Whirlwind day


Wow. Talk about a whirlwhind day. I'm quite glad I chose to take the day off from work because I'm 100% sure that I would have been completely unable to cram anything else more into my day.

Kris and I started the day off by having breakfast with Jess and Gab. The drive over was short, and we probably should have just walked over, but really, hitting the snooze button six times really was more important in our not-completely-awake state.

I thought the next part of our plan, the part starting after breakfast, involved taking Jess and Gab out for some brief shopping in downtown Los Gatos, as I watched Meter for Megan, as she managed to squeeze in a haircut.

Unfortunately, I was mistaken, as Jess had a conference call in the morning. No problem, I thought, I'll take Gab.


I let Jess know that I thought her decision to keep Gab in the room for the morning, while she has conference calls, instead of letting her run run run around with me, was a bad idea. It was ultimately her decision, however, so off Kris and I went after breakfast.

I caught up with Megan in downtown Los Gatos, where she handed me Meter and off we went. Instead of the walking tour of downtown, which is what we did last time, Meter and I walked straight through downtown and went to hangout at the small park at the opposite end of downtown.


Meter is totally starting the get the walking thing down. She walked around the park holding my hand, but not really needing to hold my hand. She used it more for a comfort than for a steadying crutch. It's been a long time since I've had so much fun just walking around in circles.


Unfortunately, as is all too typical when I'm not paying attention to the camera, I managed to use up the battery on the camera, without the benefit of my backpack with All Things Emergency™, which includes 4 spare batteries, 4 spare memory cards, 2 GUs, facial tissue, two memory cards, a memory card reader, pain reliever in 4 forms, dental floss, a tampon, two liners, 3 pens, $20, a safety pin, a Mischief button, a sewing kit, eye drops, ear plugs, hair ties, and assortment of band-aids and the last of a prescription that I should probably take out.

All of that, none of it near.

That means, of course, lunch with Megan and Mirabelle, with Meter, too, is undocumented.

The horror.

After lunch, I went back to Jessica's hotel to check in and hang out with the two of them. Apparently the morning was as horrible as I expected it to be, with Jessica relieved that hey, someone new can burn off some of this kid's energy. Please? Thanks.

Gab and I went down to the gym at the hotel and goofed off for a hwile. She had a good time on the stairstepper, while I walked on the treadmill in several directions. We played with the Swiss ball and the medicine balls (a gym hotel with medicine balls? crazy!), and the yoga mats. We would have kept playing, except that a cleaning woman came in and kept hovering over us as we played with the equipment. No fun in that.


After being chased out of the gym, we wandered back up to her room to verify that Jess wasn't done with her current phone call.


So, off we went to the nearest grocery store. We were going to try to get a Sobe tea for Jess, and maybe an Odwalla for me. On the way over, Gab had a brilliant idea.

"Let's get ice cream for my mom!"

Internally, I chuckled at the suggestion. Normally, I'd have said, "Hells yeah, let's go!" but the adult in me resisted. Ice cream? At 3 in the afternoon. It sounds like the right time to have some, but, the sugar... eh...

"Does your fridge have a freezer?"


"You sure?"



We continued to debate the issue of ice cream as we walked to the store. The store itself was maybe 80m from the front of the hotel. However, that straight shot also crossed El Camino Real and its 6 lanes of heavy traffic. We took the long way around to the stoplight.

"It'll be a surprise for her!" Gaby tried the "it's a gift! everyone loves gifts!" approach for ice cream.

"Is that a surprise she'll appreciate?"

"I don't know."

"I don't either," I answered.

"We don't need a freezer, you know."


"We'll surprise her and eat it right away!"

She kept trying, I'll give her that.

We ended up purchasing three juices, and skipping out on the ice cream. As much as I, too, would have enjoyed the ice cream, I couldn't justify buying it and setting the tone of "If Mom says no, go ask Kitt" for the trip.

The rest of the afternoon was spent on homework. I was a little frustrated by the textbook that Gab had, it neither being well written nor actually factual in some cases, but I chose to ignore that fact for the moment. I tried to remember what level I was learning at when I was in third grade, not quite remembering. Gab seemed to pick up the content quickly, the fact that it was mostly review for her lost on me until we were done.

