north pole

The North Pole? In July?

Precisely, chicken-wingers!

The entrance to the North Pole.
The entrance to the North Pole.

When our Sprouts were just tender sprigs, every summer involved a trip to the North Pole. It’s just about 30 minutes from our beloved mountain hideaway. The North Pole sits at the base of the Pike’s Peak highway. We haven’t been in at least 20 years now. Time for grand baby G to experience the excitement.

Even the most dedicated fisherman needs to take an amusement park break.
Even the most dedicated fisherman needs to take an amusement park break.

We arrive promptly at opening…10am. How much fun can we have before nap time??

There are cars to drive.


And waters to navigate. G is the Skipper. His friend, the lovely Miss M, is the first mate. (Many thanks, M!!)


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airPLANE!! airPLANE!!

Granny KK lugged around a lens on her camera only a tiny tad smaller than the plane in the above photo. I rented a stroller just for the camera. One proud dad (happily snapping photos with his cell phone) took a long look at me….shook his head in shame and sulked away. The humiliation of being ‘one-upped’ by an over-zealous grandma. I feel your pain, buddy. Next time…..come prepared.

The frozen pole in the center of the park. Do you think Baby H will remember being there?

Memories are rich and vivid. Sometimes the ‘real thing’ stinks and is never as good as you remember it.

Big kids on ‘highest Ferris wheel in North America’.

Ohhhhh, but not this time.

Sprout #2: ‘How are you liking this, Mom? As good as you remember it?’

Me: ‘Where else can I be greeted by Santa, eat a warm funnel cake and absorb frothy (not annoying!) Christmas tunes gayly playing in the background? I can even mail a letter with a postmark from the North Pole! I think I’m in heaven.

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You’d have a delirious expression too, if this was your first experience driving a real race car!

If you ever find your fine self in the Pike’s Peak area, and if you have children ages 2 through 9, you must visit the North Pole. Cute. Quaint. Simply tons of fun for the price.

Now, I will show you my favorite photo. The masterpiece worth all of the sore neck vertebrae. Do not look if you are allergic to cuteness.

You’ve been warned.


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G enjoying the horse.

Thank you for reading and letting me whip my grand kid photo album out of my over-stuffed handbag. I didn’t even see you yawn.

Did I?

Here’s to Christmas in July!

St. Nick love to all.

still standing

Just returned from our delayed vacation. We traveled to the Colorado cabin after the evacuation from the Waldo Canyon fire was lifted. We didn’t spend any time in Colorado Springs (where the damage was severe) because we were interested in our ‘neck of the woods’. We could see the scalded hillside along Highway 24 headed to Woodland Park. We were stopped by some foreboding law enforcement officials questioning us as to our intentions in the forest.. The Pike National Forest was closed to the public and we had to prove we had business in this area of the forest.

The cabin was still standing!

I kissed the ground. I hugged every neighbor. I skipped through the forest. I thanked God in my prayers. This mountain neighborhood is precious to us. Entering the cabin feels like a warm, comforting, pine-y embrace.

We chatted with our friends about the fire and where they stayed during the days of evacuation. There was a renewed sense of appreciation and happiness around the lakes.

The Texan did some fire mitigation (professional forest service word) around our house.

Clearing around the propane tank

He and the Son-in-Law sawed and sawed and made big piles of limbs to be chipped later. I kept telling everyone who would listen, “The Texan has piles, the Texan has piles!” No one found the humor in that, can you imagine?? The Texan kept confusing his fire ‘mitigation’ with amelioration or some such nonsense. It’s mitigation, Texan! Living in the middle of a thick forest, miles from town….well….there’s only so much one can do to prevent a fire. Our cabin has a metal roof. It was built in the early 1950’s and it’s covered in ugly asbestos siding. Pretty is, as pretty does…right?

Get this. One of the residents had a special fire trailer made and donated it to our neighborhood.

