Saturday, March 30, 2013

see the care they take with the eggs they make

A while ago I moved all the stuff out of the boys' room downstairs in the hideous dank pit.  I'm going to patch the walls and put the trim around the windows and probably borrow a sprayer to paint the room since there are those stupid pipes running across the ceiling.  About this same time I decided to paint my kitchen cabinets, since I've always sort of hated that they are brown.  Why did I not just get white cabinets to begin with?  Hard to say.  So I did some painting and took some of my doors off to get them ready to be sanded.  Then last week John had to drive the truck to Salt Lake to deliver our old bed to the lady who bought it, and it seemed like such a shame to have the truck so close to Ikea and not bring home the pieces to the wardrobe/armoire I'm putting in my bedroom--we're taking a Pax and making it look built in.  Silk purse out of a sow's ear kind of thing.  Exciting!  So the wardrobe is installed minus the doors, and now we have to put on all the moulding.  Basically I am doing all of the remodeling projects at once so our house can feel as frantic and out-of-sorts as possible for as long as possible.  Once it's all done it's going to be great, maybe.

I ate an egg salad sandwich for breakfast this morning with some of our Easter eggs, and it was a treat.  I love eggs.  Do you guys do presents at Easter?  We don't.  I refuse to allow Easter to become the new Christmas.  Too tired.  However, I could watch the Funny Little Bunnies Disney cartoon a hundred million times and never grow tired of it.  I discovered it at my aunt's house when I was a little girl, and I may have already watched it a hundred million times by now.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

we recommend that you are two people

Please indulge me as I ponder issues of religion and human sexuality.  If this is going to gross you out or enrage you I apologize.  You can check out for a minute if you want.  

I had two friends in choir who were certainly gay by the time I knew them, and I think it was largely for that reason that I never thought that homosexuality was a choice.  I don't think that's unusual for people my age--society's understanding of and beliefs about human sexuality have changed quite a lot in the time I've been alive.  But it's not like I was unusually progressive or anything--I used to parrot the line that homosexuality may not be a choice, but acting upon those desires was.  My brain was still unformed and I was still working things out, so I lumped it in with pre-marital sex, as in yeah, you might really want to do it, but you can't right now, and you're the master of your body, so . . . just don't.  As I got older I realized what a simplistic view that was.  I still believe that you are the master of your body, but my word is there ever a difference between being told "not right now" and "not right now, not for your mortal life, and maybe not ever for the rest of eternity."  "Not right now" is plenty difficult by itself, as all the pregnant Mormon teenagers can tell you.  But "Not ever?"  Boy.  Can it be done?  Maybe, I don't know.  Is it my business?  Nope.

Here is my interpretation of Mormon theology/doctrine as it applies to this topic, and it is by no means going to be complete:  We believe that our spirits, souls if you will, are eternal, in that what makes you you, your essence, does not die.  The purpose of life is that these eternal spirits come to earth, are given a physical body, learn to choose good over evil, and return to heaven (there's a lot more after that, but it is not germane to today's discussion).  The purpose of sex, or procreation as we call it in Mormondom, is twofold--for enjoyment/bonding and for creating bodies for other spirits so that those spirits can continue along their path.  The ability to create a body is a monumental responsibility and is not to be used carelessly or selfishly.  With this in mind, you can see why perhaps orthodox Mormons might have even more of a problem with homosexuality than other faiths, who simply believe that homosexuality is wrong because the Bible says so or whatever--I think Mormons feel in a way as though homosexual couples are denying their unborn spiritual brothers and sisters the chance to have bodies.  Why this might be considered worse than bringing a baby into the world and doing a crap parenting job I'm not sure.  They should be equally important.  I'm not asking you to believe this or agree with it, I'm just giving some context.

So there's that.  But there's also the fact that, as the primary song says, "Jesus says love everyone; treat them kindly too."  So which doctrine takes precedence?  Probably the treating people kindly one.  And what about that whole "not ever" problem?  Is sexuality an eternal characteristic of the spirit?  Sometimes people are told that their burdens will be taken from them in the afterlife, but they consider their homosexuality to be not a burden, but a key component of their identity.  What about that?  I figure we stop worrying about it since it's really none of our beeswax, is it?  Consenting adults of sound mind, blah blah blah.  And I don't know that I think that sexuality is binary anyway.  The Kinsey scale on the surface makes a good deal of sense to me, with people spread along the scale, with more people on the hetero side, but not all hanging out at the extreme end, for example.

