Growing Up Next Door To Grandpa

Let me tell you, growing up with your own personal Grandpa living next door is just about the best thing that can happen to a kid. Having Grandma next door was really pretty good too, but she didn’t take you on adventures like Grandpa did. (Below, Grandma and Grandpa in 1967. BEFORE MY TIME, please note!)

Grandpa would let you steer the pickup no matter how old you were. Grandpa was up for a fishing trip at any time. Even if you were doing something that was work, it was fun with Grandpa. We would go out with him and “help irrigate” by making new ditches for the water with the pickup, often getting stuck in the process. Then we would “rrrrrrrooohhhm” back and forth until we either got out or got more stuck. If we got more stuck, then we would shoot the gun in the air until my Dad came and rescued us. Dad sure got a lot done on those days.

Another good way to spend time (and get us out of Mom’s hair for a few hours) was hunting rocks. Now, Grandpa knew to look for agates. Us kids were usually running around, getting cactus in our feet, and picking “good rocks” that were anything but agates but that we loved and treasured and carried home and insisted be kept in the porch. And Grandpa was always there to admire all of them.

The picture below is from 1989, Mom and Dad’s 25th Anniversary celebration. Their anniversary is in December but that is always unpredictable as far as weather is concerned.

Grandpa took me out in the pickup one time to help feed cows, I must have been three or four. Uncle Curtis was along too, and when we were up by a dam in the pasture, Uncle Curtis went to get out of the pickup, and I followed him and he didn’t know it, or maybe we were getting back in, but somehow I got my thumb slammed in the door. Of course Grandpa offered his immediate remedy to everything, which was to spit some tobacco juice on it. I believe I declined. Back to the house we went, and I even got taken into town to see the Dr. I don’t believe anything was seriously wrong, just really bruised and skin scraped off, and I got a wooden flute at the Dr.’s office for being good (that is what I remember MOST about the day). And then the nest time we were out in the pasture, Grandpa told me that draw (low place between the hills) was now called “Dumb Thumb Draw.” And so it was called for the next 25 years, at least.

Below: Celebrating my birthday and Grandpa’s birthday, which were only 9 days apart.1976 I think.

Grandpa died at age 99 in 2003. He had been married 73 years. What changes he saw in a lifetime. What memories for a kid. And this is just the beginning, there will be more to come…..and about Grandma Clarice and my other grandparents as well. I have never suffered from having an uninteresting family.

Grandma and Grandpa with my dad’s 1959 Chevy. (Note to Uncle Robert: Yes, I am going to get all these scans saved onto a CD for you soon!)

MaryAnne the Cat

We brought MaryAnne home from the ranch in SD in fall of 2009. We had to have Misty put to sleep that summer because of congestive heart failure, and Simon was 14 and fading fast after his companion of the last eight years was gone. We said we were NEVER going to bring home one of the ranch cats, but we fell in love with her over Labor Day weekend. And they we tried to find her to bring her home, and we couldn’t fine her. We looked and looked and called and called and rattled the food bowls and so on and so forth. And then we opened up the hood of my car, and there she was, sleeping on the engine. Apparently she intended to go home with us one way or another.

I like this picture because she looks like a little bulldog. She does have kind of short, stubby legs.

For some reason we don’t have many pictures of her as a kitten, possibly because we were facing up to the fact that Simon was in kidney failure and we had to let him go as well. It was a sad summer/fall that year.

She just marched in and took over the house. She was not afraid of Leo, not one bit, she looked him up and down and give him a hiss if he got too close and interfered with her inspection of things. He, however, was terrified of her.

A rare picture of Simon, Leo and MaryAnne. Simon sitting on heating pad for his old bones. MaryAnne being cute. Leo being disgruntled that he is no longer the cute one.

Current weight: 10.5 pounds, quite a lot less than her 20 pound brother which is probably why they don’t play as much as they could.

Hobbies: watching out the front upstairs window whenever available, snuggling in the crook of Mom’s arm in the morning at about 5:00 a.m.

Bad habits: Getting up on top of the entertainment center.

Likes: sparkle balls, knocking sparkle balls under the washer and dryer, sofa, chairs, etc. Sprawling on her back on the floor with her legs all askew in a very unladylike fashion, sleeping on Dad’s legs, eating/playing with ice chips that Mom drops on the kitchen floor, CHEESE!, butting in when we are trying to play with Leo.

