Thursday, December 31, 2009

Eternal Earthbound Pets replies

Much to my surprise, one of the principles of Eternal Earthbound Pets replied to my email. Except that he didn't reply to my email, he replied in the comments to my blog post about the email. You can read it in context there or, um right here, with a couple of editorial comments.

Hmmm..yes, I see your email in my business partners trash:>

He handled inquires for West of the Mississippi. We now only have one email address. I handle all contacts:

I guess given the publicity and volume of mail we were getting in August/Sept he didn't feel your inquiry merited the time to respond. Reading your letter in detail now, I can porobably understand why. But I'll undertake to answer it now.

So, you don't believe in Rapture doctrine yet you spent an inordinate amount of typing and explaining the fictional doctrine of Rapture believers for us... as though we are unschooled in the various end times interpretations. Thanks for that.
He is making that up. my whole letter is barely 16 sentences and the only "explaining" I do is about two sentences to set immediate context for my question. Hardly an inordinate amount of time. I would not presume to know more about Rapture and Tribulation theology than anyone else who has studied it. I used to know more than I do now, but those parts of my brain have been given over to details about childcare and SQL.
There are opposing opinions as to what the Tribulation would be like. According to interpretation of Revelation more than 1/3rd of the world's population will be spared/survive the 7 yrs; and those willing to accept the sign of the beast will beable to conduct business, share in commerce, etc. But frankly, since the potential of such doctrine being real is perhaps 1 in 500 Billion, we don't concern ourseves with the nightmarish myths of the deluded.

Your comment about anti-christian propaganda frankly falls under the same heading. In fact, given that atehsists are nothing if not realists and pragmatists, it would be hard to deny our error in the event of dead corpses rising out of the grave, et al.

Thus, if we have rejected the imaginary propaganda of theists because it is devoid of any evidence now, how much easier would it be to dismiss as false the so called anti-christian propaganda you claim will follow the rapture when prima fascia evidence for theistic belief being true would have been observable? Your dicotomy is invalid and patently silly.
I am sort of disappointed on this point. My dichotomy is patently silly? The whole Eternal Earthbound Pets concept, and my entire response is patently silly. Either my letter too silly or poorly-executed to be actually be funny, like jokes David makes up, or it is just not a funny joke, period. Oh, well. They can't all land.
Finally, may I recommend that you start your own business and offer $50.00 pet euthanasia coverage in lieu of pet rescue. As a christian yourself evidently you perceive a greater value in death than life, or figure rapture believers to be so inclined. Infact, why stop with pets? For $100.00 you can offer to euthanise "leftbehind" christians whose families beamed up when they didn't.
Crap, I wish I had thought of that. It sounds like the premise of a SyFy channel series, like Dexter, but with Kirk Cameron.
Not being a death cultist, which is the mainstay of Christian belief, I don't put an awful lot of thought into such matters. I'm simply offering a service to those death cultists who care about their pets, and want inexpensive insurance that I am certain to a degree of approx. 500 billion to 1 I will never have to execute.
So, there's your answer. Sorry it's so late.
So there is their answer. Sorry it took me so long to bring attention to it. I got busy with holiday stuff.

Oh, and happy New Year/Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord/Feast of St. Basil the Great. This Christmastime has been so high-effort with the weather and a sick wife, that I decided to pass on proper commemoration of the new year other than watching "Stardust" and drinking some port (which I probably would have done anyway given that I have tomorrow off).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Christmas this year--at least the beginning of it--has felt over-shadowed. I know that my feelings don't matter at all in relation to the marking of the Nativity of Christ and that most important aspect of the holiday was the highlight. Because of the weather, very few people made it to Liturgy so that only David and I served at the altar. I loved serving with him and he enjoyed the additional responsibility. The weather was a blessing in other ways as well. I love snow and we got to go sledding--Simon's first time. Snow is a pleasant challenge and always creates memories, like getting stuck in grandpa's driveway having Uncle Paul tow me out. But for all the fun and beauty, the weather definitely overshadowed the larger family gatherings and celebrating of the feast.

Poor planning was another dark cloud. It is the same complaint every year with me--I hate spending the weeks prior to Christmas in a stressed rush to finish everything. The things that I enjoy most--cooking and wrapping gifts--I do quickly at the last minute. I have already outlined a timeline for completing the Next-Christmas Project. I begins basically now and is complete by the beginning of Advent so that all I have left is cooking and wrapping so that I may give those activities the time they deserve and really enjoy them. I was thinking about what this means--a year-long preparation for Christmas. Hopefully, if I do it right, it will mean that I am giving the appropriate amount of attention to it at any given time rather than having to think about it 24-7 during the Advent season, which is better spent in a more reflective preparation. It will also spread out my focus on making/buying things for others and anything that focuses me on others is good. It is possible that an easy, well-paced year-long preparation for Christmas will be very edifying.

Of course, none of this matters a whit to the boys. I remember back when each of them was very young--around their first or second Christmases or birthdays, when they would open a present and be so absorbed by it that we would have to remind them that there is another present to open. Reluctantly, they would put down the first to open the second and then be absorbed by that. Not now. Even gifts that they absolutely love are rapidly dropped in favor of the next box, creating a blizzard of paper, ribbons, and Scotch Tape in the house that was as intense as the one outside. Their enjoyment this year was increased by the snow as well as by the gifts that they gave. We spent some time making low-relief plaster casts of their hands as a couple of gifts. We also spent quality time one afternoon picking out gifts from each of us to Jaime. Jaime did the same getting them presents for me. So they were just as excited when other people were opening their presents.

A few family members got them Barnes and Noble gift cards, which we went out and spent last night. Part of me wanted to exert some control over what they got, but I resisted. I am pretty happy with the haul. Simon got a book featuring anthropomorphic bulldozers, another featuring Cars characters, a stuffed "Max" from Where the Wild Things Are, and a kit that contains a rocket powered by baking soda and vinegar. David got a book featuring Batman, a kit about the solar system that includes models of the planets and a mini-cosmosphere, and a book of knock, knock jokes. He is trying to learn how to tell a joke. Since I used the word "learn" in the previous sentence, and because I'll make him read the jokes himself, I am considering it homeschool material.

