I gave the gift that’s impossible to return: I brought my violin to the family gatherings and played. Of course, some of my family would have rather had anything else, but it’s the thought… right?
According to me, their time. According to Claire, an iPad.
Here we go again… December is Blog-Every-Day Month. No guidelines. No rules. No set topic. No nothing no how. Just an article with at least one complete sentence, every day…
December 26… because Christmas gifts must be played with!
We got Claire a marble run building set for Christmas this year. She cracked it open and spent a couple hours building a collection of curious constructions.
Though, I think her parents had almost as much fun as she did.
I got a a fist-pumping “Yes!” from Claire when she opened the Stampy Minecraft book I bought her.
If you need an idea for Christmas, dad, you guys could just buy me my own computer. I’d be happy with a small one.
The Christmas money is spent. Gone. And then some. We collected bits and bites of cash here and there as parts of various gifts from parents and grandparents –thanks again, by the way– and after puzzling about how we could spend it in some meaningful way (and not just pay off the Christmas bill) we opted to do something we’ve been meaning to do for a few years now. Claire is finally old enough, so we strolled over to the local outdoorsy store and bought a family set of cross-country skis — poles, boots, bindings, and all. They should be assembled for pick up later this week! Let’s hope the weather cooperates for New Years!
As Karin so often reminds me, I don’t really *need* anything… but I guess I’d like a surprise.
This is another post from my “Daddy Daze” series, an anecdotal exploration of my odd little adventures in parenting in bite-sized chunks (for your reading enjoyment) and because the last thing this world needs is yet another doting parent blog.
It’s my daughter’s mother’s birthday today… figure THAT one out.
On Cake Shoppping
… but Karin was out last night, performing at her year-end dance recital for the highland dancing group she belongs to, so Claire and I were home alone for pretty much most of the evening. That was fine, of course, because with a nearly-five-year-old pysched about her mom’s birthday, as much information that can be withheld from a little girl bubbling to let out every little secret the moment she is able, a night without the birthday girl nearby means a night devoted to some preparation: like, buying cake. Now, the birthday girl is not extremely particular, but over the years I’ve discovered, learned, and memorized that her all-time favourite cake is something called a “tuxedo cake” that is thankfully readily available at the nearby grocery store. Convincing Claire that this particular variety of cake was the ideal birthday for her mom was a completely different matter. Why? Because a few days prior she had (apparently) spotted and picked out the cake SHE wanted to get at the local ice cream place. I’m sure either would have been fine, and — given the stupid-level of road construction around the grocery store — the ice cream store might have been easier to get to, but I was forced to perform an epic con-job and convince one little girl that we were going with the (significantly cheaper) tuxedo model.
On Epic Bike Rides
Of course, part of that deception involved a bike ride. She loves her bike rides. And I think she loves her bike rides mainly for the reason that — somehow — we always end up biking past a playground and before I can figure out what’s going on, she’s raced ahead, parked, removed her helmet and shoes, and is off-and-playing. Last night we took a slightly different neighborhood tour, the cycling skills maturing enough to venture out on an alternate path system near our house. She still managed to find a playground, but as something less standard, we also had a short break near a local neighborhood pond to watch the ducks and geese. This was well and good, and unlike so-called normal kids who would have been content to throw rocks in the pond, or pick dandelion flowers, Claire was far more interested in “making a movie” with the camera which we’d — of course — brought along. By a strange coincidence we also happened to cross paths with the fifteen or so members of my running clinic (which I was skipping due to my fatherly duties) as they were setting off on some kind of training run. Boy, did I get razzed for that. We pedalled home shortly after, mostly to get ready for bed, but first to…
On Gifts and Wrapping Paper
… wrap gifts. Well… gift. Singular. And Claire, in her non-conformist originality decided that the best wrapping paper for such a job — mid-June birthday gift — was the elegant green-red-and-golden poinsettia-laden one from the Christmas paper stash. In fact, she insisted upon it because it was “beautiful” and “mom likes flowers.” Of course, had she her own way moreso than that, wrapping the smallish-box containing the gift would have required (likely) the entire roll of wrap and a few meters worth of tape. But we managed to bundle it fairly neatly for two untalented wrappers, and you-know-who scurried off to hide it somewhere only she knew about, which on reflection probably wasn’t the smartest plan — or wouldn’t have been if we — or more specifically, SHE — hadn’t been retrieving it at five-fourty-five this morning in bubbling anticipation of an in-bed unwrapping.
There are just some things you can’t learn from a book.
Leading into the holidays, Karin and I simultaneously noticed a Groupon promotion for an Alberta-based photography school called FotoScool (www.fotoscool.ca) where they were offering their introductory “basic” workshop for about one-third of their list value. I told her. She told me. And…
Well, guess what I got for Christmas.
When I attended last Saturday I found myself sitting at a table with three other guys who’s wives had also bought them the same gift for Christmas. It was like a club, or something.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into that early weekend morning, driving over with my music blasting on the car stereo, half-way round the city to the facility where the class was being held. It was listed as a beginner class. It could have been anything, I thought, and here I am posing as a noob and taking an intro class.
But there is always something to be learned. And some things — no matter how many books and websites you read — that just never click until someone is standing there walking you through it.
The basic class wasn’t so much a photography course as it was an ‘introduction to light’ course. We talked very little about composition. We talked very little about subject matter. We talked very little about photographs in general. What we did discuss was light, and the very important ways that digital cameras understand light. We learned not the basics of what most people think about when they think of photography, but instead we learned how to forget about what the camera’s little brain is telling us about the light, and instead how to crank the tools to manual mode and use those tools like a real photographer might.
I’m not horribly embarrassed to admit that (while I’ve experimented with full manual mode and a few mediocre attempts at proper light metering) I’ve usually fallen back on the auto metering modes and focused on composition. But the instructors, one of whom who has a freelance resume that more resembles the magazine rack at the grocery store than mine ever will, effectively — in the span of a six hour practical course — kicked that crutch to the curb. (Though I’ll still use my point-and-shoot, of course, when the moment strikes!)
It clicked. All my reading, all my experimenting — everything. And it took an afternoon in a ‘beginner’ course before all the pieces lined up in the bright sunlight. I was standing in a greenhouse photographing a well-lit display of rainbow-coloured flower pots, and it — right there — suddenly all made sense. Epiphany struck.
On the drive home I rolled back through my mind on every mediocre photograph I ever took, realized that my awesome composition couldn’t have ever made up for crappy lighting — and crappy light metering — and had one of those giddy moments trying explain my glee to Karin back home.
Needless to say, I’ve already registered for the intermediate course. Take two? Anyone wanna join me?