Through the Back Loop

Adventures in knitting, fiber arts, and family.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Start with knitting.. well actually crochet.

Oma's basket

Just to prove that I have been doing something lately.
I inherited this basket and the unused yarn from my mother-in-law and I thought that since she is no longer here to make her annual Christmas presents for all of the women in the family, I would take her yarn and make them myself. No one else in the family knows how to crochet. Plus, this is a good time for repeating double crochet stitches at nauseum. That's because our family continues to suffer from more bad things. My DH was diagnosed with testicular cancer on 11/24 and yesterday we found out that the treament will mean several rounds of chemo and possibly one very nasty surgery. He is in pain from his surgery to remove the tumor, and we couldn't go to visit my father-in-law for his first holiday alone. We felt just terrible, but John was not up for the 7 hour round trip car ride. Tomorrow are more doctor appointments, but today we tried to have a normal Thanksgiving.

Anna was my right hand woman. She cooked every dish for the meal with me. Stuffing, turkey, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and the gravy. Alicia made the pumpkin pie. And. It snowed. Right on cue and big fluffy flakes, see?

Thanksgiving day snow

Here is Anna in action... 13 years old and she can cook with the best of 'em.
Anna making green bean casserole

I carved the bird.

Carve that bird

And we all ate.

The happy family

You can see that John is hurting, but he is in good spirits. Tomorrow Alicia turns 16. Oh. my.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Memorial - Lore Lohoff

12/29/1929 - 10/02/2008

My mother-in-law was one of the most wonderful people anyone could have met. She had her flaws, just as all of us do, but my memories of her will always be of the gifts that she gave to me. Those kitchen table talks with coffee and at times cigarettes while kids played around us, husbands watched television, and time stood still are the gifts that I will cherish.

From her I learned how to cook. We shared recipes and tips for how to make things better. Really, she taught me the tried and true German way to cook and I gave her little tips that I had learned from some magazine article. I have many of her recipes, but will never be able to make hospital jello right. Even when we tried them together side by side in my Valders kitchen years ago, hers worked. Mine never has. She, however, could never manage to make a pie crust as flaky and flavorful as mine, even when I helped her.

I learned how to shop from my mother-in-law. We compared coupons and techniques. If we bought twenty dollars at one store we could get the free item and drive to another store to spend twenty dollars there for another free item. Saturdays were spent with each of us pouring over our own Milwaukee Journal clipping coupons, and setting up our strategy. After shopping we would call to compare notes and let each other know about specials. Even today I find myself competing to get a bag of groceries for ten dollars, and I can do it with meat and other expensive items in the cart. I know she is proud.

I learned how to garden from her. She would sit on the most bitter cold winter day and plan out the vegetables and flowers that my father-in-law needed to plant. When spring came, they worked side by side to turn the soil, pull weeds, and get seeds and small plants started. My beans never produced half of what hers did. My flowers never bloomed as fully, and my cucumbers never grew to the huge yellow sized submarines that hers did for a perfect senfgurkin. The garden was her special place. She loved to sit in her garden and watch her grandchildren play. I loved to sit with her there, too.

Most of all, I learned how to love family in a new way. She made an ultimate sacrafice when she, her husband, and their two year-old daugther decided to move from Germany to the United States. Times for her were tough in a war-torn Germany that was trying to put itself back together after WWII, but things for a German immigrant family weren't much better when they came here. She wanted to go back a few months after they moved here, but my father-in-law didn't. I am able to have the best husband in the world because they stayed. She would give you the shirt off of her own back, and often did give away something that she treasured if you said that you liked it. It made her feel good to give, and you never left her house without something in your hand that she had given to you.

I have missed my talks with her for many years as her illnesses took her away from us very slowly over time. Now I'm left with an empty, aching feeling in my heart. She is gone to us forever and the world is not the same.

Thank you, Oma... for all of your gifts. I love you!