Sunday, December 30, 2012

How Low Can You Go?

We had an uneventful driving day. Look where we ended today's trip; one can't get much further south than this! Our plan was to get down here to escape snowstorms,  hazardous travel and freezing temperatures.


Wrong!
(That word seems to plague me!)

The weatherman says we will get rain, snow, rain and more snow, and the thermometer is supposed to dip to 28. So far that old rascal is correct. It drizzled a bit when we pulled in, and it is now raining in ernest. We wanted to avoid the cold temperatures so we could un-winterize the RV and have running water!

Early morning south of Albuquerque. 
We loved the haze by the mountains, 
probably caused by wind-driven sand.

Most of the terrain heading south was very flat.
However, several times we came upon large, steep arroyos.
Do you see where we are headed?

 The deep gullies had warnings about high winds,
complete with wind socks.

 Juarez, Mexico, as viewed from El Paso, TX.

We had to stop at the Border Patrol checkpoint outside of El Paso. 
Even though we could have ferried quite a few people in the motorhome, 
we were waved right through. 

The dogs spent most of the ride on their beds. Gypsy hasn't figured out how to jump onto her bed, since the floor is slippery and the space is cramped. I need to lift her up, something she doesn't particularly care for. She stays on the bed regardless of what is going on. Even when we stop at a rest area, she will remain on the bed until I get her leash. Tucker, however, jumps onto my seat so that he can have an unobstructed view outside the RV. The rascal knows he's not supposed to be on the seat, and will immediately jump off when he sees me coming!





Saturday, December 29, 2012

Flying the Dogs

I just got back from flying walking the dogs. We went out for their 'just before bed' potty walk. When there aren't many people or pets around, I let the dogs walk at the end of their extendable leashes. I sometimes feel like I am trying to control trick kites, as the dogs go this way and that, and cross one leash over the other, while I try to juggle the leash handles and keep them untangled. I probably provide great entertainment for other folks in the campground!

This morning we got an early start. I guess we were both excited, or maybe anxious, about our trip and we were out of bed before daylight, taking last minute loads out to the RV.

The morning sky was mesmerizing.

Mr. Dreamy climbed into the pilot's seat to start the RV so it could warm up a bit, before we were on our way. Houston, we seem to have a problem! There was a warning light showing on our dash

This light was telling us that the particulate exhaust filter was clogged. More research ensued. Mr. Dreamy checked the Freightliner manual. Mr. Dreamy checked the Cummings diesel manual, and I'm sure he checked several other books that were part of the pile of manuals we received when we purchased the RV. Mr. Dreamy called the manufacturer... they were closed for the holiday. Mr. Dreamy called the local RV dealer, no one was in their service department. Mr. Dreamy called another RV dealer...same story. I called an RV dealer and left a message - my call was not returned. We called our RV version of AAA road side assistance to see if we could get driveway assistance. Arghhh! 
Finally Mr. Dreamy put all of the pieces together and finally discovered the shorting switch that would tell the engine to perform a regeneration. It worked! So, only an hour later than our original 'no later than' departure time we pulled out of the driveway. 


The dogs were told, "No, you may not get on the couch, but you may be on your beds." 
They seemed quite happy to travel this way.

Tucker would come up to supervise our progress now and then. I think he wanted to make sure that Mr. Dreamy was heading the right way!


We had hoped to make it to Albuquerque, but settled for Santa Fe, just as the sun was setting.


All in all, it was a good day!


Wrong Way....Again

We have spent the day packing and running out to get odds and ends. I have made trip after trip out to the RV with clothes, food, books and other stuff. We have capitulated and I 'made' the couch up for Gypsy and Tucker. I covered it with a fitted sheet to capture all some of their dog hair. Son #2 picked up a new dog bed for Gypsy last night. The beds will go on the couch while we are en route, and then they'll find a place on the floor. Gypsy's bed is too much.... it came with a pillow for the princess - is that silly stupid or what?

We are taking off tomorrow for our trip to the southeast. We are heading to the Jacksonville, FL to visit Mr. Dreamy's family. But.... we are going the wrong way!


Because of freezing conditions, and possible snowstorms en route, Mr. Dreamy has decided he would rather drive straight south. The road goes from here to Albuquerque... which is slightly west of us, before we head further south and then go east. I'm confused! It's the wrong way!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wrong Way

Have you ever gone the wrong way?

One time I went on a day trip with my brother. He happily took off, having it in his mind where we were going. About half way there, after about an hour of travel, he realized he was thinking of the wrong place. We had to turn around, retrace our steps, and then head to the correct destination. (And, do you think I've ever let my 'big' brother forget about his foible?!)


