Monday, August 11, 2014

The California Kids

For the first time ever, grandsons Kestrel (7) and Cedrus (5) stayed with us without their parents for a couple days before their parents joined them. The kids did great. Their mom had separation anxiety. But she and Steve finally got to spend a little time together without the kids. It was good for them both. And fun for the rest of us!

The kids had a great time entertaining Grandma and Grandpa. They danced to Michael Jackson songs, played the guitar (Kestrel) and piano (Cedrus), drove the EZ Go, ate more home-made goat milk ice cream and drank more home-made apple cider than their parents would probably have allowed.

Here the kids rate Grandma's mint chocolate chip ice cream. It rated two thumbs up plus toes!

Before they arrived at our farm, however, they had flown from their home in California to Seattle, where they spent time with friends and with cousin Ian and his parents, then ridden the train to Portland, where they spent a couple days doing city things. Grandpa drove to Portland to meet them on Thursday, July 31, and spent a few hours playing before bringing them back to the farm on Amtrak, leaving the car for Steve and Munazza. Grandpa rode the sky train (called a tram, I'm told) with them in Portland, adding to the number of different means of travel the kids experienced this trip.

Munazza packed lots of food for the train trip to Salem. Here is Cedrus on Grandpa's lap on the train.

And Kestrel, enjoying his mom's berry torte!

 At last they arrived in Salem, where Grandma was waiting.

Then into yet another conveyance... Grandpa's big van.

Always the first morning, the kids and Grandpa make popcorn waffles. Later, they made watermelon lemonade and other variations that they dreamed up.

With a sheet over the window to provide appropriate darkness for a performance, Kestrel and Cedrus danced... and danced... and danced. Where do they get all that energy?

 Kestrel played guitar and Cedrus played the piano. Impressive!

And, of course, they drove the EZ Go. At first, the steering was a bit unsteady, but after practicing in the horse pasture (while Grandma picked yarrow flowers to dry for Christmas wreaths), they grew to be quite competent drivers.

One chore Grandma had for them was breaking a new trail. Grandpa had put two logs across the little creek as the beginning of a foot bridge, but they led into nothing but deep brush! We clipped out a trail.

We got lost in the woods a few times before we had the trail going where we wanted it to go. Then Kestrel and Cedrus showed Grandpa the new trail.

On Saturday afternoon, the parents arrived, just in time to go to an outdoor performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Grandma told them the story beforehand. The kids loved it. (I figure it's never too young to start kids appreciating Shakespeare. We took Ian to one of these outdoor plays when he was younger, too.) We sat on blankets with our friends J.P. and Monica and ate a picnic supper before the play began. At intermission, we hiked around the vineyard where the play took place.

Also at intermission, Kestrel and Cedrus were selected to draw a ticket out of the raffle jar to see who won a bottle of vintage wine. So they were "on stage", too!

On Sunday, the kids showed off their EZ Go driving skills for their parents and took them on the new trail they had helped create. Of course, there was berry picking, bean picking and watching water striders and newts in the pond.

Then we all spent the hot afternoon in the cool house, watching a DVD of a hip hop dance recital that both boys had been in. Lots of cool moves!

On Monday, Munazza and I went off to do Qi Gong with friends. Hopefully, it will help Munazza's neck problems. In the afternoon, we all cooled off by playing in the creek. Steve caught crawdads.

Cedrus "made dirt" while the rest of us skipped (or tried to skip) rocks.

That evening we had a picnic on the cement slab in front of the shop... in a barbecue rather than on a campfire because of the high fire danger with all the hot, dry weather. It was still fun and tasty.

On Tuesday, we all canoed across the Salmon River to a beach where Johnny and I did the beached bird survey and the others played in the sand. It is a very long beach but the kids had no problem hiking it. Here they are way off in the distance coming toward me, where I waited, across from Three Rocks, after finishing the return leg of my survey.

The canoe trip back to Knight Park was easy. We held our paddles up to catch the wind and sailed our way along, as Munazza is doing here.

After supper, as usual at the Thai restaurant in Lincoln City, we headed home. The next day the kids said goodbye to all the animals (plus ate popsicles they made with Grandpa out of  apple cider, blackberry juice and popcorn. Yes, popcorn.).

Shirley loved the kids and was sad when they climbed into the van and left.

At the airport, Cedrus looked a little sad, too.

So long, kids, until next time!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


We are now enjoying a brief intermission between house guests. Well, actually, we're working frantically to catch up and get ready for the next crew. Six loads of dirty clothes so far... The garden is waiting to be watered but it is *so* hot out there. Therefore, this blog entry.

The day after Jeff left, our good friends the Inmans stopped in for a few hours after Hazel's roller skating practice in Portland. It was great fun to catch up on their news, hear Kinnera sing and play the piano. What a lovely voice she has. Hazel is now in Nebraska at the National Roller Skating Championships where she is dance skating with a partner plus solo skating. Only the best qualify for Nationals so Hazel and Tim's 5th place out of 11 entries in their division yesterday was wonderful. Of course, they would have preferred to win. Hazel's solo competitions begin in a couple of days.

Since then I've been picking and freezing peas and beans, trying, but failing, to keep up with the zucchini, mowing fields and pulling tansy. And taking bird survey breaks, of course. The coast has been having lovely, fog-free weather, at least 20 degrees cooler than inland (where we are having 90 plus degree weather, which is way too hot for me).

Last Friday's trip to Cape Kiwanda and Road's End was one of those picture perfect days at the beach. We did not find any signs that BLOY are nesting at Cape Kiwanda but we did see whales... lots of them... heading north around the cape. Johnny even managed to get a few shots of tails and breaches.

A whale's back

A whale's tail

I missed catching whales on camera. The water between me and the Rock is where we saw them. The boat coming by is one of the many dory fishing boats that launch from Cape Kiwanda.

Pigeon Guillemots were easier to photograph than whales.

So were these wind-twisted tree skeletons.

After lunch at the Mexican restaurant in Pacific City, we headed for Road's End. The BLOY chick at the North nest rock was cooperative about posing with both parents. The chick's bill looks short because you can't see the black end very well. It will turn all red eventually... by next summer.

Chick between two adults

Chick on the left of the adults

But before I arrived at my Observation Post, I took photos of Johnny on his.

Johnny is on top of The Thumb if you look closely

Here he is zoomed in
And a scenic view of Cascade Head visible partway to my Observation Point.

Meanwhile, back on The Thumb... It took Johnny a long time to notice that two of the gray rocks on the big gray Middle Rock were actually Black Oystercatchers. He took this photo through the scope. You can see why he didn't notice them at first!

Even zoomed in close and cropped, they are nearly invisible.

Thanks to Ian teaching me to use Paint, I can circle the sleeping birds. Well, sort of circle them.

Later, these birds flew off and did not come back, so we assume they lost their chick... maybe to a young Peregrine Falcon that was doing maneuvers with a family of ravens this day.

More hopeful and intriguing was Johnny's notice of a single adult BLOY on the South nest rock, where we had not seen the pair for weeks and assumed their nest had failed. This BLOY flew off to forage and then return to the same spot and disappear behind a cleft in the rock. It did this over and over. Was it feeding chicks? We would have to wait for the next trip to find out.

For now it was dinner at the Thai restaurant and home... then more picking and freezing produce, mowing fields, taking goat kids to market, making ice cream and custard with goat milk. Johnny meanwhile, was doing his own catch up of neglected projects around the farm.

On Tuesday we headed for Road's End again in hopes of solving the South Rock puzzle. As I stood watching one adult at the North rock holding stock still, a Peregrine, likely the same juvenile Peregrine as had tussled with ravens last Friday, made many flights over the North Rock... and me.

Single BLOY on North Rock in watchful position, unmoving.

 No chick was going to appear with that predator close by, so I gave up and joined Johnny.

My view of the South and Middle Rocks from my North OP

The view of those rocks from atop The Thumb after joining Johnny

Happily, Johnny had seen the South rock adult take some yellowish morsel in its bill, probably a piece of a mussel, to the cleft, disappear, and reappear a minute later with the yellow thing gone. So there's at least one chick at the South Rock being fed. Hooray!

South Rock adult facing the cleft in the rock where a chick may be lurking
This time after our hike, we ate at the Nepalese restaurant in Lincoln City. I love their Mango smoothies. The food is good, too!

Today is hot again. I cleared the trail to the river (cooler in the woods), worked on my monthly goat paper column, and spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to herd a chipmunk out of the house. It gets into my potted plants and digs holes, spreading dirt everywhere. I have a lot of potted plants up here. And now a lot of dirt everywhere. How it is getting into the house, I have no idea. I finally trapped it on the staircase and shushed it out the staircase landing window. From there it ran along the window ledge and climbed down a vine. Eventually. It certainly did not want to leave and kept trying to dart past me at the top of the stairs. Brazen little thing.

Tomorrow 5 and 7 year old grandsons arrive and I would really like to have the chipmunk outside where chipmunks belong. And I'd like all the dirt in my flower pots, after I get it back into my flower pots, to stay there.

We've had an intermission from human house guests, but not from excitement on the farm.