Monday, June 30, 2008

And Finally Home

Returning home after a wonderful vacation is always a culture shock. It's always wonderful to get back but it is tough to get back in the swing of things. It was two weeks on the road with no thought of the housecleaning, cooking, laundry and day to day events. It's always fabulous to sleep in your own bed and to see all the kids and grandkids again. The part that I dislike is sorting through the mail -- all 31+ pounds of it -- and checking the answering machine messages. Sometimes the technology of today seems to bog us down more than we care to imagine.

The last few days on the road were as much fun as the rest of our trip. We were able to visit with our dear neighbors who recently moved to the Colorado Springs area. As well, we shared a wonderful dinner with the widow of my husband's Navy flight partner. Both visits were such a highlight in our trip.

One of our stops along the way home was in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It was a lovely town to get out and walk. We toured the old train station with all the history behind it. It's hard to imagine traveling in such luxury these days.

I believe that I mentioned how both my husband and myself love to get off the beaten path on our road trips. He is the driver and I am the map reader. Although we do have the navigational system in the car, there is nothing quite as exciting as having maps strewn all over the car seat. The roads that we end up on are also NOT necessarily on the maps. We found some great ones this trip. This was a wonderful side road or "old road" that ran along a highway that we were taking. Driving on it enabled us to view a beautiful owl that was sitting on a fence post. I believe he was as curious about us being there as we were about him.

There was one outside of Gunnison, CO that started out as a wonderful paved road and then turned into a gravel road which passed through a beautiful grassy valley filled with ranches, cattle, wildflowers and aspen groves. It eventually took us up to about 11,000 feet and we found ourselves in snow. We saw only one other car on the whole drive on that road. I wonder why.

Another took us through a beautiful pine covered forest where we saw a striking fence made of old skis. Both of these roads were dotted lines on the maps and they were just what we love.

We arrived home Saturday afternoon and all was well as home. The house, animals and plants were well cared for by our willing daughter and SIL.

Sunday we celebrated our granddaughter's 7th birthday. It was a few days late as they have had the chicken pox in their family. Half of the children had received the vaccine and the others managed to get the pox in two groups. Their assigned doctor did not believe in giving the vaccine. They recently were able to switch physicians and they were in the process of getting caught up on the vaccines. I guess they will not need the injection now.

I hope that everyone will enjoy their July 4th weekend and will have a safe one as well.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Continuing Along

As we continue along on our trip I must admit to be enjoying positively beautiful weather. We have heard of so many nightmares in the news lately and it could be a huge hoax if we were not witnessing the damage left in its path.

The farm fields are certainly suffering. Many are still showing new lakes even with a week of lovely warm and dry weather. The crops that are left are very yellow and stunted from so much water. The corn and beans on our family farms actually look better than most that we saw while driving. The farms are farmed by my cousins who are very progressive farmers. They were able to get into the fields earlier with their equipment and got their fields planted. Many fields remain unplanted this late in the year. These are a few shots from our family's farm.

This was one of many farms that had some water issues.

This is my grandparents home. My cousin lives in it now. There are many fond memories that remain from our days spent visiting them. My grandmother remained there alone until she was 97 years of age and decided that the upkeep was more than she wanted. She lived until she was 103.

While driving along the highway, I caught a glimpse of a calf being born. We turned back and watched the continuation of the process which was a real thrill. My husband was born and raised in the Los Angeles area and was amazed to see the care of the mother while she encouraged the little one to get up on very wobbly legs. Timing is everything while driving.

The area in which I was raised is in the heart of the Amish community. Roads are shared with buggies.

Iowa has a great roadside attraction of painted quilt squares on barns and buildings. I had seen them in one of my quilting magazines and was thrilled to see so many in person.

A side trip to Parkersburg revealed an amazing landscape of utter destruction. I simply cannot imagine what those people must have experienced that day. It was wonderful to see so many local people pitching in to help. It will be beautiful again.

We continue on our westward journey. We will miss the $3.69 per gallon gasoline. Tomorrow we will stay with friends in Colorado Springs and then onto Glenwood Springs to visit with "old" Navy friends.

