Archive | April, 2008

Wordless Wednesday — Wisteria!

30 Apr



Ruby Tuesday – Camping Dog Eats BBQ

29 Apr

Offer a Labrador a stale Cheerio and he will be your new best friend. Not so a Rat Terrier — she is cool to new people — not rude, but cool. Ruby is all about reserve and loyalty. She will eat your stale Cheerio — have no fear — but she won’t consider the next step to lifelong devotion.

Managing a dog on a camping trip is a tricky thing. No matter how well behaved the dog, the rangers will strongly prefer that you keep your dog contained in some way. The neighbors will also prefer that your dog is contained in some way rather than rampaging around like a wild thing. There are various tools to help with the requisite containment but they all have their downsides. Leashes get tangled. Pens can be jumped out of. And, dogs confined to motorhomes can whine and whimper and cause all who hear them to think their owners are horribly mean. Besides, when you add a passel of kids into the picture, all those systems get even trickier. What to do? What to do?

Ruby in the motorhome

At home, Ruby’s natural stay-at-home-with-her-people tendencies have quickly and easily been honed such that she doesn’t bolt out the door unless given permission (most of the time — she’s not quite 2 years old, remember?). She hangs out on the porch when we’re out in the front doing things. She doesn’t bolt outside while the kids and I are loading the car in the morning for school. She’s a very good girl if we watch her and remind her what she should be doing.

I know there is no substitute for good training. Not that I’m a particularly good trainer but shaping her natural tendencies towards what I wanted from her makes it all much easier. I wanted to be able to leave the motorhome door open, tell her to wait, and know that she would do just that — wait inside and not come out without permission. We started while I was working in the kitchen of the motorhome so I could reinforce the command regularly. At first, she was out the door in seconds but gradually she got the idea and by Sunday afternoon, she was lying down inside the motorhome relaxed and calm. Everyone in camp helped by sending her back inside or saying “wait” as they walked by or in and out of the motorhome.

Ruby being so good

And, all good girls deserve rewards. A t-bone seems like an adequate reward, don’t you think? Ruby certainly thought it was worthy.

Ruby loves her some bones!

P.S.  This is my 1,201 post.  Wow.  Who knew I had so much to say?

Turkeys Prowling the Streets of Morro Bay

28 Apr

Postcard shot

Our trip to Morro Bay was marred by an unpleasant incident. Morro Bay is a sleepy little touristy town on the Central California coast. It’s utterly beautiful and very fun. Not a wild party town — just a fun, relaxing town. Or so we thought. But, as we were driving through Morro Bay, we saw three wild and crazy turkeys cruising the streets looking for love. It was really upsetting. These guys thought they could cruise around the neighborhoods looking for action. I don’t know what this world is coming to. . . .

Of course, I had to speak their language — I don’t know what came over me. In the video, the first two “gobbles” are me, calling to them. The last one is them answering me.

Happy singer

Not all the birds I saw were turkeys. I didn’t have much time for bird watching but I did find this happy singer! (Any clues what it is?)


Update: Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)

On the road again

25 Apr

FMC and Suzuki

We’re heading off on another camping trip. Just a quick one this time. Off to Morro Bay. Greg and his mom are taking the kids out of school tomorrow early and they’re heading down there with my nephews too. What a trip. I’m going to follow after school lets out for the day.

I can’t tell you all how much I’m looking forward to 3 hours in the car alone. Bliss. Sheer bliss. It’s been a hellish long week at work and we all need a break (the kids, me, my students, etc.).

Look at that gorgeous forecast — perfect temperatures!  Yay!  I can almost feel the relaxation starting!  Gonna load up my iPod and be ready for a great weekend!

Why I love my daughter

24 Apr


My daughter is funny and sassy and smart. Ooooo, she’s smart. And, she’s totally not afraid to show it and use it and be it.

She walked into my 5th grade classroom today with her little 4th grade self and said, “Why is there such easy math on the board?” A couple of my 5th graders (smarties themselves) stood their with their mouths open. I just had to laugh. She owns her smarts!

From Amby’s Math Resources

Last night, we were watching American Idol (the performances for this week on TiVO). I was dissing David Archuleta (I believe I said something to the effect that he sure can suck the life out of a song). Weeeeeeeeeell, Miss Ruth took exception because she was thinking how cool he was. She got ticked and glared at her father and I (he had agreed with my assessment). We realized our gaff and pointed out to her that it was totally normal and healthy and FINE for her to a) disagree with us about a singer on American Idol and b) to tell us that she thought we were all wrong about the very sweet, very cute, and very young Mr Archuleta. She looked me in the eye and said, “He didn’t suck the life out of that song.” That’s my girl!

(Of course, he did so suck the life out of it!)

Could it be the beginnings of hormonal crushes? Who knows. But, my girl told me I was all wrong and that’s all right!

Wordless Wednesday — Why I Can’t Live in LA

23 Apr


Literally.  Smog.  My eyes were burning.  My chest tightened up.  Driving through this was agony.

