2007 In Review

Happy New Year All!

Socrates tells us that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” In this era of YouTube exhibitionism, one could extend his maxim to be “the life unexamined by other people is not worth banner ads.” So, in the spirit of the age, welcome to our annual unsolicited “What the Clan McMains is up to letter”!

First up is Margaret. The smallest of the clan is now 7 years old, as inconceivable as that seems. She’s enjoying her first grade year in school, is doing well academically, and is looking forward to her rebuilt school reopening down the street from us in a week or so. She lost her first tooth this year, and continues to joyfully bounce around wherever she goes, evincing a joie de vivre that is a delight to be around.

Liam, now in 3rd grade, continues to do very well academically without too much apparent effort. He’s got more energy than he sometimes knows what to do with, and is endlessly fascinated by the world around him and trying to figure out how it all works. He’s enjoying both computer and tabletop games quite a lot, and created his first computer game earlier this year. By dint of endless experimentation and repetition, he has also learned some songs on piano and guitar this year.

11 year old Abigail is alternately quietly contemplative and outrageously silly. She’s plugging away at school, and has developed a fondness for oriental gardens and bonsai. She has also decided to eat vegetarian, and has done remarkably well sticking to that plan. School has allowed her to develop a larger social circle than she has had before, which has been a treat for her. She has begun working in earnest on French Horn and Violin this year.

Emily is now in her Freshman year at San Marcos High School, and has found a group of friends there who she enjoys immensely. She continues to attend Youth Service Bureau regularly, and to create some really terrific drawing and other artwork. This year she became the chief toad herder in our family, gathering up to a dozen at a time in the kitchen sink when their cries came ringing in from our neglected pool. She seems to have worked her way through the most difficult part of adolescence at this point, and is generally at a happy place in her life.

Kathy returned to University this year to finish out an undergraduate degree. She’s settled into the field of Therapeutic Recreation, and has been putting a lot into and getting a lot out of the program at Texas State University. She has pinned down a couple of scholarships, and maintained a 4.0 GPA through both the spring and fall semesters. (She took a break during the summer to be with the kids.) It has been grueling at times, but she’s done an admirable job with it and earned considerable praise from professors and serious-minded classmates. She’s currently in Australia for a conference one of her professors asked her to help with.

Sean continued work at Texas State University where he’s splitting his time between programming and management responsibilities and enjoying a tightly-knit team of sharp and fun people. He also attended his first Sacred Harp sing, visited Portland for the first time, caught up with some long lost friends from high school, went to Boston with old friends, visited Los Angeles for a dear friend’s wedding, built a hovercraft, went to Waco for the All University Sing, hiked the recently formed Canyon Lake Gorge, and continues to play bass with The Patio Boys (formerly the Grant Mazak Band). (Shenanigans are chronicled at https://www.mcmains.net/.)

A few of our family travel highlights this year included Ink’s Lake State park for Spring Break and a visit to Mo Ranch for a Father’s Day weekend church retreat. Kathy and Sean also enjoyed a weekend in Fredericksburg for their 12th anniversary and Crawfish Festival.

As a group, we continue to find our physical needs met and count ourselves extraordinarily rich in the other things that are important in our lives: vital friendships, loving and supportive family, and ample opportunities to love God and other people. Thanks to all of you who are a part of that! For those who haven’t been recently, we hope you’ll come and see us if you happen to be in the area!

Grace, peace, and hope for a rich and wonderful 2008 to you all!

My Wife is Leaving Me for a Wallaroo

As many of you know, Kathy has been back in school now for a couple of semesters. This coming spring semester, however, she’s taking a break from classes in favor of completing some outstanding correspondence courses and attending a Therapeutic Recreation conference in Australia, for which the school is picking up the tag and providing lodging — all we have to come up with is airfare and some food for meals and sundries while she’s there.

She’ll be gone from December 29 – January 14, and will be spending most of her time in and around Melbourne. (I have given her strict instructions to visit lots of great places and take lots of photos so that I can live vicariously through her.) She’s currently working hard at rounding up various jobs to help pay for the trip, so if you have anything that needs painting, pressure washing, cleaning, or reconstructing, give her a call!

