Gambling update

An update for those of you who may be wondering about the fate of the tomatoes we so recklessly planted in May.

Row upon row of beautiful tomato plants now grow in our gardens. When the sun and bees turn the bright yellow blossoms to plump juicy tomatoes, we will feast upon them in sandwich, in salad, and in salt.

Thank goodness our local nursery was stocked with fresh seedlings when EVERY SINGLE ONE of ours died in the cold and wind of early June.

I will never again ignore the First Full Moon of June rule.

Timepiece, brother?

Breakfast. Henry and I sit at the table. Erin is in the kitchen.

Me: Erin, can you check the time for me?

Erin: Sure. It's ten to seven.

Me: Thanks.

Henry: Ten to seven. Six-fifty.

Me: That's right. Hey, can you tell time by face clocks yet?

Henry: Sadly, no.

I'm pretty sure he can. I think he was just waiting for an opportunity to use that expression. Dufus.

Incidentally, he turns SIX on Saturday. Jeesh.

He may be on drugs

Phone message: "Hi Dad. It's me. Henry. So. How are you doing? So. Whatca working on? So. Are you on the phone? So. Are you having a meeting? So. Iloveyou and... So. Bye. OK. Bye, Dada. Bye. Dada. Hello. Good-bye. Dada. Hi."


Fathers Day stories

My Fathers Day presents included a couple of stories written by world-famous authors Henry and Jane. Here they are, dictated by the kids, transcribed by Erin, copied for you by me.

Toby & The Rockin' Noggins
By: Henry

Toby was a space tow truck driver. One day, Toby was flying in his space tow truck when he saw somebody he knew: The Rockin' Noggins. They were giant-headed robots. He stopped to say "Hi!"

The Rockin' Noggins wanted to go somewhere new. Toby took them to the Space Volcanoes. Toby was just about to take them home when one of the volcanoes erupted. Toby flew off as fast as he could with the Rockin' Noggins attached to his winch. They flew until they got home.

The End

Exciting, eh? Whew! For a second there, I didn't know it they were going to make it!

Princess Jane & Prince Henry & Monster Alice
By Jane

Once upon a time, there was a princess and a prince named Princess Jane and Prince Henry. They saw a giant Alice Monster. She was a monster what looked like she had a pointed poisonous nose, sharp big teeth, with pink eyebrows and orange teeth.

She tries to eat Prince Henry and Princess Jane. Monster Alice runs after them and they run into their castle and they lock the door and they flew into a rocket ship, and they flew and they flew and they flew to Earth.

Monster Alice was on the grass and they played hid-and-seek in their rocket and Prince Henry hid behind Princess Jane and they fell into a river and Jane went up and whipped Henry in the tail. And then they went home.

The End

I like how Monster Alice turns good when there's prospect of a round of hide-and-seek.

Professor Henry

A few weekends back, I took Henry's Beaver group for its first overnight camping trip. We camped near a beach, and the 12 boys in our group spent a lot of time combing the sand for interesting things.

I like to let the boys do their own exploring, find their own things, and talk about them amongst themselves. If they have a question, I'll answer. My theory: a good scout camp should be 1/3 learning stuff, 1/3 doing stuff, 1/3 poking dead things with a stick.

Henry is one of our youngest Beavers, and is normally a bit reserved. Something happened on the beach the first day that turned him into a celebrity.

Boy: Look at this clam shell! It has a hole RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE! How did that happen?

Henry: A snail did it.

Other Boy: How could a SNAIL do that?

Henry calmly explained how a snail eats--how it grabs hold of a clam with its foot, then uses a special appendage (he called it a tongue) with tiny teeth to grind a hole. It then uses gooey juices to kill and digest the animal inside.

Boys: Coooooool.

Henry: Yeah. I guess it's kind of interesting.

Soon, boys were bringing all sorts of things for him to explain. It was wonderful to watch.

Boy: How come you're just a kindergarten, but you know so much stuff?

Henry: I'm a real scientist.

Boys: Wow.

Henry shrugged his shoulders and looked at me for a moment.

Henry: And I'm not in kindergarten. I homeschool.

This became a major topic of conversation for the rest of camp. I overheard a couple of boys decide between themselves that homeschool kids are geniuses.

I could just imagine what Henry would have said.

Henry: Well, we're not all geniuses.

Henry, on the other hand, can't be bothered with certain subjects...

