Category Archives: Discovering Home

Bikes and Bikes

I didn’t really want to delete this pretty lilac photo, so I’m leaving in the first part of this post, even though it was written a few weeks ago and is COMPLETELY inaccurate now. I’m afraid after realizing I didn’t have a few of the photos I wanted, I put it on hold until I could get out and take a few more, but I took longer than I had intended to get back to this. My apologies! (I’ve added a few corrections and comments to make it more current):

The lilacs are mostly finished . . . (DEFINITELY long gone now)Lilacs. . .  but other flowers have come into their own. I do love the last bit of spring, when the weather feels almost like summer, but we’re not actually roasting (Um . . . we are now officially roasting). The evenings on the deck are getting to be standard fare, but not quite enough that the mosquitoes anticipate our presence and get there first (I’m afraid they’re starting to catch on).  We’re making plans for all the great things we’re going to do during the summer and not yet dreading the crammed fall schedule. Anything seems possible (hence, the now-crammed SUMMER schedule),

Ah, well. Love it. Summer officially arrived Monday evening, and we plan to take full advantage of it.

One of the things we missed while in France and on our extended east coast road trip was taking Harley trips with our neighborhood friends. The first overnight trip of the summer was a few weeks ago, and although we didn’t go for the overnight, we did ride up the Poudre Canyon with them as far as the Arrowhead Lodge Visitor Center . . . ↓Arrowhead Lodge

This fabulous place is now a National Historic Site and a Forest Service Visitor Center, but it used to be a  guest resort with log cabins and was the childhood home of our dear friend, Christy French. Can’t believe I didn’t get a shot of anything but the sign. Sheesh. Sorry!

After we waved goodbye to our friends and let them continue on up over the pass, we headed back down the road a few miles for lunch here . . . ↓

Best burgers around
Best burgers around

It may not look like fine dining, but the quirky set of characters manning this trailer serve amazing burgers and, if you’re lucky, keep you entertained with running commentary on the birds, the bears, the weather, the tourists, and most amusing, each other.

After lunch, we decided to take a longer, scenic route home — in France called le chemin des écoliers (literally “the route of schoolboys” meaning of course, the longest possible route), which took us behind and eventually up and around the south end of Horsetooth Reservoir . . . ↓

Horsetooth Reservoir
Horsetooth Reservoir

We also recently bought bikes (with actual pedals, requiring exertion by the rider) . . . ↓

Our Bikes -- Arty Photo Version
Our Bikes — Arty Photo Version
Old Town Fort Collins -- One of the pretty alleys
Old Town Fort Collins — One of the pretty alleys

. . . to add some variety to our exercise options. The same day as this first long Harley ride, we decided to try out our new bikes. Really poor planning. Our . . . um . . . nether regions were NOT HAPPY. We went back to the bike shop and bought padded shorts the next day! Now we can ride all the way to Old Town, and generally do, every Saturday.

Sam's Just Like Dad Haircut
Sam’s Just Like Dad Haircut

But now, I very much wish I did not have to tell you about one person who, in a perfect world, would be riding his bike this summer, but is not currently able to do that. I’m sorry to report that Sam Glossi’s cancer has come back and he is in the middle of a series of chemo treatments and enduring the brutal side effects.

←Here he is just after his pre-chemo “Just Like Dad” haircut.

Sam Happy About BreadAnd here he is excited to be able, finally, to eat bread after a tough week of no solid food. →

Love this photo, because he’s seriously adorable, obviously, but also because I routinely have that exact same emotion about the prospect of eating bread!

His smiles are tiny moments of respite and joy, but I know you understand that this is a really hard summer for the entire Glossi clan. Please keep Sam and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Joy is prayer; joy is strength; joy is love . . . .   ·Mother Theresa  

It is not how much you do, but how much love you put into the doing. ·Mother Theresa

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.  ·Desmond Tutu

Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart. · Mahatma Ghandi

Wishing you all, and especially Sam, comfort, healing, peace, joy.

In the Bleak Midwinter

Midwinter MornIn the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago. ∼Christina Rossetti

This is the first verse of a poem by Christina Rossetti, which was later set to music and became a beloved Christmas carol. I’m working on a Liz Story arrangement of it for my piano lessons. Lexi, besides being a good friend is also my piano teacher; she and I decided that even though Christmas is past, winter certainly isn’t. The snow just keeps on coming. Fortunately, the view out our back windows is stunning and the music is serene and beautiful, even when I’m playing it.

Still. Hard to forget that last year at this time we were strolling in the heat of Key West down to Saluté for their fabulous caprese salad with avocado. Yum. Tom and Lexi gave us this for Christmas . . .

