Monday, July 31, 2017

Family Camping Reunion in Malibu

Awesome fun; we all look forward to seeing everyone all year...  This year we had lots of new babies and toddlers to play with, making it extra fun.

Aw, looks affectionate, right?  'Cause they get along so well... except when they don't...

Evenings around the propane camp fire.  So Cal is very dry and a ban on fires does make sense.  It is so awesome just to be together....

The teens and tweens...

And the new younger cousins...

Last day.  Just missing Uncle Mark, Evan, and Connor.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Summer Dance Show

She learned five new routines, which impressed me; plus, she had an excellent time, which was the real point. Musical theater, lyrical, tap, hip hop, and jazz. What I saw was the result of many months of hard work - much more flexibility, higher kicks, and real leadership and demonstrated team work in her work within the class. I love her enthusiasm and hard work.  I also love the way she sneaks smiles in for me during her routines...  :-)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Week of Basketball

And - unexpected! - a report card.  "Amazing job this week with a great, positive attitude, great job on defense, altering their shots and blocking them; great job getting open on offense and taking goal shots. Solid fundamentals.  You have a great, upbeat spirit and always work hard; you dominate on both ends of the floor."

Well that was cool.... and she got a new basketball to boot!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Giants Game

What's summer without brisk winds, fog, and a Giants game?  Even K put on her sweatshirt... eventually. They beat the Pittsburgh Pirates and, thanks to our friend Tim, we had great seats to watch them do so.  My seat was actually a few rows back from theirs and I watched the girls chatting and laughing together throughout the game, never looking for me.  I am so glad that they are blessed with each other, despite all of their bickering and complaining.  And I'm grateful to be blessed with them; a great evening of fun together.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Gaelic Football and Hurling

Trying a new sport this week.   One of my students told me about Gaelic football and it looked like something the girls would like - the athletes who do this are tough!  The girls also got to try hurling, which intrigued them if only for the name.  The photos below are all of K early in the week trying hurling, but she wanted to go back after the first day and they had six hours of running around, so it was a win!  We shall see if they want to join the more competitive leagues.  Sounds like fun, but right now I think that they are more interested in pursuing opportunities to play quiddich.  :-)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Carrot Crop

A huge one; carrots are our best crop this year with everything else (tomatoes, beans, zucchini, and mint) looking more scraggly.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Great fun with friends who shared their membership with us; so nice!  We saw just a fraction of it this time, but had a blast.  We were especially impressed with the cardboard art (project ideas for G!), the social experiment section, and the psychological section in which you use facial expressions to test for truth telling.


In the photos below of one social experiment, random teams work together to punch a red or blue button as many times as possible in 15 minutes.  The point is obviously not the button pushing itself, but the spontaneous loyalties that develop and the energy that competition can fuel, even for a meaningless task.  We quickly got sucked in, as the photos show!

Waiting to start
Getting into it

Laughing hysterically with the effort of beating one another
And these were fun anatomy exhibits:

Then, finally: G drinking from the toilet.  Ew?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

SF Shakespeare's Hamlet

Time for Shakespeare in the Park!  We drove to the furthest of their performance locations both for the company and because we can never wait for the more local weekends (although some years we go more than once). It was excellent fun to see the same production that the kids had done this year and to compare them. Made me appreciate the girls as Hamlet and Gertrude even more!

 The performance included some gender swapping (as had ours, obviously): Polonius and Laetes, usually father and son, were mother and daughter. Guildenstern and Rosencrantz were also women. The only changes required were switches in pronoun and all worked well as strong female characters.

Ophelia was played by a man, but he played her as a woman. This didn't work as well. First, the other two roles with swapped genders had the characters changing genders, not the actor, so the difference was initially confusing: was he a man playing Ophelia as a woman or as a man? Why swap one way for the female actors and another for the male? After a while it became clear that we were watching a man playing Ophelia as a woman. Unfortunately, that's hard for most men to do without coming across as ridiculing women's emotions, gestures, and behavior.  (We wondered how men did it well in Shakespeare's time.)  The result was a bit cringe-worthy as the performance bordered on trivialization, stereotyping, and making the role almost comic. The girls were especially critical of the scene where Ophelia goes mad in front of the royal couple, thinking that it seemed to be more grieving and less crazy, which is how they see the lines in that scene. I'm not sure why they didn't just make Ophelia into Ophelio and go for a gay Hamlet. It would have allowed for the gender swap, made an nice statement, and not distracted as much from the overall plot. K disagreed with me, thinking that doing so would be unrealistic for the time frame (but I argued back that having a female adviser (Polonius) and a young female character who returns to college (Laertes) would be equally unrealistic... besides, I reminded her, when Laertes goes to college Polonius gives her a credit card, so it was clearly a modern setting).

