Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Loose Change

  I know of a couple of people who compete with one another to see how much loose change they can collect in a  year by looking for coins on the ground, asphalt or pavement in public places.   They contribute these coins to charity and enjoy the hunt for carelessly lost money.   To amuse myself I have taken up this chase myself.   Whenever I am walking alone in public places, parking lots or sidewalks I keep my eyes peeled for the sparkle on the misplaced coin.    When one is walking alone, it provides distraction and amusement and the thrill of the hunt.   In the last month my total take has been one dime and two pennies.   Not much value in today's world.
   Respect for the penny has been lost in recent years.    Inflation and the cost of penny production has reduced the usefulness of the penny.     And to some merchants the penny is a nuisance.   During my visit to McDonald's today to pick up my apple pie dessert the customer ahead of me was paying in part for his purchase with a whole bunch of pennies along with a few nickels and dimes.   After he left the servers were bemoaning the pennies that they had to deal with and in fact the manager even said they should not accept that many pennies in payment.   I thought their attitude was disrespectful of the customer.   The whole episode made me angry.   Actually I was angry enough to confront the servers to remind them that if they really wanted to welcome customers they should smile and say thank your very much for your business.   Even if it meant dealing with pennies!    Maybe all this is an indication that I grew up in a different era.
    In my childhood a penny could get you a couple of pieces of candy and a perhaps a stick of gum.   Loose change had great value to a kid.   My dad had his favorite easy chair that was a gold mine for loose change.    He always carried his change in his overalls pockets and often had holes in the pockets.  In addition when he would lean back for nap the change would sometimes fall out of his pocket.   All that I had to do was to slide my hand down beside the cushion and dig out the loose change.   This change supplemented my dollar a week allowance and bought many a comic book or candy bar.    Such fond memories of the joy of loose change.   So now in my geezerhood I revert to the joy of finding loose change, even if it has little buying power.   I'm from the waste not, want not generation!
Dad Relaxing at a Picnic - Coins in the Grass?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Vermont Adventure

  Being a grandparent means having opportunities to enjoy the successes of grandchildren.   Four of my grandchildren currently attend the Lake Champlain Waldorf School in Shelburne, Vermont.   One of the traditions of the school is to have a Grandparent's Day when grandparents and special friends are invited to spend a day at the school.   So Thursday May 17, 2012 I travelled to Vermont to enjoy some time at their school and to attend a concert by the students and community members.   This school requires every student to learn to play a stringed instrument so there was a large orchestra with significant talent.    Voice instruction is also provided.
    The Thursday night concert was all Vivaldi performed with extraordinary competence.   Granddaughter Jenny had a solo part that she performed beautifully.   The setting for the concert was the Carriage House of the Shelburne Farms estate.   The grounds and buildings are magnificent and are set on the shores of Lake Champlain.  
   Grandparents day started at  8:30 A.M. with an introduction by the Waldorf School leader.   After the introduction we adjourned to be with our grandchildren.    There were only two sessions so it was not possible to visit all three grandchildren in K-8.   Since Carson is graduating from 8th grade to public school next year I made a special effort to get to his display of accomplishments during his tenure at the Waldorf School.   He has become a capable photographer and his iPad display of his work was exceptional.    After my visit with Carson I was off to join the kindergartners and granddaughter Kiara at play in their room.   Yes,  this old geezer can still get down on the floor to play with the young ones.    We grandparents were also treated to the morning snacks of soup and bread that their group had prepared and baked.   A delicious treat.    On the way out I still had a chance to visit grandson Turner's 4th grade class to say hello and see his schoolmates.
     Following my school visit I travelled to the Shelburne Museum to spend several hours examining a variety of exhibits.   Because I am anticipating setting up exhibits of the artifacts from the Cornell Agricultural Museum I was especially interested in the manner of displaying antique tools and devices.
     The Vermont visit continued with time at son Colin's house and a stay through Saturday at daughter Tange's house.    We even had time for some tennis.
     Although I travelled to Shelburne via the Essex ferry, I chose to return via the new New York - Vermont Champlain Bridge.    It is a stunningly elegant design.   The grand opening was this past Sunday so there was all kinds of activity at the bridge as I passed over it on Saturday.
     All in all the three days were a great geezer adventure.
Tange, Turner, Kiara 

Granddaughter Jenny right and friend at Shelburne Farms

Carson and projects display

Kiara, right front in kindergarten - Snack Time


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Memory Triggers

   I find it interesting to reflect on what triggers distance memories.    Today as I was returning from an errand in my car my eye caught a look at a plastic bag that had become air borne  and was wafting along in the sky.   This vision immediately triggered a memory of kite flying when I was a youngster.   Each March of even later in the year I would be able to purchase a kite (or even make one) to fly in the fields of our farm.   Getting the kite to fly stably in a brisk wind required some pretty big tails.   My kite tails would be made with strips of old rags tied on a string extending from the bottom of the kite.  With a bit of experimenting I could add just the right number of rags with the right spacing to hold the kite stable for the day's wind velocity.
    When I would get the kite as high in the sky as the amount of string I had available, I would stake the end of the string to the ground and even launch another kite if I had one.   The next creative thing I used to do with kite flying was to launch parachutes from the kite string.    With string and paper I would make a parachute weighted with either a nut or stone.    At the top of the canopy I would add a bent pin or wire to serve as a loop to hang the parachute on the kite line.   After placing the parachute on the kite line, the prevailing wind would blow the parachute up the line.     After the parachute had risen to several hundred feet into the air it was time to launch the parachute.    Triggering the launch was a bit difficult.  The technique I used was to give the taut line a snap.   A wave would proceed up the string and when it  reached the parachute it would release the loop of wire from the string.   The parachute would  gently waft to ground delivering its load gently to earth.   I took great pleasure from this play and the creative effort that it took to carry off this event.   Perhaps this an indicator of my life to be as an engineer.
     All this makes me wonder about the play of my grandchildren and now great-grandchildren.   As a child of the World War II era our generation fewer manufactured toys and gadgets available.   Therefore we had to be more inventive in our play.    We made our toys from whatever we had available.   Maybe I need to demonstrate  to my iPod, iPHone, and iPad grandchildren the joys of making a kite and parachute and launching a parachute from a flying kite string.