Saturday, January 2, 2010

Life in My World—The End

What a great Christmas vacation we have had. We ended our vacation with a trip to Seattle.

We went downtown and ate on the wharf.


Some of us like seafood

Grace and Abe
and some of us don’t. The wharf has both.

Then we went to the market to watch them throw fish, listen to the street musicians (the piano player was my favorite), people watch, and add to the disgusting gum wall.



This gum wall is like head lice. You can’t help but feel ick just talking about it. Unlike lice, it is quite fascinating. I don’t know how some of the people get their gum up so high on the wall and it is quite amazing that the gum doesn’t disintegrate in the rain. If looked at individually, the gum colors are really quite beautiful.

Then we walked around Seattle in the rain. Everything we had planned kept falling through (the Science Center, the Underground Tour), but it didn’t seem to matter. We just got wetter and wetter as we walked and improvised with other things. We took the shuttle and made two friends. Ty heard a couple talking in Mandarin and began having a conversation with them and discovered they were from Taipei; the shuttle operator’s name was Abraham so Abe struck up a conversation with him. Oh ho. And the kids used to think I was the friendly one.

Ande, Cali, Angie, Grace, Abe, Ty, Ray

We went out to the great little burger and shake place for supper, where Cali met us before she had to go to work. Ray and Cali knew one of the families that was there eating. They had two little boys between 7-10 years old. The parents brought chess for the little boys to play while they waited for their supper. (It was fun to overhear the boys’ conversation, “Are you SURE you want to make that move?”) They also brought a 25 piece puzzle for the child that was 4 or 5. The shake place is good but a bit slow, and those little kids were so quiet and well-mannered during the wait. I thought chess and a puzzle were brilliant ideas and much more engaging than coloring placemats.

While we were eating Cali got a call saying she could come in to work a few hours later. Wahoo. We went back to Ray and Cali’s home and played a few games. I just sat and observed as they played “Sets” and “Bananagrams”. Pachelbel’s Canon in D was playing in the background, the kids were all huddled on the floor around the games, Calvin was stretched out asleep on the couch with his feet in my lap and I thought, “It just doesn’t get any better than this.” And it doesn’t.

The kids also worked on a puzzle and watched old Little Rascal reruns on the wall downstairs that evening. But come 12:00, Cali rang in the New Year at work, Ande rang it in at a dance, Calvin rang it in his head, while Ray loaded up Grace, Abe, Ty, Angie and me along with a bottle of sparkling cider and paper cups and we went down to the waters’ edge to ring in the New Year. We were straight across the sound from the Space Needle where the firework display was. It was fun to stand there together in the light Seattle mist cheering in the New Year.

Then we went back home and Calvin and I went to bed in our clothes because we had to wake up at 3:00 am to take Abe and Grace to the airport.

Sending Abe and Grace off was sad. It was so good to be with them and have everyone together for two weeks and it’s never fun to break up the party. However, it wasn’t as painful as it could have been because we will go to Colorado to see him off when he deploys in a few months. As long as I know when “next time” is, partings are much easier.

We slept in Friday and then sat, walked, ran, and drove the day away. The visiting was my favorite part of the daytime. Ray kept the conversation going with a multitude of topics. That night we got ready to go to the military ball.


Navy was the host this year hence the gold and blue colors. See those little gold almond shaped things on the table? They are edible. But you have to suck the gold off first. If you tried to bite down on them with your molars before all the gold was gone it was like chewing on tin foil. And the best part? It seemed like only Angie and I liked them so there were plenty; they were good. And for reputation’s sake, the goblets were filled with sparkling cider for the traditional toasts.

