Sunday, October 13, 2019

Mosaic Monday #49: And perhaps a hedgehog

We're going on vacation!  I must admit, I am amused by the concept of "vacation" for folks who are retired.  "Vacation: An extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling."  We are already enjoying leisure and recreation, and we sure are extending it.  Our destinations are Northeast England and Hamburg, Germany, which ticks the box for time away from home/traveling.  That settles it, then.  As of today, we are officially on vacation!






Faithful readers know my in-laws live near Durham, England.  While I may have lost count of the number of times we have returned to the village of my husband's youth, I maintain my enthusiasm for our visit and all it has to offer.  These last few days, as the clock wound down to our departure, I found myself daydreaming about the trip, and all the things I am anticipating.

Such as the chicken.  No, not chicken you eat, but the hen that is cared for by my father-in-law.  I probably won't be up early enough to release her from the hen house, but I like to pair up with Dad to check for eggs and tuck her away safely for the night.

Re-uniting with family and friends is always a highlight of our visits.  I am blessed with terrific in-laws, and I am looking forward to spending time with them, whether it's looking after the hen, watching soap operas (East Enders and Coronation Street) with my mother-in-law, or experiencing a new pub for a bar meal.  In recent years, my in-laws have become quite adept at carving pumpkins, which is catching on in the UK.  Since we can't be home for the Halloween costume contest in Whitefish, at least we can get in some pumpkin action.

My husband's one and only cousin began singing publicly as part of a duo about four years ago, and recently she made the transition to a solo act.  I know it is easy to be biased when it is family, but let me tell you, this woman can sing, and plays guitar and piano to boot.  We are delighted that she will have a gig during our visit - my dancing shoes are packed and ready to light up the dance floor.

The first time I lived in the UK, I worked with a woman who has become a life-long friend, even though we might only see each other once a year.  It has become our tradition to savor afternoon tea while catching up on 12 months' worth of news.  Our last "outing" was in July 2018, and she put on quite a spread at her house, which we enjoyed in the summer sunshine of her back garden.  We haven't firmed up arrangements for this trip, but I am already salivating for the finger sandwiches and pastries that I know will be part of our get-together.

After a couple days getting acclimated to our new time zone, we'll jet over to Hamburg to visit one of our former au pairs.  We hope to participate in Oktoberfest, complete with dirndl dress and lederhosen, but in any event we'll be content to tour this magnificent city in the capable hands of our au-pair-who-became-a-medical-doctor.

This week, I mentioned my daydreaming to a friend in Whitefish, and she quipped, "Surely you're not looking forward to England's cuisine."  Truth be told, foodstuffs were top of mind.  A full English breakfast.  Toasted tea cakes.  Pie, peas and chips (meat pie, mushy peas and French fries).  Bourbon biscuits (cookies).  Sunday dinner (usually roast beef, roasted potatoes, parsnips, carrots, peas, Yorkshire puddings - popovers, gravy).  Fish and chips, at the seaside.  A cheese board for dessert, preferably with Tawny Port.

With all those calories on offer, I am committed to my running regime, and also thankful that walking the public footpaths will be high on our agenda, regardless of the weather. There may be sheep, and there will certainly be a pub somewhere along the way.  Possibly a random castle, and assuredly an ancient churchyard.

And if I am REALLY blessed, a hedgehog!

Note: given our travel on Sunday into Monday, I may be delayed in commenting, but I will be on line.  I also plan to post Mosaic Monday per the normal schedule.  Hope you join us!



Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Monday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.
 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Mosaic Monday #48: The (brief) Interval

On the last day of September, friends and family members from outside Montana were texting me.  Are you snowed in?  How much snow did you get? Apparently, erstwhile news outlets reported Montana with deep piles of the white stuff, an outcome of the September 29 storm.  To set the record straight - we woke to a dusting.  Areas east of us, such as Browning, had four feet of snow.  Those schools were closed on Monday and our Governor declared a state of emergency for certain localities - both rare events in a state that prides itself on making it to school and work and Costco no matter the weather.

