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Mistr's Yule Cheer Challenge


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Maintaining good cheer through the holiday season is a real challenge for me. My goal for this challenge is to stay cheerful for myself and pleasant to the people around me.

 

In past years, I have stressed out about getting presents for people and doing All The Things. That pressure is lower now that almost all my nieces and nephews are grown up. My household does not celebrate Christmas. We usually have a very relaxed celebration for Yule, as close to winter solstice as feasible. This year has some new twists.

 

Travel

The challenge is starting and ending with travel. After my last trip this fall, I said I did not want to go anywhere for the rest of the year. That is flying out the window. I have taken steps to make these trips as enjoyable as possible, under the circumstances

 

Trip Alpha

This weekend Dumbledore and I are going back to LA to help our elderly friend move into senior housing. She has movers coming on Monday. Our job will be to help pack the remaining things before the movers arrive, then unpack after they leave. She is terribly disappointed that her nephews (who live nearby) are not willing to help her at all with this. Dumbledore and I are trying hard to stay out of the family drama that is happening.

 

Dumbledore offered to go by himself, which was really sweet of him. I said that if he was going, we would both go. I am much happier about driving in LA traffic than he is.  Having both of us there gives us better reasons to go and do things on our own rather than staying in the stressful environment of the house. We got a nicer hotel room and a smaller car for this trip. There is a YMCA in the neighborhood and Dumbledore has resolved to go and work out. I might go to the Y or I might make use of the exercise area at the hotel.  I printed out a bunch of patterns for crochet snowflakes so I have a fun project to work on. Entirely frivolous and easily given away as gifts. 🎅I am going to take my stalled knitting project, just in case I get inspired. I hope we are not going to try to meet up with other people this trip because that took hours of driving last time. I would rather go for walks or relax in the hotel room.

 

Trip Omega

We will be going to visit my mom for Christmas. My brother's divorce has left her all alone this holiday season. My brother and his new fiancee are going out of town to visit her family. Apparently none of his kids are interested in visiting Grandmy. I find that sad, because they spent every Christmas Eve together while the kids were growing up. Mom was worried she would be all alone for the first time in her life. I am being a dutiful child and coming to visit. I am expecting a command performance of doing things her way and looking happy about it.

 

My first step in making this a good trip was reserving a room at a hotel we like that has a hot tub. We will work on scheduling time to visit with friends and with Dumbledore's brother and his family.  Having them in town is a great reason to spend only part of the weekend with my mom.  I get along with her fine on my own, but she rubs Dumbledore the wrong way. We will invite Elf and Cleo to come along, but I doubt they will accept.

 

Mid-December 

In the two weeks and two days between trips, I have several high priority items

  • Sleep. Getting enough sleep makes being cheerful much easier. :D
  • Rest and reflect. I have noticed that I cannot push myself to do things like I did so much over the last few years. My brain just rebels. It turns out that a lot of the things were rules I made up for myself that are not actually necessary. I want to give myself time to sit still, to read, and to ponder what is going on with my life.
  • Make rosettes. I promised these to my spinning group. I will make a bunch and send them to my brothers and take some to mom. My grandma used to make them for us at all the holidays.
  • Scrub my new hakama. I just purchased a traditional Japanese hakama that is indigo dyed. This is my first new hakama in 20 years. I went for the heavier (and more expensive) fabric, so I hope this will last me another 20 years. The problem is that indigo is a pigment dye and it sheds. I don't know how the tailors deal with it - my hands got blue just taking it out of the package. Maybe it was dyed after sewing, but I don't think so. I have washed it twice already (by hand) and it still left blue splotches on the mat last night. You could see exactly where I was taking falls. My dojo is getting a new mat in January and firmly said that any indigo hakama must be non-shedding by then. My weapons partner gave me tips on how to scrub it to get the loose dye out.

