a girl named sue

This is my friend, Sue.  She married a friend of mine from college a few months before The Geek and I got married, so we’ve known each other a long time.  They live not far and yet far enough from here that we see each other only a couple times a year, which is plain retarded. She is one of the funniest people I know, and I know some funny people.  She is an awesome mom, smart as hell and easy to look at.

Tomorrow is a big day for her – she is getting rid of the boobies that are trying to kill her, a sentiment you can get put on a shirt here.  Last month, she discovered she has the Big C. They say attitude is half the battle, and she’s got that in spades. In typical form, she wasted no time in asking the doctors for medicinal marijuana even though she’s not on chemo, and started planning her replacement “porn star” boobs.   When she first found out she was pregnant 16 (17?) years ago, she immediately forbade Dave from leaving the house in case she went into labor.  Now Dave has bought TWO kits for casting her old boobies in plaster and she plans to bedazzle the hell out of them.

No doubt there have been tears shed over this whole business – it’s scary as hell, and not just for Sue, but her family and friends.     Her boys have her back, as do the rest of us, but some people have questioned her decision to lop them both off.  It makes total sense to me.  Why keep something around you have to constantly worry about, when you can get new, improved versions? I could tell you what she says to people who say “but they’re your womanhood!”, but this is a PG site.  Let’s just say her womanhood is located a bit further south.

After the surgery, she’ll know if she’ll have to have chemo.   Our presently-bald friend Robert will stay bald in solidarity if that happens – mostly for the suck-up points – and I will make pot brownies (which I may or may not share).  I haven’t asked her what the prognosis is because I know she will be fine. You do what you have to do, move forward and hope for the best.

I imagine she will be slightly embarrassed to find herself the center of attention here, but I figure if those of you who stop by to read this can send a few positive vibes her direction Tuesday, that’s 50 or 60 more good thoughts floating around out there that sure can’t hurt.  If the worst that comes out of this is a bigger cup size, well, I think it’s something she can live with.  Thinking of you,  Sue.


boy child

Today marks the Boy Child’s first double digit birthday, the second child that almost didn’t happen.  Reason number one: the Geek is an only child and wasn’t convinced the Girl Child needed a sibling.  He was wrong.  Reason number two:  at eight months pregnant, I somehow came down with meningitis.  You want to scare some people, walk into an ER eight months pregnant with a fever of 105.  They don’t like that.  I was whisked post-haste upstairs to OB, where even they didn’t know what to do with me.  They wore haz-mat suits to bring my food in, since they weren’t EXACTLY sure what was wrong with me.  A couple of spinal taps and some serious antibiotics (and a week) later, they sent me home on Thanksgiving.  For two days, til my water broke and back into the hospital I went to try to keep the still-preemie boy child inside.  Apparently he’d had enough of being cooked at such a high temp and opted to make his entrance a month early.  Luckily, though small, he could manage his lungs and body heat and ate well, so off we packed him.  (Of course, I was a bit out of it, so I may be missing some key details, but you get the gist.)

And I mean SMALL – 5 and a half pounds.  None of the clothes or diapers we had fit him. I could carry him around in one arm and he fit nicely in the little basket he slept in. Considering his rather dramatic birth, the going-home part was a piece of cake!  The cat avoided him, and his sister was on the fence about the whole thing.

He is a quirky little dude.  For one thing, he only eats  beige  or white food, unless it’s fruit.  Or candy.  He does enjoy colorful condiments, but only on neutral food – soy sauce on rice, for example.  He will eat the occaisional orange food, but it must come from a box or can.  No homemade spaghetti will cross his lips without a bribe, but bring on the Spaghettios.  We think he might be a “supertaster”.  Or just weird.  Ironically, he likes to hang out and help me cook – just won’t EAT it.

He enjoys taking photos of unusual things.  It is a bit unsettling to see some poo swirling in the toilet when downloading the last camping photos.  Or his tonsils. Or hiney.

He says the funniest things.  A couple years ago, while waiting for Gifted to open in Ballard (home of the much-coveted Ugly Dolls), he said “Time.  It’s a diabolical menace!”  Not too long ago, apropos of nothing, he told me that when he grows up he wants to “be single, and live in a condo in San Diego.  With  a chimp.”  Not sure if that counts as being single.  Also, we’ve never even been to San Diego.

He is the most generous person I know.  He will offer you his last piece of candy, his most favorite Halo figure or anything else that you might indicate an interest in, and expect nothing in return.  (He’s also always on the lookout for a way to make a buck and has 15 ways to spend it the minute he gets it.  We’re working on that whole delayed-gratification thing.  All of us.)

He’s shy and reserved til he gets to know you (and your level of interest in Halo and/or Legos).  He still sleeps with his much-loved-and-patched  “night-night”, actually made for the Girl Child by our friend Ka..ren over 12 years ago.  He usurped it as a baby and never looked back.  He’s got the music in him, though he doesn’t think so.  He’s got a fierce vocabulary and is working on the confidence to use it.  Science might be his thing, but he’s keeping his options open.

His kindness shines at school, where he’s won awards for respect and helping the challenged kids.  He has a gift for empathy that some people will never have.  His shoulder rubs on a bad day are the best, his smiles the warmest, most heart-melting.  He is the light in our family.

Even though he’s my baby, signs abound that the teen-age years are around the bend.  His friend comes over and they play Halo, saying “dude!” an average of 30 times a minute.  Literally.  Somehow, he nearly reaches my shoulder and I almost can’t rest my chin on his head when I hug him. He’s starting to get just a touch of that smelly teen-age boy aroma and his favorite pants are his skinny Levis.

