Not Your Usual Holiday Season!
(Reader warning! I always refer to this as my web site, as opposed to a blog. I try to post essays on various topics that are not just a recital of my personal events. However, this one is different. The last month has been so hectic and joyous that I wanted to write it out so I would not forget the many details, and this is the best place to store the results. So this one might be of interest, and might not. I posted our annual newsy family letter earlier, but the past three weeks have almost eclipsed all of last year! You have been warned! :))
The holiday season just past was one for the books for us. It featured a parade of extended family members traveling all over the place, plus adventures and welcome surprises. I doubt we will ever see the like again.
December 20th: Daughter Dorine and husband Dorje, with grandson Arthur, arrived by train at the King Street Station, coming from Suisun City in California. They were met by our son Will and his girlfriend Alida and spent the night at their home in West Seattle.
December 21st: I picked up brother in law Kevin at SeaTac at 4am and dropped him off at Grandmother Dorine’s house, which is only a mile from ours. Later that morning, Susan and I drove to West Seattle for breakfast with our children, their respective mates, and our grandson.
December 22nd: Pizza dinner at our home with Grandmother Dorine, Kevin, Dorine, Dorje, Arthur, Will, and Alida, plus Susan’s brother John Tracy and his two sons Ryan and Kyle. Since Kyle is a 10 year old motorcycle nut, he and I spent some quality time in the garage where he learned how to start a Triumph Speed Triple, let it warm up, and then twist the throttle in search of the rev limiter. He was very polite and cautious, asking for permission before touching anything, and never did summon to bravado to rev it as high as it would go. This may have been the peak of Christmas for him, as it would have been for me at 10. …Or 15.
December 23rd: Got up at 2am to drive to West Seattle and took Will and Alida to SeaTac, where they were off to visit Alida’s family in Arkansas.
December 24th: Christmas Eve dinner with Dorine, Dorje, Arthur, Grandmother, Kevin, us, and old friends Claire and Austen O’Regan.
December 25th: Christmas. A day to hang out with Dorine, Dorje, and Arthur.
Plus – an afternoon visit from Dorine’s friend Rachel and the new man in her life and Dorje’s aunt Roz, passing through on her way back to her home in Friday Harbor.
December 26th: We took Dorine, Dorje, and Arthur to the incredibly lovely revamped King Street station for their return train trip to Suisun City. Later that day Susan’s brother Denis Tracy and his family arrived from Pullman and we had an amazing dinner at Grandmother’s house created by Kevin.
December 27th: We all went with Grandmother to a cat rescue place where she adopted “Stevc,” with help from the assembled family.
December 29th: We flew to San Jose to be met by Susan’s sister Meghan Lewis, who took us to her home in Las Gatos. We then left with her Infinity QX to drive to Suisun City to stay with Dorine and Dorje and Arthur.
Meghan’s husband Richard was pretty much the man in charge when the San Jose airport was totally redone a few years ago, and we prefer to think of it as “the Richard Lewis Airport.” For the snarky, that can be shortened to “The Dick.”
The Lewis family makes great use of their Infinity QX, which is the largest SUV I’ve ever experienced – loaded to the absolute gills with every luxury farkle I could imagine, plus several I could not. They go to the mountains, and to the sea, and their sons are both heavily involved in volleyball and water polo, with tournaments all over the place. It’s a fine choice for them, but really intimidating to the newcomer. I “learned” to drive it on the freeway, while Susan read through the owner’s manual to find clues to how to handle a myriad of adjustments.
After a day of use, I found it to handle far better than can be imagined, given the height and weight, and I quickly got used to the heated this and that, the back-up camera and self-lowering side mirrors, and power everything. To test my abilities, we later got into repeated situations where I had to turn it around in very tight quarters, making full use of the mirrors and back-up camera – and warning bells. By the time we left I was quite comfortable with it. It is actually easier to drive, and it pains me dearly to say this, than their Mini John Cooper Works edition, which is overpowered and darty and has the ride of a cement mixer. Great fun, but…
December 30th: Meghan and sons Sam and Quinn flew to Seattle. Will and Alida returned from Arkansas.
December 31st: In the hardest work I’ve done in one day in my life, Dorje and I picked up a rental moving van at 8am, and then the four of us packed up a 2 bedroom house and garage into the van, Meghan’s Infinity XQ, and Dorine’s little Nissan. Keep in mind that Dorine was busy with Arthur most of the time. Some of the “smalls” had been packed in advance, but it was still an amazing work load. We started with the Infinity and the moving van in the street in front of the house, and Dorje and I took the heavy stuff out one monstrous lift at a time. Occasionally he would take time to figure out how to pack the most stuff in the least space, and he was very good at that. I would use that time to bring out boxes of whatever to load in the truck or the Infinity.
