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Halloween grab bag

Well, happy Halloween. I don't have candy, but we never seem to get trick-or-treaters at the apartment complex. I might help 

pinkleaderhand out candy at her place, but we'll see - she mentioned it last night, but I left fighter practice last night rather precipitously after realizing that pain =/= good time.  Sorry.

It's frustrating; and since Bob wasn't there to make me feel better, I booked before I started crying and being a total buzzkill. In addition to the hurt, I'm so slow - which I could deal with if trying to be faster didn't hurt so much.

Gah. Depressing. But I miss fighting rather badly. I may try again next week, but perhaps I'll fight people who don't parry so hard (until I can get my disengages back up to speed).

But enough about that. I prefer to write about random stuff that hits my mind, because then I don't have to think about pain. 


 Random thing #1: Anyone who drives below the speed limit in a mustang should have that mustang taken away from them and be given a more suitable car, such as a Reliant Robin.  Seriously; creeping along slower than everyone else is an insult to that car.   

Especially in the fast lane.

 #2:  You know that commercial (it plays on the radio and TV) for Geico that features the Gecko telling you that choosing between your Geico options is like being asked to dinner by the Queen and choosing between the castle or the palace?  He ends with "...either way, you're getting filet mignon".  I always think "...yeah.  Boiled".  

The English penchant for ruining food is quite legendary.  While we do have many fine culinary delights (roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with redcurrant sauce comes to mind, yum!), there is a certain truth to the idea that boiling food into inedibility is a national pastime.  Which leads me to random thing...

...#3:  One of the reasons we have this reputation is that when WWII came along, there was great demand for factory workers, and many servants quit their jobs in the households of the middle and upper classes and went to work for the government producing armaments for the war.  My Grandmother lost her cook, which was a bit of a blow because until then, she had never had to cook a meal in her life.  While she could make a very nice raspberry sorbet, the finer points of vegetable cooking eluded her until the end of her days.  After the war, many former servants decided that working in a factory paid better and was pleasanter than domestic servitude, and an entire generation of women had to learn how to cook and clean without domestic help.  While my mother is a fantastic cook, my grandmother could turn any vegetable into grey mush with consummate skill.  

#4:  My Grandmother could, however, sew rather well (needlework being a skill all gentlewomen were still expected to learn well).  She got me started on embroidery and sewing, and made rather lovely needlepoint cushions (I have a great liking for embroidered cushions, but have to search long and hard to find ones that are affordable and reasonably soft).  My mother eschewed most forms of domestic womanhood in favour of, reasonably enough, financial independence and a job that paid well, and I remember feeling extremely useful every time she needed a hem fixed or a button sewn on because she had no idea how to do it herself.  She is quite impressed by my embroidery skills, and was sweet enough in her most recent letter to snort that she didn't see why Plimoth needed so many people to make an embroidered jacket when I had made one all by myself.  :)  

#5:  I have my twill to start the bed cover - it arrived yesterday.  The wool has not arrived yet, since the quantities I ordered needed to be special ordered (or something), but I have been working on a test piece on a random scrap of linen with similarly coloured wool I had in my stash.  I will probably finish that today, and I'll have photos tomorrow.

And that's that.  Enjoy your Halloween (if you celebrate such things), don't make yourself sick on candy, and try not to run over any children, even if they are egging your car.  As far as I know, that's still not considered a justifiable reason for vehicular assault.  Except maybe in Texas.


( 33 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
Oct. 31st, 2007 10:30 am (UTC)
#3 -- Interesting... I never put two and two together like that before. Wow. Thanks for the insight.

My mother, of course, has no such excuse. She boils everything until it's all the same shade of grey and she certainly never had a cook.
Oct. 31st, 2007 10:34 am (UTC)
My mother told me about my grandmother's experience with the phenomenon, and it was later confirmed during my research into the WWII home front. It seems obvious after you hear it, that since all the men were off fighting, the women were needed to work, but people forget to wonder where all these women came from - and what they did before the war. :)
Oct. 31st, 2007 10:39 am (UTC)
I'd always wondered when that change happened. It seems like even "normal people" in England (people of my income level) had a maid and a cook up until the War and then didn't afterwards, but it never occured to me that it's because the former servants found better work in the factories. Thanks for the insight!
Oct. 31st, 2007 01:38 pm (UTC)
In rural areas the practice continued well into the late 60s. We always had a "lady who does" come a couple of days a week to do the heavy cleaning and help with the laundry.

We weren't at all well off, my dad was the principal of the local village school, but we did have status in the village (along with the vicar, doctor and largest landowners) and had to keep up appearances of course.

