Saturday, December 23, 2017

Getting Ready for Christmas

 Even though we've had virtually no snow, there have been a number of activities that have helped us get ready for Christmas. One the kids enjoy every year is gingerbread making at the Border Inn. There was a good turnout, and the kids got to sit by their friends and talk and talk while they were making their creations.

Desert Boy made a fort. He was quite happy with his creation. Desert Girl had her barn fall down multiple times and was not happy. But we ate dinner there and then everything was better. If we just had some bacon we could have fixed everything (check out this song for our new cure-all).

Another tradition is the school program. This was Desert Boy's first time performing trumpet in public. He started in the fall and did a nice rendition of Jingle Bells.

The younger kids waited, and Desert Girl peeked at me from under her fedora.

Then the younger kids did their play, A Blast from the Past. It was really cute, as the kids looked at what old-time housewares and toys were like. Anyone want a washboard for Christmas?

Desert Girl really likes acting.

Then it was time for the older kids to perform The Great Big Holiday Bake Off. It had seven songs, so they had lots of singing and dancing to do. Desert Boy complained a lot about practices, but seemed to like the actual performance.

He was one of the judges in the hopes that he would get to do some actual taste testing on stage. That didn't happen, but he got plenty of treats afterwards.

Santa made an appearance, which the kids really enjoy.

Also part of the Christmas schedule is the annual Christmas Bird Count. We got 53 species for the Snake Valley CBC this year, slightly above average. White-crowned sparrows were common.

We've also been keeping track of our backyard birds and have something fun to announce in the next post!

I also helped with the Ely CBC and got treated to this amazing view. I had no idea that there were limber pines overlooking the town.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! Thanks for reading the blog.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Favorite Phone Apps

You probably use your phone more each year. And not for making phone calls, but for all the other cool stuff it can do.

I upgraded phones this year and while I've been trying to keep it simple, I'm also looking for some awesome apps. So let's share. I'll tell you my favorite apps, and maybe one of them will also work out for you. Then you tell me your favorite apps.

I use email and Facebook apps the most on my phone. After that,

1. Foreign Languages--this is my game! I am working on improving my Portuguese with DuoLingo. I've wanted to learn Chinese for a few years (since Chinese will eventually overtake the world, in my opinion). I bought a couple books years ago, but that didn't work. But this Hello Chinese app has been terrific. It promises, "10 minutes a day, fluent in 3 months." I don't quite buy that, but I've actually learned some Chinese. And maybe someday I'll get to go check out caves in China and use it. And then Desert Girl decided she wanted to learn French, so she's using Memrise for that and I'm using DuoLingo so I can support her.

2. Reading. I prefer real books most of the time, but the ability for a phone to store lots of books and the speed with which to get them is great. I absolutely love using Overdrive. You find your local library on it and put in your library card and can check out e-books and audiobooks for free. Different libraries have different options (my brother in the city has more than us, but we still have hundreds to choose from). I also use Kindle a lot (you can read your Overdrive books on it). And although I no longer subscribe to Audible, we still have a few books that we bought on sale that we haven't had time to listen to.

3. Photos. If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know I like to take photos. To look at photos, I just use the simple Google photos app. But Snapseed has some really cool editing tools on it. I also have PhotoPills, but haven't really taken the time to learn it.

4. News--I need help here! I feel that most U.S. news is so slanted either right or left that I'm not really getting the facts. I use BBC News and it's okay. But mostly I don't read or watch the news.

5. Maps. I use a variety of map apps. When I want to keep track of my runs, Map My Run is great (as long as I don't get in a hurry to get it started, as it will usually pop up an extra query and not start until I okay it.). We love Geocaching, and have started doing it again because the app is free (it was $20 not so long ago). US Topo Maps has great topo maps. I've been using the Free version, which only lets you have three waypoints. I've been considering paying the $11.99 to basically turn my phone into a full-fledged GPS unit. Thoughts?

6. Other. My most expensive app is iBird Pro, which has not only photos and descriptions but also songs of all the birds. It's super easy to pull up, especially when I forget my bird book. I like Podcasts, but haven't found an aggregator that's intuitive. When I travel (especially on airplanes), I want to watch my Amazon Prime downloaded movies. The only way I've found to do that is with the Amazon prime app.