Saluté, Key West
Saluté, Key West

. . . as a reminder of the afternoons we shared on that very patio  for a few days last January. I miss all the flowers (and the blues), but the grocery store occasionally yields a few beauties to tide me over until spring . . .January RoseJanuary Roses

French Hellem Cafetière
French Hellem Cafetière

David and I are both loving it here in our new home, but at the same time, missing France and dreaming of our next trip to La Rochelle, maybe in 2017. Here’s my favorite surprise gift for David this Christmas . . . →

. . . a real vintage French Hellem Cafetière, like the one Pascale and Jacky would bring out sometimes at the end of a meal, mostly for the fun of it, I think. There are definitely easier ways to make coffee, though we’re loving the memories.

Sam
Sam, last September

Unfortunately, flowers and treasured memories have not been all there has been to this season. A few weeks ago, Tom and Lexi’s darling three-and-a-half-year-old grandson, Sam, was discovered to have a huge tumor on one of his kidneys and diagnosed with cancer. Emergency surgery, tests, worry, more tests, and lots of prayer have filled the last few weeks.  The latest tests have been very positive and he’s finally back home, slowly healing, but what an ordeal for Sam and his family, and it’s not quite over yet.

So I’d think of them and pray, and play beautiful music on the piano, that when I’d get it right, was almost like praying without words.

Midwinter
Midwinter

When the winter sun rises cold and clear through the trees, the shifting patterns of sun and shadow make me think of the rhythm of all of life, that can switch in a heartbeat from the sun-soaked days of joy to the soul-piercing hard times and, fortunately, sometimes back again.

I used to think that somewhere along the line, I’d find the key to that perfect life . . . and that once I had it, every day would be golden and easy, and everything would fit. But life isn’t like that. There are only perfect, glowing moments . . . and then there are the everyday moments that weave them together into a shimmering path that can always be seen, even in the dark. ∼Kristan Higgins

Wishing you glowing moments to light the dark along the way.

Please keep Sam and family in your thoughts and prayers!

White Christmas

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, with lots of love and good cheer. Twelfth Night has long passed, and all the decorations have been put away, but fortunately the memories–and a few photos–remain. Unfortunately, Brittany somehow eluded the camera, but we’ll get her another time!

Christmas LightsRemember last year, when I was on the constant search for Christmas lights? This year someone told me about a nearby neighborhood that gets serious about theirs, so Christmas Eve after the Candlelight Service at church, I had the girls grab a few cozy blankets for the car, and we drove over to have a look. Wow.

Bailey, Chelsea and Felicity checking out the lights
Bailey, Chelsea and Felicity checking out the lights

But mostly this year, the theme has been “white.” Considering the fact that last year our goal was to skip winter entirely, it’s a bit surprising how much I’m enjoying the almost constant snow we’ve had so far this winter. But who doesn’t like a white Christmas? Our granddaughters certainly enjoyed it. ↓

Bailey
Bailey
Felicity
Felicity

This was part of a challenge to see who could stay lying in the snow the longest–um, NOT my idea. They took this VERY seriously. To prevent hypothermia, we finally had to declare a tie and tempt them inside with hot chocolate . . . ↓

Hot Chocolate Time
Hot Chocolate Time
Chelsea and Will in the Snow
Newly engaged Chelsea and Will

But they weren’t the only ones loving the snow. We see cross-country skiers on the golf course regularly, and even though Will forgot to pack boots, he was willing to do whatever it took to get out and enjoy it as well. Note the trash bags taped on with festive red and white duct tape. Unfortunately, he discovered that without insulation, trash bags are not very warm. Boots recommended for next time.

Christmas Games
Christmas Games

But it was plenty warm indoors. Lots of laughter and games. When I was growing up, I made my brothers wait until I had read and explained all the rules of any new game before playing on Christmas morning. I’m not making this up. They called me Little Miss Rules. In a rare departure from tradition, here’s how Christmas games are now played at our house, not EXACTLY according to the rules, since putting the sticks in Brittany’s guy, Rick’s hair was not mentioned.

David and his Man Crate
David and his Man Crate

←In other Christmas craziness, here’s David, sporting his jingle-bell shorts, a gift from Chelsea a few years ago and ONLY worn on Christmas. He’s opening his “Man Crate” –a gift from all three daughters.

Five days with seven adults, two children, and one very ancient black lab, in basically a two-bedroom house. Yes, it was pretty chaotic, but mostly in a fun way. By Tuesday, the 29th, all were headed home:

Courtney
Courtney

Courtney and her girls back to Minnesota . . .

Chelsea and Will to Alexandria, Virginia, and Brittany and Rick to Denver (technically, Centennial, but who knows where that is).

Wishing you fabulous times with family and friends, whether chaotic or calm. French has a term: les proches, literally “the near ones.” I love that. The ones who are near even when they are not physically near. Je pense à vous, mes amis français. Looking at you, far-flung family. Hoping for more time together, distant friends.

