Sunday, August 31, 2008

Beach food

One of the things that I made at the beach was cinnamon buns. And I failed to get a photo of them. Fortunately our friends did take some pictures, which they just sent to us. I took a copy down the street to show our baker: he was impressed --- and almost offered me a job on the strength of the photos.

I've not yet scanned the photo in. I'll post it when I have.

I'm not going to work with him --- my time is too stretched as it is --- but I do intend to go and spend some time in his bakery, learning from the master...

Yours, chuffed,


At our visit to the serpentarium, we also saw a few things other than snakes and gators, the main attractions.
One in particular was this fine furry fellow. Absolutely huge.

Yours, putting him on the web,

Boo's picture of the vacation

A combination of stickers and paint. Quite lovely, I think.

Yours, not at all crabbily,

Saturday, August 30, 2008


I'd rather blog about lighter things. Really, I would. Bread, or rediscovering colleagues I haven't seen in 5 or 10 years. But I can't. Not when I'm spending my whole time reading political stuff. And especially when I read things like this, this, this and this.
Note for those unfamiliar with US geography (and for some foreign readers too): St Paul is a "twin city" with Minneapolis: so police raiding homes there might signify worries about the safety of the republican convention. On the other hand, being detained for asking to see a warrant is beyond the realm of most people's expectation.

Updated: what I'm reading here suggests that there is not a lot of exaggeration going on....

Yours, hoping this is exaggerated, and that we are not this much of a police state,


As mayor of a town around the same size as mine, Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin managed to rack up a large amount of debt -- at least partly, it seems, by not buying land early in a construction process, but instead encouraging a company to buy it, and then leasing: only to discover that the town couldn't do that, had to buy the land, and in the process, ended up paying out a huge amount extra.
Anyway, the debt is apparently on the order of $3000 per capita: a figure that even puts Geo. W. Bush to shame! A true conservative!

Yours, unimpressed by her,

Wholly Cow!

Holy Crap, that is!

An appeals court has found that a the federal government can prohibit a small meat packer company from testing all of its cows for BSE, that is, for Mad Cow disease. Apparently the government would want to do this because they've been lobbied by larger companies which don't want to have to compete with a small company advertising "we test all our cows instead of just a tiny fraction of them".
Now, the fact that the US government should try to get away with such a regulation doesn't surprise me: it depresses me, but in the current pro-megacorps environment that the republicans have created (with the compliance it must be said, at times, of democrats as well) it doesn't surprise me.
But the courts are supposed to be independent, and I didn't really realise how stacked they had been with the "good for big bidness means good for everyone" cronies.

Yours, mad as a cow,

Friday, August 29, 2008

From the McCain website highlighted this earlier. It seems that the'y'v'e co'rrec't'ed the pic'ture n'ow: I won'der if th'eyv'e also reprinted all the p'ens t'oo!



