Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sometimes, Everything is Relative

SAN DIEGO – After sending in my column last week, I vowed to write more about Lebanon, memories and thoughts of folks back there.

It seemed to me I had been writing too much about me and the Southwest corner, and last Monday’s column read like a giant whine to me upon re-reading (except I do like the story of my wife’s black and white rainbow.

The rain, wind and cold of Vanderbilt baseball games in San Diego are now a memory to brag about, and once I thought about it, watching my team win four opening games in February made the weather a whole lot better.

Then my brother arrived with his family last weekend. I quickly learned I should not apologize for highs in the low 60s to visitors from Vermont and Massachusetts in February. My brother’s wife, mother-in-law and sister-in-law have now labeled me as certifiable crazy. My brother has had this tag on me for a long time.

The most gratifying time of the past two weeks occurred Thursday. I asked Pacific Tug Service if I could bring Joe down for a tour. My friend and business colleague, Steve Frailey, one of the owners, not only told me to bring him down to the pier, but that he had would take us for ride on a tug.

Steve is one of the tug masters for the company and called in to action when there quite few jobs the tugs are working.

For almost a month, San Diego exhibited winter weather I brag about. While the rest of the country, including Lebanon, was being buffeted by snow, ice, and cringing cold, the Southwest corner was perking along in the mid-70’s with clear skies.

Beachgoers were out (but not to swim: the Japanese current would turn a swimmer into, as Bill Cosby once said, “a giant goose pimple”). Even better, the mild Santa Ana pushed the evening thermometer down, allowing me flames in the fireplace.

After last summer’s unusual cold and damp and this autumn’s drizzle, weather prognosticators have heralded a woefully dry 2011. La Niña, the weather guessers declared, would bring arid back to the high desert coastland. And after all, when have those grand interpreters of meteorological phenomena ever missed a guess?

So early last week, I was pumped for visitors.

First, the Hicks brothers, Alan and Jim, would roll in for Vanderbilt’s season opening baseball games with two San Diego teams over the weekend. Alan transited from San Francisco via Long Beach, and Jim wandered from New York City and Connecticut.
Quickly on their heels, my brother, his wife, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law are slated to arrive Wednesday for a short week, stopping in Phoenix on their way from Vermont and Massachusetts.

We woke up Thursday morning – the day before Vanderbilt baseball and the Hicks arrivals – to rain: steady, cold, unpleasant rain, which continued until Friday morning provided a sunshine break. But by rendezvous and game time, gloom reclaimed the landscape. For two days, Al, Jim, and I proved to be stalwart fans, braving driving rain and piercing winds. Vandy beat the Toreros of the University of San Diego, 4-3 in a rain-shortened game and topped the San Diego State Aztecs, 7-3 with four runs in the ninth and two rain delays.

As I write this column, we mull attending today’s doubleheader (Sunday). Forecasters say the rain will abate while it is pummeling my courtyard outside. This story will be continued.

The prognosticators are predicting no rain but highs in the 50s while Joe’s family is visiting. San Diego is not behaving like San Diego. I often forget the Southwest corner is next to the sea, and she is a temperamental force. She has chosen my showoff time to rebel, raining on my parade, literally and figuratively.

Either the weathermen have been yanking my chain about La Niña; Murphy and the Southwest Corner are in cahoots; or I just have, as Kevin Kline so aptly put it in the western, “Silverado,” “Bad luck.”

Saturday, when one of the few sunshine breaks occurred during the baseball game, we spied a rainbow forming on the western horizon. I hoped it was a good omen, which it wasn’t weather wise, but it did lead to one of my favorite stories.

In the summer of 1984, my bride joined me in Mayport, Fl, our first home. The nine-month delay after our wedding was precipitated by my deployment to the Indian Ocean aboard U.S.S. Yosemite.

In the late summer, a fiercely tremolo storm rolled through the Jacksonville area. When the storm broke, an incredible double rainbow formed across the entire sky.
Maureen was enthralled. Rainbows are not uncommon in the Southwest corner where she lived most her life, but this double arch was impressive.

“Let’s get a picture,” she asked.

I dutifully grabbed the camera and headed outside. She stopped me before I reached the door.

“When I was traveling through Europe during college summers, a French friend gave me some high quality film. I have been saving it for a glorious photo opportunity. Let’s use it for the rainbow.”

She ran to a drawer and pulled out this treasured film.

“Certainly,” I replied in my best good husband tone, installing this high grade film in the camera.

Since she was so excited, I let her take the photos. We waited anxiously for three days for the photos to be developed. When returned, we opened the box in great anticipation.

The film was high quality. But it was black and white. I like black and white photography, but it doesn’t work well with rainbows.

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