Monday, December 31, 2007

May you all have a wonderful New Year

The western New Year, that is.

Tonight, we head down the street to a New Year's Eve party: the second annual such gala at this home: last year was such a success that I suggested that they make it an annual thing, and for some reason they took me at my word! Which is great -- they have a lovely old house, huge back and front yards, they cook well (for vegetarians!) and most of all are lovely people. So here's a toast to P and A!

We are already making plans for next New Year (the Chinese New Year, that is). In an attempt to make sure that Boo and Skibo don't grow up closed minded, we are trying to make other cultures fun: and so we will cook longevity noodles, hot and sour soup, and steamed pork buns in February. And wear red!

Yours, pre-resolutions,

Spinning his wheels

Boo and Skibo love to ride their bicycles (stabilizer wheels attached, of course) round the sidewalks when LOML and I are walking Monty. And like most stabilizer wheels, they are adjusted so that you can't have both stabilizers on the ground at the same time: the wheel of the bike is in the way.
However, when you ride through puddles, as Skibo is wont to do, if the puddle is small enough, and deep enough, and you are going slowly enough, you can find yourself stuck: the stabilizers on either side of the puddle, and the middle wheel, hundredths of an inch above the ground, spinning helplessly, while poor Skibo's legs pump harder and harder, trying to gain traction.....

Yours, pumping this one for all it's worth,

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Since we are in ridiculously warm weather

we made ice cream yesterday.
Actually, the weather is not that warm, but Boo had asked for an ice-cream maker for Christmas. Santa in his infinite wisdom had realised that Mummy and Daddy already had an ice-cream maker (two, in fact: one an electric model, the other named Breadbox) and so brought her a book of ice-cream recipes instead. Funnily enough, it looked just like the book Mummy and Daddy already had, the one that went missing sometime on Christmas Eve.....
So Boo and Skibo and I made mint chocolate chip ice-cream yesterday: my first foray into a custard based ice-cream, which made for lots of fun, more work, and a nice smooth creamy rich texture. We used a mix of a bit of green creme de menthe and peppermint essence, so that the ice-cream would have a nice green tinge.
Delicious, if we do say so ourselves!

Yours, shivering,

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Lady Godiva

I have to introduce Boo to the story of Lady Godiva, I think: one of the presents that Santa brought her was a horse and rider: and she has played with them quite a bit: but one of the first things that she did was to remove all the rider's clothes.

Yours, exposing the truth,

Friday, December 28, 2007

Midnight bread

The bread was good.
The camera was full, so I took no photographs.
I am full, as are LOML, Boo and Skibo, so there will be no photographs.
I am making more bread.

Yours, rising,

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Baking at midnight

So today I decided to whip up a slow batch of bread: using some old dough as a starter, and giving it a really slow rise. I made it a nice loose dough so it should develop some nice texture, a nice open structure.

Only problem was that it thus developed really really slowly. And combining that with the fact we went for a good long walk this afternoon, so I shaped it a couple of hours later than I intended, I've ended up just putting it into the oven a few minutes ago!

Oh well, at least it is the holidays, so I don't have to get up early tomorrow morning. And I'd probably have stayed up to watch the political discussions of this morning's new anyway.

Yours, crustily,

Crisis Point

Awful, terrible news from Pakistan.

My impression is that this leaves a rather large vacuum: I wonder whether Sharif and Khan will be able to rally Bhutto's supporters to either of them, and what it all means for the upcoming election there. Of course, the US news shows seem all to be ignoring Imran Khan as a politician, unaware of who he is, and how he has transformed himself from merely a revered cricket player.

Yours, very worried by this crisis.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day

In England, or so I was told when I was younger, it used to be the tradition for households to give "Christmas boxes", small token gifts, perhaps monetary, to household staff the day after everyone else had celebrated Christmas, and hence "Boxing Day". Back where-used-to-be-home, this is a big deal, especially now, with sales that used to start on New Year's Day starting now almost a week earlier.
Here in the US, it is an unknown term of art, but the modern traditions of the day are the same: visit people: recover from the orgy of consumption and eating by another orgy of buying and eating: watch sports, and sit watching movies.

