Thursday, August 29, 2013

What Will It Be Like in Twenty Years

This was the last full week of summer. Next week school begins, at least in my neck of the woods. From reading comments on Facebook and Twitter, along with more traditional sources of news, I understand that for many of you school has already started. My daughters would say to you, “That’s ridiculous. Ain’t nobody got time for that going to school and listening to muddle-headed teachers yet.” Let me extend my apologies to all of you teachers, we really do appreciate you.

Eldest, being in college, has been back to school for a week. Monday, her first day back, was Convocation, a deeply symbolic service, celebrating the return of professors and students to campus.  Professors dress in full academic regalia, the Grand Marshall of the college carries the College Mace (a great big stick with some goo-gaw on top, like a royal scepter only for collegiate setting) and leads a processional down the main aisle of the auditorium. I have no idea how the Grand Marshall is chosen; I think perhaps the faculty chooses one of their members who isn’t afraid of walking down the aisle and carrying a big stick.

And so, during Convocation, the campus, dusty and bored from the summer absence of students and faculty, enfolds the new and returning students and faculty into it’s protective embrace, yet again.

I did not attend Convocation this year and haven’t attended since my years as a student. However, after Convocation I did attend a luncheon on campus, with Beloved. Prior to the actual luncheon there was a punch hour. Now, it sounds as if this college has a violence problem, what with Mace at Convocation and punch hour prior to a luncheon. I assure you that it is a very non-violent place and I saw no evidence of a pugilistic melee prior to the meal. At the punch hour, I ran across the college’s 

First Lady. To be clear, I did not literally run across her, that would be considered vehicular assault, and I am first, non-violent (despite playing violin from elementary school and into college. Yes, it is the same college where Eldest now attends.), and I am a professional driver.
The First Lady, although not imposing in stature, certainly commands attention with her warm spirit, keen intellect, and that warm Texas twang in her voice. As she made her way around the room, she stopped to share a funny story with me.

She shared a scene she saw in Convocation, this most pompous of circumstances, with the dimly lit auditorium, quiet music playing, the soft swishing of the robes as the faculty wait in the wings for the cue for the Grand Marshall to commence the procession. At the outset of this regal event, she watched as Eldest, and one of her biffles (my children tell me that biffle means, best friend for life) saw and greeted each other.

“Now mind you, these two haven’t seen each other for, what? All of twenty minutes. When they saw each other, they hugged and squealed and jumped up and down, like they hadn’t seen each other in years. I can only imagine what homecoming will be like for them in twenty years,” she said.

So, gentle reader, whether you are hugging this new school year and jumping up and down with glee, or you are entering it with all the seriousness of the Grand Marshall carrying the big stick, do it with all your heart.

Even Littlest, who suspects that all teachers are escapee’s from a lunatic asylum, have absolutely no idea how to teach, and who does not want to go back to school to sit under their tutelage, has decided to complain about this year with all her heart.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Trip to the Zoo and Avoiding the Traffic

One of our plans for the summer was a trip to the Buffalo Zoo in Buffalo, NY, and Thursday was the day that was chosen. We needed to wait until after Eldest returned from her trip to Guatemala, which she did, and although she brought me neither avocados nor guacamole, she did bring me 100% Guatemalan coffee, which is decidedly delicious, and astoundingly awesome.

There was one small drawback: apparently someone else decided to visit the Buffalo and Western New York area Thursday as well. If you, gentle reader, guessed President Obama, you have read the news and are correct.

Thankfully, we passed the airport just before Air Force One landed. We made it to the zoo just after the gates opened and had a wonderful time laughing at the baby gorilla's antics, oohing at the young polar bear frolicking in the water, and haha-ing at the hyena's laughing.

After the PGA tour made it’s championship stop in Rochester, I was eager for this trip to the zoo to see the lynx and a tiger. We stopped to see the lynx, but no one was on the greens. We saw not one, but two tigers. One was stuffed dead and the other was alive. So at least half of that plan worked out for us.
Sure sign for Lynx, but no one was home

Stuffed Tiger
Sleeping Tiger, I am jealous

Then it was on to the adventure called lunch. We tried to find a Dairy Queen that served burgers and not just ice cream. This was a futile search. We opted to stop at the first fast food joint we found. Not being that familiar with Buffalo, we ended up at a McDonald's just off the campus of University at Buffalo (UB). Yes, the same UB where the President of the United States was speaking. When I realized where we were, I was mortified. After all, we may have gotten stuck in some presidential traffic constipation; and I hate that. 

In an effort to find out how much trouble I was in, I turned to social media. I searched twitter for the official President Of The United States hashtag (#POTUS). The first thing I found was autocorrect thinks POTUS should be corrected to POUTS; how sad is that? After manually correcting autocorrect, I discovered that the POTUS was no longer at UB: he wasn’t even in Buffalo. He was at a diner in Rochester. In order to reach that diner, he had to travel practically right by my house and I missed it! This day was turning out to be totally stinking awesome.

We left Buffalo and returned to Rochester, tracing the same route Mr. POTUS followed. I want you to know I was able to negotiate the route without the aid of a phalanx of state troopers clearing the route for me and without helicopter air support. I guess I am just more awesome than some people.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Oh What a Beautiful Fair.

This past week we took an hour drive through the farm fields of Western New York. We went to the Wyoming County Fair, in Pike, New York. By we, I mean, Littlest, Middlest, and one of her friends, Ms. Mel Mac (whose name has been altered to blur the lines between reality and whatever I decide to write after this point).

During the hour drive the three young ladies conversed intently about trigonometry, statistics, and calculus, debated the benefits of taking physics versus taking chemistry, and examined which foreign languages were best for which careers.

I listened carefully to the conversation and when there was a lull I inserted my well thought out observation, “My goodness, isn’t the corn high?” This unleashed a barrage of intelligence from these three young ladies. There was talk of using trigonometry to measure the height of the corn, physics to measure the force of popcorn popping, and biology to detect how long it took corn to digest in a goat’s stomach.

Littlest, who loves elephants, but has never been to Oklahoma, wondered how high an elephant’s eye is from the ground and if corn could ever truly reach that height. When there was another pause in the conversation, I interjected, “What is a buccaneer?” They all looked at me with brows furrowed in confusion. I went on, “A buck an ear is an outrageous price for corn.” They all groaned.

The major draw of this fair is looking at the animals. There are rides of course, but the animals are so darn cute. Take for example these sleeping pigs, who seem to be smooching.

Of course, the cows were not to be out done and began to smooch as well.

All of this kissing began to make me nervous. After all, I was escorting three innocent young ladies.

Finally, after fretting and worrying, I found the perfect place for them.

By the way, as we left the fair we saw a sign that advertised 15 ears of super sweet corn for $3.50. So, a buck an ear is a crazy price for corn.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The PGA Championship is Here. HoHum.

The PGA championship is in Rochester, NY this week. The golfers on this illustrious tour have decided to make a swing through my hometown and every one is giddy. The press is out in force with sightings of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickleson. I saw one picture that appeared to show Mr. Woods putting on footwear while leaning against a van. Images like that almost bring me to tears; the elite and famous of golf, putting on sneakers the same exact way I do. Oh! The humanity.

The press has reported on which fine restaurants the golfers are visiting, who among them may be visiting Niagara Falls (a local attraction, if you don’t mind driving an hour to get there), and which among them have sampled Rochester’s world famous “Garbage Plate”.

I ate a Garbage Plate once and I also golfed once. Just not at the same time, nor in the same place. I golfed in Wisconsin, which is far away from NY. This was to protect myself against the paparazzi photographing my first, and only, feeble attempt at golf. It would not do to have my adoring public see me klutzing about that far away fairway.

I am not attending the championship at Oak Hill this week; instead I have elected to stay home and putt around the house. The shed out back needs to be painted, the basement needs cleaning, and with all the hoopla around town, the dust all seems to be settling in my living room.

Speaking of far away, Eldest is in the land of avocados this week. She left for Guatemala with Roberts Wesleyan’s Enactus  team this past Monday and will return next Saturday night. I think she chose this club to join, and this trip to take, to avoid the golf tournament. Her flight took her across the Gulf of Mexico, just about the time many of the golfers were flying into Rochester. On a side note, when she returns she has requested that we take a trip to the zoo.

I asked Middlest and Littlest what they thought about the PGA being in Rochester. Middlest responded with a laconic, “I really don’t care.” Littlest perked up just slightly and responded, “What golf tournament?”  

Neither is upset at missing a chance to see Tiger Woods out on the links, but they are excited to go with Eldest on a trip to see the lynx..and maybe a tiger too.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Summer Doldrums

At my house, we have reached the summer doldrums. When mariners of long ago would cross the equator, they would encounter areas where there would be no wind. Captains and crews would sit for days under the hot equatorial sun, waiting for a breeze to get their boats moving again.

That is where our household is at this very moment. In the doldrums. Waiting for a breeze to motivate our ship to move across the sea of midsummer’s languor. The stillness of the air and the slowness of activity is sapping our strength.

Alright, that is about as poetical as I can get. Seriously, it is a slow time in our house hold. Middlest commented the other day that she keeps losing track of what day it is. She has to work backwards from Sunday, since church makes Sunday significant in a week formless and void.

In order to preserve my daughters’ mental health during this time of inactivity, I have devised a series of mental exercises that will keep them in tip-top mental shape for school in the fall. Cleaning out the basement and painting the shed and the trim around the house top off that list. When I made the list public to my daughters, there was much grumbling and complaining. “Dad, we aren’t bored; we have Youtube, Pandora, Hulu, Facebook, and Twitter to keep us occupied and mentally challenged. Your list has nothing to do with mental health; it has to do with forced labor.”

As you can imagine, the rest of the conversation was short, mostly consisting of my scowling and growling and the girls’ eye-rolling and grumbling. I am not sure if this type of conversation is due to our Italian heritage, but it sounds more European if I say that is why we argue that way.

As of today, we have hauled 3 large bags of garbage out of the basement and most of the trim around the house is done and our shed is turning a delightful shade of caramel butterscotch (thanks to the artistic Middlest, who picked the color).

I am also proud to say that my daughters seem to be on top of their game mentally. I have seen one of them actually doing homework - and school doesn’t start for another month.