on Saturday, July 30, 2011

If Denver is considered the 'mile-high city', then Colorado Springs would be called a 'mile-and-then-some.' I've enjoyed running at sea-level for the past year, and I knew that coming to CO Springs would be a jolt to my system. And yes, I've been huffing and puffing at an unreasonably rapid pace ever since I got here. I can feel my apparently tiny, inefficient red blood cells screaming for more oxygen, which my lungs are currently unable to provide. They say it takes about 3 months for your body to replace my sickly red blood cells with larger, more efficient ones. Three months is about what I've got here, so perhaps there is hope.

There's a reason why the U.S. Olympic Training Center is here. Colorado is considered to be one of the 'fittest' states in the U.S., and it's proven that people who live at altitude tend to live longer (less likely to die of heart disease). And although I've seen plenty of Iron-Man caliber people trotting down the trail like a gazelle (a gazelle with excellent lung capacity and humungous red blood cells), there's also plenty of people gasping for air, just like me. At least I'm not alone. My first few runs were pretty stop-and-go, but I think I can feel my body starting to adjust. I'm not wheezing any more like a cat with a hairball.

I don't know if this has anything to do with Colorado, but my big toe poked through both layers of my left shoe since I've been here. My feet have worn all my running shoes that way (it runs in the family - my sister does that too), but I've never had such a large gaping hole. Since this is the first occurrence, I will assume it is the altitude. I can blame everything on that now.

The long trek

on Wednesday, July 27, 2011
The longest drive I've ever done solo was from Yakima to Portland. Yup, 3.5 hours. I've experienced longer drives than that, but by sharing driving (or not driving at all, in some cases). Reuben decided to take his car down to CO with us, so that meant that we had to drive from Yakima to Colorado separately. Yuck. One of the reasons that I got the phone that I did was because it had an mp3 player and a headphone jack that I could plug into my car. I had a million podcasts I've been wanting to listen to and was excited to finally get to them on the long drive. Of course, somewhere early on in the drive, my adaptor went berzerk. Nevermind about the podcasts! Luckily, I had NPR most of the way. As I was pulling out of the driveway in Yakima my dad handed me an audiobook of a Clive Cussler book, Blue Gold. Not particularly on my reading list, but it kept me half-way entertained for about 8 hours. Only half-way because audio books aren't really my cup of tea because I get distracted too easily if I don't have the words in front of me.

We decided to take three days to travel. The first day was pretty slow going, because Reuben's car started having car problems, and we ended up taking it to a mechanic and getting a leaky hose replaced in Baker City. We also stopped at an Oregon Trail Museum along the way. I just love gazing at the prairie land and wondering what it must have been like for the pioneers in covered wagons.

Little House on the Prairie, and the story of the Ingalls family going out West by covered wagon, was and still is one of my favorite books. I like to think that if I had lived during that time, I would have been one to go out west. Considering what normally happened when I played the Oregon Trail computer game in my childhood, however, I probably would have gotten bit by a rattlesnake or died of typhoid.

Our first night, we camped in Glenn's Ferry, a tiny town in Oregon. The only campground remotely in the vicinity happened to be an RV park, so we fell asleep to the humming of electricity pulsing through our neighbor's towering trailers.

The second day we camped in Wyoming. I can't say that I've ever been to WY before, but perhaps that isn't true because I vaguely remember seeing Old Faithful in Yellowstone. After a long day of Clive Cussler, car troubles and truck stops, our second night of camping was a-mazing. One of the most fantastic places I've ever camped. We drove into the Flaming Gorge Recreational Area and were told that we could camp anywhere we liked, so we followed one of the old windy roads down to the river. No RVs this time, no electricity, no city lights, only stars, water, prong-horn antelope, and bunnies. Camping at its best.

We had left Reuben's car in town, so we packed everything we needed for the night (which wasn't much) in my car. Only when we started getting hungry did I realize what I forgot: the food bag. Luckily we had some random foods in my car, and we improvised 'pad thai' with rice noodles, dried basil, and coconut butter. It was pretty disgusting.

I don't have much to report from the third day of driving, only more car problems. But we made it! We rewarded ourselves with an institution that we don't have the privilege of possessing in Washington: Cracker Barrel.

I survived! I probably will insist on never doing the drive again by myself. Reuben's car is being sold or staying here. We'll have to drive the car back up to WA this fall, but luckily my husband is much better company than a Clive Cussler audio book.

tiny quail

on Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Since I've been in Yakima, I've been hoping that the quail chicks would hatch before we left town. The day before we leave, they arrived! They're so tiny, fluffy, and squeaky. They're certainly not ready to fly yet or jump very high, so they can't get onto the wall yet like momma and poppa can. But I can tell they're trying to teach them!