As you can perhaps tell from my rather brief post yesterday (both its content and its length) I was rather absorbed in the Democratic National Convention yesterday. In fact, I've been absorbed all week. I thought, rather than blogging on about it every day, however, that I would try to let my thoughts coalesce after it was all over.
So, here goes:
- Michelle Obama had a hard task. She had to start the humanization process for her husband, who has been unfairly painted by McCain as an elitist. (That this comes from the son and grandson of admirals, who appears to have been given a prestigious flying career solely because of who his father and grandfather were, who married into millions, and has untold houses, is indeed rich). Her task was made harder, I think, for two reasons, both of which were that she followed Teddy Kennedy: he took all the emotion that evening, and also, his biographical video was full of elitist shots of him and his family on their sailboat. Despite this, I thought that Michelle Obama did a great job --- and their daughters are priceless and precious!
- Hillary Clinton's speech was first rate. She had to give Obama full throated support, and to tell her supporters why, if they support her, they have to vote for him. I think that she did this -- and assuming (as I expect she will) that she continues to stump for him like this, she'll be a tremendous asset to the campaign.
- Mark Warner. He sold cell phones. By me, he should go back to selling cell phones. He certainly didn't sell himself to me. Apparently he's great: but I didn't see it.
- Bill Clinton: the big dog is back. His speech was superb --- it perhaps overshadowed even Hillary's speech, and reminded those of us who didn't hate him why we miss him still. And the comparison between him and his successor in the White House is incredible (and it's not just veniality versus venality). I saw a sticker this morning that said "A candidate for president should have a three digit IQ" and thought back to last night.
- Joe Biden: I'm not yet sold on his merits: I thought his son did him a great service with the introduction: his wife does him great credit, and he has a wonderful, painful, biographical story. But just as with McCain, biography doesn't give an automatic ticket to the White House. I'm not sure on a few of his policies, though some folks whose opinions I regard seriously like him a lot. (Biden, I mean, not McCain!) We'll see.
- Al Gore. Winner, but for the courts, of the 2000 election, reminded us what we missed out on. I thought that this was the best speech I've ever seen him give: full of fire, vim and vigour: if he had managed to stump like that eight years ago, I don't think that Bush would have been close enough to shoehorn his way in.
- Obama: he clearly has the same sort of talent for speaking to people the way that Bill Clinton does: he doesn't seem to be reading a speech, but rather to be really feeling and living the words, not just saying them. But what I can't see is the perspective of the opponent here: just as I still can't understand, don't get, the republican view that Clinton was evil incarnate, I can't see Obama through the eyes of someone who considers McCain seriously and finds him presidential.
And that makes it hard for me to see whether Obama's speech is great, or merely very very good but preaching to the converted.

I may try to watch some of the convention next week --- and I might post my thoughts on their speakers too. But then again, I might not. As my mother always said, if you can't say something nice about someone....

Yours, nicely,

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A good line from Bill Richardson

"McCain pays hundreds of dollars for his shoes, but we're the ones who will pay for his flip-flops"

Yours, amused,

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A woman scorned

I appears to be not unlikely that Bush will be speaking to the Republican party convention on Monday evening. And at roughly the same time of day, New Orleans will experience a reprise of Katrina. Hopefully the intensity will be a little less, and the preparations a little better.
And perhaps this time the federal authorities can be better prepared to deal with things.

Yours, wishing for a storm in a teacup,

What a lotta bottle

One of the stranger, more interesting sights seen very near the beach. A "bottle tree".

Yours, wondering where this tradition came from,


The sunrises and sunsets most of the time we were at the beach were not as good as previous years --- there was too much cloud cover: but during the day we did get some rather nice skies.

Yours, through a glass, cloudy,

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I love this shot of Boo, standing in the water, watching the surf roll in.

Yours, serenely,

Skim low, sweet pelicans

Skimming low.

Yours, in awe,

Monday, August 25, 2008

Birthday pizza

I didn't manage to get a photo of the dessert pizza we did at the beach, it seems.
I prepared a batch of brioche dough, and froze it to take down to the beach: I thawed
it there, and baked it as a dessert pizza (see earlier posts for the Joke-inspired recipe).
But I still had half a batch of brioche dough left.
And our friends are cinnamon roll afficionados: so I stretched out the dough, rolled
it flat, put some butter on it, folded it, rolled it, folded it, rolled it, folded it, rolled it, folded it, rolled it, folded it and rolled it.
Then I brushed it with egg, sprinkled it liberally with cinnamon sugar and chopped pecans, rolled it up into a roll, chilled it, sliced it into one-inch slices, pressed into butter and sugar in a pan, baked until the butter/sugar became caramel, and the buns were baked.
Apparently delicious.

Oh, and if you have no rolling pin available, buy a bottle of wine, preferably claret-shaped, drink the wine (or decant it), wash, and it works at a pinch as a rolling pin! Who needs a fully equipped kitchen?

Yours, rollin', rollin', rollin',

Birthday cake

Skibo's birthday cake, and some beach bread. The little ones and I baked
the bread. As always, from scratch, by hand:-)

Yours, loving baking with children,

Sunday, August 24, 2008

In motion

A football player (as in American Football, using neither feet, nor round balls) in training? Unlikely. Skibo decided that he definitely didn't like being chased when he had the ball shortly after this photo was taken, and never handled the ball again.
I have to say, I can't say I'm too sorry! I'd rather he take up gymnastics, or rowing, or ballet, or some other non-contact sport!

