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Archive for June, 2010

My friend, DZ, treated me to a weekend in the big city – Seattle – which included the Fremont Parade and a night at Cirque de Soleil’s Kooza.  That’s DZ in the photo with good friend, Jay, clownin’ around at the Fremont Parade.  Oh, about the parade – it coincides with the summer solstice, but if you had been there, I think you’d agree these folks probably don’t need an excuse to dress up… …or down, as the case may be.

If you can’t tell, Kermit knows that the young lady covered in stars is quite naked, as was Kermit, and nearly 250 other bicyclists.  In all fairness to the men, it was very cold out that morning; however, it didn’t seem to bother this guy’s tiki torch. There were marching bands.  I recognized this brand from my youth…

…but this band rocked the sidewalk! The parade had that small town feel to it even though it took place in the big city.  Starts and stops were ongoing, and I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but when you have a parade it might not be a good idea to have experiential exhibits that call to the children to come and pound on the bells.  Come on folks.  If you give a kid a stick and there’s something to hit, it’s going to go on and on and on, and when you take the stick away, there’s going to be tantrums.  Oh, my mistake, the tantrums came from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence; who, by the way, had the finest collection of rhinestones and chiffon I’ve seen in a long time.

As dramatic as the parade was, it couldn’t compare to Cirque de Soleil’s Kooza!   A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants and beautiful men and women enthralling the audience with their daring acts.  Just to name a few, there was the delicate acrobat balancing on stacks and stacks of chairs, the contortionists (who when they’re 70 will never be able to keep their Depends up around their bendable midriffs, but they’ll be able to change them with their feet), the unicyclist who spun his partner around and around while circling the ring at break neck speed, to the brute force of two hunks in leather running  on the world’s largest double hamster wheel as it spun round and round and went higher and higher.  Okay, the hamster wheel description is lacking some drama, but there were moments when I had to look away I was so nervous.  The mass inhalation of 400 plus breaths nearly pulled the walls of the tent down.  Oh, they weren’t just running hamster like inside the wheels; no, these studs were running on the outside and then, oh, for godssake, they were jumping in the air and flying off the contraption all together.  I’m always a nervous wreck – fearful I’m going to be at the one performance where Hans and Guber slipped and missed the net.  I’ve got myself all wound up so I’ll digress here for a moment.

When I was sixteen I went to Santa Cruz for the first time with some high school friends.  One night, after we had washed off the baby oil and iodine used to get a tan on the beach that day, we dusted our eyelids with baby blue eyeshadow, covered up any facial flaws with a thick layer of Max Factor pancake makeup, and coated our lips with pink pearl lipstick.  Once our hair had been ironed straight (or in some cases – melted), we slipped on our madras shirts and tapered jeans (so tapered you had to lie down on the bed to pull them on) and then headed for the pier.   There were boys at the pier.  One of my friends (who will remain nameless because I’ve forgotten it) wanted to impress the boys by climbing onto one of the rides which consisted of a large cage that two people stood in and rocked back and forth gaining momentum  until the cage would eventually go up and over, up and over, up and over.   Even from the outside, I could see this was a bad idea, but peer pressure and a dare from a blond surfer dude got the best of me.  Once inside the cage I froze up, but I couldn’t let on that I was afraid.  Remember, this was the 60’s and there were no safety precautions in place.  So, to save myself, every time nameless would push from her side, I would push from mine, pretty much negating that whole law of physics notion, and the cage never did make it up and over.   Bummer as we used to say.  Back to Cirque de Soleil.

Following the studs on the hamster wheel was the high wire act.  You gotta give the high wire boys credit.  They’re not going anywhere until you cheer them on.  I love the way they thrust their hands in the air and turn left to right, right to left and just wait.  If the applause isn’t loud enough, they’ll wait until it is.   And isn’t there always a chair and a bicycle in that act that need to be stacked one upon the other so Vladimir can hoist Mikhail (who’s sitting in the chair) up on his shoulders as he rides the bike across the wire.  It was during the bicycle crossing that I saw a series of tiny shadows flip and fly across the top of the tent.  Ah, my old friends had made their way back  from Romania to the United States and whether invited or not, they were going to make the most of Cirque de Soleil’s tent.  The  SoBuFaCi (SOw BUg FAmily CIrcus to non-groupies)  are home and they were in rare form.   I looked for them after the show, but they were busy signing autographs so we just threw kisses to each other; however, Svetlana called out that they’d be in Coupeville soon.   I hope this summer goes better than last when we lost Lester.  We’ll see.

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80 Years Young

I’ve been holding onto this secret for weeks now, but was unable to share it with you in case my buddy, Lew (to your left), checked in to read my blog.  Hey, it could happen!   Now I can tell you we had a surprise party Saturday, June 5, to celebrate Lew’s 80th birthday.  According to Lew he was born on either May 28, or June 5.  He’s not sure of the exact date of his birth.  I believe Lew just wants a birth week instead of a birth day.  Who can blame him?  Oh, by the way, that photo of Lew is from 1964.  I’ll give you a moment to do the math…that’s right, Lew was just a kid of 34 back then.

The Lew Walker Surprise Party Executive Committee met once and I’m sorry that’s the only meeting we had.  The committee, headed by Lew’s wonderful wife, Akemi, was treated to a beautiful luncheon prepared by her loveliness.  I think for Lew’s 90th the committee is going to need to have four or five lunch meetings; maybe more (that would include lunch).    Of course, our biggest concern, after keeping Lew in the dark (which wasn’t hard since Akemi can cast a lie as quickly as Lew can cast his fishing line) wasn’t how many  tables, chairs; how much food and drink, it was the weather!  When I arrived in Coupeville over a year ago, now, it was sunny and it seemed to me that it remained that way through September, give or take a day or two of light rain.  Not so this year.   We watched the weather report every day and had alternative plans for tarps and tents and I figured out how to fit 35 people in my house because it was raining every day!    And then June 5th arrived and the sun broke through.  The day was perfect for having a party; the first on the property.  What an honor it was to be able to host my buddy Lew’s celebration.  Yes, I know what you’re thinking:  Is this the same Lew who, after tasting one of your oatmeal cookies so very long ago, promised to take you fishing if you made him cookies, but has never followed through on his promise?   People, people, that painful episode is in the past.   After months of intensive therapy, I’ve let it go.  Well, for the most part.  I did share it during storytelling time at the party.   As you can see below, Lew took my painful retelling  of the event to heart.

Wine flowed, the buffet tables were lined with spiral hams, barbecued chicken, smoked salmon the size of a newborn, baked beans, pasta, green, fruit and sushi rice salads along with savory rice dishes.  Conversation flowed like the wine as stories were passed back and forth – some hilarious, some poignant and heartfelt.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves – just a few for you to sample the flavor of the day.  Ralph had the right idea – it’s always good to wear a T-shirt with the name of the place you live – just in case the party goes wild and you wake up someplace other than home.  That’s Steve in the picture with Ralph.

These folks worked with Lew at the College of the Sequoias back in the day and drove all the way from California to celebrate Lew’s 80th.

Last, but not least, I leave you with a photo (below) of  most of the coffee group (the rest were no doubt in the food line).  If you left click on pictures, a large photo will appear and you can see everyone up close and personal.  Go ahead, be brave.

There are just too many photos to post here, but I can’t end without adding my favorite.  And so, once again, I say to my buddy, Lew, “Happy Birthday to the Big Fish in the little pond.”

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