Volcan Rincòn Parque Nacìonal (Costa Rica)

Volcan Rincon (or one of the other 4 craters!) serenely poses as a backdrop to the Rincon de la Vieja Mountain Lodge

This past February, we spent two days in the vicinity of Volcan Rincon de la Vieja National Park in Costa Rica.  Highly recommended.  An interesting, educational, somewhat nearby interlude from what would have been a ‘strictly’ beachside sojourn. Costa Rica … Continue reading

Puddle-Jumper Airlines

dash! board

COASTA to Welcome WREEKA !  When I arranged a family trip to Costa Rica almost a year ago, I made the assumption that there was just one International airport in the country — the capitol, San Jose. With the 20-20 … Continue reading

CoastaWreeka: beach bulbaroony

looking at Flamingo from Playa Conchal

I don’t, and won’t claim to be an expert on vida-de-la-playa, especialmente en Costa Rica, but heck, I spent more time barefoot with the sand between my toes last month than … oh, for at least the past five years, … Continue reading

CoastaWreeka: Nublados en Paraìso

t shan darksand

Nublados en Paraìso Pobre Rosco.  Los buitres o busardos miren el todo el tiempo. Voy intentar a decir un relato, un relato-adentro-un-relato. Sì, tuve algun divertido en nuestro viaje extranjero.  Pero, no estuvo la verdad por todo la familia.  Betty … Continue reading

Hoodooze awn Playa Conchal, CoastaWreeka

IMG_0871

I don’t get to the beach often.  When I’m to sojourn in the vicinity, I try to run barefoot along the ocean’s edge every other day.  I am somewhat near-sighted, but still try to run without the specs when I … Continue reading

CoastaWreekuh! (an intro)

Walking back onto the beach, Playa Conchal (C.R.)

We spent most of Feb-you-wary (2014) just north of the eek!weightor.  This was the furthest south on our planet I have ever been (9 – 10 deg. N) Following is a “kwykkee” sketsch.  Trust you, mee, more (and not necessarily … Continue reading

TRIALS & TRIBULATIONS OF FELINE ARBOREAL EXTRACTION

(okay, I don’t have any pixures of a cat in a tree.  this’ll hafta do)

cattawnroof

It is not every morning when walking through my neighborhood I am approached by a neighbor in a threatening manner, gun in hand.

Granted, it was just before sunrise, and I was acting suspiciously on his property.  Actually, it was both Betty and I at the base of a tall cottonwood tree, trying to figure out how to talk our cat into climbing down.

I let Wall-dough outside five days before (Thursday) as I left for work.  I figured since it was light out, this minimized the likelihood of nocturnal predator encounters.  Though for small domestic animals in our area, the threat of becoming lunch is never miniscule.

this hawk who has taken to hangin’ out atop a tree next to our house is large enough to haul off a small cat …

  hawk

Waldo would invariably scamper to the house front door when I arrived home later in the day, glad to be let back inside.

Not so on Thursday.  I was worried as soon as I stopped the car, and he was not immediately running to the house.  I called for him and walked around the property.  Darn.  “Coyote lunch” was (in my mind) fairly likely.  Darn ‘yotes were mostly nocturnal, but I had seen one on my property at 8:30 a.m. a few weeks prior.  And it didn’t matter what time of day it was further out in the desert, I would encounter them often enough that it wasn’t unusual.

I walked around at night, head-lamp shining, calling as I patrolled our property.  He could be stuck somewhere, and I paused to listen after each calling of “kitty kitty kitty.”  A couple times I thought I heard a response toward the north part of the property, but found nothing.

kit in window behind rail

(our liddul kitten …)   :(

The initial sharp sadness of loss slowly subsided into the ocean of dull ache I feel towards and about things in general.

Tuesday morning I was bustling, or rather, bumbling around the house through my pre-work chores and rituals.  I was aware of the bright flare of Venus above where the sun would rise later, and that the waning moon-crescent had been approaching ever closer the past few days.  I went out on the balcony to attempt some photographs.

  moon venus

I was fairly sure I heard a faint “Meaoow, meow, meow … ” down and north of our house.  As fast as possible, I pulled on a coat and slippers and went outside to investigate.  It could be Walldough, but if not, there was a precedent.  Years before I found two small kittens on the canal-road — one was hiding in a tree.  The tree-kitty became mine, exclusively, a revered dignified presence in our house for a few years.  The other is still my daughter’s cat.

