Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

It being Halloween, and us needing our pumpkins carved, we put our guests to work carving masterpieces of ghoulishness and fright!

It had been years since Tim, Brock, and Erin carved a gourd. They were good sports about sharing carving utensils and making non-traditional pumpkins.

And we were thrilled as to how they came out! Will did the bat (bonus feature of a scary face in the back that threw scary shadow onto the house), Tim did two-face, Erin a winky smily, Brock the skeleton, and me: the pirate ship!
We are ready for the kids now!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity

On Saturday, Jen, Erin, Brock, Tim, Mike, Will and I joined the 200,000+ people for the Rally to Restore Sanity on the National Mall with Jon Stewart and Stephan Colbert. It was a sight to see!

The Metro was a mess. Erin had to wait in line to get passes, only to hear that 4 or 5 trains had already passed through the station, not stopping and not letting anyone on. We bailed on the trains. Because EVERYTHING was happening in DC that day (the rally, Howard U's homecoming, Halloween, preparations for Sunday's Marine Corp Marathon, Battle of the Bands, and road works), a majority of the streets in DC were closed. We decided to chance it and drive as far as we could and then walk to the Mall. We got to 9th & H Streets, NW. We went over to 7th, and walked down. As did several thousands of others.

We were near the National Gallery of Art and no where near the stage. I don't think that Stewart & Colbert expected *that* many people to come, so there were only a few jumbotrons and sound systems.

We were packed quite tightly in place for 4 hours. The signs were the best to see. Mike, being 6'3", was able to at least see the screen and let us know who was on stage and the ridiculous matching flag sweaters that Stewart & Colbert appeared in.

But, for the most part, we stood, semi-hearing to the songs and speeches. Brock's favorite: Ozzy guest appearance. As a drummer, Brock can appreciate the nuances of "Crazy Train" much better than we non-drummers.

We were amazed at the people climbing trees and light posts and traffic lights. The politeness of the crowd was also quite surprising. When chants of "Louder, Louder, Louder" or "Please put down the yellow sign", the sound system got louder and the sign was put down.

Leaving, it was just as amazing to see the throngs of people walking back up into Chinatown. We wondered looking for a place for adult beverages and a bathroom, only to give up after walking around for 45 minutes unsuccessful. We had a slick ticket swap, preventing a $25 parking fine, and a nice snack of almonds and cola.

And the message: Be nice to one another. Don't let the media whip us all into frenzies. We are all Americans, trying to make this country a better place, and we can do that if we work together. Very sane, indeed.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Walk in the Woods

With Dali over for an unexpected doggie visit, and awaiting the arrival of Erin & Brock, we three (Will, Time, and I) passed the time with a walk in the woods at Battery Kemble. It was a beautiful day and so we decided that we needed to "steal" Biscuit in order to make the walk even better. You could hardly see Biscuit from the yellow leaves falling...

Biscuit and Stirling leaped and romped and played in the water, with Dali running behind them. After a sufficient amount of water logging, stick chewing, and squirrel chasing, we returned home.
Biscuit loves coming along to the park with us and thanks Will profusely on the way home. You have *no idea* just how much that dog can lick...
Stirling, in the mean time, is just watching the world go by, fast fast!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Timmy Has Arrived!

Timmy has arrived for the weekend!

He arrived, settled in, and immediately tried on Will's Halloween costume, including the fireman's hat Will won off eBay. That sucker is actually quite heavy!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ice Cream Making, Again

With a house full of guests this weekend, Will and I are in BnB mode (bed and breakfast). Or, at least I am-- Will is currently out of town. He returns on Thursday and will put the final touches on the guest rooms.

These two coincidences, impending arrival of house guests and Will being out of town, means that I can do something normally not allowed: making an unusual ice cream. It being autumn, and our garden on its way to sleeping through the winter, there isn't much in the way of fresh produce... except for our herbs. Basil, specifically.

This lovely herb usually added to Italian dishes and delicious with buffalo mozzarella became my primary ingredient.

I used the recipe from David Lebowitz's Perfect Scoop-- only I sorta messed it up by adding more cream than called for and not mixing it in the proper order. These things happen when I am trying to also talk on the phone, make my dinner, clean the house, and corral the animals. Anyway...

Still, I got a beautiful soft green ice cream with small flecks of basil:

On its own, it is quite strong and you are definitely not expecting ice cream to taste like an herb. However, I made a lemon simple syrup and added strawberries, letting the berries soak up some of the syrup. I put the strawberries in the bottom of a bowl, added the lemon syrup, and then put one scoop of basil ice cream in the middle.

It was amazing! Very refreshing and the combination of the lemon with berries downplayed the intensity of the basil. Will, having tasted the basil ice cream on its own and not particularly enjoying the taste, came round to the odd flavor with this concoction.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Two Days, Two Dogs

Over the weekend, I took Biscuit and Stirling to Battery Kemble Park, which was a Union Army defensive site during the Civil War. The battery was located on what is now Nebraska Avenue, NW, and included two 100-pound Parrott rifles, placed in such way as to reach over the Potomac into Virgina. The park is popular for running, sledding, nature walks, and is known to locals (and the NPS itself) as a de facto dog park.

