Saturday, August 28, 2010

Play Date

Kent and I decided to act like kids today. Can you guess what we did?

Yup. We loaded the bikes on the Jeep and drove down to a bike trail in Idaho Springs. It's just a handful of miles from us but a couple of thousand feet lower in elevation. After biking, getting caught in the rain, waiting it out in an underpass, then making our way back to the Jeep, we had a picnic lunch in the Jeep a few miles up a narrow, winding four-wheel drive road.

From that vantage point, we had some wonderful views of Idaho Springs.

The old Argo Silver Mine

Houses looking like a model train village

And the main street. The heavy traffic is on I-70 which runs along the edge of town through the narrow valley.

On the way home, we passed my cave. For years it has provided fuel for my imagination as I wonder what may lie inside and how I might get to it to look. I'll probably never know for sure and that's OK. I like making up stories about it in my mind.

And as we turned a switchback corner on the way back into our neighborhood, we saw other locals. There were deer in the road.

And then we saw more and more of them. Six in all.

Including this fawn whose spots have not yet faded.

So pretty!

Peach Blossom

Had to share a pic of the peach pie I made yesterday. It's got a gingersnap crust and the peaches are laid in the pan to look like a flower. And the flavor was pure peach joy.

A Sense of Accomplishment

In our efforts to get the house ready to list, we are packing up and moving out to storage everything we can live without for the time being. On that list were both of my looms. The thing was, there was a project still on my large floor loom. As we moved it around to carry it out to the barn, I decided to see if I could determine how much was left to do. As it turned out, I was within 18 inches of finishing what was actually two projects on one warp.

I was happy to find that I had written the treadling for my project on a post-it stuck to the frame and even noted where I was at in the sequence when I quit last. I was able to pick things up and finish it off that evening and we moved the loom the next day.

I originally had thought to make this a muffler for Kent. But the overshot is so pronounced that I may do something else with it. A table runner, maybe? It does make for a pretty design that can be almost hynoptic to create.

So I felt a real sense of accomplishment over not just moving more items out of the way but of finished the project. That's a good feeling.

Knit One, Purl Two, Chain 9, Treble Crochet

So while we were in PA, Mindie and Lea Ann came to visit and they both brought crochet projects with them. That reminded me of the project I'd purchased yarn for and then decided I didn't want to do. Ever since Kathy taught me to knit in 1998, I've done that almost exclusively. While I used to crochet all the time and even make up my own patterns, after so many years it was like starting over again. I was so inspired by their projects that I decided to get out my pattern and give it another shot. Here's the sweater I wanted to make and I had purchased a wonderful hand-spun yarn at the Estes Park Wool Market. I had attempted to stitch this but been very unhappy with the results.

When I revisited the project I realized that, just like knitting, I would need to get the gauge right. After a few false starts, I found the right size hook to make it turn out according to the directions.

Here's what's neat about the pattern. Kathy bought me a book called Blueprint Crochet: Modern Designs for the Visual Crocheter. The designer, Robyn Chochula, had several items on display at the yarn store where we'd meet to knit on Thursday nights. I really liked what I saw and Kathy got me a signed copy of the book. I was so excited. I guess I was just in the wrong frame of mind the first time I tried. Now I can say that this is the easiest way to read a crochet pattern that I could ever imagine. Here's a peak inside the book. This whole pattern is contained in graphics...

You can take a closer look by clicking on the photos for a bigger view.

Back on the home front

I got to spend time with my sister, who I missed while we were gone. And while Kathy was at our house she finished a huge knitting project. The Yggdrasil blanket that she was making for Valerie and Amol took her most of the summer but I think you'll agree it's worth it. For more on this, you can visit her blog here.

And Socks and Cass were way behind on their kitty love quotient. Turns out that when Kathy sits in my chair, we're interchangeable. Here's Socks in his usual neck-warmer position.

Could he look more relaxed?

And I was pleased to see that all of our plants fared well while we were gone, the tomatoes and squash in the green house took right off and my flowers we're blooming happily when we returned.

Friday, August 27, 2010

It's About Time

It's about time I finish up blogging about our trip to and from PA. About time to make a blog entry. About time to talk about other things.

