Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hawk In The House

A few weeks ago a neighbor a couple of houses over was looking for a new rooster they had rescued from a friend who could no longer keep him. We did not see the rooster but we had seen a hawk flying around the neighborhood. I'd also noticed a few separate piles of feathers out in the pond area, possibly from the hawk feeding on sparrows and doves. We never did find the rooster.

Usually the hawk isn't very visible. We'll hear a cry and he can be seen soaring way up in the sky or sometimes we'll just be able to locate a general area where he might be in a big tree top.

Yesterday we heard a commotion in the garage. When we opened the door we found the hawk flying against one of the windows. Unfortunately I wasn't quick enough to get a really close picture of him but I was able to snap this just as he flew out the garage door.

The cat's food is in the garage and when I'm home I leave the garage door open. So we end up feeding all the neighborhood cats and the sparrows that are bold enough to come in. We figure the hawk must have followed a sparrow into the garage and momentarily lost his bearings.


Meanwhile the sheep and cow are making me twiddle my thumbs impatiently. They are still holding out on me.

And that's all the news for today!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gray Lady Enroute

Now that I'm a bona fide gramma it's time to make a change. Not really; being a grandmother has nothing to do with this. I've been thinking for a while now about not coloring my hair anymore.

My mother went prematurely gray and I often helped her color her hair. As a teenager I always thought "I'll never color my hair!" Well guess what! As I approached my thirties, I started finding more and more gray hairs on my head. I don't know the exact age I started coloring my hair on a regular basis, but it was definitely before I turned thirty. So much for never coloring my hair.

The most irritating thing about it is I started turning gray before my two older sisters. Of us all, I'm the grayest, then comes the middle sister, and my oldest sister is the least gray. My younger brother has just started becoming noticeably gray and he's just five years younger than I. That just doesn't seem right.

My hair grows pretty fast. So if this experiment doesn't work out, I'll be okay. It's been to the point where I had to color no less than once every four weeks, and even then the roots were really starting to show. It has now been about eight weeks since my last coloring. It looks a little spooky right now. The plan is to let it grow out just a tad more, then get my hair cut very short, hopefully cutting all the colored part off. My idea is that maybe I'll look as good as the "mature" models on the Prevention magazine covers. If it doesn't turn out as I hoped, I will definitely go back to coloring.

The other day I went to Albertson's for a few things. Albertson's is one of those stores where you can get a "preferred customer" card and after swiping it you allegedly can get a discount on some items. They also use the card to track your purchases and give coupons accordingly. I guess they noticed I hadn't bought any hair color recently so they gave me a coupon for $3.00 off "root touch-up". Sheesh!

Coupon for root touch-up. Are they trying to tell me something?

We'll see what happens...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

This And That

I'll post a little something now since I'm not sure I'll be able to tomorrow. Tomorrow will be my first day babysitting and it's going to start with an early rising. She has her first appointment with the pediatrician at 8:15. Since her mom had her by c-section I'll have to go along to help with the "heavy lifting".

I may have panicked about the sheep a little early, but at least I got some things done. I got their barn all cleaned out and new straw laid down. I have a plan on how to divide the stalls in case more than one ewe lambs at the same time. Okay, I am ready for them.

It looks like Ladysmith may beat the sheep. Her back end is getting very puffy and that's a good sign that she'll be having her baby soon. I've been letting her out at night so in case she calves she can choose her own comfortable spot to have it. Her udder hasn't filled yet, but I've noticed on her that it seems to be a very last minute thing. Meanwhile I just keep an eye on her degree of puffiness.

I made a new mosaic stepping stone and I'm a lot happier with this one. I do see a little thing I should have done a little differently but it's no big deal. I really enjoy doing this stuff. I think I'm hooked! I wonder if I can talk Vicki into going with me to a class in Italy?

