The most requested thing for dinner around here? Noodles. With butter.

Monday, October 31, 2011


I'm upstairs in the bedroom, hiding from the beggars. All the house lights are off, and the computer screen is dimmed. It's sort of a game I play every year at this time- to see if I can fool the neighbor kids into thinking I am not home so they don't ring my doorbell. So far, no ringers, but the night is yet young...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Two kinds of PERFECT

I love fall. I love the start of school, the smell of new books, the look of changing leaves, the feel of the down comforter on the bed... ahhhhhh.
The thing I like most is the change in the weather. I love cooler days and downright cold nights.
In my opinion there are two kinds of PERFECT fall days here in the PNW.

The first kind of perfect usually occurs in October. The day starts a little foggy, but then the sun burns off the fog and shines brightly on the yellow, orange and red leaves. Set against a bright blue sky, the trees seem to glow from within. The sky is not your ordinary blue- it's deeper, more intense, almost closer than the sky in the summer. The blue assaults your retinas- contrasted with some of the oranges and yellows, it's almost painful. I love that.

The second kind of perfect fall day is pretty much the opposite of the first. Lowering gray skies, wind picking up, big drops of rain kind of perfect. These happen more often in November. I prefer this kind of perfect on a Saturday when I don't have to leave the house. This is the kind of day when it's ok to stay in your jammies or lounge pants, read a good book by the fire, and sip tea till the storm passes. And if it takes awhile for the storm to pass, then you can change it up by snuggling with your favorite daughter on the couch while watching a movie and munching popcorn. Yeah. I love that, too.

We came close to the first kind of perfect this week. Maybe next week we'll get the second kind of perfect. I've got my eye on the weather channel...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bike update

Well, we've been out on the bike almost every day this past week! The two exceptions were days when it was pouring out.

We did have one small mishap. The turning radius is huge on this thing, and I tried to turn too sharp while pedaling too slowly. Since it is a recumbent, we didn't have too far to fall so we just got up, dusted ourselves off, and rode home. Here's our conversation on the way:
Me- Well, we survived our first wreck pretty well!
Kiddo- FIRST? You mean there's going to be MORE?

She still likes it, and asks to go riding every day. It has been fun teaching her about gears and brakes and how to watch out for broken glass, road kill, or storm drain grates along the bike lanes. I'm getting more used to how a recumbent balances, but I don't know if I am completely sold on the style just yet.

It's predicted to be sunny for the next few days- perfect for more practicing!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One bad apple...

I opened the fridge this morning, and this is what I saw:

Never a dull moment in our house.

Oh, by the way- best caption wins a prize! You have until Friday, October 14 at 9:00pm.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Let there be light

This is one of the most innovative things I have ever seen. Watch and tell me what you think.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Big plan

Before I tell you what this big plan is, I need to give you the back story...

In 7th and 8th grade, while living in Farmers Branch, TX, I rode my bike to school daily.
1.6 miles each way. I don't remember if this was the 1-speed bike with the balloon tires, coaster brake, and banana seat, or if it was the new yellow 10-speed with the dropped handlebars and the rack on the back that I earned by getting good grades. I suspect it was a bit of both. I remember some winter days the cold wind made my eyes water- even when I wore a ski mask to keep warm.

While attending community college in my current town, I rode my bike to school daily.
2.3 miles each way. This was on my blue 10-speed Nishiki with the brown seat and brown handlebar tape, fenders, rack with panniers on the back, and a light on the front. We live in a hilly town- local readers will know exactly what I mean when I say I used to go bombing down St. James- hoping the light at 39th would stay green so I could use the momentum to get me up the next hill. (And so I wouldn't have to wear out my brakes!) Of course, coming back home the same route was a chore. It took me half of the first semester each year to get to where I actually rode up St. Johns, instead of getting off and walking the bike. The winter days never really had the biting cold of Texas, but the NW rain was always something to contend with. A dear lady at our church prayed that it would not rain while I was riding, and for two years it only sprinkled twice while I was on the road. It would rain before I left, while I was in classes, or after I got home, but there was almost always a window of time where I could ride dry.
It. Was. Awesome.

