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7 January 2001

Today seems to be a day to concentrate on house and home. Oh I don't mean that I spent the day sprucing up the place (you know me better than that!).

No, first of all, this morning Walt did some investigation and discovered that when he makes the house payment this month, it will be the last house payment. We have lived here 30 years and will have paid off the 30 year mortgage. Somehow it seems so anticlimactic. Perhaps that's because of the second mortgage we took out to have the roof repaired last year (and pay for our trips to England). But still it's quite a credit to...longevity, I guess...that we have actually paid off the first mortgage.

In the afternoon, we drove to Oakland to meet Jeri at the home of her friend Joe and his partner Stacie. Joe plays the saxophone and was in Lawsuit in the early days, and for several years. He left the band when he went to Bolivia with the Peace Corps, and would make guest appearances with gigs when he was in town after that. When Jeri comes to town she usually stays with Joe and Stacie.

Now Joe and Stacie have bought a house and today was the housewarming. The plan was that we would pick Jeri up there and take her to the Oakland airport to return to Boston.

We felt right at home when we arrived. The house is a smaller version of our first house, which was located just about a mile from this new house. I always loved that house, so it was nice to see this small version.

While most of the people there were unknown to us, the guests we knew were all from the old Lawsuit days. Several of the guys in the band are married now, and have kids, and ironically many of them have settled within a short distance of each other. It's an echo of our own years when the kids were little and all of our best friends from college lived nearby.

Joe spent some time in Bolivia with the Peace Corps and a friend of his had arranged a cha'lla to bring luck to the new house. This is a ritual blessing performed in Bolivia as an offering to mother earth.

cha'lla.jpg (15062 bytes)I'm not totally sure of the finer points, but basically an altar is built, with candles and things from nature. In Bolivia this would include substances that we might have been arrested for here, so bay leaves were substituted.

cha'lla2.jpg (16403 bytes)The candles are lit and then people toss serpentine or confetti onto the fire for luck.  Alcohol is poured on the candles to set the whole thing on fire (since we couldn't use pure alcohol, Joe used lighter fluid).    In Bolivia everyone then would take a swig of the alcohol, but since we weren't going to drink lighter fluid, they made do with vodka. Traditionally, each person takes a mouthful from the bottle, swallows half of it, and spits the other half onto the fire, which keeps the fire going for longer (bringing more good luck).

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When the fire has nearly gone out, the entire thing is picked up with a shovel and buried --or at least it was today. It was a nice ceremony and we all enjoyed participating in it.

I thought back to the many gatherings which had taken place in our Oakland house when we were the age that our children are now, and I watched the new parents with the babies, and I realized that yes, it really has been thirty years since we moved to Davis and it does feel that it's time to have the mortgage paid off.

At the end of the evening, we took Jeri to the airport, and as I type this, she is on her way back to Boston to decide what she's going to do with the rest of her life, now that she is a Berklee College of Music graduate.

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Guest Refrigerator Door

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These Magnets are from Sunshyn

One Year Ago

Having a Whale of a Time

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Created 1/06/02