You can’t stamp out bad puns
Wednesday December 30th 2009, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Family

Pizza for Sam’s last night home. The conversation came around to her very tall father’s experiences walking into Shakee’s Pizza in Maryland at 12 years old and having someone automatically stamp his hand, because of his height, as being old enough to buy a beer to go with his pizza, while he was going, huh?

With shrimp, dill, and capers on Sam’s side of the pizza, we got to talking next about spices. “Saffron is the most expensive in the world, and you know what the second most is?” she asked.

“No, what?”




(I being short in this family), “So, if you go into an expensive pizza joint they’ll cardamom?”

She looked at my Richard.  “It is a credit to you that you have stayed married to this for all these years.”  He grinned right back.

Gull-y, lookit that
Tuesday December 29th 2009, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Family

On the way to the airport, yonder son-the-older was doing what his siblings have been doing before him:  giving me a hard time about my ten-year-old clunker minivan. The thing is a piece of junk inside and out, yea verily, no denying.  Since I just laughed off the pride argument, he went for the mechanical one.  Hey, it still drives!

After we got home from dropping them off, I picked up the paper and there was an article saying most people don’t realize that all state and local taxes are, through the end of this year, deductible if you buy a new car.   Now.  Your Stimulus Plan at work.

And, it turns out… If you buy a plug-in electric starting Dec 31st, you get more tax-credit happiness.  For Just One Day, then, carbuyer nirvana.  (Right. And do you know how many plug-ins are available on the American market right now?  Do you know how many books I’d have to sell to get my dream Tesla?   The dealership is four miles away, but I’m told they charge $2000 just for the test drive.  So close.  So far.)

Now, my out-of-pocket medical for the year would have paid for a Toyota Yaris with all the options and a year’s worth of gas, so the clunker stays for just a little longer. But that conversation did get me looking, at least. And showing this new thought to those who are still here at the house.

What? What? Hey, *I* thought it was a cool-looking car…!

(And now nobody’s complaining about the clunker.  Hey, I’ve been a mom a long time, I know how to do this.)

The way it goes
Monday December 28th 2009, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Michelle was envisioning how to sweep away “this yarn infestation,” quickly explaining that she meant how to better organize it.

I say my needles just need to get out more.  (Don’t miss the caption.)

Telling a good yarn
Sunday December 27th 2009, 9:05 pm
Filed under: Family

Old Maryland pictures and random thoughts:

Our John gave a wonderful talk this morning.  From the heart.  It’s good to have him home. Best Christmas gift of all.

Sam and Michelle gave me a cone of Elann silk/bamboo yarn in a pretty shade of pink–the same color I knitted up for my surgeon’s wife, wishing I had a shawl that color too.  And now I will.

Richard-the-younger and Kim gave me Blue Ridge brand sock yarn in the colorway “Rock Climbing,” which got them our Blue Ridge Mountain honeymoon story that would totally skunk any others–truly–and a grin at their sister’s rock climbing.   Y’all should try the spot below where Sugarloaf Mountain is pictured all over this post, even if the grips someone installed in the stone cliff face down there are messing with my childhood memories of Easter Weekend hikes to the top in the natural serenity of the place. (Well, as serene as you get with six siblings all trying to beat each other to the Civil War cannon at the top while Mom and Dad yell at them not to go out of sight.)

Wait, Easter?!  We’re not done with the Christmas music here yet.  Quick, to the piano!

The whole family
Saturday December 26th 2009, 6:06 pm
Filed under: Family

Richard and Kim arrived yesterday afternoon at the airport, making our Christmas dinner and our joy complete.

This is the first time we’ve had all the children together since they’ve all grown up and been out on their own.   I wondered how it would all come together; I am here to say, while I have a moment while they’re out running an errand together, that I am extremely proud of them and of how much they’re enjoying each other’s company.

I think of the ten-year-old granddaughter of our older friends Conway and Elaine that I met at their youngest son’s wedding reception; that cute little girl, who seemed a bit shy then (and understandably so) among all the adult strangers, is now my beautiful, talented, and exceptionally kind daughter-in-law.

Today the boys tackled a task that has been physically beyond me for several years, and got it done. Michelle and Sam, who both love to cook, have been running the kitchen.  Everything feels like it’s coming together.

I remember a conversation with Cathy, a nurse then working for my family practitioner, back when I had four kids age six and under: she told me that when she got done with cooking the dinner and everybody was finished eating, she simply sat back–her kids were in charge of the cleanup and the dishes.

