Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bruce Ruckle was a PIMP and a half.

So, my last post.

Over a year ago. Cryptic. Dramitic.
The result of having an uncommonly awesome dad who happens to be  dying.

It's ok. Dad's die. Everyone's does. So did mine.
I didn't post about it because at the time, I was in Florida and everything was crazy and by the time I was home and settled, it just didn't feel timely and I was too emotional.
It was a lot.
So today, it's been a year since the quietest, longest, most beautiful moment of my life. Since I sat to the right of my father's head with my face inches from him and watched the Great Change as his spirit was liberated at last from a body that was too spent by its cancer to hold on to it any longer.
I was glad, in that moment.

I once told one of my stepdaughters, that I wished nothing better for her than that her love for her dad could be as simple and uncomplicated as my love for mine. It's a rare gift to love someone, and not feel one ounce of any kind of bitterness or regret for anything. To feel that they'd never let you down one single time. I always felt confident that my Dad was proud of me. He may have worried for me, but was never disappointed. I never had to wonder where I stood with him. The love I have for my dad is the simplest purest love I have ever experienced.
So, I'm going to tell you all about him. Because as I mentioned in the title of this post, he was a total P-I-M-P. I'm for real. You know how older people tell a lot of the same stories over and over? Sure, he did that. We've all heard, "when I was in the Navy" and " growing up during the war" but then he'd casually throw in a total whammy like,"so I was drag racing on the beach...." or " when I was a Ballroom Dance Instructor in the 60's...." or " so this one time when my first wife and I were professional square dancers on television in the late 50's I accidentally got roped into being a yodeler...." and then you'd be like, "Wha' Happened?" So you never could tune out his stories because you didn't want to miss hearing about this time that he was filming a commercial and they couldn't get him to smile just right and he told them it's because there weren't any brunettes on set and they had to grab one off the street and pay her to stand by the camera so my dad could smile at her.
This guy was seriously the most interesting person I've ever met.
Most of these adventures were behind him when he met and married my mom in the early 70's. In my child-eyes, he was just my Dad. He worked at the Post Office and apparently spent his free time "making eggies for my baby" according to a progress report from my preschool.
He took us to movies. He took us to see Beauty and the Beast no less than 10 times. It was his favorite Disney. He thought the Prince was totally fugly, so whenever they did the big reveal of the Prince he'd shout, "BRING BACK THE BEAST!" I thought it was wonderful.
He was a dead ringer for Santa Claus with his big fluffy beard, rosy cheeks and a charming snap of a twinkle in his eye. He played Santa at the Post Office during the holidays. He'd sit in a chair in the lobby and the kids got to bring their letters to him. He also played Santa for parties and things, making an extra buck here and there for Christmas. It was great because we'd be out places and kids (of all ages) would get excited and run up to him and tell them what they wanted for Christmas. Once, a woman came up to us in the mall, told him her daughter was very sick with luekemia and she thought he was Santa. He went to talk to her and spent a few minutes listening to what she wanted and he told her all about the North Pole and his reindeer. He loved playing Santa. He told me once that his goal every year, was to get at least one kid to believe in Santa for just one more year. The role suited him so well, not so much because he fit the part physically, but because he was a Santa inside. He had a generous spirit.
He spent every Sunday with us, after he and my mom split up in the mid 80's. As adults, we realize his struggle, what he went through to be in our lives and be our Dad. He saved all the money he could after paying his child support to treat us to lunch and take us out when he could. This meant sometimes living with family, or in his car, but he never let us see it. He never said a word against our mother and would not allow us to either.
My father's goodness was repaid in kind. In the 90's he married one beast of an awesome woman. My stepmother, Lynn, who he remained married and happy with until he died. A complete force of nature, she made him happier than we could have ever hoped to see him. We have loved her since the first. He was the most precious person in the lives of his children and she could not have taken better care of him, or treasured him more.
It's been a year since that moment when she and I and my two sisters and brother sat in a ring around him and shared this gift, of being so loved by such a man, that we merited the privilege of witnessing his passage from one realm into another. It was a sacred thing.

My Daddy did not die a rich man. But he died a successful one. As I noted in his eulogy, such people don't die, not really. He is constantly remembered and honored by us. His boots stand on my sister's bookshelf, prominently and lovingly displayed. He lives in a certain twinkle in my own eye. He's alive in the heart of a loving wife that will never stop beating for him, no matter what. None who knew him could forget him- charming, twinkling, big hearted Bruce.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Nothing to Watch

So I need to take my mind off things for just a little bit. Everything's cool, I just want to stop thinking for two hours. Can you feel that?
It seems reasonable to turn to my shelf of, like, 300 movies. I need something happy, something that's going to make me feel like a million bucks with no dying and no cancer. I figure, no problem...I don't even OWN Terms of Endearment.
So here's what I've got.

