Friday, April 28, 2006

Film 101

Last week I snapped. I couldn’t take one more showing of any part of George Lucas’ space opera. From podracers all the way to ewoks, I was tired of the whole thing. So when the crowd one rainy day was clamoring for a movie I held my ground and said no to Star Wars. We are going to watch one of my movies. I then said “It is a very good movie, you will like it and it features the three most important words in Science fiction.”

I then pulled out a movie I had bought a few months ago and proceeded to liberate it from its shrink-wrap cocoon. All the while there was a great gnashing of teeth and Max loudly stating “That movie is stupid.”

I ignored them and slipped the DVD into the player and cued up the movie.

After a bout 15 minutes Max and Rebecca were transfixed. When the army burst on the scene Nate and then Jake were captivated.

The movie has everything: a spaceship, an alien, a robot with unbelievable powers, the military and an ordinary kid with his mother.

The next day they wanted to see the movie again.

Oh and the movie, it’s this one.

And we all know the phrase that saves the world.

Right?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Thursday Three: The Final Exam

Today’s Thursday Three takes us back to the classroom.

"Testing...testing..."

Sorry for the delay. I had today’s Axis of Weevil Thursday Three all completed and ready to go, but the more I thought about it the more I disliked the entire concept. Thankfully, I was able to rely upon our crack team of university scholars, one of whom had sent along a set of questions late yesterday afternoon. Since I had at first thought I liked my (now-superseded) set of questions, I informed the good professor that I would use his set next week, but upon further consideration, I think his were much superior.

THEREFORE, let’s get right to the FINAL EXAM EDITION of the Thursday Three!

Dr. Smith (soon to be deep in the grading of final exams himself) sends along the following for your consideration:

1. What was your luckiest experience with finals?
2. What was your worst experience?
3. Finally, do you have any recurring finals nightmares?

SO, there you are. Remember, keep your eyes on your own paper. You may not use your notes or your book. Leave an open seat between you and other commentors. You may not go to the restroom until after you finish your test. Use of a calculator is not necessary. All cell phones and pagers must be turned off. You will be given partial credit for partial answers. Proper grammar and spelling does count. Please leave your comments below, or a link to your own blog. You now have only fifteen seconds left to complete your exam, and you must do it while standing naked upon your table and singing “Rule Britannia.” (That last part you don’t really have to do.)

Now then, you may open your test booklets and commence.


Generally I have no problems with taking tests. I do the readings and I usually take decent notes. Except for one class where the professor was a bore and I would nod off. Those notes were very interesting to read. They would start out and end in a fairly sensible and legible fashion, but would trail off in the middle in a distracted scrawl and then suddenly pick up again when I would awaken. Anyway tests are not a problem for me. I’ll take a test over a final paper any day.

1)The luckiest test taking experience I ever had was my Latin final in college. It was to be a combination of translation and grammar. For me, Latin grammar was easy (now it would be a slightly different story), so I just quickly reviewed what we had covered. I concentrated on the Cicero translations that had been earmarked by the professor, but that we had not covered in class. I found a great book in the library that would have passages of Cicero printed on one page and a translation in English on the facing page. I waded through the Latin and translated it on my own, using the book’s translations as a way to check my work. Then I went through and memorized my translations with each passage mentally linked to the opening sentence in Latin. When I got the test I was delighted. The grammar section was a breeze and I easily ripped through the translations. I was done in about 3/4 an hour. The final exam time blocks ran for three hours and were self scheduled (that was one of the coolest features of my college). Feeling self-conscious about my test taking rapidity, I fussed about for another 20 minutes and then handed in my blue book. I completely aced that exam.

2)My worst experience was also in college. My chemistry final was a seven page nightmare of stuff I did not remember even covering in class. I clearly remember franticly flipping through the pages of the exam, desperate to find at least one familiar item. In the end I took the test and used the entire three hours. I think I got a B in the course.

3)Nope. I do not have any final test related nightmares. I like tests.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Artist of the Week: Army Base!

This week’s artist is Jake. Since Jake now believes that I should not take his picture unless it’s his idea we’ll have to settle on this group photo.

threebrothers
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I love this picture of my three sons and it is somewhat appropriate since Nate helped a little and Max is very much enamored of the base.

The base itself is composed of wooden blocks and is dotted about with Jake’s army men and the various military vehicles we have about the house.

armybase
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

As always with Jake, it is a true building. There are entrances at ground level for both sections and a ladder poking up through the roof of one. The only deviation from the military theme is Filch manning the Lego lookout tower.