Naturally, since I’ll be a single parent for the time she’s gone, I’ll be looking for any reinforcements I can find. If you’d like to help with grocery store runs, babysitting, grown-up conversation, or just playing XBox with the kids while I enjoy a few moments of quiet in the front yard,  your help is very welcome indeed!

Hiking the Canyon Lake Gorge

A few months ago, David Barnard tipped me off to the existence of the Canyon Lake Gorge, a feature formed in 2002 by the torrential overflow from Canyon Lake during that year’s floods. We were both able to secure one of the scarce reservations for a hike through the gorge, and embarked on our little adventure yesterday.

The gorge is striking. It was stripped of life during the floods as the water carved into the limestone bedrock, but has slowly had plant life return as seeds fall in or are brought by animals. There are lots of springs where the water seeps up from the aquifer or escapes from the lake, as well as a ton of different sorts of fossils: algae, sea biscuits, snails, clams, and even dinosaur footprints.

It was great fun to get to see this area, to talk with the people who have watched it change in the 5 years since the flood, and to literally stumble across evidence of life from thousands of years ago.

Gorge, Lake, People

You can see more photos here, or download a KML (Google Earth) dump from my GPS showing where the hike went here.

Pedernales Falls State Park Romp

Over the weekend, the three youngest kids, Kathy and I met up with Chris, Becky, and Mom McMains for a long afternoon at Pedernales Falls State Park. We enjoyed a picnic overlooking the falls, nibbling from each other’s collections of goodies and catching up on the goings-on in each others lives. Floating through the falls looked as if it would both be an immense amount of fun and also quite likely fatal, so we contented ourselves with drinking in the view from a distance.

Once sated, we did a quick hunt for a geocache and then set off for the swimming area. As we paddled around, the swiftness and force of the water assured us that we had made the right decision in not jumping into the falls upstream. After enjoying the water for a while, it occurred to me that there was ample raw material to try rock stacking, something I’d been keen to try for a while. My initial efforts were gratifying:

Sean Stacking Rocks

I quickly learned a few things by experience:

  1. Heavy rocks are actually easier to balance, because the minute shaking of your hands doesn’t affect them as much.
  2. Heavy rocks hurt when they fall on you.

Kathy picked up on the idea, and being the overachiever she is, quickly took it to a level I’d not even approached, creating 6′ tall stacks over in the sand. She assembled a small crowd of onlookers rather quickly:

Kathy Stacking Rocks

Great stuff. As I wandered around later, I noticed a few rock stacks that other people had created and saw one fellow trying his hand while perched on a giant rock in the middle of the river. It was fun to see people enjoying that so much!

As a final bit of fun, Chris pulled out a couple of bottles of Coke and some packages of Mentos so that we could reproduce the now-classic “science experiment.” Note: we used regular sugary coke instead of the diet variety that some folks insist is required. It worked just fine, though I’d be interested to do a controlled experiment sometime to see if one produces higher blasts than the other. You can see the video over on YouTube.

L.A. Wedding

The weekend after the L.A. Bachelor Party, I returned to Los Angeles for Ross & Johanna’s wedding. This was a quicker trip than the last, but was a huge treat as well. Ben Mengden, his wife Emily, and I came in Friday morning and headed to the Tuxedo shop to pick up our formalwear. Fortunately, after the last weekend’s ineptitude, the shop had things well in hand for the actual wedding weekend, and we were able to pick up all of our uncomfortable and unfamiliar bits without any fuss whatever.We spent a bit of time wandering about the Third Street Promenade, a nice pedestrian-friendly shopping district, before scooting off to the rehearsal at Bel Air Presbyterian Church, a beautiful edifice sited on a hillside with a miles-long view of the valley stretched out below. The sanctuary featured a fantastic pipe organ along with a less-traditional JumboTron, on which I presumed the church staff replays successful conversions in slow motion. Once everyone had a good grasp on what was going on, we retired to Anna’s Italian restaurant for a marvelous evening of drink, talk, drink, toasts, drink, food and drink.

