Thursday, July 27, 2017

An update on our dream (or 'was that a mountain lion?')

Tongue and groove and half
of window in upstairs
OK, I got it.  You want an update on the log house!  Well, here it is!

The last post on this topic was June 13 (second day of the re-set), so you are wholly within your rights to be expecting some sort of status report.  To re-fresh my own memory, I have been looking back through my snaps, and it is amazing how much has changed ....

(As an aside, I am sure you don't want the equivalent of the vacation slide show - 300 pictures later and everyone is snoozing on the sectional?  So I will try to summarize the key points!)

View you will see when standing at the kitchen sink!

Dormer in the upstairs
bedroom - I love how
the  logs come together
with the ceiling
After the re-set (logs placed on the foundation), we were in the UK for 2+ weeks.  When we returned and visited the house on June 30, 1) the window openings had been cut to their correct shape, 2) the stained pine tongue and groove boards for the ceiling were in place for most of the house, 3) framing of interior walls had begun and 4) the roof was framed and ready to accept insulation.
Tongue and groove installed
on front porch - bring your
rocker and we are ready
to rock (and roll)!
Roof framed and ready for insulation (white
blocks on left)

Since then, 1) most of insulation, roof and fascia have been installed; 2) back patio has been poured; 3) most of the plumbing has been completed;  4) other mechanicals have been installed, and 5) deck is in process.
Insulation, roof and fascia installed.  We like the
contrast of the fascia with the ceiling planks
Chose Salmon color for
poured concrete, which has
a brushed finish

Deck from master bedroom
side of house

We are in LOVE with the deck and can't wait to welcome its first guests!
Deck from rear of house

Also during the month, we were honored to receive this plaque from our log home builder.  Once the house is complete, the plaque will be prominently displayed.

"Skidding in Broadside" is a reference to our family motto, which is a Hunter S. Thompson quote: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”

So, now that you are snoring gently, I will answer the question that I am sure led you to read this far -- what does any of this have to do with a mountain lion?  I am pleased (I think) to report that we saw a mountain lion on a hillside very near our house during one of our visits this week.  He was only about 100 yards from our car ... so, while I did not get a shot of the wondrous creature, I will close this post with some nature shots taken at the lake at the bottom of our property, to remind us that we are in the wilds of Montana!

Linking to Mosaic Monday

Saturday, July 22, 2017

My Hiking Journal - Entry 3

Wednesday, May 10 – Apgar Lookout – 9 miles out and back

It's hard to believe we have been in Montana for 2 months - ONLY 2 months?!  We have packed in so much already, my senses tell me it's longer. I have learned a great deal about the flora and fauna of the Flathead Valley, such that my notes from our early hikes seem almost childish.  But guess what?  You are the beneficiary of my augmented knowledge - I am going to take editorial licence and ensure that my identifications are correct, even if they don't reflect the notes I took that day. OK with you?

Behold the Glacier Lily (which I originally identified as a trout lily).  I still remember the flash of gold next to the trail and my sense of excitement.  I asked Number One Son (#1S) to hold its head up so that I could get a good shot of the stamens.  As I learned later, this lily is one of the first wildflowers to bloom in the spring.  It is especially known for its capability to emerge through the snow as it is melting.  So, when you see a proliferation of freshly bloomed Glacier Lilies, you know that the snow has only recently receded.  It is known by several common names, including yellow avalanche lily, glacier lily, and dogtooth fawn lily. 

The Flathead is currently at high risk of fire due to dry conditions and an incoming weather front that brings strong winds that will fan any fires that exist or start.  The Apgar Lookout Trail is an example of the outcome of wildfires, such as the one in 1994 that cleared many of the trees from the slopes.

This saddens me, of course, but it also means that you have clear views of the mountains in all directions.
As you can see, snow was still abundant the day of the hike.  While it can be challenging to traverse, snow has its benefits.  Tracks!  Based on animal tracks (hoofprints) and scat (poop to you and me), bighorn sheep had gone before us on this trail. 

Great pictures!  Mountains are always majestic, but the snowcaps make them pop.  Apgar Lookout peers over Lake McDonald, which provided a grand mirror for the peaks at the far end of the lake.

Despite the prevalence of the white stuff, the ground squirrels were out in force at the summit.  Also, a Rufous Hummingbird buzzed us during our snack break!  I was gob-smacked (British term for speechless) that it would be flying around at that altitude!!!  What could it possibly have been pollinating?

We reluctantly headed down.  In the wet areas near streams, Western Tailed Blue butterflies would leave the mud and flit around us - all my attempts to creep up on them for photos were desperate failures.  As a consolation prize, I snapped these trillium, a known spring flower from my Ohio days.

Trillium turn pink as they reach the end of the bloom
Toward the end of the hike, a bridge crosses McDonald Creek.  A lone fisherman had left his chair to seek a better vantage point.  Looking behind me, I could see the junction of the creek with the Middle Fork of the Flathead River, clearly carrying a load of silt transported by the snow as it left the slopes of the mountains upstream.

