Merry Merry Dribbling Christmas

I am suffering from my annual 3-month winter virus. Darn those little kindergarten snot-dribblers, anyway! Children are delightful, but they are disease factories.
I came home from work on Friday and worked for awhile on translating Egyptian hieroglyphs out of sheer humiliation. Friday was the day that a little girl, aged five, critiqued my numeral ‘four’ and found it wanting. “Mrs. Dook,” she said, “I have a problem with your ‘four.’ Both the sticks have to be high. Here – I’ll show you.” Then she took my dry erase marker out of my hand and demonstrated on the board. This was in front of two classes of children (our big-buddies, a grade 4 class) were in the room as well, and their student teacher laughed so hard she nearly fell over. A day earlier this same child (she reminds me of me), corrected my numeral ‘two.’ “There is no loop,” she told me gravely.
I was in that class for over a week, and did I ever have a good time! there was a keyboard in the room, with a sustaining pedal, so I played improving tunes for the children – like Henry the VIII’s ‘Pastime with Good Company’ (“He was a really mean guy,” I told the children, “but he was a good composer.”) and ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town.’ They received both with equal enthusiasm, bless their hearts. (“A KING,” one of them said. “He was a REAL KING.”) There is a real King at Christmas too, but I wasn’t allowed to talk about him. And upon reflection, it’s probably a good thing. School is the wrong place to have religious debates, so the more secular they make Christmas at schools, the better. Don’t water down religion – either eliminate it or give the full dose. That’s what I say, anyway.
John Darling and I went to a fundraiser Syrian dinner the other night. My glory, how our refugee family can cook! Based on the quality of the Syrian cuisine we tasted the other night, my vote is that we let more Syrians into this country. Frankly, Canadian cuisine could use the boost. There was slow-roasted chicken on fragrant rice, and grape vine leaves wrapped around lemon-flavoured rice, and spinach pies with a pastry cover, and flatbread and sauces to go with, and little round deep-fried bean balls, and two kinds of dessert, one of them flat and honey-flavoured, and the other little sweetened shredded wheat nests with an almond in the middle.
Tonight, despite my sore throat, I intend to put on my cruiser suit and join my friend MIchelle in her Seagull engine-powered dinghy for the Cowichan Bay sailpast.Last summer Michelle and I entered the Seagull dinghy race (and came in last, but that’s another story). Any day on the water where nobody falls in is a success.
Our two-foot-tall thrift-store tree is up. This year’s tree is new to us. I could not find the other one I’ve used for the last 20 years. It is buried somewhere in storage, never to be found again. As soon as we got our new $5.00 tree home from the Salvation Army thrift store, I noticed that the base was so narrow that the tree tipped over every time the boat rocked, so John Darling glued the base onto a square of plyboard. This is another wonderful example of doing things ‘the Cowichan Bay Way.’ Our philosophy is ‘put a bowl under it’ and ‘put a tarp over it’. The Cowichan Bay philosophy is worth living by.
And good news – we’re on Tulla’s soup list. Nobody makes soup like Tuula. Last week it was chicken with coconut milk and curry.
Some wonderful person gave me a bag of quinces. The only encounter I’d ever had with a quince was many years ago while reading ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’. Here is the excerpt – “We dined on mince and slices of quince Which we ate with a runcible spoon.” My mother explained ‘runcible (curved)’, but she didn’t know what a quince was either.
Well, folks, here it is: A quince is a cross between a pear and an apple and a rock. They’re covered with a kind of grey greasy fuzz you have to wash off, and then you grate your brains out until you get to the core (which is even more rock-like than the flesh), and then you cook and cook and cook until the jam is set (this takes awhile), and then you turn the lumps into jars which you process in a water bath. It takes hours, but John Darling loves quince jam.
I have only two burners on my stove, but I have a system.
Incidentally, I have no idea how the Owl and the Pussycat could have possibly dined on ‘slices of quince’ because the fruit is so bitter you need to add pounds of sugar to the gratings to make a palpable jam.
Quinces are fascinating little suckers.
And that’s all the news that’s fit to print. May God bless you this Holiday Season and always!