I have a painfully slow internet connection here so I have not been able to check many blogs. I am excited about getting back and caught up on the last few weeks activities.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

On the Road....

Our journey this week has been absolutely fabulous. The sights that we have seen are enough to take one's breath away. We left Southern California and traveled north through Oregon, Washington and into British Columbia. From there we crossed into Alberta where our travels then turned south. Driving across Montana and the furthest northern area of North Dakota, we are spending the night in Fargo, North Dakota. Tomorrow we will cross into Minnesota and descend into Iowa, our destination.

The drive has been an easy one as both my husband and I love to explore the small roads. We take the Interstates only when there is no other way from point A to point B. This makes the trip eventful in some cases as many of the areas are open ranges. It is always challenging to round a curve to cattle, deer, elk or wild horses.
I am amazed at how late spring has come to some of the areas where we have visited. The flowers have been beautiful - spring flowers that bloomed long ago at home. The peonies have filled the night air with the most heavenly scents. I am in awe of the breathtaking flower bowls that we have seen throughout Canada, including these in Calgary.
This is a picture of the gorgeous Banff Fairmont Hotel. They call it the castle.
The Canadian Rockies were covered with snow and the temps in the area were in the 30s. I can't remember what that equates to in C. It is something like multiplying 1.8 and adding 32 for F.
Glacier National Park in Montana was also sporting lots of snow at this time of the year.
All in all it has been a terrific vacation and I look forward to arriving in Iowa tomorrow and seeing all of my relatives again.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Week of Fun

I apologize for my lack of computer time this past week but we have been having too much fun with the grandkids. I promise that I will get back to checking blogs really soon.

Our son and DIL were in Hawaii for their anniversary and we were able to watch their little ones while they were away. We had so much fun and, needless to say, there was a lot of activity going on around here.

The boysenberries are abundant this year so the M and N helped me bake a boysenberry pie for dinner. They really enjoyed rolling the dough and putting their "special touch" on the construction of the pie. They also enjoyed eating it with a little ice cream on the top.

The children play very well together and there was seldom a cross word. The parents tell me that it is not usually like that at home. You'd never guess that.

One great time filler is to catch blue bellied lizards. One can search for a long time for one of those wiggley little guys. N was very good at that task. The children make a slip knot in a long piece of grass (a.k.a. weed) and simply slip it over the head. The lizard never moves during the proceedure and then the kids have it on a leash. Of course we always let them go and move on to find another one. It does make a nice ornament on the green shirt!

P just enjoys sitting on the tortoise sculpture watching the goings on and playing with the hose. At least I can call it "watering the flowers."

Tuesday I was able to slip away to our quilt guild meeting with fellow blogger, Pattie. She wrote a wonderful blog following the meeting. This was our annual giveaway of quilts to various organizations within our community. There were over 200 quilts made and donated for gifting to some very worthy causes. Each quilt was held up and paraded around the room for all to see. It was just spectacular.

Note all the quilts still folded on the table.

The last two days brought our DIL and newest grandson down for a visit. Don't you just love the age when they find their feet? We had such a nice visit with them. Our DIL was down for a job interview for an international network teaching position. She was very impressed with the company and it would allow her to teach from home which she would really love. She is having a hard time imagining going back to teaching after having the baby. I can understand why when I see that precious little face looking at his mommy.

And the good news around here is that they are finally going to replace our whirlpool tub. As you read in my last post, we have been fighting with Aqu*atic because the tub is defective. They have kept repairing it. We finally had to pay to have the tub removed for repairs and it sprung yet another leak while it was still out. I was thinking that it was going to make a perfect patio table if I put a nice sheet of glass over the top. What do you think?

