Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My favorite child quotations (OK, and a couple of grownups, too)

I hope I get these right. Please post corrections, if your memory serves better than mine.

My youngest brother, who was (I think) about four at the time, was playing "three little pigs" with my youngest sister, who I believe was eight; he was making cushion houses with couch cushions, which she would then "blow" over. I was only sort of paying attention as I worked in the kitchen. All of a sudden, I heard a wail from my brother. My sister had just knocked over one of the cushion houses; my brother's protest was, "But [sister], that was a BRICK house!"

It's all a matter of perspective.

My oldest niece was over at my house for a visit one day. I think she was about three at the time. I needed to wash dishes, so I let her have a cloth and stand on a chair next to me at the sink. Again, I was somewhat absorbed in the task at hand, so I caught by surprise when I heard her say, "I'm scrubbing myself, with a scrubby-scrub-scrub."

I looked at her in alarm. I didn't really want to return her to her mother with soapy water all down her front. "You're scrubbing yourself?"

She returned my look with one of scorn. "The spoon." THAT should have been self-evident.

When I told this story to her mother (my sister), she pointed out that since this child was both an oldest and an extremely social child, she had learned to make inanimate objects talk for themselves.

One of my nephews was over at my house one evening, and told my roommate that he liked how her outfit looked. (Since I have stated ages thus far, this nephew was five when this happened.)

She thanked him for the compliment, and said, "You are such an angel."

He said, "Does that mean that I'm good? Because the other thing that it could mean is that I'm dead. Because angels are dead people. Vampires are dead people, too. Maybe I'm an angel vampire," and he went on like this for a while. Five-year-old logic is perfectly sound, but at times difficult to follow, so I don't really remember the rest of his commentary.

My mother visited London on a work trip, and of course one of the MUST see attractions is the London Eye, which is an enormous ferris wheel with these enclosed, see-through cars which take half an hour to go up to the top-- where you get this spectacular view of London-- and another half hour to come down again. One thing you must know about my mother to understand this story is that she gets seasick very easily. I mean, if she is reading on the living room couch and you are doing some sort of movement (other than walking past) which falls in her peripheral vision, she will ask you to stop doing whatever it is. So I guess that the London Eye, slow and stately though it is, does have some rocking motion to it, and sure enough Mom started feeling a bit ill by the end. She ended her report of the experience by saying, "So, I guess that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me."

My sister just younger than me teaches her 5-year-old in his Primary (church) class. The lesson last week was on laws. She handed out play-dough to the children so that they could make animals; the idea was, they could talk about how laws keep you safe, just like a fence around an animal can keep it safe. One child refused to touch the play-dough. Her son made a fairly respectable (though flatter than average, for real life) turtle. Another child struggled to make a cat. He finally gave up and went with the prevailing trend, though on a smaller scale than the others (see below).

The three remaining children came up to her one at a time. The first handed her a small, thick, tube-shaped creation.

"This is a worm," he announced.

She thought to herself: "Uh-oh. No one can make this play-dough work. We are going to have a mostly-worm menagerie."

Sure enough, the next child came up and handed her a piece of play-dough which looked remarkably like the first one she had gotten. "This is a snake."

The third child also handed her a thick, rolled piece of play-dough. "This is an eel."

Ta-da! Live with your limitations.

The other difficulty with this lesson was that one child kept insisting on talking about Scooby-Doo and scary monsters. After a number of frustrating exchanges, in which she tried to get him back on topic, she finally figured out that this child had misheard the topic; he thought that they were talking about "claws".

Finally, the story I shoud pull out every time people ask for an embarrassing moment, because it isn't THAT embarrassing, and it is pretty funny.

My office is on the third floor of the building where I work. During finals week (for me, as a student) I am expected to turn in grades and grade final tests for my students, on top of any finals I need to do for the classes I am taking. It is a fairly stress-filled, sleep-deprived week, and on top of that, I started feeling under the weather on Sunday, before all this started coming due.

So. I was doing grading stuff on the ground floor, and needed to go to my office, and since I was feeling sick, I took the elevator. When I am well, I can usually beat the elevator by taking the stairs two at a time (when I don't beat it, it's because I have stopped to talk to someone). This day, however, I decided that I didn't care how slow I went, and with how cruddy I felt, the elevator might well be the fastest way anyway.

I was pleased, as I walked towards the elevator, to see that one of the custodial crew was just getting on, which means that he held the door for me and I didn't have to wait for the elevator to make its slow way to the gound floor. He pushed the two, and I pushed the three. Just to be melodramatic, let's say that I leaned against the elevator wall as it crept its slow way upward. (I might really have, but I don't know for sure.)

I got off. I walked down the hall. I punched in the code for the door of my office. It didn't turn green as it usually does. I tried the code again. Again it didn't open. I looked at the nameplate.

