We’ve had quite an interesting time lately. The Wife had another kidney stone, requiring a trip to urgent care, then the emergency room, and finally short-stay surgery. That made for a long day. She ended up spending the night in the hospital for observation, leaving yours truly to be single parent for a day or two. I’m really not cut out for it.
Then, as my partner’s health improved, our cat Shadow started collapsing in mid-stride. He’s had hip problems for years, which the vet blamed on hip dysplasia, but it had gotten progressively worse. He was having more and more trouble getting up onto furniture, and often didn’t climb into a cat box before peeing. But, he was enjoying the new kittens. They would pile on top of him and engage in a three-way groomfest with purring so loud you could hear it in the next room.
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The Girl went to band camp at the coast yesterday. Since The Wife had already gone to the coast and back last week, and was still recovering from it, it fell on me to provide transport. In other words, my responsibility as a father required me to drive out to the coast. Bitchin’.
My daughter packed enough gear for an entire week away from home, we loaded her battered tuba into the back seat of the Corolla, and then away we went.
It was a beautiful, beautiful day. The sun was blazing down, but the temperatures were still mild, and there was a lovely breeze. It was a perfect day for rolling the windows down, putting on sunglasses, and heading to the ocean.
As is usually the case when we are alone, my obnoxious thirteen-year-old girl turned into a delightful travelling companion. She has discovered Monty Python, and so some time in the car was spent reciting favorite quotes. We talked about band, and music, and being away from home. It was a great drive. Right now these moments only happen rarely, when we can be alone together, and away from home, but they give me hope for the future. I feel like I can almost see the kind of relationship we might have once she is an adult, and it fills me with joy and anticipation. Just as long as I can keep from killing her before she gets there.
I wanted her to have some lunch before we got to the camp itself, so we stopped in Rockaway Beach and looked for a bite to eat. As we walked up the sidewalk on Highway 101, she suddenly she pointed at a ramshackle little building set back from the street, with a sign indicating that it was the “Old Oregon Smokehouse”.
“This place is great! I went there with Uncle Bear! And they have lots of cats!” I was somewhat dubious, but we were running out of time, so we ordered some clam chowder for her, and halibut fish and chips for me.
I’d like to apologize to the Old Oregon Smokehouse for any reservations I might have had about eating there. The food was exquisite. The very lightly battered halibut was firm, flavorful, and moist. It really had an excellent flavor, the kind you can only achieve with fish that’s painfully fresh. The french fries were crispy nuggets of awesome as well, and served with dipping sauce. The chowder had a strong and distinctive flavor, different from the majority of chowders you find at every cafe on the coast. I’m thinking there was a lot of thyme in there. But most of all it was thick and creamy without being the slightest bit glutinous, which I hate in chowders.
There is a much better picture of the Old Oregon Smokehouse by Justin Hawthorne here on Flickr. If you’re passing through Rockaway Beach, you owe it to yourself to stop in.
Checking into camp went smoothly, and included an audition. The Girl was looking at her music, warming up on her tuba, and generally being very nervous. She was concerned about the audition, but surprisingly also concerned that she wouldn’t know anyone at camp. Fortunately before I left she had already connected with someone from her school band, and I don’t doubt that there were more there.
It’s a side I rarely see from her. She’s got so much self-confidence (perhaps a touch too much?) that I never picture her faltering or hesitating. Maybe this is another aspect of her increasing maturity shining through.
After her audition, we put her stuff on her bunk, and I said goodbye. I know she’s going to have a good time this week. The camp looked like a hotel, with well-tended grounds, a lake to swim in, volleyball courts, and multiple outbuildings. As long as she finds one or two friends to connect with, she should be fine. And I know she will try to get the most out of the music instruction there.
Now that I was without child, I pondered what to do before heading back. Unfortunately, I really didn’t have all that much time, and my knees in particular were bothering me. Nevertheless I went to a nearby state park and hiked over the dunes to the beach.
The wind, which had been a well-mannered breeze inland, was howling across the sand. Aside from the wind-driven sand particles exfoliating my face, the resulting windchill made it a less than delightful oceanside experience. I didn’t spend too much time there before hiking slowly back over the hill and heading home. That was when I realized that the cooling effect of the wind also kept me from noticing how sunburned my forearms were getting. They are glowing a nice cheery red today, thank you very much.
We pick The Girl up next weekend, and I’m honestly looking forward to the concert they will provide. The bickering and fighting after we get home? Not so much.