Sunday, July 29, 2012


This is what we did this weekend!  We built trails.

Have you ever wondered while hiking how trails are built?  I have.  I've imagined a bunch of burly young guys, full of energy, moving boulders and and getting sweaty and dirty.

At the beginning of summer I wanted Amelia to experience volunteer work.  I got on-line and searched for something that she could work on that would tame her teenage energy.  I wanted her to feel like she could contribute to her community in a positive way.  It's different having a teenager.  You want them to feel connected to your family but you also want them to learn to fly a bit on their own.  That's how I see it anyway.

The Tahoe Rim Trail goes all the way around Lake Tahoe and the portion we have been working on will link that trail with the Mount Rose trail head.

We learned all kinds of things while volunteering.  First, a lot of people that work on this trail are enthusiastic retired people.  I should have known.  Secondly, there are all other types too.  We were the only family and the crew leaders were so good about involving Solomon even though he's only 10 years old.  Amelia was an old pro at it this weekend because she had gone a previous weekend.  There were also a few young burly guys.

Thirdly, I learned about the tools of the trade like the McLeod.  You can do all kinds of things with this multi-use tool.  The Pulaski is a tool which combines an ax and a adze (duh).  And also the usual pick mattock, the crow bar, the shovels and loppers.  I know I'm forgetting a few.  We had a lesson on all of these at the beginning about how to hold them, use them and lay them down when not in use. 

I learned words like duff which is the decaying leaves and branches covering a forest floor.  I learned about testing your trail to make sure it was deep and stable enough.  I learned that if you think you've gotten all the rocks out then you're fooling yourself and it's best to rake it over and compact it.  I learned that taking a lunch break gives you new perspective on your work. I got pretty frustrated with my section because every time I thought I had removed all the duff, my crew leader would come by and tell me I needed to remove even more.  

At the end of the day, our team had made 300 ft more trail.  It was such a good feeling.  I thought about hiking this trail sometime next year and being so proud of the section we built together as a family.  It was such a positive experience for us that I want to continue through the rest of the summer.

I'd love to hear about any volunteering that your family knows about!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

full on summer

At the beginning of summer my always organized friend Mary sent me a list of her weekly family rhythm and I decided to sketch one out for my family.  At first it looked really full with all kinds of things filling our days.  But, I knew I had to just wait it out and see how it all fell into place loosely.  Monday is our tennis lesson, Tuesday is the farmer's market, Wednesday is lake day/fun day, Thursday we walk to the library and Friday is another fun/free day.  It feels really good to have some kind of structure in our week. 

There are lots of in between time to just do nothing, maybe time for taking a nap or reading a book.  I'm all for doing nothing or just watching the grass grow or robin fledglings in our yard while sitting in the hammock.  I'm taking lots of deep breaths this summer, just slowing down a little.  Even with all this slowing down though, I still go to sleep at night thinking about how full our day was!

I've also been juicing at least 4 mornings a week.  I feel so good.  It's a great way to use up the greens from the garden.  I've been adding celery, carrots, apples, beets, cucumbers, lemons, ginger and sunchokes.  I've also been starting my day with a headstand to get all that good blood to my brain and short meditation to start my day out right.

 I've been watering my garden, pulling weeds and watching everything grow like a proud mama.  It's a never ending job, that garden.  It's so worth it though. 

I picked our apricots and Jonathan made the most scrumptious apricot bars that disappeared in day.  I was watching the fruit ripen and I really wanted to keep them on the tree as long as possible. There are a few slightly green ones in there.  But, it's a tricky thing.  If I waited too long they would all fall off or be eaten by the birds.  I think I picked them at the perfect time.

I got a flat of unsprayed peaches at the farmer's market and again made peach lavender preserves.  I've been canning a lot.  Last week I made a summer squash relish...Wow!  It was so good!  Today I got a flat of strawberries and made some jam.  I added a basket of blackberries!  Oh my gosh, the color of this jam is so beautiful!  Well, I guess you can't really see it here but you'll have to trust me on that one!  It's so surprising that a flat of strawberries can go so fast.  There are lots of little hands that sneak a pint or two before I can get to my jam. 

My chickens are outside now and they're loving it.  They've grown so much as you can see.

And a few weeks earlier....They really don't like getting their picture taken.  They think when I get close to them I'm trying to catch them and they're really not into that!

I could go on but I think it's time to go to bed.

I hope you're having a fun summer!!!