That Which Remains

A few months ago, in a rather singular moment of craziness, DH and I thought about buying a historic house listed at $$$ . . .  I went into historian mode and dug around in the archives for information about the house and its occupants, and found out that what the seller had proudly presented as part of the unique history of the house was wrong.  There it was, printed in a very glossy full color brochure, and it was just wrong.  And I was reminded again how easy it was to rewrite history.

When I research a house, I try to establish a chain of ownership.  Most of the time, all that remains is a listing in the City Directory:  a name, perhaps an occupation, perhaps the number of people in the household.  Sometimes, if I get really lucky, someone will get a mention in the newspaper:  “Miss Lucy Smith celebrated her birthday with a garden party attended by . . . ”

In the case of this historic house, the seller stated that the house was built and owned by a member of a prominent farming family.  A member of the prominent family did indeed live there …  after he married the daughter of the house.   Her parents had built the house a few years after their arrival in the town, and after their deaths, the daughter inherited the house.   She retained ownership of the house, and passed the house on to her daughter.

None of this stuff is particularly important, unless you believe that facts are important.  Even in this era of postmodern history, perpetuating a falsehood is perpetuating a falsehood.  DH and I came to our senses and did not buy the house, and I did not find any more information on the daughter or her daughter . . .  but then, women tended not to exist in their own names.

Which brings me to Miss Mary.  Her little travel diary had been my pet project a couple of years ago, and I was always sorry that I did not know what she looked like.  She was daughter of, wife of, mother of . . .   Then a descendant posted her picture on Findagrave.com (love that website!):

Mary Campbell Andrews Matzinger

Mary Campbell Andrews Matzinger

Finally, Miss Mary!

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Quilting in the Summer: Dogs in Sweaters

Dog in Sweater.3

Dog in Sweater.2

Pattern:  “Dogs in Sweaters” quilt and pillow pattern by Elizabeth Hartman.

Fabrics:  Scraps!  In retrospect, I should have matched the white(ish) background, but I set out to use scraps, and those were the scraps I had.  The darker muslin is from a freebie fabric bag that came with a pack of yarn I bought 20 years ago.  The backing is from a Norwegian duvet cover donated by my dear friend.  The cotton seersucker cover had been her mother’s favorite and was no longer usable because of some rips in the 50-year-old fabric.

Made for:  My non-biological sister in Texas who has metastatic pancreatic cancer.  She is fighting the good fight.  She LOVES dachshunds, and I know she will be amused by this pillow cover!

Modifications:  The original pillow case pattern finished in a size for which there were no readily available pillow forms.  So, I eyeballed it and ended up with a cover that takes a standard sized pillow.  I also did not do the three-layer quilted backing, opting for a double layer of the seersucker.

Thoughts:  I am rubbish at quilting, mainly because I am a piecer, not a quilter . . .  I think the wavy line quilting turned out OK though.  The dachshund required many little pieces of fabric; not frustrating, but needed patience.  So worth the effort for the “cuteness” factor!

The Greater Good

In the summer, my day starts around 5 AM, when I open every window and door in the house.  We are the only house in our neighborhood without air conditioning, so my goal is to get the indoor temperature below 70°F.  And then we close everything around 9 AM, and hope that at the peak, the temperature inside doesn’t go above 82° (or so).  In our previous house, we would turn on the central air at 82°, mainly because the poor little guinea pigs looked pretty wilted at that point …

We made the decision not to have air conditioning when we built this house because we could not justify the environmental impact; call it our “greater good” conscience.  Along with early rising is also early gardening: as I yank weeds at 6:30 in the morning, I have been thinking about Karl Marx:  “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”  My inner snarkiness has resulted in various areas of The Commons now having names:  Cindy’s Folly (a $2000 dream of abundant wildflowers in glorious display is actually 200 feet of exposed black weed barrier with holes for anemic annuals and weeds)  . . .  L&B’s Stupid Strip ((they wanted real grass in the verge next to their house, except the HOA owns only HALF of the strip, so there is now 3 feet of weedy grass — and they think “The HOA” should take care of the weeds because hey the verge isn’t actually their private property) . . .  Joe’s NIMBY (he wanted the frontage but dang it’s a really long frontage and he shouldn’t have to be responsible for shoveling the walkway in the winter let alone picking weeds in the summer) . . .  Adrienne’s Private Dog Park (I mean, where else do you expect Otto the dog to do his business and if no one really uses that walkway then what’s wrong with doing the cleanup just once a week?) . . .

HOA

From gogladly.com

The Greater Good.  From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.  My little corner of the world really can do better, and I am doing a terrible job of containing my frustration and annoyance.  Worst of all, I have turned into a bigger whinger than I had thought possible.

