Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Collecting Trash on Earth Day in Washington, D.C.

April 27, 2009
Picking up trash on Earth Day (National Capital Building)

Earth Day - Collecting trash on the mall in front of the National Capitol Building.

For spring vacation, Booh and I made a road trip passing through seven different states, with a stop in Washington, D.C.  

Earth Day happened to fall during her school break this year and the “Environmental Team” at her school coordinated a litter pick-up project for students during the break. Kids that agreed to pick up a bag of trash on Earth Day received either a pine tree sapling to plant or an energy saving light bulb. Booh picked the pine tree and on Earth Day we found ourselves on the Washington Mall.

Picking up trash on Earth Day (Washington Monument)

Earth Day - Collecting trash on the mall with the Washington Monument in the background.

Here she is picking up trash with the Capitol Building and the Washington Monuments in the background. The day was blustery and cool in the morning, lending to a great visual background with the dark skies on one horizon and the sun breaking through on the other.  

I love the imagery and timing of these photos: Earth Day, cleaning up the Washington Mall, the dark skies, national icons on the horizon.  

This lends well to her desire to be an environmental activist.


The Mystical Experience

January 30, 2009

Greek Orthodox Christening Collage

Booh’s cousin on her daddy’s side was the godmother for this little girl being Christened. A very formal affair, drenched in old traditions. The inside of this church is so beautiful with it’s stained glass windows, golden orthodox icons, candles and marble. It’s a very special place; however, these photos don’t do the glory of images inside this church justice!

When Booh was about 3 years old she went to service with her Thea (Greek for Aunt). Above the pews is a dome with orthodox icons, including angels. There is a balcony where the choir sits which can not be seen by the folks below. They started to sing and Booh looked up towards the golden angles and said to her Thea, “The angels are singing!”

They really know how to set these places for the open hearted to have a mystical experience.

Obama Icon

January 25, 2009

Kimberly, my flickr friend, turned me on to where we could join the masses and turn one of our photos into an “Obama Icon.”  Seeing as Booh and I are dreadfully sick this weekend and are looking for ways to entertain ourselves, we clowned around and made a few, including this one of the two of us.  I asked her to come up with a word to post to the bottom and only “Love” would do.  We’ve been doing a snuggling along side all of our sniffing, sneezing and coughing … with love as our strongest medicine.  She’s my little love bug! –  Make your own at

The Snow Moon

January 9, 2009

Full moons come,
full moons go,
softening nights
with their silver glow.
They pass in silence,
all untamed,
but as they travel,
they are named.

When the Moon is Full: A Lunar Year
by Penny Pollock

In many cultures a folklore name is associated with each full moon of the year. January’s full moon was called the Wolf Moon by some Native Americans, as noted in Penny Pollocks book, When the Moon is Full: A Lunar Year.

The Farmer’s Almanac describes Januarys moon lore, “Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January’s full Moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule. Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied that name to the next Moon.”

Pollock writes a simple children’s books that offers an elementary look at moon lore. It’s beautifully illustrated with woodcuts that have been hand colored by Mary Azarian, a Caldecott Award winning illustrator. Using lyrical poetry, the author takes the reader through a journey of twelve months by sharing Native American folklore that is associated with each month’s moon.

Pollack’s account of the full moons includes the January full moon as the Wolf Moon, a time when Native Americans observed wolves becoming restless. February is the Snow Moon due to heavy snows that used to happen in our area in years past. The Sap Moon is in March when the Maples come alive, and April is the Frog Moon as our little amphibian friends pop out on the spring scene. The Flower Moon is in May and the Strawberry Moon is in June. July hosts the Buck Moon when deer sprout their antlers, and August is the Green Corn Moon. The Harvest Moon happens in September, and due to the moon’s early rise October is the Hunter’s Moon because of the extra light added to the setting sun. The Beaver Moon is November’s moon and December is known for the Long Night Moon corresponding with the Winter Solstice.

Pollock has a couple of pages in the back of her book with questions and answers about the moon. One question is “Can a full moon have more than one name?” And her answer is yes! Many.

Christmas Day Hike

December 30, 2008

On Christmas Day we hiked down our property to where the river and the stream meet. With all the snow we had, melting after a rainy now above freezing day, the river and creek are rushing!

