Friday, May 23, 2014

Super Troopers For the Win!

Super TroopersThis year has been Jacob's senior year in high school. It has been a wonderful experience for him and he has learned so much. This fall he will be at Virginia Tech and our house will no longer be quite so full.

 As his high school career has been coming to a close he had one big final project, the hover car. The class was divided into teams with the assignment to build a hover craft. An integral part was to have a theme for the creation, not just for the car but for the team members as well. After some hard lobbying by Jacob's two team mates, they settled on the movie "Super Troopers." I found some "trooper shirts" at Party City and the guys used yellow duct tape for the stripe along the pant leg. Aviator sunglasses and a big old fake mustache for Jacob rounded out the look.

Today was the big competition for all the hover crafts. Team Super Troopers had created a very quick and nimble car, It passed the maneuverability portion with great style and speed. The team's driver, the other Jacob, was able to swing around the car and come to a very impressive stop at the end of the course. The next portion was the timed races. They didn't have the fastest car, the Duck Dynasty entry went off like a shot, but it's maneuverability won the day. They ended up winning the competition by a two second margin.

Jacob at one point observed that today they proved that a '93 Crown Victoria was faster than the USS Enterprise.

Monday, May 05, 2014

HAPPY DOGS in Australia

I admit it, I Pharrell Williams' Happy. The videos on his site, 24 Hours of Happy, are wonderful. I think this one, submitted by a dog trainer from Australia is one of my favorites. Because really, it's hard to top a dog in joie de vivre.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Turkey

TurkeyI was going through my pictures when I found this one from a few weeks back. I had fully intended to share it, but it got lost in the shuffle known as my life.

Anyhoo, I saw the turkey strolling across my neighbors lawn as I was leaving my street for some errand. For once I had my camera with me in the car and I was able to stop and take a few pictures before to made its way back into the woods. I don't get to see Our neighborhood's resident flock of turkeys, so it is a big deal when I do spot them. I find them to be far more interesting than the huge herd of deer that I get to see pretty much every day.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

I Love Purebred Dogs

John and DellToday was "National Purebred Dogs Day." The mixed breeds aka Heinz 57s and All Americans get TWO days (July 31 AND December 2) so why not one day to celebrate the intentionally bred to a standard dogs?

I love my purebred dogs because I knew exactly what I was getting. I am allergic to most heavily coated breeds, smooth dachshunds are much less of a problem. I adore Corgis, but the 24 hour, seven day a week shedding is murder for me to keep up with, hence the polyester of the dog world, smooth dachshunds, are my breed of choice. I like smart independent dogs that love me, but are not needy. I don't want a yappy dog, dachshunds have a surprisingly deep houndy bark, the better to hear them when under ground. I could go on and on on what I like about dachshunds.

Conversely I know I have dogs that love to dig, chase critters, and can be very stubborn. With consistant and firm training it is possible to work with these behaviors, by providing a safe and secure environment and redirecting them to approved areas to dig. I was able to train the red boys father, Crunch, to dig on command. From there I was able to get him to dig in the woods. Sadly I have been less successful with John and Dell. You can even enter your dachshund in den and field trails as an official outlet for their hunting, chasing, and digging needs.

Another advantage to having a well bred purebred is their health and temperament. So far the boys have only suffered from self inflicted and accidental health issues, from snake bites, to a dislocated shoulder (stupid squirrels taunting my boys), and the odd growth. As for their temperaments, well I chose the breeder known for happy, loving dogs with waggy tails. Both dogs love kids and view visitors to our home as new friends. There are a lot of ill bred dachshunds out there that are snappy and ill tempered. My dogs are beloved at the vet and the kennel for being the love bugs that they are.

So that is part of why I love my purebred dogs.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Artist of the Week: Salsa!

This week's artist is Jacob's trumpet teacher, or rather one of his many bands. Bio Ritmo, the band, has been around for a while and Mark is one of the horn players. His main instrument is the cornet, but he plays trumpet just as well. As for the video, it was shot around Richmond including the restaurant Cuba Cuba.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sprung

SprungSpring is at full throttle around here. The wisteria has exploded out of the azaleas, yellow tree pollen is everywhere, and the dogwoods are in full bloom. I love autumn for the crisp nights, but really spring is where it is at in the south.

