Sunday, January 31, 2010

And Snow It Did

Well the snow hit right on schedule Friday night. I was able to stock up the house and squeeze in Friday night services before the sky started falling.

Saturday morning started out with early morning phone calls. The first one was from a friend checking to see if I was still going to the dog show. I had entered Dell and she had entered her dog. Since only three boys were entered and we were pretty sure dog number three was going to be a no show she wanted to know the scoop. If I didn't go there was no point (literally, there has to be competition for dogs to win points). I told her that I had arranged for Meryl (has Jeep and will drive) to take me to the show. As far as I could tell we were going.

Not fifteen minutes later it was Meryl telling me when she would be arriving to pick Dell and I up. I told her I would be ready with dog in hand. I had plenty of time and got up, dressed and fed the kids. Dell was quickly packed and we were ready to go when Meryl pulled into our drive.

She said the roads were not to bad so we loaded up the Jeep and were soon on her way. In the 15-20 minute turn around the roads went decidedly south. The main road my subdivision was off of had become very treacherous. Even with four wheel drive we slid and fishtailed down the road.

This was not a good sign.

We pressed on with the thought that if 95 was bad we would just head back home.

We didn't even get that far.

After 6 miles of horrendous driving that took nearly 45 minutes we bagged the whole idea. The roads were getting worse, not better and it was not worth going into a ditch just for a dog show. So we headed back to my house with a little side trip for a few more supplies at the supermarket that was on the way home.

Nate in snow
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The snow kept coming down and Meryl, wisely, decided to stay over.

Today the weather was glorious. Nate insisted on going outside this morning in just boots and pajama bottoms to check out the snow. We gave him the yardstick and he measured out 8 1/2 inches of snow.

The rest of the day was spent shoveling for the adults and goofing off in the snow for the kids. Thankfully Nate decided to get properly dressed for his snow adventures later in the day which included things like biking on the road and being buried in the snow.

There will be no school tomorrow and I'm pretty sure they'll cancel Tuesday as well.

Friday, January 29, 2010


It looks like Snowy will be paying a visit in Virginia. We're all stocked up with food and wine, the only tricky bit is that Dell is entered in a dog show north of Richmond on both Saturday and Sunday. Luckily I have a friend with a Jeep and we will get there, I just hope it isn't canceled.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chili Dogs

Chili dogs
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today I cleaned out the so called dog closet. It's underneath the stairs and is home to all manner of things. We store wine, cleaning implements, bulk medications for Max, lunch boxes, dog food, spare leashes, miscellaneous dog supplies (hence the name), and so on.

Unfortunately it had become a catchall and as a result a horrendous mess. In fact it the vacuum cleaner no longer fit within its confines. The final straw today though was the dog records.

I try to maintain a three ring binder for each dog that contains shot records, rabies certificates, registration slips (both AKC and county), pedigrees, etc.. I needed the rabies certificates today and I could not find them in the pit the closet had become. I hauled every blessed thing out and made a huge heaping pile. After an hour I found John's binder, some nifty fabric collars and a whole lotta junk.

But no Dell records.

In the end I had to fetch a new one from the vet. It was not a big deal, but it was annoying. I know it'll turn up in the next couple of days. But on the bright side, I have a far, far neater closet and the dogs have some funky chili pepper collars.

Muy caliente!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Artist of the Week: With Even More Foxes

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is Nate and it features all sorts of déjà vu. To whit the subject matter and the profile picture.

As I mentioned not so long ago, Nate is taking up lacrosse. He is happy to play almost any sport and is always on the look out for something new. Larry has been encouraging him to give it a try and, being the active young man he is, thinks it'll be a better fit than baseball. The main advantage of lacrosse over baseball is that there is far less downtime for the players. We still love baseball, but lacrosse plays to Nate's strengths. Namely his boundless energy and amazing hand eye coordination.

