Sunday, November 30, 2008

More leftovers

In the traditional continuation of thanksgiving, we had turkey soup and turkey pot pie as leftovers. Our friends the G's came over: they are back down from the mountain (the adults came down on Saturday morning, and the grandparents brought their grandchildren down on Sunday afternoon, giving the grownups lots of time to play with power tools, getting their renovations just a little bit closer to complete).
Boo decided to make up a song for the occasion: to the tune of "For he's a jolly good fellow" she sang
The G's are coming to dinner
The G's are coming to dinner
The G's are coming to dinner
Hooray, hooray hooray.
We liked this so much that we all helped make up further verses until we had a whole song. Unfortunately the children's behaviour was such that by the time that we were planning to sing it, we'd all forgotten about it. Still, there'll be another opportunity --- and excepting the fact that one of the verses referred to tonights menu, most of the song will keep.

Yours, in tune with my kids,

Saturday, November 29, 2008


As always, Thanksgiving means leftovers, and leftovers mean turkey and ham in abundance. So we had our friends from the bookstore over: they love soups, and there was a football game this afternoon so the bookstore was closed, so we were able to persuade them to come over around 3 and stay much longer than usual.
We gave them the choice: pea and ham soup (maritimes style!) or turkey and bean soup. We'll be eating the turkey bean soup tomorrow, as they plumped down for the pea and ham soup without hesitation.
The children helped with the bread this morning --- and as always we had fun with the dough, playing and learning. I'm pretty sure that before they are ten they'll be among the best bakers in the state:-)

A gentle day, other than that: it rained again, so we're up to average rainfall for the day. A lot more to go for the month, and more still for the year, but every little staves off the drought a little longer. This batch of rain looks to last the weekend too, for which we're thankful.

Mind you, if we're to get precipitation, I'd love if it would get a bit colder and snow!

Yours, dreaming,

Friday, November 28, 2008

Horror in Mumbai

This stuff is so awful. How is it that people can feel the need to act this way? I can conceive of hating an individual that much, that some one person has hurt me so badly that I want to lash out, to harm, to get revenge. But to channel the hate, the hurt in a random fashion: I just can't internalize and understand the psyche it must take.

Yours, in sadness and sympathy,

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Waifs and strays, again

Yet another feast day in our calendar --- and feast days for us are days to feast with friends.
One group of friends had misfortune this year, and that led directly to our fortune: their house is being remodelled, and since it is a month behind schedule, they couldn't have their big Thanksgiving celebration. They went up the mountains to be with family instead: we inherited many of their otherwise unfeasting guests: friends all, we had fifteen in total for dinner today.
A turkey, a ham, sausages, potatoes, carrots, sweet potato casserole, cranberry chutney (flavoured with ginger), brussel sprouts in a vinagrette with walnuts and mandarin oranges, onion pie, etc, etc, etc. A feast fit for family.

Somehow, in all the hustle and bustle, we forgot to say what we're all thankful for. So now, in a moment of silence, and only to myself, not even to you, my semi-anonymous friends, I'm saying thanks for many, many things.

Yours, in thanks,

Happy Thanksgiving!

This US version of the most american of holidays is upon us again! Happy thanksgiving to all here, and hoping that my friends in other countries have lots to be thankful for too.

Yours, gratitudinously,

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fearing the worst

But we'll most likely never know.

Our younger, bigger, bruiser of a cat is missing: he's eleven, and he's big enough to take care of himself --- we don't de-claw our cats, though we do remove other significant bits and pieces --- but he's been missing for three days now.

One day is not too much to be concerned about. Two is more worrying. And now, my expectation is that we'll not hear his familiar squeezing through the only-just-big-enough cat flap again. We've contacted the neighbours to keep an eye out for him, and the animal control folks in case he turns up: and we're still hoping someone let him inside during the cold weather.
But my hopes are hard to hold up over time.

