Why I like James Lileks-reason #456

Because this post about Wall-E is as elegant as the movie itself and I am humbled, shamed and proven wrong about my analysis of the “green factor” by James’s deft comments. Read his review. Plus: No spoilers. It’s grand.

He’s right about Ratatouille, too. That film was so meaningful, so tight and so utterly perfect. Nevermind that it was about food and wine (which made me love it more), just understand that it was a film that had a better script than most Ivory Merchant productions (is that hard to do?).

I love my craft–and I’ve been busy all day on two local news stories. But I tell you it’s when I read authors like Lileks, who’ve made blogging, column writing and commentary into a true art form, that I get even more excited and want to sit down and scribble away at my clunky little blog.

Fourth of July coming up. In strictly celebratory terms, it’s a holiday I love for its historical importance. But, as a dog owner, I don’t love it. Scoop goes mad with the popping and booming and thundering and he shakes and looks at you as though the world is going to end right now and what are you going to do about it, huh? WHAT?!

I can’t take it. We’ve taken to sedating him each year, but much like coffee makes one a wide-awake drunk, I think all the sedative does is make Scoop a drowsy worrier. It doesn’t stop him worrying and it doesn’t necessarily put him to sleep. It merely renders him incapable of having a true physical response should something bad actually happen. Stranger at the door? I’ll bark, but I can’t actually do anything about it. My legs feel like the stuff in the middle of those Snausages you give me.

The past couple of years I’ve turned the radio on for him. NPR. I figure, if I cannot calm him down with chemicals, perhaps I can bore him to death. I think he actually likes it. He feels like its company in the house. He’s always been rather uncomfortable with an empty house. As aloof as he is, and he is the most aloof dog I know, he likes to know you’re there. He wants the comfort of knowing you’re in the house. Then, seemingly, he can trundle off to bed and be happy-dreaming contently knowing someone else is in charge. This of course does not at all argue for the Alpha-dog behavior he constantly exhibits, whether sitting on my feet and turning his back to me or staring at me from across the room for fully 30 minutes while I watch T.V. I used to get unnerved by that, now it’s just annoying.

Vacation Bible School, run by my dear wife, continues to go well. Tonight’s lessons were all about the Midianites. I had the night off, so I brought the Mac up and worked on a story for the paper. Meanwhile, tomorrow night, I get to play King Nebuchadnezzar. I don’t know why the Veggie Tales VBS felt it had to pull out is “unpronounceable names from the Bible” program, but there it is. Do the kids remember? Sort of. They got Moses pretty well, but that’s only two syllables. Nebuchadnezzar? We shall see….

43

Today that is. Me. 43 years old. I’ll spare you the morose look back, “where did the time go?” trip down memory lane.

Sue inherited Vacation Bible School leadership from me and this was her year. I’d done it in the past, a total of three years though not consecutively, and I didn’t want to do it this year. Sue decided she could handle it–and she did. What a beautiful job she did, too. The kids loved it–and the whole thing really worked. Just 4 more nights to go.

I’ve been busy writing for the paper and for the wine mag, both of which are keeping me pretty busy. Tomorrow is yet another such day with at least two interviews to do, if not more, and a few stories to write. I love it. I want more to do!

It was a good day, one in which while I had a few obligations, mostly I got to spend some time with my friends and family and enjoy their company. Sofie texted me Happy Birthday from Belgium, which gave me no end of a smile–and I got to talk with big brother Doug on Skype, which meant I could see him, too. Some good food, a good bottle of wine (Tolosa San Luis Obispo Pinot Noir) and my wife’s birthday cake iced by my daughter…with confetti!

I know, trite. And perhaps it’s because of the way I write about the events–no flourish, no real description. But honestly, it was a day in which I was really content, happy and pleased. I counted blessings today and while I know there are writers who write about those things with true passion and art, I can only say that I lived through the day–loved it and hope there are more like it.

