05 December 2010

First School Picture

Anders hasn't started school yet (he's only two), but he does have his first school photo!

The photo was taken by "Uncle Jeff," Debbie's brother, who has the school picture contract at the White Salmon schools. There's something about a school photo that is so unmistakable!

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders

01 November 2010

Deer Are Dirty Thieves

A few years ago, Tara & Jason gave Corinne a T-shirt with a graphic of a deer captioned: "Deer are Dirty Thieves." We've had our problems with deer in the past, but this story takes it to a new level.

We recently bought two #20 boxes of organic Jonagold apples from a local orchardist, with plans to make applesauce and any number of other wonderful apple items. Since we didn't have space in either the kitchen or garage fridges for such a bounty, I decided that we should store them on the front stoop of the house until we could process them. The weather was cool but not yet freezing, so in the absence of a root cellar I figured that this would be the best option.

You can probably already see where this is going, but bear with me for a minute.

One night I needed to get something from the garage, so I slipped on my clogs and walked down the sidewalk. It was pretty dark outside, but for some reason I decided that I didn't need to turn on the outside light. As I got about halfway down the sidewalk, I heard an incredibly loud noise on the gravel driveway right next to me. The sound startled me so much that I jumped out of my shoes - literally. My bare big toe came down on the concrete sidewalk, scraping off a good sized chunk of skin.

Once I calmed down and regained my wits, I realized that the sound was caused by several deer that had been standing in the driveway in front of the garage. They had probably watched me walk towards them the whole time and bolted away when they decided that I had gotten too close.

When I got back inside the house I surveyed the damage and relayed the story to Corinne. She laughed all the way up the stairs to get a bandage for my toe. Less than 20 minutes later I glanced out the front window to see two deer standing next to the stoop eating apples RIGHT OUT OF THE BOXES. I quickly ran outside to chase them away, but much damage had already been done. They had probably eaten or taken bites out of around 20% of the apples. And we're pretty sure that this was not their first meal out of these boxes, which is probably why the deer were in the driveway in the first place.

We did manage to salvage the rest of the apples; ironically, the deer had eaten enough that we were able to fit the remainder in the fridge.

Peering through the window, wondering what treat we'll be providing next...

- Mike, Corinne and Anders

23 October 2010

Pumpkin Patch

Another year, another trip to the pumpkin patch for Halloween. At two, Anders was able to better appreciate what was happening than during his first pumpkin patch visit. He spent most of his time running through the fields as fast as he could. (Amazingly enough, he only fell a few times.)

Occasionally he would stop and point to a pumpkin that he wanted to take home. But it wouldn't take long for him to change his mind and take off running again.

He did slow down long enough to walk through the corn "maze."

I'm sure that with each new year, he'll enjoy the holidays a little more. And so will we!

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket
23 October 2010

15 October 2010

Creative Jack-O-Lanterns

Our friends Simon and Lindsey hosted a pumpkin carving dinner party a few weeks before Halloween. It was a creative group, so the results were fairly impressive.

Since many of the folks at the party were from our office, we actually had a bit of a contest at work to see who could guess who carved which pumpkins. I don't think anyone got ours right: Corinne carved the owl, and I did the Lisa Frank-inspired unicorn with a rainbow.

We proudly displayed our artistry on the front porch.

Unfortunately, the repeated freeze/thaw cycle of the weather did them in pretty quickly. They didn't make it to Halloween.

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders
15 October 2010

04 September 2010

Yard Sale Find

Each week throughout the summer, Trout Lake has a Saturday Market. Held in the Grange building, the market features local crafts, baked goods (homemade cinnamon rolls with huckleberries!), and over the past few years the selection of locally grown fruits and vegetables has grown as well. We have tried to go to every market we can, and Anders enjoys the trip as well.

