Monday, September 7, 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Girl Time

This week the sisters/aunts/moms and daughters/nieces/cousins had some great girl bonding time. None of us have ever been very good at doing the girlie girl thing, but it was suggested by Aunt Sharon that we need not deprive our daughters of such pleasures, so we all went into the city, had a nummy lunch at La Boulange, bought a bunch of candy at The Candy Store, then had our toes and fingers done. Thanks Aunt Shen!

Down the line from left to right: Ember, Zoe, Haley, Ruth, Joanne, Sharon. Here's a fun game: try to match up the toes below with the girlie girl above. I'll post the answers tomorrow. :)

The answers from top to bottom: Zoe, Ember, Joanne, Sharon, Ruth, Haley

Summer Sigh...

We live in the most idyllic neighborhood. And while I won't tell you the actual street, it's even right there in the name. Down a couple blocks are tennis courts surrounded by big shady trees. A creek runs through the neighborhood and there are lots of pretty bridges to cross it while on the many walking trails. Near the tennis courts is a great big grassy green field perfect for playing fetch. There is a playground and community pool with the most amazing views of the rolling Marin hills.
The recreation department offers up so many great programs for the kids. I coerced the girls into taking tennis lessons each morning last week, and at the end they came out asking for another session. (I win!) They asked for swim lessons next week, so they'll have to wait until the week after for another round of tennis. What a lovely summer we are having.
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Zoe's Slug Movie

While we were busy around the house on Saturday, Zoe quietly took her digital camera and a tiny tripod and made a little movie using colored "blue-tack".

I give you: Zoe's Slug Movie:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Father's Day Feast

Joanne made an amazing meal for Father's Day. I wasn't allowed to do anything, so instead I made hot sauces with the girls.

The Menu:

Grill-Roasted Spatchcocked Whole Chickens cooked over charcoal with hickory chips for smoke
Alabama white barbeque sauce
Twice-cooked New Potatoes ("Smooshed Potatoes" she calls them)
Fresh Corn on the Cob
Homemade Rhubarb Pie with Homemade Crust
Four Homemade Hot Sauces!

If you've never had roasted chicken on the grill with Alabama White Barbeque Sauce, you haven't yet lived. I like "regular" bbq sauce too, but white bbq sauce is something of its own.

"Smooshed" potatoes:

Fresh corn on the cob:

Homemade Rhubarb Pie:

But what's a feast without Hot Sauce? I spent an hour or so in the kitchen with the girls whipping up a batch or three of sauce with some peppers we'd bought earlier in the day at a local market. We bought some Fresno's (my new favorite sauce base) Habaneros and some Serranos.

Here's the feast with the sauces:

The girls made labels. That's my "Nazi-Face Melter" on the left, followed to the right by "Sour Hot Sauce", "Brain Rain" and "Happy Hot Sauce" and my unlabelled Habanero-Serrano-Cilantro-Lime sauce. Haley wanted to make a really sour hot sauce, so we made one:

"Sour Hot Sauce"
4 Fresno Peppers
Juice of three lemons

In case you can't tell, on the label that's a hot pepper holding hands with a lemon. They're friends in sauce.

Zoe wanted to make a sauce that was hotter and had fresh herbs in it. She called it "Brain Rain"

"Brain Rain"
3 Fresno Peppers
1 Serrano Pepper
Juice of half a lemon
Juice of half a lime
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 tsp fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp fresh parsley

And here's my concoction of the day,

Habanero-Serrano-Cilantro Sauce
7 Orange Habanero Peppers
4 Serrano Peppers
Juice of half a lemon
Juice of 1 1/2 limes
1 tbs fresh Cilantro
3/4 cup white vinegar
Freshly ground Black Pepper

Here's the lineup:

Hot Sauce was from last week when I did Fresnos, vinegar and salt. It was my first sauce, and wasn't very hot hence the "Happy" part.

Though I can say we were all happy as we gathered around the table on Sunday!

Friday, April 24, 2009

You know, it's just going well.

It occurred to me today that my life is going really well.

For me, it's difficult to allow myself that thought as it's usually followed by something like "NO!  You can't think that.  Don't jinx it!  Knock on wood!" or the like, but today as I was standing in the shower in the locker room at work after riding my bike to work for the fifth day running I hazarded that sentiment without fear.

The girls are thriving in school.  We're closer than ever with our family (save a few notable and unfortunate exceptions.)  We have our pets back in our home and they're adjusting and starting to behave like themselves again.  Our garden is growing.  My job is going well and work satisfaction is high.

This moment seems like a milestone because all of our "in transition" elements have finally come to rest.  Our shipment arrived so we have our stuff and our pets are back home.  Those were the last two cylinders to tumble into place.

Our New Zealand Adventure now seems like what it was, an incredible learning experience in every possible way without which I'd never be feeling the profound sense of peace that I'm feeling right now.  I'm grateful for having had that experience and for those support of those who made it possible.  But today I'm mainly just feeling good that life is going well.

Friday, April 3, 2009


Our landlord graciously agreed to let us dig up a grassy corner of our back yard that seemed perfectly suited for a vegetable garden.  Over the course of two weekends and a little more weekday work we dug up the grass, loosened the soil, amended it and planted a full vegetable garden to feed us during the Summer.

