Monday, November 17, 2008

Family adventures

Most of our adventuring is done by the kids and me as Martin is busy with his classes and studying. But we have done a number of things as a family. One of those things was going for a ride on the Tilden Park Carousel on its last day of operation for the summer months. It is beautifully restored and housed in a special round building. We went again for the Scary-go-round at Hallowe'en with our neighbours Marianne and Katie. We went when it was still light out and there were many costumed little people running around. I had planned to have a night off of cooking by getting burgers (I had heard they were really good) from the kiosk attached to the Carousel but burgers were not being offered on that day. Luckily Katie and Marianne invited us to their place for dinner instead! I think we might have a rather regular swapping of dinners with them as we did Saturday eve at our place and sunday eve at theirs again this weekend. It is such a relief to have dinner at someone else's home and lovely to have guests over too.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

photos of things 1

Here are some of my photos from our life here

Mushrooms galore at Monterey Market

T-rex skeleton in the lobby of the Paleontolgy department at UCal

log steps at the discovery museum
Living Hut at the Discovery Museum - made of dead and living willow branches.
Miriam enjoying some apple-juice when we were out for fish and chips with Helen and Frank in San Francisco (or Transfersisco as Ami was calling it for awhile)
Ami's Hallowe'en costume which I made instead of doing a grant application! Mimi gives it a go!

Friday, November 7, 2008

pressure to blog has worked!

Fran and Helen at the Lawrence Hall of Science (or "Lauro hollow science" as Ami likes to call it)
Abundant heritage tomatoes at Monterey Market

Golden Gate Bridge from Sausalito

Gran, Phoebe, Ami and Mimi (and Bodhi too) outside our door on the courtyard

The MacPappas visit - Berkeley Pier

it has come to my attention that there are folks out there eager to hear more about the adventures of the MacElferts in Berkeley. My humblest apologies for disappointing you!!! i would feel even more inspired to write if YOUR blogs were updated too!!!! why not start your own?

October has come and gone since I last wrote and we have been up to all sorts of things. Hard to summarize really. Let's see.
October was a month of visitors with only one party actually logging their visit in our guest book. (I must do better remembering!)
First we had Caitlin and Panos who were with us over Canadian Thanksgiving
Second we had Helen and Frank Elfert
and Third we had Sue MacRae!

It was a busy month but the kids and I were able to see things in our new town that we hadn't ventured forth to see before. Perhaps I could write on those things in a later epistle but first I think i must tell you about one of the places we have been that is amazing. Early in the month, (and before we had visitors) we visited the Discovery Museum in Sausalito which was really fantastic. The first wednesday of the month is free and so now we have been twice! The image of the golden gate bridge posted above is from the vantage point of the museum. It is rather a difficult "museum" to define. It is an outdoor/indoor adventure "park" for the 0-7 set which is all about experiential learning. We spent a long time fishing for plastic fish, loading plastic crabs onto a crab net which you could then crank up to a dock where you stand, playing with a massive train set complete with ferry-boats (the best part for Ami). Then there were outdoor things with a real fishing boat for play and (human made) tidepools and a cave and a crow's nest climbing structure and a sandbox with hidden treasure in an old wrecked boat. Then there was the tot-spot where indoors there were these wonderful creations that were akin to water beds. They were blue and had big leather lily-pads on them. The kids can pretend they are walking on water and fall and wrestle and fool around without getting wet, knowing how to swim or hurting anyone!
All around the indoor part of the tot-spot they have buttons on the wall which you can press to make the sounds of what ever creature is depicted on the button. Things like frogs, ducks, crickets, owls...
The other side of the indoor tot-spot has a sort of underground theme where you can climb through an ant tunnel - Ami particularly likes this for some reason, the challenge is appealing i guess. I think he will miss the tot-spot when he gets too big for it. Oh yes, in the indoor part there are all sorts of cute costumes of bugs and small creatures that the kids can just put on and play in. There are also lots of puppets of animals, bugs etc.
Here is a picture of my favourite part of the Discovery Museum this last time. HUMMINGBIRDS!! whizzzing and buzzing over all this wonderful hummingbird and butterfly- friendly vegetation.. so cool. They would sit for long periods in one spot and show off their luminescent colours. It meant that i could get this great shot! I just wish Mum/Gran/Gan stayed for an extra day just to come to the DM to see the hummingbirds!!

