March 2017
S M T W T F S
« Dec    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Archives

  • 2016
  • 2015
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010
  • 2009
  • 2008
  • 2007
  • 2006

Categories

  • Film
  • Journals & Blogs
  • Places
  • Reviews

House Band and House Fireworks

One nice thing that happened at our open house last week is that my friend John came down from his place on the upper peninsula with his wife Mary. John was one of the guys I played Magic with every Monday until the regular host moved to Texas. The game moved to a new venue, but also a new day – Wednesday – which is much less convenient for me, and John got a new job closer to home so coming down here to play on a weekend wasn’t convenient for him, either. So it’s probably been a couple of years since I saw him, and I hadn’t met his wife before.

He’d also invited us to his Fourth of July party, and so I was inspired after seeing him again for us to go. So we did!

(Aside: John is also one of my regular sparring partners at Ascension on iOS.)

The party was in a way their own open house, and in addition to seeing their home, his son C and his rock band Time Heist (named after the Doctor Who episode) played a couple of sets in their back yard. They’re quite good! C usually played lead guitar but switched with the bassist sometimes, and they’re a rare band where the drummer is also the vocalist. Their first set was a tad wonky because the guitar was mixed down below the bass and drums, but it seemed to get balanced out for their second set.

After a comment I made to John, they did a rendition of The Who‘s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, which was quite good (even if it did perhaps show the limitations of the drummer also doing the vocals, as both parts are pretty demanding), and C did a chunk of the synthesizer part on guitar, which was nifty. Afterwards I reflected to myself that we’ve gone in less than 50 years from the song amazing everyone in rock music with its technical prowess to one that a high school trio can credibly cover in a back yard. And that’s why we’ll never see another .400 hitter in baseball. (Okay, that sentence only makes sense if you read the book on the other end of that link, Stephen Jay Gould’s Full House.)

(Sigh… why did I not take up guitar or piano in earnest when I was a kid? One of many things I regret not having had the discipline and/or interest to pursue when I was young.)

Anyway, a couple of other guys from the old Magic group came by, too, and now I have a couple more people to invite to next year’s open house.

The food was good, and John mixed some tasty cocktails as well. We hung out with everyone, and towards sunset came the other reason to stay: John lives in one of the few cities around here where it’s legal to buy and shoot off your own fireworks. So he set off a bunch in the street in front of hid driveway, and sure enough, two police cruisers drove by during the show and didn’t even slow down. A pretty nice display all in all.

We finally headed home an hour or so after sunset, and had a great time. I’m definitely glad we made the time to head up, and hopefully we’ll see them again before another year – or three – has passed.

Open House 2015

Yesterday we held our fifth annual open house, our annual summer party which started as a housewarming but which we enjoy enough to throw every year. It’s a fair bit of work to set up, if only to clean the house, buy the food, and throw the cats in a room (so we can leave the doors open), but at the end it feels worth it.

This year I made margaritas again, but instead of Debbi making sangria I made a gin punch called mother’s ruin, which we discovered at a cocktail party a friend threw last winter. I made a triple batch of what’s in the recipe, and we went through almost all of it. Debbi used a triple slow cooker we received as a wedding gift to make dips, and also prepared meatballs for sandwiches. So we had plenty of food – especially considering that a few folks always bring things to munch on as well. (It’s gonna take a while to go through the enormous box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates someone brought!)

I doubt we’ll ever get the turnout we got for our first open house, but we probably got 40ish adults plus 8-12 kids during the course of the day, including a few folks who hadn’t been before, which meant showing off the house to them, which is, frankly, one of the fun parts, since we love our house! Of course it’s also why we had to do all the cleaning!

The biggest downside to the open house is that so many people show up that I don’t get to talk with everyone, and there were a few people who I think showed up and then headed out (maybe several hours later) without my saying more than ‘hello’ to them. If anyone reading this wanted to spend more time specifically talking to me or Debbi, in the future your best bet is either to show up early or stay late! A couple of friends and their families showed up right around start time so we were able to chat with them at some length, and then our neighbors and our friend Paul stayed late. If you want to meet our cats, staying late is also the way to do that, as in the evening we closed the doors and let them out of their room.

