Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Artist of the Week: Happy

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is little Miss Rebecca. Of course you shouldn't call her little, because then she gets mad and when she is mad, oh boy.

Anyway she loves to draw pictures and the house is littered with her efforts. Mind you each one tells a story and she will happily tell you it if you ask her. The stories are unique to each picture and they remain the same even after multiple retellings.

This week's artistic offering was made last week and was presented to me as I was puttering about the kitchen.

Man and dog
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

It is a picture of a man with his dog. The man has a present in one hand and the dog's leash in another. The present is for the dog and the cartoon bubble above the dog's head is the dog's thoughts. It's hoping to get a bone which will make it so happy.

All I can say is that this picture makes me happy too.

Monday, July 30, 2007

For My little Rebecca

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Rebecca is a very girly girl and loves all things pink and purple. Her all time favorites are Barbie, My Little Pony and Hello Kitty. Her love of all things feminine is quite a feat considering she lives in a household full of boys. It is particularly mystifying for me because I was quite a tom boy.

I hated Barbie and I don't get Hello Kitty, but I understand the pony thing. Admittedly I liked real ponies, but My Little Pony is close enough.

Two weeks ago we caught a commercial advertising a Live action show featuring My Little Ponies. Rebecca immediately started bouncing about, she wanted to go. That night I ended up buying tickets for the two us. It would not be my first choice of entertainment, but I knew it would make my little girl very happy.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The following two weeks were filled with anticipation. Each morning she would ask me how many days until the pony show. As the days counted down she grew more and more excited.

Sunday morning she couldn't wait to leave. She dressed up in a dress and got her dress shoes out. She was delighted that I too wore a dress, but wondered why. I explained since we were going to a show and it was about a tea party I felt I should dress up. Just before we left I told her to go fetch one of her ponies, I guessed (correctly) that most of the younger set at the show would have a pony in hand.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The car ride was a bit long, an hour and a half, and Rebecca ended up sleeping for part of the ride. It probably was too long, but Charlottesville was the closest performance to our house. Otherwise it was a good trip and the arena was a snap to find. I had one funny moment when I pulled into the parking lot and showed my prepaid pass. He was pleased to scan the pass and not deal with money and then told me about the previous driver. All she had was a $100 bill and expected him to make change. I was flabbergasted. Who drives around with a $100 bill and expects parking attendants to make change? There are some odd people out there.

The rest of the afternoon unfolded as I expected. Rebecca was delighted with the show and had a wonderful time.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Yummy Cow Festival

beef fest
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Yesterday we went to the Amelia County Beef Festival, or as Meryl pointed out to Rebecca, The Yummy Beef Festival.

Originally we were not able to go, Nate's team was having its end of the season party at roughly the same time. It was very disappointing to us all as this was the first year Meryl was actually free to come along with us. Then Friday night we found out that the party was postponed, the youngest child of the party's host family was just home from the hospital. Recovering sick babies and baseball/pool parties do not mix.

When I got the news my first reaction was "Hey, now we can go to beef fest!" The tricky part was getting tickets. I know the first time we went (seven years ago) we paid at the gate, but in subsequent years this has no longer been an option. Of course we got the news while we were at a ball game, so I gave Meryl a call to tell her the news and get the ball rolling for tickets. Unfortunately it was too late, none of the listed ticket sellers were still open. That left us Saturday morning to see what we could get.

Meryl called the Chesterfield Berry Farm first thing Saturday morning, all she got was a weird fast busy signal. At about half past nine I gave it a shot and got through. After wading through the voice mail options a bright cheerful voice answered the line and yes, they had tickets. I hung up the phone, turned to Larry and told him I was going to the berry farm right now to get tickets. He responded with "go, go now."

wet Max
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
An hour later I had a dozen ears of corn and seven tickets.

Meryl came over later that afternoon and we all headed off together with folding chairs and a shelter piled in the back of the van. It was a brilliantly sunny day when we left home, but as we drew closer to the park the skies grew darker and darker. I t looked like it might be yet another wet beef fest.

We showed up just at four and parked on the field with all the other cars and trucks. Everybody piled out of the van and we schlepped all our chairs and the shelter inside the park. We made camp and about half an hour later it started to rain.

The kids didn't mind, as you can see by Max's grin and we were relatively dry under the shelter. It's not really meant for rain, being a sun shelter, but it did help keep the worst off of us. Next time we'll have a proper water proof tent.

table guy
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
When I took that picture of Max Jake and I noticed a peculiar figure in the distance.

There was a guy standing in the rain with a table on his head.

It was an interesting solution to the rain. Amazingly he kept the table on his head all throughout the rainstorm, and even went so far as to sit in a chair with the table on his head. I walked by him at one point during a potty run for Rebecca and noticed he had procured a cushion for his head.

