My Happening Blog

It's my happening, baby, and it freaks me out!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

The days are short, the nights are long, and we have much to report...

... which is what happens, of course, when you don't blog for four months. I'll pick up in July, when we took advantage of some of San Francisco's fun events: the JPOP festival in Japantown, where we saw some great costumes, survived some insane crowds, and did some amazing jumping; and a free concert in Stern Grove, where we heard Pupy Y Los Que Son Son and Vieux Farka Toure, though I only know this because I looked  it up on the schedule. We brought a picnic lunch and spread our blanket out up beneath the surrounding trees. Note: to be close to the stage, arrive EARLY.

We framed Asher's master work, "Herrarasaurus," which now hangs in the kitchen, and  headed down to Santa Cruz to see Grandpa Roger and Grandma Myrna, who introduced the kids to Thomas the Train in the redwoods. Thomas tugged us through the forest and then we returned to the olde fashioned station for ice cream. A good time was had by all! Plus, Ada had some time to teach grandpa some computer programming. The month also featured lots of lego building, a quick work trip to DC for Dave, and some really great kite flying and beach time.

August began with a visit from Grandma Vera and Grandpa Bob, Julie and Donovan, and then we headed off to the Lair of the Bear, where we spent a fun-filled week in a tent cabin. We rented paddle boats, enjoyed the camp, did some walking, relaxing, running, and playing in the trees. I took advantage of the pottery wheel (unfortunately, all but one of my pots exploded in the kiln. Maybe next year I'll have more luck?) and Dave took an archery lesson. The nights were filled with disco bingo, live shows, and relaxing at our site. Everyone had a great time and we hope to go back next summer.

Our new artichoke plant in the front garden produced its first artichoke and then public school started up again. Ada started third grade, and Asher started at a new preschool, which he is really liking. We had friends over, we went to the Boardwalk,  I made a shirt. We saw the SF Shakespeare production of Taming of the Shrew, which Ada performed with her camp earlier in the summer. It was fun to watch the show outside in the park.

And that brings us to the end of August and the beginning of September, when we went KAMPING. That's right. KOA Cloverdale, where "cricket concerts, bullfrog symphonies and the sound of ducks and geese welcome campers." In addition, we were greeting by this cheerful sign, which set the tone for the entire weekend. We were joined by Grandma and cousin Cyrus, who stayed in an appropriately named cabin right next to our tents. We saw a bunch of deer, a bunch of bees, a bunch of crazy runners and swingers. The bees made eating outside a bit challenging at times, but we still managed to enjoy some great meals, and an awesome pool with a view. I would definitely return. Maybe next time, we'll have time to take advantage of the putt putt golf...

With September came the beginning of Hebrew school for the kids on Sunday mornings, and our discovery of the Clement Street farmers' market, which happens at the same time just a few blocks away. So, while the kids are in class, Dave and I get a coffee, buy local organic stuff, and admire various baked goods and cheeses. Other highlights included seeing our friend Mike's band play at The Chapel, Back to School night, Al's birthday dinner, a reading by the very talented Laila Lalami, a gaggle of kid birthday parties, and our foray into the world of food service: The Halloween Carnival, for which Dave and I volunteered our time and talents. Our job: to supply food for an unspecified number of people, maybe 300? The records were hard to decipher, but we spent a good chunk of time planning and pricing a menu and figuring out how to get all the supplies we needed.

And then October arrived! And with it came an exciting trip to NYC, just me and Ada, to celebrate my good friend Meredith's son's bar mitzvah. Ada and I stayed in a flat in the West Village, were awed by the gorgeous synagogue, and the Essa bagels (my old favorites), and the MOMA, where we took turns posing with one of my favorite statues. Ada spent some time climbing rocks in Central Park and snuggling with weird creatures. We had a great time and arrived back in SF just in time to see Lenore, who was up visiting for the long weekend. The day after Lenore left, the tree in front of our house fell down for no apparent reason. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but we miss the tree very much. Ada had her birthday--a slumber party at our house with a few good friends. We ate sushi and made mosaic boxes and much fun was had. Asher had a friend over, too. While the girls were making mosaics, they were making swords out of paper... We all went out to Ada's school's big fundraiser, the walk-a-thon. Even Dave did some laps for the cause, though we could have used all that energy the following weekend when we were on duty for the Halloween Carnival food. We learned, um, a lot, and next year? We'll totally rock it. Ada and Asher had a great time hanging out at the fair as well, bouncing in the bouncy houses, winning prizes, and hanging out with friends. For Halloween itself, Ada dressed up as a pizza, Asher as Darth Maul, Dave as an olive. I myself managed to get Ada off to school with the pizza glue mostly dry... We trick-or-treated with the traditional crowd, but instead of relaxing the next day, we had friends and family over for a mega-birthday dinner party. The final excitement of October was that Ada finished Level Two swim and got to jump into the pool with all her clothing... And that brings us to November, which is just starting out. I'll leave you with some Ada and Asher pics, and the promise that Dave will be back to wrap up the year in the next blog entry.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Spring and Summer 2014

