Monday, October 31, 2005

When Pigs Fly

A snortingly funny moment, courtesy of danncer.

Halloween at the House of Fielding

[photo by AviatorDave]
Eerie glow
Eerie glow
[photo by AviatorDave]

We carved the pumpkins at the appropriate time -- the witching hour -- and David finished his in a fraction of the time it took me to do mine. You can see why. I don't know what I was thinking when I started carving; I had a loose plan for the eyes, but I was stuck on the nose and mouth. I took a marker and started something vaguely Maori-ish, then freestyled with the knife and ended with Easy Serrated Teeth in a Big Mouth Because I Was Tired. The appendage hanging down the middle started off as an uvula, looked more like an unmentionable, so I cut a couple of nostrils into it.

It was a perfect night for trick-or-treating -- barely a breeze, almost balmy. The plan was for me to wear David's pirate costume, but to make things easier I just threw on the leaf garlands from our wedding and turned us into trees. This didn't last long -- David didn't find the leaves comfortable, so he put on his baggy trousers (now baggier than ever!) and musket, wore his tam, then switched to his tri-corner hat.

I'm a fallen tree. If Hugh wasn't such a fraidy cat with kids, I'd have put him on my shoulder. Or put him in a bow tie, if I could. This is who came to our door:

1 SpongeBob Squarepants
1 witch
1 princess
1 hula girl
2 ghouls
1 Luke Skywalker
3 Darth Vaders (2 of them were the neighbour twins)
1 Harry Potter
1 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
1 monkey
1 Tin Man
1 mouse
1 fairy
1 tiger
1 Playboy Bunny*
1 accident victim
1 very cute pink sheep
1 mummy
1 cowboy

... and some we couldn't identify. David won the bet that the first child would be SpongeBob Squarepants. The Harry Potter kid wasn't so obvious to me, but his dad said the little guy's glasses kept fogging up, so he took them off.

* If you're old enough to be dressed like the Playboy Bunny, you're too old for trick-or-treating.

Haunted Halloween House

Meet Our Ghoulish Neighbours

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Meet Our Ghoulish Neighbours

I wasn't kidding when I said the neighbours took decorating to a whole new level.

There are people dressed up as horror movie characters (Freddie, Jason, et al) and lurking in the shadows of the alley, ready to pounce on the drive-by gawkers. I kept my distance on the far side of the wall, but somebody thought it would be hilarious to sic their Doberman on me through the car window, a la The Omen*, which you'll see three-quarters of the way through the video. I was too shocked to squeak any expletives.

What's even MORE scary than that is the sight of irresponsible parents taking their young children to view these ghastly scenes I'd rate PG-13, then have the gall to shout at their kids for crying! You can even hear a youngster wailing in the video, after the first transition. I was ready to bop this one father who chased after his sobbing daughter, no more than seven years old in my estimations, spooked and running away from the haunted house.

"It's FAKE!" he yelled at the top of his lungs, trying to corner her. If he wasn't in a sprint, I could've flung my bag filled with camera equipment and a small pumpkin (which I got for free there) at his empty head like an Olympic hammer toss and clocked him one.

People like that deserve a good old-fashioned GOURDING, if you ask me.

* The Omen is one of those films I saw early in life that scar(r)ed me for years, second only to The Exorcist, of course. I even made myself watch those films again as an adult to try and rid myself of their lasting effects, but they were just as frightening the second time around!! Like a masochist, I watched The Exorcist I, II, and III consecutively -- an all-night run at The Cameo, an indie filmhouse in Edinburgh. Nobody wanted to go to sleep after that!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

We Pay a Visit to Zero-Two-Papa

I made him wear a toque

Zero Two Papa
I had to pull over and take a photo
David's still working on his plane-buying saga, so I'll post about today. The weather was iffy, but I'd hoped for enough clear sky to make a trip out to Cherry Ridge Airport. David hadn't seen his plane for about five weeks and there was some maintenance to be done on the Tri-Pacer. Also, the temperature has dropped tremendously in the last few weeks and the hangar doors weren't fully shut. As always, photo ops and getting David outside were other motivations. Oh, and food... in the past few trips to the airport we'd missed opening hours at the airport café, and the food there is de-lish and cheap! The café owners are a kind and cheery lot, to boot.