The last second of this video might leave you wondering about the outcome of our hike. One thing I can say about Booh is she’s made of rubber (plus she has a great sense of humor!). So go ahead, laugh!

Snow Lichen

Snow Lichen

You can’t hear it too well, but J says “Look how high the creek is.” And then Booh replies, “It’s a creek, not a cricket.”

Then J says, “Hey honey, what’s this called.” That’s when Booh looks and loses her balance and does a face-plant into the snow.

This is what he was looking at.  Not sure what it is called, so we are calling it Snow Lichen until we can get an id.  There is a Flickr group called ID Please.  I posted this photo here and hopefully some wonderful botanist can do just that.

The Frozen Playground

December 27, 2008

Ice Storm 2008

Click on photo to see notes we've added.

The first big winter storm of the season was a dramatic ice storm. Three and a half days without electricity nor heat for us.  More than a week for many others. The drama was high and the landscape was beautiful with a thick blanket of ice! Although the region was in a State of Emergency, and the main roads were closed, I ventured out with Booh to photograph all the drama. Her favorite stop … the frozen playground.

If you click on the photo it will take you to our Flickr page where we added notes about the individual pictures.

We had a fun time that first night, playing card games, eating PB&J sandwiches and making holiday cards and ornaments by candlelight. –  Just so you know, there is a limit to how many card games you can play with a six-year-old!

On that first night the house was still warm enough in the early evening (50’s) to stay the night, but by morning it was starting to dip towards freezing. Hauling water from the river to use in our toilets and wearing our parkas inside to stay warm quickly grew old, plus Booh started to catch a cold.   After the volunteer fire department stopped by to check in and confirmed that the electricity would indeed be off for days, we decided to high-tail it out of there.

We set to unpacking our refrigerator and freezer into coolers to stay frozen outside, draining our pipes, and filling our cats bowl with enough food for a few days, and then headed south on I-91 to stay with relatives.  It was fun to stay in a warm house full of family and friends, coming and going, and even got to be a party of Booh’s grandmother’s 84th birthday celebration.  The whole experience will be interesting to hear Booh recall as she gets older.

Country Bike Riding

December 11, 2008

Learning to bike ride for a kid in the rural hilltowns isn’t an easy task, for there aren’t many flat stretches of pavement for them to practice. The time will come when these rural kids will need a bike to get together and play with their next door neighbor (a mile down the road!) or meet up at the local swimming hole. So they have to learn. But how? Where?

Here we found a barn nearby that Booh could practice in. There’s some farming equipment she has to dodge, and the occasional cow chip to avoid, but it’s a flat paved surface, two qualities hard to come by in these parts.

She’s getting pretty good, and she’s not afraid to fall. I can’t say that I will be ready anytime soon to let her travel a mile down the road to play with her neighbor. But when the time comes, I hope the farm equipment and those cow chips will have offered her good obstacle training for dodging speeding logging trucks that come hauling down the mountain, and avoiding the occasional road kill.

Winter Solstice: How an ancient tradition is celebrated today.

December 7, 2008

Illustration by Jan Davey Ellis

Ellen Jackson’s book, The Winter Solstice, (published by Millbrook Press) takes a look at the many different cultures throughout history who have celebrated the Winter Solstice and developed cutoms for this shortest day of the year.

With a simple storyline and attractive watercolor illustrations by Jan Davey Ellis, Jackson’s book is a nice addition to a social studies curriculum for children ages 4-8 this time of the year. The Scottish, Romans, Scandinavians, Celts, Northern Europeans, Peruvians, Pueblo Indians, and the Kwakiutl Indians are presented with their customs and beliefs; in addition to a scientific look and simple experiment to illustrate the planetary alignment that creates this seasonal change.

Jackson also explains how the winter solstice is celebrated today in modern American and European cultures, and how solstice customs have found their way into the celebrations of Hanukkah and Christmas.

She ends her book with a Cherokee folktale of creation that tells why evergreens stay green because of their faith that the sun would return.

If you have a seasonal title you would like to recommend, enter it in the comment box below. We’d love to hear from you!

