Friday, August 17, 2007

The Colorado Crew in Steamboat

So here's baby Kaitlin. She loved the pool.
Kaitlin flies

Here's Karlie at the lake.

And here's Hailey.

This is the whole crew together at the top of the gondola. The girls are wearing matching shirts that I decorated with fabric paints that same morning. I had to rig up a blow dryer and blast them for 30 minutes, then finish in a slow oven to hurry that "allow 24 hours to dry." I really wanted to get those matching shirts done in time!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Steamboat Fun


First thing to do was to check out the pond. Fletcher Pond, nicknamed Fetid Pond last year when initially scouted out by Sam and Max, is really quite the winner. Can you ask for more? Full catches two years in a row? Kids catching so many fish they don't get bored?

These fish (big by our Sierra stream standards) are actually pretty tasty and easily enticed by decent bait like worms. Unfortunately, this year, worms were scarce -- WalMart froze all theirs and everyone one else had empty shelves. So the fishing trip did not start too well; the fish would have none of the fake bait.

Happily, Monty and I know the great trout secret. They cannot resist grasshoppers. So while the kids fished, Monty and I grasshoppered. Our full catch was thanks to the grasshoppers we whacked with our baseball caps in the dry weeds. Here's the one of first. Karlie couldn't quite decide between the thrill or terror of the catch.


Hailey squealed quite a bit this year, but was solidly enthusiastic. She even likes cleaning them with Pops and discussed contents of guts at our all-you-can-eat trout dinner that night. Note the scenery? Now you know why it earned that moniker, Fetid Pond. Not exactly a rocky mountain high here.

Anna giving Karlie a hand getting that bobber out there.

Karlie taking a break from reeling them in. Just too cute not to post.

See? They really were pretty good sized!


We had the biggest and bestest pool toys. No end of delight with these.



See that shark fin approaching?

Nice hot tub, too.



We've taken the gondola up the mountain each year for a bit a picnic. How do you like our babushka girls?


Gumby came, too.
And Gumby, too.


We explored a new activity this year. We rented a kayak and a canoe to get out on the nearby lake. Max and Anna shared a kayak, and Monty, Katie, Hailey, and Karlie manned the canoe. The kids lasted about 30 minutes and then went on to better stuff -- the mud. I switched places with Katie while she assumed kid patrol and the four of us paddled into a quiet little arm of the lake alive with baby ducklings and coots. It was really a lot of fun. Definitely worth doing again.

Anna and Max on the lake.

Hailey, captivated by the mud. "It's so helpful!" she repeated told Monty.

And lots of evening time to look at books. A super trip. Check out Katie's blog for more pictures.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Case of the Disappearing Deck

That's right. Our deck is disappearing before our eyes. The wood is shrinking, chipping, peeling, and rotting away. Walking on the deck is a bit like walking on a bed. We also have had a set of French doors that open to a 20" drop to the ground. The first goal is to get the framing in beneath those French doors, so on a recent "leisurely" Saturday, we did manage to get this much further.

DSC_0153 DSC_0154

This little guy kept us entertained while we did find some leisure at the end of the day.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mother's Day at the Race Track

Between trips to Michigan and Colorado, I squeezed in a quick trip to SoCal to see family in that neck of the woods and enjoy the big event, the August celebration of Mother's Day at the Del Mar Race track. The photos I took are still on my brother's camera; these will have to do. John and Cheryl were the big winners this year. I won $60 on the first race and watched tose winnings slip away on just about each subsequent race. The photos I took are on John's camera, so you will just have to imagine the beautiful grounds, colorful jockeys and horses.

John and Cheryl just completed the remodel of their new home. Beautiful green granite kitchen counters, spacious living. Take a look --both directions toward the kitchen and into the family room:



Costa Mesa is a pretty flat place, but their property is on a bit of a mesa, so the back yard is wide open to the sky -- no neighbors in sight. The large patio in such a great climate is essentially another room; we enjoyed all our meals there. I especially enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of pastries and newspapers and chat.

And I just can't resist. Here's my inspiration for Petit Blu. This is John's mini, Beach Runt. It must have been a similar August trip two years ago that I first drove this little guy.


One last shot you might enjoy. Here is the Costa Mesa house where we lived from 1974 to 1980. DSC_0143

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bike Blurb

Bicycling is a major pastime. A church parking lot close by provides tons of smooth, paved, safe practice. Heather and Sam each have new cruisers so everyone is set. Spencer cruises through the woods easily and learned to pick up enough speed to make it through some pretty sizable squishy mud puddles. But the driveway is the usual spot -- a regular peloton up the driveway, around the tight turn at the gate, back down through walkway into the yard for a little offroading around the back of the yard and past the sand box, then down to the walkway, and back down the driveway.

Here's Owen, Sam, Pops, and Spencer at the church parking lot.


Monty and Sam off to the store with Spencer and Owen in the trailers.

