Switched from vodka tonics to water early enough during New Year’s Eve to have avoided a hangover, but a nightmare woke me in the early hours. I shook it off, tried to shake it off, stumbled into the kitchen for Benedryl and Advil, then returned to sleep. The Benedryl worked too well — I must find a happy medium between insomnia and oversleeping.

We’d let Nick stay at a friend’s, something he’s been wanting to do more often, a situation that is complicated by our diabetes concerns. He strives to be normal; we struggle to bend circumstances to allow him to be.

Made pancakes for the girls, apple juice and cornmeal. Not as sweet as they usually are. I blame the filtered apple juice — I think the unfiltered carmelizes so much better. The pancakes weren’t bad, but anything less than amazingly yummy is failure.

Had better luck in the afternon. Drove the bikes to town, parked off Alliance, pedaled off hopeful the pending rain would remain that way for another hour. A little south wind helped us north, past cows mooing for their feed and the farmer dispensing the hay. Up and over the Hammond Bridge, water rushing gray and white below. Later, that same water again, this time spilling out the mouth of the Mad into an ocean of quiet violence. Families dotted the trail; we braked and called, “On your left!” multiple times, dodged dogs and children, stood up on the uphill, tried to take the downhill slopes without pause or flinch. (Admittedly, it’s not a particularly challenging ride in the vertical sense!) The rain held until about the 11th mile of our 13 roundtrip. By that time, we welcomed the added sense of adventure — easy enough to do with the car nearly in sight.

Every time we ride the Hammond, I envy McKinleyville a bit. I hope to see a trail link the peninsula to Arcata someday. To ride safely while enjoying the beauty we live in makes me wonder why that can’t be the norm, why such a useful treasure isn’t replicated everywhere.

Took Chelsea and her dog to Petco for puppy play and to sign up for obedience classes, our Christmas gift to her. (Once the kids get too old for you to simply boss around, you have to find more creative ways to help them make the best decisions. Especially when they don’t know exactly what they do want to do, but they do know that they do not want to do anything you might suggest.)

Bobby and I tried to find a place to eat during the hour we had to wait — should’ve hit Golden Harvest to see if they were open. Instead we turned north to find Rita’s closed, Cafe Nooner closed, Eureka Natural Foods closed… we ended up at the Co-op where the deli had run out of bread and so couldn’t make any sandwiches. We scavenged the last two Indonesian Wraps out of the case and finally slaked our hunger.

Home to whip up some pasta with garlic, tomatoes and basil. In an expression of my cruel and domineering ways, I insisted Nick disengage from the computer and play chess with me. In an expression of his ongoing mission to prove himself right, he kicked my ass, leaving me with a helpless king while his queen, rook and bishop circled round me.

I lost another battle, too: as I type, they’re watching The Departed. A well-reviewed movie with actors I like — I have seen it once before and yes, a certain eloquence and character study appeals to me. But I weary of the violence — and the repetition of renting movies featuring such violence. I long for some beauty, some humor, something that leaves one with the feeling that life is ultimately a lovely thing. A movie that invokes the sensation of soaring down a hill on my bicycle amidst the anticipation of rain — to feel joyful, to feel alive.