Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pictures from potluck

These are a few of the pictures from potluck. Nothing to do with food.   Everything to do with babies.

Yours, from behind the lens,

Friday, August 30, 2013

First potluck

We had the first potluck of the (soon-to-be-Fall) season this evening.  A small-ish --- but very nice --- turnout.
And there are babies in the air.  Our friends A&T announced this week that they are going to be parents, sometime in February: they were all aglow!  Our friend S has a new puppy, a small, yet-to-be named, Chihuahua.  And we have our new kitten.  Pictures will follow once I've uploaded some.

Yours, wondering about names,

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Well done, Skibo!

Congratulations to Skibo!  He just earned a second red stripe on his blue belt!

Yours, thrilled for him!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A new mouth to feed

We will, it seems, be getting a new mouth to feed.  Saturday, or so, we will be taking care of a kitten.  Apparently a fairly young kitten.

Yours, happy at Boo's excitement about this,

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Happy Birthday!

Another August birthday!  Happy Birthday to our friend S!

Yours, in celebration,

Monday, August 26, 2013

Feeding friends

Feeding friends: it's what we do.  We do it often, and I think we do it well.  And I have a new friend in town (who is also my new boss): unfortunately, he's hit some issues with purchasing a house in the area, so he's living out of a suitcase in a motel --- which means that when football season rolls around in the next few days, he'll have real issues: they'll surely kick him out for a night or two!
Anyway, thinking he might be in need of some home-cooked food, we invited him over for dinner tonight: a simple spaghetti with a meat sauce, and freshly baked bread.  Quite good, if I say so myself.

Yours, happy too have fed a new friend,

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Beach bread

It's one of the things that makes the beach for me.  Beach bread --- for some reason, the brackish water there seems to make the best bread.  Or perhaps it's the relaxed lack of caring in the way I make it that makes it wonderful.
Anyway, this year, I was unable to find parchment paper at the store there, and had neglected to bring my own (I have a stack of full sheet-pan sized sheets of parchment at home, and usually remember to bring some with me).  As a result, I just wasn't feeling the love for breadmaking, and didn't make a single loaf.
In fact, I realised today that it's been quite a while since I baked bread at all -- well over a month, possibly two!  And with my boss coming over for supper tomorrow night, I decided that I should get back into the baking swing.
Bread dough, my simplified version of the NYT already-simple no-knead recipe, now rising, ready to be shaped tomorrow lunchtime, and baked after I get home from my afternoon class.

Yours, feeling the knead, even for no-knead,

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A delightful day

Last night we went to a "celebration of the new academic year" with my department: we'd left the kids with friends, and agreed that this morning all the friends would come over and I'd cook breakfast.
I'd scored some decent less than exorbitant bacon this week (apparently there's an unknown virus that's attacking young pigs and has doubled the price of bacon this summer, which I hate, in spite of the fact that it's probably really good for me) and so I cooked up a couple of pounds, threw all the eggs I had into a bowl, added some milk, then scrambled them.
I scramble eggs the right way, over low heat, in a pan with a little melted butter, stirring constantly, so that the curds formed are delicate and delicious.  But that's the subject of a recipe post.
After lunch, Skibo was picked up by a friend to head off for the day, and for a sleep-over, and so we took Boo up to look at antique stores and craft stores.  I was stunned by her reaction to the antiques --- she was running from item to item, excitedly exclaiming over this old camera, that old doll, this chest of drawers, that old coke bottle.  I'm a little scared that we're going to create an antiques roadshow addict!
We finished the day with a little birthday celebration for our bookstore friend K, paella, a little music, a little wine, and a lot of lovely conversation.
Yours, thinking "all in all, a lovely day!"

Friday, August 23, 2013

How did I miss this?

This song was apparently released last year, but I hadn't heard it until this week --- it's suddenly getting rather a lot of air time.  "Same Love" by Macklemore and Mary Lambert.  A stunningly gorgeous song, a beautiful video to go with it, and a powerful message.  How did I not hear this last year?

Yours, simply stunned by this,

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thoughts for dinner?

It seems that we have trouble with this question every day.  What to have for dinner?  It's been made more difficult on Tuesdays and Thursdays: that's the day that I take Skibo to martial arts practice at 6pm --- a time that both gets in the way of mealtime, and gets in the way of cooking time.  And so, here I sit wondering again: what to make for dinner?

Yours, wondering,

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


... we're off.  Classes start in half an hour.  Only another sixteen weeks to go before final exams.

