Monthly Archives: July 2012

Occupy Bowser!

It’s so beautiful here we are moved to dance….

Whew…a weekend of friends, food, bocce, kayaking, the routine capture and release of tiny crabs, and the joy of camping in the yard. The kids have now decided that they are going to live in the tent and their behaviour is reminiscent of squatters during the Occupy movement, except without the politics and for the fact that we make them shower regularly.

For brunch today we made a frittata, scrambled eggs (because some of the kids won’t eat frittata), toast (Cobs’ Chia Bread), fresh blueberries, and homemade cinnamon buns. I’d made an all-purpose dough, divided it into two, used half for dinner rolls two nights ago, and stashed the rest in the fridge until this morning, when we rolled it out into a large rectangle, brushed it with melted butter and sprinkled it with a mixture of cinnamon and brown sugar, rolled it up, cut it into 12 portions and inserted each into a greased muffin cup. I’d prepped the muffin cups with a mixture of butter, brown sugar and honey briefly warmed on the stovetop and put a spoonful into each cup. These baked at 400F within 15 minutes and I remembered to remove them from the muffin cups before they got too attached, as they do when they’re allowed to sit in there until cool.

All-Purpose Tender Refrigerator Dough

  • 1/4 c. warm water
  • 1 t. sugar
  • 1 pkg quick yeast
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 4 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

In a small bowl put the warm water, 1 t. sugar (stir) and sprinkle in 1 pkg yeast and let sit while you assemble the other ingredients.

In a larger bowl or glass measuring cup put the butter, milk and 1/3 c. sugar and microwave for about 40 seconds to 1 minute or until warm but not hot and the butter is melted. Beat the egg into with the warm milk mixture. Add the yeast mixture to this.

Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add 2 cups of flour. Mix well and then add more flour until the dough is shaggy and kind of holding together. Turn out onto a floured countertop and knead for about 10 minutes. Only add as much flour as you need to keep it from sticking to the countertop and your hands.

Divide dough into two equal portions. Oil each portion lightly. Either put each into a large Ziploc bag and seal but not completely, and put into the fridge. Or if you are using one portion immediately oil it and put it into a large bowl, cover with waxed paper or plastic wrap and a clean tea towel and let proof 1-2 hours, then use as you like. I made dinner rolls: I proofed the dough, then punched it down and divided it into 12 equal portions, made balls of them and put them about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  I proofed these again for another hour until they were clearly larger and puffier. I brushed them with some beaten egg mixed with water. These baked within 17 minutes at 400F, golden brown and super-soft inside. Mmmmm.

The only thing wrong was that I could only make 12 cinnamon buns with half the dough (it made 12 dinner rolls and 12 cinnamon buns) and we clearly needed at least double that amount because they were so yummy. This recipe is for vacation time because when I’m at home I use a bread maker to do the hard work of making the dough. However, I have found that I rather like the kneading process, it’s very soothing and we’re on vacation so we have time for things like kneading bread dough.

I made hamburger buns last week, they were amazing, and these buns are even better….it actually kind of sucks when I’m trying to reduce carbs. Not eliminate, but reduce. But it seems wrong to do anything but go nom nom nom when you get these buns hot out of the oven.

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Filed under daily deedle-deedle, Recipes

Fashion check: Canadian Olympic Athletes strut totally boring outfits at the Opening Ceremonies

Sad. Like a bunch of middle-aged golfers or the sort of tourists that locals mock. You know the kind, dressed for comfort and possibly inclement weather, but certainly not with an eye to fashion or looking even remotely stylish. The khakis! The nylon windbreakers! It’s causing me actual pain. What’s wrong with a nice sharp blazer? Some kind of skinny jean for the girls? They don’t have to be dressed athletically every minute, do they? Just my opinion.

Khakis and windbreakers. Typical Canadians heading out to the gardening centre.

For a more informed take (like about the actual sports part of the Olympics) and for the site where I got this photo, click here.

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Life&Style Magazine: “Queen Humiliates Kate” – say what?

There’s a Life&Style magazine around here (July 16, 2012) with the weirdest cover – apparently the Queen “humiliated” Kate by making her curtsey to William’s cousins, Fergie’s daughters. Do Americans not understand the concept of royal hierarchy? They are born royalty; she married in (plus she’s a commoner, hello? not that there’s anything wrong with that!). There is an order of precedence and the Queen didn’t invent it. I don’t think the Queen would stoop to thwart anyone, no matter how uppity she might privately think they’re getting, and it seems to me (not that I pay a lot of attention) that Kate is minding herself just fine. It’s not like she’s all, “I have to curtsey to these bitches?”  No, Kate gets it. Hence no need to be put in her place, and the Queen doesn’t do that anyway. Not her style, darling. Plus I definitely get the feeling that the Palace Minions are in charge of that kind of thing and that the Queen doesn’t even notice who curtseys to whom as long as everyone curtseys to her. (I actually think Kate’s got a lot of leeway as the Queen is so scarred by the hijinks of Diana and Fergie that Kate could armpit-fart the national anthem in her underwear – sorry, knickers – and the Queen would be all, Whatever. Fergie set that bar LOW, god love her.)

Have we not figured out by now that the Queen is, above all, proper? She is all about duty and doing the right thing. Her entire raison d’etre rests upon convention and tradition and she’s holding up her end amazingly well. We don’t think she enjoys visiting endless hospitals and openings of new parks and whatnot, do we? That’s her job. And she didn’t get to choose it, either. Have you noticed she doesn’t even smile that much anymore? She’s tired! But she soldiers on. She may be one of the last monarchs who is truly fulfilling her role. She’s not going all eat-pray-love because she “doesn’t know how to be a royal”. Because she understands it’s not all about her. She understands that all that incredible privilege and status comes with a price. And she is paying that price, every day, in the most gracious way possible. May she live for ever.

I’m not even going to talk about Diana because she is at this point, essentially a saint. So you cannot be critical of the People’s Princess.

Ah, I’m going to anyway. I loved Diana too, but mostly because she did all that goofy stuff when she was younger. She was a member of the aristocracy but I think that the level of privilege she enjoyed growing up gave her a bit of a bulletproof attitude towards life. I used to live in England and let me tell you, nobody curses like the upper class. They are bulletproof and can get away with anything because of the poshness. It’s the working class that are all worried about manners and being genteel. So they’re all rigid and tense about it and chew you out if you forget to shake hands at the end of a round of golf. The upper classes are different – their manners are real, ingrained yet totally unobtrusive and are geared towards making everyone feel comfortable, as opposed to taking mean joy in pointing out other people’s errors. And they use the f-word a lot. A LOT. So Diana grew up totally entitled, everything she did was awesome – but when she fell under scrutiny and was also held to a higher standard (set by her mother-in-law) she had a wee bit of trouble. It’s ok to be all careless and upper-class and entitled if the world isn’t watching and judging, but marry into the royal family? Big leagues. I think Kate will do better as she isn’t posh except in the moneyed sense and if she ran with the posh crowd you can be sure they kept her down. Remember all that nonsense about her mother telling the Queen, “Nice to meet you.” Oh, Jesus wept! “Nice to meet you!” The horror. Quelle faux pas, n’est pas? I mean, seriously? I had that from English people too, when I lived in Malaysia so I feel for Mrs. Middleton. To this day, I say “How do you do?” because I don’t know if it’s nice to meet you yet, do I? Needless to say, it’s not the posh people who drummed this into me but the striving crowd terrified to set a foot wrong. They corrected me endlessly even though I explained to them that I was Canadian and therefore exempt from all their stupid rules and if I wanted to be all English I would signal it to them with a genteelly crooked little finger when I had my tea.

The tragedy of Diana is that by the time she finally understood the demands of public life, and the role she could potentially play on the world stage, her life was cut short, and that she truly didn’t grow as a person until she left the royal family and found her vocation as a campaigner for human rights and against land mines. She found a way to turn her celebrity to good use and her warm-heartedness and ability to empathize with the unfortunate endeared her to the world, including me. I don’t care what she was doing with Dodi; she was a private citizen (sort of) at that point and entitled to date whatever dipshit took her fancy. I know the English are totally racist about this; the outrage when Al-Fayed puts up Diana and Dodi’s pictures together in the windows of Harrods during the month of the anniversary of their deaths, linking them eternally (or as long as he’s in charge of the window-dressing, anyway) is rather funny. Although it’s not pure racism; there’s a lot of snobbery there too. If he’d been a Middle Eastern prince or similar sultan-type person  it would have been better but he was just the playboy son of (gasp) a merchant! “Just a jumped-up souk dealer!” (actual quote) Ouch. It’s so ironic in a country where people are jumping like a madman all the time to get ahead so they can pretend to be posh. Why do they want to be posh, anyway? So they can say the f-word, that’s why!

Whoa, tangent. Let’s get back to princesses and royalty.

