After successfully completing a very challenging tae kwon do test last Thursday, the girls tonight received their purple belts tonight at a lovely, relaxed event organized by their instructor, Dan Elo.
Dan said some nice things about each kid, and singled out the girls and their BFFs as being especially hard working. I hope they were as proud of themselves as I was. They’ve shown real discipline and dedication in coming so far so fast. Their belts and smiles are well earned.
July Fourth has been one of those holidays that’s been hard for the Tassava family to truly embrace. Ours isn’t a diet that easily incorporates grilled meat, for instance, and the girls’ former troubles with traveling, staying up late, or staying up late while traveling meant that we only finally "went somewhere for the Fourth" last year, when we both journeyed to the U.P. to spend the holiday with my mom and to see fireworks – which, in da Yoop, happen very late.
This year, my mom came down to see us, which made the holiday a lot simpler, and the girls were able both to stay up late enough to enjoy sparklers and fireworks and to sleep in a little bit the next day. So surprised were we by the latter development that I didn’t even plan to take them to the fireworks in Northfield. But after we burned off a million sparklers,
I got a text from a friend saying that the fireworks were imminent. I piled the girls into the car, zipped over to the spot where they were watching, and soaked in the experience. The girls loved it. What’s not to love?
Since the Crashquamegon a couple weeks ago, I’ve taken it pretty easy – daily sessions at the gym, but no long rides till today, when the stars aligned such that I could spend the whole day out in the Buffalo. I picked out a route over some of my favorite roads, aiming to hit some new MTB trails for a an hour of trail riding before an easy ride home.
As luck would have it, the ride took place in amazingly great conditions – cool early but rising to about 80° F, a cooling westerly breeze, bright sunshine, a crisp blue sky. Through I hammered the hills as hard as I could, I took it easy at other times. I wound up with 63 miles in my legs over 5:30 of ride time and soaked up some great views.
What a day, man. The big event was that the Supreme Court handed down its ruling that legalized gay marriage thought the U.S. Somehow this made family seem even more important to me, so I was happy to get home in time for a great dinner – made by the girls! – and a long evening of warmth and sun.
The girls and I did a little bit of everything. In the full light, we played basketball and catch out front,
then went for a bike ride to watch the swallows catch mosquitoes over the ponds and admire a colossal cumulonimbus cloud far to the southeast.
As the sun set, we went to the backyard to watch for and try to catch fireflies. We also saw a couple bats, which was great.
Then after dark we set up Vivi’s telescope to look at the moon (which our neighbor Meg told us is called tsuki in Japanese), and Julia got put her guitar to play a few notes.
Summer is only four days old! I’m spent. Time to finish this beer and go to bed.
Growing up, I always wanted to learn to throw a football with a nice tight spiral – that is, I always wanted someone to teach me how to throw a football with a nice tight spiral.
Alas, neither of my parents knew how, and I never played any kind of even marginally organized football, so I never really learned.
Then Vivi came along. The girl loves to play catch with baseballs, soccer balls, frisbees, footballs – basically anything that one person can propel through the air and another person can catch. Our little kid-sized footballs turn out to be perfect for learning how to throw a spiral, whether you’re an eight-year old girl or her dad. We both look pretty much just like this now.
This was a long and wonderful early-summer weekend that included errands, playdates, birthday parties, plenty of ice cream, the first trip to the pool
and two good bike rides, one each evening.
Saturday’s outing was Vivi’s first on a new-to-her Trek mountain bike – a bike she loathed right up until I brought it home (at the suggestion of my bike shop’s owner, who knows from selling bikes!). Once Vivi saw the bike in all its 24″ glory, she was ready to rock, and so we did:
We rode a short gravel hill near our house and then tooled around on some paved paths in the next subdivision. She loved the bike’s speed, and Julia loved that the new bike helped her keep up.
