closing 2011

a quick set up with a few shots from our mountain getaway set the stage for this year's christmas/new year's card. when will all the rain and snow arrive? it is anyone's guess. whatever you do, wherever you go, may you keep the year past in your heart, and the year ahead on your horizon. blessings to you in 2012, kerri

From Lions to Tigers With a Touch of Orange, Fiesta and Sugar: The Other College Football Bowl Predictions

We'd first like to point out that we're absolutely exhausted after watching highlights of The Alamo Bowl. The game wasn't a great advertisement for defenses, but it was for college football and fun. If that game was a NFL game, everyone would be talking about it as being the 'Game Of The Century' -regardless of who the two teams were. Since it was Baylor and Washington, we doubt it's going to get talked about again.

Anyway, there's a lot of college football left in the New Year. Jan 2 sees some of the big SEC teams come into play, and then it's BCS, BCS and more BCS until the end of the National Championship Game (we reserve the right to say that the Game Of The Century II between LSU and Alabama was boring on Jan 9th, by the way!).

So here we go:

Jan 2

Houston vs Penn State (TicketCity Bowl, Dallas)

At first we couldn't conceal the fact that PSU was given a TicketCity Bowl berth against a team who wasn't in the SEC, but the more we thought about it, the more we liked it. After all, Case Keenum's a hell of a quarterback, and Penn State's going to have to pull out all the stops to not only deal with the Cougars offence, but also produce some points of their own. And since Penn State hasn't exactly added to its credibility in the off-season by actually finding a coach, many people are predicting a long day for the blue and white. PREDICTION: Including us. Houston wins by 7.

Nebraska vs South Carolina (Capital One Bowl, Florida)

Although we anticipate the stadium to be packed with both sets of fans, the game could be rather a long one for the neutral. Nebraska and South Carolina are not the most dynamic and interesting of offenses (we look forward to when The Clown (Jadevon Clowney) devours Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez, or on the other side when David Shaw is eaten alive by Jared Crick) but both defenses are stout. This is going to be interesting. PREDICTION: South Carolina by 3 in a defensive war.

Michigan State vs Georgia (Outback Bowl, Tampa)

Georgia isn't the second-best team in the SEC, despite the fact that it won the SEC East and played in the National Championship Game. Having said that, the Georgia fans still rabbit in your ear about how well they played in the first half against LSU - and bemoan the fact that Malcolm Mitchell somehow managed to drop a pass that would have seen the Dawgs run up a 17-0 lead. Georgia comes in facing a Michigan State who has been tough all season long. Remember - they've beaten both Wisconsin and Michigan - that's two quality opponents who would have caused some panic in the SEC this year. This IS going to be fun. PREDICTION: Georgia by 4 in a classic.

Ohio State vs Florida (Gator Bowl, Jacksonville)

The last time Florida played in a stadium in Jacksonville that was one half blue, and the other half red they disappointed. The fans won't be happy if it's twice in a row - particularly as the man watching from the other sidelines will be one Urban Meyer, who is now taking the reigns at OSU after a year away from the game dealing with stress  being a pundit for ESPN. Both sides were horrible last season. Florida was horrible because their quarterbacks couldn't get out of injury trouble and Ohio State because their players weren't able to get out of trouble at the start of the season. Watch out for OSU quarterback Braxton Miller though -he's one for the future. PREDICTION: Ohio State wins by 7 in an awful game.

Wisconsin vs Oregon (Rose Bowl, LA)

Oregon is always a lot of fun to watch nowadays, and Montee Ball and Russell Wilson has made the Badgers very watchable in 2011 (unless they are running up the score on your team - which they do). Oregon's offense is going to cause real problems for Wisconsin's 'D' - and Wilson and Ball are going to do the same to Oregon. Expect a lot of points, folks. PREDICTION: Oregon by 10 in a post-Christmas cracker.

Stanford vs Oklahoma State (Fiesta Bowl, Phoenix)

This game is going to be AWESOME. How else could you describe a night when you get to watch the NFL No.1 pick-designate (Andrew Luck) throwing against an amazing offense featuring a NFL first-round pick (Justin Blackmon) and a mature, excellent QB (Brandon Weedon) too. This is going to be fun. Oklahoma State is definitely going to struggle against Stanford's big, burly tight ends, but as we saw in the Oregon game - Stanford could well hurt against OSU's speed - which they have in abundance. PREDICTION: An absolute classic. Oklahoma State by 6.

