Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Watery Sludge

We were having leftovers for lunch today and FDPG (whose tastes are so austere that she eschews almost all food groups that do not include either cheese or sugar) had seconds of a soup I'd made a few days ago.

"Want some more?" I asked her.

"Yes please!" she said enthusiastically.

"Wow," I said, "why do you like this soup so much? I'm surprised."

"It's good! I like the stuff in it, but I like that watery sludge stuff most of all," she answered.

That watery sludge stuff. Right. I think I might need a lapel pin with that on it:

I am good at making watery sludge.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Cometh

And what do you know but we're supposed to have the wettest Halloween in 18 years. Gosh, how fun is that? What kid doesn't like slogging around the neighbourhood in the pouring rain in a soaking wet costume?

This is perhaps the first year in, well, years that we aren't Frantically Ready and Desperately Waiting for Halloween. When the kids were little I sewed spiders, lizards, fairies, Colorado Potato Beetles, kittens, and more. It was fun, mostly because a tiny costume takes seconds to make. Now of course they are far bigger in size, not to mention far more opinionated, and it's harder to work up the enthusiasm at the idea of spending a week sewing something wildly complicated for just one night. I spent the first part of the month arguing with Dominic, who had the idea of going out trick or treating dressed as an Angry Bird. The Boomerang Bird. The one with the long beak. "It will be super easy to make," he told me, "I have plans down in my room. I will show them to you. All you need is a box."

All I need is a box. If only life were like that.

Luckily the look on my face - when he added "You've left it a bit late, better get moving!"- managed to persuade him that he needed to pick another costume, given that it's THE DAY BEFORE HALLOWEEN. Now he's going as a ghost - the Charlie Brown kind: white sheet with holes. I don't think I will need my sewing machine, either. Nice.

FDPG is going as a Mad Scientist. She originally wanted to go as the Headless Horseman, sans horse, but I worked my persuasive magic and talked her into being a Mad Scientist, as such a costume would involve items we already had in the house and it is, after all, THE DAY BEFORE HALLOWEEN. Plus, we don't have a large suit I can cut holes in and at this stage I don't much fancy the idea of haunting the second hand shops for over-priced suits for her to hack at with scissors.

I'm sounding like a real downer aren't I.

At least their costumes will involve lots of glow-in-the-dark sticks from the Dollar Store. And FDPG gets to wear her Lucius Malfoy wig again, although for some reason she's decided to call it the Blonde Wig (odd considering that it isn't blonde). We had A Moment in one of those cheap jewellery stores today when I showed her some black-rimmed glasses and said "This looks very scientist-y!" and she said, looking oddly furtive, "I'm not going to be a dead scientist, or a diseased scientist, or anything weird looking, Mum." We stared at each other, me aghast at the idea that any child of mine should be so, well, so SEDATE at Halloween; she worried that I was going to insist she be a Dead Mad or Bad Scientist.

Fortunately we managed to compromise: she is going to wear a teeny tiny touch of white face paint and look ever-so-slightly dead (maybe with fangs) and I bought her an overpriced white foam stick that has an LED with 6 different lights in it to use as a Pretend Test Tube (it may or may not have a plastic skull stuck on it, evidence of An Experiment Gone Horribly Wrong). We are both happy with that outcome, although Dominic was annoyed that he didn't bargain harder about the Angry Bird costume.

I'm tempted to tuck Prunella the Moulting Chicken under my arm and walk around the neighbourhood in my dressing gown, telling the neighbours that we just woke up and we're not feeling very good. In all that rain we probably won't LOOK very good either.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Not My Country But...

...the sentiment is still the same. Don't go with GMO foods.
Food shouldn't be tampered with like this.

(wink wink, nudge, nudge, pass it on)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Ruffle-Necked Guy With The Head

Some of us are Renaissance scholars in this house, so when some of us saw that the latest LEGO minifig collection featured a Hamlet, well, it HAD to be found. Not by the Renaissance scholar, let me point out. No, he was, as usual, oblivious to the shifting sands of Popular Culture. It remained to me to shift them his way, as usual. So I did.