So far it has been up for two days and I’m not sure how much longer it will last.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ponies and Ice Cream!

Ponies and Ice Cream

I got the new camera today.

So to celebrate here is a Rebecca (and Max too!) enjoying some ice cream with one of her ponies.
ponies&icecream
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I missed having a digital camera.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Boom!

This weekend we had all sorts of sporty happenings planned for Saturday. Jake had a game scheduled at 9:15 am, with the expectation of showing up at 8:30 am, against the “South” team. (Our soccer club has enough decent players to field two teams in Jake’s age group. The teams are referred to as North, Jake’s team, and South, the A level team. As an interesting side note even though the overall quality of play is better on the South team Jake can still completely shut down a couple of their players when his head is in the game.) Max and Rebecca had a 9:45 am game two fields over from Jake’s game and Larry (the coach) wanted the team to show up at 9:30 am. And then Nate had an 11:00 am baseball practice. Oh as an added bonus Nate also had piano trophy judging at 12:55 pm way over on the West End of Richmond (man everything has a Wikipedia entry). A solid half hour drive from all our sports oriented shenanigans.

Originally the judging was scheduled for 9:15 am, but I thought that was insane and rescheduled it. I though it was better to miss half of practice than try to juggle it with all the soccer stuff.

Then this happened (scroll down to 9:20 am).

It was overcast when Larry drove Jake out to the fields. Shortly afterwards we had a brief cloudburst at our home, but then the rain ended. Larry called me from the field and said it was raining were he was and with no sign it was letting up. He would keep me posted on what was happening.

As I loaded up the van with our two youngest soccer players and Nate I noted that the sky had gotten progressively darker and we now had a steady rainfall. This did not look very promising for a soccer game, but I pressed on. Everybody had a raincoat and I brought a big umbrella along for good measure. I then drove over to where the games were located. We pulled into the park and after a bit of casting about found an actual parking space (this at times can be a bit of a challenge).

Just as I lifted the rear hatch I thought I heard the distant rumble of thunder. Hmmm, methinks that the games will be called. I then herded my charges out of the parking lot and towards the fields. I didn’t bother with the folding chair, but I still had a plastic bag containing my purse and spare soccer shirts and a large umbrella. Nate was very helpful and carried the big mesh bag with water bottles and soccer balls. Halfway there my cell phone rang. As I fumbled about juggling the umbrella and trying to dig out my phone I missed the call. It was Larry so I called him back. He wanted to know where we were. I told him we were almost at the little bridge leading to the field and hung up. At this point there was thunder booming about and the fields were rapidly emptying. I felt like a salmon fighting its way upstream. A couple of friends called out to me saying that the games were canceled. I would nod my head and tell them that I was trying to meet up with my husband, who was one of the coaches.

At this point I abandoned the use of the umbrella and furled it up. It struck me as a bad idea to be walking about with a huge open umbrella during a thunderstorm. I finally spied my husband and we stopped to confer. It turns out Jake’s game had started. Only seven kids showed so there would be no substitutes. Jake was playing very well and Larry was really enjoying the game. Larry then rushed back to Jake’s game since it looked like the game was being halted. We would meet up again after Jake was collected.

A few minutes later Larry reappeared with a thoroughly drenched and very happy Jake. Jake had a big smear of mud on his nose from heading the ball and I was very sad I was not able to capture that image (my new camera is currently somewhere between here and NJ). The players were told to seek shelter and the game would resume. If the thunder stopped. Maybe.

It was clear, however, that the recreational games were over for the day. We decided I would drive my slightly soggy crew home and Larry would remain behind with Jake. Hopefully he would get a clearer picture about what is going on.

Shortly after I got home and got everybody changed into dry clothes, the phone rang. It was one of Nate’s coaches. Baseball practice was cancelled. What a surprise. All that was left was Nate’s piano judging and that is unaffected by the weather.

Half an hour later Larry came home. Soccer was done for the day and we would find out later when the game would be replayed.

After lunch Larry took Nate to his piano teacher’s house and it looks like Nate did a decent job. It is not a given that he’ll be awarded a trophy, but he did put in a good effort and the judging takes in account the age of the student and difficulty of the pieces. Oh and one of the pieces was Nate’s own composition, “Torpedo.”

So the results of the days weather piano 1, soccer 0

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Summer Ride

Your Summer Ride is a Beetle Convertible

Fun, funky, and a little bit euro.
You love your summers to be full of style and sun!

