Thursday, December 31, 2009

December 31

Last post of December and no pictures - sigh.

We all went to dinner at Rick and Kay's - fabulous food and even better company, as always. Especially nice to see Julia and Frazier again after so long.

I don't make resolutions and I don't stay up til midnight and today was a rather difficult day, so I'm signing off for the last time in 2009.

I hope you all have a lovely last few hours of the old year and that your new year is full of blessings, challenges and adventures. Lots of love from us at Smells Like...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

December 30

Chris and George went fishing out of Beaufort, NC today. The catch: mostly shark, with a handful of pelicans thrown in for good measure.

The highlights:


2. "So I gave him [the pelican wrangler, above, Captain Marty] the Alexis deTocqueville lecture..."

3. "If he can catch a pelican, he can catch Dad."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December 29

Wishin' he was fishin'...

instead of driving to all ends of the earth in search of candied citron.

Monday, December 28, 2009

December 28

Issy seepin'...Bahn seepin'...


Sunday, December 27, 2009

December 27

Beautiful in that lovely homespun outsider arty way - the Greensboro Light Balls.

Exceptionally hard to photograph, but still lovely.

Caitlin got up close and personal with a rare low-hung light ball.
And then there's Lucy - lovely and easy to photograph! Is there anything more adorable than a little girl dancing in a tutu?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

December 26

No pictures today - just didn't have the camera handy. And no inspiration to write really, either, as I've spent way more time than I wanted to trying to make the blog into a book. And still, barely any progress has been made.

So, a day late, Friday Fill-Ins!

1. My boots are happy to have seen a lot of use this already this winter.
2. We have no idea what will really happen this century.
3. Imitation is the beginning of inspiration.
4. Is it weird that I can't type and talk?
5. I'd like to see some changes around here.
6. What is it going to take for you to be able to get over it?
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to exploring, tomorrow my plans include Boba Tea and Sunday, I want to dig deep at the vintage store down the street.

Friday, December 25, 2009

December 25

Finally! Pictures.

Smalls on the move.

Cake - even Elmo loves it.
Chicken - Mookie finally decided Chris is an alright guy.
Reading a Hanukkah book on Christmas.
A book of po-ems for Grandpa, written by Caitlin.
Sheer delight and the patience of Job - a friendship may be blooming.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

December 24

I give up. The interwebs are clogged by all the people staying up, watching Santa's progress around the world on NORAD and I can't Blogger to load my 3 measly pictures.

But it was a lovely day none the less. We celebrated Ginny's birthday with a big delicious dinner followed by the world's best chocolate cake. (I am not kidding, and you know I know chocolate cake. My mother-in-law has found the ultimate recipe and Susannah's execution today was flawless. Hosannah in the highest!) The little dudes all enjoyed each other's company, but Mookie is clearly the most adored Virginia relative. With a delightful display of good-nature he let Lucy chase him around and around the house, shouting, "A dog! A dog Mookie!" all the while. He promptly passed out at 9:30.

And us old folks are getting on famously too. Looking forward to seeing BUE tomorrow, along with more of the Rick and Kay clan.

And pictures, really looking forward to being able to post some pictures.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December 23

Guess where we are...

... and we couldn't be happier! Babies (and dads) sleeping, lots of laughing and reading and so on. So glad to have so many days together.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December 22

I just wrote, posted, and deleted a huge long post about children, freedom and ridiculous parenting. (If you happened to see it during the 7 minutes it was up, congratulations. If you actually read the whole thing... gosh.)

I've reconsidered. Not recanted, just, um, well. I meant every word of it - just don't feel like this is the time or place to put it out there.

Here, look at my kids, being cute and doing great crazy fun wild dangerous stuff on their own.

Also, I love cookies. Makin' em, eatin' em. Love em. Good thing I'm going to Greensboro tomorrow.

