Sunday, July 5, 2020

Mosaic Monday #87: Time

On Wednesday, I was volunteering at the historical museum.  On the paper desk calendar, I made hash marks, one for each of the 28 visitors that day.  Suddenly, I noticed “183/183” printed in the upper-right hand corner of the square for July 1.  Really?  We are at the halfway point of the year?  (I paused for a moment to consider 183+183 = 366.  What?  Oh yeah, it’s a leap year.)  I suppose this is one of the signs of being retired – the days and months tend to blur!  All in all, it got me thinking about time.

Time is an intriguing/complicated/contradictory concept.  The more it slips through our fingers, the more we try to hold onto it.  (Except maybe when we begin a 6-mile run, and we want the next 60 minutes to fly past.)  I would guess that all of us would like to have more time, and yet we find a myriad of means to spend it, perhaps in ways that are frivolous.  We might regret that half of 2020 is over, and yet many of us want the next 6 – 9 months to get behind us so that we have an effective vaccine for COVID-19.

I suspect that the pandemic has made most of us confront this thing called time, even if only subconsciously.  Questions come to mind, sometimes in the middle of the night, and sometimes while I am zipping along the 70-MPH highways of Montana.  They usually start with “What if?”  This type of thinking can be slippery, leading to a real downer of a day.   When I was in the midst of one of these spirals, I heard a song that stopped me in my tracks.  “Keep Me in the Moment,” by Jeremy Camp. Check out this video.


Ever since, when I find myself getting caught up in “doomsday” scenarios, I remind myself to engage all my senses.  When was the last time you thought about the wonder and sheer joy of a hot shower?  Do you inhale your meals, or do you savor thoughtfully, noticing the flavors and appreciating the effort of the person who made it (even if it’s you)?  Is there a pause when you leave the house, to breathe in the air?  To feel the caress of coolness, a slight breeze shaking the leaves of the trees nearby?  How often do you find yourself at a destination, only to realize that you noticed nothing about your 20-minute drive?  You can start today.  To be aware.  To be in the moment.  As you peruse my re-cap of pictures from June, it is my sincere prayer that it inspires you to consider the joy, flavors, inspiration, aromas, beauty, textures, and symphonies that you may have been overlooking.  
A walk on the ridge with Dear Neighbor Friend


Kevin adds a Travertine backsplash to the space behind the cooktop 
Celebrating "Padre" on Father's Day - a hand-made card from me, a card from #1 Daughter, calls from both kids
and breakfast in bed
A morning kayak with Dear Neighbor Friend
Top: Sent my Mom's squares to Violet Protest
Middle and bottom: Hand-drawn card for one of my brothers
Naturally occurring flowers and critters in our "back forty"

So, does this a picture of a sunset represent an ending, or just the beginning of a night full of possibilities? I am choosing to consider the possibilities.






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.
 

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Sunday, June 28, 2020

Mosaic Monday #86: The Icing on the Cake

Postcard for my brother in Utah
In my last two posts (June 14 and June 21), I wrote about my trip to Ohio to visit my Mom.  At the end of my time there, I strategically planned to see my children; if there was any COVID to be transmitted, it wouldn't be to my Mom!  It had been over 5 months since I had seen the kids in person(Christmas in Montana), and I was over the moon with anticipation.  It was all I hoped it would be!