Sometimes I think Americans don’t understand the whole deal with royalty. It just doesn’t go with the whole America-Freedom thing. Take their interpretations vis-a-vis the Disney princesses. The latest one is Merida in Brave (love that movie! love Pixar!). She’s a princess, and it’s her duty to marry well in order to avoid war. The whole movie is about her fight for the freedom to choose a life for herself – an American ideal – and the arguments used to try to make her fall into line are not compelling. I can’t remember what they were, but the one that matters, the trump card, is the concept of duty, and it’s never implemented! If I were her mom, I’d be pointing out that, as a princess, she’s free to run around, she has her own horse, she gets so much free time to practice archery that she’s a crack shot, and does she think that this is just her right because she’s awesome and has killer hair? I would point out to her that she could be working in the fields, or milking cows, just to survive like everyone else, but she’s not doing that. Instead, she gets all this privilege, but in return for this she’s expected to marry well. That’s it! Of course the prospective bridegrooms would make anyone jump on a horse and head for the hills, but that’s beside the point. How many princesses in history have made happy love matches? Not too many.  Think of all the gruesome examples of “royalty” that as a princess, you could be joined to for eternity. Off the top of my head, Charles II of Spain (extensively disabled in just about every way, the gnarly Hapsburg jaw being the least of it), for an example. At least he was impotent! Why do we think Elizabeth I refused to marry? Because she had a pretty good idea of all the horror shows out there with crowns on! No, thank you! The point is, your subjects are toiling away providing you with riches and they don’t ask much, just some stability so they can keep on toiling in peace, and if your end of the bargain is to marry some chinless wonder, then you shut up and do it (except for Liz I who is in a category of her own). That’s the catch! I realize that this stipulation is no longer applicable – obviously – but there are other duties associated with being royalty and the point is you have to suck it up. Plus, if your life is too ridiculously sweet, and depends on the sweat of others, and if you’re clearly indifferent to the suffering of those others whom you’re meant to look after, then the people storm the Bastille. Nobody’s storming the Bastille whilst Elizabeth II is on the throne.

Can I talk more about Disney princesses? Take Ariel. She’s a real star. My kids love her but she endangers her entire community with her selfishness! She has to marry some guy she’s only just clapped eyes on (and is it just me or is Eric a bit of a doofus? Classic royal.) and she’s willing to become a completely different species in order to do it. This is not like she’s Jewish but she has to convert to Catholicism because Eric’s mom has threatened to kill herself if her son doesn’t get married in the Catholic Church. (Imagine going the other way: swapping legs for a tail. At least with legs you can still swim in water; with a tail you can only drag your dumb didn’t-read-the-fine-print ass around on land. So I guess it wasn’t totally stupid.) Anyway! It’s a major change and the price is her voice, so she can’t even explain herself. I notice that there’s no Mom there and there rarely is in a Disney princess story, Brave excepted. Because Mom would be like, “Explain yourself young lady! Don’t wave your hands at me! TALK TO ME!” That’s because the dads don’t really pay attention so the girls get up to shenanigans and nearly cause apocalypse and Dad notices right at the end just when everything is about to go to shit with a giant fat creepy lady octopus making gumbo with the ocean. So let’s review: King Triton first mismanages his daughter by being oblivious and then making a big display with explosions and everything (bit of overkill) instead of being fully present in his daughter’s life. So then, because she’s never been yelled at before and can’t believe Daddy raised his voice to her (such a Millennial!) she runs away and finds a sympathetic if creepy older woman who inveigles Gullible Girl into taking this ridiculously irrevocable step. Ariel just met her! She doesn’t check out references or anything. So lazy, again, Millennial. If her mom was around, this wouldn’t have happened! It’s weird that she’s got all these older sisters (Gen Xers!) and they have no clue either? What? She’s not close enough to even one of them to ask for a little advice? An older sister might have had something to say. “You’re going to get rid of your tail and get legs? It’s not like a tattoo, you know! If things don’t work out, then what? Will you wear a scuba tank the rest of your life?” Needless to say, at the end of all the mayhem she caused and other people had to fix, Ariel is rewarded for being such a selfish wagamama and Daddy gets her a new sparkly dress to boot. This is why I’m really strict with my daughters.