In 1938 a flyer became famous for going the wrong way. Douglas Corrigan wanted to fly across the Atlantic, but was denied permission to do so. He was told he could make an attempt at a nonstop trip from New York to California, instead. Corrigan prepared for his flight. He filed the flight plan to California. He carried a map of the United States, and a few candy bars. Corrigan took off early in the morning, entering a fog bank, and maintained an easterly direction until he landed in Ireland. He claimed he had become confused in the fog and had flown the wrong way. Americans fell in love with "Wrong Way". They liked his reckless abandon and his manner of dealing with government edicts.

 "Wrong Way's" Plane

I learned that my grandfather had met "Wrong Way" in Buffalo, NY. My grandfather was on the advisory board for the Buffalo airport for many years. He was a visionary,  recognizing that air travel was the way of the future and more space needed to be set aside for larger landing strips and airport buildings. My grandfather included these pictures in his journal

This is my grandfather addressing the crowd at a reception for "Wrong Way".  So, why isn't anyone paying attention to what he is saying?! They are all facing the wrong way!

Here is "Wrong Way" Corrigan, with the key to the city.
Yes, America loves the 'bad boy'!


A Tale of Two Trees

Did you think I was going to talk about my Christmas trees again? Nope, I am going to talk about some pines, but they aren't relegated to the Christmas tree stand, yet!

Recently I visited my old neighborhood. I took a picture of a few trees that we planted on the corner of our lot several years ago. I was astonished at the changes...



Tree #1 and Tree #2 are both Austrian Pines. Tree #1 has less mass than its neighbor, and it is shorter, but, here are some interesting details about the trees:

Tree #1
Planted fall of 2007
Height at planting: 8-10 inches
Caliper at planting: 1/4"
Cost: $3.00

Tree #2
Planted summer of 2008
Height at planting: 5 feet
Caliper at planting: 2-3" 
Cost: $125.00

These trees are perfect examples of what I learned from the tree expert in the Master Gardener class. He told us that in Colorado, where life is a challenge for many plants, it takes one year for every inch of the caliper (diameter) of the trunk at planting for a tree to get established. Once it gets established the tree can put all of its energies into doing what a tree does; adding height and increasing the trunk size. 

Our tiny tree got established within a year and then capitalized on its root system to put the sunlight and water to work to enable it to grow taller and build a bigger trunk. I think it is between 5 and 6 feet in height now. The larger tree took at least two years to get established before it could demonstrate any substantial growth, and it's growth has been slower than that of the smaller tree. It has put on about two feet in height. Like children, the bigger tree will always be bigger than its counterpart, but the tiny twig we planted has certainly shown remarkable growth in a short period of time, and has been working hard at catching up.

I found this fascinating when I took the class, and it was even more interesting to see it with my own eyes. I did get more for my money with the little twig of a tree, however, the catch is that one has to live on the property long enough to appreciate the transformation!



Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Post Holiday Blues

Post holiday blues...

The children are heading to their homes.
The decorations? Coming down.
The presents, no longer mysterious
treasures under a tree,
are put away where none can see.
What used to be a marvelous meal
is now worn out and tired leftovers.
But...
At least someone is happy!




Greetings

Food

Festivity
s
Family

More Food

Fun

Forty Winks

Merry Christmas
from our house...
to your's















Sunday, December 23, 2012

'Twas the Day Before Christmas

‘Twas the day before Christmas and I checked my list,
I wanted to make certain there was nothing I’d missed.
Monday evening will be Church then a Swedish smorgasbord.
My family is here and I need to feed the hungry hoard.
I have cheese and crackers for starters, and a baked Brie.
We’ll munch and we’ll talk as we gather ‘round the tree.
There will be herring, two ways, and some fresh shrimp, too,
(Well, as fresh as the markets in Colorado can do.)
I’ll make deviled eggs, Mr. Dreamy says, “Delish”
But I have to admit I don’t particularly care for that dish.
Then we’ll move on to cold meats and a selection of breads
With mayonnaise and mustard and lingonberry spread.
Next come the warm foods, spread out on the buffet
Swedish meatballs, potatoes, and a sausage-onion bake.
Finally we’ll enjoy cookies, apple pie and some treats,
With coffee, and egg nog, and sweet after-dinner drinks.
We’ll open our gifts, one by one so we can see
What everyone’s given to each other, and what's under the tree. 
I hope that each kid gets all that he wishes
I’ll try to ignore the mess and the stacks of dirty dishes.
They’ll have to wait. They won’t go away. 
It’ll be time for bed, as it’s almost Christmas Day.
The stockings are hung on their new stocking hooks
I’ll fill them later when no one can look. 
I think that I’m ready. I think it’s just right.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all happy sights!


