saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (Default)
More for my own personal amusement than anything else, the following is a travelogue of a trip I took to Ocean City, NJ (near Atlantic City) to see family during the week of July 4th, 2010:

Read more... )
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (Default)
People in the Puget Sound area aren't accustomed to what others in the Northern U.S. would consider routine winter weather--i.e., temperatures that hover below freezing for weeks on end, snow that actually accumulates on the ground and stays there for more than a few hours, icy roadways. Longtime area residents tell me that they haven't seen this kind of weather since before their grown kids were born. And the city of Seattle in particular doesn't seem well-situated to cope with such conditions: much of Seattle proper is spread out over steep hills, and the city understandably lacks the snow- and ice-removal infrastructure of a predictably wintry Boston or Chicago.
Inside the Emerald City Snow Globe )
No Exit )
Breaking the Bad News )

Meanwhile, I'm stranded here in this snow-globe of a city with the week off and no firm plans. For those of you who may be similarly situated, do you think you'd be up for a little "Stranded in Seattle" holiday get-together? Possibly with my homemade coquito (basically, Puerto Rican eggnog) on the menu? My place is small, but I might be able to put together something. Alternatively, I could bring a very large thermos of coquito to your holiday event ...

Also: I'm always up for trips to the movie theater (assuming they're open ...), might be into some sort outdoor winter activity ...
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (Default)
Much like last year, I got invited to spend this Thanksgiving at P.J.'s place (P.J. is a friend-of-a-friend) over on the lake in Kirkland. We did the deep-fried turkey thing again, which was as gastronomically perfect as ever, even if the social setting was occasionally awkward.

At Someone Else's Home for the Holidays )
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (Default)
My brother-in-law Gil, a fiftysomething retired cop from the South Jersey suburbs, has never voted in a presidential election, before. Never. Not once.

He voted today. Not only that, but he's spending the day making get-out-the-vote calls for Obama.

I don't think that we're (metaphorically) in Thomas Frank's Kansas, anymore.
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (wirewear)
My cousin Jeff blew through Seattle, this past weekend--first time he'd been out here, and first time I'd seen the guy in years. Truth be told, we've talked maybe a dozen times since we were both teenagers. Now he's this tall, slick professional dude. Also, balding. (He didn't exactly draw the lucky genetic cards on that one--his hair started falling out in his twenties.)

Jeff and his partner (of fourteen years ...!) Dennis did the usual first-time Seattle weekend things: the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Post Alley, Underworld Tour, etc.

Saturday night, we all sat down to a four-hour dinner at Dragonfish--all on Dennis' dime (over my strenuous objections, I assure you! Please pass the sake ...). Jeff and I rewarded Dennis' generosity by raking over three of four generations of our family's* Deleware Valley Gothic, stories of truly tabloid white trash dysfunction going back to the Great Depression.

Why? Because you have to have lived through some of that crap to believe it, and after all these years it's kind of validating to talk to another survivor. Looked at from the right angle, aspects of the experience even manage to be funny, in retrospect.

When we realized what downers we were being, we changed the subject: How about that Underworld Tour? And all that craaaaazy architecture, downtown, huh? Philadelphia's not an armpit anymore? Really? Non-gothic stuff like that.

*Jeff's a cousin on my mother's side--relatives I've been estranged from for a long, long while. So they're not to be confused with the "family" I usually talk about--i.e., my five half-siblings and their kids, whom I'm related to through my dad. The latter group are a lot more ... functional.
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (glasses)
My brother-in-law emailed me these, today:

Cut so as not to consume your entire Friends page )
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (sorrow)
Leaving New Jersey on Saturday for some reason choked me up more than usual.

I don't know why: I had a great week with the family.

But the time went by so quickly. I didn't get to spend time with everyone I'd hoped to. April's kids (especially Alexis) are growing up. And I know that I won't be back there for a long while.

Anyway, leaving made me kind of maudlin, Saturday.

But my spirits picked up as the plane turned to descend into SeaTac. And as the airport shuttle rounded Beacon Hill and the city skyline hove into view I was reminded of why this is where my life is happening, now.

And made a mental note to make more of that, in 2008.
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (cop)
My niece April, my oldest brother Victor (see icon), the latter's girlfriend Ziggy, and I met up in Collingswood on Thursday to have dinner at Casona, a Cuban place which had come very highly recommended.

Dining Out, Entertaining Ourselves )
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (glasses)
I love my great-niece and great-nephew. They're great kids, each charming in her or his own way. Alexis is seventeen, bright, funny, confident, ambitious, wants to be a doctor. Jeremy is eleven, high-spirited, expressive, voluble, wants to be a rock star.

But between her occasional adolescent defiance, his hyperactivity, and their unending sibling rivalry, dealing with both of them at once can sometimes be a bit like living in The Village of the Damned.

I don't know how their mom manages to keep up with them, but I have to admire her for it. If they ever start handing out medals for single motherhood, she deserves one with oak clusters.
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (watermelon)
My niece April put me up during Christmas week at her townhouse in Mt. Laurel, which happens to be the town where I lived as a kid in the 'seventies.

Except that it's not.

Where'd You Go? )
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (existentialism)
On the night of Christmas day, April, her boyfriend Jim, and I went over to her mom's house again to more fully experience the custom theater that my brother-in-law Gil had built in their basement. The place actually bore a passing resemblance to Seattle's underground Big Picture--albeit much smaller and minus the bar, alas.

My brothers Victor and Abe showed up, as well, which was a pleasant surprise, as I hadn't seen them in a long while.

