Sunday, November 26, 2017

Another Fine Day in the English Countryside (Showing Off "a Small Island" - Part 4)

England.  Footpaths.  Sunshine.  Flowers.  Pubs.  Which one of these does not belong?  Some days, you get it all!  Come along and see, in Part 4 of my series featuring our tour for my sister and her husband this summer.
Signpost; BW means Bridleway; FP means footpath

My in-laws, Spousal Unit, my sister and her husband
Following a hearty breakfast at Elm Cottage (a self-catering cottage means a talented chef known as Spousal Unit can prepare a delectable feast of his choosing), we were exhilarated with another blue-sky day, ideal for a walk to the village of Kettlewell.

It is believed that the name Kettlewell is Anglo Saxon and comes from Cetel Wella, which means a bubbling spring or stream.  At first, the footpath clings to the River Wharfe. 

Soon enough, meadows push in and open the vista.

We are grateful for the shade when the footpath joins up with a fencerow, where the oak trees stand in formation like an army of tin soldiers.  I wonder about the landowner those many years ago, deciding to sow the young oaks in this majestic panorama.

As we enter the village, we are mafting (read: hot) and there's little choice but to seek out

refreshment in the beer garden of The Racehorses Hotel.

Have you ever tasted Pimm's?  Pimm's No. 1 is a gin-based liquor made in England from dry gin, liqueur, fruit juices and spices.  It was invented in 1823 by James Pimm, who served it at his oyster bar in London.   A thirst-quenching, supremely summery drink, Pimm's Cup mixes lemony soda (or ginger ale), fruit, cucumbers, mint and a fortifying shot of Pimm's.  I first met Pimm's (the drink) at the school Field Day during our expatriate assignment in the UK (yes, there was alcohol at a school event).  I have been a fan ever since.  So refreshing!

Temptation? To linger in the beer garden, sipping Pimm's.  But the splendor of the countryside beckons, and we return to the footpath.  One of our many rewards is the flora soaking up energy 'while the sun shines.'

That evening, we easily found our appetites at The Crown in Hawes.

This pub has a distinctive beer garden with an upper level offering an unparalleled outlook on the dale.

I couldn't defy the urge to snap pictures in the beer garden and on the street as we strolled back to the car - I wish everyone would be as meticulous with their gardens!

Summer nights are a treasure ... they go on forever!  Once we returned to the cottage, I had the occasion to burn off my risotto on another footpath nearby.

England.  Footpaths.  Sunshine. Flowers.  Pubs.  I belong here. 

Linking to

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Friday, November 17, 2017

The Spirit is A-Movin'

My Christmas spirit has arrived.  Unpredictable, it is rarely one event that brings it on.  Rather, an accumulation of positive emotions rolls in like a wave and I am caught up, rising on it like a surfer.  My goodwill is overflowing - and I think I know why.

ONE: Bread pudding.  I am not conscious of my rationale, yet bread pudding seems to go hand-in-mitten with autumn.  Maybe since it's warm, filling and deeply satisfying?  Especially when it's served with huckleberry sauce and vanilla ice cream!

TWO: Feathers and fur.  Deer are certainly not unique in our neighborhood.  After all, as you read in a recent post, they ate our Halloween pumpkins!  But glimpsing one at a gallop in the snow is priceless.

These two bald eagles kept close watch over some carrion less than a mile from our log home, making sure the ravens below didn't consume too much.  In 1978, the year bald eagles were listed as a federally endangered species, only 12 known nesting pairs remained in Montana.  In 2014, the last year data was collected, biologists counted 700 nesting pairs.  Incredible - I'm so glad we're going to be neighbors!

Our furbaby Josie has been vomiting (sorry if this is gross), a growing cause for concern that prompted a trip to the vet.  Turns out, she has lost almost a pound in the last 9 months and Doc suggested blood work and an ultrasound.  I won't keep you in suspense - she has a gall bladder issue that can be treated with medication - whew.  (Equally important, it is medication we can mix with her wet food - it is almost impossible to give her meds directly unless you want Wolverine-like scratches!)  Above you can see how tired (and relieved) she was after the day at the vet!

THREE: Walks "over the river and through the woods".  Water, snow, sky, trees - the Artist's palette stretches out toward the horizon - an immeasurable gift for the casual observer, and for the blogger intent on capturing images that come close to replicating the real thing.

Whitefish River

Pedestrian bridge
Nature's ornaments

Coming night ...
After a snow, the woods are at once a clean sheet and an open book; the white brings a purity that I am reluctant to mar with my boot prints.  And yet it is prime time to see animal tracks, and how snow manages to pile onto even the most delicate plants.  So peaceful.

FOUR: The refreshing passion of youth.  As a capstone project in their senior year, the students of the culinary art program at Flathead Valley Community College manage a pop-up restaurant in the kitchen at the school.  The chefs-in-training do it all, from naming the establishment to defining the menu to executing on the 3 weekends the restaurant will exist. 

The name Six One reflects the gender composition of the class - six females and one male. The team selected a menu of international small plates to delight our taste buds.

Given Spousal Unit's penchant for cooking, it was a match made in heaven.

He could watch the preparation while we savored our selections.

And savor we did, the food and the top-notch service.  The culinary program can count on our reservation every year!

FIVE: Pride in Montana.  Did you know that every year, a different National Forest is selected to provide a tree for the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the Christmas season?  And did you know that this year, that National Forest is nowhere other than Montana?

This year's tree, a 79-foot Engelmann Spruce, was chosen from the Kootenai National Forest in the northwest corner of the state.  It was harvested near Yaak on 11/8 and will travel 3,000 miles via truck.

And did you know that we saw the tree in Whitefish as part of its whistle-stop tour? YES, we did!

Rig with escort - Big Mountain of Whitefish in the background
Spousal Unit signing our names to the banner
Top of the tree, visible through clear plastic at the end of the rig

Check to see if the tree is coming to a town near you!!!

Larry "The Trusty Trucker" Spiekermeier, will deliver the tree to the Capitol on 11/27.  (A native of Plains, Montana, he told us he was chosen for the honor based on his safety record - 1.6 million accident-free miles.)  The Capitol grounds team will secure the tree and decorate it with thousands of hand-crafted ornaments from communities across Montana.  The tree will be lit by the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, on 12/6 during a ceremony on the West Lawn beginning at 5 p.m.  Assuming it is televised, this is one proud Montana family that will be watching!

Linking to
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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Log Home Trivia

Trivia Question 1- when was my last post about our log-home-in-progress?

If you answered August 26, you are correct (and you are the lucky recipient of a Wild Huckleberry Chocolate Bar, when you come to visit).  And you are one of my treasured blog readers.  And, like me, you have plenty of time on your hands to figure out this sort of trivia.
August 29, 2017
Yikes! That's over 70 days ago.  Would you like to see what our crew has accomplished?  Here goes!
October 27, 2017
Comparing the two shots, you can see the application of exterior stain on the logs, plus shingles and green trim on the remaining windows.  We are THRILLED with the outcome of the color combination - when you're making decisions using small swatches, it's always a hope and a prayer that it'll be amazing on a large scale.  I think we done good, don't you?

Garage doors have been installed, and a sidewalk now links the garage to the mud room entrance.  (Within days of pouring the concrete, it snowed and I don't have a picture of the finished sidewalk.)

Working with Forestoration, a Whitefish firm specializing in the planning, design and management of outdoor spaces, we finalized our landscape design.

At their suggestion, we modified the shape of our additional patio space in order to soften the edges that will integrate with the flower beds. 

(Again, within days of pouring the concrete, it snowed and everyone will have to wait 'til spring to see the finished patio!)

Trivia Question 2: who were the first Midwest visitors to our house?

If you answered my Mother, my eldest sister and Number One Son's girlfriend, you are correct!

The alder front door awaits its stain - how weird and wonderful it is to actually open it to enter the house!  Shall we go in?

Textured drywall has been painted throughout the house.  (Can I point out that the preceding sentence, which now sounds simple, involved numerous hours just for Spousal Unit and me to down select colors?)  Spousal Unit completed the yeoman's work to paint 5 portable drywall samples that were carried from room to room so we could visualize the color as it will actually appear.  As it turned out, present at the house that day were no less than eight people giving input to the color choices (at our invitation, of course): the two of us, our general contractor and his wife, our cabinet maker and his wife, our paint contractor and one of our neighbors.  Fortunately, consensus was easily found.  Below are two of the before and after results.
Left - kitchen wall before painting - upper right hand corner shows
loft overhang; Right - kitchen wall with Terracotta as viewed
from loft overhang
Left - mudroom before painting; Right - after painting and with tile

As you can see in the mudroom, tile installation has been completed in a few of the smaller spaces. 

As I mentioned in the post at the end of August, we had gathered a healthy-size woodpile THEN, and in the intervening months it had become a gigantic mess. 

Trivia Question 3: what healthy (not) snack did we eat after working on the woodpile last time?

If you answered Fritos and French Onion dip, you are correct!

Spousal Unit rented a chainsaw and together we invested 6 hours cutting pieces to size and stacking them.  
And just in time, too.  Within a week, snow turned our property into a winter wonderland.
View from great room windows into back yard
In back yard looking up at great room windows

Linking to Mosaic Monday
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