We had a nice visit with the Seldens on Labor Day—or at least a small percentage of the Seldens. My sister and brother-in-law, Carolyn and Craig were here, along with their son and daughter-in law, Leland and Tammy, and L&T’s children, Brandon, Vincent and Megan. In addition, Matt and Amy, and their children, Quade, Brooke and Noah, were with us. Dawn fixed a wonderful meal and I barbecued the hamburgers. A fun time was had by all.
It isn’t often you read “balmy” and “Baltic” in the same headline, but here you are. We have just returned from a cruise that began in Dover and ended in Stockholm, with stops along the way at Oslo, Copenhagen, Visby, St. Petersburg, and Helsinki. And the weather everywhere was FABULOUS!
Left: The gilded spires of the Catherine Palace outside St. Petersburg, Russia, glistened in the brilliant sunlight.
We’re talking about places where they get only 20 sunny days the entire year, yet we were awash with sunshine almost the entire time. This winter was one of the severest in the region in many years, so the warm weather was welcome and unexpected. In Gotland, an island that is Sweden’s Hawaii, there had been so much snow this winter they had to truck it out of the capital city of Visby in order for cars circulate and park. It gets so cold in the Sea of Finland that it freezes over in the winter, which, before icebreaker vessels, closed the harbors in Helsinki and St. Petersburg. The summer months are normally the rainiest in these countries. But we saw nary a drop.
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post called “Saturday at the Little League Ballpark.” It focused on my grandsons, Quade and Noah, and their baseball games. Today I get a chance to write about my granddaughter, Brooke, and her dance recital.
Brooke is seven years old. To say she is FABULOUS would be an understatement. It would also be the name of one of the dances her group performed. To say she is a budding SUPERSTAR would be true, and it would also be the name of one of the dances her group performed. To say she is a DANCING LEOPARD might not be literally true, but it is one of the dances her group performed.
The title of this post is from the song “Chicago,” which has been sung by various people from Judy Garland to Tony Bennett. It was going through my head for a good portion of the time I was in Chicago. The lyrics are pretty clever. Here is how it begins:
I got the surprise, the surprise of my life I had to stop and stare I saw a man dancing
with his own wife And you will never guess where
That toddlin’ town, the toddlin’ town
I’ll show you around, I love it
Bet your bottom dollar
you lose the blues
In Chicago, Chicago
The town that Billy Sunday
could not shut down
I particularly love the line about the surprise in seeing a man dancing with his own wife. Among the three largest cities in America (Los Angeles, New York and Chicago), it has always seemed to me that Chicago is the one where “small town values,” such as lack of pretention, friendliness and family ties, are the strongest. Still, Chicago has its wild side (Al Capone and the mafia, corruption in city government) and apparently even Billy Sunday couldn’t shut it down. (Billy Sunday, by the way, was a popular major league baseball player during the 1880s, who later became the most influential American evangelist during the first two decades of the twentieth century. He was a big proponent of prohibition and some say his preaching played the key role in the adoption of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1919.) Continue reading →
OK, I may have gotten carried away with this blog title.
On my birthday (May 25) Dawn and I attended a baseball game at Anaheim Stadium between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Toronto Blue Jays. We don’t attend live sporting events very often so when my Fidelity Investments representative called a few weeks ago and offered two free tickets in their luxury suite I accepted.
Anaheim Stadium is located just a few miles from our house and getting to the game is quite simple. By leaving at 6:00 p.m. we were at the gates of the parking lot by 6:20, giving us plenty of time to park and find our suite before the 7:00 start time.
Yesterday Dawn and I drove to Anza Borrego Desert State Park on the way to spend several days at the Lawrence Welk Resort in Escondito. We traded a Marriott week for this one because it was reasonably close and we’d never stayed there before. As often happens, we missed out on the first few days because we both had obligations that conflicted.
Back to the desert. We’d never been to Anza Borrego and had heard that the wildflowers were beautiful this time of year. I learned, to my surprise, that this is the largest state park in California, stretching across a broad swath of Southern California between Palm Springs and the Mexican border. Continue reading →
It started as a typical September morning—the sun had just risen on what promised to be a warm California day. I was dressed in workout clothes—black Above-the-Rim shorts, a charcoal Nike t-shirt, white K-Swiss tennis shoes—almost ready to leave for the gym. I backed my car out of our detached garage, wheeled it around and eased up to the front porch to finish loading my lawyer clothes—suit, white shirt, tie, belt, dress shoes and sox. I was planning to drive to 24-Hour Fitness in Orange and work out. Then I would shower, change, and head down to my office in Center Tower, Costa Mesa and my law practice at Latham & Watkins. I had a federal copyright lawsuit that was occupying large chunks of my time and I needed to review some deposition transcripts.
Suddenly Dawn came running out of the house. Thinking I was leaving, she began waving her arms frantically. My first thought was that something terrible had happened—perhaps an injury to a family member.
I pushed a button and the window slid down. “Matt just called,” she said, the concern apparent in her voice. Instantly the thought flashed through my mind—had something happened to Quade, our five-week old grandson? It had been twenty-three years since we lost our daughter, Elise, to sudden infant death syndrome, but I still carried an anxiety about the safety of children that would surface at the least hint of danger.
“They’ve blown up the World Trade Center in Washington. I’m going to turn on the TV.” With that, Dawn ran back into the house.
Today is the final day of our one-week cruise in the Western Caribbean. It is a sea-day, always one of my favorites, and I’m borrowing David’s Apple MacBook to compose this entry. I decided not to bring my computer because I didn’t want to succumb to the temptation of spending too much time in our cabin writing. Since we brought our family with us, I wanted to maximize the time with them. Sort of like emptying the freezer of ice cream when you want to diet, I suppose.
Dawn and I are relative newcomers to cruising. I took my first cruise last year, a fantastic trip on the Celebrity Millennium that began in Barcelona and ended in Venice. This year we sailed on the Caribbean Princess—a shorter and less interesting trip, but nice for family socializing. Our group included our four children, Matt, David, Ashley and Tyson, as well as Matt’s wife, Amy, and David’s wife, Melanie. Also on board were my sister, Mary Kaye Gardner, her husband, Terry, and their children and spouses, whose ages are generally the same as ours. All together we numbered sixteen. (The grandchildren were left behind.)
One good thing about a cruise is that it provides an opportunity to have portraits taken. As those of you who are cruise veterans know, photographers set their gear up at various stations around the ship and click away nearly every evening. The sittings are free—you only pay if you decide to purchase. We took the opportunity to have some family photos taken, as well as several individual photos of our children and their spouses, which are scattered throughout this blog entry.