Sunday, September 29, 2013


We had fun, I'll say that first. It is always fun to see the friends we met there. But we had been hoping to enhance our studies of the various cultures that have populated California and to that end the fest itself was a big bust. Low attendance. Hard to tell what was Swiss or German about it, shy of one great older couple in traditional Alpine wear and a chance to hear the Alpine horn, shown below. A Chinese guy took our tickets. An African American family was running the kids corner. It had all of the diversity of any Bay Area event, with no particular emphasis on Swiss or German culture, language, food, or activities. Oh well. We got to dance the chicken dance and the kids did the "walk on water" activity shown below, surely memorable if lacking cultural context.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Science, Pottery, and more Improv

She was so happy to get her first creations
back to glaze!
Improv impresses me, making up stuff in front of an audience. 
I am SO not good at it, but they do well. 
Must be good for the brain, to think on your feet.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dry Again

The "Blues Hounds" had quite a beat and some creative lyrics. Knowing that we had considered bailing on the trip when we were soaked and unsure that the sun would come out again, they informed me that they voted unanimously to stay.  Most of the remainder of the time was spent in a clubhouse, performing in their band, or creating an obstacle course for Sherpani.  The campsite was one performance venue, but adults were also invited to a nearby manzanita tree for renditions of the 2013 classic, "Surfing in a Tree." Fun? Yep, I think so!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

CA History - Rain and a Wet Mill Tour

It started to drizzle the evening we arrived, nothing serious and we continued to read outside. But the rain picked up during the night and continued into the morning as we had breakfast and made plans for the day. It wasn't unpleasant and the kids were having fun with their friends, who had arrived late the previous evening.

We all took off, giggling when the rain increased, on a fun hike, past a pioneer cemetery with graves dating to the mid-1800s (the kids believe they unearthed a grave robber mystery - too much Egypt studies?) and through gorgeous and dripping wet oak and manzanita woods. We arrived at the Bale Grist Mill, named for John Bale but run for more than half a century by his widow, Maria. We learned a ton - that grist means grain, that the restored mill continues to run exclusively by the power of water, and the meaning behind a number of common terms (putting your nose to the grindstone, among them).

The only drawback to the tour was the fact that we were literally soaked to the skin and not moving; the heavy and clinging clothes were uncomfortable and we were getting cold. Just as I was imagining bailing on the rest of the trip and tolerating a three-hour trip home in my dripping wet jeans, the tour ended, the sun came out, and when we got back to the campsite, even the tents were dry. Gorgeous day, and lots of fascinating California history to complement our studies this year, too.

Just the tent is soaked; the girl, not quite yet.
Past the pioneer cemetery, beautifully unmaintained.
Checking out the exterior of the mill. Inside
and out, it as gorgeous.
Getting to try out a grinding device
Starting to look (and feel) miserably wet and cold.
But we dried quickly as we walked
alongside vineyards and back to the
campsite.  Hurrah!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Camping in the Napa Valley

En route, gelato stop with a view.
Another winery stop, this time for the bathroom
Finally at the campsite, gorgeous
fall colors emerging on this last
weekend of the summer.  Lots of pine, redwood,
manzanita, and oak and the combination
reminded me of camping trips as a kid.  Fun!
Cozy tent sleeping with Sherpani, too.  I think
she loved it; who wouldn't, curled up with the three of us.
Transporting firewood back to the campsite.  I told
them I could carry it, but they insisted on using
the wagon.  Well, who can blame them, huh?

Monday, September 16, 2013

CA History - Culture Studies: Miwok and Ohlone

Our previous "Country Day" morphed this year into "Culture Studies" with fun around learning about different cultures together, doing an activity, and then sharing food and community with new and old friends. This was an awesome first day and the kids got to make tule boats, just perfectly doll-house sized, imagining how difficult and yet possible it would be to make actual tule boats, human sized, for fishing from the then-marshy bay waters. Based on our previous Miwok and Ohlone studies, the kids even offered tidbits of information to our teacher that she hadn't known - things I was impressed that they remembered.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Macduff Meets Macduff at Macbeth

A weekend of Shakespeare! After seeing the Marin Shakespeare's production of "A Comedy of Errors" on Friday, we joined friends at SF Shakespeare's production of "Macbeth."  This was our second time seeing it, as we'd also watched it earlier this summer.  As we arrived, the girls' friends shouted, "you are in the program!" and sure enough, a photo that my mom took of K as Macduff was in the back of the program, advertising the youth programs. The production was amazing and we all got really into it, with me even getting tearful. The photo is of K with the professional Macduff. Again, she whispered, "he is better than me" as she watched him; again, my recollection in watching it was just how very good she had been.  As always, it is most awesome to watch both girls mouthing so many of the lines along with the actors; oh how we love the gory drama of this one!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Book Club: Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors

So exited to be there!

A totally cool stage for the Texas themed show
They were excited to be the first to arrive and wanted seats in the front row
Friends join us; yeah!
Q&A with some of the actors and producer afterward.  What an awesome production! 
And great to see so many book club friends after a long summer.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Science and then Improv

Love watching these kids hard at work learning about
protons, neutrons, and electrons.

Later in the day, they acted out an improv scene.  I was so impressed!
Another improv team at work

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Lizzy Eating - Cool-Gross Shots

We're still over-the-moon crazy about little Lizzy the lizard. I am particularly excited when I see her eat as it is of course evidence that she is thriving.

Couldn't resist these cool-gross photos of her capture of a particularly large cricket. Can't help feeling sorry for the cricket, either. But watching it sparked an interesting conversation about nature, which so often is glamorized as ideal and even in some cases deified, whereas the reality is that it can be very violent and often not imbued with the better attributes to which humans aspire. I love nature, love spending time in it, integrating it into my daily life, appreciating its beauty, and learning about its wonders. I also know that humans are called to be more and better than animals, to rise above our instincts and to seek improvement. This lesson seems pretty obvious, but worth clarifying since the all-nature perspective seems to be dominating in public consciousness of late.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Wonderful Wild Day

We had a permaculture specialist to begin to teach us about gardening effectively; she had a few school-ish tendencies that slowed the pace to the point where the kids were irritated, but was clearly energetic and lovely, so we have hope that with some tweaks, her expertise will be better communicated next time. Despite some hiccups, it was a lovely day of outdoor fun with friends; what more can you ask?

Nature journaling time
(or time to hide from the camera if you
are K and finger knit if you are G)
Trap door spiders abound
Pure joy on a rope swing
Private property = what seat belt laws?
K was proud that she got up the
nerve to jump off of this rock into
deep and cold water.
Swimming and playing in a nearby creek

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Thinkering Begins Again

If you find science experiments on the stove next to your scrambled eggs, it must be the first day of Thinkering. The older kids started with world music, writing, and theater and the younger kids had science, pottery, and then joined the older ones for theater. A fantastic day that G deemed "the best ever." K said, "I can't wait 'till next week!"   We welcomed new friends in each group and had a great time seeing many old friends, too.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Greek Festival

It may be in its 43rd year, but it was our first visit and we were impressed with how busy and populated it was. The kids enjoyed a play about Persephone's descent into Hades and we also caught of bit of Greek dancing with impressive costumes. I would have liked to do the church tour since the interior apparently has incredible mosaics, but the girls were done and we walked home instead, a being ordinary together experience that always carries a fabulousness of its own.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Occupy Windsor

A few weeks ago we had our "Occupy Fairyland" experience; this time we did the same in Windsor, in the backyard of friends crazy enough to have three families with kids all over for dinner and then to spend the night. It was fabulously fun and great to relax together; can't wait to do it again.