A Little Crochet Crazy

Every year, three friends and I do a Christmas gift exchange, with the actual exchange of presents happening sometime around New Year’s.

This year, I decided I was going to be a bit ambitious and make something for my friend.

But what?

And that’s when I remembered my occasional ability to crochet.

I’m not quite sure when I first cultivated an interest. It might have been in my late teens, when my mom – a newbie to the craft herself – had ended up making this very cute ripple afghan for a friend of hers.

And then over the years, I go back to it occasionally. The strange thing is, it’s never truly stuck. I never do any of it in the spring, summer or fall. But the minute there’s frost and the threat of snowflakes, the craft geek in me stirs, and wipes the sleep from her crafty eyes.

Usually, all it takes is for me to look at a picture of some blanket or other fashion accessory. And before you can say “popcorn stitch”, I’m digging around in the linen closet trying to find all my hooks and the big bags full of unused yarn … and then it’s off to the nearest Wal-Mart or Zellers, looking for even MORE acrylic yarn.

It’s like a two-month long, crafting booty call.

The only exception to this rule was last year. I did feel the urge. But I guess my inner sloth managed to gag and tie up my inner crocheter, ’cause I managed to ignore it until the feeling passed.

This year, though, it’s back with a vengeance.

Perhaps it’s my age. I really don’t know why. But it’s strong. I’ve already made my friend’s gift, and am now starting on a hat and scarf for myself.

Usually that’s as far as it gets. But who knows? Maybe this year, I can crank out a cowl scarf for someone else … or maybe a whole afghan.

I’m trying not to get ahead of myself, because usually when I hit the height of my beginner’s crochet zeal, is usually when I lose complete interest for another year.

But if it doesn’t … consider yourself warned.

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Silent Night (and Day)

A few days ago, I celebrated another Christmas at home with my parents and brother (who’d come to visit).

But this one was a bit different.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I spent my day cellphone- and Blackberry-free.

Perhaps it was the frustration I’d been experiencing at work lately.

Or maybe I’d suddenly had a bit of electronic overload.

But at 20 minutes to midnight on Christmas Eve, I shut off my portable devices and didn’t look at them for the next 34 hours.

And man, was it a glorious feeling! No rings, ringtones, alerts, beeps, bloops, or anything of the type.

In Christmases past, this cellular shutdown would usually last until sometime after dinner. But not this time.

I just sat back and hung out with the family … opened some presents, watched a little TV, did some crocheting, and filled my belly with foodie goodness.

A couple times, I thought about how strange it was I didn’t have an inkling of an urge to go upstairs and turn my phone on.

Nah.

To be fair, it wasn’t completely electronic-free – I did surf the internet and check my e-mail and Facebook.

But hey – it’s a start, right? Baby steps.

And perhaps it’s a “tradition” I should revisit – and expand upon – for future holidays.

A Thursday Night Wing-Ding

Okaaaay …

So you know that coffee date I had a couple weeks back, where the guy (known from here on in as Coffee Date # 2 … or CD 2 … not to be confused with the very last guy, who’s actually Coffee Date # 3) asked me if I wanted to go out for wings?

Well, true to form, it happened. Last Thursday night, actually.

Because I worked downtown and we had to go to Scarborough, there wasn’t a way out of turning down an offer of a drive there.

(I know many of you think I could. But seriously, I’d like to see you try. And YOU getting to Malvern in less than an hour. Not easy. I did draw the line of him coming to my place of work, opting instead to meet at a subway station.)

Anyway, the conversation on the drive over was not as painful as I thought it would be. It was actually decent.

After a missed highway exit, we arrived at the place in question.

While the wings weren’t the best, a fair bit of our conversation early on was … okay.

But as the wings and celery sticks disappeared, it began to get awkward. It didn’t feel as if it were a normal conversation – to me, it felt as if we were having two different conversations, which just didn’t FIT together.

CD 2 was trying to get deep and philosophical, and most of the subject matter was about dating and relationships. (Again to remind you, we only had ONE other face-to-face meeting … that being the coffee date from late November.) All of it felt way to intense for a first … whatever this was.

So … why did I think I was still single?

Did I think I would ever go back to school? (Harmless enough question.)

When was I planning on having kids? (Um, what?)

What did I think were things people did on dates, to make them fail?

And so on.

He then said I wasn’t asking enough questions. (Which was probably true. But then again, he was asking a lot of questions, a few of which I wasn’t sure were appropriate at this stage.) And then when I tried, all his answers were odd.

At one point, he leaned in and asked, “Okay, I’m going to ask a question. Do you think we … click?”

And then, after what was probably a strained look on my face, as I tried to answer, he cut me off saying, “Don’t answer,” and laughed.

I felt like I was undergoing some sort of interview. I’m surprised he didn’t ask me if my family had a history of mental illness or any other major health problems.

To be fair, I suppose I was so sensitive to the questioning because I wasn’t as into him as he was into me. But STILL.

