Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Bargaining is Fun

Kevin opened his bible this morning and his eyes fell on Ps. 69:1: "Save me O God, for the waters have risen up to my neck." Kevin told me that he hopes this isn’t a ‘sign’ from God about what will happen when we take on a big mortgage.

Honestly, though, everything is working out perfectly. Almost too perfect. We inquired about purchasing the seller’s beautiful two-year-old refrigerator and, after finding out that we wouldn’t make a big deal about a few hairline cracks in the entry way tiles, she decided to throw in the fridge for no additional charge. She’s also throwing in the washer and dryer. This means that the only ‘major’ purchase we’ll need to make ASAP is a lawnmower. Everything else can wait until the budget allows. Whew!

The seller’s agent said that she was very amused that two lawyers were willing to sign an arbitration agreement. Interestingly, this was something we balked at doing. But, in the end, we decided to make the offer as clean as possible and sign everything. The moral of the story? Even lawyers will make concessions when they want to buy a house in a seller’s market.


Whoever said the third try is a charm was mistaken. For us, it was actually the fifth try that was the charm. The fifth offer we made on a house has been accepted. [Insert loud, resounding trumpet fanfare, wild, victorious cheers, and booming canon blasts.] Our new Realtor (who has a very different approach in making offers than our previous Realtor; buying houses can be complicated, I’m learning) called us last night at 10:30 to tell us the good news. We were elated. The last thing Kevin said before he promptly fell asleep was, "I hope I won’t be up all night thinking about it." As it turns out, I was the one up until 2 AM thinking about it!! There are a lot of things we love about this house but the best thing is probably the wood flooring all throughout the first floor. And the kitchen has black appliances, which I think is very cool. Those of you who have already purchased a home know exactly what we are feeling right now. It’s a strange combination of extreme excitement and extreme nervousness. We are excited about our new house. (I’ve already pulled out all of my home decorating books and Kevin is thinking about landscaping.) We are nervous about having a mortgage. (Maybe not so many weekend getaway trips from now on!) Whatever happens, we are relieved that we won’t have to be running around looking at houses, reviewing offers, having our hopes dashed when they don’t get accepted, etc. All of that was rather stressful. I’m glad it’s behind us. As soon as I get a picture of the house I’ll scan it and post it. Unfortunately, I have a bad reputation for promptly developing film. But I’ll try.

Monday, July 26, 2004

We'll Always Have Virginia

Last night we had a great visit with Nathan Richmond, out here to take the bar exam.  It was fun to reminisce about the good ol' days in Virginia.  Wow.  Floods of memories.  I think we need to visit Virginia again sometime soon.   It would be a great shot in the arm.  I’ve never been anyplace so consistently beautiful and completely inspiring.  Although it wouldn’t be the same . . . it sounds like a lot of things have changed . . . it would still be Virginia, a little spot of heaven on earth. 

White Knuckler

This past weekend we drove up to Sequoia to meet my parents.  It took us quite a bit longer than we anticipated.  We were anxious to get there and really didn’t notice our gas gauge was almost on empty.  Our new car has this cool little thing-a-ma-jig that lets us know how many miles we have left before we run out of gas.  As we were driving along the mountainside we saw a sign that said “Sequoia National Park, 35 miles.”  We then looked at our dashboard and noticed that we only had 29 miles left of petrol.  (Not good.)  You have to understand, we were in the middle of nowhere.  (Very not good.)  And there are BEARS in Sequoia.  (Extra very not good.)  We saw a sign that said “Pinehurst, 5 miles” and decided to take a fork in the road that led to Pinehurst.  We descended elevation quickly, coasting in neutral as much as possible, on a wing and a prayer that Pinehurst would have a gas station.  It turns out, the only thing in Pinehurst besides a few log cabins was an old lodge for passersby to stop in and have some booze.  The ‘gentleman’ behind the bar told Kevin that the closest gas station was one we’d passed by thirty minutes ago and it was surely closed by now.  He said the closest gas station that would be open was about sixty miles away.  (More bad news.)  The best bet for us, he said, was to try to make it to Lodgepole.  He offered no more helpful advice, so we begin climbing the mountain again, Kevin clutching the wheel and me clutching my seat. 