We watched "The Sword in the Stone" with Boo and Skibo --- neither LOML nor I had seen it all the way through, and all four of us enjoyed it tremendously. LOML and I especially enjoyed the reaction of Boo and Skibo to some of the comedy-terror scenes, such as the fight with the perch (which I thought looked like a pike), and the magic duel with Mim. Both children came close to falling off their chairs in giggles and gales at the antics:-)

Tomorrow may be Dumbo, and at some point, I hope to get them to watch the Princess Bride past the shrieking eels scene! I may need to do some judicious fast-forwarding:-)

Yours, entranced,

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The gingerbread house is gone

Well, not completely. In fact, it is only missing a significant portion of the roof and one wall, but it looks like a wrecking ball hit it.
This is, of course exactly what happened: except that the wrecking ball was shaped like five children between three and six years old:-)

Yours, still standing, just,

A merry Christmas to all

and to each of you, may the new year be the best yet! Oh, and world peace too!

Yours, wishing,

Monday, December 24, 2007

Changing traditions

Fifty years ago tomorrow, the Queen (of England etc.) changed a tradition. She broadcast the Christmas Day speech on television. This week it was announced that she is changing another tradition: she is putting the Queen's Speech on youtube, essentially live. Of much more interest in the long term, she is also going to make hundreds, thousands perhaps of videos available to the public, including very early film of Queen Alexandra from ninety years or so ago.

In related news, as in the past few years, interested small children can ask their parents to help them track Santa's progress via NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command), who have a web site showing exactly where he is at each instant.

Yours, as ever in a changing world,

Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

As regular visitors to the Breadbox know, we are not a religious family: we are not militant in atheism, merely unconvinced by any one of the many religions we see people practicing around the world.
LOML and I both grew up in England, however, which means that, going to state-run schools, we were exposed to daily hymns, prayers, etc in the school assemblies, and we sang in school choirs for Christmas concerts, played in orchestras for these events, etc.
I always love this time of the year: and not for the presents, or the endless "Silver Bells" and "White Christmas" (or heaven forfend "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer") on the radio: no, I love it for the traditional aspects: the tree, with handmade decorations (some, not all!), the feast, and most of all, the ceremonial aspects.
Probably my favourite ceremony is the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from Kings College, Cambridge, which we listened to this morning on the radio as we were baking cookies. Such beautiful, great soaring music! And the readings, redolent with history and tradition, in the language I heard them in as a child: post-Elizabethan (Stuart and Jacobian just don't sound quite right) English.
I can see how seductive this ceremony itself can be. At times like this, I could believe that I could want to believe.

But for now, our family's belief, publicly stated, at least around the sprogs, is that Santa brings the presents to good little girls and boys tonight!

Yours, steeped,

Sunday, December 23, 2007

On putting two and two together

I was struck today by the phrase "putting two and two together": Boo is quite capable of doing this: we work on her counting skills all the time, and she can add one digit numbers quite consistently well.
But she hasn't put two and two together where Santa is concerned. And in contemplating that, I realised that the skills required to deduce something (say the likely non-existence of Santa) are rather more sophisticate than adding two and two together. Perhaps we should consider a rather more sophisticated phrase than "putting two and two together" to describe the process...

Yours, musing,

Poor Skibo

Last night he spent the best (or rather the worst) part of the night coughing and coughing and coughing. From the sound of the cough, it is similar to the one that I have --- which is good, rather than bad --- it is a somewhat ticklish, very annoying, but not particularly painful cough. However, at 3 he's not really able to describe symptoms properly: especially when he's just been woken from a deep sleep by the cough.

Unfortunately, he refuses adamantly to take any medication, even warm raspberry tea with honey, which he actually likes. Add to that the fact that the available cough medicines for three year olds has recently been decimated by the FDA (for younger, its now verboten, for three and up it is strongly disapproved of giving them cough medicine), so we are worried about giving him medicine anyway, and we are in a poor-Skibo-pickle.

We grownups have it easy: we can be persuaded to take medicine, or understand the consequences if we don't. It's much harder on a three year old.

Yours, in sympathy,

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Lessons learned

After constructing the gingerbread house, we learned some lessons.

