Monthly Archives: July 2014

Weekend Meanderings

Sometimes it seems like we only have a handful of weekend haunts… we go to the Quabbin, or Bear’s Den, or the Chesterfield Gorge.  A couple of weeks ago, we decided that we really needed some fresh places to explore, so we pulled up a website of Massachusetts State Parks, and looked for a waterfall we could visit.  There are actually a couple that looked promising, so we chose the closest one and set sail.

We ended up going to Sanderson Falls in the Chester-Blandford State Forest.  There was a mile-ish uphill hike to get there, and there was a beautiful waterfall with plenty of rocks and trees to climb around, on, and in.

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It’s so hard to see the scale of a waterfall in pictures! What we need is something to add perspective.

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Much better!

The kids all ran right up to the edge and started climbing rocks.  I played the role of photographer and sent my trusty sidekick, Nate, to make sure no one fell to their death.

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Here they are still at the bottom. My heart rate hasn’t increased yet.

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And here they are working their way down from the top. My heart rate has already peaked and is now starting to slow to a more reasonable, but still highly unhealthy, rate.

We had a nice time exploring, and then a pleasant downhill hike back to the car.

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This shot was taken from a bridge above the stream.

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The only downside to this area is that there’s no good place to picnic.  We ended up spreading our picnic blanket between our car and another in the parking lot.  Klassy.  But it worked.  Next time we’ll try to find a nearby campground or something that’s likely to have picnic tables available.  And there will be a next time – we’re thinking in the Spring when the river might be running higher and the waterfall even prettier!

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New England Parades

A few weeks ago, we went for the first time to the Strolling of the Heifers in nearby Brattleboro, VT.  What is that, you ask?  Well, I asked the same thing to my Vermont friends.  I said, laughing, “What?  Like cows really stroll down the street?  Ha!”  Well, it turns out that yes, that’s what it is.  But it’s not just that.  There are cows, and jugglers, and dancers, and more cows, and marching bands, and more cows.  It’s hilarious.

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Brattleboro is such a cute, quaint little town… it somehow doesn’t seem odd to see cows strolling down the middle of Main street there.  We had a great time and plan to attend again next year!

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Baseball

Unlike Lydia, Aaron had absolutely no interest in playing baseball this year.  He played Coach Pitch last year, which was basically just a bunch of kids who lined up behind home plate, took 45 swings, finally hit a bunt, and ran all the way around to home plate.  He had seen Lydia’s Farm League games the past few years, and was just not interested in any way, shape, or form.

So I pulled out the big guns.

“Aaron!  How’s about signing up for Farm League this season?!”

“No, thanks.”

“I’ll give you twenty dollars.”

“Hmmmm.  What else?”

“What did you have in mind?”

“Ice cream whenever the ice cream truck comes to the ball field.”

“Done.”

“And Friendly’s ice cream whatever I want.”

“Done.  BUT you have to go to every game and practice WITHOUT COMPLAINT or you get nothing.”

“We have a deal.”

Maybe not my finest parenting moment, but it really worked.  He kept his end of the bargain, and ended up having a great time.  One of his good friends ended up on his team (a fine bit of finessing on my part), and his coach was a really nice older man who is the grandfather of another of the kids on the team.  All of the kids listened well and behaved themselves and they had a really fun season.

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This is Aaron’s “ready stance.” Hilarious.

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When I saw this shot, I immediately thought how great it would be next to his catcher’s uniform in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Lord help me.

When I asked Aaron at the end of season picnic if he’d like to play again next year, he gave me an enthusiastic “Yes!” and then proceeded to beg me to take him IMMEDIATELY to Friendly’s for his “anything you want” ice cream.  We held him off for a few days, but he got his payoff in the end!

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Softball

In the past, I’ve complained long and loud about the difficulty of baseball/softball season.  It happens during the busiest time at school – just when the year is wrapping up and there are multiple end of year responsibilities and activities, concerts and ceremonies.  Piano lessons are wrapping up for the summer, which includes practicing for and participating in a recital.  The last thing I want to be doing four nights a week and one day on the weekend is attending one, or sometimes two, sports events.  Particularly when said sports evening happens right during the dinner/bedtime window when we have to be up and out the door at 7:30 am the next day.

So I started this season with a feeling of intense trepidation.  This was Lydia’s first season of softball.  For the last two years she played Farm League baseball.  She was the only girl on her team the first year, and one of two the second year.  She loved it anyway, and asked to play again this year.  When I suggested that she try softball, she said, “What’s that?”  I said, “It’s almost exactly like baseball, but it’s all girls.”  Her face lit up and she jumped up and down with joy.  “Yes!  Yes!  Yes!”

So she met her team, and started going to practices, and took the season very, very seriously.  The team was made up of girls in 3rd through 5th grade, so there was a wide range of experience and talent, but no one put pressure on the girls (other than themselves, of course).  It was interesting to see the differences between Farm League and softball.  The kids pitched, score was kept, rules were argued.  Her team went to the tournament and came in fourth in our area.  They were so proud of themselves!

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She’s stealing home!

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Coming in for the slide. And….. SAFE!

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When I watched Lydia out on that field I was so unbelievably proud of her.  Her head was so in the game, she knew what to do, she wasn’t nervous, and she didn’t second guess herself when she struck out or missed a catch.  I think she has a great future of softball ahead of her, and I can’t wait for next season.

