Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 4.171: tl;dw (yet)!

I've been wanting to write some more profound words about the Wild Goose Festival but, unlike this building that was driven confidently through the road-works right in front of us on the way home, my thoughts are not the right size for a blog post - not yet anyway.

I want to say something about my Greenbelt experiences (1988?-1991), something about the way Christianity and politics mix in a weird way in America, something about music and beer and community...

Anyway, I'll try to make time to get all these thoughts in order. Meanwhile, why not check out the photos again!

For those wondering about the post title, it's a reference to this and by analogy means this.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 4.170: School's out...

When we discovered at the 11th hour (and about 55 minutes) that we were not returning to the UK for good last summer, one of the important jobs we had to do was to find E5N1 a preschool place. With it being so late, we knew we would probably not have much choice. In the end, we got him into a tiny pre-school which had a total of six kids this year and no more than five at any one time as far as I recall.

It was fantastic.

E5N1 loved it, his teacher loved him and he has learned so much.

Unfortunately, due to a mixture of personal and business factors, the school will not be operating next year so he will have to go somewhere else. The silver lining is that we have inherited the school's sand box. Exile #2 managed to get it home yesterday and stocked with sand today and Exile #4 and E5N1 had a great time playing in it this afternoon while Exile #3 was out at a play-date. They were keen to show me when I got home from work - and so they did!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 4.169: WTWGFWFU

I think it's safe to assume that the Wild Goose Festival, just like its 'parent' festival Greenbelt, will have been many different things to different people.

To some it will have been a job, to some a speaking appointment, to some an opportunity, to some a gig, to some a chance to get away from it all, to some a chance to learn, to some a chance to enjoy live music, for some a chance to meet some of their favourite writers, for some a break from the kids, for some a break from the parents, for many a camping adventure, for some a breath of fresh air, for a few - perhaps - a lot of hot air.

So, what the Wild Goose Festival was for us...

A great kids programme with some real issues - many of the same ones we are facing - coming up in a natural way for them. Already Exile #4 has asked us to see if we can buy her clothes that weren't made using child-labour when she grows out of her current ones and we were talking about the importance of community over dinner tonight.

Some great moments of community with our old friends and some new ones.

Really good talks - Frank Shaeffer and Brian McLaren in particular were fascinating to hear.

Creative and inspiring worship times. The opening and closing ceremonies and the Friday evening 'yarn' ceremony as well as a morning liturgy and the bluegrass liturgy were all great.

Really exciting live music. Alas, we missed most of the final sets each night due to tired kids, but we saw and heard plenty to inspire and enjoy.

Here is my pictorial record (there are brief titles and descriptions for many of them).

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 4.168: Back to the nest

Well, we're quite exhausted after our trip to the Wild Goose Festival.

Maybe it was the late nights:

Then again, perhaps the 12 hour drive has something to do with it. In any case, here's one more placeholder post while I try to get my act together to get my photos ready and say something coherent about the last few days.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 4.167: Goosed out

As she had predicted before she had even met them in a tearful bedtime moment more than a week ago, Exile #4 was not ready to say goodbye to her festival friends when we finished packing up our campsite early this afternoon. Here are the young Exiles with the family who camped almost next to us. This group in various permutations with other kids from around the site were often to be found hanging-out together at the main-stage, in the children's programme and at the tents. They were very sorry to be parted today.

We made it nearly to Halfway (also half-way as you may recall) and are in a hotel room in West Virginia tonight. We have showered - glorious! and are looking forward to getting home tomorrow.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 4.166: Truth and justice

There has been a lot of talk this weekend about LGBTQ issues in the church or as one person put it today, the alphabet community. For many people here it is seen as a social justice issue along with poverty and sexism and racism. It is sometimes difficult when surrounded by people who tend towards this opinion - although there is certainly diversity of thought and action here - to understand how the church came to be one of the last bastions of prejudice.

In parallel, today we got the news that our 'home state' of New York has removed the legal prejudice against lesbian and gay couples which has until now prevented them from marrying. I applaud in particular the swing-voter, a Republican Senator who expressed something of the distaste of the religious Right for the thought of gay marriage but said that in the end he could not find a legal reason to deny everyone the same rights he enjoys.

This will be my last campsite post for now. Tomorrow we will be en route back north and probably in the partial civilisation of a hotel room somewhere. Wish us luck with packing our tent back into its bag!