So nothing overshadowed Christmas for them. The weather meant we had our service early in the evening so they both got to enjoy it--Simon had his mom to himself and David got to serve. The snow meant all kinds of fun. They weren't rushed about anything. They had fun making and buying presents. And, of course, they had fun receiving them.

Christ is Risen!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Altar Boy

Altar Boy

So, I mentioned before that David and I have been practicing at being an altar boy. Today was the big day. Having practiced several times and told everyone who would listen that he was going to be serving, came in the back stairway after Sunday school, got his robe on, came in, prostrated, got his blessing, and then served like an old pro. Before he came up, I prayed to various and asorted saints for patience, not knowing how well he would do at the paying attention and not driving me crazy. Prayers answered. He did wonderfully, alternately paying attention and being fascinated and curious about everything that was happening and asking a continuous stream of questions.

Everyone agrees that he was adorable. One young woman told me that when he came out, she smiled at him, and he winked back at her. He waved and smiled and I think even gave a thumbs up to someone. Given the chance, he would have kissed babies and made campaign promises, I am sure.

We have two other young boys in the parish who do not serve. Both are several years older than David. One of them has served in the past, and the other has served in other parishes. I have sometimes wondered if they did not serve because they didn't want to be the only child serving. This is an area where I am the most pleased with David--his comfort with pretty much anyone regardless of age. He can hang out with and converse with adults and then go play with toddlers. Today, one of the other boys mentioned to his mom that he had been thinking about serving again and might do so next week. Perhaps David will make it easier for other boys to come hang out with the Subdeacons.

He was curious as to why he only has an altar-server's robe whereas I have a cassock and orarion in addition to a stichera. I explained that it is because I am a Subdeacon. He told me that, when he grows up, he wants to be a Subdeacon, just like me.

Dream big, son.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


"What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love."
- Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
I didn't grow up with brothers. One of my brothers died as a toddler and I hope intercedes for me before Our Heavenly Father. The other is quite a bit younger than me and has always lived in another town. I consider it a flaw in my character that I did not develop closer relationship with him. I have often envied the camaraderie of men who grew up together--brothers that I have seen in my extended family, books, and movies. Adult brothers often seem to interact within a constant running in joke, a funny, brave, and moving story about their lives together. Of course, sometimes that story is not funny and many brothers have tragic and conflicted relationships. Either way, the facets and flaws of masculinity seem to be amplified when brothers are together--stimulated by a lifetime of continuous reinforcement.

I was moved to reflect on this relationship when I saw this beautiful photograph of a groom with his two older brothers. The one on the right is friend of mine. Something about the groom's posture reminds of how I felt just before my own wedding. When I saw this photo, my first thought was about my own three sons. God willing, they will someday be gathered like this. They will posture, tease, horse around, recite old jokes and stories, allude to secrets kept between themselves. They will support each other, take council with each other and love each other. God willing they will be comrades in arms, teammates, shipmates, soul-mates. God willing, God willing, God willing. This is my prayer for them, that they will always be brothers.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

This post composed in a blog that may also contain traces of wheat or dairy

Simon has had some pretty serious digestive problems since he began eating. I won't inflict the details on you. Receiving nothing really useful from the medical establishment, we have experimented ourselves. Our first breakthrough came from taking mild out of his diet. The second came by taking wheat out. The difference is noticeable and possitive, but it does make life a little bit difficult. Difficult in a pathetic and cute kind of way.

This evening, my niece, Sophia, was baptized. As usual it was a lovely service. I'm sure I'll be able to link to various people's pictures soon. Afterward, we had cupcakes as a celebratory snack. My mother, who is allergic to wheat, made regular cupcakes as well as gluten-free ones. Simon initially grabbed the wrong one, got it unwrapped, and had taken a small bite when Nina realized his error. I grabbed a gluten-free one and switched them. Then ensued a five minute conversation in which Simon, in his most pathetic whine, tried to convince Nina that his first choice was ok to eat.

Generally, though, he is a trooper. Verifying before eating most anything that it has neither dairy nor wheat. Bananas: no dairy, no wheat, Chicken: no dairy, no wheat, hot dogs: no dairy, no wheat.

Most of his bowel problems seemed to have cleared up, though he is still afraid of certain bodily processes. I dare say that he is even gaining some weight, which leads me to suspect that he has some form of Celiacs. I was hoping for a mere allergy or intolerance, but he has had a number of symptoms that indicate Celiacs, and has had improvement in a number of way since giving up the wheat that also indicate that may be what we are dealing with. But it will probably be a few years before we know for sure.

Friday, December 11, 2009


I have uploaded a small variety of new photos to Flickr.

I came on this site one night in the boys' room, which I believe is an alternate ending to either Curious George or King Kong.


School time. Haven't talked much about that, but it is going ok. We don't do enough, but David is learning to read, write, do math, etc. When it is going well, it looks like this. Simon occupies himself on the other side of the table, usually with crayons and a coloring book. But here I decided to see if he has what it takes to begin doing some basic letter shapes . . . he does not . . . but look at the way he is holding the marker. It's like he was born with it in his hand. He also has much more interest in drawing, etc. than his brother.


David reading Where the Wild Things Are to me.


Getting violent on Thanksgiving.



Jaime was on the phone and Simon hopped up next to her . . .


To enjoy another Thanksgiving tradition.


David reading to Simon.


Thursday, December 10, 2009


It actually bothers me a bit how much the new one moves around inside his poor ailing mother. He'll have these bouts of squirmies (to use the technical term) that feel like he is a couple of wrestling puppies egged on by toddler swinging a kitten. It makes Jaime miserable. But, by all other accounts, he is healthy and growing so I have to feel gratitude while I sympathize with Jaime, who feels like she is having her life essence sucked out of her. This has been a more difficult pregnancy than the previous ones. But we have friends who have been so sick as to be bed-ridden for their entire pregnancy, so I am grateful that it is not worse.

In unrelated news, please take the Nook off of your Christmas list for me.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Where David surprises me by paying attention and Simon is sick

David behaves as well as any five-year-old in church--fidgety, tired, bored. our agreement is that he knows what points in the service that he is expected to stand, and for the rest he simply needs to not distract others. Then, I don't hassle or lecture him. If I see during the service that he is not standing, then I will limit his play for the rest of the day, expressing my concern that we are overworking him, which is why he must be so tired in church. But generally, he does ok and makes regular, if uneven, improvement.