Wall-E Delivers….sort of. CAUTION: SPOILERS

I find it hard to criticize Pixar. This is true for many reasons and on many levels. The simple fact is that Pixar/Disney create the world’s greatest family entertainment in my opinion. From amusement parks to films, I’m smitten with the whole brand. Cars, Ratatouille, A Bug’s Life, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Toy Story…–these are all brilliant films and Wall-E is no different. Sort of.

First and most importantly, Wall-E is about love. It’s not cliche, either–well, mostly not cliche. It’s an unlikely story of a robot whose job is to clean up the earth one scrap pile at a time long after earth has been abandoned because of the toxic waste and buildup. The first half hour of the film has Wall-E, with his pet cockroach who provides endless and delightful comic relief, doing his job but with obvious personality. And the fact that he seems to care so much for the cockroach is indicative that the little guy has a heart inside his digital and metal framework.

It’s at this point that Wall-E sees signs of a a ship approaching, a spaceship of course, and he awaits its landing. It’s a full robotic ship, too and on board is a seemingly new generation of scout robots, swift, able to fly, smart, heavily armed–and female. Her name is Eve, Wall-E calls her Eva, and he falls in love with her.

The story is cute and funny, complex and intricate but it also includes, in my opinion, a hackneyed and tired “green” message. It’s fairly apparent that Wall-E’s and Eve’s entire existence is based on the fact that human beings could no longer inhabit the planet. They’d made it “too dirty” and there’s a Cameo with Fred Willard, a kind of President if you will, who is seen sending off colonies of humans into space and ordering them, eventually and secretly, not to come back to earth. It’s too toxic.

I’m not at all convinced by Director Andrew Stanton’s statement that this wasn’t meant to be a “green” movie. His argument is thinly masked and the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. The final song played during the rolling credits is sung by Peter Gabriel and the lyrics are one big rant about cleaning up, getting back down to earth and starting over. I’m in awe of Andrew Stanton and think he and his fellows at Pixar are geniuses. I’m a humble correspondent and English teacher, but I have to say–it’s not convincing, Andrew. It’s obvious that there’s a “green” message here.

The question is, is that message automatically bad because I don’t like it? Of course not. In fact, it’s not nearly as thickly laid on as it could be and the primary purpose of that part of the movie is to show that human beings can adapt, make changes and do what needs to be done–a message I wholly agree with. It’s just that I’m getting tired of being preached to by the hippies that somehow we’re “destroying” mother earth. The facts say otherwise (no temperature rise since 1998…), and the ignorance and hubris of people like Al Gore and his ilk is so breathtakingly silly that it’s hard not to laugh at people who take him seriously anymore. He’s become a parody of himself.

In Wall-E, the message is a hopeful one, not a message of “needing to wake up” or other absurd whacko-ness. It’s a message ultimately of the main theme, which is love is the most important thing, relationships with others are the most important thing.

So, if I have to see a “green” message, I’m glad I did so in this context. It’s a fine Pixar film and while I think Ratatouille, Cars, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo–were all better Pixar films, this film deserves to stand along side of them. It’s well worth seeing.

Parenting 101

Well…

Peanut finished up her week-long day camp at the Painted Pony. Cool place and she mostly had a good time. Tonight, however, she was invited to a birthday party and after dropping her off, the phone rang an hour later and it was the mom informing me that she’d been knocked in the head by the swing in the backyard. She’s got a bump and a headache, but she lasted out the evening at the party.

Now, however, as bedtime approached, she kind of lost it. Went into hysterics, said she felt like vomiting–but then didn’t–and said she couldn’t sleep. Concussion? Maybe. Eyes are responsive and she can see. She’s not confused or anything. She just got wildly insecure about going to bed (no, we didn’t discuss the concussion idea with her–so she is blissfully ignorant). Mom went in and is laying in bed with her which calmed her down immensely. This, of course, makes me automatically suspicious. Is that what she wanted all along? She said several times that she couldn’t sleep and that what she wanted was to sleep with us. Well, generally speaking–we don’t do that in this house and she knows that.

So, she says she’s not feeling well-but she looks fine. Plenty of color in the cheeks and other than being a bit tired from a long and eventful day and a bump on her head, she seems fine. Hard to explain. But then–so much of Peanut’s behavior is a mystery to me. She’s tough to handle for me and I lose patience pretty quickly. Sue’s pretty good at basically kicking me out of the situation. No good is going to come from my temper. True enough.

