A couple of smaller projects in preparation of autumn, because I wasn't quite ready to start another big sweater project. :)
baa baa black sheep for my hands - Lambing Mitts by Veronika Jobe. The one thing I haven't been able to accomplish in acclimating to the cold here is keeping my hands warm. I haven't given up on the idea of fair isle warm woolen mittens for winter temps., but I also wanted something to ward of the chill of autumn. I love, love these mitts with their extra long length. The garter stitch band at the top can be folded down (as seen above) or folded out to cover the fingers. Super quick project made with some of my favorite leftover Quince & Co. Osprey from my stash.
Rose Toes for her feet - Rye by tincanknits. So I have had this mental block of intimidation when it came to sock knitting. I was afraid it would take to long. I was afraid of Second Sock Syndrome. I was afraid of heels and gussets and turns. Oh, my! But my daughter REALLY wanted a pair of hand knit socks, and I couldn't refuse her. I found this pattern using worsted weight yarn and size 5 needles. Yay! The verdict??? It was fun! Really fun! And of course, now I feel that I should make myself a pair. :)
Here's a yarn question for all of you experienced sock knitters...I used Berroco Comfort (a nice acrylic yarn) for these socks. Emma loved, loved the variations of color, and the socks are very soft. I know that wool would be the "go to" choice for socks, but my skin can be a little cranky when it comes to certain wool yarns next to my skin. Any sock yarn suggestions in a worsted weight, soft wool or otherwise??? I am eying all the gorgeous colors of Malabrigo Rios and thinking it might not be scratchy? Any thoughts would be very much appreciated!
Joining in with the beautiful knitters over at Ginny's Yarn Along!
One of the most popular features in our town's little quirky newspaper, Steamboat Today, is a daily log of real emergency calls received by our local law enforcement. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present..."The Record."
(And just FOR the record, I did not make any of these up.)
12:06 am - Officers were called to a report of a person who heard what sounded like an animal in distress in the 300 block of Steamboat Boulevard. Porcupines were found in the area.
12:22 am - Steamboat Springs Police Department officers were called to a report of a suspicious vehicle in the 600 block of Howelsen Parkway. A moped was found in a portable toilet.
12:26 am - Steamboat Springs Police Department officers were called to a report of a disturbance in the 700 block of Lincoln Avenue. A drunken man was crying at the bar. The man's dad came to pick him up.
1:15 am - Steamboat Springs Police Department officers were called to a report of women shooting paintballs at signs from a vehicle at Hilltop Parkway and South Lincoln Avenue. Officers caught up with the women and made them go back and clean up all the signs.
5:53 am - Officers were called to a report of two bear cubs in the 2800 block of Village Drive. Police said the bear cubs weren't doing anything wrong.
7:19 am - Officers were called to a report of theft in the 1100 block of Angler's Drive. A red British telephone booth was reported stolen.
8:38 am - Officers were called to a report of a moose at a gas station in the 500 block of Marketplace Plaza.
10:20 am - Officers were called to a report of paintballs that were shot at a sign in the 800 block of Weiss Circle. The women who were caught earlier in the morning shooting at signs were called to clean up the sign.
11:35 am - Officers were called to a report of a bear that was chasing ducks in a pond in the 900 block of Mauna Lea Lane.
11:42 am - Officers were called to a report of a stolen van at Lincoln Avenue and 13th Street. It was reportedly taken between July 2012 and Tuesday.
2:13 pm - Officers were called to a report of a missing person at a Mexican restaurant on Snapdragon Way. A man said he went to the bathroom, and his wife was gone when he returned. The wife had a 2:30 p.m. hair appointment, and she was located at a salon in Marketplace Plaza.
4:05 pm - Police were called to a report of shots fired on the 2800 block of Golf Stream Court. Someone reported hearing eight shots in a row and thought it was small arms fire. Police searched the area and didn’t find any evidence of a shooting but noticed several houses nearby were under construction.
5:02 pm - Officers were called to a report of a disturbance in the 1100 block of Memphis Belle Court. Two people were arguing about missing a flight to Oregon.
