The Supernatural Times

December 26, 2018

Conveniently enough, a family hike in the Wissahickon.

David has recently informed us that he is an avid reader of The Supernatural Times. This publication apparently provides regular updates on the doings of the supernatural world. When I asked for a copy of said publication, he informed me that all copies were only available in Underground City—and that Underground City was not accessible by adults. He then remembered that while he could simply open the trap door beneath his bed to get the Underground City, adults had to go to the Wissahickon Park, go about 2 miles down a trail, scramble up a hill, and dig a hole in the right spot. Then and only then can the secret back tunnel providing adult access to Underground City be revealed. 

portal to cursed realm

The Portal. Enter with extreme caution.

This explains the various landmarks that we saw on the Wissahickon trails that we hiked on a couple of days ago. From the very beginning as we passed by the Portal to Cursed Realm to nearly the end, where we passed the Goldstone Moonbeam Stone, we passed by landmarks only known to readers of the Supernatural Times. Good thing David regularly attends his kid-only meetings in Underground City. Or maybe he sends a representative—every time Stephanie and I have checked on him at night, he has been asleep in his bed. What we thought was a bunch of roots on the trail turned out to be Warty Witch Way. And that bridge, crossing over the stream? It actually is the site of the famed Sea Monster. Even walking over the bridge the wrong way can trigger the wrath of the sea monster below. We even passed a Cobra Head?! I thought it was just a big leaf. Good thing I did not actually touch it. 

Baby mammoth tusks

A thinker. A bridge. A pair of tusks.

The next section of the trail had really interesting Supernatural landmarks. How silly of the adults to think they were on a normal hiking trail. How can a trail be normal when it had the renowned Stone Site and Mammoth Gorge? Who would have known that these uprooted tree trunks were massive mammoth tusks, residing in the Wissahickon Gorge for thousands of centuries? The site also has a pair of strikingly well-preserved baby mammoth tusks. The ill-informed hiker mere sees a bridge; the educated supernatural traveler understands the significance of the area, I am very glad that David was able to educate us on what we were really seeing. 

All of this was news to us; we considered ourselves lucky to find out the truth about the trail courtesy of David’s explanations. He informed us that once kids turn 18, they forget everything they have learned about the Supernatural from Underground City. It sounds like enforced amnesia to me. This whole trip is morphing from a hike into a window into David’s world. Come to think of it, those windows will be fewer and fewer as David grows up into full pre-teen and teenage years. 

golden spider town

Golden Spider

But I digress. Back to the hike. 

We traversed up the hill over the Golden Spider’s town (a bunch of tree roots on the trail) to some very prominent area. We passed the Invisible Man’s castle, located in the Invisite . The Man is invisible, but the oven is very visible. Right across the way was the Leaves of Giza. Apparently there are scores of mummies encrusted in the leaves. Who knew? I wonder if the Invisible Man knew of the Leaves of Giza? I forgot to ask David about that. Within 100 yards of the Leaves of Giza is the River of Lava. After the River of Lava we passed the Big Ditch of the Banshees (Not sure how that name came to be—we were just thinking of how loud David can scream when he wants to). Then we came to perhaps the very intriguing Haypile of the Harvester, accompanied by his (very helpful) Scythe. Good thing we took a moment to enjoy seeing that. 

Haypile Harvester

Watch out for that Scythe up there.

Little did we know that we were approaching perhaps the most dangerous part of the journey. We shortly passed a group of suspiciously arranged stones, which upon David’s inspection were identified as the Great Gollumns of  Granite. More importantly, seeing the Gollum Granite meant that the dreaded Stone Cyclops of Sustruction lived nearby. The thought of a Stone Cyclops is scary enough—even scarier when one realizes that the parent of the Stone Cyclops is the Colossus of Ultimate Destruction  (I was taking notes from David too quickly to get more details, but the names are scary enough. Immediately up the next hill is the Glands of Greenery, with the Tricker Trees. (Tricky Trees?) How can a tree be tricky? For example, if the trail happens to go through an apparently sawed tree trunk….that tree is tricking you-if you loiter in the trail cut…the trunk will snap shut and capture you! Best be more quick there. 

