Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cherries, shelves, and a B&B infested vacation

Our cherry tree is heavy with cherries. Many are turning red but we want to wait to pick them until they are really ripe. The neighborhood squirrels and birds aren't so picky, so in an effort to at least slow them down a bit I have wrapped the lower part of the tree in netting.

We planted the tree four years ago. (That day is easy to remember since it was the day that the grandkid's dad, NCN - Needs Cool Name -  came over and said he needed to ask us something. Mrs Notthat and I were up to our elbows in the hole we had dug, and each wildly, but silently, speculating as to what this could possibly be about. It turned out to be good news - he was asking our permission to ask WHM - Weird Haired Mom - to marry him. Yes, it was a happy day and WHM even managed to get the answer right when he popped the question to her a few days later.)

This is the first year that I have not been able to cover most of the tree. I swear the birds were smirking and the squirrels were watching how I worked the ladder very carefully. Hopefully next weekend will be harvest time and we will still have most of the crop to ourselves.

Mrs Notthat is very good at sniffing out bargains, using a combination of and She also does not handle clutter very well, especially when it is mine. So she has had her eye out of a bookshelf to put along my side of the bed so that I can organize my clutter a bit better. 

Yesterday she hit the jackpot - a guy was giving away a couple of oak bookshelves. The only problem is that since we got rid of the minivan, we don't have a very good way to pick up that sort of thing. The Boy let us use his Jeep though, and it worked well, even if it looked a bit goofy.

And here is the bookshelf in its place. Mrs sees this as an improvement and I see it as proof I need to get more books.

This is going to be a very bloggable week for us (assuming we are able to find internet connections). This is the last week that WHM has off before her summer session at school starts up, so Mrs and I are heading out on a week long tour of peculiar Bed and Breakfasts. 

On Monday we head up to Lassen Volcanic Park and a B&B named after a holy dog (St Bernard Lodge). They claim hearty breakfasts and some wireless internet. We've never been to this area of the state before so it should be interesting. The main road through the park is still closed due to snow, but we are hopeful it will be open by Tuesday.

After that we head up to a peculiar place in southern Oregon where you sleep in treehouses. (Ours is Cavaltree.) We've never been there before although I've tried a couple of times and they never had anything available. This time we had a choice of treehouses - I suspect this is due to the economy. 

In any case, this place is technically a B&B, providing breakfasts and bathrooms at the end of the hall (which means climbing down a ladder and walking 100 feet or so to get to the hall). They have a series of zip lines you can use for daytime adventure - Mrs Notthat seems to think I've agreed to try them out but my squeamishness about heights begs to differ. So we will see.

We don't have planned stops for the way home - we intend to drive back by way of the coast and Eureka (another place we have never been). The Boy will be staying home, working and enjoying his first week out of school. Our normal house- and dog-sitter, Ines (not his real name), will also be at the house, much to Idiot Dog Teddy's relief since IDT is fond of regular feedings and full water bowels while The Boy is mostly fond of his Jeep and his computer.

So here's to disappointed squirrels and birds, an end (HA!) to clutter, working snow plows, and a well fed dog.

That's it - move along... 

Monday, May 25, 2009

Imaginary street repair

We were not allowed to park on the street from 7 AM to noon last Friday so that the city could fix the roadway. Random white lines were painted all over the street several months ago to indicate sections that needed to be repaired. There were no actual potholes - just some cracks that, suitably nurtured and encouraged, could one day grow up to be Race Car swallowing crevices. 

I took this set of pictures at about 8 AM, just after the last few cars were dutifully moved off the street. Parking on the street is always somewhat challenging - not quite up to, say, what you have in a typical San Francisco neighborhood, but more crowded than you should have to deal with while living in the suburbs. 

Most of the problem is due to the houses along the right side of the picture - there are three duplexes, each with about eight vehicles, along with our neighbor and his yellow work trucks (you can see one to the left - our house is the one with the silver Camry's butt sticking out a bit).

