I've gotten to the stage in this garment, the Olive, where I can try it on and see how it looks. The wide torso and the drawn in hem make me look like a giant baked potato. I'd say I'd never wear this, but a more accurate phrasing would be I should never wear this. This is not a forgiving garment: it's accusatory.
Undaunted, I tried it on Olive. It fit her in much the same way, except instead of a potato she looked more like a pirogi. I'm not going to unravel this sweater; it served an important purpose. It got me knitting again. Knitting badly, but still knitting.
Moving right along: I have begun knitting with the merino/possum blend that Miss Susan brought from New Zealand.
Possum? you may say. But I thought Jen was possum-averse. Much like she's echidna-averse.
A New Zealand possum (swiped from the internet and pictured here)
is not the same thing as a North American 'possum (click on the link if you like, but don't say you weren't warned).
'Possum, or opossum, as we all know, are so hideous that one must be warned before being exposed to a photograph. They are also harbingers of disaster. I've never seen a live one without something bad happening immediately afterwards.
Case in point: in the early Spring of 1987, the ex and I decided to drive from Ithaca, NY to Niagara Falls. When we went to his car, there were 'possum tracks all over it in the newly-fallen snow. The 'possum had apparently jumped onto the back of the car, ambled its way to the top, sat for a moment, and then walked down the front of the car. "Aha," you may ask, "How did you know it was a 'possum?" I didn't, but the ex, having spent his formative years in a much more rural environment than I did, had not only seen 'possum tracks but I daresay had eaten it. My first impression was that a satanic half-man half raccoon had walked over the car.
'possom tracks, a re-enactment
We argued all during the drive. Pretty much every minute we spent at Niagara Falls -- both the US side and the Canada side -- was marked by arguments. So, how was this fight different from all other fights? I don't know: it just was. We had swept off the snow and 'possum tracks, but it didn't matter. The car was marked.
About two months later, the ex, back in CA while I finished out my senior year, called me to say his car had been broken into the night before and his tape deck stolen. As he was leaving the Red Onion happy hour to walk to his car, he noticed a 'possum ambling slowly along the low brick wall of the parking structure. He had chuckled to himself thinking of how I would have reacted... until he got to his car.
Then when he got home, he discovered his apartment had been broken into also, and his portable cassette player had been stolen along with his entire collection of cassette tapes. It was then that the ex became a believer, a person who respects that evil exists and its name is Opossum.
Three years later, the ex and I got engaged. We went back to his apartment, a mother-in-law unit he called "The Snow White Cottage." This little house had a skylight, and between the moon and the street lights it never got completely dark in there.
Except on that night.
We looked up at the skylight and saw something walking over it, its creepy, white face looking straight down at us for a moment. I said, "Did you see..."
"No!" the Ex said. "I saw nothing."
If an opossum walks over your house, pauses over your skylight and looks down at you but you pretend it didn't happen, does it still count? I don't think I have to tell you the answer to that one.
I did not encounter an opossum for several years. Not until LB and I were married, living in Concord, CA, and I was expecting Sabina. My mom was visiting at the time.
One night we heard Ruthie. our miniature dachshund, make a very long, low growl. She was standing at the sliding glass door in the dining room. We went to see what she was growling at, and then we saw it: that creepy white face peering right at us, those eerily human paws, one lifted off the ground in an inquisitive mode.
Like most pregnant women who encounter a Very Bad Omen, I become inconsolable. There was crying, feeble attempts to spit in the evil eye, and yelling at LB for actually saying the word "'possum" (everyone knows that harbingers of doom gather strength from hearing their names said aloud).
Ruthie began barking. If you know dachshunds, you know they have the bark of a much, much larger dog. People were always surprised to hear Ruthie's bark when they came to the door and then saw her, all nine pounds of her, threatening only to their ankles.
Ruthie and Jen, both as young pups.
Apparently the 'possum was also unfamiliar with the disparity between a miniature dachshund's bark and her actual ability to use deadly force, and it ran off into the night.
My mom, a superstitious person herself, was surprisingly unfamiliar with the significance of a live 'possum sighting. I remember her saying, "See? It ran away. It's gone," which was much more consoling than LB's insistence that the existence of an opposum in our backyard meant nothing more than that we were overdue for a garbage pick-up.
It has been many, many years since I've encountered a live 'possum, and I think it's because of the lesson I learned from Ruthie. The trick isn't to deny the existence of the 'possum, ignore the 'possum, or try to talk yourself through what you just saw in therapy.
The secret is to be the dachshund.