Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fun and Old Friends

It was a perfect weekend for a spontaneous, fun pizza party with "old" friends. Yes, we may all be considered old as far as age goes, but these are old friends in that we go back many years in our friendships.

We met through raising children together and have remained friends throughout the years. It is seldom that you find yourself in a situation these days where between the four couples we have been married over 163 years. In fact, my husband and I have the fewest years with only thirty nine. There have been children and health issues through the years and yet the strength of the marriages has held up well.

We made it a very easy dinner with bruschetta, homemade pizzas, salad and cheesecake. The pizza parties are always fun because everyone gets involved in making them. The choices for toppings vary tremendously from one person to the next and there are always many laughs and bragging on whose pizza tastes the best.

Preparation is crucial and fun. There is definitely a technique to getting the dough to slide off the peel into the wood burning oven.

Hubby tending the fire.

Whose is best???

Enjoying the food.

I have also been working a bit in my "playroom" this week. I have been making burp cloths for a baby shower for my daughter. These are made out of flannel with embroidered sayings on the back side. I am sure they will be put to good use in another month and a half. Everyone is so excited for the big day and it is such fun not knowing what sex the baby will be.

#4 son, DIL and grandson were down for the weekend and we enjoyed their visit. The baby is getting so big and has definitely found his voice.

The only down side of the weekend was that the water heater went out. We are fortunate enough to have installed a tankless water heater in our new addition last year so we did have warm water for showers in one bathroom. It was just a little inconvenient to have laundry and dishes to do and no hot water. Amazingly, once I called for repairs, the young man was here within a half an hour. Yeah!

Since we will be having friends come in from England this week I will be away from the computer for a while. I may get a chance to check some blogs, but I do not anticipate a lot of time. We will be enjoying some more "old" friends.

I hope that everyone will enjoy the last days of summer and look forward to the upcoming fall season.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Show and Tell

Kelli's Show and Tell is always so interesting. If you have not checked it out you certainly should. Kelli is one of the most talented gals out in the cyber world these days and she is so generous with all of her ideas.

Since I have amazingly not taken any pictures this week, I thought that I would share a picture of a leaded glass window that I made years ago. This was made in the 70s and was made for a great aunt, Agnes, who was an avid hunter.
Agnes was a character. She had moved from the lush farmlands of Iowa and settled in a harsh Californian desert town near Blythe. She was a wicked Cribbage player and could shoot pool better than anyone I've ever known. Agnes definitely lived off the land and we were always amazed at what we were served at mealtimes. Thanks to Agnes I have eaten beaver, turtle, rattlesnake, quail, wild boar and pickled eggs.
She loved this glass piece and when she went into a nursing home for the last few months of her 94 years she insisted that I take the piece back home with me. It now hangs in our office window.
At the time that I made this window, I was working with several contractors and making windows for different homes and restaurants. The hobby that I loved turned into a job for me and I was thrilled. I had to eventually get a partner and together we worked on one 12,000 sq. ft. home that required one hundred and eighty six windows. It was HUGE! The house was a showpiece and was featured on a television show demonstrating various artists working together. The talented people that I worked beside on the project were amazing. One was a Dis*ney animator, one a tile artist, one a painter who painted an incredible picture of an English village on the garage wall complete with dogs yapping at the car wheels. It was just a wonderful yearlong project.
Leaded glass fascination died off somewhat and I now work on smaller projects just for fun. I do not miss the hectic pace of production, but I do miss the interaction of all the wonderfully talented people who I was blessed to meet.
I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fishing and Tortoises

One final photo of the new hatchlings as they are sunning themselves in the morning. All are now hatched and eating on their own so they will be going to their new homes this week.

Our fishing trip to the Sierras was wonderful. The children (and adults) made some wonderful memories that will carry them through the years.

First fish!!

We started going up to the same campground in the early 1970s. It is a spectacular place to visit with incredible mountains, pristine lakes and a nice campground. When we first started going up it was a first come system. Nowadays one can make the reservations online and be guaranteed of getting a spot to camp. This is a nice change because the location is six hours away and rather difficult to make a change with so many people going.

We always went up with another couple, Ken and Barb, whom we knew from our Navy days. There were many laughs and great memories made. They brought their daughter who was the age of our sons and she was a champ. She would gladly clean all of the fish while the boys happily observed. We keep trying to arrange for them to join us for one of our trips so we can make more memories with this next generation.

It was wonderful this year as the children are now old enough to go down and fish on their own. It is soooooo nice when you do not have to spend your fishing hours untangling fishing line. The older children now help the younger ones.

Nightime stories and sm*ores around the campfire are always a highlight of the trip.

Heating rocks to warm the sleeping bags before we crawl into them. Does it look familiar, Barb?

All were ready for bed early and some even fell asleep before dark.

Who could tell that the new parents were missing their little guy the first time they were separated from him?

