Thursday, September 22, 2011

California Quotidian

So it's after the autumnal equinox, and here we are in Middle California, on 8th Avenue, in Menlo Park, a bit east of Middlefield Road. We're eight blocks from Rebecca and Jeremy, and Penelope, now approaching five months old, whom we care for on Rebecca's work days. Menlo Park is on the peninsula, some miles south of San Francisco, Redwood City just north, Palo Alto just south, and Mountain View a bit beyond that. Of course it's all continuous development along 101 and El Camino Real anyway. The weather has been remarkably consistent for the month or more we have been here: lows in the high 50s, highs in the 80s. Clear, mostly, except at night when the clouds roll in from the Pacific. Generally they are gone early in the morning.

Our neighborhood is mostly working class: people mostly appear to go to work every day and come home at night. The homes are all in the $600,000 to $2 million range. Bay area...but astronomical to us. You'd think working stiffs would be house-poor in such a market, but I've counted five 9lls, a Lotus, and numerous Mercedes and BMWs within three blocks. Maybe they're not all working stiffs.

The neighborhood is of that vintage where many of the homes have been subdivided or added-on to. In our case we are in a small attached cottage, 500-600 feet, one bedroom. It's actually larger, seemingly, than the two-bedroom apartment we rented our last year in dear Missoula. There is a great room, sort of, which is our combination office/living room/dining room; a large completely updated (granite, etc.) kitchen; a laundry/storage room with washer and dryer; the aforementioned bedroom; and a walk-though closet, with built-ins; leading to a tiny but updated bath. It's quiet and seemingly secure. The kitchen alone is much larger than our RV! The cottage lacks curb appeal, however, adjoining the right-of-way for the (underground) Hetch Hetchy reservoir pipeline that feeds the peninsula. The pipeline has been rebuilt and enlarged in recent months, but the right-of-way, a 60 ft or so wide swath, remains fenced-in and un-landscaped. The fencing will come down sometime this winter and the swath will be restored to its previous status as parts of peoples' yards.

Furnishing and decorating the cottage has been interesting. Rebecca and Jeremy had some unwanted pieces of furniture (hide-a-bed, easy chair, table and chairs, etc.) which are now here. Other pieces include furniture we had given Rebecca years ago when she moved to California, now also unwanted (bookcases, dresser, library card catalog, etc.). I am sitting at the white desk, bought in Bexley, Ohio, she and Rachel both used as children. The rest has come through the little bit of stuff we brought back from Europe, the very little bit we brought back from Missoula, and then the kindness of strangers, Craigslist, garage and yard sales, and a few perfectly good things people inexplicably leave on the side of the road near the cottage. (Recycling?). Anyhow, the 500 square feet are now fully functional and crammed nearly full, particularly considering the four major items of baby furniture—swing, crib, high chair, Jumparoo—we are also using. The strategy in all this has been to be functional and comfortable for our few months here, but to do so with items that are almost entirely loaned or expendable. We'll be holding a yard sale of our own in the foreseeable future.

As I said, the kitchen is ample, and a variety of things—the availability of all kinds of interesting foods here, our experiences in Europe, Vicki's watching the Food Channel--have led us to more culinary explorations. As a moving-in gift, Rebecca gave me a Groupon for a nearby nursery which I used to establish a container herb garden, which is, at least at the moment, thriving. Basil really is the tomato's best friend.

Our work-day routine starts with Penelope's arrival, always the best part of the day. She is adorable, fun to play with, very easy to care for. We do Bumbo time, tummy time, singing time, book time, Jumparoo time, music time, feeding time, changing time, and, when she begins to fade, walking time around the neighborhood with the stroller. She rarely makes it more than a block or two before succumbing to nap time. Every now and then she goes with us shopping or visiting the library or park or doctor. Her favorite store is the Redwood City Costco #1042 (the largest I have seen), although the REI in Mountain View and any Trader Joe's are also fascinating to her (and me). Two Buck Chuck is alive and well, 8 years on now, probably the nation's greatest loss-leader apart from the rotisserie chicken at Costco. Penelope is a long way from poulet roti and vin rouge, but she enjoys watching.

Our first few weekends have been spent in shopping and setting up the cottage, learning the lay of the land, and also in helping Rebecca and Jeremy clean out their garage to get more storage space. Vicki spent the last five days visiting Marie and Norm in St. Cloud, with a family side-trip to Miami, and a “last” visit to DisneyWorld. (Marie and Norm are moving to Knoxville). I'll be going to San Fran with Rebecca and Jeremy for a symphony concert this weekend, and the next weekend Vicki and I will go camping in Yosemite. And then the next weekend I'll be in dear Missoula for the Humanities Montana Festival of the Book XII.

So that's the quotidian. My next posts will feature “pix not blogged” from China and Nepal.
Top of every day: Penelope arrives

Grandma loves dressing her in some of the
same outfits worn by Stacey, Rebecca, and

"Our" REI, Mountain View

"Our" Google, Googleopolis

GoogleEarth view