Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fall Colors and Birds

I've been looking at photos on the internet of the pretty leaves that have turned red and gold. I thought I'd show you the reds and golds around here:


Red!


And gold! I guess you can tell that fall here does not include falling leaves. In fact it feels just like summer. I have to enjoy the lovely flowers that are blooming rather than leaves changing their colors.

One important thing, however, is that the birds here are in their fall plumage. Even the gulls look very different and the laughing gulls are quiet for a change. But, this makes identifying birds quite tricky!


We go to a nearby bird and nature center at least once a week. Each time we see something different because of fall migration. As it gets cold up north the birds are coming south. Many stop by right here to eat and rest and then go farther south for the winter. This sign is in front of the center and I thought it was a funny sign. If I stood behind it you wouldn't be able to see me at all!


I have my binoculars ready to look for birds.


Some of them are very far away.

I grabbed my camera and took some photos so you can see some of the birds we saw on this day:


These are white pelicans, terns and gulls.


This is a great egret.


Peek-a-boo! This is a young heron.


And this is a tri-colored heron.

That's about it for now. Next I hope to do a post on the celebrations here for Día de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. It's more important here than Halloween!

~Kiki signing off

Monday, October 6, 2014

Life On An Island

Hello everyone! I am writing from a very different sort of place today. While many people are enjoying fall colors and digging out sweaters and hats, I am practically living in my swim suit and glad we have AC! I am on an island far, far south. If we went a few miles farther south we would be in Mexico. In fact, we feel like we are since we see mostly all Mexican families at the beach and in stores and hear much more Spanish than English. Clara and meli are delighted!


Toni and I spend most of our time at the beach.


"Come on, Kiki! Surf's up!" We actually boogie board, but we like to say we are surfing.




Here's Clara standing in our garden. It's all cactus plants, but still has some colorful flowers.


In the north you might be picking apples while here we are picking the cactus figs. They are edible and no animals can get to them because of their sharp spines. You can't see them, but the grey dots are actually lots of tiny but sharp hairs.


Being careful not to touch those stickers, Clara picked a bowlful.


Meli very carefully cut them and removed the sweet fruit from inside. She is going to mix them with other fruits for a fruit salad for tonight's dinner. It's also very common to make jam out of them and I hope we get to do that later.

As Toni says, surfs up, so I have to go. More later!

Kiki, the island girl.






Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Picnic on a Hot Fall Day

An old friend of ours wanted to meet at a park and have a picnic yesterday. Ivy and Jazzi decided that was a great idea.


It was a hot day, after having a few cool ones. That's fall around here. Ivy and Jazzi are best friends.


Ivy took the short cut to get to the playground.


"Hello down there!"


Time to eat!


BFFL - best friends for life!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Therapeutic Horseback Riding Part 2



Lady is ready to ride, so Fiona gets on from a special mounting platform with the help of all the girls. Like all riders at the ranch, she has on a helmet.


During Fiona's ride Charlotte and Kaya will stay on either side of her to help her feel comfortable on the horse and give her support.



Horses are good at following each other, so Clara will ride in front on Bill.




Fiona is feeling more comfortable on Lady so Kaya and Charlotte talk to her about horse behavior.




We have come to the end of our story. Fiona had a wonderful time riding Lady and is going to keep coming to the ranch. Charlotte, Clara and Kaya are looking forward to helping more riders and so are the horses.

~ Kiki



Therapeutic Horseback Riding Part 1

This summer Clara, Charlotte and Kaya are volunteering at a ranch in the mountains. They get to help take care of horses and help other children go horseback riding. The children that come to this ranch have various disabilities and riding horses is an exciting type of therapy that has physical, psychological, cognitive, social, and educational benefits. As usual, there are lots of photos, so please be patient as they load. I know you will enjoy them!


Here are two of the therapy horses, Bill and Lady.


Clara and Charlotte bring the bridles and reins so that Bill and Lady know it's time to work.


All the horses at the ranch are calm and gentle and work well with all kinds of kids.


When a new rider comes they get to watch the horses for a while to get to know them and then choose which one they want to ride.


Fiona decided she wanted to ride Lady.


Sometimes the people and horses are a little nervous when first meeting each other. Horses are more comfortable being approached from the side and since Charlotte has a lot of experience with horses, she is holding Lady's lead and helping her stay calm. Fiona is getting brave enough to pet Lady.


It's time to get Lady ready to ride, so Fiona helps Charlotte brush her and put on her blanket.


Then they put on the saddle. Now it's time to ride!

Please see Part 2 for the rest of the story.



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hiking in the High Country


Ella: Hey, Kiki. Where are you headed with that backpack?
Kiki: I'm going hiking in the high country today.
Ella: Oh, cool! That's a big pack. What all are you taking?


Kiki: When you go hiking in the wilderness you have to be prepared. I've got food and water, a compass, and my camera and binoculars. I should get my rain gear out and bring that, too, along with a trail map. I won't bother to bring my cell phone because it won't work up there. I'll be wearing my sweatshirt and hat because it's cooler at higher altitudes, but I also have on sunscreen because the sun is stronger up there.


Ella: Let me help you get that pack on. It's really heavy!
Kiki: Thanks! Yeah, it's full now. But, it doesn't feel that heavy once I get it on my back.


Ella: Have fun and don't get eaten by a bear!
Kiki: Okay, and I won't!


And THIS is why we call it the high country. Our hike will start at 10,300 feet which is about 3,139 meters. It's about 60 degrees here, which is about 15.5 degrees celsius. That's pretty cool for a summer day, but the sun feels strong! There is no rain in the forecast, but it often rains for a short while in the afternoons up here. There can also be dangerous thunderstorms that sweep in quickly, so we try to be done hiking by noon. Other important things to remember is not to hike alone, and to let someone know where you are going. This all makes it sounds scary, but it's really very safe if you know what you are doing.


First we followed a trail that is used for snowshoeing in the winter. There are a few signs to get people started.


The signs are way up high because the ground will be covered with lots of very deep snow. I want to come back in the winter and see that! And some more photos:






It is so gorgeous up here that it's hard not to post dozens of photos, but, these will have to do.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my visit to the high country. I'd love to hear if any of you go hiking and where you go!

~ Kiki

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Those Long Summer Evenings

Long summer evenings are delightful! The days are long and filled with activity, but the light lasts beyond bedtime and who can resist going back outside for just a little more fun? So, as the sun was about to set at the end of another busy day, I headed out to enjoy the last of it.

The evening was cool and smelled sweet as the flowers closed up for their night's sleep. The robins were chattering, talking about the adventures of their day and where they would sleep, making sure the whole family was settled together. One lone goldfinch perched on the roof of the house and sang a long, melodious song. He's a tiny bird with a big voice.


I found my friends out on the front sidewalk. Carmela and Lily were taking their pets for a ride in the baskets of their bikes.


Mia came whizzing by on her skateboard. I've got to get her to teach me some of the tricks she does!


I saw Fiona coming home from playing basketball with friends.


Rosa was in her own world, sitting on the ground and playing with her new dolly.


We were all together and ready to head indoors when I remembered a favorite poem by Robert Louis Stevenson called "Bed At Night." Maybe you know it, too:

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

Good night!
~ Kiki

An important disclaimer! Human children should wear helmets and other protective gear when riding bikes or skateboarding. Our person felt that since we are dolls we could play without those things tonight, and she stayed nearby to make sure we were safe. Mia started to fall once, but our person caught her. Phew! Always be safe.