Well that’s an appropriate summer ride for me considering that I used to have a bug.

My only objections are to “a little bit euro” tag and that it is the new beetle. Call me old fashioned, but I like my Volkswagen bug to have it's engine in the back and the trunk up front.

This would be a nice one to own or maybe this one. Either way it would be fun to tool around in one.

Friday, April 21, 2006

What I Learned During Passover

Last night we celebrated the end of Passover with pizza. No more giant unsalted crackers, just wonderful, soft and tasty bread.

Jake had his soccer practice last night and it was my turn to run the car pool. Larry met me at the field so I could pick up some pizza on the way home and he would drive Jake and two of his team mates home.

Max, Rebecca and Nate were giddy over the prospect of real pizza. Matzo pizza is okay, but it is not the genuine article.

However, the excitement was not enough to keep Max awake on the ride home. When we finally pulled into the garage in the sunset’s lengthening shadows, Max was sound asleep. I tried rousing him in the car, but all I got was a sleepy form snuggled against my shoulder as I picked him out of his car seat. Once inside he awoke just enough to agree to sit at the table for dinner. But once he was seated he laid his head down and slept some more. The remaining two bounced about in anticipation of the pizza.

When I finally got them to settle down I gave them each (Max included) a slice of pizza. After a great deal of prodding I got Max to truly wake up. As he groggily surveyed his plate his first words were “Where is the matzo?” In his sleepy state he had forgotten that we were having real pizza. He was a little upset at first, but he got over it.

Any way this is what I learned the past eight days.

According to Rebecca “Matzo is stupid.”

Nate likes bringing charoset to school, but “Some of the kids at school think it looks like throw-up.”

Max found the lack of ice cream cones to be the most horrible thing in the world and caused him to say: “It makes me mad and I’m not happy with you mommy.”

Jake viewed all baked goods with a great deal of suspicion until I assured them that they really were kosher for Passover. This morning he told me that he was amazed at how much of our daily diet has some sort of chametz.

If I think the instructions for cooking the potato based pasta is wrong I should go with my instincts. The package said 10 minutes; I thought 3-5 was more probable. I cooked it for 9 minutes and got a disgusting gluey mess.

Pasta sauce can help a little with gluey messes, but not much.

We all know about me and macaroons.

Everybody likes matzo ball soup.

I make killer Passover brownies.


So on that note here is my recipe for Passover brownies. It is a modified version submitted by Judy Paschen in BETH Elegant Cooking, Temple Beth El Sisterhood Madison, WI.

1 cup shortening (Passover)*1
4 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs, well beaten
1 tsp vanilla (orange or lemon juice may be used in place of vanilla)*2
¾ cup matzo cake meal
½ tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans*3

Melt shortening and chocolate. Add sugar and mix well. Add beaten eggs and vanilla, then cake meal and salt, stirring thoroughly with each addition. Remove from heat and add chopped nuts. Spread batter in a well greased 13 x 9 pan.*4 Bake at 400 for about 18 minutes. *5 Makes about 32 bars.

*1 I use butter, parve margarine would work too.
*2 All together now, 1 cup of chocolate chips.
*3 I like vanilla.
*4 I use a 9 x 9 pan. I like thick and gooey brownies.
*5 Unless I want to incinerate my much thicker brownies, 350 for 50 minutes is a much better bet.

Meryl got one yesterday and she thought it was pretty good.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Thursday Three: Special News Bulletin

We interrupt this blog to post the following message from our affiliate Weevil station in Birmingham:
The Possum Broadcasting Company is experiencing technical difficulties. Instead of our regular programming, the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three Newsreader Popularity Contest will be aired. We will return to our regular programming as soon as possible.

We wish to thank our East Carolina affiliate WJIM for providing the content for this program, and we encourage our viewers to comment with your thoughts on this opinion survey. Those who wish to complain about the question choice should take that up with WJIM.

1. Who is your favorite local television anchor?
2. Who is your least favorite local television anchor?
3. Have you ever known of anyone in your local market who made it to The Big Show with a national network gig?

Audience members are encouraged to leave your answers in the handy comment area, or to leave a link to your own station.

As a programming reminder, "Luther's Garage" will air from 1:23 a.m. to 1:29 a.m. on April 21. "Mincemeat Party with Miss Rozelle" will follow at 1:35 a.m., and will be rebroadcast on Sunday, April 30, immediately after the "Dr. Wayne G. Spraddle Gospel Miracles with Signs and Wonders Outdoorsman's Show."

