Sunday, January 23, 2022

Mosaic Monday #164: Idaho, Here I Come!

Last week, we helped #1 Son move from Montana to Idaho Falls as he prepared to start his new job on January 17.  Of course, we were sad to say goodbye, but it was also a joyful moment given that his job search took over a year, and he waited for his security clearance for 5 months!  On December 21, the day he was told about his clearance and his start date, I made several signs that were waiting for him when he returned home from his temporary job at the burger joint.

I mobbed him as he came through the door; the long wait was over!

The intervening three weeks flew past, full of anticipation and the myriad of details that accompany a move and a new job.  Back in Fall 2020, Spousal Unit and #1 Son enjoyed a cross-country road trip to complete the relocation from Ohio to Montana; all of #1 Son's belongings fit securely in the back of his Toyota Rav (well, actually, some he left at the home of one of his aunts!)  This time, we gave him a starter kit of items for his apartment, and also made sure he took with him possessions that we have been storing for years (I lost count of how many Lego sets we had!)  


The entry of the house was stacked with boxes, and the last morning I eyed it with some skepticism.  But the boys managed to fit all of it into the Toyota Rav or my Toyota 4Runner.    We were ready early, but #1 Son had an appointment for a booster, so we waited until the appropriate time.  And would my car start?  No!  And could #1 Son turn around and come back?  No - he had to make his appointment.  We had just enough room to pull Spousal Unit's rig out of the garage and give me a jump.  Whew!  I suppose it was good to get that out of the way - the rest of the trip was uneventful.



We were blessed with good weather (only one big patch of dense fog near Missoula) and the drive went quickly.




As part of his benefits package, #1 Son receives temporary living until his apartment is available on February 8.  He checked into the Candlewood Suites (we had also booked a room there for one evening) and we promptly started ferrying boxes from the vehicles to his room.  We made no attempt to organize anything - it was already late and everyone wanted food and beverages!!!

After dinner, the booster started to kick in (headache, fever), and we were also weary from the drive.  So we bid each other goodnight, with a plan to touch base in the morning.
#1 Son was still dragging in the morning, so Spousal Unit went shopping for him - just a basic shop to get him started.  And then it was the moment we had been dreading - the good-bye!!!  But I managed to get through it - partly because we know we will be seeing him again in February!!!  We have a ski trip/visit with my brother and his wife in Utah planned for late February, and we will visit #1 Son on the way down and back for one night each.  How cool is that?  And by then he will be in his new apartment, so we will get to see him in his native habitat!!!!


On the way out of town, we passed the Giant Eagle Waterfall Nest sculpture.  Unlike most city fountains, this one is left running in the winter to create the magical ice sculpture effect.  I am thrilled for #1 Son that he has a whole new town to explore, experience and make his own.

Maybe it was a sign that, on the drive home, we saw at least 50 raptors (hawks, eagles, kestrels).



The house feels vacant now; we are re-experiencing the empty nest syndrome all over again.  No late-night shouting from downstairs while he plays video games with friends across the globe.  No creaking floor boards from upstairs when he retires to bed.  No headlights sweeping the driveway when he returns from town.  He did leave me a box of photos and knick-knacks he did not plan to take to Idaho Falls - going through it today, I came across this cross-stitch my Mom made to celebrate his birth.  The star was born, and the star has been launched!





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. Tuesday (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. 


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Mosaic Monday #163: 775 Miles alongside Man with Hat

As I was preparing my 2021 re-cap, I calculated 105 miles hiked last year.  It seemed a low number, and I idly wondered how it compared to other years.  Inquiring minds want to know!  So, here's the answer!!!

We moved to Montana in May 2017, and lost no time hitting the trails.  From May 6 through November 24, we traversed 200 miles on 26 different hikes.  So far, nineteen of those adventures have been documented on this blog.

In 2018, we covered 126 miles on 14 hikes between January 25 and October 19.  You have read about 5 of those trails.

The following year, 14 hikes carried us 151 miles from April 18 through September 16.  I wrote about six of the 2019 hikes.

Between March 21 and October 24, 2020, we traipsed 193 miles on 23 separate hikes, and I penned posts about eight of them.

And, finally, 2021.  We explored 105 miles on 6 hikes, and I have told you about two of them.

If you were counting, that's 775 miles in 5 years!  As you might surmise, 2020's significant mileage is owed to COVID-19.  Our travel was limited, and we made up for it with more hiking.  And, you can see that 2021 WAS the lowest mileage we have done so far.  Why might that be?  First, two of our backcountry camping trips were canceled - one because of a wildfire and one because of weather.  Together, they would have added approximately 55 miles to the total.  Second, we have covered the low-hanging fruit; many of the day hikes that are within easy reach are in the books!

The data also shows I have a backlog of 43 hikes that remain unshared!!!  

We are going to take care of one of them right now!!!


Hiking Journal Entry 23: September 17, 2017

Wounded Buck Trail - 9 miles out and back

This day was forecast to be crisp in the morning and fall-ish in the afternoon (high 66 degrees).  And the coming week showed a solid week of rain.  So, we grabbed this as a perfect opportunity for hiking.  We mapped out a 12-mile route that would include 2 lakes - Strawberry and Wildcat.  We should have known, when we tried to find the official trailhead and failed, that this might be a "sigh" outcome!

From where we parked the car (an obvious camping spot), we took a trail that clearly had frequent use, assuming it was the trail.  As we continued, it appeared that the trail route followed an old road, which made sense based on the map we had.


At these low elevations, there was plenty of frost.  In the collage below, the goldenrod was bedazzled by frost, and the frozen puddle was full of suspended butterflies/moths.


After some time, the trail became very overgrown.  So, while it was still visible, it was hard going.  Yes, the path goes through this brush!














The trail followed Wounded Buck Creek as we gained elevation, which we hoped would lead us to the junction with Alpine Trail 7.






However, after three hours, we considered that we could still be three miles from the junction, and that would leave us with no time to go to either lake.  So, discouraged, we decided to turn around.  Yes, it was a "sigh" outcome, but at least I was with Man with Hat!


* the picture above was NOT on the Wounded Buck Trail

** there will be no Mosaic Monday next week; I will see you on January 23!!!

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. Tuesday (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. 


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Mosaic Monday #162: 2021 - That's a Wrap!

Thirty minutes to midnight on December 31, and I have been pondering the year that was 2021.  How to capture 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days?  12 favorite posts?  Key accomplishments?  The best photos of the year?  Or perhaps a focus on loose ends?  Resolutions for the New Year?  So many options!

The temptation to make a matrix is almost overwhelming, but it is possible to over-engineer these things!!  So, let's just go and see how it develops!

Our year was filled with many blessings, and I can think of no better way to start this than to give thanks for my rock, my partner in crime, the guy who puts up with my many foibles with a knowing grin.  2021 marked 30 years of marriage, and the adventures continue - hiking, skiing, camping, traveling.  

After 2 years' absence, we finally returned to the UK and, with great relief and joy, were reunited with my in-laws.  Weekly video chats are better than a phone call or no communication at all, but hardly substitute for a full-on body hug at the airport!  We made up for lost time, walking in the countryside, visiting our old haunts, and a week-long getaway to the Skipton area.  I know I shed a tear or two, watching my in-laws stroll arm in arm in the woods near Skipton Castle.

Together with Man with Hat, I logged 105 miles of hiking, including three back-country camping trips.  Trust me when I say it was downright difficult to choose one picture that represents the beauty, solitude and glory of Montana.  In the end, I chose a photo that was taken by my nephew the day before we started our epic back-country camping trip in the Belly River.  The picture below is in Glacier National Park - Hidden Lake with Bearhat Mountain in the background.

Did I mention 2021 was filled with blessings?  In early August, #1 Son received the long-awaited news: he landed a job, a nuclear engineering position within the Idaho National Laboratory.  I jumped up and down for joy; he has been in job search mode since May 2020, and all of us were thrilled for him that his patience and perseverance paid off!  On December 21, just in time for Christmas, he was informed that his security clearance came through and that he would start work on January 17.  Praise God!


It is inevitable, with adult children, that they will develop lives of their own, and family vacations get more challenging to arrange.  So, we jumped on the chance to be together in Santa Fe in October.  Each of us had our favorite aspect of the trip - Bandelier National Monument for Spousal Unit and me, Los Alamos for #1 Son, Mexican food almost every night for The Boyfriend.


But I think it is safe to say that the trip will be forever remembered as the site of The Engagement!

2021 was not all wine and roses.  On April 28, my Mom went to heaven.  I was so fortunate to spend time with her a couple of weeks before she died, and it was cathartic to write this post in her memory.  Since then, she often crosses my mind.    I miss her, and it makes me sad that she won't be here to see #1 Daughter get married.  Mom, I love you, and I take some consolation in knowing you are watching over all of us!


One of my brothers had a heart attack in November, and I traveled to Ohio to visit him in the hospital.  He is home now, but has a long road to recovery.  Maybe it's an inescapable aspect of getting older, or maybe it is down to COVID, but it seems we hear more frequently about friends and family with serious illnesses, or worse.  As I wrote in my December 5 post, "Life is not simple, or predictable.  At any moment, life can turn upside down.  I can't take any pleasure in the fact that it's someone else who is in the hospital, but I can count my blessings every day."


With that in mind, I turn my attention to 2022.  How will I make the most of this year that lies in front of me like freshly fallen snow, untracked and ready to be explored?  Some things are given, such as reveling in time with my Dear Neighbor Friend - skiing, walking, kayaking or chit-chat over a coffee. 


I will probably do some cross-stitch.  At last count, I have one project underway and at least six others to choose from!   I also hope to try my hand at Spanish Blackwork.


I will continue volunteering - the 63rd Whitefish Winter Carnival kicks off formally next weekend.  You'll also find me at the North Valley Food Bank, the Whitefish Historical Museum and serving as co-leader of the Flathead Chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby!


You can be sure I will be outdoors, whether it is in the garden, hiking or kayaking.  Who knows what new critters we will see?  Each year we get a few surprises, such as the pygmy owl that crashed into our windows in June (and survived). 

We are already planning travel for this year - beginning with a late February ski vacation/visit to my brother and sister-in-law in Utah (and we will pop in to see #1 Son on the way down and back).  In the Spring, we will fly to the UK, partly to mark the 61st wedding anniversary of my in-laws in April!!  After that, avoiding most of the "mud season" in Montana, we hope to finally complete the long-awaited family scuba vacation to Grand Cayman - we should have been there in May 2020 to celebrate the college graduation of #1 Son.    

Sounds busy, doesn't it?  Of course, contemplating a New Year is not just about WHAT we plan to do, but HOW we plan to do it.  I thumbed through my prayer journal from the last 12 months, and the following words spoke to me: gratitude, faith, understanding, "do not be afraid", forgiveness, mercy, compassion, patience, discernment, good cheer, encouragement, letting go.  A tall order, to be sure.


"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."  LEO BUSCAGLIA

"If the will to walk is really present, God is pleased even with your stumbles."  C.S. LEWIS
 
I hope and pray that, together, we can experience joy, thankfulness, compassion and good health throughout 2022.  Happy New Year to you and yours!



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. Tuesday (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. 


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Mosaic Monday #161: Merry Christmas!


Greeting cards have all been sent, the Christmas rush is through.  But I still have one wish to make, a special one for you.  Merry Christmas! (and yes, I borrowed the lyrics from the Carpenters!)

In the spirit of relaxing and relishing this time, I am borrowing heavily from Christmas songs for this post, rather than put in all the work of writing my own prose.  Perhaps that is as much a gift to you as it is to me!!!

For me, the Christmas season officially begins the day after Thanksgiving, the first day Spousal Unit will let me play Christmas music.  I wasted no time on that, as well as creating pine swags for our fence and near our front door.

Some aspects of Christmas start earlier in the year, such as selecting designs for cross-stitch ornaments for the "kids", and then executing them.  I can show these to you now since they have already opened these presents!


Haul out the holly  
Put up the tree before my spirit falls again

Fill up the stocking  I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now

For we need a little Christmas, right this very minute

Candles in the window, carols at the spinet

Yes, we need a little Christmas, right this very minute

Hasn't snowed a single flurry, but Santa dear we're in a hurry

The snow was late in arriving (the ski resort had to delay opening two days, and with limited terrain) but in the last week or so, Mother Nature has been making up for lost time!

 





My Mother would have turned 93 on December 22, and that was a tough day for me - the first birthday she has not been with us.  In her honor, I made Divinity for the first time in my life.  It was one of her favorite treats to make at Christmas.



Winter sports help me outweigh eating my way through the holidays!  At the encouragement of my Dear Neighbor Friend, I am now the proud owner of a set of cross-country skis.  Swishing my way through the woods and meadows near our house is just about as Currier and Ives as you're going to get!


Hark the herald angels sing

"Glory to the newborn King!

Peace on earth and mercy mild

God and sinners reconciled"

Joyful, all ye nations rise

Join the triumph of the skies

With the angelic host proclaim:

"Christ is born in Bethlehem"

Hark the herald angels sing

"Glory to the newborn King!"

A week ago, the moon rose over the hillside opposite our house, and we were in awe.  It wasn't the Star, but I could easily imagine how the Three Kings might have felt upon observing it as I gazed at that shimmering orb.

O star of wonder, star of light, star with royal beauty bright,

Westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light.



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. Tuesday (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. 


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
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