What's New? 2005-10-01

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What's New? 2005-10-01

 Monday 31 October 2005
  Happy Halloween!

We celebrate at Isaac's school with the pumpkin exhibition and a costume show. Here's Principal Willem Vroegh dressed in the Harry Potter vein of imagination. (I'm so happy he's unperturbed by the occasional mutterings about Halloween being vaguely Satanic, which he does get.)

Principal Willem Vroegh

Here's Isaac's class; he's the yellow-clad firefighter at left. That's Mrs. Chan, behind him. He really likes his teachers, which makes learning so much easier. Often he (and Lila) make artwork at home especially to be presented to her. So, so nice.

Isaac's class

I have to head home to work, but on the way I notice an abnormal plume of smoke to the east. I stop off at the Randall Junior Museum because they've got a great view.

I can tell the source is somewhere close to 16th at Valencia, a frequent snacking area. Two people sitting on a bench near-by tell me they saw many explosions and loud reports. I can't imagine what sort of explosive material is there, in a residential neighborhood with a smattering of body shops and some industrial shops. (It turns out that it was a propane filling area, with subsequent explosions being the filled portable tanks. Whoops!)

propane explosion in the Mission
 Sunday 30 October 2005
  After breakfast Lila decides to wear her heart leggings on her head instead of the socially-accepted convention. This seems to greatly amuse her, and she requests photographic evidence.

Lila's headdress

We grant Isaac's ever-present wish for mass transportation by riding MUNI for a while. He decides to wear his butterfly wings for the trip. (Lila brought hers but choose to leave it in my backpack.) Here are the kids looking out the front of the train, with Isaac narrating the procedures and the stations.

Cherub Isaac on MUNI

We take the L Taraval line all the way out to the zoo, and head over to Ocean Beach. Here's Isaac balanced atop a rock next to the coast highway. That's ice-plant in the background, an erosion barrier. We played along the shore and discovered many sand dollars washed ashore.

Isaac at Ocean Beach

We got back later than we expected, and the kids were so tired they were asleep as soon as we finished dinner.

I took a late-night stroll into the Castro to have a snack and ran into a pre-Halloween crowd. The streets were closed off and the streets were filled with revelers. Yea, Castro! (Strange colors courtesy of my Treo.)

 Thursday 27 October 2005
  I take another few daytime hours off to parent, this time taking Lila to a coöperative pre-school near our house. Here's a view centered on the play structure and sandbox. That's Lila, in pink, tossing herself down the slide.

Rocky Mtn. pre-school

In this view you can see the small building behind, in which we ate snacks and read books. It's a fun place, close to home, and a nice change of pace. Thanks, Lila, for having me take you today.

Rocky Mtn. pre-school
 Sunday 23 October 2005
  One of our family's Halloween traditions is the trip to the Arata's Farm Pumpkin Patch in Half Moon Bay. Here we go again!

It's an overcast cool day as we leave the house early this morning. Early because circumstances have us going on a weekend-day, rather than the usual week-day we frequent to avoid the crowds.

Since we leave on time and are a bit early - we're meeting friends - we stop off at a beach near Pacifica to enjoy the water, sounds and smells, and the seaweed. We run and play and examine many, many kinds of seaweed.

pacifica - beach seaweed

We park right near the entrance and tumble out. It's warm(er), and we doff our coats and stuff them into the trunk. Arata's looks great, as usual.

arata - entrance

Our friends arrive. Here's Serafina, Lila, and Isaac in one of the pumpkin patches. It wasn't easy getting them to pause and pose; the hay-ride tractor was passing us by, and the kids wanted to heft every pumpkin for purchasing consideration.

arata - pumpkin patch pose

There's so much to do! Here we're taking our turn at the petting zoo; that's goat chow in the ice cream cone. The goats, of course, aren't at all hungry and could care less about more food. But they are cute and cuddly and that's what counts.

arata - feeding goats

This year the kids are allowed to venture into the huge haybale maze all by themselves (making Rose completely nervous). Isaac has been leading the way, and I've had to insist that he allow everyone take turns. It's been a big success. Even I was invited to take a turn later on, and we ranged through the entire structure.

arata - in the hay maze

San Francisco peninsula One of Rose's family's traditions is to visit Pastorini's Pumpkin Patch, a short way inland. Our success at avoiding the crowds failed as we turned onto Highway XX. Stop and go. Horrid. It takes us almost three-quarters of an hour to go 1.0 mi (1.6 km).

It turns out that the problems is the police traffic control. They're stopping traffic far too often to allow people to cross from Pastorini's Farm to another pumpkin patch across the road.