The rest of them…Belle’s fairly on the ball, but she’s not a princess until she marries the Beast at the end so she doesn’t count. Good example of a commoner marrying into a royal family, though! No family to speak of, however, it’s just him. Which I bet anyone who’s married into a royal family has wished for at some point or another. Just kidding! Pocahontas is a good princess – she’s concerned about her people and she helps with the work too, picking corn and squash and not just going kayaking and cliff-jumping and then doing some shrooms and talking to the trees. Mulan too, sacrifices herself for her father although it’s important to note that she’s sort of feeling like there’s nothing else for her, like when your life goes to shit so you join the military, it’s just convenient that it dovetails with the duty/sacrifice thing. Best of both worlds! The older Disney princesses, though. Who got hit with the squeaky stick? Snow White! Plus she’s sooooo dumb. Shallow end of the gene pool, I’d say. Oh those inbred royals. Sleeping Beauty – she grows up in a tiny cabin with three fairies (not the interior-designing kind) and never figures it out? Hello! Cinderella – ever heard of a lawyer? There are no family friends who are like, This is odd. Did you see the way she was dressed? And why was she doing all the fetching? She’s not a princess until she marries, like Belle, but unlike Belle, she’s none too bright. Cinderella falls in love with the first guy she dances with  – it could have been anyone! If it’s not a mouse, she’ll marry it if it will get her out from under Mean Stepmother’s thumb. And you know she will be all forgiving of her dysfunctional stepfamily when she marries the Prince. She is such a sap! I prefer the original fairy tale where the mean stepsisters cut off parts of their feet in order to fit into the slipper and to no avail as they’re ratted out by magic birds. Who then peck their eyes out. Yeah!

The best thing about this Life&Style cover is this: the big picture is of Kate looking awesome as usual, and there’s a little picture of Beatrice and Eugenie wearing somewhat matching outfits in two shades of purple, with funny hats, looking….remarkably like the mean stepsisters in Cinderella! Coincidence?

Check out the Mean Stepsisters in the bubble!

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Monty Robinson won’t serve any jail time! (cue gasp)

I’m going to deviate from eating-well-on-vacation posts because I’m just so annoyed by our latest bit of British Columbia-style justice, a.k.a. competition to see which judge can raise the cynicism level of our already-jaded province the highest by letting some total criminal (a.k.a., ex-police officer) off the hook.

If you live in BC, you’re probably sick of hearing about Monty Robinson already – not because he’s in the media a lot but because it reminds you of all that is apparently corrupt about the RCMP – a law enforcement organization that is supposed to uphold the law and protect us. Instead our tax dollars are hard at work building them a canteen that serves liquor (!) and paying lawyers when their members stray from the straight-and-narrow. In Robinson’s case, he’s swerved completely off the map.

In 2008, he had 5 beers at a party and then drove home with his kids in the car. See, I’m up in arms about that and he’s only just getting started. On the way, he struck and killed motorcyclist Orion Hutchinson. Instead of acting like a normal, feeling, thinking person, let alone a police officer who should bloody know better, he rushed home to do a few shots of vodka in order to disguise the fact that he was drunk when he hit Hutchinson. I know, right? The rest of us would be freaking out over the welfare of the person we’d struck, but Monty is more concerned about his own dear self. And he’s in law enforcement so he knows exactly how to mess up a Breathalyzer test, so that’s good. Imagine, your child is dying by the side of the road and the person who hit him is doing shots of Stoli in order to avoid being nailed for it. Never mind helping the victim, just get real drunk so you can return to the scene, and say, Yeah I’m real drunk now but when I hit this guy I was A-OK. It would make the angels weep. Oh, and he said in trial that he did the shots to “dull the pain” he was feeling. Poor guy! Again, it’s all about him. He’s the real victim here. But. I wonder what Orion Hutchinson was feeling?

Anyone else would wind up spending many years in jail for these kind of shenanigans, but what happens to him? Loses his job. Big deal, anybody else would lose their job too. Otherwise, he’s just getting house arrest for a blink’s worth of time. The judge is taking into account the fact that he’s an alcoholic? It’s been four years, people. Now he needs rehab? That’s super-convenient. Exactly when he’s being sentenced. What has he been doing for the past four years? What, killing someone wasn’t enough of a wake-up call? And she’s concerned because he’s native. If I were a native person I’d be hopping mad about that bit of racism. It’s exactly that kind of patronizing attitude that weakens the native community.

The judge also points out that he’d need to be in protective custody. I don’t buy this either. He strikes me as exactly the kind of guy who knows how to work any angle. Don’t they have rehab programs in prison? Two birds, one stone.