Practice doesn't start for a while, so in the mean time Larry has been teaching him the basics of stick handling in our backyard. Therefore there is quite a bit of lacrosse going in our backyard.Nate is a quick study and is picking the sport up very quickly.

Nate's fox
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
As for this week's art, well I mentioned last week the some of the kids were on a fox drawing kick. Nate asked me to find some fox pictures on the internet. He wanted to be sure to get the colors and the markings just right. He spent a fair amount of time on his fox, double checking with the pictures I found for accuracy.

I like the end result. It's a cheerful looking fellow with the classic upright ears and bright coat of a red fox. Nate is justifiably proud of his efforts and pinned it to his wall. Lucky for me the pin fell out and I was able to sneak it away and scan it in.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Worth the Drive

Saturday was the big Hampton Roads Regional Competition for the National Engineers Week Future Cities Competition. Mind you, we are not particularly close to Hampton Roads, but our school district was lumped in with them.

I picked up the model Thursday and spent the rest of the day and Friday driving around with and enormous display filling the back half of the van. On Saturday we got up well before dawn and hit the road at just past 5:30 am. It was not a particularly fun drive, but traffic was light and we got there just at 7:30, half an hour before the start of registration.

We sat in the car eating bananas while we waited for the rest of the team and the teacher to arrive. They came in dribs and drabs and were all accounted for for when the doors officially opened.

City of Innovation
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Originally 27 or so teams were entered, but 7 dropped out at the last minute. At 20 teams it was still a big entry and the boys were all keyed up. They did a good job during the individual judging and then we had to wait. It seems to take forever for the two panels to discuss the entries and make their decisions. When it was time we all crowed into the main exhibition room for the verdict.

There were quite a few individual awards- most futuristic, best water management and so on. Our team garnered the award for Sustainable Food System. Then it was time for the big one. The final scores for determining first through third was a combination of the essay score, the computer model and the scale model. First place would get the honor of representing the Hampton Roads Region at the National competition in DC next month.

Third place was announced, that team collected its prizes and filed out for pictures. Second place was then called out and it was the City of Innovation! The boys were thrilled to death. They didn't get first and the trip to DC, but none the less it was quite an achievement. I was so happy that they had placed. They had done a great job and had worked well together during their presentation. It had been well worth the long drive before the crack of dawn.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Getting a Bit Lax

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
As in lacrosse.

We have found a new sport for Nate that is well suited to his strengths. Namely his boundless energy and unreal hand eye coordination.

Larry played it back when he was in school and he is very pleased that Nate has taken to it so well. He'll be an assistant coach this spring and I think they'll have a lot of fun. In a surprising developement Rebecca is also interested. She has her own pink (natch) stick. She is a very fierce little player and will be a right terror on the field.

And then there is Meryl.

She was over one day a decided to give it a go. It turns out she has a natural talent for the sport. She now has her own stick and is in the process of finding a group to play with. Practicing with Nate in the backyard is fun, but she wants a bit more than that.

As for me, well I got whacked in the head with the ball and decided it really wasn't my cuppa. I'm better off with sports like soccer or riding. Or maybe something like competitive baking or hair coloring.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
A tad over a week ago I made the most outrageously delicious cookie.

Nate's class was having a fiesta in lieu of Spanish class. The students were all assigned a Spanish speaking country and were requested to bring in a food commonly associated with the assigned county. Nate got Argentina, which immediately brought to mind beef.

However I decided I would rather bake something and settled on Alfajores, a short bread sandwich filled with dulce de leche. It sounded delicious and easy to make. A win-win situation for me.

bold boil
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I did a bit of research on recipes and picked one featured on Nibbledish. It seemed to be the most straight forward and featured some of the best cooking directions I have ever read. I mean who wouldn't want to try out something that has:
Manjar Blanco -'s Dulce de Leche, I'm just trying to be Mr. Fancy Pants.
Or even better about ingredients:
1 can condensed milk (NOT fat-free - that's for pansies)
But those pale in comparasion to the following directions:
Boil with boldness. I'm not talking about mamby-pamby-simmering - I'm talking cauldron-of-hell-boiling while stirring constantly.
And guess what, the whole thing worked. The cookies came out absolutely divine. Mr. Aaron R. Johnson, my hat is off to you.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Great White Hunters

I posted another movie, Marry Me, from Tropfest a while ago. This was the third place winner from the same (2008) competition.

