Blog Archive

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sixth Anniversary

Goodness, time has flown!  We didn't realize it was about to be our anniversary until just a few days before.  Of course, we then realized there wasn't time to plan a celebratory anything since we'd made plans with the Michael Bowers and I had decided to work.  The latter was nixed, obviously.

Whew...six years!

We've grown a lot in the past year: feeling the emotional support while studying for major career-defining exams, working through figuring out what we want the next "season" of our lives to look like and how to make it happen, and navigating this thing called parenting together (talking about what's happening in Eddie's development, anticipating his next stage, and agreeing on how to handle it).

As always, there have been disagreements, but I think we do well working together to figure out how to handle it.  And while I may think single parenting is tough, I know it isn't easy for Dave, as a parent and partner.  He doesn't get to see Eddie everyday and therefore he has to deal with me telling him what works for us (Eddie and me) in our house, and please don't mess with what works.

In what seems to have become the regular (and unfortunate) trend in our family, we didn't celebrate our anniversary at all but agreed to "do something later."  Just like we didn't celebrate either of our 30th birthdays OR passing our exams.  We have ideas on what we'd like to do for each/all of these milestones, but they require money/time/childcare/vacation from work that we just don't have right now.  And that's okay!  Someday though, I swear.

I love you, Mr. Bower, and can't wait to spend another zillion years being your crazy wife.  I hope I've been as good to you as you've been to me over the last year.

While cooking last night, I reminisced a little about our wedding reception during
which we gave these fun spoons as favors.  As you can see, they get a lot of use in our
kitchen still!  In fact, the top one is wet because I pulled it out of the pot of
vegetable stock I was making in order to take this picture.  We branded our names
 and the year on the handle of each spoon, and then wrapped each handle with a piece of
paper with some favorite recipes on it.  
The top spoon was our "trial" spoon--we quickly realized that we need to make a flat spot on the handle for the brand to make it look best.  I love this spoon the most, because the handle is adorned with all manner of full and partial brands.  
This was our wedding announcement: a bumper sticker sized magnet with some
silly pictures my dad had taken.  Originally the middle box was grey (no picture), but
then my dad found the picture you see above and suggested we use it.  I think
it's hilarious.  I posted this on Facebook last night and was overwhelmed by how
many people admitted that they still have our wedding magnet on their fridges, too!
 So what did we do six years after getting hitched?  
We took Eddie to see Madagascar 3 and we all loved it. Afterward, he "helped"
this guy play a shooting game, all while yelling "pew pew pew I shooooot!"
We spent the evening making pesto with Mike and Bernie and their friends.
Eddie and Zennie had a grand time playing with the water outside on the patio.  
I handed Baby Johnny over for just a moment so he could get some loving from his Uncle Davie. 
Our loot: 6.5 jars of "regular" basil pesto (basil, pine nuts, oil, Parmesan cheese,
and loads of fresh basil from Mike's remarkable garden), and 3 jars of basil-mint
pesto with mint from our Davis garden.
So really, just like on our wedding weekend six years ago, this day was filled with good food and family.  And who can complain about that?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Eat Dirt: Seriously

We've all heard the term 'use it or lose it' but probably don't realize just how true that is.  It applies to brain function (speech, critical thinking, balance), physical movement...and guess what: our bowels.  The average adult harbors something like 1 pound of microbial critters in our intestines.  Don't let that gross you out, though: those bacteria, protazoa, fungi, and viruses are what actually digest our food.  And we should all remind ourselves that we are literally covered head-to-toe in microbes, too.  You might be "clean" the moment you get out of the shower, but it has been shown that there is a huge "bloom" of microbes a few minutes later as they reproduce and recolonize your skin.  It's supposed to be that way.

My family has always been a supporter of eating a bit of dirt and being dirty, especially for the young.  Evolutionarily, it's only natural to be filthy.  Plus, it's fun.  

This is me in 1985, covered in soil and compost after a morning of sifting compost with my dad.  When there's dirt to play in: play. When you're tired: sleep.  I used this photo in my qualifying exam to show my committee how dedicated I am to compost!

This is me in 1984 harvesting carrots as a tot. Us kids used to brush off as much dirt as we could and then just eat--so what if you end up with a little dirt on your teeth?  

Eddie and Rhubarb enjoying some fluffy mulch in the garden.

