Monday, January 27, 2014

2013 Photos by the Month

January... Black Oystercatchers in wild surf

February... Wood Duck in John Neal Park

March... Trillium

April... a pair of Scaup at Talking Waters Garden

May... Johnny at Cape Lookout

June... Peacock tail feathers

July... Johnny and Ian on bikes

August... Our Japanese and California kids together (photo by Munazza)

September... Great Blue Heron

October... Arboretum Maple

November... the wreath project

December... Varied Thrush

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Birding with Dawn

You would think, after five days away from the farm with all my catching-up duties, that I would stay home, rest up and catch up. I did for two days. Then Dawn emailed, saying, "Want to go birding tomorrow?" Of course, I said yes.

The day started slowly with no White-tailed Kites visible at their usual Tyee Road location. But things quickly speeded up. We found two kites at Shenk Wetlands, harassing a Red-tailed Hawk that was apparently invading their territory. Too far for pictures, so we drove on... and soon saw a Bald Eagle atop a snag next to the road.

 Next up was a lovely Rough-legged Hawk that I managed a photo of in flight, with all the diagnostic field marks visible... at least after I zoomed it up.

 To give a little justification for the trip, I stopped at the feed store for feed. You know, the one that is close to Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge so I always have to go there, too. That's where we found the Bird of the Day: a Prairie Falcon, a life bird for Dawn. Always quick with the camera, she managed to get a shot of the bird after it lit way off in the distance. I stole this photo from her. Thanks, Dawn Villaescusa!

The only other bird photo I got was of a group of American Wigeon, posing (dimly) with front, back and side views.

Of course, I had to photograph beautiful Mt. Jefferson, visible from most everywhere we went on this sunny day.

On the way home, the Tyee Road kites were back on site and a third kite was over the field at the corner of Grand Ronde Rd. and Hebo Rd., just one mile from the farm. Any day I see a White-tailed Kite (or a Dipper or a Black Oystercatcher) is a good day.

Dawn dutifully kept track of all the birds we saw on our jaunt: fifty species, she tells me. A great day with a good friend. I'm glad she took me away from my duties. Work will always be here... Prairie Falcons rarely.

Cedrus Birthday Trip, Part 2

On Saturday, midway through my visit, after our paddle boating, island hiking, rock climbing and picnicking adventures, we hiked another mile (or so it seemed) to the Botanical Gardens. The Golden Gate Park is a huge place. First stop was at the bizarre New Zealand Christmas Tree.

Naturally, I wanted a photo of the foursome to show how big this tree is.

We then wandered through the Redwood Grove, which provided many more opportunities for photos of cute grandkids.

Munazza, Cedrus and Kestrel showed how big this tree was.

Not too much was blooming in the Botanical Garden in January, but these red succulents were.

Next day, Sunday, we were scheduled to come back into San Francisco for an evening performance of Seussical the Musical, a Cedrus bday gift. So, theoretically, we would rest up that day. Cedrus' idea of resting up entails lots of dancing. Kestrel's involves bike riding. They both did both.

Cedrus posing in his Michael Jackson outfit before dancing to Billie Jean
Steve on skates riding herd on the boys on the way to the neighborhood school's playground

Cedrus learning to ride the two-wheeler with his Dad providing (mostly psychological) help.

Cedrus on his own! Now Kestrel needs a new bike.

While Cedrus rode the bike, Kestrel swung from bar to bar all the way along this long, high, monkey bar apparatus.

Eventually, we went home for lunch and naps (and more dancing) before supper and leaving for Seussical the Musical, where I did not get any photos. The kids loved the musical. We arrived home very late and slept in the next morning... a little later than usual. That was Martin Luther King day so the kids had no school.

This was my last day before leaving on the plane that evening, so there were more hikes they wanted to take me on. We went to a big park nearby with lots of hiking trails. They had hiked one trail last summer where Kestrel fell in the creek. We went there, but because of the severe drought, there was no water in the creek. We hiked down the middle of it.

Steve demonstrates how my hair got gray, watching our kids and Johnny do crazy things. 
 Kestrel did not attempt this log, fortunately, but he did climb other scary ones. I did not take a photo because I was too busy hoping he would not fall. Instead, I took photos of cute grandkids when they were not risking life and limb.