But it doesn’t mean I’m disinterested. I just don’t really know whether or not she’s honest about how she feels, sometimes. She has a track record of being a drama-queen and she has been known to ham it up pretty good in order to get what she wants. I have to admit, that’s my fall back position in general. I assume she’s acting something out in order to get attention. And most of the time, I’m right. But not always.

I am going to pray this evening that she is merely overly tired, with a sore head and that she’ll drift off comfortably to sleep. Parenting…is hard work. But it’s the best job there is…

14 Years

I know what you’re thinking. “Where have you been?!” Apologies, all gentles. In the past three days I have written no less than eight stories for two different publications. Eight! I’ve been swamped with deadline after deadline and just as I was about to tuck in Peanut for a long summer’s nap, my cell rings and it’s my editor at the paper. I covered a Chamber of Commerce event today and I mistakenly thought I had until tomorrow to turn in the piece. I was wrong. I had to have it in tonight and so, I sat down and tapped it out in about an hour–some 700 words that will be paired down, no doubt, to around 400. But that’s OK with me.

This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my professional life. I have editors contacting me daily and a wide variety of things about which to write from wine and food to local business, to police actions on local city streets. It’s just an absolute kick and I’m tickled that I’ve gotten myself here.

Yesterday was Sue’s and my 14th anniversary and we had a great time out at the SideCar in Ventura. Go to their website, gentles–better still–go to the restaurant. The food is astounding and Chef Tim Kilcoyne is simply a master. The menu was exquisite filled with fresh produce, sustainably farmed meats, exciting wines and prices are just fine, thank you. The atmosphere is awe inspiring, especially for someone like me with a romantic nostalgia for old rail travel in the U.S. I had a filet mignon, which is not something I order very often and this one was so wonderful. Served with Tim’s own creamed spinach and potatoes along with a port wine reduction–it was heaven. I also had a Ceasar’s salad that may have been among the best I ever had. Really.

Sue ate fresh Idaho trout which was grilled and when I say fresh–or should I say when Chef Tim says fresh, he means it. You could still taste the clear crystal river waters and the fish was flaky but firm and moist. It was without a doubt a real highlight. I’m not a big fish guy, but I know Sue loves good trout and she said this was one of the best. I could go on–but why? You get the message.

14 years married and 7 years with Peanut. It’s rather amazing. All the cliche’s fit here–“where’d the time go?” and “man, it’s hard to believe…” Well, believe it. We’re there. We have come this far and I’m still madly in love with the woman. Drives me crazy, she does. In a good way.

We sat at dinner last night and had good, couple-hood conversation. We talked about where we’d been, where we were and where we are headed. We talked about our daughter and lamented some of our failings as parents, rededicated ourselves to being better parents and talked about what kind of person Peanut will become. We continue to be awed by the person that she is–and that she’s growing into. It’s true, she’s spoiled rotten–no question about it. I’ll plead guilty as will Sue. But she’s also adored and loved, she’s disciplined and she loves God and feels His presence in her life. She’s a good child–a good human being (Scott, you may comment to e-mail only–not on the blog!) and she has a big heart. She cares for people so very much and she’s a real cuddler. Yes, there are flaws–as in any human being. But in our 14 years together, we’ve produced her–and she is, for all of our faults and weaknesses–strengths and triumphs, like us. And we’re honored and inspired by her.

Egad that was mushy. Well, after writing for days about the struggles of steep hill grape growing and the tourism industry in Ventura County, the recycled water program at the retirement community and the unique wines of San Luis Obispo–I needed to get a little mushy I suppose. To be honest, this particular post is the proof that when I have more to write, I write more.

I am, in short, a very lucky and very blessed man. And though I’ve known this for many years–it’s only now I realize it fully and can say it in this way.

Angels, Thieves and Winemakers

It was Malachy McCourt, brother to the wonderful Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes, ‘Tis), who penned in his book, A Monk Swimming, that it was…”the British who crushed us Irish underfoot. And so, like grapes at the harvest, the fine wine of poetry was rendered from us and fermented into Yeats, Joyce and all the rest…” Or something like that. That is certainly no direct quote.

