Lydster: off to college

Western Mass.

Our daughter is finally off to college. We dropped her off at a location in western Massachusetts with her supply of almost everything she needs in her home away from home.

She is far enough away that neither she nor we are likely to just “drop in.” But she’s close enough that we could reach her in a couple of hours if necessary.

One of her primary projects over the summer was to clean her room. How bad was it before? We have no idea because we don’t go in there. However, shortly after she graduated from high school, we could not help but notice how much fuller the garbage cans became. And she was doing more loads of laundry

Empty nest?

Lots of people ask us how we feel being potential empty nesters. I don’t know. In the past two years, she’s spent a lot of time in the cave she calls her room, so there would be hours when she was home, but we wouldn’t see her.

She had been out with her friends a LOT. I attribute a lot of this to COVID, or more specifically that she wasn’t SEEING very many people during the various lockdowns and is trying to make up for the lost time.

But I also don’t think I’ll feel like an empty nester because we were older parents. We had a lot of life before she was born. We’re both retired now, though I rush to explain that my wife retired young. But I could be wrong; it would not be the 101st time.

Now what?

NOW, my wife and I have no excuse for not doing the renovation, cleaning, and other projects we need to tackle. Well, except for fatigue. Did I mention I am retired?

Still, I WILL miss her not being around, even if it’s me Instant Messaging her from the living room to her bedroom, telling her it’s time for dinner.

n.b. This was SUPPOSED to be the August 26 post!

Lydster: finally at college

Uh huh

College AheadMy daughter is finally at college. As I noted, her experience this autumn was delayed by COVID, first hers, then mine, then my wife’s. The initial protocol for her to start college was for her to wait five days from her onset. But with her parents contracting the disease at her domicile, this meant waiting an additional five days.

So instead of arriving on August 25 for a week of orientation before classes began on August 31, we were instructed to arrive on September 5, Labor Day, three days after classes had started.

Yet we were promised a call back from the college closer to our departure date. It never happened. On the morning of the fifth, we headed toward campus. While my wife drove, I called every office on the college phone menu. One choice failed to transfer properly. The only one I reached was campus security, which was not helpful to the task at hand.

We arrived at her dormitory. My daughter and I found a couple of people in an office, and I told them our tale of woe. One of them listened attentively, then told us that it was their first day on the job. But they called someone who had access to my daughter’s room key. The three employees, my daughter, and I unloaded the car.

I neglected to mention that, as of Labor Day morning, my wife was STILL testing positive for COVID, even though my daughter and I had tested negative; first, my daughter, then me on September 2.

After unloading, we went out to eat. Then we returned, and the three of us made my daughter’s bed and moved around a couple of pieces of furniture in her tiny room.

At that point, the vibe was clear. “Thank you, parents. You can now leave.” And so we did.


The following weekend at church, no fewer than a dozen people, upon hearing that our daughter was finally at college, asked, “How is she doing?” My answer was always some variation of “How do I know.”

I messaged her that first week and told her that we were there to help her if she needed us but that we didn’t want to bug her. She wrote back: “Uh huh,” which I took to mean, “Noted.”

She did call me on the Thursday of the first week at 10 p.m. I knew she was calling me because my wife’s almost always in bed by that hour. She wanted a clarification of a book footnote, which I provided. This let me know she was actually reading an assignment, which was some comfort.

Then the following week, she called her mother. They spoke for nearly an hour. So it’s all good.

Lydster: Collegium interrupit

so much for orientation

Collegium interrupit.COVIDMy Latin may be imprecise, but the household has experienced collegium interrupit. The villain of the piece is COVID.

The plan was for the family to drive from Albany, NY, to western Massachusetts and stay at a hotel on Wednesday night. Then on Thursday morning, we would go the five or ten miles to the campus to be there by 9 a.m. A coterie of students would take my daughter’s belongings to her dorm room.

There would be an orientation for her on the first few days and, separately, for her parents as well. The parents would leave the area on Friday, and the college experience would begin.


On Tuesday, my daughter spent hours sitting on our front porch hanging out with two of her best friends before they too headed for college. They finished off the pizza and ice cream.

Wednesday, my daughter loaded the car on her own. We were 15 minutes from leaving when she got a call from one of her friends saying that the friend tested positive for COVID. Then she tested herself twice, and she likewise was infected.