Let me know what you would like to know more about!!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

the wonderful world of Amiel

I don't know why this says it is from September but anyway, November 16th it is...

From the end of October when walking down the street together "I am a little bit gorgeous, Mum"

"I am full of ideas"

Mid November
after jumping on a ball with handles in the bright sunshine for 45 minutes
"I am hot Mama, and a little bit watery"

Phoebe asking Miriam what she will be when she grows up -
Ami (from the other room) says, "No, she is going to be a foreman and I will be the excavator operator" Here's a picture of the foreman/bunny and the excavator operator from hallowe'en

Monday, September 22, 2008

the tale of the train trip

I hope I can remember all the details about our train trip for you. Number One, taking the train is great. It is fun and not stressful and the countryside is beautiful and they give you champagne! We had a little roomette with two seats/two bunks for our adventure on the Coast Starlight Express. We got settled into our little roomette with help from Gran/Sue/Mumand after a sad goodbye
we were on our way chugging past lots of industrial land and diggers and the whole bit. Gran had given us a "care package" of things to open up as we went along and I was able to dole those out along the way. The first and most important toy of the trip and perhaps of our time since we received it was the inflatable BCFerry. (Just so's you know, it is a spirit ship) We loved the new little crane truck and sign truck and it was these things that provided the mini catalogue of other little metal toys that caught Ami's eye and subsequently resulted in Panos sending/gifting us the famed "red excavator on the low-bed!" We also really loved the Olivia Owl pop-up book. Ginger Shaw also sent a bunch of travelling "aids" like cute little flashlights for the kids,an old Sesame Street magazine, and stickers (old address labels). We had cookies from Semlin Street (thank you Louise) which were wonderful and I was very glad that I had managed to find some real food to bring on the train that morning because we really needed it when we first got on (especially me!). Miriam was such a cute sight downing fancy salad at 9:30 AM.