So, it was kind of precognitive, that I might encounter another cat/kitten to fill the void of our recent departure — or instead, possibly we’d find our lost kitty.

I shuffled down the hill and across some patches of ice and snow and the canal to the property on the other side.  Yes, I could clearly hear a cat calling … and after a couple minutes located the source up in a big cottonwood tree.  Could I talk or cajole the thing down out of its lofty perch?

My beautiful picture

“The Tree” is the right-most one of the two in the middle

Two people with arms wrapped around the trunk probably wouldn’t have touched the other’s fingers.  The trunk shot upright for about 25 feet before the first branches.  I could discern the cat up above the branch.  The residents of this property resided in two houses about 50 yards away and I thought that perhaps they weren’t home.  This was a relieving thought — that I could attempt whatever retrieval without bothering them.  Besides, though whoever it was had lived there for years, I had never met them.  (I was on friendly terms with the original occupant, who had passed away almost ten years ago).

I saw where a few ‘orchard’ ladders were stored nearby, and positioned one up the trunk.  I climbed more than halfway up, hoping that the plaintively-meowing presumably very-hungry-thirsty-cold creature would make some effort to meet me half-way.  Not to happen.  By this time it was beginning to get light enough so that I could tell that it certainly seemed to be a gray cat, about the right size, to be ours.  After a few minutes of “here kitty kitty kitty” balancing on the ladder, I went back to the house.  I would tell Betty about this, and if we couldn’t get the cat soon, then she would know where it was as we conjured up plan B.  Besides, I really should get to work sometime today.

She accompanied me back down across the ditch to the base of the tree.  As we were alternating cajoling (“come down! kitty-kitty-kitty”), hoping that it would come back down, as, after all, it had (presumably) gotten up there on it’s own accord, and discussing what other method of retrieval might work, we heard a slam of a door and some shouting from the nearest house.

  da gunn

(this is my little ol’ 0.22.  Our angry new acquaintance had a 0.38, or bigger)

A stocky grey-haired bare-chested fellow was striding rapidly our way, his right hand brandishing a big pistol.  “What the hell are you doing on my property?!” and though we tried to explain we were trying to retrieve our lost cat from his tree — he single-mindedly proclaimed that “why didn’t you ask permission first” to be there.

A few more sentences and exchanges.  Betty takes a dim view of encounters like this and began walking away to go home.  I realized I should leave the property, walk around it and come to the front door of his house to “officially” knock on the door and ask permission.

A few minutes later, having detoured around to the driveway and back to the other side of the house from the cat-tree, I knocked on the door.  The fellow opened the door, sans-gun (I took that to be a good sign) — and I apologized for bothering him and trespassing.  We introduced ourselves, I can now call him “Jim” and strangely enough, he already knew my name.  His invalid wife (who I have yet to see or (re)encounter) had worked with me about 20 years before at a prior job!  Jim mentioned that when he came back to his house, still fuming, his wife asked if “those people” were from the house up the hill.  Somehow she knew I lived there, a former work-mate.  Hmmm.

Before I could mention that I would like to continue attempts at cat-retrieval, Jim had come up with a plan.  He would fire up his front-end bucket-loader

  800px-Wheel-loader02[1]

and I would be in the bucket as he lifted it up, and then I would climb up a ladder from there.  I did my darned-est not to have my eyeballs roll out of their sockets … had he ever done this before?  And nobody died?  Again, picture a front-end bucket-loader, the bucket up as high as it can, with a person climbing a ladder from the bucket.  He said that we’d do this “as soon as it warmed up.”

I went back to the house to tell Betty of the latest developments.  I also called my boss to inform him I’d be late to work.  Things must have warmed up enough within minutes, as I heard Jim’s front-end bucket-loader engine running, and he was positioning it at the base of the tree.