On the way to Cherry Ridge we stopped by Ritter's Farm and ogled the autumn carnival set-up on the property, complete with pumpkin cannon, the Goat Hotel, miniature train, teepees filled with spookiness, and lots of shrieking children. We knew it was time to mosey when a goat tried to eat my scarf.

David was feeling alright during the half-hour or so drive, so I tried to whet his appetite by ordering food I thought he could handle. Well shiver me timbers, the guy ended up eating a WHOLE MEAL plus dessert! My theory of late is that asking David if he felt like eating, what he felt like eating, or ordering food for myself that might tempt him would glean entirely different results. Responses vary according to latest chemotherapy, painkillers, whether Penn State football is on, outside temperature, body temperature, fatigue, and the alignment of the Milky Way to the rest of the universe. In other words, what meal I can coax David to eat, or if he'll eat at all, is a total crapshoot. Today's a good day. Tomorrow... we'll try again.

Armed with a full belly and a toque*, David set about tinkering with Zero-Two-Papa, performing routine maintenance and readying it for the winter ahead. While he was running the engine to let the battery recharge, I wandered over to the field with abandoned cars to see if I could catch some good light on chrome. The maintenance finished and David tuckered out, we stored the Tri-Pacer and packed up for home again. On the drive back, we witnessed some of Pennsylvania's finest sunset and were happy to be outside to enjoy it.

* Canadianism: knitted winter hat. Original meaning is "a woman's small, brimless, close-fitting hat", a definition hijacked by the fictional Canadian characters Bob and Doug Mackenzie, of Strange Brew fame.

Friday, October 28, 2005

It's Pumpkin Carving Time

Well, HEY -- it's the 28th already, and David and I finally got around to choosing our pumpkins, three days before Halloween.

I liked the one with the dent in the middle -- was considering getting that one and making it old and toothless.

We bought the pumpkins due north at Roba's Family Farm, after David's appointment at the radiation clinic this morning where he got tattooed for next week's session with The Machine.

We were going to take Melissa there, but there just wasn't enough time during the wedding weekend to stop by. We'd like to take all the MJEs there, if we could! They'd have a ball!

More farm photos here.

I had to see the immigration lawyer this afternoon and David was exhausted, so the carving's been postponed for now.

If you haven't carved a pumpkin yet, have a go! (Thanks to Marivic for the link!)

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Shot with the Pentax K-1000 (film).

David first carved our initials into the giant magnolia tree beside the house back in April.

It was for a Flickr photo project called "Love Letters", and my idea was to illustrate 'puppy love'.

I don't know if the recent spate of weather-related disasters was the trigger, but last night I had this semi-conscious dream state feeling of being on a boat getting tossed around in a storm. It reminded me of a trip I took once from Stranraer, Scotland, to Larne (near Belfast), Northern Ireland.* The journey is less than two hours, but the Irish Sea is known for being temperamental and the cause of many a stagger to the loo by the seasick-prone.**

In this quasi-dream (I was too lucid for it to be a proper dream state), David and I were clinging to each other while wave after wave buffetted the side of the ship. David was nauseous, but more queasy than in agony, and I was ridden was anxiety. I tried to look away from the window, beat upon by grey sheets of rain and heavy winds, but there was no avoiding people's worried faces and sharing in the feeling we'd embarked on a hapless journey. What else can one do in a storm but ride it out?

It took me a long time to go to sleep.

* In those days, the routing was Stranraer to Larne, but according to, now one can only get to Belfast from Stranraer, and Larne departures arrive in Troon, Cairnryan, or Fleetwood.
** In those days, there were no cheap airlines such as Ryanair, who've since spared many people from having to take the ferry.

