Shot off some fireworks on New Year's Eve.
There's a little balcony outside the boys' room. We don't use it for much except to hang the satellite dish. It's only one story up, but I know my boys. If it wasn't strictly forbidden, sooner or later someone would be trying to rappel off it.
But for this special night, we wrapped them up in coats and jackets and they got to stand and watch while I set off rockets and Roman candles and cherry bombs in the back yard below them. The entire array cost 9 euros at the local supermarket and lasted almost half an hour.
Two high points. One, I couldn't figure out what the Roman candles were. (Don't think I'd ever seen one up close.) So, I decided they must be horizontally launched rockets. This was, in retrospect, pretty dumb, but I was short on sleep and shooting off fireworks for the first time in, I can't even think. Twenty years? More. So I set up a launch ramp. Which happened to be pointing straight back across the porch through the open door...
No, no harm done. Roman candles, it turns out, produce a lot of light and sparks but the "exhaust" is not very hot and goes out quickly. That said, it was sort of alarming to have a fireball, even a very small one, go WHOOSH across the porch and straight into our living room.
The other good one was the rocket that got stuck in the snow. These are medium-sized rockets, maybe 40 cm long plus another 50 cm of wooden stick. For most of the show I just stuck the wooden sticks in the snow, pointing them at various patches of open sky. (We have a lot of trees in our yard.) Well, with one of them I stuck it a little too hard. It ignited, but burned in place on the ground.
There were two kinds of rockets. One went up maybe 50 or 60 meters, exploded gently -- more pop than bank -- but produced a gorgeous shower of multicolored sparks. The other one went only about half as high, and didn't produce nearly as nice a light show, but exploded with a big, impressive bang. The stuck rocket was one of the second kind.
When lighting the rockets, I had been making an elaborate show of caution: meticulously aiming them, lighting the fuses at arms length, then ostentatiously taking a few quick steps back. This time it was no show: I jumped a good ten feet back, fast. The rocket burned on the ground for a count of three, melting some snow, and then -- BANG. Shrill cheers and applause from the balcony: yeah, Daddy! That was a good one!
They went to bed very happy. They're still too small to wake up at midnight, never mind stay up for it. Maybe next year.
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In other news, we got a cord of wood delivered this morning. Claudia's mother, brother, and brother's girlfriend came over and helped us move it from driveway to neat stacks along various sides of the house. A cord is rather a lot of wood, so we shouldn't have to worry about firewood for the rest of this winter.
Afterwards we went inside and had chili, which was not a great success, because I made it too hot.
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Finished telling the boys Moby Dick. This was of course an oral Daddy Version but it actually wasn't too different from the novel. Not that much actually happens for most of Moby Dick, so you can tell it over the course of an evening or two.
The ending, I could tell, surprised them. (Though Alan had correctly spotted the foreshadowing when I told him that the narrator was Ishmael, an ordinary sailor who wrote a book. Because if someone else ends up telling the story, that must mean Ahab dies, right?) There were some wide eyes at the climax. I borrowed the bit from the Gregory Peck movie where dead Fedallah, bound to the whale by harpoon lines, has one arm loose that flops as if beckoning them onwards, and that was perhaps a bit much... After I was done, David asked a little nervously if Moby Dick was still alive. I said that story was a long time ago and anyway we were far from the ocean, no whales around here -- no, Daddy, I want to know if Moby Dick is still alive. Probably not, okay? Whales live a long time but not that long. Well... okay.
Also Alan wanted to know if the guy who made the prophecy that only hemp could kill Ahab could really tell the future? Well... maybe it was just a lucky guess?
Bedtimes can be interesting. Except when they're not, because they're still having a lot of trouble cleaning the room, and the room is supposed to be clean or no story. The room gets very messy during the day, and they really can't clean it unless I stand over them and tell them what to do, which I find really tiresome. But that's a post for another time.