Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What have we been up to?

Between rearranging the photo set-up on the computer (Chad) and then forgetting what the new scheme was (me), and just plain being busy this fall, we are behind in posting stuff.  Here are just a few of the things we've been up to lately:

Chad and Anna's anniversary weekend in Berkeley.  We climbed Mt. Diablo twice, as well as doing some other riding, and enjoyed a lovely meal at Chez Panisse.  Nimue and Linda had a fun weekend back in Sunnyvale.  (Photo taken by weird guy in a Superman shirt.

Too many concerts.  Here are a few selections from The Choir Who Shall Not Be Named (unnamed due to these being bootleg recordings that I made despite their clueless requests that people not record their own kids for out-of-town grandparents).

I forgot the recorder for Nim's band concert -- you get a reprieve this year :)

Nights out.  We were lucky enough to get the last three tickets at the SFJazz center when Eddie Palmieri was there at the end of November.  Most excellent.  While we were killing time between dinner and the concert, we wandered around the Civic Center area and found a nice little pedestrian area with lit up sculptures, coffee shops, and the like.

Another lit tree sculpture.  This one, named Aurora, was a burning man project that is now installed in downtown Palo Alto.  It's entertaining because you can control the color and blinking with your phone. We played with it after a California Bach Society concert we went to last weekend.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Turning off the inner Grinch

This year, getting ready for the holidays has been making me grumpy.  I'm just tired of the excessive worship at the alter of the Gods of Retail.  I'm tired of holiday decorations that started going up in stores in August.  I'm tired of crazed driver maniacs running amok in parking lots.

I'm tired listening to the g$%^%*&*#$%^@$ Christmas muzak in the grocery store while I try to navigate around someone staring slackjawed at the multi-processed non-food on the shelf, unaware of the fact that they parked a cart in such a manner as to make it impossible to pass.  I Won't be Home for Christmas if I can't make it up to the checkout line with my milk.

Or maybe I'm just tired from the complications of trying to fit dinner for everyone around the many rehearsals and concerts.

You're a Mean One, Mommy Grinch.

This morning, however, the gray storm clouds of Grinchdom have let up somehow.

Maybe it was getting the tree up and enjoying the living room by candlelight last night.

Maybe it was the nice walk in the sunshine after dropping Nimue off early for a concert yesterday, followed by peaceful half hour to ready with a yummy piece of cake and a cappuccino.

Maybe it was the fact that said concert turned out to be festive, not out-of-control, and no one nagged for money donations for the already-privileged kids of the area.

Maybe it was finally having a moment to make the year-end donations that I wanted to make.

And maybe it was finding a very cool Christmas gift for Nim on the side of the road next to someone's recycling bin.  Most satisfying.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dinner party tomorrow


Acorn-chickpea cracker with goat cheese and honey apple cider pickled bay capers

Slow-roasted lamb with Moroccan spices
Browned butter mashed potatoes
Roasted celery root and fennel with home-grown red pepper flakes
Green beans in aromatic white sauce with crispy onions

Clementine-apricot sorbet in candied clementine peel with cream and roasted bay nuts

For those of you who are coming, anticipate.  For those of you not, look forward to the next time you are in town! (Or be very, very afraid...)

If nothing else, my weird palate delighted in the components that were concocted today, largely without recipes.  Credit Nimue for occupying herself with a crochet project, aside from the occasional    "Come here, kid, and taste this" moment.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cheesy Gloop for Dinner

In the beginning, there were roasted veggies.
Then there were leftover veggies.
Then there was stuffing made of the leftover veggies plus some other leftovers and
stray piece of chicken.
Then there were leftover leftovers.
And they were frozen.
After some time, they were unearthed and thawed and GLOOPIFIED!!!!
And Ma said it was good.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Demon child

A few pictures from Halloween:

Firstly:  It is hard to photograph a wiggly demon child

Second: Front view.  She made most of the helmet herself

using a bike helmet, chicken wire, and paper mache.
I wired up the orange pulsing LED in the forehead crystal.