7. I use Android, but if you have an iPhone, I highly recommend apps from Chimp Studios. My brother is the owner and has made some awesome apps (click the image below to get to his website).

Now, for the big question, what apps do you use most? I have a feeling that I might have a life-changing experience trying out what you like best!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Local Happenings aka A Rather Random Post

 Some of these photos are a little older. (Or maybe a lot older, but who's counting? :) After the fair, we had one sheep left. Sheep are social, so it followed us (and the dog) around everywhere. Including to the swimming hole!

The kids painted some rocks and found some rocks around town.

It's always a fun surprise.

Every once in awhile you should take time for a tea party. Holding your pinky out is optional.

While it was warmer, we played soccer at the playground. Actually the "we" didn't include me, but I enjoyed watching. Maybe next year I'll work up the guts to get out there and give it a try!

Desert Girl is still working on being an animal trainer. Here was some success getting Maggie to go down the slide.

One evening I was in search of sandhill cranes. I found the cows creating quite a lot of dust.

I eventually found the sandhill cranes. Such cool looking birds!

When they took flight I was lucky to get them backlit. What beauty!

Meanwhile, the cows were curious and coming to see what I was doing.

And just playing around.

Here's a fun fact. Baker Ranch provides the hay for the National Finals Rodeo. The horses, bulls, and other animals get some delicious high desert hay. 

These cows are eating a mixture of feed grown on Baker Ranch.

As you've seen, this is very much a rambling post. So why not include Desert Girl's fish imitation?

Along with her drawing of fish. She also wants to be a marine biologist.

One day, Desert Girl and I took a trip to Garnet Hill near Ely, Nevada. Desert Girl was ready with a hammer to find some garnets.

I was fascinated watching the huge mine trucks on the next mountain. The mine trucks look tiny, which tell you how big the mine is.

It's been a busy year for our volunteer fire department. This day was someone burning brush that got out of control.

Fortunately it wasn't too windy, and the fire didn't spread much.

Each year the local school kids do a Wheel-a-thon as a fundraiser. The younger kids (grades K-2) ride eight miles, and the older kids (grades 3-6) ride sixteen miles.

This year, local law enforcement from four jurisdictions came out and did some educational activities. I think they also enjoyed sharing stories.

And here's one of our super bus drivers, Carrie. She followed the kids at the Wheel-a-thon. And she takes Desert Girl to school every day. It is great to see her smiling face every day!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

2017 Turkey Shoot

 If it's November, it's time for the annual Turkey Shoot! This year the proceeds went to the local fire and EMS department. The night before, many gathered for the school Harvest Festival for a potluck dinner and auction (with a fitting centerpiece, above--I just had to find a way to use this photo!).

The next morning we woke up and headed down to the shooting range. Here are some kids on top of the archery target.

They were ready, so they got to go first. Desert Boy and Desert Girl hadn't practiced much, and it showed.

Here's the star.

And where her arrows landed. Nice work!

Maybe next year they will practice more. Oh, yeah, I can keep dreaming, can't I?

Next was the .22 rifle contest at 25 yards, shooting at a chicken target. Three shots. The first guy made the chicken swing three times. Then I went and I did too. A few more went and one more person also got three hits. That meant it was time for a shoot-off! We had to do it off-hand (standing up), so we wouldn't be at it forever. Still, it took awhile, with three rounds. And I finally ended up the winner! Woohoo, a turkey in our fridge!

The kids did pellet gun. It's not too accurate, or maybe they need to practice more. Hmm, I sense a theme here.

Desert Girl was more interested in playing with her friends than shooting, but she still gave it a try. The kids got cornish hens for their efforts, and they tasted delicious.

Along with the various contests there was a raffle, with great prizes from local merchants.

 It was a beautiful day with a good turnout. We ate delicious elk chili for lunch.

The contests continued, and although I scored well in a couple of them, there were numerous people who got every shot in the inner black. There are some good shooters out here! My husband also won a turkey, so we'll be eating well!

 Here are some memories from the Turkey Shoot in 2013, 2014, and 2016. It will be held again next November, either the second or third Saturday of the month. Check the Snake Valley Volunteer Fire Department Facebook page in October for the exact date.
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