Hulk & Bulk Triumph Over Laurel & Hardy

After the Hulk and Bulk pair made a splashing entry into the home and restored things with minimum talk, we have been contemplating the things we can have them do. The house is in a state that would have DIY bloggers positively skipping and dancing. I keep thinking of my DIY blogger friend, from What’s Ur Home Story fame as I toddle about the house shaking my head morosely at finding another thing that needs fixing. We tried a bit of doing it ourselves, and with able help, managed to make over one closet reasonably well, but there was no denying the fact that what I wanted would have taken up a lot of my little one’s time.

Closet makeover with able help
Closet makeover with able help

So, we went after Messrs Hulk and Bulk again.

I wonder how many of you remember watching Laurel & Hardy while growing up. As for me, there are memories to fill three blogs just surrounding Laurel & Hardy. How we would loll about the house scratching our heads like them and talking like them? We would make a muddle of things and blame it on their influence and get away with it. I thought I’d have grown out of this mode of entertainment when I showed the daughter some Laurel & Hardy episodes a few years back, but I was mistaken. I cackled and guffawed louder than her.

The house I live in, has given me plenty of joy. Of course, it has its quirks that make it my home. Every time I walk into the master bedroom for instance, it never fails to remind me of the house that Laurel & Hardy built.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xlmghh41yWA

Thankfully, the rest of the house is not like this, but I suppose the builder ran out of time with the master bedroom and sent out a couple of folks he could not trust with a hammer in his vicinity.  He told  them to finish up ‘that last room in that last house’. The pair of them have made bloomers all over the room.

For instance, the Hot & Cold in the bath-tub is switched. It provided for some very entertaining showers the first couple of times before we figured out what had happened. The most interesting bloomer is the walk-in closet the husband chose for himself. He likes to assume an airy air while walking into my closet. He then spreads his arms wide, even if he bangs his knuckles on my closet walls, for added effect. A few seconds later, he goes for the final touch and shows folks his closet. I concede his closet is smaller than mine, about half the size (Or one-quarter the size? The husband’s voice in my head asks), but it had one of the builder’s unique touches on it too. You see, if the builder had the sense to put the door opening outward instead of inward, his closet could have been walked into and used like a walk-in closet. But he didn’t. He made the door open inward. In an already congested space, it meant the door could not open fully and was stuck halfway. Because of this, we had access to only half the quarter closet. We did our best with it. I had offered him space in my own closet for many years now,  but the husband limped along knowing that he could revel in the looks of pity visitors bestowed on him while visiting the home.

The hulk and bulk pair rectified this state of affairs over the course of nibbling into a snack pack of chips. That is all the time it took them to switch out the door. Suddenly, the room opened out to us and left us both feeling like fools. Why had we not thought of this before? 

Well, now we know.

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Thank You Mr Hulk and Mr Bulk

The doorbell rang and I opened it to welcome Mr. Hulk and Mr. Bulk into the house. Let me rewind a little: this feels like trying to bite a carrot in the middle portion. It is easier to start working off one end or the other, but the middle of the carrot leaves very little to play with.

The husband was seen pottering about the home with a book in his hand. He has also been extolling the many virtues of getting work done, and how prompt action has saved many a day. Imagine, the number of things that can be done if we set aside a few minutes everyday? As he says these things, there is a light around his head that emits a faint glow.

A bit of a jar coming from someone whose home has reached a state of disrepair that needs Mr Hulk and Mr Bulk to come into the home to get it running up if you ask me. Yet, he seemed so happy to be in his book, that I did not have the heart to dampen it just then. Sometimes, keeping quiet is harder to do than saying what you think. You see, while he was illuminating my life with his snippets of knowledge, I had taken an old sheet, torn it in half and was spreading it about the sink area. I then went on to take a cup and clasped it around the exhaust pipe in the sink. I also took an old towel that is extremely water absorbent and placed it on the floor near the dishwasher, should water leak on the floor by mistake. To answer your question, I was not plumbing a new connection or taking care of exhaustive water leakages, I was just getting my attention-seeking-dishwasher started. It had become part of the daily routine.