Time for the Summer Blog Post!  As Kirsten mentioned at the end of the last post, we were about to celebrate Easter and the Cherry Blossom festival.  But before that, did we mention Frozenmania?  April was all about the Disney movie Frozen.  We saw it three times, including a sing-a-long at the Castro theater, complete with a hosted parade of princesses and queens.  Ok, then there was Easter, with Easter breakfast and much hunting.  And did I mention princesses?  Yes, it was the Cherry Blossom parade.  Ada marched with all her friends, and Asher had a good time as well.  


Speaking of good times, I’ve been traveling a good deal less these days; a very good thing.  Among other things, it gives me time to do things like take Ada to ‘bring your kid to work day’ where Ada learned to love Scratch.


I’m not completely travel-free, however.  Right after the aforementioned adventures, I was sent to Vienna to run two workshops and man the booth with my cronies at the European Geosciences Union meeting which was held at the Austria Center Vienna.  My free day was spent doing research for Kirsten’s latest book, much of which happens in Vienna.  This cavorting brought me to such hallowed places as the University of Vienna department of physics and math and the Josephinium, which houses the Kurt Godel Center for Mathematical Logic (Bach wasn’t playing, but they did have Escher’s on the wall), and the amazing surprise of the trip, the Josephinium Medical Museum.  From there, my colleague Eric and I went through Sigmund Freud park to the main campus of the University where the Aula held busts of luminaries who taugh there like Doppler, Shrodinger,  Boltzmann (is it respect that put him behind the soft-drink counter?), and a Menger or two.  And speaking of respect, was this street named after Kirsten’s relative?  Vienna held many other pleasures, including a Hundertwasser power plant, frogs and pigs.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our sidewalk was being destroyed.  Solution?  Go to a nursery and plant a garden.  Somehow that’s a segue (through tea at Mother’s day and Challah at Ada’s chef of the week) to the Maker Faire, which we attended with Gus, Cyrus, Ali, and Lenore who, among other things, entered a battlebots contest and observed much Game of Drones.  We also spent some quality time at the local Rainforest Cafe.


After this, there was a series of endings and beginnings.  The endings were Ada’s last day as a second grader, and Asher’s last day with Cruz at Warm House.  The beginning was a kickoff fund raiser to rename part of the Bay Bridge after Emperor Norton which, sensibly, was held at Emperor Norton’s Boozeland.


Are we done with May yet?  Yes we are.  Onto June, which begins a seemingly endless series of outings and events.  It starts with Big Sur where there was much climbing, log walking, and treat prodding, and poking.  Then there was a Giants game for Father’s day, a fancy lunch at the Soma Streat Food Park,  Ada as Curtis in Taming of the Shrew, and Woody day at the Santa Cruz boardwalk.


Speaking of Santa Cruz, we spent a bit of time there with the junior lifeguards digging holes, playing games, staring agog at taffy, and riding rollercoasters. June ends with anniversary dinner at Cafe Jaqueline, and me hitting the road to London for Understanding Risk.  I had ½ a day free while in London, so I visited random objects at the Tate Modern, and celebrating the Festival of Love.


And that brings us to July and the last phase of this entry - our massive trip to New York.  It started with a successful and uneventful trip to Newark, where we spent the night before heading to my manager’s ancestral summer house on Indian Lake.  There we stayed in the Lake Cabin and spend much time wandering around, boating, kayaking, and eating with my team members and their pals. After a few days of that, we headed to Manhattan where we and the kids romped around, climbed Alice, cannons, and Hans, collected rocks, and watched the last game of the world cup.

It was an extravaganza to be sure, and fun as it was, Ada and Asher are happy to be back home and sliding back into a more normal summer routine.  Phew!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

January-April, 2014

First post of 2014! I know we started the year off attending the annual hangover brunch with friends. After that, well, then we took turns being sick for the rest of the month. I did manage to mostly finish my first quilt, Dave went off to a company ski trip, and we made it out to Franklin Square, where we noticed this gorgeous new mosaic.

