The year in pictures - 2001 - part 3
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Labor Day at the beach:   Just after the trip to Austria and after school had started, we took a blissfully long weekend on the beaches of Lake Michigan.  I wrote about it in saying Good-bye to Summer.  This was the time of the gulls, and of sunsets, and sailing on a borrowed boat.  There was, of course, a deal involved, as rates were reduced to half for the last weekend of the summer.  Although the image is not shown below, one of my favorites of all times is here, taken with the camera in my left hand while throwing bread crumbs with my right.  I don't think I will ever be able to capture one like that  again. 

9-11: Life as we know it, changes.  The image, from a series in the Library of Congress, was made in remembrance of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  I modified it in memory of the attacks in September.  Now that several months have passed, I have been thinking about just what it all means.  As a pilot, I understand many of the issues dealing with aviation and safety.  As an American, I understand what it means to be attacked, and to stand up for what you believe.

As a parent however, I still feel that I have been more affected by the events of Columbine than those of September.  Somehow it is easier for me to understand a global radical politic than to understand teens who would kill other teens.  In some ways, I feel we are flailing about after a horse that has left the barn, and other days, I wait for the other shoe to drop.

I make sure, each and every day as I drop my son at school, to tell him I love him, and to have a good day.  It's not the terrorists I fear, but his own classmates.  It's a sad commentary on life, and I wish I did not think those thoughts as I watch all the kids swarming into school.  

Rafting the Gauley River:  When we rafted the New River in June, we were told that if we wished to have a rafting experience that was a "step up" from the New River, we should raft the Lower Gauley in the fall.  Our summer guide also challenged us with the thought that if we wished to have an experience that was an entire flight of stairs up, then we would raft the Upper Gauley as well.  

The weather was a bit chilly, and after our first day on the Lower, we were ready to take on the Upper, which is ranked among the top 10 rafted rivers in the world.  

It lived up to it's reputation.  

I remember thinking as we approached one of the major class 5+ rapids, "Lots of people do this every day, and they don't die.  We probably won't as well."

Our outfitter is Mountain River Tours and after 6 trips, I can say that they have always been professional, safe and fun.

The first picture in the series below was taken by a group of rafters from Indiana.  Having left their camera behind, I picked it up thinking that it was mine, and later tracked them down through the outfitters.  Having never paid for their pictures, I feel free to use the image.  From it you can get an idea why there are few pictures taken during the run through the big rapids, since you really should be paddling. 

Back to the Diary:  The story revolves around great fight for freedom between North and South, family against family, brother against brother.  In a way, the violence that was perpetrated against us in September paved the way for me to venture out again in November.  I needed to return to the south to research birth and death records, and I wanted to tour the battlefields where most of the diary story is centered.  Eldest and I met up in New Orleans before heading up and down the Mississippi.  It was a great experience, and sometimes I open Windows on a different time, just to listen to the music and see a wonderful smiling face.   

Somehow the music and memories just flow together.  It is one of the favorite pieces I have written.

Christmas 2001  I cringe when I see Christmas decorations in the stores in October, and each year we somehow have a "discussion" about how come we have to have such a big tree.  Don't ask me why, it just happened.  We have lived in this house for 21 years, and there have been 21 large trees.  This year when I said to Mrs that she could have a small tree after I died, son piped up and said:  "No way dad, she's going to have to wait till I'm dead and gone too."

We live in an rather ethnically diverse area, and several of my son's Jewish friends asked if they could sleep over and "do" Christmas with us.  In the end, 4 boys and one girl made our house home for the evening after a Christmas Eve candlelight service.   Since his sister couldn't be left out of the equation, a great time was had by the extra 4 boys and one girl in the house.    

I suppose if you are going to have guests, might as well have a bunch of em.  

The boys said that Christmas "owns" Chanuka.  

I guess that means they liked it all.

Round two of guests came in the the afternoon for dinner, and the picture of the boys and the tree kind of says it all.  

It can be magical.