Thursday, March 16, 2006

From London

London Bridge, Shakespeare's Globe, Tower of London

Today it was hyde park, st paul's cathedral. Miranda walked all 530 steps to the top.

Mary poppins on teh West end was WONDERFUL. Had tears in my eyes for most of the show. I'm just a sap.

gotta go out of time.

(Later Friday)

Okay, I have a bit more time, but not much. I have kids, after all. ..but last night I had an internet limit. 9 pence a minute. I put in 50p and got my money's worth.

So this morning, Friday, we walked Hyde Park, saw Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben (the clock, not the bear) and the changing of the guard. And since it's St. Patty's Day, we saw something special, apparently, but I didn't really understand what it was. Apparently the Princess Royal (50p to whomever can tell me who THAT is) was officiating. Lots of Pomp and Circumcision.

While in London, we had 50 degree and sunny the first day (at the Tower and the Globe), rainy the second day, snowy this morning, and sunny this afternoon as we took the train back to Catworth where, tonight, Jay and I will share a pint or two of their local syrup (it's not maple, as far as I can tell) in celebrations of Patrick the Sainted.

We'll run early in the morning, along the British public foot paths, and take the kids out chasing sheep while the elderwomen among us visit Ely Cathedral. It's not Kiwishawi lodge, but a 1,000 year old cathedral after which the cathedral in "Pillars of the Earth" was ;modeled. So they'll enjoy that sans kids, and Jay and I will enjoy the mud with the kids.

Right now they're all praciting seeing the sheep, but crawling around on all 4's bleating.

Just glad they're not bleeding. AT least not yet. They are kids, after all. Anything could happen.

So, we'll be home late Sunday.


The Placid One.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Days Two & Three

Okay, yesterday we visited Mr. William Shakespeare's home in Stratford-upon-Avon. Cool little village. (Chilly even...)

Then off to Warwick Castle, which would be a great place to play international hide-n-seek.

Di will likely send photos later.

Today we took a day trip to Oxford and visited the Eagle and Child (The bird and baby) where CS Lewis and Tolkein quaffed their ales and discussed such things as theology, mythology, and the such.

We first stopped at CS Lewis' home "The Kilns" about 4 miles from Oxford U. The girls were encouraged to climb into the wardrobe! We were toured by a girl from California who was a student, and who lived there. Apparently there's a lottery for students to live there...three requirements: Be a student. Be a Christian. Be interested in CS Lewis. So that was kind of nice.

Visited Christ Church and walked a bit along the river. Took tea in the afternoon, and are now back home, warming up, in the chateau de Coles.

Rock n Roll, y'all.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

First from Cambridgeshire

A little town called Catworth, actually. Arrived after 3,487 of traveling. Jay picked us up at Heathrow around 9:00 local. Kids were great. Nary a whine from either of them.

Spent the day in Cambridge, punting on the Cam, becoming part of a bunch of people's home videos (Tommy Lee and Pam, look out!), viewing the Bridge of Sighs and the Mathematical Bridge, touring Kings College Chapel, having fish n chips and an ale in the pub where Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd got their start. Nice place, even for kids, overlooking the river.

NUTUBA, would you share this address with sib and case they're interested.

The girls are in bed and we're planning tomorrow's trip to Stratford and Warwick Castle.


Friday, March 10, 2006

Vinyl Confessions

Well...20 years ago we would have called it vinyl.

Now we call it CD's...

or ipods.

One of the cool things about our mini-van is that there are a million hiding places. Little cubbies to put drinks and books and pencils and compact discs.

NUTuba gave me a couple of such discs for Christmas this year.

And while packing the car, I found a nifty little place where they wouldn't get stepped on or spilled upon.

Until last night, they were still there!

The Big Horned Boy asked me about the music, sending me into a two-day scramble to find the discs and give them a listen.

So last night I tore through everything, finally remembering that the last time I SAW them, I was packing the car.

Found 'em, took them to the gym, and did the step machine for 30 minutes while listening to Audio Adrenaline. That stuff ROCKS! Good workout music. I didn't get to Third Day, so I'll save if for another workout.

Thanks, Bro. Blitz is good, and blintzes ARE good.

It Comes in Pints?

Yes it does...but only after boiling off about 5 gallons of maple sap (which really isn't very sappy at all.)

Man, woman and child, that stuff's good.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Short Stack, Please

Not because I couldn't EAT a tall stack, at almost any given moment, but because I just don't have enough maple syrup.

My brother, good man that he is, promised me his maple syrup recipe. And I, being the impatient fellow, couldn't wait. So I made my own...without a recipe. Goes something like this:

Tap a sugar maple. Boil it off. Pour over flapjacks.

We're late in the season to sugar trees. It has to be done while the nights still freeze or the trees start to bud, and the sap becomes bitter. We're probably a couple weeks away from losing our good solid freezes at night.

Spring is great, but it's the cold weather that gives us maple sugar and heavy beaver pelts (nope...haven't skinned any yet.)

So today at lunch, I tapped a sugar maple (three taps, actually, on two trees, and, truth be known, I didn't do the tapping). The trees seemed eager to give, drop every second or so. By the time I came home this afternoon, we had perhaps 3 gallons of the stuff in galvanized buckets hanging from trees. Diane called me Pa Ingalls, and I grinned at the thought.

One of the buckets had a leak, so I dumped about a half gallon into a pitcher and found another container. While I made dinner, I set the half gallon of maple water to boiling.

And by the time Ella was in bed, the half gallon had been reduced to, oh, 2 ounces.

Just enough to *almost* fill one of those little taste-of-Vermont sample bottles. I'd probably have filled the thing had I not continuously sampled the process.

It's thick and golden and sweet as you'd think it would be.

So grill me up some buckwheat cakes and pass the butter.

Time to eat!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Snow, Toys, Rock n Roll

So we got what could be, but could also very easily NOT be, the last snowfall of the season. Who'm I kiddin'...upstate NY in early March. Winter's just starting.

Anyway, Miranda got out on her x-country skis. Diane woke up a heard of deer when she was out this morning. And Ella crunched gleefully around the yard with her snow shoes. I was working, but hope to get out there this afternoon.

Great light, fluffy snow...about 5" of the stuff. Probably take a few final rounds down the hill behind our house before giving it up in a moment of hope for Spring.

We could be skiing at Easter, who knows?

And if that's the case, our barn if full of firewood (finally) for the long winter. Students cut some downed trees this week and filled everyone's garages and barns with wood. I'm optimistic I won't burn it all in the next month. Or next year, for that matter. It'll be well seasoned. Some ash, some oak, some cherry and a bunch of maple.

Good wood for those summer camp fires with the girls.

Over the past few days, I recorded a kids-oriented version of "Toys in the Attic." Same crunchy guitars...and I'd say the lyrics are nicer, but I don't have a clue what the original lyrics are. It's a parent's angst over a child's toys strewn about the house. It'll be part of the next Barry Pickin' album, due out in the next dozen years or so.

And as a finale to our school's Intersession, the last week before Spring Break, a dozen kids created three rock bands and performed for the school. I wish I had that kind of talent. These kids were GOOD! One of the bands was louder than Placid Quake, which just means that their amps went all the way to eleven...or twelve.

Stay safe, full of joy and wonder.