Sunday, December 19, 2010


It's the Sunday before Christmas, the sun is shining, it's warm, there's blue sky.

And I'm about to climb into the attic to try to figure out why the bathroom fan is dripping water.


Friday, December 17, 2010


I've been heading up into McDonald Forest with Hazel, up road 6021, trying to find new ways to get elevation into the walk to make it a good workout. The trails I'd used in the fall are way to wet and slippery, so I'm mostly confined to roads.

The weather has been pretty nice lately. I happened to drive through a rainstorm on Tuesday to get to the trail-head with pretty much blue skies. On the last two trips I've taken the camera and here are some shots.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Headaches, part 2

Simone had another headache today. Just a little one, behind the eyebrow.

She said, "my brain is biting, biting, biting me."

This one didn't peek out her nose, but came up from her stomach, through her throat and into her brain.

It was very cute, not at all the disturbing sense that I'm getting now that I'm typing this...

A Hat!

A hat, I knit my very first hat.

It's for Miles' and Robie's baby girl (due end of January). Simone had a hat very much like this one, and people think this style is very cute. Not bad for my first non-washcloth project.

And now on to my next project - a mobius strip!


Simone has some new pajamas.

I noticed that one of them has a cute little purple bird on the shirt, shaped kind of like a paisley.

And it's saying "tweet. tweet."

I think it's her first geek shirt, it's a twitter shirt in disguise.

I was hoping her first geek shirt would be about Emacs, or xkcd.

Advent Spiral Walk

This week at preschool we had the Advent Spiral Walk. It's a beautiful way to celebrate Advent. Each of the kids (then the parents) walk with a candle into the center of the spiral, light it, and then walk out, placing the candle somewhere along the path coming out. A lady plays songs on a cello the whole time. The kids love it.

Some of the kids walk fast, some shuffle along, last year one of the kids walked with super slow and exaggerated steps (like a cartoon character trying overly hard to be quiet). Simone walked in very peacefully, lit the candle, walked out a ways and placed the candle. Then she proceeded to do spins, arabesques, and other ballet moves the rest of the way out. It was awesome.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Simone Update

Her favorite stuffed animal is "KittyCat" (or "Daisy" when her name comes out). And just the other day, Simone gave KittyCat a bath. KittyCat's nose is pink! Who knew?

Simone is climbing bunches. On the couch, on the chair, on me (when I crouch down to put something away).

Oooh, and she's ringing the doorbell right now. Gotta run.

Edited to add: Upon coming in, she started climbing on me.

Doodling In Math Class

I saw this page and was blown away by the doodles and Vi Hart's humor and explanation of the intricacies of math and doodles. They're well worth the watch.

(hat tip Ze Frank)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Random Thoughts

Corvallis has been smelling of cigars lately. Very odd.

I've recently seen a couple of people defend/promote vegetarianism on the argument that it's immoral to eat animals, for they are animals with the same right to live as humans. Usually bolstering the argument with the fact that most meat/eggs/dairy is produced in a CAFO setting (akin to torture, with which I agree). I understand that, but why differentiate between animals and plants? Are plants not as alive as animals? Shouldn't they be accorded the same rights?

Plants are the tallest organisms (trees), oldest (trees), largest by area (fungus), etc.

It seems kind of arbitrary.

Thursday, December 02, 2010


Recently I read this article: Schneier on Security: Close the Washington Monument, which (more or less) leads off with:
I think we should close the monument entirely. Let it stand, empty and inaccessible, as a monument to our fears.
The actions we've taken to make ourselves more "secure" just feel like theater, or at best, crude political overtures in order to get funding/be re-elected.

I've found these articles to be somewhat sobering, and I hope that people in power start to read this kind of thing and take a few steps back toward thinking rationally.
A little thinking can go a long way...

Monday, November 29, 2010


Simone didn't feel well today. She woke up with the sniffles and hung out on the couch most of the day. Thankfully, by the end of the day she was doing hand-stands on the couch, and by the time I got home from work, she was very bubbly and energetic in the bath tub. We read a couple Clifford stories in bed, said the nighttime verse, and sang a song. Very sweet.

While lying in bed, Simone told me that headaches leave through your mouth while you sleep. I said, "really?" And that's when I learned

Headaches go down your head and peek out your nose, then down into your mouth, and out your open mouth while you sleep.

Lesson learned.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Let it Snow!

It snowed about an inch in Corvallis, and it isn't even Thanksgiving! I know, how crazy is that?
I didn't get any pictures of Simone and Mary playing in the snow in the back yard. They looked like they were having a blast, throwing snowballs at each other and giggling. Durned work, I should have run out and joined them.
Hazel and I did go out toward the end of the day for our classic hike up to the top of Dimple hill. Dusk was approaching fast, so we went as quickly as possible.
The forest trail right before the old clear cut.

