Cedar Tree

This is something that I wrote for a class last year. The fist two paragraphs are from a story called The Cedar Trees by Lydia Davis. Our assignment was to take this “inspiration” bit and build our own story around it. There were 2 stories to choose from and we were free to choose the form of what we wrote.

When our women had all turned into cedar trees they would group together in a corner of the graveyard and moan in the high wind. At first, with our wives gone, our spirits rose and we thought the sound was beautiful. But then we ceased to be aware of it, grew uneasy, and quarreled more often among ourselves.
That was during the year of the high winds. Never before had such tumult raged in our village. Sparrows could not fly, but swerved and dropped into calm corners; clay tiles tumbled from roofs and shattered on the pavement. Shrubbery whipped our low windows. Night after night we drank insanely and fell asleep in one another’s arms.

 “That’s rubbish, Papaw, and you know it. Stop cluttering the children’s minds with such talk and finish yer tea.”

“How many years Delilah? How many times will ye hear her voice up there and deny ta yerself that ye have?”

“Papaw, that’s enough! I’ll not be on about this with ye anymore. Leave it be old man, leave it be. Come along little bits, off to the nursery with you, your Mums r’all up the stairs waiting for you. Ah-ah Jimmy yev had enough cakes with tea today. You’re not allowed to have belly aches in Grannie’s house. Go on with ye”

Joshua settled back into the overstuffed pink chair that his granddaughter always had him sit in. *Damn woman!* She probably liked watching him struggle to lever hisself outer the damned thing like some pregnant heifer. *C’mon now Mathers, she’s been stuck with ya now for the last forty odd years. Even her Mum and Gran didn’t have to put up with ye fer that long.* He watched as she cleaned up after the children, clearing the crumbs and settling the tea service back on it’s tray before heading into the kitchen. He could hear the children pounding around upstairs, little elephants. Delilah had proved a wonderful mother, even though he’d had to drag her back home from that blasted French town she’d decided to hide in. And once he’d gotten her married off to Jasper MacLeod she’d settled down enough to act like a proper woman. Too bad Jasper’d gone and died, the stupid fat thing, leaving her with the twins, and her only 22 at the time.
Too much leaving in that girl’s life. His daughter Lillian and her husband, Peter caught up in that tragic train affair, the damned boyfriend in the farming accident, then that husband of hers. He should have just let her run away to France and stay there * Damned woman!* Course, he’d had all those losses too and they’d been there for each other during those times. She probably cursed him as a crotchety old bastard as many times as he thought her a damn woman.

“Alright Papaw. Papaw, are you set with yer tea? Papaw? Joshua… Joshua Mathers!”

“Woman! Ye don’t need to be shouting at me. What’s the problem?”

“Papaw you’re crying again and you’re not listening to the people around you. I’m taking you up to see Doc Quentin in the morning.”

“I’ll not go to that quack! All his fancy certificates and fancier hair, he’s too young to be a proper doctor. No, you just take me up to see the Parson.”

“Not this again. You are not dying just because I want to take you to the doctor ye daft old man. Now wipe yer face and put on a smile. The children will be down soon to say goodbye. Be nice!”

She clicked off into the kitchen again in those shoes of hers. And sure enough the children came pounding down the stairs, Mums in tow. A flurry of kisses, hugs, promises to be good, do well in school and to see each other again next Sunday. In moments he was left in utter silence as Delilah stayed outside waving goodbye from the end of the drive. As touchy as they were with each other he knew she would miss him when he was gone. He knew it wouldn’t be long now, a couple hours at most. He could hear his darling Edith’s voice. He didn’t need to be near the trees or to have the wind soughing through the branches anymore.

“I’ll get your afghan and we’ll head out for our walk, Papaw. Papaw?”

She slid her arms into her sweater and settled on the couch to wait for him to finish in the loo.

*

It wasn’t until days after the constable called off the searches that she found the little pinecone on Papaw’s chair. She hadn’t noticed it in those frantic hours after she’d found him missing and in the numb daze that followed as the whole village searched for him. That’s when it all came crashing in on her, the truth about her Gran, what Papaw had been trying to tell her all these years.
She climbed the hill to the old graveyard, the same walk she had taken every Sunday with him for the past 32 years. She new those stones, the old fence and that copse of cedar trees like she knew her own kitchen. There he was. There were 23 grown trees where there had only been 22 since last year when old man Simpson had passed away.      She’d always thought that the story was just a story. Something the soldiers told themselves, to assuage the guilt of not being there to protect their wives and children, so they wouldn’t have to face what she’d always thought the truth was. The Germans had bombed so many cities and villages during the war, but now she knew she hadn’t been imagining the comforting feeling she’d always felt in this place. She walked to the new tree, “Rest well and be happy you crotchety old bastard.”

The wind picked up as she headed back down the hill and for the first time in her life she didn’t have to tell herself that the voices weren’t real.