Yours, getting prepared,

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pre-semester busy-ness

Although the semester has yet to start, things are already busy.  Today I have meetings all afternoon, at least from one until four, and possibly later.  Combining that with Tai Chi this morning, and taking Skibo to his martial arts class this evening, and it's a full day.

Yours, running hither, thither and yon,

Monday, August 19, 2013

There, there

Boo has a new teacher this year (as does Skibo, but his teacher is known to us).  He's new to the school, and young, but apparently highly recommended.  We were rather disappointed, therefore, to walk into Boo's classroom this morning and see that he had written four questions up on the board, and  in three of them, used "there" for "their".  How do you point something like that out?  Perhaps it is meant as a teaching moment, that he'll ask the students what is wrong with the questions?  We eventually talked to the principal, who promised to take care of it....

Yours, a little worried,

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sooner than usual

In the past, it has usually been the case that the kids go back to school on the Tuesday, giving us a day after the weekend to ease back in: this year, however, they go back on Monday morning, and have to be there by about 7:30am.  It's going to be a shock to all our systems, I suspect!

Yours, hoping it goes smoothly,

Saturday, August 17, 2013

It was 25 years ago today....

That I stumbled, and stuttered, and paused and hesitated, and failed to answer a crucial question, but nonetheless, I passed.

Yours, defended,

And we are home

Much less rain on the trip than we expected, and we made it home safe and sound.
Now to prepare to face the real world instead of the fantasy world of vacations, beaches, museums, and beer....

Yours, girding my loins,

Friday, August 16, 2013

Old friends, new friends, and saying goodbyes

A week at the beach is, in fact, nearer five full days, perhaps five and a half.  We arrived on Saturday evening, and have to be out of the house by 10am.  Take away Saturday night for getting settled in, and Friday night for packing, cleaning, tidying up, and it's really only five and a half days.  Perhaps one year we'll manage to do two contiguous weeks: every year we think about it at the end of the vacation, and never really remember it the next year.

Boo and Skibo made new friends this year, staying round the corner from us: two boys, aged 8 and 6, who loved riding the waves as much as Boo and Skibo.  There was much laughter, squealing, and assigning of new nicknames: to Skibo's chagrin, he was given "Shrimp-puff": after much complaining, Boo finally stopped insisting that the other three of them had voted on it and that that was going to be his nickname.

We reconnected with two old friends this week, though it could easily have been five if a couple of other serendipities had come through.  Hopefully, in each of those three cases, we'll manage it in the near future.

And so we pack, run the washing machine over and over, finish up food from the fridge, and say our goodbyes.  Yet again, it's a house we could conceive staying at another time.  Perhaps next year.

Yours, saying "goodbye, old beach, old friend",

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Rain, rain, yet again

We managed to get to the beach for a couple of hours this afternoon after all: we hadn't expected to be able to do so, since the forecast had been for continuous storms all day.   Fortunately they went away long enough to visit the local snake museum (an annual tradition!) and after lunch, get swim wear on and go out.

And then, the highlight of the trip, perhaps --- a bunch: at least six or seven, perhaps more, but at least six dolphins decided to show themselves, perhaps a hundred yards from where we were swimming.  And a few minutes later moved closer.  And closer still.  At one point, I'd say they were within perhaps 30 yards of us: far enough for us to feel completely safe, but close enough to be thrilling!

Yours, still abuzz with excitement,

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Visits with old friends

Yesterday we got to catch up with our old friend Elin, in a semi-planned way: we hoped that she'd still be running kayak tours, and indeed she still is.
Today's chance to catch up with an older friend was much more serendipitous!  On Monday, a mutual friend posted on facebook about him being in town, which is unusual, since he lives in St. Croix and hadn't left the island for three years.  I messaged him, to see how long he'd be around for: he replied that he was going to be visiting Charleston, so I told him we were at the beach and hoped we could get together: we were thinking of perhaps Thursday --- then this morning he messaged to ask for our phone number: a few minutes later he called to say he was on the island, and we got to spend the entire day catching up!
Not a bad way to spend the day, since the weather decided to open up on us: several inches of rain, and swimming is definitely out for the rest of the day (and potentially the rest of the trip).