Of course we don't know that until we arrive, which we do just as the farms close and the police leave. The kids get to play around both farms for a while, but the pumpkin pie is sold out. Still, Rose gets her fill, the kids get to work out their tired muscles, and I deem it a success (or feel like an idiot for taking the drive inland).

Here's a panoramic view of Pastorini's Farm, taken from a spot directly in front. The staff were so nice to us, letting us park in the most convenient spot and chatting with us as they close up. A class act, that. Thanks.

pastorini's panorama

We finish up the day by driving by the "pumpkin house" near Twin Peaks. They have rows of lighted pumpkins across the windows of both floors of their place. The kids love it. This picture doesn't do it justice.

S. F. pumpkin house
 Saturday 22 October 2005
  The city government of San Francisco decided to celebrate the children remaining in our city with the Family Festival 2005 at Yerba Buena Gardens, downtown. With a focus on low-income families, and providing resources to children in general, it's a fun day in the park. Here's San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, playing the crowd. He seems to mean well, and say the right things, but there's not a lot of follow-through.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom

Lots of arts and crafts without terrible crowds, so the kids actually get a chance. Here's their dia de los muertos-style statues which are to be exhibited at City Hall.

making Mexican statues

Really appreciated were this Hawai'ian troupe; the dance and song held the crowd's attention. (I looked all over for their name, to give them credit, but the city website doesn't keep any archives (nor, in fact, much of any value) so we're out of luck. Sorry.)

Hawai'ian dancers
 Friday 21 October 2005
  Today I did some daytime parenting (and pushed off my work work to the evening). I took Lila to Willa's play-group, where she stopped the show by leaping from the top of the climbing structure into the fluffy landing pillows below.

Lila leaps from play-structure

Later we hung out on Twin Peaks, enjoying the tourists and the sunlight. Llia nibbled through her lunch box while sitting on the rock wall.

Lila on Twin Peaks
 Thursday 20 October 2005
  At our shul we're having a concert of Sephardic music. It's just fantastic. I love the cultural in-your-face difference (from my Ashkenazi upbringing). "Dziadziu" was there, and the kids behaved very well in spite of the non-playground style of entertainment.

Sephardic music at Mogen David
 Sunday 16 October 2005
  "Wait!", you say to me, "isn't this photo blurry beyond belief?"

Yep. It turns out both of my Exilim cameras are suffering from dust in the lens mechanism. It seems that dust from a pocket is enough to gum up the mechanism. I'm very dissapointed. The work-around - at least for the moment - is to zoom in a bit. Rose didn't know that, so this is what you see when looking at me holding baby Jessica on Isaac's head with Lila egging me on.

cousins Jessica & Matthew

We're in Union City, with Aunt Mindy and Uncle Neil and their kids Jessica and Matthew. We're at their local pumpkin patch; much bigger than our city patch but much more spread out.

Here's a panoramic look covering the pyramid of haybales and the field of pumpkins. The last two photos are taken with my Treo 600.

 Saturday 15 October 2005
  Every week, in Isaac's classroom, one student - who hasn't received any discipline in the previous week - is chosen at random. Last week we were overseas; guess who got it this week? Yep. (Clarification: Isaac said Titanic is his favorite movie. He actually means a documentary about Robert G. Ballard's search for the Titanic, not the Hollywood tripe of the same name.)

Star Student of the Week

Autumn in San Francisco isn't the colorful leafy event I remember from Boston. We start our day at Japantown, where we notice the foliage amidst in the babbling waters of the Peace Plaza memorial.

Japantown Peace Plaza

Inside Japantown the kids are splitting a SPAM musube at May's Coffee Shop.

May's Coffee Shop

Here's the reason for our early morning: the opening of the de Young museum in Golden Gate Park. This is the scene at 10:00, the time given as the opening. See the long queue?

de Young, day

Unfortunately, there was either a mistake or a change of plans. The VIPs filled the museum, and the hoi-polloi were told to stand in line for another two hours. Luckily, perhaps with the presence of a half-dozen SFPD officers lounging around the pool registering, the anger raised in the stroller-wielding crowd was sublimated to furious drinking of vanilla lattes on 9th Avenue.

We opted to enjoy the Children's Playground near the Carousel, visit a pumpkin patch in the Inner Sunset, and return later.

pumpkin patch

Well, later isn't any better. The queue's length around 10 p.m. was unbelievable, stretching all the way down to JFK Boulevard and towards the Conservatory of Flowers as far as my eye could see. (Email received from readers notes that some stood in the line for 00:40 to 04:30 to get in; hardcore!)

de Young, night

Entertaining the crowd to the side of the queue were these Mexican artists doing a mandala with colored sands.

de Young street artists

Not an auspicious beginning to the de Young's second life. The organization seemed completely unprepared for the turn-out and incapable of appropriately reacting. Let's hope they gain competence quickly.

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