Sunday, April 26, 2009

Connecting With Friends, High Heels, and Finding Diastatic Malt

We had dinner with J&P and K&G, and it was fun. One of those things where we haven't seen those guys in ages, and rekindling the connection requires overcoming a little inertia, but what always ensues is a good time and a desire to keep the connection alive. We'll see where this goes.

The weather was fabulous on Friday, and as usual, it was a mad scramble just to get out the door. I cut wood in the AM while the kids played together, then we had to complete several tasks before hitting our friends house. First off, we had to make salsa for the meal, then drop MG's stuff off at SG's, then drop of CB's bike, then pick up chips because I left them in the darn car, then over to J&P's. It was a bit of a scramble, but we got there around 4:00 and the kids immediately took off running. It's incredibly fun over there, they have a fantastic layout and everyone enjoys it.

PD came home soon after I'd arrived, and we all set about prepping the BBQ. I resolved to avoid alcohol so I brought along O'Doul's, setting myself up for scorn but at some point you just have to stop caring what everyone thinks. The food was great, though a lot of red meat, and then we hung out by the fire and made s'mores. It got really cold by nightfall, but everyone had a great time, we enjoyed seeing old friends, and then we came home.

I did my usual shopping gig on Saturday, though I was pressed for time because instead of getting my usual early start, the kids wanted to go to CB's to play and I waited until they were dressed and ready to take them over. So I was about two hours later than usual, which meant that I had to battle the crowds. I also tried to take care of some business. I just bought logger boots and had a huge issue with the arch, or what I thought was the arch. In actuality, the problem I had was with the high heel. I didn't realize they were so high, but it hurt my foot. I assumed it was a defect in the shoe, and went to Dann and Whit's to get an exchange, but it wasn't the case. It was something I was going to have to live with, and I gained a whole new appreciation for women's high heels. Anyway, I managed to resolve the problem, sort of, by using padded inserts and lessening the angle of decline. I've yet to test it in the field, however.

Also scored some diastic malt. The only place that has this stuff is King Arthur, and I got two bags. I was going to give one to Kei, but am not sure when I'll see her again. I'm interested in how it will affect my bread.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Lessons in Being Adventuresome, Car Troubles, and Spring

The weather has been unusually warm, and not wanting to be a whiner, but also not being able to help it, it's too darn warm. And I'm from California. According the bank thermometer in Lebanon, it was hovering around 93 degrees yesterday, which must be some sort of record. I no-likey. Too hot for my New England-ish bones. Either way, it was beautiful, and once the sun began it's descent, it cooled off and was actually lovely, but the heat might portend a brutal summer. We shall see.

We're having car issues, and it's one of the top ten things that bums me out. Especially out here, you really need your car. What to do, what to do. I'm hoping Bob's can take us on Monday and then we'll make do. I don't want to think of the expense, though I did find my receipts for possible liable parties, so that's a plus. Car troubles are such a bummer, especially when you only have one.

We were at DHMC yesterday and after dropping Ruth off, we hit the Coop and then the library (Return of the Jedi came in) before checking out the DHMC playground. The weather was so nice, we had to check it out. After playing on the jungle gym (a nice one, cedar instead of plastic), there was a huge boulder that the kids wanted to play on. It was about six feet high and had fairly sheer faces, but not so bad that we couldn't climb it. N had some trouble, however, and he tried about two dozen times with no luck, though he was close. We encouraged him to keep trying, and he didn't want our help. It probably inspired him that his older sister pulled it off, so he kept at it. Mom showed up and it was time to go, but I really wanted to stay to give him ample time to try. He said he wanted to give it one last go, and he ran and scaled the rock in one smooth motion. I was so stoked, it was so cool, and we celebrated in grand fashion there on the playground. He was beaming, as were we, and it was a great way to end the day.

