Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Happy Birthday to our friend E!

Happy birthday, E!
We're cooking away like crazy, as are others, for a party this evening down at the cafe.

Yours, having done a cherry bombe, ribs, carnitas, halfway through a chocolate roulade,

Monday, May 30, 2011

A delightful afternoon by the pool

A rather lovely day: I got up late -- ridiculously late! -- and did little: I covered a cherry bombe with chocolate ganache, and put together the marinade for barbecued ribs for tomorrow's potluck for our friend E's birthday, but other than that was pleasantly just relaxed. 
This afternoon we headed over to our friends the vets, to swim and chat and just be: other than Skibo whacking his chin on the side of the pool (nasty little scare, which will probably lead to a nasty little scar) it was a lovely time.
And the children may just have new nicknames.  After discussing with Boo that she was nutty, we listed a bunch of nuts from which she chose her new nickname: Filbert.  And Skibo will be Dilbert.

Yours, feeling like today felt like a holiday,

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Blue Garlic

I made a discovery today: it was, for a few moments, scary:  LOML and I were decanting the spicy concoction that we'd made yesterday, when we realised that the garlic cloves had changed.  More precisely, they had turned a rather lovely shade of blue.  Since we were planning on feeding friends soon after, and had intended to include some spicy goodness in it, we immediately turned to the net for information.

Fortunately, I happened upon this article, which reassured me, especially the use of the phrase "The garlic is still safe to eat".  So, rest assured gentle readers (I know there are at least two of you): if I offer you spicy goodness, and it contained a rather lovely shade of blue garlic, I'm not attempting to emulate Lucretia Borgia, I am merely feeding you wonderful food!

Yours, relieved, and rather impressed by the beauty of the result,

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Food discoveries

I've tried a couple of new things over the past few days:
a) smoked trout and caramelized onion pizza with garlic/sriracha mayonnaise
b) vinagre, after Viva Daisy's recipe, modified by a couple of additions:
I coarsely chopped a few inches of ginger root, and threw in a couple of tablespoons of szechuan pepper.  Absolutely amazing flavour!

Yours, spicing things up,

Friday, May 27, 2011

A trip to town

LOML and I took a trip to the (small-ish) big city this morning: we've done it three or four times recently -- we get to go to decent supermarkets and buy exotic things like smoked trout which are hard to find (read, impossible) in the local stores.

On the way back, we got caught in the last of the storms passing through here (we're fortunately well east of the really destructive ones): last night and this morning dumped a good heavy rain on the region.  Fortunately this storm was quick to pass through, and it didn't slow us down very much: we went on to the new Asian grocery near-ish us, and on the way back stopped at the new Thai restaurant for lunch (sushi, in my case).

Quite a lovely little day out!

Yours, knowing that these little trips will end once the kids are out of school in a couple of weeks,

Keeping the same teacher

We learned this week that Skibo's first grade teacher is going to be teaching second grade next year, and rather than the usual shuffling of classes that happens between grades, her students are being given the option of staying with her, or being shuffled between the other two classes.
LOML and I talked it over between us, and with her, and with Skibo, and decided that we were happy for him to stay with her: and then let Skibo make the choice.

Yours, happy he enthusiastically wants to stay with his teacher next year,

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A pulse

One of the difficulties that many volunteer groups (and businesses, and organisations, and...) have is the following: once you are well established, and everybody is involved and engaged, things go swimmingly.  But how do you get there?  How do you get from just a handful of people trying to so stuff, to good, organised group?
One thing that seems to be really important is for the group, the community, the interested parties, to make sure that the organisation has a pulse: some reminder to everyone that it is time to be involved again: this could be a newsletter, it could be making sure that meetings happen regularly, it could be phone trees: there are lots of ways to make it happen.

This topic came up this afternoon at a meeting of the Parent/Teacher Organisation for the school: how do we make sure that the PTO has a pulse, to bring parents out, to get them involved and to keep them involved?
Do we really want meetings every month?  Is that too many?  I feel that it's perhaps more than we need in terms of what needs to be done in the meetings, but the "pulse" that they'd bring, especially if scheduled in a regular fashion (say, always the second Tuesday of the month, or whenever) would be worth the extra time.

Similarly, next weekend will be the fifth first-Saturday-of-the-month meeting of my origami group (we threw in an extra meeting on a non-first Saturday too, so it's the sixth meeting) and my first without the help of my co-founder, who has up and moved away for a new job. 