It holds 1000 gallons of water. It’s designed to pump water out of the surrounding lakes and it is a marvel of modern engineering! We are overwhelmed by his kindness and his engineering brilliance. A hearty thank-you to Mr. B! Now, at least, we have a tool to battle a blaze should it break out around our lakes.

The cabin is a comforting place….a place where history seems to repeat itself. I took this photo of the Grandson on our patio. Prepare yourself for cuteness.

Mom’s hand is holding him securely.

I warned you about cute overload! Here is another…..sorry…..

This baby has the goofiest open-mouthed smile. Hope he doesn’t choke on a hummingbird.

History DOES repeat itself.

Our Sprout #3 back in the 80’s, hence the bad socks.

Life has a calm rhythm at the cabin. GrandBob feeds you gruel in the morning.

Sometimes, a picnic in the forest is celebrated.

Sometimes, a wild mountain bichon hovers as you devour your mum-mum. Be very careful, baby!

We are multitudinous gratitudinous. We had a fine time savoring the mountains and counting our blessings for salvation from the (too close) monstrous fire. Our prayers continue for the city of Colorado Springs and for those so devastatingly affected by the fire.

What’s that, you ask?? You are wondering about a certain canine? A very stubby-legged, long-torsoed animal?

Oh yeah, SHE was there. Thanks for asking.

No chipmunk got within a half mile of us!

Blessed salvation love to all.

lord of wind and flame

I, the Lord of wind and flame
I will tend the poor and lame
I will set a feast for them
My hand will save

Singing these words of the hymn Here I Am, Lord choked me up yesterday. I was thinking of all the folks affected by the western wildfires. My heart particularly breaks for the folks around Colorado Springs as they deal with the Waldo Canyon Fire.

I’ve written many times of our summer forays into Colorado to escape the West Texas heat. The post Mountain Mysteries recalls the crazy creatures living around these high country lakes. The area around Colorado Springs, particularly the little town of Woodland Park is dear to our hearts. This land is intricately woven into the tapestry of our family history….all the way back to the Texan’s grandfather.

our summer community

Our friendly fishing community has been evacuated because of the current fire danger. Makes me think of being there just a week ago and of a serene evening walk with the Sprout and the Grandson.

Mom, can you smell that smell? (after a light, evening shower) Can you smell the dirt mixed with the pine trees?

Inhaling deeply. Sure can….there’s no other fragrance like it.

We strolled silently enjoying the beauty of nature and the wonder of that smell. Could we bottle it and bring it home with us?

We’ve been blessed to have a little summer home in the mountains. Sure, I worry about it….but I have no real cause for complaint or sympathy. I’ve relished every moment spent close to God in the mountains. For those folks who live and work there……my prayers and thoughts are with you. So far, so good. Godspeed and God bless the brave firefighters.

Safe love to all.

summer’s flown

It’s over. Not officially, maybe….but it’s gone just the same.

Summer’s flown, just like the sparrow.

 To borrow from Dickens….it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

We are lucky and blessed in that our summers (since 1975, for me) involve several treks to the crisp air of the Colorado mountains.

Our cabin’s piney interior warmly embraces me and keeps me rooted in my family’s past. My first trip to Colorado was with the Texan while we were dating. I guess I passed the ‘cabin test’ his mom talked about. We married…our family grew…and we got a little place of our own near his mother and other friends. The kitchen has the pencil etchings on the wall of who caught the biggest trout, the bunk beds in the bedroom are where the children slept and fought their nightly tussles and we’ve devoured s’mores around the brick fireplace for nearly thirty years now. I’m sure it could use some updating in the decorating/furniture department, but the cabin’s sameness is somehow reassuring. Life at the cabin with family and friends is a treasure.  Need proof? Take a look at these posts.

Did I mention the food at the cabin tastes better? We eat like kings!

Bff Vicki’s peach pie. Oh….my….!

I could write a tome (but not now) of the fun the canines have in Colorado.