A naked Eddie sitting in a flower box full of soil.  I guess our chickens and child enjoy dust baths!
These pictures of Eddie and our dog make me realize, also, that humans probably also benefit from steady, lifelong exposure to animal microbes, too.  As animals ourselves, we evolved with companion animals and hunted wild ones (and without modern defeathering/deboning machinery, we had to touch all those animals with our hands...without antibacterial soap!  Gasp!).

This is all to say how happy I was to see a recent opinion piece in the New York Times.  The only thing I wish it had was clarification that food from farmers markets isn't by definition "dirty," but because these venues aren't regulated the way commercial food production systems are, the produce may (or may not) be cleaned to the same standards.  The implication when shopping at farmers markets is that the consumers will take their hygiene into their own hands--as it should be, in my opinion.  Folks will inspect and wash their purchases to the extent their deem appropriate.  The freshest and ripest produce usually can't hand the sterilizing cleanings that grocery store versions undergo because they're tender skins are more prone to damage. Grocery stores sell you under ripe produce as a rule: the tougher skin and flesh not only transports more easily without damage, but it also lasts longer in the consumers' refrigerators after it is sold.  In a world used to months or years long shelf life processed foods, we have come to expect the same extended life of our produce (which is crazy!). 

With my caveat aside, I'm posting the full article here in case the link expires.  (Copyright Leach, Jeffrey D. Dirtying Up Our Diets. New York Times. June 20, 2012.)  If you're a dirt lover like me: enjoy.  If you're not: I hope you learn something.

Dirtying Up Our Diets


OVER 7,000 strong and growing, community farmers’ markets are being heralded as a panacea for what ails our sick nation. The smell of fresh, earthy goodness is the reason environmentalists approve of them, locavores can’t live without them, and the first lady has hitched her vegetable cart crusade to them. As health-giving as those bundles of mouthwatering leafy greens and crates of plump tomatoes are, the greatest social contribution of the farmers’ market may be its role as a delivery vehicle for putting dirt back into the American diet and in the process, reacquainting the human immune system with some “old friends.”
Lauren Nassef
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Increasing evidence suggests that the alarming rise in allergic and autoimmune disorders during the past few decades is at least partly attributable to our lack of exposure to microorganisms that once covered our food and us. As nature’s blanket, the potentially pathogenic and benign microorganisms associated with the dirt that once covered every aspect of our preindustrial day guaranteed a time-honored co-evolutionary process that established “normal” background levels and kept our bodies from overreacting to foreign bodies. This research suggests that reintroducing some of the organisms from the mud and water of our natural world would help avoid an overreaction of an otherwise healthy immune response that results in such chronic diseases as Type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and a host of allergic disorders.
In a world of hand sanitizer and wet wipes (not to mention double tall skinny soy vanilla lattes), we can scarcely imagine the preindustrial lifestyle that resulted in the daily intake of trillions of helpful organisms. For nearly all of human history, this began with maternal transmission of beneficial microbes during passage through the birth canal — mother to child. However, the alarming increase in the rate of Caesarean section births means a potential loss of microbiota from one generation to the next. And for most of us in the industrialized world, the microbial cleansing continues throughout life. Nature’s dirt floor has been replaced by tile; our once soiled and sooted bodies and clothes are cleaned almost daily; our muddy water is filtered and treated; our rotting and fermenting food has been chilled; and the cowshed has been neatly tucked out of sight. While these improvements in hygiene and sanitation deserve applause, they have inadvertently given rise to a set of truly human-made diseases.
While comforting to the germ-phobic public, the too-shiny produce and triple-washed and bagged leafy greens in our local grocery aisle are hardly recognized by our immune system as food. The immune system is essentially a sensory mechanism for recognizing microbial challenges from the environment. Just as your tongue and nose are used to sense suitability for consumption, your immune system has receptors for sampling the environment, rigorous mechanisms for dealing with friend or foe, and a memory. Your immune system even has the capacity to learn.
For all of human history, this learning was driven by our near-continuous exposure from birth and throughout life to organisms as diverse as mycobacteria from soil and food; helminth, or worm parasites, from just about everywhere you turned; and daily recognition and challenges from our very own bacteria. Our ability to regulate our allergic and inflammatory responses to these co-evolved companions is further compromised by imbalances in the gut microbiota from overzealous use of antibiotics (especially in early childhood) and modern dietary choices.
The suggestion that we embrace some “old friends” does not immediately imply that we are inviting more food-borne illness — quite the contrary. Setting aside for the moment the fact that we have the safest food supply in human history, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and food processing plants and farmers continue to take the blame for the tainted food that makes us ill, while our own all-American sick gut may deserve some blame as well.
While the news media and litigators have our attention focused on farm-to-table food safety and disease surveillance, the biological question of why we got sick is all but ignored. And by asking why an individual’s natural defenses failed, we insert personal responsibility into our national food safety strategy and draw attention to the much larger public health crisis, of which illness from food-borne pathogens is but a symptom of our minimally challenged and thus overreactive immune system.
As humans have evolved, so, too, have our diseases. Autoimmune disease affects an estimated 50 million people at an annual cost of more than $100 billion. And the suffering and monetary costs are sure to grow. Maybe it’s time we talk more about human ecology when we speak of the broader environmental and ecological concerns of the day. The destruction of our inner ecosystem surely deserves more attention as global populations run gut-first into the buzz saw of globalization and its microbial scrubbing diet. But more important, we should seriously consider making evolutionary biology a basic science for medicine, or making its core principles compulsory in secondary education. Currently they are not.
As we move deeper into a “postmodern” era of squeaky-clean food and hand sanitizers at every turn, we should probably hug our local farmers’ markets a little tighter. They may represent our only connection with some “old friends” we cannot afford to ignore.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Father's Day Weekend 2012

