Thursday, December 31, 2009

Notthat year in review

One of the best things about having this blog sort of thing is that it works out as a pretty good diary. Mush reminded me this morning that today is the end of 2009, so I went back and looked at the year's postings (114 of them compared to only 82 in 2008) to remind myself of the things that happened.

But first a quiz: did I have more posts with grandkids or The Boy?

January - This month started with The Boy on crutches. In spite of that, him, Mrs Notthat, and I all headed to the LA area, with the highlight being watching a taping of the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. When we returned, The Boy started in the Skyline College automotive program. Another semi-significant event was that Mrs Notthat and I started playing with Facebook. I had figured that this would reduce the number of posts I would make through the year, but it hasn't, mostly because a lot of people that read these posts are too smart to get involved with Facebook.

February - The Boy got rid of his crutches and started driving again. I obsessed a bit with the bathroom habits of my coworkers and how challenged they are when it comes to disposing of the paper towels after washing their hands. (Really!) And we had a great Pansy Day.

March - Riley ended up in the hospital. Twice. This happened WAY too often this year. Darci also got into the act on one of these occasions, ending up sharing a room with Riley.

April - I had my first x-ray of something other than a tooth - my right knee started giving me trouble. So naturally I started a summer walking program with San Jose Fit. The Boy bought a Jeep! And a group of us went to a cold Giants game ("Cheeeezebooooger" - still sends chills through me).

May - The Boy took the top off his Jeep (which remained off until October). I had an MRI on my knee. The walking program was not bothering it though, so I ended up leaving it alone. We had one of our large backyard BBQs.

June - Mrs Notthat and I headed up north to Lassen National Park and then on to Oregon to stay in a treehouse for a few nights. This trip involved zip lines, tie-dying, and us buying Mickey Moose. Riley ended up in the hospital again. The Boy ended up with a snake in his room. We had another of our large backyard BBQs.

July - The fourth was spent watching the Stanford and UC Davis bands put on another of their great shows in RWC. Mrs Notthat and The Boy headed off to Germany. The Boy and I went to the Fire Arts Festival, put on by The Crucible in Oakland. And Riley made another trip to the hospital (weirdly, as he was being released, Darci turned up at the emergency room, although she ended up avoiding being admitted).

August - Mrs Notthat and I went camping. Cousin Jay from Missouri visited. I swapped out the garage door - a much more painful process than I had bargained for. The Boy and I built a large enclosure for the snake.

September - The Boy bought a new bike using eBay, which proved much harder to do than you would think. We sealed the deck. Mrs Notthat and I spent a day at The Crucible learning to MIG weld, cut with plasma, and torment copper.

October - We put up the awning over the newly sealed deck. Mrs Notthat headed off to Missouri for Cousin Barry's wedding. And I did the amazing (for me) - I walked a marathon! This was the single coolest athletically-inclined thing I think I've ever done.

November - We bought a new minivan. We thought we could get by with just normal cars, but too often we found ourselves needing more room, and now we've got it. My parents visited us, which involved a LOT of very cool quilts and a few garage sales. The Boy had his wrist operated on. Mrs Notthat surprised me by agreeing to join the San Jose Fit winter program with me. Surprise number two was that she is a stud at this walking thing. Riley ended up in the hospital again, this time being significantly worse than the previous visits.

December - I began work on a treehouse sort of thing for the grandkids. Mrs Notthat, The Boy, and I spent a few days in Auberry, playing with dogs, goats, snow, and mud. Mrs Notthat headed back with the grandkids for a few more days of fun.

And that's about it. The year had its ups and downs, but all years have those. Sadly, Danni has had to spend the last two weeks in the hospital, which has robbed a lot of fun from this holiday break. But on Saturday morning Mrs Notthat and I walk a hill-infested 10K (6.2 miles) and will get medals! Plus, I believe there are a few football games being played over this weekend.

Naturally I will be sound asleep as 2010 rolls in - I can't remember the last time I stayed up on New Years Eve, and with my cold lingering on, I need all the rest I can get for Saturday.

That's it - move along...