Our sons left a few days early and backpacked into the campground. Starting at an elevation of 7000 feet, they ascended to 9700 feet and had many tales to tell once they arrived. Their first night was spent at the trailhead near their vehicle. During the middle of the night they were awakened to a bear attempting to break into their vehicle -- less than ten feet from their tent. I know they must have been a bit more apprehensive about the remainder of their journey after that. Again, many memories were made. Here they share pictures with Dad.

Some of the best things about the trip are returning home, climbing into a warm shower and sleeping in your own bed. The tent sleeping in the cold is getting harder each year. Perhaps it is just because I am getting too comfortable in my life. Each year I say that it will be my last of sleeping on the ground, but I surely would hate to miss the great times.

In other news this correct tub has been delivered and installed!!!! So, thirteen months, many battles, wasted time and $$$ passed, we appear to have a functioning tub once more. I know for a fact that I would never buy an Aqua*tic appliance again and will now work at putting the bad memories behind and enjoy my relaxing baths.

And now I must go and check out what everyone else has been up to this week. Thank you for visiting.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

And Hatching Continues

The hatching continues. At this time in posting, we now have two completely out of the shell and another one who just pipped this afternoon.

This is the progress after forty eight hours. We can now see the darling face, one forward arm and one hind leg. Notice the yellow yolk sac is still visible.

Next twenty four hours - yolk is now mostly absorbed and the baby walks away from the shell. Remains of the yolk sac can be seen on the lower plastron. The shell has been folded in two while inside the egg so it will take several days for it to become completely straightened out. Don't they look as though they are made out of porcelain?

Next day.....sampling some food for the first time.

This whole process will be repeated for each one and it never ceases to amaze me. As you can see, each shell has some distinct features so it is possible to tell them apart.

We have adoptive homes for each one of the babies. The one thing that people interested in them must realize is that these tortoises will live to be over 100 years old. It is certainly not a small commitment.

On the non-tortoise side of living......

Pattie and I went to the county fair today. It is such a wonderful fair and this one did not disappoint. The quilts and other displays were fabulous. It is completely inspiring to see what others are working on. I came home with a million ideas for my "next" quilts.

It is incredible to think that Pattie and I actually met through blogging. I really enjoy getting together with her and getting to know her better. She is an incredible gal who does a ton of volunteering in our community. Be sure to check out her inspiring blog when you get a chance.

I have been able to spend a little time in my sewing room working on a mini quilt this week. I have always had the desire to do a black and white quilt. This is what I came up. It is a little subtle but then has a shock of color in the poppy. I was thinking of naming it "Clarity Through the Fog." Any other ideas?

The garden continues to show off it's colors. This is my tuberous begonia. The color is just striking and it is huge as well.

This is a pot of streptocarpus that I have grown for many years. The original belonged to my father and it is always a very showy plant in my pot. It has been divided many times and continues to be just a fabulous plant.

Friday we leave for our annual family camping trip. We camp and fish up in the Sierras at an elevation of 9,000 feet. I am always amazed at how winded I get just trying to do anything up where the air is so thin. It is always a good time, but I dread the sleeping on the ground in a tent. After doing it for forty years, the bones are not what they used to be. Plus, and this is a "biggy," it is cold up there. I really do not like being cold. But, we will all go and we will have many laughs and make great memories.

I hope that everyone has a fabulous weekend and I will fill you in on baby count when I get back.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

We Have Pipping!

The anticipated day has arrived. Our tortoise eggs have started to hatch. Yesterday we saw several crumbs of the shell on the ground next to one of the eggs. The process will take about three days to complete, but it is great fun to watch the progress.

Each baby has a pipping tooth to break the shell. Once we notice that the shell is pipped we move the egg to a hatching tank.

That tank continues to provide the heat that was used for the incubation period, but it also has a smooth surface for the process to continue. Waxed paper is put under the egg and the egg is stabilized on top of a disc - one of the kids old toys. This prevents the egg from rolling over as the baby is emerging from the egg.
This is twenty four hours after pipping.

Over the next few days we will see just the nostrils from the small hole. It is during this period that the baby tortoise is absorbing the yolk sac which it will live off of for several days. We once had a baby who was way too eager to be free from the egg and ended up "sitting" on top of the yolk for the several days that it took to absorb it. As you can see, and please pardon the blurry photo, his feet did not even reach the ground. It's tough to get around that way! In the photo he also still has some egg membrane stuck to his face.
Gradually the egg will develop cracks throughout. As the baby stretches out, the egg shell falls away. Since there is still a small yolk on the plastron (bottom shell) the wax paper provides an area where the yolk will not stick and rupture which could kill the baby.
Once they are completely free of the egg they do a lot of soaking in shallow water. Their shells are very sensitive to the touch and they "jump" each time they run into each other. They are also very high maintenance during the initial outing period because they climb over everything and end up flipping themselves upside down.
I try to imagine them hatching in the ground. They would have to go through all of the above, make it to the surface and then be prey to every bird flying overhead. I guess we baby ours.
I will keep you updated on the progress.