Friday, April 30, 2010

Goodbye to family

Last night, we had Greg & Nicole Skaug and Dick's mom, Leta, over for dinner and to say goodbye before the big trip begins. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take a picture. Tonight on our way to E Nic, we stopped in Davis to say a final farewell to Mike Skaug & Nicole Docimo.
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Goodbye, Palo Alto

Today, our housesitting came to a close. We're on our way to E Nic, tomorrow is the big packing day for the bicycle tour. These are the final pictures of Mark's tomatoes. The most vibrant plant is 30" tall.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tomato Babies

The other day, by email, Mark asked if I would please take a picture of his tomatoes and send it to him. He takes great care with his tomato-growing, and is one of the best backyard tomato growers I've known. Every year he tweaks what he did the year before.

This year the cages are 8 ft tall and there are four 10-gallon tubs with two plants per tub. (The next three pictures were taken April 11.)

Two of the tubs have silver blanket over the soil.

There is a reservoir at the bottom of the tub, water is filled through PVC pipe and wicks upward to water the plant. Tiny holes about 6" from the bottom tell when to stop filling the tub.

April 22:

This little flower says, "Hi, Daddy. I'll be the first tomato you pick."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pizza Night in Dixon

L-R: Julie, Clara, Kevin, Dick, and Tom Skaug
Kevin showed us the rapier he uses when he fences. Clara, who will be going to UCSanta Cruz next year, took the time to write a one-page 12-point list of detailed instructions for her brother titled "How to Take a Shower." Kevin was not impressed. Delicious strawberry shortcake, Julie!

Monday, April 19, 2010

About Palo Alto

Wikipedia taught me a lot about Palo Alto that I didn't know before. Here are some highlights that caught my eye:

Palo is the 5th most expensive city to live in in the USA. Median home price for a home in 2007 was $1.3 million, the average was more than $1.6 million. Median income for a family was $153,197 in 2007. The city has many older homes. North of the Oregon Expressway, there are more Craftsman style, south more Eichler homes. We're housesitting in an Eichler home.

The city is 52% Democrat, 25% Republican:

My own unscientific observation: the preferred car in Palo Alto is

Sunday, April 18, 2010


When Stanford University was established in 1891, young professors were hired and moved to Palo Alto with their families. They settled near the university in an area now called Professorville. The Wikipedia article was interesting and gave specific addresses and related information. So I decided to take notes and take Dick on a bicycling tour. He was thrilled - actually he rolled his eyes and humored me. Our first address to see a well-preserved example of a residence didn't exist. The second stop was somewhat obscured by a tall hedge.

The third stop was under construction and being remodeled, no longer a "well-preserved" historical example.
In this house long ago, Richard Varian developed the Klystron tube. Dick still thinks this has something to do with Superman, although it has more to do with radar systems.

The most well-known stop is the Hewlett-Packard garage with a plaque in front with some great information

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Training in the Los Altos Hills

We've been riding our bikes everyday but mostly on the flats. We knew we had to start some hill work which soon proved just how out of shape we are. Oh my, climbing Altamont Road in the Los Altos Hills was so hard. I had to stop frequently to catch my breath on the 5-6% grades. There is only one point on the road where you get a good view. Hard to see but the Dumbarton Bridge is out there, it crosses South San Francisco Bay.

In the distance is Moffett Field:

Here's the challenging part: we only climbed 800 feet and I'm struggling. I still need to add 50 pounds of gear to the bike and be able to get to 5477 feet at Washington Pass just 150 miles east of our starting point, Anacortes WA.

Friday, April 16, 2010

How to train your mother-in-law, and . . .

how she got me back.

April 2: I called Leta in the morning to check on her. She said she was feeling dizzy, I offered to take her to the doctor. She declined, but said what she really needed was for me to take her dog, Perky, for a walk. I told her I'd be there in an hour, but then I started thinking about what "walking the dog" might actually mean and I began to worry and delayed my departure. At the end of the hour, she called to see why I wasn't there yet. I had to ask, "Leta, will I have to pick up dog poop?" She brightly answered, "Oh yes." I told her I just couldn't do that. She answered, "That's OK, dear, I'm not dizzy anymore, I can take Perky out." And she hasn't asked me to walk her dog again - hurray!