Yours, so happy to have caught up again!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


One of our traditions, here at the beach, has been to go kayaking: we missed out on it last year, so this time we made sure to contact our friend Elin Ohlsson, of Edisto Island Tours: we'd taken trips to Shell Island with her a few times before, and last year we waited until too late.  We did manage to get some honey from her, which we enjoyed over the year, and managed to catch up a little.
So, as I said, this year we made sure to phone at the beginning of the week, and arranged to go out at 10 this morning.  We put into the water at about 10:30 or so, and headed out down a creek towards a tributary of the Edisto river: about 40 minutes or so out, and about the same time back. Skibo has really mastered the act of paddling a 2-person kayak in time with the person behind him: he did really well!  Boo was somewhat more reticent about paddling --- so I lucked out by having Skibo in my boat:-)

The highlight, for me, of the trip, was sighting a dolphin, just arcing above the surface of the water just before we reached the landing: very brief, and we watched for it again, but to no avail.  Unfortunately the kids didn't get to see it, although Skibo insists that he felt something smooth beneath the water....

Anyway, if anyone reading this is ever in Edisto, call Edisto Island Tours at 8430869-1937.  It's a lovely, gentle kayaking trip, with lots of interesting information about the island, the wildlife and the area.

Yours, aching nicely!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Beach life

We woke to an amazing sounding storm this morning --- I rolled over and let it go away, and it was gone half an hour later.  Peering through the blinds, the sky was blue, the air was humid, but not bad.  We took our time getting down to the beach, arriving just before high tide, meaning that the kids could boogie (board) to their hearts' content.

We decided to head to one of our most frequent hangouts for lunch: it turns out that it is only about three short blocks from the beach house (we didn't book it with that in mind, honestly!) so we could walk and drink beer and not worry about driving.

Last year's visit had been a little disappointing, so it was really lovely to have a marvellous experience today: last year was just an anomoly:-)

This evening we had a low country boil: it doesn't really work for four people, two of them picky children eaters --- but it worked out okay: the food was good, and I didn't make too much more than we could eat.
We followed dinner by sitting around the dining table playing cribbage (well, much as I wish she'd have played, Boo refused to do so, insisting that she'd be the "judge").  And even though neither Skibo nor I won the game, we didn't object to the outcome:-)

Yours, enjoying the beach life,

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Happy Birthday, Skibo!!!

Up and out to the beach by about 8:30 this morning: a beautiful morning, nearing high tide, nice waves.
Boo is a bit perturbed by the seaweed --- here's hoping she'll come around to ignoring it soon.

We're going to give Skibo a surprise birthday party in a little while: he and I are going to head to the store to buy boogie boards, giving Boo and LOML a chance to decorate the beach house and surprise him.

Yours, celebrating a new nine-year-old,

Saturday, August 10, 2013

At the beach

A long day, starting for Skibo and me with an archery workshop, and with his martial arts instructor surprising him with a new bow and half a dozen arrows: followed by a drive to the coast, stopping at a fun park so the kids could drive (go karts), putt (mini-golf) and shoot (water, in bumper boats).
As a result we reached the beach rather later than we usually would: but we had time to go get a bite to eat, shop for groceries, and still put feet in the ocean at sunset.
And serendipity strikes again: the house next door has open wireless, so I an post this tonight!

Yours, grateful to a neighbour, and also for a lovely day,

Friday, August 9, 2013

Happy Birthday, Everybody!!

This week is the week of birthdays: four in just over a week.  Today my mother gets to lie in German again (ever since I taught her to say "Ich bin neun und dreizig jahre alt" way way back when), and we are celebrating Skibo's too: we are off to the beach in the morning, so this way he gets to have a few friends over before we go.

In the morning he and I are going to take part in an archery workshop at the martial arts place: we're getting bows and arrows, and when we get back from the beach, I'm going to buy a target from "Big Billy Bob's Archery and Radiator Shop" so we can go out into the garden and practice.

Of course, tomorrow morning's plans are "weather permitting", and since the current forecast is 50% chance of thunderstorms, all is up in the air.  Still, I'll drive him out there, and his instructor can give him his bow and arrows.  And I get my bow.  Pink, of course.  Perfect color for a bow.

Yours, wishing all a happy birthday,

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Skibo and reading

This summer, Skibo has been a little better about being willing to read, it seems.  Much of this has been helped by the fact that there was a new Percy Jackson movie coming out, and we told him that he couldn't go to see it until he'd finished reading the corresponding book.  He finished the book last week, partly reading with me, partly reading by himself.
Since then, he's been reading the third book, and at bedtimes as a treat, I've been reading to him.  At nine-in-three-days, he's still young enough to enjoy being read to, and it helps him get through the book --- and he's really enjoying it --- begging for more after every chapter!

Yours, thinking I could read more to him if he went to bed earlier,

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Rain, rain, rain, and more rain

Another day, another drop.  And another. And yet more and more and more.  It's rained more this past few weeks, I think, than it did probably in the previous six months!  

