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).

musha ring dam-a do, dam-a da

So, the other day I thought it would be really fun to climb on these stumps that Dad brought home and had not yet chopped up into firewood. (Yes, this is his most recent obsession: Free Wood. There’s this thing called Emerald Ash Borer that is killing trees in our area– or rather, it infests some of them and then everyone freaks out and chops down EVERY ASH TREE IN SIGHT WHICH IS NOT COOL BECAUSE OF REASONS WITH HISTORICAL BACKUP but I will not get into that, although it reminds me of a quote I saw: “Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. But those who do study history are doomed to watch everyone else repeat it.” Aka, this is exactly what happened with Chestnut Blight and do you SEE any chestnuts still around? NO. So, yeah, just, GAHHHHHHHHH. OK. Anyway…. So all these trees got cut down and then the people are giving the wood away and Dad likes to prove how macho his truck is by hauling away an inordinate amount of stumps. *end of tangent*)

Well, these stumps all stacked in the yard looked really cool, and up I climbed. Dodge was in the yard, too, and as he watched me he said, “You’re going to fall and break your face.”
Me: “I am not.” *dances around on a stump*
Dodge: “Yes, you are. And I’m gonna laugh and go inside like nothing happened.”
Me: “You wouldn’t leave me here alone! And anyway… I’m not going to fall.”
Me: *falls*
Me: “My broken face!!!”
(Or, for people like the DHFs and me who have watched Tangled excessive times: “You broke my smolder.”)
Well, I didn’t actually break my face or my smolder (I don’t have a smolder, apparently, because the other day the DHFs and I were trying to do that, and eventually just goofed around. Francis said: “Yeah, that’s how it would really be. Pen would look spazzy, Bug would look… like whatever that is, and Eliza would have that sweet smile.”), I just bruised my arm. At any rate, there goes my career as a stunt guy.

I mean, it’s bad enough that I can’t climb trees– but I can’t even climb a wood pile! Pathetic. What a city kid.

In other news, the past few days have been: write, write, write, and while not writing, practice the tin whistle I got over the weekend at the Irish Festival. Not to brag, but I’m pretty good. Thank you, years of regular flute training. Also thank you, Youtube, for basically being my Professor Of Everything Including How To Clean Out Spit.
Dad: “That thing is actually pretty loud.”
Me: *gleeful and excessive jigs*
Dad: “Ok, well… Bye.”

Now begins my second phase of learning, which is memorizing songs. I’ve always wanted to do this, so, we’ll see. Anyway, the Irish Festival was fun, and… interesting. It is a long (and now told approximately 800 times) story, so I’ll spare you. But there is another Irish Festival I’ll be going to, this time with Bug! I am really excited. Although, as we all know, the laws of physics dictate that every time we take Bug somewhere, the unexpected will most definitely happen. We never know what the unexpected will be (see: the weird train place, the Ripe festival failure… the only unexpected thing that didn’t happen was, we never did see the Mythological Rory. However, maybe that’s because I expected that would be the unexpected thing. “Reverse psychology!!!” Poncho would yell– even though it’s not exactly reverse psychology. It’s just his new thing. As Inigo Montoya would say, “I don’t think it means what you think it means.”).

I guess the only other thing that’s been going on around here is Poncho’s enormous obsession with Doctor Who (he is firmly a Matt Smith fan, and refuses to watch any of the other doctors even though there was a really long wait for the next season at the library). Whew. Lots of parenthesis today. Also movie quotes.

Yours till the TARDIS lands in our backyard (it could happen, just ask Poncho),
Pen

a miscellany

Six.
Days.

That ticking sound you hear? (Or are now pretending to hear?) That’s the sound of me mentally counting down the days until I will be leaving for Kentucky. (Hopefully with Dodge in tow… I mean, no pressure, bro. But PLEASE COME PLEASE PLEASE -pleeeee-heeeease. ) I can’t wait! It’s so, so, fun and cool and awesomesauce, as Poncho would say.

Oh, and speaking of things Poncho would say, this is how my conversations have been going with him lately:

Me: “Hey, Ponch, where are your glasses?”
Poncho: “IDK.”
Me: “Well, Mom called and said she’s on her way home with groceries, so get upstairs to help me unload them.”
Poncho: “BRB.”
Me: “Hurry up, will you? I hate unloading.”
Poncho: “IKR.”
Me: “All right, that’s it. Get AFK now, kid.”For the blissfully unaware, those abbreviations mean, in order of appearance: I don’t know, Be right back, I know right?!, and Away from keyboard. The only reason I know some of these is because either Dodge or Poncho explained them to me. Because I’ve had texting for maybe a year and have only been using the interwebs (Poncho has also started saying “interwebs”; I have created a monster) for things other than school projects since… I don’t know. Back then it was a happy time of sending “ship log” emails to Eliza. (Do you remember those, Eliza?)

