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Our Diaries

Alex on a carousel at Disneyland in Anaheim, in 2003 when he was five years old.

1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009

“the seasons they go round and round,
And the painted ponies go up and down.
We’re captive on the carousel of time.
We can’t return, we can only look behind
From where we came,
And go round and round and round
In the circle game.”
© Joni Mitchell

05 The Circle Game

During that same 2003 visit to Disneyland, here is Charlie on an imaginary carousel with Pinocchio. That’s one of the things that makes Disneyland special: imagination everywhere, for the children too!

The way she told it in concert, Joni listened to Neil Young’s “Sugar Mountain,” and thought that she should respond. She and Neil were friends in the Canadian music scene in the mid ’60s, and when he turned 21 Neil was no longer allowed in his favorite club in Winnipeg. He sang his regrets about the life he was leaving behind in “Sugar Mountain.” According to Joni, “Circle Game” was her response. In the first volume of Neil’s musical memoirs, released in 2009, he made fun in 1969 of that linkage between the songs.

Myths from the 1970s are so hard to keep straight. But they’re both beautiful songs, and now, finally, you can play “Circle Game” from the link above on this page. Let’s hear it for modern technology!

Alban on a carousel, also at Disneyland but this time in 1999. Needless to say, a nine-year old boy rides one differently!

We don’t write songs about our carousels. We photograph them, and we’re happy enough with that.

Every year has had its highlights and its lowpoints, for our family as for any other. In 2007, by way of the year’s family website improvement project, we first put these high and low points together and spread them out year by year.

We started in 1994, when the parents moved in together, and went on through 2009, their last year together.

Here’s a dynamic carousel, this time at the Santa Cruz County Fair in Watsonville in the fall of 2000. You can’t see the faces, but the postures of the children say a lot: Tom is making his seat twist backwards and forwards, Daphné is raising her arms as her friend looks back at her, and Alban at the back is driving a race car!

Starting in 1997, we began to send an annual update with our Christmas, Holiday or New Year’s greeting. These updates summarize their respective years, and we add photos or other mementos to complement them. We compiled the pages for the earlier years here, before 1997, by looking at letters, photographs and the like to remind ourselves of what was happening.

It was all so crazy during those early years, so much going on, that most of it didn’t make the annual summaries. Starting in 2010 I’ll be adding, both to existing pages and to new ones covering prior years and our family history, other anecdotes and stories as far back as I can remember with some degree of fidelity. What started out as a photo album will hopefully become a real journal of the life of a family.

This is Charlie and his Maman on a French carousel in the town of Six-Fours, on the Mediterranean coast near Toulon. We stayed there during the summer of 1999 with Tante Lucette in her lovely apartment right on the beach. Actually, she moved out for the duration of our stay! Tante Lucette took the photo.

For some reason, there were no annual updates for 2002 and 2003, or maybe they were lost in that computer virus attack we suffered during the period, and so we’ve compiled them too in the same way as we compiled the summaries for pre-1997.

Starting in 2004, we began to include photographs in the updates. In some cases, the photos included in these diary pages differ, because the originals are elsewhere on the web site and because we added photos here. That’s the beauty of photo software: if you don’t need to print, each photo file is pretty small.

Tom on another French carousel, this time in a field near Carrefour in Rambouillet during the summer of 1996. “The painted ponies go up and down!”

And of course, we paste our carousel pictures here, because these pages are our own little carousel of time.

But Joni, I gotta tell you, that we weren’t captive on our carousel of time. Nope, not us. We, and that means all of us, children and parents, made the carousel turn and turn to our own particular rhythms! Not always melodic, sometimes even discordant, but all our own.

Those rhythms come through when we move on to other kinds of rides . . .

Charlie at Santa Cruz’ s own Beach Boardwalk in 2004.

As we grow older, and watch our children grow older, we realize more and more that our carousel of time was never the smooth and elegant Victorian carousel that the word evokes.

Rather, our carousel can go very fast at times, like the ride Charlie is on at the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz on the left. It span like a top, first forwards and then backwards, all the while squeezing Charlie into the outside cushion. Did we try to explain centrifugal force? Don’t think so!

In Le Jardin des Tuileries in Paris, where Marie-Hélène and I courted all those years ago. Charlie and I racing down the summer water ride in July 2004.

And much of the time our carousel jerks and twists more like a roller coaster than a carousel.

Not forgetting are the more serious ups and downs that we face, like graduations and adolescence, and moving out of the family home, and of course water rides, like the one on the right.

And there are also those unavoidable bumps in the road that we face as do all families. Like this bumper car that gave Alban and Daphné such a good time.

Alban letting it loose! This was taken in the fairground in Rambouillet during the summer of 1996.

Yes, our life together as a fairground is a metaphor that we can enjoy playing with!

Here’s a 2010 Christmas wish from our friend Dave Sandles in Vancouver:

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate and wine in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!”

That’s what we have had on our roundabout, on our very own roller coaster, 16 years of Disney’s Space Mountain, roaring through the skies with our six screaming, tumbling bundles of energy: WOO HOO what a ride!!