The construction materials:
- make the gingerbread thinner than a 1/4 inch before baking
- use less baking powder in the mixture
- give the royal icing a really good long time in the mixer: it will achieve a better consistency

The design:
- The roof pieces were originally one inch longer than the front and back panels of the house --- they could easily be an inch longer still. They were okay as they are, but they'd be better with a little longer overlap.
- It would be good to cut off a small corner at the bottom of the back panel for a wire to run through, so the string of lights is easier to install.

The fun:
- This was fun! I suspect that as the kids get bigger, the houses will get more and more interesting --- and as LOML and I learn more about making them, we'll get more adventurous!

Yours, in retrospect,

Pictures: decoration

The decorations were glued on with yet more royal icing: we also spread royal icing over the foil covered cutting board, to make a fresh snowfall. The things which look like chocolate drops covered in non-pareil are precisely that (homemade, of course!)

Yours, decorously,

Pictures: the construction

Once we had the pieces constructed, we let them harden for several hours, covered, and then made some royal icing to use as cement. We put the walls up, inserted a string of christmas lights, and let the cement harden. Then we put the roof on, let it all harden, and then started to decorate with sweets.

Yours, under construction,

Pictures: baking

Some pictures of the baking process: a side wall before baking, and an end wall after baking. The window is created by crushing hard candies (boiled sweets) into the hole: as the gingerbread bakes, the sugar melts, creating the window pane.

Yours, in the heat of the moment,

Friday, December 21, 2007


The following are the jpg's that I created from the templates. I can produce pdf versions too I suspect (I haven't yet --- that will probably wait until next year): they are also incredibly easy to draw by hand with a ruler. I've written dimensions on them: the jpgs may or may not be to scale.

The first image is the roof (make two pieces): the second is for the front and back wall --- cut out the windows, and mark the position of the door. The third is the side walls: cut out the windows.

We used the cutouts from the windows, cut in half, and moulded gently with the back of a knife, to make shutters for the windows: we glued these on after baking.

Yours, constructively,

Gingerbread redux

Two days ago we made the dough
Yesterday we baked it
Today we built the house with royal icing
as the mortar.
Pictures have been taken
but not uploaded yet.

Next, we need to decorate it,
Hansel and Gretel style
with candy canes
and chocolate drops
and hundreds and thousands
of non-pareils.

Yours, decorously,

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Proceeding gingerly

An update on the gingerbread. Yesterday we made the dough. Today we rolled out the dough, cut the shapes, crushed hard candies (boiled sweets, that is) and placed then in the window holes, baked the pieces, and set them aside to cool.

Tomorrow morning, we will try the royal road to glue: royal icing to stick it all together. And then the decorations: the candy canes, and jelly beans, and chocolates, etc... That is where the sprogs will no doubt come into their own!

And now, a word to all those eagerly awaiting pictures: LOML is not a professional baker, and neither am I (although I am pretty competent with real bread). And while I can guarantee that the gingerbread will taste good, I am not sure how the finished product will look. So please, don't expect perfection, or anything close to it! We are doing this for the enjoyment of the children, and they are enjoying it fine.
Can you guess that last night I saw a show on professionals making gingerbread houses? And found it just a little intimidating?

Still, I have some hope that the house will look like a house, and if it works, I will
happily post the templates that I've made up (I did the one we used by hand, but spent a few minutes doing it on the computer this evening so if it works we can redo it next year!) together with the recipe for the dough itself.

Yours, amateurishly,

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Of the non-bread variety that is... we are making a gingerbread house this year, for the first time ever. We've made lots of gingerbread men, women, trees and other beasts and plants in the past, so this is not such a stretch --- but the sprogs are old enough now to get excited about it, so this morning I sat down and sketched a house, figured out the dimensions, this afternoon LOML made the dough, and tomorrow we bake and build.

Quite exciting, really --- our first ever attempt at architecture from scratch. And I found a nice application of a 3-4-5 triangle too, to boot!

Pictures might or might not be forthcoming.....