One of the fun things about the party is all the kids who come over, putting our back yard to use it doesn’t often see, and also getting a bunch of our friends’ kids together to play. As usual bubble blowing was a big hit with the kids. We should have kids over more often just to have them stomp down the uneven soil in the yard!

Once again we were blessed with nice weather, a little warm at the peak of things, but not the 90+ degrees it had been a few days ago.

And then today we remembered why we always hold the open house on Saturday rather than Sunday: It’s gonna take us a few days to finish putting the house completely back together.

It was worth it, though!

Newton’s Last Days

It was about a week ago that we decided to take Newton in to the vet because of his increasing meowing, apparent trouble sleeping, and starting to pee in more and more places. While I thought we might do some blood tests and see what was up, I also realized there was a good chance that we would just decide that that was it for him (as it turned out to be). I made the appointment for Sunday because our vet was booked on Saturday and I had another appointment on Friday.

We actually had quite a busy week, and I admit that some of it was wanting to be distracted so I didn’t sit around moping about the impending vet appointment. I felt a little guilty that I didn’t want to spend as much time as possible with him, but honestly he was becoming an increasingly grouchy kitty and he really did not interact a lot anymore.

Last Sunday – before I made the appointment – we had gone to the birthday party of our friends’ four-year-old twins, and while there Debbi scheduled a couple of other dates with their parents and some other friends. So Wednesday we met four of them at Flea Street Cafe, in a part of Menlo Park we’d never been to, for dinner and drinks. It’s a pretty good place, rather on the pricy side, and a little ritzy for our usual dinner haunts, but we might go back with other folks sometime.

Friday I had an appointment to take my car in. I drive a 2000 Honda Civic, which I actually bought in fall of 1999, and it is starting to show its age. The battery needs to be replaced (it’s been replaced at least once before), I have an oil leak (which might be at the head gasket), and apparently a power steering rack leak as well. They told me to take the car to have its engine block steam cleaned (I’ve never heard of such a thing!) and I’ll bring it back this coming Friday to see if they can pinpoint the oil leak. But likely it will run well over a thousand dollars to get it all fixed. I will likely fix it, since I’m not yet ready to get a new car, but it looks like I’ll need to move on cleaning out the garage before too long so I can consider getting a new car (which I won’t want to park in the driveway).

Friday night we got together with Susan and Subrata for dinner and games, which is always fun.

Unfortunately, Debbi started feeling sick on Friday, with a sore throat when she woke up, and we had many plans on Saturday. She felt a little better on Saturday, so we went ahead with the plans. In the afternoon we had six of our adult friends, and four kids, over for a BBQ in the back yard. This was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work to keep this kids entertained. The twins live in a house without stairs and so they always want to go up and down the stairs when they come visit. But mostly it was an outdoor party, so they got to run around in the yard, but we adults went out to keep them entertained regularly; they wanted me to swing them around by their wrists or ankles, and to chase me back and forth in the yard. (The five-year-old realized I would cut back to avoid the twins, so I had to zig again to avoid her; fortunately I can still out-think a five-year-old.)

In addition to the BBQ I made mai tais using the recipe the twins’ Mom uses (more or less), which is pretty different from the “traditional” mai tai (it uses pineapple juice) I made a batch, gave it a try, added some stuff to it, and it turned out pretty good. There’s still something missing, but I’m not sure what. It was also stronger than I’d expected, but I think the dark rum I happen to have on hand is pretty strong in both flavor and alcohol content.

When the first people showed up, I let Newton outside with us, and basically just let him roam around the yard – as long as he didn’t go under the deck we let him be. He lay in the sun, lay in the shade, went behind bushes and our Japanese maple tree, sat on the edging stones, and generally had a great time (meowing a lot of the time, too). Eventually more people showed up, so I took him indoors, but he spent at least an hour and a half (including some time before the party) in the back yard, so it was a good last full day for him. He managed to sneak outside a couple of times later, too.

The party went rather longer than we had originally planned, but everyone was having fun and the kids were still full of energy so we didn’t worry about it. Things wound down around 8.