At WWU, I lived off campus and often rode my bike to school. 5.5 miles each way. This was also on my trusty blue Nishiki. I didn't ride every day- the weather in Bellingham is colder and wetter than here, and the hills are hillier.

There is a teacher at my school who rides to work every day. He doesn't even live in this town- he lives across the river! He's rather inspiring and it makes me think back on my bike commuting days.

Ok, here's the plan:
It's highly likely that next year, my daughter will attend the middle school where I teach.
Since I won't have to drop her off at day care in the morning, or pick her up from there in the evening... (do you see where I am going with this?) I thought it would be the perfect scenario for us to commute to school/work by bike!

Not like this:
She can't keep up with me, doesn't have gears on her bike, and isn't that good with the traffic rules yet.

Like this:
That's a tandem recumbent bike. It's a LWB (long wheel base- over 12 feet long!) with OSS (over seat steering). It has fenders and a rack on the back. I got it used on craigslist for an incredible price (cheaper than listed on the link. Had to pick it up in Port Townsend- there and back in one day. My mother was not amused.). Yesterday we got it from the shop after its tune-up, and gave it a test ride. It felt really weird. So much different from an upright bike! I suppose I could have gotten an upright tandem, but after about 30 minutes on my upright I get tingles in my hands and feet and it's just not the most comfortable sitting position (some folks call upright bikes "wedgies").

Ab loves this. She asked to go riding today- even in the mist. We both are having fun learning to balance, and we plan to ride some every day this fall and winter so we are ready next school year for the commute. Total distance is 5.5 miles one way. And- drum roll please- there are bike lanes or bike paths the whole way there- even over the freeway!

So, even in my advanced years (seven squared), I am ready for a new adventure.
Lord willing, if we do this, we will accomplish 4 things:
1 We'll have fun together.
2 We'll get more physically fit.
3 We'll have to avoid McD's drive through on the way home from school.
4 We'll $ave trip$ to the ga$ pump.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

THE TRIP- part 5

Finally- huh?
July 19 Philadelphia

I have toured east coast historical sites many times with students and with my daughter, but never made it to Philadelphia until this summer (during the heat wave).
Summer is not the best time to visit Philadelphia. The historical section of the city is ok, and somewhat tidy, but you venture outside of that and you get big city dirt and smells- all of which are accentuated by summer's heat.

One cause of city smells.

Independence Hall- there's scaffolding on part of the building because they are restoring it.

George Washington

The park rangers gave the girls workbooks to fill out and trading cards to collect throughout the day. It was fun and made them ask and answer good questions.

The room where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Next door- the room where John Adams was sworn in as President.

The Liberty Bell

They were asking the ranger about the crack in the bell.

Too bad Ben's house no longer exists. His grandkids didn't want the upkeep...

There's just a "ghost structure"- based on drawings, blueprints, and footprint of the foundation.

When we finished the historic stuff, the girls showed the ranger their completed books and their trading cards. They received badges to commemorate their achievements, and then we headed a few blocks south to get some treats.
It was about 98 degrees outside with about 98% humidity.

During our walk, the surroundings changed from tidy historic sites to smelly, unkept, littered urbanscapes. I'm glad we didn't venture too far into the 'hood...

I had heard about this place on Food TV. Guy Fieri, Mark Summers, and Duff Goldman all raved about the ice cream concoctions at the Franklin Fountain. I figured three stout men couldn't be wrong, so I mapped it and discovered it was a few blocks from the historic sites. We oozed our way down the heat blasted streets and found they were right-
this is old fashioned ice cream nirvana.
Abs is deciding on a root beet float, while I order the Franklin Mint-
here's how they describe it:
"MINT CHIP and VANILLA ice creams striped in chocolate syrup,
FLUFFY MARSHMALLOW glaze and Crème de Menthe finished with home-made whipped cream and a mint green maraschino cherry."
Drool, drool drool...

Finished- wow!

I shared it with Ab.
We had to eat it fast, or it would became ice cream soup in the heat of the day.

After she finished her float, we walked back to the car, paid the Philadelphians an arm and a leg for the privilege of parking in their fair city, and drove to Providence, Rhode Island for night.

We had originally planned to visit Valley Forge, but because of the energy sapping heat and the long drive ahead of us, we took it out of the itinerary. Gotta roll with the punches. Next time, though... next time.