PS: The Boy beat the grandkids 36 to 33. Hopefully next year's totals will involve fewer surgeries and hospital visits though.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Snowy grandkids and The Boy gets whipped

Mrs Notthat made it back last night from three days in the Greater Auberry Metro Area with the grandkids. The kids LOVED it up there and did not want to leave. (I can imagine that the local wildlife and others may be enjoying the sudden quiet though.)

This is one of the few times that all three kids were being quiet and somewhat still (they are watching a DVD on a screen about twice as big as an iPhone). Shortly after this picture was taken, chaos broke out and all was back to normal.

Here they are trying on their snow pants. Riley was a tiny bit wound up.

The next morning Nermac (not her real name) and Darci were swinging, after a fashion. Note that Nermac has her boots on. Odd.

Riley loved feeding the goats. He spent a lot of time handing them straw.

I can't really explain this picture. Either Riley is in the middle of some complicated yoga thing ("getting centered") or he really doesn't want to be bothered.

Darci and Nermac on their rock.

Once they were done rocking out (yes, I really am just that clever!), they headed back to the swings. All still have proper footwear on. Maybe it was just when I was around that Nermac felt she had to remove her boots to swing.

Evad had to go check something on the back 40, and naturally all the kids wanted to go.

Finally on Monday, they headed to the real snow!

This thing is intended to be stood on to ride, but Riley liked doing his own thing with it.

Darci learning the harsh lesson that what slides downhill must be dragged back up if you want to slide again.

Murphy the Wind-Up Dog hears a dead gopher in the woods.

Yram and Darci take a ride on the Widowmaker.

Yram pretending to be a sled dog (with Murphy providing tips and encouragement). Darci learning the not harsh at all lesson that sometimes you can con an adult into pulling you back to the top of the hill.

Building a snowman. They went to the same place we went to before, but almost all evidence of the snow things we made on Thursday were gone.

Finally it was time to get out of the snow clothes and into a dry, warm van and head home. Mrs Notthat had done such a good job sealing Riley's pants to his boots that they stayed together.

Here are a couple of sunset pictures Mrs Notthat took just before heading home.

It's so weird to be above the clouds like this.

And on the home front, all the pieces for The Boy's 102" whip CB antenna finally came in, and he mounted it today. This thing is REALLY tall and will probably end up annoying even him fairly soon as it smacks into tree branches and such while driving down the street.

But it certainly looks cool.

That's it - move along...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A couple of quick things

First, Mrs Notthat is back in the Auberry Metro Area with the grandkids and the bonus of a miserable, raging cold. I told her she shouldn't breathe in any air I've coughed in, but she can be stubborn that way. I haven't heard much about how it is going up there, other than upon arrival they spied a bobcat casing the joint (probably scared away by Mika the Amazing Barking Machine) and that Riley has a knack for feeding goats. They all come home tomorrow and I can't wait. (There had better be pictures though!)

Second, I have often joked that it was a good thing that the shoe bomber, the guy personally responsible for us having to take our shoes off at the airport, did not pack explosives in his underwear.

Well guess what - now that's now been done by a moronic Nigerian on a flight to Detroit. I've heard no word that we will need to start removing our underwear at the security checkpoints, but I'm sure we are getting very close to complete strip searches at some point in the near future. (Seriously!) Apparently the current response is to force passengers to sit in their seats with nothing in the laps for the last hour of a flight. This is based on the sound reasoning that a terrorist will not think go into action at any point before this.

This makes no sense and just certifies my desire to never fly again unless there really is no other option (including paddling a canoe to Hawaii). I'm not worried about my plane going down - I'm just tired of the crap we have to go through to get on a plane; crap that almost nobody believes really does that much good.

This Nigerian guy's dad warned the US a month ago that they should watch out for him. The US thanked the dad and filed the info next to where it keeps other valuable things (like its conscience when it comes to useful health care reform).

Granted, the dad probably followed up the warning with an offer to make the US very wealthy if only it would allow him to temporarily transfer some funds from a failed failed business deal to their account for a few days.

That's it - move along...(and I'm really sorry if the "moving along" involves a plane flight for you)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Auberry trip day three

My cold was at its worst yesterday (Friday), so I didn't get out much. We still ended up with a few pictures.

