29 June 2008


We have a family of Western Screech Owls living in the trees connecting our yard to Awesome Neighbors' yard. A few days ago we were in the yard with the kiddos and heard some strange noises coming from the trees - noises which resembled those of the little owls we'd seen in the yard last year. On closer inspection of the apple trees, we spotted at least 5 babies (5 or 6, I don't remember) plus one watchful mama on a nearby branch (above). They are ADORABLE. Awesome Photog Neighbor took the above picture, plus this one of the babies:

Wook at their cute widdle iddy biddy owl toes! The kiddos were very excited, and commenced hooting at the owls. Mama owl was none too thrilled with our presence, so after lots of pointing, hooting (from Doodle and little neighbor A) and photographing we left them alone. We have seen them a couple of times since, but not all clumped together like this.

27 June 2008

beware the Romas

I really think you should read this. I think the author is right on about corporate agriculture. Remember the spinach scare? Seems like a new thing every spring/summer that we should be afraid about. Maybe we should just start growing our own food, or buying from local farmers we trust. Seems like an easier solution to me.

Odd utterances

This morning I heard myself utter this phrase:

"Miss Doodle, we do not throw dead mice!"1

What odd things have you caught yourself saying?

1) Context: I pulled a (dead) mouse out of the freezer to thaw and feed to one of our snakes. Doodle wanted to see it. I handed it to her, letting her hold it in its plastic bag. When I asked for it back, she ran to the living room and started climbing on the couch to get away from me. I asked for it back again, grabbing onto her. It was then that she threw the mouse - perhaps better for it to be lost to everyone than for the dreaded MOM to get it? Anyhow, that's when the above phrase was uttered.

...like the grown ups do

We have dabbled a bit with Elimination Communication (EC) with Doodle. EC basically means communicating with your little one about pottying, and when possible giving them "potty-tunities" to relieve themselves someplace other than their diaper (usually a little potty, bowl, sink, etc.). We're fairly inconsistent in offering "potty-tunities," but every once in a while Doodle will make it known that she needs to go and we'll remove her diaper so she can do so. This came in handy on our Epic Hike, as she would hold it until she was out of her backpack. Thus we were able to pee her at stopping points along the hike and only went through three diapers that whole time.

She will also sometimes wait until morning to relieve herself. So some mornings she wakes up dry, then we plop her on a potty and she does her thing. But sometimes she pitches a fit (usually when she's not fully awake yet) and we have to give her some time before she's ready. Yesterday was a variation on the not-ready theme.

Doodle woke up happy after sleeping in. We nursed, read a couple of books, and then I figured I'd change her diaper. But lo - She was still dry! So off to the bathroom we went. I offered the little potty, and got a stern "NO" from Doodle. Offered to sit her on the big potty (I sit on the seat, and put her in front of me so she feels supported), and she nodded. We got situated and she started yelling in protest. I figured she wasn't ready. I set her down, and she ran into the bedroom. I followed, only to see her grab a book: Llama llama red pajama. She then carried the book into the bathroom. I asked her if she wanted to read on the potty and she nodded an emphatic "yes". So we sat back on the big potty and started reading Llama llama. Apparently that was all she needed because she was able to complete her business and was happy as a clam about it.

Was it that potties are boring, and she needed outside stimulation? Just needed to get one more reading of Llama llama in before she was ready to start the day? I don't know. I'm not even sure that she's seen either J or myself ever reading on the potty, so I don't think that was her inspiration. Either way, it worked!


20 June 2008

Upcoming show

Club Cairo is coming up!  I'll be performing a choreographed duet (see Inara on the flyer?  That's me!), plus dancing with troupe Saffron.  Come join in the festivities - it'll be a blast!

18 June 2008

Last one

Okay, here's one last photo from our trip. You can see how much fun Doodle was having playing in the dirt at her Auntie T's wedding reception. Look at that dust fly!

City of Rocks

Sunday was our first trip to the City of Rocks. It is a beautiful place. Doodle and I played around while J and YogaFriend climbed. It was great to be outside all day. We saw lizards, flowers, solitary bees, tenebrionid beetles, mayflies... tons of cool stuff. YogaFriend even brought a hammock, which Doodle and I played in for a while. It was great. We will definitely be going back, hopefully soon.


