Tag Archives: family

hug your cyclists

A busy weekend. 

Kris completed the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic.  This is a 200 mile ride (not a race, not timed) that’s happened for over thirty years (other than in 1980 when it was cancelled due to the ash from Mount St. Helens).

Kris did about 140 miles the first day, leaving just 60 for the second day.  I’d tried to goad her into doing it all in a single day, but she pointed out that we’re both registered to run a marathon in a couple of weeks, so technically she’s in her taper for that.

Kayla was down at a theater camp in Portland this past week, so with Kris riding I needed to get down there on Saturday morning to catch her show and pick her up.  Side note – great camp – the Columbia River Gorge School of Theater does a great job at keeping things fun, safe, and challenging the kids to improve there performance skills.  Definitely recommended for interested kids!

Logistically, this posed a bi of a challenge.  The younger child would spend Friday evening and Saturday with my parents while Kris was riding, and I was between here and Portland.  I got a chance to visit with some family in Portland on Friday evening.  Saturday, it’d be showtime and then back up to Seattle.

Aside from a hellish ride south on Friday, things went well.  Great visit, and the performance was great.  Kayla had a great time at the camp – and was already lobbying for more time there.

We hit the road shortly before noon.  I figured we’d stop[ to get something to eat early afternoon, hopefully getting home around 4 or so.  As luck would have it, we ended up stopping for lunch in Castle Rock, which is where Kris would stop for the night.  She’d texted me about her progress, and I figured we were about 60-90 minutes ahead of her.  It seemed silly not to try to say hello.

So Kayla and I finished lunch and headed over to the high school where Kris would arrive.  When we got there, I looked around for a place to leave her a message if we didn’t catch her.  Kayla hung out outside, waiting for Kris to roll in.  Suddenly, I heard a horrible crashing sound, and then some people saying “cyclist down – call an ambulance!”.

I turned and looked – there was a small crowd of people gathered over by the entrance to the parking lot.  Incoming cyclists need to make a left turn across traffic here.  We’re still not sure what happened, but the driver of a Honda Civic had run into a cyclist on his way into the lot.  The rider had been been knocked about 12 feet or so, but appeared to be conscious.

I checked on Kayla.  She’d apparently seen the accident – not well enough to see precisely who was where, and when.  I asked her if she was okay – and then we walked over.  The cyclist was indeed awake and moving around.  He was banged up, and definitely shaken up – but was responsive to questions like “what year is it”, “what’s your name”, etc.

I’ve tried to find out how the cyclist is doing – but have not yet heard.  I can only hope he’s okay.  I honestly didn’t know whether it would have been better for us to move away from the scene, because of the feelings a cyclist getting hit stirs in both of us. Both Kayla and I are definitely still processing what happened to us.

Today I heard that another friend riding with his son, had a very close call. Around mile 167 or so, he was hit by a pink tricycle that had been unsecured in the back of a pickup truck coming the other way. It hit Greg’s tire, wiping out his front fork, and causing him to fly over his handlebars. Very fortunately, he’s just bruised and scraped. Wow.

Well – after that, there was really no question that we’d stay and see Kris ride in.  And she did, still smiling after riding farther than she had in a single day.  She had a decent ride the next day, and was in Portland in time to catch the first bus back up to Seattle.  We’re very proud of her, and are really happy that she had a safe ride.

If you’ve got a cyclist friend or family – give ‘em a hug.

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greeting Kris in Castle Rock after she’d completed her first day’s ride for the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic.

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visiting san francisco

This past weekend, my two daughters and I flew to San Francisco, to visit my brother and his partner Patrick.  This was the kids’ first time there since my parents moved up to the Northwest back in 2004.  The younger one didn’t remember even being in California. 

Traveling with them is interesting.  The three of us have some different interests, so I’d been forewarned by them that they weren’t interested in going to a bunch of museums.  And, there’s the dilemma of how much to plan verses how much relaxing time to allow for.  Also – we’ve got a bunch of food allergies, which makes finding restaurants a challenge. 

I got lots of grief about the trip in the days leading up to it.  There was lots going on with school, homework to attend to, and an event missed at the younger one’s school the day we were leaving.  They didn’t have friends there, and were skeptical they’d enjoy themselves.

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The skepticism persisted right up until departure.  Things did get better when the plane had entertainment systems built into each seat though.  And things got better immediately after meeting my brother and his dachshund Coco at the airport.  We went to his place, before heading out for Mexican food. 

