surprise smokey sunset lights autumn birthday festivities

dan, nazy children, grandchildren Sep 26 2021

Does Dan always celebrate his September birthday in autumn? Will the grandchildren agree to let Dan have the biggest piece of birthday cake? (On Dan’s birthday.) Was the sky really filled with cantaloupes? Why was it necessary to ‘make sure that Arrow’s cough’ was not worrisome? Who reads in the dark? (And Why?) How do 2021 car seats compare to 1960 car seats? We all know that grassy knolls are found in Dallas — but what about rocky knolls? Where was the Lucky birthday dinner/? Read More...

cameras, rockets and honey battle gravity, chemistry and tradition

Grandchildren Sept 20 2020 on Turtle

Who didn’t want to take any more pictures? And, if you don’t want to take pictures, is a wedding the best place to be? Who is able to thrill three children by spotting a snail — and a column of migrating ants? How long does it take for a centrifuge to spin a couple of frames of beehive sufficiently? Why was the model rocket named “Vlad”? In what ways is a vinegar and baking soda powered volcano superior to a vinegar and baking soda powered rocket? How many ways can a model rocket parachute fail to deploy? Read More...

magic calendars morph birthdays into wedding day

dan wedding talk 2

What’s the next date in the sequence: 6/13/14; 7/15/16; 8/17/18? If you ‘guessed’ 9/19/20 you’ve divined the subject of the latest issue of The Weekly Letter? Why are these dates special? Does it have anything to do with California wildfires? How about California grandchildren? Or, say, their parents? Where do they take a lot of pictures? And who wants to be, eh, who demands to be in every picture? What event would be suffienctly momentous to bring Mitra from Los Angeles to California? Will FedEx and the bad hair witches subvert the plan?

rainless, but colorful rocks watch linguistic children reign

Tiger and computer Jan 2017

When visiting the Natural History Museum with Mitra and Dan, what exhibit will be most interesting to Arrow? And, on a related note, what happened to the building blocks and the earthquake simulation table? Can florescent rocks take up the slack? How about friendly raptors? Can Dan cope with the limitations of monolingualism? Can Darius take pronunciation corrections from a 2 two year? Read More...

Post-Grad dances and bubbles with circus, legos and Mitra

Mitra and boys slush july 2 2019

Who graduated — but wasn’t able to find a paying gig? And who was the youngest student to land a post-grad appointment? What does ‘Stop Ahead’ mean? Would it mean the same thing if you were five years old? What job requires both bravery and stupidity? Hint: It’s not Congress, that only need one of those attributes — a massive amount of said attribute, but nevertheless only one of them. Where can you get a semi-automatic bubble-generating machine? Finally, who makes the best lemon slush? Read More...

Orange Winter Storms Butterfly Birthday on Trampolin

mitras party 2019 b

What is the official name for a group of butterflies? Why do painted lady butterflies choose to migrate across the Pacific Coast Highway? At rush hour? Were any of them smart enough to seek refuge in the local museum’s live butterfly sanctuary? Did anyone in Santa Barbara know what to do about a ‘Winter Storm Warning’? (Did anyone recognize the word ‘Winter’?) How did Arrow deal with the ‘slow moving’ obstacles on his obstacle course run? Would you volunteer to chaperone a pre-school visit to the zoo if you knew the topic was ‘bugs’? (Hint: I’m a lion guy.) Who provided detailed specifications for her birthday cake (orange), menu and agenda? (By detailed, we’re thinking multi-volume.) Read More...

Rusty Mailbox fills my heart with joy and rocks my unpacked boxes

Melika, Tom and Arrow August 2018

Does order really follow chaos? Before answering, note that the chaos was caused by a house move. And, if your answer is ‘Yes”, how long does it take? Is there a use for unpacked moving boxes? Does a ventriloquist dummy bring ‘joy to your heart’? Why should you care? Can a wonderful new home be spoiled by a rusty, dented mailbox? Where was Dan’s “WE WILL ROCK YOU” shirt hiding? Is he brave enough to wear it outdoors? Read More...

puzzling Vermont fares baffle algorithm as train wrecks birthday waiter

dan and tiger selfie

It turns out that loosing jigsaw puzzle pieces is a core family competency. So, who lost half (New Hampshire and Vermont) of New England? Who designed the airline pricing algorithm that proposed a ‘flexible economy’ ticket that cost 5 times more than an unrestricted business class ticket? How should you choose the celebrity to mimic when you’re taking a selfie with a three year old? (And how did we do?) Can Dan deal with an overly solicitous, hands-on, obsequious waiter? Read More...

sunny skies and snowy skis sing silly songs

nazy, Mitra Stefan hike March 2018

How did Dan successfully explain “Day and Night” to Tiger? And how is he sure that Tiger ‘got’ it? And, for the next explanation: would you try quantum mechanics or daylight savings time? Where, in the states, can you choose between hiking on a sunny trail with an ocean view or skiing in really snowy mountains? Who flew more than 13,000 miles in a single weekend? And why? Why did Nazy’s Russian nanny vanish one day?


Paper Art Thanksgiving: Everyone who matters is here

family photo letter 2 (ok from Chrisitane?)

When was the last time that
everyone in The Martin Family was in the same place for Thanksgiving? (Don’t despair, we can’t remember either.] When was the first time that The Martin Family wasn’t in the same place for Thanksgiving? [We do remember this?] Have you ever been stuck in an airport with only a nickel? Who didn’t want to cooperate while we took, or more accurately, attempted to take the annual family photo? What exactly is paper art? Read More...

academic shenanigans and father’s day follies on Tiger’s tricycle

Nazy and Arrow June 2017 at Hendry Beach

Pancakes or granola? Does the spousal mandate change on Father’s Day? What is going on when Nazy expresses concerns about being ‘on-time’? How is young Leandra adjusting to the new world? Or, more importantly, how are Darius and Christiane adjusting to young Leandra? What’s the deal with university politics? Surely it wasn’t that way in the good old days! What happens when Tiger notice that Arrow has been spending a lot of time on Tiger’s tricycle? (We don’t know and please don’t mention it to Tiger. Read More...

Contemporaneous accounts depict sleepless nights and birthday wonders

Nazy, Mel and boys tiger birthday June 2017

How do official documents from The Martin Family archives save the day? Or, if not completely saving the day, at least demonstrating grandfatherly wisdom? Who kept hourly and, timely, contemporaneous records of children’s sleep, eh, nocturnal, habits? Suppose it’s your birthday — number three — would you be willing to share your decorated ‘car-cake’? What do Monster (the cat), Arrow (the, almost toddling) toddler and Benji, the bluejay have in common? And, finally, who “did not have secretive relations with that country. Russia?” Read More...

hidden sunglasses chalk up birthday cake kindness

Mitra and Arrow at Music May 2017

How did Nazy help Dan lose (another) pair of sunglasses? Although it will be left as an exercise for the reader to decide who is ultimately to blame, decades of husband experience suggests that the vast majority of fault will lie on the masculine side of the divide. Note: In the previous sentence: strike ‘vast majority’ and replace with ‘all’. Who wants to eat “all” of Mitra’s Birthday Cake? (Hint: It’s not Mitra; she was willing to share.) How did The Martin Family get out of the ensuing conundrum? Why are there ‘always’ chalk drawings at The Old Mission on Mitra’s birthday? Read More...

Mitra and electric Soul arrive as drought (almost) ends

mitra, Stefan and Soul

Why can a Santa Barbara project manager claim credit for ending the California drought? Hint: the desalination plant is about to come on-line. How will the local citizenry respond when green appears in the landscape? (What about wildflowers?) Why is the exact distance between Mitra’s home in Los Angeles and our home in Santa Barbara so very important? What drove Stefan to scale the challenging ravine next to our driveway? Can a 2 year old sum up soccer in a single sentence? And, what would Benjamin Franklin say?


drought tweets picnic basket birthday swim with goggles

mitra mel tiger and birthday cake May 2016

What occasion was so important that The Martin Family picnic basket had to be deployed? (I can’t share the initials of the birthday girl, but her name was ‘Mitra’.) How often was the picnic basket — complete with wine glasses and corkscrew — ever used during our twelve year stay in Switzerland? Which Presidential candidate can’t tell the difference between a lake, a river, a creek and a dessert? (Hint: He went to a ‘university’.) Will the grand(est)son swim with goggles before his 2nd birthday? Read More...

