It’s morning. You are not at your best. You’re having a bad hair day. The dishes haven’t been put in the dishwasher. The baby is whimpering, and the cat is getting ready to scratch the furniture.

The doorbell rings. You open the door. A famous face looks at you. Her “posse” stands respectfully behind her. Her famous voice addresses you:

“Good morning. I’m sorry to disturb you—” (she smiles, a smile that doesn’t quite reach those famous frosty blue eyes) “but we had engine problems in my private jet, and we had to make an emergency landing in the field over there, and we have a television show we have to film this morning, so I will need to borrow your kitchen to use for filming. You will be recompensed—James, my checkbook, please—and we’ll have to clean up a little bit—Miriam, please load the dishwasher. Of course, you will need to do something with the cat [who is hissing] and the child [who is starting to scream in terror], perhaps they can go visit the neighbor. Oh, and my hairdresser will try to do something with your hair…”

Well, Martha Stewart would not use your kitchen, even if it were in tiptop shape, because she just likes to use her own stuff—who can blame her? (besides everyone who is not Martha Stewart) and even though Mrs. Random is much nicer and more charming than Martha Stewart, when Random Granddaughter was asked what she wanted to do with Grandma on Wednesday, and said, “I want her to help me make chocolate cupcakes,” Mrs. Random got a distressed expression on her face, though perhaps I was the only one to notice it.

Even though Random Daughter’s kitchen (which is also Out of Law Partner’s kitchen as well, of course) is a perfectly nice kitchen, and all the dishes were clean, and everything is arranged very neatly and efficiently, it is not Mrs. Random’s kitchen, and the oven’s temperature is off in a different way than Mrs. Random’s oven (which she is used to, and it pays attention to her when she snarls at it, and the cupcake pan has slightly different size cupcake cups—something that you might not notice—but might throw the cupcakes off—nevertheless, Mrs. Random smiled (a genuine smile) at RG and said, “Of course, I would love to help you make cupcakes.”

So while I took the car to the car doctor because it had become a traveling condominium, Mrs. Random and RG made chocolate cupcakes. RG followed instructions very well. At one point, she asked her grandma, “Did your grandma teach you how to make cupcakes?”

“No,” her grandma said. “My Mommy taught me how to make cupcakes. Then I taught my daughter, who is your Mama, how to make cupcakes.”

RG, who is 3 years old, got a little confused about all the generations. Mrs. Random was explaining about grandma’s grandma, and the like, but family trees are perhaps a four year old thing. For that matter, grandpa can hardly wait until RG is in first grade, and perhaps brings some cupcakes she made to “Show and Tell” and then starts telling the class about her family tree while she’s at it, “Well, there’s Mama (Random Daughter) and Mommy (who kept me in her tummy until I was born, and then [dad] who is called a sperm donor though he visits me and buys me treats, and Grandma Random who showed me how to make cupcakes, and Grandpa Random, who is crazy, and Grandma B2, who is my sperm donor’s mother, and Grandma B1 who is now married to Grandpa K who is my step-grandfather, and Grandpa A who is my birth Grandpa, but he’s married to Grandma J, who is my step-grandma, because Grandma B1 and Grandpa A were divorced—how many of you have parents who were divorced?—raise your hands,”and at that point, the first grade teacher will say, “Thank you very much, RG, that was very nice, but we should give someone else a chance to show and tell as well.” RG would then be followed by the little boy who shows how to roll a joint and tells about how his daddies grow marijuana plants in their basement under plant lights.

Anyway, the cupcakes were prepared, and put in the oven, and even though Mrs. Random doesn’t trust the temperature control on her daughter’s oven, the cupcakes looked fine when they took them out of the oven. Then Mrs. Random said, “We need to let the cupcakes cool before we can put the frosting on, so you should take your nap while we let the cupcakes cool.”

Mrs. Random didn’t say it, but she was very nervous whether RG could get herself calm enough to take a nap while she was thinking about putting frosting on the cupcakes, but RG surprised her. She insisted on rushing upstairs to take her nap, and while rushing and going to sleep are not two phrases one normally puts in the same sentence, especially one involving three year old girls, RG did just that. She rushed upstairs, popped herself into her bed, and in no time at all was fast asleep.