Yours, keeping up the pulse,

Academic Celebrations

The end of the school year is nearing for Boo and Skibo: only another couple of weeks to go: and this evening we had the Academic Celebration for the semester: in previous semesters each classroom has been festooned with samples of all the work that the students have done during the term, and there has been some sort of  presentation/dance/song session in the gym.
This time, however, the music/PE/art staff have been so pressed for time (they've all been pressed into doing double duty, at our school and at another elementary school) that they couldn't incorporate performances by all grades.
And the bigger, and better, change was that the school decided that all the classes should decorate the gymnasium with the examples of their work, grouped by grade level.
It meant that instead of LOML and me only seeing the sorts of things that Boo and Skibo have been doing, we got to experience the full spectrum of the school -- a great opportunity to observe, for instance, that the fifth graders are already studying the rudiments of cell biology.
It felt like a much more joyous event than previous celebrations, and I'm so glad that they made this change!

Yours, celebrating the students,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Persistent coughs and colds

Boo and Skibo have had a terrible time trying to shake off a persistent cough this spring.  For three weeks now, they've had a cough hanging on: not  bad most of the time, but a few times a day they'll have a horrible time coughing.
And often, it's at bedtime, meaning that they don't get a good night's sleep.
Hopefully once they are out of school in a couple of weeks they'll recover, if not before then!

Yours, feeling sorry for the poor little ones,

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Birthdays, here and abroad, are piling up, it seems.  Today we helped a friend here celebrate her birthday: we threw a smallish dinner party: mushroom risotto, with sausages and chicken to go with it for the carnivores in attendance.  Today is also my cousin's birthday: tomorrow is my sister's, two weeks from then it is my brother's: and next week we are helping organise a rather larger potluck at the local cafe for another friend.
Lots of fun, this!

Yours, always happy to help friends and family celebrate,

Monday, May 23, 2011

You load sixteen tons, and whaddaya get?

Maybe not sixteen tons, but LOML and I probably moved the best part of a ton of dirt and mulch this morning.  The dirt was most definitely not soil: it was ground up pine bark, apparently full of nutrients, but not good at water retention: LOML tells me that when it is mixed with clay it becomes a good growing medium.
Anyway, we basically replenished an 8x8 bed which had been hollowed out to put in a pond which was subsequently deemed too dangerous for the school garden. 

Yours, hoping that it leads to some lovely growth,

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Carnitas again

We are making carnitas in ten days for a birthday party, and I decided I needed another practice run first --- so this evening, carnitas it was.  Just as good, just as nicely warm and spicy, just as tender, just as delicious.

This recipe is really really good. 

Yours, saying "try it!",

The kids are home!

The children are finally home!  They went with friends to a water park for the weekend, and because there was so much to do there were a couple of hours later leaving than we'd expected.
But now they are here, home and healthy, safe and sound.
They've had a wonderful time, and hopefully will sleep well tonight!

Yours, glad to have them back,

Saturday, May 21, 2011


All week I've been hearing about this weekend: we're supposed to see some sort of raptors?  Haven't seen a one.

Yours, wondering if the lack of raptors might signify the end of days...

Friday, May 20, 2011


Boo and Skibo are off for the weekend, with friends, visiting a waterpark a couple of hours from here.  This gives LOML and me the freedom to go to restaurants, wander leisurely, sleep in tomorrow morning, and basically not be parents for a couple of days.  Apparently the children had a great time this afternoon, and are likely to be so worn out that they will get to sleep really quickly.

There were some moments of excitement earlier in the day: people not being where we thought they would be at the time we thought they would be there (including Skibo, who was sitting quietly in his classroom reading by himself when he was thought to be elsewhere, and couldn't be found for a few minutes: fortunately I only heard about this after the fact, and hence was not scared stiff at the time!)

Yours, wondering what to do with this freedom,

New Phones

LOML and I decided we needed to get new phones today --- we'd been working with old phones handed down from friends, and they were not what we needed at all: while I sometimes think it would be super cool to have a smart phone, what I really need is a phone that works as a phone, not a computer in my pocket.  And I don't want to pay the extra fees for data plans!
We decided to go with no contract phones and just put our sim cards in, rather than extending our contract with AT&T for another two years --- we sometimes talk about switching carriers, and there didn't seem to be any benefit at all to buying the sorts of phones we wanted from AT&T (in fact, it probably saved us ten dollars or so to get them from another store).
On the way home, we stopped at the Thai restaurant and had dinner, then wandered around another couple of stores, taking our time in a leisurely fashion, no need to hurry.