Fortunately there are no pictures of me standing unsteadily in the semi-circular cold steel bucket, trying to position a ladder further up the tree.  I looked down and wondered how injured I could easily become.  People at OSHA dream about stuff like this.  Climbing more than half way up the ladder, I was still about five feet from being able to reach the darned cat.  Sometimes it would run further up the tree, and sometimes briefly look as if it was considering starting to climb down.

Not to happen.  I’ll spare the details, but after

many minutes of trying, Jim declared that the cat would come down on it’s own, especially if we left the ladder and a long piece of wood balanced in the bucket;      and two young friends of Betty’s who could have climbed up but Jim was scared of insurance issues should something happen;      and I finally left for work …

Betty called the local fire department.

There must be something about a pleading woman’s voice on the phone on a slow work day.  The captain decided it was time for the department to have “a training exercise” — while emphasizing that she “should tell nobody that we did this.”

She called me just after noon to say that Walldough was safely back home, skinnier and very hungry.  It was a little embarrassing to see not one but three F.D. vehicles show up — the paramedics have to periodically attend training exercises — and the deed was done.

the cat

Big Man In the Locker Room

“Big Man in The Locker Room” — kinda like BMOC.  Actually, this is more like a mid-sized man in the locker room.  MsMITLR, then.

If one lives, or, if not exactly “lives”, just abides or tolerates the ravages of aging and gravity and the slings of all the misfortune that time and the environment hurls at you long enough, unexpected stuff can happen.

I never, yes, never, thought (in the proverbial thousand years) that in a sports locker room I would start telling a story, and everyone (yes, everyone) would pay attention and listen.

It only took 50+ years to get to this point.

Seriously!

It helps if you have the stories, and you get up and gesticulate and pace back and forth to physically illustrate your point, and know when to keep it short enough to not lose your audience.

And believe you me, there are stories aplenty, and undoubtedly there is no end in sight.  As long as I continue to show up to play.

I was in what we now call “middle school” when I started spending appreciable time in sports or gym-class locker rooms. This experience continued into high school, and for short intervals of time thereafter. I was almost always part of the Mouseketeer Club, or Sheriff Scotty’s posse, you know, the audience, that the Last Comics Standing, or the Big Men In The Locker Room, were pontificating to.  And, like almost everyone immersed in the boy’s locker-room sub-culture, I got really proficient at snapping towells.

Again, I’m more like the medium, and not big, man.  You know, the sort of person that the real BMITLRs can sometimes sit back and allow to hold court, briefly.

After a three-and-a-half year closure, our local ice arena opened back up a couple months ago.  This MMITLR thing will probably be a short-lived phenomenon, and may be at or near its end already.  The corps (core?) ((corpse?  hopefully, not!)) of my last team is back together, but with less than half of our previous assemblage, fleshed out with new-comers, there usually isn’t enough of an established group familiarity, yet, for a good continual locker-room banter.  So, I’ll just step right in and …

A good story (if YOU haven’t heard it more than once, or twice) which I can still tell with enthusiasm is how my son met his girlfriend.  I tell it twice.

tom & shannon between games in a tournament

Sonny boy (Tom) was married, sort of happily or so he imagined and after just one year the wife tells him she doesn’t love him and never had.  Of course he was crushed!  And after that, he was not exactly trying to find someone else.  But he did …

“How did your son meet his new girl-friend?” someone may ask.

“Oh — they were at a social gathering, got into a disagreement, started fighting, he gave her a bloody nose, they’ve been together ever since.”  Yes, it might sound like we’ve raised a woman-beating monster.  That is very, quite, really far from the truth.

Same story, a bit more descriptive:  he was behind the opponent’s net battling for the puck with another player.  Someone comes up behind him, starts pushing, jabbing, poking … Tom decides to give whoever behind him he can’t see  a message.  He punches backward with his right elbow, catching the guy in the chest, who falls back.   Two periods later, he is again behind the other goal and trying to get the puck from an opponent.  Again, he feels someone come up from behind and poke and jab and then he sees a stick coming around his skate.  He thinks:  “I thought I taught you a lesson last time.”  (He assumes it’s the same person).  He lets his elbow fly as hard as he can, and … catches HER in the nose.  Tom turns around and sees this tall beautiful blond lying on the ice in a pool of blood.  He feels like, you know, really really crummy and not-so-macho.  He bends over to grab her hand and help her up.

