Posts Tagged ‘albany


The first time I told this story

The Last Time Ever, originally uploaded by neocles.

this is what I said:

“We were getting into our bunks when this strange light seemed to come down from the sky, and there was this rumbling noise and the camper swayed a little. It got really loud, then suddenly–very quiet. And we felt this pressure, and then I blacked out. When I woke up, I was alone.”


Small Town Centennial

Shock Waves

When we first moved to Albany, I thought of it as a decent, reasonably safe place in the east bay that’s close enough to SF, which is, of course, the center of the universe. There is plenty of stuff within walking distance, including Solano Ave shopping and dining. Berkeley culture is just a few blocks away. And I could garden to my heart’s content.

But after being here for a couple years, it came to seem a little too sleepy, a little too cool and foggy for kick-ass tomatoes (and other fruits), a bit too far away for genuinely impromptu trips into the City, and at the back end of the some of the worst traffic in the Bay Area. Not only that, but most of the shops and restaurants seemed a far cry from the hip joints found in neighborhoods like Rockridge, Elmwood, and even 4th St, much less places in the City. It seemed like a sort of overpriced suburb.

Maybe it just takes time, maybe it takes having a kid, or maybe it just takes a change of perspective, but I think I have come to see that the most valuable quality of this place is the sense of community, and in fact, the actual community. It sounds kinda hokey, but going to community events and seeing so many friendly faces really gives one a sense of place and stability. There is always something going on, like July 4th pancake breakfasts at the Veterans Memorial Building, parades of soccer kids and high school bands, Santa Claus visiting on a fire engine, a month of music in the park, and on and on. The latest event to bring everyone together was a dinner to celebrate Albany’s centennial. The entire town was invited to come down to Solano Ave for dinner, music and dancing in the street. It was an absolute blast. And there are not too many places around here where you can put a couple thousand people together in the street with loud music and alcohol and have it all come off without trouble.

Before it starts to sound too much like a Norman Rockwell cover, consider that many of the everyday folks who live here are recent transplants from the SF or other nearby cities looking for a safe place to raise their kids. The place is chock full of interesting people. So it turns out the likelihood of meeting a parent who is either a punk musician, artist, surgeon, web programmer, scientist, landscape architect, or [fill in the blank] ready to pound a few beers and dance in the street is really very high. A conversation ranges from avant garde music to research on climate change, to bluegrass, to growing apricots, and of course to progressive politics. So, I am loving my community. I am sorry I doubted you.

More photos of Albany events!


Indulgent Parent or Crafty Photographer?

Caleb, House and Topiary, originally uploaded by neocles.

Saturday was a long day. It started by my rushing around trying to get various domestic chores and to-do’s done before helping good neighbor friends the Fosters with day two of their move to a new place. Dig the topiary.

So after grocery shopping, collecting up mom’s laundry, getting a hair cut, last minute trip to the drug store for more allergy drugs–damn! The decongestant-antihistamine-pain reliever combo drug is TWICE as expensive with real pseudo-ephedrine in it!–I arrived to help with the move. I’m sure glad my neighborly friends and pillars of civic life in Albany, CA found a place in town to hatch the next one, and didn’t have to move to, say, Albany NY. Housing prices have managed to stand pat around here. They say it’s the schools.

Meanwhile, we had strongly intimated to, if not outright promised, Theo that we would go check out the free telescope viewing at Chabot Space and Science Center. Well, by the time the packing, loading, unloading, organizing, pizza, and beer was done and we got home, it was durn near 9 p.m. That’s pretty late for chilluns to be heading out to party.

But a promise is a promise, as we were repeatedly, like a skipping CD, reminded. Indulgent parent that I am, I agreed to take him up there to see what we could see. Theo had a disco nap in the car on the way there, and I had to wake his ass up upon arrival.

It was a good night for viewing. We saw the Beehive Cluster, M3 Globular Cluster, Capella binary star system (I think), and Saturn with four of its moons! Seeing Saturn through a big telescope is pretty awesome. Theo is totally into it; looks like we’ll be coming back often. And since we were going anyway, I took camera and tripod along for the heck of it. Results below.

Theo looking like a demon on a light fixture



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