In other news… I’m sick with a cold today. Hence the blogging. I’m resting, trying to get better before we leave for Kentucky, but resting is boring. Of course, yesterday– when the cold was worse– was even more boring. All I did was sit in my room under a pile of blankets/shawls/tissues/crumbs from my nth slice of nutella-coated toast, slowly sipping orange juice (every sip goes like this: Ick! But vitamins. It’s icky! But vita– Eurgh! Take it away! But vitamins…) and wasting away between doses of medicine. I tried to distract myself by checking email (I had none), texting everyone I know (OK, actually it was just Bug and Eliza, but same thing), starting to knit a cuff and then unraveling it, drooling over an Irish-pub-food cookbook, and making up a personality quiz. It’s a good thing I don’t have the face-books, is all I can say. Luckily, since then I have done some creative things… I practiced watercolors, which I haven’t done in a while and am kind of terrible at. I’m great at making different colors– I made five different shades of turquoise last night– but it’s the actual painting that needs work.
Like, a lot.

And I don’t really know why I care about my painting skills, seeing as my life is not a Jane Austen (or even Elizabeth Gaskell) novel,  but oh well, I don’t care to contemplate the meaning of life/art/human experience when my sore throat makes the air feel like dust and sand.

Speaking of Elizabeth Gaskell (yeah, okay, sometimes I mention things on purpose just to lead into what I’m going to say next, so sue me), I finally got Mom to watch North and South. North and South: Movie that I thought, after she was so into Little Dorrit, that Mom would love.

Yeah, well, she hated it.
Her comments were:
(imitating the girl) “Oh, no, please do not continue… Because we still have two more episodes before we’ll finally get together!”
“I mean, what is her problem?”
“I can’t read her facial expressions. Or expression. Does she have any others?”
Which was kind of how Dodge reacted to Mr. Thornton:
“Grr. Angry face.”
“Nope, nope, don’t smile… Uh-oh… Good job. Same face. All the time.”
“I bet if he smiled, he would die instantly.”
Me: “You know that’s Thorin Oakenshield, right?”
Dodge: “It IS?” (squints at the screen) “…I liked him better as a dwarf.”
I kind of did, too. You see, until that point, I had only seen the movie once, during which I spent more time trying to understand what the heck people were saying and how that related to the plot, rather than evaluating their facial expressions. The second time around, I couldn’t stand them.

Also, the first time I saw North and South, I had not yet seen Little Dorrit.
Little Dorrit changes everything, you guys.
You can never look at BBC movies, potential suitors, top hats, chicken, French people, prunes (or prisms), watches– your life! the same way again. If your feet are cold inside your shoes, your heart melts into little pieces (at least mine does; maybe I should get that looked at).

Then again, I have not yet seen Little Dorrit for a second time.
Maybe I shouldn’t, much as I want to.
I don’t think I will ever recover if I un-like that one. It’s already too ingrained in my psyche…! If you strung together all the times I’ve talked about it, you could build a raft out of them and sail to Timbuktu. You could also become famous for stringing together invisible things such as time, and then build a time machine, and then–

Oh-kay! That train of thought got a little out of hand… Anyway. I suppose I should go now, and get ready to go to the local public high school on some GED business.

Oh dear.

Yours till the teacups,
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

the snow’s coming down, I’m watching it fall

It’s snowing!!!!! YAAAAAYYYYY!!!!!

I was so excited when I woke up this morning and saw the flakes sliding past my window. I stood up on my bed and announced “It’s snowing!” to the world. Or, um, myself. Whatever.

Well, I’ve been sick with a cold for the past few days. (But poor Mom had the flu…) Of course that didn’t stop me from my volunteering job! This time I worked with a med student named Erin who was very nice, and also formed an… interesting… view of me.
Her: “So, are you a med student too?”
Me: “No. Well, I’m not really any kind of student.”
Her: “So what do you do when you’re not volunteering?”
Me: “I work at the library and I write.”
Her: “Oh, that’s really cool. So, did you go to school for English?”
Me: (stifled laughter) “Erm. No.”
Her: “You just started writing out of high school, then?”
Me: (thinking: holy cow, she thinks I’m in college or out of college…) “It’s kind of something I’ve always done, so yeah, even before high school. Yep.”
Later I overheard her telling someone I was a librarian(!) and, well, it was kind of a nice fairyland that I was experiencing there, where everyone pretty much assumed I was an adult. I didn’t confirm or deny. As Mom would say, “That would be true, and also, not a lie!”
It was also very fun giving her book-present suggestions. (Mom said, “Now look what you’ve done, she’ll give that to someone and say it was recommended by a librarian!” To which I replied, “It’s a classic, okay!?!”) (Because yeah, you guessed it: I recommended Alice.)

