All is merry and bright

  1. Paul gave me and Jeff motion detector lights; the upgetting to pee is now a lot easier.  Paul’s approach to Christmas gifts is to buy a bag of useful objects and let you pick which one you like – this year the theme was light, so it was headlamp, motion detector light or keychain flashlight.
  2. I was really resentful about ‘having’ to do Christmas dinner, and then I asked myself what it would take to be less resentful.  I immediately thought “If I don’t have to buy the turkey and lug it home!”  To which Paul happily agreed, and Keith lugged it over here.  Resentment vanished, I went to Granville Island with Tammy for the rest of the veg and happily lugged that home.
  3. I made vegan squash soup – there wasn’t enough for everybody and it was damned good.
  4. so much good beer – pumpkin ale, winter ale, shipwreck IPA! Tammy brought some nice wine.
  5. The turkey was good – the meat delicious, the skin like an advertisement – but what was really amazing was the gravy. I ended up eating it cold as a side for leftover pie, and it was SO GOOD.  It was pan dripping gravy.  I stuck the pan drippings in a blender, added a tablespoon of cake flour and about half a cup of milk, blended the shit out of it and then nuked it for a minute.  From such pedestrian beginnings came a voluptuously smooth gravy with a meaty and almost nutty flavour.
  6. Mike and Tammy and Paul and Katie and Keith and I sang and played afterwards, and Alex grooved along.  He really really likes music, and he is most fabulously strong.  He apparently likes his Christmas present, which was a stuffed T Rex. Paul introduced Tammy to Never Set the Cat on Fire, which was wonderful.
  7. Wine was spilled on Granny’s linen tablecloth… horrors! and it came out again the next morning with some Amaze.  Tablecloth is clean, folded and ready for use.
  8. Earlier this week I got the lobster dinner I have been drooling for, except it was lunch, and it was with Tammy, so it was pretty much perfect.
  9. Although the kitchen is once again the habitation of orcs this morning, I HAD cleaned up and ran a dishwasher and got rid of the empties and straightened out the living room the next morning and returned some sanity to the proceedings.
  10. Today I hope to get cat litter.  With two cats, more shit.  It is the law.
  11. Autumn is a boy.  He is now Buster.  Jeff and I are fine with this, but not fine with not noticing earlier.  He will be snipped in a week or so.
  12. He has been to the vet for suturing because he’s already gotten in fights. Margot was disturbed by him before, but with a cone on his head she is Miss Hissy each time he approaches.
  13. I am really enjoying everybody’s pics of how happy their Christmas has been.  The various traditions from around the world and around the various ethnicities of my friends and flist make me happy in their variety and conviviality.
  14. I am sad to have missed Christmas Eve service because it was the last time a certain church member will ever provide music for us, because he is awesome, but also sick.  As sad as I am about this, I made happy memories in my own home with my loves and kin.
  15. Keith was sober, and he was Mom’s taxi.  He: ferried Tammy to and from Edmonds, drove his sister home, drove Rob to Church and drove Mike and his Dad home.  As happy as I was to see Alex, Keith did a lot to make the evening perfect, and I am now considering (which I can do here, since he never reads my blog, haw haw) how I shall appropriately reward him for his service.
  16. A car was stolen from in front of our house at 3:30 am Christmas morning.  I spoke to a Burnaby RCMP officer about it… Jeff and I were asleep at the time, or in no position to see what was happening.  I thanked her for working Christmas Day and wished for her to stay safe out there.
  17. I made chocolate cake.  I am thinking perhaps cinnamon rolls later. The turkey soup is made and in the freezer.

This concludes my report….

quhat a day

Quhat being Scots dialect for What.

The night before I didn’t contact the volunteers.  I was SO anxious and phobic that I literally could not pick up the phone.  (Most of the time I’m not affected by anxiety to that extent but making phone calls is really hard for me, and I’m trying to work out why.)  I realized that I was a wreck and went to bed.  I got up at 4:30 am, picked out and edited the poem I read for the children’s story, printed it, edited the homily a couple of times more for clarity and accuracy and printed it, went through the undifferentiated piles of emails that are the complete mess that is cooperative ministry right now and found to my surprise that I did in fact know who all the volunteers were (amusingly, Paul was supposed to do set up this weekend but he left town… Luc covered him) and they were all sober and reliable people who of course all showed up.  So my list of cooperative ministry (the volunteers who bop about the church and make things happen on Sunday morning, from the extremely amazing Sally (aesthetics) to the extremely amazing Laura (coffee) was actually accurate!

