Sunday, January 12, 2014

2004 - I Am Happy

Dixie, Greg
Austin and Emerson

Greg had put on a youth choir show about time
 and Dixie painted the 4 seasons on large sheets of canvas

page 1
Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2005

(the cartoon, stolen from a newspaper, says Star Trek:  The First Generation)


    I am happy.  It might be crazy to be happy in this time, on this planet, or so the media would have us believe. But the media seems determined to focus on the bad and scary things in the world and everywhere I go, I see good and beautiful people.  In my little corner of the world, life is running over with blessings and things to be happy about.  And I love this time of year!  I love snuggling up with a hot cup of really strong coffee, in a cool room with my computer and starting to remember friends and family.  I love thinking back over the past year and anticipating the next month when nearly every day brings a Christmas card, maybe a photo or hand written note, maybe a thick, newsy form letter, always memories of those we love and think about often, yet some we never see anymore.
     I glance out my window at the reds and greens with which our two acres always greet the Season.  The Maple and Cherry trees are turning red.  he Apples have mostly fallen but still dot the green grass which is only now returning after the fry days of summer.  The little trees planted since we moved here eight years ago are not so little anymore, and some of the big trees are dead and attracting woodpeckers and flickers.  The monstrous redwood stumps from when this place was a logging camp are mostly drifted in behind blackberry vines and they too are turning red.  The scent of wood smoke is in the air and the sounds of the boys complaining about having to stack wood once again ring through the neighborhood.  Did you know two adolescent boys can move a whole cord of wood on fifteen minutes if they are turning it into a fort, but take an hour of whining before moving one wheelbarrow if it is only for the wood stove?

page 2
     Duffy Barkley is Not a Dog, but he is the main character in a book I've actually managed to finish!  Now in the uncharted region of trying to sell it.  But money to no money, my children and I know for sure now that I'ma writer and we enjoy Duffy a lot.  So wish me luck and hide the laughter until I'm not looking, after all, lots of people buy lottery tickets and I don't know how my chances compare to them but I'm at least getting year of entertainment from the effort.
Duffy Barkley Is Not A Dog

     Greg is also following a dream, and it's a wonderful one which is unfolding rapidly and taking on a life of its own.  The Crescent City Youth Choir is in the middle of its third year.  Greg, and Amy Ross, another music teacher here, audition close to eighty kids each time, and take on about forty of them.  Then they work with these 4th - 12th grade children to produce an incredible blend of dancing, acting and singing.  Now they have the business angle to deal with since it's not a school choir, but they have an army of loyal volunteers to do everything from painting sets, to sewing costumes, to searching for business sponsors, to disciplining the kids for dragging the girls into the boys toilet or vice versa.  Emerson is hanging in there as a choir cast member in spite of the grueling schedule and his voice is maturing quite nicely.  Plus he loves to perform.  Austin decided he'd rather say "yes" to soccer, basketball, trombone, drum and horse riding lessons. He thought about quitting them until the horse ran away and threw him head first into a plywood wall.  That was "fun and now he loves it again.
     Austin is eleven and in the sixth grade.  That is as high as Pine Grove School goes, so he gets to be the big man on campus this year, which is a role he's been trying to fill his whole life.  He is a natural teacher and very gentle and encouraging of younger children.  In fact he still likes to play with toddlers and they love him.  With kids closer to his age he's also very good at helping them and he has several younger or handicapped friends.  Yet he also gets along well with his peers and adults.  He was alert and interested in other people from the day he was born and just naturally has maintained his gift of friendship.  He's also great at reading and math, so we won't mention spelling. He's artistic and loves crafts and painting as well as music and Drama. He's also about the best kid I've ever seen at mouthiness and arguing.  Everyone has the right to HIS opinion!  How I anticipate the teenage years!

page 3
     Emerson is a ten year old, fifth grade student with a new found passion for cartooning.  Hide the blank paper or there isn't any left without boxes filled with space wars and various battles.  He also loves to sing, and ride horses, and reads at an 11th grade level.  He still lives as much inside his gameboy as in the real world.  He has been chosen to participate in the Humboldt State University GATE Academy in Arcata, in January.  He'll do interesting things like explore Native American money systems and see Chinese acrobats.  He's said for the past two tears that he's going to get to M.I.T. to go to college and invent a time machine.  (When I'm making him work, then He's not going to take me along to find out what dinosaurs actually look like, even if I beg.)
Super Santa Vs. Grinch by Emerson
"Happy Christmas" "or Not" "Marry Christmass Ho Ho Ho Ho hobo"
     Most of the highlights of 2004 for our family included lots of time together.  We had our 20th anniversary in May and Greg's still my best friend. Wow!  It's incredible the things we've put up with from the other and still enjoy each others company.  The boys don't quite see that they get an unbelievable amount of time from their parents with their schedules and ours lining up so well.  They mostly notice the nights Greg has long rehearsals or staff meetings and swear they never see him.  That reminds me!  In October we actually got to do one of the things on my, "I can't die until I do this, " list. (Greg says that means I have to put something new on the list.)  Judy Collins was singing in Grants Pass, Oregon and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was  small, old movie theater with a balcony, where we saw her, and she was as lovely and talented as ever. and it was so small and personal.  We all loved it. Of course. I warned the boys ahead of time that I was only paying those prices if they loved the show. If they hated it they had to pay me back.  But Emerson has taken to putting on her C.D.s on his own now.  Now why did that remind me of her> Oh, yeah, because she started the concert with, "The Cat's in the Cradle with the Silver Spoon." and of course the boys identified and told Greg, "See Dad you should play with us more."
page 4

