We have very little scheduled for summer here. A few swim classes, the regular violin lessons toned down a bit for vacation, and a little bit of school review for the kids in the mornings so they don’t forget everything by fall. I have work, a few rehearsals…. But overall summer break is pretty free form. For most people it would look like a pretty lazy summer.
But my kids take after me in that the more time there is available,
the more ways we find to fill it up. No one here is ever bored. My
kids are up at dawn and squeaking, and there are a lot of projects.
Mona continues to crank out paper creations.
She has stepped up the level of her production since we started
supplying her with colored duct tape. One of my favorite creations of
late was this cup o’ snakes. You probably didn’t realize the world
needed a cup o’ snakes until you saw it, but now you know.
And the other day she made a volcano and invited us all into the kitchen to watch the baking soda and vinegar eruption.
Little House on the Prairie.
One of the craft projects we did to accompany that book was build
little houses, but Aden was being very particular about how hers would
look and she took too long and now it just sits. But she’s too
distracted by all her new games and projects to do something with it
Quinn continues to lay things out in rows.
He also wants to learn to play chess, but we haven’t gotten much past
just teaching him how all the pieces move. He’s not sure what to do on
his turn without coaching yet, but I think by the end of the summer he
should have the basics down. In the meantime he and his sister play
a lot of bouncing,
elaborate games that seem to use all of their toys at once, and when
it’s not cold or raining they set up a lemonade stand. As I said, they
are not bored.
Most of Ian’s projects involve his computer. I take it on good
authority from people who understand what he’s doing that he’s quite
brilliant, and I believe that because any old odd thing I ask him to
make a computer do he can make happen, but I don’t get what’s involved
in all of that. He built his own router, for instance, to which I said,
“Good for you!” but that had my brain-mapping brother’s jaw on the
floor because he actually appreciated what it means. The funny thing is
that everything Ian does on the computer looks the same to me, so he
could be writing code, reading a book, playing a game, and I can’t tell
the difference. But he politely listens to me say things like, “I
planed my rib assembly taper and it came out 0.2mm low in the lower
bouts but the twist is gone so I’m happy,” so it all balances out.
The main project I’m trying to work on is a new violin I’m building
on commission for someone. I end up doing most of the work very late at
night after the kids are in bed. It’s not that they mean to disturb me
while I work, but I don’t like to turn away hugs or cuteness, and there
is always the potential for disaster with kids around. When my bending
iron is plugged in I don’t like to risk that I may forget about it
because someone needs a bandaid, and some steps like gluing can’t be
interrupted. So I wait until everyone is asleep.
This is what a bending iron looks like:
When all the ribs are bent I glue them to the blocks attached to my form:
So, I’m making progress, but it’s harder to find the time for this project than I’d like.
What kinds of projects do I end up working on instead of my violin?
Things like repairing wind-up mice. On Father’s Day we let Ian pick
where we should go and what we should do, and we ended up at American
Science and Surplus, which is a fun and eccentric store full of a crazy
variety of things. There were very cheap wind-up mice for sale that
day, so we let each of the kids pick one out. Within hours the plastic
tail came off of Aden’s. I told her I would replace it with a better
tail. So the next thing I knew, Mona had deliberately snapped the tail
off her mouse hoping for an upgrade. Then Quinn’s mouse lost its tail.
I sang them the song about the three blind mice and the woman who cut
of their tails with a carving knife and they were horrified.
In any case, I cut some strips of dark red leather that I had at the
shop and used epoxy to affix them to the mechanical stumps that the
plastic tails were once attached to.
That was time spent that I could have been doing violin work. Now
ask me how quickly after getting their mice back they all broke off the
turnkey or messed up the springs inside rendering them immobile.
(Actually, don’t ask, because it’s sadder than the blind mice song.)
It’s harder to keep the house clean lately. I’m tracking wood
shavings all over. Sometimes I look around my shop and think when
people ask what I make I should just say, “Wood chips” and it would be a
more accurate description of what’s going on. There are bits of duct
tape everywhere, and scissors and crayons. You don’t want to know what
kind of debris is left over from a volcano project.
But I like that we are a house of projects both big and small.
And of course if they run out of projects there is always hula hooping on rocks to do.