Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Better Day Today

Yesterday morning, I woke up with zero appetite which is highly unusual for me.  By 10:00, I was back in bed sicker than a dog.  I didn't leave the bed all day, too weak to lift my head off the pillow and miserable.  Through the haze of my sleeping and dozing, I heard the rest of the family pack up and head out to explore a nearby river.

When they got back to the cabin, Camille brought me a bowl of pretzels to go with the glass of water my mother had brought me earlier.  Around midnight, I cautiously ate a couple and by this morning I felt pretty normal.  I successfully ate breakfast and took it easy.  Brett called and reported that his son's foot surgery went well -- two and a half hours, pins and plates everywhere.  He cannot move for three weeks and no weight bearing after that for 13 weeks.  And I thought I had it bad!

Camille registered for her fall college classes online and then we went to Scotts Flat Lake where we met up with the rest of the family.  I walked down to the shore with NO boot!!  Woo-hoo!  Not very fast and not very graceful, but still... 

Mom and Dad sitting on the shore

My nephew, Nick, the 6'4" human pretzel

Kristin, Kyle and Camille riding a submerged log.  Nick coming to... rescue?  torment?  

When we arrived back at the cabin, there was a large family/flock of turkeys in the back yard.  Kristin was able to get quite close to them.

I started to feel a bit "off" again before dinner so I just picked at my food and I'm going to take it easy this evening.  I'll assess how I'm feeling tomorrow and then decide whether to head home as planned or stay an additional day. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Swimming Hole

This afternoon, I took Brett to Sacramento.  He flew home so he can take care of the animals, go to work, and be down in San Diego Tuesday for his son's surgery (broke his foot in a freak bicycle accident).  Once I got back to the log house, I sat on the patio with my foot up relaxing until my sister and the kids got back from exploring a gold mine.

Before dinner, the kids all went down to the creek to swim and swing on the rope.  My sister went down to take pictures so I didn't have to struggle down and back again.  Thanks, Marie!

Justin (Marie's), Kyle on rope (mine), Nick (Marie's), Camille (mine), Kristin in front (Marie's)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hangin' in the Hammocks

Yesterday morning was quiet.  Camille tried out all the hammocks. 

The small single:

The double (careful your butt doesn't hit the ground):

Camille's favorite (the pea in a pod):

My favorite - I like to sit here, looking at the creek, and thinking about writing poetry.  I haven't done more than think as I tend to drift away into a contented lazy place.

Before lunch, Camille and I walked down to the creek.  My dad joined us a few minutes later.  It was steep and I wasn't sure how it was going to be with my foot but I really wanted to see the creek up close, at least once.

It was a long, steep and difficult walk back to the house.  I paid for it the rest of the day with my foot burning like there was a fire in my boot.  I won't be going down there again.

When I finally made it back onto the back deck, I flopped in a chair and put my foot up.  Brett brought me a beer.  I spent most of the afternoon in that same spot.

In the afternoon, my parents sat for awhile looking at the creek before my sister arrived and all the happy chaos of eleven people.

After dinner, we watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics.  I always enjoy the march of the athletes, the dizzy-making number of countries, the joy and pride on the faces of the athletes and their camaraderie.  The rest of it doesn't do much for me and, no offense to my English readers, but that business of the queen parachuting in with James Bond was undignified -- and I find the Queen to be a very dignified person.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

A River Runs Through It

Yesterday we were up in the wee hours of the morning.  I packed the coolers -- following a list because at 3:30 am I am not capable of independent, much less reliable, thought.  Brett wedged the last few items in the car and Camille crawled into the small space left for her in the back seat, curled up in a ball with her iPod buds in her ears and her head on a pillow.  We were able to get to the other side of LA before the morning rush hour hit.  After picking up a bagel and coffee in Santa Clarita, we began the climb over the grapevine.  The grapevine is the portion of the 5 freeway that climbs out of the LA basin, over the mountain pass twisting around itself like a grapevine, and then dropping down into the central valley.  The sun was just coming up as we climbed.

