Sunday, December 29, 2013

Seems like we are further south

We did not venture to Phoenix for the KSU bowl game, although they are winning and it is a good game. 

We did venture out to Lake Shawnee this morning.  The number of water fowl there is staggering.  The video doesn’t show the number moving in from the sky.  We suspect at least some of them come our way to eat.  We see them moving up and down the valley.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

We visited the southern Indiana destination of West Baden Springs during the Christmas season several years ago.  It is a historical location and worth a stop and tour, especially in December. 

The Christmas tree in the dome room is beautiful, as is the room itself.   During the early 1900s this room was the largest free standing dome room in the world.  It is breathtaking.

The Christmas tree was positioned in the middle of the room.  As if by chance, but probably planned,  the natural sunlight shone in and landed on the only part of the tree where Angels were positioned.IMG_4599-1 

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Blessings to all!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Decorating cookies & school programs

Are there any two activities that define Christmas more in our memories of times past?  Grandma and I made cut out cookies and decorated, as did Mom and I and my own kids.  Here is our 2013 decorating party.  All three grandkids were there, but Evan hung in there the longest.

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School programs were definitely the highlight of the winter for Dan and I at our one-room Acker school.  We would memorize poems and little ditties.  The whole community would come to watch.  We received a sack of hard candy and an orange afterward.  img118

We attended Adam and Evan’s Tecumseh North Christmas program last Friday.  The orchestra members played  Christmas carols.  Then they showed a little movie about the school and the students.  It was well done.  Finally, Santa came and handed out sacks to each student.  I need to ask the grandkids, but it looked like there was hard candy and a orange in each one.  At 1st grade, Evan was excited.  At 6th grade, Adam had fun with it all.

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I love this time of year!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ice, Snow and Solstice

The first significant snow of the season lived up to it’s forecast.  Unofficially,  I would say we received four to five inches.  It was beautiful this morning, although a little dangerous to walk around because of the sheet of ice underneath.  Our new gravel gave us all the traction we needed—perfect timing getting that done.

I am excited because the days getting longer.  Because of the tilt of the earth and other scientific situations I don’t understand, the days are already longer at night even though sunrise is later in the morning.   Here are the sunrise and sunset times in December/early January.  Actually, the earliest sunset was December 1st and the latest sunrise will be January 1st. 

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The sun finally peeked out late this afternoon.  Around sunset I slipped (literally) out to take a picture. 

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While I had the camera on the tripod, I snapped this picture of our tree—complete with a bear watching over it.  (Christmas gift from Colorado family about 10 years ago)

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I am compiling a “things to do” list for tomorrow.  High on it is to wrap gifts, make peanut brittle, and clean the house.  I already received my Christmas gift from Dan.  I plan on using it tomorrow—will report how it works.

Meanwhile, here is a little cartoon I picked up somewhere that made me smile, and I hope it does you as well.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Long past due

 

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The possibility of snow seems to be greater each time I see a weather report. 

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Unless there is so much snow that we can’t get out, we usually don’t scrape snow from our driveway.  Unless the blade is held up,  scraping tends to take off gravel as well as snow.  But, the problem with leaving snow is when it melts it can be a mess on the driveway. 

Our driveway is now covered with five loads of gravel!  Just in time for the snow.   Thanks to our kind neighbor, we were able to use a dump truck and carry the rock ourselves.  Still, there is over $500 in gravel—money well spent. 

Exciting—bring on the snow!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Find the hidden treasure

I’ll admit up front that I came up with this headline to draw you in.  Who wouldn’t want a hidden treasure this time of year. (I almost typed “treasurer” because I paid our taxes today)

Dan and I came up with a sure fire combination of numbers for the lottery.  They involve family members’ birthdays.  We bought one ticket for the last drawing as insurance and not one of our “magic” numbers matched.  If we are in town, we’ll probably buy another for this huge jackpot.  By the way, why don’t they draw a bunch of number combinations to split the money and give everyone a little cut.