Old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read. ∼Athenaeus

Yes’m, old friends is always best, ‘less you can catch a new one that’s fit to make an old one out of. ∼Sarah Orne Jewett

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them. ∼Desmond Tutu

Thanks, all of you, for being a gift to me.

Haven

911One of my favorite things to do is to help make a house into a home. There’s been a lot of that happening this year. We’ve been to Alexandria to help Chelsea and Will settle into their new house, which kept us so busy, I’m afraid I took very few pictures . . .

Awaiting the Sofa
Awaiting the Sofa
Remy, relaxed in his new home
Remy, relaxed in his new home

Here’s one of their neighbors, since the Potomac is easy walking distance from their house . . .IMG_2373

Boathouse and Hat Decor← We’ve also, in the past few months, been down to Denver a couple of times to help Brittany settle into her new house, which she’s chosen to ornament with views from Sunapee . . . ↓IMG_9256

The guest room is ready . . . ↓

Guest Room
Brittany’s guest room

Meanwhile, we continue to wrap up projects at our home in Fort Collins. The bookshelves are in and filled! Library

Maybe it’s not much, making a space personal. But hopefully, by outfitting it with things that remind us of places and people we love, we’re inspired to offer comfort and welcome to others.

As we near the close of this year, which included terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere and mass shootings all too frequently, I’m left with swirling emotions: certainly sadness for those affected, relief and gratitude for the safety of Anna (our dear friend Pascale’s daughter, who currently lives in Paris), but also frustration at the powerlessness I feel to stop the evil or even the hatred and distrust that ensue in its wake. This on top of other acts of senseless and random violence, and it seems we all need a haven more than ever before.

May our lives, even more than our homes, be a safe and welcoming place for those we meet.

Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come. ∼Henri NouwenDecember Sunrise

Celebrate!

Well, summer has come to a close. Time to stock up on tea lights . . .Tea Lights Lit and ReadyOkay, these gorgeous tea light holders ↑ are Lexi’s, not mine, but trust me, I use tealights. Bags of them. This is me just getting warmed up for the season . . .↓IMG_8896

But before we move on to fall, I can assure you this last bit of summer has been jam-packed. We’ve helped our daughter Brittany move into her new house. We’ve celebrated babies and weddings and even helped a bit with a rehearsal dinner. . .

Josh and Kelly practicing for the wedding reception
Josh and Kelly practicing for the wedding reception

Here’s David confirming the quality of the wine and our friends’ new deck before the guests arrive . . .

David confirming the quality of the wine and our friends' new deck.

I’ve had my turn to host both Book Club . . .

Sarah and Janie at Book Club
Sarah and Janie at Book Club

. . . and French Club (so busy concentrating on speaking French, I forgot to take pictures). We’ve been to neighborhood BBQ’s and hosted friends for dinner or wine and cheese on the deck. One night our friends Tom and Lexi agreed to be guinea pigs for a trial run of the mini-grill dinner party, like we had at Pascale and Jacky’s, and I’m happy to report, not one of us sustained any injury from inexpert tong usage.

We even had a mini-visit from our Minnesota daughter Courtney . . .

Courtney and Brittany
Courtney and Brittany

. . . who was visiting Brittany for a long weekend. So summer has not been wasted. We’ve appreciated radiant evenings, full moons, and lots of sparkling sunrises out our back door.

Glorious morning out back
Glorious morning out back

We’ve toasted and tasted and shared and enjoyed it all (well, maybe not mosquitoes, but most of it). So now fall is here: more plans, trips and projects, and best of all, new opportunities to celebrate life with those we love.

Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend. 

Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words. ∼ Plautus

To all of you, both near and far, those we see regularly and those for whom a face-to-face takes a bit more planning, you have a place in our hearts. We celebrate you.

French Connections

I’ve been feeling nostalgic for France lately, so have been trying to find bits of la belle France wherever I can. Our stone fireplace surround is now installed and looking fabulous and very French . . .

Living Room 2. . . and I had another appointment recently with my Longmont doctor (who helps me keep the skin cancer at bay). This allowed me to revisit one of my favorite shops, the very excellent Cheese Importers, where there are so many French things–books, linens, jams, shopping baskets, knives, butter and cheese (of course)–it’s all I can do to keep speaking English while I’m in there. Bonus, I found a wide selection of French butter, not Beurre aux Cristaux de Sel de Noirmoutiers, I’m sorry to report, but a couple of brands of butter with semi-noticeable sea salt crystals, so that’s a plus. Definitely taking a larger cooler next time so I can stock up!

