Friday morning August 28th Rama and I were to fly down to Southern CA for my brother Eric's Saturday wedding. Maddy couldn't go (crappiest thing ever) because her fire academy class had begun and absence was not an option. Thursday evening at work I got the dreaded gut-leadening call from Mom that Dad was in the ER. He'd had some stroke-like word-slurring and she'd called 911. The episode had been brief and he was already back to normal by the time she phoned me, which meant it had likely been another TIA (mini-stroke with no lasting effects), and though that was relatively good news, it definitely did a little number on my pre-vaycay joie de vivre. (I think we're all feeling pretty fragile and PTSD-ed after Dad's West Nile brush with death last October. Also inexpressibly grateful he's here and himself.) Anyway, the hospital decided to keep him overnight for observation with the plan to release him some time the next day if all was still well. I was funkified, but very glad I'd be home with him the next day (again, Maddy not going = most bummerish of bummers). Sleep helped reset me, and the next day dawned lovely. Our flight was early, but not disgustingly so, and we arrived in So-Cal around ten (even at that hour the temp stepping off the plane nearly knocked me over). Auntie Lisa picked us up from Long Beach as a favor to Mom, who had to catch up on work from the day before, and it was nice to visit with her on the ride home. The dogs as usual went adorably nuts, and after the initial hullabaloo Rama and I got comfy in the massive CA king in the back room. We had two fans trained on us and two snuggly dogs, and Rama napped while I made inroads on the second Elena Ferrante book (Emma had rec-ed the first and I'd devoured it in a day). Dad got home with strict orders to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, and Rama and I hit the store to get some alkaline water, beer, and dinner fixin's (Mom made the wise call to ditch the rehearsal and dinner Friday night so Dad could rest up for the main event Saturday). We dropped the groceries by home then hurried to catch beach sunset (I ended up with many pink-sky palm tree pics, all low-lit and grainy alas). Down at the water my wading went too far and I got much more wet than I'd meant to (salty soggy dress and undawear for hours), but I couldn't help myself--the water was insanely warm, I'm talking Hawaii bathtub status. When it was well and truly dark we went to grab what ended up being a heinously watery margarita at Fred's Mexican Cafe on Main and PCH (I mean, what did we expect), and then went on a fruitless hunt for cheap fins (Rama had flown a board and wetsuit down our last visit but had forgotten to include fins). An hour or so later we realized R could borrow fins from our neighbor Dave and we returned home. Mom had been busy during our absence making a shrimp and asparagus gnocchi and turning the backyard into a veritable fairyland of lanterns and candles. We dinned out there--Mom put on Corelli for Dad, who was a trooper for a spell before he deservedly deserted for bed. Rama and I went to try the new two-person hammock Ma had ordered specifically for our visit (the woman is insane), but its wooden bar design made it rock like crazy, and I got immediately extremely motion sick. Nauseated beyond all sense, I crawled into bed with wet towels on my head and spun my way into sleep.
The next morning Rama and I woke up early for pre-wedding dawn patrol.
The beach was garjuhssly golden, and I took pics and then settled down with my book and blanket. R didn't have too much luck surfing (too many folks flocking to catch a hurricane-caused South swell), and when he was done I jumped in with him and then we went home to shower and get gussied. We naturally left the house later than planned and LA traffic was of course total crap. I was supposed to read the Prayer of the Faithful in the ceremony and started bugging out about the time, but thank Christ we made it (with not a minute to spare mind you). The church was very pretty, and it was really sweet seeing my bros all lined up in their suits.
Maria, the bride, was utterly lovely, which is a cliché but she was and is. The ceremony was pretty short considering it was a Catholic affair--there was a little sexist Bible bullshit, but for the most part it was fine and then fin. Eric and Maria cut a striking pair--even with her high, high, high heels he towered over her. They both seemed very happy and earnest.
We took some pics in and then outside the church (Mom's outfit matched the building so well it was nuts), and then went to Karl's and Aliki's to enjoy some AC and homemade tamales until it was reception time.
The reception was at the Sportsmen's Lodge in LA, which was apparently redone semi-recently and is very quiche and hip and kind of Ace-Hotel-like.
There was food, there was drinking followed by dancing, it was obscenely sweltering with zero breeze (Mom brilliantly had brought a pretty painted hand fan which got passed around). Dad gave a succinct and elegant toast that I will try to paraphrase: "Live long enough, hope long enough, love long enough, and there come wonderful days like these. May we all enjoy many more of them." Dude has a way with words.
After some hours back to Karl's and Aliki's. Franz, Rama, and I hopped in the pool and played HORSE. I started out hot and then choked, Rama was just the opposite, and Franz was simply wildly talented. Then bed! The next morning we had Aliki's delish granola and other noms, coffee, mimosas--she really mostest-ed us during our visit. Rama gave some plant advice, I enjoyed my book, Kurt read Dad an awesome article about Vin Scully, Eric and Maria stopped by, and then mid-afternoon we headed back to Huntington. Franz, who had finished his final final Friday and is now officially a college graduate, drove to Riverside to pack up his stuff, and Rama and I met Kurt at the beach so they could surf and boogie board respectively. They did that, and then Rama and I grabbed a better but still pretty sub-par marg at a different Main Street spot (I was never of drinking age in HB, so I'm totes ignorant about the bar scene). We were at BJs waiting for our also sub-par to-go pizzas when I got the news from Mom that she'd found pot paraphernalia and a keg handle in Franz's car (he'd taken the van to Riverside and she was cleaning out his car to be nice). So that was not great, but Mom and Dad took it in stride more or less, and we passed a pleasant enough evening. Another dawn, another patrol. Rama didn't end up surfing but did paperwork while I snuck in a run. It was a beautiful cloudy morning that started to sunny-up when I was done, perfect timing for ye olde post-run swim (which is, for the record, The Best Thing).
