I love California. Wish I could have made it work here. Lived here for six years, three in San Francisco, three in San Diego, and of course I’ve visited many times. Finished my MSW here and worked various and sundry jobs. I was just starting too late to fully enter into ‘the good life’ in the Golden State. But I suppose if it had worked I would just be missing New Mexico and my New Mexico family. Such is life with that greener grass always just over there.
Nine days to look forward to now…doing exactly what I want…being pampered…being the family elder isn’t all bad…
THE VIEW. FROM ARRIVAL IN THE RAIN LAST NIGHT TO RIGHT NOW. The poor man’s version of time-lapse photography.
Today is about the stuff of today, ordinary days, nice things happening on ordinary days. Here are a few nice things from this month.
JESSIE GOT MARRIED
STEVE, MICHELE AND I WENT FOR A 11.5 K WALK IN THE BOSQUE–JUST TO BE SURE I’M READY FOR THE 10 K WALK AT THE DUKE CITY MARATHON.
PATRICIA, LUNA AND I WENT TO THE DOG PARK. WHERE LUNA TURNED DOWN THE PHOTO OP.
AND I’M ORGANIZING MY WORK SPACE AND MATERIALS IN PREPARATION FOR SOME SERIOUS FALL WRITING.
I am in this little Airb&b in the pretty peaceful hills of Oakland, California where, right this minute, life is at its most excellent.
It is pure damn luck isn’t it? My friend was going to have a day just like this and it never happened…for no rhyme or reason bad things do happen. So please don’t talk nonsense about extraterrestrials or taking care of your health…just live each day the best you can and never leave home without that rabbit’s foot.
My California son, daughter-in-law and I are here for Teresa’s graduation. Yesterday at the Greek Theater on the UC Berkeley campus a whole lot of smart ambitious young people stepped up to the proverbial plate seriously believing they can make the world a better—or at least a more safely engineered, solidly constructed, environmentally promising—place to inhabit.
The commencement speaker was a refreshing and damn near inspiring change of pace from the usual platitudinous drivel. While far from a great orator he offered graduates practical, excellent and almost impossible-to-follow advice. Basically he said, “If you as engineers actually care about the crumbling infrastructure of this country, you’ll have to get elected to Congress because right now it’s full of lawyers who are educated only to argue; we must elect more engineers—who are educated to actually do, or we’ll never rebuild our country.’ He went on to say a few pointedly political things about the ever-growing ignorance of what made America previously-great, especially the things for which engineers were and are partially or wholly responsible, for example the beautiful campuses of universities like the UC system and fine roads and bridges and all of the things that make a nation work…
Never mind all that for a moment though. It was sunny and people were happy and there’s hope.
We went ‘home,’ ordered Chinese and talked meandering family talk. We are very lucky to have these perfect days in our lives.
It is cold. Not back-east or up-north cold but cold. It’s dry brown boring cold. That time in the middle; ‘the time of no paid holidays’ it’s called, between New Year’s Day and Memorial Day.
Let’s review the big events that get us through this long five months. Possible snowstorms, Downton Abbey season, Oscars, new House of Cards, my birthday, warm walking mornings arrive, San Diego visit, and finally to Memorial Day and Minnesota. Since I don’t have a Valentine and I’m not a Christian I have left Valentine’s Day and Easter off My Calendar.
My Big 2015 Trip is still expanding and contracting, with the Russian/Mongolian middle practically cast in concrete and the beginning (Norway) and ending (South Korea) still malleable.
So far I have my calendared plans, a new medium-size REI backpack and a vest I intend to wear every single day with pockets for passport, cards, and Smartphone. I have a new Costco raincoat and a gift card for travel shoes from Benders in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
My whole family is getting through February with flying colors: Robert and Marsha are not depressed because they’re in Florida and their dog is healthy. Scott and Sandra are biking and hiking and zumba-ing, young Steven is job hunting and Teresa is selecting her grad school—eliminating Virginia Tech due to its location in a rural land of ice and snow, moving on to Chicago this weekend. Steven and Michele are working working exercising exercising, Patricia is hostessing and studying in West Texas and Sara is now driving her own car to non-stop cheering activities.
