Archive for July, 2010
My Grandma (who is one of my personal heroes, and I seriously hope that I am like her when I am her age) finally, at 93, decided that it was time to move out of her house and into a retirement apartment. The house has now been sold and moving plans have been made.
So she is cleaning out her house. Aggressively cleaning out her house. She has lived there for more then 60 years, so there is a lot of stuff to pull out and go through. John and I went to visit her while we were in Cleveland this past weekend, and ended up leaving her house with a trunk full of boxes of memories.
“You like it? Take it!”
I understand the sentiment and the necessity behind her directive. I know that it makes Grandma happy to know that her cherished belongings are going to people who will appreciate them and continue to use them. I know this, and it still makes me sad to pack up boxes of her stuff and put them in my car. Because it is change, and I think of it as a sad change – an end of an era. I am happy that Grandma wants to make sure that I have these things, but the implications make me sad.
I have some of the Russian nesting dolls and other old wooden toys that I used to play with when I was little. (A snafu with the dolls, I accidentally gave my aunt some nesting dolls that my Mom wanted to keep. Sorry, Mom. There were only a few small ones left when I went to Grandma’s and I will bring those back for you when I come to visit next.)
I have some afghans that Grandma’s Mom (or Grandmother, which would be my great-Grandma or great-great-Grandma) crocheted. (I am actually not totally clear on who actually made them, and I think that Grandma wasn’t 100% sure herself.)
I have a fancy blue-and-white doily that my great-great-Grandma tatted.
I have my Grandma’s old travel journals from the 1930s and 1940s. I have a lot of memories of going up to the attic bedroom/playroom/workroom when I was younger, pulling the journals off of the bookshelf, and paging through them.
I have some more antique glass pieces, including a green pedestal candy dish that belonged to my great-Grandma and that is the “mate” of the yellow one that I received for Christmas last year. (I have a lot of antique glass now, and an upcoming project will be to appropriately photo-document, identify, and note down all relevant family stories on each piece. I also have a bunch of books on antique glassware, which should help supplement Grandma’s notes on all of her pieces.)
I have a carved wooden egg that I always admired, that belonged to my great-Grandfather.
I have a serving tray decorated with dogwood blossoms, strawberries, and other fruits and flowers that was one of Grandma’s wedding presents. Grandma would always use that tray at Easter to display her Ukrainian Easter Eggs. I have some of the eggs as well – blown and hand-painted ones as well as some carved and painted wooden ones.
John took a couple of boxes of my Grandfather’s old hand-tools. (We can use a lot of them on the boat.) When we were in the workshop corner of the basement looking through his old (all hand made) workbenches and tool cabinets was actually the first time that I can remember being back in that corner of the basement. When my brothers and I were little, my Grandfather used to admonish us not to go near his workbench and tools – “It is too dangerous! You could hurt yourself” – and it made such an impression on me that even after he died, I never went back there.
My house now has a lot of things that I remember and used and played with and admired at Grandma’s house. And the fact that they are at my house now makes them not quite the same things that I remember. Ahhh, it is hard to explain… Everything just has a different feel, now that they is out of the context (Grandma’s house) in which I was used to seeing them for so long.
She will move while we are on vacation, so I won’t be able to go back to Cleveland to help out one last time.
That was the last time that I will ever see her in her house. In the house that she moved into when she and Grandpa first got married. The house that we always went to for holidays and birthdays and other events and celebrations. Where will we go for Christmas and Thanksgiving now? (Logically I know that we will have those holidays at my parents’ house, but it will take some getting used to.)
While we were there last weekend, I ran around and took pictures around the house. I wish that I had done so sooner, while everything looked the way that I remember and before there were boxes and packing material all over.
Every time my parents and I visit, at some point we end up breaking out the wine, fruit-and-cheese-and-crackers tray, and scrabble board.
Scrabble is something to be taken very seriously. No Scrabble Dictionary with its ridiculous and somewhat questionable seeming words for us (even though my Mom favors it) – it is the OED or nothing.
The first game was fairly normal, with everyone taking the standard “forever” length to peruse their tiles, the placement options available at the time, and finally make a decision. I can’t remember who won, but it wasn’t me. I blame the tiles that I drew. That and the fact the the board layout was one of the worst that I have even played on, with very few available placement options, and was crowded all on only one side of the board.
The second game was more interesting. We wanted to play a second game, but didn’t want it to last forever, so we did a speed game. Everyone got exactly 1 minute to put down a word. It sure cut down on the number of multiple syllable words that were played. And the whole game took about 20, maybe 30 minutes.
It worked well, but I think that for the next speed game, extending the turn length to about 3 minutes might be better.
