Candy Scrabble

Might even be a bingo!

Our bowl of Halloween candy (just visible near the top of the photo) contained bite-size Snickers. Naturally, right about the time the first sugar rush hit I got a bright idea, started fishing them out and made a whole word. My daughter groaned–the game was afoot–then started digging. My son gave a chortle and dove in to help.

We’d’ve gotten more if we hadn’t been dipping into the bowl all afternoon. Still, the shout of joy each time we finished a word was inordinately satisfying. Four and three-quarters isn’t a bad score for this game, and we celebrated with pizza and another delicious, delicious sugar rush.

It’s been a helluva week, my friends. We’re on the downhill slide, and there might even be some candy left. Chin up, machetes out, chocolate on our chins–we’re ready.

Onward!

Cheese and Hilarity

Super cheesy.

For about three weeks the talk chez nous has been about the existence of this particular item. So, naturally, the Princess picked some up at work before meeting me to finish grocery shopping. We arrived home and immediately put a pot of water on the stove.

The entire household gathered to put away groceries (the kids), actually cook the damn thing (me), and to get entirely underfoot while wriggling with excitement (Boxnoggin). Things were very crowded and I’m not entirely sure where the bacon went, but that’s a problem for another day.

Anyway, we shared out our lunchtime portions of very, very orange glop. Child-me would have been delighted; adult me was nonplussed.

“It’s the aftertaste,” my son said solemnly, after we’d tasted it. “Yep, definitely the aftertaste.”

“Something that smells like this should be crunchy,” my daughter added.

Naturally I focused not on the mild observation but on fixing a perceived problem. “I guess if we scattered real Cheetos atop it? And…” I paused thoughtfully to take another bite. “…I dunno, I guess if we got really high, then this would be great.”

“It’s definitely weed food,” the Princess agreed.

The Prince is a straight-edge, but he nodded in agreement. “The problem is there’s just not enough in the package.”

In short, we agreed that it would take two or three boxes to make a decent lunch or dinner, that it needed some crunch, and that regular ol’ Kraft with actual Cheetos scattered on top would be just as good when it came to weed food but we are absolutely not under any circumstances allowing the Flamin’ Hot variety into the house. I advanced the idea that adding frozen peas at the end of the pasta-cooking step might be in order to add at least something healthy, and both kids groaned even though that was a childhood favorite. Boxnoggin got a few cheesy pasta curls in his bowl, promptly swallowed them whole, and looked at us with such an expression of patent surprise. The hilarity was total, especially when the conversation turned to the street value of Cheeto-dust flavor packets. (The phrase “Good gods, I’m not snorting that,” was tossed about with abandon.)

All in all, it was $2 well spent–not bad, for almost an hour’s worth of laughter. I wish you a pleasant weekend, my beloveds, and hope you get a chance to share something funny with your loved ones.

Game, Love, Verb

I have just resurrected, staggered outside with the dog, reeled into the kitchen to make coffee, and bumbled down the hall to my office. As I was staring blearily at my desktop, wincing at the state of my inbox, the sense of being watched tingled down my back.

It was my son, in his pajamas, regarding me from the office door. “There’s been an announcement.”

I was immediately wide awake and ready for battle, as if he was ten years younger and looking a bit green before school. “Okay. What is it? Are you okay?”

“You might be able to play Guild Wars again,” he informed me. “It’s coming to Steam.”

For a moment I couldn’t process the words. I was ready for fire, flood, or intestinal disturbance, not this kind of update. “Oh,” I said blankly. “That’s good. Did you stay up all night to tell me?”

My (adult) child gave me a look that can only qualify as pitying. “No, I just got up.”

I thanked him kindly, and he shuffled down the hall for the loo. He’s an inveterate gamer, and has been ever since the first Christmas I could afford to get both kids a DS and Pokemon games. He liked WoW, but the subscription plus the behavior of the parent company meant we were looking for alternatives a while back and settled on Guild Wars 2. Then that company decided they weren’t providing support for Mac anymore, and he was verklempt…until he saved up and bought a hand-built gaming PC from one of his friends. We do still sometimes bond over the mechanics, though I haven’t played in years. But he still tells us at the dinner table about running dailies, raid training, the DLC content, and what’s been nerfed. And we listen, ask questions, and nod thoughtfully even if we sometimes don’t quite understand.

