Your Christmas Cthulhu

On our honeymoon, CJ and I went to the Wharf restaurant in Merimbula. The food is great and the location stunning. There was only one problem – we forgot to take any money. CJ went home to get some, and the staff invited me to wander downstairs for free – where there happens to be an aquarium.

That was the day I met my new favourite animal: the giant cuttlefish. It has a face full of tentacles, and it stared at me with as much interest as I stared at it.

When we went on our second honeymoon early this year, one of my greatest hopes was to see my betentacled friend once more. It was still there (along with a new, smaller one), and twice the size as it was two years earlier.

So here it is: nature’s cthulhu. You’re welcome – and Merry Christmas.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEcmq1pfa0M&list=UUV1ouIamDXynbdULuW4-FZw&index=1&feature=plcp

Tomorrow: The top ten awesomenesses of 2011, with pictures and links.

Christmas on the interwebs

Christmas and New Year’s Day are two of the slowest and dullest days on the internet each year, so I’ve prepared three special blog entries just for you.

Christmas Eve: Something special from the watery depths (tentacles most definitely included).

Christmas Day: Top ten awesomenesses of 2011 (it turns out my year wasn’t nearly as dull as I remember).

New Year’s Day: Sarcastic Christmas letter.

You’re welcome, internet! You deserve love after giving us this:

#119: Eat Fish and Chips at the beach

 You know what’s cool? The ocean. You know what else is cool? Lard. Combine the two, and the world is made of magic.

Guess where I am right now (or at least, as I prepare this post)?

I am in a beachside cottage with my parents (who are paying for the whole thing), my nephew, my brother and his wife, and my sister and her husband. Oh, and CJ 🙂 As I write I am eating post-fish and chips M&Ms and listening to the sound of waves trying and failing to lap over the threshold as I sit happily by a heater. The sound is also similar to:

Large amounts of cardboard ripping.

A house slowly falling down.

An intermittent waterfall.

Static.

Several old people muttering and shushing one another in the next room.

The fish and chips was excellent, thank you. It is the perfect holiday food.

In other news, Ben sent me his comments on H.P. Lovecraft’s original sketch of Cthulhu. He said:

This teaches us 3 things:

1. Lovecraft really couldn’t draw. Really.

2. Cthulhu resembles a Potato more than is generally recalled.

3. Damn that is cool handwriting.

The picture is from image shack

S#85: Random Club

On Steff Metal’s list of 101 ways to cheer yourself up (which you can find if you go to steffmetal.com and click on the link on the right) she wrote:

Open your gig guide, close your eyes, and point. That’s where you’re going tonight. Dress inappropriately, and make the best of it.

Since I am not at all acquainted with Canberra’s music scene (sad but true), I choose one of those free “What’s on in Canberra” magazines for my assigned awesomeness. I ended up with a craft day at the National Museum. One tiny problem: it was a craft day for under sixes.

So I borrowed a 5-year old “beard” from a friend (who was pathetically grateful), and wore a whole lot of purple.

There were about thirty under-sixes and free fairy bread, so it was a pretty unique experience (for me as a non-mum, anyway). My beard liked the giant lego. . .

. . . and the ability to glue things to other things.

To be fair, he was annoyed there was no TV or computer. But no tantrums, so all good.

One of the coolest things about the preschool crowd (other than not needing to change nappies any more) is they are the ultimate absurd comedians. My beard said things like:

 “Oh! This is the forest I came to last week. I saw kangaroos and dragons.”

“Last week, I came to this farm. There were horses, and sheep, and pigs. The pigs got killed. They were healthy pigs, very clean. And then I killed them.”

“Look! A rocket!”

“Are there dragons there? Dragons eat people.” [gales of delighted laughter]

“My aunt had a baby. It was in her stomach last week, and then it came out – of her BUM!” [gales of delighted laughter – the baby in question is now walking]

As you can tell, he’s recently discovered the existence of “last week”, and seen “How to Train Your Dragon.”

I once showed him a dead octopus, which he said was, “Yucky for eating.” I can only imagine he’d have a similar response to this pic from Flickr:

Three-Ingredient Thursday: Strawberry and Banana Milkshake

Fine. I admit it. I’m posting Thursday’s post on Wednesday. Today got away from me a bit.

Also, the title might kind of give away the ingredients. Luckily, I forgot to photograph them before blending them, so here’s one photo with the final product + two of the three main ingredients. Another FABULOUS way to get your fruit serves in.

In other news, here’s an extra special cthulhu from 

http://www.boingboing.net/2010/07/19/neil-gaimans-cthulkh.html

#78: New job

This entry is PG for moderately bad swearing (at the end).

One of the best (and worst) things about my day job – private tutoring – is that things are constantly getting shuffled around. I’m about to take on some new students, so I get all the thrills and spills of a new job without losing my old job.

