Monday, April 30, 2012

Hopelessly Devoted

She is absolutely serious about her duties. I can hardly catch her away from her nest these days. These babies are in great hands! I had my students write about their mothers. Some of the responses included piles of x's and o's, very lovey-dovey. According to some, their mothers "mean everything" to them and "have taught them everything" and they "do everything." Some were more specific--their moms do their hair and feed them. Some described their mothers..."she likes to keep her hair short and mostly red-ish." Some moms play video games. One boy said his mom was awesome because "she lays treats out for us to eat every day after school!" One fellow described his mother as "a nice but demanding person." I often wonder if more parents should be a tad more demanding. My favorite comment came from a boy who says it like I've never heard it said before, "My mom is the main piece in my puzzle." Does anyone know how I can get my paragraphs back?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nesting and Resting

I thought I had better document the amazing architecture of the actual nest. The internet said that robins may build a new nest on top of the old one, but that they won't actually use the old one. I think that must be the case here. I don't know if that white thing is plastic, cloth, or what, but I can only imagine Mrs. Robin squealing with delight at such a find! "Oh, that's just PERFECT for my nest!" I wonder if it was awkward at all to carry while flying. More awkward still...the process of weaving it into the nest! I wish I could have watched the nest being built. Nesting must be quite the dramatic process. Resting? Not so dramatic. "Except when that lady opens her blinds and window to take yet another picture. This is my classic 'stink-eye' pose!"

Saturday, April 28, 2012


We humans think we're so busy and we have so many deadlines. I'll bet robins have a fairly narrow window of opportunity to do their thing according to the weather each year. Still five eggs--doesn't look like the over-achiever will try for six. Yeah, I'm getting a little tired of the daily bird posts because until something hatches, Mama will just be chillin' on her nest, turning the eggs every so often so they don't stick to the insides of the shells. She'll also be leaving now and then to find nourishment. The internet says Father is close by and she can holler at him if something alarming happens. I guess he's always willing to guard his DNA. So far, she's kept quiet while staring at me through the screen. She doesn't like me, though. Not one bit. Speaking of "chillin'", I went to visit K at Kamp Kyburz yesterday after school. Thank my lucky stars, I had a good audio book for all that stop and go on the freeway. K was engrossed in a documentary (Ken Burns' Baseball) when I arrived so we finished watching that inning. Then we snuggled up side by side on our folding chairs (a wedding gift) to play Who Wants to be a Millionaire? on the Wii. I won the first one, K won the second one, and I broke the tie with the third game. Yes! We decided to go out to dinner and we ended up at Maddox, "Utah's Number One Destination Restaurant." People DO love it. We waited less than ten minutes and next thing you know we were chowing on those fresh hot rolls with raspberry honey butter. I had the turkey steak, not knowing I was ordering a breaded, deep fried thing (I should ask more questions), but it was good. I still can't get over how servers have the gall to ask if you want dessert. I know it's their job, but dessert is impossible. The Ranger went to work this morning and I came back to Base Kamp after a two hour stop at my classroom. Today is Junior Ranger day and he was looking forward to giving his programs. I wanted to record a couple of things here about how nice my husband is to me. He reads Facebook, so I can't record it there! When I got to Kamp Kyburz, naturally I used the bathroom after my little road trip. Later, K used the bathroom and when he came out, he said, "I'm sorry you had to change the toilet paper roll, Sweetie." WHO SAYS THAT??? My husband. So kind! This morning, as he was attempting to put his contacts into uncooperative eyes which are dry and afflicted due to the side affects of allergy medication, he offered, "Thanks for sacrificing by coming up here to visit me." I nearly choked. Sacrificing? First of all, I do visit the boy and he visits me. Just on Tuesday we met in SLC. We see each other every week. Second of all, I'm not the one that's been sleeping on the floor for four years. And third of all, I'm not the one that's been driving 500-600 miles every week (for four years). I replied, "It wasn't a sacrifice." He said, "Well, you had to sit in traffic after working all week." Isn't he amazing? I'm so glad he's mine. Oh, and yesterday was the big anniversary of our very first kiss because I keep track of that stuff. NINE YEARS I've been kissin' that boy!
FYI/PS: I hate it when blogger changes things around. I have typed this post in PARAGRAPHS, people, actual PARAGRAPHS! And yet, it will NOT post in paragraphs. Grrr...

