Saturday, June 30, 2007


I grew up in Britain: I remember as a child hearing of car bombs. I remember as a teenager learning to watch for unattended packages on trains, buses, at stations and airports. I understand why there are no garbage cans in London.

And today, I'd love to be able to watch the ordinary news in Britain, to know that they are not displaying over there the sense of panic, of sheer terror, that the CNN anchors are showing. It certainly seems that the latest incidents are not a cue to start running the streets shouting "the sky is falling, the sky is falling..." For starters, it certainly appears to the untrained eye that the doubtless evil and evil-intentioned people behind the two car bomb attempts and the fiery-drive-tae-Glasgae are, lets say, lacking something. Like an understanding of how things work: a clue, shall we say?

It is my hope that the folks over there are living life as they always have: secure in the knowledge that while there are idiots abroad in the land, with evil intent, cocooning oneself in a shell is not the answer.

Yours, an idiot abroad, without evil intent,

Update: At least CNN has a sense of perspective. Having spent the entire day spreading fear about the car in Glasgow, they are quite content at 9 to switch back to normal programming: a rerun at that, of Larry King interviewing Paul, Ringo, Yoko and Olivia (widow of George). The interview was interesting enough last week when it first aired, but....

Fleeting thoughts

It's been an odd day: I've sat down to blog several times, and each time nothing has come: and then I'll go do something else, and a million thoughts will jump into my head: things I want to say, and of course, as soon as I sit down at the keyboard they are gone again.

Yours in amnesia,


I'm not usually a big fan of Christopher Hitchens, or, for that matter of Tim Russert --- the latter seems usually to be so sycophantic to the republicans he interviews as to be unworthy of respect; the former seems to phone in most of his interviews in a seemingly drunken stupor. But I just watched CH appear quite coherent discussing religion (and why he is an atheist) with TR and Jon Meachem, both avowedly religious. I thought that CH made many of the strongest anti-belief points (especially those arising from a combination of scientific understanding, and realising the ridiculous level of anthropocentrism we'd need to indulge in to believe that we are the subject of the universe): he was cogent and clear. And they even touched on the point that an atheist would be unelectable in the US in the current atmosphere: and touched on it basically as an issue of civil rights.

A pleasant suprise.

Yours in disbelief,

Friday, June 29, 2007

Weekend of food ahead

We'll be starting to prepare for our festivities on the 4th this weekend (and also celebrating Canada Day on Sunday too!) Hopefully, we can get much of the prep work for Wednesday done over the next couple of days.
Our menu is still evolving, but looks like it might include the following:

Bean and corn salsa
Baba ganoush

Some sort of bread: focaccia? pizza? bread? Probably not home made pita?

Vietnamese chicken and non-chicken salad
Sausage rolls
Grilled lamb (courtesy of B&P)
Barbecued brisket (courtesy of R&L)
Braised ribs and chicken legs

Cream horns
Lemon bars
Chocolate roulade

Mango Lassi

Yours in anticipation,

Huge sighs of relief

Just heard from two of my best friends from college days: he says her pathology samples came back showing no concern, no further treatment. No more info necessary, than to say "What a huge relief". I want to shout it to the world!

Yours, in relief but not shadow

Live each day as if it were your last

In a previous incarnation, I used to feel a need two write bad poetry, and rarely share it. Now that I feel less need to write, I feel freer about sharing. Inspired by RT's comment, here is an oldie but baddie. I feel much calmer now.

Yours in rhyme,

Live each day as if it were your last, they say.
Tomorrow's yet to come, the past is past, they say.
Learn from your mistakes, and from your wins, they say.
Plan for the future, tomorrow a new day begins, they say.

Who knows? They may be right.

#Written on an angry day, c. 1990

What I'm listening to right now

Or rather, which ogg file was playing on the drive to work this morning: loud enough to sing along to; almost gospel, but not quite; the slightly nasally brilliant voice of Arlo Guthrie singing Last Train To Glory. Quite probably the only thing that I think that I miss by not being religious (other than the false sense of security) is the music --- and that I can listen to, sometimes even get to sing, as a heathen non-believing agnostic.

Yours in song,

Last Train To Glory, Arlo Guthrie

I want to hop on the last train in the station;
Won't need to get myself prepared.
When you're on the last train to glory, people,
You'll know you're reasonably there.

Maybe you ain't walked on any highways.
You've just been flying in the air.
But, if you're on the last train to glory, people,
You'll know you must have paid your fare.

Maybe you've been lying down in the jailhouse;
Maybe you're hungry and poor.
Maybe your ticket on the last train to glory
Is the stranger who is sleeping on your floor.

Now, I ain't a man of constant sorrow,
And I ain't seen trouble all day long.
We are only passengers on the last train to glory
That will soon be long, long gone.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Christmas in July, nearly

It is very strange -- when I put the sprogs to bed, I let them each pick a story for me to read to them, then they get to request a song and a poem. Boo always asks for The Railroad Cat, by T.S. Eliot, and Skibo always wants Train Whistle Blowing, which is what they call Morningtown Ride. But tonight, Boo decided she wanted two extra songs: Away In A Manger and Silent Night. Not sure what this means, if anything. Except, it is really strange to sing Christmas carols in sweltering heat. And we don't even live in Australia!

Yours, antipodally,

Other people's tragedy

Since I started this site a month or so ago, I have read many more blogs by other people than I did before. And one of the things I seem to see more of, reading other people's lives, is that there are an immense number of tragedies going on. And not just sad, gutwrenchingly sad events, but true tragedies: in which life jumps up and whacks you on the head for feeling like everything is going so well. It is, I'm sure a reflection of the fact that people care about each other (even when they only know each other in silica) and link to the tragic. In fact, almost all of the tragedies I've heard about in the past few days I've found out about because someone linked to it, or to a link about it.
It makes me want to shake [me] and say "Snap out of your complacency!! Yes, life is really very good, but you need to savour every minute, and not just accept it as wonderful..."

And right now, I am at work, and am unable to give LOML, Boo and Skibo the hugs I need to give.

Yours, awakened,

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Well, the steamed pork buns were as usual delicious --- I commend this recipe to everyone who is comfortable with bread dough (it is actually much easier than making bread!) --- the filling can be changed around to make it sweeter, tangier, etc. The soup is a bastardized Westernized version: all of the ingredients are easy to find, even in most podunk rural southeastern US grocery stores. I like to add a little srirachi thai hot sauce to my soup: the others in my family don't, so it is left as a condiment rather than an ingredient.

