Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hi & Goodbye

Part of the reason John and Johanna came for a visit was to see Ariel and Ash.

(Thanks, Cam for getting this fun shot of cousins in the foreground with Sam and Ash sword fighting in the background.)

We met up with them at Buena Vista Park, near Golden Gate Park in the city.

It is amazing how close we have become to Ariel in such a short period of time.

Espeically considering we only met her a few years ago.

She's a wonderful person and I am thrilled she was in San Francisco for the past eight months.

We have been able to spend time together and get to know each other better.

I'm proud of the success she had getting established here.

We've really enjoyed getting to know Ash better too. She's a cool person and so much fun.

However, they have decided to head back to Ohio for awhile.

We will miss them but are glad they will be closer to their family and friends there. I know they have missed them.

Ariel may come back in November for some work she earned a grant to do. (Did I mention I am proud of her?)

I hope she will be around for Thanks-
giving. My Aunt Maria (Dr. Norton) was invited to present at a conference in San Francisco just before the holiday. (Did I mention I'm proud of her?)

She and my cousin Kellie, decided to make an event out of the opportunity and invited my folks and other members of the Powell clan to converge on the Bay Area to give thanks and celebrate together. At first, I wasn't sure it would work out. I'd thought we'd be in Chicago for Thanksgiving.

Cameron's brother, Eric and his wife, Sarah are due to have twins (a boy and a girl) any day now. (Did I mention I'm proud of her?)

We're all anxious to meet these babies but Cam said that if my family wanted to come for Thanksgiving, we'd go to Chicago a different time.

He's planning to go for a visit by himself in October and we hope to all be able to go around Christmas.

I look forward to being back in a city we love (in the winter no less).

In the meantime, we're enjoying sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 80s.

And Buena Vistas.

(It was a pretty view).

Saturday, August 25, 2007

In Search of Sea Creatures

The next morning, while Cam was meeting with people from the Academy of Art University to discuss his new job as a college professor (Congrats, Cam. We're thrilled for you.),

John, Johanna, Sam and I decided to head north on Hwy One to seek out seals and other sea creatures.

While John was here, he helped me access some of our old family photos. My dad scanned thousands of them (Thank you, Dad.) but I hadn't been able to open all of them.

After John left, I was looking through them and I was thrilled to find this one. It is such a fun shot of the three of them at a different beach.

Pictures really do take you back, don't they?

In these photos, we were in Hampton Beach, during part of a Powell Family Reunion.

I think it was just before Sam turned one because if I remember correctly, we went from here to Boston for the Pops Concert on the 4th of July before heading to Sebago Lake, Maine.

Or was that a different reunion??? Too bad we weren't blogging then.

Anyway, last weekend, we were headed to the tide pools at Agate Beach, Bolinas.

Johanna had never seen tide pools.

Conveniently, low tide was at 11am.

We'd been able to take our time getting around that morning.

We'd had sunny blue skies at my house but after we drove just a few miles closer to the ocean, we found dense fog.

It made for a mellow drive and obscured the normally spectacular view of the ocean but didn't interfere with our view of the tide pools.

Sam's becoming an expert on tide pools and can point out highlights.

He was also willing to pick things up so other's could get a closer look.

The most spec-
tacular find of this trip was this tiny hermit crab.

Despite the fog, the weather was really quite lovely, not too windy or cold.

Perfect for hugs.

And pictures.

It was a fun way to spend the morning.

We enjoyed having time together.

On the way home, we pulled over to get a closer look at the seals laying out, sunning themselves a hundred yards or so from the road. Their noises made us laugh.

John & Johanna Return

Last Saturday, my brother, John and his wife, Johanna drove up from LA to spend some time with us.

We were happy to see them.

It was a lovely night so we hung out on the patio, soaked up the afternoon sun. We shared a bottle of white wine and a couple of pizzas.

Dueling ensued.

(Sam told his new fifth grade class, that the best thing about his summer was having his Uncle John visit.)

Thanks, Cam for going shopping, making dinner and kicking back and relaxing with us.

That evening, Sam shared some of his favorite music with Johanna.

They had lots of fun singing and dancing to Stadium Arcadium by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

I enjoyed watching them jumping up and down to the music, Sam flinging his hair around and break dancing on the floor.

Like Jo said, we're just glad we don't have downstairs neighbors anymore.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Viva La Santa de Cabora

Beautiful, moving, I can't do it justice...

I just finished reading The Hummingbird's Daughter, a historical novel by Luis Alberto Urrea, a Pulitzer Prize Finalist. (You pronounce the name "oo-Ray-ah.")

