Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Battle of the Butter Churn

Today was very pleasant; I swam for forty-five minutes this morning, knit a lot -- I have ten inches of my mother-in-law's shawl now, although I'll have to buy more yarn since each skein doesn't go as far as I expected (sorry, Gary!) -- and watched two episodes of Torchwood with my sister and brother-in-law. It looks like an interesting show; they were doing some deeper psychological stuff than SF series often do, so I'm inclined to add it to our Netflix queue.

Today's most memorable event, though, was the Battle of the Butter Churn.

My mother wanted to give me her circular knitting needles, since she doesn't knit anymore. (She's given my sister her straight needles.) She keeps all her needlepoint supplies in an antique butter churn, made of wooden slats held together with wooden bands; the whole thing fits together with tongue and groove joins and is held together by tension. No nails or glue.

So when I moved the churn out of its corner to look for the circulars, the bottom fell off. "Oh, that always happens," my mother said, but then the whole thing fell apart, collapsing like a deck of cards. The two of us tried to put it together on the floor, except that neither of us is that flexible anymore, so then we tried to put it back together on the bed, which was too soft a surface. As soon as we got some slats back into place, others would fall again. This went on for twenty minutes, and finally I said, "We need a solid, flat surface."

So we carried the many pieces of the wooden churn downstairs, and with help from my sister, finally managed to get it reassembled. All in all, getting the thing back into its intended form must have taken forty-five minutes. Talk about rickety contrivances!

"There has to be an easier way to do this," my mother said. "It can't have taken three people all this time to put butter churns together back when they were in everyday use."

The churn is now back in its corner, and I don't plan to touch it again! The good news, though is that I now have many new circular needles of all lengths and gauges: most plastic, some metal.

My mother also gave me a gorgeous piece of lace she hand-crocheted. It used to be a curtain over a window in our old apartment in New Jersey. I don't know what I'll do with it, but it's certainly beautiful.

As for the storm in Nevada: Gary says that he and the house are okay. I have a colleague who lives in Fernley, so I hope that he and his wife and their twin children are safe, and that their house hasn't been destroyed. I also hope that when I get back to Reno, I'm able to unearth my car, which is in a surface lot at the airport.

Meanwhile, it's supposed to get into the sixties in Philadelpia this week.


  1. David Harmon7:59 AM

    "There has to be an easier way to do this," my mother said. "It can't have taken three people all this time to put butter churns together back when they were in everyday use."

    Back when it was in everyday use, the churn's pieces may have gotten every-so-slightly worn, reducing the tension - and perhaps explaining why this churn was relegated to use as a storage container!

  2. Torchwood is well worth it; was more fun than Doctor Who Season Three (presumably because they rarely used the character Freema A. is supposed to be).

    Good to here Gary and the cats are doing well. (Aside to Lee: it was Gary [iirc; one of his pre-Susan relationships if I don't] who introduced me to FUV, so credit really should go to him.)


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