Whatever Lola Wants

This is dinner tonight.
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I don’t have a Polish grandmother to smack my knuckles and tell me that any of this is wrong, so…
These are my quick and dirty galumpkis.

*1 head cabbage (place this in the freezer 48-36 hours before prep, take out and place in fridge 12-24 hours before prep – Trust Me, this means you don’t have to cook the leaves)
*2lbs ground meat of your choice – I have used pork, chicken, beef, turkey, hot sausage, veal. A mix of two seems to give the best flavor and texture, experiment with what you like.
*1tsp salt
*1tsp ground black pepper
*1tsp ground mustard
*1tsp dried tarragon
*1/4 tsp cinnamon
*¼ tsp ground clove
*½ onion chopped finely
*2 ribs celery chopped finely
*2 cloves garlic sliced
*1 egg
*2 cups rice – quick cook, instant, whatever works for you, I like to cook mine in stock for better flavor.
*1 24oz can of tomato sauce – NOT spaghetti sauce, too sweet. Stewed, chopped or pureed tomatoes can be used or (my sister uses) tomato juice.

Cook your rice and set aside to cool. At the same time, brown your meat in a skillet with the salt, pepper, mustard, tarragon, cinnamon and clove. Once thoroughly browned add it to your cooling rice. If there is any fat or drippings left from the meat, drain off till you have about 1 tbs left in the pan. Sautee your onion, celery and garlic until just translucent, add to the rice and meat. While this mixture cools take your cabbage out of the fridge and peel off the first two leaves. Lay these in the bottom of your baking pan to prevent scorching and sticking, pour enough of your tomato sauce into the pan to just cover the bottom. Now peel off 8-12 leaves, the number used will depend on the size of your cabbage and how much filling you put into each leaf. I like to put the ribbed side of the leaf to the inside. I use my hands for this part, mix your egg into the rice and meat and place one handful of mix into each cabbage leaf. I then fold in the sides and roll beginning with the bottom/rib end of the leaf. I can fit 7-8 rolls in a 13×9” glass pan and I usually freeze the rolls that are left. Cover the top of your galumpkis with the rest of the tomato sauce and bake at 350 for 20 mins or until warmed through. You can refrigerate, covered, before baking for a few days and then just increase your baking time to 35 mins.

Hope you enjoy, if you try them, they’re one of my favorites!

Toots

Mamma’s Got a Squeezebox

Not so much for words today – lots of pics.
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Aurelia’s 3rd tooth gone : ), my sweetpea sock
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My official DQS2 quilt. Bean decided that this one needed to be hers because it looks like a 100 year old log cabin that hangs in my Mom’s house. Donna from Sydney Australia did an amazing job!! It’s all hand quilted, gorgeous.
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I also hopped on the Country Cellar’s pin cushion swap and my partner, Su, got this little guy to out me. He’s hysterical! My favorite color and he reminds me of a fry guy. I love his hair! I’m stitching hers up this week and hope to have it in the mail on Sat.
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This is the second little quilt from Donna because she knows that I have 2 little girls, how wonderfully sweet of her. Saebra HAD to have this one because of the butterfly, again hand quilted. Wow!!

Thank you ladies SO much – little surprises in the mail mean a lot to me.

I’m gonna go work on finishing my swap pin cushion, my second sweetpea sock and maybe get started on another commissioned mermaid doll, or two.

Toots

The Boy in the Bubble

So,
I finally took pictures today of my 1 finished sweetpea sock (the other is ½ done), my two lovely doll quilts and my new, favoritest evar pincushion but before I forget all about it I thought I would post some pics from Friday night.

Ah Harry Potter. Love that boy.
My genius of a husband wrote a computer “sorting hat” program that was tripped by magnets (I’m sure he’ll post about it eventually and I’ll add a link). So there I was with a magnet tipped wand sorting a 1000 people. The masses LOVED it!!
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That’s the hat, me as Dolores Umbridge, and the seething masses.
And three more of my favorite costumed B&N employees

Mad-eye, Tonks and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named
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All in all it was a great (hot, muggy, extremely loud, exciting) night. I’m glad I was there.

Toots

Its Gonna Take Time

I’m doing my thing. Some days are easier than others. Most days away from very small children are fine, days near them suck. Unfortunately this means I don’t yet feel comfortable visiting three of my favorite spots – I’ll get back there.

Projects have helped with my helpless feelings. Having something with a deadline is a good focus for me right now. I have a super secret project for Melissa (yes Ms. M, I consider this for you and not them – the proceeds will go towards a kicking Thurs night Drop-in!) I finished a block for one of our snb’s famous good-bye/baby/marriage blankets. And I whipped up a little stone and bead pendant for my Step-Monster’s 40th last week.

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I also had the Doll Quilt Swap deadline looming last week (the 12th – I was in the early group) Unfortunately my early efforts were a bit…ambitious. I am not an experienced quilter. Couple that with my recent life, the fact that I am driving a summer camp route with a short bus and my own munchikins on board and I just didn’t have the time I wanted to devote to my original design. So, I tried to think of what my secret swap partner would like but with a me twist. I chose wonderful colors and kept the design super simple with a few blanket stitch details. I’ll tell you more about my choices in a later post – I don’t want to give away who its for! (horrible pictures ugh! maybe she’ll have better ones!)