These recipes are written down from memory, but adapted from Oriental Cookery by Sallie Morris. The filling is much more my own creation, since the magic ingredient of Yellow Bean Paste that she calls for can't be found here.

As always, if you try a recipe and like it, please let me know. And if you don't like it, feel free to tell me so:-)

Yours, stuffed,

Hot and Sour Soup
1/2 lb pork cut into matchsticks
3 tbsps corn starch
1 small onion, minced
1-2 tbsps oil
several dried mushrooms
1 1/2 litres beef stock
1 package firm or extra firm tofu, diced
1 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsps rice wine vinegar
salt, fresh ground white pepper
1-2 eggs, gently beaten
Sesame oil
2 spring onions, sliced

Soak the mushrooms in hot water to cover. Drain and reserve the water. Finely slice the mushrooms. Fry the onions in the oil until they begin to turn colour. If the pork is not already cooked (e.g. left over roast pork) then toss in a little of the cornstarch: in either case, add to the onions and stir. When the pork has changed colour (if uncooked) add the mushrooms and the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add the tofu, salt and pepper, soy sauce and vinegar. Mix the remaining cornstarch with the reserved mushroom water, and add to the soup. Cook to thicken for several minutes. Drizzle the beaten egg into the soup to create threads. Sprinkle with sesame oil. Serve with the sliced spring onions as garnish.

Steamed Pork Buns
Bread dough
1 lb bread or all purpose flour
1 1/2 tbsps yeast
1 tbsp sugar
10 fl oz warm water
1 tsp salt
1/2 oz lard or butter

12-16 oz cold roast pork, finely minced
several cloves of garlic, finely minced
1-2 inches fresh ginger, finely minced
2 spring onions, finely minced
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1-2 tbsp teriyaki sauce
Oil for sauteing
1 tbsp cornstarch mixed in water.

Mix the yeast with the water and the sugar, and leave to proof for 15-20 minutes. Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a large food processor, add the lard or butter and the yeast and water mixture. Mix for 2 minutes. Add flour if necessary to obtain a soft but not sticky dough. Place in an oiled bowl, covered, to double in size.

While the dough is rising, make the filling: saute the ginger, spring onions and garlic in a little oil: add the pork, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, teriyaki sauce and stir until hot. Add the cornstarch mixed with water, and cook until thickened. Allow to cool, and form into 14-16 small balls of filling. Chill in the freezer if necessary so the balls of stuffing are firm.

Punch down the dough, and knead by hand for several minutes. Leave to relax for a little while, cut into 14-16 equally sized pieces, and form each into a ball wrapped around the filling. Place 7-8 stuffed balls of dough into each level of a stacking bamboo steamer, lined with parchment paper. Cover with parchment paper and leave to rise for 40 minutes. Steam over boiling water for 45 minutes.

Cooking tonight

Tonight I get to cook again: we had roast pork on Sunday, and so we have pork leftovers: I'm going to chop them up and use as the basis for a filling for bread-dough balls, which I'll steam, to make Chinese-ish stuffed pork buns: with a hot and sour soup, a lovely satisfying meal.

Recipe later, perhaps.

Yours in salivation,

Inventing words is important

Why isn't somnambutropic a word? It has such lovely word-feel to its phonemes. They just roll around the mouth, self-importantly suggesting something.

I think that I'm going to try once again to sleep.

Yours somnambutropically,

Four in the morning

is too early to be up. It seems that Skibo woke Boo up in the middle of the night: he needed her to take him to go pee (which is strange, as usually he gets up by himself). So once he's back asleep, Boo is lying there sobbing that she wants someone to stay with her --- and the final upshot is that at four in the morning I am now unable to get back to sleep: while everyone else is peacefully dreaming away.
And I have to be up in two and a half hours!

Yours insomniacally,

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Anvils in the sky

Stunning thunderstorms yesterday evening: enough to knock out the dsl and the satellite television signal for a half an hour or so. Beautiful flashes lighting up the sky, and the smell of ozone racing the thunderclaps. And rain. Unlike the situation in the UK, which sounds horrendous in places like Yorkshire, we are in near drought conditions here.
This morning was steamily humid: the drops of rain had still not evaporated from my car when I went to work --- at last the season of storms seems to be here!

Yours in nimbus,

How to win friends and influence employees

Sometimes the little things can make you feel so nice: after weeks of feeling that I am unappreciated at work, I get a really good evaluation from the boss. It probably won't make much difference in terms of raises, if any, but nonetheless it leaves me feeling so much better about where I work.

Yours (less dis-)contentedly

Monday, June 25, 2007

Family values

So a certain republican candidate for the presidential nomination, whose former South Carolina campaign chair has been indicted, charged with drug trafficking, has chosen a new SC chair: the father of the former chair. I think that he is trying to demonstrate Republican Family Values (TM). Just wait until the father's record of racial harmony and tolerance gets out!

Yours amusedly,

Sprogs and wiggles

So the sprogs love the Wiggles. And the Wiggles love bad jokes, especially bad knock-knock jokes. And so the sprogs have started making up their own knock-knock jokes too. Sometimes I think that they don't quite have the hang of this game: my favourite so far is "Knock, Knock. Who's there? Dodo. Dodo who? Dodo in the eyeball-head please mate!"

Yours in confusion. Or is that contusion?


No, I don't mean politeness, I mean politeless. As in, the folks who I run into on a daily basis seem almost universally to be lacking in the basic human skill of being polite. I mean, "please" and "thank you", "excuse me" and "may I?". Mind you, I've been a stickler for this since meeting my aunt when I was two, and telling my mother "Auntie is very nice, but she's not very polite, is she?": on further questioning, my mother determined that my reason for saying this was that my aunt never said "you are welcome" when I said "thank you".

A friend said yesterday that she had heard that one reason for children not saying "please" any more is that their parents are actively discouraging it, believing that saying please reflects weakness, and they want their children to grow up to be titans of industry, leaders, not followers. And barbarians.

If you disagree, let me know.