In the middle of the clear cut with Hazel racing towards me.

Up on Dimple hill, with the snow almost 2 inches deep.

Overlooking Corvallis
Hazel normally really likes running around in grass that is about as tall as she is. When it has a couple of inches of snow she goes berserk! She would bury her muzzle into the snow so that her eyes were buried and hide, then race off through the grass and snow.
It was a little slippery coming down, and a tad dark in the forest, but I did have the foresight to bring a flashlight.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I read stories to Simone tonight while going to bed, an later went in to check on her when she was calling for "Momma." We had a nice chat and I told her that it might snow tonight and maybe she should cross her fingers (that's a recent trick she's learned) and dream for snow.

Simone got very excited (hmmm.... maybe not the best for going to sleep), and talked about getting her snow clothes ready for going over to Memere's with her cousins (they're coming down in 3 days for Thanksgiving). I told her the snow might not be around then, but, if it is here tomorrow morning, we'd gather up all her snow clothes. She seemed satisfied with that.

Tonight, while going out to lock the chickens up, I found snowflakes falling.

I think her crossed fingers did the trick!


Forgot to bring my regular shoes to work, so I'm wearing my workout shoes all day. We'll see how comfortable they are while sitting in a chair for 8 hours.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mushroom Picking

Sunday morning, Mary woke up before the rest of us and took Hazel on a lovely early morning walk in the frosty morning with blue skies and sunshine. She came home stoked and was ready to go mushroom picking.
We talked about a couple of trails to check out and decided to go to the North Ridge Trail, a place I'd gone on my mushroom class. I knew it had a nice, flat area, which should be Simone friendly. The other places I'd gone picking (all 2 or 3 times) I'd gone to steep areas w/out much of a trail.
So, we headed out and as we got closer and closer to the trail head, it got cloudier and cloudier, and a couple of miles from the trailhead we could see snow in the trees a couple hundred feet higher in elevation. No worries, it was cold, but we were dressed for warmth.
We hiked down to the flat area and started looking around. Hazel ran around like a kid in a candy shop, exploring everywhere and running at top speed. Simone found mushrooms at every turn and constantly yelled, "Look Momma! Look Papa! Mushroom!"
Simone and Mary posing next to a mossy tree.
Then it started to rain. No worries, we were under big trees and weren't getting wet.
Then it started to rain hard, and Simone was a little hungry. We sat down for a little snack (not far from frozen breakfast bars) and some hot (too hot) tea. I figured we'd be heading back real soon b/c Simone was going to get cold pretty fast.
Then the rain started to change, it started falling a little slower, and a little colder.
Simone having tea as the rain started turning to snow...
Then the flakes got bigger and bigger, and we had a real snow shower. Simone got so excited and started eating the snow off the logs and off the moss (blech, it tasted like dirt, not so fun).
We started exploring other areas (to keep warm) and on our way out of the place we'd had snacks, Mary noticed something. I dug it up, and it was Mary's first wild Chanterelle mushroom. Very exciting. She found two more, and my competitive drive got going. I found 5 or 6, but it was all in one spot, right next to the road (where Mary shortly thereafter walked and would have found them).
We had about a pound of mushrooms, ready for some Hungarian mushroom soup. Hazel found some deer bones (a jawbone with teeth even), and we found a couple of patches of snow to play in.
The snow level falls.

Simone posing on a log in the snow - with Mary in the background.
We hiked back up to the car to get out of our wet rain-gear and to warm up with some now drinkable warm tea. A very successful mushroom trip.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


This morning Simone asked me if I'd woken up with bubbles in my feet. Turns out, she was referring to how I pop my ankles when I get up. She says she doesn't have bubbles in her feet.

And yesterday we were eating bagels with cream cheese and she wanted to split the last half. Instead of cutting it in half or sharing bites, she wanted me to cut around the hole in the middle, that way we each still had a bagel. Though her part was transformed into a donut.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Halloween at the Stevenson's

I think this is our second year going over to the Stevenson's for Halloween. They live in the kind of neighborhood where every house is handing out candy and eagerly awaits the pitter patter of little feet. We had a lovely dinner beforehand (thanks Pamela!) and headed out.
We knocked on about a dozen doors, and I think Jack and Connor would have raced around from house to house for another half hour, but the twins were done. Simone was so excited to be trick-or-treating that a dozen houses was great.
John reading to the little ones.

The perfect little piggie.

Can we go yet???

All the kids, pre-candy.

