Sunday, July 29, 2007

Another Post So Soon!?

Every year one of the doctors at Anne's work has a party at his lake house out on Hayden Lake. He had it a little early this year (it's normally sometime in August) and it was this past Saturday (yesterday).

We put Sydney down for an early nap on Saturday since the party was scheduled to start around 1:00 PM. We explained to her what we would be doing later and why she was taking a nap early. She got really excited that we would be going on a boat. When she woke up she was still really excited and kept asking about the boat.

We finally got to the lake and actually found parking this year in the half-empty parking lot. (Last year it was terribly busy and we ended up parking on the side of the road about a half mile away.) Anne called for the boat as we walked to the beach and dock. Sydney was really excited and kept pointing at every boat she saw.

Dr. R arrived just a couple minutes after we got out on the dock. We climbed in the boat and zoomed away. Sydney loved it. The wind whipped through her hair and the bumping as we hit wakes was fun. Of course, the boat ride didn't compare to the fun in store once we got to the beach.

Sydney Throws Rocks

Sydney spent almost the entire day throwing rocks in the water. The beach at the lake house is rocky. Actually, it's all rocks. And Sydney loved every single one of them.

She even had Daddy help throw rocks. She would pick one up and give it to Daddy and then pick one up for herself. She would count to three and then we'd both throw our rocks in the water.

Sydney And Daddy Throw Rocks

Sydney wasn't the least bit interested in the water, going in the water, floating lazily on an inner tube with Mommy, or even having the water lap at her feet as the waves came up on the beach. She was happy just throwing rocks.

We went out on the boat one other time while there (not including the trip back). Mommy went out on the inner tube to be pulled by the boat. Sydney and Daddy rode along. Sydney didn't like that trip as much. With the stopping and starting and the rocking while sitting still she got quite upset. She kept crying that she wanted to "go throw the rock".

Mommy didn't like the inner tube trip much, either. In addition to the normal waves from the various other boats on the water the lake was a little rougher than normal. Just as she started out on the inner tube something happened where it bounced funny. She ended up flipping forward (toward the boat) and the rope hit her leg. She has some nasty bruises and scrapes on her leg from it. She is fine and otherwise unhurt.

At one end of their beach was a mostly-dead tree. (There was green vegetation still on the bottom half of it but it may have been from a different plant.) Up in the top of the tree was a nest. I'm guessing it was some type of woodpecker, but I'm not sure. One of the parent birds would fly up occasionally and feed the young birds in the nest. Sitting on the side of the tree it sure looked like a woodpecker.

Unfortunately I couldn't get a good shot of the birds. By the time I realized where the birds were (we heard them calling and when the parent came back we knew where they were) and got the camera ready and up in a good spot to take a picture the parents didn't come back again. Here's a shot of one of the birds sticking its head out of the hole. (You can see a little bit bigger version of the pictures on the blog over at my PictureTrail photo page. The wildlife pictures are in the "Miscellaneous Hosting" folder.)

The sun was high in the sky, but on the far side of the tree so there wasn't good lighting of the bird. From what I could tell they seemed to be mostly light brown/tan. From the five or so websites I looked at about birds in Idaho I couldn't find one with pictures of all the woodpeckers. And the descriptions they gave didn't match these birds. So if anyone knows what kind of bird this is feel free to let me know in the comments.

In the late afternoon we packed up and headed up the hill to the house. It's a long, steep climb up. I was looking forward to it this year, though. Dr. R has a bald eagle nest near his lake house.

Two years ago I didn't have a camera that could have taken a picture of them from a distance. That's all right because I only caught a glimpse of one as it flew off and didn't return while we were there. Last year I had my good camera but the eagles once again were AWOL. I didn't even get to see them.

This year my luck ran a little better. I got a good look at one of the adult eagles in one of the big pine trees. It had its back to be, but it was unmistakable.

Bald Eagle

I snapped a couple pictures and wished (not for the first time that day) that I had brought my tripod. I placed the camera on the railing of the porch to try to steady it a bit and the auto-focus kicked in and focused on the branch a couple feet in front of me. Before I could recover focus the bald eagle spread its wings and flew away. Gah! What a picture that would have been.

Shortly after that I saw the "baby" bald eagle in the tree with the nest. It's still young enough that its head hasn't turned white. But it sat there the whole time we were up at the house and seemed happy to pose for pictures. Though it didn't spread its wings for me.

Adolescent Bald Eagle

This morning Sydney had a play date over at her friend Hunter's house. Properly excited about my eagle pictures from yesterday I took the opportunity to do something I've been meaning to do for a long time now.