Our porter was particularly wonderful. His name was Julio and he really took care of us. He brought me champagne not long after we departed and he was introducing himself to the various passengers in our car. We were on the lower level of a two level car and I think that was the best. In order to travel through the train one must walk on the upper level. Being on the lower level meant much more privacy.
We played A LOT in our little room. The Bed above just had to be lowered and both kids loved going up there and fooling around while i could sit on the chair below. Ami proudly figured out how he could go up and down by himself. We ate in the dining car and we signed up for the earliest possible lunch time so that nap time would be facilitated better. It is fun to go to the dining car and order from the menu. It is included in your accommodations charge for having the roomette. Ami had his first Kraft Macaroni and Cheese which he ate but didn't totally love, i don't think. That's my boy. I can't remember what i had!
After lunch we put the "bonk" beds (so named for what they kept doing to my head) down and i was able to put Mimi down for a shortish nap. The afternoon was spent playing with our new toys, reading books and looking out the window. The scenery was really lovely and Mt Rainier particularly magnificent. We went to the wonderful observation car but Ami preferred the fun of our "cabin". We had dinner in the dining car and we shared our table with a man who we had almost shared a table at lunch with (he was leaving when we were arriving). He was interesting and very kind to the kids. They, of course, were on their best behavior and Ami even ordered "water, please" when asked what he would like to drink! I think the waiter and the guy were amazed. I wish i could remember his name... We stopped at a rather rural station when we were dining and he told me about his delight in making up/guessing the life stories of the people he sees in public places. He was imagining all the tales of the people waiting at the station and who they were meeting and how they felt about it etc etc. Quite hilarious. After we left the station he asked me something about myself and I asked him if he would like to guess my life story. He obliged and he was remarkable accurate! He said that he thought that i was from a family of 2 or 3 sisters but I wasn't the youngest, that I worked in the arts- maybe in a sheet music store and I think there was one other thing but i can't remember. I hadn't told him anything about myself so i was intrigued by his perception of me.
After dinner we went back to our cabin and then had a shower on board the train! Who knew you could do such a thing. It was a bit nerve wracking with the moving train, the slippery floor, the cramped space, the water everywhere, the adventurous kids etc etc.
When we were in Seattle I noticed that the train went to San Francisco and this was something that I hadn't realised before. I had bought a train ticket on-line and the routing that I requested was Seattle to Berkeley. The computer booked me a ticket to Sacramento and then one on a commuter train to Berkeley. It meant that I would have to get the kids organized at 6 am to get off the train, pick up my checked baggage as well as the baggage i had in our car and cart it all over to the commuter train. I found out that the train we were on already had a stop in Emeryville which was a name i had come across when doing internet research about preschools and craigslist postings. I figured that it was close to Berkeley and then tried to find out just how close and if i could just stay on the train to Emeryville. With a bit of sleuthing, Julio found something that indicated that Emeryville was 1 mile from Berkeley. I now set in motion the idea that i would stay on the train to Emeryville and hope that somehow it would all work out with Martin picking me up at the Berkeley Train station. I had to talk to and cajole quite a few people to see if this plan would work. In the end after a rather fitful night of wondering if i was making the right decision and also sharing a mini bed with 2 other (mini) people (!) [I slept diagonally and they slept at either corner] i got off the train at Sacramento (6 AM) [I warned Ami that I was getting off the train and Mimi was still asleep] to pick out my checked baggage at the baggage car and begged the baggage guy to let them stay on until Emeryville. He agreed and Julio allowed us to stay in our cabin which was so great. Now I still had to worry because my travel plans had changed and now Martin would be picking me up at the wrong place. I knew that my little phone had the capability to text Panos' phone from Greece. However, I figured that it was out of range after the US +border as it kept telling me that my text messaging failed. I just kept trying in the morning as i really needed to know that they were warned. Then, a text message was successfully sent! I rapidly sent another with details of my change of plan which was sent successfully too. I could breathe a little again. Of course, this was very early in the morning and would Panos get this message if he were sleeping? Would they check the messages before Martin headed out to pick me up? We got off the train in Emeryville about 45 minutes before our scheduled arrival at the Berkeley Train Station. I didn't see anyone there to meet us. I didn't have any phone numbers of anyone at the housing complex. I had money for a cab to take to -where? home? Berk train station?
We wandered out to find our checked baggage and who should be standing there but MARTIN!! I was beside myself with happiness and relief and delight and exhaustion. I said "YOU GOT MY MESSAGE!!!!" he said, "no"... turns out he searched for the closest Amtrak station on the GPS, came early in case he needed to go elsewhere and VOILA! found us!
I don't know how it would have worked out if i had stuck with the original plan of transferring in Sacramento and going on the commuter train to Berkeley. All I can say is for once it was a good thing our plans were just verbal and not too well laid out!

We made it safely and Martin and Panos made their massive drive safely and I was the most overjoyed person in Berkeley!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

falling behind

I knew this would happen. I said to myself that I would blog every day in order to keep a quasi diary while we are here. The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men gang aft agley
Ah well, Here we are anyway... if there is anything you would like me to elaborate on just post a comment at the bottom of this page!

Some things that are really Berkeley about Berkeley that i haven't mentioned before....

There is curbside composting pickup. Everything organic can go in the compost including anything paper that has touched food products (pizza boxes, paper napkins etc etc.). And meat, bones eggs.

Berkeley has fought to have 7 digit dialing so in Berkeley you needn't use 10 digits! I wonder how long that will last!

