Archive for March, 2008

Oatso funny

March 29, 2008

Nyssa’s sense of humor is coming along nicely. To backtrack a little, a couple weeks ago I got sick of the kids continually getting cheerios all over the floor and threatened them with a week of oatmeal if it persisted. They must not have taken me seriously (they should know better by now I would think) because, sure enough, cheerios everywhere. So I enacted the sentence and to add insult to injury made them eat the baby porridge that you have to reconstitute. Sounds sadistic? I blame my dad and the Fishstick Punishment of ’93. Anyway, yesterday I took Nyssa to McDonalds to reward her for coming to the vet with me. Yeah, I know, but it’s the only place on the high street that does proper (well..) milkshakes, and she was yearning for one. Here we are also subjected to McDonalds Monopoly, and she got a sticker to peel on her cup. She was an instant winner–of a free bowl of Oatso Simple Porridge. Apparently British people consider that a prize and not, you know, an act of cruelty. Nyssa got the brilliant idea of taking it home, acting all excited and going on and on about winning a wonderful prize but wanting to give it to her beloved brother. The deflated look on his face upon reading his ‘prize’ was excellent.

Another Nyssa food-related funny–she came running to me the other day after a dinner of pasta and vegetarian ‘scampi’ exclaiming, ‘Mum I LOVE the pasta and scabs you made for dinner!’

Oh oh, I passed my car theory test, w00t. 🙂 Now to get my eyes checked, new glasses, and start properly driving.

So, I’ve declared this a house-cleaning weekend, but so far all we’ve managed is one run to Argos and now James and the kids are playing Xbox 360 while eating Ikea snacks, and I’m nursing a headache and thinking I’ll need a nap before anything more strenuous.

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To help me manage a post..

March 25, 2008

..stealing a meme from Rasjane (see side bar–she is effing brilliant)

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?
People assume Lana Turner. Parents insist my name means ‘Light Reborn’ as apparently the sun came out when I was born. I believed this until I gave birth and realized there was no way Ray or I would have been gazing out the window, but aw, bless’em for the sentiment.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?
Few days ago? I’m a sad, desperate individual. And I was such a stoic kid..

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?
Have to admit, I like my scrawling. Well, until white board time.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT?
Umm..does Arby’s roast beef count? Because that stuff with Arby’s sauce and melted swiss, and maybe even dipped in ranch sauce…*homeresque drooling* If there was an organic Arby’s back home I do believe I’d move back.

5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS?
I have six, three of whom are human, two of whom are minors.

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?
Yeah..we could trade babysitting. And have loads of snark sessions.

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM?
Never. Srsly.

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS?
Believe so.

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?
I guess if normal life didn’t produce the unnecessary adrenaline the way it does, I might go looking for some in a controlled manner. At the moment, it would take a hell of a lot of Xanax.

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL?
Generally, anything with the word ‘clusters’ in it. The fancy, unhealthy M&S ones. Grape Nuts with cold milk, assuming I eat them within two minutes of the milk hitting the bowl.

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF?
I wear Danskos nearly always. My only tied shoes are either combat boots, or whimsical tied-up-around-the-ankles espadrilles, so, sorta have to.

12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG?
In what sense? I have very strong opinions. I’m physically a wimp. Emotionally I’m a bit tenuous. I tend to do well in desperate or emergency situations, for some reason.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM?
Oh God, not sure if they still make it, but during the holidays you used to be able to get Ben & Jerry’s in a gingerbread flavor. I also really like peppermint candy and bubblegum. For reals.

14.WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?
Their accent–because I spend so much time translating :P.

15. What is your favorite color?
Teal, grey, deep reddish orange

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?
When my brain decides it needs some Munchausen’s by Proxy playtime with my mind. I also have atrocious posture, little patience, little sympathy for people who seem to be making my life harder, my face and voice communicate irritation or unhappiness when I don’t mean them to, and I’m crap at keeping all the rooms tidy at once.

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST?
Grandma Hazel and Grandpa Ed

19. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING?
Pants like trousers? Dark blue jeans. Pants like underwear? Your bog standard M&S black cotton ones. And also brown faux fur slippers.

20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE?
This is brilliant–a stale croissant and instant decaff. Yeah, I know.

21. WHAT ARE YOU listening to RIGHT NOW?
TV adverts. I like background noise.

22. If you were a crayon what color would you be?
Mustard Yellow, because that’s the ones all the kids in kindergarten used for naughty drawings ;).

