December 25, 2010

Karen's New Cat

Meet Zoe. She's a 10 month old stray we helped Karen pick out from an animal shelter. She is beautiful, playful, super friendly and good with kids. What more could you ask for from a kitty?

Alden Sledding on Christmas eve

December 24th was a lovely day. I spent the morning replacing a ballast for the Artdogs Studios and then my pal Darrell came over and we (Darrell, Alden and me) went sledding in the back yard. Alden calls it "sliding", which I think is quite appropriate.
This was the first time Alden had gone down in the sled by himself. We went down together a few times, but mostly it was a solo venture, with either Darrell or me at the bottom to catch Alden.
The sled run was pretty great for a three year old. A long but very shallow incline, which is good because Alden could not hold on to the sled with his gloves on. The only major hazard was our neighbors deck (at the end of the run). It was just the right height for Alden to take a header if he got up enough speed and we didn't stop him.
Alden sometimes closed his eyes on the sled and sometimes turned his head around to watch me after I pushed him down the hill. When he did this I would yell to him to turn around and look forward, which never seemed to work. Alden crashed twice, but took both spills very well. He was only upset until I brushed the snow off his face... maybe 15 seconds. I was very proud of him.

December 14, 2010

December 10, 2010

Where is my winter insulation?

I got the east end of the house buttoned up and ready for blown in insulation. The contractor told me that he would try and get to me before the end of the year, but I have my doubts.

Besides running new electrical to outlets and putting fiberglass insulation in the ceiling and interior walls I covered the inside of the exterior walls with half inch polly-iso boards. The boards are usually used for exterior applications, but I think it will serve as a nice extra thermal barrier how I am using it.
The upstairs room got 2 inch polly-iso boards for extra insulation value. Between the polly-iso and the exterior wall is an air void that will be filled with blown in insulation... someday.

November 30, 2010


We had a quiet celebration at our house this year. My Dad and Kerstin's Mom joined us for some tuna steaks, stuffed artichokes, cranberry relish and a bunch of dishes featuring our garden vegetables (squash, potatoes and kale that was still growing up until Thanksgiving day).
We made a sweet meat squash polenta which came out really well.After the initial toast, Alden wanted nothing to do with the Thanksgiving meal. He refused to try any of the dishes and we had to heat up a precooked chicken sausage for him. He spent most of Thanksgiving tearing apart our couch cushions.My Dad spent the weekend up here and helped Kerstin insulate the unfinished part of the house, including the soon-to-be guest bedroom. We had our first snow the day after Thanksgiving and Alden and I made snow footprints in the backyard. I'll let Kerstin tell you all about the insulation in another post.

November 20, 2010

Potty Train - Finally

Our own fault really, sitting in front of Alden staring at him while demanding he "Poo". I can't imagine trying to perform under that kind of pressure. The other week while trying to get Alden to use the potty I ran downstairs to get him some goldfish crackers. I thought if he had something to munch on he would sit on the can a little longer. When I got back VOILA there was a deposit made to the porcelain bank.

Now we ask Alden if he needs privacy, to which he always says yes. It looks like we are on the way to better times.

November 15, 2010

Third Place Tapas

Last weekend Ilana and I were invited to a tapas pot luck. Ilana spent most of the day making some kind of mushroom tarta, but it was a new recipe and the texture did not come out right... Oh, and did I mention that the tapas were to be judged with prizes awarded for the top entries? I was helping Karen winterize her house for most of the day, when I got home to get cleaned up and go to the party Ilana was a bit of a wreck. We had an hour before we had to leave and our tapa entry was sub par! Like a boss I got out my trusty crepe maker and we made mini-crepes filled with shrimp, roasted red pepper, onion, and pesto. We cranked out thirty of them within the hour and were off to the party (leaving Alden behind with Karen).

There were about 25 entries in the competition and we were were voted third place victors! Our prize was three wooden spoons which Alden now uses as trees for his stuffed beaver to gnaw on. Score!

November 2, 2010

Good bye Frida

Karen's cat was struck by a car today and died. Very sad. She was also Alden, Ilana's and my cat too. We will miss her.