I think you just have to decide if you believe that someone being homosexual causes harm to themselves or other people.  Does it really?  If not, then you can't tell them they can't be married. There are certainly a lot of straight marriages that are ruining the idea of marriage for all of us already.  If people didn't want the gummint making rules about marriage that they don't agree with, then they shouldn't have let the gummint get involved with it in the first place.  Maybe a lot of this fighting could have been prevented if all along there had been two equally protected/valid options for joining yourself to another human being; one religious and one civil.

I think DOMA is going to be struck down, and what reasoning they use for striking it is going to affect how they deal with Prop. 8, I think.  For example, if they decide that DOMA was an overreach of federal power, then that would indicate that Prop. 8 has be repealed by the citizens of California.  From my limited understanding of the situation that seems possible.  It will be interesting to see how it all pans out.

Anyway, there are my somewhat scattered thoughts about some of it.  We're all on this crazy rock together and whatnot.  Let me know if/when you want to talk about the weirdness of scouting.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

day 11 of my australia trip

This day was absolutely jam-packed. We were given a number of recommendations in addition to the chocolate factory, so we had to use our time wisely. We got up and packed, then went down to the mill to check out of our cottage. The owner wanted to show us around the accommodations at the mill, and she yakked and yakked and was super weird and we were glad we had stayed at the cottage instead of the mill. She was pretty in love with the fact that she could pronounce some French words in a very pretentious and off-putting way, bless her heart.

We had breakfast at the Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm, which was very good, with beautiful, huge, sweet raspberries. Then we went to the Ashgrove Cheese Factory, which has some heavenly cheeses, one with pepper berries in it from a native Tasmanian tree. I loved it the most and would have bought a hundred of it if there were a way to transport it home. Next we went to the House of Anvers chocolate factory and bought some delicious, really unusual chocolates and saw the chocolate sculpture that is the size of a human child--not a baby, a grade-schooler.
Then we drove up to the coast to the beach and walked on the sand, waded a bit, collected shells, and admired the indescribably gorgeous water. Tasmania is so, so beautiful. 
Next we drove to Latrobe to look for platypuses in the river, but it was the middle of the day and fairly warm, so nopes. We did see some taxidermied platypuses, and it was cool to feel their soft fur and see their venomous spurs. Then we went back through Deloraine to eat at the restaurant we'd been eyeing since Saturday night, but we had to kill an hour before they started dinner service, so we drove down to the riverbank. Elaine wrote postcards, I fell asleep in the sun and got burned again, and Claire looked for platypuses. Suddenly she came running up and said, "You guys! I found one!" So we hurried down to the shady part of the river, where we stood quietly and watched for a few minutes, and then WE SAW A PLATYPUS IN ITS NATIVE HABITAT. He was swimming back and forth in the river, bobbing in and out of the water, and then he got out on the opposite bank and lay on his back and gave himself a good long scratch. He seemed very content, and he was quite big, much bigger than Groceries. Just when I think this vacation can't get any better, BAM, second encore. I can't believe how lucky we were.
We went to the restaurant and ordered our food in a hurry. The best of all our three dishes was the blue cheese gnocchi that Elaine got, which was the most delicious gnocchi I have ever eaten; light and fluffy, with an amazing, perfect sauce. It's so funny to me that a sleepy little town like Deloraine has such a stellar restaurant. Yet another reason we need to move there.

We drove back to Launceston and caught our flight with no problems. I did a very good job of driving on the left side of the road, with only a few minor reversions to American driving that didn't cost us our lives or anything, so no worries.   
On our flight back we almost had to have a fight with a rude lady in front of Elaine who slammed her seat back quite painfully into Elaine's legs, and then had the juevos to turn around and complain that she kept feeling Elaine's knees in her back, and told her to stop moving them. But then after the flight when she saw how long Elaine's legs are she apologized. So that was okay.

Nate picked us up so we wouldn't have to get a cab. Claire went in and peeked at Owen when we got home, and he screamed like a banshee at her and wouldn't let her hold him until Nate came to get him.  I think he has forgiven her now, though.  Silly baby.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

day 10 of my australia trip

Well, it was another perfect day, so I guess we better move to Tasmania, Deloraine to be specific. This morning we went to church. Our house is only a block or two from the church building, and it was a nice morning, so we walked.
As soon as we sat down we were greeted by the girl who seated us at the restaurant where we got the gelato last night. She introduced us to her mother and sister, and Jane, the mother, invited us over for lunch after church. Sacrament was nice, with some good talks, and we had good lessons in the other classes as well. We were trying to find a man for Elaine to marry so we could come to Tassie to visit, but so far no luck. We'll have to keep looking.

