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A rodeo, 4 pounds of cherries, and “antiques”

I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite things about living here downtown in Castro Valley is getting to enjoy the smattering of annual events that take place just a couple blocks from our doorstep. It’s no San Francisco, but they’re charming events that connect us with the area in a way that I thought would take much longer than it has. One of those events is the annual rodeo parade. We’ve been a couple of times (they skipped a couple years due to the pandemic) and it’s fun to watch the boulevard come alive with a bunch of civic organizations, schools, companies, and other organizations.

The following weekend is the actual rodeo. I didn’t grow up in the west, so rodeos were always kind of a vague notion that I read about in history books. I knew they still existed, but it wasn’t something I paid much attention to. We talked about going last year but decided the boys were still a bit too young. This year we decided to go.

I joked that it wasn’t really my scene, and that’s a tremendous understatement. I think we all like to believe we have a bit of the wild west in us, at least in a playful way, but it swiftly became clear that I had grown into a city person with delicate sensibilities, much more at home with a book and a comfy fireplace than the dirt and excitement of a rodeo. Still, most of the events were exciting to watch and admire the talents of the men and women who were competing and performing.

But I’ll be the first to admit that I felt uncomfortable with some of the animal capture and tying events. I expect there’s a need for these skills and I appreciate the expertise of the folks who keep these skills alive, and I do eat meat, after all, but I didn’t enjoy it. Instead, I took the opportunity during these events to take the boys around to visit the vendors, browse the food stands, and get close to the animals.

Our walking adventures were quite enjoyable, except for a moment when I was walking around with Adam and the wind picked up, and picked up a vendor tent along with it. I went into instinctual protect-the-child mode and covered Adam with my own body and bore the brunt of a corner of a tent landing on us. After confirming Adam was OK (by panic-asking him about 30 times, hah!), I dusted myself off and assured folks around us that I was fine. I did develop a pretty nasty bruise on my elbow, but I kept thinking about how much worse it would have been if little Adam had gotten clobbered. Go parent instincts!

The following weekend was Memorial Day weekend, and we continued our spring activities by driving up to Brentwood for some cherry picking. I think it was one of the parent groups that clued me in to the cherry picking activity, but it was a natural fit given how much the boys love plants, and cherries. I didn’t quite appreciate how much they’d both enjoy it. They were both incredibly well-behaved as they took their little buckets around the orchard.

We had lunch in the nearby Brentwood downtown at Zephyr Grill & Bar. A festival was going on just outside and we were able to get a nice table outside where the boys sat peacefully for most of the meal, with the assistance of some cartoons on their phones. On the way back we stopped at a farm shop to pick up some last minute goodies.

Then we had four and a half pounds of cherries! We ate most of them straight up, but also took some to make cherry muffins, which came out really nicely.

The rest of the long weekend was a pretty low-key affair. Some local family meals out, a morning when I took Aaron out to a playground and a couple thrift shops before stopping for donuts. The following Saturday continued this with long Saturday walks around the neighborhood to stake out some garage sales, visit the farmer’s market and a playground, and a nice outdoor lunch at our favorite local cafe.

The final big activity was that Sunday when we returned to the antique fair in Alameda. I hadn’t quite gotten it out of my system the month before, especially after leaving behind a lovely old Underwood portable typewriter. I didn’t come across that Underwood again, but I did pick up a 1975 Olympia portable, my far the newest typewriter in my little fleet. Both MJ and I also picked up a few vinyl records, which made me laugh and bristle a bit at the whole things being called an antiques fair. But yeah. These vinyl records are from the 1960s and 70s, which means they meet the definition. And so do I, hah!

We had lunch there, and I ended up with a sunburn that would nag me for the rest of the week, but thankfully I had been more thorough with the application of sunblock on the boys, so I was the only one damaged. I think I did get the fair out of my system this time, so maybe our next second-hand adventure summer will be to one of the local flea markets.

Throughout all of this, we’ve also been adjusting to some change. I mentioned briefly that we welcomed a new au pair into our home, and that has meant getting her up to speed with not just getting to know us and the processes around child care, but also getting her settled in to the town, and doing lots of settling in paperwork. We also didn’t have our family car! Due to some problems with the head unit connecting to vehicle services, it was at the dealership for several weeks of diagnostics, hardware replacement, software updates, and who knows what. Thankfully, we had a no-cost loaner from the dealership during this time, but it was a smaller vehicle and we were constantly worried about getting it excessively dirty or damaged (muddy feet?! Shoes off!). While I’m grateful for the loaner, I don’t think I fully appreciated how low-key stressful the situation would be. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I keep trying to be gentle with myself and acknowledge that little things can pile up. Oh, and guess who knows how to climb out of his crib now? Join me next time for the saga of getting a two year old and a four year old to share a room overnight!