Some odds and ends:
- My three kids have now officially been introduced to the "Quit Touching Me" game. Since we weren't in our own minivan, but in my in-laws' borrowed SUV, we had to put all three child safety seats next to each other, so they could all grab each other. Even the 11-month-old Happy Boy got into the act; he got quite a kick out of gently grabbing the Pillowfight Fairy's nose when she let it wander a little too close. We had to tell everyone to knock it off on plenty of occasions. Geez, it's frightening how much I sound like my dad.
- On a recent library trip, my daughter picked up this book. She fell in love with it. (I however did not, for reasons that are a bit too long and dour to relate in this post.) At any rate, the Pillowfight Fairy decided that she wanted to be named Chrysanthemum, just like the eponymous mouse in the story. She has been introducing herself under this name to everyone she happens to meet--like the child care people at the memorial service. They never did figure out her real name until we came to pick her and her sister up. In fact, they tried to get the real name out of her younger sister, the Adrenaline Junkie. Unfortunately, the Junkie (who was being as helpful and as truthful as only a three-year old can be) still can't quite pronounce the letter "R" properly--it comes out like a "W" sometimes, a la Elmer Fudd. The Pillowfight Fairy's true name is short, unusual, and has an "R" in it, so the Junkie's Elmer Fudd impression of her name was every bit as incomprehensible as the Pillowfight Fairy herself.
- Sacramento is still here, but barely. It seems that while we were away, the city was hit by a whopper of a winter storm, with wind gusts topping 80 miles per hour. As we were heading home tonight, we occasionally saw evidence of this fact. Most buildings and trees looked all right; but there were a few orchards outside of town that had trees down, and there were some trees and signs down inside the town. Our own neighborhood looks to be intact, but a little ratty from all the debris. As a side note, just after we moved into this house four years ago, we had an old, giant California Blue Oak in our yard blow over in a similar storm--damaging the second story of a neighbor's house, and taking down a whole bunch of fences in the process. Well, just down the street there is another Oak of similar size, age and species, and (thankfully) it is still up. We were wondering there for a while, as we were hearing news stories about various hundred-old trees going over and flattening nearby houses.
- My older brother and his wife flew down to Southern Cal for the memorial. They got lucky. If I remember their story correctly, their flight down (on Thursday) was delayed by less than an hour. Had they taken off on time, they would have had clear sailing. But about twenty minutes after their scheduled departure time, as they were still waiting on the ground, the rain hit--in torrents. The plane had a rather bumpy take-off and climb-out. But had they been delayed much longer than that, they would have been completely canceled, along with every other flight in and out of Sacramento. And say a prayer for them--last I heard, their flight (scheduled to take off 6:00 this evening) had been delayed at least until 10:30 tonight.
- For those in my readership that aren't up on their California geography, Southern California is separated from the Central Valley of California, where Sacramento is, by a decent-sized mountain range called the Tehachapis. There aren't too many ways to get from the Los Angeles area to Bakersfield, because of all the mountains in the way. There are two good-sized mountain passes, and there is a coastal highway, and that's about it. There was some question after this storm as to whether the mountain passes would be open; and we got lucky, as the coastal route would have added at least two hours to what was already going to be a nine-hour drive. Anyway, we took the route home that gets the least traffic of the three, and we've decided we like it the most. This route goes north out of San Bernardino across the Tehachapis, and through the Mojave Desert (which was absolutely beautiful after all the rains!), then west to Bakersfield and up Highway 99. It may have been a little longer of a road trip than our previous regular route. But I have to say, Highway 99 is more interesting than I-5, and the roads through Mojave and Tehachapi are much more interesting than the I-5 Ridge Route. There's so much more to look at, and there's a lot less traffic. I think this is going to become our new regular route, for the next time we go down south.
- Speaking of which, we're hoping that's not for a good long while yet. It was certainly good to see the family, but we are exhausted. We didn't get a whole lot of rest this Christmas season. I'm even finding myself looking forward to going back to work so I can relieve some of my tension. ;-) Routine is my friend! Repeat it with me now: Routine is my friend!