Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I've Figured It Out!

How I plan to spend my retirement. Image Credit

You guys! Pay attention! I've figured it out!

You all are Downton Abbey fans, right? Because of course you are. On Sunday nights you're plopped in front of PBS to see what is going to happen with the so-rich-they're-miserable-but-occasionally-happy Crawley family and their cadre of so-poor-they're-happy-but-occasionally-miserable staff.

You have wanted to shake the exasperating Lady Mary, who is the master of the eyeroll, whether she is irritated,
Image Credit.
or being coy.
Image Credit.
You also have wanted to shake sad-sack Lady Edith although she has moments of perception that are spot on.
Image Credit.
And now that it is the final season of this series and it needs to bestir itself to start tying up loose ends, you have to admit that you DO NOT GET IT. Why in the world is so much time being spent on the most boring plot line in the history of plots, which is to say, the take-over of the village hospital by the government, or something like that.

This plot line is the worst. The. Worst. It's even worse than Anna being accused of murder, or Bates actually being imprisoned because of murder, or SHUT UP, DAISY!

Sunday night, though, I figured it out, and actually did a ladylike fist pump and yelled "Tallyho!" That's because I saw this guy wince, not once but twice...
Image Credit.
...and a light bulb went on in my self-indulgent little aristocratic brain. (I felt just like Edith did when she found realized that she should fire that editor, which is to say, "Huh. Why didn't I realize this earlier?)

See, the hospital plot line is going to intersect with those two winces. Mark my words now, because either the hospital will be really good and save Lord Grantham's life when it turns out he has a debunkerizing carpatangle  (or whatever) that must be removed IMMEDIATELY, or the hospital will be really bad and Lord Grantham will die.

That is why the hospital plot line exists, and you read it here first.

We undoubtedly are going to have to wait several more weeks before this situation resolves itself because Downton Abbey moves with the stately pace of plow horse, to give us plenty of time to stare at the dresses and the food and at Lady Mary's eyebrows, which, by the way, have their own Twitter account.

Don't believe it? Here. Enjoy. And try not to feel too demoralized when you realize that Lady Mary's clothes are better than your clothes, Lady Mary's bedroom is more beautiful than your bedroom, and Lady Mary's eyebrows are better tweeters than you are.

You should have been born a Crawley. (Just not Edith.)

Friday, January 22, 2016

So You Hated Uncle Katt? and Other Orts

Boy#3, who was 9 years old; Boy#1, 15; Boy#4, 9; Boy#2, 13.
The picture that starts out today's collection of snippets has nothing whatsoever to do with the snippets. It's just one of my favorite pictures, and if we all are going to be inundated with snow*, this should warm us up. Here the Boys are pausing between free-falls that year we went ziplining in Costa Rica.

Does that sound snooty? Did you get the impression we do things like this all the time? It wasn't meant to be, and we do not. It was The Vacation of our years as a nuclear family, when Husband and I took our sons back to where I had lived in Costa Rica and introduced them to my family there. I had not thought it would be 20 years between when I finished my Peace Corps service and when I was back in country, and this was a dream come true. I smile every time I look at this picture.

Also, if you ever have the chance to zipline, DO IT.

Thank you all, so much, for the concern after my last post in which I mentioned I had fallen off my chair. I am fine. The fall was fairly spectacular in its flailing-around-ness, but only a few inches to the floor. Kind of like this:

But without the pushups. Also, without going viral on YouTube, so I consider that a win.

You guys! After I wrote about the horrifying Uncle Katt a few days ago, Boy#2 sent me this link.

The whole story is here
I feel as if I accidentally opened the door to the underworld.

But let's end on a happy note. That note would be cinnamon, with hints of clove and orange peel, and it's my new favorite thing.

Here's the website
One of my siblings put a can of Caribou Hot Cinnamon Spice tea in our family Christmas exchange, and you cannot believe how delicious this nectar is, or how comforting when you've been sitting in a really, really, really cold office all day. Or, I guess, if you are on the east coast and facing the prospect of 36 inches of snow.

