Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Book signing

We went to see Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos at Tower Books in Sacramento last night for the last leg of his book signing tour for Crashing the Gate. It was fun to see him. He lives in Berkeley so it wasn't too far a trip for him. The audience was an interesting mix, people of all ages (probably about ages 1 to 70). We took turns hanging out with Owen and Douglas in the kids' book section.

Monday, May 29, 2006


We came back last night from our trip to Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. We had a good time. We went hiking to Bale Grist Mill, ate at Taylor's Refresher, and visited the spectacular Chateau Montelena winery in Calistoga. Really beautiful! The kids got their first look at a banana slug during the hike.

Here's a picture of some of the kids hanging out in our tent.

Douglas and friends snacking

Kids crossing the bridge during the hike

Douglas enjoying part of the view at Chateau Montelena, where there were swans, turtles, and sadly, a baby blue jay that fell out of its nest and was dying on the path.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Camping plans

From Saturday to Monday we will be camping at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park with about four other families. We camped there last summer. It's only about an hour away and has a swimming pool. My neighbor just told me she saw a rattlesnake there last summer, so I guess we'd better be careful. I think we need to get another sleeping bag (we currently have 3; Douglas shared with me last summer, but now he's getting bigger). Tonight I inflated the air mattresses to see if I could figure out which one has a leak. Hopefully we'll choose the right one.

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

In other news, kindergarten is winding down. I think this was the last week in which Owen has homework. He had to write some sentences about his favorite reptile, among other things. The page reads:
I like crocodils.
They have varee shorp teeth.
It is nis to see them.
They have nests.

Complete with picture on the bottom.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Douglas during the game.

The other team was up first. Douglas and I were sitting right near home plate. Up came this tiny little 5 year old boy. He swung at the first pitch and missed. Douglas said in a very loud voice, "STRIKE ONE!"

Poor kid. Luckily I don't think he heard, but it cracked up quite a few parents on the sidelines.

Last day of tee ball

Owen hitting. That white blur in front of the bat is the ball.

Huddling up with the coaches before the game

There was a pizza party afterwards... of course!

The team received little trophies, and we gave framed team pictures to the coaches. One of the coaches told Owen, "When you're batting cleanup in the majors, I'll have this picture."

Sunday, May 21, 2006

More gardening

Lychnis in full flower

Snow-in-summer (cerastium) in bloom

I just got back from Ace where I bought a small lemon tree (Meyer improved) as well as adding two bell peppers and three basils to the raised bed. We now have five tomato plants, a few peppers and squashes, an artichoke, a watermelon, and some strawberries, as well as something growing from seed that may or may not be lettuce. We'll see when it gets a little bigger.

It's raining right now. Have to plant later.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Baseball afternoon

Go Barry! 714!

And kitty in the batting helmet


Summer fruit is finally coming in at the farmer's market. Yum! We picked up some strawberries (delicious), cherries, and apricots at the market this morning. We're going to some friends' for dinner tonight.

We may go down to the Explorit Science Center this afternoon. They're having touch tanks with starfish and other sea creatures.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I like bike

Owen learned to ride his bike with no training wheels a few weeks ago, and now we are biking all over town. We biked over to the market this evening, for example - which went great except that he wiped out on the way home and scraped his knee. Most of the time it works fine, though.

Davis is full of bike paths and bike lanes and, well, bikers - we were named the most bicycle-friendly community in America by the League of American Bicyclists last October. We're very lucky that the town has done such a good job of making it easy to ride bikes here. It helps that it's flat as a board and (virtually) never snows.

One thing I notice when biking to campus, though, is that while huge numbers of people are biking, almost none of them ever wear a helmet... except me. My old roommate was hit by a car on her bike and that helmet possibly saved her life. She couldn't remember her name, but she remembered her Group Health ID number. Wear your helmet!

Davis Bike Map

Something I hadn't considered

Has the rapture already come?

