Polar Vortex


Yes, it really is as bad as it seems.  Looks like a five-year-old got into the yarn, huh?  Or maybe the booze?  Multiply by ten, and you’re almost there.

I remember an epic argument between my teenage self and my mama just before my senior year in high school.  Take Home Economics, she urged; you will learn useful skills.  Trust me.

WHAT?!  You had rather I learn how to use Pledge to shine the seat on the Schwinn and bake Toll House cookies than take Advanced Placement American History?  Seriously?  You’ve already taught me that stuff.  (What the hell?)

Well, yes, she insisted.

By the time we had worked our way through an argument that gobsmacked me right in the middle of my forehead I was determined to take that history course on principle, if nothing else.  (And I was that little girl, by the way–the one with the curl right in the middle of her forehead? When she was good she was very very good?  You know the rest.  My mom insisted this was often the case, anyway.  Not that there is ever any conflict between mothers and daughters.  But I digress.)

Last week about the time we were thrown into a Huge Panic once again by the news media because of the so-called Polar Vortex (which in my snowy Vermontish neck of the woods yielded temperatures that were actually a tad warmer than what our first storm of the season brought us) I decided to pull out my knitting bag and start something new.  I know how to, kinda, but have not touched my knitting stuff in at least five years, probably longer if I am being honest.  So I had to open my books and re-edumacate myself on the finer points of casting on and how to actually, er knit.  And purl.

I found a loverly little skein of brand new wool from Chile in the bottom of my knitting bag.  But in my haste to get started I quite forgot the part about carefully undoing it and looping it over the back of a dining chair–or over the hands of a friend–and making a ball.  Completely forgot.

Go ahead and guffaw…Handsome Chef Boyfriend did.  Not when I told him about it on the phone.  He insisted that you could in fact knit from a skein without making a ball of the yarn if you laid it out and worked carefully.  (Yes, aside from being an amazing chef, AND knowing how to juggle, the man actually knits.)  No, I said, this is bad.  It’s too late to turn back now.  I made a mess that might be beyond repair.

But when he arrived at my place on Friday and saw firsthand my very own vortex, he said, It will take you hours to fix that.

Well, duh.  I didn’t take Home Ec, okay?  I took American History. Advanced Placement American History.

A few years ago I had another one of these cravings that turned out to be rawther more expensive.  I decided I wanted to learn to sew.  On a machine.  My mama did it when I was growing up; she made clothes for me like nobody’s business.  And scores of ballet costumes for her young students.  I watched her all the time, but only once did I actually undertake a project, with her close supervision.  I (we) made three perfectly hideous wrap-around skirts from the same pattern.  And that was that.  I could not even tell you the first step in that project.  All I remember is pins.  Lots of them.  Putting them through thin tissue paper, thence through fabric, and taking them out.  Again and again.

I had been inspired by the colors and movement of the girls’ costumes in this beautiful ballet and decided that if I owned a sewing machine, the sight of it sitting in my lovely, sunny office at home would inspire me to learn to sew–maybe even create beautiful costumes for classical ballet, for my own students–and I could take my place in the pantheon of creative women I am lucky to call my friends.  On impulse I bought a brand spanking new Husqvarna.

In hindsight, a Husqvarna tractor would have served me better.

I still have that sewing machine.  It has not seen the light of day in a while, but I do know how to hem a pair of pants with it and make other small repairs that look very neat and tidy and professional.  I lamented to a couple of my talented friends a while back that maybe my mom was right:  I should’ve taken Home Ec.

Nah, they assured me.  You would have learned only how to make a stupid pillow case in Home Ec.  AP American History was definitely the better choice.

So there you go.

Nota Bene:  The history course was a wash.  The guy who taught it was long bored with his chosen career and mainly sat solemnly at his desk after he wrote reams of stuff on the chalkboard that we were to take down in our notes and regurgitate to him on the mimeographed (remember those?) multi-choice tests he jacked from somebody he knew in the History Department at then-Memphis State University.  Very little instruction went on in those classes; mostly we gossiped and passed notes back and forth ’til the bell rang.  Pssssst:  don’t tell mom.

2 thoughts on “Polar Vortex

  1. Oh, how this post makes me smile. And I agree re: history vs. home ec. And I’m frightened of balls of yarn that look like that (don’t they ALWAYS look like that?!). And someday, I want to learn to knit…

    • Follow up: I am not ashamed to say I stayed up waaaaaaay past midnight last night making a ball out of that fracking yarn. Only it turned out to be, er, THREE balls of yarn, because it seems I had also been impulsive with the scissors and snipped in the wrong places when I *thought* I was snipping the threads that hold together the skein. So in addition to my failed attempt at Home Ec, we can add “runs with scissors” to my Permanent Record. (BTW: What? You don’t knit? How can this be? Because you evidently know how to do everything else it is possible for one to do!!! :-))~d

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