My mom worked, but could still do both beautiful embroidery and mending - everything from sewing on buttons to darning socks. My maternal grandmother was a milliner. My paternal grandmother was from a completely different social strata and did little that was useful other than play organ for the church (my paternal grandfather had been organist at Chichester cathedral and a minor composer).
Oct. 31st, 2007 12:46 pm (UTC)
My mother grew up on a farm in South Dakota...her mother learned to cook during the Great Depression. It took ten years of cooking classes and SCA feasts to teach her that food can come in colors other than gray, and textures other than mush or boot-sole. The things she used to do to a pot roast would make you cry...

She's better now, though. She's even learned to like food with...[gasp] seasoning. We ate vietnamese for lunch the other day, and she didn't even complain it was too spicy - mush to my surpise, she commented that the "spicy" thing she ordr of the menu seemed pretty mild.

I didn't have the heart to tell her that the staff automatically tones it down, unless they KNOW you can handle highly seasoned. As I dip my summer roll into fish sauce with bird peppers...you can practically hear it sizzle.

Oct. 31st, 2007 11:16 am (UTC)
Thanks for the interesting post. My grandmother was also an English gentlewoman, but at the outbreak of the war when my grandfather was called up found herself living in a small cottage owned by her family three miles walk from the nearest town, with no running water, electricity, gas or plumbing, together with four children under 5. She somehow found the ability to make quite delicious meals out of next to nothing but still boiled the vegetables to green sludge. Fortunately my mother moved to Australia and learnt better.
Oct. 31st, 2007 11:23 am (UTC)
She is quite impressed by my embroidery skills, and was sweet enough in her most recent letter to snort that she didn't see why Plimoth needed so many people to make an embroidered jacket when I had made one all by myself. :)

That same thought had wandered across my brain as well. Though I did NOT wonder why you didn't want to do a second one all by yourself. *g*

#3-4 - I'd never thought of it from that perspective, but I would not be at all surprised to find you'd hit it on the head. Someone should tell Gordon Ramsey! I had the reverse upbringing - independent farm women who had darned well better know how to do for themselves. Except the one black sheep who moved to Detroit and was the Housekeeper for a VERY wealthy family. SHE is the only one I ever saw do needlepoint (though my mother is an expert at freeform embroidery). She's also the reason all of her nieces took piano lessons (she paid for it), and why all of us to the third generation can set a formal place setting and care for pure cotton, non-permampress linens. Odd, whot?

I have to go back up my little one's Halloween costume for school. And after work get up my porch decorations and set out my candy. I'll probably get around 200 of the little rug rats. Several years ago, my husband (who shaves his head - this is relevant) handed out candy wearing his doublet, black hosen, a white shirt, and sword. One of the little kids looked him up and down and said "Inconceivable!" I still giggle. 'Specially since he's about 6'.

Hope you're feeling better this AM. Have a spooky night!
Oct. 31st, 2007 01:23 pm (UTC)
...Let's just say that the Plimoth jacket would have taken me four times as long to make. And they're sharing the love. :)
Oct. 31st, 2007 04:49 pm (UTC)
*handed out candy wearing his doublet, black hosen, a white shirt, and sword. One of the little kids looked him up and down and said "Inconceivable!" I still giggle. 'Specially since he's about 6'.*

thanks...now I have to clean the snorted coffee off my computer screen...
Oct. 31st, 2007 11:37 am (UTC)
My grandmother was one of those who went off to work during the war (Rolls-Royce) while also taking care of her mother... luckily she could cook too, well, right up until she discovered she had high blood pressure and begun to boil everything while dropping salt out of her diet.
Am slowly getting her cookbook online too
Oct. 31st, 2007 12:26 pm (UTC)
Interesting! My Irish grandma's "boiled dinners" were always fabulous!

A different sort of thing, though: ham chunks and the bone with cabbage, onion, and potatoes, salt well and cover with water. Boil til the potatoes are done. Dee-lish!
Or kielbassa, chunked, in a pot with a can of saurkraut, green beans and onion, cover with water, boil til done. Yummy!
But her chicken and dumplings, duly boiled, was the best.
Oct. 31st, 2007 01:25 pm (UTC)
See, my grandmother could boil all that down to a thin grey paste. No-one could ever work out how she managed it; her skills with a dead vegetable were legendary in the family.

We think her attitude was "alright, so I have to cook, but I'm not going to like it." *pause* "...nor are you". :)
Oct. 31st, 2007 04:06 pm (UTC)
Oh, yum! Wants some for supper .....
Oct. 31st, 2007 01:13 pm (UTC)
When my Great Aunt Mary cooks, it starts out grey and gets worse from there. Thank God I can just hold up my epi pen and say "Allergic" so I don't have go through the polite torture of eatting any of her cooking during the holidays. (I have tons of stories. Feel free to ask at the next event)

I think fabric.com is having a wool sale...again...

