Archive for the 'Adventure' Category

The orchard

Ken has gone on a bit of a gardening kick this year. So far he’s planted 150 strawberry plants, five rows of beans, six rows of corn, several native melon plants, several squash plants, six watermelon plants, four apple trees, and two cherry trees. The man does nothing by halves. This is all well and good when one lives somewhere where things… you know… grow. With actual dirt (not gravel), water that falls from the sky, and a manageable number of wild animals that also want to eat anything green. But no, this is New Mexico, so anywhere you’d want anything to grow you have to add organic matter to the soil, you have to water everything (by hand, with a bucket, if the irrigation system wasn’t designed for all this – which it wasn’t), and you have to enclose everything to keep out the voracious animals.

Hey, if it was easy it wouldn’t be any fun. Right?

So, because we have a herd of deer and numerous birds, if we hope to ever get any fruit whatsoever off of a fruit tree, it must be completely enclosed. So, we had to build an orchard enclosure. Thus follows the tale of the orchard enclosure.

A proud man and his baby apple trees.
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Digging holes. Don’t let this fool you, I dug a lot of holes too. Just no photographic evidence.
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Holes for the trees done!
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So, not only do we have to build an enclosure, it has to be designed and built as a timber frame structure because this is what Ken wanted. Which means that Ken hand shaped mortise and tenon joints on the end of each board. This is a very time consuming project, but hey, it’s his time, not mine. However, if you were to ask me, there’s a reason that screws and drills have been invented.
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Structure laid out and ready to put up.
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Fruit tree holes dug and amended. We have to do serious amending in order to get anything to grow in the gravel around here.
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Vertical poles set up.
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So getting all the poles fitted together with their respective mortise and tenon joints and pegs put together up 12 feet in the air with only the two of us was incredibly difficult. At one point a 2×4 dropped on my head. There may have been tears shed. It was not a good sort of a project. I may have proclaimed that I would never ever help him build another timber frame structure as long as I live.
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However, what does not kill us makes us stronger, and it eventually stayed together on it’s own with the help of many, many straps.
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Since, Ken has built a gate and enclosed most of the structure with deer netting and chicken wire to keep the deer and birds out.
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The apple trees are thriving, and haven’t been eaten by anything since Ken got the netting up, so it seems to be working. Those better be really freaking good apples.
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Long beaches

It’s not all work and no play around here, although sometimes it feels like it. We took a long weekend and went to Long Beach, CA (because I had a conference, so it sort of was all work) in early May. We stayed at a lovely family’s pool house we found on Airbnb. They had bikes we used to ride to the beach for day, stopping by Trader Joe’s on the way for picnic fixings, which was totally delightful. It was sort of chilly and raining off and on (and they say CA is in a drought?), so we didn’t go in further than our knees, but we had fun walking around, watching sailboats, and watching people fish and surf.
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The next day we visited the aquarium in Long Beach with Ken’s dad, which was fine. Not the best aquarium I’ve ever seen, but they had a petting pool where you could pet rays and some little sharks, which was fun. We then went to tour the USS Iowa battleship, which was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
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All that gunpowder I’m posing with was needed to shoot one of these projectiles out of one of those big guns in the previous picture. I cannot imagine how loud and unsteady the ship must have been when they had all six of them going.
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After the battleship we visited the maritime museum that’s right nearby housed in an old ferry terminal. It was interesting, and once they kicked us out for closing time we ate at our favorite seafood restaurant: Ports O Call. Delicious. On Sunday morning, before I took Ken to the airport to catch his flight home, we went to see the space shuttle Endeavor at the CA science museum. That was the other highlight of the trip. It was totally amazing. So is Ken’s face in that picture, if you can see it in the shadow.
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After I dropped Ken off, I drove up to Santa Monica to kill some time before going to a metallographer friend’s house for a pre-conference dinner party. In Santa Monica I found lots of stores, lots of tourists, lots of fancy houses, and the end of Route 66! If I follow this road across two and a half states, I will be home!
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Surprise!

My dad is turning the big 60 in a couple of months, so my Mom came up with the idea that Ken and I should show up in Carson City, Nevada to surprise him while they were on vacation visiting friends during Mom’s spring break a couple of weeks ago. So we did!

The plan was that we would arrive in the middle of the night, which was not really optimal, but those were the affordable flights by time we decided everything. However, our flight was delayed and we ended up spending the night in Phoenix instead, and didn’t get into Reno until like noon on Friday. Mom let me know that they were hiking at a waterfall, so we showed up at the waterfall and hiked, expecting a short, half mile hike to find them. Well, a mile or so up a pretty significant hill in the hot sun I got a call from Mom,

“Where are you guys?!” We had seen them on the trail above us, so I was fairly sure that we were on the right trail. And we were, I could see her on the next little ridge on the phone with me. Turned out Dad had voluntarily sat down under a tree and taken his shoes off, so we were actually able to catch up to Sir Hikes Alot. He was extremely surprised! Actually, when we were about 20 feet away on the trail, he looked over directly at us, then looked away. He said he thought that guy looked a lot like Ken, but that Ken didn’t belong on a trail in Nevada.