On Why Hugh Is a Housecat

you are getting sleepy... sleepy...

There's a reason why we keep Hugh indoors, and it's not just because he's declawed in the front. Can you see this cat surviving out in the "wild"???

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

AwfulSara's Print Drive

One of my favourite photographers on Flickr has recently been diagnosed with skin cancer and is facing a huge healthcare debt because she's just started freelancing.

This being the U.S., I am learning firsthand what it's like to be without socialised medicine and having to pay for doctors' expenses out-of-pocket. Heaven forbid you should ever lose your job, be between jobs, or for whatever reason aren't covered under a health care plan, because the costs can be astronomical and the health care providers -- as well as the individual -- are at the mercy of the insurance companies.

Today I received a refund cheque from MSP (Medical Services Plan) of BC for my monthly payment in September of $54. Yes, that's my premium, which went up from $36 a few years ago. The premium sat at $36 for a very long time. If you make $20k/yr or less, the premium is reduced, as mentioned by Toren here. But $54 is still a very small price to pay when faced with the alternative (U.S. health care model, in this case). There are indeed problems with socialised health care, but it's downright tragic that when you've decided to go independent the new threat is not just falling ill, but to be possibly bankrupt as a consequence. It's one thing to bring misfortune upon yourself, but poor health can strike anyone at any time... as we've become acutely aware of, ourselves.

(I don't know if I'll ever get used to seeing a cashier's office at a hospital.)

How this pertains to Sara Heinrich is that she, being newly self-employed, is not going to get her photography business off the ground unless she does something drastic... and I think she's doing the right thing here by starting up a print drive.

Sara's work is stunning. It deserves to be up on walls -- in offices, homes, wherever visual art is meant to be. If I had half her talent (and not in my currently restricted situation), I'd be forging ahead, too.

Click on the pic or her links below and check out her stuff -- it's fantastic imagery, even on a computer monitor rather than a wall.

Awful Sara's blog
Sara Heinrich's Photography

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Smarties, eh?

Thanks to a very intuitive lady above the 49th, I got a package yesterday that included Special Edition boxes, and David was introduced to Smarties for the very first time (and no, they're not the same as M&Ms).

Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou! They're all gone now!

The Ms and their parents sent massive boxes of Rogers chocolates, which we're still working our way through because there's copious amounts of it. At this rate, it'll be Christmas chocolate, but note: that's not a complaint!

On the Dangers of 1-Click Purchasing

Here's a deadly combo here at the House of Fielding:

- abysmal weather
- 1-click purchasing at
- 1-click purchasing at iTunes

I've removed my ability to purchase in one click, but this doesn't seem to curb the impulse. There's a world of music out there as expansive as the world itself. And, in fact, in many ways more accessible because music knows no bounds in terms of enjoyment while language can be a real barrier in the practical sense.

I bought some sing-a-long music for the M's recently (take note, O Parents of MJEs, it's arriving by post to Gumpa's house), so my already-eclectic iTunes Library has a Children's section, along with Swiss Folk Music (oom-pah pah!), very old jazz, electronica, and stuff you'd wish never be caught singing on public transit. A cross-section may look like:

To-Wa-Bac-A-Wa - Louis Dumaine's Jazzola Eight
Five Little Monkeys Swinging In a Tree - Munchkin Music
Four Ton Mantis - Amon Tobin
Schürzenjägererzeit - Schürzenjäger
B.O.B. - Outkast
Instant Pleasure - Rufus Wainwright
Theme from Dr. No - Henry Mancini

I've had to merge some of the genres together because the list was too long and the more obscure songs didn't really deserve their own categories. Also, the genres were in different languages, so the iPod wasn't shuffling within genre properly. When I travel somewhere I tend to buy music locally, from various places such as markets, street vendors, pretty much anywhere. Sometimes I really don't know what I'm getting, but I like the element of surprise. I don't think I've regretted anything I've bought this way.

