eThoughts : September 1, 2009: This and That, Part I

It’s been an interesting summer vacationing and getting things accomplished. The house and land are pretty well handled, though when I returned from my last vacation of the summer, I returned to a couple of non-working irrigation valves, a kitchen faucet that leaks a bit, and a toilet that now really won’t fill up. And all of that is not to mention the ants that managed to clog many of my drip emitters.

But that is how it goes.

In any case, did you know that you can go Segway wine tasting in Sonoma, California? My eldest daughter dug that up and six of us did a three-hour tour, though I think it’s listed as two hours. We were so pumped and crazy about it that the tour guide filming us, called us the first ever Segway gang. My youngest daughter apparently posted it on YouTube under that title: First ever Segway Gang. Conveniently, the Segways even come with a pouch so one can store purchased wine—and that we did. However, there were no cup holders on the hand grips—clearly an overlooked feature.

Another winery featured a Bocce ball court. Buy the wine, get the glasses, and meander down to the sand court by a pond and get competitive. And we were. We still decided it was a three-way tie between the teams. Part of the problem was the winery was closing. Gee…

And then there was the Exploratorium in San Francisco. It is almost as much fun to watch people play around with science and fact exhibits as playing around with them yourself. At the end of the day, the Exploratorium features a “Tactile Dome” that one can crawl around in, in the dark—feeling one’s way as they go. It was fun and goofy and we had a blast. I think we could use an adult version in a topless place (okay—Chippendales for the ladies). Naturally it would be called Tactile Domes. I’ll defer to the ladies for their input about an appropriate title for their place.

And we visited a solar farm I think it was called. I can tell you it was hot that day. The basic idea was not only how to gather sun energy, but how to block it. I’ve been giving some consideration to using hay bales and mud as a house. Wow, were those things cooler—even with the windows and doors open. I don’t think my a/c can get my house that cool.

On my list to add to my home is also a meditation garden. Three of the six of us (we don’t have to do everything together) visited one not to far from where my eldest daughter and her fiancé live. I’ve visited these before as in Huntington Gardens in Pasadena, California, but there are always people milling about. In this case it was only the three of us. It was incredibly quiet and peaceful—and unbelievably beautiful. With that kind of context, one’s internal dialogue will just stop out of sheer amazement if nothing else. This is a must for anyone’s home—more important than much of the features that homes do have. The problem is that in most neighborhoods, people don’t give much, if any, consideration to deliberate quiet with plant, rock, and water beauty. As a consequence, we are not much a nurtured people, though we are clearly in need of nurturing. I guess we’re busy waiting for our messiah-ship to come in when we could be building one ourselves.

And though none of us in my family have a relationship with food that occupies constant attention, we do like good food. Café Gratitude is such a place, though I’m not saying all the menu items are for all people. But even if one dish is not the best, it still feels good for the body. Yep, we’re talking organic, vegan-type foods. And yep, it’s expensive as well. And I can understand that expense. That kind of food is not so easily attainable. A key-lime pie made from avocados may sound nasty, but it is sure tasty. And I can’t believe how great wheat-grass juice is before a meal.

And of course, there is sushi. One of our funnier days was visiting a highly-rated sushi place in San Francisco. It had even been featured on a well-known television program. Not so good, really snobbish, and ridiculously expensive—and we know something about sushi. No one was satisfied and one suggested that a Safeway store near where we stayed had great sushi. So we went there and some of us bought grocery-store sushi. They were clearly happier. And, as I said, we know sushi, so no one was suggesting it matched our favorite places, but it was heads above the highly-rated place in SF.

The upshot was yet another year of family vacation that will live on. I was talking with a friend later about having adult children and it is clear to both of us that while there is much in the literature about our relationship with children as they’re growing up, there is very little about the art of having a successful relationship with them when they’re grown. I know I’ve lucked out on both accounts, but it just wasn’t on my radar screen that we’d be having such a good relationship that we can actually spend better than a week together and all have fun.

Yes, the context of human surroundings is important, but our relationship with those we love is the forefront of it all. Put them both together, and there is enough magic to free the most encumbered mind. There is nourishment all around us and the best of it is not found in belief or books, it is found within and between us. And it is grace indeed.

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