Assignment completed!

My year as Grand Organist, Order of the Eastern Star, State of Louisiana, has come to a successful close.  It was a huge amount of music to perform.  Interestingly, there was a similarity to playing in a lounge:  everyone talked through much of the prelude music for each session.  That’s 105 minutes of music right there!  As a musician, you have to be philosophic about “talk-over”.  You’re putting your best out there, giving your all, and being ignored by many (most?).

When I was little, my mother practiced marches for Eastern Star, and I galloped around the living room rug.  I wanted nothing more than to be able to play that glorious music.  (Scot Joplin’s ragtime marches evoke the same joy for me.)  I begged for piano lessons for a year; when I was three years old, she gave in and let me begin.  Although I was trained as a classical pianist, this week’s performance goes back to the roots of my love affair with music.  This one’s a tribute to all the sacrifices my mother made to give me 15 years of piano lessons.  I only wish I could have achieved it in her lifetime.

Linda commented that she’d certainly recommend taking all the music I owned.  Well, Linda, I left a bit at home, but there was a triumph from taking all that I did.  Several years ago I attended a friendship exchange in Texas, where they were selling (among other things) a march written for Renee Ofton, who is about to become the international head of Eastern Star.  I read the music, and it was a good, catchy tune, so I bought it.  I have used it a lot since, so it was in the back of one of my music notebooks.  I had no idea Mrs. Ofton would be visiting our grand session this year!  When she was presented, I whipped out her march and played it.  Yes!  I couldn’t leave the piano, but DH was kind enough to take the march to Mrs. Ofton and get her very gracious autograph.  (I know, you’re mostly knitters, not musicians… so think the Yarn Harlot complimenting your socks!)

I have a few pictures to share with you,  but they are the ones that were taken with my camera.  DH took many beautiful pictures of me in my formals with his camera.  Unfortunately, he left the camera under his chair the last evening.  It may find its way home yet, as our members had to clear the hall of all our decorations.  Fingers crossed!

One of the perks of being a grand officer is getting a fancy door tag for your room.  It takes so little to make me happy!

Here is a picture of me, along with DD and DH, at the Saturday night banquet.  Yes, I  can get dressed up! 

Finally, here is a picture of the entire group of grand officers for our year. I’m in the front row, the second lady to the right of center, and wearing a long-sleeved blue shirt. The ladies’ shirts have an angel embroidered on the front and back shoulder (our theme mascot); the mens’ shirts have clowns on them, to honor the Shriner’s clowns. Last spring I did the machine embroidery for all of them, plus a shirt for each officer’s escort.  Now you know why there was a big gap in my knitting progress last year!

Music in the air

This week I am finalizing my music for performance next week at Louisiana Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star.  It will be four days of performance for me, and run the gamut from classical music for church services to Louisiana Jazz and Dixieland to entertain our out-of-state guests.  As you can imagine, my biggest problem is organization, and trying not to take every piece of music I own. I am very aware of time passing, so I won’t be posting much this week.  I’ll be away at Grand Chapter next week, then write all about it when I get home.

In between rehearsals I am continuing to work on the baby blanket for Emmanuel.  It is now up to 33 inches of the 40 inches for its finished length.   Hopefully I can get a bunch done as car knitting as we travel to Alexandria, LA for Grand Chapter.

How about a cat picture?  Here’s the entire “Pride”, declaring a truce and napping on DH’s lap as he naps, too. (Left to right, that’s Victoria, or “Torrie”, Minky, and Casper.)  Naps are a good thing…especially with cats to relax you.

Triumphant weekend for Meezermeowmy

As Garrison Keeler is wont to say about Lake Woebegone, “It’s been quite a week here”.  First, to tie up some loose ends.  The refrigerator is humming along, with ice cubes in abundance in its freezer, and the floor warm and dry.  All is well in my kitchen, and no hidden charges appeared in the repair process.  A compressor relay did die in the stress of repeatedly trying to bring up the compressor, but the repairman had one of those parts on his truck, and replaced it without additional charge.