This was good because we actually had plans with the neighbors around 8 to go hang out for the evening. So we were a bit late to that as we cleaned up (and gave Newton his subcutaneous fluids). It was a nice change from the busy-ness of the afternoon, though: Our neighbor enjoys making vodka drinks, so he prepared four different ones for us, and we all sat and talked and noshed on munchies and enjoyed the drinks, which were delicious. Now I’m feeling inspired to make martinis and such. We stayed until nearly midnight, and then staggered home, being very glad we didn’t have to drive.

Debbi unfortunately felt sicker on Sunday (and is home from work today), which was also a drag because she was trying to take care of herself while we took Newton to the vet and then came home after having him put to sleep.

It’s been easier getting over Newton’s passing than it was for me with Jefferson. Partly I think because I said goodbyes to him last year before his hospital stay, and partly because we’ve basically known since that stay that his day was not far off. Really he lived longer than we expected, I think. The kittens have been sniffing around his spot on the couch and sometimes lying there, and I sat there last night to watch the Red Sox game. Roulette I think knew something was wrong with him before he passed; we’re worried about how she’ll handle the fact that the last of the three cats she grew up with is gone, and now she just has these kittens that she doesn’t fully accept. With time, maybe she will.

We’ve been picking up some of the things we had to deal with Newton peeing around the house, and we took up the towel from his spot and put a regular blanket there (our couch is covered in blankets to try to control some of the cat hair). It’s not quite the same and taking away the food dishes when Jefferson passed, but there’s a mark of finality to it. Disposing of his remaining medications is next, I guess. And I can try to return that unopened pack of puppy pads to Petco.

And, life goes on.

A Remarkable Ceremony

Monday Debbi and I took the day off so we could attend a unique (at least in our experience) award ceremony: Our neighbor Juan was being awarded an Air Force Commendation Medal for his actions saving several people during a hurricane when he was in the Air Force back in the 50s.

The Mountain View Voice has a couple of articles with background on the award (with photos): one announcing the ceremony, and one reporting the events.

Juan has been active in the community for a long time, and he invited many of his friends and neighbors. Although the ceremony was not until late afternoon, Debbi and I decided to take the day off. Debbi asked me what I’d be wearing, and I said “probably a suit”. She said she didn’t think I had to wear a suit, and I said, “true, but I think our congressional representative is going to be there, and I don’t think she’ll be wearing a Hawaiian shirt.” It’s not that I enjoy wearing a suit, but I don’t do it very often, and this seemed like a good opportunity. It turns out I haven’t yet forgotten how to tie a tie, and it wasn’t an uncomfortable as I remembered (probably because when I bought my current suits and shirts I actually got them sized correctly). You can bet if it had been 90 degrees out I would have worn shirt sleeves, but in fact it was our usual cool low-70s temperatures for this time of year.

The ceremony was held at Moffett Field, at the hangar of the 129th Rescue Wing of the California National Guard – I expect because the medal was for a rescue act (Juan was a radio operator in the service, not part of a rescue team). While we were waiting for things to start, regular business was clearly still being conducted in the hangar as every so often someone would poke his head out of a door to see if things had started, and then dash out to head somewhere. A number of service people in fatigues attended the ceremony, and my guess is that anyone who was there and not busy was allowed to sit in. There were camera crews from a couple of local news stations, and they set up a Skype link so Juan’s daughters could watch the ceremony remotely.

Once everyone was settled things got underway. There was a formal presentation of the U.S. and California flags, and the playing of the national anthem. The master of ceremonies was a Lieutenant Colonel from the Rescue Wing, and then our congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, introduced Juan and spoke about him. And then Juan was presented with his medal by a Brigadier General. And then Juan gave a nice speech to wind things up. Afterwards there were refreshments and photo opportunities with Juan. We talked briefly with Ms. Eshoo, where I felt like my usual tongue-tied self. πŸ™‚

Anna Eshoo & Juan Anna Eshoo & Juan again
I did not have a good angle for these pictures
(click for larger images)

I noticed a couple of interesting things along the way: Ms. Eshoo sang along with the national anthem, which made me wonder how many times per week she hears it. (I like our anthem, but I imagine I could get a little tired of hearing it if I served in congress for 25 years!) Also, the Lt. Colonel said that he’d been in the National Guard for (I think) 41 years and had never been part of a ceremony like this. That indicated to me that this really isn’t something that happens every day, even for long-serving military folk.