On this particular weekend, when we arrived in downtown the streets were packed with cars. We quickly realized that it was the weekend of the annual Trout Lake Rummage Sale. The proceeds from the sale benefit the Trout Lake Community Foundation who sponsors scholarships for local graduates. They raise an incredible amount of money from the event, on the order of $15,000! So after our walk through the market we continued on over to the rummage sale area.

We wandered around for a bit, but once Anders found the toy section he was pretty much permanently planted there playing with the array of used (and abused) toys on display. One of the toys that he discovered was a "vintage" Fisher Price circus train set. Many of you will probably recognize this train set; both Corinne and I had it when we were kids. He really digs trains and spent a good portion of his time at the toy section playing with these particular pieces. This particular set was missing the engine, so we had decided that we wouldn't buy it. But when we announced to Anders that we were going to leave, he scrambled to pick up all of the train cars and try to carry them away with him. How can you say no to that?

Corinne was less excited about the other item that he picked up and wouldn't put down: a half broken, white Matchbox van with red and blue flames and monster truck wheels. Oh well. The whole pile plus a few books only cost us $1 anyway. We'll just find the engine on eBay - for a lot more than $1, I'm sure.

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket
September 4, 2010

18 August 2010

Company Picnic

Insitu holds several company-wide social events each year, and this summer's picnic was held in the community park in Bingen. The event is catered by a local restaurant, and there is an entire section of the park filled with activities for kids: a baby-sitting area (complete with staff), several inflatable bounce-houses, and a face painting station. We opted to keep Anders with us during the party; he was perfectly happy just wandering around the park.

Once he saw the bounce-house, though, it was a different story. Anders had been in one of these just a few weeks earlier at the Trout Lake Fair, so he knew what it was. But this time the house was bigger; it included stairs and a slide inside. And there was a larger flow of older kids cycling through the house. Apparently neither of those were enough of a deterrent, so Anders got in line and made his way into the house. Since he has a generally cautious approach to new experiences, he didn't move very quickly through the house. He was moving, but it was an order of magnitude slower than most of the other kids around him. We were a little concerned that someone might just run over him (not intentionally, of course) when an older boy who was in the house came up to him and started helping him along the path. He held his hand, guided him around turns, and even helped him all the way up the stairs that led to the slide in the middle. It was at this point that Anders decided that he didn't want to go down that slide and began to scream. Corinne stuck her head in and pulled Anders out, and he calmed down when he saw us. We thanked the boy who had helped him along. We got his first name - Nathan - but neglected to find out his last name so that we could relay thanks and appreciation to his parents.

Anders didn't get his face painted, but another member of our party did.

"Cow jumping over the moon."

- Mike, Corinne, Donna Mae, and Anders Rocket
Date: August 18, 2010

15 August 2010

Ethan's 3rd Birthday

Anders recently attended the 3rd birthday party for Ethan. The party was actually held outside in a local park - Toll Bridge Park in Parkdale, OR. We're considering stealing that idea since it makes cleanup (both before and after) a whole lot easier!

Anders hasn't had soda before. In fact, he hasn't really even had juice that much since we've tried to steer him towards water and milk instead. But we figured that a birthday party seemed like the right place for him to "live it up". I figured that he probably wouldn't like the Izze Sodas that Corinne and I were drinking; as a kid I remember disliking anything that had any sort of carbonation in it. But apparently it isn't genetic.

There were also juice boxes there which were for the kids. But interestingly, the Izze's Sodas had less sugar than the juice boxes! Anders did eventually switch to juice and managed to guzzle down at least two over the course of the party.

Ethan's birthday cake was actually constructed of individual cupcakes. Amy found a silicone cupcake kit that came with instructions for arranging individual cupcake molds on a baking sheet in various patterns. After baking the cupcakes would blend together on the top so that they could be frosted as one, but they still separated into cupcakes in the end. Pretty clever! And tasty.

- Mike, Corinne and Anders Rocket

12 August 2010

Full Time Grandma

Well, we have finally gotten another family member to move to the Gorge! After following the Insitu job postings over the last several years, Donna is now the Executive Assistant for Insitu's VP of Sales and Marketing. It all happened pretty fast, too. She noticed the posting on a Tuesday and submitted her resume; HR responded on Wednesday and scheduled an on-site interview for Thursday. By the middle of the following week, she had her accepted offer in hand and would start just two weeks later.

With a total count now at three, we may have retaken the lead on "largest family representation" at Insitu. We held that same count from 2004 to early 2007 when Leif was still at Insitu as well, but we dropped to two when he left to pursue his artistic dreams. (Of course now we don't represent the almost 10% of the company that we did when we first started.)

Donna is staying in our guest room until she can find a place of her own, which is just fine with us and more than fine for Anders. He now has a full-time, live-in grandma! It actually works out great for us to have another person around the house to help out with Anders.

One of Anders's favorite things to do lately is "make blocks," which is to build something out of his Mega-Bloks. He isn't using modern building practices yet, but three out of four times the construction stays intact - that is, until the "elves" dismantle it overnight and put it back into the bin.

Another recent activity involved bringing out grandma's "jewels" from her jewelry box. Anders really enjoyed going through the box and pulling out each one.

- Mike, Corinne, Grandma Donna and Anders Rocket
12 August 2010

22 July 2010

Too Much Nature

Other than my 12 years in Boston and 1 year in Seattle, I've always lived in the country with plenty of opportunity to observe wildlife. In all that time, I had only heard a deer vocalize once. I was floating on a Yellowstone slough and heard a deer on the bank give an airy snort as we passed by.

Have you ever heard a deer scream? I have. Twice. This year.

Scream #1:
About a month ago, I woke up at 4:30 am to a screaming/bleating noise outside followed by a rustling, whirring noise. I immediately thought of the fawns we had frequently seen around the house over the past couple months - a set of twins and a singleton - and of our abundant coyote population. I was wide awake with my heart beating fast, so I got up to investigate. The sky was just starting to brighten with the rising sun. To the east, there was a fawn laying in the grass. To the north, a fawn standing alone. No doe. I watched for a while not knowing what happened to the doe and wondering where the coyotes were. I was fearful that there may have been several coyotes working together, with one or more luring the doe away while others waited for an opportunity to attack the unprotected fawns. After watching for a bit, the doe came running back to the eastern fawn. I never saw a doe reunite with the fawn to the north and they all eventually disappeared, leaving me with more questions than answers. My speculation is that a coyote approached a fawn, it screamed, and then the doe chased it away. I was hopeful the fawns were okay. About a week later, we saw a doe with twins and so apparently, the deer won. But what actually happened, I guess we'll never know.

Scream #2:
Last week, we were eating dinner when we heard coyotes howl. It's unusual to hear them howl in daylight so I got up to see what was going on, particularly in light of the earlier incident. Just then, a fawn went racing past the house crying, while a coyote followed on its heels! The fawn sounded somewhat like a goat crossed with a crow (due to the periodic nature of the bleating). I then saw another coyote in the distance; I sent Mike out to chase the second one away, but it was gone by the time he got there. The second fawn then went running by the house, but it wasn't being chased. About 5 minutes later, I saw the doe walking in the direction of the chase (presumably following a scent?). 20 minutes after that, I heard the coyotes howl again. This time I wasn't very hopeful. That coyote was right behind that little fawn. Mike decided to go out looking for any "evidence" of what had happened. He walked out into the woods in the direction of the chance and spent about 15 minutes looking and listening, but came back without much additional info. The incident ruined my whole evening and Anders was quite upset as well. I don't think he saw anything but responded to our reactions, associating danger with the coyote howling.

A couple of days later, I saw a doe but no fawns. Was this the same doe? I should have paid more attention to them all so I can tell them apart. Using the binoculars, I could see that this doe has a scar above her left front leg and is definitely a mother. Finally, four days later, I saw this same doe with twin fawns. They had survived the incident! I really thought that one was a goner.