Another run to the store on the new cruisers. Sam said they hadn't been on a ride, just the two of them, for some ten years. It's really just been seven or eight.

Owen -- so tricky. Riding forward, facing backwards. I still play that "trick" regularly; you'd think I'd learned by now.

Spencer is amazingly adept on a bike. Depending on his mood and the circumstances, he will ride a trike, a 12", or a 16" two wheeler. On the 12" bike, he takes runs with the bike to get up some speed then flies onto the seat. Very cool to watch -- this little guy with such skill on the bike. Here he is with the 16" bike. This is one he rode through the puddles at the church parking lot.


Bikes figured fairly highly each day of our visit. Sam and Monty even got a ride in on the cruisers just the two of them.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Other interests on the Michigan front

While bikes did command most of our interest, we did do a few other things. The sand box was a powerful second interest, and walks and a bit of cooking were fun. One morning we went to the Y and all got in the pool for a splash and swim. Owen and Spencer had a blast jumping into Monty's arms. He pretended to be a catcher telling the boys to "put 'em here, put 'em here" while socking his fist into the opposite open palm. They laughed like crazy, summoned their courage, and and with a deep breath, eyes squinched jumped into his arms. Laney would have nothing to do with either of us in the pool. Without our glasses and with our hair wet and slicked back, we became foreigners.

Here are a few additional photos.

Owen cogitating the next sand box strategy.

Monty with Spencer and Owen in the sand box.

On one of many walks. One day the kids found a frog in the woods in an area that was drying out. So we all decided to take it over by the pond, "a better habitat," Spencer declared. It was a bit like that "Wild Man" show. Sam sank to his knees in the slimy pond muck and had to yank his crocs out of the sucking mud. Spencer squealed with delight as he followed Sam and became stuck, but Owen found it all a bit disconcerting. When they were back to the path, coated in pond slim, exclaimed, "I have a great idea!" -- a tender one to share his water bottle to let them clean up a bit. Another day, letting go yet another frog, Sam found a toad. Pretty exciting stuff!

Baking cookies -- a recipe Sam and Max and Anna made as kids which "requires" mixing and squishing butter, oatmeal, and sugar with your hands. They taste pretty good, too!

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Michigan Contingent

Here they are.



Heather. She baked this amazing cake. I contributed the leaves. See more at her blog


Spencer, their oldest


Owen, in the middle


Laney, bringing up the rear (in a dress I sewed).


Mister, Chief Cat. He shares the house with three other underling cats. Note the pillow - my lavender sateen covered down travel pillow. This cat knows comfort.


There is a significant extra-family contingent outside as well. This little guy chowed down at our feet one late afternoon, one of many squirrels, birds, and chipmunks enjoying the backyard provisions. Last night a cardinal perched on the empty sunflower feeder, chirping loudly in clear protest and red regal demand.


Our Trip to Alaska: Sights Blurbs

Summer in Gustavus and parsnip and lupine blanket the entire glacial plain, in some spots as far as the eye can see and as tall as you are. We arrived at the peak of this bloom. As these fade the fireweed replaces it, just as tall and widespread. Incredibly beautiful.


Vast fields of parsnip and lupine.


This was the first remarkable sight of the visit. Our national bird thrives in Gustavus. This one was perched in a tree just above us as we approached the beach for the first time.



Toward the end of the five day visit, I snapped this pair on the dock. I approached as near as I dared and took a first picture. These blase fellows were so nonchalant, I took another six steps to snap a closer shot. I was able to do this four times before they took any notice. I might have been able to get even closer but I was called back down the dock to board the fishing boat.


Our Trip to Alaska: On the Water Blurbs

So I ran down the dock to board our boat for the fishing trip. This is our captain, Bethany, and my brother, Phil, the engineer on this fishing trip. Phil moved to Gustavus about two years ago, but has enjoyed living in rural Alaska for almost twenty years now.


Things move a bit slowly in this part of Alaska. No McAnything here (I only counted four stores -- general store, hardware store, gas station, and gallery/ice cream combo) except this fish. Bethany took us to her favorite spot and Phil landed this 70 pound halibut within instants of getting his lure all the way to the ocean floor. I caught two fish. A 18" halibut that was far too small to keep and a flounder, too tasteless in the minds of those in the know on board. But that 70 pounder filled the bill for my mom and me. What a sight as it came into view! Bethany found the perfect spot and Phil is the expert fisherman.


Phil chartered a boat for sightseeing. The Great Sea is designed to maximize the view both on deck and within the cabin. The best photo from this trip is in my mind -- a humpback whale and her calf breaching multiple times. I had never seen it before and the image is burned into my senses. It is too easy to miss an experience in the attempts to document is, so during this time, I just put the camera away. Sea otters, sea lions, eagles, seals and whales surrounded us in the teal roiling waters off Point Adolphus. If you come to this neck of the nation, the Great Sea would be a great boat to charter - sleeps 8.


GiGi (Great Gramma), nephew John, and me. My brother crafted the railings.