Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wherefore the sun?

We need it back today! We've had days and days of nearly obscene sunshine and could sure use some again! Yesterday was a dreadful day in nearly every way. It rained cats and dogs and everybody was cranky and surly. Poor Man-Cub trudged miserably through the school yard to the car wet as a drowned rat and told me he kept falling asleep in math class and tripping over things because he felt so terribly all day and his teacher snarled at him and told him he just should have stayed home! Well, I never! He's been suffering with seasonal allergies and we haven't been able to find an OTC that helps. I had spoken with the school nurse to inform her that we were working on it and he might be extra sleepy because of it but, apparently, I spoke to the wrong person. "He should have just stayed home"? I hardly think that complies with the school's ridiculous policy of not excusing any absence whatsoever without a note from a professional! Anyway...I wanted to wrap Man-Cub in blankets and place him in front of the fire with his feet in a washtub of hot water when we got home but he thought I was being ridiculous (which I probably was). I did, however, call the pediatrician for their advice on an OTC or otherwise that might give him some relief. Clarinex, here we come.

I'm not sure what Redheaded Snippet's problem was, exactly, but she was in a right royal snit most of the day as well. Come to think of it, her problem could be exactly what mine was which is what happens when you have two or more women of child-bearing years living in the same house. There was lots of whining and lots of chocolate consumption going around. My poor husband!

But today, today is a new day I, for one, have a completely new outlook on life! Because I felt so terrible last night I went to bed at 9:30 and slept like one newly dead until 6:45 at which point I glanced at the clock, then flopped happily back down for another 45 minutes. I've had a good night's sleep, am feeling worlds better and want the weather to reflect my mood! Where's my pathetic fallacy? It cooperated so well yesterday with its thunder, lightning and buckets of rain! Where are the blinding sun, balmy breezes and singing birds I'd ordered?

Well, whatever the weather, I must catch up on the housework I neglected in my two days of indisposition. Beds must be stripped and remade (missed Strip Day), clothes must be laundered and put away, and the kitchen must be returned to proper order (The Viking tried, really he did, but I do like things to be a certain way). Then I get to spend the afternoon with Daria and Beelix! We have great plans to enjoy tea and scones and either watch Enchanted April or have a brisk discussion of Pride and Prejudice in all its forms. I cannot wait.

And...what's this I see? Could it be a departing line of clouds with a glimmer of sunshine behind?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A little down in the mouth

"Well it's about me granddad, see, and one night he has a nightmare. He was so scared, he chewed his pillow to bits. To bits. In the morning, I says, 'How you feel, Granddad?' He says, 'Oh, not bad. A little down in the mouth.'"

The above is, of course, from Mary Poppins, Disney's classic and a household favorite to both watch and quote. But, I actually am a little down in the mouth and it's not funny, not funny at all.

Dharma, Vance, Bitsy and Rosebud have all departed. They went yesterday. And I'm still moping around, looking into their vacated room with wistful longing whenever I pass by (which is every time I go up or down the stairs). It was unbelievably lovely having them here and I miss them so much!

We have this funny, little "tradition" in our family of tearing about the house immediately after someone has left after a long visit, looking for "souvenirs". My sisters and I started it when our favorite aunt and uncle would visit us when we were kids. They lived far away, we loved when they visited and we were always terribly sad when they had to leave. One time, they had barely turned off our street when one of us found an item left behind that belonged to one of them. We were so excited to have something of theirs to hold on to, something to remind us that, yes, they had, in fact, been there and all our wonderful memories were real despite the desolate feeling left in the shadow of their departure. The hunt was then on. We gathered a small pile of things either left by them or last used by them and, somehow, it made us feel better. And a habit was born.

The kids and I still do this, only Man-Cub calls the items, "evidence," instead of, "souvenirs." Yesterday, immediately after Dharma and Vance pulled out of sight, I went looking. I almost took photos, but no one but my family would get them: the high chair in the corner of the dining room that we'd lugged up from the basement, the rubber bands still looped around the doorknobs of the cupboards to keep Rosebud from smashing the dishes within, the last raisin box Bitsy had emptied just before being carried out to the car, the nearly empty bag of dog treats left in the pantry, the pile of bed linens Vance had stripped off their bed.

Later in the day, I decided to pull the band-aid off in one, quick tear and went up to their room to make the changes necessary for Redheaded Snippet to resume residence. I packed up the cribs, folded up the extra blankets, added more to the laundry pile, and packed away the extra pillows. During the process I found a small, red bunny barrette and a toddler-sized, pink, hooded sweater: more souvenirs. I think I was wiping away tears the entire time.

By the time supper was over last night, the last traces of their visit were nearly gone. I'd aired the laundry room where their dogs had stayed, finished most of the laundry on which I'd gotten a little behind, stripped and remade all of the beds, and most of the downstairs had been tidied, swept and wiped down. Our house is back to the way it was. And it may be a wee bit more tidy and calm, more "normal," but it's also a lot more empty, lonely and still. More support for the theory that "normal" is over-rated.

So, I am, in my first full back-to-normal day, going to take some time to recharge, decompress and refocus. I'm going to clean out the fridge, finish some laundry, perhaps clear off the top of the dryer. I may even put the screens in the kitchen windows to take advantage of the cool, fresh, sunshine-laden breezes we've been enjoying lately. I will return my house to normal. But I'm also going to mope a little longer, sigh loudly every time I walk past Redheaded Snippet's room, and well up with a few tears each time I catch myself absentmindedly looking out to the driveway expecting to see a tan minivan there.

