She’s got the look

(rapid fire montage of Gamma coming down stairs in ratty and/or dirty pants)

Me: Go upstairs and put on some nicer pants.

Gamma: (dramatically) These are the nicest ones I have!

(repeat for at least fifteen different scenes, various times of day and seasons)

(scene opens in sawdusty garage, half painted bench resting on paper)

Me: (in clothes obviously meant for sloppy work, touching up hard to reach spots)

Gamma: (just off screen) Oops. I got paint on my pants.

(Carrot looks over, camera turns)

Gamma: (standing in pristine white shirt, brand new unblemished jeans now bearing a dark maroon lean spot on the thigh)

Me: (irrationally calm) Gamma? I’ve never seen those pants before. Are they new?

Gamma: (brightly) Amazing what you can find in the bottom of a very deep and dark drawer.

(Carrot begins to tremble, screen fades to black)

Boogey Down

(scene opens in mini-van)

Alpha: What day is it?

Me: September 21st.

Alpha: Happy Wind, Earth, Fire day.

Me: Wut? I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Alpha: The song! Here, I’ll play it. (picks up phone, connects it to van’s stereo)

(Carrot does a quick glance at the screen and sees Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September”)

Me: OH! I remember this song. Yeah, okay. I get it now.

Alpha: (surprised) You know this song?

Me: Yeah. It was popular recently. It was on the Troll’s soundtrack.

Alpha: But that was like nine years ago.

Me: Honey, hate to break it to you, but its way older than that. I remember being a little kid in the car with my dad and singing it. Use the technology and see what year it came out.

(Alpha fiddles with his phone)

Alpha: Woah. It came out in….1978?

Me: Yes. For reference, your Uncle J was born that year. I’m six years older than this song.

Alpha: Wow. That’s really old music.

Me: (says nothing)

Technology makes life easier!

(scene opens in tossed dining room)

Me: Okay, Alpha! Ready to go get your driver’s license?

Alpha: (glumly) No.

Me: Excellent. (checks webpage) Says we need to bring one piece of documentation from sections A, B, C, and D. Got your birth certificate and social security card?

Alpha: (holds them up) Check.

Me: Proof of address?

Alpha: (holds up college letter, state ID, and driver’s permit) Check.

Me: Proof of Insurance?

Alpha: (holds up insurance paper) Check.

Me: We ride!

(cut scene to parking lot of sad struggling strip mall)

Door Guard: Does he have all his paperwork? Are you 18?

Alpha: (hands over folder) Yes.

Door Guard: (rifles paperwork) You have to stay out here, mom. Appointments only and he’s adult.

Me: Cool. (sides on a concrete riser)

(time passes, Alpha returns)

Alpha: They say I need a high school transcript to prove I took Driver’s Ed. I’m not in the system.

Me: (dumbfounded) Not in the system? (goes to Door Guard) He needs a high school transcript?

Door Guard: Yeah, bring a high school transcript and they send it to Springfield and once he’s in the system he can take the driver’s test.

Me: (hotly) That wasn’t on the list of required documentation.

Door Guard: (shrugs) It’s a state law.

Me: (with poison) And where does it say that on the web site for required documentation?

Door Guard: (shrugs again) You can come back later today.

Me: (calling up the fire within) Then what was the point of making an appointment?

(Door Guard shrugs a third time, doesn’t answer, turns away. Carrot pulls out her phone and begins frantically researching and typing while Alpha hovers nervously by)

Me: Oh! They can email me a transcript! Maybe the day is saved. (types some more and pauses)

Alpha: What?

Me: They can email me a transcript. For three dollars and it’ll arrive in five business days.

(Carrot closes eyes and breaths deeply)

Alpha: (nervously) I’m really sorry mom.

Me: (kindly) It’s not your fault, Alpha. We followed all the instructions given to us. They just didn’t give us all the instructions.

Carrot’s Inner Voice:

What Carrot does during the school day.

So once upon a time, I use to play with making mead. And when I say “play with” I really do mean it. I have this delightful inclination to go full on Lab Kid* when doing anything halfway arty. I can’t say halfway sciencey because we all know the difference between fvcking around and science is writing it down.

