Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Best Kind of Tears

The kids and I had scurried around the house unobstructed by the woman of the house for almost two hours when Gumbo stopped me in the hall "I have something for you." He handed me a brown paper bag. "It's a raincoat. It's for you, from me." Sure enough, a nice yellow raincoat lay on the bottom of the bag, my size and everything. He took by surprise with that oh sooo smooth gift giving ritual. Some people work on it their whole lives and never learn to give a gift that well. I cried big macho tears, laughed, hugged the boy, and tried it on so we could have an indoor singin' in the rain session. The part that he got so well was waiting until his mother had been gone for so long, banishing the spectre of Mom contrived cuteness. Turned out that it was supposed to be a birthday present for me, and he had let the coat out of the bag ahead of schedule. Bless that wonderful boy. The other day he asked, "Can we go to see Santa Claus? At Burning Man?" And one recent evening, shortly after my return home from work he chimed "Dad?"

"Yes Gumbo."

"I like you." The kid charms like climbing a rope of sand I ain't kiddin'.

The daughter doesn't do so bad herself. Last night she chilled in my lap for a good several minutes while I chatted with my mom, then, when Jerry came up on shuffle play strumming the first few notes of To Lay Me Down I started rocking side to side and singing along. As the emotion of the song started to carry me away I watched her eyes droop and close as she journeyed down the 700 dreamsteps. Once again gratitude started slapping me in the head like a giant cayenne coated sunfish, causing tears of joy to run screaming love down my face. I thought, wow, twice in one day, and recalled that the first time in my life that I cried tears of joy and gratitude was less than one year ago. I calculated the odds of twice in one day. A google to one, that's how the odds add up, so I carved another miracle notch in my psyche, and put that wee lady in her crib. I should be so lucky, soooooo lucky.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Berkeley Mardi Gras

And a happy race still lives in the vast
forests of California, whose hearts
are not withered by pale care, whose limbs
harsh disease does not waste: the woods
feed them, the hollow cliffs shelter them,
the watered valley refreshes them, death’s
dark day looms over them unseen. Oh,
wise nature’s realms are defenceless
against our sinful daring! Their shores and caves
and peaceful woods lie open to our un-abating
fury: those violated races learn
misery’s invasion, unprecedented
greed: and happiness, fleeing, naked,
is pursued, into the western deeps.

--excerpt from Leopardi's Hymn To The Patriarchs (VIII)
(Or: The Beginnings Of The Human Race)

We held our first Berkeley Mardi Gras parade in 1991, according to my holy memory. The evolution never ceases to amaze. There's always a fresh crop of young people associated with various activist groups, and this year the oak tree sitters have added quite a bit. Of course, it's not just Fat Tuesday that's involved; we've been having king cake parties every weekend since Three Kings' Day (January 6th). The theme this year is Commuting the Death Sentence of Global Warming, hence the cooling tower in progress that you see here. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. We'll meet at dawn, and with any luck will keep dancing until midnight rings.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Boy Gets Front Teeth Smashed In

It all started out as a happy Valentine's Day pre-school party. Each parent was to bring a vegetable for a special soup, card sharing, all the good stuff. Unfortunately, moments before Ms. Me arrived, our beautiful boy tussled with another 3-year old and ended up with his teeth shoved into a table so hard it jammed them up into his head. The dentist says that he will lose at least one and quite probably both front teeth. Apparently he had an toy airplane that the other boy wanted. Gumbo shoved the boy away, and then when he turned away the kid shoved him from behind so that his teeth were plunged into the edge of the table. It being Valentine's Day and all, the kid tried to make it all better with my boy, but with all the blood and cut lip it was pretty hopeless. Gumbo's upper lip continues to protrude so far that it almost touches his nose, and the doctor says it'll probably get worse and abscess up. Seeing my son in pain each evening is difficult for me, and makes me more sympathetic with all those other parents that have sick or injured children. He co-operated fully with the dentist, even allowing a cleaning of all his teeth, surprising us quite a bit.

On a positive Valentine's Day note, I brought home a fancy french meal in a stack of cute boxes, and the family all loved it, even though the boy has to eat everything from the side of his mouth now. Who could ask for more than a happy spouse on February 14th?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Cat Appreciation

When you pet a cat, assuming that you get to pet a cat at least once in a while, do you burst out lauging in pure delight? Darling 9-month old Gumba does, once again evincing her strong proclivity for educating humanity about the profound joy of ubiquitous simple pleasures. I thought to myself, "Why don't I laugh with joy when I touch the soft fur?". The novelty done wore off I suppose, but by mind melding with my daughter, the novelty done wore back on, and life tastes that much sweeter.

The two chillunz and I went for a neighborhood walk yesterday afternoon, in the rain. On the way back down the hill a group of 18 wild turkeys passed us headed up the hill. The tom came and stood gaurd by us to make sure that we didn't make any moves towards his massive family. He crept up to within 4-5 feet of us, while I communicated to Gumbo in a calm and assertive manner that he must not approach the turkey because it might attack us out of concern for his family. The turkey did not of course attack us, but did puff up his feathers to reveal plumage to rival a peacock, which suited us fine. Closer to our house we spied the first perfect pink cherry plum blossoms, whispering promises of a spring overflowing with good loving. As if the previous two attractions weren't cool enough, we also got to check out two turkey vultures perched on a streetlight further down the hill.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Clean & Dry

Such a nice feeling when your child is clean & dry. Little darling has reached 9-months of age and now occupies her time with mirroring her parents verbosity, and attempting to locomote. Rolling to & fro and pushing herself backwards with her hands is about as far it's gone so far, if you don't count her ability to steer her carriers as if they wore bits and bridles. Last Saturday I took her and brother Gumbo to both the bike shop and the burrito store by myself, then took the rest of the day to celebrate the success of the voyage.

The celebration consisted of Quintan, Laurent and me riding from Orinda BART to Pinehurst & Skyline and back. Some serious micro-climate travesing involved there, and I was the only cyclist on the road stupid enough to leave the house in short sleeves. Those shady redwood glades along the lower sections of Pinehurst felt so icy my arms ached and stung. Nice and warm back in Moraga though, felt like we'd ridden 500 miles south.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Hubba Hubba Mt. Tam, Will You Be Mine?

They say you can't feel the world spinning, but I believe one can. In recent days I grip the ground with ferocity in accordance with the velocities of this speed demon planet, not only the rotational velocites, but the speed with which we circle the sun. Feel it in ears and gut, which send holy hell of gripping power to fingers and toes. The quality of the brilliant lights that line the insides of eyelids shift with the wobbles too, loving that precession like spinning bicycle tires and their riders. Spin, fly, grip, open eyes, close eyes, let out howl to break tension, grit teeth, smell for items burning due to friction, smile, smile bigger, laugh, grimace like a devil, roll around on the ground with a rythmic motion, make earth angels in a gravel driveway, corkscrew repeatedly while swimming at the local lake under the loving gaze of a full moon, call the loons to you. Oh yeah, you can feel it fly cold as the winter sun through icy numb space.

Time for another voyage into the mythical heart of the mountain. Each voyage could be our last, so please remain surroundings aware.