oranges and lemons

So, our yearly migration ended last weekend (finally) and now I’m back in the comfort (um, relative comfort, I might say instead– as I survey the disarrayed dishes hither and everywhere) of home.

Poncho: “I want a man-sized hobbit house. Like, to legitly live in.”
Me: “Legitly? Legitly is not a word. ‘Legit’ comes from legitimate, so you’d say ‘legitimately’.”
Poncho: *blank stare*
Me: “Yeah, I know, no one cares.”
Poncho: “Nope.”

So now I am trying to think of all the things I wanted to write a blog about since Thanksgiving– but yep, the ideas have flitted into my brain and right back out again. Or, as Dad said tonight to me (as he demonstrated proper shoe-shining technique), “You have all these good ideas, and you end up dead.”
Me: “Thanks for that inspirational quote, there.”
Dodge: “That’s how he always ends his stories. ‘…Well, that guy’s dead now.'”
Dad: “It happens to everyone, eventually.”

A never-ending fount of optimism, my dad is.

Last night we ate dinner with the grandparents, and Mom started reminiscing about staying over there during the Migration.
Me: “I liked how when Poncho started watching Dr. Who over here, Grandpa said, ‘This is the weirdest movie I’ve ever seen’.”
Dodge: “And it’s not even a movie.”
Grandpa: “What movie?”
Me: “TV show. Dr. Who.”
Grandpa: “Dr. Who?”
Everyone burst out laughing.
Grandpa: “Well, what’s his name?”
Poncho: “That is the name! That is the point of the show!”
Grandpa: “I dunno. That’s some weird kinda movie.”

And then there’s “Dr. Nope”, the phrase that Dodge coined and has now become somewhat infamous among people who hear me say it too much. Any time that Dodge or I use this phrase, Mom is bound to ask what we mean. Francis always says, “I don’t get this Dr. Nope.”
The other day was no different, except that the fabulous Marie was there to explain it all.
Francis: “What does this ‘Dr. Nope’ mean? I just don’t get this Dr Nope.”
Marie: “It’s an expression. Right? It means, like, something’s just not gonna happen. Dr. Nope.”
When I told this to Dodge, he said, “Finally! Someone understands me!”

What? I don’t count as someone? Lest it be forgotten, I was the first adopter of “Dr. Nope” (and everyone smacks me upside the head and asks me why I follow in Dodge’s annoying footsteps). (Although, I might add that Dodge has started calling me “Nachos”, which I don’t think I will ever understand.)

Something else I allegedly don’t understand: 1984. I finally read it, gave it another shot… And I’m glad I did. Not because it’s my new favorite book or anything, but it was interesting and it definitely made me think. Actually, you know what, I think I did understand it (mostly… I just finished it yesterday, so I’m still kind of mulling it over). The truth is, though, that both 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, in their own ways, made me vaguely depressed about life and about the future in general. Oh, not because of the state of the world, not because of the dystopian stuff– but because of the majorly messed-up relationships these characters have. I mean, come on, you guys! Some of us are young and trying to not panic.

I should go re-read Jane Eyre to cleanse my mind. Good grief.

But still. If a book has the power to draw me in to the point where, upon a big revelation, I repeatedly throw it against the couch, it must be pretty good.

One more thing… Snow! Glorious snow! And bad driving conditions, and scraping windshields, and that pale grime on everything, and cold hands while typing this. Yay, winter. (Oh, but outdoor skating! And ice! and salt and rolling in snow and every shade of brown and all the woods and soft as chalk and an excuse to drink excessive amounts of various hot beverages! Yay, winter!)

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sewn in a sweater you can wear when it gets colder

Recently I found myself in the midst of a conversation about 3-D printers (and also Oxford commas– always use Oxford commas!) and I said how it seems so weird, like they’re making something out of nothing. Even though, obviously, that’s not what they do. It still seemed too magical, or sci-fi, or something. But then today I was knitting and I realized that knitting is a very similar process. You take a very very very long piece of string and shape it into a garment? What? Knitting is kind of like making something out of nothing, too. So 3-D printers are like machines that can knit plastic and metal. Or… Whatever. Maybe that comparison only works in my head.