Friday, April 27, 2012

After the Storm

Looks like she made it! The storm was fairly terrific last night. BIG WIND and rain and lightning. When I went to bed that tree was rockin' and rollin' but she held on. I know robins have been doing this for eons and of course, she must have superior robin DNA as far as the gene pool goes, but I do confess, I said a little prayer. Colder this morning but who cares? The tree is fairly still.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Make That Five

The internet says five robin eggs is "very rare." We're not just lookin' at robins, folks. These are Rare Robins!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Mother Robin has been put on bedrest. As far as I can ascertain, she has finished her egg work and now is using her brood patch to incubate. A lot of human mothers lament their bedrest. I wonder how she feels about it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


And then there were four, the perfect number of robin eggs according to robins.

I chose the title as if I were yelling, "FOUR!" I guess they do that in golf, but I'm thinking of the Timp Cave Trail. They have these little brass numbers pounded into the pavement every hundred feet. The purpose is really so maintenance can do their government paperwork. Instead of writing on the form, "We repaired the trail near the cave entrance by the cliff and the pine tree," they can use the numbers to more accurately pinpoint the location of their work. Visitors ask about it all day long. Sometimes those numbers really get people up to the top because as you hike up, the numbers decrease in order with ZERO being at the entrance of Hansen Cave. It can be quite motivating. Sometimes visitors practically go mad if they can't find one of them because it's covered in dirt or something. Just below the restrooms (rangers, now I'm worried I'm not remembering this correctly, it's been a long winter, please correct me if I'm wrong), the brass marker with "4" on it appears. Countless times each day, a visitor, usually the one in the lead of his particular hiking group, will yell out in encouragement, "FOUR!"

So I had to yell it out too!

Monday, April 23, 2012

And then, Three

A third egg! This is what I learned online:

It's tough to make a robin egg. I won't go through the whole process with you, but Mother Robin is working hard! It sounds like many birds lay their eggs first thing in the morning, but not robins! They wait until MID-morning because their first priority is to find food. That old saying..."the early bird gets the worm" just for robins. Mother Robin needs to eat a lot to accomplish her tasks and the very best time for breakfast is early in the morning, so that's what she's up to. After a good meal, she can go back to her tree and get on with laying another blue egg. Apparently, other birds can get away with laying eggs first and then going out for breakfast.

The typical robin lays four eggs in her clutch, so we'll see what else is in store. One egg a day is the way it usually goes and when there's four, I guess she feels like that's enough mouths to feed. Mother most often tends the nest, but Father sometimes helps and sometimes bring food to Mother. When the babies emerge, both Mom and Dad wear themselves out to feed everybody.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I Woke Up Sunday Morning...

I've been sort of watching to see if anyone would use the same nest as last year and this morning I was rewarded with these two little blue robin eggs. Perhaps when Tall returns, he'll be able to use his height advantage to see if there's one more hiding in there that I can't see. Or perhaps the parents will lay more eggs!

Looking at my blog post from last year, it would seem that like everything else, the robins are "early" this year. Last year's date for the egg photo was May 8th and of course today is April 22nd.

If you can't stand my mundane bird posts, then you'll probably have to skip reading the blog for awhile. I can only imagine that these bird updates will strongly parallel the progress we witnessed last spring. I'll never tire of the miracle of it all.

My BIG QUESTION is: Are these the same parents using the same nest or did those folks get tired of all the photographs and move on? Maybe these parents have no idea they are camped next to a female human who can't seem to get over how trippy animals really are. I should have them email the sea lions in San Francisco for tips on tolerance.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


No, I don't have a picture of Carl. Carl is my service advisor for all things Corolla. I went today for my regular lube, oil, and filter service. I also needed an emissions test and safety inspection so I can further pay for the privilege of licensing my car for another year.

Flashback to last fall...I went in for a similar LOF and everything was great. The next morning, my car wouldn't start. I got it to start after school and drove it back to Carl. I explained to him, probably in a fifth grade teacher sort of voice, that the reason I pay him lots of money to regularly maintain my car is so that I can count on it to start in the morning, especially the morning after a maintenance service. Well, my battery was old and dead (8.5 years old to be exact, which I found out is a pretty darn good long time!). When they tested it, it was fine, so the mechanics didn't catch it. It wasn't really Carl's fault, exactly, but he was the one on the receiving end of my words. The mechanics never show their faces. Carl gave me a new battery for free, had my engine steam cleaned, and had the car washed and vacuumed. I'm not stupid. I know that no matter how much free stuff Carl does for me or gives to me, they are all still making a living over there, but Carl strives to help his customers feel like coming back next time. I hope the dealer knows how lucky they are to have him.

