Wednesday, December 24, 2008

At the nutcracker

Here are the ladies, all dressed up at the SF Ballet's Nutcracker!


A few fun things to report here:

Yesterday Nimue and I took a train adventure up to San Francisco (Caltrain, then BART) to go see the Asian art museum. Since Nimue is currenly fascinated by anything Chinese, I thought this was a good idea, plus I wanted to see the current exhibit of artifacts from Afganistan. Despite predictions of rain, it was an unusually mild day up there, and both of us enjoyed the museum thoroughly. I think Nimue looked at every single object there! Pretty good staying power for a six-year-old...

Today, Nimue has been glued to the NORAD Santa tracker, watching his progress as he works his way around the globe, tracked in Google Earth. Educational and fun :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fast Little Elfy

Fast Little Elfy has been very helpful around the house today. She cleaned her sink, made her bed, cleaned her room and worked on sweeping... Maybe it's the hat!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Elf Hats

Leftover fleece from the TV room pillow project magically transformed iteself into family elf hats...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Calm Cat and other Things

Bobber has been calm the last couple of days, but this evening she ran like crazy with all claws
out, I think. If you read the tooth blog post you would know I lost a tooth.
It was surprising!

Monday, December 15, 2008


After more than two months of wiggling, Nimue's loose tooth finally popped out into her hand this afternoon as she was leaving school. I knew something was up as she began gesticulating excitedly as a group of her classmates milled around her by the classroom door; then she came running over to me with the tiny tooth pinched carefully between her fingers. The other center bottom tooth is also loose.

Before and After

The final score from the yard project:

My Dad: 3 (Oak, magnolia, and evil bushes in the front are all smaller)
Vegetation: 1 (magnolia branch nailed my dad in the nose)

All in all a satisfactory result. Thank you Daddy!!!

The oak in the back yard is no longer tangled in the power lines:

The magnolia in the front doesn't overhang the roof as badly, looks better, and has many fewer leaves to drop:

An added bonus: my mom taught Nimue how to crochet. Thank you!!!

Bright and Shiny Morning

Yesterday winter finally arrived here, in the form of a nasty driving wet rain, so we stayed inside. This morning, however, we had to venture out to go to school, so I got Nimue all bundled up in her storm gear and we headed out into the wet on our bikes. To my great surprise, it was gorgeous: though the road was wet and the horizon was engulfed by threatening gray clouds, the sky above us was full of patches of bright blue sky and poofy white cartoon clouds. As we rode to school, we enjoyed the contrast between the blue sky, the remaining brightly colored fall foliage against the dark clouds, and the bright sunshine -- and then a rainbow started to appear in front of us. By the time we made it to school, it spanned the whole sky and was about as brilliant a rainbow as I've ever seen. Gave us a wonderful sense of well-being for the morning :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Christmas Question

Rocket Science

It just makes a dad proud...

Tree carnage -- the warm-up

My dad is down here to butcher the trees that need pruning in our yard. Good recreational fun for him (and me!) After poking at some of the shrubbery with the shears as a warm-up, we got the pole pruner out, decided it was too wimpy, went to the hardware store to get the monster 14-foot one with extra-sharp teeth, and got going on the oak that was hanging over the power lines in the back yard. At that point, I had to go get Nimue from school. Much carnage ensued while my dad was left unsupervised...

The magnolia in the front requires a chain saw. Hee hee ho ho muahahahahaha! More to come.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Everyone Needs an Underpants Egg

Nimue's dresser was the pit of chaos that we attacked this week -- between having too many clothes, outgrown clothes, and a systematic pattern on her part of just stuffing things in haphazardly, the drawers were getting hard to close, and it was hard to find things. Upon starting the underwear drawer, we found this object:

Me: "What's that?"
Nim: "An egg"
Me: "Let's take it out of the drawer"
Nim: "NOOOOOO! You can't do that!!!!"
Me: "Why not?"
Nim: "It's my underpants egg!"
Me: "Underpants egg?"
Nim: "So that whenever I can't find a pair, I can just feel around until I find the egg."

Clever solution for those sad Monday mornings when one can never find the critical item.