It is so very, very Australian. I can't decide which is my favorite bit- it's either the beer holder or the surfer.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Artist of the Week: Puppy

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Rebecca is this week's artist. She is feeling ever so much better now and will absolutely be going back to school tomorrow.

And I say woo-hoo!

Any hoodle, she loves to draw and she did a bit over this weekend. We have a big bin of assorted drawing implements of doom and stacks of paper. All that we ask is that both sides get used and to try not to blow through a whole ream of paper in one go. And for the most part they are pretty good. Max in particular always (and I do mean always) asks before grabbing another sheet of paper. Of course when one child starts drawing at least one other gets the bug.

This time it was Max that started it off with one of his classic fox pictures. Nate and Rebecca decided they needed to make foxes as well.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This resulted in some lovely fox pictures, but I decided to feature what Rebecca drew next. She made a cute little puppy with a ball. As is the case in our house it has short little dachshund legs. Which is understandable since short little dachshund legs are the norm for our dogs. I love it's expression and how she decided to just suggest the grass and rough out a frame to encircle the picture. That is a new idea for her.

It's not perfectly executed, another new concept for her. She is learning to let it go and just enjoy what she draws and not get so hung up on whether it is absolutely right. I think it adds to the overall charm of the drawing and makes drawing more of an in the moment. Which is a good thing to be able to do.

Sometimes you do need to get everything just right, other times it is nice just to cut loose.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Poor Babies

Last night was not pretty.

Starting at about 3:30 am Rebecca, Nate, and Jake suffered what could only be food poisoning. Nate staggered into my room sick and miserably announcing that he had thrown up in the hallway. As he stood there all sad and forlorn I told him to go back to bed. I was tired, my bed was all cozy and at 3:30 am I am not the most charitable of people. At 1:30, sure I'll be the sweetest mom ever, but at 3:30am I have been yanked from the depths of sleep and I am barely coherent.

Two hours later Jake showed up. At that point I threw in the towel and crawled out of bed. As I cleaned and consoled three very distressed children I desperately tried to think what could have precipitated this horror. Max, Larry and myself were unaffected, which ruled out dinner. Then I remembered the cut fruit I had picked up at the store the other day. Nate had eaten a ton of watermelon and so had Jake and Rebecca. Max had only nibbled on a piece and then (prudently it turned out) decided he did not want it. I hadn't had any and Larry had only one piece of cantaloupe. The first chance I got I trashed the rest.

Max was fine and merrily went off to school while the rest stayed home. Rebecca was the most sensible and went straight back to bed after a warm bath. The other two flopped about, too ill to do anything except declare their boredom. Repeatedly. With the all too frequent moans of agony from Nate.

They seemed to be a smidgen better. They haven't been sick since the wee hours and I hope at least some of them go back to school tomorrow. Meanwhile Max is just flabbergasted that he is the only healthy kid in the house.

Monday, January 18, 2010

You Can Never Go Wrong With Larson

We found this comic while going through our albums (vinyl, not photo).

Carefully clipped out and copied well over a decade ago.

Every university research lab I visited had at least one such cartoon pinned above a bench, taped on a fridge, or posted on a wall for all to see. We all got his humor and very much appreciated it. When he retired in 1995 it was a sad day indeed.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Richmond's Old City Hall

Richmond's old city hall
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today was a wet and dismal kind of day. Not unlike one about a month ago I spent up in Richmond.

I was up there for some reason or other, most likely meeting up with Larry. He works not far from the Old City Hall and that would explain why I was walking by it. I didn't have any of my entourage so for once I was free to indulge my picture taking urges.

