Thursday, May 31, 2007

Carpentry at the Cabin

We finished nine windows at the cabin last weekend. We used the planer, the jointer, three saws, two sanders and a nail gun and all of the tools were powered by the sun.

The window trim makes a big difference upstairs. It seemed like the work was going slowly day by day because we ran out of material and had to scrounge for wood under the shop. By the end of the three days, though, the progress was visible and satisfying. Dave and I both like that kind of work and we do well together. It was a good time.

Ray's idea of a good time involved his .22 rifle and a box of 525 shells. He shot into cardboard boxes, aluminum cans and various other targets. He also built boats out of duct tape, wood scraps and nails, and sent them sailing from one dock to the other.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Conwy Socks

Pattern: Conwy
Nancy Bush, Knitting on the Road

Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock
Color: Pioneer

Needles: US 1

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

African Stories

I went to a talk at the University recently given by two men from Sudan. They were some of the "lost boys". Separated from their parents as children, they walked barefoot hundreds of miles at night, while being hunted by enemy soldiers. They recounted a life growing up in refugee camps, a life of hunger and deprivation. They decided early on that education was to be their father and mother. They have written a book.

Paul Rusesabagina also wrote a book, An Ordinary Man, which I finished not long ago. I then listened to the recorded version of the book, just to hear the sound of his voice and how some of the local names were pronounced. His story inspired the movie, Hotel Rwanda, so, of course, I rented the DVD and watched it. It was not too graphic, considering the subject is genocide.

Initially, I felt like getting on a plane and going to Rwanda to volunteer. The Internet allowed me to read some journals of Americans and Canadians who are doing just that. I felt less like going after a bit. So much of the volunteer experience is getting to know other volunteers and going on side trips and bonding with like minded people. Also, we carry so much of ourselves and our culture along when we go to "help". One woman wrote of being there at Easter and organizing an Easter egg hunt for an orphanage. She noticed the kids went along with it all and had fun, but really what they wanted was to eat the eggs. They didn't get eggs very often.

Mr. Rusesabagina has established a foundation to aid in the rebuilding of Rwanda and to care for orphaned and ostracized children. The website is here.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Lake Report

The ice went out on Monday and we flew in to the cabin on Thursday. We were ready. The lake looks good with a float plane in the foreground.

Some of the neighbors reported finding collapsed porches, missing docks and broken trailer axles but we were lucky this year. All that heavy snow just melted away and our buildings, docks and boats were undamaged.

We spent two hours the first morning digging snow from the beach and inching our pontoon boat back into the water. It started right up and we got everything else up and running. I moved some firewood which wasn't the first time this particular pile has been moved. We are still burning wood from clearing the building site five years ago. It will last us quite a while.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Kid Falderal

The school year is winding down and some of the annual rituals and ceremonies are taking place. Ray was recognized with a fine certificate for his achievements in math. He placed second in the fourth grade in his school and was suitably proud. His friend, Jamie, got a medal for being first in fourth grade and another medal for beating all of the fifth graders as well.

The school district makes a fuss about math, which is cool. The kids like the awards and the cookies and the attention. It doesn't cost much in time or money and one hopes that the little nerds are encouraged. There was also a demonstration by the middle school competitive math team which was engaging for all of us. Who doesn't want to beat a 12 year old to the right answer?

Katherine, eight years older, went to the prom. Her achievements in math this year are certificate worthy, but what she wants is that other piece of paper - the diploma. In three more weeks, she will be walking across the stage with a tasseled square hat on her head.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Wetlands Field Trip

Okay, I went on one field trip with Ray's class. Mother of the Year! There was a fisheries biologist, a geologist and an ornithologist to show the kids the fascinating details of mud and muck. What's not to like about tiny red worms in a puddle?

For the record, the names of the children in Ray's class are: Isaiah, Knute, Iris, Adriana, Daria, Darian, Jurny, Riley, Celeste, Krista, Tim, Lorenzo, Celia, Patrick, Deanna, Jesse, Catalina, Moriah, Kristen, Tevita, Katheryn, Kayla and Tatyanna. The group is quite the melting pot of ethnic diversity.