Sunday, June 27, 2010
Since having kids it seems that any three day writing bursts are necessarily rewarded with a few days of what my undergraduate advisor explained life interceding. This is why I always require writing assignments every week from grad students but they can skip two because life always does intercede. Friday’s interruption came from the power outage and the tree on—not in—the house. For the record the fact that we’ve had four major power outages in six months seems like bad news to me and like cville ought to get its act together or we should all start making offering to weather gods no matter what our faith. No one slept well Thursday and Eli and Rebecca appeared ready to start the day at 6:30 am. We also had the predictable text that Eli’s camp was closed due to power. Luckily my genius husband had the foresight to make iced coffee Thursday night or it would have been really dire. Things got off to a rough start when I made egg in toast and managed to smoke up the kitchen. The smoke alarm runs on batteries but the mechanism to make it shut up is electrical which meant that about every 30 seconds the alarm blasted, the kids screamed, the dog panic, I cursed and Manuel explained to ADT that his wife’s bright idea of cooking spray for egg in toast was actually not that bright.
Much to our relief the kids artsy-fartsy camp had not cancelled and indeed the extravaganza featuring everything from African drumming to paper machete volcanoes could go on. The kids had been revved about this for days and it involved a picnic followed by two hours of performances. Before heading to the event, the first part of project tree removal involved having our dorky next door neighbor’s car towed out of his driveway to make room for the crane that would come later.
Luckily we made it to camp just in time for a picnic lunch with the kids and a tour of their artwork. We took three kids home and the entire back of the van was filled with their masterworks. My favorites were the three matching very large volcanos made in weird science and the lava lamps. Things got off to a good start. Jonathan was in the first group of African drumming performers and he has loved this. He drums all the time and explains it in great details. He had already acquired the slightly blank stare of a rock -band drummer with combined with tiny very white kid next to big African drum was quite adorable. I have to admit that 25 minutes into African drumming it began to seem less cute and less like we might actually make it home on time for the tree guy. Things moved along reasonably well until noise for thought. This is the class that Rebecca absolutely loved and cam home every day with some new bit of inspiration including the suggestion of a family performance of 4’33 and a sound meditation/collage. I think her next camp will be with Pauline Oliveros if she has her way. I did not let her turn our piano into a prepared piano but she has high hopes that I’ll relax that restriction soon. While the noise collage was playing all the kids stood still and looked cute except Jonathan who turned into an absolute brat, tugging on his sister, whacking his friend, making goofy faces. At a certain point I could no longer look but I’m pretty sure he was especially disruptive while Rebecca and her friend Elie read their Dadaist sound poem. I couldn’t decide if I should zip up to the performance area and yank him out or leave him alone and hope the camp staff beat him. This was perhaps Rebecca and Jonhathan’s finest public performance of good twin bad twin. It was especially mortifying as a musician whose kids heard only baroque and new music until they turned three and behaved through performances of Brandenburg concertos and Crumb’s Black Angels. In their Stony Brook sound world music stopped between 1730 and 1900.
We arrived home in time for the tree guy to come assess the situation go get a large crane and provide about 90 minutes of entertainment for the neighborhood. The crane was the biggest thing I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure who enjoyed the tree removal more my husband or my three year old. But Manuel’s utter glee did suggest to me that he might have preferred to be the kind of tree guy that climbs trees and cuts them down rather than the kind that goes up in cherry pickers in Panama to do experiments on the tree canopy. He was totally stoked. His favorite part was when the tree guy hung off the crane and used his giant chain saw to chop off the top of the tree. I have to admit the whole thing was pretty stunning. But the really great news is that as of Friday at 6:30 pm the 200 plus year old sugar maple was no longer sitting on our house.