She Has a Face Like Me

For some reason I was really struck by this exchange that I overheard at the park a few days ago. There was a young boy, maybe 6 or 7 or, at most, 8 years old. And he got separated from his mom. And he couldn’t find her and he was getting anxious.

This older child – a teenager – was trying to help the boy (very sweet of the teenager, that), and the teen asked the boy, “Ok, we’ll find your mom, what does she look like?”

And the boy responded “She was wearing black, and she has a face like me.”

Now, this boy was Asian. And his words struck me, and stuck with me. And I’m still not sure why they have continued to echo in my mind, but they have. There was at once a sort of prideful belongingness, and a defining separateness, ringing in those words. And I wondered whether it was the difference from so many of the faces around him, or the unique sameness of a related face in a sea of primarily Hispanic, Indian, and Caucasian faces, that prompted his description – a description that at once both smacked of the naivete of an innocent child – and yet was a damned brilliant way to quickly convey what his mom looked like.

In any event, bravo for both him, and the teen that went to his aid.

Our Copperopolis Anniversary – Staying at Saddle Creek in Copperopolis

As you know from earlier posts, this was our copper anniversary. What you, and my husband, didn’t know, was that part of my gift to him this year was an overnight trip to historic Copperopolis, home of the copper rush in California, staying at the gorgeous Saddle Creek resort. Yes, there was a copper rush in California, and indeed it was extremely important. At one point in time, Copperopolis supplied a majority of the copper needed for the Civil War, in fact.

I’d booked us a bungalow at Saddle Creek – a golfing resort next door to Copperopolis. No, we don’t golf, but that doesn’t matter. Saddle Creek is absolutely amazing in its own right.

These were the views from the sitting area right outside our bungalow door:

And if those don’t convince you that we were just this side of heaven, check out these – taken just outside our door near sunset:

The public areas of Saddle Creek are amazing too! Here is the lodge:

Here’s a view of our room:

And this is Reid, the bungalow manager, bringing cookies to our room as part of our turndown service! How awesome is that?! In fact, Reid, and all of the staff at Saddle Creek, were just wonderful, and so helpful! They really made this such a wonderful experience from start to finish!:

I should also mention that the restaurant was excellent – and the prices very reasonable for what you get. Nice atmosphere, excellent food – decent prices. What more could you ask for?

Now, let’s turn our attention to Copperopolis proper. Copperopolis, as I mentioned, is where the copper rush started in California. As it turns out, the good citizens of Calaveras County, where Copperopolis was eventually founded, called all that red stuff in the ground “iron rust”. They had no idea that it was copper ore. It wasn’t until one Hiram Hughes happened by, and noticed the similarity to similar ore lodes in Nevada with which he was familiar, that the fact that the area was rich in copper became known. Hughes staked a claim (named the Napoleon claim, for his son, William Napoleon Bonaparte Hughes (yes, really), and the rush was on.

Copperopolis, originally called “Copper Canyon”, and then changed to Copperopolis a year or so later, went from a copper claim on a hill to a booming mining town. During the civil war Copperopolis supplied a majority of copper for the war effort.

All that is left now is a few of the original buildings – the church, the armory (now used as the Copperopolis community center), and the Copper Consolidated Mining Company Office (now home to an olive oil company and the Copperopolis Internet company).

The folks are really friendly – in fact they were having a town crab feed in the Armory when we happened by, and they came out and invited us in to join them!

Here are some pictures from historic Copperopolis:

There is an excellent page on the history of Copperopolis here.

My New Girl!

Did you all see yesterday’s picture of the day? I am so excited! I have finally got the old Volvo 240 wagon that I have been wanting for years!

Oh sure, being part of the Silicon Valley SUV driving club has been fun – especially as we are so not that type – I don’t wear velour sweatsuits and drive one-handed while talking on my blinged-out cell phone held in a hand tipped by 1-inch nails which are only slighly less fake than the unnaturally firm and ample chest which is bulging out of a spandex sport shirt cut at once both too low and too high.