Here in Canberra we divide ourselves into the North Side and the South Side, and my relationship across that divide (with CJ) was considered exotic and strange from the beginning (despite the fact that it takes around thirty minutes to travel that distance). When we married, I said tearful goodbyes to all my Northside family and friends, and moved to CJ’s side of town. I’ve been slooooowly evolving my tutoring schedule ever since, so perhaps in some distant future I won’t have to go through the Glenloch Interchange two to four times every single work day.

To me, the improving schedule is terribly exciting. I even have a few students that I teach from home now (something that wasn’t possible pre-marriage, since I lived in a series of underage-drug-addled/surreal/excitingly overcrowded/peeping-tom-prone share houses – when I wasn’t living in a non-bathroomed garage or a fungus-infested hovel without drinkable water).

Tutoring is where the art of scheduling reaches its most adrenalin-fueled highs. That’s right. I said it.

I have a (highly blue-tacked and thus adjustable) schedule in my room, with different regions in different colours. You’d think colourful stationary was enough – you’d be wrong. The REALLY exciting thing about the tutoring schedule is that my ideal workload is three hours a day, and the key tutoring zone is after school but before dinner – which is to say, 4-7pm. Which means that in order for things to actually work, I need to travel instantaneously. Yes, that’s right! The future is here!

Sorta.

My schedule is pretty tight at the moment, but I reckon I have room for two more students. So the game is on to find them. What will happen next? Will someone from the far end of town tempt me out of my new zone of employ with delicious afternoon tea and an angel-faced student with absolutely no grasp of maths? Will I find another young face for my cats to glare at every Thursday afternoon? Will I find a mature-age student I can actually teach during the day? Will my existing families get so annoyed at yet another schedule adjustment that they fire me?

I’ll let you know!

Coming soon:

Guilty pleasure

Write your own alphabet

Three-Ingredient Thursday: Snack

Visit a freakin’ waterfall!

Midnight Snackage (with my sister and bro-in-law, who are visiting, yay!)

. . . and more

As usual for July, here’s a pretty pretty picture tangentially related to “When Good Libraries Go Bad”. This is from http://www.llbbl.com/data/RPG-motivational/images/

S#5: Poetry

I just made this poem my desktop. For obvious reasons. Either my grandma or my friend Tabby introduced me to this one.

I had a hippopotamus

I had a Hippopotamus, I kept him in a shed
And fed him upon vitamins and vegetable bread
I made him my companion on many cheery walks
And had his portrait done by a celebrity in chalk

His charming eccentricities were known on every side
The creatures’ popularity was wonderfully wide
He frolocked with the Rector in a dozen friendly tussles
Who could not but remark on his hippopotamuscles

If he should be affected by depression or the dumps
By hippopotameasles or the hippopotamumps
I never knew a particle of peace ’till it was plain
He was hippopotamasticating properly again

I had a Hippopotamus, I loved him as a friend
But beautiful relationships are bound to have an end
Time takes alas! our joys from us and rids us of our blisses
My hippopotamus turned out to be a hippopotamisses

My house keeper regarded him with jaundice in her eye
She did not want a colony of hippotami
She borrowed a machine gun from from her soldier nephew, Percy
And showed my hippopotamus no hippopotamercy

My house now lacks that glamour that the charming creature gave
The garage where I kept him is now as silent as the grave
No longer he displays among the motor tyres and spanners
His hippopomastery of hippopotamanners

No longer now he gambles in the orchards in the spring
No longer do I lead him through the village on a string
No longer in the morning does the neighbourhood rejoice
To his hippopotamusically-meditated voice

I had a hippopotamus but nothing upon earth
Is constant in its happines or lasting in its mirth
No joy that life can give me can be strong enough to smother
My sorrow for that might-have-been-a-hippopota-mother

Patrick Barrington

Both of today’s pics are from Flickr. And here’s the White House cthulhu eyeing off his next target.

Three-Ingredient Thursday: Breakfast Fry-Up

Oh heck yeah.

Here in Australia we call this breakfast “a fry-up”. In Britain they have “The Full English Breakfast” but I have it on reliable authority (ie, my British-born mum-in-law) that a full English breakfast must include sausages. The alternative name for this dish is “Bacon and eggs with potato”. It really does say it all.

I like my eggs poached, so I poached the egg and fried the rest (the potato went in about twenty minutes before anything else). This is a BRILLIANT way to start the day – particularly if you’re not dieting. It’s great if you’re going lactose free and only gradually getting used to the concept of soy milk on cereal (that’s soy milk in the glass – baby steps).

Tomorrow: Wedding photos! At last! And an amusing photo of Ben 🙂 Hi Ben. It’s a photo you haven’t seen yet. Sleep well tonight!

