Saturday, June 23, 2012

From Father's Day to Lonestar

I have some catching up to do.  There are times when it feels like there's nothing new in my world and the days run together in their routine monotony.  There's really nothing monotonous about life, as each sunrise brings something new and beautiful to my life.  They just aren't always something to write about.

For Father's Day, we headed to Novato to visit with my parents and honor Dad.  I am so blessed to have such warm, intelligent, funny and generous parents.  We had a great visit with them and family, and left midday to carpool home - me and my three daughters.  I felt like I wanted to show them my old high school, and asked if they felt up to taking a walk through campus.  They were all game.  We found our way to the parking lot, discussing whether we should take staff parking during the summer on a Sunday or not.  It's funny how that seems like such a huge no-no, even if the school is closed for the day.

We got out of the car and started walking into the school campus.  As we walked past a brightly painted mural with hornets all over it (the school mascot), I said to Mandi, "Watch out!  Hornets!"  She reacted immediately, as she's allergic to bee stings, and then playfully smacked me on the arm when she saw the joke.  We wandered through the corridors, past classrooms that I spent time in with favorite teachers.  Their "ghosts" were there - whether they're still living or not - and it was a strange sense of coming home.  We headed to what used to be the "smoking pit."  The kids are still skeptical when I tell them that students were allowed to smoke on campus in this specific area.  The area has been cleared, no benches or anything at all left in the center of what really looks like a pit now.  There was a yard duty stationed nearby, not to check IDs, even though most were under the legal age to be able to purchase cigarettes, but to make sure nothing caught fire, or left the area still lit, and to prevent the smoking of "wacky tobaccy."

We wandered in a circular fashion around the campus, passing the area where most of my classes were - business courses such as shorthand, accounting, typing, taught by two of my favorite teachers, now deceased.  We peeked into the open lockers, some painted, some covered in contact paper or graffiti, others containing rotting food.  The kids were surprised that we had a pool, and envious.  I told them about first period PE and how cold it was to have to take swimming your sophomore year.  (NHS was 10-12 grades then.  What are called "middle schools" now were junior high, 7-9.)

We found our way to the front of the school where the kids wanted to take my picture at the iconic sign on the lawn.  No, I'm not sharing the results.  After that, we walked to the car.  Jessica asked if we could do donuts in the parking lot before we left.  Baaaad!  I gave a cautious yes, and halfway through the first turn asked her to stop because I was already getting dizzy!  We laughed so hard on our way out of the parking lot, as I told them about the morning I drove my siblings to school, had to stop in the line into the parking lot on the inclined driveway in a stick shift Datsun pickup, and rolled it into the car behind me.  A teacher's car.  Oops!

Becca had some adjusting to do in her freshman year in such a different environment as high school, so she started summer school on Monday.  This will be our routine for the next five weeks.  Bette and I were able to get the cucumbers into the ground finally.  They are doing well.  Next we need to finish the prep and get the rest of the seedlings in the ground, along with the corn and peanuts.  It will be interesting to see if peanuts work in this climate.

Tuesday's news to note involved small, slimy creatures.  I have a sprinkler system set up for most of the potted garden plants in the back of the house, but there are a few that need hand watering.  I headed over to the sunny part of the yard to take care of those plants in the morning and suddenly felt something cold, rubbery and wet under the center of my foot.  I immediately stepped back and scolded the banana slug that had decided it was going to travel the deck at that time.  They are more prevalent here than any other place I've lived, and I've mostly gotten used to them.  Except when I step on them.  In the evening I grabbed the watering can to take care of the plants that needed a boost after a hot summer day, and was surprised to see a tiny frog jump from the can as I tipped it to start watering.  I was grateful that it didn't land on me.

I'm still looking for a good job, and was happy to find two that I could apply for on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Becca and I decided it was time to inaugurate the barbecue for the summer.  I had taken the cover off a few weeks earlier, so it was dusty and touched by cobwebs.  I also needed to reattach the propane tank and new regulator, as we've been temporarily using those for hot water until the big propane tank is replaced.  We took all the webs off, scrubbed down the grill, and got it started up.  After making sure that it worked, we turned it off and went inside to prepare chicken and pineapple kabobs for dinner.  Becca made a delicious sweet and spicy honey barbecue sauce to use for them, and we brought everything outside to get things started again.  I noticed I'd missed a few cobwebs underneath the grill and got down to the ground to take a closer look and clear them.  Then noticed the small hornets nest attached underneath.  It appeared empty and I hoped it was abandoned, so I knocked it to the ground.  We were a little unnerved when the creature building it showed up soon thereafter, obviously confused at not finding what it had just left.  I started the grill to encourage it to go elsewhere, and it did.