AAAAAAH! What are they doing, changing everyone in the office, in the middle of finals week?! Where is my office now? Why didn't they tell me?

I looked around me, searching for answers, and sure enough I found one. It was the custodian. The one who had gotten off at level two. The same level that I had gotten off at.

I walked up to the third floor at that point. Elevators are just too tricky, sometimes.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Foods I am a snob about

I try my hardest to keep this list short, because being a food snob is expensive, on top of being annoying. However, the list does grow year by year.

Whole wheat flour-- there is absolutely no comparison between the stuff you (usually) buy at the store and fresh-ground. Only lack of money, storage space, and willingness to loose my hearing keeps me from buying a wheat grinder at this very moment.

Lemon and lime juice-- almost nothing does not taste better with fresh juice. I do find, however, that the lemons or limes in question are much easier to squeeze efficiently when I let them sit long enough that their skins get thin. So, juice from a lemon which has recently been whole, but which is not, itself, fresh fresh. (Actually, truth be told, I tend to eat more limes than lemons. This is because they are cheaper, and after my Mexican roommate told me that they don't differentiate them, lingistically or culinarily, where she comes from, I decided that I didn't care either.)

Oatmeal-- no, I do not prefer fresh. I prefer organic. I started buying it a couple of years ago at The Good Earth (local health food store) because there, even the organic stuff costs less than what you would find in a regular grocery store, so I thought: why not? I ate this stuff for months and months. We have a running joke at my house about how if you looked in my ear, the stuff inside would be gray not because it is my brain, but because it is oatmeal. I often eat it every night. One night, when I ran out of the organic stuff and had to use my roommate's "regular," I discovered, to my chagrin, that I had developed yet another food snobbery. The regular stuff really does taste like cardboard, now. But I don't think I would know if I didn't eat it as often as I do.

Tomatoes-- these are hardly worth mentioning, since any human being who does not hate tomatoes and has normally functioning taste buds is perfectly capable of figuring out that store-bought tomatoes tend to be pink-to-red-colored solidish water, and home-grown are the real thing. The only thing to add is, my father grew some Juliets (it's a variety) in the garden one year, and I still fantasize about eating such delicious tomatoes again.

Butter-- OK, so first thing, I eat butter and not margarine. After all my talk about trying to save money, there is the plain and honest and naked truth. But I will say that I go through it VERY slowly, unless young relatives who are reckless with the butter knife have been visiting. The second part of this confession is that I buy the kind of butter which has a very high fat content. I mean, if I am going to buy fat, I want to buy fat. I can skimp on it in my own kitchen; why pay someone else to do it for me?

Honey-- this only makes sense, since my very own great-great uncle was the owner of Cox's Honey in Shelley, Idaho, and that means that the current owners are probably something like my third cousins once or twice removed. I have tried the Cox's Honeyland honey from Utah, and I must say that it just isn't the same.

Gotta go. More later, I hope.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Princess Nice Girl Has Just Become a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Story

This is because it is largely the creation of my nephew, EE, who has first rights over the story. During a recent visit to my home, he spent most of the time telling me the further adventures of his princess-- and he took the story in a completely different direction than I had envisioned (see below). I, for my part, was sort of attached to the way I was taking things, so I decided that a choose-your-own- adventure might be the best route.

Turns out that Princess Nice Girl's parents are really aliens who are trying to take over the earth; Princess Nice Girl is actually the only one who (with one of her superpowers, which is hidden from her parents) can shoot down their little henchmen-robots. I am unclear on whether this superpower came from a beam, or is a (laser) beam, or both. She also has a superpower of hearing anyone who is screaming for a house.

She is in the book The Only Superhero Who Can Save The World.

She has a magical axe, which can cut down mountains just by touching them, and the mountains turn in to wood, which she can then build houses with. I commented that they must make an awful lot of wood. He said that yes, it was enough to build a whole city, and that it was even enough to build a tower to Mars.

He drew illustrations of all this for me while I was taking a nap-- I have but to get the pictures, a scanner, and a computer-with-working-internet all in one place, now. He also decided that Princess Nice Girl's hair was yellow. I have seen the picture (I promise to scan it in for you, very, very soon), and I can personally report that it is indeed yellow, and not anything like blonde.

Actually, truth be told, the pictures are how this whole thing started-- I desperately needed a nap, so I sat him down at the kitchen table with drawing supplies and instructions to wake me up only if he really needed me. Let it be a warning to you: crazy things can happen when you let a five-year-old loose with colored pencils and blank paper.

In related news, EE's cousin, T, read the original story and liked it, but decided that Princess Nice Girl was not quite the right name. She will be letting me know of acceptable alternatives any time now-- I'll be sure to keep you posted.