To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Monday, October 31, 2011

North Country Trail

I had made plans to hike in a beautiful location on Saturday, but at 10:30 in the morning, my hiking buddies for the day bailed on me. Now what? I had already hiked this area several times, but had chosen it again based on their hiking abilities. Hmmm, going for a hike by myself in this area would not have been my choosing. Instead, I called a girlfriend and accepted the previous day's invitation to join her and her daughter for a Halloween parade, then I phoned another girlfriend to extend an invite to hike on the North Country Trail the following morning. I think K said yes before I had finished asking. I laughed and we made plans to meet at 8:30 Sunday morning. This would be her first time taking her new dog on the trail with her and she wasn't sure how he would behave, so it would be a relatively short training hike, 4.25 miles, but it would be through the woods and up and down hills. A good hike to be sure.

A crispy, frosty morning to start.
After a short drive and vehicle staging, we were on the trail by 9:45, Dunloe in the lead, K and then me bringing up the rear. It was chilly, but beautiful...and the smell of the woods? Heavenly. I kept breathing deeply to take in more of the scent. I love the rich, heavy scent of the woods when they are wet.
We were past peak color on the trees, as witnessed by our leaf colored paths, but the outing was still spectacular. I think we saw an eagle, but I can't swear by it..
So much fungus and where was my mushroom book again? Yep, still in the bookshelf at home.
Nice views whether we were looking down at the trail, out through the woods...
or up through the trees.
We marveled at the size of these leaves.
Oh yes, we went up....
and then we went down and around, turning this way and that as the trail led us. The trail is well marked with blazes and we had no question about which direction to go. The trail I was on a couple weeks ago could have used a few more blazes on their trees...just sayin'.
All of us did great on the hike. We averaged about a mile per 1/2 hour and arrived back to the car just before noon. K & I both agreed we could have gone further, but we just didn't know how Dunloe would do before we started.

I loved this trail and will probably bring Sir S and Miss M out here to hike. K was delighted with how well Dunloe did on the trail. She was worried he would be straining at the leash the whole time, but the only time he did that was when the squirrels were taunting him. We were surprised that he even followed the correct path when the trail split. Pretty sure he sniffed it out. I think he'll make a great trail dog for her. lol...I suggested that I might borrow him for my solo hikes and she grinned and handed me his leash. Now that's the kind of dog I want. K has all the care and cost of owning a dog and I get to have the fun. Okay!

Now that's what I call a good hike in the woods.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Weekending in Michigan

Well, you left and the weather ushered in a decidedly different season. Goodness! I had a color tour paddling trip planned, but Mother Nature decided this was a good weekend for strong winds and gusts over 40 mph. Not exactly good paddling weather. Ah well, there's always this weekend to try again.

This is what the sky looked like for most of the day. It was beautiful while the clouds were whipping by, but you better have held onto your hat or it was gone in an instant.
I joined d-i-l and F.Y.S. at Sir S's football game. That boy is so intense when he plays sports, sort of reminds me of someone else, yes? He misses his dad horribly and is sure no one else 'gets' his football games the same way, but we try. I can't do anything to lessen the pain, but what I can do is help to keep him occupied. Guess he better dust off his hiking shoes. I wonder what his mom will think if I take him winter camping?
See this? It's a J Crew sweater that I picked up at a thrift store for $2, brought it home and promptly tore it apart. It will become felted slippers for me, and I'll need them since I'm bumping down the thermometer another degree this winter. I dunno if Tim can handle it though because his ears and nose are already cold when he puts his head against me. Poor kitty! Anyway, there are a lot of steps before I'm able to use this yarn again for knitting and I'm wondering if it's worth it. I suppose for $2 it is and, what the heck, winter is coming and I have nothing but time on my hands. ~grins~ You'll probably see all the steps in a later post. I know you'll be so thrilled about that.
I finished Appointment in Samarra Friday evening and spent a little time reading more of Justice after the game. I'm liking it, but I see what you mean about Sandel making his point and getting you in line with his thinking, and then switching sides in the next chapter. Liking it is an understatement. I'm really, really liking it is more the truth.
I'm torn on the next two. Do I read The Last Samurai...for the againth time...or do I start on Lightning Rods? Listening to you and Patrick talk, I realized I've forgotten so much of Last Samurai. It's sort of odd because I never understood how people could read more than one book at a time and now I do it all the time. I have two more books in the livingroom that I'm reading as well, but one of those is about nutrition and the other is on homesteading, you know, for when I get that cabin in the woods I'm always talking about.