(We later read a review that described the Ophelia character in this production as "gender fluid."  I suppose it is worth reflection as to why we needed to see any character as either man or woman.  Still, many of the scenes seemed awkward.  Whether male or female, the character in many scenes seemed to exaggerate emotion in a way that men do when making fun of women and that undermined the dignity of the role.

K disagreed with the description that the character was "gender fluid," pointing out that the pronouns used were all female and that she was called "sister" by Laertes.  She also disagrees with switching any gender or era; she's a traditionalist who can laugh at the exchange of a credit card in the play, but disagrees with the director's choice in so modernizing or otherwise changing a classic.  Opinions!)

But what do I know? We had a great time, it reinforced my belief that the kids' productions could be a lot more challenging, and we had interesting discussions afterward about both the production and the story. I read an article recently - Harvard Business Review, maybe? - about the importance of Shakespeare's characters historically from the perspective that they were among the first to really develop within the stories. According to the article, before Shakespeare, characters [at least in English literature] emerged on stage, but did not actually develop and change. We talked a lot about this, how choices about behavior, emotion, perspective can inform and change our lives, too. A rich evening!

G with the wonderful actor who also played Queen Gertrude so well.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Day of LARP

Live Action Role Play - reminds me of "Dungeons and Dragons," but in a group and live/outside.  The kids did it once ages ago, have played unofficially with friends since, and finally found a LARP weekend without sports or Rel Ed to do it again.  "Epic!" was their assessment of the day!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Art by G

Found these on her camera and had to save them for myself:  with her lovely art teacher and with a self-portrait.  Love it, love her!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


Incredible beauty and a summer like no other - tons of snow even now, rivers and lakes where usually there are creeks and meadows.  Another iteration of this dynamic, amazing place.  When I'm there I'm home, blissfully happy, and deeply in love.

I had promised Puck snow and he delivered with his jubilant response, rolling around and around and around in it.


Looking North across what is usually a meadow, the deer provides lovely contrast.

Not a great photo, but we take a picture here at Olmstead Point nearly every year and I can't miss the ritual after this fantastic week of adventures with these two awesome people.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

US History: Manzanar

One of the sites to which Japanese Americans were confined by the Roosevelt Administration during World War II.  Roosevelt referred to them as "Concentration Camps," this sign calls it a "War Relocation Center" and we also heard the term "Internment Camps" to refer to this shameful part of recent U.S. History.

I stayed outside the Visitor's Center with Puck while the girls toured it.  They were in there for a long time and came out full of information. They were most horrified that the families had to leave their pets behind.  A sign at the entrance summarizes:  "In 1942, the US Government ordered over 110,000 men, women, and children to leave their homes and detained them in remote, military-style camps.  Two-thirds of them were born in America.  Not one was convicted of espionage or sabotage.  For 10,000 of them, Manzanar would be their new home."

I read this NPR article earlier this year about Manzanar.  Worth the read, worth the visit.

Origami cranes, symbols of hope and healing

The map shows how massive the original site was.  Very little is left.

Barbed wire, guard towers, a complete loss of civil rights, and impossible choices.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

I've wanted to visit this place for a long time and it didn't disappoint.  From remote Hwy 395, we turned east on even-more-remote Hwy 168, then turned north onto a more narrow, steeper, and windier road to drive to 10,000' in the White Mountains.  We were early and there were few people on any of the roads.  When we arrived at the Visitor's Center and began hiking through some of the forest, our solitude magnified the dramatic silence of this ancient forest that contains the oldest trees in the world, the oldest being 4,700 years old.

Sierra range in rear - wow!

Looking down into Death Valley