Tag Archive | cold

Keep warm and well-fed

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” James 2:15-16

Our neighbor has hit a bit of a rough patch. Actually, his rough “patch” has lasted a couple of years and so far there’s no real end in sight. Man, we know how that goes. Do we ever. With the memory of our own rough patch in the not-so-distant past, we’ve been doing what we can to help out Mr. S. He has some specific dietary needs and not a lot of extra cash, so I try to make him a good, warm dinner at least once a week, knowing that most of the time he just kind of snacks on stuff or eats whatever he can find on sale. As the weather started turning this month, I became concerned that he might not be all that warm. Let’s just say that his accommodations leave something to be desired. And you know what? It stinks to wake up in the morning and be so frozen that you can’t bear to leave your bed and start the day.

These thoughts happened to coincide with the nearby grocery/department store having a small bin of yarn marked at 50% off clearance prices. Oh boy, you know I can’t resist that! I got three balls of Lion Brand “Amazing.” It’s a 53% wool/47% acrylic blend and for a “cheap” yarn, it really does feel amazing. I got it in the manly colorway of “Rainforest” — a mix of greens and browns.

First, I crocheted Mr. S a hat. There are a billion and one hat patterns out there, which should make it easy to find a suitable one, but sometimes it’s just overwhelming. I searched for a little while and then landed on this one: Carmel by Drops Design. It is single crocheted in the back loops all the way around to give it some texture.

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Close-up of the texture. The color isn't coming through right in the photo, though.

Close-up of the texture. The color isn’t coming through right in the photo, though.

For the gloves, I knew I wanted to make them fingerless so that Mr. S could enjoy the warmth, but still use his computer or phone, write, whatever. All those things that it’s nice to have fingertips for. There aren’t as many patterns for these as there are for hats, but there are still plenty to choose from. A lot of them, however, are awfully girly looking. Which is great if the future wearer is a girl. But my intended recipient is a man. Who works in construction. I wanted to be careful that there was no apparent sissiness. This pattern — Fingerless or Not — worked out great. The instructions were easy to follow and working the individual fingers was not as tricky as it seemed it would be. Mr. Gren was kind enough to model for us.

Backs

Backs

Palms

Palms

Creepy crawly hands

Creepy crawly hands

I put the hat and gloves in a paper sack, tied it with a ribbon and wrote “Happy Autumn” on it and left it where I knew Mr. S would find it when he got home. The next day, Mr. Gren received an email from him giving us an update on how he was doing — he was feeling pretty beaten up after some painful interactions with a loved one in his life, on top of the current financial stresses. Finding my little gift was a welcome pick-me-up. He said, “No one has ever knitted anything for me before. I will cherish them.” We’ll forgive him for confusing knitting and crochet and get to the heart of the sentiment: more than just warming his head and hands, my hat and gloves reminded him that not all is despair, he is worthy of care and love and someone recognized that.

So why am I telling you all this? Not to toot my own horn. Open your eyes to needs around you, especially as the weather is getting colder heading into winter. Make a warm meal for someone; volunteer at a homeless shelter; use your talents and abilities to bring a bright spot to someone’s otherwise dismal day. Go on, I challenge you.

Chilly morning

Although we aren’t dealing with temperatures like the Northern prairie states, it has been cold here for us! Several clear, cold days with a heavy frost is unusual here. I’m ready to get back to 40 degrees and rain!

Both of the girls needed scarves, so I’ve been working on those. I finished Rana’s yesterday and will shortly finish Granota’s. Konik insisted that he did not want a scarf; right now he’s more intent on me making him socks (I do have one in progress). I’ll post the finished scarves later this week. In the meanwhile…

Frost needles

Frost needles

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Frozen raccoon prints on the riverbank

Frozen raccoon prints on the riverbank

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The lull between projects

It’s another frigid day here, which means, once again, I am staying upstairs with only brief excursions back down to stoke the fire. It’s nice to be warm up here, but, let’s face it: after being up here for three or four days straight (I can’t remember; it all runs together), it starts to get boring. I need a new project, but it has to be portable. There are things in my mental queue — another Axl doll for a friend; different items of clothing I’d like to sew; my crayon drawing! But all of that requires being downstairs in the coldest corner of the cabin. Huh uh. Ain’t gonna happen. So that pretty much leaves me with crochet. The problem is, I don’t really have anything in mind. I’m itching to do something, but if there’s not a purpose behind it… well, it loses its appeal pretty fast. What do you do when you have a restless urge to create but no real direction?

My existence

My existence

Toasty warm

The cold weather kicked in all of a sudden up here. I noticed that the girls’ winter nightgowns were looking awfully short and snug (not in a good way). I’ve gotten several seasons of nightgowns from Simplicity 5118, even making tissue paper extensions when the girls outgrew the printed pattern.

But they’re both long past that now, so first I had to find a new pattern. I located McCall’s 6500 which was nearly identical to the previous one, just in larger sizes.

