Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Work, Projects, and General Pigheadedness

Teachers report tomorrow, officially, but of course, I have been there the last three days because I am a perpetual volunteer.  We had freshmen orientation and two days of tech stuff to do, but tomorrow is the first real day of teacher prep. 

Honestly, I have been so focused on helping build huge units for a couple other grade level teachers, that I am going to have to jam to get my own class stuff together.  Mostly, the first week is getting to know what the kids already know and what they can already do, so we don't bore each other or frustrate each other and I have plenty of ways to do that stored up in my head that don't take a lot of handouts or props, so I am not freakishly worried. 

However, it's been an eventful few weeks for our second child.  He rented his first apartment.  He bought his first car.  Even though these are good things - they are still big, expensive steps - fortunately, he has a good programming job and in two weeks he starts his other job (programming is flexible, or at least this job is).  This is a good thing, because I think he wiped his earnings - a room mate is coming back from studies abroad and owes his half of the rent, deposit, and propane, but that's a few weeks ago.  Not bad, though, for a kid who isn't quite 18.  We did help with the car (with the insurance money from the car he was driving in the accident), but he did the rest himself.  I am safe telling you all (because he doesn't read this blog) that his sister bought him dishes and silverware with her own birthday money.  I surely have a treasure in all my kids - but that youngest one is amazingly kind, generous, and loving. 

My quilting project is finally on a roll - right when I have to go back to work!  I am just doing a nine patch variation, so I am just doing a nine patch square each night, then I will have to piece that together, make the quilt layers and get to quilting.  If I work a little bit every night, I should be done by Christmas :)!  It's just a lap quilt because that's the size of the big piece I am going to use as the back piece.  I bought all those fabric scraps at a garage sale in June;  I am actually impressed with myself for starting it.  Too many times, I have started something only to not finish it.  I am not a crafty person.  This quilt will be completely hand stitched because I can't, for the life of me, figure out how to reliably work the sewing machine.  Pathetic, isn't it?  I think the machine hates me, because when I touch it, everything goes wrong.  It likes my daughters better....

The horse project has been hampered by fairly unrelenting rain.  That picture in my last entry of blue skies over the white fence was a very rare occurrence (I believe that there were only 3 sunny days this whole cold, wet summer).  I have done a lot of ground work in the stall, but Gibs doesn't do well in hand in the rain - no concentration at all.  This, of course, meant we had to do our work in the stall - the "stall" was really designed to be two stalls and a six foot walkway - the whole roofed area is 20 X 24, so it isn't as useless as it seems.  Basically, we've been working on 1) stand there so I can walk up to you 2) keep your nose in front of your chest (and not in my space and not in the "avoid" position) 3) stop freaking out when I make weird, sudden flapping movements in your direction - or when chickens do or when the wind blows funny  4) put your hooves up without fear and without shifting when I reach for the back hooves - and stand quietly when I hold them up for some time - working on standing for the farrier.  5) stand at liberty in the stall and allow me to touch your head without avoiding.   So far, we've had super progress with #5, so-so progress with 1,2, and 4 and one successful day with #3. 

I am determined to make this horse at least minimally reliable - mostly because someone told me it wasn't possible.  I am so darned pigheaded sometimes. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review of the Week

Well, it was a doozy.  One of my children entered a new decade - nothing like that to make you feel old!  Two of my children were in a car accident (everyone's fine- except the car - and it wasn't their fault).  Three of my children accompanied me for a picnic and to the local community theater for a production of Cinderella (which included 3 of my former students).  And all 4 of my kids were home last night - these days that's almost a miracle.  

 One of a handful of beautiful days (in a sea of rainy ones) in the last 9 months.  It was so nice, I washed the car, the three dogs, cleaned animal housing and did a little gardening - just to avoid having to go inside. 
 We went to Volcanoes National Park - I took this from the car, so it's a little funky.  These are Ohia and Hapu'u. 
 More drive-by pictures. 
 It's hard to tell, but this is a crater we're looking down into - obviously an old one, with trees that size.  We picnicked here before heading to the local community theater production. 