He wasn’t really saying, you can maybe play this video game again, Mum. What he was saying was, Hey, I love you, I think you’ll be pleased by this.

And I was thanking him, yes, but I was also saying that’s great, I love you too.

It’s like my daughter baking a hummingbird cake for her best friend, or my writing partner sending me an opera article, or the two-line text to a friend that makes sense to nobody else. There are a million different ways to say I love you, even when you’re on opposite sides of the country or even the globe. Even when your children are adults, taller than you, and have their own lives. It’s not the words that matter, because love is a verb. It’s a thousand little things, each one a gift of grace.

I had to learn what love truly looked like and how to accept it as an adult, because childhood did not teach me. I was raised to think love was a one-way street, simply caring about someone who hurt you over and over again. It’s the work of a lifetime to undo that early training. Some days I stumble more than others.

I know that even if Guild Wars hits Steam it probably still won’t have Mac support–I’d need Boot Camp, I guess–but that’s not important. Even in the fog of just regaining consciousness, my baby boy was so excited at the prospect of hanging out slaying pixel monsters with dear ol’ boring Mum he couldn’t wait to tell me. That’s what I cherish.

May you receive a likewise gift today, dear Reader. May we all find a ways to say I love you, and may we all find ways of saying I know, I love you too. It does not alter the darkness; nothing will. But it strengthens the candle, bit by bit. That is all we get.

And it is, by some miracle, enough.

Broken Hook

Broken, yes. Still good?

We have a set of large red cappuccino cups the kids have used as cereal bowls for decades. They’re huge, chipped, and incredibly useful. They’re also showing their age, like any beloved long-term item.

The handle broke off one of them while the kids were doing dishes. The Prince made an amazing catch, trapping the bowl between his hip and the counter with enough force to arrest its fall, but not enough to dent or chip it.

Bowl’s still in use, and I think I’m going to hot-glue magnets to either end of the handle. I can use it to hang things on the fridge, or it might go on the space above the cupboards where I daubed magnetic primer and then chalkboard paint. We’ll see.

I keep making new things out of broken bits. Some of them work, some…well, at least I gave it a try.

Have a good weekend, beloveds.

Vivid, Chilly Fire

Crap drifting from the sky? Must be elves.

A particular maple on the daily dog-walkies route turns into flame every year. This time around she’s incredibly vivid, almost incandescent. Standing underneath on a crisp autumn day, I almost forget the leashes wrapped around my waist and the dogs sniffing or finished with their business and eager to keep going.

The maple lays a red carpet along the sidewalk, too, but lately I’ve been peering through the branches. I’ve spent a long while looking down, careful of my footing; I figure it’s time for a change.

The kids and I joke whenever there’s a windy day–especially during autumn–and tree-bits are floating far and wide, “The elves are about again.” You know how every time there’s elves in movies, the air’s full of feathers or falling leaves or sparkles or something? Maybe it’s all the Tolkien I’ve read and my kids have watched. Neither of them can get through the books, but the films are something else.

I think that’s great; the more, the merrier.

Of course soon the branches will be bare, making patterns against the sky. Still, each time we pause under that maple, whether in summer’s green, autumn’s chilly fire, or winter’s nakedness, I try to look up.

Even if only for a moment.

Our Assistant, Doge

Identity theft is not funny, Jim.

So my daughter is a big Office fan, and got me to watch several seasons. My favorite scene is Dwight finding Pam crying in the stairwell and immediately puffing up to shank whoever hurt her; my feelings on any fictional character have rarely taken such a complete 180 as they did in those few moments of screen time.

Before, Dwight irritated the crap out of me. After, I was ready to pick up a baseball bat and follow him into battle.