Santa Cruz
No idea Emerson would live there later
     Speaking of playing.  We had a fun summer, camping a bit less than we wanted but really loving our trip to Howard Prairie Lake above Ashland, Oregon and the boat rides from our friends.  We also spent long afternoons on the sand and in the river at Jedediah Smith State Park in the Redwoods.  My birthday gift was a season pass to California State Parks.
Emerson had researched this mission
Our Hernandez Friends got married here
     We left Crescent City on June 21, School went until June 17, (which is earlier that this year when it goes until June 24,)  We went to he Santa Cruz Beach boardwalk where my boys rode their first old wooden roller coaster.  They thought they were going to de, but they loved it.  Then we continued south, checking out a few of the old Spanish missions which the boys had been studying.  We met Susan, Sal and Sammy at the Mission where Susan and Sal had gotten married, Buena Ventura.  They were down visiting family.  Then we went all the way South to San Diego where Mom and Lance flew in to join us and the Michiels drove don and we all stayed at Paradise Point, a resort only 1/4 of a mile from Sea World.

Emerson, Greg, Austin, Dixie and Uncle Lance
at Disneyland in July
Paradise Point
     We did the tourist thing until it nearly killed us but you know we loved it.  In San Diego we went to Old Town, to Sea World, to Coronado Beach and had a bonfire cookout by our room.  We watched fireworks from a tower and swam many times or soaked in the hot tubs.  Then we drove to Carlsbad and spent one day in Kid Heaven, known more commonly as Legoland.  Even the adults had fun but it was so totally perfect for the kids and their friends.  I especially enjoyed seeing the mini models of New York, New Orleans, San Francisco and Washington.  The boys especially enjoyed building and racing the perfect Lego cars which, yes, they could do at home.
page 5
Aunt Dorothy and my Mom
     On June 28th we drove to Anaheim and ate dinner with my Dad's sister Dorothy.  She is a massive hit with A and E. Emerson says, "She's just like an Angel, or a Saint even." After all she loves baseball and knows how to talk to little boys [oops, excuse me.] young men.  We also got to go with her to an Angel's/Dodger's baseball game on July Third and the Angels slaughtered the Dodgers and the fireworks in the stadium were their special 4th of July display.  OOH  AAH  to the Max!  Lance was a bit scared of the height of our nosebleed section seats until they filled up around us and then he really loved the game.
     Of course we spent five days going to Disneyland and California Adventure.  Mom and Willie Mae Michiels both had their birthdays there and got some special attention from the character cast.  We saw and loved a stage production of Snow White, and really adored the "Soaring Over California" ride where you appear to be flying over the entire state in a hang glider.  Our feet hated Disneyland but the rest of us loved it.
     And that's not all.  We also saw knights jousting at Medieval Times, saw Mammoth and Giant Sloth and American Lion skeletons at the LaBrea Tar Pits, Swam at Huntington Beach where Emerson got tangled up in a Jelly fish and bore the burns for almost three months.  Then on the way home we stopped in San Francisco to do more Disney by watching the Broadway Musical Production of The Lion King.
    So now you know why we were broke the rest of the summer and eating hot dogs on the beach while we spent a month babysitting Sammy and a week babysitting Hannah. Actually we are still paying for that trip and get to stay home for Christmas.
     Then our poor neglected home has started to have temper tantrums.  The water pipe cracked and had to be dug up and replaced.  The Fridge died a slow death. For September we used it like a cooler, kept adding Ice.  The sink leaked behind the kitchen wall and that had to be cut out.  I hate money but that's OK because we never have it.  Think how nice this house could be, if I hated yo travel and actually, imagine, loved maintenance?
page 6
     Life here is pretty much like the last several years.  I'm still substitute teaching, usually about half time.  We have some very good friends and most of them have kids so we trade off overnights every now and then instead of paying for babysitters.  Greg and I consider it a rare event to see a movie that isn't made for kids, but we saw a lot of them by choice even before we had kids.  This ton has really made us feel welcome and we have an extended surrogate family here but miss being closer to our real family.  It's always a toss-up as to whether we made the right choice about whether to move or whether to stay here but it usually feels pretty good.  I sometimes wish I could move everyone I love together to a new city, or an uninhabited world but then I meet a new friend, or an old friend suddenly drives me crazy, and I know it's a good life, filled with good people and I wish everyone could have the kind of love and happiness I do.

"Get in Bed or you won't get your flamethrower"
By Austin
Coronado Beach
San Diego

Sea World



Our Motel was the Castle

Mom's Birthday
Lunch in Pirates of the Caribbean 

California Adventure

Goofy's Kitchen

Mom and Lance

The Goofy Bunch

Huntington Beach

No comments:

Post a Comment