Sophia and Avery

“Grandma, can we go to the pet adoption place?” Of course! Today there were seven kittens.DSC01966Sophia is really good with the kittensDSC01976but the kittens are more like slippery eels when Avery tries to hold them.DSC01968DSC01973Checking out 12-string and 6-string guitars before the ukelele lesson began:DSC01977

Luke & Julie’s wedding

Luke Rankin was a student in the first Westside Charter School 7th-grade class where I was “teaching head-teacher” – one of my best and most memorable years of teaching. Luke was an excellent student – a great kid in all ways. When his mom Sheila asked me where I thought he should go for high school after 8th grade, I suggested Rio Linda High School and told her, “He will be a star.” And he was, valedictorian of his class; I was invited to his baccalaureate at Calvary Lutheran Church. Luke went off to college in the midwest, then got a Fulbright Scholarship to Russia; back in the USA, he went into banking in the Bay Area. Today I went to his wedding in San Jose at Willow Glen United Methodist Church.DSC01916Luke with his mother Sheila:DSC01919DSC01924DSC01925DSC01927DSC01932DSC01940DSC01943I sat with an old family friend, Angi, on my left. It was wonderful to hear stories about Luke and Julie over the past five years since they met. On my right was Javan, who has known Luke since he first started at Chase Bank. When Luke came to our table, he said, “It’s no accident that you two are sitting next to each other. You were both my mentors, one in school and one in business.” While Luke left Chase Bank after a few years, he and Javan stayed in close contact … the mentorship continues.DSC01946

San Giovanni Day

Today is San Giovanni day, also known as the holy feast day of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist – and it falls right after the summer solstice. Tradition has it that today is also the day to harvest walnuts for┬ánocino, a delicious coffee-brown walnut liqueur. All the ingredients were assembledDSC01894along with good friends. The ancient Nocino tradition holds that green walnuts need to be gathered by barefoot virgins. We got the barefoot part right, anyway.DSC01902Checking out Justin’s lush and perfect lawn. Phyl, “I sink in up to my ankle!”DSC0190330 walnuts, washed and dried.DSC01905Cut in half. Not easy, I needed a big chef’s knife. The walnuts are picked now, just before the hard shell begins to form.DSC01906The final product will now sit in a sunny place for 40 days and will be shaken once/day. According to what I’ve read, the liquid will first turn “sinister green” then “the tea-brown of bayou swamp water,” and finally “black as cowboy coffee”. DSC01910We visited the pigs.DSC01909A good time was had by all. The first annual E Nicolaus San Giovanni Day was a huge success!DSC01911

Sophia and Avery

This week, Sophia had golf camp at Teal Bend Golf Course. DSC01888She was really hoping for an opportunity to drive a golf cart, but I think this is as close as she got.DSC01892Meanwhile Avery did some butterfly stalking. Although he’s a fast runner, he’s still slower than butterflies.DSC01890

Home again

Just a half mile down the road from our cabin was this almost-life-size metal sculpture. DSC01872DSC01874Before leaving, we had breakfast at Sugar Pine Cafe,DSC01876then a stop in Merced for our traveling drinks. DSC01878When you’re gone for a few days, the changes at home can be dramatic, like these crape myrtles at Justin’s driveway.DSC01881

Yosemite – day 3

We parked at our first opportunity, unloaded the bikes and rode to Yosemite Fall.IMG_0412As we walked closer to the fall, we heard singing. A choir of Japanese students put on an impromptu 2-song performance – it was beautiful.IMG_0415IMG_0419More riding, to Half Dome Village, which used to be called Curry Village. There are more than 400 tent cabins here – they look HOT to me.DSC01838Rafters are assisted into the slow-moving river by a park employee – it was clear (and funny) that some rafters had never put an oar in water.DSC01835DSC01841We drove to Glacier Point, above the valley. The views were amazing. Nevada Fall, which is above Vernal Fall:DSC01849Yosemite Valley, Half Dome is to the right:DSC01853A better view of the valley, Half Dome barely visible at right:DSC01866In the past, people have gone out onto this point of rock to have their picture taken, but now there is an impassable fence. In the background, Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls.DSC01864

Yosemite – day 2

Yosemite is very crowded all the time, but summer is the busiest. The earlier you get started the better. First stop, Bridalveil Fall.DSC01781Riding bicycles turned out to be the best way to get around on the valley floor – lots of paved paths – and parts of the park are closed to general traffic, only the shuttle bus, bicycles and pedestrians are allowed. Sweet.DSC01785The Merced River:DSC01788Next stop, the Mist Trail to Vernal Fall. The trail was only 0.8 mile but all uphill, therefore slow.DSC01792DSC01812DSC01806Ample bike parking.DSC01815The upper pool of Mirror Lake:DSC01823Formerly known as the Ahwanee Hotel, it’s now called the Majestic Yosemite Hotel.DSC01827The dining room:DSC01830Beauty is everywhere.DSC01797Yosemite Falls in the distance.DSC01796It was a hot day – the 90s in the park, 104 in Mariposa. Ice cream from the Sweet Shop was a very good idea.DSC01834Lots of biking, hiking, and sweating – a good night’s sleep was assured.

Yosemite – day 1

Adrienne and I left for a little adventure today – a few days at Yosemite National Park. Hurray, we took our bicycles!DSC01758Because all the hotels in and near Yosemite were booked, we rented a cabin near Mariposa through VRBO – the Poppy Cottage.DSC01760Very cute 2-bedroom cabin down the hill and across the gravel road from the owners.DSC01766A very nice deck in the back.DSC01763After settling in, we drove back to Mariposa to explore and have dinner.DSC01770After asking a few shopkeepers about their favorite restaurant in town, we chose Castillo’s.DSC01772

Bike ride

Yes, I ended up buying one! The Yuba Mundo is about 55 inches from wheel hub to wheel hub and would not fit on my bike rack, so Thais dropped me off at Practical Cycle in Old Sacramento and I rode it back to her house where it will stay. I am really looking forward to using it when I watch Sophia and Avery on Tu and Th afternoons.DSC01757Later in the day, Thais sent me a few pictures. Rolling three-deep:IMG_6290Cousin Cameron also got a ride.IMG_6297