Fast forward to this weekend. I called Carl to let him know I would be in this morning. He's a friendly receptionist--waves as you pull into the service drive, jogs right over to get your door for you, calls you by name, and all that good customer service stuff. We chatted for a moment while he wrote up my service order and then I headed for the waiting area with my book. After a while, Carl came to me with some bad news. My nine year old vehicle had a couple of leaks. He explained everything. I asked questions. I told him I needed a few minutes to think it over and call my husband. K was fine with the repairs and we decided to do it now (when will the repair ever be less expensive than now?). I gave Carl the go ahead. As he passed by once, he placed a wrapped chocolate of some sort right in front of me and said, "Delicious!" I let it sit there for a long time because I knew I had a long time to wait, so I just kept reading. I finally gave up the fight, wrapped up my chewing gum and enjoyed the Mrs. Field's chocolate covered cookie dough treat. Does Carl have people skills? Yes, yes he does.

After a few more minutes, Carl came into the waiting room with Cheryl, an elderly woman who was threatening to faint on the service drive. He was holding hands with her and kind of steering her by the elbow. She was walking slowly, talking about how she'd lost a third of the feeling in her right leg, and needed something to eat. Carl seated Cheryl comfortably and then proceeded to get her some popcorn and hot chocolate. Carl is married with two sons and I am desperate to meet his wife. I want to know if she is treated this well at home!

As Carl passed by me again, I said, "Carl, I have a sick feeling in my stomach--just tell me we made the right choice by getting those leaks fixed now." As he grabbed my chewing gum and chocolate wrapper trash, he said, "Jody, you're ruining the surprise at the end! I'm not going to charge you for the emissions testing and safety inspection." No kidding, tears welled up in my eyes. And the NEXT time he passed by, he slipped me another chocolate!

When all was said and done (and the car was washed, vacuumed, and even the inside window was cleaned with the dash wiped down), Carl grabbed the wrapper from the second chocolate, handed me my paperwork, and escorted me to the cashier. I thanked him for giving me a discount, got a little teary-eyed once again, and mentioned that my husband is staring at unemployment as of June 8th, wanting to really let Carl know how much I appreciated him. He didn't bat an eye or skip a beat. He said, "Jody, I see about forty people a day. Bring a stack of resumes and I'll hand them out." You see, Carl isn't just a service advisor. He's also working as a psychologist, nursing home care taker, restaurant server, custodian, and Human Resources Manager!

For the first time in our nine year "relationship" Carl gave me a little side-arm hug. I wonder if those cashier ladies see this stuff all day every day or if K and I are just lucky to have Carl in our cheering section. Either way, I pray that he and his wife and their two sons will have all the blessings they need. Thank you, Carl!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

So Long, Cali!

The poppies were all in bloom, we bought the most wonderful tangerines, I discovered these dehydrated veggie chips, the railroad museum in Old Sac was phenomenal, we negotiated our way through a Sierra Nevada spring snowstorm (meant to stop and look around in the tiny berg of Kyburz, but kept moving with the snowplows), and we even took a small detour to Virginia City, Nevada. This was our fifth visit to California as a married couple and we STILL have unfinished business! The Park Ranger has really outdone himself again--good times with the Mister! We are so incredibly blessed to have had this Spring Break together. Dare I say I'm feeling rejuvenated? Dare I?

Leland Stanford, Jr. University

The museum at Stanford is free! It doesn't open until 11:00 a.m. so we entertained ourselves by viewing all of the Rodin bronzes outside in the sculpture garden.

Stanford was named for the son of Leland and Jane (is it Jane?) Stanford. Leland Stanford was once governor of California as well as a senator. He was there for the opening AND closing ceremonies of the Central Pacific's quest to make a transcontinental railroad. He was one of the Big Four, whose names K could rattle off for you effortlessly. Their boy was named Leland DeWitt Stanford at birth, but later changed his name to Leland Stanford, Jr. He was their only child. He died tragically as a young teen after contracting typhoid in Europe.

