Sunday, September 03, 2017

Party Party

Planning birthdays day celebrations for the younger members of the Fawcett-Zimmerman household is always a stressful endeavor as Owen's birthday is always right before the start of the school year and Nora's is always Labor Day weekend. As the child of a teacher, I'm constantly surprised that Owen's best friends regularly choose to decamp DC just days before classes in order to extract the most of their summer vacation; the fact that Nora's friends also choose to leave town on the anniversary is less surprising, but no less frustrating.

While this year we were spared the drama of the venue cancelling on us the eve of the event, we found out early on that three of Owen's closest friends were not going to be around for his actual birthday. After a little debate, we decided to move the day to a more user friendly one and celebrate Owen's birthday after the first week of school. Fortunately, Zava Zone was able to accommodate the request (and 14 of Owen's closest friends).
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Having delayed Owen's birthday a week, we couldn't really handle putting off Nora's as well (not to mention that doing so meant that we would be encroaching on the beginning of all the extracurricular activities of her friends which would probably lead to even less turnout). In the end, we settled for a few really good friends and some classmates whose presence we enjoy -- which honestly, is more than most kids get -- celebrating her a mere day after the actual event at Climb Zone (her zone of choice). Which for us is pretty impressive.
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Anyway, both kids had a great times. Both parties were viewed as successes and so ends the Fawcett-Zimmerman summer/fall party planning responsibilities.

(To see Owen's birthday pictures, click here.)
(To see Nora's birthday pictures, click here.)

Friday, September 01, 2017

Great Eight!

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Nora really came into her own at seven, or rather, it became increasingly clear to the rest of us who she is. She is one to always have a bon mot (and has just enough French to know what that means), tends towards the silly, does not like it when you go off-script, is working on becoming a better loser, still likes a good cuddle, and really likes to shake her booty. Nora developed a core group of friends at school this year but kept her old friends close. She learned how to play the viola and how to do double-dutch. She boogey boarded for the first time. Nora discovered Zelda and Youtube. She had her First Communion and saw a total solar eclipse. In between, she wrote some plays, a few books, some questionable poetry, and a lot of songs.

We don't always know what Nora is going to do or say -- which makes living with her both exciting and at times exasperating -- but we know that it's something that will usually make you stop and think, and often smile (sometimes despite yourself). Happy birthday, baby girl, now have fun stormin' the castle.

  1. "I'm not sure which is better: hunting a llama or having a llama."
  2. We go high.
  3. Sometimes you just need a disco dance party, even if it's in the bathroom.
  4. Science is fun! Baseball, is more a matter of taste.
  5. "I'll wrestle sharks tomorrow..."
  6. Yippee-Kai-Yay.
  7. "Thank you, thank you very much."
  8. "This is the most amazing experience of my entire life! I have never seen anything as amazing as the solar eclipse!"
  9. Buckethead: Two buckets; one head! 
  10. Always remember, the "Importance of Balance."

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

First Day, Part Deux

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SWS starts the school year off with a conference day, which meant that Nora started third grade the day after Owen started sixth. She's at the same school with the same group of friends though for the first time will have Owen's former teachers (they've been duly warned).

First day

Monday, August 21, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse

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"This is the most amazing experience of my entire life! I have never seen anything as amazing as the solar eclipse!" - Nora
The last total solar eclipse in the U.S. during my lifetime passed through the Pacific Northwest in 1979, and I remember when I was studying astronomy in High School learning that the next total solar eclipse in the U.S. wouldn't come around until the far off year of 2017.  In 1993 I saw a partial solar eclipse, with all the cool pinhole projections of the solar crescent from the dappled light coming through the trees. But then, I put it out of my mind for a long time. Then a couple years ago I came across the Great American Eclipse website, and decided to mark August 21, 2017 on my calendar.  I thought about moving our beach trip to Charleston, SC to see the eclipse, but we needed to wait for the school calendar to come out, and sure enough the eclipse fell on the first day of school. For such a great educational experience, I wouldn't mind taking the kids out of school, but for Owen it was going to be his first day of Middle School, and it would be really hard to miss out on the first day. For Nora though, the 21st was a conference day, so she wouldn't actually have to miss anything.  After a little hemming and hawing, and talking with Elaine, we decided that this was too great a chance to pass up, and Nora and I would drive down to South Carolina on Owen's birthday, and drive home the next day after the eclipse. We booked an AirB&B right by campus in Columbia, ordered some NASA approved eclipse glasses, and even convinced Aunt Katherine to join us on the adventure.