We usually rely on one person, who does a reasonably good job with our household projects.  Of late though, he has been telling us that his services are required in Lake Tahoe, Seattle and Washington DC and that if he does not take care of a trap door in the White House, it might become an issue of national security: so busy! Therefore our dishwasher has been limping along spewing all of its water on to my kitchen sink and the floor nearby for months. One or two of the others we called said their minds were meant for larger and greater things than mere dishwashers. It looked like everyone had washed their hands off our dishwasher.

That was not all. We had to postpone baking during the Thanksgiving season because the oven put on its Santa’s whiskers and sat down like an old man. The oven light would flicker, cough and then die. The sounds from it were not alarming, but they were not soothing to the soul either. Of course, we ignored it and went about bypassing the oven, till one day it beeped like a noisy toy with a motion sensor in a Bazaar. BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP. I promptly did what I know best and googled for the remedy. I was glad to see that the remedy was one we had tried before with intermediate success with our television (Namely, beat it hard to silence it. That will take care of loose connections.) All the strong men and women were called upon to wield their hands on it and we had silenced the thing, but it was so angry with our crass treatment of it, it refused to start up again. The reset buttons, fuse boxes, nothing worked. Fussy people and things rarely receive much attention and so, it remained till a friend of ours started a cookie business. It might have gone on in this state had she sold cookies, but she sold cookie dough. So, every week-end, we would wistfully sigh about what baking might have been had the oven worked. I was not afforded the luxury on brooding on it for long, since the dish washer would give me an angry snort and gorge out a bucket of water spraying the sink with it and I would leave to deal with that.

“One must never put off things that can be taken care of today.” said the husband meaning well as usual. There was no restraining me at this point and I marched up to see the drivel he was reading to enlighten me and saw it was a book called ‘Solving The Procrastination Puzzle’. I gave him a look that mixed incredulity, sarcasm and why-don’t-you-practice-what-it-says all at once. Of course, it was completely lost on him. So, I asked him why we could not exert our energies into finding another handyman, and the husband said that made sense and found the hulk-and-bulk pair.

procrastination

That is the story of how Mr Hulk and Mr Bulk came to our doorstep the other day. The men, heaved themselves in and asked after general health. I started to tell them about the corn in my foot, when I realized that by health, they meant the health of the dishwashers and ovens. I don’t know what they understood because I mixed a bit of Tamil into places I could not get them to understand in English and they seemed to get that. Maybe, a study on the similarities between Spanish and Tamil is in order.

Once they ascertained all the things that needed fixing, they went about their tasks. The pair of them looked into the sink pretty deeply, talked among themselves, and did a bit of pipe doctoring. In a few minutes, they started the dishwasher and voila! The water was not spilling on to the kitchen counter anymore. I was amazed at them and showed them to the oven.

I swear I do not lie when I say this: but all they did was go to the fuse box, switch off and switch on the thing again, gave it a mild thump and the oven greeted them happily and hummed back to work.

There is no saying how grateful I am to having things back to normal. If you will excuse me now, I might go and bake a fresh batch of cookies in my oven after giving it an affectionate pat and give my dishwasher an indulgent smile when I load up the dirty dishes.

Festivals In The Jungle

I wrote a series of Children’s Stories that revolve around festivals and the unique way in which we build our traditions and memories around them. The series explores how animals celebrate different festivals in the jungle. 

The Illustrators who did a fantastic job: Saptarshi & Georgiana from Fi2Designs
The narrator is the daughter (she is still choosing her pen-name or voice-name)

The book is available in the iBook store:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/christmas-in-the-jungle/id780959029?mt=11&uo=4

Image

 

Please like the page for the series: https://www.facebook.com/kidsjunglestories

I am gearing up for the next book in the series: St. Patricks Day In The Jungle, and am looking forward to releasing it.

Where is Mrs Lis?

The day was yesterday. I was all set to publish a piece of Fiction  that my daughter had written up for her school homework. I found the narrative style amusing and wanted to boast a bit about it on the blog. Of course, before doing anything and after doing something, one must waste one’s time wandering up and down one’s Facebook feed. One must not mess with the process, so I grazed lazily over my feed.

