Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween! Enjoy this little Shaun the Sheep Halloween clip.

Watch out for goblins and things that go bump in the night.

Monday, October 29, 2007

WWC--Inspire and Create

The Weekly Words Challenge, brought to you by the terrific Tink.

These words are getting tougher. But here it goes!

Inspire: I get inspired by yarn--the colors, the texture, the feel of it.

Create: Once inspired, something can be created. These are prayer shawls made by ladies in our group.

In other news, I'm thinking of following in Susan's shoes and participating in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Write a 50,000 word novel in November? Hmmmmm. Intriguing, and yet completely undoable! That's over 1,600 words a day! But what the hell. I'm looking for a challenge.

But right now, I have Halloween candy to buy. Yeah, nothing like waiting till the last minute.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fall Weekends Rock (Lots of Photos)

I love love love Fall. And I love love love Fall weekends. There's always something going on, and I'm living in a place that has cool Fall temperatures.

This weekend we visited a farm we buy food from through the Nebraska Co-op, and we had good friends over to carve pumpkins with us.

Kvam Family Farm is about an hour and half drive away, down a dirt road, amid other farms. It's a comfy setting of a few barns, a few cows, a few chickens, and a lot of cats. They think it's important that you know the farmer you buy from, so they held an "Open Farm Day" on Saturday.

This farm isn't that old, and the Kvams haven't come from a farming family--they've learned it all on the job, so to speak. They decided to live a healthier life, so they wanted to produce their own foods without preservatives and so forth. This didn't go over well with their pre-teen daughters, but they seem to enjoy the farm. Now older teens, they are polite, knowledgeable and well spoken as they gave us a tour of the farm.

We toured the different barns,

pet the calf, who decided I was tasty, so she kept licking me,

while the other cows were being milked,

scratched the dog's ears,

escaped being pecked by the chickens and gathered eggs,

and gave up trying to count all the cats.

The turkeys started out being penned up, but they grew tired of that, preferring their free roaming ways.

We also learned how to make vinegar cheese and keifer (a sour, yogurt-like milk drink made from raw milk) and just enjoyed hanging out with the family. I'm fascinated with artisan cheese makers, so I probably wore out my welcome asking questions about the milk and cheese. They aren't cheese makers, she's learning though.

We also carved pumpkins this weekend. I love carving pumpkins, and when you can do it with a group of friends, it's even more fun. Our friends and their two daughters came over for a lunch of red beans and rice and cornbread and an afternoon of cleaning out pumpkin guts.

This was dessert. It's a very rich and thick fudge-like cake. If you would like the recipe, I can email it to you. It takes a little work, but it's worth it.

Outlining the face

This is a precariously hanging bat

Finished products

So, how was your weekend?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Is It Friday Already?

Where did this week go? One minute I’m posting the word challenge photos, the next it’s Friday and I haven’t posted a damn thing. October is always busy, but this October seems to be overwhelmingly so. I could use a couple of more hours each day.

In less than a week, I’ve learned how to do needle turn appliqué, finished a prayer shawl and started another one, packaged up 6 shawls from other members of the group for giving out, had an MS check up where we decided to put me on yet another medication, met with a financial advisor, made a quick trip to the grocery store and forgot stuff so I’ll have to go again, picked up a sack load of food from the farmer’s co-op, and I still have a couple of more things to do.

But I got to mark a lot of stuff off my To Do list and that felt pretty good.

The meeting with the financial advisor wore me out., going through all our paperwork to give him an accurate picture of where we are was exhausting. We decided that since Al may retire from the AF in a few years, we might want to go over what we’ve done so far and see what else we should be doing. It’s still pretty early in this process, and it takes all my brain cells to follow what this man is saying. I’m the stereotypical girl/wife who glazes over with talk of investment plans. Al just laughs at me because I can’t seem to understand the difference between the IRAs and the mutual funds. To me they’re just a place we put money that we can use later—like a savings account with better interest.

This meeting was a little upsetting, though, when talk turned to long term health care and life insurance. It seems that my diagnosis of mild MS won’t be much of a hindrance if I want more life insurance, but it’s going to be difficult to impossible to get long term health care insurance. We had an opportunity years ago to get signed up through the AF, but we didn’t do it. You just don’t think about things like the costs of disability when you’re in your mid-30s.

And part of me still feels I’m too young to be worrying about and talking about retirement. I guess I’m just not good at long-term planning. I’m a great daydreamer of what I’d like, but I’m not very good at the actual planning and execution of that plan. Plus, Al and I need to improve our conversation skills so that we can talk about what we want. Al seems to respond to whatever is happening at the moment; for example, we’ve been doing repairs to the house and there always seems to be something else to do, so Al doesn’t want to own a house anymore. He likes the idea of a condo or townhouse or something. This was quite a shock to me when he blurted it out over a pint at the pub, considering that for the last few years I’ve talked about having a small house and some land out in the country. Then there’s the “what to do after the AF issue.” Al takes on his Eeyore voice and says “well, I’ll have to work.” But I’ve talked about how I thought we should teach and take the summers to go to Scotland, or maybe I’ll want to open my own shop or a small coffee shop and he could work for me. Or I could get a dream job and he could follow me around for a while. That would be brilliant!