I love that old building and I have featured it here before, but this time it was all about the exterior. I think that foggy days are fabulous to take pictures, doubly so when your subject matter is a Gothic building. The fog softens the lines and the bare tree in the foreground adds a nice bit of contrast.

I took plenty more pictures that day, but this one is my favorite.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Best Spam Ever!

Today I present to you the most wonderful spam. And the best part was reading it with my friend Meryl, we both cracked up at the defunct part.

From Frank And Nadsh Konah
Cote D'ivore West Africa
Address No :03 BP Cocody
Abidjan West Africa
Hello Dear One,

This is with a hot heart that I offer you my friendship. All time this contact could seem to you strange, for we dont know each other for the first time and let not us have personal to the paravent of the reports of matters. I ask humbly you to take in consideration this that I and you revle considering This importance and of these immense advantages. My name is Frank Konah, from Sierra Leone. But Residencing here in Cote Divore West Africa .

I have something of very important one thing that I would want you to help me with your permission to entrust you. I inherited of my defunct father the sum of ($9,700 000 ) Deposited in the here by my Late Father Dr Ibrahim Konah USD nine million saven hundred thousand American dollars).

I want to invest this money in your country with a very honest person and especially in an activity sector profitable of your choice.I await you response in order to give you more complete explanations.After the conclusion of this transaction I will offer you 15%of the total sum for your assistance, Waitting of your Communications that we can discuss modalities concerning the transaction. Hoping to hear from you with anticipation. Thank-you and God bless you
My sincere greetings,
Frank And Nadsh Konah
NB: i will like you to come down hear in Abidjan

Sure buddy I would love to help you out and hey, my dad is defunct too!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Star of Bethlahem
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
For quite sometime my mother has been gifting me with plants. I have a spotty record at best with houseplants, after the initial enthusiasm I basically start to forget about them or we go away and they never really recover. Particularly in the summer when we go away for an extended period of time. We turn off the air conditioning and the poor things cook.

But I do love receiving them. They arrive all full of promise and, as in the case of the Star of Bethlehem here, delight me with their extravagant displays. I seem to do better with bulbs and I'll move this out to the deck come spring.

They are a nice lift when everything else outside has dried up or died back.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Artist of the Week: Future City

Jake and John
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Jake is this week's artist. He's not so interested in being featured here nowadays, but I think he'll find it in his heart to forgive me. Because really, I should be able brag about my eldest now and again.

He has matured so much this past year. He certainly deserved to be Bar Mitzvah. He has at heart always been a thoughtful child, albeit a loud one. But now he is better able to cope when things don't go quite his way. He is able to understand that sometimes he has to just let things go.

For example he is participating The National Engineers Week Future City Competition. On Tuesday was the local judging within our school district. I would have loved to attend, but... it was piano lesson day and I couldn't leave the house until just after his group presented. Jake was fine with that, he just wanted to be sure that I could pick him up at the appointed hour.

CI flyer
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

As for the competition, well that's where his artistry comes to play.

There are three components to the entry: a computer model using SimCity, a three dimensional model of a city and a thousand word research essay with an accompanying narrative. Jake ended up doing the bulk of the work .

The computer model was a snap since he has his own copy at home and has been playing with it for quite some time. It made sense for him to do it and he did a bang-up job. As for the model, he loves building things. His team mates contributed a fair amount and it was a group effort in determining what to build. Which brings us to the essays.

Originally the other kids were going to write since Jake had already done the computer model. But at the last minute, Tuesday afternoon,they decided Jake should do the writing. It was an awful Thursday night, the essay was due Friday and Jake had a ton of homework that week. It wasn't until Thursday he could carve out sometime to do it. The end result was brief and very rough, but he got it done and emailed it to the teacher.

Well it turned out that the email addy we had was a dud. After a phone call from a teammate we found out what was going on and were given the weekend to sent it out. The pressure was off, Jake had two more days to write and he used it well. The final paper was great and once again we sent it off.