Then it was off to Boloco to feast. I love that place, but I have to confess, I'm not as patient with the kids who congregate there. For a number of reason, I'm sure, Boloco is a hangout for high school kids, which is fine, they need a place that's cool, hip, and affordable to go. But something about these bored, rich Hanover kids makes me wary, though only with our kids. I'm sure these HS kids are fine and well mannered, but like all of us, everything changes once you're in a group, and they tend to be loud and a bit obnoxious, and speak of of inappropriate things using inappropriate language. I realize they're just kids, and that I was even more obnoxious when I was in high school, but I just feel defensive when our kids are around and try to avoid the hs crowd. Such is life. We still had an enjoyable meal, though mom and A complained of tummy aches.

And then, of course, we had car trouble, though we made it home, taking the scenic route on street level rather than the highway. Have to call Bob's on Monday.

At the Coop, our kids encouraged me to be more adventurous, something we always promote to them. We were getting vitamin C powder and I was ready to get the usual (orange or raspberry), and the kids complained that we ALWAYS get those flavors. So we got a little crazy and went with something completely alien to me. Achai berry, whatever that is. I love it when my kids remind me what life is all about, which they do every day.

Today I'm hoping to cut some wood, though it's supposed to pour. We shall see. Until then, thanks for reading.

BTW, Rob sent me his rough draft for my homepage. Looking good, and maybe soon I'll be legit.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Still MIA, but Life Goes On

WOW, has it really been a week? Time literally slips through your fingers. I don't know where it goes. I have been neglecting my blogging duties to focus my time in other blogging duties, and I feel sort of bad for it, but there isn't a lot of free time out there. And, these other gigs might make me some dough, however small it may be.

Okay, so what's new and exciting. I still haven't dealt with certain homeschool issues while tackling others, but such is life.

We went over to G&T's yesterday and had, as usual, a really nice day. It's just a lot of fun going over there because of the animals and the woods and the kids can have fun and be carefree. They don't realize it, but what an idyllic childhood, to have access to all that nature and open space, sharing it with good friends. That's what being a kid is all about.

I'd made ratatouille for supper but GS offered to make some burgers and I brought along some hot dogs and sausage. Yesterday was R's yoga night, so we had lots of time, and rather than break up the meal or lose the chance to share in a family favorite, I put the ratatouille in the fridge and my wife and I winged it for supper. I at a tiny burger at G&T's but was still hungry, so I ate more at home.

I enjoy hanging with my mentor #2, vs my mentor #1 GL. It's complicated. He offered to come over and help me cut wood, but I felt bad having him come all this way. Interestingly, when he offered, I bit my tongue and avoided my usual default response of declining someone's help outright and realizing that, like myself, people really do want to help out when they can. So I said fine, but maybe another time. Truth be told, I feel that his part of my personal journey and want to tackle as much of it as I can on my own.

Spring is full swing in the air, and I've heard that we're supposed to get temps in the 80's by Sunday. Hard to believe. Speaking of Sunday, MG said she wanted to come by on Sunday to pick up a pitchfork she's left behind, and it dawned on us that she really is taking advantage of our allowing her to return here when she feels like it. She needs to move on, but is unable to. I've thought about talking to Scott about it, but am not sure what to say.

It's not a big deal, but it makes life a little awkward. It wouldn't be so bad if she weren't so darn scrutinizing, but what are you going to do? I'd just as soon not be here.

Just wanted to mention that A has learned Country Roads and When the Saints Come Marching In on guitar. How cool is that? T-ball and horses start next week, so be prepared.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Blogging and Narcissim

writing, and particularly blogging, seem a bit narcissistic. At least for me, not unlike looking in the mirror each day, I check and see who has been reading my stuff, which is ridiculous not to mention a waste of time. Good thing I don't have a hit meter.

Though I've been blowing off this blog, my apologies, I have been blogging on other sites and I continually check to see where I rank and whose been commenting. In all fairness, it's good to keep track of the comments to respond, but there is an ego element involved.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Busier than Busy and Contradance

Did I mention that I finally got my chainsaw and feel like real man? I asked my kids if I looked like Paul Bunyon and they said, "Who?"

