climate control?

It is possible for our house to stay cool on hot summer days. Or coolish, at least: cooler than outside, enough to make the children disinclined to get off the couch when it's steamy outside. Without air conditioning, that seems like a win. Of course, if takes a little action on our part. We need to have the right windows open at night, with the fans going—that's easy enough. First thing when we get up we need to open the doors to bring in that lovely early-morning air, the coolest of the day. Then—and this is the hard part—we have to close up the house at the right time. The windows and door facing east are easy: as soon as the sun is above the trees we can feel the heat pouring in that side of the house, so the curtains there make an immediate perceptible difference. But often, even as the air outside gets warmer and warmer, it's hard to close the other windows because we don't want to lose the breeze. If we don't, often by 3:00 it's clear we've made the wrong choice.

That's what happened yesterday. We were tricked by the misty overcast, and distracted by the forecast afternoon thunderstorms, and we left everything open all day. It wasn't super hot, but it was humid, and before long the mist burned off and the sun started burning in... and the house sure heated up. Worse, while we heard some distant thunder the five minutes of light rain that fell didn't do much to change the outside temperature.

We'll try again today, and since the forecast calls for sun and heat we'll be more focused on the job. It only got down to about 70° overnight, so that's our starting point. We'll close up the house after 8:00, and see how we do!

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boating

We took the canoe out this morning for the first time this year. Usually I'm the one to push for the boating, but I'm kind of a lump these days so the boys had to ask me more than once before I got going. Of course, once we were out on the water I was so glad they'd made me do it.

in the canoe on Walden Pond

the best of life

The trip could even be counted as homeschooling, because yesterday we were doing some experiments on what sinks and what floats, which led to a discussion of boats and an engineering challenge to create something that could float a brick in our wading pool. Elijah took to it with a will, and put together a beautiful craft.

Elijah holding up the boat he made

boatbuilder

The mast and flag was added after the brick trial. He found that his boat had enough buoyancy to hold the brick but not enough stability, so every time it tipped over—rather than improve it he thought to repurpose it as a conveyance for small plastic toys. He tells me the letters on the flag are just random.

Making the boats was challenging, and all three of us who attempted it found it hard to keep our seams from leaking. Funnily enough, we had the same problem with the canoe this morning: since last year a crack opened up in the bottom towards the bow which we found to let in water at a rate that, while not enough to feel like an emergency, was enough that we didn't want to try any long crossings. That was fine, though, since we had a perfectly satisfactory alternate activity available.

the boys swimming in the pond beyond the beached canoe

the best part of boating

And of course the swimming is better when you do it on purpose. Plans are afoot for swift repairs, because the boys want another boat trip soon!

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strange pandemic shortages

With the Covid 19 and all we figured we wouldn't be getting out to pick berries this year, so we want to make sure we're taking good care of the ones we're growing here. And after all the strawberries got eaten by an animal that got through the netting, we want to make sure the blueberries are protected! I've never netted them before, but since the pandemic has also given me lots of time for gardening they're doing better than ever, with lots of fat almost-ripe berries that are apparently very tempting for squirrels, chipmunks, and robins. A few days ago I built a frame to put netting on, but our supply didn't quite cover it and on Sunday I headed out to the hardware store to buy some more, plus some chicken wire to run around the bottom for extra security. They didn't have either—no chicken wire or bird netting of any size. OK... today I went to Home Depot, where I was sure to find at least chicken wire. Nope: they were cleared out of both items as well, plus pressure-treated 2x4s, the other thing I wanted to buy.

The flour shortage I can understand, and the toilet paper thing has been explained to me in a way that I suppose makes sense. And both of those supply chains are pretty much back to normal now anyway (except that Market Basket has mysteriously stopped stocking whole wheat flour or bread flour, boo). Now I guess everyone is gardening? It seems strange to me, but I suppose it shouldn't be unremarkable that other people have planted berries and, I guess, started raising chickens for the first time? And the hardware stores didn't anticipate this? Whatever reason it's happening, I hope the supply gets sorted out soon because I hate seeing all those almost-ripe berries disappearing! Plus the frame looks pretty dumb with the netting stopping three feet short of the ground...

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moments from the week

Harvey and Lijah laying out a harvest of berries and veggies on the playhouse counter

the yard's bounty

Moments from the past week.

me holding a giant stalk of rhubarb

champion rhubarb

the boys walking over a bridge in a green green woods

Nashoba bridge

sticks prodding the coals in the fireplace

playing with fire

Zion and Lijah playing with boats in a wading pool

and playing with water

Zion and Julen holding big nerf guns in Julen's yard

celebrating the 4th with big guns... and with friends!

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this Fourth of July

This past week we spent some time practicing music for a patriotic singalong that they recorded Thursday with Grandpa. He wrote an arrangement and sent us the accompaniment track, and the boys worked hard fitting the songs they knew into the medley and learning some new ones. It was fun, but it also felt a little strange—inappropriate, even—to be belting out "Colombia the Gem of the Ocean" just a week after celebrating the fall of the Colombus statue in Boston. Overall Independence Day has a strange feel this year: the red, white, and blue has maybe a little bit of a different meaning.

To be honest, I'd be happier to fly a black flag, or a red one, or rainbow. Right now at least when I someone displays an American flag I can't help but see it as possibly a statement against Black lives or LGBT rights. Those "thin blue line" flags that are all over sure don't help. Which is too bad! Because while I'm not really into the idea of the United States as a national identity, I do happen to have a lot of neighbors who live in the US... and theoretically it's nice to signal that we've all got something in common and can care about each other. As we celebrate the Fourth of July this year—socially distanced, of course—that's what I'll be thinking about as I sing about the red, white and blue.