Friday, October 22, 2004

Welcome back, my friends, to the blog that never ends

Ah, home. Be it ever so humble, and all that.

I've returned, as you've no doubt guessed from the appearance of these words. I spent most of the past week in not-so-sunny southern California, where the weather outside was frightful. The orange and palm trees swayed, to borrow a lyric from Irving Berlin, but mostly due to stiff gale-force winds that blew in with the unseasonably early rains that plagued us for most of my visit.

The occasion for my trip to the Southland was a five-lecture series hosted by a church in the coastal hamlet of Port Hueneme, nestled into a tidy pocket of beachfront property between the more sizable cities of Oxnard and Ventura. From what little I saw, I'd guess that Port Hueneme is a Naval installation, a few housing tracts, some rather seedy-looking apartment complexes, and not much else. Most of the urban staples — shopping malls, fast food joints, and so on — appear to be concentrated in the surrounding burgs.

I had a delightful time, bookended by a pair of 422-mile drives — the first partly through a driving monsoon that made the trip slower, more nerve-jangling, and ultimately a couple of hours later in arriving than I'd anticipated. (Fortunately, the sun blazed gloriously for the ride home yesterday, and the traffic parted before me like the Red Sea before Moses, so I made up time on the back end.)

The trip was truly made memorable by the members of the local church, who welcomed me with open arms, and feted and feasted me far beyond what I needed or deserved. Everyone I met seemed genuinely warm and gracious. The lessons went well — I always find myself thinking, "I should have made that point better," or, "I should have worked this thought in somewhere" — but all in all I presented as well as I'm capable, and I felt good about the overall effort. I developed a fast new friend in the local minister, with whom I had many a probing chat about issues of faith and of the day. His son, who was instrumental in recommending me for the appointment, and I had a great visit on Wednesday, touring the local countryside (there really is countryside in the unpaved portions of the Los Angeles basin) and enjoying a leisurely chat.

As pleasant as the time away was, nothing beats the sweet feeling of my old familiar office, and the enveloping presence of my wife, daughter, and dog. I missed them, along with my computer — I can't recall the last time I was offline for six entire days — the clutter of my workstation, and the posterior-caressing comfort of my desk chair. I spent today plowing through the tsunami of e-mail that washed in while I was gone, paying a stack of bills, and dashing off a pile of thank-you notes to my host family and all the folks who took me out or had me in for meals during my stay in Port Hueneme.

Home, someone once observed, is the one place in the world where you can go that they have to let you in. I'm happy to report that no one changed the locks in my absence.

1 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Joel offered these pearls of wisdom...

You were visiting our humble state? Ah, welcome to our winters. Now it's a brisk 70 degrees F. Brrr...

3:39 PM  

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