Archive | August, 2008

Proof that the Ravens are picking on ME!

28 Aug

or  . . . it’s all about ME!

Saw this NY Times article on Crows at Behind the Bins . . . . {click}

Given my history of Ravens flying off just as my camera focuses on them, I have long suspected that it’s a personal thing.  For some reason, the Ravens don’t like me.  I think it’s so they can laugh at me behind my back.  But maybe I’m a bit paranoid!

Walking Ravens

Okay, enough silliness.  I’m sure that these very smart birds aren’t deliberately hiding from my camera — after all, I have gotten some great shots.  However, I do think that the few times I’ve chased them away from the garbage cans at school can’t have helped my case.  🙂


It’s all just Ducky!

24 Aug


School starts tomorrow.  Am I ready?  Nope.  Will I be ready?  One way or another.  That’s life.  I know there will be an adjustment period for me as I swing back into teaching.  It’s one of those overwhelming jobs that will dominate your life if you let it.  I’m already trying hard not to let it.  I’m trying hard by trying not to take work home with me every single day.  I’m trying hard by making sure that those times when work MUST come home with me that I am scheduling it and letting Greg know about it so that we can plan on it and not have things interfere.  I’m trying hard by trying to take care of myself a little bit.  Yesterday, I went and had a manicure and pedicure and got my hair cut.

My husband said, “Wow.  Those 4th graders are going to be really impressed by your pretty nails.”  I shook my head sadly at him and said, “Honey.  It’s not for the kids . . . it’s for their MOTHERS!”  He doesn’t get the “impress the parents” thing — of course, he wouldn’t be impressed by that so that MIGHT be part of it!  🙂

So, if I’m not around much — please understand that my focus is elsewhere for a little while.  If I am around, then please be very impressed at how under control I am!  🙂 Have a good week, everyone!

Giant Sequoias are big trees

21 Aug

Greg and kids struggling with futility

This one is actually a pretty small one.  You couldn’t cut a hole in it to drive a car through, after all.  Still, Greg is nearly 6ft tall if that gives you perspective.  Do you see any branches on it –no?  That’s because they are another 20-30 feet above the picture.  They truly are GIANT trees!  Here is a great resource with loads of information about these impressive trees as well as other trees that are bigger, taller, wider, older, etc. than the trees you are used to seeing around you.  [click]  It is amazing to me — especially as I prepare to teach 4th grade which means learning about California — that California has the most massive trees (Giant Sequoias), the tallest trees (Coastal Redwoods — my backyard trees! 🙂 ), the oldest trees (Bristlecone Pine), and the largest community-based organisms (Aspen Groves).  Anyway . . . we have cool birds too, so come visit!

The Unkindness of Ravens and Other Bird Stories

20 Aug

So, imagine a meadow.  It’s high in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  Imagine that it is set below the road and it’s a big meadow.  We’re seeing it late in the season so there aren’t many flowers in the meadow.  Standing above the grass in many places is skunk cabbage.  Imagine this peaceful, quiet meadow.

Imagine you are driving up to the meadow, staring out at it as it goes by in a kind of “we’ve been driving all day looking at beautiful things” stupor.  Imagine that you suddenly realize that you are looking at ravens out in that meadow.  Lots of ravens more than 25 ravens but less than 50 ravens.  Still, lots and lots of ravens.

Imagine that you sit bolt upright shrieking at your husband, “BACK UP!  BACK UP!  BACK UP!”  and as you fumble for the camera and he fumbles to back up, you watch the ravens lift off the meadow because they just heard a car slam into reverse while a crazy person screaming out it’s open window.  Imagine that because there is no photo of that moment.

Later in the trip, imagine you are in a boat, cruising around a beautiful lake.  Imagine that you see a bird flying overhead.  It’s a big bird, a very big bird.  A very, very big bird flying overhead with a white head.  And white tail feathers.  Imagine your camera is at the other end of the boat.  You call out, “Look a Bald Eagle.”  Everyone watches it fly over you.  No one takes a picture.

Imagine that about an hour later, you stop at a quiet spot on the lake to let everyone swim.  Imagine that you see a big bird flying through the trees. Imagine that you can see that this is a very big bird as well.  Imagine that you can see that it does not have a white head or tail.  Imagine that it’s a juvenile Bald Eagle.  Imagine that everyone with you is thrilled but no one takes a picture.

Imagine on your drive home, you have your camera sitting next to you on the passenger seat as you drive behind your motorhome (long story, no worries).  Imagine that you are driving through ranch lands.  No trees, slightly rolling hills covered in dry, yellow grass.  Imagine that you see something on a fence post ahead.

As you get closer, imagine how big it looks.  Silly really sitting on a fence post.  Imagine it is brown and huge.  Bigger than a hawk.  Big.  Imagine as you get close, it turns its head towards you and you see it’s enormous beak.  It’s an eagle.  A big brown eagle.  A Golden Eagle.  Imagine you consider slamming the breaks on and deleting pictures of kids tubing as quickly as possible to get at least one amazing shot of a Golden Eagle sitting on a too small fence post.  Imagine that you know it will never work that stopping will scare the bird away and you’d never navigate the camera controls fast enough anyway.

Imagine you watch it in your rearview mirror as you drive by and watch it realize the fence post is ridiculously small.  Imagine that you see it lift off and fly out of view.  Imagine how long it takes it to disappear from sight as it flies away from you driving away from it.  Imagine how big that bird was.