The thing is, now that I've got my saw, it's one more thing to deal with, and I'm not exactly swimming in time. Yesterday we had a busy day, and even though you're tired of hearing about it, I'd like to share with you what we did. We were supposed to have HS tennis in Hanover, but weren't feeling so well because it's been a busy, social week. There are two major immediate projects on the home front and they both take a lot of time.

First, the woodpile. It's going to take me awhile to get through that, and I can only squeeze in a couple of hours each day, if I can even do it each day. And then there are the clapboards on the back of the house, which will eventually all have to be painted. Yikes!

So yesterday, knowing that we had all these things to do, not to mention being exhausted and having contradance that night, I made the executive decision that we were not going to make it to tennis. I knew the kids wouldn't be broken hearted, and sense that they were almost dreading it.

We had breakfast as usual and then we went outside. N wanted to play games but I told him I had real man work to do, and being the real man that he is, he said he'd join me. I spent the morning hours cutting wood, but at some point around noon, I knew I had to stop to make lunch. Since the weather has been so beautiful, the kids always lobby for the picnic lunch, which I dread because it's more work for me. And, of course, I always relent because it is nice out, and it's not such a big deal, reminding myself that life is about the little things.

After lunch, I had to wash dishes and then go to work on the clapboards. The one bonus was that we were planning on going to contradance so I didn't need to make supper. As much as I love to cook, I find that making meals (and the subsequent cleanup) takes a huge chunk of time out of my day, not to mention the disruption in the flow of my work.

Anyway, enough of my whining. After lunch and doing the dishes, I did a quick cleanup of the house, which is much tidier when the kids play outside, and threw in two loads of laundry because the weather was so warm and breezy and I couldn't pass up the chance to dry them on the line outside-our first time this season. A seminal moment, though hanging clothes on a line takes up a lot of time. Just for the record, we don't have a dryer (our conscious decsion), so have little choice in the matter.

I then set to work on the clapboards, knowing that I had about three hours before having to get my act together. I spent a lot of time last year learning to do clapboards, and though I'm still a novice of the highest order, I at least have a better sense of what I'm doing, which streamlines the process immeasurably. I know what I'm looking for, and thankfully after taking off a few layers and peeling back the Tyvek, the plywood underneath was not rotting. In fact, it was in surprisingly decent shape, so I set about applying the ice and water shield.

The day was beautiful, but my daughter, who has been tracking and studying the weather as part of her HS science work, told me it was going to rain on Saturday, so before getting the kids ready for the dance, I had to haul pallets and tarps over to cover the exposed frame. Life in New England never lets you slide, but it makes you a better person for it.

I still have a lot of work to do on it, not to mention needing more i&w shield and clapboards. We have my mentor #1's truck, so I can jet over to Brittons and get them, though I'm staying away from cedar and will go with primed softwood. A lesson I learned last year, go with primed clapboards, they save you time and money in the end.

By 4:30, I had to round the kids up and hound them to get dressed. Just a quick note, life was actually easier when we did everything for them, like putting on their clothes. You'd think it would be simpler to have them just get dressed, but it always involves a great deal of coercing, wrestling, and finally breaking out the bigs guns, i.e. threats, bribery, and extortion, to get them to do what you want them to do, even if it's something they really want. How ironic is that.

We drove out to Woodstock for the dance and the kids really have a good time. I'm sort of mixed on the whole thing. We have some really good friends that go and we love to see them, but the dance is really a Waldorf scene, and as I've mentioned, I feel like a persona non grata in Waldorf circles, mainly because I don't talk the talk. They don't go out of their way to make me feel this way, they just are adept at completely ignoring me and excluding me by default. No malice involved, just lack of sensitivity. Mind you, they are not all like that.

That may be changing, however. There was definitely a more mixed crowd than usual there, with what looked like a large contingent of hip, consumer-conscious kids, some of whom had cell phones that rang during the dance. Scandalous! Maybe contradance is heading in a new direciton, the result of its growing poplularity.