But I must say that we saw a lot of beautiful things on our way home. Like this beautiful sky

We saw lots of corn, soybeans, and sorghum

Some pretty little farms, though there were plenty of huge mono-culture agriculture set ups and not a few feedlot beef and pig operations to stink things up. But don't get me started.

Sun in clouds. Classic beauty.

But what really captured my attention were the wind farms. In one twenty or so mile stretch of I80 in western Iowa we saw hundreds of wind turbines. The sheer magnitude of their size would typically be enough to make me wary, but they have a beauty and grace about them that I really like.

So now we'll consider the trip wrapped up and move on to other things...

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's Hard to Say Goodbye

Wednesday, August 11th - After a nice breakfast together, several “final” walk-throughs to check for belongings and not a few tears, we drove away at 8:00 am. I’m so glad I didn’t have to drive first since it would have been hard to see through my tears. I’ve never left Stephanie anywhere that I didn’t know I’d see her again in a week or so. It was harder than I thought and yet I believe that God has exciting plans for both of us. I kept that in mind as I prayed and gave my breaking heart over to God’s care. The drive was uneventful, which is always a good thing. Kent got us to I-90 where we stopped for gas and a coffee. I decided that driving would be therapeutic for me and so I did the first leg, getting us around Cleveland and across Ohio and part of Indiana. Kent took over and drove from the east of Chicago through to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We’d made it much further than we expected to. The traveling was much faster without the frequent gas stops for the moving van and walking the pup. We saw the evidence of the rains and flooding near Cedar Rapids. Fields underwater, small trees with only their tops showing, and boiling, muddied water flowing from one field to another. It was sobering even after the worst of the danger was over. We learned that a young girl had died when the car she was in had been swept off the road. And against that backdrop of sadness, we entered a town abuzz with excitement, too. Cedar Rapids is the location of the Iowa State fair which was due to begin the next day. We were glad that we found a room at the first hotel we stopped at. The town was certainly loaded with people from far and wide. We carried our bags to our room and found a Bennigan’s across the street for our dinner. And the hotel had wireless internet so I checked my email (229) and deleted the majority of them. I also checked Valerie and Diane’s blogs. It was good to catch up with my online friends as well.

As we were loading the car I couldn't help but take a few last pictures of the natural beauty. Here there was a morning mist that hung heavy over trees and fields...

And I spied these morning glories twined around a small tree near the garage. There were many blooms yet to open. I couldn't help but compare them to my pathetic potted versions I'm trying to grow in Colorado.

Don't know what these are, most likely toxic, but a pretty splash of color. They were growing right next to the morning glories.

Last Day at the Homestead

Tuesday, August 10th - I woke up first and headed to the kitchen for a little tea and Bible reading while folks were sleeping. However, Lea Ann called while I was fixing tea and in order to get a decent signal without waking Kent, I headed into the backyard in my nightgown with the cell phone and a Pennsylvania Gazetteer to help Lea Ann with directions. While we talked about her coming to visit, I saw the delivery truck from Home Depot coming down the road with the new riding lawn mower on it. Just after it came into view, though, they stopped and started backing up. I began trotting to the front yard. Oh no! They were backed up to the next driveway down and were preparing to turn around. Now imagine a crazy woman with humidity fluffed and curled hair carrying an atlas and jumping around on the lawn in her nightgown. Don’t you think you’d notice? Took the driver and his helper a bit of me arm waving to stop their turnaround procedure and come back down the road to the house. By this time I was so humiliated that I tried to wrap the atlas around me and rush into the house while Stephanie, with much more clothing and dignity on, came out of the house to take over. Since we woke up from the warmest night of our stay and the excitement of the riding mower loomed, we decided that cold cereal would suffice for breakfast. By the time the dishes were done Kent was firing up the mower. He gave it a tryout. Then I had a few rounds on it. And then Kent instructed Stephanie on its use and she set to work looking like an old pro.

Mindie and I visited and worked at bagging Costco-sized cheese and large packages of meat into small packages for the freezer. Kent finished up his list of things around the house that he wanted to check or do before we left. Kent decided to give Stephanie a break after a couple hours of mowing. As he finished the last of the yard, we ladies cleaned up the house.

Just after Kent finished the mowing at 12:30pm (~ 3 hours and 1.5 tanks of gasoline), Lea Ann arrived for a visit. So good to see her and so nice that she and Mindie overlapped to see each other also. It was like old home days. Mindie left in time to go home for a short nap before working third shift and with much assurance that Stephanie could call on her for anything at all. I found it very reassuring and I so appreciate that she is someone I know I can count on.

Lea Ann stayed on for dinner and Steph did all the cooking. It was delicious. We really enjoyed the fresh produce while we were in PA. We had fresh green beans, corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes and chicken sautéed with mushrooms, onions, and sweet pepper. A summertime feast! While the visiting continued, we moved to the back deck to watch for Bitty Bat, as it has been named, to emerge from his sleeping spot next to the back door. We were also treated to a praying mantis and a tree frog that peered down at us from the edge of the roof over the mudroom. We ate ice cream, watched fireflies and listened to crickets and peep frogs. It was very peaceful. We were so glad to have Lea Ann with us for the evening. We have the nicest friends!

Before we got too tired, Kent and I gathered up our things and prepared for our departure in the morning. Stephanie baked fresh zucchini bread and we looked forward to the loaf she was sending on the road with us. I hated to go to bed knowing that when I woke up it would be a very short time until I was on my way and would have to say goodbye.

This puts the size of the yard in perspective. Stephanie actually did at least 1/2 of the mowing that day but I didn't get a pick of her...

These were some of our evening visitors...

Back to the Future -or- Forward to the Past

Finally, success!

This huge old tractor got Kent's attention right away.

And here is me next to my someday stove, the Pioneer Princess.

Monday, August 9th - Got up early and got our start for Lehman’s. Much shorter trip (~2.5 hours) to go direct utilizing lesser routes and back roads. While it was interesting, it has certainly changed in the decade and a half since my first visit. It’s become quite touristy. I did pick up a pie bird, some Tattler reusable canning lids and a cookbook I’ve wanted for some time, More with Less. Also stopped in a quilt shop and got two fat quarters as reminders of our trip to PA later this winter when I’m sewing.

On the way home we passed (for the fourth time) P. Graham Dunn. We had no idea what it was but it was two enormous buildings and when Kent saw “factory tours” painted on the side, he made a beeline. What a great stop! P. Graham Dunn is a family owned woodworking factory and showroom. Chances are if you’ve been in a Christian book/gift store you’ve seen something they’ve made. The facility was beautiful and the store is on the second floor with big windows overlooking the various processes going on below. Wood cutting/carving is their specialty, done with CAD and lasers. Have you ever seen Amazing Grace (the page from the hymnal) carved in wood and spanning 8x12 feet? Pretty amazing. There were items from massive to small and everything in between. We got two as our anniversary presents to display in our home.

Mindie was driving down from a show in Buffalo to visit so we finished our tour and purchase and headed home. She found us, finally, using back roads that she reports are unmarked. Kent decided to take a much deserved nap while the ladies headed out to finish Stephanie’s cupboard stocking. We hit Aldi’s for as much of the list as they had that we wanted and then went to Walmart to do the final sweep up. Now my mom’s heart could rest easier knowing that she’s got full cupboards while she’s looking for work. We were getting tired and so, with foresight, bought pizzas to take home and bake. We worked together and got groceries put away in time for dinner. It was so good to see Mindie. And to know that Steph has a stand in for mom while I’m far away. Mindie came prepared to stay the night so we didn’t have to say goodbye just yet.

Stocking Up and Striking Out

Sunday, August 8th – We set out to drive to the Cleveland Costco for a pantry stockup and then down to Kidron for a visit to Lehman’s. Val has got word to us that this is the annual Mennonite Relief Fundraiser weekend at Lehman’s and they expect 20,000 people to descend on the place. Their website says that there will be 150 quilts up for auction. I looked forward to seeing them.

The Costco trip was a success. Lehman’s not so much. Turns out that the Mennonite Relief extravaganza is in Kidron but not at Lehman’s which is closed on Sunday. It was a nice drive, anyway. We decide to try again on Monday.