Knitnana wanted photographic proof of the Oscar Meier weiner-mobile sighting. As Irish luck would have it, it was in town for the St. Patrick Day’s parade.  (No, I didn’t attend that rain-soaked event.  My deductions were prompted by the shamrock stickers on the windshield and all over the bun. ) We saw it one more time Sunday afternoon, and DH volunteered to circle the block and get a picture.  Thanks, honey.   I’m amused by the “sandwich” being in compliance with the One Way sign in the photo, even though it is in the parking lot.

My big social event this weekend was a tea honoring the Eastern Star state officers of our area .  As Grand Organist I was one of the honorees.   Our year is coming to a finish, with Grand Chapter in another week, so the reception was our final celebration.  This is the entire reception line.  I was a good girl, and put my knitting down for the occasion.   (I’m second from the right.)Here’s a closer shot.  I’m in the middle, surrounded by Susan, our Grand Marshal, and Faye, Friend of a Feather.

So many friends came to honor us.  Here I’m greeting Melanie and Norma.   Melanie is Worthy Matron of Baton Rouge Chapter.  Norma has served loyally as my Page this year.

The tea tables were lovely, decorated using a St. Patrick’s  Day theme. 

Knitting on the baby blanket hit high gear Sunday afternoon, and I’ve made it to 30 inches (out of 40).  Once more, Fr. Chad dropped a Sunday morning bombshell on us, announcing that the baby (a boy) had been born 9 weeks early. ( My first reaction was “No-o-o, he can’t be born yet, I have so much knitting left to do!”)   He will be called Emmanuel, and weighed in at 2.5 pounds.  Emmanuel is reported to be doing well, coming off pressurized oxygen already.  Mom is in intensive care with blood pressure problems, and the new Dad is wearing out his shoes pacing between the NICU and the ICU.  Please keep this family in your prayers.

Refrigerator 1, knitter 0

In the continuing saga, as they used to say on Electric Company, the repair man came yesterday.  He looked it over, and said it has a computer board that has gone stupid.  He took careful record of our model number, and said he would have to get a part.  Hopefully he will return with one today.

Meanwhile, I’m mopping water in front of the refrigerator again.  Ceramic tile floors are incredibly slippery when wet.  I usually find a puddle by slipping in the edge of it.  Surprise!   So no freezer, and possibly none all weekend.  The good news is he estimates $70 labor + $60 part.  That sure beats having to spend over a thousand dollars for a new refrigerator.  This one is only 5+ years old.

Yesterday, as I came down off Interstate 110 in Baton Rouge I saw in front of me something I had dreamed of seeing since I was a child.  It was the Oscar Meyer Wiener-mobile.  Now, I should explain that the Oscar Meyer Co. is headquartered in Davenport, IA.  We lived south of there, but close enough that WOC-TV in Davenport was our main channel.  I never got to see this fancy rolling hot dog in Iowa, but there it was in front of me!  I got so excited that I whipped out the cell phone and called DH.  The afore-mentioned repairman was just finishing up at the house, and in an extreme coincidence, the repairman had emigrated to Louisiana from Davenport 16 years ago.  Two Davenport connections in one hour!

Fast forward to 9 pm last night, when we were driving our daughter back to her apartment after an Eastern Star meeting.  There, in the parking lot of a hotel, was the Weiner-mobile for DH and our daughter to see, also.  Perfect end of a day where the appliance triumphed.

Today, we shall see!

Appliances vs. knitters

So what is it with appliances vs. knitters?  First the Harlot lost Mr. Washee, now she is doing battle with her dishwasher.  I could enjoy that from afar, but when the battle came to my own kitchen it wasn’t any fun anymore.

This very refrigerator, seen posing behind Casper, betrayed us yesterday.  (Why is the cupboard door open?  Because Casper opened it, that’s why.  He does that when he is bored…a lot!)It’s malfunction was discovered by DH, who walked through a puddle of ice water in front of the refrigerator.  That’s the same spot that the cats love because it is all warm and toasty and, well, dry.  Except it wasn’t any of those things.  The only warm and toasty spot was coming to be in the freezer.  That’s just so wrong!