In other news: it snowed! And it looked messy and weird clinging to trees which are still clinging to leaves, and coating the leaf piles on the curbs.
(Bug: “Our leaf pile looks like the exact shape of a crocodile.”
Me: “What if leaf piles were like the Sandman and they could shape themselves into different creatures, and they came to eat you?”
Bug: “Woah.”)
I woke up on the snowy morning singing “White Winter Hymnal”. And the night before, as I came out of work, I already knew it would be snowing because I had seen it through the windows. But apparently the lady who stepped out of the doorway before me didn’t. “Aughhh!” she cried. I ran out laughing.

Well, yesterday was Poncho’s birthday… So we all went out to dinner. This is how that went…
Grandpa (as soon as we sat down): “Elvis was a drug addict. Did you know that?”
Me: “Why….”
Grandpa: “Looooove me tender, you ain’t nothing but a hound dog.”
Dodge: “I don’t think those are in the same song.”
Grandpa: “Yeah they are!” *plays air guitar* “The girls went crazy.”
Me: “Oh-kaaaay, new topic.”
Dodge: “Hey Grandpa, who’s your favorite Browns player?” *evil grin* “Brandon Weedon?”
Grandma, overhearing this, glared daggers at our end of the table.
Dodge: (snickering, aside, to me): “Look what I did.”
Mom: “Kick Dodge under the table.”
Me: *kicks Dodge under the table.*
Dodge: “Stop it!”
Grandpa: “Hey, be nice to your sister.”
Dodge: “What? She’s the one kicking me…”
Grandpa: “You gotta be a man and take it!”
At this point Dodge and I fell over ourselves laughing… Then all was normal (ha-ha, riiiiiiight) for a bit until Dodge started playing with his knife, spinning it on the table.
Grandma: “Just wait till you cut your finger off, and I have to drive you to the emergency room.”
Dodge: *pretending to saw his hand* “Grandma, in about five minutes I need to go to the hospital. Go warm up the car.”
Grandma: “You better watch out, that’s all I’m saying.”
Dodge pulled his hand inside his sleeve and waved his knife in the air. “AAAAHHHHH! My hand!”
I took the knife from him and dipped it in salsa. “There, it makes it more realistic.”
Dodge: “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!”

Also, I got Poncho a sonic screwdriver, and I have no regrets. Even though he shined it in my eyes (probably trying to verify that I am, in fact, an alien) and pretended to sonic every closed door. I don’t think it has left his person since he got it out of the box.

I guess that’s all for now… Happy 13th birthday to Poncho, and I am off to make something out of nothing (which is to say, I am going to work on some writing).

decapitated chocolate bunnies

Thus ends Easter Sunday, with me sitting here in the rocking chair that I moved into my bedroom, assessing the mess around me. There is a basket of chocolate on my bed (including, yes, a decapitated chocolate bunny. But Poncho ate the staring, yellow sugar eyes, okay!), which is unmade due to the rush to leave for church this morning. There are papers piled up on my desk, magazines piled up on the dresser, library books piled up… well, everywhere. All the shoes that I own (not many, actually) are strewn through the room, boots and moccasins and flats because what the heck is up with the weather? And don’t even get me started on the three calendars, two notebooks, two bags of potting soil, and oodles of newspaper pots crammed in the corner. Gardening junkie. What can I say.

At least there is good news on that front. My seedlings have sprouted– Well, the tomatoes and leeks, anyway. The eggplants’ pots are stubbornly refusing to look even the tiniest bit hopeful. And I haven’t planted anything else besides those three yet. Oh, except foxgloves just this evening. (*claps hands girlishly*) (Oh dear, someone please restrain me from doing things like that! My younger– and probably older– selves would be so embarrassed!) (Seriously, though. Since when did I become so in love with… with… flowers?) (More importantly, do I really care? Maybe not so much, considering that my weird infatuation caused the bringing home of some blue hyacinths, which are currently perfuming the air with the smell of elusive, mythical spring.)

The tomatoes at first look like near-microscopic, anemic-green arches still mostly buried in soil, and then slowly they rear their heads. Two pointed leaves escape, finally, from the shell that was once a seed. Now they look like tiny, blind, fierce dragons, roaring silently, or else spreading their leaves wide and yawning for (fake) sunshine.

They’re darn cute, is what I’m trying to say.

All right, enough of plants… What else? Oh. Right. This.
Grandpa (giving me boy advice): “Don’t go for some guy who’s twenty-three…”
Me: “Why? They’re done with school, maybe they have a job…”
Grandpa: “Naw! They work at some video store.”
Me: “Um. Grandpa? When was the last time you saw a video store?”
Grandpa: “Well, you know what I mean!”