Attendees got to look around the main area of the hangar, where they had a large plane and a helicopter in view. The amount of stuff they had stashed on the walls of that plane was impressive! We also noticed a wad of cloth inside one of the things hanging from the wings, and Debbi and I agreed it looked like old socks, even when we got close to it. Debbi asked one of the people on-duty what it was and he said it was a parachute used to slow the plane down for in-air fueling.

Airplane Helicopter

I’m honored that Juan invited us to attend, as for a civilian like me this might be a once-in-a-lifetime event. I know that Juan was having the time of his life, and it’s great that the powers that be were able to put together such a nice event honoring him for his actions all those years ago.

The three of us

50 for 50

Now that I know she’s received and opened the package, I can write about the idea I came up with for my friend K’s 50th birthday: I bought her 50 birthday cards!

I came up with this idea last summer, possibly while I was back east when my Mom was recovering from her surgery (I forget exactly when), since I realized I had almost a year to buy 50 cards, which worked out to a little more than 1 per week. I knew immediately that it was unlikely I’d actually buy the cards that regularly, but I figured if I could get two-thirds of them by, say, the end of February, then I could easily scramble to get another 15 or so cards in the final month.

One thing I realized when I had bought about 15 cards was that I needed to achieve some balance in the cards I bought. They couldn’t all be cards about age, I had to mix in some generally funny cards, and some more serious cards. When you’re only buying a card a week, it’s easy to just end up buying all the most hilarious cards, but she wouldn’t be reading them one a week, but (probably) all at once.

By February I had done a pretty good job – I had about 35 cards – and I started going through them and signing them. I discovered I had bought one card twice, but that’s the only one I doubled up on, and I had time to replace it, which I did.

I had also started telling some friends about this scheme, and to my surprise none of them had heard of anyone doing this sort of thing before. I’m sure someone has done it, but in my social circle it was a novel idea. My Dad said I should mail them all individually, but I felt that was farther than I was willing to go; instead I signed and sealed all of them, and shipped them in a box.

K wrote to me that she ended up opening a few cards a day, and found them quite funny overall. So, mission accomplished!

I’ll describe one card from the set: Debbi suggested I get a 51st card, “for luck”. Well, as luck would have it, I came across what I thought was a perfect 51st card while I was back east last month. Supposedly a quote from Satchel Paige, it read:

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

A good question for any of us.

Impromptu Weekend

We had a pretty busy weekend lined up this past one, and then it got even busier with some sudden plans (“sudden plans”? Is that a thing?) that came up.

Saturday morning Debbi had an appointment with the hair stylist (on Saturday morning as the result of her schedule getting jumbled up during the previous week), so I spent the morning finishing up some work on the study (okay, mostly I was filing Magic cards, but also paying bills).

When she got back we went to lunch and then to the hardware store.

See, a couple of weeks ago I inadvertently fertilized part of the lawn. (Well, I was planting some new seed, with a mix that included mulch and fertilizer.) I noticed last week that that patch of lawn was growing much better than the rest of the lawn – which has gotten a bit brown despite all the rain – so I determined to fertilize the rest of it. I bought a fertilizing machine from OSH and spent some time on Saturday doing the lawn. I had to run back to OSH for more fertilizer, having probably over-fertilized part of the lawn (but it probably needed it). Whee! Now I’m trying to keep from checking the lawn every morning and night to see if it’s looking greener and lusher. πŸ™‚

We also picked up some new solar lights, and a new hose and a box for it. Home improvement! Well, yard improvement.

(Wait until I buy a shed and see how much I write about that!)

As I was finishing up, I got a call from my friend Syd, who was in town for one night and was inviting some of his friends out for dinner. So on fairly short notice Debbi and I got our act together and joined them. It was good to see him, as I’ve missed him since he left.