Nitsuj (not his real name, husband of Yram, dad of Nermac, tolerator of Murphy the dog) showed up Thursday night. His main goal for the weekend is to get his 56 Ford pickup ready to drive back to the Bay Area. This involves a variety of odds and ends plus some bonus work due to mice gnawing on wires.

This is destined to become a table base. Evad, Nitsuj's dad, turns things like this, that most people think of as firewood, into really nice things. The bonus is that he doesn't have to deal with mice gnawing on its wires.

One interesting thing that I forgot to mention earlier, the shop does not have proper garage doors yet. To keep the wide variety of area wildlife from taking advantage of the shop during the cold nights, Evad keeps a radio playing a local rock station. And it apparently works.

The Boy hanging with the dogs. The big red one is Makita the Akita, competing with Murphy for something (dead gopher?), with Mika (the emergency backup dog whose name I couldn't remember previously) hanging on The Boy's back. (Note: I have little worry about dogs suing me for slander, so I feel safe using their real names. Actually, I should be a bit worried about Makita.)

Here are The Boy and Mrs Notthat enjoying the peace and quiet (and view) at Yram's Let Things Be rock.

And here is Yram and Murphy also at the rock.

Most of this was going on while I was laying in bed, wishing for a new body. The other thing that happened while I was dying was that Mrs Notthat cooked up a plan to drive back up here the next day with the grandkids.

The grandkids were really bummed last Wednesday when they heard we were going up to play in the snow and they weren't going along. So now they will get their chance. The Boy will stay here and go to work, I will stay home and try to recover (which may involve some sports on TV), and Mrs Notthat will spend the next three days trying to keep the grandkids from over-tormenting the dogs, cats, goats, chickens, and others that will be around there. Bears and mountain lions will give the place a wide berth.

In any case, Mrs Notthat and The Boy took turns driving home, with Mrs trying to remember all the various turns and such for when she drives back - leaving a trail of breadcrumbs might have been a good idea. (Why is it that the best places require you to be a professional tracker to find them? Well, actually, that's probably a large part of what makes them great.)

That's it - move along...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Auberry trip day two

Today's big plan was to play in the snow a bit. Today's big plan did not involve being jarred awake at 5 AM with snow sliding from the main roof to the porch roof.

I probably should have been a bit more alarmed since the van was parked under the porch roof, but 5 AM is early to be worrying about such things (it turned out that the snow was just piling up on the porch roof, so there was no reason to worry after all).

Last night we had Kemosabe the cat stay with us. I probably don't need to tell anyone about what a night with a cat can be like, but it wasn't that bad outside of the walking on the keyboard thing. The Boy loves this cat though, and has spent a lot of time humoring it.

The first outdoor event turned out to be riding the ATV to some rock formation that may or may not contain a black bear family (none were seen - I'm telling you, these people out here are from a hardier stock than me). Note that this ATV is designed to seat one person.

We then hiked up to their pond, which was partially frozen over. The Boy and Nermac (yes, I did misspell her coded name yesterday after all) spent a lot of time throwing whatever they could find onto the ice to either punch a hole it or to make it ring with these awesome noises you normally only hear in a Star Wars movie.

By this time Nermac was the only one still throwing stuff on the ice. Murphy was recovering from an adventure when he bizarrely decided to walk out onto the ice (maybe he saw a dead penguin on the other side) which naturally caused the ice to break up and ended up getting him soaked.

While waiting to load up and head to the snow, Nermac naturally wanted to swing. Two things to note: 1) She has her boots on, but that's only because I put them on her - minutes earlier she was completely barefoot; 2) To torment her a bit I tucked in one pant leg and put the other over her boot. If I wasn't such a good swing pusher that kid would haul off and smack me. (And I'd deserve it.)

After stopping for pizza, we finally headed up to some serious snow.

Here is Nermac going on the first saucer ride of the day.

This is shortly after that. Inexplicably, her mom (Yram) was the one covered in snow. The Boy is getting ready to make a run on the Widowmaker Toboggan. We have had this thing for a long time and it is the fastest, most out of control thing on snow. Naturally, it is our favorite.