I was not writing it down in those days.

In that Fvck Around Phase I made some hella good mead. A few stands outs were a my plain sweet, a morat (mulberry mead), and a peach mead. My brewing process went as follow –

1.4 cup orange juice to start off a packet of Montrachet yeast

2.5 gallons of tap water (Lake Michigan for you aqua connoisseurs)

2.5 gallons of blackberry honey from the Great North Wests somewhere. I think from Glory Bee.

I’ll give a few of you a moment to wipe the coffee you just spit all over your screen. Yes. 2.5 gallons. We good? Okay – so I like mead sweet. Those of you with even the smallest bit of fermenting knowledge will not be surprised to hear it took me nearly two years for it to be drinkable. And I bet it could have gone longer, but as soon as I brought some bottles out to test drink, it went fast. Any notes I took – if I was even halfway that organized – had me do some math. I only remember this math on the alcohol content because I did it several times over, 100% certain I had totally fubar’ed my math and it just wasn’t humanly possible.

It was clocking in at 20%.

Okay, you really need to stop drinking when you’re reading my hilarious interludes. Get a fresh cup and come back.

This ridiculously high alcohol content is hilarious because I am a lightweight beyond compare. I bring shame upon my known-for-heavy-drinking ancestors with my two drink drunk. Alas.

My morat ran as follows –

Same juice set up, 3 gallon bucket, who knows how much honey, topped off with water.

No notes. Because I was full on mad scientist, which wasn’t really all that sciencey because no documentation. Who knows what my alcohol content was. But that got drunk as fast as the blackberry sweet.

The peach?

Same juice set up

12 pounds of mashed peaches with skins ripped off (you can’t really peel peaches when they’re really ripe, just mutilate them)

Oh hey, look, I have some left over honey in this three gallon bucket. I have no idea how much honey is in there, lets just dump it all in and add some water and call it a day.

See? Very precise. Such Math. Much Science.

Even with my lightweightness, that had a kick. I had racked them into 16 oz Grolsch bottles I had saved for this project. Half way through one of them I had to lay on the floor and recover. Five years later it was still amazing. I only know this for it having shown up in a Mystery Brew Box (for having no label) where adventurous re-enactors would drink for a dollar donation. It was the hit of the evening.

And now we are here. I have a little black book now and am more sciencey than arty.

Raw honey and here we go! I know some of you are thinking – why is the water and honey separated? Are they supposed to be mixed?

Yeah. I guess so? I did this with my blackberry sweet. I’d have to roll the carboy every couple of weeks to agitate the top layer of honey as the yeast slowly ate its way down. I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason the yeast was able to accomplish this task, it gave it time to build up tolerance. Also I’m sure there’s some sort of very niche-trick of slow fermentation that impacts the final product something something wine snob goes here.

Weirdly, the water/honey was more homogenous until I poured in the o.j. with the nicely foaming yeast. Cleared it like oil and water. Fascinating. So now my yeasties beasties are going to slowly nibble from the top down.

I guess we’ll see what we get? In two years? It’s only three gallons, so maybe we’ll see in one year.

Wish me luck.

He’s getting better.

(scene opens in dining room not Carrot’s. Family party in progress, mostly adults around the table)

Beta: (takes empty chair, downs the last of a bottle of root beer)

Cousin K: You drank it all?

Beta: Yeah.

Carrot: I thought you liked root beer.

Beta: I do. Just that it was super flat. I went to take off the cap and it just fell off like someone had opened it.

(silence falls)

Aunt T: It’s a good idea not to drink bottles that have already been opened.

Husband: That’s someone cracking it open at the store, taking a drink and putting it back.

Me: Or putting something inside of it.

Beta: (shrugs)

(scene ends)

(new scene in grocery store refrigerated aisle)

Me: (looking at prices of small juice bottles) It says three for five – did you want to try the cranberry flavor? Get an OJ, apple, and then cranberry?

Beta: Sure.

