A Worrier Justified

Bidwell Mansion, Chico, California- Sweet Little Wood

 M. and I had a fantastic time away while our children learned the value of having an unpaid slave about the house who does 90% of the house work without being asked… yeah it feels great to have your 16 year old admit she is so glad your back because being Mom is not as easy as it looks!

I would like to say that my worrying was totally justified!  I am not kidding that I got 2 out of 5… almost:  First of all a man DID break down and knock at our door while we were away… fortunately he wasn’t a psychopath… he just wanted to call AAA… unfortunately K. E. and J. didn’t do the things we had prearranged in case a random stranger showed up at the door.  SIGH.

And second: one of our chickens was taken.  We don’t know when but we suspect it was at night as one of the Delaware hens was particularly stupid (for a chicken): she would sit on the roosting bar all day and then get stuck outside the hutch when the automatic door closed at night.  The girls forgot to check and didn’t do a count in the evening… anyhow we found a mess of feather’s outside the hutch door and a path to where the varmint dug under the enclosure leaving some of it’s fur behind on the barbed wire.  So one stupid hen down and one coyote/fox/raccoon/bobcat well fed.

On the bright side we came home to find the baby rabbits had opened their eyes  and are so adorable!

New Zealand Rabbit kit, 14 days old @ Sweet Little Wood

They are starting to get out of their nest which makes Champagne a very grumpy Mamma Rabbit!

New Zealand Rabbit kits, 14 days old @ Sweet Little Wood

Sleepy Bunnies. So sweet!

M. and I went to Chico.  Its a beautiful town (in the middle) and a bog standard San Joaquin town on the outskirts.  M. and I were pretty happy to enjoy the time we had and explore some of the green (and sometimes not green) spaces.

Bidwell Park, Chico, California- Sweet Little Wood

Lower Bidwell Park. Bidwell is the largest municipal park in CA.

Bidwell Park, Chico, California- Sweet Little Wood

The only proof I have that I was even there!

 

Bidwell Park, Chico, California- Sweet Little Wood

A potentially grungy Highway 99 underpass painted to look like a forest was unexpectedly charming.

Bidwell Park, Chico, California- Sweet Little Wood

Little Owl. x

Sadly Bidwell Mansion was not open when I was there but I enjoyed looking around the grounds none the less.

Bidwell Mansion, Chico, California- Sweet Little Wood

Bidwell Mansion, Chico, California- Sweet Little Wood

Bidwell Mansion, Chico, California- Sweet Little Wood

Afterwards we drove out to Oroville and visited the lake and dam.  The situation in Lake Oroville is pretty horrifying: so little water! So take note LA county… your water supply is low… stop watering those darn lawns!

Lake Oroville, California

Look at the huge swathe of dry bank… at the end of winter with a 6% snow pack in the Sierras!!

IMG_6108

En-route home we stopped of at an awesome little flea-market where I picked up a collection of  Spode Fairy Dell china:  $20.  I am so thrilled!

Spode, Copeland, Fairy Dell chin

Spode, Copeland, Fairy Dell chin

I was happy to be home and in my own bed but I do miss being away  just a little:  the hotel room had the most enormous bath in the main bedroom suite without any children knocking to use the restroom, and I didn’t have to think about feeding anyone for awhile.  Oh well, back to being the unpaid house slave.

xx Joanna

Mothering Nerves

I am currently suffering from a great deal of maternal worry-warting!  So the thing is: M. has to go away with work overnight… I hate it when he goes away, he hates it when he goes away.  Our mutual spouse-addiction does not allow for separate quarters… so the plan was we could all go with him.  However the girls don’t want to go as they are in the midst of some serious Spring Break R&R and suddenly we have all these baby rabbits and baby chickens that need daily input.Ice Skating. Snoopy's Home Ice Santa RosaSo for the first time ever we have decided to leave the girls ALONE overnight. It is terrifying!

Ice Skating. Snoopy's Home Ice Santa RosaI have absolutely, ABSOLUTELY no concerns with the capability of my children to look after themselves and be responsible.  But I keep thinking up all these wildly unlikely scenarios which might require adult intervention or a complicated plan so they know how to respond:

1: someone breaks a leg or gets bitten by a snake while out rambling cross the fields and hills! (I actually worry over this one nearly daily as they go off into the blue where no cell phone signal reaches)

2: a wild critter gets into the animal’s hut in the night! (I can’t help it… I worry about this one regularly too)

3: the house catches on fire! (this one is a little more reasonable as our home is heated with wood-burning stoves exclusively but it doesn’t usually worry me)

4: someone breaks down in our driveway and turns out to be a homicidal maniac!

5: Ebola! (OK that one is pretty far fetched)

Ice Skating. Snoopy's Home Ice Santa Rosa

M. keeps trying to talk me into a cheerful state of anticipation for the first child-free get away we have had in two years because he is (annoyingly) an eternal optimist.  What the optimist in him doesn’t know is that the realist (I formally reject the word “pessimist”) in me needs to work through all the worst case scenarios.  I just have to pretend that they could happen, until I know that if the very worst case scenario happens I have confidence in their response.

