mayacama mama

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A Quiet Thursday Afternoon


It’s raining and foggy here today. Zane is napping and Zoey and Stephen are down the dirt road (or I should say muddy road) watching the guys put gravel down until we can get the road regraded.

Yesterday we had a nice sun break, so Zane and I took an afternoon walk. Or more accurately, I walked and Zane rode in the stroller. The culverts are flowing with rain water and the lake has spilled over.


Before we started on our walk, Stephen told us he saw a bobcat on top of the dam while he was driving in, but we didn’t see it.


As usual, the cats decided to follow us. We were talking tonight at dinner how amazed we are that the cats have stayed alive for over a year now. I think they stay fairly close to our house and barn when we aren’t around, and when they do wander afar it’s usually to follow us on our walks. At least that’s our guess. Or maybe they are just really good at avoiding getting eaten by the large wild animals out here.


When we arrived back at the house, it started to drizzle and we got to see our second rainbow for the day. A little gift to get me through this next week of rain.





A Saturday in April

IMG_0845Yesterday Stephen bought the kids some gardening tools. Our garden is still in the building stages so Zoey has decided to “garden” the pile of gravel in front of the barn. Our garden fence is almost done to keep the animals out, and Stephen is  making some raised beds so we’ll hopefully be ready to start planting soon. Meanwhile, Zane is eagerly practicing his gardening skills by learning to walk while trying to rake.


One of our contractors gave us this boat and some life vests on Friday. We took it out on the water this afternoon. Zoey was a little scared at first but held my hand and then seemed to be okay. Zane, however, was not pleased to be stuck in his life vest. I’m sure you can tell by his reaction below.


Back when we lived in Carmel, we took Zoey out on a kayak at a small lake at the Preserve when she was around the same age as Zane is now. She had the same reaction except that she cried the entire time. Thankfully Zane settled down once I was holding him, but he kept frowning the entire trip around the lake.

IMG_0857I haven’t been writing very much lately, and I feel a bit out of practice. Next weekend I’ll be back at Motherland Botanical Sanctuary for the second month of my 9-month herbal class. This month we’ve been focusing on learning how to do infusions and decoctions. Later this week, hopefully, I’ll share an herbal infusion I’ve enjoyed drinking the past few days. More updates soon on our shop/shed/guest room and garden.


Meet Our Barn Cats

Let me just start by saying that I didn’t grow up as a cat person. Our family was a dog family. My parents and brother are allergic to cats so it makes sense why we never had a cat. I’ve been around friends and extended family who have had cats, and I never disliked them. They just were different than dogs. Some friendlier than others.


For the past two mornings, Zoey, Zane, and I have gone outside for a walk but have ended up just hanging out with Lester and Solo. Lester is the one in the above photograph with Zoey. He’s the leaner of the two cats and always comes out now when we’re outside. He followed us up to the  main house pad yesterday.



Solo is the slightly meatier one who lags behind. He is still a bit afraid of us and will start meowing if his brother Lester wanders off too far away with us. Lester is a good brother though and will at some point turn around to go get Solo and give him a kiss.


We’re hoping Lester and Solo turn out to be good mousers. Now that it is warmer the mice will probably be making an appearance again. Stephen found a dead mouse in his workshop today. The cats wanted nothing to do with the dead mouse. Apparently the fun is in killing them, but once they are dead, that’s it.


Mornings on the Ranch


Yesterday morning after breakfast Zane, Zoey, and I took a walk down Whoop-dee-doo trail. I was hoping to show her the glistening spider webs fresh with the morning dew. I discovered them the day before while out for a walk with Zane trying to get him to sleep. I was listening to Krista Tippett’s On Being podcast with Mary Oliver. I learned that Mary Oliver does her writing while walking in nature. I was trying to imagine doing that while Zane was asleep in the Ergo carrier.


This morning we spent an hour and a half in the car driving to the Apple store to get my phone fixed. While we were leaving the cement truck had just arrived to pour the concrete for the retaining wall behind the Buckeye Bunkhouse (no bunks just yet, but we do have some more cabinets made along our hallway, a bench seat in our living room, another redwood bench out on our back patio, and a wall desk in our hallway–Stephen has been busy.) The retaining wall for the main house is finished and now dirt is being hauled in from along Whoop-dee-doo trail to fill in along the wall. I’ll take some photos in the next few days of the main house site and views.


I am grateful for mornings like yesterday when we are outdoors and I feel a sense of calm. Today was not one of those days. Too many hours in carseats, or store carts, or being held in Mama’s arms does not make for happy children. Poor Zane just wanted to crawl everywhere today. Please tell me how a mother manages to hold a squirming baby in her arms while trying to pull her wallet out of her diaper bag to pay for the phone that needed fixing or the groceries that needed buying without dropping baby? Well, she does indeed drop baby on the floor in order to pay for said items and then quickly runs after baby crawling on the dirty floor, yes, under the Apple genius bar table before baby starts sucking the computer cords. That was my day, all day, in Trader Joes, in the mall to pay for my parking ticket. You see, I forgot my Ergo carrier at home and the stroller at home which was why I had to carry Zane all day. But grandmothers, be relieved that at least I’ve mastered holding baby in my arms while using the toilet for potty breaks. Yep, this mama is one hell of a mama.


In other news, we had a breakthrough with our barn cats yesterday. I missed the action because as kitchen manager, I was in the kitchen cleaning up breakfast, lunch, and snack dishes before starting to cook dinner (I know, what a horrible kitchen manager I am.) The friendlier cat Lester let Stephen and Zoey pet him. When we’re outside in the late afternoon he’ll come out and follow us around. We’ll see if Solo ever comes around. And one of these days I’ll remember to photograph them.

