July 31, 2014

The Land Between The Lakes...

Yesterday, we made our way from Champaign, Illinois to Buffalo, Tennessee.
We decided that we'd take in a little scenery off the Interstates and drive the
Woodlands Trace National Scenic Byway, also known as
"The Land Between The Lakes" between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.

This route spans approximately 50 miles and runs through both Kentucky and
Tennessee. While we stayed mainly on the highway, there are many things to
explore along the way. They are over 300 miles of natural shoreline, 200 miles
of paved roads, 500 miles of trails and 170,000 acres of forest and open lands.

There are also public camping facilities, horseback riding and environmental
education programs throughout this National Recreation Area. The only homes
 you'll find within the park are located on the very south end of the trace. The
rest were bought (or acquired through "eminent domain") by the Federal 
government during the Kennedy administration in the 1960s.

Handsome and I stopped at the Golden Pond Visitor Center (located about half
way through our route) to go through their educational exhibits and planetarium. 
We also toured the grounds to see their wildlife exhibits and wildflower gardens.

We saw many cemetery signs, so when we were at the Visitor Center, I asked 
the gentleman working behind the counter about them. He told me that there
are over two hundred cemeteries on the route. Prior to the 1960s, there were
many people who lived in the area, but they were either bought or forced out 
by the government. While people were no longer allowed to live in the area, 
their dead were permitted to stay. He told me that later on, contemporary 
family members were allowed to be buried in their family plots. Therefore, 
one visiting any of the local cemeteries might find headstones with
current dates intermingled with those from as far back as the 1700s. 
One of the storyboards that particularly caught my attention was about the
"Trail of Tears". You can click on this image to read the story for yourself, but
it is sad, indeed. I think of the harsh and cruel way our government treated the
Native Americans (particularly, in this story, the Cherokee Nation) and I wish
they had treated all Indian nations in the way they deserved to be treated: as
the owners of their ancestral lands and homes. They deserved more respect.
As we neared the 3/4 mark on our route, we saw this structure near the road.
We pulled into the parking area to learn more about its purpose and history.
In this instance, photographs can better tell the story than I.
I was surprised to learn that there had once been a structure at the top of the
furnace. (By the way, we did see another furnace structure within twenty miles
of leaving the Trace. It wasn't nearly as well-kept as this one, and looked unstable.)
  This is a better view of the entire structure as we viewed it. At the base,
the interior stonework stops, leaving an opening for the insertion and 
removal of the sand castings that would catch the molten ore.
Of course, Handsome took a picture of me so you'd know we were actually
there! (I insisted that it was mostly so you'd see the scale of the furnace.)  
While we drove, we saw many (shy and quick) deer and turkeys. After 
taking lots of blurry photographs, I finally gave up and just enjoyed the view. 
If you ever find yourself in this part of the country, I strongly suggest allowing 
a few days from your travels to camp, swim, and stop at all the sights along 
the way. There's a lot to be learned on this short drive through history.

We stopped for the night at a KOA in Buffalo, Tennessee (located west and
a little south of Nashville). Today, we'll have an easy drive to Clanton, AL.
More on our adventures tomorrow!

July 30, 2014

Turning For Home...

This is the view from our camper at our overnight stop.
We pulled into D & W Lake RV Park in Champaign, IL our first night moving
south. Although it's not far off Interstate 57, it's very quiet and peaceful. We stayed
here previously, and it's such a nice place that we looked forward to returning.
When we make single-night stops, we keep the truck and Flying Cloud hooked up.
Because most of Illinois (at least around the Interstate) is flat, this plan works well.
As Handsome made camp for us, I took Tag for a little walk along the lake.
The wind rustled through the cattails and the sun shone like a warm welcome.
We walked in clover and thanked God (and Handsome) for another safe day of driving.
Tag is the greatest "traveling dog", but I think he was happy to
be out of the truck, snuffling in the grass...and getting his dinner!

Hump Day, and we should make it more than half way home today.
It's so much fun traveling in our comfy home-away-from-home, but
Handsome, Tag and I will be happy to sleep in our "big" bed soon.

