Friendship

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McCook, Nebraska was our first delightful stop on our EPIC Summer road trip. All told, we drove more than 2800 miles, with quite a few early mornings to get them done. A lot, lot, but so fun, and BEAUTIFUL. We love you, America.

McCook is home to some great buildings, charming features, and Sehnert’s Dutch Oven Bakery, which I cannot recommend more highly. Very kindly service, great sandwiches, and delicious donuts! Woot.

Omaha!

The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is a stunner spanning the Missouri River. It takes walkers, who “Bob” across into Iowa, and back again. What a welcome get out the wiggles jaunt, after a long stretch in the car.

There’s a cool sculpture park on the Iowa side. This is made out of aluminum pie and roasting tins, or at least covered in them!

Iowa is delightfully hilly!

Elk Horn, Iowa is home to this fabulous collection of architecture of all sizes!

Des Moines namesake river and State Capitol of Iowa, facelift in progress.

Fort Des Moines, the birthplace of the capitol.

Our first Mid-West bar experience at the High Life Lounge (The Champagne of Bars) did not disappoint! Very old school decor, with awesome bar signs from the from the 60s and 70s, Mid-West nice service (so VERY), a namesake beer for Greg, of course, and crazy good fried cheese curds and deviled eggs. The ultimate!!

Wait, that’s not Greg! My dear friend Bob, who I have known since I was twelve (39 years!!), lives in Iowa and was our most excellent guide, showing us this fabulous Bridge of Madison County, John Wayne’s birth place (two below), a cool stone tower with beautiful view, and Fong’s, where we enjoyed super delicious Crab Rangoon pizza and a ridiculously strong Mai Tai. Yay for friendship!

Winterset, Iowa

Back soon with more adventure!

Greetings from yesterday’s hike at Castlewood Canyon! We met a former coworker of Greg’s, along with his wife and two adorable pooches. The wind was wild and woolly up top, but down in the canyon, it was cooler and only mildly breezy, thank goodness. With gratitude to recent rain and snow, it’s looking quite verdant for these parts. The babble of water was a pleasant addition to the tree breezes and dart of hummingbird sound track.

I haven’t a clue what these tiny flowers are, but there was a profusion of them dotting the trail, smelling rather exquisite.

Pike’s Peak! How I love seeing it from different angles and distances. In Arvada, atop the hill on Wadsworth, some seventy miles as the crow flies, it looks equally lovely, and a reminder of home while visiting my parents. It’s funny how I have no memory of it as a young person on my every day route to high school. How curious what grabs our attention at different ages.

Alan gives Seurat a view above the oaks. It was very much appreciated!

Emily and Alan were our most stellar company! They also endeared themselves to me by loving the green chile (updated recipe here) and prickly pear margaritas (scroll for recipe here) I made for our picnic lunch. Woot!

The hike was the cherry on top of an action packed four days. On Friday, my Aunt Mari and cousins (Stephanie and Stella) came for a visit before a trip to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (recently voted #3 in the nation, I think). I am not a zoo person, but am happy to fill people with food on their way. We shared a fun meal of mac and cheese and fine conversation.

Saturday brought Michael and Mary for one of our epic sleepovers. We indulged with pizza (the wood-fired oven is doing swell!), a nectarine and rhubarb cream pie (no photo, wah!), a riff on a famous Chimayo Cocktail, puzzling (a 500 and a 1000!), jewelry making (three bracelets by myself and Mary), dog walking, espresso sipping, and of course, the lovely company of two of our besties!

They also spoiled us with a new pan for the wood fired oven, a cool homemade smock for yours truly, and a very fine loaf of homemade rye bread, which we are still enjoying, slice by glorious slice.

We are full up on love, excellent company, and wonderful food. Yes, ma’am!

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Always excited to see each other, even just to share our morning coffee. Truth.

That time I bought a hammock-y bed for Juniper, so she didn’t have to be so hot and bothered on the cement of the porch, and she trembled in fear when sitting on it. No Mommy, you cannot make me like it or use it!

