Wednesday, March 30, 2016

SF History Continues: Lands End

I love this area; it used to be the quiet corner of SF where no one went, then the NPS built a visitor's center (really, a gift shop minimally disguised as a visitor's center) and now there is no parking and lots of tour buses.  I still love it - sea caves, the ruins of bath houses, and a quiet park (Sutro Heights) where once there was a mansion and lots of other attractions.

Looked precarious, but at closer examination it wasn't really....

A ladder to...

Sea cave

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter 2016

The day began early with choir rehearsal, then such beautiful singing at choir that I called my Mom just so that she could hear the beautiful concluding hymn as she was on her way to Mass and their parish.  We stopped back at home to change and pack, then headed to my parents' house where we launched a 12-step (for 12 apostles) treasure hunt that included codes, riddles, a knowledge of the Saints, unscrambled words, unscrambled sentences, messages hidden inside pens and on the backs of crayon labels, messages that could only be read in a mirror, a map hidden on the back of a puzzle that had to be put together and flipped to be read, literary references, and more.  Easter eggs hunts were part of the search twice and neither the money nor the candy that was also in some of the eggs held any appeal - it was all about the clues.  Happy Easter!

Bunny cake helper

Our new Easter egg tree
Children's choir.  No K is not going to smile. She's just not.

Finding the clues in the eggs

Unscrambling letters

Mirror writing clue

Puzzle solving team

Happy cousins!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easter Crafts at a Senior Facility

So thankful to EB for organizing this and inviting us to participate.  A beautiful craft and happy participants.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday Hike

We decided to seek our own quiet contemplative time (G also wanted to search for new pond life for her class on micro organisms). It was a quiet day, except for this hard-to-spot frog, whose croaking was magnified through the drainage pipe. I couldn't for the life of me figure out where it was and ended up crawling closer to find out, trying hard not to slip on the algae and end up sliding down toward the bay. Finally, I determined that the very small frog was in the top hole to the left of the main pipe, just croaking joyfully.

Frog in a drainage pipe.  The pipe was magnifying his croak 
and we just had to find out exactly where it was!

We also spotted a skink - a slick, fast moving lizard that is colored in front like a Western Fence lizard - browns and beiges - and in the rear in a bright blue color.  Too fast for photos.

Just as we were nearly back at the car, I spotted the largest Alligator lizard I've ever seen.  It was in a puddle and so its colors were bright green.  When the girls spotted it they actually yelled and scared it away.  So unlike them!  I was bummed.  It looked like it was at least ten inches long and big enough that we briefly contemplated whether it could in fact be a young alligator.  Not likely, but amazing nonetheless.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Still Life

K's latest:


In so many ways, this class has the ideal set-up: an instructor who is both an expert and a fantastic teacher.  G is totally into it and loves working closely with Kris to examine their finds - mold on bread, paramecium in the green stuff that grew where a Venus Fly Trap was supposed to grow, developments in their pond environments, and more.  Fascinating and exciting....

Mythology Class

Making Athena masks and having a great time.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Starting the Day with a 500 Year Old Skeleton

I found this web site with an interactive 3D image of the grave of King Richard III and we started our day looking through it and discussing it.  K first brought up the discovery of this grave when she discussed it with her SF Shakespeare class a few years ago, so she was quick to point out the crooked spine and hole in his skull.  We discussed a little of the history and how a king's body could end up under a parking lot (and all that had been in that location since).  I found the technology impressive and being so close to his grave strangely moving, in part because it revived a passion I used to have for 15th century English history, but also because these bones are all that is left of an individual's one precious life.  His feels perhaps more poignant because we know a bit about him and can connect to him through our imaginations, but really, I wasn't as much struck by his particular life as by the universal belief that our life's interests are precious and our lives inherently incomplete.  A fascinating and provocative way to start the day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Easter Eggs

I saw the directions for making these eggs here and decided to try. How gorgeous they are! Boiled in onion skins and purple cabbage.  Thanks, Mom, for organizing the project!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Art Show

The Peninsula Art Museum was hosting a show and lecture by one of my colleagues; we got to go, talk to the artist, and see her beautiful paper art. What a priviledge!

Shot Put

K hadn't been to practice all week - baseball games conflicted.  So she hadn't had a chance to practice at all with the shot put.  Still, her third throw broke last year's records for her, with 26 feet, one and a half inches.  She won and her teammate Z came in second, winning the event for their team.  Go cougars!



Sunday, March 20, 2016

Seder Meal

"An arrangement of the Last Supper as a Historical Drama"  at St. Dominic's.  Wow.  Quite an experience!  We are so grateful to our friends Cristina and Patrick for inviting us.  We sat at the head table and helped do some of the readings for the evening, which explained the relevance of the traditional foods eaten at a Seder meal,  the last that Christ had.  Father Anthony was both wonderful as the leader of the evening and as a table mate - we had wonderful conversation about his adventures on the Camino de Santiago de Compostello in Spain.  We also got to visit with our friend Father Steve (not pictured) and that is always a treat.
Cristina and Father Anthony

The kids around the table
 My prayer, as "the mother:"  "Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who hast sanctified us by Thy commandments and, commanded u to kindle the festival lights.  Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who hast kept us alive and sustained us and brought us to this season.  May our home be consecrated, O God, by the light of Thy countenance, shining upon us in blessing and bringing us peace.  Amen!"

