December 16, 2009

Powdered Sugar

(Image via bluewaikiki on Flickr)

shopping too late:

in the baking aisle a gap –

no powdered sugar

(Thanks to the good folks
at Haiku Bones for the prompt.)

December 09, 2009

Biscotti-a-thon 2009

Each year, for the last six years or so, I have baked biscotti over the course of the first weekend in December. This year was no different.

Pictures of the finished product would look pretty much the same every year, so this year I tried to snag a few "in process" shots.

My big blue bowl, which I use for the wet ingredients,
shown here after I've molded and scooped a loaf's worth
of anise-flavored dough out of it. Of course
with my bare hands! I was the kid who begged to be
allowed to mix up the paper maché
in art class!

Here's our small kitchen table, transformed
into my main work area. The dry sifted ingredients
for a batch of cocoa/ cranberry/ almond biscotti
are in the red bowl.

Here's a batch of anise biscotti cooling down,
and a loaf of cocoa/ cranberry/ almond in the midst
of being sliced and arranged for a second round of baking.

Multiple batches of these biscotti are now making their way to New York, Maryland, North Carolina, Michigan, Massachusetts, Florida, and California. Would you like to hear the story of how this tradition got started?

When I was growing up, my Oma spent hours and hours in the kitchen during Advent, sending out batches of special Christmas cookies and her special Stollen to everyone in the next generation.

Only one problem.

I don't actually like Stollen. And after a while, knowing how much work it took, I started to feel bad about the work Oma was putting into my Stollen. "Maybe I should just tell her I don't really like it," I said to various family members, all of whom reacted as though I was considering bashing my Oma over the head with a frying pan.

"You CAN'T tell her!" they exclaimed. But my nagging sense of guilt persisted, and finally the right moment presented itself. I thanked my Oma for all her hard work. And praised the lightness of her Almondkuchen. And finally, with a gulp, confessed to not be the world's biggest fan of Stollen.

There was a brief pause. "Ja?" asked my Oma. "Zen vhat should I make for you?" And that was the end of that. Extra Almondkuchen for me every year until she finally passed away.

Around this time, a friend told me about making biscotti, and I had an epiphany... people whose heritage is not Italian can still make biscotti. I asked a wonderful baker who did happen to be Italian in my then-office at TCNJ for advice, and soon I was making creditable biscotti.

So now, in honor of my grandmother and in the time-honored "food is love" tradition, I send biscotti out to my family every December. The only rule? If they don't really like biscotti, they have to tell me!

(Hat tip to Auntie Nish, who made biscotti seem possible,
Aunt Stacy, whose food blogging inspires me,
and Mr. D's fabulous aunties, who tucked him
under their wings this weekend.)

November 27, 2009

Light Passing Through

My friend Laura McClanahan is an artist.

I missed her most recent show's opening, but wrote the closing date on my calendar. I would say that fully half of the art shows I've attended in my life I've attended on the final day. It seems that the spectre of of missing the work entirely is what finally propels a show to the top of my to-do list! Last Sunday was that day for Laura's show, and when I plaintively explained my situation to my family, they lovingly jumped in the car and joined me on a road trip to the Hunterdon Art Museum.

The work was fabulous, as I knew it would be. Laura has been using light as a kind of ally in her most recent pieces, shining or beaming it through objects of her choosing or creation in order to create photograms which capture a kind of alternate universe. These reminiscently cellular images have a taxonomy all their own, at once familiar and utterly strange, and afterwards I kept thinking about how different it is to focus on an object's translucence, when so much of what we think of when confronted with the material world has to do with the seeming solidity of the opaque.

Mr. D was particularly transfixed by the video installation, and kept crying out to us to, "Quick, look now!" as the kaleidoscopic patterns morphed before his eyes. "It's always different," he explained to us in the tone of one who understands and would like to bring the neophytes up to speed.

Here's a picture of T's favorite piece, with the video installation's reflection adding its own note to the composition. If you look closely, you can also see the back of Mr. D's head reflected in the glass near the center of the frame; his attachment to the video images is also captured.

We are less solid than we seem or feel ourselves to be. There are kinds of waves that pass right through us, sometimes without our knowing it. Artists give us the chance to catch a glimpse of the impossible, to pin the wave on the shore, if only for a moment, so that we can feel and understand ourselves in relation to it.

I'm so glad we were able to go.

(And, special bonus,
the museum is just minutes away from
the famous Clinton Station Diner!
We ignored the 50 lb. burger nonsense
and went straight for the 24 hr. breakfast menu.)