She was largely asymptomatic initially, with a stuffy head that could have been brought on by her cleaning her room. Soon, though, she developed chills and a fever. BTW, she has had three COVID shots, proving this latest variant is inscrutable.

The college dean wrote that my daughter should complete the quarantine process at home. “We will notify residence life, health services, and any other staff who need to know that she will be coming to campus later. They will maintain confidentiality and will only let specific individuals know so they can relay information about [the late arrival]. A staff member from health and counseling services will be in touch, and we will have someone in Residence Life make contact through email with specific instructions for move-in.”

Quarantine for three

Meanwhile, the health services at the college recommended that both my wife and I should stay home for five days as well. We will, except when we go to the urgent care place for a more precise COVID test; they don’t let you in the building until it’s time for the test. If our daughter has negative tests on Monday AND Tuesday, then we can take her to school. But if either is positive, we have to wait ANOTHER five days, by which time classes will have started.

BTW, per the instructions from the Albany County Health Department, we reported the positive findings to them.


Lydster: scrub a street of Albany?

most artistic

Most Albanians – i.e., people from Albany, NY – know, the city has been holding the Tulip Festival every May since 1949. This started during the 40+ year reign of mayor Erastus Corning. It is the city’s “signature spring event featuring annual traditions rooted in the City’s rich Dutch heritage.”

We love our tulips in Albany much as they do in Holland, MI. Washington Park is strewn with them every year, different varieties planted at staggered times to maximize the beauty regardless of the vagueries of the 518 spring.

As part of the tradition, started in the Netherlands, young women in costume would ceremonially scrub a street, a small section of State Street, prior to the celebration. It’s a bit kitschy, I know, but I would often watch it when I was working downtown.

My daughter was one of eight people from her high school’s senior class chosen for the task on Friday, May 6. It would involve getting picked up from school at 10:30, participating in a photo session at 11 at City Hall. The ceremony with the mayor is at noon, then symbolic scrubbing of the street until 12:20. Lunch at the mayor’s office, then returning to school by 1:30. We all thought this was rather cool.

But she can’t go. She has her Advanced Placement final in Economics on that very day at noon, and that is inflexible. We’re all a little disappointed that she can’t participate in this Tulip Festival activity.


At the same time, we recognize that she had accomplished quite a bit in her high school, despite the very disruptive COVID interruptions and distance learning. In that senior superlatives thing they still do, she won most artistic, which is no surprise.

I’m looking forward to the final decision on what college she will be attending. That is, I can’t wait, so I can clear out my email inbox. She applied to eight colleges and was accepted at seven. They are all in New York State or New England. Since she has to give them MONEY by May 1, this will be determined VERY soon.

Soft Spoken, But Not

Art show

Soft Spoken But Not
Soft Spoken, But Not c LPG

Here is a piece of art called Soft Spoken, But Not. It was created by my daughter, who weaved it. She showed me the process but I can’t really explain it to you.

The angle of the photo may not give you a good vantage point, but the object is a megaphone. In fact, it is a replica of one she owns. (What? You don’t own your own megaphone?) Oh, here’s another shot, by the artist.

She bought it in the summer of 2020 when she and some of her friends organized and participated in demonstrations following the death of George Floyd. Ultimately, it became about other unarmed black people who died violently at the hands of authorities.

The rallies were about a block from our house, so occasionally her mother or I would participate, but it was mostly much younger people. What was fascinating is the response of passersby. Not only were they overwhelmingly positive, but they brought items. Ice cream sandwiches and doughnuts. Quite a bit of water, including a case from Sam, the son of a late friend of mine. And one woman, a stranger, brought my daughter another megaphone.


From the Albany School District site: “Five pieces, created by four Albany High School student-artists, were chosen for display in the Art in Three Dimensions 2022 show.

“The juried exhibition, organized by the Capital Area Art Supervisors, runs Feb. 1-28 at the W.B. Haessig Art Gallery at Mohonason High School in Rotterdam.” This was cool.

In other daughter news

My daughter has been applying to college, eight of them, I believe. This involves, among other things, completing the convoluted FAFSA application for financial aid. She was accepted into four colleges and hasn’t heard from the others yet. As the above piece might suggest, she would like to combine art with some social justice and/or environmental angle. I will be extremely happy when this process is over.

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