 My birthday girl and her friends at dinner. 

 One of our presents to our daughter - a modelling shoot. 

Friends and adultish-child, again.  

 Lovely former students in costume!  They were GREAT. 

One of my Buff Orpington hens checking out if that camera in my hand might, by some chance, involve food. 

Last week of Summer Vacation for me!  I hope we get a few more sunny days! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Wouldn't you know, it is actually a sunny day and I am inside baking.  This has been a cold, rainy summer and, as insensitive it is to the many farmers suffering drought, I am so tired of being damp and having cold feet in the middle of summer.  However, I promised one son that I would make cookies and the other one bust out with a plea for hot dog buns - and I wanted apple pie.  So I made all of them. 

All of this meant that I have been in the kitchen for the last several hours while the sun shines outside.  I just have the worst timing - yesterday would have been perfect for staying inside and baking: it was drizzly and cold all day.  Instead, I went for a five mile walk, played with Gibby, and went to look at a car with my almost-18 year old (and stood in the rain talking about said car - Hilo people, we're used to rain). 

I need a weather crystal ball! 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Little Gardening

In spite of (or perhaps because of) a few erstwhile hurricanes passing east and south of us, we're having somewhat drier weather - up here in the gloomy rainforest that doesn't always mean sun, but I did get out this morning to weed and add compost and coffee grinds.  This garden just isn't producing - I think it is the sheer lack of sunshine we've had since, well, October. 

I did pull 4-5 turnips that managed to grow, a few stunted collards and sweet potato leaves and a few bok choy leaves off the one plant that didn't bolt and steamed it all up for lunch.  I planted some radish, more turnip, bok choy, kai choy, and a handful of mystery seeds that got all mixed up on the bottom of my seed storage container, as well as some green onions.  We'll see if anything grows. 

My seduction of Gibby continues - I whistle him in about an hour before regular dinner time.  He's probably getting a little ready for bought feed at that time, but the sheep aren't in to compete for attention, yet.  Yesterday, he came cantering in and after making a big deal of him, I put the halter on and did a few ground work exercises.  Then, I just let him go and went on my daily walk/run. 

It's so tempting to just hop on, but I think I need to restart him like I would start a colt and see if that works a little better. 

I still find myself surprised by grief - no place on this land doesn't have a memory of Ohia, but keeping busy helps. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I find myself going to the pasture gate and almost yelling, " Ohia!"  It stings, but I am coming, somewhat, to terms with it.  My husband really helped me out this last week - taking care of buying the lime and dealing with the burial.  I just couldn't go back there - I won't be able to for awhile, but I am going to plant a yellow-flowered Ohia Lehua tree there when I can.  We have lots of the more common red-flowered ones around, so I want to distinguish his resting spot with something different. 

I had a long talk with Gibby Crazy Horse about how he had to be much less crazy because I miss my Ohia and I am so lonely without him.  It seemed to work a little, because the next day on a whim I whistled to him in the pasture.  Usually any attention means he moves smartly away from the area where humans are, but he ran right in and ate grain off my hand.  Yes, I am aware the grain probably had more to do with it than my speech - but this horse could only eat cubes off your hand prior to that - and only if they were big enough to grab without touching your palm.  Mostly, he stand as far back as he could from you and stick out his nose and generally freaks out when he muzzle touches any part of your hand, knocking the feed onto the ground where it becomes available for a grab and run move. 

I tested the process again that evening and the next day, and he was still coming in when called and still eating happily out of my hand.  He will actually stand by the gate with his head over it and eat.  This is a BIG change. 

It took him a bit longer to come in this afternoon when I called him - in fact, he waited until we left the gate.  Things are always two steps forward, one step back with this horse.  I swear he's had a traumatic brain injury....which is why I should sell him, really.  What good is a horse that only I can ride - my farrier succinctly said while urging me to "put him on craigslist - today, Nancy, today."  

