Best Birthday Ever Walks all over Busy Month

The end of April and all of May kicked our asses in about 12 different ways.  We had three birthdays in our house, one First Communion, a myriad of final projects for both kids and me, dance recitals, violin recitals, volunteer events, extra classes to teach and one funeral thrown in for good measure.  May was crazy and I was happy to see it go.

One thing that was sort of sweet to see go was another year for my eldest.  Francis turned 11 in May and had (in her words) “the best birthday ever!”.  Brad and I agreed that “the best birthday ever” seems to be something that has not much to do with being around adults.  In addition, her friends are getting more emotionally mature too, so there was less drama and more fun, which is always a good thing.  “Best birthday ever” involved having three friends over to our house to meet up, drinking fancy pomegranate juice with orange wedges and sparkling water.  They tried to play the My Little Pony game that Francis invented.  I don’t know how successful they were, but her friends were impressed that she invented a game and gave her all sorts of compliments for her efforts.IMG_0326 Next stop, pedicures.  These girls are all WONDERFUL people, but a couple of them are way high-energy, so I worried about them being too crazy for the salon.  I needn’t have worried.  They were nearly silent in the salon—-wowed by the experience I think!IMG_0332 IMG_0329

At the end, the girls all had pretty, super-bright toes.IMG_0335

I took their cute toes and dropped them off on North Mississippi where they got ice cream and walked around looking at the shops.  I had a few moments of worry, not that they would be unsafe on their own, but that they might be obnoxious.  Then it occurred to me that it is a big world out there, full of lots of people; some far more obnoxious than four 11 year olds “out on the town”.  A little obnoxiousness will serve these girls well in this world where you sometimes have to yell a little to not get stepped on.  And so, on Francis’ 11th birthday, I say, “Go forth and be obnoxious my dear child!”


“Okay, Mom!”

Phew! That’s Better!

So, I do learn things in my life (every now and then), and I am capable of admitting that I was wrong (sometimes).  This week I learned that I really need to trust my dad a whole lot more.  As the eyebrow roof went on and the back walkway was framed with lovely beams, it became apparent that our remodel is going to look AWESOME.  How could I have worried that my dad would make my house ugly?  Sheesh!

The front of the house looks a lot more in scale with the eyebrow roof.  It is funny how it looks a bit wonky to the eye because the weather sheathing isn’t straight.  Don’t worry folks!  The roof is straight.  The big opening will have two huge carved doors.  Can’t wait for that!


I was pleased that I was able to sink a glazed tile in the entryway before the concrete dried.  It was a small victory that made the slab more mine.

This is a view looking into the studio (standing in the front door opening).  From here you can see storage under our stair and where we intend to hang bikes.  The kiln will go in the left hand corner (not visible).  The back door is going to the back deck and the kitchen entrance to our house.IMG_0312

Here is the view back from the backyard.  You can see the stairs up to the sun deck and the sauna off to the right.  I am really looking forward to the back covered deck area.  It is sort of a pass-through area, but I imagine that I will spend a lot of time there during the rainy weather.  I have to put myself in time-out sometimes, so it will be excellent to be able to still the rage within without being rained on.

Yes, the stairs do look like a massive slide right now.  I assure you that they will eventually be stairs.  Right now we just have the water-proofing membrane.

Funny story— last weekend I climbed up here barefoot (using chimney rock-climbing techniques).  Once on top, I saw some small pools of water and started pushing them around to see if the deck really would drain down the “slide”.  Only then I realized that I had made my surface completely impassable, and to try to go back down the slide would mean a broken neck.  I was trapped upstairs and had to knock on the upstairs window to get back in the house.IMG_0317

This area looks sooooooo pretty!  I am going to find some pretty lights for it too.IMG_0318

But back upstairs—here is the view towards the front street.IMG_0320

And here is the view back towards our house.  Just think, I will be able to clean that sky light now!IMG_0322

Things are moving right along around here.  Round about July or August, we expect to have a giant party to celebrate our new addition…..not so ugly after all!

On the Bike!