And now, off to, you guessed it, make more cookies!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Slow As

When I was a 19 and a sophomore in college I started trading Grateful Dead shows. I quickly branched out into Phish and all sorts of other goodies, thanks to the rapidly growing interwebs. I connected with a guy in Winston-Salem, NC, Peter, who had lots of masters of rare Phish shows and we did a fair bit of trading over the years. We also struck up an email correspondence of sorts (he was in grad school for film making, which meant he was an excellent writer and procrastinator - outstanding qualities in a correspondent) and one email in particular has always stuck with me. He was trying to quit smoking and in place of cigarettes he was devoting himself to being totally present and focused on whatever he was eating or drinking. I got a long detailed letter one day about a glass of cold cold water that he drank in his backyard, on one of those old-school plastic webbed lawn chairs. It was beautiful and inspiring in an odd sort of way, enough to stay vivid in my memory these 15 long years. I can still see the spacing of his paragraphs and the image of him in that lawn chair, drinking out of a mason jar remains as it was the day his words first conjured it in my mind.

For whatever reason I've been thinking about the way Peter devoted himself to the act of nourishing his body, and the lucidity he generated around something so simple as a glass of water. Maybe I've been hitting the sweets a bit to hard, maybe the absence of truly good food has finally sunk in, maybe I'm just having culinary sensory overload... who knows. But I thought of Peter and his glass of water again 3 days ago and its made a difference.

I was making myself oatmeal for breakfast and as I went to get the brown sugar my stomach lurched. I couldn't bring myself to heap a glob of that lovely brown sugary goodness onto my already lovely oatmeal. Walnuts got stirred in instead. And as I sat there eating my plain oatmeal with walnuts I really paid attention to it.

Oatmeal. Walnuts. Cold glass of milk. Cool smooth wooden table. Tight hard ridges of a cotton placemat and soft thin cotton napkin. Sun pouring in the patio doors, playing off mounds of snow.

Simple, clean, uncomplicated sensory experiences. But taken as they are, on their own terms, it was beautiful and I was hooked. And the key to the experience for me was the pure oatmeal, the pure walnuts. So I've been looking for other chances to slow down, pare down and really take my food on its own terms, for what it is, unadulterated by fake flavors of substances I've been trained to crave by the industrial food marketing comples.

Grapefruit today at lunch, accompanied by my husband's good natured, rapid fire cadence against the backdrop of a rare and momentary silence in the house.

And shortly there after, a drop of blackstrap molasses, wiped off the bottle after I added a bunch to my chili.

Fireman save my child!

I'm sure I've tasted molasses before, but good golly this was something else entirely. I had another taste, and another. Soon I was licking the spoon and scraping the measuring cup out with my fingers.

Tomorrow molasses meets oatmeal. The walnuts aren't invited. I'm almost willing to go to bed early just to get to breakfast time already. And I'm now eagerly looking for other things to eat, and savour. To get on molasses time with and really truly sink in to it...

December 21

After months of anticipation, today was the official launch of our D&D career, as a family.

In India Chris improvised as a way to bring some structure and intellectual involvement to action figure play with Ben. They made characters and Chris created stories for the characters to move through, but it was all a bit rough around the edges and hard to sustain, given all of Chris's other obligations.

Yesterday Chris took the kids up to Staunton and bought a stack of vintage D&D books and a sack full of goofy looking dice. Ben and I read through much of the players' handbook this afternoon and both kids pored over the other books (the monster guide in particular) on their own. (In between marathon sledding sessions across the street. During which we discovered that Mookie likes sledding! But that's another blog post, isn't it?) And then we got down to business when Chris came home from work tonight.

I declared a working dinner and everyone enjoyed their D&D prep with a side of chili and cornbread. (This may be my best chili yet - heavily spiced with cocoa and cinnamon - rich, dark, complex - yum! From the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook.)

John Hiatt provided the sound track and since there were already more than enough people doing D&D, I read more of a wonderful book that Keely lent me - By Heart, by Kathleen Melin. Its an account of a family learning at home that is as honest and intelligent and moving as any I've ever read. If you're at all interested in home schooling or even just looking for a good read about family life, this book is worth hunting down.

After dinner the gamers adjourned to the living room. Mookie wished (again) for opposable thumbs and the capacity for speech. Poor Mookie.

I'm off to bake Molasses Spice Cookies!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December 20

Chris dug the car out today.

Mookie did not want to help.

But finally,

after 28 minutes...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

December 19

Its only 4 and already I'm ready for bed - So. Much. Shoveling. While Chris and the kids are out sledding and fort building (for the third time!), I'm filing today's post a bit early with every confidence that there'll be plenty of opportunities to take sledding and snow fort pictures tomorrow. Last time I measured we were at 20" and it had momentarily stopped snowing. But snow is falling again so we may well top 2 feet before this is all finished! Here's how things look today...

