a physical as well as a moral idiot

Jonathan threw another excellent party, this one for the kids. The drive up was hellish, as we caught the Friday afternoon traffic for each of Palo Alto, Oakland, Berkeley, Davis and Sacramento on the way; but the place was completely worth it, one of three former summer camps in the pinewoods around a tiny Sierra Nevada lake. Lilypads, frogs, fish, rabbits, reeds. A lovely group of people, essentially the Berkeley Montessori School mafia, and so delicious food – Korean barbeque, cold soba, portobello mushrooms, salad with feta, pecans and cranberries, that kinda thing.

(Jeremy and Claire just came out of the bathroom saying: “Look!” Claire was on Jeremy’s shoulders and both were brushing their teeth. Matching grins of triumph.)

Yesterday afternoon both girls were simultaneously asleep, a world-historical moment, so I got in one of the canoes and paddled out on the lake. I only did it because Recheng looked happy and tranquil out there on a kayak. I remember canoeing from Camp David – not the one of the Peace Accords, but the dodgy Anglican summer camp we used to attend down on Port Hacking. The Georges River is brackish and tidal and canoeing was extremely difficult, another of the cold and painful and frightening and ultimately unrewarding experiences that summed up that part of my life.

Of course I am twice the size now and far stronger, and what amazed me yesterday was the simple pleasure of being out on the lake, dipping the wooden paddle into the golden water, propelling the aluminium canoe exactly where and how fast I wanted it to go. It occurred to me that my species of Christianity had made me a physical as well as a moral idiot. My oar strokes created long-lasting vortices so that there were ironic air-quotes of whirlpools around my wake. Huge blue dragonflies monitored my passage.

This morning I had to take Jeremy and Claire out as well, and as soon as Jeremy sat down in the front I realized I had never been allowed to sit in the back and steer before. I offered to swap but Jeremy said he liked being in front, and that is all the metaphor anyone will ever need for my relationships with my husband and the church. Jeremy noticed that the temperature of the water changed as we went over the weeds, and that you could feel the warmth in the soles of your feet through the aluminium shell of the canoe. Claire said that the weeds were like space.

“You mean like stars? Like daddy’s movie?”


The drive home was far more straightforward. We missed the Ikeda’s in Auburn but stopped at the smaller one in Davis for excellent tamales. Between Davis and San Francisco there is not very much of interest.

“Vacaville Commons. I guess that’s the tragedy you hear so much about.”

“Vacaville is literally cowtown.”

We found a parking spot right in front of the house, and Gilbert and Shannon Lee and Ada hanging out around the new garden, having just hung the drapes. Ada had an EFF party she needed to go to, but Gilbert and Shannon Lee came up for guacamole and rack of lamb and rhubarb pie and caramel corn and coffee. We talked about systems administration and death. Shannon Lee has an excellent story about pecan pie and death. You should ask him about it.

All in all I am feeling much feistier and more sardonic, by which I mean that the meds have kicked in. All you have to do is stare Death in the eye, and eventually he has to look away. Besides, I was kidding: I look awesome in black.

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