Saturday, November 26, 2005

Reunion mementos - what should they be?

Reunion memento
Originally uploaded by Brite Lights photos.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - One of the few side benefits of moving is finding stuff that has been tucked away in drawers or boxes, like the 1966 quarter keychain that was featured at our 20th reunion.

At least I think it was the 20th.

But it got me thinking about how much the little things like that keychain can mean. I put it away in a little box where I keep other SWCS valuables, like some ribbons from track meets and a signed photo from Sandy Carlson. (I'm still trying to track her down - and leads would be greatly appreciated.)

Anyone have any ideas for what kind of memorabilia that should be part of the 40th reunion?

I know I'm taking home a brick from Lakewood Elementary that Bud Hooper snagged for me. But what could we put together for the class? I have an idea for a video project - kind of a living yearbook with everyone talking into the camera for 30 seconds with their favorite (or least favorite) high school memory.

I've been making 'Rockumentaries,' for the past couple of years, with one in progress right now of a wedding of a favorite relative. Maybe a video like that would be fun.

That's as far as my thinking has gotten, at least on this Saturday morning and with only a single cup of Earl Grey tea working its way through my rapidly closing capillaries.

Any thoughts?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving in California sans boots or snow

Originally uploaded by Brite Lights photos.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - So today is the after-Thanksgiving madness of shopping. The newspaper yesterday was bursting with advertisements: specials on everything.

Time to run up the credit cards again, still recovering from last year's day after Thanksgiving orgy of spending.

My main memory of Thanksgiving from upstate New York was a pounding headache the day after from the Manhattans my uncle, Howard McAvoy, would make, drinks that even as a teenager I was allowed to have one of.

One drink? Ha!

(Here's the recipe: three parts blended whiskey, two parts sweet vermouth, dash of bitters, dash of cherry juice, pour over ice and drain into Manhattan glass.)

As I had Thanksgiving dinner yesterday with my daughter and various in-laws, there was a lot of talk of what store to hit today, where the best buys would be and how much loot to pack away for Christmas presents.

I remember Thanksgiving in the 60s as being all about the food (and drink, ok, and drink). It was the only time of the year that we had turkey, a decidedly more tasty bird than the Super Duper chickens that were a staple of my diet growing up. I swear those chickens were genetically linked to rubber trees.

It was also a very social day with people dropping by the house all afternoon, grabbing a quick Manhattan before toddling off to the next Manhattan stop or their eventual destination for their feast.

After the feast - and cleanup - the rugs got rolled up at my aunt's house and the records came on, records that mortified those of us early teenagers. Good God - they played the Polka!

Mostly the women danced while the men fell asleep in chairs, stultified by a combination of drink and way too much food.

Today I woke up hungry, the other thing I remember from the day after Thanksgiving, which was no problem because the family would prepare so much food for the whole clan that everyone took home enough food to keep us in turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing for a week. Although as teenager, I remember putting a pretty good dent in that food with a speed my mother found almost alarming.

Instead of turkey leftovers today, however, I'm going to do a very California thing and go out to a little cafe down the street for a light breakfast - sans any poultry - before deciding which stores to attack later today. The newspaper today was full of advertisements, too.

But I'm not shopping for Christmas gifts for people. I'm in search of new boat stuff, of course.

Sailboats need gifts, too, or at least their captains do.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

It's autumn for the trees and me, too

Autumn leaves
Originally uploaded by Brite Lights photos.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - As I stood up to argue in a university meeting last week (taking the moral high ground, of course, and getting pounded for it by the bad guys, as usual) it suddenly occurred to me that I have been doing such things for a long time and that in terms of my time (not just the season), it's definitely fall.

I remember that old Frank Sinatra tune, "It Was a Very Good Year," and how he walks through his life, in song. Then there was George Burns' "I Wish I Was 18 Again."

That, I do not wish, though I could shave a few years off the 57, nearly 58 I'm carrying, particularly those years that have given me a bad-enough knee that I'm looking at surgery, enough little skin spots that I have to put on some kind of special cream from the dermatologist, and a creaking set of discs in my neck that give me pause every time I swing my neck around.

I always disliked fall when I was in high school - summer was my time. Fall always meant more clothes, shorter and shorter days, and the inevitable winter.

And boots. Goddamned boots!

It wasn't until I read about how the lack of sunshine can affect you (Seasonal Affective Disorder?) that I caught on to why I found winters tough. It also explains living in California and my love of the south of the border. (OK, I like the margaritas there, too. Ok, senoritas, too..)

Summer was always ahead though, however far. I always knew the ice would break eventually on the lake and I would be sliding my boat back into the water and water skiing was in the future (along with summer school, most likely).

When I look ahead now, I see summer, too, but for me anyway, the days are more precious than ever.

I made a mistake two years ago of guessing that I might live to be 75 (a very big might with my family history). I know that in 2005, that's not that old, but I decided to run the numbers.

Don't do it.

I broke it down from 20 years into months, weeks and days. Even a generous interpretation of the figures says if I want to finish unfinished novels, sail across to the South Pacific, or rescue any damsels from the clutches of evil I damn well better get off my ass and get to it.

Where did I put my sword anyway?

That's the trouble with the autumn of life, you also begin to lose your memory. (Or did I write that earlier in this blog?)

Here's the song for today, kids, from Frank Sinatra:

It Was a Very Good Year

When I was seventeen
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls
And soft summer nights
We’d hide from the lights
On the village green
When I was seventeen

When I was twenty-one
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for city girls
Who lived up the stair
With all that perfumed hair
And it came undone
When I was twenty-one

When I was thirty-five
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for blue-blooded girls
Of independent means
We’d ride in limousines
Their chauffeurs would drive
When I was thirty-five

But now the days grow short
I’m in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine
from fine old kegs
from the brim to the dregs
And it poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year

It was a mess of good years.