October is the new August

Ok- it wasn’t actually that hot, but it was well over eighty a few times this week. October is when we’re not supposed to be running the AC or running the boiler, but not this year.  And Babbee tells us that Tuesday morning will be 39 degrees, so dang it, I guess we’ll need to at least bust out the space heaters.

This weekend they held River Days at a few parks around the city- we went to Tinicum yesterday and they had both an inflatable nerf-like archery booth and a conventional bow range. Silas got a few shots at each, but with only three shots you can hardly get calibrated. He still enjoyed it. The other kids enjoyed a folk band and went for a walk on the boardwalk over the marsh while Silas was waiting in lines.  This morning we went down to the nearby Rec Center to enjoy some other little eco-activities. The kids started out coloring a huge map of West Philadelphia, but soon decided they’d rather paint trees. Then Eliza decided to paint herself… she actually did it three times, in between frustrated wet-wipings, and finally we managed to drag her home.





October… didn’t that used to be in Autumn?

It was upper eighties yesterday, and today was muggy as get-out. Our gardens are dry, thank goodness it rained a bit today.  We bought a propane-fueled fire-pit a few months ago, and we’ve hardly turned it on, because it’s been too hot. We’re starting into the week-which-shall-not-be-named… meaning there is something every darned evening this week, so I’m cutting this short (and the kitchen is still a mess from dinner.)  Thank Columbus, tomorrow is a holiday… actually that’s not good, because I’ve got two out of our three home with me, and it’s supposed to rain all day.  I’m going to stop my complaining and just leave these here…

Goodbye Missy-pooh

Babbee’s dog Missy passed away yesterday at home- she was probably 16 years old, maybe older. We don’t know what was wrong with her, although my theory is that she was really old. She was a sweet dog from beginning to end, and was able to fetch two tennis balls at the same time, jammed in her little mouth. She was fetching balls and toys even after she popped out one of her eyeballs when she smacked her head trying to fetch something under a cabinet once. Babbee is emotionally exhausted, so everybody send some love and prayers her way.

Today we laid her to rest up at my parents’ house, in a nice spot where we can visit from time to time.

Silas just came upstairs and said “don’t worry, my finger’s fine…” He was chopping an apple with a kitchen knife and slipped up, slicing his middle finger. It soaked through two bandaids! His emphasis, not mine. Then he muttered to himself, “Missy died, and now my finger’s cut…. what else could go wrong?” He just played his cello for 10 seconds and declared that’s all he could do tonight. I can sympathize, I think we’re all about done for the night.

Jerm destroys the little kids



Outdoors again

Friday found us once again hitting the highway with our van loaded down for camping, this time at Pine Grove Furnace State Park. It was new to us. The campsites had nice tent-pads, good water, nice bathroom, and highly-combustable firewood for purchase just down the lane. As our camping trips go this was pretty routine- we went with our friends Dell and Josh, so we had great late-night fireside conversations and ended up way more tired on departure than when we’d arrived. That’s how it should be. We brought Kotoko with us, and I think she enjoyed it, though I’m not sure it’s what she expected. It is a lot of sitting around, punctuated by flurries of activity as we mobilize to hike or swim. This particular state park is the mid-way point of the Appalachian Trail, so that’s cool. We saw a few through-hikers on Saturday at the camp store- it’s a tradition to try to eat a half-gallon of ice cream, since it’s the half-way point. A couple ripe-smelling twenty-somethings had bellied up to the picnic table,  half-gallons in hand.

Thankfully there weren’t any mosquitos to be found. There also wasn’t anything else living to be found- it was odd. I glimpsed a chipmunk as we were packing up. We weren’t very tidy with our camp, yet nothing raided our coolers or pulled down our trash bag at night. Maybe the camp animals aren’t as brazen in central PA as they are up in the Poconos, where they’re hooligans.

I think this is all I can manage today- I’ve got a date with my bed. We all went camping with slight colds, and I came home a little worse for wear.


Our first family crab-boil went off without a hitch yesterday. We steamed them, technically, but I’ve never heard of a crab-steam. I picked up a bushel of giant blue-claw crabs down on Oregon Avenue from Phil’s Live Crabs- I recommend them if you’re looking for a lot of crabs. It ended up that only 5 of us really ate any, with the kids choosing to stab and tear at them instead of eating them. Jeremy and dad did the most damage, though Becca made a good showing. We started eating before 5:00, and Larry was still working on them at 9. It was fun, but I’m not sure we’re going to do it again for a while. Maybe next year we’ll dig a hole in the yard and cook a pig.

