Saturday, December 31, 2005

this is what we do

When we're pregnant...wait in line at the post office to pick up Christmas packages...and generally live a normal life. Not that much has changed...yet (and easier for me to say, since I'm not carrying baby).

We would've gotten these sooner had wenot been in VT for Christmas or been having a new floor put in...which is going very well, thank you. (More on that soon...)

Right now we're on our way to F'burg (which looks like a curse word like that) to ring in the new year with Holly, Paul, Aline, and Jeff.

20 miles to go, according to the sign--and many rivers to cross, according to Jimmy Cliff.

So, ere we dive out of sight--happy new year to all on this warm winter night.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

What do we do now?

As we're sure that most of you have heard, because we've told most of you, we're due to be parents in or around July 2007. And if we haven't gotten around to telling you yet, accept our apologies for the oversight. We're still getting used to the news ourselves, and we just started telling people over this weekend, calling my family as we drove up to Vermont, and telling Wifey's family as soon as we got here.

We're about 12 weeks into it now, and not too much has changed, and yet many things have changed. We're both still going to work and going out with friends, although there's been a little bit less of each, since Wifey has had some queasiness, which has caused her to miss some days and partial days at work, although her boss has been very understanding (she guessed what was up) and has allowed Jess to work from home if needed. There's also been some fatigue--OK, more than some--so our bedtimes have been earlier. Like at about 8 p.m. for awhile there. The lack of caffeine might have contributed to that as well, but my guess is that baby was sucking up Wifey's energy as it was growing from just a dot into an embryo. I don't mean to downplay the difficulties--Wifey threw up on the Metro one morning...and then still went to work (she's stronger than I am)--and the changes, but they have been coming on slowly and one at a time. And some days they don't appear at all. Of course, the
y've been less direct for me, although I will say that while I'm never happy when Wifey is queasy or tired or not feeling 100%, I'm glad that I can be here to look after her, get her what she needs, and take care of her. It's a welcome change to just know what's most important rather than trying to decide if we should paint, install closet doors, remove wallpaper, repot plants, etc. All of that falls away until Wifey has what she needs and is feeling well.

As for what comes next, we're just starting to figure that out. We told our parents as soon as we knew for (fairly) sure, and they've all been helpful with little tips and anecdotes from when they were expecting. It's fun to hear about what they went through, to know that we're not alone, and to have someone to talk to who's been there and back. I think that, in some ways, I won't fully understand Mom--not that any of us ever fully understands another--until after the baby is born, and even then, not until the baby has grown, and even then, not until the baby has left home...OK, so I'll never fully understand, but I feel like I might come a little closer to understanding. For now, however, we're still trying to figure out what comes next.

For Christmas, Santa brought me The Idiot's Pocket Guide to Being an Expectant Father, which is nice because it has lists of things to be aware of, consider, and do. I'm sure that I won't get to all of them, but it's nice to at least have heard about them...and have a reference to turn to in case one of them comes up suddenly. The book itself is short and a quick read--I finished the 200 pages in a day--and it has lengthy and thorough lists of additional resources and references. So, now I have plenty of other books to read and refer to as we make our preparations and find our way to the baby's birth day.

The only one in the house who we can't really prepare for all the changes is Farley. He'll have to get used to his new status as the not-so-only child. He's pretty flexible, however, so I'm not too worried about him. And, as soon as he discovers that the baby drops more food than I do, he'll fall in love with the child, I'm sure.

One of the tips in the Idiot's Guide that got me to thinking was to find other expectant fathers and talk to them regularly. Fred and I talked a bit when he was here, but it was a short visit with lots of activities. It got me to thinking that I should talk more to some of the guys I know who have been through this recently or who are expecting now--of course, that means that I'll have to make an announcement at work...which also means that I hope that no one from work is reading this now, since it will probably publish as we drive south on Wednesday, and I'll make the announcement on Thursday when we get back.

Right now, it's 10 p.m. on Boxing Day, and I'm sitting in Grandma's living room, and I'm going to read A Confederacy of Dunces until I fall asleep. (A Confederacy of Dunces? Is this the world we're bringing our child into? Oy vay.)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

parting shots

These are just a few over the shoulder glances back at the valley, particularly El Capitan, which was beautiful in the light of the setting sun.

After brunch, we wandered over to the village, stopped in the Ansel Adams gallery and the visitor's center, then headed out. And, though I mocked the glut of gift shops in parks, I think that we bought something in almost every one that we stopped in--we even managed to pick up some Christmas gifts.