I worked on Saturday but we did get to go swimming at Arroyo Pool while my instrument flushed in the afternoon.  Dave brought a cheap Little Caesar's pizza, soda, and bread sticks combo to the pool...that stuff is so fake and cheap but oh-so-yummy on occasion.  We ate it in the car with the AC on because it was sooooooooo hot outside.  
Not sure why Picasa is adding grey bars to the bottoms of my pictures...but there you go.
Eddie and Dave in the "sooming cool."
Eddie was a sweetie and fed me some of his kettle corn while we dried off.
I've discovered that it works best for Eddie if we go to the pool for the last 1-1.5 hours because he doesn't pitch a fit when it is time to get out of the water when he sees that everyone else is also getting out.  He has a hard time being a "good listener" when we have to leave before everyone else does.  Although he'll cooperate if he knows that we have to leave in order to go to school to deal with my instrument--but only if he gets to accompany me into my building.  He loves to run through the halls and check in the appropriate offices to say hello to my professor, my lab manager, Lucas, and Garrett (the latter three almost always being around on the weekends).

That night Dave made some BBQ chicken and grilled potato "fries," which we ate with the remainder of the lemon Dijion slaw I posted earlier.  It was super hot outside so we opted to eat in the dining room.  After Eddie went to bed that night Dave and I settled in to watch Man on a Ledge, which I swear I'd seen before (I knew the plot, remembered specific scenes, etc.).  But it only came out in January so I doubt I would have gone to see it without Dave.  Weird.

Sunday morning Eddie woke up with a fever of about 100 (I did it via armpit so I usually add a degree to reflect what it'd be under his tongue or in his tush).  He usually will sleep until 8-8:30am so I suspected something was wrong when he cried for us at 7:15am.  Being a good mama and wife on Father's Day, I got up to check on him.  I was super tired since we'd been up until 1am (!!!) watching the movie the night before, so I got him a snack and some water (which he didn't touch), and put on Blue's Clues so I could doze on the couch next to him.  He was clingier than usual so I knew he didn't feel well.  At some point he asked where Daddy was and I directed him to the bedroom.  A couple of hours later, he and Dave emerged from the bedroom, where they'd snuggled up for a snooze together.  His fever was higher and he fussed about needing to go potty.  I went into the bathroom with him and it was so sad, but sooooooooo funny to see him nearly falling asleep on the pot.  I offered him a diaper since he was sick but our proud Potty Trained Boy didn't want one.  At that point we knew he needed some fever reducer medication to help him feel better so he could go about his usual activities (like eating, drinking, and peeing).  A dose of Tylenol later and he was much better.
We did a lot of this on Sunday: snuggling while watching movies.
He alternated between our laps for hours that day. Getting him to sit still for 1 minute is
rare when he's you know he's not feeling well when he'll do it for such a long time.
My plan was to make Dave a special breakfast but we scrapped that plan in favor of watching kid movies and drinking diluted Gatorade instead.  Dave kindly made a run to 7-11 to get some Redbox movies (Cars 2, Kung Fu Panda 2, and Puss in Boots).  So we spent a good part of Sunday snuggled up on the couch.

Oh man.  I remember in college spending countless weekend days snuggled up on the couch/floor watching movies with Dave.  It was sooooooo nice back then.  But this time made me remember why I don't like to lazy around anymore: lying on the couch made me want to do nothing but lie on the couch some more!  It's like a vicious cycle...all my energy dissipated.  Bleh.