Latest jewelry creations. I am pleased as punch with how they turned out. That being said, the turquoise at left and silver & brass at right are examples of multiple failures finally gotten right. Each is probably the fourth iteration of the same or similar combination of beads not looking right for literally years. I’d string them, think they looked good, bring them home and decide otherwise. The message is to keep at it. Edit, edit, edit. Try, try, try.

The garden is off to the races, ladies and gents!

These are two of about one hundred nectarines! If they aren’t ravaged by birds, squirrels, raccoons, or hail by the time they ripen, it’s going to be one heck of a harvest!

Jeff came for a visit! We celebrated my birthday with a nice morning hike; pizza in our wood fired oven – that’s a Thai style, with my peanut sauce, chicken, peanuts and green onion up yonder; homemade ice cream – peanut butter with Reese’s cups and banana cheesecake with walnut polvorones, both STELLAR; AND, last but not least, a very fun evening of Terraforming Mars. Always the best of times. ALWAYS.

Michael, Mary, and Jesus came for a visit! The weather was warm enough to go without a sweater, the food and company so good. Juniper and Jesus were best pals, eating from the same plate, drinking from the same bowl, playing in their odd way. In one of those mind benders, the time spent together over a mere twenty-four hours morphed into a jolly few days of activity. We grilled, puzzled, chatted, laughed and laughed, walked, shopped, and ate and ate and ate.

It is an old refrain, but dang, what would we do without the support and company of our very best friends? I will never stop marveling at my wonderful circle of loved ones. With them, I may not be able to understand a world of war and poverty and senselessness, but I can certainly feel less alone in it, embraced in warmth and joy.

Farmer Greg broke out the big guns this year, buying a grow mat (the basement floor is very cold) and a light. There were a few seeds that never sprouted and a couple that did, then died, but overall, it’s been a successful start. He’s growing several varieties of pepper, tomato, nasturtium, ground cherry, beans, fennel, and zucchini. It is very exciting to watch!

We are nearly finished with our spring garden clean-up, with the front yard remaining, though it will be (or just seem) like ages before everything is well and truly green. There are leaves budding on the rose and fern bush, nascent lilac blooms, tulips and daffodils popping up and a lone pasque in full flower, which is always such a treat to witness.

The chickadees have made a nest in the bird house again, and I love their earnest endeavor to make it safe and cozy, mom and pop darting to and fro with every manner of material. We are all connected in our own little worlds, so sweet.

Hope this April day is a fine one in your neck of the woods…

elderberry flowers
Does anyone else remember Bert Cooper on Mad Men asking a whiskey person if they had any Spirit of Elderflower? Hilarious…
Oh, the sky!!
Red hot poker – they took a beating with the deep freeze, with hardly any coming up or blooming. Sad face.

First kohlrabi of the season, huzzah!! We like them roasted, in soup or salad, salad rolls, pretty much anyway we can get them. Plus, how cute is Farmer Greg?!

Speaking of Farmer Greg – he turned fifty! Looking good Mr. Half Century!

I made banana chocolate chip cake with banana frosting to celebrate. It was wonderful!

We also went out for burgers and a shingles shot because we REALLY know how to party. If you’re over fifty and haven’t been vaccinated against shingles, giddy-up and go. Seriously, for your very own sake. Unless your sores ooze in a public place (eew), you can’t give it to anyone, but goll-ee does it sound like a nightmare. I’ve heard horror stories of people not being able to tolerate a sheet on their body because of the pain. You can also have permanent nerve damage (ouch!) and multiple recurrences. No, thank you.

Mary and Michael visited us last weekend! How wonderful it was to be together without quarantining beforehand and then hope no one was asymptomatic, as we are all fully vaccinated. So many shots this year, oof. Did I mention we got our tetanus updated, too?

Jesus chills while we puzzle, of course. He’s an old man (almost fifteen!), but is as cute as when he was a puppy and very tolerant of Juniper wanting to romp.

Butterfly cherry pie! We grew all the cherries! Heck yeah…

Sunflower parting shot, ours are sure going like gangbusters this year…

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