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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131 seconds of fireworks over Stockbridge Bowl

We were in Stockbridge for the Fourth of July this year. It was great! The weather was hot and perfect and there was a lot of bustle out on the Bowl. We paddled, swam, played music, drank beer, saw old friends, met new friends… Everything you could hope for.

Sarah’s parents went to go see James Taylor the night of.¬† (Apparently it’s a tradition.) Sarah and I stayed back with the kids and watched Coco. It got pretty late and Otis was getting pretty tired, so we put him to bed. The fireworks started soon after, so I ran upstairs and put a shirt on the groggy, half-naked kiddo and carried him down to the dock. It’s not very exciting watching fireworks from far away, but it’s a nice compromise when you’ve got small kids.

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114 seconds of mutual entertainment with weird kid noises

June’s been getting better in the car, but on long trips she still starts getting a little antsy at the end. When we decided to go on a family trip to Burlington for Otis’s birthday, she was just about at the end of her tether by the time we got to the hotel. We decided to unwind a bit before heading out to dinner. June was growling on the bed and Otis decided to come over and make some other weird kid noises. (The kids’ ability to and interest in entertaining each other was an unexpected bonus that came with having a second kid!)

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11 seconds of a golf ball being funneled into oblivion at the Boston Children’s Museum

The Boston Children’s Museum is as good as I remember it. Sarah and grandparents had taken the kid(s) a couple times in the past when I was away at conferences and I was always extremely jealous. (We used to go quite a bit when I was a kid and it was a magical paradise.) Well, I said that I wanted to go on our last visit to Manchester and there were no objections.

The had one room that was filled with all kinds of ramps and tracks and funnels and more golf balls than you could shake a stick at. (Previous oblivion here.)

66 seconds of Stephen/Jerod/Doyle jamming and birth stories

Our friend Jerod is a real go-getter. A while back we heard him playing with Claude and Ola Aldous at Jernabi. On this particular night he was performing at the world-famous Buccaneer Lounge in Canton, NY with Bird and Doyle Dean. I’d had a couple of beers and, since I couldn’t really hear anyone else at our table (an important detail), decided to pull out my phone and record some of their sounds. I got a couple minutes of mid-jam jams and hit stop. I looked up and saw quizzical faces across the table. Our friends, it seems, were sharing birth stories and thought I was recording them. I couldn’t hear them and you can’t hear them on the recording either. Oh well.

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35 seconds of Juniper struggling to crawl

It’s not easy being a baby. There’s a lot of stuff to learn. And although it’s pretty easy to get Juniper to laugh, she does get understandably frustrated with certain undertakings. Here she is back in March, back when she was first getting up on her hands and knees. (She’s got it down pat now, by the way.)

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30 seconds of Sarah and Chris playing ping pong

Sarah’s a monster at ping pong. Well, compared to me at least she is! I remember the first time we played. We were staying at the Karioi Lodge in Raglan, NZ. In between staring at the epic surf, we poked around in the jungle. We found a small shed with a ping-pong table and Sarah kicked my ass.

It’s funny because she’s not at all competitive when it comes to games/sports. She grew up playing games casually with her parents. Nobody ever even tried to win. They were just killing time. Here she is volleying with her mom.

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80 seconds of campfire chatter at Wellesley Island

Prior to our second (hopefully annual) camping trip to the Saranac Islands, we did a test run with some friends at Wellesley Island. Their son had never been camping before and June hadn’t been in a tent since she was three months old. Our friends went on a camping gear spree in the local Walmart and picked up a tent with LED lighting on the poles! The kids had a great time, even if Juniper did scream for about an hour in the middle of the night. Got a good shot of June and Foster too:

There was a big group across the drive from us and I surreptitiously recorded their campfire chatter from inside my tent.

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113 seconds of Salt Creek and Juniper yelling

I bought a mandolin a couple years ago on a road trip with Greg to see Brian Wilson in Burlington. We stopped at Dick’s Country Store Gun City & Music Oasis¬†(“Groceries, Guns, Gas, Guitars”!) and I mentioned that I’d been meaning to learn how to play the instrument since I’d inherited my grandmother’s several years prior. Well, Greg convinced me to seize the moment and I went home with a Gretsch New Yorker. I’ve been dabbling ever since but decided to get a little more serious while on parental leave last semester. Here’s what I sounded like back in March (with June yelling/singing along). I’ve gotten a little better since then, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement!

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168 seconds of maritime sound collage at the Canadian Museum of Nature

Occasionally, we will venture up even further north than Potsdam to visit our friendly Canadian neighbors. Up in Ottawa, they have a couple of fun museums that Otis gets more into every time he visits. On our most recent trip to the Canadian Museum of Nature (where Otis was terrorized by a giant, scary octopus), we found an exhibit with a bunch of buttons:


You could push (and hold) the buttons to play (and keep playing) different above- and underwater sea sounds. Otis and I improvised a maritime sound collage.

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