Dislikes: Leo playing too rough, Mom trying to turn off the alarm when snuggling.

Little known facts: there was debate on naming her “Ripper.” Quite often we comment on how appropriate that would have been, after she has been ripping around the house.

The Leo the Cat Page

I thought I should do a page for each of the feline inhabitants of the house. Since my niece S. complained that all I ever write about is food, and I asked her dad what I should write about the, and he said “Probably your cats!” so I am going to go with that.

Leo was a rescue cat from the Longmont Humane Society. A friend of mine at work had a batch of foster kittens, and she knew we had two older cats. She kept telling me what a love bug Leo was, and how every one that visited her thought he was really special. She brought all the kittens into the office one day prior to taking them to the vet for shots. Ken and I talked about it, and since both of our cats were older, and Misty had a heart condition, and was not expected to live very long, we decided we would adopt Leo. This was in the summer of 2007.

Two comparisons for size sake: Then and a few years ago. He is even bigger now.

We used to put soft paws on him so he wouldn’t scratch the furniture. Now we have just given up on the furniture.

We were watching an Animal Planet show where they talked about the features of a Maine Coon cat, and there were some disturbing similarities. “M” in the fur above the eyes, check. Long hair, tabby coloring, check. Furry feet like a snowshoe rabbit, check. Large frame, uh, yes.

This is not to say that he isn’t capable of physical activity. This picture is from his glory days chasing the cat dancer toy.

He doesn’t jump quite that high right now, we are working on getting him to exercise more.

Hobbies: sitting in boxes. Being annoyed when MaryAnne gets to sit in a box, too.


Being annoyed at his mother for taking pictures.

Current weight: 20 pounds. I think we need to work on that, his father thinks he is just “big boned.” It is hard to get him to play because MaryAnne butts in and then  he just sits back and watches her.

Bad habits: trying to eat thread in Mom’s sewing room, (yes, we know that is bad, yes we try to keep him out of there), barfing, sleeping in the closet:

Biting things he shouldn’t:

Yes, that is my shoe.Other hobbies: Meowing sadly when he thinks everyone has left the house. Dragging socks and or a small stuffed kitten around the house.  Getting up inside the box spring of the bed when he hears the doorbell. Destroying Mom’s yarn if she isn’t careful and leaves it out.

Likes: Food, his cat Hammick, cat dancer toy. His mommy. His mommy brushing him and scratching him on the back of the neck. Spearmint instead of catnip. He likes his sister MaryAnne and would like to play with her more but she objects to being jumped on by someone who weighs twice as much as she does. Scratching post.

Dislikes: Strangers, loud noises. People who spend the night (he sits and growls at them when they come out of the spare bedroom, consider yourself warned.)

Nicknames: Leo Beo, Fuzzy Lumpkin, Podge bottom, Fancy Pants, Leoski, Ya big scudder.

Works in Progress – March 2012

There are several works in progress at the moment. Some of them are in process every day, some have been sadly neglected.

These quilt blocks are for my niece K. I try to get a pieced quilt, an embroidered quilt, and a crocheted afghan done for each niece or nephew within a year of them being born. Ever since three of them were born within 6 months of each other, I have been behind. This niece MAY receive this quilt in time for her 5th birthday this fall, I hope. I hope she is still fond of bunnies at that age. Next time I am picking a quilt that does not have 12 blocks. My goal is to get this one done in time to enter in the Boulder County Fair this summer.

The next four blocks. June is out of sequence because the transfer on that one didn’t work well and I need to do some tracing. And I see that I neglected to do July’s eyeball, poor rabbit. This pattern was a vintage pattern that came from Patternbee.

Close up of April.

I started these socks in a class on knitting two socks at once on one circular needle. I am not sure that I totally agree this is possible, when it comes to the heels. They are called “Kickline Socks” and I think this would have been a better pattern in a solid color yarn. I am not sure I like these, but they are nearly done. I think the last time I tried them on, they wouldn’t stay up, so I may rip them back part way or all the way and make a pattern I like better, so I could actually wear them, because I really like this yarn color, it is Lorna’s Laces in the colorway Lorakeet.

