Two sisters, two coasts, one blog

What I Did this Summer


As I write this, Hurricane Earl is threatening the coast of North Carolina but since East Twin is tucked safely two hours inland in Raleigh, I’m not too worried about it. Here in Northern California the mornings are getting cooler and crisper than before. Despite the fact that afternoon temperatures have been scorching and sweaty again this week (a pretty good indicator that a wicked “Indian summer” is in store this month) there is a definite feel of Fall in the air.

As of today there are only 2 days left until the kids go back to school. The change of clothes bag is labeled for the kindergartener, the brand spanking new acid-wash jeans and turquoise Vans have been purchased for the fashion-forward fifth grader, and the carpool schedule is all figured out (mostly).

All these signs of the upcoming back-to-school/fall season have put me in the mood for a classic “What I Did This Summer” essay. And although no teacher has assigned it I thought y’all might be interested to hear a synopsis of our fun-filled summer adventures.

Funnily enough, as I was planning this post I came across a ‘report’ in my keepsake box from 27 years ago on this exact topic, already written and illustrated by my 10-year-old self. It’s all put together in a presentation binder and dedicated “to my dear dear grandma, all my love Rucha”. Awwww.

It certainly looks like I had a pretty good time in the summer of 1983, and thank goddess for a written record (and my twin sister’s sharp memory) otherwise I’d have zero recall of my girlhood escapades. So I’m going to be sure to capture the joys of this summer too, on behalf of my future self who in another 27 years might look back and realize that like acid-wash denim and overly chlorinated swimming pools, the good things in life never really change……


Summer 2010 kicked off with a memorable but frigid camping trip to Donner Memorial State Park in Truckee. Regular readers (I think we have at least one out there, right Dad?!) already know all about this, but if You are curious click here.

Ah yes, of course there was LOTS of swimming this summer! Lincoln, our soon to be 5-year-old graduated in his swimming lessons at the City Pool  from ‘Sea Horse’ into ‘Sea Cow’ or ‘Sea Turtle’ or some such thing. And proud we were of him.

big pool, little pool. any pool will do....

Living in the furnace that is the Sacramento Valley in summertime, I’ll be frank and tell you that we are unabashed pool whores. We’ll go anywhere or do anything to get to jump in  a sparkling blue swimming pool on a 100+ degree day. Praise the powers that be and the hands of Fate that allowed us to move into a home two doors down from our amazing generous neighbor Trish. She has the only pool on the block and regularly invites us to go over and use it. I don’t think we would have survived the summer without her, it’s been like our own private country club. Bliss.


I’ve already told you about our adventures in xeriscaping, and August saw our own “Home Improvement” week as well as numerous clean-up days at our kids’ schools. Work, work, work. Here at home we started to pull up the carpet by the front and back door, only to discover tacky 60’s linoleum attached with ancient rock-solid adhesive under some of it, and glowing wood floors under the rest. What was supposed to take a day or two, ended up taking almost a week during which time Keith chipped, scraped and sanded adhesive off, and inadvertently huffed more solvents than a hero in a Gus van Sant film.  The end result isn’t the prettiest wood floor you ever seen but it’s a start and it was kind of thrill to be destroying our own floor of our own home, making our own mistakes with no one but ourselves to be responsible for completing the task. Weird thrill, but I guess the novelty of finally being a homeowner hasn’t worn off yet.


First Place Prize for Summer Fun: The best trip we made this summer hands down, was our family campout (first annual?) with friends Chris and Jenny Stewart and their boys August (14) and Jack (10). Chris arranged the site and made all the arrangements while we just packed up and tagged along. They took us to Sunset State Beach, near Santa Cruz.  It was just the best place! Camping with the ocean just over the dunes, organic u-pick strawberry farms nearby and even a little nursery down the road (I didn’t stop but promised to next time). I liked being near the farmland and  the healing sound of surf at the same time.

There was wildlife everywhere. The majestic pelicans skimming for fish. A big brown owl watching from a tree one night, and every evening at dusk a wave of little bats that would pour out over the campground. Headed out for their night at the beach!

Morning  drizzle, sausage sizzle. It was beach camping at it’s best. I had fun being with the boys on the sand even though there was much surfer-stripping because they all wanted to use the only wetsuit.

many of these photos are courtesy of Chris and Jenny Stewart...thanks guys!

