Sunday, October 23, 2011

When I Close My Eyes I See Crimson and Gold

So I turned 35 last week. And since I am now halfway to 70, I decided it was high time I started venturing into the world of old lady hobbies. Like knitting.

Actually knitting is in vogue right now, I think. And I learned to knit not only so that I'll be the belle of the ball at the senior center someday, but also because I was in serious need of a scarf. A Gryffindor scarf, to be exact.

I think I am going to like being an old lady because I find that I enjoy toting around a knitting bag and pulling out my scarf project whenever the opportunity to knit presents itself. I still can't quite get my knitting needles to click and clack just right, but I am working on it. I do have 35 more years until I hit 70.

We were up in Portland last weekend (go Timbers!) and the boys got to use Sharpies for the first time in their lives. It is a known fact that all teachers abhor Sharpies and cringe at the thought of arming small people with such weapons of mass graffiti.

Turns out my kids are more responsible than the average middle schooler.

Do you recognize this? This is a Harry Potter pumpkin. Gryffindor pride, bitches!

And I know I've gushed before about how much I love Hopworks and how I think maybe Brent and I missed our calling to open up a brewery/restaurant that caters to families, so instead of regushing all that I think we will just stick with some parking lot pictures.

If you go, drink an Abominable for me. Oh. My. God. I love that beer.

I get less punctuation happy about Rogue beers, but when Brent told me that the Rogue Hop Farm had a pumpkin patch and that we could stop by on our way home for pumpkins and a special seasonal release ale, how could I refuse?

I really dislike the use of the word "punkin". Am I alone?

But the farm was sweet and the weather was cooperative and Sawyer made a furry/prickly little friend, so I guess I can forgive them for their poorly written signage.

The beer? Meh. It's hard to come down from the Hopworks high. The Rogue paled in comparison. But there were punkins!

After we got home I came upon this scene in the garage.

"We're watching a movie!" two boys sitting in boxes informed me while munching on apples. Right. Carry on then!

Let's talk about the dog. I'm not going to lie, I haven't been the biggest fan of this dog. But she is slowly growing on me. I like the fact that she inspires us to go for an early Saturday morning walk in the sunshine.

With this awesome fall weather spanning into another weekend we decided that one trip to the pumpkin patch was not enough, and so we put on our boots and spent an afternoon at Winter Green Farm in Noti.

A scavenger hunt for the kids? Nice touch.

I was horrified and equally fascinated by the compost pile. And then I learned that this wasn't even the REAL compost pile, because that one takes up an entire field. Wow.

There was cider pressing and music playing and potlucking.

But the highlight was the hayride. Look at Jack's hayride face. The highlight, I tell you.

And to top it all off, some of the cows peed while we were stopped in the pasture. You should have seen Jack's face for that. The kid is easily amused.

Just like his mother, who is now off to find her knitting bag and swing by the kegerator for one last little glass of brew before Monday rears its ugly head. I should probably offer to help Brent bottle the hard cider, too, but sitting with my scarf, my beer, and my dog sounds so much nicer, don't you think?

Thursday, October 13, 2011


There comes a time in every rightfully constructed mother's life when she just has to pack her bags and get out of Dodge for a few days. A friend, a good friend, a family friend came to me with an interesting proposition. She had two tickets to see three plays in Ashland, a hotel room booked, and a husband who was opting out of the whole thing. What’s a friend to do? I had to step up. I am a good friend to have around, I suppose.

And so we skipped out on work and drove south on a sunny Friday morning, bags packed, coffees in hand, a small arsenal of snacks in waiting, and an empty back seat. A roadtrip with no kids? Wow. It is a glorious thing. It’s amazing how quickly you arrive at your destination when you don’t have small-bladdered and overly demanding passengers to contend with.

If you don’t already know it, Ashland is a beautiful little city with a bustling downtown, a huge city park, and of course the famous Lithia water, which I am sorry to say is utterly disgusting. We spent the weekend shoe shopping, poking around the used book stores, admiring the trendy home d├ęcor window displays, sampling delicacies at the candy store, stockpiling inexpensive souvenirs and early Christmas presents for the kids, and then there were the plays.

