Friday, May 31, 2013

Turtle Crossing

Turtle Crossing by Teckelcar
Turtle Crossing, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Twice this week the dogs and I have encountered rather large turtles during the morning dog walk. Both times the turtles were red eared sliders and were roughly the size of a bike helmet. I'm pretty sure they were different turtles since Thursday's turtle had a scar on it's shell, most likely from a boat's propeller, and today's turtle had an unblemished shell.

Both times the dogs completely lost their collective biscuit. Once they caught sight of the turtles they were howling and lunging against their leashes. Thus I couldn't get very close for a proper turtle picture. The closer I would get the more obnoxious the dos would become, driving the turtle away far us as fast as it could.

Hopefully the two I saw will not return to the roads and stay low. It would be a pity to have them picked off by a car.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Kiss

The Kiss by Teckelcar
The Kiss, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Happy anniversary sweetie.

22 years ago you proposed and I accepted.

21 years ago we said I do.

Best decisions ever.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Artist of the Week: Engineering Brilliance

A few days ago I bumped into the story of a Chinese farmer building his own prosthetic arms. I am completely in awe of this man. He is a real life version of Tony Stark in a cave with a box of scraps.

Sun Jifa is completely self taught. Frustrated by the largely cosmetic arms he initially got after he lost his arms from an explosion, he tinkered with them until he created fully functional arms. If fact his prosthetic arms are so good others have been seeking him out for their own pair. He has created a successful business and is now able to support his family.

Below is a video of his story.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cheesecake with Strawberry and Rhubarb Compote

So yesterday this happened.

I asked Larry what he wanted for dessert yesterday and he said cheesecake. Initially I demurred, having just made a chocolate one on Thursday to bring to the Friday congregational potluck and it being a dessert that our guest, Meryl, did not care for. He then thought strawberry rhubarb pie would be good. That too was on Meryl's no fly list, so I said the heck with it all, I'll just make Larry happy and make the cheesecake. At that point, with the whole strawberry-rhubarb pie thing in my head, I had the idea of making a strawberry and rhubarb compote as a topping.

I have never made any sort of a compote before so it was off to the internets for research.

I hit upon this one by David Lebovitz.. It read well, was quick and easy to make,  and (this is key) I had most of the ingredients. All I needed was rhubarb, which was a bit hard to find, but not impossible. The end result was sublime. It was fabulous straight out of the pot and on the cheesecake.

As for the cheesecake, Meryl tried a tiny crumb and discovered the magic of a really good homemade cheesecake. Now she can't wait for the next time I make a chocolate one.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mansions of the Lord

Amongst the barbecues, parades, and parties don't forget the the reason for this holiday. Remember all those who have fallen and made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Of Towels and Tournaments

IMG_0735 by Teckelcar
IMG_0735, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Big doings this weekend. Saturday was both Towel day  and the start of the soccer tourney that Rebecca's team was entered and Sunday was the conclusion of said tourney.

Now Towel Day is the celebration of Douglas Adams and his works and what better way to mark it than a reference to the Hitchhikers Guide to theGalaxy. To whit:
Towel Day: A Tribute to Douglas Adams
Monday 14 May 2001 06:00am PDT
Douglas Adams will be missed by his fans worldwide. So that all his fans everywhere can pay tribute to this genius, I propose that two weeks after his passing (25 May 2001) be marked as "Towel Day". All Douglas Adams fans are encouraged to carry a towel with them for the day.
So long Douglas, and thanks for all the fish!
D Clyde Williamson, 2001-05-14
As you can see both Dell and John are in the proper Towel Day spirit and have their towels at hand, or rather paw.

tournament time by Teckelcar
tournament time, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Now as far as soccer was concerned, it was a lovely weekend. Tempertures were low and it was not raining.The girls started with a bang and handily won their first game on Saturday. The second one far closer and we lost by two goals. However, this was good enough to secure a berth in the semi-finals as a second seed.

Sunday dawned clear and bright and the girls were keen to go. They were playing a team we had lost to twice during the regular season, the first time our team was crushed and the second time (a mere two weeks ago) I think we lost by just one goal. Our team had come a long way since last fall and wee ready to take the other team on.