Stay warm out there, East Coast people.

*We aren't actually being inundated with snow here. It's just that the media never pays any attention to our storms, so I'm crashing the party of the one in the East.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Learning From an Egg

Free coloring pages!

Here are the questions I have about Humpty Dumpty:
  • What was his mother thinking when she named him? Was she never in junior high, where odd names are snicker-fodder?  
  • What was he doing sitting on the wall? Was there a parade passing by? Was his self-esteem so low that he didn't realize that as an egg with shoes and a bow tie he was more of an attraction than clowns on motorcycles?  
  • When HD called for first aid, wouldn't it have been better to bypass all the king's horses and go straight for all the king's men, given the no-thumbs issue that is inherent with equines, not to mention lack of pockets for Band-Aids? Didn't the stomping around of all those hooves make him nervous?

Anyway, I started my morning by with a great fall, albeit it out of my office chair rather than off a wall. This is because my office at Small College is REALLY, REALLY COLD today and I was trying to plug a space heater into the one available outlet, which is located behind my desk (historic buildings are charming but not always convenient), and in doing so leaned so far forward that my rolling chair exited west while the rest of me exited east. 

Unlike Humpty Dumpty, I did not need to be put together again. When I assessed the damage (after looking around to make sure no one had noticed and being thankful that the guy in the next office had his earphones on because it really was a fairly great fall) the only damage was an impressive tear in the back of my tights, way above the hemline of my skirt. 

I plan to be especially careful when I drive home for lunch. This is the accident my mother warned me about, the one in which your underpinnings do not reflect your true meticulous nature.

So female EMT friends in Small Town, if I should happen to need ambulance transport for any reason today, could you do me a solid? Get me out of those tights before we reach the hospital. Otherwise all the king's men couldn't put my ladylike reputation again. 

The king's horses, needless to say, would be useless. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Some Nightmares Never End

Have you ever had one of those nightmares that won't end? You wake up and reassure yourself with a shiver that "Whshew! It was only a dream! The algebra test isn't today and I'm not sitting in class in my nightgown!"

That's kind of the way I felt in the week after Christmas when the picture above showed up in my Facebook feed.

"Remember what you were doing three years ago?" Facebook asked me cheerily, obviously not hearing my startled scream.

This is a picture of perhaps the most monstrous creature in my family's history. This aberration belonged to my mother-in-law in her declining years, the years when she wanted to have a real cat but was frail and terribly unsteady so we talked her out of getting a foot-twining feline. Instead, she bought an animatronic model that was wired to sporadically burst out with the most horrendously hoarse "MWORRRRR!" and creak its creaky neck and wave its scritchy tail and blink its evil eyes until you shrieked and threw holy water at it.

We were talking to Mom in the living room of her retirement apartment the first time this demon spawn went through its routine in the bedroom. I almost wet my pants.

"What the heck was that?" I gasped at the first MWORRRRR, trying to decide whether I should try to help Husband get his mother to safety or if it was every man for himself.

"Oh, you haven't met the newest member of the family, have you?" she smiled happily. "Isn't he wonderful?"

Thus were we introduced to Uncle Katt, and Mom loved him to exactly the same degree that I thought he was HORRIBLE. Horrible, I tell you. So horrible that when we were cleaning out her belongings a few months later, he still made me shudder. I put him into the pile of belongings that were going back to Iowa where Mom's great-grandchildren lived.

"I'm sure one of them would love to have Uncle Katt," I told my brother- and sister-in-law.

We laughed reminiscing about Uncle Katt when that brother- and sister-in-law passed through on their way to their winter home in Texas the day after Christmas. Hahaha! So heartily we laughed. Until the next morning, when their trailer had pulled out of town and Husband found this stray on the back porch:

Aaaargh! He's back!
Surely I'll wake up soon.

