Monthly Archives: August 2009

Joys Of Summer

We knew we were in for a good time before we even walked into Raley Field on Friday night.

river_cats

As A. and I made our way up to the gate, a tight formation of Air Force F-5 fighter jets screamed by overhead to kick off the matchup between the River Cats and Grizzlies.

A., who loves any machine that’s loud and fast, couldn’t believe his good luck at seeing planes flying so low. But things got better.

A banner hung overhead near the entrance announcing $1 hot dogs and ice creams, and I knew then and there that we were in for an eat-a-thon.

First-inning action was already under way, but we had our priority: food.

A., who I think gets his love of grub from me, stepped up to a food counter and ordered a giant vanilla soft serve in a waffle cone. He was handed the tallest, most beautiful soft serve I’ve ever seen. Was A. up for the eating challenge? He assured me yes.

As for me, I could not let this $1 offer go to waste. Three hot dogs and an ice cream sandwich for me, please.

Since there happened to be a baseball game going on, A. took me over to his favorite spot — the grassy slope along the outfield. A neighbor kindly gave us tickets for some very nice seats, but A. likes to sit on the grass, where foul balls sometimes land.

So we found a place on the sod and began to chow down in a serious way. It was bliss, sitting with A. eating ballpark food on a warm August night, watching the game out of the corner of my eye as a setting sun cast shades of red on a few clouds to the west. Nice.

Once we were well fed, it was off to the kiddie game area nearby. A. tried wiffle-ball batting practice, pitching practice, the obstacle course and the tall inflatable slide. We were soon on the move again, checking out stuff for sale outside the souvenir shop.

In the later innings, we eventually found seats. We watched a little of the game and the American Idol-type contest that was going on along the third-base line.

We stuck around through the ninth, digging the music played prior to each batter, watching people do the wave and checking out video clips played on the large screen in the outfield.

By the way, the River Cats lost 3-0. But did it really matter?

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Fruit Market Stroll

The under-the-freeway farmers’ market is just another reason to love Sacramento.

market

Little C. and I made our weekly visit on Sunday morning, walking among the vendors to pick out produce for the week.

This year-round market, which sits in a shaded parking lot at 6th and X streets, seems to be hitting its seasonal peak right about now.

C. likes this place, and she sat up straight in her stroller taking in the sights and sounds. She likes to get out and about, to soak up anything new. To her, it’s all a big adventure.

As traffic roared by on the elevated freeway above, we made our way among the throngs of shoppers and past booths stacked artfully with produce.

We go back to the same merchants each week, drawn in by friendly sellers and consistently good fruits and veggies.

Our first stop on Sunday was the booth run by J&J Ramos Farms of Hughson. It sits at the northeast corner of the sprawling market. That’s where C. eagerly helped me pick out deep purple plouts. One after another, she dropped them into the bag I held. The peaches here gave off a warm, summery aroma that just begged us to buy them for fruit salad.

We like to get our watermelons from the booth next door run by Jimenez Farm of Stockton. The staff is happy to help pick out good ones and over the years, I can’t remember them selling me a bad melon.

We also like to roll by the Hooverville Orchards booth at the southwest corner of the market. This is the spot for Bartlett pears and Gala apples grown in Placerville. Plus, the guy in charge is a great salesman, always making a loud pitch to those passing by.

By the time we left, the handles of C.’s stroller were loaded down with bags of fruit.

I’ve been going to this market for years, first with A. and now with C. And I’ve seen the same vendors pretty much the whole time.

We try to go before 9 a.m. or after 11:30 a.m. to avoid the crowds. On some days, it seems like half of Sacramento is there. And I can’t blame folks.

This market is one of the constants that makes this town such a great place to live.

We stock up each Sunday on enough produce to carry us through at least Thursday.

And this Sunday, we’ll be back again.

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Stop It, Miss Fungus!

Tensions were high today when curious little C. got too close to A.’s toy garbage truck.

“Stop It, Miss Fungus!” A. yelled out, loud enough to be heard all around the house.

It’s not easy being a 6-year-old boy with a little sister not quite 2.

She gets into his stuff, grabbing his Hot Wheels, tossing his Pokemon cards and just generally raising a ruckus.

A. responds with seemingly random names for her out of frustration.

A. is crazy about his little sister most of the time, and he does nutty dances and anything he can to get her attention and make her laugh.

But sometimes I think he yearns for those 4 1/2 years before she arrived, when he was the focus and the prince of the house.

Shortly after C. was born, A. asked us to buy a baby cannon, so he could shoot her far, far away.

Sorry, we said. She’s here to stay.

A. is free to go in his room and shut the door when his little sister proves too much to handle. That’s his domain, full of Legos and other cool toys that are all his own.

