Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The philosophy of life, according to hair metal

1. You should be up all night and sleep all day.
2. Rock and roll is not really noise pollution.
3. I don't know where I'm going. But I sure know where I've been.
4. Rock and roll all night, and party every day.
5. With love we'll find a way just give it time.
6. You don't need nothing but a good time.
7. It's OK to have love in an elevator.
8. You really can be too young to fall in love.
9. We are the youth gone wild (well, I was when this song came out, I'm not so wild now, though I did buy a six pack of Sam Adams Cherry Wheat).
10. We're not going to take it anymore.
11. Everything starts to spin loaded on gin.
12. Life is just a fantasy, but can you live the fantasy life? (I love it when bands get deep)
13. You take your road, I'll take mine. The paths have both been beaten.
14. It's not what you got, it's what you give.
15. Rock. Rock. Until you drop.
16. You don't know what you got until it's gone.
17. Wherever I may roam, where I lay my head is home.
18. Stop wasting time always searching for your wasted years.

Can you name the bands putting forth these nuggets of wisdom?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pain is a privilege

My competitive juices were flowing Saturday as I watched my friends from my running group go through the motions before the 5K I was about to run.
The hard warm up, the light stretching, the jumping around, the last-second adjustments to their shoelaces, the nervous pacing, the quiet moments alone, all of it designed to make them run faster, to push our body beyond what the mind tells us is possible and block out the evil thoughts of slowing down or even walking.
I'd been through it several times this year, and though part of me was glad I wasn't going to join them and run really hard today, part of me was jealous.
But running fast and hard today would make no sense. I was going to push Jayden in a stroller, and he's approaching 40 pounds. I was there so Kate could be there, as she was walking the course with the twins and a pregnant friend. And I was going to do a long run of at least nine more miles after the race.
Finally, this race was for one of Kate's students. She came down with brain cancer more than a year ago. I did two stories on her. Everyone thought she was gone in March, but then she groped through that dark period and seems to be getting better every day. She still slurs her words, but she's all there and is slowly regaining the use of her limbs. Next year, they even think she might be able to walk the race herself. I know that's what she wants. She just wants to walk again and be a normal high school student.
As I started my long run on my own, I knew I'd be in some pain by the end. Long runs are designed to be tough, and I wound up going 14 for the day, including the race. And the race? I finished in 26 minutes, which is not a time I'll record in my logs, but it wasn't bad with a stroller. I had a good time.
The point, in this race, wasn't to run hard.
The point is that I can.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pokerpeaker part II?

Me: "What do you want to do today?"
Jayden: "Umm...."
Me: "Do you want to go to the park?"
Jayden: "No. Can we go climb a mountain?"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In a (St.)ate of Happiness over the new Metallica

Before I begin, let me tell you I'm probably the most biased person offering up a review of the new Metallica album.
Namely, I love the band. My favorite for, like, forever. You want proof? I loved "St. Anger," even though, in many respects, the album sucked. I loved it, however. I'm like those U2 fans who said "Pop" was a terrific album.
But those same U2 fans had 783 orgasms all wrapped up into one when they heard "Beautiful Day" for the first time and realized that their favorite band was back.
That was my reaction when I heard "That Was Just Your Life," Metallica's opener to their brilliant new "Death Magnetic."
Yes, I thought. Yes Yes YES!
The reason I loved "St. Anger" was the band's return to speed metal. I didn't really care that the songs had no solos or that many times they were unfocused or that the production was, at best, horrible, especially a snare that sounded like an old coffee can.
I was so desperate for Metallica to return to its roots, to be BACK, for God's sake, that I was willing to settle. Metallica tried my patience for more than a decade. Again, I was a loyal fan, so after the great Black album, a necessary departure that was still one of the heaviest albums put out in 1991, I loved "Load" and even liked "Reload." But those were not what I really wanted.
I don't have to settle any longer.
The album is all i've listened to since I bought it last Saturday. At work, at home, in the car. I can't get tired of it. The songs are all around eight minutes long, and yet they're focused, thrashy and stuffed full of incredible riffs. It's fast and furious and yet catchy.
Plus the album SOUNDS great. Thank you Rick Rubin. And Kirk Hammett is back with some of the best work he's done. I'm not sure if he's still taking lessons from Joe Satriani but it sure sounds like it. He's one of the few rock guitarists who really does have his own style and sound.
It's fitting to me that Metallica was just nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
They're back, baby, this time, I hope, for good.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Keep track of twins and a toddler (live blog)