 

That is it. I am not going to try to fit in anything else. I may not even get gifts for Dumbledore and Elf, although I will keep my eyes open. I will do zen if I feel like it. I have not done that for a week. So far, I am not noticing a difference. I feel like the zen is great when I have enough slack in my day, but not essential when I don't. Who knows, I may turn out to be wrong about that. Right now I would rather get to the dojo as often as I can.

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You've probably said a million times, but which martial art do you study?
 

I really like the way you've let the trips bookend your challenge, and the way you're approaching rest, relaxation, and cheerfulness.

Merry Yule!

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1 hour ago, Mistr said:

I may not even get gifts for Dumbledore and Elf, although I will keep my eyes open.

 

May I suggest the nominal gift of a family event in the form of a DVD of Hogfather for the family and a pannetone, or something? All the fun of opening a couple of seasonal boxes, none of the actual effort. (How would Elf feel about some Choco Musk?) ;)

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I would love to just be able to celebrate Yule, unfortunately my in-laws are all about Christmas...

I'm imagining you looking like a smurf when you took off the hakama :D please tell me this was a thing! 

RES...and I want to live days worth dying for

Current: RES: SET but not always ready

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Growth happens when you care more about the well being of your future self than the comfort of your present self!

"Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is." -Yoda

 

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I went for a walk before work, which was lovely (and chilly). I am going to do holiday shopping on the way home. I have work to thank for getting me to shop so early. My team is sponsoring gifts for a needy family, and the LGBLTQ+ group is sponsoring a donation box. Both of those are due early next week. I will take advantage of being at Costco to pick up boxes of fancy cookies for the neighbors.

 

Things are starting to look up at my work. Our two newest people finished training this week. The schedule for next week looks better than it has in three years, even with people out. I am seeing a glow that might not be a train.

 

4 hours ago, Heidi said:

You've probably said a million times, but which martial art do you study?

 

Aikido

 

4 hours ago, sarakingdom said:

May I suggest the nominal gift of a family event in the form of a DVD of Hogfather for the family and a pannetone, or something? All the fun of opening a couple of seasonal boxes, none of the actual effort. (How would Elf feel about some Choco Musk?) ;)

 

Hmmm. Elf might like Choco Musk. We already have a pannetone sitting on the kitchen island. We watched Hogfather together last year, so I'm pretty sure it is in Dumbledore's subscription to Netflix or Amazon Prime.

 

So your ideas are on target, but not timely for this year. Spa things tend to be good for Elf. Dumbledore is difficult because he buys the stuff he wants.

 

2 hours ago, RES said:

I would love to just be able to celebrate Yule, unfortunately my in-laws are all about Christmas...

I'm imagining you looking like a smurf when you took off the hakama :D please tell me this was a thing! 

 

🤣😆🤣 My weapons partner said it looked like I had strangled a smurf after I tied my hakama yesterday.

 

I did not look like a smurf because all the blue was on the lower part of my gi top. I was wearing blue leggings on purpose so they didn't show anything. I gave up on regular gi pants a while back. Leggings are much more comfortable.

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2 hours ago, Mistr said:

Dumbledore is difficult because he buys the stuff he wants.

D bans any personal purchases for everyone after August because birthdays/holidays....it really does help. This started after I bought myself a few things she had planned on getting me for the holiday :lol:

 

2 hours ago, Mistr said:

Leggings are much more comfortable.

This is never not true.

 

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RES...and I want to live days worth dying for

Current: RES: SET but not always ready

Spoiler

Growth happens when you care more about the well being of your future self than the comfort of your present self!

"Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is." -Yoda

 

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7 hours ago, Mistr said:

Dumbledore is difficult because he buys the stuff he wants.

 

Yes I have this problem with Mr Harriet.

 

7 hours ago, Mistr said:

 

🤣😆🤣 My weapons partner said it looked like I had strangled a smurf after I tied my hakama yesterday.