5:42 pm - Deputies were called to a report of a person with a gun at a golf course in the 26800 block of U.S. Highway 40. It was a golf course employee hunting a gopher.
8:36 pm - Officers were called to a report of a bear that broke into a garage and pulled out golf clubs in the 800 block of Majestic Circle. It was gone when officers arrived.
8:45 pm - Officers contacted a couple who could not figure out how to use the gas pumps at a station in the first block of Angler's Drive. They were shown how to use the pumps.
9:13 pm - Officers were called to help a man who got locked in a bathroom at Fetcher Park. The bathroom automatically locked at 9pm, and the man did not see the button to unlock the door while inside the bathroom. Officers told the man about the button, and he got out.
10:57 pm - Officers were called to a report of a homeowner who discovered a bear eating pistachios in the kitchen in the 2900 block of Alpenglow Way. The bear entered through a screen window in the living room and did not want to leave. Officers used non-lethal methods to scare the bear. It jumped through another window and left.
"A small town is a town where everyone knows everything about everyone, but they still buy a local newspaper to find out what the editor dared to publish." - Danny Kaye
Things have been really quiet here on the blog, because things in real life have been anything but. Life is full of seasons, and some are more challenging than others. I won't lie. It's been a cruel, cruel summer so far. (Hey. You might as well sing some 80's Bananarama in the midst of it all, right?!)
So for any friends and/or family interested in keeping up with all things "Us"...
The Roof - We knew when we bought our house three years ago that we would have repairs and work to do. The major-est of the majors? A roof replacement. We noticed leaks, disintegrating asphalt shingles, and got put on a one-year waiting list with a local company for a replacement. This past late spring our number came up. And it has been up ever since.
What should have taken 2-3 days to complete, is now at day 57. Eight weeks. And it is still not finished. I will try to take the high road here, but it has been eight weeks of misordered materials, damaged materials, miscut materials, leaks which have resulted in water coming into our attic and home (we found seven in all), lies from the contractor and crews, no shows from contractor and crews, more running out of materials, more incorrect materials ordered. It will be at least another week before they will be finished. (We were told today that our gutter materials won't arrive until Thursday afternoon, and they don't work on Fridays. They might be able to come out next Monday. Or Tuesday. Maybe.)
John has had to research so much in and through this process that he wishes he had installed the roof himself. And you know what? He could have. And he would have been finished long before now. He has had to get up on the roof (twice in the rain) to try to patch places were the water kept coming in. He has been up and down, in and out of our attic more times than I can count. Our neighbor, a long-time Steamboat resident, shook his head and confirmed: this is the trade off of living in a ski resort town in the middle of nowhere. His wife smiled sadly and said, "Welcome to Steamboat!" Once the roofing crew is done, John will then begin the task of repairing the water damage from the leaks.
I told John this is what the ninth month of pregnancy feels like. You stand there and think, "This is never. going. to. end." Good times!
The Penalty Points - So Emma has discovered Taylor Swift. She has about a dozen or so songs on her MP3 player that she brings with her whenever she and I get into the car to go somewhere. After hearing said songs about a million times, I know them pretty well myself. If anyone knows me well, they know that I sing. All the time. Anywhere. It's a stress reliever, a mood lifter, and it's just fun, okay?
Emma decided that she doesn't want me to sing along to Taylor Swift in the car anymore. I tried to be good, honest I did. But that kid has NO IDEA the massive amounts of self-control I must tap into to keep my mouth shut. I negotiated a compromise: I am allowed to sing one line from each song. Just one. That's it. Whenever I sing it, she invariably tells me, "That was your one line, Mom. That's it. No more."
This week I made the mistake of belting out a second line. (It was "Mean". I couldn't help it.) "GASP! Mom! You already sang your one line! Now I'm going to have to give you a Penalty Point!" Penalty Point??? When did Penalty Points become a part of this deal? I didn't agree to this.
I quit singing and started dancing from the waist up instead. (Because it was now "Shake It Off".) "Mom, no dancing!" "But it's THIS song!" I told her. She wouldn't budge. Then she took a preemptive strike. "And no lip syncing!" I racked up four Penalty Points by the time we got home.