But it was Joseph Mills who took the same spirit, the one that rather has had an impact on your humble correspondent here, and that of course is wine and the word. Not to be confused, of course, with Wine and The Word…though at times, it’s a blur.

That’s the case with Mills’ book Angels Thieves and Winemakers, too. A collection of poems about wine, wine-making and winemakers, Mills throws in a little philosophy and a little Theology, too. And again, these are things on which your humble correspondent has written as well. It’s not too much to add, actually, that I was moved by Mills’ book in much the same way I would be had I met in person a kindred soul.

Like wine itself, Angels Thieves and Winemakers is more than the sum of its parts. The poems are not kitsch and fluff, as one might expect from a title straight out of the 1970’s. There are moments when the words, the faith and the vino are elevated to quite unusual heights:

Winemaking is just helping nature along
and if you say it’s wrong, you’re saying God’s wrong. Because
Jesus didn’t turn water into orange juice or milk or Gatorade;
He turned it into wine and frankly, the only question is whether it
was red or white…

It goes deeper than that, of course. The poems are questions, actually and not answers. I find that refreshing here because I think there’s a tendency among modern poets to pass judgments, like so many wine critics sitting on high and relegating each bottle, each sip of a glass, to a number and a place on this table or that table.

But just as Jesus brought salvation for all, so does the winemaker bring wine for all. He or she pours their heart and soul into the barrels, the tanks and filters and when they’re done, they simply ask for a fair hearing.

In that sense, Mills provokes the Theological inside the oenological and provides a glimpse, not just into a bottle of wine, but into eternity itself using wine as the allegory to bring us to it.

Fascinating read.

Unfinished Wine Business

Vacation took place just about the time that I received some samples from American Roots Winery. The wineries goal is to produce quality, Napa Valley wines while donating 10 percent of all their proceeds to the search for a cure for Breast Cancer. Their website has all the details and I’ve written about them here before. This, however, is a review of the wine….

And I am pleased to report how good the Syrah truly is. It’s the only bottle I’ve opened yet (vacation does get in the way) and together with Sue, Laurie and Sofie, while she was here, we drank the American Roots Napa Valley Syrah. I was surprised by its vibrancy, its peppery-ness because generally speaking, that pepper comes in with cool climate syrahs. Napa does have some cool climate places, but as far as I can tell, this is not a cool climate syrah. Still–those notes are there.

They’re wrapped around a luscious dark fruits core with a bit of smokiness, too–and the result is a lush syrah with a good deal of character. You need not buy the wine, in other words, just because it supports a good cause-though to be honest, that’s as good a reason as any as far as I’m concerned. Buy the wine because it’s delicious. It is a classic California syrah and while I’ve always been partial to the Central Coast syrahs, this one is right up there with the best of them.

Tomorrow–a review of Joe Mills’ book, Angels, Thieves and Winemakers.

No Links. Just Right.

Most have heard of our heatwave in So. Cal and even up on the Central Coast. It’s been hot. Darned hot. It hit 100 here in Camarillo which is pretty unusual, though not unheard of. The funny thing is that now you have people who’ve invested themselves into global warming theory saying that it’s “obvious” this is proof. It’s fundamentally hilarious to note that these same people were absolutely silent during the winter months when we had some of the coldest temps we’ve ever recorded. You had snow in Minnesota in May. It was cold in the Midwest through that month and now, they’re having floods. Apparently, this too is a sign of the global warming, or has it has become known, “climate change.”

I dunno–Mark Twain wrote of the Mississippi flooding its banks catastrophically several times during his life. Stuff occurs and all of a sudden, we’re in this Rod Serling-esque version of the secular apocalypse. Maybe these people were so unhappy that the us religious folks had Revelations and end times Theology, that they developed their own–and they’re foisting it upon us. I don’t know, though. It seems rather spotty and they cannot seem to back it up with facts-though they think they have. Meanwhile, all they’re really doing is reeking havoc upon world food markets and such by ignoring commodity prices, like vegetable oil, as they double in price.

