This reenactor showed Finley how a real quill pen works with actual black walnut ink he made himself. He then showed us his collection of flintlock muskets and rifles, explained how he bakes bread as the pioneers did, and generally humbled us with his knowledge. I have no desire to dress in buckskins and wool in August, but I have nothing but respect for men like this. We put the paper he wrote Finley’s name on up on the fridge, and it makes me smile.
Our friend Christopher is in town this weekend, so we took a trip to the American Visionary Art Museum on Saturday afternoon for some brunch on the roof and then a tour through the exhibits. As usual, there’s an astounding selection of work there, and I think Finley enjoyed seeing the show.
We then returned home and I took the drone out for a spin in the ballfield with Chris and Finley, and got some stick time in with propeller guards installed. I wound up dumping it on its side anyway, and one of the blades hit the guard and shattered but the drone itself was fine. Then we wandered down to Jennings’ Cafe for a late dinner and called it an early night.
The Lockardugans had a busy weekend and I think we were all paying for it Sunday evening. We were invited to the neighbors’ for a Cinco De Mayo party on Friday, which meant margaritas, Mexican food, piñatas, and staying up late. We all had a good time, although Finley had a run-in with an older boy outside which turned out bad for him; two other girls stepped in and helped her fend him off. When she was asked to explain what happened, she sat calmly and rationally outlined her side of the story, which I don’t think the other parent was expecting (her kid was hiding behind a pillow). Her story never changed, and she stood tall in the face of pressure. She is such a confounding mixture of clueless disorganization and razor-sharp self awareness, I don’t understand how the different parts of her personality exist in the same brain together. But hearing how she carried herself, I couldn’t have been a prouder father–and we made sure to tell her so.
Saturday we had the Morrisses in from Easton, which was fantastic; Finn and Zachary got along like best buds the whole day. We drove into the city to check out the Science Center, but first had a delicious lunch at Encantada, the bistro on the top floor of the American Visionary Arts Museum. Sadly we missed the kickoff of the Kinetic Sculpture Race by a couple of hours, but the Science Center was relatively quiet for a Saturday, and we got to check out all three floors of exhibits.
One area I’ve never been to with Finn was the Kid Lab, where eight tables are set up with different science experiments to accomplish. Finn and Zachary extracted plant DNA, did a blood test, and checked out a bunch of different slides under a microscope. And rocked a pair of lab coats.
Sunday I got up to mow the lawn in preparation for my neighbor and a friend to come and split more of the wood in the backyard. We’d rolled three of the big 36″ rounds on their sides last fall so that they wouldn’t suck water up out of the ground on their flat sides. With the splitter running, we made pretty short work of each of them and filled his truck twice. I was working on getting a bunch of the smaller pieces down to size when the shear bolt on the hydraulic ram gave way. Luckily I’ve got a bunch of Grade 5 and 8 bench stock from working on the Scout and had it fixed in about 10 minutes, but soon after that we called it a day. There are only a few pieces left–mainly a few medium sized stumps and one huge round that was cut too thick to go in the splitter–and a huge pile of bark.
I also took fifteen minutes to put the soft top hardware on the Scout (the hardtop came off two weeks ago, just in time for the rain) and get a bunch of smaller stuff in the garage straightened out, as well as putting a new wheel on the barrow I got from Mom & Dad (the original rusted through at the hub, which made it impossible to use).
Finally, I filled the feeders on Sunday morning and let the birds discover the new seed; within two hours a squirrel was poking around at the base of the poles. I took one shot and nailed a female, who got bagged and thrown in the trash. There were more outside this morning, and they will soon meet their maker.
I’m home with a sick monkey this morning; we have confirmed Finn has strep, while I’m recovering from a respiratory infection and Mama is fighting off both of them as best she can. Keep your fingers crossed for us.
Who broke down and cried about riding her bike for a half an hour, petrified she was going to fall and break her arm? Who then battled her fears, faced them head on, and was riding laps around the elementary school parking lot by herself on Sunday? This girl, that’s who.
The fifth graders at Finley’s school are trying to fuck up Christmas for my kid. They’ve been whispering in her ear about Santa and now she’s having doubts. She spent the last month fishing for answers from us, saying things like, “If you and Mama were putting things under the tree and telling me they were from Santa, you could tell me, and that would be OK.” It makes me feel like a serial killer. I can’t wait for THAT conversation when it finally comes. Plus, once we’ve admitted it to her, she is the kind of kid who will find it impossible not to share The Truth with the rest of her classmates. So, Jen and I schemed for weeks and hatched a plan to make this a memorable Christmas.
We decided that because Santa got all the glory last year with the bike, we were going to take back 2016 with big guns. Finley draws pictures of cats constantly. She plays cat games with her friend from school. She was asking for a cat five minutes after we put Pique to sleep. We’ve been waving her off since that time, enjoying the absence of vet bills, cat hair, and litter underfoot in the basement. This past month, she saw a commercial for a robotic cat on Cartoon Network, and asked Santa to bring her one.
Jen scouted out the local shelters and pet stores, and found a fresh batch of kittens at the local Pet Smart. She picked one out and took me to take a look, and she was right: the kitten was a beautiful little tabby with white socks, and she purred the moment I picked her up. While we discussed the paperwork, her littermate looked up at me and pawed at the door of the cage: a jet black boy with gold eyes and a small blaze on his chest. I picked him up and he immediately started his motor, reached up and batted at my face, and then crawled up my shoulders. I was smitten; he reminded me of Teller. So we walked out with two instead of one.
What followed was three weeks of subterfuge and skullduggery; the kittens were boarded at the piano teacher’s house while we prepared the surprise. We borrowed the neighbors’ dog kennel, set it up as a kitten hotel, and after the kids went to bed on Christmas Eve Jen went out and brought them back to the house. Meanwhile I’d built a box with a removable lid that Jen wrapped with a bow, and I preset some cameras on either side of the tree. Christmas morning, we had Finley open Santa’s gifts first and then she opened several clues: two sets of cat bowls, a scratching pad, and some toys. While she got through the last of those I wrangled the kittens into the box and placed it down in front of her, quiet mewling coming from inside. As it opened her eyes got big, and as she reached in the black kitten shot out of the box over her shoulder. She pulled out the girl and held her in her lap, and that made the whole thing worthwhile.
Santa brought her some cool stuff too, but 2016 will be known as the Year Of The Kitten.
…writeup to follow (click the link to view the video).