Also, this game is ON.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Just One More Christmas Post. I Promise.

Really, this is the last Christmas post. Seriously. Unless I decide it isn't, but even I am getting a little embarrassed about the excessive dragging-on-ness of the season and this is my blog so I can't imagine the eyerolls that are happening on your end of the internet.

I couldn't draw this to a merciful close, though, without appreciating a few of the gifts that were gifted on Christmas morning. We had utterly amazing gifts, which can be described thusly:

1. Loving Hands at Home. Usually I use this phrase as a term of derision, and it refers to graphic design work that is performed by someone who has a computer and all those hundreds of fonts so they USE ALL THE FONTS! on their flyer. In this case, though, the loving hands belonged to Husband and he actually did make Boy#3's clarinet lamp (shown above).The old (non-functioning) clarinet is one we found in an antique shop during our charmed Michigan vacation, the base Husband fashioned of 100-year-old oak milled from a tree felled by a storm on the farm where I grew up. (No, I am not kidding.) Husband even bought new pads for the clarinet so that it would look authentic. Is this lovely or what?

2. How Old Do You Think I Am? Adele's new CD was on my wish list, and I was delighted to find it under the tree. At least I was delighted until one of the Boys said "Mom, do you even know who Adele is?" Hrmph. She was Mozart's nanny, right? 

3, Our PseudoSon Is a Storm Trooper! The Boy we borrowed for Christmas Day shares many traits with our own offspring, not the least of which is his intense love for all things Star Wars. (I won't mention that one of my sons flew halfway across the country for a meet-up with PseudoSon and another brother, just so they could be in line for opening night.) Anyway, I'm assuming when he wears his new apron no one will be to tell him from an actual storm trooper.

4. Oops--Santa Put This in the Wrong Stocking. Santa brought fancy, candy-filled cars for the stockings of the Boys and Lovely Girl, but the reindeer must have been double-parked because in Mr. Claus's rush to fill stockings the Cuddle Bug car went into Boy#4's stocking instead of into Lovely Girl's and Lovely Girl got a muscle car. Fortunately Four also received a highly masculine wrench in his stocking so his man card was not revoked.

5. You Don't Even Notice the Receding Hairline. Santa also brought Steak-and-Shake hats for all the Boys, which merited a selfie with Boy#2 and his mother. My favorite part of this shot is the photobombing Lovely Girl in the background. If we ever need to prove that we have teeth, this is the shot we'll use. 

6. Someone Needs a Proofreader. Another of my gifts, a switch that lets me toggle between Netflix and the football game without leaving my recliner. But a "digtail" (digital) switch was easily translated compared to the instructions for Two's do-it-yourself theremin:

Russian? Chinese? Who knows?
Yes, should be interesting to see what kind of good vibrations emanate from the result of that instruction book. (It's a theremin, see? Like the Beach Boys used for the woo-oo-ooooo-ooooo-ooo  in "Good Vibrations"? Never mind.)

I'm not going to go into the rest of the gifts because there were too many to describe, but suffice it to say that one of them elicited an "It may be the best present I've ever gotten!" and when we were done the living room looked like this:

God bless the recycling guys, too.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

What We Ate

In most years I claim that Christmas is not over until after January 6, since I grew up celebrating Epiphany as the final fireworks burst of the season. This year, though, I will be blogging about our Yule-ish festivities for several more days so I have a new claim: Christmas is not over until the Christmas letters are mailed. Mine are still in sitting in the envelope the printer marked "RUSH!" so that they could go out before Dec. 24. Hahahaha!

Anyway, this post is so that next year, when I can't remember what was on our Dec. 25 menu but I'm still struggling to zip up my jeans, I will be able to look back and recall that 2015 Christmas Day was a pretty good food moment at the House on the Corner.

(A disclaimer: The links to recipe sources and photo credits are under each picture. I didn't photograph any of this food porn except the cheesecake at the top of the post, which I had to document as the first time in my life I've made a ganache that actually looked like a ganache and not like sad, drippy failed dreams. Also to show off my mother-in-law's gorgeous cake stand that Husband inherited and I appropriated.)