Yeah. Well, here’s the thing: When the geniuses can actually estimate the weather properly for the next week–or next day, even–then I’ll listen to the silliness. As it happens, no one was calling for this heatwave even last week. It happened–that’s all they know. And soon, it will pass. And that’s all they’ll know, too.

It’s been one full day now, nearly two, without Sofie here. It’s been difficult, at times–and hard to believe she’s gone. Right now, Peanut’s new pet rat has been given the honored position of having her cage in the guest room, which was Sofie’s room this past year. I think it gives Peanut some comfort going in there and “soaking up the vibe” as it were. She hung out with her new pet in there today for over an hour. She’s learning responsibility, of course. But, she’s also learning to have fun and–I think–she’s learning to grieve her loss, Sofie’s going back home, in a way that she can control.

Meanwhile, she played softball today in her first game ever and she was actually pretty good. She got a hit and she fielded a couple of balls. I was impressed, and she had fun. It’s amazing the stuff that she’s learning and picking up so quickly. She and her friend Maddy are playing on the same team, Aruba. Yes, I think the name absurd, too. Evidently each team is named after a country. We played India today. It’s like some over-reaching attempt at modeling the U.N. by the YMCA, the hosts and league in which she plays. Before we got on the field, Egypt was playing The Canary Islands or some such nonsense like that. I wondered aloud if Egypt had terrorists on their team that struck against the coaches and YMCA administrators if things didn’t go their way. I was rebuffed.

I offered to go through and rename the teams something more respectable–you know, Tigers, Diamondbacks, Dodgers–things like that. No one was interested. It’s my experience as a father, though, that these strange attempts at planting metaphors in our children’s heads don’t really work. My daughter is not going to somehow expostulate 10 years from now that being on the team called Aruba and playing against the team called India somehow promoted geographical harmony. Instead, she and her friends–on their high school softball teams–will laugh and point out the strangeness of the idea if they remember it at all. They may only remember that playing on the “Y” teams was their first experience playing the game and for that, they remain grateful. Doubtful they’ll even remember the color of their jerseys.

They’re aqua blue by the way.

Sofie

I just tracked her flight status. Delta has a really cool feature that shows real-time in-flight operations. You see a map, a flightpath and then an airplane icon indicating in real-time where the plane is now. As it happens, her Delta 767-200 is about an hour and 39 minutes from Brussels Airport where she is due in around 11:05 PM PDT, which is 8:05 AM in Brussels on June 21st. I imagine that as I write this, Sofie’s parents are driving to the airport, as they said they would go and get her, and I imagine Sofie is either waking up or still sleeping in seat 35 A, a window seat, of that aircraft.

How does one write about the past year of life and encapsulate it into a small piece of writing? I don’t honestly know. I know that we all cried, all of us, when we left her at LAX this morning. We stayed with her all the way through the absurdly long security line. If travel is slowing down, somebody had better inform LAX Airport. This morning at 6:30, it was wall to wall people, standing room only in the stinking hot lobby with lines that weaved snake-like all over the terminal. It took us an hour to get through the ticketing, bag-check process alone. That was before we got into line for security. Amazing. Now you know why I don’t fly out of there. Never will, if I can avoid it.

The tears were most cathartic for Peanut. Interestingly, it was only on yesterday that we decided to take her with us to the airport. Our thoughts revolved mainly around getting back from vacation and when you’re on vacation, you never really get the sleep you need in a strange bed with all those weird hotel noises going on–so, we knew she’d be tired and the last thing our little routine oriented world needed was to wake her up at 4:45 and drag her out of bed to the airport.

That, however, is exactly what we did. And it was my idea, actually. Proud? Thanks. I just got to thinking that I’ve been fairly convinced that routine, now that she’s 7, is greatly over-rated and I also got to thinking that if anyone has a right to see Sofie off, it’s Peanut. It is that relationship that blossomed more even than mine or Sue’s with Sofie. Peanut became a little sister that Sofie never had and Sofie was the big sister Peanut never had. Peanut foisted herself on her big sister from the day she got here, August 22nd, 2007. I remember that first day after getting Sofie settled in.

