Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Jelly Making

There's something about making jelly that intrigues me.  I first saw jelly made from wild raspberries when I was about 12.  I loved picking fresh raspberries, but when I found out that a cabin neighbor was raiding "my" patches for jelly, I was somewhat incensed.  Eventually, I learned to make the jam myself, and I have made it ever since.

Several years ago I learned to make gooseberry jelly.  I had never had gooseberries, but I decided to try jellying them.  WOW!  It is yummy.  So then I decided to try mixing raspberries and gooseberries.  From the gooseberries I was able to pick and juice, I made 17 jars of "graspberry" jelly.

When I got home from the cabin, we still had a number of peaches that I had purchased, along with some extra rasmpberries and some leftover gooseberry juice.  I wondered what peaches, raspberries, and gooseberries would taste like?  Well, there's nothing to do but try it.  Which I did.  Tasted amazing.  Now I am just trying to come up with a name - preachberry?  greachberry?  prooseberry?

This picture is not the sum total of the jars I made, but it is a nice sample.  Fun times!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Aftermath

Well, the tree came down.  Can you see the chain saw near the stump, squished by the tree?  Ruh Roh!

Oh well, nothing a chocolate chip cookie can't fix.

Within an hour, Don had all of the logs cut up and put away.  Saturday night, our nephew, Joey, Don and I picked up all of the sticks and put them in the trash.

We still have some dents in the gutter that Don will fix once it cools down.  The chainsaw is already at the shop getting a new handle, a sharpened chain, and a tune up.  And the tree is down.

Saturday night, Don dug out the instructions to the chain saw.  "You know, this wouldn't have happened if I had read these instructions."  Oh really?

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Early this spring, we noticed our redbud tree was dying.  It is so sad, because the spring combination of the redbud and the snowcrab impressed us!

The redbud was Di's favorite climbing tree, and in the summers, the kids would play under its shielding leaves.  So many memories were dying away, but we knew we had to take it down.

Throughout the spring and summer, Don had been cutting a limb at a time, leaving some for the trash men and putting the larger logs in the log pile.  This morning, he decided was the day . . . he would stay home from work and finish the job.

When I came outside about 11:00 a.m., he was cutting a wedge in the tree so that it would fall the way he wanted it to.  Then he started to cut the tree down.  Watch as you see what happened:

Ten years ago we would have been so mad.  This time, we just laughed.  I thought I was well out of the way, but as you can see, even with the best plans, things can go wrong.

So now, with a little work on the gutters of the house, a little tune-up on the chain saw (that got stuck under the tree), and a little repair of the work bench, things will be back to normal.  Within an hour, the tree was chopped up and the majority of sticks were picked up.  So little harm done!

But . . . even when you think you know what you are doing, it is best to leave things to the professionals!  Right, Don?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Such Crust!

Today I went to see Mrs. Garvey.  We had a lovely lunch together, talking about numerous things, particularly the school.  Her daughter, Ann, joined us, and along with her caretaker, Shelli, we shared numerous stories.

One of Mrs. Garvey's sayings was the topic of a portion of our conversation.  Mrs. Garvey was well known for holding her tongue and refraining from making negative statements about people.  Ann said that rather than swear, she would say, "Oh, bad word."  I had never heard her say that, but I did recall that numerous times when she was particularly upset with someone's behavior, she would say, "Such crust."  The perfect way to express displeasure.  "Such crust!"

Oh that we should all be so classy!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Poor Babs!

Aging has its consequences.  Ask me.  I am finding out.

So imagine being 105.  That's about how old Babs is.

We had noticed that her hearing and vision were decreasing, and for that reason, we have been keeping an eye on her at the cabin, particularly when she is outside.  We used to always keep her on a leash, but now that she doesn't run away, we had been letting her go outside with us, but unattached.  Not anymore.

Last Friday, Don and she went outside.  I was down near the stream, picking gooseberries.  Suddenly I heard Babs yelp.  It wasn't a good yelp.

Apparently, Don thought she was following him, but she took an abrupt turn to the wall and suddenly fell five feet to the road - Graham Johnson style.  She fell towards the top of the hill, but the fall is farther than it looks in this picture.

She must have good bones, because although she is sore and not able to jump much, she can walk and trot.  At times we accidentally touch her where it hurts, but most times she is fine.

What baffles me is that she couldn't see that it was a long way down.  Today in the back yard, she saw a rabbit that was 20 - 30 feet away . . . and she chased it!