For dinner, we went to the Cheesecake Factory in Palo Alto. I enjoy going there, and figure Jessica's visit is a good excuse to go to all the restaurants around that I like to go to.

When we were seated, after flirting with the waiter for a short while, we started flipping through the enormous menu selection. At one point, Gab pointed to an item on the menu and declared, "I want this!"

Jessica leaned over to see what she had selected.

"You're eight years old. You don't get filet mignon."

Gab was a little upset when I laughed.


Jess and Gab arrive!


Went to the airport today to pick up Jessica and Gabby, who are visiting the area (and me!) for a week. One of the serious advantages of working a telecommute job is the ability to work from anywhere, including sunny (when it is sunny, that is) California. Jess was stressed about a lot in her life right now, so I suggested a change on venue. Sometimes the change works, sometimes it doesn't. In this case, it was worth a try.

So, out came Jess and Gab, and off to the airport I went. Nothing overwhelming planned for the evening, just hotel check-in and dinner. Maybe a hug or two, too. Oh, and planning for tomorrow.


We ended up going to the hotel (all of 1.1 miles from me IF you go the long way), dropping off their luggage, and heading to P.F. Chang's for dinner. We also stopped by Target on the way home (hey, they're all close to each other), for a swimsuit for Gab, but were unable to find any (in December, imagine that), so settled for shorts and a workout shirt.

To the school!


This morning, I woke up on Jessica's couch. I had intended on falling asleep in "my" bed in the bedroom, but I'm still very much on Calfornia time, and wasn't much awake when I passed out on the couch while working last night, trying not to wake Jessica and Gabby.

The house had a warm hustle and bustle that happens on school mornings, where the kid wants to sleep as long as possible, the school bus comes at 8, and the weather outside is cold.

Jessica had a conference call very soon after Gab was to leave for school. I asked if I could drive Gab to school, then head over to the closest Starbucks, Jess could me up with me over there. I've been reading Scalzi's Old Man's War, which Mike dumped on my 12' stack of unread books, at the top no less, and I have to say that I'm glad there are at least three of these books. I very much enjoy his writing style.

Now, I'm not quite sure how it happened, whether the begging and pleading to let me drive Gab to school (that would have been me) or Gab's "accidently" missing the bus (that would have been Gab), but Jessica relented, and the two of us jumped for joy, then bundled outside with the dog close on our heals.

Sweetie in the snow

We made it to the car before I realized just how much ice was on the car. Uh... yeah, now I'm glad the car rental agency thought to include the ice screaper in the rental.


I scrapped for a while, with the car running (haven't left the car running and hopped out of a car in a LONG time), while Gab made faces at me from inside the car. She hopped into the back seat of the car, not quite being tall enough for the front seat. I'm looking forward to when she can be in the front seat, that's for sure. It's strange to have a conversation with someone in the backseat, when you're in the front.

Eventually we were off, and the drive went quickly. There was, indeed, ice on the road. I'd like to add that I pretty much found every piece of it, too, with the car, on the way from the house to the school.

dropping Gab off at school

I know that dropping kids off at school is a chore for their parents. I also think that many parents are FAR too protective of their kids, especially the ones who drive two blocks to wait 15 minutes in their SUVs to drop their kid off at the school front door, never quite realizing the amount of pollutants they're pumping into their kids' lungs with their morning ritual. I walked to school starting in kindergarden, and the distance was farther than the two blocks people drive in Sunnyvale. Sometimes I really wish those parents would be hit with a clue stick.

I'd also like to that, if you don't have to drop kids off at school every day, the times you do get to drop them off are pretty darn special.

Quick jaunt over


Instead of staying in the City today, I decided to head out to look at the house. Having not been able to visit the house in the last few weeks since the tenants l'horrible moved out, I've been worried about the condition of the house. Dad says he's been over to look at it, but he didn't do much other than verify the heat was on. I was hoping to see Dad this weekend, too, but he's out at Chris' house (which cracked me up, that we're going to completely miss each other).

I had made this decision before I had realized there was a wedding brunch this morning. I met up with Lea in the lobby, where she offered to drive us to the brunch. I declined, since I already had made arrangements with Jess to hang out with her this afternoon and evening, but took her up on her offer to take me to the train station.

