Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One in the Hand Isn't Always Better

Bird in a box
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Yesterday I learned that having one bird in the hand isn't always better than two, or really just one in this case, in the bush.

I had the van out in the driveway with one of the big doors open. I was clearing it out and shifting things about. It was nice out and I was in no big hurry so at one point the van was just sitting in the drive unattended.

Nate raced by to pick up a package and out of the corner of his eye he saw a brownish flurry of motion by the van followed by a clunk. When he came back he peered into the van and saw a little bird keeled over on his seat. The poor thing was still breathing but on its side. With a stick Nate gently righted the bird and then returned indoors to report that there was a bird on his seat.

one in a bush
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I didn't believe him at first, but in the end I went to look for myself. The poor thing looked very distressed, eyes shut and breathing heavily. I went back inside and tried calling the local nature center for advice. The call went straight into voice mail so I then tried ARK. Again I went into voice mail, but the Audubon Society's page linking to ARK was very helpful. I gathered up a small towel and a large shoebox and went to the van to see what I could do for the little wood thrush.

The bird was looking a little better, It was sitting up with it's black eyes wide open. However it was still very addled and it was even trying to escape. I gently placed the towel over the bird and oh so carefully scooped it into the box. I settled the towel around the bird, placed the lid on the box, and brought the box into the garage where it was a wee bit warmer. An hour or so later an ARK volunteer called back and instructed me to just place the opened box under a bush (is there were no cats present) and let the poor thing sort itself out.

And so I did.

The bird was very polite and waited for me to fetch my camera before flitting out of the box. It went through the bush and landed on the other side. It stood there for quite some time, most likely getting its bearings and dealing with a wicked headache. I was able to approach it and again it allowed me to take a few pictures. We all left the little ting again and an hour later it flew off. A very satisfactory ending.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Slap

A film that is not quite what you would expect, particularly from Iran.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rebecca's Rules

Rebecca's rules
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Rebecca has very strong opinions and this weekend she tried to lay down the law on her siblings.

I have no idea what inspired this contract she wrote up or if she really expected anyone one to sign, but I find it hilarious. Jake thought it was funny too and offered to sign it under some sort of random name. Rebecca didn't go along with that idea, but she did see the absurdity of the whole thing.

You have to admit that it's all very straight forward and there is even a monetary penalty if you fail to live up to the contract. I think that the fine is the best part of the whole thing.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I Love My Children Very Much

But today I was reminded why I do not like to go shopping without them.

Jake and Rebecca needed new winter boots, Nate needed a new pair of gloves, and Max- well he just went along for the ride because he's a bit young to be left home alone.

It took three stores to find two pairs of acceptable winter boots. It's always been a challenge to find snow gear down here in the Virginia, but it was particularly difficult due to the recent winter snow event that resulted in the shelves being bare.

The first store was a complete bust boot wise, but I did score on some crazy cheap wrapping paper and Nate found some gloves he liked. He also found a dozen other things he wanted. Max wanted to go to the bathroom and then needed water. We then shuffled outside and headed to the next store which was conveniently located next door.

At the second store Rebecca found a pair she really, really liked. The store was down to one box and miracle of miracles it was her size. As she slid the boots on she declared them to be sooooo comfortable. Yay! One pair found, another to go. Meanwhile Nate found more stuff he wanted. I herded everbody outside and into the car and at some point Rebecca scraped her knee.

A short car ride across two parking lots we arrived at store three. Rebecca was issued a band-aid and we all went inside. After extensive searching we found the one pair of boots in Jake's size (9 wide for those keeping score) and he actually liked them. Then Nate wanted more shoes and Max was again dying of thirst. At this point I was mentally done with the whole thing and just wanted to get out. After I paid for the boots I literally said "Now that you have touched everything in the store it is time to leave."

So it may have been more efficient to take all four shopping, but I won't be doing that again for a long time.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snow Days

snow boots
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today would have been the penultimate day of school before winter break. However, the weather felt differently on the subject and as a result winter break started today instead.

Our school system threw in the towel last night, but only after every other school district declared a snow day. For a few hours last night I had a very sad twelve year old mooning about the house until the word came that school was off.

The snow took its own sweet time getting here. When it did finally arrive, oh boy did the roads get greasy fast. I was out at 11 to pick up a few things and it was not particularly fun. At least all the other drivers recognized the treacherous conditions and we all kept he speed well below the speed limit. Once I got back home, that was it for the day. No more last minute dashes to the store.

