At the bottom on the left is an alphabetical list of the pages in this web site, to help you navigate if you feel so inclined.
A guide to our family photo album covering 1994-2010, showing the principal themes, is here.
A year by year guide to our family time-line from 1994 through 2007 is here.
A photo journal beginning in 2008 is here.
The most recent pages of the album, copies of posts from my WordPress family blog, http://ianstock.wordpress.com/, are linked here:
http://www.zinzins.net/disneyland_weekend_2011.htm, http://www.zinzins.net/peace_train.htm, http://www.zinzins.net/manutd_v_barca.htm, http://www.zinzins.net/xmas_&_alex_birthday.htm.
The 2004 Annual Update: Happy Holidays to all!!
It’s been a bit of a rough year here in Northern California. Touch wood, our health is fine, but in January the year began with the bang of Nick having a bad car accident. Early on a weekday afternoon, he was driving on one of the worst winding, hilly, narrow, poorly maintained roads in the area, heading home from High School. A car coming the other way came over the double yellow lines and pushed Nick over the edge of the tarmac. He overcorrected in bringing himself back on to the road, and crossed the double yellow lines himself, straight into a minivan. Its driver was 75 years old, and not strapped in. . . .
The authorities determined that there were no indices of misbehavior, no drugs, no alcohol, no friends in the car, no speeding, and thus let him off without prosecution.
So he’s prosecuting himself. We essentially obliged him to graduate High School, which he did not want to do after the accident, and then sent him to Europe. He’s currently coming to the end of a six-month stay based with his mum in Paris, working here and there (at a youth hostel, in a grape harvest), and trying to decompress. The photo on the right was taken at his High School Graduation before he left.
Marie-Hélène took the initial weight of the accident entirely on her shoulders. She took the call from the neighbor where it occurred, and talked it through with the California Highway Patrol officer who investigated. She held Nick as he cried and cried at the scene, and then watched the other driver and his wife, who had been strapped in but was still gravely injured, driven away with Nick to be flown by helicopter to the trauma center in San Jose. . . . Not an auspicious beginning to the year.
The logistics were a nightmare for a while. I was working down South, only home on weekends, and Marie-Hélène was obliged to drive six children to and from three different schools scattered around the area, not to speak of the soccer practices and other activities. Since then, she has been picking up the pieces, for herself and for the family. It has been a real drama, and working through it has taken qualities that she may not have known that she had. She has strengths at things that I have given up on.
In April, I stopped working down in Newport Beach and moved back home on a full-time basis. The ensuing free time has been a godsend. I’m 50,000 words into an autobiography of my first 18 years.
We are learning how to print digital photos, and the website (www.zinzins.net) has been a pleasure to embellish. We have even made a DVD of highlights of this last season’s soccer games. The preservation of memories is becoming more and more fun. The Company was very nice in letting me go, but now it is time to get back to work.
Daphné has her own car too now and is doing pretty well, the two facts not being unrelated. She regularly does her homework without being harassed to do so, which makes her unique among the four adolescents. She attends the local Teen Court, a model of a real criminal court where juvenile petty criminals are prosecuted, defended and judged by a jury of their peers, with the only adults the judge (a real one, at that) and bailiff. She has held two jobs this semester to keep herself in funds, working 30 hours a week during the Xmas rush. We bought the car, but she has to share in the running costs. Her first boyfriend appears to be serving at the pleasure of the State (we can’t be sure of this: she is very discrete), but she remains loyal to him in the fashion of the times. She has friendships with other guys, “with benefits!” Oh boy. Her grades are good, and she has a natural writing talent, but for now wants to work in the criminal justice system. We call that “looking for love in all the wrong places”!
Alban deliberately gets as close to failing in school as he can, to be cool. We have engaged a tutor for him and Tom, a friend from my undergraduate years at UC Berkeley, and he is very pleased with Alban’s progress. He turned white when we told him Alban’s most recent grades: “but how did he do so badly? It’s just not possible!” As I said, it’s deliberate.
He won’t do any of the activities that we would like, for instance continue his soccer, at which he excelled, or start high-board diving, at which he showed great promise. Rather, he now applies his natural athleticism to skimboards, which involve racing along the water’s edge after a wave breaks and then jumping on a board which skims on the shallow water. So he’s gone from skateboard to surfboard to skimboard.
We’ve given up on moving him on to blackboards, but are making headway in helping him discover that not all reading will make him bored!
Tom recently took up wrestling at Harbor High School, and has taken on with fervor learning the guitar (see Tom with his guitar here) that he received for his birthday this year, both of which are encouraging. He has even started taking an interest in cooking. All very nice. Unfortunately, his most inflexible habit remains saying no, which he regretfully does a great deal at school and with his tutor. His reaction to the uncertainties of new knowledge is to refuse it, which does not bode well, but since I started explaining this to him a couple of months ago, he has promised to turn over a new leaf . . . next year. At least he accepts the principle.
Tom and I took a wonderful road trip to western Colorado during the summer, notable for his abandoning the ever-present videos and video games in favor of the extraordinary scenery and his dad’s company. We drove hundreds of miles across back-road Nevada without seeing a motel, and otherwise explored the great American West for six wonderful days behind the wheel.
Charles and Alex are still at ages, 9 and 6 respectively, where it is easier to get on with them and feel proud of them.
We spent Thanksgiving in Death Valley, at a hotel located about 200 feet below sea level. Amidst this glorious scenery, Charlie’s high spot was a tarantula we ran across in a dry canyon. He took four photographs of it. He is a bit influenced already by the pervasive negativity emanating from his older siblings, but remains at heart a sweet boy self-consciously learning how to become a less sweet older boy, but without taking that reduction in sweetness to heart. On his own, a little tired, he likes nothing more than a long hug with a parent, and he is careful to allocate the hugs democratically between us. He remains a star of his soccer team, and is currently watching Manchester United on TV (switching back and forth between the soccer and Sponge Bob Square Pants), but supports Real Madrid, where his hero Zinedine Zidane plays. In his Christmas wish list, mixed in with the soccer garb and video games, he wrote “Nick to come back.”
Alex plays the violin well, soccer well, and does very well at his schoolwork. He is, in short, a very well-rounded little chap, if a little fragile to look at. He won’t eat a lot apart from French fries and Mexican rice, and that only from Taqueria Vallarta. It is always a surprise for the other team’s parents watching his soccer games when he goes at it, wins the ball and runs around the bigger and stronger looking players on the other team. Which he does with a frequency that rivals Charlie’s. He has started doing the occasional sleepover with a friend, and having friends sleep over. He is thriving and blossoming and very cute, as only a six-year old can be. “Charles de Gaulle was a President?” he asked his mother one day recently. “I thought he was a goalkeeper!” Alex has the last word.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!!
Or Happy Holidays, as you wish!!
Charles and Alexander were baptized this summer in the church of Saint Anne de Tréal in Brittany by l’Abbé Texier, a friend of their grandfather’s. Aren’t they angels?
Here is is our carousel of time, and here are other annual updates:
Listing of Pages in the Site
. . . with Alban