The next morning, Ben and I met up for a tasty breakfast with Ross, where we swapped stories and jabbered enjoyably for an hour. Once fed, we bid the groom farewell and headed off to the reception hall where we were conscripted to help put up decorations.

If I had sat down with the mission to come up with the most labor-intensive decorations possible, I could hardly have done better than what Ross’ mom had devised: lengths of real ivy, wrapped around strands of Christmas lights and festooned over the crown molding in giant swags. She had apparently gone around her neighborhood and swiped ivy from any source she could find, stuffed it all in two suitcases, and brought it all out (along with wasps and spiders, as we discovered) to California with her.

Once the decorating was more-or-less complete, we struggled through figuring out how all the parts and pieces of the tuxedos went together and headed to the church for the main event. Ross had procured sunglasses for all of us, so we did lots of Reservoir Dogs poses for the photographer before squirreling away into the back room to wait for things to kick off. The photographer was William Innes, who did a beautiful job capturing the highlights of the day. Here’s one of my favorites of Ross and I, in which I, against all odds, kind of look like a [note to my children: please avert your eyes now] badass:

Ross & Sean

The ceremony itself was lovely. Both Johanna and Ross were actually there, which caused some of the groomsmen to lose a bit of money. Johanna’s father, a minister from North Carolina, conducted the ceremony, obviously very happy for and proud of his daughter. Various family and friends read scripture, and everything went off swimmingly. Looking around at the people assembled, I was delighted to be a part of the constellation there to support the couple as they started a new chapter of life together.

We wrapped up the evening at the reception hall, dancing, eating, talking, drinking, and enjoying the ivy once more. I began to realize that I really was in a different world than the one I was used to when I started talking to some other people at my table. To my left was Brian. He was a writer for CSI: Miami. On my right was Ethan, who wrote for Eureka and now has a movie in production. To his right was his wife Deedee, who writes for Saving Grace. It was quite a different social milieu for someone used to being surrounded by programmers, though in some ways equally geeky.

Among the other interesting folks I got to meet: Andy Cosby, Ross’ production partner and creator of Eureka, Mark Waid, extremely prolific comic writer and extraordinarily nice guy, Michael Alan Nelson, notable comic writer and snazzy dancer, and Colin Ferguson, one of the stars on Eureka who earned my respect by chatting with Jordan (Ross’ 10 year old nephew) for 15 minutes or so at the reception. Ed Quinn, another of the leads on Eureka, was also at the wedding, though I didn’t have a chance to talk with him.

So, once again, congratulations to Ross & Johanna! May your marriage be richly blessed, and may you ever be support, encouragement, blessing, love and entertainment to one another.

L.A. Bachelor Party

I spent three days out in Los Angeles two weekends ago for the bachelor party of one of my oldest and dearest, Ross Richie, who married Johanna Stokes, his lady love of 7 years, last weekend. I left Thursday along with Ben Mengden, my traveling companion and another close long-time friend. Ben was not only great company but also a phenomenal help getting everything organized and making the trip possible.

We rolled into Ross and Johanna’s new house on Thursday night and enjoyed a tour of their digs (really neat!), a tasty dinner, and some Gears of War before falling into bed. On Friday, Ross had to work and Johanna was busy setting the house, which they had occupied only 6 days, into order, so Ben and I set off on a hike to the beach. Between the beautiful weather, the chance to explore unfamiliar territory, the scenic beach, and the hours of uninterrupted conversation, this was one of the highlights of the trip. Returning that evening, we all compared notes on our days, enjoyed some more food, and toddled off to dreamland.

Saturday was the bachelor party, which Ross’ best man, Andy Cosby had organized. We started at Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles, a Los Angeles institution in which I’m pretty sure we were the only white people, where I had — wait for it — chicken. And waffles. Excellent.