Power cuts

Yesterday evening we had the joy of a power cut: at about 7:30 there was an acrid smell in the air -- burning tyres? oil? not clear -- followed shortly after by all the lights going out. As I was in the middle of a phone call at the time, and our phones are all portable ones, requiring power, this was a pain.
Worse, the temperature outside was still in the high 80's, and our air conditioning is powered by, you guessed it, electricity. LOML and I took turns reading to Boo and Skibo while there was light enough in their bedroom to do so: then I wandered down the street to find out that a power cable strung across the street had "burned out" --- a scary thought. Fortunately no-one was hurt and the power company was already there fixing the cable. Less than two hours later, just as the children were drifting off to sleep, the power came back on. And of course, the light in their room was switched on, and bingo, they were awake again. Grrrr. Another ten or so minutes later I got them calmed back down --- Skibo went to sleep, and a while later, without being too difficult, so did Boo.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Scavenger hunting

It was a lovely sunny Sunday morning here: not yet unbearably hot, yet late enough on a Sunday that we'd finished videoconferencing with grandparents, had a bite to eat, and yet still been able to sleep in until past 8 o'clock.
One of the delightful things about where we live is the proximity to a beautiful botanical garden --- rather than the manicured, overly tended sort of place this name sometimes conjures up, the local botanical garden is muchly an overgrown wilderness of paths and trails through woods.

Boo and Skibo went scavenger hunting, together with eight other children, friends of theirs and siblings. They had difficult lists of things to find (difficult in that none of the children read well enough yet to read the lists!) --- we spent half an hour or so trekking round the gardens, stopped for midmorning snacks of muffins, pineapple, bananas, grapes, etc: then meandered on for another hour or so. We checked their booty: pine cones, leaves (brown, green, red), stones, pine needles, sticks and leaves of grass. And all the children were spectacularly good at observing the "if you want to smell a flower, that is fine: you must not pick them"
and "no! don't go near the poison ivy" rules).

By the time we had finished, it was past noon, and the temperature was around 90: even with 40% humidity I'm finding it oppressive, and it is only June. We stopped on the way home at the grocery for provisions for dinner (we were given a big bag of fresh home grown vegetables, including marrow-sized zucchini, so we decided to try to do a stuffed zucchini as a side dish for dinner tonight).

A fun, if exhausting morning. And then LOML decided that the day was perfect to go off for an afternoon hike with other friends! Crazy!


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Simple Fare

Simply put, simply delicious.
Pork chops thick cut, on the bone. Seasoned, just salt and pepper, grilled just long enough on both sides. Not too little, for pork can be dangerous, as we are all taught (though the days of a risk of trichonosis from commercial pork in the US are long gone, I gather: and it is now known that cooking to an internal temperature of 140 C is sufficient to kill it anyway) but not too much either, for dried out pork is inedible!
Corn (I wish it was freshly picked from the garden, but that is still weeks away) soaked in the husks for 20-30 minutes, then thrown on a hot grill, turning every couple of minutes or so. Remove the blackened outer leaves and continue cooking until the kernels are just turned with a touch of caramelization. I usually count on between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on the number of outer leaves, the age of the corn, the temperature of the grill, etc.
New potatoes, boiled until the tip of a sharp pointed knife slips in and out easily. Drain and toss with melted butter and coarsely chopped fresh mint.
Broccoli, so the sprogs have trees to eat. No, really, broccoli is okay, I guess, but the little ones really seem to like it.

Nothing fancy, no special preparation, a meal even I could cook, even if I didn't know how to cook.
But I do, and I can still cook it. Nananana booboo.:-)


Cafe standards

And I don't mean java.

There is a lot of debate in this country about global warming. Or rather, how we avoid facing the issues global warming would or does raise. Let us suppose for now that the evidence for global warming is not overwhelming: but that there is, say, a 20% chance that it is the case that global warming is going on. Are we willing to risk a 20% chance of our children and grandchildren facing a cataclysmic future? Are we that callous?

Little things that can and should be done. By individuals, reducing carbon footprints: installing insulation: not heating so high in the winter or cooling so low in the summer: use public transport where possible: etc.
By governments, specifically the US government: encourage reduction in gasoline usage via incentives, regulations and penalties. I discussed my take on taxes yesterday: today I thought I'd mention the fight against more fuel efficient vehicles here. Yes, you read that correctly: it seems that there is a fight to not make more fuel efficient vehicles.

Detroit, home to most US automobile companies, is in Michigan. Both Michigan senators are Democrats, typically the party more open to working to save the environment via government action: however, both senators from Michigan are fighting tooth and nail against the so-called Cafe standards: these would require higher miles per gallon for new vehicles some 10 years from now. It seems to me that the automobile manufacturers are being extremely shortsighted on this issue: they seem to think that they will be the only ones unable to compete if these new rules come into play. In fact, they would be being forced to make changes which would help them compete at a global level. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Still learning this blogging stuff

Since I figured out how to put pictures up on the blog already, and since I have no intention of putting videos up anytime soon (well, at least today.... or tomorrow....) it seems that I ought to waste some time invest a little effort figuring out some other useful little tricks. Like, how much html can be used without writing the post in html directly.....

Those of you who caught my blog in a ten second window a few minutes ago (all none of you) before I fixed it would have seen that all thrumptyseven thrumptyone of my previous posts were struck through. The moral is, if you are using html style things, preview before you post!

Yours in error, now corrected,

Gasoline taxes

Over at the Washington Monthly, there is a discussion of gas taxes and other means of trying to help reduce carbon emissions to save the environment.

Having grown up over in the UK, it has always seemed that gas prices are ridiculously cheap here. Even in Canada, much more similar to the US in terms of the distances people drive, by choice or necessity, gas is more like $5 a gallon than the current $3+change here. And as a result, in Canada, cars are, in general smaller than in the US. And more fuel efficient.

Let's have a gas tax increase: a modest one, like $1 or so a gallon. It will reduce usage modestly. Modestly is good. It can be used to do other good things: for example, an increase in research into more efficient engines, or into developing mass transit. Let's tie the gas tax to better use of resources, not more use of resources.

Let's give a tax credit to the poor to compensate: not to make the tax completely neutral, but to eliminate the effect on the poor. This gives the poor an incentive to use, for example, mass transit where available, which we will be developing with the revenue from the gas tax.

Let's also have vehicle taxes that reflect the damage done on the environment, on the roads, on people, by vehicles. And lets encourage the use of more efficient modes of transportation of goods than trucking across the country, by making those who use the roads pay the cost of upkeep. If we put as much federal funds into, say, rail, as we put into roads, the country would be much better off. And we'd have a great railway system.

On the issue of production of electricity, there are methods which are environmentally more friendly: for example, converting wind or solar power into electricity is much more friendly than coal, oil or nuclear energy.