But I’d been longing for an old Volvo wagon for years. They are much more to my scale (I being rather petite), and to my general gestalt. I’m a hippy from way back. I’d rather wear tie-dye than a tie, I’d rather be in jeans or a flowing gauzy skirt than a suit (although I used to cut quite the figure in court in a mini-skirt suit ..and then there was the black leather mini with The Boots ™.. but I digress).

And practically speaking I’d been wanting an old Volvo wagon because they are sturdy as tanks, go forever, and you can haul a lot of stuff in ’em.

Anyways, when we realized that driving the Explorer was contributing to the length of time it was taking my back to heal, as the size and seat were all wrong for me, I moved this dream from the back to the front burner, and started looking in earnest for my “old Volvo wagon”.

I knew just what I wanted – a late 80s (but a ’90 would be ok) Volvo 240 DL wagon. And so that is on what I focused my search. I’d actually been looking on and off for about 2 years, just not quite so seriously. In fact, I’d gone to see two Volvos during that time, and test driven one. But in all the ads I’d seen, the look-sees I’d done, none of them were “it”.

I hadn’t really looked in a few months when I turned up the heat last week and added the Craigslist “volvo 240 wagon” search to my RSS feed (geek!)

And then, there she was. I knew from the moment that I read the Craigslist posting that she was the one.

1990 240 DL wagon
5 speed manual transmission
roof rack
single owner, lovingly maintained

Reluctantly being sold because she had been made extraneous by children growing up and moving away, and the inheritance of a smaller, but equally nostalgic car.

She was everything I’d wanted and hoped for in an old Volvo wagon.

I was sure that she must already be gone – surely someone would have staked a claim in the day or so that the post was up before I saw it. And indeed, someone had staked a claim.

But as luck would have it, that someone’s teenaged daughter, for whom he intended to buy her, refused to learn to drive a stick.

Stupid girl.

My teenaged daughter learned to drive on a stick.

And has in later years thanked me for it.

Any right-thinking person knows that sticks are much better for any number of reasons.

And much more fun to drive.

And so, thanks to kismet, fate, luck, the alignment of the planets, and teenage stubborness, she’s mine, mine, all mine. Muwahahahaah.

We took her out for our first family drive yesterday.

And it was good.

Oh sure, the SUV has a lot of fond memories. Many many.

My husband proposed to me from the backseat of that SUV.

We spent a great deal of our courtship driving in that SUV, with our Brady Bunch family of 3 dogs in the back, driving to Big Sur, Pismo, Carmel and the likes.

We spent the first night on our new land in that SUV. (It was also the last night we spent on that land, but that’s another story.)

My husband sped me to the hospital while I was in very hard painful labour in that SUV. Hitting every single goddamned bump at 80 mph along the way.

Our son has known no other car. In fact, until yesterday he had ridden in a car other than that SUV exactly three times in his entire life, and that’s including a cab ride.

But still, it was time. If only for the sake of my back.

And I adore my new old Volvo.

Now she needs a name.

Actually a nickname, because I promised the original owner that we would keep her given name – “Eschrichtius robustus” – which is the scientific name for the California grey whale. They called her “Scritchy”.

I’m not so sure about the “Scritchy” part, so we are casting about for a new nickname for our “Eschrichtius robustus”. Grey whales are baleen whales, also known as “Mysticeti”.

So we’re accepting suggestions for nicknames for her. Something female, something related – maybe something slightly Swedish.

I’m sure that something will suggest itself.

In the meantime, we’re having fun driving her.

In case you missed it, here she is:

Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day.

My father passed away unexpectedly in 1989. It was the end of June. I had just graduated from university, and it was the week that I was packing and moving out to California for law school. I lived in Buffalo, and my father lived near Seattle.

I had seen him just a few weeks before. He had made the trip – not easy for him – out to Buffalo to see me graduate, and to see me accepted in to Phi Beta Kappa. That was very important to him, and he was so proud of me. He himself had graduated Summa from Princeton – no slouch was he.

