Sunday, July 26, 2015

Of Paws, Chickadees and Good Friends

Thursday was a big day. I had a friend over whom I had not seen in over a year. Part way through the afternoon I received a call from Kohlton who called to tell me that my help was needed. Kohlton and Remmie went out to hike the trail that Ellie and her crew were working on.

They started down the top trail at upper White Ranch. It seems that the hike was very steep and rough. Though the hike was long, it was not the longest one Remmie has been on, but the rocks were hard on his paws. Once they were close to their destination, Remmie started trying to take a lot of breaks, something that is unusual for him. Kohlton thought that maybe Remmie was just hot, or in need of a rest. Upon closer inspection, he found that Remmie's main pads on both of his front paws had begun to tear off and flap around like dried bits of leather. This was alarming and worrisome, so a Remmie rescue took place. It was clear that he would need to be removed from the mountain without his walking the rest of the way on his own. Ellie carried him for a short while, then Kohlton took him the rest of the way. That part took Kohlton about an hour and a half to hike.
I am certain that Ellie would have like to be there to calm her dog down, but she had to finish her shift. Larr met Kohlton and Remmie at the lower parking lot to bring them home. I was going to go pick them both up, but Larr was able to get there faster than I was.

In the meantime, I arranged for a vet. appointment. Our usual vet was booked until the middle of next week, so Ellie and Kohlton took Remmie to my mother's vet. That visit did not go well; both Remmie and Ellie were upset afterwards.

That night Remmie was clearly ill and seemed to be running a fever. The next day was more of the same. As the evening drew near, Remmie seemed to be making a recovery. We were all relieved.

Today he seems to be feeling much better, and my, is he ever happy to be better.

Larr also did a wonderful thing for me. When we were much younger and new to our house, he put in a hook just outside of our bedroom upstairs. On that hook we hung a lovely, wooden birdhouse. I loved watching the birds at the feeder in the morning. Over time, the birdhouse fell apart and we did not repair it as we had become busy with baby Ethan.

Now that I once again have a bit of time to wake up in a leisurely way, I love to listen to the birds again and I told Larr that I wished that we still had a bird feeder. Later in the week he brought home a large feeder along with three kinds of feed to attract different kinds of birds. So far the chickadees have been happy to discover our feeder. I look forward to see who else shows up.

Ethan and a few of his friends spent the weekend in Wyoming have a great time hanging out together and going to the Cheyenne Frontier Days. They attended some of the rodeo type events, attended the Keith Urban concert. Ethan was impressed with the concert and how much heart and soul Keith put into his performance. By the time Ethan came home on Sunday night, he was sunburned, tired and all pumped up from having so much fun.

On Monday, Kohlton starts a brand new job. We are all excited for him. We hope it turns out to be a great opportunity for him.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Blue River Get Away - A Few Days of Beauty in the Mountains of Colorado

Even though I live in Colorado and have visited mountains often, I am always taken by the beauty of it all.

Larr and I spent a few days up in Blue River, near Breckenridge, exploring the near by mountain passes and relaxing.

We took the scenic route up to the place we were staying at. On the west side of Loveland Pass, we found this lovely place:
There seems to be some nice spots to camp near this location. I would like to camp near there some time soon.

Then we made our to the sweet little A-Frame house in Blue River that we rented through Airbnb.
It was neat, clean and quiet - just what we were looking for. The one small challenge was that the bedroom was in the loft, which meant that I had to go up and down a ladder in order to go to the bathroom. It was more fun staying there than it would have been staying at a hotel.

On Tuesday we went over Hoosier Pass, down into Fairplay, Como and so on:
Outside of Alma, we took Buckskin up towards Kite Lake:
We also visited mining mill near a reservior (whose name I cannot remember - sorry about that.) At this point, the altitude was getting to me. It never used to bother me, but now it does from time to time. Larr supported me through my frustration with the altitude issue and we were able to carry on.
By the time we were just about done visiting that area, it began to rain in earnest. It had been cold all day, and drizzley for much of it. It was clearly time to head back home.

We spent a quiet evening in the cabin watching "Best in Show" and "Atlas Shrugged III."

Today we took the long route home, going over Boreas Pass. I am pretty sure that it is my favorite pass. Here are a few reasons why I feel that way:

We took other back roads getting home, including stopping at the bison park near Genesee.

School starts up in a short while, so I find my thinking drifting back towards teaching related topics. I have a few books on hold at the library that will help me reframe some of the topics I want to focus on. I still have some time to play.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Cirque du Soleil - Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities

I have been intrigued by Cirque du Soleil for many years, but we have not gone together as a family because the tickets were just too costly. Ellie and Ethan have both had the good fortune to be able to see a show due to the generosity of some of their friends.

My turn finally came last week. I found some great ticket deals for the "Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities" show on Facebook. So, on Friday, Larr and I attended an afternoon matinee. It was amazing! I tried to describe it for my family, but I simply could not. Every single detail is carefully thought through; it is a well-oiled, impressive machine.

I was trying to tell my mother about the show as she showed great interest.She said that she would love to go see one of their shows some day. I went home, intending to give her the gift of a show for Christmas. Larry encouraged me to take her this weekend. We've come to value doing things with those we love, or giving them things that make us think of them, as we come across them, instead of waiting. We've come to learn that sometimes, waiting can result in it not happening. No need to put it off, Mom and I attended on Sunday. And she had a blast!
We intentionally arrived early so that my mom could take it all in. I knew that she would enjoy the ambiance of the gift shop and the entire set-up. As you see here, that was a great plan. We love being silly together.

I loved the show the second time as much as I enjoyed it the first time around. I even purchased the soundtrack since it was so upbeat and fun. I have included a YouTube link below where you can listen to it, too.
Back at home, I still had so many of the images from the show in my head, so I decided to draw a few of them. I wanted to add in the men wearing fish tails, but I ran out of time.

Here's a few videos to help you get an idea of what the show is like:

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Big Rig Concert

Last Saturday Ethan, Ellie, Kohlton, Brandon and James (not pictured) went to the CHANNEL 93.3'S BIG GIG 2015 concert featuring
AWOL NATION, Nate Ruess, Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness, Banks, New Politics, Atlas Genius, Saint Motel and more! It was one of those long, nearly-all-day-into-the-night concerts.

I am glad that they have the opportunity to hang out with their friends and have a good time at events like this one.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Closing of This Chapter in Our Lives + Spicy Glazed Pork Chops & Country Apple Galette Recipes

We closed on Don's and Eleanor's house on Tuesday. It was a sad, sad day for all of us. We would have liked to keep the house in the family, but it was just not financially possible. I had to wait until today to compose this post because it was just too upsetting to write it any sooner.
I feel many different feelings simultaneously. I feel saddness, regret, happiness, frustration, stress, but most of all I feel kind of flat - that does not make any sense, but there it is. That is how I am feeling right now.

It was taken so much work to get to this point. Part of me is envious of the families that have a very short time to take care of business since it would be done and over quickly. Part of me is thankful that we had so long to take care of business, to prep the house, to have a few last parties, etc. We could take our time saying good-bye. I am both thankful for that, and I was a bit tortured by it.
On Sunday, we had a family meal at the house with our family, Doug, Mark and Lilia. We sat in the side yard taking in the sunset. I tried to sort of memorize it; I tried to remember what it felt like to sit with Don and Eleanor, enjoying the sunsets. It made me weepy.
On Monday we finished up removing stuff from the house. Ethan went around recording sounds that remind him of his childhood in the house. He recorded the closing of the garage door, the door into the house, the door to the porch. He recorded the sound of the cupboard doors being opened and the dishwasher closing. There is also a recording of the sound of the waterfall in the back yard. I think that is what I will miss the most, beyond all of the people related memories and sounds. We walked around, looking at everything, trying to memorize it. We knew that would be the last time we were there and that it would be the last time it still felt like home. That made me weepy, too. The people who bought the house are flippers. We may go back when they have an open house after the remodeling, but it will not feel like home then. As we drove away for the last time, I noticed that the neighborhood no longer feels like our neighborhood.

On Tuesday I cut some of the flowers from Eleanor's garden to make a few bouquets for our house. They are the last gifts from Grandma Eleanor. I was trying to find a way to close this chapter of our lives with something positive. Eleanor would have been happy to see the displays I've created with her flowers. I made one for Ellie and three for the rooms on the main floor of our house.
Larr took photographs out of most of the windows and of many of the common views within the house. He was doing his own kind of mourning.

I thought that this part would feel different; I thought it would feel more complete, and that I would feel happier. In reality, the part where we work over at that house is done, but there are boxes of stuff to be gone through, processed here at our house, in our garage and in a storage space. I am looking forward to when my life will feel like it is back to normal. How long will that take? I am not sure, I would not be surprised if it took another year to get to that point.

Spicy Glazed Pork Chops
via: BudgetBytes

4 thick cut pork chops (bone-in or boneless)
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp cayenne powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl combine the brown sugar and spices (salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika and garlic powder or whatever spice blend you like).

Remove the pork chops from their package and rub the brown sugar/spice mix all over both sides. Use all of the spice mix.
Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium/high heat. When the oil is nice and hot (it will look wavy in the pan), add the pork chops. Cook the chops for about 5 minutes on each side or until they are nicely browned.

If you are using an oven safe skillet, place the skillet in the oven for an additional 5 minutes to make sure they are cooked through. If your skillet is not oven safe (most plastic handled skillets and teflon are not safe in the oven), transfer the chops to a baking sheet lined with foil then place in the oven.

Remove the chops from the oven and drag each side around in the thick glaze that has formed around the chops in the pan prior to serving.


Country Apple Galette


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup ice water

4 Golden Delicious apples
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey, preferably wildflower
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

In a food processor, combine the flour with the sugar, salt and butter and process for about 5 seconds. Sprinkle the ice water over the flour mixture and process until the pastry just begins to come together, about 10 seconds; you should still be able to see small pieces of butter in it. Transfer the pastry to a work surface, gather it together and pat into a disk. Wrap the pastry in plastic or wax paper and refrigerate until chilled. (You can also roll out the pastry and use it right away.)

Roll out dough between sheets of parchment paper to 1/8-inch-thick round, 14 inches in diameter. Remove top sheet of parchment. Using bottom sheet as aid, transfer dough on parchment to large unrimmed baking sheet. Chill 15 minutes.

Peel, halve and core the apples and slice them crosswise 1/4 inch thick. Set aside the larger center slices and coarsely chop the end slices and any broken ones; about half of the slices should be chopped. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.

Spread preserves over crust, leaving 1 1/2-inch plain border. Arrange apple slices in concentric circles atop preserves, overlapping slightly. Using parchment as aid, fold plain crust border up over apples, pinching any cracks in crust. Brush crust with milk. Sprinkle crust edges and apples with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.

Preheat the oven to 400°. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry to a 12-by-14-inch rectangle and transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Spread the chopped apples over the pastry to within 1 inch of the edge. Drizzle the honey over the chopped apples. Decoratively arrange the apple slices on top in concentric circles or in slightly overlapping rows. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the apples and dot with the pieces of butter. Fold the pastry edge up and over the apples to create a 1-inch border.
Bake the galette for about 1 hour, until the pastry is nicely browned and crisp and all of the apples are tender. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the galette cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.