Category Archives: Arts and crafts

October 29, 2014


MtWash_012 MtWash_054

Beth Katz from Mt. Washington Pottery invited me over for a studio visit a few weeks ago. She was giving a lesson to a few people on the potter’s wheel. Here’s the story on our site-

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August 5, 2013

We met Lois this year. Every day we set up our hammock in between two palm trees in front of her house that her husband Fred built many years ago. Lois is great, she is a photographer, has traveled around the world, collects shells, plays the ukulele and sings beautifully. Simon and Lois became great friends. He would ask us if it was okay to go to Lois’ to polish shells.

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June 3, 2011

A big thanks to all you boys and girls who brought their mommies and daddies to the Graco casting at Pier 59 Studios today and yesterday!

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While Twitter, Facebook and blogging have started and finished a revolution in Egypt in a matter of weeks, I’m sitting here in the brown chain in the living room armed with laptop and espresso trying to keep the powers that be at a status quo. Henry and Theo are upstairs in our bed looking at the new issue of GQ which features 25 of the “coolest” athletes of all time. Simon is working on valentines. In the background I hear the “sweet” improvisational soundings of Ollie on a homemade drum set while Jimi Hendrix flows through my mind. Shine on my sweet angel(s)…

My Funny Valentine

I haven’t been surfing in almost 2 weeks. Everyone except for Sam and I came down with the flu. It’s always hard to get away when the danger of barfing is lurking with one of our kids. The yard needs my attention. I know another weed abatement notice is working its way through city hall at this very minute.  Debbie spent 4 days sick as a dog in bed so needless to says things have been piling up around here. Everyone who had the flu and wore skinny jeans realize that they are not skinny jeans anymore.  I’ve been working non-stop on our website redesign. It was slated for a new Years launch, postponed to Ground Hogs Day, postponed to Valentine’s Day and finally I think we can get it done by President’s Day. I find myself pouring a drink in a glass and drinking from the bottle. My espresso intake won’t make my cardiologist happy but I swear I can stop anytime I want.

Doggy Pile

Last Thursday night was a small test of Henry and Theo’s will, fortitude and sense of experimentation. Actually it was a test of my will, fortitude and sense of experimentation. I don’t like to help too much (do) with our kids homework. Partly because I’ve already completed the 4th and 7th grade and I’m horrible at math, but mainly because it’s their homework not mine. Henry had an Age of Exploration flying machine project due and Theo had a 2 paragraph summary of the early years of Father Junipero Serra. It was 8:30 and both assignments were due the next morning.

Some Flying Machines

Henry was making a blimp. This assignment has been going on for weeks. There was research, a small written essay, a list of materials etc. which culminated in a Friday parade of flying machines being brought into his 7th grade class. Henry started the physical construction of his blimp 2 days before it was due. I think that was sort of a problem. He thought he was right on schedule.

Trial and Error

Theo and I took turns reading chapter 1 of, “Never Look Back- Father Serra’s Mission” around the kitchen table while Henry divided his time between the workshop and kitchen stinking up the entire house with spray paint and rubber cement. Whether it was the way the Serra story was written or the fumes from the rubber cement, Theo was having trouble with getting started on his essay. The story was a little confusing. It was written in flashback form starting with him departing for Alto California with a gimpy leg on a donkey in an attempt to start the 1st. California missions while reminiscing about his youth and hard work.

Forgive me Father..

Speaking of youth and hard work…Henry’s project wasn’t going too well. After struggling with gluing the stabilizers and gondola onto his roundish balloon shaped paper mache’ blimp I suggested he cut slits in the flying machine with a razor blade, insert the pieces that needed adhering and secure them with hot glue. Well, the second that sharp piece of metal pierced the blimp skin the biggest blimp catastrophe since the Hindenburg began in the workshop. Oh the disaster, oh the humanity…His blimp sort of deflated. “Daddy, look what you made me do!” Henry screams. He’s in tears. It’s about 10:00 and his project is a mess. I help him inflate the blimp/balloon with the round end of a shish kabob skewer and I get it looking reasonably repaired. Henry then says, “it’s never going to fly.” I say, “Henry, you said the project didn’t need to fly.” He says, “well, we need to drop it off a ladder and observe what it does.”  We both know what this is going to do.