Beginning to Feel Like a Home

Saturday, August 7th – Yet more unpacking, Kent assessed things around the house. He took Steph on a tour and showed her about the water and well, the breakers, etc. We went to town to shop for mowers and parts. Came home and Kent got to work fixing the toilet and changing locksets on the doors. More Amish visitors (Michael’s son, Joseph, and younger brother) stopped their buggy out front and got out to visit. Said we could come down to the house if we wanted zucchini. A little bit later there was a knock on the door and they delivered two zucchini to us. We had a simple dinner of leftover chicken and pasta with veggies and fresh sweet corn. Afterwards, Stephanie baked zucchini bread while Kent explored the property some more and I sat on the front porch reading my Bible while the sun set. Enjoyed the activities of bats and fireflies again this evening. We went to bed around 9:30 to the smell of Steph’s bread baking.

This is as far as we got with the antique sofa and the sofa bed that won't be able to fit upstairs to the sitting room. But it still feels like a large room.

We now can eat meals at the table and still visit with whoever is taking a turn at cooking

The picture is blurry, I know, but it helps to put things in perspective. I love this kitchen, it's large and light and easy to work in.

I was instantly smitten with these drawers. They were just right for holding pots, pans, bakeware and lids!

Here's looking from the pantry toward the living room door. It's a very spacious room.

And to really give it that homey touch, Steph set to baking zucchini bread from that fresh zucchini the neighbors brought over.

Another triumph, my dear!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Around the House

Friday, August 6th – As tired as we were, we were awake at 4:00am and up at 5:30. Kent fixed the shower head and I found the curtain. We made a veggie and cheese omelette, toast and OJ and ate at the makeshift kitchen table. We’d found the top and had it propped on boxes. John Principe arrived at 9:00 am and helped finish unloading the truck, including all the heavy furniture. We were so happy to see him and to have his help unloading was just the greatest treat for us. We all loaded up to return the truck and then went out to lunch. Then we hit Home Depot for plumbing parts, toilet parts, hoe and shovel, trash cans, smoke detectors, fire extinguisher, nightlights, clothesline and pins, fly swatter and strips, kitchen towel racks, buckets with lids, pantry shelf. We stopped at a number of places and looked at riding mowers and weed trimmers. Then on to an appointment with the real estate agent we’d been keeping in touch with. And home again. John walked the property looking for berries and then went to meet up with his parents to show them the way here. Kent laid down for a nap. Steph rearranged and cleaned up the living room and eat-in area of the kitchen while I worked on unpacking kitchen boxes and made dinner. There were six of us for roasted herbed chicken breast, pasta with fresh local veggies, corn on the cob and slabs of ripe tomato. After dinner we spent time on the deck visiting, tossing stick for the dog and watching fireflies. Then we fixed ice cream sundaes for our dessert. Sharon, Richard and John left around 10:00 pm. We three watched a movie together and then slept soundly. Today on the property we saw: toad, small bat, elderberries, blackberries, Echinacea, woodchucks, and electric fencing. There’s not much auto traffic on this road but Amish buggies rumble by several times a day and the occupants usually smile and wave.

Valerie - here's some pictures of your beautiful home awaiting you in PA

What an inviting front porch!

With a lovely flower garden

The back deck has lots of Black-eyed Susans that are just beautiful

Here's the view from the South side of the property toward the house to the North. The greenery in between is a large lilac shrub and a small maple tree - beauty for spring and fall!

This was a pretty flower I didn't recognize from the flower beds in front of the house.

I'm not sure but this reminds me of Sweet William. Perhaps it's related?

A profusion of white violas

This is the South border of the yard, to the right of the house as you face it. This is where the elderberries and blackberries are found.

Lots of pansies and violas in the front flower bed

There's some pretty landscaping around the trees in the side yard...

And several clumps of hostas in the front gardens

I really fell in love with this echinacea on the North side of the yard

And this appears to be a clump of aspens on the back side of the property. A taste of Colorado

More of those extravagant Black Eyed Susans

Even though they have been neglected, the apple trees are still doing their best to produce. Is there anything much more cheerful than the site of fruit hanging on a tree?

And here's a shot of that expansive back yard as viewed from the deck!