(Carrot reaches up to get the cranberry juice)

Beta: Wait! Look at the lid.

(camera close up on broken seal)

Beta: We probably shouldn’t drink that. See? I can learn! (laughs stupidly)

Me: Your father would be so proud of you. You just might live to see adulthood.

Marital Expectations

(scene opens in dining room, Carrot wincing as she ices the sole of her foot. Husband enters from kitchen.)

Husband: (expansively) You picked the best weekend to go camping with the Girl Scouts tomorrow!

Me: (wearily) Oh yeah? Heat index out of control?

Husband: No! Its because I have to be up all night!

Me: (suspicious) Why?

Husband: Sandman drops today and I have to binge watch!

Me: (outraged) Not without me!

Husband: I’ll watch it again a dozen times over!

(camera swaps between Carrot’s Murder Face and Husband’s look of Chaotic Glee a half dozen times)

Me: (sighs, checks watch) All the kids are in bed by 8. We’re pulling an all nighter.

Husband: On the big T.V.?

Me: Of course.

Inter-office Memo

(scene opens at the top of the stairs, furniture pushed onto the landing)

Me: What is this?

Gamma: (briskly exiting her room) I’m just doing a bit of cleaning.

Me: (somewhere between shock and confusion)

Gamma: (hands over a clipboard) I’ve come to some decisions about what I want my room to look like.

(camera cuts to clipboard)

Me: Uh, okay.

Gamma: You probably should talk it over with dad.

Me: Sure. I’ll do that. (slowly backs away, exits scene)

It’s an adventure!

(scene opens in dinning room, Beta shuffles in)

Me: (looks up from laptop) Good morning! Glad to be back home?

Beta: (groggy) Yes.

Me: Tell me what else you did at Sea Base? I want all the stories.

Beta: Well, we were on that primitive island and you get a chuck box. There’s the ‘Chuck Box Challenge’.

Me: Oh dear. I know where this is going.

Beta: (warming to tale) So, the challenge is that you have to eat everything you packed in. We didn’t have much time left so I look in the box and pull out the maple syrup and chug it.

Me: (starts laughing) Ohmigod. Go tell your father.

Beta: Why?

Me: I think he might be proud of you.

(time passes, cut scene to later, Husband walks into dinning room)

Me: Did Beta tell you about the food challenge?

Husband: Yes. I told him he should have put the maple syrup on something. Like an apple.

Me: Oh yeah? What’d he say?

Husband: Said that’s what Alpha did.

Me: (proud) I love our knuckleheads.

Carrot’s Book Review: WTF Undead Edition

Editor’s note: Am not being paid to review and linky goes to not the Amazonian empire.

So, class. You might remember my love of necromancers, and so I finally got around to Harrow the Ninth, sequel to Gideon the Ninth.

Listening, more like. My brain has been scatter shot of late and I can’t keep my eyes on the printed word for very long, skimming like I was trying to cram before a college final. Audio books are rarely an option for me as I cannot stand most voices. I have finally found myself another audio reader that I can stand (still can count them all on one hand) and settled in for some embroidery and listening. Thank you Moira Quirk.

We shall begin. Ahem.

Whiskey.

Tango.

Foxtrot.

I had so much no-damn-clue what was going on, I checked out the first audio book for a re-listen to help me get fresher base for whatever insane bit of storytelling architecture I was subjecting myself. By the way, Sassomancers get +3 to everything when voiced in snotty English accents. The kids kept interrupting me wanting to know what I was laughing at.

While I had a better understanding of Gideon’s tale of WTF, I still had no idea what was going on with Harrow’s WTF. It didn’t mean the story wasn’t interesting, it just had less Sassomancy than the first book. I’m not even sure how to describe what was going on without giving exceptional spoilers. We do get introduced to the Undying Emperor. Some space travel. Some space bees.

I’m not kidding. Space bees. You know you want to read it now just for that.

