Monday, September 19, 2011

Pigs, Pumpkins & Photography (or) Preble Pork

This weekend was perfect for a Pork Festival. Gorgeous weather. Cool enough for a long sleeve t-shirt and warm enough to never fear a shiver. I love going to festivals and fairs whether they be small town or big city gatherings. Whether you know the area well is irrelevant; Everyone belongs at the fair.

I grew up on old MGM musicals. One of many random Huff family traditions is that my Grammalo (My father's mother- named Lois) LOVES to watch and re-watch the movie, State Fair. Her four children, on the other hand, detest the movie because of how many times they were forced to watch it in her household. I side with my Grammalo on the issue, and request the movie in spite of the hissing crowds. Fairs are simple and fun and pure American.

I walked with my camera in hand for 3 hours down dusty roads and stalls. It was fun to pretend to be a photographer. I'm starting to really yearn for a real camera.

My fair dates. Mar and Par Huff. Our lunch: Sugar Cream Pie and Porkchops.
How to find your lunch- find the red balloon.
Steam engine powered apple butter.
Pork Festival Montage.
Pointing piglets.
After the Pork Festival, we stopped a a couple local garden stores on the way home. I found this gorgeous orange scale. I wish I had a huge open home where I could have large pieces like this.

Weighing in.
Gourds and the mother of our Lord.
Fall orange, spring blue.
It's always sad when summer is ending. I love the way people are drawn out into community  with one another by warm weather. This fall and winter I will make a point of trying to coerce others into growing community with me in the cold. Perhaps a competitive snow tubing team? (Oooh, too soon to talk about snow. Eek.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

and now for: Something Completely Different

I've been getting caught up in a new "hobby" of sorts. There's not much to say about it, really. Just that it amuses me and sometimes others.

It all started with a crazy computer wallpaper made out of a funny picture of my pal Andrew.
From there it turned into thank you's for being references for job applications.

Which got more elaborate as time went by.
And then I couldn't stop.  
For encouragement.
For Halloween costume ideas.
For ridiculousness.
And sometimes even by request.

You might be interested to know that I did all of these on Word.  It is important that you note that I am not really good at this- that is half the charm of the final product, in my opinion. And, that I am unashamed about the dorkiness that this past time implies. You might ALSO be interested in the fact that I am willing to take orders, if you're so inclined. I get free reign on your mash-up, though.

How's this for some variety in blog posts?

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Huff Recommendation: Lark Rise to Candleford

The gist of this entry: Please watch Lark Rise to Candleford. It is so good. If you loved Anne of Green Gables, if you are a fan of Little Women or even Pride and Prejudice, you will adore this BBC series as much as I did. 

Often, a period piece that desires to be universal in time and applicability comes across forced and trite.  Drawing a line of similarity between past and present is harder than it seems. Consider the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. Sure, we love the romance, the costumes and, yes, what gal doesn’t long for her own Mr. Darcy? But, the lady viewer is left wanting more- not only because all she gets is one lousy kiss out of 5 hours- but there are so few similarities to be drawn between the marriage-eager plotline of the Austen classic with her own life. The average woman of today would not pin her hopes and success entirely outside her own volition.

Sometimes I am startled by how much we (meaning independent women like me) love Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth Bennet is hardly an independent woman. She is only slated thus because she is discriminating in her choice of men. And *GASP* she is unwed at 20! It seems that ladies would find a finer weepy girls’ night companion in Jo March or Anne Shirley. Those are independent women who find their mates and are forced- not by society- but by passion and true love to make room in their lives and hearts for them.
Love in Lark Rise is much like it is on PEI- except with more kissing

Lark Rise to Candleford fits into the timeless category of storytelling. It is the story of a English village (Lark Rise) and a nearby town (Candleford) and the struggle between tradition and progress, nature and industry. But it is not a diatribe of the producer nor a political venue. It is told through little moments in the villager and townspeople’s lives. These tales are populated by imperfect human characters discovering through failure, faith and patience that life is for loving others regardless of differences.
Some of the Lark Rise to Candleford Cast
The stories begin when a young writer, Laura Timmons, leaves her home in Lark Rise (at the insistence of her mother) to find independence in the town of Candleford. We follow her adventures in balancing allegiance to her family and her new employment and friendships at the Candleford Post Office. The post master, Dorcas Lane, (played coincidentally by Julia Sawalha - Lydia from P&P!) is  the "oracle" of the show. Many come to her from advice and she gives it lovingly, though not always well.