I even put in all the announcements that Rev Katie emailed me, AND put in a different graphic for the front cover AND got the order of service printed all by about 7:30.  Then I packed everything up, had a shower, and realizing I had a WHOLE HOUR before I had to get to church, so I did the sensible thing and made Jeff waffles for brekky.

Saw Margot crawl into the garden plot and flatten herself to the ground to become ‘invisible’ waiting for the juncos to come back through the quinoa.  Sorry kiddo… you ARE NOT invisible.

Went to church under overcast skies – I was the first person there so there’s that great feeling of unlocking all the doors and turning on all the lights

It’s time to play the music

It’s time to light the lights

It’s time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight.

That kind of feeling, and then getting out the mats for the kids to sit on and helping set up the table for the altar and hauling out the podium and consulting with various folks, and watching as Sandy hauled out the enormous cart Tom made for the sound system. (Brief aside – we have hard of hearing folks in the congregation so we have a bunch of wireless headsets for amplification and all that stuff is in the cart, along with the board and the cabling etc etc.)  Then the greeter’s table is set up, and then parents come in to set up the kids (the older kids were off at a Catholic mass).  And just greeting people…. and then Tom and Peggy and Marnie show up, and music starts happening (12 string, stand up bass and piano).  Getting asked, once again, why it is I don’t consider ministry…. what am I supposed to say?  God told me not to?  I do not have a vocation, peeps!  When you get the call it’s unmistakable.  The only time I get a call that’s unmistakable it always ends badly, with me yelling “You freaking telemarketers, how did you get this number?!”  I’ll tell you why I’m not a minister…. because I read the behavioural standards that I would be expected to adhere to, like not sleeping with parishioners and ceasing to be nude in public on occasion and being somewhat less vivid and colloquial and vehement in my speech.  And don’t get me started on the drugs and alcohol stuff, it’s just unconscionable.  I’m also, not to put too fine a point on it, making the same amount of money as our current minister, who is 13 years out of school.  Ayuh.

Then it all started and it went very well.  I made the aside about being asked about which version of the Bible I was using for the verse and answering “Sheesh, Mom, what difference does it make to an atheist?” which got a huge laugh.  I have a lot of people to email the homily to.

I remember gazing at the congregation during the meditation and seeing Erin shifting her little one around trying to get her to latch, and passing my eye over all the mothers in the congregation and they (and a few of the men, truth be told) were all grinning.  They knew the feeling… after the service I went up to Erin with a mock look of distaste on my face and said, “Baby did NOT get memo about staying quiet during meditation!!!” and all the women clustered ’round her cracked up and chided me, and that’s when I told Erin how many people were smiling with their eyes closed as they heard the baby – I think she was pleased.

Delivering the homily and feeling comfortable enough to wander around the stage instead of staying glued to the podium like I have always done previously, remembering to look up often enough to connect with folks. It was easily the most attentive group evar….

Having all the handouts disappear. Anne in particular liked Carl Sagan’s baloney detection kit; somebody else, can’t remember who, saying that the little List of Cognitive Biases would make for an amazing conversation starter at Thanksgiving dinner.

Bringing strawberry twizzlers for snacks, and helping myself.

Talking, talking, to lots of people afterwards. Giving Carol a lift home in that magical fall sunshine that feels like summer filtered though dreams.

Blowing through the door like a hurricane and frying up the pork and onions for the stuffing, firing up the oven, stuffing the turkey, draping it with four pieces of thick cut bacon, jamming it in the oven, and ignoring it for about four hours. Katie calling to ask me if I’d forgotten anything and then showing up with cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie and whipped cream.  (She called ahead and offered!  I am not a failure as a parent! subtext).  I then hauled the bird out once and basted it and put it back in while Katie and I made veg.  Falling asleep on the upstairs sofa and awakening to see that Mike and Rozo had arrived, which triggered another round of Holy Crap, Must Feed People.

Final dinner arrangement;

Me Jeff Katie Mike Rozo:

Turkey with pork, onion, apple, brown bread, sage and garlic stuffing; hubbard squash drizzled with maple syrup, black pepper, garlic and allspice, boiled carrots, mashed potatoes, dripping gravy, green salad and dun tot (egg tarts from Anna’s Bakery OMG provided by Mike & Rozo) for dessert.