The tickets do say rain of shine and they are not kidding. The festival attendants know this and are not going to bail out because of some rain.

roast corn
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Both of the times we previously went it rained at least part of the time and the only thing that would change is that the bands would tarp their amps and maybe go on break when it really poured. Meanwhile the beef kept getting served along with the beer, soda and corn.

And speaking of corn, this year it was outstanding. The organizers roasted up boxes and boxes of corn and it was all delicious. The other two times we went the corn was not very good. We would have an ear apiece and that was it. This year I lost count. I now understand the appeal of roasted ears of corn.

The picture over there on the right shows the unique way the corn is served up. Old refrigerators are laid down on their backs and the doors are flipped open. A stick props up the door so that it can act as a sort of impromptu counter. The freshly roasted ears are piled into the main compartment and a few ears are piled up onto the door for people to grab. The insulation in the fridge keeps the ears nice and toasty.

The beef (barbecue, steamship round and ribs) was all very good. The band we parked ourselves was excellent and so was the company. It's a truly southern crowd, much more so than around Richmond. The kids have a great time running around and Larry and I got eat, drink, be merry and do a little dancing.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Fried Tomato

fried tomato
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today at lunch I decided to try something new, at least new to me, fried tomatoes. I've never had them before, but I've always wanted to give them a try. I really like tomatoes and pretty much everything is better fried.

S today was the day, I had a yellow tomato that wasn't quite ripe on the vine on the deck. After a bit of searching I settled on the recipe below, mostly because I don't have cornmeal.

I not ripe tomato
1 egg, beaten
black pepper

Cut the tomato into 1/4 slices. Lightly dust the tomato slices with flour with a little salt and pepper. Dip the slices in the beaten egg then coat with breadcrumbs. Fry up the slices until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.

All I can say is that is was absolutely delicious. I will definitely repeat this in the future. This might be a good way to use up those end of season tomatoes that don't fully ripen before the first frost.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hippity hoppity

Yesterday we went to Target to buy birthday presents for a birthday party and give Nate an opportunity to spend his money. Nate was been a bit of a pain lately, continually begging us to take him to Walmart, Target... anywhere just to go shopping.

Anyway, while prowling the toy aisle, I found a little bit of my childhood up on a shelf.

Hopper Balls

My brother and I had them when we were little and I remembered how much fun they were. We would bounce around in the yard, race each other and once in while joust with them. I had seen them before in stores, but until this time they were only in the smaller sizes.

I snagged two small ones for Max and Rebecca and two big ones for Jake and Nate. When we got home I began to pump them up. At first I used our bicycle pump until I remembered the air pump up on the shelf. Hooray for air pumps! What would have taken over an hour was done in fifteen minutes. I tossed the balls out into the yard and this was what I got:

The hopper balls are a hit, the kids love doing races and crashing into each other.

Oh and Rebecca, she was delaying because she was eating a cheese wheel, silly girl.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Artist of the Week: Tower

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is Nate. Now that baseball is over he can concentrate on such things as tennis, running around, bicycling, bugging Jake and building elaborate structures with his siblings.

Most of their structures are some sort of army base. Right now there is a huge one in the room he shares with Max. All of them have contributed to that particular structure, but this week it's all about Nate.

A couple of days ago Nate was playing with the wooden train track we have downstairs. WE have a big box full of track, tunnels, bridges, what have you. And then there is the big basket with trains and a castle. The stuff was not cheap, but it is holding up very well after six years of hard use.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Anyway, Nate made this tower out of train track. It so impressed his siblings that they all asked me to take a picture. You can see a little peek of solider on the ground floor of the tower.

What was really impressive about it was its stability, people thundered about and it stayed up. I *almost* felt bad when it got taken down.

So that is how he is spending his summer when he is not outside.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Walking With Dinosaurs

I favorited this video quite a while ago. I like seeing the whole process in making the dinosaurs "come to life."

The excerpts of the show don't really interest me, but the kids would probably like it. I know Max would go crazy over the triceratops.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Wild Kingdom

foot, Max and dragonfly
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The critters were out in force this weekend.

On Sunday I was out on the deck with my feet up when a dragonfly came by for a visit. It buzzed around a bit and then landed on my big toe. It would stay for a few moments and then fly away, only to return. After the third time I decided to send one of the kids in for the camera. Obviously this insect wanted its picture taken.

After a few false starts and a bunch of pictures with either Max or Rebecca, it once again alit on my toe. It stayed there a good 5 minutes before it flew away, this time for good.

I love the iridescent blue of its tail and I got to get a very good look at the coloration of its body. It seems that it has diagonal stripes all along its thorax in a very striking black and white pattern. At first I thought it was checkered, but it looks more like stripes upon closer inspection.

I don't know why it was so attracted to my deck and my feet in particular, but I did enjoy the time it spent on my toe. Its feet produced the gentlest of tickling sensations. It didn't hurt and I knew it wouldn't, Dragonflies are only dangerous if you are a mosquito (another reason to like dragonflies).

