Thursday, July 29, 2010

What I Do When I Can't Sleep

It's way too early to be up and writing (1:30 AM MST), but an inability to sleep has driven me to my laptop. Dennis and I have been looking at property to buy for a new homestead. It's been fun, but it has distracted me from blogging.  So, as long as I'm awake, I may as well update my blog.

We take our coffee to the Rocky Mountain National Park most mornings for Bible study and photo shoots. I've been making slideshows of the photos I take. Here's one of my recent endeavors for your viewing enjoyment.  Nighty-nite.  -- NR

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Write Desk

It was my first time. He stood there and watched me saunter across the green lawn. Intimidated by his mature stance, for a moment the thought of turning back blocked my progress. Strong desire won out and pushed me toward him.  His eyes took inventory of my face.  My eyes widened and breathlessly I asked, "How much for the pink chest of drawers?"  

He straightened his back and shot me a doubtful look. "Five dollars."  

My lips curled into a smile as I reached into my pocket and pulled out a crisp Abe Lincoln, saved from my babysitting job.  I plunked it down on the table, looked straight into the stranger's eyes and declared, "I'll take it."

The successful purchase of that painted pink chest started a love affair with previously-owned furniture that has stayed with me all my life.  At the tender age of twelve my mother had introduced me to the joy of "the find".  From the pink chest to an antique Morris chair purchased a year later for twenty dollars. From the Morris chair to a turn-of-the-century rocking chair discovered under my grandfather's summer cottage at age sixteen. Eventually I graduated to entire rooms of furniture.  When Dennis and I moved to Estes Park in April we purchased most of our furniture from ads on Craig's List.  One of our excursions to pick up a chest in Loveland led to a stop at the ARC Thrift Store. There amongst an array of beat up furniture stood a lovely little mission style desk.  I licked my lips and looked under the center drawer. The "Stickley Brothers Co. -  Grand Rapids" stamp almost made me squeal.  My heart raced faster than my feet could take me to the front desk. "How much for the little wood desk?" I asked the woman at the counter.  She lifted a handset and called the furniture handler to the location of the desk, then advised me to meet him there.  

"You interested in this desk?" he asked.

"Yes.  How much?"

"One hundred dollars."

"I'll take it."

"There sure has been a lot of interest in this desk," he said. "Everyone's waiting until Saturday when everything in the store goes on sale for half price."

"Well, I'm not waiting until Saturday.  Load it up."

And that's how we came to own the Stickley desk you see pictured above. I took this photograph today to send to my friend Bob, a Stickley expert.  Someone has expressed interest in buying my desk and I have no idea what it's worth.  Bob turned me on to a website that gives information on arts and crafts style furniture.  My desk is not a Gustav Stickley model, which would make it highly valuable.  But according to the website the Stickley logo stamp on my desk indicates it's still high quality furniture and of value to some collectors.  It really doesn't matter to me.  I've become pretty fond of  the desk.  It's where I write. Which makes it valuable and just the write desk for me. -- NR

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Confessions of a Farmers' Market Junkie

The Estes Valley Farmers Market is open every Thursday from 8:00 - 11:30 AM at the Fairgrounds. For weeks I've wanted to check it out. Today I headed for the market with green shopping bag in hand. Vegetables and fruits in all their earthy splendor beckoned to me like Sirens. Green and yellow peppers, firm cucumbers, petite zucchini, luscious peaches and gorgeous tomatoes.  The fresh floral bouquets knew my name, "Pssst, Nancy, over here.  See?  You know you want us." 

I'm a chump for fresh flowers.  Back in the early 90's I planted a cutting garden.  One of the very best decisions I ever made. Beautiful flowers graced our home all summer through early fall.  Flowers on the tables, on nightstands, on top of the piano, in the bath -- well, you get the idea. Now that I live in an apartment, the Farmers' Market is an acceptable alternative to my own garden for fresh flowers. A bit of a splurge, perhaps, but I find them irresistible. Fortunately, my husband feels the same way.  He grinned like a little boy in a Lego shop when he saw the beautiful bouquet on our dining table this morning.  His smile topped the charts when he spied the Wandering Jew near the french doors.

Dennis and I have begun to look at property to buy. If the search goes well, by this time next year we may have our own garden. For now I'm just happy to have a local farmers' market to feed my addiction. --NR

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Simple Pleasures

It's hard to beat simple pleasures. Even as a little girl on an Illinois farm, I enjoyed the simple things in life.  Of course, we didn't know they were simple things then. It's just the way we and all our neighbors lived. One of my fondest memories is summer days spent on our screened porch with the summer edition of My Weekly Reader. What bliss to stretch out on the quilt-covered sofa and devour the little periodical from front to back between sips of real lemonade, made from fresh lemons and simple syrup; not that powdered junk in a can that everyone calls lemonade these days.  

Here's a recipe for made-from-scratch lemonade from the Simple Recipes website that's pretty close to my mom's:

Perfect Lemonade

1 cup sugar (can reduce to 3/4 cup)
1 cup water (for the simple syrup)
1 cup lemon juice
3 to 4 cups cold water (to dilute)

1 Make simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely.
2 While the sugar is dissolving, use a juicer to extract the juice from 4 to 6 lemons, enough for one cup of juice.
3 Add the juice and the sugar water to a pitcher. Add 3 to 4 cups of cold water, more or less to the desired strength. Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes. If the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it.
Serve with ice, sliced lemons.
Serves 6.

In the category of simple pleasures, a Thursday drive to Pinewood with the intent to photograph poppies did not disappoint.  Not only did Dennis and I get some outstanding shots, but we also made a new friend named Joyce. She came by with her two dogs while we were snapping photos of poppies along the edge of her property. "Hi," she said, "you're welcome to go in back of my house to take photographs. There are some beautiful poppies there."  We said "yes" to her gracious offer faster than you can say "poppy pics" and discovered a treasure of natural beauty.  I asked Joyce if I could photograph her and the pups for my blog and she agreed.  She's a beautiful person.

The first chapter of my book can now be viewed on my blog. See the new page with the book title "Breakfast at the Aurora Borealis". Currently I'm working on Chapter Seven.

Have a great Fourth of July and remember to thank God for your freedom, and all those who served in the armed forces to protect it. -- NR