Postcard Every Day

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My daughter is off at camp for a month. The camp is great about making sure campers are off the grid. No cell phones or connected devices are allowed. They can’t even make phone calls on the camp phone for the first week. They do, however, have good old-fashioned mail.

I love mail. Getting a personal letter or card is a small gift. I used to often write letters to many friends. I rarely do that now. We send out holiday cards and I occasionally send a postcard, but I have succumbed to convenience and speed. I use email, text, Facebook messenger, what have you. While my daughter is at camp, however, I mail her a postcard every day.

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I have two rules for these postcards. First, I put one in the mail every day, even if it is Sunday or a holiday. If I do it right, as I did this year, I start mailing them a couple of days before she leaves. That way she gets one on day one. The second rule is that the postcards must be adulterated. Some of them are pretty good postcards. The one above is a painting I love, on display at Shelburne Museum, but it needs captions to fit within my rules.

My daughter comes home next week. That means I stop sending her postcards soon. That takes some pressure off, but it is pretty fun to do so will miss it. My son is talking about going to camp next summer. That will mean possible double duty–two postcards per day if the are away at the same time. It would take some mental wrangling to come up with interesting modifications but, after three summers of practice, I think I’m up for it.

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Snow at Last

White Stuff in the Viewshed

Finally we got some snow yesterday. We spent an hour or so outside as a family last night tossing the stuff at each other. We got wet. We got chilly. We slept well. Today we had good reason to play. We sledded. We skied on the hill and in the field. We had some good fun. The temperature never got all that high. It was in the single digits by the afternoon. Still, we could not stay in all day. The wood stove did its duty for us today.

The temperature should get below zero tonight. We will snuggle down and sleep well again. We will still have snow again tomorrow. The parents in the household need to decide if skiing is worth it with wind chills in the negatives. Skiing? To be determined. We will play one way or the other. I just hope the snow sticks around.

Proud Parent

My daughter had a holiday concert this evening. She was one student of all the students in her grade and the grade above hers, singing and dancing. They had practiced for weeks and tonight was the big night. It was a packed gymnasium where they performed. It was fun to watch and to hear, and the kids had lots of fun.

She was a little nervous when we left–not worried so much as anticipating that she would have to do something in front of others. She knows already that she wants to please others, to show herself in a positive light, to do well.  And of course she was stellar. She sang right out. She smiled the whole time. She looked around. She laughed. What more could a parent ask?

At one point her class sang as a unit. I watched her sing, smiling all the while (both she and I), and I felt a pang of proudness. I had a feeling of how quickly time passes, how she will grow to do wonderful things and lead a fine life, and how I will remember this moment more than she will remember it. I felt proud of her standing up and doing her best, enjoying life in that moment. I was genuinely happy, from within as well as for her. I didn’t just feel the small pride of a parent that comes from watching one’s child do something for the first time or trying hard to accomplish something. There was something more there. It was a flash of the future, an emotional glimpse of the power of the world that is hers now and will be as she grows. For just a moment, time flared out and tingled over me.

I am sure there will be many more moments where she performs in a group or even on her own. I will feel proud then as well, I am sure, but when she ran out of the building afterward, as I walked with her brother in the cold air, and jumped into my open arms for a huge hug, I held onto her and to that earthly briefness tightly, knowing that it will not be long before I remember how long ago this night was. And she may not remember it at all.

In a short while I will look in on her sleeping. I will feel proud, and I will love her as much as one can love one’s child. I will her as long as I am alive to do so, and I will miss that child when she grows up. Tomorrow I will be sure to make meaningful the moments we share, and to let her know again that I am proud of her, and that I love her. And both of us will be better because of it.

Going to Sleep

Ah, the woes of being a parent. My two children seem to be having some trouble falling asleep.  Some commennts they have made recently while they should be falling asleep:

I think I heard something.

I can’t stop thinking about bad things.

I have a question: Can I have two cookies in my snack tomorrow?

I have to tell you something: Why does Mars look so rusty?

I have something else to tell you: Tonight, Jupiter was the only planet in the whole sky.

Can I have a band aid for my cut? I cut myself when I was playing with the Playmobil horse.

Today, at school, I found some treasure in the sandbox and no one would let me keep it.

I don’t want to go to school tomorrow.

I can’t wait to go to school tomorrow.

I have to return my library books tomorrow.

Before you got home we could hear a mouse over by the art table, and you know what? At school, Kristen told us that one time she was with her lawyer and a mouse, I mean a squirrel, popped its head right out of a hole in the wall and she screamed!

How soon is it until Christmas?

I don’t know what I should dream about tonight.

For Christmas, I know just I should order from Santa–a tractor!

