Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloweformation Day!

Since it is Halloween, I thought I'd share the view out of our bedroom window at night:
If it looks as though our neighbor's house is levitating, that's because it is. And that glowing orb in the trees? A UFO. Seriously. I have no idea what that is. You can see more at the bottom of this post.

Time-Warner Cable was so kind and generous to send us a free costume in the mail. And we don't even buy their services. Wasn't that sweet? Jude cut it out, and Paul obligingly wore it around. Jayson's senior class was meeting in our living room when Paul brought them some Time-Warner-sponsored entertainment by running in wearing this beautiful bat.

The students at NSA hosted a Reformation Day party for the kids. They were thrilled to wear their costumes, but as we were getting ready to leave, we discovered that Paul's Tigger hat had gone missing sometime during the afternoon. So rather than go hatless, he opted for a pirate's bandana instead. And then added the black galoshes. And the yellow plastic sword. I'm not sure A.A. Milne ever envisioned Tigger as a pirate, but I'm sure he would have been happy to note that it can, in fact, work.

What Pirate Tiggers like best.

Here's the follow-up photo I promised. This is in the morning, and you can see a little better what's going on. They are adding a basement under this house. It's been quite a thrill for our boys to watch the process. It started with dismantling the chimney, brick by brick, and it now involves dump trucks and jack hammers and cement mixers and all kinds of hydraulics. It was quite a shock, though, to come home to see the house four feet off the ground. So that explains the unusual sight. But the UFO? I still don't know what that was. (Cue creepy music.)

Harvest party photos

We enjoyed a bit of the rural life last Sunday at a harvest party held in the machine shop at the farm of some friends.

My first-place-winning (thank you, thank you) pie made from the apples we picked. The prize? A two-inch plastic trophy from the Dollar Store, now proudly displayed atop my cluttered microwave.

We strolled down the dirt road to pick our own pumpkins.

Pressing cider the old-fashioned way, from core to cup in less than a minute.

The cousins enjoying some chili—probably mixed with some dirt and hay, which is good. Kids need plenty of fiber and minerals.

Carving the aforementioned pumpkins. Digging out the guts was the most entertaining part.

About to head back home.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I just thought you all should know that I turned 30 recently. Here's proof:

We just had a small family gathering at my parents' house, and our friends the LaMoreauxs came over for a bit, too.
And the weather was nice enough for us all to play on the basketball court outside.

Thirty seems to be a good age so far. Can't say I feel different, but I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Apple pickin'

Last Friday, we had an welcome spike in temperature that coincided with Jude's and Jonah's day off from school. So we took advantage of this double bonus and went with my mom, who also took the afternoon off, to enjoy some local flavor: apple picking at the WSU orchards.

Don't we look cheery?

More cheeriness.

And more cheeriness...except that Paul looks like he's beholding a beatific vision. And Jonah is sprouting horns.

Mom got a bag of apples, too, but here you see she also snagged some fallen apple wood to use in the smoker at home. Resourceful lady, that.


After apples, we crossed the road to see the (extremely stinky) grizzlies. Despite the double layer of chain links with their friendly cap of razor wire, Jonah kept a respectful distance, but Paul wanted to communicate. Bear whisperer, maybe.

Now, who could spend a warmish day with kids near WSU and not head over to Ferdinand's for some ice cream? (For those who don't know, WSU has its own creamery where, on select days, you can watch from above as students in highly attractive hairnets and latex gloves make ice cream and cheese from milk produced by WSU's own dairy cows.) When we arrived there was a bit of a line, so we decided to head up to the observation room. But since nothing was happening down below, we watched their informational video instead. However, when we returned down the stairs for our ice cream, the line for the cold and creamy had extended itself out the door and was wrapping like a boa constrictor around the corner of the building. ACK! And the parking meter was tick-tick-ticking away the last of our spare change! So, rather than eat our ice cream on site, we exited stage left and drove back to Moscow, opting to purchase our Ferdinand's ice cream at the Chill Box—the only other place in the world that sells it. No waiting in line either. A sweet end to a fun and fallish afternoon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A cautionary tale

While I was spending a bit of one-on-one playing with Jude, thinking that Paul was peacefully enjoying some down time in his room, I started smelling a ghastly-sweet floral scent lingering in the air. I opened the door to see Paul skipping blithely down the hallway toward me, also smelling disturbingly floral. "What are you doing down here, Paul?" I asked.

"Um, nussing."

Hmm. When Paul has been doing "nussing" I know that mischief is nigh. So I walked upstairs to investigate the source of the smell. Lysol. An appalling amount of Lysol unleashed in his bedroom, with the can neatly replaced behind the diaper pail under his changing table. I opened every available window and set some fans blowing.