We began the day with Overnight Cinnamon French Toast,

Overnight Cinnamon French Toast
I made this after Christmas Eve services using a loaf of sourdough cranberry bread that had been with the last shipment of Bountiful Baskets, and it baked the next morning while we opened stocking gifts. It was yummy, yummy, because sourdough cranberry bread plus heavy cream apparently is my nirvana.

For Christmas dinner (which was finally ready by 4 p.m. because we had no deadlines) there was ham, of course, but also crescent rolls because the Boys believe there is no special dinner without crescent rolls and I can do a lot of experimentation with side dishes as long as the rolls keep coming. I don't have a picture of the actual rolls, but this recipe is tried and true and so easy. Use instant mashed potatoes; this is the only valid use for that Ore-Ida abomination.

We also had two new recipes: 
Roasted Winter Vegetables
Winter Fruit Salad 
because "winter" apparently was the theme of this meal. (Our Winter Fruit Salad had mangoes substituted for the bananas because Boy#3 cannot abide bananas and I'm a softy about dietary preferences on this one and only one occasion during the year. Usually we eat in the Take-It-Or-Leave-It Cafe.)

Oh, also Twice-Baked Potatoes using the Pioneer Woman's recipe because they can be assembled in advance and heated on Christmas Day and are so, so delicious and because at that point I had not yet used all the butter and sour cream in the world. After finishing these, mission accomplished. 

Dessert, as you see waaaaay above, was the Double Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake.   Oh, my goodness. I do love cheesecake, and this one was enough for three days of desserts for all seven of us, because tiny little slices were ideal. Mmmmm.....

So as you see, we did not go hungry as we celebrated one of the most sacred days on the calendar. I'm pretty sure this is exactly the same menu Mary served to the Wise Men. 

My New Year's Resolution may have to be a walk to Egypt. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


MomQueenBee, Husband, Three, Two, One, Four, and Lovely Girl as we tried to cover up the swaths of tree where the lights had given up the ghost.
Hey there!

Merry Christmas! Also, Happy New Year! And Happy Birthday Boy#3! In addition, Joyful Back to Work Week!

Yes, many, many things have happened in the House on the Corner since the last time I put more words onto the Internet. (The 'net did seem to keep chugging along without me, thanks to year-end best-and-worst-of lists and Star Wars.)

To cut to the chase: It was a wonderful, wonderful vacation, made even more wonderful by the presence of all four of the Boys, plus Lovely Girl, plus a bonus Boy who we're claiming as part of the family with apologies to his actual family. We ate, we exchanged gifts, we played games, we laughed, we watched bowl games, and we did all of these with not even a hint of moderation. We didn't just eat, we AAAAAAATTTEE. (Oooo-eeee, that peppermint cheesecake.) We didn't just exchange gifts, we exchanged this many gifts:

You didn't believe me? Christmas morning.
I know! Obviously we were extra-special-tremendously good children this year. Also, this year the gifts seemed to be of the type that left the FedEx guy gasping as he heaved our orders onto the porch. Our poor postal carrier (a woman) had one hoisted onto her shoulder as she rang the doorbell--"Just let me bring this inside; you aren't going to be able to lift it." Delivery people of the world who survived December, I salute you.

For the first time in years and years (yay! No bowl games of intense interest!), all of the offspring were able to stay for several days, and some of them were in the house for the full break. I was reminded again how much fun grown-up kids are, as well as how many times it is necessary to run the dishwasher in a full house, and how often the toilet paper roll has to be changed.

On Sunday, when the final kid had driven away and back to adult responsibilities, I settled into my chair and picked up my knitting, but after this week of raucous good spirits this Christmas will be with me for a good long time. As will the peppermint cheesecake, which went straight to my hips.

God bless us, every one.