And lastly, on the environment, let's get better crops grown to produce the appropriate goods: hemp, for example is outlawed even in its tlc-free form: yet it makes great paper and fabrics, and is less corrosive to the landscape than cotton, and faster growing than timber (and hence we can stop logging for paper, which would save hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon release).

Oh, and for those who object that a sudden increase in gas prices would be a disaster for the country, let's have the sudden increase in a manner that would help the country out, rather than a manner which goes to increase the goitre of oil company executives.


Weather and crops

It looks like this is shaping up to be a pretty bad year for the local farmers (and hence for those of us who would like to eat local produce to the extent that we can). First, in March the weather got incredibly hot, so everything budded, and then there was a severe frost (well, severe for here, for March): at the time, reports said we would lose 90% of the peach crop -- and now, the peaches I have seen are about half the size (that is, one eighth the weight!) of a normal peach.
Last week at the farmers' market, one of the farmers there said that his onions were all small this year: in this case, it was the lack of rain a month or so ago: then yesterday, the berry farm had no blueberries yet: even though most of the area has had some nice drenching rains in the past couple of weeks, for some reason their microclimate is such that they've had only one sixteenth of an inch of rain in the past month.

Sweating it,

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Overworked and underpaid, but going swimmingly

Well, don't we all feel that way? Actually, I am so fortunate in having a job that I love, especially during the summer, that when I work twice as hard at this time of year it still feels like fun. And, of course, then there are days like today, when I took off a little earlier than usual, and LOML and I took Boo and Skibo over to a swimming pool in the neighbourhood our friends live in, and swam for an hour or so (or rather, tried to get Boo and Skibo to swim). They are still not quite there: hopefully the lessons that they are signed up for next month will awaken them to the amazing possibilities open to them in the water! Miss K, who will teach them, is apparently an amazingly good swimming teacher, and since they know her from gymnastics, with luck they will be willing to learn.


Curry, of a sort

Felt in the mood for something somewhat flavourful over the past few days, so we decided to cook something of an Indian-inspired nature. My favourite book in this genre, for its simplicity, as well as for how the dishes actually taste, is Curries Without Worries by Sudha Koul: she deals with having to cook with ingredients readily available in grocery stores in the US in the 80's: much of the country has since improved, but here the improvement has been slow, and we are still stuck with the fact that for some stores, fresh ginger is an exotic ingredient.
Anyway, I've now cooked from this and other books often enough that I will improvise around a recipe, and this is what I did last night:
Chicken thighs, skin removed
Spices (cumin, cayenne, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, curry powder, home-made garam masala, which recipe I ought to post sometime)
Unsalted butter
(no, I don't always have homemade ghee in the fridge)
(no, the local grocery stores don't stock ghee)
(are you kidding?)
Coarsely chopped onion
Several cloves garlic, minced
Couple of inches of fresh ginger, minced
3-4 cups diced tomatoes
8 small potatoes, cubed
1 cup or so cauliflower florets
1-2 cups chickpeas (prepared, or canned)
1 cup yoghurt

I sort-of followed the recipe for whispering windows buttered chicken, without the marinating in yoghurt first, and adding yoghurt later instead of heavy cream: I also increased the spice levels and variety a bit. I threw in the potatoes, cauliflower and chickpeas to add texture, especially since I wasn't going to do a pullao rice or other dishes to go with it: and since I was planning on leftovers, I wanted to make it a complete meal so that we can just heat a bowl of it for lunch.
I served it with kasmati rice (a branded version of basmati) and condiments: banana, cashews, golden raisins, shredded coconut.
I kept the heat level down (the only really hot ingredient was the cayenne pepper,
which I added with a light hand) so that there was a chance the sprogs would eat and like it. Some chance. Actually Boo liked it okay (she wasn't incredibly enthusiastic, but at least she ate several mouthfuls of it). Skibo, on the other hand, refused to let it touch his lips. Complete refusal. Absolute NO. Not even with the promise of ice cream later!

I am so looking forward to the little ones developing a taste for decent food! Not that I want them to grow up too quickly,... but on food, I can't wait.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Political news

I heard last night that the Guliani campaign's person in South Carolina was in hot water, and being a political junkie went to find out why: well, it turns out that he has been indicted on charges of selling drugs. This was rather a surprise, but I was even more surprised to discover who it was: the State Treasurer. Now, normally even a political junkie like me would have no idea who the SC State Treasurer was: but in this instance, I knew someone who ran against him in the (R) primary a couple of years back, and so I had followed that race quite closely. At the time, I had thought that he was a slimy character I would personally not trust as far as I could dribble: but even I am surprised at the indictment!


The little things that please

Yes, it's the little things that please: there are of course those huge things that matter, but the day to day pleasures we get from the little things are what keep us going. Sunlight through the leaves, captured by the eye for just an instant: a funny but really bad joke, not repeatable: a smile on Boo or Skibo's face as I walk in the room...

I think that it is time to see if Boo wants to learn to play the piano --- I have always wished that I had learned as a child, and LOML suggested that Boo and I take lessons together: we have found a teacher who likes to teach parent and child classes, so I think that we will do it. I wonder how long I will be able to keep up with her for:-)



And another wheeeee!!! Amazon update: #35,298 in the bestseller list!


One hundred visitors! According to google analytics, my little corner has had a 100 people visit: of course, some of them are from me, so I really ought to wait for a few more to celebrate that extra digit: but heck, any excuse for a celebration!


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A wonderful evening!

Since I had to have dinner with our visitor last night, tonight was LOML's to go out: and so I have been playing with Boo and Skibo: other than an occasional (and occasionally oppressive) round of "I want children's television" they've really been quite spectacularly good for days on end. (Although, those moments when Boo is being less than that good have been hard to deal with: the other night she threatened me with all sorts of nasty behaviour, including: "Do you want me to hit you?", "Do you want me to tell that you are not being nice" and some others not fit for polite conversation.
Oh, okay, the least of them was that she called me Poopy. There were worse, but I will save her from googlizability when she is 16. I'm just going to remember the story to tell when she least expects it:-)


A magic day!

What a wonderful day! Basically, our visitor spent the whole day giving talks to our undergraduate research students, and doing a great job of interacting with them, teaching them neat stuff, informing them about academics, how you succeed, how you enjoy life, and best of all, showing them how to give a first rate talk.
And his magic tricks were spectacularly good! And he was willing to share how he did a few of them --- which was great! Even though, I have to say that once he had shared a trick or two, it was still difficult to get my head around how he had worked it!