1) In my market I don’t have any particular favorite anchor. I do however have a favorite weather guy, Mike Goldberg. So by default I watch his station.

Local stuff aside I do have a favorite “local” TV anchor. She is Suzanne Goldklang in Bangor, Maine. While googling her I found this article which contains the best quote: “All news anchors have to do is sit still, read their copy and look good around the head and shoulders. They don't even have to wear pants.”

Anyhoo, she is my husband’s cousin and is a really fun person to be around. Years and years ago (possibly when dinosaurs still ruled the earth) Larry and I would go to NYC for New Years Eve. Instead of the clich├ęd Times Square scene we would bounce from party to party under Suzanne’s direction and then crash at her place or in later years at Larry’s parents’ apartment at thirty third and third. One year I clearly remember dancing on the bar at the Gecko Bar and watching a friend of ours being dragged away by a new “friend.” The funniest was a late night/early morning subway ride with a pair of Drag Queens. I was in awe of their stiletto heels and how they were still able to wear them at such a late hour, that and the serious five o’clock shadow peeking out of their heavy makeup. Ah good times, good times.

2) There was one Richmond anchor, who has since been replaced, that was memorable for his “deer caught in headlights” look. He was particularly vapid (so vapid that I can’t remember his name) and I was glad to see him go.

3)Yes I do know of one person that has gone on to the big time from little ol’ Richmond. Bob Woodruff worked for the local CBS affiliate from 1992-1994. As you can imagine he has been a big story on our local news broadcasts. And I have to add that I think he is very cute. I do like the combination of blue eyes and dark hair.

Beeeeeep thus ends our special post. We will now return to our regularly scheduled Frivolity with Matzo, a special 8 part series ending tonight. Tune in and watch small children gorge themselves on toast before staggering off to bed.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Artist of the Week: Cookies

Rebecca loves to help me out in the kitchen. Whenever I’m making something she is right there next to me, standing on one of the little step stools we have about the house. She is always happy to lend a hand by adding the ingredients and mixing them in.

A couple of weeks ago I was making cookies when Rebecca announced she would make cookies too. I expected her to do something similar to what she has done before. To wit: make pretend cookies and serve them over by the kids’ play kitchen.

But I was wrong.

Instead she got a piece of paper and made this

cookies
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

a nice plate of chocolate chip cookies.

Such a clever little girl.

sillyRebecca
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Happy Birthday to My Mom

Today is my mother’s birthday. I wrote about her last year. She is all moved into her new house and is very happy there.

My parents first home was smack dab on the beach and was a very modern affair. Note the word was. They both loved being on the water, but the whole thing was swept away by a hurricane. After that experience my parents decided to abide the biblical passage to “build on rock.”

Here is a picture of my parent’s in front of their second house.

Nana_and_Grandpa_Ralph
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This was the house I spent the first 11 years of my life. It is a very old house, well over 200 years old. It has a dirt basement with a stream bisecting the floor, an early version of indoor running water. They didn’t do much to alter the house except improve the upstairs bathroom and expand the kitchen. Both of my parents liked to cook and the original kitchen was far too small to accommodate them both. I loved that house and I very sad to leave it, except for one peculiarity of its location.

The funny part of building on rock was that the house is on a magnetic ridge. As a result every thunderstorm in the area would end up over our house. One time a lightening strike blew the electrical box off the side of the house. As a result I was rather phobic of thunderstorms for a large portion of my life.

Her new house is an old house, but not nearly as old as her second one. It is a small neat house with a large yard, next to a park and smack dab in town. An ideal house for her and a fun place for her grandchildren to visit.

Today she had a nice day filled with fun, food, friends and phone calls.

Happy birthday Mom, I hope you get to the post office tomorrow.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Well That Didn't Work

That’s it. I give up, I can’t make macaroons.

For the past couple of years I give it a shot during Passover and I’m always disappointed with the results; too dry, too flat, or not flavorful.

This year I made chocolate ones and it was a disaster. I actually burned a batch. My first batch was under done, so back into the oven. I messed around with the next batch, got distracted and burned it. The remainders were too flat and not chewy enough. That and the difficulties in removing them from the pan, well the results were not pretty. I ended up with a small tin of cookies and a medium sized bag of crumbs.

I love a good macaroon. When I was in high school I would stop by a particular bakery once a week and get a scrumptious plain almond macaroon. It was big, thick, chewy and oh so delicious. I dislike the ones with coconut and here I learned that coconut was originally added to extend the shelf-life.

