Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Zoo trip

These are only a few of the funny animals you can see at the zoo. We buy annual membership in the L A Zoo Association, and usually go twice or more every year.

My personal favorite is the giraffe. They are so gracefully lanky, and they stride with majestic symphony of sinews and frame. They remind me of a slender model, walking the runway with beautifully patterned clothing.

Lilly, my almost 5 year old great granddaughter, remembers the last time we visited the zoo that her "papa" didn't get to visit his favorite exhibit: the giraffes. So this time we planned to see them first.
Of course I lingered there as long as was seemly under the circumstances with several other people in our party and several other animals to observe.

And what zoo trip is complete without seeing the monkeys? Of course this monster is not a monkey, but close enough. This giant orangutan spent most of his time in the little shade he would find. Sometimes he looked out at the people to see these silly creatures who kept gathering outside his home. No, this variety does not throw excrement at the public. We have visited primates that do this in our past zoo experiences.

One of his shady spots is found next to the glass in one of the observation pavilions. When he is resting there he is about 4 inches from my hand as it is held against my side of the glass. Lilly took very cautious steps toward this heap of fur that was so close. Just then he rolled over and lifted his Kong-like hand up to the glass. Wow! Lilly instantly jumped backward about two feet. It was a creepy, overwhelming sight for anyone, but especially for a human small enough to fit in that hand.

Lilly's brother, David, is our wind-up toy. He goes like crazy, bouncing as he runs. He hasn't yet learned how to walk, just run. But when he winds down he really crashes. Water vapor was pumped into the air around the umbrellas that overshadow the picnic tables where we ate. Some of that water damped the pavement near us, and little David kept trying to make it splash by stomping his adorable little feet on the wet spots. But eventually he succumbed, and there was no reviving him once he hit the wall.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Two year olds

Aren't they fun! Now that I am a great grandfather, I can enjoy these raw mannered, miniature human beings without bearing responsibility for their embarrassing behavior. Last night I was reminded of this by my own great granddaughter in Souplantation. She was running wild, and as a two year old she is very good at it. There are only two time references in the mind of a two: now and never. When you don't give them what they want right now, their understanding is that they will NEVER get it. At this age a child is incapable of registering a quiet complaint, of course. Instead the body gyrates as we hear high frequency vocalizations worth many decibels. At Souplantation everyone has an interesting tray in front of himself/herself. Cassie made the rounds, pointing to this drink and to that interesting entree, even sticking her cute little finger into messy things without licking off the residue.

We see ourselves in the bald-faced bid for attention, and the unabashed demand that it's all about me! We do it with such practised disguise. It will take them several years to learn to pull this off with deceptive and convoluted reasoning. That is what we learn as adults, but the basic concern about self is just as ugly as it is raw in a two year old.

It is somewhat amusing to see the way adults behave when a two year old is in the crowd. All these mature conversationalists suddenly become blithering idiots. In any group there is one or two personalities whose natural tendency is to dominate the direction of conversation. Not when there is a two in the group. Adult conversation never gets very far before it is interrupted by the needs (demands?) of a toddler. And nobody seems to mind. I know when it is my great granddaughter, my mind (if not my mouth) says, "She can do no wrong." I'm such a terrible theologian when I am around her!

When we are in a restaurant without family, I know I search the other booths for the eyes of a little one. I love to flirt with babies and toddlers. I've found an interesting thing: there is a wide variety of responses I get from kids. Some eyes are full of mischief, and they are so happy to respond to the faces I make with grins or grimaces to entertain me.