 


Lol perfect

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Let cheese and oxen and mead crowd out our secret desires for power and domination - Harriet the Viking

Just be bold, fluid and unapologetic, not small, hairy and indecisive - Harriet the Artist

You can absorb me! - Harriet the Contextless Guru

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22 hours ago, RES said:

D bans any personal purchases for everyone after August because birthdays/holidays....it really does help. This started after I bought myself a few things she had planned on getting me for the holiday :lol:

 

We do this in my family too. We also have a long standing tradition of wish lists, that we all email out to each other by Thanksgiving or so, to make the gifting easier to for everyone. if someone cannot be bothered with a list... well, Amazon sells gift cards. ;) 

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Here to follow! 💜

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“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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On 12/1/2023 at 8:12 PM, Scaly Freak said:

 

We do this in my family too. We also have a long standing tradition of wish lists, that we all email out to each other by Thanksgiving or so, to make the gifting easier to for everyone. if someone cannot be bothered with a list... well, Amazon sells gift cards. ;) 

Oh I like that idea!

RES...and I want to live days worth dying for

Current: RES: SET but not always ready

Spoiler

Growth happens when you care more about the well being of your future self than the comfort of your present self!

"Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is." -Yoda

 

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On 11/30/2023 at 6:32 PM, Mistr said:

So your ideas are on target, but not timely for this year. Spa things tend to be good for Elf. Dumbledore is difficult because he buys the stuff he wants.

I am finding more and more that thing-oriented presents are hard to find for people and don't really get appreciated (as they have bought the things they want). The best-received gift I ever gave was ziplining passes for the whole family, so that the present was time together doing something fun. I am not going to do that this year as I have specific things in mind for my two main giftees, but something like cross-country ski passes followed by something warm and delicious is very tempting for future years.

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How come my comment is not here yet? Aa I know that day I was so tired I only wrote a comment in Harriet's thread and fell asleep and then I dreamt of Harriet and monkeys... And didn't get to write a comment here even though it was in ny plans xD

 

Good luck with your new challenge! It has such a holiday vibe, the travelling, focus on enjoying life, knitting (will you make some sweaters as Christmas gifts?). Sometimes we're so focused on our goals we forget to just enjoy ourselves and smell the roses, right? 

 

It's great you have more new staff at work. Finally! 

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Veni, vidi, vici. 

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Trip Alpha Report

 

I spent four days in sunny southern California last weekend. Overall, it was a successful trip.  The flights were smooth and uneventful. Our elderly friend (Dumbledore's unofficial grandmother) got moved.

 

Detailed version:

We went into the trip with the intention of staying in a hotel with more amenities and blocking out time to exercise. Those things did not work as planned. The hotel had good reviews, but in real life was not a step up from the place we stayed last time. It did indeed have a pool and hot tub - outside. The included breakfast was minimal. The exercise room was closed for maintenance the first two days we were there. On the plus side, our room had a table with two chairs and it was quiet. The location was close to a lot of restaurants, but not close to parks or neighborhoods for walking.

 

Dumbledore went to the YMCA on Saturday. I stayed in the hotel and took some much needed down time. Spending all Friday afternoon and evening crammed in planes with bunches of people got to me more than I expected. I watched a video tutorial for the crochet snowflake I was making.  That's what she meant by "in the same stitch"! The vocal instructions are in Russian, but the demonstration is clear. I almost learned the Russian terms for double crochet and half-double crochet and a new stitch. :D 

 

Our plans to go for walks were foiled by the sun setting early and our friend wanting us to spend time with her.  We found coffeehouses to hang out at in the evenings. Dumbledore worked on his projects and I made more snowflakes. I am so glad I found patterns and brought them with for a travel project. I had five patterns and four balls of crochet cotton, so I had some variety. I made three of the Adele pattern (the first trial one and two more after I figured out what the designer meant), in three different yarns, and two others. Snowflakes are fancy enough to be interesting and small enough to be satisfying.