Yours, in isolation,

Strange trees

We always stay on the same island when we go to the beach: at least, for the last three years we have gone to the same island, and intend to continue doing so: and on our first trip down there we saw a strange sight.
It turns out that this is a landmark, letting visitors know that they are only a few miles away from their destination. Each time we visit, it is festooned with different decorations. And for the children, it is becoming something to look out for, to know that we are almost there:-)

Yours, up a tree,

A little tomfoolery

For many years, decades, nearly demicenturies, I've listened to the "music" of Tom Lehrer: he gained some notoriety in the US as a performer on the show That Was The Week That Was, a satirical television revue about the news. But I grew up in the UK: and my parents had his earlier two albums, not the one with the material about politics and world events.
I listened to his songs long before I understood their meaning: quite how offensive or shocking the themes he was lampooning could be. Gradually I came to understand the subtexts better, and have loved the songs for a long long time.
In 1980, or perhaps early 1981, I persuaded a bunch of friends to trek to London to see the show Tomfoolery (as an aside, it was produced by Cameron Mackintosh, of Cats, Les Miserables, and Phantom of the Opera fame). We had a great time (theatre, followed by a late dinner, and a later train back to college) which we would repeat many times --- replacing theatre by other entertainment on occasion: for example, the reprise tour of Pink Floyd's The Wall.
Last night, harkening back to my college days, when I took a trip that harkened back to my childhood, LOML and I went with friends to see Tomfoolery performed by a local theatre company.
A lovely performance, some marvellous interpretations (The Hunting Song in particular was performed brilliantly by a cast member in camouflage, carrying a toy machine gun, complete with stereotypical southern accent). We had a great time.
My only problem with the show was that I had to mouth all the lyrics completely silently.

Yours (tom)fooling nobody,

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Searching for shells

Boo and Skibo, adding to their collections.

Yours, playing a shell game,

Friday, August 22, 2008

Gawking at the celebrities

The great white heron here appears to be paying as much attention to us as we are in return.

Yours, stretching it,

Skibo, practicing to be a celebrity

Anonymity, at four years old.

Yours, keeping him anonymous,

And richer still

Now we discover that McCain's budget for household staff --- presumably of the "below stairs" variety, is not particularly small. In fact, his budget for household staff (per year) is comparable to the median house price in this country.

Yes, not only does he own between eight and eleven homes, he spends about the price of an average house each year just on domestics. Wow. Does his butler have a butler?

Yours, flabbergasted,

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sea oats

I don't really know what it is about sea oats, but they really make me feel that I'm at the beach, as soon as I see them.

Yours, in my mind, back at the beach,


This really is rich. First, McCain sets a threshold the other evening of $5 million dollars a year to be considered "rich" (it's not clear whether he was joking: it appeared to me that he really didn't want to give a straight answer to the question): next, he's asked how many houses he has, and he doesn't know the answer to that either! Mind you, sources on the web seem to suggest that the number is between 7 and 11: perhaps if it is that hard for bloggers to figure out, it might explain how it is that McCain himself can't keep track of how many houses he had.

Yours, still paying off one house,

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

One sunset

Just one sunset for you. There were only a really a couple of good ones the whole week we were there --- the cloud cover was too heavy much of the time. But this one was quite pretty.

Yours, setting,

What happens when you give snacks to seagulls

The wind was strong enough this day that the seagulls could just stay still in the air --- and with the incentive of some "goldfish" snack crackers, they did just that.

Yours, gullible,

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More on bus routes

We found out more about the bus situation: apparently there has been a push on to delete this route (gas prices up, let's delete some bus routes, because they're going to cost us more money): but the powers that cancel were told that they couldn't cancel it. Instead, in their infinite wisdom, they set it up so that it is far more difficult to use in one direction than the other: my best guess is that in a couple of months they want to be able to say "see, there's been fewer passengers for the past two months: we were right all along, and should be able to cancel the route".
Instead, they may find themselves with a fight on their hands to bring the route back to full functionality.