A side note on books: if your daughter is a poet, writer, and editor, and your son in law a psychologist, there will be a LOT of books. I think his were at his new office, because most of the tonnage (that word might be literal) seemed to be hers. Who has a large BOX of books labeled “Beowulf and Dickinson”? For most of humanity those two names would go with no books, or one, or at the most two. A crate? Who would have a separate box labeled “Beowulf notes”? The box labels themselves were also a source of great fun. What would a box labeled “N F” contain? Couldn’t suss that one out, so I asked. Non- fiction, of course! I did figure out that the box labeled “N F 18th / 19th” contained non-fiction as well as 18th and 19th century fiction. Best of all was a huge and heavy box labeled “Fragile: U 2 F.” Completely stumped, I asked Dorje, who echoed my amusement and perplexity. It turned out to refer to copies of her first book, which was also her doctoral thesis – “Urchins to Follow.” Well, obviously!
Once the van had swallowed all the heavy furniture, he moved it to the rear alley and began loading the tons of boxes we had stashed in the garage, while I filled the Infinity with more boxes as well as odd-shaped child care items, etc.
The Nissan was reserved for Susan, Dorine, Arthur, and the cat – Wallace. A few odds and ends made it in to the trunk.
We then drove over 100 miles to their new 2 bedroom apartment in Santa Cruz, where Dorje has just begun a new position at UCSC. For this we chose to leave Susan and Dorine and Arthur to their own devices, as the moving van was limited to a lower speed. We left while they awaited Arthur’s awakening from a nap and a late lunch from (literally) Dorine.
This started out as a piece of cake, as all I had to do was tail the huge moving van. Unfortunately, I only had directions to Santa Cruz, and not to their specific address. Santa Cruz is small, but not really. About 80 miles in I realized I had a problem. I needed to stop and go to the bathroom, and if I did I would lose the van and then be adrift on the California freeway system. I called Dorje (lawbreaker that I am) and he did not answer.
I paused a few minutes for further thought, which did not help at all. I tried one more time and he answered and said “Great, there’s a Carl’s Junior.” True, as we were in a short in-town transition between freeway systems, but we were in the 3rd left lane and the restaurant was 15 yards ahead on the right. Turns out that if you make a 90 degree turn across three lanes in a moving van, people will understand and give you room!
In a few minutes we drove on, fueled by Dr. Pepper and fresh French fries, with a double bacon burger waiting for later.
Their new place is a roomy 2 bedroom apartment with an open garage and a locking storage area, sited in a huge complex called “Laureate Circle.” It is owned by UCSC and all who live there are on the faculty. It is off “Nobel” street, just to set the tone.
Turns out that Dorje’s intent was that we would pack, load, drive, and UNLOAD everything in the same day. This was so insane nobody would have agreed to it, so he cleverly brought out each step when we had achieved the previous one, and it always seemed do-able. His doctoral degree in psychology was not an accident. At the new place everything had to be carried up a flight of stairs. Ever carried 100 boxes of books up a flight of stairs after working for ten hours? About the 3rd or 4th time my t-shirt was a sopping rag of sweat I wondered why I had not collapsed yet, but all the time I felt OK so why not keep going? Things got SO much easier when Brother-in-law Richard Lewis arrived at 7pm, driving over from Los Gatos after work. He absolutely saved the day with a lot of heavy lifting in the late evening. In fact, Dorje and Richard became quite solicitous, and would not allow me to carry anything truly heavy. It is possible they took a good look at me and made this decision when I was out of earshot.
We ended the evening with a glass of red wine and various other treats – amazed and pleased it had all gone so well.
Meanwhile, back in Seattle, Will and Alida took off for a long weekend in a rented cabin up by Mount Baker with no cell phone service.
January 1st: While we were resting and playing with Arthur in Santa Cruz, enjoying the sun beaming down on the deck, Susan got a text message with pictures from Will and Alida.
Just after midnight Will had proposed! Since we adore Alida, this was the icing on a truly enormous holiday cake.
In 2013 we welcomed our first grandchild, and in 2014 we get to add a daughter!
Later that day, Kevin flew back to New Mexico, and Denis and family drove back to Pullman. To the south, we spent some time on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz – one of our favorite places. Alas, it is the favorite place of a lot of people, so I go to practice maneuvering the Infinity with 5 people in it in very tight quarters – several times.
January 1st: Dorje and I returned the rental van, and then Susan and I did some shopping at the most posh Safeway store ever seen to stock up the larder of the new digs. Wow. On the way out of town we went back to West Cliff Drive, and this time I found a very tight spot next to a friendly couple in a car who appeared to be smoking a large amount of marijuana. Dorine and Dorje and Arthur came down to join us in their car, and Dorje initiated his skate board into the Santa Cruz scene.
All too soon we had to dash over Highway 17 to Santa Cruz, where we stopped by to pick up Richard, who drove us to the airport – probably relieved to get the Infinity back undamaged.
January 2nd: In the morning we drove Meghan and Sam and Quinn to SeaTac, where they were boarding a plane, not for Las Gatos, but for LA for a tournament. Richard drove down in the Infinity to meet them.
January 4th: Susan is in bed. It is 10am. I don’t expect that to change for most of the day…
Copyright 2014 David Preston