Now some things we have seen and done recently...

There were 12+ varieties of grapes at Berkeley Bowl. That is a LOT of choice! How do you decide? You have Heather there who worked at a grape ranch (really!) to help you out. that's what! I also had to decide between organic bananas and fair trade organic bananas - how ethical are you?

There are stunning pink amaryllis blooming on the sidewalk's edge. I don't know if/when someone would have planted them. They look a little funny because they are just 3 foot stalks with blooms on top- no foliage at all!.

There are lots of hummingbirds around. They love all the blooms in the neighbourhood.

Yesterday Ami and I joined Francis and Simon and their dad Shannon to go to release the crawdad/crayfish that F and S had caught in the stream at the UCal campus on their way home from school last week. They brought it home in a water bottle and fed it melon and grapes. it was quite happy being served me thinks!

Thursday nights are community night for the whole CDSP community. It means a Eucharist at 5:45, drinks after, and then dinner for everyone in the cafeteria with the meals on serving plates on the set tables. It is like a dinner at someone's home and the best part is that on Thursdays i don't have to think about dinner. Another great part is that the students have to pay the minimal 7 $ or so for the meal but their families eat for free! The kids in the community just love it too and they have all taken to sitting at their own table together. After dinner they run around all over the place and everyone hopes that at least one adult or older child is keeping an eye out on the fish pond in the little courtyard next to the cafeteria! The pond provided "a half baptism" of a kid last week. Whoops.

Ami is learning all about guns from the other boys in the housing complex.... But, he still doesn't want to read the page in Babar when his mother gets killed by the wicked hunter. That's my boy! We are really into Babar these days and I found "Babar and the Wully-Wully" and "Babar and Father Christmas" at a garage sale yesterday! yippeeee!!! more Babar!!

We still don't have a phone but I would love to hear from you on Skype! You can search me using my email address! Do it! it will be fun!!

"Mum, what are white people?"
"well, have you noticed that people look different from each other?"
Mum and Dad
"well, some people are chocolate coloured, some are pink, some are papyrus coloured"
Amiel (in a rather shrieking fashion)
"but Francis said there are WHITE people"
M & D
"you'd better ask Francis about that then!"

My garage sale-ing was very successful again this week. One of the main benefits seems to be that I have a better understanding of how Berkeley is set up from driving around to all the spots.

That's enough for now.
There's always more but if I wait this will never get posted...

Monday, September 8, 2008

catching up on things

I seem to have a stack of things to relate about last week.

The kids and I went to Downtown Berkeley on Wednesday. We went to the library which was having a story time for toddlers at 10:30. The children's library at the main branch of the BPL has its own floor in the library and is really beautiful with wonderful light and lots of ROOM! We didn't last too long at the story time as it was a bit young for Amiel and he wanted to get to the potentially new digger books! He asked the librarian himself about finding digger books. She helped him find about 4 books which we then read. Then we took a little stroll around the children's library and found that they have a "great green room" which we learned came from a local bookstore when they were done with it. Amiel was totally enthralled and wanted to get IN it! We eventually did and although there were no mittens, kittens, combs, brush, mush, or quiet old ladies (whispering hush) it was totally COOL!

