The Scotts gathering firewood for the evening's campfire.

DirtNKids Thanksgiving

Here are the things we are thankful for this year.  I am posting this right before bundling up to spend the night outdoors — in a chilly tent with my family.  The barred owls are already serenading us.

Thankful for…

Wide open spaces where both wildlife and people can exist side-by-side, each without wanting to destroy the other.

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Marsh grasses and fall color

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Yellowstone: Day 1

“For the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” ~ Yellowstone National Park, inscribed at the entrance

Yellowstone National Park is one of our nation’s oldest, brought under protection by the federal government in 1872 in a healing and post-Civil War America.  It boasts within its boundaries:

  • The largest collection of hot water phenomena in the world
  • Over 300 geysers, the most famous of which being Old Faithful
  • A large caldera on which the west side sits created from the last eruption around 640,000 years ago
  • The nation’s only super-volcano (a/k/a/ ticking time bomb)
  • Large herds of wild bison, wandering brown and black bear, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, cougar, wolves, and mountain goats
  • Spectacular water falls and geologic wonders
  • Miles upon miles of wide open valley spaces
  • One of the most popular international destinations in America

We learned of that last statistic first-hand when we visited the park in the height of summer last year.  This time, we thought it better to avoid the more tourist-y west side of the park. We’d already been there and done all that, even made an album for it.  With only two days on our budget, we would take the road lesser traveled to the east, deepening our appreciation of nature through the unending valleys within it.

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Holding It In - Waiting for Old Faithful to erupt...any minute, Yellowstone, WY
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Releasing the Content, Starting with Yellowstone

Aqueous Trickery - Hot Springs spillover, Yellowstone, WY

Aqueous Trickery – Hot Springs spillover, Yellowstone, WY

There are over 20 posts at varying levels of readiness lumbering in my WordPress Drafts folder. Life being one of constant interruption is a dismal excuse for not finishing a thing.

In blogging, my post-writing SOP is to vomit with fingers on keyboard a significantly lengthy piece (1,500+ words) while the details of such are still fresh in my head.  Provided the kids are occupied and I have no such other interruptions, it takes only about an hour.  Later, as I have chunks of time, I will start-and-stop the process of whittling it to a kinder, shorter read, say, under 500 words — the real chore.  By the 10th re-visit, cobwebs begin to build, I get less and less satisfied with the result, and opt instead for something…easier.  Meanwhile, the best posts just sit and sit and sit.

Some things are not meant to be whittled.

I’m not sure when it was my readers’ short attention spans with Twitter and Facebook and Instagram (none of which I engage) began to affect my writing. A regular photo post or *punchy* lists seem to be the magical recipe for a reader’s precious minutes.  Too often that same reader will get bored with all that black-and-white on the screen — or anything that requires scrolling or loading — and just Alt-F4 the whole freakin’ window.

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eBook Download – Texas Almanac

Follow the link below to get your free digital copy of the 2014-2014 Texas Almanac.  If you’re a resident of Texas, there is a plethora of information in those 752 pages (as a reader-optimized .PDF file), including government data, maps, population stats, environmental information, and more.

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Click to be taken to Texas Almanac

As two of my children are taking Texas History courses in school, I will be getting a hard-bound copy as well for our home library, for quick-pickin’s on portfolio assignments and supplemental education.  (Bedtime reading?)  That digital copy I can’t be beat for keeping in my bag on the go.

A special note of appreciation to Steve Schwartzman for the original share; I would have not known about this otherwise.  His thoughtful visual and educational posts highlighting Texas’ natural beauty — our wildflowers, in particular — are immeasurable.

Keyhole

Keyhole Garden – An Infographic

For those of you not yet familiar with the keyhole garden, this infographic shows in simple form how to build one and (generally) what to plant in it.  I love coming across nice little “packages” for otherwise complex things.  And I love to share.

My own keyhole garden is about to get replenished with several bags of garden waste stolen from other neighbor’s trash piles.  It did its job serving as nursery to fruit tree saplings during the hottest months of the Texas summer; I seldom watered them.  Now that the trees are nestled in their permanent homes, it’s time for the keyhole to start feeding my family.

But first! Stealing is high on my agenda.

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Roi

Remembering Roi, The Sweetest Dumb Ole Cat I Ever Knew

Before we had kids, there were the cats.  They were the first and only non-human animals that lived with us until just a few weeks ago when the bunnies came to our home.  Japanese Bobtails were a breed known for their intelligence, powder-puff tails, and regal personalities.  I chose these kittens because of their different pet dander — they didn’t seem to aggravate Hub’s animal allergies.  I in turn would have some lovable animals at home again while I studied engineering, to dote on while he was away most of the time working on contract assignments.

That, and it was love at first sight.  (Allergies aside, he really had no say in the matter.)

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Virtual_Learning

Top Ten: Why Virtual is the Word for Public School

“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.”  ~ Sydney J. Harris

This post has been a long time coming.  Over two years ago, we made the decision to break tradition (yet again) and switch our kids from our district brick-and-mortar school and into the virtual world for public education.  With the previous year being with only the middle schooler at home, the other three remaining at their elementary school, this year they all came over.  What a journey it’s been.

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Making Milk

Vegan Pancakes, October Captured

“If we can live healthy, productive lives without bringing harm to others, why wouldn’t we?” ~ Jenny Brown

In my household, pancakes are the Elixir of Life.  The quickest of the quick breads, an energy-sucking oven not required.  I like to nibble on them at odd times of the day — not just for breakfast — and since they have the added bonus of being crumb-free, the kids can eat them at their desks.  (Without syrup, of course.)

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What's Up, Doc?

This is the Post Where I Show You My Buns

The semi-lazy, outdoor days of fall are fully underway.  Now that we are spending 100% of our time at home during the week — school, work, chores — we take as many breaks as possible to soak in the sun and revel in the cooler fall temps.

The fruit trees from the keyhole garden nursery finally made it into the ground.  It only took me a year-and-a-half to get it done, but our property — already replete with dozens of trees — just acquired three more fruiting variety:  a Satsuma tangerineNavel orange, and a Pomegranate.  This is the beginning of (what I’m hoping will be) an espalier grove.  More hole-digging, first.

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