Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Visiting With Julie By Sue Kinsella

Julie Lochner Riber

Julie and Sue

I got a phone call from Julie Lochner Riber in early June a few days before my son, Alex, was to graduate from high school.

“How about if I hop on a plane and come join you for Alex’s graduation?” she asked me. “I could stay for the weekend.” Julie’s husband, Wes, is working a new job at Frontier Airlines, where they get travel benefits. Wes’s comment, as I hear it, is that he gets to keep working so that Julie can go play. Given how hard they both work together on their additional remodeling business, I’m not sure either of them gets to play a whole lot. So I was delighted to have Julie come visit us.

One of the particularly painful aspects of being a single Mom is that there is no one with whom to share all the day-to-day pride and joy and crazy stories about your kid. Not being able to share the good may be even more painful than having to slog through the bad alone. So to have Julie come share the excitement of Alex’s graduation with us was a wonderful gift.

She arrived on Thursday and looped into all my errands to get ready for the graduation next day and the celebration picnic I was planning. We got the car washed, bought groceries, and then Julie made coleslaw when we got home. Next morning we got up early, dressed up, then drove to a grand old theatre in downtown San Francisco for the graduation. Of course it was wonderful, and then we headed to a park on San Francisco Bay, near the Golden Gate Bridge, for a picnic with Alex’s dad’s family. The previously cold, rainy and overcast weather cleared to a beautiful sunny day just for us!

Over the weekend, we transported Alex to his graduation parties and I took advantage of Julie’s legendary cooking skills by requesting that we (mostly she) make a lemon meringue pie – one of my favorites – with the abundance of lemons I had from a friend’s tree. Mmm-mmm-MMM! Breakfast for the next couple of days!

On Sunday, Julie, Alex and I went to a state park near us (one California is threatening to shut because of budget woes) and spent a delightful couple of hours wandering the trails. This park happens to be where I took Alex for a picnic on Mother’s Day when he was just one year old and he spontaneously burst out with his first words – “Happy Baby! Happy Baby!” A wonderful Mother’s Day gift, indeed! We used to go there often and pretend it was “our” ranch, waving to the pilots of small planes flying over from a nearby local airport.

Alex and Sue

Julie and Alex

In ancient times, the park was the site of a Miwok Indian village. Then, when California was still part of Mexico, it became part of a Spanish land grant, then was given as a wedding gift to a landowner’s daughter in the mid-1800’s. She traveled the world and brought back all kinds of exotic plants to create wondrous gardens around her adobe home. The remnants of the gardens are still there, 150 years later.

In more recent times, the Grateful Dead moved into the adobe house for a few years. Once when I went there when Alex was much younger, I found records strewn throughout the house. But a fire tore through not long ago and now it’s ruins. We poked around the house, the gardens, the ranch with its dairy barn (Julie and I agreed it looked just like Wendell and Joyce’s) and the remains of buildings like the blacksmith’s and ranch hands’ salt box homes. Then we wandered up to a recreated Miwok village and sat on a welcoming tree branch that I’m sure I remember being much higher when Alex was much smaller.

There are rumors that Julie and I might be pushing 60 around now but, as you can see, we’ll still always be Crazy Cousins!


Pat said...


Thanks for sharing your visit with us!

And, yes, I think I hear strains of 'Still Crazy After All These Years'.


Julie said...

Yes, indeed, what a wonderful time we had together. Susan and I also visited Stanford where Alex will be attnding college in August. What a gorgeous campus, old and elegant with towering old trees and beaufiful old buildings full of artful architectural design. Alex has turned into quite an amazing, successful young man coming into his own. I was proud and honored to attend his graduation.

Mom/CB said...

I was so happy to hear that Julie was coming for Alex's graduation! It is a family time and we have not been able to fly these late years! The picnic sounded grand also!
We are very proud of that young man! Sue has done a good job!