Family Pranking: Fun New Resolution for 2018?

Meet Ali the Gator:

“Could someone lick me clean, please?

Oh, why’s he covered in whipped cream and jam? Therein lies a tale. Allow me.

Ali joined our family a couple of years ago when the Mate was out doing yardwork. Spotting a lizard near the compost bin, he decided to catch it, in honor of Wing Son One, who does such things. So he stalked it, for several minutes, before realizing…

a) it was plastic

b) it was an alligator, not a common lizard,

c) it was missing two of its feet (likely a lawn-mower accident)

So he brought it inside. Of course I decided to place it under Son One’s pillow the next time he visited. (Gratifying yell of surprise.) Ali then showed up successively in…

a) the soap dish in the shower

b) my tin of Earl Grey

c) the Mate’s tin of coffee beans

d) my hiking boot

The hiking boot prank was especially good, because I was putting on that boot at the visitor center of Haleakala on Maui, last winter. So I sent Son One this photo of “Ali in Paradise”:

Later, he took a hula class and attended a luau.

From Maui we continued our Epic Journey to New Zealand, so there I took another photo of “Ali with Kiwi Mate”:

“Hey, it’s OK–I can’t fly either, mate.”

This past summer, both sons + Mate gathered in Vermont for a construction blitz on our cousins’ “new” old house. Ali flew there in a care package of cookies, to make a legendary appearance inside an ear of corn the Mate was shucking. (Sadly, no picture of that.)

Don’t know how Ali made it back to the Wet Coast, but he reappeared this past month, folded inside the ferry commuter ticket in our glove box. I decided Ali must have a special Christmas. So I stuffed him inside the yule log cake (Buche de Noel) I was creating.

In you go, lil’ guy!

Don’t eat too much whipped cream in there!

Of course I made sure that one of our sons got the “special” piece of cake. (Son One got the honor.)

Alligator? What alligator? Have a slice of Yule Log! Merry Christmas!

We actually borrowed this idea of family pranking from our Vermont cousins. They did the same thing with an evil-looking doll they called “Malice.” The idea of finding a creepy doll inside, say, one’s freezer, veers too close to heart-attack-land for my taste.

But a cute little alligator? All he does is make us laugh, and think of how much we enoy each other. 

Anyone else out there have an ongoing family prank to share? Anyone want to start 2018 with a new tradition? Be sure to take pictures!

Seasons of Work: Celebrating the Cyclical Job

My bakery closes this weekend for four months, and I’m trying not to feel sad. 

It might have been easier to make the transition if I had been there for the final, post-Thanksgiving weekend, to sell holiday cookies and Stollen, to say “see you next spring!” to loyal customers, to share hugs with my colleagues and with Holly, a.k.a. World’s Nicest Boss. (“Can I make some eggs for anybody? Who wants goat cheese on their eggs? How about an avocado?”) But I was travelling this weekend, so I missed it. When I left home, we were open. When I return: just a dark, cold, empty kitchen behind a dark, cold, empty counter.

Oh, April...why are you so far from now?

Oh, April…why are you so far from now?

I think it’s great. I love seasonal work. Maybe it’s because I love seasons, having grown up on the east coast. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent the bulk of my adult career in that most seasonal, cyclical of jobs: teaching.

Despite the tone of this post, I do not spend off-season pining for my giant rolling pin. No, here’s what off-season means to me:

–writing in my barn (in my sleeping bag, with a hat on, by my space heater)

–making lots of soup and roasted root veggies

–connecting with far-flung family and friends (whether Wing Sons One and Two coming home, or us taking our giant cross-country road trip to NC)

–grooving on how early the darkness falls, up where we live at Latitude 46-something

–grooving even more on when that darkness begins to creep incrementally backward, sometime in January

–Tarheel basketball!!!

–writing new songs, singing with friends (just singing–NOT rehearsing!)

–compensating for missing my giant rolling pin by wielding my own little one a gracious plenty for potlucks

–thinking about what the new season will bring when it arrives once more: flowers! Visitors! New recipes to bake! Another concert? More book promos? Bring it all on!

But for now…let’s just make popcorn and watch the game, shall we?

Do people in Hawaii miss having seasons? Do people with year-round work miss that sense of a fresh start? Is that need for a  “fresh start” feeling universal, or simply privileged? Do people find cycles in their job even without seasons? 

These are questions I wonder about. Do you have any answers for me? What do your “on” and “off” seasons mean to you?