Thursday, July 31, 2008

Yes, Blake - we have Olympic fever, also known as

Brian has been working 12 hour days, 7 days a week, for 45 days straight for an INSANE amount of money.

So, for our anniversary - YAY 30 YEARS - I finally bought a home theatre surround sound to go with our existing TV and it is FANTASTIC. We put 2 speakers right behind Brian's head and 3 more point right at him. So we all can hear the sound, but none of us is going to go deaf because of it. Then of course, you notice that the TV would be even better if the picture was the same quality as the sound, so that got us looking at a new TV, but we haven't got it yet. I hope to get one before the Olympics.

We were going to go up and get one together, but the job keeps going and going, so I'll probably have to go without him to make the Olympic start.

Then, if we have a new TV and surround sound, we should have a different satelite dish so we have all the latest channels and bells and whistles, so that might happen too. These are all projects we had been trying to buy for about 5 years, but just haven't had the money. So, we'll see .

The job was only supposed to be 3 days, but it shows no sign of stopping any time soon. It's really insane. And we are being smart with the money too - we paid off our car this week. COOL - HUH ??? I bought the new car the month before Gates let us know that the company was shutting down, and EVERY month since then, that car payment the last week of the month has been the bane of our existence. SO WHEW, what a relief to finally not have that hanging over our heads.

We are very blessed and know that this is a direct gift from God and we are very thankful to Him for blessing us so abundantly.

Love, Charlotte

Answers about the goose

Well, guys I really don't know how long geese live. For Alicia's 18th birthday i wanted to give her something unique and she was headed away to Montana to study Agriculture, so I figured livestock would be a good gift.

We bought mated pairs of 4 kinds of ducks and the 2 geese. We didn't know that one of our ducks was homicidal until the mama goose and 3 or 4 of the ducks were dead. The plan was to keep all the mama and daddy animals and eat the little ones, but we never did. The first year, we just had one baby live - Dixie - and you all know the story of how Heathcliff adopted her as his own the minute she walked into the yard after being born.

And the next year, we got about 15 baby ducks, but we didn't know how to cook them so eat just let them live and when Alicia and I went to Hawaii, Brian gave them all away, or sold them. Alicia threatened to drop out of school and come home if he got rid of the goose, and we kept Dixie for all those years to keep him company - until she got eaten by the eagles last year.

I think geese might live for 25 years. We like him because he has lots of personality, he is an excellent watch dog - even though he lives in the back, he knows when ANYBODY comes onto our property and lets every one in the neighborhood know. He protects the other animals from predators - dogs, eagles, hawks, owls, etc. Dixie was down on the pond alone when the eagles got her, so he couldn't save her. He rides herd over the whole flock and makes sure they stay in the yard where they're supposed to be and stuff like that.

Once a year or so, he leads an expedition to the neighbors house to eat Melva's flowers, but we've only had to replace them twice I think. Usually they make such a racket we catch them before the flowers get eaten. Other than that - he keeps everybody back there where they belong. He yells at airplanes and birds when they fly over to sound the warning to the others.

There are some truck drivers that always honks when they go past - some honk at us, some at the neighbors - and Heathcliff always honks back - it's pretty entertaining. Since we mostly deal with him from up on our deck, we can be entertained by him and don't have to worry about him chasing us unless we are down working in the barnyard.

So there you have it - everything I know about the goose and why we have him. They also eat bugs in the garden - and slugs. Chickens will eat everything in the garden, but geese usually will just eat a bite or two of veggies and then they eat all the bugs.

When I was a girl, my grandmother lived near acres and acres of mint farms - they smelled so good driving thru - and the farmers just had flocks of geese in the fields to eat the bugs - no fences or anything to keep them in. They just stayed where they were supposed to be and worked. That was how I first came to like them - I never had any up close experience. It also had always been my goal that if I ever had a pond, I would own ducks and geese. Hope this answers your questions. Love, Charlotte

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

For Ben

I can't believe you can't remember Heathcliff. We've had him for 10 years 3 months. He was one of Alicia's 18th birthday gifts. We had him when you lived here - maybe you didn't get to know him because you were here mostly in the winter.

