Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve

It's snowing here. Again. For about the 7th time in a week and a half. We have about a foot, with something between one-half and four inches predicted for today. Our buses haven't run since last Wednesday. Really.

Day one: It snowed all day. Big beautiful flakes that Ukiah fell in love with. "This the snow I've always wanted," he explained. We ran giggling through alleys to friends' houses, played at the playground and of course, sledded to our hearts content.

Day two: More snow and sledding. All fun and games until Aslin and Ukiah borrowed an inner tube from some friends and rather taking it down the hill into the pillowy nest of the now frozen wading pool, they plowed right into a basketball hoop post. Ukiah rolled, the tube popped, Aslin crashed and a crowd of adult-strangers pulled out phones, 911 on speed dail. Meanwhile, a crowd of child-strangers returned to sledding. Aslin's recovery was aided by hot chocolate at home.

Day three: Realize that there will be no Christmas gifts, for anyone, that don't come from within walking distance of the Owlhouse. Spend hours on lovely urban hike, note ice accumulation on side walks. Stop for afternoon wine and coffee before picking up as many groceries as can be carried down steep hills of ice.

Day Four: Bake fantastic ginger drops and almond cookies with intention of sharing with neighbors and possibly the mechanics who fixed the truck last week for no charge. (Truck does not handle snow, sorry mechanics. Maybe new year's cookies?) Loan wooden rail sled to neighbor who needs transportation.

Day 5: Wonder if it's too late to mail order gifts for assorted friends and family. Reality check, $15 priority shipping is too much for a t-shirt. No mail delivered for next two days. Get crafty. More sledding with improvised sled surfing. Cocktail hour with neighbors.

Day 6: Wonder if it might be time to shovel the steps and sidewalk. Wonder if we'll make it to Tacoma for Christmas. Wonder if the mail will come today. Walk to the international district then down town. Get a ride home with friend. Spend more than an hour traveling approximately 26 blocks by car. Appreciate quality catching up time, no longer hold so much frustration about lack of buses.

Day 7: Finally mail a handful of cards. Sparkly little penguin cards bringing cheer to the holiday season. They'd have gone out earlier, but I wanted to include a picture of the kids. Of course, not having planned ahead, we didn't have a proper holiday photo. Not "proper" in having them dressed in complimentary outfits posing (naturally candid) in front of an evergreen tree, merely "proper" in that they are both smiling and in focus. You know how this story goes. I waited, sure that the right photo opportunity would present itself. Then, we would find addresses for friends we'd lost touch with and send wonderful best wishes/catching up greeting cards, complete with lovely photo of the ever talented/interesting/charming children. I forgot, remembering only occasionally and always at the least opportune moments.

So, we looked back at the year's photos- thinking a collage of sorts, delived as a pdf file, might make up for the lack of planning. Pictures of spring and summer camping are sweet- the beach, the river, the campfires... The kids dressed up for the B and A's wedding ... The kung fu performance...

My personal favorites of the year include the box series, accordion evening and choir concerts ...

In the end, we didn't find the perfect photographic expression of our year and the formatting of the would be e-card would not cooperate. So, we walked through snow to the drug store to print wallet-size copies of this gem...

Ukiah and Aslin in Santa's chair at the Christmas tree farm.

And if you didn't receive a sweet parade of penguins sliding down a snowy hill, please know it's solely due to our complete disorganization. Love and wishes for the new year!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

we miss you

Um. It's been a while. We were going to call, write, tell you we were running late. But things come up. School, jobs, moves, seasons, pets, whatnot.

But we're never stopped thinking of you, dear owlhouseblog. We wonder if you'll have us back? Nothing serious, no commitment, maybe we should just test the waters?

Thursday, February 14, 2008


This is what democracy looks like.
Dozens of classic yellow post-it notes tracking votes or maybe pledges. A woman with a baby on her back ticks names off a sign in sheet. She writes, scratches, counts and writes again. One sticky on top another, lining the ones, tens, hundreds columns. She counts in her head, on her fingers. It's Obama 4:1 and the baby doesn't cry.

But what about experience? And all that was swept under the rug? It's the health care plan. Remember the economic boom, budget surplus? Who can beat McCain?We're ready for change. The end of the war. Pro choice. Tell me why.

My neighbors talk. Argue. Implore. I look for the 6 who held who held our precinct for last election cycle. Are they glad to have our company? Do they puzzle why we left them, alone, to determine the second WBush challenger? Do they fault us, blame themselves?

There'd be more conversation. Maybe answers and surely tears. But the elementary school is filled. Beyond capacity. In violation of fire codes. The line outside circles the block. We're running out of sign in sheets. There aren't enough chairs. The babies will grow tired and the sticky won't hold my vote to the clip board forever. We've exceeded the space allocated our democracy. After pledging the flag, naming a candidate, and possibly making a donation to the party, we are welcome to leave.

I drag my feet. It's a flawed system of broken pencils and too few volunteers. A charming, near hypnotic chaos with errors more personal, more public, more likely to be corrected, than those of the machines,.

(I suppose lack of timeliness is just one of the issues preventing my successful career in journalism. Happy Valentine's Day!)