Why kids like Thanksgiving

At least in my family...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My (current) Favorite Sandwich

This is Country Deli's "Ed's Special" -- smoked ham and Gouda on a Dutch Crunch roll. Yummy! Their chocolate chip cookies are awfully good, too... Country Deli is small, local, family-owned and operated, and completely makes up for the no-frills furnishings with good food and friendly service. They make an excellent cappuccino, too!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Enticement for Grampa

In case more encouragement is needed for Daddy/Grampa to come wield his chainsaw in December, here are some pictures of the magnolia tree. It should actually be pretty friendly, I think. Most of the branches I want to take off are in the 3-4" diameter range.

Supplies we have include an A-shaped aluminum ladder that is just barely tall enough to get on the roof (12 foot?) and a pole trimmer. Supplies needed: small chainsaw to borrow.

The tree from the front:

A closeup so one can see the number of smaller (3-4" diameter) branches in the lower part of the tree that need cleaning up:

The area around the base of the tree (also note all the smaller branches that I want to take out):

An oak hanging over the power lines in the back yard that we could mangle with the pole trimmer if we wanted some bonus fun.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

More Halloween Photos

Here is a little Halloween slideshow!

Monday, November 3, 2008

She takes after her grocer grampa

Nimue's first urge when she got home with all of her Halloween candy after trick-or-treating was to carefully sort and inventory her candy. 72 pieces all told, most of which have already been consumed...

The garage ghost

Chad, happily soldering a new battery pack for his bike light in the newly organized workbench corner of the garage

I am the Great Pumpkin

The photographer also caught a shot of me during the Halloween parade at the farm event mentioned in the previous post. I wore it to be the mystery reader in Nimue's classroom on Friday too, much to the amusement of the kids and the fright of the office ladies. Much glue, sweat, and paint went into the creation of the mask over the last couple of weeks...

Halloween fun at the local vegetable farm

I took Nimue to a Halloween festival at a nearby vegetable farm in between rainstorms on Friday. Even in the city, one can still find sweet old-fashioned events like this, including a haunted greenhouse hay bale maze, apple cider pressing, corn-husk ghost making activities, and the like. Plus, one could still buy tomatoes and sweet peppers :) Nimue spent most of the time chasing another little boy and drawing pictures in the dirt, but was sufficiently photogenic that the volunteer photographer got a number of good pictures of her.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

my recital

look at the pictuers
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Too Cool

Nimue dons 3-D glasses for a movie at the Academy of Science. The 3-D part was better than the plot, says Nimue.

All the world's a stage...

...when you're six! We visited the newly-re-opened Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park; this is the Francis Scott Key memorial, which is apparently a highly suitable venue for interpretive dance performances.

Got Glue?

Yep, that's a whole kilo of gooey glue (for Anna's Halloween project.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Halloween a week early

Nimue's school had their Halloween parade this morning, a week early, for reasons that don't entirely make sense to me. At any rate, she is a very cute witch. She waved at all the parents with a worried look on her face until she spotted me, at which point she did a most excellent happy dance.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TV Robot

Nimue designed this TV-controlled robot in great conceptual detail -- the sketch does not nearly capture it all! You'll just have to imagine it for yourself... or have Nimue demonstrate the accompanying sound effects and robot movements.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Nimue and Ma's bike adventure to Capitola

While Chad was gone on his boat trip, Nimue had a long weekend with a couple of teacher in-service days on which there was no school, so she and I headed off on the tandem to see if we could make it to the coast. We headed out from the house bright and early on Sunday morning, and headed up and over route 9. This is a roughly 3000 foot climb, which is a lot for a six-year-old, so I was armed with snacks, candy, and a reward for the top, and was fully expecting to make many, many stops and to have to really coax her to keep going. To my surprise -- and happiness -- she actually seemed to genuinely enjoy the climb, keeping both of us entertained with her silly songs (The Oompa-Loompa song from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory suffered many and varied verses in her version), observations (motorcycles struck her as "robot mice"), and nonsense jokes (I can only remember the long series of poop jokes, which don't bear repeating...). We made it up to the top with only two stops, and enjoyed a celebratory hot dog for lunch.