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Then today I spotted this attractive fellow dangling from a tree in front of our house. I was just pulling out of the garage when I noticed something odd about the tree. One of the branches seemed to be extended a bit farther than I remember and the end was entirely leafless. Then it hit me, it was a Green Snake!

I parked the car, admonished the kids to stay in the car and dashed in the house to grab the camera. It had pulled itself back onto the branch by the time I returned, but I was still able to find it nestled amongst the leaves. I shot over a half dozen pictures, hoping at least one would turn out. I ended up with two good shots, this one is the better of the two.

We also have a family of bunnies bouncing around in the yard, but they are far to quick for me to catch with the camera. These rabbits are not dumb, they know that when the back door opens they need to run and hide. Our dogs would be very happy to snag a rabbit if given a chance.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Doing the Harry Potter Thing

The book
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
So yes, I went to the bookstore Friday night for the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book party. The plan was for Meryl to arrive at about 8:00 pm and stake out a place in line and I would show up when I could. Festivities were scheduled to start at 9:00 pm and we wanted to be sure to get inside. I wanted to be able to experience all the fun and not get stuck outside. Three plus hours inside where I would be free to move about is far more appealing than being trapped in a line outside in the heat. We hit it just right, as I drove up there was no line, but I understand it started to form not long after. I also took Jake and Nate with me and we all dressed up, the boys more so than myself.

I figure if you are at a party, you might as well dress the part.

Harry and a Quidditch player
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Jake, as you can see was a first year Harry Potter. He had it down to the tape on the glasses. Nate was a Gryffindor quidditch player. I was Tonks and my costume was basically blue and red streaks of colored hairspray, lots of bangles on one arm and Max's broomstick. It was lame, but much fun. I even entered the costume contest and came in second for my age group, those over 18. Mind you there was only one other entrant in my age bracket and she put a bit more effort into her outfit, but it was close. I am proud to say that I declared on stage that "this is for the moms!" It got a good reaction from the crowd and it probably helped my cause.

Jake also participated in the costume contest. He gamely got up on the stage and judging by the applause was a solid second. The girl to his right (with the hand being held over her head) won his group.

costume contest
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

There were quite a few notable efforts. One kid was dressed as Hagrid and did it up right, from the bushy hair to the frilly umbrella. There was also an outstanding "Mad-Eye" Moody, but in the end a Harry won.

I also liked the deliberately off-key entry. One guy had on a green graduation robe and a swiffer instead of a broom. He didn't win, but he did generate a few laughs. Batman, Robin and Spidergirl also made an appearance, but were only greeted with mild applause.

Then the countdown began. All throughout the evening announcements were made as to how much time was left. Each time the crowd would cheer, but the biggest ripple of excitement was when the cashiers were told to assume their positions and man the checkout.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
At 10 minutes to go the books started to be wheeled out to the checkout. I missed the really big cart crammed with boxes for the front of the store. One of those, oh yeah, I should take a picture of this moments. But, I did get this one of the books headed to the music department. All available checkouts were pressed into service with the exception of the cafe. The crowd was really starting to get restless at this point, but being a bookish lot was very quiet and polite.

Then at one minute past the stroke of midnight, the lucky bearer of wristband #1 bought the first book.

As Meryl and I waited for our turn we noticed the security guys and it was too funny.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
It was a couple of guys with black t-shirts that had security emblazoned across their chests. I informed this guy that I had to blog him. He had no choice, I was going to take his picture and post it.

Oooo, security to protect the books from the rabid Harry Potter fans. Considering that the books were under lock and key until the last moment, I don't think he had much to worry about.

As you can tell he thought the whole thing was pretty funny.

About 10 minutes later he had to get back to work and dragged out some more books for the music department. My guess is that my book is in one of those boxes.

The books!
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
My group, numbers 250 to 260 got sent over to the music department. Then it seemed like in no time at all I was at the head of the line.

In fact I was so busy chatting with Meryl they had to call me over. It was very efficient. As they opened the boxes they would immediately bag the books. The result was that I had my book by 12:16 am.

Wow, I was called up after 250 other people/wristbands only15 minutes after the cash registers opened, that was most impressive.

As we left the store I was staggered by the huge crowd outside. Cosseted as we were inside, we had no idea what was going on outside. I guess we could of checked, but the risk of getting stuck outside and put at the end of the line was not worth it. We had heard that there was a enormous line outside, but I really didn't expect what we saw.

Books in hand
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
And of course, I had to take a picture of the boys in the parking lot with books in hand. It was a fun evening and I think Jake and Nate had a good time. I am also proud to note that both boys were very well behaved.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Get ready

Get ready
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
We are are all set to go get our book tonight.

I stopped by our local Barnes and Noble to pick up our wristband at noon. The line was already wrapped around the building. My original plan was that we would go to the 12:15 showing at movie theater across the street, but alas our movie was gone and the only other acceptable offering we had already seen.

So we got back into the car and joined the line.

