Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A wedding, some layoffs and a trip to the ER

Autumn has always been my favourite season; the crispness of the morning air, the crunching of leaves under tyre (at this point only anticipated, but still), the renewed sense of one's home as a sanctuary from the ravages of nature and, for me, a return to the joys of cooking. I really enjoy cooking, I find it restorative, but there is simply no motivation to turn the on the oven when the thermostat in the dining room reads 86 degrees, as it seems to from July through to mid-September. So at last, on Sunday, my first casserole of the season, a rustic coq au vin, and packed lunch sorted for a week.

Just a fortnight before we'd been way down South in Medford, broiling away inside my pinstripe suit as the afternoon sun shone its propitious light upon the wedding of friends Derek and Sonia. I think it might have been the loveliest wedding I have yet to attend, at once expressive and consequential and relaxed and playful, it well reflected the personalities of the leading players. Outdoors and at a vineyard too, a first for me as weddings go, and if only I'd known I probably would have brought my other lens and taken better pictures. Still, you had to be there really, and we were, til fairly late in the evening, certainly by recent standards, and Rachel's first decent drink in nearly two years.

The journey home, some 240 miles with a hangover, wasn't quite so much fun, especially when Rachel abandoned me at a truckstop South of Roseburg. Fortunately though she returned a few minutes later, claiming it was an accident, and certainly that's how I prefer to imagine the incident.

The next day wasn't a barrel of laughs either as Fraggle Rock PLC announced a layoff amounting to 7% of its global workforce. This decimation was conducted in the Roman tradition with none of the démodé negotiation and notice periods that hamper the conduct of efficient commercial activity in the UK. Though perhaps not massively surprising given the enterprise's recent lack of profitability, the event was nonetheless melancholy, callous and efficient; fingers are now crossed that it proves effective.

The following day was going fairly well until Rachel phoned - in something of a panic - to inform me that Ethan might have swallowed a coin. He seemed perfectly fine but such advice as I could google told me to take him to the ER, which we did, and maybe five hours later he was given the all clear, the x-ray providing definitive proof that he hadn't in fact swallowed anything untoward. Which was a relief and will probably remain so until I receive the bill. There was also a very eerie sci-fi moment when I had to hold the little fella down bare-chested below the x-ray machine in an otherwise empty operating theatre, a pair of red laser beams projected across his little abdomen to line up the scanner. It probably would have been better not to have played Resident Evil prior to this point.

Derek, left, prepares himself for matrimony, flanked by his best man and brothers.

The happy couple take their first steps on a journey of limitless and unparalleled joy.

The complimentary wedding CD included a multiple choice quiz titled "how well do you know them?". Blushing bride Sonia ran us through the answers after the buffet.

Rachel looking radiant, as ever.

The obligatory photo of baby boy, this time holding a sponge baseball.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The State Fair

The end of August marks the start of the State Fair, Julie's birthday and one of only two annual open days for the smaller local wineries. All in all I was having far too much fun to take a step back and reflect too much on any of these events, so you will just have to look at the pictures instead - I trust that's OK with you.

Ethan, on Ben's lap, enjoying the canine gymnastics at the Purina dog show, one of a multitude of attractions offered by the State Fair including such staged events, a fun fair, an enormous variety of extremely unhealthy food, a large agricultural show, arts and crafts, live music, horticultural attractions, demos of gadgets otherwise restricted to QVC and so forth. We spent a whole day there and didn't see everything.

Ethan with his aunt Julie.

Watermelon sculpting in action.

Officials adjudicating the watermelon seed spitting competition. The state record for minors is an impressive 27 feet.

Baby boy already attracting the ladies with his usual insouciant charm.


The following day took us to Natalie's vineyard for their annual tasting. Baby boy enjoyed the grapes.

Father and son at an Italian restaurant in the Pearl district for Julie's birthday.

Cute but villainous, this young raccoon rifles through a bin bag left carelessly on the deck overnight. Lesson learned.