There's no rush, so we may yet take a little side trip. We'll decide 
along the way, and I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.
Thanks, as always, for traveling with us. We enjoy having the company!

July 29, 2014

Tuesdays With Tag - In Search of The Faeries of Breezy Hill...

 Hi, Everybody!!!
I'm so excited. I finally get to tell you about my biggest adventure 
 since comin' to the Wisconsin campground. There's magic afoot here!

 You might remember that I've been spendin' as much time as I can with
these two young ladies. (They're my our granddaughters.) When last I
saw them, The Little Redhead said, "Did you know that I adore you?"

 Me? Can you believe that she adores me???
You do know that I'll take all the adoration I can get. Non-stop.

Well, these adorin' grandchildren shared a book with me recently.
 It's called "How To Find Flower Fairies".
(I prefer the Ancient Corgish spelling, "Faeries" myself.)
 Inside its pages are lots of pop-ups and flaps...and so much information
that children should know about locatin' Faeries. They could be Treetop or
Forest Faeries or Meadow Faeries, or Faeries from many other places. 
They're actually all around us, if we just take the time to look for them.

Now, while youngsters might need special teachin', this is a talent 
that has always come naturally to their magical Faerie steeds, the Corgis.

I suggested that Mom bring along her camera for a day in the campground
because I had noticed that there were very unique Faerie formations here.
 This is the first location that caught my attention. I had to check it out. It's
 actually in the tree that has our number marker for our campsight, and I
 seem to remember ancient lore regarding Faerie affinity for locations with
 ready-made addresses. (That way they can send Faerie dust to each other.)
 You'll notice that there are hidden spaces behind this front facade. I think
it's a doorway. I could smell that there had been Faeries here recently. 

Maybe this is where Faeries gather for their weekly or monthly 
councils to plan rabbit trainin' schedules or perhaps who will be feedin' 
the birds for the upcoming moon cycles? It's been a long while since any 
Corgi has attended any such meetin' so I can only imagine these things.
 I did notice a gnome rootin' around the base of one of the trees.
He seemed like a friendly enough sort, but he was all tight-lipped when
 I approached him on the subject of local Faeries. He just smiled and
sent me on my way. (Gnomes are just harmless troublemakers anyhow.)
 I happened upon a baby rabbit, too. Man, I wanted to chase him somethin'
fierce, but I kept my cool and turned my thoughts to more pressin' matters.
I did make a note of his whereabouts for future reference, though.
 Sometimes, you just have to get real quiet and move into "stealth mode".
(Can you see me? Right. I didn't think so.)

Faeries have very sensitive hearin', but so do Corgis. We don't miss
much, unless it's on purpose, of course. Then we can be deaf as
doornails! (It's called "selective hearing" in some circles.)
 Heh, heh. Here I am. No time to goof off. Gotta keep my nose
down because I'm gettin' all itchy. My "Faerie sense" is kickin' in.
 Oh, boy! Look what I found.
A tiny warren of enchanted baby bunnies!!! They froze up when they saw 
me and didn't move a muscle. Obviously, they weren't any help either.
 What's this?
"Hey, Mom. Check this out. I think we just missed 'em."
 I found evidence of a Faerie, obviously a hard worker, too.
This one has been collectin' acorns and clover blossoms.

Did you know that if you pull apart a clover blossom and suck on the ends
 of the flower closest to the bud, it's sweet and syrupy? Yup. I'm not kiddin'.
Mom used to do it when she was a kid. She knew Faerie secrets way back then!

I just bet this Faerie is collectin' clovers to make a natural sweetener for
 their chicory or dandelion teas. They might even drink lemon grass tea! I
wonder what he or she is gonna put in that empty bucket. What do you think?

One thing I was sure of though...we're gettin' real close to findin' a Faerie.
 Then, I turned around to the next tree and look what I found. Tucked into a
soft bed of moss and grasses - and hidden in the shade of flowerin' air plants - 
I sneaked upon the sweetest, teeny, tiny sleepin' face. I nearly missed it!
Shhhhhhh. Be very quiet. 
We don't want to disturb this little one. It's a Faerie baby!
 The baby was restin' on a pillow of clovers with a headboard of weathered 
oak leaves. The Faeries left a Lady Bug to guard the little one while they work.