Jump-Yip!_(7116010457)

On really bad days, I visit our local prairie dog colony, where I recently saw the “jump yip” for the first time.  I thought they were just happy to hurry me out of the neighborhood, but the scientists do not have a consensus on the meaning of the jump yip:  warning?  celebratory dance?  seeing if other prairie dogs are being vigilant?  just because?  What we do know is that prairie dogs live in a cooperative community …  And I do not.

So …  on really bad days, I whinge, and yank weeds, and then I remember to smile smile smile, because someone once said that if you smile enough, the smile may become real.  And perhaps I will believe again in the Greater Good.

Knitting in the Spring: Freja

Freja.2

Freja

Pattern:  Freja, from Brooklyn Tweed, designed by Jared Flood.

Yarn:  Rowan Yorkshire Tweed DK.  I recycled the yarn from the Norah Gaughan Tweedy Aran Cardigan  I knitted about 10 years ago.  I loved the pattern, but I just didn’t wear the sweater enough to justify not reusing the yarn.

Modifications:  Because of the DK-weight yarn, I knitted somewhere between size 43 and 47 to have about 6″ ease, and made the jacket longer to cover my hips.  I didn’t see the point of the side shaping at the bottom (the increase, then the decrease), so I didn’t do them.

I didn’t like the collar seam at the back of the neck, so I reworked the pattern just to eliminate that one seam:

Freja.1

Freja collar

I started with a provisional cast-on for one side of the collar extension, worked it long enough for 1/2 of required neck width, then worked the other side of the collar extension using the stitches from the provisional cast-on.  With the back neck now wide enough, the collar extensions were placed on hold, then I picked up the required number of stitches from the neck to work the back piece from top down, casting on the shoulder stitches as I went.  All neck and shoulder shaping were via short rows.  When the armscye depths were achieved, the back stitches were put on hold, and I started on the two front pieces.  I picked up the front panels from the back shoulders and joined the stitches to the collar extensions that were on hold, and knitted each front piece from top down.  When armscye depths were same as the back, I joined the fronts and back on a circular needle to eliminate the side seams.

I don’t like patch pockets, so the two pockets were knitted in, with the pocket lining stitches knitted together with the pocket fronts at the bottom, one row before start of bottom band.  I then had two seams per pocket to sew instead of three.  The pockets are deeper than specified so that whatever I put in them will actually stay in there.

Thoughts:  I enjoy the whole Brooklyn Tweed aesthetics, and this Jared Flood pattern is  the epitome of BT design:  pared down, stylish, and very wearable.  Perhaps I lose some “stability” with my modifications, but the truth is that I am a process knitter, and most of my finished sweaters never get more than two or three wearings per year.  I can almost imagine knitting this cardigan again, with elbow-length sleeves and openwork lapels.

Dalton Quilt

Pattern:  Dalton, from Kristi Schroeder’s Southwest Modern: From Marfa to New Mexico: 18 Travel-Inspired Quilts.

Modifications:  Along with trying to use up my yarn stash before I die, I would also like to use up by fabric stash.  This quilt-as-you-go version of Dalton is a collision between Southwest and shabby chic (lots of red fabric from French General), with bits from Mom’s old clothes.  The backing, the batting, and the binding are also from scraps.  

Floor Quilts:  I moved my piano into our walk-out basement where the temperature is a lovely 70 degrees in the heat of the summer.  Since the floor is polished concrete, it is also a difficult acoustic space.  I have an audience of stuffed teddy bears down there to help with sound absorption, and probably will make more floor quilts as needed.  

Dr. G

Dr. G was my residency program director. I took a year off to regroup after internship year and applied to his program — and he took a chance and let me in for the second and third year of residency. He didn’t like all his residents — the original Match was and is imprecise — but he did in fact pick me personally and thought I was a decent doctor.

He ran a tight ship and was protective of his residents, but you did not want to cross him. He could make life even more miserable than it already was — and if you really pissed him off, he could continue that misery beyond residency. But he was fair. Behind that massive intellect and dedication to practicing “good medicine” was a generous man.

Dr. G died last week after a sudden but mercifully short deterioration in his underlying disease. I was shocked to hear the news: as with Mom, I had assumed that he would outlive us all. In the end he was in the hospital he loved, surrounded by family and colleagues, his attending a former (and favorite) resident from 25 years ago.

My last encounter with him went something like this:

“Are you practicing?”

“Ummm, well, I am a practicing historian . . . . “

“Harrumph.”

I will miss his presence in the world.