Back here on the home front (edge of the couch, where I'm hunched over to reach the PDA and foldout keyboard on the coffee table, really), we're getting close to the climactic finale of Spiderman and feeling a little more relaxed now that we've got all the Christmas gifts that we're shipping out wrapped and boxed up, ready to go to the PO tomorrow. A good end to a busy day.

then it was time...

Both time to leave (the back of the Welcome to Camp Curry sign says Farewell, but it doesn't have those cliffs behind it) and time to go to the Awahnee for brunch.

The only regret about the beautiful and delicious brunch was that I wasn't fast enough to get a picture of the chocolate-covered strawberries for the niece. And that none of us were fast enough to get any of them...but the blintzes were just as deadly good as ever.

We strolled out to the sitting room on the south end of the hotel with the spectacular view of Glacier Point, and then off to the gift shop, mais oui. (What's a national park without a few dozen gift shops, right?)

Then it was time to drive out of the valley, down the canyon, and home, but not before taking a few more pictures...

(As for he home front, the Capital One ad with the beagles as sled dogs just came on, right after Green Goblin made his first appearance...OK, so some of the effects--GG, for example--aren't that great. Still better than AOL screenshots.)

it can't rain all the time

What a difference a day makes...the next day dawned cold, clear, and beautiful.

This was the view from the parking lot outside our rooms. We all met up and walked out under that dome to Mirror Lake, which is really Mirror Sandpit at this time of year, so the reflections weren't that great, even if the views were spectacular.

Here on the home front, we've moved from "You've Got Mail" to "Spiderman," jumping ahead a decade or two. The effects are much better in Spiderman, not that there was much call for effects between Hanks and Ryan, beyond AOL screenshots.

someplace warm...

After a walk in the rain, we went somewhere warm: the lobby of the Yosemite Lodge. It was all nice and Christmasy inside, which was nice...for Thanksgiving.

Now we're into the wooing sequence in the movie. Will it never end? It's not disagreeable, it's just that these stories never end...until they do, I suppose. Then again, how long did it take Pride to get together with Prejudice? At least until the end of the book, anyway.

ok, more like a whole day of rain...

..but in a place that's all gray and shadows, a gray day isn't so bad. Besides, misty veils add to the mystery of the place, which is thick with fantasy, if you let your mind go.

And, has anyone noticed how long it takes a Hollywood movie to get to the predetermined end? Can Tom Hanks just get to the point and bail out Meg Ryan in this movie? Fuhchrissakes, already. Get to it.

Of course, it seems to take forever because we're watching the commercials--well, Wifey is whilst I blog away. Funny, sort of, since we don't have to, being all DVR'd up and all...

Oh well, without commercials, when would I blog, right? Well, except this blogging that I'm doing during the movie.

a little rain...

A long, long time ago, in a valley far, far away, we gathered for Thanksgiving.

And I've got the pictures to prove it. Quite a few of them as it turns out. Most of which I never posted here, because--well--we've been busy.

Hasn't everyone?


So, tonight, while channel surfing (I told you we were busy), I'm going to post them all.

Ironically enough, we're surfing on the TBS wave right now, which is showing "You've Got Mail," which is bad, but not nearly bad as "The Fifth Element," which we stopped on for a minute. That had lots of shooting. This has lots of talking.

And it has odd ties to us, and all the emailing that Wifey and I did while she was traveling.

But, anyway, back to Yosemite...the next day (after the last post, about the redwoods) we went out to see Yosemite Falls. As you can see, the view was a bit obscured by the clouds and rain.

Friday, December 09, 2005

still big

Even long after they fall down, these trees are massive, fascinating, sharp, pointy, and unbelievable in that way that when you describe later to people what you saw, you hear what you're saying and think, "I must be lying."

But you're not. It was exactly like you said; it's just that how it is is unbelievable.

Cute is as cute does

First there's a cute picture...then there's some people acting pretty cute, who pile in.

Suffice it to say that we had a pretty good time together on the hike.

Friday, December 02, 2005

up close

So, I got a little closer to see if that would help show how big the tree is. (Actually, I got closer to see the tree better and because that's where the trail goes and where the family went.)

I don't know if it helps show how big Grizzly Giant is, but it was a great spot to sit and marvel at the immense size of this tree, with many branches that are far larger than most trees.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

small things

Before we gathered for dinner, we went out to see the Mariposa Grove of sequoias. We just had a few minutes, so we just headed up to see the Grizzly Giant.