Learning to Surf at the Jersey Shore

December 5, 2008

This past summer Booh and I headed to the Jersey shore for a few days.  Her grandfather tried to teach her to body surf with a boogie board.  She was a bit hesitant at first but once she got out there she let him set her up to catch the next wave.  She giggled when the wave caught her board and started to carry her towards to shore … but then she wiped out and went head over heals, getting water up her nose and sand in her teeth.  When she came up and got her footing she marched out of the water, mad as a wet hen, leaving her boogie board behind and blowing water out of her nose.

She kept to the tidal pools after that.  They were warmer, no waves and shallow, all things safe.

Carnival Sounds

November 10, 2008
Every year we go to our local country fair where they have a carnival game that every kid wins … and every year Booh has selected a plastic toy horn (along with at least a hundred other country kids). The night air is filled with the sound of these little horns blowing and has become a sound you associate with the fair.

When we got home … the horn went “missing.”

The Sport of the Monkey Bars

October 20, 2008

If crossing the monkey bars were an Olympic sport, Booh would be a Hopeful! You should see this girl cruz across the bars. She has developed calluses on her palms and loves to practice her “technique.” It’s one of the criteria she uses to judge the different playgrounds in the valley, “I don’t want to go to Pulaski Park. I want to go to Look Park. It has better monkey bars!”

Canoeing with Your Family

September 28, 2008

We went canoeing around the lake while visiting friends in Goshen. What a beautiful day!

Booh and I took canoe lessons in the spring, but what they don’t teach you is how to canoe with your spouse! – The good news is we only ran aground once. And no one was tossed overboard. (grin!)

Ketchup Sandwiches & Hot Dogs

August 5, 2008

Ketchup Sandwiches

Pigs in a Bun at the Berkshire Museum's reception for the Retro Toy Exhibit.

I’m not a fan of hot dogs. Just the thought of eating one makes my throat close-up in preparation to gag. I don’t even like the vegetarian knock-offs, Soy Pups. Didn’t like them as a kid either. I used to remove the Oscar Meyer Weiner and eat the ketchup and pickle relish. Thus, was born the Ketchup Sandwich. I became so fond of Ketchup Sandwiches as a kid my mother would actually pack them in my lunch for school. I’ve since outgrown Ketchup Sandwiches but have tried to introduce them to my daughter (with my own homemade ketchup). She obviously has more culinary class than I did as a kid and refuses both dog and ketchup. But as a group, American’s and their kids love hot dogs. This web review is just for you folks…

Hot Dogs as America

This small presentation highlights some of the hot dogs served in different cities and at baseball stadiums in the U.S., including New York deli and street cart dogs, the “Chicago Red Hot,” “Dodger Dog,” “Fenway Frank,” Texas corn dog, and others. Part of a larger past exhibition about baseball at the American Museum of Natural History. [LII]

National Hot Dog Council

Take a virtual tour of their factory. Find out how they are made. Read facts & trivia on hot dogs. Learn how to say “hot dog” in ten languages. And much more to be found at the NHDC web site for any hot dog freak!

Hot Dogs Risky for Kids?

Here is a CNN news report (video) that covers recent research that supports the claim that processed meats, including hot dogs, increases your risk for colon cancer.  One hot dog a day increases your risk by 21%!  Why?  Sodium nitrates!

July was National Hot Dog Month. We skipped the weenie roast. But we do have plans on making fresh ketchup from this years local tomatoes. And our refrigerator pickles turned out fabulous! – If you too don’t care for hot dogs, the How to Calculate Pi by Throwing Frozen Hot Dogs might be the site for you!

Sparky the Fire Pup

November 25, 2006

For the second year in a row we went to Shelburne Falls’ Village’s Moonlight Madness town celebration. It’s held the Friday after Thanksgiving every year. A candle company is located in this town and every year they donate 1,500 votive candles for luminaries that line the sidewalks and streets. Musician’s play at various locations, and vendor’s line the Main Street. You can even catch a visit with Santa at the senior center, or Sparky the Fire Pup who wanders around town. Very festive and hometownish. Last year it was freezing and very snowy. This year it was in the 50’s and dry. That’s New England for you.

