Catching up

September has a sneaky way of coming up fast on you.  August was a busy month. We tied up the summer beach season with a grand 65th birthday party for my brother-in-law Charlie. The party was a lot of fun and the weather was perfect. Summer ended quick for me because I started my new job the last week in August. Although I’ve been very busy I feel blessed to be busy with all good things.

Here are some photos from Charlie’s party:

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We shifted gears this past weekend and went up to Goshen to celebrate the east coast wedding celebration of Drs. David and Josemine Carey for those of us who couldn’t attend their wedding in California this past May. Like Jane & John’s 40th anniversary party it was also held at Delancey’s. We had a nice time catching up with everyone and enjoyed the opportunity to spend more time with the Careys and their friends.  David and Josemine played a artfully done video that captured the day of their wedding and individual photo montages of the couple set to a mixed set of songs. I didn’t have my camera that night and I’m hoping to post some photos from Debbi when I get them.
Till then…


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CAB Day 9, Over and Out

Here is Betsy’s last entry:

Today was a major housekeeping day.  The most notable mention is that James finished his gd Animal Farm homework.  He and I also toured around getting footage for his art homework, about country life v city life.  Paul Jr. and he had a photo op wood splitting session.  I was hoping for some actual wood splitting.  Mich finished her homework assignment too, and is now moving onto some pleasure reading.  She made some white chocolate mint truffles this morning.  Delicious. Look for those in Sea Girt.  Uncle Paul had to work late, so our farewell dinner was just the 4 of us.  Steak, potatoes, green beans and crudite from the farm veggies. No dessert!  We may make some cookies later, after our final swim.  I am trying to throw some things in a bag for my time there, and clean out the frig, etc.  We leave for the airport tomorrow morning early, so this is goodbye.

They are the most beautiful people.  We had a great time.  Thanks again to their parents for the privilege of having them at CAB.  Keep having fun people.  Kisses and slams from all of us.  CAB 2013 is off the road.

Well, CAB is over and it was another great one. Looking forward to seeing them when they get here.  I like to post CAB entries here ( sorry for one out of order ) so there is a running account for the campers or others who are interested can enjoy.

On the agenda for this weekend is a celebration for brother-in-law Charlie’s 65th birthday, hopefully some beach time as well.

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CAB Day 7 & 8

If it’s Tuesday it must be Hearst Castle.  Dawn Patrol (me and James) got breakfast first, and then Mich joined us.  The Hilton did a pretty nice spread.

The castle is about 3 hours from Santa Cruz.  Luckily, the Dale kids are very efficient travelers.  James spends a little time looking out the window, then he hits the snack sack, then he sleeps.  When we wakes up, at the end of the ride, he says one of two things.  Either, “I have to pee,” or, “I’m hungry.”  Seriously.  Mich’s style is a little different.  She first makes sure I know where I’m going.  Then she starts her assigned reading.   She’s available to chat, or for any navigational needs.  She’ll also sing along with the radio with me.   We passed through lots of agriculture on the way, and they were harvesting like crazy.  Prices were insane.  Avocados were 7 for $1 and artichokes an incredible 12 for $1.  We discussed how little of our food money goes to the farmers, but also considered that the distribution of the stuff is essential; the farmer needs that system. James did some filming for his art homework.  He called it “good b roll.”  That’s a movie making term. 

We arrived at the castle visitor center in time to, what else, get lunch.  The Hearst family still runs cattle on the land, and they serve the meat in the cafe.  James partook of a bbq beef sandwich.  Not bad.  We couldn’t tell that it was Hearst beef though.  Next up was an IMAX movie.  Those are always fun.  Then we boarded the bus for the actual Castle, along with the League of Nations.  The Hearsts called that site on the ranch “the enchanted hill” and it is.  The castle is spectacular.  The kids kept saying how much their Dad would like the place.  We got to see the main public rooms, which are full of treasures:  tapestries, sculptures, interiors from all over Europe, like old Italian ceilings and ornate carved wood from churches.  Then we checked out the gardens and the Neptune pool.  The colonnade around the pool has Roman columns from the 1st to 4th century.  There are security people everywhere, who scold you if you touch anything.  But in a nice way.  The whole place is considered a museum.  We were well behaved.  We were.

We spent about 4 hours at the Castle in total.  So, understandably, we were hungry.  We stopped for dinner alongside California highway 1 and San Simeon Bay (which is really blue!).  We were underwhelmed.  I explained that we are a tough group, since we have pretty high food standards.  James even criticized the plating of the food.  Oh boy. But, we ate.  Then we stopped in the next town for ice cream, and there were so many restaurants that looked 100 times better than the one we stopped at.  That hurt. 