One great thing about learning a belly dance choreography with swords is the walk home. Last night J and I were heading home, pushing Doodle in a stroller and wielding a big shiny sword. Overheard comment: "Whoa, it's a ninja sword." Yep, that's right. I'm a ninja in training. Look out, world!

16 June 2008

Father's Day

Yesterday was wonderful. We went up to the City of Rocks for the day. Our yoga friend showed us around, and she and J climbed while Doodle and I played. I planned to get on the rocks, but Doodle was clingy so I skipped it this time. It was a gorgeous day in a really awesome area. We will definitely be going back.

Here's a cute pic of Papa and Doodle together.

Happy outdoorsy Father's Day, my love.

13 June 2008

Epic journey

When J and I were dating he told me of some epic backpacking trips he'd been on. They were the kind of trip where things go wrong, but everyone is fine in the end and has a great story to tell afterwards. You've heard stories like this: the backpacking trip where it torrentially downpoured the entire time and they had to sleep in a lighthouse. Or the time they went up the wrong drainage, so they had to navigate cross-country and dry camp for a night. Things like that. Well, up until now J and I really hadn't had anything you could call an epic adventure. Sure, we've gotten lost out on the dunes, finding our way back to the car at dusk and missing my bellydance class. But nothing quite like this hike.

We started out with the intention of J showing Doodle and I some of the area around the Mammoth Lakes. We planned a 6-ish mile hike, going from Horseshoe Lake past McLeod Lake, through Mammoth Pass and down into a meadow between the Red Cones (route in yellow on the map). We would then backtrack on the same trail to return to the car. Piece of cake. Nice, simple afternoon hike.

The road to Horseshoe Lake was still closed, so we had to park and walk in a little ways. No big deal. J had mentioned that there are increasing CO2 levels around Horseshoe Lake due to Mammoth Mountain's activity and that trees are dying. I expected dead trees. I did not expect skull-and-crossbones signs like these posted all around. I was alarmed, but since we were merely passing by the lake and quickly heading to higher elevations it was fine. Just unnerving.

So we skedaddled onward and upward toward Mammoth Pass. The trees looked healthy just past Horseshoe Lake, and everything was beautiful. We started to hit pockets of snow between the trees just past McLeod Lake, and were slipping on them a bit as we hiked uphill.
Doodle was giggling as we slid on the snow until I fell hard and she bonked her mouth on the back of my head. We decided that J is more stable and surefooted than I, so we traded loads and resumed hiking. We found our way through Mammoth Pass using the blue diamonds nailed to trees to mark trails in winter, as the snow between the trees obscured the trail. After lunch and a snowball fight we hiked down into the meadow between the Red Cones. There was still patchy snow in the meadow and it was too early for wildflowers. We heard a chorus of frogs on the far side of the meadow, and Doodle saw some trout swimming in the stream. (Photos: J and Doodle in the Pass, one of the Red Cones seen from the meadow.)

While we sat and played, J proposed that we make the hike into a loop. It was going well, we had enough supplies to go further, the weather was nice and Doodle was enjoying herself. Why not? The proposed route (in orange and pink) went down ~1600m into Red's Meadow via the Pacific Crest Trail. We would then see if the bath house for the Red's Meadow hotsprings was open, and maybe take a quick d ip. Then back up the trail out of Red's Meadow, through Mammoth Pass, and back to the car. It would add, we estimated, about 5 miles to our hike. We could definitely make it back to the car way before sunset. After all, it was only 1pm. We decided to go for it. With Miss Doodle back in her pack we set off for Red's Meadow.

The hike was gorgeous, and the trail was in great condition. After a little while we realized that our map must not be accurate, as it said we were supposed to be reaching tight switchbacks and instead we were slowly meandering down the hill via winding traverses. Oh well, we thought. We were still heading in the right direction. It was just taking a bit longer than we anticipated. Then we made it to the burn. A few years back this area east of Devil's Postpile National Monument was burned. It is now covered in downed trees, standing dead trunks, tree debris and small shrubs. It was a beautiful but eerie setting. Fortunately the trail had been cleared of debris, so it was still easy going. (Photo: view of Devil's Postpile from the Pacific Crest Trail between Red Cones and Red's Meadow.)

