Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chicken update - Penny's babies


Here are my two roos. The buff roo is one of Penny's chicks, all grown up now and looking quite a bit like his father, Big Bird, except he also has feathered feet and pantaloons! Unlike Big Bird he has been very mellow, stays clear of people and plays second-fiddle to Big Blue.


This is his sister, who is the only feather-footed hen I got out of that batch. She is still filling out, but she definitly has the pantaloon thing going on.

Everyone has been doing fine. No sign of the hawk in a couple weeks now. The young hens have recently started laying, and so I pick up 7-9 eggs every couple days. It's nice to finally have eggs coming in again. I'm kind of looking forward to chick season this year. Although I had planned to just slip feed-store chicks under any broody hens this year so I wouldn't have to deal with roosters, I'm kind of curious to see what the chicks will look like coming from my buff hens and the blue cochin rooster, so I think I'll let nature take it's course and see what we get.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Barclay portraits

Barclay came into the office and said 'if I pose for an awesome picture will you get off your duff and come outside and play with me for a bit?'

I said 'well..if it's awesome...'

I love having such photogenic animals around!

These were both taken with him sitting by my computer desk, and the only light in the room was the desk lamp. Better yet, I took them with the point-n-shoot because Dave has my fancy camera at the theater today working on his time lapse project. I can't believe how nice these came out!

And yes, I did take him outside and play :)


 Mouse and Mighty.

Even though they are sisters and we bought them to keep each other company, they have decided they HATE each other. Just the other night I let Mouse in, then called Mighty and as she ran up on the deck Mouse ran back outside and tried to run her off! They get in scuffles all the time, which Barclay loves to break up. I don't know why I happened to get a picture of them standing this close, I'm guessing there was about to be a fight, but since the dogs and I came outside they decided to take it up again later.

After Mouse disappeared I got some nice shots of Mighty:



Fixed the trailer carport

Went faster than I expected.

The trailer should be cozy and dry for another year. I guess replacing the $100 top every year is kind of like paying really cheap storage fees!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cars and Trailers - random stuff


 First off, recent windstorms yanked the top off the vinyl carport that protects our old Airstream from rain. This is the second time we've had to replace the roof. The frame has been holding up just fine since it's attached to the shop, but the fabric has a more limited lifespan.

And here's a picture of our car parked at work, next to the landlord's car - same car, different colors! His is a newer model, so there's a few other differences, but I did have a customer come in on a day when the yellow car was there and our green one was not, and ask if we'd had our car repainted yellow!

Friday, January 22, 2010

A good recall

After two years of working on 'come', Barclay has really been doing well at it, even coming back in the house when he'd rather stay out and play - which I try to make very rewarding for him. Today at dusk we were out in the pasture, and I was sitting under the cover taking pictures of the rain running off the roof, and Barclay and Jack were way out at the other end of the field in the rain. I called Barclay, twice because it was raining so hard, and he perked up and heard me, turned to see where I was, and then RAN back to me at TOP SPEED! He was probably 200 ft away sniffing around with Jack, and he dropped everything and came running back - I was so proud of him! And of course I didn't have any treats, so we played for a bit instead, which made him very happy - he'd rather play than have treats anyway :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Trip to the beach

Dave and I haven't had a chance to get away for a long time, so today we took a fun day-trip to the beach. We started by heading North to Longview and crossing the Columbia there to get back on the Oregon side. Heading North to get to Oregon seems wrong, but it works.

Paper mill and container ship on the Columbia at Longview, WA.

We headed down to Fort Stevens on an exploratory visit to prepare for an Airstream Trailer rally we are organizing in March. After checking out the park we went to see the Peter Iredale shipwreck,

As you can see we were quite a ways back from it, the water was coming in.

Immediately after getting this picture we were looking at the camera screen going 'hey, we got it, nice shot', when we realized the wave was still coming up the beach! We turned and ran as fast as we could, laughing the whole way, all the way to the dunes! 


I looked back and snapped this picture, look how much deeper the water is around the ship, and the HUGE logs the wave pulled down across the sand.

We headed North to Longbeach and stopped to visit the boardwalk and watch the far off waves cresting and throwing spray high into the air.


Near the parking lot they had this wonderful relief map of the NW, showing all our favorite mountains. 


I got down low so it looked just like flying up the Columbia river towards home...


OMG!! What's that hideous monster?!!


We were taking the back way out of Ilwaco and ran across this neat little vacation spot.


 There was one Airstream mixed in there, mostly Spartans, a Silver Streak, and a couple I couldn't name. Neat find! I love old Spartans!