I also wanted to mention that my wife and I (while holding our son, mind you-he refuses to dance) danced with the son and daughter of a family that comes regularly and has something like ten children. I don't know anything about them except that I've been told they are a "sect" family and it's clear that they are religious. Whatever be the case, the kids are really nice, and very mature. I've actually danced with one of the boys, who is I believe a tween, and we had to hold hands when we danced - this is the nature of contradance, lots of hand holding and switching partners. To his credit, he didn't blink and eye and just went with it. When I was his age I would have run from the room screaming. We also danced with the one girl in the family, a teenager I believe, and she was very sweet and very spunky. A really cute kid, with loads of personality. Go figure.

Today is Saturday, market day, but I've got to also stop by Lavalley's and get more i&w shield, and then to the WRJ Coop to get our copy of Transition Towns. Later in the day we'll head over to Hanover for some work and library time, then off to our favorite eating digs, Boloco. We love those Summer and Classic burritos. It's when school's out so the place isn't such a zoo.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to our kids for the great pics.

Friday, April 17, 2009

MIA and Catching Up

I've fallen into that pit of despair known as falling behind. Excuse me for my absence but I haven't been blogging because I'm busy trying to make peanuts writing for other places. Then again, there's always time to blog, right? Not unlike the relative (in this case, my loser brother) or friend who apologizes for not returning your messages over the past year because he's been too busy.

Yeah, right.

Either way, I've been writing for four different blog sites, aspiring to get a piece done every day. It ain't easy, and I find myself writing constantly. It really reminds me of having a job, you get up, work, and then keep working. What makes it hard is that I've got so much other stuff to take care of, especially on the home front. Besides watching over the kids, there is a ton of stuff to be done on the house and the yard. And there's our massive social life, which is really draining me.

Actually, it's not too bad, but we've been busy with friends, and now I may have to bail out on HS tennis because we're not feeling well and it's a bit of a trek. So sorry about that.

On the home front, we've been doing well. A has really taken to the guitar, I think she's overcome the pain threshold and can do her chords. And best of all, she's motivated, or should I say, inspired. In fact, I'm wondering if we should at some point ditch the open-G tuning and play in a normal way, but I'll adhere to the program, for now, because it's worked. We've now got four chords in our repertoire, enough to play Country Roads, which she belted out yesterday and it brought a tear to my eye. It was so friggin cool, I couldn't believe it. Lessons are slated to end in two weeks, so I think I can take over at that point and we can learn together. It will inspire me to pick up my guitar more, as well.

N has not been so keen on the strings, and has alluded to wanting to play drums. I was resistant at first, but R thinks it would be a good fit, and it if speaks to him, then we're all for it.

We went to G&T's house yesterday and as always, had a great time. I think of GS as one of my mentors and enjoy just hanging out and talking to him. He's so knowledgeable and wants to help in any way he can, which is a good thing for someone like me who needs loads of help.

We've seen CB a lot, and that's been great. With the warm weather it's been a lot of fun playing outside.

Tonight is contradance, so we'll see how that goes.

I went to the school the other day to get some info on standardized tests and to check in with the superintendent.

We had a great Easter and had an egg hunt and made Easter Bread.

GOT MY CHAINSAW. Time to be a real man.

I have been writing like a mad man.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hop Performances

We went to the Hop performance of the Paul Taylor Dance company last week, and I have to confess that I wasn't blown away. I know they are the real deal, and we were lucky to get to see it, but it had me scratching my head a little. I hate to be so boorish and uncivilized, but somehow it struck me as banal and mundane, as if they were just running around the stage. Not as provocative as I'd thought, though what was interesting was the social commentary on societal stereotypes. In that sense, their message was clear.

The slapstick humor just never really worked for me, and this was no different. BUT, it did appeal to the kids, so that's all that matters, so I'm not complaining. And we got to hang with our buddies, the Mack's, so it was a nice day.

But I still don't get it. Then again, I run into this a lot with modern dance.