Yours, still hoping,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Boo's mondegreen

Skibo has a Christmas concert coming up (it's a church-run preschool, so they call it that rather than a holiday celebration....) and so his class is busily preparing their songs. He's even got a CD to listen to so that he can practice.
Unfortunately, the songs are either dreadful, or worse, lovely songs cut down to half-a-verse-and-no-part-of-a-chorus. Think "We three kings" terminating in "afar", with no mention of fields, fountains, moors or mountains. And absolutely no stars of wonder.
His favourite song to sing is "Go tell it on the mountain" (full chorus, no verses): and Boo loves the song as a consequence. She sings along heartily (and truth be told, rather more musically: those extra 21 months really make a difference!) but with one small "improvement" to the lyrics.

She sings the Sarah Palin version. "Go kill it on the mountain".

Yours, still laughing,

Monday, November 24, 2008


The Bush adminstration version, not the pre-hibernation digging of cute-but-dangerous-furry mammals.

Apparently lots of political appointees are being transferred into permanent "non-partisan" positions, often one for which their qualifications seem rather slender. The intent seems to be to place these ideologues in the way of a new progressive administration.

Political Animal has the best suggestion yet for how to deal with these burrowers.

Yours, seeing the potential for a new reality TV series, Dancing With The Cons,

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Letters from America

An absolutely riveting documentary this evening: on Alastair Cooke, and especially, his "Letter from America", which he broadcast almost 3000 times. He formed a big part of my life when I was growing up: my parents would listen to him devotedly every Sunday morning. Decades on, I still recall his description of the city of Oxford as "Detroit, with colleges". And if I sat down and thought about different topics, I could probably easily remember dozens of other lines, concepts, ideas that he touched on.
Fascinating. Just fascinating.

Yours, absorbed,

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The season is officially here

Our town, it seems, has started the holiday season. I put it that way, since now that it covers both Christmas and Thanksgiving, it needs a broader name.

This morning on the square they had various church choirs singing a few hymns each. Unfortunately, they were staggered over a period of a few hours ---- and the temperature was cold enough that we didn't feel like staying outside for more than one group --- we'd have had to wait half an hour until the next one.
Even though we're not religious ourselves, having grown up in England with the omnipresent state religion, we've absorbed all the hymns and enjoy the ceremonies. As a consequence, I'm quite looking forward to all the things taking place on the square, starting with the lighting of the (fake) tree on Friday.

Yours, getting in the spirit,

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thank you notes from classes

I got the most beautiful thank you note today from Boo's class: it is a full poster-sized sheet of paper, with a note written by the teachers, and signed, beautifully, I might add, by each of the children.

Oh, and it says they'd *love* for me to come back and teach them some more origami:-)

Yours, wondering if I can go back tomorrow.... oh... they're not open on Saturdays?


NUMB3RS, the math-based crime procedural on CBS, started the episode tonight with a disclaimer: the episode was conceived, written and filmed prior to the train crash in LA, but because of similarities, it might be painful to watch.

I'd imagine that the folks involved with the show may have had some serious worries about showing it at all.

Yours, moved.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More morigami

Today I went to Boo's classroom: her class is working on the letter "B", so I'd made butterflies, birds, boxes, a bat, and had plans for a boat.
Plus, I'd made a turkey --- well, that's a bird too, right?

After signing in at the office, and getting a badge to stick on my clothes, I found the class walking from lunch (at 10:45 they go to lunch: they're done by 11:15!) and went with them to class: Boo held my hand the whole way, looking proudly up at me every once in a while.
We sat down, and I started talking about origami, and said that if they had any questions they should ask: and I discovered just how willing and eager 5 and 6 year olds are to, in the guise of asking questions, impart information about their parents' tv viewing habits, what they had for lunch, and whether the sky is green or red on cartoons.
But when I started pulling out pieces I'd folded, they started to focus, and got fascinated: especially when I pulled out a box --- or so it seemed: a simple masu box with top --- except that inside it was another box, and inside it, another, and finally, after several repetitions of this, inside the final box, an iridescent butterfly. Ooohs and aaahs all round.

After showing them all the pieces I'd made ahead of time, I took small groups to a table and folded doves. I'd pre-creased the paper to make it possible, and made sure that the teachers joined in (it really helped having another adult with each group of four children): but each child took home a nice dove that they had (essentially) folded themselves.