And so, of course, we listened to Peter, Paul and Mary singing "It's Raining".

Yours, all wet,

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

And miles to go before I sleep

No snow, but miles to go.  I realised this afternoon that, between Skibo's advanced warrior camp this week, his regular martial arts training sessions, my regular tai chi sessions, and the archery workshop this weekend, I'm going to be driving to and from the dojang 15 times in six days.  At eight miles each way, that's 240 miles.

Yours, having forgotten to budget an extra tank of gas for camp.

Monday, August 5, 2013


This morning, I woke up to realise that Skibo had to be a his martial arts camp (fifteen minutes away) in about 40 minutes.  And needed to be up, and have his stuff together, and be ready to leave.  We made it on time:-)
I proceeded to try to stop by my office (yes, it's vacation, but I needed to do a couple of things.  Except that that was not possible.  The parking lots were jammed.  There are no classes on, this is the time of year when everyone is on vacation, it was before 9am, and there was absolutely nowhere to park.
So  I went home.  And napped.

Yours, vacationally speaking,

Sunday, August 4, 2013

All the fun of the fair

Yesterday afternoon, despite the oppressive heat, I kept my promise to Boo and Skibo and took them to a funfair: we'd passed it a couple of days earlier on the way to Skibo's martial arts class, and he'd seen the rides and got very excited by the prospect.
Unfortunately, I didn't know that the discounted all-you-can-ride wristbands ended at 3:30, so the two bands cost me $40 instead of $30 (that's total, not each):  we arrived at 3:45.  Oh well.  The fair was a rather small one, a few more than a dozen rides, perhaps, and almost the same number of toss a ring, throw a dart, etc, stalls.  I was rather disappointed at first, since several of the rides appeared to be unmanned, but the kids quickly chose a ride to go on first, I realised that they were having fun, and so decided that it was okay, and just went with it.
About half an hour in, another small boy started tagging along with them (without a wristband!) and was stopped from entering one ride: he told the operator that his father ran the airbrush stand, and was allowed to enter: he rode every ride the Boo and Skibo from then on.  It was quite nice to see an accidental friendship happen.
One of the nicest touches of the whole afternoon was when I bought lemonades for Boo and Skibo and me: the vendor had a large lemon press, and squeezed fresh lemon juice for each cup of lemonade.  A lovely touch, and far more enticing than lemonade just poured from an industrial container!

Yours, delighting in a simple summer pleasure,

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Letting go

As the kids get older, we have to loosen the strings, allow them to grow, etc.
This morning we walked the dogs, the kids riding their bikes ahead of us.  They waited at the top of the hill for us to catch up, then asked if we could go on further and visit the vet clinic --- they rode on ahead again, and waited very carefully until it was safe to cross, then crossed over.
All very nicely and safely done.  For me, a little bit of tension: I know we have to let go, but it is hard to do:-)

Yours, parentally speaking,

Friday, August 2, 2013

And... we're done

Boot camp is over for another year (this was the eighth incarnation), and I think that it went reasonably well.  But I'm looking forward to a little down time over the next two weeks: next week, Skibo is in camp, so I'll probably take him to camp, then go to the office for an hour or so --- then return to take Boo swimming --- since the pool doesn't open until 10.
And the following week, we head to the beach, taking most of Skibo's birthday presents with us.  A couple of them, a bow and arrows, will have to remain at the house, I think: but there's a workshop on how to use them the day before his birthday, so he will get his present then.

Yours, looking to relax a little,

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Boot camp, teaching, tai chi, oh my

Boot camp, our annual five week program of torture for incoming graduate students, is coming to an end: just a couple of days to go now: and we're not "teaching" now, per se, though the students are learning a lot.  We've given them a long final exam, to be presented at the board, so the final is essentially a two day long oral exam: there are seven students, so this gives lots of opportunity for each of them to present.
And even though we are not lecturing, there are a lot of teaching moments: particularly when the students are able to help each other through a knotty part of a problem.
I've been taking Tai Chi now for almost a year, twice a week, and have moved from the 11am beginners' class to the 10am advanced class.   The nice thing about this is that the instructor doesn't mind if I stick around for the second class, and has encouraged me to assist him with a little bit of the teaching: this is great, because as every teacher knows, the best way to learn something is to teach it.  Of course, there's always the danger that I'll teach it wrong, so I'm mainly sticking to the stuff I know pretty well.  There's a strong possibility that he's going to put on a couple of teaching workshops though, to help make sure we teach things the way he wants them taught.  I'm excited at the prospect!

Yours, seeing connections between teaching here, and teaching there,