We broke out the mowers this weekend, our lawn was a shaggy mess and desperately needed attention. There wasn't too much drama starting the tractor, it had one tire in need of air and the battery needed a boost. the one tricky bit was when Larry was almost done mowing and the mower deck quit working. Luckily it as just a cotter pin working loose and I knew all about it from last year. Technically it wasn't a cotter pin as I had used a heavy duty paper clip, but the end result was the same. This time I used a heavy duty key ring (sans keys) to hold the bits together. I am the queen of ad hoc tractor repair.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Writer's Block

A gang of convicts attempt to make a break from the prison for criminally poor writers.
Writers' Block from W├ľNKY Films on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Defender of the Home

Defender of the HomeWe acquired a plastic sword last year, it had been left in our yard during Halloween and since no one came looking for it so it has become part of our arsenal. Which means it spends a fair amount of time on the floor.

Today we looked down and saw John stretched out next to it, peacefully snoozing away. I took a few pictures and decided to go one better, I slid the sword over a bit and draped John's paw over the grip. He briefly looked up to see what was going on and went right back to sleep. He looks like such a valiant defender of the home. A job he takes very seriously in regards to deer, squirrels, birds. and the occasional rabbit. It just has to fit in his nap schedule.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Passover Ends with an Earth Day

Cake
Sunset today marks the end of another Passover. It was very nice that this year Passover coincided with the school's spring break. I only had to deal with packing school lunches for two days that were in line with Passover.It's not easy coming up with a palatable school lunch that is Passover friendly. Max today had the old peanut butter and matzoh sandwich and Rebecca opted for tomato soup on Monday.

So it is hard to live without regular bread and it's amazing how many things you have in your pantry that are off limits. However it is not all bread of affliction , we also get to have some amazing desserts like this chocolate tort. Ground almonds, butter, chocolate, eggs, sugar, and a smidgen of matzoh cake meal result in a delicious treat that gets topped with whipped cream.

 Dell and JohnMeanwhile today was Earth Day. I normally pay little heed to this particular celebration, but this year NASA was having a Global Selfie Day. I decided the red boys could join in the fun. I printed out a sign and plopped them on a bench for their photo session. They honestly didn't care about the whole thing, but they did like being outside during some gorgeous spring weather.

I think they would rather be celebrating Earth Day in a proper dachshund fashion like this guy being featured on Dream Dachshund rescue's Facebook page. Another good picture can be found over here. Earth Day done as only how an earth dag can do it.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Amanda Shires - Bulletproof (Live from Rhythm N' Blooms 2013)

I like to listen to the relatively local radio station WNRN, it is based in Charlottesville and plays a wide variety of music. The station is a sort of semi-professional college rado station. As a result i get to hear a fair amount of music before it becomes big. Case in point is this lovely song by Amanda Shires. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Happy Passover!


Getting ReadyToday was the first day of Passover and tonight was our congregation's Second night Community Seder. It is a small congregation, but it has a solid can do attitude and we self cater this big event. We make the whole thing, from matzoh ball soup, to two kinds of meat, taters and so on in the synagogue's kitchen while various desserts brought in (I made a rather decadent dark chocolate torte that was inhaled).

So this was the sight that greeted me when I arrived. Salads were being set up in the area next to the main hall. When it was time to settle down for the meal a couple of people from each table would bring them in. I thought it was a beautiful sight and promptly dug out my camera. I think there were 90 salads made and all but three were eaten. As always it was a great meal and a wonderful service. A nice way to start passover.

Monday, April 14, 2014

AKC National Obedience Championship: Man's Bond with His Dog

Such an amazing bond between man and dog. It is particularly remarkable since bull terriers are not known as an "obedience breed," they do not live to please. You have to convince them that it is a good idea. That said, the two work together and have done amazing things such as garnering an invite to the AKC obedience championship.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Diary of Clouds

April 10, 20014Since I have been unable to find a regular photo challenge to my liking I have set up a tumblr called A Diary of Clouds. In it I am going to post a daily picture of clouds. This turned out to be quite a challenge yesterday since the sky was pretty much cloudless until sunset and that was a close thing since I don't have a clear view of the horizon near my home. Luckily I knew a nice wide open spot near soccer practice and I was able to scoot on over at the last moment.

There will be no words, just pictures. I like having a regular challenge and I like how this makes me look up and around.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

We Interupt the Soccer

Lacrosse For a bit of Lacrosse.