However, things got much better as we headed inland to our hotel for the night.  The Pacific was behind us, with the sun setting, all orange and pink.  Ahead of us was the rising full moon, gigantic because it was low on the horizon, in a purple sky.  We stopped at the top the the mountain, and James filmed the whole thing.  It was magical.  I will always remember that moment.  I will also remember that both kids peed in that spot.  James has been doing his part to road side fire danger by peeing at every turn.  Last night’s  hotel also had a pool, and there was a brief swim before we pulled out the cards.  Unfortunately, Mich got a stomach ache, cutting the game short.  She eventually lost her dinner.  But then she felt much better and slept well.  As did James and I.

This morning we packed up and drove 4 hours home, stopping only for  fruit at a roadside stand, and lunch.

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CAB Day 6

Just arrived home from our most excellent road trip.  The kids are ensconced on the sofa with Tommy Boy, some non-educational programming.   

Let me see…I’ll start with Monday: we took off, stopping first at the local WildFlour Bakery for bread and to tour their garden.  They’re growing hops, which are going to stink up the whole town in the fall.  I know that from Germany.  

We headed straight to The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz (‎).  Smartypants say it’s all an optical illusion, but we campers were pretty awed and puzzled (a common feeling for us).  It’s an area “where the laws of physics do not apply.”  We had to wait for our tour, so we whiled away the time with some rowdy games of golf, with genuine Mystery Spot playing cards.  This was the start of being among mostly foreigners.  Lots of languages other than English being spoken.  Good for us, since we tend to say whatever we thing, especially while playing cards; a happy coincidence when nearby people don’t speak English (or at least not as their mother tongue – they’ll think that they just don’t get the nuances of our witticisms).  We ate nachos, hotdogs and what they called a grilled chicken sandwich (me); they use the term loosely.  Our tour guide was a font of bad puns and jokes.  We loved them.  

Next stop was The Seymour Marine Center, sort of a mini Monterey Bay Aquarium.  We got to touch a swell shark (it swells up to scare/frustrate predators), saw a ginormous blue whale skeleton, and strolled, safely, along the very very edge of the bluffs on Monterey Bay.   The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was waiting for us, so we made our way further down the coast.  AB does her research, so we knew that all rides were $1 after 5.  Oh yeah.  Plus, hotdogs, cotton candy and fountain sodas.  Fat city!  It was a beautiful night, a ticket line opened as we stepped up to the counter, and we were off to the races.  To start, we took the sky ski lift thing, that traverses the whole Boardwalk, so you can get an overview.  The kids talked me into doing the water logjam ride.  “We won’t get that wet.”  Right.  Then the Giant Dipper beckoned, an historic landmark wood roller coaster.  I like new things when my life is involved.  The kids went on first, as I ate way too much kettle corn (full price item), and they swore that it’s not too bad.  So, then we all went on.  I really didn’t enjoy it.  Mich stole the outrageously-priced official ride photo with her IPhone.  She is clever, and somehow I didn’t feel like it was all that wrong.  Loose morals at CAB.  You can see for yourselves, kinda, how much “fun” I had.  

CAB Coaster

After that, James went on some crazy ride with centrifugal force and dropping bottoms and almost upside down spins.  Other rides happened, along with arcade games.  We encountered a woman who needed repeated and long explanations about how the water pistol blowing up the balloon race worked.  That was weird.  Michele won anyway, and very graciously gave her stuffed toy to the stupid woman’s grandson (poor kid).  They didn’t know what hit them!  Then we ate.  Not hotdogs, sadly, but there were healthier options at the teriyaki chicken stand.  Don’t worry, we got plenty of cotton candy.  As the sun slipped into the Pacific, we headed to our hotel.  We got right into the rooftop pool and hot tub, under the stars.  James was working on his dive, and was assisted by a dude with a major tattoo (“Only God can judge me” around his neck.  We think that’s not completely true, but we waited till he was gone to discuss.  Tattoo notwithstanding, he was a nice guy).  Mich swam laps.  I didn’t.  To end the night, we got a little more card playing in, with the TV on.  

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CAB Day 4

Yeah, I know, it’s out of order.

Another hot sunny day in Sonoma County.