This was in lieu of our usual Saturday plans of going to Cafe Borrone. We’ve been down on Borrone lately because the variety, prices and portion sizes of their entrees have all been going in the wrong directions, and they’ve eliminated some of our favorite desserts. So going elsewhere wasn’t unwelcome (we’d planned to have dinner elsewhere anyway). One of the desserts they’ve eliminated was the chocolate rum cake from The Prolific Oven, so after dinner we went to that establishment and got a couple of slices of cake. In theory I guess we could consider hanging out there on Saturday evening from time to time. (We’ve tried the coffee chops in downtown Mountain View, but they all tend to have bands on the weekend nights, which puts a damper on our desire for a quiet reading evening.)

Friday night we got an invitation from our friends Chad and Camille to visit on Sunday for swimming and a barbecue. So Sunday morning we went to the grocery store and Debbi made potato salad to bring. Chad and me and the kids spent, what, an hour or two? swimming in their pool, and then we had dinner. We hadn’t seen much of them since last year, since we’ve all been busy, and we had a great time. Camille tells us that their daughter has upgraded us from “friends of their parents” to “cousins”. πŸ™‚

Monday was my and Debbi’s 11th dating anniversary, and we went out for our usual anniversary dinner. Where have the years gone?

Since then I’d like to say things have been quieter since then, but yesterday I biked to work for the first time this year, and boy did my butt hurt afterwards!

Open House

Saturday we throw what is easily the largest party we’ve ever thrown: A big open house for our new house. We each invited many of our cow-orkers, as well as friends and our new neighbors. I think we invited about 130 people, and including kids and significant others I bet we had about 80 show up (probably around a 40% return rate, since many who showed up were not direct invitees). Fortunately they didn’t show up all at once, since I don’t think we could have handled that! Rather they were spread out between 1 and 7 pm, with the last few taking off around 7:45.

We were pleased to get nice weather, especially after the heat wave we had early last week, as we planned to shunt many of the kids out to the back yard to play, which worked out well. (The only casualty was my hummingbird feeder which broke when a large ball got kicked into it at high speed. I had actually been thinking of replacing it anyway, so not a big deal.)

Before people showed up we locked the cats in the guest room (Roulette yowled vigorously when we caught her to throw her in.) I put up a “Do Not Enter – Cats Inside!” sign, along with a full-size photo of what the room looked like that morning before we threw them in, so people could get an idea of what the room looked like. Locking the cats away meant we could open the front and back doors without worrying about them escaping outside (which in turn meant no doorbells going off every few minutes to upset the cats).

Then we gave many, many tours of the house, which got the hoped-for sounds of appreciation. The seller/builder showed up with his brothers and their wives and he showed them around, and our agent showed up too to see what we’d done with the place. We had three neighbors stop in, including the fellow across the street whom we’ve gotten to know and his wife whom Debbi described as “a hoot”. We’d hoped & expected to get a few more neighbors, but perhaps many were busy on a Saturday afternoon at the end of June. (We did partly invite them just so they’d know we were having the party and wouldn’t be surprised that our guests used so much local parking, but we wanted to meet some, too!)

We used Evite for the invitations, as we usually do, but we had the odd experience this time of not only having some folks show up who hadn’t RSVPed (which always happens), but having some folks who up whom Evite claimed hadn’t even viewed the invitation, which must be some sort of an Evite glitch. The last time I used Evite I got some feedback that it was quaint that someone was still using that site, but it’s always worked for me. If it’s starting to head south, it may be time to find another invitation site for future parties.

For food we served snacks, but Debbi also made three wine bottles’ worth of sangria, which was almost completely gone by the end of the day. The hummus went over really well, too.

I was happy that my friend Rob showed up, as I hadn’t seen him since his housewarming party last year. He brought his three kids, the youngest of whom loved our stuffed animals (Sam, my giant stuffed sea turtle, went over really well with the 3-and-under kids). I think I’ve known Rob longer than anyone else other than my family, and it’s always good to see him. Even though we don’t have hordes of interests in common as we did in junior high, it always seems like we get along just as good as ever.

