Today at lunch time I ferried Jonathan to the Post Office so he could work on getting his passport renewed (after we had a bite to eat of course). I hung around only long enough to figure out who the check should be written to. As it turns out, it is “Department of State”. I was worried that the bureaucrats might reject it if it had been written out to “State Department” or something similarly close. Once I had written most of the check out (I left him to fill in the amount), I hopped in the car and went back to work.

Jonathan called a few minutes later. The USPS wanted their cut, which is $25. One check would not be enough. I asked Jonathan if that’s all that was left – to give them a check, and he said it was. So I drove back over there, ready to whip out the credit card. We got in line (again), but before we got to the front, the postal clerk told us that we should get in the other line in front of the passports office. That office was closed before, and there was a sign directing us to the window instead.

Unfortunately, there was a man in a wheelchair and an elderly couple in that line ahead of us. Well, I didn’t think I needed to be there, so I went to the PO’s ATM and got some cash out, which I gave to Jonathan. Once again, I drove back to the office.

About an hour later I got a call from Jonathan. No passport. Because he was under 16 when he got his previous one, they wanted to see his birth certificate again. Also, they didn’t like the photo I took, because the whiteboard we used as a background was reflecting. He thought they would probably accept that, but since he needs to get this thing back post haste, it seemed imprudent to risk it. So he forked over 15 of my hard-earned dollars and let them take his portrait.😦 I think he did the right thing. It does seem crazy to risk it when he’s cutting it so close.

Anyhow, he was on his way back to my office by then (on foot – it’s not that far).

He still has a long list of things to do, including getting an ATM card for his bank account, making his travel arrangements, and applying for more jobs.

We’re thinking he ought to get his driver’s license next week too. Can’t hurt (except for the part where we pay for his insurance).

In other news… the azaleas bloomed today. As did the Comptonia peregrina (which I think has the common name of sweet fern, even though it’s a shrub, not a fern). Ferns don’t flower since they don’t make seeds. One would think that sweet fern doesn’t flower either, unless one were to look closely. It has male flowers (catkins) and female flowers which are exceedingly inconspicuous. They look a lot like American Hazel flowers, but there aren’t! Compare:

Comptonia peregrina

Comptonia peregrina


Corylus cornuta (American Hazel), female flower

Corylus cornuta (American Hazel), female flower


Corylus cornata (American Hazel) male flowers

Corylus cornata (American Hazel) male flowers


In fact, I thought that I was looking at some American Hazel when I saw the C. peregrina today, except that it still had one of last year’s fernish leafs hanging there. Also, I remembered that the C. peregrina was pretty thick there last year. So I looked closer, and made the call.