A news truck was there, but we were too far back and missed going on the air. That's alright, the main thing was that we got our golden wristband #254 (golden for the pre-orders and blue for the great unwashed that have to wait for all the pre-orders before they get to buy a book). It took about an hour after which we did a little shopping.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
And what did we buy ?


At the local craft store I picked up some absurdly cheap decorative brooms and raffia. For 4 bucks a piece Jake, Nate, Max and Rebecca all got their own brooms.

Then two more stops and Nate had his costume for tonight.

Only half of us are going, Larry will stay home with the dynamic duo and I'll meet up Meryl with Jake and Nate in tow.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Sometimes the best thing you can do is to go outside, sit in a hammock and have an ice cream cone.

At snack time today that's just what they did. All four trooped out and parked themselves in our hammock. I just had to photograph them. Nate had already inhaled his, hence the peering over the far edge.

Then twenty minutes later they were all back inside when the skies grew darken and thunder started a rumbling.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Artist of the Week: Disco

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Of the porcupine variety.

This week's artist is Rebecca, courtesy of a recommendation by Aunt Meryl.

Meryl had stopped by our house and amongst the numerous drawings that litter the floor and all available horizontal surfaces, one in particular stood out. Rebecca announced it was a drawing of a porcupine disco and I nearly died when I looked at it closely.

You should too.

The details are wonderful, it really and truly looks like a disco for porcupines.

Porcupine Disco
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
There is a huge sparkling disco ball above the dance floor, two very happy porcupines boogieing down (with yellow tails, shades of Super Dog here) and boom box perched on a table. The best part is the that the boom box has an electrical cord plugged into the wall. The girl does not miss a trick.

The only things missing are snacks and beverages for the dancers.

I love this little bit of whimsy from my little girl.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Princess Almost Got a Crown

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Last month Max and Rebecca had dental appointments. Max, much to everyone's surprise was a real trooper and a very cooperative patient. Rebecca, on the other hand less so. In fact she wasn't even willing to sit still for x-rays.

Unfortunately, Rebecca was the one in need of a follow up appointment. She had a couple of iffy spots that were most likely cavities. Their regular dentist is a pretty good guy and is smart enough to realize that Rebecca needed to go to a pediatric specialist. So referral in hand, I made an appointment with the fancy pediatric specialist. It ended up being last Thursday.

We went in and were duly impressed by the practice. Rebecca was in a chatty mood and quickly felt at ease. The specialist came in, poked about a bit and gave me the bad news. One tooth, her upper right molar was badly chipped, to the point that she needed a crown to save it.

I was horrified that I had missed this. That is until I thought things through. It had taken two dentists and a dental mirror to catch it.

He couldn't do anything today because sedation would be needed along with a big block of time. I then got passed on over to the scheduler. One of her first questions was how soon, my reply was as soon as possible. How about tomorrow? It turned out they had just gotten a cancellation. The only problem was that she needed a checkup with her pediatrician. But hey, Max and Rebecca just had their annual checkup last week and I had the school's entrance health form all filled out and sitting at home. Talk about the stars aligning. All I had to do was write many checks and promise not to feed her after midnight.

On Friday we showed up bright and early with a surprisingly cheerful Rebecca. Normally before breakfast she is a little bear in the morning, but not today. She got weighed in, drank the sedative and then waited for it to take effect. It didn't actually put her asleep, it just relaxed her and made her a bit loopy. When she was ready a nurse collected her and carried her off.

And then we waited.

An hour later a staff member came out and told me it was over and they would bring her out soon. It turned out that they had to pull the tooth. It had abscessed and they could not save the tooth.

The poor thing, who knows how long she had that abscess. She never complained about her teeth hurting. It may have even been the cause of her mysterious illness. It kind of made sense. The three rounds of antibiotics might have just enough to hold it bay. Anyway she is feeling fine and tonight the tooth fairy will visit. We had to remember to get the tooth out of the car, as Jake pointed out, the tooth fairy won't come until you put the tooth in our special moon pillow.

moon pillow and tooth
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mmmm, Pie

strawberry-rhubarb pie
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Last week I picked up a four pound box of strawberries at Costco. They smelled heavenly and the price was crazy cheap. I decided on the spot that I would make a strawberry rhubarb pie.

It took a few days for me to pick up the rhubarb. I really should grow my own, but I
can never get around to actually buying a plant. I know it grows like a weed and would take little effort to maintain it. Anyway I finally got a few stems at the supermarket.

The recipe I use was one I found on the internet almost 10 years ago, April 23, 1998 according to the date stamp from the printer. It was contributed by Aviva Garrett and was copyrighted by Shona A. Ward on a now defunct website.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

This recipe came from the Los Angeles Times about 15 years ago (make that 25 now).

Pie Crust*
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup shortening
5 tbsp milk (note water may be used)

1 cup sugar
6 tbsp tapioca
1 lb rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces**
4 to 6 cups strawberries

Cut the strawberries in half.Place in a bowl with the cut rhubarb and add sugar and tapioca. Mix and let sit for at least 15 minutes.