In February, Dave went to D.C. for the launch of Global Forest Watch. The kids had their first ever sleepover at grandmas, Ada continues with piano lessons, Asher started swim lessons, and Dave and I went to the Exploratorium After Dark, where we saw a live sex show and met up with friends. We also managed to make it out to some movies, dinners, coffee dates, readings, and birthday parties, but nothing compared to the excitement of birthday-month March!

In March, both Dave and Asher had birthdays, and we celebrated until we dropped. Dave, whose birthday comes two days before Asher's started the birthday festivities with cake and a cheese mask, the latter made by the kids. We celebrated a second time with dinner at Hard Water, which was fantastic. Asher celebrated his actual birthday at home, and a few days later had a birthday dress-up party at the Children's Creativity Museum with karaoke,a motley crew of swaggering pirates, and a slew of the Bat Mans, who soon paraded throughout the museum. Afterwards, Asher chased bubbles and watched a bubble master, while Ada, Grandma, and I saw the ballet Cinderella.


But March held even more adventures: a visit to the pinball museum in Alameda and a subsequent visit to Fosters Freeze, where the kids discovered their new favorite dessert, 'worms and dirt;' Ada's school auction, held in the Masonic lodge that houses Lincoln's andirons, and rich with fine items such as this; as well as trips to the park, dinner with friends and neighborsreading at the bus stop, sharing smoothies, finding gold bug, petting Doppler, being pirates, making daisy chains, and trying to balance.

In April, Ada and Asher went crazy on the Go board (can you guess who did which side?) and Asher had a brief adventure in the soccer world with the Sharks. We were visited by David Hasselhoff, again, and again, and again, and again.

Spring break we spent in San Francisco, going to parks, the zoo,  making duct tape action figures, and taking a fun day trip to Johnson's Beach in Guerneville, where Ada took a picture of me looking glamorous and I took a glamorous picture of her. We also played some mean putt putt golf.

Tomorrow is Easter and the Cherry Blossom parade. Should have some great pictures with the next post! In the meantime, as always, here are some of Ada and Asher.

Monday, January 13, 2014

2013 - It's a wrap!

It's the end of the year! Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, beaches, and snow. Pretty much covers it for the end of 2013. We start off with flying kites at Chrissy Field and building sand castles at Stinson Beach. Next came Thanakkagiving in Thousand Oaks where there was much lounging around and cavorting. Also fishing, catching, fileting and cooking. We threw in some swimming and dancing for good measure. We got back to San Francisco in time to decant caga tio from his lair, set up the Christmas tree, celebrate Julie and Kirsten's birthdays, and hangout with the cousins and Lenore, who visited from San Diego. And then there was snow. Well, more like ice. There's been the worst drought in 150 years here - the snow pack is about 1/3 of what it is normally. In Yosemite (note Asher with light saber in lower left) it had snowed two weeks before we got there, and only a few patches of ice remained. Still, it was beautiful and the sledding was great! As was the rock climbing, and lounging around in our comfy lodge room. We closed out the year back in SF, making quilts, listening to bells, and celebrating New Years with good friends. Say goodbye to 2013 and join Ada and Asher in saying welcome 2014!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

And then it was Fall...

The days are getting shorter, but that does not mean they have not been jam-packed with adventure! September featured trips to Santa Cruz (and the beach!), Happy Hollow, home theater, and the first 20th Street street fair, where the bubble guy wowed us with his bubble skills. Dave and I ventured out to the South End Rowing Club, where we encountered this and helped our neighbor ring in her 40th. The month's biggest excitement, however, was the ridding of the diaper changing table. That's right. We were nostalgic, but not that much. Ada also started second grade, which happened in August, but the photos wound up in this batch, so I'm mentioning it here. And also, we've become regulars at Exploratorium After Dark. You should come!

October was mostly about Ada, who celebrated her birthday four times: with us, Aunt Julie and Jennifer, on her actual birthday; with grandma and John on the following Friday; with her friends on Saturday night, and then AGAIN with her friends on Sunday morning--those that made it through the night. Much fun was had by all. The birthday festivities were soon followed by Haloween. Asher was "Dark Vader" and Ada was a hot dog, which we made together. She discovered that it was difficult to trick or treat in a bun, but the bun held together, which was exciting. We spent the night with a gaggle of hardcore trick-or-treaters and collected insane amounts of candy. Dave and I also ventured out to the Castro Theater for an AMAZING showing of Grey Gardens with Peaches Christ; Ada walked many miles for her school walk-a-thon fundraiser; and I went and saw the very talented Ethel Rohan read from her new book, Goodnight Nobody.

