Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lamphere Dune Walk

I have to say, this day was one of thee most incredible days I have ever experienced on the beaches in Humboldt. This is the view looking north towards Trinidad. I felt like I was in San Diego!

My brother trying to imitate Ariel from the Little Mermaid.


For these guys who live in So. Cal, this is just an ordinary day. But for those of us who live here in Humboldt, we know that these types of days are few and far between.

S4 stretching his stride

My sis heading down the backside of the dune. Wow. Look at those strong calves!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Beach Party for Boo

A further photo blog of our outings with the relatives. We went fast and furious for about four days just so we could do all the things we wanted to do while the family was here. I think we downloaded over 700 photos one night, but don't worry, I won't post all of them!
Boo turned 21 this week, so we had a bonfire down at the beach with family and friends.

Ceal & I

The biggest hotdog ever!

Thanks to Eric & Tate, we had plenty of firewood for our cooking fire! Wesmonger tries not to burn his hands.

I'm not sure about this photo. Some people are doing yoga, others are fishing and still others are just taking it all in. The guys actually hooked a pretty good size perch which we insisted they throw back in, only to have Miss Tilly retrieve it from the surf and bring it back!


My DIL and Tate doing what we do best on the beaches in Humboldt County; eatin' a hotdog and having a beer!

Nate & Little Mister had a fun time in the sand.

And of course the setting sun stole the entire evening!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Relatives in Humboldt County

After the wedding this past Saturday, some of the relatives hung around for a few days to take in some of our amazing Humboldt County natural wonders. We took them on a guided walk through Headwaters Reserve the first day which left them in awe of the towering trees and the strange creatures that dwell in this forest.

We were a little worried about Wesmonger here. We weren't sure if he was going to get eaten by this stump or what?!

We all had a great time as you can see by all the beautiful smiles!

Cutting the Apron strings

Now came the time to commemorate leaving his family and cleaving to his wife. At the rehearsal dinner I brought along one of my favorite aprons, one that I had worn many times while raising Son#2 from boyhood to manhood. Stained and tattered, I removed it from my waist and asked him to grab hold of the other end of the ties. I ceremoniously removed a pair of scissors from my pocket and snipped off the tie that he was holding and let the apron fall suddenly from his grasp. I told him that the apron strings were now cut and that I was no longer responsible for his care. I handed the apron to his soon to be wife and told her that now she could take over as my work is finished!

E looks like she's not too sure what to do with it but I'm confident that in time, she will develop all the skills she needs to make her man happy!
Later that evening, S2 came up to me to show me that he had put the apron string back together by tying it in a nice little knot! Very funny, I laughed, but that didn't change a thing! Although he and I will always be tied together like that apron string, the new Mrs. D will be the one wearing the apron now.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Uninvited Wedding Guest

Sometimes no matter how carefully the guest list is developed, there can be that one uninvited guest that boldly comes to the festivities with out an invitation. And that's exactly what happened, though not in the way that we expected. Yes, as you can see by the photo below, our uninvited guest was not your typically obnoxious long lost uncle, or a heartbreak from the past. Oh no, our uninvited guest was uglier and scarier than that! Our party crasher was a young California Brown bear. The four legged, furry kind. With big hairy paws and long sharp claws. Dudes, we were scared. I was ready to climb into the nearest car and lock the doors. Most of the young people ran over to get a closer look while their parents hollered at them to stand back. They were much braver than I.

The excitement all started at the Rehearsal Dinner. We were outside, in a very rural setting at a very rural country ranch out in the middle of a small meadow. We had been informed by our Ranch hosts that Mr Bear has been visiting regularly in the evenings about 7 p.m. About halfway through our meal, I heard the first shouts of excitement. Someone had seen a bear! What!?! we all cried! We flew out of our chairs to get a closer look (because to most of us, seeing is believing) as we were completely dismayed and awed at this wild creature. He roamed for about 40 minutes cruising around back and forth near us, then our hosts ran him off after he stole a loaf of bread off of their back screened in porch. I was glad to see him go.

This photo had to have been taken before Mr. Bear showed up, because they wouldn't look so relaxed and happy after seeing that hairy beast prowling around looking for an opportunity to steal our food.