Jan 3

Michigan vs Virginia Tech (Sugar Bowl, New Orleans)

Both sides participated in 'Games Of The Season' (Michigan's win against Notre Dame and VT's win over Miami). Both have rabid fanbases (if VT will show up for the game - because we know Michigan's will). Both have great mobile quarterbacks (Michigan's Denard Robinson and Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas). Both teams have leaky defenses, which Michigan's and VT's spending a ton of time on vacation this year. But more importantly, both sides can score points. PREDICTION: Michigan by 10, mostly thanks to Denard Robinson

Jan 4

West Virginia vs Clemson (Orange Bowl, Miami)

A note on Twitter made us giggle: "West Virginia fans be warned. All Miami bars require a shirt and shoes at all times". And apart from alienating the West Virginia fanbase with our remark, this game could be quite cool. West Virginia simply needs to get back in the National Spotlight after years of disappointment (I mean, how many times have you heard the Moutaineers being called a 'Dark Horse For The National Title' in recent years before screwing it up?), while Clemson won the ACC despite everyone wondering when they, well, would be Clemson (ie screw it up). Sammy Watkins is going to cause no end of problems for West Virginia's defense, who isn't exactly vaunted. PREDICTION: Clemson by 10 in a high-scoring game.

Jan 5

Kansas State vs Arkansas (Cotton Bowl, Dallas)

With both sets of fans really excited about being there, we just can't wait. We hope that Joe Buck doesn't drone on about Kansas State coach Bill Snyder and try and put him in the next old people's home - he's still got a few years' yet before retirement. Bobby Petrino's offense, though is something else and we look forward to seeing how KSU will be able to deal with the speed that made the Razorbacks once the No.3 team in the nation this season (they also had a 14-point lead over LSU on the road that they subsequently made). Offensively, the Wildcats' offense isn't particularly interesting, but it seems to work - ask Baylor and Oklahoma State for details. PREDICTION: Arkansas by 14

Jan 7

SMU vs Pittsburgh (Compass Bowl, Birmingham, Alabama)

Both sides were 'under the radar' this season (for that read: non-entity) on both their divisional and national scale. Both are missing their leading rushers, and both could have been playing with new coaches had June Jones NOT decided to stay at SMU instead of going to Arizona State. As you can see, we're not exactly flushing with joy at this one. PREDICTION: I go to bed and not watch this game - and SMU wins by 7 to give 'Coach Jones' his 100th collegiate victory.

Jan 8 

Arkansas State vs Northern Illinois (GoDaddy.Com Bowl, Mobile, Alabama)

Northern Illinois' offense is a lot of fun, averaging 38.3 points per game. The team has also endured their fair share of hardship, having come from 20-points down to win the MAC Championship. And this team's on a tear too - it's on an eight-game winning streak.
But get this, Arkansas State knows about tears, too. It's on a nine-game streak, and throws up 33.5 points per game.  For names to check out, look for NI's rushing/passing quarterback freak Chandler Harnish, who threw for more than 2,000 yards and rushed for another 1,000. Yes, you got the numbers right), and Arkansas State's quarterback Ryan Aplin, who threw the ball for - oh - 3,000 yards this season. This one's going to be fun. PREDICTION: Northern Illinois by 7 in a shoot-out.

Jan 9

LSU vs Alabama (National Championship Game, New Orleans)

You remember the Game Of The Century in Tuscaloosa, right? It was the game before that 9 billion articles were written, both coaches were chatted to in their cars, and every college football fan seemed much more excited about THAT game that any others. Funnily enough, if fans had actually switched over to ABC to watch the Kansas State- Oklahoma State, they would have got a more high-scoring, incident-fuelled game, whereas the game in Tuscaloosa was highlighted by bad field goal kicking and a controversial interception call that made you swear that The Mad Hatter had made a deal with the devil before going into that game. This year's National Championship Game - hopefully - will promise more of the same defensively, but we'd like something to talk about in the end-zone, too. We hope that Les Miles is going to use the mobility of Jordan Jefferson to haunt Alabama's line (they struggled when he replaced Jarrett Lee in Tuscaloosa), while we hope that Tyrann Mathieu can deal with Marquis Maze in a way that does NOT include a violent hit in the way that it did when he was facing Dre' Kirkpatrick. Anyway, this one's going to be fun. We hope. PREDICTION: Alabama by a......field goal. 
I spent a little time today making a slide show of our trip to desolation sound this summer. What a great time we had, Matt, Jennie, Dexter and I. Memories never lost.

Desolation Sound Trip June 2011 _- Youtube video

Ready for a fresh start

My boobs are bigger and my underwear keeps riding the crack of my ass.

There is only one reason for this – I have gained weight.

I stopped strictly following Weight Watchers last July. I’ve been able to maintain my weight loss by watching what I eat and exercising regularly. Until I stopped doing that. The past month has been a crazy one and I let go of any and all discipline over myself – partially because for the love of God, I can only do so much!!!! And partially because I knew January was coming.

I’m all about the fresh start in January.
2011 has been a very difficult year. In fact I do not have memory of a year with quite so many setbacks, sadness and demise. I’m not saying there hasn’t been a year this bad before, but if there has I have mentally blocked it out. I’m ready for it to be over. It is hanging on and socking it to me right up to the final days. I’m ready for the dark cloud to blow the fuck away.  I'm going to turn over a new leaf.

I have a plan in place, in my head, of the things that are going to happen when the clock strikes 12 on January 1st, 2012. Normally I don’t talk about the things I’m “going to do”. I just do them. But I feel like I need to put them to paper… or Internet as it might be.