These trees had fallen across and been cleared from the trail. The man in the shot wasn't with us, but I included him for scale. He was about 6' tall--and this part of the trunk was a ways off the ground, which means that the DBH (not DHB, who was with us, but diameter at breast height, a standard measure for trees) was well over 6'.

As for the shot of the Grizzly Giant, it's not much of a picture, but if it gives you any sense of the scale, there's a whole crowd of people at the base that you can't see because I had to get back this far just to get the whole tree in--even with the super wide angle lens in the Treo. That fence is about 20 feet in front of me--the tree is at least 100 feet away.

Monday, November 28, 2005

the usual suspects

Being the only time of the year when most or all of us are together, we usually gather for a picture together. This year was no different.

I snapped this as the line up was forming. Eventually we got somewhat organized and took a few shots. It's my job to run from the tripod to the line up (even if nobody yells, "Red Rover"), so we hope that I was fast enough this year that I got there in time to turn around and smile.

Spa-like? Spa-esque?

Something about the white wicker (faux wicker, actually, made of plastic) and the Adirondack chairs made me feel like I should be walking around in a white robe with terry cloth scuff slippers on, perhaps with a towel around my neck, or perhaps laying on a massage table.

Then again, it doesn't take much for me to think that I should be laying on a massage table.

Oh, Wawona, where the wind comes sweeping 'cross the plains...

The next day, Thanksgiving, those of us staying in the valley headed down to the Wawona Hotel in the southern part of Yosemite Nat'l Park to have dinner with those staying in Wawona. I've never stopped, although when I used to come into Yosemite from SoCal, I would often (usually?) see deer grazing on the golf course in the twilight hours.

I tried to take a picture of the golf course, but couldn't get anything decent. Let's just say that it looked green, and that there were people out there chasing tiny little balls around, like squirrels who lost the nuts that they buried in anticipation of winter.

In addition to the golf course amenities, the Wawona Hotel buildings and grounds have a spa-like feel to them. Like somewhere you might go to take the waters...if you were misinformed, since the only waters there are in the pool during the summer.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

rollin', rollin', rollin'

After the junction with 156 to Hollister, we got rolling again. Through the metropolis that is Casa de Fruita, so fast that we didn't take the time to stop at Casa de Coffee, Casa de Wine, or Casa de Petting Zoo (if it's still there). And, we had plenty of fuel, so there was no need to stop at Casa de Gasa.

Then it was on down the hill beside the San Luis Reservoir toward Los Banos, where we stopped to use Los Banos. From then on, we were running under the dark blanket of night, bright with stars in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley, up into the Sierra foothills, and on into Yosemite.

missing the forest

Although we had to sit in traffic over Pacheco Pass, it was nice weather and a pretty time of day be sitting there.

And it's not that there aren't forests in California, but I just love these solitary oaks, especially when the light is coming down through the dusk, at first a honey yellow glow, then a roan red across the flanks of the grassy hills.

home again, home again

We made it all the way home, where fall had fallen, although the sun was warmly shining as though summer wasn't quite over.

After a breakfast at Hobee's, Mom picked up Eileen and we headed out for Yosemite. Although we managed to miss most of the airport crowds by flying on Tuesday (and also by flying at 0'dark-thirty), we didn't miss the crowds on the roads by driving out of Silicon Valley on Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Goin' Back to Cali

We're here at National, waiting to board our plane--this plane.

And yes, it does look like it's night time, because it's 5:30 a.m. The alarm went off hours ago at this point. Now we both know what's on NPR when nobody is listening.

Barky was not sure what to do, but willing to go along, until he realized that we were going without him. For as worked up as he gets when we do take him, you'd thin he would have been relieved. We bought him off with a Greenie and split.

We're still not sure what we're doing.

Monday, November 14, 2005

How 'bout those apples?

And the cider was just about the best either of us has ever had. Made fresh, unpasteurized, icy cold, delicious cider on a sunny fall day.

We also picked up a peck of apples, some of which Wifey turned into a pie on Saturday night.

Mmmm. Pie.

Glamorous a movie star, escaping her adoring fans for a drive through the countryside.

It's the small things.

To be precise, it's Mini things.

Through Zipcar, we reserved a Mini Cooper convertible for last Friday, and took it for a spin down Skyline Drive, through Shenandoah National Park, into Charlottesville and then back to DC.

It was a bit cold to keep the top down, although we did that for awhile, which was fun. For most of the ride, we kept the top rolled halfway back, so we could see out the top.

What does it take...? make her smile like this?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Election Day

A beautiful fall day for an election...and what would a victory party be without balloons?