One of the many highlights of Shelburne Falls is the Bridge of Flowers which crosses the Deerfield River. We strolled across the bridge, all lit-up with luminaries and colored lights. Through the dark Booh could see the reflection of the bridge on the water, not realizing it was just that. She thought it was another bridge we could cross over to. When we pointed out the moon’s reflection on the water, we could see it all come together for her. It was neat to see the formation of what is “reality” become real for her, and at the same time sad to see her leave the illusion of what she was seeing as real.

Trolley Museum

Booh checks out the old trolley.

After dinner at McCusker ‘s we walked over to the Trolley Museum. Based in the old Boston & Maine freight yard, the Trolley Museum is a non-profit educational organization that has restored one of the original trolley’s, Trolley No. 10. The Bridge of Flowers is a former trolley bridge that connected Shelburne Falls with Colrain. It was used to transport passengers, apples, mail, milk and other freight.

After it’s heyday of carting back and forth, the trolley was retired and spent sixty-five years as a chicken coop. This bit of trivia seemed to interest Booh the most. And why wouldn’t it? How cool would it be to live in an old trolley? Lucky chickens, right?

She was also very interested in the model train set-ups in the museum. She could push a button and old Lionel trains would chug along tracks in sceneries made to scale. Oddly, an out of scale cow three times the size of the trains had been placed in one of the areas, and we pretended the train was in a scene from “Attack of the Killer Cow,” racing the train around and around the tracks while terrified pretend passengers let out screams every time it passed by the Bovine giganticus.

Walking back through town to our car we saw Sparky the Fire Pup again. Being a grown man dressed in a dalmation firedog outfit, I’m sure he found it difficult to maneuver through all the luminaries lining the street. This became evident when he kicked over one of the bags and it caught on fire. Sparky’s escort quickly stomped it out.

Christmas Spider

November 13, 2006

Booh has decided that the Christmas Spider will be coming to our house this year instead of Santa Claus. She explained that the Christmas Spider was Santa’s helper who gave out presents when Santa was busy. The Christmas Spider wears a hat like Santa and likes to give out squishy pretend spiders that hang on the wall, along with books, pencils and sea marbles. Something to look forward to.

I asked her if the Christmas Spider had a sleigh and flying reindeer like Santa and if she went down chimneys to get indoors. Persephone said that the Christmas Spider actually climbs up houses and then down the chimneys to get inside. Then she crawls on towards the next house with her fast skinny legs.

 Booh then proceeded to run around and around the house with her socks on at top speed saying that her legs were skinny too, so she could run as fast as the Christmas Spider. That was before she wiped out on the kitchen floor. With a bruised elbow and a tear stained face she snuggled up on my lap. She looked up at me and told me that the Christmas Spider wasn’t allowed to snuggle with me when she came to our house. I reassured her that she was the only spider I’d ever snuggle.

Cobweb ChristmasAt the library I found this book titled, Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel. It’s a tale about an old German woman who cleans out her home for Christmas, sweeping away the spiders and their webs. The spiders later return and spin their webs in her Christmas tree and Saint Nicholas changes the webs into tinsel.

I also discovered that not only is there a real Christmas Spider (Austracantha minax) that lives in Australia, but there is also a German and Ukranian legend of the Christmas Spider. Ornaments and craft project abound around this legend.

The Legend of the Christmas Spider

A long time ago , a mother prepared for Christmas Eve. She cleaned and scrubbed her home, chasing the spiders from the living room with her broom. The spiders fled to the attic and listened to the excitement below as the Christmas tree was put up and decorated. When all was quiet again, the little spiders crept back downstairs to see the beautiful tree. They were filled with happiness as they crawled along every branch, admiring the glittering beauty of each ornament. But alas, by the time they had finished climbing through the tree, it was completely draped with their dusty, gray cobwebs.

When the Christ child came, He smiled as He looked upon the happy little spiders, however, He knew the mother would be heartbroken when she saw the shrouded tree. So He reached out nd touched the webs and, blessing them, turned them into silver and gold. Now the Christmas tree sparkled and shimmered and was even more beautiful than before. Thus the custom to have tinsel of silver and gold and a spider ornament amongst the other decorations on the Christmas tree was born.

~Author Unknown