Early in the Morning

June 30, 2014

This is what I love. Getting up early enough to see the sun, low in the sky, shining through the kitchen window.




The sun shines through the bottles…



… and onto the island.




Nice, huh?



The Jetsons

June 29, 2014


I didn’t know this about Fresno… that it was this relentless expanse of urban sprawl, reminiscent of Phoenix or Scottsdale or Tucson or Mesa, Arizona, all laid out on a giant grid, one mall after another, after another….

Maybe all this development has happened relatively recently. Maybe Fresno was once a central valley ag town with a core area and older neighborhoods surrounded by fields, orchards, rotating crops, pastures… but isn’t any longer. Maybe it still is and we only saw the new stuff. But wow.

There are huge (like eight-lanes-across huge) boulevards that extend for miles and miles across town in all directions. They seem built to accommodate traffic that is not yet there. There are elaborate traffic signals at the intersections, again designed to manage traffic not yet there.

Off the main drags are subdivisions and housing developments with names like Harrington Estates (made that up), each neatly contained behind some wall or landscaped barrier, the entrances of which are overly stately and/or decorated with some combination of fountain, gate, line of flags, flower-filled terrace, or all of the above.

There are strip malls and shopping centers everywhere and they all seem similarly adorned with palm trees, corner water features, stamped concrete traffic circles and very organized, manicured landscaping. The malls all have the usual suspects: Starbucks, Pet Smart, Five Guys, Subway, Office Max or whatever.

If we wanted, say, a Jamba Juice, we’d enter it into the Garmin and up would pop a dozen options, none very far from where we were, and off we’d go, zig-zagging through the grid to the nearest one.

There are ready cuisine choices of any type. All have their own distinct and recognizable design and layout, menus, seating options.  It’s just weird. And yet all kind of normalized.

So, Jim and I are sitting at a Starbucks, in the middle of one of these new, clean, modern shopping centers, eating from pre-packaged meal boxes that we’ve come to know will be available at any Starbucks we walk into, reviewing our options for lunch later that afternoon. The boys might want an In ‘N Out, or a Chipotle, or a Rubios, and whatever the choice, they know exactly what to expect, they know their personal orders.

And it suddenly struck me, that it felt like something out of the Jetsons. It all felt uber mechanized and modern. GPS’ing around at 90 degree angles felt robotic. All we needed were little flying cars.

I couldn’t help but wonder what our grandparents would think if they were suddenly brought back for a little glimpse of the future. … future defined as only a couple-three decades after their passing. Could they have imagined this is what would become of life in modern cities?

The photo is of a drive-in sushi place.


Three Down…

June 28, 2014



… and one to go.

Fresno Tournament. One game Friday night, two games today.  Peter’s on the mound bright and early tomorrow, for the fourth and final. Think good thoughts.



June 27, 2014

Beautiful Fresno. What makes it beautiful is its view of the Sierra and its proximity to Yosemite… certainly not its miles and miles of urban sprawl in an endless grid configuration and strip malls on every block.  None of that matters, as this trip is more about the experience of playing here with the Davis varsity team in this elite annual high school tourney–the Buchanan Tournament. I won’t say much more about it since Peter won’t be playing until Sunday, but he’s getting some good dugout and social time.  So far, so fun. 

A few photos to post ..

Nice shot of the sky as we took off this morning:



A mediocre shot of the Old Spaghetti Factory dinner crowd:




A baseball cake for the Walker twins, who turned 17 today!



Nice to know the boys haven’t outgrown the excitement of a birthday cake. 




Not Baseball

June 26, 2014

Okay, I actually have another favorite sport besides baseball. My sport. My real sport, the one that defined me through high school and part of college. While I never got quite this far–to the US Track and Field Championships–I have accomplishments and medals I’m pretty damn proud of.  Yay 14 to 23 year-old me!


Here are some shots from today’s opening day of the four-day meet, held at the newly upgraded, state-of-the-art track in Hornet Stadium, Sac State (so, so nice).


We got there just as the 800 heats were starting. This is a very pregnant (34 weeks) Alysia Montano. She’s the five-time national 800m champion and was not expected to win, but it’s cool she ran:


This is what she looks like when she’s winning championship races (found on interwebs):



Here is the rest of the pack, far ahead of Alysia.



Then we (Madeline B and myself) left our spot at the finish line (great seats) and wandered across the field to watch the women triple jumpers. We found some empty seats in the jumping coach’s section, and realized we were sitting among coaches, teammates and friends of the jumpers, which made for a pretty intimate community around us… fun. Here one shot (of many) that I took. The best of the women were getting about 44-45 feet.  Such an awkward event, but fascinating. Hat’s off to these guys!


Meanwhile, lots of races were going on.. all first-round heats for races that will be decided later in the meet. Besides the 800m, we saw some 1500m heats, some 400m and 100m heats (nice!) and the women’s 3000m steeple chase.