See, I was carrying the base of the wedding cake: a wood disc about 24" in diameter. Outside, the weather was windy and snowing and windy and blustery and did I mention the winds? Imagine how perfectly a 24" disc of wood becomes a sail in high velocity winds, and you can see just why I preferred a car ride with Ken and Lea to becoming a kite on the way to the train station.

Somehow I made across the street from where Ken and Lea dropped me off, dropping the disc a few times and running after it as it rolled down the street. If Ken wasn't laughing hysterically at my antics, then he has no appreciation for physical comedy.

An hour and a half of trains, followed by more delay because I chose the bad car rental agency again (made better only by the fact that I knew where I was going this time), a couple hours of driving the speed limit or more slowly, through (did I mention the) bad weather, and I was finally back in familiar country.

I can't say that driving in this weather is particularly comforting to me. I know the basics of driving in bad weather and snow and ice and dark and other various hazardous driving conditions (including the safest way to drive in these conditions, which is to say, don't drive in them), but, hey, I did okay, arriving at the house, checking it out, then heading over to Jessica's to stay the night with her and Gab.

I was immediately greated in Jess' dog's neurotic style which is to run up really fast, sniff my leg, then run away just as fast, as I'm determined to be a Stranger™ and Dangerous™ Jessica laughed at the dog (her laugher is always great to hear, I don't think she laughs enough), knowing full well that I would win the dog over before I leave tomorrow.


Jessica, bless her heart, immediately suggested we head over to Panera.

I have to say, I really (as in, really really) like Panera. It seems each time I head out to Indiana, I have at least one meal at Panera every day. If the people working there stayed longer than a month (they might), and see me on my visits, I suspect they'd be weirded out by my binging behaviour.

Gabby joined us later, and the three of us went home to play a rousing game of Skipbo!

Jessica and SkipBo!

The 2 is important

Gabby let me know that I take too many pictures, so I handed her my camera for one of those elusive shots that is rarely seen on my camera.

A shot of me.

Whoa.  I picture of me!

The cheesecake was good


Fewer than twenty four hours in town means that everything is a whirlwind, including my too short visit with Jessica. She was out and about with a friend when I first texted her, yesterday, but was free after Dad and I had done our errands, arrived in down and visited the house. So, off we went.

I've been craving a Starbucks Signature hot chocolate A LOT lately, so I offered coffee or a hot chocolate and just sit and talk. Oh, yeah. Jessica stopped by to pick me up, suggested the local chocolate house where they had all sorts of chocolate this and chocolate that, including hot chocolate, and off we went.

Now, Jessica is going to be mad at me for saying this here, instead of saying it to her directly, but well, I have to say the chocolate from this chocolate house has to be the third most disgusting chocolate I've had since I ate that bag of year-old M&M's in junior high school. The chocolate is cheap, tasting of was instead of cocoa. Passing on the chocolate from this place isn't like passing on real chocolate, it's like passing on wax lips - not really hard.

However, I hadn't tried their hot chocolate, so I was still game for this place.

I ordered a hot chocolate and a slice of pumpkin cheesecake, because, really, who can resist pumpkin cheesecake (except Elina, of course)? I was unsurprised when the hot chocolate tasted like Swiss Miss hot chocolate made from water and missing the marshmellows, but happily surprised at the cheesecake. It was tast-TEE!

We chatted for a while, sitting in the front corner of the coffeehouse-like sitting area, before I realized I had been sitting in a completely defensive posture, pointing away from Jess. I knew the reason for the posture, but hadn't realized I was expressing it quite so rudely, so I dropped my arms and turned towards her, in order to engage her better. The conversation became less awkward, and flowed easier.

Right up until the dynamic completely changed with a call.

Gabby was in the area with her dad, and hey, he'd just drop her off now instead of actually dropping her off at home.

Now, I'm always happy to see Gab (well, except when she's being a butthead, but are eight year olds ever buttheads? wait, don't answer that), but our conversation was actually starting to open up when the storm of energy burst through the door, arms and legs flying in all directions. Our conversation turned stilted as Gabby's dad walked in, and that was the end of that conversation.

At one point, Jessica commented to me that, hey did you know you can't kiss your elbow? I commented back, yeah, well, you CAN lick the back of your knee.

Try it.