It was actually the 23rd as her flight arrived late on the night of the 22nd. Peanut took Sofie by the hand, after we’d all spent some time talking, and led her upstairs to give her the tour, I suppose. I got busy with something and so did Sue and the next thing I know, it was nearly an hour later and I had not heard from either of them. I went upstairs and found Peanut literally climbing all over Sofie and the two of them playing games. Sofie brought Peanut greeting presents and she still has them.

All year, Peanut’s outlook was all about Sofie. If she went out for the evening, it was “where’s she going?” If she stayed in for the evening, it was “want to play a game?” If Sue and I went out on a date, it was “can Sofie babysit me?” And Sofie obliged every time. She made precious few friends her age while here, two in particular became fairly good friends, Jamie and Andrea. But she never seemed to mind that. She simply grew closer to us.

Even when there was some distance, as happened back in January and February when a particularly bad spate of homesickness set in and her communication with a boy back home became a priority, Sofie was easy to talk to. I ended up discussing things with her and they turned around quickly. Since that time, Sofie became a Storer. She was a second daughter to us, with all of the joys and heartaches that title entails. It was as if we’d been granted the gift of foresight; “this is what it’s like to raise teenagers.” And you know, it is a little more challenging than I imagined. But it’s also very rewarding–and with Sofie, it was easier than I imagine it could have been.

Our memories are many, our joys even more so. Trips to Yosemite and San Diego together, flying to Arizona and visiting the Grand Canyon, Sofie’s first Halloween (they don’t celebrate it too much in Belgium apparently), Christmas Morning, September’s Labor Day trip to Huntington Beach to visit my brother and give her a taste of true So. Cal beach living. I could keep going, I suppose, but that would be pointless. Listing where we’ve been, what we’ve done could never touch the reality of the bonds we forged, the family we all created together. The five of us, Sue, me, Peanut, Aunt Laurie and Sofie, became a family. We did things together, we talked with each other, we played with, ate with and cared for each other. It was family–and that’s all.

And that was everything. We love and miss you, “Sof!” We loved having you as part of our family and we cannot wait until our paths cross again.

The trip

Just home from this year’s San Diego trip. We did things a little different again this year, foregoing the train trip and choosing instead to pack up on Father’s day and head to Disneyland. We spent the night there at the Sheraton Anaheim, a fine hotel where we had previously been with our friends the Wolfe’s–as an adult outing, sans kids. I’d always wanted to stay at this place ever since I saw it from the road going into the Magic Kingdom. So, I spent a bit of time pining, but in April, the four of us went and loved it. It’s grand!

This time, the whole family, Sue, me, Peanut, Sofie and Aunt Laurie all packed into the mini-van and stayed at the Sheraton. Sunday, Disneyland was relatively uncrowded and the temperature was right around 80 degrees or less. Evening cooled off nicely and wonderfully and we were joined on Sunday by the aforementioned Wolfe family and our pal Shawn. Rides were uncrowded, cool breezes, loads of fun. Peanut was in vacation heaven and we strolled through the Magic Kingdom without a care in the world. Slept wonderfully, awoke Monday and ate a great breakfast….

The heat set in early and it was fairly obvious that more was on the way. Monday was not nearly as bad as today. I’ll get to that. But the crowds were greatly increased and so we only stuck around until around 2:00 in the afternoon before heading south toward North San Diego County….OK. A word about that….

The US Open was being held at Torrey Pines and the result was hotel prices went up to a premium. Our usual 150 a night place was now 297. No, thank you. So, I Pricelined.

We wound up at a place in San Marcos called the Lake San Marcos Resort. Apparently in the 70’s, the place was a golf resort of some renown. Not anymore. It’s old, but clean. Simple, but with all the amenities–pool, game-room, poolside and room service. The only downside was that I slept in a roll-away bed which was designed by the Marquis de Sade himself. Oy. My back, my neck, my….everything.