We saw August: Osage County, The Pirates of Penzance, and Ghost Light. Each play was radically different from the rest and as I exited the theater each time I wondered how the next play could possibly live up to what I had just experienced. I am embarrassed to tell you that this was my very first Ashland theater trip and I say embarrassed because people tend to assume that all English teachers have spent most of their lives reading poetry by the fireside, eating crumpets and attending Shakespeare performances. Then again, I suppose I am not your average English teacher.

I have, however, walked up the official Shakespeare Stairs. So there.

Rotten Egg Water! (They say this is healthy?)

Wine Tasting!

Art Galleries!

Historic Ashland!


And then I found the play kitchen. It's a bit of a diamond in the rough, but I am telling you that by Christmas morning this thing's gonna shine like the top of the Chrysler Building! Did you know that I've been looking for a play kitchen for the kids for oh, say TWO YEARS now? TWO YEARS of trolling Craigslist and slamming on my brakes while driving past garage sales and waiting for that perfect play kitchen to fall out of the sky and whack me on the head. And there it was, patiently waiting for me in Ashland.

All it took was $29 for my play kitchen dreams to come true. You get to see the before picture now, because like I said, this thing will be totally pimped out in time for the Christmas tree. I'll keep you posted.

(The only negative was that when I lugged the thing up to the counter to pay, the store owner smiled sweetly, "Oh, this must be for a little girl!" and I had to inform her that in fact not one but TWO boys would be receiving this as a gift because IN FACT boys play with play kitchens, too, you know because it is 2011 and BOYS NEED TO KNOW HOW TO COOK TOO, DAMMIT. In hindsight I may have read a bit too much into her innocent comment, and perhaps I am a bit sensitive to the fact that I have no daughter for whom to buy a play kitchen BUT STILL. My boys do love to cook. So there.)

There were many, many, MANY other noteworthy highlights from the trip including makeshift swimwear and an epic fabric store shopping spree and the most comfortable princess beds of all time, but alas, duty calls. And by duty I mean laundry and fatigue and my warm bed on this cold October night.

And tomorrow we get out of Dodge again. More on that later.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Early runs in the predawn darkness with Lu have become a part of my morning routine. After
years of running without a partner (miss you, Em!), I think I've finally found myself a good match. Though clearly this dog is built for speed, and clearly I am not, as I find myself trailing along behind her enviously watching her effortless pace. We arrive home after a three miler and she will stare expectantly at me as I stand at the sink to slam down a glass of water. Again? Can we go again?

Jack was up at 6 on Saturday morning chirping loudly and enthusiastically about Halloween decorations. We are all basking in the changing season: pumpkin cookies, applesauce, cider, costume designs, though it's difficult to match the excitement of a four year old at 6 in the morning. I never thought of myself as much of a Halloween person until I had small people in my life who love to dress up. This year we will have Harry Potter and a cowboy. I'd better get started on that cloak.

Fall. A time for tradition. A time to relive and savor bits and pieces of my own childhood. A time to reach out an hold, for a passing moment, a tender memory. Fall is a time for family.

We are all about Harry Potter these days and as much as I loathe the thought of my kids getting so much into specific characters, I have to admit that having a kid who wants to talk about muggles and Hogwarts and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is pretty cool. After reading the chapter about Gringotts and explaining to Jack what a goblin is, he turned to me and demanded why our bank has no goblins. "That would be cool, Mom. I would never rob a bank if goblins were guarding it. I bet our money would be really safe. They should get some goblins to guard our bank." Indeed.

We had a rough afternoon last week- one that involved time outs and frustrated tears and hurt feelings and endless squabbling over toys. You know what I mean? And so the next day we decided to do something different. When in doubt, we pack up the kids, a frisbee and a soccer ball, an eager dog, and some food and head out to Mount Pisgah for a picnic.

Fresh air and lots of room to run. I think that's exactly what we all needed. Though next time I'll be bringing along a choice beverage to sip while my kids and dog run laps around me.

Last year at this time we froze about 7 gallons of cider. Turns out nobody in our house really goes crazy for the stuff and we still have some left over. This year we are trying a new approach: hard cider. It's been bubbling and fermenting on the kitchen counter for a week or so now and, though it looks absolutely disgusting and smells kinda funky, we have pretty high hopes for this latest endeavor. I'll let you know.

We had our first wood stove fire of the season last night. The kids and dog gathered around and we all toasted ourselves silly until no one could take it anymore and so we went to cold beds with the fire's warmth lingering on our backs. Fall. It's definitely here, like it or not.

We choose to like it.