Picnics by Lakes

29 July 2001

Whew. Well. People brought two babies and a dog to Mary Anne's, Susan's, and my birthday party. I could scarcely have asked for more. (I could have asked, I suppose, for the sunblock to hold up on my previously sun-poisoned area of skin on my right leg. Instead, I have quite the odd sunburn there. But it's small, so.) The weather was as cooperative as it could be considering what clothes I had along. I wore each of the garments (jeans, shorts, sweatshirt, T-shirt, bikini top) for a comfortable amount of time. So maybe next time I should pick a theme and go with it, if the Bay Area microclimates are going to accommodate my wardrobe.

There was also a heron, but he went away before most of the guests came.

And Pär promised to translate a Swedish book for me. He was a few feet away and heard me say, "And I don't read Swedish or Finnish" and interrupted after "Swedish" to say, "I do!" I said, "Yes, but are you going to translate a book for me?" And he said, "Sure." (I so wish that I could render the actual vowel used in "sure," because I've heard it so many times at home and at college, and it's not the same one as the rest of us use. Swedes make the rest of us sound like Ed Sullivan with our narrow little "shewer"s.) So all right then! Sami problem partially solved!

It reminded me of another picnic by a lake, though. When I was in grade school, my family had packed up more picnic than we possibly could need, and we were on our way down to the Lakes. (In case you're unfamiliar with Midwestern geography, that means we were in the Twin Cities. Omaha has no lakes worthy of the name.) We were driving through Nordeast and decided that as long as we were there, we might as well stop in and see my great-grandma Lingen. Great-grandma Lingen, mind you, was not The Cool Great-Grandma. She's been a little ill and a little difficult for as long as I can remember. But we stopped by, and she was home, and she was more than thrilled to come picnic with us.

We drove to Lake Harriet. It was near the Fourth of July, so when we saw people gathering near the bandshell at Lake Harriet, we thought, "Oh, wonderful! John Philip Sousa music for Great-Grandma, how nice. She'll think she's had the best day." Well. We got out of the car between sets. And then the band started playing. Death metal. We were in the middle of settling our picnic blanket with the pickle yummies, the deviled eggs, the fresh raspberries, and we looked at Great-Grandma and said, "Do you want to go somewhere else?" She said no, she was fine. So we sat through some death metal with my great grandmother.

She was the envy of her building for years after that. Any time one of her friends tried to tell about how his grandkids had taken him to the new Disney movie or how her grandkids had taken her out to Perkins, Great-Grandma would put her nose in the air and talk about how her grandkids took her to a rock concert, because they thought she was so cool.

There was no death metal at the birthday party yesterday. But for the second time in my life, I met someone who would break into a spontaneous schottische. I thought only Martin did such things. But I was wrong.

I will show you the pictures soon. Patience, I hear tell, is a virtue. I figured I'd take along the digital camera and use the picnic to practice figuring it out, and then I'd have it all figured out by the time we get to Lars' wedding next weekend. Well. What I neglected to take into account is that that would have involved taking time away from people to sit down with the camera manual and step through what needed to be done when. So I am lacking some of the pictures I wanted. Some of the pictures turned out quite well -- mostly the ones of Heather, actually -- and some didn't turn out at all. Like Mary Anne wrapping my new sari for me. Those pictures managed to show neither Mary Anne nor me. And some are in the middle, and all need significant trimming/compressing. So. Pictures soon. I'll also take some of a few of the gifts I got, in part to practice with the camera.

One of the advantages of a digital camera is that you can keep taking and deleting pictures until you get one you want. However. That assumes that you have time to review them, and that your subject will sit still or keep doing whatever you want a picture of until you and they are satisfied with the picture. This is fine when you're taking a picture of something really posed, but when you're catching someone in the act of something, it's no more helpful than a regular camera.

So other than camera stuff, well. I'm trying to get my week planned out, reading Issola, reading the paper. It's going to be that kind of evening, I think, the sit-around-reading-and-working kind. Which is a pretty good kind. But Mark just said he'd like to go to the Berkeley Kite Festival, so the afternoon will be a little more eventful. Or at least more brightly colored.

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