Down by our lake
As I reflected on my pictures from September, I had to wonder - is that it?  Was that our Fall?  Was that THE INTERVAL between Summer and Winter?  The current forecast calls for highs in the 40s for the foreseeable future - yep, feels like Winter to me.  So I am grateful that I captured a few Fall photos while I had the chance! 

In September, plants featured berries and fresh technicolor coats.  Mushrooms sprang up, the birthright of bounteous precipitation.  Some insects seemed to slow down with cooler temperatures, such as this dragonfly that I encountered on the road during a run.
In honor of the changing seasons, I replaced the summery flag in front
of the house with the fall-themed Moose Lodge
I didn't know it at the time, but a kayak on the lake on September 22 with Dear Neighbor Friend may be the last of the season for me.
We attended the Celtic Festival in the middle of the month.  It was one of those days when you really don't know what to wear.  The morning started off brisk, but then the sun bore down and you wished for shade.  And just for good measure, we had a light rainstorm in the late afternoon!  We loved watching the athletic events, the dancers and the musical groups.  Nothing could match Amazing Grace on the bagpipes.  The video below does not present the performance in justice - one bagpiper started it off, and after the first verse, the rest joined in.  Stirs my heart every time. (And sorry it's sideways!)

Just for fun, I have included this video of the Sheaf Toss.  A bundle of straw weighing 20 pounds is tossed over a ever-rising bar, using a pitchfork.  The highest toss wins.

I haven't taken the opportunity to play the piano much this summer, but anticipating a smidgen of indoor time, I followed up with the Piano Man on the repair of the "action" on our upright piano.  I am pleased to report that the piano has now been restored and re-tuned as far as he could take it without breaking any strings.  Just look at the fresh new leather strips, and the unblemished felt hammers!

On a recent volunteering day in Whitefish, I found myself with extra time and I enjoyed a stroll around town as I used to do when we lived there.  It was quite nostalgic, and I might have even sucked up a tear or two!

With the onset of fall in Montana, it is critical to pick fruit that can be an attractant to bears.  With great joy we plucked apples from my Mom's Goodland tree for the second year (see first year story here and here.)  It was enough for an apple pie, and I can't put into words how I felt when I dove into it.  How do you express cinnamon and love, apple and childhood memory, butter and the miracle of the fall harvest?

As long as we are on the subject of food - Head Chef has turned to some of his fall favorites, and as always, I am glad I have a strong workout regime or my waistline would be expanding!
Upper left: Roast Beef, Yorkshire Puddings, Mushy Peas    Upper right: Pizza with home-made crust
Bottom: Zuppa Toscana with home-made bread
Inevitably, cooler temperatures inspire my inner craftsperson.  I have taken to sending hand-drawn and hand-written birthday cards.  Imagine!
I hosted my first Munch and Make session since April.  In Montana, summer is precious and most folks wouldn't be caught inside when the mountains are calling!  Now, with shorter days and questionable weather, crafty birds flock together.
April Munch and Make - my neighbor, who is a hula dancer, works on a raffia headband.  The hula group makes
every element of their costumes.
September Munch and Make: A friend brought hand-made ceramics and glued them to narrow wood pieces
Bottom pictures are the finished product on her bedroom wall
For my part, some new Christmas ornaments are underway.
Pinterest Ruffle Skirt
But I am most excited about the Christmas tree skirt.  I mentioned it in my last post about Josie, and now it is appropriate to tell you more.  Last year, we bunched up some burlap around the base of the tree, in keeping with our rustic theme.  But I wanted something a little more formal, and Pinterest came to my aid with a ruffle skirt design.  You would be so proud - I have been able to take the basics of the design and ADAPT it - not usually my strong suit!

