A blast from the past

10515319_10202980211960774_5874144911201774641_oAs what may be my family’s last spring break rolls on, here’s my favorite image from the first one, back in 2005. My older daughter–who just turned 18 a few days ago–was in kindergarten at the time, and we spent a week in Arizona.

Near the end of the week, we went to a chuck wagon supper at a place I’ve since forgotten about. One of the attractions ions we could do was pose for an old time where photo in period dress. My kindergartener saw the blue dress and decided she had to wear it. So we all got dressed up, and the photographer captured a literal snapshot in time for us.

To remember that moment, and marvel at how quickly time passes, that snapshot is presented here. Many thanks to my two girls– who will always be “little” in my mind, no matter how old they get– for allowing me to take them to places I otherwise would not have gone. Thanks also to my wife, who picked out a number of interesting places to go over the years.

Yesterday we were at the Japanese garden in Portland, Oregon when a family with three cute little girls caught my attention. I understood, in a way that I couldn’t have back in Arizona, that we are lucky to be where we are at any given moment, and that having children is like a concert or a play that’s over before you want it to be. All we can do is enjoy it while it unfolds, as much as we possibly can. And in the end, we’ll wish we had done more. But the memories of what we did do will just have to be enough.

 

Seems only fitting

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I’m a flatlander from Chicago, so these days of being on a snowy mountain in Tennessee are certainly unique. The beauty of nature is on full display, and in many ways it’s invigorating. Not many people equate Tennessee with snow, but for the rest of my days I will do exactly that.

The circumstances that I find myself in have an interesting parallel to the events going on in Washington, DC this week. The arguments over California’s Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act are hugely important. They will determine the direction of our society for the long term. Either we’re going to have a more tolerant society, when it comes to human rights, or we aren’t. I’m hoping that it’s the former, myself.

As a self-avowed progressive, I believe that change over time is inevitable. Standing pat is never a good option, when people’s rights are involved. If we had done that, slavery would still be legal here in Tennessee, and women would not be permitted to vote. Just as neither of those would be acceptable, I can’t imagine telling a person who wants to get married to a person that they love that they can’t do that.

This is America. Love who you want, and marry or don’t marry as you see fit. God–or people’s guess at what God would say–doesn’t enter into the equation, if this country is going to be what it says it is. I suppose we’ll know the answer to that soon enough, when I’m off this mountain and back in my everyday routine. Here’s hoping that the march of progress continues.

The old beer game

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To follow up on the last post that I wrote, this is an example of what has replaced the old TORCO sign across from Wrigley Field. For all I know, it’s still up there today, and has been there since the season ended in early October. There’s no reason to change it now, since there are no fresh eyes coming to Wrigley Field. But some marketing people are probably already at work, thinking up witticisms to use when next season begins.

“Last call” inside the ballpark seems to begin in about the 5th inning, to the beer vendors who work the stands. But there’s really no such thing, when it comes to alcohol in our society. If you have money, and you want a drink, somebody will find you and make it available to you. That’s the American way.

Whether that’s right or wrong isn’t for me, or anybody else, to say. People make their own decisions in these matters. And now, as marijuana is legal in two states–with more certainly to follow–the same questions will arise. I’ve already seen pictures of people lighting up beneath the Space Needle, and the term “Rocky Mountain High” is about to take on a whole new meaning.

Will the federal government, which bans marijuana, try to force Washington and Colorado to toe the line? Or will other states decide to take the same path in order to force the government’s hand, one way or the other?

If Prohibition taught us anything, it’s that some people are going to use banned substances, while others will make vast amounts of money by providing these substances. For them, the profit will be worth the risk.

Enforcing laws that people aren’t inclined to follow not only drains away resources, but it also breeds contempt for the law in general. And don’t tell me that tourism to Washington and Colorado isn’t picking up, either. This might be the first Spring Break in recorded history where college kids go chasing after snow peaks instead of palm trees.

Besides, I bet there would be some very interesting billboards going up outside of Wrigley Field if legalization ever came to Illinois. Much more interesting than “Last Call,” anyway.

Vive Paris!

France is, and probably always will be, the top tourist destination on earth. And Paris is the biggest reason why. If you’re reading this, I hope you’ve been there at least once before. If not, I hope that you get there before you die. I would hate to die without having experienced it.

My wife and I were in Paris at this time of year, back in 1996. It was Spring Break for me, and we had not yet had any kids, and so we hopped a flight across the proverbial pond and we went. This is her, looking through a travel guide, somewhere near the Seine. The building behind her is draped in the French tricolour, but as an American, they’re my colors, too.

My contention is that everyone looks better with Paris draped all around them. If you’ve been there before, you already know this. And if you haven’t, there’s one way to find out. Just be sure to send me a note about how much fun you had.

Au Revoir!

My family meets the world

The picture above was taken six years ago at the Grand Canyon. My older daughter was in kindergarten then, and for Spring Break so we decided to go someplace fun. I had never been to Arizona before, and so we (me, my wife and two daughters) rented a cabin near Sedona and used it as a base to see different parts of the state.

If I hadn’t been a parent, I doubt Spring Break would have had any meaning to me. In fact, unless there’s somebody in school, there is no such thing. So the fact that we went anywhere to begin with was a direct result of parenting. But we wanted to go and do something interesting, and Arizona fit the bill.

Having never been there before, I missed out on some really interesting things. My parents didn’t take the family traveling when I was young. I understand why, since money was always tight, but I also realize it’s a big world out there, and seeing some of it is better than missing out on all of it.

Since the picture above was taken, my five-year old kindergartner has become a poised twelve-year old in what seems like a month. I hope that she remembers that trip, along the others we’ve taken together since then. She has a little sticker passport book, where you can write down all of the times you’ve been to a particular state. I’m proud that I’ve been able to take her and her sister to see some of the interesting places on this planet of ours.

A week from today, we’ll be packing up for a week in South Dakota before school starts. Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, and things like that. Again, I wouldn’t just up and go to South Dakota on my own. I tell myself I’m taking the kids there so they can see it, but I’m also going there to create a memory for them and for my wife and I.

It’s been a great summer for us, and a great dozen years since they’ve entered my life. But time has–and will continue to–march onward, and in another (seems like) month or so, the older one will be off to college and the younger one will be thinking about it too. Taking a trip, whether it’s to South Dakota or anyplace else, won’t slow down this process at all. But it will fill up her heart, and mine, with the kind of happy memories that sustain us all. And that makes it worth whatever the cost might be.