Since then I have found that I have a pretty good eye for a tasty macaroon. One time I was with a co-worker in San Francisco at a conference. She had spent the bulk of the day suffering from an intense migraine and had missed dinner. That evening our group planned on going on a bit of a walking tour of the city. By then J. was feeling much better and she came along to find something to eat. We found a New York style deli and stepped inside. As she was paying for her sandwich I noticed the macaroons. I pointed them out to her and said they looked good. She looked blankly at me and said she had never eaten one. So I then said well now I’m going to buy you one. She tried to pay for it herself, but refused to let her pay for the cookie. The cashier even joined in and said something along the lines of “Honey if she wants to buy you a cookie, let her.” I paid for four cookies and gave her one. Clutching our bags we walked on. Back at the hotel I dived into the bag and I was not disappointed. Neither was J. she was very appreciative of the cookie and looked forward to having more in the future.

I guess I’ll have to buy mine in the future. I think I’ll give these a shot sometime soon. The retailer is not far from my mom’s so I can maybe sample a few before splurging on a tub.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I Wanna Take Pictures

So it’s official, Frankencamera has bit the dust. Now I am looking in earnest for a new camera. I like having rechargeable AA batteries, a viewfinder and good optics, but other than that the field is wide open. Fuji has a neat looking camera and this Sony intrigues me as well.

So I’m asking y’all if you have any opinions I would love to read them.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Caramel Matzoh Crunch

I tried out a new treat this year for Passover. I actually found the recipe last year near the end of Passover and never tried it. This year I rediscovered it while I was rifling through my recipes for something new. It looked easy so decided to give it a shot.

It is very tasty. Of course how can you go wrong combining brown sugar, butter and chocolate? The matzoh makes for a nice crunchy base that doesn’t compete with the yummyness on top.

The recipe was created by Marcy Goldman and is from her “A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking.” It is reprinted here with her permission.

It is a snap to make and I got to use my Silpat instead of parchment paper.

I don’t have any pictures, but you can see an image over here (you have to scroll down).

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thursday Three: Leftover Junk

This week Terry presents us:
The Axis of Weevil Thursday Three, “Slapdash, Thrown Together, Mish-Mash of Leftover Junk” Edition!

::golf applause::

Being that such a thing as delivering three probing and exciting questions each week to you, our wonderful reading audience, requires such a tremendous degree of discernment and taste, of necessity it means it that there will be on occasion some questions that simply do not meet our high standards.

These questions may be illogical, or mere sentence fragments that do not even rise to the level of actual interrogatories, or they even might have been produced with inferior grades of vowels and consonants. Each of these sub-normal constructions are swiftly pulled from the production process before they ever litter your computational device, insuring you of the highest quality and enjoyment.

Unless, of course, we don’t have any questions, in which case we send a staff member to the basement and grab some of the ones that didn’t quite work.

BUT, to keep you from believing you are being given short shrift, we lovingly apply a content label specifying that they are of the category “Entertaining and Diverse Potpourri of Miscellany,” and ask you to be just as satisfied with them as if they were indeed the finest quality inquiries to which you are accustomed.

SO, for today’s episode, each of you answer the following by leaving a comment below, or by leaving a link to your personal online journal (what some persons call a “Weblog” or “blog”).

1. What is your favorite computer time-waster: Solitaire, Minesweeper, Online Question-Answering Memes, Mahjong, or other. Please specify why.
2. What is the stupidest thing you have ever done with lumber?
3. If you awoke one day and realized your dream of becoming a famous author had come true, what would the title of your second novel be?
4. BONUS QUESTION! How many previous Thursday Threes have been published on Possumblog?
Now then, go off to the luxury of your easy chair and answer those and let everyone see what you have to say.

1) Waste time? People waste time on their computers? I’m shocked I tell you, shocked.
Now that I have gotten that out of the way a little dose of reality will intrude this space. I’m fond of all four that are listed. I forget about minesweeper and the like until I see one of the kids playing. Then I have to reestablish myself as the high scorer. I’m also very fond of the various “productivity enhancers” that can be found over at Dave Barry’s blog. Oh and this thing can be a massive time sink.

2) This one is a little tougher. There is the time I ripped a plank in half on a table saw in a rather unorthodox manner (I was very careful and I was wearing glasses) or maybe building our own shed (which is still a work in progress). Oh I know! It was when my brother and I collected all the random bits and pieces of lumber from the barn one summer and made a track down our very steep sledding hill. Then we took our skateboards to the top of the tracks to ride our homemade “alpine slide.” We were lucky that we didn’t get seriously injured.

