Update: Thanksgiving photos are in the album – click the photo to see them.
This is something I’ve been wanting to do for at least 6 years. As I created our Christmas card, drawn from all the photos of our travels to be with family and friends this year, I was thankful for so much. Today, as I snipped each of the 100 or so wheat ears on the harvest bread (pictured), I spent a moment reflecting on those happy memories. Tomorrow we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving with those we love, and sharing our bounty with those visiting the island for a week on their way to deployment. This tradition of an open table at Thanksgiving has grown over the years and has become very special to me. I love meeting new people as we break bread together. I hope this bread is edible, but even if it isn’t, the symbolic gathering of wheat bound by a braid of love says it all better than I am right now! Happy Thanksgiving to each of you reading this, dear family and friends. We love you and are so thankful for each of you. And mom, thank YOU for making the kitchen smell good as I work while Ben naps 🙂
Today mom, the boys and I went to base to run errands for Thanksgiving – getting the permit for the pavilion I rented on the beach (on the Marine Corps Base), get some champagne and sparkling cider, and check out the pavilions once again in person. While at the beach, we did some watercolor painting and shell collecting, then as we packed up after this somewhat relaxing interlude I got a text from co-conspirator Liisa that our Thanksgiving guest list had just doubled from 17 to about 33 people! YIKES! My first reaction was OMG, my stomach did a flip, then I remembered that this is what Thanksgiving is all about for me – sharing with those near and dear as well as those who are without their near and dear folks. A squadron from San Diego that was just deployed is on their way to wherever they’re going, and this is the first stop. They are here without friends, family, food or fun. So we’ll provide whatever we can for them. With this news, our next stop today was the commissary, where I bought more plates and pies! Liisa and I are very foolish…or very clever. Either way – the funny thing is neither of us cooks!
Mom arrived on Tuesday and it seems like we haven’t caught our breath since! We’ve helped her move in, I got a run on the beach (my calves are still sore!) and the boys are enjoying having her so close by, close enough for a drop-in any time. We love having mom here for so many reasons, not least of which is her super cleaning skills! When Dave got home tonight (after 6pm on a Sat) he walked into a home with two boys playing nicely in Ben’s “pigpen,” salmon in the oven 10 minutes from perfectly done, rice cooked, Beethoven on the stereo, and mom-in-law cleaning the way only a mom can clean…isn’t he lucky? We all are! (Note – in the pictures linked from the photo above you’ll see reference to “fish tank” time for the boys this morning…mom fears you won’t understand what was going on – the boys were the fish, and the crib was the tank. I was feeding the fish AppleJacks 🙂 It was messy but fun for quite some time!)
Today is our usual hiking day with our buddies, but since we also needed to finally hit the commissary, we decided to do another favorite activity: bike/run the fish ponds look on base. We start at the playground and head out around the ponds, stopping first at the bridge where we found fish romping and racing, a huge puffer (an old friend of ours, now with a big fungal growth or something on a fin – looks like a nice flower but I’m pretty sure it’s not), and even an eel-like thing! (I checked – possibly a “snowflake” moray.) Then around the 4.7 mile trail, including Sam swooping down some hills then powering up ones he’s had to walk previously. We also saw an egret eat a lizard, whole, high up on a chain-link fence, so we could see the whole endeavor up against a blue sky (white egret, black lizard, sky). Sam was quiet for a while afterwards so I asked if he was a little sad. Even I was, thinking maybe lizards really do have feelings. We took the opportunity to talk about the food chain, but it was still a little sad. Then to the playground for romp, then to the commissary (huge bill after a month away!) then finally home, unload, eat sushi, nap/work, play, do some math, write some notes on the sidewalk…Daddy comes home, more sushi for dinner, romping time with Daddy, dessert, then bed for boys, pictures, reading, note to family on blog. My mom is due in any minute from CA – we are looking forward to her winter stay! I’m having hot buttered rum as I type. 🙂 That’s a wrap! Aloha and love to all.
We were blessed by another flawless trip home, thanks to the Sunskeers out of Jacksonville. The gracious Commander Striker (yes, for real!) allowed the kids on the flight to visit the cockpit (there were only 4 kids) and even sit in the pilot’s seat! WOW! More pictures from the trip home, and some neat stories about marine mammals who serve (happy Veterans’ Day to you, too, dolphins and sea lions!) are in the album (click on photo above). We are happy to be home…the kids were so cute checking out all their things last night before bath. I was unpacked in less than an hour, but totally wiped out from the long day. Today we cleaned house, went on a bike/run, had Lanikai Juice, and took a nap. Looking forward to the weekend so we can play, and thankful for some sun! We met a really nice family on the plane, so we may pop into Bellows to visit them, too.
I think we have four generations of military service in our family, on both sides, perhaps more. Parents – please correct me if I am wrong here. Does it date back to Civil or Revolutionary War? I remember that Granny Dot was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. (I saw the DAR headquarters in Washington, D.C.) Mom, Sam, Ben and I biked/ran down to the ceremony, then hit a playground, then had a surprise visit from somebody special! Check out this link for a great video reminder to say thank you (props to Giji for posting the link to the Gratitude Campaign): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSfFYxSdKdo
After nearly three weeks of sniffing the wonderful scents of horses around here (there are stables across the street from mom and Richard’s place) I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take an English lesson at a nearby stables. The horses are part of a therapeutic riding program, and my mount today (Leah) is actually ranked 8th in the nation. My trainer gave me a good workout to fine-tune my 20+ year old equitation (I didn’t realize at the time it’d been that long!). She said that clearly I’d had good training as it came right back in the leg position, hands and arms. Muscle memory! Click on the photo for more pictures and a video. Thanks, mom, for hanging out ringside, just like old times!
Sunday (yesterday) was Joel and Priya’s wedding day. They are a dynamic couple, both songwriters and musicians, and their wedding day reflected their brilliant personalities and how well they complement each other. Thank you for including us in your day! Read a brief (and hilarious) note about their backstory at their wedding website.
We drove about 2 hours out to Palm Springs and rode the Tramway about 6000′ up to the top (well, almost the top – we were at 8500 ft) of Mt. San Jacinto (actual summit is 10,834 ft elev). We had a great time hiking around – the air smelled incredible up there!
We had an absolutely wild day today chasing all over San Diego catching up with old friends and making new friends, revisiting old stomping grounds and making new memories. One of the highlights was finally meeting a lady I’ve worked with for over a year (Amy, in the middle) and a friend, former professor and mentor (Linn, to the right, with little Oliver in her “pouch”). The boys had a great time romping all around the park, especially in the little plasma boards Amy brought for us to check out! Then we moved on down the road to Coronado to see if we couldn’t find Johnny Hoffman, our former neighbor and friend (and retired Master Chief SEAL – that really should tell you most of what you need to know about him!). One of the funniest moments of catching up to Johnny was when mom asked “Does he B I T E?” about his huge iguana (she spelled it out). Johnny got this incredibly blank look on his face, then said “B I T E? I mean, I know it’s a four-letter word and all but does he bite?? I’ll go ahead and say it!” Click for the rest of the photos and stories. I am tired…again…having too many adventures! Mom and I have been cracking up tonight over the escapades, and periodically watching a really wacko video of a gecko…
Sam, Ben and I went on a long bike adventure today full of interest – some hills, a bridge over the creek, a few nice people we met along the way (yeah, the bike path was technically closed, but it was only signage! You know what that means…proceed until otherwise impossible, then find another way :)). We had a great time, and our reward was an awesome playground. Sam is so cute about his playgrounds. He catalogs each one we find and knows exactly which state it’s in and the name of it.
We love you, Daddy!