November 26, 2009


The dog's fur was almost exactly the same shade of brown as the endless fallen leaves that blanket the earth behind the Princeton Friends Schoolhouse.

After our shared time in worship in the Quaker Meetinghouse, the adults usually migrate to the First Day School for some refreshments and fellowship. A group of the elementary school-aged children have taken to grabbing a cookie and then heading into the woods for a different sort of fellowship. K usually finds at least one salamander. Our own Mr. D likes to try to figure out what kinds of trees are in that patch of woods. And last Sunday, young E suddenly called out, "It's a DOG!"

The other boys came running, wanting to believe, but not knowing if they should. But sure enough, E was absolutely right. There, lying on the cold ground, was a dog, perfectly blended in and still except for a pronounced shiver.

"He's hurt!" yelled one of the boys, at which point they all began calling for their parents. We gathered in a little worried knot, trying to figure out how a pet could have ended up so far from any home. "He's cold," said one boy. "We should get some blankets."

"I'm going to go get some apples in case it's hungry!" yelled Mr. D over his shoulder as he dashed for the First Day School building.

The boys industriously plied the animal with apples, water, graham crackers, and goldfish crackers. The dog drank eagerly and ate obligingly. It ears perked up a bit, but it did not try to stand. One of the legs we could see looked like it had some kind of growth or injury. The tag on the dog's collar included its registration number with the Township police. The adults called the police, got some blankets, and made plans to take the dog to the animal shelter if neither its owner nor the animal control officers could be reached on a Sunday afternoon. But it was the boys who tended to the immediate needs of their discovered dog.

When the van from SAVE pulled up, the staff person gently cradled the dog in his arms and carried her away. The boys trailed along behind, not quite ready to relinquish their protective role.

The next morning, I called SAVE to find out if they'd been able to reach the owner. "Oh, yes," they said, "she came first thing this morning and was SO thankful to get her dog back. She was crying with happiness. The dog is fifteen years old, has cancer, and is probably near the end of her life. She may even have left home in search of a quiet corner to die, but the owner is so grateful to be able to be with her for whatever time she has left."

So much to be thankful for.

(And a special Happy Birthday
to my dear friend K,
who is the mother of two of these
kind-hearted boys.)

November 04, 2009

Hallowe'en 2009

This Hallowe'en found us fleeing the premises to join our friends up in Dunellen. Our street is still under construction, and the thought of dealing with all that mud was just more than we could bear. We put a basket full of treats on the porch with a note and hightailed it out of here. Once in Dunellen, we found a smartly dressed Highlander eagerly awaiting the arrival of our own "half-dead boy":

The Highlander seemed mostly friendly...

and once again, the fake blood had clearly
been flowing at our house this year.

The look that says,
"Gimme some candy or I'll bleed on you..."

Here's the all-important loot-divvy in progress...

We all had a great time!

(And of course there are more action shots
over on Sassafras Mama's blog!)

We Missed the Party

Mr. D's great grandmother Wid celebrated her 99th birthday recently. We couldn't make the party, so we sent along some warm birthday wishes, accompanied by these images.

I was art-directed by Mr. D in this shot. ("You have to open your mouth and look shocked, Mommy!") Tama was still recovering from the flu, and so was granted a reprieve from our photoshoot activities.

(There's a picture from the party itself
up over at the Snowshoe Diaries.)

November 03, 2009

First Political Memory

"Framing the Shot"

During the 2004 US Presidential race, our Mr. D was regular attender at local political events. He was three years old and being dragged along, so he doesn’t remember that much about it. My teacher friend Sassafras Mama asks her students to think about their earliest political memories, and I wonder now if our trip to the National Equality March (NEM) last month might someday qualify as Mr. D’s first political memory.

"No Justice, No Peace"

As parents, our approach to the social issues of the day – racism, immigration, healthcare, poverty, taxes, equal rights for the LGBT community – has been to try to “get out in front” and provide our Mr. D with some context. We tell our stories as the time seems ripe. He knows that our taxes help pay his teachers’ salaries, and that racism is still something we’re all working on. We have debated about how explicit to be about gay and lesbian issues, since those terms are not much a part of his everyday life, but we’ve heard from other LGBTQ parents that second to fourth grade seem to be prime years for a kind of aggressive monitoring and discussion of difference amongst students, so the National Equality March seemed like a good way to introduce him to the ideas that underlie our current struggle.