Dont Fall

Don’t fall! Just….don’t.

Wow. No wonder David wanted to play a bit by climbing on a big rock outcropping after the Glands of Greenery. Good thing that the Guardian Tree was on the job to keep the Tricky Trees away from the rock outcropping. Stephanie and I were worried enough about David hurting himself on that rock outcropping without worrying about what tricks the trees might think of playing on us. 

frolicking frog

Frolicky Frog

After a lunch break, it was time to get us all back. Luckily we were able to keep David talking about the Supernatural aspects of the trail. This was a handy distraction from his legs getting tired. We even found the Frolicking Frog Face (at least in David’s telling—Stephanie saw shelter from rain and/or snow. Following that, and perhaps the most symbolic find was the final find—a piece of Goldstone. Goldstone just happens to be the most valued currency of the Underground city as it is a perfectly formed piece of moonstone freckled with goldfish yellow flakes. Numbers 2,3 and4 in order are silverstone,  bronzestone, and copperstone.. Moonstones are special rounded stones of high enough quality to be deemed suitable to commercial transactions. More money, more money! 

goldstone currency

Genuine Goldstone

However, all the money in the world will not buy me any of the issues of the Supernatural Times. The copies are locked away in the Underground City. Even David can’t export them. Underground City has security guards to ensure that only kids are allowed in and items such as copies of the Supernatural Times do not get out. I am not sure what inspired David to give us a tour of the supernatural aspects of the Wissahickon, but I am sure glad that he did. 


From Halloween to Thanksgiving

December 22, 2018


Like last year, and the year before that, David had definite ideas about how he wanted to celebrate Halloween this year. For him, Halloween is something to be celebrated. For me, Halloween is something to be endured. In order to encourage lots of kids to stop at our house, David designed an entire display for the front yard. Apparently, the prospect of candy would not in and of itself be enough to attract said children. To that end, David (of course), designed the pumpkin carving design. He also cut out little ghosts to hang off of the trees to make the front yard suitably spooky. Mom had bought some “gravestones”; David’s decorations helped make the front yard suitably creepy. 


The creepier the array, the more trick-or-treaters we will get.

Several weeks later, David had the chance to test for his red belt with a black stripe. In other words, David had the chance to test for the last belt below (junior) black belt. It was a really hard workout for the first part of the testing. For the second part of the testing, (of course, when he is really tired), David had to perform a couple of the routines (kadas) he had learned in class. In the week or two before the test, I deliberately had him do his routines after he was really tired; we both knew that the karate people would try to tire him out before he did his routines. The idea is to make the routines much harder to do—this is, after all, the penultimate belt to junior black. I am happy to report that David passed his test. If all goes according to plan, he will be able to test for his junior black belt in June. 



Classic combination–hot cocoa, Thanksgiving, pickup football game.

David had a very distinct plan for our Thanksgiving dinner. He often carefully plans the menu, and this year was no exception. It had apples, Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, corn, salad, apple cider and plenty more. This year’s Thanksgiving featured a couple of additional features. That morning, I took David to a Scout organized football game. It was the classic Thanksgiving pickup game; I figured it would be a great chance for David to play some football beyond backyard tosses with his father. Both Stephanie and I feel very strongly that David needs to be at least a respectable pickup football player. That is, just enough to not be the last kid drafted when teams are taken. He appeared to gain confidence while we were there, and even had a chance to run the ball. 


What are you thankful for?

David also added a new dimension to our Thanksgiving, a Thankfulness Turkey. He designed and cut out pieces for all of us to fill in. We had to use things that we are thankful for—jobs, family, house. safety, etc. It worked out very well and we all enjoyed it immensely. 

Another different thing we did this year on Thanksgiving was to leave after dinner to take a trip. Specifically, a trip to Connecticut to pick up David’s Bubbe. We were taking her to Boston for the weekend. While there, we took the opportunity to take David to a couple of Revolutionary War landmarks—the Hancock Clarke House in Lexington and the Boston Tea Party museum in town. 