He was feeling pretty good by lunchtime so we made a run to Home Depot for a few things, then Target to get Eddie some new/bigger shoes, and Costco for milk and lunch.  He picked out some pink Crocs, which is hilarious.  I'd been to Target the night before to get a swimming suit for myself and saw that the Davis store didn't have his size in blue Crocs.  Hence why we went to the Woodland store the next day because I assumed he'd want the blue ones.  His favorite colors are blue and pink...and the kiddo chose pink.  We moved the Thomas the Tank Engine Croc decoration from his old/too small shoes to the new pink ones.  They're a little big on him so they are extra adorable on him.  He also picked out some Lightning McQueen sneakers, which are also a bit big.

As we left Target I felt soooooooooooo grateful that we are able to go by him shoes whenever we need to (heck, whenever we want to).  We had to get him new shoes because his old Crocs had gotten so small all of a sudden as to give him a big blister.  I know there are so many families out there that have to trade off clothing purchases with food purchases.  Ug, I'm so glad we don't have to do that.

Poor Eddie: his medication wore off just as we entered Costco and just like THAT his temperature rose and his energy dipped.  We saw one of his classmates there and his mom asked if the boys would like to hug each other.  I explained that he had a fever so we didn't want him touching anyone...come to find out her son also had a fever the night before, after two other kiddos at preschool.  So it was going around daycare.  At least it was just a 24 hour fever.

Anyway, Eddie was upset that we couldn't go to the "sooming cool" that day so we filled up his blue kid pool and let him play with the squirters we gave to Dave for Father's Day.  Of course, they were really for Eddie but don't want to just buy him stuff all the time so we acted like it was a gift for Dadda.

Regarding Father's Day: we gave Dave a card of a crane holding up a pallet of hearts...Eddie thought it was so cool.  His gift was a set of resistance bands to strengthen his ankle (recommended to us by a physical therapist we randomly talked to at the hardware store a while ago) and those squirters.  Having a sick kid on Father's Day really emphasized to us that we are, in fact, parents.  Our kids come first for the rest of our lives!

Dave did get his special breakfast (pancakes with fake maple syrup (his favorite), bacon, and eggs) the next morning since he had to stay home from work to take care of Eddie.  Since Eddie was fever free for 24 hours as of 6pm, we got to go swimming at the Night Swim session.  Eddie LOVED that they had music on...he was a pool dancing fool!  He also loved it when I sang along to the oldies songs and spun him around in the pool.  We went to that same pool again last night and he was disappointed that there was no music!
Dave and I used the giant ladder to tie up the patio grape vines.
They slid down the shade structure pole into a giant heap during that wind
storm the week before.  Eddie decided to help.
Eddie wore his jammies all day Monday, even out to Hawaiian BBQ for lunch.
He looks like a space man (say it like in 30 Rock!) with his socks pulled up and
his giant white sneakers.  Haha.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Locked Out

While running my instrument, I always have the timer set on my phone so I know when a sample is done or when it is done reverse flushing (so I can start the next sample).

Just now, the timer went off, so I left the office and walked down toward the lab to set it up to reverse flush.

Since there have been a lot of office thefts lately, I've taken to keeping the door locked always, instead of just closing the door. And, since I've gotten locked out of the office a few times in the past, I am usually really careful to make sure I have my keys before leaving the office. They are on a lanyard so I can wear them around my neck. But they are heavy so I usually keep them in my back pocket (if I'm wearing something with pockets). BUT since I don't like to sit on my keys, I usually take them out of the pocket and set them on the desk when I'm in the office. Yes, I'm quite complicated. Normally I pat myself down while getting up to make sure my keys are on my body. But this time I didn't for some, short story long: I'm locked out.

The lab has a keypad so at least I was able to set up my instrument. On weekends there aren't usually any professors around, and they are the only folks with a universal key. Luckily, my friend shares an office with me and I know he's coming to work today (he's finishing his dissertation so he works every day).

So since I'm bored, I thought I'd blog via email on my phone. I cleared all the pictures off my phone last week (after letting Google + do auto upload and saving them to my Shutterfly account and laptop) I only have a few from the last week or so.
It was quite hot this week, so one night for dinner we simply had some slaw, raita, and reheated paratha for dinner. It was cool and delicious.
While walking to get coffee on Tuesday, I saw this squirrel all spread out on the ground in the shade. It was funny and I remember thinking, "I wish I could do's soooo hot!"