I came upstairs and both of the cats were on the dining room table.  Margot was inspecting the last of the gravy…. Eddie looked hideously guilty and was licking his chops rather inelegantly (his tongue was out an inch) but Katie couldn’t find anything missing.  Eddie’s expression made me howl with laughter.

I then bopped over to Planet Bachelor with Katie in tow (didn’t feel like going over there by myself) fed Kira who was most happy to see us, and then came back, watched some tube with the folks, and then announced around nine-thirty that I’d had a most excellent but also most lengthy day and I was going to have to say my goodnights.  Katie slept over and now I’m going to get up and make her a breakfast that will be awesome.

And that was my very long, very happy making, most excellently wonderful Turkey Day.

Today I plan to drink beer and wash clothes.  There IS nothing else on my to do list that I will do today.  Well, actually, if I want to keep things copacetic with Jeff I should clean the kitchen and run the dishwasher.  It’s pretty thick in there.

Oh, I lie.  After breakfast I have to run to the bank and get some money.  I think I may be buying a guitar today.

Heron Woman does it again. I do nothing for days and then explode into non stop action.  It is my way.

Furbabies & Gilgamesh

This morning, while Eddie was grumbling the whole time, Eddie and Miss Margot played over the same little  stuffed mouse.  I am trying to train Miss Margot to run along a track (which is interesting, because once she has ‘prey’ in sight she’s indefatigable, like a squat and furry greyhound) and Eddie got into the act.  Then, grumbling still, he walked away.  Twice or three times this morning he’s bopped her on the head.  She never says a thing, just flops on the ground.  She’s 1/3rd his weight, it hardly seems fair.  Gizmo never hisses at or hits her.

Yesterday I wrote another tune.  The recorder was sitting in front of me. I recorded it.  What was so hard about that?  Why have I not done that before?

A zillion years ago Loki told me that the oldest story was the epic of Gilgamesh.  It’s been on my list of things to read since I was a small child.    The most recent reworking of Gilgamesh is by Stephen Mitchell, a noted scholar, writer, translator, and custodian of wisdom literature.  I heard about it when the book was released on the CBC and put it on my list; it seemed that finally the translation, or retelling, worth reading now existed.

Yesterday I went to the library, because the *^%&$$ ICBC finally got off its duff and sent me my address change, without which I would not be able to get an update to my library card.  I did so, and Gilgamesh was waiting for me; that and a number of other fine books and movies.

I highly recommend it.  I wish a really good animation studio would bring it to life; there’s no way you could do it as a live action film, in my view.  What a different world that was, even in the mythic retelling.  To read the flood myth…  a snake stealing the  plant of immortality…. to feel Gilgamesh’s grief when Enkidu dies…. to shake one’s head how the gods cluster round the first offerings after the flood – they are so hungry because their humans are all dead and there’s no one to make offerings …. to smile at the wisdom of the tavernkeeper Shiduri, taking shelter on the roof of her tavern when Gilgamesh shows up, not wanting to be killed by the powerful and crazed-with-grief man…. it was all very beautiful, and very strange.

I have had dreams about Uruk, the city of Gilgamesh.  I just didn’t know that’s what I was dreaming about at the time.

I had a productive and happy day yesterday.  I ran errands on my bicycle, and Jeff and Keith and I watched The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn, saw Katie, and Paul briefly, and Mike came over for dinner.  Mike’s kilt came, so I gave it to him and he was VERY happy and immediately donned it. Best gag of the day – BOTH KIDS assumed we were watching Court Jester, because there’s Basil Rathbone in the same sets.  Anybody ever notice how Una O’Connor and Mildred Natwick look awful similar?  I didn’t until yesterday.  And Errol Flynn is among the hottest men who ever lived.

Anyway, if you like costumes, you have to see Robin Hood.  Olivia de Havilland’s gowns are swoonderful.

We watched Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey (the documentary by Sam Dunn, which like his followup Global Metal, was awesome… and SO Canadian) and we celebrated Jeff’s birthday by eating barbecued chicken, and steak, and heart of summer salad with blackberry vinaigrette, and home made garlic bread, and bear claw ice cream.

