Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summertime in Full Swing

Phew - too many projects and too much work!

Summer seems to finally be here in the Pacific NorthWest, so we got out and played in it!

The beaches are hot, and the water is starting to warm up.

Nights are still COLD, but it helps keep all the bad mosquitoes away.

Besides, the kids have a warm dog to keep them company while sleeping on the trampoline.

The blackberries and Tayberries are loaded, and starting to ripen!

The berries really are doing well with the new wire and posts.

The baby swallows have grown and left already!

It was literally overnight - one day they were there cheeping and peeking out... the next day nothing.

Alot of them flying around and eating bugs, though.

Our potatoes in the garden are doing especially well.

We've started piling grass and stuff around the base of the plants.

It is a good time of year. Still not as much sun as we'd hoped for, but it gets warm and any sun is good.

Wiring Up the Shop

We were getting so many things done this Saturday, we decided to take on ANOTHER project we've wanted to do for years - wire up the shop!

It was fun and went pretty quick - at least until we ran out of boxes.

We got about half of the wire and boxes installed.

The rest should go in fairly quickly, and then we can put in the breaker box, dig the trench, and lay conduit/wire to the house.

The best part will be taking out the extension cords from the shop!

More Truck Repairs

The old farm truck / boat puller has been running rougher lately.

We decided to replace the spark plugs and wires... and the teenage boys were eager to help.

It is funny how a young man gets interested in helping work on the cars when starts driving...

We also replaced a burned-out turn signal.

The rubber bumper in the spark plug socket stuck on the plugs, so we sprayed some cooking oil into the socket to help lub and ease the removal better.

Worked pretty good... until the oil got in between the socket and rubber - then we couldn't keep it inside the socket at all!

Having a little trouble getting the old wires disconnected from the old plugs.

Keep at it boys... I'm going to get a cold drink...

Finally got the old clips off the old plugs!

Grrr... working on cars always skins our knuckles...

The work went pretty smooth, and it was fun having help.

Unfortunately, we didn't fix all of the truck's problems, so we'll try something else, soon.

Testing the Whitewater Raft

While taking a break from building the wall, we wanted to pump up the raft we'll be taking to the Deschutes in a few weeks to test it out.

The sun came out and we broke out the new airpump.

All the chambers filled quickly, and held air well!


The kids had to jump in it immediately.

It was funny how much the kids loved playing in the raft. We left it inflated for a few days to see how it held air...

...and it got plenty of use.

After several days of hard usage, we are ready to trust our lives to this old red raft.

Now to name it... "Big Red, Red October, Red Dawn"... guess we'll have to wait for something to happen on the river to give it the perfect name.

Building A Great Wall

After camping this week it was time for some serious work to get done this weekend. Yeah, not as fun, but we got so many projects done, we have the rest of the summer to play!

We've been wanting to redo a retaining wall here since we moved in.

First step, tear out the old RR ties.

The crew made short work of the ties, and started prep for the new wall.

Sure - he's smiling now... wait until the 100lbs blocks show up!

Here they are - the big blocks!

We had the pallettes put as close as possible.

Here's a fun distraction - before the heavy lifting, the Septic Pumper showed up!

We got glowing reviews about how good our septic looked and was functioning. We are all so proud.

Good job, kids!

Anyway... back at the wall, the oldest boys were having fun using the Suburban like a backhoe.

Some of the hedge was in the way.

All the kids were a big help on this project.

The dog, she wasn't ANY help.

The first layer of brick took the longest, of course, to set. When it was set, the next few layers went quickly.

We needed two half-pieces, so we tried busting a brick by hand.

After chiselling lines on both sides with fancy tools, we were ready for the sledge hammer...

Oh well - not a real clean break, but better than the one the Sand & Gravel place provided!

The halves cleaned up pretty good.

With as much use and 'playing' this wall will get from the crazy horde of kids, we used adhesive on the layers to glue them in place.

This stuff is strong!

Finally, the little girls helped seal the seam with sand.