“Take you out to dinner?”

“All right” she says.  They’ve been together ever since.  And — she is the better player and has probably more than evened the un-intended beating score.  The new girlfriend:  it’s like a happy co-worker of mine says — Tom (and, separately, co-worker) is (are) doing so much better this time around!

My awesome hockey ability

In describing my awesome ability I’ll re-hash how a former team summarized it.  Towards the end of our Arena’s previous incarnation, we were in the locker room.  The team captain pointed out a player in the corner and stated what he was good at, and a couple things he wasn’t quite so good at.  He looked at the next player and noted that he was the fastest skater, and quick enough to scoot from the other goal back to ours to help defend.  The next player had the most accurate shot.  He paused when he got to me.

“Uh, he’s enthusiastic.  Tries hard. ”  “Team player,” added another.  “Goes all out.”

“But … slow reaction time.”  “Hardly any hand-eye coordination,” noted the captain.  “Just plain slow,” chimed in someone else.  A player who’d been sitting quietly concluded: “hardly any real athletic ability whatsoever.”

Aspirations to improve to mediocrity

That was then.  Now, I maintain that I aspire to mediocrity — a couple levels of ability UP from where I normally operate.  Every once in a while I pull off a somewhat productive shift, and even more rarely, have a 15-minute span of time in the goal where less than a couple of pucks go in.

And … a couple games ago I stopped three  (or four? I can’t remember) pucks with my head!  A team-mate joked that that was by design.  Yeah … right.  And the game after, the play seemed to be entrenched at the other end, so I took off the gloves and put the stick on top of the goal so I could get a drink of water.  A quick break ensued and I quickly tried to pull the gloves on — and didn’t have time to get the stick before the first shot came my way.  Who’d a thunkkit?  I stopped two, three shots with my feet and hands.  “You do better without that stick” another team-mate quipped.

Marv Daley and the Team Dynamic

After the first year of the initial incarnation of our local ice venue, I was assigned to a team named the Kegerators.  A mostly-established team, I was one of “the new kids.”  After about a year, and three or so seasons, whatever passes for the team dynamic was pretty well ingrained.  I could count on certain people to be invariably friendly.  You can banter and talk with these guys and immerse yourself into the team herd mentality.  And then there was one of two lawyers on the team, Marvin Daley.

Kegerators(Yes, I adulterated the jersey when they let me go to ‘free agency’)

Marv was by far the team #1 anal-orifice.  Rude to almost all opponents, cheap talk, egging them on, and being a better player than most didn’t help.  (He could have played in the league up from the Novice and held his own.  Well, if he could keep his mouth shut.)  Sometimes he might ask me a question, or I’d start to talk to him and usually by the second sentence he’d walk away.  I could COUNT on this behavior.  Part of the team dynamic.  If “dynamic” ain’t applicable, well, team … vibe.

In later 2008 I was scheduled to undergo prostate cancer surgery.  I would be out for several weeks, and I thought the team captain should know.  I figured I should tell someone, in the event anyone counted on me or perhaps there was a game coming up where half the team couldn’t make it.  “Brian,” I concluded, “don’t tell anyone.”

After the next game I left the locker room to go home.  In the corridor, Marv appreared, stopped me, hand on my chest.  I stepped back to the wall.  “Are you okay?” he asked, intently peering into my eyes.   I had to look down for eye contact, as Marv is a prime example of the Napoleon syndrome.  Well, he’s just a few inches shorter than I.

Shit” I thought.  “He knows.”

We talked a bit and as I continued out to the car I felt like my perception of the team-dynamic was altered.  Things were a bit … uncertain.  Marv thereafter was, if not “nice,” treated me slightly better than he did most the team.  He’d listen to me when I answered his questions, and we had actual conversations sometimes.  The shift and new uncertainty as to what was what and who was who and how people would act was no longer the same.  I could no longer COUNT on him to be the team asshole, as far as I was concerned.  Five-plus years later, though on different teams, we are still on friendly terms.  I told “my Marv Daley story” to my present team, while they were unanimously complaining about him a few games ago.