Kate is gone all day Saturday at her sister's baby shower and will be going out with her friends tonight, so I'm wall-to-wall Mr. Mom today. I thought it would be fun to live blog the day. Or it's the only thing that will help me keep my sanity.
6:45 a.m. - I go into the girls' room, where Kate is already lifting the girls out of their cribs.
7:05 a.m. - Time to get them dressed, bring them downstairs and get them breakfast.
7:35 a.m. - I go up to take a shower and get my game face on. Nothing helps prepare for a day with a toddler and 16-month-old twins like some time on the potty and a shower.
7:50 a.m. - Kate: "I need to gooooo." She told me 8 a.m. last night. Kate likes to do this, telling me that she wants to leave at this time and then pushing that time up at the last second. Sorry, I'm using every last bit of my 8 a.m. deadline. I hop in the shower.
8:01 a.m. - Kate leaves. Andie takes off her shorts, Allie poops and they both start to fight over a battery-powered toy mixer. We're not off to a good start.
8:10 a.m. - I change Allie and Jayden starts begging for "Peep and the Big Wide World." He's totally addicted to this show. He has Dad's OCD personality.
8:20 a.m. - Andie grabs the TV controller and runs off with it. This messes up Jayden's Peep program. He screams.
8:23 a.m. - I grab the controller back from Andie. She throws a fit.
8:30 a.m. - Andie falls off the couch. She's OK after a crying fit.
8:32 a.m. - Andie crawls back up on the couch. I start tickling her and playing with her. Allie craws up a minute later and now I have to corral both. This is one of the things about twins. Individual moments are black-diamond rare. The second twin has turned the nice moment into an almost impossible situation of trying to corral them both on the couch, and now I have to get both off, with predictably bitchy results.
8:36 a.m. - Allie sees Jayden's sandals and holds them up. She wants them off her feet. I try three times to convince her they are too big. She disagrees with every once of her 22 pounds. I finally relent and put them on. She starts tripping all over the place. Andie sees this and grabs Jayden's tennis shoes and wants those on her feet. Allie trips again.I take them off their feet and put the shoes up. They both start bawling.
8:37 a.m. - Nap time.
8:40 a.m. - I get them into their cribs. They go down without incident. Glory, glory hallelujah!
9 a.m. - After an episode, Jayden sees an understandable opportunity to grab as much time as he can from Daddy and demands juice, his Crocs, outside time, a swing and hitting the ball, all in 30 seconds. The dog, Denali, is in my face every time I sit down. He wants attention too.
9:15 a.m. - Out in the yard, Denali grabs a toy and wants to play tug of war. jayden wants to swing.
10:35 a.m. - I put in a load of laundry. Jayden and I play on the bed downstairs. I smother him with a pillow and says, "Stop, you're squishing me," then wants it again.
10:45 a.m. - Alas, it's time to get the girls up. We do. I change Andie.
10:55 a.m. - I hold Andie's hand while Allie tries to go down the stairs. I bring Andie down by her hand, and Allie stops halfway in the middle. I grab her hand and lead her down. By the time I do this, Andie's halfway up the stairs again. This is why stuff with twins takes three times as long.
11:02 a.m. Three out of the four Crocs owned by the twins are located. This is a greater accomplishment than it sounds.
11:03 a.m. - Andie sees the Crocs and demands I put them on.
11:05 am. - Andie takes off her shorts again.
11:07 a.m. - I begin to fix lunch. I put on Andie's shorts. She takes them off again and has taken off her shoes. She demands I put them on again. Allie wants her shoes on now.
11:08 a.m. - I change Allie and discover a poop. I get up to find the wipes and Allie's already ran off to the next room. Sigh. I chase her down, clean her up and put her shorts back on. I help Jayden go pee-pee in the potty and put his shorts back on. and his Crocs as well.
11:10 a.m. When I come back from the bathroom, Allie has taken her shoes off. I can't find one. I search for five minutes.
11:15 a.m. Croc found under the couch. How did it get there?
11:20 a.m. - Andie wants to be held.
11:25 a.m. - I fix lunch. Cheese hot dogs, cottage cheese, canteloupe.
Noon - Lunch is over. It's time to clean up and prepare to go to the park. Whew.
12:05p.m. - I change Andie.
12:06 p.m. - She takes off her shorts again. I'm done with the fucking shorts. I go upstairs to grab a new pair. I rifle through clothes under I find a tight pair she wont' be able to take off.
12:20 p.m. - The kids seem good for a second playing with the plastic kitchen, so I go downstairs to put another load of laundry in.
12:23 p.m. - Load up the kids and take them to the park.
1:30 p.m. - The park goes fine at first but ends tough, when Jayden refuses to listen to my order of staying on the top rocks of the pond, and then runs away when I come down to collect him while the girls are up there, alone. This pisses me off and he gets time for five minutes. He screams the entire time.
The girls then keep heading for the street. Jayden keeps climbing on the monkey bars and then yelling for help.
It's time to go home.
1:40 p.m. - Girls are brought out, Crocs off, Jayden needs juice, and I put them down for their nap. The church bells ring again, and Peep gets turned on for quiet time. Kate phones and says she is on her way and should be home at 3 p.m. It can't be soon enough.
3 p.m. - Kate gets home. Church bells again. I need to go to Wal-Mart to refill my prescription for acid reflux, which has been acting up lately. I cant' understand why.
3:30 p.m. - I decide to take Jayden to the pet store. He's been asking all week to see the fish.
3:45 p.m. - We go see the fish. Some are labeled "aggressive." I wonder if they play A-10 out of position hard?
Sorry, bad joke.
4:15 p.m. - After an extensive tour of the store, where we see the fish, a scorpion (singing "Rock Me Like A Hurricane") and ferrets, it's time to go. We just make it to the car, and I've yet to go to Wal-Mart, when jayden decides he wanted to see the birds, too. I say no, we have to go, and Jayden rewards me for an extra trip to a pet store after a long hard day by throwing an intense and really annoying temper tantrum. I turn up the new Metallica CD to drown out the cries. I dump him off at home and head to Wal-Mart. I'm not putting up with that.
4:50 p.m. - I come home. Jayden is really upset I did not take him. I talk to him and explain that his tantrum meant he couldn't go. He said he was sorry. We'll see.
5:15 p.m. - I gobble down my lame frozen dinner I picked up at Wal-Mart. I got a list of groceries that Kate had me get after needing "nothing." I get everything but my prescription, which I forgot. Sigh.
6:10 p.m. - I get the bottles together. Kate leaves for her dinner date. Allie and Andie are through playing dress-up and the cranky levels have reached nuclear fission, so it's time for bed. I read Allie a story after bedtime. Andie tries to barge in the whole time.
There's never a peaceful, alone moment with a kid when you've got twins. Sigh.
6:25 p.m. - Andie goes down. Allie goes down. Jayden demands juice. Jayden wants outside. We sit outside together as the storm starts to brew.
I hope it's not a prelude to the evening. Tonight I need peace.