Homeschool Issues, Homestead Issues, and Playing Guitar

I still can't get over how cool it was watching our daughter play guitar. I got such a huge kick out of it, and yet we haven't picked it up since. Shame on me, but we still have time. She tried practicing the other day but I didn't have time to tune her guitar because I was cooking/cleaning/dealing. There's never enough time. One note-the CD that goes with the lesson plan is kind of sucky because they don't give you enough time to tune the guitar. In a bit of a moronic move, the tuning is off, so if we tune our guitars correctly, they sound different than the CD, and the class is based on the CD, so we are off with the rest of the class. What a pain.

So I've decided that the CD is a worthless, and will tune my guitar and then have the kids tune their guitars to mine. I'd like for them to figure out how to tune their guitars by sound, something I'm incapable of, but they are young enough to learn the proper way. This is more of a pain because it takes more time, but such is life.

On the homeschool front, we've decided to enroll A to take the state standardized test in the Fall. It requires that we register with the school and get all the test prep info. It will help us fulfill some of the state requirements for certain subjects, but not all, so we'll still have to put together a portfolio. In the end, the test is more about having a sense of where we are, and where we'll be going.

I've also learned that I need to register our homeschool status with the district superintendent, something I should have done at the beginning of the year. This will require a visit to the school, which is a pain because once again, it takes time, but you do what you gotta do.

A quick cool note on the homestead front-I've been torturing myself over the chainsaw debate because they cost several hundred dollars and I was worried that my wife would hit the roof over the cost. I was wavering over two models, one more powerful but also more expensive, when R gave me the thumbs up for the bigger model, saying the difference was not so bad and maybe it was better to get the better machine. Wow, I was so stoked. Good vibes to be had by all.

Now I just have to do it. Hopefully some $ will fall from the sky into my lap. I wouldn't complain. We are also going to address my father in law's wish to try out his new stove pipe. I'm not sure what to make of it, but I'm sure it works well, because R doesn't mess around, though at times he might benefit giving more thought to form over function, especially when it comes to home furnishings.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Spring is a Wonderful Thing

Wow, the weather has been beautiful, and we've really taken advantage of it. In fact, the kids have pretty much spent the entire past few days outside, and it's been great. They can't wait to get outside, and I can't say I blame them.

The temp has been hovering in the mid-50s for the past couple of days, though there is still a bit of snow on the ground. It's funny seeing things pop up out of the snow after a long winter-gloves, hats, toys, etc. I've been keeping busy with yard work while the kids play like crazy. They were nursing head colds but that didn't stop them from playing all day, and the warm weather helped.

Now that the snow is receding, however, the yard is a bit of a mess, and I'm going to have to do some serious clean up. I've already begun the process of raking and clearing out the debris in the flower beds and around the house, and it sure feels good to be outside and staying busy.

I had this cool revelation the other day in the yard that since this is our house, we can do whatever we want to it. That sounds worse than I had intended. I'm not trying to say that we can go crazy and change everything (actually, we can), but more to the point, we can change things as we see fit, and make the modifications that we choose. This includes painting the house a different color if we choose, not that we would, at least not at this point.

The problem we have is that MG is still around and still has her sights set on this house. I know she's out there spying on us, and every change we make is scrutinized and will be commented on accordingly. We can't let that stop us, but it does make us aware, and at some point she'll stop by for a visit and give the place the once over. But what are you going to do?

I had these thoughts as I cleaned up the yard and realized that I could clear away as much of the growth as I wanted. I know MG said that they preferred to leave the woods alone and let them evolve accordingly, and that's fine, but if we want to do it differently, that's our right. With that in mind, I set out to clear out some of the debris and growth that I didn't like to make things a little nicer in appearance. I had no idea what I was doing, but it sure felt good. There is a lot to maintaining a landscape, not mention a lot of hard work.

