Sunday, May 7, 2023

Going Home Again

Do you have a place that, when you think of it, just makes you warm all over?  Aromas might involuntarily come to you, as you look at photos from this special locale.  Recalling the place might bring on a little shiver of anticipation.  One memory cascades into another, just begging for new memories to be created, all while being in the moment.  The above sentences are my feeble attempt to capture the emotions racing through me as I consider our upcoming trip to the UK - the childhood home of my husband and my adopted home.  

As usual, I am way behind on blogging about our LAST trip - October 2022, but better late than never.  This blog shows just one day, and it shouldn't be surprising that it features a walk in the countryside, one of our favorite things to do anywhere, but certainly in the UK!

The Tees Railway Path is a 10 km route that provides an excellent way to discover Teesdale.  The Tees Valley Railway was the remnant of a plan for a line from Barnard Castle to Aston.  It was opened in 1868 by an independent company and was taken over by the North East Railway in 1882.  The line closed in 1964 and is now a fabulous way to explore Teesdale on foot.

And not too far from the church?  Stocks!!!

Sheep are ubiquitous on a countryside stroll in the UK, but I was especially tickled by one white sheep in the field - perhaps the "white sheep" of the family?

Part of the trail borders on Balder Banks Woods, designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1991.  The steep and barely accessible slopes within the woods have allowed the vegetation and wildlife to flourish - they have been virtually undisturbed for several decades.  The designation ensures the protection of the flora and fauna.



For me, I cannot resist pausing in admiration of ancient trees - I love imagining all that these trees might have witnessed below their branches.

The trail descends and we reach the River Balder.  Just to the left of the picture below are the ruins of the Balder Mill, in operation from the 1700s to the early 1900s.  At that time, problems of water supply resulting from the construction of the Hury Reservoir brought about its closure.  

Would you like a couple minutes of tranquility?  Check out the video of the small waterfall, nestled among the moss and ferns.  Some golden leaves are caught upon the rocks, and yet most of the trees stand fully clothed in glossy green.

I love bridges - many have a symmetry that appeals to me.  Maybe it's a deeper meaning that grabs my imagination - "crossing over", or a bridge as something that is intended to reconcile or form a connection between two things or two groups.

The moist environment is an ideal location for lichen and fungi - so beautiful in their own way.

And it was about to get more moist!  It began to rain, softly at first and then with intention.  But I couldn't resist this friendly sheep, which walked right up to me as I passed through its field.  I shared this photo with my Dear Neighbor Friend, who knows a thing or two about sheep and goats.  She said this must have been a hand-reared sheep to approach me so readily.  I think she's right - for the 30+ years I have been walking the footpaths of England, this had never happened before!  UK, here I come!


Linking to Leeanna's Not Afraid of Color for I Like Thursday.  The prompt for May 11 is:  do you have a favorite musical style?  What kind of music calms you, makes you want to dance, or stimulates you creatively?  Generally, I am into country music (Sugarland is a favorite), modern Christian music (I love Lauren Daigle and Anne Wilson), and old school folk music such as Gordon Lightfoot (so sad he passed recently).  The folk and Christian music is my solace; country is my muse for creativity (also good for cleaning the house!)  If I want to dance, I would rather turn to a "party" play list expertly compiled by the Spousal Unit - we love to dance together!

Linking to Saturday's Critters

Linking to Mosaic Monday

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Spring Thanksgiving

April is dancing her way toward May - I better get in at least one post this month!

I scrolled through four weeks of photos, being reminded of the fickle nature of Montana's weather at this time of year.   The heavy snow on March 11 added to the two feet that already blanketed our property.  Not complaining of course -- just look at this scene from cross-country skiing on the property of my Dear Neighbor Friend!

And now, the snow has all but receded, leaving behind flattened grass and bushes, bowed down by five months under the weight of the white stuff.  It's not attractive, but the House Finches have returned to the feeders, and in the afternoon we hear the haunting calls of the Sandhill Cranes as they do a flyover of Hodge Lake - "Open water yet?" they seem to be asking.

Speaking of birds ... Spousal Unit went to Ohio in March for a Bruce Springsteen concert (unfortunately postponed for illness) and came back with several items that have been taking up space at the house of my oldest sister - I was worried about shipping delicate items that belonged to my Mom, and my sister has generously been storing the box.   We have been hand-carrying fragile objects - the "mom and dad" birds above are the last of the collection to get here, joining the seven individual birds that represent the siblings!  He also brought home two pieces of Mom's china and eleven red ruby glasses.

On March 19, 2018, our household goods were delivered to our log home (see this post), possessions that had been in storage since June 23, 2016.  And on April 14, 2018, we made the move we hope will be the last we ever do (see this post).  Off and on for the last five years, we have looked at the large open wall in the kitchen, and imagined a piece of art to fill the space.  Until recently, we always discussed a metal sculpture.  And then we saw paintings by Kylie Mahood Trull, a neighbor.  And together, we dreamed up an idea.  Is it just a coincidence that Kylie delivered this masterpiece on March 19, 2023????

We gave Kylie several of our favorite pictures from Glacier National Park, and specifically requested a moose, a fly-fisherman and an island.

She came up with the flowers, and I love them!!!  Isn't she incredibly talented?

Installation was fun ... if your kids (or grandkids) ever ask you why they need math, this is it!!!
At the end of the month, we made a trip to Idaho Falls, an early birthday trip for #1 Son.  Most of that trip will be the subject of another post, but for now ... check out these paintings from the Museum of Clean.  Elise Wilding stated that this was one of her favorite undertakings and it shows her love for sea creatures that we are eliminating by polluting the oceans.

And I will leave you with pictures of Daisy and Ruby, the divas who really run #1 Son's apartment.  We miss having cats (maybe not the fur and the litter boxes and the vet bills), and so a weekend with the girls was a bonus!

*** I am joining LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color for I Like Thursday.  Her prompt for this week is:  are you a morning person or a night owl? what do you like about being this way? Would you prefer being different?  I am usually in bed by 11 or 11.30 pm, and I am drinking my first cup of coffee by 8 or 8.30 am - what does that make me?  Generally, I do not like having to get up early in the morning - I did that for 30 years, and one of the greatest joys of retirement is the freedom from an alarm.  I do sometimes wonder if I could get more done if I rose earlier, or if I am missing morning wildlife by "sleeping in", but it hasn't bothered me enough to make me change! 

Linking to Thankful Thursday

Linking to Mosaic Monday

Thursday, March 9, 2023

March Melange

Time waits for no woman - hence the diary page twitches to March 9 without my having paid homage to the thrills and frills of February!  It just will not do. So I bring you my melange, my medley, my potpourri of happiness and happenings.  I care not if I hop like a bunny from March to February and back again - if it will bring you even a smidgen of joy, my job here will be done!

Speaking of bunnies, this little one posed motionless outside my bathroom window, less than three feet away, for at least 15 minutes.  Do you suppose it thought it was invisible?

Snow - an amazing miracle.  Have you ever really thought about it?  All those teensy individual flakes, piled up, one upon another.  Strong enough to support a bunny, a cross-country skier, a snowmobile.  (It is still at least a foot-and-a-half deep on our property.)  And the sculptures it can create.  The scenes befitting of a Currier and Ives plate.  I never tire of its beauty and I hope you don't grow weary of my snow photos!

The next photo is closer to home - our "side yard"!  I love how the (rare) sun is casting long shadows of the trees.  The sun is still low at this time of year, but at least the days are lengthening!

I celebrated another revolution around the sun last month, and of course snow sports were part of the festivities.  Here I am posing with the "snow ghosts" at Big Mountain on my birthday.  This phenomenon is the result of layers of rime ice accumulating on the trees throughout the winter.  For more information, check out this link for a quick read.  

(Note: the name of the mountain is Big Mountain - the ski area is called Whitefish Mountain Resort.)

I am grateful for all the warm greetings, cards and gifts I received.  Spousal Unit took me out for dinner, followed by a winter film festival.  It is thrilling to watch other people ski/ride off cliffs into deep powder!  

In late February, we took a trip to Portland, Oregon for a Bruce Springsteen concert.  A few days before we arrived, Portland had over 6 inches of snow and then temperatures plunged into the teens.  It left roadways, parking lots and sidewalks quite treacherous.  We had to forego some of our planned sightseeing (parks and other outdoor venues) because we feared falling and suffering serious injuries.  But we could not resist visiting several of the waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge, made all the more spectacular for the ice around them.

Check out these videos.


You could spend days exploring the street art scene in Portland.  As I already mentioned, the icy sidewalks rendered lengthy walks out of the question, so I only captured three murals that I saw during one brief stroll.  If I went back again, I would make it my mission to scour the Central Eastside Mural District and the Alberta Arts District.

(The Blanchet House mural was especially poignant in light of the homelessness crisis in Portland.  Everywhere we went, tent cities dominated the landscape.  Blanchet House was founded in 1952 by a group of University of Portland alumni as a house for hospitality in the model of those established by the Catholic Worker Movement.  With an original focus on feeding the unemployed, Blanchet House has grown to provide clothing, hygiene items, community, and transitional recovery programs to thousands of people every year.)  The subject of homelessness cropped up in most of our conversations that weekend; we did not identify many new solutions, but we sure agree that our country can do better than this! 