Monday, September 15, 2008

One night in Susanville, Calif. with poker in the back

My expectations weren't exactly high.
Grandpa got weary in the evenings (when 92 you are, see how much energy you have), so we went back to our hotel rooms in Susanville, Calif., during last week's visit and hung out.
This was near Reno, Nev., and I had the itch to play poker. I rarely get to play live poker anymore, especially the kind in a casino, and if my evenings were going to be free, i.e. without twins or a toddler, I really hoped to take advantage of that.
So when Mom sent me a link to the new Diamond Mountain Casino, I remember being excited. In fact, other than getting to see Grandpa for the first time in 15 years at least, the chance to play live poker was what I looked forward to the most.
Alas, when my brother and I drove out to check it out on our first free night, last Thursday, we walked in to a small, dingy, smoky three-room casino that generously looked like it belonged way off the strip near Vegas.
I doubt the place would survive even in downtown Vegas. It ranked above the downtown place with women sporting C-section scars passing out beads or the place that offers $1 frozen drinks and carpets that smell like cat piss. Barely.
"This place is a dump," my brother said, and he was pretty much right. But I searched for the card room anyway.
I was crestfallen when the security officer pointed me to a table game called "Ultimate Texas Hold 'Em." THIS is your Texas Hold 'Em game that you bragged about on your Web site? If you could see a picture of dashed hopes, mine would look like an egg, with the yolk running off the sidewalk.
As I sulked out, I caught a flyer. "Texas Hold 'Em," it said. Tournaments Saturday and Live Games Sunday.
I didn't see anything about
poker tips
, but otherwise it looked good.
Hmmm. So there was hope. I decided I would check it out if I had nothing better to do.
Sunday rolled around and the itch was back. When we got back to our hotel room at 7:15 p.m., I told Mom and Brian I would check it out.
"It'll probably suck," I told them, already cloaking my hopes.

