Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, October 20, 2012

An Overnighter with the Prospector's Mom

When my husband was a little boy, his parents took him camping and fishing... a lot.
One of the places that they went, every year, was called Pinecrest Lake. 
This is where the Prospector, his brother, our sons and our grandsons go for a week every summer.
It had been many years since my husband's Mom had been up there so a few weeks ago, we called her and asked if she wanted to drive up to Pinecrest and stay overnight. She said "Yes!!". My mother-in-law's name is Vi.
She is 91 years old... and still full of spit and vinegar.
So last Wednesday we drove the back roads from Jackson to Sonora and then east up into the mountains. Her daughter drove Vi from Stockton, through Oakdale and up to Sonora.  We met at the Lake.
We got settled into our motel room. Ours was on the very end. There were only six rooms in this motel. We were the only ones there until late that night, when one other couple came in.
Pinecrest is a busy, popular place in the summer but now it is peaceful and quiet.
The resort has cabins and condos for rent too.
 I wish I could include the smells of Pinecrest...the pines, firs and oaks, the campfires and "mountain misery". The familiar sounds of crows and mountain jays and a red tailed hawk sailing over head.
 We checked in and then drove down to the lake.
The Fall color was just starting. The weather was beautiful.
 We took a walk down to the lake. Look at that woman go. She has cruise control on that walker. She walks almost a mile every day around her neighborhood with her niece. She's a lesson to us all.
We finally made Vi sit and rest for a while. I sat with her and the Prospector and his sister went down to the water.
They came back with two homemade anchors that were found because the water level was so low.

 One was very old. The Prospector lost two when he was here a few months ago.
The weather was beautiful. Probably the last good week. It's suppose to snow here on Wednesday.
 This lake is regulated by the Pacific, Gas and Electric Co. Right now it's very low. You can see a lot of huge boulders and tree stumps in the water.
 We also drove to Strawberry... just a few miles up the highway. 
This is the south fork of the Stanislaus River... and it's a beautiful stretch of wilderness. It comes out of Pinecrest Lake, flows downstream joining its north and middle fork and then flows into New Melones reservoir.

This river has been extensively dammed and diverted and is a river of controversy. Here is some information about what happens when too many people need too much water and the "wars" that ensue. It's an ongoing problem with all the rivers in California.
This is looking upriver from the bridge on Old Strawberry Rd. I learned the art of fishing from the Prospector here before we were married. I learned the art of river fishing... and patience. I learned how to read a river and where the fish hide.
I don't fish much now, but this is where it started.

And below is Dawson's cabin, up on the hill to the south of the bridge. This belonged to a friend of my husband's father. It looked better in the 60's.  Then, there were no other cabins around it.
Remember the couple who came to visit us before our 50 year reunion? Al and Ginny... from Washington? Well the four of us stayed in this cabin one summer night in about 1964. We were young, not married yet... and well, it was scandalous behavior for all of us. I'm not even sure how we were able to use the cabin that night. We must have gotten the key from someone but I don't remember where or how. Maybe there wasn't a key.
I didn't want to sleep in the cabin because of all the spiders, (I'm sure it has a ton more now.) so the Prospector and I slept outside on the ground. That was a first for me... but a beautiful memory.
Now, no one is using it and it's in a state of decay. But it's still there, overlooking the river.
 We never told Vi that we stayed overnight up there. I'm sure she would not have approved, then. But the Prospector was conceived just up the road at another cabin in the Dardanelles and she loves to tell that story. Of course, she and grandpa were married... so that made it OK.
What are they looking at?
 They were all looking at a HUGE house that was being built up on the hill. It was one of those McMansions that are overwhelming and ostentatious. I guess some folks just have to flaunt their wealth. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and guess that this was a primary home and not a vacation home. I didn't take a picture of it.

When I was taking pictures and trying not to fall into the river, I found a very interesting metal marker in a huge rock that I was standing on. It's a US Coast and Geodetic Survey Bench Mark.
The term is generally applied to any item used that shows a point of elevation for reference. Bronze or aluminum disks are set in stone or concrete. Go here for more information. I thought this was interesting. It was put in this boulder in 1957 and I had to laugh because there's a $250. fine or imprisonment for disturbing it. Believe me, there is no way that this "bench mark" is going to come out of this rock unless you use dynamite. It looks really tamper proof.
Vi and I use to collect rocks up at the Dardanelle's campground. We would get the biggest ones we could carry and lug them back to the car where the Prospector and his dad would roll their eyes and complain about the extra weight. It got to be a joke. We would be driving along and I would call out "ROCK." and  Vi would yell, "Stop the car." and then we would laugh at the guys when they got mad about the whole thing.
We carried a lot of rock up from that river and took them home with us. To this day, Vi still has them lining her garden in Stockton. But we never saw any with "Benchmarks" in them. The boulders with benchmarks  were too big to carry home. Grandpa would have really had a fit.

Later that day, we went back to our motel, cleaned up and went out to dinner.Then we came back to the motel and crashed...
We slept well.
 Next time I will show you some photos of the beach at Pinecrest and  other interesting things that go on in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Bully Hen

Things are going fairly well in the chicken coop...
Everyone is finding their place in the pecking order... except for Squeaky and one of the new hens.
They seem to be at odds with each other.
The Ameraucana is throwing her weight around . She is not even laying eggs yet and for some reason she has decided to pick on Squeak'.
"What did you say, you little dwarf?"
 And while the other hens are out in the yard, eating lettuce and apple peels, this young hen is waiting at the entrance of the chicken house. She seems to be guarding the doorway...
And who is the only chicken inside the coop? Right...
 Look at her. She's stressed. "What's the matter with that upstart? Why is she picking on me?"
 I may be small... but I'm smart and have fine feathers. My parents had lineage. I think that I'm a fine hen. I'm just small."
Squeaky runs from this hen. Well, to be honest, Squeaky runs from all the big hens but this hen seems to have it out  for Squeak'. She is afraid of what will happen if this hen gets a hold of her. If Squeak' is eating a piece of lettuce, this hen will come over and snatch it away.  This hen seems to have a bone to pick with Squeaky. I don't know what her problem is.
The hen from hell is not a happy "Bully". 
She doesn't mingle with the other hens much . She hasn't grown her crop yet, so she's not laying eggs. She is one of the newbie hens and can't seem to find her place in the scheme of things. Right now she's just being a loner and picking on the littlest hen .
Bully's are usually victims too, so I will keep an eye on this new hen and see what happens. 
Squeaky can usually take care of herself. She has always been the underchicken. She accepts this fate most of the time. But, she told me, this morning, that she is tired of being picked on and will report this to the authorities if something isn't done about it. I think she is serious. The other hens never say anything or come to her defense. There seems to be a conspiracy of silence in the hen house.
This is National Bullying Prevention Month. Here is some information about the efforts being made to do something about this epidemic in our country.
Please pay attention to your children. Listen to them. It's time for someone to do something.