But I'm not taking the rubber bands off the cupboard doors.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Easter Roundup

So, how was your Easter? Did you have a killer time? We did! The had less than stellar beginnings as you might expect for a very disorganized, easily distracted perfectionist who has to get herself, two children and a lamb for the feast ready before church. One thing I can say for the stress of Thanksgiving and Christmas is that, thankfully, the feast day doesn't usually require church finery.

I did NOT get photos (I was too busy!), but dinner was a roaring success. Except for the cake. The cake was a limping...well..not disaster, exactly, but it was very anticlimactic. This was a case of my inexperience biting me in the butt. Having never made a chiffon cake before, I was unaware of the ease with which such a confection will collapse on you. I followed the recipe meticulously and when I took it out of the oven, it was beautifully light, lofty, foamy and golden. But, alas, at some point in the three-hour cooling period, it got sulky and deflated itself to half its former glorious height. The brat. I shed a few hot tears over it, but what could I do? I had nothing else for dessert and no time to Amelia Bedelia something up. It was Lobelia who talked me off the ledge and convinced me to serve it anyway with its delectable glaze. And we all agreed that it was very, very tasty, if a little dense.

So the cake was not the dessert of legends I had hoped it would be. But the lamb, the lamb! Mrs. C came through once more. I had never made leg of lamb and was understandably nervous. But The Viking and I put our pointed, little heads together and decided to cull and combine the best wisdom of both America's Test Kitchen and the Chambers Idle Hour Cookbook. We prepped the leg according to ATK (trimmed the fat, made slits all over and filled them with garlic slivers, then rubbed it with a fresh herb rub of rosemary, thyme and fresh parsley) and cooked it according to Chambers (preheated the oven at 500 degrees for 10 minutes, roasted the leg uncovered for 30 minutes, then covered it, turned the gas off and left it for 3 1/2 hours).

I know I've said it before, but I love, love, love cooking with the gas turned off. We turned it off, left for church and were happy and confident in the knowledge that dear, ducky Mrs. C was cooking our lamb safely and perfectly while we were gone. And perfect it was. Browned, tender, succulent, not to rare, not to dark, MMM-MMM-GOOD! I made mint sauce to go with it that was just the perfect accompaniment. And the roasted potatoes and asparagus were no-brainers--I can probably make those in my sleep. The only downside is that the lamb was so picked over there wasn't any left for Shepherd's Pie today. I was really looking forward to making my first ever Shepherd's Pie. Oh well, there's always next time.

Lobelia and Lenny stayed until twilight and we all just sat shootin the breeze while sitting in the breeze from the open windows. The kids ran around hiding, finding, re-hiding and re-finding Easter eggs (the Find The Ribbon idea never panned out) and swapping candy while the adults just lolled and laughed. It was the perfect afternoon and evening.

As for the new week, I am beyond thankful that the kids are off! I got to sleep in and felt so rested and refreshed when I awoke! I felt so good I decided to put the kids to work! Dharma, Vance and the wee ones are coming for a nice, long visit at the end of the week so we have a lot of clearing out, cleaning and rearranging to do and today was the perfect opportunity to get started.

It was (and still is, as I type) an almost sinfully glorious day. We threw all the windows open (I can never simply open windows when the weather is accommodating, I have to throw them open) and stripped our beds to the bare mattresses and pillows. All the pillow and mattress covers got a nice hot, sudsy, bleachy bath before being sent out to lounge in the sunshine on the clothesline. The flannel linens were washed, carefully folded and packed away until October (rather sad, but I just think of how excited I'll be when we're reunited next Autumn). Redheaded Snippet cleaned her room, Man-Cub worked on his room and I cleared out the library before torturing Man-Cub (his words, not mine) by going through his clothes and making him try them on before packing away his winter wear and unpacking his summer wear. Quite a satisfying day's work.

As a reward for our labors, we are taking a nice, long break before dinner. Redheaded Snippet is going out for a snack with Gram, Man-Cub is luxuriating in some uninterrupted TV and Lego time and I get to blog! There are also corn muffins cooling on the counter so in a few minutes, I get to blog while eating a hot, buttery corn muffin with a cold glass of milk! Sigh, what a lovely afternoon.

I'm sure I'll have plenty more to blog about in the days ahead as we prepare for Dharma & Co's arrival and then, of course, as we enjoy their company. I am so excited they are coming and staying with us! I haven't seen them since Christmas and the girls have just gotten too big too fast!

Well, the muffins are cooled so I'd better split a few and top them with butter for Man-Cub...

Friday, April 02, 2010


So, we're getting prepared for Easter over here. Today I went shopping with Mom and came home with a leg of lamb, three bottles of wine, an entire shopping bag full of fresh herbs and nearly a dozen bunches of flowers. I've decided on roast leg of lamb, roasted red potatoes with olives and feta, roasted asparagus (lots of roasting going on Sunday), and the lemon chiffon cake.

The flowers have been arranged in my chipped, white pitcher and tomorrow I'm going to finish the shopping, begin preparations on the meat and veg and bake my cake. Which reminds me, I need to check and see if I still have that tube pan. I kept it for years but have a sinking feeling I may have chucked it not long ago because I had never used it. Typical. You never need something until it's gone.

Tomorrow night, we're also dyeing eggs and making sure all our clothes are clean, pressed, brushed and in otherwise good form for Sunday morning. Man-Cub may need socks, but I can pick those up when I go out for the rest of the feast fixin's.

I'm looking forward to Sunday's dinner. Lobelia, Lenny and Vantastic are coming as are Mom and Dad and the weather is supposed to be spectacular. Today was pretty perfect, in my opinion, the kind of day that makes me want to lie in the grass and breathe deep. I'm hoping Sunday is the same and doesn't get too warm.

Well, I must go and sort through my recipes and write down my cooking schedule. Yes, I do that. I'm just not naturally organized enough not to. Good night and Happy Preparing!