Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A Very Teen New Year's Eve

 Lots of laughing, lots of fun, lots of music, lots of noise.  Not much sleep.

Apple cider at midnight

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas

Grand Lake, CO  July 2019

Merry Christmas!  Everyone is a year older and everyone continues in similar activities as last year; we have many thing to be grateful for.  

Charles continues to volunteer at multiple different places each week.  The site that he most enjoyed (Habitat) closed down this year, but he started to get more involved in the Knights of Columbus (take that, Kamala Harris!) and continued his volunteer work at Samaritan House, our local Senior Center, and a local children's reading program.

I received our University's most prestigious award this year, the Keller Teaching Excellence award.  I was then the keynote speaker at convocation and my speech was later published in a journal supporting social mobility through higher education.  I'm also proud of organizing a conference on that topic and facilitating an inspirational panel of students and alumni as they spoke about their experiences with higher ed.

Katherine (14)  continues to love baseball, plays with the high school aged kids (all boys but her again this year) and was selected to the All-Star team this past summer.  Her team came in second in the State championships.  She got a great job in the City working with a group of (mostly) African American teens marketing theater to youth and started taking college classes this fall.  

Gabriana (12) has increased her dancing to eight classes a week and is passionate about science, especially ecology, taking five science classes this fall.  

Puck (dog) and Minerva (cat) are both fine and had an adventure this summer, traveling with us on a road trip to a family reunion in Colorado.  We visited a number of gorgeous National Parks and had a great time.  The photo above was taken not far from Rocky Mountain National Park, where we saw moose and elk and where we crossed the Continental Divide.  We also loved Arches National Park in Utah.

Hope that you and your family are doing well and that we see you soon in 2020!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Bethlehem AD 2019

Redwood City's annual living nativity, recreating Bethlehem at the time of Christ's birth with Roman soldiers, teaching rabbis, a marketplace, women dancing, dreidel playing, live animals (a peacock this year, plus camels, a tortoise, calves, a turkey, and of course a spectacular live nativity.)  After three years of being in a "tribe," the girls elected this year to be 'tax collector pages,' which meant running through the crowd of people waiting throughout the night and shouting, "We have an important message from Rome!"  They also worked with the 'tax collectors' just inside the front gate to 'harass' the arriving visitors for their 'taxes.'  They had a blast all three nights, getting very into the role, singing "the 12 Roman Days of Solstice," reading the announcement from Rome, and more.  It was fun to see them having so much fun, loving the independence of working without supervision.  It was also nice that there was no rain on any of the three evenings of the event and kind of a relief to have moderate crowds, enough to keep it festive without being a crush of people.

Having visitors sign in for 'the census'
Annoyed that I am disrupting the spirit of the moment with photos

As usual, the final and most popular element of the event, always moving and beautiful

Saturday, December 21, 2019

African American Shakespeare's Cinderella

African American Shakespeare's production of Cinderella!  Great show, funny and touching.  K worked it, so that's her on stage at intermission below, promoting the youth theater pass with her colleagues.  It was a huge theater, lots of people.  I would have been so nervous at her age... she seemed not bothered at all.  I'm so impressed.

I got to spend the day and experience the show with G, which was fantastic.  She's great company and looked so grown up in a dress she borrowed from my sister for the occasion.  Of course I already KNEW that she was great company (funny, sweet, and interesting), but I appreciate her company so much, it's worth saying so.  We both agreed it was so cute to see the little girls in attendance, all dressed up,  When the plot included searching for a princess who fits the shoe, the "palace staff" come into the audience and let the tiny girls try the shoe on.  Their reactions are so adorable.

Funny, when we arrived at the tea party, K's co-workers immediately said, "you are K's family."  Neither girl thinks that they look like each other and K says that she looks exactly like me, so this immediate recognition perplexes them, which I think is cute.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Tea Party Promotion

K's work offered a promotion if she created a video to promote a tea party event between African American Shakespeare's morning and afternoon Cinderella shows.  Tea parties aren't really K's style, but she made it her own, with a top hat and fancy dress for Puck and Minerva.  Honestly, the animals weren't too impressed, as evidenced by the look on Puck's face at having to wear a beaded headband and a tie, but it looked cute and was creative, too.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Monday, December 16, 2019

Book Reading at the Jewish Community Center

One of my colleagues invited us to this unique event.  The novel is about a young girl who aspires to be an actress, against her family's wishes, and joins a prestigious Parisian theater company just before World War II.  Zack Rogow was the first translator and he was there with the other translator, the author (via Skype), and an actor who did a dramatic reading. 

Very unique, interesting event, to experience the book from the author's perspective, to learn about the characters, to hear about the translation process, and to experience a reading done professionally.  K and I got autographs and  we were both very impressed!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Decorating the Christmas Tree

My brain wasn't ready to think about Christmas - every year, I resist, wanting to savor Advent (and focus on finishing the semester).   Not the girls!  They basically dragged me to the car and to the tree lot.  They also did just about all of the decorating, so who can complain!

With handprint ornaments I made when they were four months and 2.5 years old; they've grown!  :-)
Minerva likes the tree...

