Saturday, August 25, 2007

Point Pleasant Beach

Caption: Scenes from a summer day in New Jersey.

The summer is winding down. Everywhere we go, people tell us: "I can't believe the summer is almost over." And yet, this is the way it has always happened, and it will never change. "One season cometh, and another passeth way, but the earth abides forever." That's from the Bible.

The Clarks of New Jersey do not lament the passing of the seasons. Instead, we enjoy them while we may, gathering rosebuds, etc. There is not much to say about our recent trip to Point Pleasant Beach. It was a Friday. Daddy had the day off. And the traffic on the Parkway was fine until just pass the Asbury Park exit. Lifeguards forebade swimmers from entering the ocean because, again, "the sea was angry that day my friend." And the children enjoyed collecting shells.

But look at these photos! There's Natalie climbing on the railing. There's Theo running on the boardwalk. A trio of Clarks cleans up in the public shower. And the two guys prepare our delicious funnel cakes. More than any words, these photos will give you an idea of our day in the sun.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Visiting the World Capital of Fun

Caption: Theo admires the art exhibit in the Lipstick Building.

The stock market fell dramatically on Thursday. How dramatically? So dramatically that Theo and Dad blew off their normal Friday responsibilities and spent much of the day sightseeing in New York City. Who knows how many days we’ll have before the global markets implode? At least we’ll have this day to enjoy the world capital of finance in all its glory.

The 10:20 a.m. train left right on time, and we arrived in a soggy and raw New York City with two umbrellas and a back pack stuffed with healthy snacks.

The first stop: 425 Park Avenue, a.k.a Daddy’s office. Here, Peter made Theo a paper airplane. Peter is the advertising intern at Nation’s Restaurant News, and he’s a very likable college student from St. Josephs in Philadelphia. He sits next to me in the office. He really took the time to make Theo a high-quality aircraft, which had Theo’s name written on both wings. (You can see the plane in Theo’s right hand in the photo above.)

Marianne Wilson also welcomed Theo. She’s a great friend of the Clarks of New Jersey, and has for years supported the family with gifts and kindnesses.

Peter and Marianne: Thanks for being good neighbors. CNJ Salutes you!

Second stop: the Lipstick Building. Dad loves the art exhibit in the lobby of this famous Third Avenue skyscraper. Phoebe Washburn’s “2 BLT’s (Bought and Lovely Towns)” occupies the north and south end of the lobby. I think it’s remarkable. Hundreds and hundreds of wood scraps and two by fours, painted and nailed together to form a clump that resembles a busy city built on a volcanic island. I could happily study it for a full lunch hour, imagining how life might be different in all off its neighborhoods. Theo said he wanted to try to make something like it at home. It’s not a bad idea, I think.

Third stop: Sam Flax, the best art supply store in the city.

Fourth stop: The Midtown Restaurant on 55th street between Lexington and Third avenues. The hostess, a very friendly Indonesian woman with a 24-year-old daughter back in Indonesia, fawned over Theo as she admired his “big black eyes.” Theo just picked at his cheeseburger, but he devoured two deli-style pickles.

Fifth stop: Back to the office. With scissors, paper and markers, Theo made name tags for us both. Mine read “Ken.”

Sixth stop: The Disney store on Fifth Avenue and 55th Street. Did you know that this store, unlike all the Disney Stores in all the malls in America, is run by Disney World? It’s true. Dad bought a little car for Theo, who’s sleeping with it right now.

By the way: the DJIA and the S&P 500 stopped the bleeding on Friday. False alarm.

# # # Reader Participation Opportunity # # #

What stocks do you like? and why?

Monday, August 06, 2007

“Show us your trick, Natalie.”

Caption: Our little trickster.

For many months, Natalie has been very proud of her “trick.”

When prompted, Natalie will hyperextend her index finger by pulling back on it with the middle finger of the same hand. Can you picture that? Take a second to picture that. If you see something tricky, you’re not visualizing it correctly. It’s a very simple movement of the fingers, nothing more. Sometimes she does it with both hands simultaneously, but it’s still a simple move.

So, the other day in Natalie’s bedroom, Margie and Natalie are calling dad in to see her “new trick.” Dad is expecting something mild, along the lines of the finger bender. Maybe Natalie will hide her arms in her shirt?

Here is what I saw: Natalie was smiling, standing on the floor with one foot on her crib. When Margie said “go ahead,” Natalie began to climb. When she got to the top, she slowly positioned herself on the rail, half her weight on the inside, and half on the outside. She teetered there, stiff as a board, then plunged down toward the mattress, landing face first and bending her spine in a way that is too horrible to describe in this family forum. I rush to her aid with a cry of concern and pain, forgetting Rousseau’s advice in the earlier entry. Natalie, unharmed, rolls over and laughs.

“That’s not how you did it last time,” said Margie. Apparently, this trick was an improvisation.