In non-stereotypical fashion, I have been seeking a ritual to perform to rid myself of the nasty that was 2011 and I believe I have found the perfect one.  The ritual goes like this - on New Years Eve, I will take a white piece of paper and write on it all the things that I want to be rid of from 2011.  I will then burn the paper.  Bury the ashes. And then pour water over the burial.  You may think this sounds a little crazy, but it feels right just to think about it, and it's what I need to do to end this shitty year and start the next one clean. 

Other than this ritual, there are other things that need to happen to get 2012 started right.  The first is that I need to see a doctor about this ongoing illness that I’ve been slugging through for two weeks now. It started as a horrid flu and has now developed into a persistent, unrelenting sinus infection. Call me crazy but I kind of think it’s important when you’re giving yourself a new start, that you’re able to breathe.

I think I’m finally going to take the leap and move from Blackberry to an iPhone. I have been hesitant to make the switch but I think it’s going to help me manage my life more efficiently in so many different ways. Probably in ways I haven’t even thought of yet.

Once I’m able to actually breathe again, and hopefully will then have more energy than a slug, it’s all stereotypeical resolutions from there. I got brand new runners for Christmas which I plan on putting to the pavement once again. I haven’t been running in two weeks. I’m ready for the fresh air and sweat and runner’s high. I'm considering rejoining a gym.

Of course I’m jumping right back on the Weight Watchers bandwagon as well. I have been eating whatever and whenever I feel. It was fun at first (sorta), but now I just feel disgusted in myself (yet, I can’t/won’t stop myself until next week). I’m ready to start exercising some discipline and control. I’m looking forward to keeping track of things and weighing and measuring what I eat. I know, it sounds like a total bummer but it’s going to be good. It’s going to feel great.

I am going to feel great.

Christmas...check. (insert brow wipe). New year soon to come, lists to be completed, and an apartment to sell. Today I went through some stuff and packed a bit. The goal is to have everything we have that we are not using on a day to day basis packed up for transport or storage in the next couple weeks. Try to get the document to finalize the boat registration. Once the boat is registered and the apartment sells, we're off.

Going through the stuff today, I realized we have got most of the stuff we need. The other day I went through the tools and maintenance stuff, we got plenty. We even have almost full bottles of two part teak cleaner, which should come in useful on Cypraea.

I hope everyone had happier Christmases than we did, and I wish everyone the best in the New Year.

future project?

an image to covet, by eric tomasson, photographer for the sf ballet. this is the type of creation that makes me giddy. color, tone, shadow and light, texture, setting, costuming, not to mention dancer lines - and the bubbles, that extra unexpected detail that puts the image over the top gorgeous, in my opinion. the color of this reproduction is off, sadly. the question: can i recreate this skirt? i shall wait for a response from my sewing expert. she knows who she is. :)

The Worst Timing

Want to know why I haven't blogged lately?

Because I have been down and motherfucking out.

Last weekend Ruby was sick with the flu.  And don't you just know that Sunday night that flu hit me so hard that I felt I might die in my sleep.  Rather I wished I would.  It was full on, every symptom, full blown flu.

But that's not all!

Monday and Tuesday - when I should have been home, resting, trying to get better for the upcoming festive season - I was at work enduring, single-handedly, a pension audit.  It was an external audit, performed by a very large firm. I have never been through an audit to this degree before and our pension practices have never been audited before.  A simple 8 hour day was not enough.  No, I was at work for 11 hours each day - in pain, aching, skin hurting, eyes burning, shivering, sneezing, sweating, crying.  Yes, it's pathetic but I was crying.

Since then, I've slowly upgraded from the worst flu ever to a severe chest and head cold.

I am physically exhausted. Like, sit-down-on-the-bed-to-put-socks-on-and-fall-asleep exhausted.

You know how when you're sick for a long time you start to get depressed?  Yeah, well... that.

Tomorrow is Christmas eve.  I pulled out the gifts today and realized I'm not done yet.  I'm not sure how I could have thought I was done. Maybe in my feverish delirium I hallucinated having everything I needed to pull off Christmas.  So I guess I'll be out there with the last minuters tomorrow, trying to pick up the stuff I still need.  Thankfully my kids are 3 years and 18 months old and they won't really know the difference if there are only 2 items in their stockings and nothing under the tree is wrapped.

mountains + music = happiness

No words. Just my visual wanderings. - Kerri P.S. Nita, these reminded me of you.

christmas means family

So there we were, the 15 of us, in a 3 bedroom cabin in the woods among lodgepole pines and cedar, miniscule reserves of frozen snow, dark starry nights, fresh bright days, and time on our hands. Amidst the comings and goings, the conversations, illness and wellness, games, music, and even a fire truck, one truth remains: nothing compares to family.

Best. Dinner.
(Thanks Michael for the photo!)

After Much Consideration -The VFA 2011 College Football Awards

Now the Golden Globes nominations are on the table ('Ides of March' for Best Picture - seriously??) and the Heisman Award has been given (we love you RG3!!),  the View From North America (that's the VFA for short, folks) has decided that's it's high-time that we give out some awards of ourselves.