 

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Thomas Jefferson

I had never been to the Jefferson Memorial – just seen it on TV and the movies.  The last time we were in DC, it was so unbelievably hot, we couldn’t even imagine walking all the way over there.  It’s really not that far… but somehow when it’s 90 degrees with 90% humidity, mileage gets multiplied by at least 10.  Anyway, I really wanted to see it this time, and I’m glad we did.

The building itself is beautiful.  It’s very classical looking, and open.

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The statue of Jefferson is situated in the center of the rotunda.  He’s larger than life, and you can walk all around him.  There is text that runs around the inside of the rotunda, all the way around, that reads, “I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

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Aaron in particular was captivated by Thomas Jefferson.  He carefully took pictures of him from every angle:

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No, he’s not taking a selfie. He’s 7.

I was actually quite moved by this memorial.  More than any other, this particular memorial made me proud to be American.  There are four quotes from Thomas Jefferson’s writings about the birth of our nation positioned on the walls around the rotunda.  This one in particular caught my attention:

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In case it’s too hard to read in the photo, here is the text:

I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions.  But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind.  As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change.  With the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.  We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

What incredible foresight.  There’s no way Jefferson could have envisioned the scientific and technological advances that have occurred since he helped author the declaration of independence and the constitution.  The International Space Station!  A map of the entire world that fits in your pocket!  Yogurt that comes in a pouch!  But nonetheless he acknowledged that our society would always be changing and evolving and that our laws and governance would have to be flexible to accommodate that.

I know I don’t often wax political on my blog, but I can’t help contrast the intelligence and foresight of Thomas Jefferson with the right-wing norms of our day.  The rigidity, the thought that a certain population knows what is best for everyone, the lack of learning and understanding about the scientific truths evident in the world.  All of that flies in the face of what our founding fathers intended.  I keep thinking about the “originalist”  method of thinking about constitutional law.  These are the people (some of them on the Supreme Court) who believe the Constitution is a static document that should be adhered to exactly as written.  This flies completely in the face of what (at least one of) the Founding Fathers intended.

I think it’s time for  a Supreme Court field trip to the Jefferson Memorial!

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Our Nation’s Capital

My schedule at work is a bit different this summer.  One of the great things about my current employer is that they allow me to be very flexible with my work week.  As long as I somehow work my 30 hours, they aren’t particularly concerned with how I do it.  So, I’ve arranged to have Mondays off over the summer, working longer days on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  So, I happened to have a Friday through Monday off of work a few weeks ago.  Nate got the same days, and we decided on a whim to go to DC with the kids for a mini vacation.  One day of driving, two days of site-seeing, and then the drive home.

It had been four years since we were in DC, so the older kids had hazy memories of it, and Aaron didn’t remember it at all, being just three the last time we were there.  We stayed (in an economical fashion) on the outskirts of DC and took the metro in.  And then we walked, and rode the hop-on hop-off bus, and walked some more, and ate, and went to museums.  It was hot, but not overwhelmingly so.  Here is some of what we saw:

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The Washington Monument

This is one of the few views of the Washington Monument that doesn’t include a giant construction crane.  I searched long and hard for a good shot of the monument.

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The Lincoln Memorial from the Potomac side.

I think the Lincoln Memorial is one of my favorites.  The structure itself is nice and very classical looking, but there’s something about the sculpture of Lincoln himself that is very calming.  Even with the incredible bustle of people and voices magnified by all those hard surfaces, when you’re standing there, you almost feel like you are somehow connected to that piece of stone.  I don’t know how the sculptor did it, but wow.

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We ended up taking a river cruise down the Potomac, and got to see the monuments from the other side, which was fun, and a nice way to rest our feet for awhile.  Here are Nate and Jake enjoying the cruise:

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Is that a monument behind you or are you just happy to see me?

We had never been to the FDR memorial before.  It’s actually quite large, with many different sections commemorating his different terms as president.  Here is Aaron with his likeness.  Apparently, there was quite an uproar with the memorial was designed because they didn’t show FDR in his wheelchair, so the statue was redesigned, seating him in the wheelchair that he designed himself:

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Aaron begged to climb up in his lap, but I wouldn’t let him!

Here is Lydia cutting to the front of the bread line:

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Bad Lydia! No cutting!

 

We had also never seen the Dr. King memorial – it’s new since we were last there.  It’s quite impressive, with a massive Martin Luther King, Jr. sculpted within a giant chunk of white granite.  You walk through a huge rock with a fissure through the middle, and then there he is.

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The beauty of the hop-on hop-off bus is that it went a lot of places that we wouldn’t have ventured if we were limited to our feet.  We decided to go to Arlington Cemetery.  I’ve only seen it in the movies and on television.  It always looks so quiet and peaceful.  Apparently they aim their cameras away from the mobs of tourists.  And there were a lot of them (us!).  But, if you look past the tourists, you can see how beautiful it is:

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The Eternal Flame, which I can’t say without turning it into a Bangles song.

One more shot – I took this from the bus, and I LOVE the picture.  This is the Old Post Office, with Benjamin Franklin, the original postmaster general, standing guard outside:

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A bit more to come next time…

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True Love

Having been married for almost 18 years, sometimes I feel that my life is lacking in romance – that spark that we had when we first fell in love.

And then comes an evening after a very, very long difficult day when the kids are all over the place and there are a million things to do, and my beloved walks in the door with a grocery bag, and I say, “The least you could have done was tell me you were going to stop at the store!  I would have asked you to pick me up some Ben and Jerry’s!”  And he reaches into the bag and pulls out a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.

Now that’s true love.

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