We have decided to let him begin serving in the altar at Christmas. So last week, after church, I found an altar-server's robe that fit him and took him in to the altar to show him around and start teaching basic etiquette. I also gave him a lamp to see if he is able to carry it around while wearing an altar-server's robe. I started showing him the basics of the processions. We got to the readings:
Me: while everyone is singing 'Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal,' we stand here. Then when Father says 'Dynamis' we go out this way . . .
David: And stand by the carpet.
Me: Right! Then, what do we do after Reader John is finished with the epistle?
D: We go over here [turns, goes to the correct spot]. Then when Father is done reading [the Gospel] we do this [turns to the iconostas, bows turns and goes back into the altar]
I was stunned. I had no idea he was paying so much attention. Fr. Joseph and I decided tonight that he will serve for the first time on the 20th. He was elated.

In other news, Simon has a fever and mild cold symptoms. It seems like a mild flu with one exception. He has a red mark on his back that seems to be growing. We fear that it may be a spider bite. This was a bigger concern yesterday when the fever and some pain were his only symptoms. The addition of other cold symptoms makes me think flu but it could also be that he is suffering from a bite, but has also caught the cold that David has been carrying around for awhile.

We wait and see.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My letter to Eternal Earth-Bound Pets

I sent the following in an email to Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA

Dear Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA

As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I don't believe in an a Rapture scenario like that made popular by the recent "Left Behind" books; however, I have some questions about your business.

Among Rapture theorists are those who believe that the Rapture will occur before a period of intense tribulation. According to the "Pre-Tribs," this will be a period of war, disaster, famine, oppression, etc. etc. Pets are suddenly going be pretty low on the list of priorities--especially someone else's pets. Animals are going to be valued as much for meat as companionship. Plus, you say in your FAQs that you are nice folks and open-minded, but in the post-Rapture tribulation, there is going to be LOTS of persuasive anti-Christian propaganda. Many fewer people are open-minded during times of extreme hardship. Furthermore, it may be flat out illegal to have a contract with Christians or to take care of their property. I'm curious to know if you have given any thought to this issue?

Lastly, considering what a bum trip the Tribulation is expected to be, there may be those who do not want their pets to live through it. Have you considered an alternative service where, for $50, you will promise to euthanize their pets? I know that seems cruel, but if the whole Rapture/Tribulation scenario plays out, it would be doing them a favor unless you believe that a dog has a soul AND you believe that our souls are purified by tribulation. But then I doubt you would be a Pre-Trib. Besides tribulation is meant to bring us to repentance and how would a dog repent?

Thank you for listening.

Jason , Topeka, Kansas

I'll let you know if they reply.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

End of training season

A friend of ours gave David a bicycle a couple of years ago. For the first year we had it, he was too small and could not control it. But he has done ok with training wheels for the past year. Recently, I had noticed that, when he was riding in a straight line, he would todder back and forth from one training wheel to the other, indicating that he was not relying on them to keep him up. But I was not sure that he could start and stop--the points at which he would need strength and coordination to stay balanced. I feared the bike was still too heavy for him. On the other hand, he was clearly sick of training wheels. Many of the kids his size in the neighborhood had already removed theirs and David had reached maximum speeds, distance, maneuverability, and tricks possible with a four-wheel setup.

So, 2 1/2 weeks ago, on one of our lovely July Saturday afternoons, we pulled off the training wheels and headed to the parking lot across the street for a few hours of falling down. As I predicted, when dad held him up and gave him a push, he was fine to ride in a more-or-less straight line for about 80 yards and then fall over. I would walk to him, put him back on, point him in the other direction, and push. Gradually, he experimented with turns, and then with stopping. Then with starting on his own. One time out of ten he could get going by himself. After and hour he was confident enough to leave my sight. The lot where we were learning is a school campus so it has acres of black top and buildings and stuff to explore. I explained that the lot went all the way around the nearest building and challenged him to ride circuit. This gave me a couple of tense moments to question my wisdom until David came tearing around the corner at the bottom of the lot, up to me and right on by as I yelled "allez allez allez vite vite vite!" By the end of that first day, I dusted my own bike off, hitched up the trailer for Simon, and went riding in the parking lot with him. David fell down a lot, but I was in the clouds. I am sure there are few greater pleasures than riding bikes with one's sons. At one point he decided he wanted to go up a road from the lot that he had never been up. "I don't know what is up here, I just wanted to see." That, is the essence of a boy on a bike in July.

But here is what impressed me the most: his diligence. I could not have kept track of how many times he fell off that bike. And not just the little falls where the bike stops and tips over and he has to scramble to get out from under it (though that happened hundreds of times); he took some serious falls. There is a stretch of sidewalk in center of our own parking lot that forms a narrow, tall horseshoet. It is on a gradual slope. In the grass below the curve of this horseshoe are several utility pipes that stick up just a couple of inches and have metal or pvc caps. So, a boy on a bike will fly down this hill and try to take the very tight curve at the bottom and if he misses, he has iron and pvc mushrooms to deal with. And he dealt with them, spectacularly, in clouds of dust and pain. He got Tylenol at bedtime that evening. Another time we were in the school lot after a rain. I explained how wet tires don't turn well so he should avoid the puddles--the big puddles, the long, straight little streams of run-off like silver temptation down the middle of the lot. Sure enough, when you take a tight turn and then break with those wet tires--POW! And back up again. But mostly, it was stopping and starting. Oh the frustration. Over and over and over again he fell as he tried to get started. And I would refuse to help for long stretches of time. Once, the bike fell over and he made a couple of violent physical gestures towards it and then stomped over to me, fists raised and clenched, and pounded once on my hip. "Do you feel better?"


"Ready to get back on?"


It took me a week to realize that there was room to lower his seat an inch. That cinched the deal. Now. after a couple of weeks of constant riding, he is an old pro, having conversations with friends while turning slow, lazy little circles in the parking lot and then racing like a mad fiend a top speed around and around and around. He has switched from playing with the younger kids to playing with the older kids. He snaps his own helmet and parks the bike on the back porch (most of the time) when he is done. He comes in for the evening sweaty and exhausted and showers himself off.