If you are in car/truck/RV/bandwagon and it's under assualt, you can say you were scared for your well being and safety while driving over the assaultant. You might still get a fine, but it will be a slap on the wrist.
Oct. 31st, 2007 01:14 pm (UTC)
My mother is English, and so was Granma, of course. But both are/were tolerable cooks. But then Grandad was an engineer and they never had servants in the house. Very interesting. Hope you're feeling better soon.
Oct. 31st, 2007 01:25 pm (UTC)
I must have missed the "English food sux" part of the 20th century, because I *loved* the food there. Everything tasted superior to what I've had over here. Strawberries were never so sweet, and cherry tomatoes... OH. MY. GOD. Freaking delicious. Even Burger King for some reason tasted unlike junk food here.

Of course, I had a foodie ([Bad username: edmndclotworthy"] dragging me to the best restaurants on the south-eastern side of the island in addition to making all of my meals when I wasn't eating out. I don't think I've eaten so well in my life than the three months of my internship. :)
Oct. 31st, 2007 01:32 pm (UTC)
Real food is marvelous, and the combination of lush wet springs and mild winters mean delicious vegetables. My great-aunt's gardener and cook produced amazing vegetables and fruit - I remember eating fresh gooseberries right off the bush until I was sick - and my great-uncle (I am told) had a gorgeous hot-house where hegrew grapes, oranges, and other exotic fruit.

I am convinced that the problem started with the upper classes being forced to go into the kitchen for the very first time in the twentieth century. Since then, food has become much more chic (look at the rise of celebrity chefs), and the ability to provide a first-class dinner all by yourself is considered a social coup for all classes.

My mother, like I said, is an amazing cook, and loves to give parties. She always let me "help", and I remember wrapping my first stuffed grape leaves under her tutelage. I think she felt okay about cooking because it was an egalitarian activity, and therefore not perpetuating outmoded female stereotypes - something that I think is more of an English attitude of her time than an American one.

...I can go on about this for hours. :) Perhaps I should write a post about it sometime.
Nov. 1st, 2007 01:06 am (UTC)
Oooooh, definately!

PS. *hugs* on the not fighting
Oct. 31st, 2007 06:37 pm (UTC)
I suspect it's the additives and substitutes that are more pervasive in the US. Like using high fructose corn syrup for everything here rather than real sugar.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 31st, 2007 01:28 pm (UTC)
...sweet enough in her most recent letter to snort that she didn't see why Plimoth needed so many people to make an embroidered jacket when I had made one all by myself.

I think I love your mother. :)

I hope your pain is passing. I know how draining it is and am amazed, again, at how well you maintain your humor through it all. That shows what a big heart you have. (And in the back of my mind, I hear a wolf's voice say, "My! What a BIG heart you have, little girl!" *Lick lip* Guess I should drink all of my morning cuppa before I comment. Heh.)
Oct. 31st, 2007 01:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :) Last night it was a combination of dismay at my slowness, pain, and the destruction of the little voice in my head that muttered hopefully "maybe it won't be too bad!". The pain is always there, in part because we're busy building a house, so extra time for consultants and second opinions is lacking.

I'm maintaining okay, except for when I get the fool notion in my head that I should fight rapier.
Oct. 31st, 2007 02:48 pm (UTC)
Oh, I wish I had those excuses for my family! We've been in America way too many generations to fuss.

Both of my grandmothers were exceptional cooks. My maternal grandmother made all of the Cajun staples -- gumbo, jambalaya, shrimp and chicken Creole -- along with mincemeat and pear pies that I've never enjoyed anywhere else. My paternal grandmother was a maven of comfort food -- creating delicious pickles and venison stew and baked breads of every variety -- and she was able to take any sort of game or fish brought home and make epicurean delights -- like squirrel and dumplings (watch for the shot, dear) and a fried venison that would fall apart before you could start to chew.

Somehow, this cooking gene missed my mom. She was the youngest of five girls and a rebel. She started driving a truck on a construction site in her teen years for money, when she wasn't barrel racing or being a majorette.

I didn't realize that meatloaf was supposed to be edible until I was an adult.

Fortunately, I've been blessed with not only a little tutaledge from my grandmothers but a lot of input from friends and a chance to peer over the shoulders of known chefs (this is where being a journalist rocks). I know that some of my feast-y items have been a bit odd, but what the heck -- they tasted good, so what's the problem?

And I've even convinced Mom that you can make and eat some things at home -- like Oysters Rockefeller, creme brule, Doro Wat and curried cauliflower.
Nov. 1st, 2007 10:04 am (UTC)
Heh - I remember getting pheasant one year for Christmas dinner - "what are these hard bits?" "Buckshot, dear. Put them on the side of your plate and don't eat them."

