Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Walk: Toddler Edition

Clara and I went for a little hike down a gentle ski slope. Her mom had warned me that Clara would need to be carried back up - she did not warn me that Clara would insist on hiking barefoot!!

Here, she is soothing her feet in the little stream generated by a morning rain shower.

Apparently, nobody told Clara that fall foliage is to be enjoyed through the eyes, not through the mouth. I think she's a bit confused about why I grabbed the leaf away from her (though the evidence still clings to her chin):

On the way back up the hill, I guided Clara back through a different route -- more gentle and paved. I carried her for about 30 seconds, but she managed the rest of the trip on her own. Good girl!

Here's a sample of the early fall foliage:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Lincoln to Lincoln

When I called to reserve a car, the agent asked me if I wanted a "mid-size" car. "No, no," I said. "I'd like a small one." So when I got to the rental place (near Lincoln St.), I was given a choice of an SUV or a Lincoln Town Car. Um, okay. I chose the Lincoln, which seemed somewhat more manageable. It was a black, shiny, brand-new town car. Perfect for a limousine service. I was nervous to drive it, but drive I did.

At the resort, we made a fairy house from bits of bark and moss and other plants. Lee was pretty into it, although her parents did most of the heavy lifting so to speak. Ruth was fierce with the glue gun.

Clara towers over the final product, but we didn't let her do her King Kong impersonation. She's clearly thinking about it.

It was a great weekend, though all too short.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Skating and Napping

Astute readers of this blog may have discerned that my life seems to revolve around skating and napping recently. This is true. There may be other ways to combat the intense lethargy I've been experiencing, but these are the two closest within reach.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I wasn't on duty today at FAPC, so I agreed to sub in for a friend who ushers at one of the evening services at Redeemer. One thing led to another -- a deacon subcommittee meeting was scheduled at FAPC, I agreed to sub in for my first "side by side" experience, and then Jacky pressed me into ushering when he saw me about to sit down and enjoy a service without any assigned tasks -- and the next thing I knew, I was serving at 9:30, 11:15, 12:15, and 5:30. So this "day off" somehow turned into a huge church day. As Dr. Tewell might have said, I think there's a lesson in there somewhere.

Friday was MJ, quite lively though I didn't like the way my curries turned out. Saturday was closet-cleaning in preparation for my houseguest, plus a trip to the library and a quick skate around the park.

Now it's simply beautiful out, so I'm trying to decide between a nap and a blading jaunt and a long overdue room-cleaning. Wonder which way I'll go on thiszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz......

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Good Day

Friday was nice - good progress at work, a walk through Union Square in the evening (past long lines out the door for Trader Joe's wine shop and food shop), and finally got to see Wall-E.

Saturday my hike was canceled, so I ended up going to an officers' reunion at church. Some funny speeches and nice musical performances, and it was nice to see everyone, but I was so tired and really a little sad. The evening was much more fun after a long rain-assisted nap.

Today was our big day at church, the "homecoming" after summer travels. First day with the new senior pastor. Baptisms and communion. Seemed to go well.

Then it was so spectacularly beautiful in the late afternoon, I skated 8 miles up and down hills before doing errands.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Come, Labor On (Part 1)

Sunday evening, I hopped on the ferry for 24 relaxing hours in New Jersey. So familiar, except for all the new developments and ranch houses that have turned into McMansions. I stayed with Becky & Bob, and we had the chance to spend time with Bob's family as well.

On B&B's porch, a squirrel seeks an early morning coleus snack:

By the time the shutter re-opened, the squirrel had disappeared - a somewhat magical effect. Soon afterward, Becky and I picked raspberries to adorn the pancakes Bob was whipping up. We and Cousin Pete enjoyed a nice breakfast that ended abruptly as we raced to meet our self-imposed beach deadline. At Monmouth Beach, we waded through a tidal pool to get the primo locations. Walter is surely not using the binoculars to check out his son's physique - there were lots of fishing boats offshore, maybe he was looking at them....

A colorful kite soared over the beach umbrellas as our group read, crocheted, chatted, and enjoyed the passing scene:

A view from Becky's "old place" - when we were in high school and college, our parents lived basically around the corner from each other. My friends were certainly welcome chez moi, but Becky's place was Party Central, with constant migrations of kids and hangers-on & plenty of entertainment options.

These days, there is a lot more food growing in the garden. We picked peas, snow peas, pears, grapes, and tomatoes - and I think there's more that isn't in season at the moment.

We ended the day with a game of hearts. Pete and Bob hadn't played before, but they did better than Becky and I did. (It was my fault for not stopping Bob from shooting the moon on the first hand - I totally could have, and I thought about it, but decided he was a neophyte and thus wasn't likely to be able to pull it off. Bad mistake!)

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming

I don't usually comment on politics, but I need to vent. So feel free to let your eyes glaze over and skip on to the pictures in the prior or subsequent posts.

