Category Archives: Family

About family matters

Home Videos

Cousin Jon sent me a link to David Pogue’s recent column on “Why We Make Home Videos.”

Pogue starts by complaining about how consumer video has gone through several recent media transitions, making it very hard to view older videos. He’s developed an almost industrial process for copying his Mini DV tapes to a hard drive “in the background” while doing other work. The Mini DV format is disappearing since modern recorders just use built in flash memory.

I remember moving a lot of Hi-8 and VHS video to Mini DV when it first came out. I transferred several Mini-DV tapes to DVD, but the task remains unfinished.

Personally I’m ambivalent about having a huge family video archive. It’s nice at times, but lots of it is arguably nonsense. Pogue addresses this question, coming down in favor of family video.


Dangerous Yardwork

I think chain saws gain mythic proportions in any safety-conscious household. My dad grew up on a rural farm in the early 1900s, and statistically, a farm is about the most dangerous “natural” workplace there is.

I don’t think we ever owned a chain saw. I remember my dad “borrowing” one, maybe once, or maybe it was a friend or neighbor using it. In any case, I have a stronger memory of Dad’s countless horror stories than I do of actually seeing the saw in use.

Anyway, it seemed fitting to buy Biscuit her very own chain saw for Mother’s Day several years back. An intentionally Amazonian gift. In practice, we rarely use it, but it’s there.

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Reading Alcott

My secret vice is that I read adolescent fiction on my smart phone. This awful habit started years ago. I have the collected works of Louisa May Alcott and Lucy Maud Montgomery and I pore over them when stuck in line or waiting for food at a cafe.

Now I find that Bear is likewise reading reading Eight Cousins on her smart phone.

This is particularly interesting because the womens’ roles in Alcott’s fiction tend to be super-traditional, while Bear’s politics are “progressive” to put it mildly. I generally agree with both Bear’s attitude on womens’ rights and her attitude towards Alcott: who cares if her female characters are so traditional!

I think we both appreciate Alcott’s underlying themes: the pursuit of moral ideals over superficial values (despite the difference in moral values) and the fundamental rights of women to self-determination (despite the different view of womens’ roles). Alcott portrays “strong minded” women as positive role models despite the negative reactions of conventionally attractive male characters.

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Arlene’s Sheet Apple Pie and other recipes

Arlene Schultz (may God rest her soul) took care of our kids when they were younger and was an honorary grandmother. She was smart and hard working, and she was the pillar of an extensive family of good-hearted and capable children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. We lost her to cancer several years ago, and her youngest daughter is in that fight today. Surprisingly, Arlene’s mother outlived her.

Anyway, Arlene liked to make a traditional apple pie on a cookie sheet. It had a crust and a bit of glazed frosting. We ended up with several other of Arlene’s recipes, which are posted here. I’m still looking for her Chicken Pie recipe, which we probably have around somewhere.

Continue reading Arlene’s Sheet Apple Pie and other recipes