Wednesday, July 25, 2018

July Hijinks

Summer - just the word evokes deep memories - devouring still-warm tomatoes from our garden, juice running down my chin; the enticing aroma of hot dogs on the grill; dashing through the sprinkler in the back yard, with bits of cut grass stuck between my toes.
Sunset on Whitefish Lake - July 4, 2018

I may be a bit older now, but I still love the traditions of summer, and the boundless opportunities it offers to be outside in Nature's glory.  Here are some warm-weather highlights from July.

Everybody takes at least a short vacation or summer trip, and so I was delighted to accept my neighbor's request to look after her cat while they went to California for a family wedding.  Isn't Katniss just a darling?

It may seem a bit late in the season for rhubarb, but I had a hankering that would not be denied.  Early in the month, we visited a local farmer's market, and I was thrilled to find one stall with massive bunches of rhubarb.  Result: two mouth-watering pies.  Here is a link to the recipe.

The slower pace of summer (sangria on the porch, anyone?) lends itself to naps wrapping up projects. I am delighted to report that my tea towel project is complete!

No, not me - God and Mother Nature.  My role is simply to capture the beauty, and there sure is plenty of that to go around …
Upper left: Pinedrops; Upper center: Bee balm; Upper right: Death Camas
Bottom: Petunias

From Left: Bog Orchid; Lupines and Blanket Flower near Many Glacier; Beargrass; Sticky Geranium 

Very creative lollipop gift from a neighbor
We have been blessed this month to host my in-laws from the UK, as well as my youngest brother and his wife.  And we held two large parties at the house - one to honor all those who made our log home dream real, and one for Spousal Unit's 50th birthday.  Yep, we made a few new memories this month!!
Upper Left: Swiftcurrent Lake; Bottom: Hidden Lake; Both in Glacier National Park
Swiftcurrent Lake at Many Glacier, Glacier National Park
Upper right: my in-laws marveled at the size of  "2 scoops"
Middle right: Hand-made gift from a neighbor
Lower right: Bird seed house gift from in-laws
Left: Mountain near Many Glacier

And now I am writing this from the UK, where we are visiting my in-laws in advance of the wedding of Spousal Unit's only cousin.  Despite the many years of summer holidays here, we can still find new places to experience.

Top and bottom: Royal Border Bridge in Berwick-on-Tweed, completed in 1850
Middle: Millennium Window - Church of the Holy Trinity

Walking the Coastal Path near Berwick-on-Tweed
Quarry Garden at Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens; in ravines cut out of rock, a micro-climate allows for many
unique plants to flourish; this garden is one of only two quarry gardens in the UK
And just in case you have been longing for some new trail cam photos, here is the best of the bunch from July: a cow elk with a baby at her side.  Now THAT'S a new summer memory to be treasured.  What is your favorite summer memory?

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

My Hiking Journal: Entry 14

Clements Mountain with Highline Trail on left-hand-side of photo, with
Going to the Sun Road in the middle of the photo
Our boots could tell you some tales, we have hiked so much.  And yet, some trails stand out in our memories, the colors still as vivid as on the day itself.  Such is our recollection of the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park, which we hiked on Tuesday, July 11, 2017, along with 100 of our closest friends (read: it's a popular trail).

Beargrass and snow on the Garden Wall
Although the trail is 11.6 miles one way, you have the option to start at Logan Pass and finish at the Loop, with very little elevation gain.  The trail follows the Continental Divide below the sawtoothed Garden Wall, and since it is above treeline for most of its length, it offers dramatic views of the power of glaciers to sculpt the land.  

The day started when we left the house at 6.45 am in order to ensure arrival at the Loop around 8 am.  This in turn was meant to ensure that we could catch one of the first (if not the first) shuttle going to Logan Pass.  At the Loop, we found 8 people already in line in front of us.  (While we waited for the shuttle, we enjoyed breakfast tortillas prepared by Man with Hat before we left.)  After 2 shuttles, only 4 people had been able to get on, and I decided it was time to start appealing to the better part of human nature - I stuck my thumb out!

Upper left: Death Camas; Upper middle: Purple Monkeyflower;
Upper right: Saxifrage; Bottom: Yellow Columbine
According to Man with Hat, I was quite entertaining for the crowd that was also waiting for shuttles.  After 15 minutes of hitching, a lovely couple called Sam and June from Memphis, TN, stopped to give us a lift.  We heard later from others in line that this simple gesture started the ball rolling for others to do the same.  As Sam drove up to Logan Pass, we gave them some tips on Glacier since this was their first visit.  By 9.30 am, we were at the Trailhead.  Initially, it was very crowded, but over time groups spread out and we could almost pretend we had the trail to ourselves.

We had strategically chosen this day since it was forecast for cooler temperatures, and the weatherman delivered.  I hiked most of the day in pants and long sleeves.  Glorious!  A bumper crop of beargrass (remember from a previous post that beargrass does not bloom every year)!

Mountain views at every turn. 
Alpine meadows teeming with flowers.  
Bountiful waterfalls, big and small.
No trip to Glacier would be complete without some wildlife of the four-legged variety, and this day did not disappoint.  Hoary marmots are rodents that inhabit alpine areas, surviving on grasses and forbs in rocky areas.

This mountain goat was determined to hike with a group of us.

While at the Granite Park Chalet (arrived there at 2 pm), the sky spit out a little bit of rain as we enjoyed our lunch of rice, beans and corn with salsa, seated at one of the picnic tables outside.  You could see the rain coming down over Lake MacDonald, and the clouds moving in our direction.  

So we did not  linger and were back on the trail by 2.25.  We saw more clouds to the north, accompanied by some thunder and lightning, but we avoided any rain while collecting more visual treasure along the way.
Top: Penstemon; Middle left: Paintbrush; Middle center: Sweet Vetch; Middle right: Pink Mountain Heather
Bottom: Hollyhock
Playing peek-a-boo among the beargrass

We were back at the Loop by 4.15, which seemed long for the alleged 4 miles from the Chalet to the Loop.
Upper left: Hollyhock; Upper middle: Phacelia; Upper right: Unidentified
Lower: Shrubby cinquefoil and Alberta Penstemon

Once again, a long line of people waited for the Logan Pass shuttle. While we could not help them, we did give Wyatt from Michigan, summer boat captain at Two Medicine, a lift down to Avalanche.  He said he planned to go back to the Loop and give people lifts up to Logan Pass 'because I have nothing better to do with my day'.  Must be something about the Earth's beauty that brings out the best in all of us.

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Grasmere (Showing Off a "Small Island" Part 9)

"I wandered lonely as a cloud," mused Spousal Unit (to-be).

"What?" I queried.

"We learned it in school," he replied.  "You know, William Wordsworth?"

"I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze."

It was 1990, and the first time I had ever been to Grasmere, England.  And my Spousal-Unit-to-be is quoting William Wordsworth.  (Actually, I am not sure he got past the first line.) But ever since, I have been in love with Grasmere, and this is one of the many events that made me fall in love with Spousal Unit.  Of course, it was on the must-see list for my sister and her husband during their visit last summer.  (See (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8) for previous posts.)

William Wordsworth (1770 -1850) was a major English Romantic poet who helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature.  William lived in Grasmere for 14 years and called it "the loveliest spot that man hath ever found."  William and his family are buried in Grasmere, in the cemetery of St. Oswald's Church.

I took advantage of this visit to St. Oswald's to capture more hand-stitched kneelers (see my previous post on this topic).

We 'wandered' on, and the winding road, ever hemmed in by dry stone walls, took us to Keswick, a market town in the Lake District.  We checked in to our B&B, and taking our hostess' advice, walked to George's for an early dinner.

Although we all felt like falling into bed, it was much too early for that. So off we went for a stroll in Keswick on a rainy summer evening.  It may not have been ideal, but for me it brought out some Keswick character worthy of a few photos.

And I found a B&B I am just dying to stay in next time, the next time I am 'wandering lonely as a cloud.'

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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Jumpin' June

Is there anyone else out there that feels like 2018 is rapidly fading into the rearview mirror?  Not entirely sure how this trip has already carried us to July 5, but here we are. (Inside voice: come on, you know June has been a hectic month - show them, and then it'll be clear how you got here!) OK, OK!
Reflection at our lake

ONE: Interior decorating

New dresser for loft bedroom
I am always mildly concerned that my posts become repetitive, so I reviewed my May re-cap, and noticed an overlap with three of my subjects planned for this post - interior decorating, landscaping and stitching.  I suppose that should not be a surprise, as we have been working full tilt toward June 26 (arrival of my in-laws from the UK) and June 30 (a party for all those who contributed to our dream house).  Of course, it was essential for the house to be in tip-top shape!  

So, if you like antique/second hand shopping, this would have been the month for you.  We must have made the rounds of our local antique shops at least three times - new things come in, and you see some items differently as the house continues to evolve.  Take a look at our finds!
Left and top left: metal table and detail
Right and top right; chair with detail (floral motif embedded in ceramic)
Bottom left and right: bedside tables for loft bedroom

Echo Lake Café was established in 1960 by Dickie
Conley and his sister Betty.  After being purchased
in 1996 by Bob and Christi Young, it was re-opened
in 1999.
All this bargain hunting makes you hungry; Echo Lake Café came to our rescue with a feast for our stomachs (the food) and our eyes (the lush garden).