Here we are with the newest Downeys. The big wedding day is over, the presents are opened and the happy couple has gone off on their honeymoon. Now we can settle back into life. No more intensity! Wow. this stuff really wears you out. I am truly amazed at all the little details that need attention when preparing for a wedding. From putting out ice and drinks to hanging lacy curtains to decorating tables, moving chairs; the list can be almost endless. So much fun and excitement, but also a lot of work! We could have hired a wedding planner, but they can be very expensive so my other DIL volunteered to oversee the implementation of all of E's ideas and desires for her big day. Everything went super great. We awoke to the most excellent weather we could have wanted. No fog, warm breeze and blue skies. Just what we prayed for.
After all the festivities were over, we were more than ready to finish up and get some much needed rest. Just when the last of the guests departed and we were busily cleaning up the grounds, who do yo think made another grand appearance? Yep, Mr. Bear came back. He just wanted another look around to see what kind of left overs we were going to leave for him. This time he came a little closer and sneered a little bit more. Our host says that he will have to get serious about finding somewhere else for this guy to live, because he is getting just a tad bit too bold.
Off go the happy honeymooners!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pre-Wedding Day Crunch

Only two days left until the big event. So far everything is going great. E has done a great job putting everything together. Everyone has their jobs to do and it all seems to be getting done little by little. We have been altering dresses, hemming suit pants, scoping out areas for picking wildflowers for the vases, getting haircuts, cleaning, cleaning and cleaning the house! DIL has been hand crafting and sewing pink ties for all the groomsmen. Today I painted the arch under which the couple will say their vows. Tomorrow we are going down to the ranch to clean up the grounds and deliver tables. Friday we have the rehearsal and then the dinner afterwards which I am cooking. We are having a big mexican food extravaganza! We have family and friends coming into town to visit so I may not be posting for a few days. We have lots of activities planned for the relatives while they are here. We are going for a hike in Headwaters Forest, have a bonfire on the beach, go swimming at Three Falls, explore the Lamphere dunes, and of course, sit around and drink coffee and catch up on all the news. Can't wait to see everyone!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hero's Homecoming

He's baaacckk! Even if it was just for a short visit, Hero's coming over to our house was fun! Most of my friends remember Hero, our little fox terrier who needed a new home.
After the guy from Arcata adopted Hero I tried to warn him. I told him that if a tall, beautiful brunette gal came running across the Plaza screaming the dog's name that it would most likely be my daughter. Well, as fate would have it, the ever-courageous, outgoing, socialite Reebs, decided she would like to follow up on this handsome dude who adopted our little Hero. No, she didn't see him in town or on campus, so she decided to just take matters into her own hands. In her charming, sweet way she sent a friendly email to this certain single, tall, handsome new owner of Hero asking if it were possible for her to visit the dog and he very promptly replied to her inquiry with a resounding yes. Since both of them are single, tall and very outgoing, they began spending more time together...... with the dog, of course. Before too long they were hanging out fairly regularly. A few weeks have gone by now and I had been anxious to know if I was going to get to visit with the little bugger. Admittedly, I really have missed him. When Reebs & Cam came over to go horseback riding, they brought "Rex" with them to see us. I really am stoked that I got to see him again. And he looks so good. Cam keeps him in really great shape. They spend alot of time outdoors doing all sorts of activities. Rex was excited too! He wriggled and squirmed and licked and jumped and tore around the yard with Tilly.

As you can see from the video, even Tilly was happy to see him. They wrestled together on the floor, then later on that afternoon they ran along side the horses on the beach for hours. I kept thinking about the story of Black Beauty when he and Ginger are separated but then they get to see each other again. Kind of the same sort of feeling... sort of. Anyway, I think it's a cool story. Hero and Cam were definitely two faces that I never expected to see again! Would I have ever thought this kind of thing would happen when I adopted Hero out? I don't think so. It's definitely been an unexpected pleasure. I still get to love on him and see him and that's pretty special to me. It makes the adoption a little easier to cope with. Truly this is an even better ending to an already great story.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Three Falls, Ooops!

No greater way to spend a sunny summer Sunday sabbath than swimmin' at the Chapman Falls. (Wow, that's a mouthful of S's.) We had our annual church picnic at the ranch yesterday and from what I could tell, everybody had a wonderful time. For any of you who have been to this mostly obscure Humboldt jewel-of-a-place, you know just how amazing it is. Nestled deep within the Chapman Ranch lies this refreshingly beautiful waterfall and swimming hole, accessible only to guests and friends of the Chapman family. Let me just take the time to say that I am most grateful for the opportunity to be invited to enjoy such an incredible natural wonder. TJ & Mark are two of the most caring, sharing people I have ever met. Each and every time I hang out with them, I am encouraged & inspired to grow deeper in the grace and love of Christ. You guys are exceptional people, I mean it!

This is one gigantic inflatable inner tube! Lots of kids and dads spent most of the day climbing and jumping on this thing!