We hardly spoke at all because we were both tense.  By this time, it was past ten o’clock at night.  I was silently planning out what we could do . . . we could either go as far as we could until we died and then hike the rest of the way OR we could just pull over to the side of the road and sleep, trying to ignore the thought of hungry bears prowling around us.  That last thought caused me to involuntarily shudder.  (I've seen pictures where bears have mauled through cars because they've smelled the scent of a tube of toothpaste or food items left in the trunk.)

Periodically, on our ascent, I would glance at the gauge that told us how many miles we had left until we ran out of gas.  19 . . . 18 . . . 17 . . . 16 . . . 15 . . . and then it stopped and started blinking wildly as if to tell us DANGER, WE CANNOT COUNT FOR YOU ANYMORE.  As we continued on our way, I told Kevin I felt like the astronauts in Apollo 13 as all the systems were starting to shut down. 

When it seemed as if we would be in NEVADA at any moment, we finally made it to the entrance of the park.  No one told us that it would be at least another hour to Lodgepole.  Every mile was an answer to prayer.  I remarked to Kevin, “Who needs gas when we have God?”  Kevin replied, “I’m sure that God doesn’t appreciate our stupidity.”  (We both felt irresponsible for forgetting to fuel up earlier in the day.)  Incredibly, we made it to the campsite!!  It was such a relief.  It was pitch dark (nearly 11:30) when we arrived and I think my parents had given up on us and had gone to bed.  We laughed with joy as we stumbled through the rocky campsite.  Although we’d have to set up our tent in the dark, at least we wouldn’t have to sleep in the car.  And that was cause for much delight.  I still will never figure out how we made it all the way.  Unless the mileage countdown gizmo was wrong, it surely must have been a bona fide miracle. 

. . . The highlights of the weekend, for us, included hiking up to the top of a waterfall (which has now dwindled down to a trickle) and playing in a bunch of little pools with the little kids.  David ‘accidentally’ slid into one of the pools and soon the rest of them jumped in to cool off.  We also enjoyed watching the constellations with Betsy and Steve.  Every ten seconds or so, we’d see shooting stars.  It was like our own little God-made fireworks show.  Kevin was amazed at the giant forest.  The General Sherman tree is the largest living THING in the world.  We drove our car (now fully gassed) through the center of a tree and got pictures.  Fun times. 

Friday, July 23, 2004


Remember how I dragged Kevin off to that contradance several weeks ago?  Well, I just knew I’d have to pay for that somehow.  Last night was the night.  Kev’s chorale was having a summer sing-along.  It was open to the public but I had this feeling that I’d be the only ‘amateur’ there.  I could just envision it . . . I’m sitting there screeching out my notes while everyone else is radiating perfectly round operatic tones.  (I do just fine at the campfire.  But this definitely wasn’t the campfire.)  People in Kev’s chorale take singing very seriously.  And many of them are rather uppity about it.  As we were walking into the cathedral Methodist church downtown, Kevin happens to mention that we’ll be singing in Latin.  Oh great.  That made me especially strained.  Afterall, I have enough trouble with English.

We sang Mozart’s Coronation Mass.  And (can you believe it?) I even remember what key it was in!  C major.  I guess Mozart liked to compose things in C major because most composers thought it was a boring key.  But Mozart, being the mastermind that he was, liked to prove them wrong.  So, that’s the only reason I know it was in C major.  Anyway, I got lost several times while trying to sing all those ‘dona nobis pacems.’  And I was horrified when one kind lady sitting next to me said, “You’re doing a great job.”  Frankly, I was trying not to be heard.  (When she said that I determined to sing even quieter.)  And I’m sure that was just a way for her to ‘encourage’ the newcomer.  Well, it was nice of her, but I know it wasn’t true. 

We had cookies at the break time.  That was fun.  And I got to meet some of Kevin’s friends.  That was also nice. 

They’re going to have another one in mid-August.  Since my experience last night wasn’t as bad as I was expecting (actually, it was kinda fun in its own way), I might go with him again.  But people better not expect me to join the chorale.  ‘Cuz I still think I make a much better spectator than I would a member.  And, gosh, the audition alone would totally freak me out. 

Grease Monkeys

Please let the record reflect that I HATE CAR MECHANICS.  No offense to any of you out there who are, or aspire to be, a car mechanic.  I’m sure you are an exception to the rule. 

