All over but the Kahlua


Yesterday, I flew back to Toronto from Nova Scotia. As you may have heard, the East Coast (as well as Ontario, Quebec, and the American Midwest) got rather a lot of snow yesterday, so my flight was delayed. Since my mum drove me to the airport in a snowstorm, a delayed flight was a welcome excuse not to rush, and we got there in time to have dinner in the airport pub before hugging goodbye at security. My flight didn’t board for another hour and a bit, but I was knitting and it wasn’t cancelled, so I wasn’t upset.

In journalism, three instances or examples of something in a reasonable period of time is considered a trend, and if that’s the benchmark I think it’s fair to say that delays during holiday travel have become an annual tradition for me. Not a tradition of my own making (I’m not missing flights or anything), but nonetheless, I’m getting good at waiting patiently in airports, not freaking out about bad weather, and mentally preparing for cancellations.

So, delayed flight? No problem. I had a snack in my carry on; I had a sock to finish and another ball of yarn wound and ready in case I needed it; I had two books – in short, I was not worried. The flight boarded and when the woman I was sitting next to asked me to put away my knitting for take off, I said “no problem” and leafed through the in-flight magazine until she said she was okay with me knitting again (I was quietly annoyed, but it was a bumpy flight and she seemed nervous about everything, so whatever, it’s the holidays). I knit through the turbulence all the way to Ottawa (an hour and 45 minutes or so). My nervous neighbour disembarked. I knit while we sat on the ground. I knit through the announcement that the flight was going to be diverted to Hamilton.

Let’s pause here so I can point out that, when the plane lands at the Toronto Island airport, I’m 20 minutes from home, but when it lands in Hamilton, I’m nearly two hours from home. I knit through that and despite being annoyed, decided that it was better than having to spend the night in Ottawa. The airline said they’d have a free shuttle to bring us to Toronto, so I was still going to get home. In bad weather, this is what you have to cling to.

I finished knitting my sock on that flight and then proceeded to sew in the ends. All fifty million little ends (well, there were 12, but that felt like a lot). The light was bad, but by the time we landed, I was almost done. I picked up my luggage (both bags made it!) and got on the warm and waiting shuttle. I finished sewing in my ends, had a nap, arrived in Toronto, grabbed the second cab that pulled up, and was home by 2 a.m. Yes, that’s later than I was expecting to be there, but honestly, only by about two hours, so I considered myself lucky. L and Ganymede aren’t home yet, so our apartment was dark, but it was warm, and there was lots of fun mail, so it wasn’t a terrible homecoming.

It was when I opened my bag to get out my pajamas and whatnot that I got the sense something might be wrong. There was this smell. It was sweet, and unmistakably sticky, and rather coffee-ish. I am, generally, a very slow unpacker. It drives L crazy, but I can’t help it; I hate unpacking. Nonetheless, I went in to investigate. Kahlua. The smell was Kahlua, and it was everywhere. I had packed a bottle in my bag (a gift from my sister) and I guess the pressure must have been too much because the lid of the bottle just sheared right off. When I pulled out the bottle to assess the damage, it was dangerously light, and that’s when I realized how bad it was: not a drop, not a small spill, but an entire bottle of dark brown, sticky liqueur had emptied into my bag. The truly miraculous thing is that it managed to get on every single white object in there while leaving almost all the dark (majority) of my clothes entirely untouched.

Gingerly, I began pulling alcohol soaked shirts and dresses out of my pack. It was like some sort of twisted Rorschach Test – can you really handle holiday travel? what do you see in this impending stain? – and as it became clear that all my favourite clothes were soaked, I held it together. It’s just clothing, I told myself, totally replaceable. Then, oh god, then I pulled out a skein of beautiful hand-dyed yarn that my mum had given me for Chrismtas and discovered it soaked through and I just about lost it. That’s right: delays, diversions, alcohol soaked clothes – all nothing; but three skeins of damaged yarn? Tears. Only two or three, though, because who has time to cry when your wardrobe is on the verge or irreparable stains and your yarn is damaged? (I have no photos of any of this because, although it is excellent blog fodder, it didn’t occur to me to take photos until after everything was in the water. Use your imagination, I doubt you’re picturing something worse than the reality.)

Thank goodness I’m a knitter. We are, without a doubt, the best equipped to do major hand washing, and I sprang into action. SOAK is a lifesaver. Alongside Spray and Wash, I think I may have saved everything. Seriously. Everything was still so wet that nothing had a chance to set, so after dousing it all with stain remover, I plunged it into a bucket of warm water filled with SOAK and left it there overnight. This morning the water was the colour of dark toffee, but my clothes came out stain free. The yarn I rinsed (carefully) in very hot water and hung to dry, it looks okay I think.

I may never be able to drink (or smell) Kahlua again, and I still have to do a proper clean of my bag, and I’m pretty sleep deprived, but I’m home. And, as a gift to L, I’m unpacked uncharacteristically early. I can only hope that if you have holiday travelling ahead of you that it goes more smoothly!

Oh, the socks? Here’s a shot of them finished (but unblocked – I’ve been a little busy). I’ll do a proper post about them later.


4 thoughts on “All over but the Kahlua

    1. Angela Hickman Post author

      That doesn’t even begin to cover it. The worst part is that I thought about putting it in a bag, and then didn’t. I fly with alcohol in my checked luggage all the time and this has never happened. First time for everything I guess.

  1. Kristen

    Arg! I’m glad you were able to save the good stuff. Last Christmas I knit my sister a mauve colored, alpaca lace scarf. It might still be the nicest lace scarf I have ever knit, and I worked so hard on it. It took months to complete. While working on it at my parent’s house one weekend, I had poured myself a regular cola with ice and was getting ready to sit down and knit while visiting with my mom. My mom’s vision is impaired, and somehow, she knocked my glass of cola over straight INTO my knitting bag. OMG! Not a good feeling. I was able to save the scarf in progress and a few other things. The scarf likely still has traces of cola in it, but no one can tell!
    Happy holidays — The socks are gorgeous!

  2. Pingback: Not quite a pair | Pans & Needles

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