Sunday, December 26, 2010

"This was a great Christmas!"

. . . Rollo repeated frequently.  A few scenes . . .

Scoot helping decorate outside.
We could see the full moon through the clouds Monday night
as we strung lights and supported ladders,
but the clouds thickened and started to rain before the Earth's shadow was noticeable.
Suffice it to say that the moon is often eclipsed around here.

Christmas Eve, after going carolling in the rain.
By the way, these guys decided on a new name for December 23rd:
"Christmas Adam"
Since Adam came before Eve, you know.
Why didn't I think of that?

Some of these boys were more awake than the others.

A new squad of army men monitored the proceedings.

Rockin' Rollo with his surprising robe and long-awaited guitar.

This season I've been feeling more literary than crafty, but I did enjoy sewing Rollo's robe.  I also crocheted this green Santa hat for Scoot, and followed my old standby pattern to make slippers for Rollo and the Caterpillar. 

I hope you had a merry day as well!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The First Gift of Christmas

No, it is not the first gift that I have planned or ordered or purchased this year.  But it is the first that I finished making and actually wrapped.  D2 carefully placed it where the tree will be.  I'm not sure that is the best place for it.  Certain of his brothers don't handle anticipation very well. 

D2 loves wrapping and giving presents.  Yesterday he found a little bag to use.  First he presented it to me with one of Scoot's slippers inside.  Just what I always wanted!  He took it back, of course, then offered me the bag again.  I felt it from the outside, and found his little fist. 

"Oh, what a wonderful present," I said.  "Do I get to keep just the hand, or the whole boy?"

"The whole thing!"  Our smiles were bright as I tried out a little hugging and tickling on my present.

Vous savez bien que l'amour, c'est avant tout le don de soi!
You know very well that love is, above all, the gift of oneself!
--Jean Anouilh

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Week of Saturdays

That's what it felt like after the snow.  The boys were previously scheduled to come home early that Monday, which was convenient considering the weather.  Dandelionslayer left work early, and arrived home late.  By then the wind had picked up and started blowing down trees and knocking out power.  Ours was restored by the time we sat down to our candlelit sandwich supper.  Others were not so fortunate.

On Tuesday, school was cancelled due to treacherous roads.  Dandelionslayer's place of work was also closed.  So that afternoon the boys played with friends, and we cautiously drove to a grocery store.  Nearly there, and feeling successful, we slid into a ditch.  Friendly people stopped to help us out.  We returned the favor to others on the way home.  It was nice to be of service.

The snow was beginning to melt, and the main roads were fairly clear by Wednesday, but some of the schools were still without electricity.  Dandelionslayer doubted that his afternoon meeting would be well attended, so he stayed home, too.  Sticking with the pattern, we spent Thanksgiving day relaxing, particularly grateful for light, heat, and hot water.

On Friday we set out for an adventure.  Rain had dispersed the snow at home, so some friends drove us to the other side of the Hood Canal and up to where it was still snowy.  We took a hike along the Dosewallips River, scouting out the area for a future camping trip.

A light rain fell as we sloshed through the snow, listening to the beautiful blue-green river rush by.  Mostly we walked along a road, but we did have to climb up and around a part where the road washed away a few years ago.  I guess the river took over that spot. 

Here's a partly frozen waterfall.  We didn't actually hike very far, but it felt like it with little boys setting the pace in their inadequate shoes.  It was interesting to see the mossy evergreen forest covered in snow, a lovely landscape of green, brown, white, and mist.  And we were glad to go home and warm up again.

Saturday was a real Saturday, of course.  Sunday was rather a relief.  It was wonderful to have everyone safe at home, playing games and watching movies during our week of Saturdays.  But it was also good to get back on track with the Sunday routine before sending them back to the crazy world again.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Let It Snow!

It probably won't amount to much, but we've had more snow today than we did all last winter. 
Isn't it lovely?

D2 has a good crop coming in.