3) The title of my second novel would be “And Then They Left Home.”

4) A boatload, but none in the summer.

And now I have to go make some yummy mortar i.e. charoseth.

Happy Passover!

This year I was caught a bit flat footed. I had stocked up on our Passover necessities before disappearing to Georgia, but I was just not mentally ready. I partially blame our secular calendar which pegs the start of Passover being sundown today. Oops, it was actually yesterday.

But I was able to pull my socks up and whip up a nice meal with a roast chicken and potatoes. We didn’t do a full blown Seder last night. It is just too hard when 1/3 of the attendees don’t read. We settled on having wine, matzo and a cup for Elijah. Tonight we will be attending our temple’s community Seder. We have attended previous years and have always found it enjoyable.

So enjoy your second night of Passover and next year in Jerusalem!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

14 Years and 2 Days

Monday was Rally’s 14th birthday. I didn’t remember until late last night. Between post-road trip burn out and dealing with an ailing Nate it completely slipped my mind.

Not that she cares or even knows.

So today we picked up a double quarter pounder with cheese (hold the onions please) for a birthday cake. Add a few baby carrots for candles and we were good to go.

The kids and I clustered around here and did a particularly tuneless rendition of “Happy Birthday” to the old girl. All three dogs inhaled the cake/burger in record time.

She has aged a great deal since last year. She has a hard time moving about and sometimes she gets stuck. But she still hates crows with a passion.

Just the other day she spied one as I was carrying her down the deck stairs. She lifted her head, her ears perked up and she started to bark. When I placed her down she tried to charge forward, but her rear end betrayed her and she stumbled and fell. But she was undeterred. She staggered to her feet and gave the crows a proper scolding. It was a bittersweet moment.

Here is a picture from her younger days.

young2Rally
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Happy belated birthday old girl.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Red State, Blue State, ... Yellow State?

We have all heard about the red states and the blue states, but have you ever heard about the yellow states?

We have done a fair amount of traveling with our dogs. One summer Larry and I drove to Montana from Wisconsin, camping along the way.

Lewis&Clark
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Here is Crunch looking out towards the mountains while we were at the Lewis and Clark National Forest.

Then there were the endless trips back East when we were living in Wisconsin. Combine that with going to dog shows, Crunch has peed on a lot of states.

p-states
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Maps courtesy of www.theodora.com/maps used with permission.

This is a map with all of the states Crunch has peed on colored in yellow. A visit to a state is not complete without the customary watering of the trees. That is why some of the states remain blank.

The funniest was California. We were flying from DC to Portland, Oregon for the National in 2001. I was very pregnant with twins, but I was determined to go. Crunch was receiving his VC plaque and we had friends to visit in Portland. Crunch flew in the cabin with us (Larry, myself, Jake and Nate). This was Crunch’s first plane trip and he was a real trooper. On half of the flights the flight crew never even noticed him.

Originally our flight was from DC to Dallas and then Dallas to Portland. Unfortunately a massive storm front delayed our flight and we missed our connection. So we spent the night in Dallas. After much wrangling with the airline we were able to get a flight to Los Angeles and then another to Portland (the alternative without the LA connection would have gotten us in much later). When we touched down in LA I had to hustle Crunch across the airport to the doggy rest area. There he took a massive piss on LA. Go boy! The rest of the flight continued without incident.

It is highly unlikely that he’ll ever visit Alaska and Hawaii, but he could visit a few of the remaining lower 48. This past weekend resulted in a big yellow letter day when Crunch added Alabama to his map.

I don’t think John will ever be as well traveled as his father. The addition of kids has definitely slowed us down, but there is always hope.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The National on a Budget

The dog show I went to last week was the Dachshund Club of America’s National Specialty show. It is an annual affair that is hosted by a different Dachshund club each year.

A note of explanation:
DCA is the parent club of all the local level dachshund clubs in the USA. Pretty much all recognized breeds have a national parent club and smaller local level clubs. The parent club, in turn, is a member of the American Kennel Club. AKC is a club whose membership is comprised of clubs. In addition to the parent clubs; all-breed clubs, obedience clubs and so on are members of AKC.

The DCA National is a big deal. People come in from all over the US, Canada and a few other countries to attend. It is a place to see and to be seen. Generally people bring their best to DCA. It is an honor for your dog to just place (2nd-4th) in its class. I try to go when money, time and distance allow (the big exception was Portland, but Crunch was getting his VC plaque and I wanted to receive it in person). In the dozen years I have been actively showing this was my fifth National.

