Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hey, that looks familiar!

So, I was sweeping the path up to our front door when I noticed a familiar looking shape in the rocks that make up the path:

Yep, it's the outline of our fair state.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Fun, fun. Until I develop a good way to migrate posts, old posts will remain here, but the new fun and games will be taking place at: . See you there!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Losing an e-mail account fouls up everything.

Dear readers,

As most of you well know, I was recently kidnapped in London and held hostage for an e-mail ransom. The result of this adventure was the unfortunate deletion of my old e-mail addresses,, the one tied to this blog, being one of them.

Though I transferred administrator privilages over before I deleted that google account, unfortunately, it appears that it has messed things up over here at Spudward as well (not the hacker, just the loss of the account).

We have many wonderful things to share - including a marching marmot, and pictures and stories from our trip out to Grand Teton National Park.

In the days to come, keep an eye out for more information - I'll be migrating the blog to another location, and hopefully will be able to retain a similar web address.

Thanks for your patience - the potato will be back before you know it!

Love, Ariel & Charlie

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Adventures at state agencies.

"You have got to be kidding me. Seriously. SERIOUSLY?"

You can always expect a long wait and some curious people-watching, but never have I had an experience at the Social Security office as I did the other day.

Now, I'm a pretty patient person, and after a couple years of commuting to work on Portland's public transportation system, I'd like to think that I have pretty tolerant attitude toward the public at large. Stinky people? Oh well. Life happens. Rude people? I've got my "ignoring you" and "disinterest" faces down pat. Crazy people? Just part of the community; be polite, but try not to engage.

You definitely utilize those skills when you have a hang out at a public services office.

So I am sitting there. Minding my own business. Waffling between reading the book I brought and checking my phone for the best, newest things on the internet and e-mail. Typical waiting behavior.

The room was stuffy and redolent of people with a lower-than-average idea of hygiene. Yuck.

When I came in, the hyper-friendly security agent informed me that I wasn't allowed to have my coffee mug in the room, and that I had to leave it on the counter by the door. Bummer. Now I'm a little undercaffeinated, too.

The room is slowly filling up when two men come through the door. One guy is a small, wiry, whip-skinny fellow, the other (The Lenny to his George) is tall and pretty overweight. Tall enough, that when I was seated, and the two men took the seats next to me, the big guy's hip was at the same level as my head.

The big guy identifies a friend across the room, and stands up to talk to him. First, however, he turns to talk to the skinny guy. The rows are close enough together, that I had to turn and make room for him to stand and make his way down the aisle. I'm turned away, as, due to the architecture of his frame and my seated position, his butt is right next to my face. I'm trying to be polite, and just ignore the situation as best I can.

That's when I noticed a slight odor.

Phew, poor guy. He also must fall into the "poor hygiene" category, because MAN he smells like... well... POOP.

Being polite. Just minding my own business.

The smell intensifies.

Wow. I wonder if that old lady in front of my ripped one - sometimes old people aren't too conscious of controlling those things.

And it continues to get worse.

All of a sudden it hits me (like a wave of rotten eggs and a meal that didn't agree with someone)... this guy just farted in my face.

He stood there.
With his butt.
In my face.
And let one go.

They couldn't call my number fast enough.

By the way - with regard to the name changing (the purpose of my being there)? We decided to go with Varhol. What do you think?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday mornings.

There's nothing quite like a lazy Saturday morning when the weather outside is dreary, the air inside in chilly, and you have nothing (absolutely nothing!) on your agenda.

Sleeping in until 10, warm people wrapped in a dense, heavy cocoon of blankets.

The warm, roasty smell of brewing coffee.

Dragging chairs and laptops into the warm kitchen and sharing internet clips and funny blog posts we wait for sweet popovers to "pop" in the oven.

This American Life weaving curious, inquisitive stories on the radio.

Yes, friends. This is the homebody life that a wintery morning demands of a newly married couple.

Here's a link to the popover recipe we used: Sugar-Crusted Popovers.
Let me offer a tip or two: if using a muffin tin, heat it in the oven while you blend the batter. Put a pat of butter (just a tiny, bean-sized one) in each indentation. Add the batter once the butter is completely melted. Don't worry about brushing them with melted butter (it ended up being TOO rich for us). Dust them with sugar or another topping. We like: powdered sugar and lemon, honey butter, lemon curd, cinnamon sugar, jam. Anyhow, use his batter recipe, though. It was perfect.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Winter in the desert.