Normally my go-to feel better about life movie. Mom dies in the beginning. Maybe I'll fast forward.

I watch this almost every day during October. But I always cry at the end. Better not test it.

Ditto, I'll lose it when the unicorn dies.

Dad dies in the beginning. Young Hugh Grant possibly worth it.

Dad dies in the beginning, but this one's a bit of a dick so it might be ok. But, like three other people die too.

Really? Dude, everybody dies.


DOCTOR WHO any season
I can't watch Christopher Eccleston's because Rose's dad died left, right, and center.
I can't watch David Tennant's because I cry because I miss him so much on the best of days.
I don't feel like Matt Smith. Oh, and a whole season is spent on him dying.

Are you effing kidding?

From Freaky Friday, to Jane Austen Book Club, to Ever After. Movies that normally make me feel all happy and squishy.
I never noticed before, but it's everywhere.
It touches us all. But it's ok, it's supposed to.
Right now though, I'm actually finding some humor in it, in the everywhereness of it. I was just kind of chuckling to myself, as I ruled out Napoleon Dynamite (why does he live with his gramma anyway?) figuring Bridget Jones's Diary and a 90's Ashley Judd romantic comedy were about it out of the zillion movies I own.
I'm going to make some cookies and watch....something.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Life Lessons From a Skateboard

There is something magic in a clear, cool night.
Tonight is one of my favorite kinds of nights- clear and starry with a brilliant moon. Cool enough for a woolly cardigan and mitts and that satisfying smell of woodsmoke. There's something about the woodsmoke that ties it all together. Walking out in it, it's impossible to think about anything unpleasant.
So I was quite cheerful tonight when I had to walk over to my job to spend an hour or so tying up a couple of loose ends. My mind was rambling over a wide array of random thoughts- a pair of socks I'm knitting for someone, the nice long, juicy conversation I'd just had on the phone with my brother who is still reveling in plenty of lovely snow in New Hampshire, the cool new market I found that had awesome and crazy organic everything and bulk bins....BULK BINS!
On the way home I had the added satisfaction of knowing I had things set up for Monday and I was ready to go home, maybe tidy a bit and work on that sock.
Passing the local skateboard shop, I stopped briefly to admire a pair of shoes in the window and my wandering mind again shifted gears.
I remembered a brief period in maybe '85 or 6 when my brother had a skateboard. Outside our Aunt Judy's house I watched as he did a few laps and thought to myself, "Whoa! I wanna try!"
He seemed a bit nervous as he handed me the skateboard and warned me that it wasn't as easy as it looked.
Ten seconds later, dazed and sprawled on the sidewalk I thought to myself, "I am NEVER doing that again".
My thoughts then transitioned seamlessly to a day when I was at the home of a dear friend about seven years ago getting ready for a Blink 182 concert. I was going through her selection of T Shirts looking for something to wear and a noticed a new one. It was a pink BAM shirt. She explained to me that she bought it because she was interested in a guy who skated, and so she and another of our friends had been hanging out the skate park and she wanted to look legit. A newlywed at the time, I sagely shook my head and chuckled as I chose a bright yellow T Shirt advertising Beggin' Strips Brand Dog Treats.
My friend had two brothers, both passionate skaters, but she had never learned herself. The other friend, however, did. My thoughts roamed over an array of bruises and cuts that she had proudly showed me, I smiled as I listened to the voice of my memory repeat her exciting play by plays of how she got each one.
And then something occurred to me. A thought came into my mind that I focused on, a connection between the two stories.
We both fell, but only one of us got back on the board.
I thought of all the friends I have ever known who skated and the kids in the neighborhood who are out each day, their faces set with determination as they hone an old skill or perfect a new technique, driven like they are driven in no other element in their lives...and I discover that I really respect them.
They accept falling down and getting hurt as part of the deal. They get back up. No matter how many times it takes. That is why my friend sounded so excited as she talked about her scrapes and bruises. They did not deter her from her goal of learning how to do trick A,B or C.
What a wonderful lesson there is in that. Sometimes in life, the rug gets pulled from under your feet. It's a fact or life. We all get hurt. Sometimes it's a minor scrape and sometimes it's a bit more complicated than that. I have found that there is real joy in accepting, learning, and trying again.
Maybe you'll see me rolling by on a sweet board sometime.
Or not.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Pom Pom Loo Hat

So yeah. I've been away (again). I couldn't help it! But I'm ready to kiss and make up with the four or five people who read my blog (warning- if you don't knit, you're still going to be mad at me).
I'm going to tell you about the Pom Pom Loo Hat.
And give you the pattern.

