Here are gathered tidbits of family news and recent changes to the Krutulis Family website.
Yesterday's chilly breeze from the north followed several days of uncomfortably hot, humid south wind. Today, a heavy east wind is raising whitecaps on the lake. Practically perfect in every way, considering big changes are afoot at Bug's Bog.
Anastasia's destiny as a librarian is apparently to help manage big moves, while making do in odd temporary library locations. The new West Lafayette Public Library is opening, and now it is time to return her attention to Kira, Max, Emma, and Henry.
Joe's two years as a Radical Dad have been incomparable; however, he must now return, much wiser and much wealthier, to programming. He's tickled by a new opportunity to consult for the publishing industry with old friends.
Six years ago Kira, Max, and pregnant Anastasia made the move from Michigan to Maryland so that Joe could do consulting for the publishing industry. The opportunity evaporated in six short months, but Artesia Technologies seemed to rise from the ashes. Unfortunately, bubble-think caused some to lose sight of the universal imperative to produce more than consumed, and an unfathomable opportunity was squandered while gaming for easy money. Now the only valuable remnants of Artesia (which was recently slurped up by a bottom feeder) are the good friends made.
We had several intense electrical storms last week. On Friday night, Kira and Joe watched a storm with very little rain and wind but an almost continuous display of lightning. The roar from one strike startled Anastasia awake. Saturday morning we discovered that two of our cottonwood trees had been struck. One of our largest trees has three large splits running down the bottom 15 feet of the trunk. Shards of the bark are scattered in a semi-circle extending forty feet from the tree. We figure the other tree was struck last Tuesday night when we heard a teeth rattling crack of thunder that left our ears numbed.
In the spirit of life in the Hundred Acre Wood, Joe and the kids recently made a rescue. Our southern neighbors' nearly grown labrador puppy had worked its way into a sixty foot drain pipe under our northern neighbors' driveway. The dog had squeezed its way through the pipe to other end which narrowed to a hole the size of its nose. When we arrived, the pup was as stuck as Winnie the Pooh in Rabbit's Hole. Only a little black nose poked out, twitching pathetically. Whether the dog could not back up once it had started in, or it had been chasing some small animal, or whether the much smarter Wallis the Dog had tricked the bothersome dim-witted puppy into its predicament, will remain a mystery. What is known, however, is that liberating the foolish victim required lying on our stomachs in mud and thorns, reaching into the pipe, and patiently digging dirt out of the clogged end with our hands and a garden trowel. Cousin Rachel has christened the puppy "Gopher."
The PR machine at the West Lafayette Public Library was in high gear on Tuesday, directing the very successful Community Book Brigade. It was great fun and a productive way to move books. Anastasia, Kira, Max, and Emma all appeared in several newscasts and newspapers. Of course, Emma was adorable passing books in her Daisy uniform, and the TV cameraman obliged with plenty of camera time.
Yesterday one volunteer Mom who had brought her children to the brigade expressed her disappointment in the TV coverage: "My kids were cuter than those kids on TV!" "Hey, those were my kids on TV!" countered Anastasia. The other Mom laughed, "Having the girls wear their Girl Scout uniforms was brilliant!" Anastasia was able to mollify her with a wonderful picture of her children in the Purdue Exponent and a CD of digital photos from the event.
How many dishes do six people dirty in fourteen months? Whatever the number, we've done them all by hand. Washing dishes is good thinking time, and the view from the sink is awesome, but spending two or more hours each day in the dish soap starts to hurt after awhile.
Now we have a newfangled automatic dishwasher! The installation was horrible, taking two and a half days, consuming more than 100 miles driving back and forth to the hardware store, requiring a new copper water line, and causing much too much swearing. (The swearing was actually a clever tactic to scare away the gigantic, vicious, swamp spiders congregating for ritualistic sacrifices in the crawl space.) These exertions should save about an hour a day, so the break-even point on labor is in just about a month.