Closer to home, here in downtown Fort Collins, there is a wonderful shop called EsScentuals with all kinds of fabulous products for body, bath and home. The whole place is a treat for the senses, even the entrance . . . ↓

EsScentuals--142 South College
EsScentuals–142 South College — Note the French watering can.
EsScentuals
EsScentuals Front Window

The owner, Meg DeWeese, has lived in France and is married to a Frenchman, so the French flavor of the shop is no accident. The main floor is full of oils and lotions and soaps and other temptations, but my favorite part of the shop is downstairs, called 142 Bis, where you can browse and discover all kinds of arty, beautiful French things. Love it.EsscentualsEsscentuals Downstairs

Also here in Fort Collins, this weekend saw another running of the annual Tour de Fat, which has almost NO connection to France except the obvious play on words with Tour de France and the fact that bicycles are involved.

And yet, it did remind me of a few of the crazier Saturdays in La Rochelle, which you can revisit here and here and here and here. It was clearly an opportunity to celebrate the joy of friendship.

So today, I’m very grateful for our many stateside friends and family, but I’m also missing Pascale and Jacky (La Rochelle), who took us on so many adventures and opened their home (and la cave) to us for so much delectable wining and dining; Dany and Francis (Tours), who actually interrupted their vacation, returning home for a few days to take us wine-tasting in the Loire Valley; and Natacha (La Rochelle), my patient and encouraging tutor, without whom my ability to have ANY French friends would have been severely limited. Merci mille fois à tous! S’il vous plait, venez nous voir bientôt!

Let us be grateful to those who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ∼Marcel Proust

Wishing you warm connections, French or not!

High Points

Fort Collins, at just under 5000 feet altitude, is a bit lower than Denver, the “Mile-High City,” so we don’t actually live in the mountains, rather next to them. Nevertheless, David and I have spent a great deal of time lately REALLY high up. Like here . . .

Shot from the Visitor's Center of Rocky Mountain National Park--Altitude 11,834 feet
High on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

and here . . .

Rocky Mtn. National Park, 11,986 feet
From Visitor’s Center near the top of Rocky Mountain National Park — 11,986 feet

and here . . .

Elk Grazing on High
Elk Grazing on High

These were all from Wednesday, June 17th, when we took some house-guests up to see the top of Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in North America, reaching up to 12,183 feet. I never get tired of these views. It’s even pretty gorgeous all the way, like here (shot out the window of the moving car) . . . .

Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park

I did get out of the car for this guy, who started ambling over to give me a close-up . . .

Elk Approaching
Elk Approaching

. . . but David insisted I get back in the car before we got really up close and personal. Probably wise!

Then Saturday, the 20th, we headed out on the Harley with some neighborhood friends up to Saratoga, Wyoming, via Highway 287 . . .

. . . and the Snowy Range Scenic Byway (summit 10,847 ft.) . . .

Our usual picnic spot on top was still snowed in–brrrrrrr–so we found a slightly more hospitable spot a little way down the other side. Then on to Saratoga, Wyoming.

Even at an elevation of 6791 ft., the afternoon was too hot to go anywhere near these . . .

Extra-hot Hot Springs Mini-Pools, Saratoga, Wyoming
Extra-hot Hot Springs Mini-Pools, Saratoga, Wyoming

In fact it was too hot to do much more than stand in the hot springs very-slightly-cooler main pool with a cold beer. Still, a fun time with good friends.

The next morning we hit a bit of a low point when Terry’s bike would not start . . .

. . . but eventually we were on our way, this time via Walden and Poudre Canyon, past one of my favorite views, the Nokhu Crags at the top of Cameron Pass . . .

Nokhu Crags
Nokhu Crags

. . . which are stunning, especially traveling east to west, when they suddenly appear before you at a curve in the road. It feels like the edge of the world. Eastbound, they tease you a bit longer, slowly emerging out from behind other peaks, so the view is not as startlingly awe-inspiring. And unfortunately, they’re not easy to photograph from the back of a moving motorcycle on an away-turning curve. Sorry about that. I forgot to request a photo stop.

Further down Poudre Canyon, the lingering damage from the 2012 High Park fire was sobering to see . . .

Three Years After the Wildfire
Three Years After the Wildfire

. . . but under a brilliant blue sky, it’s impossible to miss that some green is returning.

So . . . highs and lows, hot and cold, burning and greening, engine trouble and successful repairs, incomprehensible evil in the news and adorable baby announcements in the mailbox, and so much in between. What a crazy quilt this life can be.

I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and sword in my hands. ∼Zora Neale Hurston

Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley. ∼Theodore Roethke

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. ∼John Muir

Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the Lord . . . .  ∼Psalm 98:8

Wishing you comfort in the hard times, ears to hear the mountains singing, and abundant opportunities to wash your spirit clean.