Even though the girls had a very full day today, they still wanted to ride this evening, so off we went again, this time to the local MTB trails. Julia cruised the trails like a pro, and Vivi did a great job handling the bigger, faster bike through the tight twists and turns. She only watched as Julia rode her favorite drop, though:
They even fell for a little reverse psychology I used them to goad them into riding a little hill. The sign doesn’t apply when your motor is lungs and legs.
On the way home, Vivi’s saddle loosened to the point that she couldn’t ride comfortably, so I had to do some trailside jury-rigging by moving my seatpost and saddle to her bike. Shimmed with a bit of inner tube, she was able to ride home on my Brooks C17 saddle and Moots Cinch seatpost – a truly ridiculous situation, given that the saddle is worth more than her whole bike, and don’t even get me started on the ti post.
Since her seatpost wouldn’t fit in my bike’s downtube, I had to stand up the whole rest of the way, which made the last mile’s sprint through the rain even more challenging than otherwise!
All in all, this was an auspicious start to the summer.
Today is the last day of school in Northfield, and the day that the fifth graders “graduate” from elementary school. True to form, Sibley did things perfectly by staging a short and sweet event that recognized the kids (and their teachers) and provided just the right amount of tear-jerking.
Here is Julia getting her “diploma” from her teacher, Mrs. Bargary, and shaking hands with each of the other fifth-grade teachers plus Mr. Sannes, the principal.
I lost myself in the Carleton College senior art show, Composite, last week. I’ve visited a couple times now, and have only gotten more impressed by the quality of the work. Every piece is worth savoring, and the pieces in the gallery fit wonderfully together. Here are a few of the more easily-photographed pieces.
The artist says these pieces, “are a reflection on a human’s physical relationship with technology, especially the mobile phone. By creating huge drawings of human hands grasping for and poking at the viewer as though they were a phone, I hope to evoke a the sense of greed and desire that we feel when interacting with something designed as a multipurpose, interactive tool.”
And then there were Chloe Mark‘s amazing oil on Plexiglas paintings. She sliced them up and hung them in such a way that you could walk through them and watch some of them move almost like a video.
I love looking at the arched bridges that connect the campus “mainland” to Stewsie and Mai Fete Islands in the lower Lyman Lake. The bridges were rebuilt last fall, and are just now being finished with a lovely coat of dark stain that complements the green of the islands.
Aware that not everyone can, say, bike around the world or row across the Atlantic, Humphreys advocates breaking out of the everyday rut of home and office with “microadventures” – short trips that go from “5 to 9″ (after work one day until mid-morning the next) and that get a person out into nature, even if it’s just an overnight in a nearby park. I love the idea, which provides a name and a rationale for an activity that I’d already been doing to some degree. Michael and I have already done a few microadventures – one together, several separately or with others.
Saturday night, I went microadventuring while the girls were at a sleepover. I didn’t want to either overthink the outing or get overly ambitious, so I packed up my bike with some minimal overnight gear, grabbed food and drink from the kitchen, and took the scenic route out to a local county park. I stopped for plenty of pictures.
Once at the park, I made my way down a rough trail through the woods – surprisingly tall and green here at the edge of what should be tallgrass prairie.
I set up a little riverside campsite (being sure to tuck the Buffalo into a safe spot), got a fire going, and had dinner and a couple beers.
As much as I like being around people, I relished being by myself, listening to the birds and the river.
The night was pleasingly restless, and included being awoken once by something crawling around the campsite. In the morning, I had a little campfire breakfast in a light rain and enjoyed more river views.
Then I packed up my stuff and rode home down a slick road, soaking up the green scenes
and spotting some damp old junk.
It was wonderful. I look forward to doing it again soon.
I had to work late today, which meant I rode home around 7:30 and saw a very different Northfield than I do when I ride home just after 5: slow strolling students on campus, lawn mowers and dog walkers and stray skateboarders, wide empty streets, a golden yellow haze over the fields
and just for mystery’s sake, a hot air balloon drifting east of town.