(Is it a coincidence that in 2007 he was a member of the crack team that walked into YVR and killed the hapless tourist Robert Dziekanski? Aren’t cops taught to talk people down? No, they couldn’t wait to use their lethal little toys on him. And they killed him – because he didn’t pipe down quite fast enough for them, and they gave him a whole 20 seconds. What, four guys can’t calm one exhausted guy down? Any mom with a 4-year-old could have done a better job. Just sit down cross-legged on the carpet and announce it’s circle time. Pass some snacks: Cheerios in a plastic cup, tetra-pak of apple juice. Be real calm, smile – what’s hard about this? It’s just a tantrum! No, instead they zapped him with enough electrical current to stop a bear. Easier. More fun. And then….they totally lied about it! Even though there was video, can I have a duh for the brothahs? Angels. Weeping.)

OMG, I’ve been dying to get that out for 5 years. My heart is with Dziekanski’s mom, Zofia Cisowski, and the parents of Orion Hutchinson, whose pain I feel today. It’s just insult on injury when wrongdoers walk away from out-and-out crimes, and when those wrongdoers are members of law enforcement agencies it’s a monstrous betrayal of the public trust. Frankly, I think that when police officers commit these crimes their punishment should be more than for the average person. Like when they threaten to double the fine when you speed in a construction zone. Sometimes the average citizen idiot breaks the law just out of cluelessness, or laziness, but a cop? Should know better. And they do it anyway. Like the officer that was selling weed? That’s baaaad. And the punishment should be commensurate with that fact. We should hold them to a higher standard.

I know there are lots of police officers out there toiling away and doing a great job, like the guys who came out when I called 911 because someone banged on my door in the middle of the night. As it turned out, there was a car parked in front of the house with its lights on and the person was actually being a good Samaritan and trying to let us know. But he scared the bejesus out of me and I called my husband and then I called the cops. So the police arrived lickety-split, and while they were looking round the house and the yard my husband comes screeching around the corner like a bat out of hell, startling me, startling them, and….well, I’m just glad they didn’t have tasers and were very calm people, that’s all. Also they were VPD.

Although….sometimes I wonder about the VPD too. We are members of RestaurantWatch, which is an organization designed to make drug dealers and gang members regret their means of livelihood by essentially identifying and shaming them when they try to go out to a restaurant for a meal. Basically like BarWatch, except that with BarWatch the officers can just come in to any bar and have a wander round, and nab the “baddies”. With RestaurantWatch the staff are obliged to call RestaurantWatch squad and have them come in and roust the identified alleged gang members. They make them pay their bill first, which is the important part. Now the RestaurantWatch squad are well-trained in discretion and don’t make a big deal about moving people along. But here’s the thing. The officers responding to the call aren’t always trained in RestaurantWatch protocol! That’s when it gets exciting. More than once we’ve had a small army come tromping in, say in loud voices with pointing fingers, “That them? Looks like them!” and turning to the horrified manager, “They’re the ones you called us to kick out, right?” In full view and hearing of all patrons. This is unbelievably mortifying and terrifying to our staff. Although it must be said that the identified persons are almost always beautifully-mannered about it, or at least don’t give the staff a hard time. There was one time that a few guys came back but it turned out they had forgotten to tip and were returning to rectify that little omission, God love them. So while RestaurantWatch, while an admirable program designed to take a bite out of crime by not allowing crime to have a bite of anything at all, in theory, is not perfect in practice. And that’s not the fault of the guys heading up the program, who are awesome. I guess it’s going to take a little time to get a bit more seamless. But I would think it’s just common sense, wouldn’t you? They way they do it, they may as well bring a big bullseye to spang on the manager’s shirt. So, while the VPD are on the whole a well-disciplined organization (great restraint during the riot; I was worried it would look like a Punch-and-Judy show with batons going up and down but it wasn’t), they aren’t perfect. But who among us is?

Whew! My goodness! So self-righteous! Tomorrow I’ll have to talk about makeup or similar just to balance out the vitriol.

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Summer 2012: Indifferent

Yesterday’s weather was glorious! But I sat out in the sun too much the day before, like a dope, and burned my chest, so I stayed out of the beautiful sunshine and did a little art project with the girls. And today big roiling clouds are moving in, promising showers. And the girls have decided to spend the day in bed – a John and Yoko-type statement, possibly? – so I will hie me to the grocery store.

Beautiful day in Bowser….

And the art work we (I) did on that beautiful day:

Koalas in a gum tree!

So not a super-genius move on my part, even if the art is stunning. However, Justin and Mio went paddleboarding so they made good use of their day, whilst Hana went for a “swim” in 3 inches of water in the paddle pool. She got her hair wet, I don’t know how. Maybe she did a headstand in there. I was painstakingly cutting out small green leaves so I missed her adventure.