The big news is that the fly trap spit out the first swimmer.
Online we learned that if the bug is too big, and the leaves can’t
close completely, that’s a problem. We were actually concerned
about the swimmer’s legs that were sticking out the whole time,
rightly so, it turns out. The second swimmer will be ejected soon,
as those leaves are also starting to open. We perched the plant
outside with us all afternoon, and then in the freaking compost
pile, which is swarming with flies, but no luck. The third “trap”
is still empty. James, nevertheless, is observing twice a day,
measuring the leaves’ opening width (using Metric measurements,
very scientific) and making notes. We also brainstormed about his
art homework (a film about country life vs city life), and he got a
start writing up his Animal Farm homework. Poor kid, there was
steam coming our of his ears when he was doing that, as I prepped
dinner. He then said, “I think I’ll take a break,” went upstairs
and fell asleep. Missed dinner. I will go to bed now, since he’s
going to be up crazy early. Mich still hates The Things They
Carried, but she’s struggling along. She says it’s a great sleep

We had a power start to the day, with breakfast at the best place
in the county. Eggs, sausage, polenta, pancetta, toast and jam,
fruit, mochas. We wiped it all out. Paul Jr. headed home, to  dress for work, and the campers and I went to the Laguna Fest ( .
Paul asked us to attend the “Cannabis as Medicine” session, and
the kids wanted to check out Shepherd Bliss’ talk, since he’s an
old friend from CAB (and a secret crush of a former counselor), but
we didn’t do either. We were busy tromping around the creek,
learning about cheese making, sampling chocolates, and visiting the
clothes and book swap. Mich scored 2 great dresses and a flannel
shirt there (they’re in the washer now) and we each got a delicious
melon from the farmer. We also had ice pops: apple cider, peach/
ginger and cucumber/melon/lemon. The last flavor was the best. As
we began to make our way home James noticed a “spider” on my back,
and then another on my sleeve. Except they weren’t spiders, they
were ticks. Aunt Rose, cover your eyes. We all began patting
ourselves all over, massaging our scalps, checking for the little
buggers. We put our hands down our pants in public. Which is
fine. By the time we were done, i had pulled 9 ticks off myself;
another record set at CAB. Mich had none, but she was the
itchiest. James claims he had one, from a very private area, but
we can’t confirm that. And we don’t want to try.

So, we got home. Hit the pool. Lounged in the hot tub. Tried to
feed our fly trap. Snacked. James and I prepped our sweet corn
ice cream custard. Uncle Paul made it home. Dinner, sparkling
conversation, and here I am.

Tomorrow should be pretty chill. I did finally connect with my
blackberry source. We’re on for noon. He says there’s a bumper
crop this year (my heart leapt) but they weren’t quite ripe (it
sunk), since our weather has been cool. But that was a few days
ago, and we’ve had sunny hot days since, so fingers crossed. Uncle
Paul, or the Kenyan, as we call him, has a 16 mile run planned.

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CAB Day 5

More stories from camp…

Here is a photo sent from camp. Betsy says they are sitting in a boat in the creek. She is holding  a delicious melon.

Here is a great self shot of the counselor and campers sitting in a boat in the creek. Betsy says she is holding a delicious melon.

James was up early, as feared.  He slammed down some cereal and we  were rolling.  Out on the driveway by 7 a.m. with Juneau, getting  major acrobatic hops.  Sadly, the Go Pro wasn’t charged (dang) so we  couldn’t film.  Btw, Joe and Paul Jr. covet the thing.  What is it  about guys and gadgets?  I reminded James that Animal Farm should get  written up, and he disappeared for an hour to play video games I  think.  But, he did manage to get a good start on the thing later.  He  actually had a tick on his neck this morning.  It hadn’t bitten him  yet, and he was super cool about it.  Then we found one outside, and  had the idea to feed it to the flytrap, who we now call V Rex.  The  leaves shut tight.  You should all get a Venus flytrap.  It is a party.

Mich and Paul Jr. joined us for breakfast.  Popovers, muffins, fruit, Mom’s zucchini thing, coffee.  Mich churned the corn custard into ice  cream. 

At noon, we were off to our blackberry patch in nearby Freestone.  As  we pulled up, our host Eric was trimming the long nasty scratchy  blackberry vines so we’d have better picking.  That’s service.  The  patch was as good as I’d heard, covered in berries.  We picked 6  baskets full, and hope to go back on Thursday for more.  It is a very  satisfying activity.  We made a sauce for the ice cream and an upside  down cake out of them.  We also ate a bunch.  Eric has three beautiful  horses too, who we got to feed and pet.  Also, a 150 year old horse-drawn buggy, with the fringe on top.  “Chicks and ducks and geese  better scurry.”  Kate, you know the tune!  After that, we tasted some  of his homemade red wine applesauce.  Delicious.  Then out came some  vanilla ice cream from a local dairy.  Definitely a successful outing. 

Back at home, we all jumped into the pool.  Uncle Paul made it home,  covered in sweat but having completed his 16 miles.  We didn’t see him  for a few hours.  Johnny and his people showed up.  General hilarity ensued.  Johnny likes the hot tub.  We ate dinner, and our berry creations for dessert.  The sweet corn ice cream tasted a lot like  sweet corn.  Weird. Cold, sweet corn.  Not really.  The sauce was killer, though. Cake was good too.