The dogs love to run along the creek and through the woods, chasing each other, squirrels, and other dogs. Once off the trail, it is time for sniffing the other dogs that there in the "bowl" of the park, which also includes more running up and down hills and more wrestling each other, and more fun.

After two days of this, Biscuit's mom and I exchanged photos of what the result of all this playtime:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Severe Trim

Will trimmed the apple tree, as it was reaching past the telephone wires. More like pruned back. Well, more like severely hacked back the apple tree. Edward planted the tree over 35 years ago and started to pollard the tree, hence the branches going out to the side before they go up. In attempting to continue that shape, Will cut pretty much all of the branches off....

Now the tree looks really twisted and spooky, just in time for Halloween. With such a hard pruning, we hope that we will actually get some fruit; or at least some apple blossoms.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Is it nap time yet?

Cuz at nap time, Fiona reads to you and then you pretend to fall asleep as she sneaks out of the room, only to turn and discover you peeking out of half-closed eyes. She then comes back and finishes reading the book-- maybe even gives you a back rub, if you are lucky.

I hope that it gets to be nap time soon...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Almost Ripe...

We picked the small, perfect-looking watermelon because the weather is turning and we didn't think that it would make it in the cooler weather. It smelled ready and sounded maybe a tad-bit under ripe when it was thumped by our thumbs.

We were too excited to wait for than a day. We eagerly cut into and discovered it was way under ripe. We tasted it anyway-- it was delicious. Had we left it, it probably would have been the most delicious watermelon ever. *Sigh*

I guess now it will be the best composted watermelon ever....

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Electrician in the House?

We have a lot of items on our "To Do" list for the house-- a list that seems to remain stagnant. We cross something off, we put something else on. During the summer, we had lots of issues with lights in the house. The light above the kitchen table, the light in the passage way of the kitchen, the upstairs bathroom light, and the blue bedroom light all decided during summer to quit functioning, including the blue bedroom light deciding with the most fantastic sparks coming from the ceiling fan. So we decided to take down the fans and the lights and replace them. We haven't picked out fixtures yet, but we have some basic bare-bulb fixtures that will do for the time being.

Will worked hard and figuring out how to get the lights down and the which cloth wire was the black and which was the ground and how to get the wall switch to work with a pull-chain fixture.

I flipped breakers on and off. Stirling supervised. By the end of the afternoon, we had replaced 3 fixtures and fixed a 4th. Will was feeling pretty proud of himself. I felt better that we weren't in such a fire trap. Something marked off the list!

Then, I noticed that the light no longer dimmed in the dining room. Will noticed that the motion light outside was always on-- two switches that we didn't touch. *Sigh* After all of that work, we will be calling an electrician to figure out what went wrong.... I guess I have to unmark that list.

Monday morning update: the dimmer switch and the motion light have healed thy selves! We won't be calling an expert! yea!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Commissioned Work

My boss of 11 years retired recently. During those 11 years, we became more friends than anything else. In fact, at the retirement party, her husband came up to me and said now that she is no longer my boss, she can treat me like she has always wanted to: as family. Cue teary eyes for me.

As part of her retirement and as thank you for her years of service to the discipline of History, Will and I had the building in which she worked painted by a local artist, Mary Belcher. Mary did an amazing job and as part of the commission, she made me a smaller print as well as two sets of notecards! She is also willing to give copyright to us so we can re-use the image. Work is now thinking holiday cards, gifts to departing Council members, etc. Most importantly, my former boss was thrilled!
(please note that this is a scan of the notecard and the original painting is much crisper and perfect)

Will and I are now thinking that we need Mary to do a painting of our house...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Water's Edge

This morning, we went to see the Great Salt Lake, something that Charles, Fiona, and Iain had yet to do in the 5 months that they have been living here. We went to the Salt Lake Marina. The lake is very flat and it has a pungent sulfur/rotten krill smell. But Iain was intrigued by the water's edge nonetheless. Plus, how much fun is 1-2-3 swing?

The Great Salt Lake & Marina

"Our" Store Sells What?

In Park City is the Cunningham Building: a very well-kept, yellow, fun building with shops in it. On the right side, is the Latter Day Saints Family Tree shop, where one can find out one's ancestry. And the other side, is a furrier that sells items such as this:

Yes, that is a fur cod piece/underpants. We were surprised to know that there was a market for such things... So glad to have the Cunningham name over this window display.

Park City, Utah

Park City is a very cute little town where the Sundance Film Festival is held every year. We didn't see Sundance himself walking the streets, but we enjoyed ambling up the main road, looking at the art galleries and jewelery shops. It was a lovely sunny day and so what better way to celebrate the crisp fall air than with a caramel apple from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Shop.

Pre-cut, dontcha know! Fiona had hers sans pecans. "I like the smoothness of the caramel," she explains. Me, I like the pecans mixing with the caramel-- it is more turtle like.

Afterwards, we met up with our dear bear friend, Mr. Bernstein.
He let us know that Boss Hog was indeed in town and we should go visit...

Friday, October 8, 2010

A View of the Mountains

Fiona and I went to Park City (about a 15 minute drive from their house) and the mountains surrounding the Salt Lake valley are stunning and very impressive cloud formations. Some of the mountains (closer to Park City) even had a bit of snow....