Thursday, March 24, 2016

Man Like Big Fire

At long last, the day has come.  Burn Day. 

FINALLY, we can get rid of old dead trees and branches that have been laying around our property.
Mark is so excited, he is practically vibrating.
 He has built his little starter pile in a good spot on a rock.  Now, he just has to wait for the clock to strike 10 a.m., which is when permitted debris burning may commence.
 Oh!  It's 10:00:01!  Light the match!
 That fire started suspiciously quickly.  I think Mark may have been prepping it.
 Oh, he is SO prepared:  shovel, chain saw, lawn chairs...
 ...newly purchased bow saw, hatchet.  And of course, the hose.

 This is Mark's kind of day.  He really wants me to participate too.
 OK, Mark.  I will place a stick, too. (please ignore large black spot on face). 
Then, I'll go make a sandwich for my great fire-builder.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Strange Toys

Sometimes I worry about our family.

We seem to have a propensity toward...striking out.

For example, here is Mae.
 For Christmas, she requested a punching bag.
 She seems to relish the opportunity to lay into this bag.
 Um.  Merry Christmas, Mae.

However, the nut does not fall far from the tree.
Here is Mark with his Christmas shotgun.
Because nothing says "Merry Christmas" like a brand new shotgun.

Except, perhaps, a new phone.
A bananaphone.
A smart bananaphone.

So yes, we have some strange toys up here in Tollhouse.

And of course, we must look to the live entertainment as well.

 Poor grey chicken, with her sole tail feather.
 Molting is tough duty.

But spring, and feathers, are on their way!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

El Nino, Me Gustas

Weeks before D.C. was buried in blizzards, we Californians were cavorting in the cold stuff.  We've been skiing at China Peak this year (awesome!) and on this particular Sunday, we got a slow start, so just headed to the snow park at Tamarack.  

Lots of snow, and people, and sleds, and trees.
 Daredevil Mae. it.
 And of course, the Scottster.
I can only imagine what happened here!
Mark always becomes the self-appointed track groomer and safety look-out
 And then, of course, he tries to bury his own child in the snow.
I'm sure she liked it, though.
I sneaked away for a quiet walk in the woods, wishing to heck I had cross-country skis.  Or snowshoes.
You know, it only takes a few hours of sledding to feel like it has been a day well spent!  A round of cocoa for all my friends!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

What is underfoot?

Mark has a new project.  Because he is resting after knee surgery.
See him resting?
It's a good thing he has some time to heal from his surgery.
Because this is quite a project!  After five years of inertia, we are finally getting around to finishing the stairs.  We will have stained oak treads, painted risers and trim, and a carpet runner.  In a true spirit of economy, Mark stained and finished only what he ABSOLUTELY HAD TO.  And no more.

So the next big step is to pick the runner.  We've been through several iterations so far.  I thought it might be fun to share, and even get some thoughts and opinions.  Recognizing that this is the decorating equivalent of sharing your list of baby names--we may choose Agatha when everyone else likes Allison!  
 So the first three are varied in texture, with only subtle variations in color.  This is Sierra Wind.
 And Holland.
 Now for the patterns.  This is Stencil.  Looking at the top two center column.
 Topkaki.  Top Left.  Looks dark in this pic, not as dark in life.
 And Alexander.  These last two are wool, so $$$$ and very plush.  These fancy ones would look kind of like this example from 

In my mind, this picture below (from Zoroury on is kind of what our house style looks like.  Except with a coating of dust and hair balls.  Especially since our white fluffy dog sleeps right at the bottom of the stairs.  This runner is kinda busy for me.  Our selections are more muted and golden, but you get a feel for pattern on the stairs. 

I need something that is forgiving.  Something that will happily conceal dirt and hair until I get around to vacuuming it every month or so, and will last for years and years without showing the single little track that people walk down when they use the stairs.  Is that too much to ask???

I'll show you the "after" shot when we get to that point.  ;-)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Rolling Oaks Launch Complex

We have some family rituals that we enjoy once the weather turns cool and the grass turns green.  Yes, we decorate for fall, and then Christmas, like most families.  But we also like to launch rockets.
Maybe it's because Mark and I share a nerdy history of working on real launch vehicles. 
Or maybe it's because Mark and Scott (my BIL) are big kids at heart, and want to share the joy of blast-off with their own kids.
Whatever the motivation, once the ball gets rolling, we all enjoy it.
Although Mae is looking a little skeptical from her perch here.
Heck, even the horses want to get involved!  They're not ours, just here to graze and not really tame, but they are SO CURIOUS about all this activity. 
Here's a launch--big success!
 Oh no...the chute is floating down into the neighbor's tree!
Back at it, packing the chute for the next launch.
 I feel so lucky.  All we have to do is step outside and do this crazy fun stuff!  Another good day in Tollhouse.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Right Stuff

Before we launch into pictures, I have a little story to tell.  One lovely summer morning, I let the dogs into the back yard, where they immediately started barking.  Looking outside, we see a big, fat rattler right next to the trampoline, coiled and hissing as the dogs danced and barked around it.  I ran outside, screaming to be heard over the barking, dragging the dogs back inside to safety.  I shouted at the girls to keep an eye on the snake.  I don't take any joy in killing snakes, but when they are so close to the house, they really have to be dealt with.
Did I mention Mark was already at work?
So...I have the girls call Mark for guidance, while I go hunt down the .22 (in a secret spot), and the ammo (in a different secret spot).  I had shot the rifle before, so in theory I was prepared.  However, that was several months prior.  At a paper circle 50 yards away.  When I wasn't all amped up on adrenaline.
The rifle looks basically like this:
If you know anything about guns, you may already see what's coming.
That scope thing on top?  NOT meant for shooting things 15 feet away.  So I couldn't see through it to sight on the snake.  Also, all I had were regular bullets, vs shot.  Apparently, you have to be a pretty good shot to hit a snake with a bullet.  Which would imply that you could see the snake in the first place!
SO...this was a big fat snake with a looonnnnggg rattle.  Which I will interpret as a sign of being old and wise.  The crafty beast went and hid in a spot where it was very difficult for me to shoot him.  He hid under our travel trailer.  So now I'm down on the ground, trying to poke/throw him away from the trailer with a long stick.  And I'm sweating and grunting and cussing, and occasionally getting a shot in before he sneaks back under the trailer.
Finally, he went down a hole.  And I was surprised to find a trail of blood behind him.  So hopefully he won't come back.
So now I can tell the rest of the story.  As you might guess, I was not happy with our snake-defense capabilities.  So we came upon plan B, snake shot in a hand gun.  And by golly, we were going to practice in a more realistic way! 
The girls drew some targets for us.
Hopefully Mae's giant viper (on the right) will stay only in my nightmares!  But I can still aim for the head.
We laid them out on the ground, just like where we would find a REAL SNAKE.
And we loaded the shot.  We all took turns.
Mae looking tough.

Abigail shows her handiwork.    
We got to see how the shot would hit a snake. Next time, now that we have THE RIGHT STUFF, hopefully I'll be a little more prepared!