Previous Newsletter | Next Newsletter | Complete Archives

Greetings from America, #4

December 24th, 2004


In this Issue:


Greetings from America (Emerald Hills)
Part the Fourth: Schedule? What Schedule?

I love deadlines—I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.
Douglas Adams


Which pretty much sums up how we've felt about the newsletter for the last two weeks. As we keep doing things and not writing about them, we've fallen further and further behind. So this is our attempt to catch up. However, with Christmas just around the corner, and New Year's Day just down the block, we're going to accept the fact that we'll be off the weekly schedule until after the holidays. So, newsletter #5 will come out some time around Epiphany, and we hope to be back to a weekly schedule again after that. By then, we should have another batch of Karin's observations (in German), as well as Christmas pictures.

In the meantime, we would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. And in German:

Tobias, Karin und Paul wünschen allen:
Ein frohes und besinnliches Weihnachtsfest und einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!

Happy Birthdays to Nicole Roberts, Kim Whittlesey, and Linda Fullerton. And also congratulation to Nicole on her engagement.

Dim-sum and a Free Parade
So to elaborate on the last newsletter: We'd gone to Oakland to have dim-sum with Jade & Syd (who came to Vienna for the wedding) and Judith and her son Kyle. Little did we know that we'd pick the same day and very nearly the same time as the 5th annual Oakland Tribune Holiday Parade. As our restaurant was on the parade route, we decided to check out the parade after a very nice dim-sum lunch. The parade participants were the usual mix found in American parades: high school bands and drill teams, giant balloon figures, floats, vintage cars, clowns, beauty contest winners, old men in fezzes driving miniature cars, horses, people in Star Wars costumes, and the local Harley-Davidson owners' club.

For Karin, the most memorable band was this one:
which played a song that mixed "Jingle Bells" and the "Eine Kleine Nacht Musik".

For me, the most memorable part of the parade is a tie between the Star Wars people and the radio DJ co-hosting the parade who was unable to correctly pronounce "fife" and "Potomac". She pronounced them as "Fee-fee" (like the typical French maid's name, spelled "Fifi") and "POT-o-mac".[1usa]

And for those of you keeping track, this was Tobias' second parade. His first was the military parade in Wiener Neustadt, which was featured in issue #39.

Dune Beach
We've had another chance to go the beach in the past weeks. This time, we got out to Dune Beach in Half Moon Bay, which is down the Pacific coast from San Francisco, and almost directly East of the house in Emerald Hills. This time, we got better pictures of the beach:
and of Karin and Tobias at the beach:

We also got pictures of the local flora:
and fauna:

Perhaps we can make trips to the beach a regular Newsletter feature. Stay tuned to find out.

Playing Tourist
We had another chance to play tourist, this time with actual natives as our guides. Richard and Amanda Payatt were both born and raised in the SF Bay Area, and they were up from Santa Barbara last weekend to celebrate an early Christmas with Amanda's parents. The highlight of this particular tour was a stop at Eagle Point, a spot east of the Golden Gate Bridge. From there, we were able to get this panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay just outside of the Bridge:
a much better view of the Bridge itself:
and the more typical shot of us with the Bridge as backdrop:

We continued along the coast and almost made it to the world famous Pier 39. Alas, we will have to save that as well as boat rides on the Bay and trips to Alcatraz for future visits. We did get a chance to wander around the area east of Pier 39 on foot, snacked on the seafood and sourdough bread for which San Francisco is famous, and Karin got a chance to pick up postcards and souvenirs. Next time, we promise more pictures from this part of San Francisco.

