11 December 2005

Diego and the Ditch

On a trip to visit Serg's parents in San Diego, Stef, Serg and Diego (the newest Moses/Rubio) managed to squeeze 2 days in to visit us! It was just long enough for us to almost make them miss their flight...

On the morning of the day they were to leave, we decided to take them for a drive north to see the primary prospect in our house hunt. While admiring the view of Mt Adams, I promptly drove off the road into a ditch. In my defence, I must say that the road was very slick and that the snow was plowed such that you could not tell where the edge of the road was. Nonetheless, we were now sitting in a ditch in sub-freezing weather with an infant.

Thankfully, a local was kind enough to not only stop to see if we needed help, but actually go to get additional help for us! His father-in-law was soon on the scene with his tractor to pull us out of our predicament. Thank goodness for good Samaritans!

Hey, who would have guessed - there are HORSES on that blanket. :)

Mike & Serg, doing what they do best - nerding out.

Serg, standing in the infamous ditch.

Immediately after our ditch-recovery. See how happy everyone is?

- Mike (& Corinne)

05 December 2005

Now We're Cookin' (Tamales)

A mere week after Thanksgiving, and we're back in Seattle again. This time, it's a Taryn weekend!

On Saturday, we went to a cool "home cooking" class in West Seattle to learn to cook tamales. The class is taught in the home of the instructor, and it's definitely hands-on (as you can see below). The class was small - single-digits small - and at the end of the class, everyone sits down for a great meal. Lots of fun! Thanks, Taryn!

...and it just so happened that the same weekend of our cooking class, Nickel Creek was performing at the Orpheum in Seattle. It may have resulted in a ridiculously early drive back to The Gorge on Monday morning (to get back to work!), but it was worth it.

- Mike (& Corinne)

03 December 2005

A Visit from Mr. Tulsa

After Thanksgiving, Loren spent a week visiting us in Husum. What great fun! If only we didn't have to work...

We didn't actually get any photos of him, but we sure have a whole pile of great photos that he took while we were slaving away at work.

Actually, that's not entirely true.

Here's one of the only photos we have of Loren (with brother Leif) from his visit.

Come back soon!

- Mike (& Corinne)

28 November 2005

Thanksgiving in Seattle

We went to Seattle for Thanksgiving this year. Originally we were going to host again, but perhaps we'll do that again next year. And it sure was nice to take a break from the home-buying process for a while!

The obligatory family photo. (Hey Loren - WAKE UP!)

- Mike (& Corinne)

01 November 2005

The Next "Big Purchase"...

We have lived in the Gorge now for 1.5 years. We have good, stable jobs that we like; there are more things to do in this area than we have time for; the climate and weather is great; and we've made quite a few friends.

It's time to start looking for a house.

This project has been on our radar for a year or so, but we've been so busy with work and travel and visitors that we never made enough time to do it. But now we resolved ourselves to make some significant progress. We may not buy anything at the end of the process, but at least we will have a better feel for how much things cost around here, and how likely it is that we'll find something we like.

After we found a realtor (through recommendations from friends and coworkers), we started to communicate with her to let her know the type of things we were looking for. Since we had already discussed that we were looking to continue the "country living" that we started with our rental in Husum, we decided that there were two possibilities for us: (1) Find a house on 20+ acres; or (2) Find 20+ acres and build a house.

Since this area is not actually very large, we knew our choices would be limited. As it turned out, within about a week we had looked at virtually all of the house options that matched our criteria, with the biggest limiting factor being the acreage. The fact that we were finished looking so soon wasn't necessarily a bad thing, though. In Boston, for example, you could look at places continuously for years and never find the "perfect" place for you; here, once you've looked at everything and knew what your options were, it's a bit easier to make compromises and not keep looking for the perfect house (which of course doesn't exist). For people who like to do tons of research before making decisions, and who find it hard to compromise (like us), I think the latter actually works out better.

We took lots of pictures, of course, and would review our options each night. Initially we were skeptical that we would find something that we truly liked, but initial indications were good. We looked at our share of "not for us" places: a country-style home with a shop twice the size of the house; and a house we referred to as the "homemade house" because it seemed to be cobbled together from spare parts. But in the end we had a list of 5 houses that we would consider buying.

Once we had looked at all of the house options, we wanted to spend some time looking at land-only parcels. For us, building a house sounded exciting and daunting at the same time: when you were finished, you'd have a house that you truly love; but getting there would be a trial, especially for people who like to research and don't like to compromise (see above). But you also had to wait a year (if you're lucky) until the house was ready enough to move in.

Man, looking for property is time-consuming! In all, we spent about a month looking. But that was just prelude to the purchase process which comes later...

