Sunday, October 17, 2004

Camping trip to Dawson

We left for the cabin on Saturday around 5:30 or so. I took an alternate route, mentioned in the PATC instruction packet I was sent, and it ended up taking on a winding multi-state odyssey. We finally arrived at the cabin in rural Pennsylvania around 9:30 Friday night. By rural I mean no cell phone reception ten miles to the nearest intersection rural. Strictly the boonies.

Brad's congenial friend Ed came along as well as Brad and Ethan. Ed doesn't have any kids, so I have no idea why he came along. Maybe some kind of masochistic inclination. We finally got the kids to bed around ten, and then Brad and I stayed up until about three AM arguing politics. This was about as worthwhile as if we had argued about whether coke or Pepsi was the ultimate cola beverage, but it did remind me of those bygone days when I would do things like stay up drinking too much beer until three AM in the morning. Unfortunately, in those bygone days I did not have any kids and would usually sleep in until about noon or so. The kids were up at six thirty. Ed, god bless him, got up with the children and entertained them for an hour and a half or so, but we were up by eight. Ugh. That was about all I could say. Ugh.

The weather was cold and rainy. Luckily the rain was intermittent, and you would get some sunshine in between the spitting rain. We took a walk in the woods and I fended off my children's request for transportation assistance (please, daddy, carry me, I'm tired, whine whine, blah blah blah). Other than that we mostly hung out around the cabin, sitting around the campfire roasting weenies and marshmallows.

The cabin was really nice. Unlike most PATC cabins, this wasn't directly connected to some major trail system, but we weren't doing any major hiking anyway so it made no difference. It was called Dawson, and it had a wood stove, and two rooms and a small washroom. There was an outhouse, and a big field in front of the cabin with a nice view of the local mountains of the Bucannon State forest.

Brad, Ed, and Ethan took off around lunchtime, so I took Anna and PJ to Bedford, PA where I found a McDonalds with a play area and let then play for a l-o-n-g time. Then we headed back to the cabin. I was sort of nervous about being alone in the cabin with the two kids because they can be rather high maintenance, but I shouldn't have worried. They were awesome. We cooked dinner (more wieners) and then played the card game war until about nine when the kids went to sleep with no trouble at all. That gets me to now, with the kids sleeping, a warm fire going in the woodstove, some cool live music coming in on an NPR station out of Berkeley Springs. I am here typing this onto my palm pilot with the portable keyboard thinking to myself how important it is to get away to do this sort of thing.

Somewhere in Pennsylvania, on a cold October night, surrounded by brilliant orange maple leaves, my pooch Patra is curled up in a knot next to the hot wood stove and making occasional groaning noises while the radio plays softly and the wind blows against the clapboard walls and it is just really nice to be here.


As I wrote the last paragraph I was feeling pretty good. Unfortunately, around eleven o’clock, after I had gone to bed, PJ woke up with night terrors. He gets this when he goes to sleep very tired. Basically, he starts crying and yelling without actually waking up. So what you need to do is pick him up and wait for him to wake up and stop yelling at your head at the top of his lungs. Then he’s fine and he goes back to sleep. He doesn’t remember any of this.

About an hour after that, Anna woke up and started throwing up. She threw up on the sleeping bag, on her mattress, on the floor. So there I was in this dark cabin with no running water, and no light except for this tiny flashlight hanging from a tiny rope attached to the ceiling. I’m wondering how I’m going to clean all this up, and how sick Anna was. I eventually got it all cleaned up. Anna didn’t remember this either. Both children got up early, and probably wondered why dad was so grumpy. So my peaceful easy feeling that I was just writing about was short lived. Despite this though, it was a great time and I look forward to going camping again. I really am not sure exactly why.

Saturday, October 16, 2004


Friday, October 15, 2004


Monday, October 11, 2004


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

I saw PJ standing on his head in a dark room the other day. His body was leaned up against the sofa, an he was just sitting there, standing on his head, silent. "PJ, what are you doing?" I said.

