Saturday, January 11, 2003

What to Drive... ?

SUV, mini van, big ol' truck, sedan...we went on a phase 1, automobile scouting mission. The Big Blue Whale is not a complete beater, but it lacks some of the comforts and safety features of the modern vehicle, plus it's got this aroma... Anyway, it seems like a good time to at least educate ourselves; explore our options. After our first venture out to the car lots, I calculate that we need something smaller than the Excursion, but bigger than an Explorer. I like the safety of the Mercedes, but with the price and smell of a Honda. The Pilot is appealing, but lacks genuine 4x4 capabilities. The Odyssey rates highly, but the colors are lackluster. A previously owned Mercedes can come in at a fair price, but the rear seating is cramped.

Who remembers "Old Hat, New Hat?" The bear tries on every kind of hat and finds something wrong with each one; too bumpy, too flashy, too silly, too feathery. At the end of the story he walks away in his old felt hat. He looks satisfied.

7 seats
superior safety rating

euphoric sensation
pretty color
assorted features to engage Geoff's imagination


Friday, January 10, 2003

Oh Happy Day

Friday, Friday. Friday is a wonderful day. Sing it with me!

I did things! Woo-hoo! The call of the proud. I made it to the post office with important papers, and I enrolled Max in preschool. I spoke with an attorney and deciphered legal jargon. I made pancakes in the shape of chickens (Martha wants my number.) And when the truck's battery died, I used a shovel to bang open the hood and then I hooked up the battery charger (red positive, black negative) and got things sparkin' again. Never mind what is left undone. I prefer to refer to my many successes. And so with a sweeping bow, I say, "Ta Da!"

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Their Lego Land

Where are the children? We went to the library and read. We had corn and pizza for lunch. But now the halls are empty, and the air is still. No one has come to demand assistance, justice or food. Where are the three boys who reside with us here at El Rancho?

El Rancho Lego!
All Legos, all the time. Over Christmas break Alex designed and constructed a Mosquito Bomber, with spinning propeller. He patiently explains the significance of each detail. At the specially appointed Lego table, William is modifying aspects of The Towers. It is a city, a fantasy, a place where walls have faces and rooms are other worlds. Alex displays his collections on shelves. William draws Lego characters. Together they write, direct and produce Lego films. They read trade magazines and online articles. Ask Alex about engines, gears, and the distinction between remote controlled and robotic, and he will eagerly tell all he knows. Max is more than pleased to show his Galidors, and explain the intricacies of the rules of play. He listens to "the brothers" and he's learned the names of the Bionicles and Bohrok. William listens to Max's script ideas and films them for him; from these we all know the characters "On The Range" and "Bidydough."

In the middle of the night I have stepped on an errant Lego. Under the car seats, and sofa cushions and refrigerator there are Lego gears, blocks and heads. Every birthday the request is the same: Legos, please! At Christmas, William and Alex construct Lego decorations: Villages with Alpine skiers, sledders and a bearded man collecting for the poor. Tutu, in Hawaii, is finding them now; on her coffee table and in the bed. They are an inspiration and the tools for three engineers, three story tellers.

Where are William, Alex and Max? In the hall a streak of light breaks the darkness. From behind the closed door: voices; sometimes intense or frustrated, more often engaged, excited. I enter cautiously, just peering passed the door. They look up from their creations. They hope I am not there to take them away from their work. I hope they always find this much pleasure in what they do.
We have returned to our Windswept Rancho. The chicas greeted me with their usual enthusiasm and warmth. The cats were holding a grudge; several hours passed before they forgave me enough to let me nuzzle them thoroughly. Grandma and Grandpa stayed in town and kept everything in order. They gave us the update on the mostly quiet holidays. Apparently the action centered around the Santa Ana winds that ripped across town in the last few days. Minor damage is obvious all over the yard. We did lose two trees. Poor little carrotwood simply snapped, and another was lifted out of the ground. And the chicas' home was blown 6 inches off its foundation. We have experienced many powerful winds since we have lived here, but this one must have been the most potent of all.

I am glad those winds weren't around to greet our plane as we flew home. Flying is adventure filled enough, as far as I am concerned. There is nothing significant to report about this last flight, but I didn't like it . Does anyone remember that flight attendants would suggest passengers grab their ankles in the event of an emergency landing? They don't do that any more. No room. All the security procedures were no problem. Sure it takes a lot of extra time, but it's not painful or harrowing. Painful was the voice of the woman in line with us; she felt compelled to bitch about everything. In some ways I was sorry to see her go, because her litany of complaints was entertaining. She was a one woman act in the theater of the absurd. NASA might want to seek her out, since the universe supposedly revolves around her.

This morning we managed to get ourselves to the community center for Max's gymnastics class. (I think I must be physically here, but mentally still in Hawaii, because driving felt odd and somehow abstract. Not ideal, so I will refrain from driving for the remainder of the day.) He was still wearing the aloha shirt Geoff picked up for him at the airport in Honolulu. Though it's been a month since he was last in his class, he jumped right in and had a good time. Next week we all have new classes to attend. I still haven't told the boys what I have them signed up for. This could get difficult, since I have enrolled them in some unexpected programs.

It's strange to take account of all the changes that have taken place, and also to realize how little is different from before we left. Holly and Rich and Nicholas have a new kitty. He is an even more sleek Chango-like kitten, named Timmy. Anne has a new bicycle for Lava-Man, and they're living in a hotel as their home is rescued from the cottage cheese ceiling. Up the street, the neighbors are putting up a very long fence. It rained a bit today, and the chicas layed eggs. Our Christmas tree is parched and balding. The boys are in ecstasy over all their Christmas gifts. I don't know what to fix for dinner, and there is a ton of unpacking to do. I am happy. I like the feel of my bed and the smell of the rosemary in the yard, and I am grateful for the infinite little things that are my privilege to endure or enjoy.