From there, it was on to Hollywood Park, a nearby race track. Though the horses weren’t actually running there, a few of the guys bet on races around the country while I admired the slightly seedy opulence of the place, which felt very much like the sort of spot Sinatra and Co. would be right at home. (Aside: like some demented dream of Marcel Duchamp, the restrooms featured the most urinals in a row that I had ever seen in my life.)

We then piled in cars and headed to the marina to board a sport fishing boat and cruise out into the Pacific for an afternoon on the water. Riding the sun-soaked waves with a fishing pole in my hand and the fresh wind whipping past made me think “L.A. might not be a bad place to live!” Unfortunately, it apparently made several other guys think “You know, I really like dry land,” and “Maybe I shouldn’t have had chicken and waffles,” and eventually “Please, someone kill me now.”

Ross hooked a shark, a sting ray, and a few other smaller fish, though only the latter of these made it onto the boat. Several other folks hauled in a variety of mackerel and other fish. I, being a charitable soul, merely fed my bait to the hungry submarine fauna.

The final chapter of the day was back at the house. Andy had contracted with a professional Texas Hold ‘Em dealer to run a card game for us. Unfortunately, “Big Al” seemed at least as interested in telling jokes as he did running the card game, and was eventually sent packing so that we could administer our own game. Poetically, Ross and Andy were left at the table after everyone else had dropped out, and they agreed to split the evening’s pot. Spent after his winning streak, Ross collapsed onto the couch and fell asleep while the remaining celebrants slowly trickled out of the house.

On Sunday, we poked town a bit, got a few wedding chores knocked out, and headed for the airport to enjoy a few days back in Texas before returning for the wedding. (Wedding account coming soon…)

Stupid Guy Trip V: The Stupiding

One of the traditions I’ve enjoyed a great deal over the past six years has been the Stupid Guy Trip: an annual-ish assembling of several long-time male friends for a testosterone-fueled visit to some city or another for food, beer, and endless “your mom” jokes. Past trips have been to Las Vegas, Chicago, Santa Fe, and Seattle, and have included casino gambling, opera, architectural tours, visits to national historical sites, “Evil Dead: The Musical”, gnome theft, Blue Man Group shows, and baseball.

This year we decided that Boston would be the destination. Due to some scheduling difficulties, this turned out to be the most sparsely attended trip thus far, with only myself, Chris and Mike attending. We all set down in the Boston airport on Friday afternoon with 3 days the city stretching before us and absolutely no idea of how we would spend that time. Our first order of business was, predictably, to find some food, so after dropping $15 on a 7-day transit pass, we bought a guidebook, wandered up to the North End and enjoyed a really excellent meal in a tiny little restaurant with only 7 tables. We then hopped on the subway and a bus to get out to our hotel and settled in comfortably at the Sheraton Newton, which was, surprisingly, built directly over an interstate and had really helpful and friendly staff. A short trip across the street to Buff’s Pub capped our travel day nicely.

The next day we scored a hat trick of touring delights. The first was the Freedom Trail Walk with the Histrionic Academy, an hour and a half ramble through the parks, historic structures, and cemeteries of Boston led by a young woman with an surprisingly powerful voice and a penchant for bursting into song. We then enjoyed some clam and fish chowders at the famous Union Oyster Bar before proceeding on to board the Tall Ship Formidable, a square-rigged sailing vessel on which we had booked a tour around the harbor that included a mock cannon battle with her sister ship, the Poincare. While we were a bit disappointed that the cannons turned out to be miniatures, about 10 inches long, the weather was perfect and the sailing a treat.

We then enjoyed some excellent Pho at a nearby Vietnamese restaurant and headed for Fenway Park. Tickets for that night’s game with the Toronto Blue Jays had sold out months before, but we still had hopes that we’d be able to procure some. Official channels didn’t yield any results, so we resorted to the friendly folks selling tickets along the street and were, after much back and forth, able to get in to the game. The Sox thumped the Jays soundly while we goggled at the grandeur of the Park, the enthusiasm of the crowd, and the price of the beer. Particular highlights included the crowd participation when “Sweet Caroline” came over the P.A. and seeing a couple balls whacked clean over the Green Monster.