Different leagues, different assignments (“7, 57″)

Now, later 2013 and early 2014, the arena has been (re) opened three months now and leagues are underway.  I play “out” in the regular league, as the level of play is consistently NOT “novice.”  However, there is an unofficial league where I do play goalie.

A new fellow showed up to be the other goalie a couple weeks back.  He hadn’t played in five years and I was impressed by how well he did.  He may have had a handfull (or less) goals scored on him, whereas I let that number into the net every ten minutes or so.

We talked during a break in the game.  “I’ve been playing since age seven,” Tanner said.  “When did you start?”

“Fifty-seven,” I answered.  He gave me look which conveyed the look one gives when they think they are being, uh, bull-shitted to.  I don’t think he believed anything I said the rest of the night.  Oh well …

Mismatched gloves

gluvz

When I started to play “out” (not goalie) I had accumulated a lot of equipment from charitable? and/or generous other players.  I already had (1) a helmet!, and (2) shin guards and (3) shoulder pads from Bombers team-mates.  A college player gave me his old (4) breezers (better than the ones I had!).  So, I had to purchase GLOVES, among a few other things.

I bought (I’m not entirely sure!) a pair of CCMs.  It was, I think, the second game later that when I got home and emptied the equipment bag I noticed the unique pair, above.  It has been six or so years, and I thought I would have encountered the player with a similar pair of gloves, but so far haven’t.

Todd enthuses

enthuse

During my second (of two) seasons as playing goalie for a league team, I had had just two wins during the regular season (hey! I had a couple “ties”!) and each time had taken a Vicodin before the game.  We were in the double-elimination playoffs against another back-against-the-wall team.  One team would go home and the other would live to fight another day.

Entering the locker room, Todd asks if I had taken a Vicodin.

“Todd”, I confess.  “I was leaving the house to drive away, and realized I had not had a Vicodin.  I was too lazy to go back downstairs, so instead took an aspirin and ibuprofin, chased by a shot of whiskey.”

“ALLLL RIGHT!” Todd enthused, smacking me a high five.

We won that game in an over-time penalty shoot-out.

and Other Records

I am not exactly proud of the fact that in my short and mediocre career, there were two times I played goalie against my “real” team.  And I was the winning goalie each time.

And, as recently as LAST NIGHT, even though most the players were of decidedly above “novice” caliber, heck, we all had a bunch of fun.  As usual.  Though I allowed more goals than saves for the first half of the game, towards the end there was more than one mass frenzied whackaroonie where I ‘saved’ many goals by simply being a target.  The shots reflected off of me, but of course I had to act like I intended to be in the puck’s way.  It seemed most the players out on the ice were borderline-obsequiously nice to the senior citizen goalie and would exult “great save!”  “You’re on fire!”

On fire?  I don’t think anyone has ever said THAT to me, complimentarily, that is.  (There were some campfire mishaps many years ago … oh, never mind.)

Even though it was a “no beer” night for me, I had a great, nay, better than great, time.

Sibling Positives

all_kz (ceptrob)

SIBLING POSITIVES

PAUL:

paul_karen_ned

I’ve known Paul for most of his life — in spite of my impending Alzheimer’s. Maybe it IS because of the Alzheimer’s. Anyhow, I remember a new-born baby ‘fresh’ from the hospital. Must have been 1956.

He was still in high school when he drove from Basalt to have Thanksgiving with Betty and I in Gunnison in 1973 or ’74. He’s much better with directions now, but when he got to Montrose, instead of taking U.S. 50 he continued south on Highway 550. I think he made it at least half-way to Durango in a blizzard before he turned around. Dinner was late that night.

He accompanied us to Mexico to join the parents for Christmas 1974. A long road trip, continual chatter, singing “she’s a pretty little hamster goes to the beach and likes to drink water” (a song about Betty). We took a break from the parents and the house and opted for a camping night out along the beach to the north. I don’t think any of us will ever forget the cowboys with their guns … (it turned out alright).  & I won’t, right-off-hand, mention something else which, heh, influenced the situation …

guisenkitchen

Of the few 14-ers (about 10?) I’ve summited, he was a companion climber for more than anyone else.  Grays, Uncompahgre, and Antero. Grays was a quick day-trip when we lived in Ft. Collins. He’s become a much more accomplished mountaineer than I, but I was worried when his choice of footwear for the mountain was tennis shoes. In the snow. We camped during Uncompahgre and Antero. Well, I had access to a nearby cabin for Antero. That was snowy too.

