Had hoped against hope to get home by noon-ish, but work intervened and then had to pick up the incidentals: ice for cooler, toys to occupy grandson and beer (that needful thing that I'm always a day or so of being out of – feel like going to store and buying a metric ton if'n I could only store it! Would be, literally, 99 bottles of beer, though not on the wall.)
Could feel my blood pressure race against the clock: packing, shopping, hustling to get the details right at work and at home.
It was good to see my old boss last night. He's looking hale and hearty and he seems pleased that I've stayed in touch. Students are crazy about him (he's a professor now) and I don't wonder why.
We ate at Cimino's or something like that, a pizza joint. Rick, God love him, spent $17,000 to upgrade his laundry room. You can't make it up. Has beautiful granite counter on which to fold laundry. Wow. He's eccentric as the day is long. Also he's tempted to pay his psychic $250 to “cleanse his aura”. The psychic now lives in California and does his “readings” on Rick by phone (nice work if you can get it - psychics having the original virtual home office). Apparently Rick's aura is naturally blue but is currently brown and one needs to get them cleansed every six months, according the Mr. Psychic. Oy.
Rick continues his winning ways. Won $2500 on a slot machine, I think in Cincy (he's been to it thrice now). Unreal. Also went to Atlantic City with comped flight and comped room. Gambling seems to be less a hobby for him than a source of income, a part-time job.
WWWWWWhhheeeeewww! Sometimes extra punctuation makes sense. A rollicking roil of a day, a long (lloooooonnng) 13.5 hour chariot ride beginning at 5:15 am (after spending an hour trying to mount the four bikes on the bike rack, an enterprise dauntingly time-consuming - followed by a fallow securing of the cargo load above the Honda Pilot, fallow because we found out shortly that the height of the SUV with the cargo was too tall for our garage door. So we had to painstakingly dismantle the 220 latches, take down the cargo carrier, and reassemble it in the rain just beyond the garage door. Kind of a false start to put it mildly but then I wasn't the one who felt the need to get to our destination before 8pm.)
But I shouldn't complain; my driving load was scandalously easy. On my drive time I listened to the best interviewer of our generation, C-Span's Brian Lamb. On my wife's drive time I slept, ate, slept and slept. And more than occasionally occupied Sam.
The huge difference this year on the drive was, of course, that we had our 3-year old grandson. He was surreally good given the length of drive and was even better when he was sleeping, ha. Seriously he was amazing. He had to pee far less than Steph! I feel a special kinship with Sam since he has fears, and I have fears. Different ones, but still....
The first thing we did when we got to the condo was take Sam to the ocean, a reward for his perseverance, and he had me hold him as the waves smashed into him. It was neat to be able to show Sam's parents, Aaron & Julie, such a fun part of our existence, our “home away from home” for a week a year going on 20 years now, or maybe 20 for me and 13 for Steph.
And now I drink a beer on the balcony and dream in words....
The blowing fronds
of palms bedecked
the sea gulls fly
|Unintentional hilarity: this hat tells you where the bottle opener is. If you're too drunk to ascertain that without instructions, then you're too drunk!|
79 degrees and humid at 8:30 in the morning -- salve to my summer-starved soul. It's odd that I had to travel seven hundred miles to find warm weather. When the wind blew I actually felt almost cold at the Irishfest in Dublin on Friday. I always thought global warming ("climate change" Mark C. corrected) would be different, merely a rise in temperature, but in practice it seems to work itself out in extremes - either too much rain or too little, too much heat or too little, and too many freakish, tree limb-breaking storms.
We've created a monster of sorts - Sam so thrilled with us yesterday that he wanted to wake us up this morning. I like his enthusiasm. (Steph says, "he loves us because he never hears the word 'no').
Julie said no as far as waking us up, thankfully. Steph is retrieving him presently (8:30am) to bring him over. I think young children and older folks like me live in different temporal worlds: a single day or night is like an epoch to them, while a week can seem like a day to us. Perhaps a metaphor for God's view of time versus our own, we who think our earthly lives so lengthy that we try to avoid even "legitimate suffering", the kind that maketh saints.
Graceful she bears her dignity
the arch of back and brow and book
a grey sundress, her carry proud
a woman's burden trumpeted.