After a year of scooting (on her SKUUT), I begged Inez to try the bike with pedals again.  She didn’t want to, but I had thought she was pretty dang close to learning to ride it last year.  And now her legs are far too long for the Skuut.  Two minutes and she was off and rolling (pretty fast really) down the street.  It was so awesome!  And her big sister was fabulously supportive.

Madina is obviously next.



Lewis Got Purple Hair

Francis’ 5th grade class wrote and performed an amazing play about the Lewis and Clark Exposition.  It was truly impressive; funny, informative and engaging.  Francis had fought for the part of Lewis, standing in front of her peers and giving a speech that she worked hard on.  Her classmates were unanimous about giving her the part.

IMG_8140Sometime around here, Francis identified that now that she was a soon-to-be middle schooler, she really wanted to dye her hair some bright unnatural color.  Remembering my days of wild appearances, I said, “Of course you do!” and “let’s get you an electric guitar too!”.  Actually I asked her to finish being Lewis first.  The day after her performance, we picked up a box of Splat hair dye and began the long process of making her a purple head.


Of course I am biased, but I think she looks awesome.



Any Snow is Good Snow

Snowpocalypse is now winding down in Portland.

It is steadily raining now and the snow looks sad and bloated, like a Slushy with all the syrup sucked out.

Day two, it was fresh though, and even the dumbest little incline at the neighbor’s house offered a super-awesome ramp:


You can do a lot on a broken skateboard.  Francis wondered why people buy snow boards at all.


Too bad that you crash into parked cars at the bottom of this!IMG_7876

Something about the snow blanketing everything just makes us want to walk out to lunch.  I love living in the city for this reason.IMG_7896

Hilariously, as the snow makes everything in Portland grind to a halt, it occurs to me that cities all over the US have more snow for longer and yet they manage to keep their schools open and government running.  Oh well!  I like the general panic that comes over our town when it snows.  Who really wants to go anywhere anyway?IMG_7905

Oregon Caves to Redwoods

This trip has developed several themes after 4 weeks.  One is sandwiches out of the back of the car.  I guess that isn’t really a theme… it is just something that happens over and over again.  Libraries in small towns, Visitors’ Centers where we ask questions to people who seem to just be WAITING desperately for someone to ask them questions, and peanut butter in the hatchback.  Speaking of, the Prius Fatty has been really good to us on this trip.  We like it a bunch.  A check engine light went on in Ashland because we exceeded the mileage before the next service, but besides this, the car is doing great.
ingridsandwiches On Friday morning, we left the hazy smoke of Ashland and traveled east to Cave Junction.  The way north to where we met up with Hwy 199 was our ONLY stretch of I-5, (besides the half mile that we’ll be on when driving to our house in Portland).  Brad noted that none of our trip was along I-5 thus far as though that was an interesting chance, but I planned it that way.  It is just an awful road.  The sooner I can get in a giant bank teller cylinder and shoot myself to Eugene to visit family, the better!

We were on our way to Cave Junction to see the Oregon Caves.  Brad had been there before (twice!), but now that I have learned his great love for caves, it made sense that he wanted to share this experience with the kids.  (See?  You do learn new things about your partner after 15 years!)  The kids were sort of whiney starting out.  I am not sure what they wanted, but it initially wasn’t caves.  (Maybe it was milkshakes?  All the whining sort of runs together for me.)   We met friends from church in the parking lot.  This was completely by chance, but really fun as we then made a big tour party for the cave.  Our ranger was young, smart and cute in a small-town Oregon sort of way.cavetour Brad loves the caves, and the kids love to be in caves.  I sort of fight a vague panic of being in tight spaces.  All this crawling around and ducking and such makes me feel a bit trapped.  The caves are full of gorgeous geologic forms.  It makes sense to me why this is a monument.frosting We left the caves sort of exhausted.  All that stair climbing and being cold and (for me) suppressing panic can really wear you out!