Anyway, the Princess brought home some hilarious themed pillows during lockdown, and this was one of them. We can’t decide if it’s more or less funny that the “to the” is hidden. Doesn’t Boxnoggin look proud of his new title?

Actually, he’s a little put out, because he knows he’s not supposed to eat pillows and this one was deliberately set near him for a whole thirty seconds. It was whisked away once she got the shot; Boxnoggin was petted and made much of, told he was a good boy for refraining to savage the poor pillow.

Progress, right?

It’s a Friday that still feels like a Monday. I’m going to ask the local Assistant (to the) Regional Manager if we can just knock off early today.

I mean, look at him. Do you think he’ll disagree?

Marshmallow, Sun Storm, Tuesday

It’s a grey Tuesday morning and there is not enough coffee in the world. A solar storm is expected to hit the earth today, and frankly I’m not bloody surprised, the way things have been going.

At least the cicadas are quiet, since the temperature drops overnight. They’re probably waking up the same as I am, lethargic and blinking, staggering towards their version of coffee, preparing for an entire afternoon of screaming in the treetops.

Lucky bastards.

Even the dogs are a bit beside themselves this morning. They won’t eat their breakfast and Boxnoggin is in a fractious-toddler mood. I’d say “you need a nap, dog,” but we literally just rolled out of bed. It could be he’s sensing my crankiness.

There are bright prospects, though. The other day I made an offhand comment about using Cocoa Pebbles and Rice Krispies to make treats–you know, butter, marshmallow creme, all that. The Princess got That Look, and when she came home yesterday she was loaded with Cocoa Krispies, tiny chocolate chips, marshmallows, and a plan.

I pointed out there were Cocoa Krispies but no Cocoa Pebbles (her very favorite cereal) in her supplies and my eldest child fixed me with an arch look of amusement. “The recipe I found was for Krispies, so I’m doing it that way first before I alter it.”

I could only nod sagely and mumble, “That means more marshmallow treats for us all, so I can’t complain.”

To which my child replied, just as her mother would, “Damn right.”

She even divided the pan into quarters. One was plain, one was studded with sea salt flakes, the third had tiny chocolate chips, and the last was drenched with homemade salted caramel sauce. Needless to say, that last bit was my favorite, though everyone else in the house is split between the plain and salted quarters.

So, there’s a crispy-crunchy experiment at some time in my future, possibly with caramel. That’s not a bad prospect; it’ll get me through a day of internal wires sparking through worn-off insulation, a both-hands deathgrip on my temper, and my fingertips aching from keeping my claws sheathed.

In any case, I should probably get some breakfast to balance out the caffeine once my stomach settles, the it’ll be time to walk the furry brats. I’m sure there will be hijinks; Carl the Crow has taken to accompanying us on walks around the block. She flits from tree to tree, eyeing me sideways and occasionally letting out raucous yells. I’m not sure if she’s adopted us or is waiting for me to look away so she can torment Boxnoggin–I believe she has not forgiven him for the Jerry Incident.

Speaking of Jerry the Crow, his tail feathers appear to be healing, and he’s having a lot more luck with flying. He’s still apparently only capable of short hops, and he tends to hang around our yard all day because I’m leaving sunflower seeds and the like in easy-to-reach places for him. Sandra and Carl are okay with this too; they keep bringing peanuts and cracking them in the birdbath, filling the damn thing with peanut shells. I think someone in the neighborhood thinks they’re feeding squirrels, though why anyone would do such a thing is beyond me.

We also have a ring-tailed squirrel (christened Einstein) who is up to No Good and seems positively bent on tormenting my daughter. Maybe it’s a family inheritance thing.

I do have a Backyard Tale to tell you concerning Norbert (long-time Readers will remember Norbert the Shattered Gargoyle) but I need more time and energy to write it than I possess today, so it’ll have to wait.

And with that, my beloveds, I shall bid you a fond adieu. Getting out the door before the marine layer breaks and the temperature rises is the name of the game, and since I’ve finished my coffee, breakfast is next. I can only dread what sort of hijinks will occur once I strap the dogs into their harnesses and leave the house.

Wish me luck…