Anywho, it is a lot of fun and I get to visit all my dachshund friends.

I only took Crunch with me and at 13 ½ this will probably be his last National. John is young and he still has some maturing to do. I can’t afford to enter both of them and I’ll lose what little sanity I have by staying in a hotel room with two very active dogs and no backyard for them to run around in. In this post I detail the classes Crunch was entered in at the show.

Last Wednesday I drove down to Georgia with Crunch, Brad and Trudy all jammed into Larry’s Contour. The van would have been nice, but Larry needed it to shuttle kids around and the Contour has much better mileage. My first step in economizing, it is very easy to spend a lot of money at the National between the hotel, meals and shopping opportunities, and I wanted to be frugal. The next economy measure I took was to bring sodas, bread and cold cuts in a cooler. My room mate (another good way to cut down on costs) has a travel fridge and we planned on lunch in our room. Breakfast would be covered by the early morning hospitality rooms (fruit, bagels, muffins and coffee). All that was left would be dinner. I did spring for the awards banquet, but that still left three other nights.

I pulled in to the hotel at a bout 8:00 pm. The evening hospitality was still going full blast. I scored a plate of pizza bites and I got to see all the dapper dachshunds. Great a free dinner!

The next day, Thursday, I helped Kandee (my room mate) with the junior handlers and I got to go to the Wild Animal Safari and dinner for free! I share more about this later. All I’ll say now is that I got to see some cool beasties. So far the National on a budget was working out.

Friday was show time for Mr. Crunchy. Just as I was going into the ring another dog and handler followed us in.

What?????

In the catalogue Crunch was listed as the only Veteran. It turns out the catalogue was wrong and we had competition. Unfortunately my mind was still reeling from this concept (I thought I had first place in the bag and a spot in Best of Variety) so I did a less than stellar job. We were out handled, but we weren’t too shabby in the ring. So we got second place.

Poo!

Later on we went in again for stud dog class. Ironically we were up against the same dog and his get. I was much better prepared mentally and I did a decent job. We got second again, but it took the judge a much longer time to make his decision. The main thing was that Crunch looked great and a lot of people got to see him in action and what he can produce. The puppies did very well in their respective classes. Brad came in first and Trudy got 3rd in a class of ten, not bad!

Crunch all throughout this was wagging his tail and having a great time soaking up all the attention. He is such a ham.

That night I went out with a few friends to a great steak and seafood place, Jeanine's Restaurant, where they have great onion rings and very good prices. This was the first meal I had to pay for and, discounting the prepaid banquet, the last.

Saturday morning I cheered on Brad in the winners’ class. I was going to go sight seeing, but the weather was terrible and I watched the show instead. That night was the banquet. I sat with my friend Susan and exchanged snarky comments all night. It was great fun. I even chatted with one of the judges and told her how I appreciated her judging style. When she was making cuts for the finial variety winner she would send each group of excused dogs one more time around the ring. I thought it was very classy. The National is a showcase and her little gesture affirmed that.

Sunday morning dawned clear, bright and chilly. Before loading up to go I helped out the host club with room checks. I only worked for two hours, but they were very appreciative. I didn’t have to do it, but because I did I got noticed. Slowly, but surely I’m earning a good reputation in the dachshund world.

Then I was homeward bound, with a little side trip to Alabama. Callaway Gardens is very close to the border and it was an opportunity that was too good to miss. Crunch got to add to his list of states he has peed on and I’ve at least stepped on Alabama soil. I figure this will help maintain my status in the Axis of Weevil. It was only a rest area, but I did get an official “Welcome to Alabama” from the lovely staff. I’ll try to do a real honest to goodness visit some other time.

And that was my big trip to Georgia. The only other highlight was that I found a Steak n Shake in North Carolina. They have a new thing “Sippable Sundaes,” man are those good.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Longs and Wires and Smooths, Oh My!

I just back from Georgia (and Alabama too!) today.

It was a long drive, but lots of fun and worth the trip. There were over 300 dachshunds present in all colors, both sizes and all three coats.

I’ll tell you a bit more a bout it later.

Oh and the movie Best in Show? It’s not that far from the truth.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Artist of the Week: Dachshund!

It’s finally my turn to be the artist of the week.

Last February I volunteered to create my local Dachshunds club entry in the National Specialty’s Dapper Dachshund Sweepstakes. Each dachshund club in the US was mailed a plain white “autograph hound” that is just like this one sans the ribbon and pen.