Remember our pond? (See yesterday's post for a reminder.) Here's what it looks like now.

Our car is the first hump.

And this is view out the back. Check out that mound of snow on the garbage can!

And finally, our lovely home, before I really started shoveling in earnest. Chris and I both made attempts to clear the steps a bit last night, but mostly failed. What you see is mostly just a result of us scrambling up and down.

Happily I made some tasty baked oatmeal to fuel today's exertions.

And now to ponder dinner and try to crank out a few tiny knitted somethings for a sweet tiny girl!

Friday, December 18, 2009

December 18

Flurries started around 2:20. By 3 the backyard looked like this. (This qualifies as 'snow' around here and people get excited about this sort of accumulation.

By the time we headed to our neighbor's for Hanukkah festivities there was enough snow for a (slow) run down the sledding hill across the street, and enough to register foot prints in the road.

And then, by the time we came home, just before 7:30, this is what it looked like!

We measured 9 inches in the yard and 7.5 in the street. Mookie's belly no longer cleared the snow, but he seemed thrilled to jump around in it. We walked out to Main St, which barely seemed to have been plowed, and none of the side streets had been done. Wonder how many snow plows Lexington owns... There were lots and lots of people out walking and marveling at the snow too.

Now at 9:30ish I just measured 11 inches in the yard and its coming down as hard as ever. The weather report calls for a 100% chance of snow from now until 8pm tomorrow and 16-20 inches in my part of the state, with higher accumulation along the Blue Ridge, which is where we are. Can't wait to see what we wake up to tomorrow!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

December 17

Mookie's Big Day

helped fold the laundry

kept an eye on things out front

made sure I felt totally adored while I cooked

had cookies named after him - Wookiee Cookies are now Mookie Cooookies, thanks to Eli

met a cow

and a goat.

Now sleeping so soundly, for hours on end. Its good to be a dog.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December 16th

Adding another trip to Roanoke each week may be worth it in the long run, especially if Caitlin and I continue to have such great conversations. We talked about different relationship energy dynamics and the ins and outs of recording a rock band in a studio. Also touched on the difference between lead and rhythm guitar and how the energy in the house changes depending on parent presence. In between the talks in the car she learned about the genocide in Darfur and worked on a relief project with her B'nai Mitzvot class. Awesome kid.

(I scanned the collected works of Cesar Milan and consumed really awful Starbucks/Cheesecake Factory/Barnes & Noble fake food. Awesome timepass.) (Yes, timepass really is a word. There are even timepass wallahs on the trains in India.)

Dinner at the Roanoker and the picture of me in front of it - not quite so awesome. But again, totally worth it.

Obligatory Mookie Update: He makes noises like a Wookiee. (Yes, Wookiee has 2 ee's.) But almost exclusively when I'm not home. Getting mellower still. Love this dog. So. Much.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 15

5 bucks at the thrift store and my kids have all the equipment they need to build a robot. Ben has hopes that it will actually move and talk. Something about using the keyboard chip to allow the robot to 'type' its thoughts. If only my skills matched his enthusiasm! Any ideas on how to facilitate for a budding robotics engineer?

In other news, 3 of Chris's students joined us for dinner tonight. We reprised last night's feast, improved only by Chris's superior latkes. Turns out his Sanskrit student is a dreidel whiz but int the end Ben and one of Chris's seminar students triumphed with a HUGE pile of chocolate.

Mookie continues to mellow and was totally cool with tonight's activities. He's such a great little guy - I'm so grateful that the star aligned and he was able to join the family.

Monday, December 14, 2009

December 14

Must blog fast - only 6 minutes of 12/14 remain...

A boy and his dog. (Yep, it really is that warm here!)

Decorating cookies...

and dancing up a storm.
It was another darn fine Hanukkah party, even without the hammer puppets.

"That's weird, how people who are associated with Roseanne Barr turn out to be Jewish," my husband just said. Perhaps the same could be said of him? Because we all know, I'm as Jewish as f'n Tevya.

(N.B. Too many latkes and staying up too late makes for rather incoherent blogging...)