Sent from my mobile device

Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 4.165: Under canvas

Each summer between 1972 and about 1986 our family holiday (vacation) was two weeks camping in France. Usually we would spend one week in each of two different campsites. These trips involved squeezing five people and all our stuff into a modest family car and a long drive interrupted by a ferry crossing. They did not involve putting up a tent because we used large multi-room pre-erected tents. We did however enjoy the rest of the camping experience including occasional severe weather.

So I knew it was possible.

Last night my family of five slept under canvas for the first time. We did fine.

Today has been a classic festival day. It included music, kids art, talks, cooking on a camp fire. It has been great. Hopefully we'll sleep again tonight. I'll post some pictures when I can.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 4.164: Wild Goosing

For those who haven't connected the dots or seen elsewhere on twitter or facebook, we are at the Wild Goose Festival. Connectivity is slow and patchy and power is in short supply so blogging may be brief or even - shock-horror - sporadic! But it looks like it will be a good time. Right now I'm going back to hear Psalters at the main stage because, as Exile #2 says, "they're freaking awesome" - yes really!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 4.163: Halfway and beyond

I didn't mention it, but yesterday's post was brought to you from a motel room in southern New York State. Today we travelled west into Pennsylvania where we met Dinah the giant cow thanks to a tip-off from which in turn we found following a tip-off from a road-trip expert at work.

A few hours later we pulled off the highway to drive to the outskirts of Halfway MD - also the halfway point in our journey to within about five highway minutes. A few minutes later we were through Maryland and into West Virginia - a first-time state visit for us and one of the places where the highways have 70 mph speed limits.

We're in the south of Virginia tonight near the North Carolina border. It's very much Bible-belt down here - we've seen lots of roadside signs and bumper stickers etc. Funnily enough it feels like hostile territory to this family of moderate British Christians.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 4.162: River Street Festival

This is old news now but since birthdays and parties and the end of school are done, I found time to upload my pictures from our trip to the River Street Festival in Troy last weekend.


As well as enjoying the atmosphere and the chalk art we found out a friend of the kids was one of the young pavement artists and I bumped into AOA Greg. My ambitions for further street photography were curtailed by overheated kids but not before Exile #4 had had her face painted and E5N1 had done some chalk art of his own (not the cute picture above - that was just hiding amongst the impressive competition panels).

The rest of the photos are here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 4.161: Nine

This morning Exile #3, sporting her blue-team field-day attire including her rather good self tie-dyed t-shirt, celebrated her ninth birthday.

In honour of the occasion (the birthday rather than a school day spent outside with races and games and sprinklers and hot-dogs and sno-cones), I made up a collage of her previous birthdays 0-8) - hasn't she grown?!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 4.160: Nearer and father(s)

Today was Father's Day and we totally failed to do anything for Exile #2's Dad or mine - sorry! Happy belated Father's Day!

We were rather occupied with preparing for a little trip we are taking this week but did find time for a little looking back at the way things have changed since I first became a father almost exactly nine years ago:

and to appreciate some brought-home-from-school Dad appreciation from the kids.

Exile #3 appreciated "Grill, Lego, Five Rivers, Ha Ha Ha, Love, Peace, So You Think You Can Dance" as well as her acrostic:

Exile #4 remembered her party this year and a hike from the end of last summer.

...and E5N1 decorated a hat!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day 4.159: Dinner at the dive-in

Unfortunately it's much too late to pull together a post about what we did this afternoon, so instead here's a pair of photos from our evening trip to Chili's.

First the girls shot that Exile #4 unexpectedly dived out of:

And then the boys shot that Exile #4 unexpectedly dived into:

So that works I suppose.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 4.158: Judy Moody and the...yeah whatever!

It was Exile #3's birthday party today. I brought her and five of her friends home from school where they were joined by Exile #4 and E5N1 for games and shrieking and bracelet making and shrieking and food and shrieking and cake and shrieking. After that we took them all and our ten tickets to Crossgates to see Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer. It was OK and the girls seemed to enjoy it. Sadly, not even Heather Graham could rescue it for me - although she did make a valiant effort.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 4.157: I am a DUG!

No, this is not the moment when I finally reveal my real-world name.  Technically I'm only a DU but I was definitely one of the DUGs last night.

It was DUGs night at E5N1's preschool - dads, uncles and grandpas were invited to visit with their preschoolers for a show-and-tell of work, a craft project and some pizza and wings.

We had a great time.

The first of the 'works' that E5N1 showed me was the animal-name matching game - he loved doing this even though it required a lot of reading, and he was rightly proud of his achievement. He's had a great year and it's sad in lots of ways that he has to move on somewhere new next year, but I'm hopeful that he will do fine.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 4.156: Cool Kenya

Today was Exile #3's cultural fair at school. She was presenting her 'travel brochure' and a taste of her chosen or assigned country of Kenya.