One of over 50 photos David took of the Hancock-Clarke House in Lexington.

As an extra bonus, I got the experience driving through Boston’s Chinatown. While I could have taken the highways back to the hotel, I thought it would be more interesting to go through town. While traffic was awful, it was in a way entertaining. As I drove down the overcrowded streets, I thought back to when my grandmother would take me to Boston’s  Chinatown for dinner. Then I noticed a car on my left making a right hand turn by cutting me off. Then I saw a second car do the same thing. I figured I was getting a lesson on driving in Boston for a reason. I decided the best way to pass the impromptu course was to move my car forward far enough so that the next car to my left could not see where to make the right turn. Having achieved this goal, my mind went back to wondering how Grandma ever got her 1970s big car to fit into these streets. 

Then I recalled that both of David’s grandmothers were born in Boston (Roxbury, Dorchester), and grew up in Boston (Brookline, West Newton). Maybe someday I’ll give David a tour of where his grandmothers grew up—I’ll call it the Grandma tour. I’m sure that such a tour would give me plenty of opportunities to for me to apply my renewed Boston driving skills!

The Bowling Alley

November 20, 2018

10! Strike!

David really enjoys it when we go bowling. There are several alleys around here, and a couple of them have the ball ramps to help kids get the ball down the lane. Over the past couple of years, I have watched David go from being totally reliant on the ramp—to not always needing it, to now being able to bowl an entire game without it.  I still think he should have the ramp to rest his arm for at least a few frames, but he begs to differ. 

Last Saturday he and I went to the alley which is becoming my favorite place to take him. It is a small alley, all of 16 lanes, but I can call up and reserve a lane. This makes the 25 minute drive there more tolerable, because I know there will be a lane waiting. And the price is pretty good at $5/game per person, shoes $2.50 each to rent. They even gave David the best ball for him. David eagerly plugged our names into the scoreboard—David first, then Len. David used the ball ramp and immediately preceded….to get a strike! How about that?! His first strike (that I recall). He says he had gotten one some other time, but I do not remember that. The game was great fun and we were having a wonderful time. 

Third Frame

Closed 2 out of 3 frames

David felt so good about the game that he decided to stop using the ramp about in the 6th or 7th frame. He did OK after that. We took the second game, and he decided he did not need the ramp at all. I recommended that he use the ramp for at least a couple of frames but the recommendation was definitively rejected by the youngster. He started off strong, with a spare in 2 of the first 3 frames. In fact, the game was not only truly competitive, it was tied at 48 after 5 frames. In other words, halfway through the game, David and Daddy were TIED. With no handicap for the kid, he was legitimately tied with his father. 


The kid can bowl.

But that was David’s high-water mark. His previous decision to not use the ramp came back to haunt him, as his arm got tired, and he lost some form. He unfortunately experienced the flip side of bowling success—-missing pins. Bowling allows one to celebrate strikes and spares. It also provides many opportunities for frustration, as each open frame is by definition a missed opportunity. David had a run of several frames of “missed opportunities”. He did not do very well, and got suitably frustrated at what was happening. My efforts to get him to slow down, or rest his arm by using the ramp, were all unsuccessful.

We bowled 2 games, or 4 distinct halves of a game. The first 3 were really fun for both of us—the last one—not as much. I tried to get him to focus on the strike in half 1, the fact he stopped using the ramp in half 2, and the fact that he was tied with Dad at the end of half 3. Beyond hoping that success in 3 halves outweighed the failures of half 4, there was not much more that I could say. 

To Fly Like An Eagle

October 1, 2018
Cast Away

Cast Away

Over a month has gone by since I took David to Eagles Mere, and he is still talking about it. He has even decided that we need to go back and bring Mom with us. He has described it as the best vacation, ever—-with the exception of finding vegetarian lunch options (but I digress). Eagles Mere is a town which is built up around a mountaintop with a beautiful lake on top. The lakefront features a perfectly fine (private) beach, a playground, volleyball area and basketball court, ample boats for rent, showers and changing rooms, and a fishing area. All of this is surrounded by a beautiful, surprisingly challenging hiking trail that offers ample views of the lake. 