We were recently chided for unreliability by those expecting more regular family news. Perhaps we should allocate some of the time-profits from the dishwasher to updating Bug's Log more frequently?
Another singing gem from Henry: while sitting on Uncle JonEE's lap chatting about life and quoting Homer Simpson, he started singing the lyrics of fellow Hoosier John Mellencamp: "I need a lover that won't drive me crazy..."
We should mention that around our house, Joe's brother Jon is "Uncle Jonny" and is spelled "JonEE" because he is an electrical engineer. In addition to playing with electrons, Uncle JonEE writes obsessively and compulsively. See #63 on Joe's list of Books Worth Reading. Nice work, Uncle JonEE! Other notable talents include performing bizarre flips and twists off the diving board and hiking outrageous distances in the mountains without stopping to rest. Ever. He started the extreme hiking thing soon after reading Nietzsche and picking up the notion "that which does not kill us, makes us stronger." He failed to understand that that which does not kill him might very well kill his older brother.
Emma Krutulis is the 2004 Crony Queen! Saturday on the stage of the Foellinger Theater in Fort Wayne, IN she was crowned as part of an annual event hosted by her creative Cousin Sam. The Cronies are an expanding group of friends and family united by Sam's vision, charisma, and video productions. "Crony" is sometimes used in a pejorative sense for the member of a cabal practicing favoritism and hoarding valuables or influence. The Fort Wayne Cronies hoard fun and friendship, an idea as striking as the videos they produce.
A singing gem from Henry: "I've been working on the railroad . . . on the discount day!"
Kira and Sonnet won Grand Champion in Showmanship in this year's Tippecanoe County Fair. Sonnet did very little, which is admittedly her specialty, but her master had to demonstrate superior knowledge of arcane details of cat care by competing with fellow cat owners in an oral test. Kira also received a first place for her informational poster on "Cat Sense" and a blue ribbon for her drawing of a butterfly. Congratulations, Kira!
The floodwaters didn't wash us away, and we're all doing just fine. We've been on the move, visiting family and packing in the summer fun.
Joe and Max had a great time on Max's Ten-Year-Trip. Max chose the destination and selected and prioritized each activity on the list:
A gem from Henry: "Mom, when I grow up and become a husband, I'm going to name my wife 'Anastasia.'"
Flood! A series of intense thunderstorms dumped 10 inches of rain on Bug's Bog in 48 hours. The run-off drained so quickly it created a three or four mile per hour current in the lake itself. Enough rain fell that the creek which normally drains the lake was flowing backward into the lake! We're hoping the water level has crested. We've lost 15 tomato plants in the south garden, and don't want to see any more damage. We did wade into the water, dig out the submerged plants, and move them to higher ground. We'll have to see whether they will survive.
But our own garden is a plaything. What had been a fantastic year so far for the farmers in the area has turned disastrous.
A gem from Henry:
Dad: Henry, did you stick your tongue out at Emma?
Henry: No, Sir.
Kira: Henry, I saw you.
Henry: But...it came out all by itself!
And a gem from Emma: "Look, I wrote my name in curse-word!"
It was a very busy weekend catching up in the garden. Counting volunteers, Anastasia is now tending 35 tomato plants. Joe is getting desperate over the shortage of basil and intends to see to it that this situation never again arises.
After seeing the Moscow State Circus, Henry declared that his favorite part was "The man with the pony tail who was cleaning up all the messes."
Last night Kira and Max earned their purple belts in Taekwondo. They were awesome, as always.
This afternoon Kira and Max cruised the lake in their kayaks, while a bald eagle soared overhead.
After a brutal day of packing up a library and teaching quilting, Anastasia returned home late this evening to find a delicious treat waiting for her. Jack had brought us our first watermelon of the summer. Watermelons hold magical power over Anastasia. The rest of the family is careful not to be caught between her knife and her watermelon.