Third: Back View.  The tail is made of fleece yarn, which is a very satisfying soft material

Fourth:  Happy trick-or-treaters, despite Nimue's grousing that is was just WRONG to go do Halloween at someone else's house.  Their pillowcases were almost full by the end of the night.

And of course, the obligatory tentacle pot pie (eaten a couple of days early, since we weren't at home on Halloween)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Disappearing Sidewalk

You may notice some innocuous-looking white spray paint marks on the sidewalk in front of our driveway.  Or maybe not.  They've been there for almost a year.  So long that I decided that they didn't mean anything after all.

However, this afternoon, there was a knock on the door.  "We're going to tear apart the sidewalk in front of your house and pour new concrete tomorrow.  You might want to move your truck."

Of course I don't want my truck to be stuck in the driveway all weekend. I moved it down the street.  Not sure what they would have done if I hadn't been home.  Not sure why they didn't leave a notice a few days in advance.

After an hour or so, a cute little Bobcat with a jackhammer attachment on the front showed up.

It made short work of the sidewalk, in large chunks,

which it then drove down the street

and dumped in the big truck.

It was interesting to see that it really only took a couple of seconds of hammering in just the right place

to pop up a big rectangle of sidewalk

which could then be balanced on top of the arm to take to the truck.

The driver dude was really quite skilled.

Once the sidewalk was gone, on could see all the magnolia roots that were near the surface under it.  "You have anacondas here," said the driver when I came out the garage door.

I walked down the street to intercept Nimue coming home from school at that point, so that she knew to go up the neighbors' driveway and under our peach tree to get around this:

An hour later, the poor guy is still working on digging out all the anacondas.

Being a good spouse, I did send Chad a note to warn him not to try to ride his bike up the driveway in the dark on the way home from work tonight, lest he be eaten by the new hole.  

Incidentally, the treehouse provides a nice place from which to spy on the proceedings.

Monday, October 21, 2013


How does one get from this (drawn by Nim when we moved several years ago)

to this? (started by Chad over Labor Day, finished during the recent government shutdown)

Start with one bouncy kid.
(not pictured)

Add nagging by less mechanically-inclined spouse.
(also not pictured)

Throw in a holiday weekend without a trip planned.

Make many drawings.

Overload the truck with lumber.  Three times.

Make more drawings and lots of sawdust.


 Build into the night.  Utilize kid as a light-holder if needed.

Branch out into making drawings on the computer

Keep plugging away

Make friends with the screws.  Many many screws.

One could have nightmares about screws.

Take advantage of furlough during government shutdown to keep working on project.

Make more drawings.

Enjoy easy drawbridge access to the roof (gutter-cleaning only; no kids allowed there).

Use some of the leftover wood to build a bench to go over the wine storage in the atrium.

Apply sticky stain and rejoice.
(Requires hanging off the outside of the front like a monkey.  Neighbors probably think I'm nuts.)

Now all we need to do is grow the front bushes taller.

And add the weatherproof solar panels, battery, and lights.

And maybe a roof that echoes the angle of the Eichler roof. 
Or maybe not.
(It doesn't rain much here anyway.)

A fine place to enjoy an afternoon popsicle.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Alien Crab Spiders of Yum!

Nimue has been cooking out of Ghoulish Goodies again.  She's getting lots of practice learning how to clean up after herself! (I try to stay out of the way during the process, lest my head explode.)

Not A Box

You would think that by middle school, one would become too jaded to engage in imaginary play with boxes.  Not my kid...

(We had to get a new microwave after our old one suddenly died.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Volunteering for the local trails

I've been volunteering with the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District for several years now, mostly doing trail patrol with an occasional day spent working on the trails.  A couple of months ago, they needed people for a video project, including a couple of mountain bikers -- so I rode up from home to meet them at Russian Ridge on the designated day.  Sort of entertaining, though I was glad I had ridden up since there was predictably quite a bit of standing around once I got there.

The result is here, if you are interested (click to watch the video titled "Room to Breathe".  There's a brief snippet of me being semi-coherent about why I like the preserves about 8 seconds in, and I'm also the the one in the green shirt riding in front under the title about 30 seconds in.