"She seals, sand seals, along the wall's seam" 3 times fasts!

And some more adhesive!

After backfilling the dirt and gravel to the back of the blocks, the wall was very strong and stable.

It seemed to say to the kids... "bring it on!"

The finished wall turned out great!

The lines are straight enough, and it really makes the driveway clean and nice.

Here's a shot with the planter at the end.

This posting isn't as much fun, but it is sure satisfying to see this project done after wanting it for so long.

Now... on to the next!

Time Off for Camp

Some of us spent time at Girl's Camp this week, and it is ALWAYS a blast.

The weather was great, and the girls eat WAY better than scouts do when camping!

Alot of skits and songs around the firesides.

Of course, we can't show all the goofy fun - what happens at Girl's Camp stays at Girl's Camp...

... but it was fun.

One lunch was Dutch Oven cooking.

Thats alot of iron in the fire!

Only three men in camp, so they had cooking duties...

With all the activities, training, and work the girls had, there was still alot of time to hang out, read, think, and mess around.

Several days the girls practiced their archery skills.

They all got really good!

The best part of archery is that no one was hurt!

A great campout and lots of fun.

Can't wait to go back next year.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Green is Growing

The baby swallows are growing fast!

They are noisy and much bolder. They are also much more aggressive in their feeding - meeting mom and dad at the door!

They let us get close as the parents frantically bring food to them every 15-20 seconds. See her in the top left corner?

Hopefully the other 5 chicks are getting food when these two fat ones are full!

If we get too close, they duck down and don't appear for 30 seconds or so.

They still keep churping, though - "bring more food, ma!"

The grapes and the garden have exploded with all the sunshine these last 2 weeks. The vines are visibly growing 4-5 inches each day!

The wooden trellis is straining under the load again.

The grapes themselves have also been putting on weight, daily. Two days ago, the grapes were simple dots.

The corn is growing visibly too.

Each day they get bigger. Hurray!

Sunshine is good!

Beating the Heat at the Beach

Wow - what hot weather we've had for a few days.

Blazing hot, and then it will get cloudy and COLD for a day!

Oh well - at least the river is close. Summertime!

The beaches have been great. Water is still high and cold, but who cares!

We took the boat out on the weekend, and visited Sand Island in St Helens, OR.

A few folks were camping, and fishing too.

It is a great island with alot of camping and trees for shade.

The best way to get into the cold water is FAST!

Enough time in the hot sun dulls the pain of admission...

... and as fast as they dove into the water, they raced out even FASTER!

After a few entries, the bodies acclimated just fine.

It was a great day for exploring and swimming.

No luck finding rusty nails with bare feet, but that is a good thing!

This was unusual...

Must not be alot of shipping lately.

After sand castles, hot sand, and cold swimming, we hit the tubes!

The wind wasn't too bad, and the chop in the afternoon died down enough to make it really fun.

The wind is always a big factor in the afternoons on the Columbia River - but there are pockets where the white-caps aren't bad.

Besides, tubing is about bouncing, right?

Even the youngest got in on the fun.

And it was fun. Its important to keep these runs short, so no one gets too tired of the fun!

Another great day in sunny paradise. When it is nice here in the Pacific NorthWest, you can't beat it anywhere!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Simple Fourth of July

The colder weather and recent travel made for a lay'ed back celebration on the 4th.

Lots of good food... and all the right colors.

We went to St Helens, OR and enjoyed the fireworks over the Columbia River.

Using the CHDK for the Canon digital cameras was fun to play with aperature settings for night shots. Various delays on the shots made for some very interesting pictures.

If the weather had been nicer, we would have watched from the boat. The parking lot at the Courthouse was ok, too.

The show lasted about half-n-hour. Alot of people there!

Picnics are the best on the 4th.

We lit up the burn pile and roasted dogs and marshmellows again.

At least there isn't a burn-ban yet with all the cold, rainy weather...

The kids especially liked playing 'hot box'.

In fact, they've been playing it every night since then, too.