After leaving my Mom, I drove to Columbus; #1 Son is a newly minted graduate of The Ohio State University!  (Do you know what an odd time this is to look for a job?  As a former HR professional, I have been assisting with his job search, and responses are S-L-O-W on the 30+ active applications that he has in process.)  We chose to focus on fun during our visit, starting with outdoor activity.  He located a gorgeous site for a hike, the Natural Bridge Loop Trail near Hocking Hills.  As we pulled into the narrow country lane, it was obvious many others had the same idea - it was lined with parked cars.  And yet, once we entered the trail, it was easy to find solitude.  I was entranced with the honeysuckle that inserted its wandering vines into every available crevice, from barbed wire fences to the abundant trees.
Soon enough, we arrived at the Natural Bridge, which is more than 100 feet long and 10 to 20 feet wide.  Gracefully arching 50 feet across a ravine, it is considered the largest natural bridge in the state of Ohio.  It originated millions of years ago, when Ohio lay under a warm inland sea.  You can read more about its origin here.  I did feel a little nervous standing in the middle of it - my wild imagination surmises that one day it will collapse, the result of ongoing wind and water erosion!
As you might expect, there are other rock features in the area, created by the same forces that sculpted the Bridge.  The Rock Shelter, shown below, is another hallmark of erosion through softer stone, revealing the strata of harder stone beneath.
As we returned to the parking lot, #1 Son remarked on the beauty of the meadow to the right of the trail.  The pictures don't do it justice - you'll have to trust us that wildflowers of all varieties waved in the soft wind, vying for the sun and the rain that threatened to fall from the gathering clouds.

Having worked up an appetite, we treated ourselves to a Southern Ohio favorite and institution, Skyline Chili.
And the goodies just kept coming.  #1 Son escorted me to the Columbus Park of Roses.  Yes, he knows me well - a park, flowers - heaven!  After we had thoroughly explored the flower beds, we amused ourselves with a few hands of Touring, the card game that I described in my May 3 post.  It was the first time he played it, and like me, he loves it!!  I could not have asked for a more fulfilling day!
The Park of Roses opened to the public in June 1953.  


The next day, having driven back to Cincinnati the night before, I savored a breakfast at the Half Day Café with my sister, #1 Daughter and her boyfriend.  From there, I traveled south with #1D to help her move from one apartment to another.  It is so joyful to lend a hand in a concrete way!

The quaint, leafy Mount Lookout area takes its name from the landmark 1800s Cincinnati Observatory, which offers tours and stargazing nights.  It is a significant improvement over her former neighborhood in Cincinnati.  Within walking distance is Mount Lookout Square, with restaurants, taverns, a coffee shop, ice cream parlor and the art deco theater The Redmoor, which hosts live jazz and soul.
We climbed from the square to Ault Park, which features elaborate gardens, picnic shelters and nature trails.  Along the way, we passed many historic homes, and entertained ourselves by discussing our preferred architectural styles.  Clearly, this is a hot topic, since we saw many signs promoting Mount Lookout.
Upper right: the Heekin Overlook was dedicated in 1998 in memory
of James and Mary Molloy Heekin and their 13 children, whose farm
is now part of Ault Park.

One of the benefits of hanging out with "locals" is knowing where to eat, such as Eli's BBQ, our next destination.  A low-key BBQ joint, it features outside seating, a valuable feature in these days of social distancing.  And the BBQ is pretty tasty, too.















A short distance away is Alms Park, known for dramatic views over the Little Miami and Ohio Rivers.


The three of us returned to the apartment and played games, including Touring (notice a theme?)  (The Boyfriend fits well in our family since he shares our love of games.)  Later, it was so delightful to stroll up the street and get ice cream. It was the cherry on top, the icing on the cake to my visit to Ohio.












I could almost pretend that it was the good old days, when the kids were small.  A Mom's heart never forgets, now matter how tall or mature they may get!!



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.
 
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Click here to enter

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Mosaic Monday #85: The Rest of the Story

Postcard for my sister in Texas

This post picks up the thread from last week, when I wrote about returning to Ohio to visit my Mom.  I had promised her that I would do some cooking during my stay, so I hit a grocery store close to her house.  As faithful readers will know, I am not the grocery shopper in our family, so this was a unique experience for me.  I was organized, and managed not to do circles around her hometown Kroger's.  Even so, I am sure it took me twice as long as it would have taken Head Chef, and I have a (re)new(ed) appreciation for his talents.  And I was getting anxious to just see my Mom!

Such a joy to pull up to her house and have her greet me at the door.  On our first day, we engaged in companionable conversation while crafting.  It wasn't long before we were playing a card game called Kings in the Corners, as in the "old days".  When I worked 45 minutes from her, I would come over once a week for dinner and cards.  So it was deja vu when she treated me to her chicken dinner with salad and baked potatoes.  During the day, we also worked on what we came to call our "homework" - documenting important pieces of information and collecting paperwork into an organized file box that I could take to my oldest sister at the end of the week.  When my Mom turned in for the night, I strolled the beautiful grounds of her senior living community and called Spousal Unit for an update on Montana happenings.

And just that quickly, our time fell into a routine.  Eating, cards, and doing "homework."  A bit of crafting.  A few "honey-dos" around the cottage.  I rose early a couple of mornings to run my six miles before the heat and humidity became overwhelming.  I had the pleasure of cooking for my Mom - not even a drop in the bucket compared to the hundreds of meals she has prepared for me while I was at home.
Sloppy Joe Pot Pie

One day, my Mom had a visit from her physical therapy nurse, who determined that her balance had improved sufficiently to discharge her from any further therapy sessions.  That same day, we had to sort out some prescription issues to ensure that my Mom would continue to receive these critical supplies.  For anyone that lives in the US, I don't think I have to tell you how complicated our health care system is, especially when it requires senior citizens to navigate automated phone systems and "easy" on-line websites.  I have the advantage of decades of computer experience, and years working through on-line health care apps as an HR professional, and yet I was pulling my hair out!

We had a few opportunities to breath fresh air, including the day we planted the four hydrangeas that were languishing in Mom's sun room.  She supervised from the seat of her walker, and I was pleased the soil was easy to dig.  Upon returning inside, we applied her permanent to her hair.  This is normal for her, every four months or so, but I have never done it - a bit of a learning "curve"!  She told me what to do and I was the muscle.  I am pleased to say that she was happy with the results - whew!
Chicken Chili

That same day, the first hummingbird visited the feeder that she had filled the day before.  It was a delight to watch it come and go at speed while we enjoyed my dinner of Chicken Chili.  Storms rumbled, flashed and poured during my stay; one of them was quite violent and we heard about tree damage and power outages the next day (fortunately, it did not affect us.)  But they sure make for gorgeous sunsets and rainbows.

Are you familiar with gooseberry plants?  We always had one or more while we were growing up, and my Mom has two that are full of fruit.  One of her specialties is gooseberry pie, so on my second-to-last day I asked her to check on the fruit.  Just possibly, could they be ready?  We had just returned from a bloodwork appointment (masks and all), and rolled our way across the lawn to the plants.  One small squeeze and she dashed my hopes.  Too green.  Sigh.

We carried on with our day.  Cards.  Homework.  I tripped to Aldi's to fulfill her shopping list, and it wasn't too far out of the way to pop in Graeter's for a pint of her favorite ice cream - Butter Pecan.  All in all, we had a sugar-fueled day since she placed the ingredients for S'mores on the purchase order.  Did you know 10 seconds in a microwave can make an outstanding indoor S'more?










Before I knew it, our ultimate day arrived.  The final pieces of our homework were placed in The Box, and we moved on to happier activities.  Changing it up a bit, we played Mexican Train.  (And we might have had some more S'mores!  Isn't that why they are called S'mores?)
I made the last of my three meals, Basil Sun-dried Chicken Tortellini.  So delectable.  The previous night, we had discovered how pleasant it was to play cards on the back patio, so we repeated the experience.  How fitting to listen to evening birdsong and watch the sunset.  It capped off a hectic and yet eminently satisfying week.  I could move on to the next phase of my trip, visiting with my kids, full up on the love that only a Mom can bestow.  


(Some of my comments on your posts may be a bit delayed this week due to a short camping trip.)



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, June 14, 2020

Mosaic Monday #84: Going Home

Hand-made postcard for Dear Neighbor Friend
“What’s round on the sides and high in the middle?”  Ohio!

And that is where I have been for the last week.  As I have mentioned in a past post, my mother got sick in late April, and the 14-day quarantine requirement made it impractical for me to visit.  You can bet that as soon as it was lifted, I was on my way!  (This will be a short-ish post; you can expect more in a future post.)

