and the frowns of perhaps-overly-critical GrIII members added on to what I have already. I'm happy to have the same comfortable group of people to practice with every week.

On that same theme, at the end of the party last night Ian handed Small Son an extra box of Award Candy and told him to hurry up and practice so he could play with the band. Because SS responded, "OK", he feels he has promised to keep playing. He thinks he has committed. We'll see if he a) starts showing signs of stress or b) practices more.

There were 17 pizzas left over last night. We took one home. I'm hoping everybody else took one home, too. Or that Ian took the rest of the pizzas to a homeless shelter for re-distribution.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What with one thing and another . . .

. . . one day passed.

Up at 0215.

Work, work, work.

Go home.

Make cookies and lunches.

Go to the chapel and help set up for the RS Christmas party (second party in 4 days). Party.

HH's Christmas Quiz was a real challenge. Nobody got more than 3 versions of A Christmas Carol. Nobody guessed when the Battle of Trenton was, and even the answer sheet said it was 1977. I know the Revolutionary War did not last that long.

Clean up. Practice choir part. Go home and go to bed at 2130.

How many hours does that make? Um . . . . .19 and some change.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

And the Winner Is . . .

With strength of will characteristic of her, Daughter #1 waited until Sunday to open that large envelope from the church that would give her all the information she ever wanted to know about her mission, including where she would be going. She waited until Relief Society, the women's meeting. Usually there are only women in there. Sunday the Bishop was there, Small Son was there, my friend Connie Who Never Comes to Relief Society was there, various other men were there, all the Young Women came in. Standing Room Only!

We made her stand up in front of the room. She slit open the envelope, pulled out the letter, and said, "It seems I will be going to . . .



There was a huge collective, reciprocal gasp from the attending crowd, then everybody burst out talking, laughing, crying. It was very exciting.

The official mission is Busan (pronounced as if it started with a 'p') South Korea, a city of about 4 million, on the southeast coast of Korea. She is already learning the alphabet and rudimentary vocabulary. She is so thrilled that she will come home tri-lingual. (I'm green with envy.) She enters the Missionary Training Center in Provo on the 14th of January. We have a little over a month to finish getting her ready.

Thank goodness she already has her passport!

Korea is such a looooooong way away.

Canine Hunger Strike

Our dogs have gone on a hunger strike.

Their Food Of Choice is a remix of X number of kinds of dog food, mixed altogether, bagged, and sold for cheap. HH calls it Ghetto Mix. Our dogs love it. We usually get it at Market Square, a warehouse where almost-expired or totally expired food is sold, so it is dirt cheap.

Lately, they haven't had those 30 pound bags of Ghetto Mix on the shelf, so we've had to buy a grocery-store brand. We've had that 10 pound bag of grocery-store dog food for 6 weeks, and they still haven't eaten it all. They absolutely REFUSE to eat it. They've both lost weight, and they're vulturing food from wherever they can get it, including the table and the counter and peoples' lunch bags waiting for the school day.

Yesterday I decided I had to get something they would eat. Of course I went to the store to get some. Of course Market Square didn't have any Ghetto Mix. I went to a grocery store. Of course I couldn't choose the grocery-store variety. But which to choose? Which one would our dogs Gimpy and Stupid eat? What do they base their decision on? They're both color blind, so it can't be the color of the bag OR the food. It must be smell. Of course I couldn't bring them into the grocery store to smell all the bags and tell me which they'd rather have. Not being able to base my decision on color, brand or price, I had to go by smell.

I waited til the aisle was empty. then walked along the dog food aisle and sniffed each brand of dog food, hoping somebody I knew DIDN'T turn the corner at the end of the aisle and see me with my nose plastered to a series of dog food bags, and make a character judgement.

Have you ever opened a bag of dry dog food? The smell that wafts up is delicious! Meaty, warm, just asking to be snarfed. Even a can of dog food smells pretty good, even though it looks like it's already been processed by a dog . . .

I don't have the most distinguishing of noses, but . . . they all smelled the same to me. Chicken, beef, pork, lamb, vegetable. . . all the same. Now what to do? I couldn't go on color, brand, price OR smell. So I just guessed, pulled two smallish bags (one on the higher priced end, one from the lower priced end; one red and one green-ish) and went home frustrated, hoping at least one of these two would be acceptable and end the hunger strike.

At home, I put four bowls down, 2 for each dog, one kind of dog food for each dog, and waited to see which they would go for. Both Gimpy and Stupid smelled both offerings, and then snarfed the cheapest one!

Yeah, dogs!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Good Practicing

Someday these 19-hour days are going to kill me. I'm going to do something really stupid and never be able to show my face in public again. I'll have to go around with my head in a paper bag. Not only that, but my whole family will have to wear paper bags on their heads. I wonder if there are still enough paper bags in the world for each member of my family to have one.

Last night at group lesson I was almost comotose until we struck in to play something. Since Pete wasn't there, Jason asked which of us was good at tapping their foot (to keep time). I raised my hand, because I know both Lee and Sande rush, and John is still too new to all this. Whaddya know, Sande volunteered that I was the best at the same instant that I raised my hand! So I got to be Pipe-Sargent-For-The-Day. We did the Mill set and Amazing Grace with harmony.

And, might I add, we did very well. John was having trouble with the last part of Brogues, but it's a tough part and he's relatively new and is forgiven. We have decided to play Brogues for our recital piece (hopefully I will not be there; hopefull, I will be in Switzerland).

All my strike-ins and cut-offs were beautiful. I knew you'd want to know.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mission Call

A large white envelope arrived at our house yesterday, from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, addressed to Daughter #1. As of this writing, she is going to sit on it and open it in Relief Society on Sunday. To annoy her father. Daughter #2 thinks this is silly and an attention-seeking behavior, that the opening of a mission call should be a family affair, and that she should open it on Friday evening. It's #1's decision.

The RS Presidency has given Daughter #1 full permission to open it on Sunday. They think it will be a bonding experience, and that all those who are present will be more apt to write to her during her mission.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Last Band Practice 2008

Nine pipers showed up last night. Nine! We only needed six to compete at Jackson Hole and could only scrounge five. Last night, prime holiday shopping and baking time, we got nine!

It was a very good practice, nonetheless. All nine pipers sounded gorgeous! Tuning went swiftly. We breezed through several familiar sets sounding like the LA Scots instead of JT Dunnie, then started on a 6/8 and a jig and Sean's tune, all of which needed the work we put into them. They still need more.

Sean then gave us some jig exercises that he had specifically designed to help us on this particular jig, Glasgow City Police Pipers. We worked on them for awhile on PCs. I was sitting next to Lee, and he was rushing through every tune and exercise, as is his wont. I wanted to whack him over the knee to slow him down, but figured that would be "inappropriate". Besides, he looked rather tired. I didn't think he would appreciate the gesture.

The Executive Committee is meeting Sunday night to decide if we get to be Grade III or not, and the party is on the 10th, 7pm, in the Little Theatre at Highland High. Pizza will be provided; we have to bring sides.

I wonder what I should bring?

Monday, December 1, 2008