I gave my students their final exam on Thursday night. It was a two hour exam, but I gave them an extra 30 minutes because I'm nice.
There were two students who are allowed double time because of disabilities. One of them didn't even need the whole two hours...while the other student used the WHOLE extra two hours. In fact, I had to make her stop at 10pm. Gah.

Shannon (my friend who is the grader for the class) and I graded the Scantrons yesterday and we are just about done grading their essay questions in the blue books. They didn't do so well on the Scantron portion of the exam so we will work with the professor to move the distribution a little.

Last night was a "parents' night out" at Cassie's so we had all-you-can-ear sushi. It took SO long to get our food that we totally missed seeing Rock of Ages. Phooey. We went to the fabric store instead and bought the nylon strapping, heavy thread, and curved upholstery/quilting needles I need to repair the bike trailer. Eddie had a great time at Cassie's (as always). When we got home, we all had some ice cream before brushing teeth and going to bed.
Some nights it is just too hot and we're too tired to argue with Eddie about his preferred eating spots.
The night time low last night was only 62F so the house didn't cool down much, even with all the fans in every window. It was 73F in the house when we left this morning so I expect our AC has already turned on by now (it's set for 78F).  It's supposed to reach 103F today! Dave and Eddie have a bunch of indoor plans today (visiting me at work, going to Home Depot, Costco, and the tractor museum) after they playing at the park this morning. If Eddie can handle it, we'll go to the pool at 1, while my instrument flushes for 1.5 hours.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mission: Bike Everyday

Before Cassie moved, I was able to park the van at her house during the day and then bike to school.  This was tremendously helpful when Eddie was too small/young to travel in the bike trailer--he started attending her daycare at about 4.5 months.  Of course, once he was 10 months old and I began biking around town with him in the trailer, I still often drove to her house because it was less physical effort for me.  

In January 2010 I began biking to her house at least 2 days/week, as long as it wasn't raining.  I knew I needed the exercise and shouldn't be wasting all that gas.  After all, it was only a 1.75 mile ride.  It did go up and over the freeway on the overpass so it wasn't the easiest of rides, especially while towing a trailer.  

Cassie's daycare moved to downtown in early September 2011.  This new location is great because it's just steps off campus...but there's also no parking for parents.  There's 1-hour street parking (usually) for pick-ups/drop-offs but you certainly can't park there all day, unless you live there and have a permit.  So this no-free-parking was incentive for me to commit to biking everyday.  This new ride is flat, but it is 2.33 miles each direction.  So every day I get in about 5 miles of towing the bike trailer and all our stuff.  It's a pretty good workout, enough that I can definitely see that my legs are much more toned than before (and there's noticeably less cellulite dimples...woooooooo!).

Today marks the last day of finals for the 2011-2012 school year.  And I'm proud to report that we biked every single day (M-Th), with the following exceptions:
  • Each quarter I drove him to/from daycare once because I was sick and didn't want to bike (and I went back home to bed)
  • We took the bus 5 times fall quarter and 3 times winter quarter due to rain
  • Winter quarter we drove once because it was a half day and we departed town for Gualala immediately
This totals 554 miles biked this year.  That's a savings of $130 in gas alone.  Whoa. (554 miles at 17 MPG at $4/gallon)
Dave and Eddie are together on Fridays and I biked most of those days, too, just not with Eddie.  Since February they've been going to toddler gymnastics class on Friday mornings and I occasionally hitch a ride with them (the city gym is a block from campus).  I am hopeful that Dave will start riding Eddie to gymnastics in the bike trailer, too.  

