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Passover, Tidbyt & TrainTrackr, and gardening

When our flight from Philadelphia landed in San Francisco a few weeks ago, it was cool and very dark. We don’t usually take such late flights, but the timing and cost worked out that way this time. It had been a bit of a rough flight due to the boys missing naps too, but at least we had finally gotten to the end of our colds, which had hit us hard during most of our time in Philadelphia.

The first thing we did when we got back, aside from returning to work after a couple days off to prepare and travel home, was to go shopping for Passover food! Passover began on the evening of the first full day we were home, so MJ had to drive up to the city to grab our Seder plate and prepared meal (which we thankfully had the forethought to order the week before) and then stop at a couple places to grab some matzoh and some unleavened goodies for the week. We ended up not doing our family Seder on the first night because all of us were just too tired to pull it off, but we got to enjoy it all on the second night.

I also successfully made matzoh brei for the first time. The last time I tried was when MJ and I were living in San Francisco, and it turned out to be an eggy mess, and I wasn’t eager to try again. But MJ convinced me this year, and we needed something to eat on Saturday morning, when we usually have challah french toast. I watched a video on YouTube and then exercised my new found patience during cooking to execute. It came out just like it should! Admittedly, it may not look like much, and you’d never guess that matzoh and egg would turn out good, let alone something to apply syrup to, but it really does work, and everyone ate some, including Adam whose dislike for eggs made him extra skeptical.

In hobby news, I finally set up my Tidbyt and TrainTrackr. I say this like they’re actually related, but they’re not. The Tidbyt is a little retro display, and the TrainTrackr is a circuit board and series of components and LEDs arranged and programmed to do real-time tracking of BART trains. They are similar only in that they’re both neat little plug-and-play devices, they can both be used to track BART trains, and I had both sitting in a closet for over a year because their hokey WiFi configurations aren’t compatible with our WiFi setup here. So, did I solve our WiFi conundrum? Well, no. I just put them out and tether through my phone when I want to enjoy them, usually in the evening when I’m in my big comfy chair writing (hello!).

On weekends we’ve been spending a fair amount of time outdoors. Partially out of necessity, but it’s also been beautiful out. A very rainy winter led to the weeds in our yard getting quite out of control, and now that the boys are old enough to enjoy spending time outside in the garden, I’ve taken advantage of that. One Saturday was spent pulling weeds and mowing the small patch of lawn out front.

We spent that Sunday planning for and installing a series of inexpensive, solar-powered lights out front. We’ll end up replacing them when we get a more permanent outdoor landscaping plan set in motion, but for now it’s nice to make some small improvements. Plus, it was really fun to get out some pencils and rulers with Adam to plan out the lighting.


Speaking of which, I also expanded my collection of lawn ornaments! I never saw myself as a lawn ornament person, and find most of them tacky, but then Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep series of lawn ornaments came out. They may still be tacky, but I fell in love. Plus, I had a nice spot of mulch-y garden that they’d fit nicely in. My collection began with Gromit, Shaun, and Timmy. A smaller, pacifier-laden Timmy came out recently, and I snapped that one up too during a recent Gromit Unleased order. The Wallace and Feathers McGraw figures had been on my radar for a while, but shipping from the UK is expensive (something I avoided with my first set, since they were available domestically), so I kept waiting for them to be offered here. Ultimately they still aren’t available here, and I was worried about them being discontinued, so I bought them last month. They round out our collection nicely!

To conclude some of our plant adventures, we checked out a local garden sale recently and then did some planting on Earth Day. The plants we got at the garden sale mostly just slotted into a big metal thing (vintage oven?) that came with the house, but I also decided to dig up some planters that the previous owner had left on the fence and we deposited some succulents in them, clippings from mature plants we have. Unfortunately I swiftly learned that critters like digging up those planters. Within a day, both had holes dug in the soil and all the succulent trimmings were displaced. I’m not sure where to go from here, the succulent clippings aren’t taking root as a result, and it’s hard for us to keep other types of plants alive, hah!

I am not optimistic about our ability to maintain a beautiful yard ourselves. Life and work as it is keeps us incredibly busy, and aside from the enjoyment we get with the boys, we don’t exactly enjoy regular gardening as an activity. But it did feel good to get the major weeding done so our yard is doesn’t get completely out of hand.