Photo by Number One Son
Nikon D90 - Nikkor 50mm f1.4G - Adobe Lightroom 4.2 - 

DxO Optics Pro 8 - Adobe Photoshop CS6
Tucker, I don't care what you say,
just because the hats have points on them
it doesn't mean we are supposed to 
wear them on our noses!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas in Connecticut - 1958

We lived in Connecticut for one year when I was young. My dad was working in New York City and commuted from our home. Our 'home' was actually a barn! So, I guess, if we ever left the door open and my mother inquired, "Were you raised in a barn?" we could honestly answer, "Yes!"

I loved the barn. It had been converted into a home by my great aunt. As I recall the rooms were spacious - probably because I was so much smaller then! There were balconies both inside and outside. There was one that looked over the living room. That is where our TV was located and we children would delight in throwing things down into the living room... like the poor, suffering hamster who would take trips down onto the feather pillowed chair! He survived. We claimed that he liked flying!

I unearthed some pictures of Christmas at the barn:


In the foreground, my brother and dad check out the Ballistic Missile my brother received. I remember this toy. The missile was launched with water pressure created by pumping the handle of the launcher. The coffee table just beyond my brother graces my living room today! Aunt Lynn, Grandma Ogren and my mother are looking on from the couch. It seems strange to see my grandmother smoking. I recall that the silver piece on the corner of the coffee table nearest my mother was used to hold cigarettes for formal gatherings. They were put out on the table just as dinner mints would be offered! Oh, and my mother did have two legs! She just liked sitting with one leg cocked under her... something I still do. Those shoes of mom's must have been uncomfortable! And look at that bottle of booze - I'm betting that was a gift for my father - even then people didn't know what to get the man!


This is my mother. She sure looks young! 
But then again, doing the math, she was 36 years old.


My sister opening a gift. 
She is 11 years old in this picture.
I'm wondering if the watch she is wearing was a gift.
The chair she is sitting in now resides in my kitchen.
and the ladderback chair to her right is in our bedroom!
The wall behind my sister is the wall of the telephone room.
When the barn was made into a home my great aunt
had a small room, probably 4' X 6', set up for the phone.
I remember talking on the phone in this room. 
There was a built-in shelf for taking messages,
and a small window for light.


And.... 
here is Dreaming as a little girl.
I am opening a small china tea set
while my paternal grandmother looks on.




Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas: Then and Now

Christmas, 1989
The children experience
a rare snow in Bluffton, SC.


Christmas,  2012
The "children" sledding in the pasture.


I think I should photoshop a bit more snow in the picture and
use this as a Christmas card!

We received 2-3" of snow. We had a few drifts that were close to 10" in height.
Even Dreaming took a turn or two going down the hill!

.... dodging the occasional pile of... obstacle!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Universal Habits

Pippin has a thing about halters and bridles. 

He likes the challenge of taking them off!
Isn't he cute?


Shyloh seems to have the same habit.

She can be found on Adventures with Shyloh.


Randy also works at shedding his halter or bridle.

That's his bridle hanging from the nose band of his halter. Randy is the Haffie at the therapeutic riding program where I volunteer. A friend of mine was tacking Randy up the other day. She stepped out of the stall, and returned to find Randy, looking just a bit miffed that he hadn't been able to escape. Or, perhaps Randy is saying, "I have no idea how my bridle ended up this way!"

I guess it is just a universal Haffie habit!
























Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Working my Fingers to the Bone

I am in the middle of the Christmas crush... er, I mean rush! I have been Christmas shopping. Son One posts a wish list on Amazon. I can scroll down the list, click on items to get more information, and buy them through my Amazon account. Too easy! Son Two sent us an email with his wish list - with hyperlinks to the web page with the item on it, only 1 click away from purchase! How convenient, right?! But, I like to buy local. I like to touch things and feel the weight of the item. I really don't care for cyber shopping - but, I have to admit that not only is it easy and convenient - it saves gas and the selection is so much greater!

