Sunrise At Spyglass

We’re moved up and into the mountains due east of Los Angeles, near Lake Arrowhead, where my California Sister-In-Law has a beautiful vacation home called Spyglass. The surroundings are about as different from San Diego as you could imagine. We’ve gone from palmy to piney, and from the commanding heights of the CSIL’s deck you can look east, through a gap in the tree cover, and let your gaze wander over miles of forested expanse to part of the high desert and other mountain ranges at the far horizon.

I got up early, fixed myself a good cup of coffee, and enjoyed the sunrise this morning. It was so still that you wanted to hold your breath, with the absolute quiet breached only by an occasional cry of a native bird. I wasn’t sure you could find any location in Southern California where you could totally get away from highway noise, but here it is.

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Vermilion’s Moment In The Sun

Kish hails from Vermilion, Ohio.  It’s a town located right on Lake Erie, about halfway between Cleveland and Toledo.  By virtue of its location, it’s got strong ties to water and boating — there’s a yacht club, the local water tower has an anchor painted on it, and the high school team name is the Sailors, for example — but I’ve always thought of it just as Kish’s home town, and not as a coastal tourist destination.

vermilion35Recently, Vermilion got some nice national recognition.  It’s been named one of the 10 best coastal small towns in America by the USA Today Reader’s Choice Awards.

Vermilion placed fourth after evaluation by experts — which makes me wonder how you become an “expert” on cool coastal towns, and how I can sign up for that gig — and readers.  The text on Vermilion says: “Vermilion, located on the south shore of Lake Erie, feels more like a New England seaport, complete with a historic lighthouse and rich nautical heritage. Popular in the warm summer months, Vermilion’s walkable streets feature small boutique shops, art galleries, ice cream parlors and local restaurants, and summer evenings often involve concerts on the green.”

I’ve been visiting Vermilion since the ’70s, and I’ve always thought it was a nice place.  But, like most of the laid-back, reserved Midwest, Vermilion doesn’t really blow its own horn.  It’s got that nice “boats on the waterfront” feel, but without the alcohol-fueled craziness that you find in Put-in-Bay and other waterfront locations.  The downtown area. which is a short walk from the Lake Erie shoreline, has a vintage Americana vibe, and there are good places to eat, too.

Kish still has family in Vermilion, and I know from our recent visits that the people up there are working hard to make their nice little town even better.  I’m glad to see that their efforts have been rewarded.  If you’re in the Midwest and want to check out a cool coastal town, Vermilion is worth a visit.

Another Angry Obit

It must be a kind of trend, but today I saw another news article about an angry obituary.  I wrote several years ago about an amazingly blunt, soul-venting obituary that one of her eight children wrote about their mother, and I never thought I’d see another one like it.  But I was wrong.

kathleen20dehmlowThis latest unforgiving obituary is also written about a mother, from the perspective of her children.  The obit notes that the woman got married in 1957, had two children named Gina and Jay, and then in 1962 “became pregnant by her husband’s brother,” moved to California, and “abandoned her children.”  The obit says that, after her death, the woman “will now face judgement” and concludes:  “She will not be missed by Gina and Jay, and they understand that this world is a better place without her.”

That’s a pretty harsh thing to say about even a cruel stranger, much less your own mother.  Who knows, perhaps she deserved it — but it would be nice to think that the children could rise above their anger and bitterness, after 55 years, and show some of the grace and decency that they obviously think their mother lacked.

The Birdhouse Solution

Our tiny backyard features a flowering vine that has been growing like crazy. It completely covered the wooden trellis that is its intended home, then started to grow over the top of the small tree our landscaper had positioned next door — which obviously wasn’t good for the tree. To deal with the problem, we had to redirect the vine away from the tree. But how?

Our solution was to move our birdhouse stand to the other side of the vine, gently extricate the vine from the top of the tree, and loop the vine around the birdhouse and its stand. It worked like a charm. Now the vine has plenty of room to grow, the little tree is flourishing again, and the birdhouse and its bright colors look beautiful against the vine’s green leaves and deep purple flowers.

Now, if we could just get a family of birds to move into the birdhouse . . . .

Home Ec Check

Earlier this week I popped a button on a ratty pair of shorts I wear during my summertime morning walks. It was another example of a troubling but well-known phenomenon–pants manufacturers intentionally using flimsy, defective thread to secure waistline buttons on male trousers. It’s nefarious!

Fortunately, Kish rode to the rescue. Drawing upon her high school home economics class training, she took out needle and more durable thread to firmly anchor the waistline button and (hopefully) prevent a recurrence of the embarrassing pop off scenario.

Home economics was a pretty useful, practical class when you think about it. Do schools still offer home ec courses?

The Kid Who Wouldn’t Leave

A family drama is playing out in Camillus, New York.  That’s where two parents have had to institute legal action to get their 30-year-old son, who has lived with them for eight years, to finally move out of the house.  This week, a judge formally evicted the son and ordered him to leave the premises.

mr-1038x576According to the son, whose name is Michael Rotondo, in the eight years he’s lived with his folks he’s never been expected to contribute to household expenses or assist with chores or the maintenance of the property.  He doesn’t have a job and is a self-described “liberal millennial.”  His parents have encouraged him to get a job and buy health insurance, but instead he’s focusing on a custody battle about his own son — and continuing to live under their roof.  He says he is “an excellent father” who “would forgo buying clothes for myself so that I could take [my child] skiing.”

In fact, Rotondo believes his parents’ action was retaliation for his loss of visitation rights with his son.  Their first letter to him, in February, apparently came a few days after he lost visitation rights, and said “we have decided that you must leave this house immediately. You have 14 days to vacate.”  His parents then stopped feeding him, and later letters reminded him of the deadline, and offered him $1,100 and advice on how to move out.  But Rotondo resisted, saying he needed six months to leave.  Ultimately the eviction lawsuit was filed, and the judge decided Rotondo had to go.

A lot of people have been laughing about this story as the ultimate “failure to launch” tale about the unappreciative slacker kid who made no contribution to the household and just wouldn’t leave.  I don’t see much that is humorous in this sad case, however.  I’m sure the parents aren’t celebrating their victory over their own child; they’re likely heartbroken about it.  They provided their son with shelter, support, and a safe place to land, and eight years later, with no end in sight, they reached the end of their rope and saw no alternative to turning their personal family story into a very public drama.

And now the son they supported for eight long years is being quoted in the press as saying, “I wouldn’t characterize them as being very good parents.”  That’s the kind of remark that would cut any parent to the quick — not because they agree with his assessment, but because they probably feel they’ve failed in rearing a child who could be such a colossal, oblivious ingrate.