Someday, hopefully he’ll rest his chin on my head.  Even then, he’ll always be my baby. The one I’m forever glad I fought for, a brother for a sister.  Happy birthday, baby boy.

butter of apples

Today I channelled my inner Laura Ingalls and put up some apple butter.  It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, which I cannot understand.  It’s delicious on toast and muffins and over baked brie.  All appley and spicy, autumn on a spoon.  The base for this particular recipe originally came from my friend Lin’s preserving book (the name of which escapes me but I will find!).  It has hard cider in it, for crying out loud!  What’s not to like?! And no, there is no butter in apple butter.  Why they don’t call it apple jam is a mystery to me.

Be warned! This is a sticky business, making apple butter.  Your kitchen will get sticky in places you didn’t even touch.  Just accept it.  You will need:

5 cups hard cider

1.5 pounds cooking apples, peeled and sliced (Granny Smith, Gravenstein, McIntosh, Johnagold, etc)

1.5 pounds eating apples, peeled and sliced (Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Winesap)

zest and juice of a lemon

a bunch of sugar

1/2 tea cinnamon

1/2 fresh nutmeg

Put the cider in a big heavy pan and boil til reduced by half, about 15 minutes.  Add the apples and lemon juice and zest.  Cover and cook til the apples are soft, about 2o-30 minutes.  When they are mashable, press them through a colander to make a puree (the recipe says to use a non-metallic sieve, which I do not have; hence the colander).  Measure the puree  by cups; you’ll be putting 3/4 cup of sugar back into the pot for every 1.5 cups of puree. Also add the cinnamon and nutmeg.  I also added a pinch of chili powder for a little heat and to cut the sweetness.

Cook with a gentle boil til it thickens – should be thick enough to spread, but remember it will thicken a bit more as it cools, at least 35-45 minutes.  Stir it once in a while at the beginning, and more often as it thickens.  At the end, stir constantly. Honestly, the hardest part of this whole thing is knowing when it’s “thick enough”.  The original recipe says it should be the consistency of sour cream, which is whackadoodle.  I was worried I pulled it off too soon, but it set up nicely once it cooled.  Once it was thick enough to decently coat the back of a wooden spoon, I called it good.   Ladle into warm, clean jars and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath (assuming you have canning skillz; if not, ask and ye shall receive).  Let it sit for a few days before using.

I doubled the recipe, since it’s a lot of work for 4 jars.  You will have to increase the cooking times if you do this as well.  Seems like it takes FOREVER to thicken a double batch.  You’ll end up with about 9 half-pint jars if you double it.

De-stickify your kitchen.  Enjoy your apple butter on a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese.

back in the knit of it

At lunch yesterday- a very grim, gray and soggy day- I killed some time in the Barnes and Noble crafty magazine section.  Normally I’d pick up a sewing magazine since that’s my current drug of choice, but it occurred to me that like many things lately (insert: recipes, patterns, plants, house projects) , I’ve been collecting ideas and not DOING.  So I grabbed a knitting magazine.

I learned to knit probably 15 years ago at a yarn store downtown that no longer exists.  They offered lunch time classes and I actually did make a sweater in that class. I have no idea where it is.  Since then, I made a Charlie Brown sweater for The Geek which is *ahem* a tad over-sized but I am afraid to shrink it for fear of irreversible damage, an Icelandic-style sweater (no seams!), a baby sweater or two, a vest, and a few other odds and ends, but my favorites are the hats I made for the bar staff a few Christmases ago.  Based on The Geek’s hat which says “geek” (duh), each one was titled appropriately.  Kat = “gato”, John = “juan”, Dwight = “coach” – wish I could remember them all.  That was some serious crunch time knitting.

I let knitting fall by the wayside a while back.  For one thing, to make a sweater, it takes a LONG time – and I’m a pretty fast knitter.  I’m more an instant gratification gal. The biggest problem is the pain I get in my hands from too much knitting – it starts to hurt too much so that big sweater project never gets finished. Plus, while tempting to buy all the new delicious yarn, if you don’t have a pattern in mind, you don’t know how much to buy, and yarn takes up more storage space than fabric, which you CAN buy and store for future unknown projects.

Anyhoo, the magazines I bought yesterday inspired me to dig out my unfinished projects and random knitting bits.  I know one is at least 5 years old (but still cool!  basically a sweater with just sleeves and a turtleneck!), a purse that will be felted when finished, and a  couple scarves. Luckily I also found a shit-ton of circular needles (expensive buggers) BUT not one single complete set of double-pointed needles, which is a pisser.  I’m thinking I will look on Ebay to fill in the gaps.

The irony in all this is that for the past year and a half, some college pals and I have met weekly at the Roanoke for Stitch.  Before this current group, I would meet there on and off to teach people who wanted to learn, but each time the group would fade away.  This one has stuck and it’s the best therapy ever.  We don’t always knit, but now that the nip is in the air, the yarn is out and needles clicking.  I usually have a scarf I make a piddling attempt at, but my heart hasn’t been in it.  I watch their progress and envy their new knitting toys from afar.

Tonight, I am back in the game.  I will hit the new yarn store downtown at lunch and hopefully discover all the new knitting gadgets that have been invented in my absence.  The interweb is chock-a-block with knitting blogs and free patterns now – one more thing to collect.  I will finish the pre-NYC turtleneck scarf.  And this year, maybe, just maybe, will be the year of the Jayne hat.

Stitch at the Roanoke: Tuesday nights at 6.  Newbies welcome!