Snow, cold; cold, snow. Wind, clouds, sun, cold, snow, snow, snow.

Winter has settled in on Boise. We've had a few days of snow tempered by melty, 40 degree days, sunshine, and rain. The good old back-and forth. Rumor has it that the foothills trails are a mucky mess, so our options for shot dayhikes are slim. We've been eyeballing the snow depths in the nearby mountains, and our snow shoes are burning holes in the wall. Maybe tomorrow.

I know, you probably want to hear about the wedding and the holidays. As several weekends spent almost entirely in our pajamas evinces, we still feel like we're catching up and recovering.

Since our last update we've honeymooned in Mexico...


(These, and the rest of the pictures from the trip are located here: "Troncones" on Ariel's flickr stream)

Traveled to the Mother Land for the holidays...



And enjoyed Christmas with all the various permutations of our families.

Now, with the last long slog of winter ahead of us (though the days are getting longer again!), I guess it's time to buck-up and address those real, grown-up things that we've been putting off for the last few months (bank accounts, name changes, etc. JOY!).

In some respects it's a little relieving - we now have the time and wherewithal to actually settle into somewhat of a normal life again. And that is a good thing.

That said, knowing us, chances are it won't be altogether TOO normal.

(Photo by Steve Schmidt of Olyphotos)

Happy holidays, happy new year, and all our love and warm wishes for the days and months ahead.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We're Married!

We did it! On October 10, 2009 we got married in Port Gamble, Washington! We had a beautiful ceremony, lovely weather, were surrounded by our wonderful and loving friends and family - everything was perfect.

We'll write more about the wedding soon (and post some pictures too!) but we're still on our way back to Boise right now. Thank you to all of our family and friends who came to the wedding or gave us well wishes from afar! We love you!

Monday, September 28, 2009


The temperature in the next 24 hours is supposed to drop over 35 degrees. That's the different between highs - not between a high and a low. Welcome to fall.

The worry and planning, fuss and frenzy thermometer is supposed to have an equivalent jump in the opposite direction. Less than two weeks until crazy event-of-your-life madness.

And Otto snuggles on the couch, happy we're home, snoozing and drooling.

It's dark by eight and Charlie is making Indian food from a jar. And it smells amazing.

This weekend we're going to go buy fireworks novelty sparklers 40 minutes away in Mountain Home.

Our house is being overwhelmed by boxes. Boxes and box stuffing in every room. It's a big cat fort.

We still have windows open in the living room, and I'm debating pulling out the box of winter sweaters--folded and smelling like stiff, scratchy, wool.

Is it bad luck to listen to our reception mix before the wedding? If it is, don't say anything to me about it.

My wedding band isn't here yet. We ordered it from a catalog, and it's supposed to be here soon.

There's cat food on the floor in the kitchen.

It's been months since we've taken a walk down along the river.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Just a tease...

More to come on this one, I promise.

Over the long Labor Day weekend, Charlie and I decided to take a break from wedding-land and set out on a three-day backpacking trip up into the Sawtooth National Wilderness Area. It was a classic Sawtooth trip in the eastern part of the mountains, about 15 minutes from Stanley, Idaho.

We hiked the spectacular Toxaway Lake-Alice Lake loop. With an unanticipated few extra miles in the beginning (due to a trail-head goof), in all we hiked 20.2 miles in three days. We climbed (and then, of course, descended) about 2,900 feet in all. Our highest point, crossing Snowyside Pass, was at about 9,400 feet.

I have a million pictures to sort through (surprise, surprise), but here are a couple early favorites that I can't help but share.

These colors are completely authentic - no post-process color or saturation tweaking at all.
Both shots are from where we stayed on night 2, Alice Lake. If you click on the pictures, it should take you to flickr, where you can view larger sizes.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Last night, impressive thunderstorms rolled through the Treasure Valley, leaving much cooler temperatures in their wake. We had thunder, lightening, and lots of rain, all of which reminded me of the thunderstorms in Iowa when I was growing up. Ariel and I turned off the lights in our apartment, pulled open the blinds, and rotated our little Ikea couch towards the window so that we could watch it blow over the town.