As for the kids, they enjoyed their day off in grand style. Plenty of Wii, the annual checking out of the snow gear (snow pants were good, but we need two pairs of boots), and an epic snow battle throughout the yard and into the woods. The only way it could get better would be if they could get tomorrow off .

Wish granted.

With a bit of sleet that appeared at the end of the storm and the freezing temperatures the roads tomorrow morning the roads will be horrific. The school district has, wisely decided to cancel school on Friday.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Artist of the Week: Symphonic

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Jake is this week's artist for his recent Holiday Concert.

Now that marching season (Who knew there was an official marching season?) is over, the symphonic band goes into full gear. During the school year they have been learning various pieces of music in band class. Last Thursday the 9th, the Symphonic Band (of which Jake is a member) along with the Wind Symphony jointly performed for the 2010 Holiday Concert.

The Symphonic Band and the Wind Symphony played three pieces of music apiece. Unfortunately my camera's batteries gave up the ghost very early on in the concert. I was only able to record just part of the first piece, "Christmas of the Toreador," performed by Jake's band.

I thought they sounded great. My camera, however, did a poor job capturing the richness of he band's sound. Even my entourage of Nate, Max and Rebecca found the concert to be pretty good. Rebecca particularly enjoined Carol of the Bells, the third and final selection of Symphonic.

What made the whole concert really amazing was that the schools bad director had just gone on maternity leave about a month ago. She was able to attend the concert with he wee babe, but purely as a member of the audience. Her substitute very ably picked of the reins and kept the band going during her absence.

I can't wait for the next concert when the band director is back. It should be fantastic.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What Is This, New England?

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Monday morning we were greeted with this rather unexpected sight, an almost two inch blanket of snow.

It had been raining heavily all weekend and in the wee hours of the morning the temperature dropped and the rain quickly turned to snow. The branches have are almost artistically frosted with snow and the flakes lay thickly on the deck and lawn, much to our dogs annoyance.

The kids, however, were delighted. But the roads had remained clear and school was still on. It didn't even rate a two hour delay.

The next big surprise has been the temperature. Normally It will be well above freezing during the day and come late afternoon the snow will be pretty much gone. Not so this time, the mercury has stubornly refused to go above freezing and the nights have been dipping down to the upper teens. It feels more like New England than the Mid-Atlantic.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Trofest Finalists - FLASHBACK

This movie, Lamb, was a Tropfest finalist in 2002.
I think this is a beautifully done film. It's emotionally raw, but well worth the time. I promise I'll feature something a little more upbeat next week.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Back in the Saddle

I have mentioned that we have a friend with horses and we went and visited the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Jake stayed home (there was a potential conflict with his trumpet lesson), but the remaining three came along and had a great time riding a pony. Our friend even offered to saddle up a horse for me to ride, but I politely declined. I was more interested in getting the kids comfortable with the pony and I wouldn't be able to supervise them as closely if I was on horseback.

So instead, we arranged for me to come back another time sans children.

It's been over 18 years since I've last been on a horse, so I was just a wee bit apprehensive. I knew we were going to start out slow and the mare I would be riding was quiet and well mannered, but I knew I was going to hurt. It was just a question of how much. When I used to ride I was fairly decent and was at the point where I really used my legs. I remembered the last time I went on hiatus (it was only 7 years that time) my legs felt like jelly and I literally staggered away. Now I was 20 years older and certainly less fit.

I sent a half hour in the ring alone with the my steed getting a feel for her and remembering how to put it all together. Then we were off for an almost hour long trail ride. I'm proud to say I was not dumped, I did not fall off, and I was invited back again. As for for how I felt post ride- pretty good. I did not have jelly legs and it took about half an hour for my calves to decide I was an evil, evil person. Fortunately two ibuprofens did the trick and I felt fine after a day and a half.

When I went back last Friday I had my own boots and helmet. After such a successful first outing I was willing to get my own gear. Amazingly it went even better. We did a bit more cantering and attempted a couple of jumps. My calves had gotten over their pique from the previous time and I did not need any sort of pain relief.

It's nice to know that I'm not nearly as decrepit as I feared and I get to do something that I really enjoy doing.

Friday, December 10, 2010

100 Books

The book meme has been floating around on the internets for some time. Basically it's list of 100 books and you get to check those you have read. If I counted right I have read 32 of the 100 books, well above the challenge statement: " We believe most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here."

Which ones have you read?

Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

6 The Bible Various

7 Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte

8 1984 George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations Charles Dickens

11 Little Women Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare William Shakespeare

15 Rebecca Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong Sebastian Faulk

18 Catcher in the Rye JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch George Elio

21 Gone With The Wind Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby F Scott Fitzgerald

23 War and Peace Leo Tolstoy

24 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams

25 Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky

26 Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck

27 Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll

28 The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame

29 Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy

30 David Copperfield Charles Dickens

31 Chronicles of Narnia CS Lewis

32 Emma Jane Austen

33 Persuasion Jane Austen

34 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe CS Lewis

35 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini

36 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis De Bernieres

37 Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden

38 Winnie the Pooh AA Milne

39 Animal Farm George Orwell

40 The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown

41 One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez

42 A Prayer for Owen Meaney John Irving

43 The Woman in White Wilkie Collins

44 Anne of Green Gables LM Montgomery

45 Far From The Madding Crowd Thomas Hardy

46 The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood

47 Lord of the Flies William Golding

48 Atonement Ian McEwan

49 Life of Pi Yann Martel

50 Dune Frank Herbert

51 Cold Comfort Farm Stella Gibbons

52 Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen

53 A Suitable Boy Vikram Seth

54 The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon

55 A Tale Of Two Cities Charles Dickens

56 Brave New World Aldous Huxley

57 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time Mark Haddon

58 Love In The Time Of Cholera Gabriel Garcia Marquez

59 Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck

60 Lolita Vladimir Nabokov

61 The Secret History Donna Tartt

62 The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold

63 Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas

64 On The Road Jack Kerouac

65 Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy

66 Bridget Jones’s Diary Helen Fielding

67 Midnight’s Children Salman Rushdie

68 Moby Dick Herman Melville

69 Oliver Twist Charles Dickens

70 Dracula Bram Stoker

71 The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett

72 Notes From A Small Island Bill Bryson

73 Ulysses James Joyce

74 The Inferno Dante

75 Swallows and Amazons Arthur Ransom

76 Germinal Emile Zol

77 Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackera

78 Possession AS Byatt

79 A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens

80 Cloud Atlas David Mitchel

81 The Color Purple Alice Walker

82 The Remains of the Day Kazuo Ishiguro

83 Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert

84 A Fine Balance Rohinton Mistry

85 Charlotte’s Web EB White

86 The Five People You Meet In Heaven Mitch Albom

87 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

88 The Faraway Tree Collection Enid Blyton

89 Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad

90 The Little Prince Antoine De Saint-Exupery

91 The Wasp Factory Iain Banks

92 Watership Down Richard Adams

93 A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole

94 A Town Like Alice Nevil Shute

95 The Three Musketeers Alexandre Dumas

96 Hamlet William Shakespeare

97 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl

98 Les Miserables Victor Hugo

9Bleak House Charles Dickens

100 Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Eighth Night

Eighth Night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Last night, Wednesday, was the eighth and final night of Hanukkah.

After I took this picture of Rebecca and Nate lighting the menorahs my camera promptly announced that its card was full and shut down.

And I was perfectly fine with that.

I knew I had he picture I wanted and I was in no hurry to clear out the card for more pictures. Sometimes getting the shot you want is easy.

Artist of the Week: Drum Recital

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Max is this week's artist.

Larry took this picture of Max while we were at a friend's house. This is the same friend that I mentioned before with all the horses. Max climbed up on the fence to wait for his turn on the pony.

I was pretty amazed that he was interested in riding. He was quite adamant at home that he was NOT going to do any sort of riding. He was going to go along and check out the place and that was it.

But... after watching Rebecca and, most importantly, Nate have fun riding the very well mannered pony, Max decided to give it a shot. After a few laps around the ring Max was eager to go up to a trot. When his turn was up he reluctantly slid off the pony's back.

With drums, however, he never experienced any sort of uncertainty. He wanted to play drums and was very happy when we found him a teacher. Max started lessons last spring with Josh, the son of a friend of ours.

Josh and Max really hit it off and during the beginning of the video below Josh tells how much he likes Max. The performance lasted about a half hour with our family, including Grandma and Grandpa, in attendance.

Max did a great job and had a terrific time. If you last to the the end of the video you can see when Josh and Max had a little jam session.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Seventh Night

Seventh Night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Tuesday was my birthday and the eighth night of Hanukkah. After a delightful dinner out we lit the candles and enjoyed their now very bright and rather hot glow.

With three menorahs in action you almost didn't need to have the lights on. It was a beautiful sight to behold.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Sixth Night

Sixth Night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
And it's my birthday.