Life is so unfair.
The Feels - Perimenopause is for the birds. And that's all I'm going to say about that. Otherwise, I might start crying. Again.
The Shower Stall - I meant to share pics and post about this last summer when John was working on it, but it didn't happen. My bad. You might remember from this older post that when we bought our house, our master bathroom was in need of repair. We haven't completed all of those projects yet, but last summer John completed a big one: the shower stall.
After doing the demo, he discovered that the shower had been leaking for a long time. (More leaks!) The floor joists and subfloor were rotted. After replacing those, he installed the Schluter-Kerdi shower system (which he highly recommends!), took a deep breath, and did his first tiling job ever. I think he knocked it out of the park! We chose large tiles set in a brick pattern for the walls, two white shelves for the corner, and flat stone mosaic for the floor. That stone floor is my favorite.
We priced a replacement glass door, but that was not jiving at all with our budget. I found an extra long shower curtain liner and a spa-like white extra long shower curtain on Amazon.com to use instead. They work wonderfully, and I actually like it just as is. The curtain softens up the hard lines of the tile, I think. The chrome shower curtain rod, shower head, and valve handle were all affordable options on Amazon, as well.
John picks apart the work he did, but can I brag on him? It is gorgeous. Just beautiful. He did a great job, and I think it is the best shower ever. He never ceases to amaze me.
The Needs - I started this year with a business venture, and it has been an amazing experience so far. Difficult, but amazing in that I have learned so much about all things business and taxes and such, about myself, about my family, about my needs. I am challenged to really hone in on what my priorities need to be. I am challenged to take better care of myself.
I am lucky to have three amazing easygoing kids and a husband that encourages me to do things to treat myself. Trouble is, I usually don't. I am perfectly happy to take the backseat. John calls it the Chicken Neck Phenomenon. The mother takes the time to go to the store to pick out a whole chicken to feed her family. She lovingly seasons and trusses and roasts the chicken. When the family sits down to dinner, she sees to everyone else's needs. To make sure everyone gets what she thinks is enough, she looks at the chicken carcass left on the platter and says with a smile, "Oh, I'll just have the neck! I really wanted the neck anyway!" (Unless there's chocolate involved. I always take my fair share of chocolate!)
Am I alone in this? Self-care just doesn't come naturally to me. But I find myself in a season of life where I am seeing how important it is for me to be kind to myself. To give to myself, not just to others. Maybe it comes from my personality. Maybe it comes from being the firstborn child in a large family. Maybe it is, quite honestly, bad theology that teaches the sin of self. A teaching that ignores the importance of setting limits, or the importance of protecting oneself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. (Just thinking out loud here.) I understand that in a narcissistic and selfish society such as ours, caring for others in so vitally important, it's just that I also understand that, for me, things can get out of balance.
I think I'll make myself a hair appointment and read a good long book. :)
The Little Things - The best things so far this summer have been the little unexpected gifts. A day full of tears (see The Feels above) is the same day that the first Rufus hummingbird of the season shows up hovering right outside my bedroom window. A little personal reminder that God sees me. I am known by Him. He keeps me in the palm of His hand. It will all be alright.
Because we can't mow a lawn piled up with metal panels and construction materials, daisies are allowed to grow wild all over the backyard. I never realized until this summer that they grow there.
John and I take a walk down one of the hiking trails, and with every step I take, little yellow butterflies flit and flutter up from the grass and fly all around me.
The foxes walk through the yard regularly and stop and stare while I try to engage them in conversation. (I have decided that if I ever go to a Native American naming ceremony, I will ask to be called Talks With Foxes.)
A bear (A BEAR!) hung around our yard for 24 hours last month. He brought with him respite from roof drama and excitement for weary souls. Oh, I wish I could've hugged him. I feel quite certain he would have welcomed it.
A deer eats sarvis berries from our bushes. When she sees me at the window taking pictures, she turns and faces me for a photo op. I talk to her through the window, and she steps closer to listen. (The animals around here make me feel like I am living in a classic Disney Princess movie!)