23. FAVORITE SMELLS?
Anything that reminds me of Grandma’s. Cloves, tarragon, limes, coffee brewing, imminent rain, Lush, biscuits (american) baking, lit matches, damp earth, evergreens, kitty heads, little kid necks, James’ shirts, my mom’s lap, my dad just generally.

24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?
Nyssa’s dance instructor. A few days ago. No wait, it was James’ dad.

25. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU?
I lurvv her.

26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH
baseball, horse racing, cricket..they are really good to nap to. I like to catch American Football because it reminds me of my dad.

27. HAIR COLOR?
Unnatural dark brown. Because god messed up.

28. EYE COLOR?
Brown.

29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS?
No.

30 FAVORITE FOOD?
Things that involve vinegar, horseradish, limes, garlic, pastry, rice, red leicester, emmental, gruyere, irish cheddar, lager, pistachios…

31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS?
Umm..unrealistically happy endings bother me profoundly, so..not sure. It is fun once in a while to scare the shit out of myself with a scary movie. It’s never fun to want to throw bricks at the TV for showing me glib, dopily happy people.

32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED?
Stardust.

33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING?
reddish-orange

34. SUMMER OR WINTER?
Well, summers this far north have lots of daylight, but the climate is rubbish. Winters this far north have no daylight, and, well, the climate is rubbish. I guess I prefer the Scottish summer.

35. HUGS OR KISSES?
Hugs. I tend to loathe kisses on my face (I’m seriously odd), unless of course from my kids. Or the cats.

36. FAVORITE DESSERT?
I’m on a lemon kick, so either lemon cheesecake, or lemon tart, or lemon and white chocolate something..that reminds me, I’ve wanted to come up with a cookie recipe involving the latter.

37. MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND?
Um? Or did you mean who would most likely also do this meme rather than what I’m mostly likely to reply to people? I’m neural-activity challenged as a general state. I have no idea who even reads this, much less who would want to do a meme.

38. Least likely to respond?
Again..

39. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW?
The Highway Code. My theory test is in two days!

40. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?
Coffee cup, some wrappers, a glove, an advert, my passport, some hemp lotion..

41. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT?
A whole lot of Veronica Mars and Deep Space 9. Geek rawk.

42. FAVORITE SOUND?
The kids giggling when they’re trying to be surreptitious about something. The cats chirping. Babies who are crying in that desperate ‘oh my god they’re going to let me starve!!’ kind of way. Bob Dylan’s ‘Buckets of Rain.’

43. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES?
I can’t listen to the Stones without a mental image of Mick Jagger, so the latter! Though Sir Paul’s not looking so hot these days either..

44. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME?
Well, it was the UK..until it became my home. So is it now Seattle? 😉

45. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?
Shaking my eyeballs from side to side really rapidly. At some point I sang fairly well, but I keep coughing up rust, it’s been so long.

46. WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
Pullman, Washington

Right, think I’ll finish right there. We’re getting a cold snap here, and my fingers are about frozen now. Good night all.

Meet our mascot

March 18, 2008

This is Mitu’s favorite place to perch. Isn’t he lovely??? *heartsandflowers* You can vote for him here.

Organic = world starvation?

March 17, 2008

Further to my blathering about trying to eat ethically..which in itself seems a bit rich, pardon the pun, given that I’m part of a scant percentage of the world population that’s privileged enough to be able to give over the time and money to doing so. Cynical consumer guilt is fun. So, I was reading some criticisms of organic farming. There were some decent points, assuming their facts were accurate. I had always assumed that the state of the world food supply was that we produce enough, but are woefully inefficient at distributing it. Apparently, that’s not the case. The exploding population has, according to some, pushed the need for food to a point that only intensive mono-culture farming can provide enough sustenance. Organic farming comes into an obvious clash with this reality in that it is lower-yield. The proponents of intensive farming argue that by using existing land more aggressively, we are actually preventing deforestation. Organic farmers would counter that they are protecting biodiversity and keeping toxins in the environment to a minimum. I honestly don’t know what to think. Population needs to be managed somehow, but in the meantime people need to be fed. On the other hand, what’s the point of perpetuating the species in the way that we do if our grandkids are to be handed a toxic planet to manage?

