The Kuraoka Family Big Bear Journal

The Kuraoka family, November 2012
Us, March 31, 2013: Leo, John, Ondine, Roy, and Shadow

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Roy and Leo had CST testing in school for the last two weeks. Those are California standardized academic tests in various subjects. So, they had minimal homework and Roy had two minimum days per week.

End of an Era Dept.: Barbara put the Big Bear cabin up for sale! She and Bill bought it over 20 years ago, and it's been a big part of the family's life. It's a small, simple 2-bedroom cabin set on a slope so you climb a creaky flight of wooden stairs to a good-sized wood deck set into the treetops. The front room looks directly out into the trees, so you're surrounded by branches like a treehouse. The golden pine ceiling stretches further upward, casting a warm glow inside despite the cloudy skies. Opposite the door, there's a massive stone fireplace, its craggy face wearing a stubble of soot. A wood-trimmed doorway leads to the bathroom and two cozy bedrooms at the back of the cabin.

After he retired, Bill used to go to the cabin for a week of skiing several times through the season. We went to the cabin once in the snow too, and the boys loved sledding down the hill right across the street. We always said we wanted to take advantage of the cabin more often, but what with Scouts and judo and other activities it always seemed too hard to get everyone packed and make that four-hour drive to Big Bear.

But now, with the cabin officially on the market, we made a determined push and went up this last weekend. Well, it was listed for all of maybe five days. An offer was made, Barbara through her agent countered, and after a brief negotiation Barbara got word last Friday that the cabin had been sold! It is now in escrow.

So, this weekend may be our last ever at the cabin, the end of an era. Roy turned on the water at the main and helped unpack. Then the boys threw paper airplanes off the deck and used a bucket on a rope to retrieve them. (John's super organic airplane design soared beyond the previous record, over the next lot - which goes with the cabin - and well into the next one after that, several feet past a marker stump.) We used the baby gate to close off the stairs so Shadow was free to roam the deck amid the treetops. We played Pathfinder for a while.

The chairlifts were still closed down, so the traditional ride to the top of the mountain wasn't an option. But, Saturday evening, we all went to dinner at Pong's, one of Grandpa Bill's favorite restaurants. We left Shadow in the car, in his crate with a big rawhide chew, and that worked out well. But we took the photo of Grandpa Bill with us so we were all around the table together for one final meal at Pong's. It was delicious!

We stopped on the way home to walk along a short boardwalk over the water. It was the same boardwalk where Grandpa Bill had lost his hat to the wind, and soon after one of the boys had lost a glove! Both were retrieved from the water after the wind drove them close to shore. Every place, it seems, holds a special memory. On the way home, we paused by a meadow at the top of Vista St. and watched several cayoots frolic, dashing back and forth and howling. Shadow, in the back seat with his rawhide chew, paid them no mind.

When we got home, we had a fire before everyone turned in for the night. The boys slept in the room Grandpa Bill and Grandma Baba had set up for them so many years ago, the room they always slept in. We slept on the sofa bed in the living room.

Sunday morning the boys were up bright and early. We had a leisurely breakfast and then set up the peanuts and birdseed along the rail to bring in the birds. Shaodw, it turned out, was quite agile and displayed a real taste for birdseed! The birds ignored him, though, simply shifting their feeding to where he wasn't. Barbara, Ondine, Leo, and Shadow went for a walk in the meadow where we'd spotted the cayoots the night before.

We lingered probably a bit too long given that the next day was school and CST testing to boot. But it was hard to say goodbye. Over the weekend we'd been choosing special things to bring home, and we left quite the list for Barbara to gather up in a final farewell trip to Big Bear.

Monday it was back to school and work, with CST testing continuing this week. John has been so busy he hasn't been able to upload the photos from Big Bear, but there were lots. Look for them on our virtual refrigerator door and also on this page, which will likely be archived as a Big Bear memory.

The Dow hit 15,000 last week, and has managed for the most part to stay above that mark since.

Weekend Preview includes a Scout Merit Badge Day, which means several kid-free hours, and Mother's Day! Hi Moms!

Neighborhood gas prices, which had been stable after a decline, kicked upward to $4.09 per gallon.

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