I don’t get the bunny.

The flannel selection at Joann’s was a little disappointing this year. I didn’t find anything that appealed to me, but once I laid eyes on the penguins, I knew that was the right choice. When I picked up Rana from school that afternoon, I showed her the fabric and was met with squeals of joy. Yep, right choice. Granota had a similar reaction when I got home.

Nice and long

Roomy for pulling legs up inside on a cold morning

I’ve made this so many times that I didn’t bother with the instructions. It’s a little freeing to just set to work, knowing exactly what to do. Both nightgowns were completed in two days. Breezing through a project like that got me in a productive sewing mood. I’ve got a dress for myself all cut out on my sewing table! If we can get this cabin warm enough so that I don’t feel paralyzed from the cold, I’ll finish that up this week.

I’m not kidding about the cold. Often, it’s about 52 degrees when we wake up in the morning. But at least the girls are warm at night in their flannel nightgowns (and the rest of us just pile on the blankets)!

Cold and dark

Last Wednesday evening, Mr. Gren and I were watching a movie when the lights started flickering. We gave each other a knowing look and made sure we had a flashlight nearby and candles within easy reach. When the lights go out in the country, it’s a complete blackness. We barely finished the movie when the power finally did go out. Time to go to bed! It came back on a couple of times through the night and Thursday morning we woke up to the heaters running. Mr. Gren started a fire and shortly afterwards, the power went out again. This time for good. The sun wasn’t quite up yet, but even with the sun, it stays pretty dark in the cabin with just four windows. We have a box full of votive candles that we bought at Ikea that turned out not to fit in any of our votive holders. But a quick raid of the recycling bin provided enough tin cans (tin cans again!) to hold candles, which we distributed in key places in the house. Knowing it was going to get cold soon without the heaters running, we put a gate on the stairs and kept the kids upstairs in the loft all day. By the end of the day, all of us except Granota were wearing three layers of clothing and a hat to keep warm. I have no explanation for her; she’s nuts.

It all started out so beautifully

Outside, things were even more exciting. We had had several inches of snow early in the week, but then Wednesday night the freezing rain started. All the majestic fir trees shrouded in their coats of snow were even further burdened by the layer of ice the rain had created. When we woke up Thursday morning, I commented to Mr. Gren that I had heard rifle shots in the woods. He listened again and said, “No, those are trees breaking.” Treetops, branches, and limbs cracked and broke in a rushing, rattling cascade of needles, ice and snow. It was actually fairly dangerous to be outside, although Mr. Gren and I did have to venture out a few times. The cabin is on well water, so when the power goes, so does the pump. I ran outside several times to fill pots with snow to later melt and use for washing-up water. Meanwhile, Mr. Gren had to make a few trips down to the river with a bucket to fill so that we could flush the toilets. All the while we could hear trees breaking near and far and when the first chunks of snow began to fall, we would hightail it to a clearing as fast as we could. Harder than it sounds when we’re surrounded by trees! It was an eery and disturbing sound. I stood out in a safe spot once and counted seconds between the cracking — trees broke every 5-30 seconds.

And then it got crazy out there

As you can imagine, all that damage worsened the power situation. Power lines were being pulled down all over the place, tree limbs were  in the roads and then… the rain came. Friday, it rained enough to melt the hold the ice had on the trees. Good for the trees, not good for anyone unfortunate enough to be under them. This time, there were no warning cracks before softball-sized chunks of ice cascaded down, pummeling anything below. Those suckers hurt. One got me on the shoulder as I struggled to tromp through half-frozen snow. All day in the cabin, the roof would rattle and shake; the children would stop playing and run to the window to see and marvel. It felt like we were under siege.

It missed our neighbors' house by about two feet.

Day number three without power, the wind came. The wind was both helpful and further damaging. Many of the branches that had broken two days earlier had gotten caught high up in the trees, on wires, or on our roof. The wind helped blow many of them down. But with it came more trouble for the work crews who were out night and day trying to restore electricity to hundreds of thousands of people. I don’t envy them their jobs (but maybe their overtime paychecks).

This one eventually ended up on the power line in front of the cabin

On the fourth day without power, we had some friends who invited us to stay with them until power was restored to the cabin. Really, we had been doing alright up in the loft, dimly lit with candles and an oil lamp. But it was such a relief to be someplace warm, to be able to see, to be able to flush the toilets, and to eat at the table without huddling in coats and stocking hats. Monday morning, Mr. Gren took Rana to school (which had regained power two days prior) and went on to check things at the cabin and was thrilled to find it toasty warm when he opened the door. The heaters had come on! The rest of us returned later that day. It took us some time to resume life as normal. I think we’re finally feeling like we’re back in the regular routine, though. All week I’ve felt like I’ve been playing catch up. So now you know where I’ve been! Next week I’m really going to try to get back on my regular schedule with some actual crafting!