The pictures aren't very good, but you can see the chicks underneath that looming pink flamingo, dutifully following and peeping along the way.

Proud parents watching over their young.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to watch them grow up. At least I got a chance to see them!


on Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Today Reuben and I got ourselves new phones. For months, since our phones were stolen back in February, we've been using my family's old cell phones - old as in the original, the very first cell phone I ever had. I was fairly late on the bandwagon to get a cell-phone, I think it was 2001 when I got it - and only because I was leaving for YWAM and needed it to connect with my family back home. No, it wasn't a "smart phone" - Reuben and I endearingly called them our "stupid phones." But they worked just fine for us. Texting was a little annoying, anyway, but it just meant that I texted less, that's all. The phones we got aren't anything fancy compared to most phones out on the market these days - they were both free upgrades - but they DO have touch screens and mine has a pull-out keyboard. And a camera, woo hoo! But the most exciting part is my wool felt owl pouch that I got to hold it. This, I am very proud of.

Speaking of technology, I was listening to a podcast by Orion Magazine the other day with two of my favorite scholarly people: Richard Louv and David Sobel. They were talking about the connection between nature and technology. The two seem to be an oxymoron, but it's true that technology can be utilized to enrich a nature experience. This has to be an intentional act on the part of the user, however. For instance, I am sitting here on my porch typing away on my Mac. Technology in the outdoors. Yes, I am out here because it feels nice, and I'm tired of being inside, but I'm not really connecting with the environment around me, because my focus is on this screen. David Sobel brought up a good point about technology: it should be judged by how long it takes to get your attention off the screen and back to the natural world. The computer, in most cases, would score negative points. So would tv. But think about a digital camera. You can use it to take pictures outside, you can use it to zoom closely into things, offering the ability to see things from a different perspective. You can go back later and look at them again, and use the images to develop questions and search for answers. At IslandWood, I would use a digital camera once in a while as a tool for inquiry-based learning. It was a hit with the kids! We also used Ipods at IslandWood. Not to listen to music (which, by the way, deadens the senses to the natural world - I came to the conclusion shortly after mine was stolen that I'm better off without my Ipod now anyway!), but to listen to bird calls through the external speaker, and to see pictures of bird and other animals. They even included facts about the animal that the kids could look through. I'm no birder, and I would pull the Ipod out whenever I didn't know what a particular bird was. It didn't take long for the kids to figure out which species we were looking at (or hearing). As a result of this technology, I still looked like I knew what I was doing, I learned something new, and the kids were totally engaged. Win win win situation.

After I finished all my papers and assignments for school, I just about swore off technology. And as a few weeks have past, I'm realizing that I need it now less than ever. I brought my computer to a Mac store to get some work done, and the guy said that he knew how I must be feeling and that he understood how hard it is to leave your computer. I chuckled and said "good riddance!"

I was watching NBC two nights ago and it was then that I realized how awful television has become. I get so angry that people are actually ok with the crap that is on tv these days - and not just that, but that they also allow their children to be exposed to it. Even with the adult material aside, the allowance of marketing to kids - outlawed in Europe, and once upon a time in the U.S) - is producing a generation who don't know the difference between wants and needs.

Ok this is just becoming a rant so I'll stop now. But I will mention three amazing books that support these arguments:


on Monday, July 11, 2011
I feel pretty lucky to have a mother who loves flowers. The spring seasons of my childhood began with the blooming of the daffodils and the tulips, followed by a season full of color and all shapes and sizes and textures. Only when I paid closer attention (since I never was involved in any of the work in the garden besides a little weeding for extra cash) did I notice the progression of flowers from the daffodils and tulips, to the roses, to the peonies, to the daises and snapdragons and the purple cosmos. Here's a sampling of what currently is blooming at the Treece residence.


Reuben and I were up to our ears in peaches and blackberries last fall, and we canned enough jam from it to keep us happy through the long, cold winter and spring. Since we're leaving the Yakima valley before the local peach harvest, we had to find some other fruit to obsess over. This year it came in the form of cherries. Since we were helping out with u-pick cherries, it was the perfect opportunity to take our fruit straight from the tree to our table. It can't get any better than this. Although cherries are utterly laborious to pit, as evidenced by the calluses on my hands from the pitter and the dark red stains on my apron. I've made cherry pies, cherry cobbler, cherry-cream cheese bars, 6 pints of cherry jam, and about 10 quarts of whole cherries. I can't say that I would do the latter again in a heartbeat, but at least I know that we'll get our fill of Yakima fruit throughout the rest of the year.

Evie sat and watched me pit bowls and bowls of cherries. Now she has a new favorite food and a few more stains on her shirts.