Monday, October 25, 2010

Basement archeology.

In the last couple months, my in-laws have gradually been clearing out their basement. (When they get done, I suspect they will be drinking champagne.) Since the basement is full of not only their own stuff, but stuff belonging to their kids, it's been a long process of sorting and pitching and storing and cleaning.

Last Thursday when I was in Ohio, my father-in-law mentioned that he'd found a recipe box. Thanks to his mother, his wife, and to a lesser degree me, he knew he'd be a dead man without TRYING to track down the owner. So he wanted to know if it was familiar to me.

He brought it upstairs, and I didn't recognize it. But I know, myself, the value of family recipes. So I flipped it open and riffled through, and damn if it's not full of my own grandmother's handwriting.

Apparently it was mine.

I have no memory of so much as SEEING this recipe box before, ever, let alone putting it in my in-laws' basement. But who else would have? Even if the husbeast or his parents physically placed the box in the basement, I'm the one who would have handed it to any of them. Ditto, my in-laws hardly allow just anyone to wander through their house without their knowledge, storing stuff in their basement. (In fact, the only person who has access to MY family's stuff and THEIR house is, well, me.)

I've got a few theories. My mother and maternal grandmother both died of long illnesses within about five months of each other. (I have always thought my mother hung on to take care of her mother.) I was living in Hawaii at the time, and that year flew enough miles (all between Ohio and Honolulu) to circle the earth twice. I figure at some point I put the recipe box in the basement and was too stressed, jet-lagged, exhausted, and upset to remember it.

At any rate, I was pleased to find the recipes. For ten years, I've been looking for my grandmother's recipe for chocolate pie. It's not in my mother's recipe boxes (I do have those, and have moved them around with me for ten years). I assume the recipe is not among my mother's things because my mother had it memorized. She was always notorious for not writing things like that down.

The one drawback? Sometime or other, that recipe box was dropped. The interior is a disaster. I've been poking through it for a week, and still don't know if the recipe is in there. But I've had a fine time flipping through, remembering some foods and complaining to the spirit of my grandmother about how she never made others for me.

With luck, the pie recipe will yet turn up. I'll publish it, if it does.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Postcard from the, uh, easy chair.

When stressed, I'm one of those who hunkers down with some knitting and ignores the world and acts a lot frazzled. So, y'know, that's what I've been doing. The hub helped out by getting me a Kindle for my birthday, thereby facilitating the knit-while-reading escapism. Not a lot to report. But I'll throw in a book review!


I saw my brother, um, Sunday. Going back to Ohio to visit him tomorrow. He's doing as well as can reasonably be expected, under the circumstances. Maybe it's my EMT training and ER volunteering, but he looked better than I expected to. (The husbeast said the same thing, but he's also had emergency medicine training, and seen some very grim things.) I was a little freaked out because his fingers and toes were green, thinking bad circulation. But it turns out they used something green to disinfect him before surgery and practically bathed him in it. Right then. He's in a medically induced coma while his body gets itself together, and really, if someone cracked my chest open, I'd rather skip the aftermath. Everyone keeps saying they want him to wake up, and I'm thinking "nooooo, let him rest. The pain will hit soon enough."

I mentioned to my brother's best friend that my bro needs to recover so I can yell at him. (My brother has not been living what you could call a healthy life.) Best Friend gave me a fist bump and told me he's been taking photos of my brother in critical condition with tubes coming and going, and will flash them at my brother as needed to inhibit further stupidity. I like that guy.

If he croaks, I have no doubt my mother is waiting right this moment in the afterlife, ready to give him grief over all the cigarettes he smoked. If he ever gets caught lighting up in this life, ever again, one of us may kill him. Or at least stuff a lit cigarette up his nose.

The husbeast is waiting to tease my brother about doing the 'rock star method' of quitting smoking. There was someone, Keith Richards, maybe? back in the seventies who overdosed and spent weeks in a coma. When he woke up, all the nicotine withdrawal was over, and he never started up again. It looks like my brother will be doing that method. Extreme, but effective.

Short version, all is not well, but it's as well as could be expected.


I've knit an alleged pair of socks. The ball bands claim that they are knit with yarn from the same dye lot. If that is true, I will eat both of them. They do not match. I'm not that picky about matching socks, but I'm irritated when ball bands lie to me. I'll get a photo and post it soon. Have begun on another pair of socks. I begin to see the appeal of this whole sock knitting thing. Taken me twenty years, but yeah. It's cool. Keeps my hands busy so I don't kill people.

Really need to get that tee shirt.


For those of you who think my Vogue Knitting reviews come too far and few between, and wish for further hilarity, I have found a web site for you. "Shine". It's some Yahoo thing. Their fashion 'channel' contains lots of stuff that, well, sounds like it was written by me. Current editor's pick, an article entitled "The Dumbest Thing You Can Do To Your Boobs". I need say no more.


Other than novels on my kindle, I have been reading "At Home" by Bill Bryson.

"A short history of private life", it says on the cover, and that's what it is. Bryson is a favorite of mine all the way back to college part one, when I discovered his book "Mother Tongue" in the campus book store. He is always entertaining, and has a gift for personalizing history, and making everyday lives of people in the past understandable to those of us today. I'm only about a third of the way through, and he's already boggled my mind several times. Food, servants, lighting, technology, you name it, he mashes it all together into a coherent whole like no one else I've ever met.

I definitely suggest it for anyone interested in history. Or anthropology. Or sociology. You get the idea.


I'm rambling. I'm freaked. I'm gonna go knit a sock. But I thought I'd let everyone know, I'm still chugging along.

