- thin blue lines -

It's always something.  Last week it was the rain and this week it's a virus.  The forces of nature conspire once again to anchor me aqui en el rancho.

Amy is sick.  She went down hard late Monday with a sore throat and coughing.  After complaining of ear pain, a visit to her doctor yesterday ruled out strep and an ear infection, so we're just going to ride this virus out bareback.

Since there was no school on MLK day, Amy went into work with Viv.  This left me with one of those sudden chunks of free play time.  I consulted my inner vagabond and he said to go to the beach.  

Living where I do, I attack Malibu from the north, either through the mountains or from across the coastal farms, and this makes the drive a leisurely rural cruise rather than the congested struggle most drivers have coming from L.A.'s westside.  The plain gives way to the cliffs pregnant with rocks and rubble to send down to the pavement after the rain.  Workers are shoring up the mountainsides with metal nets and barricades line the leeward side of the road to stop the earth from ruining a good drive.

The day was cool and clear and breezy.  Some of the road is low and flat along the beach, and the ocean is a thin blue line.  At other times it banks and rises to give a view of indigo or an impossible green.  With the heater on and the window down, I wound along Pacific Coast Highway, often with no one else in sight ahead or in the mirrors.  Just me and my new goatee flapping in the wind, and Brahms spilling in from a Santa Barbara station.

I stopped at a few of the local surfing spots to take some photographs and cool down my ears.  Viv and Amy were probably calling the house to see what I was up to.

I spent only a couple of hours out there then headed back to hit the darkroom.  The girls were home and setting up what appeared to be some sort of camp/resort/hospital for princesses.  Juice and videos and pillows and pills.  Just minutes before, I'd felt the chill of the wind and the surf, and now the thermometer was reading in the 100's.

It looks as if she'll be home from school all week.  She just woke up after a much needed 13 hours of sleep.  Her voice is gone, but not her sense of entitlement.  She wants juice.  She wants matzo ball soup.  


Last Saturday we attended young neighbor Matthew's graduation from cop school.  Despite my boilerplate cynicism toward paramilitary organizations, I can manage to get misty about the ritual.  Police work attracts various people for various reasons, and for some reason my brain is quick to generalize about the nature of any young man who yearns to carry a gun and a badge.  But that's just me.  On Saturday I saw gray-haired men with stars and bars and badges saluting their sons.  I saw the end of some boyhoods.  I must say I am grateful for the men and women who decide to be good peace officers, and I'm even more grateful to those who try to train them well, who can see the pitfalls that come with the perks.  There are some very dangerous people out there, and it behooves a community to make sure none of the dangerous ones wears a badge.

After the commencement ceremonies, we reconvened at Matt's grandmother's house to honor the graduate, give him stuff, be proud, and generally make good-natured fun of him.  He handled our tactical assaults well, assuring us that he was indeed not wearing a janitor's uniform and declining our offers of headlocks and arm twists.

We suspect he may do us proud.


I can't let this day pass without noting that seven years ago this morning, at around 4:30, we were huddled in the hallway, shivering in the dark.  There was no heat or electricity, but we were alive after the Northridge earthquake.  The memory is still quite vivid.  I can remember the sound and feel and look of these walls shaking, seeing everything move in every direction, flying into Amy's room to protect and be with her, and wondering how long it would last or how much harder it would shake.  Fifty-seven people didn't make it through.

One of them was a cop.  Going to work on his motorcycle, high on a freeway overpass, he just


  today's music:

"Bustin' Surfboards" -- The Tornadoes -- MUSIC FROM THE MOTION PICTURE: PULP FICTION


today's wisdom:

"If magistrates had true justice, and if physicians had the true art of healing, they would have no occasion for square caps."

- Blaise Pascal (1670)


"If there's anything mean in a feller, a little authority will bring it out."

- Kin Hubbard (1917)