The kabobs were delicious!  Afterward, Becca surprised me by making ice cream sundaes with fudge sauce, fresh garden ripe strawberries, and banana slices.  Perfect end to a fun evening with her.

Friday night we had something special planned.  We regretfully did not make it to family dinner, as Lonestar was playing at the local SonoMarin (Sonoma and Marin) Fair in Petaluma.  What I love about this fair is that all of the attractions are included in the price of admission.  Yes, it's a little more, but all concerts are available to everyone at the fairgrounds, and the rides are all free, too.  We met Amanda and Anthony and their friends at the fair, and because we got started a little later than we'd expected and the lines were long, didn't have a chance for the kids to go on the rides (I generally don't do them at county fairs).  We got some food (the egg rolls on a stick are half the size that they used to be!), wandered the shops and carnival area, and then headed to the concert pavilion to grab a beer (OMG - something with Shark in the name and it was soooo good!) just as the band started.

I normally stay back or find a seat on the bleachers, but Mandi and Anthony took us to the front of the stage, where we stood and had a blast watching a band that is still going strong at their 20th anniversary year.  Energy, humor, and a tremendous amount of talent.  Along with their standards, every now and then they'd break into a mainstream hit from an earlier era, just a few lines, which puzzled some of the youngsters and made us older folk laugh with joy.  We had a ball, listening to all of their old hits, plus some new music.  I had to sit down for a little bit, because my feet hurt.  (I've been having problems with plantar faciitis.  New gel insoles were helping with that, but I'd forgotten the new cowboy boots weren't 100% broken in yet.  Not a good choice for walking the fair.)

At the end of the show, the crowd applauded and whistled loudly, but didn't ask for an encore as enthusiastically.  It took the band coming back on stage to wake them up again.  I was really puzzled.  Was it the crowd, or have people become so accustomed to encores that they just expect them without feeling like they need to ask for one?  It felt awkward for a few moments.  The drummer started a beat and we were invited to clap along.  It felt familiar.  Then the guitarist started playing and I turned in shock and delight to Amanda.  "Ohmygoodness.  They're playing Pink Floyd!"  It took several bars and the rest of the band joining in for the crowd to recognize what was coming, and the energy shot to the stars again.  The band went through a medley of about five or six similar songs, Beatles, a little AC/DC, and ended on a KISS classic, "I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night."  I didn't expect that, which I guess made it more fun.  These guys are amazing musicians, and it was great fun for me to be able to watch their performance and skill.

Becca stayed with her sister and brother-in-law to end the evening on the carnival rides, while I hobbled to the car and home to milk goats and get everyone settled in for the night.  On the drive home, I felt the car pulled slightly to the left and though maybe I'd lost a balancing weight when I went barreling down the driveway earlier and hit a bump too hard.  Der - I wasn't thinking clearly, because a balancing weight wouldn't have caused that sensation.  I took it easy going home, did the chores, and then drove to town to meet up with Amanda and bring Becca home.  They'd had a good time on the rides and playing carnival games, and it was about 1:00 am when I picked her up.  I had a bit of trouble with bicyclists, of all things, at 1:00 in the morning on Westside.  I thought there were two cars close to each other with their high beams on, and they weren't turning them down as I approached.  I flashed mine to get them to knock down the light volume as it was really blinding me, and I slowed to a crawl.  As we passed, I noticed they were bicyclists in their reflective spandex gear and was shocked anyone would ride at that time of night.  I suppose everyone likes a midnight ride now and then, but it seemed even more unsafe on what's already a treacherous road to ride on.

We got home and settled in finally about 1:30 am.  Saturday morning, when I woke up and took the dogs out to do their thing, I saw why the car was pulling.  Um, I had a flat tire.  Not completely, but significant.  It was time to clean out the trunk anyway, and time to get new tires for the front.  I suppose I can't put it off any longer.

The next section of the 2006 road trip log will include several photos, so since this is a rather long post I'll wait to add that until next time.

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