So, I saw some cool birds on my trip but none of them let me take pictures of them.  The only bird picture I got was a fuzzy sparrow by a mountain stream.  I’m not posting it.  So, they say a picture’s worth a thousand words.  Well, I’ve only got the words.  Enjoy.

Sequoia Highlights

19 Aug

Sequoia Highlights

Such a great trip.  We started by picking up Ruthie from my folks.  She had a great time but it was so nice to see her again.  Then we drove up to Sequoia National Park.  There really aren’t words to describe how BIG the famous Giant Sequoias are.  I live everyday with the tallest trees in the world.  But the Giant Sequoias are the most massive trees in the world.  They are phenomenally huge.  There is a tree in Sequoia called the General Sherman.  There is a branch on that tree that is bigger than any tree east of the Mississippi.  One branch on a huge tree.  They are breathtaking.  Everytime you see one, you are surprised anew.

We also drove around the adjacent Sequoia National Forest and Kings Canyon National Park.  We stumbled upon a small pack station/riding stable deep in the woods of Sequoia National Forest.  We went back the next day and did an hour ride — what a treat.  The people who ran the stable are wonderful and the horses were so well cared for.  I rode a Clydesdale named Lady.  What a treat.  She was a huge and very sweet girl.  She pulls a sleigh for them in the winter.

While driving around that area, we came across the Buck Rock Lookout.  It is high in the Sierras perched high atop a rock that overlooks Kings Canyon National Park.  You can walk up the stairs and go to the Lookout.  YOU can . . . I will not, thank you very much!

After four days in Sequoia, we headed down into the Central Valley to meet up with friends at Lake Hensley.  Sequoia is very remote and there is no cell phone service there.  Once we reached civilization (in the form of Fresno!), my cell phone went nuts.  Turns out that the drought in California has turned Lake Hensley from a delightful camping/fishing spot to a hell hole.  The ranger called our friends and told them that we shouldn’t come — the lake was at 7% of capacity and they had not potable water there . . . oh, and the bathrooms were closed too.  So, our friends did some major internet/phone searches and found us another campground the same day we needed it.  Amazing.  So, we ended up in Oakhurst, California.  It’s the town at the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park.  Great spot.  Friday, we drove into Yosemite Valley and had a picnic along the river underneath El Capitan — a famous climbing mountain.  Very, very cool.  There were climbers on the mountain.  It was amazing — even zoomed in as close as I could with my camera, the hikers were teeny-tiny on the side of that huge hunk of granite.

Saturday, we spent the day on Bass Lake.  It’s a small man-made lake near Oakhurst.  Absolutely beautiful spot.  We rented a boat and inner tube.  Great day!  And, way cooler on the water and especially in the water.

We drove home early on Sunday.  Getting a nice long shower felt soooooooo good.  Camping is fun but being in cool fog is my idea of the perfect temperature!

We’re home!

18 Aug

Millers in Sequoia

Our vacation was wonderful!  We had a great time!  I’m so glad we’re home now even though real life starts today.  School starts in one week and I’ve got a whoooooooole lot to do to get ready!  Wheeeeeee!  Details of trip will follow!

Wordless — uh — Thursday?

14 Aug

Sequoia Mule Deer

Mule Deer, Tharp’s Log trail, Sequoia National Park

We’re alive and well.  We’ve left Sequoia now and are in Oakhurst — at the southern gate to Yosemite.  More details to come.

Wordless Wednesday — Sense of Humor

13 Aug

Amusing Signs

My kids call their grandfather, Bumpa . . . and he has a great sense of humor!

And we’re off . . .

10 Aug

FMC on Hwy 41

So, we’re heading out today.  Of course there were snafus in getting ready — there always are, aren’t there?  This one involved being unable to get the motorhome to start.  Kind of a deal breaker.  A camping trip should involve an actual TRIP, don’t you think?  Anyway, our friend Scott came to the rescue and it turned out that the chain from the cruise control was wrapped around the throttle and holding it wide open . . . okay.  Didn’t know that sort of thing was possible but it’s better now.  You can see our route here.  Normally I’m an enthusiastic camper but the combination of heat (90+ during the day) and missing the Olympics has rendered me less than enthusiastic.  I know it will be fun.  Now, to go roust the boys so we can get moving.

Oh, Ruby won’t be coming camping this time.  It’s hot and there will be days when we are off all day doing things like boating so she’s spending the week with Greg’s Mom.  She’s already gotten a lizard and my mother-in-law is looking forward to Ruby’s serving notice on the gophers that are ravaging her garden.  It’s a win-win situation.  Besides, my mother-in-law adores Ruby and spoils her rotten!

Have a great week!

Moved to tears

8 Aug

As a teacher, as a mother, not much moves me more than stories about kids in danger, kids doing heroic things, kids rising above, kids showing us the hope and promise of the future.

So, is it a surprise that this scene and this little boy — looking even littler given who he walks with — moved me to tears as I watched the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics?  Not hardly.

This little boy was a victim of the earthquakes in China.  He was trapped in his classroom.  20 of his 30 classmates died.  He managed to free himself and then set to helping rescuers to free more of his classmates.  When asked why he did it, he said that he was a class leader so he had to help.


What an amazing kid.

I love the Olympics.  I sit and cheer and cry and allow myself wonder and amazement at the accomplishments of the athletes.  I love their stories and I admire them so much.  So, I can’t believe that somehow we managed to book our camping trip for one of the weeks of the Olympics.  Poor, poor timing.  Sigh.

We’re off for a week of camping — a last hurrah before school starts.