A very long drive later, and we descended into the California Redwoods.  The main camping park with all the great trails and tall trees and such was full, so we ended up on the other side of Crescent City in the hills at Mill Creek Del Norte Redwoods State Park.  It was lovely, but our most expensive campsite yet ($35 plus an $8 reservation fee!).  Maybe this is why I couldn’t quit griping about the dirty bathrooms.  It occurred to me that I would actually like it if bathrooms had a cleaning closet with mops and brooms and such.  Then I could just clean up myself instead of tolerating the yuckiness.

Best part about the campground was that it was surrounded by huge stumps and moist trees and cool stuff for the kids to climb on.zephyr stump And I felt happy to be back in the stumpIt was nice to set up camp and know that we would be there a couple days.  Our first full day exploring, we took the Old Stage Coach Trail up to Stubb Grove.  This “road” is a gravel/dirt track that is incredibly dusty.  The road winds between trees in a really unlikely way.  You look up ahead and think you won’t possibly fit, but when you get there, you do.  We took this drive with our windows down at about 8 mph.  It was so amazing to imagine the experience of people riding in a stagecoach through this incredible forest.  Each tree seems larger than the next.
stage coach road You have to stop every now and then and jump in a the stump For perspective:first stump We kept looking for a good hike to take us into the trees, but we didn’t want to squeeze in with all the other tourists.  The end result was that we kept hopping down these short little paths that dead-ended or rejoined the road.  After a lot of jumping back and forth, we found a path that led to a creek that fed into the Smith River.
hike It was quiet and pretty, so we ripped our clothes off and jumped in (you know, like you do).  My parents were sort of back-to-the-earth in that way, so getting naked in a river if it was only your family around was completely acceptable.  Whereas I would not get naked anywhere else, when I see a gorgeous creek or swimming hole, it is the first thing I want to do.  I am sure there is something deep about this—-like being connected to my primal, human nature.  That sounds deep, so it must be true.

Francis has become quite the swimmer on this trip.  We found an excellent rock to jump off, and Francis and I took turns plunging into the cold water.  Okay, so she did it more than me.swiming Brad didn’t get naked.  He just read his book and laughed at us.bradreading I also spent a good deal of time reading/snoozing under a clump of grass.  I had my Sun magazine along, so pondering large issues while laying on my back alongside the creek all seemed quite perfect.what i saw Across the creek, the trees considered us.bettertreesabove riverUp above goes on forever.  Why stand up if you can just look up and see your friends?treesin the air We eventually needed to rejoin the world and get back in the car.  Amazingly, we had spent 3 hours at the creek while never reaching our destination.  Mind you, Stubb Grove was only 10 miles from town!

One thing about the Redwoods is that it is pretty hard to capture in pictures.  I am not a great photographer, so I realize that my lack of skills makes it worse.  A better skilled photographer could adjust for the shady unstories of trees and dark spaces.  The contrast of the sun shooting through the dark trees also left beams of light and hazy areas of brightness.  I had a lot of pictures of Brad where his head was just a orb of sun.  Anyway, some things are hard to capture because of light and dark, but some things in the Redwoods are just weird and hard to describe.

For example, many really huge trees have all these hollow spaces underneath and inside but keep on growing.  Here the kids have crawled into a tiny hole and popped up inside a tree.  I am not able to go in the hole, (even Francis had to commando crawl on her stomach), but have aimed my camera up in the hole to capture their gleeful expressions.  They are INSIDE a tree and perhaps their faces communicate that better that if I could capture it in a picture.kidsin tree At one point in Stubb Grove, we found this playground of trees that had fallen against each other.  So many places to climb!  The kids were quickly up in the air 10 feet.  I couldn’t capture that fact and their cute faces all at once, so I settled for cute faces.cute kids Jungle gym!jungle gym And the trees are huge.  But you knew that.that's how big

treesin the lightWe drove out of the forest well satisfied with what we saw.  At the beginning of the day, the kids had almost orchestrated an uprising.  In their minds, they had come across sun-blasted Eastern Oregon for the last month and were ready to play at the beach.  They could see the beach from our drive, but we hadn’t taken them there yet.  And here we were insisting on going into the forest to see the trees.  Brad and I had to be firm and present a unified front—trees it is going to be.  The rest of the week would be beach time.  Our last full week of traveling would be along the Oregon Coast, culminating in 3 days in Manzanita to play with friends Jason and Angela and boys.  In other words, the end of the trip would be all Beach—all the time.  After a long day of trees, we did take them to the beach though.  Right away the kids got down to finding hermit crabs.