If you search for "things to do in Portland", you can be sure that Powell's City of Books will be near the top of the list.  Covering an entire city block, Powell's has grown into a Portland landmark and the world's largest new and used bookstore.  The place was teeming with people and so many books that I might have been forever discouraged from my on-and-off again thoughts of writing a book.  I did make note of several books that I would like to read!!!

Would you be surprised that donut shops would also make the list of must-dos?  I can't tell you how many boxes of "Voodoo Donuts" that we observed as we gingerly picked our way along the sidewalks of the Pearl District.  It made me wonder about the blogger that recommended Blue Star as the donut of choice.  I can tell you that I sure savored my Lemon and Lime Curd Donut!

As we maneuvered our car to a new parking spot (time limits on parking,ok?) we spotted a World Market.  Oh my.  I don't know (and I am not sure I want to know) how much more the population needs to grow in our area to merit a World Market, so we go and salivate at every installation that we come across.  Just look at these tulips!  (but no, I did not buy them.  We did find some Tete de Moine cheese.  Ooh la la!)  We had an early dinner at Jake's Famous Crawfish Restaurant - yum!

And what can I say about Bruce?  The man is 73 years old.  He has released 21 studio albums during a career spanning six decades, most of which feature the E Street Band.  And I swear that he did not break a sweat during the 2 hours and 45 minutes that they played!  Young folks, take note!  


Back at home, I launched into March with a shamrock frenzy.


Meanwhile, the critters confront the daily challenges of winter.  Twenty Elk waiting to cross on Big Mountain Road.


Bald Eagles fishing at Hodge Lake.

And my favorite - the Ermine bounding along the front edge of the house.

Maybe they should take a page from these pink beauties and be a greeter at Hobby Lobby.  (LeeAnna - this is for you!)


This week, LeeAnna's prompt is "What would you like to have in a dream studio space?  Have you ever seen a studio space you wish you had?"  In this post from two years ago, I wrote about my new standing desk in our loft.  It satisfied much of my dream studio wish list - a terrific view, lots of light, a standing desk, large working surface.  The one thing it lacks is adequate storage for oddly shaped craft items such as rolls of cross-stitch fabric.  My sister-in-law in Utah has a large room she uses for quilting - the previous owner was into card-making and had specially designed cabinets for card stock - turns out they are perfect for fat quarters.  I would love to have her storage options!

Hop on over to I Like Thursday at Not Afraid of Color to hear more!

Linking to Monday Murals

Joining Eileen for Saturday's Critters 

Linking to Mosaic Monday

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Munch and Make Returns

As faithful readers know, stitching makes me happy.  Stitching WITH FRIENDS takes me to a state of bliss.  Throw some mouth-watering delectables into the mix?  Practically euphoria!  Munch and make, a craft gathering with neighbor ladies, has returned after a three-year hiatus.  (OK, I knew it had been a long time, but really three years?  Yes, pandemic first and then life, busy life.  Anyway ...)

One friend plied her needle on the table runner you see at left.  And do you know, she gave it to me at the end of the afternoon?  I was SOOOOO touched.


How about this quilt?  My neighbor is a prolific quilter and prefers to have one quilt at a time in production.  On the day of our gathering, she was finishing the binding.  You probably cannot see it, but the corners of the quilt have nests with little eggs in them.  Love the plump birds on this incredible work of art.





Everyone brought goodies - sugar-free chocolate, oat cookies, lemon blueberry ricotta cake, fresh fruit.  The panda nestled among the munchies was hand-made by another neighbor during our gathering.


My project is the cross-stitch for my sister that I first shared in this January post.  It's coming along nicely; I am head over heels in love with the blackwork patterns that make up the flower at the center of the design by Lesley Teare.


I hope to have another Munch and Make in mid-March - watch this space!

If you would like to see the previous Munch posts, go to March 17, 2019April 11, 2019, October 6, 2019 and January 29, 2020.


I am joining Lee Anna at I Like Thursday this week.  The prompt is "What thoughtful things does your special person do for you, or you do for them?"  Spousal Unit brings me coffee in bed most mornings, a routine that began when I retired.  He has always been the cook in our family - even though it is one of his "responsibilities" in the house, I still consider the effort he puts into cooking overall, and finding new recipes (almost always a hit), to be one of the things about him that I truly appreciate.  Occasionally, I try to surprise him.  A note left in an unexpected place, or candy just for fun.  After Valentine's Day, I perused the on-sale Valentine's candy and was delighted to find this.  It would be a long story to explain the boxer shorts with the hearts, but it has a funny meaning for us!




Linking to Mosaic Monday

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