Yours, gingerly,

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holiday concert

We went to see the school holiday concert this evening: unlike last year, both children were participating, which was nice. They both did a fantastic job, especially of paying attention to the teachers. Skibo is particularly enthusiastic in his gestures (and considering that his new khaki slacks --- when did khaki start coming in black??? --- were read to slip off his hips at any moment, this was extremely daring!) leading LOML to suggest that he may have a career in the theatre ahead of him:-)
Boo had a lovely swing to her as she sang: swaying beautifully in time with the music, in a very professional-singer-looking way. She also has superb diction, and a lovely sense of pitch: I do hope she continues to enjoy singing and gets good at it --- not for a career, or anything: just so that she can be a great singer and enjoy it.

This morning, while I was dropping the little ones at school, Skibo's teacher thanked me for the brioche au chocolat, and said that she wished I'd make her bread. I pointed to the bag in my hand, and explained that Boo was taking bread in for her sharing day in class, and when Skibo next shared, he could take some too.
I realised when I got home that I had two loaves rising, and so baked them a little sooner and a little faster than I usually would, and took one back with me for her. I think that it really made her day!

Yours, in the Christmas mood,

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas is a process, not a day....

It lasts for weeks. Today we had Boo and Skibo's Auntie E (not a blood relation, and all the more an auntie as a result) for dinner: she leaves for the west coast on Wednesday, and this was our Christmas dinner with her. At her request, we had hot and sour soup with steamed pork buns --- given that she's going to the land of real oriental cuisine (as far as the US is concerned, anyway) I take this as a tremendous compliment!
I also made brioche au chocolat yesterday/this morning to give to Boo and Skibo's teachers, and then was informed at lunch that tomorrow is Boo's sharing day -- and she would like to share my bread. So right now, I have a couple of somewhat-bigger-than-batards rising, which should finish baking before midnight or so, so she can take them in the morning.
And tomorrow evening, Boo and Skibo get to sing in their school's annual holiday concert. Which we will enjoy beyond belief, but still --- it is all go at the moment.

Yours, wondering when we get to this "holiday" of which you speak,

Sunday, December 16, 2007

From Thanksgiving (C) to Thanksgiving (US)

From Thanksgiving (C) to Thanksgiving (US), to pre-Christmas parade organization, to Christmas parade party: and now on to Christmas. As I noted a couple of days ago, because so many friends are going away for an extended period over Christmas, we are having a celebration lasting almost two weeks: but the day itself will be the climactic event.
So far we are up to a likely 14 people (including us) eating together. This of course rules out our beloved standing rib roast --- a standing rib big enough for one vegetarian is easy: for the remaining 13 it becomes prohibitively expensive. So we will probably put two turkeys or a turkey and a ham into the stove. Or perhaps just one absolutely huge turkey. I've never cooked one of those, so it would be an interesting experiment!

Along the way, I've been making occasional batches of food to take to our friends: he has had a couple of stroke-type seizures, and they need lots of help. As I do this, I am doubly gratified --- that we have good health, and that others are grateful. And I loved their reaction to the turkey soup we took over after Thankgiving(US): they asked LOML "Do you guys eat like this every night????" Admittedly, that soup was quite good. In the English usage, where "quite" is a positive, rather than a negative modifier. Since they have to travel for more treatments this week, we are sending some chicken soup over: it can be frozen tonight, and hence will travel well in a cooler, and can be eaten in a day or two.

Yours, trying always to help at least in a little way,

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Please, don't be sad for us

We will be sad enough --- but at the same time, we are happy for the nearly twelve years of joy she brought us: the walks and runs and romps in forests, the barking at strange noises, the fact that she wouldn't bark at all for the first year we had her (until we lived near a train track, and she barked at the trains --- then she never stopped!)

We have a hundred thousand memories to keep us happy. Please, share our brief grief, but share too our joy:-)


On saying "Goodbye"

I never had pets as a child: and so I never learned about saying goodbye. Boo and Skibo have had to learn three times this year.
The first time was in the spring: we were away, and the people who were renting our house and looking after our pets phoned to say that our youngest cat had been run over.
This summer, our old golden retriever (we didn't know how old exactly, but perhaps thirteen or so) reached the end. And then today, our old, old sheltie, probably nearly seventeen years old, who LOML found walking by the side of a very busy, four lane highway almost twelve years ago, was unable to stand: she just lay there on her side, legs straight out, breathing at twice the normal rate. When we tried to help her stand, her legs would keep going out from under her.

