Archive for the 'friends' Category


Happy 2018!

So after a great start to 2017, I totally fell off the wagon—both for blogging and for canning. The canning challenges for the second half of 2017 just didn’t inspire me, so I let those slide and did canning projects that interested me (e.g., peach-sriracha jam, pickled scapes, cranberry-raspberry jam).

In August we had reunions with two of the kids (and their families) with whom my daughter had become good friends at the CISV Village she attended in July 2016—one from Canada and one from Italy. We plan to see the Canadian next August, too, and we just found out that one of the kids from the Philippines delegation will be on the East Coast in June or July, so we hope to see her too.

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but one goal I do have for this year is to do more sewing. To do that, I need to set up a sewing space that isn’t a small table shoved against the wall next to the washing machine in the basement laundry room. But with encouragement from a friend who’s done a fair amount of awesome sewing herself, I hope to tackle zippers for the first time. Wish me luck!


Mourning the loss of a friend


Last week, my friend Nancy Abelmann died. I am feeling this loss keenly and have wanted to write about but for a while wasn’t sure what to say or how to say.

Nancy was my advisor in graduate school and the first person who made me feel that I was a scholar with something important to say. She was an incredibly generous scholar and mentor who spent countless hours helping me hone my grant proposals to the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation, encouraged me during the dissertation-writing process (even after I moved far away), and was totally supportive of my decision not to finish my Ph.D. (and would have been equally supportive if I’d decided to complete it). As both a friend and a mentor, she was a huge influence in my life, and I’m sure I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t known her.

I last saw Nancy in person right before I moved to Pennsylvania about a decade and a half ago. We kept in touch, though, especially during the past four years as first Bill (my friend and one of my committee members, and one of Nancy’s closest friends) and then she were struck by cancer. This past fall, she did not have much energy for extensive communication, so we exchanged haiku.

She had been very forthcoming about her illness and treatment, sending out updates via e-mail and Caring Bridge, so this final event in her journey doesn’t really come as a surprise. One small consolation is that she knew how much she was loved: she was incredibly supported by local friends and family, and her far-flung connections, too, reached out with whatever support they could offer from afar. (One former student—and friend and former colleague of mine—even flew in from Korea for three days to be with her at the end.)

But it’s still hard to accept that she’s no longer here. She was (as many people have described her) “a force of nature,” and I’m sure she will be long (and fondly) remembered both professionally and personally.

It has been amazing to read the tributes about her over the past week, from all corners of the world—universities, former students, colleagues, academic units, publishers, neighbors, friends.  She had a direct positive impact on so many people! She truly made the world a better place.

(This video was made by Nancy’s daughters and posted a few days ago.)


Happy New Year!

 We welcomed 2016 with about 100 friends crammed into our house! Actually, we welcomed it twice: we always toast with everyone at midnight GMT (the very family-friendly hour of 7 p.m. EST), and then again at midnight EST with whoever is still here (which ended up being about 20 people this time).

There’s a lot of food (all vegetarian), a lot of beer (thanks to the six-tap keg freezer in our garage), and lots of music.

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We had a scheduled concert at 5 featuring various friends performing different songs and everyone joining together at the end for a rousing rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” (damn straight we demanded our figgy pudding, too!). And there was plenty of other impromptu singing and noodling around on the piano and ukuleles as well.
What fun! And how lucky we are to know so many wonderful people! I’m confident that 2016 will be a very happy new year indeed!
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Scarf weather has arrived . . .

. . . and thanks to my awesome friend Jean, I am extra-prepared for it this year! She made this scarf for me last spring, but I’m only now getting to wear it for the first time.



I have awesome friends

Last spring, a huge tornado hit Joplin, Missouri, and took out a good chunk of the town. Among those directly affected were the parents and brother of my roommate from college (and still good friend), Beth. They lost pretty much everything: home, cars, belongings. The destruction was so bad that not only was their house razed afterward, but the foundation—which was too damaged to support another structure safely—was removed as well, and everything was filled in . All that remains is a flat empty lot with a driveway apron (the small ramp-like part leading from the curb to the main driveway) going nowhere.

Fortunately, none of Beth’s was injured. And the things they lost were, after all, just things—most of which could be replaced. But among the irreplaceables were items that Beth and her brother had made as children. When I asked Beth, “What can I do for your family?” she replied that some handmade Christmas decor would be much appreciated.