I thought about you a lot sister (and about mom) when we went up to Santa Cruz to the Beach Boardwalk on the second day. I felt so nostalgic for all the time we spent down there with her at the beach and walking on the pier. And that landscape of shabby beach flat apartments and runaway gardens of nasturtium – it was so familiar to my heart.  Like a sweet kid-memory.

Which twin is this?? We disagree. But it's one of us with Mom in Santa Cruz circa 1984


What would summer be without movies. Right? Guess so, judging by the fact that I saw Jaws and Psycho the summer I was 10. I totally remember that day. It was the last day of swim class at King Pool. Advanced Beginner according to my drawing. I was so excited! My reward was to be that I was going to see Jaws 3 in 3-D (Why? With who? I don’t remember). Even then I think I understood something of the irony of it as I splashed awkwardly across the short end of the pool imagining the vivid shark attacks I’d soon be witnessing. I think I was mostly hyped about the “3-D”, having no idea what it was. Must have been a mind-blower though. Look at the drawing on the right. What is that wild scene in the black box with the amoeba squiggles and wiggles?!

The movie that I’m picking to represent the Summer of 2010 and my new cultural signifier is: Hot Tub Time Machine. It is a ridiculous movie and if you haven’t seen it can best be described in this summary. But Keith brought it home one night just for chuckles and besides, it stars John Cusack (admit it he’s a cutie). It totally hit the nail on the head with this whole 80’s revival among young hipsters. Even my own kids are into the 80’s. Like I said before: acid wash.

rockin the 80's fashion & the ubiquitous checkerboard style!


Apparently the Berkeley Kite Festival is an institution in my hometown (it’s been running over 2o years according to the Highline Kites website), but I only just learned about it last year. Last July we all went with my Dad to check it out, and met up at the Berkeley Marina with some Sacto folks had come down for the day. The festival was packed with people, and the day was spent gazing at the sky watching  kites of every conceivable shape and design dance on the wind and battle for the sky. It was beautiful and poetic. A great time was had by all.

This year, not so much. While we were again uber-prepared (thanks Pop for the egg-salad sandwiches!) and had staked out the best spot for both kite-watching and kite-flying, our day was spoiled by a taste of the sullen underbelly of kiting culture. Now this is all hearsay, seeing as I wasn’t there at the time (probably busy chasing a baby or something) but I believe the story goes like this: while my Dad was flying his brand-new $150 kite which was extended up hundreds of feet above the meadow of the Marina, some fool kite aficionado with a nifty little flyer, crossed my dad’s path and the string of his kite cut the string of Dad’s kite. Swoosh – away it swept over downtown Berkeley and into the great beyond. Gone.

We were all baffled as to what exactly happened.How could one string cut another string? The kite dude was no help – he just shrugged and moved on. I saw him later bragging to someone else about how high his kite was flying. Kite egotist?!

Disappointed and slightly pissed, my Dad kept an eye on the culprit and not much later we noticed that something was glittering and glinting, dangling at the end of his kite line. Glass perhaps? When I re-told the story of our loss later to friends, all of them said “Oh! just like in The Kite Runner”. I never read it but loved A Thousand Splendid Suns also by Khaled Hosseini (which you gave me East Twin). I guess maybe now I should read it, so as to be prepared.

Better luck next year?


Many a birthday has been celebrated in the last few weeks, and forgive me because I know there is going to be somebody that I’m going to forget, but I want to give a shout-out to all the lovely people that we know who have grown another year older and wiser:  the fantastic Michela Maiden, my friend Nick Fyodor Labedski (proud that his initials are ‘NFL’), the one and only Mr. Brian LaTour, gorgeous Hannah Shepherd, my girl Czsea Mae and little miss Violet Grace Wilson, who all turned 12 this year(omg!!), also sweet Joseph Guzman is 10, and baby Zeke is 1 old!!

Girl Party! Czesa's 12th birthday - 1950's theme


Summer 2010 also saw umpteen trips to the library, a new family bike riding habit formed, a block party, lots of hanging out like groupies with preschoolers & their mamas all over the parks of Sacramento, and peach picking and spontaneous pie with our sweet friends Sandra, Nilesh and Meera Rose.

