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  Santa Cruz is a wonderful place to live. Located at the northern end of the Monterey Bay, it is actually the only southward facing California city.

Santa Cruz views

Looking South, over Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay, to Big Sur, and beyond...

We live outside the urban area, beyond the hustle and bustle of city life, amongst the redwoods and nature spirits which still peak out at us from behind moss covered stumps and cathedral like ceilings. Driving into town along the road which climbs the ridge into Bonny Doon where we reside, the vista suddenly shifts from nurturing green tunnels, moist, protective, cool and close, to a bright, wide open view of the skies, Bay and ocean off to its right, extending across the horizon and out of sight until it finally reaches the Asian shore half an Earth's rotation away.
Muscle Slug Logo

The UCSC Banana Slug

It is an impressive sight, all the more so for its shift in contrasts, as though the green womb from which we had just emerged had suddenly given birth to this panorama.
The Banana Slug

The Real McCoy

On a clear day you can see Monterey on the southern end of the Bay, over 40 miles away, at the very beginning of Big Sur. Like Boulder and Amherst, towns that I have called home before coming here, this is a University town and youth is a central axis upon which the area turns, making education a vital local industry. Unlike the screaming eagle, hawk, buffalo and other mascots of the more eastern provinces, out here UCSC calls the Banana Slug mascot; a slimy, yellow, rather large ooze of creation which leaves a moist, gelatinous trail in its wake.

  Only in California.

  Go Slugs.

  One of the things I miss most out here though are my kids. It's been my experience that there's a directness and honesty with one's children that is just not to be found among the many treasures life has to offer. I remember one episode about twenty years ago, when Andy was around 3 or 4.
Little guy

Andy as a little guy

He's a double Aries and so tends to come right out with what's on his mind. It was the time when those fanny packs were popular, the ones that attached to your belt and could be worn above the backside (hence the name, I suppose), on your side or even front. At the time I had picked up a black leather fanny pack, and had been in the habit of wearing it, usually pushed off slightly to one side. It seemed to be the thing to do at the time. Andy was with me, and he looked up at me with those big, curious watery eyes of his (Pisces Moon) and said tenderly,

Mt Sugarloaf

Atop Mt Sugarloaf


  "Yes, Mr. A?"

  I called him Mr. A.

  "Dad, when you die, can I have your bag?"

  Among the spontaneous laughter I told him,

  "Sure, you can have my bag, Mr. A."

  It was about that same time when we used to connect. As a double Aries (another reason for the nickname, Mr. A), Andy was filled with fire, and particularly as a young pup he was always jumping straight up, usually with excitement or enthusiasm. Before he could walk Karen got him a 'bouncy seat', the kind you hang in the threshold of a doorway, and they can only bounce up and down. He loved it! Here was action! Here was excitement! I guess this is where he picked up the habit; I don't know.

  Obviously I loved playing with the kids. For instance, without their knowing it I would sneak up behind one of them, and all of a sudden wrap my big arms around them to pick him up and toss them into the air, or nuzzle in on their neck, tickle their tummies; whatever. At that point you just let inspiration take over.

  So I'm sneaking up behind Andy and I'm in the dive; I'm going down, quickly bending at the waist to get my torso close, the noose of my arms tightening around him.

kt and Andy

kt and Andy

  The anticipation of the hunt. The moment of truth. The flash of surprise.

  That's when he jumps.

kt and Andy

Right in the kisser!

  You'd be amazed what those little legs can do with just a short, almost involintary bounce, moving up the central mass of the body, driving against the force of gravity yet without any discernable note of warning, reinforced by the dramatic imperative of his resilient yet case hardened skull.

  The surprising surge of all that youthful force, a geyser of hot water bursting straight up through the Earth, applied specifically to the area of the upper teeth and lower nose of the incoming, low-flying ~Daddo.

  Andy didn't understand why suddenly his Dad was making so much noise.

  Yup, that's when we used to connect.

  Pain is but one of the many, subtle forms of male bonding.

  It was years later when Katie, my Scorpio daughter, noticed that I was starting to get a few grey hairs. I told her that it was just my wisdom starting to show. She said,

kt and Andy

Years later, the Dynamic Duo

  "Naw, Dad. You're just getting old."

  With her Sun, Mercury and a couple of other planets in Scorpio, she tends to cut to the chase.

  Shortly after I had started going out with Lisa, I was telling Katie about some of her background, and of how her previous boyfriend, Gerry, was a millionaire. After a few moments stunned silence, she asked, as though utterly aghast,

  "She did?" And then, another short pause.

  "And she gave him up...

  ...for you!??

  Those are my kiddos.

  Love those kiddos!!


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