And here’s your cthulhu for today (because there’s nothing cuter than a planet-eating monster*):

*Except possibly a chainsaw. Chainsaws are super cute.

#163: Unusual Anniversary

Happy 113th day of Daily Awesomeness! Here are links to every awesome thing I’ve done since I began. I also included a few of my favourite photos. I put a bullet next to the ones I thought were especially awesome.

Play along at home: Pick ONE awesome thing, do it, and tell us about it in the comments.

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/90-write-a-letter-to-my-future-self/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/03/26/s53-be-a-tourist-in-your-own-city/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/s98-embrace-another-culture/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/96-sew-something/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/108-guerilla-gardening/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/s64-lego-aka-secret-number-1/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/120-christian-passover-celebration/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/02/122-someone-elses-tradition-and-twitter/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/03/109-spend-a-whole-day-in-a-bookshop/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/109-a-whole-meal-of-one-colour/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/124-lord-of-the-rings-marathon/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/125-read-an-awesome-book/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/36-sing/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/126-see-a-live-choir/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/09/s13-take-a-bath-and-twitter/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/10/127-unusual-exercise/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/11/s631-guitar-trek/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/110-play-an-elaborate-prank-aka-secret-number-two/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/13/128-cheese-party/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/s632-the-national-carillon/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/129-fish-and-chips/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/16/s633-the-front-cafe-gallery-and-twitter/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/17/s634-the-imaginarium-of-doctor-parnassus/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/18/s635-duntroon-military-band/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/131-take-a-nap/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/yum-cha/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/56-spread-good-news/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/95-aka-secret-number-four/ give away money

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/7-look-after-your-car-and-twitter/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/s637-cello-and-piano-performance/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/144-go-somewhere-ive-never-been-pine-island/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/28/s69-de-clutter/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/138-poetry-reading/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/04/30/89-take-st-johns-wort-and-complete-twittertale/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/02/82-buy-boots/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/04/145-de-motivational-posters/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/142-reverse-burglary/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/06/132-try-try-again/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/123-edit-a-steampunk-novel/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/08/118-collage-of-awesomeness/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/10/148-nerf-duel/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/11/3-go-mad-in-a-lolly-shop/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/108-take-someone-on-a-date/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/51-guilt-free-candy-binge/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/14/149-alien-creatures-aka-go-fish/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/15/144-three-days-without-junk-food/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/16/s41-wear-a-mask/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/17/s74-the-old-fashioned-way/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/s75-build-a-fort/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/151-watch-iron-man-2/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/guest-post-by-emmy-lennevald/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/152-get-in-healthy-weight-range/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/22/150-wear-a-tiara/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/23/s70-light-a-fire/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/10-anticipation/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/6-steal-a-plant/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/dance-in-a-supermarket/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/s59-otherwise-known-as/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/153-what-my-kids-will-look-like/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/147-dream-diary/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/s56-feed-ducks/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/154-savings-and-the-unisus-kitten/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/02/s48-music/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/5-go-thrift-shopping/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/160-fill-your-house-with-balloons/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/05/161-move-furniture-at-2am/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/121-eat-cjs-trifle/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/s68-gratitude/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/09/99-rediscover-winter-clothing/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/three-ingedient-thursday-1/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/48-breakfast-in-bed/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/46-writing-binge/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/155-three-ingredient-thursday-2/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/156-celebrate-a-milestone-with-yum-cha/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/s72-play-board-games/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/157-diy-green-your-home/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/16/s68-silly-slippers/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/154-play-the-chocolate-game/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/19/158-day-of-rest/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/159-go-to-a-wedding/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/new-years-resolution-in-another-month/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/115-visit-godparents/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/26/s83-community-classes/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/s90-love-letter/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/94-eat-novelty-food/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/s18-hot-stuff/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/meringues-and-cthulhu/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/07/02/47-fall-asleep-spooning/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/07/03/s6-dress-up/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/07/03/s6-dress-up-part-two/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/s29-write-to-your-idols/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/s27-love-your-fear/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/s71-fruit-and-veg/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/07/08/three-ingredient-thursday-baked-apple/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/07/09/119-cook-with-home-grown-herbs/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/122-hummus-hat-trick/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/141-broadway-day/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/170-win-a-blog-award/

https://felicitybanks.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/34-wear-jeans/

And here’s today’s cthulhu pic. I love this one.

#141: Broadway Day

Oh what a beautiful moooooorrrrrniiiiiing!

The funny thing about movies is they take a REALLY long time to watch. Especially “Oklahoma”. My friends and I watched the three-hour version (with Hugh Jackman), and it is SO not suitable for children. Wow! I think it gave me nightmares. Drugs, murder, assault, racism, and at least two things I never ever even mention on this blog (both of which happened in song, too).