John calls us out to the deck to watch bats flying overhead, their wings flapping erratically against the dusky blue sky. Emma giggles as I squeal when one flies right in front of us.
The roses bloomed and bloomed this year after their pruning from last. I walked through the flower beds every day, noticing every new leaf, every new bud, touching every stem, pulling every new weed, feeding every plant. I practically hovered and mothered over it all. I was thinking as I walked through the roses one day that this is my Heavenly Father's way with me. "The Lord will perfect all that concerns me." Not perfect (the adjective), as in perfectionism, but perfect (the verb), as in complete. He notices every detail, every change in growth, every hurt, every joy. He feeds and waters. He gives wisdom. He comforts and heals. He sends a meteor to blaze across the midnight sky for me to see at the exact moment I look out the window one last time as I climb into bed.
The same God that hovers over me and my small concerns, hovers over all of creation and hears its cries for peace, for hope. Life is hard, but God is good. <3
Yet again, life marches to a beat more chaotic than one I would want. My days are spoken for, but thankfully, my nights are relatively quiet: yarn, needles, tea, television, puppy at my feet. And so, yet again, a "catch-up" Yarn Along post...
Bing - Pattern Cape Cod by Thea Colman. I love this sweater. What I love most about it are the details. I opted to go with a cotton yarn (Berroco Weekend) so that I could enjoy wearing a sweater on cool summer nights. I chose the colorway Garnet, which is a little deeper than the pictures show. The red made me think of Bing cherries in the summertime. The lace panels made this an interesting and fun project. That boat neck is my favorite.
Ponchetta - Pattern Ponchetta by Elizabeth Smith of The Brown Stitch. Somewhere during my second dry, extreme winter living here, my skin decided to fight back. Eczema. Oh, my. Too cold? Problem. Sweating on the ski mountain? Problem. 100% wool cowl/scarf in direct contact with the skin on my neck? BIG problem. So I am now starting a process of knitting myself new neck warmers with acrylic yarn. Berroco makes a nice one called Comfort, and I was happy to find that it comes in solid colors and heathered colors. I ordered the colorway Hackberry Heather for this pattern. Once again, this color is deeper and richer in person.
Ponchetta is a cross between a cowl, a shawl, and a poncho. The drape of Berroco Comfort caused my Ponchetta to hang more like a full-length poncho, but I really, really like the way it turned out. And it is super soft against my neck! The pattern was easy to read, and the project was a fast, enjoyable knit.
Autumn Margo - Pattern Margo Poncho by Elizabeth Smith of The Brown Stitch. It's quite possible that I could play a game of Eenie Meenie Miney Mo with Elizabeth Smith's designs and be happy no matter what pattern I ended up landing on. This one is a favorite! The pattern, as with all Brown Stitch patterns, was simple and straightforward. The stitch designs are actually made with slipped stitches instead of cables, which made this a quick and easy knit.
The yarn is Osprey from Quince & Co. (still my favorite) and the colorway is Malbec. It is really making me look forward to autumn.
Joining in with the beautiful knitters at Ginny's Yarn Along!
Criss Cross - Criss Cross by Isabell Kraemer. This was my second Isabell-designed project. Another beautiful, clean-lined, and wearable pattern! I have worn this a few times already, and it is just the best go-to sweater to grab on the way out the door. I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of this. The colorway "Ireland" is the perfect green for spring. It was a simple cardigan to knit, but the little details throughout made it fun, especially the charted pattern on the back. Will definitely knit more Isabell!
So here's a question for fellow knitters...this was my first project using Cascade 220 Heathers (NOT Superwash). I wet blocked as usual, and oh my goodness...the stink. The entire room smelled like,...well, let's just say "sulfur", (shall we?), for 3 days. Now, I know that wet wool smells funky, but this was by far the worst ever. I googled the issue and found an actual scientific explanation for the offending odor that has to do with chemical bonds breaking during wet blocking. (Seriously, wet wool sweaters have gas!) But anyway, upon drying, the smell went COMPLETELY away, and I aired my room out. No harm, no foul (no pun intended), BUT I really don't want that to happen again if there is anything I can do to stop it.