I was sore for four days after this.  I could barely walk the next day.

Haley and Zoe cared for a few of the denizens that were displaced by our farming.  These included a yellow spotted salamander and a skink of some kind.

We put the girls to work, and they were very helpful.

Here's the finished product.

Here's a sub-garden just for herbs.

Labelled herbs.

The full garden.

Labelled plantings.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Our Family as Leeches

As rendered by Haley.
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Is this interesting any more?

Is there any point in blogging?  Sorry, I think I'm going to do a "why do I blog?" post which I'm pretty sure is like writing a term paper about procrastination or apologizing for the lack of website updates.  Yawn.

We started the 4kiwiwannabes blog as a way of documenting our "adventure" overseas in New Zealand.  Presumably an interesting enterprise that would be be interesting to people who were curious about New Zealand, curious about us, or curious about what happens to people who try to reboot their lives midway through life and do something different.  It had a purpose, and I felt that when I posted, I had genuinely interesting things to write about.  There was fertile ground for compare-and-contrast type of observations, lots of new experiences to describe and so forth.

Now that we're back in Marin is there any point to maintaining a blog of our very ordinary "adventures" in the mundane?  Is there any adventure to be had?  Is any of this interesting?  What's the point?

No, seriously, what's the point?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

We're In.

What started the last week of January is now finished on the last day of the last week of February.

It took us just over a month to go from living in a little house in Ngaio in Wellington New Zealand to be living in a little house in Lucas Valley in San Rafael California.

The last month of our lives has been moving through compartments.  We'd open a door in front of us, close the one behind us, and move forward--never to return.  First it was our house, then our hotel in downtown Wellington CBD.  Next it was a hotel in Terra Linda, and finally to our new rental house.  Each time we moved from airlock to airlock, shoving all of our crucial belongings out in front of us, and sighing with relief at each stage.

Big sighs tonight.  Big big sighs.  The steady state of Marinite life that we'd missed so dearly for the last year has been re-established.  All together now---and from the shoulders:


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Everything's Exactly the Same. Except for the Different Bits

So yeah, we're back.  And it's like we never left, except for all the new stuff, stuff that's gone, and stuff that's just... different.

The girls have commented that New Zealand feels like it was just a dream.  I get that too---in some ways it seems so improbable that only a few weeks ago we were sitting in a house north of Wellington.  Another country, another culture, another land mass in another hemisphere.  Weird.  

I'm back at work already, having clocked a full week of work already and things are the same way at work as they are in general.  Intense familiarity and comfort flecked with bits of the strange and unknown.  Much of the last bits of code I wrote are still in use at work, but there's tons of new stuff and a new overall organization to things that makes the familiar slightly unfamiliar.  A lot of water has passed under that bridge while I was gone---yet I feel at home amidst my coworkers.

We're still in between countries in some ways... using a hotel room as our bedroom and spending daytimes either at work (for me) or at Ruth's or friends' (for everyone else.)  Soon we'll have a house rented and be able to move our suitcases full of stuff into a big empty house that echoes with the lack of our stuff in it.  

A home isn't about a house full of stuff.  We've learned that.  But it is at least a house with some stuff in it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

We're Back

Home is where the heart is.

And right now my heart is in Marin.

After 26 hours of plane travel and airports and recycled air, we're at our journey's end at last: a hotel in San Rafael.  I have almost no energy left, mental or otherwise, but I wanted to post something before turning in tonight---after two long Wednesdays full of planes, trains and automobiles (without the trains.)

The Ruths pulled out all of the stops for us, retrieving a Zachary's Pizza from Berkeley at some point during the day so that we could feast together at their house prior to turning in at the hotel.  We were greeted at the airport by their clan and Sharon, faces pressed to the glass just on the other side of the security checkpoint, as we shambled down the walkway from the gate.  Our two groups crushed together in a cloud of hugs and kisses and ooh'ing and aah'ing at heights (up for the kids) and weights (down for the grownups) and Zoe broke out the Burger Rings while airport staff tried to squeeze past our throng with their carts and trolleys.

We collected our bags, moved them to the parking lot and then immediately set about the comfortable and familiar madness of group problem-solving for arranging the bags in the cars, picking seating and getting the carts back to the building.  It felt like home in all of its frantic, erratic and ecstatic glory.

I'd like to say something deep and meaningful and philosophical at this point.  Something that sums up our last twelve months in such a way as to set a tone for the immediate future... but I can't.  So instead, I'm going to go to sleep.  It won't be the restless and halting sleep of someone with too many loose ends to keep abreast of, or the cramped and desperate sleep of someone strapped to a bolted-down metal airplane chair but the satisfied and restful sleep of reaching your destination and being able to sigh a deep full-body cleansing sigh of contentment.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Beginning of the End or the End of the Beginning?

I'm not sure which, but here we are after nearly a year in Wellington, New Zealand, on the eve of the day we return to life in the States. I'm sad and happy and pensive and giddy all at the same time. I've got the sense that life here is fleeting too fast and that I can't grab enough of it while it's still here. I think I'll look back on it from afar and think, "Why the hell didn't I take advantage while I could?" I'm not sure what of, though.

Cheers, Wellington, and hello Marin!