At the end of the day, sometimes on-line shopping is the best source for a specific item, such as these red ottomans for the great room - as you can see, Josie approves!

Our talents also came into play - Spousal Unit made this key rack from reclaimed barn wood, and Pinterest provided inspiration and how-tos for a corner gallery wall on the lower level.

In the 2 pictures on top, paper represents each picture/item, 
and allows you to re-arrange as needed before putting 
holes in the wall!

And then there are the gifts that just fit perfectly into our theme, such as the jasmine plant in the metal bucket (a terrific complement to our rustic industrial theme) and this red anthurium (ideal match for the red accents in our great room).

TWO: Landscaping

Unloading plants from truck
This month, the talented crew from Forestoration completed our 'exterior decorating' with plants, shrubs and trees.  I am very pleased with the results; it is amazing how much the greenery adds to the 'finished' look of the house!  On a special note, back in May, Spousal Unit queried about my desires for Mother's Day, and I requested an apple tree as part of the landscaping, to honor my Dad.  When I was young, we had several Winesap and Golden Delicious trees in our yard, and the memories of those apples are etched deeply.  As it turned out, the varieties available at this time require another tree for pollination, so we now have a Honeycrisp in honor of my Dad and a Goodland in honor of my Mom.
Planting in progress; apple trees are on the left
Planting complete in front (top) and back (bottom)

Planting complete in side gardens

THREE: Stitching

All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl; I have made time for my ongoing tea towel project.  "Friday" is now complete and "Saturday" is progressing well.

FOUR: Cooking

I am woefully deficient in meeting my 2018 goal to cook once a week, but I tried to make up for it a little this month.  First, I hosted a gathering of our prayer shawl ladies, and we indulged in a Chocolate Chip Crumb Cake with our coffee.  Second, it was a Father's Day breakfast in bed for Spousal Unit, featuring a Spinach, Feta and Artichoke Breakfast Bake.
Served breakfast on this galvanized steel bar tray, also a Father's Day gift!

FIVE: Time outdoors

As the ultimate stress reliever, nature is my go-to place.  June has delivered, in spades.
Scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, grilled tomato and mushroom sauce

I don't normally focus on mushrooms when I'm wandering, but early in the month, our dear neighbor treated us to morel mushrooms she had personally collected.  Spousal Unit concocted a mouth-watering sauce to accompany our breakfast, and we are hooked.  My curiosity piqued, I studied the mushroom on the web, and realized that I had unwittingly captured a morel mushroom in my May 23 post.  Here are a few other mushrooms from the neighborhood, courtesy of the abundant rainfall (at least relative to last summer, when it didn't rain for 90 days).
I just love the one in the upper left - I imagine small woodland fairies making their home under it!

The precipitation has also spurred the plants, and it seems every 24 hours I spy a new flower while I am out and about.
Upper left: Starry Wild Lily of the Valley; Upper right: Pine with water droplets
Lower left: Wood's Rose; Lower right: Groundsel
Left: Yarrow; Upper middle: Pink Wintergreen; Upper right: Blue-eyed Grass
Lower middle: Self-heal; Lower right: Bog Orchid
Upper left: Mariposa Lily; Upper middle: Hairy Arnica; Upper right: Bunchberry
Bottom: Aspen with water droplets

Of course, I rarely publish a post without some mention of four-legged wildlife, and today is no exception.  On one of my trips to check my trail cam, I looked up from the path to see a BADGER.  I couldn't believe it.  Right in our back yard.  As you can see in the video below, it was quite intent on excavating this hole, long enough for me to retrieve Spousal Unit and my phone from the house so that together we watched the process of this efficient digger hunting Columbia ground squirrel.  The very next day I almost ran head-on into another badger (may have been the same one) as I was returning to the house.  It was just coming past a stand of trees, and it hissed when it saw me.  So, of course I gave it plenty of berth by retreating, and while I stood there watching, it 'floated' across the opening WITH THREE YOUNG ONES.  According to the Montana Field Guide, "because of their shaggy coat and short stature, badgers appear to flow along the ground".  My wildlife meter is full for quite some time with this unbelievable sighting!

BONUS: Ever since I started reading Not Afraid of Color (LeeAnna's blog), I seem to spot Phoenicopterus everywhere (that's 'flamingo' for the rest of us).  This one's for LeeAnna.

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