We let the cats out when there are only a few people left, but only Newton had the remotest interest in coming down to check things out. (Newton had spent much of the afternoon sitting in the window watching people run around in the yard.) The other two came down once everyone was gone and we were cleaning up.

It was a lot of fun, but also a long time to be standing on my feet. I switched from sandals to slippers part-way through, and then to bare feet not long after that. By 9:30 at night I was falling asleep on the couch, so we called it an early night, and a successful party. (But going to bed early meant we got up early enough to beat the Sunday brunch rush at Country Gourmet!)

Debbi’s now talking about doing this every year! Well, maybe by next June we’ll be completely unpacked.

A Little Staycation

I’m taking a week off, starting today, for my Mom to come visit. We set this visit up a couple of months ago, thereby ensuring that we’d find a house and be in the middle of the process of buying it when she got here. πŸ™‚ On the other hand, it’s a better time than when we’re actually moving, or just moved and not yet unpacked. I’m looking forward to some down time with her.

The house thing is moving along. We’ve been providing a heckuva lot of documentation to our lender – I don’t remember it being this bad when I bought my townhome, but in the wake of the housing crisis I think the government has tightened up a lot of regulations. I think we’re just about done with this step of the process, and then we wait until we go in to wear our arms out signing the title documents. Well okay, we’re going to start packing after Mom leaves, too.

Blackjack is doing well. Monday’s chemo treatment I guess is the worst he’ll get, but so far he hasn’t been nauseous or anything. The vet said he’s been doing really well, and the technician said Monday was the first day she was able to get him to purr for her. His energy level is still lower than usual, but we’re hopeful that he’s going to get through all this without too much trouble, and that the lymphoma will be sufficiently in remission so that he’ll have a good life ahead of him.

Spring has been having trouble deciding whether to arrive, as the temperature has bounced around from highs in the 50s to highs in the 70s over the last few weeks. Makes it hard to decide whether to wear jeans or shorts! But the rain has just about ended (at least in the south bay, I guess it’s still raining up the peninsula fairly often), which means I’ve been cleaning up the porch and patio. I finally figured out the easiest and most effective way to clean the porch – just in time to move out of this place! Figures.

Over the weekend we went to see five children in four days: Thursday night we visited Subrata and Susan and their son for dinner, and then an evening of gaming. Saturday we visited Chad and Camille and their kids to keep the kids occupied for a few hours. And Sunday we visited Lisa and Michel, and their daughter and newborn son, whom we hadn’t seen since he was born a month or so ago. Young children seem to love me, which always strikes me as a little strange. I was definitely kidded out at the end of the weekend, though. But it’s nice to visit them.

Anyway, time to get some things done before going to pick up Mom this afternoon!

Infants and Independence Day

We had a pretty lively weekend. Saturday we went over to our friends Chad & Camille’s place for their twin kids’ one-year birthday party. As I’ve been saying, one-year birthday parties are more for the parents than for the kids, though the kids seemed to enjoy it anyway. We knew everyone there (other than C&C’s nanny and her fiancΓ©), and saw a few folks we hadn’t in a while.

We had another hot weekend – not a scorcher, but still warm – and C&C invited us back on Sunday to avail ourselves of their pool, which we were happy to take them up on. So we spent the afternoon there, and I got to entertain the kids some more. Kids love me. I like them as long as I can hand them back to their parents when I run out of steam with them. πŸ™‚

Sunday evening we biked into Shoreline Park for the annual Independence Day fireworks, which is always fun. Dealing with the idiots on the paths and streets on the way out of the park isn’t so much fun, but this year they had people directing traffic at the main intersection on our way out, which made it easier. And we had our first-class location on the grass as usual, too.

Monday we both had off from work, and we had a fairly quiet day mostly at home, with a few excursions for lunch and coffee. We also picked up the fixings so I could make mocha chip ice cream, which I did. This batch turned out especially good, too! And the heat broke (which I’m sure all of you sweltering on the east coast are envious of), which made the day even nicer.

But I had a terrible time sleeping last night, and woke up not only groggy but also with a sore throat, so I decided it was prudent to stay home from work. I dozed some in the morning (Newton and Blackjack snoozed with me), had some lunch, and spent the afternoon on the couch finishing a book and re-watching chunks of the films of The Lord of the Rings.

