Archive for April, 2010

Visiting Mar Vista

Earlier this month we drove a couple hours north from Berkeley to stay at the Mar Vista Cottages at Anchor Bay. Mar Vista and Asilomar are our go-to bases for extended weekend beach breaks. The cabins here have cozy beds, nice bathrooms, a full kitchen and no TV or phone. Nettie and Peabody love visiting the goats, gathering eggs from the chickens, hiking around the frog pond and playing on the rope swing. Usually we spend our days at nearby beaches. We were kept indoors, though, on much of this trip due to heavy rain. But we couldn’t have been happier reading, knitting, cooking and playing games near our fireplace. We can’t wait to go back!

Off to Mexico

Today my eigth grade class and I set off for El Molino, a camp in Erongaricuraro, Mexico. There we will attend workshops, such as weaving and animal care, and go on field trips with a school from Chihuahua. We’ll be back in one week and I’ll write about my adventure then!

Game Auction Tomorrow

EndGame is our favorite game store in the East Bay. The mix of family, traditional, European, RPGs and miniature games is superb. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable. About once a month we’ll stop for breakfast at the nearby Cafe 817 and then drop in at EndGame. On one such occasion we visited during their annual game auction. Customers bring in their surplus games which are auctioned off for store credit. We came home with some great deals on that trip. This year we provided a few lots of our own, some kids’ games that we’ve grown out of. The auction is on Saturday. More information can be found here. While Nettie is packing for her 8th grade class trip to Mexico, Peabody and I will be bidding away.

Largest Crayfish of the Year Award!

On Saturday, our family went to Cal Day, when the University of California at Berkeley has its open house. Most of the campus buildings are open for people to look inside and see special displays and do activities. You can also go to the Phoebe Hearst museum for free, as we did, but unfortunately it was a little messy, since they were getting ready for a new Egypt exhibit. We also took our annual trip to the Life Sciences building, where we visited the live kelp forest and the floor of stuffed animals. Cal also has several music concerts, and Mother decided that we should go to the one where they play Baroque(n) instruments, which was quite, um, Baroque(n). Finally, we ended the day with a Strawberry Creek bug hunt. Peabody and I caught many water striders, and Father caught the “largest crayfish found this year!” according to the student who led the expedition.

Twilight Struggle

What do you do when your Tokyo-based brother is in town for just a few precious hours? You take him to your favorite game shop, feed him dinner and then stay up all night playing games. On this visit we played Twilight Struggle. No, it has nothing to do with the relationships of adolescent vampires. Twilight Struggle simulates the Cold-war between the US and USSR. Players vie for influence in different countries and play cards based on historic events. In our conflict, the Bear took an early lead in global influence, with some smart moves in Asia and the Middle East. Using captured German scientists, my brother’s space program was years ahead of my efforts at NASA. But late in the game, the balance of power turned when I was able to add South America and Africa to my sphere of influence through a series of coups and puppet dictatorships. I never landed a man on the moon, and we came close to igniting a nuclear conflagration, but the US successfully won the Cold-war again! I can’t wait for our next match!

Rifle Training

This morning I got up early and went with a friend and her dad to the Richmond Rod and Gun Club to take part in the Smallbore Junior Rifle Training Program. After a gun safety program, we learned how to shoot a .22 rimfire rifle at targets 25 yards away. This was my first time shooting a gun, and the instructor said I did well. Even though it was freezing cold and extremely windy, I had lots of fun, and I learned a lot!

Play Ball

Now that March Madness is behind us, we’re looking forward to the start of baseball season. Annabelle and Nettie have a season pass to the hometown radio broadcasts of the St. Louis Cardinals, streamed over the Internet. We’ll be going to a game later this month when they are in San Francisco for a weekend series against the Giants. To celebrate the start of baseball season, the Missouri History Museum has posted a series of Cardinals baseball photos taken in 1912. This is a photo of Harry “Slim” Sallee who was a left-handed pitcher for the team. There are also some great pictures of Helene Britton, the first woman to own a professional baseball franchise.

Hatched Ladybug Larvae

Before our Spring break, Peabody’s nest of ladybug eggs hatched in the bottle he was keeping them in. We released most of the larvae into the rose bush in front of our house. Ladybugs are quite ugly in the larval stage. Hopefully we’ll see them as aphid eating adults in a few weeks.

Mr. Pancake on Easter


Mr Pancake on Easter

Originally uploaded by Derringdos

Along with some Legos and a lot of chocolate, the Easter Bunny brought Peabody the Klutz Book of Animation. It includes instructions for making your own stop motion animation movies and links to editing software. In Peabody’s first video, Mr. Pancake learns what happens when you eat your weight in Easter chocolate.

Making Chocolate Bunnies

We made chocolate bunnies from the molds I’ve been using since I was a teenager. Only one rabbit came out decapitated and he was quickly patched up by Nettie’s confection surgery skills. The secret to having glossy and smooth Easter bunnies is to use high-quality tempered chocolate. We also used some smaller molds (picture here) and painted Easter eggs (picture here).