My theory is that car mechanics mail you coupons for really cheap oil changes so they can lure you into their shops and then charge you an arm and a leg for all these extra things that “you really need done or your car will simply fall apart within a half mile of driving it on the freeway.”  (We’ve all heard the rhetoric.)  Last time we got an oil change, we ended up paying like $500 when it was all said and done.  This morning, we had a mechanic quote us $25 to install a light bulb in our car (and we had already purchased and supplied the light bulb)!!!  Our response was: “No thank you, that is highway robbery.  We will figure out how to do it OURSELVES.  We will go to the LIBRARY and check out a BOOK on it.  We will search the INTERNET (yay for Google).  It is the INFORMATION AGE and we will NOT be imbeciles and fall prey to your shady, twisted schemes.”

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Math is Scary

A: Angela says we’re going to lose valuable one-on-one time because we won’t be commuting to work together as often. 
K: Amy, do you really think having a second car is going to hurt our relationship?
A: No, I mean, it was only ten minutes, twice a day, anyway. 
K: Huh.  Let’s see . . . twenty minutes a day, five times a week, is 100 minutes.  That’s more than an hour and a half a week.  And, um, let’s see . . . [squinting his eyes and thinking silently] . . . that’s more than 86 hours, which is more than 3 ½ days every year that we won’t be talking to each other. 
A: Okay, now I’m worried. 


I happened on this quote from an article about a group of conservative counter-protesters. They were counter-protesting an anti-war protest carrying signs reading:

"Except for Ending Slavery, Fascism, Nazism and Communism, War Has Never Solved Anything."

Isn't that a great soundbite?

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Just philosophizing

Well, I’m still trying to find the precise definition of a rose.  The only helpful thing I’ve found so far is this statement on one website: “Biology tells us that all roses have in common important properties that no one has discovered yet.”
Developing . . .
Last night we said “goodbye” to Colin and Shannon at the airport.  Very sad.  We really enjoyed our visit with them.  We stopped by Old Sac on our way to the airport – just to squeeze out a few more drops of fun memories.  ;-)
It seems to me that there’s always something in life to regret (when your siblings have to leave town, the good ol’ times, etc.) and always something in life to look forward to (seeing them again, making more memories, etc.).

And now I’m sitting here at my computer on my lunch break as life continues to move on . . .

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


Today I think the temperatures in my office have been consistently below zero. My teeth have been chattering all morning long. (Well, not quite . . . but it’s more fun to imagine that they were.) ;-) To warm up, I walked over to the World Peace Rose Garden during my lunch break. (If I’d had a blanket with me, I would have laid down on the capitol lawn and taken a nap underneath the warmth of the sun.) Despite the fact that the rose garden has been made into a politically correct, anti-war showcase, it really is beautiful. It’s amazing how many different types of roses exist in this world. All kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some of them don’t even look like roses. This makes me wonder what exactly constitutes a rose. Hmmm. I’ll have to look into that.

As I basked in the warm rays, I thanked God for sunshine and flowers.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars . . .

We took a very scenic route to San Francisco on Saturday. We drove on the bay side of Marin Co. until we got to Tiburon. The North Bay truly is a splendid place. As we were driving along, we spotted two chubby faced kids sitting on a corner with a big, homemade sign that read "Lemonade, 50 cents." It’s been years since I’ve seen a lemonade stand. The kids were so adorable - we had to stop. The little boy scooped the ice and filled the cups while the little girl counted the coins. Kev said that his lemonade tasted like sunscreen. (Heh, heh.)

According to Kevin, there’s a famous property law case out of Tiburon. As we walked on the boardwalk, he pointed out the various signs that cited code sections enacted because of this case. (Ahhhh, the wonderful contributions lawyers have made to the world.) We found a really cool cafĂ© that sells gelato in Tiburon. I was happy about this.  Gelato is hard to find, you know?

We met Colin and Shannon in Sausilito and found a nice restaurant, perched over the water, with a full view of the downtown skyline. As the sun set beyond the Golden Gate, the skyline shone vibrantly with different shades of yellow, orange, and purple. That evening we explored the Palace of Fine arts and then drove up to Coit Tower and through China Town. The next day we spent pretty much the whole morning and early afternoon in the Exploratorium. We were only planning on staying for two hours. But, as Shannon said, "that’s what you get when you bring along two science nerds." Seriously, though, it was a blast. Everything was a hands-on experience. (And it was the type of place where you wanted to take a shower with hot water and bleach afterwards to kill all the germs!) We learned something fascinating about Kevin while at one exhibit. He sees colors in different tones than the rest of us. ( No wonder we disagree about the color of something now and then!) The cones in Kev’s eyes see more greenish tones and the cones in Colin’s, Shannon’s, and my eyes see more reddish tones. It was hysterical. The rest of the morning we kept asking him, "Hey, Kev, what color is this?" Poor guy. We love him anyway.