In a good way, of course. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

for the record, I have to make contact with my blog-pic people

Writing for Money and Still No Website

I've been neglecting my blog because I've been attempting to write for money, if you can believe that one. Sure, it don't pay much, but it pays something, and for what little I actually make for the effort, I have to compensate by making greater effort. I'm not complaining, I just need to keep my feet moving and keep producing content. For all it's worth, I like the writing, it's right up my alley and I am moving towards finding my voice. It's also interesting, so you can't beat that, except if it paid more. My goal was to write a piece a day, if not more, but it ain't easy, so I keep plugging away. As I mentioned, my blog will suffer accordingly.

Speaking of suffering, RR has completely blown me off, and I'm wondering if the time has come to make contact. I haven't heard a peep from the guy, and it just so happened to have coincided with when I did him a favor and connected him with RJ. I know that's not what's going on, but the timing is immaculate. Either way, I sit and wait. I was really excited about getting it done and felt it couldn't be done soon enough, but I've lost my head of steam and now I'm not as enthused. That's not to say that I don't want to get it done, and perhaps my lack of drive is rooted in the fact that I've been really busy. I.e., I'm not complaining, because things are happening and there is a lot going on.

In the meantime, RR, where are you?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Guitar Progress, Being Aware, and Consistency

Just when you thought things were not going according to plan, suddenly the clouds part and something tells you that things aren't so futile, after all. I say this because I can't quite gauge what our kids feelings are about guitar. We never practice, which is partly my fault, but I figure if they were inspired, they'd do it on their own. We had class yesterday and in the AM I was kicking myself saying, "$@#&*, we haven't practiced." Then I have to make an arse of myself by alluding to ending the lessons if we're not motivated, to which my ever witty daughter replied, "But dad, I was ready to practice yesterday but you never got around to it." My bad, I know, but there was so much going on... excuses, excuses.

My point is, we decided to get a quick practice in before class. We tuned our guitars and sat down to play. A cranked out Buffalo Gals and it brought a tear to my eye. She's definitely picking up something, and her strumming was beautiful, her timing right on, and though we're playing in open-G tuning, which requires almost no cord transitions, it does require one, and she nailed it. And she sang beautifully. It was pretty incredible, and made me realize we are on the right track. Slowly but surely we're moving to where we want to be, and I myself feel inspired.

Class went well, the teacher is great, and we are making friends. There is a girl our daughter's age who is beginning to click with her. Heck, they are the only two girls in the class, so it's not so unheard of. I also found out that some of the kids will be taking homeschool tennis, so we could very well see them more often. Good vibes all around.

Just wanted to note that I haven't been exercising my hyper-acute-awareness, or HAA, and can feel the anger and frustration bubbling up at times. Have to work a little harder on it, though I haven't been necessarily losing it with the kids, the potential is there, and I don't want to go there. Besides, when I'm in a foul mood I can be a complete dick to people around me, and I always regret that.

More later on our homeschool dramas, but suffice it to say that we are so far on track. Then again, what does that really mean.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Reunited, HS Art, and Answering to the Powers That BeS

We finally got to see CB again, and like always, it's feast or famine. We go days with no contact, and suddenly, she and our kids are joined at the hip. It's kind of fun, kind of crazy. The kids went over there on Monday and yesterday she came over. She always passes subtle hints to watch TV, especially since she hadn't seen Star Wars, yet, though I wasn't about to be the one to show it to her. Let her mom and dad confront that one. Our kids loved the movie, BTW, and I'm glad they got to finally watch it. Now, of course, they are asking incessantly about the Empire Strikes Back, but one thing at a time. We'll probably hear from CB at some point in the next day or so, which is nice.

It makes me think about when I was a kid and it was always hard having friends over because not only were my parents totally against the idea, but our house was always messy and my parents were the type of adults that embarrass the hell out of their kids, so having friends over was never fun, unless the units were not home, and they were always home. I want our kids to feel comfortable inviting friends over, and I want our home to be a fun and comfortable place for their friends to visit, so we go out of our way to be inviting, even when it's not so easy. And for someone like me who is exhausted and has the weight of the world on his shoulders, it's never easy, but what in this life is?