We went with a bus full of high school students, so spirits were high from the outset. Once we arrived in our nation's capital, the crowds were enormous, loud, and impressive in both their relative youth and racial diversity. Having previously attended national marches as a young student activist, it was very different to attend as a parent and quasi-chaperone. When the traditional call-and-response chant of “What do we want?” “EQUAL RIGHTS!” When do we want ‘em?” “NOW!” went up, I substituted in “YESTERDAY!” at the end, explaining to the students near me that my t-shirt (from a march in the late 1980’s) was older than they were. We got home around 11pm, and Mr. D asked some good questions without ever complaining.

In the weeks after the March, the race for the NJ governorship tightened, with Corzine (D) and Christie’s (R) stances on gay marriage being one of the starkest differences between them. Suddenly, gay issues were up for discussion at every turn, and for the first time in his life, Mr. D heard an older kid speaking out about the “grossness” of all things gay. Our son was much better prepared to put comments like that in perspective, having had some conversations with us about homophobia and the people who oppose equal rights for lesbians and gays.

I wasn’t sure how taking an eight year old to the March would work out, but I am so glad now that our Mr. D has seen a loud, large crowd of lively supporters of LGBTQ rights. In the weeks before the National Equality March, I’d told him that although his Tama and I aren’t married in a way our government recognizes, we think we are on the right side of history and that in any case, he doesn’t need to worry about us. “How do you know we're on the right side of history?” he asked.

In the quiet dark of the bus ride home, I reminded him of his question and said, “Did you see all those people who came together today? That’s how I know, buddy.”

(It's taken me a long time to process
this momentous event; finally tonight,
awaiting the results of the NJ gubernatorial elections,
it seemed like the right time to pull it all together.)

October 23, 2009

Last Hurrah

It is a measure of the power of his music that my mental jukebox has pretty much been stuck on "all Springsteen, all the time" since we caught the very last concert at Giants Stadium back on October 10th.

We are so grateful to the several people who conspired to make the night possible for us, from Ms. N who sold us the tickets to our dear friend D who tucked our Mr. D under her wing with no notice at all. We had a fantastic time. Mr. Springsteen and his band seemed like they were having a great time. He surfed the crowd, let us sing the first verse and chorus of Hungry Heart, and just generally put on an amazing show. Here's what T & I looked like as The Boss launched into "Born To Run":

Pretty much sums it up.

(And, in case you're wondering what my jukebox is playing,
here's the set list (over three hours of music):
Wrecking Ball (new song with Giants' Stadium as the protagonist!),
Badlands, Spirit in the Night, Outlaw Pete,
Hungry Heart, Working on a Dream, Born in the U.S.A.,
Cover Me, Darlington County, Working on the Highway,
Downbound Train, I’m On Fire, No Surrender,
Bobby Jean, I’m Goin’ Down, Glory Days,
Dancing in the Dark, My Hometown, Tougher Than the Rest,
The Promised Land, Last To Die, Long Walk Home,
The Rising, Born To Run, You Sexy Thing/Raise Your Hand,
The Last Time, Waitin’ on a Sunny Day, Seven Nights To Rock,
Kitty’s Back, American Land, Jersey Girl)

October 16, 2009

Church of Backup, Revisited

I've written before about the importance of backing up your stuff. It's boring, but vital. (Anyone who has lost their stuff can wave their hands and give me an Amen.)

And if you're still not a member in good standing of the Church of Backup, you might consider that old grade-school standby, the buddy system. It's been working pretty well for my dad and me. (Hi Dad!)

Meanwhile, more and more of my life is lived / played out online, the questions about backup become more urgent.

At about my 2,000th tweet I realized that I was starting to lose track of things that I'd tweeted. I could remember that I'd tweeted out a link, but not who it had come from, or whether I'd also bookmarked it. Which is why I was so happy when Storytlr came along. Dead simple and super helpful; I instantly gained the ability to search through all my tweets with ease. Today a new online friend told me the sad news that Storytlr will be going offline at the end of the year. Phooey!

All of which raises the point... when you entrust your data to someone else, you're at risk. Other people can lose or inadvertently mangle your data, or they can simply go out of business. Services like Twitter that quickly become a staple of our online lives give us the opportunity to develop a whole new set of contacts... but do we have them? Or does Twitter?

One day this summer I was working on a presentation on my Google Docs account, when suddenly I was blacklisted. Two days before I was to present. I couldn't get into Google Docs at all, and had no idea why. My only recourse was to fill out the relevant form and wait while frantically querying my network and discovering a surprising number of folks who said, "Yeah, that happened to me once." A day or so later, just as mysteriously as it had gone black, my account was whitelisted again and I was ready to go. But it was a terrible day.