Make the pie crust: Cut the shortening and flour together. This can be done with two knives, with a pastry cutter, or with some electric mixers. When the mixture has an even consistency (it should resemble coarse sand), add milk (or water). Take about 5/8ths of the dough and roll it out on a floured board until it is a little bit larger than a 10 inch pie pan. Put this in the pie pan. (The rest of the dough is for the top of the pie.)

Pour the strawberries and rhubarb mixture into the pie crust.

Roll out the remainder or the pie crust. Place on top of the pie, crimping the edges of the top and bottom crusts together. Make one or two slits in the top of the crust for steam to escape.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes at 400 or until syrup boils with heavy bubbles that do not burst.

Notes:I recommend putting a piece of aluminum foil under the pie as it is cooking, because it invariably leaks. This will save you from having to clean up the oven.

*I totally cheat and buy a roll out ready made pie crust, but I have used this recipe and it was pretty good.

**I used three stems, it was in all likelihood less than a pound. Precision is not important.

pie slice
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The pie cooked a bit longer than 50 minutes, more like an hour. I go by the bubbles, the best piece of pie advice I have ever gotten. To keep the crust from getting too dark I covered the pie with foil after about 50 minutes.

I made it Saturday night and we had for breakfast Sunday morning. Jake, Larry and I thought it was delicious. Nate doesn't do pies and the dynamic duo did not care for it. That's fine, it left more for the older half of the family to enjoy.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

He's an All Star

Allstar Nate
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Part of the excitement of winning their team's division is that the top five players on the team get to be part of the All Star team.

So Nate got to be on the All Star team.

You can see how pleased he is in this picture. He is warming up for the first game of the tournament (each division fields a team in the tournament).

It was a very nice bunch of boys and they had a great time playing together.

Nate got to keep his position at top of the batting order and you can see what a fierce competitor he is in his "game face" picture. I took it while he was taking a few swings on the on deck circle. Just before hand I asked him to turn and face me and he immediately went into his batting stance.

Game Face
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

I think of him being my sweet goofy boy with the puppy dog eyes, but I forget how focused he can be when he plays.

This focus pays off. He got to be catcher for a fair amount of the tournament and did a good job covering the plate, but his big moment was in center field. He did an amazing catch. It was a reach, but he hung on for the out and then fired it in the the infield. I called up Meryl just afterwards, when the next batter knocked another one to center field. He stretched out and his glove just got to the ball, but not enough to catch it. He came so close.

Larry told me afterwards that one of the other coaches said during the second hit "Do it again Nate!"

Unfortunately the team lost all three games and did not advance, but they were competitive. With a bit more time and practice they could have been very good.

Oh and Nate, he got the game ball during the last game for his amazing catch.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little... Raccoon?

Something sweet for a Friday afternoon followed by something silly. Note this was Rebecca's idea.

The boys watching her then wanted in on the Madness.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

In Honor of the New Potter Movie

You scored as Remus Lupin, You are a wise and caring wizard and a good, loyal friend to boot. However sometimes in an effort to be liked by others you can let things slide by, which ordinarily you would protest about.

Remus Lupin


Albus Dumbledore


Ron Weasley


Harry Potter


Severus Snape


Ginny Weasley


Hermione Granger


Lord Voldemort


Sirius Black


Draco Malfoy


Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with QuizFarm.com

Oh, I like that.

Courtesy of the Llamas via Jordana.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Artist of the Week: An Artist's Eye

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's edition of Artist of the Week is a bit of a departure from the norm, or at least what passes for the norm around here. I picked Jake this week not for any particular piece of art, but for his eye.

He is always the first to notice anything new or different. His eye is attracted to the tiniest details.

He is always the first to spot critters in our back yard. Today it was a female box turtle making her way across the lawn. Yesterday it was an owl in the woods behind our house. Last week he picked up an odd rock in our driveway and it turned out to be a fossil. He was the first one to notice the abundance four leaf clovers near the bus stop.

This drives Nate batty. Whenever Jake spots something Nate pouts a bit and says that he wished he would be the first to find something neat. I tell him its because he is too quick, he needs to slow down.
Nate is a study in motion and is always tearing his way through life. This trips him up sometimes, he really does need to learn to stop and think or at least slow down.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Anyway this is the turtle Jake found early this evening.

You can tell by the brown eyes it is a female box turtle, the males usually have red eyes.

According to Jake he had wandered by the side of the house and had not seen anything. He returned 15 minutes later and there she was. He called for his siblings and sent them in to fetch me. Jake was very pleased that I had grabbed the camera on my way out.

At first her head was drawn in, but after some quite waiting she poked her head out to give us a good looking over. She didn't move much when we were around, but 20 minutes after we left her I took a peek and she was gone. They can be speedy little things when left alone.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
As the evening wore on we all went back inside to escape the bugs and start Max's therapies. Jake wandered out onto the deck and spotted a perfect rainbow above the trees in our backyard. It was the lightest of rains and the the sun was still high enough and was able to break through the cloud cover.

