I was thinking about the kids the other day, missing them from so far away over here, and yet with the benefit of distance, amazed by each of them, and by the special relationship they have invented with each other.
The result was this:
Those guys really know how to have fun, each according to their interests.
One of John Coltrane's most beautiful compositions and recordings is "After The Rain" which perfectly captures sonically the feeling of a storm passing and the clouds parting and a new ray of sun peeking through.
The Hurricane Horberg's had their own storm pass them by this summer, and here is Natalie to tell the tale:
Like Neptune, Poseidon or The Submariner, Diego has always had a great, natural attraction to water. He was obviously a fish in a past life.
But with personal safety always a concern for the parents of any child, and particularly children with autism, who can often be fearless to the point of unwarranted risk-taking, a trip to the beach can be an adventure in the fine line between fear and love and the attraction that the ocean waves exert.
On our recent outing to the beach, Diego was simultaneously very conscious and concerned about the danger present, and incredibly drawn to fling himself headfirst into the surf. This was the result!
Today's post is a confluence of many of the various interests and influences that shape my life and crop up here from time to time: Chicago, autism, the writer Nelson Algren, my family, life lessons, and most of all, Diego's inspired sense of humor.
A Walk on the Wild Side is a 1956 novel by Algren, often quoted as the source for Algren's "three rules of life":
"Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom's. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own."
To Algren's oft-quoted philosophy, I have to now add a fourth rule, the truth of which hit home last night during a family dinner outing at California Pizza Kitchen:
"Never think you know how to play connect the dots until you've played with a child on the autism spectrum!"
As you can see by the photo, Diego took the idea of "thinking outside the box" quite literally, as he pushed the boundaries of this venerable game in new directions.
In an interview once Algren noted, "The book asks why lost people sometimes develop into greater human beings than those who have never been lost in their whole lives."
Playing connect the dots with Diego was my own "walk on the wild side".
When word got to us that the famous Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena would be opening their doors for just one weekend to the public, you know that the Rocket Man and his sister and I were going to be among the first in line!
Who could miss a chance to enter the actual Mission Control room, nicknamed "The Darkroom" at their Space Flight operations facility, the beating heart of their purpose - the Robotic Exploration of Outer Space!
We got up and out of the house at the crack of dawn, and good thing too because the lines that stretched from the JPL's front door almost felt like they could circle the moon.
Diego's expression says it best: how do you spell A-W-E-S-O-M-E? Standing six feet away from a detailed model of the Mars rover is just about as good as it gets; the only problem was explaining to him why we couldn't all climb on board and make our own journey to the Red Planet on the spot.
The always fashion-forward Natalie couldn't have known that her patterned sweater would fit right in to the Cosmic Designs on display - or could she?
Seeing the Optical Weld Samples and the titanium die-cast parts and the cool innovative Robots on display, and meeting the engineers who designed them, was only a prelude to the Main Event...
...our trip into the Clean Room, where we got the last California glimpse at the NEW Martian Rover, named Curiosity, who is moving soon to the launch pad and taking off for the Red Planet this Fall and will get there sometime in the summer of 2012.
Curiosity is over 2000 lbs, making it something like 60 times larger than the original Rover that went up in 2004. Given its mission - to see if the ICE that has been found on Mars might have ever contained LIFE, I guess they needed this Big Boy for the complex tasks it will handle from 60+ million km away.
The universe is an endlessly strange place, and I'm so happy that Diego is endlessly fascinated by it.
Going to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory was a great way to engage his own roving Curiosity.