Archive for 2009

The Batbears

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Last year around halloween, Grandpa Jeff included this little stuffed thing in one of his packages. It was a tiny teddy bear dressed in a “spooky” bat costume, purple with orange wings. Ronin immediately loved it and has been unusually attached to Batbear, as he is called. Batbear has always been Ronin’s choice when we go on outings (partly because we refuse to let her take Nigel out of the house; we are too afraid of what might happen if he were to be lost) and accompanies us on walks, to the park, to the grocery store, etc.

We decided it would be cute to make her a Batbear costume of her own. I figured she would understand what she was dressing as and be really into it.

Here’s Batbear. He’s looking a little scruffy (probably needs a bath; Batbear takes baths with Ronin as well). I used a pair of pajamas to quickly draw a pattern with orange crayon. Ronin was VERY interested in this step. Joshua had to drag her screaming away from me so I could finish my outline; let’s just say it was hastily drawn. Then I cut out the body from purple fleece—also very interested for babies.

Here’s the body sewn together. I ended up having to re-do the arms. After attaching the first one, it was clear that half-assed crayon sketches were not the way to go when it came to armhole and sleeve tailoring. I cut it off and re-designed them raglan style. This was much easier to attach and happened to match the real Batbear better anyway.

The pattern against the costume body. Ronin is helping.

Ronin was pretty excited about the Batbear costume although I’m not sure that she really understood that it was for her initially. She wanted to put it on Batbear (too big) and Nigel (still too big).

I was a little worried about how to deal with the hat part. I knew what I wanted to do but wasn’t sure how to go about making a pattern for a full head thing. Luckily, the random sketch I made worked well enough and I had Ronin’s batbear hat together in no time. There was still some purple felt left over and since Joshua and I had not come up with any ideas for ourselves, I used the rest of it to make us matching Batbear hats.

[Ronin was not impressed with the hat at first but she got used to it and consented to wearing it about 50% of the time.]

We ended up going to McMenamins’ Kennedy School for their annual halloween gig. As expected, it was total freaking chaos and Ronin was mostly bewildered by it but we had fun. Nothing beats being able to chase your kid around trick-or-treating with a pint of Hammerhead in hand. Joshua observed a couple arrive with their amped-up offspring and the moment they crossed the threshold, the wife turned to her husband and told him, “you’re on kids, I’m on beer,” and split.

The big moment came when Ronin had her first chance to trick-or-treat. She was given a package of sour patch kids and immediately asked us to “open open open.” We both thought, foolishly, that maybe she wouldn’t even like them; they are after all super sour at first. Unfortunately for us, she thought they were the best thing ever and after that, she was on a singular mission to eat candy. When given a choice, she will always choose the Snickers.

[By the time we left, she was pretty crazed; she kept wanting to roll around in the mud and wet leaves. I was not keen on this.]

When we got home, our friends Brett and Ernesta and their toddler, Saule (only a couple of months older than Ronin) stopped by as well as our neighbors Cami, Norm, and Clive (who just turned 4). It gave us a taste of just how small our house really is to have three kids and six adults milling around. (We have been considering inviting FOUR kids and their EIGHT parents to Ronin’s second birthday party. We may need something stronger than beer on hand…) All kids were basically going apeshit, with the exception of Saule (who still hasn’t figured out what was in the shiny wrappers), parental units were self-medicating with fermented beverages, and the time was nigh for REAL trick-or-treating.

We tore up the block basically between Ronin Batbear and Clive Turtle (Saule Princess and entourage bowed out early in favor of more healthy nourishment. Hippies). Mostly Ronin was interested in the glowing pumpkins on the porches and Clive was pretty into pushing the doorbells. They gave us candy just to make us leave. We covered one or two blocks and still came back with a decent haul. One house was giving out full-sized Snickers (that’s the real Fun Size); another house was giving out boxes or raisins (totally rejected by Ronin). Another house was lit up like Christmas but they didn’t have anything for trick-or-treaters; they scrounged up some cookies for us. “You guys aren’t weirdos, are you?” shouted Cami from the street. They were weirdos (but the good kind) and we continued on down the block with both kids munching oreos.

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I’m walking in dada’s shoes

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

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She continually surprises us with the length and complexity of her sentences. Although, it takes a special ear to understand and we don’t always get it on the first try (or the 2nd). It’s hard to catch it on video though because she usually stops talking as soon as the camera comes out.

The South

Monday, October 19th, 2009

The sign says it all. Needless to say, we did not eat here and our gastrointestinal systems were the better for it.

There are a lot of things wrong with this image. First off, may I state the obvious: biscuits, actually, do not have holes. Not even southern biscuits. Also, The South does indeed have doughnuts so this isn’t just a foreigner’s misunderstanding, like “biscuit” means cookie in Great Britain. I imagine that the marketing team was trying to come up with a new and exciting desert item, something to draw in the crowds.