Piano playing cat drops ball on crumbled iPhone car


Why must Dan cope with probes and pokes? What do harpsichord playing felines have to do with balls? Why was the physician unimpressed with a digital clock? Is Mitra the master of nooks and crannies? (And rock and leaf?) The grand(est)son unwilling to ride in the rental car — could it be that he blames someone for breaking the red car? Read More...

mea cookie, culpa campaign and fraught snow in sparkling party

New Years party dan nazy melika tom

How many people in Costa Rica were on TV cheering while Dan ate a sugar cookie? How did that celebration fully qualify Dan to run for President of the United States? Why is the photo of Christmas snow in Santa Barbara so very clean? Who wanted sympathy for an airline glitch that involved a business class upgrade on a 16 hour flight? What would the reaction be from someone who is usually downgraded to last class? Was the New Year sparkly enough for Dan and Nazy?

Full Moon sailing in a dark and rainy party habitat

dancing Tiger Dec 19 2015

Was a sailing instructor really willing to entrust a boat to Dan for a ‘solo’? (How did he hedge his bets?) How is a home renovation project like child birth? And why did I think of that analogy? And who, in addition to Mitra and Stefan, loves to dance? Hint: see the intro photo. How well can children remember events from the distant past? I’m talking about the Grand(est)son and ‘rain’ and the first daughter and … well, you have to read about it here.

Magic planet-wielding street dancing stroller-filled parade

Tiger, Dan and Mitra june 20 2015

How can the grand(est)son sleep next to a blaring 10,000 Watt speaker system when you want him to be awake? How can the grand(est)son wake up because he heard a bird feather fell in the driveway 800 meters away? Can Dan fumble a simple stroller-pushing task? The Music Man led 76 trombones in the Big Parade, but who led the 9 planets? If a Magician asked you to pick a big word, would you chose “drop” or “transcontinental”? (Hint: It’s amBIGuous.) Read More...

Swimming, dancing, walking tiger babbles epithets at Skype

Family all on Tigers birthday

Can Skype bring a baby to tears? What does Dan have in common with the graduation speaker at the American University of Beirut? The grand(est)son’s dancing genes are shared by Mitra, but where did he get his babbling genes? Who gets his comeuppance - and why? And, didn’t someone, a grand(est) someone have a birthday party? Read More...

puddle alley parking & El Niño end California drought

Tiger and Dan May 2015 at Coffee Kat

Which city has alleys wider than many European motorways? Why is better to show up late for an Air Canada flight? (And it’s not because your flight is late.) Why did Dan need trekking gear to find his parked car? Does a puddle in LA and a forecast for a strong El Niño mean that the California drought is ending? Is the grand(est)son impressed by the Jellyfish Museum?


cupcake cups and draught conspiracy color- Correct the sunset

naz, jamsheed and balllon Feb 2015

Has someone in the locker room uncovered a draught conspiracy? Do you think aliens (either illegal or extraterrestrial) are stealing water from the Lake? What do you call the little things that cupcakes are baked in? And why do babies find those things so exciting? Special sunglasses correct Dan’s color vision - but won’t work in Zurich. Why? And what does that have to do with Mitra and Vancouver. Read More...

Thanksgiving Milk Popsicle & banana Mush miff Neighbor

Family Thanksgiving

How did the grand(est)son like his first solid food? (Would your opinion change if you knew that the ‘food’ contained rice and bananas?) And how did the banana gruel compare with a frozen milk popsicle? Can a California neighbor match the hospitality that we found in Zurich? Hint: he’s from Detroit and has the wrong name. What do the Baltic Republics have to do with Darius’ new wardrobe? Read More...

Feline ice-cubes celebrate grandest iPhone Equinox

Tom, Melika, Jamsheed 3 months

How does the cat react when he realizes that he’s not the top dog? How do we know that the cat is a Tango aficionado? (Hint: it has to do with a bandoneon.) Why should the autumn equinox be celebrated with a freshly baked cake? Will ice cubes work as drip irrigation technology? How did Dan get access to photographs of the iPhone7c? Read More...