Hey, I know, let’s jump around in chronological order so that I can tell you about all the fun things that happened recently!

Like the…. JARS OF CLAY Christmas concert! They played Christmas music! They played “Closer”!!!! Aaaaaand we were the only ones dancing? (By we I mean: the DHFs, me, and Poncho the Awesomesauce, of course.)
DHFs: “I mean, how could you not dance to that?”
Me: “I think they drank the poison cool-aid, you guys. They were dead as doornails. Bumps on a log.”
Francis: “I don’t think the band could see us dancing way back there.”
Me: “Of course they could see us. We were the only things moving in the whole place!”
Oh, and did I mention that we all had to sing “The Twelve Days of Minecraft” (thank you, Youtube parodies, for killing my sanity) on the way there to cheer Poncho up? (“Fiiiiive gol-den blocks!”) It took PoorBill half the song to figure out that it was a Minecraft thing… Yeeeeeah.
The next morning (we slept over), we all discussed how apparently no one understands “The Long Fall Back to Earth” album even though it perfectly sums up a CHUNK OF MY SOUL.

And… The Hobbit! (I said this in a singsongy voice.) (In my head.) I had a more detailed critique,  but my main thoughts were:
Hi, Mr. Thornton.
The singing is lovely.
I want some dwarf friends.
Bilbo is awesome.
The end.
Oh, and Dodge came. :)

Speaking of movies, I finally watched “A Hard Day’s Night” yesterday while resting from my sickness. I had meant to watch Captain America, but my DVD was damaged (it looked all burned and weird. I blame HYDRA). So I found A Hard Day’s Night online and watched it, and wow, it was weird. It kind of reminded me of Alice in Wonderland (possibly the movie versions more than the actual book, due to disjointed-ness) because it was so nonsensical.

I also went last-minute Christmas shopping (mostly for craft supplies, as I made most of the presents this year, but also for some hard-to-find items) with Eliza and Bug. (I just realized that I do basically everything with Eliza and Bug.) (And they’re going to comment like, “What do you mean you just realized? This has been going on for years!”) Now I am almost done with all of my Christmas presents, even though I’m now going at a somewhat breakneck pace and will probably be finishing some on Christmas Eve. (Bug knitted through The Hobbit in order to finish a present! Now that is some dedication!) Or The Second Day of Christmas. Ironically, the ones I started the earliest are going to be the last done. My life in a nutshell, people. But oh well, they’re fun to make.

Then I shall commence with wrapping. Well, I have already commenced somewhat. I am really excited to wrap everyone’s differently and with much more creativity than in previous years. And we also have to finish decorating and tidying the house… Excitement! Anticipation!

(O come, O come, Emma-a-anuel…)

Yours from beautiful snow-land,
Pen

PS: As I wrote this, Mom and Poncho were wrapping presents at the table where I am working… Poncho said in a creepy robot voice, “I want to be the wrap-inator.”

rage against the dying of the light(s)

Driving through Dad’s old neighborhood today…
Dad: “That’s where I went to elementary school.”
Me: “Wow, that’s an intimidating-looking building.”
Dad: “Willie’s Workhouse.”
Me: “Haha! What’s the real name of it, isn’t it Wilbur Wright?”
Dad: “Wilbur Wrong.”

So, you guys. The Christmas tree is up and lit, after the Lighting Fiasco, which went like this:
Dad set up the tree. Then he and Poncho were supposed to put the lights on. So they did. Then they turned the lights on, except… the lights didn’t work. They took the lights off. Then the lights did work. Then they put the lights back on.
Poncho: “If they don’t work again, I’m quitting the lights for all enternity!”
Mom: “I am so sick of everyone quitting lights for all eternity.”
Then only half the lights worked.
Dad: “Maybe we should test to see if the tree is really fire-retardant.”

Then today we went to the store and bought new lights (well, Mom and the boys dug through lights, I perused the ornaments, which I determined were incredibly cheap-o, and also would be easy to make if I liked them). Then we came home and Poncho put the lights on the tree again, but only halfway and it looked like a net thrown over the tree. Then, finally, Mom helped him weave the strings of lights into the branches, and it was finally done.