Then there are some kids who studiously refuse to make eye contact with me.  I surmise by the family behavior (especially a humorless authority figure in the family who is making unreasonable demands) that life for a kid in this family is a drudgery. Surely they will run away or get married (do they still do that?) at a very early age.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Paper Route

It's a rite of passage for a boy to have a paper route.  He learns to have a little responsibility, and gets a Jr. grade lesson on running his own business.  When I was just a lad I had a paper route near my neighborhood in the Crenshaw district in south Los Angeles.  It was not very scary territory way back then, and I was never in danger, except the danger of going into debt.  Normally the boy must buy his papers from the company, and he sells them for a profit.  But if he gets lazy and doesn't finish collecting from all his customers, he is in danger of coming up short of his bill.  Now there was one small  complication to my route, and that was the fact that this neighborhood newspaper was thrown on everyone's porch whether they ordered it or not.  I was told to ask for a quarter a month for this service.  I was begging--soliciting a handout.  Even then 25 cents was not really that much, consequently many people payed me cheerfully.  Others were belligerent and cursed me for cluttering their porch.  So another benefit of this paper route was to learn human nature at ground zero.

Much later in life my boys had a paper route.  One boy prepared with his clothes neatly laid aside the night before, in order to get a good start out the door.  When the other boy did this route he was often heard banging around, looking for socks, shoes or some other necessity at 5 in the morning.  We were living east then, and I had mercy on my boys when it was snowing.  We packed the papers in our VW and I drove the route while they would direct me.  There was an infamous dog at one of the homes, who leaped against the door, barking loudly.  I think he even broke glass in that door on one occasion.  It so happened one snowy day that my third--and smaller--son begged to go with us.  As we came to the home with the ferocious dog, my smallest son wanted to deliver the paper.  There was no denying him.  So he carefully tiptoed up to the door, delivered the paper, and turned to come back to the car, when suddenly this barking, growling beast came racing out from behind a bush in the yard.  Our little guy ran with a panic for the safety of the car, but the dog actually bit him on the derriere before he made it.  He was not really hurt, but he was thoroughly terrorized.  However, he provided a howl of a story that we have never tired of telling.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy birthday, America

The Moore home in Jamestown

It had to be the hand of God else we would have never made it. When I read McCullough's "1776" I was on the edge of my chair (figuratively at least). There was a time when I was certain the Patriots had no way they could win. British troops were more experienced and outnumbered us. We lost ground again and battle after battle until Washington crossed the Delaware and surprised the celebrating Hessians at Trenton.

When Patrick Henry et al. signed the Declaration of Independence, they were sticking their heads in a noose. That was an act of treason! The Brits had barricaded New York harbor, and there was a time the Continental Congress had to move from Philadelphia for fear of capture.

I'm afraid I would have been a loyalist instead of a Patriot. I would have felt constrained by Romans 13 to submit to the powers that be (Britain) and take my lumps (taxes).

Washington must have been quite a man. Where ever he rode through his troops he stirred up courage and loyalty among them. When it came time to elect a president of this upstart nation, he was the unanimous choice of every party. Northerners and Virginians (southerners) didn't understand or trust one another, even then. But everyone seemed to agree on Washington (even though he was a Virginian). He also had a way of charming the ladies at a banquet or a ball. Men, women, northerners and southerners all considered him a man of integrity in leadership.

Then there was the special appeal of old Ben Franklin. I understand he had quite a way with the ladies as well. But it was the unusual esteem of the French for Franklin the inventor that helped encourage the French to help us fend off the British and win our independence. They thought Franklin to be a genius because of his experiments with electricity. Franklin and John Adams were very different in character. Adams was a no-nonsense negotiator with strictly business on his mind, when they were an emissary to court the French. He was a prig. Franklin was more amiable, liked to party and knew when to drop a word appropriately.

On our trip east we saw the Moore home, the place where Cornwallis surrendered to Washington. We were told that Cornwallis refused to deal with these rebel British subjects, and sent a representative while he stayed in his quarters, ostensibly feeling ill.

Such little pieces of providence fit into the time line along the way. Coincidences and finesse along with courage and determination not to let this nation across the Atlantic to "tread on me". There are men to thank for our freedom to be sure, but those who are alert to the details of history must ultimately thank God. I'm proud to be an American. Happy birthday, America!