(Before we write this, we'd like to acknowledge that this award will forever be in your hearts, players)


Baylor Bears - We know that they weren't unbeaten, but the win over TCU at the start of the year, the play of a certain dreadlocked quarterback, and the fact that they beat Texas AND Oklahoma in the same season. If you claim that you were expecting this, you were lying.

Runners-up: Kansas State (Bill Synder's making a film - it's called 'Miracle on Purple Street', starring the 2011 Kansas State Wildcats. The finale's yet to be written, as it's going to be staged at the Cotton Bowl against a not-terribly-unimpressive Arkansas Razorbacks team. But we can't wait), LSU (Bring 'em ALL on!), Clemson (Taking their talents to South Beach for the Orange Bowl), Alabama (that defense is beastly), 


Robert Griffin III (Baylor)

Excellence comes with speed and accuracy. And RG3 had a whole lot of both. And he can catch too - remember that play against TCU in the dying minutes of the first game of the year? And what's even more annoying, he's also humble, too. Which we love. Can't wait to see him in the NFL.

Runners-up: Andrew Luck (Stanford) - The fact that he didn't get a Heisman will fall into insignificance after he goes swimming in $100 bills after the 2012 NFL Draft; Trent Richardson (Alabama) - A human wrecking ball for the Crimson Tide; and Russell Wilson (Wisconsin) - Should have been in the Heisman shout ahead of Montee 'Cannon' Ball.


Bill Snyder (Kansas State)

What a season for Kansas State - what a season. Manhattan became a place you actually wanted to watch football this season...

Runners-up: Les Miles (LSU) - Mad he might be, good coach he is; Mark Richt (Georgia) - Survived the fire and got his team to a SEC Championship Game; Brian Norwood (Baylor)


1. Michigan 35, Notre Dame 31- Denard Robinson wins it with two seconds left after Notre Dame goes ahead with 30 seconds left. The atmosphere in the first Irish - Wolverines night game at The Big House was incredible, and the finish matched it.
2. Iowa State 37, Oklahoma 31 - A brilliant game trainwrecks Oklahoma State's National Championship chances. Paul Rhoads makes us all cry with his "I am so proud of you guys speech". World a better place. Again.
3. Stanford 56, USC 48 - A three overtime wonder show from two vaunted Pac-12 teams. The only thing missing was the Hollywood ending (which would have been the Trojans winning!).
4. South Carolina 45, Georgia 42 - An absolute classic where South Carolina proved how good its defense is, and Georgia proved how good its offense is. Had Stephen Garcia behaved himself and Marcus Lattimore not gotten injured, we feel that South Carolina would have made the SEC Title game.
5. LSU 9, Alabama 6 - A defensive war played in front of a very, very loud Tuscaloosa stadium that finished on an OT knife-edge. If you love defense, this was the game of the season.


NC State wins our vote for its amazing 27-point comeback after going down 41-14 early on in the third quarter. They scored 35 points in the fourth quarter. Awesome, eh?


The atmosphere in Tuscaloosa was noisy, tense and tribal all at the same time when LSU and Alabama got together for the 'Game Of The Century' in early November. At times you could cut it with a knife, at times you wanted to cut off your own ear with a knife just to stop it bleeding. And that was just from watching it on TV. We can't imagine what it was actually like for fans who went there.

Runners-Up: The explosion of noise that was Tallahassee, Florida for Oklahoma's visit to Florida State. From the cheerleaders to the co-eds to the game itself.....EVERYTHING was awesome about that game. Then there was Notre Dame's trip to Michigan at night; as well as Nebraska's trip to Penn State the week-end after The Worst Story In College Football Perhaps For A Lifetime emerged. And if we can have a last one, it was at Camp Randall on the opening day of the season. The Miami - Virginia Tech game was pretty nuts, too.


Oklahoma vs Florida State - Awesome for 101 reasons, not all of them publishable. Best sight was frat guys beating the crap out of a car with hammers. The car had 'OU' letters on it.

Runners Up: LSU vs West Virginia - That's what you get when you let Cajuns and Coach Burners loose with each other. Madness ; LSU vs Alabama - One word: Frenzy; Arizona State vs Oregon - Oregon. Cheerleaders. Corso in a ducksuit. How awesome is that? Nebraska vs Wisconsin - Something spectacular was in the air at Camp Randall. We should have known - his name was Russell Wilson.


Joe 'Nuclear' Tessitore (ESPN) - It seemed that whenever Tessitore and Rod Gilmore were at a game, the game was spectacular. It started with TCU-Baylor, then it was Missouri - Arizona State in the 'Black Out' at Sun Devil Stadium. There was something in the air every time these two commentated. He's not looking to go to the State of Oklahoma on vacation anytime soon, after calling OU's upset by (you've guessed it) Baylor and a week later Iowa State's upset of Oklahoma State. Let's hope for more of him next season, eh?