It was then that I read a post doing the rounds on my Facebook feed about how we chip at children’s self confidence one Facebook post at a time. Apparently, we find the fact that they can’t pronounce something right when they are 3 hilarious . We then go ahead and Facebook it for posterity. But when the 3 year olds go back and read it when they are 23, they might not like it.

I don’t know where they are going with this, because I remember the first thing my uncle told the husband (my then fiancé) when he met him was that I was a lovable child. Having caught the strapping young son-in-law’s attention, he went on to regale an entertaining tale of me at the tender age of one. The uncle giggled and laughed through the tale and thoroughly enjoyed the telling of it. I saw the husband flinch (The tale had a Eww factor as most tales of one-year olds do.), but he still gallantly married me.  The fact is that my uncle did not have Facebook or even access to a computer then: he just remembered. Facebook or not, embarrassing stuff from your childhood has a way of living on, often with elements of creative exaggeration added in.

Yet, this seemed like an educational opportunity. I broached the topic with the daughter and asked her what she thought of things I write in my blog. She looked at me seriously and said, “I don’t mind, since it really is funny stuff amma. I only mind when it is something informational.” She was careful enough to enclose “informational” in double quotes. With that, she went back to reading Harry Potter, while I was left pondering on the “informational” content in my blog. To be sure, there is hardly anything informational about it, is there? Or maybe, I should try to be more informational, but for that I need to be more informed… By this time, I realized I had already analyzed this thing past its prime time, and I found my daughter had buried her nose in her Harry Potter tome once more and was not to be disturbed. After a while, she looked up and said, “By the way Mrs. Lis** came back to class today, and she read our fiction pieces. She said she liked mine. ”

Her class teacher, Mrs Lis, was out for a few days and they had a substitute teacher who asked them to write a piece of fiction on where Mrs Lis had gone. That is what I had wanted to put up on the blog, when I was side-tracked. So, here it is:

Where is Mrs Lis?

Mrs.Lis is gone. Aaaaaahhh! Where is she? Is she on the other planet? Is she on the moon? Is it a family emergency? What if an alien ate her? Is she on vacation?

I’m pretty sure she is on vacation. There’s another problem. Where did she go for a vacation? Did she go to India or Hawaii? Don’t forget Disneyland and Russia. What about Scotland, London or China? I think she’s most probably in Hawaii since its relaxing. Just what she needs after teaching us.

Hold on. I just thought of something .What is she doing? Is she lying down on the beach with a drink in her hand? Is she snorkeling or splashing in the waves? I got it. She’s doing all of that. I know where Mrs Lis is.

I asked her what the most popular theme was for guessing Mrs Lis’s whereabouts. Apparently, a good percentage of them thought she had been abducted by aliens. I am not sure Mrs Lis would like to read her welcome back packet, if half of them thought she was off trooping with aliens.

Aliens

** Not her real name

Buckle Bo & The Mystical Orb

One day, I saw the daughter hard at work writing an entry for the Young Authors Contest in her school.  Usually, when she thinks of a story, unicorns, horses and ponies, leap across continents and worlds to establish their roles in them.  If there is a human element involved, that person would have just moved to the countryside and gotten a horse as a gift. The horse could then become a unicorn and shall reveal itself under special circumstances or continue along life as a special horse with powers almost magical to behold. I glanced at the story, and surprise of surprises: there was a unicorn, a mother unicorn and seven sibling unicorns. I was a little tired of this arc, so I asked her to try something else for a change. A dash of encouragement, and some coaxing later, she agreed to try. The tale that emerged this time, I was thrilled to see,  was one where the protagonist was a duck battling an evil raven, and not only that, the duck had a noble purpose: to save all plant life. So good so far.

(Note to self: I should have taken a picture of the book title at least, but I forgot. I could have pasted it here *facepalm*)

I was mildly proud of myself. I had truly inspired her enough to try different stories. I swelled at the thought and every time I saw her working on the story, or drawing a picture for it, I would smile a little. There is something else that I should probably mention here. Recently, I spent an afternoon in her class reading out one of my stories to them, discussing the elements of writing and such. It was a golden afternoon in my mind. I had the time of my life discussing moral dilemmas, morals, plot devices and narrative styles with them. Children can be precocious and highly engaging when they want to be. In that class, it was hard to think that these children are the same ones who will double up and laugh at fart jokes. The discussions were so animated, intelligent, and lively. It was like floating in a hot air balloon above some fuzzy, golden clouds on a full stomach.