When we got home there was an enormous spider on the ceiling in the kitchen, and you should know that we totally lost our stuff and panicked like it was going out of style.  Elaine was the bravest, which worked out nicely because she is also the tallest, and she stood on a chair and smashed the spider with her shoe.  It exploded and sent bits of itself all over the kitchen.  Disgusting.  There was a fair amount of shrieking.  
Tayla, the girl from church who had seated us at the restaurant, came and picked us up and brought us to their house. We had French toast with cream and ice cream and berries, then Drumsticks, then fun-size candy bars, so basically a three-course dessert meal. Delicious, but that is a lot of sugar. We had a lovely conversation with them--they have a son on a mission in the Philippines who loves fly fishing, and he'll be home in May, so they offered to have him take Nate out if Claire comes back with her family, which of course she wants to do--we all do. I seriously want to move here. Can you see that I am serious? We also made arrangements to meet up again later in the evening so Tayla could show us the way out to her aunt and uncle's house in the country so we could perhaps see a platypus--they are also members of the Deloraine ward and Deidre had also invited us over for lunch (and had said we would get a better meal if we came to her house--meow!).

After lunch we drove over near Launceston to see Cataract Gorge, which is a beautiful canyon that reminded me a bit of Box Elder Canyon, only of course much bigger. We rode a chair lift that takes you all the way across so you can look down at the beautiful scenery. There are a lot of clipped lawns and a playground and a pool, so it would be a great place to go for a family reunion, if you're interested. We also crossed a suspension bridge. I have been so brave about conquering my fears on this trip. I grabbed some leaves from an arborvitae-looking thing for Grandma BB. We saw a wallaby on the lawn as we were leaving, and talked with some women about the pros and cons of eating roos, and one of them said it was good meat and worth trying, but the other one said she refused to eat anything from the coat of arms--no roos, and no emus. So Britons shouldn't eat lions or unicorns, I guess.

After the gorge we drove back to Deloraine and met Tayla and followed her out to the aunt and uncle's nice little farmhouse in the most beautiful setting, with a breathtaking view. They used to be dairy farmers, but now they just have a handful of sheep and Angus steers that they raise for meat. They are the cleanest dairy farmers I've ever met, I'll tell you that right now. We walked up the hill and looked at the place where they want to build a guest house and met their cows and their bull, who walked up right at the end and we decided we would leave. 
Then when Kim got home Tayla and her friend left and Claire and Elaine and I got into the 4-wheel drive with Kim and Deidre and they took us on a tour of the bush area near their house. We looked for a long time at the river, trying to see a platypus, but were not successful.  

When we got back from the drive Kim and Deidre cooked us some pinkeye potatoes, which are a Tasmanian potato with pale yellow flesh and thin white skin with pinkish-purple swirls on it. When they heard what we had eaten for lunch they felt sorry for us and got out all their dinner leftovers so we could have some meat and vegetables. Deidre made a lemon custard in her fancy, incredibly expensive German cooking blender thingie called a Thermomix.  It's basically a spaceship. We had a great conversation with them as well, about farming and nutrition and all the things I love to talk about, so I was like a pig in slop. They have a very interesting life story. They're coming to the U.S. in July, and I really hope they contact us. Oh! I almost forgot--when I told them that John could take them on a tour of temple square because he works for the church, Elaine mentioned that he also sings in an a cappella group. Deidre asked, "Did they make a CD? Called Hims?" We said yes, and she said she'd just been listening to it that afternoon, and it had made her cry. In the words of the Mad Hatter, what a small world this is.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

put my thing down flip it and reverse it

Shall we talk about something trivial?  Yes, let's.

Peanut butter and jam sandwiches:  Why do people keep doing them wrong?  I hate when people stand on principle and do the barest skiff of peanut butter and jam.  If you really care about being healthy you're not eating a PBJ anyway, so don't be a jerk.  Fill the sandwich.

I think supreming is the best way to eat grapefruit.  It's a time-sucking pain and no mistake, but it's the only way I can glut out on grapefruit like I want.  I want my mouth FULL of grapefruit, and you can't get a mouthful when you cut it in half!  And those refrigerated cups of sections and juice are an abomination that taste like poison.  Supreming:  do it.