I'm the soccer parent, I shuttle Max and Rebecca all over the place for their practices and games, when there is a conflict Larry pitches in. Nate, on the other hand, plays lacrosse. Larry loves the sport as well and was instrumental in getting Nate's school approved to field an actual lacrosse team next year. 

In the mean time Nate is on yet another team, but at least some of his current teammates are potential player's for his school's team next year. They are doing all right, they have won a couple of games so far and have lost some as well. It is a young team and it shows great promise. In a few years I think they will be a force to reckon. I saw my first game yesterday, for once it didn't conflict with my other duties. Nate had earlier asked if I would ever go and I realized that this was my big opportunity. It was fun, even with my extremely limited knowledge of the sport. Hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in a few more games.

Oh and just so you know, Nate is the one in red socks. With the helmets and pads on they all look the same so I really appreciated his choice of socks.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Artist of the Week: Of Wizards and Weavings

This week's artist is Rebecca.

Her artwork was once again included in this year's school district art show. Two of her pieces were included,  one being the weaving behind her head and the other being a clay sculpture.

Rebecca told me that her weaving was a depiction of the seasons. Winter is at the top, all white and very stark. Then there is a transition into spring with the addition of green, then followed by a few more colors for summer.  I like he colors she used and how she varied the weaving so that the warp yarn was at times visible. It works well in breaking up the white of the weft and the overall effect is that of snow melting. A nice little piece of weaving indeed

Now on to the clays culture.

The students were asked by the art teacher to create a wizard. In their journals the wizard was described and given various powers.  This is what Rebecca wrote:

My fox wizard can be invisible any time of day. She can not be seen on camera while invisible. And she can run super fast. And she can shoot lighting balls.

Her weakness is being tickled.

(Her journal had been set out for all to see.)

I like her little fox wizard. The cloak enveloping it w\has a lovely pattern of flowers and leaves. I think Rebecca is quite proud of her creation since she deliberately wore her fox t-shirt to the show.

Well done my darling daughter, you should be proud.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Fire!

Rifle drillYou know you live in the South and or a rural area when an integral component of a field trip involves the students learning how to handle civil was era guns.

That said, it was an educational field trip. Max's class went to Pamplin Park and we learned a great deal about life during the civil war. They have a huge collection of artifacts and a great audio tour of the museum. The guides were knowledgeable about the subject and were great at keeping us moving along while engaging the kids. This was not the first time for Max, but it was for me and I'm so glad I elected to chaperone. I learned quite a bit on this trip and would recommend Pamplin Park to any one visiting the area.

Monday, April 07, 2014

The Finish Line 2

A very moving short about one team's response to their beloved coach's diagnoses with ALS.

The Finish Line 2 - Short Feature from Evolve Digital Cinema | IMG on Vimeo.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Tunnel

Pillow Tunnel I was in bed reading when I noticed this little tunnel in the pillows next to me. It is not the most exciting of subject matter, but I like it.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

The Return of My Nemesis


nemesisI think it is really and truly spring now.

My beloved crab apple tree is leafing out which means its flower buds should be shortly  coming along. This also heralds the return of my nemesis, the tent caterpillar.

This morning as I was hustling Nate off to his ride i espied this tent in my tree. I didn't have time to deal with, what with three other kids having to be pushed out the door. But this afternoon I made time to deal with it and literally nip it in the bud. The offending tent was cut off alon with it's branch. I trimmed away the excess branch and triple bagged the whole mess with the final bag an old, but serviceable resealable plastic baggie. i tossed the lot into the trash and was happy to move.

Unfortunately I saw another tent higher up in the tree. It looks like I'll be vacuuming the tree in the near future.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Morning Undulatus

Normally I would do Artist of the week, but this week it's all about clouds.

Today during the morning dog walk I noticed the sky was filled with the most amazing clouds. Shyly peeking out were all sorts of striated patterns. I think this is called Altostratus Undulatus, but I could be wrong. It is not very easy to get a clear cut description of cloud types. Wrong or right I was just happy I had my cell phone in my pocket. I happily snapped pictures along the walk whenever the dogs stopped to read their p-mail.

And it was a good thing that I did. By mid-morning the clouds were all gone. We had a brilliantly sunny day with a cloudless sky. A nice change of pace from the endless cycles of rain/snow/slush with gloomy clouds. It was starting to feel like Spring and it's attendant warmer weather would never come.

So here are a few of the pictures I took this morning.