If you smoke? Quit. If not for you, do it for all the people who will worry if you do something like my brother's doing now.

I had to say that.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

If it isn't one thing...'s five other things.

Yesterday a friend of mine passed away. He was an on-line friend, but I'd known him about a year. Sweet guy. We talked about video games and movies and cooking and food. He was five years younger than I am.

After being in shock most of the day, I got a call from my sister-in-law. My brother had a heart attack yesterday. At I type, he's edging up on twelve hours in surgery. From the sounds of it, he's having quadruple bypass surgery.

So, I'm huddling down with some zombie knitting (nearly done with this pair of socks), resisting the urge to eat my own weight in chocolate. (I've lost three pounds and I'd rather not ruin that with a binge.)

More later when I'm coherent.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Blarg, and stuff.

Still whining about the weather, so, you know. Whine. Mostly I'm blogging today 'cause I know some of you guys are used to my regular blog posts and wonder if I'm in a ditch somewhere if I don't. So, hi. I'm in a nice comfy easy chair with a cat on me, not a ditch.


Finished the Goob's rainbow scarf. Bound it off, washed and blocked, everything. She is quite thrilled that I made something for her, from scratch, and wore it around the house for quite a while after I gave it to her. I'm pleased to report that even though it's not the highest quality Corriedale wool, it is soft enough to wear next to the skin. So far the kid has not uttered the words "it itches", so all is well.

Pictures to come, and a free pattern, when I get off my duff.


Had a friend over Saturday. We dyed a pound of wool and four pairs' worth of sock yarn. She'd wanted to see how I do Purple Trainwreck, so I did that, and don't know know, THE MOTHERFUCKING DYE WOULD NOT BREAK. That damn stuff separates into pink and blue if you look at it funny, but bring someone over to teach them something, and it behaves. Bloody damned Red 3. It exists to annoy me.

The friend is an experienced sock knitter - it's nearly all she knits - and so she shared much of the Mystic Art with me, mostly on how to tweak sock patterns to fit individual feet, including my own strange dogs. We had a very nice time. When she offered to pay for the yarn she was lugging out of the house, I told her to just send me some knitting stuff she considered like value. That's always interesting when I do that. Should be more fun.


My birthday is Saturday. I will be forty-two. This means I have attained enlightenment and know everything? I think? Maybe? Anyway, we're celebrating it Sunday. My mother-in-law is making me dinner (I've cooked the last two birthday dinners, not that I minded), and we're getting together over in Ohio for the day. From the sounds of it, there will be gifts. I like gifts.


We're still doing testing for the Goober, and I am still figuring out all the proprietary, specialized computer/internet programs and web sites for the school system. I've got to scan these tests and e-mail them in. Very cool, if a bit trippy for this old farm kid who went to school before personal computers existed. (Obviously I'm on the internet now and coping well enough, it's just crazy to compare this to my own kindergarten experience.)

Yesterday we were doing rhyming (which for some reason the kid hates) for one of these test sheets. The deal was to get the kid to give me three words that rhyme with 'man' and write them down. So I said "Hey, Goob. Give me some words that rhyme with man." She thought a minute and said "Can. Fan. Arizonian."

After I got done laughing, I wrote them down. I put an asterisk next to Arizonian, and in the comments, wrote "No idea how or why she came up with that one."

Let them make of it what they will. Hahahaha. NEXT, THE PARTICLE ACCELERATOR! Look out, CERN, we're gonna outbuild you!


So, at the moment, that's about it. I'm in pain, but I've got a warm, purring kitty on my lap, and a happy child looking at a magazine and humming, across the room. All is quiet but for some yard work up the street. Later I'm going to teach the kid about three-dimensional shapes (sphere vs. circle) and knit on my sock.

Life's pretty good. Even if my damn hand does hurt.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

A sock.

That's all I've got to report. Been zoned out here, knitting. Oooooohm.

I'm using the Yarn Harlot's generic sock pattern from "Knitting Rules". She's awesome. So is the sock pattern. Fits perfectly. I've got a few rounds to go and then I have to find a tapestry needle in the disaster that is my work room. That'll be an adventure.

Saturday I have a friend coming by for a Dye Day. She wants to see how I do Purple Trainwreck and stuff. I'll try to document so youse guys have fun photos. Now that I'm a sock-knitting fool, I'm gonna dye some stuff for me, not just stuff I think will sell. Won't that be fun?


This morning the Goober woke up the Husbeast because she had a train stuck in her hair.

It's been that kind of week around here. For all of us.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Damned weather.

Now that I'm back in the land of seasons (after nearly twenty years away), I remember now. It isn't the cold or the heat that's so bad, it's the in-between. It's been raining since Friday, here. I feel like people have been pounding on my knuckles with a hammer. It's all very exciting. (Not.)

So, nothing much to blog. I've been knitting in a trance. Round and round the sock I go. I'll get photos once there's something to show. Using the Yarn Harlot's generic sock pattern was a good idea - I figured anyone who knits that many socks has to know what they're doing, and I was right.

The Goober and I have about finished the first round of testing together, and it's going well. She knows the stuff, but what I consider the big success is how she asks to do more. I try to do short bits with many breaks so neither one of us gets tired and frustrated, and every time she says "Let's do more school stuff", I breathe a sigh of relief. We've still got a long way to go before I'm sure this is a success, but at least we aren't at each other's throats - which can happen when parents try to teach their kids.

I'm hoping to get in some more blog posts, soon, but at the least, I have a doctor's appointment Thursday and should be functional after that.

There is a sock calling to me.