Is this where Backupify might come in? Backupify is a service that is expressly designed to help us backup our online accounts. Twitter, Wordpress, Facebook, GMail, Google Docs, and a bunch more services are covered... the basic plan includes Twitter backup at no cost. More services and more space will result in a fee that is likely to seem like the best investment you've ever made the first time some of your stuff drops into a black hole.

I've signed up, but I don't think a backup has occurred yet; I am eager to see the service in action! (And by posting about it, I hope that I've just qualified for a premium account.) I never expected to be following hundreds of folks on Twitter (or to have hundreds of them following me), or to Tweet out hundreds of links, but I would be crushed to lose all that information, because so much of it was about serendipity... how would I ever re-create it?

How about you? What could YOU not afford to lose? And what are you doing about it?

October 13, 2009

Too Much Fun

While I was busy presenting at NACAC back in September, our man Mr. D was having the time of his life while visiting with his most excellent cousins and their attendant adults.

Cousin C. opts for a trip of her own

No wonder it was so heavy!

On our way home we adults got to spend a little time
hanging out, and it was nice to be reminded
of my sister's ability to see treasure everywhere.
(Boards from this fence were deemed worthy salvage.)

Meanwhile, the cousins played balancing games...

...and look, "magic elbow" is an inherited gift!

(Trying to get caught up to this past weekend,
which was jam-packed!)

October 11, 2009

September 25, 2009

Weekend Adventures

This is what we looked like as we were about to head into
the long-awaited Joan Osborne concert.
Very, very happy campers.

Earlier that weekend, we basked in the glow of community
during the annual First Day School campout.
Here, young master E.
happily demonstrates the coziness of our tent.

Mr. D took this picture of his friend.
He's got a good eye for portraiture,
don't you think?

S'mores are the staff of life.

We were quite pleased to wake up all snuggled together!

(The evening temperature was in the 40's, we think.
Let's hear it for down-filled sleeping bags!)

September 04, 2009

Eight Years

He turned eight yesterday.
School starts Tuesday.
He is ready.
We are not.

(Party pics tomorrow, we hope!)

August 30, 2009

The Colors of Summer

Butterfly beside the pool
where I pretty much live in the summer

Multiple variants of tomato bounty

More roadside yumminess
(at a stand that runs on the honor system, by the way)

Oooh, whose pearl-grey & aubergine house is that?


August 26, 2009

Auntie Camp III

When I was growing up in NY, a chance to see my cousins, who lived in FL, was the highlight of any year.

My sister and I are working hard to make sure that this generation of cousins (at least the East Coast ones) have a chance to develop and deepen their relationships with each other. For the past three years, my sister's two girls have spent some time with us here in NJ, while Mr. D has spent some time down in MD with them. This year's week of NJ Auntie Camp started with a promising sign (this shot was taken literally within minutes of our scooping up the fabulous Misses T & C:

And once the girls were settled in, we immediately broke out the games:

(Turns out Cousin C is a pretty serious Hang On, Harvey competitor!)

During the day, all three kids attended Princeton Friends Summer Camp, a wonderful camp which fosters both their imagination and their love of the natural world. (In the picture below, cousin C and Mr. D are showing off C's village, which she and her group worked on througout the week.)

Auntie Camp already has lots of traditions, and every year we seem to add a few new ones. This year's addition? The ritual dumping out of shoes BEFORE we get in Aunt Shelley's car! (Average amount of sand thus collected: 2.8 cups!)

Every camp week has a different theme. Of course you can guess from the picture that this year the kids attended during...

Superhero Week!

Can you feel the love?

Another tradition: end-of-camp Stewart's dinner

And the "so glad to have you back" hug?
Also traditional.

(We're already looking forward to next year!)

August 16, 2009

Lose the Training Wheels

Ways to assist a young person who wants to learn to ride a bike: Project confidence. Enjoy your own bike rides. Install training wheels. Spend time watching other kids riding. Smile encouragingly. Talk about caution, responsibility, and freedom. Model caution, responsibility, and freedom. Practice patience. Take the training wheels off. Promise to keep your hand on the seat. Run alongside. Yell words of encouragement. Start on a straight road lined with soft grass. Apply bandaids and kisses as needed. Require the donning of long pants. Put the training wheels back on. Tell true-life stories about your own learning. Allow breaks. Test the brakes. Watch for signs of returning confidence. Take the training wheels off again, this time for good.