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I have finished one of my sweatpea socks and have the other on the needles. It’s a great bus project for when I’m waiting at the camp to pick up the kids – fits right into my little lunchbox purse. I’ll try for pics this weekend – speaking of…

If you’re in Holyoke on Friday night I’ll be helping the Hubby out at the Midnight Magic party and getting my grubby little hands on the last volume of the Hogwarts tales. I’ll be near the Sorting Hat – come say Hi.

Toots

Too Soon To Tell

I’m smiling at small things like this and this.

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These are helping.

Strangely I think this experience has strengthened my pro-choice stance. That a woman could willingly do this to herself means (to me) that she’s really done some soul searching, thought this one through and is willing to live with the grief or she’s never really going to grasp what it is that she has just taken away from herself and her partner.
Please – I don’t want anyone to feel offended if you have had to make that decision.
I believe in your choice!
I now know that I couldn’t make it and I just know how hard this is going to hit you later in life – if it hasn’t already – and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers, they’re helping too. I chug along. I have two beautiful faces to keep me going each morning and green eyes to say I love you to each night.

Toots

I Love You More Than I Can Say

I’m taking a short blog break, my heart is breaking.

From a woman who had no desire or plans for more children, I can tell you that a
surprise pregnancy and even more unexpected miscarriage can be devastating.

I still haven’t quite wrapped by brain around it and I haven’t been able to
find the right words to explain to my girls why Mama has been so sad the last
couple of days or if I should even tell them.

I’m sure in a week or so that I will need some busy work to redirect myself and
by then I might be ready to crawl back out of my shell.

Optimus Primal

Tonight the hubby and I are going to see this

I loved this show when I was a kid – It was a beloved daily after-school dose of raw machine. None of this “wait till next Saturday to find out what happens” crap. I actually had a crush on Optimus Prime – like if I was a transforming girl robot we could hook up. And man, if they don’t have the same guy doing OP’s voice I’ll be seriously bummed!
Told you I was crazy.

(It was fantastic – the secondary human story lines (soldiers and hackers) were a little weak/too much but helped tie the whole thing together at the end. Shia LaBeouf rocked, Josh Duhamel and Tyrese were nice to look at but nothing special and I was nothing but impressed with the Autobots and Decepticons. OP was perfection!! They even set themselves up perfectly for a{much anticipated and already in the works for 2009}sequel) 

Actually that wasn’t the first time my poor little brain couldn’t distinguish animated characters from real people. When I was 4, (keep in my my Mom was preggers with my little sister and everything that I knew was about to change – and I knew it!), I actually believed that I was Jason from G-Force (the one in all white with the blue face shield). So much so that I wouldn’t answer to my name – only if you called me Jason.
See, crazy at an early age.

Well, we’re off to enjoy metal mayhem and another impedingly doomed fictitious earth.
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This is what I will be knitting with while we watch – it’ll be another 12×12 super secret blanket square – it’s hand-dyed lamb’s pride.
Toots

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

That is our family pet/science experiment, Sea Monsters.
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This past Christmas the munchikins got this kit, during vacation we set it up. The instructions led us to believe that we would happily experience squirming swimming tinyness for a few weeks, and then all the creatures would die. The instructions also said that if we let all the water dry out and waited another 2 weeks we could fill the container back up with water and start the whole cycle again. So, when there were no more swimmers we ignored it. A couple weeks went by and with barley a half inch of water left I noticed movement. There were new things living in there! They were totally different and there were two kinds of totally different. We’re still not sure if these swimmers were in the original package or if they came from our well water. So I refilled it with water and they have thrived. They have an active algae colony that they feed on and a little bed of detritus (wood shavings that the original eggs came in) that they use for a nursery. Seriously, the first few times we added water the detritus would get all stirred up and mixed around and within 24 hours it would all be back next to the little castle in a tidy little pile!. Lest you think I am making this up – here they are in action.

In other news I replanted my African violets today. I do this about once a year when they have almost finished flowering –I love it! My Gram-cracker (mom’s mom) gave me two plants when we first moved into the house 6 years ago and they’re still going strong. I totally neglect these plants and they do just fine, they have even divided on their own enough for me to gift all 3 of my Moms (birth, in-law and step) on Mother’s day and give them away to friends and family. I prune them really hard when I replant, right down to about 3 rounds of mature leaves – it seems to make the replant transition easier on them, I’ve never had one die. This year I only ended up with one extra plant, just gotta figure out who I should give it to. Anyone local interested just let me know – it flowers in an indigo color with star shaped, 5 petal flowers in May/early June each year.
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All 3 at my sink, my pink beauty (she flowers the longest), headed for the compost
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Needs a good home

Toots