I opened a bank account at Washington Mutual and hopefully it won't be long before we won't have currency issues anymore. We really should have set out to get an account ASAWA (as soon as we arrived) as it takes 10 days for them to process a cheque. I am so glad that i took a wad of cash over the border as the fees for both credit cards (exchange rate not necessarily the best) and interac (really not favorable exchange rate) both seem like a generally poor idea. The kids were very patient in the bank and i resolved that we would take the bus up the hill as it was almost lunch time. I had a very limited amount of snack in my possession so when the bank took longer than expected I started to reroute our trip home in my head. The Euclid 65 bus would drop us a block from our house but only leaves downtown Berkeley every 30 minutes. We had just missed a bus when we arrived at the bus-stop but i figured it was better to wait then hoof it up the hill at this "delicate" hour (for every one's sake!). I attempted to figure out a better option but in the end I stuck to the plan and miraculously found a little supply of animal cookies in my bag! All was well! When the bus finally picked us up, little did i realise that it would be an absolute highlight for Miriam. She was totally excited about the whole experience and kept saying BUHSSS BUHSSS! She insisted on sitting with Amiel on the back bench of the bus and just kept beaming even as she tried to push my supporting hands away. She so loves the "Wheels on the Bus" song. I think that this may have been her first real bus memory/experience. [Before we left Vancouver one morning we were all in bed and Miriam was saying "booss booss" and pointing to martin's dresser which was stacked high with books. We all said, Yes! books, Mimi, books! she just kept it up until i noticed that our pop-up "wheels on the bus" was in the stacks- that's what she was pointing to!]

Wednesday was also my day for grocery shopping with Heather. We left rather later then i had hoped but that helped curtail how long we spent shopping. This time I drove and we went to Trader Joe's first. I bought fresh wholewheat pizza dough in a bag in the cooler section to make a 12 inch pizza (and also white flour one) for only $1.29 or so. I made a pizza tonight and it was great. I always feel daunted by the preparation necessary to make the dough and this is such a great/easy/cheap dinner solution.
After Trader Joe's we tryed out Berkeley Bowl which is a Berkeley landmark for great bulk grocery buying. We found out that it is a hefty regular grocery store too and marvelled at the amazing olive bar and the countless types of cheeses available. The bulk section is great but since i don't own any containers to put staples in, i relented and bought the more expensive, more traditional grocery store items. The veggies at Berkeley Bowl were a wonder as well. I managed to score 3 "dollar bags" (kiwis, apples and mushrooms [which an old hippie told me was a really great find -"you'll take them home tonight and after cleaning them you'll lightly steam them, then tomorrow you'll take them out of the fridge and sauté them ... ooo divine"])
Restocking a kitchen is quite a chore and a joy. I wish that i had made a little package for my new kitchen full of my favourite things but I am also happy that my staples went to live in some great, well deserving kitchens!
Shopping once a week has proven to be a valuable lesson in meal planning for me. I spent so much time going to Donalds and Bosa in Vancouver every week. Of course sometimes it was a welcome rest from childcare....

With the arrival of our things from Vancouver we are back in cloth diapers and I am SO wishing that Miriam would figure out the whole potty thing. I am getty very tired of diapers and already she has a big rash from her second cloth diaper... how boring.

Quotes and Cutes.
one of her favourite mid morning and mid afternoon words is what sounds like "nacque". This is of course, Snack.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Starting week 3

We're starting week 3 with most of our things! We arrived home this afternoon to 6 of the 7 boxes we were still waiting for. I hope #7 comes soon because it has things like my kitchen knives in it and other kitchen essentials. We are regretting not arriving here earlier in the summer - there hasn't been enough time to set up our house properly and now that Martin is in school I am very limited as to when i can do things to make our house "ours" and shop for the things we need. Oh well. I will just have to be zen about it all.

We were away this weekend at the CDSP first years' camp weekend at a place called St. Dorothy's Rest up in the hills north of the Bay area. It was a great way to get to know people a bit better, for some colleagues of Martin's to get to know the kids and to be looked after and cooked for. It was a lovely location and setting. As i have mentioned before... I really had no idea before coming to California that the terrain was so incredibly hilly. St Dorothy's rest is situated on the highest point of land in the immediate area but i think it must include the lowest point of land at the same time. The drop-off from the main house is really attention-getting! Not the best location for little people really. It would be very easy to tumble down a ravine off a path. The beautiful thing is that because of the ravine you feel like you are a bird among the trees when you look out from the buildings.
The weekend weather was very warm and our drive up on Friday afternoon was stiflingly hot. I don't do too well under these circumstances so I was so delighted to learn that there was a pool at St Dorothy's Rest!! It reminded me so much of the pool at the ranch and seemed to be exactly the same size and everything - I'm sure that it was relatively the same size as when i was a kid!
Amiel came swimming with me and loved it too. My core temperature was restored to "wonderfully cool" but i had to be very careful with Ams because i think we was verging on hypothermia! luckily i bundled him up and the air was still very very warm!
Another great aspect of this weekend away was that there were other kids present, including Francis and Simon. Francis is really wonderful with both Ami and Mimi and they both adore her. and it is a big help to me if she is willing/interested in hanging out with them!