Runners-Up: Mike 'Friesian' Patrick (ESPN) - How many 'Holy Cows' can you get in an awesome Miami-Virginia Tech game at Hokie Stadium? A lot. ; Brent 'Honestly I don't Have Any Money On This' Musberger - The best irony of the whole 'Game Of The Century' Weekend was that the best game was that called by Musberger and Herbstreit when Kansas State and OSU got together.

And now, here's something from the Oregon Cheerleaders (Our Cheerleaders Of The Year)....

Mark Richt Is The Best Guy In the World -NCAA

It must just be Christmas, but when we heard about Mark Richt's citing by the NCAA for minor infractions, all we could do is want to give the man a hug and give him a round of applause.

In a world of fake weed, email cover-ups and child molestation, Mark Richt did something really, really cool.

He paid his assistants because he didn't think they were getting adequately paid by the University of Georgia.

Instead of giving our own take on it, we'll let ESPN's reporting do all the work:

"To former recruiting assistant Charlie Cantor, $10,842 over an 11-month period through March 2011.

• To former linebackers coach John Jancek, $10,000 in 2009 after the previous university administration declined to give Jancek a raise when he turned down a coaching opportunity elsewhere.
• To director of player development John Eason, $6,150 in 2010 when his new administrative position called for a salary reduction after he stepped down from an assistant coaching position on Richt's staff.
Richt also paid a total of $15,227 when the school -- citing "difficult economic conditions being experienced by the University" -- refused bowl bonuses to 10 non-coach staff members: director of sports medicine Ron Courson, video coordinator Joe Tereshinski, strength coaches Keith Gray and Clay Walker, football operations manager Josh Brooks, high school liaison Ray Lamb and four administrative assistants.
He also paid a five-year longevity bonus of $15,337.50 due to tight ends coach Dave Johnson when he took a job at West Virginia in 2008 just short of his fifth anniversary coaching at UGA and $6,000 to fired defensive ends coach Jon Fabris in 2010 when Fabris was unable to find a job after his UGA severance package expired."
Our favorite one of these has to be the $6,000 he gave Jon Fabris when Fabris was unable to find a job after his UGA severance package expired. Thankfully, Fabris has now found work under Charlie Strong as the defensive line coach at Louisville, but Richt didn't have to put his hand in his pocket. He did because he's a decent person.

THIS is why a lot of people love Mark Richt - and these NCAA infractions don't reflect how bad he is - but how AWESOME he is.

Thanks for making the world a lot better, coach Richt.

Registration for vessel attempt 1: all paperwork accepted, even the photos. Missing only the USCG deletion from records confirmation. We're getting on it. At least the process is started and Registration can go ahead but cannot be finalized until they get that document, fingers crossed the US government is as smoothly operated as the Canadian (ha ha ha).

It feels good getting back at tackling little tasks. Definitely going to keep pushing to get everything done, the tropics are calling. Plus I need to start living a more active life, and do some more hands on work. I might sound a little weird, but I like working on boats. Tangible achievements, craftsmanship, and making things look good. When I get down to Florida I'm gonna do some serious maintenance and upkeep while I still have this positive energy.

The soviets had a mantra: "work will set you free" how true.

Catholics, Convicts & The Rest: All The Pre-Jan 2 Bowl Game Previews

After the nuttiness of the New Orleans Bowl, the VFA has calmed down a bit. Thank God.

Anyway, there's a lot to be said for other pre-Jan 2 bowl games out there. So here are the previews:

Dec 20 - FIU vs Marshall (Beef O'Brady's Bowl)

FIU will be happy to be at this one, bearing in mind that's it's going to be practically a home game in St Pete at the (and we can't believe we're saying this) the Beef O'Brady's Bowl. After an eight-win regular season, Coach Brian Norwood may be considering a trip to Hawaii permanently at season-end. But right now, he's a Golden Panther and Kendrick Rhodes, his 1,121-yard rushing machine, will be looking to add another victory to the season. Marshall, who needed a dying-second touchdown to even get bowl-eligible, will be dangerous through QB Rakeem Cato and a nasty defence, which had 28 turnovers last season. PREDICTION: FIU wins by 10.

Dec 21 - TCU vs Louisiana Tech (Poinsettia Bowl)

We all know about TCU. After seeing their own season trainwrecked by Robert Griffin III and Baylor on Week 1, they came back and beat Boise State on its own blue turf to pull off a tremendous upset. Gary Patterson's going to have his boys up to play in San Diego - in its last game before it moves to the Big XII. WAC Champs Louisiana Tech - despite winning seven games in a row - should be worried. PREDICTION: TCU by 21

Dec 22 - Arizona State vs Boise State (Las Vegas Bowl)

The trip to the Las Vegas Bowl must be the red-headed stepchild of Bowl invites bearing in mind where both sides were in early October. Boise State was arguing about a BCS spot, while Arizona State was pretty much nailed-on favourites to win the Pac-12 South title. A couple of months' later, Boise's spot in the National Championship was blown by the wayside after a missed kick against TCU, and the Sun Devils' season - after which Dennis Erickson was fired- went to hell. PREDICTION: Boise by 21.

