Saturday, November 28, 2009

Early Thanksgiving

Our youngest son not only gave us a wonderful daughter-in-law, he brought us some great friends in her her family members. Her brother Matt and his wife Heather moved to Longmont, a neighboring community not too long after we relocated to Loveland.

Last Sunday they invited us to their home to share an early Thanksgiving dinner with them and their five children. All I had to bring was dessert, and since baking is one of my favorite pastimes, it was a joy. I know the photos in my slide show are going to make Ruth homesick for her brother and his family, since she's so far away, but at least she can see their sweet smiles and share vicariously in a wonderful evening.

I have to say, we always have such a wonderful time when we get together with Matt's family. Their good people who always make me think of the expression "salt of the earth." It was a perfect meal, a perfect night, and they even sent us home with some leftovers. It doesn't get better than that.

Near the end of the evening, the twins must have decided that if the put their coats on, they'd get taken somewhere. They looked really cute, and didn't seem to mind that no outing followed their getting "snow ready."

The only other thing I should add is that I made pecan tarts and a pumpkin pie in a pecan crust, and will be putting both recipes up here within the next few days. Right now I've been cleaning and organizing cupboards. (You could come and help. I'll bake for you...)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Writer's Retreat and Snowfall

The November writer's retreat put on by the Northern Colorado Writer's group was small but powerful. We took up two cottages at the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, about nine miles from our home. A writer's retreat is different from a conference. You don't sit through how-to lectures and workshops as you would in a conference.

Each person goes to a quiet, private spot and writes. There are times for discussion and helping each other, popcorn and movie night, meals together and such, but the primary focus is on writing. Well, I was editing, but it amounts to the same thing, although I've found that writing is MUCH EASIER than editing!

I was delighted with our time there and the wonderful and focused women of the group. The grounds were beautiful as well, but never more so than after the snow began to fall. I ended up having a couple of hikes through the snow with my cameras while working through ways to handle advice I didn't want to follow on my manuscript edits. (Sometimes it's almost impossible to tell good advice from bad, especially on your first book.) When I have to think things through, I walk, and if it's snowing—I walk in beauty. Here's the proof.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saying Goodbye, Returning Home

How can we stand to say goodbye to our children and grandchildren when the visits are so sweet and too infrequent? I've often said that I'm easier to love when I don't live too close. Is it really a joke? Probably not. Like most people, I have more than my share of quirks. Our visits might be short, but they're poignant and blessed, and saying goodbye is always hard.

We worked hard to give them wings, and although we still worry at times and keep them close in prayer and phone calls, some days the miles seem endless. So how exactly can we handle the goodbyes? The last few photos of this slide show pretty much say it all. When you see what we come home to after a visit, you'll understand our contentment with home and hearth. Our roots have been transplanted deeply into this good Colorado soil, and the foothills welcome us home with the deer and the sunsets. I wouldn't choose to live anywhere else.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Missing Those Little Girls

Today I called Ruth in Holland and I'm embarrassed to admit that I hardly said hello before I asked if Ashley was still awake and could I please talk to her... She laughed and put her on the phone, so I figure she probably understands that sometimes a grandma just needs to talk to one of her little girls.

We didn't talk for too long, but it was really great. I could hear Kate singing in the background, and Ashley let me know her little sister was learning to sing really good. Since Kate sings so amazingly for someone who won't be three until December, I imagine they'll be singing duets before too long. When I told her we've got snow on the ground and that the deer were really enjoying their new winter coats, she wanted to come here immediately to see them. (What's a few thousand miles to a two year old?)

I was glad to plant the seeds in her mind that Grandpa and I could babysit on the ship one day while we send her mama and dad off to explore for a few hours. (We're going on a cruise in May with them, from Venice down the coast to Athens and back, then flying back to Amsterdam—more on that later.) She said that sounded like lots of fun. It does to us, too.

Seeing Kate and Ashley in California was wonderful. I still have more photos to share, but here's the trip to the zoo. It was a big day for all of us, really special and memorable. Working on this slide show made me laugh and cry, just going over the memories by myself. I love those girls, and I'm so grateful they've been blessed with the parents they have. Ben and Ruth, you do such a fine job together.


Obviously I don't have time to redesign my blog, but that's what I want to do. Originally, I just wanted to change the map. It's not that simple. The map won't go on the right, where it belongs. Maybe it would go there for someone else—someone who knew how to make it right justify. That person wouldn't be me. I guess I'll end up redesigning the entire blog to go with the new map.

But don't you love the map? It shows the last 1000 visitors, and you're the red dot... I love it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mojave Desert to Lake Isabella

Whenever we go through the Mojave Desert, headed toward Lake Isabella, as we did on our recent trip to California, something happens to my husband's driving. He reverts to his teenage years, straightening the road and becoming a lead foot. The only way I can slow him down is by frequently requesting stops to take photos.

Needless to say, I have MANY photos of these sections of road. Here's a slide show of our most recent trip through the area, a combination of shots taken over a couple of days heading in and out of Lake Isabella. You'll see the Mojave Desert, Lake Isabella and the Kern River.

Now that I've returned from my writing retreat, I'm back on track with making my slide shows for the blog, and need to get California out of the way, since I came back from the retreat with about 300 photos of the ranch where the retreat was held. We got about a foot of snow there this weekend, and it was beautiful. (I finally killed my old boots walking around with my cameras. They went right in the trash when I walked in the door at home.) The new photos have got to wait until I finish the California photos, so here's Mojave to Lake Isabella, in and out. Actually, that's the best way to see it: in and out.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Arguing With Idiots

This is so cool. It's one of the top ten finalists in Glenn Beck's new Arguing With Idiots contest. It's my pick to win. It gets one vote for each time it gets watched, so I'm posting it here. Enjoy.

Upload Problems

For some reason my slide show refused to upload last night. I gave up at 3:00 a.m., and went to bed. I'm trying again on a different browser this morning, and I'll have it up as soon as I can. I don't know what the problem is. According to the blogger help center, if it won't download, I should do several things, and I'm doing them in order.

#1, re-save the video (done).
#2, make sure pop-up blockers are turned off (done).
#3, attempt download with another browser (in process).

That's where I'm at now. Stay tuned, folks.


Finally got it to download, but (of course) there was the little problem of it having been written before this, so it downloaded as an earlier blog, so look below instead of above. I wasn't about to copy and paste into a new blog and hope that it would actually download again. I'll stick to them being in the wrong order instead.

- Kathleen

Sunday, November 8, 2009

On the Road (Why We Drive)

We might take the same route dozens of times, but each is a unique trip. The weather changes, the clouds, sky and shadows vary, and the view from the windows is always more interesting than you could ever see from miles up in an airplane. Obviously, we don't drive to Europe, but even cross-country, we like to take road trips whenever possible.

This is the first of my series on our latest trip to California. I'll probably do it as the trip out, the time there, and the trip back.

On the trip out, we didn't hit much falling snow, but did see some on the mountains around us. The aspens were glorious going across the Rocky Mountains, and there was some ice along the edges of the Colorado River in places. Colors seemed exceptionally vibrant, and clouds added so much interest to the sky that I had a hard time restraining myself from constantly asking John to pull over so I could take more photos. I did take quite a few from the moving car.

By the time we got to California, where Calico Ghost Town is located in the Mojave Desert, we had gone from Winter to Summer, 40 degree temperatures to 90s. I was not amused, but I had expected it. We stopped at the ghost town anyway. I'll admit it's not as great as it was when I was a kid. The best thing there, the "haunted shack," now sports an extra two dollar charge. We took a pass on that and just walked around. The only thing we bought there was a single serving cone for each of us. Those cost us $3.50 each plus tax, so I strongly recommend you eat elsewhere. (They didn't even have chocolate chip!) Entry fee to the park was only $6 each, though, so it wasn't very expensive. I still find the old buildings fascinating.

In the parking lot at the end of our visit to Calico, I was taking a photo of somebody's strange vehicle when they approached to get in and I got to find out a little about their car. It was a Mercedes Unimog. It's... interesting in appearance. I asked the man what kind of gas mileage he got, and he said (this is pretty close to an exact quote), "About eight to ten miles per gallon, but a lot of people take pictures of it." I keep wondering if he felt he should charge them for the photos. He didn't sound particularly pleased, as I stood there with my camera.

Sometimes the best part of a trip is being on the road. When we go to California, the best part of the trip is the people we'll see at the other end. Hopefully that section will be online tomorrow night. For tonight, here's the video slide show.

Okay, so I started from scratch about five a.m., and worked for six and a half hours, since that wasn't the first thing I tried. But I finally did make a somewhat shorter video, about 25% smaller, and for some reason that one eventually loaded. I really don't understand the problem, since the one that refused to load was smaller than some of the other videos I've loaded in the last couple of months. Well, life sometimes can be frustrating.

I changed music, since this was a different length, and got to share one of my favorite guitar artists, Marcel Dadi, playing an original composition, three of his songs put together. It's "Marcel's Rag - Egged Bus Rag - Old Black Piano." He was, tragically, on Flight 800 in 1996 when it crashed en route from NY to Paris. We'll get no new music from this marvelous talent, but he left behind quite a legacy—and all of it can be found in tablature at Mel Bay music books.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Slideshow Promises and Ringling 5 News

I'll begin with an apology for ignoring my blog for so long. I have no excuse, really. Well, perhaps I do, but none I want to share. I now have my cameras downloaded, though, after the California trip, and I'm working on the first slide show. It should be up by tomorrow, showing at least our trip out to the coast, and possibly more.

Meanwhile, here's some really exciting (at least to me) news. If you know me, you realize that music is a huge part of my life. I've been collecting strange music all my life, thanks to a dad who sang pretty weird stuff along with some really fabulous music.

About eight or ten years ago, and that's a big guess since I have a leaky memory where time is concerned, our pastor went to his wife's hometown in Montana. Her uncle, a rodeo cowboy, had broken his neck, though I'm not sure when it happened. They were at his home visiting when The Ringling 5 came to play. Pastor Stan and his wife Ellen immediately realized that this was my kind of music, much of it with offbeat humor, and proceeded to bring me back one of each of their CDs. I've been a huge fan ever since.

This week I got a real kick when one of them, Don S., signed into my web site's guest book. He's the one who also plays accordion and guitar, according to their web site, which matches the two instruments I play. Someone had told him about the good things I've written about their group in several of my blogs. He also let me know they had a newer album out, Faithful Sinners, that I don't have yet. I'll let you know when it arrives... I'm really excited about that. It's Gospel music!

Okay, I'm a little star struck. They're not only really funny, but their lyrics show a profound ability to look deeply into what matters in life. Just think about Grandpa's Barn, and you'll end up saying Ya, sure, you betcha.