The Right Coast

November 24, 2004
Family life update
By Tom Smith

I think everybody is suffering from a post-election let down. Enough politics for a while. So let's talk about my one-year old, Mark.

He has graduated from rug rat to explorer dude, unsteadily walking everywhere. I captured some of his first steps on the video camera, but it all happens very fast. He has discovered the out of doors, and loves to locomote under the pine trees. He has not quite figured out leaning back into a slope, and just keeps himself perpendicular to the ground until he slowly topples forward. My theory is to go ahead and let him tumble, as long as the ground is soft, and maybe he'll learn faster that way the way to walk on uneven ground. It's more like life that way. Of course, walking off a cliff and dying is like life too; you don't want to overdo that sort of thing. He found a patch of flowers gone wild, combined with miscellaneous weeds and went to work patting them all down, putting his face into them, putting little bits into his mouth. At a moment like this, I couldn't help but think of all the potentially vicious little creatures that might be infesting that patch of ground. Fire ants. Scorpions. Black widows. Velvet ants. Brown recluse spiders. Rattlesnakes. No. Wrong season for snakes. If was the sort of person who thought, a little boy, exploring flowers for the first time, life is so wonderful, maybe I would have voted for Kerry. Our poor neglected labradors were thrilled to be out on the property as well. Denali, who looks like a minaturized brown steer with floppy ears, ran back and forth, chasing a well chewed plastic Halloween pumpkin. As the poster boy for the tragedy of cannine obesity, he could drop dead at any moment, but in the meantime, let him run. Biscuit is getting a few gray hairs around her muzzle, but still catches balls like a fielder, proof that it's all in the genes. It was one of those gorgeous, perfect San Diego days in November, that almost make you feel guilty for living here. But, given the season, I suppose gratitude would be the more appropriate emotion. There weren't any stinging or biting insects in the batch of flowers, or at least they were beaten down by the preemptive war we have waged against them. Thanks to the Marines and the Navy and the Army and the rest, I get to sit here and look at the twinkly lights of Chula Vista on the horizon, and wonder whether I should have a scotch before I open the merlot. I think we have decided to forgo creationism and knife fighting at the Christian martial arts academcy tonight, and pop a movie in the VCR instead. It's vacation, there's a Republican in the White House, and all boys have made it through the day with no major injuries or other catastrophe. Of course I'm grateful.