November began with a big celebration for Asher, who graduated from preschool to a new preschool! We celebrated birthdays with friends, and that brings us to Nov 2nd, where the photo upload stops. Next post will wrap up this year! In the meantime, some photos of Ada and Asher.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Spring Into Summer, 2013

Pity the fool who waits four months before updating their blog.  This time, the fool is I.  There's a great deal to report, so let's get to it.

We start toward the end of April with a visit to the DinosauRevolution - a highly informative, and cheesy, exhibit about dinosaurs at the San Francisco zoo.  Just like Pluto's demotion from mighty planet to lowly ice dwarf, I'm having a hard time coping with this birds being dinosaurs while pterodactyls are not business.

May started with beautiful flowers in our back yard, and spooky lights and submarines at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose which we visited betwixt events around cousin Samuel's Bar Mitzvah.  Later came a visitation from Grandpa Roger and Grandma Myrna, and Mother's Day.  Keeping me busy in the middle of May was Google I/O, Google's developers conference, where I helped organize the Develop for Good Sandbox.  Among the unexpected perqs of that were watching Billy Idol rock, and encountering many weird machines.

May also kicked off a summer of making, especially for Ada.  It started with her school egg drop, and rapidly slid into the Maker Faire with its usual assortment of generous pink umbrellas, fishy looking cars, and ginormous dancing robots.  As always, it was exhausting.

Hey, this is going great - only four more events to chronicle in May!  These are, in rapid succession: Carnival, with its traditional fare of birds, bandits, BART, bookmobile, and buttocks; urban golf; cacaphony book launches; and Ada's first (but not last) crack at acting - Predictable Penguin-desu.

That's May.  In June, we flew kites (kites are fun), attended the temporary closing of the SFMOMA, and watched one of my favorite plays, Arcadia at the American Conservatory Theater.  There were birthdays with snakes (Kiara's), birthdays in bars (Greta's), birthdays at gyms (Audry's) and crabs.  And more crabs.  At Nettie's Crab Shack.

The second half of June was no less busy than the first.  It included Father's day, with a walk along the Pacific Coast Trail (that last one using the lens I got for Father's day), and lots of oysters which were victims of my introduction to shucking.  It included our 11th anniversary which we celebrated with a night at Hotel Vitale with its amazing views of the bay bridge (including its enchanting lights).  There was also Ada's next dramaturgical event, playing the part of Belladonna in Macbeth (no kidding).  She's the witch who says "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes."  Video available upon request.  Finally, we close June out with my trip to Indonesia to pitch Earth Engine as a tool to support sustainable development and deforestation monitoring.  The trip was made crazier by the fires in Sumatra that were gassing Singapore and Malaysia while I was visiting the people responsible for reporting this to the Indonesian President.

Sing hooray for a slightly less packed July.  Really, not much went on in July.  Well, there was a visit to the Discovery Museum of the Bay, a concert by Three Day Stubble, happy relaxing off-site day with my cronies at Google, and furniture making for Ada at Brightworks camp.  We spent time with our nephew Donovan, my sister Julie, and my folks, hanging around at home and visiting The Exploratorium.  Finally, we took a nice weekend up in Guerneville with our neighbors Michael, Rosanna, and Julian where we visited Armstrong Redwoods park, Johnson's beach, and Pee-Wee golf.

And hey!  It's into August - even calmer yet!  So far this month, Ada spent more time at Brightworks, this time building a human-sized maze, we had a nice birthday dinner with Kirsten's mom and  Muldoon who brought his 4000 year old seals, and we attended the first annual Anderson family reunion in Perham, Minnesota.  We started that trip in Fargo, where we had delicious and spicy fried pickles at the Old Broadway Grill (recommend turning the volume down before clicking that link).  Then we drove past a storm warning, 1.5 hours to the celebration that had already started at Zorbaz on the Lake.  Perham has a thing for turtles.  The next morning we attended the weekly turtle races, which Asher won (made it to the semi-finals, anyway - the first member of the clan to make it that far).  Much fun was had by all the cousins, hanging out at the lake, and making s'mores by the campfire.  On the return trip, we blew past Ada, Minnesota, and spent our last evening in the pirate pool at the Fargo Hilton.

Phew!  That's it!  Kirsten, Ada, Asher, and I welcome you to Summer!