Sunday was a bit more tame: we started off the day with a jaunt up to Harvard, where we poked around the venerable campus and its surroundings for a while. We were entranced by the Carpenter Center, a building designed by Le Corbusier, and went in through an unlocked door to explore the interior. Unfortunately, the door locked behind us, and it took us 20 minutes of architectural appreciation alternating with panic to find a door that would let us out without sounding a fire alarm. Breathing a sigh of relief, we spent another hour enjoying the bookstores and an excellent lunch at Tamarind Bay before heading back in toward the center of town.

There we visited Trinity Church, an stunningly beautiful structure which has been on the Top 10 lists in architecture for the past century. The church features several windows by John La Farge, who pioneered various techniques for layering glass to create an amazingly rich dimensional look. After the church booted us out for their evening services, we headed to the Top of the Hub, a restaurant on the 54th floor of The Prudential Center, where we watched the sun drop over the city while peregrine falcons, which nest in the upper floors of the building, wheeled about us. Mike pointed out that we could actually see into Fenway Park from our stratospheric perch, and that since the beer was actually cheaper at the restaurant, we might do well to bring binoculars and a transistor radio there next time we wanted to watch the Red Sox play.

The final stop for Sunday was Paddy O’s for a show by The Gobshites, an enthusiastically profane “acousticelticore” punk-ish Irish band. They were a load of fun, super high energy, very friendly to their Texas visitors, and definitely not suitable for children.

Monday was departure day. We headed up to the Boston Commons to buy some bagels and watch people in the park while eating our al fresco breakfast. Once filled, we moved on to the Boston Public Library, home to some magnificent murals by John Singer Sargent and a miniature book exhibit. Mike and I then parted company with Chris, who had an earlier flight to catch. We headed over to MIT for a last architectural tour before leaving, highlights of which included Frank Gehry’s Stata Center, Simmons Hall, which was designed by Steven Holl, and the MIT Chapel, designed by Eero Saarinian, the same fellow who was responsible for the St. Louis Arch.

And then homeward bound! Mike and I both took advantage of the opportunity to switch flights from our original overcrowded one to another 45 minutes later, netting both a travel voucher and an upgrade to first class — only the second time in my life I’ve flown in the fancy section of the plane. This time was much better than the last, when the flight attendant spilled coffee all over me within 5 minutes of my arrival on the plane.

It was a super trip: lots of wonderful food, a chance to explore one of America’s great cities, excellent company, a delightful ballgame, and tasty beer. Thanks, Boston!

Father’s Day at Mo Ranch

We spent this past weekend at Mo Ranch with First Presbyterian Church of San Antonio, which Dad McMains and Lana attend. The church hosts an annual Father’s Day Weekend retreat, which Kathy and Emily and I first joined in very shortly after our wedding. That was exciting for me, as I had grown up attending various church camps at the ranch, and it has long been one of my favorite places on earth. Thus, the prospect of the trip itself was exciting, but was made even more so by the chance to introduce the younger kids to a site that is both so beautiful and personally meaningful.