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One of the highlights of the Mexican food was getting to try out the salsa bar.  It included selections along the full range of spiciness.  Naturally we all had to sample the super-hot Habenero sauce.  It began mildly enough, with kind of a fruity taste – and then exploded – sending your eyeballs shooting out from your head, and causing sweat to pour down your face.  I’m exaggerating, but only a little.  The pictures above are of the girls each trying to quell the fire taste in their mouths.  We capped the afternoon with a drive up to Twin Peaks.

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We played games for a while, then headed out for some great Indian food.  The highlight there was someone getting to enjoy a Dosa that was longer than their leg.

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I visited with a good friend from Cal Poly the next morning.  This was very special to me.  We hadn’t seen each other in about seventeen or eighteen years.  She’s married, and has two wonderful kids.  I enjoyed hearing her stories of her adventures since we’d last seen each other – she told me about spending several months on a road trip in the Southwest, about she and her husband living in El Salvador, and we swapped stories about our kids. 

Last summer, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which (as she stated it) has turned things upside down for her.  I learned things about courage and about the ups and downs of living in the present from my friend.  I’m still thinking about our conversation a lot. 

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The next day, we did brunch with some long-time family friends.  My eldest took charge of cooking the pancakes, and did a great job.  I’d lived with these people for a few months when I was a teenager, and found it amazing to share stories about my own children with them.

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That afternoon, we met another friend from Cal Poly at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.  He was there with his daughter, who was close in age to my eldest.  They hit it off marvelously.  My younger daughter and I visited the Planetarium, the Aquarium, and the rain forest – and really enjoyed ourselves.  We extended the visit into another great Mexican meal (with more Habanero sauce), and some time spent playing games at my brother’s place.  By the time things wrapped up, the two older kids were plotting a visit at our house near Seattle.

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We visited Alcatraz the next morning.  Parts of this weren’t as much of a hit, but I’m still glad we went.  In addition to getting out to the island (I’d not been before), we got a chance to ride a vintage trolley along the waterfront, and to enjoy the best commercially-available root beer and burgers at the Ferry Building

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By then, it was just about time to head home.  We got a little down time at my brother’s, and then it was off to the airport.

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I found the time with each child amazing in different ways.  They have pretty different personalities and some different interests too.  Getting out of the house, and away from your routines forces you to listen to each other differently, and you get to appreciate different qualities in each other too.

My brother and his partner were excellent hosts.  They’d done some great footwork to find restaurants that would provide options for us (very challenging), and allowed us to spend nice time at their place – playing with their Wii and with Coco.  And they’d found us a nice place to stay close to their place.  As we left the place we’d stayed, Lynn (the woman who rented us a great one bedroom apartment) told me that one of the girls had said “I’m so lucky to have two uncles here”.  Warmed my heart so much to hear that.

The younger one’s already planning our next trip down.  I’ll take that as a good sign. 


this season of giving

Several years back, Kris and I both tired of the focus on gifts during the Christmas season.  We have the good fortune not to lack for ‘stuff’.  We didn’t like the way the emphasis seemed to be more on shopping, stuff, and consumption – and not on the spirit of giving (rather than the spirit of shopping).

We discussed some alternatives with other family members.  One idea considered was establishing a low price cap on gifts.  This idea was roundly disliked, because it meant that were you to find the ‘perfect’ gift that exceeded this limit, you couldn’t get it.  While this would limit the consumer-focus to our holiday (and require some imagination when shopping), it sort of skirted the issue – limiting but not eliminating the buying.

Another idea was to give only things that we’d made.  While very consistent with the spirit of the holiday, not everyone is confident in their gift-making abilities.  In my own case, I don’t know how many years I would have been able to get away with giving framed photographs to family members.  And since I don’t draw or knit, my options from there are currently a bit limited.  It also presented some logistical issues for family members travelling – not everything handmade will travel well.

What the adults began doing last year was for each of us to identify a cause significant to us, and give them a gift on behalf of the family.  On Christmas morning, each of us shares what the cause is, and why it speaks to us.  This feels very consistent with the spirit of the holiday, it has the benefit of helping people less fortunate, and it lets each of us share these thoughts with the family.

From my standpoint, this makes the holiday more about hope.  That’s one of the greatest gifts you can give, isn’t it?

From year to year the causes vary – which affords us the opportunity to gain understanding of a broader set of issues that we care about as a family.  I thought about sharing some of the causes to illustrate this point, but part of me wants to keep this part private, so as not to encourage comparison or judgment of these things.  Different things speak to each of us, and that means we all get to learn from each other.

The kids still get traditional gifts, but more and more, they’re shifting to making things for us or for each other – pieces of art, or photo albums.

These changes have felt very nice.  The acting of giving like this requires us to think about what we value, and how to put these feelings into words and actions.