Fall Colors

We went back east two years ago (two?!!!? wow) and the colors were pretty. I'm definitely enjoying the colors Corvallis has to offer this year, they've been pretty spectacular.

A Walk To Sunset Park

Sunset Park is a popular place to go, and these photos were taken on a walk there a couple of weeks ago.

If you look closely, you'll see a pile of moss by Simone's feet - that is the bed for the fairies.

The duck whisperer in action.

Simone building up a pile of leaves to jump in.

Pre-Halloween Piggie

Mary had the idea to make Simone a pig costume (wearing a tu-tu of course) for Halloween. To be honest, I figured we'd just take the easy route and have Simone dress up like a fairy with one of the "princess" dresses we'd inherited (they're pretty cute - just add wings, which we have).
But, Mary had the itch, and she found some wonderful pink fabric at the craft store, so we started planning. Mary put the nose together - using a TP tube cut down, some black buttons for nostrils, and some elastic cord. I figured out the tail would be made of a wire coat hanger bent into a spiral.
Unfortunately, Mary was off to a seminar and couldn't finish it before she left. I might have been able to finish it on my own, but I'm real slow. Enter Nana. Nana put fabric on the tail while playing with Simone in the time it took me to take Hazel for a run. Then she whipped together the ears even faster. I was working in the other room and heard Nana giggling in the living room - and figured she'd gone back to reading her book, but she was attaching the ears to the pink hat and just thought the ears were hilarious.
It was a team effort, and it all came together splendidly. We got many comments on the costume at the pre-halloween party we went to.
Someone Mary was talking to noticed a barn-yard pattern. Simone has been a cow, a chicken, and now a pig. Who knows what next year will bring?

A nice shot of the outfit.

Look at the nose. Later I had to make another one because Hazel ... well, she likes the pink fabric.

Pigs can climb rock walls it seems.

Dimple Hill

I've been avoiding running for the past month or so, and walking on flats isn't very satisfying. Here are some photos of the trail up Dimple Hill. There's another trail just to the east of the grass one pictured below - but that one is so steep it's challenging to walk.
This is the grass Hazel loves so - she blends in really well.

The low sun provides for some nice lighting.

There are a few old trees left.

Nana and Simone

Nana came down, yay!


I wrote about our bowling trip, here are some pictures.
The lovely ramp - what a great idea to let little kids bowl.

Strike! Yes, she was beating the pants off both of us.

Sunset Park October 2010

Some pictures of a rainy day at Sunset Park. We had a little picnic in the covered area.

Stop and smell the day lillies?

Sometimes you've got to stop and smell the day lillies.


We had visitors a couple of weeks ago. Carl, Jana and Ayli came down to visit. I tried taking some photos, but the two wiggle worms wouldn't sit still long enough. The one picture in focus with them in the rocking chair doesn't have Ayli looking at the camera. But they are all pretty cute.


Two peas in a pod.

They're still long enough for a focused shot, it's a miracle!

Full service strolling.

In addition to taking rides in the stroller, Simone and Ayli spent a bunch of time in the kitchen cooking up food, and dancing to music.
We only see Carl, Jana and Ayli once every year or two - they have made the trek down to Corvallis twice now, and methinks we should head to Chicago at some point to return the favor.

And so it begins...

My first project:

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

This is where we live

This is a panorama from Dimple Hill, with Corvallis in the distance (and the edge of my finger on top).

Friday, October 29, 2010

Dog Running

We're working with Hazel a lot more consistently, in an attempt to help her adjust to being a well-mannered dog. A part of that is exercise, for her and me. We've taken to walking in McDonald Forest and hiking up the steepest trails we can find. One of them leads directly up to Dimple Hill.

I took this video of her running the other day - she loves tall grass.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Today, Simone, Mary and I went to bowl at OSU's bowling alley. We got there before 2pm, which meant $1 off each game, and (bonus) on Sundays shoes are free!

We used the bumpers to keep from doing gutter balls, and there was even a slide that Simone could use to aim and propel the ball.

Well, Simone whooped our hides real good the first game. She got well over 100 the first game, beating Mary and myself by a good 20+ points each. On the second game, she got 100 even, but I got 4 strikes and a spare for a high score of 143, thereby reaffirming my position in the family hierarchy.

We won't discuss Mary's scores.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy Halloween

We finally carved jack-o-lanterns!

We've bought pumpkins in years past, but never gotten around to carving them.

Today, we hung out on the back patio, with a fire in our fireplace, and carved away. Here's what they look like:

Shady Dell

I can't believe I didn't blog about this when it happened.

We went to Shady Dell, a club outside of Mollala where guys have been driving scale trains around a mile of track since I was a little kid.