Monday, February 11, 2008


We haven't visited Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War at MOHAI, but Brad's thinking of taking the kids to living history day this Saturday. And we've all been learning a bit more about the war between the states. Aslin's learned to pronounce "Ulysses" and Ukiah finds it ironic that it was the northern republicans who advocated emancipation. We've been reading about the underlying labor and class struggles, the proposal that Union draftees could opt out of service for a $300 fee, and the power of individual states.

Our day would have continued with readings of the Gettysburg Address, but the Devo dvd couldn't be renewed. And I just paid $34 to clear our library fines. So, we turned our attention to August 17, 1980, the Phoenix Theatre in Petaluma, CA for lessons in the genius that is DEVO. The republicans were an entirely different breed by then- frightening, angering and motivating art-school kids across the nation.

I sing just a little too loud and we pause Jocko Homo for philosophical discussion on the evolution/de-evolution of society, government, industry and culture.
And today, I love homeschooling.

Freedom of Choice

by Devo
A victim of collision on the open sea
Nobody ever said that life was free
Sank, swam, go down with the ship
But use your freedom of choice

Ill say it again in the land of the free
Use your freedom of choice
Your freedom of choice

In ancient rome there was a poem
About a dog who found two bones
He picked at one
He licked the other
He went in circles
He dropped dead

Freedom of choice
Is what you got
Freedom of choice!

Then if you got it you dont want it
Seems to be the rule of thumb
Dont be tricked by what you see
You got two ways to go

Ill say it again in the land of the free
Use your freedom of choice
Freedom of choice...

Freedom of choice
Is what you got
Freedom from choice
Is what you want

Saturday, February 09, 2008

today on craigslist

Ten hour days, six days a week, June-October.
I think I could do it.
Do you suppose they'd welcome the kids too?


Polls in all but Alaska were closed Super Tuesday when I over overheard Aslin on the phone with my mom.

"I think they should buddy-up."

She went on with her wise words, no doubt exciting my mom with her political insight on the potential of a Clinton/Obama, Obama/Clinton ticket.

Ukiah's holding judgment, unsure who might make the better leader, but assuring all that Obama is an impressive speaker. Aslin chimes in that she shook his hand.

We'll take them to caucus with us today. I'll excuse myself a little early and head for an equally lively event, the bride wrangler dress summit.

It's no help with the dress questions, but the fine folks at Fuse walk you right through the caucus process. Thanks to the homeschool folks for continuing to share great resources.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

big ideas

Aslin- Empathic Clown
Nora- Motivational Lipstick
Brad- Alien Vacation
Ukiah- Sport-Utility Vacuum

Three cheers for Cheap Ass Games!

With Monolopy money, Pokemon and Magic counters, pennies and nickels, and the ability to lobby endlessly, we've been enjoying our newest game. The day I draw "organic" and "paradise" in the same hand, is the day I invest heavily and bring in the 12-sided die.

Monday, February 04, 2008

that's better

Shelved between roughly 3 dozen cookbooks, file folders marked with chocolate finger prints and olive oil gather dust. It's not because the magazine clippings and hand copied recipes are disorganized, never alphabetized into a binder, that I ignore their content.

Maybe I'd find an identical cookie recipe in our ancient copy of Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, but I bypass what I vaguely remember as tried and true as well as the would be better ifs. I know I should, I make mental notes to, teach my kids to- but I rarely make notes in the margins of my own cookbook. And since I don't remember if adding an extra 1/2 cup water or using roasted rather then fresh garlic would have improved the recipe, I trust the stories and suggestions of strangers.
  • "Perfect texture."
  • "We took these to a party and then ate the rest for breakfast. Easy and delicious"
  • "These were exactly what a snickerdoodle should be. I substituted 3 tsp baking powder for the cream of tartar and baking soda, and they still turned out beautifully - great texture. I'll probably add a bit of vanilla when I make them again."
Thanks RecipeZaar.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

note to self

When thinking of making snickerdoodles, really wanting homemade cookies and the extra warmth the oven provides, cream of tartar is essential.

When neither you nor your neighbors have any, do not attempt to satisfy the cookie urge with leftover beets. Even chioggias disappoint.

With a little notice, the baking fairy at flour power can meet all sweet tooth needs!

Monday, January 21, 2008

eggplant plus

Tofu Robot loves eggplant.

And we love Uwajimaya for the rice noodles, smoked tofu, lychee ice cream, tea cup collection, and Kinokuniya Bookstore. Here, we found the books for Ukiah's Japanese class and the t-shirt for Brad's birthday.

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In unrelated news, I have a special appreciation for the state patrol officer who last week assured me that it was fine to ignore the "park closed" sign. We'd driven an hour plus, into the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, only to find a rope denying access to the Hyak snow park. An unexpected complication for the dozen of us who meticulously checked avalanche reports, chain requirements and hot chocolate availability before heading out for a day of sledding.

"You won't ticket us?" I asked.
"I won't. Doesn't make sense that it's closed," he answered, pulling the shovel from his trunk.

He went to help dig out an suv and we found parking in a lot maintained to suit the skills and tires of us city folk.