Ruby Tuesday — A Boy and his Dog

22 Apr

Ruby after gopher

Recently, we have found a number of dirt piles in our yard.  I didn’t put them there.  Greg didn’t put them there.  Neither of the kids did either.  The culprit was this charmer [click].  The oh so adorable, oh so destructive gopher.  Blech.  So, while taking a break from scrubbing down grouty tiles with acid, I suggested to Ruby that she do something about it all.  She took my advice to heart.  It was as if she’d been simply waiting for me to suggest it.

Of course, a boy — particularly an 8 year old boy — can not resist digging in any way, shape, or form but mom-sanctioned digging is of particular interest.  So, he came out.  He found a shovel.  He helped.

Gage helping Ruby with gopher problem

Do you love the look of glee on Ruby’s face?  Yup!  We’re digging up gophers!  Yeeee-haw!  As the picture below illustrates, Gage’s “help” was in no way going to endanger the gophers!  He enjoys shovels on many levels but the actual digging process with a shovel that is bigger than you are is a bit hard to manage.

Gage helping Ruby ALOT with Gopher problem

Ruby, on the other hand, was serious about it.  I wasn’t concerned that she’d catch and kill a gopher right in front of Gage.  I’m pretty sure that a pack of Rat Terriers could catch and kill a gopher or two but a single Ratty is at a real disadvantage (even when helped by an 8 year old boy).  Still, she’s got to be dissuading them front tunneling in my yard, don’t you think?  She was very, very serious about all this!

Ruby still after gopher

More kitchen progress

21 Apr

The cabinet doors are going up. As with everything on this project, it’s working but not easily! So, Greg got a supportive hug from Ruthie this afternoon! Imagine how they’ll look with the hardware too! It’s all happening!

Cabinet doors installed

One of the biggest jobs I’ve had to face is solving the problem of the haze on the tile. I tackled it today. Because we were using glass tile, we were advised to use non-sanded grout. Well, it was really difficult to clean off the tile and didn’t just wipe off the way regular grout does. I went to Home Depot (I know — I know) and got some grout de-hazer. It’s a mild acid that you wipe on and rub off.

In the process of de-hazing

Lots and lots of rubbing off. I used nylon scrubbers and a nylon bristle brush (left over from my bottle feeding days with the kids). Basically, elbow grease worked best. I started by testing it on the glass — no reaction. Then we tested it on a leftover piece of the laminate. No reaction. Then I tested a hidden corner of the grouted tile — and with a lot of scrubbing, it got the grout off. Yay! The method that worked for my situation was to rub it on a section and then work one column of tiles at a time. Then, I wipe it off with water and apply more. Sometimes I had to go back and do more scrubbing. Even after it dried sometimes the haze was still there — cheesecloth worked great for getting that last little bit off though. It was a huge job. You can see the difference above. On the left of the corner it’s de-hazed and on the right — still hazy.

Stuff for de-hazing grout

These were some of my tools in front of the dehazed tile. I only did one wall of tile — my muscles were sore and needed a rest!

So, Greg and I installed the microwave. It was a lot of work and nothing went smoothly, of course. Still, it only involved one trip to the hardware store so that’s not so bad. And, we did it without buying the $26 drillbit we thought we’d need. Phew! Isn’t it gorgeous? We inaugurated it by making popcorn for our movie tonight!

Microwave is IN!

My favorite feature so far — other than the fact that the screen scrolls with “Popcorn ready” when it’s done cooking! 🙂 — is the automatic nightlight. At 8:30pm, it goes on automatically. It’ll turn off at 1:30am (which is when Greg usually goes to bed. Of course, I’m laughing at my “artsy” night shot — I washed the burners in the dishwasher tonight and the label is still protecting that one tile until I finish with the acid wash on that side. Sheesh! Artsy, indeed!

Automatic nightlight in microwave

Welcome Spring!

20 Apr


More Wisteria is always welcome!

Birthday Geraniums

My birthday geraniums

Gerbera is planted!

The gerber daisy my sister gave me.  I planted it in the yard today and then watered it in.  Isn’t it gorgeous?

A New House Guest or two or more?

19 Apr

When we drove up to the house today, Ruth called out, “There’s a Steller’s Jay in the wisteria! Ooooo, there’s another one!” My first thought was “Uh-oh!” After all, ’tis Spring and a young jay’s mind turns to nests and eggs. We haven’t had good luck with Jays nesting in our porch before — or any bird nesting in our porch before. But, Steller’s Jays in particular struggle with nesting around our house. And, yes, there were two Steller’s Jays looking most intently at our porch.

Steller's Jay nest in progress

While I was taking the below picture of their nest, one of them flew in with a stick, saw me at the last second, and did a dramatic arial maneuver before landing across the street and squawking at me!

Steller's Jay would-be parent

The other one sat in my cherry tree and gave me the stink eye.

Steller's Jay

While I wish these beautiful, raucous birds the best of luck in their family building plans, I kind of hope they decide our porch is too busy and choose somewhere else to build. The first summer we were in the house, someone built a nest in our porch. I heard chicks peeping one day and then nothing. I’m sure some rodent — squirrel or rat got them. It’s just not a safe place plus we are in and out all the time. Steller’s Jays are certainly brassy and bold but I’d imagine they’d find our activity level annoying.

I’ll keep you posted.