Greetings friends, followers, and new-founds! The dial here in our little corner of the universe have been set to auto-fun for the last week, and I’m just now having a moment to “come up for air” and tell you all about it!
Last weekend, my parents came over from Alabama for their first visit to Santa Cruz. And what a weird, wild, wonderful family-amalgam that made! We spent the week with them sharing some of our favorite things here, and letting all of our elders co-mingle in various sets. In addition to the more intimate and the more mundane moments — dinners with Juju and Bonnie, and over at Grammy and Rupert’s, or relaxing together in the mornings, and snuggling up on the couch after kid-bedtime to watch the pilot episode of Sherlock — we had a slew of scheduled “events” on our Natalie-crafted calendar-map. Here’s what it looked like:
Monday, Great Gramma Alice came over as usual, and we all went out to lunch together on the wharf. We ate in a long-standing, well known restaurant, there, called Stagnaro Bros., in which Alice worked over 40 years ago. Grandpa George got the lobster bib… Some of the locals were hanging out at the wharf, too. These guys were snoozing in a lazy floating pile off the end of the pier. Neither Natalie nor Great Gramma Alice (nor I in my 10 years of coming here) had ever noticed them do that before.Their cohorts were leaping up onto the scaffolding under our feet for some barky socializing and drier forms of snuggling. Later that day we headed to Henry Cowell State Park for some silent socializing of our own… with those reticent, local giants — the redwoods. We wandered and chatted and stopped at all the points of interest on the self-led interpretive trail. Nana read all the important info at each stop. I made jokes… In case you didn’t know — redwoods can get BIG. Some of them are over 300 feet tall and 16 feet across. Some of them are so big, that in a forest fire, the inside of the tree can be burned out, leaving a one-room-cabin-sized cave within the still living tree. And their seeds are the size of a small flake of oatmeal. Of course, while they can easily grow from seed given the right conditions, they more commonly sprout “daughter” trees around the base of and from the same roots system as the “mother” tree. Echo decided to give this ancient slice of history some much needed kisses. In the shot below, she’s kissing somewhere around 1100 AD. In the week before my parents arrived, we’d started a new fun art-quilt project coloring the backs of a few hundred old business cards that Juju had given us. Nana and Grandpa George joined right in and spent a number of hours during the course of our week together drawing and coloring. I can’t think of a single better image of family bliss and relaxation… Speaking of better images… We went (back) to the Monterey Bay Aquarium!
We found Dory…and Nemo…
and an Echo fish, too! Nana and Grandpa were so sweet and patient as Echo checked out every single display and hovered longer over particular ones to absorb more information. It was pretty interesting, as well, to see how Echo approached “going deeper” in her second (recent) aquarium exploration. Whereas the last time we went, she was more “startled”, I think, by the visual explosion of colors and shapes and bizarre animals; this time she had mental space for tons more intellectual input about the various species we viewed. The sardines were packed in like sardines… The jellies danced… even upside down…and all around!In the jellies exhibit, there is (among so many other things…) a fun experiential station in which one may draw their own jellyfish and then “set it free” in the virtual open ocean visible on-screen above the drawing tables. Grandpa George discovered that there was an option to have the drawing emailed to us, so here’s a link to one that Echo created: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/draw-a-jelly?jelly=E1395173978265
We got to see the Penguin-feeding again, which is always a fishy and informative treat! You can “Where’s Waldo?” me in the picture below if you want…
We also got to see the feeding in the Kelp Forest, which includes this live discussion with the diver who sounded a bit like Darth Vader. Notice how popular he is with the fishes! There are so many strange and amazing things in the MBA. Some of them defy the imagination — some of them defy all belief! These guys below are an example of what some species look like in “black light”…
After the aquarium, we went out to dinner at a harbor restaurant called Sea Harvest. Great food and service, but the greeting committee was the best by far! These guys (all 100 of them…) were camped out along this dock, from end to end, completely blocking access to the boat peeking out of the bottom left corner of the frame, weighing down the entire floating structure by several feet, napping in a great contiguous heap, and occasionally chortling loudly.The inter-loafers notwithstanding, we had plenty of fresh fish to go around. We even felt super-savvy because the aquarium had just provided us with the most up-to-date information on which fish are currently the safest and most sustainable to eat: http://www.seafoodwatch.org/cr/seafoodwatch/web/sfw_iPhone.aspx.
On Thursday, we drove to “the city”. That’s what Santa Cruzians call San Francisco… We went to visit Grandpa’s cousin, Carol, and her husband, Frank. They own Blow Up Lab, which does amazing murals and giant prints for galleries, exhibitions, and events of all kinds. We got to see their shop and work, ate a delicious lunch downtown, and then went up to their house in the Berkeley Hills. We chilled out on the deck overlooking the canyon behind and the city below… we picked Meyer Lemons from their loaded tree…marveled at their fabulous house… and enjoyed a delicious dinner together as the sun set over San Fran. Friday we rested. We hung around, drank homemade lemonade, ate left-overs, relaxed, got Nana and Grandpa ready to fly out that night on the red-eye, and…did a few more last minute drawings for the art-quilt.
It was more fun than a barrel of sea-monkeys! And though I wished it to go on and on, and though we filled every moment of each day with as much good stuff as we could stuff into it, it was over almost as fast as it began. So with many a potent hug, and many a plan for “next year”, we bid farewell and sent them off into the midnight sky and back to their warm home on the other side of the country.
What a coup! What an outstanding success! What a wonderful gift to both us and our parents to get to share this time and space together with each other. I feel so lucky. And so envious of this version of myself! He’s got it made in the shade! Now if I could just get him to pay my way for a “full membership” to his kind of life…
Here’s hoping you’re all finding your way(s) to your own sweet spot(s) as well. It’s amazing how many of them there can be when we’re on the lookout, ready, and willing for them to show up!
P.S. I just want to give thanks and credit where it is due to Grandpa George for 90% of these photos! And Instagram deserves a little bump for its delicious photo filtering and editing capabilities on a couple of the images as well. Thanks y’all!