The week before Thanksgiving, the milk started to taste funny. Various members of the family blamed each other for leaving it out too long, and choked it down anyway. But when we sat down to dinner the day Grandpa O arrived, and Rollo's glass of milk came out all curdled, we couldn't ignore it any more. There was a problem with the refrigerator.
Careful measurement with thermometers of varying reliability revealed that the fridge was 10-15 degrees warmer than it ought to be, even at the coldest setting. I called repairmen, but none could come for a whole week. What would become of my Thanksgiving feast supplies? Then Grandpa O came to the rescue. He offered to give us a new refrigerator as an early Christmas gift.
We did some research and some shopping. In the meantime, we relied on our extra freezer. It kept the turkey safe, and provided buckets of ice to keep the refrigerator a bit cooler. A couple of things spoiled, but most stayed in good shape. I took the two and a half gallons of curdled milk and tried my hand at making cheese. It was mostly done before I poured it out of the jugs, actually, so it was pretty easy. We were having a sunny cold snap, so I chilled the cheese outside. I served this Queso Mostly-Fresco with tacos one day, and everyone ate it.
Finally we chose a new fridge, with delivery promised . . . on Wednesday. The same day the repairman would have come. We kept drinking juice and buying one gallon of milk at a time, and didn't eat breakfast cereal for over a week. When D2 came home from school every day, he asked if the new refrigerator had arrived. When the big day came, he helped me move things out of the old one. The delivery men had it all set up before lunch time, and said we could use it right away. It was so beautiful and clean, it almost seemed like a shame to put things inside. But we did, quickly. The boys were thrilled to come home to a new refrigerator, to have milk in the house again. Have you ever heard small children being excited about a major appliance? While dismaying, this was a good gratitude-building experience.
The feast was a success. But Rollo still wasn't grateful to eat cereal for breakfast.
As we drove up the California coast, I noticed a sign advertising a view of elephant seals. I pulled right into the parking lot, looked down the way, and saw a couple of heads sticking out of the surf. I haven't seen many seals in the wild, so I was impressed.
Then we followed the crowd up the boardwalk. On the other side of a boulder, we saw a few more.
And even more. Apparently this beach is a favorite flopping place for elephant seals.
Between naps, they cavort to their own vocal accompaniment.
Even though seals are important characters in many of their games, D2 and Rollo were more interested in this squirrel. Somehow rodents beat pinnipeds.
Our final big destination in Southern California was Legoland, realizing Rollo and D2's long-held wishes. The rest of us liked it, too. There are some rides, which I was pleased to see were geared toward active youngsters. There was a driving test, only for those twelve and under. (Scoot was disappointed that the cars didn't go faster.) We pulled ourselves up a tower with ropes. And the dragon roller coaster was, according to D2 (who hated the coaster we rode at Sea World) "awesome!"
What I thought was really awesome was the Lego artwork. From impressively detailed miniatures of familiar landscapes . . .
(this one must be from our neck of the woods)
to large copies of familiar minifigures,
the creativity was amazing. And there was room for everyone to exercise their own creativity.
Scoot built this castle in a little building pavilion,
while D2 and Rollo built this one.
Dandelionslayer and the Caterpillar even found the right pieces
to build a favorite band.
There was also plenty of water, on a day that never really heated up.
We learned the construction secrets of the Pharaohs,
and of star ship building in a galaxy far, far away. So, it was a fun, creative, educational day.
And I can't leave you without a picture of Einstein and the buffaloes.
We've been indulging in a little Russian folk music lately. "Коробейники" ("Korobeiniki" for those of us who don't read Cyrillic) is a lively tune for a tragic tale (isn't that typical of folk music?) of a peddler and a peasant girl meeting in the moonlight in a rye field (sorry for all the parentheses). Isn't it picturesque?
When my peers hear the tune, though, a different picture comes to mind. We see oddly-shaped puzzle pieces coming through the rye at an ever-increasing tempo, and we must fit them together before--oops, game over. Yes, "Коробейники"is more widely known in the West as "Tetris Theme A."
Dandelionslayer thinks this would be a fun tune for beginning percussionists to play on their bells, so he has been researching arrangements and working something up. It's not quite ready yet, so I'll share another version. In honor of the Caterpillar's recent debut in the local marching band, here's the Cal Band playing Tetris: