Saturday, December 8, 2018

Mosaic Monday #6 - We Interrupt This Programming


I'm looking outside at the snow-capped mountains, and I just sealed the envelope on the last of my Christmas cards.  17 days until the red-suited man comes down our chimney, and I probably should be writing a Christmas-themed post.  But the sun is bright, and the skies are blue, and it puts me in the mood to return to summer material.  So here's Chapter 6 of my summer series (Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5).

The scene is the south and east sides of Glacier National Park.  The time is mid-July 2018.  The players are Spousal Unit, his parents and me.  To facilitate access to the Park, we are staying two nights in one of the cabooses on the grounds of the Izaak Walton Inn.



(Let's be real -we also chose this lodging 'cause it's just so darn cool.  Who wouldn't want to sleep in a caboose?  When we first arrived in Montana, a friend of ours clued us in about this unique feature of the Inn, and we began to look for an excuse to stay there!  When my brother and his wife visited us in October 2017, they helped us complete our reconnaissance, and the deal was sealed!)

Caboose interior - do you see the black handle in the upper left of 
the picture on the left?  It is positioned next to a narrow set of
steps/shelves - this is how Spousal Unit and I reached the bed
in the cupola of the caboose!  Watch your head!!!

In Marias Pass - yellow penstemon
Our first night in the caboose, we enjoyed beverages on the deck while Cedar Waxwings twittered overhead.  As twilight deepened, we devoured the curry Spousal Unit had cooked up at home - what is it about being outside that increases your appetite?  The next morning, a simple breakfast in the caboose was followed by a day trip to St. Mary's Lake.  Along the way, Highway 2 threads through Marias Pass, which was charted by John Frank Stevens, principal engineer of the Great Northern Railway, in December 1889.  The location of the pass had been rumored for several years beforehand, but it took Stevens and a Flathead Indian guide named Coonsah to discover it.  The pass proved ideal for a railroad, with a valley ranging from one to six miles wide, and at a gentle grade that would not require extensive excavation or rockwork.  When you look at it now, it is hard to imagine that the Pass was so hard to find - it is broad and flat and seems obvious.
Mountains on north edge of Marias Pass

The approach to the St. Mary's Lake entrance to the Park is diametrically different to the topography on the west side of the Park: the land is flat and then is suddenly interrupted by a thrusting mountain range.  This means you can see the mountains from quite a distance.  The wildflowers dance in the space between your car and the peaks, and an occasional fence arcing into the distance appears to point the way.



Trees finally begin to crowd the road and block most sights from view until you reach the edge of St. Mary's Lake.  It was our lucky day to snag a parking spot at the launching point for trails to Baring Falls and Sun Point.





It's odd now to recall that it was a hot day, and it was tempting to dip our toes in the rushing torrent of the falls.  Clouds were piling up on the mountains like a bunch of neglected dust bunnies, but they did not flow into the valley or drop any precipitation.
Left: Man with Hat on the trail to Baring Falls
Middle: Fireweed       Right: Baring Falls

We picnicked near our parking spot, and then a different return route dropped us into a construction zone, where we waited 10 - 15 minutes for a pilot car.  It was a blessing in disguise - right next to us was a rolling meadow with bountiful wildflowers (and some trash - funny how you don't see these things when you are taking a picture).

Can you see the yellow cup in the lower right hand picture?

A hot summer day is not complete without ice cream, so we took advantage of the little shop in East Glacier for some refreshment.  My mother-in-law asked for two scoops, and was shocked at the amount the staffer put in her bowl - almost flowing over (but not more than she could eat)!!!

On our second (last) night at the Inn, we had a beverage in the Flagstop Bar, a classic bar environment on the lower level of the Inn, chock-a-block with historic memorabilia.  Dinner followed on the veranda of the restaurant.  We had a ring-side seat for the flowers in the garden, as well as the Empire Builder Amtrak passenger train, if only it was running on time …  Unfortunately, on this day, the train was significantly delayed and no-one was willing to stay there and wait for it, especially in the dark.  It just means we have to go again!





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.
 


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

November in a Nutshell


I like patterns and rhythms and yes, dare I use the word?  Schedules.