Luckily, we seem to balance out. If he got out of the AF, I’m the one who says, “We can go anywhere!” He’s the one who says, “I can easily move into a contract job and we’d have pretty much the same security we have now.” And I think, “then we can vacation any where!” Maybe not anywhere, but we could make a trip every now and then to my beloved Highlands and his beloved whisky distilleries.

Until then, there’s still laundry to do, groceries to buy, meals to cook, errands to run, and bills to pay. You know, that regular life stuff that never goes away. Maybe I should add housekeeper, cook, and personal assistant to my dream list?

Have a great weekend, y’all.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Two weeks in a row! I'm on a roll!

The WWC is brought to us today by the tantalizing Tink! The words were disguise and reflection.

Yeah, typical reflection pic, but I like it. That's Devil's Tower in my rear view mirror.

For disguise, here are some pictures of some costumed Pugs. We went to Pug-oween at the Park, a fundraiser for the Pug Rescue.

There was an iPug

Hugh Heffner

and of course, his playboy bunny.

Did you play?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Weekend-Wrap Up

I had been looking forward to this weekend for weeks. With my good friend and quilting buddy, M, I attended a needlework retreat at a local state park 4-H camp. I don't do embroidery like so many of these talented ladies, but I do cross-stitch and had a project I've wanted to work on for years.

I love retreats. They are exactly what they sound like--to get away for every day things and relax and concentrate on something else. And I like camping and not worrying about make-up and hair and knowing that the only decision I have to make is what I want to do next (read, knit, write, sleep, hike).

This retreat was really wonderful. The ladies were so inviting and made me feel welcome even though I was no where near on their level. They do some of the most beautiful needlework, using a pattern just as a suggestion, deciding what kind of embroidery stitches would look best. I only know how to make the X of a cross-stitch, so that's what I do. But even though some people may look down on cross-stitching as a baser needlework, these ladies were encouraging and made me feel like part of the group. In so many group situations, I usually feel like an outsider, but I didn't this time and it was great.

The 4-H camp was in a beautiful setting, tucked away and tree-covered.

The rooms were a little stark, but I wouldn't be doing much in there except sleeping.

We brought our own linens and a flashlight, since it is a dark walk from the lodge center to the cabins.

Usually at retreats, there are workshops on new techniques and sometimes even a massage therapist and yoga sessions--anything to encourage relaxation and fun. But this was purely a work retreat. No frills, except meals were provided. My husband couldn't quite wrap his head around what I'd be doing, so I told him we'd get up, work on our projects and chat, eat breakfast, go back to stitching, eat lunch, take a walk maybe, continue stitching and chatting, eat dinner, and stitch into the wee hours. Then get up the next day and start all over again! It's heaven! But he got his own little heaven--he rode his motorcycle, hung out at the motorcycle shops, and went to Beertopia to buy some Belgium beers that we haven't tried before. So we both had a good weekend. Here are some more pictures

In the lodge

Ladies busy stitching

Charlie came for a visit

My project. Yes, that's a sheep. One down, 11 to go.

Time for lunch

Don't forget WWC tomorrow! The words are Disguise and Reflection.

Friday, October 19, 2007

South Dakota Part III

Our last day in South Dakota was more relaxed, just driving around seeing what we hadn’t yet and going to some shops.

Rapid City has a Dinosaur Park.

It was part of a WPA project in the 1930s, and it’s pretty entertaining. We drove up a curvy road that put a double S in “S curve” and the switchbacks would put a crick in your neck. I think that was part of the fun, at least while I was against the mountain side; it wasn’t so much fun going back down.

Anyway, the dinos are pretty weathered, but that ads to the fun. Al said it made them look scaly.

They aren't exactly terrifying

Next we headed onto to Lead to see the mine. Since the mine closed, Lead is holding on by a thread, surviving because it’s just down the street from Deadwood.

Then it was off to the scenery and more curves of Spearfish Canyon. It was a beautiful drive and we’re glad someone told us not to miss it.

On the way back to Rapid City, we stopped at their national cemetery.

We stopped at the Prairie Berry Winery (who could pass up a name like that?). They use local fruits and berries, so most of the wines were pear, chokeberry, and things like that. They were pretty good if you like sweet wines, but if you're a fan of a dry cabernet, this wouldn't be your place. But the tasting was free, and it's family-owned and very friendly.

Hungry for an early dinner, we headed to a BBQ place I had read about. It was under new management and was our only disappointment on this trip. We did however see this sign at the tattoo shop, which cracked us up.

I really wanted to go in and see the new colors.

It seemed fitting that our last night in South Dakota would have the most glorious sunset.

The ride home was, again, uneventful. We did make a few stops at the famous Wall Drug (You try ignoring a billboard every mile). It takes up one side of Main Street in this tiny, tiny town.

We also stopped to see the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. They were still working on it; they change it every year. It’s basically paint by numbers, but it’s with corn.

We also saw some unusual sights

But mostly, it was just miles and miles or miles and miles.

And worth driving every one of them.