We also went to the largest tourist trap in the whole city - Fisherman’s Wharf. But, hey, you’ve gotta go at least once. Kevin is the only one among us who likes seafood. So, he got some while there. It was fun to see the famous S.F. street performers. I was very happy that we were all successfully frightened by the notorious "bush man" in S.F. There’s this guy that sits down on the sidewalk between Pier 39 and Ghirardelli’s behind some branches (so he looks like a bush) and then, when people least expect it, he reaches out and scares them. It’s great fun to be scared by him - and then watch him scare other people. We drove through Nob Hill, drove by the Victorian Painted Ladies, drove through Golden Gate park, etc., etc. San Francisco is truly the most beautiful, most colorful, most interesting city in the world. Every time I go back there, I’m reminded of it. As we left the city, the signature fog started rolling in. What a wonderful day.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Hidden thoughts revealed . . .

Last night Kev called two of his sibs, Colin and Shannon, who are en route, via Seattle, to our house. He has been jumping up and down with excitement to be able to see them this weekend. I am ecstatic also but have refrained from the jumping aspect. Col and Shann are driving out a car we are buying, at a discounted price, from Kevin’s dad. We are happy that we will once again be a two-car family. Yay!

A: Kev, are you excited about the new car?
K: Yes. The great thing is that I will be able to plan the end of my work day better.
A: Yeah, on some days you may even get home before I do.
K: I hope not.
A: Why would that be so terrible?
K: ‘Cuz then I might have to fix dinner.

(Hey, at least he always does the dishes for me. I can’t complain.)


This morning I was pondering pride. It suddenly came to me that pride is the result of comparing ourselves with other people. And humility is the result of comparing ourselves to God. It’s horrible to have to admit but often I think people, myself included, have the tendency to look around and think "I’m doin’ pretty durn good." But if we look at who Christ is, that’s when we see ourselves falling woefully short. That’s when we discover how much we need to grow.

The last several days I’ve been reading In His Steps by Charles Sheldon. Although it’s a Christian classic, I’d never read it before. (Well, actually, believe it or not, I read the comic book by the same title when I was a kid. So I’m somewhat familiar with the story.) I’ve found the book to be very interesting. I’m not sure I agree with everything but, for the most part, it’s been very challenging and thought-provoking.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Brag on Kevin TIME

Last night Kevin called me on his way home from the Bay. I was also in the car, driving home from work. In mid sentence, Kevin nonchalantly said, "I’ve been hit." "You’ve been whaaa . . .?" I asked. "I’ve gotta go," he replied, simply. Out of the two of us, you’d think it’d be ME that would get in the car accident while talking on the cell phone. But, nooooooo. It was Mr. "I-have-a-perfect-driving-record-Kevin." But it wasn’t his fault - so I guess he’ll still have the spotless record after all. Kev wasn’t able to call me back for quite some time but eventually I learned that it was a teenage kid who rear-ended him on the freeway during rush hour. The kid admitted fault and Kevin got a favorable police report. So hopefully this whole thing won’t turn into a headache. I was glad Kevin was unruffled about it all. He handled this inconvenience very admirably.

Aaaannnndddd . . . Kevin will kill me for putting this in the blog, but he was paid a very nice compliment by another attorney at the deposition who told him during a break that he did a GREAT JOB conducting the deposition and this particular attorney was very impressed with Kevin. So, anyway, I’m a very proud wife right now. *beaming*

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Chocolat Fondue

Yesterday I was bemoaning the fact that Kevin was going to be out of town on business for the evening and I would be bored. (He stayed overnight in the Bay Area so he could take some depositions early this morning.) Last night, as I was headed home from work, I decided to be spontaneous and invite a few girlfriends over for some homemade chocolat fondue. I scrambled to find a recipe - chocolate with a hint of coffee, went grocery shopping, picked up the house, made the fondue, washed the strawberries, etc., set the table, and was ready just in time. Whala! Us girls had a fantastic time of eating, talking and vegging. Angela brought over two different chick flicks (she couldn’t decide which one to get) and we ended up watching both of them. They were both seriously lame - but we didn’t really care. When Kevin called me at 11 o’clock to say goodnight, we were just starting our second movie. Kevin was incredulous, "Amy, don’t you have to work tomorrow?" Yes, in fact, I did. But, hey, you’ve gotta live a little.