October 31, 2010


Alden and Sophia reunited for Halloween. There was much embracing and kissing and insane amounts cuteness all around. They haven't seen each other for almost 2 months and I feel awful that I've kept them apart for so long. I blame my insane work schedule and a general lack of social organizational skills.
Alden and Sophia met in Boothbay Harbor for the Halloween parade and trick-or-treating downtown extravaganza. There were hundreds of kids and some really creative costumes. Alden had a bit of a hard time nailing down what he wanted to be. "A froggie and a fireman and a pumpkin" was his final decision, which left me scratching my head for ways to make his chimeric, but very earnest little dream come true. Karen made some fantastic animal heads for Kerstin and Geoff when they were kids and found a bunch of these in her attic, which included a frog. One down, two to go. I'm completely hopeless when it comes to handcrafted, lovingly sewn costumes, (or any sewing for that matter), and my free time has been nonexistent as of late, so I knew that making a firefighter's jacket was out of the question. I'd therefore resigned to shelling out cash for some tacky costume off the RiteAid seasonal rack or whatever, but I lucked out. Alden's school had one in their costume collection that his teacher let me borrow. Score!!

Two down, that left only the pumpkin. This part was easy. I figured I'd buy Alden one of those ubiquitous plastic Halloween pumpkin totes and call it done. While shopping for one, I found a tasteful felt pumpkin bag and figured I'd give him an upgrade.

So there you have it folks - a froggie and a fireman and a pumpkin. Kerstin and I wore matching Panda heads, courtesy of Karen circa 1976. Sophia was an adorable ladybug with a matching ladybug bag embroidered with her name - very high on the cuteness index!
The festivities started on the lawn of the Boothbay Harbor Library, and snaked through town, with merchants at every shop ready to fill Alden's bag with an amazing array of candies he never even knew existed. He was thunderstruck by the abundance and diversity of his haul. We don't let him eat candy, so this was more of an educational experience for Alden than we'd anticipated. Let's just say his horizons have been greatly expanded.
We've all learned that Alden really likes lollipops and peanut butter M&Ms. He's not fond of KitKats. We're not giving him gum, but other than that we'll probably let him sample everything and see what he thinks. He's a very particular eater, even (or especially!) when it comes to sweets, so I feel good knowing that he'll likely reject about half of his candies.

Checkin' out the ninja's stash.

The specter you see before is not some ghost of Halloween, but rather a very excited kid hopped up on sweeteners. I love that you can't even make out his feet in this image and it looks like he's literally flying. Alden was riding the sugar dragon pretty hard when we got home, but crashed hard too which made bedtime a relative breeze.
Happy Halloween!!

October 19, 2010

Aldens new bed

We decided that Alden should have his freedom in the mornings. He has been very patient with us coming to get him out of his crib, and on some level we have to ask ourselves why we are letting him let himself out in the AM. However he has started to climb up the inside and balance on the top of the frame.

Alden's crib has a removable crib-front, but was missing the mini-front that you replace it with (one of the problems of buying a crib at an auction for $5). It took us a few nights and an out-of-bed tumble to decide to place a board across the front. Yes, a little ghetto but Alden doesn't seem to mind and it functions well.

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Phytoplankton Pumpkin

Emiliania huxleyi jack-o-lantern. I'm really proud of how this one turned out. Are there any more suggestions for microbe-oriented pumpkin carvings?

October 18, 2010

Barbara Visits

My mom visited last week and interviewed for a job in Brunswick (she said it went well - fingers crossed!!) We also packed lots of activities into the 5 days while she was here. We spent a day in Portsmouth, where we saw a bunch of my Mom's friends, as well as my uncle, aunt and cousin.