I have 5 living siblings, and I checked in with them on my plans – with my Mom’s advanced age (91!), I needed to be sure that everyone was comfortable with the notion.  A potential show-stopper?  Flying.  Do you see a plane as a Petri dish or one of the safest places to be with the new cleaning regimens and state-of-the art air filters?  

An N95 mask would mitigate many of our concerns, and I shopped the Web to no avail.  One of my older brothers obtained two, and just before he was set to mail me one, my Dear Neighbor Friend came to the rescue.  After this, I also found out that #1 Daughter had access to the same mask.  Never rains but it pours.

So the travel plans were made, and I went to the airport with no idea what to expect.  First, the parking lot at our small airport was nearly empty – unheard of for the Gateway to Glacier in early June.  Second, the boarding process was the most civilized I have ever seen – people truly waited for their row to be called (boarding is now by row, starting in the back) – rather than everyone standing up as soon as first class is mentioned.  Third, my first plane was only 30% full, and most folks were faithful to Delta’s policy that everyone must wear a mask unless eating or drinking.  (Unfortunately, three guys in the row ahead of me were not, and I was disappointed that the crew did not challenge them.)


Fourth, the “beverage service” is now a baggy with bottled water, a cookie, nuts, a Purel packet and a napkin.  If you were hoping for some Starbucks coffee or a bloody Mary, you are out of luck.  Fifth, the second flight was half full; I had three seats to myself.  I can’t think of the last time that happened.  Sixth, and perhaps most importantly, I was alone.  Before my departure, Spousal Unit and I tried to recall the last time we had been apart for a night or more.  Had to be before I retired three years ago.  I sure could have used him for comfort on the descent to Salt Lake City, when rollercoaster turbulence caused my life to flash before me!  Quite frankly, the whole adventure was like something out of Alice in Wonderland – only the hookah-smoking caterpillar was missing.
Hand-drawn postcard for Spousal Unit

My dear oldest sister retrieved me from the airport (the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is located south of Covington, Kentucky), and in Driving Miss Daisy style I was banished to the back seat, which was covered with a sheet.  Upon arrival at her house, the sheet and my clothing went in the washer while I scrubbed any evidence of the virus from my body.  Much more enjoyable to emerge and have a couple glasses of Chardonnay!










Flowers from my sister's garden
It had been suggested by my Mom’s doctor that I “quarantine” for a day or two before going to my Mom’s house, so I had a very pleasant Sunday with my sister before heading north.  The shade of her massive umbrella over the back deck created an ideal location for crafting - she worked a cross-stitch while I endeavored to create postcards for friends and family.  A slight breeze limited my sense of the heat and humidity, quite a change from the cool/dry environment of Montana.  The day was a wonderful interlude between the weird travel experience and what I anticipated would be an emotional 5 days with my Mom.   Come back next week to read about that!


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, June 7, 2020

Mosaic Monday #83: Emerging (Part 2)

Heartleaf Arnica grows naturally on our
property - a shot of sunshine!
This post continues the re-cap of May that I started last week - so much went on I couldn't possibly cover it all, and you probably wouldn't have read it, either.  So here we are again.













Surprises can come from many places, and this month was no exception.  A stinkbug on the arm of the porch rocker.  Flowers from Spousal Unit.  

On May 17, it was a wildlife extravaganza just outside our windows.  That morning, I was sipping my coffee and looking out the dining room window, my custom in case the ground squirrels are there and need chasing.  This day, I noticed that the area around a drainage pipe had been thrown into major disarray.  What?  I immediately went outside to check it out.  In the past, a ground squirrel had used this hole as a hiding place, and I had piled many rocks on it, large rocks, to prevent its entry.  All of those rocks had been tossed 3 to 5 feet down the hill, and what was a small hole was now two large holes.  As I told Spousal Unit, only a bear or a badger could have done it, and based on the print sizes in the ground, I was betting on the badger.
Red arrows - where rocks WERE
Blue arrows - where the rocks ended up
That same day, I sat near the great room window, putting together my to-do list, and I spied something unusual sitting in the Ponderosa Pine below the birdfeeders.  I shouted for Spousal Unit, and we both watched it for at least 15 minutes.  I commented that it would fly away as soon as I got the spotting scope out, but Spousal Unit encouraged me to do it.  Here are my two favorite photos of the Sharp-shinned Hawk that we took that day using the scope.  Since then, it has returned at least once in the times that we have been watching, and I am sure that I have also seen it flying low through the trees in search of prey.
These pictures don't compare to the professional shots
that many of you take, but I like the "personality" in 
these photos

