Thursday, August 12, 2004

I am at my family's home, and have been here since last Wednesday. Winnie came along for the first week, and we trooped around College Park and DC and Annapolis. My siblings came along for some of the DC visits, and we went to Annapolis with my parents. We ate dinner with my friends on Saturday evening, and ate lunch with one of her college friends on Sunday afternoon, and had other meals with varying subsets of my family. The weather was mild and clear through Wednesday morning, when Winnie left. A thunderstorm blew past Wednesday afternoon, and today a more serious storm system started moving past. I'm listening to the sound of rain on the roof as I type. It's a nice sound.

College Park remains much the same as I remember, enough that it was no problem to navigate. There is a Ten Ren Tea House, new since I graduated (though that's five years past, now). I remember a quirky little coffee shop at that corner which no longer seems to be there. They used to have open mike nights periodically. I visited that cafe sometimes, though I always avoided the open mike nights; but I like the idea of a tea house, too. Not that it matters either way, I suppose.

Now I'm just enjoying the quiet of home. Our old grey cat, Misty, is the only survivor from when I still really lived here, but the other cats are willing to be around, even if they're cautious. There are books, of course, and I've been going through a novel or two each day, for the past couple days. They're mostly short, light, and forgettable. An exception, which I picked up in an idle moment in a Barnes and Noble in DC (you knew I would visit a book store some time, right?) is Don Knuth's Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About. I particularly enjoyed lectures 3 and 4, but the whole book was interesting and entertaining, and I'm looking forward to taking it back to California to lend to friends there.

I'm in the middle of a few serial letters. I do enjoy writing to people, assuming that I remember their address and have some inkling that a letter might be welcome. I took home a fountain pen which is one of my favorites for letter-writing, and some pads of regular-sized paper. I like e-mail -- at least, I like it many days when the spam filter is working -- but there's something relaxing to writing a letter that isn't shared in writing an e-mail. Perhaps it's a lack of immediacy. Or maybe it's just that a pen or pencil and a piece of paper are such wonderfully engineered artifacts: simple to use, robust, unlikely to freeze up or lose a connection, unchanging in their fundamental design for a long time.

I've done a little work, sipped a little tea, and spent a lot of time staring into space. I've exchanged awful puns with Dad, and sung silly songs with Mom, and had unhurried conversations with my brothers, and played with the cats. And while I look forward to returning home to California on Monday, for now I'm just enjoying the old home.