Thursday, May 03, 2012

5/2/12 Finding Flowers

Thanks to our lovely new landscape plants, Katrina and I have developed a new habit together. Every day when I get her and Julian home after school (Gabriel has walked home or to his friend's house by then), she and I go investigating the plants to see what's bloomed today. I think she does this moreso because of my enthusiasm and joy about it, but she picks up on it, I think because she likes to see me so happy about something like flowers. So delightful to have a young person carry on my own little quirks!

Yesterday we discovered a Stickey Monkey plant had bloomed with scarlet flowers.

And another Sticky Monkey bloomed with apricot flowers!

We learned from our new landscaper that sticky monkey leaves are called that because the undersides are sticky -- enough that Native Indians used them as organic band-aids. Katrina demonstrates the concept of a Spongebob-free wound protector (the undersides of the leaves are a little sticky).

A few weeks ago, I planted my own native irises, with small (1cm) purple flowers. So pretty, and featured on the cover of my new favorite book, California Native Plants for the Garden

Turns out, we have some of these irises!!! They hadn't bloomed yet, so I didn't recognize their grassy leaves. But their little purple flowers are unmistakeable.

This week I'm in a training class again, which means it's best done from home, which means during our short breaks I de-fry my brain by walking around outside and musing at what to do to my garden. That's the best break there is! But it's even more fun sharing it with my enthusiastic daughter when she gets home.

We sure are having a fun spring together finding flowers!


Monday, April 30, 2012

4/29/12 Pacific Coast Dream Machines

Today we all went to Pacific Coast Dream Machines, an annual charity event held at the Half Moon Bay airport, showcasing all sorts of vehicles -- cars, motorcycles, stationary engines, and of course, aircraft. Somehow I've never made it to this event, and I was tempted to skip it and spend the day alone at home. A day alone! Now that's a dream! But I'd spend it working, and burnout is licking flames on my rear end, so I insisted to myself that I join the family for a day out.

And thank goodness I did, what a great day!!

So much happened I can't possibly document it all here, so I might as well try to be brief. Knowing all events and rides would get very crowded, we went straight to do things that would likely have lines built up later in the day.

First, a monster truck ride!

I'd never heard of this, but some outfit was actually giving rides on a monster truck, on a flat muddy lot. For $5 each, how could we could pass it up?

The monster-truck owners recommended kids sit closer to the cab so they don't get scared. No one was scared at all! Julian sat up front with the driver, the little sneak (I wanted to do that). Of course no monster truck ride could scare Gabriel, but Katrina? No, she had a great time!

Katrina laughing her head off on the monster truck.

What can top that?

Well, how about a helicopter?! All three experienced their first helicopter ride today!

Julian rode with me and another man, while Gabriel and Katrina and Dave rode in another helicopter.

We were only up for about 7 minutes, but the views were spectacular. Things look very different from a helicopter, at least on these tours they fly low enough you can see the ground pretty well and really see things. Our pilot said he'd spotted a bobcat that morning, and that they do whale-watching tours too -- that sounds way better than from a boat!


On to the aviation section! A B-26 Marauder (WWII bomber, of course)

A C-47. This is what dropped paratroopers in WWII, and this plane in particular saw action in Normandy about 2 weeks after D-Day. Cool!

Katrina next to a "paratrooper." They'd clear out the plane of about 20 paratroopers in about 35 seconds, the host of this plane told us lots of guys just got shoved out.

We had lunch at an airport cafe, and were joined by a NASA test pilot. A delightful fellow who could identify any aircraft and who I thoroughly enjoyed talking to. Two days ago, I saw the strangest airplanes -- or helicopters? -- landing at Moffett Field, and from Googling I figured they were probably these bizarre "tiltrotor" V-22 Osprey helicopters. Turns out this man is a test pilot specializing in tiltrotors, so I really hit the jackpot! He confirmed that two Ospreys landed at Moffett last week, in fact. Plus he just was a great guy.

Kids being kids, they were very focused on souvenirs. Each got to pick a toy plane. Someday I'll miss that.

There was plenty else to see, such as this 1912 steamroller.

And a very interesting cold-war era missile. Actually, the guys' description of its purpose as a deterrent against the USA being bombed by the Soviets during the Cold War was really interesting, but the boys were thrilled to see a real missile.

And lots of interesting cars and motorcycles of course too. I hijacked this trip a little by spending so much time in the aviation area, but I think we all got a lot out of it. A totally worthwhile day, perfect to shake off the burnout!