Yours, enjoying the leisure,

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Happy Birthday to our friend the vet!

No potluck to report on this week: we went out to dinner with our friends from the veterinary clinic, and a few others, to our old favourite Japanese restaurant.
We had a lovely time: the food was good, the laughter plentiful, and the company great.  The service was not up to the usual standards, though, and we came away muttering about how bad our waiter had been.
We then went off and had birthday cake, and finished celebrating, returning home late in the day.  The children had all been playing together with a babysitter, and by the time we got them home it was way past time for bed.

Yours, wishing the vet a very happy birthday,

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Smoked Milkfish Pate

LOML and I made our long trip to by smoked fish today --- some trout and some mackerel, enough to last a couple of weeks --- and on our return, I decided to try making some pate with the smoked milkfish I bought yesterday.
For comparison purposes, I put together a batch of smoked mackerel pate as well.
I wasn't sure whether the milkfish needed cooking first, and the information I could find on the web was unhelpful (I suspect that it was already cooked, but every recipe on the web suggested that it needed to be cooked) so I decided that I would err on the side of safety and after thawing a piece, placed it in a small skillet and gently sauted it.
While doing that, I put together a smoked mackerel pate:
1 piece of smoked mackerel, skin removed (about 3-4 ounces)
1/4 cup of fat-free cream cheese (a quarter of a package)
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of horseradish (the grated stuff, not the "prepared" stuff in mayonnaise)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
I blended them all together in the food processor (they fit beautifully in the small bowl which sits in the main large bowl of the food processor).
All the while I was gently making sure the milkfish was cooked through: turning it occasionally.  I took it out of the pan, removed the skin, and checked that indeed it had been boned already: I let it cool, then broke it into small pieces just to check for any bones, finding none.  I then made the same recipe, with the milkfish (about the same weight) substituting for the mackerel.

Dinner consisted of soup (Tom Ka Gai, a Thai chicken and coconut soup), and a baguette with the pates made earlier.  There is a slight difference between the flavours: I think the milkfish is a little smokier, and LOML claimed to taste a little more sweetness to it, and I can definitely taste the mackerel flavour I'm so used to from saba nigiri, mackerel prepared as sushi: but the difference is subtle, and they are both very good.  LOML has a slight preference for the milkfish, and I prefer the mackerel, but not by much.

Yours, very happy with the way this turned out,

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New discoveries

LOML and I have made a couple of new discoveries recently: the new-ish Thai restaurant which we've eaten at a couple of times is one: it's only been open for six or seven months, and still has a "Now Open" banner by the street, so we're not too far behind the curve on that one.
A few weeks ago we saw a little sign on the street advertising a new Asian food market a little further down the road, and this afternoon I decided that I was going to check it out --- LOML was busy, so I had to go by myself.
It's a very nondescript looking store from the outside: in a little run-down strip mall just off the main road, a huge, rather empty parking lot, and little sign of life.
Entering the store, it appeared to have little character, and while the products on the shelves were oriental, the people in the store, three of them, were elderly southerners, deep in conversations about family and the past.
I was greeted with an offer of help, which I declined, happy to wander the store exploring the shelves.
The owner is from the Philippines originally, and that influenced, a little, some of the items she stocks.  There is a good representation of other items, though, especially Japanese, Chinese and Thai.  I was a little disappointed to not see many Indian items, but that's not a big deal: there are not too many things I've been unable to find elsewhere.
I did make one find, though.  We've been enjoying smoked trout and smoked mackerel lately, both whole and in a pate: unfortunately, it's apparently unavailable within a 30 mile radius of here, so we have to plan a special trip to buy it.  But the asian store did carry a smoked fish: a fish I'd never heard of before: smoked, boneless milkfish.  In a mood to try something new, I bought a package of it (frozen) along with some other things I was happy to find: wet tamarind, prawn crackers and garlic crackers, sheets for making thai fresh rolls, etc.
Now I just need to find the courage to actually try the new item!
Yours, waiting to report on the flavour later,

Monday, May 16, 2011

Norse Myths

Skibo and LOML and I went to the library on Saturday morning, and found the children's book of Norse myths that I'd been unable to find with Boo on Wednesday.  I read a few stories to them from it on Saturday night, and more on Sunday.  This morning, Boo was coughing badly, and clearly not well, so I stayed home with her, and we read the remaining five or six stories about Thor, Odin and the rest.
Following that, we sat and talked music theory --- or rather, we talked about how to represent the notes played on the piano to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star: I figured out how to use lilypond to produce sheet music with the notes, and the names of the notes, and the lyrics.
All in all, a pretty spectacular morning with my little girl,

