Friday, December 31, 2010


We just can't get enough of Christmas this year.

The sun came out on Wednesday 12/29 so Anna, Sam and I got out for a neighborhood walk. Sun in December in Cleveland is as rare as hen's teeth. Just as we arrived back home, our guests pulled into the driveway.

With weather delays (and delays... and delays!) flying out of Maine, they finally took matters into their own hands, rented a car, and drove from Portland, ME to CLE, via I-95, I-84 and I-80. Having spent Tuesday night in central Pennsylvania, they made it to Cleveland just after lunch on Wednesday. We were glad to see them!

Sam took the opportunity to play while we waited for gift exchange number three.

First up: stockings. Maggie sports excellent technique for emptying hers.

Doug is enjoying the 2011 Claspy Photo calendar (a sure hit with grandparents) while Pam shows off a nice new set of Shaker boxes.

We've been eating, taking walks, eating, spa trip for the ladies, eating, museum visit, eating and catching up with each other.

Tonight we'll ring the old year out and the new year in. Pam and Doug fly back to Washington tomorrow afternoon, while Dorothy is L.A. bound on Monday.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas, part deux

Christmas number two for the household began on Monday morning. It was supposed to include the Grandma Pam, Grandpa Doug and Aunt Dorothy who were to arrive from Maine on Sunday night, but Mother Nature had other plans. After a nightmare of flight logistics (first flight out is not until FRIDAY?) they've found other means of travel and should arrive today. Just means there will be not one, not two, but THREE Christmases for us. No problem!

There were cookies as far as the eyes could see.

Sam FINALLY got to open some presents. He loved it so much he wanted to eat the wrapping paper.

Maggie loves being fashionable. Thank you to Aunt Jane and cousin Gabi.

It was all so much fun that Sammy was bathing in it!

Tuesday we had a day out. "Let's go bowling" for us means more than bowling. It is in fact code for "let's eat Indian food at Udupi, buy some groceries at the Indian grocery store, and then bowl." Sometimes we fit even more into this outing. We bowled at Bradnan's Recreation, a real throwback of a place (in the basement of a strip mall in Middleburg Heights) and one that is full of memories for me. This is where we usually bowled when I was a kid.

The rolling was good. Anna got a strike! YUSSSSS!

Maggie showed rare form while Sam looked on. He did NOT want to roll that pink ball.

Here are the kids showing off their Aunt Jane hats.

Stay tuned for Xmasx3!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Christmas, part 1!

This is but part 1 of a Christmas post. We are extending the holiday in absolutely un-holy ways here in Cleveland. Daughters, parents and aunts arrive soon, so much of the celebrating (that is, present opening) will wait until we have critical mass. In the mean time, our core group of three have had a wonderful holiday so far.

I've enjoyed my annual read of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, something I've done for probably 30 years now. As we unpacked the box of Christmas books while we were decorating, my mother's copy of Delbert Lean's transcript of the version he would orate in Wooster every year (for over 50 years!) appeared. Lean was a professor of speech at Wooster for the first half of the last century. That was probably the first version I read as a young boy.

We also listened to Dylan Thomas reading A Child's Christmas in Wales, another tradition I've followed for years.

I'm also reading- for the first time- E.T.A. Hoffman's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. It is wild and fantastic! I'm reading Maurice Sendak's illustrated translation.

Christmas Eve we spent distracting Sam from his newly-erupting tooth. One thing we did was to try out his backpack. We loaded him up and walked up to the library to return some books. Despite his look of slight unease at being loaded into the contraption, he seemed to be awfully comfortable once we started walking- enough so to fall asleep!

Christmas dinner was roast duck. I followed Julia's recipe and it was delicious. Accompanying was maple bacon Brussels sprouts and a wild rice medley. (Christmas brekkers was Svenska pannkakor, lunch was leftover homemade pizza from Xmas eve!)

The tree and presents are being guarded carefully (though the guard does nap from time to time.)

Today we visited the Cleveland Museum of Art. Sam and I have seen the Treasures of Heaven exhibit several times, but Kim hadn't. We wandered some of the galleries, then saw the new exhibit of illuminated manuscripts, "The Glory of the Painted Page", from the permanent collection- really super! This one we'll come back to.

Our traveling guests are pinned down by snow on the east coast, but we hope to see them sometime late tomorrow. Stay tuned for Christmas, part 2!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

'Tis the Season

With birthdays come and gone, we're starting to get into the holiday feeling. While Maggie was entertaining the shoppers at Bremecs with Christmas music last weekend, Kim and I picked out a small tree. With lots of baby paraphernalia and 8 people in the house this year, small is good. Today we put on some Christmas music and got the tree set up and decorated.

Earlier this week, we got a lovely gift in the mail from my sister- a bird food wreath. I hung it out back on a shepherd's crook, and it didn't take long for the wildlife to find it. Let's hope the birds get some!

Before any decorating could start, the men folk had to get out some barbaric YAWPs.

Sam enjoyed festooning the tree. Some old classics were hung with care (a glass ball, "Paul & Lois, 1957") and so many others. This skiing Santa went front and center.

Helping Mommy!

A cardinal keeping watch near the top of the tree.

We'll not set any records for size with this tree- it's not nearly 12 feet tall!-, but it sure is pretty and smells beautiful. And the rituals of choosing a tree, bringing it into the house, stringing the wires and hanging the ornaments somehow ties us together, from Paul and Lois in 1957 to Sam in 2010.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

From the Shop

Colder weather makes for more time for indoor projects, and as such, I'm back at work in the shop. I've not done much in the way of furniture building for more than a year, and am itching to get back at it. Construction and household projects are satisfying, but cabinetmaking is more so for me.

I've got three sets of plans up on the wall. First are two smaller projects: a pair of saw benches, and a long-overdue triple frame for three watercolors by my brother-in-law. Finally, a bigger project, a glass door book case.

This fall I've been building Shaker boxes. These are fun to make and can be done with small chunks of time. Their form and utility are wonderful. My friend Daniel was interested in learning how to make them, so we worked together. I've made two sets of sizes #0 through #5, which are all done but for finish.

A nested set, sizes #0 through #4, sans tops and bottoms.

Stacked #0 through #4, on top of a pair of bigger #5s.

Stack of pine (saw benches) and cherry (picture frame and bookcase) awaiting their fate.

"Don't make something unless it is both necessary and useful;
but if it is both necessary and useful,
don't hesitate to make it beautiful."

Sunday, December 12, 2010


The Thanksgiving to Christmas weeks are a whirlwind for us, perhaps moreso than for some, as we've got three birthdays to fit in between there. And all in one weekend!

We were so excited that Sammy decided to dance a jig:

Here are the birthday action shots.

Maggie got a nice new case for her violin.

Anna got cash money- in Euros!- from more than one generous gift giver. Tres bien!

Kim got help opening her gifts. We didn't have to worry about cleaning up ribbons and paper- Sam ate it for us.

Saturday was music day. Maggie had two performances, one with her orchestra at the Cleveland Institute of Music, the other at a local garden store, where she and her friend Oona played Christmas carol duets.

Here's a video of her performing with the orchestra:

And here are the two carol players:

It was a busy and fun weekend!