A Tree Grows in Oakland

Why, look, it's a happy little beaver.

clay beaver

Can we tempt him with Chinese food?

Well, he's been busy, eh?

Our Nevada County Thanksgiving

Washington, CA

Our first Thanksgiving in California was without our own furniture or pretty much any of our other things. I suspect our stuff spent the holiday somewhere in Utah. (It's supposed to come tomorrow, but I'm not holding my breath.) I'm not saying I was feeling all homesick for DC or anything, but I thought it would be fun to spend our Thanksgiving morning in our new county's Washington. I didn't know what to expect, but I was pretty sure there wouldn't be any statues.

I was wrong.


There was this strange yard full of random flotsam and jetsam. I think most of it would have been perfectly happy in the (awesome) Visionary Arts Museum. The collection included a sign that read, "No Scavenging." I don't think anybody really needed to be worried about that.

Generally speaking, parking in Washington was not much of a problem, but there was one meter protected by some gnarly looking meter maids.

Parking Heads

Like our own DC, Nevada County's presidential burg has a museum. Unfortunately, it was not open on Thanksgiving Day. Not everyone has quite the same level of funding as the Smithsonian, I guess.

Coffee Pot Museum

I imagine that the museum's background music is just A Proper Copper Coffee Pot over and over and over again.

There is also a hotel, where presidents and other famous people have slept. The townsfolk were preparing for a Thanksgiving potluck while we were there. The sign-up list included such delicacies as "house baby." What the heck is house baby? I only hope they were able to keep the six gazillion dogs in the town away from the dessert table.

Washington Hotel

(It turns out the the Washington Hotel has just gone up for sale. For less than a million, you too can live in the only town on the Yuba that was never burned to the ground. It has its own set of interesting decorations in the garden and a lovely view of the river. (And the road down from Route 20 is freshly paved and wonderfully smooth.))

South Yuba River

If you do buy the place, you might want to help Washington with its advertising and maintenance.

Washington Sign

As for this particular Washington, you can tell that it is the one in California. Every single flat space in Nevada County has one or more of these:

Welcome to Gold Country. At any rate, a closer look reveals that this one has some special cargo.

Happy Holidays, indeed.

After the morning in Washington, we stopped at the Five Mile House for our Thanksgiving meal. The Five Mile House is a very old building that was once a stopping place for coaches going on up to Washington. It got its name because it is five miles from Nevada City, close enough to bike if one likes to bike vertically. The food was delicious and filling, but there was still room at home for homemade pie. The Brunette made pumpkin and I made sweet potato.

How was your Thanksgiving?

2 Restaurants, 2 Experiences

Last night, we took a quick walk through Grass Valley's Cornish Christmas. Two streets were blocked and filled with local revelers, snacks and crafts. Oh, and lots of Christmas music.

We survived.

The festivities started at 6, so we stopped in at Club 141 to eat dinner at 5. We were on our way to the usual Mexican restaurant, but we noticed the fire and comfy couches at this little GV tapas restaurant. So we changed plans and popped in. Sadly, the proprietors wouldn't let us sit in the comfy couches near either fireplace.

"The couches are the only place we have for big groups, and we're going to be busy," we were told.

The food was excellent. The empanadas had a nice crust, the cheese in the peppers was delicious, the bacon-wrapped dates were a great combination of fat and sweet, and the artichoke bottoms were wrapped with chicken in a tasty puff pastry. All-in-all, we spent about an hour before waddling up to the Cornish Christmas.

No other customer ever came into the restaurant.


Tonight, we went in search of some steak. Every business in Nevada County seems to sport a little "best of" badge, so we looked for NC's "best steak." The internet led us to Willo Steak House, a bar and restaurant in a Quonset hut on Route 49.

This time, when we entered, we were asked if we had reservations. We did not. This proprietor, however, welcomed us with open arms, saying "You should go on to Reno, this is your lucky day." He told us there was generally a two hour wait on Saturday night. We were seated immediately.

The menu only has about six options, but there was steak. And the best part: you can save 50 cents on your order if you cook it yourself over the huge grill in the front:

That's the Brunette's arm tossing steak there. I made one, too. Good thing I like my steak rare.

Vista Point

Here in California, we don't have "scenic overlooks," we have "vista points." There's one up on Route 20 overlooking the Yuba river. You can't see the river from way up there, but the trees and mountaintops are lovely.

Although it was Thanksgiving morning, we weren't alone. We shared the view with an older gentleman who had arrived alone by Miata. He sat on the wall eating from a Chinese food container. I wanted to get a picture of him, but he kept moving around and it seemed rude to try too obviously.

Still, I took some of the landscape and it is a beautiful view on the way to Washington.

Falling for Nevada City

When we were searching around for a house, I was excited to see that the prevailing tree in this neck of the woods is the lovely pine. I found it so lovely because I thought that meant that we'd see green all year, but more important, because I thought it would mean no leaf raking in the fall. In fact, it wasn't until we took possession of the house and I looked out my new office window that I realized we actually had some deciduous trees in the yard.

And while they are beautiful, they make quite a mess.

Even if I decided to go cut down all our leafy trees, though, there would still be a mess. I had no idea how much falling pine trees actually do. I mean look at this roof:

We're going to have to figure out how to sweep the roof.

But the good news is that the trees are somehow spontaneously generating paint stirring sticks, so I might be going into a new business soon.