From a consumer point of view, I suppose what makes sense is to minimize inefficiency by buying locally-produced food where possible. From a political/social/etc. point of view I don’t know that organic farming will ever be achievable world-wide, but certainly it should be encouraged where practical. I think that ameliorating the myriad issues relating to population will produce the positive gains necessary to make widespread organic farming feasible. For example, people should perhaps consider eating less meat, as the land and water it will free up for feeding other humans will be substantially increased. Where it is not necessary to have large families, more ought to be done to provide access to birth control. Maybe we should be more critical of food pornographers who equate quality of life with meals prepared with ingredients that must be sourced from all over the planet. It also wouldn’t hurt for governments to legislate such that food is treated less as a commodity that is tied to profit and more as a resource that no one should be denied access to, but that requires much more optimism than I’m comfortable with :P.

The price of ethical eating..

March 15, 2008

..is an internet trawling-induced headache 😛

Anyway. So, James and I have revised our family’s eating standards. For simplicity’s sake, we’ve been ovo-lacto vegetarians, using organics whenever possible (or indeed affordable), for 5+ years. We had a chat, and have decided that it’s acceptable for us to be eating meat as well, as long as it’s from systems that look after both the welfare of animals and the environment. To be honest, if we were to be vegetarian for not-killing-animals reasons, then we should really be vegans. I’ve had a good think and here’s what I make of the animals being killed for our benefit..thing:

PETA makes a distinction between animal welfare and animal rights, which I think is fairly apt. Obviously, they go for the latter in believing that animals are not ours to be used for food, clothing, entertainment, etc. As harsh as it sounds, I don’t believe animals have any inherent rights. Leaving aside my nihilism, in the human construct of rights, those who have them also have duties. A lion doesn’t owe anything to a sheep, and neither can it expect anything from it. I can say the same thing for human babies. What humans have done in order to cope with being social animals with sentience is create the concept of covenantal ethics. We want to be protected, along with our possessions and vulnerable kin, so we create the tit-for-tat rules that promise our good behavior in return for that of our fellow humans. We obviously can’t have that sort of relationship with animals. What we have done is extend our humanity to an empathy for the suffering of other species. I don’t really have any philosophical reason for it, but I fall squarely into this camp. It *bothers* me when people are cruel to animals, and I don’t feel any need to justify this knee-jerk emotional response. I can only assume that better humans (better as in humans I am more likely to want to be around) are nurtured amongst those people who strive to diminish or prevent suffering, no matter who or what is experiencing it. My desire to protect the environment is purely pragmatic–we cannot have a healthy future on a shat-upon planet. So, to the point, I don’t have a problem eating meat if 1. animal welfare standards are observed and 2. it is only occasionally, as raising meat as food is environmentally inefficient.

So, the results of the trawl, most of which was done on Compassion in World Farming’s website. I also took note of the RSPCA’s materials regarding ‘Freedom Foods’, but to be honest they don’t do much to address environmental issues. The same can be said in reverse for some organic food. It’s all very confusing. Any, what follows is a list, mostly for my benefit, of foods that I can source fairly easily. That is, that doesn’t require shipping food here, or taking the series of buses out to the organic farm (I adore the irony that once I get my car my ethical shopping will become much more feasible).

So. From Marks and Spencer:
-all eggs, dairy, beef, lamb, veal, trout, salmon, halibut, chicken, venison, geese and duck, buying their organic and free-range where possible. Apparently their pork has been greatly improved this year, so I suppose that’s on the list as well.

Other
-nobody does ethical quail, though if there was a Waitrose I could have quail eggs.

-Tesco does trout, venison, outdoor reared and bred pork, but labels need to be carefully scanned. The organic eggs and milk are fine, though I should probably be getting my cheese from M&S.

-only free-range or organic turkey, regardless of store.

-there is no local source of ethically slaughtered farmed fish, aside from what was mentioned.

-my guess is that most seafood is off-limits because of the intensive methods used to harvest it, but I shall have to do more reading.

Exceptions:
-cat food. Am I likely to find the special diet food my old cat needs in an organic shop? Methinks not. Science Diet it is.

-Eating out–this will require discussion. Obviously we’ll be avoiding the usual perpetrators (as much as I love their shitty food).

-Eating with friends and family. I think the rule will be something along the lines of eating what is offered with a grateful spirit.