 

The main event was getting our friend packed to move. She thought she did not have very much stuff. That was true. Some of it was even packed before we got there. Even so, there was a lot to pack. Dumbledore concentrated on sorting and packing things that needed to be shipped to other people. We had worked on these boxes back in September and talked with her about donating the historical things she did not want to keep. She made no progress on getting those things out of her house. 🙄 I worked on packing the kitchen things. One of her friends came over on Sunday and helped a lot too. She brought a bunch of cooked meals so that our friend would not need to cook for several days. The two of them marked furniture with signs saying "Move" or "Stay". That last bit was necessary because our friend has been living with her sister, who is moving to a different senior apartment. The movers needed an easy way to tell what was going.

 

The big day was scheduled for Monday. That did not happen because our friend does not answer calls from unknown numbers, and the mover did not leave a message. She was going back and forth with the office asking when the truck would get there. The dispatcher said that the driver had called five times and could not reach her, so he went to another job. 😦 Of course, he was calling from his cell phone, which had a different area code. Instead of having a flurry of activity on Monday, Dumbledore went to the post office to ship boxes and I sat around and crocheted. We took one load of fragile things over to the new apartment.

 

On Tuesday, we were better prepared. We got up early, packed our stuff, checked out of the hotel, went out for breakfast, and got to our friend's house by 8:30am. She had already talked to the dispatcher and confirmed that the movers were coming. Dumbledore asked to look at her phone. He found the missed call from the driver and called him to confirm. That was the most essential thing we did the whole trip.

 

We also went to the grocery store to pick up a few things. Our friend wanted to get bread and half & half for her sister. Right when the movers were supposed to show up. The movers did indeed arrive before we got back from the grocery store. We made sure they knew which things were going before we left for the airport. I was relieved to hear that everything went smoothly when I talked with her that evening. She had friends coming over the next day to help her unpack.

 

By the way, two of her nephews stopped by on Sunday afternoon to visit her sister. Neither of them offered to help our friend or asked how she was doing with her moving plans. Confirmation that we made the right decision in making this trip.

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Level 75  Viking paladin

My current challenge  Battle log 

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You're very kind and thorough and your friend benefitted greatly from that. I hope she thanked you. ❤️

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Past Challenges: #1, #2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10#11#12#13#14#15#16

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“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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On 12/9/2023 at 9:37 AM, Harriet said:

Will you have some downtime to recover from this trip and the packing /moving?

 

Yes, I am taking downtime between trips. In a typical year I would try to do a lot of holiday baking and get stressed out. This year I bought gifts for the neighbors. I might make quince paste and jelly next weekend because I still have quinces and it would be something unusual I could give my BFF. Or I might make chocolate truffles if the quinces have gone bad. I could even make buckeyes if I am going to make a batch of tempered chocolate for coating truffles. We shall see. I might just relax and buy peppermint bark from Costco.

 

This morning I have more energy than I have had in months. Not bouncing off the walls, but enough to do strength training before work. It has been ages since I have had the get-up-and-go to do that.

 

I got two of my challenge goals accomplished this weekend and made progress on the third. That makes me feel a lot better the next 10 days leading up to the holidays.

  • Rosettes are done. Making them was far more of a challenge than I expected. First off, I could not find my rosette irons in the box of seasonal cooking stuff. After freaking out, I found them in the bottom of the pantry next to the deep fat fryer (which I never use). Then I let the fat overheat while I was working on getting lumps out of the batter. I had to air out the house and make another trip to the grocery store for fresh lard and a new deep-fat frying thermometer, since the first one broke when I overheated it. 🙄 After that, things went smoothly. I taught Elf and Cleo how to make rosettes. Neither one of them had ever seen them. I will take this batch to spinning tonight and to work tomorrow. I will make another batch next weekend to take to my family. These taste right, but the texture is not crispy enough. I think the batter was too thick.
  • Scrubbed my hakama. I got a lot of indigo dye out of it. There was still blue coming out after three rinses. Blue like new blue jeans, and not the pre-faded kind. I am going to iron it and wear it this week for practice, but I expect it needs more work. Some of my spinning friends are experienced dyers. Hopefully they will have advice.