The photo really doesn't do it justice. Each band of color was clearly delineated and you could see them all. This was the best rainbow I have ever seen around our house. I'm so glad that Jake called us outside to see it. It was a real treat for all of us to see.

Then fifteen minutes later (really you can check the time stamps if you click on the photos and then click on more properties under additional information) as the light faded and the rain stopped Jake looked out of the windows on the front of the house .

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The colors of the rainbow had faded away in the eastern sky, but in the west the sunset was filled the sky with its own luminous palette.

The scene was very evocative of Maxfield Parrish. If you click through I have a sequence of photos put together as a set. This particular picture is the last in the series.

Jake was quite amazed with all the things he had seen today and so am I.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


There are currently several bills pending across the United States that severely restrict the rights of dog owners. One in California, AB 1634, has sparked a fair amount of controversy.

I know in the dog show community it would have a devastating impact. To quote the bill:

This bill would, until January 1, 2012, authorize a local jurisdiction
or its authorized local animal control agency to allow for issuance of
an intact permit for one male and one female dog per household in order
to allow the dogs to produce a single litter of offspring, subject to
specified criteria.

It would be extremely difficult to maintain any sort of breeding program under those restrictions. One litter and then the dog is neutered, this apply to both the sire and the dam. Crunch would have never sired a second litter, a litter that surpassed the first in quality. I don’t think John (he’s from the first litter and is the only intact one left) will ever be used at stud and thus Crunch’s line would have ended. Quite a pity since he is already a grandfather by the second litter and at least one of them is gorgeous and doing very well in the ring.

Note also the expiration date. Does this mean no more exemptions after January 1, 2012?

Anyone serious about breeding better dogs would have to move out of state.

Then there are the many, many dog shows (500+ by my count for conformation shows held annually in Ca, this does not include performance events such as obedience, field trials, etc) held in California. I know I would think twice before going to California for an event and with no local breeders to host the shows there wouldn’t be anybody to organize or work at them. Dog shows bring a fair amount of money into a community, from the booked out hotels to the full restaurants.

I think the law wouldn’t work to reduce the pet over population. There would still be strays, all of the ethical breeders would be driven out leaving behind those that do not care and work outside of the law. The funding for enforcement and the low cost spay/neuter programs is to come from within the communities via fines and licensure.

I also object to the further erosion to the rights of the average pet owning citizen.

It’s a train wreck in the making.

Then there is my state’s rabies data base. Veterinarians in the state of Virginia are, as of last week, required to do the following:
Each veterinarian who vaccinates a dog against rabies or directs a veterinary technician in his employ to vaccinate a dog against rabies shall provide the owner a copy of the rabies vaccination certificate. The veterinarian shall forward within 45 days a copy of the rabies vaccination certificate or the information contained in such certificate, to the treasurer of the locality in which the vaccination occurs.

The rabies vaccination certificate shall include at a minimum the signature of the veterinarian, the animal owner’s name and address, the species of the animal, the sex, the age, the color, the primary breed, the secondary breed, whether or not the animal is spayed or neutered, the vaccination number, and expiration date. The rabies vaccination certificate shall indicate the locality in which the animal resides.

Ultimately all of the county information will be brought together and placed in a statewide, searchable database.

Courtesy of the Freedom of Information Act, information about my dogs and where I live will be publicly available.

People that don’t want to be caught in the system might just decide not to vaccinate. The kicker is that Virginia is currently experiencing an upsurge in rabies. We could have a serious rabies epidemic.

I’m seriously considering getting my dogs vaccinated out of state.

It’s scary out there for anyone involved with dogs.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Finally, Something Inedible

Hey! Anything in here?
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I like to tell people that there is a reason that dachshunds are shaped just like a canister vacuum cleaner. They are low to the ground and suck up any morsel of food or near-food they can find. All baked goods are delicious, no matter how stale or mushy they are. At a very young age my children learned to hold cookies up high when walking about. If they relaxed their guard and held it at dog height, it was gone and they only had themselves to blame.

Meat (raw, cooked, jerked or rotten) is always a delight. I once wrestled a raw NY strip steak out of the jaws of Crunch. We had guests over and we were going to grill a few steaks. I thought I had set the raw steaks out of reach on the table while I readied the grill. One of our guests watched as Crunch reached up and nosed them off the table. As Crunch greedily wolfed one down, our guest though we were awfully generous to our dogs. That opinion changed when he saw me return, shriek and grapple with my dog. Even black pepper buffalo jerky was something to be inhaled.

Fruits and vegetables too are fair game. Rally loved tomatoes and I would have to fence them to keep her out of the plants. I thought this year I could skip the fence, until I saw Crunch nosing about and trying to snag a few green ones. Plain lettuce might be rejected, but with a little dressing or another dog nearby and the lettuce is gone. Rhubarb would be spat out uncooked, but once it is in a pie, it’s all good.