The majority of the drive was on the 99 freeway which parallels the 5, but is a bit further east.  The 99 is the original highway through the valley and it is a much prettier drive with fields of corn, almond groves and grapes.  SunMaid raisins have their vineyards here.  We were on the 99 forever -- five hours maybe -- but it was enjoyable.  You can see the valley stretching out below in the next picture, which was taken as we dropped down on the valley side of the grapevine.

When we reached Sacramento, we turned east and headed toward the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Tahoe National Forest.  Then it was off the freeway and onto a two lane highway, then we began winding through the hills on a narrow road dotted with pine and oak trees.  We came across these two characters crossing the road.

Mama was resting in the shade under the porch of that house the fawns are running towards.  Camille and I were hanging out the windows with our cameras while Brett told us to hurry up because we were holding up traffic.  One car.  Traffic, phooey. 

The cabin is wonderful.  It is much nicer than the old, dark and dirty cabin we rented in Shaver Lake for 18 summers.  This cabin is beautiful, clean and bright.  And a stream runs behind it with a rope swing, a swimming hole and a hiking trail.

Personally, I plan to spend a lot of time here:

My parents arrived a few hours after we did and after unloading their car, I opened some nice ripe cheeses and my dad opened an awesome bottle of wine.  Burgers for dinner, then a sound night's sleep with a cool breeze blowing in the window and the sound of frogs in the creek. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Almost on our Way

Last night lasted forever.  First there was the discussion, right before I went to bed, with Camille about how impossible it is to get classes at the local junior college as a freshman.  I laid in bed thinking that she would only be able to get auto shop or some other equally unsuitable class (not that it's a bad class, just of no interest to Camille).  Then I thought about all I needed to pack.  And where we would stop for breakfast and lunch on the long drive to Grass Valley.  And making the rhubarb pie today.  Then I wondered if there were enough peaches ripe on the tree to make peach coffee cake for our breakfasts.  and on and on and on.  I hardly slept all night.

When I woke up for the final time (too many bouts of doze, wake, think, doze to count), I stretched and noticed it didn't hurt my foot at all.  I cautiously flexed my foot.  No problem.  I pointed my foot (something I absolutely could not do at all before) and I was able to do that too.  Hmmm, flexed the toes.  ...some movement, no pain.  The next thought in my brain was that I needed to fit a ride on Winston into my day.

...until I tried to put my foot in a big, loose muck boot and it hurt.  Rats!!  Instead, I gave Jackson a bath and walked him around while he dried.  I made the rhubarb pie and the peach coffee cake.  I packed.  I stacked.  I made pizza dough for dinner tonight...  and I am exhausted.

There is supposed to be WiFi in the cabin so I'm hoping to keep up reading your blogs and maybe post here and there.  No promises, though, so if my page goes dark for the next week you know why.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cooking, Cooking, Cooking

I can't ride and it's too hot to be outside anyway so what do I do?  I cook.  And then I wonder why I am gaining so much weight.  Let's see... cooking (and eating) with little to no exercise usually equals weight gain, right?

Camille and her boyfriend, Gress, came up last Sunday and I cooked her birthday dinner -- finally.  Her birthday was May 31 but she was too busy then with prom and graduation and celebrating with her friends.  She wanted steaks, baked potatoes and Caesar salad.  Chocolate cake with bananas and whipped cream frosting for dessert.

Gress wanted to know if I'll make him dinner for his birthday in September.  Smart boy, knows how to please his girlfriend's mom.

Today I spent most of the day in the kitchen getting ready for the family reunion vacation thing -- we need a name for it -- later this week.  I made cookies the other day.

This morning, I made banana nut chocolate chip bread.  Kyle eats it for breakfast every morning while we are there.  One year, I forgot to make it and he was really disappointed.  He reminds me now.

My sister and I make all the dinners.  We all bring our own breakfast and lunch food (although there is a lot of sharing that goes on) but dinners are a big effort.  There are eleven of us and the kids, five of them, are between 18 and 24.  They eat a lot.  Okay, we all eat a lot.  My sister and I alternate nights.  She cooks the main course one night while I make the appetizers.  The next night we switch.  My dad brings the wine.  The kids do kitchen clean up. 