We've known for some time now that we would have to say good bye to her, probably this year, and most likely before Christmas. And while our immediate reaction is one of sadness, and pain, and loss, in trying to explain to Boo that she might have to say goodbye today, I realised that we get two great gifts from pets: one is the company and comfort and friendship (and exercise) that they give us: and the other is the opportunity, often, to understand how important it is to say goodbye to a loved one, and more importantly, how important it is to tell your loved ones every day how much you love them

She went gently, and softly, this morning, with LOML there with her.

So, to my two dear old dogs I've said goodbye to this year,
Yours, in love and gratitude,

Friday, December 14, 2007

Crazy behaviour

and I'm not the ones telling them this!

We had friends for dinner this evening: they asked if we would cook so that they could finish packing: they wanted to be able to leave here, walk home, and then start driving across the country. Literally. We are a few hundred miles from the Atlantic, and they are spending Christmas with his family, on the Pacific.
He asked us, halfway through dinner, "Am I crazy, or just stupid?" Driving at night, with a three and a four year old, there was no possible answer except "Both".

Yours, wishing them luck,

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Movie nights

Once or twice a week we try to set aside the evening for a movie night with Boo and Skibo: tonight we decided to try The Polar Express: I had seen the movie several times last year when it came out on television, and had loved it: so we bought a copy of the dvd a few weeks ago.
I had a few concerns, both because it suggests the existence of doubt, and at the moment neither Boo nor Skibo are in any doubt at all; and also because it has some, shall we say exciting, moments. Nothing really scary to an adult, but to small children??

Well, the scary parts were seen as scary by both, especially Boo --- but sitting on Mummy and Daddy's laps at various times helped ease the fears --- and the fact that I had seen it, and could provide reassurance that everything would be alright helped too. As to the doubt, it didn't seem to register the way I had feared it might.

And again, I am left stunned by the imagination and beauty of the animation: it is absolutely amazingly realistic: you can really see that the conductor is Tom Hanks!
The animated characters really seem to act.

Yours, expressing myself,

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Festival of Lights

Yesterday we had friends over to celebrate the last night of Hanukkah: we whipped up potato latkes and pot-roasted brisket, exchanged gifts, drank some extremely nice wine, and enjoyed many laughs.
One of the nicest aspects of the whole thing was the mix of people: a Buddhist, a Baptist and a Jew, gathering in a non-believing home. And the fact that the son of the Buddhist and the Jew is playing one of the wise men in his (Presbyterian) preschool's pageant this weekend:-)

It was especially nice to share a feast day with these people, since they will be out of town in two weeks --- and would otherwise have shared our Christmas meal with us.

Yours, terribly fond of good food and good wine, but much fonder still of good friends,

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Linguistic development

The Chinese have an old curse, I am told:
"May you live in interesting times".
It is, in the Chinese-cursive meaning, occasionally interesting being a parent. When Boo was born, she was almost born speaking: at 15 months she had an amazing vocabulary: well over 200 words, which was way past the norm of 10-15 that the paediatrician suggested would be usual.
Skibo, on the other hand, took a more circuitous route to speech. At one point, I worried that perhaps at 200 months he might have a 15 word vocabulary. But then, at about 2 or so, he started to talk a bit more, and by 3 he had pretty much caught on to the joys of speech (as in, "LOML, did we really wish that he would start talking?"). But his diction was still difficult, and while we could understand him, it definitely took practice. Today, he made a huge leap. He developed an "r" sound. He came up to me at lunchtime, and said "Can we make brrrrrrrrrread today, please?"

What a lovely sound:-) For today!

Yours, utterly trilled by this development,

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Cuban missile crisis, decades on

I am the last to defend republicans, in general. And in particular, this time, I will not defend Dana Perino, who didn't know her history when asked to compare the Cuban missile crisis to Bush policy on missile defense: I expect people who are employed by the White House to be the best of their bunch, to have an historical perspective better than mine. Still, she was only seven at the time. And she got away with her response: or at least, I don't recall it being news at the time.

But I have absolutely no sympathy for her today: she did, after all, discuss this in public, on the radio program "Wait wait, don't tell me" this weekend. It's bad enough to have that lack of historical perspective to begin with, let alone to admit it obliquely to reporters. But to admit it to an overtly anti-administration-biased comedy-news-quiz program shows immense stupidity!