The skirt is six feet across, with brown felt as the base.  Per the Pinterest design, I began cutting the burlap I had into three-inch strips, using conventional scissors.  After my hand nearly fell off, I invested in a rotary cutter and a cutting mat.
Using my superior math skills, I created my own pattern, assuming 13 rows of ruffles and utilizing the burlap on hand.  Here you can see Josie helping me measure the radius.  No problem. 
Not so fast!  I dramatically mis-calculated the amount of burlap required.  It's the pleats, you see.  A seven-foot piece of burlap becomes a 3-foot piece once it's pleated.  I need A LOT more burlap.  And does Hobby Lobby have the color I need?  Nope.  I can't really blame them; burlap dyeing is variable, to be sure.  So I went back to the drawing board and I believe I have a workable pattern that doesn't waste the burlap I have.  You are sure to hear more about this in a future post, whether you want to or not!  I might have been a little (!) frustrated, but Candy Corn helped me get through it!

By now you have forgotten (like me) that this post started with snow.  But one thing's for sure - my plants are not coming back.  While the snow may have been shallow, the temperatures were in the deep freeze, and shriveled fleshy plants.  
Left - Pink Poppy on September 27                                                       Right: Same plant on September 30

You might expect me to be outraged, or at least disappointed, about this.  As you know, animals who nibble my plants can have that impact.  But somehow, I am taking this in stride.  Maybe it's because we head out of the country in a week - I am not going to be here to enjoy the garden anyway.  Or perhaps I accept that this is a force I can't control with chicken wire or a spray.  Or possibly, just possibly, I am growing excited about the Winter - skiing, snowshoeing, the Christmas season - did I mention that both of the kids are coming for Christmas?  That's enough to tip me over the edge and past The Interval. 





Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Monday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.
 
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Mosaic Monday #47: Celebrating Josie

January 2019
She was the five-pound cat that thought she was a Doberman.  She had gourmet tastes, leading to an obsession with brie and grilled salmon.  She abhorred being picked up, but she still wanted to be in the center of the action.  That was our Josie.  On September 20, we made the tough decision to have Josie put to sleep.  She may have been 16 years old, but she still looked like a kitten and she will always be that kitten in my heart.

In 2005, on a visit to Rescue Village in Chesterland, Ohio, we planned to adopt two kittens.  But, as we walked the rows of cages, we noticed two adult cats in a single cage.  The sign indicated they had been residents there for almost six months; the previous owner had found that her new dog and the cats did not get along, and she gave up the CATS!  We knew kittens would quickly find homes, and none of us could abide the thought of these two spending another day in that small space, so after a short visit with Josie and Maggie in a guest room, they joined our family.
2005 - Age 2 - Rescue Village estimated her age 
We enjoyed her antics (mostly) for fourteen years.  Both kids graduated from high school and one graduated from college.  We moved to Troy, Ohio and then to Montana, first in Whitefish and now in Kila.  Maggie and Josie have seen it all.  As Josie's health began to decline in the last 12 months, we prepared the kids and ourselves for the inevitable.  But it was still an emotional event for all of us, and even as I write this the tears are streaming.  I certainly could not bring myself to write this post last week.  On the day we lost Josie, #1 Daughter paid tribute to her on FaceBook with this post:  
November 2017 - in the "spa"
From the moment she stepped into our home, Josie was a grumpy oddball. She did not like to be picked up.  She did not want to sit on our lap for pets, but would sit on a kitchen chair and meow her face off 'til Mom stopped what she was doing to pet her.

Josie liked sunny spots on hardwood floors, ribbons as chew toys, holiday decorations and cardboard boxes as beds.

Josie liked to lay under the Christmas tree and collect pine needles in her fur.  We would be hard pressed to find a ribbon or bow at Christmas that didn't have little kitty teeth marks on it.  Looking back, I think it was her way of showing love.
Christmas 2011

July 21, 2017 - first time she ever sat
on a lap - it only took 12 years!
Josie was by no means a lap cat, but toward the end of her life, we could find her on my Dad's lap more and more.  I think she knew her time was coming to an end and Josie wanted us to have those final memories with her.

I miss you already, Josie Cat.  I hope there are plenty of catnip toys for you to play with and cardboard boxes for you to sleep in in heaven.