I found this prayer, from Henri Nouwen, on the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel blog.  It seemed perfect as we launched Holy Week with this lovely, spiritual, cozy, and memorable evening:

 Passion is a kind of waiting – waiting for what other people are going to do.  Jesus went to Jerusalem to announce the good news to the people of that city.  And Jesus knew that he was going to put a choice before them:  Will you be my disciple, or will you be my executioner?  There is no middle ground here.  Jesus went to Jerusalem to put people in a situation where they had to say Yes or No.  That is the great drama of Jesus’ passion:  he had to wait for their response.  What would they do?  Betray him, or follow him?

   In a way, his agony is not simply the agony of approaching death.  It is also the agony of being out of control and of having to wait.  It is the agony of a God who depends on us to decide how to live out the divine presence among us.  It is the agony of the God who, in a very mysterious way, allows us to decide how God will be God.  Here we glimpse the mystery of God’s incarnation.  God became human not only to act among us but also to be the recipient of our responses.

   And that is the mystery of Jesus’ love.  Jesus in his passion is the one who waits for our response.  Precisely in that waiting, the intensity of his love and God’s is revealed to us. 
--Henri Nouwen, Finding My Way Home

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Soccer Begins

Time for spring soccer!  This kid runs with joy, encourages everyone on her team, and is a delight to watch.  And she's crazy for soccer, so I'm glad that we found a spring league.  Thanks, Mom, for coming to watch!

Friday, March 18, 2016


Two baseball games this weekend; one was called early due to time; the other was called early due to the mercy rule.  It's better to be on the winning side of that rule, which her team was this time, but winning or losing, K feels like ten points is too few, that there's always a chance to catch up in baseball (she'd revise it to 15 pts.)

Love watching her play.  Well, sort of.  I actually get quite nervous, as I can't imagine wanting that attention, that pressure!  But I love admiring her for doing it so well, both the ball playing and handling the pressure.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Science: Pond Biology

Working hard, learning about pond biology and adding snails to their pond ecosystems.  Very cool!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Chicken Embryo

Isn't this fascinating?  From a research project at work in which they are looking at the effects of alcohol on fetal chickens.  I had to take a photo to show the girls.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Visiting the Cal Academy

It's been a while, so two girls were excited when a friend offered to take them. And who wouldn't be?  This is a photo of lunchtime - at the flooded rain forest floor.  Always magical.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Walking in the Rain

The kids were at a birthday party and I couldn't resist a lovely walk in the rain.  There were few people out and those who were met my happy energy, grinning in shorts and t-shirts, not quite prepared for a downpour but happy in it anyway.  The sounds of the waves, beautiful views, and the feeling of rain were all wonderful as Puck and I quickly got soaked to the skin.  There's really little I love more than being outside when it is raining and we returned happy and refreshed.

A container ship.  I've never looked at a ship in this channel without thinking of Jack London's "The Sea Wolf," though the last time I read that was my sophomore year of high school.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

No Sweeter Words, "We Made Dinner!"

That's what I heard a few short minutes ago as I looked up and saw the girls returning from our neighbors' house.  In their hands, a dish of veggie chili topped with cornbread.  Oh, who are these magical children, come to save me after a day cranking away on a difficult work project?  They are wonderful kids, but the majority of the thanks goes to our next door neighbor, Tim, who is a generous and thoughtful person and a chef to boot, calling the girls over to help with the preparation of this warm meal!  THANKS, TIM!

Saturday, March 12, 2016


K complimented me today, telling me, "Mom, you are a great teacher."  Flattered but thoughtful, I expressed appreciation and then said, "but I don't really think of myself as your teacher.  More as a..." and here I paused for a word.  Facilitator?  Administrator?  Coach?  K supplied her own:  "Initiator."  Yes, that captures it quite well, though I've never thought of my role with that word before....

Friday, March 11, 2016

Pond Biology Class Update

Kris (G's teacher) has a magic touch: she poses a question or presents something visually and the kids' brains turn on, suddenly engaged and fascinated by the wonder of science. So much cheering in this class as new creatures emerge under the microscope! I love watching the brain work...

Mosquito larvae

Class report:
– – We started out with mosquito larvae, talking a little bit about malaria and Zika (just a little bit, I know those are scary for kids) and why when you see them around your yard in standing water, to be sure to dump it out. I also brought three of the mosquito fish that I have been raising to show some prey-predator action (see below for link about mosquito fish). We looked at the larvae with our hand magnifiers and also managed to get a good look at one under the stereoscope. They are ugly and scary looking, we found out!
– – We then switched to Daphnia, our aquatic crustaceans. I talked just a bit about what they are, but we spent the rest of the time looking at them with the hand magnifiers and trying to see them under the stereoscope.

An enlarged view of the Dapnia, which G now watches with interest (and some anxiety - do they have enough to eat?  Is my pond a complete ecosystem?)

Mosquito Larvae

Some learning links:
Some mosquito links:

Update and links courtesy Kris K.; daphnia photo courtesy wikipedia; mosquito larvae photo