Thursday, July 29, 2010

Helping Out, week of July 19, 2010


I offered to help the folks get ready for a party they were hosting for their Grange next week.  The big things on the list were getting the garage cleaned up (check that one off the list), then weeding the backyard and finally washing the windows (really wish you were here, Rod!!!).  Mom and I tried for several days to finish the weeding in the back yard, but, it was just too hot for her to work too long.  And if I had done it, well, lets just say she would have needed a LOT more mulch because I didn't  know what was weed and what was plant.  LOL

We were thrilled that a rainy day forced us inside to work on those windows.  Jodie had stopped over to take Dad to get a new phone, so, Mom and I finished up on the porch.  It had rained heavy the night before, so she was reluctant to work on the planters, but, I talked her into it. 


We started with the east end of the oval flowerbed and went to town.  We broke for lunch and because it was still cool we headed right back out to finish the little rectangular planter to the back.  By the time we were through, Mom had a plan in mind to divide the perennials later on and move things around a bit.  I mulched the bed the next morning before going camping!


That evening skies rolled in and we got another three inches of rain to add to the 2.5 inches the night before!  The yards need it around here! 


Camping at Rock Cut State Park, July 25-27, 2010

Jodie, Travis and I met out at Rock Cut on Sunday with two dogs in tow, a tent and the kayaks and bikes.  One of those dogs was actually a Brittany Spaniel puppy, Dakota, the Larson Clan's newest (and cutest) member.  The other was Bonnie Dog who was in a rare mood--barking, screaming, crazy terror trying to get every-dog-in-the-park's attention.  Needless to say, Bonnie's camping trip was cut short.  She got to stay home and  visit with her Grandparents!

So the relaxing camping did not exactly start out nice.  But we found a great level spot by the lake and pitched the tent and started a fire.  By the time it started cooling off we were sitting in front of a roaring fire (thanks mainly to Trav's fire starting skills) with the popcorn cooker going.  Ah, let the relaxation begin!  We enjoyed a nice walk around the camping area and the full  moon rising on the lake.   We were in bed early--about the time our neighbors across the road were setting up camp.

By 2 a.m. the kids who had driven in late were still going strong.  By 4:15 we hoped they were winding down, but, no!  Jodie reminded me to put in earplugs, and that was the end of that.  Although, Trav and I (and several of our camping neighbors) took strange delight in slamming car doors a bit earlier and harder than we might have those rowdies next door quieted down sooner.

After eating and showering, we took the kayaks out with puppy Dakota sitting in her Mom's lap.  She tried to slip out a couple times, but, all in all she did fine in the boat.  We are not sure if she was hot or tired or both, but, she finally settled down on the boat's cool floor toward the end.  After we got back we made pie iron pizza and enjoyed reliving our childhood.  We lived at Rock Cut every summer I can remember camping with family friends--the Wheelers, the Peases, the Browns, the Blumes and others.  These are great memories!!!  It is so nice to be able to come out and enjoy the park and the lake.

After lunch, Trav took one of the bikes and rode down to the Concession Stand to get a fishing license.  When he came back we all decided to go over to Olson Lake and check out the beach.  Since it was after 3 pm we opted not to pay the $3 a head to get in and instead spread our blankets out on the lawn and vegetated for about an hour.  Jodie and Trav went out on the kayaks for a bit before we started thinking about dinner and bonfire.

Garry joined us for dinner and brought by his words a "face cord" of wood--he wasn't far off.  So we had plenty of wood to stoke up the fire.  I caught up with him on his rotator cuff surgery and we all enjoyed the puppy's antics.  We dined on my famous Campground Slop--sorry Rod that name still sticks--and then later when my parents arrived, we broke out the popcorn cooker again and the marshmallow sticks for smores.

We were in bed by 10 p.m. and this time is was pretty quiet--the late arriving kids left during the day and the campground was not as busy on this Monday night.  The only thing affecting my sleep was a frog's croaking the whole night long.

Tuesday morning Jodie had to get up to go with Garry on a doctor appointment for his shoulder.  Gar had decided that since he was having trouble sleeping in his regular bed with his splint and surgery gizmo on, he better not even consider sleeping on the ground.  Hopefully he will be able to join us next month when Rod comes and we camp out another three nights after the Fair.

We had a lazy day, roasting hotdogs when we got hungry and just sitting enjoying the lake and the kids fishing all around us.  Jodie brushed up on Puppy Parenthood by reading a book on raising the perfect puppy.  I hope it goes better for her then it did with us and Bonnie.  LOL  After lunch we got packed up and we each headed back home.