Steph, ever useful, found a blanket to put on the kids' glass coffee table. The table was part of the reason Aaron was unhappy with the place calling it not kid friendly. This simple maneuver helped much.
Enriching day so far. Morn spent in perfect leisure: read some of the novel NW while sipping tasty coffee. Then walked the beach for about 40 minutes. Then some 10am prayer before Steph & Julie arrived with McD's breakfast around 10:30. I'd already made some deee-licious french toast, seeing how delayed breakfast was. As they say, "breakfast delayed is breakfast denied"!
Everybody came down to our pad till around 11:30 after which we went to the beach-nik. I played with Sam about an hour, 12:20 to 1:20; we threw plastic toys into the surf and then collected them as they flowed towards us. And then everybody went in for naps and I did an obligatory jog, without much relish.
Steph still thinks they won't last long here, that Aaron will want to flee in a day or two. I'm not so sure. Julie said, "next year we'll come down here and rent a two-bedroom. A bit small for them I guess.
A couple in front of us on the beach, three kids in tow, downed six beers between them by 1:30pm. Not bad. The beer cure for having children on vacation. (As Amy Welborn quoted someone else, "There are two kinds of travel: with and without kids.")
|This buried boy has need for a sand bra.|
Went to morning mass, thank God. A respite and a helpful corrective though I feel like I need more than Mass for complete corrective (i.e. rosary, morning prayer). Transfiguration today. I love that there was a reference to it being a wonderful prefiguration of our own sonship of God. That idea of God being not only our Father but also of Father saying to us, “You are my beloved son with whom I am well pleased” is mesmerizing. To have a father is one thing, to have a father who is pleased with you is a whole 'nuther matter.
Speaking of fatherhood, Aaron said that he's trying so hard to build up the trust with S. such that he has some room to operate, to receive the benefit of the doubt. You can't be harsh right away else they won't trust that they will accept discipline in the spirit of love as is intended. Pretty deep stuff since that's also how God must work with us. He tells us in Scripture that he chastises those sons he loves, so part of that divine sonship.
Big decision at 4pm: whether to turn chair to face sun or sea!
Monday morning sure was nice. The much appreciated lingering over coffee capped by the poignant walk on the slightly cloud-lit beach. Sunday night wasn't bad either given the quick hustle-down of two Edmund Fitz porters. You take your moments when you can.
Sam has a healthy confidence in his persuasive abilities, no doubt proved true by experience. When I told him our dog Buddy wasn't allowed here, he said he'd go down to the beach and straighten this out. “Hi boss!” he practiced saying. Sam also has trouble with the letter “l”, making it silent. This really isn't good when he says the word “flag”, for obvious reasons. Julie thinking about speech therapy although I doubt this is the sort of thing that would worry a pre-1990s parent. Fr. Groeschel said worries mushroom in affluent societies, even though you'd think it would be the exact opposite.
“What time do you get up in the morning?” Julie asked last night. This is not a question this lazy grandparent wants to hear because, translated, it means: “What time can I give you the kids?”
I can see why Aaron gets up at 4:45 every morning in order to have some free time before the call of the wild begins. There is something about that morning hour without disruptions that is very appealing. Philip at work does the same thing - gets up before the kids do, as does Jennifer of Conversion Diary I believe. This means getting up insanely early because young kids get up early as it is.
Julie's secret to child-raising sounds like a Cold War policy: containment. She whispered the word to me like the guy who says “plastics” in the film “American Graffiti”. Containment as in try to limit their field of motion, thus a pool is better than the beach since a pool has boundaries (a locked gate). A bike trailer is nice for the same reason - they're limited in mischief potential.
Oh how I've longed for this all-access sun pass! A week of days of consolations in reparation for the cool summer and the dearth of vacations. All have been a day here, a day there, and all under the auspices of chilly rains. I appreciate this more for the lack of sun this summer, particularly July 4th weekend's truly dismal weather performance.
Oh how nice not to have to immediately shave, shower and brush teeth! And how nice to blow off nightly brushing and flossing. It's those little things that unduly annoy, liking brushing twice a day and flossing once.
By 10:30 Sam was up and soon Steph and I took him on a nice 40 min bike ride towards Sea Pines. Earlier, before breakfast, Steph and I had taken a wonderful walk along the glittering shore. There's something special and magical about morning sun on the sea. Today was the first day I really felt relaxed.
