Camping Facilities

We recently got back from a week of camping.

This is the sort of news that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for.

There are the people who hear my family (as in Mom/Dad/Brother/Sister-In-Law/Nephew) were along and get a bit wide eyed.

There are quite a few people who hear we brought the boys (boys in my case always refers to my dogs) and raise an eyebrow questioning my decision making skills.

My boys, re-named “Fish Dog” and “Snail Boy” by the end of the first day due to their respective new odors.

There are even more who find out we brought all of our supplies to an island (Okay, this year it was actually a super long skinny peninsula, but it felt like an island) by boat and make some sort of surprised exclamation.

And then there are those who inquire and find out that our toilet facilities consisted of a nice long trail with a raised toilet seat over a pit in the woods and declare that it would never happen in their world.

Fortunately we only had a bit of rain (with awesome double rainbows as a reward for all the wet) the family got along well (and also there was Rum), the boys were fairly well behaved (if stinky), my brother and my dad had motor boats so we didn’t have to canoe all the stuff in (which was very nice) and so it was really quite an excellent trip.

But…

I wasn’t totally in love with that open air bathroom.

It wasn’t the long walk up the trail through the woods. That was quite nice and usually populated by cute tiny toads.

This is not a tiny toad, it’s a tiny tree frog. Toads are cute, tree frogs are cuter. Sorry toads.

It wasn’t the open air experience. I’ve been a camper all my life, a “throne” with a view is excellent perk.

It wasn’t the mosquitoes- well sometimes it was the mosquitoes – but it was pretty breezy so they weren’t much of an issue.

This face had nothing to do with bathrooms and everything to do with the smell of dead snails. Not coincidentally they smelled just like my dog Snail Boy.

It was the lack of locking door.

At home my kids, like everyone’s kids have magic sensors every time I go into the bathroom. In case it’s been awhile since you’ve had kids or you’ve yet to experience the fun, let me explain.  Once a mother goes toward the bathroom their magic sensors pick up on it and they come down with severe cases of “questions that must be immediately answered” or break out in rashes of “crisis’ that aren’t”. At home there is a door, and it locks and yet it’s still hard to break away from the children.

See how happy she is? It’s because her mom wasn’t trying to go to the bathroom while this picture was taken.

At the campsite there was nothing but a long trail.

I was at their mercy.

Our “island” home.

Good thing I like camping.

 

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Easy Orchard Mowing

This spring we upgraded our riding lawn mower and replaced our broken tractor all in one fell swoop with the purchase of a Steiner. I’m not exactly sure what it’s truly classified as but I like to describe it as the love child of a riding lawnmower and a tank.  The Steiner and I have been getting along fabulously. I’ve been using the blade to level a spot for the pool, moving dirt with the scoop bucket, towing my chicken and duck houses into new spots, all by myself, and mowing the paths through the orchard.

Of course all those things had to come with an occasional Diet Coke break!

Now, because of this fantastic plan we found, where you purposely don’t mow your orchard until July, (Best plan ever!) to help naturally (not to mention more easily) control nasty things like apple scab, today was the first day I was going to mow the whole orchard with it.

I started the day with confidence. The mowing deck is more than twice as wide as the old riding mower! It mows in reverse and the mowing deck is attached to the front so it can go under low hanging branches, I was going to be done with the job so quickly!

(Just in case you were wondering that was a bit of ironic foreshadowing and breaking out some cynical laughter here would be completely appropriate.)

But, I’m me… so I was starting the day without one of the two belts on the mower. But, in a rare case of foresight, I had two new belts waiting and the one I needed to replace wasn’t even the one that required taking the mowing deck off to put on.

I put my new belt on. Put the old belt on. Stepped back. Scratched my head. Swore. Took both belts off and put them back on the right way.

I was up and running!

The far side of the orchard where the earliest, least tasty and mushiest of our apples were ripe. I ate this one anyway. Sometimes it’s the principle of the matter.

I headed to the orchard, I mowed one, nice, wide, pass all the way to the far side of the property when the other belt blew.

That belt, was the belt that required taking the mowing deck off. I drove all the way back.

I took the mowing deck off. I got the belt in position. I put the mowing deck back on. I put both belts on.

I was ready to go!

I had to take all three dogs to their vet appointment.

After taking all three dogs to the vet the kids who had been playing with a friend quite nicely up until now decided that they were unsatisfied with everyone and everything in the world and that only swimming in the pool in the backyard would solve their issues. Like any mom worth her salt, I made a deal. Cleaning for pool time. I’ll be in the orchard, come get me in 30 when the rooms are clean and I’ll watch you in the pool.