My aunt and one of my cousins (I have an aunt, an uncle, and seven cousins in northern Spain, and I always found the story of how my aunt and uncle met to be a fascinating one) were in the country visiting over the past month, which was the impetus for John and I going to spend last weekend in Cleveland for a visit. I hadn’t seen any of them since 1999 (11 years! Though I have faithfully sent them Christmas cards every year, and have enjoyed receiving cards in return) when my Mom’s side of the family had a fairly large reunion.
It was nice to see them again, and somewhat eerie how easy it was to fall back into a pattern of idle chit-chat, as though it hadn’t been over a decade since we did more then just say “hi” briefly on the phone.
Hopefully it won’t be another decade plus until the next visit.
I lost the Iron Ring to John last night at fencing practice.
As soon as I had won it at Push, he declared his intention to take it from me. And since it turns out that challanges can be made and addressed at fight practice as well as at an event, he challenged for it at practice last week. Unfortunately, there needs to be a warranted marshal to witness the challenge fight, and John and I were the only two fencing marshals at practice last week.
So he tried again this week. This time we were able to get Sir William to marshal the fight.
As challenger, John chose the form, and picked sword and dagger. Not my best form, since I have been spending most of my time on single sword – German longsword – lately.
At least I made him work for it.
It was a best of 5 set of fights. He won 2, then I won 2, then we doubled out once, and then he beat me.
Ah well. It was good while it lasted.
Maybe I can get it back at Pennsic.
I ate 5 tomatoes (with salt, pepper, and some bits of swiss cheese) for lunch today.
The anticipated tomato explosion has hit, and last night we picked about 20 tomatoes from the garden. Surprisingly enough, the early producers are all heirloom varieties, and the vaunted “Early Girl” tomato plants (which were supposed to …duh…produce tomatoes earlier then all of the others) have not produced a single ripe fruit yet.
Actually, we probably should have picked the tomatoes a day or two ago, but as they are all fancy-colored heirloom varieties, we had to guess as to when the color indicated ripeness. We spent a while waffling between “are they done yet?” and “maybe another day or so?” before actually reaching out and giving the fruits in question a squeeze to see how soft/firm they were.
I think that we were relying a little too much on the pictures on the plant tags to judge the “done-ness” of the fruit, which showed the fruits as being much different then they actually turned out to be. For example, the picture on the tag for the Black Prince heirloom tomatoes showed the fruits as being a very dark, almost black, purple… when in fact the ripe fruits are closer to a medium burgundy. Which was a touch disappointing as we had been looking forward to noshing on really strange colored tomatoes.
They were tasty, though.
I have been looking at a lot of cookbooks and cooking sites lately (gotta find a lot of recipes that use tomatoes) and have been once again struck by the beautiful photography available there. I want to work on that….
The latest hobby at our house is fishing.
It started when I was trying to decide what to get John for his birthday. I finally hit on using the boat project for inspiration… something to do on the boat besides sail around the lake… fishing! When I started to research the types of fish (trout, bass, bluegill, sunfish… river, lake…) available in the SW Ohio region, as well as the different styles of fishing (fly fishing, bait casting, spin casting) and the different weights and permutations of rods and reels and line available for just about every specialized fishing situation that you can come up with, I just started to get overwhelmed. And I took the easy way out. I bought him a fishing license (for which I had to surreptitiously steal his driver’s license) and wrapped it up along with a promise to outfit him with the fishing rod of his choice.
I also signed us both up for fly fishing lessons at Orvis, to see if this would be a style that we were interested in.
It turned out that both of us came away from the fly fishing class interested in trying it out “for real” and seeing if we could actually do it and catch fish that way. We learned the basics of casting (along with the basics of knot tying and a lot of other basics) in the class, and I have to say that fly casting was a lot easier to pick up then I thought that it would be.
Okay, correction. Picking up fly casting when you are standing in a parking lot with an empty line (no fly and no hook) and learning the correct way to flick the line backwards and forwards for maximum distance and with minimal arm/wrist movement, and no “whip crack” was easier then I thought that it would be. I have yet to do it “for real” and see if I still think that it is easy.
We didn’t get a fly kit right away after the class. We wanted to shop around a little bit, and Orvis would have had to order the kit we wanted, as it was out of stock at the time.
We did end up stopping at Dick’s Sporting Goods and picking up a basic spin casting kit.
The day after the class we went to the gun range to do some shooting, and to sight in my new scope (first anniversary present from John) and to try out spin/bait casting. (We took turns with the rod.) We had a fun, though not massively productive day. John caught a bluegill that was deemed to be a “keeper”. I drowned a bunch of worms and caught nothing.