I have never had that happen before, and I knit another project (see below) without the odor, so I am left wondering, was it the specific yarn? Have any of you ever noticed the Cascade 220 yarns behaving this way? Or is this knitting's dirty smelly little secret???
Enough unpleasantries. Now on to pretty fringe.
Farmhouse - Farmhouse by cabinfour. I am not a shawl person, really. But I do have a childhood memory of someone (I can't remember who) owning a shawl. I thought is was so cool. No one in my family had one, so it was such a novelty to me. So many knitters like to knit shawls, but I love sweaters and didn't ever see myself using a shawl. But then I stumbled upon a fellow Raveler's Farmhouse. It was love at first sight. I was so drawn to it, but that didn't make any sense to me, because...I am not a shawl person. I looked and looked at pictures of Farmhouse for months and months. Why did I want that shawl so much???
Christmas was coming, and my kids asked me what I wanted as a gift from them. I asked for yarn. Which one, how much...they needed details. I chose 3 projects from my Favorites list on Ravelry. I showed them to my kids and told them that I wanted THEM to choose which project they wanted to give me. They held secret yarn meetings. I had no idea what they wanted me to have, but on Christmas morning I opened a gift of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, and I realized in that moment that I had been hoping it would be their choice all along. They wanted to give me Farmhouse.
This pattern was so simple to knit. Quiet, peaceful, television knitting. I learned a couple of new skills and linked to instruction videos in my Ravelry notes found here.
This was my first project to use Shelter. I love it, love it. Watching the fabric change during wet blocking was like magic! So fluffy and light and, oh I love it. (Sorry. I already said that.) My favorite is the fringe. Drippy, drapey, flowy, dreamy. I think this might be my favorite knit.
And I use it! Right now, it is the perfect layer to ward off the chill of early morning in the mountains. I really don't see myself knitting a lot of shawls, (I have another sweater on the needles now.) but I am so very glad I knit this one. Thank you, Babies! Your mama feels loved!
Joining in with the beautiful knitters over at Ginny's Yarn Along!
Ah, spring. Freezing temperatures and lots of snow. The kids keep forgetting that this is normal, living in the Rockies. I keep hearing, "More snow?!" "It's snowing again?!" "But it's spring!" Yes, spring in Steamboat.
We experienced the snowiest March that Steamboat Springs had seen in the last five years. Some days have felt like a winter wonderland. While parts of the country are getting wildflowers, we are getting icicles. If Hobbits in the Shire can have Second Breakfast, then I think it is safe to say that we in the Rockies have Second Winter.
I do love spring snows. They are noisy, unlike the still and silent snows of winter. The returning magpies and robins and woodpeckers chatter and sing and fill the valley with promises of warmth and nesting and flowers and green.
The ski mountain has closed for the season, even though there are feet and feet of snow everywhere. John took pictures of his last trip with Austin for me. (That's my Austin snowboarding a black run in the second picture.) I missed the end of the season. Quilt orders. The flu. Pneumonia. Antibiotics and inhalers. Fits of coughing and one million cups of tea. It's been an eventful month around here. It all makes me anticipate the warmth of May even more.
The foxes continue to come around every couple of days. John captured a dark red one outside of my sewing room window with his cell phone. Yes, I purposely set out some little bits of food there. Foxes, I have discovered, like apples!
Twice now I have walked outside onto the back deck to discover a light red fox standing in our yard. The first time, he looked at me curiously and sat still while I spoke to him. He marked all of the Aspen trees before he trotted away.
The second time, he stayed awhile. I told him that I had decided to name him "Foxy". John quietly slipped me some apple pieces, and I gently tossed them out onto the snow. The fox looked up at me and cocked his head to the side, just like a puppy. I told him how beautiful he was and that I was happy to see him. I tossed another piece of apple, and he ran straight to it, ate it, and then sat looking up at me, waiting for another piece. Of course, I obliged him. I told him he was welcome to come and visit any time he wanted, and I would give him a treat. Every once in a while a noise from inside the house startled him, and he darted away from the house. I called to him, and back he came, ready for more apple.
