Well, you couldn’t ask for better weather for Valentine’s Day on this frigid cold February 14th – it’s the perfect excuse to cuddle up with your main squeeze to stay warm.
Maybe you’ll even go a little crazy and wear woolen socks to bed. (And then again, maybe not ….)
I have a friend who lives in Richmond, Virginia. She e-mailed me yesterday, all excited about a package that was just delivered at the law office where she works. No – it wasn’t a dozen roses from her husband. It wasn’t even a gift of delectable Shari’s Berries. It was a box filled with skeins of alpaca wool. That fuzzy wool was a present to herself, long on back order, since she visited an alpaca farm last Fall during that City’s annual Fiber Festival.
Evelyn’s hobby is knitting as you may have guessed. She knits non-stop every chance she gets, trying to make up for lost time for the 50-plus years or so that she never-ever picked up a pair of knitting needles. Now it seems she doesn’t want to put them down. Felted purses are her specialty and she even has a small outlet to sell them, but she knits clothing as well. She is good-hearted and will make prayer shawls for those in need at her church, or knitted caps for chemo patients at the local hospital.
Evelyn was excited about the arrival of the wool, since she said the weather in Richmond was conducive for staying indoors this weekend – after all, it was going to be below the freezing mark. Hmmmm. I didn’t want to say that our temps were going to be sub-zero with a -30 wind chill, because, quite frankly … that might sound like I was bragging. I sure didn’t think this brutal weather was anything worth bragging about, so I just said – “that’ll be nice” and let it go at that. I wasn’t about to burst her bubble, because – boy was she excited about this alpaca wool. Back in the day, my mom would be equally excited when she found wool in a color or texture that she really liked and she’d have to find a pattern right away for it. She loved to knit and churned out baby outfits, sweaters and hat and scarf set for as long as I remember, but she knit one afghan too many and ended up with carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands, so that was the demise of her needlework.
Now, I could’ve even spun a yarn and told Evelyn all about a worrisome woolen, but I kept that fuzzy fiber saga to myself, but I will share that funny little Valentine’s Day tale here with you instead.
I cannot help but think of my mother as her birthday was on Valentine’s Day. She would have turned 89 years old today. Her grade school picture above was taken in the 1930s. I chose this photo as I like how the photographer enhanced the picture to give her reddish lips and cheeks when she was just a mere schoolgirl.
I think when people have a holiday birthday, they often get done out. Their special day gets taken out of the limelight in favor of “the big holiday”. And, so it was with my mom as well. I don’t recall my father ever treating her with candy or flowers on this day specially geared for sweethearts – perhaps it might have been a perfunctory peck on the cheek and wishing her “happy birthday” and handing her a present, but that was about it.
So, when I started working, I tried to make her Valentine’s Day birthday just a little more special. She really wasn’t much of a chocoholic, so I’d stop at the Fanny Farmer Candy Shoppe downtown to buy a large bag of heart-shaped cherry gumdrops every year for as long as I can remember.
For Mom’s birthday, I usually bought her jewelry or clothing, but one year I was shopping at Fisher’s, a small women’s clothing store which eventually went out of business. I saw a beautiful raspberry-colored cashmere sweater on the rack. Luckily, the only one left was just her size. It was so soft that I hated to turn it loose to the cashier to ring it up. I bought some special hearts-n-flowers wrapping paper to make the gift more special.
Well, she just loved that sweater with its loosely tied bow in front – first she held it up to admire it, then slipped that sweater over her head and modelled it in front of the mirror, all the while turning this way and that. I saw her keep scratching a little on her neck, then she loosened the softly tied bow at the front and said “the furnace kicked on – this sweater is really warm and I’ve got to take it off.”
In the next breath, she insisted I wear it to work that day to look festive for Valentine’s Day, before she “stretched it out” and it wouldn’t fit right on me then. That little remark of “stretching it out” was a longstanding joke between us. Whenever she got a new sweater, she’d always let me wear it when it was brand new, otherwise she would stretch it out too much in front with her ample chest. I, however, was quite deficient in that category, so I therefore got first “dibs” to wear any of her brand-new sweaters.
I picked a plain navy blue pleated skirt to go with that raspberry-red sweater and added a few gold heart scatter pins and my heart-shaped earrings, then, feeling fully decked out and very festive for the holiday, I put my hat and coat on and hurried to catch the bus so I wouldn’t arrive late at work.
Upon arriving at work, I shrugged out of my coat, smugly thinking how festive I looked for Valentine’s Day, and, being the very vain young woman I was in those days, I hoped I had enough time to prance around and show off that beautiful sweater before I had to sit down and start working.
But, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a trail of pinky-red fuzz travelling down the front of my skirt. Then, soon thereafter there was another conglomeration of that funky fuzz near the hemline. When I tried to pluck it off, there was more furry frustration as little hairs from my sweater sleeve quickly glommed onto the navy blue skirt’s nubby fibers.
I was getting annoyed as it seemed I could merely stand still and those festive-colored fibers were floating around like delicate dandelion puffs that go to seed and go airborne, landing on everything in sight.
I hightailed it to my desk, jerked open the deep bottom drawer and took out the large sticky lint roller that I kept in there. Hurriedly I slicked off nearly half a roll of that flypaper-like substance to attract the fuzzy fibers, which, by now, were flying fast and furiously around me the more I exerted myself.
And … itchy! That sweater’s fibers soon began to make my neck and arms itch like crazy. I felt like I wanted to crawl out of my clothes, and maybe out of my skin as well.
But that wasn’t the worst of it ….
Clearly those furry little fibers were about to become the bane of my existence when one landed in my eye and quickly embedded itself behind one of my hard contact lenses. I was already fitful enough over this fiber fiasco, but soon I was sporting one eye and one cheek streaked with black splotches from mascara since my one eye was tearing so badly. Feverishly, I tried to find and remove the offending sweater hair that had landed between my eyeball and the contact lens. If you’ve ever worn hard contact lenses and gotten a piece of fuzz lodged in your eye, you can surely share my pain. It would cut like a knife ‘til you could retrieve the fuzz. Ow!!
I grabbed a mirror and plopped down on my black wool desk chair to remove the lens. As I hunched over my desk, one of the secretaries came by, patted my shoulder and asked if I was okay. Her hand came away with raspberry tinted fibers just as the words “what in the world is all over your desk chair?” came out of her mouth. I turned my black-streaked face around and immediately saw my chair was covered from top to bottom with raspberry-colored angora fibers. I growled back that I was “okay kinda sorta” then very grudgingly slipped on a pair of spare eyeglasses I kept in a desk drawer, all the while wishing I had a spare set of clothes at work at well.
I finished off the last sticky squares of the lint roller and cast it aside and I knew I had to now resort to my scotch tape dispenser on my desk as I scrambled to just deal with the fibers which seemed to float and dance around me, in a kind of raspberry aura as I walked down the hall.
It was certainly one long day and one of the most-miserable I have ever spent at work. I couldn’t wait to get home and shed the sweater and rid myself of the pinky-red halo that seemed to envelop me all Valentine’s Day long. I removed the sweater and said “here” and handed it over and proceeded to tell my tale of woe. Mom said “well, maybe I’ll just keep it for special occasions, do you think?”
I know for a fact that sweater never saw the light of day again.
Warm and fuzzy moments – sharin’ the love by sharin’ a sweater would’ve been an idea better left on paper … that time anyway.