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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Suzie's Doll

It began with bathrobe shopping.  I have more difficulty finding a bathrobe I like for a price I like then, well, then I don't know what, but it's difficult.  Last time I needed a robe, after I'd worn myself out searching, I was stopped dead in my tracks by some fabric.  I couldn’t resist those kitty faces purring out at me from thick fleece, and I bought the requisite yardage.  Unfortunately, I used a new pattern and it ended up too big.  Still, it was warm and comfy, and I wore it for years.

This year I finally got tired of looking like a giant fleece bear with kitty cats all over her.  I wanted a change, something prettier and less gigantic.  I saw the softest, sweetest red flannel with leaves entwined all over it, and a few days later, and voila!  I’m wrapped in a cheerful, scarlet robe.  There were just enough scraps left over for a doll’s nightgown.

Have you ever sewn doll clothes?  The seams can be little tricky, picky things.  On the other hand, you don’t have to worry an armhole being a bit tight or loose.  A doll won’t complain if that stiff lace you’ve had for a million years is scratchy, and, most of all, a doll won’t care if you decide the task of elasticizing the wrists is too finicky.  In fact, if you don’t have a piece of fabric quite long enough for the sleeves, a doll won’t whine if they become 3/4 sleeves. What, a doll’s arms are going to get cold? I don’t think so.

During the course of making this little nightgown, the weirdest thing happened.  Okay, if you don’t sew, you might not think this is a big deal, but if you do sew, listen to this.  My spool of thread and my bobbin ran out at exactly the same time!  Not only that, they ran out just as I finished a seam.  I am not kidding!  I’d already bought a matching spool of thread, so I could fill a new bobbin and not miss a beat, but still, what are the odds?  They are astronomical, that’s what they are!  In fact, if anyone else has ever had this happen, let me know!

Anyway, do we have a doll that requires a nightie?  Yes, yes we do.! My Perfect Granddaughter loves her American Girl Doll.  (Hey, I’m a grandma; of course I got her one.) 
Suzie is an avid reader, as you can see below, and we don’t mind if she falls asleep with her face smushed against a book now and then, but, horrors!  Do you see Elizabeth Cole wedged between Suzie and the wall?  Elizabeth has fallen asleep in her clothes! 

She obviously needs this nightgown.  It will be folded, wrapped in tissue paper and make an appearance in Suzie’s Christmas stocking or perhaps under her Hanukkah menorah. 
 Yes, as I have mentioned before, we celebrate everything. We try to up our chances of Santa coming down the chimney or the vial of oil lasting seven extra days. I mean the chances of those things happening are barely greater than the chances of having your spool and bobbin simultaneously run out of thread.

Happy Season of Miracles to you!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Let Sleeping Cats Lie

Wumpus is my new cat, my replacement cat, my a-bit-weird-even-for-a-cat cat.  He is gray tabby on the top and white  bunny on the bottom.  His full name is Wumpus Boris McCoy, but he’s known as Mr. Puss or Wummy or Wum Pudding. 

You’ve heard the saying Let Sleeping Dogs Lie which means, I suppose, that if you suddenly wake up a sleeping dog, it will be startled and will attack you.  I don’t know about that.  All the dogs that I’ve known, if you startle them away, they’ll lift their bleary heads to look at you, flap their tails a couple of times and then go back to sleep.  That’s about the extent of their ferociousness. 

On the other hand, if you startle a sleeping cat, well, then you’ll see some action!  Faster than a speeding  bullet, it will twist itself into a pretzel and sprint away (unless it was the dearly departed Elaine, in which case you’d feel the searing pain of a claw ripping down your hand before she fled).   In most cases, dog or cat, the adage doesn’t seem to be much of a warning for not letting the animal lie there like a lump on the carpet.

