Tuesday, July 27, 2010


For the last two years I have been watching all kinds of birds visit our backyard garden. It is especially eventful when the sunflowers are in bloom. So I had to take a closer look at what makes a sunflower so attractive.

This fly landed just as I was taking the picture. Happy accident or pest?

This is one of Jessica's sunflowers. They were covered in bees. Birds do eat bees. Blue jays like to visit a hive in the early morning looking for the bees that were kicked out by their housekeeping sisters the nigh before. Bees are very clean. If a bee is dead, sick, or born deformed they will kick her out. Thomas and I have also seen birds catch bees in flight.

These were taken last year, but are still my favorite.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Kayla went home today

but yesterday we spent the afternoon at my friend Jessica's house and later at the park.

She fed the horse.

She met the turkeys.

Picked carrots.

Counted the chickens.

Started to count the sunflowers but...

Dared Jessica and I to a green bean picking contest.

We had purchased a sailboat at the salvation army. Thomas helped her build it and I encouraged her to decorate it.
So we headed to the park to set it free at the lake. She had big sailboat dreams.

Her great expectations were crushed when the boat sank.

The cool thing about kids is they get over it really quickly.

After 20 minutes of playing tag with Thomas we headed home.

So, today I am heart broken. She is gone and I already miss her so much.
My little girl.... you will always be a part of me.

Friday, July 23, 2010

What does it mean to be an American...

What does it mean to be an American...

In 1989, when I came to the United States, El Salvador was still experiencing a bloody civil war. Armed escorts and body guards were common. The streets were considered dangerous. As kids we often played indoors. Gun shots and bombs were part of the background noise. My experience growing up during war is a complete contrast to my experience for the last 21 years in America. There are no words that can explain what it means to me to be an American. How do you explain freedom, choice, peace of mind, opportunity, having rights, and having a voice (counting). Even thought now things are different in El Salvador I want to make sure my brother Marco has the same opportunities I have had. So this month I filed a petition with the US immigration department requesting his American residency. The process is simple but the waiting time is 10 years. 10 years! So, now that the paperwork is filed we wait... Marco, I wish you the same opportunities I have had and more. I love you kid brother.

Summer time

Summer has felt like summer with Kayla around. For the last six days we have been taking care of Kayla while her mom has been caring for her new baby brother.

The beach from a six-year-old's point of view is incredible. Kayla ran, jumped, giggled, got wet, sandy, and cried when we had to leave.

Pure joy is the coolest thing to witness.

While at the beach we met buster. A 14 month old tuxedo cat on a leash.

Yes, Buster Magoo likes to swim in the ocean. You can ask Kayla how Buster got his name.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hanging with a pro

This past weekend Thomas and I played host to a professional triathlete.
Mel a Canadian athlete traveled to Sonoma County to compete in the Vineman Triathlon on Sunday. Many athletes who travel profesionaly prefer to do homestays rather than stay in hotels. That's how we come into playing hosts. (Volunteer it is fun!)

The professional arrived at our house on Friday afternoon and in less than two hours their bikes were out of the traveling case, built, and we were on the road for an "easy shake the travel legs short ride". Mel, her boyfriend Ross, Thomas, and I went for a speedy ride to Windsor and back. Easy my ass, but I am proud to say I did hang with a pro. Melanie McQuaid is the first person to have won the XTERRA Triathlon World Championships three times. Three times! Thanks Mel, you made my day! Heck you made my year! On sunday Melanie placed fourth, not bad considering a 70.3 class triathlon is not her thing. Go Mel!

Melanie aside from being an amazing athlete, is also a gardener and an incredible cook. Talent! For the last few years she has been trying to grow watermelons. She quickly discovered our box watermelons and wanted to know our growing secrets.

Thomas, myself, Ross and Melanie in our garden.

Kayla, our friend's daughter was also hanging out with us on Sunday. I was teaching her to take a picture.

This is her figuring it out.

**Addition: We actually got mentioned on Melanie's blog you can read it here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The last beer

Looking back at the last week I am amazed of how much I can accomplish, even when I don't mean to do anything. When I die, Thomas could easily engrave in my head stone, "She never knew a dull moment".

The end of the week was all about figs. Thanks to my friends R & S, we got these off of a huge tree in Santa Rosa. One third of the figs will be dried, another jammed, and the other eaten on the spot. Delicious!

These days I make my own lotion. This time we infused some olive oil with herbs from the garden, let it sit in a cool dark place for a week. This (pic) is what is left. To make the salve you just combine 8 oz of oil with 1 oz of bees wax (or less), warm, stir, and you have lotion. Yes, I used bees wax from our bees.

Try it, it is really easy.

Tuxedo always makes me laugh. Like any other cat, he likes sleeping during the day, but were you will find him is always a surprise. This time he was in the garage on the ottoman on his back. Last week we found him on Lily's favorite bed, the week before on the pile of clean laundry that was still in the laundry basket. Never a dull moment with Tuxedo.

This little bird made several visits to our sunflowers this week. I finally got a somewhat decent picture of him. Every time I approached he would fly away and never return.


It is officially blackberry season. Last year Thomas was diligent about going out to our favorite picking spots every other day and harvesting buckets of blackberries at a time. This year I think we can do the same. I have never been a fan of blackberry jam, but I will make a batch or two to give away. The rest we eat with yogurt in the morning, make pies, smoothies, ice cream, and what is left we freeze for later.

We harvested green beans, my late grandpa Nelo would have been proud. Nelo is a Spanish name, a derivative of Daniel, which means "God is my judge". Grandpa I think of you all the time.

Thomas made beer a few weeks ago. This week we drank the last few bottles.
Tasty, refreshing, and sad it is gone.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Trinity: favorite moments

A week near Trinity Lake with T's family. No cell phone reception, no chores, no list of things to do, just great food, family, and rest.

These were my favorite moments

A magnificent blue sky was had every day.

Snow is still melting in the mountains, so there was lots of water.

Another one for the long arm archive.

Everything was in bloom.

A nice hike with the entire family.

The forest smelled so good, the sky was so blue and the trees so tall.

We caught fish and ate it that night.

This is Carl's catch. We know he could survive in the wild.

What can I say, everything is better with Maya around.

Lily thinks so too.

Lots of fun family moments.

A campfire most every nights.