At the top of a small hill I drive over every day on my way to work is a utilities pole. Two years ago an osprey couple decided to build a nest there. In hindsight I'm pretty sure that they were unsuccessful at hatching an offspring. That year they seemed to be gone after late-May. If they were still around I didn't see them through the summer. And I'm one who loves watching large birds of prey so I definitely would have seen them.

Last year the couple returned. They were successful in breeding and had a baby. I watched them regularly when I drove by. Sometimes I was even lucky enough to get stopped at the traffic light right at the top of the hill and be able to watch them through the sunroof of the car. The three of them were around all summer.

One day in the spring Anne and I took a walk up there with Sydney in her stroller (it's about a mile and a half from the house). Mom and Dad Osprey flew out of the nest and circled above us for a few minutes before flying off toward the river. Boy I wish I had the camera on that walk!

Then at the end of last summer the utility company struck. It can be an obvious danger to have a large bird nest right on top of a utility pole. So the utility company came and took the nest down after the birds had left. They built a nesting platform at the top of the pole, but I was worried that the osprey wouldn't come back.

In the spring I watched in great delight as I saw Mom and Dad Osprey bring large sticks (and other miscellaneous things) to the platform and build a new nest. They've hatched another baby this year and it seems to be growing up fine. Frequently when I drive to work in the afternoon I see the three of them sitting up there observing the world around (and below) them.

So this morning while Anne and Sydney were at a play date I finished up a few chores around the house and the zipped up the hill to take some pictures of the osprey. As I approached I was happy to see two heads sticking up out of the nest. As I parked across the street I could hear the adult bird calling out. As I crossed the street I saw the adult bird open its wings, flap a few times, and then settle back down.

I hung out for about fifteen minutes and took several pictures. Unfortunately the birds didn't spread their wings for me and the third one didn't come home. But I'm glad I finally got a chance to get there to take some pictures.

Osprey Calling

The adult osprey is calling in the above picture. It brings its head down a little and hunches its shoulders up when it does. (I'm guessing the other one is a juvenile. It's a bit smaller and didn't do much of anything while I was there. It seemed to be watching and taking its lead from the adult.)

Osprey Surveying The Land

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Lot Of Stuff

A lot has happened since the last real update. Father's Day has come and gone. Grandma B was here for a visit. While she was here Anne played in Hoopfest in Spokane. Then, as mentioned, the computer broke down. It got fixed a little faster than expected. Then I had to catch up on a bunch of online and general computer stuff. Then I had to finish re-reading the Harry Potter books to prepare for the new and last book. Which of course I had to read, too.

So last things first. No spoilers for Deathly Hallows will follow. I will just say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It was a very good and fitting ending to the series. I'm a little sad that I won't have any new Harry Potter books to look forward to. At least there are still two movies left to anticipate. And boy will Deathly Hallows be something to see!

On Father's Day I played golf in the morning. I played as badly as I normally do. I don't have high hopes that I will ever be good at golf. I don't play enough (that was the first time this year that I've played). But I have a good time going out with Mark and usually Kyle and having fun.

When I got home I got to spend the rest of the day with my two best women.

Sydney and Daddy Dance

Sydney and I danced around. And I got a hug and kiss, too.

Sydney Gives Daddy A Kiss

Spokane Hoopfest is apparently the largest three-on-three basketball tournament in the country. This was our first year of going to it. Anne played on a co-ed team with our friend Mark.

Anne started out on the sidelines cheering on the team. Standing next to her over there are Paul and Christy. Anne works with Christy. And Paul is Christy's husband and works at the hospital, too. You can see Mark there on the right side of the picture in the white shirt, black shorts and black and white shoes.

She Shoots She Scores

Once Anne got in the game she played well. She did make the basket on that shot.

Hoopfest is played as a round robin tournament. There are all sorts of categories and thousands upon thousands of people play in it. Each team is guaranteed at least three games. If you lose your first two you go to the losers bracket and play until you lose (or win the losers bracket).

As it happened they lost their first game. I believe it was at 11:00 am. The next game wasn't until 4:30 PM. Sydney, Grandma B and I were there for support and to cheer but we weren't real keen on sticking around that long for the next game. It was crowded, the food places in the park had at least a 30 minute wait in line and it was hot. There was lots of walking involved and Grandma B wasn't up to it. I can't say I was, either. (Sydney was riding in the stroller.)

So the three of us left shortly after the first game. They then won their second game. Most of the third games get played on Sunday but by luck Anne's third game was played on Saturday a couple hours later at 6:30 PM. They ended up losing it. That was actually good. It means they got their quota of three games in and were done on the first day. Anne didn't have to go back on Sunday. (Neither did Mark or his family because Mark's son Caden's team did almost the exact same thing. They won and then lost the next two. All three games were on Saturday so they didn't have to play on Sunday.)