We will be leaving on vacation tomorrow. I will take my computer but am not sure if I will have internet connection while we are gone. We are driving to the Waterloo, Iowa area (gulp, gur

rgle, gulp) for a wedding. I hear that we should be taking a boat instead. Anyway....I will try to check blogs while I am gone. If not, please know that I will catch up when we return at the end of the month. I hope everyone has a great June.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Show And Tell and More

Kelli has challenged each of us to share a childhood keepsake this week for Show and Tell. I am going to share a story of my wonderful doll. When I was quite young - probably around six years of age - my parents gave me a doll for Christmas. I really do not recall exactly what she looked like, but when I was ten I begged them for a bride doll. Isn't that a high priority for every fairy tale girl? My father was in medical school and my mother was making ends meet with teaching. Needless to say, there was not a lot of money. My very clever mother decided to take my "old" doll and have her made into a bride doll. She was given a new wig, a delightfully created bridal gown and placed under the Christmas tree. I never knew that it was the same doll until I was in my 30s. She was adored by me as a beautiful bride and I still delight in seeing her until this day. Her gown is a little worse for wear and the hair would be eligible for the bad hair day contest, but I am glad to have the opportunity to share her with each of you. I cannot imagine what the monetary value for her would be these days since I know that my years would make her an antique. I do know that there is no amount of money that would make me give her up.

Recently we have noticed that the cat's food seems to be disappearing faster than normal. To be honest, the cat should check in at 60 pounds at the rate it is going. We have been suspicious that there is something else lurking in the dark. The food, which is kept in a galvanized can with a tight lid, has been spilled all over. I figured that the cat must have super powers and so I secured it even tighter with a bungee cord over the lid. The cat must certainly be starving to go to all the trouble to get that lid off. All of a sudden the can was being rolled around and I would find myself searching for the entire can in order to fill the cats bowl. We knew that something else must be going on but were unable to catch whatever it was ...... until.....

Yep, that is one big raccoon who has decided that cat food is going to be his/her new diet. I don't think so. As you can see, this animal was really not intimidated whatsoever as evidenced by the fact that my daughter, upon seeing it, had a chance to still go in, get the camera and take flash photos of it. From the photo it appears that it has two colors of eyes. Is that possible in raccoons?

Monday was #3 son's 35th birthday. His older daughters wanted to help make a birthday cake for him and they came over here to bake it so it would be a surprise for him. As children, our sons favorite cakes were train cakes so we decided to make one of those. The girls did all the decorating and had a blast doing it. I have a feeling that it will be a greatly requested cake by the younger brothers in that family from now on.

I've started on my summer themed quilt for the Four Season's Quilt Swap. There are so many wonderful summer ideas running wild in my mind, but the thoughts of a Neapolitan ice cream cone are prevailing.

What do you think? Does this fabric just scream Neapolitan to you? There was a new technique in last months quilting magazine that I am going to be using. I'll share more later.

Our #2 son and his wife are in Hawaii for a week to celebrate their tenth anniversary and we are enjoying a few days with their four children. The kids are great and wonderful with finding ways to entertain each other. One toy that they so enjoy while they are at our house is Magne*tix. These are interesting shapes of rods, chains, balls and wheels that attach to each other by a magnet force. This is definitely the type of toy that would have attracted my attention as a youngster. I highly recommend it for any of you who have young (or older) children around.

Pattie is having a summer contest on her blog. She is going to make a quilt for the winner with some darling healthy eating fabrics. She does a beautiful job with her quilting. I had lunch with her on Monday and got to see some of the quilt squares that she has just finished from her sixteen week class. Be sure to check her blog out and enter her contest.

As I write this, my house is being filled with dust - again! We did a remodel last year to make our home more handicap accessible in case we had the need for either of our parents or for us in the years ahead. We put a whirlpool tub in the bath that was remodeled. It worked fine for five months and then started tripping the circuit. The Aqu*atic company sent a repairman out since it was under warranty. He determined that the tub was defective and needed to be replaced. However, the company says "No." They feel that the tub can be "repaired" AFTER it is removed. Of course the company policy is to NOT pay for the removal. We have been fighting with them since November and have finally resorted to an attorney (my brother) which just infuriates us to no end. To avoid an even longer delay in the use of the tub we are paying to have it removed and then pursue our actions afterwards. I cannot stand a company that will not back their products even with a warranty. After all, we did purchase the tub in good faith and would expect nothing less from them. We did not expect to pay full price for a "repaired" tub.

Since I will be busy watching the grandchildren this weekend, I am hoping that everyone else will have a great weekend as well.