When RG woke up from her nap and she really did take a nap—she didn’t just pretend to take one—she came downstairs to frost the cupcakes. However, an alert Grandma noticed that RG was getting weary of household tasks after frosting one cupcake, and that her attention span for domestic chores had perhaps been exceeded, so after RG had frosted one cupcake, wise grandma thought maybe it was time for a little girl to eat one cupcake, which she did with great enjoyment of a well-earned reward.

At that point, Grandma thought that maybe RG was a little restless and bored. Later that evening, as they were going home on the ferry, Mrs. Random told me, “OP (Out of Law Partner) is a teacher, and she knows all these songs and games and activities to amuse a child, and I just don’t know that kind of stuff.”

I told Mrs. Random, “RG was very happy and pleased to show her cupcakes to her Mommies that evening when they got home. You are a wonderful Grandma, and you should stop beating up on yourself for not being the Martha Stewart of Grandmas. In fact, you are probably a much better Grandma than Martha Stewart. If RG had to spend a day with Martha Stewart, they would probably both be having a meltdown by the end of the day.”

2K Sylvie’s Return

June 26, 2007

The visit to the car doctor took longer than planned and cost more money than I expected. However, overall, the news was good.

I got back to the barely extended family’s house a bit later than I planned.

Random Granddaughter was outside in the yard. My wife was outside in the yard. Sylvie was by the white picket fence looking out and looking cute.

“Hello, Grandpa,” said RG.

“Hello, RG,” I replied. “Are you and Sylvie friends again?” I asked.

“Yes!” she said. “Look!” She walked to Sylvie and petted her. She still isn’t entirely skillful at petting, but Sylvie seemed to take it in good humor.

“That’s very good,” I said.

We all decided to go inside the house. I took RG into the house.

“Where’s Sylvie?” my wife asked.

“She was right by the fence looking out,” I said.

“She’s not there now,” said my wife. She walked around the yard. She looked by her truck on the driveway outside the fence. She began walking around the house outside the fence.

“I just saw her run into the bushes around the house across the street,” she exclaimed. She was referring to a very well-landscaped house across the street to the north. I know where RG’s best friend Mia lives across the street to the east, but I didn’t know anything about this house to the north.

I took RG (who carefully looked both ways and held my hand before crossing) across the street with me to look for Sylvie. “Sylvie doesn’t understand she should stay at home,” RG told me. I agreed this was a grievous feline fault.

We looked around the house and the front yard. The house has many well-maintained bushes and trees in front and back. A little black (with a little white) cat could be well-hidden and hard to find in all the foliage. We called for Sylvie, though I don’t know if she answers to her name. (Cats generally don’t answer, period, except when they feel like complaining, making demands, or telling their owners—who are really the cats’ pets—off.)

RG was nervous about being on somebody else’s property. She decided she wanted to go home and be with Grandma instead of with crazy Grandpa who was obviously out of control again. I took her back across the street and returned her to Grandma.

“I’m going to see if anybody is home and tell them there may be a cat hiding on their property,” I said. I was a little embarrassed, but one of the things that happens when you get to be 63 years old is you worry less about making a fool of yourself than you used to. Well, I do. Your mileage may vary.

I knocked on the door. I could hear a television spouting sports, so I figured somebody was home. It took a while, but a woman about my age eventually came to the door.

I introduced myself and explained the situation. She introduced herself as Pauline.

Pauline asked me to describe the cat. She would tell my daughter if she saw it.

As we were talking, I saw a little black (with a little white) cat run across Pauline’s front yard, dash across the street, run through the picket fence, and up to the porch.

I thanked Pauline for her concern, expressed relief at the cat’s return, and returned to the house. My wife was letting Sylvie back into the house.

RG told Sylvie she should stay at home. Sylvie purred but did not look repentant.

Actually Sylvie probably does not consider any of the events described in the following tale as tribulations. Sylvie is my daughter’s small cat. Sylvie is a fierce guard cat. If an intruder entered the little house in the middle sized city while all the regular humans were away, Sylvie would immediately leap into the intruder’s lap and start purring, thereby scaring him away.Sylvie’s life has improved considerably over the last few months. It may hard to imagine how this could be, as Sylvie is loved and pampered many times a day.

However, Sylvie used to have to run away from my daughter’s other cat, Sebastian. Sebastian resented sharing a house and two Mommies with Sylvie. However, Sebastian is now late.

Sylvie, who used to be very svelte, is now rather plump. Probably this change is the result of Sylvie no longer having to quickly leap on to sideboards and tables to escape Sebastian’s angry lunges.