Watch out for brain freeze, Caterpillar!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


     We have had our energetic Scoot with us for ten whole years, and he hasn't slowed down yet!  The sun came out yesterday, appropriately for a boy who was born in the desert, and he had a pretty good birthday.  Here he is with his Spectacular Orange Cake.  He enhanced its plain appearance by diagramming a soccer field in the icing, and arranging the candles into a team.  He couldn't wait for the candles to sparkle, so excited was he to blow them out and eat.  And it was awfully tasty.

     Scoot is a warm-hearted boy, and he likes to keep his body warm, too.  These gifts from Grandma and Grandpa G should help!

     And, in case you were wondering, that is an orca hat he is wearing.  I made it out of fleece in a fit of creativity, and he likes it more than I hoped he would.  So it was a busy day for me, but very gratifying.

You've grown so much, Scoot!
Have a great year!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dictionary Moment: Epizeuxis

Epizeuxis is a rhetorical technique in which a word is repeated emphatically or vehemently.  I ran across this term in the SOED several months ago, but didn't quite know what to do with it.  It has come back to me, though, in this election season.  After all, who uses rhetoric more than politicians?  I haven't been to any rallies where this might occur, but the multitude of campaign signs on the roadside strikes me as visual epizeuxis.  Please, get out there and vote for someone who will clean up the government, so someone else can clean up the signs.

In our domestic setting, epizeuxis often involves words like "no" and "get up" and "let's go."  What words do you repeat emphatically?  Are you persuasive?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Must be Halloween

. . . though it feels like the day after.  Another flurry of Halloween events has gone by, and, as usual, our pumpkins remain uncarved.  Isn't this a nice selection, though?  The small yellow specimens are Melonettes Jaspee Vendee, the complete harvest of half a dozen vines.  Have I mentioned that we had a chilly summer?  The others were grown by more expert hands.

While we were too busy with homework and concerts and soccer games to do any carving, the costumes were easy enough.  The boys assembled their own, with items on hand.  I appreciated that, except when some vital pieces were not as close to hand as they should have been.  But we arrived safely (if not punctually) at the Trunk or Treat with Scoot the Gangster, D2 as Sheriff Woody, and Rollo as a cowboy friend of Woody's with the Star Wars-ish name of R2B.  Don't ask me why.

The Caterpillar skipped the Trunk or Treat for a friend's Halloween party, after finishing most of his homework.  I believe he went as a convincingly stinky soccer player.  He wore a lab coat for the Halloween piano recital at the memory care facility (I hope he didn't prompt any unpleasant memories).  But this is how he dressed for another party, last week.  He and Scoot were assistants for the alarmingly mad, lab-coated scientist, Dandelionslayer.  I think the Caterpillar would distract the unsuspecting children while subtle Scoot would
. . . no, I should not reveal a mad scientist's secrets.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Warm Wishes

After the brief flash of summer passed us by, I found myself ready to resume crocheting this project.  It was already large enough to cover my legs and keep me toasty at my work.  And now I have finished my first large afghan.  I used the "Sending Warm Wishes Afghan" pattern from 'Tis the Season to Crochet.  It is a fun book, but be sure to ask the publisher for any corrections before you begin a project from it.

Update:  This is the warmest afghan in the house.  You feel warmer as soon as you put it on.  I was half afraid that Dandelionslayer would hate it because of the gold color, but he uses it all the time!  When, that is, Scoot or I have not claimed it first.  I may have to try it again, in another color scheme.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Highlights for Children

You never know what will float their boat.  Yesterday something so amazing occurred that Scoot and Rollo came home together, peacefully, not fighting tooth and nail for precedence, like usual.  So astounding that I did not even need to ask how their day was, to inquire whether anything interesting had happened at school.  No, they volunteered the information, together.

"Someone threw up on the bus!"

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Stash to Treasure: Relief!

After nineteen years of faithful service, the little light bulb in my sewing machine blew out.  So I tried to remove it.  And the boys tried to remove it.  And my husband tried to remove it.  And we huffed, and puffed, stayed right there.  Well, the glass broke off, but the end stayed in the socket.  We needed professional help. 