Remembering the past

I have to admit that the fact that I've posted every day for a year or more is misleading: I've put posts up several days after their origin....
There are two reasons for this: sometimes I feel very uninspired to post: but at the same time, I do want to keep a record of what I've been doing, and I actually rather like the effort to remember what happened a few days ago.
I write it in the present tense by choice, mainly to preserve a sense of narrative for me when I go back and reread old posts.
A couple of days may bring a little perspective too: but not really very much. True perspective only comes with the years (and probably another person's view of a situation).  And perspective is only worth shining on a few bright shining moments in a few lives: the rest of us and the rest of our times are the filler, the background, the shading, to a larger story.

Yours, filling in a little,

Spring cleaning the windows

My tablet computer had been misbehaving recently, so we've decided it's time to give it a makeover.  Not a new machine, but a complete re-installation from scratch of the operating system.  Now, I've put windows on machines before, and I know how much joy that brings, and in spite of being un-working for the next few weeks (meaning that some days I might not even go into the office at all!) I decided that it was better to get my sysadmin to do the heavy lifting instead: and since he needed to check the registration of my ipad, and also set up a new internal drive for my laptop, I got to give him lots of important busy work to do today.

To give him due credit, he finished two of the tasks, and we'll get the tablet back tomorrow.

Yours, technically speaking,

Sunday, May 15, 2011

First swim of the season

We went out to the vets this afternoon to swim: the first time in the water this year (for me --- Boo and Skibo went in a month or so back).  But despite the warm weather we've had, it was still too cool for me -- I dived in, swam one length, and immediately got out.  Fortunately, standing in the sun was nice and warming, and I didn't get too cold....

Yours, no longer shivering,

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A new restaurant

We heard last week that there is a new Thai restaurant in the next town over, and that it was reasonably good.  Last night we decided to give it a try: Boo was on a sleepover, so LOML, Skibo and I headed down there.
Our first impressions were that it would be okay, but not that much better: the decor is okay, and the staff reasonably quick.  But then the food came: we started with a chicken satay between us, and some tempura shrimp for Skibo.  Surprisingly, he liked the satay too (especially the fact that it came with skewers!) and started right into it.
We were very pleased by the flavour of the satay, and his shrimp were excellent too: cook just to be done through, not overly done and chewy, and the batter was extremely light and crisp.
The restaurant also does sushi, and since that was what I was in the mood for, I ordered a sushi special: LOML ordered a massuman curried chicken, and we waited for a few minutes.  Not long after, our food came out -- including a miso soup and a small salad with the sushi.
Everything was superb: the sushi was very fresh, very tender pieces of fish, beautifully presented: the curry was ordered medium spicy, and that's how it came, and the complex flavours merged and mingled to give a delicious result.
Best of all, when we got the bill, it was not a case of sticker shock.  Everything was reasonably priced, and it tasted great. 

Yours, thinking that perhaps we've found a new favourite restaurant!

Friday, May 13, 2011


Congratulations to all of my students who graduated this morning!  And to anybody else who is graduating around now too!

Yours, celebrating en masse,

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Potluck down the street

For the second week running, we didn't host potluck: of course, that didn't stop us from cooking for it.  Since I was able to take some time off this morning I made fresh pasta, and yesterday I made a nice meat sauce, and LOML constructed a lasagna from it (actually two, one made with gluten free store bought pasta for today's host).  Delicious!

Yours, glad that potluck is finally rotating a bit, but definitely intending to host again,


Tomorrow is graduation, but I think that I prefer the smaller, more intimate, ceremony this evening: the Honors College gave awards to all the Honors students who have completed senior theses this year: and I was able to congratulate many of my favourite seniors.

And it was nice that it was a small enough group that there was time to read a short bio piece about each student.

Yours, celebrating with them,

I Pad

My IPad arrived today!  I had hoped that it would be a little bit more intuitive to begin with -- I was rather surprised, and not a little upset, that I had to load ITunes onto a non-linux machine in order to start the thing up for the very first time --- whatever happened to "it just works out of the box"?

That done, though, it does work.

Yours, playing with a new toy,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Boo's doing well

 LOML and I were delighted to see a letter from Boo's teacher today:

Honestly, Boo has NO weak areas: she is ahead of the game in everything.  I expect her to qualify for Gifted and Talented next year, although I haven't heard anything official.
She picks up on things so quickly and makes great connections. She points things out to me sometimes that I didn't think of. 
Keep enriching her learning by exposing her to cultural, written works, and the wonder of the world around her. 
As parents, you have already done a great job of this.
It has helped to mold her already awesome personaliy.  Keep doing just what you're doing.
I want to meet up with Boo in 10 years and confirm all of my expectations of her.  I have loved her this year.