Last October, the week of the ill fated Haunted Hayride (two car accidents later, we finally got there) armed with an Ashford drop spindle, 8 ounces of woolly decadence from Frabjous Fibers and a host of You Tube tutorials, I taught myself to spin. Instantly hooked, I went though my wool as if there were a cheesecake being given out to the first ten people who produced three balls of handspun merino. I was so excited by my luscious bounty that I just had to make something...right now.
I wasn't quite sure how much I had...and being my first time around it was a bit bulky. I decided on a hat. What I came up with was easy and fun to make and even funner to wear! I called it the Pom Pom Loo hat because the two pom poms make me think of this REALLY LAME arrangement of "Leaving On A Jet Plane" my husband and I sang in a show once...While the soloist sang the main line, the chorus was in the background singing "pom pom loooooo". What is that? Why couldn't we just go oooo or even bum bum bum like a normal chorus? Honestly, I'm going to be ashamed when I meet John Denver on the other side.
Anyway, the pattern. I promised this a couple of weeks ago to a friend at church who wants to make one to send out to her daughter at BYU, so why not share it with the world?
World, I give you the Pom Pom Loo Hat.

Bulkyish, handspun or single ply yarn (sorry I have no idea how much but I think Noro Kuryeon would be a great pick.)
Size 13 straight needles (if you prefer circular, go for it. Just cast on twice as many stitches and make one piece instead of two)
Gauge- 3 spi in garter stitch

Note- The hat is meant to be biggish and drapey.

Hat (make two)
CO 35 stitches.
Knit all rows until piece measures 7"

Stitch up sides and top. Weave in ends. Make two 2" extra fluffy pom poms and stitch one onto each corner of the hat. Cut 1' lengths of yarn to half of desired thickness of braid. Twist yarn and using a crochet hook thread half of its length though the bottom corner of hat. Braid and tie with a scrap piece of yarn. Make a braid for the other corner.

I hope you like...and if you do, feel free to make one for yourself or as a gift. Please keep it karmic and don't make these for sale :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lobster Killah!

I recently had an experience that I feel pretty strongly a lot of people can relate to. I felt compelled to write about it and I've never felt compelled to write about anything before. However, I feel drawn to this subject like a moth to a flame and I had to write about it.
Last week, I experienced for the first time the emotional roller coaster that is eating a lobster. Can I hear an amen? I know I'm not the only one. I saw Julie and Julia...she felt bad about it too.
I was helping my friend Andrea pack up her apartment last week and as a thank you she wanted to feed me. As soon as she said she was in the mood for lobster, I began to hem and haw around the subject and throwing out excuses...
"My husband is allergic to shell fish"
"It's so expensive!"
"I've never had lobster before...what if I don't like it?"
I didn't tell her some of my more bizarre reasons, like I have a thing with dismembering a corpse and feasting on its insides and that lobsters look like giant red scorpions or that I was afraid it would come back to life while I was eating it and it would attack me. Call me a pansy, but better safe then sorry.
She deflected all of my concerns expertly, advising me to wash my hands and brush my teeth before I went home, don't worry, she had enough money, and it's ok, if I didn't like it she'd eat the rest later.

So we get to the store and she picked out two lobsters. I couldn't look. It would only make it more personal. There were two lobsters in the tank that were alive that morning who DIED because we went to to store and FOR NO OTHER REASON.

She asked the guy to steam them for us since we had packed up her kitchen already, so at least I didn't have to hear them scream. We waited around and picked up a few other things- a good loaf of bread, olive oil, olives, and nuts- to round out our meal. We chatted merrily as our meal was being boiled to death in the back (stage two and a half guilt again).

"Hey Katty, can you get the bag?"
I walked through the store, waited in line, and drove back to her house holding a bag full of warm lobster corpses. I was petrified. I knew it wasn't likely that they really would come back to life and crawl up my arm....BUT WHAT IF THEY DID??

Honestly, Andrea, you are a hard core woman. I think she was beginning to get a little irritated with me by this point because here's where I had an all out emotional breakdown.
She took them out of the bag and they still and the little rubber band thing around their lifeless claws, reminding me that they lived and died as slaves. Then she began to rip them apart and crack them open with her teeth. I couldn't look but the sound of it had me freaking out. Our friend Robbie came by at that moment, and was pretty entertained by our scene. I was convinced I could never ever ever eat these poor creatures. I began mapping out tactical strategies for sneaking into a 24 hour Kroger and liberating a tank full of lobsters. I decided I was going back to vegetarianism.