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The Kids’ Bedroom


We’ve been living here at the ranch for about two months now. I suddenly realized I haven’t shared any photos of the interior except for the kitchen, so today the easiest room to clean up for a photo was the kids’ bedroom-surprise, surprise. The kitchen seems to be where all the toys are these days, including the ever popular, large cardboard box that Zoey and Zane like to crawl in and out of. As of now, Zoey’s mattress is on the floor until bunk beds are made and Zane is out of his crib, which may not happen until after the main house is built and we’ve moved yet again. Zoey has a nice view of the barn through her window. We will be putting up drapes over the windows hopefully before summer arrives.

We were very excited to hang the Marimekko curtain over the closet. It already has become a popular hiding place for Zoey.


In cat news, you may remember that we bought two black cats, Lester (the friendlier one) and Solo (hence the name), from the Humane Society a few weeks before Christmas to be our barn cats. We kept them shut in a room in the barn so they would know that was their new home where the food was. Upon returning from our Christmas trip, we opened the door so they could leave the barn and wander the ranch as they wished. Although Stephen would see them under his backhoe in the barn, we never would see them around the ranch until tonight. It was about 5:30pm and we were looking out our bedroom window and saw both of them crossing the road to the apple orchard. I think this may have been their first adventure outside the barn.


A New Home

We’re finally here at our ranch. We moved in on Sunday. My parents came up to help watch the kids and pack up boxes. They were a tremendous help. If only moving were a one way deal–but unfortunately now we have the task of unpacking a ton of boxes and trying to find a home for all of our stuff. Here’s a photo of our kitchen that isn’t completely finished–Stephen still plans to add some shelves, another counter top to the right of the stove, and a bench seat where our kitchen table is.


DSC_0046We still need to figure out what fabric and hardware we want for our drapes in the bedrooms, and we need to mop the floors once the boxes are unpacked. I was super excited to start composting. I’m eager to prep our soil for our garden, but even that too must wait for now as we try to get our house in order. The projects feel endless at the moment. But we have time. That’s what I tell myself as I try to get out of the house daily to go for a walk to our lake. I’m grateful the kitchen is more or less organized so that I’ve been able to cook and we’ll be able to celebrate our first Thanksgiving here. More photos of the house to come as we get our boxes cleared away.



The moment has arrived where I have no idea what to post for this week.  Shall I talk about the weather? How we desperately need some rain? There’s supposed to be rain in the forecast this week after many weeks of warm 70 degree weather here.  I was hopeful it would be colder up here in Northern California a month ago when it snowed.  Here are some photos of the ranch with snow.


And here was Zoey at our rental house enjoying the snow in our front yard.


I’m taking an online class from Heather Bruggeman at Beauty That Moves called Hibernate.  I think I signed up for the class when we were enduring colder, freezing temperatures that lasted for a greater part of the day.  It made sense then, but now it seems ridiculous to be taking a class called Hibernate when just a few days ago it was warm enough to wear shorts outside. And yet, hibernate is exactly what it feels like I’ve been doing.  I’m getting closer to that nesting period in my pregnancy where all I want is a clean house and to organize the mess that has accumulated.  But at the same time, despite my desire to have a clean house, I’m lacking in energy to do much of anything these days.  All I want to do is eat and sleep. Although the days Zoey is here and not in daycare, she makes sure I am busy at work helping to put her dolls to sleep, or “deeting” her toy groceries.  In case you’re wondering if I made up that word “deeting”–it’s Zoey’s word for the sound at the grocery store when the checkout person “deets” your groceries.  Listen next time you’re at the grocery store and you’ll know what I mean.

I should be getting things in order for baby’s arrival.  Stephen is making a dresser or bureau, or as Stephen might say “chest of drawers” for our baby boy.  (Have you taken this quiz from the NY Times about what words you use predicts where you are from? It wasn’t very accurate for me or Stephen. The quiz thought this Southern California girl was from Modesto, Fresno, or Salt Lake City and my Texan husband was from Baltimore or D.C.) I have a large plastic bin full of baby clothes to wash. A friend with two boys gave me them before Zoey was born, and I didn’t realize how many boy outfits I have. I have yet to tour the hospital where I’ll give birth.  I called the hospital two weeks ago waiting for a call back from the nurse who schedules group tours called “Tea for Two.” I called again today and was told the same nurse will call me back to schedule the tour which most likely will be February 19th.  That will be week 37 of my pregnancy.  I asked about other options, like the one day childbirth class that offers a hospital tour–the next one is March 9th, two days before my due date. I could show up at the hospital for an individual tour by a clerk, but was told they couldn’t answer any of my questions.  So there might be a good chance I’ll see where I’m birthing for the first time when I go into labor. Or, I told Stephen, maybe I’ll just hop on over to the hospital in the early stages of labor and check it out and then return home.  It’s thankfully only about a 5-10 minute drive from our house.  We’ve hired a doula again with the plan of having a natural, unmedicated birth.  That was our plan with Zoey, but I ended up being induced after 41 weeks and 3-4 days of pregnancy.  I am hoping this little guy is ready to come out a bit sooner than that.

Stephen reminded me that we haven’t seen any snakes, mice, or bugs out at the ranch during these winter months.  My eye is still trained to look for them when walking through the tall grass.  Better to be safe than sorry, right?  The only animals we’ve seen recently are the wild pigs.  Here’s a distant photo Stephen took just outside our neighbor’s main gate.


More on the pigs in another post.  In house building news, we submitted the guest house plans to the county last Friday.  And now we wait some more.