Friday, August 7, 2015

Grandkid Days in Photos

Ian arrived first. We nabbed him from his parents at the Devonwood Horse Show in July where his mom's beautiful mare, Elfenlady was showing. Here she is in front of the judge's stand, before entering the ring.

Ian had a week at the farm helping with chores, cooking, monitoring Black Oystercatchers at the beach, and playing in the creek, or what's left of it...

Naturally, serving as chauffeur of the EZ Go was part of his "job".


We all holed up indoors to watch movies on the very hot afternoons. Then he and Johnny rode the Amtrak to California and spent a couple days with that branch of the family.

new solar panels being examined by the boys (all 4 of them)

back yard stage where Kestrel and Cedrus have performances

Johnny, Ian (13), Kestrel (8), and Cedrus (6) then rode the train back up to Oregon... leaving San Jose four hours late because of an accident on the tracks... and arriving in Salem 4 hours late on the hottest day of the year. Steve and Munazza drove up arriving the next evening. We had four straight days of over 100 degree temperatures while they were here. Crazy weather.

waiting for the train...

the cousins on the train
At last the train arrived in Salem to a waiting Grandma (me)

The next morning we measured heights as we always do. Johnny had to stand on a chair to measure Ian. He towers over both of us now.

We played the ever popular Twister. I was eliminated early and then served as official photographer.

The boys counted the rings in our fallen snag's stump. They put toothpicks every ten rings.

And grazed on peas and cucumbers in Grandma's garden.

One of the over-100 days we spent at the coast, where it was a bit foggy and cool. Nice.

Rock climbing was fun...

Johnny took a photo of me, the photographer.

Kestrel and Cedrus braved the waves...

Ian was more interested in digging in the sand. Soon, the rest of the boys joined him.

Ian and Cedrus buried in the sand
The next day was Ian's last day before leaving by train to go home. We went to the water park that is part of the Air Museum in McMinnville. None of us had cameras in the pools so no photos there. The boys went down water slides. I waited for them at the bottom. We all played in the wave pool and the whirlpool... and some of us (mostly me) soaked in the hot pool.

From there we headed to Stoller Vineyards for a rendezvous with Munazza, who had skipped the water park, and a picnic before the Shakespeare in the Park performance of Taming of the Shrew. It was much cooler that day and pleasant to be outdoors watching some excellent performers. I don't know how much of it the boys understood but they seemed to enjoy it anyway.

Early the next morning, Monday, Johnny took Ian to the train in Salem for his homeward journey. When Johnny returned, they all went to pick up Munazza and visit the Bed & Breakfast where she stayed nights, to give herself some needed alone time. It sounds like a good place to have some of our company stay to give everyone some space and our limited water supply, in dry summers like this one, a rest. When they returned, Munazza and I went to my regular Monday morning Qi Gong class. It was a great energy boost after a late night on Sunday at the play... and early morning for me getting Ian and Johnny up and out to the train station.

That afternoon, their last day here, we hiked to the creek.   Well, most went by EZ Go through the arboretum to the start of the path to the creek. Munazza and Steve hiked.

Johnny built a rock tower at the creek while the other boys played. Then he took a nap right under it, on the hard rocks. Steve decorated him with wings or something.

Shirley joined the party

Back up by the house, Johnny lit one of his Swedish Candles to cook eggs on. This one made of pine burned much faster than the oak ones he has made before. It only lasted about 1 1/2 hours. The others have lasted six hours or more.

 Munazza and Steve cooked a dish using my freshly dug colorful potatoes. How lucky we were to have Ian as a cook the first week and Steve and Munazza cooking the second week. And she is on a special diet and can't even eat most of what they fixed.

Kestrel and Cedrus chose baby pumpkins to carve their names into and see what the pumpkins look like when mature.

On Tuesday, Kestrel and Cedrus each had one last drive in the EZ Go. Then they left for Ashland that night and home the following day. 

Cedrus, the EZ Go speed demon
It was fun having them and I think they all had fun, too.

When I had told a friend earlier about Ian being so helpful and cooking for us, she said "It sounds like you won the Grandkid Lottery". We did, indeed, with all the grandkids.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Morning on the Coast

A morning on the coast in beautiful weather is a good day even when the blasted Oystercatchers don't cooperate. We drove to Cape Kiwanda today to try to find out if the BLOY were nesting on the Rock and carrying food from the cape to their chicks as they have in past years, presuming they have chicks yet. That presumption is almost certainly wrong for the pair that hangs out on the south flats. One BLOY was below us, doing nothing, for half an hour before it flew to the Rock... without food. I followed with my binoculars as long as I could, but it eventually disappeared in the waves. The Rock is a mile offshore.

But, like I said, it was a beautiful day.

 But, like I said, the Rock is a mile offshore...

The tidal flat where the BLOY was hanging out is here...

And here is the BLOY...

Try following that little black bird all the way out to that big distant rock... Then scan the rock with a scope for any sign of the disappearing bird. Give up? I did. Instead I watched a seal below me trying to position a big fish so it could be swallowed.

A fisherman friend tells me this is a Black Rockfish, also known as Seabass

Not every day on the coast is so clear, of course. When it is hot inland (as it has been most of July), it is foggy on the coast. So it was when I monitored nests at Road's End and Cascade Head last Thursday. Every once in awhile, the nest rocks came out of the fog.

Road's End

Cascade Head 073.1

And then disappeared again... There is a Black Oystercatcher in the following photo, on top of the 073.1 nest rock... right in the center of the photo. That's the guard BLOY. The nest is on the west side of that rock, totally out of view. We know because that's where the BLOY fly to and from... when we can see them.

At Short Beach, above Oceanside, far north of my other sites, the problems are more than fog and distance, although those are problems, too. The beach can only be accessed at low tide. A week ago, conditions were right and off I went.

Somewhere on that distant cliff is a BLOY nest. I knew it was there because I saw the guard BLOY fly up to a ledge, disappear, and then another reappeared in its place.

nest ledge in center of photo

 BLOY in center of photo after leaving nest

 I thought I saw a tiny spot of red on the ledge through my scope. So I took zoomed-in photos and scanned them at home on the computer. Sure enough, there was a nesting BLOY on the ledge, just left of the grassy area.

Don't believe me? Here she is, cropped and fuzzy.

She is safe from my prying eyes until the next low tide at a time of day when I can get there.

The farthest north nest I try to monitor is at Cape Meares, just beyond Short Beach. Cape Meares has been buried in fog most every day, even when the rest of the coast is clear. But last Tuesday, after I left Short Beach, it was clear, and I could see the BLOY still on her eggs. But only because I knew where to look. The north toe, where they nest, is a long way across the cove. A scope is necessary.

First, you find the little pools at the ocean end of the cove...

Then you follow the upper pool to the ridge in front of it and follow it up a short distance to a sort of level area between the two brown cliffs...

Look for nesting gulls. Look down and right from the upper gull to a boulder with two big "eyes". Well, that's what they look like to me. Your mileage may differ.

 Just to the right of that boulder is a black dot with a red smaller dot on it. That's the BLOY.

BLOY is in center of photo

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on the weather and my stamina, three of the original nests I monitor failed soon after eggs were laid. Since Black Oystercatchers may live twenty years if they make it through the first year, they do not need to reproduce themselves every year. Time will tell if the remaining two nests at Road's End, one at Cascade Head, one at Short Beach, one at Cape Meares, and who knows at Cape Kiwanda... will produce chicks and then fledglings.

But, as long as the weather on the coast is lovely, who cares?