On Saturday morning we watched Owen open birthday presents, then hit the road for South Carolina. The drive down went smoothly, with only a little bit of traffic. In fact we got there before our condo was ready, but fortunately we were able to hang out at the pool while we waited (though we did need an extra stop at Target to pick up swim suits). We had a lovely dinner, put Nora to bed, and Katherine and I watched Game of Thrones before heading to bed ourselves.

After a nice lazy morning, we packed up and went to the University of South Carolina intramural fields across the street from our condo to pick out our viewing spot. The morning was a little cloudy, and the sun was actually behind the clouds at first contact (C1), but the clouds over us quickly cleared off for the initial partial stages of the eclipse.  We could see plenty of big clouds on the horizon, but we were cautiously optimistic that they would hold off. Things started to get really interesting about 15 minutes before totality, the quality of the light started to change, slightly dimmer with sharper shadows, almost like there was a strange filter applied to the whole world around us. The temperature began to drop too, and the wind picked up.  It was in the mid 90's before the eclipse, and by the time we reached totality it felt like the temperature was down to the 70's. The last few seconds before totality you could really feel the excitement, crickets chirping, street lights coming on, Bailey's beads and then the diamond ring came into view, people started screaming, and then all of the sudden the sky went dark, the stars came out, our eclipse glasses came off, and the corona appeared before us.

I don't think I can put the beauty of totality into words, and all the pictures I've seen fail to do it justice. It looks far bigger in the sky than I expected, and seeing the type of thing you come to expect from beautiful Hubble images with your naked eyes sends tingles of excitement down your spine. It's easy to be jaded, and expect a big event to be overhyped and underwhelming, but after being in the path of totality myself, I have to agree with Nora. I've never seen anything as amazing as the solar eclipse!

(click here for all the pictures)


Middle Schooler

Middle school!
On Owen's first day of kindergarten, there was an earthquake. Today he starts middle school and there's a solar eclipse. You might want to start planning now for high school in 2020...

Have a great year, Panthers!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

He Goes to Eleven

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Owen really came of age this year, which was a really strange year for that to happen. Just a few months after Owen's birthday, Donald Trump was elected, which drastically changed the trajectory of his father's career, and meant a demonstrable increase in the number of protests we participated in as a family. Being a fifth grader meant that Owen's curriculum this year covered, among other things, the Civil War, Reconstruction, World War II and the Civil Rights Movement, which added an interesting context to current events. We had talks about race and religion, discrimination, terrorism, hate, and all manner of uncomfortable subjects. And while at times it was really hard to have those talks, it was really interesting to hear Owen's perspective on things. It also made us really proud of the kind of man he's becoming.

Not that there weren't lighter moments this year. Owen went camping with his class in the fall, his family for Father's Day, and went to sleep-away camp with his friend Gabriel in the summer. He was the MC at a juggling show and gave the "I have a Dream" speech (well, part of it) with his class at the Lincoln Memorial. He climbed a 5.10b and learned the butterfly stroke.  He graduated from fifth grade and was promoted to DCYOP's intermediate orchestra. Owen built a computer and got a Switch. He body boarded by himself. He ate shrimp!

But despite all these changes, he's still the same Owen who's up for any adventure, always has your back, and still enjoys a good cuddle. Happy birthday, little man, we love you so much!

