2009 Mini Cooper S Convertible

Why do I torture myself. I’ve spent the evening watching YouTube videos of the 2009 Mini Coopers. Videos like this:

Boring? I think not. Expensive is more like it. Every time I let myself get into a Mini Cooper reverie, I come close to buying one. Make no mistake: my next car will be a Mini. But I’m going to be good, and either save until I can afford it, or wait until my Focus dies.

I just wish the Focus would dies soon. Like tomorrow.

(Note: I’ve never been a “car guy”. But I have a deep and driving passion for the Mini.)

More Winter

Are you tired of the winter photos yet? We Oregonians aren’t. Well, we’re tired of being house-bound, perhaps, but not tired of the snow. (According to today’s Oregonian, this is the most snow we’ve had in a winter since 1968-1969, which was just before I was born.)

First up, a comparison of a photo from Saturday night with a photo from Monday afternoon. The first photo was taken at about 7pm, in the dark. We had just a few inches of snow on the ground. The second photo was taken about 42 hours later, at 1pm in the afternoon. We had about fourteen inches of snow on the ground (with one-half inch of ice in the middle).

Snowy Birdbath Birdbath (with MORE Snow)

Winter doesn’t just bring snow — it brings icicles, too. Because our house exudes heat, the snow melts and icicles form on the gutters. (Unfortunately, our gutters have actually been damaged in spots.) Click through to see a larger version of this photo at Flickr, where you can see the giant icicle hanging over the dryer vent.

Icicles Hanging from Our Gutters

Winter also, apparently, brings Oliver, who still is not my cat.

Oliver is STILL Not My Cat

Actually, Maxwell likes to be outside in the the cold. He’s our snow bunny. He whines to be let outside the moment we get up, and then won’t come when called all day long. He only returns just before bed. And where does he go? He just sleeps in the bushes. Stupid cat.

Finally, here’s Kris’ first venture out into the white stuff. Mainly, she’s stayed inside, reading, drinking tea, and snuggling under blankets. But yesterday she ventured outside to experience winter:

Kris Throws a Snowball

Depending on which forecast you trust, we could see another 3-5 inches of snow tomorrow, as well as some freezing rain. Who knows? All I know is that Christmas has been delayed in the Roth family!

Snow Squirrel

Here’s our Walnut, one of our squirrels. He’s hungry, cold, and none too happy that I continue to bother him with the camera.

Squirrel 9096

Our current snowfall totals: six inches on the ground, half an inch of ice, and then another eight inches. The snow continues to fall. The forecasters expect it to stop soon, though, but I don’t know if I believe them. When I went to bed last night, they said nothing about snow of any kind today.

Winter Wonderland

It snowed all day yesterday. When we walked over to Paul and Amy Jo’s at about 10am, there was maybe an inch of accumulation, all powdery. The snowfall never got heavy, and the snowflakes never got big. But it snowed all day, so that by nightfall there were about six inches on the ground. But when I went outside to make some photographs, it was strange to see the snow so dry, like powdered sugar.

Rosings Park in Winter

This photo is similar to the publicity shot used to sell the house. Only that shot was taken in early May, and this is taken in mid-December after one of the heaviest snowfalls in years. Though it looks like late afternoon here, it’s actually dark. It’s just a 10-second exposure.

Kris’ parents are coming for a short visit next weekend. If they’d come this weekend, they could have enjoyed our six inches of snow:

Snowy Birdbath

Instead, they’ll get the cold dreary rain we Oregonians are accustomed to. Maybe I’ll warm them up by taking them to Moroccan food.

Finally, here’s a shot of Kris’ outdoor Christmas tree. She borrowed a bunch of outdoor lights from Tiffany to decorate the spruce by the road. It took her about an hour to string the lights, but the effort was worth it. Even I think it’s beautiful. 

Kris' Outdoor Christmas Tree

I like how, if you look closely, you can see that the gutter on the second story is bowing. Sigh. The projects on this house never cease. We were already planning to hire somebody to paint next summer. We might as well have the gutters replaced at the same time. They’ve been causing us woe, and we know it. If we save enough, we can get all of the work done at once.

Update: We have six inches of new snow. It’s resting on top of half an inch of ice and the six inches of old snow below it. That’s a foot of snow and half an inch of ice. Wow.

Lactose Intolerant: The Pros and Cons of Cereal Milk

Warning: This story is funny, but it’s a little gross. You’ve been warned.

Yesterday, Kris and I went to Big Lots! for the first time. A neighbor had told us they had cheap bird seed, and we wanted to stock up. While there, I picked up a box of “Tooty Fruities” breakfast cereal for seventy-five cents.

