Tag Archives: park

So What’s A Warm Saturday For, Anyway?


Bridge on a bike trail in Marion, Iowa. It was a pretty, sunny, warm day today in Iowa. Snow tomorrow.

Bridge on a bike trail in Marion, Iowa. It was a pretty, sunny, warm day today in Iowa. Snow tomorrow.

I spent part of the day indoors today, because I had to get some papers graded, but I was lucky to have two outings.

In the morning, I rode my winter beater bike, an old Schwinn mountain bike, to the gym and for a brief trail ride.

But the true fun was this afternoon. My wife had some errands to run, so I stayed home grading papers. She suddenly popped in the door, announced she was meeting some grandkids at the park, and did I want to come?

Well, I’m under the weather, just a bit. I have a cold. And I did have lots of work to do, but …

The sun was shining. The temperature was rising above 45 degrees. My wife had told a grandson just a few days before that it was always too cold to play at a park if the temperature was below 45, but that explanation just didn’t hold up today. So away I went.

Me on a ride-on bee with Amelia. Later, she would be a princess and a dragon would abscond with her on the same bee, but that drama has not started yet.

Me on a ride-on bee with Amelia. Later, she would be a princess and a dragon would abscond with her on the same bee, but that drama has not started yet.

The park interlude was a blast. Among other things:

  • The ladder-slide area became a castle and my daughter transformed into a dragon who, along with the assistance of her minion, my grandson, kidnapped a prince and planned to cook her. They rode off on a giant bee, but never seemed to get anywhere.
  • A snowball war broke out. My wife isn’t sure whether she or my daughter instigated it, but they are the prime suspects. Some icy snow was left in little piles here and there, and my daughter, wife and grandson spent a fair amount of time chucking it at each other or me. Watch out for that grandson. He has an arm.
  • The merry-go-round was a very popular item—and grandpa (me) had the honor of supplying most of the power. One young granddaughter would yell “faster, faster,” until, a few seconds later she would yell “I need to get off.” Despite my cold, I did get some exercise today.

Well, what a fun afternoon. I don’t know how many sunny, warm Saturdays there will be before March, but we put this one to good use.

More park scenes--my daughter and wife attack me with snowballs. Below--youngest of the four siblings at the park like merry-go-round

More park scenes–my daughter and wife attack me with snowballs. Below–youngest of the four siblings at the park like merry-go-round

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Finally, just because I can, I bought some flowers for my wife, who just returned from a trip to England. I liked how the morning sun streaming in the dining room window lit the bouquet, so I photographed it, and it seems a nice foreshadowing of the coming spring that is only a few weeks away:

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The Flowers of Chapelfield Gardens


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At least I think that’s the name of the park we were at near City Centre in Norwich today. We’ve been there more than once — Saturday, a charity sports race was going on, and there were dancers, racers and trampolines.

Lizzie saw the dancers doing some variation of break dancing, and promptly did her own version, which mean bending down, sticking her butt high in the air, and waving one leg around.

Today was a big tourist day for use in Norwich, but it began with a quiet play trip. Amanda had a book group at the library, so while she took Juliet with her, Audrey and I took Elizabeth to the park.

I think she thoroughly enjoyed having two grandparents to boss around and play with, although she did spend a little time pointlessly wandering around, looking for the trampolines that were not there.

Anyway, due to our tourist plans — we visited the castle, the cathedral and the river walk today — I had my good camera and, naturally, shot a few flower photos.

Tomorrow? Great Yarmouth, so I’ll have a report then from the North Sea.

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Nikayla at the park and man on the moon


It was a nice October day today, which was a little odd, since it’s July. But, while the women of the family (besides Nina) were out doing wedding-related shopping (Theresa gets married next Saturday) Nina and I walked Nikayla to the park.

She loves to swing. I don’t know why, but she likes most “motion,” from being swung in the air by a grandparent or aunt or uncle to sitting in a toddler size rocking chair, rocking back and forth.

Nikayla started walking recently; as Ben says, having her follow you down the hall is a bit like being pursued by a zombie (we just watched “Sean of the Dead”). She “declaims,” that is, she babbles syllables while vigorously gesturing, but not a lot of words, yet. A few, however—she says “wiggle” and seems to be adding “giggle” to her vocabulary. Men she knows and likes are all “dada.” She says “book” and “yeah.” When tired, she responds to “ni-ni.”

But she seems a pretty happy, normal little bumbling toddler. Words will come soon, in their own time, and she’s enjoying life at 15 months.

Anyway, Nikayla clearly understands much more than she says. She gets excited if you suggest going to the park and/or “swings,” so she clearly has an idea of what’s coming.

She enjoyed a good “swing” at the city park on north C Avenue, a medium walk from our house. After a while, when the charms of motion paled a bit due to repetition, I put her on one of the playground sets—a plastic thing with slides, built for young kids. She doesn’t really slide much get, but enjoyed climbing around on the equipment, and, in this case, playing with Nina’s face through some bars. The plastic “floor” of the set has some holes in it, and Nikayla was crawling (for once) when she put her hand unexpectedly in a hole and did a face plant.

The crying was intense and sincere, but fortunately short-lived. She let me pick her up and then wanted Nina to hold her for a while, and then came back to me—there was a bit of theatrics, I think—she has the capacity to be a drama queen when she wants.

Anyway, another quick swing and she was A-OK.

I don’t think an interlude at a park with a toddler is ever a waste of time. It’s a reminder of how important simple pleasures can be, and what a wonder the world is.

Speaker of wonders, of this world and others, 40 years ago in a couple of days, Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon. No women have walked there yet, and only a handful of men.

Will Nikayla get a chance to reprise her zombie walk on our nearest planetary neighbor? Will she leave permanent boot prints on the dead surface while looking back at the blue marble in the black sky that holds the bulk of humanity?  I know we need a good reason to spend public money, but I hope so.  It’s a shame we don’t have any good telescopes or radio scopes stationed at a permanent base on the nearest convenient airless planet.

My sisters have been sharing memories of the moon landing. I don’t know if we watched coverage on CBS—the local NBC affiliate, channel 6, seemed to have the strongest signal when we lived in Clinton. But in popular culture, Walter Cronkite is most associated with the moon landing.

I can remember images and impressions from that first landing, but not details. I don’t remember the time of day, for instance, one detail my sisters have been asking about. I don’t remember if it was the NBC or CBS news people who were reporting in our living room.

But I do remember the sense of awe.  It was one of those “unbelievable” experiences, a clear turning point in history, even to a 10-year-old–and one of the oddest things about it was being able to see it on TV.  I wish my memory of it were clearer, but I do remember the “first step” on the moon, and I remember asking what Neil Armstrong meant by what he said.

In the paper today, an engineer was quoting saying that Armstrong probably really did say “one small step for ‘a’ man,” but the “a” wasn’t picked up due to the delay of a voice activated microphone.  If they really faked the moon landing, I think they would have had better sound quality.

Taking a toddler to a park is also good for random reflections. Probably much more will be made of Michael Jackson’s life and death than Walter Cronkite’s. That’s a shame. Cronkite was a more substantial, important and influential figure.

He wasn’t the story. He didn’t bring us to the moon—the men and women of NASA did that. But he did bring us the moon story.

That’s the way it is, Saturday, July 18, 2009.

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