Friday, November 29, 2019

Walking Food Tour

It's a favorite tradition!  And though most of those who usually join us opted out in fear of Black Friday crowds, in fact the streets were mostly deserted (no traffic) and not many crowds until the very end.

We had intended to start at the Embarcadero, but street parking was all on two-hour meters (even though there was an abundance of it) and the lots were charging upwards of $64, which seemed excessive.  So we reversed out planned route and found a lot near Union Square for only $21 for the day.

We started in Chinatown, noticing the two "Michael" stores on either side of each other, named for Michael Jackson after he spent $1M at each.  Then we found our intended first food destination:  milky boba tea, apparently a hot fad.  Uck.  Worth trying, but uck (IMHO).  From there, we found moon cakes and sesame almond balls at a Chinese bakery.  I've rarely seen Chinatown so empty - it was great.  We walked it's length and then wandered through North Beach.  The kids got ice cream sandwiches near the Beatnik museum and we walked my Mom over there, since she hadn't been there before (they had).  Then we wandered past the always-closed focaccia place (we tried!) and up steep stairs to Coit Tower. Beautiful views outside, beautiful murals inside.  Then we went down a different, steeper set of mostly-brick stairs to the now-close Julius' Castle restaurant, with its view of the bay.  Then back toward the Financial District, or at least views of it, as we wandered back to North Beach for slices of pizza.  Then back through a less touristy/more authentic street through Chinatown.  We saw a gorgeous rainbow through the buildings and actually turned the corner to find, unexpectedly, several Chinese dragons dancing down the street to loud drums.  From there we walked to to Union Square.  Here we found the craziest crowds and a LOT of police, even on the rooftops!  This we found a little disconcerting (why so many?) so we checked out the awesome gingerbread houses at the St. Francis and then headed out.  Short-ish for a walking tour day (5 hours), but given our timeframe and the rain, pretty perfect.

Stop 1:  Boba Tea
Stop 2 was for moon cakes (no photo).  Stop 3 was for these ice cream sandwiches in North Beach
Headed up to Coit Tower
From Coit Tower, overlooking the bay and Financial District

Interior shot of a Coit Tower mural
Overlooking the Golden Gate from the Coit Tower parking lot (also not overly crowded)

One of the incredible ginger bread houses at the St. Francis

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving Helpers

K set this photo up.  Both girls did a ton to help with the Thanksgiving meal.  We brought tofurkey, cranberry sauce, yam and cranberry casserole, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie, cheesecake, roasted veggies with garbanzos flavored with harissa on sweet potato hummus, and baked pasta.  Preparing it was only half the work; transporting it and then cleaning up was way more!

Puck and Minerva were good sports about the whole "let's put an apron and some flour on you" set up by K.  Cuties, they are!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Civil War Reenactment

This was perfectly timed - the day after watching "Across," and so set in the same era.  The setting was great - I love the brussel sprout fields of Half Moon Bay!  We'd never before visited the Johnson House, built there in 1853, even before our house.  It was beautifully furnished and costumed docents did a great job with explaining the history.  The battle was a bit hard to see - the view of most of us in the seating area was blocked by pit toilets, but it is always interesting to watch a battle, including gunfire and cannon.  The reenactor who spoke to the crowd specifically encouraged women to get involved as reenactors, shouting, "there is no reason that women should be shut out of understanding history!"  I think the girls would like that... maybe!

Cool view from interior of house

At the end, setting off gunfire together

House, battlefield, and camps in rear

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Previewing the Movie "Across"

We joined friends to preview the movie "Across," which is about the life of Father Augustus Tolton, considered by some to be the first African American priest in the United States.  There's a push to have him canonized and the movie is intended to support that effort.  His life story is certainly poignant - born into slavery, escaped with his mother, brother, and infant sister.  Denied entrance into many theological schools.  Prevailed and was ordained.  The movie had terrible directing, but it left me wanting to learn more about an extraordinary person. 

Thursday, October 31, 2019


The girls were "Good Janet" (G on left) and "Bad Janet" (K on right).  Their friends were a dwarf planet, a character from Lord of the Rings, and "Mr. Smarty Pants" (with 'smarties' on his pants).  (Mr. SP was going to go as a gravestone with "anti-vaxxers in five years" written on it, but decided that would anger some friends, so....)

Minerva and Puck as sports fans (hard to tell, but she has a Warriors shirt on and he has a Giants shirt)

Puck as a lion

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Local Wildlife

After seeing coyotes in the City over the weekend, I was glad to find these beauties (and nothing bigger) on a morning walk (although the pelicans are so large and in such a pack that they were themselves a floating, eating, pack of carnivores.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Death and the Artist

 An event K worked.  On the right, G is on stage in the "tree" that "captured death" until chaos reigned and interventions were necessary.  It was... an experience.  Some of the acting was very good.  Some of the concepts were interesting.  And some things made just no sense at all, like starting it in 1850 and immediately referencing cell phones and television.  But it was about immigration and classism and addressed philosophical issues about what matters in life and while it mixed up its historic context, the topics are ones always worth ongoing conversation.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Field Trip to Aircraft Museum

We'd been there before, but H. had not.  He's so much fun to hang with, enthusiastic about everything, laughing and exploring.  Worth playing hooky from school work for!  And the museum looked very cool, all decorated for Halloween.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019