We had homeschool art and it was a lot of fun, as usual, but what really struck me was how nice the kids are. They really are considerate and thoughtful about sharing and including kids that are not part of their inner circle. They are not selfish, and it makes it nice for all the other kids involved. Good parenting going on there. I think KS alluded to it being the last one for awhile because she'll be busy, but that perhaps DE might take over and do some outdoor stuff. I feel like I should take the inititiative and come up with something for them to do, but it terrifies me, and I don't have the faintest idea what I would do.

Then again, the fact that I am afraid of confronting it makes it all the more important for me to do just that. We must seek to do that which we feel we cannot, to paraphrase E. Roosevelt. We shall see.

Got lots of homeschool issues to attend to, BTW. I have to register our kids for standardized tests with the school, and I just learned that we screwed up and didn't register our status with the school superintendent. Not sure what the consequences are of this, but I need to do it. This week... yeah right.

SG has been very helpful and I may have to pay him a visit at the school. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Kent Murray for the pic.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Our Town

We had a great opportunity over the past week to really get a feel for what a great town we live in. It's such a nice community of wonderful people, I don't know where to begin. Small town life with big city influences, because people here are fairly eclectic and cosmopolitan.

Yesterday we attended the memorial to Barbara Sargent, it was a wonderful celebration of her life with music, food and dancing. It seemed like a fantastic idea to remember her, and a testament to the person that she must have been. My only regret was not meeting her, and there were opportunities because she owned one of the local swimming hole. It just goes to show you that it behooves you to be involved in your community, she was a pillar of hers, and to celebrate the lives of it's older people, because they are not only deserving of your time and compassion, but a lot of them have amazing stories to share. They've seen so much.

The town came out in full force, and though we saw some of our friends, what was really striking was the number of people we didn't, for the life of us, know. As small a town as it is, it's pretty eclectic, but that's what makes it interesting. The kids actually had fun as some of their friends were there and they got to play, though I was a little uptight about getting to crazy at a memorial. Then again, even though I didn't know her, I like to think Barbara would have wanted the children to have fun.

The previous week we attended a meeting about transition towns, and it's an interesting movement that I feel has validity and importance, especially if you think about the state of the planet. What they are all about is changing the way we live and think more in line with sustainable living that promotes strong communities, healthy living, and a cleaner environment. All things that we hold close to our hearts.

I'd like to do more investigating into it and be more involved, and even get the kids involved, but we'll take it day by day. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Jan Kratěna for the pic.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Seminal Moments of Youth, Pizza Drama, and First Ride

In what must surely be a rite of Spring, we broke out our bikes and went for our first ride. The conditions were terrible, with plenty of mud and water, which meant the kids had an absolutely fabulous time. Something about kids and dirt, they just go together like peanut butter and jelly. Our driveway is a complete disaster, and every day they go out there and get knee deep in the stuff. Then, before mom gets home, I have to clean up not only the children, but the path of destruction they leave in our house. Oh well, such is the life of a parent. I'm not complaining, as long as they're safe and having fun, and mom doesn't get to see the wreckage the minute she arrives. Got to keep the peace.

We went for a nice ride, and I still think the town, and for that matter, the entire planet, should do more to encourage walking and bike riding. It's one thing to ride on dirt side roads, but once we get to the main road, the traffic is light but you become acutely aware of how fast people can drive. To their credit, they give us a wide berth, but it's disconcerting when all that traffic is whizzing by you and your kids. If it were just me, no problem. If they had a bike path, however, and one that was far off the road, then I'd be a happy camper.

Either way, we stopped by Cobb Hill and hung out, but there was nobody around, so we then jetted of for the rec center and played by the now defunct skating pond. The kids decided the thing to do was wade into it like it was a pond, and they got soaking wet. Rather than intervene and make a big stink, however, I warned them beforehand that there were consequences to being wet and riding a bike, not that they ever listen to the likes of me. And sure enough, N fell in while trying to mount his bike, which was too close to the drink. Soaking wet, uncomfortable and angry, he declared, "I want to go home." Of course, it was all my fault for even suggesting we go there. Just a quick note-I'm thinking he may need a bigger bike soon, because his little bike is too slow and he can't keep up with his sister. She takes off and is miles ahead of us, which makes me a little uncomfortable. If he could get just a little more speed going, life would be good. Not that it isn't, already.