We have very special Romanian friends, Cristina and Radu, who recently purchased their first house. We suppose this means they're officially living the American dream! We were invited over today to meet Cristina's parents, who are visiting from Romania. We watched a prairie storm (the highlight of which was a lighting strike in the back yard) and poured over maps of Romania and the United States. Anastasia was able to speak the universal language of sock-knitting with Cristina's Mom. Cristina's Turkish Coffee and Creme Brulee were scrumptious.
Today was Emma's stage debut. It was a spectacular afternoon at Purdue's Elliot Hall of Music. The entire show was very well choreographed, staged, and performed. From modern ballet, to jazz, to tap, to avant-garde, the dancers were amazing. Of course, from our unbiased perspective as parents, Miss Julie's 4, 5, and 6 year old tappers stole the show with their rendition of The Codfish Ball. Congratulations, Emma, and thank you to all the dancers for a wonderful, memorable time.
Maiden Voyages: Kira and Max tried their new kayaks for the first time this evening. As expected, they were delighted to have their own personal water craft. Kira christened her boat "Dragonfly" and Max chose the name "Sea Otter." They're already planning tomorrow morning's expedition to Heron Island.
A new gem from Henry, who was reflecting late at night on The Simpsons episode Mr. Plow: "If I were Barney, I wouldn't have stolen Homer's plow idea, because we were friends."
Congratulations Mrs. Schmenkman! I hope you've taken Gayle's chocolate along to Petosky to help celebrate--or at least some Trader Joe's peanut butter cups. Applique away! See you June 5. Love, Mrs. I-Wish-Pete's-Bar-Still-Had-Beer Schmenkman.
Anastasia loves her honey. And she loves what is left of her sixty pounds of Purdue honey as well. She loves it so much, the bucket is a permanent fixture in our kitchen. This works out just fine, however, since the bucket doubles nicely as the time-out spot: "Go sit on the honey pot right now." "No, Dad, please not the honey pot!"
When living more than two miles from the nearest paved road, a concrete driveway is an important playground: a place for bikes, scooters, rollerblades, and basketball (yes, we fly the state flag of Indiana: a basketball hoop). Presently our driveway is an impressive gallery of artwork.
Grandma and Pop-Pop, the grandchildren are making very good use of the ten pounds of sidewalk chalk you sent. Thank you!
Bluebirds! We finally have a pair of nesting bluebirds in the box built for Kira by Favorite Uncle Mark. The bluebirds have gotten stiff competition from the sparrows all spring, but this pair has managed to claim the box next to the south garden.
Yesterday was a one-day weekend for us. Usually Anastasia has Sundays and Mondays off, but today and the rest of the week she's in working long hours to clear "Old Pete's Bar," the temporary location for the library during construction, for demolition.
Joe, having been in a previous life an egregious offender at traveling, working long hours, and working through weekends, is getting another mini-lesson in what all that lost family time really meant. We imperil our own happiness whenever we forget that the primary constraint on life is time.
Garage Saling by Proxy & Budget Boating: For nearly 18 months we've resisted the urge to spend any savings on a boat. Last year, we borrowed a canoe for the summer. This year our good friend Don-of-the-Endlessly-Amazing-Deals purchased on our behalf two inflatable kayaks, an inflatable canoe, paddles, a nice life vest, and an air pump, all for the outstanding price of $45! This is a fantastic solution to last year's problem of more paddlers than paddlables. Add to this the sailboat that Pop-Pop has begun restoring, and we're nearly set to open our own marina at Bug's Bog.
All work is an act of philosophy. And when men will learn to consider productive work--and that which is its source--as the standard of their moral values, they will reach that state of perfection which is the birthright they lost. --Hugh Akston
And now it is time for Joe to go clean the bathrooms.
Added two new pictures to Anastasia's kitchen page.
The tomatoes (28 plants), peppers (16 plants), beans, cucumbers, and zucchini are in. Kira worked hard all day preparing even more room in the south garden.