Our ride takes us over the train tracks and if we're lucky (i.e., running late
either direction) then we often get stopped by a crossing train.  Obviously Eddie
LOVES it when this happens.  (Note: this picture was taken super close to the
train because it was behind the Davis Food Co-Op, not at a crossing.  We'd
stopped to get some groceries on the way home that evening.) 
Every morning I have to make sure that I pack a snack for the bike ride home.  Eddie's not a happy biker unless he can munch on something on the way.  Usually it is fruit or a baked good that I don't have to refrigerate during the day. He's lucky when I forget to pack something because then I give him half of whatever baked good treat I buy myself in the afternoon at the Coffee House! (Yes, I buy myself a drip coffee and a cookie/muffin/quick bread most afternoons. I could save money by not doing it, but I enjoy it a lot and it is really the only "me" thing I do all day.)
Sometimes he even wants a snack on the way to daycare--no matter
that we eat breakfast right before we leave AND he arrives just in
time for "breakfast" at daycare--on this particular day he wanted a carrot
"like the bunnies eat" (with the greens still attached) from the
driveway garden. Easy!
It also helps to have activities/toys/books in the trailer to keep him busy.
He was thrilled when I got him a Handy Dandy Notebook from the dollar
bin at Target, just like Steve has in Blue's Clues.  I'd be thrilled
if he'd stop drawing on the trailer seats....
I bought this trailer used on Craigslist and it sure is showing signs of use.
The red nylon strapping that holds the seat back up and makes up the
safety straps is falling apart (not the stitching but the actual strapping).
I contacted the company about getting a replacement seat with straps and
they said a) they don't have replacements and b) it is only covered for a
year under warranty.  Given that the weight limit is 100 pounds, I argued that a
person should reasonably be expected to be able to use it until their single kid
weighs 100 pounds ( 8 years?) or maybe until your kid is 50 pounds (since
you can carry two in the trailer--so like 4-5 years?).  The company still said no.
I think that's lame.  
I'm debating getting another used trailer (newer) but since we'll only be living in
Davis for another year at the most, it doesn't seem worth it.  Hopefully I can go to
the fabric store this weekend to get some replacement nylon strapping and sew it on.
Of course, driving 20 miles round trip to even just see if Joanne's sells the right
strapping and buying might cost about what a new used trailer would.
At this point two of the shoulder straps have torn off.  Eddie dislikes
the waist strap and can unbuckle it that won't work.
Of course we'll continue to bike every day.  There's no way I am going to pay $7/day for a parking permit on campus.  I did join the GoClub on campus: it gives you a free parking permit for every month of the academic year if you commit to a predominantly non-driving commute.  I haven't used even half of my permits yet. This year the unused ones can be submitted back to the parking department and you'll be entered into a $50 Davis Dollars gift card for every unused permit.  Not a bad deal!

Once we move to Gualala, I'm concerned I won't get nearly as much exercise.  Walking to work will take 5 minutes, at most. And I will have to drive Eddie 20 minutes to preschool (each way!!!!) each day.  Sigh...I think I'll have to resort to getting a gym membership and working out  there every day.  Phooey.  I seriously dislike the idea of using electricity to get my exercise.  I really wish I loved running, because that's money/electricity free.  Not that there's anywhere to run in downtown Gualala (there's a trail that is only like 0.3 miles long). Anyway, I'm glad to live in a place that allows for bike commuting.  I'll take advantage while I can!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Working Weekend

After a 6 week (!!) hiatus, my instrument is back up and running smoothly.  The recirculating chiller broke after Picnic Day and after trying to repair it myself, watching my professor break it, and then having Dave try to fix that, I finally had to send it back to PA for repair.  Now that the whole instrument cluster is working again, it means I am chained to it during all possible working hours.  Except that I will allow myself one weekend day at home doing normal "life" stuff: shopping, visiting family, cleaning, hanging out with the doggies/garden/chickens, cooking, etc. (read: all the stuff I'd rather be doing on weekends).

So this past weekend, Saturday was my day off.  We went to Livermore to visit with my parents and so my mom and I could attend Tina's baby shower.

The shower was right up my alley: everything was scientist themed!  The decorations, invitations, and one of the games used the periodic table of elements.  I think my favorite part was when the hostesses put ice cubes into our drinks, which each contained a plastic baby: you had to yell, "my water broke!" when the cube melted and released the baby into the beverage.  I can't wait until Baby Boy Porter comes along in August!!!  Everyone knows that while I love all babies, I especially love the ones that are males, born in August, and have nerdy parents who love tinkering/home improvement/cooking/dogs/gardening/eating.

I left Eddie at home with my dad and his dad...they apparently had a fantastic time working on stuff in the workshop, going on wheelbarrow rides, climbing dirt piles, etc.
The original plan was for the guys to finish building the art easel my dad
made for the little guy.  But I guess they got side tracked with regular old
"hammering and nailing" (or doweling, I guess) in the workshop instead.
My dad is quite impressed with Eddie's hammering skills.  He's going to build him a
cobbler's bench next! 