Once I’ve done that and gotten far enough away from the house to warrant calling them every couple of hours I will be fine knowing that if a coyote attacks the chickens and one of the children breaks a leg chasing it off so they have to flag down a passing car that is driven by a homicidal maniac who sets our house on fire before he dies of Ebola: we got that covered!

Ice Skating. Snoopy's Home Ice Santa Rosa

Phew, got that off my chest!

xx

Joanna

A Day at The Sea

I spent 15  years in the UK  trying and failing to make people understand how diverse California is.  Northern California- and especially in the mountains- is a totally different sort of climate to Southern CA which most non natives associate with all of CA.  M.’s brother lives in Southern CA and they have had some “cold” weather into the 65 F range which made M. and I laugh as we built a fire this morning and scraped thick ice off our cars!  No kidding…  we could see our breath in the bathroom this morning.

A Day at Small Creek, Northern California @ Sweet Little WoodThe beaches in So Cal and Nor Cal couldn’t be more different from each-other.  For the most part our Northern California beaches aren’t that swim-able as we have some seriously deadly rip tides and rogue waves regularly take folks. More often than not its very misty on the coast.  But all the locals know that in spring and fall the mists lift and the Mendocino coast becomes a wonderful place of light, sun, sand and blue seas.  So sometimes we like to get sand in our shoes and enjoy the smell of salt air.  It makes M. a little homesick as swimming at the beach whenever possible is probably his family’s only real tradition.

Seaweed & A Day at Small Creek, Northern California @ Sweet Little Wood

seaweed & stones

A Day at Small Creek, Northern California @ Sweet Little Wood

Do you see the heart in the cliff face between K. and E.?

Driftwood. A Day at Small Creek, Northern California @ Sweet Little Wood

Driftwood log that is a remarkably good bench.

A Day at Small Creek, Northern California @ Sweet Little Wood

Such a typical picture. M. and J. heads together playing some game with E. in her own world but nearby.

A Day at Small Creek, Northern California @ Sweet Little Wood

M.’s stone named Mr. Bob. See… he has a little smile! Mr Bob won the “sea trials” where sadly Pink Punk and New Pink Punk were lost to the waves…

Sand in Toes. A Day at Small Creek, Northern California @ Sweet Little Wood

Black sandy toes.

Knitting & A Day at Small Creek, Northern California @ Sweet Little Wood

My day at the beach…

A Day at Small Creek, Northern California @ Sweet Little Wood

Sausages cooked on our old secondhand camp cooker.

A Day at Small Creek, Northern California @ Sweet Little Wood

A misty but bright day

Seaweed & A Day at Small Creek, Northern California @ Sweet Little Wood

more seaweed & stones

May your mists burn away and leave all your day with light and sun!

xx Jo

Giants in Autumn

Hibernation started early in the Sweet Little Wood!  We saw our chance for a long weekend and grasped it with two hands.  It was so glorious we are still floating in the bliss of a relaxing family and fun filled time.

We got out into nature which is pretty spectacular this time of year, so because not a scrap of crafting was done I will leave you with this view of our adventures: Hendy Woods in autumn: our local redwood grove.

Hendy Woods in Autumn

The Redwoods in Autumn are just coming to life.

Hendy Woods in Autumn

And evidence of summer’s abundance remains

Hendy Woods in Autumn

The heat of summer has gone and moist cool air encourages the little green flourishes to arise.

Hendy Woods in Autumn

But the evidence of past lives remain.

Hendy Woods in Autumn

And the wood cycle flourishes

Hendy Woods in Autumn

There are bridges to magical kingdoms.

Hendy Woods in Autumn

And places where the fey stalk the living.

Hendy Woods in Autumn

But take care when crossing bridges

Hendy Woods in Autumn

for the trolls are looking for lunch.

Hendy Woods in Autumn

Wonder at how the tiniest cones produce the biggest trees.

Hendy Woods in Autumn

And imagine the baby bird that found its way out of an egg the size of a small acorn.

Hendy Woods in Autumn

Its a place to sit and wonder,

Hendy Woods in Autumn

at the magnificence of creation.

Hendy Woods in Autumn

Where trees can look like lions…

Hendy Woods in Autumn

… ahem… and other things.

Hendy Woods in Autumn

Its worth remembering that bees live in old tree stumps…  for when you put your foot in a bee’s nest.

Hendy Woods in Autumn

Savor it all and enjoy the ride.

xx Jo

The Monday Project: Back Seat Designers

K. E.  and J. in Murfreesboro TN.

K. E. and J. in Murfreesboro TN.

It’s really difficult to keep children entertained for 80 hours of driving.  The road does a certain amount of entertaining but really you have to give it a hand: about hour 12 everyone has had enough of the road!  Our kids are a little old for I-Spy so these were our methods of distraction when people started to get antsy:

1: Books- unfortunately our books were gone within a day… so don’t count on more than 7 hrs solid reading if your kid has a voracious appetite for books.

2: Read aloud together: we read the bible, a digital book and magazine articles.

3: Music- there is almost no event where the soundtrack to Shrek doesn’t cause a sing-along!

4: Stop A LOT for pee breaks and leg stretching.

