Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tooth progression

5/10/2009 6:40 pm -- Tooth can be pushed to protrude outside of lower lip.


5/17/2009 10:57 am -- Fingernail can be hooked onto back of tooth.


5/19/2009 5:26 pm -- Tooth comes out! Excitement ensues.


Nimue has decided that she wants to keep this one; the tooth fairy is out of luck.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Learning Judgment at the Park


Nimue is full of curiousity and ideas. This leads to plans :)

I'm happy to report that while she sometimes dreams up things that may be unwise, she will check out the situation before actually attempting said insanity. In the case of the picture above, she climbed up the slide with her scooter, looked at it, and went down the stairs instead. Common sense coming in??? Amazing.

On the other hand, when consequences don't seem dire, she will fully execute her plans:
On our walk back from downtown yesterday, we discovered that the big water structure at Las Palmas Park was on. A source of considerable joy, since the only time it is on is when someone is willing to pay $60/hour to have it turned on for an event. Many, many kids of all ages were playing on it, and Nim jumped right in after pondering whether or not it was worth it to have to walk home wet (this choice didn't take long). Not a problem for me, as I had the latest edition of the Economist with me, so I settled under a tree to read. I glanced up occasionally to see her having fun, wished I had the camera, and then fell back into my magazine. I glanced up again, and Nimue was making mud structures on the edge. Back to reading. On the next glance, she was using the front of her soaking wet long skirt as a bag to haul more sand over to the construction zone.

Darn. Really wished I had the camera then.

She noticed me watching her and got a really guilty expression on her face until I pointed out that it was fine as long as she didn't complain on the walk home. Back to the engineering problem for her and the magazine for me.

The next time I looked up, she had buried her wet self in the sand pile. Good old-fashioned messy play. Repeat the process several times. A fine and unexpected ending to Friday afternoon.

Around 5:15, it was time to leave, so she brushed off her feet, put on her shoes, and we headed home. On the way back, we noticed a pack of long-haired middle-school aged boys out raucously riding their bikes, generally acting like groups of boys that age. Nimue looked up at me and asked "Are they orphans? They look like they're orphans. They look really wild."

Funny that young teenagers out enjoying themselves on a sunny afternoon struck her as a pack of feral orphans on the streets of Sunnyvale.

I looked down at the bedraggled, wet, stringy-haired sand monster next to me. "Then do you look like an orphan?" I asked.

"No, I have a parent with me. I'm tame."

Sadly the image of the bedraggled, wet, stringy-haired sand monster is left to the reader's imagination, as upon arriving home, she ran around to the back yard and stripped off all of her clothes and began cavorting around in her birthday suit before I got there. Tame. heh.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Has Tamara made it up the hill yet?

Some bicycle musings this morning...

I woke up with the cold that Chad and Nimue have had over the last several days. Nose completely plugged up. Blech. Energy-wise, I didn't feel too bad, though, so decided to head over and at least look at Montebello Road, a local evil climb. Plus I wanted to check out a new bike bridge over the freeway that just opened.

Now I know you all are thinking this is going to turn into another story of complete and utter cycling misery, but for once, optimism paid off -- once I got riding and my internal humours started to circulate, my nose and head miraculously cleared up and I started to feel pretty good.

[Insert evil traffic here.] Argh.

Why is it that car drivers consistently act like they fail to see cyclists? Yesterday if was a car that turned right into the street in front of me as I cruised along at 20+ mph, today it was a pair of cars that failed to yield to oncoming traffic (i.e. me) when making their left turns. Fortunately, over the years, I've developed a fair amount of paranoia and assume that all cars will make the worst possible moves at the worst possible times, so can usually navigate around such woes reasonably gracefully. I was reminded of a book I recently picked up at the library, "The Art of Urban Cycling" by Robert Hurst, which is about the best description of the challenges faced and skills needed by those of us who, on two wheels, attempt to share the streets with the combination of clueless/malicious/absentminded/impatient/distracted drivers that exist in populated areas. It's an entertaining and interesting read if you happen to run across it.

Anyway, eventually I made it past the busy spot and over to the new Mary Avenue bike bridge -- a very visually striking suspension bridge that provides a useful pedestrian and bike crossing over 280. Despite the fact that the on/off sections of sidewalk are more designed for peds than bikes (in one direction, the cyclist is spat out on the wrong side of the road, as is often the case with these things), I'd still give it a big thumbs-up, because it's so useful to have another bike-friendly freeway crossing. Plus it just looks cool :)

Over to the hill. Montebello has long been one of my nemesis hills. The first mile and a half averages 9% grade with some sections steeper, then it mellows out for a mile or two -- just long enough to lull one into a false sense of complacency that it isn't really that bad -- and then it gets steeper again for the last 2 miles or so. The first time I rode it, cycling buddies who shall remain nameless gave me a misimpression of where the top was. "When it gets steeper and you see grape vines, you're almost there." Yeah, right. That describes the entire evil last two miles.

But, again, this is not a tale of woe. Over the last couple of years, I've either gotten stronger, broken my mental block, or both, as it now often seems to be a nice invigorating climb with stunning views and few cars, close to home. There were lots of wildflowers today, and even at 9am it was pleasantly warm. My nose stayed clear the whole way up.

