95 seconds of pinball on Wellesley Island

A while back, we went on a camping trip with some friends to Wellesley Island, up in the 1000 Islands. Our annual Saranac Lake camping trip was coming up and our friends wanted to try sleeping in a tent with their three-year-old before committing to a boat-in only excursion. Along the way, we stopped for lunch at a little cafe. (I’m not sure if this was the case then, but it appears to be called “The Guzzle” now…) Upstairs they had a little arcade with some old-school games. Otis was particularly into the pinball. And he was pretty good at it, too!

Listen to hip flapping those flippers like a madman!

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725 seconds of Otis singing 500 Feet

There was a period where Otis was very interested in making up songs and getting me to record them. I collected enough of them for an EP! That wasn’t that hard to do, though, considering how many of his songs are largely improvised and lasted more than ten minutes…

Perhaps one of these days I’ll collect them all in one place and whip up some album artwork. In the meantime, here’s “500 feet.”

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76 seconds of Juniper singing

Do all children notice the common ground between “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” “Twinkle Twinkle,” and the alphabet song? Otis sure did. And Juniper seems to have picked up on it too. Here’s JuJo mostly improvising, but with a noticeable amount of the familiar melody peppered in for good measure. (Real time commentary by Brother Otis.)

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149 seconds of otis reading moo baa la la la

When Otis was born, our friends gave us a book called Moo Baa La La La. They said it was their daughter’s favorite when she was very young. The first time I read the book, I was a little skeptical. But over time it came to be an honored part of the bedtime rotation.

When Otis got a little older, he started reading it out loud to his heavily breathing sister. Here he is when he was four and a half. (Hopefully I won’t get any cease and desist letters from Sandra Boynton…)

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80 seconds of Otis snoring outside Chipotle

An unexpected challenge of having kids is that nap timing needs to be very precise. Sarah and I developed a habit of driving to Watertown for Chipotle burritos soon after moving to Potsdam. This was before Otis was born and aside from making sure we didn’t leave the dogs home alone too long, we could go whenever we wanted. Now, with kids, we seem to have very small but ambiguously defined windows.

Back when I recorded this, when Otis was three and a half, we had determined that he would need to nap before getting to lunch. If he hadn’t napped, he’d be grumpy and wouldn’t eat. But the trouble didn’t end there. If he napped too soon, he’d start whining in the car before we got there. If he was still asleep when we got there, we’d have to wake him up and he’d be grumpier still.

Here’s a recording of the latter. We’re parked outside Chipotle, Otis is in the back seat snoring, and we’re in the front regretting our decisions. Listen for the Prius checking out and saying “I want nothing to do with this!” just before the end of the recording.

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72 seconds of the dryer that caught fire

In our old apartment, in West Stockholm, we had a washer and a dryer. The washer was fine, but the dryer caught fire. In retrospect, the warning signs were there. It used the squeak like a motherfucker. So much so that we would never do laundry if we were trying to watch TV. I guess I kinda figured it would just stop working one day. I never imagined that the squeaking drum would get so hot that the built up lint in the inaccessible part of the appliance would actually ignite!

I just happened to be walking past when the fire caught. I smelled smoke, opened the door, and saw flames behind the grill in the back of the drum. We got a new dryer off Craigslist shortly thereafter.

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47 seconds of handrail tones

I’ve got a corner office in Schuette Hall. “The result of a quick climb up the corporate ladder!” I always joke. But the joke’s on me since despite having the corner, I still have just one window. (A generous student used one page of their color print quota to make me a second window with a nice ocean view.)

Regardless of my window count, one nice thing about the corner office is that right across the hall I have an underused stairwell that leads directly to the parking lot. I can usually make a quick, sneaky exit from the building without anybody seeing me. Whether I’m headed in or out, I’m usually in a good mood when I take these stairs, so I typically play a jaunty little tune on the handrails as I go. You can get some pretty interesting sounds in the echo-y, triangular, cement chamber.

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75 seconds Otis collecting sticks while mom and dad swing

The Village of Potsdam has recently (within the last few years) been putting a lot of effort into revitalizing Ives Park down by the river. They put in a nice, meandering, paved path. They installed a canoe dock (with EZ Launch®!). And they built a nice big swinging bench. A playground is in the works (finally).

Here’s the fam (pre-Juniper) enjoying the summer down by the water.

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26 seconds of back porch fireworks with Leo Kottke

Potsdam Summer Fest happens every year. We go to Potsdam Summer Fest every year. And afterwards, coming home from Potsdam Summer Fest, we wonder aloud as to why we bothered. There are a couple of shitty food trucks. There are the usual gang of local cover bands playing your favorite hits from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. And, of course, what Potsdam festival would be complete without the same old Market Street businesses selling their wares out on the sidewalk in front of their stores instead of selling them inside their stores?!

At least there weren’t any booths selling confederate flags this year…

Later that night, we sat on the back porch listening to music and the occasional explosion from the Summer Fest fireworks extravaganza.

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