By the way, how much does a routine sewing machine service cost in your neck of the woods?  I thought it might be about time for a good once-over (it's been less than nineteen years), but when they told me the price, I said "No, thank you, just change the light bulb."

And I waited.  Items needing mending piled up at an unusual rate.  Scoot finally received some overdue Cub Scout patches. The Caterpillar didn't get to finish his summer sewing project during the summer.   And I was starting to experience severe sewing withdrawal.

Three and a half weeks later, I welcomed the machine back to its rightful place.  (It was ready sooner, but they didn't call.  Hmph!)  Did I celebrate by diving into the mending pile?

Of course not.  I sewed another drawstring backpack, and finished it just in time for the Caterpillar to carry it to his first soccer game of the season.  I used his old jeans, some red nylon left from making a fireman costume, and flaggy material left from the apron the Caterpillar designed for himself.  I'll get to the mending someday.  But I feel much better already.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Doing the Cancan

The Galop Infernal from Jacques Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld has long been a favorite with our beginning pianists.  When the Caterpillar first learned the theme, we made up some words for it, corresponding with his recycling duties:

Can, can, milk jug, milk jug,
Can, can, milk jug, milk jug,
Can, can, milk jug, milk jug,
Paper, paper, paper, paper . . .

The boys all enjoy dancing to the tune, which appears as a whistled motif in "Wild and Free" by Rednex.  And it is an easy tune for me to think of when engaged in the provident work of home canning.  Encouraging music is helpful when spending a Saturday afternoon bottling 20 quarts of peaches and pears. 

Another tune that comes to my mind when I'm canning is "Jammin'" by Bob Marley.  I know he had something else in mind, but some of the lyrics are applicable when I'm making various flavors of jam.

"To think that jammin' was a thing of the past"

Who makes their own jam anymore?  Well, old-fashioned girls like me.  And ministers, and lawyers, and authors, and engineers.  It's hard to resist making jam with all the free blackberries that grow around here.  And where else can you obtain mango-raspberry jam, or blueberry-peach, without paying a lot for shipping?  Home canning takes time and effort, but for me, the results are well worth the investment. 

"And I hope this jam is gonna last"

. . . at least through another school year of daily peanut butter sandwiches!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Help us--I'm four"

Thus prayed D2, a couple of days ago.  It's true, his fourth birthday was on Sunday.  And it was a pretty good day.

D2 has always been fascinated with basketball, so he was excited to receive his own inflatable hoop.  And Scoot, the ball master, was happy to teach him some games.

He tried on all his new clothes at once,

and applied his new standard to cleanliness.  "It's a vacuum cleaner!"  The floor was ready for him.
Happy birthday, D2!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bright (and Early) Beginning

Well, he did it!  On September First Day of School, the Caterpillar, who is not a morning person, heeded his alarm and had finished his shower before I got up to wake him.  So he forgot to set the alarm for the second day--but when he remembers, he'll have time to cross our busy street and hike to the bus stop early every morning.  He's had a good time so far at junior high, which should only improve when he cracks his locker combination.
Scoot, who is a morning person, spent the time after breakfast constructively packing his lunch and doing his housework.  His class hasn't changed much for fifth grade, except for the welcome addition of a church friend.  And since the homework hasn't begun in earnest, he's been pretty happy after school, too.
Rollo was ready for second grade, too.  He was so ready that he had time to set up a race track before rushing out to the bus stop twenty minutes early.  The toys kept D2 busy enough that he didn't mind his brothers' leaving.  But Rollo had a harder time at school.  He only knew two of his classmates, and didn't see any of his old friends at recess.  Then he misplaced his lunch box, and his teacher got food poisoning.  What a week!  Good thing it only lasted three days.  But we know Rollo.  His friendless days will be few. 
Hooray for school!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Let's Go Fly a Kite

For the last Saturday of summer, we did something completely different.  Dandelionslayer's friend took us down the inlet in his boat.  D2 thought the ride was noisy, but was surprised to learn that we were in a motorboat.

Rollo let the wind whistle through the space where Scoot knocked his tooth out.  (Don't worry--it was already loose.)  But a boat ride was not sufficiently thrilling.

