Friday, August 25, 2006

What Did We Do On a Friday?

We picked up our Bike Friday Tandems and went for a cruise. To the local chocolate factory, of course! We actually picked them up on Wednesday, and have been biking all over the place since then. The kids love them, and I'm so much happier with them safely tucked behind us, it extends our range to streets that I wouldn't go on if they were on their own bikes, and extends our distance and shortens our time to get there as well!

Now, the only major question is: is it more fun to bike with my kids on a tandem, or with my husband?? We dropped the kids off at their robotics camp this morning, then put the seat up on one of the tandems and took off together on our "bicycle built for two". They say that riding a tandem will either make or break a marriage, but we have already flown an airplane together (and he is a notorious backseat driver, er, pilot) so I figured we would be okay. It was fun, crazy, and a little scary. From the back, I can't see much, and have to rely on what it feels like he's about to do (turn, stop, coast). From the front, I have to keep the balance, which is a lot harder with him on the back than with one of the kids! You have to stop and start, lean, coast, and pedal together, and we were both laughing our heads off just trying to get the thing started. What fun.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

On My Bookshelf

Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth

Someone recommended this excellent book to me and it is totally chock full of information you need to get started with seed saving. I have to admit it is pretty overwhelming, when you start thinking about isolating various crops from cross-pollination (especially since many of our neighbors have vegetable gardens) and all the different techniques you need for different vegetables. I got the book out from the library, but I can already tell I'll need to buy it to use as a more or less constant reference. I'm saving seeds this year from a few easy plants - melons, pumpkins, edameme, and I'll try the harder stuff as we go.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

When Bad Things Happen to Good Chickens

This weekend a dog in the neighborhood killed three of our beloved chickens. On our property, right in front of the kids, with me trying to get the dog away and frantically calling for the owners to come get the dog. I can still hear my daughter's voice in my head "Mommy, he's killing Goldie! Mommmmmmyyyyyy!!!!" and like those awful slow-motion dreams, not being able to get there in time to stop this dog. We buried them with a small ceremony on Saturday night, but the sadness won't leave for awhile.

When we got chickens, it was for the purpose of laying eggs - a sort of a utilitarian feature. I was unprepared for how endearing these creatures could be, how they would each have their own personality and quirks, how they would follow me around while gardening, with their soft little "bwaaaks" and squawks, looking for the bugs and worms I turned up. And so I was unprepared for the amount of grief that their demise has brought.

Goldie was our first egg-layer. For reasons unknown, she picked the side-vent of our house as a likely nesting box and laid her first few eggs in there. Afterwards, she would walk around the yard, loudly and proudly proclaiming her accomplishment. It was so fun for the kids to find those first few eggs.

Boudicca the Fierce was the leader of the whole chicken tribe, top of the pecking order (and the most likely to peck at me when she was a little chick). She was fiesty and funny.

And our beloved Dingbat, who was originally named Aphrodite, but renamed when her vision problems caused her to miss the door to the pen and run into the wire on many occasions. She also had a gimpy toe, that probably went along with her poor vision, but she had a very sweet temperament, and was the only chicken to take our new babies under her wing this year and shepherd them around the yard.

These three sweet being brought smiles and their funny silly chicken antics into our lives and we will miss them terribly. I know that out there in the big world people are having much worse days than this. I know people in many places would give their eyeteeth to have a day where only chickens die (or even be happy, because then they would have a decent meal), but for us, we've lost some beloved pets and we are grieving "just for chickens".

RIP Goldie, Boudicca the Fierce, and Dingbat.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Nothing Like Scarcity

We camped in the desert for 6 days this week. There's nothing like having no water around for miles and miles to really make you appreciate the stuff. To savor every drop. To be completely and totally aware of how you use it. I think here in the reasonably rainy PacNW, we forget what a precious commodity water really is. Especially the clean, drinkable stuff. When you're out there in the dust zone, straining off your cooking water into another pot so you can re-use it to wash dishes, and emptying the water from your cooler into your dog's bowl, it becomes much more apparent.

It was a great journey, in many ways. And coming back, I have a new appreciation for the ease at which I can turn on a faucet and get beautiful clear water to fill my glass.