Friday, August 27, 2010


I have lots of stories to tell, and I hope to fill some of them in over the next few days. Today, however, I want to talk about my hedgehog.

The hedgehog was really Nika's idea. Nika is Alla's daughter, who came to San Francisco for a week while we were there. She arrived with a cute little brown and white hedgehog toy, and proceeded to take pictures of him in various places wherever she went. Sadly, Nika's hedgehog ran away at the DeYoung Museum. He was in her purse, and apparently escaped when Nika took out a scarf to wear inside the air-conditioned exhibit hall. Since this was the beginning of an entertaining week-long project, we were all disappointed and I set out to find another hedgehog.

We visited a few toy stores near where we were when we discovered Nika's loss, but none of them had these hedgehogs. Next, we did a web search from my phone and discovered that they are available by mail order from many places. Encouraged to know that this was a common item, I phoned some more toy stores the next day and found a store near us that had them.

I wanted to buy a matching hedgehog for myself, but Nika objected that this infringed on her copyright. She did, however, allow me to buy a chocolate-and-white hedgehog, and she even paid for it. We named him Tiburon, after the city we visited together the day before. I have uploaded a few pictures of both hedgehogs in my growing California album.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Kind people

Alla prepares for a warm weekend. From 2010-08 California
The picture at the right has very little to do with today's story, but I've found that bare midriffs generate attention among some potential readers.

This has been an extraordinary weekend. We went to a place we’ve never been in California, close to the national forest where my family often summered but surprisingly different. We’ve been at a small ski resort called Bear Valley and at nearby Alpine Lake. We came to attend a reunion of my “former” family, but they’ve been kind enough not to forget me after the passing of my first wife, who was cousins with this gang. We enjoyed hikes, bike rides, meals and music together.

Today was the last day for this family gathering, and everybody gathered at a picnic area beside Alpine Lake to relax together. At the end of the day, we ate together at Alpine Lodge. The folks at the lodge asked us to look at a menu this afternoon and place our orders early because they’d be serving a wedding party inside and us on the deck. They worried that two large groups might be hard to handle without preparation.

As we got started on our dinner, a young man in a tuxedo came to us with a bottle of wine. He explained that he is the groom of the wedding party, the wine was special, and he wanted to share it. The waitress brought out a load of small glasses and everybody who wanted to try the groom’s wine got to have some. Later, after the bride and groom cut their wedding cake, their party invited us to share it. After a certain amount of encouragement, we did. Then they invited us all onto the dance floor, and we capped off our beautiful day with a delightful evening of dancing and appreciation for the kindness of so many people around us.

We also enjoyed a little chat in Russian with two members of the resort staff, here for the summer from Ukraine.

This has been a fantastic weekend, with a unified spirit of easy-going inclusiveness. It’s not just something about the Daley family, but something special about Bear Valley too. We both want to come back.

Cousin Kate wishes everybody well.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Life in San Francisco

People don't speak English around us. Well, that's not entirely true. The shopkeepers and bus drivers all use English, but we're completely surrounded by foreign tourists speaking a variety of languages. We first noticed this riding a bus two days ago. Alla observed that we were the only people on the bus speaking English. Oops. We switched to Russian.

I'm waiting to overhear somebody else speaking Russian, but the Russians aren't here. Today we heard at least two groups speaking Italian, folks speaking Spanish and Portuguese, as well as numerous languages I couldn't identify. Yesterday we identified several groups speaking French. But the only folks speaking Russian were shopkeepers in the Russian grocery stores we visited on purpose.

Aside from our disappointment about Russian, we're really amused by the cacaphony of languages we are hearing here.