Thursday, July 30, 2015

Gone Fishin'

My husband has been working very hard of late, so with all the accumulated overtime, he was able to take a day off mid-week to go fishing. We go together. He fishes while I read and do needlework. 

After driving about 90 minutes to our favorite location, the first thing we do is find a picnic table tucked into the trees....

... with one notable form of civilization near by.

Beloved uses the back of his Ford to suit up for the occasion.

Then he assembles his fly rod ...

... and pulls out his bug collection to decide which one he will use this time. 

This is the one part of the day when our hobbies line up in similarity. I thread needles for appliqué while he threads the fishing line through the dry fly.

The scariest part of the day is when he makes his way down a steep dirt hill to get to the stream. (coming back up isn't any easier)

I always linger for a while as he gets started. I love to watch him cast the line, although it is virtually impossible to get a good picture of the line swirling in the air when using a phone camera.

Then as I make my way back to the picnic table and my own hobbies, I usually stop to take photos of nature.

On this particular day I saw a lot of rose hips, something different from all the wild flowers strewn along the path.

I settled into the bench at the picnic table but before picking up my needlework, I spent a little more time just gazing at the most amazing surroundings in every direction.

My project was an appliqué of Kansas Sunflowers. I plan to combine them with some patchwork for a wall hanging.

I want to be sure to show you my shoes. For years I debated about buying some Keens -- they aren't pretty Barbie shoes, but they really are comfortable and with or without socks, they are perfect for my casual life style. They've got good tread on them for hiking.

Any time I'm doing something really fun, like sewing, taking a break to eat is almost a nuisance.  But Beloved had been in the water for quite some time, so when I saw him approaching, I tucked my supplies away and pulled out his sandwich and my salad.

Along with the usual picnic ants, Chip 'n Dale showed up, anticipating handouts. Beloved started to toss this fellow a nut but I quickly stopped him. I didn't want to be pestered by these guys after lunch was over and I would be sewing again. (In spite of my penchant for whimsey, practicality more often wins out.)

With lunch behind us, Beloved returned to the stream with his bugs.

It's amazing to me how a man can find such pleasure just standing in knee-deep water and repeatedly casting a line in search of trout.

I happened to look up and saw three jets with contrails high above us, as if in formation.  Maybe they were trying to do that? I dunno.

I had been sitting most of the day, so when Beloved was ready to move up stream, he invited me to come along. 

I packed up my sewing in the car and then we walked a very long way on the road by the stream, looking for a perfect place to drop a line. I sat on the ground and waited while Beloved fished, simply enjoying the excuse to be busy with absolutely nothing!

After a couple hours of fishing and walking, we headed back to the car and loaded up.

A total of three trout were caught that day: one in the stream that was too small to keep ...

... and two at the Cracker Barrel on the way home! Yum!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Summer Hodgepodge

a fond travel memory: Portland Head Lighthouse, Maine in 2010

Today is Hodgepodge Wednesday, when Joyce asks the questions, bloggers reply, and then link up together at From This Side of the Pond

1.  I recently read here about four secrets to happiness from around the world. They were:

- overcome your fears by facing them head on
- allow yourself to relax and reset 
- work to live versus living to work
- find the good in life. 

Not sure if these are the actual secrets to happiness, but which of the four do you struggle with most? Which one comes most easily to you?

I struggle the most with allowing myself to relax and reset.

I do find satisfaction in overcoming my fears by facing them head on because I ask the Lord for help and He always comes through! Getting past the problem is very satisfying.

2. How would you spend a found $20 bill today?

After I was certain there was no way to return the money to someone, I would tuck it into my wallet and just wait for the right opportunity to use it.... often for a fabric purchase for my quilting.

3. Ego trip, power trip, guilt trip, round trip, trip the light fantastic, or trip over your own two feet...which 'trip' have you experienced or dealt with most recently? Explain.

yes, the rocks in the river are green due to heavy rains and a lot of moss
On Tuesday we took a round trip up to our favorite fishing spot. We were gone about 12 1/2 hours and traveled about 180 miles. Is there anything more relaxing than staring for hours at running water? Only one other thing, and that is listening to piano music. (see the next question)

4. If you could master any physical skill in the world what would it be, and how would you use that skill?

(Since we are dreaming, right?) I would play hymns on the piano by ear and praise God daily in my home with the music. If anybody asked me to play for them, I would.

