Christmas is officially over at our house. We took down the tree and stowed it in the attic. Beth took off the ornaments, David took down the lights, and Jonathan took down the tree.

After that I went to Lowes and bought a couple of 1×12’s so we could use them as knot boards in Pathfinders. I have six members now that were not with us in January of last year, so I needed six new knot boards. Last year I started cutting these from lumber, whereas before we used poster board, or display boards. But those look tacky. With lumber, it’s something a person might want to hang up in their bedroom or in their office (which is where mine is).

Several of the knots are hitches though, meaning they have to be tied around something. Hard to do that on a board. I went out to my woods and found a small maple tree that had its top bent all the way to the ground. I cut it into 2 foot sections, and attached one to each knot board, suspending it from the top (or bottom) of the knot board with dowels. Kinda like a handrail along the top. The kids can tie their hitches to that.

We will continue with the knots next week, but I need to buy more rope. I also need to cut it into pieces (with the ends taped) ahead of time, as I felt I spent twice as much time taping and cutting lengths of rope as I did teaching kids to tie knots. We only managed to get through four knots that way, and those were the easy ones!


I love the holidays, especially when I’m not selling citrus in the freezing cold wind. I stayed in bed today until breakfast was ready (pancakes! my favorite!) Then I surfed the web for a bit and worked on the scarf I am knitting. This is my first knitting project, which I’m working on so I can earn the Pathfinder Knitting honor. I’ll still need to knit a second item as well.

I did a little reading in Wikipedia on knitting, because I wasn’t sure if I was creating a stockinette stitch or a garter stitch. Turns out, it’s a stockinette, which is unfortunate. Once I figured out that’s what I was doing, I read further:

Stockinette-stitch fabric is very smooth and each column (“wale”) resembles a stacked set of “V”‘s. It has a strong tendency to curl horizontally and vertically because of the asymmetry of its faces.

Yeah, it has that tendency, and I can attest that it is quite strong. Oh well. I should have used the garter instead. I had originally intended to use an all together different pattern, but I’m pretty sure I was doing it wrong – all the way wrong. It was turning out to be a mess. I experimented, but eventually gave up, turning to something simple (with a strong tendency to curl). Anyhow, this scarf is nearly a foot long now I guess.

If I can master some of these other techniques, maybe my next project will be a viking hat complete with horns. But that might be a wee bit on the ambitious side. But if I could pull that off, it might make a decent fundraiser for our mission trip. Or not. I’m pretty sure I’ll be pulling far less than minimum wage if I try to knit my way to Latin America.

Beth and I went over to our next-door neighbors’ house. I’ve only met them once, but thought it would be good to bring them a gift basket of oranges. Selling them in ten degree weather makes you think of all kinds of reasons you should buy them, and gifts to neighbors you don’t really know ranks pretty close to the top of that list. We rang the bell and the door was answered by the woman of the house with a two-year old in tow. She thanked us for the fruit and then told us that they had all come down with some sort of bug last night and hadn’t even opened their presents yet. They must feel pretty bad!

Then we went to Don and Melissa’s house (behind us) with their platter of oranges. They invited us in and I sat down and visited for a bit. Penny had followed us there and was barking every now and again to remind me that she was out there and wanted in. But we didn’t give in! Melissa told me that the sick neighbors had the pukes and were out of clean sheets. She had offered to bring them some clean ones, but they declined, and since they were already friends with them before they moved in, I figured they wouldn’t accept clean sheets from us either (or I would have offered).

After 20 minutes or so, Penny started howl-barking as if to warn off an intruder. Yeah, it’s a different sound compared to the “let me in the house” bark. I decided it was time to go, because I didn’t want Penny eating any of our neighbors’ guests!

We hiked back down to the house and chillaxed a little more. I did more knitting. And then I went to the attic and insulated two more rafter’s. Well, maybe that’s three rafters, I dunno. I was two rows of insulation, and two rows fit between three rafters. That took me all the way to the north wall of the house. I also started on that wall a bit, but didn’t finish it. After all, I was chillaxin. While I was up there I found I had eight more rolls of insulation than I thought I did. It was neatly stacked behind the stack I could see, but since it is piled up against a sloping ceiling, it wasn’t as high, and I didn’t see it until tonight.

I will need to buy another 48 rolls or R13 to finish the job, and I plan to do that before the end of the year so we can claim it on our taxes.

I didn’t have to go to work today. I stayed in bed until 9:00 which felt great. When I got up, I puttered around the house for a bit, and then around noon we all piled in the car and went to Pizza Hut for lunch. Then we did some shopping, which is crazy, I know. But it wasn’t too bad. The kids bought gifts to exchange with one another, and they also bought a few small things for Va and me. Then we came home and quickly cleaned the house so it wouldn’t look too deplorable for photography. The kids quickly wrapped the gifts, and then we opened them.

We did end up getting Jonathan a laptop, even though he has not yet graduated. He has done everything possible up to now anyhow. He’s waiting on teachers, and I expect he’ll be finished next week sometime. Or the next. Anyhow, he had the laptop for less than an hour before he had Linux running on it. Then he started moving his files from his old clunky desktop to his sleek new lappy.