On Friday the kids and I stumbled on a fun find 2 blocks from our house. We were over viewing the construction site at UC Berkeley and decided to explore a courtyard of the building were were hanging out in front. We enjoyed the shenanigans of a squirrel, tried to feed it nuts and then found that the courtyard actually took us to the next street. What did we find there? A beach volleyball court!! Yeah!! the biggest sandbox ever (apart from the real beach). We spent a bit of time there digging and such and vowed to bring back supplies for a fun time.

The box from Uncle Panos has arrived and in it was the desired red excavator and lowbed truck. It is a BIG hit and a beautiful toy - all metal. The excavator's name is Mr. Red Digger. When the delivery guy arrived we were playing with water outside and Ami was so engaged in the water that I think he even forgot that he's been eagerly awaiting its arrival for weeks! (he's been letting delivery guys know that in case they are wondering, we live in number 7 and Uncle Panos sent us a red digger and... etc etc)

The drive back from St. Dorothy's rest today included the Richmond Bay bridge which goes from North of Berkeley over to San Quentin/San Rafael. It is amazingly beautiful (see image at top of this post!) and the view is incredible. I think i will have to go on the harbour ferry soon if i can find out more about it!

Quotes and Cutes
The arrival of (most of) the toys is like Christmas for the kids. They have them in their room (how novel is this!) and they are busy making games with them (ferries and diggers are wonderful play companions) Their room looks fun and colourful now which is great. The digging tools have already been put to good use and a hole has started in the courtyard.
Both kids seem older from their weekend away. I always find that being away (in a new environment) changes them in ways that are much more tangible then with adults.

"I'm growing hair on my legs! Why am I growing hair on my legs? i don't want hair on my legs!"
"I am full of ideas"
"we are putting on a musical show" (at St Dorothy's Rest after having explored the wonderful possibilities of the extensive costume cupboard)
Very chatty. Loves to share his passions with others!

mimics everything like crazy - both in voice and gesture. ( i think she was trying out the word "watermelon" this evening) She has LOTS to say. Still gets very frustrated when she feels like an injustice has been wrought against her.
Her hair is problematic. She really needs it to be pulled back but is resistant to the means by which i can do that... out comes the elastic band... does this mean that i will have to cut it?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

campus exploring

I figured out how to at least post a photo from the internet! This is one of the places that Amiel and I explored this morning (Miriam was asleep in the stroller!) It is the Greek Theater at the University and it is located very close to our house. We had hoped to go up the bell tower/clock tower/Campanile but as it was not open today until 45 mins after we expected it to be so we did some other exploring. In the end we discovered this place, and our first real construction viewing location - right at the end of our street (Le Roy) only 2.5 blocks away from our house! We were in heaven.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Changing Patterns

Being in a new place without all our stuff (yet) has resulted in a few refreshing pattern changes.
Because we decided to freecycle our dishes in Vancouver, we have matching chinaware for the first time. We don't have a dishwasher so with our rather small kitchen we have to clean the dishes multiple times a day. I can't imagine we would be able to carry on that way of doing things if we had our dishwasher handy! But with less dishes maybe it would be necessary? It is way easier to put dishes/toys/things away when there isn't much. It is also surprisingly/unexpectedly easy to lose things in our empty house. Martin and I spend time everyday looking for things we have put down SOMEWHERE... We need to establish where things "go" in order to find them again. I think that we are making headway on the dog-leash, keys and wallets.

