Tag Archives: Family

Napa Valley

When my Aunt called to wish Logan a happy birthday, we hadn’t intended to visit them. But there it was, the invitation hanging in the aether between our two telephones, “You should come out and visit, we’d love to have you.”

I’m accustomed to getting these kind of invitations from friends and family, and I find that I usually have to run them through a social interaction filter to determine if the invitation was made as a polite gesture, never intended to be accepted, or as a genuine request for a visit. It wasn’t necessary for this invitation, as my Aunt Linda is among the most sincere people I know. Also, she lives in Napa, and who doesn’t want to take a trip to wine country?

Practicising his toast

As it turned out, we didn’t have any plans for Veterans Day weekend, and we had been looking for some kind of short trip. A weekend in Sonoma County sounded like the perfect thing. Schedules were compared, plans made, websites looked at and plane tickets purchased.

Can I help you?

For the first time, Logan got his own seat on the plane.

Leaving Napa

Michael and Linda have a beautiful home in what must be one of the most beautiful places on the west coast. I can see why people want to live here. The weather is pleasant, even in November. As the vineyards turn to autumn, the gentle hills are transformed into a patchwork quilt of fall colors.

Fountains at Artesa Winery

Even the roads are picturesque.

Just one of hundreds of scenic roads in Napa Valley

We visited the Robert Sinskey winery and sampled several of their outstanding red wines. We really went to see the fish though. The winery has a pond stocked with koi near the entrance. Fish food is available from the counter, and the koi are accustomed to receiving treats to such a degree that they’re nearly domesticated.

Feeding the Koi at Robert Sinskey Vineyard

I can now say that I’ve pet a fish, an achievement so unlikely that I was unaware of it. Logan had a ball feeding the fish.

Where did all the fish go?

We also visited Train Town, a mini amusement park with a working rail line in 1/5 scale. Passengers sit in the cargo cars, and are pulled through an extensive wooded area featuring waterfalls, bridges, and stops at a tiny frontier town with a petting zoo.

Riding the tiny train at Train Town

Two full sized cabooses are open for excitable toddlers (and adults) to scamper through. In between the cabooses was, inexplicably, a passenger car outfitted with precambrian video games, most of which were in varying stages of decay.

Trying to leave the caboose

A short walk from Linda and Michaels house is Connolly Ranch, a 12 acre remnant of Napa’s agriculture heritage with a focus on teaching kids about nature and sustainable living. They weren’t open for general tours, but were kind enough to open their doors and let us wander around anyway.

Connolly Ranch in Nappa Valley

We saw a lot of critters,

Peeking in the chicken coop

took a short hike in the hills,

Hiking with Mommy

and tumbled off a hay bale once or twice.

Sitting on the hay bale pile at Connolly Ranch

Logan spent some quality time with gourds,

Picking out a squash

,sat on a saddle,

Sitting on a saddle

and spent some more time with gourds. He loves gourds.

Inspecting the pumkin

Mostly, he just loved Connolly Ranch.


Logan got to spend some time with his cousins we rarely get to see.

Check out all my ladies!

He spent enough time with them that Cameron and I were able to get away for some adult time and visit Artesa winery.

On the balcony at Artesa Vineyard

On Veteran’s day, we drove down to the veteran’s cemetery.

Stopping to let Logan run in circles at the Veteran's Cemetary

Even though it was sprinkling, the view was still breathtaking.

Nappa Valley Veteran's Cemetary

A good trip isn’t just marked by the places you visit, or the things you do. The best part about a trip is the people you visit and the ones you travel with. I couldn’t have been in better company.

Family portrait

In conclusion, here is a picture of Logan in the bath wearing a lunch pail as a hat.

When you're two, everything is a hat.

Reflections in a photograph

This is a picture of a man I’ve never met. His name is Rodney Stuart Scott. This is the shore of the Lake of the Ozarks, and the date was April 1971.

Rodney Scott
This is a picture of me taken from a cheap webcam while sitting at my cheap desk in a cheap cubicle, and it was taken sometime around 2000. It was during my “chubby” period.

Office head shot

The resemblance is not coincidental.

I like to think of myself as a pretty smart person. I believe that I display an attention to detail that is above average. Despite that, I was probably thirteen years old before I recognized an odd discrepancy in the photos of my parents wedding.

My parents had a very romantic, albeit as related to me very cold, wedding on the sandy shores of the Atlantic in or Virginia Beach. I believe it was at or near the First Landing cross at Fort Story. Regardless, a cross on the beach featured prominently in photos of the event.

Also featured prominently in the photos was an infant of perhaps six to eighteen months old.

I knew that the child was me. I had been told this several times. I was somehow cognizant of this fact, and that I was present at the wedding, but for whatever reason it never occurred to me to ask how, or why, I was present at the wedding.

The answer, of course, is obvious. I was born prior to the wedding. What I didn’t find out until that day, or did not process fully, is that my mother had been married before, and the man who is my father adopted me. This is something of a delicate subject in my family. My mother doesn’t speak of it often, and my father becomes visibly distressed when it’s brought up, despite the years that have passed.