Peanut slept in her own queen sized bed. Why? Well, it went like this: I snore. Loudly. In the past, my snoring has awakened the dead. It certainly can awaken a 7 year old on vacation. And it has. So, I acquiesced and put the Iron Maiden up in a fortuitous little alcove cut into the hotel room walls. It was where the closet was and it allowed me to be removed from the wife and child who, annoyed by my snorosity, appreciated that relief.

OK–moving on…

Pool, restaurant on the premises, sleeping in the torture chamber–all was grand. And then Tuesday…Seaworld.

We go every year and this blog is littered with pictures and comments about our many trips. Truth is, we’ve gone every year since Peanut was two. She’s seven now and still loves it so very much. She says it’s her third favorite place next to home and Disneyland.

We saw it all–Shamu and the dolphins, the Polar Ice exhibit and the Beluga’s, Polar bears and Penguins. We rode the rides, Atlantis and Shipwreck Rapids, and we saw the seals and the dogs and the cats. We did everything, basically. Oh–and Seaworld has really good food, too! So, we did that as well. Once again, we ate dinner with Shamu. They set up tables by the training pools and a trainer comes out and talks to you about taking care of Orcas. Meanwhile, the whales, there were two of them this time–Orcutt and Sumar, swim up next to you, make noise, splash and do some behaviors that are really cool.

By the time we headed back to the hotel, it was almost 10:00 o’clock and Peanut fell asleep in the car before we left the parking lot. It was an awesome day.

Sleep–and awakening to allow me to go to breakfast with my pal, Chris Ulm. Chris and I played in a band with our pal Edd some years ago and Chris and his wife and daughters have since relocated to Carlsbad which was right near where we were staying. So, schedules permitting, we had breakfast together on Wednesday and caught up on all the latest news. I miss the Ulm’s and wish I could spend more time with them.

Back to the hotel to pick up the family and headed over to the San Diego Wild Animal Park. It’s an interesting place; conservation, ecological and biological research-a kind of wild study zoo where the animals aren’t in pens. When you go to the park, you are sort of put out into the African desert and it’s just as hot. It was 104 degrees there and 96 in the shade. It’s hard to enjoy anything at those temperatures, but we managed somehow to do so and lasted until around 3:00 P.M. Right as we were leaving, though, Sue hurt her foot and aggravated what appears to be a soft tissue injury. She’s limping around like nobody’s business and she cannot seem to get it to heal up neatly.

Because of that, we headed back to the hotel, sat in the pool and had a couple of margaritas there. It was relaxing, if marred by Sue’s foot. Dinner was supposed to be at the Resort’s restaurant called The Quail. But, it was fairly apparent, though they didn’t tell us so, that we were not wanted. I even asked if we were under-dressed or if Peanut was too young, or whatever. What I got was the brush off…”It’ll be a small wait for your table.” Then, “It may take a little longer than I thought,” etc. Well, I got the message and we left. I understand they’re afraid of being sued for discrimination but A) I asked if there were problems, they could have simply answered and B) They didn’t have to lie and keep putting us off. It was absurd. That was my second complaint about the Lake San Marcos Resort.

We went to a local brewery, grabbed some dinner, back to the hotel and watched Hairspray. Fun–but not overwhelmingly good. Enjoyable.

We awoke this morning and headed back home with one more stop at Downtown Disney’s House of Blues to have lunch. I’ve eaten a lot of places in Downtown Disney–I think I like HOB best. Great food, very hip, yet timeless atmosphere and besides–Dan Akroyd was a founder. You gotta love that.

Home again as the heat wave has grown. Close to one hundred here in Camarillo, though the Weather Channel has us in the high 80’s. Trust me, it’s 10 degrees hotter. It’s supposed to last through the weekend, but then the cooling comes back, thank God.

And that, gentles, is that. It’s pedantic, I know–but the big issue here is that Sofie is leaving early in the morning. We’ll all go to the airport and see her off back home, but Peanut is sad, as can be imagined. She doesn’t want her big sister to leave and she feels a sense of permanence in it though we’ve discussed with her e-mail and SKYPE which we will use frequently. More on Sofie’s exit tomorrow…

Peace.