The vacation lasted all of 2 days. We stayed at the very nice and very well run Eagles Mere Inn. The staff there was very friendly. They found space in their walk-in fridge for our food bag to stay overnight. They also helped set up David’s fishing pole by stringing the fishing line.  Beyond that, the food in their restaurant was very well prepared and the room was comfortable. The Inn was a very pleasant part of the trip. We also were able to spend a little bit of time hanging out on the front porch and the sitting room was well stocked with games. David wants us to take Mom there sometime. 

Beach and Lake

The Beach and The Lake

For David, playing on a beach makes his summer complete. One of the attractions of the Inn was its access to the beach; as guests, we had access to the private beach. It was really a very nice beach, with plenty of room to play on the sand. We got really lucky with the weather, and we had met a family the night before who also was on the beach that morning. So David had some other kids to play with. That just made his beach day so much better. After the family left, David decided he wanted us to rent a boat. 


Nice Place for a Nap?

We rented a very nice paddleboat and (eventually) made our way across the lake. We both were taken in by the beauty of the lake and being out there, far from everything. Totally relaxing, so much so that we drifted a good part of the way back to the boat rental as we were kind of enjoying a lake-based snooze. After the boating was over, I tried to find him some lunch—-and that got tricky. There are not exactly a lot of restaurants in Eagles Mere, and certainly not many with a variety of “vegetarian options,” especially in the middle of the afternoon. After some effort, I found him something. 

Next was fishing. David really enjoys fishing. I ….not so much, but he does so I take him when I can. I don’t know how to set up a fishing line, and am not very good at untangling a line. Nor can I cast. However, I did get a fishing license so I can take him to more places. He is actually pretty good at casting; one of these days I’ll have to get him to some kind of fishing store to replenish our supplies and maybe get some worms or something for real bait. 

Little Man

Where did that little boy go?

We went back to the Inn’s restaurant, and it turned out that the waiter spoke German. I dusted off my rusty German and actually had a small conversation with the waiter, which was pretty cool. David of course wants to learn French, and the waiter enjoyed that tidbit also. The key moment at dinner (in the midst of the landscaped patio) was when I looked across the table at him—-and saw that he was no longer a little boy, but a man. Perhaps more accurately, a definite big kid. The little boy Mommy and I loved—-that phase is over. Good thing I wrote this blog to capture some of the memories because that little boy isn’t coming back any time soon. He has been replaced by a big kid who will soon enough grow in to being a man. 

Laurel Path

Adventuring on the Trail

The next day, we decided to use our hiking boots and follow what is called the Laurel Path around the lake. It was fairly challenging, and even featured a place where David could use the STOP method. There was a small creek with a log bridge over it. It had only one handrail, so David deemed it dangerous. We therefore needed to Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan our way across. (He was actually very proud of this plan). We probably went a half mile before we had to turn back for time reasons. 



Ready to Drive

After we checked out of the hotel, we went over the local golf club, where as guests at the Inn we were allowed to play. We did not do the real course, but we did try to hit some golf balls off the driving range. David got a real kick out of being driven around in a golf cart. I think I brought the wrong club for David, as he had too much difficulty hitting the balls off of the ground. It was a nice course, if a little hot that day. I am really hoping that he grows into the clubs I do have for him. I might just give in over the holidays and get him a new set fitted for his height.

High Knob View

The View from High Knob Overlook

After a detour to High Knob Overlook, it was time to come home. I had been told that it was possible to see for 30-40 miles on a good day. Being so close, and not wanting to miss an opportunity for something cool, I took the detour. The view was as advertised. It ended up being a fine finale for our trip—a trip that David deemed as “Quality Father-Son Time.” Success! 

High Knob Selfie

A Successful Selfie

Baseball Practice

September 4, 2018

Ready to go down to the field for baseball camp.

