Monday, August 28, 2017

Guardrails Not Required - Oughtershaw, UK (Showing Off "a Small Island" - Part 2)

Imagine a stretch of tarmac wide enough for one-and-a-half cars.  Now visualize that one side of the tarmac drops away sharply to the dale (read: valley) below.  Then add in the realization that there is no guardrail.  This, my friends, is the road over the Yorkshire Dales to the village of Oughtershaw.  It is also white-knuckle riding for those with a fear of heights (me), and the reason I don’t possess pictures of said road. I can offer plentiful shots of the village, so that will have to do!

This is the second part in my series highlighting the visit of my sister and brother-in-law to the UK.  Upon our arrival at Elm Cottage, we treated them to another fine British tradition – the summer barbecue, in which the food is cooked outside but can’t possibly be consumed outside because it’s 1) raining, 2) windy, 3) freezing, or 4) all of the above. 

Nevermind, while the cooking was underway, I kept myself warm by walking about the cottage and snapping pix.  

After our meal, we were ready to stretch our legs, and the four of us headed out for a meander while my in-laws (such kind souls) did the washing up (read: washed the dishes).

It was a misty evening, and brought to mind scenes from Wuthering Heights  and The Hound of the Baskervilles.  
Nevertheless, there were no sightings of Heathcliff, or a hound, or a car.  Good thing, too, since the roads did not get any wider in the village!


Instead, we got some of the classics: drooping tree branches coated with moss, sheep that are at once skittish and curious, and a plethora of plants making their residence on cottages and the ubiquitous dry stone walls.  And this was just the start of our Yorkshire adventure. (A relieved note of gratitude to Spousal Unit for his driving - not only was he maneuvering through the narrow lanes, he did it in a manual car!)

Linking to Our World Tuesday

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Saturday, August 26, 2017

125 days - from potential to progress

Today marks four months and 2 days since construction started on our dream home.
April 24, 2017

August 18, 2017

Wow!!!  Somehow, the installation of the windows flipped a switch in me – it now feels and looks like a house. But I am getting ahead of myself.  Since my last update on July 27, the team placed the last of the tongue-and-groove planks for the ceiling/roof, fitted the windows, and began the board-and-batten process on the outside of the house and garage.
Windows in dining room/kitchen - upper left
Roof/ceiling complete
Boards on basement for board and batten
Close-up of tongue-and-groove
on sun room ceiling
Master bathroom window (left)
Master closet window (right)
Note trim log added to cover up some of the 
foundation - creating a more finished look

Great room windows
Although we have had very little rain in Montana, it's a relief for the whole house to be under roof. 


Also, the team installed the custom stairs that lead you from the first floor to the loft.  I love how the light shines through the second set of steps.  And, we no longer have to climb the ladder to inspect the loft!

We've chosen green/gray shingles for the roof, which will coordinate well with the green trim on the windows.

Trim complete on two of the
four windows
Note progress on board and 
batten on basement
Board and batten complete on garage

Are you ready for winter? It's just around the corner!  Our mason applied the stone to the chimney, and the fireplace insert is also in place.


If you’ve built a house, you know that a construction site is always a bit of a pit.  Given my bent for perfection, I have had to ‘overlook’ this aspect of the process.  Nevertheless, I couldn’t help the sense of relief from some significant clean-up that has been completed in preparation for the next phases of the process.  The site already looks more tidy! 

Before clean-up

After clean-up
This month rang in another major milestone in the life of the house - the first Midwest visitors to see it - my Mother, my eldest sister and Number One Son's girlfriend.  What joy to give them a tour and a first-hand experience of our dream.  It is likely the house will be finished the next time they visit; it will be fun to reminisce about how it looked 'way back when'! And a reminder to all our friends and family - you are always welcome!

Never ones to shirk from ‘dirty work’, Spousal Unit and I put our muscle to work for a couple of (dusty) days.  We trimmed some dead branches from the pines along our driveway, and cleared some fallen trees along the way. 
Man with Hat shows off
his muscle

We’ve begun meeting with our landscape designer, and are excited about the overall concept.  Part of the design will include flower beds bordered with rock, and so we have begun to collect rock from our own property that can be used for the beds. 

In the picture to the left, the cart contains a pile of knapweed plants; they are considered a noxious weed in our region and we are required to eradicate them.   In our couple of days of manual labor, we might have touched a tenth of an acre (out of eight) with respect to pulling up the knapweed – this will be a long process!

Below is a healthy-sized woodpile gleaned from the construction site – partly untreated wood that will make good kindling/firewood – and partly the ends of logs from the body of the house.   We have many ideas for these logs – chairs and tables for the fire pit, plant stands for potted plants, material for foot paths – the options are endless.  Let us know if you have any ideas for these rustic pieces! 
Dust around a construction site is almost inevitable, but it is worsened by the lack of rain in Montana.  As you can see in the picture to the right, the dust gave a (temporary) boost to my tan!

After this physical, hot and dusty effort, we rewarded ourselves with some beverages and healthy (not!) snacks. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Celebrate - Montana's Best

Best of machine quilting
"Since 1902, the Flathead Valley has celebrated the talents and  interests of its residents with an annual celebration of the season.  With our heritage in agriculture and our focus on the youth of the valley, the tradition of the Northwest Montana Fair and Rodeo continues today as the largest gathering in the region."  Official Program by the Flathead Beacon

As I reflected on our visit Saturday to the Fair, I could not have summarized it better myself!!!  Creativity ... Young kids showing off their hard work - from animals to photography to crafts ... Education for the community ... Fair food .... Beauty ... Summer fun ....  I love the Fair!

As you all know, I am partial to flowers, so I found the "Angie's Greenhouse" display at the fair entrance serendipitous!!  I felt welcomed, that's for sure!

The Draft Horse Show drew my interest, and we were rewarded with an education in draft horse breeds - for example, did you know that the Gypsy Vanner is a relatively new breed that was brought to North America from Great Britain in 1996?  The breed comes in various colors and is often recognized by the abundance of feathering (hair) from the knees down.  The genetic origins of the breed include Shire, Clydesdale and native British ponies such as the Dales.   The Vanner is known for its kind and generous personality.  The word 'vanner' refers to 'being able to pull a caravan.'

Nearby, in the Expo Pavilion, we admired the craft of the 4-H clubs, the quilt-makers and the pie bakers (we envied the judges of the pie competition - they were busy tasting 20 apple confections.  How can we get that job?)
4-H - Wow!  Bottom two pictures are from a chess set
Since we hadn't landed the pie-judging gig, we did the next best thing - ate some fair food!

Vikings on a Boat -
meatballs, mashed potatoes,
gravy and red cabbage

Of course, a Fair is a petting zoo on steroids – a delight for the young and old alike.  We caught part of the rabbit judging for youngsters who looked to be 4 to 8 years old.  When asked what he liked best about his rabbit, one young man said “He likes to escape.” 

The next barn bore a “Floriculture” sign, and inside we found a paradise of dahlias and gladioli.  My favorites?  The dahlia with the cream background and the pink tips and the glad with the pink background and yellow tongues.  I must be in a pink sort of mood!  Which ones strike your fancy?

Next year, we’ll plan ahead and get tickets for the demolition derby or the rodeo.  In the meantime, we made do, strolling among the carnival rides and reminiscing about the times our kids tackled them all.  Oh, and about the goldfish that came home with us, swimming slow circles in a plastic bag.  It’s all part of summer fun at the Fair!

Linking to Our World Tuesday
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My Hiking Journal - Entry 4

Monday, May 15 – Jewel Basin – 4 miles out and back

Montana is as parched as a bone right now.  Montana has been like a dry sauna - I go to sing  in church and am croaking like a frog.  So, it is almost incomprehensible that, as recently as 12 weeks ago, mounds of snow thwarted our hiking plans for Clayton Creek - the access gate was closed.  So, bringing to mind a recommendation from our waitress earlier in the week, we carried on to Graves Creek trailhead, only to find THAT road also closed short of the trailhead.  Not ones to be left empty-footed, we nevertheless hiked up that road to the trailhead (about 2 miles) and then returned by the same route.  The picture above shows why the road was still closed!  Presumably, a similar challenge caused the Clayton Creek road closure.

Not all was lost - on the road to both of these trails, we experienced stunning views across the Hungry Horse reservoir to the mountains of Glacier National Park.  As you can see, plentiful snowcaps on the peaks provided a sharp contrast with the blue skies.
Also, we were blessed by an osprey nest close to the road; one parent remained on the roost while the other perched nearby.

Once on the trail, we were quickly reminded that all that snow also brings the blessing of abundant cascades, big and small.

And a smattering of brave spring wildflowers.

Here are my hiking companions (Number 1 Son on the left and Spousal Unit on the right - no Man with Hat this day), sporting fashion headgear and looking for wildlife on the distant hillsides.

At the end of our hike, we enjoyed our picnic lunch at a primitive camp site near Handkerchief Lake.
 We had not seen a soul since leaving the 'metropolis' of Hungry Horse - another blessing of the snow and the remoteness of this area - it weeds out all but the most persistent!

Linking to Outdoor Wednesday
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