  1. Beware of Shadow Demons
  2. There are giants in the sky!
  3. Never approach the Yiga clan without your Mighty Bananas.
  4. Science Before Profit!
  5. Separation of church and state is fine an all, but Egyptian mythology and school mascots should get a pass.
  6. Just keep running.
  7. "Some of my best quotes I just say to myself."
  8. People don't know much about the Battle of Bladensburg and the War of 1812 -- particularly the impact of local pawn dealers on the outcome.
  9. "What I missed most was Nora."
  10. "The rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

Sunday, August 13, 2017

OBX 2017

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For our beach trip this year we returned to Pelican's Perch, the wonderful house we found in Duck last year. The weather this year was a bit unsettled, with lots of thunderstorms, but the temperatures never left the 70's, the water was consistently warm, and the scattered storms generally moved through quickly leaving us plenty of time to enjoy the beach.

We can't have a trip to the Pelican's Perch without having a tournament for the Pelican Cup, and of course Katherine brought plenty of games. The scattered storms meant there was lots of time for games in the house, but also meant that we were maximizing our ocean time when the weather was nice, so we didn't play as much corn hole this year. Nora jumped out to an early lead with a big Yahtzee win the first day, then Elaine came on strong with wins in Crappy Birthday and Tenzi's, and Owen charged ahead with an assortment of wins from Marbles to Memory, but my steady stream of wins capped off with a big Bocci game meant that I got to take home the Pelican Cup this year :-)

The big news for this trip was the completion of the Duck beach nourishment project. Beach nourishment pumps in sand from offshore to extend and protect the beach, and for the Pelican's Perch, it meant that the beach was considerably wider, and when we walked down to to the condos at Barrier Island, we could really see how much of a difference it made, as the beach there had eroded enough that all the umbrellas were packed into a very narrow strip of beach. Interestingly, beach nourishment is one of the climate change adaptation measures for sea level rise that we model in the costal properties model for the CIRA project, though the North Carolina Legislature banned the state from using sea level rise predictions for costal policies. I'm sure there's more to this story...maybe we'll find out when we come back to the Pelican's Perch next summer :-)

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(click here for all the pictures)

Monday, July 31, 2017

Bunk'd

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We tried to send Owen (with his friend Gabriel) to sleep-away camp last year, but a wealth of camping minded Quakers beat us to it, and there weren't any spaces available. This year, we were committed, so much so that Gabriel's mom and I registered the boys in January for a week in Shiloh right before we head to the beach.

This is not glamping. Shiloh is in the Shenandoah National Park and the campers spend a few nights in the camp before a two night hiking trip in the woods. They're not allowed phones, computers, junk food, or any other creature comforts. There are chores. There are bugs (though there was a mandatory lice check at drop off, so not all bugs). There might even be bears (I've been assured that they have a whole protocol for that).

We prepared Owen as much as we could, which for us meant getting a lot of gear and treating his clothes with bug spray, and for him meant rationalizing his and Nora's marathon viewing of Bunk'd. I'm not sure any of it was sufficient, as Owen looked a little dazed when we left him and Gabriel at the friendship circle, but we're still cautiously optimistic. Hopefully, on Sunday we'll pick up two boys who don't hate their parents and enjoyed the experience so much that they help us convince their sisters to go next year. We'll see...
Camp Shiloh

(To see all the pictures, click here.)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Iowa Odds & Ends

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Between Logan & Jessica's wedding, Mike & Ginny's 50th Anniversary Party, and the 4th of July, our Iowa trip was full of events this year, and already extensively blogged about ;-) There were other things that happened though: lazy days swimming in the Pond; playdates with Grace; re-plumbing the cabin AC drainboiling a coyote headloading graindesigning fountain heads; and of course, putting a new roof on the cabin. We wouldn't want anyone to think we weren't busy during our couple of weeks in Iowa this year...

Monday, July 10, 2017

A Golden Day

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Long ago, right before the start of  a new school year, Mike Zimmerman dropped off his half of a less than successful double date early, only to rejoin his companions and meet the other half of the double date's new roommate, Ginny Grady. The rest of the evening went a lot better. The pair fell in love and on August 5, 1967, Mike and Ginny got married.