Of course, sometimes he makes up pet names for C.

Monferno

These days, he calls her Monferno, a playful, fierce, orange-haired Pokemon character. He insists this is a compliment.

He has also dubbed her Hairy Little Crime Fighter, a name he uses with love. I think.

C. is picking up new words of her own all the time, and I’m waiting for the day when she talks back to her brother.

That’s when things will really get interesting.

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Can’t Get Enough Of Stink And Henry

Chapter books have been a big hit this summer vacation.

stink_and_henry

A. has read a series of stories about Stink Moody, and now he’s moved on to Horrid Henry tales.

Both sets of books are smart and funny, and we’re glad to have something around that keeps A. excited about reading as second grade looms.

Megan McDonald, who lives in Sebastopol, does a great job weaving in lessons. In “Stink and the Incredible Super-Galactic Jawbreaker,” there’s a focus on idioms.

A. is now really enjoying Francesca Simon’s “Horrid Henry and the Soccer Fiend,” and he was tickled by what Henry did to his brother’s diary. He likes this book so much he even asked to take it to bed to read before going to sleep. We can’t ask for anything better.

My wife, L., is really the mastermind behind getting A. to read over the break. But she says it’s been tough to find good chapter books geared for boys.

Anyone out there have any other recommendations?

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Hello, Biter

Little C. loves spiders. Or as she calls them, “biters.”

That’s a good thing, because we seem to have a bumper crop around our house this summer.

new_friend

The other day, she spotted one on a wall outside and went closer to get a better look.

“Hello,” she said.

The spider just sat there.

C. crinkled up her face and smiled.

When she left, she waved at it.

Again, the spider just sat there.

C. goes for creepy crawlies of any kind, regularly stopping in her tracks to quietly watch a ladybug or a snail.

She’s gentle and careful not to squish them.

That’s a little bit different than A., who tends to flatten any rolly polly he finds in the yard. It was an accident, he told me after one met an early end.

A walk around our neighborhood can take a long time if the bugs are out and about. C. likes to stop and study each one.

Could she be a budding entomologist, bound to discover new bugs in some remote land? That would be great.

For now, she’s just content making friends with smallest creatures she can find.

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Half Person, Half Dirt Monster

There’s a gravitational pull between boys and dirt.

It’s impossible to keep the two apart, as we found out Saturday during a fishing expedition to Jenkinson Lake at Sly Park Recreation Area near Pollock Pines.

We set out from Sacramento at about sunrise, two dads and two boys packed into a minivan for the hour-long drive up Highway 50 to the foothills.

Anticipation built up for days in advance of the trip. This was, after all, the first real fishing attempt for 6-year-old A.

On Monday, we went out and got a fishing pole for A. We picked out pink and yellow PowerBait and some salmon eggs. On Wednesday, we put a bobber on the end of the line and practiced casting on the grass in the back yard. I spend a good amount of time untangling the bobber from a nearby tree after errant casts, but A. showed a lot of natural talent. On Friday, we got a couple cups of night crawlers. We were all set for the big day.

We got up a little after 5 a.m. Saturday, met up with our fishing buddies and rolled into Sly Park at about 8 a.m., ready to find fish after fueling up on pancakes in Placerville.

We quickly found a spot at the north end of the lake, along a stretch of shore near where a little creek enters the lake. The scent of pine filled the air, and the nearby trees cast long shadows over the little cove where we sat. This place showed promise.

A. was eager to cast, and flicked a line with a bobber about 50 feet off shore.

fishin

It was now time to add a leader, hook and a little bait.

But in the time it took me to rig up his line, the call of the dirt and the water already had a grip on A. and his 7-year-old friend, T.

A. told me to cast for him, and to let him know when a fish grabbed the bait.

He and T. had exploring to do, and they were off with nets looking for critters to catch. They laughed and splashed and threw rocks into the lake. Both were as happy as any kids I’ve ever seen.

This was fine with me. The dads just kept on fishing.

The boys were soon both soaked up to their necks from exploring the lake. Their wet clothes were a magnet for dirt, and both kids looked like grizzled mountain men returning from a six-month trek through the forest.

Each was covered with a crust of dust. Maybe this was how the boys from the caveman times did it, protecting themselves from mosquitoes with a layer of crud.

A. later looked at himself and declared he was “half person, half dirt monster.”

We got skunked by the fish, but the boys didn’t care. We drove east to a spot on the lake near Hazel Creek Camp for lunch and more looking around.

That’s where A. caught his first fish, a little 2-inch thing near the shore. With is bare hands, no less.

He and T. both checked it out and set it free.

Maybe next time it will be all grown up and A. will reel it in on his own.

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