Thinking the job was finished, I went back downstairs and noticed the coffee table glistening strangely in the living room. As I came closer I could see that it was completely covered in something wet. Yes, more Lysol. Paul had done his work in the living room as well before returning the Lysol can to its rightful place. And this time, cleanup was not so easy; no amount of paper towels and furniture polish—or even mayonnaise (I found this homeopathic solution online.)—could remove the dull, cloudy surface that resulted on the formerly shiny finish. So I'll have to see if I can find some some more aggressive means of restoring the luster of the coffee table.

Events like these make me very thankful that our home is full of "pre-owned" (used) furniture. Even if structural damage were to result, it would be no great loss. And hey, at least this mishap left the living room smelling like spring once the air had cleared a bit.

I also (re-)learned two valuable lessons as a result:
1. Do not leave cleaning supplies anywhere that a two-year-old boy might be able to find them. (Duh)
2. Lysol is not a good choice for cleaning a hardwood surface.

So now you know. Learn from my mistake.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Horticultural Whatnot

Fall has officially done its work on our yard.
This tree pictured above was in full , leafy green foliage the day before, and then the following morning, all its lovely clothing lay, as you can see, strewn upon the ground below--not leaf by leaf, but in whole, still-green, in-tact branches--as though in anticipation of a triumphal entry into the royal city. Most strange.

The maple has also begun to undress, but what I want you to see in the photo is what the maple leaves are resting on. Yes, that's right: grass! Our back yard is now sprouting leaves of grass fit to make Walt Whitman green with E.

Here are the frost-bitten tomato plants. We would likely have had about 30 more pounds of fresh tomatoes, had the warm weather held out a little longer (or started a little sooner this summer). But sad mortality o'erswayed their power. So I salvaged a few to ripen indoors on the window sill:

A little taste of leftover summer. Sweet.


I started to really enjoy photography while "working" for the Dordt College Diamond (student newspaper) lo these many years ago. They had (perhaps foolishly) given me a 35mm SLR and a key to the dark room. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had taken some photos on black & white film, and I was determined to develop them myself. A yellowed and moisture-warped page of directions, no doubt typed (on a real typewriter) sometime during the Nixon administration, was taped up on the dark room wall. Looked easy enough. Thus, after a little of this and a little of that and a little stirring and waiting and rinsing, I had some film with recognizable images on it. In reverse of course. Then I moved next door to make prints under the eerie red lights. Magic.

They turned out pretty badly--poor focus, and some inexplicable (to me) white spots here and there--but what fun. And I had figured it out myself, which made me feel pretty swell. I never did anything in a darkroom again, but I suddenly found myself fascinated with photography, and I bought my own Canon SLR later that year. I still have it. But now, I have this digital SLR on loan from my dear Uncle Brad. (Thankyouthankyouthankyou!) And I'm trying to learn how to be a better digital photographer. It's very freeing not to have to worry about how much film I'm using up, and I love being able to edit things myself on the computer. So I'm still having fun.

I tell you all this to give you some background to why I made this contraption:

It is made out of a sheet of card stock, an old cosmetics mirror, and some Scotch tape. (I feel like MacGyver.) You see, I couldn't justify spending the cash on an external flash, since this is just a hobby, but one day I saw this thing called a Light Scoop advertised, which creates the effect of a bounce flash by reflecting the light up and off the ceiling. But I couldn't even justify spending the cash on that either--especially when I thought I could make something like it myself. So here's a before and after:

Before: Notice the harsh shadows behind the heads and the direct angle of the light that screams, "Cheap on-camera flash!"

After: Much softer light and absence of annoying background shadows.

Thank you. That is all.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Blow, blow, thou winter wind

Oh, all right. It's technically not winter yet, but the weather does seem to be running a bit ahead of schedule. And, says I to the weather, what's the hurry? Well there's no snow yet, and after all, I must count my blessings!

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
Thou dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot.

So. One benefit not to be forgot: Granny M came to visit this weekend! Notice the cozy outerwear we've transitioned to for the evening soccer games. Also notice how dark it's getting at 6:00.

While she was here, Granny M got to spend an afternoon at school with Jonah. Here he is tearing up the "soccer field" (parking lot) at recess:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A taste of Texas

A couple of weeks ago we had our first visit from some Dallas friends! Dan and Wendy are good friends from our Church in Texas, and Dan even drove our moving truck with Jayson all the way up to Moscow when we moved last summer. We had a great visit with them; they're the kind of people who make you feel like you never really left. They also spoiled us with some fantastic bottles of wine! Plus, it was a great to spend some quality time with the McIntoshes again, too. (We've hardly seen each other since we both moved back up here!)

Bea, Emma, Paul and Jude enjoying each other's company after a long separation. They were watching a video here, but I'm sure it was thoroughly edifying and educational.

Wendy and Asaph having a good laugh

Wendy, Annie and me. Just like ol' times.

And the fellers: Jonathan, Dan and Jayson.

Had to throw this photo in, too. Look! Jayson and I are in the same picture (with Jude)!

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