Dec 24 - Nevada vs Southern Miss (Hawaii Bowl)

Southern Miss by damn! We couldn't believe Souther Miss' incredible win over Houston in the Conference USA Championship Game either - but it happened. Although the bad bit of winning the title was the fact that coach Larry Fedora then got hired by North Carolina, but at least he refused to go to Chapel Hill until after Hawaii. Anyway, QB Austin Davis - who threw for over 3,000 yards and 28 TDs this season is going to cause the Wolfpack all kinds of problems. Nevada will rely on freshman QB Cody Fajardo for a lot of the offence. PREDICTION: Southern Miss by 10.

Dec 26 - Missouri vs UNC (Independence Bowl)

Both Missouri and UNC had middling years. Missouri's two highlights was its move to the SEC
and Gary Pinkel's citation for drink driving, while UNC played all season with interim coach Everett Withers, after Butch Davis' head coaching antics proved too much of an off-the-field highlights for the UNC Athletic Board. Will this game be fun? Probably not. PREDICTION: UNC wins by 7 in a low-scorer.

Dec 27- Western Michigan vs Purdue (Little Caesars Bowl)

The Big Ten gets its first outing with Purdue, who play Western Michigan in what should be quite a high-octane game in Detroit. Western Michigan quarterback Alex Carder threw for 3,434 yards this season and Purdue will be hard-pressed to stop him. But the Boilermakers have a QB in their own with the amazingly-named Caleb TerBush (yes sir, that's a seriously name), who threw for 1,800 yards and led them to wins over Ohio State and Indiana to guarantee them a bowl invite. PREDICTION: Western Michigan in a high-scoring upset.

Dec 27 - Louisville-NC State (Belk Bowl)

NC State's best wins were the 27-point comeback at Maryland and the shock of Clemson a couple of games before the end of the season, while Louisville was in the hunt for the Big East title all the way to the end - but in the end Charlie Strong couldn't pull it out of the bag. Watch out for Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville's quarterback. He's going to be awesome next year - and the year after. PREDICTION: Louisville wins by 7 in a classic.

Dec 28 - Toledo vs Air Force (Military Bowl)

Both Air Force and Toledo have pretty high-octane offences, so this one should be fun to watch. In fact, Toledo's providing so much firepower (they average 42 points per game) that they should star in Top Gun: The Sports Movie. Anyway, they have not one but two quarterbacks who have thrown for over 1,000 yards and a receiver in Erik Page who's grabbed over 1,000. We anticipate Page to go to the NFL. Anyway, Air Force puts up 34 points per game, and Tim Jefferson Jr (1,478 yards and 12 TDs) can provide an arm. This one's going to be fun. PREDICTION: Toledo down - ahem- Air Force by 7 in a game that'll be settled when the first team gets to over 40.

Dec 28 - California vs Texas (Holiday Bowl)

We were meant to be impressed by Texas this year. What we got from Texas was lot of noise about a possible exit for the Big XII, a network that everyone is college football is mocking (heck - it's not even available at the Memorial Stadium), and a team that played well at the start of the season then sputtered from then on. Cal, on the other hand, didn't beat anyone spectacular all season long, but lost the usual heartbreaker - this time against their hated rivals, Stanford. PREDICTION: Cal  by 5 in a game that is big on hype, low on entertainment.

Dec 29 - Notre Dame vs Florida State (Champ Sports Bowl)

Catholics! Convicts! We can't wait! Pre-season, it seemed like this might - just might - be a BCS match-up. Florida State went into its game with Oklahoma ranked No.5, while Notre Dame started the season as No.16 with many suspecting that a good run would see them happily in the Top 10. Sadly, FSU lost a heartbreaker to Oklahoma, and then two more to Clemson and Wake Forest. They never found the Top 25 after that. And Notre Dame? A horrible losses to South Florida (turnover central) and Michigan (heartbreaker in the Game Of The Season) downed the season pretty much before it started, and then losses to USC and Stanford took them to 8-4. FSU will have to watch out for Irish receiver Michael Floyd, and the FSU has EJ Manuel's arm, and athleticism on both sides of the ball. PREDICTION: FSU by 2 in a dying-second squeaker.

Dec 29 - Washington vs Baylor (Alamo Bowl)

The Alamo Bowl has had two bits of good news in the past few weeks. One: They've got a team from Texas playing there. Two: That team happens to feature this year's Heisman winner, who wears pretty cool socks. Anyway, we can't wait for Robert Griffin III to show his stuff - again - in the Alamo Bowl, and although Washington's been decent this year, we can't help but think that Baylor has the edge. PREDICTION: Baylor by 10.

Dec 30 - BYU vs Tulsa (Armed Forces Bowl)

Both sides can put up points, averaging 30 points aside this year. We're trying to get excited for this one - but on the list, we can't. Why? Because the last time we saw BYU, they sucked (TCU). PREDICTION: BYU by 7.