Yours, p.o.'d

Public transport

or, as they say over here, Public Transit.
We are blessed here in my little community to have a good public transport system (at least, for an area like here): there is a bus once an hour which will take me to work, and I have tried in the past to use it, with some success: it is only once an hour, which is inconvenient, and the time it arrives at work makes it tricky, but it's still a lovely service, and I was planning to use it more in the next few months.
And so you can imagine my delight to see that they've changed the timetable: still once an hour, but it arrives at a much better time: in effect, meaning that I can leave forty minutes later and still get to work in good time.

Unfortunately, today I was checking the new timetable, and discovered that they appear to have made the route "one way only". Now, what this means I have yet to discover, but it appears to mean that the trip home will now take an extra thirty mnutes, spent sitting in the bus. While it is stopped. At best, a mile and a half from home (which I could walk) but it is not clear. In fact, it is not clear from the timetable that it is even possible to use the bus to return! The clear implication is that it is not.

Yours, slowly shaking my head in incredulity,

Monday, August 18, 2008

A day full of bureaucracy: helping people register, then off home to whisk Boo down to her new school to meet her teacher, and some of her classmates. Fortunately (we think) she's in the same class as one of her friends. I say "we think", since he has a tendency to be something of a bad influence: but he's a sweet kid, and they are friends, so we are happy about it.
The teacher impressed both LOML and me, which relieved us both --- experienced, probably firm, but kind.
Now we just have to hope that Boo will wake up in the morning!

Yours, parentally,

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It was twenty years ago today...

at, if I recall, around 2pm in the afternoon, that I sat down and waited for the opportunity to speak, and then for the committee to grill me.
Fortunately, more than an hour after I'd finished, and they had finished the grilling, they decided to pass me.
And thus did Breadbox finish the final requirement for a PhD.
We celebrated with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot today. Since I failed to blog about it twenty years ago, I recall only that I celebrated, and probably that it was with bubbly.

Yours, in celebrememory,

Saturday, August 16, 2008

And we're back

Actually, we got back a few hours ago, but there's been too much to do to read blogs much, let alone write anything.

A wonderful time, punctuated occasionally by children whining, but only occasionally. The weather behaved beautifully except for one whole day and one evening. Sadly, the evening was our last evening there, and so I didn't get the pictures I was aiming for of the full moon through sea oats. Oh well --- that just means that we have to go back again and again.

Highlights of the trip?
- How well behaved the children all were, by and large --- absolutely marvelous behaviour from all three of them, considering. Especially during the five hour car trips there and back.
- Kayaking up the inlets, watching birds and collecting shells
- Bobbing like a cork, in water deeper than I am tall (I didn't have to go out far!)
- Baking bread again: for the first time in months, it seems, I got back down to bread making.

Pictures to follow, perhaps.

Yours, exhausted, and in need of another holiday (due date: May, perhaps, or August 2009),

What I'm looking forward to: Saturday II

The day we leave for home. Out of the house by 10 (but we're paying the service to scrub the place: we learned early on that we don't want to spend our vacation cleaning up --- we'll keep it clean, but let professionals get it spotless!), and if things go like they usually do we'll want to be home as soon as possible. So it will be drive, singing along, until we get home.

Yours, in return,

Friday, August 15, 2008

What I'm looking forward to: Friday

Our last full day at the beach: I'm sure we'll be spending most of it in the water.
Two beaches, one the sound side, nice at high tide, but not so good at low tide -- and the beach near the house: wonderful at low tide, but a very short beach at high tide. So we'll switch between the two, taking lunch in between.