Last night was the sixth night of Hanukkah. Three of my crew got to light them. It looks like we'll have to get another menorah so that everybody will get to light one.

Since it is my birthday I'm being brief, Weezie's is calling my name.

Monday, December 06, 2010

First Snow and Fifth Night Party

first snow
Originally uploaded by
Saturday night we got our first real snowfall of the season. I did see a brief flurry while grilling dinner Friday (nothing like seeing stuff falling from the sky and sizzling on the hot grill- I was very confused at first), but nothing stuck. It was beatiful watching the flakes fall and coat the deck with a light blanket of snow.

The ground was too warm for any sort of significant or lasting coverage, but it was pretty while it lasted. Grandma asked the kids if any of them had been dreaming of a white Hanukkah. Sadly by the end of the day Sunday it was all gone.

Fifth Night and Party
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Which brings us to the fifth night and our congregation's Hanukkah party. I went early to help out with the preparations. I ended up being the assistant fry cook and latke mixer. There were about 50 people at the party and Meryl and I ended up cooking pretty much all of the latkes. They were delicious and more than enough to go around.

We all ate to nearly bursting, listen to the Rabbi's daughter sing and a few of us even danced. It was a lovely way to spend the fifth night of Hanukkah.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Third and Fourth Night

Third Night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Friday night was the start of the third day of Hanukkah and was also Larry's birthday. We had a lovely dinner of flank steak with latkes and a lovely Pino Noir we had been saving. For dessert I made Chocolate Sybil cake, a truly scrumptious chocolate cake that is dead easy to make.

However, that morning I also went horse back riding for the first time in oh... 18 years. It was a lot of fun and I'm proud to say I lasted an hour and did not fall off the horse. Unfortunately my calves made it very plain to me that I was a very bad person and it took a big dose of ibuprofen to get them to quite down (Yay, better living through chemistry!) So I was just plain wiped out at the end of the day. It's a minor miracle that I even took pictures. But... I did take pictures and this is our bicycle chain menorah. I found it at a funky little store in Careytown called Ten Thousand Villages last year. It's simplicity called out to me. Coupled with my renewed interest in biking , I couldn't resist it.

Fourth Night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Saturday night was the fourth night of Hanukkah which we got to celebrate with my in-laws who had just come down for the weekend. Coincidentally it was also my mother-in-laws birthday. After a quick candle lighting we skedaddled out for dinner at Weezie's and the 7:15 show at the Byrd Theater.

The food, as always, was fabulous. The movie, The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hool, was less so. It wasn't a bad movie (the CGI was impressive), but it really butchered the books. At least we had Bob and the mighty Wurlitzer and only paid two bucks a head.

So as you can see we have been a bit busy with even more to post later.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Second Night

Second Night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Here are the candles from the second night of Hannukah.

I almost forgot to post this. Essentially I remembered while lighting the candles for tonight before the candles for Shabbat. I had a great big duh moment as I was laying out the candles and looking for the camera. At least I took the pictures!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

First Night

First night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today is the first day of Hanukkah and this is my favorite menorah.

I've blogged about it before, so I won't bore you with the story.

I hope your evenings will be merry and bright.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Artist of the Week: Fall 2010 Recital

Happy rider
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Rebecca this week is back in the spotlight again as the Artist of the Week.

The day before the grand festival of food known as Thanksgiving, we visited a friend in a neighboring county. She has invited us a few times and enticed with the fact that she has many horses and one very patient pony. It was a beautiful day Wednesday and the kids had the day off from school. So we loaded up the van to go see and ride the horses.

Rebecca was ecstatic. She loves horses and this would be her first time really riding a pony. She has been you on a pony before, but the pony rides at the county fair don't quite count.

We groomed and saddled the pony, just using a bareback pad- I wanted my children to really feel the pony and not mess around with stirrups. After a few laps around the ring with me at the pony's head I let her go solo. She even got to ride at a trot for a fair bit.

I proud to say she did a fine job and had a nice seat even at a trot. All those years of having her sit up straight and tall at the piano has paid off in unexpected ways.

As for her piano playing, well that's the real reason she's the artist this week.

The weekend before Thanksgiving was Rebecca's Fall Recital. She did a nice job with her piece, Night Owl by Rollin.

Unfortunately I was a little slow off the mark in taping and missed the opening bit of the piece. However, poor camera work aside, you still get a good sense of the piece.

I love her poise at the piano and the big grin on her face as she returns to her seat.