Military functions bring out deep feelings for Calvin and me. It's like history collides with the present and creates a tide of emotions. This ball was no different. Sometimes I looked over at Calvin and his eyes were full of tears, other times he was laughing heartily. I felt the same. The evening began when everyone walked through the receiving line and then at the appointed hour entered the doors to the banquet hall and found our reserved seats. After everyone was seated then the attending cadets and midshipmen from the state of Washington marched in to their respective service song/march and introduced themselves and their intended service (military intelligence, special operations, armor, infantry, aviation, etc). They were in their mess dress uniforms and stood tall and proud. You couldn’t help but feel grateful to them and others for the service they give. Then before the meal was eaten, the chaplain offered a heartfelt prayer, blessing the food, the soldiers and sailors who are in harm’s way, those away from home and loved ones, and the families. The traditional lone table that sat in the front of the room was recognized, reminding us of the sacrifice of others that allowed us to celebrate. The table had four place settings representing the branches of the military, the goblets were down-turned as they would not be toasting as they were either fighting or had already given their lives in our service. The lemon on the plate represented the bitter battle they wage for freedom while the salt on the plate represented their tears and the tears of loved ones. After the lone table was appropriately acknowledged, then our food was served. Half of us had salmon and the other half had steak.

We had two speakers after the meal. One was a naval fighter pilot and the other a rear admiral who commands a submarine. They both offered interesting insights and charged the people in the room, especially the cadets and midshipmen, to prepare for the challenges ahead of our country. And then came the ball. The first dance was reserved for the cadets/midshipmen and their parent and then it was open to everyone. Cali and Ray and Ty and Angie danced and danced and danced until they had completely run out of air. Truly, these are fun dances watching the old and young dance together. Calvin and I danced a few, and watching him teach Cali how to swing was really fun, but mostly we just enjoyed visiting and watching the kids enjoy themselves.

Ty and Angie

It was a great night.

old-man strength vs. young muscle

Saturday started with a familiar contest of young muscle vs. old man strength. Young muscle finally won. This is a big achievement. Calvin still does not acknowledge it. Then we ate pomegranates on our oatmeal (very, very good), packed up and all drove to the mall to watch a movie before Ty and Angie had to catch their flights home. And then, just like that, the vacation was over. After Ande leaves tomorrow morning then not only is the vacation over but reality will be back. The end of a wonderful vacation and year, the beginning of new ideas, challenges and growth.


michelle said...

Ivar's, yum!

I have never seen the gum wall, but it gives me the shivers.

I'm glad you took a photo of your place card at the ball and told us about those traditions, I had no idea!

The arm-wrestling photo with reflection is awesome!

I know what you mean about partings being easier when you have a set date for reuniting...

Derek-Jenny-Kaitlynd-Ethan-Dylan said...

What a great time you must have had!
I wish you the best in your next year and beyond!
Love ya!

Kathy said...

NO, it doesn't get better than that!

Robin said...

I met Ty at church today. Whitney G has been going on about what a fine young man he is and I hold the same opinion. He seemed healthy and happy. I have seen you on Julie's blog and thought I'd say hello.

Julie said...

Jane, I have been following all your adventures with everyone home and it looks like you had so much fun! I love your family picture! What a great use of that truck! You have a beautiful family. Models, all of you. The gum wall is gross in an intrigueing kind of way...
Military balls are full of tradition. The ceremony you described is a neat one. It really makes you stop and think. I'm glad you had fun.
Hmmm...Ty and Angie huh? I keep hearing that name. Do we approve?

deidra said...

Picture perfect!

Leigh said...

We set a "lone table" at our house every Veteran's Day. Except we call it the White Table, from the children's book, America's White Table. It's a wonderful tradition.

Thanks for sharing how you set your goals according to the categories from Luke 2:52. I have been looking for inspiration on how to categorize and plan our 2010 YW activities with a purpose, and that idea just lept out at me when I read it. We will now be planning an educational, physical, and spiritual activity each month, with out combined YM/YW activities filling the social spot. Perfect!

Jill said...

I've never heard about that gum wall before, yuck but fascinatingly so!

I adore your family and love reading about the fun things you do together.

Grace said...

I wish Abe and I could have gone to the ball. I got that nostalgic feeling just reading about it. I'm sure there will be many more dinners/balls in the future though.
You do such a good job writing. I think it's so great that you record all the little things so that we can read them again in the future. We are so happy we decided to go to Washington for Christmas. I love you!