Played that classic “Brandy” to feel all poignant for sea enchantment purposes. Perhaps it's a metaphor for the male longing for journey and novelty compared to the female desire for stability and safety. The complementarity of the sexes is simultaneously beautiful and tragic. Like the song “Brandy”.
Spontaneity is the mother of invention, so I headed to my trusty steed and biked for 70 minutes to the muse of music instead of reading the Kindle. I get sappy on vacations (or “corny” as black folks call us). It's the only time in my life I listen to Dan Fogelberg, in this case Run for the Roses - the most inspirational pop song short of Rocky- and Longer, that hymn of prevenient grace. Later there's Barbara Streisand's ethereal Evergreen.
Can't believe all the animal drama going on at home. Buddy got skunked in Marsha's small urban yard. Bud's dog Bridgette had a mild heart attack. And Lazarus developed an abscess on his face. Sounds like our animals need us.
Foolishly I overindulge
Not in liquor but in exercise
To exorcise the demons
Of lost youth.
Reading book Detroit is the Place to Be! Great title. The whole decline and fall of Detroit strikes me as similar to that of so many ghost towns in California and Alaska - they were tied to boom years in gold exploration and died when the gold dried up. Similarly, Detroit boomed with the American auto industry and now is experiencing the fall of it. Not to say the city hasn't been badly managed, but do we really expect government and central planners to overcome what is essentially a marketplace problem? Kind of want to check out the ruins of Detroit as well as the art museum there.
It's overcast but that just lends to the variety and will surely be temporary. Steph loves the weather down here - good golf score temperatures (low 80s) and the occasional respite of light cloud cover.
Wunderbar 30 minute run but then after I made the really, really stupid decision (judgement after a run is never really sharp - it produces a sort of drunken obliviousness) to snap the iPhone on the bill of my cap and cool off in the ocean. Of course the weight of the iPhone eventually tipped it forward, unlatched, and sank into the salt water. So predictable! And yet it felt like a sort of challenge. I retrieved it instantly but there was damage. I can't power it up now for more than thirty seconds. I feel at a loss without it since it's my music player and my virtual pad of paper for writing. (Am writing this on my iPad now up at the condo, with consolatory cigar for baby-sitting service rendered between 8:30 and 2).
I'll know within 48 hours for sure if this iPhone is dead - they say not to power it on for that long but, of course, I already tried. Curiosity killed the cat and my iPhone. I probably blew the circuits. Costly vacation but then if all you're concerned about money you wouldn't go on any vacations. They are money pits, not the least due to having to spend a lot more on food than one otherwise would.
Excitement at the beach - large crowd gathers, always a sign of something Big. Headed over there when I saw a fisherman hauling in something which I hoped was a shark but turned out to be a large stingray. Watched them unhook him, a slightly bloody operation, after de-barbing him prudently first (stingrays grow stingers back). Then they put him back in the surf to go his merry way, an unintentional catch.
Last day. Have landed on the deck after the trip to Lawton Stables with Sam and Julie and Steph. Aaron and Will made an abortive effort, cancelled by Will's crying. He doesn't much like the bike trailer, presumably because of the helmet.
We rode to that iconic breath of western ranch and petted the huge Belgian horse. Sam wouldn't touch him out of fear, nor did he feed him. Then, surprisingly, he wanted to go on a pony ride and so he did.
Now looking over the pleasingly fecund prairie edging and protecting the beach. Nice, full sun but not terribly hot. I would guess 80, 83 at most. Awesome weather. Heard that it was raining the other night in Columbus. So glad not to be in that “London summer” this week.
I have missed the restful mornings the most, the very gentle waking up with coffee, maybe a walk on the beach and the slow build-up till a delicious breakfast at 10 or so. Reading the Island Packet! I feel nostalgic towards it.
Ran one more time and swam one more time even though my limbs are putty. Ex-haust-tation. Easy day today Sam-wise given the 2.5 hours spent bike-riding, displaying the containment principle in action.
Hilton Head feels the anchor of the vacational year. There's something so right, so seasonally appropriate, so “in tune” in going to Hilton Head in the summer and experiencing the full sun-sation not in the winter but when my own body clock is set for it. There is something glaringly artificial about the winter trips to sunshine venues, sort of like watching baseball in December.
