Full House

In mid-July 2006, my quiet, peaceful solace of a home life in the Bay Area was suddenly interrupted by an “invasion”, uh, I mean a “visit”, by 11 members of a Cobb delegation from Detroit over a 12-day period. :v) This contingent included three sisters, two brothers-in-law, four nieces, and two nephews. Although they arrived in three different groups that stayed for seven (7) days each, there were fours days that overlapped, which left me with a “full house”. Just a month earlier, my brother, his wife, and their young son had also visited for a week from outside Chicago (and, YES, we saw a Jazz show at Yoshi’s!). But, their visit was nothing like this!!! Truth be told, these family visits were part of our collective family grieving process, especially for my six siblings, in the loss of our dear parents the year before, in January and September 2005. For apparent reasons, I’d skipped my annual Christmas trip to Detroit in 2005, and therefore hadn’t seen any of my sisters or other family members in nearly 10 months. However, with this “visit”, I’d procured the best chefs in the world for the next 12 days, as none of my mom’s delicious cooking was lost on her daughters… Yeah, Boooey!!! So in planning ahead for this “home invasion”, I’d developed a very busy and exciting itinerary (sound familiar?) that included: bowling, pool, movies, amusement/theme park, two family cookouts, comedy show (for the adults), pizza party/home movies (for the kids), NASA Ames tour, AND, most importantly, a Jazz concert at Yoshi’s! And, in anticipation of (and AFTER) their arrival, I went shopping at the nearby Target, K-Mart, and Wal-Mart (I rarely shop!) and purchased towels, air mattresses, pillows, a toaster, an iron, folding chairs, and a card table set, as well as vacuumed, swept, mopped, scrubbed, and washed my place, fully prepared for any white glove tests that would surely come my way… Yes, “Chez Kenneth’s” was ready!!! During their NASA Ames tour, my folks, 11 strong, while blown away by the facility, were graciously taken in by my wonderful co-workers. I’m sure that my co-workers were shocked as well by such a large family. My two nephews, while on the Boeing-747 flight simulator, even managed to crash their jetliner. Oh well… Despite the calamity, all six nieces & nephews (and one adult) departed with treasured NASA Ames t-shirts. It so happens that Yoshi’s was presenting its annual Young Musicians Program (YMP) that same week, a benefit and fundraiser for an outreach program at the University of California, Berkeley. This year’s program features the Patrice Rushen Trio with Rodney Whitaker (bass) and Leon ‘Ndugu’ Chancler (drums) saluting the young musicians. Through the help of my good friends in high places at Yoshi’s, I arranged to reserved three tables front-and-center for the event, which really impressed my family. When asked how exactly I pulled that off, I calmly responded, “Well, I know people!” :v) The concert was outstanding!!! The program included a set of straightahead Jazz with exceptional young Jazzers from YMP, and was thoroughly enjoyed by my family. In fact, after I informed them that bassist Rodney Whitaker was a native Detroiter from the eastside (like us), they introduced themselves afterwards and chatted with him. He was very approachable and conversational, and very surprised to find native Detroiters way out here! On Day 9, the first group departed for Detroit. On Day 11, when the second group departed, my eyes began watering (or someone must have been peeling an onion), similar to when you had to stop playing with your cousins as 8-year-olds during Sunday visits because the family was leaving for home. No, I was not shedding a tear for my baby sister nor for my two nephews, but for my brother-in-law. We never had that chance to play that final one-on-one basketball game. Oh well, maybe next time… :v( On Day 12, the third group departed for the airport, and suddenly, my residence was vacant. To a person, each family member was extremely happy once they arrived at their airport; he/she could finally get some rest! And, for my part, I’d survived a “full house” and could get back to some peace and quiet… or to Wes Montgomery thumbing his Gibson L5 guitar. v:)