Notice all the tiny white feathers surrounding him in the summer picture? When he molts - he first drops his big wing feathers. They are about 10 inches long and he has about 30 to 50 of them. This year, they all fell out within a day or two. Then he has to grow in the new ones and the whole process just saps him of all his strength. After his wings come back, his medium feathers come out and regrow and then all the thousands and thousands of tiny ones.

Sometimes, you can see he is just desparately needing a scratch here or there and you want to just pick him up and scrub him and speed the process along, but that would be ill - advised as he does have a pretty nasty bite. Just imagine trying to scratch out every hair on your body and scratch in all new replacement hairs over your whole body - and do it without hands or arms. It is truly a remarkable feat.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Reprieve for the Turkeys

Well, the turkeys earned a reprieve from the freezer for another couple weeks. Well, for 2 reasons.

1. We were going thru an entire feeder in the chicken house every day, plus the turkeys were eating everything we put out for Heathcliff and we figured they were eating us out of house and home and we were going to have to hack them sooner than we had planned.... them being so nasty tempered plus eating so much. We know how much chickens should eat - especially when we are letting them range all over the entire property.

So we couldn't figure out what was happening to the feed..... then last night Justin went out to work on the new goat barn and he got around the corner just in time to see Gretta - the big momma goat - slipping thru the tiny chicken door into the chicken house to eat their grain. She is really big, we have absolutely no idea how she squeezed thru that tiny door, but he saw it with his own eyes. so that mystery was solved and we had to apologize to the turkeys.

2. Alicia and I were in our studio on the 3rd floor and she had a window open to the back yard and we heard a funny sound. At first we thought the dog was into something but she was laying on the stairs asleep. so alicia went over to the window and looked down on the back yard and the Turkey was in full battle array - his head was as red as a tomato and his back was all ruffled and his tail splayed. And he was making a funny chortle. She said, "What's the matter turkey" and this bird flew up and out toward the pond. she didn't get a good look at him, but as near as she could tell it was some kind of falcon.

the Turkeys had corralled all the chickens so that the turkeys were between them and the falcon and had encouraged the other chickens to fly into the goat pens and hide. As soon as the falcon flew away, the chickens in the yard ran as fast as they could into their house. Alicia and I went down and herded and chucked the rest into their house and shut them in until the guys can come home and secure chicken pen. these chickens are really good escape artists, so we have let them be completely free range, but they will have to be penned up now that they have been "discovered." We had the turkeys come out of the chicken house for the afternoon so they wouldn't eat all the feed and they both lay down - one on either side of the chicken ramp and have stood guard for over an hour.

good one on them. We expect that from Heathcliff, but have never seen anything like gallant behavior from these turkeys before --- and Heathcliff is molting so he has no strength to fight anything. He can barely walk across the yard, poor thing.

I didn't even know I could navigate the stairs in such record time. Good to know I still have it in me in an emergency. My heart is still racing, though. WHEW.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Wait for the pictures to come with this post - the cord is upstairs, and I'm not.

A fruit guy came to Homer this week and we went on the last afternoon and paid half price and got a bunch of fruit. The only bulk he had left was apricots and onions. So we got 2 boxes of apricots and 50 pounds of sweet onions. Alicia worked and worked for 2 days and put up 70 jars of apricot jam, preserves, and nectar. We didn't think the apricots had as much flavor as we wanted, so we had 7 peaches and we chopped them into teeny, tiny pieces and dispersed them thruout and it was just that little bit of flavor that we were looking for. Lots of Beta Carotene and Vitamin C to get us thru the winter.

Then today our ward put in a GIANT bulk food order and Alicia and Justin borrowed a trailer from Carlos's and went up to Anchorage to the church cannery and got the order for the ward. They had to load it and unload it 5 times and ended up moving over 11,000 pounds of food total. Plus the drove more than 10 hours to get there and back. WHEW - they are pooped.

Bad news from Anchorage - the fireweed up there is already blowing cotton and is an inch from the top. Ours hasn't even started to bloom. You know what they say - when the fireweed gets to the top, winter is here. We are relieved to have our food and wood in for the winter. We are still wondering when summer is going to get here, but it just might be one of those years when there is no summer. My apple tree just bloomed this week....???

