Friday, February 12, 2016


As you probably know, I am not a football fan. Last Sunday when I woke up, all I knew about the upcoming Super Bowl was that a team from North Carolina was competing for the first time: my parents live in North Carolina, and they had mentioned the fact. I figured that, for purposes of conversing intelligently with people I might encounter, I ought to at least ask Google the names of both teams, and which one won.

When we got home from church, it was easy to tell who one of the teams was. Every Sunday afternoon for the past several weeks, there have been roars of ecstasy intermittently erupting from the house across the street. A truck flying a “Broncos” flag has been parked in front of our house for ages, accumulating increasing amounts of bird dirt due to its positioning directly under the lamppost, but I had not realized it belonged to the across-the-street neighbors until I saw their d├ęcor. If the multiple Broncos flags flying from their dwelling, and the larger flag with which the truck’s original flag had been replaced, hadn’t tipped me off, I might have guessed they were Broncos fans by the football shirts every member of the family was wearing, or the Broncos chairs they were sitting in while they watched the large TV screen set up under their carport. Then again, the sign stating “Parking for Broncos Fans Only” might have served as a clue. I mused on what a study in contrast the two sides of the street provided: we do not even own a television, and my feelings toward ardent football fans range from amusement to bemusement.

We decided to spend Sunday afternoon investigating a portion of the windward side of the island. Shortly before we set off on our adventure, several men ran into the street shouting, and jumped up repeatedly to bump chests against each other. I was able to inform my mom, when I called her on the way to our destination, that the Broncos had scored at least one touchdown. She shares my passionate fascination with many non-football-related subjects: “Oh, dear – if they win, my colleagues will be depressed tomorrow morning.” Ari and I speculated on how our neighbors would respond when faced with either a win or a loss for their team. Ari figured beer would be involved along with either outcome, but fireworks would be included if the team won. I thought no more about it, because the afternoon provided plenty of interest. We started by exploring a coastline overgrown with mangroves, and moved on to a beach quite near to a smaller island to which Ari, P11, and E9 attempted to swim. For one of the first times since moving here, I wished I had brought a sweater to put over my swimsuit. We arrived home to the delicious odor of the dinner I’d placed in the crock pot before I left, and I started to wonder whether I ought to Google the result of the day’s sporting event. As I sat down at the computer and opened my web browser, I saw bright colors and heard and felt an explosion. Google was unnecessary: clearly, the Broncos had won!

I’ve heard complaints from other neighbors about the fireworks (they’ve been going off intermittently since Thanksgiving, to the consternation of the local dogs). And I’ve been irritated a few times at the neighbors in the cul-de-sac whose Friday night parties haven’t quieted down by 4am Saturday (though apparently the police came and chatted with them before Ari and I got around to figuring out how to build a sonic focuser to blast them with the Ride of the Valkyries if they kept making a habit of it). But I have to say, it’s really relaxing to live in a neighborhood where so many other people make occasional loud noises. I enjoy the freedom I have to allow my boys to be noisy, and the knowledge that, however weird we may be, we aren’t bothering the people around us any more than the average family in the neighborhood. We’re unusual in many ways, but I feel like we really fit in here in ways we didn’t anywhere we’ve lived since E9 was a toddler.

What sorts of interactions do you have with your neighbors? Do you feel that the personality of your neighborhood fits you?

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Robot cake (H is 4)

As promised, I'm posting pictures of H4's robot cake. It was meant to be a pink robot cake, but I was using the all-natural food color I had bought at the health food store and the red color turned the icing brown. Not even reddish brown, mind you. It was supposed to be from beet juice, so I wonder if the package was just really old - it seems like fresh beet juice can't fail to redden whatever it touches. Next time, I'm buying the bad stuff, or using a beetroot. Fortunately, H4 was right there, and I immediately suggested adding cocoa powder to the icing to make it more brown. He likes chocolate (discerning lad), so the disappointment turned to joy fairly quickly. Apart from the failure to achieve the desired color, I'm pleased with the result.

So was he, which is always the goal. (But, as I said to a friend, if it looks like you tried and it contains sugar, it rarely disappoints).

Ari had been away from home since Tuesday morning - he had to observe remotely on Tuesday night and then travel to Mauna Loa to work on another telescope - but he got back around 6pm on H4's birthday. So he was able to be around while H4 opened presents, which means we have a few nice pictures of the festivities.

Ari's parents gave H4 a "crocodile dentist" game - you press down the croc's teeth until the mouth snaps shut on your fingers after a random number of teeth has been pressed.

Given B6's Lego obsession, it's not surprising H4 was pleased to be able to join the ranks of those able to play with "big kid Legos".

We gave him a flashlight which not only shines out the front, but can light up along the length of its body with a blue glow. He was thrilled. I'll have to haul out our "shine-a-light" book sometime...