And yet more pictures

Reading Amber Brown before bedtime, after a trip to the farmer's market. That pizza was pretty exhausting, eh, Douglas?

The beautiful miss Violet peering through the screen.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Kids today

Douglas, Owen's friend Justin, and Owen hanging out a few minutes ago.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Here's another picture of the little sweetie.

Congratulations to Julia

My sister is graduating with her Ph.D. today. Hooray!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

More local eating

We were at the Davis Farmer's Market yesterday morning. The cherries are in! We bought some delicious cherries from Gotelli & Sons by way of Stockton. Apparently the rain may have cut the cherry crop in half, so it's time to get them while they're available.

We also got some endive from Winters. It seems to be in pretty good shape. Meanwhile the tomatoes, squash, and peppers I planted in the raised bed in the back yard are doing pretty well. Hopefully we'll get more than one tomato this year. Tomatoes are Yolo County's biggest crop - $86 million worth in 2005 - and all I managed to grow was one tomato last year.

Meet Violet

The newest member of our household!

We brought her home today from Feline Lifeline.

She's about 8 to 10 weeks old, a short haired tabby with a white stomach and paws. She did very well settling in and is already playing with Owen, who is doing a great job being gentle with her. She seems to be a very friendly and playful kitten. We're very happy to have her!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mother's day tea

Owen's kindergarten had a special parents' day tea for us this afternoon. They sang several songs and served us food and lemonade. Owen's in the back row (in white t-shirt).

Couple of kid pics

Owen pitching in the front yard on Sunday

Kids under the table this morning, pretending they were coyotes in their lair

Now showing

Now blooming in our garden:

Lychnis starting to bloom

Mexican primrose - going crazy


Thursday, May 11, 2006


Sounds naughty, doesn't it?

I'm afraid it's a real bird that we've been seeing around our yard.

I bet the bird would have chosen a different name if anyone had asked it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Kindergarten homework

Kind of hard to read, but he was supposed to write a sentence using "are" and wrote, "Baseball players are the best baseball players."

Not that he's obsessed, or anything.

The higher up stuff on the page is writing words that rhyme with "spot" and a sentence that uses some words - "I caught a mouse" (I cot o maws).

Earlier in the week we were playing Hangman. It is quite challenging playing hangman with a kindergarten speller. At one point his word read RAT_ S_A_. It wasn't "rate" or "rats." Turned out to be rattlesnake.

Missing butterflies

I've been noticing that despite all the new blooms in my yard I haven't seen any butterflies. I was wondering whether there was anything to that, and apparently there is. Butterfly populations are the lowest in three decades.

It seems weird because last summer the painted ladies migrated through Davis so we had three days or so where there were thousands of them flying through town, and now there aren't any.

According to the article, there are only about half as many species and only about 12 percent of the total number of butterflies as there are normally. This may be due to the unusual weather we've been having, both directly due to affecting the life cycle and indirectly in effects on the plants they eat.

It's also having an effect on bats since there are fewer insects overall for them to eat.

They're welcome to our crane flies if they want them.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I Can Verify...

...that May Revision isn't a lot of fun.

What's really cruel is that May ought to be one of the nicest months of the year: Sunny days, baseball, thoughts of summer vacations, coffee (ok, coffee is a year-round thing). Instead, I sit around until all hours of the night and weekends worrying about P1 certificiations, deficit factors, and making sure that a number in one infernal tracking system ties to another in a different, duplicative, but no less infernal, system.

Maybe I should have studied harder?

What would Barry do?

713 home runs and he still puts his batting helmet on backwards.

Poor Dan

He worked until 12:30 am last Thursday, most of Saturday and the whole previous weekend, and until midnight last night and is still at work now.

Suffice it to say that May budget revision is not a fun time for pretty much anyone in our household.

Sweet D

Here's a picture I took today of me and Douglas. It's a cute picture of him, anyway.