They collected them and put them in a little tide pool to watch over.  Yes, the kids love “pets”.franciszephyrhermits

Even snails are cute to them.

After a full day of trees, swimming, and beach, one of our regrets had been that we couldn’t make the 30-something mile drive to see the Roosevelt Elk herd in another part of the park.  No matter.  While heading back to camp, we saw this lovely lady along the road!elk The next day, we packed up camp in the foggy early morning mist.  Inez ran off to find her pet to say her goodbyes.  She gave her sweetie a little shower in the tap to wash off all the bark dust from their playtime, she air-kissed the little girl’s “cheek” and we were off—back to Oregon where surely we do not have such exotic pets as these.  (This sort of looks like a sushi plate, doesn’t it?)!inez's pet

The Cowboy/Runner Jamboree (Last Day in French Glen)

Last day in French Glen and we find ourselves with not a whole lot to do.  But hey, isn’t that a horseshoe pit?  Kids are mystified.

IMG_6799 With not much going on and no particular plans, we find ourselves joining up with the locals in shucking corn for the barbecue that night.  There is a rodeo event in town AND the Steen’s Rim Run, a high elevation 10K.  The two groups are converging on the French Glen Hotel in the evening for a huge barbecue.

IMG_6802 When the shuckin’ is done, we think we might take a short walk to the historic P- Ranch.  It was where Paul French began his legacy of buying up ranch land and “colonizing” the eastern corner of Oregon with cattle and hard working cowboys.  The guy sounded sort of like an extremely effective jerk, and died when a neighbor shot him after an argument—not so shocking that he should come to an end that way.  One of his best tricks was to buy land around someone else’s ranch and then create fences such that the owners had no actual access to their own land.  I think there are laws about this sort of thing nowadays.  Jerk.IMG_6806 Our walk was hot and dusty and MUCH further than I had thought.  When you can see something across the valley, it looks so close.  The kids were not pleased.  Once we got to the old barn, we were instantly swarmed by mosquitoes and bitten horribly.  We took off running to escape, but all suffered from awful bites.  The Paul French Barn.

IMG_6819 The evening’s festivities began to take shape when 30 bales of hay were delivered.  Cowboys began to saunter in.  I found myself REALLY wanting to photograph all the ranch folk—they were so charming in their huge belt buckles and dusty hats— but I didn’t want anyone to feel self-conscious.  I was embarrassed that I saw them as such an oddity, (but surely we were oddities too– no one knew what to make of the short-haired girls in our family).IMG_6822 People came to the barbecue in all sorts of conveyances, although most horses were in trailers ready to go home at this point.IMG_6823 Cowboys playing horse shoes!  How I wanted to go closer!IMG_6836 The kids quickly found each other and began dismantling the seating to make forts.  Ranch kids are STRONG!  They can lift a bale of hay no problem.  These kids were pretty fascinating to watch.  Some of them were serious scrappers (Zephyr got pinned to the ground in a conflict over building a giant “bird nest” or a fort).  Brad and I watched some of the rough play unsurely.  Do we want Zephyr to get beat up by ranch kids?  Was it play or earnest?  (And sometimes, frankly, Zephyr deserves it.  It might do him good to get punched by a ranch kid…. might make him less obnoxious really.)