Nermac, Yram, and Mrs Notthat made several injury-free runs on it.

I'm not sure I can explain this picture. The Boy was determined to ride his snowboard down this snow mound. It was difficult, however, for him to get strapped in without slipping and falling. So Yram and Mrs Notthat held the board while The Boy posed for Snow Stud of the Weak.

The Boy has had this snowboard for at least two years and has never been able to use it for one reason or another (mostly due to knee surgeries). Today was his chance, and while these weren't world-class hills, he looked pretty good shooshing down them.

Mrs Notthat posing by the snowperson she finished (which involved most of us to put together). There was a lot of snow, but it was not easy to get it to pack well.

Speaking of packing snow, these guys filled the truck bed with snow and hauled it back to Fresno where their kids could play in it without it being so cold. Californians: We Want It All!

Our van with the implements of snow destruction.

The Boy trying to find the snowboard path with the most rocks, trees, and other things that make snowboarding difficult.

And lastly, my little weird snow sculpture sort of thing.

It was a great day with almost no frostbite. The only bad news is that I seem to be coming down with a cold. I'm not sure what is on tap for today (Friday) other than packing up and heading home. Hopefully we will get to have a bit more fun before then though.

That's it - move along...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Auberry trip day one

We left this morning for a quick trip to see a bit of snow and a part of California that we are not all that familiar with - the Auberry metropolitan area. Joining Mrs Notthat, The Boy, and I on the trip were Yram (not her real name), her daughter Neremac (not her real name either, and I'm probably misspelling it in any case), and their wind up dog Murphy (his real name). Yarm's husband Nitsuj will join us tomorrow night. The place we are staying at belongs to Nitsuj's parents Evad and Yhtak.

Our van seats eight and holds an amazing amount of stuff. Since there were only five of us and we were only going to be gone two nights, you would have thought this would be a piece of cake.

Ha! We did manage to squeeze everything in, but just barely.

Auberry is a nice little town of about 2000 people sitting at about 2000 feet above sea level. Where we were going though was a few miles west of town and straight up a mountain. I'm not sure what the elevation is here, but it's high enough to have some snow.

Yram called Evad as we were getting close to find out whether the road to their place was safe for a pretty minivan - the answer was no since it had warmed up enough for the snow to melt and make a muddy mess of things. So we parked the van and waited for Evad to pick us up. Above is Mrs Notthat admiring the view, which is quite breathtaking.

Evad showed up with a huge diesel truck (The Boy said "Yes!") and we moved all our stuff over to it. The plan is to go get the van in the evening once the road has a chance to freeze up a bit. (The dog in that picture is Murphy.)

Neremac had grown up around here and was thrilled to be back. Apparently a local custom is to kick off your boots before swinging. (It was probably in the mid 40s at this time. No way I'm kicking my boots off.)

Everyone in this picture looks like they are standing around in mourning for the dead gopher that Makita (the Akita standing next to Mrs Notthat) found somewhere and felt she needed to bring to us. Actually, I think they were trying to work out where to put it so that it wouldn't make a return visit, which I'm pretty sure it did at least once more.

Here you see Murphy annoying Makita, which seems to be his primary goal in life (when he's not dragging dead rodents to the doorstep).

And here is their Emergency Backup Dog, whose name I forget but I'm pretty sure it wasn't a power tool.

And here The Boy gets in a staring contest with the start of their goat herd.

Here Neremac is doing her best Super Hero pose, or something like that. She is so in her element out here in the country. (And thankfully is back in her boots too.)

This is the shop with attached apartment that Evad and Yhtak have been working to build since they moved to this area a few years ago. The shop is huge and impressive, the apartment is still pretty unfinished, but will work great for us to use while we are here. They live in a trailer next to the shop.

And this is the view they have to put up with, being way up on this mountain.

The Boy is in love with this place and would love to turn his Jeep loose up here. The mud, the snow, the nearly navigable roads are all calling to him.

Tomorrow we are going to try to find lots of snow to play in, which I doubt will be hard to do at all. Hopefully the tire chains will keep nice and dry in the back of the van.

That's it - move along...