The writing for this show has a antiquity to it which could have rendered a barrier for audiences- perhaps like a poorly delivered Shakespearian play. But it doesn’t put off the viewer at all. It is accessible and charming.  The writing is soulful and alive, full of un-flowery truths that extend far beyond their “period piece” vehicle. Consider this excerpt from the introduction to the finale to the 4th and final season.
“It was said of Queenie Turrell that, as she grew older, she could see beyond the horizon. Change was coming to our world, whether it was welcome or not. Some of us might fight such upheaval and some -no matter how hard they might try- it would seem as though they could never change.”
Queenie and Twister
Laura’s narration usually acts as a scene-shifting device but also holds a prominent place as the "Aesop" of the Lark Rise tales. Many episodes end with a nugget of advice from and older Laura’s written reflections. This perspective is a lovely nod to Flora Thompson’s original text from which the stories have been adapted. Here are a couple of Laura’s final reflections from the 4th season.
“It is only by making mistakes and hurting one another that we learn the greatest of human joys: forgiving and being forgiven.”

“Reverend Martin made a point of always telling us that no man is too good for this world and neither is any man too damned for this world.”
My grandmother and parents love this show because it is full of beautiful, funny, entertaining, heartbreaking, true stories of family and faith. It is family friendly television that doesn’t have to spare artistry or quality of writing in order to maintain appropriateness.

I love it because it swallowed me whole. This morning, when I watched the last episode, I wept as though I had lost a friend. It’s that same sinking feeling I got when I finished reading that amazing book or when I waved goodbye to the friend I met at camp. I am relieved to know I can revisit Lark Rise to Candleford. I look forward to it. As of an hour ago- I’ve got the book on reserve at my public library.
(FYI- the whole series is on you tube in 10 minute increments. You have no excuse not to watch it.)

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Huff Family Toy Chest

Having the kids around means that the house turns into a war zone. Still- before the crazy ship lands, we clean the house from top to bottom. There's no real reason for the pre-clean. It's mostly illogical, but my dad (the science teacher) likes to say that it gives us a good way to measure the amount of mess the kids make. It creates the "control" -if you will- of cleanliness. Oh, Dad.

Since the kids are getting bigger (Isaac is 7?!) their interests are aging as well. That means that we've  unpacked some toys with higher age ranges. The eldest boys can now sit through a whole game of Life or Monopoly (though the money counting still takes some teamwork). And I drew R's and L's on their hands and feet so they could learn Twister (Aunt Sarah is the reigning Champ!). It's exciting to revisit these old games. A couple of the boxes that came out of retirement this past weekend I had totally forgotten about.
Did anyone else have these large plastic building toys? There was a set with a robot head as well, but my sister and I only had the basic kit. We made shopping carts and race cars. I think this toy may have spurred my love of tools and building. I tried to do a little internet research on the brand but we only had a tiny torn piece of the box left. I do know that they are made by Jura Castor, and I think they might be French. I wonder if they are still in business. I know 4 kiddos who would love a set of their own. (And I know one Aunt who would love for her nephews to stop breaking all of her childhood toys before she has a chance to have her (non-existant) kids play with them, too.)
Check out these two of my all time favorite (and then forgotten, evidently) toys from childhood. Rami and The Mosaic Machine both inventions of the Italian toy company Quercetti. They say they are good for ages 4-8, which seems like a peculiar age range. But I am here to say that they are STILL fun for me to play. So, perhaps it should read ages 4-27? Rami is a particularly interesting children's toy. It teaches the basics of binary to toddlers. It doesn't have the bells and whistles and lighted screens of today's toy makers, but it kept the 7 and 5 year old occupied for a good while. Quercetti is still in business and has some really cool toy designs. I guess Italians really know how to play.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Corndog Muffins on a Rainy Day

My sister and her 4 kiddos are in town this weekend. We've been playing hard, laughing lots and getting plenty of sun. (Until today- a very gray and rainy Sunday.)

On Saturday morning we visited the Wegyrzen Children's Discovery Garden. What a fantastic place! The kids had a blast getting wet and exploring and so did we! (Why were we the only grown-ups prepared in swimsuit garb? Whatever, we were also the coolest -literally- grownups there. ) The Metroparks around Dayton are really fantastic. I love living near the Germantown Metropark. Tons of trails and gorgeous vistas.

Today is the last full day of our long weekend visit. A rainy sunday is welcome when it's just adults, but with 4 children under 8, we've got to find dry inside things to do. Otherwise, we're in for tantrums.

If you want to have fun, start with the food. Who needs to visit the county fair when you can have Corndog Muffins? Easy peasy made up on the spot recipe:

1) layer of hot dog slices
2) spoonful of jiffy cornmuffin mix
3) layer of hot dog slices
4) cook as usual

The big bonus is that the hot dog layers make the mini muffin mix go a little further. I got a whole 12 muffin pan out of it rather than the normal 8. The kids gave them 2 thumbs up. Lily gave it a thumb in the muffin Little-Jack-Horner-style and pulled out a hot dog instead of a plum.

What's in store for the afternoon? Science experiments with magnets. Endless (card) games of war and crazy eights. And hopefully a rain walk. (Aunt Sarah desperately needs some exercise after a kid food lunch.)
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