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After the first wave.
July 18th, 1999

The Party
The sacrifice of the family goat and the supplications to Wotan have provided a sun in a cloudless sky for the family party this afternoon. One does not send supplications to Wotan without second thoughts, the rituals by themselves are gritty and immodest by contemporary standards and, in retrospect, a little embarrassing, but we needed sunlight for the party and Wotan, push come to shove, is the sure bet. (Similar rituals are available for raising the dead and arranging Nordic beer festivals.) The local church, versed in our ways, frowns, but keeps its own counsel and says little as long as we keep it to goats down in the ice caves. It's important we keep it to goats. In the old days when we were out looting the coasts, we might pick up the odd Irishman along with the loot or (and this was always a treat for the kids), a mad Englishman painted blue, babbling about tea and tri-lateral trade as he watched the water with ever increasing horror bubbling up around him, bright white steam rising into the cold ice cavern air, the children's eyes wide, bright and delighted.

This party tradition was started over 20 years ago by my aunt Victoria, an inspired idea, I think, allowing out on the edges Waldgangers like me Michael, age 8 months. to maintain our connection to family central. My father was an only child so there are no aunts and uncles on his side, but my mother was one of five children: two brothers and two sisters who between them had thirteen children themselves, counting myself, my sister and cousins, one lost tragically to leukemia when very young, one lost perhaps even more tragically to cancer, the eldest, when he was in his late 40's. Time moves in fast motion when the frames are taken twice a year, cousins growing older through various successes and failures, children born, growing up then bearing children of their own. I'm coupled in time and spirit to a bunch of old farts who have become actual grandparents, the kind of people you see on television saying how great this pill or that medicine has made them, able now to play a whole round of golf in an afternoon. I know how this sounds to younger, more sensitive ears, but I can assure you (with some ameliorating aspects known only to old farts), it sounds pretty fucking strange to me too sitting here at this computer at the kitchen table where I can remember (about three days ago) eating pancakes with my cousins the summer before I entered high school.

Not everyone makes it to the party in any given year of course. Rebecca with her Master's license, has hired on as the captain of a charter boat this summer, ferrying divers off the Kona coast. Her sister Emily arrived later after she finished work, preparing for a career as a pilot, my cousin Steve (the pilot) going over the steps necessary to complete the process and why this is a good time in the scheme of passenger jets and pilots to enter the trade. Their brother competes in extreme ski events around the world and is probably either on the slopes at the moment or lying in some hospital somewhere watching them prepare the cast for his broken (fill in the blank).

This is good, this is what the restless kids, the probing kids just coming out of the box should be doing, trying all the stuff they've heard about and wondered about and thought about while they were trapped inside the parental compound. I used to know one, long ago. There's a certain amount of danger, you can't get around that, but you hope when it's dark and it's foggy and they have to fly out over an ocean to an island in the Atlantic in a plane with one motor that they've read the manual and understand the part about what happens when you ditch at 200 miles an hour and they don't (go) but decide instead to hitch a ride with Emily on her 747, full throttle, three engines in reserve, position displayed real time on the control panel, buy your ticket at the counter, please, and prepare to fly!

The photographs were taken at the family party today in Seattle with the digital camera. I should have taken a little more care to get a better banner shot, but I was basically shooting film and the digital pictures were sort of an afterthought until now.