In order to get ready for baseball camp this year, I took David to the batting cages at Freddy Hill Farm. I convinced him to do the batting cages first, then the 2 mini-golf courses (actually, very good courses), and then the driving range. All of this would be followed by of course our traditional ice cream cone there. I was impressed that this year he was able to make contact with the slow pitch softball—an improvement from last year when he could not make contact at all. This looked so fun that I tried the slow pitch baseball—and I got some nice hits. Don’t let “slow pitch” fool you—-it is still hard to see the ball coming to you—and hitting is not easy at all. 

David was ready for baseball camp, which was fabulous this year. He got good instruction, made some nice catches and throws in the infield and outfield sections. He also got a couple of hits in the scrimmages they had. Excellent coaching this year—he wants to go back next year. As camp was ending on Tuesday, David asked if we could find an open space to play some catch. He wanted to test out his new ball catching technique that he had learned the previous day. I suggested that we go to the local school, which has a real softball field, and play catch there later that day. When we got to the school, “catch” had expanded into a full baseball practice (with whiffle balls and a softball). 


David set the agenda: 

First, infield grounders with return throws like he had done in camp

Second, pop ups, using the hand position learned in camp

Third, hitting, with us pitching to each other. Each hit became a single, each combination of 4 hits became a run, and some plays were outs. Strikeouts were allowed. 

Fourth, baserunning, where he would start at 3rd base and I would try to throw him out before he got home. 

Finally, The Big Baserunning Race—we each start at home plate and run around the bases (also, like they did in camp). David successfully maneuvered himself to get lead position up the first base line. I caught him by 2nd base, yet somehow he still managed to eke out a tie at the plate. 

The Tuesday session was so fun that we had to do it again! So I took him back to the school on Thursday night after dinner. This session was equally fun—-so much so that he called it “Quality Father Son Time”. 


Coached by David; Photo by David

The Thursday session inspired a repeat performance on the following Saturday. Same results, same amount of fun, with one exception: David wanted to teach me how to play WallBall. I guess I was an OK student; I even managed to get him out a few times. 

David is a good wall ball player and actually pretty good on the baseball diamond. Hmm….the Phillies are something 9-17 over the past few weeks. Major League rosters expanded from 25 to 40 players for September—-maybe I should contact the Phillies and suggest David. Just a thought. 


I got to run onto the field before the Trenton Thunder took the field.

Le Tour of France

July 30, 2018

Le Tour of France


Fly Away

David has recently become interested in all things French. This dates back to his interest in the American Revolution, sparked by his 2nd grade teacher. He became especially curious about the Marquis de Lafayette, and therefore France. This has gone on for several months, since the winter. Come July, and David mentions something about being interested in France (still). I immediately thought of the upcoming Tour de France, which is one of my favorite events. I’ve been watching it for years, since Miguel Indurain climbed to glory in the Alps and Pyrenees….but I digress.  The Tour goes all around France, ending in Paris and often has gorgeous shots of various scenery around the country. This year, it became an easy opportunity for me to show David about different parts of France. The scenic views tend to increase when the bike race itself is not particularly exciting. Of course, the mountain views are incredible. 


Upper Floors

Building a new Lego set during the bike race in Paris.

I immediately checked the calendar when the race would be on. Since the Tour ends in Paris, and David is a fan of the Louvre (the building), I also went to the library and found a guidebook to Paris. I was all set. One of the most famous buildings in Paris is the Eiffel Tower. It is not a “building” in that it does not have either walls or a roof; rather it is a structure of various iron supports that become a tower as they jut up into the sky. Each year on the last day, the TV coverage always has awesome shots of Paris and its most famous buildings and structures, including the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. 

BBQ Party

David’s BBQ party–beware the bandits behind the trees.

Also during July, I took David to a Lego Club “meeting”. The local Lego store opens up an hour early on Saturday, around 8:30 am. The participants get a small box with a small design inside of it. Then they think of an extension of the design into a broader scene. David extended the barbecue he was given into a backyard party being threatened by bandits. He created a whole backyard with a tennis court and a sandbox with enough people for a real summer party! It was really quite impressive. Naturally, every time he goes to the Lego store he wants to look around and browse. This time, I did also, specifically to the Architecture section of the store. David likes architecture, so I thought why not? I directed David’s attention to the Eiffel Tower box and the US Capitol box. He thought they looked kind of neat, and then got back to his creation. I noticed the prices—-$35 for the Eiffel Tower and somewhere around $70 for the US Capitol. Or maybe it was more. Typical Lego—not cheap. 

Genuine Leather

It looks like a credit card to me.

A week or so later, he decides that he wants the Eiffel Tower set after all. At least I thought he did, because he asked how much it costs. I told him $35, and then he started calculating how much money he had in savings. The answer was $25—a $10 gap. He knew enough so that he did not ask us to give him the $10. (We decided we would pay the sales tax).  Then I had an idea. David is very proud of his wallet. In that wallet is a “Genuine Leather Credit Card”. Well, that was convenient. Since David had a genuine leather credit card, why not use it? Why not let David use his “Genuine Leather Credit Card” to help buy his next Lego set. 

This of course implies that there is a bank willing to support this “Genuine Leather Credit Card”. There just happens to be one nearby, the Parental Bank—aka, “The Bank That Always Loves You”. Apparently, Mom and Dad are the credit officers. As it happens, I am already paying interest to David from the Bank of Dad. He some money in a box, I pay him an interest payment each month—just like a real bank, but obviously far more interest than a real bank. 

The topic of mortgage payments has come up, in that he knows that if we do not pay the mortgage, we will lose the house. We both agreed that paying the mortgage (and repaying debt) is a really good idea. I thought this missing $10 would be a great opportunity to teach David a little something about managing money, in an age appropriate manner. The other credit officer of the Parental Bank agreed it was a good idea to use this opportunity to teach David what a credit card was. This assumed David was of good behavior; he managed to behave well enough for the Credit Committee to approve the financing. 


David got a receipt showing how he paid for the Eiffel Tower.

On the day the Tour de France headed into Paris, I “sold” David the Lego Eiffel Tower I had bought the day before. He has a receipt for the $10 financing; if he pays the full $10 back by September 4th, he pays precisely zero interest. Otherwise, 20 cents on each dollar owed. He will have ample opportunities to earn the money. He will also have ample opportunities to work his newly built Eiffel Tower into the various scenarios he constructs for himself. He has of course already built it. 

Two Eiffel Towers

Photo by David–2 Eiffel Towers at the same time. Impressive patience to get the shot.

Center Support

Supports for the upper floor hinge off of here.


Construction Site

Construction Site


Eiffel's Garden

Eiffel’s Garden

We also found a little bonus as part of the deal. It turns out that the guidebook has several pages of English and French information about the Tower. We can learn about the history, design, and architect in English and in French. Since David has expressed an interest in learning French (along with his interest in France), this is very helpful indeed.

But he still owes the Parental Bank the $10. The Bank That Always Loves You also needs to stay in business….


Apparently the bad guys have taken over the Eiffel Tower from the Ninjas….


Update: September 4th: The Bank of Mom and Dad certified that David has paid his bill, due today, in full.

A Fairy Tale

July 5, 2018

I love going to Winterthur, a garden that was once one of the old DuPont estates near Wilmington. Since I love to go there, Stephanie and David get numerous opportunities to go there as well. I am not sure if they love it as much as I do, but I do know each time we get there David discovers (or, creates), something new. Our last visit was a couple of weeks ago, when they had a kid’s event as well as the final weekend for the Honus Wagner card. 


If you have a spare few million dollars, you can buy this card if and when it goes up for sale. Don’t count on that happening anytime soon.

The kid’s event was in their Enchanted Woods, the garden specially designed for children. David decided that the various structures and elements of that garden were actually the habitats of fairies and the location of their sources of magic.  I was more than a little skeptical, so David offered to take me on a tour. The tour stops are below in the photos. Shortly after the tour, we left Winterthur and found a pizza shop for dinner. David ordered Caesar salad. That proved that David was correct—there really was magic in the garden!

Born Here With Fairy Eggs

They fairies are born in this nest.