(stay tuned...)

- Mike (& Corinne)

21 October 2005

New Car (aka Big Purchase No. 1)

Living in Boston for 10 years with only a single car between us was never a problem. Corinne would walk to work, and you could always take the T to go any place in the city you wanted.

Out here, things are different.

Now that we've been living here for over a year, it has become clear that continuing with only a single 12+ year old car is perhaps not the best idea. While we do work at the same place, and thus commute together, if anything were to happen to the Civic we would be in trouble. When we added to that the fact that it doesn't handle the unimproved roads that you often take when heading to trailheads, and that it doesn't do particularly well on ice- or snow-covered roads that are prevalent in the higher elevations around here, and it became clear that it was time to look for a second car.


  • All-wheel drive. If we are ever going to learn to snowboard on Mt Hood (and we are - eventually...), we'll need a car that can climb the mountain without any praying involved.
  • Higher gound clearance. For those "unimproved" roads.
  • More storage space. Over the years, packing the Civic for long trips has become an art form; but maybe we should be spending our creative energies in other places.
  • Back seat comfort. 'Nuff said.
  • Reasonable fuel economy. ..and that's not just because of high gas prices!
  • Reliable. There's no point in getting a new car if it is almost as likely to have problems as your old one.

We test drove the Ford Escape Hybrid, which they happened to have at the local Ford dealer. But it seemed cheap inside, and we couldn't justify paying the high price for a Ford. Next we looked at the Subaru Forrester, but it was kinda small inside, particularly in the back seat. We considered the recently-released Toyota Highlander Hybrid, but we couldn't spend 6 months (or more) on the waiting list for it. There was a used, good condition Volvo Cross-Country wagon available locally, but we decided it screamed "kids" a bit too loudly. The Nissan Murano was next on the list, based on driving in it as a passenger with some coworkers. The Murano was definitely in the running, and made it to the final two, but was a bit on the luxurious side (which is sometimes hard for us to justify.)

In the end, we remained a Honda family with our new 2006 Honda CR-V. We love it!

Here we are testing the "off-road" capability in the alfalfa fields.

- Mike (& Corinne)

01 October 2005

Month of the Turkeys

But wait, you say, Thanksgiving is in November, not October. Yes, but we're talking about WILD turkeys. And not the kind from a bottle, either.

We first saw them on September 30. 8 wild turkeys, wandering through our fields looking for food. We saw them off and on for the next 3.5 weeks, then they disappeared. I guess they just moved on to greener pastures.

Wild turkeys, walking single-file down our driveway. We saw 8 total - and there was clearly a leader, though we couldn't tell if it was a tom.

The neighbors cat, Anna, deciding if she could take one down. In the end, she decided against it. I think that was a wise choice.

We hope they come back and visit us again next year!

- Mike (& Corinne)

09 September 2005

Bad Movie Night

Bad Movie (n): A movie that is bad. This isn't bad in the sense of a Hollywood cookie-cutter script with beautiful people speaking trite lines; what we're talking about here is a movie that is truly bad. A bad movie can have high production values or be done on a shoe-string; it can have big name actors or no acting at all. Sometimes the movie knows that it is going to be bad, while other times it is trying to be good (but failing). A bad movie is a movie you watch and think: "I can't believe they made this."

Bad Movie Night (n): On the second Friday of every month, a group convenes to enjoy a meal and watch an aforementioned "Bad Movie". One of the attendees is chosen as the "sponsor", and this person is responsible for bringing a bad movie that they love. The movie can't be just a movie that they think is bad; it has to be a movie that they really enjoy, and that the majority of the planet thinks is bad.

Bad is a subjective thing; and a bad movie can definitely be enjoyed as such when viewed from the right frame of mind. If you think that a movie is going to be bad before watching it, you are rarely disappointed.

Some of the selections so far:

  • Some Like It Hot
  • Godzilla 2000
  • Condorman
  • Shaolin Soccer
  • Zorro, the Gay Blade
  • Short Circuit 2
  • (This Is) Spinal Tap
  • They Call Me Trinity
  • The Princess Bride

    N.B. There is currently some debate over what the rules should be regarding "cult" films, as several of the above (Tap, Bride) could definitely fall into that category. The difference between a "bad" movie and a "cult" movie is hard to quantify. One suggestion has been that "a cult movie is a bad movie that a majority of people (or close to it) now enjoy." However, even given such a definition there is no rule in place to prohibit cult films from the experience.

    It's great fun, and a good excuse to get together with friends on a regular basis.