I remember when he was barely eight pounds.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Dad is threatening me unless I update the blog and I will admit that a lot has happened since the last time I wrote to you. Mostly: fishing and bicycling.

I don't remember now where David got the idea that he wanted to fish, but it came from somewhere a long time ago. I am always interested in learning a new way to get food from scratch, so I was game. Thing, is, I don't know diddly about fishing. Last time I fished was when I was about 10. As I recall, a worm is involved as well as a lot of standing around being bored, ending with getting to eat fish. While standing still for a couple of hours and eating fish appeal to me now, neither of these are on David's List of Fun. So I wanted to begin with a minimal up-front investment. I borrowed a rod/reel from my brother-in-law and then set out to equip us as inexpensively as I could. I started at the local fishing/bow-hunting supplier by basically walking in with Brooke's pole, setting it on the counter, pointing to it, then to a picture of a fish, then to my mouth and grunting. I walked out with floaters, sinkers, line, worms, and a license. At Walmart, I got David a rod, reel, and Spiderman tacklebox. $50.00 later, I was ready to kill me a fish. But I need skills, right? Well, I read the fishing section of the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Department Web site cover-to-cover and hoped that would suffice. David and I set off to the closest fishing hole: A few acres of pond on the governer's property up the road.

David got the first hit. It was a small Green Sunfish about the size of both of his hands. I was really glad he caught something quickly. Before we went out the first time, I made him promise that we would go fishing together five times before he declared that he is no longer interested. I just didn't want to drop two bits, have him see how totally boring fishing is, and give up. Him catching four times as many fish as me on the first day really helped. What is funny is that he was so impatient. He would drop his line in the water, pull it up and exasperate, "why didn't I get a fish?" I tried to model proper fishing technique by dropping my line and then reading "War and Peace." Finally I told him that he had to drop his line and count to 100 before reeling in. I don't know that he ever got to 100. But 50 was enough to get a hit most of the time. That was a good evening. I even caught one myself. The next time we went, Simon went with us. To help occupy him, I tied hook, line and sinker to a stick for Simon to "play" at fishing. He had a hit before I could even get my own rig set up.

One thing that was iritating David was that I was casting and he could only drop his line from the dock. The reason was simple: I didn't think he could cast without injuring inocent bystanders. When I bought him the rod and reel, I was full of confidence so I bought him an open-face spinning reel and a rod that seemed small enough in the store. But the first time he held it realized that it was about as long and mine--about three times as long as him and the reel was a complete puzzle to him (they are to everyone at first). So I put off teaching him how to cast for as long as possible. The process of casting goes like this: you pinch some line against the rod just above the reel to secure it, flip the bail over to release the line, raise the rod up behind you, and then cast forward releasing the finger holding the line at just the right moment. Not too soon, not too late and not your whole hand. It took a lot of practice for me and I just was not sure that David has the coordination. So we set up on the hill next to the house. I weighted his line and tied some frayed rope to the end where a hook and lure would normally be. He pinched the line, released the bail, pulled the rod up over his head until it was touching the ground behind him, let go of the line, and cast, leaving the line on the ground. 20-30,000 casts later, he is a pro. The ease with which he pinches the line and flips the bail amazes me. He cannot cast as far as me for lack of strength, but he can cast successfully as often as I can (feint praise). We are ruthless with other about casting. When I botch a cast, David yells, "lousy cast!" I return the observation when he ties his line to the end of his rod. Open face reels can be a bit touchy at times and we have had to deal with problems with too much line coming off and getting tied up in knots. We have cut off scores of yards of line. I spend much of my time just helping him work out little problems like this. But the other day, I watched him cast, take up his slack, realize the line was acting up, re-release the bail and fix it without hesitation.

I remember when he barely weighed eight pounds and get all verklempt.

We have been fishing five times now in three different places on two different bodies of water. We have expanded our repretior in an attempt to pull in a larger, more varied catch. I have been working with jigs and we have fished with catfish bait. We've only gotten one catfish, which was not a keeper. The last time we fished, on my first cast, I hit our first keeper--a modest Drum fish with a tube jig. David was thrilled and spend most of the rest of the evening just watching it pout in the bucket of water we put it in. That evening I clumbsily filleted it and the next night we had fish tacos. David was excited until I put it in front of him when suddenly he was not hungry. Additionally, he has been getting bored earlier in each fishing expedition. However, he still seems to be interested in going again. We had to run an errand up by Lake Perry yesterday, but didn't have time to fish while were there and he was disapointed. Hopefully, he'll land a keeper before he gives up. Something I like about fishing with jigs is that you cast and reel rather than cast and go write your memoirs. It is more suited to a five-year-old. Likewise, I have decided I don't like worms. They are boring, easily picked off the hook, and you have to keep them alive.

I have a couple of friends and a brother who are anglers, so I hope to get some more lessons, soon. Lessons that will produce pictures of David and I holding up great big fish. I'll post them when I get them.


So I took the whole morning off yesterday to spend 30 minutes in a doctor's office to hear 30-seconds of sound--the sound of the heartbeat of an 11-week-old. It was totally worth it.

It was Jaime's first with the nurse/midwife who will be our captain of baby birthin' for number three.

This is a pregnancy blog again.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Old Food

For lunch today, I dolloped kim chi onto egg-roll wrappers, rolled them up and fried them. I made the kim chi myself. This evening, I jarred and refrigerated sauerkraut that I made myself and I pickled some fresh beets. One jar of beets I am pickling with vinegar, sugar, and spices. The other, I am pickling with whey. I "made" the whey myself from yogurt. Typically, I think of whey as a byproduct of cheesemaking, but in this case the cheese was the byproduct--a tangy cream cheese. Before going to bed, I set some black beans to sprouting.

So, what's going on?

Well, for most of my adult life, I have enjoyed cooking and food prep. and I have always felt like the way we buy and prepare food around these parts is pretty disconnected from they way most humanity has and does handle food. I am grateful for the grocery store and that is still where the majority of my food comes from. But I do think that, when the way we approach food is radically different than most of human experience, we have to be somewhat alienated from that experience and the humans who are part of it. As someone who values tradition, I really want to better understand food traditions.

So last year, Skylar and I started a garden. This year it is about double the size but still pretty small. We also got off to a bumpy start with the summer crops, so while dad is Tweeting that he has green tomatoes on the vine, we are thrilled that our plants have cleared eight inches. However we did plant early and late spring crops this year, which is progress.