We had a seminal moment in any kids life and watched Star Wars for the first time as a family. I can't believe that movie is thirty years old, but as we watched it, it just seemed to scream the 70's. The kids loved it, though we have to finish it tonight. We got a pizza and had ice cream and had family movie night, which is always a blast. We've found it helps to put the cats in the bedroom so they don't invade our picnic. The last time they were all over the place and I, in typical dad fashion, ended up knocking over everyone's drinks.

We picked up a pizza at our favorite place, Pizza Chef, and they gave us the wrong pizza. I should have checked it, but we go there all the time. When we got home, what was staring back at me was nothing even close to what I ordered. I knew it was for us because I always ask for it to be cut into 16 pieces, but boy were they off. It was, however, serendipitous, because everyone loved the pie, and we tried something new because we were forced to, and it worked out beautifully. Also, if I'd made a stink at the place, it would have taken more time to make another one, they would have felt bad, and we wouldn't have ventured into new territory, so it was a good thing.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Blazej Pieczynski for the pic.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

French Lessons, Guitar Lessons, Fun in the Big City

We finally made contact with the Macks and it was good to see them. The kids are doing well and her oldest is off to Ivy League college, a nod to homeschoolers everywhere. Congrats to her and TM, nice job, but most deserved of a dedicated set of parents. Then again, there was little doubt that things would work out. Some big changes on the horizon for the entire family.

Spent a nice day in Hanover yesterday, and there was a good chance it wasn't even going to happen. Just a quick note-we haven't heard from C in awhile and were wondering if everything was okay, but that's our neurotic voice talking. We shall see.

Anyway, the Howe was offering an after school French class and I thought it would be nice to expose the kids to some real immersion in the language, so I signed up our oldest, figuring that I could just hang out with N while the class was in session. When we got there, however, the teacher, Madame G, saw Nicholas and invited him along for the ride. I could tell that he was not at first into it by the fact that he was sinking his nails into my arm and wouldn't let go, but to her credit, Madame G was not going to give in. She really encourage him to join in, even though the class was supposed to be for first and second graders, and he gradually warmed up. I stuck around to make sure he was okay, which I was later told annoyed him to no end. He ended up having a blast, and it was once again something the kids didn't want to do, but did, and enjoyed immensely. Just goes to show you, sometimes you just gotta try it before you decide.

We'd love to continue along in the same vein, but the Ray School French program no longer exists, though Madame G still teaches, so maybe the thing to do it contact her directly. She made the experience really fun and exciting for the kids. Denise said she knew of another French tutor and would find out more for me. Thanks.

Guitar lessons were earlier in the week, and that's been going along slowly but surely. Again, the kids really like the lessons, and I think it's because it's with other kids and it's taught by a kid. Makes it more fun and rewarding. They have shown a lot more interest in the instrument, as well, and though we are a long ways off from playing cord transitions, they are learning to strum and tune the guitar, which is huge. Just a quick note-the teacher's dad commented that N seemed to have an ear for tone, which made me beam with pride.

The key is for us to practice, at the very least, tuning, but better yet, playing cords. It's funny because all this time I had been tuning their guitars (and mine) incorrectly. They are using a method that employs open-G tuning, of which I had no clue. I tuned our guitars regularly, and it just didn't sound right. I had to call my friend K in San Fran to explain it to me, and then it all made sense. Essentially you can play a G cord by strumming the open strings, and then you modify how you play the other notes. It's cool, though we'll have to relearn the cords when open-G is no longer in season. It's just good to have them interested and playing.

We're supposed to see G and I'll talk to him more about firewood possibilities. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Dariusz Daras for the pic.