Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Picture This

Dennis and I drove up into an area just east of Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday. He needed to take some photographs of a cabin and the surrounding area for a commissioned painting. I tagged along in hopes of getting some nature shots. I wasn't disappointed.

This photo shows snowcapped Longs Peak on the right and Mt. Meeker on the left. Longs Peak is the highest mountain in the park (14,249 feet), and Meeker the second highest (13,911 feet).

To me, this is the quintessential West. Mountains, pines, wild grass and boulders. I love it. . .
This rock formation is fascinating. . .

Ok, I have to admit I got excited when I saw this photo after it downloaded. The faces of these graceful deer are so sweet. . .

Dennis and I closed on a house this afternoon. Stay tuned for photos and more information.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mom's Farmhouse Kitchen

I made oatmeal/raisin/walnut cookies today. Or maybe I made granola. I'm not sure. Just after I mixed in the flour, I discovered I had made a serious alteration in the recipe and left out 6 tablespoons of butter. "Ah-hah", I said to myself. "That's why the dough doesn't look right." Then I did what any red-blooded, thrifty baker would do, I added the rest of the butter and mixed it in. Next came the oatmeal, raisins and walnuts. 

The cookies came out of the oven pretty crumbly — and pieces fell off that looked like granola — but they taste great.. So, whether we have cookies or granola, we're happy.

Baking today brought back memories of my mom's farmhouse kitchen. Pink and gray print  wallpaper covered the walls. The wood trim and doors were painted pink. A gray metal 1950's table served as a work surface, as well as our dining table. The matching chairs were metal with gray vinyl. We had an old Norge refrigerator, a Gibson electric stove and a steel Murray kitchen cabinet and sink combination —all in white. 

My mother spent most of the daylight hours in the kitchen, but I don't think it bothered her. That room was more than a place to prepare food and eat it. It was a place where secrets were shared, life lessons were taught, and the news of the day was discussed (really). I still remember my mom's White treadle sewing machine in the corner, and the day she taught me to stitch my first seam. And a rare, below-zero, early spring night my dad brought in a cardboard box and placed it on the floor, next to the heat register. When I peered inside, a perfect newborn lamb greeted me. Its mother had died giving birth. My brother and I bottle fed the lamb until it was big enough to eat on its own. An empty Nehi "pop" bottle with a big, black rubber nipple filled with a special formula, did the trick.

Somewhere in our storage shed is a box of old family photos. I'm pretty sure if I sift through it, I'll find a picture of that kitchen. I think there's one of a little, curly-haired girl sitting on top of the kitchen table with a birthday cake in front of her. Two candles are burning in the cake's center. A laughing, twelve year-old boy is sitting to her right; a seven-year old boy, missing his two front teeth, to her left. 

The older boy is gone now, along with the father who was watching, and the mother who took the photo with her Brownie camera. The other boy and the little girl are now grandparents and live thousands of miles apart. 

Tomorrow I may be too busy to remember the pink, gray and white farmhouse kitchen and the people who gathered there. . .but not today.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
Philippians 1:3


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Dickens of a March Day

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. --Charles Dickens

Mr. Dickens could have been writing about this day in our little village. Looking out the french doors this morning, the bright sunshine and clear, blue skies deceived me into thinking a walk to Starbucks to meet a good friend and fellow writer would be a good idea. I completely underestimated the March wind. Brrrrr.

The outdoor temperature may cry winter, but I do see signs of spring.  Little patches of green grass in the backyard confirm that warmer days are within our grasp. . .

and it won't be long before we see this. . .
and this. . .

and, of course, this. . .

What signs of spring are you seeing?

         "He who rules over men righteously, Who rules in the fear of God,
    Is as the light of the morning when the sun rises, A morning without clouds,
         When the tender grass springs out of the earth,"
2 Samuel 23:3-4


Saturday, March 19, 2011

It's a Walk in the Park

Dennis and I spent a good portion of this morning in RMNP.  I'm always glad I have my camera with me when we go for a drive in the Park. These bulls were hanging out not far from the entrance. . .

They still have their antlers, but it won't be long before they shed them. 

This fella was off by himself. . .

You may not be able to tell from this photo, since the bird was too far away for a good shot, but that's a Mountain Bluebird perched on the rock. . .

An interesting fact about this bird is that only the female builds the nest. According to "The male sometimes acts as if he is helping, but he either brings no nest material or he drops it on the way." 

This would be akin to the human male either forgetting to pick up the gallon of milk on his way home from work, or dropping it in the driveway. (Just kidding. I personally know of no men who would do such a thing.)

The Black-billed Magpie were pretty busy in the Park this morning, too. . .

Maybe it's just me, but I felt this bird had a little bit of attitude. . .

Magpie are known for their unneighborly conduct, raiding the nests of other birds. However, they also like to land on the backs of large mammals, such as deer and moose, and clean off the ticks. Here in the Rockies, having a magpie on your back could be an asset.

There was a definite feeling of spring in the air, despite the wind. I hiked along Fall River in Endo Valley to get these shots. . .

Dennis got into the act in Moraine Park. . .

Isn't this a wonderful spot for a cabin?

I know there are other beautiful places to live besides the Colorado Rockies, but right now I can't think of any.

