Category: play

Balsa Wood Airplanes

Tuesday 07.26.11

I have a streak of nostalgia that runs especially deep when it comes to toys or children’s books. These balsa wood gliders, made since 1926 by Guillow’s, bring back a whole flood of emotion. Every summer my brother and I would end up with a couple of them. I remember my favorite one being the Sky Streak. The rubber band made the arc of flight longer and faster than any of the others. And the propeller added a third element into the design that made it feel not quite so bare bones. My only frustration was at how brittle the balsa wood was, and that if you were even the slightest bit impatient, there went your toy. The fact that these are still in production is good news.

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Play With Your Food

Tuesday 07.05.11

Full disclosure: when I was in college and working late at night, my default meal was either a tin of sardines, triscuits and cheese, or a bag of oreos and a can of coke. Yum. And it was more likely the latter. I only wish that I had thought to occupy myself with making cameo portraits out of the creme filling. Thankfully, Judith G. Klausner has! The whole notion of a portrait sculpted out of something as ephemeral as a cookie, is deeply satisfying, and just very very funny. Thank you Erica for sending this my way. Photos by Steve Pomeroy.

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Kongki/Gongi

Thursday 06.09.11

I posted something awhile back about Cat’s Cradle, and since then, I have been thinking about all of the other childhood games that used to preoccupy me for hours. Jacks was one of those. Tossing a single grape up in the air and catching it in my mouth was another. I once caught 63 grapes in succession…in a single sitting. My proudest moment. Anyway, in the process of looking for a video of someone playing jacks, I came across this one showing off how to play Korean jacks, or Gongi. I love the motion and the sound of the jacks being tossed up in the air and then swept off the floor.

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Tractors and More.

Monday 06.06.11

If you are looking for something fun and different to do this weekend, that doesn’t involve the subway, then might I suggest heading up to the lovely and hoppin’ little town of Callicoon…on the Delaware River. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the annual tractor parade, in which anywhere from 200 to 300, mostly vintage, tractors form a procession down the narrow main street for all to see. And cheer. The totally charming clip (to give you a sense of what you could be missing) is from an early parade and was filmed by the talented photographer, Charles Maraia, in homage to John Deere. But rest assured, there will be Fords, Farmalls, Olivers, Cases, Minneapolis Molines — you name it, they will be there — in all their shiny colorful glory! In the morning, there is a firemen’s pancake breakfast. There is a chicken barbecue after the parade which benefits the local youth center. And consider doing your shopping at the fabulous Sullivan County Farmers’ Market that runs from 11 til 2 right behind Main Street.

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Squirrels and Nuts

Friday 06.03.11

Unbeknown to my mother, I had a pet baby squirrel for awhile when I was 11. I rescued it from our cat, who was an excellent hunter, but very poor at delivering the final coup de grĂ¢ce. The squirrel would sleep in the pockets of whatever coat or sweater was hanging in my closet, and I fed it oranges and lettuce that I pilfered from the kitchen. It was only when he became a little aggressive that I realized it was time to repatriate him to the outdoors. Right now we have a family of squirrels living in a tree in our backyard, so as far as evening entertainment goes, we’ve pretty much given up watching movies or listening to music. There are three babies, one very attentive parent, and a lot of activity in and out of a tiny 2″ doorway. I don’t have a good zoom lens, so until then these guys will have to suffice. The clear plastic bobble-head squirrel, a gift from a friend, is available online at squirrelsandmore. And the lovely porcelain nuts are from the talented K. Grandey who is temporarily on leave from making ceramic nuts so that she can care for a new baby. And while we are on the subject, one of my absolute favorite story books as a kid, The Meanest Squirrel I Ever Met, written by Gene Zion, of Harry the Dirty Dog fame, is reassuringly still available in used editions on Amazon. This post is for Sue, my friend and fellow squirrel fan.

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Wood Sandwich

Tuesday 05.24.11

These charming prototypes from Studio Fludd (an Italian design collective, whom you may know from their super- cool wood faceted jewelry) are called Slow Wood. They are meant to encourage fun, healthy and perhaps creative (see dog bone) eating habits in kids. Maybe if the studio gets enough requests they will go into production.

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Cat’s Cradle

Friday 04.29.11

I used to play Cat’s Cradle ALL the time. Notice the heavy breathing in the background?

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