Story time occurs here:

Stories Area

All of the known stories start with “Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Life Is But A Dream”

According to David, fairies love books nearly as much as he does. After all, it is impossible to live without books!

Books for Children

Books for children. Honor system.

Eventually, the children move out into their own apartments.

Apartments for Fairies

Fairy Apartments

Unfortunately, some of the apartments are not so open and friendly looking:

Evil One's Residence

The residence of the Evil One.

Good thing there are nearby sources of Magic and Magic Water:

Magic Source2

Source of Magic

Magic Water

Did I mention that the water here is magical?

Weddings are a cause for great celebration.

Wedding Location

A perfect spot for a wedding. All fairy weddings, actually.

Everyone should have Tea with the Twelve at least once in their lives:

Tea for the 12

The Twelve are Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, September, Oct, Nov, and Dec. They congregate here.

Some are curious how long they will live for. Sometimes they are happy with the answer, sometimes not:

Timings of Life

The timings of life–where you get on the chain of stones correlates to how long you live.

No one is immortal, and they are remembered here:

Fairies Buried Here

Burial and Memorial Area



A Shakespearean Primer

June 18, 2018

Last Saturday, as part of my Father’s Day Garden Day, I decided I wanted to go to Longwood Gardens. We were nearby, and we are members, so why not. I was really enthusiastic about this idea, Stephanie and David may or may not have been. But it was a special Father’s Day request from me, so we went. I know, Father’s Day was Sunday, but Saturday was perfect weather. Sunday was forecasted to be in the 90s—very hot for a place like Longwood.

Flower Garden Walk

David on the Flower Garden Walk. I have the water and other supplies.

When we got there, we found out that in addition to the longer summer hours and fountain shows, they were hosting a series of Shakespeare performances over the weekend. Luckily, the next available one was near one of David’s favorite places there—the Main Fountain Garden. As it happened, David and I had explored it recently and he had wanted to show Mom anyway. As the time for the first play approached, I ushered David (and Stephanie) to the performance area outside the East Conservatory. We settled in and watched the sword fight scene between Macbeth and MacDuff. David videotaped the entire scene (10 minutes), offering his commentary as various points. 

Fountain Garden

From the Fountain Garden

We then went back into the nearby Fountain Garden and continued our explorations. We caught a fountain show, which David also videotaped and also included his critic’s commentary. After a short while, we went into another plaza, and above us on the staircases and balcony was a performance of the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. We all enjoyed that one also. By this time we were all very tired—at least Stephanie and I were. We told David that it was time to leave. Historically, getting David out of Longwood Gardens is a process, and this time was no different—-with one exception. This time he said that he wanted to come back the next day and see more Shakespeare. 


Romeo and Juliet Performance

He seriously said that. Well, maybe not those exact words, but he did want to come back the next day and see more of the Shakespeare performances. As much as I love going to Longwood, I was not enthusiastic at all of going back there the next day. First, it is an hour drive, and second, it was supposed to be really hot. Third, I was going to be tired Sunday afternoon because I planned to check out a new ultimate frisbee game Sunday morning with David. However, how many 8 year olds request to see Shakespeare? One—mine. So I decided to spend my Father’s Day afternoon taking my son back to the outdoor Shakespeare shows—at Longwood—an hour away. Stephanie helped up prepare for the heat. A timely gelato stand find at 4:30 pm was very useful as well (and the Oro Blanco grapefruit infused beer I tasted then was really good).    

David Bell Tower

David did want to explore the Bell Tower

This visit to Longwood was mission driven—not exploration and discovery. I had carefully plan where to be and when, based on where the Shakespeare scenes were being performed. With some effort, we did manage to catch the other 3 scenes that David wanted to see—scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Caesar, and Much Ado about Nothing. We really enjoyed and were impressed by the performances put on by the Delaware Shakespeare Festival. David noticed that the same actors and actresses were in multiple scenes. I told David that meant that they had to work really hard to make that happen. 

As hot as Longwood was yesterday, the trip out there with David was a great experience, as it always is.  

Lily Pads

David discovers something new at Longwood every time we go there, without exception.