Your, incredulous,

A sick, political, joke.... please don't read

With all the news of waterboarding, deleted tapes, etc....

One might say that under a previous head of the CIA, winning a war in Iraq was seen as a "slam dunk", whereas interrogation was seen more as "Islam dunk".

Yours, disgusted by the government here,

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The party's over now....

and I can't remember a better party that we've thrown.
We must have had close to 150 people here at one point or another: and I think that all of them but one had a wonderful time. Much was eaten, the eggnog all went, and the parade was a success, as always (although there were occcasional murmurings of "is that all there is", early on, in response to inordinately long gaps between floats!)

But as with all parties we throw, LOML has muttered --- "that's the last party we throw"... until time heals all wounds, and the effort is forgotten by time:-)

Yours, partied out,

Saturday, December 8, 2007

It'll be seventy six degrees for the big parade

It'll be seventy six degrees for the big parade
And feel like eighty three in the shade
And the heat will melt the cookies and ruin all the stuff
That LOML and I have patiently made

'Cause although Christmas comes in a fortnight's time
And we might dream for snow on the ground
Global warming's here so the snow is nowhere near
And the icicles are nowhere to be found.

Seriously. Seventy six degrees. That's like twenty five in real degrees!
Hot summer's day in the UK, a few years ago. And it is December.

Yours, with apologies to 1950's musicals,

Vol au vents

or in English, "full of wind" --- are little puff pastry shells, filled typically with a savoury filling, and eaten warm as a canape or hors d'oeuvre. Growing up in the sixenventies, I remember them being one of the better party foods, and in the UK they were really easy to make --- buy the shells, and fill them.
Here, it's a little more difficult: Pepperidge farm does sell shells, but they are much larger (six to a pack) than the ones I made --- from about the same amount of puff pastry, I made 20 shells, so they are about one third of the size of the commercial ones. Unfold the pastry, and with an inch and a half scalloped pastry-or-scone-or-cookie cutter (the sharper the edge the better!) cut out 40 rounds. Now, with a one inch cutter, cut out the middles of half the rounds. Brush the uncut rounds with water, place the cut rounds (middles and all) on top, and bake for 15 minutes or so in a preheated 400 F oven, until fully puffed and golden in colour.
After they come out of the oven, let them cool for a few minutes, remove the middle top (the bit that was cut out and replaced earlier). Fill with a creamy chicken or mushroom sauce.

For the filling, I sauted some diced onion, celery and carrots, and some minced garlic until they started to caramelize: I added this to a pot with some chicken breasts and thighs and a lot of water, some thyme, peppercorns and bay, and brought it to a boil, reduced to a simmer, and simmered about an hour: took the meat off the bones, replaced the bones in the liquid and simmered another several hours. I strained the stock and reduced it to a cup or so of liquid. I diced some more carrots, celery and onions, sauted them, and added them to the reduced stock, and simmered for a half an hour. I shredded the chicken, added to the mix, and also added half a cup of heavy cream.

The whole mixture should be very moist, but not as liquid as a stew. Spoon about a tablespoonful of the mix into each shell, replace its hat, and serve. You can do almost everything ahead of time: cut the shells out days ahead and refreeze, bake an hour or two before serving: the filling can be made a day or two ahead: just add the cream at the last minute, and don't fill more than half an hour or so ahead of serving them. They are good hot or warm, but you don't want them to get cold.

Eat with your fingers, but have a napkin ready, to dry the fingers after you lick them clean:-)

Yours, full of it,

Friday, December 7, 2007

Menu for Sunday

A partial list of what we're having ----

Chocolate roulade
Sausage rolls
Vol au vents
Huge list of assorted varieties of (home-made) cookies
Brioche au chocolat

Whatever the co-hosts are bringing/buying from the mega-marts.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

We humbly beg your apologies

Yes, I know what the heading says. Yes, I know what it means.

Seen this morning in my local cafe:

We humbly beg your apologies.
We are out of white chocolate sauce
until Friday afternoon
and are unable to make the following drinks
[list of drinks omitted]

I hesitated. I ummed and erred. Should I say something? Get snarky at them, asking me to apologize? Should I unleash my inner English teacher?

