Archive for the ‘Mirthday Sillybrations’ Category


It’s Mirthday Sillybration Day! Remember The Wisdom Of Beaver Cleaver’s Father, Ward, Who Said, “You’re Never Too Old To Do Goofy Stuff!”

April 16, 2011

Find something to laugh about. • Maya Angelou

I have long believed that this country needs a day to celebrate joy, silliness, delight, happiness, laughter, and other associated positivities. I am not a Pollyanna since I am prone to my own discouragements, but I do believe that it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the negative. Thus I declare that April 16 (guess why!) is Mirthday Sillybration Day.

On with the dance, let joy be unconfined is my motto, whether there’s any dance to dance or any joy to be unconfined. • Mark Twain

Clearly, a Mirthday Sillybration requires no cards to purchase or gifts or decorations or special foods. There is no associated stress and zero expectations. You don’t have to invite company over unless it makes you happy and you don’t feel you need to clean up the house first and/or fix a fancy meal (unless, of course, these are things you enjoy). There’s nothing you have to do except take an hour or two or more to relax or have a good time or reconnect with someone or do something that brings you delight. In the spirit of non-stressful Sillybrating, you can even postpone it if it’s not convenient today and you truly must keep your nose firmly attached to a grindstone.

We should all do what in the long run gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry. • E.B. White

If you’re wondering about what you might do, here’s some advice from that master of silliness, Shel Silverstein:

Draw a crazy picture

Write a nutty poem

Sing a mumble-gumble song

Whistle through your comb.

Do a loony-goony dance ‘cross the kitchen floor

Put something silly in the world

That ain’t been there before.

Some time ago, I wrote the following from the Berkeley Health Letter in my journal: “One of the keys to reducing stress isn’t just removing negative experiences from your life, but adding positive ones.” I hope you’ll add something positive to your life today!

Mix a little foolishness with your serious plans; it is lovely to be silly at the right moment. • Horace

Have some fun today! Sillybrate a Mirthday.

Cultivate more joy by arranging your life so that more joy will be likely. * George Witkin




Little Surprises Around Every Corner, But Nothing Dangerous!*

July 4, 2010

A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men. • Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

The fourth of July is one of my least favorite holidays, not because I’m not patriotic, but because I don’t like fireworks unless they’re being set off safely by some professional who knows what s/he is doing, preferably at Disneyland, where I can enjoy them from a distance while waiting in line to ride on the Matterhorn or It’s a Small World or something else where I’m outside and can see the sky. You already know how I feel about parades.

I don’t enjoy hearing fireworks explode near our house. I am reminded of the neighbors we once had whose sons were old enough to know better but still liked to put pieces of some sort of high explosive under manhole covers and blow them up. It was stupid and dangerous and their father thought it was hilarious. Those of us who lived close by were less entranced.

If you want to light the fuse on Dragon Dazzlers, Pop-Em-Off Whiz Bangers, Whippety Snap Surprises, and other fanciful sparkly stuff, do it somewhere else. Endanger your own property. Not mine. Not your neighbors’. Having fun that causes someone else anxiety seems to skew the whole equation of delight.

Alas, it is easy to rant, isn’t it? I meant for this post to be a reminder that you can Sillybrate a Mirthday in many ways and to share with you how to make an “Ire Cracker,” a RecycleLit idea from Dr. Z’s House of Fun. And so I shall.

“Ire Crackers” were born when I was trying to decide how to use a big box of empty toilet paper rolls delivered to my classroom.** My first idea was to use them for Toilet Paper Roles, a classroom version of literary/pop culture charades in which the roles were hidden in the rolls (lame wordplay never fails to amuse me as you’ve probably noticed). We stapled one end shut and used a binder clip to close the other end until it was drawn from a big basket. A version of this activity allows the use of toilet paper to create accessories and props. You can recycle this paper to make toilet paper modeling clay.

“Ire Crackers” was a stress relief idea we thought up while we were trying to figure out a clever delivery method for our anonymous messages of good cheer to faculty and staff, family and friends, and utter strangers. I’ve always loved Christmas crackers and it was just a small step from sharing some of these traditional celebratory treats I’d picked up cheap at a ninety percent off after-holiday sale (since seen in Harry Potter) to making our own. It was student who said they reminded him of fire crackers and a short mindtrip from there to “ire.”

How to make them? Stuff the toilet paper tube with good cheer. Jokes and silliness and inspiring quotations and little gifts. I like to use small bottles of blowable bubbles, balloons, bubble gum, and other things that “blow up,” in keeping with the firecracker idea. A bit of tissue paper wadded and stuffed in each end of the tube keeps the treasures inside.

Wrap the tubes in tissue paper, using a piece large enough to gather and tie on each end. Tie off the ends with ribbon or string. Decorate the crackers, writing a message on the outside. One of my favorites is this quotation from Nikita Khrushchev who reportedly said, after he was replaced as Soviet premier, “Life is short; live it up!”