Victor in fact supplied the picture, a bootle--er, studio copy of No Country for Old Men. I'd seen the film at a Seattle premiere with [ profile] marginalia several weeks earlier, but was definitely up for seeing it once more (even if it made rather dubious holiday fare ...). My brothers and brother-in-law were really into it, too. But I was a little worried about how the ending would sit with everyone, and not surprisingly, they hated that part. Bleak and nihilistic isn't for everyone.

But I felt bad for Gil didn't get to show off his new theater with a film that everyone enjoyed more.
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (Love of Carmen)
On Christmas Eve, the family got together as we usually do at my sister Carmen's McMansion in Voorhees, where per our customary practice gifts were exchanged at midnight.

I'm indebted to Carmen's daughter April, "my favorite niece" (we're only a few years apart, so more like siblings), for supplying me with gift suggestions for all of my relatives back there, since I live so far away and I have trouble keeping track of what people are in to and have.

Potlatch )

I wish that I could include pictures of the event and the ensuing sea of torn paper, but my camera died on the eve of this trip. So I'll have to wait for my relatives to email them to me, then maybe I'll make a separate post.
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (glasses)
After a couple of weeks working overtime, several frantic days of Christmas shopping, and over fourteen hours in transcontinental transit, I finally arrived at my niece's house heavily laden with gifts and luggage in the nearly-freezing cold of 1:00 AM on December 24th ... to find no one home.

Bumpy Ride Home )

Anyway, long story short, I was drifting off in the guest bedroom an hour after that, and the subsequent couple of days have more than made up for my trouble. More on which later ...
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (jackponders)
Monday will mark the second year in a row I've had to forego a trip home to visit la familia during Christmas week.

I've been kind of bumming about not getting to see the relatives, but at least it's thrown me back on my own resources: I just don't feel like it's navidad unless there's coquito around, and being deprived of another source obliges me to whip up my own.

I actually just put this year's first batch in the fridge--it's pretty exciting, if I do say so myself: thick, with just a patina of cinnamon and nutmeg, faintly sweet, and enough rum to make you weave like Captain Jack Sparrow.

Once the elixir has cooled, I'll transfer it to a thermos to get it ready for the trip to [ profile] sleepwhenimdead and [ profile] sarrabellum's, tomorrow afternoon. At which point, I trust that much silliness will ensue ...
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (family)
My brother-in-law Gil just sent me a ton of recent (or, in one case, recently unearthed older) family pictures, some of which are so cute that I just had to share:

The Knot

Sep. 2nd, 2006 04:14 pm
saavedra77: Deadwood's Marshall, Seth Bullock, carries a wooden coffin in the rain. (loss)
After thirteen hours in transit, entailing the usual round of delays and security hassles, I arrived at Philadelphia International Airport just before midnight that Saturday, dog-tired, with another two hours to go before I would be able to put my head to a pillow. Heaving my one checked bag from the luggage carousel, I slogged out of the air conditioned terminal into the twenty-four-hour outdoor sauna of a Deleware Valley August. The temperature was eighty degrees in the middle of the night, without even a hint of a breeze, the air heavy, immersive. My body took awhile to adjust, but the feeling was distantly familiar, not altogether unwelcome.

Forty tedious minutes later, I was behind the wheel of a car for the first time in a year and a half, following unfamiliar MapQuest directions deep into the South Jersey suburbs, from interstate to state highway to a succession of half-remembered lesser roads. Equally depressing strip malls, dimly-lit subdivisions, opaque summer fields slid by. I pulled up outside my Carmen's place at about 2:00 A.M. There were no stars, no streetlights, just one bulb in the yard, casting its yellowy circle of light against my sister's white McMansion, making me think of the foreground of Magritte’s “Empire of Light.”

Anticipating my late arrival, Carmen had left a key under the doormat for me. I slipped off my shoes and crept inside as quietly as I could manage, depositing my luggage in the upstairs guest room. Before succumbing to unconsciousness, I left Carmen a note on the kitchen counter, warning that I might sleep in a little. At around 2:30, I fell gratefully into the guest bed, pulling the sheets over my head.

I woke at around 10:00 AM, not nearly late enough, and sank down the stairs to find Carmen and my brother-in-law Gil sitting in the kitchen, having coffee. Carmen and I exchanged groggy hugs, Gil and I shook hands. I responded to polite questions about how my trip went.

And then we got down to talking about what we would be doing for the next two days.

We were going to bury my mom. And we were going to navigate the awkward reunion two groups of people who had neither seen nor wanted to see one another in over thirty years.


Thread )


Rope )


Knot" )
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (sorrow)
My mother finally passed away, late last night--they say peacefully, in her sleep. The cause of death is presumed to have been complications from her recent stroke. She was three days shy of her 67th birthday.

I've been on the phone with family members and the funeral home, all morning, making arrangements. The funeral will be a graveside ceremony at the family cemetery in Medford, NJ, Monday morning.
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (holyshit!)
I just had the disconcerting experience of learning that a "state of emergency" had been declared in the county where I grew up in NJ: there'd been heavy rainfall overnight, dams had apparently "ruptured," there were neighborhoods under multiple feet of water, evacuations--pretty alarming stuff, in short.

Fortunately, a few quick phone calls seem to indicate that my family are all OK--everyone I know seems to live on relatively high ground, & no one has had to evacuate. Still, it was weird seeing the words "state of emergency" alongside "Burlington County" ... I mean, nothing ever happens there!


saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (Default)
Anthony Diaz

December 2014

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