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Have a great Thanksgiving holiday and try not to eat too much!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Crab & Shrimp Dip

I got this Crab & Shrimp Dip recipe from my husband's family. It's great for holidays and special occasions. I've brought it to parties and it's always a big hit. That is, if you're not allergic to shell fish! It may be too late for tomorrow's Thanksgiving gorging unless you hurry and do it right now, but you can always save the recipe and try it for December's festivities.

The ingredients are: 6 oz. cream cheese; 1 C mayonaise; 1/4 C chopped celery; 5-6 chopped green onions; 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup; 1 envelope Knox gelatin; 1 can shrimp; 1 can crab.

Mix mayo and cream cheese. It helps if you let the cream cheese sit out and become soft first.

Add the celery and onion. 1/4 C celery was just a little less than one stalk.

Dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 C cold water.

Heat soup over low heat (do not add milk or water).

Stir in gelatin and cheese mixture.

Then stir in crab and shrimp. Always check the crab for little pieces of shell first!

Pour mixture into a mold or just put it in a bowl. Let it set up in the fridge for a while. Serve with crackers and enjoy. (We like to use club crackers, wheat thins, and/or triscuits.)

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mosaic Class

This weekend I went to Oakland, the country's fourth most dangerous city, to take a mosaic class. I went with my friend Vicki. We've been on a few adventures together already.

We left Friday morning because Vicki wanted to visit the Oakland Museum of California and they closed at 5 pm. We got there with a few hours to spare. As we went into the first hall the person behind the desk stopped us and said we had to leave our "back packs" at the counter. We were a bit confused because we didn't have back packs, we were carrying purses. When we turned to show her she then said never mind, just make sure to hold the purses back so they wouldn't hit anything. I thought that was a bit odd because neither one of our purses was very big to begin with. Never mind, though. We started into the first area and began to enjoy the old paintings and art.

Then a guy with a back pack passed us on his way out of the museum. So how come he got to bring his back pack in and we got hassled at the desk? Never mind, though. We carried on. It was kind of dim in there so I put my purse on a glass case to change my glasses. Some lady came whipping out of the shadows to tell me to remove my purse from the case. SORRY!!!! Who was that lady? I don't know. She wasn't dressed like a museum employee and didn't have any official badge or anything that identified her. In fact she never identified herself to me at all. That whole experienced pretty much soured me on the Oakland Museum.

We meandered through the exhibits and tried to enjoy everything. Unfortunately many of the more famous older paintings were missing from the walls and the explanation was that they were being prepared for another exhibit which would be opening in December. There were also many exhibits with no information at all. It would have been nice, in my humble opinion, if I knew exactly what it was I was looking at. At least what year the "artifact" came from? Never mind, though. Vicki didn't get to see all the things she wanted to but at least we got to see some stuff.

Then we had to find our way to the hotel. I'll tell you this right now. I'm very glad I don't live in Oakland. It's a terrible town to try and find your way around. There were many twisting streets that suddenly turned into one way streets. There were stop signs that didn't make sense and it seemed around every other corner were on ramps to a freeway. Nothing was gradual; it was all of a sudden! Never mind, though. We finally found the hotel and got settled. We had a nice room looking out over the water (tidal basin).

The view from our hotel room balcony (day time).
The view at night.
The next morning we found the Institute of Mosaic Art, where we would be taking our class. It was a bright purple building with mosaics done all over the outside. It was quite a contrast to the dreary, decaying neighborhood. The class we were taking was called Exterior and Garden Applications. Even though I've already done some mosaics I was hoping to pick up a few handy hints and tips. I was not disappointed. Naturally, the first thing I found out was to never use wood as a base for an outdoor project. Oh well.

The Institute of Mosaic Art.

The first day we listened to a few hours of lecture by the instructor, Naomi Craig, and then we started our project. We were to make a mosaic stepping stone to place in the garden. Of course I drew a total blank on what design to make and ended up making a sun that looked like a mutant poinsettia. The second day was all about grouting and making color choices. Then we grouted our projects. I've always found that grouting makes everything come together and look better. My mutant sun poinsettia looked a little better. Everybody's projects looked really great by the time the class was done. I was excited to get home and get started on something--anything, using my newly learned techniques.

Our class with instructor Naomi Craig in the green shirt.

It wasn't until we got home and I was getting ready for bed that I realized I'd left my pillow in the hotel. I can't usually sleep on hotel pillows so I always bring my pillow with me. I called the hotel and fortunately they found my pillow and will be sending it home to me. And now it's time to go to my home improvement store and get some new tools!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Baby Here!

Yesterday morning Carli called me and told me to stay near the phone. She was having what is normally called a "bloody show". She called Marcus and he was on his way home from the coast. Marcus called around 2:30 pm and said they were in the hospital. After I picked Wil up from school we went to see them.

Carli had an oxygen mask on because the baby seemed to be stressing a little. When they first got there the baby's heart rate was a little low. While Wil and I were there the nurse came in and said the baby's heart rate was better and took the oxygen off. Then because Carli was 80% effaced but only dialated 1 centimeter the nurse hooked her up to ocitocin. My poor baby! Wil and I left at 4:30 and Marcus had strict instructions to call when the doctor got there. He was expected to be there around 6 pm they thought.

I had the volunteer class at 6 but when I told Kim what was happening she said I could take off. My husband and I went to the hospital around 8 pm. Carli had the oxygen mask back on because the baby's heart rate was up again. The ocitocin drip had been removed. The doctor, who was at another hospital doing a few c-sections, decided that with the baby's stress they were going to do a c-section.

Waiting for the doctor to show up.
While we waited in the waiting room Marcus's side of the family started coming in. I believe there were nine of them all together. Then we had a little surprise when our next door neighbors showed up too. Everybody was anxiously awaiting the arrival of Carli's baby. At 10 pm the nurses took her and Marcus into the operating room and started getting everything ready. The doctor didn't actually show up at our hospital until after Carli was in the operating room.

New baby!
Cutting the cord.
Finally just after 11 pm the baby was brought into the nursery. Marcus was with her. I had given him my camera so he could take a few pictures. At this point I'm still not sure what the baby's name is going to be. She was born just before 11 pm and was 17 inches long and weighed 6 pounds and 8 ounces. Remember her original due date was December 8 and just last week got pushed to November 28. The main thing is she is healthy and beautiful.

She's so cute! She's going to be a good baby too. She only cried when she got a shot.
Her fans. This is only half of them.
The timing in this case could have been a little better. Carli was supposed to have a final exam today and I'm about ready to leave for Oakland with my friend Vicki for a mosaic class. Oh well. She can make up the exam and this weekend Carli has Marcus's family to be with her. I'll get plenty of the baby after next week!

Have a good weekend everybody!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Garden Update

The garden is doing quite well right now. It hasn't hurt that the temperature has been in the upper 70's for quite some time. We have had a few losses of one each red and green cabbage and about four lettuce heads to gophers. And we also have a few bug eaten leaves, but nothing too terrible. Eventually (maybe next week?) I'll get out there to weed it a little.

The broccoli is looking good.

The cabbage looks fantastic.
The beans are climbing nicely.
We can't even keep up with the lettuce!
The beets have been thinned and are starting to form their red bulbs.
Even the Siberian tomato that I had my doubts about have fruit. It's not red yet, but it's looking promising!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Beginner Welding

I can now add "welding" to my resume. Friday my husband showed me how to turn the machine on and how to get started. My first welds were far from pretty but they held. The more I did it, the better the welds looked. This is definitely one of those things where practice makes perfect. I'm not perfect yet by any stretch of the imagination, but I can tell I will not hesitate to do this again. In fact this week I may do a little more "fixing up" around the cow pens, now that the sheep pens are done.

Me in my welding gear!
The machine we have is a little Lincoln welder, a wire feed. I know it uses gas (I don't know what kind--it comes in a big, heavy cylinder) and a copper wire spool. I ran out of wire and had to run to the welding supply store to get more and I figured out how to put the new wire on. I've been told that this welder can also weld without the gas but then you need to put a different kind of wire on. Supposedly the gas allows one to make a more asthetically pleasing weld, a "pretty" weld as it were, but I'm really not at that stage at this point. I'm just happy the welds I made are holding.

My first welds. Notice all the "strings".

In the summer of 2006 our local Harbor Freight Tools had one of their many sales and I'm glad I had the foresight at the time to pick up an auto-darkening welding helmet. I have no idea how it works, but what happens is you can see through the little window and when you start welding it automatically turns dark so you don't harm your eyes. Other welding helmets are already dark and it makes it difficult (for me at least) to see when you start the weld.

One of my later welds. Still not perfect but much better than the first.
Carli and Marcus came over Saturday as I was finishing the sheep pens. Marcus finished the last gate for me. We all agreed that the pens look so much better now, less shabby, more professional. Okay, I'll say it. They don't look so "Okie" now.

One of Marcus's welds. This is what it's supposed to look like!
I actually had fun doing it. If I were to give another new welder any advice I'd say: wear sturdy clothes; jeans, not shorts, a long-sleeved shirt (both to prevent little burns from the flying sparks), and absolutely invest in the auto-darkening helmet.

The pens look much better now.
It's amazing how empowering it is to learn a new skill!

Friday, November 9, 2007

I Have Homework

A week ago Thursday was my first class for volunteers at Hoffman Hospice. Besides myself, there were about 3 or 4 other ladies there that were going to class in hopes of becoming pet therapy volunteers. Their dogs had not yet taken any of the required tests, so they were there to get started on their training. There were also a couple of other ladies that were just going to be regular volunteers.

We were each given a thick binder titled "In-Home Volunteer Training". We skimmed through the first three chapters and watched a couple of videos. I was not prepared for the emotions that came bubbling up in me. Everything reminded me of when my own parents died, when my husband's dad passed away, his uncle, and even my oldest sister's husband and my brother's mother in law, but especially my mom because I was deeply involved in that situation. For three hours I was fighting the tears and constantly wiping at the corners of my eyes. I noticed a few of the other women seemed to be in the same situation, but not as bad as myself. Whew! I vowed to be a little more steeled for the next class.

Our volunteer handbook.

Before we left that night we were instructed to read the first three chapters and do the worksheet at the end of those chapters. What? Homework? I HATE homework! That sobered me up.

Look how thick it is.

I didn't open the binder until Monday. Partly a great avoidance technique I'm particularly good at, and partly because we were gone over the weekend. I figured if I do one chapter a day, I'll have it done by Thursday. I also employed a sneaky method I'd figured out from my school days. Usually questions at the end of the chapter come in order that the answers appear in the chapter. So I read the first question and read the chapter until I found the answer. It works pretty well.

Homework page at the end of each chapter.
Last night was my second night. Good thing I did my homework because Kim, the volunteer coordinator and our instructor, collected everybody's papers!! We had two new people. I think they had started before but weren't able to finish at that time. We also lost all the other pet therapy people. One lady's dogs didn't pass the temperament testing. (They will be able to retest later if the owner wants to try again.) The other ladies realized it was going to be more involved than they thought and decided to pass on the volunteering for now. In all honesty, I can't say I blame them. I've mentioned before how I'm not much of a "people person" and this whole going to visit the dying people thing really scares me. Not because they are dying but because I'm not a very good conversationalist, particularly with people I don't know. If it weren't for Gus I probably wouldn't do it either.

Kim suggested everyone start a journal, just to write down thoughts, feelings, etc. I wonder if this blog counts? But one thing I won't be able to do here is write about specifics of when I start visiting. That is due to confidentiality laws of course. Also I don't think I want to share my deepest, darkest secrets with the whole world. But I do know that just from doing this little blog as I have been it's been fun and therapeutic in a strange way. How odd that I have trouble talking to people face-to-face, yet I can gab away in print.

Okay, I have to do two chapters before next week's class, that means I can do one chapter Wednesday, the next chapter Thursday morning...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Good Gopher

WARNING: This post may contain material some people may find unsuitable or offensive due to graphic images.