I usually purchase off iTunes Canada because songs/albums are cheaper in Canadian dollars, but the selection isn't the same as iTunes USA. In fact, it's so different that I end up switching between the two, according to what's available. I've found items on iTunes Canada that aren't available on iTunes USA and vice-versa. is (usually) cheaper than and has more merchants, but the sites are so different selection-wise the only similarity is really the UI.

One band I have not been able to find an album for on any of the sites -- iTunes USA/Canada, -- is the Bo Kaspers Orkestra. Although I should qualify I'm looking for something reasonable -- is currently showing almost $38 for their Greatest Hits album, and I can't find anything at all on iTunes.

Typical Evening at the House of Fielding

typical evening at the House of Fielding
Hugh curled up with David in the easychair. Hugh always has to be as close to David's face as catly possible.

(David's head isn't really that shape, it's overblown by the lighting and cameraphone-quality capture.)

David resumed chemotherapy today, and it will continue weekly for the time being. Hopefully this means any sort of reaction will be kept to a minimum. MRI Thursday, radiation Friday, chemo again on Monday, the rest we'll find out as we go along.

Today's craving after chemo: liverwurst sandwiches, with mayonnaise and raw onion.


Kermit's Public Service Announcement (Redux)

Kermit comes along in the Piper Tri-Pacer and gives a safety demonstration. Wear your seatbelt!

Original post: April 27, 2005 - Kermit's PSA

Halloween House

I think this year we'll decorate the porch. I need to get some pumpkins and get carving, though, the neighbours have put us to shame.

(These aren't our neighbours, they're across town. But look at those lights!)

There are some people at the bottom of the hill that take holiday decorating to such extremes that the local authorities put up arrows directing people through the alley because of the traffic. They only finished last night, so I don't have any shots yet. Apparently, David says they have motorised mummies and all get out!

Sink Dexter

Ah Dexter, a few too many, huh?

Came upon using Flickr's "Interestingness" algorithms; this one's by brooklyn dauphin.

I wish Hugh slept in the sink, because then if he fell asleep and peed (as he is wont to do EVERY DAY), it wouldn't require the major clean-up it does now. Well, I suppose we'd have to clean him up.

Monday, October 24, 2005

You've Come A Long Way, Baby

Left: almost 21 months

Right: 15 months

Left: 8 months

Right: 7 months

The EdTwins' Early Index:

Feb 7, 2004 - I Meet the EdTwins
Feb 24, 2004 - The EdTwins, Week 3
Feb 28 - 2004 - The EdTwins; Almost 4 Weeks
Jun 21, 2004 - Father's Day
Aug 25, 2004 - The Twins Are Growing!

With their new haircuts, they look more like little girls than toddlers:

-- from Allan & Cheryl

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Cautiously Optimistic

After waves of bad news throughout September and October -- interrupted only by our wedding -- I'm happy to report a plateau-ing of sorts. I wanted to wait a little while lest it was a fluke, but steady progress over recent days show a trend. It started out rocky, but last week David's health improved by leaps and bounds:

- an appetite, although still small
- nausea has subsided
- fatigue lessened; longer bursts of energy

David had some milestones, too:

- a restaurant dinner
- driving
- a trip to the store
- a trip to the park
- a trip to the cinema
- Sunday brunch

David still has some nausea, a lot of fatigue and ongoing pain, but it's definitely an improvement compared to the week prior. His weight is finally holding, he's cracking jokes, and we can have conversations without painkillers sending him off to the Land of Nod mid-sentence.

His appetite has made a marked improvement -- he gets cravings. It's like living with a pregnant woman: one day it's for egg rolls, another day it's for lox and bagels, yesterday it was sweet gherkins. I wish there was a 24-hour grocery store like in my Vancouver neighbourhood, but I've been able to indulge David's cravings in short order so far. As long as it's not for anything like foie gras, I can manage with Gerrity's, our local staples shop.