That was a really fun day, wandering up and down the coast with my wonderful hubby!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Making Marmalade

I felt adventurous today and made preserves. Marmalade to be exact. I was watching Good Eats a couple nights ago, and he was showing how to make Orange Marmalade, and mentioned that the best Marmalade oranges, Sevilles, were only available for a short time in January. So of course I thought 'hey, it's January now!', and ran right out and bought some. Boy, talk about your bitter oranges - yikes!  Those things are nasty!


I had a little help in the kitchen...

So I cut them up, cooked them up, got all the canning stuff ready - I went over and helped a friend can tomatoes this summer to learn how, so I was eager for something to can - and then I had a little problem. The recipe said to cook the Marmalade to 222 degrees after adding the sugar. That turned into a horrible mess! The thick, sugary mix was popping and throwing hot lava everywhere, and it hung at 219 for the longest time before it finally reached the goal - and by then it had scorched on the bottom and gotten quite dark - not bright and orange like marmalade should be.

I went ahead and canned it anyway. I wanted the experience of using the hot water bath canning method. It all seems to have sealed well. I figured if it's terrible I've only wasted a few lids. What I tasted of it before I canned it tasted very bitter and scorched.

When I got done, I had a big pot of boiling water on the stove, and since I bought a whole chicken to bake for dinner, I cut it up and threw the less attractive bits into the pot, along with some carrots, celery, onion, herbs and tah-dah...

Mmm, homemade chicken stock - so the day isn't a complete loss!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Barclay and Jack

It's a funny angle, but look at Barclay's beautiful eyes!

Jack, getting all crazy with the ball!

When Barclay gets hot he takes a dip in the pond

Playing with a tennis ball - it floats!

Off for a little exploration in the deep grass

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dodge Stealth

Dave's car is a 1993 Dodge Stealth, and for the last few months we've had a broken window regulator on the passenger side. When I first looked for a replacement part, it was around $170! So we wedged the window up and put up with it for a few months. After Christmas we decided to splurge, and found the part for around $100, so tonight I spent a fun evening installing it.

Installing the new part was no problem, but when I reassembled the door and put the door panel back on, I went to shut the door and thought - I should test the door locks. To my horror, they refused to lock! They would lock and immediately unlock again. Argh! I took the door panel back off and fought with a bit, thinking something was jamming it up, brought Dave out to help, and the solution seemed to be that it didn't want to lock the doors with the key in the ignition and the doors open. Maybe it's programmed to stop you from locking the keys in the car? Either way we eventually decided enough was enough, put it back together, and called it done!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Goodbye Darol

This is a picture some friends took at an Airstream campout a couple years ago. Around the back from left to right is me, Dave (looking like a hippy), Don, Janet, and the guy in front with the umbrella is Darol.  I just got a note this week that Darol had passed away from leukemia right after the holidays.

Darol was a great guy. I met him a few years ago because he was into restoring Airstreams, and he lived right down the road from me, so it was natural to run into him. I loved going to his house to visit and see what projects he was working on. He was a master craftsman. Everything he did wasn't finished until it was perfect. He always found the most elegant solutions for problems. Nothing was overdone, it was always just done right. He restored a number of Airstreams which are with happy owners around the NW.

When I was restoring my Airstream and had troubles he was always a phone call away, and he came over a couple times to help me screw down the floor, or fix my water tank where it had cracked. He helped me plan the install of the new furnace, and finished up my clumsy attempt at cabinetry by lifting the fridge and building an extra drawer under it. Everything he touched was better when he got done with it, something I can't necessarily say about my own efforts.

We had a great time camping, and I loved going over to his house and we'd sit out on the back patio, listening to his stories about being a shop teacher in Alberta, or being drafted at the tail end of Vietnam and ending up being a military phone operator, or of the boats and Airstreams he'd built. He had tons of interesting stories to tell, and told the funniest Sven & Ollie jokes you ever heard, and could have everyone roaring around the campfire.

I have been thinking about Darol a lot. I would have enjoyed another ten years of hearing his stories. He was just a genuinely nice guy, talented, great fun to camp with. He had a dry wit and a wry sense of humor. I think the lesson he left us is to enjoy every day, and don't put doing those things you love off too long. None of us know how much time we have left to wander around and see the world, and of course the best part of any trip is the fine people you meet along the way.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Community Theater

My husband volunteers with a local community theater (that's him getting ready to play the wolf in 'Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe' 2 years ago. He acts, directs, and designs and builds sets (not all at once, for different productions). And of course I get roped into helping build things, ushering, anything that doesn't require being the center of attention.

