Monday, June 11, 2007

blog's going dark

for a while, at least. Got some figurin' to do.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

last night, looking up

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

no words

I wanted to post the joyful story of our Disneyland adventure before sitting down and writing out this one. Truth is, I've gone back and forth, wondering if I should even blog about this subject at all, but since it's been weighing heavily on my mind since late last week, I'll go ahead and share it here. Warning, though: If you don't particularly want to learn of someone else's tragedy, I suggest skipping this one.

I got a call last Friday, just hours before we were to head home from Southern California, that a local family was involved in a horrendous accident in which three of their four children perished. They were also in SoCal at the time, not terribly far from where we were enjoying ourselves without a care. Now, I understand that this is a tragedy of nearly unthinkable proportions no matter where it happens, but when I say "local," I'm talking about a town that's not even a town, and that can't be found on most major maps. I believe we're called an "incorporated area," though the homesteaders and a well-known wagon party were here at least as early as they were in Flagstaff to the east of us. The enrollment at our little local school - once a one-room schoolhouse next to the railroad tracks - is up in recent years: I think they had just over a hundred kids this year, from Kindergarten through eighth grade.

Two of the children killed were students at the school.

A few weeks ago, our community came together for a spaghetti feast/Bingo night benefitting a much-loved employee at the school who is battling a serious illness. She was the first person I met there when I was still debating whether to homeschool or not, and her warmth and obvious love for the students was one of the things that convinced me that maybe public school wouldn't be so bad for our son.

I remember looking around the gym that night a few weeks ago, paper plate in hand, and agreeing with one of the cafeteria ladies who, with tears in her eyes, said something about what a special community we had. I remember thinking how hard it was to believe that someone we all knew so well was battling something life-threatening. I remember laughing with friends that night, all of us keeping an eye on each others' children to make sure they didn't fall off the bleachers or get too wild. We also watched those kids because most people around here seem to understand that life doesn't get much better than that. We cheer for those kids at games. We marvel at how fast they grow from year to year ("Seems like I saw your daughter just yesterday, getting on the school bus, and she was just a little girl. Now look at her!"). We open our doors to those kids when a family's at wit's end and needs extra help - or when the parents are just delayed in town.

Today was the last day of school, and no one knew quite how it would go, since everyone is still reeling from last Friday's news. It was debated whether the traditional Field Day - the tug-of-war, the basketballs-balanced-on-plungers relay, the barbeque - should be cancelled. It wasn't, and that was a good thing. Because despite the unthinkable enormity of what has happened here, those kids still need to be kids. They need to mark the end of another school year not just with tears and confusion, but with laughter, with the kind of joyous celebration of the start of summer at which schoolchildren excel. So, against the nearby backdrop of the growing memorial of flowers and teddy bears and posters of the three children's faces framed by notes upon notes from all the people who loved them, our kids laughed, and played, and leaned back against that rope as hard as they could until the other team collapsed, also laughing, onto the sand.

Another benefit dinner/Bingo night is planned for tomorrow in the gym, and it looks like the memorial service will be held at the end of this week, also at the school. This seems fitting, not just because the school is pretty much the central meeting place of our little "incorporated area" in the pines (the mercantile comes in a distant second). Mostly, it's fitting because the final farewell for those three children will happen where the heart and soul of our community - those hundred or so students - spend much of their vibrant young lives on this mountain.

There is a time for everything...a time to weep and a time to laugh...a time to mourn and a time to dance....
~Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

"Life is short. Shorter for some than for others."
~Augustus McCrae from Lonesome Dove

So, I suppose this post is mis-titled. I suppose there really are words that can be used to describe, to wonder, to grieve. It's just that they seem wholly inadequate for the task of comprehending how quickly life can change, how quickly this present world can matter not one bit, and how there had better be something else we cling to with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our minds and with all our strength, if hope is to prevail.