Today, the temperature is in the 70s, which is much more refreshing than the high 90s days of last week. We're planning to take advantage of the "cool-down" and go for a walk on the Ridge to Rivers trail system in the foothills before the next big storm blows into town.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wedding Invitation Fever!

This weekend we are busily putting together our wedding invitations. After a lot of debate about which invitations we would go with, we settled on a design that we really love: it's clean, simple, modern, elegant and has some of our "fall colors" that will be incorporated into the wedding itself. The invitations arrived in the mail for us on Friday and we need to turn them around pretty quickly to send them off to wedding guests. Right now we're writing addresses, stuffing envelopes, and attaching stamps - they all go in the mail on Monday!

It's hard to believe that our wedding is less than 2 months away. Have we mentioned that on our second date we watched the movie "A Very Long Engagement"?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

In which we are seduced yet again by the Wallowas

You'd think we'd have learned after the first time: the Wallowas do not kid around.

Being the suckers for granite, alpine lakes, and green trees that we are, Charlie and I decided that, rather than blow things up for the 4th of July, we'd hit the trail for a two-night 14-mile backpack up into Oregon's Eagle Cap Wilderness area.

You may remember our previous trip there - what with the September first snowfall and all.

This time, we were on the run from a storm front that was scheduled to pummel Idaho's mountains with some nice thunder, lightening, hail, and rain over the long weekend. Looking at the weather forecast, we determined there might be better opportunities for visiting the "Frank Church/River of No Return" wilderness (like, you know, when there was a better chance of us returning).

So back we went to our beloved Oregon. We were delighted to discover that the in-point for the trail was just outside of Baker City - just a 2.5 hour drive from Boise. We'd be at the trailhead in a scant three hours. Definite striking distance for a weekend hike.

Things started off great. We reached the trailhead at about 1:00 on Friday. Already it was stuffy and warm, with big puffy clouds gathering above the mountains. Undeterred, we loaded our packs. Just .6 miles in, we were already stopping (and posing!) for a photoshoot.

Charlie looks cool and calm as usual (he knows how to look good in pictures!), Ariel, on the other hand, had a different "face" in mind:

Little was I to know that this face would re-appear, in various forms throughout the rest of our adventurous weekend. One needs to start practicing early on in the trip for any real success, right?

After a mosquito-rich slog up-hill through some pretty dense brush, our hike opened up into a series of lovely meadows.

Though difficult to see in the picture, the wildflowers were just starting to bloom on this hike, and we were surrounded on the trip by purples, blues, yellows, and pinks. At points along the trail, it looked like people had planted them especially for our enjoyment.

In this picture, you can see the clouds starting to gather in earnest. The sky was darkening, and we didn't want to be caught out in a downpour. This was about half-way through our first day's intended mileage. We consulted, and made the, in retrospect, rather foolish decision to postpone lunch until we hit camp. It was only a few more miles! In the hot weather, we weren't noticeably hungry, and the gorp seemed to be doing the trick.

Of course, anyone who's been on a backpack or two, knows that this is exactly what NOT to do. We pushed through to Eagle Meadows, and fell into a heap at the campsite. Aching legs, headaches, the gamut. And, adding insult to injury, all the campsites in the meadow appeared to be taken. Ditching the packs, we set off in opposite directions in search of a private (ie: off the trail) spot to camp. Eventually, we stumbled upon what appeared to be a campsite in the trees close to the creek. A little dark, and apparently unused yet this season, it nevertheless fit the bill.

Charlie threw a nice campfire together, and after a snack and a short nap, life was looking just peachy again. We even had a nice granite fireplace, to boot!

We had a peaceful night in camp, and the next morning dawned sunny and bright. We packed up camp and headed up the short (yet steep!) trail to our second campsite: Eagle Lake.

Saturday was even hotter than Friday, and the day's climb was on a good, study trail, up a rather exposed slope. The views back down the valley were incredible and we racked up elevation with every switchback.

As we climbed, snow grew more prevalent along the trail, and near the top we came across this neat snow-bridge above the trail. Decided it was wise not to climb inside it for a more up-close view, but the cool air blowing through it felt amazing. It was hard not to want to curl up for a nap inside.

