YASTM readers only interested in my impressions of small town life may want to skip this particular post. The original intent of this blog was to provide my daughter's with a journal of sorts written by their dear old Dad to keep and read back on in the waning days of their life when my wife and I are dearly departed and my grown girl's are in need of something to refer to when their grandkids are bouncing on their space-age aero beds and wanting to hear some tales of the good ol' days.
With that in mind, I sometimes take my own chunk of the blogosphere out for a spin and jot down some impressions of our trips beyond the confines of our small town -- this entry being one such endeavor.
You forget how hanging with this side of the family finds one embracing that hidden bohemian side. The thrill of thrift store shopping, the lure of locally grown produce, the morality of only eating the right fish grown and caught under the right conditions, all enter the realm of normal conversations as naturally as weather is discussed back in Oklahoma.
The theories behind recycling, everyone's passion for books and reading, the importance of restoring old homes, organic farming, holistic fitness, color blindness, financial planning -- are all approached in encouraging and nurturing ways.
As a family we commiserated over the tragic news, cheered over the good news, and dosed out some good nature ribbing to Uncle B who was the latest victim in a long line of clan members who have stubbed their toe on the flagstone platform on which Uncle T's wood burning heater fitfully rests.
The older ones are listened to. The younger ones are listened to. Luckily there aren't any teenagers in our midst at the moment either.
Motto tabenasai - eat more
We ate newly slaughtered lamb and ribeye steaks newly purchased from Whole Foods, cooked up on Pilot M's newly purchased grill in his newly constructed outdoor kitchen, next to his newly cobbled together fish pond made out of newly molded and poured quickrete blocks.
We ate pink mochi and inari (football) rice balls by the dozens, lovingly prepared and presented by Auntie K, as she has for the many years and multiple occasions our family manages to get together. I came home with several recipes from this trip, but the one I neglected to obtain was her miso/sesame dipping sauce for fresh veggies. Uncle T cooked up some mean and humongous shioyaki salmon steaks and veggies picked that morning form his garden.
Wifey (of all people) was craving some authentic J-food so we found a neighborhood S-bar/restaurant where the sushi chef took a liking to our raucous party and sent over a serving platter sized fried mochi-ice cream dessert to cleanse our palates with.
At the obon festival we feasted on freshly made sweet bean cakes and bowls of steaming udon noodles.
The family grows, and my brother loses use of his toe
We met Hawaii girl M's boyfriend, Perfect Joe. At least, that's what we're all calling him, and no Joe, you have no say in the matter. PJ is a soft spoken gent with a past worthy of a pulp fiction novel, yet he somehow managed to woo and win over our peace corp veteran Cousin M's heart and they are blissfully happy as a surfin', scuba diving Hawaiian couple of the new millennium. Not many places on the globe that PJ hasn't been, and after an extensive interview by yours truly and summation of his whereabouts for the last 10 years of his life, Joe didn't raise an eyebrow or protest one iota. Welcome to the flock PJ.
We met Baby Kai, the newest addition to the family (even though he's 3.5 years old - told you we were an oft-never gathering tribe), and also learned that Baby Kai (hmm, it's gonna be hard to stop calling him that) will soon be big brother Kai come January -- congrats to T and M.
Mom brought along her kinesiotape and wrapped any body part on anybody in particular who had a pain or swelling, or phantom ailment. She swears by this stuff and I've seen it work wonders on her as well. If it cures Uncle Y's gout swollen foot however, I'll be a convert.
We removed and left our shoes at the front entry way for the multiple dwellings we invaded. While this may be an uncommon site in most stateside homes (Hawaii excluded), my daughter's felt right at home with the custom (a rule in our home) and were overjoyed to see the mountains of footwear piling up at the doorway. C took this picture.
Road Trippin' in P-town
Took some time off from big family gatherings to pile my brood into our rented Honda Odyssey Soccer Mom mobile to see the sights and capture some local flavor.
Wifey and I spent an afternoon strolling the historic district (P-town is a good 50 years older than my small town) and got our kicks examining the details on the several square blocks of Victorian and Queen Anne homes. Took some pictures, stole some ideas, and germinated the seeds for our own exterior paint scheme when the time comes (purple is a victorian color, right?)
I showed the girl's where the Toad tried to buy some of the "hard stuff" for Debbie and where Curt was initiated into the Pharoah's by chaining the rear axle of Officer Holstein's car to the side of a building only to watch it get yanked out from under the accelerating patrol car.
We cruised the Main boulevard that Paul LeMat, Harrison Ford, Ron Howard and Charles Martin Smith cruised in their movie personas, Milner, Falfa, Steve Bolander and the Toad, respectively, while Wolfman Jack screeched from their AM radios.
With my Mom and my brother (call him Wounded toe), we downed omelettes and hot chai lattes at Original Marvin's in the village, drooled with anticipation at our upcoming double-double at the local In-n-Out (which thankfully made it up to NorCal sometime in the 90's), and found some great "hippie" outfits for the girls at a gigantic Goodwill (says S, holding up a skirt and shirt combination not soon sold at Wal-Mart or Target, "only in the Bay Area do kids dress like this...we'll take it.")
"And we danced, like a wave on the ocean..."
And, in the immortal words of Ren McCormick in the 80's film classic Footloose..."we danced" -- or more specifically, "we bon-odoried."
Cousin J (from the TarHeel side of the family) fully festooned in her lovely summer kimono, took right to the traditional circular line dancing and those that didn't dance thoroughly enjoyed watching those that did. The night time temps were on the cool side (Bay Area in the summer), and by 9:30 p.m. the only member of our clan still dancing, fanning, and katchi-katchi sticking was little soon-to-be-6th-grader J.
She was a sight to behold and made the rest of the family miss the rest of her family (still back in NC, awaiting Round 1 / Dose 1 of radiation) all the more.
The night ended with hugs and kisses and good-byes for some who had early morning flights, goodnights-and-see-you-tomorrows for the rest of us.
The girl's were asleep in the back of the import mini a few miles from the church, and not much later their own brightly colored summer kimonos were laying in rumpled clumps at the feet of their Best Western double beds.
Another unique memory made, another moment carved with care into the bark of our ever expanding and firmly rooted family tree.