DanvilleSanRamon.com

Column - August 17, 2007

Diablo Views: Eating ants in the hot tub

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

What a week it was! I took a vacation from work in late July to do absolutely nothing. No packing the suitcase and rushing off for the airport this time, or loading up the car. Just leave the office, go home and - sigh - relax. For an entire week.

My daughter Zoe, who lives in San Diego, also took a week out of her busy life to slow down and come up here to visit with us. Our mutual unwinding involved lots of laughing and talking, tennis and walking, and shopping and fine dining.

We surprised Zoe with an addition to our back yard - our new hot tub, a Softtub, which we actually bought at the Fair, just like the hot tub sellers hope people will do when they set up their elaborate displays. Actually, we went to the Fair with the intention of buying a Softtub after we saw how much some friends were enjoying theirs. We also had a perfect spot for it, a little round patio at the end of a curved walkway that we'd laid out when we redid our back yard a few years ago. We'd placed a loveseat glider on it but we rarely sat out there although it has a great view of Mount Diablo. Our tub for four fits on it perfectly.

When Zoe and I arrived home from the Oakland airport on Friday night, it was close to 10 p.m. She searched the house asking, "Where's Dad?" Finally, she checked out the back yard. There sat Jim, aka Dad, in the hot tub with a drink in his hand, flanked by tiki torches he'd dug out of storage for the occasion. She was thrilled. For a young woman who leads a pretty exciting life - just this summer she's been to New York, Las Vegas, Cabo San Lucas and Les Deux in Los Angeles for a bachelorette party - she has a strong appreciation for home and hearth and being with her family.

The three of us inaugurated the hot tub with champagne toasts, and after every outing we returned to soak in the soothing water, gaze out at Mount D and enjoy being together. Jim kept posing the question, "Why do we like sitting in a big tub of hot water? What's the attraction?" He understood why we liked it after strenuous exercise, but otherwise, why not just sit in the yard to enjoy the evening air and the view? Zoe and I made feeble attempts to answer him, but we didn't really care why we enjoyed it, we just did.

Every morning we would rise when it happened naturally, then contentedly ask each other, coffee cups in hand, what we should do that day. On Thursday we went to Stanford for the Bank of the West Classic to enjoy seven hours of women's tennis. Another day, Zoe and I visited my mother in San Jose then went shopping at Santana Row. Our good friend's daughter was married Saturday night. On Sunday we went to a memorial service in the upper Haight, which is really a story for another day.

When we returned from San Francisco on Sunday evening, we were tired and hungry. We ordered a pizza, left a note on the front door to deliver it to the back yard, then went into our hot tub to soak out the tension that comes from searching for a parking place in the city. The pizza soon came, I placed it on the attached bench, and we each ate a piece, careful not to drop crumbs into the water. Awhile later, when we were ready for more, I turned and opened the box to work three more pieces free. I was stunned to see an army of black ants marching along the edge of the pizza, as though lining up at chow hall. After a careful review of the situation in the dim light, I ascertained that the ants were only along the southern rim of the pizza, leaving three out of the five remaining pieces ant-free. Probably. I passed them out and we munched away happily, determinedly ignoring the fact that our dinner might contain an ant or two.

-Dolores Fox Ciardelli can be e-mailed at editor@DanvilleWeekly.com.

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