Monday, April 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Brian.

You were the tallest one in the family,
and proud of it!
Every birthday was a challenge 
to see where you landed 
on the foot scale.
You topped me at age twelve,
your sister at fourteen, I think.
When you topped your father and brother 
you celebrated in grand style.
But this tree looked down on you
and it too stopped having birthdays.
Another event in a tragic season.

Changes, everywhere, all the time
among stars
and grains of sand,
forever imbedding
in our loved ones' hearts.

Happy Birthday, Son.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Loved Challenges.

Christmas, 2003, Port Orford.  Brian and Jasmine, his niece, on the dock, at Garrison Lake.

The entire family  was together that Christmas, some in sleeping bags, some on couches. The small cottage of three bedrooms was bursting at the seams.  The weather was cool and wet, typical December,  and these two pictures were taken on an occasional break from the rain.

What I remember most about that Christmas was how Brian and Jasmine spent hours trying to fish in the lake, cold and wet and focused.I have a whole roll of film showing the two of them on that dock. Jasmine and Brian casting and casting and hoping.
They didn't catch any fish on that occasion.

We did, however, have fish for dinner: Cioppino with crab and rockfish and shrimp we purchased from Tony's Crab Shack in Bandon.

During the same week, we experienced our first Port Orford storm, hurricane winds that knocked the power out for a few hours and rattled our nerves. Brian kept the fire going in the fireplace, hauling wood from a dark garage, helping with a make-shift breakfast that included coffee in an old-fashioned metal ware pot.

He loved these challenges!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Always ready for outdoor fun.

We went camping a few times as a family. Brian took to it like a fish to water. As a youngster he went to a camp in Catalina and fell in love with it. He returned to it as an adult, with different friends.

Here, I believe, there were three of more people hiking up to the campsite in Catalina.
Lots of hiking.
He was not averse to roughing it all the way to the opposite side of the island.

Some of you who camped with him can add details to this post.
I'm just proud of how resourceful and self sufficient he was. This last Easter holiday, he would have camped here, his dog with him, and as many friends as could make it.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Playful by nature.

Here he is playing the famous Roof Ball he co-invented. I recognize Sean Miller in this photo.

Since he was the baby in the family, seven years younger than his sister Pia, and thirteen years younger than his brother J. Scott, he was babysat by his two siblings, and when either one  babysat someone else, Brian would tag along.

He was born when I was 38, a miracle baby for sure. From day one, his sister saw him as her doll, read to him, trained him to wait for Santa and the Easter Bunny until the house/experience was ready for his discovery.

His brother babysat two neighbor boys bigger than Brian. They were all fearless, jumping into the pool in a trashcan to see how long they could last; sliding down the steep hill behind the house on make-shift sliders, tearing up the ivy, tearing up their clothes, but always having a grand old time.  The four of them spent time building machines and contraptions like water rockets and other forms of propelled instruments, and shot them in the hills of Shoup Park across the street from us in Woodland Hills.

We could trace Brian's adventure mishaps on his body: a big gash on his leg from dropping on the glass window on the day the house in Covina caught fire and the three of them, Scott, Pia and Brian had to find refuge at the neighbors, and then watch firefighters put out a fire that started up as a dry palm bursting into flames.

A nick on the side of his temple was from jumping and landing too close to the coffee table; another wound  from coming too close to a golf club when he was taking golf lessons one summer. At a baseball game, a ball hit his front teeth,  and he bit hard and continued the game and told nobody how hard he was hit until the game was over.  He had his fair share of emergency runs to the hospital.

The most terrifying stint for the rest of the family was the time, when he was still in diapers, when he began to have convulsions. I put a wooden spoon across his mouth and gathered him on my lap until the convulsions stopped.  Then, with everyone in the car, I drove all the way from Covina to Hollywood Kaiser Hospital, to get him checked up. The tests were awful, and we were most fearful for him.  The doctors didn't find any problems, but told us to watch him; and to hope he'd outgrow the convulsions. He did and grew strong and wiry and fully of energy.

He was the baby; but he had to learn and do more things than other children his age. He inherited many things from his big brother, including a sense of adventure and a love for making games out of things, using whatever computer hardware and software they could scrounge, take apart and re-purpose.

Brian started a computer set-up and repair business when he was in junior high, He printed business cards and flyers and distributed them at local malls. At that time, computers were not so user-friendly, and one had to get help after purchasing a computer, just getting it home and booted and ready to start. From his brother, he learned a whole lot about programming and gaming and repairing. Brian's business did very well; he was proud of the money he was making; and proud of the respect he was getting from everyone.

(On another note: whenever he used my computer, he would improve it, add stuff, clean stuff, reconfigure it to be friendlier....)

His curiosity was boundless.

I remember a day I didn't have to work. He was in kindergarten, and I surprised him when I picked him up at noon and walked home with him.

The walk was just over a mile. We found all kinds of fascinating things, walnuts and mushrooms and lichen. We talked about co-dependence; how nuts feed squirrels; how hawks feed on mice; how fallen birds get buried and disposed of so fast by some other animal.  By the time we got home we had a handful of stuff we collected and talked about.  Over the weekend,  we had expended our conversation, and went shopping to make a universe in a bottle, a self-sufficient aquarium with snails, fish and kelp.

He kept that universe thriving for ages, while he messed with the ratio -snail-fish-kelp- in different bottles, hoping he'd find a better formula.