DH, being an efficient geek, bless him, pulled out the appliance file with the extended warranty and made the call.  The clerk on the other end tried the ploy of speaking barely above a whisper at all times so he couldn’t be heard by mortal ears.  DH persevered, and got them to have their local service rep call.

Twenty-four hours later, when the call came, the freezer had revered to its proper frozen state, as if nothing had happened.  Drat!  DH told the service people that.  Would you believe they said “Ah, ha!  That means it is one of three parts.”  It seems to be a recognizable failure of the automatic defrost getting stuck.  They are to come out Thursday…we shall see.  Perhaps I could tempt fate and ask why my cold water dispenser puts out warm water?

Canadian visitors

Yesterday I knew there was someone new out by the lake because the neighborhood dogs set up quite a racket.  When the “barking” went on and on, I realized it wasn’t the dogs, but honking.  I rushed to the windows, and spotted this pair of Canadian geese sailing down our lake.  We rarely see such birds; the last pair was four years ago.  I didn’t dare go outside to take pictures, but relied on the telephoto lens of my camera from the safety of my bedroom “duck blind”.  As them came closer and closer, one of our resident mallard drakesseemed reluctant to challenge them.  He looked  like a small fishing boat watching a aircraft carrier steam by!

This morning, I was awakened at 5:15 by the geese honking.  I slipped out of our bedroom and watched from the keeping room window.  The pair of geese have been joined by five more.  Although they swam the lake in a beautiful line, they are certainly not a stealth squadron.  I’ll say this:  no one does travel commentary better than Canadian geese!  “Honk, honk, honk, honk, honk!”

I came to the half-way point of the yarn for the baby blanket last night.  As I spliced in the new skein, I took a progress measurement, and was pleased to find that I was at 20″, about half of the blanket.  I could have taken it to the School Board meeting, by the way.  The father-to-be had to miss the meeting.  Instead, I knit on a cap for the Christmas at Sea caps for lent drive, and finished the ribbing.

It was a party!

This weekend our grandson, Paul, celebrated his third birthday.  The weather was perfect for enjoying his first scooter, a gift from me and DH. We also got him a helmet and pads set.  One always worries if the child will accept wearing the safety gear.  As the pictures progress, you can see that we couldn’t get him to take them off!  Three cheers for Sesame Street characters portrayed as wearing helmets and pads as they bike and skate!

Paul figured out that if he stood on the scooter with both feet, he could get his Dad to push him.  It’s a good life!

Paul’s Grandmother Guillory brought a Bob the Builder quilt which was an instant hit, too. Paul set to arranging it on the floor so he could see it all.  Then he discovered the gift bag included some well-chosen books.  Those of you who have been disappointed by less-than-enthusiastic teenagers on gift giving occasions need to spend some time with a three-year-old. Paul loved everything, including some little trucks that kept him happy while the adults played Apples to Apples after dinner.

A third birthday isn’t the occasion for formal dining.  The boy graduated to a kitchen stool instead of a high chair for his birthday dinner, and he did a wonderful job.  Pizza was ordered as a special treat, which we all enjoyed.  Of course, birthday cake was the main focus. He has just discovered chocolate, so chocolate it was.  The “3” candle was recognized by the birthday boy (more kudos to Sesame Street).

Also enjoying the party were his Auntee Kathleen, who introduced his parents to each other, and his other grandmother, Stephanee. 

Knitting progress was made on Saturday, with car knitting as we drove to/from Vidalia, LA (near Natchez, MS.)   The baby blanket is up to 18″ long now.  I won’t be able to knit on it at the School Board meeting tonight because the father-to-be is also a member of the board.  I’ll record Dancing with the Stars to watch when I get home, and knit along then.

Who knew?!

Last year we attended the wedding of a middle-aged couple, whom I will call “Mr. and Mrs. N”.    Both bride and groom had been married before; in fact, she had a son in junior high, and his youngest was in high school, with one son at Harvard. Last summer, they became first-time grandparents when his daughter had a little girl.    We were happy that they had found each other, and have been pleased to see them settle in to the life of “old married people”.  The new family has become a fixture at church, where he serves many roles, including church treasurer, Lay Eucharistic Minister (LEM), and school board member.

