Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Meme From My Cousin

I like trying these things out once in awhile. I think this list is a ~bit~ arbitrary, but I'll bite anyway. Feel free to play along on your own blog-and be sure to leave a comment here (including a link to your blog) so we can all see what you've been up to.

The book meme

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald-
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy- Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis- Out of sheer stubbornness. The premise stinks.
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis- This one was fun, it was the rest of them, dragging on and on that stunk.
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown--only material at hand on vacation once. Ugh-waste.
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding-Absolutely disagree that humans are naturally evil
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon-Excellent. Try reading Steve Martin's _The Pleasure of My Company_ directly after. It's fun!
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas-based solely on its mention in Shawshank Redemption
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy-really really liked it
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker--because I feel I should
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White-and I even own a couple copies of it. Go figure.
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery but I didn't get it at the time
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams actually really liked this
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Strange Bedfellows

With lots of other stuff to write about and little time to write, I am taking a moment to mention our Constitution, our law breaking executives, and something positive to do about it all.

Most anyone who has been paying attention is shocked that the new and "improved" FISA bill passed. Obama's vote for that mess made me so angry I could spit. McCain's chicken**** skipping out on the vote was at least as cowardly.

The bottom line is that we are living in an era in which it is okay for our government to check up on us quietly and without our permission. There are laws against this kind of thing. I have a little thingie at the bottom of my blog that gives you a daily dose of the Constitution should you wish to stay on familiar terms with it. For those who think it can't be that bad to have your government spying on you, I'd like to recommend the movie Lives of Others.

Rather than raging impotently, I'd like to do something about this criminal activity initiated by the Executive and facilitated by the Legislative branch of our government. I say our government because it is that, but only if we actually exercise even the teeeeeensiest bit of oversight.

So, please check out Strange Bedfellows. If you're so inclined, please pledge and donate by August 8th. Your country thanks you.

Become a StrangeBedfellow!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Top 'o the Mornin'

Ah, some early-morning randomness before I fire up the coffee maker and get the day started here at Steingruebl World Enterprises.

1. You know you've stayed up too late when you go to brush your teeth before bed and instead of opening the toothpaste you open your deodorant. You know you've been up waaaaaay too late when you stare blankly at said deodorant, wonder why the toothpaste is behaving so strangely and then consider rubbing your toothbrush on the deodorant since the usual squeezing action looks like it would be ineffective. What stopped me? My love of the movie Amelie-it has apparently hard-wired me to be wary of such things.

2. Giving Elise a haircut is difficult, but worthwhile. I can't believe I was so conservative about the bangs that I ended up leaving them too long. The whole point was to get the hair out of her eyes!

3. Beaker is going to school with Elise for about a half-hour today. We've prepared by talking about some of the things he likes best and some of the things he does. With any luck, Elise will be willing to do some of the talking. I'm planning on teaching the kids some bird body language. Luckily (or unluckily) Beaker is in the midst of a tremendous molt right now. This means that we have lots of feathers to take to school for the kids to look at and touch and examine with a magnifying glass. It also means that Beaker is a little cantankerous and will probably be a challenge. Add to the fact that I forgot to trim the razor sharp points off his toenails and to get his wings clipped, and it may well be an interesting morning. The idea of keeping him in his carrier keeps looking more appealing all of the time.

4. No new housing leads, but I'm optimistic about the one I learned about last week.

5. I am very jealous of the bloggers I read who are at the ComiCon in San Diego this weekend. How come the SJ show didn't have any Doctor Who?! Anyway, it looks like a blast.

6. There is a social networking site aimed at atheists. Given the amazing response to my last post about atheism, I thought some of my readers would be interested. It's not nearly as noisy as Facebook (and not quite as easy to use, really) but it's great to have a place to talk with people just like me. If you're so inclined, check out Atheist Nexus and be my friend. :)

7. I've been reading more and it feels good. I might even come up with a library book list for the week after Beaker and I get back from school...