Candy is something to be devoured wrapper and all. Entire boxes of macaroni cheese, uncooked noodles along with the foil pouch with powdered cheese, have been eaten. Used napkins, old food wrappers you name it, it’s been eaten. Heck, Crunch almost ate a turtle once and John ate a toad with no ill affects. Dogs are scavengers and mine are not the exception.

After years, nay decades of living with dachshunds I have finally found something deemed inedible by a dachshund.

John nailed a yellow “Bubble Babies Sour Gum Ball” just the other day. It had fallen unnoticed on the floor until John found it. He quietly snuck off to the other room to eat his prize and settled down to take a big bite.

One chomp was all it took. He spat it out and stared at it, his tongue going in and out of his mouth as though to get the foul taste out. He practically shuddered when I held the gum ball near him.

According to Nate this is a very sour candy with the yellow ones doubly so. Nate doesn’t like them and neither does John.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Rats and Restaurants

Today was another hot one.

We planned on going to a new movie theater not far from us, it had a grand opening specials of $2 movies, $1 popcorn and drinks. With fairly recent movies on the marquee, this was too good a deal to pass.

Then Meryl called.

She was already there and the lines wrapped around the building. With 100 degree weather, the deal no longer seemed good. So we changed plans and headed on over to see Ratatouille instead.

It was a wonderful movie. It is one of the few family movies that is fun for everyone. The storyline is good, it's well paced and it all makes sense in the end. Well worth paying matinée prices.

Of course watching a movie all about good food and restaurants put us in the frame of mind to go out for dinner. It was a bit early for dinner so we headed home instead, but later we did go out.

We want to a local Italian place and as we walked in we met up with an older couple. I joked with them that I wouldn't rush to beat them in as our needs were very different from theirs. He replied that our needs weren't that different, though my family would need a much bigger table. Both of our parties were quickly seated and I thought nothing of it. Dinner was good and so were the kids. About two thirds of the way through our dinner The male half of the couple stopped by the table and complimented us on how well behaved our children were. I thought it was such a very kind thing for him to do.

So often people are quick to criticize it's nice when people go out of their way to pay a complement.

We have been going out to eat with our children since they were babies. It hasn't always been easy, but they have learned to behave nicely in restaurants. If they don't, they get taken outside and get a very long and boring lecture from me. And then they are good, I always tell them in the car on the way home.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Summer is Back

Summer is back with a vengeance. For the past few days we have been enjoying the most delightful weather. Temperatures were in the low to mid eighties, humidity levels have been down and each night the temperature would drop to the mid fifties.


Sadly all good things come to an end and yesterday the temperature started to creep up to the nineties. We are back to Virginia's normal sticky, icky summer weather.

feeding the giraffe
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Luckily I realized that the good times wouldn't last, so on Monday I took my brood to the zoo.

The parking lot was more than half full when we arrived, but as always I snagged a spot near the entrance. With passes in had we sailed in and bought a couple of cups of zoo treats. The animals were fairly active that day, even thought it was mid afternoon. They too appreciated the nicer weather. As always one of our favorite stops was the giraffe petting area.

Jake and Nate took turns feeding this particular fellow. The giraffe was just tall enough to get its head over the fence.

Max and Rebecca were far more interested in the younger giraffes that were below the fence.

come over here
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
They would reach through the fence and try to entice the "baby ones" to come a little bit closer. On the whole they were successful. The smaller ones were a bit skittish, but the lure of food was hard to resist.

After awhile we tired of the giraffes and moved on.

The rest of the zoo was pleasant, except for a bit of whining from the younger set for snack. It was far too early and the whining sealed the deal, no snack until we get home. They got over it when we saw the deer.

There are a number of fawns this year and one of them was actually gamboling about. I shot a short little video of the fawn in action.

I think the odd soundtrack actually adds to the film. Guess which of us said what.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Fourth of July Wrap-Up

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
One of the nicer traditions that our subdivision has is a Fourth of July parade. It starts at approximately 10:30 am and winds its way down to the community pool. The pool than opens at 11:00 am with free snow cones for everyone. Then throughout the day there are games and hot dogs on the grill for all to enjoy. It’s very cute and our kids love it.

Now I have to admit the only reason that we do the parade is the fact that the parade lines up on our street. All we have to do is stroll down the end of our drive and voilà we’re in the parade. The only negative to having the parade start on our street is that one year a bunch of people parked on our lawn with one particularly rude family dumping some rocks. To prevent this from happening again I bought a ton of small flags and set them up along the edge of our property. I like how it looks and it keeps people off the grass.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Anyway, this year was a little different for us because Nate and Max were going to miss the parade. They are taking tennis lessons down at the courts near the pool and their age group starts at 10:00 am. According to the guys running the program almost no one shows up on the Fourth. The few that do show up get a private or nearly private lesson. This struck me as a good deal, so we decided to have the middle boys bike down with Larry as a sort of “pre-parade.” We would put a little flag on their bikes and send them on their way.

