For the next three weeks I'll be galavanting all over the continent, with my time neatly partitioned into three segments:
a) For the next six days I'll be visiting Ceilee and family in southern California. While I'll still keep up with email and handle the odd phone call, this is mostly vacation.
b) In the middle stretch I'll take my time rumbling from Los Angeles to Ham-Nord, Quebec, the main highlights of which will be enjoying Amtrak's Coast Starlight end for end (LAX to SEA) and Via's premiere choo choo, the Canadian, from Vancouver to Toronto. This sojourn will take six nights and seven days. On the theory that getting there is half the fun, I intend to enjoy my scenic adventure in full.
c) The final portion will be five days of meetings at La Cité, a 32-year-old ecovillage in Quebec that I'll be visiting for the first time. The first two days will be a meeting of the newly constituted Global Ecovillage Network of North America, followed by the three-day fall organizational meeting of the Fellowship for Intentional Community. For the first time, I will be attending as an observer, without portfolio since having stepped down as Executive Secretary last December.
I'm looking forward to all of it.
In Los Angeles I'll be seeing my son, his partner (Sarah), my grandchildren (Taivyn & Connor), and my granddog (Zeus). Yippee! In addition to simply enjoying the contact high of family, I will be rehabilitating a painful memory. The last time I visited LA was mid-December last year. It was there that my lower back pain reached a crescendo that continued for six excruciating bed-ridden weeks, eventually culminating in the discovery of three collapsed vertebrae and multiple myeloma. These were not my happiest days.
That prior visit was scheduled for six days, but was extended when I was in such pain that I could barely get out of bed, much less manage a bus ride to Las Vegas (where Jo and Peter awaited). No fun. In Los Angeles I had taken over Taivyn's lower bunk, which meant that she had to negotiate nighttime acrobatics sharing a narrow berth with her younger brother. (Much as she loves her grandfather, she was happy to see me depart the premises.)
In any event, my visit last December was not the enjoyable family time we all had envisioned. In the coming week I get a redo, overwriting my visit of 10 months ago with fresher memories, featuring a recovering, more flexible Papa Ward (my nom de familia). While it's dubious how much I'll be available for bouncing on couches, and there may be questions about whether I'll be able to hold my own when Zeus (a boisterous 60-lb bulldog) wants to circumnavigate the block, I'm confident I'll be able to read to my grandkids in full theatrical voice, and be a demonstrable help in the kitchen, especially as dishwasher and sous chef.
How did I get to be "Papa Ward"? Glad you asked. Throughout my life I've never been that comfortable with honorifics and discourage their use whenever I can. (To this day, anyone trying to get my attention with "Mr Schaub" is immediately revealing that they don't know me well or my sensibilities on this topic.) To the extent possible I eschew honorifics and ask people to simply call me "Laird. When I became a parent it was easy to extend that preference to my kids. (I hadn't the least concern that they'd be confused about their paternal origin without its being steadily reinforced by calling me "Dad.")
As it turned out, when my daughter (Josefa) was a mere pup she had trouble pronouncing "Laird." It came out more like "Lerd" (which, incidentally, is what I often get when native Spanish speakers take a pass at my name). Her mother (Elke) found this amusing and enjoyed reinterpreting Jo's attempts as "Ward," as in "Ward, I'm worried about the Beav" (a semi-obscure reference to a line frequently trotted out by June Cleaver when talking parent-to-parent with husband Ward on the iconic '50s sitcom, Leave It to Beaver. This successful six-year sitcom lampooned the peccadilloes and misadventures of two boys navigating life in the suburbs—remember, this was back in the age of innocence, way before the bathroom humor of Animal House (1978), the raciness of American Pie (1999), or the vapidity of Clueless (1995).
One of the challenges I faced in prepping for this multi-stop three-week odyssey was puzzling out my travel wardrobe. While Ward does not intend to wear a robe, he does expect to be robed. According to Weather Underground temperatures are expected to threaten triple digits in southern CA this coming week; yet trekking across Canada the following week I expect to wake up to frost most mornings. Needing both shorts and a fleece-lined vest (in order to straddle an anticipated 75 degrees of ∆t) put considerable pressure on the modest capacity of my roll-aboard suitcase. Sigh.
Fortunately, I enjoy challenges. La La here I come!