About that treasure…here is the picture. I think this is a butterfly plant.  Chip gave it to me after the Monarch Watch plant sale. It was so pretty that I brought it in last fall.  It continues to bloom in this south window.

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  See the treasure?  Here’s another hint.

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How did that tomato plant get in there?  This plant was no where near the tomatoes.  A bird must have left the seed.  Or, maybe it was in the dirt used to pot the plant.  Anyway, an interesting discovery to be watched closely.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Feeling like a road trip

At this point, feeling and doing is definitely two different things.  As I write this, there is ice on the porch, which means ice on the roads.  There would be no way we would back the van out of the garage.

Saturday morning is when the RV Travel newsletter is published—always a must read.  It takes time because there are interesting videos and links to follow as well.  I also follow the Gypsy Journal which also has a wealth of information about travel.  While we have no intention of selling everything and living in our RV fulltime, it is fun to read about the adventures of those who do.

Then there are the more “professional” online magazines,  like Flipboard. I have it on my tablet so if I get bored with television, I can open a travel article and dream.  When you set it up, it gives options for preferred reading.  Check it out, very easy.

It was a travel article on Flipboard that lead me to a Readers Digest book entitled, “The Most Scenic Drives in America.”  We have a neighbor who sells books on the internet and sure enough, they had a used copy.  (I would post a link to their web site, but sadly, they are discontinuing their bookselling business—hard to compete with tablet readers, I guess.)  Anyway, this book is fantastic.  It is good for endless hours of dreams.

Christmas is around the corner and I certainly want to be with family for that joyous celebration.  Come January, though, who knows. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Cards

I’ve been busy assembling Christmas cards—that is actually making cards. 

Last year after Christmas, I found blank cards and envelopes marked down half price.  I put them away thinking I would use them for Christmas cards this year, which is what I am now doing.   It has turned out to be quite a project—an assembly line for Christmas cards.

This afternoon, Dan helped which really made a difference.  The paper cutter is enough like a miter saw that he made quick work of cutting little pieces of paper.  In no time at all, we had 25 cards completed and all the parts for 25 more. 

I haven’t written a duplicated note to include in the card.   I am now starting to address out-of-town friends that might enjoy something more than a few handwritten lines. However, this blog is about as detailed about our life.  And, most know how to find it.  I’ll see.

Right now I’m yawning and my eyes are drooping.  I’ll work on these cards tomorrow.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Eagles

Last week there were hunters loading a deer along the road.  The entire south part of the road, to the Wakarusa River, is Kansas Wildlife and Parks land.  They most likely got it there.  It is probable that they gutted the deer there as well.

Several hours later, as we were coming home, Dan spotted at least two eagles just south of where the hunters were loading the deer.  We watched them for a while and it seemed there were several young ones and maybe a pair of older ones. 

Here are a couple of pictures.  They aren’t great, but certainly can tell what they are.

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Thursday, December 05, 2013

What is this??

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It’s a clothespin bag.  It’s hard to see in the picture but it can be tied at the waist and there you go—clothespins right at your fingertips.  I wrote a post August 9, 2006, with a similar question.  In that post, I modeled the clothespin bag my Mom made for me. 

Our church is having a Christmas celebration where there is a silent auction on “baskets.”  My basket this year will be a laundry basket, retractable clothesline and this clothespin bag containing 100 clothespins. 

Taking my pattern off the one my Mom made for me, I used the legs off of Dan’s old jeans.  I removed the pockets and stitched them back on because, unlike in Mom’s day, we all need a pocket for the cell phone.  Had I had a choice,  red plaid flannel would have looked great, but all I had here at home was a flannel sheet that doesn’t have a mate. 

Who hangs out clothes anymore (except me)?  We’ll see.  I’ll let you know if it is a hit or miss at the silent auction.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Turkey again?

Yes, turkey again.

Dan is doing a little volunteer work with our friend Heath on the Clinton Museum, located near the town of Clinton at the lake.   Heath bought several turkeys on sale after Thanksgiving thinking he would smoke them.  He got busy so gave one to us. 