All the kids seem happy. What more could a person ask for Christmas?

Today we did a bit of Christmas shopping. David got a replacement Nintendo DS, and Beth got her very first one. We offered her a choice between a DS and horse riding lessons this spring/summer. I was kinda surprised at her choice, but the “right now” thing is pretty strong in an eight year old. I just thought the horse thing might have been stronger.

We plan to get Jonathan a laptop as a combination Christmas/graduation gift. But he has to graduate first. That’s part of the deal. He was none too happy with us tonight for sticking to that plan. He’s close, but he’s not there yet. He’ll make it before the spring semester starts though. He’s going to take classes at the community college for this spring, and maybe next fall he’ll go elsewhere. We’ll see.

After shopping, we ate at Applebees, and then I headed to the church to meet the crew from Portsmouth. The arrived at the arranged time, and David and I helped load their fruit. Then we hung around waiting for the Pathfinder meeting to start.

During the meeting we wrapped up several trays of fruit into “giftable” packages. We’ll try to sell that at Sam’s Club tomorrow. And keep at it until it’s either all gone or we bump into Christmas. At that point, anything that’s left goes to the homeless shelter.

Here’s one way to make sure your Christmas tree doesn’t tip over:

Christmas tree stand being nailed to the floor

Nail it to the floor!

I’ve been doing it this way for several years now, and it works very well, even with rambunctious kids and dogs underfoot. It’s impossible to see the nail holes when I take the tree down, because the carpet covers it quite well. If I do this for another 20 years though, I’m bound to start finding old nail holes. Oh well. Maybe when the rambunctious family members move out I can quit doing this.

I noticed this morning that the snow on my roof over the attic stairway is quite a bit deeper than it is elsewhere. That used to be the first place to melt. This change can only be because of the insulation I added there. It drives home the need of finishing that job. I’d like to get it done this year, but we’ll have to see how that plays out. I have several other demands for my attention (besides my kids).

  • Develop a web site for selling fruit to the public
  • Implement a web filter at the school.
  • Knit a scarf

Yeah, I’m still trying to learn how to knit. I made pretty good progress on it yesterday, but I am seriously thinking I should just start over. I made the first row way too wide, covering the entire length of the needle with the loops compressed together. From what I can tell, that compression was roughly 50% of the natural width of the resulting knit, and that makes for a scarf about 18 inches wide. It would be a lot faster (and use half the yarn) if I just started over on that.

I think my strategy is going to be to work on the tech tasks first, and then use the knitting to clear my head before bedtime. That way I won’t lie awake all night thinking about solving intractable tech problems. Maybe.

We opened our presents last night, and everyone seemed pretty happy with what they got. Besides my new camera, I got some moccasin slippers which are nice and cosy. We were in Target yesterday and Jonathan picked out a pair of headphones for himself (his were broken). SO we had to tell him he might want to put them back and wait to see what Santa brought him. Surprise!

This morning I slept until 10:00am. Beth woke me up so I could watch her horse show (we had gotten her a pretend horse for Christmas for her dolls). The horse show lasted about a minute (the rider was thrown).

After the horse show, I got busy working on the snowblower. I cut the caulk gun apart and fashioned a clutch handle from it. Then I installed it and replaced the bolts on the scoop guide. I now have a working clutch! (Thanks for the prompting Dad.)

Caulk gun clutch handle

Caulk gun clutch handle

The hardest part of this for me (aside from actually doing it) will be throwing away the parts of the caulk gun I did not end up using. I know I will never have a use for any of it, but… springs! levers! Arrrgghhh!

After that, Daniel (David’s friend) came over and they wanted to go sledding. I thought that was a fine idea, but Va had just thrown Beth’s coat and snow pants into the washing machine. I told them we could go after lunch.

And we did! Beth, David, Daniel, and Penny all piled into the car and I took them to Tilton. They have a legendary sledding hill right downtown, but I hadn’t ever been to it, or even know exactly where it was. There were maybe another dozen sledders there. The sledding lived up to its reputation too. Penny got plenty of exercise chasing David and Daniel down the hill (with a stick in her mouth, as is her regular practice). I went down a couple of times, and on my second trek back up the hill happened to spot some car keys in the snow. They were mine! I’m sure I had lost them on the first trip down, and I was very thankful to have found them – even before I knew they were lost!

The citrus company called me today. Pioneer must have ordered more fruit just like I did, and their final tally exceeded ours. So I get to go to Keene to pick up the fruit next week. Oh well. I am not complaining though, because this is still the biggest fruit order we have ever placed.

Today after work I went home and helped get the house in order before sunset. Then Beth read us all a story about a guy who built chipmunk houses. I don’t think I would ever do that. Yes, they are cute, but they have a tendency to overpopulate (they’re rodents after all!) and then they start digging up the flower beds.

Then I took the kids, three dozen cookies, and a gazillion brownies (all baked by my lovely bride) to the church where we met Cheryl and Dirk (Cheryl was the Pathfinder director before me). We wrapped the cookies and brownies on some trays, and I put them in a tub for safe keeping until tomorrow. We will take them to all the fire and police stations in Concord after potluck tomorrow when we go caroling.

That’s about it for tonight! Thank you both for reading!