Thursday, April 19, 2018

Johnny is home!

Johnny is home and had a wonderful time and arrived home in much better shape than when he left. The Prednisone, Methotrexate, and Qi Gong all seem to be contributing to his healing. He took photos as I had requested, but he did not bring back the warm, sunny California weather I asked for. Or maybe it just took a few days to arrive as the days, at least, are drier now.

No rain in California while Johnny visited. The first day he attended a school project where the kids in Kestrel's class posed as characters from the Revolutionary War era in a "Living History Museum". Here is Kestrel, as Anthony Wayne, giving his spiel to one of the visiting parents. I had never heard of Anthony Wayne and wasn't there to hear Kestrel, so I looked him up in Wikipedia. "Wayne adopted a military career at the outset of the American Revolutionary War, where his military exploits and fiery personality quickly earned him promotion to brigadier general and the sobriquet Mad Anthony." The students were stationed around the room, in costume, and had each memorized their character's story. What a great way to teach kids American history!

Back home, Cedrus demonstrated his electric drum set for Johnny. He now plays both keyboard and drums. When he has those earphones on, only he can hear the drumming. Kestrel still plays guitar and is now taking singing lessons, as is Munazza... a musical family.

The next day they all left for Wonder Valley resort where the Qi Gong retreat was to take place. Johnny and Steve and the kids stayed for the first week, then returned while Munazza stayed for the whole two week retreat. While they were all there, they stayed in a "cottage" that was huge: 4 bedrooms, two bathrooms, a big living room and this kitchen. [Correction: Steve tells me their, um, cottage had 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms.]

Steve and Munazza's bedroom...

Johnny's bedroom...

Kestrel and Cedrus' sleeping nooks... well, not really. They were just empty cabinets in the kitchen that looked inviting...

Here was their actual bedroom...

The retreat had healthy food including any kind of milk you might desire...

And always fruit and veggies. Nearly everything was gluten-free.

Johnny and the kids spent their days trekking back and forth between the meal site and the trampoline area while Steve and Munazza did Qi Gong.

The meal site is visible across the pond here. The weather was lovely so they ate outside the dining room much of the time.

Evenings, Johnny and the kids joined in for the healing sessions. Johnny reported that his knees worked better after each healing session as he walked back to the cottage.

On the last day that Johnny, Steve and the kids were there, the kids invited all the retreat participants to a 15 minute exhibition they had worked up on the trampoline and outside of it, dancing. Here the boys perform while Munazza videotapes.
Here is a piece of the trampoline action:

This is one of the dance portions. From the reports of the audience, the boys were spectacular. And the kids had so much fun they are already working on a performance for next November's retreat!

Johnny said he did passive trampolining. The kids bounce... giving their Grandpa a lift.

Here they are in action on youtube:

Between eating and bouncing, some time was also spent walking the lovely grounds. Here they found a turtle at the edge of a lake.

After all the guys were back home, Cedrus made a dessert he had read about and wanted to make. He cut up strawberries and apples and rolled them in a pastry dough.

 ... and baked them in the oven. Cedrus is quite a chef and loves to cook. Johnny reports that the dumplings were very tasty.

The boys take several different dance classes. Johnny sat in on some to watch. Their favorite is "House", which is mostly fancy footwork and what the kids, I think, mostly performed at the retreat.

Each person gets a chance to do their specialty in the center of the group. Here is Cedrus...

 And Kestrel...

This dancer had a leg in a cast so she sat on a chair to do her thing!

 Just before Johnny left, Kestrel made delicious lemonade from the lemons on the tree in their front yard. I know it was delicious because Johnny brought me home a bottle of it!

And here is Grandpa just before leaving, having had a spectacular time.

And at the train station...

Naturally, they had to give the pose they learned in New Zealand...

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Happy, Wet, Windy Day

So far, the wild storm we were supposed to get today, April 7th, is mostly just wet. It's a good excuse to stay indoors and make ice cream and custard... and identify animals on Zooniverse! I started a new project there a few days ago but had to give it up because the videos were not clear enough on my computer to tell what things were. It's a good project, identifying what animals in the Peruvian Amazon are ingesting oil from the many oil spills in the jungle. The indigenous people living there are trying to save the jungle and animals they depend on. They need documentation that this project will provide.

But I found another project I can see okay, Canid Camera, and I know the animals! It's in a forest in New York and I lived in New York and know the eastern animals pretty well. But I'm still doing Numbat Discovery, too, the Western Australia project. And today when I went back to it from the Canid Camera (love the name), a Numbat was waiting for me! Researchers can identify individual Numbats by their stripes. Here is the whole sequence of video frames I'm given, starting with the first uncropped frame. Isn't it a beautiful little creature?

Now you get to see it up close, with all those lovely stripes that are unique to that individual, or so I understand... I'll have to go back to my photos of the others I have seen on Numbat Discovery and see if I can tell them apart... and if they *are* different individuals.

While I'm playing on the computer, Johnny is in California, enjoying sunshine and the grandkids at Wonder Valley Resort. Steve and Munazza are attending a Qi Gong retreat there. Johnny is the nanny for the kids while their parents are in the sessions. Or maybe Kestrel and Cedrus are Grandpa's caregivers! Munazza sent me this photo on their first day there.

Besides Zooniverse, I made custard and ice cream, since we are in a swimming-in-milk phase. I planned to make cheese but Johnny broke my cheese thermometer awhile back and I had neglected to buy a new one. So I ordered one yesterday. Eager to make Mozzarella again!

The next day, Sunday, was wet and windy here, too, so I had more fun on Zooniverse. Finally saw a good video capture of a Tammar Wallaby, with the white line from eye to mouth. This one also has a tattered ear. Will be interesting to see if this particular tattered-ear Wallaby appears again.

And now it's Wednesday, with Monday spent at the coast doing my beached bird survey... in beautiful, dry weather. Too many beached (dead) birds for my liking but also some lovely patterns in the sand, thanks to the high waves from the weekend's storm.

All the beached birds I found were in the Petrel family, either Northern Fulmars or Sooty Shearwaters, seabirds no doubt caught in the weekend storm. Through these surveys, COASST, the sponsoring group, maintains a baseline for what is "normal" on each beach for each month of the year. When there is an abnormal number of beached birds, they look for the causes. If an oil spill or other human-caused die-off occurs, they can prove it. A few years go there was a die-off caused by "The Blob", a patch of unusually warm water that hung around off the coast for several years and caused massive starvation of Cassin's Auklets, who couldn't find their usual food supply. Johnny and I were surveying a different beach during that die-off and got very tired of counting and tagging little blue-footed auklets.

Tuesday was feed and errand day in town. Today, Wednesday, it is raining steadily again so I am writing this blog, making more hummingbird nectar... and more ice cream. You can never have too much ice cream. And I am identifying more critters for Zooniverse. In other words, I'm avoiding housework.

Johnny is still in California, enjoying warm weather and a leisure life, spent mostly, it sounds like, walking back and forth to the dining hall and watching Kestrel and Cedrus bounce on a trampoline. Hopefully, there will be photos to post when he returns. And, maybe, he will bring some of that warm, dry, California weather back with him.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

No Foolin'! Happy Easter!

April 1st and Easter Sunday coincided this year. Maybe that's why a giant Easter bunny left us giant eggs. Or maybe they are dinosaur eggs?

A week and a half earlier, a goat "hatched" twins, the day after the Spring Equinox. It has to be spring when baby goats start arriving. I expected Golden Day to have gold colored kids, but she had black ones instead. The doeling has tiny white dots all over her. The buckling has white stockings. I'll get better photos eventually.

Our spring-like weather turned a little chilly today, but the primroses don't care.

And my one and only Camellia is beginning to bloom...

The horse wagon is still in bloom, although this photo is from last week...

Yesterday was a busy day under sunny skies. First we unloaded 24 50# sacks of horse hay cubes into the horse barn loft. Johnny drove the tractor; I handled the bags. With no rain for nearly a week, the ground had dried enough to get over there without making a mess.

It was also dry enough to drag tree limbs into the goat field without tearing up the ground. The power company had cut down a dead tree in our driveway that would have fallen on their lines eventually. At our request, they cut it into hunks and left them and the branches along the side of the driveway. We have been hauling out the hunks as weather permits. Yesterday, with me on the choker cables and Johnny on the tractor, we hauled the tree limbs into the goat field for the goats to nibble on. It took several loads.

The goats headed for the pile as soon as they saw the tractor coming.

We moved the last of the big hunks of trunk into the woodshed yesterday, too. I roll them into the tractor bucket and Johnny drives them to the woodshed and dumps them in the empty bay, to be split and stacked eventually.

A few days earlier, on another sunny day, I took a break from farm work and hiked down into the woods. I saw my first butterfly of the year, a Satyr Comma, on a fern.

Lots of various kinds of Cardamine were blooming. I call them all Spring Queens.

The wood violets were just beginning...

Today, Easter Sunday (and April Fool's Day), Johnny was able to go to a Sunrise Service, even climbing the stairs into bleachers. He is greatly improved from his apparent Rheumatoid Arthritis flare-up. Fortunately rain waited until after the service to begin. And even let me get the lawn mowed without getting very wet.

The rains are due to continue this week. That's okay with me. The horse feed is unloaded, the tree out of the driveway and the lawn is mowed. Let the April showers begin.