Good times after a hard winter

Monday, May 26th


I’m on a positive trajectory. Winter was hard. It was long and dark and cold, and it especially sucked when the power went out for three days and it snowed a foot and I got my car stuck in the driveway while Gary was away. Major low point. Also, I think I sank into a wintery, dark place emotionally after Tristan finished his treatment in September, and I was there for several months – I guess I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself and was at the same time overwhelmed by things that I’d put aside for four years. But now I feel great! I’ve had some great adventures over the last few months, I’ve been running a fair amount, the kids are doing great, and I have a major purge of boxes and files and junk planned for the summer. But that’s not all! Good things are happening all around. About a year and half ago, I wrote about a really bad period, when all sorts of miserable and unfair and tragic things were happening to people whom I love – Phoebe lost her beloved giant-eared Chihuahua when Otis didn’t bring him home from one of their long walkabouts; Gary’s nephew and his partner lost their baby, who had a malformed heart; a good friend and neighbor’s toddler had a terrible and fatal accident; and sweet Noah, Tristan’s friend in Mill Valley, seemed to be losing his battle with leukemia. It was awful. But, now…Phoebe’s silly new puppy Pip is blossoming into a terrific dog, and he adores Phoebe and dances around her when she comes home from school; Gary’s nephew and his partner are pregnant with a healthy baby; my Kneeland friend just gave birth a few days ago to a beautiful baby boy; and Noah finished first grade, shows no signs of relapse, and is a happy kid. That’s good news for four Warrior Moms who have big patches stitched all over their hearts. (Phoebe is counted as a dog mom here.)


Our biggest adventure over the last few months was my three-week trip to Europe with the kids. We left Gary at home to work, take care of the menagerie, and repair fences. Apparently he ate nuts and seeds while we were gone. He doesn’t appear to have suffered for the experience; I’m guessing any shortcomings in his diet were counterbalanced by the blissful silence and lack of kids needing rides.

It was a fabulous adventure! Even the horrible parts were fabulous! The trip began with one of these horrible fabulous bits, when, after the 14-hour first leg of our Turkish Airlines flight, we were stranded overnight in the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. Tomas wisely suggested we try to get into its world class Business Class lounge, which we managed to do because Gary’s superhero status with United somehow transferred to us. Tomas and I spent ten hours sampling every kind of gourmet cuisine the lounge offers, e.g., Thai curry, the olive bar, fresh pasta, etc., and I also sampled, several times, the wines and gin-and-tonics. Tristan slept for hours on lounge chairs I pushed together to make a bed while Phoebe happily rotted her brain with video games after eating countless pieces of cake.


In Budapest, we stayed in Chris and Agi’s lovely apartment, upstairs from Oma and Nagypapa (who were there on their annual Spring migration). We zoomed around Hungary, making short trips to the beautiful old city of Pecs to visit my cousin Palko and his family; to Hajduszoboszlo in the countryside to visit Agi’s wonderful parents, who fed us course after delicious course during meal after meal, took us to the natural spa for which the area is famous, and treated us to a tour of the nearby horse-capital of Hortobagy; and to towns and villages on the outskirts of Budapest to visit with my good friends, the children of my father’s old schoolmate and close friend Odon. In Budapest I visited with many old friends and with family, introducing the kids to so many people who were an important part of my childhood. On our last night, my aunt Agnes held an early Easter dinner with family, and it was a wonderful night filled with stories and toasts and palinka and chocolate bunnies.


During the longer visit to Hungary, Tomas and I took off to Madrid for three days, leaving Tristan and Phoebe to be spoiled rotten by my parents, who took them to the zoo and to the Var (Budapest’s old castle in the hills) and let them have seconds of ice cream. In Madrid, Tomas and I stayed with our good friends the Brickles, an English family who were our neighbors in Bogor. Anna teaches at international schools, thus the long stint in Indonesia and now what looks like a permanent move to Madrid (pending various things to be determined by Brexit). Tomas was schoolmates in Bogor with Alex and Robert and is only three days older than Alex; we have many fond memories of birthday parties in Bogor and trips to Pelabuan Ratu, a beach on the southern coast of Java, with Alex and Robert. Nick and Ann gave us a wonderful walking tour of the city, complete with tapas, lots of wine, and an eatery dedicated to bullfighting and associated gruesome photography. We all went together to see Getafe play Athletico Bilbao, where Alex translated for me the colorful and unbelievably lewd shouts, aimed at the officials, of the Spaniards sitting behind us. Tomas and I toured the Real Madrid stadium with Anna and Alex – Tomas was absolutely thrilled.