Some of us had to take a few Action Shots before it could go to the office, however. We cherish our amusing moments here at Greenridge Chronicles, especially with the dark days of winter fast approaching. Which reminds me, our Renaissance scholar has ONE grain of sand from the cultural tide stuck on the tip of his tongue: We've been reminded that Winter Is Coming for the past, oh, four billion months. SUCH a wit, that man.

But that's another reference. And another story.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, err, Hogwarts Castle...

"Alas, poor Voldemort! I knew him well."

As for the title of this post? Well, that is a direct quote from a kid I shared the aisle with at our local London Drugs, as we both searched through the mini-fig box. He was looking for a man with a bowler hat. I was looking for Hamlet. "That ruffle-necked guy?" he said, "the one with the head?" "Yes," I said, "the ruffle-necked guy." "My dad says it's Shakespeare," he told me very matter of factly. "Actually," I replied, "it's a character from a play Shakespeare wrote - this guy is named Hamlet." 

"Weird name," said my friend. 

And yes, we DO stand there for close to an hour sometimes, feeling those tiny LEGO packages. The clerks are used to us by now. I pride myself on my ability to differentiate a bowler hat from the Santa hat from the girl's hair. I tell Dominic that I can tell the DJ guy's disc from the bowler-hat man's newspaper but I can't really. Just don't tell him that.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Random Quotes From The Week

"It's not like I wake up in a rage that there's only 84 keys on a piano"

(or something to that effect, it's hard to remember word for word at 4am but I was struck by the fact that anyone MIGHT wake up in a rage)

— Brian Eno

"The fog still slept on the wing above the drowned city, where the lamps glimmered like carbuncles; and through the muffle and smother of these fallen clouds, the procession of the town's life was still rolling in through the great arteries with a sound as of a mighty wind."

(a case, if there ever was one, for reading classics to one's children)

— Robert Louis Stevenson

"Ma'am, am I going to have to arrest you?"

— dismayingly idiotic policeman

(annoyed at me for daring to suggest that he and his cronies are doing very little about the obnoxious pit bull down the street that has, so far, mauled three dogs)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

In Which I Almost Burn Down The House

Warning: This post originally aired in 2009. All fires are now extinguished.

It was the Canadian Thanksgiving this past weekend; wherein we celebrate, much as Americans do (but we do it earlier), with family and friends and many of us roast Very Large Items like turkeys or geese, and create many a side dish of potatoes or yams (no marshmallows please, I don't care what Nigella says about this) and other roastable products (maple-roasted parsnips anyone?).

So, this being our first house and all, we're having fun creating our own family traditions around all the holidays. This Thanksgiving the kids covered the front steps with mini gourds, white pumpkins, and giant Cinderella pumpkins, grown in the garden; they dipped leaves in beeswax, fragrant additions to the Seasonal Table; they made candle holders with colourful writhing dragons on them, surrounded with black paper, to remind us all of Michaelmas (which is often re-represented by St George fighting the dragon); and finally they brought in armloads of Michaelmas daisies and all the leftover flowers we have in the garden to float in bowls of coloured water with lighted candles. It was all very beautiful. Ethereal. Glowing. Warm. We invited some friends over, we set a turkey in the oven, I made bread and dug up potatoes and peeled many a parsnip.

It was the Yorkshire puddings that foxed me. If only I had put a cookie sheet under the muffin tins I would have been okay. The fire alarm wouldn't have gone off if I'd done that.

But I didn't.

Oh no.

I had to go and douse the muffin tins with generous amounts of oil, then set them in an already (sheila coughs self-consciously) oily oven and no it WASN'T filthy contrary to what Richard the Clean says, without anything underneath them to catch all the dripping oil. And let's face it, I was feeling pretty generous by this juncture of the day, filled with much bonhomie towards my friends and neighbours (and no, I was not drinking - not then at any rate) and it might have been about then that I thought "A giant Yorkshire pudding is much much better than a teeny tiny one, isn't it! I will FILL those muffin cups with batter! They will be giant puddingy puffs!" Sounded reasonable at the time...

So I used what one might call a glad hand with the filling of the muffin cups. All two and a half dozen of them.