Paddleboarder plus 1 stowaway

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Vancouver Island in the summer: Salmon

When we come to Bowser we eat a lot of salmon. It’s summery, healthy, and abundantly available. They even had locally-caught salmon in the Courtenay Super Store. You could buy farmed Atlantic, but there were slippery plastic bags with clearly freshly caught fish in them. Sweet. It hadn’t been de-scaled, though, which was less sweet. Scales everywhere.

Creamy Herb Sauce for Salmon

  • handful parsley (curly or flat-leaf)
  • sprig mint
  • 1 green onion
  • 1/4 c. light sour cream
  • 2 T. Greek yogurt
  • 2 T. light mayonnaise
  • 1 t. grainy dijon mustard
  • 1-2 t. sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • juice of 1 lemon

Combine all in the bowl of a small food processor and whiz away. Or chop the herbs finely and whisk it all together. The bare bones of this recipe is mayonnaise, parsley, and lemon juice, but I’ve been fiddling with this for a while and this is the combination I prefer. But you can add other herbs (dill is good in small quantities but I never seem to have dill around), substitute lime juice, substitute a bit of garlic or onion for the green onion, different mustard, etc. It’s definitely a “use-what-you’ve-got” kind of recipe. We usually have asparagus with salmon and this sauce is yummy on that too.

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Things are looking up: homemade barbecue sauce!

It’s getting warmer, although still cloudy, and we’re barbecuing today. We made a barbecue sauce:

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 t. chopped garlic
  • 1 c. ketchup
  • 1/4 c. vinegar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1 T. paprika
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. instant espresso powder or 1 t. instant coffee
  • 2 t. soy sauce

(If I had agave syrup I’d use it in this. But I don’t have any here.) We sizzled the garlic briefly in the olive oil, added everything else and simmered it for 10 minutes or so then turned the heat off and let it cool.

We rubbed skinless chicken thighs and a pork tenderloin with rub made with a mixture of :

  • 1 T. garlic salt
  • 1 T. paprika
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 2 t. dried thyme
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 1 t. ground coriander

My main goal in Bowser is to get some good uninterrupted reading done and I haven’t been here quite long enough for the uninterrupted part to happen, especially as there aren’t any other kids here so my girls are looking to me to entertain them, or at least turn off the TV and point them outside. But I’ve managed to get through Paul Theroux’s new novel, Murder at Mount Holly, Camilla Lackberg’s The Ice Princess, and Justin Halpern’s I Suck at Girls.

I’m loving Swedish authors – like everyone else! I was reading Henning Mankell for ages, and then of course the Stieg Larsson novels…then I got into John Ajvide Lindqvist, who wrote Let The Right One In that was made into a very spooky and unusual vampire movie. His take on the undead in Handling the Dead is fairly awesome too; not your usual zombie horror story. I love commonsense treatment of these horror-fiction staples. Lindqvist’s vampire suffers – he/she/it (it’s never quite clear) is truly limited by the vampire’s physical limitations and it’s clear that she’s at a disadvantage in the human world. So unlike the majority of vampires in popular fiction, like Anne Rice’s Lestat and Co., and of course the Twilight vampires who are vegetarians by vampire standards, drive great cars, dress well, and are essentially superheroes. They’re just so awesome, right? Who wouldn’t want to be one of them? What’s the downside, really? Nothing a little therapy couldn’t handle. Anyway, no Twilight ranting here because I’m meant to be talking about Swedish authors. I’ve just sampled Camilla Lackberg – The Ice Princess – and I didn’t find the writing as absorbing as Henning Mankell or Stieg Larsson although it was a good mystery novel. And of course I’m reading Astrid Lindgren’s Emil books to the girls. We love Emil! Although he’s mostly out of print, alas; I had to find ex-library copies through alibris.com….

Justin Halpern I LOVE. So funny. His dad is one cantankerous foulmouthed character but his remarks to his son are pithy and wise, if delivered in a hilariously crude fashion. He’s gross, but he’s right. I love that he’s a doctor, too. I adore incongruities. Although I’m puzzled as to why they cast William Shatner in this role (I haven’t seen the TV series, mind) – I totally see Philip Baker Hall for this. He does cranky so well. I guess he’s already doing cranky old guy for Modern Family. But William Shatner’s so jolly. I should probably watch it first before making this knee-jerk judgment! But he’s really jolly, right?

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