Second, Random Granddaughter now recognizes that Sylvie is another person, not a stuffed animal. Several times a day, she approaches Sylvie, says, “I love you, Sylvie,” and demonstrates her love by petting Sylvie’s fur, gently.

Sometimes she pets Sylvie’s fur the wrong way, but Sylvie takes this attention fairly philosophically. For example, when RG was two years old, she would show her love by pulling Sylvie’s tail or by picking her up in a bear hug.

Sylvie is a smart cat. She recognizes that having her fur petted in the wrong direction is a big improvement over having her tail pulled and being chased by Sebastian. Not many cats would be smart enough to evaluate cost-value benefits in such a sophisticated way, but Sylvie is a very smart cat.

It used to distress Sylvie a great deal when the family went outside. She would look through the screen door and meow piteously. All the other people were having fun outside and she was being excluded. Isn’t she a person, too?

Soon Sylvie was trying to sneak out whenever the door was open for a second. Soon Sylvie was outside once in a while. Everyone was very worried whenever she got outside, so they would rush out and grab her and bring her back in and say, “Bad cat! Don’t go outside! You might get lost.”

Random Granddaughter, not having a little sister or brother to boss around, would say to Sylvie, “Bad cat! Don’t go outside.”

Sylvie would look at RG soulfully and purr.

After a while, my daughter noticed that Sylvie didn’t run away when she did get outside. After a while, my daughter would let Sylvie go outside with the family once in a while. Sylvie would stay inside the white picket fence with the family. She would wander around the yard, eat a bit of grass every so often, and sniff everything that seemed interesting (which was pretty much everything she found outside).

As soon as everyone came inside, they would bring Sylvie inside.

On Tuesday, the first day my wife and I took care of RG, we took her to the playground. When we got back to the house, I watched RG while she played in the yard. Grandma fixed some lunch. Sylvie sat by the white picket fence looking out at the street.

I took RG inside. My wife went to bring Sylvie in. She said, “Where’s Sylvie?”

I said, “She was right by the fence, looking outsi–.”

There was no little black (with a little white) cat by the fence looking out.

My wife started looking around the outside of the house. After a while, she came back in, carrying Sylvie.

“Where was she?” I asked.

“She was over by the truck.” My wife had parked her pickup truck in the driveway by the garage, behind the house. The truck was outside the fence. In the moment we had looked away to attend to our granddaughter, Sylvie had slipped out of the yard, like a little black shadow (with a little white).

On Wednesday, morning, Random Granddaughter said, “Goodbye, Mama.” Random Daughter left for work. A little later, RG said, “Goodbye, Mommy.” Random Daughter’s Out of Law Partner left for work. RG was left alone with Grandma and Grandpa, but she seemed to be dealing with the situation fine.

Until a few minutes later, RG started howling. She ran to Grandma. “Sylvie scratched me!” she sobbed.

“What did you do to Sylvie?” asked Grandma. Sylvie is a very good cat (as cats go). She never scratches RG, despite many provocations.

“Nothing!” RG said indignantly. Unfortunately, RG has started the “I didn’t do it” syndrome, even when she isn’t being accused of doing anything. The day before, Grandma helped RG put together her Curious George puzzle. When they finished, two pieces were missing. Grandma said (with no tone of accusation, just wondering), “I wonder what happened to the two puzzle pieces?”

“I didn’t lose them!” RG said.

In the case of Sylvie, RG may have stepped on her tail or touched a sensitive spot.

Mrs. Random and I have been talking about this developing trait. RG needs to learn that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, sometimes an accident is just an accident, and sometimes a mistake is just a mistake. Maybe there’s a preschool story book on this theme. I haven’t found it so far. Maybe I need to write it.

The scratch wasn’t very bad. Grandma attended to it, and after a while, RG stopped crying. She said, “I’m not going to play with Sylvie any more.”

My car needed some attention. I was going to take it to the car doctor. [I will explain in another episode.]

RG would be alone with Grandma on Wednesday.

The day before, the Mommies asked RG what she wanted to do on her day with Grandma. “I want Grandma to help me make chocolate cupcakes,” said RG.

Grandma looked dubious, but finally agreed. (I’ll explain in another episode.)

I drove off to visit the car doctor, leaving RG alone with Grandma and Sylvie.

[To be continued.]