John went down to the basement where Emma was squealing over something, and said quietly, "You guys keep it down in here. Your mother is outside talking to a fox." They looked at him puzzled. What???! Ha! I wish I could have seen that!
A couple of evenings ago, Austin noticed two foxes bounding and chasing and playing in the land behind our house. Of course, I couldn't resist! I quickly grabbed and chopped an apple and went out on the back deck. I called and kissed to the foxes, and the instant I did, one of them trotted straight to the deck! (EEEEeeeeeeep!!!!) I gently tossed the apple pieces out into the yard and had a conversation with the fox, and once the second one saw that I was safe, it slowly joined the first one. It was a wee little one, and it was so curious! It looked up at me and just stared as I talked to it. Oh, I can't even tell you...SO cool!!! I want to keep them all!
The foxes come back every couple of days, usually in the wee hours of the morning while I am sleeping. I wake up to fresh tracks in the snow and the treat that I left them the night before gone. I will have to stop this once the bears wake up.
We all celebrated 14-year old Joel (14!) with a day off from school, his favorite red velvet cake and candy and presents and dinner out (his choice of The Rusted Porch) and a late night viewing of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. My sweet boy. What a gift he is! He just keeps getting taller and taller. He makes me proud.
We tried a new bacon appetizer at Joel's birthday dinner that we loved, loved. John came home from the grocery store that next week with ingredients and a request: couldn't we make that bacon appetizer at home? We did our best to recreate it, and then topped it with some added grilled chicken and had it for lunch. It's becoming a habit...
BACON JALAPENO NAAN
4 pieces of naan
Cream cheese, soft
Dried oregano leaves
4-oz. Monterey Jack cheese, grated
3 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
Sliced pickled jalapenos
Grilled chicken, diced (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Spread soft cream cheese on the top of each piece of naan; sprinkle each with dried oregano. Divide grated cheese evenly among the pieces of naan. Top with diced chicken, sliced tomatoes, crumbled bacon, and pickled jalapeno slices.
Bake directly on oven rack in the lower third of oven for 10-12 minutes, or until desired doneness.
Cut each naan into 6 wedge-shaped appetizer portions and serve immediately.
For appetizers, serves 6-8. For lunch, serves 3-4.
Y'all, I had to. I have received a fair number of questions since publishing my Texas post yesterday, and I can't stand the thought of there being misinformation about Texas out there. So, here we go...
Kolaches - pronounced "kuh-LAH-cheese". Pillowy, soft, salty/sweet dough filled with goodies. If you like a sweet breakfast, you order a fruit kolache. Apricot, apple, cherry, raspberry are all popular sweet fruit filling choices. Drizzle the top with sugar glaze or sprinkle with powdered sugar. Do not weigh yourself for a week. The sweet cream cheese ones are my favorite.
If you like a savory breakfast, then you order a kolache filled with ham or sausage or egg or bacon or cheese. They have come up with all kinds of interesting flavors, but my forever favorite is a simple, perfect sausage and cheese. My favorite places in Houston to get them are the Kolache Factory and Mornings Kolaches. (Shipley's will do in a pinch, but I really go to Shipley's for those glazed donuts.) Eat one. Drink coffee. Repeat until full. A well-made kolache is pretty hard to beat!
Those football games - Yes, high school football is really that big of deal in Texas. During football season, many people just pass the time all week to get to Friday night. We were the Sam Rayburn Texans (like the Houston NFL team), but our colors, mentioned in our alma mater's lyrics, were "white and columbia blue". We were living Friday Night Lights and didn't know it.
I was a member of the school's drill team (dance team), the Tex-Anns. We wore uniforms of blue sparkly fabric, white fringe, white gloves, white cowboy hats, and Revlon's "Love That Red" lipstick back in the day. Oh, and wigs. (Don't ask.) We sat next to the Mighty Texan Band(!) during the games. While I was a Tex-Ann, I felt like I really fit in better with the Band Geeks. While we Tex-Anns had to sit quietly and properly and elegantly and perform hand routines (Think *****JAZZZZZ HANDSSSS*****) in the stands during the game, the drumline was beating out cadences while the marching band was having a party in the bleachers. So.not.fair.