We did a successful climb of the northwest ‘Teta’ near San Carlos, Mexico. That entailed going up a cave or chimney near the top. Creaking old lumbering buzzards flew away as we emerged, annoyed that they had to move.

(a)palling

And those seemingly annual (probably more often) wine- bread- and cheese-fueled rock-climbing races, which he always won. I would be in good shape today if I could do half the climbs we did in one day at Vedauwoo.

Wine? — and pinochle. Seems many a night in our mutual college daze, and possibly earlier than, but definitely later than, we’d play cut-throat (3 way) pinochle, usually with a gallon or so of, usually, red wine. We’d play ’til 2 in the morning, or ’til whenever the wine ran out. Does 1500 points sound like a lot? And then …

J_F_C_P

Later, with bo-Berda, we’d play 4-way, usually NOT ’til 2 a.m. nor fueled by that much wine. My infamous and deservedly-almost-forgotten ‘pinochle dinosaur’ series of cartoons emerged during score-keeping of several of such events.

Being seven years younger, I didn’t really ‘hang out’ nor associate with him much until he was in his later teens. Betty and I moved to Ft. Collins for me to (finally) finish my collegiate studies in 1975, and Paul came up a year later. He moved in with us, of course. It was expected and convenient for all. I remember him building a bed frame in a small interior room, so large that that piece of furniture could never the leave that room unless broken apart. Another time, under the influence of our favorite illegal substance, the three of us had a jam session with ‘dime store’ instruments (a plastic melodica, a slide-whistle, kazoos, etc.) that I will always remember. The muse can manifest and exert influence regardless of the type of medium…

joe_connies_kidz

We were relatively serious students, but also had quite the social life. Hardly a weekend went by without a borbathlon, Joe’s Annual Picnic, three-way softball games, midnight nude high jumping, running (?) for student government, more esoteric attempts at musical jam sessions, tossing experimental frozen squash with a detour to terrify some friends from Nigeria, more drinking, and more drinking. Driving the physics department liquid helium truck to Laramie and Boulder. Stopping to climb more rocks in Virginia Dale. Oh yeah, during our joint-sojourn (don’t ask how he “signed up”) campaigning (for lack of a better werd) for student government, he announced that his platform was biodegradable. This was YEARS before thinking green was politically correct.

Our paths crossed often on the CSU campus. I probably should have just gone to sit in an occasional class he was taking. But — he must have been really bored or wanted a quiet place at a specific time of day to read the paper, and occasionally he’d wander in and sit next to me during my Psychology class lectures. What stands out is when there was an exam, he’d grab a copy of the test and answer/guess as best he could.

It was minutes before an important test, maybe the mid-term, and everyone was frantically cramming and brushing-up and doing last-minute memorization. He calmly surveyed this quiet but desperate scene and asked aloud: “What is this test about?”

Several heads swiveled to stare in disbelief. I calmly provided a one- or two-sentence answer as to what specific area of psychology we were to display our mastery of. It might have been “abnormal tendencies” or “aberrant behavior.”

At the next class the professor asked “Who is Ben Zazen? He isn’t on the roster for this class.” I went to look at the posted scores and was pleasantly surprised to see that Ben Z had scored in the mid-60′s — close to a D-. Pretty good for not taking the class.

Photographically he might still but definitely used to know his stuff. I remember a close up of a steaming freshly-deposited pile of doggy doo-doo. The pavement had to have been laid within the hour — so the steaminess was almost mystical. That photo might still win awards, not to mention serving as an occasionally appropriate screen-saver.

I was at my daughter’s high school graduation, and the so-called telephoto on my camera made her one-half-inch high instead of the speck she was at that distance. Paul took some shots which made it seem she was twenty yards away. As I typed this, a photo he took of our pet toad in Ft. Collins peers over my shoulder.

He asked me to play ‘the wedding march’ when they got married at the Colorado National Monument, summer 1982. It was my second (and last) wedding — to play at, that is.

