Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

The winter garden

We have a house full of toys.

Iris plays in the potted plants, moving soil from one pot to another and rearranging the tiny figurines.


winter garden


Anyone want some awesome toys?


Monday, December 30th, 2013

My sweet potato custard obsession

I made up a recipe for sweet potato custard pie before Christmas.

Martin thought it was fantastic; I thought it was imperfect.

So I made up another one. This time I left out the crust. Really, I’m just interested in the formation of custard.

It was real yummy, but then I ate too much, which didn’t feel so good.


sweet potato pie


Here’s my recipe, because I didn’t see anything like it on line, and because it’s the only thing I photographed today:


2 cups (about 2 medium) sweet potato, boiled and peeled

½ cup sugar

3 eggs

½ Tablespoon cornstarch

2 cups heavy (whipping) cream

½ teaspoon coffee extract

tiny dash of cinnamon

bigger dash of ginger

blob of molasses; about 2 Tbsp


Mix well everything but the eggs and cream. Beat in the eggs. Mix in the cream.

Pour into 4 custard dishes (equivalent of one 9″ pie)

Bake at 400°F for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted halfway between center and outside comes out clean.



Iris calls it pie. Now after dinner she chants, “Pie! Pie!”



Saturday, December 28th, 2013

Iris helps bring in firewood


Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Graham crackers & the world news with Gramps






Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Baba, or, The Generations

Now that my mom is Grandma, my grandma needed a new name: Iris needed a name for my grandma. Mom (a.k.a. The New Grandma) chose “Baba.” Thats what Grandma called her grandmother when she was little and a girl could run to the corner store to buy 2¢ of sauerkraut to take home. But here, I am writing this. Grandma is my grandmother; Mom is my mom. Baba is Iris’ great-grandmother and “her Grandma” probably refers to Iris’ grandmother or my mom. “Iris’ mommy” is a roundabout way of saying “me.” Clear?


Grandma’s apartment has nice light. I wanted a portrait Iris with her Baba. It was difficult. Iris was being shy. Mom & Dad had the couch. Ari & I had the floor. Dan had a chair. I took lots of photographs. This one is my favorite:




I like how the lighting turned out in this one:




I like this one because it makes me smile:




Tho this one makes me smile even more:




This one also makes me smile, but Dan might make me remove it:




Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Christmas tree

Iris found a suitable Christmas tree in Grandma’s yard.




It was about yay big.




She cut it down with a handsaw




and a little help from Grandma.




They brought it inside




 and picked out some ornaments




to hang on the tree.




There are a lot of ornaments.




Dan dressed the Christmas skeleton in tinsel




and Ari found a heart




to hang amongst the ribs.




And with a bit of trumpeting and revelry,




they decreed the work to be done. 

















Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Exploring with Ari

Ari and Dog take Iris and Kitty exploring around my mom’s yard: Grandma’s house.




There are dangerous places




and staircases;








and paths to follow.




It is good to see Ari again.






Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Central New York Regional Market

Mom, Iris & I went to the Regional Market.




Mom chose her cabbages by density.




Iris tasted hot sauce again and again.




It was good.



Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Tubby toys

Joshua & Iris exchanged gifts. Joshua got a new potty; Iris got a new bathtub toy.

Joshua used his new potty immediately.

“Do you want to try out your new toy?” I asked Iris.


I turned to Heather. “Do you want to try out Iris’ new toy?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

We filled the tub and plopped in a couple of toddlers. They had a blast splashing one another.

Heather & I played with Iris’ new toy.







Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Minimalist winter running with a toddler

About the time that Iris turned one, I started running once a month. That turned to twice a month and eventually once a week, interspersed with biking and general lazing around the house. Then winter came. General lazing around the house was suddenly interspersed with nothing. I started to go batty, not to mention gain a bit of weight. But every time I took Iris out, the temperature dropped and she came in with frozen footsie-pops. Poor baby! But I think, after a cozy test-run at -7°F, that I’ve finally got the outfit just right.


Let me back up a bit and define some terms. “Minimalist running” is defined by the footwear: the shoe structure is minimal. The shoe should have a 0° drop from heel to toe, none of that crazy “arch support” stuff, and a wide enough toe-box to let toes spread freely and happily as they will. “Running” is defined by a mid-foot strike. If you have a heel strike, no matter how fast you go, you’re still jogging. I run extremely slowly.


In high-school I used to slash my sneaks with razor blades to make them wider. In college, I taped each toe separately to keep them from rubbing. It was always a painful experience, but I pounded pavement faithfully. I enjoyed the running aspect of running. In fair weather and indoors, running was one of the few times I wore shoes. Unfortunately, at that.


Then this minimalist running craze happened. I got my first pair of those goofy-looking Vibram 5-fingers in 2008. They’re great! For me. In fair weather. But what to do in winter? Come the mukluk:


minimalist running with baby


I’ve had these shoes for four years. They were the last decent pair of mukluk-type boots made by Sorel. Now it’s all fake-fur and pleather or veganaise— whatever you call that stuff made to look like leather that isn’t, lined with stuff made to look like fur that isn’t. Horrid. Anyhow, after four years they have holes just about everywhere you can get a hole and they’re re-sewn and patched all over. Yesterday I bit the bullet and ordered a pair of $200.00 Steger mukluks. Yikes! I’ve oogled them for so long… Now I just have to modify my ice-grippers so they don’t eat holes in the bottoms.



(the extras are in case I stop a moment or go to a friend’s house; I need to change my soaking-wet clothing or catch hypothermia):


mukluk boots (this is the one and only reason I can call myself as a minimalist)


toe socks (x2)

neoprene socks or Gore-tex socks

wool socks (x2)

two pairs of leggings (x2)

long-sleeve T-shirt (x2 or 4)

bra (boobie-bounce arrester) (x2)

extra panties (I’m not going to tell you I wear panties. This is the one thing you must assume.)

wool camisole (x2)

hat (x2)

balaclava (I only own one)


fleece shirt in case I get cold

heavy wool sweater in case I stop at a friends house and want to look nice

snow-machine mitts


two headlamps & rear blinky light


all the extras (see above)

insulated bag with 2 canteens of warm water

backpack of useful things (potty seat, wallet, phone, crayons, clothing, lip goop, etc.)

camera & extra battery

TODDLER, wearing:


wool socks

fleece socks

Stones winter boots & boot liners

snow pants

long-sleeve T-shirt or dress

sweater with hood

thick fleece jacket with hood


rabbit-fur lined Mad-Bomber hat


I take a thick wool blanket, fold it in quarters, put half under Iris’ feet and fold the other half over her feet. I tuck my father’s huge Michelin-Man down coat around her and under her arms then top the whole thing off with a crib-size comforter.

And that’s it!

Totally minimalist.