Archive for the ‘family’ Category

I Love My Shadow

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010


Shadow and I found each other at Lake Balboa in the Sepulveda Basin on Labor Day of 1994. I was biking around the lake a couple dark months into my recovery from my near-fatal motorcycle accident, which wasn’t going all that well. She was a couple months old and abandoned.

I was helpless not to tuck her into my jacket and bike/walk carefully home to Van Nuys with her, but my first words to the little blob of black fur and big eyes sitting there staring back at where I placed her on the bed were “I’m in no position to care for anything at this point in my life.”

I sat there next to her arguing outloud why that was true and why the first thing I need to do the next morning was take her to the pound (after getting my vicodin prescription refilled) — and I was winning that debate. Then she wobbled over, crawled up into my lap and fell asleep instantaneously like dogs can.

And here she is 16 years later — The Best Possible Thing That Could Have Happened To Me At That Exact Moment In My Life.

I was abandoned by all sorts of people throughout that decade — and I did my share of abandoning. But Shadow and I, nothing was going to break us up.

Given her age, I don’t know how many more moments we’ll have together, but I’m happy for all of them, especially this one of her wandering around the backyard this morning.

I love you, Shadow.

Happy Birthday, Katie

Monday, September 13th, 2010

With the arrival this week of the duplicate pink slip for Susan’s Honda, I was excited to finally deliver it and give it to my daughter Katie yesterday. And we celebrated by taking it first to a carwash and then to get the tank filled up, and then as a bonus she drove us to the Chili’s in Northridge (site of our the reunion back in 2005 that got us to this happy day), and I bought her her first legal drink (at least with her dad) — a strawberry margarita — since turning 21 September 7.

Afterward back at her house we took the obligatory commemorative photo (click for the bigger picture). I even got a high-five from my grandson Aiden.

Then I got on my bike and pedaled the 27.5 miles home from Granada Hills to my beloved wife who I so appreciate for her genorosity in making this gift available to my beloved Katie.

Proud Papa

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Over several get-togethers, beginning a week or two before Susan and I bought the Ford Escape on July 31, I’ve been able to be a dad to my daughter Katie more than anytime in the past five years since we started seeing each other again, and maybe in her entire life — not for lack of trying, mind you.

It was awhile ago, when Susan and I were just barely thinking about getting a new car that I suggested and Susan agreed that rather than trade her 1994 Honda hatchback in for the $500 a dealership would give us or sell it privately for perhaps $1000, we give it to Katie.

And when we saw Katie over the July 4 weekend, we told her our plans, in part because she mentioned that she was considering saddling herself with the costly burden of a new car. She seemed excited and appreciative, but she was also a bit apprehensive in that she had minimal experience with a manual transmission.

So about a couple weeks afterward Susan drove my truck to work one day and Katie and I took the hatchback out for the two of them to get acquainted in the parking lot across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, which was an entirely intentional choice because that was the same exact place 36 years earlier at 10 years of age where I first drove a car… if you can call cruising around the parking spaces in low gear at less than five miles an hour with my mom nervous in the passenger seat and me barely able to see over the wheel of her 1965 mustang, driving.

Everything was going great with Katie until an over-zealous groundskeeper told us we couldn’t practice driving there and grumblingly I obliged and we left, making our way over to a parking lot at another somewhat-less-positive personal point of interest: the Los Angeles Zoo.

Fortunately we were left alone and Katie went through the basics of first and second and reverse gears. Some aspects went smoother than others, but overall she rocked it and  I was as proud of her as I was thrilled at the opportunity to be of service and of benefit to her.

The next week I brought the car in to my awesome mechanic (Long Automotive on Rowena in Silver Lake whose motto should be “You Can’t Go Wrong With Long”) with instructions that he tune it up, smog it and look it over veeeeeery carefully because if anything needed fixing I didn’t want it becoming Katie’s problem. Turns out he recommended some relatively big ticket items: the water pump, timing chain and right front axle. But despite a repair pricetag that was more than the car was worth, I trust Long implicitly: he wouldn’t say those things needed fixing if they didn’t. So I didn’t hesitate.

The following weekend I drove the Honda out to Granada Hills and picked Katie up for some more practice. By that time the new Ford was in our garage and if things had gone according to plan Katie would be the new owner of the Honda, but the car’s pink slip had pulled a disappearing act and Susan had to order up a replacement from the DMV. And wait.

So instead we did some more first/second/reverse practicing in a nearby parking lot and then some residential street driving before ably tackling busy Reseda Boulevard north into the hills and back.