It’s funny because two of the friends that I hang out with the most right now, besides Kevin, are in very different stages of life than me. Angela is 17 and is just now excited to get her first car, start her first job, etc. Karen is 42 and is raising a teenage daughter and managing a nonprofit organization. Sometimes I think we can have preconceived notions about "who" our closest friends should be. But something I’ve learned about friendship is that wonderful things come when we are open to the "unlikely" friends God chooses to place in our path.

Six Years: Does it matter?

Today a friend of mine is going to the funeral of a six year old boy. This boy has an interesting story. His parents adopted him when his birth mother told his mom ("Linda") that she would have an abortion unless Linda adopted her baby. Believing that the child’s life should be spared, Linda agreed to take the baby. The family had six wonderful years with this delightful young boy. He was diagnosed, only two months ago, with an inoperable, malignant brain tumor. He is now in heaven with his Maker. God bless the courageous family who adopted this boy and gave him six years of life. God bless those who believe that all life is sacred - from conception to natural death.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Water Wars

On Saturday, after having a lovely breakfast with Joel and Veronica at LaBou Bakery, Kev and I joined some friends for a time of rafting on the American River. Our group had four rafts, with 4-6 people in each raft. Because of the protected areas around the American River, it felt like we were in the middle of “nowhere,” even though we were still within Sacramento city limits. Most of the people on this trip were strangers to us. They were all part of a college and career group at another church. As we got into our rafts to float down the river, I anticipated a peaceful, relaxing journey.


Within seconds, another boat in our party started attacking us with super soakers. They also had a bucket which they used to dip into the river and fling water at us. My clothes (which I wore over my swimsuit) were instantly drenched. Some of the guys in our boat started attacking back. Pretty soon we were engaged in an all-out Water War. For the first half of our four-hour rafting trip, the war fervently continued. Several times our boat was sabotaged and we were all thrown into the water. In addition to combat with the other boats, we also had to beware of individuals standing on the side of the riverbank spraying us with their water guns. (The people of Sacramento are WILD. That’s what I’ve decided, anyway!) Halfway down the river, after battling some small rapids, we stopped for lunch. I, for one, immensely enjoyed the lunch hiatus. It was great to lay out in the sun, dry myself off and enjoy the summertime breezes.

After lunch, I made sure to crawl inside a “dry boat,” with comrades that weren’t so war-crazed, so I could enjoy peacefully floating down the river without having water sprayed in my face at every turn. Although the Water War was fun, the post-lunch sanity was also nice. Toward the end of our journey, we came upon some multi-million dollar homes perched on cliffs overlooking the river. It was fun to house-watch. And dream . . .

The Etiquette of Dance

After our American River adventure, we came home, ate a quick supper and then headed downtown to go to a contradance I found out about online. When we lived in Virginia I had gone contradancing with friends several times and loved it. As we drove downtown, Kevin reminded me what a favor he was doing in agreeing to go with me and that I should never doubt his love.

We were the only people under the age of fifty at this dance. Most of them were much older than that. Kevin said he really enjoyed the dancing itself, learning all the different formations. He loved the live band, etc. But he hated the “dance etiquette” that dictates that you have to change partners whenever asked. Basically, Kevin hated the fact that all these old men were constantly asking me to dance with them and it would have been “rude” for me to say no. (What could I do? The first guy who asked me was bald except for a long scraggily gray ponytail. He also had big purple beads around his neck and really bad breath. It was very gross, trust me. I kept telling Kevin, “Do you think I wanted to dance with him?”)

Another thing about contradance is that you have to make eye contact with your partner or else you’ll get dizzy. Kevin said it was very weird to have all these strange ladies making eye contact with him while twirling. “Especially when this one elderly Asian lady said ‘Oh, you’re a tall one,’ and started gazing deeply and rolling her eyebrows.”

Back to this whole “dance etiquette” thing . . . Although contradancing is a fun activity in and of itself, one of the primary reasons we went is because we enjoy being together. Our goal of being together was defeated because we were hardly together at all. I guess that was the main frustration. Especially for poor Kev.