And given my skin type, I imagine that that day I'll be signing off

Yours, lobstered,

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What I'm looking forward to: Thursday

Following Wednesday's anticipated trip to the Serpentarium, I expect that we might take a day trip to Charleston and if we do, I expect that we'll visit the aquarium there. It's a medium sized aquarium: not as big or splashy as the Atlanta one, for example -- but it is less expensive to get in too: and for four or five year olds, I don't think we'd get any more out of a larger place.
We love Charleston, and when the little ones are less little, I expect we'll visit there rather more often. For now, day trips from the beach are more our speed.

Yours, hoping things are going swimmingly,

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What I'm looking forward to: Wednesday

I think that Wednesday we may visit the serpentarium: a lovely small facility, mainly snakes and alligators, with a few turtles too. We've been a couple of times before, and it is always fun.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What I'm looking forward to: Tuesday

We already know that our favourite seafood vendor has closed since we last went to the beach: after decades in the business they most unfairly decided to take some time for themselves and retire.
But we've investigated, and are reliably informed that there are a couple of other places known for good seafood, fresh off the boats: and on Tuesday I'm looking forward to exploring the options.

Yours, on a mission to find the fish,

Monday, August 11, 2008

Much to my surprise

Much to my surprise, I find that we have a free wireless connection somewhere near the beach house. Not that this means that I'm going to spend all my time reading or blogs, or for that matter, blogging myself: but it does mean that I'll have fewer emails to catch up on when I get back next weekend.
I'm taking a few minutes now for myself: LOML is off having a nap, Boo and Skibo (four today!) are whirling around some spinning rocking chairs like mini whirling dervishes: our friends are off to order kayaks for all of us for a trip into the swamps in a day or three: they went last year, and we were quite jealous that Skibo wasn't quite old enough at the time for us to go along. This year we're going to all go in convoy!

We've spent lots of time in the water: the swimming lessons have given the children a bit more confidence than last year, but they're still cautious enough not to swim off without Mummy and Daddy, for which we give thanks.

At one point LOML had the two of them up on the beach making sand castles, and I managed to get a half an hour or so of idly swimming back and forth along the beach, a few yards out past my depth: the first time I've been swiming beyond my depth in a good many years! It felt good: liberating. Although I'm now a fair bit more cautious than I was a few decades ago: I'd swim back in to shore every few minutes just to make sure I could still get to where I could put down my feet.

We've not seen any dolphins yet this trip: still hoping that we will, but for various reasons (not going to the "Sound" side so often; the closing of our favourite restaurant, the one with the huge picture windows opening onto the inlet, through which we'd often see several dolphins, etc) we may not get as much opportunity to dolphin watch as last year.

The pelicans, on the other hand, have been stunning: several times we've seen dozens of them on patrol skimming inches above the ocean: and I've captured one shot so far which makes me happy: I've put it at the top of the post.

Yours, keeping you updated,

What I'm looking forward to: Monday

Skibo's birthday! And we're going to have dessert pizza to celebrate!

Yours, wishing Skibo the happiest of years a four year old can have,

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What I'm looking forward to: Sunday

Sunday, I expect to wake up early, excited (and especially, even more I expect the children to wake us up early, excited). I hope they do: apparently our beach house has a lovely east-facing view, and I'm looking forward to the sunrise over the water.

Yours, with a sunny disposition,

Saturday, August 9, 2008

What I'm looking forward to: Saturday

I'm trying to think ahead a little to the beach: and to get myself in the mood, I'm going to try to predict what I'll enjoy, particularly, about each day. Just one or two little details about the vacation, posted in advance, but of course, through the magic of Blogger, dated accordingly.
Saturday, we drive: we're thinking of leaving at around 10 or so: we can't check into the house until 4pm, and it's about a five hour trip, but I expect we'll go to the beach before checking in.
And for the trip, I've got 2000 or so songs on my Ogg player (like mp3 player only free software and formats): everything from Abba to Zoe Lewis, via the Beatles, the Bee Gees, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Chris Rosser, etc. etc. etc. All on random play.
And what I'm looking forward to, in addition to swimming and music on the drive? Falling asleep to the sound of the waves.

Yours, in anticipation,

Friday, August 8, 2008

I could'a live-blogged it

I would have live blogged the opening ceremonies, with suitably witty remarks, such as "Sarkozy is the spitting image of Rowan Atkinson", and other nice remarks.