2I The Routine

June 23, 2007

My wife said, “Most of the time she seems so sophisticated, so aware of what is going on, I forget that she’s still just a very little girl.” She was talking about Random Granddaughter’s semi-meltdown about the cleaning lady.

My daughter and her partner are both very busy people, with many demanding responsibilities. My daughter has a pressured job. Every night she studies calculus, so she can get back into graduate school (so she can add more pressure to her life).

Her partner teaches little first and second grade geniuses. It’s hard to stay one step ahead of them.

Then there’s raising and caring for Random Granddaughter, probably the equivalent of three full time jobs, all by herself. Not to mention, dealing with all of her grandparents. Two of them, at least, are a handful.

Not to mention dealing with their many other friends and relatives.

So RD and Out of Law Partner (OP) have a cleaning lady who comes in once a week.

Random Granddaughter has met the cleaning lady once or twice, but most of the time she is blissfully unaware of her, because RG is at pre-school. We knew that the cleaning lady was going to come yesterday. However, we were so busy getting RG ready to go to the playground with us that we forgot to mention this to our granddaughter.

There was a knock on the door. It was Sarah, the cleaning lady, with all her cleaning tools (vacuum cleaner, etc.) She is a very amiable lady of perhaps 50 years of age. She greeted us (Mrs. and Mr. Random, strangers to her, and Random Granddaughter, whom she had met before but quite a long time ago) in a friendly, pleasant manner.

I went off in search of my shoes (the Mommies’ house is a “take your shoes off inside house” abode) while Grandma resumed the task of getting barrettes into RG’s long blond hair.

When I came back a few minutes later, RG had a look on her face of considerable distress. It was obvious she was about to start crying. Mrs. Random whispered urgently in my ear, “Hurry up and get ready, so we can get out of here and head for the playground. RG is very upset.”

Once we were out of the house, she explained that RG was very upset about the arrival of the cleaning lady. There was nothing bad or threatening about the cleaning lady. She wasn’t going to do anything to disrupt RG’s life. RG was just not expecting her, and she had shown up unexpectedly.

I think this episode illustrates a reaction that is often true for most of us. We like to know in advance what is going to happen to us, to give us the illusion of being in control of our world and our lives. We often complain that things are too routine and stuck in a rut, but as soon as something out of the ordinary appears, instead of greeting it with enthusiasm and delight, as a break from the routine, we feel threatened and insecure, even if the new arrival is perfectly innocent and unthreatening.

As many young children realize, Random Granddaughter came to the conclusion, I am in the hands of insane people who are much larger than I am and who operate by an incomprehensible secret code.

Much of this insane behavior revolves around food. Any sensible person can see that one can live for long periods of time on wholesome foods such as berries, watermelon, and chocolate chip cookies, despite the nonsense parents and grandparents spout about vitamins and balanced diets.

As a two-year-old, RG tried to crack the code. “But I really want to,” she said plaintively when an adult refused a perfectly reasonable request.

It didn’t work. She realized that she would have to dig deeper into the mysterious theory and practice of controlling adults. I am paying attention to this because Mrs. Random and I are babysitting RG for two days this week at the little house in the middle-sized city.

Random Daughter was giving us some tips on what to expect. Grandma B (her partner’s mother) recently babysat RG.

“When Grandma B asked RG what she wanted for lunch, RG replied, ‘You decide.’”

I listened in astonishment. This did not sound like RG at all.

My daughter went on, “She has realized that when she asks for something, she is often told it is not ‘good for her,’ or not ‘part of a balanced diet.’ Now she says, ‘You decide,’ and hopes it will be something she likes. For example, Grandma B said, ‘How about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? As RG likes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, she figured she might be on to something in her quest to control adult behavior.”

However, as a scientist, she realizes that she must collect many data points, I thought. Sadly, she will frequently be disappointed as she keeps trying this method.

“The other thing she tries,” my daughter continued, “Is to mumble when she tells you what she wants to eat. She hopes that you will misunderstand her, but in a way that works out for her benefit.”

I can see that her development and maturation is proceeding rapidly. Many adults are known to mumble when asking a boss for a raise or a significant other for an unusual erotic variation.

However, RG will soon realize that any oppressed group seldom achieves progress without group action. By the time RG is four, I expect she will join forces with her best friend Mia (who shows a burgeoning talent for ordering people around) and organize a SWAT team of preschoolers to descend on her house to demand from Mommies they grant RG the right to eat the diet she considers appropriate.