I don't know what got into her, but her life is now back to leash restriction when in the mountains!

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's No Yolk!

The other day, I cracked an egg, and look what I got!

I have heard of double-yolk eggs, but in all of my years, this is the first one I have ever gotten.  I didn't quite know what to do with it, as I was using it in cookies . . . but I just pretended it was two eggs, and they came out well.

This is just a minor little thing, but if I ever lose the appreciation of the differences in nature, the strange things, I might as well not be alive.  It is these things that keep life interesting!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bella, age 2

Bella has definitely become an adult.  Although she still jumps, she is much calmer.  When I had her last week, she didn't get under the gazebo, she didn't crawl under the deck, and she didn't go wild chasing rabbits.

Exercising while Bella is in the house is still an adventure, however.  I have a series of exercises I am supposed to do three times a day, and I have to tell you, Bella makes it interesting.

On the first set I have to lay on my back and twist my legs to the side.  The minute I lay down, Bella sits right next to my head and stares at me, her tongue hanging out.  Soon she lifts her paw, as if to shake hands.  I take her paw and hold it until she gets bored.  She changes paws, and I hold it until she tires.  By then, my first set is usually done.

The rest of the exercises encompass some form of laying on my side or back.  By that time, Bella wants to be closer to me.  So the minute I turn, she cuddles up next to me.  Close.  Very close.  After a few minutes, she rolls over on her back, expecting a tummy rub.  If she doesn't get the tummy rub, she sits up and stares at me again.  Three times a day.  Frankly, I think it is cute.  Sepster used to do that, too, so it is nice to have a dog who wants to be near me.

Bella will also lay on my feet when I am at the computer, sit next to me on the couch, or try to be as near as possible.  When she was here, she got two dog bones from two different banks.  She thought she was in dog heaven.  The best part, however, was in the morning.  She had very obediently slept in her dog bed all night.  When Don got up at 6:00, he let her outside.  She came inside, and very carefully crawled into the bed, snuggling up right next to me.  I thought it was Babs and didn't pay much attention until I got out of bed, and there was a black and white dog in my bed.

Keeping Bella is truly a treat.  She is a very sweet dog!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Old School

When Mom and Dad bought the cabin in 1960, one of the beds upstairs was a red twin, complete with springs and mattress.  Katie loved sleeping in the red bed, then I did, then Bart.  As kids we thought it was great - the middle would sink to the floor, and we thought it was the greatest bed in the world.

Fast forward to adulthood, and not many people enjoyed sleeping in the  red bed.  It was too, too soft . .  and bad for our backs.  But Mom kept it because she told me it would need a custom mattress.

In the early 2000's, Don and I bought a piece of plywood to put under the mattress, and although it helped, it didn't help enough.  My friend, Pam, slept in it, and she was a good sport.  But it was not comfortable, and at that time, I told Don we are going to get a new mattress, even if we had to get it custom made.

This year we went looking.  We gave the mattress people the dimensions, and amazingly, it is a standard twin size, give or take an inch.  So the Monday after our Wheeler Peak adventure, we purchased a new mattress.

When we took the old mattress off, we found this tag on it:

For 52 years (and years before that from the previous owners), we have been sleeping on a mattress that cost $29.50.

Needless to say, it was time.  We thought it was interesting that the name of the new mattress is:

Perfect.  Katie slept in it last week, and she said it was very comfortable.  Much better than the old one, for sure!

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Sometimes it takes a lot of work to make things come together.  For the first part of our trip, we had to figure out how to get three groups of people to Taos by 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.  That wasn't so hard, as we all stayed with Bart and Jerri in Angel Fire, and Jerri graciously agreed to take care of Babs.  She was worried that 15-year-old Babs would die on her watch, but both Jerri and Babs fared just fine!  The only logistical problem we had was that Bart had the cars parked at the parking lot rather than at the Bavarian restaurant, so while Don and I stayed at the restaurant (and I had the biggest Diet Coke I have ever seen, while Don drank a beer), Travis and Bart had to walk another two miles to the car.  Glad they still had the energy, because Don and I would have really been dragging by that time!

The logistics for the second trip were MUCH more complicated.  It took the gracious gestures of two wonderful spouses to pull this off.  (OT . . . why is the plural of spouse "spouses" if the plural of mouse is "mice."  I think the plural of spouse should be spice!")  Anyway, we finally decided that the walkers would stay in Santa Fe, so Don had to take Kenneth, Melinda, and me to Santa Fe and drive back to the cabin, an hour after we had returned from Santa Fe.  Otherwise, we would have had to awaken at 3:30 a.m.  YUK!  (In the meantime, Travis had to drive from Albuquerque at 4:30 a.m. after having gone to a Beach Boys concert the night before.  He got 4 hours of sleep!)

It also meant that Jerri would have to get up at 5:00 a.m. to take us to the ski basin and drive back.  She then had to transfer cars when she returned to Santa Fe and wait until Bart called or texted that we were going to go through with the hike.  Although Bart's calls and texts never went through, she figured out that we had gone on, and she was able to finish her day.

In the meantime, three groups of people had to meet at Cowles.  Carol and Annelle came from Santa Fe, Chuck and Clark came from Albuquerque, and Katie and Don came from the cabin.  They were to meet us at the lake, where we would get our lunches.  Guess again.  Unfortunately, a few of us went a little hungry since the horses didn't quite make it before we headed down.

Finally, we hoped we would all get the Cowles about the same time.  And glory be.  Within ten minutes, we were all gathered in the parking lot.  Kenneth is not the only one in the family who can
"logisticize."  I think Bart and I did a pretty good job!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Alternative Hiking

If you have read my last three posts, you know that we did some rather rigorous hiking.  Or some of us did.  Or some of us did some of the time.  It depends upon your perspective.

For the Wheeler Peak hike, Bart knew the hike might be a little hard for all of us but especially for the flatlanders.  Having left 1300 feet above sea level on Friday to hike to 13,000 feet above sea level on Saturday is pretty dramatic, and although Don and I had done stadium stairs, we knew it wasn't enough.  Luckily, Bart had a trick up his sleeve.

He had heard of a shuttle called Northside at Taos Ski Valley.  It was an SUV that was the perfect way to shave about 3 miles off the trip.  The hike was still hard, but the shuttle made it possible for Don and me to have the endurance to make the remainder of the hike.

For the Lake Katherine trip, I knew I wanted to walk, as the after effects of horse riding are too painful on my knee.  But several of the people who wanted to go preferred a different way.  So we took a two- pronged approach.  The walkers started at Santa Fe Ski Area to save a few miles; the others rode horses from Cowles.

By the time we saw the riders, it was raining and they were all decked out in their yellow ponchos.  And they got to wear the ponchos all the way back down.  By the time they had finished their 18 miles, one of the riders couldn't move her knee and was in the same kind of pain I usually am; two of them at least had saddle sores.  But they made it.

We were all tired and sore.  A few were cold and hungry.  But finishing the trip, either walking or riding, was exhilerating.  So I would say it was a successful day!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sixteen Miles . . . and What Do You Get?

Good old Tennessee Ernie Ford.  You may not remember the song 16 Tons, but it seems to fit our next hike.  Sixteen tons, what do you get?  Another day older and deeper in debt . . .

Well, for us it was Sixteen Miles, and what do you get?  Another sore toe and a little more wet . . .

This was not my smartest idea, but I am sure glad I was able to convince some people to go with me.

Because some people wanted to ride horses, and others wanted to walk, we had some logistics to take care of.  I will write about that tomorrow . . . it, in and of itself, was an interesting challenge.  But as it turned out, most of the walkers stayed in Santa Fe so that we could get to the ski area bright and early.

5:20 a.m. Bart was at our door, and amazingly, we were ready.  We met Travis at McDonald's, got our breakfast, and headed up the mountain.  Jerri dropped us at the ski lift at 6:45 a.m. and we began the long climb to Lake Katherine.  The first .8 of a mile is pretty arduous, so we took this picture when we topped out at the Wilderness Line.  (I see four really cool people and one in a dorky hat.  Oh well, no one consulted the fashion police on this one!)

The day was wonderfully cool and cloudy, so we were able to make good time.  Bart was shocked that we were able to cover in 2.5 hours what took us 4 hours the last time we did it.  I guess those stadium stairs worked!  When we arrived at Puerto Nambe, we had to decide whether to continue or not.  The clouds were gathering, but we decided we could go on.  Climb, climb, climb . . . the Little Engine that Could and her friends kept going up and up.  Once we reached the saddle near the top of Santa Fe Baldy, we began a treacherous downward descent.  I kept my eye looking toward the hill rather than down, as it was a sheer avalanche hill with numerous large glacial rocks.  "I think I can, I think I can," I kept saying, since heights are not my favorite.

The minute we arrived at the lake, it began to pour.  We ate our lunches . . . though some of our lunches were in the saddle bags that were coming up on the horses.  We kept trying to take pictures, but it was so cloudy, we couldn't take very many good ones.  Bart got this nice shot, but the steep cliffs leading to the lake hid behind the clouds.

After an hour of off and on rain, we decided to go ahead down because we couldn't wait much longer for the horses.  Just as we were leaving, the sun came out long enough to take this picture of two REI models and their friends.

We met the horses about 10 minutes from the lake - too far to go back and retrieve lunches.  The horses' riders managed to get a look at the lake before the sun hid behind the clouds.

We continued down the trail, some of us hungry, and within minutes, the heavens opened up.  It rained, sometimes very hard, for about three hours.  Once the rain quit and the sun came out, we were able to shed most of our rain gear.  We slogged along through the mud, arriving in the Cowles parking lot about 10 minutes before the horses.  Emily took this picture before the riders dismounted . . . she knew once they were off the horses, there would be no getting them back on.

The walkers went 16.2 miles; the riders rode 18.1.  We were all sore, but happy that we were able to see the beautiful Lake Katherine, even in the clouds!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Our trip to Wheeler Peak was awesome in many respects, including how much wildlife we saw.

On our way to Taos Ski Valley, we saw two elk crossing the road ahead of us.  Then we saw a deer on the side of the road.

As the shuttle took us up the hill, we saw this:

It is a big horn sheep sitting on the top of the hill.  Through my polarized sunglasses, he had a shiny aura around his body, but the camera didn't pick it up.  We knew we were in for a fun day, however, having seen three different species of large mammals within an hour.

After we left the shuttle, we saw three grouse, but Don only got a picture of the bush into which they escaped.

Not long after, we looked up the hill and saw this:

This sheep was not too scared of us . . . and waited for us to pay a toll before we could get through.

She came pretty close to us.  Although this picture was taken on telephoto, she was within 20 feet of Travis at one point.

We also saw a number of marmots . . . cute little guys that dig big holes, whistle to spread alarm, and look somewhat like a beaver without the flat tail.

I would say we had a banner day for finding wildlife.

Monday, July 9, 2012

At the Top of New Mexico

For several years, my brother Bart has been talking about climbing Mt. Wheeler, the highest peak in New Mexico.  This year it was going to work out that we could go, too, so foolishly, we signed on.  We didn't really know what we were getting into, but we thought we could manage it.  I mean, "How hard could it be?"  Frankly, we knew how hard . . . and I think both Don and I were pleasantly surprised at our ability to get to the top.  But more on that later . . .

Beginning after Memorial Day, I started walking stadium steps at Wichita State's Cessna Stadium.  I figured it would help.  I am SO glad I did that, though nothing could prepare me for the altitude.  When we left here on Friday morning, June 29, we were at 1300 ft above sea level.  By Saturday at noon we were at 13,160 feet.  Quite a change.

At 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, we left Angel Fire for Taos Ski Valley.  Here we gained our greatest advantage by catching a shuttle with Northside at Tao Ski Valley.  We met the driver in the parking lot at the ski area, and then she drove us by shuttle to 12,100 feet.  That saved us about 3 miles and 2000 feet of hiking.  Walking that extra way would have been brutal.  As it was, we lost about 1000 feet that we had to gain back, but it was far better than the alternative.  Here we are at about 8:00 a.m., bright eyed and bushy tailed!

Once we left the shuttle, we headed down and then up the hill.  While everyone else walked quite a bit ahead, I just kept on going . . . Travis called me the Little Engine That Could.

On the way up the hill, we ran into some very friendly big horn sheep.  They didn't come right up to us, but they certainly seemed like they might.  This in a later blog . . .

We walked along many ridges, and some of the landscape was spectacular.  This is Horseshoe Lake, steeply far below us.

The scenery was incredible.

First we had to reach Mt. Walter, which for many years was thought to be the highest mountain in New Mexico.  Don called it the "Hillary Steppe" since we still had a ways to go to reach Mt. Wheeler.

Finally after one last burst of energy, I made it, with Don not far behind.  An exhilarating climb for sure!

The biggest surprise was how many people were climbing to, coming from, or at the top . . . we met several people who were over 70, another man who was running to train for the Hard Rock 100 race, and numerous others who were doing just what we were.  After experiencing this, it is hard to imagine the crush of people on Everest.  But this is our Everest . . . and it was worth every step.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Oh Beautiful

For spacious skies

For amber waves of grain

For purple mountains majesties above the fruited plain

America, America God shed his grace for thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.