I forced myself to get up and move in the afternoon. I was feeling a bit under the weather and wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of the day on the couch with a blanket and those books, but my list was calling me. I cleaned the house and switched all my summer clothes for sweaters and long sleeve shirts. Then, just because I could, I went for a very blustery walk. That perked me up and put a big grin on my face. I love this time of year!
I woke up to lots of clouds again on Sunday. I considered trying to clear out the leaves, but they were still too wet from the rains. It's not like they're going anywhere, darn it. Every year, after strong winds like that, I threaten to get myself some snow fencing to put across the driveway and side yard to keep everyone else's leaves from blowing into my yard. I have that one little tree, but leaves get piled up behind the house nearly to the windows. That's a lot of leaves to get rid of and they're not mine. Ha, I was raking earlier in the week and my neighbor said I should just leave them because they'll blow away. Um hmm, and whose leaves are in my back yard? His...<grumble>. Do you think he would notice if I threw them over the fence into his backyard? Do you think he would mind?
Anyway, what with the clouds and cold, it seemed like a good day for soup. And then I made more soup. And then I made some more. All told, I now have 11 pints of soup stashed in the freezer, I had a bowl for lunch and 2 more bowls were set aside for lunches this week. Not bad for a morning's work. As of yesterday, my house still smells d-e-e-licious.
Oh, recipes, in case you decide you want some yummy, easy soups to warm your soul when the rainy season hits for you. I ran all of these through the blender, but you don't have to do that. They're pretty darned good in their chunky form too. I think the recipes are all on my blog in different places, but here they are again.

Savannah Bisque - perfect because it's made with sweet potato and since you're back in the sweet potato...
Cream of Broccoli - I skipped the rice flakes and threw in a couple of potatoes to thicken the soup this time.

Sure would be nice if I could be eating these soups with you...just sayin'.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A little me time.

Hey, I did my first solo camp and paddle trip over the weekend. I was nervous about it at the beginning of the week, but the more I thought about it, the more excited I became. What a blessing it was.

Due to some very poor directions from Google (wth?) and a bit of unexpected road construction, I arrived at my site after dark. Not to worry, I just happen to be a seasoned camper and setting up in the dark was no big deal. A quick dinner and a glass of wine, and I was off to explore my surroundings. Actually, I went down to the lake to see what I could look forward to. The moon was nearly full and the lake was lit up beautifully. Oh, this will be fun.
I was up before dawn and on the water before the sun rise. You can't tell with this view, but there was quite a bit of fog on the water. Oh, and I shared the lake with duck hunters. That was a little disconcerting, but they stayed on their side and I paddled on the other, and hoped that when they did shoot, it would be into the air.
It was beautiful and peaceful (in spite of the hunters) and I moved about the lake for nearly 4 hours. Not unexpectedly, I didn't see much wildlife, but the Autumn colors were in full bloom. And the weather? Wow, once the sun rose above the horizon it warmed right up and it would be in the high 70's later in the afternoon. Not bad for October. Actually, it reminded me of paddling the Crystal River a few years ago when it was also 80 degrees at this time. Mm hmm, but then the temperatures plummeted the following weekend.
I reluctantly left the lake and returned to camp for a quick breakfast/lunch. All that beautiful paddling makes a person hungry. After lunch I set off to explore the hiking trail. It was well and thoroughly marked, until it wasn't. The blue blazes simply disappeared and I didn't realize until later that I was no longer on the trail. There was no marker telling me which direction to go so I took the most travelled route. I looked carefully on the return trip and even though I never saw a marker, I suspect I should have taken a path to the right when my trail turned into a two-track. Next time. Still, my route was beautiful.
I have to remember to bring my mushroom book with me so I know if I'm finding edibles or not. I'm not afraid to forage in the woods, but I sort of want to know exactly what I'm eating.

This was wonderful and I couldn't help grinning to myself over my good fortune in the weather and location. Where to next?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Taiwan Son

I sent him on his way yesterday. We celebrated his birthday Sunday evening with the family, but I still had dinner with him and favorite youngest son last night, his real birthday. He left for Chicago and his subsequent flight back to Taiwan. 75 days is gone, just, gone...really not liking this.