One of the dinners I am making will be BBQ ribs.  I make my own BBQ sauce -- recipe from a rib place in Shell Beach I loved when I was going to school in San Luis Obispo.  My mom got the recipe and shared it with me.  A few years ago, my friend Sylvie's daughter came and stayed with us for three weeks from France.  The night that I made ribs, she licked her fingers like the rest of us and said "J'adore cette sauce."  And, just because I love all of you so much, I'm going to share the recipe.  It's ridiculously easy. 

Lastly, I made spaghetti sauce.  I'll freeze it and use it like ice in the cooler. 

Tomorrow, I will pack my clothes and make a rhubarb pie.  Then we'll load the growing stack of bags in the "ready to go" pile, get a few hours of sleep, and hit the road Thursday around 4am.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Stills: In the Sky

We have had unrelenting heat and, for the most part, clear blue skies.  A few days this week and last, clouds arrived from the desert.

New Mexico and Arizona are experiencing their summer monsoons and some of the residual moisture, swept up from the Gulf of Mexico, made it all the way to California.  We even had a slight chance of thunderstorms show up in the forecast.  I was excited -- there isn't anything better than sitting outside on the porch, watching the lightening flash, listening to the crash of thunder and the sudden downpour, and smelling the damp earth.  But, it was not too be.  We had days of high humidity but no rain, no light show, no cleansing showers. 

I continue to wait out the healing of my foot.  I tell myself that this is miserable riding weather and its just as well that I am in the cool house, but that doesn't help with boredom.  Towards the end of next week we will be driving (and driving and driving) up to Northern California for the annual vacation with my extended family.  Last year we went to the coast, but we all missed the mountains so we are trying that again.  It was a trick finding a place that felt like mountains with a lake close by for the kids, but at an elevation low enough for my mother to tolerate.  Fingers crossed that this place works out for everyone.  If it does, it will be worth the ten hour drive.  I plan to sit by the creek with a book, write some poetry, and jibber-jabber with my mother and sister.

In the meantime, we are all trying to stay cool while we wait for autumn.  The only happy campers at the ranch are the peaches and the tomatoes. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Life Without Bella

Brett and I have both noticed a change in the goat pen since Bella left.  It's peaceful in there now, quiet, calm and happy.  I don't mean to imply that it was chaos before or sad but Bella was a force to be reckoned with.  She was definitely the queen of the herd and when she was in the pen, she was bossing the other goats around.  They didn't mind this, someone has to be the leader, but it is upsetting when your leader keeps leaving all the time.  Every time Bella jumped out, which was multiple times a day, the rest of the herd would call to her and run the fence line and worry.  Now, we only hear them at feeding time.

We give the goats a flake of hay in the morning and another one in the evening.  During the winter, when the grass is growing, they get less but right now all they have to munch on is brown grass and the sticks remaining from the shrubs. 

Cowboy, one of the African Pygmies, used to be very shy and skittish.  He has become very friendly since Bella's departure.  This morning he surprised me by jumping up on my legs for attention.  If I sit, he will climb in my lap and he is forever asking to be brushed and scratched.  Maybe he was afraid of Bella.  He is definitely a different goat with her gone.

Thistle, on the other hand, has become more independent.  He used to require reassurance and kisses on his nose before he would go to the hay feeder and eat.  Now, he hardly gives me the time of day. 

Little Bear, who is Bella's twin, seems to be doing just fine.  I can't tell that he misses his sister at all.  Bear has always been a pushy sort of a goat who requires you to lay down the boundaries firmly.  Otherwise, he'll eat the clothes off your back, your hat, your hair and your elbows (yes, elbows).  He hasn't changed at all -- other than no longer crying for Bella during the day when she was out roaming the neighborhood.

Whiskey has become more independent too.  He was a bottle fed kid, having lost his mother shortly after birth.  Whiskey has always been very quiet and polite.  When I sit on the goat porch or a boulder, he patiently stands next to me waiting to be noticed.  If that is taking too long, he will softly paw at me with his hoof.  He is still friendly, but he is braver now.  I've seen him start butting games with the others and he holds his own.

While the goats were all busy eating their breakfast, I picked a couple twigs off of the cottonwood trees.

I was immediately very popular.