Serra’s Journey

It’s getting late. Henry runs upstairs to talk to Debbie who is still feeling crappy with the flu and I’m reciting Junipero Serra’s donkey ride essay to Theo in 4th grade lingo. He’s not getting it. I resort to a bubble graph teaching technique and he stats to understand the time lines and important people, places, dates and events. Henry comes downstairs and calmly says he’s going to start over. I suggest he make an extra paper mache’ blimp just in case and he agrees. At 11:00 he’s outside with a hair dryer trying to dry his blimps with no luck. “It’s just making the paste melt.  It’s not drying,” he says. I tell him to go to sleep and get up early to finish off the project.  So, at 3:00am we hear his alarm go off and he trudges downstairs. At 4:30 we hear him screaming, “I cut myself!” I go downstairs. Every light in the house is on. It really stinks of paint and glue and hard work. He’s got an all night AM sports talk show on the radio. The cut isn’t too bad. As I wash and apply pressure to it,  I ask Henry how it’s going. He says it’s going pretty good as I put on a couple of band aids. At 5:30 Henry wakes me up because he’s run out of spray paint. I tell him where there is another can an 10 minutes later he comes up and says, “It just deflated again.

Sam sacked out on the couch

Both Debbie and I tell him to bring everything you have to school and during your oral presentation just tell everyone the truth. I tell him that anyone who has ever created ANYTHING has experienced failure.  Sam, who has been sleeping on the couch for the past couple of weeks so as not to be contaminated by everyone in our family who has been sick has slept through all of this. It’s time to get up and go to school. Time to make breakfasts, lunches and put band aids where a band-aids are needed. Oh, and by the way, check out those Minka Kelly pictures in GQ. Va Va Va Voom.

Ollie, ready for his day

Band Aid and Spray Paint

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December 18, 2010

There’s no stopping it. The Christmas books have been taken out of the upstairs closet. Apparently The Grinch couldn’t stop it, the 80 degree temperatures of last week couldn’t thwart it. So, we just let it happen. With the coming of December 1st. the Advent calendar is brought up from the basement, the floodgates are slowly opened and the holidays begin.

Advent Day#1

Everyday Debbie puts a different treat into the tiny little holes in the wooden advent calendar I made while listening to the 2000 election results on the radio in my workshop. Since the holes are so small the advent experience has morphed into clues being placed into the holes which leads our boys on a mad search around the house reminiscent of an angry mob storming Frankensteins castle.

A Hole in One

The Search Begins

Sometimes (almost ecery day) we get a up a little bit on the late side so the Advent experience sometimes waits till after the boys get home from school.


Ollie Looking Ahead

A weekend Advent hunt turned up a gingerbread house kit. They went right to work consuming rather than constructing the stale panels, icing and candy.

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November 4, 2010

Jeeez, what a week. First the Giants win the World Series and then the republicans take the House. I only hate the Giants because I’m a Dodger fan. As much as I wanted to see the Giants hearts broken with a walk off homer in the 9th of Game 7, they actually have a great bunch of guys and I tip my hat to them. Election day is a little harder to swallow. At least we Californians got Jerry Brown for governor again. That’s a good thing, right? Oh well, Halloween came and went. None of the boys wanted to make their costumes this year. We bought Theo his Wolf man mask and Henry his rainbow afro wig. At this point we have a stock pile of get-ups in a box and the rest just sorted through it and “dressed up.”

Our Boys



The first treat of the evening was given to the boys by the firemen who were out in front giving first aid to a man who fell asleep in his car at a red light in front of our house. He had 18 beers in the back seat and one in the cup holder. He didn’t actually need first aid. He just needed to be woken up. The police arrived after few minutes and really woke him up with a sobriety test which he naturally failed.


Bruce came over on his way to dinner and to see the boys costumes and left with Sam who I guess is getting too old for trick or treating.With no costume anxieties or meltdowns we drove over to Dean and Catriona’s house to have dinner and go trick or treating.


In case you can not guess what their costumes are, I’ll tell you . Theo was The Wolf Man, Simon and Ollie were a vampire skeleton blend, Sam was a guy with a plastic nose, glasses, eyebrows and a silly hat and Henry was a U.C.L.A fan. Without the wig, Henry’s costume resembles his everyday attire.