But the whole preservation and fermenting kick comes from my recent read of Nourishing Traditions (subtitle excised because it is self-contridictory and embarrassing). This is where have learned about fermentation in the history of food culture. So far I have fermented carrots, cabbage, and beets. I look forward to cucs (pickles), tomatoes (ketchup), mushrooms (mushroom ketchup, if you can imagine), and just about every other vegetable I can get my hands on.

Also, we are kombucha-brewin' nuts now. I don't know where I first heard about this fermented tea, but Nourishing Traditions talks about it and I educated myself on the Web. Coincidentally, cousin Zach took a class, so a got a starter culture from him, have multiplied that, and now have three gallons fermenting on staggered schedules.

We bought a dorm fridge at a pawn shop to hold all of my glass jars of fermented/brewed stuff.

Sprouting nuts, seeds, and legumes is apparently another traditional way of getting max nutrients from those foods.

There is a method to my madness. Jaime has a crazy digestive system and it seems that Simon may have inheritted some of it. We have verified via testing by a gastroenterologist that she has an over abundance of some sort of bad flora in her gut. She had begun a regiment of heavy-duty antibiotics to kill this off, but had to stop it due to other health issues. Well, fermented foods are a benifit here in a couple of ways: fermenting using the methods I am learning is pro-biotic. Fermentation increases the growth of the bacteria that are beneficial to your digestive system--some of the same bacteria in live-culture yogurt. Additionally, fermentation is, essentially partially pre-processing food, making it easier for your system to digest.

Anyway, all that stuff is out there on the nets and in various books. Fact is, I love the taste fermented foods like kim chi and kraut and I love making stuff from scratch as much as possible. I am spending scads of time in the kitchen, but I find it very satisfying.

Then of course, there is bread making, which has actually slowed down for me since determining that really great tasting bread requires long rising times. I need to work out the best way to work my schedule with that.

I dream of a life of growing things--vegetables fermenting, kombucha brewing, cheese aging, bread rising, and beer brewing in the house and fruits, vegetables, chicken, rabbits, and whatever else growing outside. Children and grandchildren growing both in and outside (but mostly outside). I have been reading Sharon Astyk's blog and would love to have something similar, but in town. Whether or not I realize that dream, anything I do to grow/make my own food is incredibly satisfying.

I'm hungry now.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Juniper envy

Hey, look! Someone else is living my dreams.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Part of the problem with trying to keep a regular blog (if memory serves) is remembering interesting things to write. I hit on a new idea today. Typically, when something of note happens, I Tweet about it. So my Twitter/Facebook status list becomes a sort of outline for possible blogging.

Thursday, David and I set off for an adventure. We were to spend two days in Wichita at the Parish Life Conference and then two days in Salina at the Smoky Hill River Festival. The Parish Life Conference is the annual gathering of our diocese (Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America--DOWAMA) to conduct business and have fun. This is my third conference and David's first as an attendee (he was at part of one as a PLCCK--Parish Life Conference Chairman's Kid). The Smoky Hill River Festival is an annual festival of music, arts, crafts, and games and a Major Family Event for the Gilberts. David and I have done a bit of long-course traveling together and we always have fun, so I was really looking forward to this one.

Part of the appeal of the conference for me is seeing people that I hear and read on the Net or only know through email. I have previously met Fr. Joseph Huneycutt, but haven't gotten to speak with him much. This year I had a couple of conversations with him, which was weird. He produces the goofiest Orthodox Podcast on the Net--always trying to be funny. Part of the humor is his thick Dixie accent, which he plays up on the podcast. When listening to it, I picture him being highly animated and goofy at the mike. So it is incongruous to hear that same voice, with that same accent, while discussing the St. Phillip's Prayer Discipline, with someone who is, in fact, not animated at all, and who is wearing a long black cassock. I pestered him enough for information about the prayer discipline that he gave me a pile of materials and deputized me to recruit others. I look forward to getting a group started. Other notables connections included my old boss, Fr. Justin Matthews, my hopefully future Chancellor, Fr. Chad Hatfield, all the various officers and organizers of the conferences and it committees and, most important of all (though he would say least of all) our beloved Bishop BASIL. These are all our elder uncles and cousins in the family of the faith and it is nice to see them, if only briefly.

I think the highlight of the trip for David was the Motel 6, where we stayed because it is cheap. it is cheap because it is smaller than my bedroom and smells like feet. But he did not care. He had two beds to jump on and he wanted to skip the conference and spend the entire time in that room. But I insisted that he go with me and actually participate. He did all the kids stuff, which involved games, coloring, a magic show, a trip to the zoo, and lots of running around. As I predicted, he quickly made fast friends with a number of boys and girls. At various times during the event, we would see the youth being shuttled from one place to another. David was always in the middle chatting and gesticulating wildly with other kids. But whenever he saw me, he wanted to know when we could go back to the motel.

On both days, the kids stuff ended right before Vespers. In both cases, we had to sit next to a new friend of his. I realized at some point, that this was the most important aspect of the trip for me. I really wanted David to have a good time with other kids from the Diocese. Church is simply too often drudgery for a five-year-old-boy. It is important to me that he have many reasonably positive experiences without giving him the impression that Jesus is simply his playground buddy. Thursday night, when he suggested that we pray before going to bed, I nearly exploded with joy.

One of the highlights of the conference, if you like this kind of thing, is the "Bible Bowl." It basically "Hi-Q" for bible geeks. This year was on the Gospel of John. I forgot to study except for the day of the bowl. There are adult teams and teen teams. Out of a dozen adult teams, our team came in forth--six points behind the winning team. I personally cost us three points on questions that I had reviewed in the one study session--questions that I would have known if I had studied. Me and my teammate even had a conversation about the 153 fish caught in chapter 21, but I could not remember the quantity at the crucial moment. Still, with very little studying on our parts, we came in forth. I see no reason why we cannot dominate next year in Oklahoma City.