I could save a bunch of money by building my own armoire for my bedroom if only I had the very expensive tools that are necessary to do the job.

Have you been telling yourself you're a good parent?  Well, unless your kids know where their grandparents were raised, you're blowing it.  The NYT says so.  You should probably start telling your kids some boring stories about what you wore to the first day of kindergarten, or how your mom smashed plums all over her neighbor's sidewalk.  Do we have a strong family narrative?  I think so.  I hope so.  I think our family definitely has a personality--is that good too?  Probably depends on what that personality is.

I just got done reading The White Plague, and that combined with the general state of our world is a REAL DOWNER.  Just sayin'.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

day 9 of my australia trip

Eye hath not seen nor ear heard the mind-boggling awesomeness of this day. Wait until I tell you; you will plotz.

First, we caught our flight with no problems, the seats were squishy and made us thankful to not fly Jetstar with any kind of regularity, and the flight was quick and uneventful.

When we got to Launceston we stopped for breakfast at a place called Cafe Mondello. Claire got Eggs Benedict, Elaine got Eggs SS (smoked salmon instead of ham), and I got baked beans with poached eggs, spinach, and a fried tomato. It was good. I bought an Anzac biscuit that I couldn't finish because I was still sweeted out from Owen's birthday cake last night.

We decided to drive all the way down to the south end of the island to go to the Bonarong Wildlife Sanctuary, because Elaine's friend had gone there on a cruise shore excursion and recommended it very highly. Children, I do not have words. You pay your money, only $24, and for that you get entry to the park, a tour, and a sack of kangaroo food. We fed actual kangaroos, and they came up and ate the food right from our hands! We fed a mother whose joey was nursing while we fed her, and few males, and then another mother whose joey was all stuffed in the pouch with one of his legs hanging out. It was so cool! They have soft fur, but not a lot of fat, so they don't feel all cuddly like a cat or dog. They remind me of deer.
Then we did the tour. The keeper showed us the baby wombat first. Its mother had been hit by a car, and luckily somebody checked her pouch and found the baby wombat inside. Evidently wombats are the most aggressive marsupials they have--they seem all slow and cuddly, but they are fast and territorial and fierce and destructive. They stay with their mothers until they're about two years old, when they start trying to defend the territory from her, at which point she throws them out. So they're solitary in the wild. They have a big patch of cartilage on their hindquarters so it doesn't hurt to be bitten or scratched there. We got to pet it on the back. They get released slowly back into the wild, getting a chance to find their own territory so they don't encroach on another wombat and have to fight it. This one is named Ben, and he's still pretty friendly and will let the keeper hold him. He'll stay there for a little while, and then they'll start releasing him once he starts defending his pen from the keepers.
Then we saw the devils. The keeper fed them dead baby chicks and other animal pieces, just a snack because they are nocturnal and typically eat at night. One of them steals all the food and has gotten all chubby because she's following the wild devil instinct to gorge whenever there is food, because you never know how long it is until the next meal. In the wild they are shy and hide from people, but these were much more . . . friendly isn't the right word, I guess. We'll call it approachable. They are fast little buggers, and they growl at each other when they want the same thing. One of the most dangerous dogs to a devil is the Jack Russell terrier, because they were bred to go down holes and kill vermin, and the devil isn't actually very good at defending itself, even though their bite strength is six times greater than a pit bull's, about as strong as a lion or crocodile.
Next we saw the koala. Earlier while we were walking around Claire and I saw a koala walking around on some branches, and then it jumped with a big thud onto the ground right in front of us and walked around to the back of the enclosure and started scratching itself. I've never seen a koala move so much! The one the keeper brought out wasn't quite so peppy, but it did move around and scratch itself for us, and we all got to pet its little back. They are very soft. Koalas are not native to Tasmania, because when all the other animals were migrating there during the last ice age there wasn't enough variety of eucalyptus to sustain them. There are only a handful of types of eucalyptus in Tasmania, and the keeper said that is enough for koalas born and raised in Tasmania, but not enough for koalas who are used to more. Koalas are quite picky and only eat the ends of the leaves, and then only if they taste just exactly right. You would need 1000 eucalyptus trees to keep one koala for one year.

This was pretty much the coolest zoo/animal thing I've ever done. I'm happy that not many people get to Tasmania, because I bet if it were more crowded they would stop letting people get so close to the animals. I am so glad we went there. It's definitely a highlight of my trip.

After Bonarong we started north again on our way to our house. We had mediocre food at a sad little pub in Ross which was our only option because lunch places close at two or five, and dinner places don't open until six.

We got to our house when it was getting dark. It's just a cute little 60s house in a quiet neighborhood. We had to hurry to grab some groceries for Sunday before Woolworth's closed, and on our way home we saw a restaurant that served gelato and decided to stop. As soon as we walked in we regretted our earlier dinner decision, because it smelled so good in there. We each got a scoop of gelato and shared a vanilla slice, which was delicious, the exact kind of thing I want a bakery/patisserie to make, because unlike a stupid cupcake, I'm not going to make a vanilla slice or Napoleon at home.

Monday, March 18, 2013

day 8 of my australia trip

We went to the Taronga Zoo yesterday. It's a pretty cool zoo, very big, and they have some animals I haven't seen elsewhere. Tree kangaroos are apparently a thing that exists, and I guess I should probably have one.

They also have a seal show, not quite as impressive as one at Sea World, but fun. 
We missed the Tasmanian devil keeper talk, but I was still able to find someone who could tell me about the facial cancer that all the Tassie devils are dying from. It's gross and disfiguring and fatal once they catch it, with no known treatment. They think the devils will be extinct in the wild within 15-25 years if they aren't able to find a cure. Sad! They have a neat bird show, and there is an Andean condor, which I have never seen. What an impressive bird. 
And I finally saw a platypus! It's small, not quite as big as Rex, and it just swam circles over and over in its tank. It's pretty cute. 
We saw some alligators, and rode a sky ride that takes you over the whole park, and we saw a pond of the most enormous koi you can imagine. They were seriously like a meter long. We did not fall into the alligator swamp.
When we got home we got takeaway Thai food from the place across the street. We got satay, roti duck, larb, and a beef stir fry. The restaurant smelled a little bit like when someone doesn't bathe their dog enough, but the food was delicious, especially the duck. Then we celebrated Owen's birthday for serious with that yummy but deadly cake. Then we packed our stuff for TASMANIAAAAAAAA!

Friday, March 15, 2013

you know how his arm normally bends like this?

I flew a little too close to the sun yesterday, and have the backache to prove it.  But we made a mess of pies, and I do mean mess.  You should see my kitchen.  It looks like a garbage truck ate a hoarder in the baking aisle and then burst.

I could not resist the allure of the mini pie, and bought some of those cheap aluminum ones to tide me over until I can find/afford some glass ones.  I made a double batch of dough and divided it up into portions so each person could do their own crust and filling.  Grant did banana cream, as I knew he would, Emmett did chocolate chess, Ike did strawberry cream (which was literally just cut up strawberries and whipped cream on top--he would not listen to reason and include any vanilla filling), Willa did banana cream, John did apple, and I did lemon meringue.  They were the cutest pies ever, so precious you would probably weep and gibber at the sight of them.  I should have taken pictures to share with you, but I was so exhausted I could barely stand.  Because remember I also made shepherd's pie which, I'll say it, was fabulous, and a big apple pie for Grant to take to his math class.  I did a lattice top for it, which I realize is not traditional, but I made one for the first time last week and am drunk with the power of the lattice.

Now I can experiment with more uncommon flavors and not feel torn about losing a pie slot to something that might be a disappointment.  You don't want to blow pie day.  The mini pie plates have opened so many doors for me.  It's a door, and I went through it!  It kindled in me an unquenchable fire for permanent mini pie plates, and they will be mine.  When I went to San Francisco Jennifer and I saw some mini bamboo steamers that were just like the ones I carry my pies in now, and I almost bought them then, because can you IMAGINE how cute a MINI PIE in a MINI STEAMER BASKET would be?  I can't handle the glory of it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

pi(e) day 2013

Okay, I have to know:  is anybody making pies today?  Which ones?  I think I'll make shepherd's pie for dinner, with a rosti top instead of mashed potatoes, because the rosti is a better fit texturally.  If I get an uncharacteristic burst of afternoon energy I might try to tackle empanadas, but I don't see that happening.  I guess I could do quiche, but John is not a fan.  For dessert I think I'll make two pies--Emmett really wants chocolate chess, and I'm tempted to indulge him because it's the only pie he'll eat because he's broken inside.  For the other one I know Grant would want banana cream, but then that's two really sweet, rich pies, and I want something brighter like lemon or apple.  What to do?  It is a conundrum, to be sure.  I wish I had a whole bunch of small pie plates, so everybody could make their own pie . . . that would be the coolest.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