I now have to plan when i would like to do laundry as we share coin laundry with the rest of the families in the complex. I really needed to do it today as we had two wet beds last night (Miriam is taking off her diaper more and more - i am taking it as a sign of good things to come) so luckily there was a spot open this afternoon for me to do the job.
I am also planning meals/food more. The effort it takes to get inexpensive food here is much more than at home. I either have to get our our car from an incredibly small parking spot under our complex (and return it to same said spot) or I have to walk DOWN to the expensive local shops which is all very well on the way there... It gives one pause for thought either way.

This morning our whole family walked to
Codornices Park where the kids and I have visited a few times already. (it seems less and less uphill every time you go there!) It was a chance for the kids and I to show Martin the great 40-foot cement slide built on the hillside, the park's creek and the Rose Garden across the road (actually through a tunnel if you are walking). The slide is really something else. It seems like a grandfathered piece of terrifyingly fun park equipment. Gone are the teeter-totters and the merry-go-rounds but not the SLIDE. Strangely in this land of lawsuits there isn't even a warning sign of the dangers of hurtling down a cement slide or the inherent risks of using a piece of cardboard to make you go FASTER! Parents and kids alike enjoy it and much screaming ensues). Amiel is getting to be an expert and today was brave enough to try out the cardboard. (People seem to bring old box pieces to the slide and leave them there for every one's enjoyment). Miriam took her first ride today and did the requisite joyful screaming even on the first run. (don't worry, she hasn't gone down alone - though I'm sure she'd be game...) We enjoyed a picnic in the park and Miriam wolfed down her chicken sandwich like a pro!

The Rose garden was very beautiful and Bodhi became our third child in the stroller as dogs are not allowed in the garden. Roses are not in their prime right now but some of them still smelled amazing. I didn't smell very many but my favourite was the "Handel" variety. Seeing the kids smelling the roses is priceless. The amphitheatre structure of the garden (though not really conducive to strollers) is really neat and the view of the Golden Gate Bridge is excellent.

I was just looking on the Internet to see if there were any pictures of the hills of Berkeley and came across a site which headlines the very hill the Martin needs to ascend to get to his first class tomorrow morning. The mentioned "first block past Euclid" is part of the route to Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. And he thought that signing up for Hebrew was the challenge of the semester... (I'm not sure how he will get there - will keep you posted!)

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Being in Berkeley means that we will have buns of steel by the end of our time here. It is so hilly that even though we are basically at sea level, both Martin and I likened our experience here to being in Banff or Aspen where we blamed our exhaustion on the altitude. We figure now that we really just were not used to climbing hills.
Because we don't have a fenced yard it means that Bohdi goes for walks a couple of times a day. This is a wonderful place to take little strolls. There is a wee ravine about a block from our place with a little creek running in it. The streets tend to follow the geography which is really refreshing. I realize how little of our natural geography we enjoy in Vancouver - with all the streams paved over and all...
Another benefit of walking Bodhi is seeing all the amazing flora around here. Who knew that jade trees could possibly be weed-like! There are gardens around here with MASSIVE succulents and unusual black flowers and cacti with fruit on them. I will photograph them soon.
Walking also allows you to take part in the Berkeley tradition of free-cycling. Even on my second day here I partook of it! I figure that I freecycled so much of my own house in Vancouver that I really aught to get as much as i can on this "network"! So far I have acquired

note cards
salt and pepper in grinders
a playground style ball for the kids
an original copy/box of the game of Clue with only the miniature knife missing!
2 wire baskets now holding my linnens and shoes
a present for Panos!! (an unopened package of dog biscuit cutters and recipes!)
a purple vase
literature (!)

Climbed a rather substantial tree in our courtyard today and climbed down again! Organised his friends here to play diggers with him and they started making a worksite...