And it only got cheesier.

As we sat in the booth, in our coats, waiting for the bill …

He asked me if I could read palms and if I knew what the lines meant. Then he asked me for my hand so he could look at the lines, and started gently tapping and grazing his fingers across my palm.

“Can you feel the electricity between us?” he said in his quiet voice.

I don’t think I even concealed my “Are you FOR REAL?” face.

After we left – which took WAY too long for my liking – he drove me home … And the painful awkwardness continued.

He had Latin-styled instrumental music was playing from his car … and he said he hoped we could go out dancing sometime, ’cause he wanted to show me his moves. (I don’t think that was a euphemism.)

Then he wanted to “dance” with me. In the car. And held out his hand.

At first I humoured him, hamming it up a bit.

But then he started up again, when we turned onto my street … and he just SLOWED the car DOWN.

And then we had some strange conversation about my house …

EVENTUALLY he got me to my house and I got to leave the car. And the night FINALLY ended.

Am I going to see him again. Um, no.

In fact, I finally sent him an e-mail about it this evening. I’m sure he’ll take it any number of ways. Likely, I’ll never hear from him again. And that’s fine.

Yes, I could have avoided it. But you know what? I feel it was something I needed to do for myself.

And it helped me to understand myself a bit better.

So. On to the holidays … time with friends and family … and perhaps in the New Year, on to the next.

If there is a “next”.

Why I Send Cards

While at work last weekend, I was trolling the Internets, when I turned my attention to the Globe and Mail’s Web site and stumbled onto the latest column (at the time) from Leah McLaren, about why she doesn’t send Christmas cards.

And, I admit, her points are all valid. When your insurance company feels the need to send you a card (to keep their business with you ongoing), and when all forms of social networking makes the old idea seem antequated … not to mention trying to reduce your carbon footprint by generating less junk than necessary … it sucks all the intent out of doing it in the first place.

But you know what? WASP, I am not. (Or at least, I don’t think so – unless this makes me a BASP). But here are a few reasons why it’s one yearly habit I’m not quite ready to let go of:

It’s my own little tradition. I find the older I get, the Grinchier I get. Christmas music in November annoys me to no end. And friends who start the countdown to the holidays in JULY? I find them certifiable. So when December hits, I find I’m not getting into the spirit until I sit myself down with a box of cards, some stamps, and those address labels that never seem to finish. And then, it’s on.

I want to brighten someone’s day. I guess I’m one of those “good” people that make people like Leah McLaren feel bad. But it’s really not my intent. I really DON’T care if I get a card back. I only hope that it’s a pleasant surprise to someone I know, to receive a piece of mail that ISN’T a bill or a piece of bulk mail trying to get you to sign up for yet another credit card, or charity, or bogus magazine. And for a two-week period before it goes into the trash or recycling bin, it’s a bit of holiday spirit. It’s the thought that matters.

I get to practice my handwriting. McLaren mentioned social networking as being a major reason which eliminates the reason for sending cards. Here’s the downfall of online social media – or even the online communication/texting age we live in. Nobody writes ANYTHING with their hands anymore. When was the last time you wrote something down? And I’m not talking about a grocery lists or filling out forms, or anything like that. When was the last time a friend or family member sent you something in writing? It’s just not done.

(I do admit, though, I really need to work on WHAT I write, when I write those cards. Maybe getting blank cards would work.)

That’s my personal philosophy. What’s yours?

D’s 2009 Holiday Tally

I can’t believe 10 days of December have disappeared already!

And – almost overnight – there’s snow and ice on the ground.

How in the sweet HELL did that happen?

Anyhow … since nothing’s really doin’ at the moment, I figured now’s a good a time as any for my annual Christmas tally.

And I KNOW how much you love (no, not really) my Christmas tallies.

So, five days ahead of schedule, here’s how my sprint to Christmas is shaping up so far: 

 

25: Number of cards written, placed in envelopes and mailed (because yes, I’m THAT good)

2: Number of gifts bought

1: Number of gifts wrapped and ready to go

1: Number of gifts half-made (although the way part one came out, I may have to re-do it and donate the original to a worthy cause)

2: Number of gifts intended for gift exchanges this year

2.5: Number of gifts left to purchase (the “0.5” is for my mother, who didn’t want me to buy her anything, after going halfsies with my brother on a new computer for her and my dad. I think I need to sneak something in, SOMEHOW … )

0: Number of Christmas trees erected and decorated at my house (hey! I’ts still early!)

2: Number of times I’ve felt slightly claustrophobic by just BEING in the mall

1: Number of Christmas-themed parties attended

1: pair of new gloves I need to buy, because DAMN the old ones aren’t doing the trick!

1: Number of things I’ve already bought for myself, while trying to shop for other people

$0: Amount of money spent on alcohol for parties

$18:50: Amount of money spent on cab fare, on the way home from a party

So far, so tame, yo.

Tally ho!

And let me know how YOUR Christmas shopping/organizing/partying is going!