If I were a skilled fiction writer, I would jazz up my story of our trip with Random Granddaughter to the lake with an exciting plot line.

The real life trip was pleasant, but not very exciting. After Random Granddaughter had thrown many pebbles into the lagoon, we went to the main part of the lake.

Random Granddaughter has no fear of heights. As she plans to be a firefighter, high height confidence will be an advantage. However, in the meantime, as she climbed some rocks on the banks of the lake, she scared Mommies and grandparents.

It’s not as if she is not acquainted with the principles of gravity. RG frequently runs at high speed and falls down, often leading to tears. Although, during our walk, she ran and tumbled into the path, picked herself up, and announced, “I am not crying.”

However, she doesn’t seem concerned with standing on rocks six feet above other rocks or have much sense that a bounce would be harder than falling down on the path.

Another plot line could involve falling into the lake and having to be rescued from a great white shark.

On the other hand, sharks are becoming identified as endangered species, so it might have been a case of rescuing the shark from RG.

On yet another hand, the budding little scientist might have pointed out that sharks are seldom found in lakes.

Although the chicken grandparents avoided going on a canoe because of ominous weather, as the day progressed, the sun came out, the clouds disappeared, the wind died down, and we saw many canoes, kayaks, and other boats pass by.

Despite various disappointments and missteps, everyone seemed to have a good time.

2F Extended Family News

June 17, 2007

As I’ve mentioned, my daughter is trying to get into graduate school (after leaving grad school in another subject) to study medical statistics. They rejected her first application and suggested taking more mathematics would increase her chance of acceptance.

She has been taking calculus through distance learning. She is unhappy with her current job, so when she learned that a position was open at the University, she applied.

There was a trade-off: she has sabbatical time coming at her current job. She can use the sabbatical to take some classes not available through distance learning.

She just got a notification in regard to her job application:

I wanted to let you know that we have finished our interview process

and found someone for the position.

I appreciate you coming in to the office and enjoyed getting to know


If you don’t mind, I would like to keep your resume on file. We are a

growing office and I would like to call you if another position opens


If you have any questions or would like to talk, please feel free to


It’s a disappointment in that she was looking forward to a change. On the other hand, it puts her back to plan A, which was to take her sabbatical and increase and accelerate her chances of acceptance. Life’s like that.

As chairman, I am pleased to introduce our guest speaker, the renowned Renaissance Woman, Random Granddaughter. She will tell us about her latest scientific research and artistic endeavors.

[Thunderous applause.]

Thank you, thank you. It is a great privilege to address you again.

Let me begin by talking about basic concepts of artistic endeavor.

Some artists are product-oriented. I sometimes work in this mode. As you can see from the slide I am projecting, I painted the following water color of my canoe trip with my Mommies. In so doing, I created a product that I could give to my grandparents.

Providing grandparents with a product creates an effect I call goo-gah. Goo-gah grandparents are likely to spoil you. [Thunderous applause.]

My grandfather, who is usually as dumb as a brick, did notice that I am twice as large as my Mommies in the picture. He observed, “It is only an unfortunate accident of nature that preschoolers are smaller than adults. If there were any justice in the world, preschoolers would be as big as adults are now and adults would be as small as preschoolers are now.” [Thunderous applause.]

Occasionally, Grandpa does get a clue, though it’s not often.

However, many artists are process oriented. For example, one of Mama’s favorite artists is named Andrew Goldsworthy.

As you can now see projected on the wall is a web page about Mr. Goldsworthy. He makes artistic creations out of natural objects.

His artistic creations exist for only a brief time and should be enjoyed for the moment.

This is known as an artistic convention. By limiting your materials you sometimes create greater effects.

In my early stage, I worked in watercolor in water. I swirled a brush with water color in water. The colors swirled and changed, as I am demonstrating before you on my lectern. Each color lasted for a moment and then was replaced by another. It was purely to be enjoyed for the eph…ephe…ephemer…ephemeral moment. There, I knew I could say it.

Recently, I began my pebble period. My current convention involves throwing pebbles in water and watching the splashes. Also, Grandma, who is more practical than Grandpa, showed me how to make a pebble skip. I can throw pebbles for hours. I achieve a deeply meditative state as I watch how they splash. [Thunderous applause.]

As a sensible preschooler, I have been combining my artistic work with pebbles with my scientific research in pebble throwing.. For example, I have been studying duck nutrition. I can now offer with great certainty the scientific principle: Ducks do not eat pebbles.

