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!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring Strolls

Spring is in full swing here in Tollhouse!  Abundant sunshine, wildflowers, and tall grass, along with a delicious green smell in the air.  Here are "the ladies" out for a stroll when they spy something.  Something...unusual.
 Something is MOVING IN THAT BOX!
 Relax, Ladies.  It's just the guinea pig.  She likes fresh air and green grass too! 
Every Friday, the dogs and I go for a long walk around the back forty.  There's our house in the distance.  The dogs enjoy sniffing and greeting neighboring horses, goats, llamas and dogs.  Can you blame them?

Here is a very interesting new fence ornament greeting me.  I'm guessing Scotty just recently watched the Karate Kid!
And last, but certainly not least, I got to stroll over to the awards ceremony at Foothill Elementary, where Abigail and Mae were recognized on the honor roll!
Is it any wonder that I LOVE SPRING?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Out and About

Last weekend, Mark and I had one-on-one dates with the girls.  Abigail and I spent the day together, and Mark and Mae spent the day together.  More one-on-one time is one of our goals for this year.  We all had a blast!
Abigail and I went bike riding.  Of course, this entailed going to the store and buying two bikes!  This has been a secret plan of mine for quite a gear up our family for bike riding.  The kids had tiny bikes from several years ago, but they've probably grown a foot since then.  I had an old mountain bike that needed some TLC and new tires, but Mark had nothing, so we needed a big bike too.  SO, off to K-Mart we went.
After we geared up, we went for a cruise on the Old Town Clovis bike trail.  Abigail was particularly impressed with the tunnels.
This rock marks the bottom of the logging flume that ran through Tollhouse in the 1800s!
 Abigail.  And another tunnel.
For a very, very, special treat on our very special day, we stopped at Subway.  Here is a selfie of that event.  Obviously, we need to work on the mechanics of selfies, so I don't have five chins, and Abigail knows where to look.  No wonder people practice!
For their special day, Mae and Mark took the dogs to the Kings River, about an hour away from our house.  I want our New Hampshire family to see that we do have rivers here!  And they are beautiful!  We need to come here more often, especially when it's warmer.
Mae with her boys.  I just love this picture!
 So what did we do THIS weekend?  We did those same things with the whole family!  We went for a family bike ride on the Clovis trail on Friday, and went back to the Kings River on Saturday!  Here is Mark, trying to coax the dogs into the water.  They were having NONE of it!
 Jax is mostly lab...he should love the water, right?  But he sat there and cried, and would not budge.
 This area of the river is called Kirsch Flats.  Our black & white dog is named Kirsch.  Coincidence?  Nope.  Two years ago, Mark, Scott, and the kids found Kirsch as a tiny puppy in these very bushes.  Here is Scotty, looking for the exact bush.
The dogs did get a little bolder in this shallow water.
And I think they got worried about Scotty out there on the rocks.  Come back to shore, Scotty!
So, looks like our one-on-one time was a double-good investment!  Great success :-)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Chickens and...Donkeys?

In light of the fact that we just may get a few more chickens, we decided to repurpose an old cat house (yes...a cat house).  Fortunately it did not have cat pee issues, so that made the transition do-able.  We joined it to the run with a little door on the bottom, and the girls cleaned it out and put new bedding in it. 
 Doesn't it look comfy?
Also, I promised a picture of our second set of odd-looking, timid chickens.  Any guesses as to what type of chickens these are?  They look like some kind of chicken/hawk cross to me.  They do have greenish-grey legs, so I'm hoping their eggs are green, like an Araucana chicken.  But wait, here's the big news...
 Our first egg!
And on the same day, we found a second egg!  They were lovely, light brown, and medium sized.  And they were tasty ;-)
In other news, just to convince everyone (myself included) that I have a life outside of chickens, here is a picture of a big night out last week:  Donkey Basketball 
 Boys vs. Girls.  It is always a tough game.
Girls won this year...kind of.  Either way, it was a really good game!
Apparently all these people agree.  Packed house in Tollhouse!