Finally, as an almost afterthought when some of the children mentioned dinosaurs, I offered to sit and fold a dinosaur while they all watched: and they watched, enthralled, as I talked them through the whole sequence, showing them the model halfway through, asking them if it looked like a T Rex yet ("No!!") and expressing amazement as they saw the thighs take shape, then the arms, then the head.

And then, as I was preparing to leave, and telling them how much fun I'd had, there was a spontaneous near-scrum as the children decided to come forward and hug me, kiss me, hold my hand, and generally participate in the most amazing outpouring of emotion and affection I've seen in ages. I came this close to tears, I swear. And I'm doing so again right this minute...

I'm going back again to fold with them another time, really soon.

Yours, emotionally folded,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pickup cooking

We seem, again, to have picked up Thanksgiving: last year, our friends were going to have a big Thanksgiving bash, but all came down with various versions of the dreaded lurgy a few days earlier. LOML and I immediately decided to pick up the slack, and invited several suddenly dis-invited guests to our place instead.
This year, said friends, yes, the same family, are having their house remodelled. And in spite of the fact that they were adamant to the builders and contractors and all that it was essential that it be finished by late summer, it is still not done. And it won't be done by Thanksgiving. In fact, it won't be done by the time of the great annual rotating Christmas parade party, which they were going to host (to show off the beautiful remodelling job!) this year.
We're not picking up the party --- we did that one last year too, by choice --- it is the sort of huge bash that one can only host once every few years. But we will pick up the turkeyfest.

Yours, always happy to play in from the bench,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Alaska senate race goes to the democrat

It looks as though the counting may be just about over in Alaska --- with about 2500 votes to count, and more than 3700 votes difference between them, it looks like a done deal.
Furthermore, the difference is much more than the difference needed for a state-funded recount, so if Stevens wants a recount he will have to pay for it himself: and I'd imagine that with his felony record the party would be far from eager to help him out with the costs!

Yours, pleased to see this one go this way,


Skibo's class again today (and in a couple of weeks time). This week they are studying the letter "D", so I took along a dragon (Jeremy Shafer's model, based on Robert Lang's version), a dinosaur (T-rex, my modification of the Shafer dragon, the wings becoming the dinosaur's thighs), a dog, a dove and a duck.
I folded copies of the latter three in front of the class, having just as much fun as last time, and finished up again with the story of the captain and his boat and t-shirt. I know, I told them that last time, but they are only four years old --- I bet that when I go into their class in a couple of weeks they beg for it again:-)

Yours, parentally proud to participate in his classroom,

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's beginning to sound a lot like Christmas

and that's not a good thing.

This morning, as is my wont, I went to the cafe to fill my mug with coffee: they always have satellite radio playing in the background, and usually I can just tune it out (or more accurately, just listen instead to my music in my earphones).
Today, however, there was someone I had to speak to briefly, and had to turn off my ogg player, only to have Christmas music thrust upon me.
Apparently the satellite broadcaster has had stations playing Christmas music since November 1: it's just that those stations haven't been playing in places I've been.
As to why it's a bad thing (other than the obvious reasons): I am assuming that retailers want the Christmas music to persuade shoppers to buy presents earlier this year than usual --- because the economy has tanked, sales are down, customers are depressed about salaries, etc --- so this is just another
bad sign.

Yours, unready for the Christmas spirit,

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Small children, and fear....

I love, absolutely love the movie "The Princess Bride": the dialogue, the acting, the script all make me want to watch it over and over again.
I watched it with the little ones a few months back, and although they were afraid at points, they seemed to enjoy it (and enjoyed it more in memory too). So, when I discovered that my mother and father not only had never seen it, they'd never even heard of it, I decided they should watch it with Boo and Skibo before they left for home.
Unfortunately, with all the birthday parties going on (ours, others), and all the other celebrations of the past few weeks, it didn't happen.
This afternoon, while LOML was out, the children and I sat down to watch it again. This time, the fear seemed far more intense for them: we made it through the fire swamp scene, cowering behind blankets, and regardless of my reassurances that all would be well in the end, they absolutely refused to watch any further. I'm left wondering how long it will be before they discover the fun of this flick, the joy in the cameos of Mel Smith, Billy Crystal, Peter Cook, the ballet in the fight scenes....

