Thursday, March 3, 2011

Scoff it down, Scarf it up, Shkoff like a 220 pound man.

scoff - verb: To eat (food) quickly and greedily.
scarf - verb: To eat, especially voraciously (often followed by down or up): to scarf down junk food
shkoff (shh-cough) - verb: To pig out and eat whole-heartedly.

Nadia G. of Bitchin' Kitchen

Illustrative Example:
Fun fact: Nadia G can shkoff like a 220-pound man (she can also beat him at sit-ups.)

Well, I used to be a 220 pound woman, and I did my own share of scarfing back in the day.  Especially when I was younger, scarfing was a great joy.  I still dream about the veal and pepper heros at this awesome little place in Bellmore, New York.  I used to go with my parents and younger brother.  First we would eat an entire pizza; then we would each have a hero.  Veal parmigiana, meatball, veal and peppers, sausage and peppers.  The sauce was to die for.  My family may have taken the fun out of dysfunctional, but one thing we did well together, and often, was to scarf food. 

We didn't call it "scarfing" in any of it's variations.  We were Jewish, and therefore what we did was "essen" - in both German and Yiddish, this translates "to eat".  Actually, what we did was "fressen"- enthusiastic overeating - but that was sort of impolite (while essen means "to eat", fressen means "to eat like an animal"), so my mother only used that word to describe other people, like her cousins on her mother's side.

Although, in this post-gastric bypass phase of my life, I no longer scarf food, I do scarf.  With yarn and rosewood knitting needles.  Lately, though, I have not been able to finish the two scarves I have on needles, which is preventing me from moving on to the four pairs of socks in various stages of completion.

My Cat's Paw scarf, a variation of Alison Jeppson Hyde's "Rabbit Tracks"

For me, cooking is a form of relaxation.  I realize for many people it is a terrible chore, or just a ho-hum sort of thing one has to do to get the kids fed, but I see it as an outlet for my creativity.  There are many things I cannot do, like using a sewing machine to make beautiful wedding gowns, or fixing a car, or throwing a ceramic pot.  When I cook, when I chop an onion or stir a risotto, I relax.  If I was in a bad mood, it dissipates, and if I was already in a good mood, I get downright cheerful.  My father used to relax by waxing the cars.  As far as I know, my mother never relaxed.  My husband likes to read science fiction or go to the taekwando school to beat up spar with people half his age. 

Some finished and near-finished projects - colorful striped triangle kerchief 
and the oddly pleasing Kink neckwarmer

There are times that one cannot simply pull out an onion and a santoku knife to relieve stress - like on a train, in a car, during lunch break at work ... that is, as we like to say, a "practical impossibility."  Those times, it is nice to have a portable hobby to engage one's mind, and I have two I always keep on tap:  reading and knitting.  With the invention of electronic books and the Kindle app on my iPhone, I am never without a murder mystery.  Police procedurals, forensic mysteries, culinary mysteries; I got 'em.  And if I don't got 'em, I can get 'em with one touch shopping.

Coming in for a close second is knitting, a hobby that is not just relaxing, but soothing.  I like bamboo or rosewood needles for most things, and they feel so nice in my hands.  Ditto for most yarns, as they slide across my fingers on their final transformation destination.  A humble skein of wool becomes a long, lacy scarf or perhaps an afghan for a new baby.  You can't beat that with a stick, or a knitting needle.

I learned to knit at a fairly young age, and kept knitting all those years when it was looked down upon as an old lady's hobby.  Now that it is considered hip and trendy, my mad skills with double pointed needles are the envy of everyone who longs for a silky neckwarmer or that ultimate luxury, handknit socks.  Which brings me back to my current bout of knitter's block.  I am realizing that the last time I had a really good run of knitting was during my completion of "Twins", a long, fluffy scarf of my own design. I finished it on New Year's Day, which was also the day one of my twin cats, Dora, succumbed to cancer.  Everything about the scarf - the pattern, the name, the color and texture of the yarn - was chosen in honor of my two little girls, Dora and Deety, who had been together every moment of their lives, and who I picked as my own from their litter when they were not quite a day old.  Knowing I was losing Dora spurred the completion of the scarf, but once it was done, not even knitting could improve my mood.  During a road trip to Dallas a few weeks later, I slogged through some of my works in progress (knitters call them "WIPS") without my usual enthusiasm.  I had also lost Emeril, the gray and white cat in the picture above, just 5 weeks before Dora, and his illness and death came without warning.  I was down in the dumps.  I guess I still am.

The "Twins" scarf, my design (click for the pattern)

My twins, Deety and Dora

The other part of the problem is my lack of free time.  I usually work through lunch or run over to Walmart to pick up necessaries, so there's no knitting time there.  When I lived in New York, I commuted on the Long Island Railroad and the New York City Subway, and all I had was time.  It was almost a 2 hour trip, each way, every day, from my home in Ronkonkoma to my office in lower Manhattan, and I made good use of that time to knit or crochet.  Knitting needles make great defensive weapons by the way.  I always felt better when I had sharp metal objects in my hands.  Those were pre-Giuliani days on the subway, and it was a tough crowd.

Speaking of tough, today has been a really crappy day.  It started out crappy and went rapidly downhill from there.  At some point during what should have been my lunch hour,  I promised myself a short break for scarfing knitting.  I closed my door, picked up my newest Kink (pictured below) and started to knit.  Rosewood needles and Noro Silk Garden felt so nice in my hands ... and then someone knocked.  Took care of that, tried again.  More knocking.  More questions.  More problems.  No knitting.

Crappy, what did I tell you?

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