After a lot of giggling, explanations, and triumphal declarations of successful surprising despite missed flights and our friends and hosts who Mom was sure were going to spill the beans, we headed down the (much shorter) trail back to the car to find us some food, since we hadn’t had lunch and it was nearing 2:00. Mom and Dad took us to a very cool restaurant in Carson City, Red’s Old 395 Grill, where we ate some lunch. We then went on another hike up another canyon where Ken spotted this little guy.
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That evening our old friends from our hometown who were wonderful hosts to us all fed us a delicious meal and we played games for a while. The next day we went skiing on the penultimate day of the ski season at Diamond Peak resort. This is what it looks like under the lift when you ski the penultimate day of the season. Not particularly encouraging.
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However, there was enough snow to make it off the lift and down the mountain, and the view was totally worth it.
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Gorgeous. Lake Tahoe is very beautiful, and I think the guy’s pretty good looking too!
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Company was good too.
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Because the three runs that were open weren’t actually that entertaining and were frankly getting rather bare and treacherous by 2:30, we called it quits early and went down to a park in a town just inside the CA border, where we noted that the water was at least 8 ft lower than the docks. Evidently there really is a drought.

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On the way back over the mountains to Carson City we had a good view of the ski area and the one run down from the top. Yes, that thin ribbon of snow is what we were skiing on. It definitely got thinner throughout the day.
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That night our hosts again cooked us a fantastic meal and had a little birthday party for Dad. We spent the evening again playing cards, then all left for our respective homes early the next morning. It was a short visit, but tons of fun. Special thanks to our Carson City hosts for enabling all of this, you guys are great!

Of rodents and cheese

There are these mountain rats that are really cute (and Heidi thinks they’re tasty) but they really can’t live in our garage and collect all of our shiny items in their nests. Between the actual pack rats and my husband’s pack-ratish ways, there was a giant mess in the garage. I should have taken a before picture, but it was just so terrible… The car barely fit and there was rat and mouse poop everywhere. This is the product of nearly 2 straight days of cleaning over the weekend. By me.
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I plugged a bunch of holes, both from the garage to the house, and from the garage to outside, with either metal sheet or steel wool. Hopefully that keeps them from getting out. Happily we have vigilant and capable cats, so the mice and rats don’t live long if they come in the house. So far I’ve killed 4 mice and a rat in the garage, but the mice laugh at our attempts to get rid of them. That is a mouse nest in a box of mouse killer.
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In more pleasant news, I also made a soft cheese (lactic cheese) over the weekend, and it turned out quite tasty. It’s sort of the consistency of soft cream cheese, but tangier, and it made for delicious filling for crepes for Sunday breakfast along with some blueberries. I’ve also mixed it with some Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute spice mix, which is very tasty on toast or crackers.
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Trains, skis, and Nepalese (food)

We took a somewhat last-minute trip to Durango over MLK weekend. While there, we took the narrow gauge steam train up the valley.
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The train track was quite impressively built. I’m not sure that this picture does the sheer drop to the river justice.
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The train was extremely cool.
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Next day, we skiied. Now those are real mountains.
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It was a nice day, the snow was decent, and the views were spectacular.
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That night we ate the most amazing meal. We ate at Himalayan Kitchen in downtown Durango. We had yak, among other things, and it was SO good. If/when we go back to Durango we’re going to eat every meal there. On MLK day we drove out to Wolf Creek, which was fantastic skiing as per usual. They have the best snow there. Too bad it’s a bit further than I really want to drive in one day there and back for skiing.

Christmas vacation part 2: in which we play inside, mostly games.

These four extremely blurry people are my four sisters. We were the oldest people playing at this indoor jump park by like… a lot. But we had a lot of fun!
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It was extremely obvious which ones of us had been 1. good at gymnastics and 2. on the dive team in high school. NOT ME. These two, actually.

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Some pictures from the inside of the cabin.
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Charming happy fellow in the back row there.
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Some people have no respect for a man’s mustache.
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Here are Ken’s siblings, we did see them too, although they weren’t all in town for all that long and most of our activities were more of the inside variety, during which I am less inclined to take pictures.
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My grandpa and step-grandma visited for the end of the week. I don’t know when the last time I saw them was.
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My brother-in-law organized a bonfire at my parents’ house and invited a bunch of friends from way back when. And then we went home to regular life, which is much less exciting than being on vacation.
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Christmas vacation part 1: in which we play outside in the snow

We went to Washington for Christmas and New Years, since our families are both there. We were able to see all our immediate family members, and looking at my pictures I can divide our time there into two segments: The part where we were outside in the snow, and the part where we were inside playing games. Not a bad way to spend a winter vacation.

We spent my birthday (my 30th, if anyone’s counting. I have no angsty words of wisdom or philosophizing on that subject. I’m excited to be 30.) cross country skiing with a portion of my family.
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The sledding hill provoked some apprehension.
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You would think that having my picture taken against a white background such as snow would make me look as though my skin has color to it. Evidently not.
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Somebody has a boyfriend.
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Sunset on the way home.
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We drove further north up to a cabin and spent some more time in the snow with my family, missing only one brother-in-law. This was the view. Mom wanted to come stay for a month, which is sorta weird, if you’ve seen the view from HER living room. Guess there’s not usually snow outside of her living room.
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We did some downhill skiing, cross country skiing, floundering through downed trees on an un-cleared trail trying to cross-country ski, ice skating, game playing, hot tub sitting, and laughing uproariously. Twas a good time.

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Somebody brought this green face goo up to the cabin. It triggered quite a bit of the aforementioned uproarious laughter.
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