Monday, August 31, 2015

Worth Losing Trees

I live in the forest and I love trees.  I hate tree removal unless absolutely necessary.

Last year several members of our community formed a fund-raising group to build a new playground at one of our parks.  I was all in favor of the idea.  Then the plans came out and I saw how many very large trees would be sacrificed in order to build the new playground.  I was quite distressed every time I drove to the park and saw the large-scale destruction of so many healthy trees.  I began to wonder whether or not this park was such a great idea after all.

The park was completed this Spring and I must admit I am totally in love with it.  It definitely is an example of something worth losing trees to obtain.  It's a lovely and useful and very welcoming green space.

There is a very large piece that has two stories to it.  The lower one has two short slides, a climbing ladder, a wall of stones for climbing, a set of stairs and a ramp.  The upper level has lookout space and a longer slide for older children.

Many children can play at once on this complex piece of equipment.  It can be anything the children can imagine.  Sometimes it's a pirate ship; sometimes a fort.  Sometimes a fairy castle.  Always fun.

 A much taller slide with fun dips and curves to add excitement to the ride.

 Several benches are situated for parents and grandparents to watch the children.
The ubiquitous swing set behind  and a small jungle gym to the left.

 A clever animal teeter-totter on springs and a caterpillar tunnel to crawl through

 The multiple benches have plaques honoring someone gifted by donors to the park.

 Clever method of inserting benches as part of the fencing surrounding the playground

The park has a special lake swimming section for children with sandy beaches and a cabana.  There are sheltered picnic areas throughout, showers and toilets.  With the new playground equipment, it's an even more inviting place for family fun.

Friday, August 28, 2015

We Love Lucy

The last week of August.  Where did the summer go?  It has been a beautiful week here in the mountains.  The trees have taken on a dullness that precedes the coloring of the leaves.  And here and there is a branch that has already begun to turn.  Nights are cooler and the katydid chorus has fewer voices.

Our Lucy loves her early morning runs in a nearby park.  This is her favorite weather.

She sprints like a puppy when we begin our walk in the park, running Golden zoomies around us.

 She slows to a trot but doesn't stop running.

 She stops only when we make her sit to rest a while.
She ponders the mysteries of Lake Atagahi.
She does not jump in.

 We are almost back to the car and still she is running, a bit more slowly by still smiling.

 She jumps in her place, waiting for her staff to chauffeur her home.

Today's quote comes from Plato.  Appropriate for today although the words were spoken three hundred years BC:

"There will be no end to the troubles of states or of humanity itself 'til the philosophers become kings in this world or 'til those we call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands."



Monday, August 24, 2015

The Last One

We have been treated to the sight of new fledglings all summer.  We have several pairs of Red-bellied Woodpeckers who come to our feeders.  And now we have what is almost certainly the last baby Red-bellied Woodpecker of the season.  Fortunately, these birds will winter in our woods so we can watch them all year.

The fledgling is well camouflaged against the tree while the parent holds the food on a branch.
Its head is gray rather than the bright red of the parent.

 Early in the feeding process, the parent brings the food directly to the fledgling.
But now the parent sits and waits for the baby to come to him.

 Another sign that the feeding will soon end is that the parent has the baby take the food from above.
Early in the process the parent drops the food directly into the baby's mouth.

 Soon we will be watching the baby make its clumsy way to the feeder all by itself.

It's not likely that we will see any more baby birds this season and we will miss them.  But we are really looking forward to some of our visitors who will drop by on their way further South.  It's always thrilling to see those migrating birds that we glimpse only twice a year.  Most of them will have somewhat duller coats than they sported in the Spring.  But we welcome them and admire them just the same.

Friday, August 21, 2015

We Love Lucy

One week in August can make a big difference in the waning days of summer.  It's now completely dark when we take Lucy out for the last time at night.  We will soon need candles again for the dinner table.  On the other hand, we are enjoying the brisk evenings and mornings.  Lucy loves running in the cooler air.