The trip was great, and too full to really detail right now, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Getting to spend time and celebrate Father’s Day with a fairly broad swath of the extended family, all of whom we enjoy a great deal and none of whom we get to spend enough time with routinely. The kids all picked out nifty little succulents for me from the greenhouse as gifts to supplement my fledgling cactus garden, and Emily gave me an awesome Sam & Max lap board she had created in art class this year. We also presented Dad McMains with a rooster sculpture for their front yard renovation project, the smuggling of which involved a good deal of legerdemain and hijinx.
  • We took a direct route across the hill country, rather than sticking to the highway, and enjoyed lots of beautiful terrain along the way as well as a visit to Stonehenge II, a delightfully eccentric, typically Texan project wherein the English Stonehenge was reproduced at about half scale. While it was privately financed and remains on private property, it’s open to the public for visits. There are also two reproductions of Easter Island statues on the site. When they sighted them, the kids, who had recently watched Night at the Museum, delightedly shrieked “Dum Dum! It’s Dum Dum!”
  • Late night talk, music, and slightly-illicit wine while watching lightning and/or the stars. (Which, as advertised, are big and bright [clap clap clap clap] deep in the heart of Texas.)
  • Getting to do a rendition of Will the Circle be Unbroken with Lana, Tim (Meara‘s significant other who plays string bass) and new friend Margaret for the Talent/Variety Show. It went over quite well, though given that much of the rest of the show was kids lip-syncing and doing cartwheels, that’s probably somewhat faint endorsement. Chris apparently received several compliments for his (non-existent) part in the performance, which I told him was fine because I routinely take credit for ENT surgeries as well.
  • Showing the kids one of my favorite little science experiments: smuggling a cup of milk out of the cafeteria to the catwalk that spans a gorge, and then pouring drops of milk out to fall to the ground below. Because of the Bernoulli effect, the pressure on the sides of the droplets decreases as their velocity increases, causing them to “explode” fairly spectacularly about halfway through their fall.
  • I took a couple of early morning walks before the rest of the family was awake, enjoying the opportunity to explore the bits that have been added to the Ranch since I had visited, to reacquaint myself with the more venerable sections, and to see the various fauna that was out foraging for their own breakfasts.
  • Walking a labrynth for the first time. With Maggie and Liam along, it wasn’t a totally contemplative time, but interesting none the less.
  • Playing in the river with the family. The slide and the “rapids” — a shallow, limestone-bottomed section of the river where the water has carved a variety of beautiful channels and pools — were among the best parts. I especially enjoyed showing the girls how, if you sit very still in one of the pools for a few minutes, the minnows and small fish will come up and start nibbling on your arms and legs, eliciting delighted giggles.

It was a wonderful time, and one I hope we can reprise annually. Thanks to the Mo Ranch and First Pres folks for putting it all together!

Weekend To-Do: Post-Mortem

Minor Tweaks, one of my favorite people-I’ve-never-met weblogs, runs a regular feature called “Weekend To Do List: Post-Portem”. Believing fervently that plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery, I’m adopting the practice here. Enjoy!

  • Take wife to Fredericksburg for anniversary getaway. Marvel at, contribute to, economy fueled entirely by souvenirs.
  • Try Mad Dog hot sauce on a cracker. Realize belatedly that 600,000 scoville units is 90x hotter than Tabasco. Sweat and moan.
  • Watch “The Holiday”. Wonder why we didn’t get famous neighbors when we did a home exchange in England.
  • Find dog by side of road. Adopt against better judgement.
  • Accidentally set Dance Dance Revolution machine to “ultra-hard”. Flail gamely to the amusement and consternation of Chuck E. Cheese visitors. (“Hide your eyes, children!”) Thank the heavens wife doesn’t know how to use YouTube.
  • Install ceiling fan acquired 9 months ago.

Anniversary Trip to San Antonio

This past weekend, Kathy and I went down to San Antonio for a 10th anniversary getaway. I had been plotting the trip for a couple of weeks with the invaluable help of {Christina Priest}, who stayed with the kids while we ran off to have a little bit of exclusive couple time, and was pretty excited to finally be able to set the plans in motion.We started off by checking into the Travelodge downtown. While not palatial, it is clean and only a couple of blocks from the Riverwalk, where we spent much of our time over the next 48 hours. We then embarked on a quest to find “Dolores del Rio”, a funky Italian place I had heard of, but had never actually been to. Given that all of the reviews of the restaurant I’d found on the internet included directions, and that those directions seemed to bear no relation to each other whatsoever, I had expected locating the place to be a good deal more challenging than it actually turned out to be. We were quickly seated, and joined a few minutes later by Chris and Becky, who were in town to pick a place to live when they move to San Antonio in the fall, and Lana and Meara. The evening was great — wonderful food, scintillating company, and a jazz band nominally led by my friend {Barry Brake} at the keyboard, who graced us with an alternately ethereal and funky version of “Tea for Two” in honor of our ten years. Then the belly dancers came out, draped me and Chris in feather boas, rounding off the dining experience nicely. We had only expected to stick around the restaurant for a couple of hours, but were having such a good time that, by the time we finally parted company after dinner, it was time for bed.

