Tuesday, July 19, 2005

#54 - Harry Potter and the Blood Shot Eyes

Well, we've been largely comatose here at La Casa Woody for the past three days. It's taken us this long to read "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" aloud as our family activity since it arrived on Saturday. This particular activity involves Daddy sitting in a comfortable chair, with two Woodyettes draped over him like mink stoles (albeit heavy minks!), while Mrs. Woody lounges in her favorite easy chair gasping for breath. She's been fighting for a decent breath for nearly a month now, but today it finally got to the point where we had to interrupt our reading and take her to the doctor.

We don't take our HP Read-a-thons lightly in this house.

No spoilers here, by the way. Well, I guess I will note that Harry and his friends have finally become the raging hormone storms that most kids really become around age 12 nowadays. One could argue that Harry's hormones finally kicked in at age 15 in "Order of the Phoenix," but now he seems to have remarkable control of the ol' testosterone until relatively late in the book this time.

Anyway, the Woodyettes have taken a much more active interest in this book. For one thing, they've both been studying via Hogwarts extension courses this past school year. They each have their own Hogwarts robe and hat, a wand, a cauldron (NOT for use on a real fire!), and even share a house elf, whose name is Canby. They've never seen Canby, but I have. I can tell you that he looks remarkably like a grumpy old man with a salt-and-pepper goatee and a perpetually exasperated look on his face, but the kids think he (she?) must be cute. For that matter, so is their owl. The owl is stuffed and residing on our mantle shelf by day, but by night transmogrifies into (surprise!) a grumpy, exasperated, salt-and-pepper-bearded old man.

So, in accordance with the Freedom of Imagination Act under which this house operates, every time Daddy sits down and begins his dramatic readings of any HP book, Jelly immediately dons her Hogwarts attire, grabs her wand, and begins acting out whatever she hears during those moments when she's actually able to force herself to sit still long enough to hear a word or two of the story. Whatever she hears triggers some new playacting, or, alternatively, Q&A time.

Indeed, this particular story brought what I considered to be incredibly insightful questions from my elder 'Ette. The questions she hit me with gave me to understand that she really has been paying careful attention to her own reading, the movies she's seen, and even Mom and Dad's discussions of various plot devices and scenarios.

For her part, the Doodle Woodyette, having mastered the art of reading this past school year, has insisted on either following along with her own copy of the book (Yes. We have two. Deal with it.), or having Daddy track the words with his finger, even though she is perfectly capable of following along without my doing that.

They also love having Daddy do character voices. One of their favorites is Snape, because Daddy really goes out of his way to give him that oily sound that seems to be called for by the character. Alan Rickman is canola oil to my Crisco heavy lard on the ol' oiliness scale. I've been playing weasels since high school. Rickman wasted his time on Shakespeare, I'd like to bet. My Dumbledore is, I confess, mostly patterned after Richard Harris's muffled wheeze. Dumbledore and Hagrid are the toughest on my throat, and unfortunately, Dumbledore figures heavily in this latest installment. My throat currently feels something like sandpaper on glass.

Finally, and fortunately, we have finished the story. I say "fortunately" because the house has been largely neglected during our recreational reading. In fact (and don't I love this during the summer in Orange County!), several swarms of ants have invaded and now have control of critical sectors of my kitchen, including strategic transportation targets consisting of the kitchen floor. Tomorrow I will likely go through my entire can of "Victor's Ant Spray" so our house can have that pleasant minty odor permeate everything from our spice rack to our frozen split pea soup that will take, probably, 15 months to thaw given how cold our freezer is at the moment. Then I get to wash down and scrub every exposed surface of the kitchen so as to convince all 27 million ants that all those pheromones they laid down really are gone, and that there is nothing interesting left in this kitchen; especially that big, beautiful pork roast that we are definitely NOT cooking in our crock pot anytime soon. So there.

In other words, back to business as usual at La Casa Woody.

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