~ ~ ~

This afternoon a friend told me the story of her daughter, many years ago now, falling in love with a school for the performing arts in another state and ultimately moving away to attend there. She made arrangements to stay with the families of several other students in order to make it work. As a sixteen year-old. Trying to imagine making that decision, I said, "It must have been so hard to say yes to that."

"I didn't say yes," my friend responded, "At least not at first. I tried everything I could to talk her out of it; I even dragged her back and re-enrolled her in the school in our town after I visited her at the school she wanted to attend. But two friends of mine sat me down and said, 'You have to let her go,' and they were right. So I did."

~ ~ ~

I am so fortunate. My learning network is well-stocked with thoughtful, courageous people.

In the past few months I've read several blog posts that resonated with me. Each dealt with the idea of supporting children's development as learners in a slightly different way.

In the first, Vicki Davis (aka coolcatteacher) tells the story of a white water rafting trip which she then relates to her goals for the students she works with:
We have got to come to grips with how to take children from walled gardens to a point where they can safely operate in public places before they graduate from high school.
In the second, author Maya Frost (The New Global Student), responds to articles on college search consultants by making an impassioned case for "breaking the cycle of learned helplessness":
When we rely on expensive services to prep kids for top schools, we are telling them that they can't possibly compete in the real world without our assistance — and our money. Parents who want their kids to be able to get great jobs they love after graduation (without their help) are better off teaching their kids how to flesh out an idea, research the heck out of it, and follow the thread that leads to the most thrilling and fulfilling opportunities.

Parents: If you are considering paying for college help, consider what you are saying to your son or daughter by hiring a consultant to do what most families handle without assistance. Think about how you might spend that money in a way that could give your student more opportunities to develop confidence, relevant skills, a clear sense of direction and flaming enthusiasm.

The biggest problem with learned helplessness is that it's contagious and hereditary. Stop the cycle now, and your kids will have a much brighter future.
Finally, just last week I read a post on parenting by C.C. Chapman over at Digital Dads:
What I’m getting at is that you need to make sure that your kids realize that the only way to succeed in life is to always work hard, to be strong willed and be the best you can be at whatever it is that you are passionate about. Yes, there are going to be plenty of people standing in your way, telling you no and gates set up to block them. But, I hope and pray that everything I’m doing with my kids is raising them to be a gatejumper who chases their dreams with every ounce of their soul.
I am interested in how these ideas play out in the real world. Most parents I know would agree with the idea that parenting is all about supporting their children's growth towards independence, but different parents are going to do very different things when confronted with the imagined reality of assuring some kind of "advantage" for their own son or daughter, or with the soul-gripping terror that can accompany the prospect of actually letting go.

Every choice we make is a reflection of the best information we have at the time, as seen through the values we hold. If I am reflective and transparent in my work with students and my work as a parent, will it help me "maintain course" as I move forward?

I want to be thinking, "Will this choice help move this child (student) towards a life oriented towards life-long learning, ethical and deliberate decision-making, and love?"

Or, more simply:

Will this choice move us all towards the day when the training wheels come off?

August 03, 2009

Beware of Dog

(Photo credit: T. Feld)

Here's a guest post by my amazing sister, who lives in MD. Our son is currently down there visiting with his aunt and uncle, his two beloved cousins T & C, and their two dogs, Chance and Nina. Nina is a relatively new addition to that family, and this post is an excerpt of my sister's email to me yesterday:

It's very common for dogs to fear kids. Kids are louder, more physical, and far less predictable than adults.

Your son is awesome. He was pretty much attacked by our new dog THREE times. Every time, I slammed her to the floor and held her down by her neck and threw her out of the house, etc... to make sure she knew where he was in the pack (i.e. way the heck above her). She never got all the way TO him, but charged at him, barking, baring teeth, the whole nine. Then, I tried holding her in one arm while loving on him with the other arm and talking to him like he was the greatest. That's when she COMPLETELY freaked the heck out and went wiggy, flinging herself any which way to get the heck away from him, and cutting my nose with her tooth on the way (I really felt more as if she was running with knives and cut me on the way by than as if she actively bit me, but whatever it was, thank GOD she didn't get D, and WHO WOULD BLAME HIM if he a. wanted her banished from the house permanently or b. wanted to go home or something.)

But NO. Quite the contrary. He heard me talking to Steve about how D wasn't doing a thing to her and usually wasn't even NEAR her when she went off, and how we might need to get rid of her if she can't handle visiting kids (she has never had any similar reaction to adults). D said, "Oh, no! I hope you don't get rid of her! I like Nina. I think she's just really scared of me." What an amazing response. And he meant it.