Yours, fearless, but helpless, in their opposition,

Saturday, November 15, 2008

James Bond

It seems there must be a new Bond film out: all sorts of blogs seem to be focussing on who is the favourite of all the Bonds (always leaving out, of course, Niven, David, and Allen, Woody).
Strangely, nobody seems to be relating the story of how Connery came to be cast as Bond in the first place. The story as I have heard it is the following: Ian Fleming really wanted Roger Moore to play the role, but he was tied up, happy playing the role of Simon Templar, and unwilling to break his contract to take the role (curiously, there's a similar story as to why Pierce Brosnan wouldn't take the role in the mid-80's).
Apparently Fleming was having lunch with Brocolli, and discussing the fact that Moore wouldn't take the role. Looking over Cubby's shoulder, he spotted someone walking away across the studio lot, and said "That's him. That's Bond."
The actor walking away was Connery, of course.

Yours, always opting for "stirred, not shaken". And never vodka.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rain, at last

Today, or more precisely, this evening, it started to rain. Not drizzle, not spit, spot or sparkle --- no, it's a nice drenching rain.
It's only supposed to rain for a few hours, but we'll take what we can get.
We do need a few more weeks of drench, though. If you have any to spare, and you can convince it to come our way, I know a lot of folks here who'd appreciate it.

Yours, drily,

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Origami for children

I'm going to be giving two origami presentations next week: one for Skibo's class (again) and one for Boo's class (their first presentation).
I intend to make it up to Boo's class on Thursday by actually trying to teach a bunch of 5-6 year olds how to fold a dove. To this end, I expect to need a helper, so this coming weekend I'm going to fold a whole bunch of doves with Boo....

Yours, planning to inspire,

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And the election continues....

The counting hasn't finished yet in Oregon, so my 90,000-ish margin prediction there can't be tested yet (although Merkley is ahead by about 50,000 at the moment, so he's looking good for the seat).
It's Alaska today which is looking interesting, though: a bunch of votes were counted this afternoon there, and they've turned a 3,300-ish margin for Stevens into a 3 vote margin for Begich. Yes, with about 40K to go, there's a 3 vote difference between the candidates. With luck, Begich will pull this one off, and Stevens can go off to fame, obscurity or prison, whichever beacons hardest.

Yours, still in counting mode,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A moment, please

Thank you.

Yours, lest we forget,

Monday, November 10, 2008

The season of birthdays

This month is crazy for us: we have Boo's birthday, of course: but the previous weekend we had three birthdays, two with parties: this weekend we had a party on Saturday, Boo's party yesterday, and another cake-and-ice-cream party this evening: next weekend there are two more. And these are just friends we're pretty close to: if we added in all the others going on, it would get really ridiculous...

Yours, partied out,

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, Boo!

Boo is six today!

Yours, in celebration,

Saturday, November 8, 2008

An uplifting story

We had dinner with friends tonight: they run our favourite bookstore in the next town over.
She told a story about an elderly gentleman, perhaps late 70s, who came into the store yesterday, and asked if they had any books on Barack Obama. She pointed to the appropriate bookshelf, and he went over to them. He spent twenty minutes or so, and came over with Audacity of Hope and Dreams from my Father.
He whispered to her:
"I didn't vote for him, you know. But I heard his victory speech, and I thought to myself 'He didn't read that speech, he wrote that speech himself: it was very good.' and so now, I want to find out more about him. He's quite impressive."

Yours, hoping that there will be more people seeing things to like,

Overheard, redux

Boo: "Guess what! The White House was made out of a tooth. A cowboy started sucking up all that rattlesnake poison where he was bitten on his arm. And he had a cavity and he didn't know it. And when he spat it out some stayed in and he didn't know it, and it got into his cavity and the tooth grew and grew. When his tooth fell out it grew and grew and was so big that it could be turned into the White House, and people carved it into the White House and that's how the White House got here!"

Yours, fascinated by history,


What you'd have overheard this morning in our house:

Skibo, please don't tape the cat flap shut!