Nellie would like some pie, please.
Roxy Doxy never caught the chipmunk

Summer in the Texas Panhandle was in sizzly contrast to Colorado. Hot, dry….depressing and difficult. It felt like our ‘worst of times’ and there was lots of suffering to go around for the farmers/ranchers and folks who have to work outside. Our Sprout #1 worked in a frenzy to move cattle around, sell cattle, ship cattle and get water to thirsty cows and horses. Don’t want to ask him about his summer!

I can report the dreadful heat has broken (feels fantastic!), but we are still praying one of those tropical storms in the Gulf of Mexico will meander it’s way into Texas and bring moisture for our brittle state. We hope and keep looking to the future.

I feel blessed, but a little meloncholy at scenes like this.

Covering the game table and chairs for the winter

Letting go of another summer in the mountains. Cleaning the old place up and preparing her for the long winter. Back to real life…sigh. Back to the land of no pies.

The Texan and I climbed the hill to say goodbye to Mom. Her ashes were still suprisingly intact even after the recent rains.

It’s gonna take her a long time to make it to the ocean at this rate, the Texan said.

That’s OK. She’s got nothin’ but time.
See you next summer, Joy.

With that, we switched off the light on the best and worst in the summer of 2011. Done.

Peach pie love to all.

birds and ashes

The mountain vacation was a Colo-palooza! Nine breathless days in the gloriously glittery high country air.
It was a fun time to enjoy friends and family. There was a theme to our trip this year. A couple of things I hadn’t experienced before.

The trip was NOT mainly about canoe races.

Nor was it about the courageous souls who braved the zip line.

Uh…didya think to bring some dry clothes?

It wasn’t about winning at mountain golf or lining up the perfect putt.

Yes, smarty. I missed the putt.

It wasn’t mainly about fishing, even though we fished and caught a respectable amount.

Walter is still out there….FYI.

And it wasn’t about going on long death marches with uber-fit mountain bichons.

Helluva mountain dog if ever there was one!

Nor was it about the ginormous amounts of food consumed at our humble dining room table.

Miles from a fast-food restaurant!

The theme of this trip was the robin’s nest in the window!

Can you see the debris hanging down from the corner of  the second window? That’s our bird’s nest.

Each day dawned a new chapter in the life of our robin family. We even stayed out of the sunroom so as not to disturb our growing young family.

The mother AND father were industrious and faithful in taking turns feeding the babies. The dad-bird would squawk and cause a commotion if you got too close to the nest.

The father bird with a meal for the young ‘uns.

It was something extraordinary to see the workings of this family…even though robins are considered a rather ordinary bird.

Watching the bird’s pin feathers pop out day-by-day…we were astounded at the rapid changes in the babies.

This mother was faithful and protective. She sat on the nest at night and during some noisy rain/hail storms.

The second theme to our trip was ashes. Mom’s ashes. Since her death in February, I’ve been mulling exactly what to do with her ashes…she couldn’t spend eternity on our bookshelf at home! The decision was made early on to take her to the mountains. I just couldn’t come up with exactly where to lay her earthly remains…in the water…on the hills…under a tree…scattered to the four winds-what?

The black plastic box containing her remains sat on the fireplace mantle and waited. I admit it…I was having some trouble. Maybe I wanted it to be too perfect. My children and family gathered around and reciting the ashes to ashes Bible verse. Sorry Mom, I couldn’t make it work out like that.

One afternoon (towards the end of the trip…I was feeling pressure) I bounced up from a little nap and told the Texan.
Now….we’re taking Mom up the hill and spreading her ashes near the guest house where she spent so many summers with us.’
The Texan found just the right spot in the center of a circle of small pine trees overlooking the lake and just up from the guest house.
I gingerly poured her out of her plastic bag and surveyed her view. I kissed the Texan and we walked down the hill and back to the house. Unceremonious, perhaps…but I think she would approve.
She would’ve adored the summer of the robins.
Safe, nesty love to all

the end

In honor of the official last week of summer, I am; scaling the highest mountain of potato salad, cranking homemade ice cream til my bulging bicep drops off, cramming my teeth-gaps with buttered corn on the cob, and piling the stinkiest sauerkraut on a giant juicy brat.  Go ahead Texan, and fire up the Margarator!  ***come to Mama, Tums***

Since summer is fading, let’s sing Kumbayah around the campfire and remember all the special moments we shared this summer.  You with me?  Kum-ba-yah my lord, kum-ba-yah, kum……………..

Summer unveiled in glorious pinkness and a wickedly nasty rash appeared in:  suffering for my art.  Ah, the early days of summer and the anticipation of fresh tomatoes!  Those were the days when yard work was fun-before the disease known as ‘tomato wilt’.

Summer isn’t complete without several jaunts to the crisp, cool mountains of Colorado.  You hiked with fishing-dog, jumping-dog, and rolling-in-poop-dog around the serene lakes in:   a mountain walk-the dog’s eye view.

Still in the mountains, events took a dark and sinister turn in:  mountain mysteries

Your hair-do suffered as you braved the heat and humidity of South Carolina where we visited a swamp and ate fried green tomatoes in:  ah do duh-cla-yuh!! swamp things!

In July, we worried over Roxy-Doxy and her sudden penchant for guns and gambling in:  american pawtriot

You went for a swim with the Doxy in August.  We learned what a wiener dog in a life vest has to do with the Serenity Prayer.  Huh?  All this and a sickeningly frightful cat video in:  don the life vest.

You endured my INSUFFERABLE puns in:  new dog breeds.  Please accept my deepest apologies.  No one should screw around with the Shih Tzu breed that much.    Friends?

There’s more…but those are some of my favorite moments with you in Summer 2010.   Here’s counting on our adventures continuing through the rest of the year.

Thanks for being a part of Summer 2010 at On a Chicken Wing and a Prayer.  Wishing you and yours a fantastic Labor Day weekend.  Please stay tuned for our Fall adventures..
Labor Day love to all.

a mountain walk-the dog’s eye-view

Went to the cabin over the Memorial Day holiday.  The Texan’s grandfather bought a cabin in the Pikes Peak area in the late 1940’s (?) and our family has been lucky enough to spend many summers up there. 

Don your hiking boots, grab a fishin’ pole and fall in line for our hike.  I’d love to show you the sights.  The Texan found his favorite fishin’ hole.

The Sprout on a rock fishin’ with the ever-present, helpful fishin’ dogs.

Hey,  you gotta bite GP? Sophie is lookin’ interested!

Sic ’em Sophie!

Run Reba, run! Is that Roxy-Doxy in the background? Whatcha sniffin’ Roxy? Is that a dead, smelly fish??!

No Doxy, no! Oh….&@#+*%$*^%!! You rolled in the smelly, dead thing! Lovely.

Hope you’re proud of yourself, wiener-dog. I see a bath in your future.

Shhhh…walk very softly. The Texan has laid his head on his tackle box. Getting a little shut-eye, huh? Long walk wore you out, Texan?  Altitude gettin’ to ya??

Doxy, Reba!!….don’t bother the Texan….can’t you see he’s trying to rest?

Shhhhh….Soph! Don’t kiss the Texan…he’s resting. You fishin’ dogs are out of control!

Where we see a resting Texan, the Sprout sees an obstacle for one of the fishin’ dogs to practice her mad jumping skills.

Jump Reba, jump!! MJ and LeBron in a goldendoodle body!

Does the Texan look like a log to you? Is this any way to have a peaceful mountain nap?

Can dogs smile? You be the judge…..

There’s lotsa smiles in the mountains…that’s just the way it is. Hope our mountain walk made you smile today. I’ll show you some other interesting mountain critters soon.
A fantastic weekend to all!