This sock is going to be the subject of future articles entitled: Can this sock be saved? I  made these ankle socks for my mom a few years ago, and she wore this one out, and then tried to fix it herself. They are toe-up socks, so I think I will be able to just rip it out down to the hole, and start re-knitting. I still have the yarn, so she lucked out there.

This is the “Nancy” one skein shrugigan. A friend at Knit Knight made one and I loved it, so am working on my own. By the Shaefer Yarn Company.

I realize I totally forgot the socks that I am currently working on, whoops. Maybe later this week.

And now for the big project, the color class project. Can you tell what it might be from my design wall? I have no mad drafting skillz, so I just taped out an approximation onto my design wall with masking tape. You can see my youngest niece A’s pieced quilt off to the side, I have ONE strip sewn together.

Here is a rough draft of the design. I decided to do a landscape, but not really a traditional one. And I wanted to draw a design by hand instead of with the computer this time.

It will be something along those lines, at least. We will see how it goes. I have it marked out to be pretty big, so I better get going on it. The colors of the tetrad I chose are blue, orange, yellow-green and red-violet.

Last Day in Nashville

It was our last day in Nashville and we had meetings scheduled for most of the day, but we did take time to drive to Cracker Barrel for breakfast rather than eat at the expensive hotel breakfast again, no pictures of that but it was delicious. Then, as long as we were so close, we HAD to visit Cooter’s Place, the Dukes of Hazzard Museum. This museum has memorabilia from the show, and most of the cars from the show, but mostly it has ALL of the merchandise the show generated. From Dukes of Hazzard Underoos to sleeping bags, video games, puzzles, and beach towels, they had it. It was fun to look at. We did not pay for the privilege of having our pictures taken sitting IN all the cars, but taking your picture in front of the cars was free.

Most favorite picture of myself in a while. No, we did not slide across the hood of the General Lee.

We went to meetings all afternoon and then decided to eat at the Italian restaurant, Ravello, at the Gaylord that night (I, of course, had scoped out the menu on the internet well beforehand.)

This is the bread with an amazing marinara dipping sauce. I think the sauce used crushed tomatoes, had a very nice texture. Mmmmmmm.

We ordered the antipasti selection for our appetizer – 3 different kinds of Italian cured meats, and 2 cheeses. They don’t specify which kinds on the menu, and I wasn’t taking notes, but one of the cheeses was a soft cheese with cow’s, goat’s, and sheep’s milk, and it was amazing. The hard cheese was also good, and the three cured meats were delicious. The side plate contains pickled vegetables, raspberry compote, and preserved figs, all of which combined well with the meat and cheese. The little triangles are pita bread.

I love soup, so of course I had to have the soup. This was carrot bisque with a citrus ricotta garnish. Again, amazing.

Going around the table, our entrees. Above: Aqua Pazza, classic spicy southern Italian seafood stew with lobster, scallops, shrimp, and mussels over pasta, lemon, and grilled ciabatta.

Angel hair shrimp scampi – tossed with San Marzano tomatoes, roasted eggplant, basil, and ricotta salata.

Gnocci in a Marsala mushroom ragu, with beef tenderloin tips and dulce gorgonzola.

I, of course, want to sample as many things as possible, so I ordered the appetizer sampler as my entree.

Hearth fired meatballs, in a house made tomato sauce with Bonnie Blue Chevre, fresh basil, and sambuca.

Charred beef carpaccio, seared tenderloin with crispy capers, shaved Grana Padano, red onion, and arugula, drizzled with Coloratura aioli. This was amazing, is essential Very Very Rare or raw beef, but it is cut so thin, and then seasoned so perfectly, it was the best thing I had all week. I know some of you are shuddering over the raw beef, but you know I will try anything once. I will definitely try this again.

Caprese – mozzarella burrata, slow roasted jewel box tomatoes, and fried basil leaves are drizzled with pesto and a balsamic reduction. I prefer my caprese with all fresh tomatoes, not roasted, but this was still good.

Polenta and asiago fonduta – creamy polenta dip with jumbo lump crab meat and grilled ciabatta. This was the blandest item of the sampler, all of the others were very tasty but this one just didn’t stand out. It was fine, just not my favorite.

The convention concluded with a trip to the Grand Old Opry with a concert set up just for our attendees. The featured entertainers were: Mike Snider (awesome mountain music/bluegrass and very funny), Sarah Darling, John Conlee (Rose Colored Glasses), Joey + Rory, and Darryl Worley. And, it pays to go over to thank the sponsors of the concert because then you might get invited backstage to meet Darryl Worley.