For example, yesterday I went on a quest for stocking hangers. Currently the stockings are hung by the chimney with... paperclips! As we have never celebrated Christmas in Colorado, we have never had the need to hang stockings. Our fireplace mantle is rock. I need hangers! The paperclips can barely hold the stockings, let alone any gifts brought from Santa! So I stopped in:
 a local Christmas shop - they didn't have any!
Target - they had two of each style. I need three.
a Big Box garden shop - zip - zero
a craft/decor store - none that match my style
the thrift shop - they had three, but they were all very different
a local florist/gift shop - none
a discount shop - none

So, what's a gal to do? After dinner I sat down with my computer, pulled up Amazon, searched for 'Stocking Hangars' and found dozens... and dozens... any of which could be delivered to my house by the 20th - or faster if I wanted expedited shipping. 


So, the hangars are on their way, to be delivered by the UPS sleigh.

Today I'm heading out for a bit more shopping. I need some cute little things to put in the stockings, and I need to begin to get food for our Christmas Eve Swedish smorgasbord! I guess I could order food from the Internet... but most likely doing the bulk of my food shopping that way isn't going to happen... at least not this year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

And the Winner Is....

And the winner is....me!  I have new followers because of the giveaway I posted for Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil. Thank you all for taking a minute to read my blog and leave a comment.

Thank you:
AB Smitb
AnnaGlow 27
Fundy Blue
Debbie Neal
Kylie C
Beth Elderton
Kristen
and a few friends who wish to remain anonymous!
To find out more about the new followers, you can click on their icons on the sidebar

But, I suppose you all want to know who won the free Coconut Oil? Tucker didn't want to draw a name out of the Santa hat. He said it was nigh impossible to get his snout down into the tip of the hat and open his mouth. I resorted to a free random number generator available at Math Goodies. I assigned numbers to each eligible entry in the order they were received. And the winner is....

Drum roll please....



The winner is female.

She writes a blog.

She has a family.

She often writes about her family.

In fact, her blog is called, 

Kristen is the winner.
Congratulations!

Please contact me with your address so I can pass it on to Tropical Traditions. I wanted to let you know that I have continued to experiment with the coconut oil. This weekend I made French toast coated in Panko bread crumbs. I cooked it in the coconut oil. The French toast received raves from everyone!

Kristen, you can email me at:

iteach at cpride dot net



Sunday, December 16, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree


Our Christmas tree, our Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches.
We put you up 10 days ago;
The LED lights provide a cool glow.
My Christmas tree, my Christmas tree,
Why did you have to die on me?
Your needles drop and branches crack,
The thought of fire, gives me a heart attack!
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree,
Take off the ornaments and out with thee!

We really did take our tree down today. It was so very pretty, but had dried out so badly that we really were concerned. We have never had a tree dry out so completely, so quickly. This will be our first Christmas that we will celebrate in our home since we moved to Colorado. We must have a tree, and decided we didn't want to bring out the artificial tree. So, Mr. Dreamy and I went out to buy another tree. We dropped by the big box store where we bought our first tree, a Grand fir. I only took the one picture of the tree, and it really doesn't show how beautiful it was, and since this isn't a 'smell-a-blog' you can't even begin to imagine how lovely it smelled. As we walked in the garden area an employee commented that every tree was $5.00. With just a hint of sarcasm, I asked if that was because the trees would only stay green for 10 days. He looked at me a bit strangely, so I proceeded to tell him about the fate of our previous purchase. He apologized and agreed that the trees were not in the best of shape, even when they first arrived at the store. One of the customers commented that he had been looking at trees at other tree lots, and most seemed to be in rough shape. He heard that because the weather hadn't turned cold, trees had not gone into their 'winter mode' before being cut and for that reason they were not lasting as long. There were a lot of Grand fir trees, but they were also quite dry. We found a few nicely shaped small Fraser Firs and decided that having already purchased one tree, a smaller $5.00 tree would be just fine. As another employee cut the trunk and wrapped the tree, he heard about the fate of our other tree. He gave us the tree for free.


Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree,
I hope you last, I don't want three!


No room at the inn... er, on the tree.
I will have to pack up some extra ornaments tomorrow.

Have you experienced a tree disaster?





Friday, December 14, 2012

Red Letter Day

Our baby graduated from college today. I didn't get any decent pictures and that smart you-know-what took his cap and gown off before we could find him after the ceremony. He did wave at me, and I caught it in this shot:


Now the job hunt begins in earnest! 
Anyone need a mechanical engineer? 


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lollipop, Lollipop, Oh Lolli, Lollipop

I made lollipops! 
I made more lollipops.
I am tired of making lollipops...


I was invited to a cookie exchange. We are each to bring packages containing a half-dozen treats. There will be 16 people at the exchange, so I need to put together 15 packages. When the topic came up I thought about the lollipop mold that I have. My mom gave it to me about 15 years ago. It is great fun. After creating the sugar candy solution you simply pour it into the molds, put in some lollipop sticks, wait a few minutes, separate the molds and voila... you have lollipops.


Well..... there is the batch that I didn't cook long enough, and the lollipops stuck to the molds and wanted to be made into taffy. There is the batch that I cooked too quickly, and the sugar burnt. There are countless lollipops where the candy solution solidified too quickly, and the mold didn't fill completely. Then, there are the little shards of candy that I have to chip off the bottom of the candy if I overfilled the mold... and those shards always seem to find the floor.

Oh, yes, that is a bottle of whine(sic) in the picture!
I like cooking with wine,
Sometimes I even put it in the food!
(But not in lollipops!)

It takes 30 minutes to cook the sugar solution. It takes at least another 15 minutes to pour the solution into the molds, put in lollipop sticks, put the pan into the sink to soak, separate the molds and take out the lollipops. During that time I can put the ingredients for another batch into a clean pan. Once I have the lollipops out, I can then begin cooking the next batch, stirring all of the time until the sugar has dissolved. Once that happens, I can leave the solution to cook while I put the lollipops in little bags and clean the pan, often checking the candy thermometer, which does not accurately read the real temperature of the solution, but gives me a ball-park figure to go by. Then, I have to test to see if it has gotten to the "hard ball" stage.


OK, so here is a math problem for you:

With the time frame listed above, how long will it take to make 90 lollipops to give 6 to each of 15 guests? The molds can make 8 lollipops with each batch, but half the time only 6 candies are acceptable. Oh, and I dropped and broke some lollipops. Some are red and green and some have no coloring at all. Dreaming never wants to stir another batch of sugar for candies!

... until next year!

The answer to the math question? It takes too darn long! That's how long it takes!






Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch: Ornamental

Brrrr, I wouldn't want to be on our porch chatting today. It is cold and we have a bit of snow! Hooray. However, we need a lot more snow to do anything about our drought.

So, the questions for the chat are listed below. You can join the chat too, by responding in a comment or by posting on your blog and linking to Patrice's Everyday Rurality blog. To read other responses, visit Patrice by clicking on the image for Farmhouse Chats, below.

  1. What's your favorite ornament on your tree? If you have no Christmas tree, please tell me about something pretty in your home that you enjoy.
  2. What do you do when a telemarketer calls?
  3. What was the last kind of candy you had? Admit it- you had one tiny little bite. We understand:)
  4. Do you send out Christmas cards? If not applicable- do you use snail mail?
  5. Please finish this. I sometimes wonder___________________________.
Here are my answers:

1. There is no way that I can pick just one ornament as a favorite. So, here are a few of my favorites

This was given to us on our first Christmas as a married couple. My next-door neighbor gave it to me so I would always have a nest in my tree that would bring us good luck. This nest has been on every tree for 40 years!

I went to Michigan to visit my best friend several years ago. We had an overnight in Frankenmuth, where they have a huge Christmas shop. I bought so much that I was given the spiderweb ornament on the left. I actually explained about the ornament in a Chats on the Farmhouse Porch post last year!
The shell ornament was given to me by my dad quite a few years ago. He rarely picked out gifts, letting my mother do the shopping. However, this is one he picked out... and wrapped... by himself!

I am so proud of my son... he will be graduating from The School of Mines on Friday! I love that he gave me a school ornament a few years ago!

2. I do not care for telemarketers. I feel they are infringing on my privacy by calling and interrupting whatever I am doing. When they call I tell them I never buy anything over the phone, or never donate anything based on a phone call, but would be happy to look over information they send me by email or snail mail. They never want to send anything, so I thank them and hang up.

3. I am laughing about the candy question, as I was going to post about making candy. I have two lovely hard candy molds. I am going to a cookie exchange party later this week, and will be taking 'vintage candy toy' lollipops. I made 4 batches last night and 12 today, including the one I had to throw away because I took the thermometer's word on the temperature of the sugar solution, and it never hardened. I only need to make 2 more batches - but I need to make a run to the store to get more sticks, baggies and corn syrup. Anyway, I tasted more than my share of scraps from the candy!


4. I have not sent out Christmas cards this year. Many years I wait until after the holiday, and then send a "New Year's Note" along with a card. I am currently operating on the 'do one thing at a time' mode, so I'm not sure whether I will do a note, or not. 

5. Finish this sentence: I sometimes wonder how my boys turned out to be such wonderful young men. If I could figure out what facets of life made them who they are, then I could write a book and help other parents with their own children.

Everyday Ruralty