My mom and I brought Subway sandwiches back to the house for dinner and later we had pie and ice cream with Gayla.
This was the best pie I've ever made: peach, strawberry, ollalieberry. Holy jeez it was scrumptious.
3 cups of fruit, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and a touch of cinnamon/nutmeg/salt for the filling.
That night back Davis a giant tree fell down in the park.  Lots of noise, no fans, and high nighttime temperatures meant I didn't sleep much at all.  So Sunday morning I sneaked out the house to go to work before anyone else woke up.  I chugged along at work until lunchtime, when the fellas picked me up so we could go to Home Depot and Costco.  My instrument requires a 1.5 hour reverse flush/cool-down period, which is nice on the weekends because it gives me time to hang out with the guys a little.

I was deposited back at the lab to do another sample while Eddie napped in the car with Dave.  After the 34 minute instrument time, I set it up for reverse flushing/cooling and we went to the pool for an hour.  Then we came back to the lab to do one last sample.  Dave rode my bike home in order to get dinner started while Eddie and I waited around until the sample was done.  It was set up to reverse flush again...but this time my friend, Garrett, said he'd shut off the gas for me since he was working late (I texted him after 1.5 hours to remind him).
While we were at the pool/lab, Eddie's teacher, Amanda, dropped off a hive of
bees into our garden.  She and her boyfriend, Tim, are moving into an apartment this
summer and won't be able to keep their bees (obviously).
We're thrilled to host more ladies in the garden: we already have 7 hens, what's another 10,000 gals?
Dinner was delicious grilled chicken sliders made on Costco's deeeeeeeeeeeeelicious pretzel rolls (Genius!  I'm definitely going to make my own).  After Eddie was in bed and Dave had driven away (tear), I got busy doing all the ironing and laundry folding I'd neglected the rest of the weekend--while watching America's Got Talent, of course.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Crazy Wind Felled a Tree

Last night at about 11:30pm a huge pine tree fell down at the park behind our house.  We had just returned from Livermore and were in bed with the windows open, reading.  It was insanely windy (gusts reportedly up to 45 MPH).  We heard this loud cracking sound and then the power went out.  My first thought was that it was some sort of pyrotechnics, but obviously the power outage didn't make sense.  We grabbed the Maglight from my bedside table and headed into the backyard to investigate.  I told Dave I hoped the chickens were okay and he looked at me like I was crazy and then said, "Aren't you more worried about the HOUSE?"  

We didn't see any tree material in our yard so we scanned the back of the house where the electrical panel is located.  We heard more popping sounds.  The only thing we noticed was the bamboo shade over Eddie's window had fallen down on one side so we took the whole thing down.  But all the electrical lines from the pole to the house seemed intact.  We spent a long time looking at the trees around the power pole nearest the yard but again, didn't see anything out of place.  Later I'd realize that I should have noticed what I didn't see: the giant pine tree I can normally see in the park wasn't in view anymore.  Duh.  

I headed out the front door to see which, if any, of the neighbors had also lost power.  As I was walking around the back side of our cul-de-sac, I could see flashing lights and other people wandering around.  Fire trucks pulled into the neighborhood, san sirens.  I talked to a fellow neighbor from a block away, who told me that a tree in the park had fallen down onto his house and the popping we heard was electrical lines breaking or arcing.  

The tree fell mostly on the park property, but a few of the top branches did hit this man's house.  The resident was home at the time but said he was not hurt and his house didn't seem to be seriously damaged.  

The firemen (or PG & E) came with chain saws a few hours later to remove the branches from the private property, leaving the rest of the tree as you can see it in the pictures below.  I didn't sleep very well at all: the house was too warm, the fans weren't working without electricity (too bad given the heat and that I prefer to have the fan sound on while I sleep), firemen and power company workers were talking/yelling quite loudly at the park while they worked, the chain saws, and then early morning park-goers gathering around the tree talking about what happened.  

According to all the flashing digital clocks in the house this morning, the power was out until about 6:50am.  I eventually got up and went to work since I couldn't sleep anyway.  

It's interesting that this tree snapped at the base of the trunk, rather than the roots uplifting.  You can see in some of the pictures that the asphalt path is perhaps raised a little, but not enough to cause any cracking or anything.  

The first thought that came to my mind when this happened was that story about how the city of Davis laid off the entire tree maintenance crew.  Ironic, eh?

Here is some news coverage of the City of Davis and the tree crew: and CBS 13.

I was just thinking about this tree when I took the dogs on a walk on Friday.  T
his guy used to hang out at the picnic table  a lot, and show off that his
dog could run up the steep branch that you see smooshed into the ground in this
picture.  I was wondering why I don't see that man and  his dog at the park anymore.