Mind you, my snarkometer this evening is high enough that you probably don't want to hear what I think of things. Especially the NBC "recorded live" commentary. For the record, the only thing that I'll say, is the following: (non NBC commentators please ignore) there are similarities between tai chi and karate. There are also similarities between tai chi and croquet. In fact, there are similarities between tai chi and crumpets. If you want to make the comments you made, perhaps you could compare tai chi to kung fu, instead. But by preference, just shut the f' up.

The commentary here in the US has been uniformly dreadful: Awareness claims to have learned much about other countries, watching the ceremonies live in Canada: I can truly claim to have learned much about our commentators this evening: primarily that they are worse than they have ever been, and that they know less about other countries than one might expect. For example, I am sure that I heard Cape Verde referred to as "Cape Vurd".

Yours, in anticipation of Vurs coverage,

I love this country

Well, actually, I do quite like living here. Most of the time. But sometimes, just sometimes, I do wonder.
Back in 2002, for example, when the World Cup was on, I got to enjoy lots of games, albeit at inconvenient times of the day. The one game that I didn't get to enjoy live was the final. My local ABC affiliate decided in its infinite wisdom that they'd rather carry the live coverage of a local mega-church service just like any regular Sunday. And since ABC was covering it live in most of the country, it meant that I couldn't watch it on any other channel. (I'm now informed that had I tried the spanish channel, I might have found it.... but I didn't know that at the time).
This morning, LOML and I are up early to cook for the party this afternoon --- and I thought, oh, let's watch the opening ceremonies. And I discover that NBC is not showing it live! Ostensibly, this is because it might cut into their viewer ratings for the non-live broadcast this evening...
Oh well, at least it is preparing me for the remaining coverage, which I am sure will be up to NBC's usual standards. That is, awful. I really want to use some swearwords here, but that's not my (online) style... (now, in person, I can actually swear moderately fluently in at least one language).
Gawd, I feel like I've finally become the sort of person who writes letters to the Times, signing off "Disgusted, Tunbridge Wells".

Yours, disgusted,

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Two days

Another day down, two more to go.
I'm now essentially on vacation until we get back from the beach: spent much of the day in the kitchen, avoiding cooking for tomorrow's party: I threw some brioche dough together (we're taking it to the beach frozen, so that I can make dessert pizza for Skibo's birthday) and made some chicken and bean soup (we have friends who've been suffering through his having therapy for a stroke: they come back into town on Monday, and need all the support that they can get: he's not doing well, unfortunately --- so we're leaving them soup to thaw and eat).
Tomorrow, it will be a case of cooking like crazy, but that's always the way that I handle these events: I can't get around to cooking until it's actually necessary to do so!

Yours, warming up for the main event,

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you

I heard this phrase a few days ago, once again, from a colleague. He was bemoaning bureaucracy in the workplace (quite justifiably in this instance, in my view): and then followed it up with the fact that it was all (in this case) the fault of the state government. At this point I took issue with his point -- the fault was as much in our institution's implementation of policies to satisfy some idiotic state laws (of which I will agree there are lots) as it was in the law in question.
But in this instance there were indeed a couple of bureaucracies in place, one governmental, one institutional, both conspiring to make his life a misery.

Nonetheless, his phrase pissed me off immensely. Because I've never heard someone sarcastically say "I'm from MallWarts, and I'm here to help you", or "I'm from BigOil, and I'd like to help you pay for your gas".

Mind you, the ads that we see here in the US from BigPharma, showcasing how many overpriced medications they give away to those who can't afford their inflated prices, do beg for a similar meme.

In many cases there are state and national representatives who do at least try to make things better for their constituents. And they often get ridiculed for it. And many of them pass bad bills --- but instead of ridiculing the institution, how about working to elect better representatives, making sure that they care, and lobbying for better legislation.