There is something about expectation that sets a boundary, isn't there?  We originally planned for a 5 mile hike; this expanded to 9 miles round trip because the road was closed 2 miles before the trailhead.  As best we could determine, it was the fault of the nesting pair of osprey - they had chosen a tree quite close to the road!  So, rather than blame the ospreys, we went for pie!
From the Huckleberry Patch website: Located nine miles from the west entrance of Glacier National Park, HUNGRY HORSE, MONTANA claims fame as the wild huckleberry capital of the West. This sweet tart wild berry grows only in moist mountain areas and cannot be commercially grown. Wild berries are not sprayed with chemicals or fertilizers. Berries are hand picked when ripe and processed without artificial colors, flavorings or corn syrup. "Vaccinium" huckleberries are blue-black or blue-reddish, depending upon soil and habitat and grows on a slender shrub 2 - 6 feet high.

Linking to Nature Notes

Sunday, July 16, 2017

"Hooked" on Mom's Crochet

As I have expanded my contacts within the blogging community, I have been impressed with how many of my favorite bloggers crochet.  So, while I am not in that sisterhood myself, I wanted to share the creations of my mother, who invests many of her waking hours plying her crochet hook to the benefit of others.
Mom takes great joy in crafting gifts for her great grandchildren, who currently number 16 (with 2 more on the way)!  She started with baby blankets, hats and booties. (On our weekly Skype call today, we got to talking about the gender of the greats because the two on the way are both boys.  That means boys 11, girls 7 - come on, girls!!!)

More recently she has been on a kick with animals.  My Mom lives independently at the St. Leonard's senior living community, and one of her favorite activities is contributing crochet projects for Creative Corner.   In addition to a year-round shop, Creative Corner hosts a special holiday Bazaar in November.  The leader of Creative Corner gave my Mom the pattern for the giraffe with a request to make one; Mom has now produced a small tower of giraffes (a group of giraffes standing is called a tower; a group in motion is called a jenny) that have found homes through the shop and with her great grandchildren around the world.

(Upon request, even us kids can have an animal - I have a giraffe I named Tank; he is in storage until our log house is finished - I can't wait to be reunited with him!)

This was snapped up quickly at Creative Corner
Even arthritis does not stop her - she employs an ergonomic crochet handle and it means a world of difference with the aching - even when she does a large project like this throw with 50 stars - she almost regretted that we have so many states when she grew weary of hooking numerous stars. 

So what do you say to 100 stars?

Designs come from various sources - Mom discovered the pattern for the throw above on the back of a crochet wrapper.  Others she locates on the Web.  As she puts it, she has a 'lovely lady' at St. Leonard's who prints the patterns for her.  The Lovey Blankets below were found by her leader at Creative Corner, and every one of them is so cute you want to squeeze it!  No surprise that I have asked Mom to make me a couple of the owls for the babies of friends of mine!

Some of her creations are hard to part with - I remember that Santa and Mrs. Claus were couch companions for many months until she finally had to turn them over for the Bazaar.  Raggedy Ann and Andy also took up residence for a while before making the trek to Creative Corner.  Don't you just love the hair on those two?

Be wary of admiring something in her house, or that she has given someone else - you will probably get one from her in the future.  So it was that I received these too-nice-to-use potholders.  If you look closely, you can see the delicate nature of the hooking - this was not done with the ergonomic handle and  I can only imagine the physical investment Mom made with these.  I am honored and I am hooked!

Linking to Embracing Change
Embracing Change

Linking to Mosaic Monday

Friday, July 14, 2017

Report: Week 19 of Retirement (or Man With Hat)

As long as I can remember, there has been the hat.  The hat that came with us on every vacation.    The hat that always has a whiff of insect repellent, sun cream and fish bait.  The hat that occasionally gets lovingly repaired.  Actually, I guess it would be more accurate to say that I remember the hat came after the kids.  Why?  Because my first real memory of the hat is Spousal Unit clapping it onto his head on the first day of a family trip, and declaring to me and the kids "Now we're on vacation."  And that catchphrase became the hallmark of every vacation since then.

Yorkshire Dales with my sister, my brother-in-law and
Man With Hat
So, does the catchphrase still have meaning now that we are on a 'permanent vacation'?  As I have pondered this, I have cast my mind back to those family trips and how I felt when Spousal Unit would utter his proclamation.  A warm glow would come over all of us in anticipation of new adventures and fun together as a family.  Adventure.  Fun.  Togetherness.  Laughter.  Later, as the kids got older, there was a shared look and smiles that communicated "There goes Padre again!"  And yet, there was comfort in this tradition that continued regardless of time and place and the number of changes that might be going on around us.

Man With Hat hiking Jewel Basin near Kalispell
Man With Hat on the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park
And so I have concluded that his droll catchphrase still has meaning for us in retirement, and maybe even more so.  Adventure.  Fun.  Togetherness.  Laughter.  Tradition.

Happy Birthday to my dear Spousal Unit.

If I Should Fall Behind

We said we'd walk together baby come what may
That come the twilight should we lose our way
If as we're walking a hand should slip free
I'll wait for you
And should I fall behind
Wait for me

We swore we'd travel darlin' side by side
We'd help each other stay in stride
But each lover's steps fall so differently
But I'll wait for you
And if I should fall behind
Wait for me

Now everyone dreams of love lasting and true
Oh, but you and I know what this world can do
So let's make our steps clear that the other may see
I'll wait for you
And if I should fall behind
Wait for me

Now there's a beautiful river in the valley ahead
There 'neath the oak's bough soon we will be wed
Should we lose each other in the shadow of the evening trees
I'll wait for you
Should I fall behind
Wait for me

Darlin' I'll wait for you
Should I fall behind
Wait for me
Yeah, I'll wait for you
Should I fall behind
Wait for me
I'll wait for you
Should I fall behind
Wait for me
© Downtown Music Publishing
For non-commercial use only

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Down the Riviera

Garden retreats are a balm for my soul, and one of my favorites has been lovingly created over several years by my dear in-laws.  As in many UK communities, Mom and Dad have access to allotments, which are garden plots that can be rented from the town council.  Unique in their case is the fact that their allotments are directly across the street from their front door.  The wonderful result is a view of their garden and the farm fields beyond.   

Mom and Dad were both raised in this mining village; their current home was built to provide housing for the miners and their families.   In the early days, they had one allotment and Dad's sole focus in the garden was supplementing the family table.  Spousal Unit describes a garden 'green with vegetables', replete with potatoes, huge onions, spring cabbage, Brussel sprouts, turnips, carrots, and mounds of beet root. (Of course, no English garden would be complete without strawberries.)  All of Dad's work in the garden was done by hand (no roto-tillers here!) as it is still done today.   During our recent visit, I had the good fortune to receive Dad's first tomato of the season - I like to tell Spousal Unit that he comes last after the grandkids and me!

The allotment (along with many others on the street) has been home for pets and animals as well.  Spousal Unit kept rabbits (Chuchyface, Blacky and Smoky) in the garden when he was a young boy.  Chuchyface ate mashed potatoes and yorkshire puddings!  When our expatriate assignment came to an end and we returned to the US, Mom and Dad cheerfully accepted the kids' two rabbits (Butterscotch and Sooty) and my guinea pig, Quiffy.  (During his time with Mom and Dad, I would say Quiffy even came ahead of the grandkids! He had an apartment in one of the sheds, and came into the house to stay in the back lobby if the winter nights were too cold.)  Number One Daughter (#1D) recalls how Quiffy learned to associate the opening of the garden gate with food, and that he would start to twitter as soon as he heard the sound. 

Currently, Dad looks after one hen for a lady who has an allotment down the street.  When we are visiting, I love going with Dad to put the hen in for the night and to check for eggs.  She always uses the same box and reliably produces one egg every other day.

A Young Samurai

Our kids also enjoyed the allotment.  If you were to notice some white specks on one of the sheds, most likely they are spit balls left over from vigorous fights between Dad and Number One Son (#1S).  #1S found some plastic tubes in the shed and hatched the idea of the spit ball fight.  Lo to anyone caught in the cross fire!!!  An orange tree planted by #1S from an orange pip still grows strong in either the shed or the greenhouse, and he also remembers digging a large hole in the garden because he could!  #1D has fond memories of pea and corn rice, accompanied by charcoal grilled sausages during barbecues. 

#1D with Nana's Squirrel

Many a day Mom and #1D would feed the farm horses carrots and apples (ultimately, Mom stopped this practice because the horses developed an appetite for her flowers just over the fence).  #1D will tell you that not all was rosy in paradise - she often had hay fever attacks during our visits ....

Over the years, Mom and Dad gained an adjoining allotment from a neighbor.  Eventually, Mom joined Dad in the garden and flowers as well as fruit trees were gradually added.  Mom's numerous bird feeders attract a wide variety of creatures.  Mom enjoys experimenting with a variety of flowers, and in true gardener fashion, divides some plants in order to augment other sections of the beds.  They both take great joy in 'pottering on', and it shows in the beauty and variety of the space. 
Ultimately, Mom and Dad added a sitting area in the garden, tucked behind one of the sheds.  From this corner of the allotment, you are far from the road, and have splendid views of the flowers, fruits and vegetables, as well as the horses in the field.  'Twitching' (watching the birds) is possible since the feeders are nearby.  You can truly imagine that you have been transported to another time and place.  So it was that some years ago, during one of our visits, the sitting area became known as 'the Riviera.'  Now, whenever we are home with Mom and Dad, going 'Down the Riviera' is one of our favorite past-times.
Abandoned blackbird nest

This blog post is dedicated to Mom and Dad and all those who apply elbow grease to make their allotments a place of harvest, beauty, serenity and family memories. 

Linking to Saturday Critters

Linking to Mosaic Monday

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