I like the August trip if only because the barrier to ocean entry is non-existent. The water is perfectly warm. There's no startle like in June. It's August when the livin' is easy. And this August we scored unbelievably because not only did we have great gobs of sun but it's not been overly hot, just low 80s.
Statuesque blonde rides a curvy red bikini, a febrile sight. Beer consumption rises with the tide. Her friend a brunette looks a twin but for the hair. Still, there's something too picture-perfect in their skin and figures. They are like dolls. There's no self-disclosure in their rubrically-correct swimwear. They are walking Coppertone ads but there are no bodily idiosyncrasies. It's as if they studied themselves in their suits in the mirror, exposing only what they want to expose. Plenty, it's true, but nothing…accidental. Their bodies as if made by Fisher. Madison Avenue. Maybe too the metaphorical lack of wounds, the lack of scars. There's no sense of life lived, of a humility born of once having things get out of hand.
And so the blue sky, empty of clouds at 1pm, seemed a balm to my summer-stunted soul. Oh the wonder of the cumulative effect! On this last day I still gloried in the glory of creation and found new inspiration in the sea waters and Sea Pines greenery. This week I certainly wasn't cheated weather-wise, I ran the gauntlet in the sparkling wine sun, gathering every stray moment like the treasure it was.
The perfect cap to a fine day: an elderly gentlemen sitting next to me is smoking a fine cigar and I catch the inadvertent whiffs of memories encased in fragrant smoke.
POST SCRIPT (SUNDAY):
Am suffering from a case of PTKS (post-traumatic kid syndrome). Sometimes every kid minute feels about three times as long as a non-kid minute. We had Sam from 9pm Friday till 9:15am Sunday and it about kilt me. Thirty-six hours, with fifteen off for sleep.
Parents seem like superheroes to me. Like made of something other than flesh and blood.
The drive was purgatorial. We got up at 7am and it took two hours to load up, set up the bikes, cargo carrier, empty refrigerator into cooler, ad nauseum. Nine a.m. was a painfully late start, and we were soaked with sweat in the burgeoning heat. Then it took us 13.5 hours all told, arriving at home just after 10:30pm.
Sam's learned that to request something eighty or ninety times is to get it. Persistence in prayer and petition doth work. We stopped five times on the ride because he had to poop, only each time he didn't poop. As soon as we got home he did poop, so I guess he just didn't want to poop in public restrooms for which I don't blame him.
The pure incessancy of questions and play gave me an insight into how much God loves us, since he puts up with us in a similar way that adults put up with young 'uns. It's just unreal, that kind of exhaustive love. It made me realize just what a huge debt my parents paid and what a debt my sister and brother paid. “Forgive us our debts, and we forgive those in debt to us” we pray in the Our Father and I find I have a lot more debts than those in debt to me.
Was moved by hearing on C-Span that Rose Kennedy wished her grandchildren and children would've reached for a rosary in times of stress instead of for a drink or drugs. She herself was “wind-aided” with prescription sleeping pills and other pharmos. But it's a sign of humility, I suppose, to accept help where you can find it. I didn't realize she had such bad insomnia, proof I guess that insomnia is not fatal given her length of life.
Post-church began mainlining a cigar on the hammock (Stop! Hammock time!) and my iPad.
Aaron and Julie said they concluded they were glad to have done it for Sam's sake, since he appreciated it so much. It's a tad bittersweet he'll never remember this trip at all five or ten years hence. It's like a dream for him, a sweet one, but one that will be forgotten. Or it's like a drinking bout, one that is perhaps pleasurable at the time but of which you have no memory the next morning.
Meanwhile Buddy still smells like skunk (or “stunk” as Sam calls it), at least on his head and neck. Sam says that “Aunt Beth hit Buddy with a stunk” which is pretty funny. No idea how he came up with that one.
Last night we had a ball with the moon. Sam - surprisingly - knew the moon was a crescent one and he loved it when I said, “Where's that crescent!?” when it was hidden by trees. He'd say it after me, “Where's that crescent?”. “THERE'S that crescent!” I'd say when it re-appeared, to Sam's explosive laughter. Steph caught it all on audio tape. I think we both sound drunk even though we were both sober as judges. Long drives make you giddy.