Sunday, April 30, 2006

Weekend Update - Our New Backyard

The weekend was dominated by relatives. We went to San Francisco on Saturday for our nephew Ethan's Red Egg & Ginger Dinner, and then hosted a barbeque for my cousin Lei-Lei and her kids on Sunday. The best part of the weekend was the first official new backyard outing with Russell and Punky, who enjoyed playing with the Miss Spider sprinkler, jumping down from the rocks on the flower beds and running barefoot on the new grass.

I also finished the second raised (new) Victory Garden bed, which nearly broke my back during its construction. In an ode to recycling, I built it with concrete blocks that came from a dividing wall in the previous version of the backyard. I now have a lot of irregular leftover pieces of concrete and lava rock remaining in the back of the Victory Garden. What should I do with them?

Russell attempts to fill a water can from Miss Spider's spout while Punky approaches with caution (and milk bottle) Posted by Picasa

Punky enjoying our new backyard and garden Posted by Picasa

Russell checks out the Miss Spider water sprinkler in our first official (new) backyard outing Posted by Picasa

My cousin Lei-Lei and her kids stopped by for barbeque and ice cream Posted by Picasa

Victory Garden 2 - The second raised bed is now complete while tomato and zucchini plants spout from the first Posted by Picasa

The Fabulous Brewster Boys contemplate dinner in San Francisco Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

V is for Victory Garden 2

Over the weekend, I put together the first of two raised garden beds that will comprise the new Victory Garden. There are two tomato and two zucchini plants in the first raised bed, which took over an hour to build and even more time to fill with soil. I'll hopefully be working on the second raised bed this weekend and growing beans, cabbage and scallions in that one. It will be organic, of course.

The new Victory Garden - The First Raised Bed Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Weekend Update - Ching Ming Festival

We spent most of Saturday observing the Chinese Ching Ming Festival. Translated literally, "Ching Ming" means "sweeping the graves of your ancestors". Since Jenny's grandparents and her father are buried in Half Moon Bay, we drove out to the cemetery overlooking the Pacific Ocean and met up with Jenny's mother and sisters' families.

Growing up in New Jersey, I did not celebrate Ching Ming along with my family. My parents would only celebrate Chinese New Year's and nothing else. That's what happens when you grow up in an area with only a few others that share your heritage. The Fabulous Brewster Boys will not have that problem out here in California.

Some people look upon Chinese customs such as Ching Ming as a form of ancestor worship. I don't see it that way. The way I see it, we spent the afternoon paying our respects to our deceased relatives by maintaining their graves, adding fresh flowers and praying for their souls. The saddest sight at the cemetery was not the families grieving for their lost loved ones, but the graves that had clearly been neglected for many years. In fact, Jenny says that in China, her family used to have a lively picnic at the family's ancesteral burial ground.

After paying our respects to Jenny's grandparents and father, we gathered up the Brewster Boys--who had been running around the cemetery like free-range chickens--and headed up Route 1 towards the tiny town of El Granada. There, we walked on the beach and watched the waves until dinner time. For dinner, we stopped off at a nearby pub called the Distillery and had sandwiches and hamburgers.

Russell finds a well-worn pinwheel at the cemetery during Ching Ming  Posted by Picasa

Punky scoots across the cemetery during our Ching Ming observances Posted by Picasa

Punky holds onto his grandmother at the beach Posted by Picasa

Punky runs along the wavefront as Russell spies a near miss Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Pictures of the Day

Russell shouts out his love for the ocean Posted by Picasa

Punky at Half Moon Bay after Ching Ming observance Posted by Picasa

Russell and his grandmother at the beach Posted by Picasa

Punky works his way slowly towards the water's edge Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Part 2

I slept a little better the second night, since I got to sleep in the bed instead of the rock-hard floor (there were five of us and only two queen-size beds). The only disadvantage was that I had to sleep with Punky, which meant that I would get kicked in the head, back and side frequently during the night.

To save money, we avoided room service for breakfast and ate at a nearby deli. As usual, Punky ate very little but Russell seemed to be his normal, hungry self. Then we headed back to the Aquarium to check out the larger displays along with those we missed yesterday. Again, Russell was more interested in the Aquarium than Punky, although the birds (especially the ducks) in the Coastal Aviary did capture his attention.

The highlight of the visit on this trip was clearly the jellyfish section, which contained many interesting types of jellyfish that none of us had ever seen before. The pictures below don't do them justice. We all agreed that our visit to Aquarium definitely worthwhile, and that we would return again in two years.

The final part of our trip was a drive down Highway 1 towards Big Sur. Along the way, I picked up some hot dogs, Chicken McNuggets and salad for our lunch. The ride was very scenic, but we could not find a safe vantage point for everyone to view the ocean, and so we turned back after driving about 50 minutes. We only stopped once briefly on the side of the road to take a picture. On the way back, Russell said "I want to go potty", so we stopped on the side of the road and let him do his business (sorry, no pictures).

The ride back was long and uneventful. We dropped off Jenny's mom in San Jose, made a quick pit stop, and then headed north for a Chinese take-out dinner at home.

Punky reacts to seeing the duck take off Posted by Picasa

A duck takes off at the Coastal Aviary Posted by Picasa

Russell spies on some jellyfish Posted by Picasa

These jellyfish look like Murano glass paperweights Posted by Picasa

More amazing jellyfish Posted by Picasa

Russell and Punky at the wave-generating tank Posted by Picasa

The view of the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Part 1

After a terrible night of sleep, we rolled out of bed at 8AM and ordered room service for breakfast. Both Russell and Punky ate little, which is characteristic of their behavior whenever we leave home for vacation. I purchased tickets at the hotel's front desk, and then we headed on foot down the street towards the Aquarium, which was only 4 blocks away.

As you can see from the photos below, Russell seemed mesmerized by the scenes at the aquarium. He led us through most of the exhibits, stopping at each one for several minutes to take in the view. Often, he would lean against the fish tanks with his face pressed flush against the glass. On the other hand, Punky seemed more interested in climbing the stairs between the aquarium's two levels, or breaking away towards the outdoor tanks. I don't think Punky knew what he was missing as he ran away from the displays at every opportunity. Eventually, this would prove to be his undoing, as his constant movement--like that of a shark--appeared to wear him out. He fell asleep in my arms as we headed out of the aquarium for lunch next door at Bubba Gump's Restaurant.

Altogether, we spent barely three hours at the Aquarium and restaurant before we headed back to the hotel, and called it a day. We had deliberately skipped a few sections of the aquarium (the Shark and Jellyfish displays) knowing that our tickets were valid for two days, and that we would be returning the next morning. I have nothing much to say about the remaining part of the day, other than that we watched a lot of Disney videos, and I saw "Extreme Home Makeover" for the first time.

Russell spys on a pair of leopard sharks in the Kelp Forest Tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Posted by Picasa

Punky at the controls of the Penguin display' Posted by Picasa

Russell at the anchovy's circular tank Posted by Picasa

Punky munches on a cookie as sardines swim by Posted by Picasa

Russell shows some interest in the tuna display Posted by Picasa

A birdseye-view at the Coastal Aviary Posted by Picasa

At the Coastal Aviary, with the Brewster Boys and Jenny's mother Posted by Picasa

After a day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, there's nothing like eating at Bubba Gump's Restaurant Posted by Picasa