Salutations, family and friends!
I must unconsciously want to see the new “Charlotte’s Web” movie but haven’t as yet. Anyway, here’s hoping all of you are doing well and 2006 has been good to everyone!
It’s been a quiet year for all of us, which isn’t a bad thing—just different. Rory and I are starting to get the feel for what being an ‘empty nester’ will be like. We have to admit that we rather enjoy the quiet house and dinners although those few times all four of us eat together are certainly special too. It even seems special for Rory, Cody and I to get dinner together these days with Rory traveling so extensively and Cody frequently hanging out with his friends.
After so much traveling and home improvements last year, this one has been relatively quiet for both activities. Rory, on the other hand, has been traveling extensively for work. This fall he’s been all over the state of California and back east numerous times (meeting Diane Feinstein at one point). He has been trying to finish up some home projects but has had so little time at home that several of them will have to wait until next year for completion, if then. A few projects he did finish were a bamboo water fountain in our front yard, which conveniently also scares away the neighborhood cats. It is actually designed to scare away deer or other intruding animals—its Japanese name is Shishi odoshi (ししおどし, 鹿威し), which literally means “deer scarer.” We liked having a water feature in the front yard so much, he then put a barrel fountain on the back patio—complete with various water plants in it that he experimented with. After finishing that, he redid a small planter in the back that had never been used much and turned it into a very special water pond with various water plants, lights and pumps! It looks great and has been a great way for him to relax and get away from the stress of work. I’ve enjoyed the benefits of his relaxation too!
We were able to get away for a short vacation to a dude ranch (Coffee Creek Ranch) this summer. It is located in the Trinity Alps, northwest of Redding, California. It’s a beautiful area—right in gold rush country, and in fact, the ranch was started as a hotel during the Gold Rush. Our family picture card was taken at the creek across from the main house of the dude ranch. There were lots of activities there, especially horseback riding. I chose this particular dude ranch (~3-hour drive from Davis) so that Jill could come up and join us for some of it. I also hoped that with other families there, Cody might find some other teens his age to hang with. Jill took a summer school class in Berkeley and had her final exam the week after our week at the ranch so she had to return early to finish her class. Cody, Rory, and I spent the full week there. We mostly did a lot of nothing—which was very nice. Rory and I did, however, take a very nice early morning horse ride down into a beautiful meadow where we had a wonderful breakfast. It was chilly but overall a great time, despite the soreness afterwards!
Jill has been enjoying her junior year at UCSB. She had a difficult decision to make when she found out that she was admitted as a transfer student to UC Berkeley last spring, but decided to go ahead and finish her last two years at UCSB. She has so many good friends at UCSB and felt like it would be difficult to start from scratch transferring to another school. She enjoyed summer school at Berkeley though and was happy to see what that campus was like.
Cody has become a very social guy—hanging out with his friends a lot this year. He just went to his junior prom and rather enjoyed it. He transferred to Leonardo da Vinci High—which is still on the Davis High campus. It’s a special ‘tech’ school, I suppose you could say, that was started by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It utilizes group-centered learning methods and the kids all have their own laptops. Cody has done much better this year but is still considering transferring back to Davis High next year! I think he’s glad that he was able to try out da Vinci, if only for one year, just to see what it’s like there. I offered to sign him up for driving lessons but haven’t heard much interest from him so will be happy to wait… Thankfully, Davis is a very bike-friendly community and most of his friends still bike wherever they choose to go!
Speaking of which, I did get a new car this year—one reason I’m not in a rush for Cody to drive! It’s a new 2007 Civic Hybrid. My ‘old’ car (a 2003 Civic Hybrid) is now Jill’s—which she loves. Our very old van that she has been driving finally died. Selling her my car was the best for all of us. She lives off campus in Goleta (a suburb of Santa Barbara) and really needs a car for school and work plus going back and forth from school and home in Northern California.
I also had the recent opportunity to see Michael Pollan speak at the Mondavi Center on campus here at UC Davis. Several women in my book group also went. He wrote a couple of the books that we’ve read in both of my book clubs. His most recent book “ The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals ” was the topic the other night. I recommend it as well as his previous book on my book list. Happy reading!
Well, here’s wishing all of you a wonderful holiday and healthy, happy 2007!
Love, Beth, Rory, Jill and Cody