Sadly, the oil oozed out all over the floor of the oven after I'd filled them with the pudding batter and slid them in the oven to bake. Not that I noticed, because at that point that I was standing outside on the deck, thinking "Gosh it's hot in that pokey little kitchen, think I'll just have a glass of wine out here in the nice cold air."

It was when I peeked in the window that I noticed the flames.

I dashed in, followed closely by Max (when Large Items are roasted he follows me very closely, because he likes Large Roasted Items and frequently accuses me of trying to starve him by not roasting them often enough for his liking). I gaped. I tried to quell the rising panic in my stomach. I opened the oven for a peek, then shut it. It was filled with flames. Really filled. I don't think I'd ever seen it like that. And it might have been then that I thought "OMG this is a PROPANE OVEN - we're all going to blow up!" But, being the stalwart Jane Austen heroine that I am, I did not shriek out loud. I did not even panic. And I did not faint into a heap on the floor. Instead, I calmly turned off the oven, and shrieked "RICHAAAAAARD!"

Now, accounts vary as to what I said after that. I thought I said "Richard - the oven is on fire and we are all about to die come and do something before that happens" Richard thought I said "I've put the fire out but it's still on fire!" And, since he didn't do anything right away, we both think I then said "RICHARD GET IN HERE RIGHT THIS SECOND THE KITCHEN IS ON FIRE!"

And we might be right. I think I did say that.

Fortunately that got him into the kitchen pretty quick. In fact, it got everyone into the kitchen. I remember wondering why everyone would come into a place that was about to blow up. And realizing that I couldn't very well cut and run with them all standing there, about to blow up with MY stove. It wouldn't look very good. But Richard took matters in hand and started doing something. "Get the Yorkshire puddings out of the oven!" he shouted tersely,  "Shut the oven door! Quick!"

So we did.

The fire went out.

Richard said "Why don't you ever clean that stupid oven? Look at all that oil!"

Our dinner guests said "Wow, it's exciting over here."

I said "I need a drink. Stop talking about cleaning the bloody oven, Richard, and get me a drink."

Max said "Will the Yorkshire puddings be alright? Will we still be able to eat them?"

And you know, they were. And we did.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Things I Am Glad About Today

— KUOW's fund drive is managing to be far more amusing than usual this year. Peter Sagal and Alec Baldwin, not to mention Phyllis Fletcher, are making this year's pledge drive bearable.

— That I am not living in the United States during this year's Presidential Face Off. Those of you in the US have my profoundest condolences. Well, those of you who find this stuff as silly as I do. Those of you who don't know what I'm talking about...well, let's just say that it's pretty nigh impossible to avoid coverage of this crap when it's on television if you live in the US. It's omnipresent (and almost as irritating as the American Olympic coverage is). And yes, I DID choose the word 'crap' carefully. This stuff is not political in the slightest; it's plain old grandstanding from people who don't like doing it and aren't very good at it. Do. Not. Like.

— I was going to say I was thankful that the chickens didn't escape today, but just a minute ago one did. Sigh. Max thinks he's being highly strategic (and clever) when he takes aim at them with his long range water gun, but as I pointed out (just a minute ago): the chickens don't experience water gun jets and make an obedient beeline for the chicken run. They think "huh? what's that? eek! must run away now!" and make a beeline for somewhere else. Which is exactly what just happened. How DO I know these things? Just call it a gift I have. (sheila shines her imaginary knuckles on her imaginary shirt and preens an imaginary bit)

— That we have a schedule for school this year. It means several things, all blessedly positive. First, the twins are able to be busy when I am elsewhere (like canning tomatoes or blanching beans or hulling tomatillos). This they like. Next, we're able to motor through unit studies in ways we often floundered with before. This we all like. Finally, I'm able to do quizzes based on previously done work. This is manna from heaven to the twins. They love quizzes. They love the fact that they know what a cell is, where bile is stored, and what a saturated fat is. I blame Mr Ratburn for this. It's all his fault, him and his blasted Pop Quizzes.

— That it was 69ºF today in the house. All day. It was even warmer outside. This from the Pacific North West. In October. It's the kind of event I am highly thankful for.