About My Dad …

This is my dad walking me down the aisle (why am I being carried down the aisle on Cleopatra's couch? That's a story for another day ...)

Funny thing: my last post was about religion and my family, but it was especially about my dad who did not believe in organized religion and who, without knowing it and for better or worse, formed my relationship with religion, God and spirituality in general.  Sprite’s Keeper “assigned” this topic in Spin Cycle and without that assignment, believe me, I would have NEVER come to write about it and, thus, would not have  made the realization that I did while writing it … to wit: my dad is true to what he believes and he Does. Not. Waver.

Last Friday, my dad died very, very unexpectedly.  Shock, sadness, regret, longing and sorrow have been my constant companions since the moment that my brother called me and said, gently but succinctly, that dad was “gone.”   But, to my surprise, I have also walked hand in hand with feelings of love, happiness, gratitude and profound joy with the life that he helped me create, the really wonderful times we shared with him and the lessons about loyalty and love that he left behind.   I miss him very much.

My dad LOVED backpacking and went on long trips with his brothers and others until he had to get "that damn hip" replaced. Then, alas, it was no more.

He even loved it when he was this young ...

... and we were this little.

He loved to build things. This was his first "house," which he built for me and my sister. Later he built two real ones for my mom.

Another big love? Fishing ...

He's been doing that for a long time, too. I mentioned that he was consistent, didn't I?

He was an excellent brother ...

... and was especially fond of this little one who came along rather unexpectedly when my dad was 12.

And they've all stayed friends forever.

Even their wives like each other.

And speaking of wives, he picked this cutie up when she was just 17 and he was 19. He was in the Marine Corps and she was in high school. Odds of success? Very low ...

But somehow, it worked out well ...

They kept at it ...

57 years worth ... aren't they cute?

As a father, he provided love and support ...

Good times in exotic locales ...

Companionship in the simplest ways ...

And once a year, the most delicious smoked turkey ever.

But it was as a grandad that he really, really excelled. This is what the first few weeks of my son's life looked like. Crying baby + dad = sleeping baby.

Hand him a baby that looks like this?

And a few minutes later, the baby looks like this. Must have had something to do with that deep, broadcast quality voice.

He was always up for playing ...

Or reading ...

Or teaching ...

Or simply being there when something exciting was happening, like my son's nursery school graduation.

He was a beautiful boy ...

And a lovely, intelligent, thoughtful man ...

He will be missed by many. Love you, dad.

Spin Cycle: Religion and Me (Or, Is There Anybody Out There?)

I have a very strange relationship to religion and here’s a little snapshot of the possible genesis (get it?  Genesis?  I’m killing myself here!) of that relationship.  My mom’s family is Jewish but she was raised Episcopalian.  My dad’s family are Christian Scientists.  Add three kids and voila!  Atheists!

Here’s a picture of me the first time I went to church when my parents were about 25 years old and still trying to do the 1960s church thing (Episcopalian Church, in case anyone is taking notes):

My Christening, 1963

This event happened at my Grandmother’s Episcopalian Church.  I’m pretty sure we never went back there. I’m also pretty sure that once all three of us kids had our baptismal insurance policies sealed up, my dad never went back to any church of any kind, ever.

You see, my dad worships at the altar of science.  He is an aerospace engineer who believes that religion was invented to keep the rabble in line, to make foolish people do the right thing out of fear.  He was noisy and scornful about his dislike of religion and his lack of belief in anything larger than what he could see with his own eyes. He thought his parents were crazy, weak and deluded.   They were, by the way, incredibly awesome grandparents.  Here’s a picture:

That's my grandparents in the back with my great grandmother seated between me and my sister ... we are, of course, wearing matching coats.

But I digress.  We were talking about religion.

As far as my mom is concerned, I think she simply gave up on organized religion.  Hauling three kids to church while my dad mowed the lawn, watched football and drank Coors must’ve sucked.   For my part, I went to church here and there over the years, dipping my toe into the Christian, Methodist and Episcopalian ponds but nothing stuck.  In the end, my dad’s voice was always louder than God’s.

Fast forward to today … thanks to a degree in English Lit (there’s a lot of bible in there, my friends), a little 12 stepping and the books of spiritual teachers like Pema Chodron, I actually do believe that there is something larger than me at play.  In moments of calm, I might even call that thing God.  Church still eludes me, though.  Unfortunately, the judgmental misanthrope inside of me rears up and rebels every single time.

A few years ago, Liam had a babysitter who underwent a spiritual awakening if you will and her incessant yammering about Jesus and whatnot made him start asking about going to church.  We tried out a couple (Science of Mind and Unitarians) but, frankly, we all decided that we like going to the beach or for a nice long hike on Sundays… and really, that is a church of sorts if you look at it from the right angle.


