Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday Musings.

I have lots of 'things' that remind me of friends and relatives - both living and passed.  A large braising pan that I use frequently reminds me of my friend, Kay, sadly lost to us this year.  I had been cooking something or other and - as is frequently the case (because I will NEVER learn) - was multi-tasking.  My brain+multi-tasking is like oil+water.  It does not mix.  I ended up outside and by the time I came in, the whatever had become a blackened crust, one with the pan.  Just then, Kay called and I whined on and on about ruining my favorite pan.  "Hold on!" she cried and hung up.  Four minutes later, she was bustling through the door.  She took the pan, turned around, and said, over her shoulder, "I'll be back in a little while with the pan."  About a half hour later, she once again bustled through the door (Kay never walked, she bustled) holding my pan which looked better than new.  She was so very special on so may levels.

My all-time favorite sweater is a green/blue mohair cardigan with fancy, lacy panels down the front and down the sleeves.  This was knit by my Great Aunt Edie.  About 35 years ago.  She even made the matching buttons.  She and I had a mutual love of anything green.  She struggled with my backassward way of knitting and finally gave up, happy that I actually loved to knit - no matter how odd it was.  She and I also shared the Christmas tradition of making the gingerbread men; I have very fond memories of the two of us in her tiny kitchen, dusted with flour, GA Edie grilling me on the state capitols.  She was a real stickler on maintaining the dignity of the cookie men.  I had a tendency to put them in different positions.  She would follow closely behind me as I transferred the dough boys to the baking sheets, straightening a leg here, an arm there.  Strictly by the book.  She smoked exactly one cigarette every evening with her daily Scotch.  Our dachshund, Inger, adored her.  So did we.

This time of year I often think back over past holidays - the year I spilled the beans to my youngest sister that our parents had gotten her a toy sewing machine.  I was one of THOSE children - the ones that ferreted out even the most well-hidden gifts.  Good gawd, I was an exasperating child.  Or trying to get high on Whiskey Balls - those delectable spirit-sodden cookies my mother used to bake.  I didn't manage to get a toot on, but I sure did develop a stomach ache.  Or the thrill of coming out into the living room and finding the tree lights on, and our little piles of presents.  Mine was not the age of excess, for which I am very thankful.  We got one 'big' present, and lots of little treasures.  And all three of us would get some of the same things.  I still have the little hammer that came with our first tool kits.

What is the reasoning behind scented trash bags?  Do they really think that imbuing the plastic with Eau d' Sickeningly Sweet Floral Scent will take out the - say, rancid onion smell?  Cat litter?  Those potatoes you discovered in the back of the vegetable bin that have been there since early 2012?  Why are we constantly trying to cover up smells?  It makes me think of those city folks who are all giddy to have a country place, and then are jolted upright in their designer Carharts when the farmer next to them spreads manure on his fields.  Instead of spraying chemicals, I may add.  Although, truth be told, my farmer neighbor does both. 

And, speaking of scents, who is in charge of  those vanilla scents?  I have yet to find a candle, spray or any other scent-releasing method that calls itself vanilla and actually smells like vanilla.  I tend to be sensitive to strong smells that lean in the fake floral direction.  As in GAG.  The only candles I can burn are unscented or pine.  Pine that smells like pine.  Now, if I could find a lemon-scented candle that smelled like real lemons, I would burn those babies day and night...


  1. What a perfect "musing"! I have a cast iron Dutch over that is well over 100 years old [A wedding gift to my Father's Mother at her marriage in 1896.My father taught me to do beef ribs in it and to this day the sight of it brings back delightful memories. Food, family and history. Your Aunt sounds so wonderful...we were never allowed to change our gingerbread men either! Bless your household.

  2. Fiona - I enjoyed your post about laundry -- hysterical, but true. At the end of the weekend, my jeans can stand on their own. I have a cast iron Dutch oven that I love, too. But I doubt it's got the history yours has...

  3. I am a green color girl as well. You should see my closet, every shade there. I also agree about the fake vanilla scented anything! I go out of my way to buy only unscented candles. Now that I know how to make my own candles, mostly with the leftover unscented candle wax, I think I'll buy some essential lemon or lime oil & add. hummmm.

  4. Great Aunt Edie had it all figured out and what a wonderful friend Kay was for you.
    Manure and city people oh yes I get that one:). Love my cast iron pot. B

  5. I love you sharing your memories with all of us.

    Ah, yes, all those horrible unnatural scents trying to trick us into believing they are something they are not. I have an allergy to most concocted scents including expensive perfumes so it's only unscented candles in our house. EXCEPT years and years ago I was given two small (maybe three inches high) pots (that look like Boston bean pots) filled with vanilla scented candle wax. And they actually smell like real vanilla! The downside is I never burn them anymore because the candle wax is nearly gone . . . and I don't want to use it all up!

  6. I used to get tons and tons of presents at Christmas as a child - or so it seems in my memory - but I get my own children one big present and a selection of smaller things that will last beyond the initial wow. Santa currently gets credit for the wow, at least with my son, but that will change soon enough...

  7. Oh, yeah. Smells. Like folks who move next to a farm, or a trailer house, or whatever and then get bent out of shape because "those people" are ruining the value of their home. Come on, folks, were you blind as well as dense when you moved there?!?!?
    I'm with you on the candle scents. I seldom use them just for that reason.

    We never got much for Christmas and odds are, it was clothes, which I had to try on to make sure they fit before they were wrapped for the tree. Geez.