That's about it. Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 21, 2008

War Criminals

As the Bush Regime enters the home stretch of its direct assault on, well, everything that matters, it's time for all of us to think about the future we envision for the bastards. Clearly, Dennis "Crazypants" Kucinich hasn't managed to share his nothing to lose/can-do spirit with enough of his colleagues to hand the president the impeachment he so richly deserves. It is clearly not going to happen as long as Bush is "in power" (read: signing off on every hair-brained, immoral, unconstitutional thing anyone in his administration can imagine with the full permission of a feckless Congress) so we need to get over that outrage and start thinking ahead.

War criminals should be prosecuted. These guys may not want to recognize the International Criminal Court, but it's a safe bet the ICC recognizes them for what they are. The Red Cross does. And, since we can't seem to get any of our elected officials to demand any sort of accountability here at home, what do we have left? We here at Steingruebl World Enterprises were discussing this over breakfast today, and we're hopeful that actual leaders around the planet might detain some of our high-profile war criminals as part of an investigation into all of those extraordinary renditions. It's about time we collectively acknowledge to the rest of the world that we've dug ourselves a deep hole and we now most sorely need their help to find our way back to such things as human rights and the rule of law. "Watch out! We've lost control of the horses and the wagon's headed for the river! Help!" Maybe someone will take pity and come to the rescue? One thing is certain-we're not yelling loud enough yet.

And that doesn't even begin to address the crimes they've committed here at home. At some point, we get so far past shameful that it doesn't mean anything anymore. Illegal needs to mean something again.

I'm looking for good ways to amplify my voice. So far, I think they have the right idea over at En Tequila Es Verdad. If nothing else, the birthplace of the Carnival of Elitist Bastards deserves some attention. I've got the passion, I've got the vitriol, now I need to channel it productively. Please use the comments to share your favorite organizations for protecting human rights, the US Constitution, unicorns etc. What positive action are you taking? Can I come too?

It appears that some New Zealanders take pity on us, and have offered a reward for a Condi Rice citizen's arrest. Hey wait! I know someone who works at that very university! Superhero opportunity. Looks like the $5K is for students only, but surely some organizing can be done...

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Oh yes, faithful readers, we here at Steingruebl World Enterprises will be moving headquarters by the first of October. Our two-year lease here is up when the landlord returns from Spain, and the race is on to find new headquarters.

It's not as simple as it might sound. We're pretty committed to staying a one-car enterprise, which means staying close to transit. Ideally, Andy would be able to continue walking to catch the free shuttle from the train station. We would also like some outdoor space-at least a patio but ideally a fenced yard. The prospect of finally having a small patch of the outdoors to call our own makes the effort of moving seem worthwhile.

Then, of course, there is the school situation. Our "neighborhood" school is a 10 minute drive from our current home. We have a year of preschool ahead of us still, but since I'm not planning on moving again in a year we've got to have that figured out. From what I know, the school for this area is pretty good, and several of Elise's friends from preschool (and the neighborhood) will be going there.

Finally, even a very good cat closes a lot of doors for us. Nobody wants to rent to pet owners. I think part of the problem is that everything here seems to have wall-to-wall carpeting, so the potential for pet destruction is higher than it would be for hardwood. I understand the reluctance, but what about those of us who take care of our pets and keep things nice? We come with references! But the number of ads reading, "no pets, no exceptions" is disheartening.

A big bright spot in this is move is that we will be getting rid of all kinds of stuff before we move. It's been nice having piles of storage in the garage and closets here as we figure out what we're doing with ourselves, but now we get to empty them out! I sold two strollers and a tricycle on craigslist last week and it was intoxicating. Now that we're officially done having kids, I can get rid of the gear, clothes and toys we'd been saving for "the next one." We can also sell off some of the toys that Elise has outgrown. It's a nice opportunity to donate clothes that we don't wear, too. If you had to go to the trouble of moving in a few months, what would you get rid of?