5. As July draws to a close, let's take inventory of our summer fun. Since the official first day of (North American) summer (June 20th) have you:        

been swimming?  haven’t been swimming (nobody needs to see me in a swimsuit ever again)

enjoyed an ice cream cone? I don’t eat ice cream, frozen custard or frozen yogurt due to lactose intolerance (but frozen bananas pureed in a Vitamix till creamy makes a nice substitute!)

seen a summer blockbuster? haven’t seen a summer blockbuster, but we have rented some good movies at home, including the following:

Black or White with Kevin Costner
Flight of the Phoenix with Dennis Quaid*
Woman in Gold with Helen Mirren

*this movie is several years old

camped? I camp in good hotels when I travel. Holiday Inn Express is currently my favorite

eaten corn on the cob? YES! I have had some corn on the cob!

gardened?  YES! we put in a flower bed two weeks ago

deliberately unplugged? YES! I was out of cell phone and Internet contact all day yesterday at the fishing spot in the mountains

watched a ballgame? I don’t watch sports in the summer, just football in the fall

picked fruit off the vine? does eating store-bought grapes and cherries with stems count?

taken a road trip? we drove to Pensacola, Florida and back in eleven days (traveling through Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas) 

read a book? YES! (several) ... be sure to see my rant in question #8 below

Are any of these activities on your must-do-before-summer-ends list?  more outdoor hiking sounds good to me!

6. The Republican Presidential candidates will debate on August 6th. What's your question?

“With all the promises we are hearing, what would you actually do?”  (This was my husband’s response and I completely agree)

7. What's your most listened to song so far this summer? I  shared the link to this song last week and I'm still listening to it:

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I am saddened to see that we have fewer bookstores for shopping. Visiting our local Lifeway Christian bookstore and Barnes and Noble are a real treat. I browse in those stores until my feet give out. Williams Sonoma used to have a large book collection in their stores and it is smaller literally every time I visit them. Crate and Barrel used to have a book shelf and now they have just a very few books scattered here and there -- no more actual book shelf. 

While I love the ease and convenience of the Internet, that does not replace the feel of holding a bound book in my hands and turning the pages, even being able to add my own notes in the margins (if the book belongs to me). 

I am committing myself to visiting my local library once a week to check out at least one book if for no other reason than to make a statement to the statisticians that real books are still meeting the needs of the public.  And I am buying books from brick-and-mortal stores as much as possible  so they will know there are those of us in the public who still appreciate the pleasures of shopping for books in person.

my trip to the library earlier this week

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mount Falcon

one of the trail signs in Mount Falcon Park 
In doing research for this blog post, I discovered that not only Colorado, but our country, the United States of America, has a lot of castles! 

I spent a very short time trying to find out just how many we have, but quickly gave up. Wikipedia says these structures are "primarily country houses, follies, or other types of buildings built to give the appearance of a castle.... usually designed in the Gothic Revival, Chateauesque, Romanesque Revival, Scots Baronial or Tudor Revival styles... built to give the appearance of a castle."

The reason for my interest in castles is because my hiking buddy, Denise, suggested we trek west of Denver in Mount Falcon Park where there are ruins of a castle.

Trail Mix, Denise in the pink, me in the blue
This was our first hike together of the season. She went to Branson (without me) and I went to Florida (without her), so we are just now finding the time to resume our usual summer habit of hiking Colorado's famous trails.

Mount Falcon Park, looking southwest
Mount Falcon Park is just west of Denver, in the foothills and easily accessible from Highway 285 (on the south) or the town of Morrison (on the north). There is a good, paved parking lot, benches for sitting, some picnic pavilions and (perhaps most important) clean public restrooms.

the land tells a story
We began walking the trail toward the ruins of a castle but saw evidence of other stories along the way, like these dead trees surrounded by younger vegetation.  

It is recommended that mountain hikes begin in the morning, the earlier the better, and end by lunchtime because these areas frequently get strong thunder and lightning storms in early afternoon. Along with Central Florida (another place where I have lived -- twice), Colorado is known for its frequent lightning strikes. You don't want to get caught in one of these storms.

We had two destinations within Mount Falcon Park on this particular day and this was the first of them. Mr. John Brisben Walker came originally from Pennsylvania but eventually made his way to Colorado where he is known for being a self-made millionaire, a devoted family man and a visionary businessman. He launched many projects in Colorado, Denver in particular, that impact those of us who live here now, over a hundred years later.

Castle Ruins
Among his notable accomplishments was this castle home built for his family in what is now Mount Falcon Park. 