The carnage over, their poor bodies spent, I turn my head back to the table to find a pile of delicate white meat placed in front of me. I picked a piece up gingerly between my thumb and forefinger, my face scrunched up in a slight pucker of distaste. I don't know what is going to happen next.
I dip the meat in the olive oil.
Heaven, heaven, heaven.
That's where those lobsters went for making me so happy.
I am a nasty, dirty, hypocrite. I didn't quite care at the time, because I was busy throwing down that wonderful lobster.

So was it worth it? A sly smile creeps across my face as I type those words.
Yeah, kinda.
Don't hate, though.
I don't want to be a base torturer of animals, but I know that once in a while, I'm going to get a taste for it. My conclusion is, like with all animal protein I take, it should be taken sparingly and mindfully.
But maybe next time, I'll go for a lobster tail.

EDIT: A month later, I went again to New Hampshire to visit my brother with some friends. We took a day trip out to Boston where I was introduced to the concept of a Lobster Roll. It was AMAZING and I've been dying for another ever since. Here's a great recipe to try if this post has made you Lobster Crazy!

Friday, May 21, 2010

I'll blog on Monday, I swear.

I recently heard blogging described as being like dieting. The allusion struck me as funny because I've been going through a string of weeks where almost every day I was intending to write a post, then things got hectic, I ran out of time and I said to myself, "I'll blog tomorrow, I swear". It really was starting to feel like when I gear up to increase my excersize regimen or cut out sugar. I start the day with the best of intentions, then find myself putting it off until tomorrow.
I know I should, I know I'd feel better but.....
Sound familiar?
How do the daily bloggers do it? I truly do enjoy writing, and I have been really enjoying learning about photography, and between my etsy shop, movies, working out at my CSA, crafting, family and general spring rambles, I have plenty to blog about.
I think I'm missing an ingredient in the magic formula.
Maybe I should plan ahead?
Let's see, shall we?
Well,with the best of intentions, I sit here and mull the issue over, with all of you as my witnesses.
I'm writing now, which is good. Like with practicing my bellydancing, taking a walk, or eating a healthy balanced meal, now counts.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Visit From The Faeries and Another Application for Fig Jam.

Spring days have really been rolling along over here, and with the bulk of the organizing done, we've been free to enjoy it!
Sunday was calm and enjoyable. Taking the garbage out in the back, I was greeted by a glory of violets in the back yard and distractingly beautiful satiny red tulips. I was understandably surprised, since we have lived here for five years and have never seen them before. The violets probably spread from the next yard over, which was resplendent with them, but where did those tulips come from?
Just at that time, my neighbor came out with his garbage.We puzzled over the gorgeous tulips that neither of us had planted. The elderly gentleman and I finally came to the highly logical conclusion that it was the faeries.

I found the violets to be very inspiring. I've created this brooch in honor of them and violet jelly will be made using this awesome recipe I've been dying to try from the uber-awesome Lisa at 5 Orange Potatoes.
Before going over to have Easter with Bill's family, we decided to make a treat for ourselves and to share with everyone and had a marshmallow party.

All I did was set the stuff out and the family had a blast! Bill and Gwenny were literally quivering with anticipation as I melted the chocolate.
"Is it done yet?" got asked enough times to make me pull a Papa Smurf.
Then dipping ensued to the enthusiasm of all!

After a while, the sprinkles fell by the wayside and people got fancy. It started with dipping into dark and white chocolate, artistic drizzling, and ultimately crescendoed to marshmallow art and calligraphy, using bamboo skewers as writing instruments.

After our marshmallow party, we brought our bounty to Mom and Pop Robb's to the general delight of the crowd-- don't worry, there was plenty left for us!
Other important happenings in the household recently include welcoming Matt Smith as the new Doctor Who to an uproariously delighted reception, and finding something else to do with fig jam. If anyone follows this blog closely, you may have noticed my thing with figgy jam.
My brother, during my trip to Manchester, got me hooked on this glorious substance. It has become a household staple even though it's outrageously expensive.
I wanted to share this AMAZING dressing that I improvised the other night. It's wonderful for dressing greens and I imagine it would be a fab marinade for chicken.
Katty's Orange and Fig Jam Salad Dressing
you will need:
1/4 c. olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt (to taste)
small pinch each of fennel seed, mustard seed, and 3 peppercorns crushed
a pinch of dried mint
1 T Dalmation Orange and Fig Jam

Pour oil in a bowl or cup and squeeze in lemon juice. add spices and jam and mix thoroughly.
I used this to dress spring greens with a little pecorino cheese and the taste was incredible!