1#2 daughter and I got up at 4:00 this morning so she could get to work on time (in a different state).

She is a music minister, so work on Sunday morning is not shocking or anything, but it does mean an early start.

I hadn’t really been grocery shopping, before yesterday morning, since before Christmas. It seems to me that prices have risen alarmingly. Produce now costs more than meat. $5 a pound for grapes, and they come in a two-pound bag, so I’m standing there staring at the grapes, trying to decide whether I can spend 10% of my weekly grocery budget on grapes or not.

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No, actually, I can’t. We’re going to be back to the days when fruit in winter was such a luxury that it made a good Christmas present.

The checkerboard cake is interesting. You use this special pan insert to make concentric circles in your cake. You make two (or it could be three, even, since the pan set has three pans) layers with opposite circles and stack them on top of one another.

Then you go ahead and frost the cake and decorate it and so forth in the usual way, whatever that is for you.

I have no particular talent for cake decoration.

1I bought sugar flowers and letters at the grocery store. No candles, because birthday candles come in packages of 24, and #2 daughter is now 25. So 25 seems like the age at which you quit putting on candles. I did think, there in the baking aisle, of getting the single candle that said “Over the Hill/ Too Many to Count,” but I decided that #1 daughter wouldn’t think that was funny, even if I did.

So there you are with a cake that looks completely ordinary to the unsuspecting observers. Unless they have all actually seen you do this trick, as was the case yesterday., That meant that everyone was in a great hurry to cut the cake to see whether or not the trick worked.1

And behold! It did work. It does not look quite like the professionally done picture from yesterday, I realize, but it does have a checkerboard.

We all oohed and aahed.

We helped #1 daughter pack up and peppered her with good bits of advice. We used our knowledge of courtroom dramas and John Grisham novels to guess what the D.A. might have her do in Dallas. Carry paper around, that’s what we came up with. File things. #1 daughter modeled outfits for us, and we made suggestions about what the up and coming young attorney’s minion ought to wear while carrying papers around in the big city.

We hope it will be exciting.

My show was out in the hills.

Our area doesn’t look good in winter, we have to admit. It looks much better with fall color or spring blossoms or even in the heat of summer.

1But I did enjoy the drive.  It was quiet and peaceful, qualities that have been in short supply chez fibermom lately. We’ve been much more toward the loud and exciting side of the spectrum.

And on roads like this, I can be pretty confident that I will not suddenly encounter a frightening overpass, so my general nervousness about driving on unfamiliar roads was not too bad.

There are people living in absolute shacks out here, but my hostess had a nice new house and the conversations all centered on dogs and horses. They played country music. The song that stands out in my mind had the refrain, “I want to check you for ticks.”

We had a good time. I came home to cook some more, not that appealing by that time, but people have to eat. After that, however, we had Family Game Night. We played Catchphrase and Word Thief with the football game in the background, and it was fun.

I told the family about the checking for ticks song. #1 son works with a country music fan, and they listen to it while they fix holes in walls and install insulation and stuff. He had a number of other amusing lyrics to offer from the genre. They seem to have gone into a self-parody mode.

I’ve seen #2 daughter off now, and #1 daughter is all packed up and we’ll say goodbye to her before church. And then we’ll shovel out the house. So I guess we got everyone settled, even if plans did gang a bit agley.

When you think about plans ganging agley, of course, you cannot avoid thinking of Eddie Izzard. Here it is, transcribed by someone who didn’t know how to spell “agley.” It is probably not funny just to read, but if you have seen it, this will remind you of how funny it was, and you will be snickering helplessly to yourself.

And he wrote poetry, he wrote a big *%&^ book of poetry, but one of his most famous lines is The Best Laid Plans O’ Mice and Men Aft Gang Aglay,” meaning “The best laid plans of mice and men often go wrong.” And because it’s poetry, people go, (mimes stroking beard) “Oh, I know what you mean there, Robbie, yes… %*&^! plans ganging aglay by a %@-& truckload…” And being a poet, he must have observed humanity, must have said, “Men. Men make plans. These plans go wrong. Go wrong once, twice… often! Often, a number of plans I’ve seen go wrong… Possible idea for a poem…”

            And then he must have turned his attention to the other animal mentioned in that line of poetry. If you think back to it, “The best laid plans of mice and men…” Exactly which mice plans was he really honing in on here? The best laid ones go aglay, some of the worse laid ones are okay? Some of them get through? He was !#$% off his trolley! “See, mice also make plans, unbeknownst to most people. They plan to get cheese! They run, they scamper… Oh, one’s fallen over! No cheese today… Oh, plan two: they’ve got three, another one’s got a stick, he’s gonna put the stick into the mousetrap… No, he’s broken the stick! What a jessie! Plan three – Oh, they’ve got a flip chart now! Very serious… there’s a lot of mice surrounding the meeting, and they’re having a discussion… Oh, good plan this, probably! Their best laid plan, I believe…