Doodle was napping, the area was gorgeous. And then, a stream crossing. It's silly, really. I have crossed roaring torrents on teetery logs and slippery rocks. This involved none of that. It was a little stream with large, easy flat stones to walk across on. The only problem was that a few of the stones were kind of resting on/supported by a log. The water passed around these stones, then dropped below the log in a mini waterfall. This left some gappage between some of the stones and the log, where one could look down and see the hillside below. Not problematic for some. Very problematic for me. I have been terrified of things just like this my whole life. Just ask my mom about her adventures with me and those open staircases where you can see between the stairs. Yep, terrifying. So when I went to step on the second stone and not only was their a hole that I could see through, but the stone WIGGLED...it was all over. I panicked, wobbled, and promptly stepped into the stream. The cost: two wet feet, and no spare dry socks. Crap. Nothing to do but continue on, now squishing and squelching. J kept asking how my feet were, which was sweet. But they were still wet. We slogged on.

Made it to Red's Meadow, which was pretty. We saw a couple of deer. Walked to the hot springs, and since the road to the meadow was still closed, the bath houses were too. Bummer. Added bummer: the hotsprings were all capped/diverted such that we couldn't even stick our feet (mine clammy) in the warm water. Ah well. We instead soaked our feet in the frigidly cold stream very quickly, then donned our shoes and packs and headed for the trailhead back out. Time check: 5pm. Later than we'd planned on being out, but that's okay. We'd hop on the trail up the hill and be back to the car in no time. Right?

Wrong. I mentioned that our map was inaccurate with the trail from Red Cones to Red's Meadow. Well lucky us, it was also off on the trailhead out of Red's Meadow (this part is in pink on the map). We couldn't find it. This meant trekking cross-country up a large hill (remember the 1600m elevation drop we just did? Now we had to go back up it). Cross country travel is much slower than trail hiking, particularly when you get to the aforementioned burned area. All that woody debris? We had to walk over it, around it, climb on it. Rough stuff. After a serious quad workout of high-stepping over logs we finally we found a trail heading the right direction. That trail met the trail we needed to be on. Hooray! We were heading the right way, things were looking up. The sun was getting lower in the sky, but we were making progress.

Until...the pass. Remember the pass? The snow, the obscured trail? Yep, still there. But this time we got off the trail AGAIN, and now couldn't find the little blue diamonds on the trees to guide us. Crap crap crap! More cross-country travel, slipping and sliding on the snow as it was slowly getting a little bit darker. At one point in this I started crying, afraid that we'd be spending the night in the wilderness (Ansel Adams Wilderness - see photo below), which I was not at all excited to do. J reassured me that we were heading the right direction, that once we were through the pass it would be easy going. That he knew where we were, even if we couldn't find the trail. He gave me the compass as reassurance that he really was heading east, the direction we needed to go. We would make it out of the pass, then downhill to the lakes and back to the car. We could do this. I was silently fuming, but very grateful that J was willing to pause and talk rationally with me in my moment of panic.

We pushed onward. I watched the compass, making sure we were going the right way. I scanned the trees frantically, searching for those darn blue diamonds. Finally, I saw one! (A small part of me had wanted to see the trail markers before J as a spiteful little "Ha! I found it. Now I can get us out of here!" But once we saw them, I was just relieved and my crankiness subsided a bit.) We were back on the trail. Soon we found McLeod lake, then the snow subsided and we quickly made it down to Horseshoe Lake. The sun was now behind the mountains at our backs, and it was getting dark. Fast. But we were on the last little stretch, which was pavement back to the car. We were tired, sore and hungry. My feet were still damp and starting to blister up. Doodle was tired and a little fussy in her backpack, but still quite the trooper. (Side note: If you're looking for a baby backpack, try this one. It is WONDERFUL.)

We finally made it back to the car after 9:30pm. It was dark and cold. But we had made it. What a relief. We piled in, and headed back to the cabin. The next day we were feeling the effects of the scrambling and extended hiking. I had blisters on my feet. J and I had legs so sore we could hardly move. I had tender spots on my clavicles from a too-big daypack. We decided to relax, and let Doodle have a day of freedom from constraints. She earned it, after many hours and nearly 13 miles of hiking in her backpack.