Then there were others who just wanted to soak up some of that warm, SoHum sun.

The only way to get down to the falls is to hike down a really long, steep hill, (which some of us did. That made us more than ready to jump into that cold water!) or take a ride in one of the ATV type vehicles. So Mark shuttled people up and down in his cruisin' convertible. Once you arrive at this spot you still have to hike another 1/4 mile down a rugged, steep foot path to reach the falls.

Even Velma made it down the trail. What a gal! There was no way we could persuade her to stay back with the lawn chair crowd. She said that she was plenty sturdy to make it down there and that she only needed to hold Mark's hand to make it down. Graciously, he complied and helped her up and down the trail.
Later that evening we headed back to the coast that evidently had once again had remained socked in with fog for a majority of the day. We went from 85* temperatures to 55* in about 30 minutes! Many people are commenting that this is one of the coolest summers we have had in a very long time. Night time temperatures are still hovering around 50* still. But for those of us that have lived here for a while, that's Humboldt for ya'!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Wesley Wallace army & band

Joysticks and game controllers aside, the boys went about the yard collecting various items of usefulness to make swords, shields and axes for their "war." Wesley Wallace actually has a kitchen trash bag box on his head! Apparently this was sufficiently workable for the fight.

The Butler Boys moved away a few months ago and came back for a short visit. We had a great time at our bonfire out at the beach where the boys took all their weapons out to the sand dunes for a full-on battle. They built forts out of the abundant driftwood logs and trees that have been carried down to the ocean by the raging winter storms and pile up on our beaches. For several hours they ran around, charging at one another with weapons drawn. At one point it felt as if we were on the set of a movie or something! There were 8 or 9 boys out there going at it! Mr. B took lots of pictures that I will post some other time.

On a side note, our older boys kept themselves busy pursuing other interests:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Road signs & snapshots

While traveling down the famous Avenue of the Giants I came across this sign. I don't know..... I just thought this was funny.

Taking your own portrait photo is not that easy! I am trying to get my Lab to sit still long enough to get her in the shot but it proved difficult! She is a good dog, but I don't think I will leave her an inheritance so that she can eat off of silver plates.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cherry Pie - pt. 3

I saw an old friend today. We used to see each other frequently as our children were growing up. She has seven, I have six, so we always had alot to talk about whenever we were together. As we stood there in the middle of the grocery store, I realized that nothing had really changed in either of our lives except that our kids had gotten older, we each had a few grandchildren now and our marriages are still healthy and vibrant. That was refreshing. One thing that had changed was the amount of heartache each of us has endured as we have raised our children and as they have flown the nest. Our stories were laced with excitement as we recounted how many of them are married now and were raising families of their own. Or how our homeschooling days are numbered now as our younger children have reached Jr. High school age. Sprinkled within the dialog, though, was also a measure of sadness as we each revealed a subtle disappointment now and then from some of the choices our children have made over the years. After a time we realized that through it all, our children are and always have been a tremendous blessing to us despite the ups and downs. I know there are times when the dark clouds seem exceptionally dark, but nobody said it would be easy. My mom told me today, "When they're young, they step on your toes, When they grow up they step on your heart." I know now how that feels.
One thing that amazes me most as I trust in Christ and the promises that His Word ensures, is the ability to reach for and grasp joy in any and all circumstances. These little victories that I obtain despite what is happening around me keep my heart glad and my face aglow. I feel very blessed to be called one of His children.
When I have alot to think about, I like to keep my hands busy and create. So I made soap....lots of it.

Then I made a cherry pie.

It took me several tries to make the crust, but I finally got it.

Yummy....a quick walk to the grocery store for some vanilla ice cream to put on top of my slice of pie and my cares were quickly forgotten! Funny how food helps!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Whippin' Post