This morning we rose to find ourselves snowed in once again. So much for playing Santa today. While Kris and I discussed what we should do, I sat in my chair, eating a bowl of Tooty Fruities. As we talked, Simon came into the room, sniffing. His “cereal milk” radar had gone off. There are few things Simon likes more than cereal milk. And although I know it’s bad for him, I always let him indulge.

Today he was a little bossy. Usually he sits patiently, waiting for me to finish my cereal. Today he pushed his striped head into the bowl, lapping up the milk as I was finishing the last few spoonfuls. I set the bowl down so that he would have easier access.

“Simon loves that stuff,” I said, laughing. He was lapping it up.

But he wasn’t loving it five minutes later.

Kris was in the other room, just starting her yoga for the day. “Oh no!” she shouted. “Simon’s throwing up.”

We’re not unused to cat vomit in this house. We do have four cats, after all. And Toto is the queen of vomit. She goes through periods where she vomits every day for weeks. It’s exasperating. But at least when she vomits, it’s confined to one spot.

Simon never vomits. Until today.

Today he stood on Kris’ yoga mat and projectile vomited fur and cat food — and cereal milk. He sprayed it all over the room. Then, to make matters worse, he ran away. While continuing to vomit. Because he’d never vomited before, he didn’t know how to handle it. Most cats would just stand still. Not Simon. He ran from the yoga mat into the dining room, to the front door. He ran over to his chair and jumped up, continuing to vomit. He ran around the table, vomiting. He was like a firehose.

I did the only thing I could think of. I opened the door and called, “Simon!” He ran outside, vomiting. He’s probably standing out in the snow vomiting even as I type.

Poor guy.

And poor us. It took three towels to mop up. It wasn’t a pleasant task.

Now I face a tough decision for the future. I know that Simon loves cereal milk, but I’m not sure I should let him have it. He seems to be lactose intolerant!

Au Revoir, les Enfants

Kris and I have seen a lot of fine films together. Slowly over the course of our lives, we’ve been picking our way through various lists of great movies. (One of my goals is to see every film ever nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.)

On Wednesday, we watched Sunrise, a long film from 1927, the silent era. It was fascinating. Tonight we watched Au revoir, les enfants. It takes place at a boarding school in Nazi-occupied France. It doesn’t adhere to common tropes, though. It’s more about friendship and childhood than it is about the war.

I particularly liked the following scene, in which the main characters, Julien (a stand-in for writer/director Louis Malle, on whose life this is based) and Jean, play for the pretty young piano instructor.

“That was a great scene,” I said when it had finished. (I made the same remark about two other scenes later in the film.) Secretly I wondered if I could find it on YouTube. Turns out it’s the top search result.

Au Revoir, les Enfants is a great film. I’m glad we watched it. (Malle produced two other amazing films, as well: My Dinner with Andre and Vanya on 42nd Street.)

A Do-Nothing Day?

I’ve complained a lot lately about how busy I am. “I’m a workaholic,” I told Mac yesterday.

“No,” he said. “You’re a stressaholic.” Ouch.

I want to believe he’s wrong but, well, there’s evidence that he’s right. I can’t say no to anyone who wants my time. I take on far more than I can ever complete. It’s not good.

What I find enlightening, however, is how I’m reacting this morning. I’m sick. Yesterday afternoon and evening, I began to feel nauseated, and I developed a fever. The fever’s been running at 102 for the last 12 hours. I cannot sleep. I need to throw up, but I can’t let myself do it. (I hate throwing up.)

More importantly, it’s time to take a break. When I’m this sick, there’s just no way for me to be productive. And yet doing nothing doesn’t seem like an option. I feel like there are so many things on my list, and doing nothing leads me to fall further and further behind.

I stopped to think this morning: When was the last time I actually did nothing for a day? I can’t remember. I watched the first half of Aliens about a month ago, but felt guilty for not working so I stopped midway through. Other than that, I can’t remember the last time I read for pleasure, or watched television, or browsed my comics.

So today I’m going to try to do nothing. I’ll read some comics or watch a movie or, well, sleep. Sleep sounds good.

But right now, maybe I’ll try to go throw up.

Peanut Battle HD

Remember my photographs of the famous Rosings Park Peanut Battle? This is actually an ongoing war, one which has been waged almost daily for the past four years. Thanks to new technology, I’m pleased to be able to bring you close-up footage of the action:

I realize that some of you may find this video tedious. That’s okay. For me and Kris, this is nine minutes of heaven.


I’ve joined Vimeo, where the HD videos really show up in HD — or something close to it. Here’s the same film as above:

Also, for those of you who are curious, I filmed this with the Flip Mino HD, which is an iPod-sized hi-def video camera. It’s very light. All of this was filmed with the Mino HD, though not all at the same time. This is actually two different feedings, a couple of hours apart. For one, I set the camera about fifteen feet from the feeder. For the other, I set it inside the feeder, which the birds did not like. (The little birds wouldn’t even go in while the camera was there.)