LOML and I are so proud of our little girl!

Yours, thrilled,

And I didn't!

And I didn't go in to work today, as promised yesterday!  And since I'm not getting paid for the first summer session, I don't consider it playing hookey at all.

Yours, having had a nice relaxing day,

Taking Boo to the library

Boo and I walked to the library this afternoon: we would have taken Skibo too, but he had disappeared for a play date (literally, through a confusion of who had said what, we didn't know he had gone, or where -- though Boo did -- which has led to new rules about parents being told when you are leaving, etc).
The walk was delightful: on the way there, we discussed why Wednesday is called Wednesday, which led to a discussion of the names of all the days of the week, and thence to Norse myths and legends.
On the way home, we discussed the 13 year cicadas who are out at the moment: we talked about their life cycle, the way that they burrow to the roots of a tree and sit there for twelve and a half years, sucking on the rooty goodness: and she absorbed it all, and later took great delight in informing LOML about all these facts (which, I want to add, she got completely right).

At the library itself, she learned how to ask the librarian for help in finding a book, in this case about Norse myths; although they showed a book in stock for young people, we ended up having to borrow an adult book instead: I'll look forward to reading it to her!

Yours, loving how much of a learning-sponge she is right now!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Grades are in!

And having attended a Master's Thesis defense this morning (successful, I am glad to report), I am done for the semester.  At least until Thursday.

Yours, thinking that tomorrow, I might just not go in to work at all.

Monday, May 9, 2011

I love faculty meetings

They just make the time run so much less quickly.  And at this stage of life, that is a blessing, right?

Yours, in snark,

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Law and order

I watched an episode of Law and Order, UK, this evening.  I'm struck by two huge differences between the popular show over here and the British version.  Of course, they have the same theme tune, and the same dramatic structure, but they illustrate two rather significant differences between the two societies.
The first difference is the societal use of CCTV footage.  It is ubiquitas in British society these days, and people seem to be completely accepting of the fact that everywhere they go, they will be filmed.  I suspect that this makes a lot of detective work a lot easier.  It's a development that I'm uncomfortable with, but I understand the impulses which drive a society to make that choice.
The second obvious difference is the compassion showed by the prosecution towards a minor who changes his plea to guilty: advising him to get psychological counselling so that he is not lost in the prison system: it's not the sort of scene I've often seen in US legal dramas.  But in the UK version it's presented as rather a natural inclination of a prosecutor.  I was rather touched by the inclination to try to change behaviour (and punish) rather than just punish it without the attempt at reforming and rehabilitating the individual.

Yours, enjoying the fact that I can appreciate cultural differences like this,

Friday, May 6, 2011


Last night we had carnitas at the potluck.  I looked around the web at a bunch of recipes, and picked various features I liked from several: here is what I actually cooked:

Carnitas, my adaptation of several recipes

6 lb pork shoulder, boneless (I had a few bones I removed)
1 quart chicken stock
Orange juice
Zest of an orange
1 small can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 stick cinnamon
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Cut the pork into 1-2 inch cubes. Put in a heavy pot, add the chicken stock, and enough orange juice to cover the meat.  Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, stir and reduce the heat to simmer.  Simmer uncovered for 3 hours, and add more salt to taste.  The pork should be very tender.

At this point, I still had a lot of liquid left, and the recipe I was using suggested that it should mostly have reduced away by now.  So, instead of slavishly following the recipe, I heated the oven to 450, removed the pork from the liquid, placing it in a roasting dish, and turned the heat on the liquid up to high.
I put the pork into the oven, turning it occasionally, until it crispened up nicely.  When the sauce was reduced to about a cup or two of thick liquid, I added it to the pork, and stirred it to distribute it well.

Served with small corn tortillas, a feast fit for a Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Yours, happy to share my happiness!

Slow as molasses

I just got word this morning that the IPad 2 will not be shipping for a little while; it now appears that it will take 35 days from order to delivery, and since it took several days for the order to be placed after I requested it, it's looking like a total of 8 weeks from start to finish.
It's the sort of service I used to expect in the pre-internet days: nowadays I've been spoiled by quick deliveries, and am typically dismayed when a delivery is going to take more than three or four days. 