“Doughnut holes!” said apple-cheeked Jr. marketing intern Billy. Of course, this enthusiastic outburst would be cut down by more senior members of the team, perhaps citing Hardee’s dedication to healthy, satisfying, alternative fare, not to mention, Dunkin Donuts and McFatso’s already offer doughnut holes on their menus. Hardee’s would need something new, something groundbreaking. A lively discussion might ensue about what healthy fare really was and if it was in fact what the average Hardees customer really wanted deep down inside (answer: eh, probably not). In the end, it was decided that bite-sized biscuits might fit the bill. Sweet ones! Or perhaps rolled in sugar and cinnamon, kinda like doughnuts, but totally not. And although it was unanimously decided that glazed sugar-rolled little biscuits would be even more delicious, perhaps a tub of icing on the side would be more exciting, and you know, healthier. After all, Americans love to feel they have choices. A deconstructed doughnut, if you will. The marketing team was pleased with the brainstorming session. Now all they needed was a catchy name. “Biscuit holes!” shouted Billy, thereby guaranteeing him a permanent position at the Hardee’s marketing headquarters and bringing forth a confounding epidemic of doughnut-shaped biscuits across the southern US.

People in the south are remarkably friendly but I sometimes wonder if there isn’t an underlying hint of passive aggression. Case in point:

Piggly Wiggly! We asked for english muffins and nobody in the store had any idea what we were talking about. The bagger lady wanted to know where we were from and seemed shocked when I said Oregon. I am guessing she had someplace more exotic in mind, Iceland maybe.

Anyway, we’re back home in Iceland now, basking in the rain and the overcast. Ronin was beside herself with joy upon seeing all her toys again but now she’s totally bored of them already. It may be a long winter.

Mississippi Locks

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

From where we got on the boat in the Tennessee River, we’ve come down a number of locks. It’s a much lower key affair than the Panama Canal locks (here with Adagio, here with Woodwind, Time Machine part I, and Time Machine part II). We simply call the lockmaster on the radio as we’re approaching, he gives us the green light, we drive on in and tie up. The most complicated it gets is when he requests that all hands on deck wear life jackets.

The above is the floating bollard we wrap our line around.

The lock doors are shut behind us and we are slowly going down.

All hands on deck in their life jackets (Nigel too!). I’m trying to persuade Ronin to let go of her nap so we can get a better picture.

Our “better” picture, sans nap.

HOLY COW. Nap replaced and baby cool.

Tennessee River

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Gipsea, Tucker’s trawler is a little 30-foot thing but has about 50 times the interior volume of the Time Machine. Not only is there standing head room in all parts of the boat, there is refrigeration, a proper marine head, hot water, a SHOWER… It’s mind boggling really to take a hot shower on the boat. It is a great little boat. It is, however, a diesel boat that moves by way of a large noisy motor. When we shut the motor off for the day after anchoring, I always feel my body relax, unaware that I had been sort of tense the whole time the motor was on. I don’t know if it’s because of the noise or just because motoring on the Time Machine was often under duress and it always stressed me out a little to run the thing.

Ronin is handling the boat life well. We go to shore every day at least and give her some time to run around on the beach and she loves that. This is not ocean sailing by any stretch and the water is flat calm always, with the exception of wakes. She hasn’t even had to adapt to a rolling motion. We did get into a large lake right as some thunderstorms blew through. A captain of a tug going the opposite direction on the river told us, “it’s rougher than a cob there in the bay,” and frankly, we weren’t sure what to expect. We had some chop and whitecaps and the radio mentioned tornado warnings (!!) but we found a little inlet to anchor up in and we waited out the storm drinking coffee spiked with rum. Now we are in the Tenn-Tom waterway in northern Mississippi, heading south. It’s very narrow but sort of boring; once we hook up with the Tombigbee river, it will get interesting again.

It was rainy and cool for the first few days after we arrived but it cleared up on the third day. Naturally, I bemoan the lack of beautiful weather but then gripe about having to wear sunscreen when the sun actually comes out. I am hard to please. It’s back to being rainy and overcast and today is actually rather cold. We’re heading steadily south though so presumably it should warm up again and I can bitch about something new.

Ronin napping in the V-berth; I block the edge of the bed with suitcases so she doesn’t roll off. I’ve tried desperately (in vain, probably) to keep her on Oregon time but I think Ronin runs on a 23.5-hour clock. She always wants to get up earlier and nap/go to bed earlier. Lately, she has been getting up at 6am before it is even light outside, demanding juice, bunny grahams, and her table (a little teak folding table that serves as her activity headquarters here on the boat) before calming down, accepting her nap back, and settling down to sleep a little more. Of course, she refuses to go back down on her own bed and instead, insists upon wedging herself up into my armpit. She usually goes back to sleep for another hour or so but I don’t usually get much more sleep. I don’t know if this is a bad precedent to make; she has never before slept with us. She never liked to cuddle and could never lie still, preferring instead to roll around and kick me in the boobs.

Much of our time underway is spent upstairs in the pilot house, which has a fully-enclosed little room and the best view on the boat. We wrapped the rails of the back deck with rope to create something of a net but it’s less stressful if she stays inside the enclosure.

She likes to sit up on the counter in the pilot house and try to push buttons when we’re not looking.

Nigel likes to be wherever Ronin is.

A particularly awesome anchorage. We got ashore just as the sun was setting behind the trees and everything was a beautiful golden color.

Cypress tree.

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell