Pumpkin Juice

Our first face-to-face role-playing game of 2022 took place at Hogwarts. The kids took on the roles of second-year students and pursued the mysterious disappearance of a popular prefect. Besides drinking a great deal of pumpkin juice, the protagonists had to sneak into the restricted section of the library, avoid getting detention, complete a long herbology assignment, and discover the secret entrance to the warlock’s tunnel. The game culminated in a magical battle with an evil wizard.

Can they save Hogwarts?

Introducing Mochi

On Sunday, our family expanded with the adoption of Mochi, a ten-month-old cat. Mochi was friendly from the get-go, and has been growing more so with each passing day. At first, Piper didn’t know what to make of this strange puppy that doesn’t know how to play properly. But she was patient and gentle, and they are quickly becoming fast friends.

Luminary Loppet 2022

The 2022 luminary loppet took place on Saturday, February 5. It was a lovely evening of mild weather after a long, cold week. (Temps in the teens rather than hovering around zero plus wind.)

2022 loppet map

We’ve attended the event most winters, though it doesn’t always make it into the blog (see 2011 and 2017). It features a beautiful ski/walk/snowshoe trail that winds around the surface of the Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis. The trail is lit entirely by ice luminaries (frozen columns, blocks, or spheres that contain candles). It’s otherworldly, to say the least.

This gives you a blurry sense of what it looks like.
The hanging luminaries were a new feature.
Maggie next to a giant luminary.

Oliver wrote a book about the experience at school. Each page features an illustration and a caption (in the blue bar). I’ve added typed captions additionally in case you aren’t adept at reading Oliver’s calligraphy.

Hot cocoa
fire dancer

COVID-19 in Wastewater

This is not breaking news or anything, but I’ve been fascinated by the predictive power of analyzing the quantity of COVID-19 in metro wastewater. (See the live graph, updated weekly.) The rise and fall of the viral load in our wastewater accurately predicts the approximate number of reported cases about 6–8 days in advance.

In the screenshot below, you can see the massive spike of cases in January. You can also see how quickly it peaked and began to fall. The high point in wastewater was around January 10. Cases continued rising for another week or two, but then started falling rapidly. This information is exceptionally helpful to schools who are in the uncomfortable position of needing to make weekly decisions about whether to stay open and how to handle staffing challenges.

Another element that they are tracking in our wastewater is the type of COVID-19 virus present. The chart below shows the rise of delta (in blue) followed by omicron (in red/purple). Let’s hope we won’t need a new color anytime soon.

Working it Out

This morning Oliver came to me in the kitchen for his morning snuggle, and we were walking past the string of paper bags we have up for masks for everyone in our family who goes to school everyday (see the picture below). I walked past while holding him and he said, “Wait! Go back!”, and looked at the bags. He said, “Sunday starts with, S, right?” I said yes, and he stared and stared at the bag with my name on it, slowly whisper-sounding out the letters, with a confused look on his face (I believe expecting the letters would sound out to Sunday). And he repeated the sounds and finally his face brightened up and he exclaimed: “Sarah! That says Sarah! That’s your name!”

Daily COVID masks for the family.