We vote at the local school--one of us going in while the other walks Barky around outside, giving me just enough time to snap this picture.

The party was just getting going by the time we headed back home, but we were there long enough to see some promising results. The results for the Werkheiser race, south of us, were disappointing, but everything up our way was going our way. It's a secure district, though, so that's to be expected. Too bad about Werkheiser, though. We've met him, and both liked him, and he was fighting the good fight in a tough district. Volunteering at Moran's office, we made calls into his district frequently, although it was apparently to no avail.

We happened to be walking out right as Delegate Moran was coming in. We missed seeing him, but talked for a minute with the head of his campaign. We didn't see Jim Turner there, who was the one we dealt with most as volunteers. I'm sure that we'll see him again, however. I'm sure that work on 2006 will start soon. Let's hope that election day turns out to be as beautiful.

A Walk in the Woods

This weekend we headed down to Prince William Forest National Park again for a hike with Barky. We all had a good time (we'll speak for Barky, since he won't speak for himself). The weather was beautiful. Warm enough, but with a cool breeze bringing cascades of leaves down from the trees. It was nice to be back out in the woods again, with nothing to hear but ourselves and the wind--and the snuffling of our dog, chasing scents through the woods, brambles, meadows, etc., vaulting streams in single bound, and impatiently pulling us along the trail.

We stopped by IKEA on the way back, of course, and I think that we even decided on a floor to buy. Turns out that we're going to have to tear out the parquet (original from 1969, and sort of the bane of our existence--although it has at least stopped giving us splinters), so we're having a contractor come out for an estimate this Saturday. We'll know after that what's next, although they estimated that it would take about a week's worth of work to do the whole place, from tearing out to new installation. On one hand, I can't wait to have a new, solid floor--the kind where pieces don't get sucked into the vacuum--on the other hand, it seems daunting, even if we don't do it ourselves. Sort of like moving without going anywhere, since all the furniture will have to be displaced somehow, although they said that they can move it from one side of the room to the other, then back again.

We'll see on Saturday.

If we're in shock after that, you may get more pix of Prince William Forest Nat'l Park next week.

It's rough...

..being the dog here.

Shoes for Jon

He knows who he is.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The other side...

There are two sides to every story and to the White House.

This is the north side, which faces Lafayette Park, and which is the side that we see most often on the news, unless the president is landing in his helicopter on the back lawn of the White House. There are not only camera setups on rooftops in the neighborhood that point in this direction, so you can see the White House over the shoulder of whoever is reporting.

It was too dark to take a picture of the permanent setups that are in front of the West Wing, pointing toward the columned entrance, again so that you can see the White House over the shoulder of the correspondent. It looks good on TV, but it's pretty funny to come by and see them all at news hour, standing up in a row as if facing a video firing squad. They stand mute, waiting, then, without any visible reason, they begin talking to no one, all facing in the same direction.

There are more interesting and fun things to do here in DC, but sometimes it's fun to see just what that man behind the curtain looks like. And these are men and women whose Wizard faces we're all used to seeing, so much so that it's almost jarring to watch them standing cheek by jowl, not on separate networks, but all guests on the same lawn and partners in the same endeavor.

It also brings to light that they are truly guests of the White House, and guests can always be asked to leave by their host. I think that this explains why they all ask such slow-pitch softball questions these days that it took us years to notice Jeff Gannon, shill for Rove/Bush. None of them want to be shown the door of the president's house. It also explains why the big stories about the president so rarely (never?) come from within the White House press corps. It would be like Kato exposing O.J.--what would be in it for Kato, or the WH press corps? Better for them that they don't report what they know, so they can enjoy a longer tenure as a guest, hanging out on the lawn, flying around on Air Force One, and so forth.

As a woman photographer (someone will remind me of her name, I'm sure) once said, it's good, when facing something beautiful, to turn your back to the beautiful scene and see what's in the other direction. This is perhaps why those reporters who face the White House can't report on it clearly--because they can't see it clearly. And, this is perhaps why those who turn their back on the White House to report on it turn out to be those who can see it and describe it most clearly.

Told you so...

Told you we went to the White House...yeah, these are a little out of order, but not by much. The WH came about 20 minutes or so before Lincoln.

This is the end of the chain though... No shots of Jaleo. You'll have to come visit if you want to see it (and you don't really go to see it, you go to taste it...mmm...tapas...mmm...Jaleo).

Lincoln at Night

This is where black and white would be nice.

Shedding a little light...

Here we the Lincoln Memorial, with Washington in the background... and the WWII Memorial if I had used a better camera that would show it.