Friday, November 15, 2013

Day 2039: Theology

Ruth and Melissa are watching Prince of Egypt in the background while I grade.

Ruth: Who is that talking to Moses?
Melissa: It's God.
Ruth: Oh, Ra.
Melissa: No, sweetie, that's the Egyptian god. It's the Jewish god talking to him.
Ruth: Oh, right right right. Zeus.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day 1911: How Does Second Place Feel Now?

So, about a month ago, after being recruited at a Charm City Roller Girls bout, I started practicing with the Harm City Homicide men's derby team.  It's late on Wednesday nights, so I tell Ruth about it on the way out the door as she's heading up to bed.  She had a lot of fun with her friend Katherine at the CCRG bout, and has wanted to go back, and now is excited that I might be doing it. But I've had to explain to her that I'm part of the team in the sense that I go and practice with them, but I need to get better before I'll actually take part in any bouts.

Which led to her looking me in the eye this morning and very seriously saying: "Daddy, please get very good very soon. I am waiting to see you in a race."

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Day 1839 - This is Just a Random Photo Ruth Asked Me to Take of Her Hugging the Cat

Day 1865 - Kilgore Falls

Melissa had been looking for a waterfall to take Ruth to - kind of out of nowhere, Ruth had just been asking lots of questions about waterfalls. So, she found out about Kilgore Falls, and we made our way out there one Saturday after swim class.

It was a pretty short and pleasant walk through the woods.

Ruth striking a pose on some tree roots.

The falls were quite nice, and Ruth had fun looking around at everything.

Ruth had a ton of fun checking out the tadpoles in the pools. There were zillions of them.

After about seventeen hours of checking out tadpoles, we climbed the narrow path to the top of the falls.

Coming down was a bit scarier than going up.

Afterwards, we all went to Jarettsville Creamery for ice cream. Not really a proper ending for a story, but hey, yum.

Day 1869 - Dad and Ruth Don't See a Mosque

The other day, Ruth was asking questions about the photo of the Blue Mosque that M and I have up on our wall (though we did go to the Mosque when we were in Istanbul, our camera wasn't good enough to get nice pictures while respecting the no flash rule, so the photo is actually by the quite good photographer who runs Claude Taylor Photography in Dupont Circle - warning: the website has auto-playing music and no obvious way to turn it off). Anyway, Ruth thought it was beautiful and she has a book she really loves about Ibn Battuta, and so has questions about Islam, so she asked if she could go see the Blue Mosque - and when I pointed out that Istanbul was, alas, quite far away, whether she could go see a mosque, which is an easier request to grant.

Unfortunately, the mosques I know of in Baltimore aren't the kind she means - though she has asked some general questions about Islam, she's five and is going to want to see at least a dome or a minaret or something, and the Islamic centers around here are mostly in rowhouses (though there is a building down on 25th street with crescents at its peaks that probably had some sort of interesting life before it was an apartment building). So I offered to take her down to the Islamic Center in DC, which is a bit more ornate. The folks there were very friendly on the phone (they have an educational mission, but they're also a working mosque, and we've tried to make sure that Ruth understands that, yes, it's great to learn about other cultures and ways of doing things but, no, people don't like being treated as human zoos, so it's always best to ask first) and they suggested that we stop by during the 1PM prayers to have a look around and for Ruth to be able to ask any questions she had.

Ruth had also been interested in seeing Dorothy's slippers at the national museum of American History, so I figured we'd make a day of it. Go down on the train, see the slippers in the morning, then grab some lunch, head over to the mosque, and come home. And it would let me milk my seasonal unemployment without the book I had hanging over my head last summer.

Ruth enjoyed the train ride. The last time she'd been on a train she was young enough that she didn't remember it.

When we got to DC, our first stop was the National Museum of American History

 Ruth tires easily. This was about ten steps out of the metro.
You may notice the pioneer-style bonnet. Lately, Ruth has been really deep into the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. So it was especially cool for her that right in the lobby was a covered wagon.

It took us a while to find Dorothy's Slippers, but we did find them. They... didn't hold Ruth's attention very long. But we looked at a bunch of dresses from Wicked and some other stuff in the American movies collection.