I tried out for cheerleader in jr. high, but I have never been the short-power-dynamo-bundle-of-energy-athelete that good cheerleaders need to be, and I was out in the first cut. I learned my lesson and opted instead to be a dancer. I found my "sport". This I could do!!!
We performed on the field every Friday night for the half-time show. My favorite was anytime that we danced to the theme of the TV show "Dallas" while wearing gun holsters and shooting off cap guns during the dance. (Texas!) We did the Tex-Ann March onto and off of the field. Really they should have called it the Tex-Ann Prance, because we looked like prancing ponies. We practiced that march for h.o.u.r.s...it is forever burned into my muscle memory to the point that I will probably be a 90-year old woman prancing the halls of a nursing home someday. Yes, I can still do it. No, I will not upload a video demonstration.
The Cotton-Eyed Joe - Oh, wow! This wins the award for the most questions! Okay, so, I looked it up and was surprised to find that there's really not very good information out there. I hunted YouTube and found a really great video of Asleep at the Wheel playing the song live and in concert. Those fiddles!!! So talented! This makes we want to get up and dance! This is pretty close to the way I heard it back in the day.
There are a lot of recorded versions out there, and they stink. Sorry, but they do. (This issue alone compelled me to write this post!) There is a Swedish dance group called Rednex that did a version in the 90's. For the love of all that is good and holy in Texas, just don't. Just DO NOT. I could cry.
With this weird new version, came some new dance steps. Slapping heels and other some such nonsense. Y'all, it is not that complicated. I had a terrible time trying to find a good, old-fashioned, simple video of a group dancing the Cotton-Eyed Joe, the way we did it. Then John reminded me that we didn't walk around with cell phones taking videos of everything under the sun in the 80's. We just enjoyed ourselves. So true!
This video shows a group dancing the way we did, but a couple of caveats...first, it's hard to actually see the dance steps because there is such a large group of people on the dance floor, and they aren't lined up in proper formation. (See? I told you I was good at dance! Haha!) But, hopefully, you can get the idea. Second, I told John I was disappointed because, rather than dancing, it looked like a lot of the people were half-dancing/half-stumbling around like they were drunk. And then we laughed out loud. 'Cause unless you are at the senior prom or at the Saturday skate session, if you are with a group of people dancing the Cotton-Eyed Joe, some of them probably are drunk. (Notice all the people dancing with beer bottles or mugs in their hands? Ha!)
Often after the Cotton-Eyed Joe, the band will play the Schottische (pronounced SHOT-ish, rhymes with Scottish), and in this video, at least, you will see a group of people in a state of utter confusion. Bless their hearts.
The cause for this confusion is either:
(a.) They don't know the dance.
(b.) They are exhausted and worn out from dancing the Cotton-Eyed Joe.
(c.) They are too inebriated to care.
Having given it a little more thought, I think the correct answer is (d.) All of the Above.
And this concludes today's Texas Public Service Announcement.
One day last week, Emma and I were doing the grocery shopping when we noticed a tall older gentleman stopped in the middle of the aisle picking up some Coca-Cola. We slowed our pace and maneuvered around the man. He looked up and smiled. We nodded, and I said smiling, "Excuse us."
He pushed his cart slowly past us and said in a sweet, deep voice, "Oh, y'all are fine!"
I froze dead in my tracks and spun around on my heels. "You said 'y'all'!"
He turned back around to face me with a huge grin on his face. "Yes, I sure did!"
"Where are you from?" I asked.
I swear his chest puffed out when he answered me. "Texas."
I thought so. Nobody (other than my own little family) says "y'all" up here. I stick out like a sore thumb whenever I say it in conversation. Hearing his deep Texas drawl was like music to my ears!
He said he lives in Texas, but owns a place here in the mountains. We talked about what we love about Texas: the history, the people, his Texas acres outside of Austin that fill with bluebonnets every spring. We talked out what we love about the Rockies: the wildlife, the recreation, his Colorado acres north of town that look out across the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness. He said he would be going back to Texas just in time to see the bluebonnets blooming and to enjoy Easter with his family.
