Thursday, February 28, 2013

New Year's Day

Here is the first cup of coffee on the morning of the first day of the new year. This is the Platonic ideal right here.

Before we hit the road to drive home, we got to visit Amanda's studio and see her latest work before it was shipped off to be exhibited at the Olson Gallery at Bethel University.

If you've ever wished for a space of your own in which to be creative, let me tell you--Amanda is living the dream.

You can see all of the pieces in "The Life of Perished Things" here, and do go take a look. That painting behind Willem is 8 by 14 feet, and it is spectacular.

It was extra fun for me to get to see all this, as I was with Amanda when she shot some of the video for the project, and I have happy memories of that weekend trip.

Willem looked around for about five minutes before he just couldn't stand it any more. "I NEED A PENCIL. AND SOME PAPER!" 

When someone else sees what you've made and gets the urge to make something himself, well, that's just about the best compliment ever.

The boys were supplied with nicer pencils and paper than they usually have, and then we went home. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

New Year's Eve

On the morning of New Year's Eve, I realized I was outright sick, the kind of sick that would have kept me home in bed if I'd been home and not in Idaho. So I made myself absolutely useless and napped all day while our friends cooked and cooked and cooked. And I prayed fervently that my sinus infection would not prevent me from being able to taste and enjoy my dinner. The Hamiltons cook a mean dinner.

The medicinal properties of a snuggle with a cat who does not normally take to strangers cannot be overstated.

I changed out of my pajamas when the festivities drew nigh.

I just love this picture. That's Willem with his head in his hands and Andrew with the twinkle in his eye.

My prayers were answered! Our epic dinner started with this cheese plate, and I tasted and enjoyed every bite.

Creamy wild mushroom soup. Mmm.

Here are the short ribs in progress. I need more short ribs in my life.

The younger kids needed sleep at some point, but Nels our night owl was allowed to stay up late with the grown-ups, which is his very favorite thing. Dear Amanda let him help with dessert and put him to work in the kitchen. As you can see, he was pretty jazzed to be entrusted with the stirring of the the creme anglaise.

Hello, apple tart.

Here's Nels doing his "I got to stay up late with the grown-ups" dance. I love that dance.

What a time we had, ringing in a brand spanking

new year.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Road Trip

After Christmas we took advantage of some rare time off work for Shaun and drove to Boise to ring in the new year with friends there.

Shaun discovered LibriVox a while back, and it is the best thing ever; volunteers read stories that are in the public domain. It's perfect for supplementing the slim audio book pickings that are available at our public library. We downloaded several family-friendly stories to listen to on our drive.

Maybe it's just the drive east along the gorge. Maybe it was our choice of listening material. Maybe it's this season of our lives, or a coincidence, or the fact that I was coming down with something. Whatever the reason, this drive had the same quiet, melancholic, other-worldly (or maybe next-worldly) vibe that our trip to Walla Walla did.

If you ever feel like your grip on reality is too secure (because where's the fun in that?), just drive through the landscape pictured below while listening to Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories. Ho-leeeeeeee smokes.

Shaun finally cut us off before we got quite to the end of the book, and "cut us off" is an apt expression in this case. The language was intoxicating but the ethos sad. I was well on my way to becoming a maudlin drunk.

Our remaining stories included "The Happy Prince" by Oscar Wilde and "The Light Princess" by George MacDonald. I had read them both long ago and was therefore steeling myself for the end of "The Happy Prince." Shaun, being misled by Wilde's worldly reputation, was completely gobsmacked by the ending. We both got a bit teary and had to take a moment to collect ourselves once the story ended, and that does not happen every day.

"The Light Princess" was not quite so much fun as I remembered it, and was not met with enthusiasm by any of the boys. Ah well. I think there are plenty of other George MacDonald books they will find more to their liking.

I napped because I was getting sick (and because I always sleep in the car), so I missed some of the stories and much of the view, but I'm sure the enforced rest did me good.

Nels wasn't thrilled that our story selection had featured so much death, and though the stories ultimately had "happy" endings, I could see his point. As if in keeping with the theme, we passed what we knew (or hoped) was the worst accident we'd ever see. There was no wreck on the road, but we saw a broken guard rail, a helicopter, an armada of emergency response vehicles (some en route to the scene) and semis backed up for miles. I was glad not to know the details until we arrived, and I said many prayers both when we passed the accident and before we set off for home again.

By the time we got to the Hamiltons' in Boise, I was in a strange, pensive mood. The drive had not just been a means to an end, but had itself been A THING.

And then we were with fabulous friends, and we met their fluffy new cat named Lily. And in my world, friends and cats go a long way towards making everything better.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Christmas 2012

I know it seems ridiculous to talk about Christmas at this late date, but we have not left it entirely behind. We still have our evergreen Christmas wreath hanging on our front door, and it's as perky as it was the day Shaun brought it home. It's already got a red bow on it, so all I need to do is add some pink hearts to keep it seasonal.

We celebrated the holidays at Shaun's folks' house, along with his sister's family out from California. It was just the relaxing time we needed after a few weeks of worry over what was going on in my brain and hosting a party ourselves.

I had a few spectacularly successful days of thrift-store shopping with my friend Patty (my good-luck charm) right before Christmas. I found this print on board in really great condition and thought my in-laws might like it, as they have an entire wall of nice old boat prints. They did like it, as did my niece Heidi, who immediately proclaimed that it was a picture of her and her dad. Shaun's mom put the picture in a corner at the foot of the stairs to keep it out of the way.

After a bit we noticed we hadn't heard from Heidi in a while. She had dragged a bean bag over to the picture and settled herself in with a blanket and a pillow right in front of it. Possibly the cutest thing I've ever seen.

Following Swedish tradition, Shaun's family has always opened presents and had a special dinner on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day they open stockings and have another good meal. I made this fyrstekake (cardamom-almond tart) for Christmas Eve dessert. It doesn't look too great in this picture, but it was beautiful and it was good.

Willem's Auntie Hillary bought him the boxing gloves he'd been pining for. He slept with them three nights in a row.

I had to post the whole series of these because their faces are so stinking over-the-top.

With rain predicted, we woke up to this on Christmas morning!

Christmas breakfast tableau.

Willem really wanted a unicorn kit (?) that he could assemble and paint himself, but the only things we saw were really girly. I found this heavy metal unicorn on my epic thrift store crawl. He loved it and kept asking, "Who got me the unicorn again?"

Heidi loved the boxing gloves too.

The day after Christmas, we went to Camp 18 for breakfast. Here are cousins Henry and Willem in their hickory shirts.

This cat at Camp 18 eschews humans for the most part, but it loves Willem. It climbs right up on his lap when he comes to visit.

Perhaps Willem has a future in zoology if  his dream of being a sculptor doesn't work out.