So why the question about Tamara?

At about the point where the second steep section of the hill began, Tamara's name was spray-painted on the road. I thought "Hey, that's kind of nice, someone was encouraging their friend up the road. I wonder if there was a race?" A bit later, what looked like a last name followed, and then a bit later "WILL". I kept riding, wondering how many other names would show up -- these things help pass the time on a long climb. However, instead of another name, the next word that followed was "you". Ah, now I got it -- some guy out there with a girlfriend named Tamara is very very cool. (Maybe I just have a soft spot in my heart for on-the-bike-hill marriage proposals.) Now I was motivated to climb hard to see how the question ended, and felt like I was almost rooting for Tamara. Funny. Right at the start of the last little pitch, the rest of the question did indeed follow. The paint looked fresh enough that I'm not sure if the happy couple has done their ride, or if preparations had just been made. I wondered all the way down, especially as I looked at the group of others heading up the hill. I also wonder if Tamara's nameless other also realizes how many smiles were brought to other random cyclists' faces as they climbed that last steeper section of the challenging hill. Pretty cool, I say.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sinister Bunnies

In the wee hours of the morning, I heard the frantic cry "Mom! Mommmmmm! MOMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!" emanate from Nimue's bedroom. I sleepily met her as she ran toward our bedroom to hear the tale of two scary things in her room: "Bobber is talking, and the bunny's head on my blankie got bigger." I staggered over to her bedroom, mumbled something about the cat meowing, and checked out the blankie situation. As far as I can tell, she must've been dreamt the following conversation:
Cat: "Hi!"
Nim: "You can talk?????"
Cat: "Of course I can."
After dreaming this, she rolled over and snuggled what she thought was her blankie, but was actually Ginger. As you can see from the picture, Ginger's head is approximately the same color as the blankie, but a little bigger, and she interpreted this as the blankie head having freakily grown in the middle of the night. Fortunately, after I chased the cat out of her room and pointed out that she had mixed up the bunny heads, she went right back to sleep.

Despite my efforts to stay at least partially asleep through this encounter (managed to do it all without opening my eyes), by the time I got back to bed I got the giggles. The hard giggles. I kept imagining the sinister bunny blankie inflating its head, growing fangs, and floating around the room spookily uttering "Wooooooooo". (This is oddly funny to the half-asleep brain at 3 am, trust me.) Tears rolled out my eyes, and despite the fact that I tried not to wake up poor Chad too, my half-stifled snorts and convulsions of laughter led him to stir long enough to ask what was wrong. Had to admit I merely had the giggles. Ooops.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Very Soggy 2009 Delta Century

The first Sunday in May offers two (relatively) local organized century rides: Grizzly Peak -- a delightful ride known for its good food -- winds up and around the East Bay Hills out of Moraga, and the Delta Century, a flat ride that goes from Lodi along roads on the levees through the Sacramento River Delta. For years, I've been a devotee of Grizzly Peak due to its good hills and excellent gourmet post-ride feed, but the last couple of years have defected to the more kid-friendly flat Delta Century, as we've proved that the whole family can be happy with Nimue on the tandem. Plus, the ride offers interesting river scenery, a drawbridge, and a ferry, none of which we ride on closer to home.

Last year, Nimue rode on the tandem with me on the gorgeous sunny day and completed the ride with quite a bit of coaxing and coddling along the way. This year, the forecast was for sprinkles, so we made sure to pack our rain gear, and I did a sell job all week about how much fun it was to adventure on the bike in the rain.

I thought it would just be a few sprinkles. Alas, I am often overly optimistic (i.e. flat-out WRONG) about these things. Shortly after starting the ride, it became clear that the mist bank was rather more liquid than mist. Fortunately it was warm and Nim was encased in waterproof layers. By the first rest stop, any body parts not encased in Goretex or the like were soaked (my top half and Chad's whole person).

Despite the expression in the photo above, Nimue was amazingly cheery about the whole situation. She inhaled vasty numbers of muffins at the rest stop and was ready to enthusiastically charge on ahead. Last year's constant coaxing and coddling activities on the part of the parents were not necessary -- she happily rode 100 km/62 miles on the back of the tandem mostly in the rain with nary a complaint! She looked a whole lot more enthusiastic than most of the wet grim adults we saw on the road with us. What a good kid :)
(maybe Ma's brainwashing is remarkably effective too)

Some of Chad's work buddies, who also signed up for the ride, will probably never trust our cycling event advice again...

An added twist was that Chad wanted in on the tandem action, so he came up with the scheme of bringing an extra stem for my bike so that we could swap adult positions along the way -- we started with Chad + Nimue on the tandem and me on my bike, and at one of the rest stops, he swapped stems and made seat adjustments and we continued on our merry drenched way with me + Nim on the tandem and him on my bike. There are still a few tweaks to make to this system, but feasibility of doing this for long rides was proved. Quite useful for future weekend family bike trips (like the as-of-yet not fully planned one for Memorial Day weekend).

Crazo happy Nim:

Even with all the weather exposure earlier in the day, Nimue had great fun sticking her head near the window to feel the wind on the way home, before falling into a long nap that she later denied ever happened.