In the meantime, Dad put a string of lights up outside, and I made approximately 40 feet of paper chain. I would have kept going, but my fingers started to give up the will to live, and I was also hoarse from singing along with endless Beatles. (which I am still listening to now.)

During the Tree-Lighting Fiasco, Mom instructed me to put on some music for Poncho as he lit the tree… So what did I put on but “Please Please Me”? When Mom came back into the room, she gave me a look.
Mom: “What is this.”
Me: “The Beatles are always appropriate.”
Mom: “They are not Christmas music.”

Hey, the season’s supposed to be joyous, right? Well, there you go.

So, anyway, there is some tree-related news… This is probably the last year that we’ll use this tree. It’s lasted over fifteen years, and its condition is what Mom would call well-loved. Of course, after the Fiasco, the boys are begging for a pre-lighted one, but Mom has a specific vision that must be carried out, and the main tenet is: The lights must be multi-colored, not all white. I totally understand this because our tree is so eclectic. It’s basically a mishmash of all of our lives, past and present, all of our likes and phases and yes, even craft projects– including a blue snowman that Mom made in third grade. We don’t decorate the tree, we barrage it. And it’s kind of awesome.

Poncho, looking at the (finally) lighted tree: “Awesomesauce.”
Me: “You did not just say ‘awesomesauce’.”
Poncho: “Naaaaar-whaaaaaals!”
Me: “Okay then.”

Yours till the fire lights,
Pen

The Haymaker’s Jig

So our city has an “Irish Cultural Festival” every year. Actually, it’s pretty lame, to use Poncho’s new favorite word. But my dance school was performing, so guess were I was on Saturday?

We (Mom, Poncho, and I) got there early because I was hoping there would be many musicians present, namely Irish flute players to answer all of my pressing questions. (Pressing because I have $200 in an envelope labelled “Flute Fund” and it’s burning a hole in my dresser drawer. My socks might catch fire if I don’t spend it soon.) (Just kidding. I’m not so cliche as to keep my money hidden in a sock drawer. In fact I don’t even have a dresser.) (It’s actually in a drawer full of postage stamps, post-it notes, and old stories that I wrote in the third grade and can’t bear to throw away even though they have titles like “Two Little Ragamuffins”, I kid you not.)

Also, Mom wanted to get Poncho a bodhran. And I like that I can say “bodhran” on here because it’s in print and not in real life where I consistently fail at pronouncing even English words correctly. And Poncho wanted to get just about everything he saw. Except a kilt. He drew the line at the mere suggestion.

So eventually it was time to get over to the stage and warm up, run through the show a few times.
(Dance teacher: “Pen, you look terrified when you’re going in the circle.”
Me: “Because I am terrified!”
Dance Teacher:  “Oh, come on. Of what?”
Me: “Falling, or screwing up.”) (I could never decide which would be worse.) 
Then it was time to dance, but the schedule was messed up and we had to wait for an hour and a half next to the stage, in a big clump of green and white tie-dye. While we waited… I stood beside a large fan that was going, half-listening to the conversations that were happening around me. I was really, really thirsty, but I didn’t have water. I briefly considered “accidentally” drinking out of someone else’s. Then I spied it, in the corner, partly hidden behind a makeshift backstage curtain: one of those plastic barrels, full of water and stocked with paper cups. Which I promptly used, despite thinking that I was maybe not supposed to. I felt like a real rebel, boldly drinking the cold water. Liberty or death-by-thirst! I swigged it down and crushed the paper cup into my fist.

Then I realized that I’d been observed the whole time by the one boy in our class, who snuck over to the water just as I snuck away, both of us pretending not to see each other. Rebel code of honor.

Finally we danced, and it was fantastic, and I didn’t fall or screw up. And I knew I had to come back and dance again later, so in between I hung out with some friends and tried in vain to find some flute people to talk to. And Poncho got a bodhran!

Time to dance again… Then I realized that the musicians who were playing before us now had a flute player! Of course they did, since we were in line to go onstage. The musicians started packing up, and then our show began. I kept debating– go backstage and talk to the flute guy, or stay?

Then I thought: If I do not talk to a flute person today, I HAVE WASTED MY LIFE.

So I went.