The culmination of 20 years of research and writing, his story tells about the life of one of his ancestors, Teresa Urrea, (sometimes known as The Saint of Cabora and the Mexican Joan of Arc).

The story is set in Mexico, in the years leading up to the Mexican Revolution. It touches on many of my favorite themes.

Overcoming Adversity:
The story begins with Terestia's mother, the Hummingbird, a young, orphaned, peasant girl who, at 14, is bearing a child.

The Strong Women Archetype:
As a young girl, Teresita, in search of a friend, walks up to the big house where the ranch owner lives. When no one answers her knock, she lets herself in.

At one point, Teresita's is offered many luxuries but with them come lots of restrictions. She accepts some and rejects others.

Willingness to Question & Challenge Authority:
Miraculous events occur and suddenly, Teresita has an audience of followers who view her as a saint.

She insisted, "I am only a woman. I am not a saint."

She sounds like a wise and admirable woman to me.

About religion, she said:

"What our Father wants from us is our emotions, our feelings. He demands pure love, and that love, that sentiment, is found only in the selfless practice of love, of good, of service."

"How can we hope to love God if we can't even love our neighbors?"

"Let us do good." "Let us love. This is the only religion." "The doing of good is the only prayer that God requires."

"Let us put aside our hatred and take up love."

She talks of truth and delivers messages of empowerment, non-violence, compassion and love.

The book, while nearly 500 pages long, is written in such a way that I could easily pick it up, read for a few minutes and take something away.

With the Hummingbird's Daughter, Urrea, has woven a masterpiece.

Things I forgot to mention: John, you can listen to Urrea read the book. Melissa, Urrea's latest blog post was a tribute to Mary Jo Johnston, a librarian from Kankakee, Illinois. Cam, Urrea's a college professor. He's taught at Harvard, in Lafayette and now lives and teaches in Chicago. See what Cam wrote about our hummingbirds. I wrote about the ones we saw in Louisiana too.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Still Celebrating...

Recently, when I wrote about Sam's 10th birthday party, I wanted to flash back to his 1st one. I wasn't able to find the photos I was looking for then but I found this one, today.

For Sam's 1st birthday party, we rented a shelter at Maytag park in Newton, Iowa. Lots of aunts, uncles, cousins and friends came. We grilled hot dogs and hamburgers then went to the pool. (It was brand new then too.)

For Sam's 10th birthday, we took a bunch of his friends on a Quest Over Ring Mountain.

A few kids missed the first adventure so we decided to invite them to join us for a make-up one.

One kid canceled at the last minute but Aeddan, Eric and Sam had enough fun for 10 kids.

Here they are pro-
claiming they are, "King of the World."

It was a bit warmer this time. The shelter of this enormous tree (Live Oak?) was welcome.

Thankfully, this tree was our friend. We walked quietly through other dark groves and took measures to keep from waking the Balrog.

Sam climbed right up and settled in this cool perch, well above my head.

Eric wasn't able to climb up from the trunk but Aeddan's dad, who joined us and added many educational observations, thought that the branches looked sturdy enough that the kids could scramble up them.

Eric was proud to have made it up the tree that way.

Aeddan said he was better at rock climbing.

Often, we stopped to drink water and share stories in the shade. We quoted and enacted scenes from Monty Python. The boys also talked about Redwall.

When they reached the top of the mountain, Sam and Eric frolicked around on top of Turtle Rock.

Aeddan called to them from the base.

Sam hid and enjoyed the shade under a large slab of rock.

When we started down, I saw a creature, with very long ears, jumping.

Then, I saw something crouched but moving.

I think it was a Black Tailed Jack Rabbit being stalked by a bobcat.

The creatures dis-
appeared quickly and no one else saw them.

We grabbed a bite to eat with our friends at Milano's then climbed our hill.

When we got home, we found the package Els sent from Holland weeks ago.

She'll be happy to know it arrived.

Thanks so much, Els.

Sam really liked his presents.

He said they were very nice gifts.

He liked the bracelet best of all and said he plans to wear it, all the time, with his watch.

I thought Sam looked a bit rock star in his new jean jacket.

With his long, wavy hair, he reminded me of Michael Hutchence.

Thanks to everyone who helped make Sam's 10th birthday memorable and special.

Right now, Sam's enjoying reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid, a novel in cartoons, that his friend, Eric gave him tonight.

Tomorrow's the last full day of summer vacation.

Thursday, Sam starts 5th grade. Crazy, huh?