Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Brain Dump... and a Bit of a Rant

Todays Friday Brain Dump is brought to you by...

1.  The Interrobang- have you heard of this?  It's a question/exclamation mark together.  And all I can say is it's about time!

2.  Can I just tell you how disappointed I am that my grocery store is moving everything around?  What on earth has gotten into these people?  I was just there yesterday and recognized one of the owners of the chain, directing the folks doing the shuffling, and almost gave him an earful.  Because - hello? - do you do the grocery shopping for your family?

No, I think not.

Because if you had ever, even once, filled a grocery cart you would know better than to put the bread first, where it will get squished under everything else you're about to buy.

Kerry suggested I just start at the other end of the store.

Kerry is hilarious.

No.  You go right first.  It's scientific.  Even in countries that drive on the left, they know that people will go to the right first.  Which is why they put all the refrigerated and frozen things way off in the back, to the left... where you finish.

And another tip?  Among the refrigerated things?  The eggs should go last.  Not before the six gallons of milk I need to buy today.

They need a woman to head that committee, because the men Don't Get It.

3.  And speaking of grocery - and other - stores - our county recently banned (single-use) plastic shopping bags.  Crazy environmental busy-bodies.  I don't mind so much at department stores, but reusable bags for groceries?  Ewwww.

I've seen some pretty nasty looking ones, and you know why?

That's my clothesline.  Apparently, I am in the 3% minority of people that actually wash their bags.  Now you might feel all virtuous and noble, because you're washing your bags, too.  But what about the people in line ahead of you?  The checker had to touch their filthy bags before handling your groceries.  How noble and virtuous do you feel now?  A checker at Wally-world last week told me a man had handed her his reusable bag, in which his dog had vomited.  I think I would've shoved the bag over his head, and him out the door!  I think I'm not cut out to be a checker.

Dog vomit aside, the study (University of Arizona and Loma Linda University) found coliform bacteria in about HALF the bags, and E. coli in 12%.

One researcher claims that after San Francisco banned plastic shopping bags, there was a spike in ER visits (and deaths) related to these bacteria, but I don't know if that's substantiated.  Although a reusable bag appears to have caused a norovirus outbreak, among a Beaverton, Oregon soccer team.

Done ranting now...

4.  I have a turkey in the fridge, all thawed out and ready to cook, but I got distracted and it's too late to start.  Maybe tomorrow?

5.  We're done picking blackberries for the year.  They're still out there, but they're not the same.  Must be the cooler nights.

6.  Does anyone know what kind of tree this is?  Yes, it's real.  No, it's not a fruit that I've ever seen people eat.  Looks like something from Dr. Seuss, if you ask me.

7.  I've been trying to grow these for years, and this is the first time the deer have left them alone long enough to get to this stage.  Thank you, Liquid Fence.

Chinese Lanterns

8.  Gunnar and I had a good walk yesterday.  Apparently I had left my camera on a different setting and didn't notice until we were home - oops - and my pictures didn't quite come out the way I hoped, but still...

He always likes to visit the ducks at several nearby ponds,

... and quickly spotted this less common visitor, as well.  It's a Great Blue Heron, a bit out of focus - sorry!

9.  I just like the fall colors, coming out around my neighborhood :D

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Home's Cool

I would like to think that all of our homeschooling is Fun and Creative and Inspiring.

But the truth is, there is more than plenty of Ordinary.

Times tables, and semicolons vs. colons, and quadratic equations, and there/their/they're.

And sometimes, even though I've reminded him and put a sticky note in his book directing him to write his answers on a piece of paper, one boy in particular keeps forgetting and writing in his book.  Thankfully, Kerry has an electric eraser :D  Though that didn't help when I sat down to work with Gunnar on grammar, and we did two pages...  of Tate's grammar book, which they can write in.

In ink.

And none of that is a big deal.  Pencil marks can be erased from books.  And Tate's education isn't going to come crashing to a halt because Gunnar and I did two pages of hyphens and italicizing.

And when things seem to be getting kind of mundane, we do have fun and creative things to do :D

Guess what country Tate and Gunnar and I have been studying?

And guess who made this piece of art, all on his own?

Gunnar :D

Love it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Did I mention that Wyatt and Tate were gone last weekend?  Their CAP group cooperates with our county's Search and Rescue, and have an annual SAR training exercise each fall.  I think they've been looking forward to it since last September.

Friday evening and all day Saturday were filled with training exercises in preparation for the big scenario - a simulated airplane crash - on Sunday.  I'm warning you ahead:  if you're easily grossed out, feel free to avert your eyes, because they had some awesome "make-up" to make the victims more realistic.  Not sure if they told the cadets ahead of time or not!

Down at base camp, Wyatt and a couple other cadets prepare to use the "Christmas tree" - an antennae that helps them home in on a signal.  They're not here to consult, but I would guess it would help find an airplane's "black box".  Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

They have quite a bit of equipment.

Up a logging road, far above the base camp...

... they were preparing the injuries.  I don't think she was one of the official "victims" - maybe they were just practicing?  She's having far too much fun to be a victim ;D

But check these guys out.  These men are not CAP guys - I think they're from our local SAR group, helping out for the weekend.

The cadets were taught to triage the victims into four classes.
Green victims have non-life-threatening injuries, and can wait.
Yellow victims have injuries that could become life-threatening if not attended to soon.
Red victims have immediately life-threatening injuries and will die if you don't do something.
Black victims are either already dead or mortally wounded, and don't get treated.
That sounds cold-hearted, but you treat the ones you can help.
Though the guy on the right looks worse, I think the man on the left was the "black" victim.

The silver tarps on the downed tree represent airplane wreckage.

Now the cadets arrive on the scene.

Wyatt is checking out the victim with internal bleeding, who is about to stop breathing and die.  Meanwhile, the second victim, on the right is the pilot.  He's the "green" victim (compound fracture - arm) but was instructed to be a pain in the rear, and to continuously distract the cadets by demanding attention and treatment.

Tate's group had just bush-whacked up a very steep hill filled with logging debris, and arrived on scene just in time to...

... help get the victims down a steep bluff and onto the logging road.

This was quite a logistical challenge, requiring a sort of belay from a tree.

And there's nothing like the pressure of being continuously observed and evaluated by SAR / EMTs.

And where did this victim come from?

Meanwhile, Mr. Pilot has been splinted, but is still (acting) annoying and delusional.

Wrapping things up - there's my boys :D

They're a great bunch :D

And a bit goofy!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Catching Up... Mt. Baker Flight

Surprise!  Someone went flying, and it wasn't the boys!  A friend from church invited Kerry up in his private plane, on a gorgeous, if slightly hazy, day last week.

If you're local, you may recognize this spot... it's the fairgrounds, looking very bare at the moment.

And if you're thinking of heading to the corn maze, on Hannegan?  Here's your map ;D
I remember one year they made it in the shape of a cow.  This year? Not quite sure...

And here's our friends' organic dairy farm.  Can you see the cows, out in the field?

It's always good when the pilot appears calm and relaxed ;D

He's a mountain guide, as well as an ER doc, and knew Kerry is interested in climbing local mountains.

We see Mt. Baker from all over the county, yet it looks quite different from above.

And these are the Twin Sisters, nearby.  Not as high, but very rugged.

My favorite :D

Catching Up... Trip to Rainier

Right before we started back to schooling, we took a quick trip down to Mt. Rainier (because nothing says *fun* like driving four hours each way, through a major metropolitan area, on a holiday weekend, to see my in-laws).  Fortunately for the Kerry and the boys, they were able to get in some hiking, while I holed up at the IL's house, prepping lessons for the first couple weeks of home school.

But I'm not bitter ;D

Actually, the boys spent a ridiculous amount of time doing this...

... looking for these...

... and putting them in here, and then releasing them.

But the main event?

Kerry and I did this same hike about twenty years ago, but my memories are a bit fuzzy.  They were headed for a peak that started with "P" - either Pinnacle or Plumber.  Not certain which one.

Pretty sure I don't remember the trail being that steep, but that's the beauty of memories, right? ;D

Wyatt and Tate were always out in the lead, but Gunnar wasn't far behind.

Lots to explore.

Fearless little mountain goats... that's what I call them ;D

It's always a grind, getting up to the summit.

But the views... the views!

That's Mt. Rainier, in the background - the tallest mountain in Washington state, at 14,410 feet.  I know the Rockies are taller, but our mountains start at sea level, y'know?

 Yes, that is my child, in shorts and a t-shirt, in the snow.
This is normal here, as the snow stays year-round at high elevations, even when the temp rises to the 70's and 80's :D

All that (frozen) water, melting slowly through the summer months, keeps everything green and growing.  And combined with the high altitude, it means wildflowers are often at their peak near the end of summer, long after they're finished down lower.

These purple lupine have a delicious, sweet scent.
The reddish-orange flowers in a previous photos are Indian paintbrush.

Of course, rocks must be climbed.
If you look between the boys, just above the rock, on the mountainside in the distance, you can see Paradise Lodge - several trail-heads take off from Paradise, including the main climbing route, via Camp Muir (obscured in the clouds).

Melting snow keeps little (and big) creeks flowing all summer.

It's too much beauty to take in all at once!