Los Altos, California

Some of the people, places, and things from our recent California trip:

• The Petersons—Mark, Christine, and Jared—came over for a BBQ at the Lillys. I drove around the block in their new Subaru Outback Turbo, a car that nicely combines good storage and hauling capacity with a rocket of a motor. Pretty plush, too, given that they opted for the all-leather interior and virtually every available option. (Mine own car-buying philosophy here is the same: If you’re gonna drop big bucks, you might as well get everything you want.)

Jonah and Jared had a good time playing together both inside and outside. Jared’s in first grade now.

• We met with Jennie and Jon for brunch at their place in Mountain View. I peppered Jon with all kinds of Apple-related questions while trying to help Jonah be a little less of a two year old. Mixed success with that latter bit, as he got fairly squirmy toward the end of our visit. Still, we enjoyed a great meal, and Jonah had a really good time coloring and stamping some paper than Jennie provided. And of course Elisha was loved by all, which thus far seems to be her lot in life.

We napped away most of the afternoon—both Erin and I trying to steal back sleep whenever we can—before meeting again with the Petersons this evening at the Lillys.

• The Lillys invited all manner of family and friends to a meet and greet get-together at their place. Jonah busied himself climbing the Jungle Gym and playing with other kids while Elisha continued her person-to-person love-in.

• We dined with our friends Brian, Debbie, and Erin. Great to see them, super to catch-up on everything. Impossible to fathom that little Erin is already in fifth grade.

• We visited Shan, Heather, and Marcus and were joined by Jennie and Jon for a dinner and walk to the park. It’d been early January since we’d seen Marcus, and my how he’s changed. He’s a big, blond boy now, not the little baby of my memories. I’m sure that other have (or have had) similar reactions to Jonah. The kids enjoyed the park, though Elisha had some “feed-me-now” issues on the way back. Let me tell you, if you don’t get that girl the food in time she’s nearly inconsolable. Fortunately, usually we can get her taken care of in a timely fashion.

• We met Joe and Helen in San Francisco for dinner at The Stinking Rose. The sparkling conversation far exceeded the food in my estimation. Talking with Joe and Helen was great; eating at the garlic-laden Stinking Rose less so. Went to an Italian-themed ice cream parlor after for dessert. Tried durian-flavored ice cream and nearly died. Supposedly an Asian delicacy, Joe hit the nail on the head when he described it as tasting like “burnt rubber.” (The Wikipedia entry on durian says, “Westerners have described the experience of eating the durian as ‘like eating custard in a public lavatory.'”) Joe’s working at PhotoTLC and Helen at a construction company in addition to running her own dance troop (though they’re off for the summer).

• We brunched with Debi and Maurice at the Cheese Cake Factory in San Jose. Jonah was squirmy since it was past his naptime, but Maurice proved a trooper in keeping him entertained. Both Maurice and Debi have been doing a lot of belly-dancing with impressive results.

• The extended Lilly clan gathered for a day at Bonfante Gardens, a family theme park that I would describe as perfect for young kids and their parents. Jonah had a fantastic time, as I dare say did the rest of the kids. Highly recommended.

• Finally, our thanks and gratitude to Bernard and Liz for their hospitality as well as our continuing thanks to everyone who allowed us to intrude upon their lives during our time in California. We treasure you all.