Ironically it turned out we had gotten the address wrong again, but in the end it worked out. The teacher was very impressed.

So on Tuesday Jake and his team presented "The City of Innovation." Before hand they noticed another team's model. It was beautifully done and they thought for sure it was the one to beat.

It turned out they were absolutely right.

That entry came in second and theirs won!

From what I gathered the judges were very impressed with the background essay and the narrative. It was by far the most detailed and complete. What impressed me, however, was how gracious Jake was. He told me that he was glad that the second place team had done as well as they did. Only one of the three students could attend and she was stuck doing the entire presentation on her own. Jake thought her model was very good and deserved recognition. He was very happy that he won, but he wished his competition well.

My boy is so grown up.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Dogs' Life

red boys at leisure
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Which, at least in this picture, looks pretty good.

This was taken in Larry's office. We have an old tattered chair in residence that is extremely comfy and the dogs have figured this out.

That's John up in the chair and, I might observe, relishing every moment he has it to himself. Poor little Delly is regulated to the foot of the chair.

At some point I'll reupholster the chair, but that'll have to wait until we install a proper set of doors in the archway leading into the office.

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Come To Australia"

Shamelessly stolen from my husband, a delightful ditty about the wonders of Australian fauna.

Scared Weird Little Guys have gotten themselves a new fan and, despite the song, I still want to visit Australia.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I've been sucked into a delightful little world lately.

My husband got me the game Machinarium (warning there is sound at the game's web site) for my birthday. I played it a little at first, but the madness of the holidays conspired against me and then we went away. So I really haven't been playing it until now.

It's very similar in play like it's predecessors, Samorost 1 and 2, but instead of our little man in white we have a world of robots. I love the visuals and the music, they are both a delight. Game play is mostly just point and click with all sorts of puzzles that you must solve in order to progress. My only complaint is the save function.

There is a serious design flaw in how the levels you save are stored. It's a flash game and it is vulnerable to all sorts of anti-cookie software. It was extremely exasperating to save a level and come back to find all your saves gone. There is a patch from the designer over at the game's forum, but it looks like I have to run it every time I play. A bit clunky, but the game is such a gem I willing to deal with it.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Lovely To Look At

a bit of fluff
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
But oh! What havoc it wrecks.

This morning we got a 5 am wake up call from the county's automated phone system. Due to the potentially dangerous icing conditions there would be a two hour delay to the start of school. It was a rather rude start, but we were able to go back to sleep.

When I finally did go downstairs (at the far more civilized hour of 9 I was greeted with this sight.

Two hours for not even an inch of fluff?

It turned out in the end that the county was right to delay. The roads were rather slick in spots from black ice and packed snow. Either way the kids enjoyed their unexpected morning reprieve.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Artist of the Week: Dominoes and Cards

unplowed street
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Max is this week's artist and what he loves to do is perfect for those cold wintry days when you really don't want to venture outside.

Although the snow is all gone, this wintry scene is still very relevant for this artist of the week's profile picture. A few weeks ago we got a lovely dumping of snow and we may get some more in the near future. Hopefully the snow will last for longer than a day like the last storm, it'll be minimally disruptive, and the kids will get to enjoy the snow for a bit.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Cards and dominos
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Anyhoodle, Max is a builder just like his brothers. Anything is fair game in their eyes to create their varied structures. Max is particularly enamored right now with our dominoes.

Sometimes he'll incorporate his Pokemon cards in his structures. This one was particularly clever in its use of the two types of materials.

Building with cards is a daunting task even in the best of conditions. Our household makes it even more challenging. Between inquisitive dachshunds and loud siblings careening about it is well nigh impossible to build with just cards. Max circumvented this by using dominoes as the underpinnings. The cards were carefully laid on top, completely obscuring the dominoes.

tower of dominos
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The second structure featured here is a straight forward domino tower. I know I have featured these before, but Max was so very proud of his creation. It does take a bit of finesse to use these rather slippery tiles, so I think his pride is well justified.

