Kids and a Martini: A Day Filled With Wonders

An hour ago I was sound asleep, undone by a gin martini and a day spent with grandchildren. Reluctantly, I pulled myself out of a drifting sleep long enough to struggle out of my clothes and contemplate dashing off the following description of this quintessential day with family in Seattle. And all of this while fires burn all over Texas. Surreal.
I arrived at Caroline's house at 10:00 this morning with intent to take Lulu Bell for a walk to the Mexican taco truck on 45th St. where we were to pick up COKE bottle caps for a project of Caroline's. Collecting COKE caps would give Caroline time to collect her thoughts and complete a few straight forward tasks such as emptying and reloading the dishwasher without continuous interruptions.
Lulu and I headed up the street toward 45th and she remarked that this was the route her Dad took when they walked to Subway. Furthermore, she was hot and thought it a good idea to stop at Subway for a glass of lemonade before proceeding to the taco truck. Hot?  I wasn't even warm on this 70 degree morning. Seattle is not Houston. It did not matter.  Lemonade became an issue. Lulu was not interested in COKE bottle caps. At all.
"So," I said, "I guess we'll just turn around and go back home."
I drew a line in the sand. "We are not going to Subway."
I turned around and began to walk back toward home. Lulu followed immediately. Lulu was hot and she didn't like the walk part of this excursion.
Caroline said, " You should have walked to the taco truck another way and Subway would not have come up." Who knew that I needed a briefing before heading out with zip lock collection bags. Lulu and I made our way out to the back deck where we spoke about miniature tomatoes on her mom's vines. She picked a few and I ate them.  The morning was slow going.
Finally I said, "Caroline, just leave us here and go buy their school supplies. We are fine." Charlie was spending his morning immersed in games on his mom's iPad, nestled in the middle of his parent's king size bed.
It was Lulu who needed to be amused. And, at last and totally serendipitously, I hit upon something that got her complete and focused attention. I decided to demonstrate the use of my dousing pendulum. She was riveted as I showed her how to hold the small pendulum over a gherkin pickle. Was this pickle a good food for me to eat? We watched the pendulum begin to move and then gain clockwise speed. A positive sign.
Now, it was Lulu's turn. Would the pendulum inform her that the pickle was a good or a bad food choice?
Absolute concentration. Lulu held the pendulum over her pickle.  It was motionless.  And then, slowly, the pendulum began to move in a clock wise direction. Then faster and faster it swirled. Gherkins are very good for Lulu Bell. We then tested potato lentil chips, tiny cheese crackers and a bottle of detergent. The pendulum swung counter clockwise over the detergent. It doesn't lie. The bottle of detergent is not a good food for Lulu.
Well, that was our morning.
Caroline returned with tablets and glue sticks and I took off for Jeanne's abode to watch her kids while she ran errands. Kelan and Lauren and I bounced a ball off the front steps, watched heavy equipment excavate for a new house foundation next door and ate, you guessed it, more pickles. Kids really like pickles.
Then, I began to read to them from a very, very old book. "The Adventures of Reddy Fox" by Thorton Burgess was given to my Dad for Christmas 1926.  As a child, I read Dad's copy in the early 1950s and then reread it to Caroline and Jeanne and the Camfield kids in the early 1970s. Now this raggedy book  held together with a rubber band has entered my grand children's lives.
Burgess books are easy to read with great drama because they are simple tales of small animals given human traits. Their days are filled with trails and travails. I love reading these books aloud. Kelan and Lauren took the story of Reddy the Fox to heart this afternoon. I read a dozen chapters with their full attention.
The really wonderful part of reading aloud 'The Adventures of Reddy Fox" came when I took Kelan and Lauren to visit Dad and we plowed through three more chapters. There we sat, all four of us in a circle, reading a book passed down through four generations.  The stories remain real and memorable and we were all entertained.  Dad was all smiles and Kelan and Lauren were engrossed and ready with running commentary on the twists and turns of the tale.  I was thrilled to read Dad's Christmas gift book to him and two of his six great grandchildren. It doesn't get better than that.
But, it was indeed a very long day. After Jeanne came for the kids, I sat back in my chair and said, "Dad, I am worn out.  I think I'll go to Chinook's for supper and a martini."
"You should do that," Dad said. "You look tired."
We sat silently. And then Dad said, "I think you should have that martini."
Well, I did have a gin martini with two olives. I sat on a bar stool and looked out over the Ballard harbor as the sunlight became golden and the color of the water turned from blue to ink. I succumbed and ordered well. I ate a pot of steamed mussels and asked for a soup spoon so I could consume every last bit of broth in the pot. I ordered grilled wild salmon and then I ordered a peach cobbler with decaf. I ate everything. Left Chinook's feeling both the martini and a very full stomach.  Fell immediately into bed for an hour's slumber.  It's midnight now and it's taken me two hours to recount this day.
In retrospect, I wouldn't have changed a single thing about today, though it one of fits and starts and the intense energy of small children.  As this family is wont to say in retrospect, "We'll remember it fondly."