Monday, April 15, 2013

It's April! And I'm about to write about January, pieced together from photographs, notes on the calendar, and what's left of my memory... here goes: January started off with a visit from Grandma Vera and Grandpa Bob and Aunt Julie. In addition to a fun visit, we managed to celebrate three traditions in the first weekend of the new year: Hanukkah (belated), "La Fête des Rois" (Three Kings' Day) with our French neighbors, and poffertjes day (well, not really a day, but a fabulous pancake) with our Texas-Dutch neighbors. Hurray for living in a city with great people from all over the world! We also celebrated my dad's 70th birthday at the Palace Hotel (oh la la) and various other birthdays of friends, some 2 some 6, at Yerba Buena bowling alley and MyGym and that traditional favorite, Pump it Up.

Other highlights included a trip down to Happy Hollow is San Jose, which Ada decided she liked EVEN more than Fairyland, glass-painting with pals, and a visit from Devon, which brings us to February, which was no less full of excitement.


The highlight of February was my mom's big 70 party, which she had at Bourbon and Branch. Lenore, Ali, Cyrus, and Gus came up, my cousin Carl and his family flew in, and dozens of other folks joined the weekend-long festivities that ended with the gifting of the biggest bottle of champagne ever. Dave left for the East Coast right after, where he was organizing a Google/Yale technology workshop and I started a contract tech writing job with the Wikimedia Foundation. We read some stories, and more stories, wrote some Valentine post-it notes, and enjoyed the light.


March was another birthday-filled month, first Dave, who rang in his big day with me at Water Bar, where the sea food was great and the view of the Bay Lights even more spectacular. Asher celebrated his big 3.0 two days later with a pirate, chocolate pirate cupcakes that he and Ada helped make, and some crazy balloon twisting and battles. The month ended with a marathon road trip to Palm Springs via Big Sur, which I'll get to as soon as I've shared the photo of the baby bird that nearly wound up inside our house. For weeks, the baby bird and its parents have been living above our front door--you may notice the bird poop if you look closely at the background. The bird's first flight took it to the wrong side of our gate, but all worked out well in the end, and I expect that the baby bird will return next year when it's grown up, so it can continue the cycle of nesting, pooping, and bird birth that's been transpiring over our door for the past three years.


This year, spring break for Ada, Asher, Cyrus, and Gus coincided for the first time, and we decided to celebrate by meeting up in Palm Springs and actually drinking the insanely large bottle of champagne we'd given my mom for her birthday. We started the adventure with two nights in Big Sur at the Ripplewood resort, where the five of us (my mom drove down with us) hung out by the Big Sur River making rock houses and stick boats. Here is a rare shot of the four of us in front of our cabin. We ate lunch ocean-side at Nepenthe, hiked to the water fall at Pfeiffer State Park, hung out at night making s'mores, and then Dave and I snuck away to Esalen to enjoy the hot springs late night. Big Sur was as relaxing and mellow as Palm Springs was insane. But then, we should have expected as much the moment we read about the 'gondolas' at our 'family-friendly' resort.

So, yes. We left the quiet of the redwoods and emerged twelve hours later (the 58 is lovely, and skirts the L.A. traffic, but is not the quickest way to get to Palm Springs) to this: JW Marriot Desert Springs Resort and Spa. Cocktails were delivered poolside, Gus gave some massages, Asher refused to get wet, or to ride the hotel's most notable attraction: the gondola, which carted hotel guests around the hotel's vast water features. We saw lots of swans, and golf courses. We even played golf ourselves, of the putt putt variety, where we made it through three holes before losing five of six golf balls to various water features. The kids enjoyed hanging out with Grandma and John, who joined us later. And, of course, we drank the champagne.

We broke up the drive back to San Francisco with a night in Solveng, at the Andersen's Split Pea Motel, which I chose because it is walking distance from Andersen's Split Pea restaurant, which remains one of my favorite places to stop for a roadtrip meal (split pea soup, of course!) We spent some time wandering around Solveng and flying airplanes and also checked out the "famous Danish pancakes" at Paula's pancake house.

We made it back to San Francisco just in time to prepare for our first family seder, where we were joined by my mom, Aunt Julie, Ada's friend Claire, and Kirsten, Dave, Max and Zeke, who were visiting from NYC. After the meal, the kids put on an amazing show, which would likely still be going on had we not started applauding. The next day, we celebrated Easter with an indoor egg hunt, thanks to some rain, and some additional indoor antics. The day's highlight was a trip to the new Exploratorium. The new location on the piers is fantastic, and the space now has room for many exhibits we'd never seen before, including a camera that photographed dripping water:


That brings us to April, which is nearly half over already! But so far has been full of fun and impromptu playdates with our neighbors; Barbie fashion, created by Dave and Ada; baby spiders, which we found on the fence in front of our house;  a tremendous dragon fly, and a trip to the Symphony. Oh, and photos of Ada and Asher, of course.