The day after I experienced the Scream #2 incident, on my drive to town I passed a deer that had just been hit. It was laying in the road, head up, breathing but legs busted. (There were people stopped and presumably taking care of the situation.)

This is just too much of the ugly side of nature. It reminded me of something our landlord had said to us when we first moved to the Gorge: "Living in the country is all about death!". I don't prescribe to that perspective, but it's not an untruth. Time to go back to Boston? Not yet, but please, no more screaming.

- Corinne, Mike, Anders Rocket, and Mother Nature
Date: July 22, 2010

05 July 2010

A Night in Eugene

Earlier this year, Corinne heard an interview on NPR with musician Trombone Shorty and has been infatuated ever since. His music is a unique fusion of jazz, funk, and rock with a lot of horn. Upon checking out his website, she discovered that he was going to be in Eugene, OR on the Thursday before the 4th of July weekend. We managed to twist Grandma's arm and convinced her to spend an extended holiday weekend with us so we could get away overnight for the concert. Our first overnight together without Anders! So we rounded up a few friends and off we went.

Our friends Kris and Amy both have their pilot's license and decided to fly from Hood River to Eugene rather than drive, so Corinne hitched a ride.

Hood River Bridge, Columbia River

Meanwhile, Rat and I drove down I-5 with the riffraff. In the end it took about the same time by both means, and possibly even with equivalent danger. (Man, I hate I-5.) Trombone Shorty was great in concert. The concert hall was a converted church, complete with pews! The acoustics at the venue could have been a bit better, but we specifically chose it over Portland (where he was also performing) because of the smaller, more intimate setting.

Our last trip through Eugene was back in 2004 and we were only there for a few hours on that trip. Since we were staying in a local hotel downtown, this time we had more of an opportunity to explore. Eugene has the feel of a small town while being the second largest city in Oregon - UofO probably helps with that. I think we did walk through the same district a few times since it looked like the most interesting thing in the downtown. I'm sure if we spent more time or asked some "locals" we could have found some really good spots, but that will have to wait until next time.

On Friday we headed back home to see what had become of Anders during our absence.

As it turns out, he survived just fine. He didn't take any naps for Grandma, which I can't say is a big surprise to us. But he also decided on Friday that he wasn't going to wear any clothes. And for some reason, Grandma decided that would be fine. So when we got home, he was walking around the house wearing only his diaper.

Thanks, Grandma!

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket
July 5, 2010

03 July 2010

Gooseberry Tart

Gooseberries from a friend's garden, transformed into a delicious rustic tart. Yum.

- Mike, Corinne and Anders Rocket

25 June 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is what happens when Anders wakes up from his nap before Mom has finished baking for the potluck.

- Corinne, Mike, and Anders Rocket

24 June 2010

Photos from a Summer Walk

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket
24 June 2010

06 June 2010

Catherine's Birthday

(This is another 'archival' post from summer 2010.)

Our friend Catherine celebrated her 30th birthday recently. At the party, there was a cardboard 'stage' and a box of miscellaneous costume accessories: hats, mustaches, etc. Fun!

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket
6 June 2010

21 May 2010

Spring Walk

During a recent walk, Corinne brought our her Digital SLR (the "fancy" camera) and took some artsy shots of spring's arrival.

Meanwhile, Dad and Anders walked around looking for dandelions.

- Mike, Corinne and Anders Rocket
21 May 21, 2010

18 May 2010

First Trip to the Library

Anders is a book-hound. He wants to read books all of the time, sometimes a little too often for Mom and Dad, in fact. So we figured that he would go absolutely crazy at the library.

But for some reason, on his first visit to our local library he spent the majority of his time climbing on the furniture, looking at the computer, and playing with the toys in the kids section. Go figure.

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket
18 May 2010