He had stayed with me, and attended my graduation, and my going away party. I had surprised him by turning that party into a birthday party for him, as his birthday had been just a few weeks earlier. When they wheeled the cake in, which said “Happy Birthday” in Russian (my father had been a Russian translator for most of his adult life, even though he was neither Russian nor had even learned Russian until he was an adult), it was a lovely surprise.

We also had a wonderful, deep talk during that visit. A talk in which I told him how much he meant to me – what a wonderful father he had been and how much he had given me. He hadn’t thought so at all. I made sure he knew. Knew that I loved him dearly, and appreciated those things he had given to me – which I listed for him: a passion for reading, the skill and knowledge of proper use of our language – both spoken and written, a love of classical music, the ability to read and play music, and an appreciation of art.

I had been so excited that I was going to live so much closer to him. I dreamed of the day that I would be a law school graduate, well-employed, and able to help him out. To take care of him.

And then, he was gone.

When the phone rang in the middle of the night that night, I already knew. I won’t say how I knew – that’s a story for another time – perhaps – but I knew. I was already in tears (as, indeed, I am now). I didn’t want to take the call, but of course not taking the call wouldn’t change anything. As I hung up the phone, my first thought was “now I’m an orphan.”

But my very next thought – even in that unspeakable anguish of having just lost a parent, was “I’m so grateful that we had that talk.”

I cannot begin to express how very grateful I was, and am, that I had the chance to say those things to him, and that I said them to him when I did. Because if I hadn’t then, I would never have had the chance. And he would have gone to his grave thinking that he was a terrible father. That might have been his last thought as he sank to the ground (which he did) – that he had failed his daughter.

Instead, he went knowing that I loved him and thought him a wonderful father, who had given me some of the most important things in life.

I am so very grateful for that.

And damn it, if you haven’t said these things – these most important of things – to your father, now, while you can, then do it. Now.

Because at any moment it could be too late.

Bad Mom

Today I lost it. It’s true, and I’m ashamed to admit it, but I lost it. Months of being laid up and impeded with an injured back, having had no time – at all – to myself, everybody wanting and needing something from me (customers, employees, my husband, my children – I mean, I love them all – well, ok, I love my huband and my children) and I have had literally zero time for myself.

And so I lost it.

And I said a bad word, and it traumatized our son.

The bad word that I said was “damn”.

Now, I feel terrible for how upset our son was. But even through the haze of my guilt, I have to wonder if this highlights a ray of hope – does the fact that the word “damn” was such a dramatic departure from my usual language and demeanor mean that I’m actually not that bad a mom?

But Honey, the Law Says That I HAVE to To Watch All Those Nubile, Naked Teenagers!

Now here’s an interesting twist.

A judge in Virginia last week upheld a law which requires parents to accompany their teenage children to an all-teen nudist camp as a condition of the teen being allowed to attend.

The judge said “the presence of parents or guardians at the summer camp would not interfere with the children’s ability to enjoy themselves.”

Ok, obviously this judge never had, or was, a teenager.

But what a boon for the parents! It’s better than being ordered to read Penthouse or watch the Playboy channel! What will our whacky judiciary think of next?

Putting the “juice” in Brahmastra juice

We’re all sick here at Chez Devil. That yukky crud kinda sick where your sinuses pound and you cough up a lung an hour. Yuck.

So what to do? Well, I’m going to share a little secret with you.

Back during my ashram days, which were somewhere between my street days and my army days, I learned to make something called “Brahmastra juice”. This is some kicking stuff which will help to clear out your sinuses, and a few others things as well. It’s great when you have a cold. Try it!

Mix the juice of 3 lemons with a thumb of fresh ginger, cut into chunks, 3 cups of water, and a teaspoon (more or less to tolerance) of cayenne pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes or so, and add a bit of honey to sweeten it just a bit.

Now drink it.

It should make you sweat.

It *will* clear your sinuses.

Make it for your loved ones. They’ll accuse you of trying to poison them, until they realize that it *works*.