Refuelling finished, we headed down the back side of the ridge on a long, gorgeous, mellow descent through the dappled shade down towards the coast. All was uneventful until we had dropped a couple thousand feet into Boulder Creek, where there was a big sign that said "Road Closed -- local traffic only", with a detour pointing toward some roads that involve climbing some grades that even strong cyclists who aren't pulling family and baggage think twice about. I definitely wasn't going to take THAT detour, and started to contemplate the other extra climb and mileage that would be necessary to go around another way. That was something to be avoided if at all possible, so I talked the guy at the first barrier into letting us duck the tape to go look at the tree that was reportedly down 1/4 mile down the road. As we came around the corner, it became apparent there was definitely a big tree down -- a 130-foot fir that had snapped near its base and come down across the road, power lines, and the house across the street, and it wasn't going to be cleared any time soon.

Big tree. Hmmm. No one manning the yellow caution tape. Hmmm. Nimue and I ducked this tape too, and rode over to a couple of guys standing on the side of the road near the house. It turns out that they were the homeowner and the guy who had been renting the house. The guy who owned the house was quite a character, so we stood around chatting and commiserating about the general power of nature to throw out surprises for a few minutes, at which point he asked if we wanted him to see if the crew would let us squeeze under the tree and get through. No harm in asking, so he ran over to them and waved until they stopped their chainsaw long enough to explain. Of course, they weren't going to officially let me through, so the answer was "No, we can't let anyone through, and we're not going to be done for hours." Nimue and I started to turn around to go back up the road, when all of a sudden, the chainsaw stopped again and there was shouting to the effect of "Go! You can go now -- we're not looking..." We scurried under the log, picked our way carefully over the downed power lines (not live), and told the guys at the barrier on the other side who started to give us a hard time that we were only following instructions.

Another small descent and some rollers brought us down into Santa Cruz, where we reentered civilization. Fortunately, it's a pretty laid-back town, and drivers not only gave us lots of space, but often smiled and waved as well. There are many other interesting vehicular contraptions, both motorized and non-motorized, going by -- we saw pretty much any configuration of bicycle you can think of, a tricycle-powered hot dog stand complete with straw-thatched umbrella, and a rock climbing wall built onto the back of a truck as we passed through town.

After a few more miles, we arrived in Capitola and found the hotel. I took Nimue and the bags up first, as she claimed to need a nap, and then carefully squeezed the tandem into the elevator, hoping also to get a nap in before dinner. Not to be. When one is six, hotel rooms are exciting. By the time I had gotten the bike into the room, Nim was bouncing from bed to bed maniacally, and had pulled out her bathing suit in anticipation of going to the pool. Pool won over nap, and I was just glad there was a hot tub. After rinsing off, we took a walk to find dinner, and then finally were able to go to sleep.

Nimue's orange Halloween socks just barely visible in the picture were her reward at the top of the hill, by the way. Items out of the dollar bin at Target are still pretty exciting bribes at this point :)

We spent the next day exploring the beach and town of Capitola. I was so busy at the wedding last year that I never saw any of it then. Nimue and I had a lot of fun playing in the sand, attempting to throw and catch a frisbee (still an emerging skill for her), and exploring the shops and galleries in town. There's also quite an excellent cafe/bookstore just around the corner from where we stayed. After yet another trip to the pool, we walked over to Shadowbrook for dinner and for me, a well-deserved glass of wine.

The next morning, we set out for home. Since I like loops, we took a different route home: up Soquel-San Jose Road, along the ridge top for a few miles, and then down past Lexington reservoir, over a nasty dirt detour by the dam, and surface streets home. The first part had a bit of traffic (sort of reminded me of riding in Maine with all the dump trucks going by...), but the upper parts of the climb were again through beautiful sun-dappled redwood forest, and the descent was down a gently-sloped gorgeous road I had never been on before. We had an excellent picnic lunch by the reservoir, as I had had the foresight to pick up sandwiches and cookies at the bakery early in the morning before we left Capitola.

Upon arriving home, Nim was all excited to be home with all her toys, but even better was the phone message that had come in not five minutes before from Chad saying that they had arrived back to the marina a few hours earlier than expected. Needless to say, we dropped our bags on the floor, skipped the shower, and headed up to South San Francisco to retrieve him!

Total riding: just shy of 85 miles and about 6500 vertical feet of climbing.
Much fun was had.
Really good kid.