Then, I thought about it and realized her reaction was totally wig-out fear-ish. I thought about eye contact. D had said that before each "charge" she had been staring at him for minutes on end. Well, for him to know that, he must have been staring at her, too (again, can't blame him a bit -- I would keep my eye on her, too). If she's wary of him, and then he keeps locking eyes with her, she will definitely take that as an aggressive sign (poor D was being anything but...)

I told D if he wanted, we would just keep her outside while he's here, unless he's at camp, or down in the basement, or in C's room w/ door closed, etc. I told him that would be completely understandable and fine by me. I told him too, though, that what I would prefer is to have her around some of the time, so she can get used to him, and put her out if she's staring at him, or making him at all nervous. He was 100% cool with that. I even asked if he was sure and he said "yes."

Then, I told him to completely avoid looking at her, at all, and loaded him up with treats. He carried those things like sabers! It was as if he felt safe as long as he had a treat! And without my urging, coaching, etc, he took the whole thing on like a little scientist, and began trying to offer her treats in different ways -- sitting down first, not looking, with voice, without voice, putting it on the floor, holding it in his hand. He was SO psyched when he got her to slink up and gingerly take it from his hand -- after at least 45 minutes of work -- her ears slicked to her little head. And, the whole time, he was expertly managing Chance (who needed treats, too, don't cha' know...) and C, who kept trying to "help."

Then, I told him that the most reassuring position for him would be to sit with his back to her, offering up his behind, so to speak. He said, "Okay, that's really scary." I said, "You're right -- forget it." Within 40 minutes, he said, "I want to try the really un-aggressive thing." Little sweetie. So, he did, and slowly, over the course of the evening, she eventually came up and began licking his outstretched hand, with him still not looking at her. He was on Cloud Nine!

This morning, we were all snuggling in bed, and I asked him to continue avoiding eye contact, and she came right over to him on the bed, rolled on her back, offering up her tummy and neck. I told him that was a great sign. He was still nervous every time she moved quickly, and we had to reassure him that she was coming to lick him, not attack him, but he really, really wanted to be her friend, so he hung in there through understandable fear. (She's still nervous when he moves quickly, too, so we will keep a very close eye, and not make any assumptions that everything's great now, etc...)

He is in charge of feeding her. After b'fast this AM, he said, "Tomorrow, maybe I can look at her!" He really likes her, God bless him. He's just been a gem, and I think the two of them will be fine now. And I intend to make it clear to him that he has really helped our family with his courage and his efforts to work with her. You should be very, VERY proud.

(Of course we are proud.
And SO grateful to my fabulous sister!
Our Mr. D has experienced the winning power
of kindness before,
when he tucked a non-English-speaking
classmate under his wing.
He knows about aggression from our conversations
about which games we approve of him playing,
and what makes a great wrestler great.
He knows about fear and violence because
as Quakers, we talk about the hidden roots of violence.
And he knows about the scientific method because
ever since he started asking "why" about everything,
we've been responding, "We'll tell you what we think,
but first, what's your theory?"
We have NO idea where he learned patience.)

July 29, 2009

Lessons From Camp 2009

We have returned from our traditional two weeks of camping at the amazing North of Highland Camping Area in North Truro, MA. (Hi, Bruce, Jan, Mary, & Brett!) Our dining room looks a little bit like a camping store blew up in it. But several folks have asked for our also traditional post-trip "Lessons from Camp" post, so the bungee bag and ice chest will just have to wait one more night. Here are this year's Lessons from Camp:

Enjoy the day... matter what the weather.

Dance... the Spirit moves you.

Bring bikes and helmets...

...and, at all times,
be prepared to swim.

Make your own souvenirs!
(Awesome visiting auntie strongly recommended.)

Leave the tents
as flat as you found them.

And fly.
You know you want to.

(Shoutouts to our camping partners Sassafras Mama and JT,
as well as to Paula Poundstone,
who was achingly funny at Vixen that first Thursday night,
& Miss Tara, who made a night in town possible again.
As always, thanks to our families for putting up

with our relative inaccessibility,
and big smushy cyberkisses

to Auntie Nish, Wendy, Karen Schiff, and Aunt Chelle
for their contributions (snailmail and otherwise)
to an extra-special stay at camp this year.
Can't get enough?
Aunt Chelle's and Sassafras Mama's pics are pretty great, too!)