Fion and Mari were putting final touches on their costumes as we arrived as sat down for a yummy dinner of squash soup, sausages and baked potatoes.


Soup's On

It was a relatively quiet evening as Dean and I escorted our ensemble around the neighborhood while Debbie and Catriona stayed back at the house to dole out candy to the trick or treaters.

Our Ensemble

Henry took off during the journey to rendezvous with some friends a few blocks away and I sort of lost most of the kids (except for Simon) when Dean stopped in for a beer at another friends house. It was actually nice strolling down the streets with my little vampire skeleton as he walked up to each house and said, “trick or treat” and “thank you” as he walked back to me waiting on the sidewalk.

Simon Solo

Simon at the Lutheran Church

Halloween has changed since I was a kid. I don’t remember my parents ever chaperoning my brother, my friends and I around the streets of Ft. Lauderdale. There’s a cautious fear in the air. I think every parent nowadays has it. It’s hard to describe and even harder to write or talk about. The fear is unlike the fear of apples loaded up with razor blades or candy laced with LSD. This fear doesn’t go away after Halloween is over. The kids seem to be having a fun time though. That’s all that matters. We all somehow find each other and make our way back to Dean and Catriona’s house bags heavy with candy. Here we regroup and go over ‘the take.” The kids have done good as they go over their candy. They all fight over the Hot Tamales and everyone laughs when Henry finds a pack of raisins in his candy bag.

The Loot

Someone finds a quarter in their candy bag and Debbie starts to tell everyone that her mom made her Trick or Treat for UNICEF when she was a kid and I start to tell the kids about about how we used to go “egging” on Halloween night.

My Little UNICEF girl

Ollie sorting his take

We have this thing called The Switch Witch. Basically it’s where the kids trade in all their crappy candy for a more sensible gift like a book. I can’t believe our kids fall for this every year!

Portrait of Theo with Nerds
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December 17, 2009
The Window Workers

The Window Workers

Day #7 in the Advent Calender brought the boys some holiday stencils and paints to decorate the sun porch windows. They went right to work on this cold wet December day. Only mild grumbling ensued when the color black (which was not included originally as one of the colors) was deemed an absolute essential for snowman top hats, buttons, eyes and machine guns. This turned out to be a great activity which challenged their creative powers along with their spelling skills. HO HO HO.

I was fighting a cold, trying to get ready for a trip to Georgia and cut and drill as many wooden candle bases for the Ocean Charter School Winter fair as I could. I’ve been doing this for years and am thankful for still having 10 fingers and no gaping head wounds.

Production Line

Our friend Teresita came over to knit and make paper window stars with the boys. She teaches handwork at the Pasadena Walfdorf School and always has a way of taming the hearts and souls of our beasts. It’s always great to see her and a special treat on a cold wet day.

Ollie it's way warm inside

Hot chocolate in hands and chicken soup in bellies, the boys continued their crafting through the entire day and into the night.

Theo on tipped toes

Everyday one of the boys asks how many days it is till Christmas and I answer, “It’s practically here,” in reference to Dr. Suess’, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Yeah, I know using a kids book/ TV show as a way to feel kind of takes all the Waldorfy spirit out of the holidays but, I was raised on Dr. Seuss, Charlie Brown, Hot Wheels and Major Matt Mason. And, like Charlie Brown, I think we are all walking around in our usual state of mild depression, searching for the meaning of something. Something that’s practically here and yet here all the time.

Home for the Holidays

The Shadow of a Star

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November 4, 2009




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November 2, 2009

A Gathering on the Steps

It’s time to put the last minute details on the Halloween costumes. Ollie and Simon are set since they wore their costumes to school on Friday. Actually, Ollie has been sleeping in his skeleton outfit for the past 2 days. Houston we have a problem. It seems Theo can’t get out of his robot outfit once he is in it and his arms are too constricting and the meltdown is beginning.


Danger! Danger!