Again, there’s some hard science to the necromancy but still no damn explanation on how the Emperor Undying became undying and no damn explanation on why they’re at war or who they’re at war with! There were times I had to stop to consider that maybe this story was being told by the baddies perpetuating a terrible and unjust conflict. It didn’t make any more sense of the tale I was being told.

Harrow’s strange little trip does get some resolution by the end. Most of her crazy little drama is made clear, but in the process of unveiling that madness, it just gives you another crate of WTF and isn’t even shy about the cliff hanger it gives you.

Bastards.

So, just the fact I listened to it on loop to make sure the WTF portion of this novel wasn’t 100% a user error (constant familial interruptions likely contributed) should be factored into the entertainment the book provided based on my Stargate Theory*. The characters were interesting, the mystery compelling, I’m dying to find out the rest of the world and the universe and am still holding out that I will have that itch scratched sooner rather than later. I suppose I need to find out if Ms. Quirk read the rest of them and hope that giving them a listen will make All Thing Clear(tm).

Still no clever undead ratings, so I’ll give it another four outta five stars just for the brain game it played with me.

Carrot’s Stargate Theory: Back when Stargate hit the theater, a knot of us nerds went to see it and debated the merits – or lack thereof – for well into the evening. Someone pointed out that we talked about the movie longer than the movie’s actual run time. It was postulated that any movie that could make you discuss it for that long was de facto a good movie.

Ergo, the fact that a completely incomprehensible book was interesting enough in its confusion to get you to hit repeat for a second ride meant that it was good.

The mighty hunter returns.

(scene opens in bright summer parlor, Jethro Tull loud on the speakers)

Me: (at embroidery frame singing heartily) Ring out those solstice bells! Ring out….

Alpha: (off screen and with terror) MOM!

(Carrot leaps up and heads to basement, cut scene to top of the stairs)

(Alpha looks up helplessly, Epsilon noses something suspicious on the floor, manages a doggy smug)

Me: (exasperated) Alpha, its just poop. If you guys walked him more this wouldn’t…

Alpha: (tremulously) Mom. It’s not poop.

(Carrot descends stairs for better look)

Carrot’s Inner Voice: Please, oh god, don’t be a rat.

Carrot: Looks a little big to be a mouse, and there’s no tail. (gets closer, sighs gently) Oh honey, its a baby rabbit. A very baby rabbit.

Epsilon: (wags tail and pants smugly)

Alpha: (tearfully) Is it dead?

(Carrot picks up small animal, wet and slick and black. It kicks slightly)

Alpha: (jumps) It’s not dead!

Carrot: Well, this makes things a little more complicated.

Editor’s Note: Said baby appears to have been claimed. Given the cruelty of Mother Nature, we are continuing to believe that said baby was claimed by the mama.

Peace Through Superior Firepower

(scene opens in bright sunny kitchen)

Me: (standing wearily before kitchen, coffee re-heating)

Delta: (strides in from outside, flips open hatch on oversized squirt gun) Mom? Can I put some ice in this bad boy?

Me: (starts to laugh, goes to icemaker, fills cupped hands with a pile of ice, pours it into open squirt gun)

Delta: (with confidence) Thanks mom! I’m gonna win this war. (locks, loads, leaves)

(off screen Gamma shrieks loud and often)

Me: (puts on headphones, turns up volume, goes back to laptop slurping hot coffee)

Summer begins!

(scene opens at school pick up line, smalls climbing into mini-van)

Me: (brightly) Hey guys! Last day of school! Are you ready for summer?

Gamma: (too through) I guess. My teacher gave me a bag of candy.

Me: I can tell by the chocolate on your face. What about you, Delta?

Delta: (perky) My teacher gave us all sunglasses!

Me: (pulls away from curb) Perfect for summer!

Delta: Mom, how many more days until second grade?

Me: (frowns) Uh…thirty days in June, thirty one in July, subtract one for today. Add ten for August and you have seventy days of Summer.

Delta: (incredulous) Seventy days!?

Me: Yup.

Delta: I can’t wait seventy days to ride the bus. Can’t I go back earlier?

Me: (sighs) Tragically, no.

Delta: (disgruntled) This is so unfair.