The top picture was just after I turned out of our driveway and first noticed the sky. It looks all dramatic with the darker clouds lower down on the horizon. As I walked along the clouds thinned out and you could see more and more of the wavy pattern.

In the middle picture, taken just ten minutes later you can see the sky has brightened quiet a bit. I think the three parallel lines in the lower left are old contrails. Maybe.

The last picture is my favorite.The sun is higher up and is providing some wonderful light that really shows off the pattern. I'm so glad I had grabbed my phone on the way out this morning.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Dark Noir

An interesting short that is sort of kind of an Absolute ad.

Dark Noir from Gillian Glendinning on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Slow Weekend

Originally it was going to be a busy weekend, two local soccer games on Saturday and one game at Virginia Beach. Plus on Sunday the return of Jacob from his band's trip to Disney World. The rain, however washed away two of the games. Max was only able to get his game in on Saturday because his game got moved to a turf (ie fake grass) field that is impervious to rain. And I must say it was a nice change of pace.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Morning Drive


This was the sky this morning when I dropped off Nate for his bus to school. He is out of district for his high school and we have a variety of choices: drive him alllll the way to his school on the other side of the district, have him catch the express bus from our neighborhood at 5:45 in the fracking morning, or catch the bus 10 minutes away at 6:40 am.

For me the choice was clear and with the added bonus of a car pool in my neighborhood I don't have to do all the driving. And every now and then I get to see a pretty sky.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Stumpy the Zebra

Dell likes to chew things.
Dell likes to chew plastic toys.
Dell chewed this poor defenseless zebra's left front leg.

Rebecca is rather fond of the aforementioned zebra and did not want to toss it after its amputation. She wanted it fixed, but couldn't think of a good permanent solution. So the poor thing languished about the house in its tripod form.

Rebecca had tried masking tape and string, but both failed miserably. I suggested a wooden dowel, but the ones we had were gone. Then I had a eureka moment, we could use a screw.

I got the big box of assorted screws out and she chose one of the right length and diameter. Rebecca wasn't sure if it would work, but lo and behold it did. I think the best part is that the screw she settled on has a rounded head which makes it look like a real prosthetic leg. Now the zebra can stand on its own four feet.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Artist of the Week: National Honor Society

Jacob is this week's artist for his official induction in the National Honors Society.

He was admitted some time ago, but not in time for the fall induction ceremony. Which wasn't too big a deal, he was still able to include his affiliation on his college applications. He just missed out on a slightly bigger event in the main auditorium as opposed to the smaller room that it was held in today. Five current members of the NHS spoke, candles were lit, and then a brief bio was read of each of the four inductees. Either there was cake and for me it was nice to have the short version of the event.

I'm very proud of his achievement, I was oblivious to the whole thing when I was in high school, It wasn't until college when I became dimly aware. Additionally it wasn't even an option at my school. I hung out with a smart crowd in high school, but grade wise I wasn't particularly motivated. Only some classes were challenging and I was perfectly happy with a mixed assortment of As and Bs. Plus the whole community service thing didn't exist, maybe my exercising my geriatric neighbor's horses would have counted.

Anyhoo, I seriously doubt I would have made the cut. So well done Jacob.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Snowfall

Believe it or not that is snow.

It is not a starry sky superimposed over an image of our woods.

It is not dust motes on the lens lit up by the flash.

It is just plain snow falling from the sky, in March, late March in central Virginia. At least it is not sticking.

Help me.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Happy

I admit it, I really like Pharrell's "Happy." It's just plain fun and gets under your skin. This version popped up on my feed in Face Book and I just had to share.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Chicken Pot Yum

chicken pot yum by Teckelcar
chicken pot yum, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
For a while I have been making chicken pot pies from scratch. I really like that I can take a left over roasted chicken and get at least one more meal out of it, two if I count the soup from the stripped carcass. all it takes is double pie crust, an onion, leftover gravy, chicken, mixed vegetables, and a bit of rosemary. Pretty much everybody likes it.

Yesterday's pie was particularly glorious. I have gotten the crust down to a science and the leftover gravy was particularly good. It does my frugal Yankee soul some good when I can get so much out of one tasty bird.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bowed, But Not Broken

icy bloom by Teckelcar
icy bloom, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Somehow I got in my head that yesterday was Wednesday, apparently traveling followed by two days of schools starting with a two hour delay messes my perception of what of the week it is.