Life was lived richly – people died, babies were conceived, hearts were broken and some mended –  all within our circle of friends and the heat of each lazy day. There were times when to just do nothing with the whole day yawning out in front of us was an indescribable happiness, and other times when boredom ate away at our attitudes and sparks of friction flew everywhere.

dippin dots - "the ice cream of the future"?!

4th of July on 25th Street

day trip to the railroad museum, mama is otherwise distracted.

the art of doing nothing


Fall brings the blessed cool and reprieve from the endless days. The rhythm and routine of the school year will be a welcome change…until it becomes old hat (around December)… and then… increasingly monotonous and oppressive as the weeks of commitment march on! Finally in the end June will beckon once more, and the freedom and possibilities of Summer will call to us again.

13 Responses to “What I Did this Summer”

  1. spongeystef...queen of the long run-on sentence

    thanx 4 the tour of “SUMMER” i loved seeing the boyz juxtaposed between shots of mama-Ru
    and drawings mama-Ru did 27 years ago..

    It filled me w/ odd longings of my own summers of yesteryear….
    mine-own ancient summers AND
    the summers of my girls at 10,5&2 yrs old…….. ahhhhh
    it flies by soooooo fast.

    Then BLAMMO yer A GRaMMo
    xxoo spongey

  2. fran

    Thanx. That was a good peek at your busy & rich summer. Much fun under the sun. Nice pics and art. Made me reflect on past summers I shared with our children . . .

  3. oami powers

    Oh, that is DEFINITELY you in that picture with mom! Lovely and evocative, as always…you & the boys so beautiful and all those gorgeous children are so big now, it hurts how fast they turning into grown people…Meera Rose, Czesa & Elvie they were all just born weren’t they?? I mistook Lincoln for Maceo for a second in the photo at the train museum. But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong about the beach photo!

  4. Norman Ross Powers

    Beautiful essay, daughter. It held answers for various questions I had about recent months (Sunset Beach?/acid washed jeans?) and lent texture and detail to my mental panorama of your pals and life as lived in Sac. The faded foto from ’84 is so clearly yourself half-buried in the beach at SC, I’m surprised there’s a question. Also, thanks for the nice acknowledgement of all the summer Birthday People. If I may, I’ll add your sister, Bridget, to that crew.

  5. Norman Ross Powers

    Oh, two more thoughts. I talked to the pack of good ‘ol boy kite flyers who almost live at the kite park all summer and they were not able to confirm my belief that someone deliberately cut my kite string at the Festival. They reckoned it must have been a weird accident, so I’m going with that since I don’t really want to dwell on the idea of a nasty underside to the kiting scene here. Finally, I love the little image punctuating the end of your piece….the forced perspective, the twilight. Perfect!

  6. Norman Ross Powers

    I’m in tears, Rucha! I love all of you so much! Wishing we were closer but feel as tho I shared it all because of this blog! xoxo, Michela

  7. Gabrielle Jones

    Im a regular reader!! I love your blog and knowing what you both are up to. Just the same creative and beautiful girls I shared my acid wash jeans with (and other things) the first time they came around!

    • ruchapowers

      Gabrielle…I was SO excited to see that you’ve been reading!! And yes I remember sharing a few pairs of acid-wash denim and lots of good times with you too. Hope all is well. Hugs & kisses to you and your family.

  8. Meg

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful summer. I had the pleasure of meeting your Twin in Raleigh and what a pleasure she is. You seem to be a delight as well. Keep sharing and thank you for the road down the summer lane.

    • ruchapowers

      Thanks Meg. You are my first official reader-unknown-to-me…cool! and nice to ‘meet’ you! Glad to see Oami making new friends in her adopted homeland. Hope you keep enjoying the blog!

  9. ruchapowers

    Thanks to you all my dear loved ones and dedicated ETWT fans! Now that I know that “blog etiquitte” allows for me to ‘comment’ back to my ‘commenters’ without looking like a cheeseball….I’m gunna! Thanks for all your feedback and extra added tidbits…it just makes each post richer and more fun. But for the record, the girl on that beach is Oami and not me…. 🙂

  10. Jacquelyn Marie

    Yes, you two spent much time, with Mom and with me, in Santa Cruz in the 80’s. Glad to see you enjoyed it again with your boys.

    Love seeing the creative Rucha of the past as well as the present.


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