So, off we go. We have two promising housing leads. One is for a townhome in the neighboring development. Convenient, new-ish, and it has a patio and reasonable square footage. The downside is that it's on a street that is likely to get very busy when the neighboring roofing warehouse and yard get demolished and turned into high-rise condos. Oh, and it has 3 bathrooms (or at least 2.5). I hate cleaning bathrooms, and with three of 'em it becomes a full-time job. The second lead is farther afield and would be a longish walk to the train station. It's not far from the home of some wonderful friends, and is in a very close-knit part of the neighborhood. Close to school, too. And a yard. I'm still waiting to hear back from the landlady on when it's available and the exact address so that we can have a better sense of what life there would be like.

Yay, moving? Well, yes and no. Stay tuned for more developments.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Study in Atheism

Hemant, the Friendly Atheist, asked his readers about atheism in their families. I've never thought much about my heritage, theism-wise, so it was a nice opportunity to write down what I know.

Recalling family stories and looking at my snazzy new (though inverted) chart, I come up with one main theme. In my family, at least, there is a direct correlation between theist parents and atheist children. I don't know if that says more about religion or the way my forebears have practiced it.

So, here is the tree, upside down and informative. (Click image to embiggen.) What's your tree like?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

High Density Housing

I'm mostly in favor of high density housing. It makes possible such things as walkable neighborhoods and auto-less lifestyles. There are a few downsides.

1. Neighborhoods are only as good as the neighbors. If closely-packed inflexible people have wildly different social habits and expectations, there will be friction. Differences are noticed most along economic and ethnic boundaries, whether they exist there more or not.

2. Noise. You get a lot of people in one place, it won't ever be really quiet. Some people like that, but I don't know anyone (yet) who likes it all of the time.

3. Smoke. Thanks to building codes and such, high density means hard-wired smoke and fire alarms that are loud enough to rock most of the complex. And then, there are the people who like to smoke outside of their own homes (so as to keep the stink to a minimum) and end up sharing with anyone who has an open window.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some. Do you have any to add? Are there some really great things you'd like to mention about high density housing? Please feel free to add all and sundry to the comments below.

So, what inspired this entry?

1. Our current neighborhood seems to be fairly well mixed, income-wise. Every now and then, an outlier moves in and there's trouble. Toward the "working class" end, we get dramatically more shouting and loud music. Toward the "elite" end, we get sticks-in-the mud who hide behind the HOA to visit a thousand little cuts on their less worthy neighbors. We haven't been targeted by the busybody set (yet) but they annoy me on principle. Why call the HOA when your problem is right outside your kitchen window and you can discuss your differences from there? Tattletales. Me, I prefer the noise.

2. I had no idea that all of the little exhaust fans and air conditioners and garage door openers and moving cars and early morning newspaper deliveries could combine to be greater than the sum of their parts. There is a nonstop buzzing in my ears from this place that I'm not going to miss much when we move in a few months.

3. When we first moved in, we had neighbors across from our front window who were smokers and always sat out on their front step to talk in loud voices until late into the night while they puffed away. Given the airflow here, their smoke made a beeline for the front windows of all of their neighbors and we were all forced to keep our windows closed. It would be silly to make rules about NOT smoking on their own doorsteps (and I think there'd be a revolt), so we mostly just put up with it and stupidly didn't ever say anything about it to them.

Tonight, I've closed the kitchen windows because the pot smoke from the neighbor's garage was overpowering. Rather than being silent and stupid, this time around I'll politely mention in passing that the smoke really travels. And just for kicks I'll point out whose windows should not be open when they light up if they don't want harassing letters from the HOA...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Finally, some pictures! (Part 1)

Things have been a little hectic around here, but I finally managed to locate both the camera and the card reader at the same time. (Yay, me!) Looking over what we've got, I'd say we need to remember to keep the camera a little more handy. However, the things you see here should give some of the flavor of our trip.

There are more to upload, but I'm done with Picasa for tonight, especially considering that I am going on a field trip with preschoolers tomorrow. Hope you enjoy! If the slideshows are too tiny and captions too hard to read, just click on 'em and you'll get a new window that lets you see everything without a magnifying lens...

First stop, Boston!

Next, a lot of driving up the coast of Maine. We really should have stopped for more pictures along the way-it was lovely.

And, here are our photos from the day of Job & Sarah's wedding.