Another highlight--Western Rite Matins. This is matins chanted according to the Western Rite (looks and feels like Roman Catholic or Anglican rites) using English Plainchant that Anglicans would be familiar with. I love this. Byzantine Chant is lovely, but will always sound foreign to me--especially in English. Plainsong, on the other hand, is the English Language at its most perfect. It is the way God intended English to be heard. I hope that as Orthodox Christianity takes root in American and England, that the chant will be allowed to naturally drift in that direction--some sort of Plainchant with Byzantine tonal references perhaps, I don't know. I know what you are thinking--"why not just become a Western Rite Orthodox?" Well, too many issues there.

The Business Meeting is hardly worth mentioning, thank God. These are very informal. Substantial business is truly conducted, but it is done quickly, with humor, without rancor, easily. I've been in staff meetings at work that are more onerous (and longer).

Then, David and I headed back to Topeka, met up with Simon, Skylar, Brooke, and Isabelle, dropped of the car for Jaime, and took Grandpa's van to Salina for the River Festival. I think we took all of the pillows that we collectively own.

It seems that the music was particularly good this year. Of course I am going through a blue/folk/country/roots phase right now, so that could have something to do with really enjoying all of the acts I saw. At first the kids seemed to get into the music as well, but that didn't last long and I am not sure why. So they did crafts, got their faces painted (well, Simon and Izzy did), won free* fish, and begged for expensive fried food.

Dad lives just a few blocks from the festival, so we walk back and forth between the park and his house quite a bit. One time, Brooke noted that a lot of people in Salina use blankets as window coverings. I suggested that we open a "Blankets for your Windows" store and tap into this market.

The Big Event Saturday night was the Fabulous Thunderbirds--or the one original member who still has rights to the name, and his back-up band. I missed most of it putting the kids to bed, but I arrived in the middle of the World's Longest Harmonica Solo. That guy kills on the harmonica. He is better than me.

By fortunate coincidence, Sunday was the Feast of All Saints, which is always the Sunday after Pentacost, and the Orthodox Church in Salina is All Saints Orthodox Church. Furthermore, the founding pastor of this parish was in town because of the conference down in Wichita, so he served the Liturgy for their feast day.

Sunday afternoon, the kids spent most of there time at the play ground. At one point David and Izzy started playing in the sand pit and so did Simon. Eventually, he got tired of sand in his sandals so he sat on the curb that demarcates the pit, and took them off. This was very close to the main stage and a great band began playing, so I sat on the bench next to the sand pit and watched while keeping one eye on the kids. Long after David and Izzy had run off with other kids, Simon remind sitting on the curb. He made little piles of sand and knocked them down. He piled sand on one his shoes and then pulled the shoe out. He made piles on the curb, and swept them off. For the full 45 minutes of the performance, he sat quietly with the sand. He only then stopped because I stopped him so we could potty.

Brooke likes to eat a lot. The boy is always hungry. During this trip, he was always hungry for Sirloin Stockade and the running joke was that he constantly asked to go there. "Sure" I said as we left Salina, "we can eat there." What I meant was, "I would never set foot in a Sirloin Stockade." I'm pretty sure he understood my meaning. I was interested in taking hwy 24 from Manhattan to Topeka because it is a more pleasant drive than I-70. But I missed the Manhattan exit. I was fine giving up on the idea but Skylar convinced me to just take the next exit--Deep Creek Road. Half way down the exit ramp, the road turned to gravel. Then we drove for miles on this winding gravel road with no idea where it might lead. Finally it lead back to Manhattan so we headed for hwy 24. By this point we were all very hungry, so we decided to stop and eat. What would you guess is at the junction of hwy 24 and Whatever-road-we-were-on? Sirloin Stockade. What a weird place. Pay $9 and just eat as much warm beige food as you can fit inside of your self. I had meatloaf, salad, coleslaw, beets, bread pudding, ice cream, cookies, part of a cupcake, a piece of brownie, root beer, and probably other stuff that I am forgetting. It was bizarre. Deliciously bizarre. Brooke was hungry as soon as we got back in the car.

Home was a welcome sight, as was my wife, who had to miss the whole trip for various reasons. If this weekend is to set the tone for the rest of the summer, then I am going to have a lot to blog about.

How David Got a Free* Fish

So we were at the Smoky Hill River Festival (more on that later) and the boys wanted to play some of the games. First David attempted to pitch the dunk tank, with no success. Next, we spied a game consisting of a table covered with vases of water. There were some small fish in a couple of these vases. The object was to throw a ping-pong ball in the general direction of the vases. If the ball landed in a vase with a fish, you won a free* fish. It seemed fun. It seemed just David's skill level. It seems that I must have been thinking something like, "in the unlikely even that he lands in a vase with a fish, we can all praise his skill and laugh about how he won a hypothetical fish but not really but that is ok because he'll be satisfied with the sense of accomplishment," or something like that. Second ball, free* fish. Turns out it was just a coupon for a free* fish at the local pet store. From that moment on, going to the pet store and getting his free* fish was the only thing that mattered.

Incidentally, I thought Simon could play this game as well. I know he can throw, but that day, he just kind of jerked around spasmodically and then let go of the ball.

So I gave the issue some thought. The coupon is for a free* gold fish but you can't just buy a gold fish and take it home and put it in a bowl. Bettas are the fish for that because they can breathe from the surface and don't need water pumps and all. So I decided I would just go to my local pet store and drop some spare change on a Betta, and put it in a bowl for David. Skylar mentioned that the pet store has a whole Betta kit with bowls and rocks and all for less than $20--way more than I wanted to spend, but I figured it was less than equiping a gold fish. So that was the plan.

Well, then Jaime mentioned that Walmart has inexpensive little fish tanks. They are probably cheaper than the ones at the fish store. Sure enough, just $9.43 with a pump and a light and everything. Everything except rocks, and a plant, and fish food and water conditioner, and a little net, and a free* fish. So we get all that stuff, too, except the free* fish. Turns out that is still less money than just a plastic box with rocks, plants, food, nets, and water conditioner from the pet store where we go to buy the free* fish. As I write, it occurs to me that, since we ended up with a pump, we really didn't need to confine ourselves to a Betta. We could have gotten a gold fish. As a matter of fact, we could have gotten a free gold fish with our coupon, but I don't think that occured to us at the time.

So just shy of *$40 and an hour later, we have a very cute little tank with rocks and a plastic plant, and a pump and a free* Betta. I think we should name him Patrick Henry since he was not free, is not free and will certainly die.