So, out came the roaster again today to bake another turkey.  Actually, the preparation started last night when I dropped the 14 pounder into an ice water brine and sat it out on the porch—our extended refrigerator.

This morning I rinsed and patted it dry with a paper towel and rubbed on butter.  Someone told me you can never get too much garlic, onion and  celery on a turkey.

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I added a couple carrots just to give a little flavor to the broth.  I grated the orange over the top.  The Tone’s Canadian Chicken spice,  has dried orange rind in it, along with dried garlic and onion.  I also added some Tone’s garlic pepper. 

Here’s the dressed up bird.

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He is baked, boned, bagged and in the freezer.  I just couldn’t get excited about turkey right now.  I have five (actually six, I just went out and checked)  1 1/2 pound plus bags and three containers of broth.  It’s a good feeling knowing I can come up with a great dinner at the spur of the moment.  Just let me know…

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Thanksgiving for little ones

Sunday afternoon Dan’s family gathered for their annual Thanksgiving.  What a joy to have tots to watch.  And, next year there will be two more!

Dan’s three brothers were here. Larry, Dan’s oldest brother is 74 years old and Paul, his youngest turned 65 this year.  It was a grand opportunity for a picture that did not happen.  I’m still kicking myself over that.

This picture makes up for not getting the brothers.  There is so much to love about this gathering of three families (Laura’s Ric is in Kuwait, due home in about two weeks).  Don’t miss the young couple off on the right.  Our first time to meet Cameron—a wonderful fit if things work out.

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If all the four brothers’ grandchildren would have been able to come, there would be 17 with two more soon and potentially more in the future.  It is hard to get everyone together at the same time, but it will be a grand Thanksgiving when we do.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Christmas Cactus blooms on Thanksgiving

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Drue said she has a friend who has a Christmas cactus blooming as well.  If I pick all the blooms off after it is finished, it will bloom again—at least mine did last year.

Aren’t they beautiful?  Especially on these cold days.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

2013 Thanksgiving Day

It doesn’t happen as often as I would like, so having all the family home and here for Thanksgiving is such a treat for me.

But before they came here for dinner, Kim, Marc and family hosted the 2013 Thanksgiving Turkey Trot and Plunge.

Here is everyone ready to take off for a trot.  It was about 8:15 am so not real warm.

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They weren’t gone long, maybe a mile or so.  Dan and I made sure the fire didn’t go out…..

This is the crazy part.  When they got back they all jumped in the lake!

More about Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

The picture tradition continues….

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Even after all these years, this picture still makes me laugh.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Moving for Monarchs

Last summer  New York City dancer, Gwynedd Vetter-Drusch,  visited our pasture.  I wrote about it here.

Here is the first part of her project.  Watch closely for the field of milkweed—around 1:54 in the video.  That is in our pasture. 

This is only the introduction.  They are trying to raise funds to continue the project.  I invite you to follow this link to read more about how to help.  And, if you scroll down far enough, you will see Dan and my name in the credits. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Big Boy, Righty and Lefty

We have a drama this morning behind our house.  Big Boy comes around each year.

Then, this fall we’ve noticed two other males, each with half a rack—one on the right and one on the left.  So, here are  pictures, none too clear.

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Lefty

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There’s also a doe nonchalantly eating while taking in the whole scene.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Home building adventure

It was a cold, rainy, icy day so I decided to scan a few negatives.  Sometimes it pays to be a pack rat.  Over the years, I never threw away the negatives from pictures.  How could I ever have guessed that in this digital age, scanning the negatives rather than developed pictures produces a much better copy.  My goal is to digitalize all pictures I’ve taken over the years.

The problem with the whole negative/scanning program is that I didn’t keep the negatives in any kind of order.  In fact many are just thrown into a box.  I can scan two strips at a time.  It is fun to see what pops up.

It was this random scanning that these two pictures came up.  I didn’t even know I had these pictures. 

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These pictures were taken 35 years ago when we built the house we live in now.  We sold our previous home, moved all our possessions into the metal barn next to the camper (the same barn we cleaned earlier in the week) and made our home in the two campers.  The fifth wheel belonged to my parents and the little one was ours.  We moved the third week of August and into the basement of the house around Thanksgiving. 