If it’s up to me, and I happen upon Kevin in a weak moment, we’ll probably go again – because I had a great time in spite of it all. If it’s up to Kevin, we probably won’t go back. This morning Kevin told his friend (and co-worker) Matt what we did on Saturday night and that I “unfortunately” will probably want to go back sometime. Matt is also married to a strong and energetic woman. I think he and Kevin understand each other and often commiserate at the office. Matt said, “Kevin, my man, it's time to put your foot down.”

No Duckling Left Behind . . .

Yesterday, we were too late for Sunday School and too early for church and so we parked our car at Land Park across from a pond and talked. We were interrupted when we observed a mother duck helping her nine little ducklings across the road, toward the pond. Within seconds we completely forgot our topic of conversation and watched as the mother duck hopped up the curb, onto the grass, leaving the ducklings behind to struggle up the curb on their own. The tiny ducklings kept jumping and jumping, trying to make it. But they kept slamming into the side of the curb and falling down on their backs. It was hysterical to watch them. We felt sorry for the poor creatures. Finally, six of them made it but the three smallest and weakest ducklings were left behind. After about five more minutes of struggle, I turned to Kev and said, “We have to do something to help them.” There was a section of curb that was significantly lower than the rest of the curb and my goal was to help guide the ducklings to that section. The ducklings were terrified of me and kept running past that section of curb. After several minutes of watching my unsuccessful attempts, Kevin joined me and the two of us together were able to guide the ducklings to the right spot. It was very satisfying to see them scurry across the grass to join their mother. It was our good deed for the day! The funny thing is . . . I was mad at Kevin about something (as perfect as he is, can you imagine?!). After working together to help the poor ducklings, my irritation became stupid and insignificant. I never thought I’d be taught a lesson in perspectives from three darned little ducklings!

Friday, July 09, 2004

The Secret Lives of Wives

I just read an interesting (and very disturbing) article explaining that affairs by married women are on the rise. The feminists seem happy that "women have suddenly begun to give themselves the same permission to step over the boundary the way that men have." An example is given of a woman who falls in love with a handsome stay-at-home dad she meets at a playground. "The affair doesn’t last but it gives her the impetus she needs to leave her husband, a weaselly man with a fetish for the underpants of a swinger he met online." Okay . . . the problem I have with this is that it implies that two wrongs make a right. It suggests that if someone else acts wrongly, it gives you the liberty to act badly as well. And then it incorrectly implies that, once you’ve made that decision, all is wonderful in the world.

The article went on to say that one reason women have affairs is that they are overworked and their husbands are "inattentive." And pray tell me, why are feminists "happy" that women are having more affairs if having an affair is the result of being exhausted and in a bad marriage?!! Now, I understand that you people who read my blog are intelligent enough to figure out that feminists absolutely do not look out for the best interests of women. I just pity those who do. Wake up!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

This and That

This is why I’m not planning to run for office. Everything you say is broadcast to the entire world. Although, I can’t imagine what possessed Riordan to make these remarks. How stupid can you get?

This morning, I dragged myself out of bed to walk 1.7 miles with Kevin. This is the second time I’ve performed the morning ritual with him. He’s been rather consistent about it for the past few weeks. He tells me that "it takes thirty days to form a good habit and only one day to break it." He would like to walk at least two miles every day but hasn’t found a route near our house that will allow for that. This morning I suggested that he simply zig-zag back and forth across each street. Not only would that help him reach his goal of two miles, it would provide some healthful entertainment for the neighbors. (Wink, wink.) He didn’t seem too thrilled about this idea.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Fourth Festivities

This Independence day, 2004, Kevin started a new Koons family tradition. He said that we should read the Declaration of Independence on every 4th of July because, after all, that’s what the holiday is all about. It’s a very patriotic thing to do.

Last year at this time we were in England and the holiday celebration was nonexistent. (Although we did sing the Star Spangled Banner in our hotel room.) So, this year, we made up for it and celebrated all weekend long. We watched fireworks on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The most impressive were at CalExpo. Wow. We parked our car at the mall a few hours early and played cards at the food court until it got dark. When we finally walked back to our car, half the population of Sacramento was gathered at their tailgates to await the show. Many of them had brought personal fireworks, purchased at the stands. It was funny to watch certain people set off illegal fireworks (the kind that actually leave the ground) and then run away before the security guards could catch them. It was quite a wild group of people. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a raucous 4th in all my life! (Well, dancing in the rain with Rachelle and Dana in D.C. comes pretty close!) After the show began, it was mesmerizing. It was like one grand-finale after another. They had some fireworks I’d never seen before - fireworks shaped like smiley faces, hearts, Saturn, etc. Tons of different varieties. During the show I noticed several helicopters circling the sky watching the show from above. I think that, sometime in my life, I would like to do that. I have actually seen fireworks shot off beneath me - when I went to the Empire State building several years ago. It’s a totally different perspective. And I have been on a helicopter before - in Mt. Rushmore. But I think it would be cool to combine the two.