Castle Ruins

Mr. Walker bought and preserved over 4,000 acres of land west of Denver and began construction on his castle-home in 1901. 

Castle Ruins
The mansion was a marvelous craftsman-style chalet built by stonemasons from Italy to include ten bedrooms, a music room, an observation deck, eight fireplaces, a library and servants' quarters.

Castle Ruins
Sadly, Mrs. Walker died in 1916 and two years later the mansion was struck by lightning and burned. Soon after that, John Walker left Colorado, never to return.

Green Mountain
One can easily understand why such a wealthy man would choose this location for his family home. I am grateful that ordinary citizens like myself are allowed to hike the area at no cost except for the gas to drive there.

looking east toward downtown Denver
I never tire of climbing high and then looking in every direction to see scenes such as this.

the Hogback runs along the foothills from north to south
This is an archeological feature that interests me: the hogback. Like the huge sandbars along the ocean coasts that create an intracoastal waterway, here in Colorado we have the hogback that separates the higher mountains from the plains, creating a long valley in-between. 

a castle and a dream

Mr. Walker was a good man to not want to keep all of this beauty to himself. Among his many ventures was to set aside land for a summer White House for our presidents to enjoy, so they could escape the sweltering heat of Washington DC (I know about that, too... lived there for 4 years).

official marker for the Summer White House project
In 1911 Mr. Walker promoted the idea of a Summer White House. The cornerstone is made of Colorado yule marble and was laid in place on July 4, 1914.  What we saw during our hike,  however, is all that remains of his dream to create "a castle in the clouds for the enjoyment of the Presidents of the United States."

some of the wildflowers alongside the hiking path
Modeled after castles in Europe, architect J.B. Benedict drew up plans for a 22-room castle. However as it turned out, Walker became involved with other projects and his plans for the Summer White House never came to pass. 

the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre
But the rest of the population can enjoy this area at any time, including this breath-taking sight of the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre where famous names come all the time to entertain Coloradoans.

leaving Mount Falcon Park
The morning was passing us by quickly and the clouds were already starting to build up. Rain sprinkles found us as we made our way back to the car.
Good food for hungry hikers!
I did some Internet research on John Brisben Walker in preparation for writing this blog post. One can feel intimidated by all the humanitarian good just one man accomplished in his lifetime. But at the same time, I am reminded that every single one of us is important in God's economy. He created us as unique individuals for His glory and our good. 

A few weeks ago one of the blogs I follow made mention of a fictional character in the J.R.R. Tolkien novel, The Lord of the Rings,  where one man's purpose was simply this: to help his friend who was called to do great things.

That thought fascinates me. We most certainly are not all called, or expected even, to do awesome things in the mind of man. But just the simpler acts of behind-the-scenes enabling of others to fulfill their callings, perhaps that is enough. 

Well, my Brown Bungalow is my castle; and for Beloved and me at this stage of our lives, it is quite enough.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Food for the Soul July 25, 2015

grass on Mount Falcon looking east toward Denver
July 22, 2015

The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.

Isaiah 40:8 NIV

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Showin' Off the Latest

new quilt for the dining room 
Last week my big project was landscaping. This week much of my focus has been to make a wall quilt for the dining room.  

I wanted something fairly neutral and a little more contemporary in design so I can put seasonal colors on the dining table without a major conflict. The quilt had to have black since our kitchen and bathroom cabinetry are black, along with much of our furniture and many accessories.

The pattern is called "Block Party," designed by Donna Poster. You can see her pattern (P-64)  at this link:

The pattern is very quick and can be made to any size you desire. This one is 48 inches square, made up of sixteen 12-inch blocks.

I used a solid black, a couple of blacks with a white print, several beiges/tans/brown prints, a solid brown (that almost looks salmon in these photos, but it's really brown), and some white-whites to coordinate with the white columns in the dining room, the white shutters and white wood work.

Instead of quilting this project, I chose to tie it off, so to speak, by tacking down odd pieces of jewelry, silverware, and various metal charms that I could find around the house. 

a silver baby spoon from my years as a young mother

I lost the partner to this earring last year but saved this one

a silver key that came as "bling" on a purse

a brass button with a nautical theme and a copper-looking fob from a greeting card!

an animal pin from my jewelry box

It was such fun whipping up this quilt in less than a week's time, and being able to personalize it with my own special touches. 

Also, as many quilters can attest, I did not have to buy any additional fabrics to put this quilt together because I had all of this material in my "stash." It was almost "something from nothing"!!