Makes you wonder if the English upper classes owe a little of their famous inbred insanity to the sheer amount of lead shot they've inadvertently eaten, eh? =)
Oct. 31st, 2007 04:30 pm (UTC)
It really is okay to go to practice and work on drills the entire evening until things don't hurt quite so much. Fencing is a bitch until your thighs and shoulders get the memo that they're supposed to be taking orders from your reflexes not your brain going "oh crap! incoming!!"

Hang in there.

Oh, and crying? Is normal. It's a stress shunt, but I suspect you're already aware of that. It's perfectly okay to walk off, pop your mask, get some water, breathe deeply, and let the feeling of overwhelming frustration pass before you go back in. So your eyes leak. Some people laugh hysterically for the same reasons. If anyone comes after you all concerned, wave them off with something to the effect of "I'm just venting stress. Give me a minute." Then put your mask back on and get back out there. If you blow it off as no big deal, so will the people you practice with. It really is okay. Most of us get leaky eyes at some point during the period before we have enough muscle memory, and all the input at once from keeping track of weapon and feet and opponent and everything else is just too much to handle on top of being hit over and over.

If you ever want to talk about fighting psychology, ping me. I fight both ways, and after ten years of running House Ironrose, I've picked up a few things. ;)
Oct. 31st, 2007 05:44 pm (UTC)
Uh, Hi! Attack_laurel is also a White Scarf in Atlantia. She's been fighting since I first met her over ten years ago. She's had to stop fighting in the past few years due to pains in both her hands. She still goes to practice to teach and advise and had hoped to play just a bit yesterday, before it was simply impossible.

Your advice would be good for a new fighter, but since you didn't know, she is not new to fencing.
Oct. 31st, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC)
No aspersions meant to be cast on Ms. Attack_Laurel's fencing skills. :) I didn't know she's a white scarf, but I'd offer the same advice to someone returning to fighting after a long break as I would to someone new. Muscle memory degrades with lack of use, many of the challenges are the same, and I know Knights who are unfamiliar with the concepts of female fighting psychology as it's been developed in the past ten to fifteen years, so I never assume it's common knowledge. Thanks for the heads-up. I suspect though that she probably doesn't need defending from the likes of little ole me. ;)
Nov. 1st, 2007 09:56 am (UTC)
Pinkleader wasn't defending me, just filling you in on a part of my life that I don't usually write about in my LJ (so it's perfectly understandable that you don't know much about that - most people who only know me through my LJ don't know how much I used to fight). She's one of my closest friends, and has been with me through this issue. :)

Sadly, the issues I have are not a question of just "working through the pain" (I wish it was that easy!); I'm semi-disabled with a pain issue that forced me to quit fighting about six years ago. I occasionally miss it badly enough that I try it out, especially when my fighters are hinting strongly that they want to fight me. =)

My legs are fine (pretty great, says my husband, but he's biased); it's a nerve issue in my arms that is taking its own sweet time about resolving. Unfortunately, working them harder means worse pain; it's why I was forced to stop in the first place (just after being Queen's Champion, darn the luck).

The crying was because of the pain I experienced; I'm not bothered by the fact that it happens, but do not wish to put a damper on the evening when I do not have to (and I have to admit, I haven't cried in frustration since I was a newbie fencer - I used to punch walls if I got really pissed off instead). When I realized I couldn't take off my doublet without help (thanks, Pink!), the practice was over for me. I dislike being smacked in the nose with how much my disability has affected my life, so it's better if I grump at home to the person who signed the contract that says he has to listen to me. :)

I've been fighting and teaching about fighting for the past 15 years, and while I continue to teach, my physical issues do not allow any fighting of my own unless I want about a week of extra pain (over the usual level) afterwards. Sometimes the desire outweighs the common sense, though. =)

But thank you for your desire to be helpful, I do appreciate the sentiment very much. :)
Nov. 2nd, 2007 02:06 am (UTC)
Oh wow, that is just a great big bowl of suck. My sympathies. It's really hard to even watch fighting sometimes when your body won't let you go play too. I was sidelined with knee issues for a long time and then there's been school, so I understand. Sometimes the pain is worth it though, innit? :D
Oct. 31st, 2007 06:55 pm (UTC)
I suggest that anybody going slower than the speed limit in the fast lane (unless it's in such heavy traffic that *everyone* is going less that the speed limit) should not be allowed to drive, but made to ride the bus.
Nov. 1st, 2007 10:00 am (UTC)
Nov. 1st, 2007 08:02 am (UTC)
Happy Halloween! I hope the hurting is much less for you soon.
Nov. 1st, 2007 09:59 am (UTC)
Thank you! And Happy All Saint's Day. I hope you got candy. :)
( 33 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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