Dec 30 - Rutgers vs Iowa State (Pinstripe Bowl)

Just imagine ISU coach Paul Rhoads making the speech "I am so proud of you guys" - after winning the Pinstripe Bowl against the Rutgers - in the Yankees home locker room. Poetic, isn't it? Speaking of Iowa State, their season was highlighted by a wonderful, National Championship-ruining victory over Oklahoma State, while the best moment of Rutgers season was all about the pitch - the walking onto the field of one Eric LeGrand, who was sitting up in a seat. Sports Illustrated gave it the Best Moment of 2011. We agree. PREDICTION: No dry eyes in the house for this one. Iowa State wins by a field goal.

Dec 30 - Mississippi State vs Wake Forest (Music City)

MSU flattered to deceive this season. Despite being a sexy pick for a better bowl, the Cowbellers finished with a 6-6 record and were the usual after-thought in the SEC West. Wake Forest's biggest headline was being on the receiving end of the Clemson heartbreaker in Tiger Stadium, when they lost by a field goal. Even if MSU wins, the smallest hand-clap in the world may be for Dan Mullen. PREDICTION: MSU wins by 10.

Dec 30 - Iowa vs Oklahoma (Insight Bowl)

We've said some pretty nasty things about Oklahoma, and even if Oklahoma do as we think they are going to and beat Iowa handily (and we think they will), Sooners' fans should once again look at this season as a missed opportunity. PREDICTION: Oklahoma by 17.

Dec 31 - Northwestern vs Texas A&M (Meinke Car Care Bowl)

After blowing all of those 10-point first half leads, the only thing that has made Texas A&M fans crow this year is a move to the SEC. After all, after losing the biggest game of the season (Oklahoma State) and the 'Big One' against Texas, there hasn't been a lot to laugh about off the field. As for the Wildcats, we still love Wildcats' quarterback Dan Persa, and what Pat Fitzgerald's done at the team. Of course, we would love to see him take the reigns at Penn State, but that ain't happening. PREDICTION: Northwestern with the upset - by 7.

Dec 31 - Georgia Tech vs Utah (Sun Bowl)

We are psyched about seeing the triple-option again, particularly for a team that made it look so damned fun when they beat Clemson in Atlanta. Utah this year has found that the Pac-12 is a real  step-up for them, and they are going to find Georgia Tech's offense - something that they've never seen this year - a lesson too. PREDICTION: Georgia Tech by 10. 

Dec 31 - Cincy vs Vanderbilt (Liberty Bowl)

The Liberty Bowl in Memphis is going to be sold out to Vanderbilt fans, who don't see their team at home very often. This season, the Commodores have been one of the better stories of the year, celebrating bowl eligibility like they were going to the National Championship Game (You see! It DOES pay to play Wake Forest at the end of the season!) and giving head coach James Franklin an extension that he thoroughly deserved (Vandy's 2-6 SEC record could easily have been 4-4 with a little luck). On the other side, the Bearcats claimed a share of the Big East title thanks to quarterbacking of Zach Collaros, who threw for 1,854 yards and 14 TDs this year. PREDICTION: Vandy's fun ends in tears. Cincy by 10.

Dec 31 - Illinois vs UCLA (Hunger Bowl)

If there's a Dec 31st bowl game to get excited about.....this wouldn't be the one. Illinois recently fired Coach Ron Zook - despite doing UCLA a big favour earlier in the season in knocking off Arizona State, while UCLA's Pac-12 South win proved to be fruitless bearing in mind their back-to-back crushings by USC and Oregon. UCLA's end-of-year record, by the way, means that they are the only team in this round of bowl games with a end-of-year losing record. Hunger Bowl? Hunger to turn this one off, more like? PREDICTION: If anyone cares, Illinois will win by 7.

Dec 31- Virginia vs Auburn (Chick-fil-A Bowl)

The Virginia Cavaliers pulled off one of the shocks of the ACC when it beat Georgia Tech in Charlottesville on October 15th - and the Cavaliers fought their rivals from Blacksburg all the way for an ACC Championship Game spot (they lost the finale 38-0 at home, proving how big the gap still is in the ACC Coastal Division between the Hokies and the rest). Having said that, sophomore QB Michael Rocco - who threw for nearly 2,400 yards and 11 touchdowns - has been a sensation. His problem will be to avoid the Auburn secondary (he threw for 11 interceptions, too). The Cavs defence will also have a problem in Auburn running back Michael Dyer. PREDICTION: Auburn wins in a great closer for the New Year. 

Now, back to the Catholics vs Convicts rivalry...

carol of the bells, for cello

My favorite Christmas carol by my favorite cellist, Steven Sharp Nelson, mixing it up with fresh cinematography...

Well that was quite a start to the Bowl season, wasn't it?

Let's try and forget that Penn State is trying to find themselves a coach and that Ohio State is taking them all.