Stay tuned for more pictures from our lovely trip. I promise there will be more before you're too old and blind to see them, folks.

Monday, July 14, 2008


We here at Steingruebl World Enterprises recently made the determination that we would no longer be seeking junior associates. We have one fabulous child already, and due to health concerns, risks, etc. we decided not to push our luck.

It has taken awhile to figure out what to do, and even longer to get it done, but here we are. Given how well I do not tolerate oral contraceptives and how very sure we need to be of our birth control method, there aren't that many options out there.

One thing I didn't know about until I'd done some research was Essure. Friends and family mentioned it, and I finally took a good look. After a mandatory class about sterilization and a follow up "are you really sure" appointment with a doctor, I was all set.

Last Tuesday, I spent a very short amount of time in the outpatient procedure department at Kaiser. What a study in contrasts between that and the ER! The nurses were fabulous, the care was excellent, I was never uncomfortable let alone terrified. Kudos to the outpatient folks. I still need to write Member Services and tell them how thrilled I am.

Anyway, the procedure was easy and painless. No residual pain to speak of, and generally not at all messy. I was pretty heavily sedated, but came around enough to watch some of the procedure on the monitor. (And ask annoying questions of the doctor while she was trying to work-those sedatives are great for suppressing impulse control...) I was fascinated and enthralled, but I'll spare you the details. I even got pictures as a souvenir!

In three months, I'll go in for a test to make sure this "took." That one is called an HST and from the looks of it is not particularly fun, so that may well be the most uncomfortable part of this whole procedure.

At least so far, this non-surgical sterilization stuff is a breeze. Of course, I'd like to have got it done when we first made our decision back in April because by now it would be working. But, in the grand scheme of things 3 months isn't that long. And it's no longer than we'd wait if we sent Andy for a minor "surgical" procedure. It is absolutely wonderful to have a non-surgical option.

And, I nearly forgot to add the best part: this procedure cost a $15 copay. That's it. There's never been a better time to get sterile.

Vacation Aftermath

While we were off having fun, our babysitter was busily frightening the neighbors and calling the police. Of course, we were blissfully unaware of this until I contacted Geetha to see how things were going with the house-sitting...

The gory details are these. We had a standing appointment with our sitter for two Friday evenings per month. She scheduled them how she liked, and if for some reason we could not use her services on a date she designated, we agreed on an alternate date for a "make-up."

Well, I didn't get her our vacation dates before she made up her July schedule. Oops. And of course she ended up scheduling herself for our house one of the days we were going to be gone. So, I sent e-mail saying that we'd be out of town from June 24-July 4 and proposed some make-up dates. In confirming our make-up date, I reminded her again that this was in lieu of the appointment she'd scheduled for the 27th.

You may be able to see where this is going...

While we were in Maine, in an area with almost no cell signal, the sitter called my cell phone several times to ask where we were. I got the messages at some point that was too late for me to really do anything about them (when we wandered in and out of signal range apparently) so I ignored them.

That was apparently a mistake. According to neighbors, one night around midnight the police were pounding on doors and borrowed a ladder to break in through the front window. Given how easy that was for them, we're leaving the front window locked from here on out. Good grief. Anyway, our neighbors all apparently huddled around outside while the police searched each floor of our home for evidence that we'd been murdered or abducted or eaten by dingoes.

Happily, that was a night that Geetha wasn't staying here. She arrived to care for critters and was met by anxious neighbors and a note from the police about their little "welfare check."

Given some of the issues around scheduling we'd been having, this seemed like as good a time as any to cut this sitter loose. I can't believe that, over the course of a few days, she did not once bother to check her calendar or mail from me for an explanation of why we weren't home. I like that the prospect of something horrible happening to us was the first conclusion, rather than the last.

Anybody have a sitter to recommend?

Our Northeastern Vacation, Part 2

When last we left our intrepid travelers, they were headed for St. John, NB in the rain. Also the fog. It's an old city and has managed to burn down twice (I think) but some of the older stuff still around is very pretty.