Anyway this daffodil is encased in ice from Sunday night's all the way to Tuesday morning's wintery mix of doom. It wasn't as bad as the picture would make you believe. For the most part the roads remained clear until Tuesday and that was due to the cold temps finally cooling down the roads so that the ice/snow/whatever could stick.

The flowers, on the other hand were all encapsulated in ice from day one. Which was a good thing because the ice gave a big of insulation from Monday night's bitterly cold temperatures. The ice is gone now, but the flowers are still a bit droopy. I don't know if they will fully bounce back, but they are still alive.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Artist of the Week: Tourney Triumphs

Max in Action by Teckelcar
Max in Action, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
As I mentioned before we had all sorts of soccer going on this past weekend. Both Max and Rebecca had soccer tournaments, his in Stafford, Va and hers in Virginia Beach. Obviously one parent couldn't do both, so Larry took Rebecca and I took Max.

It was a good weekend for soccer with the seemly weekly wintery mix of doom holding off until Sunday night. It was relatively warm on Saturday and I got this great shot of Max moving the ball down the line.  It was taken during the first game that they lost 5 -2, however the team's play was much better than the score showed. In the second game of the day they completely shut out their opponents at 5 - 0!

Team by Teckelcar
Team, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Sunday was grey and cold with the parents all huddled on the sidelines. I was a little less inclined for photography and the best I got was the team banding together before the game. The cold didn't seem to bother them and the coach urged them on by telling them they still had a chance for the playoffs. They played hard and won again, this time 3 - 2. Unfortunately by the way the tournament was scored, they just missed qualifying for the play-offs. However, this was by far the team's best showing. This seasons looks to be quite promising.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Cold

Cold by Teckelcar
Cold, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The last time we saw this fellow it was reasonably nice out. Since Thursday we have had a high in the upper 70s over the weekend followed by the wintery mix of doom. I don't know if it is the same blue bird, but it is in the same spot and looking a bit put off with the return of winter.

I have to agree, I'm tired of the brutal weather pattern of late. We get one or two days of almost 8o degrees and then bam, winter is back. As I right I can hear the patter of rain/freezing rain/sleet on the skylights. The schools already have declared a two hour today, a slight improvement over this morning's 5:30 am announcement via phone.

I'm done with winter.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Purim!

Purim! by Teckelcar
Purim!, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
It's a holiday so I must be baking.

It was a long weekend filled with driving and soccer.I got home around 3:00 and Larry followed a couple hours later. We briefly considered attending our synagogue's Purim party, but the idea of getting back in the car to do even more driving was very unappealing. Not even the promise of hamantaschen and pizza were able to get us out.

So instead I made us our own hamantaschen. There was much happiness and no regrets.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pumpkin Pi

Pumpkin Pi by Teckelcar
Pumpkin Pi, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
It's Pi day and that can only mean one thing... it's time to make pie!

This year i only made a pumpkin pie. Max and Rebecca have soccer tournaments this weekend and I an just too darn busy gearing up for them. However, a pie was made and it was very good.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Blue Bird

Blue Bird by Teckelcar
Blue Bird, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Blue birds are not the most common bird in our backyard and they always catch my eye. Particularly when they land on the bright orange frame of our "bounce back."

It's not the clearest picture, I really need to clean my camera's lens, but it is good enough. I was happy that our bright blue visitor lingered long enough for me to fetch my camera. Normally they just flit through and not perch for any length of time. Maybe it was the lack of activity, canine and human,in our yard that made this picture possible.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Artist of the Week: Mount Everest

Wind Symphony by Teckelcar
Wind Symphony, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This past weekend was the annual district assessment for school bands. Jacob's school hosts the event and everybody, parents, students, and the band director work their collective tails off to make the whole thing work. We have had the honor of hosting this event for quite sometime due to our hard work producing a well run affair that runs on schedule. If you are scheduled to go on at 5:15pm, by gum you will be on stage no later than 5:15 pm. This year we had to rejigger the schedule a bit to slip in an extra school. They had been originally scheduled for Friday, but they had a snow day and couldn't come. It would be a shame for all their practicing to be for naught, so we made it happen. None the less we still ended on time.

In addition to running concessions, setting up the stage and escorting the various schools to the warmup room, the main auditorium, and the sight reading room, our kids also participated in the assessment. Friday the lower, symphonic band performed and received a superior rating. Saturday the upper, wind symphony performed and received a perfect superior rating. The kicker, for the past 25 years the wind sympony has garnered a superior rating. That is quite a feather in their cap.