In all, it was a good hike. We saw beautiful scenery. We had fun. We did learn that we need to re-evaluate our collective limits, and that maybe next time we'll just go for that 6 mile out-and-back hike. But we also learned that when we have to, we can do the 13 mile, lots of elevation change hike with soggy feet and a toddler and survive to tell about it. And now we have a family epic hike story we can tell.

The Cabin

We had a couple of reasons for driving to California rather than flying this time around.  First, the cost was comparable.  Second, we would be able to help run wedding-prep errands if we had our own vehicle down there.  Third, we could stop by the cabin on the way.  Once we realized the third option, there was no way we were flying.  

The Cabin belongs to J's dad, and is located in the Eastern Sierra Nevada, a little north of Bishop.  It is J's favorite part of the whole world.  He grew up visiting his grandparents' cabin up there (incidentally, their cabin is right next door to J's dad's cabin), and loves that area.  He even spent a summer working up there.  Plus I had only seen the cabin in winter (a one-night stay after fleeing an impending Death Valley storm on New Years Eve 2005) and spring (our first roadtrip, spring break 2003).  I needed to see the cabin in summer.  So we had to go.

There are a couple of ways you can go to get to the cabin from SLC.  You can drive across the top of Nevada on I-80, then head south on Hwy 395.  Or you can drive diagonally southwest across Nevada on Hwy 6.  Most people will opt for I-80.  Why?  It's a major interstate with predictable gas stations, more traffic, and towns along the way.  Highway 6 does not have this.

Highway 6 is in the middle of nowhere.  This would deter most road-trippers.  But not us.  It's the faster way to go, and so we went.  Turns out it's a really beautiful drive.  Yes, we kept a close eye on the gas gauge with the sparseness of towns on the map.  But that was fine.  We were free of bazillions of billboards and the same set of fast food signs peeking up from each exit along major interstates.  We got to see the Basin and Range region in all its glory.  The passes were pretty, the traffic was minimal, and it was easy going.  I'd definitely recommend that route.

Our stay at the cabin was wonderful.  We turned off our cell phones, and settled into a few days of just being together and enjoying the area.  We went on an epic adventure (post to follow), and spent the rest of our time relaxing.  Here are some cabin pics.  I really hope to spend more time there in the future.  (As you can see, Miss Doodle loves it there too!)



As promised, here are some pics from our trip.  First, a couple of me from the Shah Sitara Showcase in SLC.  Our last performance as troupe Zivah.  *sniff sniff*

10 June 2008

We're back!

Day one back from the roadtrip: already taught a section of Human Anatomy lab, and am now catching up on emails. Soooo much tidying and unpacking left to do, plus mowing, weeding, and seedling transplanting. But it's raining now, so the outdoors stuff will have to wait.

Here's a summary of the trip, with more details and pics to follow.

31st - Drove to SLC. Danced in the Shah Sitara Showcase. Crashed at a friend's house.
1st - Drove to The Cabin (Eastern Sierra Nevada, CA).
2nd - Crazily long hike above Mammoth Lakes.
3rd - Vegged at the cabin, recovering from hike. Bought chocolate and books in Mammoth. Went to the hotsprings.
4th - Drove to Glendora (greater LA region, CA). Stayed with J's mom.
5th - Ran errands for T's (J's sis) wedding.
6th - More wedding prep. Rehearsal at the church, rehearsal dinner afterwards.
7th - Wedding day! It was beautiful, and we had a blast.
8th - Packed up. Went to MECDA Bellydance Carnivale. Left SoCal, camped in a corner of AZ just outside St. George, UT.
9th - Puttered around campsite in the morning. Drove home to Logan.

Doodle did wonderfully with all of the driving, and really loved the cabin. She seemed to enjoy being fawned over by family once she got over her initial stranger danger with various people. She gives high fives, knuckles, and "noggin" (head bumps) on request, plus kisses or hugs to the family members she warms up to. She's such a love.

Okay, back to catching up on other things. I'll post photos of Miss Doodle in her cuteness, plus other random stuff later.