After initial troubles, the kids discovered that many of the kids were very nice.IMG_6835 I was dying to learn a bit about rodeo, so I chatted up a sweet Mormon kid about his team roping event.  He was chagrinned because his team had done so poorly.  The runners started arriving as the band wound into Merle Haggard tunes.IMG_6832 Ahhh French Glen!IMG_6813 After playing in the hay and running about all afternoon, the kids fell asleep hard and fast.  Sometimes it is nice to take the days as they come.  Apart from the mosquito death march, this day was much better than anything we could have planned.  Hay, cowboys, runners, and the best barbecue I have ever had.  Thank you French Glen!IMG_6838

Baker City and Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

The kids are loosing their previous excitement about blogging.  Maybe that is okay as we are about to head into pretty empty country without the ability to update as often.  Before going though, we saw this—trailruts

It is the wagon ruts where the Oregon Trail went by.  We have Ezra Meeker to thank for the preservation of portions of the Oregon Trail.  In 1852, he came out on the trail with his family.  In 1906, and again in 1910, he traveled the Oregon Trail in wagon and ox cart, putting up markers and memorials along the way.  He was concerned that people would forget the heritage of the trail.  He was in his 70s when he did this.  What do I intend to do when I am 70?

The Oregon Trail Interpretive Center is truly amazing.  As you read the real accounts of pioneers, and you look closely at the many choices they had to make, the immensity of their decisions sort of settles over you.  It is sort of a sinking feeling of terror— like you couldn’t possibly have the right information to know if you should hire an Indian guide to cross the Snake river, or take a ferry, or try to swim, or sit on the shore and wait.  What to do?  The stories are much more affecting than I had imagined, and although I thought I knew a lot about our pioneer heritage, I learned many new things.

I also learned that the kids have no patience for hiking three miles in the burning sun just to see faint lines where the wagons went.  And my husband only had a tiny bit more patience for this activity.  Who knew?

After our time with the Masons at the Interpretive Center, we bade goodbye to them as they headed south to the Steens.  Michael bursting into pioneer song made the Interpretive Center MUCH better, (although it bewildered the staff who maybe thought he was trying to angle for a job there).  He had family come out on the Oregon Trail and even remembered what year it was.  That made me jealous.  We don’t know much about my ancestors.



Oh Baker City!  I think I sort of get you, although everything is closed as it is Sunday and Monday.

oxenkidsWe leave Baker City today (Tuesday) and head out to Granite and Sumpter.  We will be camping tonight at Clyde Holliday State Park and venturing into the John Day Fossil Beds tomorrow.  We need to make some hard decisions about what to see there, as the whole thing is huge and we won’t be able to do Painted Hills, Fossil Beds and Sheep Rock.  I am voting for less driving and more hiking, but you know how that might work out!

On Thursday we head down to French Glen and spend the next few nights wandering around the least populated (by humans at least) part of the state.  You might not hear from us for a while, but trust that we are having a great time, getting really dirty and exploring the world.


Awesome Trip Around Oregon Day One by Inez


We putted in our bags.  We bring them downstairs and putted them in the trunk.  We drived away.  We’re going to Aunt Kay’s house.  (Arlington)


We’re going to go on a family trip and we’re not going to leave anybody around somewhere.  And we’re not going to leave them behind.  And we’re bringing our kids with us.  It’s going to be a fun trip and a long time.


We goed to the sturgeon ponds and we sawed fun times.  And we sawed this big giant fish and we sawed a blind fish.


(We’ve been here a million times, but it never disappoints.  Bonneville Dam has an amazing fish hatchery that is full of gorgeous things to see and FEED—Ingrid)


There was a blind fish.  We petted them.  We were not suppose to pet them.  We fed them.  I loved the fish because they don’t bite you..


Family time picture.  We’re at…… I don’t know!  Sturgeon fish?  DId I say that right?  (Bonneville Fish Hatchery).


I had orange soda for lunch.  Dad put the straws in the trash.  We were in Hood RIver and we saw a fish.  And Francis had a soda with lemons and Zephyr had a soda like me.  (Double Mountain Brewery, Hood River—-Ingrid)


We were in a golf truck.  And I drewved with Aunt Kay.  (Arlington, Oregon)


Aunt Kay and Uncle Jack gave us potatoes and gave us some cucumbers.


This is a picture of Dad and Uncle Jack.


I was digging at a river (Arlington, Oregon).  Dad was swimming with Francis and Zephyr.  I was digging.


We’re on to Pendleton Wednesday—Ingrid

Next blogger, Francis!

Things I Can Get on My Bike

Six kids.

IMG_6315(I didn’t say that I went anywhere….)