    - Mike (& Corinne)

  • 03 September 2005

    Bushdorfs in Seattle

    Corinne's Aunt Patsy and Uncle Jim were in Seattle (from Columbus, OH) for a brief trip, so we decided to take the train up to spend a day with them. We don't get to see them very often!

    Patsy, Andrea, Shane and Jim enjoying breakfast with us in West Seattle.

    We found a 'dahlia show' listed in the local paper, so we decided to check it out.

    Andrea, Corinne and Patsy in the dahlia fields.

    I had some fun taking closeup shots of the flowers. Here's one of several butterflies we encountered.

    We encountered a plethora of bees in the fields as well, as you can imagine.

    Corinne seems to be pretty excited about this particular flower...

    After a brief trip to the Glass Museum in Tacoma, Jim gives Leif a hand down the steps.

    Sisters, enjoying each others company at dinner.

    A fun weekend!

    - Mike (& Corinne)

    26 August 2005

    Yakima Valley Wine Trip

    Historically, we haven't been "wine people." But now that we're living in the midst of wine country, it's hard to resist: the winery across the street; the monthly Husum wine social; the numerous local vineyards, vintners and appelations. So we've finally given in. :)

    A group of about 10 Insitu folks made a trip east to the Benton City / Prosser area for a whirlwind tasting tour of some of the East Yakina valley wineries. Kestral, Kiona, Seth Ryan, Hedges - in all, I think we stopped at ~8-9 wineries, sampling a wide variety at each. We even stopped in to a brewery in Prosser which is operated by an old coworker of my mom.

    We still tend to gravitate toward the milder or sweeter wines (Reislings and such), but I find I'm discovering an affinity for Merlots. By the end of the trip, my palate was so tired that I couldn't tell a merlot from a grape nehi, but it was quite a lot of fun.

    - Mike (& Corinne)

    20 August 2005

    Fred in West Seattle

    Our friend Fred Diprizito is moving back to the East Coast, so we wanted to spend one more weekend with him before he left. (Plus it gave us a good opportunity to get a tour of the company he worked for.) He's heading back to his family, fiance, and old job, and we wish him the best.

    - Mike (& Corinne)

    13 August 2005

    Guys Weekend

    In mid-August, Loren decided to take a trip from Tulsa to Seattle to spend some time with family. At the last minute, Loren and Reidar unexpectedly decided to drive down to visit us. ("Hey Mike, we're hopping in the truck now to head your way - can we stay at your place?") Unfortunately for Corinne, she was in San Francisco for an AIAA conference, so it ended up being a "guys only" weekend - me, Leif, Loren, Reidar. Joined by Jeremie and Casey, friends of Leif & Loren who just happened to be in town at the same time, we spent a beautiful, hot summer weekend playing ultimate frisbee, doing some trestle jumping into the Hood River, and relaxing at Leif's BBQ. A good time.

    Loren doing his best Greg Louganis impression. Keep trying, Loren.

    The weekend crew (minus Reidar, the photographer)

    Corinne had her own great time in San Francisco, getting plenty of family time with Doris, George, Shani and George's family in between her AIAA commitments.

    - Mike (& Corinne)

    01 August 2005

    A Week on the Gulf Coast

    Since summer in the Gorge is so perfect, we thought we'd take a week of it and go someplace else. ;)

    Every year, we have planned some sort of get together with a group of friends from our MIT days. And now that the entire group isn't as concentrated in the Northeast as we once were, we've starting planning a trip together. This year's just happened to end up on the gulf coast of Florida, in August. (Yes, we're crazy.)

    The house was right on the beach in Destin, FL, and as it turned out, the weather the week we were there was much less oppressive that we had feared. And for a week (or part thereof), the 12 of us just did whatever we felt like: rented jet skis, walked on the beach, played lots of games, golfed, bowled, cooked, or just talked and relaxed in each others company. A perfect vacation.

    Jet skis in the bay.

    View of the beach at sunset.

    Malinda and Jean, preparing a gourmet meal. Each day for the week, a different couple was responsible for breakfast and dinner. That way, you only had to 'work' on one day, and on the other days, food was just prepared for you. Worked great, and the food was wonderful!

    Corinne, pool shark. There was a pool room in the house. Can't get much better than that.

    Corinne and Judy, relaxing on the screen porch, now just a porch. Hurricane Dennis arrived several weeks before us, knocking out all of the screens and destroying the walkway to the beach.

    Remnants of the walkway from the house to the beach. (Thank you very much Hurricane Dennis.) As a result, we had to walk a block down the street for beach access.

    Brian, Judy and Corinne (and me taking the picture), wading in the surf. Brian got some saltwater in his eye, so he decided to cry. We had to watchout for jellyfish in the water. Several of us were stung, but Brian got stung on his back the worst.