I passed the rest of the day deep-cleaning and trying to make some room for the influx of Franz's Riverside stuff. He arrived home and there was the anticipated showdown about the marijuana stuff, which ended less apocalyptically than I was fearing. Dinner was tacos--Yum, Always. The next day was our last. In the afternoon Franz went with Rama and me on a last beach run. The light was awesome and the ocean temp continued to be criminally comfortable. We'd been mostly near the pier this trip because cowabunga, but this time we parked at Magnolia and walked down to the State Beach. That's the spot we usually run from and swim at--it's significantly less crowded than the City Beach and has a more old-school HB feel. It was very fun, but the surf was strong for me. I swam a bit, got tumbled and trounced a handful of times, and, seeing the waves were only getting bigger, headed in. Franz and Rama body-surfed a bit longer, got scolded by a lifeguard for being too far out, then sulkily joined me on the beach.
That night Nanny, Auntie Lisa, Peggy, Rachel, and Kurt came over for pies (berry and coconut cream), and we shot the shit a while, but I was beat and not too late hit it for our crack-of-the-ass flight. It was super sad as always saying bye to Dad and Franz and Marie and the doggies, but on the fun side Mom flew back with us to O-town for a work meeting/little business visit. (Side note: I'd guessed I'd zoom through the second and third Elena Ferrante books during the trip, and as predicted finished the third on the flight back. I'm still not sure what I think of them, but they're certainly compelling and I'm anticipating reading final installment.) Anyway, it's a very cool part of Ma's job that she gets to come stay with us for a few days every couple months. We had an especially fun plan cooked up this time around--a Cat Power concert and camping in Santa Cruz. We headed down Friday afternoon--early enough to beat the traffic--and hit up our campground.
Pretty much everything was booked for Labor Day weekend, but Romz had landed us a site at Bob's Pine Grove. I started with Murder Time the minute we pulled up the weird little driveway (also, you go into the owners' house to register), and then we saw our site, a corner spot fenced off with chain link from a railroad track hobo-superhighway on the side and a wooded vagrant encampment at the back. There was an open gate in the corner (not) separating our campsite from all this wonderment, which Mom and Rama immediately peeped and padlocked (of course Rama has a spare Masterlock in his car--the man is Prepared). It was, in a word, sketch. Maddy and I for our part laughed our asses off over all kinds of silliness while we got set up--it was fun.
Rama, because he is an angel, had bought a new air mattress for my mom to use (which R and I have since ourselves enjoyed on an outing or two), and he inflated that with his car somehow. Teckmology. We were all having a grand old time until we realized we were about to be late to the show, and zoomed over to the Rio Theater, scarfing the previous night's leftover pesto and salad and garlic bread en route. Of course the show hadn't actually started yet (I'm a square), so we popped in to the cowboy store next door to listen to an acoustic dude and then grabbed a drink across the street. THEN it was showtime. Rama schmoozed some ushers and we ended up sitting very close to the front, which Ma appreciated on many levels. The show was extraordinary. I've loved Cat Power for years now, but have never seen her live before--she sounded So Good. I didn't realize she achieves her echo-ing sound with two vocal mics--very elegant and garage-y. She started out by lighting some incense, and the smoke was visually hypnotizing rising white on the dark blue stage, plus the good smell somehow made you more present and receptive to the performance. It was a solo show, Chan and her guitar and piano, and the first song she played is positively haunting me. Rama recorded most of the concert, but accidentally cut off that first song at 39 seconds, which I have listened to more times than I'd like to admit. I cannot for the life of me figure out what it is, if there's a recording of it anywhere, and I have half a mind to try writing her. It's so chant-like and dark, like a spreading shadow. (BREAKING NEWS: I just took another hopeless youtube stab and found a different performance of the same song!!! She started another show with it--the sound is not as rich as it was at the Rio but YAY! Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utyXIwnTgkk.) Anyway, she's totally nuts and was maybe drunk(?), and there was a lot of meandering talk between songs, but it didn't diminish the performance. When the show ended we all agreed it was one of the best concerts we'd ever seen. Fitful sleep that night what with the hobo sitch (Rama had his machete on hand and he and Mom were texting between tents all night about the abounding sounds), but Somehow we survived the night. The next morning Rama and I jammed over to Emily's to get some brekkie baked goods, then returned and cawfee-ed it up while we packed up camp.
We went to into town and hit up a couple stores per Ma's desires. Ma and Madz both got some super cute stuff--Mom a gorge orange scarf that popped her peepers and Madz some rock star coral earrings and a !crop top! and dope red skirt.
We had some a'ight tacos at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and then drove back to Oak--I made it to work in the nick (thanks Ramz).