After our dubious accommodations in Calais, it was nothing short of a relief to find a Country Inn and Suites. Comfy beds for everyone, separate rooms for sleeping, cleanliness, actual lighting. Not to mention free movie rental, which was a great way to soothe everyone's jangled nerves for each of the two evenings we were there.

Our day in St. John was spent at the big tourist trap downtown. We checked out the New Brunswick museum. It had some interesting displays and I learned a lot about the region. Elise's great joy was the big gallery devoted to stuff for kids to do. She was in need of some free-range playing after so much time spent (uncomplaining, I should add) in the car.

After the museum, we did a little souvenir shopping, and I found my favorite stuff of the trip. Necklaces with beads made of clay from the Bay of Fundy-cool! It was a little sad to see this gigantic market center and mall that seemed to be entirely supported by cruise ship traffic. Had the weather been even a little better we'd have happily skipped all of that entirely in favor of the great outdoors. As it was, well, we got to be tourists.

The next day, we traveled hard and made it to Portland, Maine. The weather was fantastic down there, and we really liked Portland. It's a city with a working waterfront, which means it isn't entirely dressed up to cater to tourists. Between the fishing boats, tug boats, ferries and oil tankers, this was an amazing place to just be. I've been a landlubber my whole life, but this place excited me and made me wish I could be on the ocean more. I think I'd like to learn to sail.

At any rate, Portland was great also because it has local "stuff" to see and do and eat. As we settle in to life in CA, it's easy to forget that the rest of the world is not blighted with chain stores and restaurants. For dinner, we headed to a place called Silly's. I loved Silly's. Elise liked the way they served her hot dog. This place is an actual incarnation of the restaurant I always used to imagine called the Surreal Meal. The decor was fantastic, the food was dynamite. I highly recommend eating at Silly's. Afterward, we headed for a park on the Eastern Promenade and Elise got to run and play until the rain started coming down a bit too hard.

After a night at the "Quality" Inn and Suites, (kinda scary, really, and no confidence here that the new management will turn things around much anytime soon,) we headed out on a short sailing cruise on Casco Bay. This wasn't exactly Elise's cup of tea and Andy was pretty green by the end, but I had a good time and the views were lovely. I could really get to like spending time on sailboats.

Unfortunately, after a tasty lunch right by the water we had to head out. The drive to Boston was long-ish and we were pretty well worn out by the time we hit our hotel. Luckily, we'd made a stop at Christina's in Sommerville to fortify ourselves for the home stretch. Fantastically good ice cream. Then, it was room service at the fancy hotel, and early bedtime for the girls. Andy finally got a few well-deserved minutes to himself down in the hotel bar, and we all woke up refreshed and ready to get home.

We took the long way to the airport, but not by choice. Having a GPS unit was a great confidence builder, until we were in cities. Then, it was just not fast enough with its calculations. This was especially true in Boston, so we had fantastic amounts of trouble navigating one particular interchange. Twice. My feeling is that the GPS was more of a distraction than a help, but really it would be nice if the people of Boston would work on their signage.

Turning in the rental car was easy, getting on the plane was easy, playing with Elise and just generally enjoying her company for the nearly 6 hours to LA was easy. Things got a little squirrely waiting for our flight to San Jose, but all in all we made it home pretty well.

It was a fantastic vacation. There was so much of it that I know I'm forgetting details and I wish I'd been able to write things down earlier. We had a great time. This sort of 10 day extravaganza is probably not in our budget to do again any time soon, but now that we know how much fun it is to travel with a big kid I think we'll be more motivated to explore things right here in California.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Our Northeastern Vacation

I had grandiose plans for detailing every wonderful aspect of our trip to Maine and New Brunswick, and those plans have stopped me from writing for almost a week. It is time to sit down and type out something, even if it's not a perfect account, so that I can get the weight of it off of my shoulders. Pictures will be added once I find the little card reader thingie and the camera in the same place at the same time.