Dandelionslayer took to the sky with his friend's parasail.  He loved the flight, even though Rollo frequently encouraged the driver to dip his feet in the water.

Splash!  Apparently the flight was worth the landing.

The Caterpillar tried it, too, while Scoot hung out with the friend's boat-loving dog.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

First Tomato

A friend shared with me some of her mother's advice:  "If you can't pronounce it, you should not put it in or on your body."  This seems pretty sound to me, considering things like iodopropynyl butylcarbamate or methylisothiazolinone.  But I hope it need not apply to this tomato.  Its name is Malakhitovaya Shkatulka. 
Can you say that? 
It is a Russian variety, named for the resemblance of its innards to the green malachite boxes made in its native land.  This first specimen was not quite as bright green as I'd expected, but it certainly was delicious.  I look forward to opening more of these treasure boxes soon!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

End of Summer Giveaway

Is summer ending already?  My first tomato is almost ripe, and school starts next week.  How time flies.

But all is not lost!  Terresa, at the Chocolate Chip Waffle, is serving up some cool, delicious books (and cookie cutters) in her End of Summer Giveaway.  Check it out and enter to win by Sunday night!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Tale of Two Beach Trips

Three years ago, we were trying to go on an exciting vacation.  But we missed a ferry, and decided to find a way to amuse ourselves before going home.  We drove over to Sequim (pronounced "squim" every time I've heard it).  I thought I had heard of the Dungeness Spit, or at least the crabs, so we took a look.  It was a cool, gray August day, and what I remember most is that:

    1.  as soon as we reached the end of the half-mile trail to the beach, Rollo claimed he needed to go to the bathroom, up at the trailhead, and

    2.  while I watched D2 play with rocks, Scoot and the Caterpillar wandered into the restricted marshy area, and got their shoes stuck in the mud.

To the boys, this is a good memory, and they've been asking to go back ever since.

After scraping off the mud, we found our way to Graysmarsh Farm, where we posed in the lavender field and picked a bucketful of blueberries, which spilled in the van on the way home.

We have returned to the farm, each August, on the way home from camping farther west.  This year we made a special trip.  We picked two bucketfuls of blueberries, ten pounds in all, and it was hard to stop there.  But, stop we did, so we could make the long-awaited visit to the Spit.

It was a sunny, warm day, especially after toiling in the blueberry field, so some of us were excited about getting wet.  The water was, well, frigid.  But I let it splash up my legs, and the boys let it knock them around a bit.

Scoot tempted fate by building a pyramid upon the sand.  His brothers willingly helped build a stony fortification to protect it from the relentless waves.

And, of course, the floods came up.  The wall remained, looking like a misplaced fire ring. 

We were not alone in splashing and playing with rocks, sand, and driftwood, but we only saw one real swimmer.  We never saw him come out of the water.  In fact, we only saw the top of his head, and a bit of his back, once.  He happened to be a seal.  You wouldn't be impressed with our photographic evidence, but we saw the brown head bobbing just offshore.  We felt privileged to be splashing in the same waves. 

I'll remember Dungeness Spit more fondly from now on.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ticket to Ride

     When Rollo was 4 or 5, I took him to Target one day during Christmastime.  As we walked near the toy area, a lady approached us.  She needed to purchase a gift for a 4-year-old boy with whom she was not well acquainted, and she wondered if we had any suggestions.  Rollo answered, without hesitation, "Trains!"
     Though Rollo may play with Legos more often these days, he still enjoys his train set, and D2 is right on track.  So, last month, I thought it was time to take a real train ride again.
      The Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad uses real steam engines to pull a few cars around on old logging tracks.  Rail conditions dictate a leisurely pace, which is perfect for enjoying the scenery.
      And we were fortunate that the scenery was actually visible that day.  The company makes no guarantees, but the sky was clear, and we enjoyed a good peek at the peak.
          We took a brief walk by this lake while the train turned around, and headed back all too soon.  Perhaps we'll visit again, on our own schedule.