Didn’t really start this post to do a family report but it’s happened. So I should have some family pics to put with it—but I don’t.
How about February in Albuquerque at North Fourth Art Center?
I live downtown near the Rio Grande. My son Steven lives a few thousand feet higher on the slopes of the Sandias. We had a low-key pleasant family dinner and visit tonight. There’s very little drama in my family anymore. Only one teen left and she’s pretty level-headed, especially considering she is so very much the cheerleader. No one has a lot of money, everyone has enough. We live in places we like and in fact we like each other. An album of the evening:
Mom always loved sheep; actually she always loved all animals but especially sheep. After she married my dad, she had Tula, her South Dakota lamb, shipped to her up in northern Minnesota. Tula was the foremother of a small herd that mom maintained until she and dad left the farm about 55 years later.
I am not a homeowner nor have I ever wanted to be one. Still, there is some nice excitement circulating throughout our rather small family because of new houses/new homes. Brother Robert and sister-in-law Marsha are completing their first week in the suburban foothills of Albuquerque and son Scott and daughter-in-law Sandra are in the same stage of habitation in their new place overlooking San Diego Harbor.
I do have a new bookcase about which I am quite thrilled but I suppose that’s not in the same category.
Last Sunday we gathered for the first family dinner in the new house. I brought a baked ham and my best-potato-salad-in-the-world (although not quite perfect this time—I’m copying my mom who always denied anything she cooked/baked turned out just right). I also found a recipe for Jell-O-poke cake at the doctor’s office which I remembered from childhood and decided to make. Don’t do that. It’s oozingly sweet and semi-disgusting—but with a lot of whipped cream it’s not impossible to eat.
Here are the first photos in the new place which will all be re-painted, re-curtained, re-cupboarded in the very near future. It’s very very green pretty much everywhere right now.
We’ve come from Canada today and are now cozily ensconced in the guest room at Oak Crest Senior Housing in Roseau, Minnesota. About three hours south of Winnipeg. My cousin Audrey lives here and her giant 80th birthday party is taking place tomorrow—a surprise for her. The fact that she’s very leery of both parties and surprises makes the suspense that much greater. I suspect once she is over the shock she will be honored and moved by having so much family around.
Tonight the three of us went over to Warroad to a most pleasant restaurant overlooking Lake of the Woods and serving perfect Walleye. My life is really chock full of good things…I am usually grateful…occasionally I forget. I think the cold is gone except for lingering laryngitis but no one seems to mind that I can’t talk.
PICTURES: Family Trees and Branches: A Photo Essay: In the last years I have come to know a whole new Norwegian family. Next week cousin Vivian and I will meet almost unknown cousins in Montana. In the meantime Teresa and I have had delightful times and visits with Minnesota family and friends. The following photos were taken at a clan gathering in Roseau, Minnesota at Cousin Audrey’s 80th birthday party. The cast of characters include Audrey’s three living children (Terri, Linda, David) and Randy’s family; more than a few grandchildren and great-grandchildren and some relatives from the Hahn (Audrey’s husband) side.
Audrey’s and my grandparents, Torgus and Asborg Neset, came to America with Sven, Ilif, and Gyro (Swan [my dad], Ike and Gertie) and two children who died very young. Elin (Helen, Audrey’s mom) was born here. They came to Minnesota like so many Norwegians before them but did not necessarily prosper in what had been touted all over Europe as the promised land. In fact none of the children did well financially but the “American Dream” eventually worked as it is supposed to with each generation doing modestly better.
My cousin Audrey and I have known each other since I was born quite a long time ago. Today was her 80th birthday party. It was a joyous and lively occasion taking up most of the day in its various celebratory stages. It all was a confirmation of what we know—family is wonderful in all its permutations and we are blessed to be part of one or more…
Once again I’m too tired to say anything profound about families or anything else so how about a couple of pictures of Clara, the Viking Princess (Audrey’s great granddaughter) whom I have been photographing for a few years now. There were many beautiful children and grandchildren at the party—Clara will represent them all.