It was a windy, but otherwise amazingly gorgeous day. After hanging out in Market Square for a bit, we walked around town, marveling at the eighty million or so coffee shops that seem to have sprung up over the past 10 years. We ate at my old high school stomping ground, the Friendly Toast, a dimly-lit campy 50's/60's romp that specializes in huge breakfasts and brunches. Eating there again would have made me all dewy-eyed over my lost youth if Alden hadn't sucked down a pint of whole milk in a little under 3 minutes, then puked it up all over the bathroom floor. Parental note number 543,347,699: children under 3 should not harness the awesome power of straw technology without strict supervision.It was lovely to see my family and walk around the town. When Alden went down for a nap, Kerstin developed this crowd-pleasing technique for blocking sun and wind. The backwards lean was an especially nice touch. On our way home, we stopped at L.L.Bean for some quick shopping. Alden really likes the elevators in that store. He calls it "L-On-Bean". That really cracks me up for some reason.Alden and my Mom at the state museum.
We also went to the Pumpkin Regatta in Damariscotta. The whole town (seriously!) grows giant pumpkins competitively, first for bragging rights, then for carving contests (including an underwater carving contest), demolition, and finally for building make-shift watercraft which are then raced in the harbor. The course takes boaters from the dock to a buoy in the middle of the harbor and back twice. There are paddle divisions, and motor divisions, relay and solo races. It's pretty insane, or so I hear. We couldn't see over the mob of people who lined the shoreline. We tried to let Alden watch by carrying him on our shoulders, but he got fidgety and cranky instead. We left before the real fun started, sadly. Interested parties can watch some random clips from this year's race on YouTube here and here. Pumpkin boat designs were quite varied. Here's a basic model from the one race we got to see:
As you can see from above, there were many casualties of poor balast and or balance. Below is a more colorful craft. It was outfitted with a horn that played "Dixieland" and had a turning radius of, oh, 12,000 ft -- awesome is the only word I have to describe it.It was really nice to have my Mom out for a visit. We saw lots of people, went to some great events and ate some great food!

October 12, 2010

Pumpkin Fun

My mom visited us this week and we carved pumpkins with Alden. This is the first time I've done this in like twenty years. She made the cat, I made the bacteriophage. Alden liked blowing out candles.

September 20, 2010

Bounty Shots

2010 was a banner year for our garden. We managed to produce vegetables we've never been able to before. Eggplants, red peppers, romanesco, basil -- all the warmer-climate produce that up in Maine usually only manages to eke out a tiny, unripe fruit or two before the first frost, was fabulous this year. And so, here are some gratuitous produce shots.
Alden, his face still messy with breakfast, shows off the zucchini he grew. (He helped me plant all the cucurbits and beans this year).
Our romanesco! We managed to harvest 9 or 10 heads in total and they were absolutely amazing roasted with olive oil and sprinkling of kosher salt.
Benning's Green Tint patty pan squash and swallow eggplant.
Here's a shot of all the veggies I harvested in one sweep of the garden right before for dinner.
Clockwise from lower left: Valencia tomatoes, Zeppelin Delicata squash, Red Kuri squash, Arcadia broccoli (still productive in mid-summer!), Japanese Black Trifele and Brandywine tomatoes, New Ace red peppers, Revolution pepper (large green one), Bulgarian Carrot pepper (green, in little bowl - very hot!), Jimmy Nardello's Sweet Frying peppers (awesomely sweet!), Swallow eggplant, basil.

A fall harvest of salad greens and chard. This is the biggest bowl we own and it still couldn't contain all of the greens I pulled out of one bed.
The potatoes did OK this year. We got about 60 pounds total -- not bad, but definitely not as productive as in years past. They probably won't last the winter. However, the mean size of the potatoes was much larger than in years past. This is the first year that we grew Kennebec, a true Maine spud, so I don't know if the varietal is especially well suited for our climate and soil or if it just produces larger potatoes. I don't have any shots of the starchy leviathans by themselves, but I'll try to get a few posted soon.

September 2, 2010

Alden and Sophia

Alden's best friend is Sophia, a lovely little girl he met at daycare. She has sadly started a new preschool, so he doesn't see her every week anymore. We can tell he misses her because he likes to watch the videos of the two of them playing in the evenings. We are trying to keep their friendship going by arranging regular play dates with her family. Here are some pictures of one such play date on the eve of Sophia's third birthday.
The pool was fun.
Emptying the pool one bucketful at a time was even more fun.
Best yet was the lift and squeal game on the lawn.

For Sophia's last day at daycare, her Mom brought in a cake shaped like a lady bug. Alden prefers to call it by the Spanish name, mariquita.
"Remember when you ate mariquita with Sophia?" he asks me before bed. He still get his personal pronouns mixed up.
"I do remember when you ate that cake," I lie between my teeth (I was at work when this magical event took place).
"That was really, really tasty."
Coming from a kid who generally loathes birthday cake, this is a big deal. It just goes to show what a high regard he has Sophia. We're going to do our best to keep the two of them in touch, despite their different schools.