Victorian and More Victorian
This past weekend, we attended the "Great Dickens Christmas Fair": a Victorian themed attraction that tries to bring a bit of Charles Dickens' London to Northern California. For four weekends, a 49,000 square foot exhibition hall (about 4552 square meters) is converted into a series of stages, shops, bars, tea rooms, dance halls, and clubs, populated by actors portraying both Dickens' fictional characters (especially those from "A Christmas Carol") as well as real figures of the mid- to late Victorian era, including Mr. Dickens himself, whom you can see in this picture, posing with a grand lady at the "Adventurers' Club":

We actually went on both Saturday and Sunday, with me being in costume on Sunday. As a ex-performer at Dickens Fair, I was invited to come by the Adventurers' Club and help with one of the regular performances. In this case, it was a discussion of what to do about Khartoum, which had just been captured by Al-Mahdi (January, 1885):
IMG_5751_adventurers_club IMG_5752_adventurers_club

And while I was doing my bit of acting, Karin got to see more of the Fair and got more picture, including some of the game booths:
IMG_5738_boot_the_cat_booth IMG_5737_footlight_fiasco_booth
a chocolate bar (a bar serving chocolate, not of chocolate):
as well as a corset maker with an interesting assortment of window decorations:
IMG_5741_bobbie_corset IMG_5742_lady_corset
IMG_5722_poker_corset IMG_5724_chimney_sweep_corset IMG_5727_chimney_sweep_corset

We managed to get a little dancing in over at "Fezziwig's Warehouse", but we spent most of our time either just wandering around and taking in the Fair, or pausing somewhere to feed Tobias. To make up for the lack of dancing, we attended a bimonthly Victorian Ball in Oakland on Saturday night, at which we saw many of the people who were at the Fair during the day. And because we just weren't doing enough this past weekend, we finished with a Christmas party with a group of dance friends.

Various Tobias Updates
Tobias is making a funny noise. It sounds like a long and drawn out "eh", but as if he was a chain-smoking[2eng] fifty-year-old, or a cat with hair balls (or Marge Simpson, at least in her English voice). It is rather disconcerting, to say the least, when this very un-babylike sound comes out of our child. We will try and tape him doing this sound and put it into a future newsletter. He is also starting to occasionally sleep through the night, though this often accompanies a late bedtime, when he keeps waking up after what we thought was the final feeding of then night. But it's a start, and we eagerly await the time when both his and our schedules can settle down more.

What Is This
To start off the Tobias photo gallery for this newsletter, we offer this:
Tobias on his play mat. Now, Karin and I have completely different ideas of what the hanging toy above Tobias might represent, so we're looking for your opinions. I say that it's a handicapped octopus; Karin says that it's a five-legged strawberry with eyes. What do you think? Mollusk? Fruit? Something else? Or are Karin & I still showing signs of jet-lag? Let us know.

Open Mouth, Insert [Fill in the Blank]
Tobias has started to hold objects on his own. Of course, anything that's in his hand is candidate for insertion into his mouth. So we get pictures like these:
IMG_5652_tobiasXSL_rattle IMG_5794_cinB_tobiasXSL_spoon

And as he has not yet started to eat his own feet, these new shoes will remain safe from gnawing for awhile:
IMG_5783_karinLN_tobiasXSL_banana_slug_shoes IMG_5693_karinLN_tobiasXSL_shoes

Bath Time with Dad
I'm a shower person. When I take a bath, it is usually to relieve muscle aches. Because of this, most of Tobias' baths have been with Karin (as last seen in newsletter #44). So this is a rare picture of me bathing Tobias:

To continue the "Pictures with Dad" theme, here is one of Tobias playing the piano, with a little help from me:

Tobias and the Women
And finally, more pictures of Tobias being held by our friends (in order: Jennie, Angela, and Mara):
IMG_5645_tobiasXSL_jennieR IMG_5805_tobiasXSL_maraF IMG_5797_tobiasXSL_angelaE_daveH

As usual, you can see lots more Tobias pictures (from the last two weeks) at:


Time to do some last minute, pre-Christmas errands. The next newsletter will be in two weeks, after the new year. So until then, -Tobias (talking to Mom), Karin (talking to her mother), Paul (madly finishing the newsletter)



[1] "Fife & Potomac": The fife (rhymes with "wife") is an emblematic instrument (along with the drum) of the American Revolutionary War, and the Potomac (correctly pronounced "peh-TOE-mec") River runs past Washington D.C., and is often used in reference to the US capital.

[2] "Chain-smoking": Smoking so much that there is seemingly no pause between cigarettes. The classic chain smoker uses the previous cigarette to light the next one.



Except where otherwise noted, all contents © 2004, Paul T.S. Lee.
Creative Commons License See my copyright page for specific permissions granted under the Creative Commons License.