I remember looking at her in awe and going, Wow, how would that be? I looked forward to the day when I had a kid old enough to do the dishes!

I am here to tell every young mom, that day came.  But it didn’t stop there. It only got better.

Merry Christmas to all
Thursday December 24th 2009, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends

Even if the kids could only bake enough cookies for a few, really, today. (They covered the table with paper plates full of fresh cookies ready to go, including my husband’s family’s specialty of Grinch-colored spritz Christmas trees with a red hot on top.  A batch of chocolate ones got baked and added at my request, but the kids did it all.)

Trying to get five adults to agree where to be at one time, with two cars involved, while preparing for Christmas and the two more adults to arrive, is…entertaining.  Visions of caroling were met with “But do we have to SING?!”

To which I answered, as I told Cliff when he opened the door at his dad Don‘s house, “Just two words’ worth: ‘Silent Night.’  I mean, c’mon, think about it.”

Merry Christmas to all, and to Santa, and everybody else traveling, a good flight.

Mugged by chocolate
Wednesday December 23rd 2009, 11:17 pm
Filed under: Family

I recently got a package I wasn’t expecting.  Inside was a wrapped birthday present from one of my older sisters: a book on hot cocoa.  (Wait–did she find out I have a blog?! She reads it?  Who knew? Oh– *hi*, Carolyn! And thank you!)

After John got home last week, he saw that book the next day, picked it up, and laughed, “I saw that and I nearly bought it for you for Christmas!”

Sam flew in late last night, saw it today, laughed, picked it up, flipped through a few pages, and said, “I saw that and I nearly bought you that!”

Man.  It’s like they’ve got me pegged or something.

The truffle almonds have now been approved
Wednesday December 23rd 2009, 12:27 am
Filed under: Family

Sam’s home from Vermont!

It’s oak-ay now!
Tuesday December 22nd 2009, 12:13 am
Filed under: Family

Amazing (there’s that word again, hope I’m not being boring, but it really is) how much easier it is to begin, work on, and finish a job when there are two doing it together who enjoy each other’s company.  Hey Michelle! Look at this picture of you at two!  A deadline is a whole lot of help, too–along with the reminder to myself that this was in celebration that I could DO these things this time this year, when last time around the sun, no way.

But first I had to get past the “Begin: the rest is easy” part.

Michelle really wanted that thing given a makeover, and I looked at her this morning and said: “So does that mean I can’t sing in desk-can’t?”

Happy Birthday, Mom!
Sunday December 20th 2009, 4:33 pm
Filed under: Family

And me a December baby, too… (I wrap my family’s birthday presents in Christmas paper in April and June because if they get to do that, then I do, too.)

It wasn’t till we were halfway through that I realized we were serenading my mother over the phone just now with “Happy Birthday,” only, to the tune of “We wish you a Merry Christmas.”  (Quick! John! Everybody! Think up the same last line on the fly and sing it together as if we planned this!) …”We wish you a happy birthday,” (we looked at each other like, uh, oh, stumbling a moment to) “And the whole rest of the year.”

No, wait, we mean more than 11 days’ worth, we mean, like, for all of being 79, and and and…

Well, hey, she laughed.  That worked. Happy Birthday, Mom!

All together now, 1, 2, 3
Saturday December 19th 2009, 10:08 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Amazing how much bigger the laundry room is with a new dryer in there, set back against the wall where it rightly goes.  As of today.  (Thank you Rachel!) It doesn’t need to be pulled two feet forward to work–and it doesn’t burn the clothes. (Yes, we cleaned the old one’s hose out and cut it down by half; it still did that.)

Amazing how nice it is to be able to know one can now do the mercifully ordinary task of loading clothes or sheets into the dryer and they won’t come back out with little permanent burn marks.

I told Richard a year ago that if he put the exercise bike away in an unused kid’s room, I would never use it–so he assembled it right there in the dining area of the kitchen.  Not exactly lovely, but effective product placement, definitely. I got in the habit. I do use it.

Amazing how much bigger that room is now with it out of there. As of today.

Amazing how much bigger Richard-the-younger‘s room is with it moved in there but lots of other stuff cleaned out.  As of today.

Amazing how good those cookies Michelle baked for Nina came out, dairy-free and all. Yup, she made them today. Two types, filled, one, her first try at piping, and she did a superb job of it.

Amazing that they found the fake tree in the garage and actually got it set up.  As of today.  (No, it isn’t the same. On the other hand, the allergies found themselves not on the list of invitees and stayed away.)

Amazing how much we got done today–and two Christmas parties on top of that.

