Life in Cambridge, Part V

Life in Cambridge, Part V
August-December 2004

The first three weeks of August we all trooped back to the Bay Area. Between Alan making professional stops at UC Davis and UC Berkeley, and a nasty bout of Arcturan flu (you don't want to know details), we didn't get to see as many people as we wanted to. Besides, the trip was really all about the food, baby. Alan and Debbie managed to go to Sugata's twice to load up on good sushi, but only got Zachary's pizza once, darnit. We did get to Ajanta's with our friends Pam & Dave (see right); to Fontina's with the folks (our favorite family Cal/Italian joint); and to Liu's Kitchen. Above all, Debbie and Alan got to sit quietly on the bench outside Peet's at the top of Solano and watch Berkeley go by. Of course, we also made a pilgrimage to Trader Joe's.

Dave is much happier than he looks

Alas, we only made it out to the Renaissance Faire for one day, but we did our best to make the most of it. The girls were especially glad to reunite with the "yellow shirt gang." Returning to Cambridge in mid-August, we jumped into the back-to-school frenzy, replacing all the too-short trousers or too-(chocolate, yogurt, etc.)-stained shirts.


In September, Naomi started year 3 and Rowyn, year 1. Rowyn also started piano lessons and Naomi started ballet. Alan went to yet another conference, this time in Toronto. The tragic news of the month, however, was that the kid's school burned down September 26th at night. No-one got hurt, but the kids were very confused and fairly upset. (At this age, there aren't arson fantasies.) Luckily, there was a school nearby which was about to undergo renovations, so after some mad preparations by the teachers and staff, the kids moved into their temporary new home.

In October, brother-in-law Joel & sister(-in-law) Jessica visited for a week. We had a fairly relaxing time and enjoyed fine wine and good food. Their first night here, Alan dragged a jetlagged Joel to a party at Trinity Hall where he fit in to the crowd just a little too well.

A few days after they left, Debbie's Mom & Dad arrived and stayed into November. They had fun with us at the Carlton Arms Halloween Party & Casino Night fundraiser for Mayfield. Halloween itself was fun with Alan and the kids making the rounds of the roughly one-in-ten houses that had porchlights/pumpkins. The haul was sufficient to rot an army of teeth.

Graphic Design 101

What prince could resist?

Debbie and Alan took advantage yet again of her folks being here to take a jaunt, this time to Mallorca for five days at the beginning of November (click the picture at right for more pictures). Not the best weather, but still a lot better than East Anglia in late Fall. Midmonth, back in Cambridge, there was a fairly random snowfall one night just before bedtime (melted by morning, of course). Debbie threw a birthday non-party for herself at the Carlton Arms and continued a Hobbity tradition of giving gifts on one's birthday instead of getting them. In this case, that meant a pint. At the end of the month, we all went to see the Cambridge Operatic Society's production of Pirates of Penzance. Alan madly juggled applications for the next postdoc while still trying to get a publication out to make himself cosmologically desirable (hmmm....).

View from our hotel window...ahhhhh...

What, are you lookin' at me?

December started off with yet more G&S as Debbie took Naomi to see Cambridge University G&S Society's Sorcerer (the kids are doomed to become G&S fans at this rate - well, it does come from both sides of the family). Rowyn couldn't go because she just had to attend a Christmas party with her boyfriend. Sigh.

Self-explanatory Pink Fairy Hmmm...Non Angli sed Angeli?
Vici, Vidi, Wiki

The rest of the month was packed. Alan finished his first solo-author paper which has received no bad reviews yet. The kids performed in the Annual Mayfield Christmas Show (above, left and center). As part of their history curriculum, Naomi's class had "Roman Day" (above right). The kids were big enough to light the candles themselves for Chanukah. They also enjoyed decorating our (new) Yule tree for the Solstice.

At the end of the year, we spent an unusually large amount of time at the Carlton Arms where we've gotten to know a lot of the regulars. We had a "Christmas dinner" there with a group of them. This is a fine British tradition in the couple of weeks leading up to Christmas which involves a meal with all the trimmings and crackers*. These good people also had us over to their house for Boxing Day. We spent Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve at the pub. Now, before we get barraged with concerned emails outlining 12-step programs and the like, you have to understand that it's not all about drinking. It's about staying warm with good company. (Besides, the real ales keep changing every few days.)

The Usual Suspects
*Christmas Crackers - These have never really taken off in the US, though I have seen them for sale in speciality shops from time to time. They are brightly decorated paper tubes with a handle at each end. You reach across the table and ask someone to pull the other end. When it breaks, a snapper gives out a loud bang, a party hat drops out along with a small gift and a terrible joke. - from The Best of British