Palos Verdes

Mineral King

And p.s.: Now that my parents are in their 70s, my mom finally strapped on her “screw you” attitude and joined the Episcopalian church in their Texas town.  She is in hog heaven, cross stitching name tags for new members, running bake sales and delivering meals to the homebound and whatnot.  For his part, my dad has morphed but little:  he is watching football, fishing and drinking Heineken.

And you know what?  In the end, here’s what I can say I really learned from my dad about religion: To thine own self be true (and yes, I know that’s Shakespeare, but you get the idea…).

Thanks, Sprite’s Keeper, for bringing up this topic.  It was going to be a long, long time before I got to this on my blog!  Now go on over and see what the other girls are bringing to the bake sale!

Sometimes You Just Have to Let Their Dad Handle Things

Fun Sunday morning activity at our house.  I had to leave the premises … seriously, it takes cajones to give a 7 year old a box of matches and stand back and watch.   I do not have cajones.

It started off small enough ...

After a LOT of instruction about how to light, hold and place the matches ...

This is actually where I cut out but  I came back in time to see the traditional Fire Dance …

See? It all works out ... at least this time it did. *whew* I need a Xanax.

RTT: What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Okay, so I haven’t posted in awhile.  A long while, actually.  76 days, to be exact.  So would you like to know what I’ve been up to? Summer was pretty eventful …

I spent a lot of time with these two characters on the beach.  It was a gloomy summer here this year but we had a few good ‘uns.  We also spent a lot of time hanging out by the pool at our friends’ new house in the Valley but, sadly, no photos.  Must have something to do with the Vanilla Vodka Lemonades.

Our friends from Australia came for a visit. This is Robin. We are about to go drinking out to dinner. It was a long night but we still look pretty respectable here.

This is how Liam entertained their girls during their visit.  One iPad for you, one iTouch for me … *sigh*

We went to Sequoia National Forest and hiked in Mineral King. Here is Liam in front of a seriously massive tree.  I have eleventy-gajillion more pictures of this trip but I’ll spare you.

Jud and I went to Ibiza, Spain and danced our arses off for a whole week while some of the best DJs in the whole world did their DJ thing.  Tiesto, Armin, David Guetta … perfection.  It was absolutely gorgeous in Ibiza.  We took a lot of self portraits. This is one.

Here’s another. We’re on our way to dinner at midnight.  That’s what everyone does in Spain.  There were toddlers at the next table.  Eating at midnight.  Go figure.

We went to Vegas for Labor Day. As you can imagine, there was hardly anyone else there.  This is my husband in heaven at our cabana at the Encore Beach Club. We had a most outstanding time there with our besties!

I caved and bought the black iPhone 4 since the white one is coming out, apparently, never … and that was just too long for me.  It was love at first sight. I swear, I almost kissed the FedEx dude when he brought it to my door.  I think I scared him a little.

Then school started. Bummer. I seriously enjoy the little guy. Now someone else gets to listen to him talk all day.

In other news (and this is where the Random Tuesday Thoughts really begin), this is what I came home to yesterday afternoon. A gigantic bird of paradise bouquet in the green waste container. Kind of pretty in a weird way.

Unfortunately, I soon found out that this is the donor of all those leaves. My husband completely mugged my bird of paradise so that more light would come into our den. WTF? He left, like, three leaves. Also, yes, my house is green. Very green. So green that my neighbor moved in protest. I’m THAT neighbor.

Big story on Yahoo News today … Crystal Renn, who is what’s called a “Plus Size Model” in this crazy world, is walking the runway for Zac Posen.  Here’s her gushing about him:

“He wants women to be able to fit [into his clothes] and to be able to buy them. They’re making the clothes for my size and everything.”

Are you f-ing kidding me?  If she’s bigger than a size 8, I’m a monkey’s rump.  Again I say, WTF?

Seriously? Really? Plus Size?

And finally – and then I’ll let you go, I promise – thanks to everyone who called and/or wrote to ask me what the hell with the whole blogging thing and what was with the long hiatus and seriously, you can’t write a few posts over the summer?  Anyway, I enjoyed the vote of confidence.  Seriously, thanks.

Now, go on over and check out more random goodness at Keely’s place.  Skat!

I’m Having a Weepfest! Care to Join Me?

This is the sweetest thing I have ever seen. We should all be loved like this…

If you’re using Firefox, you might need to watch it the old fashioned way … by clicking here.

Oh, and here’s the story behind it.

Wordless Wednesday: I’m Going To Need To Get Myself A Hobby

Because this boy doesn’t really need me anymore.   Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that he will sit in an armchair and read while I shop at Anthropologie but still … he’s 7 years old!  I just thought I’d get a little more time …

Wordless Wednesday is sponsored by 5 Minutes for Mom among others.  Go on over and check out some more (easy to read) Wordless Wednesdays!