Last night the theater had their first annual end-of-year awards. It was a celebration of their first year in their own location. Prior to this year the theater had performed in various locations, ending in a big baptist church near downtown Vancouver. Now they have their own theater right downtown, and it was paid for with both money, and sweat equity. Although it had been a theater, there was a lot of work to do when they arrived to turn it into what they wanted and needed. They ended up with a beautiful little theater, and have put on a variety of great productions in it for their first year.

The amazing thing about the theater is that it is a 'community' theater. Which means the workers are all volunteers (there are very few paid positions), and all members of the community who just want to be involved in their spare time. The result is incredible. Brilliant musicians and singers who are engineers or stay-at-home moms by day, and light up the stage by night. Policemen who are actors, tech writers who do props, teachers who handle video production or sew costumes, and many many others who show up whenever needed and do what they can. And the result is this pool of talent that really pulls off putting on great shows and look good and are entertaining to watch. Behind it all is Jaynie, a wonderful British lady who uses her accent and +1 charm to get people to do what needs to be done - and works tirelessly at it herself!

So last night as they handed out awards and everyone had a laugh watching retrospective videos of the year, it really was amazing to realize the auditorium was full of regular joes you would run into through your day, a cashier at Home Depot or the guy who owns the local toy store, and yet here they all were coming together to make this wonderful thing happen. Pretty amazing!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Barclay gets stuck

 If only he had stayed in bed! But instead he went out this morning and chased the stray cat who lives in our hay shed and went right under the floor of the shed - where there was apparently a cat-sized exit hole, but not a dog sized one! So while the cat skedadled off and dissapeared, Barclay was left under the floor, crying and whining. I called him, but he just cried back. I pulled back all the plywood panels to get access under there, and I could hear him, but I was hesitant to climb under there in the dark, spidery recesses. I went and got a flashlight, with his cries in my ears the whole way and ran back, but flashing it around and calling him, I still couldn't see where he was. Then I thought 'If I crawl under there and get stuck...', so I left the flashlight under there and ran back to the house to call Dave who was on his way into town. Just as Dave answered his cell Barclay come running out of the shed at top speed - still looking for that cat!

So a happy ending for all, but I don't even want to think what if he had really gotten stuck - I suddenly had images of disassembling the shed on the spot! Or if he'd gotten stuck down there when nobody knew where he was. I guess that will be my job for tomorrow - seal up the hole that goes under the shed better, and find out if I can get a trap for that damn cat!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Using Picasa for editing photos

I've been using Google's Picasa, a free photo editing/organization software to handle my photos for my picture-a-day project, and I'm really happy with it. In particular it has lots of adjustments for color, tone, contrast, etc, just like you would expect - but it also has a button that says 'I'm feeling lucky', and when you hit that it throws what it's got at it. And it's usually pretty subtle, but so far it's been pretty right on.

This is a picture I took the first day of the project, but I wasn't using Picasa yet, and it was not nice enough to use.

But after running it through Picasa and hitting the magic button:

Dang, that's not bad!


Nice shot of Alki from our photo session tonight. She's still hanging in there, tinkling on the floor, blind, deaf, and cranky - does what she dang well pleases! She's at that age where she would wear purple and a red hat and if you don't like it - tough!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A rainy walk at the lake

I took my blurry buddy for a walk this afternoon at the lake. It was sprinkling when we left, but it turned into a pretty good downpour before we were through. Not that he minded. It's hard to notice you're getting rained on when you insist on jumping into the lake every chance you get!


Even under the circumstances, it was nice to have the place all to ourselves. 

The last snow of 2009

On December 29th we had a brief snow shower which dropped the biggest snowflakes I've ever seen! They were so big I caught one in my hand and it covered my whole palm. I filmed it because I thought it looked so cool, but it took this long to figure out how to post the video.

Friday, January 01, 2010

The chickens are loose

The chickens are loose again! Tough decision, but there's a couple reasons behind it. Number one is that the chickens were fine for a year and a half before the hawk decided to start snacking on them. Number two is that they can't stay in the coop forever. Number three is that I really can't afford to build an enclosure for them, it wouldn't work well where they are because of a big tree right outside the coop door, and so they need to go out again sometime. If the hawk comes back and kills another, I might just go ahead and find new homes for the remaining chickens and get out of chickens all together. Hopefully the hawk has moved on to greener pastures and won't come hunting back here.

Update: all chickens still accounted for. The weather was so lousy they spent most of the time inside the coop anyway.