[Thunderous applause.]

Also, I have been studying ballistics to determine how close I can throw a pebble to a duck without actually striking the duck. My conclusion is: very close. Please note, when you embark on scientific research, it is important to use precise measurements.

In addition, I have been studying, psychology. My research has been on the topic, how close can I throw a pebble near a duck without provoking my Mommies into a meldown? My conclusion is: Very close but not as close as I can get without actually hitting the duck. [Thunderous applause.]

Also, I have discovered that this activity produces better results if one varies one’s pebble tosses, sometimes getting closer to the ducks and then farther from the ducks. My Mama is studying something called calculus. I doubt that calculus serves any useful purpose, but pre-schoolers can engage in calculation to determine how much they can get away with. [Thunderous applause.]


June 14, 2007

We’re taking a couple of vacation days away from computers and gardens. More RG when we get back and I get a chance.

2D Stone Soup for Ducks

June 12, 2007

As we walked along the path by the lake, we saw some ducks in a lagoon. As we began to approach the ducks, we also saw a great blue heron standing in the water of the lagoon, looking down into the water, probably thinking about spearing some fish with its great beak-colored beak.

As we approached the ducks, the ducks approached us, quacking for handouts. Although most people do not find beggars with signs at the freeway off ramps, asking for handouts, all that cute, many people find ducks quacking for handouts at the side of a lagoon very cute, and throw them stale white bread, though looking at the ground around the lagoon, I thought the white bread doesn’t seem to cause a constipation problem for the ducks, as it sometimes does for people.

Though just the other day, I saw a BMW stop at an off ramp, and the driver of the BMW hand a homeless person a dollar out her car window, so if ducks aren’t available, I guess you do what you have to do to entertain yourself or satisfy your urge to feel benevolent. And really, placing quacking ducks by the side of freeway off ramps probably wouldn’t work out that well, as the average driver probably doesn’t have some stale white bread handy to throw out the window.

Mrs. Random was fascinated with the great blue heron. Usually herons fly away when people get close, but this heron was evidently habituated to people and remained standing as we approached. This disappointed Mrs. Random, who told a story about seeing a couple of herons try to take off, describing what difficulty they had in getting airborne. Bad Mrs. Random wanted the see this heron take off, but Mrs. Random has a lot of self-control and a respect for the proprieties, so she did not wave her hands in a forceful manner or yell, “Boo!” to stimulate the heron into taking off.

Eventually, the heron did take off, perhaps stimulated by the force of Mrs. Random’s thoughts alone, which are quite forceful all by themselves.

RG, on the other hand, wanted to feed the ducks, and began to reach into her bag of rice crackers, evidently with that purpose in mind. Mommy (Random Daughter’s Out of Law Partner) told her that rice crackers are not duck food. (I am not sure why this is so, as ducks consider an amazing variety of comestibles as duck food, but I generally do not contradict Mommies in front of Random Granddaughter, so I held my peace.)

RG, however, decided that the ducks would consider pebbles as duck food, and began to throw pebbles into the water near the ducks. The ducks were interested for a second or two as pebbles hit the water, but then quickly decided that pebbles fell outside even their catholic definition of things to eat. In fact, the ducks seemed not amused. In fact, as birds go, ducks generally have two expressions: I am hungry and I am not amused. In fact, they often have the two expressions at the same time. Ducks may be bi-expressioned birds.

Mommy suggested to RG that she not throw her pebbles at the ducks.

“Why?” asked RG.

“You might scare the ducks,” Mommy answered.

The thrown pebbles veered away from the ducks for a minute or two, and then approached them again. I noticed that RG was discovering a game that she will probably play frequently as a teenager: How close can I get to provoking my parents into rage without actually going over the line?

Several times during the next few minutes, the pebbles would get closer to the ducks; Mommy would remonstrate with RG, the pebbles would increase their distance, and then a few minutes later would approach the ducks again. RG was obviously practicing calibration of her parent-provoking skills.

We then saw two large turtles sitting on a log. “Why are they sitting on the log?” RG asked.

“They are warming themselves in the sun,” Mommy answered.

“Why?” RG asked.

“Because they are cold-blooded animals. The water is too cold, and they would get cold if they went in the water.”

RG was silent. I’m not sure the silence meant she was processing the information or meant you have told me more than I want to know about turtle thermodynamics.

We were getting a bit cold ourselves, so we moved on.

[to be continued]