Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Where's Surly Knitter?

A cemetery! How cheerful.

Actually, I went for a reason -- I wanted to find my great-grandfather's grave. I knew his name and where they lived in 1900 (thank you, census forms) but nothing else. I figured if I found his grave, at least I'd have the years he lived -- maybe not the dates, but it would give me a starting point.

We have very few Catholic cemeteries on this side of town and, thankfully, they all keep one office. I called and found out he died two years before my mother was born. I had thought he'd died years before, since none of the family photos I've seen have him in them. There's great-grandmother, all 13 kids and eventually their spouses, but no great-grandfather. Either he was taking the pictures, or no one wanted him in them. Which is possible, as my mother says he was a wretched drunk.

Eh, the Irish. Whatcha gonna do wit us?

So I decided to drive down to get a map to his grave and my mother asks me to get a map to my older sister's grave (she was stillborn, five years before I was born.) Okey dokey. When I get there, I ask for both great-grandpa and deceased sister, who my mother tells me should be listed as 'Infant M---'. The nice lady in the office goes away for a while, then comes around the corner and says, "K----?", i.e., my name. I look at her blankly, wondering when I gave her my name, until she says again, "K---- M----, 1969?"

Meep. I knew they'd intended to give the name I ended up with to her, but mother always told me they'd changed it to Mary after she died. Of course, mother hadn't attended the brief funeral; my father handled it all while she was still in the hospital, recovering, and there wasn't a headstone when she finally got to visit the site.

I smile, say yes, that was the name, and she goes off again to photocopy the plot purchase cards and get me the map. She comes back, gives me the papers, offers some directions to help me with the map directions, I thank her and go. In the car, I read the papers and on the plot card for my sister, they list my father as Edwin. Ummm, not his name. Right last name, close on the first one, but not his name. It sounds similar, so I know they've got it right.

When I told my mother, she asked my father and he said he'd changed my sister's name to a related name. Mom says, no, the form says K---. It also says your name is Edwin. Well, my father says, that's what you get when you deal with [name of funeral home].

After the shock of finding out someone with my same first name is buried near my great grandfather (they're plot neighbors, almost) I took some photos, and hied me home to make dinner. Between the nasty cold that's now descending into my chest (which is ok, actually, that means it's almost run its course) and the constant rain over the past week, I needed something hearty. Something warm and heavy and that calls to mind the royal wedding in two days which I fully intend to watch:

 Ham and chicken pie. The pie crusts I used were a bit elderly (not off or rancid, just old), but the filling is fabulous. It's a recipe from the National Trust Complete Traditional Recipe Cookbook, for which I cannot find a link. This one is an updated version of mine, and I hope they worked on the instructions for the new edition. For this recipe, she had a paragraph that literally said, "Make a white sauce with the butter, flour, stock and milk, throw in the parsley and then pour it over the filling." Now, I can translate this because I know how to cook, I know how to make a white sauce and I'm pretty confident in the kitchen. If I'd been a new cook, I'd have been hosed. This is not a cookbook for beginners.

Still and all, the recipe turned out excellent. To whit:

My first piece. Yes, I said first. It's a lovely pie, the weather is making like a Dyson and I found out I've got a truly recycled name. It's been a rough day.

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