For those of you who are against trapping of animals, or those of you who may be squeemish about seeing pictures of dead animals, please stop now.

You all know by now of my intense dislike for gophers. This year they seem to be even more pervasive than ever. They must have been gettin' busy this year because it seems there are more around than ever. And not only that but they have become repellent resistive. What used to once work with miraculous results now only shows mediocre effects. Where once I could put a trap (or two) down a gopher hole and the next morning expect to triumphantly pull a dead gopher out I now am often met with days of frustration with an empty trap.

So on the now rare occasion when I do snare a gopher it is cause for celebration. In these short two weeks past we have lost one green cabbage, one red cabbage, and three lettuce heads!

I don't like to see anything suffer, but if it means protecting my yard and garden then it's for the good.

This gopher was caught Friday morning.
It looks like he didn't die right away, unfortunately.

And like I said, I don't like to see anything suffer, even if it's a gopher.

But as far as I'm concerned, a DEAD gopher is a GOOD gopher.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Cambria Weekend, II

Saturday morning was another beautiful day. I made eggs benedict for breakfast for everyone. Despite overcooking the eggs just a little bit (the yolks weren't runny enough for me) it seemed to be a hit.

The guys went to work on a flagstone walkway and the girls supervised from the porch. After a while though, we decided to go shopping in town and pick up lunch to bring back. My main objective was to go to a shop that sells unusual crystals you can hang in your window or where ever. It was to replace one that had been stolen from our garden last year. Only this one wasn't going in the garden.

While we were at the shop I noticed a case that had bell necklaces. I love bells so I had to try each one out. They were all labeled, "Grandmother Bell", "Daughter Bell", "Sister Bell", and so on and they each had a different design and a different tinkle. As it turns out I liked the "Nestled Hearts Bell".

The bells weren't really inexpensive, so I chose a more common, less expensive crystal, and got the bell necklace. I knew if I had waited to tell my husband about it he would have asked me why didn't I just get it? Then it would have been gone by the next time we came back. So I got it and when we got back I showed him what he bought me! We also passed a yarn shop and I picked up some colorful balls of yarn that were on sale. Guess what? Another baby blanket in progress!

On the way back we stopped at a little Mexican roach coach. We got a couple of burritos and tacos al pastor to split with the guys when we got home. We didn't want to eat too much because we had a great dinner planned. The guys were done and cleaned up when we got home and the lunch was delicious.

In the afternoon we went for a walk on the boardwalk by the beach.

We saw a few seals and lots of birds; gulls and cormorants.

And a crow who posed reluctantly for me.

And then there were the obnoxious ground squirrels everywhere. I stopped to snap a photo and it ran right up to us begging for handouts. I guess some people think they are cute and give them food, but as a hobby farmer I see them as a disease ridden rodent pest.

That evening we had a terrific dinner of bbq rib eye steaks, my garlic mashed potatoes (I'll do the recipe here one of these days), and Caesar salad. Afterwards we ate a few chocolate confections we had picked up on our shopping expedition and played Sequence.

The next morning the fog had rolled in and the sun was nowhere to be seen. We hung around for a little and then took off for home. We got about 20 miles away from the coast and the sun was back. On the way I took a picture of Heart Hill. You can see how it got that name. Next time I won't be in such a hurry and I'll move to a better vantage point.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cambria Weekend, I

This weekend we went with our friends to their cottage in Cambria. It was nice to get away from town for a couple of days.

Friday afternoon and Saturday you couldn't have asked for better weather. It was in the 70's with a tiny bit of a breeze. On Friday we went to a local restaurant down the street and had appetizers for dinner. That was fun and yummy.

The view from the front porch.
A little visitor to the potted plant on the porch.
Of course you have to have the seaside sunset photo.
These are termites coming out of a stump on the vacant lot next door. This happened right at dusk. So we got a can of Raid and took care of them!

I'll post a couple more pictures tomorrow, including our walk on the beach boardwalk.