Just as I have noticed an aching in my heart around Christmas for friends and family, I have noticed an aching in my heart for Texas in the springtime. The temperature is mild. The sun shines. The humidity is low. The wildflowers start popping out along all the highways, the bluebonnets being supreme, of course.
I am feeling it right now. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I am surrounded in every spare moment that I can find by western fabrics and Texas flags. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I have been watching through episodes of Fixer Upper. (Y'all...Fixer Upper! My question-a-day journal asked me lately what my current favorite word is, and I answered "shiplap".)
After being away for almost three years now, I am realizing how much Texas truly gets in your blood. So many things that I imagined to be "typical American" in my childhood were actually "100% Texas".
--Don't all kids pick pecans off of everything that adults bake? Because, adults reason, if a cookie or a pie or a cake can be made, it can be made better with pecans. And now I am the adult baking pecans into everything.
--Don't all kids eat kolaches for breakfast on Saturday mornings? Or at least get excited when someone walks in the front door with a dozen glazed from Shipley's?
--Don't all kids have heroes with names like "Sam Houston" and "Davy Crockett" and "Stephen F. Austin"? Don't all kids know about the brave men that fought at the Alamo, and the Texian (Yes, it's spelled "Texian".) Army that defeated Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto?
--Don't all kids grow up eating Tex-Mex for dinner? Tacos and enchiladas and queso and fajitas and tortillas and flautas and chips with salsa? Or what about the chicken fried steak with gravy, macaroni and cheese, and fried okra at Luby's Cafeteria?
--Don't all kids dress western for school one day a year and get excited when the Trail Riders hit town to signal the start of the Livestock Show and Rodeo in the spring?
--Don't all kids line up in their roller skates and dance the Cotton-Eyed Joe at the local roller rink during the Saturday skate session? (Yes, we did the Hokey Pokey, too, but really, everybody waited for the Cotton-Eyed Joe.)
--Don't all kids spend all week at school just waiting to get to Friday, because that's when the football team plays again? And pep rallies are celebrated? And marching bands play? (Mighty Texan Band!) And the dance team in blue sequins and cowboy hats do high kicks?
--Doesn't the sky look this big everywhere in the world? I thought it did, until I went back for a short visit to Texas last year. It was like I saw that sky for the first time all over again, and I just could.not.believe it. It just goes on for miles and miles.
One of my favorite truly Texas memories goes back to Sam Rayburn High School's senior prom. Everyone was dressed to the nines, wearing their corsages, taking their pictures...until the DJ started playing the Cotton-Eyed Joe. (Cotton-Eyed Joe. I'm tellin' ya!) Then there was a mad rush to the dance floor, whooping and hollering, laughing and dancing. Student body and staff alike were dancing side by side in lines around the dance floor yelling, "B*LLSH*T!!!" Ah, yes. Only in Texas.
I am on a big Texas music kick, too. Willie. Lyle. George. Asleep at the Wheel. Especially Asleep at the Wheel. I have learned that I am a Texas Swing music fan. This may not sound like much to anyone who doesn't know me well. Thing is, I have never liked country music. Never ever never. (80's British Pop for me.) And I really don't like what some call "country music" in this day and age, but classic Texas music is all that plays on my phone these days.
Lest you think I regret moving, I assure you this is not the case. I am a mountain girl. The split second I saw the Rockies on the horizon as I drove our car behind the U-Haul, I burst into tears. I leave bits of food out for the foxes in the backyard. I saw a mama moose walk her baby across the street this morning. I cannot get enough of the outdoors here, and I cannot take the humid heat of Houston. I thank God every day that I live in Colorado. But I also thank him every day that I lived in Texas first.
One for those of you who are Texans...
And one for those of you who aren't...
And now back to the sewing room and Texas flags. And the makings of a grocery store list. I have a strong and sudden craving for enchiladas.
*Pictures of the kids are from my old cell phone and were taken circa 2012 back in Texas.