Anastasia celebrated the spring planting by continuing Favorite Aunt Betty's (aka FAB) tradition of running naked through the rain. Such are the liberties available to residents of the country. If this revelry is incongruous with your preconceptions of the neighborhood reference librarian, then you should adjust your thinking. Had we a record of Kira's look of shock and horror at finding her mother in a prelapsarian state of undress, the expression would testify to the veracity of this account.
Agnes, our 8 year old cat, has nearly recovered from a stroke. When she stopped eating a few weeks ago, we suspected she was having difficulties with losing dominance to the younger and now larger (fatter) Sonnet. But when Agnes began to tilt and hold her head cocked to one side, it became obvious she was having a serious neurological problem. The vet administered two cortisone shots but warned us that she probably wouldn't make it. Unexpectedly, he started seeing improvement within a day!
Agnes is a bit more timid, is still tentative while jumping, and is now even more prone to being caught underfoot than before, but we're all grateful to have our neurotic friend still with us.
Kira, Max, and Emma have formed a grass-blade jazz band called "The Monocotyledons." They're definitely home-schooled country kids.
The beets, carrots, turnips, and lettuces are in the ground. There have been rumors of morels, but Anastasia has yet to return from a walk bearing anything yummy.
The warm, windy weather makes us wish that Uncle Jay and his sailboat were closer than they are.
A gem from Henry, in his attempt to express surprise and feign outrage: "What the . . . ever!"
Tonight was "Stump The Librarian" at the Tippecanoe County Library. Anastasia rocked! It's a good thing, since she was the only representative from the west side of the Wabash. The library brings in professional hecklers from a local improv troupe to harass the librarians while they try to answer questions from the audience in under five minutes. The number one reference tool? Google.
We're all still in shock here. During last weekend's Spring Fest at Purdue, Anastasia joined us in feasting on chocolate covered crickets. Eating bugs tests assumptions about both the bugs and the people who eat them.
We found nothing offensive, but nothing special either. There were no signs of delectable treats hidden away in the world of insect cuisine. Although some people can brag about having overcome cultural prejudices, nobody brags about having eaten something delicious, and this is probably the main reason more people haven't taken to bug eating. In fact, bugs would probably get more attention as food if they had a nasty taste that lived up to the yucky idea of eating them.
Although still too young to have preconceptions about eating bugs, Henry was old enough to be delighted by holding giant cockroaches, millipedes, and stick bugs. Emma was more tentative, but quite willing to make herself the center of attention by letting a few creepy critters crawl up her arm.
An incident revealing the calculating mind of the five year old: Emma approached Anastasia in kid-with-a-question mode. "Mom, what hasn't been invented yet?" She immediately turned coy, raised her eyebrows, and grinned a big dimpled grin. She then proudly followed up with, "That's a hard question, isn't it?"
A Contrarian Easter Feast: Fresh rainbow trout baked in butter, garlic, and lemon; sweet potato patties; steamed asparagus; chick peas with olives and pickled mushrooms; Kira's famous brownies with chocolate ice cream. Henry ate chocolate eggs...and then dessert.
The Easter Bunny also brought a new format for the log. The stylesheet used here will replace the one currently used on the rest of the site, as soon as we make a few more tweaks and then test on IE and Netscape.
In the spirit of Uncle Mister Answer Guy, Anastasia made a midnight Easter Bunny raid on the neighbors. The Bunny had to keep in mind that tiny Ol' Ms. Jessie wields a 12 guage, and she's known to use it on rodents poking around the property.
Anastasia: After battling a nasty cold for several days, I was feeling well enough to get out and walk with Wallis this morning. The daffodils, irises, and surprise lilies peeking out from around the old farmsteads along my path reminded me that there are still many flowers to liberate. I noticed that during last year's "guerilla gardening" I had completely missed a bunch of irises being overtaken by an out-of-control bush, so I decided to reconnoiter for this year's raids. But I was distracted from my target by the local population, a group of very small birds flitting in and out of the brush. Just as I was feeling frustrated by not being able to get a decent look at the birds, one paused for a second on a branch just twelve inches from my nose! The sprightly guardians of irises were ruby-crowned kinglets.
