Heavens! The little girl is nine years old now! How time flies. Last year she invited her friends to go swimming, this year we tried roller-skating. As parents, we aim to please everybody – this year we aimed to please the parents by physically wearing their children out. That usually buys you a few points with the other parents. If not that, then at least we took the other kids off their hands for a couple of hours. The skating rink is a noisy place situated amongst several car lots so if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the thumping disco music, you can always go shop for a new car. Talk about a win-win situation! I, of course, had to stay and operate the cameras but our visiting relatives and some other parents went out and checked prices on the new Chevys.

You can never tell in advance what Erin will do or what sorts of things she will take an interest in. Last year, she wanted a cake in the shape of a mermaid. This year, she dispensed with the girly stuff and asked for a “dirt” cake. She wanted chocolate cake, chocolate icing, and crumbled oreos on top. It really does look a lot like fill dirt. We should have parked a toy tractor on it. I’ve given up trying to anticipate her; I just have to ask.

I suspect that in this case, she just liked the idea of whacking cookies with a hammer. My idea (which was rudely rejected) was to back the car over the cookie package. Then, all we would have had to do is pick it up, open it and pour. But no. Wiser ones than I tell me you’re supposed to use a blender but our blender is long gone; I can’t even remember what happened to it. Furthermore, it’s obvious by now that when opinions are solicited in the kitchen, they don’t really mean to include me. I can’t remember when one of my ideas was listened to but I’m prepared to admit that some (well, most) are a little unconventional. But, you see, I’m “thinking outside the box.” I guess that in the kitchen you’re supposed to stay inside the box when it comes to thinking. Perhaps that’s why ovens are box-shaped.

Erin seemed to rake in quite a bit of cash this time around. That’s fine by her; she usually has a mental shopping list in the back of her mind. Being the birthday girl has unfortunately gone to her head. She’s been pretty cocky so we’ve switched the birthday mode off. The last thing we did was to let her pick a movie and sit in the recliner to watch it. Her choice? Sleeping Beauty.

To me, Sleeping Beauty has always been one of the “Disney Classics” that wasn’t so classic – quite forgettable in fact (at least to me). It’s just like Cinderella except it has three fat fairies instead of just one. Other than that, it’s the same Ken and Barbie cast. I keep wondering, if those fairies were so magical as to be able to fly and automatically wash dishes and whatnot, why didn’t they magic some of that fat off their wastelines? Further, how did the bad lady ever build such power just over the hill in the next county like that? In the 14th century, I expect she would have been burned at the stake as a young woman after she uttered her first ‘abracadabra’.

Anyway, Erin probably felt all the more special due to the presence of the visiting aunt Linda and uncles Andy and Tom. You have to feel special when folks come in from out of town. The gift-giving even rubbed off on me as I gave away a handful of wooden writing pens.

Of course, my motives were not entirely unselfish. When you have a hobby that involves making something permanent like pens, you occasionally have a problem as you build up an inventory. It would probably be better to have cooking as a hobby; that way you always eat up what you create and nothing piles up in the house (unless you’re a bad cook I guess.) If you’re a gardener, then your creations fade away once a year and you get a chance to re-create them in the spring. But when you make things like pens, you find yourself with a growing pile of things that must be either sold or given away. “Sold” would be nice but that would require selling which would make it too much like work.

The trouble is that it’s so rewarding. They are typically made from scraps that aren’t suitable for most other projects. If you encounter a piece of wood that is knotty or has some swirly pattern in it, you usually shy away from including that in other projects due to the unfortunate fact that the table saw frequently grabs those knots, loosens them, and launches them at you with the speed of an anti-tank missile. This is a bad thing. But such chunks make spiffy-looking pens. Further, you can finish one in about an hour and thus feel like you’ve accomplished something. So, if anyone needs a classy-looking writing implement, let me know.

So, the birthday came and went with much celebration and fanfare. Now on to the next big event: Evan’s birthday. And after that, our (a drum roll please…….) 20th anniversary! Any ideas for how best to mark that occasion may be forwarded to me as soon as possible.