I was able to get home early to help with the final preparations for Mom and Dad's dinner party.  They ended up with 19 people for their Grange party.  Dad supervised Roger while he grilled the chicken and I poured wine for those of us partaking.  The night went great--plenty of food and drink and company.  The only bad thing--I forgot to watch the finale of the Deadliest Catch!!!  So, now I have to find when  it will be rebroadcast!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mt Horeb Art Festival, July 17-18, 2010

Ali and I got started up to the Madison area after getting the van packed up after lunch on Friday.  Everybody had a hand in it--both Mom and Dad were helping with soap trimming and wrapping and even Sky and Ali helped.   This was just about the only weekend Ali would be able to go along on a show this summer...she is one busy kid.  The drive up was easy--no traffic until we hit Madison and even then it was pre-rush, so we were good.

The hotel turned out to be really nice...although I think the pool and slide were no big deal after the places Ali has been in the Dells!  We got unpacked, settled on a place to have dinner before heading out.  We found the Glass Nickle Pizza Company near us and ordered a "Cardiac Arrest" pizza which of course was the all the meats version.  We are good little farm girls after all!  LOL  It was terrific--this place has been voted Madison's best pizza the last 10 years--and we agreed.

We got back to the hotel and decided to work off some of the pizza in the "gym".  I was hoping that meant a nice long soak in the hot tub, but, Ali had to meet some requirements for volleyball, so we headed to the machines instead.  Ali, by the way, takes Jodie's place as a good Torturer.  We did about 10 minutes on each machine.  Ali was running and doing the bike at the highest level.  Let's just say I wasn't!!!

                                               One of the "Trollway" guys--this one is Tourist Troll!

We had to get to bed early for our 5 a.m. wakeup call.  We stopped at Macs for Ali before heading the last 15 or so miles to Mt Horeb.  We found our space but weren't too  impressed with it.  We seemed to be out of the flow of things on the first block of the show on a street that wasn't even closed to traffic.  But, after talking to one of the vendors across the street who  requested the same spot every year, we were relieved. 

The show got off to a good start and continued that way throughout most of the day.  We were to be opened until 5 p.m. and other than a few times where it was very slow, we kept busy.  Ali picked up the sales end of things very fast.  I was able to let her take over the big chair, handing out samples and helping with most things the customers needed.  It was so nice to have such a great assistant!

The show had a silent auction to benefit the local Art Council.  So, at one point I headed down to bid on a few items.  Most things I was interested in were already priced out of my range, so, I just tried to bid on the things that didn't seem to have much interest.  You never know, maybe I would end up with a few treasures!

Saturday at closing time, we got packed up quick and headed back into Madison to go to the West Towne shopping area.  I was trying to do some late birthday shopping for Ali--but that girl is hard to pin down.  LOL  We ended up with some really cute bracelets, earrings and a necklace--that one she is wearing on the top picture. Then we headed over to Olive Garden for dinner.  Our waiter was great and the eggplant rocked! 

                                          The back of the van on the way home--I swear it is organized!

We were able to take advantage of a great breakfast at the hotel on Sunday morning.  Omelets, waffles, sausage--yummy!  Sunday went by pretty quickly even though it was a much slower day.  Overall I would do this show again.  Our spot turned out to be excellent.  We were in the shade and people loved stopping by and cooling off...oh, and maybe buying a few bars of soap.  Even the pack out went smooth as we weren't packed into the street chaos in the other blocks of the show. 

Perhaps the most funny part of the day happened at Culvers (ice cream/burger place for those of you who aren't familiar).  We pulled into the drive through before getting on the highway and ordered two cones.  When we got to the window the kid wanted $14 dollars--obviously he had the wrong order.  He may have been new, who knows, but he took his time figuring out what we wanted FINALLY and then getting the total amount right (all though now that I think of it he shorted me a few bucks on the change!).  But when Ali and I saw the first ice cream cone, we started laughing and didn't stop laughing until we reached Madison.  The cones he gave us looked like a two year old had pulled them.  LOL  That and they had been sitting for about 15 minutes, melting.  When he handed me Ali's, I told him it was the wrong size--she wanted two scoops.  So, he said he would give her an additional scoop in a dish.  But then a couple minutes later he gives us a third, very melted cone.  LOL  And a minute later, a dish, and a minute after that a spoon!  LOL  Maybe you had to be there, but, I swear we must have been on candid camera.  That guy was a mess and he needs some more training on how to make a cone!  I am still laughing about the whole mess though!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summer Pictures from Illinois, July 2010

One of the things that is nice about being in Illinois in the summer is being able to catch the nephews and the nieces doing "their thing".  Over the last couple of weeks, I was able to see Matt's older girls swimming over at Roger's house. 