Below is part of their performance, the piece is titled "Mount Everest." I apologize for the poor sound quality. I was using my cell phone and it really did not do justice to the performance. It sounded much better in person.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Signs of Spring

Crocus by Teckelcar
Crocus, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
At the end of February I saw this brave little crocus amongst the leaf litter in the front garden. It is one of the very few left of the massive planting I did not long after we got the house. Deer, mice, and bugs have taken their toll over the years. I should, and probably will, do another mass planting. I have always liked crocuses because they are low maintenance, come in pretty colors, and are the first flowers to bloom.

I almost missed them this year with all the snow we keep getting. My guess is the worst is over, February has always been the snowiest part of winter followed by one last gasp in March.

Dell and Daffodils by Teckelcar
Dell and Daffodils, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Daffodils are always the next to bloom and this patch has been going strong for over a week. I finally remembered to bring a camera along today during the dog walk. Dell wasn't particularly impressed by the flowers, the neighbor's house was far more interesting. I however disagree with Mr. Dell. I think it is very interesting that this particular planting is one of the first to bloom every year. My best guess is this particular spot is very sheltered and gets quite a bit of sunlight. My daffodils reside in a rather shady spot and are about a week behind. They have been up for quite awhile and not until this morning have I see any flower buds.

daffodils by Teckelcar
daffodils, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Speaking of which...

This afternoon I found flowering daffodils in own yard. It is amazing how an 80 degree day can hurry along plants. I thought I would see blooms tomorrow, not this afternoon. Spring is definitely on its way.

Monday, March 10, 2014

LUMINARIS

A little light entertainment, a stop action film by Juan Pablo Zaramella of Buenos Aires. The synopsis from the website states "In a world controlled and timed by light, an ordinary man has a plan that could change the natural order of things."

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The Return

King Cake by Teckelcar
King Cake, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Between snow days, sports, two bands, and life in general I have done pretty much zilch around here. A nice gentle prodding from Diane and my daughter bluntly telling me I needed to update pushed me into action.

So yes we have had far too many snow days around here and when the kids have off I bake them a treat. this week in honor of Fat Tuesday I made a King Cake. Actually two of them, one on Saturday because I had a hankering for one and another on Monday. Both were inhaled in less than a day.It's pretty safe to say that we like King Cake. Mine is a nutmeg and lemon based cake with a cream cheese filling. I found it over at Gourmet Girl and it is pretty easy to make. I didn't get a pretty open ring, but the end result was delicious.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Artist of the Week: Snow Guard

Max by Teckelcar
Max, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
You would think with all the snow we have been getting that at least one snowman was made and you would be right. Max made at least two,  one of which was in a hidden spot that I saw quite by accident. There may have been more, he likes to make small ones and hide them, a very Max thing to do.

Thus with his snowman building Max is the artist of the week.

The picture of Max was taken Thursday morning last week. I'm not sure what he is thinking of, probably what a huge amount of snow we got and how it hasn't stopped snowing. Regardless, it is a could shot showing his more contemplative side.
Snow Guardian by Teckelcar
Snow Guardian, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Meanwhile the snowman, or rather snow guard, has a far happier seeming pose. Max constructed him while clearing the driveway with Rebecca. Max constructed a wall surrounding his creation so that it appears to be guarding the entrance to the front walkway. It is not a large, at most it was two feet tall, which is again just like Max. He loves making small snowmen, usually 8 inches an under, thus making this a big one for Max. It is hard to see, but the snow guard has a stick by it's right "hand." This gives it the look of being on guard. I like it's cheerful expression. Sadly it is long gone, snow doesn't last very long around here, even if it is on guard.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Move Mountain

A captivating stop animation film by Kirsten Lepore. This is her MA graduation film from CalArts and I think it it is wonderful both in technique and the soundtrack. Tthe best word to summarize this movie is connectivity.