Watch for the pics of the apricot canning to come soon. Love, Charlotte

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

funny new blog

Joanna put a link to this blog on her blog and I have spent like more than an hour reading it and all the silly comments - the blog is funny, but is funnier if you read all the stupid comments. if you like Mormon culture jokes, this is hilarious.

I actually worked with a girl when I worked for the church that came to work one day and said she was pregnant. How far? well, 30 minutes... she always started her period when she got up in the morning and it was 8:00 and it hadn't started yet, so she announced to the whole office, including the bosses -giving them notice that she would soon be a StayAt HomeMom - but then at 10 minutes after 8:00 she started and just absolutely broke down sobbing and had to go home. It wasn't like it was a miscarriage, she was 30 minutes late - not 4 months along.

It all ended happy though - like within 2 months, she really did get pregnant and got to be a stay at home mom afterall.

I realize this post makes no sense if you haven't read the blog I'm referring to - but is funny if you have read it. The blogger and the commentors mention alot about the new craze of selling crafts on the internet -like in an etsy shop - ooops, that one hits a little close to home. hahaha

This week I sold some glass marble magnets that have little bees on them and under them are President Hinckley's 6 bees for young people. hmmmm

"What do we live for but to be sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in return?" (from Mr. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice)

Sunday, July 06, 2008

I survived

Thank you for all your prayers about playing the organ. I have been having panic attacks in my sleep for a couple weeks and have gone back on Lyrica to stop them and have been medicating at night so that I sleep soundly, but this morning I was in a panic attack when I woke up. I couldn't take my extra medicine last night because I had to get up early for church. So the attack continued for about an hour, but didn't turn into a seizure. It tried to, but the Lyrica is really good about controlling the seizures.

Anyway, I told myself that I am not going to miss church anymore and so I hyperventilated and paniced all the way to church, and then just got myself up on that bench and played my songs. There were SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO many people there. They completely filled the gym from what I could see. It was good to hide behind the organ and not see have to think about them all being there.

Anyway, I think the playing went the best I have ever done, so it was a good experience. We finally came to a peaceful conclusion in our family history consultant class and had a really nice Relief Society meeting. Then, our ward is sending in a giant food storage bulk order and we were so excited to have this extra money that Brian is making and we were able to send in a good order to complete our food storage. Justin and Alicia have put in so much firewood, it is such a good feeling to know we have done what our prophets have counseled us to do.

LOVE YOU ALL, Charlotte

Saturday, July 05, 2008

from Seattle Times

Thursday, July 3, 2008 - Page updated at 12:00 AM
Permission to reprint or copy this article or photo, other than personal use, must be obtained from The Seattle Times. Call 206-464-3113 or e-mail with your request.

