Monday, June 29, 2015

We are Drought-Tolerant

Although everyone is blogging and posting about current events, I have decided not to, because a) I'm much too smart to lay my opinions out on the internet for everyone to misinterpret and dissect; I have found it's way more effective to have an actual conversation about such matters, b) I'm chicken or c) both a and b.
Nor am I going to blog about the puppy (he is on my very bad side right now because he recently ate a new pair of Rainbows, these really cool leather flip flops that people wear every single day out here), Jason's graduation (although it was wonderful and we are so proud of him!) or Grace being amazing (which she is - she would be my nominee for family member of the year if there was such a thing).
Instead, I've decided to answer the question that several (and by several, I mean 2) people back east have asked, and that is: How is your family being affected by the drought?
Well, the creek is totally dry in our neighborhood, as is our town lake, and our yard looks below-average, because we have to water 25% less (also, Jamey is still recovering from shoulder surgery, so we have a substitute lawn-keeper who does not quite share Jamey's "pride of ownership").  I'm not posting a photo though because our grass is still pretty green (our sprinklers go on at 2 a.m., hoping that no one notices) and we don't want to be 'drought-shamed' by anyone.  I really want to keep the grass, because come fall we will have groups of up to 100 students coming over to picnic/play cornhole/camp out/watch meteor showers/eat dinner/play wiffle ball.
There is no garden this year, which is okay, because we are out of town quite a bit anyway.  But the orchard is still there, and the plums are abundant although small, and the peaches are the size of marbles.  And when I say marbles, I am not exaggerating - I took this photo of a marble next to a peach to show just how small they are.  No peach cobblers this year (I actually don't ever make peach cobblers; they involve baking and I try to avoid that in the summer heat).  I will still be making plum and apricot jam in the fall, however, even if it takes way more effort to get 4 cups of plum puree.  Take that, drought!
Also, there are a lot more critters around, because they are coming into the neighborhood to find water.  And apparently there's been a major increase in rattlesnake sightings, so now when I run with the dog in the mornings, I keep my eyes up ahead looking for snakes in the path.  We haven't seen any yet.
We did, however, see this coyote one day.  It followed me unnoticed (I was intently listening to a favorite podcast; "Stuff You Missed in History") until the dog happened to turn around and see it.  Then, of course, the puppy thought he had found a new friend to play with and the coyote shunned him and went under the barbed-wire ranch fence.  My neighbor, a forest ranger, suspects it was a mama coyote making sure we didn't find her cubs.
So, I water the herbs outside the back door with old cooking or dish water, and try to take shorter showers - you know, the usual.  And we look forward to this fall and winter when we have been assured by the fine weather people that there is 100% chance of it being an El Nino year, and everyone can look forward to wimpy Californians lamenting the rain and clouds and lack of sun, and we can all get "Storm-Watch:2015" updates constantly.
Until then, I will just continue to enjoy these summer nights by listening to baseball games on the porch!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Adventures with Puppy

So, as our adored and busy puppy Reddick approaches his first birthday, I thought it would be fun (?) to take a look back over the 8 months he has lived with us and highlight a few of the things he has chewed / eaten.  Good thing he is so stinking cute!

Here's part of our sprinkler system - the drip lines.  He chewed several sections of these, as well as some of the wires from the controller....twice.  Naughty dog.  Boo.

Wood (below) is one of his favorite things to chew.  Fortunately, we do have a wood pile, and lots of sticks that fall off the trees, so that's actually been helpful.  It's convenient when he can head for the wood pile, choose a nice piece of almond or oak, and then spend a few hours shredding it in the yard.  Keeps him nice and busy.

What isn't so great is that our porch (and house, come to think of it....) is made of wood.  So I have found little sections like this one on the porch, the back steps, the deck, and the picnic table.  Fortunately, he hasn't seemed to think any of them tasty enough to go back for more.

The leash was a favorite item - he started chewing in the back seat of my car on the way to the beach and I didn't realize what was happening until he had almost gone the whole way through, rendering it quite useless.  Now we have two leashes.

This is one of my favorite photos - you will notice that it is (was) a spray bottle that was purchased in one of those travel kits, empty.  I made my very own "puppy no-chew spray" using cider vinegar and cayenne pepper.  Guaranteed to work - I mean really, who would want to even get near such a mixture?  My eyes sting just remembering it.
Results seemed positive - we actually sprayed it on the porch steps.  But then, silly me, I left the bottle itself sitting on the railing, and this is what waited in the yard for me the next morning.  He sure showed me!

I don't know what kind of foolish person brings a nerf ball to the dog park, but you've got to know that this is what will happen to it within a day or two.  I especially like how proud Reddick looks.  "Look what I did to that stupid ball!"

Not pictured:  Rainbow sandals (I have now sewn mine in three places), headphones (I dropped them on my way to the car and didn't realize it until it was, alas, too late), the puppy brush (also left on porch railing), the cat's bed, a newspaper, bike tire tubes, and a large variety of caps, plastic bottles, and old paper towels and their tubes.

Just so everyone knows:  we do indeed feed and exercise this dog.  And, there are enough bones scattered around our yard to actually assemble a cow's skeleton.  Also, fyi, as a trick, you can refill the hollow ones with cheese whiz or peanut butter and re-use them.  It works for a while!  Like I said, good thing he's cute.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Problem With Soccer

I have meant to write so many things about this, Jason's senior soccer season.  But obviously it's easier thought and said than done.  We have come to love soccer - it's a really great game to watch.
The problem for moms of senior boys is, that when we see this:

What we really see is this:

I spent the whole season pretty much just being incredibly grateful that I have gotten to enjoy seeing my boy play a game he loves (and is darn good at!) for all these years.  He has somehow avoided major injury - never had a pulled muscle, a bum knee, or a concussion that has kept him out, which is unusual (for all the 'flopping' that takes place, soccer can be quite a brutal sport at times!).  This year, for the third year in a row, Jason played every minute of every league game. He was voted team captain, and made the all-league team, which is a great way to end a career.  Even though the team did not have a winning record (in fact, Atascadero boys' soccer has not yet had a winning season!), we could all see the team and players improving, and the parents were absolutely wonderful, and the coaches are great men, and the boys played their hearts out in so many games that were so close (three overtime games in one week!), and it was a joy to watch this team this year.
So, I savored those games, and felt old occasionally, but also felt really excited for whatever comes next, because I have been reminded again and again that my kids are truly amazing, and time does fly.  And now, instead of the stress of being the parent of a player, Jamey and I get to enjoy being co-spectators with them.  MLS games, here we come!