Farmers' Market

Last week, at the lovely little Farmers' Market on the town square (you see why I describe it as "little"!)

The mayor of the town even shows up!

Monday, June 18, 2007


On Sunday morning, we got up and saw the following bug on the back deck: an amazing little beastie.


Crossover salmon appetizers

From Saturday night, the salmon appetizers made with the leftover bourbon marinated salmon.


A busy day

One of many very busy days coming up --- the undergraduate research program has a visiting speaker today and tomorrow: I had a meeting about a grant proposal I'm interested in at 1pm, and just made it back to the talk for the undergraduates in time: the talks this afternoon will go until at least 5, and then we'll all go to dinner. And tomorrow, more talks (all these talks are wonderful, and enjoyable for me personally, I hasten to add!
Then, in July I teach as well as running the research program: so for a little while my blogging will be lighter and shorter, I suspect.... even though I've only been on for a month or so.
Still, it all keeps me out of trouble, and paid for the summer, which is good.


Old friends, new friends,...

Thinking about old friends and new friends. Now that LOML and I are parents, now that our whole life revolves around Boo and Skibo, or so it sometimes seems, it has become seemingly much easier to find new friends. And every friend a family. And every family has one or more children of roughly the same age as Boo and Skibo.

Fortunately, we really find that many of these people we really like! And of those, mostly they enjoy the things that we enjoy: good food, good company, nice wine, good conversation....

And when they can cook brisket on the grill like we had at R&L&B's today,...
and we manage to stagger home late and stuffed.... I can't believe that the four of us "adults" managed to eat over 4 pounds of brisket! Sooooooo good...

Yes, home is here, for here we are today.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Leftovers or crossovers?

I was going to post about how wonderful it is to have good leftovers to eat the next day, but it occurs to me that the meals are almost more than that: we sliced up a leftover fillet of bourbon-marinated salmon yesterday and placed it on crackers with a thin spread of cream cheese and a julienned red bell pepper.... absolutely delicious snack. Followed with a basic red sauce (tomato, celery, garlic, red and yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, lots of pesto, lots of fresh basil) over pasta and italian sausage, delicious too.

Then this morning for breakfast we had the standard occasional sinful bacon and scrambled eggs, but we used the leftover potatoes from two nights ago to make hash browns, and the leftover italian sausage from last night as well. Definitely crossovers rather than leftovers:-)


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Salmon in a bourbon marinade redux

Tried the salmon again last night: if somethings is a success I like to recreate it soon, so that I get it into my head: we had Matt over to dinner to thank him for fixing the computer, and the salmon looked good in the store: althought the wild salmon looked even better, I didn't think that on sale at $14 per pound (thats like fifteen quid a kilo in real units) seemed like a steal. With wild salmon I'd have relied on the flavour of the fish, without the marinade: but I went with the cheaper solution, and did the bourbon marinade again. The recipe is definitely a keeper:
Marinade: mix together in a gallon-sized ziplock
Couple of tablespoons good soy sauce
Tablespoon or so of bourbon
1/4 cup of grapefruit juice
1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar (to taste)
Several cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
Inch long piece of fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Couple of tablespoons of olive oil

Now take salmon fillets and a sharp filleting knife: lay the fillets skin side down on a cutting board, cut down through the middle of the fillet (in the along-the-fish direction) through the natural seam: then turn the knife sideways, and cut along the bottom as close as possible to the skin. Remove the now skinned half fillet, turn the remaining piece around and cut along close to the skin. Place the skinned fillets in the marinade: the above is enough for 2-3 lbs of salmon: about three large fillets (six pieces after skinning), which is easily enough for six adults.

Seal the bag, place in a bowl in case of leaks, put in the fridge for 3 hours or so (less time will work, but the longer marination time helps the flavour penetrate the fish).

Barely coat the bottom of a skillet with oil, and place on medium high heat: cook salmon, turning once after 4-5 minutes, depending on heat, thickness and how well done you like your salmon. (I don't time it: I cut into one piece to see how well it is done to gauge it).

If you try it, let me know. If you like it, all the better!


Call from an old friend

How nice it is to get a call out of the blue from an old friend: F called today: we had stayed with them on our way back from up north earlier in the year, but I hadn't called to let them know we made it back okay, and that sailing was smoother between LOML and me now that we were back in our own town, in our own house, with our own garden (and kitchen and knives). I should, of course, have called earlier to chat, but have been remiss of late with telephones: it sometimes feels like I have telephonophobia....
It's really rather sad, that of all the friends I had in college(s) there are so few that I have kept in contact with. A few who I send birthday greetings to, but those that I really talk to more than once or twice a year, it's in the less-than-a-handful range. Not made easier by being 4000 miles from most of them, and more than 500 miles from all of them. Still, life is what you make of it, and I've always subscribed to the notion that home had almost always better be where you are now, or you're in the wrong place.
So, home, heart, and loves are here, so this is the right place!


Friday, June 15, 2007

Skibo the cowboy

Skibo went shopping earlier, with LOML and Boo, and apparently really really really wanted this cute little pair of cowboy boots, in something like his size: so he (and Boo too, whose feet are almost the same size, despite being almost two years older) now are the proud owners of a pair of cowboy boots. Not quite hot pink cowboy boots!


I'm so thrilled!

Someone just linked to my little blog as a favourite:-) How nice!
Thank you so much, RT!


Swearing for little people

Boo(4) is learning to swear. Yes, this makes me really happy. Fortunately, it seems that although both LOML and I manage to release the odd expletive on occasion (oh, okay, frequently) it appears that she can't remember exactly what she heard.

This evening just before bedtime, on being told she couldn't have any television, she pouted and told me in a very angry voice that "I am so pussed out with you right now" (pronounciation guide: here pussed should sound like the past tense of pus. As in pus-filled, not puss, as in kitty) Furthermore, she informed me, she was "pussed out with everybody in the whole world!" I inquired about Santa --- no, she wasn't pussed out at him. Nor the tooth fairy or the Easter bunny.... She was pussed out at every other individual I named, LOML, friends, etc. I decided not to try asking about too many people who might be upset if I named them!