"I'm just, I'm just -- I was just going to play a game on the computer." He said, and rushed out of the room. Who knows what goes on inside his mind. Wheels are spinning, certainly, but what wheels, and to what end?

He is at the age where he has started to ask me very difficult questions. Last night he asked me where god lives.

I tried to be precise. "Well, god lives in heaven, and some people think that heaven is up in the sky"

"But isn't god all around us?"

"Well, yes, he is all around us too. That is called omniscience"

"I think he's in the wall." PJ pointed at the wall next to his bed.

"OK, that's fine. God is in the wall. Good night PJ." I was tired of answering questions. We are on about the hundred something-th question already.



"You can turn the lights out. I'm not afraid of the dark." Of course, the night light stayed on.

"OK, PJ, good night" I said, and started to walk towards the door. It was within reach when he hit me with another zinger.


"Yes, PJ?"

"How does the nightlight know to turn on?"

"Well, the nightlight can tell when its dark out."

"But how does it know when to turn on?

"Well, it has a photosensitive switch that can detect the light."

"But how does it know?"

"Well, light has little tiny things called phosphors, and when enough of them go flying past this litle piece of metal then it cause an electrical reaction that can cause a switch to fire, turning the light on. Now GOOD NIGHT PJ!" I finally shut the door most of the way, and crept downstairs.

I just made all of that stuff up about the night light. All I really wanted to go downstairs and sit in a chair in peace and quiet. But how can he think of all these questions? It must be incredible to have the world around you be so full of wonder.

Sometimes I can see it in his eyes, and it makes me sad because I remember how it was that way for me sometime impossibly long ago. But now its my job to explain things to him, to make the world real, to take that away, so that he knows better than to stand on his head in a dark room.

Monday, October 04, 2004


Sunday, October 03, 2004


And ... more photos! I know, I haven't been posting much stuff lately. Work has been busy lately. My mom has just had a surgical procedure, and she is doing well and resting at home. We all wish her a speedy recovery.

We were heading out the door to go to a church picnic today. I was just heading out to the car, carrying Sam, when he suddenly, coughed, choked, and threw up a big gush of sour apple juice smelling vomit that covered both Sam and myself. Yeesh! Kids, I tell ya. It's a good thing he's so cute. So we went upstairs and took a bath, and now Sam and I are hanging out while Kathleen and the kids are at the picnic. Sam seems to be feeling better.

I have been trying to teach Sam about dog biscuits. I grabbed three or four biscuits, and then showed them to Sam, handing them to Patra, one by one. I pointed out the dog, said "Bap-Ba!" Which is Sam-speak for Patra, and then handed Patra the biscuit. I look at Sam and say "these are for the dog, okay?"

Sam looks at me and nods. "Okay"

I say again, "these aren't or little buys and girls, they're or Bap-Ba, okay?"

Sam looks and says "Okay" again. He seems to know what I am talking about.

I hand him a biscuit. He puts it in his mouth. "No!" I say, and pull his arm down. Patra is inching in towards the biscuit. "This is or the dog. Ok?"

"OK" Sam says, and tries to put it in his mouth again.

We go through this a few more times. Patra is staring at the biscuit with a little tendril of drool hanging down from her snout. She is being incredibly patient, as usual.

Sam starts to wander off. He doesn't eat the biscuit, but he won't give it to Patra either. Patra is following him around. Sometimes Patra will get her mouth around the biscuit, but then Sam squeals and Patra backs away. The biscuit is now covered by dog spit though, as is Sam's hand.

I gently take the biscuit away from his hand. "Look, the biscuit is for Patra." Sam seems to be getting it. I give the biscuit to Patra, who inhales it into her mouth and then scoots off to enjoy the biscuit somewhere Sam can't find him.

Sam looks at me, at his hand, now with no biscuit. His mouth opens, his face wrinkles. He starts to howl. Little tears fall down his cheeks. I get up off the floor and go to get another biscuit.