The men’s and women’s 100m was probably the highlight for me. Women were running in the 11.3 to 11.9 range. I will have to look up my 100m times at UCD, but I thought it was in the mid to high 12s… like 12.7 maybe?  I’m so bad at meter times, since my track events for most of my years were measured in yards.

Here are some shots of the 100m:

Pre-race concentration. This is Allyson Felix who won gold in the 2012 Olympics in the 200m (my favorite race).  She’s won three gold medals so far and seems to be going strong. I’m pretty sure she qualified to move on.


Another woman stretching… or chilling (I think it’s Alexandra Anderson):



Here they are in blocks:


I missed the best part of this race, but like the picture anyway because MUSCLES.



Here are some guys… not sure who, but watching sprinters back into their blocks is always a huge thrill.. much adrenaline for me:



Some 100m sprinter, pre-race (yes, that’s Spider Man-wear):


And, as we were walking out (and talking to Desmond J, whom we saw in the bleachers!), caught a little of the women’s 3000m steeple chase:


Will miss the rest of the meet, but was so glad to have seen a few hours of it.  Great, great energy.






June 25, 2014

I’m a little short on subject matter for the day, blogly speaking.  I could use a picture I took tonight at the annual Little League District 64 9-10 Tournament, at which I was a scorekeeper (no surprise), and how cool it was because, after all these years, they’ve built a deluxe, permanent booth for the scorekeepers and announcers behind the plate on the west field, but that would be a baseball picture, and I thought maybe I’d give it a rest.

Here it is anyway:


The real thing to notice about this shot is the size of those players.  Cute.  (That would be Dixon v. Vacaville Central… take you back?)

Instead, I’m going to run with a shot of Jim’s handiwork… the mount mentioned in yesterday’s post, the one he built out of a branch from the front yard sycamore tree, on which will hang Peter’s new guitar.

So… here is the before:


Here is the after, after relocating a couple mountain photos:



And here is a close-up.  Clever guy.


I realize it’s a bit hard to appreciate… the room was dark and boosting the light in my very sophisticated iPhone-based photo-editing program didn’t really help the image much.  But there it is.

And yeah, I really did just blog about a guitar mount.  Desperado here at twenty-to-midnight.


Sixteen. Sweet!

June 24, 2014

Milestone birthday today.

I just think the world of this young man.  Here is a snap shot of who he is, as of June 24, 2014

He’s a nice guy.

He’s very into music. 

He still enjoys playing baseball.

He has a bunch of long-standing, great friends. 

School’s not too bad. 

He’s driving.

He’s okay hanging out with us (when that happens).

He’s independent, confident and comfortable with himself.

He loves to hike, loves to climb mountains, loves the Sierra.

Acne’s fading, braces are coming off soon. 

As I write this, he’s working on a Pink Floyd song. 


Here are some birthday shots:


We had dinner at the Buckhorn in Winters. Jim and I had fish dishes, Peter had ribs, a petite filet wrapped with bacon and some deep fried prawns. And some thin onion rings. And root beer. And their special birthday ice cream cake. (Lordy.)

Peter was behind the wheel; it was a lovely drive:



We came home for dessert (round two for some of us):

This year, Peter wanted a coconut cream pie, which I made this afternoon and finished just before we took off for Winters. First time I’ve ever made one of these. Picked a recipe called the Triple-Threat CC Pie which won a prize at somebody’s state fair. They say.

Here you can see the custard part (coconut milk, whole milk, sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch, coconut extract, butter, vanilla, and toasted coconut). And in the background you can see the crust… a basic crust with pieces of toasted coconut embedded.  The top layer was whipped cream with added vanilla and I sprinkled over the very top more toasted coconut and shaved white chocolate. It turned out quite okay, if you like that sort of pie.



Here what it looked like in the end:


So, anyway, we each had a piece and then it was time for presents. Peter got birthday cards and birthday money from grandma, uncles, aunts, etc. From us, he got a t-shirt with a representation of the standard model something we learned about in that documentary about the Higgs Boson particle (Particle Fever) that we saw on Jim’s birthday and Peter loved; a planner (what organizationally-challenged high school junior doesn’t need one of those?); and mount that Jim made out of a branch from Peter’s sycamore tree (the tree we planted in our front yard when Peter was born and which was initially fertilized by Peter’s placenta.. uh, yeah).  After he opened that, and politely said, “Cool,” Jim said, “Wait, did we forget one?” and looks at me, and I go, “Oh, yeah, there’s one other, I’ll go get it,” and I go away and come back with a big box that seems a lot more promising and Peter opens it and it has a guitar in it. Aren’t we just the funniest parents?  So here’s that:


The sycamore branch mount will go somewhere on a wall in Peter’s room so the guitar will be at the ready any time. That is very cool, no?

All in all, a nice birthday for our great kid: