The last week was a good week--the kind of time that makes us remember just how important family is and why, no matter what, this bond is special and rises above other concerns.
Casey, Ken and I drove 700 miles, give or take a few, to spend time with my brother and his family. They live in one of the special places in this great state of California--well, really, it is all great, isn't it? But their little niche, Grass Valley, really is quite lovely and beautiful and God blessed.
Casey loves going there as it is country--like his beloved Tuscany. My brother, Casey's Great Uncle, takes him exploring in the woods and trees. He comes home with buckeye pods, acorns and other treasures which in true entrepreneur spirit (a vocabulary word he lately learned in school), he offers to sell to me. I bit and bid $2.50 which ultimately became $2.00 as he lost one treasure while using his cousin's slingshot.
Casey blossoms in this environment--glows--and is happy and content. I wish we could give this to him but circumstances prevent it. Life does not always work perfectly. His great wish is to return to Italy and live among the vineyards, visiting the piazza and feeling free--a child's life. But, that's not going to happen.
My brother and I are on opposite ends of the political scale so the best way of being together is to avoid such discussions. There is no way, ever, that either of us is going to change or see the other's viewpoint. And, that is OK as some things trump politics--not much, but some! We do share spiritual beliefs and values--just see the means of achieving some of them in different ways. There is a book titled Is Jesus a Republican or a Democrat?. Clearly, we have different answers where really, the answer is "neither."
But, when I see Casey laughing with glittering eyes as he lines up a paint gun to shoot paper targets hanging on trees and shouting when he hits them, I love my brother for what he shares and gives my boy and all else fades away. Family is good.
Now we are home and tomorrow is a new school day. Casey has his Leonardo da Vinci report typed and almost ready--just the bibliography remaining to be done. Other than at first placing The Last Supper in the Duke of Milan's kitchen, he did a pretty good job. Since he actually saw this master piece last summer and it was on the wall of the refectory in the Santa Maria della Grazie convent, this was a strange point of confusion but one easily corrected. Importantly, through perseverance and 16 point font he has managed to get his 3 page, comprehensive report on the great man of the renaissance, completed. Now, if he and Ken can figure out how to make a model from the paddle boat drawings, Casey will be set. And we can all breath until the next Above and Beyond project is due in a few months.
So now we will get the Christmas decorations from the rafters, survey the wrappings left from last year (and the year before) and figure out what new things are needed--not much, I am sure. The next four weeks will be busy ones and then they will be gone and the new year will begin. I think it will be a good one.
Now..for some good reading: Check out Garrison Keillor's reflections on our new president--it's well said. Wow, America is Cool.
God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.