After the Betta has been thoroughly user tested, we'll move to a standard release. Our plans include a real plant and some snails to keep the place tidy. So our household and grown ever so slightly and the boys have a slightly new level of responsibility.

We have decided that we'll remind David to feed it every day for one week. Thereafter, we will not remind him. My initial idea was that, if the fish died, well, he would learn. But I don't like that idea. Fact is, I like the fish as much as he does and I don't want it to die. So I think I'll keep tabs on wether or not he is feeding it. If he does not feed it, I will and if that goes on for a week or so, I'll move the fish to my bedroom for a period and call it mine.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I had a farm in Africa

Tomorrow, David and I leave for Wichita for the 2009 Parish Life Conference of the Region of Ambiguous Status formerly known as the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America. I'll spend my day doing grown up things, like listening to annual reports, while David goes to the Zoo. He was feeling nervous about it because he thinks that he is afraid of crowds of people he does not know. Nevermind that you can give him scads of examples where he OWNS crowds of people he doesn't know. I finally pointed out to him that he is just feeling nervous--that his chest is a bit tight and he has a weird feeling in his stomach, but that is not the same thing as fear. I told him that the game is to see how long it takes for that feeling to go away. He was certain it would take ten years. I estimate 10-15 minutes. Plus, I told him he gets to ride a bus, which cheered him right up.

Jaime and Simon, meanwhile are going to Kansas City to drop in on Friends.

Then, David and Head back here Friday night, hook up Simon and the Esteses and head to the Next Annual Smoky Hill River Festival.

I am not taking a computer with me, so beyond what I can Tweet, I will not be updating. I know, what are you going to do without daily updates, right? It'll be like the bad ol' days earlier this week. Instead I am taking a book to pass the down times. The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library mailed me a copy of "Out of Africa." Apparently, I requested it. I don't recall doing that. But they sent it to me right on the heals of a notice that I have about 15 overdue items. Enabling, that is all I can say.

Also, my camera is broken, so I won't be documenting anything that way, either.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The house smells like chicken and beets

Auntie Skylar started a new blog about her latest project and that got me to thinking, "hey, I have one of those; I should dust it off and see how long it takes before I can prove I know how to use a semicolon correctly."

The Big News around here today is that David woke up from a bad dream to a Buzz Lightyear. The way Jaime tells it, he told her that he had a bad dream this morning and woke up and turned over and there was Buzz and he closed his eyes and opened them again and Buzz was still there. I am the one who put Buzz in bed with him. After years of keeping my finger securely in the hole of the dam holding back the Buzz Lightyear, I was finally overwhelmed by the forces of nature. It happened when the mother of David's bestest friend said that this friend wanted to give David his Buzz Lightyear. She is standing there with it in her hand and I didn't have whatever it might have taken to say, "No, he can keep it." Just the other night, David and I were eating ice cream on the front porch after sunset when he spotted a star. I taught him how to wish on a star and he wished for Buzz Lightyear. So this morning I put it in bed with him before I left for work.

He called me later at work and told me that he really liked the Buzz Lightyear. There was not a shread left in his voice of a little boy or toddler or anything. I was struck by how very grown up he sounded. I have been thinking a lot lately about how little he was when he was born and sighing.

This evening I made chicken stock and pickled beets and eggs. Actually I finished stock that I began several days ago and then ran out of time. I have been reading a couple of books about food and cooking, which inspired the stock: Nourishing Traditions (I'll omit the embarrasing subtitle) and Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. As a result of both of these, I have been doing a lot of experementing in the kitchen. I've made various things such as Kombucha, cream cheese and whey, Kim Chi, pickled carrots, five shortbread cookies, dumplings, pop-overs, fritters, and, this evening, stock and pickled beets. Not sure what I am going to do with the stock. Tomorrow is a fasting day, I am out of town Thursday through the weekend, and the Apostles' Fast begins Monday. So basically, I will not have the oportunity to do anything with it unil July. But the house smells nice, if you like beets.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

About Simon's arm


Simon has a broken Ulna (not a Radius, as previously reported). It happened like this. Sometime in the past week, he began to occasionally complain about pain in his arm. I would pick him up by the arms or bump him and he would say his arm hurt. He did the same with Jaime. Each time we would both do the same thing: carefully examine the area where he indicated he had pain, and ask him to flex his fingers, wrist, elbow, and shoulder. None of this revealed any problems. Yesterday (Saturday) Simon, David, and I went up to the farm to fly kites. Simon got himself tangle up in his kite string and I began untangling him. At one point, I asked him to drop the string he was holding and I picked him by the torso. He screamed and wailed in pain. He said his arm hurt. So I took him ot the emergency room.

He wailed all the way to the hospital about how he was scared. Which surprised me, since his mom works there so he is pretty familiar with it. Nevertheless, he was certain that they would hurt him. I assured him they would not and prayed that he didn't have a dislocated joined or would not need a shot.

Jaime was working, so she met us in triage and what would become a weekend of Social Worker jokes began. Doctors and nurses asked questions and recorded stats and then we got X-rays. He was nervous about the X-ray room--a large dark place with strange machinery. I held him in my lap with his arm on the table. I wore a lead skirt and he wore a little lead cod-piece. He did fine until he was asked to lay his forearm on the table palm-up. The process of rotating those bones (the Radius and Ulna) was painful.

The images revealed a tiny fracture. It appears as a bump on the edge of the bone in the picture. I have to believe the doctor that it is not part of the normal topology of his skeleton. So the nurse used a piece of gauze to measure his fore-arm because the weekend nurses are not certified for tape-measures. Then she came back with a splint that is only three-or-four times larger than his arm. The splint is a long, flat thing with something like plaster inside. She got it wet and then clam-shelled if over his arm from the elbow to the wrist. Once it set. she wrapped it with an ace bandage to secure it. The whole time he is alternating between curious and freaking the heck out. She procures a small sling, but he would have nothing to do with it.

On the whole, he did really well. Thank God for Curious George. We have a book which he goes to the hospital due to a case of the curiousness. I referred to it constantly: "remember when they put the bracelet on Curious George's wrist with his name on it?" "Remember when Curious George got the X-ray?" It really seemed to help. We left the hospital and he fell asleep in the car imediately. I took him back up to the Honakers and put him to bed. When he woke up, it took about 10-minutes to rediscover the cast, which caused him a moment of confusion.

