Vassar Reflections

On Sunday, Russell will receive his diploma from Vassar College.  I’m sure every parent of a graduating college student says this — but it is hard to believe that it has been four years since we first drove to the Vassar campus and, on an excruciatingly hot day, moved Russell and all of his stuff into a cramped room on one of the upper floors of Main, the oldest building on campus.

Whenever a child picks a college and then starts school, the parent holds his breath.  Will it be what he expected?  Will he make friends?  Will he get a good education?  Most importantly, will he be happy?  Or, will you get the dreaded middle-of-the-night phone call from the weeping child who says they hate the school and just want to come home?

By all of these standards, I think Vassar has been a good choice for our son.  Russell has been happy there.  He seems to have received a solid liberal arts education that has challenged him intellectually.  He has enjoyed the arts curriculum at Vassar.  His range and, I think, his confidence as an artist has grown.  He has made many good friends who hail from every corner of the country.  He learned how to play rugby and traveled with the team to Ireland.  He received an award that allowed him to spend a memorable, sweaty summer traveling throughout Vietnam and creating art in the midst of the Vietnamese people.  He participated in a number of art shows and got to organize the Vassar contribution to the Masters on Main Street exhibit.

And, when he receives his sheepskin on Sunday, he will have completed his schooling in four years and be ready to move out into the world.  It is hard to believe that that day has come so soon — but it will be an occasion worth celebrating.

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Bird In The House

We’ve seen evidence that a bird is building a nest in the decorative basket hanging from the top of our front door.  We know this because, on occasion, a bird flutters away when you open the door, and lately we’ve seen evidence of nest makings in the basket.

Today when I opened the door for the morning walk, the bird — a sparrow, from the looks of it — flew into the house instead of away from it.  So, we opened all the windows and doors, got brooms, and chased the bird around, trying to get it to fly out.  It didn’t.  No offense to the intelligence of birds, but the concepts of inside and outside, and windows and doors, apparently are alien to them.  The bird flew from room to room, keeping to the ceiling and light fixtures, until we finally trapped it in the laundry room.  We opened the window, closed the door, and hoped the bird would fly out.

It didn’t.  And we couldn’t simply leave the bird in the room for the day.  So, drawing on my hunter-gatherer instincts, I got a blanket, went into the laundry room, and tried to get the bird to fly out the window.  The tiny bird and I both dreaded this encounter.  After some minutes of cajoling and tossing the blanket as the bird fluttered wildly, the poor creature was exhausted and ended up on the floor, breast heaving.  I snared it in the blanket, gently tossed it out the window, closed the window, and then felt like beating my chest to celebrate my successful trapping exercise.

Nothing like a bird in the house to get your adrenalin pumping first thing in the morning!