K tells me that the Stanfords wanted to donate some money to Harvard University. However, some snooty soul back East said, "You don't have any money." Leland Stanford said, "I don't?" So he made a university in honor of his late son and we all know how spendy it is to get an education there! We enjoyed our time on "The Farm" in Palo Alto!

Here are a couple of shots of Rodin's "The Thinker."

And I couldn't resist...just one more thinker:

Housed at this museum are the gold and silver spikes used at the Last Spike ceremony at Promontory, Utah on May 10, 1869. The shovel used in the opening ceremony is also on display along with the silver spike maul which was used in the May 10th ceremony to drive the last spike in. K and I can now say we have seen ALL of the ceremonial spikes except for the one that nobody has seen which they think was destroyed in the great San Francisco earthquake and fires in 1906. We can die happy now.

One Fish, Two Fish

These are metallic silver anchovies swimming counter clockwise at the aquarium. And when their mouth's open, their robotic looking jaws seem to practically come unhinged!

Thatsa Moray!

Red Fish...

Blue Fish!

Jelly Belly

I now know the difference between a sting ray and a skate (simple, skates don't have stingers). I also learned they love the color pink and will race right over to visitors wearing that. I touched them. I also touched a few other animals at the aquarium, right along side of all the other five year olds.

Polite Panhandlers

When you go to a place like Fisherman's Wharf, you can except to see all types of everything. Panhandlers are a part of the scene. I must say, however, that San Francisco may possibly have cornered the market on very polite panhandlers. One man asked me for spare change (I truly didn't have any, but I always say "no" anyway because we donate to various organizations and I learned a long time ago in New York City that while you're reaching for change, there could be a lot of other crime going on). His reply? "Drive safely!" A woman asked us for fifty cents. We declined. She reponded with a smile, "Have a nice day!"

She was walking just ahead of us, so I was able to observe her asking the next five people for fifty cents. In each and every case, she was turned down. Like a broken record she repeated while smiling, "Have a nice day." Judgmental me observed the Ghirardelli bag swinging in her hand. I thought of a few probing questions such as, "Why don't you return that chocolate for cash?" I also tend to want to interview panhandlers: "What's your objective? Why fifty cents? Why not ask for more? Less? What's your success rate? How do you decide who to approach?" And so on. One guy refused to give her fifty cents but offered her a cigarette which she accepted. And she seemed to have a special salutation for the other panhandlers.

We devoured our clam chowder and sourdough bread bowls from Boudin's. I asked the server how to pronounce Boudin's--is it "BOW-DINS" or "BO-DINS?" He said, "I don't know!" He brought another employee who told us it's pronounced "BOO-DEENS." Boudin's. Delicious. Especially on a rainy day in Spring.

Miss Rumphius

Call me silly, but there's this picture book I read aloud to my class on the last day of school every year called Miss Rumphius. They call her the Lupine Lady and I'm pretty sure she's been to San Francisco!

Golden Gate Bridge

This year happens to be the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. Be it far from me to tell you anything about it other than...I am so impressed. Whenever we drive on dirt roads, for goodness sake, I am impressed by the labor that went into building that road. Same thing for railroad tracks, snow sheds, the Chinese wall, the Timpanogos Cave Trail, and yes, the Golden Gate Bridge. I learned on this trip that the average depth of the water in the San Francisco Bay is 18 feet. Ships have to go through a very narrow channel so they don't beach themselves on a sand bar. We also learned about all the hidden missiles and the whole defense system put in place before World War II. Everything's amazing in San Francisco!

Marin Headlands

On the Marin County side of the bridge, there's an NPS site called Marin Headlands. Beautiful! K got a back country permit and camped there once. I had been once before as well, but this was our first time visiting together. We stopped in several places, but we also drove down to the lagoon and Rodeo Beach.

Looks like your basic beach scene, right? Brown sand, white foamy water...but check out the brown sand a little more closely...

So pretty! And yet...looks can be deceiving...there was a sign here advising us to avoid touching the water. They say there's a high concentration of harmful bacteria in the water at this beach. So what does my cute husband do? He runs right out and picks this thing up:

Although they call it Rodeo Beach, to me, it will always be Bacteria Beach.

We were lucky enough to catch a little synchronized water ballet at the lagoon on the way out.