We passed the toy around at the meeting and did a bit of brainstorming on what sort of theme we should use. One club member, Kathy, had the clever idea of it becoming a firedog since are meetings are usually at a local fire station.

After one trip to Walmart and a lot of trolling on the internet for suitably sized fireman outfits (Build-a-Bear Workshops was a goldmine) and miniature state flags I was able to make this:

Project25
Originally uploaded by dfcv.dapper.

(If you click through there is a boatload of pictures.)

I had a lot of fun creating Sparky (His official name is DFCV’s Firehouse Sparks). I spent a fair amount of time painting his body and building up the layers to the right shade of reddish brown with a light overlay of black in all the right places. It was very helpful to have the red dogs in the house!

reddogs2
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The costume’s jacket only required a little taking in and the pants needed to be shortened just a smidge. For the finishing touch I replaced the store’s badge on the hat with the club’s logo. Jake helped me select just the right shade of yellow for the background.

The club members were very pleased with the final results.

There are 37 entries and I think Sparky has a decent chance. I’ll let y’all know when I get back from Georgia. I’m heading down today and I’ll be returning on Sunday, so it will be quiet here until then unless I’m able to finagle internet access.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Frankencamera

This is our digital camera.

camera
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I would like you to note the odd protuberance on the right hand side (blue arrow). That, my friends, is my handy dandy string tensioner and pencil sharpener. Yes, we have the world’s only combination camera and pencil sharpener.

Mind it wasn’t always like this. Originally it was just a nice plain 2 MP digital camera. Then I dropped it. The battery cover broke and the camera no longer worked.

Being who I am, I decided to see if I could fix it. The camera was already 3 years old so I did not bother to take it in. I figured it would have cost more to fix it than what it was worth. I found if I could press the cover close (the little tab that keeps it shut had snapped off) the camera would still work.

After carefully examining the camera I realized I could tie a string around the camera to hold the cover closed. I could easily position the string (yellow arrow) so that would not interfere with any of the buttons. The one problem was that I could not get the string to be tight enough to hold the cover in place. I used a number of objects to tighten the string (a small rock, a pencil, etc.) when I hit upon the pencil sharpener. It looks a bit like this one, it is rectangular box shape with a ridge on the long sides that nicely holds the string in place.

This arrangement has worked well for the past two plus years. Sadly I got the camera wet, as in sat in a puddle wet, this past weekend. I dried off the batteries and recharged them and tried the camera.

It works, sort of. You have to press the camera body in just the right place after you turn it on. But it does work!

I guess I should start thinking about getting a new camera.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Penicillin is Our Friend

Saturday Rebecca was still not up to snuff. While her brother went off to their game I took her to the pediatrician. I dislike going there on a Saturday, but she really did need to go. She was no longer vomiting, but she was still very lethargic.

So an hour and a half later, one finger stick, a throat swab and a urine check we got a diagnosis. Drum roll please, it turns out she has strep throat, our family’s disease of choice.

The vomiting had thrown me off. So she got a shot of penicillin (normally we avoid shots, but the Dr. and I thought it was best, since we wanted to be sure she got the full dose) and then we were on our merry way.

Six hours later she was much improved and wanted to go bike riding. She only lasted one lap down the cul-de-sac and back, but she is our happy bright eyed girl again.

Project77
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bonk

In addition to the wonderful world of blogs I also subscribe to a couple of dog oriented e-mail lists. One is focused on dachshunds and the other is a much more generalized dog list called Canine-L.

On Canine-L we share stories about our dogs, ask and give training advice, give support when needed and any other thing that is dog related. It is an international list, from the backwaters of rural China to almost every state in the Union.

This past week this little gem of a story was posted by Denise.

Ellis has taught himself a new command. I would love to take credit for it, but he came up with this on his own.

Ellis really can't see anymore.

He is also very unsteady on his feet. So when he starts moving he often bumps into things. At first when he would bang into something I would say "bonk" for no particular reason. A few times I anticipated the "bonking" before he actually made contact with the object. We are talking nano-seconds here.

Then I noticed that if I said "bonk" soon enough, Ellis would actually slow down and change direction. If he was boxed into a corner, I would say "bonk", "bonk", "bonk" until he turned enough to find his way out.

Of course this means that whenever Ellis is moving I really have to be watching out for him. And since he is a bit hard of hearing, I must also say "bonk" rather loudly.

I'm sure the neighbors are wondering what is going on when we are outside.

Denise and assorted springers