Forty-nine years, eleven months and three days later (summer schedules are tough!), friends and family gathered in West Branch, IA to celebrate their union. There was a mass, readings by grandchildren, a homily by Uncle Bernie (which included some mildly embarrassing anecdotes), hymns led by siblings and nieces, and a Papal Blessing. Afterward, the throngs headed out to the pond for lunch, some reminiscing, Texans, lawn games, swimming, swings, cowgirls, cousins, a video montage, a non-trivial amount of wine, some haircuts (we probably should have rethought that order), and a lot of laughs.

It was kind of amazing. We'd been planning the day for a couple of years, and in the run-up had mostly focused on logistics. But in the moment, watching so many people that have touched Mom & Dad's life gathered in one place and celebrating, laughing and crying over everything that's come to pass in fifty years, it really was an incredible experience.

Marriage is no joke. And sticking with it for fifty years -- through medical emergencies, and job changes, and moves, and deaths, and unruly teenagers -- is not for the faint of heart. But they did it, and I'm so glad that we got to be there to witness it.

I just hope that Owen & Nora took a lot of notes for ours...

Golden

(To see all the pictures, please click here.)

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

We Love a Parade

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Our celebration of Independence Day has been varied. We done fireworks at the Capitol. We've gone to the beach. We've watched neighbors set off explosives in the street (it's a DC thing -- and Mogadishu). But this year, we decided to take part in that most Americana of 4th Celebrations: a small town parade.

Leanna had mention that while Iowa City had already had it's Fourth of July parade (ironically not on July 4th), Coraville's was the morning of the 4th. So we, along with Aunt Marian, headed to the suburbs where we stood on a curb as local politicians, meat princesses, funeral homes, Shriners and churches, threw candy, water, and oddly enough, hot-cold therapy packs at us. The kids LOVED it.

Afterwards, we headed to the pond for dinner and some fire lanterns. It was a pretty great day.

Happy Birthday, America!

(To see all the pictures, please click here).

Monday, July 03, 2017

Dearly Beloved

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We left for Iowa at 4:33 am on Friday and drove 13 hours and 50 minutes in order to make the rehearsal dinner of Allen's cousin Logan and his betrothed, Jessica, before their wedding the next day. Their's was to be the third wedding ever at the pond and the first we attended that we weren't starring in. And while I initially wasn't sure how it would feel to attend a wedding so similar to my own (except for some instances they vastly improved upon -- haystacks for seating and program fans proved to be brilliant additions, and if only we'd had the covered wagon back in 2003...), I found that merely being a witness to the formal joining of two people that love each other is itself an incredibly beautiful and moving experience. And far less stressful.

Congratulations to Logan and Jessica. Can't wait to see you back at the pond.

(To see all the wedding pictures, click here.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fourteen Years

Anniversary
The traditional gift for the fourteenth wedding anniversary is ivory; the modern gift is gold. We opted instead for dinner in the Inner Harbor at the Voltagio Brothers' Steakhouse. It tasted a lot better.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Into the Woods -- The Father's Day Edition

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For Father's Day this year, I called Marlo and asked if she wanted to go camping. This was a stroke of genius because while I am not an experienced camper (I like running water), Marlo is and so she quickly agreed (the Browns love convening with nature) and then preceded to reserve the campsites at Catoctin, plan the meals and activities and just generally organize the trip.

Again, not being such a great camper, I needed assistance in getting us ready. So Allen (being a far more experienced camper) packed all the necessary accoutrements, drove to the Browns to meet up with them, drove up to lunch and then the campsite, and then set up the tent, the hammocks Aunt Katherine had given us for Christmas, built a fire, and dinner (though he at least got to have a few beers while doing so). After dinner, the kids investigated the woods and then we competitively roasted marshmallows (Marlo won), talked about life and then crashed,

The next morning, the kids hiked in the creek while we partook of some excellent breakfast burritos a la Browns. We had talked about going climbing that morning, but owing to the heat, the mile hike to the climbing place, and the fact that due to Trump's presence at nearby Camp David we'd have to take an extensive detour to get there, we decided instead to pack up (which was mostly done by Allen, but I helped!) and then head to the Brown's pool. We stayed for a few hours, showered and then went to Katherine's for a Father's Day feast.