Lady Bugs are very vigilant and, in case of danger, they fly away to alert the
 Faeries to return quickly. I bet you didn't know they make the best of nannies.

She knew that I would neither wake the child, nor harm it, so we were able
to sit and admire her precious charge for a little while and then quietly leave.
 So, there you have my very special story this week of my adventures
in search of the "Faeries of Breezy Hill". If you keep your eyes open, you
 can see their little lanterns twinkle in the moonlight just like lightning bugs!
We'll return again next year to continue our search. I'm sure the Lady Bug 
will tell the Faeries that I was gentle and respectful this year. Perhaps the 
next time I'm here, they'll come out to visit with me. I'm sure hopin' so. 
Maybe, I''ll even be allowed to act as their trusted steed one full, moonlit
night, just like the Corgis of ancient days. That would be an honor, indeed.
We're leavin' Wisconsin tomorrow to start back home. Next week, I'll
tell you how our trip went and then settle back into my regular routine.
I know. Lyin' around, swimmin' and chasin' lizards isn't exactly glamorous,
but it's the life I love and I'm anxious to get back to it. 'til next week...
"Wag Like Ya Mean It!"

July 28, 2014

A Last Wisconsin Weekend...

Me with my BFF Lee
This past weekend was a whirlwind of family gatherings. It seems that as we
near the end of our time here, our dance cards fill more quickly. So it was on
Saturday and Sunday. My weekend began with coffee and conversation with
my BFF Lee. We never really get enough time together on these trips. Ever.
Precious moments with our granddaughters
Then, I was off to a lunch date with our younger daughter-in-love and our two
fun and beautiful granddaughters. We ate at one of their favorite local restaurants
and then walked around town a bit to find a few things I needed to get as gifts.

I always enjoy talking with our girls and getting caught up on their lives...
and listening to their storytelling is always enlightening and amusing.
Adults: L-r: Josh, Johanna, Eli, me, Nathaniel, Chelsea, Aaron and Amanda (and the kidlets)
Saturday ended with a drive to Beaver Dam, WI to meet my Aunt Eli, her
three grown children and their families. My cousins are just the best, and 
all of us laughed over an Italian dinner and Eli's special touch for my cousin,
Nate's Birthday celebration. (That's him peeking over my shoulder.)
Nate with the kidlets wearing famous masks
She made face masks of famous people who share his Birthdate...and then
his nieces and nephews held them up to surprise him. (For this party, there
were Kevin Spacey, Sandra Bullock and Mick Jagger masks. Oh, boy!)

Goodness, I remember how much fun it was to be thirty one, and now he'll
have a year to enjoy it for himself. It was hard to end the evening to head home.
Me with my niece, Keeley
  Sunday began with lunch with my niece, Keeley and her grandma Sally.
Sally was kind and generous enough to offer one of her cars to me to use the
entire time we were in Wisconsin. Aunty Margaret followed me over to Sally's
so that I could return her car today. We visited over a lovely Waldorf salad lunch,
and, after hugs and goodbyes, Aunty Margaret brought me back to the Flying 
Cloud to find Handsome had returned from making circus music the wilds of 
Nebraska. (He attended the summer Windjammers Convention all last week.)
Son #1, our lovely daughter-in-love and grandson - and me with Handsome (being serious) :D
Handsome and I spent a few hours catching up on the events of the week, and
then we jumped back in our chariot to meet Son #1 and his family for dinner.
I've gotten really good at asking complete and total strangers to take my camera
  and (after a quick lesson in its operation) getting them to snap really great memories
for our album. Of course, there is usually silliness involved and this one was no
exception. After hugs and kisses and promises to see each other again soon, we
parted company and headed to our own homes for another good night's sleep.
Today, we'll be packing and preparing to leave Wisconsin. I've loved every 
new memory we created with our friends and loved ones we saw on this trip. 
Still, there never seems to be quite enough time. I can think of more than a
few people we had hoped to see before we leave again, but missed. They'll
be at the top of our list for the next time we're here. And, they're
always welcome to travel south when the weather gets too cold for them.
Until next year, loved ones...
We'll leave early tomorrow morning and turn for Florida.
I have lots to do today, though before we're ready...starting with laundry.
(I'll be trying my new homemade laundry soap!)
I'd better get after it!