    The mountains rose; the valleys sank down
         To the place which You established for them. --Psalm 104:8


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cleaning Buddy

Today is the kind of day that revs me up like a NASCAR driver at the Indy 500. The outside temperature is 54 degrees and the sky is partly cloudy. Aroma from a fresh-brewed cup of coffee is tickling my nostrils and I'm relaxing in front of the open french door. One of my favorite spots. Yup, it's what I call a French Door Day and I'm lovin' it.

I just finished a writing project that's had me glued to my computer for over a week. (No, not my book. That's still a work in progress.) In celebration of reaching my deadline, I went for a brisk walk on Riverwalk. I stopped along the way to breathe in the fresh mountain air and watch the rushing water, and that's when I noticed the debris. Little bits of styrofoam here, a takeout coffee cup lid there, a blue plastic bag hung up on a rock. All previously hidden under pristine, white patches of ice, but now as the cover receded in the warm air, quite visible in the river .

And that got me to thinking. How many of us have debris lurking in our lives that we never let anyone see? Unattractive stuff lodged under our squeaky clean exteriors that we'd love to tidy up?  

I've been blessed over the years to always have at least one friend that I could allow a peek at the junk in my life. That one non-judgmental person, besides my husband, with whom I'm free to be the real me. One woman who doesn't gasp when a piece of my life litter is revealed. I've got a couple of friends like that right now. I met with one of them over coffee this morning. We talked about the areas of our lives that need some work. Some debris that needs to be cleaned up. She encouraged me. I encouraged her. We'll check in with each other next Wednesday to see how we're doing with our cleanup projects. 

Do you have a cleaning buddy in your life? 

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. — Hebrews 10:24


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Light the Fire and Make Banana Bread

Yesterday the daytime temperature here in the mountains reached 50-something. It felt like spring. I was hopeful. Very hopeful. And now. . .

it's snowing.

Welcome to the Colorado Rockies. . .where spring doesn't arrive until summer.

Ok, so we got a taste of spring. That's ok. We've got a fire in the fireplace and banana bread in the oven. Dennis just made popcorn (the smell of which is driving me crazy) and there's a stack of movies waiting to be slipped into the DVD player. The Reinkes know how to make the best of delayed spring.

This morning I took a few photos of Dennis' studio, just because it's such a pretty space.

These potted geraniums started out in our backyard last spring.  We moved them into the studio in the fall and just look at them. . .

Dennis has been caring for this geranium for a friend who is wintering in Arizona.  I'm not sure Dennis will give it back to her. . .

Another geranium on the south side of the studio. . .

This is the view from the east window, where the first two geranium plants reside. . .

With the view they have it's no wonder the geraniums have produced all those blooms.

I couldn't resist showing photos of Dennis' latest work. . .

My husband is an accomplished gardener and artist, makes a mean bowl of popcorn and knows how to build an excellent fire.  Those all seem like pretty good reasons to marry a man, if you ask me.

I like him so much I might just let him have some of my banana bread. . .

 I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing.  I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. -- Ezekiel 34:26

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

News Clothes

Yesterday morning I asked Dennis what he had planned for the day.

"I'm going to do laundry," says he, "I need to catch-up on the news."

This isn't as strange as it sounds.  See, we don't subscribe to cable TV, so we don't get televised news. In fact, we get no television programs at all. Which suits us fine. We watch movies, documentaries, painting videos. . .stuff like that.

So where does the laundry come in?  Well, our apartment doesn't have a washer and dryer, so Dennis takes our laundry to the laundromat. Which has a television. On which the news is broadcast to the patrons. Get the picture? (No pun intended.)

I appreciate the fact that my husband is willing to go to the laundromat every week. Personally, I hate it. I mean I really hate it. To mean it's an utter waste of time and completely unnatural to take your laundry for a drive every seven days. Especially in the snow and cold. Come on. You know I'm right.

As soon as Dennis and I buy a house, we're getting a washer and dryer and I'm taking back the laundry duties. Believe me, I'm fine with this. Because while our clothes are happily swishing around in the proper water temperature, or joyfully tumbling in the not-too-hot dryer, I'll be doing something else. In our own home. . .

But it won't be watching the news.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,
         And she smiles at the future.  -- Proverbs 31:25

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Life Lesson Learned from a Toaster

Let me set the scene for you. . .

It's lunchtime. I'm standing in front of the toaster. Waiting. . .waiting. . .waiting. My husband walks by.

Me: (enormous sigh) Honey, I think the toaster is about to go. It's taking longer and longer to toast bread.

Hubby: Well, when we run out of patience we'll buy a new one.

I cracked up at his retort and told him it was blog fodder. 

But guess what?  He's got a point.  Maybe I don't need to spend money on a new toaster. Maybe I just need to acquire more patience. 

Have you ever noticed how often the subject of patience comes up in ordinary conversation? Especially in relation to motoring. Just about every human has suffered from lack of patience on the highway. Well, except maybe Mother Theresa. It's hard to imagine she ever shook her fist and screamed at the driver in front of her, "You jerk! Can't you go any faster?"

Author Barbara Johnson described patience as "being able to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears." A wise woman. I wonder how many trips to the mechanic it took for her to learn that lesson.

A person’s wisdom yields patience;
   it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. -- Proverbs 19:11