When I got there, I was excited to see some double doors opening to a meeting room. I peeked inside and saw a cheap poker table with 10 middle-aged guys probably struggling with their mid-life crises. It was one table, though, and the waiting list was four deep. Dammit.
"You can help a new dealer while you're waiting," all 10 guys said at once as they looked me over.
This was obviously a regular game, and they were wondering why the hell this 36-year-old guy was walking in on it.
But I did wander over to the other table to help a dealer who was having an incredible time grasping the limits of 3/6.
"It's, um.....3 to call?" she said on the turn numerous times.
No, we corrected her. It's 6 to call.
Then some guy sat down at the table who had never played before. So a conversation like this one quickly took place:
"I'll bet $12"
"OK, um....wait...it's $3 to call."
"Oh. Well, I want to raise."
"Um...it's $3 to call."
"I know, but maybe I want to raise."
"You can't raise. You haven't called yet. I think."
"OK, I call $6. And I raise."
"OK. No, wait, you can't do that. You have to just call if you just say call. And it's $3 to call."
"OK, then, I'll call and raise."
"No, you can't do that either."
"I thought I could raise."
"Wait...you're right, but I think you did it wrong."
After an hour of this, I looked at the floor manager and asked her how long my wait was. She said she would open up a table if five showed up. Thankfully, two younger guys who worked for the Forest Service walked in. The government, mostly jobs like those, was the biggest employer in Susanville.
Five-handed limit poker sucks, basically. Most of the pots were small, and there just wasn't much action. I was about to go home when two ladies sat at the table as well as a Native American named George, and suddenly, we had a lot more action than even the "big kids" table.
My first big hand came with A-K. I raise, got two callers from the loosest players at the table, i.e. complete donks. Truth be told, most of the players were not good at all. It was pretty typical limit poker.
I scooped a huge pot when the K-high flop held up for me and I was on my way.
Of course I took tough beats. I flopped two pair three times and lost all three times, two times to flopped straights. Thankfully I didn't lose a whole lot on all three of them, but later it cost me a nice pot when I folded two pair, thinking I was so smart, and it would have won. That was the worst hand I played all night and really my only big mistake.
When I finally did move to the "big" table, I had a few good hands, including a flopped full house with 4-3 (it was sooted!), a flopped set of threes that turned into a full house on the river and tripped up another guy (trips, of course, are golden, so the pot was capped on the river) and a flopped straight with 7-8.
I also won a 6-12 kill pot with K-10 on a 10-high flop. I called the hand before the flop and bet on the flop and the turn and river. I was never raised once by the woman to my left. Another 10 came on the river, and when I bet, she said, "You'd better have trip 10s." Well, I did. What did she think I had?
She flipped over K-K.
"God dammit. That's not very nice," she said. "I always get screwed on the river."
This is what I call the Ballad of the Mediocre Limit Poker Player. They always feel sorry for themselves.
Sure, I sucked out, but she never did anything to prevent it, either. Remember, this was a kill pot, so she actually had a little ammo to work with. Had she raised me pre-flop or on the turn, I might have considered folding because she was a tight player and the board did look a little dangerous, even if it did stay 10-high.
But she just called, and here came the banjo on the river when the chips were pushed my way.
We all love playing with players who believe that it's the cards, and not their actions, that determine when the chips come their way. It's what we like to call the mashed potatoes of the chicken fried dinner. At least I like to call it that.
But their complaining and bitching and whining does get old. I suppose it's a small price to pay. LIke having to listen to Slaughter before Ozzy hits the stage.
It was 1:30 a.m., and my ears and eyes had had enough. It was time to go home. I was leaving money on the table by leaving, but then again, in a 3-6 game with dozens of callers on every hand, maybe I was saving money by leaving too.
I left with $105. Not bad for a few hours of low-limit poker.
But the best part was the fact that poker really is everywhere these days. It was a fun, friendly game, even if it was in a little dinky casino, and even if it was in Susanville, Calif.
I enjoyed playing with them and playing the game.
Almost as much as taking their money.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A fan's lament

I am a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs. I grew up with them. Many times you can't pick your teams. They pick you. That's OK. I've loved them for many years.
But if you were in my shoes, do you have even one reason to pay attention this year? Larry Johnson on my fantasy squad doesn't even qualify, I think.
Good luck this year boys. See you next year when you actually have NFL players on your squad.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A song for my Grandfather