Shortly after the "cave" we arrived at the lake. In retrospect, July 4th is quite early in the season for Eagle Cap trips, so it should have been no real surprise to find it almost still completely frozen.

The lake itself was a beautiful spot. It was dammed by people in the region early on to help with irrigation for farming in the valleys below. The dam itself is a quite impressive work of backcountry engineering.

We goofed around up at the lake for the next couple hours, and set-up camp. Despite the existence of a spectacular campsite out on a rocky bluff at the end of the lake, we elected to pitch our tent in what appeared to be a more sheltered location on the shoulder of the hill, amongst several large granite boulders.

Even though it was more protected, as you can see, the view left nothing to be wanted:

Unfortunately, though, bluebird skies gave way to dark clouds, and a decent thunderstorm rolled in. Charlie was a pro (all those years living in Iowa, perhaps?), but I was quite the wimp--repeatedly wondering aloud why we'd chosen to camp at this $#%@^$ lake, and why we hadn't just stayed in our safe little spot in the valley and made a day hike out of it??

As the rain (and hail) hammered down on the tent, we also noticed something about our nice, protected little site: it was a bowl for catching runoff. So much so, that there were little rivers running down the sides of the hill right into our campsite. Fantastic.

We found ourselves with an inch of water evenly divided between the ground, the ground tarp, and the bottom of the tent. We waited out the storm floating in a puddle on our thermarest matresses.

The good news about our site was, even though it accumulated water quickly, it also drained almost just as fast. The picture above was shortly after the storm ended, and already we were seeing progress on our little houseboat situation.

Once the storm had passed, the rest of the evening progressed without incident. We cooked up some instant backpacking food, watched the sun go down on the mountains, and tucked into the tents for the night. It was a somewhat sleepless night, what, with the deer traipsing through camp and schnuffling through our backpacks (hurrah for hanging food high!), and the silent flashes of lightening that illuminated the sky (I nervously counted in my head, "Mississippi-one, Mississippi-two..." by the time I got to "Mississippi-twenty-one" with no thunder, I decided that I was being somewhat ridiculous.).

We awoke the next morning to bright skies, and clean air. We had a long hike ahead of us, so got started early, said goodbye to the lake, and set off for the valley.

The hike back involved some useful adventure skills such as fording frigid creeks in sandals, balancing across logs, and keeping one's feet under one's legs on steep descents.

In all, it was a great expedition into the backcountry, and, while the Eagle Cap Wilderness always has something new and adventurous in store for us, it also never dissapoints. We always leave yearning to go back next weekend, and the weekend after, and the weekened after that....

If you're still antsy for more pictures, there are a bunch more up on Flickr (as well as the ones here).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Proving myself wrong, yet again.

Two weeks ago, I was lamenting our spring here in Idaho:

"It just isn't LUSH enough!"

"I miss Portland's exuberant cherry trees."

"No magnolias? (Heavy sigh.)"

Pouting, I prepared to move from a drab, brown winter, into a muted, subdued spring. But, as usual, when I complain about something, I had to eat my words.

While Boise doesn't have the outrageous explosions of blossoms and greenery and fecund growth that I became accostumed to in Portland, it puts on a pretty good springtime show.

On Easter afternoon, since Charlie had to work, I took a walk by myself through the North End to enjoy the sunny day. Cherry trees! Plum trees! Forsythia (Boise LOVES this plant)! Tulips! Magnolias! Everything was just a riot of color and flowers.

Better yet, the farmer's market started up last weekend. We wandered, dazed, through the throngs of people attending, and only bought a loaf of bread and a dozen eggs. Asparagus was the vegetable du jour, but they were asking almost $4 a bunch. While the general populace was there, and ready to eagerly embrace the market, the vegetables seem to have a little more growing to do before things can really begin in earnest. Nonetheless, life here is feeling a little more bearable again. Just being able to comfortably go outdoors in a teeshirt and sandals raises my mood 100-fold.

With spring in full-blast, it means that summer, with its 100 degree days and dusty afternoons is looming just over the horizon. The last two days have been hot--85 degrees yesterday, with similar weather forecast for today. But, being that it's still spring, we have to take this in stride, and enjoy the taste of summer before it becomes opressive: a week ago today, there was snow in the forecast, and the prediction for the weekend is rain, and 58. I think we should be able to handle this task. If there's one thing growing up in Washington has taught us, it's to enjoy and appreciate sunny, warm days when they come around.

