Sunday April 13, 2003 11:55 PM
Bagpipes and Moonlight

We are in Arizona.

Yesterday's flight went as well as could be expected. Isaiah actually enjoyed the takeoff. It was the extended ascent that made him nervous, but getting out his favorite stuffed buddy, Louie, and reading Green Eggs and Ham got him back to a proper attitude. He said a few minutes later "This is fun- I'm glad we're flying!" Of course, about an hour and a half later he was wailing "I don't like this flying stuff! I just want to go home and sleep in my own bed!" Mommy traded seats with me so that she could sit by Isaiah and her more patient and mother-like comfortings got him straightened out. He also enjoyed the landing. The actually possibly scary parts were nothing to him. It was just when his mighty imagination had some time to run idle that he had second thoughts.

Now, however, he is very glad we came.

Our flight was about 35 minutes early so even after Grandpa Roger had picked us up from the airport and brought us to his home in Mesa, we still all had a couple of hours to sit outside and enjoy the evening. Grandpa Roger, Sherry, Ruth, and I sat around and talked while Isaiah explored what he could see in the dark of the yard and courtyard. My father's "estate" is extraordinary and amazing. He and Sherry own the rather old (in Arizona terms) building which was originally converted from a kind of sidewalk service restaurant with another couple who are snowbirds. There are basically two nice apartment size living spaces plus the restaurant part which used to be the office when my dad ran a home based business a few years ago and the "bar". The ex-office has been converted into an excellent guest mini-suite and that is where the wife and boy and I are set up. The bar is, well, a small bar. It's a room probably 8'x8' which Dad converted to much better use than the junk storage it had been. The best part, though, is that inside the square area enclosed by the L-shaped building is a courtyard and a covered patio which are the spaces occupied a good 80% of the time.

It was after dark when we got to the house and there is plenty of cactus of many different types all around, so that although the area is lit well enough on the patio, there are dim parts of the courtyard and the backyard, and we had to keep telling Isaiah to watch out for the cactus and suggesting that perhaps the next morning would be a better time to explore. These admonitions were not well heeded until Grandpa Roger turned on the waterfall/fountain he built against one of the exterior walls. When the water began to burble and the fountain lights were turned on, Isaiah was attracted like a bee to honey. He's been fooling around in the water ever since.

This morning he was the first of the three of us up. The weather here is so marvelous and the courtyard and patio are enclosed and protected by privacy fences, so he had no compunction about just opening the door to the guest suite and running right out there to resume fooling around in his pyjamas! Dad and Sherry were up by then, I think and Ruth got up soon after. Something about the stark, bright Arizona morning sunshine rushing into the dark room made it hard for her to malinger in bed. I wasn't affect by the sunlight in quite the same way. When she went out, I turned on TVLand and started off the first day of my Southwest vacation with an episode of The Bob Newhart Show. By the time it was over, Dad was back from a little trip to pick up a dozen doughnuts and I joined everybody else for breakfast.

After breakfast, Grandpa Roger dropped the three of us off at the Mesa Church of Christ. It's just a few miles from Dad's house and people from church back home had told us we might like it and we did. When the song leader announced that children could now go to Bible Hour, Isaiah asked if he could go. We were surprised that he felt that comfortable in a new place, but we let him go and he had a good time. When I went to pick him up after the service as over, he was sitting in the floor with a group of other kids watching the end of a video. I snuck up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around and grinned, "Hello, Daddo! I was playing knight." Then the kid sitting beside him turned around and side hello. I told him hello and Isaiah said "He played the dragon." It's amazing and inspiring how kids can make friends so easily and quickly. It's also amazing to me how quickly Isaiah takes the lead in such situations and not only decides that they'll be playing knights and dragons, but who will be which...

After Dad picked us up from church, we changed clothes while he started a fire in the courtyard hearth. When we came back out of our guest room, he was putting about 8 huge chicken chests on the grill. All my life he has despised chicken, but I guess he likes cooking it. I don't know how the Polish sausages he cooked for himself turned out, but I know he did a delightful job on the chicken. Sherry's daughter Dawn showed up while the meat was cooking and we all had a nice time visiting while Isaiah continued the hard work of running around crazy and fooling around with stuff.

After lunch, Dad dropped the three of us off at the Southwest Museum where I'd read on the web yesterday that a model train exhibit was ending today. This turned out to be not such a grand success. I think partly because he was so tired from running so strenuously amok for the two hours previous and since it was his naptime (he never did end up taking one), and despite the fact that he was really excited about seeing the dinosaurs at the museum, we walked in the front door to be faced with the reconstructed skeleton of a dinosaur (I don't remember which dinosaur, but a big-ish one) and Isaiah was terrified right off the bat

. While we were paying the admission, hoping that he would get over it, he was wailing "No don't bother to pay, let's just go. Stop talking to the lady- let's go!" We should have let him have his way, but I wanted to see those stupid trains. I did, too, but I didn't enjoy it much since by the time we'd passed by the animatronic, audio-enabled dinosuars to get upstairs to the trains all he was doing was crying to go home. After I'd made a half-hearted attempt to see the most interesting dioramas on display, we made the inevitable visit to the gift shop ("No, Son, I'm sorry. You are not spending $1.99 on that tiny rubber dinosaur since we're leaving early because you are scared of the dinosaurs.") where he didn't find anything he couldn't live without and we left. Once again, the weather was marvelous and it was only a few blocks, so we walked back to Grandpa Roger's house.

How did we spend the remaining hours of sunlight and the following hours of growing twilight and darkness? Well, pretty much the same way we'd spent the lion's share of the day. Relaxing and visiting in the open air of the courtyard and listening to good music on the outdoor speakers. When it was getting later, Isaiah was still running around crazy- fooling around in the water in the fountain and just, well, doing whatever it is a 4 year old can do to entertain himself for hours on end. I mentioned that I had with me the bagpipe music CD we used to put Isaiah to sleep when he was a baby. Yes, yes, I know- bagpipe music put him to sleep? What can I say? He is a remarkable kid. Dad likes bagpipe music and Ruth suggested we put it in and see if it would have any affect on the boy. As you can imagine, it did not, but it was quite delightful to sit in the moonlight, visiting and listening to bagpipe music while he played.

Now everybody else is asleep and I am documenting the good times we're having here from my new Arizona Outdoor Office. It is getting late, though, especially since we are two hours behind our home time zone so I will end this account of the first day of our 2003 Southwest Vacation with a greeting and goodnight from three blocks away from the heart of downtown Mesa, Az.