Cedrus practicing on a Cedrus sized log.

Redwood trees tend to sprout baby trees all around their base. Here the parent tree is gone but the youngsters remain. Our California family posed for me inside the circle of Redwoods.

Home to eat again. (We did a lot of eating of delicious Steve and Munazza created meals). And to watch Cedrus perform Michael Jackson's Working Man song in the new outfit his Auntie Fudge had brought to Seussical the Musical. I did not get a still photo of him but captured this frame from the video I took of him dancing. Too cute!

  A package had awaited our return from the park: a birthday gift from cousin Ian. Kestrel and Cedrus had great fun putting together glider planes and flying them, then playing with the robotic, go-anywhere vehicle from Ian. It really did go anywhere... over rocks, plants, through water.

And then it was time for me to leave for the airport. What a fun birthday extended weekend!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cedrus 5th Birthday

Early on Thursday, Jan. 16, I drove to the airport and flew to California for grandson Cedrus' 5th birthday on the 17th. It was a lovely day: the coastal mountains and ocean beyond were visible the entire trip. But it was shocking to see those mountains, in January, with virtually no snow. Only the highest peaks of the Trinity Alps in California, above tree line, had a dusting of snow. California is in emergency drought conditions and it looks like Oregon is not far behind.

From the airport we went straight to Kestrel's 1st grade classroom where the kids were involved in writing stories, playing phonics games, and other fun (and educational) activities. After school, we came home for supper before the boys had music lessons: Kestrel on guitar, Cedrus on keyboard. Kestrel played for me before we left for the lessons, and also finger-knitted. Cedrus danced to Michael Jackson songs. Cedrus is always dancing.

It was impressive to hear Kestrel, 6, playing the guitar after only beginning in August and Cedrus, 4, playing keyboard after beginning lessons a few months later. Both boys already read music plus can pick out tunes by ear.

The next day, Friday, was Cedrus' birthday. In the morning we went to his Montessori preschool for a birthday celebration. In the afternoon, we brought Kestrel home from school early so he could join the  birthday party at home. While Cedrus, his mom and I planted the flower bulbs that were my gift to Cedrus, Kestrel and his dad created a scavenger hunt of clues that led to the family's gifts.

Steve (Dad) took photos of where the next clue was hidden and printed the tiny pictures. Kestrel hung them all over the house. Cedrus had to figure out where each photo had been taken and race there to find the next "clue".

The clues led to the kids' bedroom where the gifts were hidden under his bed.

Dad and Mom each got a big thank you hug.

On Saturday, Cedrus had requested that we all go to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and do all the things he had done with Grandpa on Grandpa's last visit. So we did.

First was paddle boating.

The sign said don't feed the birds, but this American Coot knew that people fed them anyway. It followed our boat for a long time, hopefully.

So did this Western Gull.
Everyone had a chance to pedal paddle. Kestrel and Cedrus took turns steering.

Here Munazza and Kestrel pedal while Cedrus steers.

We sailed through this lovely bridge.
After paddle boating, we hiked up to the top of Strawberry Hill, the island in the middle of the paddle boating lake. It is a gathering place for all kinds of butterflies.

We did not see butterflies this time, but Johnny said there were lots up there when he was there.

The trees were interesting and the views from on top beautiful in every direction.

Downtown San Francisco in the distance

San Francisco zoomed up

 But the view was not why the kids wanted to reach the top. The goal was the big rocks where they had played with Grandpa. The game consisted of Grandpa and their Dad chasing them. I let their Dad do the honors. I took photos.

Other kids joined the fun.

Kestrel, Cedrus, Steve and Munazza posed for me

Eventually, we headed down for a picnic lunch and a hike to the Botanical Garden. On the way down, Kestrel took giant steps (with Dad's help) across a pond at the base of a waterfall.

A Squirrel took a drink a few feet away but paid the humans no attention.

Meanwhile, Cedrus took giant steps on the giant "pavers".

The next installment will be the Botanical Garden plus our adventures on the last two days of my visit.