Exile #2 went in to deliver the pineapple - which was a lot simpler than some of the earlier ideas and went down extremely well by all accounts - and to tie the headscarf. She also took this picture.

Most interesting fact in the brochure: "[The country] is named after Mount Kenya", least profound: "Warm weather clothes for this trip!"

It made us want to go anyway!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Day 4.155: How much wood...?

Exile #2 snapped this visitor in our yard yesterday. It's the first sighting of a woodchuck here although we have seen them nearby.

As far as I am aware, they do not chuck wood but they do eat plants - and considering we are already overrun by a chipmunk population explosion it is probably the last thing we need. We were hoping for a visit from a fox or something else that might control our small mammal population rather than adding to it.

It brings our yard-count of mammals to seven (excluding humans, dogs, cats and, more-questionably, mice which we've only seen inside the house) adding to: squirrel (gray), chipmunk, rabbit (cotton-tail), deer (white-tail), raccoon and opossum. We're pretty sure we've had a skunk as well but never actually seen one.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 4.154: Gym-tastic

I left work in time to see the girls' end-of-year gymnastic display this evening.

They both did very well, doing the three presentations (floor, beam and bars) in their different ways.

Earlier I had missed E5N1's equivalent event - but Exile #2 captured it for me and I'm happy to share it with you.

So cute!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day 4.153: The end of the holidays

It's been raining a lot recently - which is great if you've got a new pair of rain-boots, but less good if you have blocked and overflowing gutters.

I've been meaning to do something about them, but the concern over what to do at the power-line gutter intersection and the crazy busy season means that I have failed. So, we decided it was time to pay someone else to do it. He came over midweek to look at that job and another bit of more-involved maintenance work. His condition for doing the gutters (along with a fee of course) was the removal of our holiday lights. Not unreasonable in June I suppose.

So, this afternoon - while we were enjoying a dry spell I did just that with Exile #2's help.

And so Christmas has finally left the building for a few months and now we can get back to the birthday season.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Day 4.152: ...and the ragged tiger

Well, as I mentioned yesterday (in 17 syllables or so), today it was Exile #4's birthday. We had a nice day, opening presents, lunch at P.F. Chang's (something the kids have been keen to do since our back-to-back visits out west). Then we lost the birthday girl for a while to a play-date wearing some of her new clothes.  While she was gone Exile #3 built the Harry Potter Lego game and we played it when she returned. It's a surprising and excellent game - and fun (if challenging) to build into the bargain.

Incidentally, I took the die for the first turn - since it called for the oldest player to start - I was correctly tensed and knew that you needed more than one for it to be 'dice'.  Having said that, don't get excited if, in some kind of reflex reaction you think you've spotted a pop pun, this post doesn't obey the rules at all!

In any case, we should be focusing on the girl of the moment, so here is a picture for the beginning of each of her first seven years:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Day 4.151: Friday Haikus #10

a june afternoon
and five happy first grade girls -
birthday party fun

slip and slide and cake
sack races and popsicles
phew! T.G.I.F.

tomorrow will bring
the momentous day - now she's:
seven (minus one)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 4.150: Patriotisingsm

I think that's the correct word for this:

filmed by Exile #2 at Exile #4's Flag Day assembly.

And if it's not, you can tell me what the right word is in the comments, where you may well be asked to type a word such as patriotisingsm to prove that you are a real person and not a piece of software - a comforting thought there I hope!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 4.149: Ratty and Mr. Toad

There was barely a breath of wind, in the willows or elsewhere, but we did get some great views of these water-loving creatures at Five Rivers on Sunday. It's likely that Mole was around somewhere - maybe Badger too although he's not the sociable kind. And yes - that is a frog, but as you should probably know, so are toads.

If you have no idea what all that nonsense was about - you can just enjoy the pictures or you could find out more here!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Day 4.148: What she saw...

I took this at Five Rivers on Sunday. Exile #4 had decided to take her 'journal' with her to record our trip and she very diligently kept notes as we walked around about what we could see and her assessment of the upkeep of the trails.

I bet you're wondering what she was writing...well wonder no more!

June 5, 2011
I saw swallows at Five Rivers
I saw a bullfrog.
My sister saw a tadpole
I saw turtles on a log
We went to the new trail
I saw a frog
Five Rivers are having problems with beavers.
I saw turtles swimming.
I saw a chickadee and its nest.
I just arrived at church.
It is very loud in the singing room.