The kids had their second week of soccer. I came down with a cold but accompanied Molly and the kids anyway, because all three kids play, and the fields are scattered all over creation (in east Fairmount Park) so it’s more than a one-parent job unless you don’t care about losing your kids. The sun came up ripping hot somehow, and I just suffered. It’s day 3, so I figure I have one or two more days to get through. Eliza’s got it too, but she’s more cheerful about it than I am. Babbee also has it, and she’s pretty much knocked out.

And on an even more somber note, I’d be remiss to mention that our neighbor Vince passed away on Wednesday- he and Roger live about six feet away from us across the alley. Vince had been in declining health for a while, but all the same it took us by surprise. Our hearts are breaking for Roger, of course, and this also means he’ll sell the house (he’s living alone now in a house as big as ours) and move on to the next phase, which we hope doesn’t take him too far out of our lives.

So I guess I’ll shut up about my silly little cold, now that I think more about it.


Ready, Set, Go!

The title refers to both the beginning of the school year, which started Tuesday, and the half-marathon I ran with my friend Jon out in Lancaster yesterday. The boys seem happy with school so far, my body does not seem happy with the race. The part of me that’s not my body is happy with the race, because I finished, and didn’t even crawl over the line. My training was interrupted by an injury a few weeks ago, so I was definitely undertrained, and the race was almost double my previous longest run, so I probably had no right to finish respectably. I stayed with my friends Jon and Rebecca, who live just down the road from the race, and it saved my skin; I didn’t have to drive from Philly to Lancaster at 4 in the morning, and Jon told me all the stuff I really should’ve known previously, like where a bib goes… and he gave me a few gels, which turned out to be a blessing since my assumption that there’d be some food on the course was 100% wrong.

On my way home I stopped at the Bird-in-Hand Bakery and picked up a bunch of pies. The shoofly pie is awesome… we had it for breakfast today and I’m darn-sure eating the rest for breakfast again tomorrow.

Today we had two birthday parties for our kids’ friends- that was a long day.

Months ago I bought a propane-powered fire-pit for the back yard, in anticipation of the cool fall nights. And guess what… it’s cool outside and the kids just went to bed. I’m going to fire that sucker up, pour some wine, and eat some ibuprofen.

Happy Birthday Babbee!

The week kicked off when we welcomed Kotoku to our household on Monday. She’s an international student studying English here for a few months. Eliza has already taken to her, calling her “my friend” when she forgets her name. Of course, she occasionally calls her Hong or Gao, which were other students who lived with us. So we’re back to setting the table for 7 people, which may not seem like much to Catholics or folks from the fifties (or whatever) but it does mean everything turns into a production. We’ve had a few respectable dinners in a row and I’m about ready to go with hotdog-night on paper plates.

We celebrated Babbee’s birthday this week- We scored a really nice key lime pie, which is (I think) her favorite dessert.   Silas made her a card, which was Weather Channel-themed, featured a man swimming in a flood (inspired by Houston.) I believe “wow” is what I said when he showed me. Molly had brought back a few nice gifts from Brazil. I gifted her the ingredients for margaritas… I think Molly and I drank 3/4 of it.

And guess how many hours the kids have until they’re back to school…. 11. That’s right. Summer’s over. The kids have been at each other’s throats recently, unable to get along for more than 2 consecutive minutes, so I’m happy for a change of pace. Of course this also means Molly is teaching classes again in addition to her 9-5.  Our calendars are filling up with the kids’ schools events and meetings,  so it will just be a different kind of busy.

The rumor is that Donald is going to rescind DACA tomorrow- s0 the outrages keep coming at warp speed. There’s a protest rally at the Philadelphia office of the DoJ tomorrow morning- I might swing by if I get out of the doctor’s office early enough… the doctor’s office visit being necessitated by the rusty nail which impaled my thumb during a deck deconstruction project on Saturday. It only took about 12 hours to get infected and swell up- it makes sense this stuff happens on the weekend, but man is it inconvenient.