April 10: On the way to Josette's baby shower, I asked Leta where Perky was staying while she was gone. Perky was with a neighbor who also had a little dog. Then she said, "I did think about bringing a blanket and Perky with us. Perky could stay in the car while we were at the shower." My response, "No, Leta, that would not have worked. Perky can't be in this car."

April 15: Dick took his mom to lunch, while I stayed home. Guess who came along for the trip? Yup, Perky, he stayed in the car while they were in the restaurant. Grrr!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The next adventure

We've decided to ride the Northern Tier Route this summer, leaving in a very short two weeks. Step one: check tires and inflate.
Step two: buy a helmet for Dick.

Step 3: start riding EVERY possible day. Today, it's the area known as the Baylands. A huge network of trails, all flat and bordering south San Francisco Bay.

Between Baylands and nearby US101, you'll find a golf course, airport and the Shoreline Amphitheater.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Meanwhile, somewhere between Guaymas . . .

and San Jose, Dick is on a bus coming to the Bay Area. Hurray! Soon, we'll be together again, this time house-sitting in Palo Alto until our next adventure begins.

Goodbye, Conrad

On Monday, 12 April, Lenin's father, Conrad Del Castillo passed away. The funeral was today. The family did a great job planning a funeral and reception in just two days. This is Conrad with his wife, Rita, and youngest daughter, Holly. I'm not sure which grandchild Conrad is holding.

Funerals are also a time to visit with long-time friends. Here are friends of Thais and Lenin from their high school days. L-R: Will, Kenji, Sheri, Kristen, and Danielle.

And Sophia showed me how she can walk by herself.

My job: pick up all the Chinese food and get it to the reception hall on time. There were 14 large containers which made my car most aromatic for the rest of the day - yum!

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Time for catching up. It's been more than a couple of years since we've gotten together. Me, Val Sills, and Maria Fahey:

I first met Val in 1958. My best friend in 5th or 6th grade was Vickie, Val's cousin. We went to play one summer day at Val's house in Riego.

Maria and I met over our adjoining backyard fence in 1975. We were both pregnant and even had the same due date. Maria's daughter, Leslie, was born one week early. I was 4 weeks late with Justin.

They've been best friends since birth. Leslie and Justin.

Total fun!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bricks by the Bay

This weekend there was a Lego-builders convention at the Fremont Marriot Silicon Valley in Fremont CA, just 20 miles from Palo Alto. Today, from 10-4, the public was invited to see the created structures.

I bought Doug (child #3) countless Lego kits as he was growing up. I always worked with (as in "forced") him to build the structure as pictured on the box before free play with the Legos could begin. We built castles, islands, space ships, etc, but when left to play on his own, Doug chose the people and accessories - all the little stuff. Doug, at 25, still likes Legos and looks forward to buying them when his two boys get older. I had to go see what today's adult Lego enthusiasts had built and I had to take lots of pictures.

I arrived at 11 am and walked in the front door of the hotel. I saw the exhibit hall and began following the line of people to find the end. Through the lobby, down one hall, turn right, down another hall, left turn, down another hall,

out a door where it was cold and rainy, around a corner,

into the parking garage, up the ramp,

up the ramp to level 2. At last I was in line. 220 yards and a minimum 2-hour wait to get into the exhibit hall. I really didn't want to wait that long. I can't imagine how the upteen families with little children could wait this long. Meeting this man was the closest I got. He was very friendly, a member of the Bay Area Lego Users Group, and chatted with many people in line. Very cool nametag, also.

On the way back to my car, there were many families who'd also given up and were headed out. One grandfather told me that he'd told his grandson that if they didn't spend the $5/person entrance fee, then they could go to the toy store and BUY Legos instead. It worked, the grandson was happy. Others families weren't so lucky.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Baby Shower for Josette

Josette will have a daughter in mid-May. The shower was held at the home grandparents, Lydia and Dan Belarmino of San Jose.

Lydia has quite the 2-acre backyard. She sprouts seeds in the greenhouse.

She took a group of us on an tour.

When this tree died, Lydia painted it blue.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Parking Guidelines

I love it when I get clear written guidelines when I'm housesitting. Since I'm going to park on the street, Carolyn want me to know that the rule is "to keep your wheels a foot away from the rounded curb, so that moms with strollers can pass through." This is my car and I'm not quite in compliance, but as I looked up and down the block on this particular day,
I think I may have been the closest to being compliant.