Beaucoup de laver.

Lotsa washing, this evening.

It started with dinner dishes, of course. Everyone does the dishes and no one should ever write a blog post about it unless the dishes are bordered with flowers painted from ground lapis luzuli applied with brushes made from the eyelashes of penitent monks. Mine aren’t. They’re from Cost Plus.

But I had to get the sink cleaned out and everything put away so I could do washing project No. 2, baby lamb. Of course, being a vegetarian house, this was the outside of the lamb, not the inside.

My friend sent me a box.

Not my cardboard box

It was kind of like this one, only white. About 10″-12″ on a side. Not a huge box. Inside was a lovely white lambs’-wool fleece (THANK YOU!) and I thought, look, this box is smaller than the capacity of my kitchen sink. I will wash my fleece tonight. But the fleece had a few ideas of its own.

It grew. I took it out of the box and it was like an origami crane, but made of wool, going in reverse, on fire. Except for the fire part. It unfolded itself, separated into sections. Part of it slithered under the kitchen table, part headed for the oven where a pan of corn muffins, soon to be a culinary disaster due to too much rice flour, still baked and sent off their deceptively yummy smell.

The cat discovered the fleece. And surprisingly, he did not pee on it. Instead, he rolled, kneaded, petted. He found free sets of wool locks and embraced them. It was disgusting. There isn’t this much love on television.

I gave it a preliminary skirt, divided the fleece into three sections and decided to do one at a time. The one section took several baths. Now, my understanding is that with a well-skirted, newly shorn fleece, it should be wash-wash-rinse-hang to dry. My fleece? Not so much. Wash-wash-rinse-rinse-rinse-rinse-rinse-rinse-hang to dry because I’m sick of standing over this sink and by the way, by this time the muffins (yes, well away from the sink and from any Cat Lanolin Love going on) have decided to play with the laws of physics and become corn-flavored dust. Tasty dust. Dust nonetheless.

After all that lanolin- and mud- and who-knows-what-all laying on my kitchen floor, of course I mopped. What do you take me for?

All kinds of clean going on in my kitchen, now. You could eat corn dust off my floor. But watch out for the cat. He’s easy.


Deep rumblings bode not well

I have been baking for four hours now. I shouldn’t have been. Really. But my oven hates me and I can hear its happy low rumbles of pleasure as it maintains its current 350 degrees of nanny boo boo at me.

Let me explain.

I decided to make brownies for the Boy’s CampFire club tomorrow. It’s almost his birthday and I thought it would be nice to celebrate with a little treat. That’s what we do, right? So I know the oven is sometimes… slow to respond, as it were, and so I come out from putting him to bed (the Boy, not the oven) and I immediately turn on the oven to 350. It’s a good bet that the temperature will be somewhere in that area. Then I go looking for a recipe that is both dairy- and gluten-free, because that’s what I needed. It’s 8:30p.m. La la la…

I find a recipe and by 9:00 I’m making the brownies–grinding the almonds into meal, melting the chocolate–everything is beginning to smell appropriately chocolately. (I like “chocolately.” I’m a spelling Mrs. Danvers*, I will cut you with my sharpened-steel gaze if you mentally use the wrong “your/you’re/yore”, but this mistake I find charming and usable. I need to sleep on the contradiction.)

By the time I’m ready to put the brownies into the oven, it’s 11:00p.m. (There was a lot of specific steps to the recipe and it’s the first time I’d baked specifically gluten-free; I wanted to be careful and the darn chocolate just wouldn’t melt.) I looked at the oven, which had been preheating for two-and-a-half hours now.

It wasn’t cold. Oh, no. (That might indicate a problem.) It was at 150. It was pleasantly warm. It was socks-on-the-radiator warm. It was toast. It was not, after two-and-a-half hours, 350 degrees hot.

A few choice words might have deflated my brownie batter then and there. I contemplated my toaster oven. I turned the oven knob to off, turned it back on, up to 450 degrees (to get it started). Twenty minutes later? No dice. My independent internally-placed hardware store oven thermometer read 125. It was going down.

Fifteen minutes later it was at 400. I jumped at my chance. I turned down the oven slightly, put the brownies in, closed the door.

Now the recipe stated that I should underbake them to keep them gooey and not let them get crumbly. Well… not a problem. Fifteen minutes into the baking time, the temp was down to 300 and I could hear the faint laughter as of a round belly of evil jiggling with untoward mirth. Like Jabba the Hutt when Princess Leia, dressed as a bounty hunter, comes down in the gloom of night(ish) to gently touch the face of the imprisoned Han Solo.

Like that. Only in my oven. “HO Ho ho.

I tried to put it up to 400 again. By now it was down to 225. I left it for another 15 minutes. It was up to 275 and the brownies were steep valleys, waiting for bighorn sheep and a trickle of water to indicate perspective in this perfect third-grader’s model of water erosion.

Now it’s 12:47. I took the brownies out at 12:20 and turned the oven off, finally giving up, hoping they are gooey and yet still edible, this experiment completely unrepeatable due to far too many fluctuating variables in temperature. It’s now 12:47.

And the oven, chuckling softly, is at 350 degrees. Ho ho ho.

p.s. Why am I still up? Someone will ask. Because, because, because, the recipe states that I need to let the brownies cool, then chill them. So I have to wait for the cooling and then do the chilling. It may be a disaster, but I will see my disaster through to the end.

*From Wikipedia: “Mrs. Danvers, who was profoundly devoted to Rebecca, tries to undermine the second Mrs. de Winter, suggesting to her that she will never attain the urbanity and charm that Rebecca possessed. Whenever Mrs. de Winter attempts changes at Manderley, Mrs. Danvers points out how Rebecca ran Manderley when she was alive. Each time Mrs. Danvers does this, she implies that the new Mrs. de Winter is lacking in experience and knowledge and understanding of the complexities of the management of an important estate such as Manderley. The second Mrs. de Winter is cowed by Mrs. Danvers’ imposing manner and complies with the housekeeper’s suggestions.” See? Just like me. Only with spelling instead of housekeeping and murdered wives.

Take a deep breath.

The last time I posted it was February and I had to give up. I’d been sick for weeks and weeks and I continued to be sick until March. Then life got fun.

Fun, in good ways, like going to the zoo with friends, examining leaves, sending letters to pen pals. And fun, in not so good ways, like spending this last week with Wee G running a temp of 102 and coughing and shnuffling, while TMoTH tried not to implode from the weight of all the fun he was having preparing for the San Diego Space Society‘s awesomely successful San Diego Space Festival booth. Late nights with not enough sleep was wearing on us, and the boy was having way too many days of too-sick-to-do-school, change-in-routine, with restless nights in the bargain. Then Whee Excitement on Saturday. Today we’re all exhausted.

But my sweet one gave me an hour to weave, and he took a 2 hour nap. This was good, because the boy is going to have a hard time getting used to routine again, and we’ll both need the rest. But our guy will be glad of it after a day or three.

Why am I up? If I’m so tired, shouldn’t I be in bed? Yes, but you see, I have bread dough rising. I have to wait until 11:30 to shape my Pane Siciliano from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice into enticing (I hope!) S-curves and put it in the fridge. Hopefully I’ll be in bed by midnight with bread to bake in the morning. I hope. I’ve not ever made this recipe before…

And then the week begins again. Before I go to bed, I need to decide what to read in the morning. Morning reading has become a beloved time for Boy Geeklet, and what we read really does set the stage for our mornings.