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April 13, 2007

This morning when I was out getting coffee, I saw a beautiful Austin Healey. Seeing it took me back to the good times we had in my Dad's Healey; a slightly different model with a similar body style, but bright red with chrome spoke wheels. I'll never forget the fun of him driving me top-down to Montessori school, or the Sunday morning blasts up the curvy part of Morello, before they put in all the stop signs. The car had a lot of torque, and a nice (naturally) loud exhaust, and Dad loved goosing the engine and watching Jene and me howl with joy as the car lunged forward with a mean and powerful snarl. Those memories inspired my love for driving, and that car was part of the reason I got an S2000; there's just something magic about a convertible sports car.

Thanks to the owner for prompting such pleasant memories! (And for doing such a nice job of keeping a classic in such fine condition!)

Austin Healy

July 05, 2006

Exactly one year ago today, (almost to the hour, as I'm writing this) we got the news that our offer was accepted on what's now our home.  It's shocking how fast the year went by!  Ania and I can still vividly remember being excited, tense, worried, and distracted on the 4th last year (we made our offer on the 3rd), not really paying attention to the fireworks or much else, just biting our nails, wondering if we'd get the house.

As soon as we walked in for the first time, we both had the immediate, distinct feeling that this place  felt like home; not a home, but home.  A year later, it's truly become just that.  We're slowly but surely making progress updating it (and enjoying the process much more than I expected!), but it was in good condition -- if not our style -- when we bought it.

Picture: Skyview House

We couldn't be happier with our decision!  The house is great, the yard is very pleasant, we have friendly neighbors, we're close to my parents, close to the places we like to hang out, and we're a comfortable distance from work.  We were looking for a place where we could really settle down, and not have to worry about room for growth, or wish we were somewhere else.  In Skyview, we've found that place, and we look forward to enjoying it for many more years to come.

October 23, 2005

Today, we went to the pumpkin patch at Mangini's, a fruit & vegetable stand situated at the front of its own  fields, that's been a part of Pleasant Hill for as long as I can remember.   Mangini's has never been a large operation, but it's got a long-standing and loyal customer base because it's produce is excellent.  I grew up eating Mangini's corn, and going there to get pumpkins & Christmas trees.

Pumpkins at Manginis

The afternoon exemplified Fall; long shadows, crisp, cool air, and golden sunlight.  A bunch of kids waited with their parents for a ride on the tractor, others buzzed around with excitement at being on a "real" farm, and going to get a pumpkin for Halloween.  Their infectious energy got us in the spirit too; we darted from place to place with silly grins, calling "look at this one!" and "wow!", ooohing and aaahing at the pumpkins.  Sure, you can get them at a grocery store, but there's nothing that takes me back to being a kid quite like being out in a field among rows of tilled earth, sunflowers, and dried stalks of corn rustling in the breeze.

As we were looking through the gourds and decorative corn inside the stand, I was surprised to hear a woman ask, "Are you Mr. Mangini?" to a friendly looking older man, who looked like a farmer.  I waited until they were done chatting, and introduced myself and Ania.  I told him how I'd grown up going to Mangini's, which is just around the corner from my parents' house, and how happy I am to be able to do so again, now that we've bought a house in my home town.  I also thanked him, not just for putting on this event, which everyone so clearly enjoyed, but for keeping Mangini's going though the years.  This small, family-owned produce stand is a part of what makes Pleasant Hill special.  For us, it certainly makes going to get a pumpkin a fun and memorable event!

Happy Halloween!

October 16, 2005

Ania and I have been  having a great time and doing a lot lately, but we haven't had much time just to truly relax nor to enjoy our new home.  This morning, we had nothing on the agenda.  We got up, made coffee, and went for a little stroll on the walking path behind our house.  There's something indescribable about the golden glow cast by the Autumn sunlight, and that's part of what makes the season my favorite...

We got back and enjoyed a nice breakfast of cinnamon toast, raspberries, and fontina cheese on our patio.  I called and chatted with Jene (my sister) while Ania started work on her Autumn wreath, a project she was happy to finally have time for (it turned out great!).

Wild Animal Photo Shoot

At one point, Ania spotted a squirrel in our apple tree  and went to take some pictures and investigate.  The squirrel seemed to have "bitten off more than she could chew", trying to figure out what to do with an apple whose mass was pretty close to her own.  She sat very still pondering the problem.  This frustrated Ania, who moved closer and closer, determined to get a picture of the squirrel in a different pose.

Squirrel throwing apple

With no warning, the squirrel threw the apple at Ania and shot out of sight!  Okay, it's more likely she released the apple and the way it fell through the branches caused it to roll toward Ania, but we have it on video (that's a  screen capture above) and I have to say, it sure did look like she threw the apple!


We exuded happiness as we indulged in the lovely Fall morning amongst the chirping birds and the drone of the occasional propeller plane (a favorite sound that takes me back to sitting on the front lawn with my dad after early-morning yardwork).   "You should blog this," she said, reading my mind.

Skyview House

Perhaps it's that we're finally getting a chance to settle in a little, but I think maybe it's that memory of the propeller planes -- more than two decades ago, but not three miles away -- that helps me truly realize how good it is to be back home, in Pleasant Hill.

May 29, 2005

"Pick a number."

I wasn't even facing Ania, but I reacted immediately; "46".

"Show respect for military personnel", she read.
- Instruction #46 from Life's Little Instruction Book

We've had the book for a long time, but I hadn't looked at it for several years.  Ania had been flipping through its pages while I was doing something else.
Memorial Day Unknown Soldier
It just happens to be Memorial Day tomorrow.   Whatever your politics, that's a tough job our military does, and I think they do deserve our respect.  Thank you, men and women of the United States military -- past and present -- for doing your job!

April 08, 2005

My wife Ania's mother saw the Pope 5 times during his life, and went to see him while he lay in state in Rome.  One day, perhaps she will tell our (future) children about the journey.
Pope John Paul II
Whatever your position on religion in general, or his views in particular, the Pope made a significant impact on human events, and the celebration of his passing reflects that.  Watching his funeral tonight, I was stunned at the several moments when absolute silence covered the square; this was the world paying respect.

I am not a Catholic, but my wife is, so I have a direct sense of the impact the Pope had on many people.  The memory I will carry with me is of what he gave us through his passing; a reminder that we can in fact, all come together and get along, even if it's just for the space of a few brief moments of silence during a funeral.