Move Mountain from Kirsten Lepore on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sweet Rewards

Hard at work by Teckelcar
Hard at work, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
We got 4 1/2 inches of snow yesterday. Then it rained, sleeted, and lord knows what else during the night. As a result we woke up to a big sloppy mess that was "only" two inches and very heavy. I knew with the deep freeze predicted for tonight it would turn into a sheet of ice and the driveway would be a mess for quite some time. So I proposed to the kids, if you shovel the driveway I would bake a rat from them. Max and Rebecca lit up at the offer and were soon outside and shoveling away.

clean driveway by Teckelcar
clean driveway, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
It was hard work and they were not so thrilled with the bargain. I sweetened the deal by offering to bake two treats, Max would get his beloved pumpkin pie and Rebecca would get a chocolate eclair pie.They worked hard for about ab hour and got the large area outside of the garage cleared away. They came in to rest and get some lunch. I tossed all the wet gloves and Max's jacket into the dryer, which was much appreciated when they went back outside.

I'm not sure how long it took, but they did clear the whole drive. I went out afterwards and I was really impressed. They did a terrific job and certainly earned their treats. Unfortunately we got another inch or so of snow, but it isn't as wet and Jacob has already volunteered to clear it away. He wants in on the baked goods and is willing to work for food.
 
Just rewards by Teckelcar
Just rewards, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
So while all that shoveling was going on I was inside baking away. I ended up halving the recipe for the eclair pie I made for Rebecca's birthday last year.  I think it came out even better this time. As fr the pumpkin pie, well it's an old favorite and very dependable. I think I will even let the dynamic duo enjoy their respective pies for breakfast tomorrow, sine we of course don't have school.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Big Snow!

Big Snow! by Teckelcar
Big Snow!, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I'm going to leave this here with just the facts.

Snow fall started at roughly 3:40 pm.
This picture was taken at about 10:40 pm.
It is now a mixed bag of snow and sleety stuff falling from the sky.
There is no school tomorrow and most likely none on Friday.
The kids are out of their minds.

The predicted high on Friday is 44.

Welcome to central Virginia.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Twilight Over Soccer Fields

Twilight Over Soccer Fields by Teckelcar
Twilight Over Soccer Fields, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Today Rebecca had what should be her penultimate winter training session, but considering the impending winter weather of doom it is unlikely that tomorrow's practice will be held. The whole winter training has been hit or miss. Between snow storms and subzero wind chills the club has cancelled roughly half of the sessions. This has been far from surprising since the training is done outdoors and it is winter.

Tonight wasn't too bad, but the girls were chilled to the bone. They appreciated the toasty van when practice was over. I asked about tomorrow and the girls said that the coaches told them to dress warmly. I guess the club is going to wait and see how it all pans out. Meanwhile I did my shopping first thing this morning and I refuse to set foot in a grocery store until Friday.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sir Nicholas Winton

This is a short segment from the BBC show "That's Life" aired in 1988. Sir Nicholas Winton is seated in an audience of what turns out to be a few of the 669 Czechoslovakian children he had saved from the Nazi death camps. It is an incredibly touching moment when he realizes who the people surrounding him are.

For a good summation of what Sir Winton did, please read The Story over on "Nicholas Winton – The Power of Good."

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Scientific Brownies

Scientific Brownies by Teckelcar
Scientific Brownies, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Today two of Rebecca's classmates came over to work on their STEM/science fair project. They were tasked with making a device that would allow an uncooked egg survive an approximately 8 foot fall without using a parachutes. They had created an initial prototype a couple of weeks ago and came to our house to test using the second floor area that overlooks the great room.

They worked away and came up with a second design and decided to test it. An egg was procured, placed in the device, and dropped over the railing. The shell cracked, but the membrane remained intact, this counted as a success However just to be sure they tested two more times, each time with a new egg. Meanwhile Rebecca asked what she should do with the cracked eggs. I told her to set them aside, I would come up with a use for them.

As they discussed more testing I cut them off. I envisioned my remaining eggs being destroyed and that was not an option. I told them to weigh an egg and use something else as the test subject. Rebecca had some modeling clay and it was perfect for the job. As for the cracked eggs, well it turns out my brownie recipe uses three eggs.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Lively

Lively by Teckelcar
Lively, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
It has been far from lively around here. I need to change my ways and post during the day when I don't have to compete with other people for the use of my computer. Plus I need to get out and take more pictures. In my defense it has been either hideously cold or raining, neither of which are conducive to my going outside to do anything.

So in honor of all of that, here is a funny, at least to me, picture of a cemetery I spotted whilst tooling about. I was so amused over the contradiction of the idea of lively dead that I didn't notice the misspelling until it was pointed out to me. The typo makes me love this sign even more.