Yours, in a spirit of esprit de corps,

Three days

Three days to go: two to Skibo's birthday party, and then a mad frantic dash to pack on Friday evening/Saturday morning. What this means, of course, which I hadn't quite appreciated until this very minute, is that there is basically much less leeway for leftovers at the party. Anything we cook has to be eaten, or we need to find a needy home for it.... or, horror of horrors, throw it away.

Yours, in preparation, both for the party and for the beach,

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


We went swimming this afternoon --- the first time since the kids' lessons ended over a week ago. I know, we've been remiss: and I could plead being too busy at work, etc, but frankly most of the time it's just that LOML and I have felt too exhausted.
But we had a lovely time this afternoon: and both Boo and (especially) Skibo continue to make great strides (should that be strokes?) in the pool.
Mind you, I'm a little nervous about how closely we need to watch them this year compared to last year at the beach: this year they are much less nervous about water than before, which means we need to be at least triply vigilant!

Yours, looking forward to real salt water,

Four days

Four days: then we see our friends again for the first time since May/March: we've missed them terribly over the past few months -- and phone/skype-with-video/email just isn't the same.
I know the first few minutes will be great: then a few more minutes of discomfort, discovering and rediscovering conversation threads.... and then everything will be back as though they'd never left.
Oh, and did I mention that we'll be at the beach? For a week?

Yours, champing at the bit,

Monday, August 4, 2008

Skibo's birthday

Skibo's birthday is coming up on Monday --- and so we have to have a party on Friday, since we'll be at the beach on the actual day. Poor wee lad, with the way my schedule at work and their schedule at school goes, he's often going to miss out on having his birthday on his birthday. Last year we managed it: his birthday was Saturday, and we checked into the beach the next day. But it may be another few years before he gets a birthday at home again.
Mind you, this way he gets to celebrate twice: once with a party here, and once with one of his best friends at the beach. That means two cakes, extra presents, and lots more fun:-)

Yours, in party-planning mode,

Five days

Five days. Not long. Not long at all. Why, if I put my mind to it, I might actually last this period of waiting successfully!

Yours, in waiting,

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Syllabub's back

With another beautiful piece, this time on brandy snaps. It seems to me that I might just have to have a go at those --- they'd go wonderfully well with limoncello, I think.

Yours, snapping at turtles,

Six days

Six days to go. A birthday party to plan, to execute, and to clean up after, first.

But six days from now, the sea and the sun and the spray are calling!

Yours, preparing,


The limoncello worked. It is now sitting in the freezer, ready to be sipped upon in the next few days, and any remainders taken to the beach.

The recipe? A dozen lemons: peel them with a zester or a potato peeler, to get just the yellow part of the peel (any white will apparently turn the resulting drink too bitter). Place in a suitable container (everything I read said mason jar, but I used a bottle which had once held brandy) with a bottle (about 26 ounces, what they refer to here in the US as a "fifth") of superhigh proof (i.e. almost pure) grain alcohol. Cap the container tightly, and place in a cool, dark place for a week or two. Shake the container to mix the contents around every day or so. It will turn a yellowy-golden transparent hue.
After seven days, bring about 4 cups of water (about a litre) and two pounds of sugar (about a kg) to a boil, and gently boil for fifteen minutes to make a sugar syrup. Let the syrup cool to room temperature.
Strain the lemons from the liquor, top up with enough grain alcohol to get 3/4 liter alcohol, .and pour the liquor into a suitable bottle (about 1.75 litre bottle will work).
Now add a litre of the sugar syrup to the bottle. Cap the bottle, shake gently to mix. Enjoy watching the colour, and the texture of the colour, change: just like Pernod, or other varieties of Pastis, turn cloudy when you add water, so does this.

Put the bottle in the freezer (make sure that the bottle has a screw cap and is not full enough to burst if you made it too weak and the liquor freezes!) Pour small quantities into chilled glasses. Remember, this will have a kick to it, and you are drinking it straight, so drink slowly, partake with care, and please, don't drive!

Next: to try this with limes instead. And maybe with grapefruit.

