Archive | May, 2008

Widdle Beebees!

31 May

My parents live in the Sierra Nevada mountains at around 7,000 feet above sea level.  It is high desert.  Desolute and rugged and beautiful.  They love it there.  Ravens also love it there.  My parents went for a hike near their house recently and found this:

Raven Nest

A Raven’s Nest with widdle beebee Wavens in it!

Do you see those cute, little, bald, blind heads begging for food?  My mother said the noises emanating out of those little mouths was rather amazing.  Sort of a higher pitched “kronk.”  One of the parents was nearby shredding a squirrel into bits.  They didn’t want to get too close — which is why the image is blurry, they were at the full extent of their zoom — but couldn’t leave without taking a picture or ten.

When they got home, my mom called me full of the news.  I’ve never seen baby ravens.  By the time, Mom and Dad are bringing them to the playground at school, they pretty much look like Ravens.  I so wish I lived less than 5 hours away and had the leisure time to head up there and observe the ravens for a couple of weeks.


When I am Queen, Dilly Dilly!

30 May

Remember this hole in my cabinet?

Cabinet doors installed

(not to mention this adorable picture!) Gosh, look at how sweet that is and look at how ugly that floor is! Shudder!

Do you remember why it is there?
Our original electric cooktop had a push button control panel on the front of the cabinet — brilliant, eh? When we moved into our house, this boy

Gage and Ruby in a quiet moment

looked like this


And, yes, he was every bit as cute-trouble as he looked! Therefore, having buttons that turned on the stove at easy access to an 18 month old was not a good thing. So, we replaced the stove and ignored the hole. (Hey, the whole kitchen was ugly — why worry about a little thing like a hole in the cabinet!)

Remember the tile we bought to hide it?

Tile is better than I hoped!

Remember how we were going to install it safely so it didn’t fall and break and I didn’t have to stand there and hold it for hours on end?

No? Neither did I! Luckily, my husband is smarter and more creative about this stuff than I am and he had a plan!

Lavander Tile being installed

Isn’t that clever? He propped it up on wood. The wood was held in place by the doors. Brilliant! The man is a genius!

Lavendar Tile installed

How beautiful is that? I love it!

Lavendar Tile installed

Why I love it so much!

Lavander in my yard

When we bought our house — lo those many years ago that I have now invoked twice in one post — the front yard was what I fondly called “The Deer Salad Bar.” The deer loved it — I did not. I’m sorry but if you live in deer country, you can’t plant roses and expect them to survive. The deer loooooove them. So, I systematically tore it all out and planted lavender. I love lavender. The deer do not. So, I have lots of it. The bees love it. The birds love it. The deer — who used to come right up on my porch to nosh on my plants now stay away. Hurrah! And, that is why I love the lavender tile, so much. Lavender just works for me.

The one that got away . . .

29 May

The other morning, Ruby was barking like mad at something in the backyard. I went to the backdoor to see what it was. She ran out the dog door and over to a tree. I couldn’t see a squirrel in the tree anywhere and then, suddenly, my vision focused and I realized what I did see. There was a Great Blue Heron in the tree. Gulp.

I ran for my camera but by the time I got back . . . gone.

I couldn’t really be irritated with Ruby — that’s a pretty big bird to be hanging in the yard. Still, pretty cool backyard bird, huh?

I have gotten pics of Great Blues before though . . . here’s one from Elkhorn Slough. Or rather three from Elkhorn Slough!

Great Blue Herons on the Slough
(It’s way better large . . . go ahead and click on it so you can see!)

Wordless Wednesday — The Fog

28 May

Seagulls at Albion River

Dock at Albion River

Ruby Tuesday — The Kitchen Designer Edition

27 May

Kitchen Floor

It is important, when designing one’s kitchen, to consider whether or not one’s floor exactly matches the color of one’s muzzle.

Memoir Monday: Daddy

26 May

Dad in Air Force flight suit

My father died in 1976 when I was 12 years old. I have felt his loss everyday since that day. My father was in the Air Force. For me, this meant that we moved a lot and also that he wasn’t around a lot of the time. My parents divorced when I was in 3rd grade. After that, there were new reasons that I didn’t see him — we moved, he moved. Life is complicated.

My sister and I spent 9 months living with my dad and his new wife the year before he died. I’m so grateful for that time. My few memories of my father are from that time. My life has been colored by the loss of my father although I was (am) blessed with a wonderful stepfather. Still, thinking about my father leaves me jumping into huge piles of “what if.”

Daddy and Me

Memoir Mondays is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

Kitchen Floor!

25 May

Kitchen Floor

The last step in the kitchen remodel is to cover up The World’s Ugliest Floor ™.  There is something particularly satisfying in the fact that the new floor is going right over that gawdawful ugly floor.  Or maybe it’s just my laziness showing — we didn’t have to rip it all out!  Hurrah!  Greg was able to borrow some of the equipment from his uncle (a contractor) but no major home project is complete unless you have to buy some sort of equipment, right?  So, we now have an amazing new saw!