So you speak to me of sadness and the coming of the winter...the dreams that have escaped you and the hope that you've forgotten.
It is here we must begin to seek the wisdom of the children and the graceful way of flowers in the wind....They're a promise of the future and a blessing for today.
And the song that I am singing is a prayer to non-believers. Come and stand beside us. We can find a better way.
The wisdom our children have taught is that the fundamental measure of value is time. Wealth is not about spending money and hoarding stuff. Rather, it is the happiness with which we manage to fill our 700,000 or so hours of life.
We saw our first bald eagle of the season this afternoon! Anastasia completed "Happily Ever After" over the weekend. It looks wonderful hanging at the bottom of our stairway. That makes number 66 on the Lifetime List of Quilts.
Max and Kira earned their green belts in Taekwondo this evening!
Anastasia thoroughly enjoyed teaching the first session of her class on the internet for the Wabash Area Lifetime Learning Association (WALLA). Today she also held the first meeting of the library's new Teen Advisory Board. And there are currently over 60 people signed up for the library quilt block contest! This is an unprecedented level of community involvement for a Krutulis.
Anastasia added a writeup about her work as a librarian.
As part of a math adventure, Kira and Max estimated that the beaver dam had added 137,000,000 extra gallons of water to the lake. Our friends in Santa Fe probably wouldn't mind having some of that water for themselves.
Joe, Kira, and Max finished reading Full Steam Ahead: The Race to Build a Transcontinental Railroad by Rhoda Blumberg. Blumberg does a nice job telling an engaging story (the only genuinely distracting flaw being the relativism in the chapter on "Wild Indians"). Kira and Max always looked forward to reading and discussions, and even talked of inventing their own trading card game based on the characters they were so fascinated by: Judah, Dodge, Casement, Durant, Huntington, Strobridge,...
Anastasia: Every morning, my buddy Wallis and I go for a long walk. It's interesting having a dog whose instinct it is to stay ahead of me and kick up game. It seems to be what she likes best in her short-legged little life. Most mornings there are pheasants to taunt her and startle me. This morning, she scared up the great horned owl which lives by the swamp. I was owlstruck watching it fly away.
Oh, yeah, yesterday I finished knitting my very first sock! I taught myself to do it by reading books from the library.
We've had enough of the rising lake. Joe hiked to the marsh "downstream" of the lake, located a beaver dam, and poked a hole in it -- hopefully big enough to keep the lake from getting any higher. The dam is over three feet high and explains the flood levels.
Last night, the reflected glow of the full moon rising turned the lake into a sheet of billowing silk.
Many five year old girls use a toy cash register to open a pretend supermaket, or clothing store, or McDonalds. Our Emma opens a tattoo parlor -- complete with catalog from which to choose your design.
Last night just before midnight, Anastasia finished Max's Technicolor Dream Quilt. It's number 64 on her Lifetime List of Quilts! The Krutulis concept of wealth subsumes thriving children, homemade bread, time for good books, and piles of quilts.
Happy Cookie Day! Today, like every Thursday, is Cookie Day at Bug's Bog. The kids revere Thursdays. Henry jumps up and down, throws his hands up, and yells, "Yeay! It's Cookie Day!" We usually bake Grandma's Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies. Sorry, the recipe is top secret -- but you're welcome to come visit and try a few. Just make sure you come on a Thursday. Or, if you're feeling lucky, you can try a Friday, but we can't make any promises.
A new gem from Henry:
Henry: I'm thirsty.
Dad: Here's a drink of water.
Henry [arms crossed and lip out]: I don't like having water.
Dad: That's all we can have to drink right now.
Henry: I don't like having Dads either!
Everyone knows Joe is moody, but perhaps he should worry when his three year old thinks there is more than one of him?
Joe updated his resume to include a description of his current position as a Radical Dad.