So, we headed out on June 24th. Geetha was kind enough to take us to SFO, and then take care of our house and critters while we were away. Awesome! By some strange stroke of luck, our connecting flight out of Chicago was right on time, and we made it to Boston by a reasonable hour. Our luggage was ready right away. We waited over an hour for the "courtesy" shuttle to the hotel. The only person who didn't seem the slightest bit bothered by this was Elise. Sure, she was a little bored and a little hyper and a lot hungry, but she really kept her cool and was an example to us all. In fact, to prove her wonderfulness, she pointed out how the solar screening stuff on the van windows made all of the street lights look like jellyfish. And then she told us stories about the jellyfish. Based on that alone, I don't think I should ever travel without a four-and-a-half year old again.

By flying into Boston, we had an opportunity to see my friend Annie, her daughter Amy and her granddaughter Jane. The six of us had a fantastic day at the Public Garden, riding swan boats, looking at the ducks, eating a picnic, playing at a playground and eating the most expensive ice cream of our young lives. It was pretty much a perfect day. I wish it could have been longer, or several days in succession.

Of course, the day just kept getting better as we took the train to Jaya's place for a lovely, lovely dinner with her and a lovely sampling of her friends. Elise loved having the nice big courtyard in which to run around until she was pretty much worn out. It was a fantastic treat to see my cousin for a second time in as many weeks. We're getting very spoiled with family visits. :)

On the 26th, we (read: Andy) picked up our rental car and we got out of town. Drove right up the coast, had a lovely lunch in Portsmouth, NH. I love that we can drive on a highway 1 here and we drove on a highway 1 there.

By the end of the day, we found ourselves just outside the teeming metropolis of Ellsworth, Maine. (It's not really a metropolis, but it is the county seat so that counts for something.) The proprietors of the Twilite Motel were extremely nice and helpful. They even lent us a copy of One Morning in Maine, by Robert McCloskey. Having just left the setting of Make Way for Ducklings, we were excited to see Little Sal (of Blueberries for Sal) a little older and living near where we were visiting. Our hoteliers also recommended Pat's Pizza for dinner. I've never had better breadsticks, and the pizza was great as well. Don't let the pictures on the websites fool you-these are what I'd call "down home" establishments. Nice, but not a lot of polish.

We needed to be in Lubec by 5pm on Friday, so we pushed on. I booked a room for us at the Calais (pronounced "callous" by the locals, and don't you forget it) Motor Inn, and that's my one regret of the trip. Not only was it a deceptively difficult distance from Lubec and all of the festivities, but it was dingy and mildly comfortable. Not bad, just not likely the best choice we could have made. It was good enough, and the price was right.

Friday evening, we headed for the big party at the house being rented by the Bogan family for the week. It was so good to see Job and Sarah again, and to see them so happy. And surrounded by family which I think pretty much always guarantees the two of them a whole lot of joy. The food was good and the company was good. Elise had four boys to play with. It was interesting to see how she quickly realized that her loud voice and willingness to use it were an advantage. You can make just about any kid flinch if you stand close enough and shriek in his face.

I am actually going to depart from my narrative at this point because I want to write a separate entry about the wedding. It was absolutely beautiful, and deserves its very own blog entry at least.

On Sunday, we headed for New Brunswick. Crossing the border was a breath of fresh air, even through the fog and rain. You know how at Niagra Falls, everybody who knows anything heads for the Canadian side? Calais and St. Stephen are about like that. One side of the checkpoint is dingy and sad, the other is quaint and pretty. Feel free to speculate about which is which...

Our first stop was St. Andrews. There is a whale watching outfit there that looks really good, and so of course I wanted to give that a try. Unfortunately, while the pouring rain was not a deterrent the fog was. We never got up on the Bay of Fundy proper. Oh well. St. Andrews was very cute, and even had a little aquarium. We had fun with the touch tanks and the inadvertently retro-chique exhibits. Then lunch. Then, off to St. John's, because outside of souvenir shopping in the rain there wasn't much to do.

I was hoping to get it all into one post, but it's bedtime for me, and I'll have to pick up where I left off another day.

To be continued...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

We're home!

Well, actually we've been back since Thursday evening, but it's taking awhile to catch up on the stuff of our physical world so the electronic one has had to wait. Will eventually post pics from our fantastic trip and tell lots of entertaining stories. :)