 Tomorrow we travel to Santa Cruz and then to the Hearst Castle.  You  will not hear from me until we return home on Wednesday.  But you can be sure we’ll be having fun and wishing you were all with us.


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CAB Day 2 and half of 3

Sorry for the radio silence.  I meant to warn you that we were hitting the road, but time became tight.  So, here’s the story:

James and I awoke 6ish yesterday morning, because we’re the Dawn Patrol.  He downed a bowl of cereal, and we got right back into Animal Farm.  He is such a good read-aloud reader.  That book is harrowing, by the way.  After a bit, we knew we had to head into the kitchen for some Martinez party prep.  What a team we are!  We made apple pie, chocolate banana pudding (layers of homemade chocolate pudding, bananas and chocolate cookies, topped with whipped cream), soft pretzels (a recipe form Vince’s visit) and chicken taco meat.  We left the meat here for Paul Jr., as sustenance, and took all the rest with us.  On our way to get Mich in SF, we stopped at the farm and got our farm share, and also back at California Carnivores and got a fly trap.  We really liked the $60 ones, but settled for a $15 one.  More money for candy and rides at the boardwalk.  Life lessons.  Progress into the city was good.  We picked up Mich and met her fancy friend and friend’s mom, and then thought, “Easy peasy, we’re on our way to Martinez.”  But, it was not to be.  No, it was not.  We sat in traffic in the financial district, trying to get onto the Bay Bridge, with a bunch of other unfortunates for at least an hour.  Lights turned green and then red again repeatedly without our moving an inch.  Dire conditions.  At times we blocked the box, just a little; I was desperate to get every inch, without someone trying to weasel their way in, which happens people.  Actually, someone did want to do that, but my campers told me to be strong and not give an inch, even though the people were rocking a car seat, as though they had a crying baby.  Which I kinda believed, but then the NYC kids pointed out that was probably a scam.  Busted!  We became very hungry and ate all the pretzels.  Finally, we got on the freaking bridge, and were moving.  A big thank you shout out to the car pool lane.

We made it to Martinez finally and things got better rapidly.  Smiling faces of Joe and Johnny greeted us.  The kids got reacquainted while Joe prepped supper – salmon, gnocchi (Trader Joe, really good), salad.  Mich and I cut up tons of delicious fruit (credit for feeding the campers something fresh please).  Fortune was with us, because the Chavez Careys were in the midst of a fruit fly infestation (weird, right?), and we happened to have a fly trap that needed feeding.  What are the odds?  Crazy.  Dessert did not disappoint.  Lena made it home just as we were eating dinner, which made everyone happy.  Dessert did not disappoint.  After Johnny bedtime processing, and lots of good night kisses, we played a round of Apples to Apples.  Okay, I won.  Big deal.  Stop, seriously.  Then it was lights out.  James on the sofa, me on the aerobed, and Mich in the bed in Johnny’s room.  But, without Johnny, because he woke up and had to decamp to his parents’ room.  Leaving Mich in the bedroom with a door.  This set the stage for history to be made.  She slept until 8:30 this morning.  No one has seen that much sleep in that house for the last 2 years!  

Day 3 dawned.  Joe and Johnny and I were Dawn Patrol.  James joined us.  You know what Mich was up to.  The Chavez Careys did their morning work routine, and we fooled around.  By this time Johnny was totally into James, and had him jumping through any hoop he wanted.  Mostly having to do with the “windy” – that’s a fan to the uninitiated.  James taught him some dance moves, including  “the Jamesy” from back in the day.  Good times.  We ate several rounds of breakfast, and once Mich was roused, we headed to the park.  The place was jumping, which isn’t normally to Johnny’s liking, but since he had his homies he was cool, and we all had lots of hot fun.  It was already about 85 at 10 a.m.  Once we were as sweaty as possible, we headed home.  Oh yeah, we stopped at the bakery on the way to the park for muffins and croissants.  Also, acorn bread, what sign I’ve been eyeing for years, and finally decided to stop in.  A let down, to be honest.  Oh well.  We also said hello and goodbye to many trains, including a long freight train with lots of containers from China on it.  At home we hydrated and played until Johnny’s nanny, Anabelle, got there.  Then we high tailed it out of there.  Quick In N Out stop on the way home for lunch.  At this writing, the kids are out by the pool with Paul Jr.  Mich found her summer reading book on our shelf, and is cracking it.  James is trying to lure some larger flies into his trap.  

More later…

News Flash: We caught a bug in the pool, one of the hated “swimmers”, stunned it,  and fed it to the fly trap.  That thing snapped shut!  Pretty cool.  Science homework underway!

Also, sorry for the cut and paste error in the last post, re dessert.  
Note to self: sometimes it’s better not to edit things.

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