The good news is that people do tend to at least vaguely try to respect the areas in front of other people's houses - while we have four vehicles, we are almost always able to park two in front of the house and two in the driveway. The duplex across the street uses their front lawn to hold their overflow, and most houses don't hesitate to block the sidewalk or park across their driveway. What also helps is that the end of the cul-de-sac (French for "bottom of the bag" - I'm not making that up) does not contain any houses, so there is open parking that can hold four vehicles as long as they all park diagonally (which is also illegal, but I don't think anyone has ever been ticketed for that).

In any case, it was interesting to see the street so wide open (not counting the basketball goal), if only for a few hours. A city van came by a little after 10 AM and picked up all the "No Parking" signs and the event was over with the roadway unimproved. Sadly this means we will have to go through this again later, although with the state's money woes, it might not be soon.

That's it - move along...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day weekend BBQ with frostbite

We had a BBQ last night for Lihp and Elocin (not their real names) who moved to Oregon about a year ago. This was a chance for a number of friends to get together and reminisce about old times, eat some food, and, as it turned out, shiver.

Mrs Notthat and I set up almost a dozen tables in the backyard. This was after spending a couple of days forcing the backyard to recover from the ravages of a brutal winter. (Note the absurdly optimistic use of umbrellas for shade. Little did we know that we would shortly be considering burning those umbrellas for heat.)

From the backyard looking up onto the deck, which hasn't looked this organized since last fall.

A few brave souls tried eating outside early on, but the cold wind quickly made this a losing proposition. In the end, most of the tables we had scientifically positioned for ease of use and maximum efficiency were never touched, and we all headed inside.

Most of the women crowded around the dining room table...

...while most of the men stood in the kitchen.

One of the couples brought their five-year-old daughter Eisoj (not her real name either - one of the funniest moments of the evening was Riley charging through the living room calling "Where's that girl? Hey girl!" We pointed to Darci and he said "That's not the girl - that's Darci."). Eisoj and the grandkids got along very well, and while they were determined to cover the floor with every toy or toy-like thing they could find, they also cleaned up the mess later (I suspect with lots of help).

I love the expression on The Boy's face (that's a watermelon rind in his mouth) when Riley came running through the living room trying to wear a recently emptied toy container as a hat.

And of course Idiot Dog Teddy loved all the attention. A few guests were a little nervous around him, but most loved how well behaved he was. For his part, IDT was disappointed since outdoor eating usually means lots of small, unguarded treasures to eat. You just don't get those sorts of opportunities indoors (unless lots of kids are involved).

The evening turned out fine. I could have cooked more meat (latecomers were forced to survive on the salads) and the weather could have cooperated at least a little bit, but everyone had a good time and there was never a need to call the police.

That's it - move along...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lego my Eggo

We had the grandkids over on Saturday while WHM interviewed for a school grant. ("Where do you see yourself in ten years, Mrs. WHM?" A bit of a pause, then "With an uncontrollable teenage daughter and a rambunctious son heading to middle school, I'll probably be ready for the nut house, if I'm not already there. Oh wait - you mean professionally. I'll be wherever you think I should be if it gets me this grant.")

Darci showed up with fancy makeup, courtesy of her mother. (Her face is a bit messy due to her insisting on having ketchup with her eggs.)

The kids are currently into Legos. Mrs Notthat became a hero when she brought out her stash which she had built up from garage sales and such over the years. When combined with the Legos from when WHM and The Boy were kids, there was a pretty impressive pile.

There are lots of mysterious specialty parts that were part of odd kits, such as moon rovers and such things. Darci delighted in taking apart these things, handing me the pile of bits, and telling me to put it back together. Needless to say these never got back together.

In any case, they had a lot of fun fooling with these things and I fought my impulse to try and organize the parts by function, size, and weirdness. 

Darci kept saying "Lego my Eggo!" Are these commercials still on? Where had she heard this? Would she put ketchup on an Eggo waffle?

That's it - move along...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My first MRI

I had to bail on my last knee doctor since, while he was in my health plan's network, the place he does his surgeries was not. 

(Slight tangent: Man I hate the health insurance industry. The whole thing. Except the part my daughter will eventually be working in. Which brings to mind - how odd would it be to be hospitalized and have WHM end up emptying my bedpans. I'd say there is justice somewhere in that but I know that I will probably be pretty vulnerable at that point, and WHM will have already put up with all she can stand raising those two yard apes, so I will not risk saying anything like that at this point. In public.)