I decided to be gentle. I tried to point out to the manager (who was also the cashier at that moment) that there was a problem with the sign. Unfortunately, she missed the point, failing completely to see that there was a problem of meaning, not of grammar here. Oh well, perhaps a better inner English teacher will come along later and help her see.

Yours, resisting the snark,

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Memories in a box

In a fit of cleaning before our upcoming party, LOML handed me a box, and said "Deal with it". It's a box of memories, and old papers, and stuff. A few memories, a lot of junk, and tons of stuff.
Anyway, I came across a small pile of pieces of paper, Blu Tack still attached, which had adorned my walls as an undergraduate long ago. Sayings, some of which may have been original to me --- others I may have adopted: nearer graffiti than wisdom, some of them still strike a small, quiet chord. My favourite?
Ignorance is bliss. Please ignore me.

(For the uninitiated, Blu Tack is a wonderful, slightly sticky putty-like substance, great for sticking posters to the wall without leaving too much of an oily residue later on when it is removed. It also makes for a great tension reliever for worriers: a friend of mine used to never be seen without a fist-sized wadge of it to worry over....)

Yours, reliving the past,

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Old friends in town

Our friend Dan was in town this week --- he called yesterday to see if we were in, and when Skibo heard that he was coming round, he immediately uttered the immortal words "Uncle Danny doesn't wear shoes!"
Sure enough, ten minutes later, in he walks, sans sabots, to hoots of laughter all around:-)

He came around again this evening for dinner --- a pleasant time, but it is a shame when close friends move away, and somehow the conversations just are a bit more forced and unnatural when they return.

Yours, in friendship,

Monday, December 3, 2007

Trimming, revisited

I intend to prove that I am not one to stand uncorrected. Which is to say, I was wrong. Quite wrong!

Trimming, from the online dictionary of etymology: "neaten by cutting" dates to 1530, whereas "to decorate, to adorn" is from 1547. So much for my assumption that it was a neologism, a vulgar americanism!

Yours, in error, but corrected,

Sunday, December 2, 2007

We've reached the "I want's"

Sitting with children on my lap, discussing what they want for Christmas, leafing through a catalogue (so that grandparents can order online exactly what they want), both children reached a milestone. Simultaneously.

They can both want more than 50% of all the things in the catalogue --- on many pages, point at every thing there, and say "I want this, I want that, I want,...."

We're thinking about getting them just a couple of gifts. Somehow, I think that there may be a little disappointment in their future! I'd better hide the catalogues soon....

Yours in avarice,

Trimming the tree

I wonder, etymologically speaking, why Americans tend to refer to "trimming" a Christmas tree, rather than "decorating" it. And likewise, serving a Christmas dinner of turkey, with all the "trimmings". Yet the "trimmings served with a turkey bear very little resemblance to the bits trimmed off the turkey (nor indeed to the bits trimmed off the tree!)

LOML and I trimmed the tree on Friday night, taking a good inch or so off the end of the trunk, and a few branches as well, so that the tree will sit nicely in the stand. We decorated it this morning and this afternoon. Pictures may follow at some time.

I'm particularly proud of the origami angel (strictly speaking, not really origami, since it is folded from three squares of paper and is assisted in its structural integrity by the judicious placement of some sticky tape!) which is placed at the top of the tree --- it is my own design, from when I was about 10, and I still think that it holds up well. This particular one I made perhaps 15 or so years ago.

Yours, in-creasingly proud,

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Today I went to lunch with some people, just out to a local pub-and-grille(sic) near work --- and somewhat surprised to hear the waitress refer to one of the females in the group as "Babe". She did this several times, and it struck me as a very strange thing.
Mind you, it struck me as just as strange when she referred to one of the males present the same way --- "Babe": I am assuming that the only reason she didn't refer to me that way is that I am older than dirt. Well, young dirt, anyway.

Yours, un-babe-like,

Another month...

most likely, all Christmas, all the time..... at least if the TV and radio are anything to go by.

Having promised not to promise to post every day during November, I can see that I kept my promise.

Yours, retrospectively diurnally, at least,