Thursday, August 23, 2012
It was another busy weekend for the Millers. We did our usual loop through our two families, but with a twist. This trip included a family reunion with Beth’s Family in Van Nuys.
Trip to the Beach
Before heading to the reunion we made a quick stop in Atascadero to see my mom before she goes back to school in Berkeley. Mom had a Craniosacral appointment in cayucos so Beth and I took the opportunity to go to the beach. First we stopped at Duckie’s fro fish and chips and clam chowder.
We went to Morro Strand State beach and walked a couple miles down the shore. The tide was way out when we were there. Beth spent her walk collecting sand dollars which were plentiful. We also found an abalone shell. At the end of the beach there were some large rocks the low tide had left unusually well exposed. It was fun to see all the tidal creatures buttoned up waiting for the surf to return. One species in particular, the Gooseneck Barnacles were fun to play with. When disturbed they hunch their necks up tight, so rubbing a hand over the formation causes them to all scrunch together. The effect is hard to describe but fun to watch.
We tried to stay on the coast for dinner, but the tourists have not yet gone home for the summer and our favorite place – Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant – was all booked. Instead we ate at a sushi restaurant in Atascadero. Times have certainly changed. When I was growing up there no one would have dreamed that there would be a sushi place in Atascadero, much less that our family would choose to go there. We finished off the evening with ice cream at Cold Stones. There they have a wall of fame for Atascadero High School Athletics. I was surprised how many people on that wall I knew.
A Hilltop Reunion
The reunion with Beth’s Dad’s family took place at in Van Nuys in a gated development and at the top at an enormous hill overlooking the San Fernando Valley. Along with Doris and Harvey and their four children and families was Harvey’s brother Ralph and his three daughters with accompanying spouses a few children and grandchildren. Someone needed to sell programs. Many of these people had not seen each other in twenty years, and most of us in-laws had never met the other side of the family.
The highlight of the day was getting Harvey and Ralph to sit down and tell stories.
The highlight of the day was getting Harvey and Ralph to sit down and tell stories. Someone had the good sense to bring a recorder so there will be more than just memories of the day. I’m afraid that I personally spent most of my time with the other in-laws who always seem to hang out together at things like this. Sort of an “I married a Bondurant” support group.
Speaking of in-laws, there is a new one in the works. Beth sister Janice is engaged to a wonderfully funny guy who she met in theater. That is actually saner than it sounds. They are both actors and clearly enjoy each others presence a lot. The in-law to be holds down a regular – that is non-theater – job as an activities director at a memory care facility in Bakersfield, where he enjoys entertaining the Seniors as much as he does the audience on stage. On the other hand his employer likely would not appreciate some of what he does outside of work hours, and as he has worked hard to keep his name out of Google, I will not spoil things by mentioning it here. (You know who you are m’lord)
The other exciting news is that Beth’s niece, Madeline, and her husband, White Eagle, have purchased a house in bakersfield. They are now experiencing some of the same joys and frustration of home ownership that we went through. White Eagle has a good job at the family business, a metal fabrication shop and they are sharing the place with his brother. We didn’t make it back in time to go visit, but the picture look nice.
Most of the family left about 3:00 but a few of us stuck around to hang out with the three Aunts (cousins actually from our perspective) and their mother. We had a good time talking about the family and why different people are the way they are. The best part for me however was the chance to be open about my favorite baseball team. Most of my close friends (and anyone who looks at the sidebar of this blog) knows I am a fan of the LA Dodgers. Living just 90 miles from San Francisco, that is not something I can be overly open about without taking a few jab from the hordes of Giants fans. (Especially after they swept the dodger in a 3 game series this week.) We could share stories about going to games and hearing Vin Scully’s play-by-play echo from all the transistor radios, or stories about where we were when Kirk Gibson hit the homerun. It was just nice to be a Dodger fan among others.
We actually left later then we ought to have, and only the rapidly setting sun and the prospect of having to drive down that astonishing hill in the dark finally got us out the door. We did have to go over the Grapevine in the dark, however. It has been years since I have been over that particular stretch of road, and I think this is the first time I have been the one driving. It is fast, the lanes are narrow, and the semis have no regard for human life, but we made it back to Bakersfield alright, and even managed a stop at In-n-Out burger.
Odds and Ends
We spent Sunday evening at Beth’s folks house and to spite our good intentions of getting an early(ish) start we didn’t actually make it out the door until after 2:00. In part that was because Beth wanted to start sorting through the stuff she still has at her parents house. Doris and Harvey are going to move closer to town next year, and before then all the stuff in that has been stored in their house need to find a new place to be. It was said a number of times at the reunion that the Bondurants are collectors (or pack-rats depending on who was in earshot) and there are whole rooms full of odds that need to find their ends.
It wasn’t all work however. We did sit down and enjoy a couple games of Rummikub together. I am amazed how many people play this game - which perhaps deserves a blog post of its own. we taught it to Doris and Janice, and it has become a favorite for them. White Eagle’s family plays it with fervor, I’m told and even Janice’s fiancé plays.
Our ride home was quite an uneventful, except for the fact that we took 99 home instead of I5. There was construction on I5 just North of Bakersfield and the signs said to expect 60- to 90-minute delays. 99 is actually marginally shorter, but takes longer because it goes through the middle of so many cities in the valley where the speed limit drops to 65 or even 55. On the other hand there is certainly more to look at. We made it home just before dark, unpacked the car and had dinner then went to bed. It is amazing how tiring it is to just sit in a car for five hours. The treasures we brought home from Bakersfield have been stacked behind the couch. I’m lobbying for a trip to Ikea to buy some shelving.
The rest of this week has been busy at work which is why this post is so late in coming. Rather than try to write any more I will simply hit the post button…