And yesterday, with the pink slip still nowhere in sight, I drove out there again and in addition to some parking lot and residential street/major thoroughfare driving, we graduated onto the 118 Freeway out to Rocky Peak and back to Balboa Boulevard, which is when I snapped this picture of her.

So proud I am. Of her. Of me. Of us.

Four Generations

Monday, July 5th, 2010

The afternoon gathering came together rather quickly. My daughter Katie and I had plans for her to bring my grandson Aiden over and visit today. On a spur of the moment, I invited my mom to join us. She accepted. Not only was this the first time in 10 years that Katie and my mom have seen each other, but for the first time in my life four generations of my family were together: my grandson, his mother, his grandfather and her great grandmother.

It was a monumental occasion, this reunion. One that I’d long figured I might never witness, and one of which I’m tremendously proud.

Happy Birthday Master Aiden

Monday, March 15th, 2010

I biked a relatively epic amount Saturday to get to and from the heights of Chatsworth where a celebration was taking place in honor of my grandson Aiden’s first birthday.

Happy birthday, little cheese puff-faced dude!

Ol’ Grandad

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

It was back in April of last year that I got the surprise of a lifetime via email from my daughter who shared that I had been a grandfather for several weeks. “Aiden Kristopher Coy Campbell,” she wrote, “was born March 20, 2009 at 7:25 a.m.”

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hurt at being entirely left out of what was not only such a momentous and miraculous period in Katie’s life, but also must’ve been a frightening one, too.

Shocked as I was at the news I was not at all surprised at being left so completely unaware. Katie and I are still slow and tentative in rebuilding our fractured relationship, and the process has certainly not been helped by people in her life who’d rather not see us succeed.

But out of my love and respect for Katie I won’t rehash the past. All I’ll say is had I been included, Katie would have had my support and love at a time when she could have most certainly used it.

In the months that followed I was hesitant to meet the baby. I chalk it up to lingering disappointment, coupled to a basic inability to wrap my head around the reality that at such a tender stage of middle age I was now a grandfather.

Well, both that denial and dejection were officially retired yesterday afternoon. Katie had texted me on Valentine’s Day weekend that she hoped we could get together soon and I texted her back asking about coming over this weekend.  One thing led to another and she was able to drive her and Aiden over and Susan and I spent the next several hours falling in love with my grandson, who’ll turn 1 next month.

Here he is with Jiggy, the first cat he’s ever seen, according to his momma. Aiden’s pretty much the first baby Jiggy’s ever seen so there was mutual curiosity and appreciation:


(click for the bigger pictures)

What a remarkable mom my Katie is, and what a wonderful little soldier he is. Aiden’s not just the Second Cutest Tyke Ever (behind Katie, of course), but he’s super energetic, curious with a ready smile or a stern look of reproach and a tremendous level of tolerance and poise in the midst of Ranger’s inevitable rowdy/barky wariness to new peeps. Plus he’s absolutely adorable. Or did I say that already?

Well if those pictures above aren’t proof enough, I’ll leave you with this quick vid of Aiden with Ranger discovering that the taste of dog nose is definitely an aquired one:

It’s Time To Get Busy Getting Ready

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Haiti’s got me dwelling and waking up. The quake, it’s terrifying devastation and its chaotic aftermath have all served  to show me how ill-equipped our household is and will be when an epic disaster strikes Los Angeles.

When. Not if.

Sure, we’ve got emergency food/supply backpacks in each of our cars. Plus there’s an emergency container in the backyard. We’ve got sturdy shoes and flashlights and a transistor radio and spare batteries and about five gallons of drinking water. But we are so seriously lacking in other essential aspects and a comprehensive emergency plan that for the first time in my life as an L.A. native who’s been through every temblor since the 1971 Sylmar quake, I am just now finally recognizing how such an abject lack of planning and preparation can make a bad situation worse and a catastrophic situation potentially devastating.

So now it’s time to go full-stop and reverse that trend. It’s time to quit allowing all that negative potential the opportunity to be realized, and instead go about covering all the bases as best I can. Not so much for any peace of mind beforehand, but for the chance at a better ability to cope and survive in the inevitable nightmarish aftermath.

UPDATED (01.17): On this the 16th anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake, I secured our first bookcase — the one that stands inside the front entrance. My original intent was simply to dust it and its contents for the first time in waaaaay too long, but in the course of doing that I realized attaching it to the wall to be a simple matter of driving three long screws through a crosspiece supporting one of its shelves into the plaster behind it. Voila! One down, maaaaany more to go.