My little sister Laurel lives in Santa Cruz in a big old house with lots of character and four great roommates. Since Laurel had a significant birthday last week (4th decade of life) they threw her a fantastic, memorable party in the woods surrounding Santa Cruz. It was at "Johnson's Farm" where many bay area people pick up their Christmas trees each year. Laurel's roommates had a traditional, rustic theme to the party and we had serious fun doing pretty juvenile things: sack races, bobbing for apples, do-nut eating contest, 3-legged race (which Ivy and won and were presented with a "First Place" Pumpkin) We also all contributed to one of "The 30 Things We Like Most About Laurel" on a piece of paper that was later presented and read to her publicly. (By the way, you have to agree that public affirmations are one of the most rewarding and meaningful ways to celebrate someone and make them feel good.)
That evening Laurel's roommates took us all over to hear a band perform some Irish-themed music at the "Poet and Patriot" pub in downtown Santa Cruz. As is my practice, I always surreptitiously stick some tissue in each of my ears when live music is blaring right in front of me. Ivy doesn't go for this, but I think this will help me hear for decades to come.
My family all chipped in to get Laurel a new ipod nano (8 gigs AND a video screen in that little package--amazing). A funny story I want to remember about Laurel--who definitely is more of an "outdoorsy" girl than a "techie" one-- is that 3 years ago Ivy and I had just bought a new Mac mini computer (small and white, but not that small) and it was sitting on our desk at our apartment. Laurel came over and saw it and said, "Hey cool! Is that one of those ipod things?"
Santa Cruz has its fair share of weird dudes walking around but they also have a bunch of great bookstores that we checked out after church on Sunday. Also--at Laurel's church, the pastor interviewed a 90 year member of the congregation. It was absolutely great hearing what she had to say and impart what was important in life. She should know. She didn't have enough to eat during the Great Depression and made ends meet by working hard. She worked as a nurse for SIXTY years. Incredible. She's a very vivacious woman who was still in great shape. She was a dancer and she also learned how to fly cessna jets!...
It was great to see Laurel and a good weekend.