Last night, I got to pickup Ali and Skyler from Ali's volleyball practice (the red shirt pic at the top) out at ISC and take her to her cheer practice in Roscoe.  We of course HAD to stop for ice cream at Culvers on the way home to Grandma C's.  LOL

Downtown LaGrange Art Festival, July 10-11, 2010

I followed a tiny sliver of the moon over to the Chicago area early Saturday morning.  The colors of dawn on the eastern horizon were gorgeous--even at 5:00 a.m. which is about the time I made it to the turn south at O'Hare.  I am still getting used to the Chicago highways--make that the construction zones on the Chicago highways, so, I hoped I would not have any big delays making my 5:50 a.m. check-in time for the craft show. 

I got to my spot, unloaded the van and turned to introduce myself to my neighbors only to find the promoter  had put me right next to candlemakers.  Argh.  That necessitated a half hour delay while I explained the issue to a promoter with decades of show experience--someone who should KNOW this.  I was moved down one spot--which honestly did  not do any good.  Later I found she had another candlemaker three booths down on the other side of me--so that is three highly scented booths in 60 feet of linear space.  That is not fair to anyone of us and I will do the education thing in a letter to try to make sure it doesn't happen again.

The show itself was really nice.  LaGrange is a nice town with only one problem--very little parking downtown.  The artists all had to park over a mile away and be bussed to the show.  This was a problem for those of us used to bringing big roller carts, coolers, generators and tote boxes with us each day.  You cannot fit any of those things down the narrow aisles of a school bus easily.   LOL 

I was next to a jeweler from Crystal Lake, Karolyn, who was super busy with her regular customers.  She had a great following--she had good prices and lots of variety.  We chatted when things were slow and ended up trading soap for earrings.  On the other side I had a gal from West Chicago who did natural stone coasters--I liked my spot and my neighbors!

Saturday night after dinner with a couple crafters, I tried to find a way to wile away a few hours until it cooled down enough to camp in the van.  I ended up at the local theater to watch the Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz movie, "Knight and Day".  It was fun and the whole audience seemed to get into the silliness of the movie.  A nice, light way to spend the evening. 

Sunday afternoon right before packup brought some clouds and we knew from the  radar there was rain coming.  I was able to get my soap all tarped, the tent down and in my tote boxes before getting down to the bus stop for the long wait to the crafter parking.  By the time I got back it had rained, and it rained the whole time packing the van and on the drive from LaGrange to about Woodstock on I-90.  But, all in all a nice show and one I will probably keep on my schedule for 2011. 

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Roadtrip back to Illinois, June 30 -July 2, 2010

On Wednesday morning it was time to get on the road again.  We had time for a couple of pictures before we left, but, someone (who shall remain nameless) wasn't ready for Prime Time yet!  So, above is Dad and Uncle Bruce and below is a good family friend of Bruce and Suz, Carol Maynard.  She stopped and visited my booth so often during the Arts Festival I almost put her to work.  But, now that I think about it, she gave so many testimonials about the soap while she sat with us that I probably owe her a paycheck! 

On the drive out of Tooele we got a shot north of the city proper, but, you can get an idea of the views we were treated to each day.  From Bruce and Suz's kitchen we had this kind of view on two sides (and from the front of the house) and from the other side was the Great Salt Lake!

As usual we didn't have the camera ready for the view coming out of Salt Lake, but, the picture taken from a scenic view in Park City gives you a glimpse.   You can just make out some  of the ski runs from this view.  Wouldn't it have been fun to be there in 2002 when Bode Miller won his two medals???

Besides the mountain, foothills, wind turbines and the antelope, the other main feature we were intrigued by coming out and going home were the snow fences along the way.  And not just the puny ones you are likely to see in the midwest--these were monsters.  Several lines of them and very, very tall.  I wish we had a shot that would show the perspective.  It really made you think twice about attempting this drive in the wintertime.  And it underscored the reason for all the interstate closure gates at different exits along Nebraska and Wyoming. 

The final treat on the second day of driving was a long time coming.  Bruce had recommended we stop in the farming town of Kearney, Nebraska--which honestly reminded me more of a college town!!!  So, we decided to push and make it for lunch.  We drove around looking for a cute place for lunch and finally found the Tru Cafe in downtown Kearney.  It had good food, cold ice tea and even a little shopping spot--perfect for  Mom and me.  Then I decided to take  Mom out to the monument we passed while she was sleeping--one I had never heard of before--The Platte River Archway.  It was beautiful and maybe on another trip we can spend more time there.  I was trying to get a picture of the gorgeous metal sculpture on the top, but, the afternoon sun was killing the shots.

So, we finally made it to Rockford about 4 p.m. on Friday.  We tried to run the vehicle through a carwash, but, either I REALLY suck trying to do a carwash or the  carwash REALLY sucked...because the vehicle  had to be washed once by Dad and then run through a different carwash the next day! 