I’d get so much mowed in 30 minutes, it was going to be fine.

(Cue laughter.)

I jumped on, headed down to the far end of the property and moments later there were children waving their arms. A smoke detector was going off and they smelled smoke!

Back to the house I went where there was no smoke but there was indeed a smoke detector going off. I stood on a chair and pushed the “hush” button. It didn’t hush.

I pushed it again.  It didn’t hush.

I repeated this process adding in frantic twisting motions to get the *&^% thing off the ceiling while four girls yelled “helpful” advice at me over the noise of the beeping.

Eventually the beeping and the “help” became too much. I abandoned finesse gave a yank and pulled both the smoke detector and the screw holding it onto the ceiling off. This caused it to stop beeping. I’m not sure why, my only guess is that it could sense that my next step was to smash it with a hammer so it decided to behave.  I gave it a serious eyeballing, just in case it didn’t get the message, and threw it on a shelf, sniffed around for smoke, checked to see that we did indeed own other smoke detectors that were not going off and went back to my mowing job.

Oddly enough I didn’t get much more mowed before it was “time” for the girls to swim in the pool.

Time to swim turned into time to take the friend home turned into time to make dinner…

Eventually I made it back on the Steiner and as the sun was setting I finished up mowing the orchard.

Mowing the orchard all at once.

Super easy.

So fast.

*sigh*

I love the Steiner but I still hate mowing.

 

How Are The Girls?

You know when you run into people when you are just about to pick out the best of the red peppers and they ask how the kids have been?

And you know how when they actually know your family they seem to want to know more than, “Oh they are all good, Yeah, super good,”?

And you know how it’s hard to describe three kids and how they’ve changed in the last few months in 30 seconds or less in the middle of the produce section because, even though your fellow, friendly shopper cares, 30 seconds is actually all the time they have to talk about it?

It’s a conundrum right?

But I’ve got a plan.

For the next month or so I’m just going to show anyone who asks this picture.

“How are the girls?”

“Oh, good. Yup good. *scrolling through phone pictures* …  yeah this is them:”

Sums the three of them up just perfectly.

Summer Heat

I’m not a big fan of summer. Here, where we have four distinct and wildly different seasons (Mud, Jungle, Perfect and Cold), it doesn’t even make it into my top two.

In the winter when temperatures dip down low I go outside and instantly wake up. The frigid air is bracing making certain I know I’m alive. I’m ready to explore and go and do and conquer the world! Or at least have a quick adventure before I go read a book during the extra long night.

In the summer I go outside and the heat feels nice.

For 37 seconds.

Then I melt into a puddle.

A puddle of lethargy and

apathy

and

despair

and

sweat

and

never

want

to

move

again.

But, there are things in the summer worth fighting the heat for. Beach visits, canoe trips and swimming pools (which not coincidentally are all things that involve water where one can cool off) and a few non-watery activities like picking these:

For a bucketful of wild black raspberries I’ll sweat and swat bugs for a long time. Well, at least twenty minutes.

I’m not a big fan of summer.

But, today the girls and I ate wild black raspberry pie with ice cream for a late, lazy, summer breakfast and summer seemed just fine.

 

Flying Through Summer

I’m flying through summer sort of like this Purple Martin. 

It might not be prudent to fly for too long without looking where you are headed but when there is so much going on around you how do you even have time to look ahead to the next week?

Tonight was the first night in the 16 days the kids have been off school that I’ve had a breather to look around and start picking up the house… and the garage… and the yard… and the trucks…

It was like an archaeological dig.

On top of the couch was the bag of dress clothes I wore to the funeral of a family friend this morning. Hiding under that was the miscellaneous items the kids dropped on their way in the door from the summer solstice party we were at yesterday. The garage was heaped with the camping things from earlier in the week. And under it all was a thick layer of capoeira debris from a solid week of workshops and events. Drum making materials mixed with extra instruments on the mantel, cord dying equipment still on the table, boxes of un-sold shirts by the stove and stinky workout clothes in all the corners. Feed for the new goslings can be found under the camping equipment in the garage. And if you dig deep enough in the truck you can still find the remains of the tools we brought north to build bunk beds at the family cabin. Buried beneath it all on the table was a mountain of papers the girls brought home on the last day of school.

The fridge is mostly devoid of food and the laundry, clean and dirty, is piled high. But the good times have been plentiful and now I’ll have some time to work on the mess we left in our wake…

 

… but first I have two weddings to celebrate…