So all in all, a pretty good trip. I guess I can’t say my job is not interesting. And look, the biggest miracle is that I wore that white shirt all day and DIDN’T GET ANYTHING ON IT!

The Parthenon, Nashville

Friday afternoon we visited the Parthenon in Nashville. It was originally built as part of the Centennial Exposition in 1897 (out of plaster), and was then re-built out of sturdier materials. The building and the 42-foot tall statue of Athena inside are full scale replicas of the originals in ancient Greece.

We were interested in both the building and the art collection inside. The Parthenon houses the City of Nashville’s art collection, which was donated to the city in 1927 by James M. Cowan, an art collector who had spent part of his childhood in Tennessee and considered it his ancestral home. No photography was allowed in the art gallery, but some pictures are available online. Here is a link to the  Cowan Collection, with photographs of some of the paintings. I think my favorite was Widening Sea by Frederick Waugh – no picture, but this blog by Armand Cabrera has pictures of several of his works. Very turbulent seascape.

Neither one of us had any desire to have this one in our houses:

That dead fish is even more dead in person.

The art gallery visit was not enhanced by a screaming baby and a horde of college kids who were apparently there for a basketball tournament. Then again, when I was a college kid, I would not have been enthused about the art gallery either.

Exterior of the building. This one is all restored, the one in Greece has been damaged/looted over the ages and is missing most of the statues and friezes.

Look at that blue sky, does it look like a tornado warning is headed our way?

Once you are inside, there is a small admission fee, and then you can walk around the art gallery and displays of some of the history of the Nashville Parthenon, showing its history and how it was built, and re-built, and the renovations.  Upstairs you find the statue of Athena which was added to the Parthenon later, after funds were raised from private donations and school children collecting nickels and dimes.

Athena is 41 feet 10 inches tall, making her the tallest piece of indoor sculpture in the Western World. Yes, she is rather frightening.

This is the head of the medusa on her shield.

While we were at the Parthenon, they announced they were going to be closing an hour and 15 minutes early because of expected severe weather. When we got back to the Gaylord, it had clouded up and was starting to sprinkle. We were promptly sent into the service corridors by the hotel staff to wait out the tornado warning, which only took about a half an hour. Text messages were flying and everyone was checking in on Facebook. S. and I were really wishing we had our wine we bought at the plantation with us……

Arnold’s County Kitchen

Note to my niece: Sorry, no General Lee picture yet, I have to post that when I write about Saturday, and I am still writing about Friday! XXX000 love you!

When I found out I was going to Nashville, of course I checked into what area restaurants had been on “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.” (My favorite TV show.) There were a few in the area, but I thought the most authentic Southern-sounding one was Arnold’s Country Kitchen, which is cafeteria-style and serves “meat and three” – your choice of the meats they have that day and then you can pick three sides. Or two sides, or whatever you like.

My friend S. the artist (who gives invaluable advice on newt quilts) had diet RC Cola, BBQ beef on a jalapeno grit cake with jalapeno cheese sauce, grilled asparagus, and mashed potatoes and gravy. She said everything was excellent, especially the jalapeno cheese sauce.

I had a diet RC cola, roast beef, greens (with bacon and a little wasabi), squash casserole, and white beans. I would drink Diet RC regularly if you could find it around here.

They carved the roast beef right there in front of you, it was excellent. I was so excited to eat here I forgot to pay. I did go back and pay after I realized that. Everyone in line was busy talking about the expected tornado warning, and I just managed to wander through and not pay.

I don’t know what was in this squash casserole but it was very sweet and it was delicious.

Don’t you love the macro setting on this camera? Wouldn’t you like to get closer to my food?

These greens were great. Bacon, wasabi, probably a good quantity of bacon grease….

These white beans were great, another recipe I will try to figure out. I believe that is ham in there. Anyone who knows how to make these, please let me know.

A new culinary discovery! Bruce’s Tabasco Peppers in Vinegar. I don’t believe you can buy these in stores up here. I will look. They had them at our hotel but they wanted $10.95 for a bottle, and they are $1.99 online, so I think I will be ordering them if I can’t find them locally. I just put the vinegar on my meat and greens, I did not eat a pepper, although I am looking forward to that too.

