Monday, June 27, 2016

stained glass

diana recently completed a series of three workshops for stained glass art at monroe stree studio (where she has also gained skills and experience working with 3d printing). under the tutelage of yana over several months, diana and her friend learned the skills required to make a single panel - cutting and grinding the glass, wrapping with copper foil, working with solder and flux and a soldering iron. yana started them with a basic design and allowed them their choice of colors.

in the next series of classes, the girls were permitted to create and use their own designs on a larger piece, applying increasing attentiveness and precision to the physical processes.

the third set of hours were concentrated on a three-dimensional project, an open box of sorts. true to herself, diana took this in a slightly different direction than yana expected (though yana has learned over the months that diana tends to be her own person, taking the skills and perspectives she learns and applying them in her own creative way to the project at hand. like with painting).

Sunday, June 19, 2016

model rocket launching, day 2

today was *the* day for epic model rocket launching. we'd had our practice yesterday. we were ready to bring out the family to kick off father's day with a bang. a model rocket kind of bang, at least.

ander demonstrates his modified parachute folding to diana

ander assists dad in reading dad's celebratory first launch

fabulous blast pattern on launch pad
we brought all the rockets we could conceivably launch, including the first rocket from the previous day with a reglued launch lug. we brought lots of igniters and plugs and engines. we brought a table for setup. we got outside early enough in the day to launch before all the soccer fields were occupied.

Launch of Athena (Steve):

Landing/Recovery of Shooting Star (Ander's launch):

Launch of Scrappy (Diana):

Recovery of Outlaw (Dawn's launch):

Second Launch of Athena (Steve):

Launch of Slinger (Ander prep):

Landing of Summit (Ander's launch):

Launch of Alpha III (Diana):

everything that we wanted to launch launched. we replaced faulty igniters. we reattached clips. we did lose one nose cone & parachute when scrappy's shock cord separated from the body tube, but we can replace that.

all of our prep and practice and patience paid off. today was AWESOME.

model rocket launching, day 1

practice for the *real* thing on father's day: me and ander. picture this:

- pick out four rockets.

- practice and practice and practice getting the parachute and cords rolled properly and inserted into the body tube.

- select appropriate engines. load with igniters and plugs.

- head outside to pre-approved launch site.

- attempt to launch rocket 1. launch lug fell off. abort launch attempt.

- attempt to launch rocket 2. failure to launch. check equipment. try again. fail to launch. much disappointment.

attempt to launch rocket 3: success!

attempt to launch rocket 4: see results for rocket 2.

attempt to launch rocket 3 again with unused engine from rocket 1: successful launch into stratosphere. no recovery expected.

lessons learned:

- parachute rolling can be tricky. reasonable modifications are permissible.

- sometimes rockets fail to launch. it happens. we don't give up.

- sometimes rockets launch and don't come back. we'll miss you, EX-200.

- faulty igniters can be the cause of many a rocket launch failure and much consternation. bring backups.

- a good launch is awesome!

and now for day 2

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


from january through may this year, ander and i participated in an after-school program put on by play-well teknologies. we had known about the company for years; diana took a homeschool class in california with her friends learning to design and build working garage door openers and elevators and arch bridges and motorized cars all out of lego pieces. when the chance came up to take a class in lego jedi engineering, ander was excited to sign up.

i think the best thing about ander's class was his teacher, mr. ian. he was enthusiastic, knowledgeable, interactive, approachable, and he connected well with the kids. most importantly for me, mr. ian worked with us to make the experiences accessible for ander in the ways that worked best for him.

after the first couple of classes, ander listened to and watched mr. ian's instructions for the new build, but then he opted to work on refining his starship designs. each one was a representation of a different ship from the star wars universe (i cannot recall what they are, but you can bet that ander knows). the other kids were pretty impressed with what ander built and asked him questions about the models. and yes, the x-wing designs had moving wings to open and close for various stages of takeroff, flight, fight, and landing. of course they did. hinge pieces rock.

it was pretty cool to see mr. ian representing his company at the homeschool conference. his bridge had a working conveyor belt.

ander asked to take the next class with a minecraft focus. that class didn't interest him as much, but he did participate in several of the builds.

those of you who are minecraft enthusiasts might appreciate ander's tree. i think it resembles the jungle tree most, which makes sense because he was supposed to build a hanging bridge high above the ground to avoid hostile mobs. he built the trunk solidly and constructed the leaves to look appropriately generated. his giant creeper is adorable. at one point, a bunch of the other kids in the class got distracted by it and decided they had to build their own. one student was having difficulty so ander gave him his own to play with.

yup, play-well. it's not just about the lego pieces, it's really how you play with them, and with others.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


we have a large hydrangea shrub outside our front windows. every time i pass the abundant blossoms, i think of grandmother and how much she enjoyed me bringing her a bouquet of fresh cut blooms when i'd visit. she'd enjoy looking at flower photos i'd recently taken, too. when things looked especially lovely outside her building, i'd make sure to take a few snapshots to share with her and we'd ponder the identity of the trees from her window views.

ander liked to carry the flowers when he came along with me; such a gracious little gentleman presenting our offering to his beloved great-grandmother. oh, if she could see him now, looking very much like his great-grandfather dressed in a sportcoat and dress shirt. she'd be proud of him. she was proud of him.

i miss her.


a morning jaunt to meadowlark with one of my very favorite people. i wonder if she knew she'd dressed to match the poppies?