Me: “Hi… Um, which one of you was the flute player?”
The three guys: (with thick Irish accents) “Why?”
Flute Guy: “Me…?”
Me: “Um, how long are you going to be around? I have to dance but I wanted to ask you some questions.”
Now, keep in mind, music is blasting in the background. Also did I mention the accents.
Flute Guy: “Can you ask me them now, or…?”
Me: “Ask in an hour?”
Flute Guy: “I said, can you ask me them now, or, are they long questions?”
Me: “OK, well– IplaytheclassicalflutebutIwantanIrishflutebutIdon’tknowwhichkindtogetorwheretogetone?”
Flute Guy: “Oh. That is a long question.”
Me: *Internal panic as I realize the Straight-Line Jig is ending*
Flute Guy: “Do you have a pen?”
So one of the band members scrounged up a pen, and the flute guy told me his email address while I scrawled it on my hand. Just in time to make it to the Reel!

When that was over, I came offstage to find that Poncho had gotten himself a rather heavy foam-ish sword in the meantime.

Then we finally went home. And yesterday was Eliza’s graduation party (chest-wracking sobs) (move along, I’ll be fine in a sec…) (see? oh, that sniffling you hear. It’s just allergies. I swear.) and we learned two ceili dances, one of which was called The Haymaker’s Jig and was my favorite. The other was called The Siege of something-or-other. Names of songs and dances are interesting, because they just make me wonder how they got named that. Like “The Downfall of Paris”. Pretty upbeat song, and the dance really seems to have nothing to do with the downfall of anything. And sometimes songs are called “Tripping Up the Stairs” or “The Dusty Windowsill” and I just raise one eyebrow at it all.

Just kidding. I can’t raise one eyebrow. Only Poncho has that particular power.

~Pen

PS: Bill said to me at the beach, “You Irish like to exaggerate a bit, don’t you?” And I said, “It’s not exaggerating. It’s called telling a good story.” Hence the bit about the socks catching fire, and the one eyebrow.
PPS: Also now whenever I think of eyebrows I think of how Bug got sunburned over one eyebrow at the beach. She looked perpetually bemused for a while.

Hit, Miss, Sunk

Poncho: “I called F-7 and his boat was there and there so he should have said sunk, right?”
Me: “Um, yeah…”
Dad: “I don’t think you called F-7.”
Poncho: “I did! I called C-7 and D-7 and E-7 and F-7.”
Me: “Okaaay…”
Poncho: “So, Dad didn’t say sunk, which makes it a crime of war–”
Me: “A crime of war?!”
Dad: “I didn’t cheat.” 
Poncho: “So I should have won, right?”
Me: “Sure. Right.”

Apparently Poncho takes Battleship very seriously. Actually, it wasn’t really Battleship, because he made up a different version of the game that includes torpedoes and double-fire and who knows what else. Grandpa had a hard enough time trying to play regular Battleship the other day, because he thought it was possible to retreat and move the ships around. (“Whale!”)

Speaking of games, I played Fruit Ninja for the first time yesterday morning. And I do not understand the point of that game at all. Why must you slice the fruit? What happens if you don’t (besides losing)? Why are there bombs? At least with Angry Birds there’s incentive to smash the pigs because they laugh at you when you miss horribly (I’m not very adept at touch screens, okay! Or catapults…). Angry Birds is the story of determined little creatures fighting against smug green pigs. Fruit Ninja is… slicing fruit. There is no meaning!

Aaaaand I expect a story/meaning from an app.

Well, that’s what happens to a person when they don’t actually own any app-ified products (just play them once in a blue moon on someone else’s) and spend their time reading.

Or, also. Knitting a sock. (That’s right, I’m actually Miss Marple in disguise. That explains my old-lady habits. Well, I did solve the Bethesda Printer Mystery! I will never forget that shining moment of my life. Just saying.) And on Monday, Eliza made salt dough and we all stamped things in it, to make pendants and buttons and such. Rachel said, “Well, we’re officially ready for the apocalypse. We’ll have warm socks and wear salt dough jewelry.”
Because we definitely have to plan for jewelry. Gotta look fabulous while stirring up the squirrel gut stew…

Till the battle ships,
Pen

chalklate

Me: “Hey Poncho, do you know if we have any chalk?” (I needed some white chalk for a project I was working on.)
Poncho: “Well… I have some. I have a bunny one.”
Me: “OK, what color is it?”
Poncho: “I have one with weird eyes–”
Me: “Yeah, but what color is it?”
Poncho: “And I have another one–”
Me: “What COLOR is it?”
Poncho: “Um, brown.”
Me: “I don’t know if that’ll work, but bring it to me.”
Poncho: (Brings me a chocolate bunny from his leftover Easter candy.)
Me: “What’s this for?”
Poncho: “You said choc!”
Me: “Chaaaaallllkk.”
Poncho: “Oh. I thought you meant, like, short for chocolate.”
Both: ……………….
Me: “I’ll eat it anyway.”