I've been so amazed I've kept quiet about it in case it didn't last. Granted, chemotherapy resumes on Tuesday, so I'm anticipating some backsliding. We saw the oncologist last week to discuss David's present condition and check if he was well enough to resume chemo. They took his blood, and the results show the counts are back to normal.

Relief. As much as I dread the side-effects of chemotherapy, the alternative is... not a viable one. We must persevere, come what may.

The approach to chemo, however, has changed in light of how quickly David became ill after the last combination dosage. The frequency, dosage, and treatment itself will be altered, and hopefully it will be effective without debilitating him. David has at least another month of treatment to go on this chemotherapy drug, and then another round of scans to gauge its success. In the past week David hasn't felt any new pain, so no plans for radiation, just continue with chemo for now.

Even in 2005, with millions spent on cancer research, there is still a great deal of educated guesswork left to the doctors -- treatment is specific to the individual -- and we have to trust they are doing their best. Our doctor is a very well-respected oncologist with multiple degrees in oncology, hematology, and internal medicine. He's also the same age as David.

When we're at the clinic, surrounded by the elderly, my mind wanders to thoughts of -- 'We don't belong here, we haven't lived our lives yet, had kids, grandkids, retirement... we haven't even had a HONEYMOON.'

I think the doctor understands our future is very much in his hands. It's a huge responsibility.

So, I remain cautiously optimistic.

Nature's Mirror

More from Friday's little foray around Nay Aug Park. (Can't help but want to say Egg Nog Park instead.)

I now take three cameras with me everywhere:

Asahi Pentax K-1000 (film)
Canon A80 (digital)
LG C2000 (VGA camera on phone)

Each give dramatically different results, so now it takes me three times as long in every place we go... to move on to the next place. David's still getting around quite slowly these days, so it works out just fine, pace-wise.

This tree shot was taken with the digicam, the two below with the film camera.

goldfish reflections of autumn (film)

Roll Out the Barrel - Redux

Came across on a friend's site, and think I'll give it a whirl. Totally free, uses Flash, files are searchable with categories and tagging system. I put a scrolling list of uploaded videos on the left panel (scroll WAYYYYYY down).

I shot this last November -- barrel rolling in the Piper Tri-Pacer!

Original post - November 15, 2004

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Maddy's big birthday cake

Whoa, now THAT's a cake!

Miss Madeleine turned 4 years old and, like the little socialite that she is, did celebrate in Maddy-fashion... living large, even while small.

Allan & Cheryl & the Ms: Happy 4th Birthday Madeleine

I phoned the Ms earlier and spoke to the birthday girl. Even from a few feet away, David could tell which one was on the phone, mostly by volume.

"What did you get for your birthday, Maddy?" David asked.

"PRESENTS!" Maddy shrieked. David pulled the handset away, but it was too late for the ear drum assault.

ADDITION: Sunday, Oct 23

I dug up the video from Maddy's birthday last year. What a cutie!

Sleepy Hugh

Another cameraphone picture. No one is safe from photo capture, not even the cat.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Nay Aug Park

Nay Aug Park
Nay Aug Park
[photo by gail on the web]

ADDITION: 8:20pm

Fooling around with our new cameraphones in the park. I sent this to Flickr and Blogger at the same time using Flickr's send-by-e-mail feature, so it's very 'in the moment'. We took photos around the park, I dropped off a roll of film to get developed, and then I turned to David:

"Hey, let's go drive around the neighbourhoods and look for Halloween houses!"

Time to go pick up the film now, so we'll see what photos turn out later this evening.

ADDITION: Saturday, Oct 22

Dave's Logbook: Another Outing

Do-Ho Suh

Was reading Caterina Fake's blog via my aggregator and came across the work of Korean artist Do-Ho Suh for the first time. Perhaps it wasn't the first of his work I'd seen, but a gallery full of these transparent architectural installations certainly caught my eye.

