Friday, November 26, 2010

James V. Brown

Why is it, that it seems that our most creative ideas seem to spring forth, Athenian fashion, moments before sitting down to something "productive"? I  think today the tonic of inspiration was contrived from equal parts of household freedom, a solid exercise session, and cold air hitting me in the face while drinking a warm cup of coffee.

I knew I would be visited by the spirit of creativity when I pulled up in front of the James V. Brown library still sipping my coffee. I began to notice the details of the former 'Millionaire's City'. A city that around the turn of last century had more coal Barron's than you could make a Los Angeles subdivision out of. Each one besting the other with beautiful ornate houses. These were monstrous, stain glass, three-story, main street houses with natural rock foundations, round rooms, gold trim, turret windows, spires, domes, trellis work, wrought iron, stain glass and on and on. Houses with large front decks meant for drinking summertime mint juleps in picket fence white adirondack chairs, and laughing through green teeth at the smell of sausage sized cigars.

The engine off, looking again, tendrils of steam massaging my face inside a 21st century Honda steel and glass bubble, I'm looking at the still-life show of civil architecture. They aren't grand homesteads anymore, they are a patchwork of houses that have became parcelled up into the fractions of themselves. The main streets of Williamsport Pennsylvania use the residence of the long deceased Lords of Suet to host colonies of shops, bars, apartments, coffee houses, thrift stores, barbers shops, and all merchants of goods and services for the warm-hearted cold people of the modern city. Each tenant in the house trying so hard to set itself aside from all the other partitions of the house that the house itself falls into schizophrenia. Porches laugh now only to dispel their mania.


I'm headed into the library of my wife's home town, initially inspired by some code I wanted to write for work. No hurry really, it's not a work day, and we'll be heading South to Maryland soon enough. I suppose I'll get around to it after I purge these prose from my hands.

It's the day after Thanksgiving. For me,  there is a lot to think about. It's quite a different thing to have Thanksgiving in a place where you wouldn't expect you'd want to be, versus one, say, like a tropical island.

In the tropics, the heat hitting your face, sand on the floor boards of your car, shuffling your family to the neighborhood Turkey dinner, it requires almost no deep introspection to be thankful. Anyone living in Hawaii, even those that are broke beyond health-care will tell you they are "living the dream". This year, at Thanksgiving, I'm not living it. I'm feeling it.

Mom and dad hosted a feast yesterday. My young in-laws, and an aunt and uncle were there as well. There was turkey, ham, oysters cooked two different ways, creamed corn, stuffing, lima beans, enough mashed potatoes to sculpt. Pies, cakes, rolls, bars and coffee. Was I grateful for the food? Maybe, though it certainly was delicious. I was grateful for the smile Sue had, home again for Thanksgiving for the first time in 5 years. I was grateful for the way the other cousins played with my kids. I was grateful for the love, support and forgiveness of the family I married into, especially because of the way I play cards!

This year, Thanksgiving was more than beer, sun on my face, and a full belly. This year Thanksgiving was about people and laughing, and caring enough about the people talking to me that I didn't really care what we were talking about.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Immediately after the five of us re-entered the atmosphere on the East coast, the twenty-second of October, we hajjed the kids up to Williamsport Pennsylvania to stay with Sue's generous parents until we could establish some order at our new Maryland outpost. Until now, the kids have been there while I've worked, and Sue has researched schools and living arrangements. We missed Halloween as a family, but I'm sure that the kids enjoyed a long stay at Grammy and Grandpas.

After two weeks on our own Sue and I drove up to collect our three treasures. Nearly five hours North, Williamsport, is in an area famous mostly for the hillside stadium hosting the end of the little league baseball season. It's a fascinating coincidence that Hawaii tykes have been to the championship twice since we lived on Oahu, in fact winning in 2008. Six time zones away from paradise, it's hard to imagine that such a distant microcosm could be a happenstance Hawaiian hub.

With us all together, this weekend, it was great to be a family again. After all the driving to pick the kids up, we had a lazy Sunday morning. We spent it mostly in pajamas working on a jigsaw puzzle. At lunch time we went for a picnic walk in the woods by the bay. Sue made us roast duck for dinner.