Friday, September 28, 2007

missing pics

This hasn't happened for a long time... still don't know what I do wrong when the photos don't show up with my text. Hopefully this works...
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On the road again

I have two brothers that live in Logan, Utah so yesterday I drove my mom & dad up to visit them. The highway passes through Sardine Canyon just before you drop into the Cache valley where Logan lies. The fall leaves were absolutely breathtaking!! Seriously, we were just in awe for probably 15 miles. The views along both sides of the road were just spectacular! If you live anywhere near this canyon, you should definately treat yourself to a scenic drive within the next week or so before this magnificent show will be over. My photo hardly does the beauty any justice! We were so glad we chose such a great day for our getaway.

Now, I don't know about you but a road trip is just not a road trip without stopping at some kind of convenience/gas station shop for a nice cold icey beverage and some kind of snack/treat. Look what I found! Have you seen these? Better yet, have you tasted these!!! They are RAZZberry M & M's. Yummy!!! Seriously... what an excellent version of this much loved-already candy. It said on the package that it was a limited edition so I think I'm going to have to stock up! Very delightful!

Both of my brothers that live in Logan are master carpenters! My brother Craig owns a factory there where he manufactures plastic products that are rotation molded. I feel like a little kid when he tours us through the shop and explains what is going on. They were producing everything from ATV gear carriers to ATR water and gas tanks to elk, deer and moose antlers. He is just a totally brilliant craftsman. When he was in high school, he was a sterling scholar winner in the industrial arts and for his project he built a jet engine. He is also the same kid that of course, was always failing engish and history because he could care less about that stuff. He has been very successful in the engineering and manufacturing world.

My other brother, Mark has taken on this GINORMAS home rebuilding project. He and his wife, Karen, bought a wonderful parcel of acerage on the foothills just outside of Logan and it came with this bizarre structure that was supposedly a home. It was basically a big steel structure that has been covered on the outside with wood and stucco and inside there were two separate apartment-like living areas. Being the creative visionary that Mark is, he could see some potential in this structure so now he and his wife are dismantling the steel structure as they rebuild a new ski-lodge type single unit home dwelling. I really don't know how to explain it but it is very impressive. Most impressive is that they are continuing to live in this construction site with their 3 year old daughter and do the work themselves. This summer they were able to complete about 1/3 of the roof top. They will just take it slow and steady and in who knows, 10 years, they'll have a masterpiece.

We were pretty exhausted by the time we got back home last night but it was so worth the effort to get away for a day.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quilt of the Week

Ok so this is really just a 1/2 finished quilt since it is only the pieced top and hasn't been quilted yet. But this is a very special quilt. Several months ago I heard about an organization called "Quilts of Valor". It strives to present quilts to as many wounded servicemen and servicewomen as it can. Quilts are donated by anyone who would like to make a quilt. I found their website at and decided I wanted to participate. I have made a quilt like this about 4 or 5 years ago and it was quick and fun to sew together so I decided I would go with this pattern. All the blocks are made from scraps of fabric I already had on hand. I did buy new fabric for the background and borders. The blue background fabric is titled "Democracy" and the brown border fabric is titled "Lady Liberty". I thought those were very appropriate names.

After I finished piecing the quilt top I contacted the qov people and they found a long-arm quilter who had signed up to donate her time to machine quilt it. She actually lives here in my same city but across the valley from where I live. I sent it to her about a week ago and now I'm anxiously awaiting it's return. I can hardly wait to see how she quilted it. I will then put on the binding and a label on the back with both our names as piecer and quilter and then qov will send me the name of a soldier to send it off to.

I so enjoyed this project! I have very mixed feelings about the whole war in Iraq and Afghanistan but I do want the soldiers to know that I'm aware of their sacrifice and I do care about them and am grateful for their service to our Country and it's Citizens, namely me and my family. My efforts are not much at all compared to what they have given on my behalf but this has meant alot to me and I feel priviledged to give a little of myself using what talents I have.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Good bye and GOOD LUCK!

As I type, half of my family (plus a 20-year old niece) is on a plane MOVING their life to China for a year... that's right I said China!!! Why in the world would anyone disrupt their nice, normal, typical American life to head for such a foreign shakeup? Good question! But I say, "Why not!"

Last summer when Cory and Colton came up from Arizona to spend a few days with us, one of the first things they said was "when we live in China, we get to...." Wow, back up, "what do you mean, When you live in China?" So that was how the big news was broken to us. Now Heidi, Eric and their adorable kids already live "out of state" so I guess "out of the country" isn't much different. We still have to get on a plane to visit them. Besides, we haven't ever been to Beijing. I think we'd love a trip to Beijing!

Thank goodness this world we live in today gets smaller all the time. So with Vonage and computer cameras and email and blogs, we will be able to stay connected pretty much like we did while they lived in AZ.

We really are so excited for them and this whole new adventure they will be having. You know, you can do almost anything or live pretty much anywhere for just one year. I'm just hoping that one year won't turn into 5 or 10 or who knows. So being the supportive parents and grandparents that we are, we are excited for you and for all the great, growing experiences you will be in for. We know you are a strong, capable, smart couple and a loving, tight-knit, supportive family and you will come back from China a stronger, more confident, grateful, appreciative and well-traveled family. Of course, we will MISS them and wish we could see them "more often" just like we always have but until we can be together again, we send them with our love and our prayers. Good bye and GOOD LUCK to Eric, Heidi, Colton, Cory, Quincy, Capri and Conner (and Kylee, of course!) ... see you soon (via the internet!)
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Back in the day...

There were quite a few remaining cabins and mills along the Parkway's route. We enjoyed stopping to check them out and get a sense of what it would have been like for the early settlers who chose to homestead in this part of the wilderness back in those days long ago. The first picture above is of Mabry Mill. This was the orginial structure where the Mabry's lived and ran this saw mill and grist mill. The inside of the mill is quite small and claustrophic. but I'm sure this was a very valueable business to have in this remote area.

The last picture is of a cabin lived in by a couple named Puckett. The woman's name was Orelena Hawks Puckett. She was born in 1837 and married at age 16 and lived to be 102! She became the midwife in this area after the age of 50 and she delivered more than 1000 babies during the next 52 years. She delivered her last baby the year she died, 1939. She was typically paid about $1 for a delivery or $6 if times were good. Otherwise, she took her payment in food or chickens or whatever the family could provide. She herself gave birth to 24 children but tragically none lived past infancy. You really had to be hardy souls and very self-sufficient to survive the harsh conditions of this life. We were very happy to be able to return to our car and everything we have in our 21st century lives and keep on rolling down the road. Do you think someday people will drive past what is remaining of my life and wonder how I survived? Interesting....
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Monday, September 24, 2007

Mr & Mrs Hawk-Watchers

The whole time we traveled the Blue Ridge Parkway we noticed big beautiful birds soaring above the trees. They were very impressive with their wings spread out and the way they just seemed to navigate the sky so effortlessly. One afternoon as Jill and I rounded a bend in the road we saw this couple and their gear set up in a small meadow. They peaked our curiousity so we stopped to check them out. Their car was parked out in the grassy field with the back hatch wide open and this easel set up with all kinds of charts and displays on it. The guy had a camp chair complete with a sun umbrella attached to it and he was sitting there with his binoculars locked on the sky. His wife had been down the "pike a piece" and she was just coming back to check in with him. Turns out they are originally from Florida where he taught science in high school and they moved to a tiny town just off the parkway a few years ago so they could do this work. They volunteer their time to this project (even his license plate reflects his interest). Each day for the next 3 months from about 8:30 am - 4:30 pm they will be out here trying to spot all the hawks, eagles, falcons and other big raptor-type birds as they migrate south for the winter. I guess there are some pretty knarly warm thermals that pass over the parkway and the birds find them, hop on and just get carried along for miles and miles. When a bird is spotted, they tally it on their whiteboard. They had a dozen or so birds tallied there so far but it seemed like you would have to have unbelievable patience to sit there hour after hour and day after day and hope to spot something flying by! I'm afraid I do not have the attention span for this hobby.
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Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Night Jamboree

Welcome to the little town of Floyd, VA and the one and only Floyd Country Store, home of the world famous "Friday Night Jamboree". Unfortunately we weren't there on a Friday so we totally missed out on this time-honored tradition. From the outside, this store looks like any other small town store. Inside it starts out typical with small town goods for sale but at the back of the store is a raised stage full of microphones. In front of the stage is a good sized dance floor and then surrounding the dance floor are rows and rows (well, at least three rows on each side) of these mix and matched chairs all covered in every rendition of chair cushion you could think of! So adorable and inviting!

Each Friday night people converge on this tiny town to be entertained with some good ole' bluegrass and pickin' and strummin'. You can see from the "marquee" who was playing last weekend. Hanging below the chalkboard was a piece of paper that further explained the cost of admission: Tickets $3.00 a person unless: 1. you are under 6 years of age 2. you are a musician bringing along your instrument or 3. you are a great grandma!

I loved the overalls display that hung on one of the store's walls. I know they sold these right there in the store but I wasn't sure if they weren't also displaying the dress code.

This was a highlight of my trip! Truly a glimpse into authentic Americana!
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

"We rednecks!"

We were gasing up our cute little minivan in Buchanan, VA (pronounded "buck cannon" according to these two residents) when this truck pulled into the gas station. We couldn't help but notice since the truck was very loud and the paint job was very eye catching?! We just had to get a closer look so we approched these guys and asked about the custom camoflauge. They told us they just ripped branches of leaves off of a tree and layed them down and spray painted away. They said it took about "15 minutes and $5 worth of spray paint" (complete with a deep southern redneck twang). We loved it! What great creativity and resoursefulness. As we were talking and joking with them, that is when they told us "we rednecks". When we asked if we could take a picture of them and their truck they were very willing to accommodate us but then they asked "when ya'all get that film daveloped, could ya'all please send us a copy". Paul got out a pen and paper and began to ask what their email address was and then he rethought the question and just asked for their regular address! Just another highlight of our adventure along the Blue Ridge Parkway!
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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Blue Ridge Parkway adventure

We're back safe and sound after a very enjoyable, successful adventure along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We flew into Charlottesville, VA a week ago Saturday. We used Sunday to rest up before the guys began the big ride on Monday by going to see some of the local sights. We went to Monticello to visit Thomas Jefferson's beautiful hilltop plantation. You can visit it too by looking on the back of your nickels. We took a tour of his home and learned about what a brilliant, forward-thinking man he was for his day. He was the self-taught architect of his home and he incorporated many unique, almost quirky, details into it like having beds in closets and alcoves so they didn't take up space in the actual rooms. Then we had lunch at a circa 1784 tavern just down the road: Colonial fried chicken, hickory smoked pork barbecue, blackeye peas, stewed tomatoes, biscuits and cornbread. Those colonial people sure knew how to eat.

Monday morning was sunny and clear and almost a little too hot but Paul & his riding buddy, Craig, took off. Jill, Craig's wife, and I jumped into our rented mini van and we headed out to have our own adventure. This trip turned out to be quite unique because it was like even though we were on a trip with our husbands, we ended up having totally different experiences. While the guys biked along the beautiful and scenic parkway, we gals drove along quaint, rural backroads and visited tiny towns and saw how people live in this neck of the woods. Our biggest challenge everyday was to find something for lunch to buy along our way and then get it up to the guys by noon (ususally an hour or two late) to fuel them up for the afternoon. We found some very interesting quilt shops, country stores, visitor information centers, "junque" shops and wonderful, friendly people to go along with it all. We even came across a preview exhibit of an exhibition for a soon to be built "Tea Pot Museum"! It was a wonderful show... out in the middle of nowhere in a town called Sparta, NC.

The weather was a little frustrating but weather does what ever weather wants to do so when it rained the guys just had to put on rain jackets and keep on pedaling or just get in the van and call it a day. That philosophy worked until the last day when we woke up to totally fogged in conditions and continual downpour of rain. It was quite disappointing since that last section of the Parkway included Grandfather mountain, the mile-high swinging brigde and Mount Mitchell which is the highest peak east of the Mississippi. But this way the guys got to finally experience the flavor of these remote byways. We heard on the TV that night that Asheville (where we were) had gotten 3 1/2" of rain in 24 hours!

The Parkway was stunningly beautiful. It was one of the most idylic roads to ride that Paul has ever traveled for several reasons: 1) very little traffic -- not always but this week was perfect. We were told that in 2 more weeks when the fall foliage is putting on it's spectacular show, it will be jam-packed with tourists. 2) the speed limit is mostly 45 mph except when it is 35 mph!
3) the road gently curved and rose and declined with a perfect flow, though the elevation was kind of a surprise to them. Coming from the west here where we live at 4500 feet, the guys didn't think this was going to be tough at all but the accumulated daily totals were alot of uphill miles. 4) the scenery was beautiful and invigorating and the vistas were breath-taking 5) every person we met was friendly and very interested in their ride 6) our accommodations each night were rustic and authentic inns without TV's or phones but nice beds and running water.

So there you have it. Another successful bike ride in the books. Paul & Craig rode almost 300 miles. I know Paul's mind is starting to percolate about where to go next year. That's ok with me... I wonder if there's a good ride in China?
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Big Brother now!

Isn't this just the sweetest picture! Collin is so proud to be a big brother to his darling new baby brother Cache Cameron who was born on Thursday, September 13th. Cache weighed in at 6 lb. 2 oz. and measured 18" tall. I think LaRane looks pretty proud of her 2 boys there too! Of course, we missed out on all the excitement since we were off in the rurals of North Carolina on Paul's bicycle trip and because of the remoteness of the Blue Ridge Parkway, we would get random texts and several-seconds worth of cell phone updates as we waited to hear that Cache had arrived. He was two weeks early so we weren't expecting him to make his grand entrance into this world until we were home again. But we are so thrilled that he is here whole and healthy and much loved!
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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Got Books?

I just love to read a good book! I don't read all the time but I must read before I fall asleep each night and if I'm reading a particularly interesting book, I look forward to bedtime all day long. I have been keeping track of the books that I have read since 1983. I don't know why I started keeping track; I think I just liked seeing what I have accomplished. Back in those days I was in the middle of raising kids so my spare time was much more limited. That first year, I read nine books. So far this year I have read thirty books. Over the past 2 years I have become fascinated with memoirs. I love reading about someone's real life experiences. I think I like it so much because they are always so different than my life (usually, thankfully so). But I still do throw in a good novel here and there. Recently I have been on a "middle East" theme. It started by reading a 3 book series called:
"Princess: a true story of life behind the veil in Saudia Arabia", "Princess Sultana's Daughters" and "Princess Sultana's Circle" all written by Jean Sasson. Wow, those were unbelieveable... a real eye opener about women's lives in the muslim world. Earlier this summer I read two more very interesting books: one titled "Left to Tell -- Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust" by Immaculie Ilibagiza and the other titled "Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I can't even imagine having been born in their circumstances and then living through the things they have dealt with. I am amazed and impressed with their stories and astounded that they were living these lives of danger and hardship while I have been living my enjoyable, safe life. The most recent book I have read is titled "Desert Queen" by Janet Wallach. It is the story of Gertrude Bell who lived from about 1865 to 1924. She was a British citizen but fell in love with the area that is now Iraq. She took excursions throughout all those deserts and met and associated with the nomadic tribes and became an expert on all things in that area of the British Empire. She was so important that the British government used her information during their conflicts with the arabs and turks. She is given credit for creating the lines on the maps that even today mark the Iraqi borders. She had an amazing life. I thoroughly enjoyed all of these books and would highly recommend them to anyone. Still on the middle East theme I also read a couple of novels as well: "The Kite Runner" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns". Those were both very intense and somewhat disturbing. Once again they portrayed lives that I can't even begin to imagine actually living.

But just so you don't think I am obsessive in my book choices, here are a few of the other books I've enjoyed so far this year:
*The Book Thief" by Marcus Zusak
*The Sunflower" by Richard Paul Evans
*The Hiding Place" by Corrie ten Boom
*Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" by Lisa See
*The Memory Keeper's Daughter" by Kim Edwards
*The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey" byCandice Millard
*The Poisionwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver
*Suite Francaise" by Irene Nemirovsky
and just to keep me current with pop culture *Twilight by Stephanie Meyer and I am currently reading the second of this series called *New Moon!

I actually have a stack of books waiting for their turn as my current interest and a list I keep when I hear suggestions from other people of good books they recommend. So there you have it... I hope you have enjoyed today's Book Club via my blog. Feel free to leave me any suggestions of books you have read and highly recommend... I'll add it to my list!
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Monday, September 3, 2007

Just NOT ready for this...

We have had a long HOT summer here this year. The weather people keep telling us it was the hottest July EVER on record and tht today will be the hottest Labor Day since 1950 but still.... I'm just not ready for this!
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