Thursday, July 15, 2010

Down by the river

Our first heat wave...still not a scorcher, but it's all relative.

A good place to escape the heat was Hilgard Park. It's funny...I swam in this same spot when I was about the same age as these kids. I remember hiking downstream along the highway with my cousins and signaling the truckers to sound their horns. They almost always did.

Lukianno Ouch

Tess and Colm went to a magic show today. Later in the evening, at the supper table, Tess put on a mustache belonging to her brother, dubbed herself Lukianno Ouch, and performed a magic card trick with the aid of her magic stuffed dog who sniffed out the right card. Her trick was very good though since it took so long it had the unintended effect of melting her ice cream.

Monday, July 12, 2010

hot footin' it after the futbol

When I watch my two kids play physical games, I am usually made mindful of their individual idiosyncrasies and how each of them has his or her own physical energy and style. Colm is much more the adventurous player; Tess prefers to skirt along the edges of the action.

Then I looked at these two photos I snapped today during their soccer games. Their bodies seem uncannily oriented in the same way. Two peas in a pod.


The new White House Cafe which just opened in La Grande has several very cool and appealing features among which are the chess tables upstairs. I took Colm in there this morning and we had a hot drink and played a game.

Since it was Colm's first game ever we started off with the basic rules of the game and the pieces on the board. As we began playing, I tried to furnish him opportunities for taking pieces and for losing them. Colm was an apt pupil and a good natured one. He seemed genuinely intrigued by the array of options and also by the chain of events that a given move might trigger. As we played I began to appreciate how the game provided a context for some thoughtful utterances.
"I didn't see that."
"It's hard to see everything."
"There are so many moves."
"Yes. What are your possible moves?"
"If I take your knight will you take my bishop?
"Yes, and if I do, what will you do?"
"I can take it with my queen."
"Is it worth it to you?"
"I don't know, maybe."
"Try it, then."

Later on, the board had become somewhat depleted. We had traded pieces pretty freely. Both of us had captured pieces lined up in front of us. Colm had begun to focus on them as if they were booty and perhaps even the point of the game.

"I have eight and you have seven. I'm winning."
"Maybe. But it's not what you've captured; it's what you and I've got out there on the board. Your move."
Colm paused; he looked me square in the eye very much as if he were calling up a moment of truth.
"Do you have a plan?"

I smiled . Colm seemed to have momentarily achieved enough distance from the game on the board to see the other game, the one involving father and son. I chuckled and handed him the truth. He'd earned it. "No, I don't have a plan... But I kinda wish I did have a plan."

Colm smiled back at me. "Me too."
"Let's just play."

Fiddling around

Tess is continuing fiddle lessons this summer. I love the fact that she picks up the fiddle every day without having to be told to do so. I also appreciate the way her teacher has allowed and encouraged Tess to play with other more advanced players, often in public venues.

Performing is becoming something that is not strange or intimidating to her. Last week they played in front of WalMart for a couple of hours. Afterwards they counted up their tips. They pulled in about 14 dollars each for about two hours of playing. Just another piece of the motivational puzzle. Tomorrow, Tess and I are going to Cove to take a look at a larger instrument. She's moving up from a 1/2 to a 3/4.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hiking and hiding in the Elkhorns

Yesterday we went up to Black Lake. Short hike, about a mile each way. There's a lot of water up there though the snow has pretty much melted off. I tried to get the kids to jump in the cold lake, but their better instincts restrained them. I offered Colm a dollar. That did the trick. One day he'll know the value of a dollar.

Tess was next, but she was still unsure so I sweetened the deal by promising to jump in myself if she went in. Finally, after counting to three about six times, she took the plunge. Right about this time, the clouds overhead began dropping rain lightly on us. The kids took shelter under some trees.

I stripped down and made good on my promise. I swam out a ways wondering just how far might be too far before I'd be laboring to maintain muscle control. In a word, it was breathtakingly cold.

We lunched under the shelter of the pines. There were large patches of blue above us, but far off we heard the sound of thunder rolling. We had imagined spending the rest of the day at the lake but the thunder and the skeeters changed our minds.

On the hike back I stopped to photograph the kids crossing a log that bridged the bog when out of the corner of my eye I spotted Sammy racing towards them. I only had time to guess at his point of intersection with them, refocus and shoot.

I snapped this at the precise moment Sammy completely disappeared from view into water hole below the log. I'm pretty sure Sammy did not realize how deep it was when he launched. Both kids kept their poise and their balance.

On our way back the kids morph from bedraggled, wet towel-swathed refugees to rock scrambling spy kids who constantly skirted the trail in favor of the rocky terrain above. They cleverly kept out of our sight, except of course when I was able to capture them on camera.