Friday, December 25, 2009

Morgan Lake under ice

We took a walk around Morgan Lake. It's frozen pretty solid. We hugged the shore, stomped about for awhile just to be sure.

Don't how deep the ice goes, but we couldn't produce so much as a crack as we walked, ran, and jumped about. Didn't take long for us to venture further out...the deep end so to speak.

Every once in awhile though we did hear a giant air bubble burp beneath the ice. It was eerily like the sound of a whale. Made walking out on the ice lake seem miraculous.

Brilliant day.

Sammy's Paws are coming to town

Santa Claus came last night. Exhibit A is this note (click on photo if you want to read it) he left beside a near empty glass of milk and a plate containing only crumbs and four solitary cranberries. Exhibit B, a large and strangely festive raven puppet, bearing a remarkable resemblance to one the kids had seen at the Portland Children's Theater production of "Narnia" days earlier.:

Santa left some interesting gifts for the kids as did their friends and relatives. Colm got a snowboard/sled and a remote control helicopter and a nerf football. Tess got her own radio/CD player (huge smile on that one, thanks Grandma and Grandpa), lots or art supplies, some books, including a cookbook. Both kids got some cool abominable snowman snowshoes (shout out to Erin!).

In the true entreprenureal spirit of this secular holiday, we've marked this xmass by unveiling a brand new product line. Early focus group responses are very favorable. It's called Sammy Jammys. We've already begun contemplating spin-offs like Christmas Sammy songs, "Here Comes Sammy's Paws" and "I saw Mommy kissing Sammy's Paws" and so on... If things really take off, we'll consider incorporating the cats into the concept...Jasper Jammys, Cinder's shirts...perhaps even the chickens....Teluhah's Tops or Robin's Bottoms (Colm's idea).
Merry, merry...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Petit Papa Noel Reprise

A couple of years ago, I recorded Tess singing the French Christmas song "Petit Papa Noel". It was a memorable performance, what with the red fan and her hyperventilating technique, not to mention her impeccable accent.
Since posting it on Youtube it's collected over ten thousand views. Here it is again.
Joyeux Noel

Monday, December 14, 2009

The poetry of a boy and his dog

Steve Martin recently held a video contest to promote his new banjo album called The Crow. One of the songs on the album is called "Wally on the Run". It's inspired by his dog, a yellow lab named Wally, who we actually met in Eugene about a month ago. Nice dog.

Anyway, Steve cooked up the idea of inviting people to enter a contest in which they use his song to create a music video. Of course, having the world's most photogenic dog, we decided to enter the contest (first prize one thousand dollars). I captured a lot of great footage of Sammy on the run; Sammy wrestling the cat, Sammy running with a hula hoop around his body; Sammy jumping up in our bed, Sammy chasing balls, and Sammy in the woods.

Unfortunately, we don't have the necessary software to create movies out of these raw materials and the person who I had hoped would help us flaked out, so I was on the verge of giving up when I happened upon a video clip over a year old, taken at Catherine Creek State Park. The clip shows Colm as a five year old chasing Sammy as a five month old puppy. What was wierd was that the length of the clip matched almost perfectly the length of Steve Martin's song...a good thing since I don't even have the editing tools or skills to alter the length of my videos.

Even so it took me the better part of a Sunday to figure out how to lay the audio track into our video clip. I hadn't known that the original audio containing Colm's laughter as well as the nearby creek and the ambient sound of wind in the microphone would remain audible underneath the music. The effect, while accidental, was for me almost magical. In the end, I knew that we didn't have a contest winner, yet I had become very attached to the result because it evoked for me with startling clarity the puppy-like quality of Colm as he chased his still new pup, Sammy, through the dappled light around our campsite alongside Catherine Creek on a lazy June day.

Fifteen months later, both boy and pup have sprouted coltish legs. Sammy has about hit his physical prime, but Colm still has miles and miles to go. The image of Colm's short legs barely able to keep up with Sammy's even shorter cartoonish ones while the stream rushes on headlong, the manic laughter, the delight in pursuit, the crazy serpentine course of his all moves me in the way a poem can sometimes do.

In my weaker moments I imagined that all these personal subtexts were somehow plainly evident in the video itself and that it would, therefore, sneak past all the other entries marked by assiduous and playful editing techniques, clever effects, and personable dogs of every sort imaginable. Umm...not.

The winners were announced today. You can see the first place entry here and second place here. Our entry you can watch here below. By the way, the album is really good. You should get it. Even the liner notes are good.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Beth's birds

Beth has always been a birder. Here are three tangible clues to that effect. The first is a photo she took of our iced kitchen window the other morning during a cold snap. (understatement - near zero temps)

The next two are closeups I took of wool felt birds she made and put on our christmas tree. She should make more and offer them to people, don't you agree?

Bringing in the tree

Last weekend we went out in the valley in search of the ideal Christmas tree. Beth vetoed all the white firs, a prejudice rooted in her days doing forestry work. Her heart was set on finding a noble fir which was the least abundant of the tree species out there. In the end we settled on a tree that seemed white fir-ish or maybe an Arizona spruce. The guy who sold it to us told us he thought it might in fact be a noble fir. Whatever it was, we cut it down and hauled it home for decorating. It's a good tree.

Sammy has already eaten one low hanging popcorn string. He agrees.

Beth has placed on the tree (high up where the cats won't be tempted) three birds she made recently by felting wool. They are striking, I think, and they lend the tree some vestige of its former life outside.