A few cuts here and there and a shortening of the limbs seems to solve the robot problems. It doesn’t matter much since I end up carrying most of their costumes while Trick or Treating anyways. The second problem is that Sam’s Larry from the Three Stooges mask doesn’t really look like Larry from the Three Stooges. No worries, he ends up wearing the old standby- the chicken mask. You can’t go wrong with the chicken.


Henry’s is going as The Joker. I’ve sort of convinced him to opt for the Heath Ledger Joker instead of the Cesar Romero or Jack Nicholson Jokers- A lot easier on the make- up artist- me. As I’m spray painting his hair Ollie and Theo want their hair painted too. We discover that Ollie would make a perfect Riddler- Next Year.

This year our friends dean and Catriona has invited us over for dinner and trick or treating. Dean made a cool haunted house of sorts in in garage and Catriona has cooked up a tasting test for our food critic Sam. I think she is a bit tired of his claims of poo- pooing organic ketchup, claiming to be able to tell the difference between various waters and distinguishing the difference between various hams.


The blindfold please

To everyone’s surprise, Sam get 100% on the water test and ketchup portions of the taste test but doesn’t come through with the difference between Serrano ham and prosciutto. Oh well, I’m proud of him anyways. Please visit his food blog What Sam Eats for further culinary critiques.


The Water Test


Big Witch, Little Witch

After a fine dinner of soup and sausages, the men folk take the costumed kinders around the neighborhood while the witches dole out tasty treats to trick or treaters.


I dig the flip- flops Joker

Release the ghoulsWell it’s pretty mellow around 14th street this year. Mellower still at the Lutheran Church whose parking lot Halloween festivities are  set up in the back of their cars and instead of candy are giving out clay paper weights and raisins.


Trick or Treat

Luckily, Dean and I were able to get World Series updates from some of the houses we visited while trick or treating. There’s something unnatural about playing baseball on Halloween.


A good nights work

We have this thing called The Switch Witch. Basically it’s where the kids trade in all their crappy candy for a more sensible gift like a book. I can’t believe our kids fall for this every year! I mean really, I guess our kids aren’t growing up like us watching Let’s Make A Deal. You’ve already won the washer/ dryer how would you like to trade it for whatever is behind door #2. Usually there’s a donkey behind door #2. Geez, Do you think the Switch Witch is a Lutheran?

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October 26, 2009
My Pumpkin

My Pumpkin

With ocean water temperatures hovering around 70 degrees, roses still in full bloom and baby leopard sharks circling the line up at Bay Street, we are fully emerged into the HOLIDAYS! Yes, the holidays, less daylight, flu strains swirling, projectile nose blowing and the likes. It seems like yesterday I was in a hammock under a palm tree on the beach on Kauai.

Countdown to Theo's Birthday!

Countdown to Theo's Birthday!

You can tell by Countdown to Theo’s Birthday Calender that the big day is the day after tomorrow! I honestly couldn’t tell you if he’s turning 8 or 9 years old. Decorations are slow to get started this year. Halloween costumes are still in the preliminary stages ie. silver spray painted robot limbs on the basketball court,  black leggings unsuccessfully painted with glow in the dark paint scattered around the house (if you squint it looks kinda like a x-ray).

There's something vaguely EC Comics going on here

There's something vaguely EC Comics going on here

I’ve always enjoyed pumpkin carving, especially with the kids. I like to free hand the circular lid and encourage the scooping out of the seeds with ones hands. It reminds me of a game I had when I was a kid called Feeley- Meeley where you drew a card and had to find the object on the card inside a box.

Seeds and inards

Seeds and innards

Dried pumpkin seeds seasoned with sea salt and tamari is always a big hit around here. I understand it’s also a natural remedy for pin worm.

Black Pasta with Orange Saace

Black Pasta with Orange Sauce

I attempted to concoct a semi spooky meal Saturday night. Black pasta with orange sauce. The meal was met with initial enthusiasm but the novelty quickly wore off. I could tell Sam was already thinking up negatives reviews for his food blog. Towards the end of Theo’s second giant helping I revealed to everyone the secret ingredient in the pasta was squid ink. He nearly puked. I should have drizzled Vampire Blood around the edges like those fancy Wolfgang Puck restaurants in the 1980’s, put a fake eye ball on top of the pasta, or sprinkled bonita flakes over the top right before serving. Needless to say we have leftovers.

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