Hopefully I will be all better tomorrow. There have been some nasty illnesses going around at work and I’m hoping I haven’t caught one of them. Though each person seems to have something different, so it’s probably my own special thing.

Holiday Break: The First Half

We’re a little more than halfway through our holiday break, so here’s what we’ve been up to:

The break has unfortunately been marred by Debbi’s illness, which she’s had for over a week, and which has progressed through the usual cold symptoms, but has taken forever to progress. After hearing her chest coughs yesterday, we finally decided that she should go see a doctor about it today. (I even hauled out our humidifier to see if damper air would help her cough less.) The doctor diagnosed it as just a cold, so there’s not a lot she can do except take it easy and take some cough medicine – and try not to overmedicate.

On the bright side, our friend Karen came down for the Christmas weekend. She usually heads east to visit her family over the holidays, but the price of air fare persuaded her otherwise, so instead we invited her down here. She flew in on Christmas Eve, which I had off but Debbi didn’t, so I picked her up from the airport and we went to Whole Foods to pick up the fixings for Christmas dinner, and lay in food for Karen while she was here. We went to Cascal for dinner, and then drove around the area looking at Christmas lights as there are some impressive displays around.

Christmas morning we sat around the tree (our artificial tree that we bought last year, because real trees have gotten astonishingly expensive around here) and opened gifts. My big gift to Debbi and myself was to replace our aging comforter with a nice new one. It’s even larger, so it fits in the comforter cover whereas the old one was a bit small for it. I also bought her the third season of Corner Gas on DVD. I received a goodly haul of books, CDs and DVDs from various people.

Karen has been training for a long race, so she needed to get some training walks in during her visit, thus in the afternoon we went out to the Stevens Creek Trail so she could do her walk, while Debbi and I took a ore leisurely one. We went directly to have lunch downtown at a Thai restaurant, and then vegged for a while at home, before finally cooking dinner in the evening. I made meatloaf, Debbi made mashed potatoes and steamed carrots, and Karen baked a blueberry pie.

Saturday Karen headed out for a long walk, and Debbi and I went over to Bill’s for his annual Boxing Day party, where we played some Fluxx, one game of which was epically long and I won in a particularly improbable way (involving randomly switched followed by randomly chosen cards). We picked up Karen (just before the first of the week’s rains came in that evening), and went to dinner at Sundance the Steakhouse, which has to be one of our better recent restaurant finds in the area.

Sunday we drove to the coast and had the champagne brunch at the Moss Beach Distillery, then stopped off for an outing at the beach the beach near Pillar Point. Monday, Debbi’s cold was starting to get her down, so we had a quiet day mostly at home and went to dinner at Amber India, before taking Karen to the airport, where she caught her flight home only a little late.

Tuesday, as I recounted yesterday, I went to play poker at a local card room, coming home as Debbi went out for dinner with some friends. I spent the evening puttering around in the study, and afterwards we watched some Corner Gas until we went to bed.

Today I went to the comic book store for the one comic that came out this week (Blackest Night #6). Due to the holidays, shipping companies couldn’t guarantee that books would arrive on Wednesday, so most companies decided to skip this week, as it was the fifth Wednesday of the month anyway (often called a “skip week” in the industry). DC decided to ship one book last week instructing stores not to put it out until this week, on pain of whatever tortures DC has at its disposal, I suppose. You can sometimes tell how ethical a store is by whether they abode by these requirements or not. My store, of course, held the book until this week like they’re supposed to, and held a sale besides – the store, surprisingly, was quite busy when I arrived!

I also went to an Apple store to buy a new keyboard, since the wireless keyboard I’ve been using since I got a stand for my laptop has been terribly unreliable, dropping connections every 10 seconds at times. Very disappointing, but web searches suggested that the keyboard has been problematic for a lot of people (apparently 2.4 GHz devices – wireless networks, cordless phones, etc. – can interfere with the keyboard’s bluetooth connection). Oddly, I’ve never had any such troubles with wireless mice.

And that brings us up-to-date. Now, to go read that comic book – and the few others I bought at the sale!