Ami is still waiting for his package from Uncle Panos. He predicts that our big boxes will arrive the day after his package does... we shall see.

Chattering away all the time --loves the baby (and all its accoutrements) that are on loan from Frances.
I think she is getting molars. I have thought this before but she is wakeful in the night (it is really cute though because she just talks and talks and talks to me... i wish i could let you know what about specifically...)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

First Blog Post ever

I wanted to start my recounting of our time in Berkeley from the beginning but the days are going by so fast and the experiences we are having are so numerous that I think I will just start with today and hope that one day I will have time to write about the first week in its entirety.

Today, August 30 2008
Starts out a bit cooler than it has been this past week. A bit of fog on the mountain to the east of us and overcast. Afternoon saw bright sunshine and warmth again.

Garage sales today – mostly not fruitful but we got a kitchen table and 4 chairs from Ikea for 20$ and … we didn’t have to go to Ikea! Our GPS takes us all over Berkeley to the sales listed on craiglist and the Berkeley Parents Network (an amazing online resource for parenting and just general living!) in the area.

Lunch of omelet and green beans from the freezer– kitchen not yet full of food for meals since we have been eating in the refectory all this week.

Grocery shopping trip with Heather my neighbour here at the CDSP family housing. She has 2 kids as well (ages 8, Simon and 10, Frances) and is in Martin’s class. I see her a lot because Ami and Mimi love her kids and A and M love to go over to Heather’s house to play with all their stuff and climb on the loft-bed etc etc.
Heather (our neighbour) gifts us real cutlery from her trip to Ikea last night
No more plastic cutlery!!! Now if I could just have some real knifes to cook with! Heather and I go to one of her favourite stores Trader Joe’s. It has lots of really nice looking food, cheeses, dairy items, snacks and hard liquor at the grocery store! Bottles of wine for $1.99 or less if you buy a case! Reminds me of Famous Foods somehow- if only Famous Foods would carry alcohol!
Then the GPS takes us on a beautifully scenic route along the bay to...
Monterey Market-akin to Donald’s Market only much much more! Cross between a farmers’ market and a bulk store and a neighbourhood market – wow. We didn’t even see the bulk section until we were at the till. Next time… We asked when the best/least busy time to shop was and they recommended Wednesday –which is great for us! Heather and I are planning on carpooling for shopping trips in the future too. I bought Heritage variety tomatoes- enormous and miniature, plums from the 7 or so possible locally grown organic varieties, California strawberries which taste so much better than any California strawberries I’ve ever had in BC, beets in 2 colours, and our favourite breakfast cereal- Mesa Sunrise!

Martin and Miriam pick lemons from the tree in the neighbour’s yard – SO fragrant and JUICY!! I put half a lemon in the salad for dinner! Yum
Dinner of purple and yellow beets, humus, greek salad, naan bread and corn tortillas with strawberries for dessert. YUM! We drink Riesling from Australia acquired on my Safeway shopping expedition the other night.

Evening Bears game at Cal – screaming crowds, airplanes flying overhead, fireworks, traffic mayhem. Stadium is about 1km from our home.

The kids activities, quotes and cutes

“Ah-Ami” (repeated all day long) I think it is from me saying Our Ami. She devotedly follows him around wanting to spend lots of time with him.
Licking her whole finger when reading a book in order to turn a page. She loves books “buhs”
“Noss” (nosh) while dragging me to the nearest chair…
Enjoying the kids’ culture of our family housing– getting more and more into varied creative play (not just diggers and ferryboats!)
Is sure that his package sent from Panos of a new red digger with a red low-bed will arrive any moment. He is looking out for delivery trucks on the street at all times. We get notifications every time a truck goes by…
Last night at the pizza parlour when drinking water “ I am drinking poison, but it isn’t poisonous”. Today after being out all afternoon-

Martin-“We have to wash our hands because the outside world is full of germs”
Ami- “and the night is full of dreams”