As opposed to my warm-up knee doctor, my new knee doctor wanted me to get an MRI and pointed me at a place called Health Diagnostics (their real name) in Burlingame. I made an appointment and the next day they called and made me move it later, right into the heart of rush hour traffic. I showed up for the appointment, filled out four pages of forms, and spent the next 30 minutes trying to find an even vaguely interesting magazine in their waiting room. I could hear the receptionist making calls and trying to talk someone into coming in to deal with me. Eventually, she gave up and told me I'd have to reschedule.

Burlingame during morning rush hour is about a 45 minute drive. So I got her to pick one of their facilities much closer to Redwood City (in Menlo Park) for the next morning.

This morning I filled out those same four pages of forms, had the same poor selection of magazines to choose from, but thankfully had little time to worry about it since a nice young woman with a flower painted on her big toenail took me right in.

If you've never had an MRI, you should sign up for one as soon as you can. (Of course I'm lying.) It actually wasn't that bad. They made me put in earplugs and wear a pair of noise blocking headphones and still it was pretty loud. Imagine bad techno music, sporadic tests of the Emergency Broadcast System, and hyperactive jackhammers taking turns competing for being the most annoying noise for about 15 minutes, all the while you dare not move for fear of having to restart the process. I was very happy when flower-toe lady came in to free me from the device.

(Odd thing - they are very paranoid about you having anything metal on - I had to remove the stud from my pierced belly button.* I asked about my rings and she said those were no problem. Apparently she was right - they did not heat up and sever a finger as I had expected. You can imagine a lot of odd things while trying to lay still for 15 minutes.)

The ironic thing about all this? My knee hasn't hurt for about a week now. My right elbow though...

That's it - move along...

*Oh yeah sure, like that's ever going to happen. (Me piercing my belly button I mean. Some people, like maybe WHM, would have to spend a good 30 minutes getting all that metal out of whatever bizarre places they have it stuck in.)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Grandkids and The Boy goes topless

Mrs Notthat and a shopping buddy headed off to Portland for the weekend to visit mislocated friends. This means a number of things:

1) I had to take Friday off to watch the grandkids. This meant I missed a free showing of the new Star Trek movie at work. (Don't tell Mrs Notthat, but I probably would not have gone to the movie in any case - I'm hoping to use this to my advantage later.)

2) The Boy and I have been eating well. Pizza on Thursday night, steak from the grill on Friday. I think we are having ice cream and popcorn for dinner tonight.

3) I can watch a lot of sports guilt-free. Friday night was a great Giants-Dodgers game. Today was an awful Giants-Dodgers game, some golf, and a bad basketball game.

The first picture shows Darci with some feather-based dress-up stuff from one of Mrs Notthat's friends. A little disturbingly, even Riely seemed to have fun with this stuff, so I took Riley out back and got him to use a pair of vise grips to do manly work.

Special note for Mrs and Weird Haired Mom: Note that he is wearing a hat. This was my idea. Yes, I can be a responsible adult, as long as you don't have too strict of a definition for "responsible." ("When was his diaper last changed" WHM asked when she picked up the kids. "Ummm, diaper?" the responsible adult replied. "Look! He's wearing a hat!")

The Boy has been determined to take the top off his Jeep, especially now that the weather has turned fairly nice. One of the biggest issues is working out where to store it. After poking around on the internet we saw that people generally store the top on its back on a dolly, which we could buy. I voted that we make one.

This is what we came up with (minus a few bits of carpeting in the contact points).

And here's the dolly with the top on it. It is remarkably stable and rolls easily with the casters we added. The top itself was not nearly as heavy as the top from my old Landcruiser. The two of us easily slid it off and set it on the dolly.

A proud Boy and his Jeep. If you look carefully you can see my extremely tacky temporary mounting for the side mirrors.

We should start taking bets for when it will start raining. (For those of you not familiar with our weather, starting at about this time of year and going until October or so we will get no rain at all. There will be some fog and morning dew, but no rain. This makes taking the top off of something like this a fairly safe thing to do. Except for the sunburn.)

Mrs Notthat comes home tomorrow, which means I need to start tidying things up a bit.

And trying to sort out the mysteries of the dishwasher.

That's it - move along...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Walking and walking and shopping

Saturday was filled with two hikes: one early in the morning that was five miles long in the drizzle and another in the afternoon that was about two miles long with Mrs Notthat and IDT.

The first walk was part of my San Jose Fit group. This picture shows most of the walking group (at least those that showed up at 7:30 AM on a non-perky Saturday). In addition to us walkers there are four running groups - about 500 people all together. We are quite a force on the Los Gatos Creek Trail. And probably a big disappointment to the Friday night bars.

Next week we walk six miles, adding a mile per week until we get to thirteen miles. There is also homework to do during the week. For example, I'm supposed to walk 2.5 miles on Monday,  four miles on Wednesday, and three miles on Thursday. It's a bit challenging to find time and motivation to get this done, but so far it's been working out. 

After a bit of a rest, Mrs Notthat, Idiot Dog Teddy, and I headed out to The Baylands trails in Palo Alto for a walk. The Boy and I had been there several times to ride bikes, but this was the first time to walk with the idiot dog. It's a nice change from Bayfront Park where we normally go. I've posted a picture before about this telephone pole farm in the park - it's so odd looking.

Today is a walk-free day. So we went shoe shopping. 

We had both been strongly encouraged to go to a real running shoe store and have a professional poke at our feet and pick out some shoes for us. After walking on a pressure pad and then making a video on a treadmill, the professional told us exactly what sort of shoe we needed (white-ish with weird stripes). 

Eventually we each settled on a pair, picked out some space-age socks and healthy jelly beans, and were done. I spent more money on this pair of shoes than my last four pair combined (I tend to be a bit cheap as you all have probably worked out by now), so this was not an easy process for me. But the last thing I want is a blister or some other shoe-related injury, so it seems worth it. And now that we know what sort of shoe we need, we will each be able to better take advantage of sales in the future.

Although I think my days of $19 shoes are over. 

That's it - move along...

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Boy's Jeep, some grandkids, and dad news

This post is to catch you up on several fronts. (Yes, I know you had no idea you were behind. Management has been notified and are currently forming a committee to ignore this important issue.)

The Boy got his Jeep on Tuesday afternoon. There have been a few minor surprises with it, but for the most part, it has been working out very well. One of the best bits of news was when he told me that driving 55 on the freeway feels like driving 80 in the Race Car. So he is driving slower (which hopefully means that the CHP will have to look elsewhere to write their tickets).

Unfortunately the weather has not been very conducive to taking the top off, which is OK by me since it will take a bit of planning to work out where to store it. For now, he's OK with that, but if summer-ish weather ever actually gets here, this is going to be a high priority.

This morning the grandkids showed up early, so I made them blueberry pancakes and kept them entertained for a bit while Mrs Notthat got ready for the day.

Darci chose to pretend to drive a car. She seemed to be a safe and courteous driver, although she had little sympathy when Idiot Dog Teddy walked in front of her and she nearly hit him.

I love this picture. Last weekend Darci caught a 24 hour bug and we have all been anxious to see how it will affect Riley. Thursday was his day to fight the fever and by this morning he seemed fine. Even so, it is rare that he would lay down like this for more than 15 to 20 seconds in the morning.

Last weekend my dad ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. Actually, one and a half pneumonia (I made that up based on one lung being filled and the second being half filled, or something like that). They've been having very windy weather which has stirred up lots of dust and such, and that probably played a part in all this.

In any case, he is home now, although he is on oxygen for a month or two and has to reduce his activity level for a bit. That last part is probably the hardest for him - he has a hard time sitting around when there are things to be done, but hopefully mother can get him to take it easy, at least for a few days.

And that's about it. Saturday morning I continue my marathon training, and it will likely be a bit moist out. Maybe that will just encourage me to walk faster. Or maybe it will encourage me to sleep in.

That's it - move along...