When we moved into our house, he assisted a bunch. He sat on the stairs with some tools and took apart the heavy metal stair lift (a sort of elevator for wheelchairs) and we hauled it outside. I helped them move a few months later.

sideways_appalling

The most enjoyable/memorable part, for me, of the 2004 Peters reunion was going canoeing with him on Lake San Cristobal.

This isn’t ‘positive’ but we (with Chris) put my parents more through the (w)ringer than they had already wrrung themselves into before my sister’s wedding. That was summer, 1972.

Mom and Dad had only one daughter, and were presiding over the first wedding of any of their kids.  Being their only daughter, there was (as customs and society and tradition dictated) more impetus to put on ‘a good show’ than if the circumstance involved a son.  I think we all can identify with that.  But what they must have sensed, in the proverbial “deep down inside,” was how futile clinging rigidly to that idea ultimately was.  My brothers and I were not exactly adherents to concepts such as “tradition’ nor “polite expected behavior” — heck, we were all in the phase of our lives where we didn’t even call what we were doing, day-to-day, as winging it.  Yee-haw!

So … picture us pulling up at the restaurant where we were to meet the rest of the family.   Mom and dad were inside at the wedding-day breakfast for (a) important wedding-day personnel, (b) anyone who happened to show up then.  There was a big mirror-like window inside from which they could see us clearly. We got out of Chris’ car, long hair blowing in the breeze, a veritable avalanche of beer cans bouncing out along with us …
This too isn’t positive, but it was a hoot. When he and the ‘rents were living in Aspen in 1969 or so, he invited me to go and ride bikes. This was probably after the “bicycle ticket” event mentioned in the “Chris” section, following. I followed him, not knowing what to expect, only that something weird was up. Sure enough, after weaving and sprinting down a few blocks, a police officer in his car gave chase. I would have stopped and “given it up” but Paul took off like a rabbit. I followed. He’d tantalize the cop for maybe half a block, then dart across a yard, jump a fence (he’d get off and haul the bike over) and down an alley. After a brief series of windsprints and steeplechasing yards and fences and other obstacles we’d lose our pursuer. Only to have Paul start weaving and … soon to have either the same or another police officer give chase.

Aspen must have just inaugurated a “get tough” on bike-riding at night without lights, not in the right lane, not stopping at stop signs, policy. Again, see the “Chris” section.

Best drummer in the family — good enough to play with professional groups.  Also the only one in the family to brew his own beer, used to make wine (I don’t know if he still does this), and can identify the various grasses in your lawn.  Also, another thing I will never be able to do which he does well is to back up a truck with a trailer attached.  And back during our mutual college daze, the “d” werd was aided and abetted by his almost-weekly batch of brownies containing an at-the-time illegal substance (but legal in our state now).   Baking would occur Friday nights — we’d wake up and study the next morning with tea and brownies … until the textbooks and notes would start swimming and then we’d all (Betty too) go out to do whatever …

CHRIS:

sombrerochris
Professionally, work wise, I think Chris is the most accomplished. His professional architect registration nowadays takes an aspirant five years of college, then slaving away for someone(s) who will vouch for you, then you have to pass the test. And, presumably, an architect has to maintain a modicum of engineering, mathematical, and technical proficiency.

cris_cindy_23

Well, Francie (professionally) is somewhat of a saint, as she has ‘fought in the trenches’ (public school teacher) during her professional life.

If Chris was reduced to living in a van down by the river, he could still get by as a musician. Though Paul is ‘polished’ and adept enough to probably play many or most styles of drumming, Chris has a knack with things with strings.

We were, allegedly, the first people ever given traffic violation tickets by the City of Aspen for erratic and illegal (and also under the influence) bicycle riding. I think this was in 1969. He looked at the ticket, handed to us by the chief of police himself, grinned ear-to-ear, saying “Thanks!”

Chris and I attempted the south, or east ‘Teta’ in San Carlos. The last pitch was sheer rock, so we sat and played harmonicas just below the summit.

chris_izzy

Speakin’ of harmonicas — Chris used to try to include me in most the musical undertakings he was part of. I miss playing live music, but Chris gave me several more outlets and experiences than I otherwise would have had.

