Reub's journey

22 December 2016

Playing the elf

I love Christmas. I like the hubbub of it: cookies baking, the warm house aglow with lights, the fresh tree in the living room. I love the generous spirit which never lasts long enough.

I've been playing the elf, making things for 3 small grandsons. Here is a campfire created out of felt and paper for the oldest, who just turned five.

Detachable flames! Why not. And of course, marshmallows.

For the 2 1/2 year old:  fish, with metal rings and paperclips sewn into their mouths.

 Because if your only lure is a magnet, how else can you catch them?

A fish pond.

For the youngest: wee blueberry muffins to "bake" in his little kitchen.

 He needs ingredients. Here is some pasta and broccoli. Had to stitch the noodles together so they wouldn't end up all over the house.

The process is closely regarded.


Finally, a bunch of carrots, a few eggs, and a little shopping bag to keep things in. I might be done.

The making of all of this stuff has been great entertainment. Not sure how it will go over. "Wahooo I got some potatoes!!!" said no one ever. But it really doesn't matter because I've had my own fun with it. And that's good enough for me.

17 December 2016

A winter's gift

We don't get a lot of snow here in western Oregon, but when we do, it is usually a gift. Today, after a recent snow, John and I spent some time with friends on their property north of town. Much of it was about looking at tracks. Who had passed through in the last two days? Cougar and deer.

Bobcat and cougar, crossing the narrow plank bridge over a creek. Given a choice, cats of all sizes daintily avoid stepping in water, don't they?

More than one cougar had been poking around. One big kitty had 5 toes.

That's right: take care not to step on the ferns.


Cougar hunt deer, and the tracks mingle.

A mouse, wishing to avoid detection, tunnels beneath the snow's surface, then pops up for air.

A mouse above the snow: hopping south on the left, north on the right.  See the tail?

A bobcat, leaving a circle of snow all around her furry foot.

When did the bobcat pass through? There are crystals covering her print, telling us that it wasn't this morning.

At last we left the snowy, tangled woods,

stepped over the icy art on the path, and went into the cabin for soup and a warm fire. All of it a winter's gift.

19 October 2016

Complex world

Detail from 6th grade painting. My student, natch.
Today I read an article about how hard it is to be a seventh grade teacher. Specifically, how do you teach 12 year olds to make rational arguments in mock political debates conducted at school, in the current political climate? The kids interviewed in this article sounded so smart and reasonable. But sadly the first two debates could not even make the cut for what is permissible to be shown in a classroom and schools have to use the old Romney-Obama debates as examples.

I am skipping tonight's debate, even though it may be the best. At least I hope it is better than the others.

Instead I'm looking at photos of former middle-school student art work. Among other things, I used to teach calligraphy to 8th graders, and was always amazed by what they chose to quote in their projects. Is this a Green Day quote? I think so. Written in a tenuous beginner's hand it's a beautiful one for this rainy Oregon October.

It is a complex world facing our kids, but there is hope for them. When you look at what they can do, and what they have already said or produced, all is not lost.

 Despite the opposing forces out there, we will survive. And maybe, just maybe, things will improve. Let's fervently hope so.

10 October 2016

Curling towards the sun

John noticed it first.

 It was all by itself, so close to the path it was surprising that one of us (John, me, Ed and Reub) hadn't trampled it: Parosola plicatilis.

A perfectly formed, nearly transparent little mushroom containing a tablespoon or so of last night's rainwater.

Its life span is maybe 18 hours, tops.

After a few hours it begins to curl towards the sun.

Then briefly it turns in on itself like a flower closing for the night.

But it isn't just the night; it's the end.

The sun shines brightly.

By dusk few will notice this small thing, or know what a perfectly beautiful life it lived. Perhaps it is enough that just you and I have witnessed it.

25 September 2016

Austro Hungarian dogs

Dogs. Wherever I am they tend to pop up front and center.

They appear in odd places, and sometimes they're open to interpretation, like in this gargoyle from St. Stephen's cathedral in Vienna. Pretty sure that's a dog.

This is a dog park in Vienna. Dogs are like four leaf clovers; when you seek them out they disappear.

At the door of the dog park there was this sign, and I thought "Wow, the city put up a sign like that?" until I realized that a protester had cleverly pasted the right-sized sticker onto a poster reminding people to pick up after their pets.

Aren't these cool? Details on a piece of 400 year-old furniture in Hohenzollern castle above Salzburg.

Real-life dogs at a sidewalk cafe in Austria: three whippets and a beagle.

The Hungarians are proud of the number of breeds they have developed, but the only vizsla I saw was on this t-shirt (if it hadn't been labelled I wouldn't have recognized it because the vizslas I know don't look like that.)

An inexplicable piece of art in a Budapest subway station. It has shiny places on it where passers-by have stroked the dog's nose and ears, or shaken the man's hand.

I don't know who this fellow is, but he has a beautiful sight-hound and a nice hawk.

Budapest bloodhounds, pausing for a drink from the fountain they're standing on.

Did he ever imagine himself clad in a bright red shirt, being photographed trying to control six terriers in front of a bunch of garbage bags at the foot of a Franz Liszt bust? It was an impressive thing to watch.

18 September 2016

All kinds of signs

My camera and I arrived separately for a recent trip to Austria (thanks Lufthansa), so there are a few hundred less photos than there might normally be for a trip like that.  Still, it's fun to look through the pics.

 I love the signs above cafes and other businesses in Europe's historic districts. So classy.

Even McDonalds looks amazing.

I try to avoid American fast food while visiting other countries, but we almost made an exception for this one in Budapest. This was the first McD's east of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War and for awhile it was a symbol of protest against Communism. I like it for its stylized iron-curtainy lions.

Could cannabis in any way be construed as an energy drink? At first I thought Subway was selling it.

Umm, what was I saying about classiness? Not sure whether this cringe-worthy hot dog advertisement in Salzburg, Austria, was designed to attract or repel American tourists but I was simultaneously laughing and grossed-out.

 Political statements abound on posters and decals. This one says "Every human has a right to human rights." Obviously tensions have been running high with the influx of war refugees. Austria has taken on a large share of refugees in the past year, most of them being deported from neighboring Hungary.

 Graffiti is a form of protest: #refugeeswelcome

 "Why would you tell little kids to go back to a war?" Well, Hungary, why indeed?

Beware of storms and always keep your dogs on leashes
Now THAT is sound advice.