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Gentle afternoon on the town square

One of the nice things about the small town where we live is the friendly informality of the place. Today was the first of the summer's Farmers' Markets (every week on Thursday, probably through the end of September or so), a delightfully understated event: only about a couple of dozen vendors, mainly fruit and vegetables, but also a few selling things like milk, eggs, baked goods. It's a perfect June afternoon, not too hot, no thunderstorms yet, and it was just lovely to walk around the town square, visiting the vendors, all of whom remember us from last year, and seeing all of our friends and neighbours too.

Of course, the vendors don't remember LOML and me! They all remember Boo and Skibo --- everyone commented on how much both of them had grown, especially Skibo (of course, being younger it shows so much more), and that we no longer had a stroller. Nope, no stroller, we reply, but all this time Skibo was on my shoulders since he wanted to be carried --- and I can handle his weight so much more easily on my shoulders than on my hip.


Trains, planes, no automobiles

Perusing the blogosphere this morning, or more specifically, visiting Cornish Dreamer's wonderful blog, I found myself getting all nostalgic for trains and train stations: -- it has been 4 years now since I was back in the UK, and I really miss the trains, that acrid, slightly nasty smell that all stations seem to have, peering down the tracks to where they curve off into the distance, watching for the train....
I just had to listen to Flanders and Swann's wonderful lament "Slow Train". How lovely that RT's post was about the route from St Erth to St Ives --- apparently that line was saved from the axe after all.

One of these days I'll have to get back over: but now that there are four of us, it becomes so much more expensive for us to fly over. Perhaps in May next year we will be able to go.


Slow Train
Miller's Dale for Tideswell ...
Kirby Muxloe ...
Mow Cop and Scholar Green ...

No more will I go to Blandford Forum and Mortehoe
On the slow train from Midsomer Norton and Mumby Road.
No churns, no porter, no cat on a seat
At Chorlton-cum-Hardy or Chester-le-Street.
We won't be meeting again
On the Slow Train.

I'll travel no more from Littleton Badsey to Openshaw.
At Long Stanton I'll stand well clear of the doors no more.
No whitewashed pebbles, no Up and no Down
From Formby Four Crosses to Dunstable Town.
I won't be going again
On the Slow Train.

On the Main Line and the Goods Siding
The grass grows high
At Dog Dyke, Tumby Woodside
And Trouble House Halt.

The Sleepers sleep at Audlem and Ambergate.
No passenger waits on Chittening platform or Cheslyn Hay.
No one departs, no one arrives
From Selby to Goole, from St Erth to St Ives.
They've all passed out of our lives
On the Slow Train, on the Slow Train.

Cockermouth for Buttermere ... on the Slow Train,
Armley Moor Arram ...
Pye Hill and Somercotes ... on the Slow Train,
Windmill End.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Amazing altered graphics

This sequence of altered photos is absolutely stunning!
(ht to Dependable Renegade)



Despite my hubris the other day, the desktop is now fixed. Thanks entirely to Matt, who was able to observe the plastic prongs which needed to be gently squeezed, (and the screw which had to be taken out of one of them first). We were then able to thread the remains of the switch through the floppy drive bay so that we have a usable on-off switch. With luck the computer will now last another few months or years! (Yes, I'd love to buy a new one, and if it were necessary I could and would do so --- but I would far rather not at the moment! There are other toys higher on my priority lists, for example a dslr camera --- and that has been waiting now for over 3 years!)

So, I hereby renounce any claim to being able to deal with computers!


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Children change so quickly part 2

Yes, they change so quickly, but tonight (having had no nap this afternoon) they were little angels, happily ensconced in front of The Clangers (asking oh-so-sweetly for extra 5 minute episodes) until it was time to go to bed.

Note for the uninitiated: the Clangers are an amazingly gentle, yet fun, tv for preschoolers from several decades ago in the UK. Those of us who grew up with it tend to love it --- others go "huh? knitted puppets? soup dragon? whistles?" Try it -- it is lovely.

A lovely evening:-)


Children change so quickly

So Boo will be five later this year, and Skibo will be three in August --- and both are going through the sorts of developments that amaze, amuse and astonish. And as astounding as they are, often they dismay too.

Boo, for example, has taken to sullen pouting when she can't have her way right now: yesterday she protested loudly "You make me sad! You make me mad! You make me want to cry! You make me want to die!" Which would have probably been even more disturbing if she hadn't chosen to recite it in verse:-)

As Peggy Seeger put it in her song "Different Tunes",
"Where's the girl,
the child I had,
the daughter like a morning star?"

Skibo, on the other hand, could change one thing right now, as far as I am concerned: his dependence on his pacifier --- it is bad enough that he needs it at bedtime, but when he uses it during the day it's even worse. And then he puts it somewhere and it cannot be found for twenty minutes... I bought two more this afternoon in the hope that this will encourage the hiding ones to come out of their hiding places and be found....


What I'm listening to right now

The Mary Ellen Carter by Stan Rogers, on Between The Breaks, Live.

Probably my favourite track on one of my favourite albums. A fantastic song about beating the odds, and beating back adversity. It has got me through more than a few times when I've been feeling like the last chorus was my life. Now, I'm just listening because it came up at random, and I felt like sharing how much I love the song!


She went down last October in a pourin' drivin' rain.
The skipper he'd been drinking, and the mate he felt no pain.
Too close to Three Mile Rock, and she was dealt her mortal blow,
And the Mary Ellen Carter settled low.

There were just us five aboard her when she finally was awash.
We worked like hell to save her, all heedless of the cost.
And the groan she gave as she went down caused us to proclaim
That the Mary Ellen Carter'd rise again.

Well the owners wrote her off, not a nickel would they spend.
"She gave twenty years of service, boys, and met her sorry end.
But insurance paid the loss to us, so let her rest below,"
And they laughed at us and said we'd have to go.

But we talked of her all winter, some days around the clock.
She's worth a quarter million afloat and at the dock.
And with every jar that hit the bar we swore we would remain,
And make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.

Rise again, rise again,
That her name not be lost to the knowledge of men.
Those who loved her best and were with her 'til the end
Will make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.

Well, all spring now we've been with her on a barge lent by a friend.
Three dives a day in a hard-hat suit, and twice I've had the bends.
Thank God it's only sixty feet, and the currents here are slow,
Or I'd never have the strength to go below.

We patched her rents, stopped up her vents, dogged hatch and porthole down,
Put cables to her fore and aft and girded her around.
Tomorrow noon we'll hit the air and then take up the strain
And watch the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.