All in all it was an excellent Father's Day weekend, and given I outsourced most of it, surprisingly stress free!

(To see all our camping pictures, click here.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Moving on Up

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I really didn't think I would cry. Fifth grade graduation doesn't seem like it would be that big of a deal, and even though graduating means that Owen is no longer in elementary school, he wasn't at this elementary school very long -- Owen only joined SWS in third grade. So while I thought I would be proud and excited and maybe even a little verklempt, I didn't think I would cry.

I was wrong.

See, this was the first fifth grade class to ever graduate from SWS -- the school used to just be for Pre-K and kindergarten, but began adding grades when Owen started first grade. So for SWS and particularly those that fought to expand the school, this moving up ceremony was a very big deal. And while roughly half of the class of 24 been at SWS for four years or less, a bunch of the kids had been there since they were four.

The ceremony started with a processional followed by a slide-show of the kids over the year. After that the orchestra played the first of two songs. And then personal statements (and waterworks) started.

Each of the 24 kids was given one minute on the stage, to fill however they wanted. Some of them talked about how scared they were when their parents dropped them off when they were four and how now they never want to leave. Others performed songs or an interpretive dance. A few acted out scenes from their days at SWS, including one memorable one involving the tragedy of french fry falling on the ground.

Owen gave a speech, listing the people that made his time at SWS so happy and memorable. And how glad he was that he'd still get to stop by since Nora would still be there.



There was a presentation by the administration, and then the kids gave flowers to all their former teachers, received their certificates, got hugged by Ms. Wertheimer and their other teachers (Owen opted for a handshake), the orchestra performed one last time, and then they danced off the stage.

It was a really beautiful ceremony and this has been a really special class. Because it's a city-wide school and the school that it feeds into for middle-school is still evolving, the kids are all going to different places next year -- some are moving, some are switching to privates or charters, once is even being home-schooled. And when it dawned on me, that this group of kids would probably never be assembled together again, well that made me totally lose it.

Owen's going to do great in middle school. He's off to Stuart-Hobson with a bunch of other SWS students and will be rejoining a lot of his old Watkins friends and is really excited for all that entails. But SWS has been an amazing place for him -- he's learned so much and has really blossomed in its walls, and for that I'll be forever grateful... and a little verklempt.

Congratulations SWS class of 2017. And as you make your in the world remember what you learned there: Nothing Without Joy.

(To see all the moving up and last day pictures, please click here.)

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

How's the Nats bullpen this season?

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That looks about right Nora...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

STEM Fair

Owen Nats STEM Fair

Owen's last big 5th Grade project was for the STEM fair. Fortunately for Owen his desire to do a baseball related project was a perfect fit since the Nationals sponsored the STEM fair for 30 classes in DC. Fortunately for us, Owen was able to do a project that was a little more social science than hard science.

His project was on predicting attendance at Nats games. He downloaded the attendance data from all the home games in 2016 with information on date, time and opponent.  He merged that dataset with data on temperature and precipitation, and another data set with the promotion schedule. Then he created histograms looking with the number of games with attendance in different ranges color coded by month; weekday or weekend; rain or sun; hot, cold or in between; and promotions, bobbleheads, and other special games.  His big findings were that 14 out of the 15 least attended games were on weeknights in April or September, so school nights are bad for attendance. Also, the three sell outs in 2016 were Opening Day and two of the games against the Cubs.  Finally bobbleheads were a big draw, but the bobblehead game on a school night was still one of the least attended games. (And for those wondering, yes we refrained from teaching Owen how to do any regressions for this project, but he did get started with Excel ;-)

Owen placed third in his school STEM fair, and his project actually did a good job of explaining what happened next.  On a rainy school night with the Seattle Mariners in town, the Nats invited all the STEM fair winners to showcase their projects at the game, and honored the kids and teachers on the field.  As Owen could have predicted, this was a game that was destined for a small crowd, what better night could there be to give out free tickets to a bunch of young STEM fair winners and their teachers and parents ;-)

