Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fun video: van Gough in Dominoes

Here is another random artsy video I just ran across. I love these unusual art projects because it helps to get us to think outside the box. Who knows, maybe someone else will be inspired to domino art. We've seen jellybeans, words from books, and art made from trash and other objects, why not dominoes?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Comparing Two Coasts: Travel Report from Santa Cruz, California and home

This past week we have been away, which is why I haven't been posting.

Our family flew out to San Jose, CA, to see my one and only brother graduate with a PhD in Transpersonal Psychology. In the week we were there, we were able to explore Santa Cruz, see some gorgeous old growth redwoods and take a dip in the Pacific Ocean in addition to the San Lorenzo River. The river tumbles from the redwood covered hills down to Santa Cruz and flows into the sea right beside the Boardwalk (a permanent amusement park there). Santa Cruz, being right beside the 57 degree water, is frequently foggy and cool. It's also well known to surfers and beach bum types.:)

My kids sampled the water where the river flows into the ocean beside the boardwalk, as well as up in the cool redwood forest. They also went in the water on the beach in Santa Cruz on a day when the fog had rolled in. The fog advances and recedes in an almost unpredictable way and the temperature can go from sunny and hot to cold and windy in minutes. Each time they went in the water determined and came out happy but shivering. Needless to say, this grownup wasn't going in, no sir.

Guess I must have turned into an old fart.

Here's a picture of Uncle Sean in his wetsuit waving to the kids (egging them on?).:)

At the beach I found a super long piece of washed-up kelp (12 feet?) and we played jump-kelp for a bit!

Also to be seen down near the Wharf are some sea lions that were very conveniently hauled out on a platform. A walkway lets tourists come within a few feet of these huge pinnipeds. They were really fun to watch as they sunned themselves and fought and jostled for space. The difference in size between the smallest and biggest must have been 200lbs! They can also move surprisingly fast. I was a little nervous about the kids standing on the railing. Falling over into these guys would not have been a happy thing. They were fascinating though. We watched them for quite a while.

The old growth redwood forest was magnificent, and we saw it both walking and from the Roaring Camp train, which took us down to Santa Cruz. Many of those tress are 2,000 years old. I would also definitely recommend the train. Not only do you get a great ride through the redwoods and along the river, it ends up on the Boardwalk and then takes you back up to the hills again when you are done.

Upon returning home, the hot humid air hit us and we were reminded of summer in North Carolina. Not quite swimming through the air as you do in Florida, but close enough!

 Still jet-lagged, we found ourselves a couple of days later on the Eno River enjoying a little good old-fashioned stream-stomping with some fellow homeschool friends. The Eno at Few's Ford is just perfect for kids. There are some deeper holes to swim in and some really shallow sections, and it's very easy access. The water flows, but not too fast. Upstream just a little way is a small series of waterfalls and rocks they all had fun climbing over and sliding down (I don't have pictures of this as I forgot the camera downstream.). Needless to say, the water was a bit warmer than the west coast!
My kids were born in the area of San Jose, CA, and my husband works for a company there, so we are often comparing and wondering if we should move back. As much as I love to visit, and miss my family and friends out there, I still love North Carolina. Even with it's bugs and summer heat, there is just something about the forests and streams of the East Coast that call to me in a way that the drier West never did. Maybe it was our hikes through the Appalachians as college students, I'm not sure, but I think we'll stay.

(Jessi is holding her little friend Cory in this picture.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

A few pictures from the past week: live shows and more fun

We will be in and out of town for the next few weeks, and I intend to surgically remove myself from my computer for a while, so I may not get to post again for a bit.

For now, here are just a few fun pictures from the past week.

Projects were worked on (raised garden beds! yeah!), playdates were had, make-up classes were attended... and even some dancing in the rain.

My daughter, at least, ended up doing three outdoor shows in three days over the weekend. The rest of the family only did two. If anyone else tells me that there is nothing to do in this area I'll have to check their eyes and ears for functioning. Spring, Summer, and Fall there are things going on every weekend. Sometimes more than one in a day.

The first night my daughter went with a friend to a Sing-a-Long showing of the Sound of Music. Attendees got dressed up, picnicked, had a sing-a-long and heckled the movie like they do for The Rocky Horror Picture Show... though it wasn't exactly like that... it was a lot cleaner... at least I hope it was.:)

The second night a friend lured us to the North Carolina Symphony Concert at our local amphitheater for another wonderful evening of hanging out with friends, eating good food and listening to good music.

The third night was a funky evening of World Music at the North Carolina Museum of Art. "Afrocubism" was the theme. It was a mix of Malian and Cuban artists, and there was definitely some dancing and a little card playing going on.

Of course we are just sampling some of the wonderful stuff going on while we can fit it in. Just in case you live in the area and haven't checked out the various live entertainment venues, here's a list of links to get you started:

Koka Booth Ampitheatre Events (including all the Summerfest Symphony events)
North Carolina Museum of Art Summer Events
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Museum of Life and Science in Durham
Free Concerts at the Sertoma Ampitheatre at Bond Park
Free Concerts at the Page-Walker Hotel
Summer events in the New Cary Arts Center theatre
Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival - Town of Cary
Town of Cary Independence Day Events
Festival for the Eno - Durham
Raleigh Concert Events
Raleigh Little Theatre
Durham Bulls games
Carolina Railhawks games
Wake County Speedway (car racing)

This is just a short list of a few of the things I know about. Feel free to add to the list if you live in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. Of course, anywhere you go opportunities abound. You just have to go out and find them!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bird Cam Update and Some New Nests to Watch

If you want a little break from watching your own little chicks, watching live bird-cams can be kinda fun and educational. These are cameras set up in or just outside of nests so you can peep in and see the babies on a continuous live video stream. Seems a lot of people (and kids) have been having fun watching the bird cams I posted about a little while ago here and here. Those were two bird-cams put up by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Since I have posted about the Red Tailed Hawks and the Great Blue Herons, the babies have hatched and grown considerably! In fact, the red-tails are fledging this week so you should check in before they are gone! The herons may be fledging next week.

I love the Cornell Lab site because they have good quality real-time cameras that don't have any advertisements. They also have a moderated chat window, so if you want to ask relevant questions of the knowledgeable moderator, you can. The Cornell people have also added nest cameras for American kestrels and ospreys. There are five chicks in the kestrel nest box in Idaho, and the osprey chicks should be hatching any time now!

Kestrils: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/page.aspx?pid=2451 

Ospreys: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/page.aspx?pid=2445

There are a couple of other live nest cameras I have been watching periodically that are up on another host called UStream. I dislike the annoying commercial breaks, but if you have the patience to put up with them, there is a cute little Anna's hummingbird nesting in Southern California here:
Two babies have hatched this week.

There are also three bald eagles about to fledge here:

Have fun with the bird watching!