The big threat, really, is that the animals won’t let YOU lie.  You want to get an extra hour in the morning?  Unh uh.  A dog will, well, I don’t know what a dog will do because I’ve never owned a dog, but a cat will meow at you, just out of reach until you get up and feed it.  Or it will walk right over you and, just as you're drifting off, over you again, and as you feel the comfort of your bed, over you yet once again, or it will sit on your chest, suppressing panic as you begin to suffocate, or put it’s nose one millimeter away from your nose until you are awakened by staring.  We had one cat that would sit on the night table and push things off one by one until you got the hint.  There went the pen, smack, rollll; then the keys, jingle jangle; then your watch, thump.  Even if the cat suffered from, let’s just conjecture, being propelled off the nightstand at that point, you were good and awake and looking for your watch before you stepped on it. 

Wumpus, however, oh, Wumpus is the gold standard of cat.  (Well, okay except for that one time he threw up all over the quilt I’m working on.  I SAID gold standard not platinum standard). 

Here's Wumpus on the rinsed-and-yackless pocket quilt.  You can see
both the tabby half and the bunny half. Both halves are bunny fur soft. 

Wumpus will let you sleep and sleep.  He will lie on the bed next to you purring until you feel like getting up.  With Steve here for a week taking his spot next to me, he curled up at my feet until I rolled out of bed.  One morning it was at the crack of 8:00.  A couple of times, if he’s been particularly hungry, he has awakened me, I admit, but he’s done so in a particularly peaceful manner and only after 7:30 A.M.  No noisy yowling or throwing of jewelry for him.  He pads right up to my face and touches my eyelids with his little pink nose.  Kisses on the eyelids:  it’s a charming way to wake up. 

In return, I always waken Wumpus Boris with a gentle petting.  Usually, I let sleeping cats lie. because, well, what would you wake them for? 

P.S.  Huh, I just wondered if the adage meant to say Let Sleeping Dogs Lie as in "not tell the truth."  That would have to be a different Blog post altogether. 


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Home Cooking

There it is, a full half page in the magazine: “Enter Our Recipe Contest!  My Mom makes the best . .  . .”  I’m about rolling on the floor laughing.  Gimme a break.  My mother’s cooking explains in part why I so painfully thin as a child, thin enough that she pried open my clamped teeth and poured down disgusting tonic from the doctor designed to make me hungry.  Blech!   How could it make me hungry when it made me retch?   I know firsthand how to cure childhood obesity:  serve my mother’s cooking.  

Fundamentally, we ate a healthy diet.  Every dinner saw salad, a vegetable, a starch and meat on the plate, but here’s the thing.  The salad was -- and I mean every night -- a wedge of iceberg lettuce with a blop of bottled dressing on top.  The green vegetable was boiled until there was nothing left but stringy fiber.  I was an adult before I learned that, yes, vegetables have flavor, and what’s more, I like them.  Meat, the cheapest cut on sale in the about-to-expire bin, was cooked, to be kind, well done.  Any lurking germs were good and dead along with any flavor.

My parents were in early adulthood during the Depression.  The mark it left on my Mom, the mean, black mark was never erased.  It was too bad, really, because when the time came that she could afford to buy new, pretty clothes and tender, flavorful meat, she just couldn’t bring herself to do it.  To the end of her life, she was, let us say, careful, with her money.  Clothing was worn until it had holes in it and then was darned.  My Dad told me that if you'd ever been hungry, really hungry, any food was good.  He was happy; she was happy; we kids never knew any better.

On top of the quality of the food, my Mom wasn’t that much of a cook to begin with.  Conscientious, yes -- we certainly never went without -- but intuitive, inspired, creative in the kitchen?  Not so much.  Her best meal, our “company meal”, was brisket, frozen green beans, potatoes and packaged rolls. The green beans and potatoes were fine.  The rolls often suffered from distraction with the company and got burned.  The brisket, I must say, was unparalleled.  It was indeed a show-off piece, and I often am asked the secret to its tender succulence.  However, it wasn’t brisket every day, let me tell you.  It was thin, tough pork chops or dry meat loaf. 

Yes, dry.  The brisket might be covered with a can of brown gravy, but the meat loaf was served as it stood, not even ketchup to tease the taste buds.  There was no ethnic food. Oh once in a while spaghetti made it on to our plates, soggy and limp, covered with a jar of something.  French food?  No sauces were stirred in our kitchen.  Indian?  She didn’t do spices. 
So how did I grow up to be big and strong and definitely not painfully thin?  Hey, there was ice cream.