I can't promise to keep dry eyes for the rest of this post, but I am trying to focus on the memories, as our daughter said above.  As I gathered over 140 possible photos for this post, I found myself laughing out loud.  "Noodle", as I liked to call her when I was slightly exasperated, had the typical cat penchant to be where she shouldn't be.
On the bed, saying "Feed me" with those big eyes
If a kitchen cabinet door was open, she had to be through it, prompting Head Chef to grumble about "Fuzzhead".  If we found the downdraft running on the oven in the morning, you knew Josie the Mosie had been mosey-ing about the kitchen counters in the night.

#1 Son sent me this email:  

Josie had her own way of showing affection to the family. She may have come off as grumpy but she really did care for us. It showed in her wariness to strangers. She will be dearly missed.

In her lifetime, Josie became legendary with family and regular visitors - she might act all nice and even approach you.  And then she would try to take a hand off, or make a swipe at a passing leg.  One of our neighbors, who cared for Josie during some of our absences, recounted wearing socks even in the summertime, to safeguard from Miss Cuteness (and more importantly, her teeth and back claws!!!)  As our son says, I believe she thought she was protecting us, and our home.  Yes, a five-pound cat channeling her inner Doberman.

November 2017 - in the cat tree
Josie has been in many of my posts; one of my favorites depicted her Houdini talents.  But no recollection about Josie would be complete without this story.  On our way from Ohio to Montana, we were in a Minneapolis hotel for one night.  Shortly after carting all of our luggage, two cats and a bird to the room, I looked around to make sure the cats had used the litter box and settled in.  No surprise, Maggie was curled up on one of the beds.  Josie?  Nowhere to be found.  After two full circuits of the room, I was convinced she had gotten out. I roamed down two hallways, asking everyone if they had seen a Doberman gray cat.  No luck.  Returning to the room, I peered again under the beds, and discovered a hole in the box spring.  I could just see a gray spot pressed up against the far wall.  What was she thinking?  "You will never get me back in that cat carrier again".  After dismantling the box spring and retrieving Noodle, we blocked up the hole.  Egads, the things we do for our furbabies!
September 2017
Spousal Unit recollects that, even after Josie began venturing onto his lap, she was pretty fickle.  Unless conditions were "just right", you could just as easily see her perched on the narrow arm of the chair.  At times, she would not tolerate Maggie joining in the cuddles, and would jump down.  On other occasions, both of them would make a space and settle in.
June 2018

One day, Spousal Unit was listening to a band cover a Bruce Springsteen song, and Josie jumped on his lap.  I caught a little on video.


You may be wondering about Maggie - how is she coping?  Although they are not related, Maggie and Josie have been together most of their lives.  Rescue Village told us Maggie was 4 at the time of the adoption, so that means the "Old Lady" has passed the 18-year mark.  She has a little arthritis in her hips, but that doesn't keep her from jumping onto laps or the ottomans.  Since Josie's passing, Maggie has begun meowing in the morning, usually at the same time the coffee maker starts brewing.  It might be her way of mourning, or of carrying on Josie's fine legacy of the same.  Either way, we are making a concerted effort to give her more attention.
May 2017
July 2019
Josie may have had a favorite lap (Dad's) or a favorite dining room chair (near mine), but any craft activity was a friend of hers.  If you didn't want her to sit on it, you shouldn't leave it out in the open!!!
Upper left: My current project - a Christmas tree skirt.  This picture was taken September 13 - thanks, Josie, for
putting your paw prints on the last project we will do together!
A week passes quickly when you are busy, and occasionally a movement has caught the corner of my eye, and I have looked for Josie, expecting her to be there. Maybe it is these random moments that I will miss the most.

In our family, Christmas is a significant event, full of traditions.  My Josie photo collection contains more snaps from the Christmas season than any other time of year - as you already heard from our daughter, Josie joined in with gusto.
Christmas - 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
Christmas 2011 and 2017 - what happened in between?  Life?

I have no doubt that Christmas 2019 will not be the same without Josie, but we will raise a glass, and tell our Josie stories, and that may be enough.



Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Monday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.
 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter
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