Click on the pic for the full deal.

Alek Atom Ackerman

From the archives: end of January 1993

Fourth class rail travel in Thailand was pretty rough, but I was lucky enough to travel with this delightful baby and his parents from Ontario. The Ackermans were around 30, hippyish in their style and naming convention... how could I ever forget the name Alek Atom?

"He even has his own passport!" -- they said proudly, showing it to me. There was baby Alek, in a wee bow tie, beaming from behind the lamination.

Fourth class meant there was no reserved seating, and we were squished together -- standing and seated -- with the locals and their menagerie of domestic animals (mostly chickens). The train trip seemed to take forever because it stopped frequently around the clock for hawkers to sell their wares. But even in the middle of the night, my bleary eyes could make out the male transvestites ("ladyboys") with their little trays of sliced mangoes. I had to watch out for them to not step on Mr. Ackerman, who slept on the floor of the train on newspapers so Mrs. Ackerman and baby Alek and I could sleep on the bench.

The Ackermans were the first native English speakers I'd encountered in a while, and it was comforting to be with fellow Canadians for once in my Asia travels. I'd been outside of Canada for 13 months by then. This was their third trip to Thailand, and they were quite familiar with Thai culture -- comfortable enough to travel with their baby. They were of enormous help to me in Bangkok, where we shared accommodation and travel info.

It struck me, looking at this photo, that Alek -- who was 18 months old at the time -- would now be FOURTEEN YEARS OLD. If I saw this kid in a class of 9th grade students, would I recognise him??

Aside: I can't believe that much time has passed since this photo. Why does time seem so compressed when things go well, then expand -- nay, drag on for all of eternity -- when things go awry???*

* rhetorical question, in case that wasn't obvious

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Feeling More Like a Married Couple By the Day

Overall, it's been a full and productive day, one which involved a car trip that WASN'T from our house to a medical facility.


Oh wait, it WAS to a medical facility, but not for anything cancer-related.


It was for me, a follow-up to the USCIS-required medical examination I had on Monday. David hasn't been well enough to go anywhere further than 10 minutes' drive from our house, but today we managed to make it all the way to Tannersville, a whole 45 minutes away. It almost felt like the pre-cancer days, when we'd drive to Philadelphia or New York, talking animatedly and watching our surroundings whizz by.

I'll point to David's blog for part of the story, the rest I'll write later as I'm setting up my new phone. That's the other "married couple" advancement: matching phones. We got a good deal on them (2-for-1), and we save on accessories (one car charger, instead of two) and chances are if somebody accidentally left a charger at home, the other would remember to bring it (odds are that would be me).

Dave's Logbook: Thursday's Outing

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Sawan Mela Festival

For a while now I've been thinking of moving my blog over to a "real" (i.e. paid) domain, but several things have stopped me. Not so much the cost, but the hassle factor (the more entries I write, the more there is to move and format) and maintenance.

Here, I don't deal with a hosting company, the servers haven't been getting a lot of downtime, I don't worry about getting hacked, there's no sign of Blogger discontinuing, it's easy to update (all I need is a browser), and... well, I've talked myself into inertia again, haven't I?

However, you get what you pay for and when it's free, there's only so much customisation one can do. I've been considering WordPress or TypePad, but we'll see how it goes. I might be tempting fate with this post -- will the Blogger servers go down after I hit submit?

Any suggestions/recommendations are welcome.

In the meantime, I've made some small changes on the template and will be making some colour changes soon.

One thing I've been neglecting lately is posting links to some of the video clips I've got stored on my .Mac account.

Here's one from the summer, four months ago to the day:

Sawan Mela Festival
3rd Annual Sawan Mela Festival
Plaza of Nations
June 19, 2005

A celebration of South Asian culture in Vancouver.

Video here: Sawan Mela Festival dancers

South Asian Family Association:

These dancers from the UBC are fantastic! So high-energy -- check out their moves near the end, all three rows.