Balloons suspend Kent Couch in a lawn chair as he floats in the skies near Bend, Ore. Couch plans to make his third ascent Saturday July 5, 2008 in his latest attempt to fly a lawn chair to Idaho.
Larry Couch Web site:
Oregon lawn-chair balloonist hopes to fly for more than 300 miles
The Associated Press
Kent Couch is at it again. While the rest of the country is sleeping off Fourth of July revels on Saturday, he and a host of volunteers will be up before the sun at his gas station in Bend, Ore., to blow up 150 giant latex party balloons and tie them with clothesline to his lawn chair for his third try at flying to Idaho.
"The first time, nobody wanted to be involved at all," Couch said in a phone interview. "They were thinking I was a lunatic, I mean a balloon-atic. I couldn't get anybody on board to help me. My friends shunned me.
"But this time it's different. One guy is donating the oxygen tank from his airplane. That's $1,500. He said, 'Don't worry about it. It's insured."'
And his wife, Susan, has given her blessing.
Couch, 48, was inspired to go up, up, and away by a TV show about the 1982 lawn chair flight over Los Angeles by truck driver Larry Walters, who gained urban myth immortality and had a play written about him, but was fined $1,500 for violating air traffic rules.
"I said, 'You know what, there is nothing wrong with that. It makes common sense to me," Couch said.
Couch made his first ascent in 2006, staying up six hours before shooting out a few balloons with his pellet gun to descend. But he had to jump to earth in his parachute because he was coming down too fast. He never got that lawn chair back.
Last year, he flew 193 miles before running low on helium and landing in sagebrush near Union in northeast Oregon. The flights have gotten him on national TV, but that's not what drives him.
"There is this desire if you've ever had a cluster of balloons in your hand and just imagine yourself floating up in the air," Couch said. "You don't realize all the other technical things. That's just a carefree day. Or you're laying on your back in the backyard and see a cotton cloud float by. You say, 'Wow, wouldn't I like to go up there and ride that cloud.'
"When you're up there, there's not much stress," Couch said. "There's a little stress on the way down. A few navigational issues you've got to deal with. But there's nothing, really, I can do but enjoy it."
With corporate sponsorship this year, he is much better equipped and hopes to fly 300 miles or more, crossing the Wallowa Mountains in northeast Oregon and making it all the way to Idaho and beyond. He figures the whole rig cost about $6,000, mostly for helium and the lawn chair, plus the loan of various gadgets.
He is putting on more balloons — 150 three-foot-diameter latex party balloons.
They tie onto a framework attached to the steel-framed reclining lawn chair, so it hangs like a pendulum. Just tying balloons to the chair makes it hang crooked.
Instead of bags to hold his water ballast, he is using 15-gallon barrels, which he can drain to gain altitude.
Couch will have a finger clip to monitor the oxygen level in his blood, as well as a tank of oxygen to breathe if he goes too high. He'll also have a GPS tracking device attached to his chair, and another in his pocket, allowing his location to be tracked on his Web site.
He will take along extra duct tape and zip ties for emergency repairs, extra clothes and a blanket for when it gets cold at higher altitude
For food, he'll have water, beef jerky, some boiled eggs and chocolate.
"You don't want to eat much," he said. "There's no bathrooms up there on that chair."
He will wear a parachute, which makes it difficult to put on or take off clothing, but no seat belt. After the first flight he found it just wasn't necessary.
"If I get up around 15,000 feet, I'll pop a couple balloons," Couch said. "If I get too low I'll release some water. All the way you go it's like a seesaw, up and down, up and down. You can't feel yourself going up and down. You have to look at the altimeter."
If all goes well this year, he'd love to fly across the English Channel and even Australia.
"I don't mind them thinking I'm nuts," Couch said. "I've done my research and I feel plenty confident. I did 50 sky dives before this. Sky diving can be just as dangerous as this. Guys who sky dive thousands of times don't have a scratch on them."
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
In the air

getting ready to take off from Bend

Picture of Kent from his flight last year. You can see how much he looks like Brian - has the same body build, but he doesn't have Brian's grey hair yet. His wife and folks probably do.

Flying Kent Couch

Kent flew today instead of Monday. I just did a google search for Kent Couch and there were 760 stories about his flight. From his website, you could even track the flight, but we didn't know that until he had already landed.

his website is

We had trouble getting it to work - i'm sure because millions of people were trying to use it. All the news organizations are carrying the story, so you can take your pick of who you want to read. According to CNN, he landed in Cambridge Idaho - he was aiming for Boise. I couldn't get my map to work, so I don't know how close to Boise he got. At one point, mid-morning, he was farther north than he wanted to be, but he got his course corrected and headed back towards Boise.

In the interviews, he said he would do this every weekend if he had the time and the money. I'm sure he will be on all the news shows this week.

Balloon Man

Brian's cousin, Kent Couch, is planning another big lawn chair balloon flight this weekend, probably on Monday, but it might be a different day, based on the weather. He plans to fly from Bend to Boise. He wanted to fly to Idaho last time, but evening thunderheads over the mountains convinced him to come down outside LaGrande, where his dad lives.

If you don't remember = Kent and Brian are first cousins. Kent's dad and Brian's mom are brother and sister. Alicia read a story about it on MSN. Idon't know what other news companies will follow the story.

Friday, July 04, 2008

check out holiday blog

Blake had a great idea to activate the Holiday blog for the 4th of July. You can get there by clicking on the link that says Family Christmas Blog

The picture of the flag I posted is our neighbor's flag at sunset. Their son, Ron, brought it home to them after his tour of Iraq, so it is special to us all. Ron is in Afghanistan now and Mike is in Iraq, along with both of my nephews named Josh., and also Barb and Paul's grandson. Our hearts and prayers and gratitude are with them.