Outfitted with backpacks to carry their water bottles, rackets and hats Max and Nate were good to go. They liked to idea of being the lead off for the parade. Once they were gone I got to shower, have a little breakfast and ready the rest of us for the official parade.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Rebecca was frantic this year and kept running back and forth from the house and the drive, urging me along as I decorated her bike. She and Jake decided to use the balloons from Jake’s birthday party (which were a very patriotic star decorated with a stars and stripes design) and some more little flags I had in the house. For the wagon, aka the support vehicle, I settled on wrapping it with some red, white and blue ribbon, one of lawn flags in the back and artistically stuffing the swim noodles to form arches. At the stroke of 10:30 we were at the rear of the parade. Rebecca looks so pleased to be there with her handsome big brother.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Ten minutes later and a quick trip back to the house for Max’s enzymes, the parade started to roll. It’s a short walk to the pool with the only obstacle being the long stretch of hill leading down. Everybody checked their brakes and pretty much got down it without incident. I can’t say all because Rebecca tipped her bike and got a tiny scrape on her knee. This resulted in a great deal of tears, but she did go through with the parade. She bravely waved to the crowds as she ever so slowly biked down the hill.

The snow cones at the end made it all worth while. And I say snow cones because I know we all had at least two apiece.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I took this picture a few weeks ago. Jake and Nate decided to play checkers and everybody piled onto the couch.

My children, for the most part, have a close and fairly harmonious relationship. I'm not saying that they never argue, sometimes they sound like a shrieking hoard of howler monkeys complaining about each others transgressions. But, more often than not I find them playing together. Jake and Nate, unprompted, while even read aloud to Max and Rebecca.

I'm always shocked when I heart of siblings that can't be left together, that they always fight like cats and dogs.

I guess I'm very fortunate with my crew.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Nate's Championship Season

The regular season for baseball came to a close for Nate’s league around the end of school. But... since Nate’s team completely dominated their division (16 wins, zero losses) they were off to the playoffs.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Nate’s team as tied with another for first place and during a coaches’ meeting they got first seed, courtesy of a coin toss. Then it was on to the games, the top third of the qualifying teams got a buy in the first round. After the second round it became a double elimination tournament.

Their first game was Friday before last and they won their game pretty handily. I missed Saturday’s game because I was busy at my dog club’s specialty show. They again won and Larry said it was a very interesting game. Which is not too surprising, the level of play should be increasing as tournament goes forward.We all went on Sunday including Aunt Meryl. It was a gripping match up. At first we led the game, but at the top of the last inning the other team surged ahead. It was heartbreaking watching our pitcher fight back the tears. He was so very intense, but he is still just a little boy. We struggled through the inning and then it was our turn to bat. Fortunately we were at the top of the order and our boys got on base. Then our pitcher stepped up to bat and nailed the ball on out to the outfield. It was a homerun and we won the game!

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Tuesday was our next game and it was for a spot in the final championship game. Meryl rejoined us, she was sucked in with the drama of the last game and had to see what was going to happen tonight. Unfortunately it was a night game that was scheduled to start at 8:00 pm. I don’t know about the other kids, but Nate’s bedtime is 8:30 pm, already it was a tough start. Then we saw our opponents. All I can ay is that they were the biggest eight year olds I’ve ever seem. Some could easily pass for 11. It was a grim game; the other coaches were not very nice and exploited every loophole. Sadly our boys lost, but they put up a valiant fight. However, not all was lost. If we won our match up with the leader in the elimination bracket we would still go to the championships.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Our make or break game was scheduled for the next day at 6:00 pm. Just as the game was about to start, a line of thunderstorms rolled in causing a game delay. We scattered to our cars to wait it out. Half an hour later, the boys were back on the field. It was a much pleasanter affair than the previous night’s game. The stakes were high for both teams, but every body remained friendly. It was a good game, but in the end we lost. We wished the other team well and hoped they would beat the other team. It wouldn’t be easy for them, since it was double elimination they would have to beat them twice.

So we didn’t win, but third place is still pretty dog gone impressive. Oh and the not so nice team, they ended up losing to the nice guys.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Grocery Store Thoughts

I'm standing in the beer aisle at my local supermarket today and this was my entire thought process.
Beer, I need to pick up beer.
Oh, Bass is on sale again.
I like Bass.

As I reached forward to grab a half case and load it in my cart a small part of my brain spoke up.
No! I can't buy that beer. Odds are I'll be drinking it on Wednesday and it's just plain wrong to drink English beer on the fourth of July. I need to pick something else.

So I stepped back to survey my choices; it had to be tasty, ideally on sale and all American.


Samuel Adams Summer Ale fit the bill to a T and it is a very appropriate choice of beverage for the fourth of July.