The missing camera has been located! I apparently knocked it out of my bag when I was rummaging for something on the airplane, so thank goodness for Frontier Airlines. I have also lost my Blackberry on a Frontier flight, and got it back safe and sound, so I appreciate their good service.

Belle Meade Plantation, Tennessee

A few of us ventured out into the Greater Nashville Area to see some local sights. Friday morning, we visited the Belle Meade Plantation.

We couldn’t take picture inside the plantation house, but this is the front porch. Please note the bullet holes in the columns from the battle of Nashville. This was our tour guide, Tom.

The Plantation is actually in pretty good shape, and was not looted/destroyed as much as some others because the owner, General Harding was a friend of future vice president Andrew Johnson, who advised him to sign a loyalty oath, and when he didn’t, sent him to exile in Michigan. However, he did give protection to Mrs. Harding and the plantation. The main money maker for the plantation was thorough-bred horses.

The Plantation now includes a winery whose proceeds are used to support the maintenance of the plantation. There is evidence that used wine bottles were purchased by the plantation and those were probably used to make homemade wine.

We tasted a red muscadine (grapes native to the U.S.), a blackberry wine, their “Racing Silk” red, and a chardonnay (white). I purchased some of the muscadine, red, and blackberry, and had them shipped home. They are not here yet. I am hoping SOON.

The wine jellies you can see in front were also delicious.

The crypt on the Plantation. They dug up all the bodies in there and moved them to a cemetery. Still pretty creepy.

This little vine was quite happily growing out of the stone wall

An interesting old grist stone

Three grist stones.

The dairy and the view back to the plantation house.

The area around the plantation is more developed now, but the grounds are still pretty extensive. It was a very interesting tour, and besides the winery, they had a great gift shop, which featured painting by local artists. Both of us on the tour had paintings we wanted to take home. If you are in the area it is definitely worth a visit. They also had a restaurant there, but we had other plans for lunch (to be continued…..).

More Nashville

Sorry this is later than usual, but I was still recovering from the trip and didn’t have the energy to write one last night!

Well, I had been complaining about this convention that we attend every year being back in Nashville over and over again, but now I can see the reason why. I hadn’t been in Nashville since this convention in 2008, and we had to stay at a hotel across the street in 2008. This time we actually got to stay at the Gaylord Opryland, and it is a pretty nice hotel.  It is kind of spendy so I don’t know if I would stay there if it wasn’t a business trip, but it was a lovely place to stay. Also very handy to be at the convention hotel instead of across the street.

The Gaylord has three large interior atrium spaces, with tons of plants and flower and trees. Very relaxing to walk around and enjoy the greenery, especially if you are from somewhere that it is not so green right now!

I leave you with a few pictures from the atrium – more to follow! Now, I am trying to track down my camera, which disappeared somewhere between Nashville and Colorado, hoping it turns up (especially since it has FOOD pictures on it!)

This is one of my favorites.

It was HUMID in there too, as well as outside. My skin looked great!

More Southern Fried Goodness

Thursday night in Nashville, we ventured out to Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant. It was a Facebook recommendation and it was excellent.

I am very lucky to have two board members along who understand my quirks and don’t mind when I say “Don’t eat it yet, I have to take a picture.”

We had been told to try the fried green beans and Yazoo beer. I am not a beer person, but my two board members tried it and said it was great. I had a apple pie moonshine martini which was excellent.

I had the fried chicken, excellent.

It came with a corn cake, green beans, and mashed potatoes.

I was torn on whether to order the chicken or the shrimp and grits, so I was glad when one of my board members ordered the shrimp and grits, because then I got to sample them.

They had a lot of cardamom in them, so very Indian spicy tasting.

Mmmmmm. My other board member ordered chicken fried chicken. It was a little larger than he expected it to be.

He also gave his meal the thumbs up. We were too full for dessert. They also had a live bluegrass band, Quickfoot and the Slow Downers – they were really very enjoyable. We hadn’t been actively seeking live music, but it was really nice to have someone to listen to. A delightful evening! And on our return to the hotel, “weather alerts” including the unnecessarily apostrophed “temperatures expected to rise into the 70’s and 80’s which could lead to the outbreak of tornadoes” so that may be festive.