Yours, thanking Apple for reminding me that patience, while wearing thin, is still a virtue,

Thursday, May 5, 2011


We've been grilling at work.  Not the sort of grilling that requires a barbecue and charcoal.  No, we've been grilling students.
More specifically, we've been starting to grill PhD students: we have a series of exams which PhD students have to pass before being deemed ready to write a thesis: the first three are written, testing comprehensive knowledge of three important areas; the fourth is an oral exam.
Traditionally, here, it has been a chance for the student to present their understanding of their field, together with partial results they have already obtained.  Grueling, but not too scary.
But recently, we've been trying to beef the fourth exam up: asking more difficult questions, and asking questions unrelated to the topic of the presentation.
Today was my first such exam in the new, more inquisitive format: the student passed, essentially with flying colours, although he may have felt less confidence at the result prior to being informed --- he faced many really hard questions, and demonstrated first hand that saying "I don't know" won't get you failed in an exam.  Several times!

Yours, glad that I didn't have this sort of gauntlet to run,

Happy Cinco De Mayo

We had a lovely potluck this evening: rather than having it here, E&C took on the role of hosts --- and their house is a lovely place to hold it.  A nice crowd turned out: and the food was good too: a lovely mix of mexican and tex-mex dishes.
I went with two salsas: a tomatilla and serrano chile salsa, and a tomato and habanero salsa, with serranos replacing the dangerous fruit: and, as my main dish, a carnitas.
All three dishes went down quite well: especially the carnitas --- spicy, slightly sweet, tender and crispy all at once.  And everyone else's food was equally delicious!
Yours, planning to post recipes soon,

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Another "will this semster ever end?" post

Yet again, the fin de semestre period seems to drag on and on.
And once again, I echo my old, late, friend, John Neff, who at this stage of the semester would utter the immortal words:
"will this semester never end?"
It always did.  And so, I have faith that this one will as well.
Yours, ready,

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


The white horse in the front is the one that Boo and Skibo got to ride on on Saturday.

Yours, thrilled by the fact that they are getting to experience this!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bittersweet, and not a victory, but...

I'm delighted that the NDP in Canada look set to take over a hundred seats tonight: it's bittersweet that the multi-party system looks set to give the Conservatives a majority of the seats with perhaps under 40% of the votes.
I'd have loved to have seen a minority government, with the NDP in solid second place, and an agreement to move towards a more proportional representation system as an outcome.

Yours, enjoying being a remote political junkie,

Civic affairs

LOML and I tossed a mental coin this evening, and I was the one to go: the town is finally discussing a non-smoking ordinance for restaurants and similar businesses, and those in favour wanted a strong turnout.  I wanted to go too, in part because I think that the ordinance is a good thing, but also to let the owners of the restaurant most impacted by this know that we care about their restaurant -- that we want to see them succeed after the ordinance (we hope) passes.
I used to enjoy sitting in the bar area of the restaurant back in the days when I was a smoker.  Two things happened: one, I quit smoking, and two, the ventilation of the smoking section got worse.  I know the reasons for the former change, and can speculate about the reasons for the latter: the result was that about three years after I'd quit smoking, and had continued going down to visit the pub, perhaps once a week, I realised that I hated the way that it made my clothes smell: it was much worse than it had been: obviously, my sense of smell had improved, but I think that the smoke had gotten much worse.
And I wanted to let them know I'd love to come back and be a customer again.

Yours, hoping that the ordinance passes, and that its impact turns out to be surprisingly positive on the restaurants,

Sunday, May 1, 2011


We went to see a local production of the stage version of To Kill A Mockingbird this afternoon.  We know many of the actors, and had been looking forward to the show: and came away incredibly impressed. 
The actor playing Atticus is a good actor --- we already knew that --- but he was magnificent in the role of the lawyer: absolutely convincing as the cool, kind but firm father.  The actress playing Mayella Ewell was outstanding too, as was her younger brother in the role of Jem Finch.  Totally unforced performances, believable and natural.  Scout was played by an eight-year old who shows real promise for the future.
I really enjoy theatrical productions, though we only go a few times a year --- but this production was absolutely outstanding!
We took Boo and Skibo along: I had some qualms ahead of time, but we talked to them about the storyline, and why it's an important play: Boo was thrilled by it, and Skibo, though initially resistant to going, enjoyed much of it. Until he fell asleep, curled up in his chair, during the trial scenes.
LOML and I were both brought to tears at the end, of course: the final few minutes are gut-wrenchingly sad.
Yours, impressed by the calibre of the local company,