(click here for all the pictures)



Monday, May 22, 2017

California all the Way

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Back before I had children, I had a subscription to Food & Wine. I indulged in articles on artisan jams and discussions on varieties of kale and ratings of restaurants I'd never even heard of. And it was from the pages of Food & Wine that I learned of a magical place called the Russian River Valley and that to experience it properly, involved bikes. And I knew, from that moment, that more than anything I, would one day like to go there.

But then we had children and I cancelled the subscription to Food & Wine (because honestly, who has time to read articles debating competing methods of baking blueberry muffins, let alone make them). And so I enmeshed myself in pureeing baby food instead of crafting cheeseboards and comparing local school rankings in lieu of cocktails. And that was fine. Life was really quite lovely and rewarding and everything I ever really wanted and the absence of monthly foodie updates was barely felt.

Except, I still really wanted to go bike in Sonoma. Keep in mind that in the intervening years I've gone skiing in Aspen and Whistler, swam in the ocean, visited Europe and spent a lot of time in Iowa, so it's not as if I've been exactly suffering. But biking in wine country seemed like my great white whale. There was a moment when I was turning 40 that Allen and I discussed taking the trip, but then we were buying a new house and needed to sell our old one and gallivanting around Northern California seemed a little self-indulgent and irresponsible.

But this year, Allen revisited the possibility of going and I jumped at the chance. It's been a really rough year professionally for both of us, and a psychic break from the beltway seemed in order.

So Allen found a tour package, booked our reservations, contacted some friends (who offered both hospitality and some suggested tourist sites) and started buying all the recommended accessories from REI.

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Funny side note: despite the fact that I have longed dreamed of a biking vacation, I don't regularly bike and never for more than five miles. To me, the biking aspect was merely an effective way to transport myself from winery to winery, and to get as close to the banks of the Russian River as possible. That perhaps my fitness level wasn't quite up for this, never occurred to me (and if it did occur to Allen, he diplomatically refrained from vocalizing it).

So on Wednesday, we left the kids with Mom Mom and Grandpa Don and Grandpa Fawcett and Katherine and Lee (because those two really do take a village) and flew to San Francisco where we picked up our rental car and made our way slowly to Healdsburg, CA by way of the Golden Gate checked into our B&B and had a delicious meal (and a lovely Pinot Noir from the Annadel Gap) before crashing.

The next morning, we met up with our tour guide Tac, got fitted for our bikes, and headed out for Dry Creek and a 24 mile tour. Dry Creek is known for its Zinfandels due to their old vines, dry heat and field blending. At our first stop, Zichichi, Tac gave us a nice background about the region and its many appellations and explained the difference between rattle and gopher snakes all while we sampled its signature 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel.  We then headed in for a barrel tasting of some lovely 2016 Zinfandels and Petite Sirahs, which we enjoyed so much we ordered some "futures" and will get to taste it again when they ship it to us, around March 2018.

Next stop was Dry Creek Vineyard, where we talked politics with the locals (I think they felt sorry for us and gave us more generous tastings as a result). We stopped there for lunch, toured a field, and joined the wine club resulting in our purchasing a lovely Sauvingon Blanc for dinner that night, and several other bottles to be shipped (though arriving far sooner than the last vineyard). We stopped at one more winery, Long Board, so named due to its owner's obsession with surfing (and with surf movies that he plays on a loop in the tasting room). But we were both pretty hot and spent and so didn't linger very long, and so we said our good-byes to Tac, went back to our room to shower and nap, and then headed out to dinner.

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The next day we were on our own as we headed to the Russian River Valley -- which being in a valley catches the fog which makes it a cooler climate. Feeling that the 25 mile trip hadn't really challenged us (and convinced that adding an extra loop to the recommended route would only enhance my River experience) we decided to go for the 35 mile trip.

