Saturday, September 25, 2010

A mountain drive

Today was a perfect day for a drive in the mountains to view the fall colors.  We loaded up the car with a cooler packed with sandwiches for lunch.  Our youngest child plugged in her earbuds, and 9-month-old Lilly, our springer spaniel, settled in for the trip.  We planned to stop along the route and visit some little towns and attractions, and we thought it would be a good opportunity to 'socialize' Lilly.  She is getting better, but still insists on 'woofing' at anything with four legs, be it a dog, a cat, and we soon discovered, large elk.

She desperately needs to be disciplined.  But, it's hard not to laugh when she 'woofs.'  She literally says, "Woof."  However, this is something we need to discourage.

We weren't alone on our drive.  I preferred our mode of transportation, but it was impressive to watch these bikers haul up hills at 8,000 feet.

The day was cool and clear, a beautiful September day.  It's been a long time since we've been tourists in our own state, but it's worth doing every so often.  Like seeing your neighborhood through new eyes.  We went through several little towns, including Lyons where we stopped at the farmer's market and I took a quick browse through this little shop.

For mountain folks, elk are a common site. Not so for us.  These two were butting heads just moments before I took the picture.

We had our picnic lunch by a lake near the famous Stanley Hotel.  (The setting for the movie The Shining.  I've never seen the movie, but I did see a beautiful wedding held on the front veranda years ago.)

We continued our drive on the Peak to Peak highway, and stopped at the beautiful Chapel on the Rock.  It was built in the 1930s on a huge granite rock, discovered by a priest and two friends when they were searching for the remnants of a meteor that had fallen.  I once attended a candlelight service there and it was an experience I won't forget.

One of the purposes of our trip was to see the fall colors.  There were so many beautiful views.  I didn't take a lot of pictures, but instead enjoyed the scenery.

On the second half of the drive, we went through another small mountain town, Nederland.  We went home by way of my inlaws house, where Dan worked with his dad on a house project, Em read a book, Lilly chased her shadow in the back yard, while my MIL and I went to Noodles & Co. to pick up supper.  Such a delightful day!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday's Fave Five

A look back at the best of this week, in bullet form:

*  Celebrating my son's birthday with family.  I love having a houseful of my favorite people.

*  Cooler temps and not running the air conditioning.  Open windows! 

*  Lunch with a friend on Thursday at Noodles & Co :P

*  Our town's own version of Dancing With the Stars.  Wonderful performances and they raised lots of money for charity.  Local celebs dancing with instructors from our very own dance studios.  Restaurants donated appetizers.  Other local celebs were the judges.  Such fun!

*  This quote:  Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were.  (Cherie Carter-Scott, author).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A warning and a Hail Mary . . .

I've been rushing around like a crazy person this week, and yesterday I was told, in no uncertain terms, to slow down.

It came in the form of flashing lights in my rear view mirror.  The kind that make my gut clench and think, oh, crappola.

The motorcycle police officer was very kind.

"I was speeding, wasn't I?" I asked sheepishly.

"Yes, you were.  31 in a 25 MPH zone.  The folks around here have asked us to encouage people to slow down."

He asked if I drove drove in this neighborhood very often.  Hardly ever, I said.  I was on my way from early morning mass, taking a back road because the main street was so busy.

He scribbled on a piece of paper and handed it to me, smiling.  "Here's a warning. . . and say one Hail Mary."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Joe!

Twenty-one years ago, we welcomed this beautiful, bouncing baby boy into our hearts. Twenty-one years ago! Is it possible?

We prayed that he would grow up healthy and strong, and that he would know God. . . 

We smiled when he took his first hike with Daddy . . .

Took pictures of his first haircut at Pop-pop's barber . . .
And we thought he was as cute as a button. . . .
We were amazed by his curiosity and intellect at such a young age.  We thought he walked on water.  (And the entire family knew we thought so!)

He was so proud the day he became a big brother. . .

And filled with excitement the day he finally got to start school.

He has kept us laughing and continues to laugh at himself. . .

And to this day, he has an insatiable curiosity for how the world works and how he can best serve it.

We couldn't be prouder of the young  man he has become.

We love you to pieces, Joey! xoxo

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday's Fave 5

Time for my favorite meme, hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story.  It's a great opportunity to look back at the week, count my blessings and sweep the dirt out the door.

1. Dan picked me up from the airport Monday night and we got home just around supper time.  My oldest son, Joe, had prepared a delicious meal of pork chops with onions and apples, and orzo, which I LOVE.  It was such a treat! and so good to be back home, sharing stories of the weekend.

2.  I started a woman's health class on Tuesday and I love it.  There are 13 women, all middle-aged, and our instructor is a dietitian.  We'll have lots of one-on-one time with her, and some personal time with an athletic trainer as well.  It's offered by a county health department, and I can't believe what we're getting for just a small fee.  It's a 12-week class.  So exciting!

3.  We have peaches and pears galore (a fundraiser by our local high school), and in addition to the fabulous dinner, my #1 son made a peach pie and a pear pie.  The pear is my fave -- to die for.

4.  Cooler weather.  Cool enough to require a sweatshirt in the mornings.  Have I mentioned how much I love the month of September?