But before we left for those, my kids saw me starting to push the bike out of the kitchen area and were appalled: Mom! You can’t do that, let US do that!  But…but…  Together, with much effort, they carried the thing down the hall and maneuvered it into their big brother’s old room.

Their dad came around the corner just then and told them, You DO know that thing’s on wheels, don’t you?

Now.  Pardon me while I go fall over. In my nice, embiggened, cleaner house.  The kids? They’re at more Christmas parties, visiting with their friends while they’re in town, too.

Amazing that they grew up already and we didn’t even need to drive them there!

Waiting for my superpowers
Friday December 18th 2009, 6:54 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

You know, that tingley Spidey sense and all that.  (I know, those look more like weevils, and this must be Spiderman’s cousin Webster.  He lost an s and his weapon it went with and is left with only wordplay.)

Michelle shrieked at a small scrambling cluster of spiders the other day while getting John’s room ready for his homecoming, and I went Eh, gimme that vacuum hose, I’ll get’em for you.

It is very useful at times to have impaired pain nerves. On the other hand, so sometimes I don’t have as much sense as I should; I decided today, when the swelling on my finger was worse, to play it safe and take it to the doctor.

I’m told it should clear up in a week or so.  But hey, I can still knit okay, and there’s some blue Manos Silk blend going at a good clip.

But still just not fast enough to knit all the things I wish I could in time for Christmas. Okay, so, that method didn’t work.  Mrs. Weasley?

Traveling man
Thursday December 17th 2009, 6:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

(Ed. to add: I wrote this for every young mom who gets told–and it happens to all of us–that just watch out, her kids will be horrible when they’re teenagers. I’m here to say that even though mine have all left the teenager stage, that teenagers actually are wonderful and interesting people to have around and they only get better with each year that passes.  And that message, I like to think, is what this mom was seeing: looking at John and his interactions with them and then me and seeing the future progression of her own son and daughter.)

At the airport, there was a young mom also waiting for her luggage to appear who was holding a very tired-looking 15-or so-month-old.  I opened my purse and, with a few words, handed her a bright pink handknit flamingo fingerpuppet, her three-year-old clinging to her leg and her hands full, with me hoping one more thing wouldn’t be too much to hold; the little one didn’t look at all in a mood to reach out towards a stranger for it.

The mom’s face totally lit up.

Turns out John had been sitting by them on the plane. The kids had been tired and crying off and on, but he could sympathize with their wanting to be home and in bed and not understanding why they couldn’t be. They were absolutely adorable little ones. End of story. So he told her they were and made a friend for life on the spot.

I did not know at the time why she smiled at me and then at my son as she looked at that flamingo in her hand, affirming–I had utterly no idea yet what.

But her kids were absolutely adorable.

He’s HOME!!!
Wednesday December 16th 2009, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Family

Flipping out: now let’s see if I can get this gadget to work.

John, seen at a distance, coming from around the corner and towards the waiting area in front of the airport gate.  Dad holding camera. Mom holding small Flip video camera but after the initial aiming it at John’s approaching face, ignores Flip pretty much and focuses on her kid; Dad holds camera steady.  The grins get only bigger and bigger, and that last little bit, nobody can stand it anymore and John and Mom, at least, are running towards each other.  (Sorry Dad–not paying attention to you at this point.)

Massive hugfest ensues: John and Mom, then John and Dad with Mom suddenly remembering to capture something on the Flip other than that steady walk and the blur that must have have been there with the running and the arms being thrown around each other after two years apart. So. Steps back a step to get them both in the frame, captures the grins from down below (boy, am I short some days.)

Come evening time, Mom decides that maybe she could share that video, and as for the blurring that must be there, hey, it’s all good, right?

Asks for help from resident geek.  Dad plugs Flip into computer.   Silly Flip takes forevvvvvvvvverrrrrrrr… And then says it only has one video in it.

Which is of Mom typing away on laptop in hospital in August, suddenly looking up, seeing Flip in face, and if looks could kill… Oh my. I’m still laughing. No you can’t see it.

Turns out, when that one got loaded onto computer, said computer backed itself up–its whole memory, or as much of it as it could–onto that Flip. We have not a clue why.

Memory full. Today didn’t record.

Like (expletive deleted, she typed primly) it didn’t. Maybe not on a bunch of electrons, but… !!!

Tuesday December 15th 2009, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Family

If the timestamp on this blog were right, I’d have one less hour to have to wait: John comes home tomorrow afternoon!

The plum sauce awaits.