Sunday, October 28, 2012

my first Bald Eagle and Taylor Creek

This past week was like a jigsaw puzzle because I had all of the pieces of our days fitting precisely into their places without much wiggle room.  If one piece didn't fit I had to set it aside, find a place where it fit or just say "no" to it.   Not my favorite way to operate but sometimes the way it is.  It was our last week of soccer games and soccer practices.  We had soccer parties and field trips and home school co-op and the Halloween parties and more apple picking.  I tried to stay calm and not hurry through it.  It's always a very conscious choice on my part.

On Friday I scheduled a field trip up to Tahoe at Taylor Creek to see the Kokanee salmon run.  We had to wake up really early for the drive up there and I wasn't really looking forward to that but it all turned out really well.  After a long drive and some crankiness (from me), we made it there.  Who hates being late and landing yourself in traffic?  Not this mama, even if it's one of the most beautiful places on earth.

So, I was late of course to our scheduled tour time.  Only by a few minutes but the ranger and our friends were waiting for us.  I apologized and took a deep breath.

This salmon species was introduced into Lake Tahoe in 1944 and are the landlocked cousins of the seagoing sockeye salmon.  They quickly adapted to the alpine environment and now spawn every year on Taylor Creek with the help of humans. I say with the help of humans because the creek has to be artificially flooded from the dam at Fallen Leaf Lake for this to occur and there is a breeding program that supplements the stock.  You can see above the spawning pairs hovering over their redds to protect them. 

There are lots of dead salmon in the river.   When we left I asked the kids what they learned and Eli said, "I learned about the cycle of life."   These salmon spawn and die in the same spot where they began their life.  When they enter the lake as silvers they circle the lake clockwise until they are genetically predisposed to return to the creek.  This can happen when they are 2, 3 or 4 years old.

Ranger Jean was awesome.  At the end of our tour she told the kids that she really enjoys her job.

The cherry on the top of this day was the Bald Eagle we saw while eating lunch after our tour.  It was the first one I have ever seen in the wild.  Although Amelia has seen them in Florida.

Pretty cool.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

apples and clay

I changed my blog around a bit. I felt like I really needed it in order to feel inspired.  What I like about this format is that I can really see my pictures from the last few years in minutes.  I may not keep it this way but for now the change feels good, you know?  Have you ever just sat for an hour going down memory lane on your blog?  You can also view my blog in other ways by using the tabs on the top left of the homepage.

So, what have we been up to lately?  Two words could sum it all up. Apples and clay.  Or if I wanted to expand on that a bit it would include tomatoes and daily art.  Oh yeah and soccer and homeschooling too. I've been busy in a good way.  Just like every fall is for me, trying to wrap up the garden and starting a new school year can be chaos.

Our tomatoes.  They were abundant this year.  I've spent many a day roasting tomatoes two trays at a time, cooking them down, seasoning and canning them.  It's become second nature to me, this canning thing.  Two days ago, when the weather started turning, I pulled the rest of the tomatoes and our last volunteer cantaloupe in anticipation of our first frost which never happened.  But, it will soon.  We got our first snow in the mountains.

Oh, my apples.  Our trees were so full this summer that we had to prop them up so the branches wouldn't break off.  The lack of late frost was a bonanza this year all around town.  We have Pippin and Jonathan apples in our yard but these red beauties, came from a 75 year old tree in town.  The owner said that they probably didn't taste that good because the tree was so old and we could pick them.  They are the most crispy, sweet apples and a nice change from what we have coming out of our ears already.  Why is it that  I can go crazy over more apples when I have ten bags sitting all over the kitchen?  It's totally irrational but I think we'll be enjoying apple crisp for dinner this winter.  We will be gorging on apple sauce and apple rings like nobody's business too.  Joy.

 Daily art.  We've discovered the big, heavy weight paper is the best for everyday art.  First, it can be taken anywhere and the pencils won't poke through.  Second, it's big enough to draw large dragons, ninjas or castles.  Eli asked the other day to bring out the fermented pickles so he could draw them.  The two boys drew the jar of pickles (while Amelia was reading of course) and then ate them.

We've been tinkering with clay lately.  It's strange how we know certain things about ourselves.  For instance, I knew from a young age that when I grew up I wanted to drive a VW Bug.  I did and I also married a guy who drove a VW bug.  Funny how that is.  Well, I've also known that I wanted to work with clay.  A few years ago someone just gave us an old kiln.  I didn't even tell them how much I loved hand thrown ceramics.  My husband just recently got some work done on the kiln and we did a test run.  I'm so excited.

  Happy Fall to you and yours!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


My daughter turned 14 today.

I crawled in bed with her this morning while she slept and tried to imagine her as a baby.  I stared at her almost adult face and sent my love to her.  When she was first born,  I would crawl in bed with her and stare at her for hours (when she was my only child and I had that luxury!), even though I should have slept myself.  But, I couldn't stop staring at my first child.  My heart had burst open with love.

I still feel that intense love for her even though she's a teen and I can tell she's pulling away from me a bit. Her and I are connected so strongly and  I am GRATEFUL

So grateful.

Happy Birthday Amelia!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

the hunters

When I started raising chickens a few years back, I had no idea how much I would get attached to them.  I'm pretty hooked on chickens.

They never stop amusing us.  Like last weekend we were at the kitchen table processing a gazillion apples and I noticed one of the chickens running around with something in its mouth.

Well, evidently, one of them had caught and killed a mouse and was playing keep away with the other girls.  Then they just stopped and stared at the mouse in the grass for a while....

until one of them decided to take off with the mouse in her mouth.  These girls crack me up.

note:  I'm sorry to all who may have been offended by this post (I changed the title too).  I guess I wanted to show you a little of what it's like to raise chickens and possibly my point should have been that chickens are definitely not just herbivores.  I had never actually seen my chickens catch mice although I've heard that chickens did.  I'm just always surprised by them and they really are very amusing.  Sorry also to the mouse.  Sorry little guy.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

This girl loves to read

This girl loves to read in bed, in the hammock, on the couch and anywhere she can steal an hour or two.  It's kind of a running joke in our house about this addiction of hers.  She can immerse herself so deeply into a book that she's able to completely block out everything around her (the boys wrestling on the couch where she's reading, Legos being flung around her head or my requests for dish duty).  This is not at all a concern for me however.  I know it's a gift.  Rock on Amelia!