5: Fashion drawing competitions (admittedly that one may only be good for distracting girls but it worked great for us).

6: Make Simple Travel Scrapbooks.

The back seat fashion design competition.

The back seat fashion design competition.

Our Simple Travel Scrapbooks probably saved our trip from deadly awful boredom!  Well… and taking pictures of funny color hydrants… Oh! AND looking at dinosaurs perched strangely in random places.  How many awful dinosaur figures are there along US interstates anyhow?  They were freaky and endless!  My joy would have been complete if I could have found a funny hydrant NEXT to a freaky dinosaur!!  That would have been awesome!

Fire hydrant: Murfreesboro TN.

Fire hydrant: Murfreesboro TN.

Sorry… distracted.

Anyhow. Scrapbooks.

When we stopped and saw something crazy or cool I would capture the moment with an Instax 210 camera or Instax Mini 8 camera (more on that Wednesday).  Generally I would take three so everyone could have a copy and the rest of the day would be happily spent filling in a page.  K. E. and J. primarily used pictures, words and stickers.  To stick the pictures we used glue dots on a rolling dispenser and paper-tape in various shades and designs.  We all had one sheet of stickers to start off with but the girls bought another sheet en-route as they ran out of the other.  We picked up very few ticket stubs and paper leaflets en-route but when we did they were a great source for cuttings etc.

So come with us now and enjoy the ride- without the junk food, late night tent set ups and yelling at the GPS when it got us stuck in an insane dirt road leading to no where!!

E. had a brilliant use of  paper-tape for her cover.

E.'s Simple travel Scrapbook: cover.

E.’s Simple travel Scrapbook: cover.

K. used a lot of writing throughout her book.

K. : Arizona through Arkansas.

K. : Arizona through Arkansas.

J. wanted to make sure every single state got a mention.

J. : Arizona through Texas.

J. : Arizona through Oklahoma.

K.: roadside oddity.

K.: roadside oddity.

E. and J. had a race at every state line between their stuffed animals (Blue-beary and Ginger Puss- in case you are wondering) to be the first to cross!

E: The race to cross the state.

E: The race to cross the state.

This is absolutely my favorite page EVER.  E. has written a caption under a photo of J. which says

“Jessica- sister, best friend and most annoying person ever.”

Classic.

E.: Memphis and Nashville TN. Rock and Roll and Country.

E.: Memphis and Nashville TN. Rock and Roll and Country.

The girls love babies so my niece’s gorgeous little boy features heavily on at least three pages per book.  He is rather adorable!

J: Tennessee and time with our family- My sweet sister and brother. And thier youngest daughter, her husband and baby.

J: Tennessee and time with our family- My sweet sister and brother. And their youngest daughter, her husband and baby.

E.: Time in TN.

E.: Time in TN.

This is K’s page with 3000 miles left in our trip.

K.: The acetate pages were fun but tricky.

K.: The acetate pages were fun but tricky.

J.: In Wall Drug South Dakota.

J.: In Wall Drug South Dakota.

E: Subtly highlighting the important things in the photos...

E: Subtly highlighting the important things in the photos…

K. has an abiding love for fairy tales so she enjoyed learning the tales associated with native american sites.

K.: Devils Tower.

K.: Devils Tower.

E.: Yellowstone.

E.: Yellowstone.

Here is where we ran out of film- I had one photo each left by the time we got to Nevada and got to visit with my other sister there but we have managed to misplace them.  I hope you enjoyed the ride.  We did.  

xx Joanna

The Yarn-Bombed Road

On our journeys we camped a little more than half the nights: about a week of our trip was spent in family’s guest rooms or hotels. We only camped one place for more than one night (Yellowstone).

Yellowstone: evening campfire.

Yellowstone: evening campfire.

In all our stopping and moving on we were always arriving late and packing up camp early in fly through rests. We only had room for our small tent which is a Cath Kidston Cowboy patterned tee-pee tent that goes up in three minutes (I timed it- it actually takes longer to blow up our air mattresses).  Sadly the tent we have isn’t made anymore. It is awesome but has reached the age (maybe 8 years) where it leaks and I hand’t anticipated the amazing thunderstorms that cross the high plains of South Dakota, and Wyoming.  Fortunately in Tennessee we slept in my sister’s home because it rained… a lot.  We would have been very  exceedingly wet otherwise.

The late night set up. South Dakota.

The late night set up. South Dakota.

Due to the fleeting nature of the stops I felt compelled to leave a mark.  I’m not a person who will carve on trees or litter the country, but I wanted to leave a small something that may be overlooked till the next visitor stops and gets to smile.

I yarn bombed the road.

Kingman, AZ: KOA.

Kingman, AZ: KOA.

IMG_9953

Sheridan, WY: KOA.

Yellowstone: The Continental Divide.

Yellowstone: The Continental Divide.

I made up a simple flower- all sorts of designs are available for free but I just made it up on the hoof. Each flower took less than two minutes to make and I did them as we traveled (less time than it takes to put up our tent… I timed it).  I planted about 12 flowers.

It was fun and if you find yourself looking at a little crochet flower stuck to a random bush somewhere: maybe its mine!

xx

Jo