    Golf lessons from Brian at the driving range.

    Becky & Gordon, enjoying the fruit of their dinner labors.

    Looking forward to the next trip together!

    - Mike (& Corinne)

    30 July 2005

    Summer Fun! Parties, Poker, and Ultimate frisbee

    Everyone in the Gorge says basically the same thing: There's no place they'd rather be in the summer than here. The summer weather is predictable and perfect for Jul/Aug/Sep: 80s, not too dry, and not a cloud in the sky. So anyone who is planning a party or event just picks a weekend day, knowing that there will inevitably be another event scheduled for the same day. There are only so many weekends, after all.

    And that's just the weekends. On Wednesdays (or sometimes Thursdays), we play ultimate frisbee, often followed by a BBQ at brother Leif's. Many Thursdays, it's poker with Mark, Andrew, and a host of others. There seemed to be a get together of some sort several times a week. If only we didn't have to go to work...

    - Mike (& Corinne)

    04 July 2005

    Woodinville & Pickles

    Well, now that summer's almost over, I can finally begin to catch up here...

    When we last heard from our intrepid ruralites, they were enjoying beautiful weather and lots of company in the Gorge. At the end of June, Corinne spent a weekend with Malinda at Willows Lodge in Woodinville, WA. Several times a year the lodge hosts a "Girlfriends' Weekend" full of wine, food, tours and lectures. Several of the wine-makers were on hand to showcase their wines, most of which come from the Yakima Valley, about 2 hours north east of the gorge.

    Corinne & Malinda at Willows Lodge in Woodinville

    The following weekend, Donna came down to visit us to celebrate the 4th. What else could we do but make pickles?

    For years Corinne has talked of the "watermelon rind pickles" from her youth, a sweet, sometimes cinnamon-y concoction that I had never even heard of, let alone actually tried. Hermiston, Oregon, about 200 miles east of us, has the hot dry summers that make it prime watermelon country. So after some keen Internet scouring by Donna, she uncovered what she thought was a reasonable facsimile of the famed recipe. And to balance out the sweetness of the rind pickes, we also chose a spicy dilled green bean recipe, to take advantage of another in-season vegetable. (We were a few weeks early for the traditional "pickling cucumbers".)

    Spicy dilled green beans in-progress. The beans took only a few hours, at most, to complete; the watermelon, on the other hand, was a multiple day affair.

    The Picklemakers and the finished beans.

    Unfortunately, it would be many weeks before we could validate our efforts; such is the conundrum of pickling. But while we couldn't partake of our newly-created delicacies, we did enjoy a lovely evening sitting along the Columbia River watching the fireworks (from a distance) over Hood River.

    - Mike (& Corinne)

    19 June 2005

    Sheila, Chris, and the Rodeo

    In the middle of June, our friends Sheila and Chris came to visit us from San Francisco. As luck would have it, it happened to be the weekend of the Ketchum Kalf Rodeo in Glenwood.

    Here we are at the rodeo in Glenwood, about 30 miles north of our house. (Chris missed the rodeo, as he didn't arrive until that evening.)

    This was a "real" rodeo, complete with calf roping, bronco riding and bull riding, as well as the more commonly seen barrel racing. We even saw a cowboy from Sheila's hometown of Coupeville, WA, 300 miles away!

    Glenwood is a small town of only a few hundred people, but it is beautiful country, full of farms and ranches. Here you can see Mt Adams beyond the rodeo grounds.

    Since I didn't get any shots of Chris while he was here, I figured I'd toss in this one of the two of them, from their wedding last August. (We had a great time there, too!)

    It was a short, yet relaxing and enjoyable visit. Come back again (and stay longer!)

    - Mike (& Corinne)

    12 June 2005

    Spelunking with Fred

    In early June, Fred DiPrizito came down to visit from Seattle. He moved from Boston shortly before we did, but this was the first time our schedules coincided.

    To start, we did a "waterfall tour," from which there are many to choose in the Gorge. We chose Horsetail Falls (above), and Multnomah Falls.

    That evening, we took Fred on the ever-popular hike on Condit Dam.

    The following day, Leif joined us for a trip to the Guler Ice Caves. There are caves just north of us where it stays cold all year round, and winter causes interesting ice formations. April/May is apparently the best time to visit, with the most formations, but it was still fun in June.

    One of the ice formations, with back-lighting via a flashlight. The caves are not only cold, but dark. Very dark. So we came pretty well equiped with warm clothes, gloves, and plenty of headlamps and flashlights.

    Portrait of the wanna-be spelunkers.

    - Mike (& Corinne)