I made progress on the sleep goal too. Last week was not great. On Friday night I slept 9.5 hours. Apparently I was more behind than I thought. I will see if I can do better during the week this week.

 

 

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On 12/11/2023 at 12:22 PM, Mistr said:

In a typical year I would try to do a lot of holiday baking and get stressed out. This year I bought gifts for the neighbors. I might make quince paste and jelly next weekend because I still have quinces and it would be something unusual I could give my BFF. Or I might make chocolate truffles if the quinces have gone bad. I could even make buckeyes if I am going to make a batch of tempered chocolate for coating truffles. We shall see. I might just relax and buy peppermint bark from Costco.

 

Hear here. I usually get roped into making pierogi with my Sci Fi friends around this time of year, except it's not just for us, it's for their neighbors, and as someone who doesn't care about their neighbors, I find it to be a stressful, stupid time. I get paid in pierogi, which helps some, but I definitely get what you're saying as far as that kind and quantity of work being stressful.

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On the general holiday cheer theme, here are the snowflakes I made on my trip.

 

CFkbpMQ.jpg

 

More process photos under the cut

Spoiler

Before washing and blocking. One of the balls of yarn had some pink stuff on it. Happily, it washed out.

C3ZnvTJ.jpg

 

After washing, I soaked them in a heavy starch solution. Next step is blocking.

5khp9OH.jpg

 

All those little loops turn into features after they are stretched out and pinned. This is the top snowflake in the photo below.

 

P8lxHg0.jpg

 

I used three different types of yarn. The one at the top has a shiny silver strand in it. The one on the right is more cream than white and is shinier. The lower one is plain white and the same weight as the white/silver yarn. I found the thinner yarn was less fun to work with. I would only use that if I needed to make smaller snowflakes. The pattern is identical for the lower snowflake and the one on the right. The size difference comes from using a thinner yarn and smaller hook.

 

Overall, the white/silver yarn was the winner. The metalic strand makes it scratchy, but that is fine for a decoration.

 

 

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Those are BEAUTIFUL!!

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RES...and I want to live days worth dying for

Current: RES: SET but not always ready

Spoiler

Growth happens when you care more about the well being of your future self than the comfort of your present self!

"Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is." -Yoda

 

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The snowflakes look great. And the magic transformation that occurs with blocking never ceases to please. 

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Let cheese and oxen and mead crowd out our secret desires for power and domination - Harriet the Viking

Just be bold, fluid and unapologetic, not small, hairy and indecisive - Harriet the Artist

You can absorb me! - Harriet the Contextless Guru

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I sat zen today for the first time in a couple weeks. I did not notice any obvious change in my mental state from not sitting zen. Today I had a choice of what to do at lunch time. It was nice out so going for a walk had appeal, or I could have done yoga. Sitting still for half an hour felt like the best choice. I will see how I feel about zen over the next several days and weeks. Maybe I will be more willing to do it if I don't feel like I have to.

 

I went to aikido Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday was a low-key class working on difficult fundamental concepts. Wednesday was basic class with more movement. I am still feeling like my major challenge is taking falls and getting up smoothly. Doing technique has plenty of challenging bits too, but I am less worried about that. Getting back in shape to have control over my own body is my current goal.

 

I wore my new hakama both days and it did not leave a trail of blue smudges across the mat. So far as I can tell. There are blue smudges from last week and from other people's new hakama already there. I am going to wash and iron it again tomorrow. Hopefully that will take care of the indigo problems. I will also get in as much practice as I can.

 

Work has calmed down to the point where I can work on the things that have been on hold. It feels weird. I hope this lasts for a while.

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Your snowflakes are lovely! You have a lot of skill!

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Past Challenges: #1, #2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10#11#12#13#14#15#16

Current Challenge: #17

 

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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