It was an incredible game to watch as the two teams really picked up their level of play. They battled back and forth with both teams pulling out all the stops. The final score was 0 - 0, but it was far from boring. At the end of the game the players on the pitch were called to the center by the referee. He set them up for a penalty shootout to determine which team would go on to the finals. It was a real nail-biter and we ended up missing by one. Our girls were sad, but not crushed. They knew they had done an outstanding job.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Inside Out

inside out by Teckelcar
inside out, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I took this picture a while ago up in Richmond. A garage off of one of the cobblestone alleys had been left open along with the door leading out. I loved the whole feel of the scene, the contrast of the shadowed dark wall with the light ceiling and floor, the starkness of the space, and the open doorway in the back leading out into the light.

I'm pleased how this image is straight out of the (phone) camera. No retouching of any sort was needed. Heck I didn't even need to do any cropping

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Silly Girls

Sky Blue Silliness
Last weekend was the end of the regular soccer season and thus begins the post season parties.

Rebecca's team, Sky Blue, had their party a few hours after their last game. It was just enough time to get cleaned up and head on over to Extreme Laser Tag. The girls got to play a couple of rounds of laser tag, eat cupcakes and pizza, and have a good time goofing off with each other.

We got a few more traditional team type pictures, but this one, when they were told to be silly, is by far the best. The two grown-ups in the back were the coaches, a husband and wife duo, and they look a bit amused by the silliness that surrounds them. It was a lovely party.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Artist of the Week: Spring Band Concert

Last week was the 35th annual Spring Concert for Jacob's wind symphony. They did a great job on the four main pieces: Time Sift. Heartbeat Five, Sun Cycles, and Passages plus the traditional end of Spring concert set: Armed Forces Songs (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard) and The Stars and Stripes Forever. This year there was an added bonus in the audience, Jacob's grandparents  were able to come down for the concert.

I selected Sun Cycles to post because of a rather odd connection we have with the song. It was composed by Brian Balmages as a commission by the Patrick Marsh Middle School in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, just outside of Madison. We had lived in Madison for oh about 7 years and still have friends in the area and in fact one family still lives in Sun Prairie.

Funny how you can find connections in the strangest places.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Baking With Julia- Savory Brioche Pockets

Savory Brioche Pockets by Teckelcar
Savory Brioche Pockets, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's challenge on Baking with Julia was Savory Brioche Pockets. For the full recipe and many pretty pictures head on over the the challenge's host, Loaves and Stitches.

I enjoyed making these little pockets full of yum, though they are a bit labor intensive with the brioche dough. I planned a head this time and decided very early on to tweak the recipe more to our liking. I love asparagus, but not everybody in my family can or will eat it. Therefor it was time for a bit of substitution.

Spinach came to mind, I could promote the pockets as a sort of spinach pie. So I blanched the spinach and used roughly a heaping tablespoon per pocket. The end result was quite good even with my forgetting to add the chives (and dang it I was looking forward to cutting back my seemingly immortal chives), all it needed was an extra bit of salt. I don't know if I'll make them again, the dough is a bit fussy, but they were a very tasty experiment.

Monday, May 20, 2013

West of the Moon

The following is an interesting little film partially based on the interviews of several hundred children about their dreams. I found the film over at Short film of the Week and you can learn more about the director Brent Bonacorso, over at his site.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Quiet Place

National Gallery by Teckelcar
National Gallery, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I think one of my favorite places on Friday was this quite little garden just to the side of the main entrance to then National Gallery.

It was cool and shady with comfortable benches facing the fountain. Max and I relaxed there after all the activity and walking in the Museum of Natural History. The National Sculpture Garden between the two was nice, but this spot was a better place to rest.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Capital Field Trip

the Capital and Max by Teckelcar
the Capital and Max, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Today was the big fifth grade field trip to Washington DC and I got to spend the day playing tourist with Max.

Our school does the big DC trip a little differently than most others. Instead of large groups of students being herded about on a set schedule we have as many parent chaperons willing to come allowing  us to scatter to the for winds. Each chaperon has one, possibly two students, we are dropped off at the Museum of Natural History at roughly 10 and picked up at the Air and Space Museum precisely at 2:30 pm. DC traffic being what it is if we are just 5 minutes late on our departure another hour is added to the drive.

As a result the kids get to go to the museums they want.

