We survived yet another harrowing journey into California's bastion of conservatism known as Southern California, San Diego to be semi-exact, Scripps Ranch to be overly exact. Temperatures ranged up to 105 F going down and coming up. I recall rolling down all the windows at a rest stop and saying "Here's what 105 degrees feels like kids, check it out." Weather like that seems to wilt everyone, and to make some angry. I saw a homeless guy hanging out under the sparse shade of some tiny tree in Oceanside, mountain bike parked nearby, looking about ready to kill the next suit in a luxury SUV that gave him an awkward eye. The kids took it well and the sunset coming home, viewed from the west side of the Altamont pass, near all the windmills, was spectaclar and very red.
Later last night, back at our shack, the full moon shone with unreal lustre and temperatures remained in the seventies. I contemplated what a full moon hike would have been like as I unpacked the luxury SUV. Just then, little Gumbo says, "But, don't you want to go for a walk?" The little freak must have read my mind, or maybe we just think alike, but I couldn't say that I didn't. We had a nice little hike that included a lovely stare down session with a sizable buck that quivered and whose eyes and nose glistened in the brilliant moonshine. Sure feels nice to have a moon-loving son like Gumbo.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Sometimes when the sun goes down and make all those fabolous colors in the sky I want it to linger longer, so I hop on my mega-bike and ride towards the setting sun. At cruising speed I match Earth's rotation so that the time remains just after sundown and full of colors. Once in awhile I race ahead to catch a glimpse of the actual sunset, other times lagging behind so that the first planets start to twinkle. Other mega-bikers play road games, risk their lives and the lives of others for anonymous sunset stunt glory. Feels good just to ride, to breathe high velocity air. Twas ever thus.
"Don't need cars because we learned to fly." --from Stevie Wonder's Saturn
Thanks to Bryn for doctoring that photo.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
The kids look so pleasant when they appear non-combative. In actuality they will try your patience, hurt each other, and hurt you if they catch you sleeping, with the wing of a small metal passenger jet, in your eye. "Daddy, wake up, and make me something to eat."
The other day he asked his mother "Is that Bob Dylan?". He'd asked me that before too, but while Lucinda Williams played, whereas this time he got it right. Important things for a four-year old to know, and after all, he did get guitar lessons at the far end of the yard on a windy day from Mr. James Hendrix himself, so it only makes sense.
The boy feels those extra senses real good sometimes. Back in June, after we got back from launching the rockets in Nevada, we all went hiking near the Little Farm in Berkeley's Tilden Park. We walked down a narrow tunnel of trees and shrubs towards Jewel Lake. The stroller couldn't make a section, and just as we were about to turn back he ran down the trail as fast he could. I abandoned Sissy, the wife and her pops, and chased Gumbo all the way to Jewel Lake. When we got there he ran all the way around to the far side of the lake. I finally apprehended him playing near the feet of a man sitting on a lakeside bench reading to his two young daughters, intently reading, near a stand of cattails. I warned him not to disturb the trio, and away we went. I read in the paper the next day that shortly thereafter the reading man got back in his car with his two daughters, rounded up his wife from wherever she was, drove down the road to Mineral Springs picnic area, and shot them all and himself dead. His name was Maurice, I think. I got all kinds of goosebumps, just because Gumbo seemed so drawn to the man. That imaginary boundary between life and death fascinates so many of us.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
"I saw myself driving through Nevada in a stolen red convertible with a rocket launcher in the trunk, occasionally stopping to take out a billboard." --excerpt from Indecision by Benjamin Kunkel
Shot off high powered rockets in the high desert of Nevada back in June. Amazing tools those rockets, fun too. The kids were amazed. I got to hang out with old friends and my cool father-in-law, rode bikes & ATVs, watched shooting stars, and kept waiting for the Burning Man crowd to show up. We saw some folks playing with a fire cannon way across the playa late one night, but I resisted the urge to ride out into the vast dehydration chamber alone in the middle of the night. Gumbo made a little friend named Chelsea that he would go looking for each morning upon waking, as would she, too darling. High winds prevented a good percentage of the launches, but I got mine in the air twice with a little help from Seth and Josh. No jets fell from the sky, so I guess the FAA permit thing worked out. Somehow I imagined that the rockets would stay visible for most if not all of their trips. The first one I saw launch proceeded to dissapear completely in less than 2 seconds, just gone, impressive.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
The better half and I stepped out for a flick at the local theatre the other night, saw The Simpsons Movie (what else?), and afterwards I noticed a Lord of the Rings pinball game in their arcade. I then proceeded to pinball wizard out to the max, racking up free games, hitting all the bells & whistles, including the Balrog. That's when I realized that all my time spent with the lovely Addams' Family machine seen above developed my special pinball reflexes, extra-sensory perception, and tele-kinesis to point of uncanny refinement. I have the repairman's phone number programmed into my phone. The other day I scored 64,000,000 points but have yet to win a free game on that haunted old computer, that would take 100,000,000. It's a killer game. Pinball rules forever.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The dogs have opened my soul, released the inner hellhounds, taught me to throw my whole weight against the fence so that one eye can clearly be seen through the gap in the boards created my unrestrained assault, freaking out pedestrians and testing my enclosure. When road undulations cause the vehicle I'm driving to rock front to back I become a racing Rottweiler. My tongue hangs out and commences to dripping, my eyes get that wild, far-away look, a red filter gets applied to all I see. As I race along I throw my head down and to the left, so as to sniff the width of the road as I raise my head, sensing the fears, history, and treats of the vehicles that passed before me, low-frequency dog noises issuing forth from my frothy maw, synchronized with twitchy zaps of dog adrenaline making my hind legs reach almost past my shoulders. Then I ease up just a bit and howl at the most available celestial object.
Gumbo woke me up from my passed out state on the sofa last Monday morning about 12:20 AM, just in time to check out the Perseid meteor shower. Howl, twitch, froth, yelp, mark my territory, time for sleep.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Someone got the boy a set of scented pens, similar to the scented pens I had at about the same age (4). Of course, he loves them. I remember my introduction to such pens. It happened hanging out at a neighbor's house in Petaluma one afternoon. Amazement and delight were in no short supply. Soon after, a second-hand set found it's way into my possession. I kept those delicious markers until only the licorice one had any scent at all left, and they left only the vaguest of marks on paper. I truly loved them. You can see the pen marks under his nose. The boy took the photo of Sissy watching me about to sniff the pen with no assistance. I was impressed with how he framed it, he shoots like a natural. Those pens bring back memories, crispy, well-preserved snapshots of life at 1020 B Street in Petaluma, in my dark little room at the front of the old red Victorian with white trim, thin oriental rug kicking up dust at the drop of, well, anything.
Killed the Tour de Max Sunday, all 7,000 feet of it. Felt good. Stunning scenery. Six hours in the saddle, 12 mph average speed, 38 mph max speed, blooming grueling. Hope to do it again next year, faster.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Becoming the flower feels best. I used to just look at them, real close, maybe rub my face against them, smell them. Then, one fantastical summer day a thousand miles of desolate roads ago, I came across a new way of viewing the flowers. Become the flowers, so the colors shine out from you. Your body may try to contort in funny ways, as the spiders and insects crawl all over you, but the breezes feel wonderful, and the dawn light opens you up.