Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Be Safe, Mom & Dad

My folks were just here for two weeks.

Two weeks is a long time to try to coordinate with anyone on a daily basis, especially when ideas about how to spend time and what types of things are good to eat are so varied.

I want to thank them for getting a hotel room so that we weren't completely on top of each other and were able to give each other breathing room from time to time. I also want to thank them for coming. We had some wonderful times.

They ended up with these tickets because they could use their frequent flier miles for these dates. They hadn't planned to be in the Bay Area the entire time. My dad was going to do some consulting work in Santa Barbara during the first week. They talked about exploring other parts of California too.

Then, one day in October, my dad's head started hurting. It hurt so much that my mom took him to the hospital. Eventually, we found out that he has a pituitary tumor. Pituitary tumors are usually benign so it probably isn't cancerous but it is still a really big deal.

Something I read said your pituitary gland is located between your ears and behind your nose.

Next week, a neuro-
surgeon is going to operate on that spot in my dad's head and try to get rid of the tumor without disrupting anything else.

The guy is supposed to be world-renowned and apparently was one of the people who developed the procedure. So, he should know what he is doing and it should be fine. Still it is pretty scary.

I know my brother is worried and really wishes he could be there. While I'd like to be there too, it doesn't seem feasible and there isn't much I can do anyway.

It sounds like my dad's big brother, my Uncle Jerry is going to be there. His wife, my Aunt Carolyn, may come too.

Two of my mom's sisters my Aunt Sandy and my other Aunt Carolyn are planning to come along with their husbands Fred and Barry.

My dad said that if they all make it, my parents will be surrounded and supported by the same people who stood up with them at their wedding.

My Aunt Alice and Uncle Suvid may come too.

I am grateful to all the members of my family who are willing and able to be there as well as everyone who has offered comfort.

Know I am thinking of you, Dad and hoping for the best.

With much love,

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving, from my family to yours.

She did it. My Aunt Maria was invited to present at a conference in San Francisco the Monday before Thanksgiving. She saw this as an opportunity for a mini Powell family reunion and invited other members of my family to join her in the Bay Are to celebrate the holiday together.

They headed south this morning to spend time with the Norton clan. We enjoyed having them here and wish we were able to be with them more often. I'm also happy my Uncle Mike, my brother John, his wife Johanna and my folks were here too.

More to come on this family time together. Cam's already written about our trip to Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge and has posted lots of pictures on his Flickr account. I just posted a bunch of my favorites on my Flickr.

I hope you enjoyed your holiday and would love to hear how you spent it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Pumpkin Chucking Memories

Before Sam cut his hair, we had fun carving pumpkins.

In early October, one of my co-workers invited us to a party to celebrate her husband's birthday.

Generously, they sent each guest home with a pumpkin.

However, by the time we got around to carving ours, on Halloween night, two of them were rotten.

I decided to toss mine over the back deck, down the hill into the vegetation.

Sam was excited to toss the other rotten one.

Smartly, Cam & Sam picked up a couple of new pumpkins that afternoon.

Cam's wearing a cat bird hat.

This year, we didn't roast pumpkin seeds.

Cam added the pumpkin guts to the compost heap.

Our friends and upstairs neighbors joined in the com-
motion and con-

Jennifer and Timila, the Devil, went out trick-or-treating. Gaju sent down some of his wonderful Nepalese cooking to share.

Anika enjoyed peering down at us.

I tried carving a second pumpkin.

It was tiny and sweet.

Nothing elaborate.

It was getting dark and I was getting chilly.

Cam finished his pumpkin.

Dixie checked them out.

Sam's pumpkin was rather large.

Cameron offered to help him gut it.

Sam thanked him by doing the pumpkin dance.

Happy pumpkin carvers.

We hope your Halloween was a good one.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Handsome Devil

Now you see it...

Now you don't.

Cam & Sam decided to get buzz cuts today.

Sam looks like quite the handsome devil.

When I got home, he was playing Zelda on the Wii.

He seems taller.

Later, we all laughed while watching Strongbad videos online.

My favorite is still Trogdor the Burninator.

Nice pumpkin, Bobby. Thanks for cheering us up this week.

And the Trogdor comes in the NIGHT.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

My Quake Experience

On the eve before All Hallows Eve, I experienced my first real earthquake. It should have been frightening but the eeriest thing was how it was mostly just fascinating. (photo credit)

I think it was because we had the understanding that if this were a major earthquake, we'd have all been in a lot of trouble but as it was happening, our sense was hopefulness that it wouldn't intensify.

Since the quake sustained the same level for the minute or so we were shaking, we were left with a feeling of awe and wonder more than fear.

I was on the 6th floor of the old Shell building in downtown San Francisco. (photo credit) The room was full of 25 other people who are also training to be Court Appointed Special Advocates for kids.

Other people reacted with surprise and shock when they first felt movement. I didn't know what they were reacting to and I was a bit annoyed at having missed something or being left out of what seemed to be some sort of inside joke.

Then someone said, "Do you feel it?" and all of a sudden I realized what was happening. We all just sat there and stared at each other with expressions of, "What should we do?" mixed with wonder, disbelief and apprehension.

At least one person did get up and ask if we shouldn't be getting out of the building. I wondered if they were right but didn't know. Other people said we were supposed to stay put. We stayed put. (photo credit)

The best way I can think of to describe the experience is that it felt a bit like sitting on top of a washing machine while it is running. The entire building moved back and forth, back and forth, back and forth for what seemed like a long while, then it stopped.

Afterwards, some people overreacted. They wanted to call off training. "What if half of the city is down?" Our trainer told us all to take five minutes to check in with a loved-one.

I called Cam to see how he & Sam were doing, find out what they had experienced and let them know that I was OK. At first, the call wouldn't go through. Everyone must have been trying to call loved-ones. After a few tries, I got through. Cam assured me they were fine. He sounded fascinated too.

It is too bad that Cam and Sam were in different parts of the house when the quake happened. Cam says, he just went sort of Zen and rode it out in the kitchen. Afterwards, he went to Sam and asked him what he thought of the quake. Sam had been reading (the Wii manual) in his room and didn't even notice it.

The next day, Sam was still bummed that he missed out on the experience. Cam read some of the news reports to us and we learned that this was the biggest quake since the one in '89.

Being in a noticeable quake, definitely makes me take the whole earthquake possibility more seriously. Interestingly, they have been heavily promoting a new earthquake preparedness initiative in Marin. We'd just signed up for a class. It is this morning. I'm glad we're going.

With both of us working across the bay from Sam, I do worry about how we would all reconnect. It would be good for us to have a safety plan.

My mom has been encouraging my brother and I to at least have water on hand. We do have 15-20 bottles of water on the back deck but that wouldn't last long if there was a real one.

Recently, I read The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, per Anthony's recommendation to Cam. The main character thinks to turn on the bathtub, to capture water, when the annihilation hits, before the pipes shut off. Would that work? Seems like a good idea.

It was a captivating book. Cam started reading it to me at the beach one day and I was hooked. I couldn't put it down. I read it on the bus and spent hours finishing it the weekend Cam was in Chicago meeting the twins. It is dark and incredibly heavy but very tender and moving too.

For our survival, my mom keeps saying I need to carry water in my car. Cam agrees this makes sense, in case we are away from home, on a hike or at the beach and experience a serious one. But we have to fill our trunk to capacity with laundry on a regular basis when we go to the laundry mat (or even the grocery store). Having superfluous stuff in the trunk is a hassle so I hadn't done it yet.

I should thank this last quake for waking me up. I intend to pay attention to the recommendations today and do my best to comply with them. I hope you and your family are inspired to Get Ready too.