Mary and I had no idea how often trains passed our house until this summer, when Simone's interest in trains went ballistic. For a while she's yelled, "plane!" when she hears a plane fly by, "truck" when she heard the rumble of a garbage truck, "bus" when she sees or hears a big bus. But, this summer she's gotten to yelling "train!" when she hears the horn of a train. It's kind of cute, but the other night she was yelling it out from her bedroom when it was time to sleep. Not so cute.

Of course, while I was sitting with her the other night and she was insistently whispering "train" to me (b/c she knew it was time for sleep), it took all my resolve not to bust out laughing.

Anyway, that's all to say that Simone is nuts for trains (to grandpa's delight).

At Shady Dell you get to watch the trains roll by, and then you get to ride in them. Here are a few choice photos from the event. We were joined by Grandpa and Nana.

First, everyone in the station, getting ready to ride:

Everyone on the move:

What the engines look like (complete with cow on the cow guard):

And a shot for Grandpa, a detail of the wheels. They're about 8" tall, you'd never know from the photo:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Two Minor Gripes

Often when I work out at work I watch the TVs. At 7am, SportsCenter is always on, and I can sometimes tune a second TV to something interesting (this morning it was a Mountain Dew BMX competition).

SportsCenter tends to only focus on basketball, football, baseball and hockey - which is a bit of a drag - but it's entertaining enough to watch while I listen to tunes or podcasts. However, they occasionally do this bit where some dude stands up in front of a HUGE flatscreen (seriously 6 feet wide) to do some detailed analysis of (generally) a football play. He taps on a "button" on the side (it's just a part of the screen), and then taps on some players, dragging arrows around and the such. It's sort of a higher-tech version of Dave Madden's telestrator. That's all well and good, but what annoys me is that SportsCenter is showing the guy doing all the clicking, and the screen is at an angle to the camera. I don't need to see the dude pressing buttons, I don't really care that they've got a 6' wide flatscreen, what I do know is that I'm watching a HD TV and they're showing me a picture of a picture - which totally ruins the experience. Why?

One of the commercials during the BMX show (oddly) was for a motor oil. If you've ever worked with motor oil (and, no, I've not changed the oil in a car, however I've driven two cars that need regular oil infusions) you know that the shape of the bottle is such that the spout is not in the center of the bottle, but is lined up on one of the sides. Why is this? It is so that when you pour, you can pour with the spout on the top and avoid the dreaded glug.

Ok, it's long lead up to a little gripe - I did some googling, and perhaps people don't know how to properly pour motor oil. If you don't - take a look at the shape of the bottle. Note that the spout is commonly on one of the sides. When you pour the oil, you pour
with the spout on the top and the "belly" of the bottle down. This allows air to enter at the same time as oil is leaving. This technique enables you to pour the oil smoothly - no glugs.

So, what's the gripe? The commercials always show the people pouring oil the wrong way. This usually comes in the form of some animation showing the bottle being poured the wrong way - but glug free - which is physically impossible. Today's commercial showed actual video of a guy pouring the oil (the wrong way), which he was doing super slowly and it was still glugging. I don't know who makes the directing decisions and why they constantly make the wrong choice, but it's more than a little irritating. I've yet to see a commercial that does it right. Perhaps all the hand models are right-handed (because the label is usually on the side such that if you pour it right-handed with the label showing the bottle is the wrong way. If they just switched to left-handed actors it'd work (or you could even flip the video if you want the look of a right-hander).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Jigsaw Puzzles

Simone did her first jigsaw puzzle today. Before today, I hadn't seen Simone really take much interest in the puzzles. She'd done the 'put the letter in the cutout' or 'put the animal in the cutout' puzzles in the past.

We have a couple jigsaw puzzles that someone gave her, and they'd come apart a few weeks ago. Just a few minutes ago, Simone laid down on the floor and started putting one together. I started on the second one, she helped me, and then turned back to hers. Every piece was placed by her, all 25.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

An Artist

A while back, someone gave us the idea of scanning Simone's art as a way of preserving it. I thought it was great, and finally got around to rounding them up. These are from this year.

This first is a rainbow girl. Rainbows were a hit for a while, I think it was her way to start using many colors at the same time:

A popular story was/is the three little pigs. Our version ends with the wolf climbing down the chimney into the pot of water on the fire and enjoys a soak in the hot tub.

I believe this one is a drawing of Mary, done at the beach over Labor Day:

Oh, and stickers are hugely popular. She's been incorporating them into her drawings:

Or, perhaps this is the drawing of Mary. The likeness is uncanny:

And Mary's current favorite, a drawing of a fairy, with wings and a crown and notice the musical notes. That's actually a song that goes along with the fairy. And, at one point, the little green dot was a belly button.