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reading tiger

Dinner and Orinda

Yesterday's dinner, that is. Improvised heavily from odds and ends left in the fridge, it ended up as poached eggs and mushrooms with a touch of creme fraiche over polenta, and man was it good. Put a little rosemary in with the mushrooms and it made all the difference.

So, Orinda. I took the girls originally to see this:

The Swirling Peacock by aquababe
The Swirling Peacock, a photo by aquababe on Flickr.



What I didn't realize, however, was that this wonderful peacock by artist Patricia Vader, whose wheels and such spin in the wind, is just one of the many sculptures out and about in Orinda Plaza, between the library and the community center. There was a jumping frog, an empty airman's suit in bronze (I think), a whole lot of colorful abstract art, something labeled "Outtahere" that looked like giant snowflakes, another called "Trees" that looked like bundles of wooden branches but were made of metal. There was even some guerilla yarn sleeves for the bike rack. So the kids and I had an impromptu art lesson in which we discussed colors, shapes, materials, and meaning. I asked a lot of "what do you think that looks like?" and got a host of entertaining answers.

We stopped off at the library for a little bit of end-of-summer dance party and then walked over to the community park, just on the other side of the community center. How nice of Orinda to be so compact. Especially considering the rather intimidating double pedestrian bridge route we had to navigate to get down to street level from the BART. The community park is huge, there are trails heading on up into the hills that we didn't even peek at, plus a huge grass lawn, two play structures, tennis courts and some water feature I didn't even have time to find.

It took some time to break the ice on the playground, but eventually Simone happily spent several hours playing with two young boys. April was frustrated for a while that nobody wanted to play "the princess game" with her -- that is, Princess and Dragon, in which the dragon chases the princess and threatens to eat her. I offered to pinch-hit and was eventually allowed to stomp around in the sand muttering about tasty tender meat desserts. Of course, this convinced the rest of the kids they wanted to play Princess and Dragon, too, or Princess and Dragon and Ninja with Sword and Spear to be precise. Dragon retired from the field of play and April was happy for the rest of the afternoon.

Later we moved over to the smaller playground structure and Simone met another one of her Instant Best Friends, in this case a 7 or 8-year-old girl who loves dinosaurs, so they ran around being Triceratops and Velociraptor and had a grand time in each other's company. We also met New Best Friend's younger brother, who is mostly blind and language-delayed due to a brain injury, apparently. New Best Friend was a fierce advocate for her brother and forcefully explained that he has "special needs" like a cane sometimes. We discussed other people we know who had special needs like canes or scooters or wheelchairs or whatever to contextualize this new information. New Best Friend was amazingly sweet for an older kid and she and Simone hit it off so well that I'm kind of sad they live so far apart. On the other hand, Orinda is only two BART stops away...

I can't say that Orinda's food and ice cream options impressed me all that much, but on the other hand the folks behind the counter in all cases were exceedingly friendly. Which is good, because usually I am totally freaked out every time I go over the hills.
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You and your children always seem to meet such interesting people! Like calls to like, maybe?

I am totally going to Orinda the next time I'm out on your coast, because there is nothing I love more than public sculpture.
I think I've just added Orinda to the list of places I need to take my kids to.

They miss April and Simone, btw. Soon.