The trip home was – thankfully – on Swiss Air, after Turkish Airlines bafflingly lost all evidence that we had completed our outbound trip from Istanbul to Budapest, cancelled our return flights because of our “no show”, reinstated the homebound flight after Gary spent 24 excruciating hours on the phone with the airline and with Expedia, and finally put us on a different airline when the Budapest-Istanbul leg was too delayed to meet the Istanbul-San Francisco one. Swiss Air was neat and clean and organized and all very on time. Muah, love you Swiss people!

It was so wonderfully clear on the way home that the kids had had a great time, and that it was a good experience for all. And I was damned proud of myself for doing it! Back home, Gary was a bit slimmer for the squirrel diet, but he seemed rested and like he had enjoyed unfettered time to do work work and farm work.

And now, a more recent adventure…we are all just returning from a fabulous Memorial Day weekend trip to San Francisco. All five of us travelled down to watch Tomas play in a big soccer tournament. For the third and final game, a big crowd of my family was there, including Tristan and Phoebe, Oma and Nagypapa (jetlagged and newly returned from Budapest), and Uncle Chris. Tomas’ coach likes the parents to sit quietly on the sideline – in his own British-accented words, he’s “not a huge fan of hootin’ and hollerin” – but soccer-loving Chris wasn’t having any of it. The boys had already lost two games, and they didn’t seem to have any spirit. Initially Chris was a one-man cheering section – he’s so loud that he pretty much had it covered by himself – but his enthusiasm was infectious. By the second half, most of the parents had decided to screw any concerns about pissing off the coach, and we were cheering like nuts. It was so clear that it had a positive effect on the boys; their energy picked up and they played a great game. They didn’t win, but it still felt like a win. After the game, we all fell silent on the sideline as the coach approached us. Here comes, I thought. Uncle Chris is going to be banned from the sidelines forever, and we’re going to get a talking to about the hootin’ and hollerin’. But instead the coach thanked the parents for picking up the boys’ flagging spirits! Woohoo, a coup! For god’s sakes, it wasn’t’ a f#$%ing piano recital. In my view, one goes to athletic events to hoot and holler.

Susan brought Noah and Maisie down from Mill Valley to watch part of the game, and they joined us afterward to play with Orion at the apartment (he was thrilled with all the big kids!) and to have dinner with us at Chris’ local Chinese restaurant. It was incredibly fun, with fourteen of us around a gigantic round table. Chris ordered dozens of fabulous dishes and beers, Phoebe and Maisie chatted and played and were BFFs, Tristan and Noah giggled and roughhoused and were loving each other’s company, and I was so happy to have Susan, my favorite Warrior Mom of all, there to meet my family and share dinner with us. It was a special night.


Other bits and pieces…

Both Tristan and Phoebe nailed bike-riding during the week after we returned from our trip! New bikes and padding from head to toe helped. Phoebe is reasonably cautious, but Tristan, only fifteen minutes after mastering the art, began to slam on his brakes to skid to a stop, plunge off road to see what riding in a ditch filled with woodchips feels like, and pedal as fast as possible to enjoy the danger of speed.


I finished up an online class in Nutrition a couple of weeks ago. I had expected it to be pretty boring and silly, but I was totally wrong – it was an excellent class with a great teacher, and I had my lovely Phoebe in mind throughout. Phoebe’s weird diet consists of pasta, rice, bread, rice crackers, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cucumbers in vinegar, radishes, sunflower seeds, pistachios, peanut butter, salami, tempeh, apples, pears, Cheerios with milk, pancakes from batter loaded with eggs, and my ground beef and bean chili. And, of course, ice cream and Annie’s cheddar bunny crackers, whenever allowed. Now I’m pretty sure that somewhere in there, in those mere 20 items, is a complete diet. I hope.

I ran the half marathon at the Avenue of the Giants a couple of weeks after returning from our big trip. I wasn’t exactly ready and it was a last minute decision, but I absolutely loved doing it. There’s something incredibly fun about running under the gorgeous redwoods with a 1,000 other crazy people. That run is one of the things to love about Humboldt County…


2 thoughts on “Good times after a hard winter

  1. Again a fantastic read/account of a never to be forgotten time of your lives. Thanks so much for sharing.Andree & John


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