Ofir, Utah, June 29, 2010

We were able to get away on Tuesday morning to check out Bruce and Susan's camping spot up at Ophir--which is south of Tooele.  I have seen pictures from my Mom and Sister from years past, but, honestly nothing compares to actually being there.  I told Bruce he would have to evict me if Rod and I  ever were able to spend sometime up there. 


Ophir is one of the oldest communities in Utah and like many there, it got its start thanks to mining.  Today there are around 20 permanent residents with that number swelling to both part-year residents and visitors when it starts to warm up.  I think I would have to stay permanently, in fact--with the closest post office about 15 miles away and satellite internet--I could keep making soap!

The day we went  up, Mom was not feeling well so Bruce, Dad, Susan and I made the drive.  It was a beautiful warm  day with that Utah "breeze" blowing.  We checked out the little store, the park and most of the permanent houses.  Then we drove up to "Casa Cummings".  



Bruce and Susan both give tours of the historic village--the rock Jail was kept in it's original spot and then as other building were donated, they moved into spots in the village. All of the houses were restored with as many originals as they could find and family members of the original residents helped out.  Below are some pictures of the village:

Perhaps nothing tells the story here better than the next picture.  This place is very the picture below is the Town Hall in the center sitting next to a new residence to the left--and let's just say they are both lovely in their own right.  


I can't quite remember what we were trying to look at here, but, the there is no shortage of scenery, old mines and cool stuff to check out.  I do hope Rod and I can come up here some summer and explore!


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tooele Arts Festival, June 25-27, 2010

My Aunt Susan has been the director of the Arts Festival for quite a while.  In fact, Uncle Bruce and Cousin Brian and the whole rest of Susan's family (brother and three sisters and their families) are all involved to some extent along with a bevy of Tooele residents who give nearly 6+ months of their time to put on this three day, free event. 

Dad, Cousin Brian, Mom and Me!

When we got to Tooele on Wednesday, Bruce and the volunteer crew were down at the park marking booth spaces while Dad sat and enjoyed the gorgeous views and the weather.  Thursday, was set-up day, so Susan had a bunch of pieces (tables, baking rack and lots of table linens, baskets and greenery) I could use to make a display.  About noon we headed down to the park to find that Bruce had already got my tent put up and staked down.  Which was a good thing as the wind was whipping through the park at a pretty good clip.  Have I mentioned the wind yet?  I thought Florida had wind, but, alas no.  Those warm, balmy sea breezes are just that!  Oh, and the other thing that differs out in Utah--it is very, very dry.  My contacts were almost brittle and my throat needed lots of water to keep happy!  These are all things that people assured me that you get used to--like the humidity in Florida, I am sure!!!

So, after the booth was set up, and I think it turned out really nice, we helped out around the park with the last minute things that needed to be done.  Things that we couldn't mess up too bad anyway.  LOL  Then Susan had made dinner for the volunteer crew and we were invited so we enjoyed a nice pasta dinner at the park. 

Friday I did really well for a three day show, and I was impressed by the crowd that came out.  Apparently Tooele's government agencies work mostly a four day week, so, we had lots of families out enjoying the weather, the entertainment and the artwork.  I constantly had either Bruce or Susan escorting Art Fest volunteers into the booth, and then later, the committee members of the various boards and groups that both of them support in the community made their way to my booth.  It was also nice that my soap was featured in an advertisement in the local paper.  I really appreciated the extra effort they made on my behalf and I am happy to say my soap sales for all three days was really great. 

Mom and Dad with their new vase and artist, George Elmer

We had great weather all three days, just a bit of that wind I talked about on Friday.  The quality of the artists was pretty nice--when I had a chance to walk I found two potters and one woodworker I might buy from and a gal from California had some beautiful pressed flower "paintings" that were gorgeous!

The entertainment was also pretty wonderful.  Behind my booth on the southeast side of the park a big beer tent was set up in the pavilion  with a small stage.  I loved the acts playing on this stage--perfect for sitting down with some of your buddies and spending a few hours (or just listening with one ear from my tent!).  The big stage on the northwest side of the park had more entertainment.  Especially on Saturday night when the "Neil Diamond" look-a-like was performing.  Susan was especially happy being in the front row to enjoy the show--and that guy sounded just like the real Neil.   From the excited reports after the show, he had down all the moves too! 

Susan and Mom enjoy "Neil Diamond"

By Sunday the crew of volunteers was happy to be nearing the end of the show...I offered to make clones of each to get them through, but they did just fine bringing the show to its conclusion.  Sunday the pack out went just fine and the volunteers had things wrapped up pretty much by dark.  Susan said some of the usual "crisis" things happened--the pizza wagon brought down an overhead electrical wire, the beer had taps but no CO2 canisters and something happened with the scheduling--but all in all it was a great festival both for the community of Tooele and the artists participating.