What’s your favorite holiday and how do you celebrate it?

Live and work, but do not forget to play, to have fun in life and really enjoy it. • Eileen Caddy

* Quotation courtesy of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

** Why the box? I always recommend that teachers provide opportunities for folks at home to contribute to the life of the classroom. I created a wish list that included things that don’t cost any money along with the other stuff like smelly markers and crayons and paper and feathers and sticky-backed googly eyes—all the things that a teacher often has to purchase with her or his own money so that there’ll be a variety of creative materials to inspire students. The box of tp rolls was a particularly generous contribution that lasted us for several years!


When Someone Asks If You’d Like Cake or Pie, Why Not Say You Want Cake and Pie?*

April 28, 2010

I am not a strict vegan, because I’m a hedonist pig. If I see a big chocolate cake that is made with eggs, I’ll have it.
• Grace Slick

I love cake. Cake with buttercreamy frosting. Lots of buttercreamy frosting. Cake soaked with rum. Cake with mocha frosting. Cake smeared with raspberry jam between the layers. Cake with lots of buttercreamy frosting. Cake with chocolate ganache. Cake with nuts. Carrot cake. Spice cake. White and yellow cake. Chocolate cake. All of it slathered with buttercreamy frosting. Please don’t forget the frosting and please don’t be stingy with it.

Fortunately, I don’t bake anymore, so temptation does not surround me. I won’t be running to the kitchen to whip something up. Cake must be purchased. This is more difficult than it sounds. All cake is not good cake. Some cake is bad. Some cake is mediocre. Some cake isn’t worth eating. Famous brands of cupcakes and spongecake fingers filled with cream do not tempt me. Little Miss Anybody’s varikinded cakey treats are not for me. Even some fancy-dancy bakeries make stuff I don’t want in my mouth.

I am a picky cake eater. Cake eater is not a flattering term, harkening back to the apocryphal story about Marie Antoinette. Look it up. She probably never said, “Let them eat cake,” but the real story seems open to multiple speculations. Cake eaters are ritzy, rich people; fat-behinded folks who eat donuts for breakfast; inconsiderate slobs who snag all the goodies for themselves.

This is not me, although you should protect your flanks if you cut yourself a bigger slice and most especially if you take the big pink frosting rose without offering it to moi first. I will not be happy. Nor will I be charmed if you are cutting a sheet cake and give me an inside piece. I want the outside, preferably a corner. It’s the frosting, you know.

Satisfying a cake hankering isn’t easy. Whipped cream is not buttercream frosting. Pudding is not a substitute for frosting. If that’s what you’re serving, count me out. And if you’re planning to offer me a piece enshrouded in that shiny stuff that looks kind of like marshmallow fluff, but tastes like something made by amateur chemists in an underground laboratory, don’t bother.**

If I’m going to have cakey calories, I want the real stuff, moist, tasty, scrumptious, and generously topped, middled, and sided with you-know-what. The perfect cake? Yellow or white with layers alternately drizzled with rum and spread with raspberry jam before being topped with mocha buttercream. Thick mbc on the sides and top and sliced almonds on the sides. Adding some chocolate ganache on the top will increase my delight. What would I be celebrating as I eat this concoction? Cake, of course! Happy “Let Us Eat Cake Day.” That’s a Mirthday Sillybration I’d like to observe. How about you?

If you could have any kind of celebratory cake you want (end-of-term, passed-the-test, finished-the-paper, graduated!!), what would you celebrate and what kind of cake would you design?

All the world is birthday cake, so take a slice, but not too much.
• George Harrison

* Lisa Loeb provided the incredibly sensible title quotation. And yes, I do like pie. Homemade apple pie (no canned apples, please), cherry pie, blackberry pie, lemon meringue pie, chocolate cream pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and more. But if I had to choose, let me eat cake.

•• And, Dear Heloise, I often love your advice, but putting marshmallows on a hot cake after removing it from the oven is NOT frosting it. Seriously. What are you thinking?

P.S. Please don’t turn my “Let Us Eat Cake Day” into a celebration of healthy alternatives to delectable gateaus made with real butter, eggs, vanilla, and sugar. That is not what I intend. I’d rather have a salad, thank you very much, and forget about the faux cake imposters. I’m not advocating that everyone eat cake every day. I’m just saying that the real thing is pretty tasty and that every once in a while, there’s good old-fashioned tastiness that could be–nay, should be–sampled, just to keep your tastebuds reminded of once-upon-a-time.

P.P.S. Ice cream cake is not cake. It’s good, but it’s not the kind of cake I want, although I do miss ice cream cake roll (vanilla ice cream rolled up in chocolate cake), best served topped with hot fudge and whipped cream.