Outside the Optometrist

WOMAN AT CAR: So, do you want me to follow you?
MAN: Yes.
WOMAN: So, do you want to describe how we're going in case we get separated?
MAN: If I thought you could follow directions, I'd give them to you.

Fire Hydrants Make Me Want to Use the Bathroom

I can now say I've lived from sea to shining sea. Granted, neither side of the country is bounded by a sea, and I have not lived anywhere near the ocean, but I have lived in the state of the redwood forests and in the state of the New York island.

Oh, wait, those are two different songs?

Never mind.

At any rate, I lived and went to university in Upstate New York. It was an idyllic time, really; I was so young and had no responsibilities. Sure, I was picking up debt like a prison work-release highway litter patrol, but I loved being in school and playing in wind tunnels and working on computer programs in the stone chapel.

So, I've moved out here to California and I was awfully tickled to find that many of Nevada City's fire hydrants have been marked with the name of my alma mater. How welcoming is that? That's the advantage of a small town, folks.

Rensselaer Fire Hydrant Nevada City CA

Of course, in addition to being the name of my school, Rensselaer is the name of the county in New York, and also of a small town south of Troy. Perhaps they were not honoring me after all.

And here I am picking up debt again. At least some things never change.

Fun with Google

A couple of things from the Googlewebs.

This is from Autocomplete Me. I liked a lot of these, but when I did the searches I found so many of them were actually movie quotes...


Do you have friends who always ask questions that they should be able to find out for themselves? Try this link for any question: What is the elevation of Nevada City California

Odd that a co-worker pointed this site out to me...


We are finally officially residents of Nevada City, California, a small city in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Although we're over an hour to the border, our county reaches over to touch the state of Nevada. We're only slightly closer to the Sacramento airport than the Reno/Tahoe airport, but winter will generally keep me flying out of Sacramento as the snow along I-80 is often heavy. Sadly, we're down at about 2600 feet, so we'll not see as much snow, but it is within striking distance.

house pic

There it is, the first picture of our new home. It's not a great picture, but it's hard to complain about the sun being so nice and bright.

another house pic

We finally received our loan funding and the keys yesterday afternoon. So we ran right over and touched the house that now belongs to us. It's going to be quite an experience living with three bathrooms and .8 acre of trees after the little row home coop we had in Greenbelt. I hope it's not too much for us.

We've already met one of our three neighbors. She was out leaf blowing the road. She told us she usually does the whole street and she had done our driveway a few days ago. I wonder if she'll shovel it, too. Although we're inside the city, our road is a private road, so whatever the snow there is will be our problem.

It just struck me that Nevada City's 2800 residents must be fewer than the number of residents in the 1600 units of the Greenbelt cooperative.

At any rate, I'm hoping there's enough snow on our trees to make the view out these windows nice this winter.

We're not yet actually living in the place, however. The movers haven seemed interested in telling us when they might bring our stuff, so we have nowhere to sit or sleep. Soon, though, I hope. Soon.

Morning Call and Emo-ville

So, we still don't own a house, but I've been living out here on the west coast for a month now. I'm more emotional than I expected to be.

I'm also hungrier than I expected to be. Every morning, the team of coaches I work with has a phone-based "huddle." The coaches are all over the country and we have a half-hour sync up. When I was back in DC, the call wasn't until 11:30. Over here in Nevada City, the call is at 8:30, which isn't really unreasonable, but I'm finding I haven't always had a chance to eat breakfast before the meeting.

And not eating makes me grumpy. Being sick makes me want to be hugged. Not sleeping well makes me, uh, tired. So I have a lot of things to blame this hopefully temporary weirdness on.

If it doesn't go away, I'm going to dye my hair black, try to grow out a forelock over my eyes, and change my name to Peter Petrelli.

The picture is another wonderful selection from the amazing indicommons collection.
Also, since the gift-giving season is nearly upon us, let me point out another little gift that would not be appreciated by anybody I know: Anything called an "emo bracelet"


So, I've found myself overhearing a lot of religious conversations lately. Last week in Boulder, there was a group of men sitting in the breakfast restaurant chewing the fat. One man told the story of how hummingbirds ride the backs of other birds to get down to Mexico. This amazing story was was followed by many appreciative grunts, including comments about how great God is and how there's no way that this world wasn't designed.

A few seconds later, the conversation turned favorably to a documentary called something like "Everybody Has an Enemy." They described a nature film showing animals being eaten by other animals (and "this African guy running away from a lion").

Yeah, great design: building in enemies for everybody.

Then on the airplane this week, a woman went on at length about her church work, which is fine: people talk about work. Cool. It was when she got into words like "abomination" and "iniquity" and "have to pay" that I got nervous. I don't want to hear about how the Bible is telling sinners where they're headed when flying so high above the ground. I certainly don't want to hear that note of self-initiative in her voice...


From The Ridger:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck's Protest Footage
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Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Laramie, Wyoming

Nice to be back making these little guys on the road. Wyoming is pretty sparse, so I'm not sure that somebody's going to just happen by and see these guys.

In Wyoming, it's all about the cowboys. This one seems to be missing something.

cowboy on rock

The other thing Wyoming's all about: horses.

cowboy and horse

Wonder where he got such a playful horse.

Miniature Horses

It's all so clear.

close up sign

We're driving west and have made it past Salt Lake City. I've run out of clay, which is probably good since I don't know what Mormons' sense of humor might be like.