As more hummers arrived, I
added another feeder to the line-up
As long as I am writing about birds, allow me to mention others that put in an appearance in the month of May.  (Note that the pictures below are from the Internet.)    In our three years in Montana, I have never seen a Blue Jay here; from May 6 - 23, up to three males were regular visitors at our birdfeeders.  According to my Audubon app, Montana is not a common part of its range.


But perhaps the most exciting thing is that I saw the badger the afternoon of May 17.  Yes, this was the same day I described above, when I noticed the fresh digging.  About 4 pm that afternoon, I was looking out the same window, and I am sure that I gasped out loud – for there, just below the window, was the badger, going in and out of the holes and seemingly marking its territory.  Here are two videos that I took right then.




Since that day, I have seen the badger one other time.  The afternoon of May 22, it came out of the hole and sauntered off into the woods.  The trail cam has been trained on the holes for almost two weeks, and has not captured a single photo.  At first, I was tempted to speculate that it is a female and she dug this den specifically to give birth (it is referred to as a natal den), which might explain the rare sightings.  But I would have expected to see her emerge at least once since May 22.  I am now convinced that the badger dug the hole to catch a ground squirrel, but I am not quite ready to close up the hole, just in case!   


On May 20, I was in Whitefish for my normally scheduled hair appointment.  Arranged before the lockdown began, it was timed perfectly for the re-opening of salons.  My stylist and I both wore masks throughout the appointment.  It was hot; I am sympathetic to her spending a whole day in a mask!  We took advantage of being in Whitefish to frequent another local restaurant that we trusted – the Craggy Range.  What a delight it was to imbibe one of their Smoky Old-Fashioned drinks.

Spring always puts me in the mood for rhubarb.  In my childhood, we had several large rhubarb plants, and we ate it raw with sugar.  My mother had several methods to cope with the bounty, from sauce to pie to crumble.  So, I had been pestering Head Chef for a bit to buy some rhubarb.  It is not stocked in his normal grocery store, so he made a special trip to Rosauer’s to get some.  Yum, that crumble with ice cream was an absolute delight.  Do you have a favorite spring food?

While I am singing the praises of Head Chef, check out two of his other creations from this month.  Good thing I am getting more exercise in the garden and elsewhere to burn off all these calories!

Walking our back forty is one of the ways I work off those meals, and each day in the month of May seemed to bring new life to the meadows and glades.  My forays often take place after dinner, and the soft evening light transforms everything.  I am never sure that my pictures do it justice.

The re-opening of Montana, together with the improved weather, has allowed for precious time with my Dear Neighbor Friend.  Chatting around our fire pit.  A bike ride with her standing group of hiking ladies.  Kayaking.  As I wrote in my May 24 post, we made quite a team transplanting 29 lupines into my garden.  She brought another 7 to my house on May 26, and we jabbered on while I planted them.  (By the way, as of this writing, 6 out of 36 are fair, two are perky and the rest have returned to the earth from which they came).
Upper right: a perky lupine
Bottom: view of Swan Mountains during bike ride
I have published kayaking pictures before, but I think these are some of the best that I have ever taken, thanks to the gorgeous sky and the mirror of the lake.  (And thanks to DNF for having me!)
When we kayak in the evening, we almost always see the beaver swimming and eating.  On the day I filmed the video below, we saw four different beaver.  This video shows two; the second one comes very close to my kayak - watch until the end!

I look back at these scenes, and I am already missing May.  But move on we must … and who knows what wonders June will bring, all by her little self?




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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