Yours, still laughing,

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bravo New Hampshire, Colorado!

New Hampshire now has a majority of women in its state house: and it has women as head of the senate and head of the house: and it just elected its first woman senator.

Colorado now has become the first state to have both senate president and speaker of the house african americans. A great first!

Now, if we could just get rid of Prop 8 in California, the country would be beginning to look pretty good....

Yours, in 2/3 celebration,

Bad pun

but nobody else seems to be making it: after Barack winning the single district electoral vote in Nebraska, is one major city there going to be renamed Obamaha? The two biggest cities are then named for Illinois presidents?

Yours, ducking,


That's one electoral vote per day for the past year, except for the fact that this is a leap year.

Oh well. At least the first family-elect want to adopt a shelter dog rather than buying a pure-bred if possible....

Yours, in favour of such adoptions,

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Congratulations to Senator-elect Merkley

Congratulations, Jeff Merkley: the media are calling his race for the senate in Oregon in his favour. I'm pleased to say that my prediction for that race yesterday look as thought they might be pretty good (not sure that 90000 is the correct margin, but at least he's won!)

Yours, watching Alaska for uncounted senate ballots next,

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How to deal with the withdrawal symptoms

Now that the election is over, how should I deal with the withdrawal symptoms? First, no cold turkey for me. There are still four senate races to obsess about:
(did Alaska really decide to elect a convicted felon? Republicans are more tolerant of scurvy criminals than I thought!)

So, here is my take on one of them. Smith will likely lose to Merkley in Oregon, perhaps by almost 90000 votes when all the ballots are counted. This in spite of the fact that Smith currently has a nearly 8000 vote lead. Of course, we may not know for sure for another day or so.

In the other races, Alaska is just plain weird. Minnesota is so close that there will be an automatic recount --- not sure what will happen there. And Georgia has a special rule that a candidate must get more than 50% of the vote: otherwise there is a runoff election in December: this looks likely to be the case this year.

Yours, continuing my addiction,

Please to remember, the fifth of November

Gunpowder, treason and happy anniversary, LOML, my love!

Yours, remembering,

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

McCain: classy

McCain's concession speech: classy, in its way, though I did wonder where it was going, at one point.
Mr. McCain, though I would not have voted for you this year, I salute you.

Mr Obama, you have the torch.

Yours, unilluminatingly,



Yours, saying "Yes!",

ps Yes!

Looking good

If the predictions are correct for a few states, and if the early counts are correct for some others, things are looking good.
Yours, in anticipation,

Playing the (waiting) game

Several times over.
I went to the polls at 7am, as they opened.
I waited. For 93 minutes. And voted.

Here, I was lucky: LOML went to vote at 10 and had to wait more than 150 minutes. Yes, more than 2 1/2 hours.

And our state went to McCain. May he savour our votes.

Yours, finally feeling free to breathe...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Condolences to Barack Obama

How sad. His grandmother, who raised him for many of his younger years, has died. How I wish she could have lived to see him elected tomorrow.

Yours, in sympathy with his family,

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Years ago, when I moved into a new apartment, a couple of days after the moving truck had left, my door was broken in, and burglers ransacked the place. Being me, they didn't get much: something of immense sentimental importance (which reminded me that the memories it represented were so much more important than the memento itself --- after a few weeks of fretting about it --- so from that I learned a useful life lesson), a jacket, and a stereo. Clearly I was not as good a haul as some, and probably much less than they had hoped.
Still, the feeling of violation persisted for months. The stomach-tightening, mind-twisting sensation finally went away, and now, decades later, I can look back and just remember it, instead of reliving it.

Today I am fuming for a less intrusive, but still upsetting, violation. Our yard sign announcing our favoured candidate in an upcoming election was ripped out. And of course, the party offices are shut on Sundays, and the candidate is not expected to win the state, or come anywhere close, so he only has one office, in the state capital. Nowhere near here.

So, after a little creative googling, I printed out a copy of this, which I found here.

Yours, donating another $20,

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Three days and we will know

And I'm unable to hold my breath for that long.
Even as a former trombone player.

Yours, waiting,