Monday, June 04, 2007

I'm baaaaaack

For those of you who have emailed, tried to leave comments, etc. for the past week or so, please forgive me, as I was working from a place that didn't allow me to access my Blogger account. Or maybe Blogger was just being bratty - I'm not sure which.


Since my last post I've been deeply immersed in birthday stuff for my son, which included the following: bringing cupcakes to his classroom, celebrating at a Flagstaff park with a bunch of his/our friends before heading to the movie theater to watch Shrek the Third (funny, but definitely the weakest of the three Shreks, in my opinion), hosting a slumber party, and then, on his actual birthday a couple days later, surprising him with a trip to the House of Mouse:

Say what you will about Disney. Despite the corporate shenanigans in recent years, and the schmaltz, I truly, madly, deeply love that Happiest Place on Earth. My first memory there is from when my parents brought me and my brother there when I was four, and I looked out through our hotel window at the late-night fireworks lighting up the sky. I also remember the Country Bear Jamboree (which is now where Winnie the Pooh and Friends is located) and that cool "Inner Space"-type attraction, where they shrank you down to the size of a bug (which is now Star Tours). The old submarines have been renovated, and will open this week as the new Finding Nemo subs.

Last year, while living in California, a big family group of us visited the park and upgraded our tickets to annual passes (a great deal if you've already bought multi-day tickets), so I wanted to get us there before our passes expired later this month.

And what a week it was. As if the surprise of the trip wasn't enough for our boy, we stepped onto Main Street that first day just as a huge parade with all the classic Disney characters in full regalia was approaching. Then (this was painstakingly arranged), I turned him around and said, "Who's that walking toward us?" as my mom and nephew (who is the same age, give or take a few weeks) approached. We haven't seen them since moving back to Arizona at Christmas-time, so it was quite emotional and awesome. Suffice it to say that the boy was stunned. He quickly got over it, though, and we spent the next five days in total, full-tilt Disney immersion.
Dude. It so totally rocked.

Last year we were there for the Pirates of the Caribbean; Dead Man's Chest premiere, and, while I didn't yet have the Nikon back then, I camped out next to the red carpet on Main Street for SEVEN hours just to get this picture of Orlando (insert dreamy sigh):

And this picture of Keira (gorgeous girl, but MAN was she wearing too much makeup that night):

The Governator passed right by...

As did Johnny, though he was bringing up the rear of the celebrity parade, and went by much too fast and far away for me to get a decent pic (he's the one in the fedora):

We missed the red carpet premiere of At World's End by a couple of weeks this year, which was just as well. And heading toward the park on Memorial Day might have been a bad idea traffic-wise, but it also meant that we didn't have to deal with any massive crowds for the whole week. That was cool.

I stayed with the boys most of the time, which meant that the week was filled with all the crazy, thrilling rides like Splash Mountain, the Matterhorn, Space Mountain, Indiana Jones and Star Tours. Meanwhile, my mom and daughter cruised through A Bug's Land via a Heimlich the Caterpillar coach multiple times, sailed through A Small World and joined us for rides like Pirates and Soarin' Over California (one of my all-time favorites in the California Adventure park). I had to go back to the hotel in the afternoons to log into work for a few hours, but it actually worked out fine, since the afternoons are generally when we'd start to poop out anyway. We ate way too much junk food, but since the train was out of service the whole time we were there, we walked most of it off. I'm hoping to post pictures soon, but we used only those throw-away film cameras, and I don't know if I'll be able to get them on a disc.

And now that we're back to "real life," I'm experiencing those familiar, post-Christmas-type blues that happen after a trip to Disneyland. Most people are probably relieved when it's time to leave the chirpy music and the cutesy facades of the Main Street stores, and the hordes of children on a communal sugar high, and the long waits to get on the rides (if you weren't smart enough to get your FastPass tickets).

Not me. I'd go back tomorrow if I could.

Come to think of it, our annual passes don't expire until the 20th.


If only my bank account balance looked as promising as the view from FantasyLand.