Kitchen Floor

I’m proud to say that I have made cuts on this saw — Aren’t you impressed?  Most importantly, however, the new floor is utterly beautiful!  It is strand bamboo from Lumber Liquidators.  It comes prefinished and is absolutely gorgeous.  It feels like satin underfoot.  The color is rich and makes the green cabinets look even more beautiful!  I LOVE it!  It’s not done yet — we’ll be using the same wood to do the toe kicks — but you can get a feel for it now.

Kitchen Floor

Now, of course, I really have to get to work and put all the kitchen stuff away.  Happy happy joy joy!

My Mountains are Burning

24 May

Santa Cruz Mountains Fire Originally uploaded by michael cinque

Thankfully, I and mine are safe. No worries about us.

Thursday morning, on the radio, there was a comment in the traffic report about a fire at the Summit near Hwy 17 that was about 700 acres. No where near me and nothing to worry about. Later in the day, however, one of my fellow teachers had the news on and it was clearly worse — 2000 acres burned and 0% containment. It was windy and that was scary. The only good news for me was that the wind was blowing away from our town. Later Thursday night, I drove down to Santa Cruz. I heard on the news that a nearby school district (where I taught summer school for two years) was closing all their schools on Friday due to the smoke. I could see nearby Loma Prieta (a mountain and the epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake) — it was pretty much where the fire started and it looked like a volcano with smoke roiling out of the top of it. Thankfully, I stayed out of the smoke. On the news Thursday night, they said it was 3200 acres and 10% contained.

Friday, we woke up wondering what the day would bring. At school, before 9:00, I had to escort a student to the office (don’t ask!) and it was insanely smokey. Looked like the picture above but instead of looking across a few miles, I was looking at our surrounding mountains. After the 3 minute walk, I had to use my asthma inhalers. We were worried. Thankfully, for us, the wind shifted again and our air cleared up. We could see the smoke and smell it for the rest of the day but it wasn’t thick in the air, thank goodness.

The fire continues to grow despite huge efforts by fire fighters. Lots of property and homes lost. The news I read this morning say it was probably caused by someone burning debris and leaving it still smoldering. In other words, it was caused by stupidity.

More Information:


23 May

Beach wood

Soft sand and beach glass
Old timbers embedded, entombed
A finger points Home

All content written by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2008, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License

Bird Report from Albion Trip

22 May

Location: Albion River Campground
Observation date: 5/18/08
Number of species: 16

Canada Goose – Branta canadensis
Mallard – Anas platyrhynchos
Common Merganser – Mergus merganser
Pelagic Cormorant – Phalacrocorax pelagicus LIFER
Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Black Oystercatcher – Haematopus bachmani LIFER
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Steller’s Jay – Cyanocitta stelleri
Common Raven – Corvus corax
Tree Swallow – Tachycineta bicolor
Barn Swallow – Hirundo rustica
American Robin – Turdus migratorius
House Sparrow – Passer domesticus

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2 (

The cut and dried report above doesn’t tell the whole story. Somehow, just a list of birds can’t really convey the experience. The Albion River — where we camped — is a river that dumps into the Pacific Ocean. It is influenced by the tides. We found it to be still salty nearly 5 miles up river. It is utterly beautiful and filled with amazing wildlife. Thankfully, it is remote. We drove for 6 hours to get there. (Of course, all of you should just stay away! If you are reading this . . . don’t go there! Nothing to see! Move along!)

Bald Eagle
Okay, well, you might see this but otherwise just move along!

Early Saturday morning, I got up to walk Ruby. My sister-in-law’s boyfriend said he’d seen some Canada Geese with babies at the river so we walked that way. Didn’t see them but we did some an Osprey flying around. My pictures didn’t turn out but I have clear and crisp memories of the Osprey wheeling around the harbor and landing in a tree on the cliff on the other side of the river. Back at camp, we were talking and getting ready to start the day. “Look! A Bald Eagle,” my step-father called out! I could see the white of his head from the ground. Amazing.

This Osprey was just toying with us — he didn’t intend to dive at anything

Later at the beach with the kids, this Osprey — probably the same one from earlier — buzzed us.

Before lunch, the abalone divers were back and Bob (aforementioned sister-in-law’s boyfriend) took us on a cruise up the river on his boat. Wow! The scenery was spectacular. There were so many fantastic things to see. But, the Ospreys really stole the day. Especially this one who was enjoying his lunch on a branch, low over the river. We cut the motor and drifted in to him. He didn’t like it but he liked his flounder lunch more. The river trip was the highlight for us. Amazing birds and mammals. It was truly lovely!

Osprey with Flounder
Go away! You are too close to my lunch!

Osprey with Floudner
Forget it! I’m eating anyway!

Barn Swallow
Barn Swallow posing so prettily

Canada Geese Family
Family Portrait!

And some mammals:

Seals at Seal Rock
Uh! Hello?

Seal at Seal Rock
Excuse us?

Mergansers and Seals
We see you!

Hauling up on Seal Rock
Hauling out of the water!

Canada Geese Family
Heading home as the fog rolls in!