Friday, December 30, 2016

Drugs are nice

Astute reader Kristy asked if I jot down the family’s conversations on little pieces of paper located all over the house.  How did you know?! 

My memory is shot, which is great because it means that I can reread a book and still be surprised at the ending.  But it also means that five minutes after a conversation I can’t remember a word.

On a Tuesday morning in late November, this happened.

I was already awake. Husband was still sleeping. Then his clock radio alarm plays gentle classical music.  The lights are still off.

Husband (not quite awake): How come fdmsfp bsmlafp FIVE fdusmfpd wlxpd kplds SIX dwepwl zmxkskd qplpz FIVE, dpswldlf pfslsds FIVE.

Me (fully awake):  Other than the word FIVE, I did not understand what you said.

Husband (a little more awake):  If only we could manipulate time.  Then we could go to sleep and wake up only after we are fully rested.

Me: But you would have to manipulate time while sleeping.

Husband:  Couldn’t I do it after I wake up?  I don’t want to work while I’m sleeping. …  Did Younger Daughter get up?
(This is when I reach for a scrap of paper and a pen, to write down the conversation.  In the dark.) 
Me:    Yes, she did.  I woke briefly when she left the house at 6:30.  Thank God I was able to sleep last night.  With the help of drugs.
(Benadryl is my sleep aid, people.  Nothing stronger.)

Husband: Drugs are nice. What the world needs is more drugs.

                                                                                    * * * * * *

And that’s the thought that I want this blog to enter the new year with.  Some of us may need more drugs in order to make it through 2017.  And hopefully we’ll have a pen that works.  Because we are going to need to pay attention and take notes.  And drugs.

Non-working pen + dark room =
senseless chicken scratch.
Appropriately, this paper is
the back of a prescription receipt.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Robert Frosty Gingerbread

Two chocolate roads diverged in a sugary wood,
And sorry I could not eat both
And still fit in my Santa suit, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
to snowmen walking through the undergrowth…..

The finished product, which we are calling
"Two Roads Diverged on a Snowy Evening"

We’ve been talking about it for weeks.  Today we made it happen.  It was the perfect day for it, too, starting out with an ice storm that prevented us from leaving the house.  (If you actually want to see some details, you will have to click to embiggen.)

Friday afternoon, Son and Younger Daughter went to the grocery store to fetch the final ingredients for our gingerbread creation: giant Hershey bars, nonpareils, gummy bears, confectioner’s sugar, pretzels, and Hanukkah gelt. 
Then this morning, with the outside world covered with a quarter inch of ice, we set to baking.  YD designed a pattern for gingerbread deciduous trees.  She assigned her brother to make a pattern for holly bushes.  “I've brought you a shrubbery!” Son declared.

Half of a deciduous tree.  We had to do a lot of
shaving with that scalpel-like thingy.
We were really excited that the deciduous tree actually
stood up, the way it was supposed to!

pine trees and ducks in the making

patterns for sleigh and shrubbery

Son used some engineering skills to get my scanner to work so we could have properly scaled patterns for Santa’s sleigh, reindeer, snowmen, and rabbits.

The engineer at work

We baked ducks, rabbits, reindeer, and more. 

Next, they mapped out the scene.  Santa’s sleigh would be traveling on paved road, represented by a “cookies n crème” Hershey bar, and then he would encounter a fork in the road.  The Road Less Traveled By is made of nonpareils and the road the common public take is made of Hershey paving bricks.
I think the "cookies n cream" bar looks rather like asphalt.

Then, the assembling of the trees to make a “Woods on a Snowy Evening”.  Younger Daughter insisted on making some deciduous trees, although pine trees are easier.   The holly bushes are my favorite – she took the gingerbread shrubbery, covered it with gobs of green icing, and then dipped it in holly-leaf-and-berry decorative candies.

A gingerbread forest

Holly bush!

My job was to decorate some of the smaller pieces – put eyes on the reindeer, and make our Santa actually look somewhat like Santa.  My skills here are not stellar – Santa looks sort of like an alien.  And I completely neglected to paint the snowmen white.  Oh, well.  I did give them orange-colored (carrot) noses.

Santa from another galaxy
The snowmen are taking
The Road More Travelled. It's hard
to see the snowmen because they
are the same color as the chocolate
road they tread.
Finally, it was time to slather Royal Icing all over everything to glue stuff down.

This is the lake mentioned in the poem.
There are a few waterfowl, and there is a gummy bear
doing some ice fishing with a pretzel as a fishing pole.
Those other things are supposed to be rabbits.
This is only part of the mess we made.
We used three tables for this endeavor.
An aerial view of our creation

The scene involves Santa and his sleigh in the woods on a snowy evening, arriving at a fork in the road as he is on his way to deliver gifts.  We conjectured that perhaps this Santa is Jewish because he is delivering Hanukkah gelt.  He decides to take the road less traveled (or maybe Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has decided for him).  The other road is more traveled because a lot of snowmen are on it.   This is our homage to Robert Frost's famous poems.

To make this with my children was joy itself.  I may have miles to go before I can get a good night's sleep, but making this gingerbread creation has made all the difference.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.  
His house is in the village though;  
He will not see me stopping here  
To watch his woods fill up with snow.  

My little horse must think it queer  
To stop without a farmhouse near  
Between the woods and frozen lake  
The darkest evening of the year.  

He gives his harness bells a shake  
To ask if there is some mistake.  
The only other sound’s the sweep  
Of easy wind and downy flake.  

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,  
But I have promises to keep,  
And miles to go before I sleep,  
And miles to go before I sleep.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.