So I sent a note to my local knitting group, and right away several people volunteered to make something. One friend, Ann, is in the middle of downsizing/reorganizing and sent four boxes of Christmas stuff to Beth’s parents. (I checked with Beth about this before giving Ann the go-ahead to ship so much. Beth says there are holiday drives in progress in Joplin right now, so whatever her family can’t use or share with friends will surely find good homes with other people affected by the tornado.)

Other friends created items especially for Beth’s family. From the top : various ornaments from Katie, knitted owl and ball ornaments from Gina, a set of knitted accessory ornaments from Ruth, and a knitted stocking ornament from Beth (not the Joplin one).

All of this stuff (along with something I made) went out to Joplin early last week. Just in time for the holidays!


Hedgehog mittens

This is a long-overdue public thank-you to my friend Beth. Last January, someone posted to our local knitting group e-mail list a link to Morehouse Farms hedgehog mittens kit. I replied that I loved them but wasn’t planning to spend money on yarn anytime soon. Beth knows that my family loves hedgehogs—especially Sylvia, who has been hedgehog-crazy since she discovered Mrs. Tiggy-winkle when she was two. So Beth did something very sneaky: she bought a kit for me and had it sent to my house.

I cast on right away and got to the thumb gusset of the first mitten before I got distracted by other projects. This pattern is fun to knit—albeit a bit slow going (knitting bobbles for the quills takes time!)—and I’m hoping to get a set of these done for myself by next fall . . . and maybe a pair for Sylvia, too!



A holiday I can get behind

An awesome declaration about Facebook “friendship.” Plus there’s Shatner!



“If it’s edible, fry it.”

Several months ago, a group of friends started discussing various deep-fried oddities and our mutual love of deep-fried foods. (Me, personally, I think “the deep-fried group” should be on the FDA pyramid, right next to “the cheese group” and “the chocolate group.”) One thing led to another, and before we know it we were planning National Fry Day. Our motto: “If it’s edible, fry it.” Indeed.

One person graciously offered to host the event, which took place last Saturday. The oil was hot at 5 p.m., and although all participants also brought tasty non-fryable fare (e.g., salads, dips) to share and, ideally, make us all feel a little less guilty about the damage we were about to do to our hearts and GI systems, the deep-fried food won the popularity contest hands-down.

There were a few “pedestrian” dishes–that is, the sort of stuff you usually see deep fried, like samosas and sliced potatoes. They were good, but what interested me most were the things that one doesn’t often get to sample in battered and deep-fried form.


The list included:

  • bacon weave stuffed with sausage and cheese
  • fake bacon weave stuffed with fake sausage and cheese (a.k.a., “the facon weave”)
  • olives stuffed with Monterey Jack
  • olives stuffed with habanero cheddar
  • mac and cheese
  • Scotch eggs
  • Scotch eggs without sausage
  • Bacon-wrapped jalapenos
  • Tandoori chicken
  • Twinkies
  • Butterscotch Krimpets (Tastykake is a Philly company)
  • cake icing
  • cake batter
  • Snickers (of course!)

I’ve probably forgotten to mention several things that made their way into one of the deep fryers. I ate so much fried food that I think I slid into a brief food coma and missed some of the action. One thing I didn’t fail to notice was that a surprisingly large portion of the food that got fried was vegetarian friendly…though I suspect that after a trip to a deep fryer, much of this stuff probably wasn’t too friendly to anyone.

I am already starting to draw up a list of new stuff to deep fry. I hope we do another party like this. Maybe not until next summer, though–I think my body needs some time to recover from this one.



While my friend Beth was secretly knitting a pincushion for me, my friend Katie was secretly knitting this tea cozy for me. Or not so secretly, as the case may be: she actually worked on it while she was sitting in my house, but lied her head off and told me it was for herself. She even lied when she blogged about it, too!

So imagine my surprise when Katie came over a few days ago and handed me this:


Of course I had to test it immediately (on a pot of Darjeeling). It fits perfectly–and actually did keep the tea warm a lot longer!

I am so lucky!

(Project 363 | 2010: 22 February)



Yesterday morning around 8:30 a.m., I had just finished breakfast and was thinking about suiting up to go outside to shovel the six inches of snow that had fallen since I’d last shoveled, and Sylvia said, “I think someone is here.” I looked outside the window and sure enough, my friend Beth was here. She also happens to live in my neighborhood and enjoys a good walk, so she was here on foot.

And not empty-handed. Look what she brought:


I’d posted the pattern last month, and Beth then took it upon herself to knit one for me. And see that little button on the top? She handpainted a little bee on it! (My family has a thing for bees. And hedgehogs. And cheetahs.)

I love it. I can’t wait to get a new sewing project going so I can use it!

(Project 365 | 2010: 12 February)

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