Yours, in mixology mode,


This is worth seeing! I was sent it in email, but tracked down a link on the web.
(Bears on a playground)

Yours, bearing up,

Happy Birthday, LOML!

Tea in bed, children bringing in handmade presents and cards...

Yours, LOML's,

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Seven days

Seven days, a week, we'll be there!
We're going to have to find a new seafood vendor: the hole in the wall we used to go to (actually, more of a shack on the shore) closed up shop in November (the owner finally retired). Apparently there are other great places around: we now just have to find them.

But I'll miss the shack. It was amazingly good.

Yours, in search of a replacement,


It seems to me (therefore, of course, it must be true) the issue of drilling ought to be a non-starter. But of course it's not. We're all suffering under the oppression of gas prices approaching where they were in Europe a decade or two ago, and therefore we have to panic.
Now, I have to say that I don't like high gas prices (that's petrol, I mean): of course I don't: I have to fill the car on a regular basis.
But at the same time, I recognise that while gas prices have increased at a huge, nay, disastrously high rate, nonetheless, the cost of filling an SUV once a week is still under $5000 a year. So when I read of SUV owners panicking and selling their guzzlers for $30,000 below what their worth was a few months prior, I think that the guzzler-owners are making a bad decision. That lost worth is six years worth of gas!

Likewise, it seems to me, that the idea that we should open up more off-shore drilling is deeply flawed. First, of course, I think that it would be bad for an already beaten, bloodied and bewildered environment. Second, there are huge swaths of leases that can be drilled on now, which the oil companies are holding back --- I guess until the price of oil is high enough to make it really worth it. Why should we expect that if we give Exxon, Shell, etc a bunch more land that they will actually drill on it, when they have thousands (many thousands) of acres of leases to exploit already? If we give them another few hundreds of thousands of acres, all we do is give them the right to speculate more about the worth of the leases!

Unfortunately, this, true as it may be (and I think that there is more than a mere morsel of truth there), it's unpalatable to the public. They want gas prices to go down damnit and therefore we have to open up the beaches to oil spills.

Perhaps there could be some way of only giving new leases to companies that don't hold under-utilized leases already --- or to get a new acre of lease, if they're not currently using their leases, they could be required to swap out ten acres of unused leases for a new acre of lease. After all, if they're not using the old leases, it must be because they are worth much less than the new leases they're begging for, right?

There are lots of problems facing the US and the world relating to the price of gas, of oil and other energy sources: and even more problems arising from our current usage of fossil fuels and their impact on the environment. More drilling, even if it were a part of the answer, is not the best part. Any NASCAR driver could tell the US consumer that they'd save more on their gas costs by pumping up their tires than by passing the offshore drilling legislation. And if we had imposed higher fuel standards back a generation ago, when they were first proposed, we might be getting twice as many miles to the gallon now. Just imagine if all cars had electic-assisted brakes which helped charge a battery. Just the energy saved by reclaiming some of the energy wasted in braking..... But no, we pandered to the US auto industry.

Somewhat rambling, I know. I just don't have the energy to tidy up the thoughts.

Yours, fuming,

Friday, August 1, 2008

Eight days

Only a little over a week to go. Can you tell yet that I need this vacation?

We're finally getting things in place for Skibo's birthday party: he is crazy about divers, and so we've got him some flippers and a mask for his birthday -- he'll be Scuba Skibo in our minds from now on.

While LOML was out this afternoon, the children and I made birthday cards: there were some gorgeous interactions with Boo telling Skibo how to spell "I luv you" (sic) and similar phrases. She's really great about teaching her little brother how things go: it's so nice to see the two of them interact like that. Of course, they have the other types of interactions as well, but by and large, we are so lucky with how good they are together.
Tomorrow, Boo and Skibo and I have to go to the craft store so that they can make picture frames for LOML's birthday present. They've decided that this is what they want to make, and I think it sounds wonderful: the only difficulty is going to be getting LOML out of the way for hours while we get the kraftwerk done.....

On a completely unrelated note, congratulations to my supervisee, JJ, who just passed all her comprehensive exams! Well done!

Yours, celebrating everything,