We also watched “Moulin Rouge” (which I love, and always have – I was devastated the first time I saw it, because I was so hoping Satine’s predicted death was a metaphor). We planned to watch “Sweeney Todd” (speaking of the unsuitable-for-children variety of musicals) and “Singing in the Rain” (which actually *IS* the hearty, happy musical that we innocently expect from “Oklahoma”), but we ran out of time.

Also, I think something happened to our brains. (And no, there wasn’t any alcohol. At all.)

I have hazy recollections of Fay beating up Ben with a baguette, of myself lurking around the kitchen with a hammer, and of Fay doing strange and wonderful things to my hair.

If CJ is killed with a hammer, I’m going to be in soo much trouble.

I find it suspicious that no photos were taken of Fay beating up Ben. If he’s killed by a baguette, I for one will be asking questions.

Since I’m eating healthily these days, we ate hommus and turkish bread, home-made soup, cheddar-sprinkled corn kernels, and more hommus with celery, capsicum and carrot. And lasagna for dinner.

(I have successfully lured my second brilliant author to the blog this year – Sandy Fussell herself commented on S#29: Write to your idols.)

No cthulhus were harmed (this one’s from Flickr – he is facing the White House, with – as you can see – a thoughtful expression):

S#29: Write to your idols

In preparation for the writing festival on the weekend, I visited the websites of most of the guest authors, and picked the five books that looked most suited to my taste – “The Ruby Talisman” by Belinda Murrell (about a modern girl who wakes up one morning next to her great-grea-great grandmother just as the French revolution begins), “The Rage of Sheep” by Michelle Collins (about a high schooler working out her life, love and faith in a rather unpleasant 80s small town – the writing was instantly involving and funny throughout), “Mischief Afoot” by Moya Green (a little young for me, but fun and funny to read), “Samurai Kids 1: White Crane” by Sandy Fussell (A bunch of kids train for a samurai contest – but all of the kids are missing limbs or sight or the desire to fight), and “The Starthorn Tree” by Kate Forsyth (about a goat-boy who must flee his home and cross class and species boundaries in order to fulfil a prophecy and depose an evil ruler).

They were all excellent. So which one blew my mind?

“Samurai Kids 1: White Crane” by Sandy Fussell.

A great book needs a great story and great characters. All the above books had that. Sandy’s book also had a sly but gentle humour leaking through every page, and an elegantly unique way of describing the main character’s feelings – through his spirit, the white crane. What is more, although it’s not a moral tale, it has a depth of hope and meaning that is unmistakable – the hero, after all, is a one-legged samurai warrior. So anything’s possible. And there’s the warrior’s code, too (minus the traditional suicide bit – it is mentioned in the book as being “old-fashioned”), which is great for people who are drawn to the idea of honour. And the gradual unfurling of the characters is wonderful. The closeness of the friendships reminds me of “The Fellowship of the Ring”.

But my favourite part was the sly but gentle humour.

Samurais aren’t allowed to handle money.

“A samurai serves because it is his duty. Not because he desires gold coins,” Sensei told us.

“How will he eat then?” Mikko asked.

“With his mouth,” Sensei answered.

I took my chance at the festival to go up to Sandy and say (rather incoherently) how wonderful she was (she was very sweet and genuinely flattered – as she should be, since I read hundreds of books each year, and my taste is impeccable). I’ll also make sure she knows about this entry.

Play along at home: Who’s your favourite living author? Tell them why.

Coming soon:

Love your fear

Friendsday Wednesday (have lunch or dinner with a friend, or just call them). http://www.facebook.com/?sk=events#!/event.php?eid=348494771209 

Three-Ingredient Thursday: Dessert (quasi-healthy this time)

Make hummus

Unusual anniversary

And here’s your cthulhu quota for today:

Meringues (and cthulhu)

Welcome to July and “When Good Libraries Go Bad”. We interrupt your regular viewing to make this important safety announcement.

Cthulhu: coming soon to eat a planet near you.

What are they? Giant planet-eating monsters. With tentacles. (Which also tells you exactly why they appear in July’s twittertale.)

Who invented them? Probably lots of people, but H.P. Lovecraft is the big guy.

What do they look like? Every day in July I’ll post a picture of either a library or a cthulhu. Here’s a few to get you started (all from Flickr):

And now we move seamlessly into a three-ingredient meringue recipe.

Turn oven on to 100 degrees Celsius.

Beat four egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Slowly add half a cup of caster sugar (I used normal sugar, which isn’t as good).

Add half a tablespoon vanilla.

Spoon them onto greased baking paper in the oven until they look cooked (don’t open the door to check, just turn the oven off when they start to brown and take them out at least half an hour later).

Alternatively, you can eat the entire mixture raw. MmmmMMM.

As you can tell, I didn’t use baking powder, didn’t use any kind of technique to shape them, and was too busy eating to photograph them cooked.

Meringues are so excellent, and so cheap to make.