5.  Walks with Abby, our "more mature" dog.  This morning we went for a walk around a lake in our area.  At first we had the whole place to ourselves, before we were joined by a huge flock of geese (I love watching them land on the water, skidding in for a stop), then a couple of fishermen.  It was a beautiful morning.

  If you'd like to join in, link up at Susanne's.  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bodega Bay

Part Two:)

On Sunday morning, Laurie and I drove to the coast, to Bodega Bay, to see the whales. There have been sightings for the past two weeks -- as many as 50 whales were reported to be seen!  We spotted about 30 "episodes" of whales surfacing.  I'm not sure how many were repeat performers! but it was exciting to see them spouting and flipping their tails above the surface.

First, a couple of views of the bay.

This is a humpback whale.  We're told that blue whales are also out there, and a white shark was seen a few days before.  This gentle giant was about 200 yards from shore.
Look closely, and you can see two tails. . .
The whales drew quite a crowd. . .
. . . of all shapes and sizes.
Such a beautiful spot.

On the drive back to Santa Rosa, we stopped for lunch in a little crossroads of a town called Duncan Mills.  It has the best shops and a lovely little place for lunch. 

We sat on the back patio, right next door to Mr. Trombly's Tea Shop.

I had such a great time with Laurie!  And on the way home, I stayed the night with my sister--in-law, Carol, who lives in Sacramento.  She and Sonia -- my other SIL:) -- have a beautiful home on five acres.  They have just started a small vineyard of their own.  When it's time for the first harvest, I sure hope they call me.  Being that I'm now an experienced 'grape picker' and all;)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wine Country

This is where I spent my weekend . . .

. . .in the heart of California Wine Country!

This is my very dear friend, Laurie.
We were bestest friends in college and have remained friends for 30 years!  She has one of the best jobs ever at Hafner Vineyard, a small family winery in beautiful Alexander Valley of Sonoma County. I was so fortunate to be invited to the annual "picking party" last Saturday to kick off the harvest season. Thanks to my darling DH, I was able to get away for the few days, with barely a week's notice. Grapes don't follow an exact calendar and when it's time to pick,! 

About 80 of us gathered early in the morning and headed out to the fields where we proceeded to pick 2 tons of grapes.  From here on out, the grapes are picked by machinery. . . 20 tons a day.  I'm glad we didn't have to pick 20 tons.
Here's the morning's harvest.  These little babies will one day be a deliciously rich and full-bodied chardonnay.

We watched as the grapes were run through a machine to remove the stems, and then crushed to bring out all the goodness and juiciness.  Oh my word, the juice is so delicious and sweet! THE best I've ever had.

Then, the party started and we were served a delicious feast.  Wine was plentiful!

Lunch was served in a beautiful, cool setting under the trees. . .
Here is the cave where the wine is tucked away to age gracefully. The greenery that grows along the wall and over the door is rosemary.  It is deliciously fragrant.  Lavendar grows in abundance and brushing up against it releases its sweet aroma.
There's lots and lots of wine! The tunnels wind around, joining together in places.  The children who were there for the day found endless entertainment, playing in the cool, dimly lit chambers.

The next day, Laurie and I drove to the coast and were treated to the sight of a large pod of whales, playing near the shore. More pictures tomorrow!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shufflin' off to . . .

. . . a weekend get-away.  Yahooo!

Preparing to go away is always the hardest part of the trip for me.  The planning, the flying or driving, following maps, getting lost . . . it's all part of the adventure.  But it's just so dang hard for me to leave  my home.  I love my home.  If I had my druthers, I would stay here and let all of the fun places, like Disneyland and the Grand Canyon come to me.  But that won't happen, so occasionally I have to make myself -- and I do mean Make.Myself  -- pack up and go somewhere.  I just have to bite the bullet and work through the anticipation of leaving my bed and my dogs and my own bathroom, and just Do It. And once, I'm out the door, in the car, on the plane, it's fine.  I just hate the idea of leaving.

And going by myself -- without my kids or, even worse, without my husband -- that's a whole 'nother level.  Once I'm at my destination, I always enjoy myself and wonder why I've been such a sissy.  It's a "condition," I'm sure, and there must be a name for it.  I think it's called Guilt:).

I won't tell you where I'm headed, but will have lots of pictures to share when I get back!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fall Festival

 Kellie, at This Blessed Mess, is having a Fall Festival!  We're celebrating anything and everything that says FALL.  So, if you have decorations, recipes, pictures, whatever, and would like to join in on the fun, head on over to Kellie's and link up! My fall decorating is simple this year, so I've put out just a few things.  This little scarecrow is very special to me.  He was handmade by my cousin, Colleen, years ago.  He just sings out "fall is here" and I think he's so cute!  Okay, no sentimental value here, but the bird cage on top of my corner hutch gets decorated for whatever the season.  I made this runner years ago, when we had our first house.  I like the colors and patterns in the fabric.  And there's the pumpkin Yankee Candle that smells so good.
The entry table holds a clock that was in my husband's family.  The little dish to the left of it was handpainted by his great aunt and has the key to wind up the clock.  The runner was hand quilted by my sister-in-law, Diane.  The colors are typically seen in Amish quilts.  I love everything "Amish."
The maple tree in the front yard is one of the first to start changing colors.  It's all  shades of golden and light green. A sure sign that Fall is on its way!
Thanks for stopping by!  Kellie's Fall Festival will run every Wednesday in September, so join in if you'd like!