Yesterday we went to some friends’ house for a barbecue and swimming. They had some leftover fireworks from the day before that they hadn’t had a chance to shoot off yet. Someone had the bright idea of placing the fireworks on top of a ladder before shooting them off. It made the fireworks seem so much larger and frightening. Several times, those of us in the front row jumped back in terror. But it was a good kind of terror. If terror can be good.


On Friday night we stayed in the dinkiest run-down motel in Redding. It was very comical, now that I look back upon it. The paint was all worn off and the lobby smelled like Indian food. I wanted to go swimming but Kevin didn’t think the pool, situated smack-dab in the middle of the parking lot, was very sanitary. It had little pieces of unidentifiable objects floating in the water. All night long we could hear the people above us because the walls were so thin. And I won’t even begin to tell you about what we think was orange juice, served at continental breakfast. Kevin kept saying he was going to pretend we were camping "so it wouldn’t be so bad."

Lassen Volcanic National Park was very cool. Totally worth the trip. One surprising thing was all the SNOW up there!! It was incredible. One of the trails was closed because of the snow. I wondered when it was open (if not in JULY)! On one hike, we kept getting lost because there were huge mounds of snow covering the trail. Despite the snow, the weather was perfect - warm with cool breezes. We took two different hikes that ended up at different waterfalls. On the first hike, we followed a creek that wound through a meadow. It was very green an lush (with snow in the background!!). The second hike was more arduous. In fact, I told Kevin that I’d never been on a hike before where I walked uphill both there and back! (Obviously this couldn’t possibly be true - but that’s what it seemed!) On the second hike there were fields of yellow wildflowers all across the mountainside. It was quite beautiful. On our drive through the park, there were all sorts of interesting things off the side of the road. At one point we got out of the car to see some boiling mud ponds and sulfur pits spitting steam into the air. The stench was horrible but it was entertaining nonetheless.

On the way back home, I talked Kevin into eating at one of those greasy Chinese buffets. He hates buffets for two reasons, he says: 1) they encourage gluttony and 2) all the food sits out in the open for hours, where little children can come sneeze upon it. And that, he says, is very gross.

Friday, July 02, 2004


Several years ago I visited Ellis Island. While there, I was moved to think about my citizenship. It was easy for me because I became a U.S. citizen by virtue of being born. As I walked through the museum at Ellis Island, my thoughts centered on those who endured trials and hardships to become citizens. I thought of the multitudes in faraway lands who yearned for America, where they could "breathe free" and "pursue happiness." For the lucky few who were able to come to America, the struggle didn’t end upon arrival. The process of becoming a citizen was arduous and difficult. But they persevered. And because of their struggle, they and their posterity have tasted the sweetness of liberty and opportunity. Here is an excerpt of the U.S. Citizenship Test. Take it for the fun of it. I’m happy to report that I got 10 out of 11. (I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember which was the 49th state admitted to the union. Sheesh.) ;)

Happy 4th of July to all of you! Cherish your citizenship.

Thoughts of Tomorrow

All right, Kevin thinks I should remove the link to my sister Christy’s blog (below to the left) because she hasn’t posted anything since December of last year. I am appalled that he should think me so disloyal to my own flesh and blood! (Warning: if you are not related to me and fail to post anything for over six months, I will probably drop you like a hot cake.)

Tomorrow we are planning to go hiking up at Lassen Volcanic National Park. I think that this year will be the "Year of National Parks" for us. You see, when we went to Yosemite in March we bought an annual pass. And, by George, we WILL get our money’s worth. Even if we have to spend a million dollars in gas money in order to get free admission (and save ten bucks!) we darn will. We have plans to visit Sequoia National Park later this month with my parents. So that will be good. And we would have liked to have gone to the Redwoods National Park on the north coast this weekend but we couldn’t find a hotel under a hundred bucks. And spending that much on a hotel would definitely defeat the purpose of saving money with our annual park pass. Argh. Life is so complicated.