In other volunteer news, I got my Anvil Award last weekend, for patrolling every last trail in the district.  Even though you merely needed to do all the trails eventually to qualify, I thought it would be better to do them all in one year.  Silly me.  Despite my best efforts to stay on track with a spreadsheet and marked-up maps, I fell behind schedule and a last big binge was necessary back in July while Nim was in camp (racked up more than 36,000 feet of elevation gain and many many miles in 11 days!) They gave me a cute teeny-tiny little anvil and a gift certificate to REI, which I totally wasn't expecting.
There's a good comprehensive map of all the official trails here.  Note that most of the trails are quite nice, but there are also quite a number of steep, evil, dead-end stubs heading up ridges and down canyons. Those were the ones procrastinated until the end.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Three Misadventures in School

So, three misadventures in school today:
First, our math and science teacher, Ms. Kim, told us to bring a paper bag to cover our science textbooks yesterday so we could cover them today. Easy, right? Well, that part was. But then we went to get our math textbooks. Ms. Kim didn't know they were the new ones. Now we have to get another paper bag.
Second, at the orientation day they said brunch was $2.00 and lunch was $3.00. So I brought $3.00 for lunch today. But at the orientation day they were WRONG. Brunch is $2.25 and lunch is $3.75. A very hungry kid came home today...
Third, when I was unlocking my bike, I pulled the lock through the spokes and... it completely came (or really exploded) apart into 14+ pieces. There was the main cable and all the random little lock mechanism parts. Fortunately a kid I know, Kai, and his friends were there, and they helped me get all (or at least most) of the pieces. One kid said he could help me put back to gether, then said. "Wait. I see a spring. I don't know how to do that kind of lock. I went home and discovered that part of the lock had sheared off and we think a couple pieces are missing. Mom and I have declared the lock DEAD.
Count 'em fourteen pieces!

Mariam's Kittens

Hey everyone! Guess what! Mariam had four kittens this week! So cute :)

 The one with the blue ribbon is Snowy, the black and white one is Furball II, the colorpoint one (appears white in the picture) is Minty, and the calico one (appears brown in the picture) is Spice. My friends (who named them) will get to keep the kittens. But for now we're keeping them. I think Bobber's a little jealous.

Here's Mariam during playtime. Gosh, she looks tired! Must be the consequences of being a mom. These kittens have a lot of energy!

*Total SPOOF. Fyi Mariam is spayed. Our "kittens" are really my stuffed cats Silverfish (Snowy), Kitzer (Furball II), Simon (Minty), and Calico (Spice). My friends are NOT adopting them and Bobber is NOT jealous (as far as I know).  It's still funny!*

Monday, August 19, 2013

"Happy" and "100-candle" cakes

Lest any birthday cakes feel left out, here is the simple, but happy, cake we made for Chad on his actual birthday
chocolate chocolate chocolate

and the 100-candle joint cake that I made for Chad and his friend Dave together the following weekend.

I couldn't help it once I realized that the sum of their ages this year was such a nice round number, even though the tall skinny candles in the center started to deform and create their own wind by the time we got it all lit.
coffee with chocolate frosting for Chad; lemon/white wine/olive oil for Dave

I'm done with birthday cakes for a while, but still am in the process of making some bay nut pinwheel cookies to take for the welcome lunch for the teachers at Nimue's new school tomorrow.

My, what large everything you have

Some obligatory birthday photos:

I took Nimue to the zoo the day before her birthday.  It was amusing to note that she still enjoys the statues

as much as she did when she was 3 1/2.

Now at age 11, however, there are complaints of the "Toddler Apocolypse" whenever a preschool class approaches.  (I think I managed to stifle my laughter until the teacher, who heard the comment, couldn't see us any more.)

Yet another pile o' presents.  The highlight was that the box that May Contain One or More Elephants did not indeed contain elephants,

but rather a custom-by-dad-fabricated longboard with Space Kitty on the bottom.

Yet another cake.  This time a Chocolate Volcano cake was requested.  Chocolate sponge cake filled with white chocolate mousse, covered with ganache and raspberry sauce.  Mmmm.
Happy Birthday Nim, just in time for school to start (tomorrow).