Anastasia has provided thirteen ways of looking at her kitchen.
We're excited to have three new bluebird houses from Favorite Uncle Mark (aka "FUM"). Now it's a race to position them properly in time for nesting! We should hurry, because Spring seems to be in a hurry. The red-winged blackbirds have already added their liquid trills and kon-ka-reeeee's to the ongoing cacophony of geese. After dark, the great horned owl living across the lake started who-who-whooing, and it sounded just like he was pleading with the geese to quiet down! We have learned that there is no such thing as the "quiet country." But these sounds have nothing in common with the capricious fits of the suburbs. They call to mind the insistent rhythm of the city.
Grandma Krutulis's 60th Birthday Party was a definite success. Pop-Pop managed to keep the secret and coordinate the arrival of all the grandchildren at just the time when Grandma and Pop-Pop were out on their walk...well, actually, everyone arrived in a perfectly orchestrated parade, balloons in hand, and started singing outside the front door at the top of their voices, expecting to find Grandma at home. Pop-Pop, Grandma and Jay heard all the noise while walking a quarter mile away. Meanwhile, back at the unattended house, everyone hid and waited to give Grandma a good old fashioned "Surprise!" when she returned. As it turned out the surprise worked embarrassingly well. Although Grandma had indeed heard the singing, she had mistaken it for howling dogs!
There are more early signs of Spring. This morning Anastasia saw four bluebirds scouting the area and also a pair of falcons in a courtship flight. The ice is breaking up quickly, and the geese and ducks seem pleased at now having somewhere to swim.
Today would have been John Henry Gensic's 79th birthday.
We're thawing, and the birds are on the move. There are a hundred or so Canada geese sliding around on the wet ice. They honk and complain and court all night. Does anyone else remember when Canada geese were nearly extinct? The gulls are here in force as well. They're feasting on dead fish trapped in the thawing ice. Anastasia thinks she heard the Sandhill Cranes overhead this past weekend.
Max finished the Saxon Math 76 textbook today! He completed all 138 lessons, working every single problem. After a few days on "math adventure," he'll start Algebra 1/2. Neither Joe nor Anastasia can recall ever actually finishing a math textbook while in school. Max and Kira knock them off, nail them to the wall of the barn, and go looking for more.
Before leaving Maryland we gave our 19 inch TV away to friends and kept a 13 inch that was easy to move. After using the little TV for more than a year, we finally decided to purchase a 27 inch flat screen, the largest, fanciest TV we've ever owned. Still no cable and no satellite--they're not worth the money. We watch movies and "Great Courses" lectures from the Teaching Company. It is a testament to the marvels of civilization that a family of six living so near the "poverty level" can afford to live as we are.
We returned home from our trip to Evansville to learn that Warren County has declared war on the beavers living here at Bug's Bog. Their dams are flooding farmland around the lake. We've lost a good hunk of our own back yard to a water level three feet above normal, which turns out to be a result of a new dam across the drainage creek in the southwest corner of the lake.
We traveled to Evansville, IN, where Kira and Max participated in their first Taekwondo tournament. Max won first place in forms. Kira won second place in forms and third place in sparring, and her opponents were all of the next higher rank!
As a marvelous anniversary gift, Joe and Anastasia spent an evening at the Story Inn, their first night alone together in 10 years.
Rewrote the stylesheet to make the formatting easier to adjust for differences between IE and Safari. Have not yet tested Netscape.
First round of formatting changes to make the site presentable under Windows in Internet Explorer. Thank goodness for CSS. OSX/Safari renders pages so much more elegantly. Added career information to Joe's page.
Rewrote and significantly expanded the page on learning at home.
Presented the web site to Anastasia as a Christmas present. She was tickled! The flu is tearing through the family, but we're still managing to enjoy our holiday.
Added a description of our grand adventure. If you're interested in understanding what we've been up to, then this is a good place to start.
Created the first Krutulis family webpage.