I understand that many people who learn they are adopted, or discover unknown family members, feel compelled to search them out. I don’t really share that compulsion. I have a mild amount of curiosity, but beyond some rare internet searches I’ve never attempted to find Rodney. Last year when I uncovered a pretty reliable lead to his whereabouts, I didn’t pursue contacting him.

What do you say to a progenitor you’ve never met, know little about, and rarely thought of? I have a father, a man who chose to raise me and faced the numerous challenges of bringing me to adult hood, notwithstanding my many immature attempts to sabotage that process. I’m satisfied with the father I know. I don’t think I wouldn’t refuse to contact Rodney if the situation arose, but I have little inclination to pursue said contact.

This is not a photo of my son Logan. This is a photo of me at thirteen months old.

Escape Artist

I really shouldn’t be surprised at the resemblance between me and my son, but I find myself experiencing a certain among of dissonance when looking at the picture. A wave or a pulse of unreality. Like looking into the mirror and seeing someone else, I look at the photos of someone else and see my own reflection.

A proper hat makes a man smile

I see it in Logan, and I see it in Rodney.


The Hawkins family has a holiday tradition. Every year at Thanksgiving we gather at one of our homes and combine Thanksgiving and Christmas in a whirlwind weekend celebration that my mother calls Thanksmas.

Cameron and Tekla investigate Logan

Each year we rotate hosting duties so that everyone gets a chance to fill their house with drunk family and everyone gets an opportunity to experience the slapstick comedy of holiday travel. Due to a unique set of circumstances, we have hosted two years in a row.

Baby's First Thanksgiving
This year was Logan’s first Thanksgiving and he celebrated like all Hawkins men do, by sitting around with a glassy eyed expression, over eating, and releasing the infrequent fart or belch.

Baby and Daddy

Because I had to split my attention between infant duties and cooking, I dialed it down a bit this year, and even requested help with some of the cooking. My father helped out considerably, for which I am grateful.

Logan and Grandpa

The menu was lighter than in the past; Turkey, pulled pork, mashed potatoes, maple roasted turnips, Brussels sprouts with hazel nut butter, grilled carrots glazed with honey and balsamic vinegar, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie and pecan pie.  All made from scratch, of course.

Tenting the turkey

Despite the light menu, everyone seemed satisfied.

The remains of the meal

So I lit a fire and we had S’mores.

Fire makes so many things good
Then we discovered that a pit fire seems to give babies nasal congestion. Now he and mommy both have a cold.

Post Thanksgiving S'more roasting

Lesson learned.

Puddles greets visitors

Everyone’s left now, and we’re slowly recovering from a house full of family and cleaning the kitchen four times a day. Our house seems a little more empty, and a little more lonely. You can see the rest of the pictures, including such fan favorites as; my Nephew Nathaniel Wearing A Pirate Hat, Logan Smiling, and Aromatics I Stuffed Into The Turkey, here.

On choosing a name

Several years ago, while helping her mother and aunt take care of her Grandmother’s personal items, Cameron became interested in collecting old photos and putting together a family tree. This proved to be an ongoing project that has continued to be  rewarding, providing her with the names and faces of many past relatives. Cameron’s grandmother, Francis Maxine Logan, helped raise her during Cameron’s formative years. Maxine’s influence is unmistakable and has had a significant impact on the type of woman Cameron grew to be. Before her Grandmother passed away in December 2007, Cameron made the decision to honor her grandmother’s place and influence in her life by naming any future son after her grandmother’s maiden name. Logan was a name that appealed to Cameron on a variety of levels from simple aesthetic to a desire to venerate her grandmother’s memory and influence. This is a decision not entered into lightly and follows, quite literally, months of discussion, vetting and research.

Logan Family

Lucille, Helen, Sis, Buck, Paul, Jack, Maxine. Taken in their home town of Noel, Missouri

Since a first name was selected that would link the new baby to Cameron’s side of the family, it was decided that a middle name should be selected similarly from Ed’s side of the family. Carrie Olive Garrett was a college educated women from Boone, Iowa and Ed’s great-grandmother. It was unusual for women of the period to have such a high degree of formal education and Carrie prized scholarship, spending time with Ed’s mother, Deborah, teaching her the alphabet and how to read. It is wonderful to honor her and her efforts by linking our son to his heritage with the use of her family’s name.

Cameron with her Grandparents

Cameron, Grandma Maxine, and Grandpa John

We feel that creating a name that is a combination of surnames from both sides of our families will provide our son with a meaningful connection with our past generations. Hopefully, he will someday ask us more about our family history and we will be able to tell him how special his name is to our family. As an aside, you may find it interesting to note that “Cameron” has a Scotch Gaelic origin like “Logan” and “Edward” has an English origin like “Garrett”.We find it interesting,  but we’re huge nerds about names and word origins.

The boy’s name will be Logan Garrett Hawkins.


From a surname which was originally derived from a Scottish place name meaning “little hollow” in Scottish Gaelic.


From an English surname that is derived from the given name Gerald or Garard, both containing the Germanic “gar” element, meaning “spear”.