Other advice I received basically boiled down to “don’t go for an Amish vegetarian”, so… Yeah, okay. Whatever you say, guys. (Maybe I’ll find an Amish vegetarian who works at the last remaining Blockbuster on the face of the earth. That would really shake things up!)

 

I am off to water my seedlings now, the demanding little buggers– but hah! I can’t fool you, reader. You know that I, with my  peculiar need to stroke and coo over every plant in the home improvement store, live for this thrill of watching baby dragons unfurl their first true leaves, spiky and complete with prickles.

Because Easter, obviously, isn’t all just decapitated chocolate bunnies. It’s life springing new! In the midst of messy chaos, sugar comas, and too many cups of tea, yup, definitely. Jesus is risen and the foxgloves are sown and death is powerless and all is right in the world.

I am filled with joy, and I hope you are too. :)
~Pen

stars and angels gave the sign

Hello from the time warp that is Christmas. Seriously, the day before Christmas Eve (Mom calls it Christmas Adam), Christmas Eve, and Christmas (or Christmas Day One, as I call it) felt like a whole week all by themselves. There was cleaning, decorating (I made paper chains and stars, and the stars still haven’t made it up…), church-going, and then on the night of Christmas Eve, feasting and gingerbread-house-making. Also Dad read us “The Night Before Christmas”, as is traditional. Or not.
Dad: “When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but–”
Poncho: “A chocolate cow. HEHEHEHEHEEEEE”
Dad: shakes head sadly, muttering, “Blasphemy.”

Yep, that's the gingerbread house. You either think it's cute, or else you are imagining a fairy tale witch living in there, pre-heating her oven...
Yep, that’s the gingerbread house. You either think it’s cute, or else you are imagining a fairy tale witch living in there, pre-heating her oven…

Oh yeah, and the dead Lego people in the background… The battle of Helm’s Deep spilled over. Because that’s what Poncho got for Christmas! He opened it with much excitement, and Dodge and I just looked at each other and I said, “Can we play?”

Anyway… Christmas itself was laid-back, with us basically taking turns laying on the couch with the television tuned into sleep-inducing nature shows, or new video games, or movies. I never got a nap, though, because right as I fell asleep it was time for dinner. Which was ham.
Ham, my personal nemesis.
Well, one of them. Because if ham was the mayor, Canadian bacon would be vice mayor, and why did I use mayors as an analogy. I do not know. What I’m getting at is, ham creeps me out.
Grandma: “Aren’t you going to have some meat?”
Me: “I don’t eat ham.”
Grandpa: “You’re a vegetarian!?!”
Me: “No… I just don’t eat ham.”
Grandpa: “So you just don’t like pork, huh?”
Me: “I like pork. Just not ham.”
Or Canadian bacon. But I did not mention that.
Next Christmas I think we should have catfish instead. At least one for me. (And if catfish was the mayor, corn muffins would be vice mayor and mashed potatoes would be secretary of state–)

Oh, and everyone seemed to like the presents I got or made for them, which made me happy. I was overly excited to give gifts to people. Probably because I’m about as good as keeping secrets as mashed potatoes would be at foreign affairs, so I would have just burst out “PONCHO I MADE YOU A NARWHAL” at any minute if I’d had to wait longer.

That’s kind of all I have to say about Christmas (so far, that is…). I mean, I ought to have more to say, or some touching words, or something. But nope.

Right now Mom is watching the news, and they were showing snowfall stats for different cities.
Mom: “Way to go, Little Rock!!! …I’m so happy for them.”

I’m happy for us too, that we had snow. The news tried to make it sound like it was going to be a deadly blizzard, and even the library closed early. It wasn’t a blizzard. It was more of, uhhh, normal snowfall amounts for this region.
But that’s probably not as fun to say as “SNOWPOCALYPSE!” so, yeah.

(on the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me–)
That’s all for now…
~Pen

just whistle while you…’re unemployed.

Today, six squash plants and two bell pepper plants got put in the “auxilary garden” (ie, my grandparents’ backyard), and I weeded out the raised bed and the blackberry bush has suddenly decided to become enormous. Yay! And Grandpa kept asking me which pumpkin he could give to his neighbor’s baby (apparently he promised the baby that he could have a pumpkin) (and I was like, sure, because the baby will remember that and bear a grudge if you don’t) (but I am all for children playing with pumpkins, so obviously I do not mind giving away one of the many, many gorgeous squash that I will be growing). (I am imagining pumpkins big enough for that baby to live in, you understand.)

