Monday, October 25, 2010


I took this picture on November 1, 2008, the morning after halloween. I had cleaned out my pants' pockets before tossing them into the dirty laundry, and this was the shameful evidence that emerged. Guilty on three counts, THEFT FROM A CHILD'S HALLOWEEN BASKET WITH INTENT TO CONSUME, CONSUMPTION OF STOLEN HALLOWEEN CANDY and, of course, GLUTTONY.

Well, it's not going to happen this year...even if the kids leave an Almond Joy unguarded. (Curse that devilish amalgam of chocolate and coconut!) I've decided to make some changes. No "Daddy Tax" will lighten their load this year. In fact, I will hereby pledge that no candy will pass my lips during the week before or following Halloween.

Josh Tate's gonna get healthy, and this is my first challenge.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


One of the more eccentric members of the sleeping club was Catherine “Aunty” Stellig, heiress of the Stellig tire fortune. She lived as a recluse in a hilltop villa above Rancho Mirage, California. Preferring complete solitude she had become a hermit by choice. Her housekeepers and staff, even those who had been in her employ for several years, had never so much as laid eyes on her. Only one person, a man named Steven Welcome, had any regular contact with her. Steven was a personal secretary of sorts. He had obtained the job simply by answering an ad in the paper. He had been the first to respond to the ad, and when he called the phone number listed one of Aunty’s housekeepers answered and told him that he was hired.

“What?” he had asked, “I’m hired? Just like that?”

“Yes,” said the housekeeper. “I have been instructed to hire the first person that inquires about the job, and I will be sending you an information packet in the mail. Your starting salary will be $200,000 a year, and you are to begin work on Saturday morning at 10:00 am.”

For reasons that were never clear to Steven, Aunty trusted him completely- a trust which he never abused. They met every Saturday morning from 10:00-11:30 am. On Thursday of each week, Steven would receive an e-mail from Aunty containing an agenda for their upcoming meeting as well as any special menu requests, which he would dutifully forward to Mario Lazar, the head cook in Aunty’s kitchen. During the meeting itself, Steven and Aunty would work their way through the agenda, and when their business was complete Aunty would exit the room, and nobody would see her again until Saturday morning at 10:00 am.

Over the years, the meetings settled into a predictable routine and the agendas from week to week became more or less identical, but in late July of 2009 Steven noted with interest that an entirely new agenda item had been added. Line #14- “Discussion of ongoing sleep issues and the purchase of property at the corner of Alvarez and Sunset.”

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Recently I have been missing New England. Maybe it's the change in season or the rain we've been having...whatever it is I have been thinking more about New England and the folks back east than normal. I miss things about Vermont which I have trouble explaining without sounding trite. I miss it with all five of my senses, and this time of the year is always the worst for me. This past Monday night Sarah and I had planned a family fun night for the kids including a movie and a campout in the living room, but I spontaneously added a walk around nearby Lake Fulmore to the agenda partly because the place vaguely reminds me of Vermont and Lake Champlain.
When we left Idyllwild it was sunny with relatively clear skies. One of the oddities of living so high in the mountains is that quite often it may be sunny at the top but the surrounding valleys are socked-in and overcast. We were unknowingly above the clouds and storm. As we drove down to the lake we descended into the clouds, and by the time we got to Fulmore we were right in the midst of a fine mist which necessitated the sporadic use of the van's windshield wipers.
We tried without success to get some group shots of the kids. Here are the many attempts. It is funny how usually three out of four of them look fine, and one of them is being a goof. It's almost like they plan it. "Okay, it's your turn, when he says cheese do something to ruin the picture."

Ah well.
We explored a rocky overhang which was used by Cahuilla indians as an encampment in ancient times. The mortar holes where they pulverized acorns are very clear. The kids busied themselves cleaning out the holes.

The overhang. "Look like Indians, kids."
Soot from their campfires.
Lake Fulmore is truly more of a pond, but it is beautiful. Especially on a misty day like this one. There are are paths bordered by low stone walls all the way around it as well as bridges and docks out over the water.
Walking in the clouds

Goldenrod! I miss Vermont.

After our walk around the lake we zipped back home and cooked hot dogs over a fire in the fireplace.
I'm not sure why Bowden looks so fierce here. Do you like his snake tattoo?

Maccaroni and cheese too!

Then, while Sarah took the kids upstairs for their bath, I got things ready for the big surprise- a movie and campout in the living room. They thought that all of the fun was over, but No!
We had just finished reading "The Wind in the Willows" at bedtime so I ordered the movie through the library. After hooking up the DVD player,  I set up camp, chucked another log on the fire, and popped some popcorn.
The kids were excited!

They loved the movie, which was fairly faithful to the story. I really enjoyed it too. Wasn't there an animated series based on the Wind in the Willows at one time? I seem to remember that.

Lucy did not make it to the end of the movie.
After the movie, Sarah and I herded them into the tent, and I sung them a few songs before they passed out. Despite all of the excitement they fell asleep really easily because it was quite a bit past their normal bedtime.

This is me pretending to be asleep.