Oh, we couldn't leave her there, you see, to crumble into scale.
She'd saved our lives so many times a'livin' through the gale.
And the laughing drunken rats who left her to a sorry grave,
They won't be laughing in another day.

And you to whom adversity has dealt a final blow,
With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go.
Turn to and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain
And like the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.

Rise again, rise again,
Tho' your heart it be broken, and life about to end.
No matter what you've lost, be it a home, a love, a friend,
Like the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.
Rise again, rise again.
Like the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.

Monday, June 11, 2007

McConnell is an ass

It is official: watching the no confidence debate on Gonzales, it is clear that not only is McConnell an ass, he is seen to be an ass, and presumably never more can deny that he is an ass.
D'Amato investigated the first lady. Whether Schumer was correct or not that this was inappropriate given his positions is irrelevant. Gonzales is an officer of the United States, with his position subject to Senate confirmation, and with official job duties subject to review by the Senate! This is why this investigation is different, and why McConnell's statements show that he is an ass.

Update: Lott says: this is the wrong thing to do because it gets in the way of important business. Oh, and yes, of course we republicans did it too, but ignore that. It is wrong to have democrats do this now. It is beneath the dignity of the senate.

What a crock.


Watching other people talk

One of the difficult things that we try to teach our research students how to do is to communicate effectively. Of course, we expect them to learn from our shining examples:-) This week they each give their first of three presentations: this one on the dry erase boards (the remaining presentations will be powerpoint-style (actually LaTeX with beamer in pdf). It is always interesting especially to see their first attempts: to see how well they keep to the time limits, how badly they mess up complicated explanations of things that can be explained simply, etc.

And it is especially lovely at the end of the eight week program to see how much some of them have progressed, how good a job they all do with their final presentations.


Sunday, June 10, 2007


Computers have three components, as far as I can tell: software, hardware, and an un-named yet critical other component. The lower-tech bits of the box, not the motherboard, hard drives or dvdrw's, but the physical box, the power supply, the on-off button, etc.

I can deal with software. I understand that. I'm happy repartitioning a drive (usually), installing linux, etc. I can, after a few deep breaths, deal with hardware. I usually take the unusual step of reading and re-reading documentation, etc, but I am able to install a new hard drive, figure out the jumpers to make it master or slave, etc.

The third, un-named component, the one that anybody ought to be able to deal with, drives me nuts. It appears that, thanks to the on-off button breaking on our (admittedly old and cheap) computer, we will have to spring for a whole new machine. I tried opening the box, removing hard drives, cd rw, dvdrom, etc but still couldn't see how to open the box to get to the front where the switch is located. What a royal pain in the ar.....mpits.



Saturday, June 9, 2007


A good day for food. No photos -- there was too much else going on: we had most of my research experience for undergraduates students over, together with our visitor: LOML and I threw together two pots of chili: one with meat, the other with cashews. The cashew one was from either Moosewood or Enchanted Brocolli Forest (LOML is much less comfortable with improvising than I am): mine was a basic chili (onions, celery, tomatoes, bell peppers, meat) together with several different kinds of beans: dark red kidney, garbanzo, black, pinto, and with some frozen corn kernels thrown in. If I'd had more time, I'd have grilled the corn and cut off the kernels, but this was sort of a late decision.
Plus, I made bread. And for the first time since we got back in the house, the bread felt right. Not just okay, not just good, but like I remember how to make good bread again.

Damn, if it doesn't feel good!


Friday, June 8, 2007

Thunder in the afternoons

One of the joys of living in the deep south is the storms in the mid afternoon: there is something electric in the flashes of light and the sudden claps of thunder. As long as I am not caught outside in them, they can be the most exciting part of the day. And the air afterwards, cooled by twenty degrees for a little while, is so refreshing, and the smell of it is incredible.


Thursday, June 7, 2007

Oh yes....

Oh yes.... definitely a keeper -- the asparagus looked over-charred, but tasted wonderful: the corn as always is great that way, and the broccoli, well that is for the children's sake: they love it. Our guests were surprised, but also pleased by the new potatoes in butter and mint, and the salmon was just the way that I wanted it to be. Cooking does make me happy sometimes:-)


Salmon in a bourbon marinade

Bought some nice looking salmon fillets at the megamart this afternoon: a friend of mine is in town and we are having him over for dinner tonight: I had thought of buying the pre-marinated fillets, but after glancing at the cost (more than three times as much, and it's the same salmon, farm raised: it's not as if it is wild!) I decided that I can do as well at home.

For the marinade, I threw together approximate quantities of bourbon, soy, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, vegetable oil, fresh ground black pepper: I removed the skin from the fillets with a sharp filleting knife, placed the fillets in the marinade in ziplock bags, in a bowl in the fridge for a couple of hours.

With it we're having corn on the cob (soaked for half an hour in cold water, thrown on the grill), asparagus (perhaps brushed with olive oil and grilled), and boiled new potatoes, skins on, in melted butter and mint. I'll let you know how it turns out!


Food pictures

Here are pictures of a couple of recent creations: the first is the cake referred to below: layers of chocolate, strawberries, cream, topped with ganache:

The second is of sausage rolls, straight from the oven: still too hot to eat for a few minutes, but oooohhhh so good!



This power outage from earlier in the week is really causing problems for me: I had finally remembered to download some pictures from our camera this morning, only to discover I can't upload them to my work computer because it is still not functioning. And the power outage on Sunday that caused all this was fixed days ago. Aaaarrrrrgggg..... And there is nothing that I can do about it.


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

So I've added a blog roll

I've added a blog roll --- some of you I know, some of you I don't, and even the ones I know might not realize that I read their blogs. If you want to be removed, do let me know.


Fraught feeling

Feeling fraught now: dealing with technology breakdowns at work (how long can it take them to fix a power outage from Sunday night?????), which has left me with one fewer email account for now (but the missing one is my official one), and more importantly has left my students unable to use essential software (no access to the license manager).

And at least one of my students has been MIA for a few days (turns out he's ill, so that is a bit of a relief).

And at least one of my REU students is fraught too --- feeling like a fish out of water, uncertain how important a contribution they can make, etc. So I have to make that right.

But damn it, research is hard! It's supposed to be frustrating!


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Date night

How wonderful:-) A date for LOML, sushi for dinner, and when we return, we discover that our new babysitter has put the children to bed (in spite of having been told that she didn't have to do so if it were at all difficult!) So we get the rest of the evening to ourselves. How nice!

And the sushi was great, as always.


Sushi tonight

Well, tonight LOML and I have a babysitter, and we get to go to dinner! And where we live, that means one thing --- the superb japanese restaurant ten miles away. And that means sushi! And gari! And wasabi! And steamed gyoza! Mmmmm..... I can hardly wait:-) Is it dinner time yet? What, only lunchtime?????


Monday, June 4, 2007

Sleeping sprogs, at last

One of those nights in which it took forever for the sprogs to go to sleep. Boo wanted reading to, and Skibo wanted us not to read to her --- making for the standard standoffs. Finally, between LOML and me, it took us well under two hours to get them to sleep. On my part, at least three books, two songs and half a dozen poems. More still on LOML's part.
Pretty soon I think that we are going to have to write off the afternoon naps --- they always make the early evening more pleasant (as well as the fact that we old farts need them in the afternoon too!) but the bedtimes are terrible.


Braised ribs

Better than bruised ribs any day (and believe me, I've experienced both!)

Braised ribs

2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup grapefruit juice
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons mustard powder
couple of tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
several cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
several inches of ginger root, coarsely chopped

In a large saucepan, reduce the marinade by half. Strain, and allow to cool. Pour over country style ribs (or chicken pieces, or...) Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The marinade will be enough for several pounds of meat.

Cook for half an hour at 350 F, then reduce heat to 275 and cook for 3 hours
or so. Meat will be falling apart. Remove meat from the sauce, and reduce the sauce further until it is a syrupy consistency. Pour over the meat and serve.


Sharp knives

Sharp knives make all the difference in the kitchen, at least for me. Our knives hadn't been sharpened since December (possibly earlier) and were really showing it --- so on Sunday I took an hour or so and sharpened most of them. I use an edge pro apex kit: my parents gave it to us as a wedding gift, and at the time LOML was not convinced that it was such a great thing to ask for. Now, she loves the fact that we have sharp knives all the time:-)


Sunday, June 3, 2007

How to remember... what... huh?

The trouble with weekend blogging, as opposed to snatching a few minutes during the weekday, is that there are even more interruptions at home --- usually of the "Daddy, can you..." variety. Not that I mind them: I relish them -- but I do wish that there were some way that a minute later I could recall exactly what my brilliant thought for a post had been....


Scary moments

... like when a small child decides to cut a slice of bread. With a sharp knife. Without adult supervision.

And then the relief later, when there is no serious damage done....


Saturday, June 2, 2007

Never trust a skinny chef, and other stories

At dinner tonight, over slices of chocolate roulade (stuffed with sliced strawberries) the question was raised --- So, N., how come you make all these desserts, and yet you don't eat them yourself? Well, I gave the old explanation, that somehow I just sort of gave up on eating them mtpy-three years ago by accident rather than by design, and now I just don't want them more than once or twice a year.

Not that anyone would mistake me for a skinny chef any day!


Amazon sales rankings

Wheeeeeee! Yesterday my book was in the top million (in fact, top half-million, but it doesn't scan so well) and today --- Sales Rank: #57,931 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)

Let's just say, it is thrilling! Even if the royalties I'll make, plus a buck, will get me a latte, if the barrista is in a generous mood about the extra $1.85.


Friday, June 1, 2007

Food for the weekend

What to cook for the weekend? We've been invited for dinner Saturday, and will take the remnants of the gilded-lily roulade (which inspired comments such as "did you see how much ganache there is on top of that thing?") Our neighbours are coming over on Sunday (a chance to say goodbye before they leave for Germany for a couple of months): cheesecakes may be in their dessert-futures: as for savouries,
perhaps a braised spare rib or two: slow braised in a good vinegar, mustard, etc marinade.

On the topic of cheesecakes, if you are ever in Woodstock, New Brunswick (Canada) stop by the restaurant Fusion. It is a far better restaurant than a town of a few thousand people has any right to expect. Wonderful food, wonderful service, and reasonable prices. Great decor, long hours, friendly staff. What's not to like! And the cheesecakes are amazing!


Government agencies can stop one from flying

In all the discussion of the TB scare, it has been pointed out that some government agencies can put people on a no-fly list.
I've been informed that I've been placed on such a list by the Agency for Faith Based Iniatives. Apparently they discovered that I was unwilling to name Jesus as my co-pilot.


Standing on the outside, looking in

12 years or so ago: my nose pressed against the window, watching the joy and laughter inside, knowing that they are willing and happy to include me in their life. I've stepped outside for a cigarette, and am feeling outside in more ways than one. Even as I read it with today's jaundiced eye, and recognize it for the soppiness it is, it recalls the feeling.


Standing on the outside
Looking in
Smoking a cigarette
While Mummy and Daddy
Take the children up to bed
Peering at the chimney
Looking for the smoke
That says there's a roaring fire inside.

Feeling childlike
This Christmas
Like Tiny Tim

This self imposed exile reminds me
As I press my face to the glass, that
No matter how much
They have chosen me
As family
And I them
I am still
Standing on the outside
Looking in.

#Written in at F&F's place, a couple of
#days after Christmas, 1994.

Last night, LOML and I went to a party down the street: we even had a babysitter to watch Boo and Skibo. What a perfect setup for a nice evening, you might think. And so it should have been, but for some reason I ended up feeling like the outsider again. At least partly it was brought on by having to drive the babysitter home afterwards, hence avoid the beer, wine and most especially the Pimm's. And resenting the fact that everyone seemed to be rubbing in the fact that I was able to drink only straight tonic water. No gin allowed.

To top it off, the sprogs were unwilling to go to sleep easily, and it was a full hour after returning from taking the babysitter home that they finally dropped off.

Oh well. Such are the bad days. For the good days, here is how to enjoy Pimms:

Sliced strawberries
Sliced oranges, lemons, limes
Mint sprigs
Thinly sliced cucumber (English/hothouse style please, not US)
Pimm's No 1
Your choice of ginger beer/ginger ale/7 up (lemonade to the brits)

Combine ingredients in suitable ratios in a pitcher. Stir. Pour. Drink. Suitable quantities might for example be 1 of Pimm's to 2-3 of mixer. For an especially sunny day, when consuming large quantities of alcohol might be dangerous, the following is an alternative:
a) drink three large glasses of water
b) replace the sodas in the recipe with champagne/sparkling wine
c) alternate glasses of Pimm's Royale with three glasses of water to avoid dehydration:-)