I’ve tried everything I can think of to fall asleep but I still can’t fall asleep; I’ve tried to lie this way and that way and do everything and I still can’t even though I tried really hard.

I have to go poop.

When you gotta go…

Learning Personal Finance

We went to the farmer’s market in Hinesburg yesterday. I emptied my wallet. I didn’t even get all I could have gotten, but our bag was full and the kids were antsy. Next time I’ll bring two bags. And make the kids carry one.

This market was great. I arrived with my two children right when it opened, at 9:00. It was held in the Hinesburg Town Hall. There is a summer farmers market weekly but once the fall hits it whittles down to once per month. We missed the one in October so I was eager to be there for this one.

I purchased leeks, onions, potatoes, garlic, spinach and other stuff. I was happy enough. I was looking for food. My daughter, however, was looking to spend some money.

I had told her I would give her some money so she could buy some things herself. The space is small and I figured it wouldn’t be crowded first thing. So I gave her five bucks and told her she buy whatever she wanted. We did a lap to start us off, to see who was there selling what. We tasted a purple carrot and looped back around. At the first vendor she bought a delicata squash, a tiny one, but cute and just right for her. A couple of tables down she bought some popcorn. It was purple, still on the cob but dried, four ears for a dollar. She bought four. Then she bought some of those purple carrots. She considered a stone charm, but it was five dollars and she didn’t want to blow it all in one shot.

This was great for both of us. She felt a sense of responsibility and I felt safe with her learning some lessons in how to spend money. I really don’t think I could have said no to anything there she may have said she wanted to buy. It was a farmers market.  She wants to buy carrots and mini squash? I’m good with that. She wants to but some jewelry made by someone here in town?  I’m good with that.  She wants to buy honey, jam, hand spun yarn, fresh bread, eggs? How can I say no? It was ideal.

She is now the eager one, asking when the next market will be. There is one every Saturday somewhere around here. The next one is in Burlington, then Winooski, Shelburne, and back in Hinesburg again. And there are  others well into the winter. My daughter would gets the shakes if she saw all the vendors in Burlington compared to little old Hinesburg. I’m thinking we may have to take advantage of that. I can give up five bucks for this endeavor for several weekends if she is still into it. I have been wanting to go to these this fall and winter anyway. Fresh local food this late in the year? I can go out of my way for that.

The eggs we bought yesterday and way good, and I turned cauliflower, spinach, garlic and leeks into a fine dinner tonight. And the popcorn? Pops white, tastes great. And that was just one ear. That popcorn may have been the best deal of the lot.

Transcript: Interview with my Son

ME: So what do you want to be when you grow up?

HIM: I want to be a scientist.

ME: A scientist. So what do want to study as a scientist? What do you want to learn about?

HIM: I want to learn about water.

ME: Water. What do you want to learn about water?

HIM: Well, I can learn about what happens when you put paint in it.

ME: Oh yeah? And what else do you like about water?

HIM: Well, I can do a lot of different experiments with water.

PAUSE

ME: So what is your favorite thing to play?

ANOTHER PAUSE

HIM: Outside

Then he started off into space. That was the end of that.

Photo Deconstruction

I let my son handle the camera for the first time yesterday.  He has seen me use it, and his sister.  He has see lots of photos.  So he has a basic understanding of what to do and of what makes a good photo.  But could he take a good one?  His sister has managed to take some winners.  So I had high hopes. Here is his very first one, and what I make of it:

The Boy's First Go at the Camera

The Boy's First Go at the Camera

First, notice that he did his best to aim at what he identifies as me.  He did cut off the top of my head.  Well, OK, he pretty much beheaded me.  But he is not tall.  He is a kid.  He looks at my torso more than at my face anyway.  So I think he was going for what he wanted to capture.

Notice as well the framing.  He didn’t place me in the center of the frame. I am off to the side.  In this way, he is able to include some of the background to give the subject some context. Smart kid, that.  The mail waiting to go out, the uncapped water bottle, the clock on the wall–all are clues to what this scene is about.

Notice as well the dorky sweater.  It was cold in the morning and I tossed that thick baby on to keep from getting chilled.  But by taking the photo when I am wearing it he will have some fuel to rib his old man down the road.  “Look at that dorky sweater!” he will proclaim.  “You were/are so uncool.”

You may be able to tell as well that the focus is soft.  He was going for a warm look.  As I said, it was cool in the house, so the slightly less than sharp focus lends a somewhat homey quality, makes it feel warmer.

So he got it all right.  He took a video later in the day, when his sister got off the bus.  That was a hoot.  He’s got potential.  Do we have a filmmaker in the future?  Or a photojournalist? Or maybe just someone who knows how use a camera?  Time will tell, eh?