Floating in a Hot Air Balloon
Floating in a Hot Air Balloon

Obviously, when I met her friends at School later, I asked them whether they were going to write as well. Some eagerly nodded, while others skulked off. Her friends, who did try,  told me their titles. I don’t know about the stories, but the story titles made you want to snatch a chair and settle down to read: The Adventures on Mount Whirldoom, The Mystery of the Missing Phantom, Buckle Bo and the Mystical Orb (that was the daughter’s title). Very fancy, I tell you. Very fancy.

One of them hinted that she picked up some tips from my discussion in their class the other day while writing her story. I was so happy to hear that, I beamed. Clearly fishing for more compliments, I asked them why they wanted to write: did they think it will be fun to construct a plot?

Now, I don’t know what devices hot air balloon makers use to deflate their devices, but I needed none of that. Their answers were enough.

‘Oh! That. No. Usually, there is a pizza party for participants.” said a Jane Austen.

“Hey, don’t forget we also get ice-cream.” a Mark Twain piped up.

“And brownies.” said an Enid Blyton.

My hot air balloon crash landed on the lawns nearby, and I fumbled out.

Buckle Bo & The Mystical Orb, if you please!

New Year Resolutions

I think New Year Resolutions are over-rated. Take mine for instance. I had two:

The first one was: no strong tea or coffee. This rash one came to me at 4:35 a.m. on 1st Jan 2014, when I was struggling to fall asleep. What happened was this: I was enjoying a perfectly lovely New Years Eve party and eating steadily through the evening. Of course, I got carried away after all that food and excellent conversation during the party and reached out for a strong cup of tea at about 10:30 p.m., forgetting that I was not a teenager anymore. I could not safely drink tea just before hitting the sack and snore like a tiger.

Ahh tea!
Ahh tea!

I had my mind buzzing with things irrelevant, fantastical, impractical and downright nonsensical till sleep finally allowed me into the crowded room at 7 a.m. the next day for a couple of hours.

So, I said rashly that I would not drink strong tea or coffee.

Tea2

My “resolution” was sorely tested in less than 10 hours. The next day, after a lunch with our friends, I found myself yawning widely and had to amend the damn thing right away. I said that I will not have strong tea or coffee after 6 p.m. That sounded more reasonable didn’t it?

It was around 6 p.m. that evening when I had to go in for the second amendment. You see, all that lack of sleep meant that I was walking into people, or walls. So, the husband and I went in to a coffee store for a spot of coffee. I was true to myself and chose something that had a low level of caffeine in it. The husband scoffed and went in for his grande, double shot , extra hot or whatever he goes for usually. Everything was fine till my coffee came. Mine tasted like muck – it was watery and smelled every bit like strong coffee. I pushed the thing away and laid my head down on the coffee table and emitted a mild snore. The husband threw his mind around to the problem of getting me out of the store and into the car. He may joke about being the hero, but when it comes to carrying his heroine to cars, he draws a firm line. So, he gallantly switched his coffee with mine. I drank about half of his before I gave up that too. It was simply too strong. But the damage had been done.

I was up till 3 a.m. with my thoughts for company. It was then, that the second one came to me: Maybe I should meditate everyday. Meditation will help me relax and put myself in a calm state of mind. I reached for my phone to jot down the profundity of the moment. Then, facebook-ed for a while, checked emails for a further while, switched on the light, read and fell asleep again.

My thoughts during this activity period also managed to convince me that the tea/coffee thing was not exactly a resolution, since it was a wild thought that came to me when I was most anti-caffeine. Therefore, I have knocked it off my list.

I am now having fun with the Meditation one. I have a blog coming up soon on its progress.

Resolutions or no, may your days be filled with love, laughter and life! Happy 2014 to everyone.

I fancy a cup of tea now. So, I shall take leave.