Before assuming responsibility for Mosaic Monday, I was in a weekly posting rhythm, consistently linking to a short list of memes.  I thought I could adapt to a twice-a-week schedule - one for Mosaic Monday, and one to connect with other linky parties.  But I only managed it for one week before life took over.  So I am pretty happy that I can see a path for two posts this week, including one that links up with my old (well, not OLD, but FORMER) meme buddies.  Coincidentally, this is my November summary, and the last time I published two posts in a week was my October wrap-up.  Maybe this is my new pattern?

View from our second floor
ONE: NATURE

My forays outside have been naturally limited by shortened daylight hours.  Also, we have invested those very hours in key projects such as sowing wild grass seed mixed with prairie flower seed.  Nevertheless, I can offer a few outdoor photos.
Upper left and lower right: I have never seen fungi like this
Upper right: Beavers are still active!
Lower left: The low winter sun casts long shadows ...
TWO: NOSHING

Checking the trail cam provides a good motivator for me to lace up my boots and pull on my woolly hat; the pictures above were taken while going to and from the camera location.  We cheated a little bit this month by 'baiting' the trail cam site with our leftover Halloween pumpkins … it's like chocolate to deer, as you will see in some of these photos.
Yes, they are fighting over the pumpkins!
Top: looks like this buck survived hunting season
Lower left: hare lingering under goldenrod just outside our side door
Lower right: coyote moving fast
THREE: NESTLED

As I return across the fields, I can see the warm glow of the lights inside the house.  And I am looking forward to the dinner menu, even if I am head chef!  Somehow, meals are even more satisfying when it's cold outside.  This month, I led the cooking for three meals - close to my goal of cooking once per week.  (The only keeper is the Greek Spinach Rice.)
Steak bites with carrots and mashed potatoes
Greek spinach rice with meatballs
Coconut lime chicken with asparagus
FOUR: NIBBLES

Speaking of cooking, no November summary would be complete without at least a mention of Thanksgiving!  I didn't get many pictures of our dinner, but I have a good excuse - we were occupied hosting 8 folks from our neighborhood.  In the calm before their arrival, I focused on pictures of the table … For those of you celebrating U.S. Thanksgiving, I hope it was a blessed family celebration.  Our gratitude is deep this year, for our home, our children, our family, our neighbors, our health; the list is endless!
What kind of cranberry sauce do you like?  We bought this can for
our neighbor, who claimed it as her favorite (and I like it too!)
Center: Our neighbor made this cake for her son, whose birthday fell
on Thanksgiving.  The 'flames' on the fire were made with melted
Lifesavers.  So clever!

FIVE: NIFTY NEW NOOKS

Of course, Thanksgiving is the entry door to Advent and the glory of the Christmas season.  Ever since our kids were young, Spousal Unit and I have dedicated one day to shopping (it was as much a date as it was playing Santa!!)  In a new twist on our holiday shopping day tradition, Spousal Unit and I enjoyed a one-night stay in Missoula.  We drove 2.5 hours south, and found ourselves in a winter wonderland with a blanket of 4 inches of snow.  The pretty white stuff added to our Christmas spirit as we shopped our way through a mall and then the downtown area.

The "haul" - sometimes we hit the mother lode on these shopping trips - Spousal Unit found three jars of
Branston Pickle (hard to find in small towns in Montana!), HP sauce and Chocolate Digestives!!
All in the same market!
That night, we attended Mass at St. Francis Xavier - I could not take any pictures, obviously, but I pulled one from the Web because the interior of this church, one of the tallest in Montana, is nothing short of spectacular!


Dinner followed at the Iron Horse, and then some dancing at the Union Club.  A fully satisfying day!  (A special shout out to Kit at A Montana Life for her Missoula recommendations!)

The next day, on the way back, every curve brought another amazing view.  If we had any hope of arriving home at a reasonable time, we just couldn't keep stopping.  Sigh.

But even Spousal Unit was amenable to pulling over to absorb this alpenglow over Flathead Lake.  A glorious end to the month and a promise of the wonders that Advent will bring.  Rejoice!

Linking to:

All Seasons

Friday Bliss
Weekly linkup - welcome ❤︎
I Like Thursday

Nature Notes

Our World Tuesday
Our World Tuesday Graphic
Saturday's Critters
Skywatch Friday
Wandering Camera
Wednesday Around the World
Willy Nilly Friday

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Mosaic Monday #5 - The Fine Print

Since September, I have written a couple of posts including my Christmas cross-stitch decoration project.  I have been so proud of my progress.  Well, as they say, pride goeth before a fall.  I failed to read the fine print.


"Finishing instructions" does not equal "finishing materials".

As mid-November approached, I decided it was time to finish the 10 designs that had already been stitched.  It may sound like a simple decision, but for the person in me who always wants to complete a task, this was a wrenching call because the set contains THIRTY ornaments.  I reminded myself about sage advice from Stephen Covey - begin with the end in mind.  What would be the point of stitching all thirty if none of them would actually hang on the tree this year?
Yes, there are 11 here; I finished another one since mid-November

I dug around in the original packaging, looking for the 'hangers' pictured on the cover of the Season of Giving set.  Not there.  I pulled out the instructions, and discovered the 'fine print' - Finishing Materials (not included).

Aaarrrggghhh.


So began a voyage of discovery.  In my mind, I had imagined the 'hangers' as small, colored embroidery hoops.  At Hobby Lobby, I showed the picture to a staff member, and she showed me the hoops available, none of which were the right size.  Dejected, I complained to Spousal Unit, and he helped me look for options on-line.  I quickly abandoned that idea when I realized 30 hoops would cost three times as much as the original price of the set.


Rather than make another fruitless trip into town, I called Michaels and described my project.  In the process of doing so, it finally struck me that the 'hangers' are not hoops at all, but loops of cording sewn onto the fabric.  Duh.  So back to Hobby Lobby I went, this time in search of cotton fabric, mounting circles, cording, etc.

I found most of what I needed, and got creative with the rest.  A piece of poster board served as a mounting board circle, and I eagerly laced the first design over the circle with a bit of polyfil underneath to make it slightly poofy.  I quickly realized that conventional sewing thread was not suitable for this lacing task, since the knots were not big enough to stay put in the Aida cloth.  I struggled through with the thread anyway, and then I had my next a-ha moment - the set came with felt backing!!!  This is mentioned on the front cover of the set, but is not mentioned anywhere in the finishing instructions.  Effectively, the white felt takes the place of the 'cotton fabric circle' that is listed in the finishing materials and the finishing instructions.

So, I decided to disregard the directions to center the cotton fabric over a mounting board circle with lacing, etc.  Instead, I attempted to glue the felt circle to the back of my laced design.  (No glue gun here, folks, just regular old fabric glue.  As you might surmise, it didn't work.)  So, I hand-stitched the felt to the Aida fabric.

Fine - now we are making progress.  On to the cording.  I had selected a 1/8 inch cording featuring red, green and white - I thought it would make a nice complement to the designs.  Bottom line?  After I stitched the cording to the ornament with white thread, I was not satisfied with the look.  As you can see, the cording got 'lost' against the size of the ornament.  Also, the stitching was showing.  More aaarrrggghhh.  Back to Hobby Lobby I went.


I returned one unopened spool of the cording, and a package of cotton fabric that was now surplus to requirements since I discovered the felt.  I bought a much broader decorative trim in solid red, and also took this chance to buy some thicker thread that would make the initial lacing easier.

And check out the result!

The red trim makes the whole ornament pop.  In addition, it allows me to make the ornament look circular; before adding the trim, lacing the stiff Aida fabric results in a shape more akin to a hexagon.  

So happy!  Now that I have a 'system' for completing each ornament, it only takes an hour for the finishing process.  Who knows?  I might be able to stitch a few more and get them on the tree, THIS YEAR.









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.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Mosaic Monday #4 - The Piano Man


Do you own anything that is 100 years old?  Last week, our upright piano was serviced by Daryl Frank, piano technician, and he confirmed that it was crafted at the turn of the century.  This was not a complete surprise since I know it originally belonged to my maternal great-grandfather Clem.  My mother inherited it, and the piano lived with one of my sisters for a time until I adopted it.

But Daryl was a veritable font of information, confirming some points I already knew, while adding facts about the piano that were news to me.

ONE: The piano is made from quarter sawn oak.  This corroborated an assessment by our good friend Neal, the general contractor for our house who knows a lot about carpentry.  Uprights made from quarter sawn oak were the most expensive uprights you could buy.  



TWO: The piano was originally stained and shellacked a dark, almost black, color, as can be seen on the inside of the lid of the piano.  This was news (I am not sure I ever knew you could open the lid!)


THREE: Later, someone stained and lacquered the entire piano a cherry color, which still remains on some of the inside sections of the piano.  I remember this color - it was the shade I first recall on the piano, that is until my Mother decided to remove it in the late 1970s, revealing the marvelous oak grain underneath.  (She applied a protective coat of polyurethane to all the surfaces.)  Daryl and his wife Connie, who together run Daryl Frank Piano Services, remarked on the professional work of my Mother, to remove all trace of that cherry from even the intricate sections of the piano.

FOUR: Quarter sawn oak is also referred to as Chatter Oak, because of the way the saw leaves a 'chatter' pattern on the oak.  This was a new term for me; when I looked it up on the Web, most of what I found described how to eliminate chatter!!!

FIVE: The piano contains a serial number, which will allow Daryl and Connie to identify exactly when this piano was built, even though Price and Teeple has been out of business for decades.  Of course I had noticed this number in the metal frame of the piano, but I didn't realize it could be used for anything as important as this!


SIX: Daryl estimated that Great-Grandfather Clem paid $275 to acquire this piano.  In today's dollars, that equates to roughly $8,000.  I had no idea!

Detail stripped by my Mother
SEVEN: The piano is dramatically out of tune, by at least a whole tone.  Although I play, recognizing an instrument in tune is way beyond my capability.  Glad we have experts for this!  Daryl was cautious as he tuned the piano; with its age, the likelihood of breaking wires during tuning increases.


Detail stripped by my Mother
EIGHT: Humidity (or lack thereof) can affect the tuning of a piano, and Daryl theorized that the piano (moved from Ohio) might still be 'drying out' in Montana.  Until it is dried out completely, the tuning of the piano could still fluctuate.  So, partly for this reason, and somewhat due to the age of the wires, Daryl only tuned it partway and will return in the spring for another tuning.

NINE: The "action" on our piano will need repair.  The bridal tape, a component that moves the hammer back and forth to strike the strings, is made of leather.  After 100 years, those skinny bits of leather have started to deteriorate.  Also, the felt on many of the hammers (especially for those keys used frequently) has been crushed and will not be effective.  The good news?  Daryl can simply remove the action and take it to his shop, rather than have to move this massive instrument.  He plans to do this in the spring, after or as part of the next tuning.


TEN: Piano craftsmen often put pennies inside the instruments for good luck.  Another novel fact.  But, no, we are not going to tear it appart to see if we have one of those lucky pennies!

ELEVEN: Daryl pointed out the scrollwork inside the piano, which I had taken for granted.  Apparently, the decorations were hand-painted onto the metal frame.  The painter must have had a steady hand!


TWELVE: While packing his tools to leave, Daryl asked if we had any trouble getting the piano across the state border.  Spousal Unit and I exchanged puzzled looks, and he explained that some states are starting to explore legislation prohibiting the import of ivory, regardless of its age or source.  Oh my goodness - after all the trouble we had getting the piano into position (see previous post), I can't imagine what I would have done if someone wanted to strip the keys off the instrument!!!

If some of the edges are sharp, Connie advised that I could use an 
emery board to smooth the edges.  Acrylic, like that used for
nails, could be used to build up/replace the chips.  Vinegar
water can remove some of the staining without
affecting the ivory patina. 

THIRTEEN: It's irreplaceable.  Yep, I think I knew that.
(Although a physical item like this cannot be replaced, it is some consolation to receive monetary compensation from your insurance company if the item is destroyed, as in a fire.  Make sure you work with a specialist and your insurance company to document the value of such a specimen!!!)



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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