This tree had an owl nesting box in it...I hope the birds were okay.
But I have to say, I won't miss hearing those screech owls in the
middle of the night (hopefully they'll relocate somewhere further
away from our bedroom window!).

Weekend Fun: Zoo, Pool, Nephew

Last weekend was super fun!

Friday evening we took dinner and dessert over to Mike and Bernie's and I got to meet my new little nephew, Johnny.  Boy oh boy is he precious!  I held him as much as I could, in fact I only relinquished him when he needed to nurse.

Ruby loooooooooooves her Funcle Michael!
Eddie looooooooooooooves playing with Funcle Michael...he's crazy just like Eddie.
It was pretty warm outside while we were there and as a result, Eddie's cheeks became very red.  He doesn't seem to handle the heat very well.  But it didn't stop him at all--he and Zennie played outside in the dirt, with the dogs, and with her trike until we dragged them inside for ice cream cones.  

Saturday morning we did a bunch of chores around the house.  Of course I'd made a list and we were able to check a LOT of stuff off.
I just love to do lists. I finally planted the herbs but never
got around to tying up the grape vines.
Eddie and Dave helped me cut newspaper into strips for our new worm bin.
He's oddly skilled with the scissors.
Eddie and I transferred our wormies from the Rubbermaid tote to the redwood bin my
dad made for me.  There were thousands of baby wormies in there!
Then we made our weekly trip to Costco for a late lunch and to buy some things for us and for Peggy.  Actually, Dave and I got Subway sandwiches first, which we ate in the Costco food court while Eddie ate (the toppings off of) his pizza.  When we got home, we all watched Chicken Run together, given to us by Eddie's teacher, Miss Amanda.  I hadn't see the movie in years and it was still really good.

I spent two hours that night making a triple batch of parathas for the freezer (butternut squash and turnip/parsnip/paneer).  Our kitchen smelled so dang good!  I watched a Masterpiece Classic show about Anne Frank on my laptop while I cooked.  I'll probably forever associate her story with cooking Indian food now.

We ate a leisurely breakfast on the patio Sunday morning.
Frittatas, grits, sausage, melon.
While we were eating I realized we had only a few days left to use our Sacramento Zoo Groupon so we made a last minute decision to go to the zoo that day.  I packed up some sandwiches, fruit, water bottles, and sunscreen and off we went.
Our little family.

Eddie'd only been once before and he definitely liked it more this time.
First stop: to see the nesting flamingos.

Bower boys checking out the red pandas.

My favorite, as always, were the anteaters and it think Eddie leaned toward the orangutans or the tiger.
These are the most ridiculous animals ever, I just love them!

The tiger was sleeping right next to the viewing window, so Eddie got to see the "big kitty" up close.

The Groupon included ride tickets so we went on the carousel a couple of times.  Normally there's a little train that goes through the zoo, but it was broken down this time.  We still have oodles of tickets so hopefully we can take the train next time.  
The carousel was loads of fun.  It'll be even more fun when he's tall enough to
ride alone so I can ride on my own animal next to him.
We went home to change into our swimming suits and spend an hour getting dinner ready.  The ribs went on the grill on low and I made some salad.  On a spur, decided to drive the few blocks to the pool since it was so hot.  I'm glad we drove because we saw that there was a loooooooooooong line to get into the pool (it was obviously at capacity).  So we then decided to try the pool across town.  It's in a nicer/newer/bigger home part of town where (Google maps shows) there are a lot more personal pools in backyards.  I've never experienced a wait at that pool and today was no different.  Thank goodness because it was HOT outside and Eddie really enjoyed playing in the water.  We were only there for about 1.25 hours since our ribs were on the grill, but it was a good amount of time to work up an appetite.  

Dinner was fantastic...especially because the ribs weren't done until after Eddie was in bed, meaning that us adults got to watch a show while eating them in front of the tv (we watched two episodes of New Girl).  Ahhhhh. 

Dave spent the night Sunday since he had to pick up some paint in Santa Rosa for his dad the next morning.  I woke up at about 4am to pee and because I was suddenly super warm in bed, even with the windows open.  Dave's alarm went off about an hour later and after he left I still couldn't sleep very well because of the heat.  My discomfort was explained once the sun came up: the clouds had rolled in so it was the heat and increased humidity that I didn't like.  The daytime temp dropped about 20 degrees from the weekend and it rained.  Yes, it rained in June in Davis.  It was a nice change to the normal heat we'd had earlier.  But it was a little odd that we were swimming one day and biking home in the rain the next afternoon.