Sydney loved having Grandma B here. They played and played and played. Sydney wanted practically nothing to do with Mommy or Daddy while Grandma B was here.

One morning after breakfast Sydney pulled Grandma B out to the front room to play while I cleaned up. When I finished I stepped into the dining room. Sydney came over and pushed me back into the kitchen, pointed at me and said, "there!" I asked if I could come play and she pointed at me and said (loudly), "No!"

I waited a few minutes and tried to go out to the front room from the other direction. When she saw me Sydney once again pointed and loudly said, "There!" So I went back into the living room and took a snooze on the sofa while Sydney and Grandma B played.

Sydney and Grandma B Read

Sydney started playing Hide And Seek with Grandma B. (Sydney calls it Peek-A-Boo usually with me.) With Grandma B she would "hide" in the corner where the two sofas meet. She would frequently squeeze herself up near the window.

Sydney Hides

Now when she plays this with me she usually just goes and squats down at the end of the coffee table, right in the middle of the room. It's not much for hiding. Coaxing to try to get her to hide some place different (after she's hidden there three or four times in a row) usually gets her upset for some reason, though I've managed to succeed once or twice.

In other news we're starting to plan our next vacation. I get ten days of vacation per year. Anne gets more than that. She earns time off as she works. The more she works the more time off she gets. Anyway, I usually split my vacation time to a week in the fall and a week in the winter. Working at a resort where spring and summer are the high seasons doesn't give much opportunity for vacations during those times.

This year - or next, actually - we're thinking of taking two weeks all at one time in February. Right now the front runner for destination is San Diego. We obviously would like somewhere that is somewhat warm but are concerned with travel times. Sydney did great on the flights to and from Michigan last year but she was still quite young. In February she will be two months shy of three. We would like a nice, easy and hopefully short flight. (Alaska/Horizon has a non-stop from Spokane to San Diego that takes just over two and a half hours.)

Looking for a somewhat warm destination doesn't leave a lot of options. February is San Diego's rainy season, but the highs are around 66F on average from what I looked up. Compared to winter here that's plenty warm. There are also lots of attractions there including the obvious Zoo, Wild Life Park and Sea World.

I have an online acquaintance who lives in San Diego. He has already given me a good list of many other attractions in San Diego to consider.

For those of you in Las Vegas and Michigan concerned that we're not considering a visit to you don't forget that 2008 means 20th high school reunions for both of us. It's possible we'll be seeing all of you for those. (Though it's been longer since we've been to Vegas - since we moved seven years ago - so if the reunions conflict we will be going to Vegas over Michigan.)

I think that's all for now. I'll leave you with a picture of Sydney and her friend Mary Jane on a play date. They obviously decided that reading a book together would be a lot of fun.

Sydney And Mary Jane Read

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Up And At 'Em

The computer is back up and running.

The parts arrived Friday. Friday evening I called Best Buy to see if they had an appointment open earlier than Friday the 13th. They had very recently had a cancellation on Sunday morning and it was still open.

So they came this morning and fixed our computer. It was the power supply. Not sure what was wrong exactly other than it didn't work.

We're now back up and running. As I get caught up on things at home on the computer I will get some pictures uploaded and get a good, picture-laden post up.

Oh. And don't forget about the email change. If you have our email address make sure you change it to instead.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Down And Out

We got up Tuesday and found the power out in the office and guest room. The breaker was popped and I reset it. Unfortunately, it looks like whatever did it fried our computer. There is absolutely no power.

I have a feeling (completely unsubstantiated since I know little about computers workings) that the computer died and in its death throes it surged, causing the breaker to pop. I say this because we found no other evidence anywhere of any outage or electrical problem. Plus I have a pretty good surge protector that all the other equipment is plugged into, too. Nothing else is damaged.

Anyway, when I bought the computer in October of 2005 I had some upgrades done to it. Because of that I did buy the extended warranty. So I called and the diagnosis over the phone is that the motherboard and power source are fried. They are sending a new one of each to me and that will take 5-7 business days. Then, on Friday the 13th, they have a tech scheduled to come out and fix it.

So that's at least a week and a half without a home computer. And without uploading pictures and without access to home email. And a bunch of other stuff.

And then we'll hope that those two items are the extent of the problem and nothing else is fried or data lost.

Speaking of home email, Adelphia was bought out by Time Warner Cable last year. They have finally gotten around to switching us over with our internet service. So anyone who has our home email, please change your address books. The email that ends with will now end with We will still be able to receive emails on the adelphia address, but not forever.

And, since our computer is down for close to two weeks, please make sure you have my address. The first part of that it tahofwhitefisher. If you have to email us before our computer is back up and running please email me at the gmail account. I can check that at work.

Thanks and cross your fingers for a (relatively) quick and painless fix for the computer.