Like his brothers, Max takes into account the visual impact of the finished tower. He likes a clean look, so he turned the dominoes so that the plain backside is exposed. Only on the top are you allowed to get a full view of he dots and that one was carefully chosen to be a double.

With both structures he asked me repeatedly to photograph his structures. He even double checked with me before breaking them down. He is a very careful and meticulous child when so motivated. He is becoming quite a builder. It is nice that he has something he can do with his brothers who in turn appreciate his efforts.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I like practical things. Things that do their appointed tasks and do them well. It is even better when something can be used in a multitude of ways. When I find something that works, I'll stick with it.

Case in point my winter boots. I've had the same pair of duck boots for years. I don't even remember when I got them. They are perfect for wading through slush, puddles and mud. I slap on a pair of gaiters and I'm good to go in fairly deep snow. Last week the rubber part of the boot split and I was forced to get a new pair. I had to go to four different stores to find them. The most shocking was the outdoor sports shoe store only had lame "pretty boots" for women. But find them I did.

However I do like pretty and fun things too. And sometimes I like to pop a little attitude. Hence the boots pictured above. They are completely impractical. They are made from the softest suede with big honkin' 3 1/2 inch heels. Considering that at one point I declared that I would never have heels over 1 inch, that is particularly amusing to me. They go right up to my knee and I wear them with pants, jeans and skirts.

I call them my ridiculous boots and I love them so.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Cookiepalooza 2009

Cookiepalooza 2009
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Now that winter break is over and the kids are back in school I can tell you about Cookiepalooza 2009.

During the madness before school was out I was baking like a fiend. I have a tradition of filling a small tin with cookies for each of the kids' teachers and bus drivers. For me it is a pleasure to cook for the them and the cookies are always well received. The kids also enjoy distributing the tins to the teachers and bus drivers.

This year I decided to go with gift bags instead. Partially due to the dearth of acceptable tins and the vast number I now have to fill. When it was just one teacher per child and a bus driver it was not a big deal. But now, with Jake in middle school, I'm looking at seven tins for him alone. Add in three for Nate plus four more for Max and Rebecca (mercifully combined), you are looking at a whole lot of cookies.

Somehow I got the whole mess baked and doled out to the kids. Then there were the cookies for the recycle dudes (a really terrific crew that is more than willing to wait if I'm a bit late), the kennel, or letter carrier and so on. To say that I'm just a wee bit tired of making cookies by the end of all this is an understatement. I think it worked out to just over 7 batches of chocolate chip cookies. Honestly I lost count and I did at least three double batches.

And yet... I'm more than happy to do it all again.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Boy in a Box

boy in a box
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
There is an old joke how kids always seem to like the box the toy came in more than the toy itself.

Well there is a small grain of truth in that statement.

Max loves his drum kit, but... I sometimes think he loves the box it came in just a bit more.

He likes to sit in and watch television. When it's his turn to play on the Wii, he'll be there in his box. He has even dragged it upstairs to sleep in in it, surrounded by his stuffed animals and covered with his second favorite beach towel (his favorite was lost while on vacation- it was all very tragic and completely accidental).

And it all works, except the sleeping. He had to admit after about an hour that although the box is big, but not quite big enough to comfortably sleep inside.

nebulization in a box 2
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Then today we had a new wrinkle to the whole boy-in-a-box thing, nebulization.

Max has Cystic Fibrosis and some of the many things we do to keep him healthy are his nebulizations (various medicines are breathed in via an aerosol form) and The Vest. Today Max decided he wanted to do it all in his box with the box on the sofa.

It was hilarious.

At one point there was a closed box, loudly vibrating, with various tubes leading into it on the sofa. Much to our amusement Max would periodically peek out.

There is never a dull moment around here, especially if you have a boy in a box.