Me With Hair Implants Barry at Dolores del Rio Chris Gets Some Attention

The next morning we lazed about for a while, enjoying the luxury of sleeping in — an opportunity rarely afforded the parents of four children. We then embarked on a driving tour of the San Antonio Mission Trail, a series of four missions (five, if you count the Alamo) established by Spanish Franciscans back when the New World was first seeing European colonization. Though I think every child in San Antonio is required to go on field trips to the missions several times over the course of his public school education, I had very little memory of the sites, and enjoyed them every bit as much as Kathy, for whom this was her first visit.

Mission Door Grave & Bell Tower Mission Door Cross Latch

Incidentally, I can hardly think of a life I’d rather lead than that of one of these monks who helped to establish these remarkable communities. What a wonderful thing to be so intimately involved with helping people meet their physical needs, while at the same time providing a place for cultivating their spiritual lives and working together to build places that are so beautiful.

After the missions, we went and pottered about downtown for a while, enjoying a late lunch at Casa Rio, a restaurant with colorful umbrellas over its riverside tables that largely define the visual look of the Riverwalk for me. We then enjoyed the air conditioned promenades at Rivercenter for a while and ducked into an arcade for a bit to race cars and play motion capture boxing games. (Visiting Rivercenter is always a bit nostalgic for me, as my high school choir sang there when it opened. “You just add waterÂ…at Rivercenter!” I’m still not sure what unholy business dealings resulted in our presence at the opening of a shopping mall, but it was fun at the time.)

I Should Work for the Chamber of Commerce...

Our original plan for that evening included a trip to the San Pedro Playhouse for a musical show. However, by the time we left on Friday, they had not responded to my request for tickets on their website. (I finally got an email back this morning saying “Oops. You went to our old website. Here’s the address of our new website, which, by the way, doesn’t offer online ticket ordering anymore.” Nimrods.) So, we Plan-B’ed, and got some coffee at a local coffee shop with indifferent coffee but the most extraordinary service I’ve ever seen. The pink-clad fey man behind the bar, when Kathy asked if they happened to have a newspaper handy, said “No, but I’ll get you one” and sprinted out the door before either of us could respond effectively. He went across the street to a gas station, but found their newspaper rack empty. He then proceeded to run further down the street until he found a place with a paper handy, purchased it, and brought it back for us to review. (All we wanted to know was movie times!) Truly above and beyond the call of duty, and thus earns a heartfelt recommendation of Timo’s Coffehouse on San Pedro. (Just don’t ask for anything tricky with decaf.)

We capped the day with a visit to The Quarry, a site that, while I was growing up in San Antonio, was a wretched, filthy eyesore of an abandoned industrial site, ironically next to one of the richer neighborhoods in San Antonio. Several years back, however, it was made over as an upscale commercial space, and now boasts many interesting stores, a microbrewery or two, and a huge movie theater. We pottered around Borders for a while, and I picked up P.J. O’Roarke’s latest, which I perused while Kathy dropped by Whole Foods. We then watched “Cinderella Man”, which was a lovely, moving film (even though it was about boxing) and drove back to the Travelodge.

Sunset Crepe Myrtle

We slept in a bit more on Sunday, ran a few errands, and returned to our home, to be greeted by the excited shrieks of our kids (and a few, truth be told, from me as well). The trip was a great time which Kathy and I both enjoyed a great deal and got a lot out of. It was super to devote some time to just cultivating that relationship, away from our workaday concerns, and to slow down and celebrate getting to 10 years.

Thanks for your patience and persistence, my dear Kathy. I’m glad we’re making this journey together!

(See my photostream for some more pictures.)