So for today, I'll put sunscreen on my shoulders, and dig out the shorts, tank tops, and sun dresses I packed away last fall. I might also pack up a few sweaters--I just don't see myself wearing a wool turtleneck from here on out.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Great Coffee Table Search... or... Welcome to Craigslist Boise

I will just do away with the "I'm-so-sorry-we-haven't-posted-in-forever" apologies right now. Life, Christmas, a case of the blues, and winter all struck at once, and things get behind.

If anyone is reading any longer, and you're interested in keeping up, most of our recent adventures (including a trip to the Snake River Birds of Prey Area) have been documented on my (Ariel's) Flickr stream: . There, you can also find interesting things like The Funeral Cone and Charlie's New Personal Hygiene Plan.

But, the point of this post isn't to fill you in on things that we've been up to, but, rather, on one specific point of interest: a photo-walk through the truly amazing selection of coffee tables available for sale on Craigslist here in Boise.

Last weekend, Charlie got the idea that perhaps we needed a coffee table for this room--with the thought that, with a table, we might live in it a little more. Always up for a hunt--especially if it involves things like furniture--I immediately pulled up Craigslist to find the perfect secret bargain.

In doing so, I forget that, even here in Boise, Craigslist is no longer the somewhat hip, "subculture" exchange of goods that it once seemed. Or, for that matter, even just a place to get good stuff from people with decent taste.

Which leads me to the thought that maybe the problem isn't a slide toward a trailerpark garage sale, but rather a simple difference in taste between myself and the average Craislist seller.

Then again, perhaps you'll disagree?

It's hard, in fact to disagree with the seller's statement that this is an "impressive" coffee table. Though, I find the expectation that they'll get the requested $500 for it "impressive" as well.

Impressive wasn't quite up our alley, so instead I opened up one that the seller described as very "sterdy" (sic), and "handmade." I never would have guessed it was handmade. Or, sterdy for that matter, actually.

No, I was on Craigslist in search of a diamond in the rough--a bargain that we'd love, and could really live with... "Yours for only $100!" How could we resist? (Apparently, you could buy the whole living room set--which, I sincerely hope included the... mmm... "arrangement"(?) atop the table). I'll bet they would have thrown in the fireplace guard for a good price, too.

How about this stunning ensemble? For only $500 you can have the chairs AND table. Just in case I ever needed to have a "Parisian Cafe Gardern Party" in my living room.

Too curlicued for our tastes.

One of the things that was most fascinating about browsing coffee tables, was reading the excuses people gave for getting rid of things. Rather than "Good Lord, it's just too damn UGLY!" (which the people of THIS table should have said...)

People would came up with a series of curious excuses. Some were heartbreaking, and reflected the current economic downturn ("Lost house. Moving into our RV. Can't keep the furniture."), others reflected new life changes. For instance, the table below was being sold for the simple reason of, "BABY TAKING OVER HOUSE. MUST SELL." (No hard feelings, honey, but the baby's just TAKING OVER THE HOUSE.) I just noticed that the baby appears to be taking over the picture too, in the background.

Well, we don't have a baby to worry about, and who knows, maybe round is our thing?

Maybe not. It was also amazing that people thought they were doing you a favor by passing along an amazing deal for a table on which they'd OBVIOUSLY spent way too much money... This lovely Jaguar number could be had for the STEAL price of around $500. They'd originally bought this "unique" (their word, how true) gem in Las Vegas for $1000. Oh well, better than gambling it away... I think?

Shortly after this post, I ran across another advertising a similar table. Maybe a bear is better suited to an Idaho lifestyle. What's up with the animals bearing our burdens?

A couple of my other favorites include:

"We just don't use it." (I wonder why??)

"$200! Won't Last! (Can be easily spray-painted a different color!)" (Why would I spend $200 on a table only to SPRAY-PAINT it?)

A handmade creation that they put a lot of "time, effort, and hard work" into... (Yes, the legs look like firewood, and it's covered in bottle caps.)

I just have no words for this one. Is this even a TABLE?

And, finally. Tonight's winner. Found with the end-all, be-all caption: "Great in Any Setting!"

Suffice to say, in wrapping up, that we went home table-less. Better luck next time?