I love my husband’s family, big time. They’re nerdy and weird and funny in the same ways my husband is, and so we all get along pretty nicely. The SIL’s husband is a little more mainstream, but we’re slowly teaching him how awesome weird folk are (he’s got an impressive Star Wars memorabilia collection, so it’s not a difficult task).
I already posted about meeting The Most Awesomest Baby in the Universe (after now to be known as MABU on the blog). What I didn’t post was the rest of the vacation, which involved, among other things, taking MABU to Hampden to see the Christmas lights (along with pretty much every other non-church-going heathen in Baltimore; seriously, there were hundreds of people out at 9pm on Christmas Eve).
The tree to the right is my favorite of all. It’s made out of hubcaps. Lots and lots of hubcaps. The folks who make it are artists, and I bought a gift for a friend inside their living room. (The houses are tiny but way cool.)
WH’s sister and her family are awesome:
If a little freezing at that point. MABU had just woken from a nap, and wasn’t entirely sure what to make of everything. BIL bought me a hot chocolate later. He was disappointed that the hot dogs from the previous year were not present. He ate some peanut butter cookies instead.
The lights are one of my favorite things about Baltimore at Christmastime. People all over the city have crazy decorations up, but this one little street in Hampden goes all out (and that’s pronounced “ham-den” for you non-Baltimorons). There are kooky over-the-top decorations all along the street. The two houses on the end are the most over-the-top:
One has all the moving yard decorations sold over the past 10 years. The other has a working model train that runs on a track around the porch (it used to be through the living room in years past; I’m not sure if it still goes there).
The other things are great, too, if not as over-abundant. There’s a palm tree wired into the main power line:
A Santa-thulu coming out of a front yard:
And the ubiquitous Baltimore crab:
There were lots of other good things, though not as photogenic. On the ride up, I brought my usual 10 knitting projects (okay, so only 5, but you get the point) and finished, as usual, only one. My Rose Red hat was finished last year, but I knit the brim too loose, and have been meaning to re-knit it to fit for a while. So on the Amtrak on the way up I ripped out the band and re-knit it. It was good, because the train was chilly and I ended up wearing the hat the whole week. Here it is post-finishing:
And the look I sported all holiday:
It doesn’t look so spiffy with earmuffs over it, but they keep out the wind better. I’m working on Ishbel right now. So far I’ve discovered that Ysolda’s patterns are all loose, and that I need to either go down a needle size or knit the smallest size possible. Maybe I’ve got a tiny head. At any rate, I’ll need to rip back what I’ve knit of Ishbel in order to get a hat band that fits on my head better. I’m knitting it in Skinny Bugga, Owl Moth (I think). It should be stunning.
The train was lovely on the way up:
Once we arrived, it was a flurry of going to and fro, shopping and visiting. After visiting the SIL and family, we went to the National Cathedral, since I don’t think any of us had been there before. It was also lovely.
We stayed for 10 minutes or so of vespers, which took care of my need for a Christmastime church service. It’s more of a family ritual need than anything, at this point, but it’s still fairly strong. I look forward to the carols and the incense, and the expectant feeling of a new beginning, even if the rest isn’t as meaningful to me anymore. The National Cathedral is traditional enough, though, that 10 minutes of vespers is completely sufficient.
The day before we’d gone out shopping and had chaat for lunch at my favorite local chaat stand (actually, the only local chaat stand, but whatever). It will soon be a full restaurant, but they’ll still sell pani puri and dosas. Yum. On the way out, we saw and ad for Desi Bazaar, which said they were doing a big sale, so we drove the 1/4 mile to check it out. It is an excellent shop. Great prices, happy smiling clerks, and loads of handlooms and brocades. It is very hard to find decent handlooms in the states (or at lease where I’ve had the opportunity to look), so I was super-excited. The clerk was surprised that I knew the difference between salwar and churidaar, a kurta and an anarkali, and I couldn’t really figure out a good way to explain that didn’t make me seem like a total creep, so I just said “I shop at Indian shops a lot.”
In the end, I came out of the shop with two lovely new sarees, one that’s a teal and purple cross-shot cotton with narrow zari borders and a beautiful zari pallu:
(which I realize now you can’t see in the photo). The other is a kanchipuram silk ikat with a wide zari border and red pallu. It’s especially luxurious, as half the threads are silk and half are cotton. I deliberated for a good 20 minutes before deciding on both of them, leaving behind a good four or five excellent choices at the store. There was another kanchipuram in a mustard color, and a mustard-colored cross shot, the fraternal twin of the teal one. I’ll have to model them later. Each has a blouse piece attached, so there will need to be some stitching done (I know of a seamstress I can call, if I can find her information). The blouse pieces are each very plain versions of the main body of the sarees. I’m going to look through blouse designs I like so I can take a reference with me. Yay! So exciting.
So if you’re interested and are in the B’more area, this is the shop:
I did some pretty deft haggling, so please go buy things and help them stay open (plus help alleviate my sense of guilt by telling me you did so).
Then there was Christmas, when we opened some SIL and family gifts, due to the fact that MABU was teething and consequently unhappy. The SIL and family went to visit BIL’s family that afternoon, so husband and I opened our gifts. I re-wrapped WH.
He looks far happier about it than he actually was. I bought him several flashlights, and then his mother bought him several, so we have lots of flashlights now. Which is good, because before then we only had one small, ineffective flashlight.
Among the gifts was a rockin’ soft bathrobe from WH’s grandmother, and if it weren’t very strange and inappropriate, I’d wear it to everything for the next week. It’s luscious. There were also some books, a book on English armour for WH and The Many Colors of Hinduism for me (really good book; I recommend it to anybody who is interested in an in-depth look at Hinduism and Indian culture), some nice gloves, lots of candy, a few Christmas ornaments, a mug shaped like a flamingo, some speakers for my mp3 player, and then Mario Kart, which will likely occupy my attention until I have to go retrieve WH from work. There were other things, but I will have to list them later.
And then on the way back, before we even left B’more’s Penn station, snow fell on NYC and Boston, blocking in all the trains, so what was supposed to be an easy overnight trip to the ATL ended up being a 24-hour journey. Halfway through we had breakfast in the dining car:
This time they had oatmeal still, so I suppose that’s something. We also got free sandwiches at lunch, but the train didn’t get in until 5, a full 9 hours behind schedule, so we went home, watched some TV, and went to bed. I slept in quite a while this morning.
We had exciting plans for New Year’s, but I think now we’re going to go the low-key route, and enjoy not traveling or doing much of anything. Sounds like a good way to usher in the new year.