Probably the one thing I could not give up, ever, even if my doctor said my stomach would treat it like battery acid, or it made my face grow green, itchy splotches, is ice cream.
Ice cream is definitely my desert island dessert. I would find a way to make it out of coconuts. And I hate coconuts.
And I owe my love of ice cream to my grandfather.
I am flying home from a four-day trip with Mom and my brother to see him. I can't remember the last time I saw him. I really think it's been 15 years, but honestly it was probably longer than that.
You should probably know something about me if you're one of the four loyal fans who read this blog with any regularity (and declining by the day, from the looks of the comments lately). And that is personal relationships aren't as much of a priority with me as they should be.
They aren't as much of a priority for Grandpa Brooker, either. He lived in the mountains near Janesville, Calif. (heard of it? I didn't think so) for many years, surrounded by deer and lizards and scratchy brush for miles on every side. His neighbors could have been writing a screed against the American government and no one would know, even by today's standards, which make you remove your shoes before you board an airplane (really, is there anything stupider than this law?).
That's not to say that I don't enjoy people, I do. And that's also not to say Grandpa didn't love us. He did. And that's not to say that we didn't miss each other. We did. But we fell out of touch.
I was no longer a child, and as a result (probably a sad result), I didn't take vacations with my family anymore. He lived in California, along with many of my relatives, and I preferred to spend what little summer vacation I had with my father climbing mountains in Colorado. This was especially true after my parents got divorced, as it was the only time my father and I really bonded together.
I can talk to my mother for hours on the phone, but I need something with my Dad to bring us together. Most sons do, I think. That's probably the biggest reason why hunting and fishing still thrives.
It's ironic because in many ways I think Grandpa Brooker was my favorite grandparent. I loved my Grandma England, but that's partly because she spoiled us with sugar cereal and trips to Disneyland, and she was sweet, too, and kids always need that. I loved my other two grandparents, too, but there was just something about Grandpa.
Maybe it was his place, a haven for little explorers like me. Even then, I had the urge to get outside and tromp around the hills. I would spend hours coming up with ways to catch one of those lizards that swarmed around his property. I tried loopholes, snare traps and scrambling as fast as I could after them with my bare hands.
I was, of course, rarely successful. I remember finally catching one and freaking out because I was so excited to get my Holy Grail and because I did not consider what to do with it after I caught it.
Grandpa was the first person I told about the squirming prize I held in my hand.
Maybe it was the way he slept in his pop-up trailer in the back with us, even when it was pretty damn cold at night and those rickety cots tortured his back like the CIA. He always did fun stuff like that with us.
Maybe it was the way he watched out for us, sometimes grudgingly but always with love. I love ice cream because when I was just a toddler, my parents used to get me a sugar cone when we went out for ice cream.
Grandpa, of course, was horrified at this. My parents protested that I was perfectly happy with a sugar cone, that I didn't know any better, that ice cream is messy.
He wouldn't hear of it. He made sure my cone had ice cream. I took my first bite, and as my Dad said, "My face lit up, and that was it."
Well, yeah.
But I think it was because Grandpa seemed the most, well, human. He was one of us, really. He said "damn" a lot. Like, a lot, to the point where my parents just gave up on us hearing it. When I played Cribbage with him, he would mutter "Oh, you got another damn point, do ya?"
He laughed a lot, almost all the time, and it was real, a mixture of scratch and loose liquid and a priceless sense of wiseass that he helped me forge even when I could barely talk.
That laugh, of course, also came from his addiction to cigarettes, a reminder that he wasn't perfect and something he discussed openly. He also loved to gamble at slot machines, and even when he did it frequently, he was careful to make sure we knew that the money he always seemed to win at them didn't always flow freely.
Grandparents, or my grandparents, at least, never really seem as human to us as they should. They're too perfect and they spoil us and offer us fun stuff to do and play with and eat.
I was shocked later to learn that Grandmother England, who loved us dearly and was one of the best grandmothers I knew, was a hard, stingy mother with a spending problem who rarely doled out love for her own kids.
But I was never stunned to learn about Grandpa Brooker's dark side because, well, he didn't have much of one, for one thing, and he never really hid what he did have from us. He cursed and gambled a bit and muttered about everyone else's driving and was crotchety and fun at the same time.
He is still all those things, even at 92. He's got to be the only 92-year-old I know who can still live on his own. He made comments on my driving as he worked our way up to his old house - he lives in a trailer now in Susanville, Calif., just down the road - and he still laughs a lot, though it's interrupted by his desperate puffs of oxygen he carries with him everywhere. He says "damn" all the time.
It was a great visit, and though I did not talk to him much face-to-face, I loved listening to him. He laughed at me too. When I made yet another wiseass remark, something I do because it's all I really know how to do well in conversation, he turned to my mother.
"Is he staying until Monday?" He was only half-kidding.
I learned a lot about him this time as well through stories that wouldn't have interested me when I was busy chasing lizards. He fought in the Navy and had to leave two young kids, including my mother, to battle the Japanese. He once spent several months looking for work in Alaska and considered moving his family up there, until he was stranded in a snowstorm and pitched the whole idea once he escaped the winter prison.
He's also more sentimental now.
A few months ago, he sent me a card, with a letter about the weather and what else is going on with his life (not much, really, to be honest), and he included "a little green" for "maybe some ice cream." I smiled at that. The card, a long poem about wishing he could say more things and be closer to us, was along to "express himself."
I called him a few times before my visit, and that's something I'll continue to do. I want to remember this visit for a long time.
I did not think visiting was important, but visiting, really, is the only way you can unlock all the old memories about someone. I had forgotten about the lizards or the camping trips we used to take or the games of Cribbage we used to play.
I will remember them now, I hope, forever.
Especially the first night we saw him, when we made a trip to a little cafe for dinner. Grandpa looked at my brother and I after we ordered and grinned at us.
I had Chocolate.