Our paths cross a lot, as DH and I are also LEMs, and I also serve on the school board.    You’re wondering why I’m telling you all this, eh? Sunday, Fr. Chad announced that he wasn’t supposed to announce the fact, so he would just say that St. Patrick’s should be ready to throw a baby shower for them.  Talk about surprised – no one knew!  I was told last night that the due date for this baby is May.  Hey, you have to give a knitter more notice than that!  Mrs. N’s  a little chubby, and now that I know, I suppose she shows, but I hadn’t guessed.

Whip out the size 10’s, drop all sock knitting, and begin production on a baby blanket!  Actually, I found this pattern in my files, and I like it a lot.  It involves  a yo, slip one knitwise, knit two, then pass the slipped stitch over the two knit stitches.  This pattern unit moves over one stitch every other right-side row, giving the diagonal pattern.  Its texture is very pleasing to the eye and hand. 

There is a matching layette of sweater, booties, and cap that won’t be knitted, due to the short notice.  It probably would have been just the booties, anyway, for a May baby in Louisiana.  The blanket in white will be nice for the Christening.

A touch of Spring

It’s been a cold few days for us here in Louisiana, with night time lows around 32.  The weather really has rollercoaster highs and lows this time of year.  We check the morning news broadcast to see if it will be a furnace or airconditioner kind of day.  This weekend was forecasted to be strictly furnace, so I went out to take pictures of the neighborhood blooms before they could be hit with frost.

Perhaps you recall from an earlier post that DH’s favorite rose, his Rio Samba had produced the first rosebud of the season.  (DH’s only character flaw is his love of orange, from roses to cars. )  Sunday it was showing its true colors, and four more fat buds had joined it.

The front of our garage has Chinese Witch Hazel in bloom.  This bush, which would be as tall as the garage if we’d let it, blooms on new growth several times a year.  It is always a trade-off between quantity of bloom and loosing the front of the house to jungle.

Pink Azaleas compliment the Witch Hazel.  This bush is in front of  the window beside DH’s work bench.  The first blossoms are always visible from inside the garage, since that side of the bush is more sheltered.

Half a block down the street a neighbor has a nice corner of the house display that features Japanese Magnolia surrounded by miniature hot pink Azaleas.

I hope this touch of Spring has brightened the morning of my friends who got more than their share of snow yesterday.   The best news of all is that our cold snap didn’t harm any of the flowers.

Knitting Repurposed

Several years ago we were facing a bitterly-cold Christmas Eve.  I spent the afternoon knitting a cabled cloche to wear to midnight services.  The knitting was well executed, the hat was warm, and I looked…awful.  I  looked like a peeled onion!  Needless to say, that has has languished on the closet shelf.

Now I am gearing up to resume my other love in the world of fiber art, cross stitch embroidery.  DH has kindly ordered a Stitch Mate needlework floor stand.  It will allow me to do two-handed embroidery, and to flip the frame over to finish my work without having to unfasten the frame from the stand.  I’m ambidexterous, and I have always thought it was a real shame that I didn’t have the set-up to embroider two-handed – I should be so good at it.

But what about the knitting, you ask?  Well, I have a Dazor magnifying lamp on a floor stand.  It’s been my joy for about 20 years, and I’m still using the first bulb.  However, in our old house there was only one window/room, which I believe was the architect’s attempt to deal with our tropical heat.  I didn’t have to worry very much about direct sunlight hitting the magnifying lense and starting a fire.  Now the Dazor will be set up in our keeping room, which has four large windows, 2 south and 2 east.  I went on a dig through my bags in the closet, hoping to find something with a drawstring that would fit on the lamp.  Nothing would fit…but wait, that hat fell off the shelf as I rummaged.  Why not give it a try?  It fit, so I ran a ribbon drawstring around the edge, tied it in a bow, and said  the Meezer mantra:  I meant to do that!