This morning Jeff walked to 7-11 and they were OUT OF MILK.  Why?  Because their fridges were not able to maintain safe temps for dairy.  Kinda tells you what the last week in the GVRD has been like.  So he went to the other 7-11, which is a bit closer as it turns out, and they had some, and I made Jeff waffles and bacon for brekky.

Here is the recipe for heart of summer salad.

1 mango

1 small purple onion

1 tomato

1 orange pepper

1 red pepper

Cut everything into half inch pieces and drizzle either store bought raspberry dressing or home made blackberry dressing over top.  Take a tablespoon each of Tom’s blackberry jelly and olive oil and three tablespoons of vinegar, add basil, parsley and garlic to taste, then mix well.  If it sounds yummy, it is.

If I was making it in quantity I would likely add half an english cuke and more tomato.

video and audio

I found a tape of me and John singing, at a coffeehouse or something.  Don’t know how old it is.  He starts off singing Demon Java.  Jeff is going to transfer it into more easy media for me.

The house is a LOT more secure (good luck trying to kick the doors in) now that the locksmith has done his thing.

I forgot to mention that one of the really amazing things about the Cavalcade of Cheese on Tuesday was the soundtrack.  Patricia’s friends make AMAZING mix tapes.  I’m so old I still call them mix tapes.

Butter chicken, height-of-summer salad and rice pudding with strawberries and nectarines last night.  It was a darned good meal if I do say so.  Height-of-summer salad is purple onion, peppers of various colours, mango, and tomato, all chopped into even(ish) pieces in a raspberry dressing.  For the rice pudding, I cut up the fruit and briefly soaked it in rum, allspice and sugar, then turned it into the pudding and cooked it.  Jeff om-nom-nommed like a good thing.

Jeff predicted (but I note in my blog of April 29th that I don’t mention it was his idea) that NCIS LA would come to pass, and so it has. The new series debuts 22 September.

Here’s video of the Wednesday night fireworks.

Once again the time has come for me to post my biscotti recipe

Because I feel like it.

 

Biscotti  Don’t forget to double the recipe
 

MIX IN ANY ORDER
3 large eggs
pinch salt
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup melted butter
1 cup pretoasted any combination of coarsely chopped hazelnuts/almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom (Optional – but optimal)
3 drops of almond flavouring (Optional, and don’t overdo it)
 

Add, until no flour shows:
 

2 ½ cups all purpose flour (you may add a little more if dough is too sticky)
1 tablespoon baking powder (I use less).
 

Cover carefully with at least a couple of layers of cling-style wrap and refrigerate for NO MORE THAN A DAY
Cook in two stages  – Preheat the oven to 350
 

Form dough into two logs (or four if you have doubled the recipe).  Roll the dough between your hands until the logs are between 1½ and 2 inches in diameter and about 14 inches long.  Place on greased heavy duty aluminum foil (properly spaced you can get two logs onto a cookie sheet) and squish down with your hands until they are less than  3/4s of an inch high.
 

Cook for about 25 minutes, but watch it like a hawk for the last 5 minutes so it doesn’t burn.  You want everything cooked right through but not so cooked that you have trouble cutting the logs up because they crumble.  If it still looks bubbly on top it isn’t done.  While still warm, slice logs using serrated knife in ½ inch thicknesses.  If the dough is gooey wipe off the knife with every cut.  Return to the oven at 350 until golden brown, about another 15 minutes.  For extra crispiness turn the oven off and let them sit for another 10, or even overnight with the oven off.
 

A double batch makes about 60 biscotti, depending on how thin you slice them.
 

Elf Bars (granola bars) – thanks to Jan Maxwell

Made these yesterday. Tonstant Weader will recollect that I ‘had to get’ this recipe, and I did. Now I have cooked them myself, so herewith the recipe.
Preheat oven 325 degrees

  • 3 c rolled oats
  • 1 c chopped nuts
  • 1 cup raisins or dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 c chocolate chips (or omit)
  • 1 300 ml can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

Use a lipped 15×10 pan lined with buttered foil.

Mix ingredients very well. When you think they’re mixed, continue mixing for at least another two or three minutes. Press firmly into a pan with a rubber spatula. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Cool slightly and cut into bars. (I actually let it cool completely and it worked better for me. I also omitted the chocolate chips but OMG are they good with chocolate chips as well.) Note for next time… I’m going to nuke the condensed milk until it’s runny. I think that will really help.