Monday, February 03, 2014

The End of LBJ's Civil Rights Speech

Originally I posted this for Jacob to check the clip out for a school project. We were having issues with Google playing nice. It never did work out, a classic left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing (stupid Google and another reason not to use Chrome). After it was all said and done I decided to leave it up as a bit of a nod to Back History Month.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Snuggle

Snuggle by Teckelcar
Snuggle, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
It has been very cold around here lately, dropping occasionally down to the single digits at night. Which is shockingly cold for the average Richmonder and darn cold for those of us from more northern climes.

I think the red boys have the right idea. They like to snuggle up with each other when they are not on crumb patrol. They are silly dogs, but they are not stupid dogs. John and Dell  have even figured out it is better to duck under the deck to avoid the wind when they are forced outside to do their business.

Oh and as to school, there indeed was school today with only a two hour delay. The slightly warmer temperatures helped clear off the roads, just in time for next week's storm.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Snow Day

Snow Day by Teckelcar
Snow Day, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Today was the second snow day of this week, coming after a whole week off from last week's snowstorm. Thankfully it looks like the kids will be all back in school with just a two delay in the morning.

I love the snow, I love sleeping in, I love my children, but it is all wearing thin. I ran away a bit today to go shopping at Costco and to see Meryl a bit. It will be good to get back into the old routine. Plus I think we are now out of the built in snow days in the school calendar. The school year may be stretched out a bit come June.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Artist of the Week: Snow and Sky

Snow and Sky by Teckelcar
Snow and Sky, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I'm not sure who or what to credit this, except I was the one to notice it and take a picture.

We love our new skylights that were installed when we had the roof redone last year. The windows are so clear, it is almost as though there is nothing separating us from the elements. That said thety do an excellent job keeping out the weather and keeping in the heat.

This morning they were covered with a layer of snow. As the sun came up the snow slowly slumped down the windows. I looked up and saw this perfect wave of snow beautifully set off by the bright blue winter sky with a trace of clouds. The black is an artifact of the contrast of the brightly lit skylight and the ceiling.

I thought it was a stunning composition and I'm pleased with how well it turned out.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Snowy Night

Snowy Night by Teckelcar
Snowy Night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Last week, between MLK Day and four days of school canceled from snow, the kids had a three day weekend morph into a nine day snowcation. As you can see here Mother Nature is back to her tricks and we are getting a second dose of wintery weather, so of course no school. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Fortunately the roads were completely clear of all the compacted snow and ice from last week's weather. Hooray for 64 degree days in January. However the hammer dropped back down today and we were well below freezing for the high. I hope this week's snowcation isn't as long.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Golden Age of Insect Aviation

Possibly the most stirring ten second film you will ever see. It never fails to make me smile.

Animated by Wayne Unten, it was his first project using TV Paint animation software. No rotoscoping used. More of his creations can be found on his blog: animatingforfun.com.

And I mustn't forget the brilliant score by Dave Gottlieb.

Enjoy!

Golden Age of Insect Aviation: The Great Grasshoppers from Wayne Unten on Vimeo.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Dachshund in the Snow

Dachshunds in the Snow by Teckelcar
Dachshunds in the Snow, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Amazingly we still have snow on the ground, a rare occurrence in these parts. At most the snow lingers for a day and a half. However the wintery weather with the temperature staying below freezing has allowed the snow to stay.

It isn't the nice fluffy two inches pictured here, but there is more snow visible than not. The brisk weather and snow has made at least two of my children say it is almost like Vermont. This cold weather will last for a few more days and by the end of next week it will be much , much warmer.

So us crazy northern types will enjoy winter while it lasts.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Man and Dog

Man and Dog by Teckelcar
Man and Dog, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week has been a total wash in regards to school. Monday was a holiday, Tuesday school was cancelled in anticpation of the snow fall, and there has been no school since then plus Friday has been called as well.

All we got was barely 2 inches of fine powdery snow. However this fine powder quickly compacted to ice that gets thoroughly frozen each night as the temps dip well below freezing.  I ventured out Wednesday and it was a white kuckle ride down the hill in my subdivision. I didn't skid, but I could feel how little traction my relatively new tires had. Today was much better, but there are still areas in the school district that are still icebound. The upshot is that Monday's planned student holiday/teacher workday is now a regular school day.

School or no school, Larry has the right idea. It is a good time to read a good book with a dog in your lap.