Sunday, July 22, 2007

Innocents abroad

Hattie joined us for the longest road trip of her life when we drove to Santa Barbara to attend the wedding of our friends Peter Michealsen and Xanthy Chu. Unsure as to how our five-week-old would handle the drive, we steeled ourselves for as many pit stops as necessary and began our journey a couple of hours earlier than necessary.

Much to our surprise (and delight), Hattie took the whole trip in stride. In fact, she seems to enjoy outings. She stays calm (usually) when buckled into her car seat, stares with wide-eyed wonder at new places, and curls comfortably into strangers' arms. Strangers to her, that is. They're our friends.

To be honest, Sarah and I were a tad apprehensive about the event. I knew Peter and Xanthy through Intervarsity at Cal Poly, and alumni weddings tend to double as reunions that stretch far into the night. While I reconnected with plenty of friends I hadn't seen in a while at the Michealsen-Chu affair, the ceremony and reception together clocked in at a neat five-and-a-half hours. It was the perfect length for a baby-toting couple.

We had tentatively planned to stay the night with some friends of Peter's family, but the success of the trip down inspired us to brave a drive back. Despite one minor crying episode, the return was as uneventful as the departure.

The wedding itself was a mix of East and West. While the ceremony stuck to fairly standard U.S fare (white dress, men in suits, etc.), the reception reflected Xanthy's Hong Kong roots, with the new bride in red and the groom in a custom-made black outfit to match. He's a Swede and fairly tall, so I think the style was adapted a bit for his frame. Still, the effect was impressive, especially when they danced to Paul Simon's "Something So Right."

The visitor

On Wednesday night, as I was wrapping up hanging out with my friend Bret, we found a large, striped beetle crawling in the driveway in front of his house. It slugglishly trundled along, then split its back open to reveal wings and rise dramatically into the air ... and then straight into a wall. It repeated this several times. Not wanting to see it bash itself senseless, we corraled it into a Ziploc container and I drove it home to photodocument it and release it into the wilds of my backyard.

Upon closer examination, I discovered that it had given itself a sort of insect equivalent of a bloody nose. I also found that it had swiveling horns and a fuzzy underside. My wife decided it was a cross between a gremlin and an animal she can't remember now. Possibly a lemur. It did seem to be a mix of several different bugs, but I seriously doubt it had any true mogwai ancestry. To play everything totally safe, we made sure it didn't get wet.

After the photo shoot, I released the beetle onto one of several lawns behind our house. I watched it crawl slowly in a random direction and bid it farewell. A few minutes later, it reappeared at our kitchen window, climbing the screen in an attempt to rejoin our family. As touching a gesture as that was, I decided to recapture it and release it on the side of the house, where tempting fluorescent lights wouldn't it lure it back with false promises of whatever it is beetles long for inside human habitations.

I haven't seen it since.