Then we picked up a fly rod and some flies from Orvis, as well as a second (slightly heavier and better quality) spin casting rod from Dick’s.
Following the acquisition of more rods, we returned to the scene of the original crime (Caesar Creek State Park) and had another go at fishing. John lost two flies, he and I lost a hook and bobber each (snagged on something underwater), and this time I was the one to catch the single fish of the trip. (A medium sized sunfish) Which we took home and fried up and ate.
At least we have never returned home empty-handed from a fishing trip, and I look forward to the day when we catch more then one fish per trip.
The “Push for Pennsic” SCA event this past weekend was fairly unremarkable… a couple of tournaments, a couple of authorizations, melee practice, oppressively hot and humid weather…
I also won the Midrealm Iron Ring. The current (now former) holder of the ring (Kelvin) made a big deal about how he was donning his “target” when he was armoring up, so of course he was challenged for it pretty much straight off. Technically, John got in the first challange, but since he was not in armor at the time, it was not a valid challange, making me the first challanger.
As was my right, I chose single sword (German style) as the challange format.
John marshaled the challenge, and declared it to be particularly “brutal”. In one exchange, Kelvin took my legs, but being on my knees didn’t stop me from doing a full-length-of-the-blade drawcut to his neck.
I wish that we had gotten pictures of video of those fights… I would have liked to have the opportunity to critique myself…
So I won the ring. I also have the accompanying “box of history” that goes along with it, that I intend to spend some time poking through. It is custom for every holder of the ring to add something, some little token, to the box. I need to figure out what I want to put in to represent myself.
I don’t think that I will have the ring for long. I am pretty (actually 100% sure) that John intends to challenge me for it the first chance that he has.
The zucchini plants are dead. Not just dead, but uprooted, disposed of, and the ground where they had been was “salted” with some powerful anti-bug stuff (Sevin-5).
They didn’t have root rot. They had root borers. (A quick conversation with a fellow gardener at a fencing practice clued us in as to the precise type of affliction plaguing the zucchinis, and it was on his advise that we took the rather drastic measures that we did.) Hopefully the measures taken will prevent the infestation from spreading to the rest of the garden.
At least we got a couple of zucchini out of them before they died.
And the rest of the garden is still going strong, despite the overly hot and muggy weather.
The garden is doing really well.
We have been eating peppers (green, jalapeno, and banana) out of it for a little while now. We have made fresh pesto, and have been using the herbs in bread (sage and rosemary) and to entice the cats (catnip).
The catnip plant is growing wildly… much more so then the other herbs, but I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised there as it is in the mint family, and mint does tend to spread. Maybe I should plant catnip in that “dead” spot in the front flower bed where everything else that I have tried there dies, and see what happens?
There are even a few tomatoes that are starting to blush from green to pink.
The zucchini on the other hand… It started out really strong. Started growing like crazy, started to take over its corner of the plot and crowd the eggplants and green peppers, bloomed really early, started fruiting early (and started fruiting a lot!), and now… Well, now it has started to go south. It somehow ended up with mildew all over the leaves, despite the recent hot-and-dry spell, and it looks to me like it is suffering from some kind of root rot as well. Plus, whenever I go out to give it a look-see, there are ants crawling all over it. Ants crawling all over it and nothing else in the garden. Which I have decided to take as kind of a bad sign as far as the long-term prospects for the zucchini go.
Despite the bad omens, there is a truly enormous zucchini on the vine, which we plan on eating for dinner tonight.
I had the day off today (hooray for the summer hours flexible schedule) and since it was raining, I couldn’t do any of the outdoors-oriented items on my to-do list, I decided to tackle my office closet.
My office closet is a frightening mess. There are boxes of stuff that I put in there when we moved in, and haven’t touched since. My old laptop from grad school is in there. I haven’t used it in I don’t know how long… since I got the first of many work-provided laptops, certainly. My wedding dress (in a garment bag) is in there. I try not to open the closet doors for fear that stuff will avalanche out on top of me.
I filled three garbage bags full of trash (including the long defunct laptop) and two garbage bags of stuff for the Salvation Army (how on earth did I end up with those four unused laptop briefcases and two unused laptop backpacks? well, they are gone now) that and put a stack of flattened boxes out in the garage for recycling.
I can see the closet floor now. I found stuff that I forgot I had. I found stuff that I didn’t know I had. I threw a lot of it away.
I am not done yet, though. There are still five boxes on the shelf that I haven’t gone through yet. But I am done enough for now. Those will be a project for another day.
Then I will tackle my filing cabinet. Then my desk. Then the bookshelves.