This was a mistake. The day was hotter and the bulk of the extra route was neither pretty nor fun and made for an extremely grumpy Elaine (though I was pretty excited when I actually crossed the Russian River). Finally, 25 miles into it we saw the Moshin Vineyard where they refilled our dwindling water supply, and served us some lovely Roses, Chardonnays, and the region's specialty, Pinot Noirs.

Fortified, we continued on and the rest of the ride was lovely with rolling hills, beautiful vistas, and a perfect final stop at Twomeys where we enjoyed several Pinots on their picturesque balcony, before returning our bikes, heading back to the B&B for nap time, a shower, and dinner before we crashed.

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The next morning, we grabbed a quick bite, bit our farewell to the other guests and hit the road (thankfully in car this time). Allen had planned for us to take the Pacific Coast Highway (and got some helpful suggestions of stops from my friend Laura), but first we headed to Armstrong State Park to check out the Redwoods. From there we headed to Bodega Bay for some lunch and a close up view of the Pacific. We tried to make our way to Muir Woods to compare redwoods, but the park was pretty full and the winding highway was making me nervous, so instead we headed to my friends Laura and Reed's house.

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Laura and Reed were both on the rowing team with me at NU (Laura was my stroke) and Laura was one of my favorite people in college. While she's originally from the Baltimore area, she moved to the west coast after grad school and so we went from staring in each other's eyes for an hour every morning to only seeing each other ever 8 years or so. I tried to introduce her and Reed to Megan and Nabel ever since they moved to the area (I'm convinced they would be best friends if Megan and Nabel hadn't opted for Berkeley instead of San Francisco), but this trip allowed us to finally make the introductions personally as we all gathered at the Mitic-Kelsos for dinner.

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Once we all arrived, Laura immediately took us on a tour of Mount Davidson (site of a pivotal scene I've never watched in Dirty Harry and home to the Armenian Cross) after which we enjoyed some amazing barbeque prepared by Reed, shared a birthday cake for Laura and I, and talked a lot of politics before finally crashing and heading home the next morning.

It was kind of an amazing trip -- culmination of weird dream, seeing old friends, and getting to spend several days just basking in the beauty of various micro-climates with the person you love most. And now, back to real life.

(To see all the pictures, please click here.)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Birthday! Mother's Day! Concert Days!

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This year Elaine's giant birthday / Mother's Day weekend extravaganza coincided with Nora's DCYOP concert on Saturday (Elaine's birthday) and Owen's DCYOP concert on Sunday (Mother's Day).  With so much packed into one weekend, we were a bit fortunate that aunt Katherine took Mom Mom on a trip to NYC for her birthday / Mother's Day weekend.  On Saturday the kids took a cue from Mommy and made big Happy Birthday sign to hang up for her, then created a big scavenger hunt for her presents.

Falling on a Saturday, Elaine's birthday was of course packed with kids activities.  Owen had a baseball game in the morning, then Orchestra rehearsal immediately afterwords.  Right after Owen's rehearsal was Nora's Spring concert at Eastern High School. Nora did a great job of course, and made mommy proud.  Having been spared Nora's beginner viola concert, Grandpa Fawcett and Grandpa Don joined us for Owen's concert the next day at Lisner Auditorium. Sinfonia 2 played a lovely version of Ode to Joy, and we all enjoyed hearing the older kids play some really amazing pieces.

It was an action packed, if not terribly exciting weekend for Elaine, but the real birthday celebration could wait for our bike trip in Sonoma the following weekend :-)




Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Grands Exit

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We packed a lot into Grandpa and Grandma Z's visit. There was the theater. And a celebration of democracy. And a religious rite of passage. And ramen!

And on the fourth day, there was a relaxing jaunt to the National Arboretum. For a couple of hours we took in nature's beauty (while giving the bald egrets their mandated berth) and allowed Grandpa Z to pick up some tips for the Hoover Library grounds back in West Branch. It was a lovely end to a lovely trip. Hopefully Grandpa and Grandma Z will return soon (after all, there's another march in two weeks...).