Palin as potential VP does not seem like a bad choice so far - despite all the criticisms and late-breaking revelations.

But what was McCain thinking, if (as preliminary news reports suggest) he didn't finish looking into her background before publicly announcing her as his running-mate? A key theme of the Obama campaign is that McCain is just a continuation of the Bush years; and a good deal of the public is already convinced or at least rather suspicious that Bush didn't do his homework before overthrowing Saddam Hussein. So an over-hasty declaration of an imperfectly vetted VP candidate (if that's what happened) would play directly into Obama's hands.

Now, about some of the criticisms of Palin that have surfaced, here are some initial reactions:
  • Daughter pregnant and unwed at 17! Um, OK. On the evidence currently available to me, I have to say, "So what?" There are other family matters -- such as a politician's past or current infidelity -- that could call into question his/her values, trustworthiness, judgment and self-control. However, a daughter's decisions in the areas of sex and birth control do not, without more, reflect poorly on the candidate.

    Perhaps Sarah Palin could be criticized for not being a stay-at-home mom who is constantly monitoring her children's whereabouts, but I'm not sure that's a fair criticism in this day and age... and surely that particular parenting technique would backfire in any event.

  • Lack of experience! Palin does not have national-level, let alone international, experience. Not so good. But she does have prior executive branch experience, which is something that Obama does not. In fact, I'm not sure that McCain or Biden have any executive branch experience either. (Do they?) Sure, Palin's executive branch experience is at the small-city level, and just two years at the state level. But it's still something she brings to the table that the others don't, for what it's worth.

    And based on the recent New Yorker article on Obama's rise through Chicago politics, it would seem Palin has more experience in bucking her political party's machine than Obama does.

  • Creationism in the schools! This is an interesting criticism, since the states - not the feds - have traditionally dictated the content of school curricula. The basis for the claim that Palin thinks creationism should be taught in schools apparently dates from October 2006 during her race for governor.

    First thing to note here is that she did not suggest force-feeding students a creationist world view:
"Healthy debate is so important and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both. I say this too as the daughter of a science teacher. Growing up with being so privileged and blessed to be given a lot of information on, on both sides of the subject -- creationism and evolution. It's been a healthy foundation for me. But don't be afraid of information and let kids debate both sides."

Second thing to note is that she was not campaigning to require - or even permit - creationism to be taught in Alaskan schools, and in fact she disavowed any intent to introduce creationism into the curriculum or to require religion or creationist sympathies as a "litmus test" for her education appointees.
So the bottom line is that I'm not ready to write off the McCain/Palin ticket at this point, and I'm still hoping for an interesting and illuminating race over the next two months....


For those who are interested, my source on the creationism issue is a contemporaneous article from the Anchorage Daily News:
Palin was answering a question from the moderator near the conclusion of Wednesday night's televised debate on KAKM Channel 7 when she said, "Teach both [i.e., evolution and creationism]. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both."

* * * In an interview Thursday, Palin said she meant only to say that discussion of alternative views should be allowed to arise in Alaska classrooms:

"I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum."

She added that, if elected, she would not push the state Board of Education to add such creation-based alternatives to the state's required curriculum. * * * "I won't have religion as a litmus test, or anybody's personal opinion on evolution or creationism," Palin said.

Palin has occasionally discussed her lifelong Christian faith during the governor's race but said teaching creationism is nothing she has campaigned about or even given much thought to. * * *
Tom Kizzia, "'Creation science' enters the race," Anchorage Daily News (10/27/06).

Come, Labor On (Part 2)

The ferry's first stop was Sandy Hook, a place I associate with glorious rollerblading jaunts (and my first time in a police car), winter walks (one year the bay froze and large ice chunks made me think of an Alaskan tundra scene), as well my inadvertent visit to Gunnison Beach (it was nice and quiet, and I was minding my own business, so it took me a while to realize that the 6 other people enjoying the beach were not only all frolicking in pairs, but were all men, and all nude).

As we started up the East River, these cranes caught my eye:

I think this is the closest I've been to the Pepsi-Cola sign... which always somehow reminds me of the Coca-Cola script. The sign was considered for official landmark status, but does not seem to have made the cut at this point. It has nonetheless been completely refurbished at least once (in 1994), moved at least twice, and is up for one more move according to the Queens Gazette (July 23, 2008) - another 300 feet south:

(Yes, the sign is clearly loved.)

I liked the homely silhouette of the ESB and its neighbors; a Sesame Street feel:

This group of towers was also rather striking:

Come, Labor On (Part 3)

The Seastreak ferry from Highlands to Wall Street went up to 34th St. first and then turned around, so we got some great city views.

A beacon of light from Long Island City:

An old factory:
Light and shadow on the Williamsburg Bridge:

Closeup of the waterfall under the Brooklyn Bridge:

The Statue of Liberty with bird and plane: