Friday, December 16, 2016

By Michael

The girls reunited on Roosevelt Island
with some members of their former
homeschooling co-op class.
From Sydney, Australia, we flew 14 hours direct to San Francisco. None of us are very good plane sleepers so it’s easy to imagine how tired and jetlagged (and smelly) we were upon landing at SFO. We had a 6-hour layover and we planned to spend it visiting with some of Windy’s family who live close by. So it was customs, immigration, and whisked away from curbside to Aunt Margaret’s house for brunch. We were happy to see everyone, but before we knew it we were back in the car, back to SFO, and onto another plane for a 5-hour flight to Washington, D.C.

When we touched down at Reagan National we were zombies.

The girls were born in the District, both of them in the same upstairs bedroom of the house we sold to go cruising. Their riddle for stumping people goes something like: “I was born in the continental United States, but not in any of the United States.”

It was nice to return. This was my first visit to the District since we left in 2011 (Windy and the girls have been back since then). We stayed with our friends and former neighbors and got there just before Halloween, which meant the girls got to trick-or-treat in their old ‘hood and Eleanor got to celebrate her birthday with friends. Our only mistake was in planning for this stop to be for only a week. Windy and I were sick (later diagnosed with bronchitis) and severely jetlagged and didn’t even have enough time to see all of the people we would have liked to, nor to spend as much time as we would have liked with those we did see. A month later, much of that week seems like a foggy dream.

Frances digs carving pumpkins.
Then we packed up again and flew back across country, this time into LAX, from where my people hail. Still sick and still jetlagged, we crashed at my sister’s place for nearly three weeks. There we finally unpacked for real and sorted ourselves out for the 4- to5-month stay in Ajo we’re anticipating. We bought a truck, we worked on the truck, and we bought home renovation tools and such at garage sales. When we were ready, we packed up our new ride, said goodbye, and made the all-day drive to Arizona.

That’s where we are now.

The house is much worse than we planned for and imagined, but it’s all good. More on that later.

Back in Fiji, reports indicate the weather has so far been kind this season, but that’s to be expected mid-December. February is usually when Mother Nature starts whipping up the big ones. According to folks there in Savusavu, Del Viento is still floating on her lines.

I’m already missing the old gal.


Host Aunt Margaret (r) and a few other members of the
San Francisco clan who joined our layover party.

To the left of Frances is most of the Bleimehl family,
our former neighbors, dear friends, and hosts. To the
right of Frances is Kelly and her daughter, Novie.
Kelly and Novie are like a second family to the
girls; Kelly watched them for a few years while
Windy was working.

Anne and Caden, more dear D.C. friends and former neighbors.
Eleanor eagerly receiving a birthday gift from the
Bleimehl girls.
Many such photos of this gang have been taken
on this porch swing over  the years. From left to
right: a raccoon, Hermione from Harry Potter,
Princess Mononoke from a Hayao Miyazaki film,
Satan, and the headless horseman.

Novie (in her new Fiji rugby shirt) and Eleanor.
Frances with Georgia, the cat the Bleimehls adopted from
us when we left to go cruising.

The Bleimehls took our hens too, but they're all
long dead. This is one of the replacements.

Novie and the girls.

Kelly and the girls.

Ally, Eleanor, and Caden.

Windy spent a decade as a cartographer at
National Geographic. Here's Frances visiting the
old job site.

Mary Kate, former NGS colleague and dear friend.

The girls watching a woman make wontons in front of
their favorite (and Windy's favorite) Chinese place in the city.
This place was talked about for months in anticipation before
we left Fiji. I'm not so into it.

This caption will serve to document my lack of taste
and cement my place among the lowly class of folks
who can't understand some fine art. So we're in one of the
National Gallery of Art buildings and I happen upon
this docent (I think she's a professor) explaining the
magnificence and importance of this piece. It's a large
framed canvas that appears to be all black. It's by Ad Reinhardt.
It was painted in the early 1960s. It "challenges viewers to
reconsider their definition of art. Essential elements
such as subject matter, brushwork, color, and composition
are seemingly purged. Yet if you make an effort, the
painting might reveal a nuanced composition of
multiple rectangles formed by thinly veiled layers
of dark pigment." To me, that sounds like a parody.

Still in the Gallery.

You can't go back girls.

The home we rebuilt ourselves over 10 years, the one
I've not seen since we drove away from the closing
in 2011. I'm a tad wistful for the life we left behind, but
only because it wasn't a bad life. I'm happy we made
our decision to go off on an entirely different path
and we've found this cruising life to be equally suited to us.
We've seen and experienced so much.

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