We are packing the car. The trunk is overflowing with picnic and beach stuff. I go to help the kids get into their car seats. Jane and Henry have been talking for a while.

Henry: Why does Jane talk about death all the time?

Me: Janey has learned a lot in the past several months about life and death. Talking helps her sort out some of the tough stuff.

Henry: What's so tough about it? You die; you're gone.

Me: Well, but it's more complicated than that. What about the people left behind? How do they feel? What happens to us when we die? A lot of people are afraid of dying. There's a lot to think about.

He stares out the front window of the car.

Henry: Are we going to the beach, or what?


We visited the farm of some new friends recently and a certain horse made a big impression on little Alice. Joey the horse was very interested in this cute little girl in my arms, and spent a good five minutes sniffing and smelling every squirmy inch of her.

Ever since, everything is Joey. Case in point: the story I am now required to tell every time I changer her diaper.

Me: Once upon a time, there was a little girl named-

Alice: Joey.

Me: And Joey had a very nice dog named -

Alice: Joey.

Me: One day, Joey and Joey decided to go for a walk. While they walked, they met Joey's best friend: a little boy named-

Alice: Joey.

Me: So Joey, Joey, and Joey walked along in the glorious noon-day sun, until they came across a house. They knocked at the door. A woman answered, and said, "My name is-

Alice: Joey.

Me: "What a coincidence," said Joey. "My name is Joey, this is my dog, Joey, and my best friend in the whole world -- Joey." So Joey invited Joey, Joey, and Joey in for a cup of tea. "This is a new kind of tea," said Joey. "It's called-

Alice: Joey.

Me: "Sounds delicious," said Joey, Joey, and Joey, in response to Joey. So Joey, Joey, Joey, and Joey sipped their Joey, and as thing usually go, they began to talk about kangaroos. Specifically, they talked about baby kangaroos. "I can't remember what you call baby kangaroos," said Joey. "Can you, Joey?" asked Joey. "Of course I do," said Joey. They're called-

Alice: (big smile) Alice-boo.

Commence tickling and giggling now.

The real news

The kids are very excited about the new baby. They're having great fun coming up with possible names (including Shoulder Pad, and Butt Kicker).

Jane told our eight year-old neighbour, who ran to his house to scream it to his parents. The mum came outside to hear the news first hand.

Jane, by this point, had moved onto something else. And that something else was getting her younger sister to say silly things.

Neighbour: Jane! I hear you guys have some news!

Jane looks blank.

Jane: What?

Neighbour: Is there something exciting you want to tell me?

Jane thinks for a moment. Then smiles wide.

Jane: Alice said "pickle face"!

How to make kettle corn! (and treat a second-degree burn)

Kettle corn is a salty-sweet crunchy treat whose enjoyment endures well after the burns on your arms and hands cease to sting.

You will need:

-oil (something that doesn't smoke at higher temperatures. I like peanut oil.)
-white sugar
-long-handled wooden spoon
-large pot with a tight-fitting lid
-a large popcorn bowl
-two oven mitts

1. Make sure you have everything on hand and ready to use. Put about 2-3 tablespoons of sugar into a small bowl for easy access.
2. Coat the bottom of the pot with oil. About 2-3 tablespoons. Turn the heat to High.
3. Add 2 or 3 handfuls of un-popped popcorn.
4. Stir with wooden spoon so the corn doesn't burn.
5. When the first kernel pops, dump in the sugar, stir one more time, and cover with the lid.
6. Quickly put on your oven mitts. Pick up the pot and gently shake it about an inch above the burner. The popping happens very quickly. If done right, it should be over in 30 seconds.
7. Once the popping slows to about a pop-per-second, turn off the heat.
8. Remove lid. Dump popcorn into big bowl.
9. Notice an un-popped kernel jump onto your forearm making a sizzling sound on your flesh
10. Swear.
11. Watch in helpless horror as the kernel slips into your oven mitt.
12. Realize that since you're holding an impossibly hot pot there is little you can do to stop the glowing-hot kernel from finding a spot to rest on your pinky finger.
13. Swear louder.
14. Remove mitts and treat burns with ointment. Wrap in band-aids. Note that the finger will most likely blister.
15. Sprinkle kettle corn with salt.
16. Enjoy!

Slugs and meetings

Another phone message from Henry.

"Hi, Dad. I just touched my first four slugs. How is that meeting going? I bet boring. OK. I love you. Bye."

The speed at which he delivered this message meant I had to listen to it five times.