Max chose the Museum of Natural History, the National Gallery, and the Air and Space Museum. The later was only the result of A) we had lunch there and B) that was our pick up point. He really wanted to go to the Lincoln Memorial, but with a half hour hike to and from he decided it wasn't worth the effort. The weather was perfect, not at all the scorcher that was originally forecast. I had a good time as did everybody else on the trip.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Special Delivery

mailbox nest by Teckelcar
mailbox nest, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Once again a pair of birds have taken residence in the newspaper/junk flier slot beneath our mailbox. this time around we have bluebirds instead of the usual wren that we have had the past few years.

Sadly one egg has been lost, we found it on the road, beneath the mailbox. Dell of course ate it, but it was clearly cracked before the dog gobbled it up. At least one egg is left, so we hope that the nest hasn't been abandoned.

It's a good thing we don't get a daily paper.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Artist of the Week: Lemon Squares

me with hat by Teckelcar
me with hat, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
It's my turn to be the artist of the week. Once in a while I like to toot my own horn.

First off the picture, it is the dreaded selfie. I took it after mowing the lawn for no other reason than I like my hat. I've had this hat for nigh on 17 years. I got it in a small shop in Westport Ontario. We had gone of vacation with friends that have access to a fishing cabin on Bob's Lake. The hat is pigskin suede and  although I don't wear it very often, I am rather fond of the hat.

Maybe one of my goals should be to wear the hat more often. Another good one would be to allow other people to take my picture. As self portraits go it is not too bad. At least I am not making a duck face (Why to people do that? Nobody looks good with that expression.). Either way I should stop hogging the camera and allow for more photographic evidence that I exist.

Lemon Squares by Teckelcar
Lemon Squares, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Now on to the lemon squares.

I have quite a repertoire of baked goods and sometimes I lose track of the minor favorites. The lemon squares are a good example. I was trying to think of what to send my mom for Mother's Day when I remembered that she really likes my lemon squares. They are a breeze to make and would also work for the teacher luncheon. I ended up making three batches, one for my mom and a double for the school. Jacob bemoaned the fact that all he was getting were the trimmings and the rejects. I promised I would bake one more batch for the family.

The squares were a much bigger hit this time around. All the kids will eat them as opposed to just Jacob. I don't see these hanging around for any length of time.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Space Oddity

Odds are you have already seen this video, but if you haven't you are in for a treat. It is a brilliant reworking of David Bowie's Space Oddity being performed by Commander Chris Hadfield while on board the International Space Station.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Nana and the kids by Teckelcar
Nana and the kids, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I know I have posted this picture before, but it is one of my favorites. It's fitting for today since the picture has both my mother and the people that made me a mother.

I hope all the moms out there had a nice a day as I did, no deadlines or rushing off to be somewhere else. I got up when I wanted, went out for lunch when we were ready, and saw a movie when we arrived at the movie theater. It helps that we had a late lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant which rarely has a line and saw Iron Man 3 which has eleventy billion show times, so again no line.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Brothers and Best Friends

brothers by Teckelcar
brothers, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This is my favorite picture for this week.

Dell and John are very much bonded. They love to sleep near each other, so this is a common sight. They prefer to go outside together and have been know to wait at the top of the deck's staircase for each other begore venturing out to the yard.

As for the picture, I saw them sleeping in their dog bed and really noticed the play of light on the. It was one f the few breaks in the weathe5r this week and the sun was finally allowed to peek out of the grey skies. It was a bit tricky taking the picture and not have Dell pop up. As you can see I was successful in the end.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Rainy Day Chives

rain chive by Teckelcar
rain chive, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
For the past week and a half the weather has been wet, wet, wet. Soccer practices have been relocated or out right canceled from either rain or unplayable fields. The lawn is soaked, the playing fields are soaked, and everything is growing like mad.

This is my more than a decade old chives. Every year they die back over the winter and every spring they come back. Once in a while I toss in a bit more soil into the pot and make sure it is watered. The moss growing on the soil around the plants seems to hold in the moisture fairly well, helping the chives survive when we go traveling in the summer. I trim it back all summer long whenever I want fresh chives in my cooking.

This is my level of gardening, minimal effort with a great return.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Artist of the Week: Clay

Rebecca by Teckelcar
Rebecca, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's artist is Miss Rebecca. I took this picture at a school event promoting science at the Science Museum of Virginia. Her team did quite well, coming in first in a couple of individual events. The students did games such as flipping a spoon into a cup using another spoon, bouncing a ball into a fish bowl, and constructing a floating tower. The various teams were from different elementary schools in the district with each participating school fielding two teams k-2nd and 3rd-5th. The program is STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering. Art, and Math) and the idea behind it is to make science fun,  and it certainly was. A good time was had by all.