The Cook-Off

June 13, 2018

It was literally called “David’s Cook-Off”. Around Memorial Day, David decided that he wanted to cook dinner for the family. This announcement was greeted with universal enthusiasm. Mom loved the fact that David would cook dinner in her stead; Dad loved David’s engagement in the culinary process. Daddy also figured any son of this particular Mom had high culinary potential—therefore, anything said son cooked was bound to be really, really, good. 

Suffice it to say that David very carefully put together recipes for his creations. For essentially the week after Memorial Day, the Cook-Off continued–and David has declared it to be an annual event in the house. Even after the “cook-off” has ended, he is still every so often hoping to make dinner—or, at the very least try different experiments in cooking. Some succeed, and some don’t.  

First Night

Special tacos and special chocolate beverages for all.



An impressive scrambled egg dish, accompanied by round 2 of the Special Chocolate Beverage.


Miso Soup

Turns out there is a specific Miso Soup broth that should be used. Tofu is one of the chef’s favorite additives.


Sushi Man

Sushi anyone? Mango perhaps? This is all I am making so I expect it to disappear quickly. (It did.)


Sushi and Soup

Oh, you wanted miso with your sushi? So did the chef.

The Frame Shop

May 2, 2018

I CAN’T WAIT to see the frame….

David’s winning a Science Fair category at school was really cool. Seeing him on TV later that night qualified for Total Awesomeness and was therefore Totally Memorable. We wanted to preserve the memory of this into something that would be spectacular. We therefore went to the Art of Framing, a frame shop near us that we have used over the years. David has been highly engaged every time we have gone there and this time was no different. He immediately started looking at the various frames, and quickly announced that he had a few in mind. Melissa and Sok (the owners) suggested some pretty nifty frames also; the winner was a white one that actually looked like bones (with a red internal highlight). This was very appropriate, since David’s exhibit was about bones. 

David is a more than a little curious, and quickly expressed interest in a particular machine at the shop. The machine has something to do with cutting material to provide holes through which to see the underlying pictures. I noticed David listening very intently as Melissa and Sok explained how the machine worked. It was difficult for me as Dad to decide which was more interesting—how the machine worked, or how fascinated David was in how the machine worked. 



A couple of weeks later, our frame was ready. David was very excited to see the final product. He was not disappointed, as it essentially turned a family memory into a work of art. Not only are we now able to see a screenshot of David on TV, we can also see a replica of his medal as well as his (winning) creative display. This was not the first time that the Art of Framing had converted memories into art for us. For example, a random photo of a trip to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Art became a work of art in our house when we got it back. The colors were too much to pass up, and I love seeing it every day. 


Frame Selection by David

As I was paying for the frame (notice Dad’s role as the functional assistant to the youthful artist), I overheard Sok telling David all about the Impressionist art at the Barnes Foundation. I do not know how that conversation started, but after it ended David started playing with some of the frames and putting them on a machine they have there. Actually, the frame samples looked pretty good together! Melissa and Sok were nice enough to let David keep experimenting with the frames. He tried different patterns out and then arrived at an arrangement he calls Mirror and Glaze. He also took advantage of the creative time to strike some poses amongst the frame walls (Actually, I had him pose as my price for my efforts as the Functional Assistant). 


The Creative Process

In the process of hanging up the framed set, I noticed that my chosen location did not work. “Science Fair 2018” fit well into the planned space; however, the red in this particular picture did not work at all with the blue/green frame of the piece below it (“Thank You Gumby”, thank you note dictated by DJZ in 2011. Resulting stylish frame donated by Uncle Andy and Aunt Sunny and gratefully hung up by David’s parents).  However, next to Thank You Gumby in the Hallway Gallery is a family montage with series of reddish wood frames. “Science Fair 2018” works perfectly above this montage. Helpfully, David has recently brought home another piece from art class in school with enough blues and greens to complement Thank You Gumby, thereby filling that space very well with more contemporary work. 

Full Pose

Artist’s Workshop

I must have learned something at the frame shop as I watched David work with Melissa and Sok!