Today, though, I got away from the farm.  I had to take my daughter's friend to urgent care.  I was cleaning out a terrible gash on her knee with my "animal doctoring" skills, and thought, "This is just so deep and so wide open, we're heading to town with this one."  If it were a horse or a sheep, I might have just cleaned it well, bandaged it, and given a course of antibiotics, but this is a young woman - even my husband (Mr. My-Kid-with-Gaping-head-wound-only-needs-a-butterfly-bandage) said she needed stitches.  While we were waiting for my daughter to come pick up her friend, we went to school and made a "What teachers REALLY do when kids aren't there" movie with another teacher -apparently, we make silly movies, just like the kids do..... 

Friday, July 6, 2012

My Ohia

Let me tell you about my horse. My Ohia.  I bought him 10 years ago when he was 13 months old.  He was on Oahu and I shipped him here on the barge.  It is quite a journey - it takes 24 hours and you have to be there at the dock so early.

The night he was traveling, I wrote a short essay entitled "Ohia's Traveling" which was published in a collection of teacher writing (which is MUCH less of a deal than it sounds).  I haven't thought about that piece since the publication came out, but now that Ohia's made another kind of journey, it comes to mind.

When I picked him up, he was with another yearling who had at least 2 hands on him (a warmblood filly) and he was such a funny little guy - he stuck out his tongue when he was standing around and looked like a goof.

He was so small, he just walked out under the stall pole and headed out north - trying to get home, I guess.  I was at work and my husband hand to trudge through acres of waist high grass trying to find him.

I still have a scar on my hand from when he pulled the rope through my hands when it came time to geld him.  We thought we'd keep him intact because he was a good-looking and good-natured fellow, but he started to take exception to my husband and (for some odd reason) our car.  Oh, and one of the six pine trees in the front yard - just the one, never knew why.  Gelding took the hatred for the car and the tree out and left the good nature.

He never got over sticking his tongue out of his mouth and he retained his basically kind and loving nature.  When I rode him the first time, there were no fireworks - he basically looked around like, "What're you doing up there?" and didn't want to walk in case he hurt some body.  He figured it out some - I never had any fireworks with him.

Unfortunately, rides were infrequent because of his chronic laminitis - he developed it when my boss' horse broke my fences and took her baby and mine for a four hour run.  But he was always kind and willing and patient.  He would greet me any time he saw me and he would follow me around like a dog.

When I scratched his neck, he would loop his head over my shoulder and try to scratch mine, too.

When I said good-bye to him yesterday, he rested his head on my tummy, like he always did and kind of made his whuffle at me.  He was so sick, but he still had such a good spirit.  My poor boy,  I hope you are in peace now - out of pain and running free somewhere.

I will miss you so much.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

I wish I were personally further along on the Independence from Grocery Stores journey - but the garden just didn't fly this spring.  Fortunately, we have a year around (with tweaking) growing season - but it's pretty clear we need a bigger greenhouse to supplement the small one up against the house.  The rain just killed everything but the turnips and sweet potatoes and the little bit of extended sun we got bolted the lettuce and bok choy.   For some reason, my jalapeƱos weren't as successful as last year, either - even though they were in the greenhouse.  It's a learning process, I guess.

As far as the actual holiday goes, we're spending it much like we usually spend our summer days - except today, I got my husband to go on my "walk/run" with me - that meant I ran a lot farther than I would have on my own (as opposed to walking) but also that I covered about 1.5 miles less distance.  We cleaned out our closet of old papers - I found papers from students who are now adults.  In my defense, they were in my old teaching portfolio, but still....  All this cleaning meant a big burn pile.

I am in the middle of baking the hamburger buns for dinner tonight - since my mixer broke, I had to knead by hand.  I forgot how much I like doing it.  Off to do some more cleaning - and I hope those clouds don't roll in, because I'd like to pull Gibby out for a ride later.  I will let you know how it goes.