On the more artistic front Rebecca has that covered as well. Once again her artwork was selected for exhibit at the school district's festival of Arts and Sciences.

cottage by Teckelcar
cottage, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This year her grade was working with clay. Their primary assignment was to construct a house.Rebecca made a cute little cottage with a small pond in the front yard. It is a small sculpture, not even three inches across. It has a cheerful yellow roof that brings to mind thatching.

It is a cute little button of a house.

Dragon by Teckelcar
Dragon, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Rebecca also had a second clay sculpture on exhibit. It is an equally small dragon perched on a rock. I'm not sure how many students got to make a second sculpture. I do know there were far fewer of  these when compared to all the houses.

Anyhoo, I really like the dragon, she put a lot of effort into capturing all the details of her creation. I particularly like the dragon's expression. I don't know why I do, just that I like it.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Baking With Julia- Fresh Rhubarb Upside-Down (not so) Baby Cake

This week's Baking with Julia challenge was Fresh Rhubarb Upside-Down Baby Cake with the host being Erin over at When in Doubt... Leave it at 350. Hopefully she'll post the full recipe and at that point I'll fix the link to go directly to the recipe. Yay link works!

As y'all probably guessed by the title I did not make Baby Cakes, I didn't feel like messing around with my four inch pans and decided to make a 12 inch cake  alternative instead. And why yes I do have a 12 inch spring form cake pan, I'm hard core.

The resultant cake was delicious. There is nothing like fresh rhubarb and loved the flavor it imparted. I couldn't find crème fraîche nor did I feel like making it so I used the third alternative listed in the recipe, sour cream. It worked out very well, though I would like to try making the cake sometime with crème fraîche. Also I think it was easier to make it in one pan than 8 (!) mini cake pans, it would be  tricky dividing the caramel between all those pans. 

Oh and my one modification, I lined the cake pan so I wouldn't mess up the rhubarb when I turned out the cake. It was very easy to peel off after I removed the spring form pan from the overturned cake. 

This would make an excellent brunch or tea-time treat. Next time, and there will be a next time, I might just halve the recipe for a more manageable quantity of cake.

Monday, May 06, 2013

High Diving Giraffes

A bit of silliness for a grey Monday, courtesy of my friend Janet P.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Questions About Dog Food

I ended up reading an article over on The Slate today titled A Dog-Eat-Dog World, Does your pet’s food contain dead pets? The article itself was rather poorly written, but the comments are excellent.

I have been aware for some time, at least a decade or so, that commercial dog food runs the gamut from abysmal to excellent. The key thing is to read the label. Avoid foods with generic terms such as protein meal, if it doesn't specify the source then it could be anything. I like The Dog Food Advisor, it has a pretty comprehensive list of the foods available plus they post pet food recalls.

If you don't understand what the ingredients are then odds are you wouldn't want to feed it to your pet.

Thursday, May 02, 2013


wisteria by Teckelcar
wisteria, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Here's one more picture from my ramble about Richmond.

It"s the same plant from the previous post, just with a different take on the composition. I think I like this picture a little more, but the other one fit better in the context of the post. Either way I like both pictures.

Sadly the blooms are all starting to fade. I love the extravagant clusters that are formed with the delicate shades of purple with a hint of yellow in the throat. Every year I delight in their short lived abundance.

For me the blooms passing marks the end of spring. The trees are all fully leafed and the bare branches of winter are a dim memory. Soon it will be all too hot.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Artist of the Week: Surprise

Band by Teckelcar
Band, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The artist, or rather artists, of the week are Jacob's high school band, in particular the trumpet section.

Last Tuesday was the birthday of one of Jacob's band-mates. He is a fellow trumpet player and on a day he was out it was decided by the section that they would arrange for a surprise party. The asked the band director and she readily agreed. A request was made for cupcakes and I happily volunteered. The students planned the whole thing, the band director only got involved to help me coordinate the best time for the cupcake drop off.

cupcakes by Teckelcar
cupcakes, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The party was a big success. The birthday boy was completely surprised. He is not one of the popular crowd, just a socially awkward high school band kid who never would expect such a thing. Both the director and I thought it was a very sweet thing for the kids to do.

Before this I always thought band is a wonderful thing and now I definitely know it is. It like a big family and they all look out for each other.