Monday, September 08, 2008

My first story for Truckin'

I wanted to write a story on the most memorable mountain trip, and Truckin' seemed the perfect place for it. Thanks to Pauly for publishing it. I hope you enjoy it. It's the last one on the list.

1. Feline Existentialism by Paul McGuire
You're only one step away from nothingness. Your mere existence is utterly meaningless. What has more value? The zit on the ass cheek of Bono, or a religious missionary that has been burned alive by tribal elders?

2. A Different God by Nick Cantwell
The slow walk along the dusty path was always a time for reflection. Reflection on his life, his family and his standing. But as ever, his thoughts turned to his loss. His daughter had only been nine when the disease had taken her. And since that day, he had walked the same path three or four times a day. Asking questions. And hoping to receive answers...

3. One Night Out Part III: 120 Minutes in Sodom by Sigge S. Amdal
A show came on and six little dancers brushed past us from the dressing room. Barely legal naked nymphs with eyes too predatory for my liking. Reptile folk with nice legs, ripe breasts and hands long into your pockets. The moment our over-priced beer arrived, in slender glasses akin to lab equipment, my phone rang...

4. Fatty McLiaraon by Bob Respert
Emily and I had been talking for quite some time over an instant messenger on the computer. Her in ski-country and me in the suck-belt. Ugh, the Midwest. What a fucking dump. Nice job basing almost your entire future existence on the American factory worker and his union. Well played, Midwest. I can see the abandoned factories now...

5. Journey of 35,000 Miles Began with One Bong Hit by Rob Hogan
I was surrounded by a room full of strangers who shared in my pathetic tales of a failed marriage, while enthralling me with their own stories of bad relationships and piss poor decisions. It was an instant camaraderie that connected us on the most basic of human levels. For once in my sad excuse for a life, I felt like I belonged..

6. The Long Last Walk On The Edge by Dan England
The ridge looked like the back of a stegosaurus. It was long and thin, yet it also had many long, technical towers about three times our size that we would have to climb over. And once we got on the ridge, there was no getting off. No wonder many climbers considered it the toughest ridge in all of Colorado...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

California Dreamin'

I've associated my grandparents with fun vacations, rather than the loving role models that many others know of their grandparents.
We took trips out to see them every other year, but those were trips to California, and they only lasted a couple weeks. We rarely saw them. And because I was a kid, I associated seeing them with special treats, like the sugar cereal Grandma England used to buy us when we were staying at her place.
My mother's parents had a cabin in the mountains, so going there meant chasing lizards, exploring the rocky forest beyond his house and sleeping in a trailer outdoors with Grandpa. We got to see deer. We camped out in the woods and saw the stars.
My father's parents lived near Los Angeles, so going there meant the beach, Disneyland, Universal Studios, that sort of thing.
I did love my grandparents, and they loved me, but as I prepare for Friday's trip out to see my last living grandfather with Mom and my brother, I realize how much I've missed.
I haven't seen him for many, many years.
I'll be out there for four days, and there is a carrot. Our hotel is near a Casino, and Mom has made it clear that I would have not one, just two nights, of live poker. Grandpa, after all, is 91 and goes to bed early.
But I'm also going out there to rekindle the good times before he's gone for good.