So, that was fun. And I am still covered with mud.

Then the library called me.
They said they loved me.
But no.

I was all professional on the phone, and then afterward Mom was like, “Oh, let me give you a hug”. Which I declined because I did not want to be sad about it. (But of course I went back to where I’d been sitting and was all, “Back to my jobless life. I’ll be living in the basement” etc etc.) Whenever I’m feeling disappointed/sad, I can totally be fine in a few minutes and not cry or anything like that. But if anyone says, “Are you okay?” or “Do you want me to [insert kind favor here]”… Well.

Speaking of kind things, Eliza made me a very delicious fried egg sandwich for breakfast yesterday. Because she loves me, and knows all about my breakfasting woes. (I hope she also knows that she is the best cook ever.) (OK, except my grandmother. But it’s impossible to best someone’s grandma at cooking.) 

(Evidently I like talking in parenthesis today.)

So, even though I’m still a little bummed out, because I REALLY wanted the job (I will pause here to give you time to absorb this stunning new information), even though there is an underlying stress that reminds me of when we had to move, I’m surprisingly calm about everything. Besides, how bummed can a person be while digging in the garden singing “hoireann o, hi ri u” with lemon balm and blackberry leaves dripping rain and the random garlic shoots curling elegant and ready to bloom.

And while Poncho is sitting here now eating dinner and muttering to himself, “Hero Factory. Where the best, most bravest heroes are made.”

Notions

Eliza is in KANSAS! And Bug is lonely at home. I am here, and nothing is really different for me. Yesterday I was trying to knit with circle needles, which did not work out, mostly because I could not understand the instructions for this pattern… I mean, why do they have to talk in knitter code? I pretty much wing it. But yeah, last night me, Mom, Poncho, and Dodge were at the craft store and Mom made Dodge go with me to the knitting aisle. Which took us a long time to find, strangely; it was shoved in the corner. Dodge was being hyper and random and making me laugh at everything.
Dodge: “Wow, that’s real.” He held up a superball with an eye inside it. “Yeah right. Where’s the optic nerve?”
Then we finally found the yarn aisle…
Dodge: (holding up yarn) “This one is called Bunny Tail. They chop the tails off innocent bunnies!” (find another) “And cats! It’s called cattail!”
Me: (eye roll)
Dodge: “Ooooh, this one’s so soft. Feel it.”
Me: “No thanks.”
Dodge: “Feel it. FEEL IT RIGHT NOW!”
So that was… interesting….

Oh–And!

Yesterday was Grandma and Grandpa Vegas’ 49th wedding anniversary!!!!
So we went out to eat.

Grandpa Vegas (aka Turtle Grandpa): “So, Pen, someday maybe you’ll have a boyfriend who brings you here to eat, oooooh.”
Me: “Uh… I guess…”
Grandpa: “Make sure you eat a breath mint afterward! Hahaha!” (makes a kissing face)
I laughed, and Grandma just rolled her eyes. Which she has a habit of doing. She actually rolls her eyes at people at work. 

In other news, I finally set up my phone’s voicemail. Using a British accent. (then Eliza called from Kansas and left a message. Using a British accent. I cracked up!)
I’m looking forward to more messages left using British accents. Some people fare better than others. Dad does a really good impression of that Cockney cab driver from A Study in Pink, but he can also pull off a Jane-Austen-times type of gent. Mom is improving, but she still sounds like an American trying to sound British. Which she is, of course, but you know Americans. The main problem is they overdo it. They sound too gushy and over-enunciate-y. Most likely they get this idea from the fake Brits in American movies/shows. Sigh.

Off to write… or nap, whatever. ;)

Yours till the oak leaves,
Pen

they heard her singing her last song, the Lady of Shalott

Actually I didn’t sing. I sat in my fabulous cardboard boat, with my name written round and round the prow as the poem says, and stared off into space. Or rather, an imagined Camelot. Some people thought I was not real. Some people asked me what The Lady of Shalott was. Some middle-aged English buffs knew who I was.
3 of them, to be exact. That’s right. 3 people knew me!

It is the world record of people “getting” my costumes. It’s understandable; I usually go as someone obscure and literary-themed. The Thief Lord was understood by no one except Emma. When I went as the Mad Hatter people actually thought I was a boy. No one thought I was a boy this year, though. Well. I mean I truly hope not.

