Monday, August 31, 2009

Remembering when...

Timothy Lake, Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon 1996

My first "set" of kids- Neal, Kristin, Seth, Katie and Alyssa experiencing the forests of Mount Hood. To see what these rascals look like these days, check out the family picture in the right side bar of the blog.

We had a grand time.

And now they are grown up and much more serious about life.

This is how that camping trip ended- with three year old Alyssa falling into the campfire and a late night drive to the hospital. It made the camp-out even more memorable.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Passing It On

As of three days ago, my two littlest boys had never been camping or fishing.

With one weekend window left open for summer, it was time to remedy that. They are at the perfect little boy age for camping and fishing.

I blame the need to have camping and fishing in the lives of my children on my dad.
He loved camping and fishing, and hunting as well, with the passion of a man born in the wilderness.
Here he is doing some winter camping. I'm pretty sure he is making his iconic sourdough pancakes. My dad used to sleep with the sourdough starter in his sleeping bag to keep it the right warm temperature for the morning pancake batter. He was a hardcore sourdough man. As for the red pants...I don't know about that. But I know the rest of the clothes came back with him from Alaska.

During my early childhood most weekends were spent camping, canoing and fishing. Most of the time was spent in northern Minnesota, where my dad was from, but we also camped in Canada, Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan. This is what our campsite typically looked like in those days. This photo was taken after we graduated to luxury camping with a new Coleman tent, cots for sleeping, a fold-up table and a heater. My dad made the "chuckbox" on the picnic table to hold our dry groceries. He made one for Mr. Dirtywrench and I when we started our own camping adventures.

That's my little brother and myself with Mom around the ol' campfire. We didn't just camp in summer. I remember all kinds of weather and conditions.

I've done very little camping with my own kids in the last fifteen or so years. It's a ridiculous amount of work to pack up the family and all the necessities for a few days of woods livin'. But camping is such a great activity for the family and if you already have the gear, it's practically a free vacation.

I brought along a box of photos from my mom's house to look through. I found this. My dad was with me for the whole weekend. I spent a lot of meditation on the many hours we spent together camping, canoing and fishing. This weekend I told my kids stories of our times- the bears, the moose, the loons calling on the lake, portaging in the Boundary Waters, pouring rain on the tent...

My dad passed away in 1999. Before he was gone he was able to teach my older kids something about fishing.

With all my memories of fishing, I remember actually catching very few fish.

My dad's not here to teach my littlest guys the tricks so it was up to me. Before we left for the mountain lake, my brother brought the kids brand-new poles. He also brought the tackle box.

When I opened it, I was transported back in time. I was seven years old again, examining all the colorful lures in my dad's box. These are my dad's lures in my brother's box.

At our mountain lake I had to reach back into the dusty corners of my mind to remember how to rig up the lines for my kids. I taught them how to cast. I had to thread all the worms for them as none of them would even try. I told them they better remember it on Mother's Day.

In three days, we never had even a nibble. That's in keeping with tradition, but also, I've forgotten all the tricks.
But then, it didn't look like anyone else on the lake ever caught anything either.

The second legacy I needed to pass down was the art of canoing.

My dad built his own canvas canoe when I was a kid. I remember it on props near the garage. It was put out of commission when a rock was flung out of a lawn mower through the canoe.

Thirteen years ago, on one of our few camping trips, Alyssa was the little one in the middle.

This time she was the one in command at the rear.

By the end of the weekend, the little boys had mastered maneuvering the canoe themselves.

My dad would have loved it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hay, Boy!

Now, take your foot off the clutch...

...but keep your foot off the gas....

....and keep it in a straight line between the bales....

.....don't make any jerky moves.....

That's it. You're gettin' it.

Way to be a farm boy!


Not me.

This is a Buff Orpington hen. Buff Orpingtons are known to be good brooders. This hen is trying to squeeze in a few hatchlings before the cold weather sets in.

The problem is, she lives with the goats. She is not in the chicken coop as part of the rooster's harem. Her eggs are not fertile. She could sit there from now until Kingdom Come and her eggs will not hatch. She does not understand this concept. She plans to sit there from now until the Kingdom comes if she has too. She cannot be persuaded to give it up as a fruitless effort.

So I've developed a plan. I've been taking away her eggs every day but she just sits there and lays another, puffing up her feathers to warm it up, sure it will hatch because she's so determined.

Her eggs are brown. I will continue to take them away because I need them for my morning frittatta.

In the chicken coop I'm taking the green eggs from the Aracuana, who is a busy member of the rooster's harem, and I'm giving them to the determined little Buff. Since these eggs are green and hers are brown, I'll be able to tell which ones I can take away and which ones are in the process of becoming chicks.
We'll see if she can hatch these to satisfy her overwhelming urge to be a mother. Hopefully she won't notice that the chicks don't look like her. And hopefully she won't hatch any more cock-a-doodle doos.

I'll let you know if this works in about twenty-one days.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Baby Love

A good dose of it... least once a week...

...makes life a lot more fun...

...and the world a more peaceful place.

Everybody needs some baby love.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cheap Date

After spending Saturday in the kitchen making pickles, chopping cabbages for more sauerkraut and canning peaches, I got cleaned up for a Saturday night date.

It was a cheap date, recession era style.

Mr. Dirtywrench and I headed out on the Yamaha for a trip around the mountain.

An early highlight on the road was that we saw our first wild cougar!
It crossed the road in front of us. I had my camera in my hand but the mountain cat disappeared so quickly into the trees I couldn't get a photo. It was exciting.

We went out east onto Oregon's high prairie desert.

Only thirty miles from our forested mountain home it is dry and flat.
Someday I hope to have my own bike so I can do this ride in my own saddle. But for now I'm happy to take in the view, camera in hand, from the back.

We came through this green valley. Over one hundred years ago, wagon trains of pioneers on the Oregon trail came through here, looking for a new home.

We stopped in the little town of Dufur to grab a bite. There was only one place for miles around and its door is a time portal...
I was instantly transported to my childhood spending weekends in northern Minnesota. There was a place just like this where the adult relatives gathered in the local bar to hangout.

Mr. Dirtywrench also had a place just like it in the farm town in Michigan where he grew up. The small town bar, an American institution.

Now see...I got married when I was nineteen, pregnant when I was twenty- before I could legally drink- and thus began twenty five years of breastfeeding and washing diapers. So I didn't spend much time in places like these. I know I wasn't missing much but bars are still kind of a novelty to me.

The food was what I expected- straight off a Sysco truck. I'm a food snob and don't often eat iceburg lettuce but it was tasty enough. The wait staff was friendly and attentive, leaving the plastic ice tea pitcher for refills.

After our meal I looked around and had my mind blown.
A cigarette machine!
Back in the day, these sat outside so every man, woman and child could buy their smokes anytime. Now you buy them inside and smoke them outside.

And a juke box!

Holy bell bottoms Batman!
They still have these things??

By the looks of the playlist, this thing has been here since before I could legally drink.

To top it off-a pinball machine too!

I can count on one hand how many times I've played pinball.
I know. I'm pathetic.
I had a sheltered life.
And then I was barefoot and pregnant.

So I just had to indulge.
It was so fun! Even with helmet hair.

So Mr. D. gave it a go too.
And I completely dominated.
4.5 million to his 1.05 million points.
Ha! Yes!

I could have stayed there all night but we ran out of quarters.

Stepping out of the time machine, we were greeted by this glorious evening sky.

So after partying hard at the bar for- twenty minutes or so- it was back through the chilly mountain pass to our quiet life out on the farm.