Posts Tagged ‘activities’

Great Exhortation

20 April 2011


Dear J-

When I was eight and soon after they’d bought the store, my parents showed up at home one day with a brand-new Chevy Van (20, the 3/4-ton model with long wheelbase but not the “maxi” van rear overhang extension). According to my dad the prinary purpose (besides having a second vehicle to tote us kids around) was to support the store with deliveries of groceries from Seattle — gas was cheap enough that it was cheaper to take the ten-hour roundtrip than get a small truck of groceries over the mountains. The secondary purpose reveals just how we were: roughly lagging the times by ten years, wanting to get in on the van customization craze of the 70s, although not with the airbrushed fantasy (van-tasy?) art on the side.

My dad installed wood paneling and floors, cut a small piece of carpet to fit, and built a little bed over the wheel wells in the back — my mom sewed a cover for a piece of foam and eventually we got a permanent sofa installed in lieu of the lawn chairs we had been using, so that we had someplace to sit when in motion and another couple of places to sleep when not. And me? I was there every step of the way — holding lights where needed (all this work was done at night in the driveway) or spotting drill holes (no, a bit more to the right), cutting, prodding, and trying to stay out of the way instead of jumping on everything. There is a small window of opportunity where everything you do is endlessly fascinating to your kids and instead of shrugging them off — which would be easy — to have included their enthusiasm in your activities and I give endless credit to my parents for doing that.

Knowing this, knowing that it’s too easy to absorb yourself in your own activities and try to lock out others thinking that you’d just get it done faster on your own, you have to keep playing the long game instead. What memories do you have of working with your parents? It always made me feel like I was incredibly important, part of a larger whole unit working towards something bigger than what we could accomplish individually. As long as you remember things warmly thirty years on I’m pretty sure you did the right things along the way.



Busy Day

26 February 2011

Dear J-

Interesting times are often busy times, and we’ve had plenty of that today. Calcifer turns one hundred days old and despite everyone telling us that it isn’t a big deal we’ve had two celebrations already — one last week for my folks, this week with theVet’s. Traditionally you didn’t even give a name to the kids before a hundred days because infant mortality rates being what they were, that ended up being wasted effort. There are other traditions we got to partake in including a ridiculously large rice cake and cooking Korean short ribs — gal bi — over a barbecue. Today that ended up being in the rain to boot, but so good (gal bi cooked with charcoal is something that I eat whenever I’m so lucky) that a little damp did nothing to dampen spirits.

I’m still working out the sickness inside, so running around after kids — right after the huge meal we had another party to go to — wasn’t high on my list of fun stuff to do, but it was nice to see how the Gymboree takes care of kids: lots of activities and music. figgy jumped right in and didn’t miss much. Such is the magic of their center. At the end they all rushed into a big circle and jumped under the tent formed by a slowly falling parachute, colors shining bright under those lights, slow motion joining together in dark blurs, kids all together.


Zoo Little

26 April 2009

Dear J-

If you come up to me and told me, three years ago, not to worry about getting your money’s worth out of the Zoo pass because you’d end up there at least once a week, I’d have assumed you were crazy. It’s usually not a question of can’t or won’t; after breakfast, we’re generally at loose ends, so we end up at either the aquarium or the zoo, which we both have passes for now.

Three years ago, we wouldn’t have expected to lug a backpack to the zoo; I now spend half the time with figgy on my back. I’ve said before that the photo opportunities are turning into watching figgy interact with the exhibits — part of that is because optimal photo technique doesn’t necessarily ask for a wiggly passenger on your back, part of it is that taking the Nth picture of some fuzzy animal isn’t the most unique thing in the world. It’s part of the reason that video games are starting to lose some luster; although the individual experience may be unique, there’s only a certain amount of plot you can run through, and if you’re going to be interacting with people, it’s much nicer to be actually interacting instead of through some idealized avatar.


She’s at the point where the very effort of walking and staying vertical isn’t consuming all her attention, and so every time she goes to the zoo, there’s something unique. Last time we found an alternate route to the gorillas, detouring past the bonobos; this time, we detoured through the pond on the way over to see the baby giraffe (ten days old). If her height didn’t preclude her from viewing most of the animals, we could almost turn her loose to wander down the disused paths to discover some forgotten animal hidden in the corners of the zoo.


Dark Side

1 January 2009

Dear J-

I’m still not convinced that it’s 2009, because all the old habits of 2008 are following me around:  stumbling into great deals that I feel a need to lock up just because the deal is available, not because the deal is needed.  I keep trying to tell myself that I’m past the point of buying things, but here I am looking for excuses and reasons to perform economic stimulus.

Though it was cold this morning, we managed to hit 70 Fahrenheit (21 Celsius) by the time we left the Bay side of Coronado today; every other time we go, we usually head down to the Pacific side, where the Hotel del and ocean beaches line up as far as the eye can see, and maybe make it over to the shops.  It was nice on the sheltered bay side, with no shortage of San Diego views and a much less sharp breeze to boot.  The air was clear enough today to see both the Midway (CV-41) and Reagan (CVN-76) tied up across the bay from each other, sort of the alpha and the omega of the supercarrier, the Navy’s expression of surface warfare since 1942.  (I believe that Nimitz, CVN-68, was also there but we weren’t close enough to check the number).


We’re still finding new things to do here, seven years after making the move to San Diego.  Though we have our favorite places to do, we’ll take the occasional shortcut — aided by GPS — to try something else.  And we are always, always rewarded, not always as handsomely as today, but often enough to make it worth our while.  Seriously, though, there’s something special — different — about the attitude and pace of life on Coronado; if you’re in the area, might as well make a little side trip out across the bridge.  Now if we could just convince figgy to keep up on these marches of ours …


High School (Aren’t We Joe Cool Yet?)

5 November 2006

I’m not convinced I got the most out of high school. But at least I got out.


To be honest, things didn’t change much in high school. The hair of the student body didn’t pose the fire hazard that it used to, but we stayed in the groups that we’d split into as junior high people. I don’t condemn it because it just happens and seems as natural as plate tectonics: huge masses rushing towards each other and one would inevitably grind the other down, but not without rumbling and trembling. It’s not always a wasteland, though; sometimes you find genuinely honest and wonderful people, like some of my neighboring locker-owners. We all had to deal with the peculiar quirks of the school, such as how it was designed for southern California weather (and hence was a series of disconnected buildings) while experiencing a snow-belt reality. I still like almost all of the people who graduated with me, but it was difficult to reach across the group borders afterwards; I have yet to contact probably 90% of my graduating class with something stronger than a rumor.