Chris would visit when I was a “starving artist” in Boulder. He was part of the ever-changing incarnation-of-the-week Cliff Athey’s Frank-Zappa-wanna-be band at Tulagi’s night club once. He played the fiddle.

My beautiful picture

When Deb and I would visit up in the Roaring Fork valley, we had a few hellacious multi-continent risk games — the most infamous with Mike Danelli — who built a table-top risk board with cup-holders, ash-tray spaces, and more than a dozen continents. Wherever Conan-the-Barbarian was from — THAT continent was there, also Atlantis and Lemuria I think, etc. and etc.

sombrero_cris_gabe_iz

I believe that Chris has really, sincerely, honestly tried to steer his daughters onto a path much more straight and narrow than that which they have taken. And he’s put up fairly well with the crap the fates have dealt him, most of which is seemingly undeserved.

LA LA:

My beautiful picture

Now, some of what I’ll reminisce may seem derogatory, but it’s not. When my brothers and I were late teens/early twenties, we were not making our parents comfortable with our perceived (lack of) progress towards self-sustainability, etc. Francie was like a third parent, only that she would get on our cases mercilessly while the ‘rents usually held back, somewhat. Being in my early 20′s, I would refer to her as my “35-year-old younger sister.”

Then (I think it was the divorce) it was like her brain snapped. For many months, perhaps longer, it was embarrassing to go out in public with her. She’d throw food up in the air at restaurants and comment loudly without even a modicum of restraint about people who looked weirder than we.

francie_raving

During the transition period between a prematurely middle-aged college student to a regular college student she had a memorable, um, slip. Well, I don’t think it (the ‘slip) was intentional on her part. I was visiting / hanging out at the parent’s house in Aspen. Francie was off at a birthday party elsewhere in town. The phone rang. “Jay …” (giggle giggle) “… what’s it like to be …” (giggle) “… stoned?”

“I think you already know,” I answered.

She had eaten a piece (or two) of the birthday cake. “There are some green flecks in it. I’m leaving right now and will bring a piece home for you.” I looked forward to it. A half-hour later she completed the walk home. She had eaten most of my piece of cake, but a few crumbs remained. I scrutinized them, seeing several parsley-like green bits.

My beautiful picture

For many hours afterwards I sat in the living room, mostly astonished as she talked incessantly. Often she rolled on the floor, laughing, off the couch, hopping back up on it, then more rolling. And more laughing. I am fairly sure she hasn’t indulged in illegal substances since (or rarely) but she certainly did enjoy that one experience.

THE LURIAS:

Betty’s brothers and sisters are, after all, kind of like MY brothers and sister, being “in laws.” Basically I like all three of them, but one of them is a frequent challenge, and another has been an occasional challenge. Bill, however, I have a lot of respect for.

Betty says it’s because I don’t know him and his history that well, but from what I’ve personally seen and experienced and talked with, he has a good heart. He is sincere. He doesn’t wish ill on anyone.

Nobody is more pre-occupied with nor has seemingly dedicated her life for her kids more than Ann.

And Bill, Ann, and Alex used to rarely miss many family gatherings. Alex and Ann were in Grand Junction for either or both of my kid’s Bar/Bath Mitzvas. All three were at Rachel’s and Tom’s weddings — not an easy trip from the east coast for any of them. Much appreciated.
Alex was a lively participant in one of my family’s “Peters” reunions!

RICK:

My beautiful picture

As far as I remember, Rick has been invariably pleasant to all of us. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say anything derogatory about any family members. Not even about Francie!
Serious about cooking, and his music.  Possibly the best-est musician in the family.  Certainly knows the theory!  On the sad side, he is a poster child for what Jack Kerouac once postulated:  that we all, ultimately, choose our own form of suicide.  Rick is  smoking himself to a much shorter life-span than would -a.

burying_joe_&_connie

Bleu Whirlwind and Pacific Rim

bleuwhirlwind

Haven’t thought about it much, but our dashboard lites seem sorta neat, in perspective, or contrast, or because of, maybe in spite of, the proximity of bleu whirlwindiness. Below, in a cloistered neighborhood which “goes all out” — a pond … Continue reading