day 7 of my australia trip

We went to Bondi beach, and it was a perfect, wonderful day. The sand is the color of light brown sugar, and the water is a deep teal greeny-blue, and just the right temperature--a bit chilly getting in, but as soon as you're wet it's fine. I tried boogie boarding, and caught the wave at just the right point a couple of times. I was so brave, you guys. There are sharks at Bondi, you know. A few years ago a guy got his arm bitten CLEAN OFF. I wished so much that you were there with me, even though that would probably have killed my buzz because instead of being carefree I would have spent the whole day counting. So let's go to Bondi beach sometime when you guys are old enough for me not to worry about you anymore. You would have loved bodysurfing in the waves. It was so, so great. For the first time as an adult I could understand why people are so cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs about the beach. Again--that's probably because I wasn't responsible for any small, easily drowned and eaten bodies.

We ate at a place near the beach called Hurricane something or other, and shared calamari and a great salad and a rack of ribs that were very good. Then we came home and got cleaned up and it turns out that our Ocean Potion sunscreen may in fact be slow-release sunburn cream, because I am fried, and everybody else is fine (they used Claire's sunscreen).

We made Owen's birthday cake last night, and some turrible cute marzipan animals that I will show to you on Skype.
He is one today, although technically he isn't really one yet, because he was born in the States, and it's still yesterday there. I guess we're teaching him to lie about his age already.

UPDATE:  That cake was really something.  Moist, delicious, all that jazz, but there were six sticks of butter in the frosting alone.  We cut tiny little slivers of it, and not a single one of us could finish a slice.  Too rich.  It was very surprising, coming from Martha.  You'd think she would have been more subtle.  Claire and Elaine and I all agreed that we could see how with even tiny adjustments you could really improve the edibility of the cake.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

day 6 of my australia trip

We got up nice and early to go meet Elaine at the airport, and when we got there we saw that the flight had been delayed by 45 minutes, so Claire drove around with the kids while I waited for the plane. When Elaine got there we drove back to the apartment, then Elaine and I went shopping. I took her to the store where I'd bought my ivory high-heeled oxfords the day before, and she bought two very cute pairs of flats. Then we went to the kitchen store and I bought the knife I'd been eyeing. We took our purchases back to the apartment and set out for the city. Elaine and I took public transit on our own, without even Claire along to help guide us, and we CRUSHED IT. We tramped all over looking for a place to buy Grant's present, then we started for the garden and got pide along the way, which is like if a calzone had a baby with a gyro. Tasty. We walked through St. Mary's cathedral on our way to the garden, which was stunning. No pictures of that, because A: I didn't have my camera, and B: not allowed. The stained glass was gorgeous. Then we went to the botanical gardens.

They were huge and pretty, and there is a pine tree there called the Wollemi Pine that everybody thought had gone extinct millions of years ago, until some guy found one in the Blue Mountains. Oh, Australia, you crazy cat. Then we walked over to the opera house. 

I took a picture of the bathroom sink because I am into bathrooms, and this one was super cool--the water just runs off the back of the sink in such a way that it looks like it would run all over the floor, but it's an ILLUSION!

After that we started toward our bus stop, took a wrong turn, backtracked, then walked past the bus stop because we were led astray by a well-meaning but confused local, eventually got on the right bus and ruled the public transit once again. Then we came home and ate grilled sausages, and Claire made pavlova for dessert. I could eat a hundred of pavlova. We also had to open one of the candy bars and start eating it, because it was in the window and got kind of melty. Sorry, kids. Basically I walked a jillion miles today, so I guess I can do what I want.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

sometimes it's just crazy in there

By the way, all my bees are dead.  I opened up the hive the other day when I was out doing yard work (it was still a little too cold to be comfortable  working outside, but I can't be cooped up in the house one second longer, I'm sure you understand) and there were all my bees in an inert, crunchy pile on the floor of the hive.  Why do bees hate us so much?  They didn't even drink any of the sugar syrup I made for them, which was way before it got super cold.  Are they too stupid to live, or is my yard so distasteful they'd rather die than live here?  There are fruit trees and flowers and indigenous plants and dandelions in abundance, WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME BEES?  What rotten luck.  This is two years in a row, if anybody's counting.  Shall I try again?  I'm not sure what your advice is, but I think I will try again.  I'm sure it will only take three or four more hivefuls of dead bees before I have a breakthrough.