One of my all time favorite bands is the Allman Brothers. They were popular some time in the 70's I believe. I didn't really start listening to them until after high school, after one of the two brothers was killed in a motorcycle accident. Over the years I have enjoyed hearing a good guitar solo and some of their blues-ie tunes. I like the classic rock sound of their music. On their "Eat a Peach" release they perform a song called "Whippin' Post." In my not-so-professional opinion, its one of their best blues type songs. The singer says for some lengthy reasons including a cheatin' woman,.............. "sometimes I feel like I've been tied to the whippin' post, Good Lord I feel like I'm dyin'" All that to say this, today was that kind of day. It started out well enough, with a bike ride, a nice coffee, and some stops at a few yard sales, but somewhere along the way the day began to deteriorate. I think it had something to do with a lie and then a cover up and then another lie and a few harsh words, some tears, a dash of disappointment, more tears, a slammed door, then some time of reflection and digestion of the entire event. I grow weary just recounting the loose framework of the situation. I love my children. I love their energy, their spontaneity, their friendship, but I cannot tolerate their lying. It carves deep etchings into my mother's heart which swells with tears, ready to burst like a too-full water balloon.
As the day wore on the sadness began to lift, ample hugs were shared and the remnants of the Refiner's fire lay lightly on the floor in a pile of ash. I had to once again realize that although my children are excellent, wise young people, they are not perfect. They will make mistakes, they will fail at times. It is but by the grace of God that they even have the ability to stand.
Sweet peace comes by trusting in God's promise that He gave to me years ago in Ps. 27...that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I cling to that verse as a promise that over time I will see His goodness lived out in each one of their lives.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cherry pickin' - pt. 2

As I mentioned before, preparing all the delicious cherries I have been......pardon me, WE have been picking would be another post. Today I got the 3 boys out there to help out with the harvest and we finished the task.

Jo tried to help, but she just couldn't quite get the hang of it. She kept getting all messed up in the branches and stuff so we told her to get lost. She did help pit the cherries, though.

We have been picking, washing, pitting, and canning all the cherries I/we could possibly want! Oh yes, and eating them also! They are so yummy! The tree is so tall and so loaded with fruit it is amazing. I have heard from other people that this has been an excellent year for cherries. I canned 12 quarts in total and DIL canned 3 quarts. That will make some super good pies over the winter. I want to try and make turnovers as well. My hands are stained a grossly dark purple from all the juice.
Canning is such a rewarding activity. I have always been intrigued by the concept of "putting up" fruit and vegetables. Nowadays our food is commercially canned, but it has not always been this way. Many women have spent many long summer hours harvesting and canning their own food. When I was growing up, my mother never canned at all, so when I moved here to Humboldt, a close friend who was a few years older than me taught me how to can. We started out with something simple, I think it was blackberry jam. She showed me how to pick them and then transform them into lip smacking jam. Once we tried making "Ouince honey." That was taking this weird fruit called a quince, cooking it up and using only the juice to make a jelly. It was mostly sugar but very pretty to look at. Just about the color of honey. Another time she taught me how to make applebutter which is a personal favorite of mine. Since that time I have canned tuna, green beans, salsa, peaches, applesauce, pears, marinara sauce, dilly beans, lots and lots of wild grape jelly and other stuff. I get a great sense of accomplishment when I look at the jars lined up neatly in the cupboard.

When I moved into the old house, I was tickled to find that whoever built the shelves in the pantry made them just the right size to store pint jars and quart jars. Every single shelf was exactly the right height. I also discovered several hand drawn diagrams of the previous owner's garden plot pasted to the back side of the cupboard door. When I remodeled the room I couldn't bring myself to throw them out, so I kept them. I don't know why I couldn't and I don't know what I will do with them, but nonetheless, I kept them. One day perhaps I will make a collage of all the old items and the old wall papers that I have found since restoring this old house. But that sounds like another project!

The Humboldt Road

Even though the smoke is thick in the air and the sun is pressing down hard upon us, I just had to get out on my bike. I have always enjoyed taking a good long bike ride to get my blood pumping. Today I went about 10 miles down the highway, visiting some lonely cows along the way.

I traveled along on my vintage Raleigh 10 speed. Gus bought this bike for me when we were first married 28 yrs. ago. I have put infinitive number of miles on it and it still sails along like it did the first day I got it. I have had to have it re-built a couple of times, but usually just a tune-up is all that it has needed.
I cruised along taking the time to enjoy the sights. We live in such an incredibly diverse area. There is so much to see and do in Humboldt. Some days the adventure can be traipsing through dune grass out at the beach, another day it could be taking the kayak out to the river, and the next hiking under the canopy of a grove of 300 ft. old growth redwood trees. I have yet to see even a fraction of what this county boasts in the way of recreation.

This is a farmer putting up round bales.

The rodeo is coming up in a couple of weeks, so there are some bulls in this pasture that are used for the bull riding competition. They seem to live the good life most of the year and then they have to work real hard for a couple of days. What I thought was really funny was that these humongous animals were actually afraid of me! I could hardly get close enough to take a good photo. I told this guy that I wouldn't ride him even if someone paid me $10,000. But then I started to ponder that....could I? Would I? I don't know....maybe if I didn't actually have to go outside the shoot!

Best part of my ride? Stopping in to see the grandbabies playing in the pool. They thought Grandma looked pretty silly in her bike helmet.