Our Lucy also loves all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables.  She even likes fresh broccoli.  (Obviously, we give her only a tiny bit of that.)  Her favorites are carrot pennies and slices of apple.  Lucky for her, every day my husband eats a sandwich and an apple for lunch.  So every day Lucy gets a few bites of apple before he eats his lunch.

She stands beside the recliner, wagging her tail and licking her chops.

 One by one, my husband gives her pieces of apple

 Nom, nom, nom.  She doesn't move from her place.

 She doesn't take her eyes off the apple while she waits for the next bite.
Her tail continues its wagging throughout.

It seems fitting that our quote this week should come from former President Jimmy Carter:

"War may sometimes be a necessary evil.  But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good.
We will not learn to live in peace by killing each other's children." 



Monday, August 17, 2015

Everybody Needs One

Well, company has gone and the house seems a bit empty.  Lucy certainly enjoyed the extra attention and thought everyone came specifically to see her.

I have a wonderful son and a wonderful daughter and a wonderful daughter-in-law.  All of them are very thoughtful never more so than when I had my bout with shingles.  My daughter sent me some marvelous bath salts for soothing soaks in the tub.  Some of them were oatmeal baths with the ingredients in netting so they didn't mess up the tub afterwards.  My son and daughter-in-law sent me a Dammit Doll which I still keep on my desk in a vase.  It's easily available when I need it.  (Perhaps I should keep it near the television when the talking heads and political candidates spew forth.)

The doll is pretty much indestructable and is intended to be a vehicle for releasing anger.

Here's the doll sitting awaiting the need.

 It's ugly and cute at the same time.

The doll came with instructions:
Whenever things don't go so well,
And you want to hit the wall and yell,
Here's a little dammit doll,
That you can't do without.

Just grasp it firmly by the legs
And find a place to slam it.
And as you whack the stuffing out
Yell, 'Dammmit!  Dammit!  Dammit!'

You can find your own doll here.

Summer is definitely winding down.  Dark comes earlier.  And the schools are back in session.  Autumn is just around the corner.


Monday, August 3, 2015

Smokey Is 71

Each year the Cradle of Forestry  (here) holds a big birthday party for Smokey Bear.  This year Smokey turned 71.  I didn't get to his party this year, but will post some photographs of previous years when I have gone.  I just love wandering around watching the children and their parents.  Some of the children take the whole thing so seriously.

Most people think the Smokey Bear campaign started when a little cub with burned feet was rescued from a New Mexico forest fire in 1950.  In fact, the campaign began in 1944 with the release of the first Smokey Bear poster.  The bear cub rescued in 1950 was called Smokey and lived his life at the National Zoo in Washington, DC.  Congress passed The Smokey Bear Act in 1952 to protect the image of Smokey Bear.

Many people mistakenly think Smokey's name is "Smokey The Bear."  Really (if it matters to you) his name is actually "Smokey Bear."  The "middle name" was added to a song about Smokey to make the rhythm flow better. That led to the children's joke:
Q:  What is Smokey The Bear's middle name?
A:  "The"

Smokey's birthday is celebrated across the United States with his "real" birthday being August 9th.  The Cradle of Forestry typically celebrates on the first Saturday in August.  The party is held on the grounds and is always the same.  Multiple activity tents are set up to keep the children amused and to educate them.  They are allowed to squirt water from a fire hose, to make Smokey Bear masks, decorate birthday cards, complete puzzles, and play all sorts of games.  And there are dozens of birthday cakes at the end of the party.

The Visitor Center welcomes all to the party

  A fireman prepares to assist a little girl squirt the hose

 Pin the pail on the fire was quite popular

 And there was plenty of cake for all.
Twenty or so cakes were spread over the area so there were no long lines or whines.

And, of course, a visit from the big guy himself

For many years, the most recognizable slogan in the United States was Smokey's "Only YOU can prevent forest fires."  In 2001 the slogan was changed to "Only YOU can prevent wildfires."

Today there are at least 20 wildfires burning in California.  Our thoughts go out to those who are affected and to those brave persons who risk their lives fighting the fires.

It's August and I'm taking a two week break.  Company coming.  I'll still visit your blogs but I won't be posting.