Let's try and forget that the Jerry Sandusky nastiness continues, and Joe Paterno looks worse and worse in every thought in terms of ignoring what happened.

Why? It's bowl season, and suddenly the mood is just a little lightened for us at the VFA.

Here are some points:

1) If you don't think the 'small bowl games' are important, then check out University of Louisiana-Lafeyette kick Brett Baer's reaction after nailing a 50-year kick that gave the Rajin' Cajuns the win in the New Orleans Bowl. And what's more, check out the freaking crowd's reaction. You think it doesn't matter to them, either?
But that wasn't all - the Cajun fans brought along around 90% of the 42,000 crowd in the New Orleans Bowl. We know that sort of crowd is going to be nothing compared to the National Championship Game, but who cares, the number was fantastic!

Or from the crowd itself (and the VFA doesn't excuse the language, but heck, at least this cameraman knew what he was talking about)

2) The end to the Ohio - Utah State Potato Bowl game was quite honestly, nuts. Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton (say that after a bottle of Southern Comfort!) runs the ball from one yard, giving the team a surprise victory. It was Ohio's first win in five bowl appearances. The Utah State Aggies must be used to heartache, after their biggest game of the season - the Auburn Tigers - ended in tears, too. But they will rebuild.
If the Potato Bowl offers this kind of game year in, year out, then sign it up!

3) Temple got only their second bowl win in school history after beating the crap out of Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl 37-15. The defence was excellent (three INTs), and Bernard Pierce who ran for 100 yards and 2 TDs.

Oh, and we're also loving this Nelly song. The Paul Rhoads video? Tears to the eyes.

Jennie and I went up to the sunshine coast to see Matt's place. What a beautiful and peaceful place, I can see why he wanted to live there. On they way back we stopped off at Sergeant's Bay and Dex was having some serious fun dunking his head under the water too pick up sticks that had sunk. He won't swim, but he'll entirely submerge his head... What a character.

Oh Christmas Tree...

Having a kids birthday in December makes the busiest month of the year all the more busy.  Still, I have vowed that we don't bring Christmas into our house until after Ruby's birthday on the 13th.  I think it would be hard enough having a birthday in December, I always want her birthday to be about her and Christmas can wait until after.

Funny, it was the day after Ruby's birthday that I even started to feel twinges of Christmas spirit.  Either I've conditioned myself to shut out Christmas until the 14th, or the stress of a 3 year old's birthday had lifted and I was open to feel some Christmas joy.  Either way, we put up our stockings and got a tree this past Friday and I went on a determined shopping spree on Thursday afternoon and got most of everything bought.  I also owe some sanity to online shopping this year - that shit is handy.

Decorating a Christmas tree with two toddlers is an interesting experience.  Things happen that you don't anticipate - and I tried to anticipate everything. Once the tree was home, Steve and I poured ourselves a couple glasses of Christmas cheer and I made us a plate of nachos to nibble on while we decorated.  While we were doing that, we heard the twinkling noises of fragile things breaking in the other room.  The kids had managed to open the boxes of decorations and Lincoln was single handedly testing each and every decoration to see which were breakable and which were not.

Thankfully he hadn't yet made it to the box of ornaments that were expensive or had sentimental meaning.  I found that box, taped it shut and packed it away - deciding to take those decorations out of rotation this year.  

After the nachos were made, I was stringing the tree with lights when I heard Lincoln crunching on something behind me.  I turned around expecting to see him eating a nacho but he had a shard of broken ornament in his hand and was standing watching me decorate, while munching on it casually.  

And so the decorating pretty much stopped at the lights.  There are about 6 unbreakable ornaments and a few candy canes hanging high on the tree and we've decided that's good enough.  I'm calling it the "minimalist" look this year...

Hey - on the bright side, it's going to be super easy to take down and put away.
Today was the hardest boat ride of my life. It was 1 mile, of glass calm water, and no swell. Why was it such a difficult boat ride? Well the motor ran perfectly the entire time, but it was the destination. My Dad and I took our little boat Matt was using back to the cabin. So many times I have travelled the same route with Matt during the last 22 years. It was very hard. I took a couple pics of my Dad and me and the scenery, the weather fitted the solemn mood.  Man do we look a wreck.

Good thing tomorrow's a new day.


the last new baby of my career? one should never say never, but this session was an entirely entertaining way to close this chapter, at least in theory. true to the laws of photographic-life, equipment did not perform as expected. but really, there's always a go-around if one is prepared for the unexpected. perhaps parenthood taught me that lesson. 
meet the whitakers, a family filled with laughter and ease, willingness and flexibility, art and vision - and a beautiful six-month old baby girl. thank you michelle and julian. your full gallery (including the outtakes!) is coming :)
 daddies make fantastic assistants

Michelle...check out the turnout:

This is Blue. Everywhere we went, he went. He's a Lab you know.
 Sometimes we need to stop for lunch. Or, a nap. :)
 At some point, baby is simply done. Sometimes we can get one more shot...
so...Michelle, "do you see what I see?" 
 And this one is for Julian, who took it for the team...