So now that that is mostly dealt with, the next item of questionable ethics can come to the fore–I apparently need to be a lot more careful about where I buy my wool/yarn: link. Also, we need to have a think about zoos, animal parks, etc.: link. I really have a hard time with larger animals, roaming predators, primates, many birds, etc. being kept in zoos and parks, but I’m not sure what I think about other species. I just don’t know enough about the welfare of these animals to make an informed opinion. Something to remedy, surely.

It’s always interesting..

March 10, 2008

..the things the kids do pick up. For example, Joseph just can’t keep the word ‘solfege’ in his head. But he’s lived through enough british Christmas Fetes that he has the concept of the obligatory fundraising schemes down. He picked up a toy binoculars that James had attempted to fix but had somehow made so fuzzy as to be unusable. The thing came free with a magazine, so that’s no surprise. Joseph put a positive spin on it though and said he’d put it in his tombola pile. He giggled and asked if I knew that that was, then quickly answered, ‘It’s where I put all the crappy junk I want to get rid of. It’s too junky to give to charity, but too good to throw away, so that’s what I do!’ He’s been the recipient of a few too many rubbish prizes, I think. lol

Nyssa is incapable of saying ‘Rumpelstiltskin’, though her permutations are adorable. She has however picked up on my running commentary on my fellow man (particularly fellow man whilst driving recklessly). She was telling me yesterday that she didn’t want to go out in her ‘home dress’ because it’s quite loudly patterned and people might tease her. I asked her why she thought people might do that, and she sighed and answered, ‘I dunno, some people are just asses?’

Another youtube find–this woman Imogen Heap has a beautiful voice, is a talented songwriter, and…check out her hand/ear coordination!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSIbfzK2spg

In the mail today, I got my provisional driving license! Wow, it took *less* than the time quoted by about half. So of course I’m now going to just assume that my passport that is to be sent back separately has been shredded or somesuch.

So, if you’ve always wondered what a UK provisional license looks like..there it is. Sucks, there’s also this piece of paper that you’re meant to carry around with it. That’s right, paper. I’m also a little peeved about the rubbish black and white photo. I actually managed to get a decent photo at the little shopping centre booth, and as you can see there was little point in even putting makeup on. Ah. Well. I’ve scheduled my theory test, I’m securing a parking place for my imaginary car, I’m getting there. After four years, I might just be driving again soon!

I might have mentioned getting a DS. It’s too fun, seriously. The kids obviously love the thing, and Purr Pals has somehow also rekindled their love of their Tamagotchis. Now, I’m as nervous as any parent of the influence of techie toys, but have to say, few toys inspire so much snugglebug time, as seen here:

That, incidentally, is the ‘home dress’.

Sunday Zen

March 9, 2008

I very happily found a link to Chihuly’s Kew Garden Exhibition photos. I’m still getting over being gutted at not making it down to see it in person. I’ve adored Chihuly glass for ages. I don’t know what it is about it, but his works are among the few sorts that have penetrated my brain enough that they inform the design of my dreams. In particular, the Macchia:

So, Joseph’s blood came back as very low in iron. He’s still being referred to a specialist though, so I’m not sure what the deal is. In the meantime, he’s got massive bottles of iron elixir to get through. It’s charming how providers of pharmaceuticals just never get the ergonomics thing right. I had to find a liquor bottle pouring lid whatsit to put on his iron bottle, else we’d spill as much product filling the measuring spoon as he’d get down his throat.

What else, what else. I’m trying not to lose my head with all the things I’m having to remember to plan. Some things on the list include: getting the cats vaccinations completed, get Mitu a dental cleaning/potential teeth pulling, getting everyone else their teeth appointments, getting my eyes examined, scheduling science week stuff, scheduling our april trip and whatever else we’ll tack onto that trip, getting my driving license, buying a car, sorting details for our trip home, etc. It doesn’t seem like that much once typed out, but it’s too much to carry around in my brain at once, which causes me funky tummy. All I can say is thank jeebus for google calendar.

In crafty news, my brilliantly weird way of knitting continental is just not producing the gauge I need. It sucks because it doesn’t bother my right wrist nearly as much and is, dare I say, faster. Meh.

I had the fun of pretending to tell Nyssa off for something unusual this morning–she woke me up just at the point in my dreaming at which I was about get a fabulous chocolate pie served to me in a restaurant. That was to make up for the fact that a few moments before I had noticed that the aquariums on all the tables had dead fish in them. If you know me, you might be aware of the strange aversion I have to dead fish floating in water. I deserved my pie. Well, in real life it is dessert night, so I have an inkling what I’ll be choosing..hehe.