Then Ruth noticed a bunch of folks sitting down in front of the Woolworth's lunch counter from the 1960 sit-in. So, we joined in to watch the presentation/play. Ruth got a kick out of sitting with the "big kids," the high schoolers who were there on a class trip. And she was pretty proud of raising her hand and answering the question about why the sit-in happened ("because they said that white and brown people couldn't eat in the same place and that wasn't right"). And even though she's normally shy, she sang a little bit when we got to the civil rights songs.

We saw a whole bunch more stuff in the museum, but, frankly, Ruth found it 500% more fascinating than I did. I remember there was a very big steam train. And I fielded some questions gently about why there was a whole exhibit about how the first motels in MD made sure that the people staying in them were really travelers.

I agreed that we could have lunch in the museum cafeteria. Don't do that.

Unfortunately, after lunch, I had to tell her that we weren't going to make it to the mosque in time for prayers. So instead, we went to the Natural History museum. Of course, we saw the dinosaurs. Ruth was also really interested in the replica of a neanderthal burial scene. She was explaining to other kids about why the one guy was tied up and in a hole.

The big hit, though, was the butterfly pavillion.  It's actually really impressive! I don't know what to say about it, really, so I'll just show you the pictures.

As you can see, Ruth had a ball taking her own pictures, and some of them came out pretty well:

Ruth was extremely excited to learn that the Atlas moth does all its eating as a caterpillar (er... callerpitter) - she's been telling other kids all about it, apparently. These things are legitimately huge, by the way.

I'm pretty sure if you look real close this is the one she took of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis (my photo didn't come out any better).

Fruit left out for the butterflies.

"Daddy! I took a picture of words!"

We stayed at the museum pretty much until everyone was ready to fall asleep. Fortunately, Ruth managed to hold on to the cargo bike until we got home, even though I had to wake her from her nap on the train.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Day 1725 - Gleaning

For a while now, we've been looking for ways to involve Ruth in some sort of volunteering or community service.  This is harder than you might think!  I went around a few times with Food Not Bombs before being told by the woman hosting that she didn't want kids in her house. We set up a whole kid-friendly thing for the class a friend and I taught at the Baltimore Free School... only to show up with Ruth and have them, oh wow, the place where the classes meet isn't lead-abated.  And I'm currently waiting for a couple food serving places that don't just rule out kids on their website to even call me back.  After talking to one of their coordinators when I went by to help write Christmas cards for people in local prisons, I've got high hopes that if the Pleasant Hope Church resurrects their social justice committee, Ruth will at least be able to come and hang out - but the goal has really been to get her involved in something she can contribute to in an age-appropriate way.

Well, we may have found it! On Saturday, Ruth, Melissa, and I went out to Zahdraka Farm in Essex to do some gleaning with Gather Baltimore.

For those of you who may not know what gleaning is, it's a tradition (with deep roots at least in Judaism, though I'm sure it has other resonances) of gathering food from the fields that was not harvested/sold, and distributing it to the poor.

Gather Baltimore is a keen organization that has been around for a bit, but (so they told us when we were out there) is only recently scaling up and organizing to have regular volunteers. It started out as a couple of guys and their friends collecting unsold food from the Baltimore Farmers' Market, and has rapidly expanded. They're now partnered with (among other places - but as one guy told me, they need to work with places that can accept literally tons of food, which not every small service organization can) the Franciscan Center, Our Daily Bread, and Movable Feast, and the guy who started the whole thing is currently an Open Society Fellow.

From the start, Ruth was a fan of the set-up. We drove out to the farm, and as soon as the organizers got there, there were donuts for her.  You can't beat carbo-loading while helping those in need.  Seriously, Ruth has turned down the offer of almost anywhere else I will take her for lunch when we're hanging out ("do you want to fly to New York City on an airplane and go to Le Cirque?") to go to Dunkin' Donuts.

They started us on gathering russian kale, and Ruth was eager to help.  Cutting the stems was a little hard for her, but she loved getting to help by piling the cut leaves into the bins.

(I can't fix the weird picture placement. It's a blog. Live with it).

Ultimately, Ruth hooked up with the other little girl there (who was "five and nine-tenths") and they proceeded to smash their boots through every ice-frosted puddle of water within half a mile.  By the time we were done with the kale rows, as you can see, Ruth was pretty thoroughly be-mudded.  We hadn't thought ahead to bring a change of clothes, so the cold mud and soaked-through boots meant that we needed to head out.  But Ruth had fun, as did Melissa and I, and we're looking forward to going back the next time they have a volunteer day.

Next time, we'll bring waterproof pants and/or a change of clothes!