Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Crazy as an onion..."

…in hell!” My uncle has a startling way with words sometimes.

Family stories:

Apparently Uncle Dan was a real loon (crazy as an onion, even). I don’t know; my cousin and I both remember that he was fun. He did magic tricks, mostly pulling nickels out of our ears. And he was happy, and seemed to like us, which goes a long way with children.

Grandpa was something else. His life didn’t turn out the way he expected it would, we concluded over dessert Thursday (four pies, a scandalously tiny number for this clan). He got married at the start of the Great Depression, and had six children in a house that resolutely had no room really for even one. He graduated Harvard, class of 1926, same class as Oppenheimer (although Oppenheimer actually graduated in three years, 1925, brilliant beyond imagining even as a very young man). The Harvard degree did not make him rich, and I think he was dumbfounded and kind of pissed about it for the rest of his life.

Mostly he scared the crap out of us. He’d likely poke you with a fork if you sat next to him at the dinner table and displayed poor table manners. It was tough to see it coming because his hands had a mysterious tremor whenever he held anything, so one could never be sure if the wavering fork was headed for the roast beef or your forearm.

It was a whole fascinating spectacle watching him have a cup of tea, which he did at least fourteen times a day, because he took a couple of spoonfuls of sugar, and he’d scatter sugar all over the table as he scooped out first one spoonful, and then another. It occurs to me now that this may have been why Grandma usually had sugar cubes around. We kids would find them in the cupboard and eat them and build things with them. I remember her pewter sugar bowl, and a pewter teapot (I may have stuffed crayons down the spout; I’m not sure).

Hm. Come to think of it, we were a pretty pesky gang of grandkids. I'm pretty sure the crayons were white.

There was a brother of grandpa's grandfather who fought in the Civil War, a member of an Irish regiment from Boston. We had a Revolutionary War soldier, too, which I find funny; the whole "DAR" notion just doesn't seem applicable. I come from an old Boston family, but a scruffy one.

I miss my uncle. He was wry and funny, and brilliant. Also a trustee of a research library where I need to do some research, and I wish I could talk to him about it, because he was a science researcher and a science historian, and I’m researching some primary source history of science stuff, and, well, dang it, he’d be perfect to talk to about contemporary clinical accounts of Phineas Gage. But he’s gone.

This song has been stuck in my head for a day or so - it has a wistful sound that fits my mood. "Are we human?/Or are we dancer?/My sign is vital/My hands are cold/And I'm on my knees, lookin' for the answer..."

My hands were, in fact, cold, so I made some tubes out of yarn with holes for my thumbs.* Yay. If my camera doohickey were talking to my laptop, I'd show you.

Cat update: he's curled up taking a nap right now, and enjoying our renewed delight in his existence.

Peace and warm thoughts, all.

*28 stitches in the round, Noro Silk Garden, one skein, 2x2 rib, straight for 8 inches, then BO 6, CO the same 6 the next round, continue for another 6 rounds, BO. Started them late Friday night, wore them out shopping Saturday.

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Blogger Amber said...

Don't forget to give gauge and needle size, otherwise your fans will never forgive you ;)

1:57 PM  

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