John and I took Grant to The Hobbit last night, and I enjoyed it and didn't really mind the creative license that was taken with the story.  It was a romp, if a bit heavy-handed with the use of slow-mo. I hope the Necromancer is happy with himself, now that he's unleashed the Witch King of Angmar.  Gosh, don't people ever get tired of unwittingly releasing evil into the world?  Did we learn nothing from Pandora?

Hazel and Sally are back, hooray!  We had to schlep through a sea of steer effluent to get to Hazel, which made me count my blessings that we didn't get that Charolais steer we were wanting last fall.  Steers are a real problem.  It's poop on a whole different scale from what I'm used to.  Hazel and Sally are a little bit suspicious of me since they've been gone so long, so yesterday I went out there and sat in the pen by them until they came up to me and let me pet them, and I think we're going to be just fine.  I have to say, I did a really good job of turning a sow's ear into a silk purse with Sally.  She could have been a real stinker, and was certainly headed that way, but I muscled through it and spent hour upon hour with her, and she is quite a good little girl now.  Constant vigilance!  Or something.

Friday, March 8, 2013

I'd like to publicly dedicate the performance of this song to my brother

A couple of things:

The Smothers Brothers are so funny, and I feel bad that I've spent this much of my life not knowing that.  Our new outfit (that's what people around here call motor vehicles sometimes) has satellite radio, and of course I'm on the comedy station like flies on a gutwagon, and have had the opportunity to hear an Andy Griffith bit, the wonderful Brian Regan, and I've now discovered the Smothers Brothers.  I love them.  I laughed so hard the first time I heard their "Streets of Laredo" bit.

I got an email from the America's Test Kitchen people, and those fools think I'm going to make their banana bread recipe that calls for a banana juice reduction.  For crying out loud.  Whose life is so empty that they need to be adding an extraneous reduction step to what is basically a mix and dump recipe?  Can we just agree that the Braddock Tavern recipe from the comment section of that one post over on Tipsy Baker (scroll down--the commenter is Sarah Policastro, whom I don't know but am forever indebted to) is the best and get on with our lives?  I don't think it can be improved upon, I really don't.  It's so moist and custardy, with the perfect amount of banana flavor.  With or without chocolate chips, it is wonderful.  Make it.

Enjoy your Friday!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

day 5 of my australia trip

Yesterday I wanted to explore Claire's neighborhood, so that's what I did. I wandered all around and looked in all the cute stores. There is a tiny little chocolate shop that makes beautiful chocolates, which I know Elaine will also want to visit. I went to a froufy kitchen store that was a lot like Sur la Table and was sorely tempted to buy a big eight-inch Shun cook's knife that was on sale because they had sold some of the other pieces in the block. I went to a linen store and a shoe store where they had a number of Chelsea boots, but none that were quite right for my purposes. I went to a couple of bookstores and got a book about a cow dog that (spoiler alert) ends sadly. Then I went to the grocery store and wandered up and down the aisles, marveling. I bought a goodly amount of candy for the kids, much Cadbury chocolate, proper Cadbury chocolate, made by Cadbury and not outsourced to Hershey, as I have heard Cadbury is in the U.S., which explains why I can no longer eat the Cadbury creme egg.  It makes my teeth hurt.  I bought some licorice all-sorts, which I have always regarded with suspicion, because they seem like they'd be all fruity, and I don't want them to be fruity.  But they were so very, very good.  They looked like stripey little petits fours, and I ate too many of them, which wasn't bad, because I don't get sick on licorice like I do on other sweets.
Then I met up with Claire, who was coming home from the library. We went to the kebab place near the bus stop and got Doner kebabs so I could be friends with dad, who ate them all the time on his mission. Then we all had naps. When I woke up I went out wandering some more. The grocery store across the street is muy caro (that means expensive), and they have mounds and mounds of wonderful cheeses. I bought presents for almost everybody but Grant, and then we came home.  We walked home through the neighborhood, and there are a couple of crazy, huge trees that look like their roots are above the ground.  They look like Augra from The Dark Crystal (again with that movie) and they're all full of what look like and probably are funnel web spiders DANGER and there is a sign that warns of attacking magpies that will swoop down and try to peck your eyes out.