He was awfully cranky today. His top two molars are coming in.


I managed to jam my finger yesterday while vigorously smashing a black widow that was crawling on the dining room ceiling. It looked like this. (This picture is from the web, not an actual image of the spider him or herself.) Pretty creepy to imagine these things crawling around in our house. Owen pointed it out to me; it was crawling above his head on the ceiling.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Best (?) (Non)Use of Schools Task Force

The Davis School Board are poor planners.

The district demographer told them 5 years ago that the elementary school population was about to start declining. This is primarily because there have been no new developments in town for several years.

Nevertheless, they decided to build a new elementary school. Which is now sitting empty. Needless to say, the people who live in that neighborhood really, really, really want their school open. But the district doesn't have enough students, or money (in CA the money follows the student and you get only a certain amount per child, so if there are fewer kids there is less $ to fund the district), to operate nine schools; we have enough to run about 7 or 8, maybe.

So the school board created something called the Best Uses of Schools Task Force to survey the problem and provide the board with some recommendations about what to do.

There looks to be a significant chance that our neighborhood school where Owen is in kindergarten, Valley Oak, will close. It's the oldest school in the district (51 years), in the worst shape, and has the fewest local students, thanks to the fact that most of our neighbors bought their houses in the 1950s or 60s and thus don't have any elementary age kids.

We've been attending the meetings of the task force and providing them with lots of input about what needs to happen if our school closes. Last week one member presented the "8 school option" - in other words, what would happen if one school closes. He suggested 4 possible schools, but Valley Oak looks the most likely. However, we weren't really happy with his option, so I went to talk to him about it and this weekend I did a little map with dots on it to show where the students live to provide him with a little more information. My neighbor brought it to him this morning and they had a long discussion. It sounds like he is amenable to our recommendations.

Valley Oak has special needs because we have the largest percent in the district of kids with low incomes or who are English language learners. Many of the kids live quite near the school and may not have parents with cars (Davis has no school buses) so transportation may be a problem for those kids.

The task force is making its recommendations to the board this fall and whatever happens will probably be decided over the winter, so that Owen would start 2nd grade at another school (if they close Valley Oak). We are doing our best to make sure that the outcomes are good. Worrying about this problem is taking up a lot of our energy.


Owen and friend Eleanor selling lemonade last Wednesday.

Their babysitter, Shannon, has a lemon tree in her yard so she brought the lemons. They did quite well; $13 profit at 50 cents a cup.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Pictures from today

using our new Coolpix camera!

Here's a picture of my garden from today.

Here's Owen in baseball mode.

and Douglas.

We went to the River Cats game today, where it was Little League day. There were hundreds of kids there from probably 20 leagues. The kids and families had a parade around the field at first. It was fun!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Eating locally

I'm currently reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, a journalism professor at UC Berkeley. The book is an attempt to look at where our food comes from and the broader ranging impact of the agricultural practices that are now standard in this country. Some of it is a little gimmicky (such as reporting on eating a fast food meal from a car speeding through Marin county) and definitely not balanced, but overall he does a good job of reporting an interesting story. There is much in the book I wasn't aware of, such as the politics of corn and what a high percentage of our diets comes from corn (virtually every additive in every form of processed food, it seems, not to mention that it's the grain that feeds the cows, chickens, and pigs we eat). It's definitely worth a read.

There's a group called the Locavores who encourage people to eat locally. They are SF-based but have members from a variety of states, I believe. For many things it's possible for us to eat food produced within our "foodshed" (say, within 100 miles) but not everything (pasta? coffee and tea?). Still, I've been trying to do that a little more than I had in the past, partly because of reading the Pollan book. Their May eat-locally challenge blog is located here.

This is the first post in Straight Outta Davis, our new blog.

Why are we blogging? Mainly as a way to provide friends and family with updates on our lives, and to write about whatever is on our minds at the moment.

Thanks for reading.