Monday, February 27, 2023

Cannoli, Monkeys, and Arma-darn-dillos

Andrew made cannoli last night. He fried them in coconut oil, but in order to access the coconut oil he needed to open a new container. Miriam brought it up from the basement but couldn't open it. I couldn't open. So Andrew sighed, washed his hands off (they were covered in dough), and then tried to open the container. He couldn't. 

I held the container while he twisted the action.

Finally, I sat on the floor and gripped the container with my feet and hands while Andrew twisted with all of his might and...we were in!


After dinner when we were talking about all the work we went through to open that container of coconut oil—a story we had to share with Rachel, who is our resident jar-opener—Andrew said, "But, you know, it just makes sense that it would take us six limbs to open a jar of coconut oil because coconuts come from tropical places like jungles and monkeys live in jungles."

We all stared at Andrew waiting for him to continue this thought. 

He did not continue.

Instead he stared at the rest of us staring at him while he waited for us to "get" it.

We did not get anything.

Finally I said, "What do monkeys have to do with this?"

"Well, because they have six limbs."

" you think monkeys have six limbs?"

"Don't they?"

"They do not. They have four."

"Are you sure?"

"They're not insects, Dad!" Rachel nearly screamed.

Honestly, he should know better than any of us! He's the only one amongst us to have touched (and been touched by) a monkey!

"Only four?" 

"Two arms, two legs," I told him. 

"Really?" he asked. "It always seemed like more."

"Maybe it's the tail that's getting you."

"The tail!" Andrew said. "That's what it is!"

"But the tail is not a limb, technically," I told him. "So still only four limbs. In fact, now that I think about it I'm pretty sure all mammals have four limbs. I've never really thought about it before but...yeah...four, four, four, four...any mammal I can think of has four limbs."*

"What about armadillos?" Andrew asked.

"What about armadillos?" I repeated, intrigued as ever.

"They have more than four legs," he said confidently.

"They do not..." Rachel began screeching again, but I held up my hand to silence her.

"Hold on, hold on, hold," I said. "How many legs do you think armadillos have?"

"Until this precise moment I was pretty sure it was more than four."

"But, many? If you had to put a number on it..."

"A bunch of them!" he said. "Probably at least six! Who even knows how many legs they can hide under their creepy little shells?"

"Well, me. I know. And they just have four."

"No!" Andrew gasped. "But they're related to pill bugs!"

"They...are not related to pill bugs."

"They're not? But they roll up into little balls..."

"Okay, know..a bug, and the other mammal."

"But they're so similar! And isn't the scientific name for pill bugs armadill...something?"

(It's Armadillidiidae).

"Sure. But, that doesn't actually mean they're related. They're not. Again: one is a bug and one is a mammal, so...rather different."

We had to pull up a picture of an armadillo to prove to him that they only have four legs. And then we spent the rest of the evening talking about weird creatures...which eventually led to me pulling up a picture of a porcupine ear to show everyone because porcupines have very human-looking ears.

I discovered this on our last trip to the Hogle Zoo.

It's a little unnerving, really, because I always imagined cute, pointy a hedgehog...but no. They're just a prickly little dudes with human ears walking around in the woods. 

For some reason it is fine for chimpanzees (and other monkeys and apes) to have human ears...but somehow my mind has drawn a line about which creatures are allow to have human-looking ears and the porcupine is on the not allowed side. So it kind of creeps me out.

During our discussion, Alexander popped onto our Discord server and found a message from Auntie K, wishing him a good morning and a good night (since she'd missed his earlier message wishing her a good morning). 

"Bats are still awake," he wrote to her. "Owls are still awake."

Then he was trying to think about what else might be nocturnal—porcupines are!

"Porky pine's are still awake. Aaaaaaaaaa! Porky pine's have hyouman ears!" he wrote to her.

 (It's possible Alexander is the most hilarious texter of all time).

I had to hop onto my family group chat to share a picture of a porcupine ear to explain Alexander's text to Auntie K. My family did not exactly appreciate that information.

Anyway, we headed out for a little evening stroll, to drop off some extra cannoli to some neighbours (because cannoli doesn't really keep as leftovers). Rachel and Miriam ran a plate over to one house and stayed around chatting by the door for a minute before jogging to rejoin our little parade. 

"Did you make the delivery?" Andrew asked.

"Yup," the girls said. 

"Did they say thank you?" Andrew asked.

"Yup," the girls said. 

And...because sometimes I can't check my sarcastic little tongue...I said, "What are you? The 'thank you' police?"

And Andrew laughed about that for several minutes because...what he'd actually wondered was whether the neighbours seemed to appreciate the gift, or whether they thought it was strange to have the neighbour kids arrive on their front porch, in the dark, bearing cannoli.

Evidently they were both grateful and surprised (because cannoli isn't quite as usual as, say, cookies).

Andrew policing the neighbour's use of "thank you" is extra funny because the first time he went trick-or-treating up to doors on his own, Grandma asked him if he was remembering to say 'thank you' and he assured her that he was. But then she accompanied him to a door and observed that he did not say 'thank you.'

"Andrew!" she chided him. "You're supposed to say 'thank you!' But you haven't been, have you?"

"When I smile it means 'thank you,'" he told her.

He sure had us all smiling last night!

* Whales have vestigial legs, so we'll still count them as four-limbed creatures. But I suppose they could be the one exception to the "mammals have four legs" rule.


  1. Thanks for a good laugh, at Andrew's expense.

  2. Truly, a good laugh. I feel like one of his sons might also say something like "When I smile it means thank you."