Tale told by Friends Romans and candles strutting and fretting

family scared 2014

How does Dan weave Hamlet and MacBeth into a weekly letter celebrating the autumn equinox? And what were you dreaming about on a midsummer’s night? Did you know that midsummer - in fact all of summer - ended on September 1st? Why does Darius need designer shoes before he returns to Beirut? Read More...

Dancing baby tangos to last-place 5K Finish

mitra and stefan jamshid dance

Why does Darius want Dan to break an ankle? And, can you believe that the rationale was cleverly disguised as ‘good for you’? How can ‘third in your age class’ turn into (next to) last overall? What is the best age to learn to Tango? And an easy one: who is best qualified to teach Tango to a baby? Read More...

Dilapidated LAX Welcomes Darius from Crimean Wars

Darius and baby best

Will the Iran Visa in Darius’ passport cause him problems at the border? Will it increase the likelihood that he will be selected for a ‘random’ special security review? Who is reading a book that (purportedly) proves 2+2= ? Can Mitra, Darius and Stefan defend their championship position at The Meet in the Heat? How will Dan and Nazy celebrate their anniversary? Read More...

wasta jet d’Eau shoots meditating brussel sprouts at Dan

darius and sunset

Why is Dan rinsing brussel sprouts out of his mustache? Hint: A plumber was visiting the house in Santa Barbara. Can meditation missteps ruin someone’s involuntary nervous system? Who is able to track oxygen molecules as they travel from nose to diaphragm and (yuck!) beyond? What is WASTA and why doesn’t Darius use his? Read More...

Pretty girls tempt great tenors hiking up pregnant hills

nazy on the boat

Would you rather be “great” or “grand”? How about “wonderful” - like the Wizard of Oz? How can Darius benefit from being one of only 4 tenors in Lebanon? Why does Dan want to change his name to Noah? (Hint: It has something to do with the ice-maker.) And did Dan and Nazy actually witness an escape from San Quentin? Read More...

Visualized Grandparents with 24-hour Electricity

Golden Gate from Shahriar's

Did Mitra’s ‘California Visualization’ cause Dan’s trouble-free cross-continent flight experience? Was Dan (gasp!) wrong to doubt the approach? Why do the ‘locals’ think that Darius directs US foreign policy decisions? And can Darius be happy in a new apartment that has 24 hour electricity? What life-form fails to understand the meaning of a hissing cat? And.. what is the ‘small challenge’ about Tom and Melika’s marriage celebration?

Simpson Ant dismembered left-handed Fencing spectacles

san ysidro 4

When it comes to eyeglasses: Is the postal service option (mail and wait) more economical than the “I want it now” alternative? Are you right-brained or left-brained? How far would you go to equalize the sides? Is an ant colony Simpsonly is an earthly example of The Borg? (And was that a spelling error in the previous sentence?)


Holiday Greetings

bubble family 1 copy

Dan brings his corporate experience (downsizing) into the family arena. Can expense reduction, outsourcing, consolidation and relocation make family relocation easier? Why are bubbles featured in The Martin Family Christmas photo? How does Dan weave a Saturn V and a sinking, sticker bedecked, container ship into the review of last year? Read More...

retroactive exit-cats Watercolored by birthday Militia

Mitra at Tivoli 1993

Who would name a cat after himself? Who is on the A-Team? Nazy! or Dan? Is safer to dodge militias and roadblocks in Lebanon or traffic jams and homeland security in California? And will everyone celebrate Mitra’s Los Angeles birthday with the Tango Challenge?

Clam-digger spectacles and laser dummies


In the trousers category: are polka dots more powerful than clam diggers? Is “it’s a little better” a ringing endorsement for Dan’s new website? Is there a military laser strong enough to correct 20-50,000 vision?


Syrian Insight in mud


Can Mitra’s broken Insight help Darius prepare a last-minute lecture series about the Syrian economy?  How will Melika’s sprint through the Muddy Malibu Obstacle Course increase the family IQ? Read More...