July 27, 2014

July 26, 2014

My (First) Wooly Tote...

Sheepy Faces
As predicted, I completed my "Ewe-nique Bag", which I prefer to call my
"Wooly Tote". The directions were simple, and the tote worked up quickly.

I would only change one thing in the instructions, so I'll make that adjustment
on the next one (or more) that I make in the future. I think they'd make nice gifts.
Sheepy Butts
I really like the colors that Primitive Gatherings chose to use in their kits, but
I can already envision this same tote done up in red and tan, or something in
a bright, thirties-style assortment. Which colors do you think you'd choose?
It's going to be a busy, busy day today. 
Morning coffee with my BFF.
Lunch with our younger son's girls
Dinner with family in Beaver Dam to celebrate my cousin's Birthday.

Better get rolling. 
I'm thinking I'll really sleep well tonight!

July 25, 2014

Cuddling Over Sewing Any Day...

I certainly never expected this to happen!
Every year when I come to Wisconsin, I take a little drive over to Beaver Dam to
check out what's new at Nancy's Notions. I saw this and it was love at first sight. 
This is Babylock's Crescendo quilting/sewing machine. What caught my eye
was the wide open throat space to the right of the needle. With 11-1/4", there's
a lot of room to do my own quilting after the quilt tops have been pieced. 
This are the other features that made the Crescendo so appealing:
1) A Digital Dual-Feed Walking Foot System 
In addition to mounting like the other walking feet, this one also has 
a USB cable that attaches to the machine for precise fabric feeding.
2) A Laser Guide Beam for Sewing
The stylus connects to the computer for the sewing machine. It tells the
machine exactly where I want the needle and stitches positioned. The
pen designates stitch width, placement and stopping points on the fabric!
3) A Laser Guide Beam for Sewing
No need for vinyl guides or other tools attached to the machine. 
I can just follow the light beam to guide my stitches.
I went back to The Cloud and read through all the literature. (The Aria is 
the same machine without the Laser, Sensor Pen and large sewing table 
attachment, so I had some feature-for-feature/price comparing to do.) 
I returned to the campground to think about it. I talked with Handsome 
and decided to go back to get the Crescendo this week. (She's going to
need a new name, too. Anyone have any ideas they'd like to share?)
I love Miss Prissy (My Espire), but it's time for her to move to a new home. 
She's a hard worker and reliable, so I know she'll find a good home where 
she'll be appreciated and used more. (If anyone is interested in pricing and
more information, just send me an email through the link in my left sidebar.)
Otherwise, when we get home, I'll list up Miss Prissy and Evvie (my Evolve 
serger) for sale. I only really use Evvie at Christmastime when I'm making 
Grammies Jammies, and with all the specialty feet that come with her, I know 
 she could be used exclusively for sewing and quilting! (I actually know 
someone who only sews with a serger!) It's a shame for her to sit around 
most of the year when she could be serving someone else more often.
Miss Ellie will be staying here at Brynwood. She'll continue to sew and 
embroider for me and the Crescendo will be busy helping me make new quilts.
I decided to get acquainted with my new machine by making a new project.
These panels are the front and back of a great wooly sheep tool bag.
I finished the front and back yesterday, but I took break
and will assemble the pieces into a new tote bag today.
"Hey, Mom. Did you see that fuzzy thing lickin' on me?"
 I happily set my project aside to visit with this sweet, little guy again yesterday.
Tag was quite taken with him. He's never seen a tiny baby before, 
but I can tell you, he loved this one. He was very curious and gentle.
Mommy and baby came to the campground and we talked and cuddled away 
the rest of the day. I can't believe how much he's grown just since I saw him 
at the baptism! It was great spending just a little more time together before 
we get ready to go back to Florida. Our departure is just around the corner.
All in all, another wonderful day creating new memories in Wisconsin.


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