Then I tended Norah and Owen while Claire and Nate went out to dinner. Owen went to bed and Norah and I ate popcorn and watched The Lorax, which was Norah's choice.  I decided I couldn't force my worldview upon a toddler who didn't even belong to me, so I just accepted it.  If you force yourself to think of it as a movie that exists in an alternate universe from the book it is not as terrible as I feared it might be, but even so the fact that a Lorax movie exists, complete with merchandising tie-ins like orange Lorax pancakes at IHOP, is so thneedlike that it might make the universe implode. Claire and Nate had a fancy dinner and enjoyed it a lot, I think.  The restaurant is right on the beach inside an old mission-style building.  I think it's called The Bathers' Pavilion.  

Monday, March 4, 2013

some of the men, not me, are wondering

Are you ever at the grocery store buying stuff, and as you're selecting some grocery item you know  deep inside that you're going to end up not using it, then throwing it out after it rots?  I do that all the time.  Mostly with produce, because it goes bad the fastest.  Not too long before I left for Australia I bought some yellow squash and bell peppers for something I was going to make, and as I was putting them in the bag a little voice inside me went, "Not a chance."  But I bought them anyway, and last night I threw them away because they were covered in furry black mold.  It's neat being able to tell the future.  I won't cheapen my gift by doing it for money, though, so don't even ask.

I'm beginning to wonder if my basement will ever be anything other than a dank pit.  My glimmer of hope is fading, fading.  I know some people who actually took a jackhammer and busted their cement basement floor out, dug down a foot or two, and then put a new floor in.  That sounds time-consuming, irritating, and expensive.  But at the end, you can stand all the way up in the basement, which seems like a good thing.

I made pavlova for dessert last night and tonight, because I didn't get to eat nearly enough of it in Australia.  I think I'm good for a while now, because I feel like the pavlova is bursting out of my stomach back up my esophagus.  Oops, too much.

I had to get a filling today.  This is how you know that I am selfless, because everybody knows that once you have kids your teeth go to crap, and yet I still had children, FOUR of them, and sure enough, now my teeth are falling apart.  Have I told you about my tooth complex?  I have beautiful teeth, I'll say it plain and simple, and one of the hurdles I had to get over when I was dating John was the fact that he had multiple fillings.  I felt like I was compromising my perfect dental integrity. I have overweening regard for my teeth.  And now I'm one of the porcelain-filled plebes, BOO.

Where do you think is the best place to get patterned, ivory-colored stockings?  This is a sincere question.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

oops, I left out a bunch of day 2 of my australia trip

This was a really long email home, and when I copied it over I missed a bunch of it.  So, here's the rest of day 2.

(When we last saw our heroes, they had just visited the Australian Museum . . .)

After the museum Claire and Norah and I went over to Chinatown for lunch, and Nate and Owen came down and met us. We had a yummy lunch, with the most delicious steamed pork dumplings I have had ever ever ever.  I could eat a hundred of pork dumplings. For dessert we tried the Lamington I bought from Pieface, which tastes about like you'd think a pastry from a chain store would taste--Dad would hate it--and then we bought some weird pastries from a Chinese bakery. The lemon roll was good, there were some other cakey things that were not as good, and I got a glutinous rice thing, that is like a ball of sticky rice paste filled with taro and rolled in coconut. It wasn't bad. While we were eating and walking around in Chinatown there was a crowd of men banging drums and three Chinese dragons that went up and down the streets dancing and making noise and setting off fireworks. I assume it's because it's close to the Chinese new year, but I am a silly Anglo and might not know what I'm talking about.  It was really fun to watch them.

After lunch we walked through Hyde Park again, and tried to go and see inside a big cathedral downtown, but it was closed for a wedding. Then we went to another big fancy mall and I saw lots of shoes and purses that I liked. Nate took the kids home and Claire and I went to a bookstore and saw some very depressing books for children, one of which told the story of a man who washes up on an island and the islanders keep him naked in a cage and eventually send him out into the ocean and set fire to the boat of the fisherman who told the people they should take the man in and take care of him.  It was a downer.  

Then Claire and I went to the grocery store, which I loved, and we came home and Claire made hot sour soup for dinner. It was delicious, as good as any I've had.  Normally hot sour soup is like, meh, I'd rather be eating something else.  Good job, Claire.  I want your recipe.  Then we watched Jaws and read a bunch of stuff about shark attacks and watched shark videos on the internet, then we went to bed.