Obviously, the kids were OK with it all.  I found other pictures of them playing around the building site.  Actually, Doug fell into the basement before the house was framed.  Thankfully, he was not hurt. 

We did not heat the little camper the kids slept in for safety reasons.  They were under a big pile of blankets and in the morning they would come running over to the big camper where we had the furnace running.

The only utility we had when we first moved was electricity.  Our kind neighbors let us haul water from their outdoor spigot.  We ran down to Don’s Steak House—the only thing left from old Richland after it was abandoned for Clinton Lake—to use the telephone.  Not having a phone and trying to build a house was very inconvenient.  As I remember, the concrete trucks got lost.  When they finally put one in, it was in the barn with a loud outdoor ringer.    

I look at the whole event as one of our great family adventures.  I hope our kids do as well.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thrift Store Visit

This morning when we rolled out of bed with the sound of thunder and coffee perking, I thought it would be the excitement for the day.  My plans were to make the Thanksgiving menu and work on a sewing project I have in mind for Christmas presents.  Not entirely boring, but certainly not an adventure.

That’s when neighbor Peggy texted me wondering if I ever found out the name of the antique mall in Kansas City that I had heard was upscale.  Yes, I said.  It is the Mission Road Antique Mall.  Would I like to ride along to check it out?  Sure, I said.  Dan declined, sensing possible shopping.

The Mission Road Mall is indeed upscale.  It is well laid out, clean and from what I could tell from my limited knowledge of old stuff, full of legitimate antiques.  Thankfully, I had dressed up a little because there were people shopping there that looked fabulous ie worked out all morning, ate salad for lunch, then threw on a little leather and high heels and headed for the antique mall. 

Next we decided to check out Savers.  If you haven’t heard, this is a chain thrift store.  Now, I am feeling a little more in my element—still old stuff, but more in my price range and a nice store.  We probably were in there too long (didn’t get home until 6:30) but we both had a great time.  Of course, clothes shopping is always a long process in a thrift store because there are no two things alike.  But there were also books, movies, toys, purses—yes, purses!  Bunches of purses. 

I guess according to the link above, there is a little controversy about the non-profit business model of Savers.  As I understand—and, I might not have it right—they buy from other non profits making money off of the purchases.  That is profit made to the business and the donations are what is paid to the non profits that bring in used goods.  Still, it does seem like a service to me. 

What did I end up buying?  A purse, of course.  (It’s really a simple little cheap bag)  Also, 2 puzzles for the kids to put together Thanksgiving Day, a drawing book for any one who might want to look at it and a warm red sweater. 

Great day for me.  Dan worked at his projects so not so much for him.  But he did accomplish several things and he didn’t feel left out.  Especially when I showed him the pair of shoes Peggy and I almost bought for him.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sharing

Here is a confession—I am a lurker on Facebook.  If you are my friend, you will see some of my “likes” but I seldom post.  I do that here. 

Here are a couple things I thought I would share, though. 

First, how about a Christmas carol by shooting baskets…  Pretty impressive.

Second, a list of all the Christmas programs on television from now until Christmas!  I can’t believe there are so many.

Third, ever wonder what would happen if you blow bubbles outside when it is below freezing?  It sounds like they freeze like little plastic balls, but very fragile.  That picture will have to wait until I try it.

Finally, since I’m “sharing” here, I will tell you that we finally got the barn cleaned and everything we wanted to park in there, in there.  OK, winter, bring it on.  I want to blow some bubbles.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fall is slipping away

according to the forecast, that is.  It sounds like we will possibly have snow for the weekend.

It makes sense why we tend to do fall and spring cleaning.  It is all about the weather.  No one wants to be cleaning out a barn or garage in 100 degree heat or 20 degree cold.  These perfect 60 plus degree days are perfect.   So, that’s what we have been doing the past few days.  We might be pushing our time actually.

My brother, Wayne, has a birthday this week.  I don’t remember the year, but there was a huge snowstorm on his birthday when we were kids.  It does seem the snow storms were bigger 50 to 60 years ago—or maybe we were just smaller.

Back in the mail carrying days, I remember some really nasty Decembers.  So, maybe one more day of this nice weather?   We are ready for the cold—almost.  One more day in that barn is all we need.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Insurance

Our insurance man came by yesterday morning.  He wanted to go over our “Farm Policy.”  I don’t know how many acres it takes to have to carry a farm policy, but we must have the minimum. 

It was during this conversation that we learned our insurance for 2014 has raised $800.  We were shocked. 

Still, maybe it isn’t too surprising our insurance has increased.  Just the homes lost in the Colorado fires is staggering, let alone the east coast.  It seems there is one natural disaster after another. 

We told our guy to look around.  We’ve been with Allied.  We had one hail episode and that company was impressive with their speed and cutting a check. 

I know insurance is necessary, but it certainly takes a chunk out of our monthly income.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

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November 12, 2013

This is actually about November 9, 1970-- the day our first baby, Kimberly, was born.  A petite energetic girl.

Kim on her first day of school.  This is such a cute picture.  Since she was born on an even year, it isn’t hard to figure how old she was last Saturday.  This was taken at a house we built and sold two years after this picture was taken.

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Here is another picture of Kim—and the rest of us.  I had to put this one up too just so those who know our place can marvel how barren it looks in this picture. 

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This is a picture taken about the same place.  It is Kim and her family two years ago.  Growth, changes but still beautiful!

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Looks like a cold snowy winter

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This is a persimmon.  We have several trees, male and female.  They all like each other because we always have lots of fruit. (Seriously, there must be male and female trees for fruit) We are lucky to find ripe persimmons.   The raccoons and possums love them dearly and grab them up as soon as they are juicy.

In November, 2006, we made persimmon jam.  I think we ended up throwing most of it away.  We probably need to try again using just the juice and make jelly. 

The picture shows the inside of one of the seeds.  It is quite obviously a spoon—or shovel.  This means our winter will be cold with lots of snow.  Had the inside revealed a fork or rake, we could look forward to a mild winter. 

I can’t believe the local television weathermen don’t know this important information.  It would save them so much speculation.

Thank you, Kim, for the picture. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Quick 180

One hundred eighty miles is the round trip from home to Chapman.  We made a quick round trip tonight to attend the visitation of my Dad’s first cousin.  She was 90.

Of course my Dad & Mom have passed, he would be 105, Mom 98.  Sadly, we are losing that generation. 

There are lots of relatives in the rural community where Dan and I grew up.  Around 150 years ago, immigrants from Switzerland settled in the area.  Both Dan and I have that background. 

We were reminiscing about family tonight when another cousin mentioned how my Dad pronounced her name.  When she said it, it sounded just like Dad.  Many in Dad’s generation had a distinctive way of talking. Probably a result of their younger years in homes that still spoke the Swiss “Low German” language.   Great memories.

When we left Chapman, we drove all the way to Junction City on Old 40 Hwy.  We talked about how much fun it would be to drive the old highway across the country, staying on the old road as much as possible.   The Wikipedia site linked above would be a good resource but even better would be our old 1950’s US map.  Maybe we’ll drive at least part of it one of these times.   Now, that would be a “bloggable”  trip.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Winterize

We are like birds around here, especially when it comes to waking up in the mornings. For the past week or so, the clock is slipping closer to 7:30 when we finally stagger to the kitchen. I have the auto perk on the coffee pot set to complete by 6:20 am. In a week, when daylight savings drops out, we will reset--guess I won't change the auto perk on the coffee pot.

When we change the clock each fall, I finally have to admit colder weather is going to be the norm. There is a "hard" freeze forecast for this week. We winterized the camper today which is a relief. I think we make that task more of an ordeal than it needs to be, blowing all the water out of the lines with air pressure before sucking in the antifreeze. (Don't get the wrong visual--it involves one end of a tube in a bottle of anti freeze and the other end hooked into the RV water pump) Better safe than sorry, I guess. The thought of replacing any of the plumbing in those highly engineered RVs always scares us to the side of extra precaution.

I finally got the last of my plants inside. I leave most of them in pots so it is a matter of lugging them in. I repotted the fig tree this fall. It might have to find a permanent home. It is now officially too big to move out and in. We barely got it in the house with a dolly. I asked Dan if it is as big as a refrigerator and he thought it was—well almost.

The aloe vera is also huge, but it isn't as heavy. I repotted it last spring as well. I literally cut off all the "babies" that were growing from the roots and planted them in the garden. They all lived. So I've been pushing aloe vera plants on to anyone who acts even close to being interested.

The poinsettias are on the sun porch. I completely forgot and flipped on the light when I went out there a little bit ago. I've had good luck in the past getting them to make the red leaves by the natural day/night sequence on the porch. I try to keep it as dark as possible at night, though. I might have to cover the switch with tape.

The front deck is still not complete. The "hang up" has been the fill dirt we need underneath. Today our good neighbor Tom came over with his Bobcat and spread the load of dirt around the house, including under the deck. No excuses now.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A regular visitor

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This sleek doe regularly visits our yard, munching on grass and our little clover patch.  I suspect her nice coat is partly a result of her healthy eating out of the garden. She has  refined tastes for beans and lettuce, only choosing young tender plants.  I suspect she also enjoyed more than a few grapes—can we blame her?

Is this a problem?

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I doubt it.  There are plenty of deer elsewhere.  Despite her tracks in my garden all summer, I would miss her visits to our yard.  And, I think Dan agrees.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

More Colorado/New Mexico pictures

Here is a link to more pictures taken in New Mexico and Colorado.  It is obvious that I especially like Aspens in the fall. 

My picture hosting site encouraged me to update to a new and improved photo viewing experience.  As far as I can see, I have lost the ability to put a slide show here.  Maybe that is just as well for some who have a slower internet connection.  There is now an option to either run a slideshow in the upper right hand corner or scroll down through the pictures.  I put comments on some of them, but I think they only show up on the scroll. 

Isn’t this weather gorgeous?  It appears the mountain trip will take the place of our usual Hermann fall trip.  I will miss all the beautiful trees but we are still trying to get our front deck finished. 

You never know about us, though.  It is getting seriously close to the time for winterizing the RV.  I sure hate to do that before one last roadtrip.  We’ll see.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Some things never change—some do

I have a lot to write about, so I will begin with the most recent.  Here are a few pictures from our Gage Park visit today. 

These pictures are all taken on the concrete animals that have been there for ages.  Our 40 plus year old kids played on them—I should dig out those pictures. 

Anyway, here are a few pictures—some from today and some a few years ago.

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Monday, October 07, 2013

Aspens match beautiful day

We followed the Arkansas and Rio Grande Rivers. They were flowing strong but well within their banks.  Lots of fishermen taking advantage of the weather.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Snow and Gymnastics

Thursday morning of last week was warm.  I packed mostly short sleeved shirts and shorts for our trip to Colorado.  Western Kansas had low clouds with small sun holes which made for interesting wind turbines.

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The higher we went the colder it got.  Friday morning Trent and Carly left for school with coats and snow.

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There was more than weather this weekend, though.  We brought a few car parts for Doug so we unloaded that trailer.   Speaking of trailers, Doug and Drue purchased a little camping trailer this weekend so we helped with winterizing and cleaning.  I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture.

Today was the real reason we came to Colorado.  Trent played a Lacrosse game this afternoon.  I was sorry to miss it because I’ve never seen  Lacrosse.  Dan said it was fun to watch.  Especially since Trent made a score.  I didn’t get any pictures because Drue and I were at Carly’s gymnastics meet in Denver. 

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It was a fun meet for the girls.  It had a princess theme.  All the judges were dressed up in princess costumes and each of the girls received a tiara.  Carly was third overall in her age group.  She did an excellent job.  Her team was first overall as well so there was excitement all around. 

We thought we were leaving for home tomorrow.  However, there will be a detour to New Mexico.  More on that next time.