I am thinking of posting some Halloween pictures, but I do not have the camera on hand at the moment… I think Dodge is filming something, most likely… Dodge the YouTube star…

Anyway.

This year I finally tried something I’ve been wondering about since I was a kid: roasted pumpkin seeds. They were delicious! Dad made a “brine” to put them in so they’d be just the right amount of salty, and then I put them in the oven until they smelled good. I am taking some to the DHFs’ on the morrow so they can taste some, too.

Turtle Grandpa was Mr. Bones, aka a plastic skeleton that you can talk through via a microphone. Grandpa hid in the house behind the closed front door and did the voice of Mr Bones. Here are some memorable quotes:
“Hey! I’m Mr Bones! I never shut up.”
“The Lady in a  Box… Box, Camelox, it rhymes! Hey, you’re in a boat. Are you a goat? Are you a goat in a boat? A boat in a goat? Okay, okay. The Lady of Shalott. I got it.”
“They don’t need to x-ray me, they can just see through me.”
“I think I’m getting cold over here… I ain’t got no skin to keep out the wind.”
“Now, don’t forget to brush your teeth before bed tonight! Or else the dentist will be mad! No, wait, the dentist would be happy… Your parents will be mad, they have to pay the bill.”

Ah. I’m sure he said many more amusing things. Mom and Grandma were cracking up behind me all the time. And Grandpa seemed to be enjoying his role.

Poncho was sick this year, but Dad took him to a few houses. Dodge went to his friend’s house for an “epic Nerf war”. It was odd without him here, and I felt bad for poor Ponchito!! But they both had fun.

I had fun, too.
It was pretty fun.
Even though I started to go the way of the poem… “As her blood was frozen slowly…” Yup, I definitely felt that, especially in my hands. 

I am tired. 

At the closing of the day/ she loosed the chain and down she lay/ the broad stream bore her far away/ down to tower’d Camelot…

Love,
Pen of Shalott

Ha. Ha.

I saw a guy’s shirt that said:

Haikus are easy
But sometimes they make no sense
Refrigerator

And I cracked up. Then told everyone about it today at the Fest (which wavery fun, blahblahblah, save it for a different post when I have more time and a better keyboard because this one is terrible…).

Speaking of shirts we got Grandpa Vegas a shirt that says “the older the fiddle, the sweeter the tune” which he seemed to like. But when I first told him we brought him a present he said, “What? A turtle?” Because Dodge and I call him Turtle Grandpa now. Which all started at the zoo, when we saw the tortioses eating, and…
Grandpa: “Ha! Look! He ain’t got no teeth. He’s like me. I’m a turtle. Just call me Turtle Grandpa.”
So we obliged, naturally.

Anyway. I’m tired now. The Fest wore me out. We (the DHFs, me, and Poncho) went into the mosh pit and moshed along with a bunch of cheering, sweaty people. Steph had to hand her (new) shirt around to us so we could each wipe the sweat from our brow. Poncho loved the Fest and became endeared to our fellow moshers.

I love how after I said I was tired, I didn’t leave.

Random.

Word of the day according to Bug.

According to Dodge, the word of the day is either “WALT!” (he does a very funny Michael impression– and a scary Ben Linus one) or “mature” (something he is trying to make Poncho become– good luck, brotha.)

Srsly though I gotta go to bed. Tis midnight AND I am 2 typos away from KILLING THIS KEYBOARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

G’night. (I’m opposite Australian! You know, cuz they say G’day….)
Wow. I’m loopy.
–Pen

Refrigerator.

Happy St. Practice Day!

At my latest dance lesson, the bar below the studio was hopping. I wondered aloud why, and my teacher said dryly, “It’s St. Practice Day, I guess.” Hahaha.

So, anyway… I am excited. My Grandpa Vegas probably is, too. He tells everyone he meets that he’s Irish; he uses it alternately as a threat. (“You tell that nasty woman that if she doesn’t listen to you I’ll come down there! I’m Irish!”) I can see him now, proudly declaring “I’m Irish!” at every gathering we happen upon tomorrow, then in the next breath saying, “Them crazy Irishmen…” until I remind him that he is one of them crazy Irishmen. To which he will reply, “Yeah, I’m an Irish hillbilly” and break into his impression of an Irish jig, singing “Doe dee doe dee do; Yeah, Grandpa, click your heels!”

He’s awesome. :D

Broduil Irish,
Pen