Friday, February 3, 2012

In which the sky is sunnyblue, and something gets lost (but now is found)

Early-on during our ride in the !SUNSHINE!  today, Duana figured out that Hana is so petite that her ears absolutely LOOM when she takes photos through them.  Her solution:
No, dude.  That posture doesn't look dorky at all.
 Since Fiddle is proportioned in dragonesque fashion, her ears remain at a polite distance in my photos. 
Classic photo: lovely ears but not right up in my lap!
Look at all the bright-sunnyblue above and complete lack of sn*w beneath! 

Bliss, complete and total bliss.

We took bunches of photos, but mine are mostly the same:  ears, ears, ears.

I did snap a few pictures of Duana and Hana.  Hana is very patient with Du's need to not trot while doing stuff with camera-phone.
Tell me you're taking photos, not playing Words-With-Friends!
We played the Follow-Me/Follow-You game to try to get Hana over her "dire" (fake) fear that Fiddle would leave her alone in the wilderness. 

We do this on a two-track logging road:  Hana and Du are in front, and then I say "okay, go" and Fiddle accelerates to get in front until I say "bring it back" so that Hana can pass us and be in front.  Then I let Fee go fast again, and so on.  When I'm holding the camera, I'm not giving any cues other than the verbals.

Fiddle has terrible wicked ears when she is passing, but they perk right up as soon as she is in front!  She also never broke out of a trot: she would extend when I told her to "go", and slow down when I asked her to slow.  I love that.  
It was so pretty and clear, we decided to ride up to the Monument to see how far we could see.

We could see Far. 
Far:  You can see it from here.
The strip of land just under the sky is Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.  In between the Canadians and us is visible Snohomish County and Skagit County.  You can also see Whatcom County at far photo-right.  If I turned the camera to photo-left, we would see King County.  Not bad for one hill in a big Swamp on a clear day!
The view is so much nicer with ears in the fore-ground!
Hana figured out that standing still so Du could mess with the camera photo

meant that she could graze.  And then, Duana could take photos of me and Fiddle!

This picture looks kind of wonky because we're standing on a slope!

Facebook photo!
 A jogger joined us up at the top for a few minutes, and took our picture together.
This is the least goofy-looking picture
 The apple in Du's pack was very popular.  Some of us were more enthusiastic than others.
 We all took bites. 

Then I discovered that the keys to the truck, which usually ride in the front pocket of my pack, were NOT tucked into the front pocket of my pack.  Damn.

Instead of taking the usual loop-route back to the trailer, we backtracked the way we had come, making the entire journey about 14.75 miles (just-so-happened that today was the day I brought the GPS!)
Du thought Hana was tired. 
I think she was tired of looking for the stupid truck keys!
 We were mostly on open logging roads, so we didn't bother walking the entire thing--if I can't see a set of keys on a logging road while we're trotting, I've got bigger problems than missing keys. 

But we didn't find them....
Can you say "Aarene is a dork-muffin"?
Until we got back to the trailer: there they were, safe and sound in the lock of the trailer door.  Our good friend Katie said that she had parked right next to us and never noticed the keys.

We had decided that if the truck and trailer had been stolen, we weren't going to admit that I might have left them WITH the trailer--we were going to assert that they had fallen out of my pack.
Fortunately, we can save that story for later.  Everything was right where it should-oughta be.

And that is only one symptom of Life being Good.  Ya know?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In which our sn*w is gone at last, but we don't stop thinking about it

I think my dislike of iconic winter weather isn't so much learned as inherited. 

My parents didn't live in Whatcom County during the "Storm of the Century" in January 1950, but I'm sure they heard about the month-long inundation of freezing temps, broken pipes, disconnected power and phone lines, and cancelled school.  Certainly I heard about the hazards of bad weather when I was growing up there in the 1960's and 1970's....and was dismayed enough to develop my own healthy loathing for winter in the Swamplands.
1950: This milk truck is utterly stuck 
To see more pictures of the 1950 "storm of the century", click the photo.
 Today's issue of my hometown newspaper contains a thrilling account of the blizzard of 1950.   Jan Jursnich was only 15 years old and living in what we locals call "the north county" when the blizzard hit.  Years later, she very wisely moved to Davis, CA where, climate change notwithstanding, she is unlikely to have to cope with extreme winter weather.  She still remembers that winter, though.  I wouldn't be surprised if she still spells sn*w as a cuss word, either.  Here are a few quotes from the article:

The winds blew down telephone lines throughout the county. Half of all phones didn't work. Crews worked around the clock to restore service, their work complicated by the tangled frozen lines. The crews abandoned a phone company truck, one and one half tons, when it became buried in the snow.
Using rotary plows, bulldozers and road graders, work crews slowly opened highways and roads to small towns in the county. Grateful folks brought coffee, cocoa and sandwiches to the drivers as the equipment crept slowly past their homes.
In some places the county hired logging trucks to push the snowplows. They chained the two together, old tires tied to the bumpers of the logging trucks to protect both vehicles.
A supply of milk trucks, fuel and baked goods and State Patrol vehicles inched behind two bulldozers from Bellingham, reaching Everson at midnight. The convoy continued to Sumas, passing our house on the way, completing the seven-mile trip in five hours.
One more:
Farmers were particularly hard-hit by the storms. Milk trucks from the Arden plant in Everson, and Darigold in Lynden, couldn't travel the roads to pick up milk from dairy farmers. Milking machines, powered by electricity, were inoperable during periods of power failure, but in those days herds were small and could be milked by hand.

Farmers poured the milk into 10-gallon cans where it froze, popping off the lids; stored it in their bathtubs; or just dumped it. They lost several days of production.

On chicken farms, the brooders couldn't be heated and thousands of chicks perished. The Nielsen family provided water for their chickens, drawing it by hand from their wells, pouring it into 10-gallon milk cans and pulling it on a sled to the chicken coop. Their flock was ready to go into production when the first storm hit, but without light or heat, the chickens were forced into molt.
You can read the entire article online HERE.

This account makes me grateful for:
  • A certified woodstove and R-30 insulation in the roof, which keeps our house at 74 degrees through the cold weather.  The woodstove also gives us a way to cook potatoes (delicious!) and boil water to thaw the livestock water tanks when the power goes out.
  • My kids, who keep the woodbox full!
  • A goodly supply of lamp oil, and a Scrabble board
  • 4-wheel drive...and a tractor...and Jim, who drives the tractor with minimal cussing
  • Polarfleece. 
  • Cell phones, which allow me to call work and say "nope, not coming in" for several days in a row!
  • My horse, who is always willing to haul me through the weather.  (I was pleased that she didn't have to do anything this time except look pretty and eat hay.)
Life is good. 

Especially when the weather doesn't require a shovel.