Monday, August 31, 2009

The Pro

Ok, here she is.

She's been fearing learning to ride for years and then suddenly, in literally 3 minutes, her older sister taught her how to ride.

Now, we cannot get her off the new bike. Yes, it's really big for her, but I stand by the decision to get one that big. She'll ride it for years, no doubt.

In other news, I'm looking at a local place that lets you borrow lenses so maybe I can get an even better action shot of her riding. I like this one, though. Dig the smile and the fairly unblury shot.


She crashed into a car in someone's driveway yesterday afternoon. She was banged up and the car was not injured... She's determined to get back on the bike today, though. Funny, another kid in the neighborhood ran into the same car in the same driveway and broke his leg two years ago. Note, the car was completely legally parked and we're all at a loss to explain it. I feel bad for the car owner though!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bugs. And Stuff.

The house was empty today, everyone off riding bikes or running errands, so I took out the new camera and tried to get some photos of stuff around the yard. While the quality of the photographs is dubious (the pictures look much better on the camera, but I saved them off very small for the web), I still had a great time exploring via the lens.

A bumblebee?

Here's a little butterfly-ish guy:

Not sure what kind of bee this is:

And finally, a paper wasp. These guys are always building nests under my eaves and I'm really tired of them (even if they don't seem to bite/sting). All the neighbors have the same issue.

I've signed up for a photography class (you're welcome!) and so I hope to improve dramatically in the next few months.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Broody Again?

Grrr. What is it with the heat and Mohawk? Every time we get a heat wave here in the Bay Area (so, when the temperature reaches 95 - 100F) Mohawk becomes broody. Her comb hasn't gone completely pink, and she laid yesterday, but then she would not leave the nesting box for the rest of the day.

Friday, August 28, 2009

More on Crater Lake and Camping

(Warning, vacation slides!)

We really had a great time on our vacation.

First a weekend in Oregon at my cousin's place. I ate a thousand of these:

And the kids ran wild. We spent some time swimming under this covered bridge about 1/2 mile away:

The it was off to Crater Lake. We stayed here. We all really liked the Pumice Desert:

The kids were utterly fascinated by my near mystical ability to make a fire. I swear, they were entranced. Should I be worried? Seriously though, they thought I was the coolest.

This trip was our first camping experience outside of the back yard and the kids handled it like pros. They easily entertained themselves and I never heard anything resembling "I'm bored!" In fact, I think they could have stayed in the exact same campsite for another week before they had exhausted naming every ground squirrel and jay. Every pinecone or branch or piece of moss begat a whole conversation, even though they'd seen all of those things before.

We're not the "trailer" types, but aren't these trailers cool? We saw a couple of them during the trip.

On the way back we stopped off for a night at Mount Shasta -- more awesome scenery and a little hiking.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


My recent visit with my cousin in Oregon caused me to really take a step back and examine things. He's got about 3 acres of gorgeous land. A creek runs through it, he has blackberries, thimble berries, salmon berries, and huckleberries. He's a self-sufficient kind of guy. He can fix anything. He can make just about anything. He has no concept of the fear of failure. Oh how I envy him!

For a year or so now, I've had this quiet nagging voice in the back of my head asking me what I'm doing. What am I doing with my life, with my family's life? Is this all there is to it? Just wake up, go to work, come home, be a consumer? Am I satisfied with that? Is that the life I want my children to have?

Spending that time with my cousin seems to have made that nagging voice a tad louder, a tad more _confident_.

But I'm just so darned comfortable here in my modern life. I like my modern conveniences -- every one of them. I love that we have some disposable income (hello new camera!) and some of the "freedoms" that affords us.

But at what cost? We have our three urban chickens and our 30 square feet of vegetable garden, but that's hardly a dent in our carbon footprint, mere lip service.

We have our comfy excuses for not making a radical change in lifestyle: We're not getting any younger. Our kids will have a more comfortable life. What if we fail?

But that voice...

Lately we find ourselves having discussions that start with "If we did sell everything and go buy some land..." Like we are discussing it by approaching it from an obscure angle. We're joking, but we're not. Occasionally I'll grouse about how I don't have any skills that will translate "after the apocalypse" -- things I could do to earn a living if the economy every totally collapses. "You can cook and sew and stuff," I complain, "but all I can do is manual labor. There won't be much call for Technical Writers..."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back from Crater Lake!

We had a wonderful vacation driving up from the Bay Area to Sweet Home, OR and then back home via Crater Lake.

While the highlight of the trip was camping at Crater Lake and Mount Shasta, the heart of the trip was a visit with my relatives in Oregon. I was hesitant to make the trip -- not because of the long drive but because I had (and still have!) such idyllic memories of the place, I was loathe to return and find the place unable to live up to my lofty expectations.

But I needn't have worried. Our daughters took up right where I left off over 25 years ago. They had two cousins their own age to play with and they explored the forest and ate the blackberries and stomped the creeks and breathed the air. They made lifelong friendships in the course of a single weekend. It was a success in every way imaginable.

We made blackberry jam to bring home. And as we all sat around the kitchen waiting for the jam to cool, we alternated between talking and watching our kids running through the yard. I lived through them, a bit, I admit; however, I continued making my own sweet memories of the place.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Well-Oiled Machine

One week after "curing" the broody Mrs. Mohawk, we have an efficient team of hens again. Mohawk started laying again yesterday. Woo! So now we're getting as many as 3 eggs per day. We were curious about when she'd start laying again, considering she was broody for a month (we'll handle the next one better). Of course, I attribute Mohawk's recovery to my inspirational talks:

ME: Hey Mohawk! Make with the roundies already!
MOHAWK: [scratches and pecks interesting specks on the ground]

The new and improved roost I built is working out well. They're no longer sleeping over the nest box, which is nice. Now the coop really is finished. Unless I think of anything else to do...