So, tomorrow, he goes to our doctor for a permanent solution. He will probably get some sort of cast--either a standard plaster affair or a softer splint that secures with velcro.

Meanwhile, he is adapting well, doing a better job of adjusting to his own one-handedness than I am. He and David never stop regaling everyone with the story of how he broke his arm, which is a pretty boring story, so they are embellishing it a lot. If you have heard it, rest assured that I did not really drop him off of the roof.

Simon pictured here enjoying yogurt wearing one of the few shirts we can get over the splint.

So, how did he break his arm? We have no idea. He has slipped and fallen on/down the stairs a couple of times recently and he has fallen out of bed (and on the sidewalk, and in the kitchen and at church--the kid has gravity issues). It seems most likely that he struck it against the edge of a step or his bed frame. We will never know.

UPDATE: Simon went to the orthopedic surgeon this morning. He break is described as a "Nightstick Fracture" so called because of the injury that results when attempting to block the downward blow of a nightstick with a raised forearm. Which narrows it down to two possibilities: the aforementioned falls on the stairs or Simon has been sneaking out at night and rioting, which we have told him would earn him a time out. A full cast is not called for and they don't make soft splints that small, so they created a small soft splint that is basically like the one he had but that is only on his forearm, starting above the wrist and ending below the elbow. So he has full mobility and we can bath him without putting his arm in a sandwich bag.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Reading with David

Although we are beginning later than I had wanted, we are finally moving into full gear (2nd-gear, at least) with David's reading. Jaime's new schedule has allowed us more breathing room for this kind of structure. Additionally, David is developing a growing awareness of reading and the benefit to him.

We had our biggest break-through last week when he finally got the idea of blending sounds together rather than pronouncing them separately like syllables. That seemed to happen overnight. One day he is saying "cuh-aaa-tuh" and the next day "cat." Additionally, I began using techniques for teaching that I learned when helping teach a learning-disabled child. It is a system that curbs the amount of frustration that comes with trying to answer a question he doesn't fully understand the answer to, while still giving him incentive to figure it out on his own, while not taxing his attention span.

Lord have mercy, he is squirmy. Every ten seconds I am asking him to put his bottom on his chair and his feet in front of him. I am the same way still.

So, now his primary barrier to reading is his own willingness. It is something else that mom and dad (especially dad) want him to do so, even though he wants to learn to read, it is sometimes more important to test the limits of his own will by refusing to cooperate. I am being as dexterous as I can be here. I really do not want reading to become a power struggle. So far so good though. I generally only have to ask him twice to compare the understanding of evil and human nature as depicted in "Les Miserables" and "Crime and Punishment." When he gets it right, he gets a sticker.

Later squirmy fans.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Friday, February 06, 2009

Sick Simon

Simon has been feverish and vomiting for 24 hours now.  He is not doing as poorly as we have seen in the past, but he feels pretty miserable.  Breaks my heart to see him this way.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

"Best Buddy" Episode II

We filmed this at the end of the day so David was getting kind of worn out (hard to believe, I know). He had been singing these all day. So they aren't quite as imaginative as they had been earlier in the day. Nevertheless I think they still reflect the bold creative genius of the thrash-toddler-mosh-haze genre.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Best Buddy, the video sensation that is sweeping blogs around this house

David told me on the way home from grandpa's that he would sing me his new song and I was intrigued. His mom reminded him at dinner. While I am always entertained by David's attempts to, um, entertain, nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. Over the next couple of days, I'm sharing a nugget of the improv rock poetry deliciousness with you.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cute cap

Jaime phoned me a photo of her latest hat. She didn't make for herself, but she sure looks cute in it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


So, we made pasta last week. Sometime during the summer, Grandma Suzie gave a real eye-TAL-yen pasta makin' contraption. This thing is so authentic, the directions are in seven languages and none of them are American. We had to use British directions.

Aunt Marla was in town, so we invited her and Aunt Skylar over and made a morning of it. Lots of fun. We took pictures and I made a set called "cooking" for this and future such endevors.

David takes his pasta very seriously.

Simon played quietly with the left over flour crumbs the entire time.

Yes, we bleached all the surfaces that the pasta touched

It is amazing how long your index finger gets when you set the press to "5"

1.5 hours later. Simon is still playing with the flour crumbs.

Friday, January 23, 2009

This is a test--Simon's water

I am testing a new add-on that would allow me to update more easily. 

Simon regularly wakes up in the middle of the night demanding a drink of water.  One night, however, I heard the pitter-patter of little feet and went to investigate.  He had gotten up, walked into the bathroom, climbed up in the toilet from which he can reach the sink, and pulled out his pacifier and set it on the toilet tank.  He didn't notice me standing in the door watching as he filled the cup with water, took a drink, dumped the rest of the water in the sink, put the bink back in his mouth and climbed down from the toilet.  He noticed me with a start as he walked back to his bed.  But he has never done that since, which I frankly would prefer.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Craft day, pipe cleaner finger puppets

Jaime and the boys made adorable finger puppets with pipe cleaners and felt. Here is a photo of Simon's dragon. Jaime wants me to be sure you know what a great job David did thoroughly cleaning the play area of the basement today. We'll be renting him out soon.

Simon's Dragon finger puppet

Sick Simon and growing David

We drove to Manhattan last night to see dad. Simon fell asleep on the way, but not the whole way. He woke up grumpy, complained of his tummy hurting and rested on his mom's shoulder the entire rest of the evening. He was a bit under the weather in the morning but seemed fine when I saw him in the evening.

I spoke with David on the phone this afternoon and marveled at how different he sounds. His inflection, the sound of his voice, and the things he talks about reflect a boy who is, for all intents and purposes, a five-year-old. He is already planning his fifth birthday party, which you are invited too.

Having hung the Simon-bait on the branch, David runs to his hiding place
to wait for the boogy man to fall for his trap.

Monday, January 12, 2009

On the couch, in the woods.

Last week, Jaime sheared the boys, dressed them up in flannel, and took their pictures.


Then on Saturday, I sat them down myself for a photoshoot.


On Sunday afternoon, the weather was perfect for a three-hour walk in the woods, with dad, and his camera: