Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall Mountain Getaway

Thank God it's Friday, y'all!

Finally, a bit of free time to sit down and remember the fabulous time Miss Chef and I had last weekend--it seems like a lifetime ago, now that our lives have been taken over by she-who-shall-not-be-named.  No kitty pics today, though..this is my blog, dangit! 

Now, as Lisa of Laughing Orca Ranch is wont to say, you might want to visit the bathroom and grab your favorite beverage, 'cause this is one loooong post!

Let me start off by saying that, in spite of years of waiting, and months of eager anticipation and build-up, this mini-vacation was all we had dreamed of.  Everything about it was perfect!  The first piece of that was where we stayed.


We found the Cabins at Willoughby Woods through vrbo.com (Vacation Rental By Owner), a site recommended by a co-worker.  I have to say, it was exactly what we were looking for.  Clean, comfortable, isolated, and totally surrounded by trees.  I mean, imagine having views like this outside every single window!


I also appreciated the fact that it's a family owned--in fact, family-constructed--property.  They only have three cabins, two of which are barely visible to each other through the trees, with a giant firepit / gathering place in between.  We didn't even see our neighbors, but it was nice to know we weren't totally isolated.

Our first morning we were up fairly early, and decided to walk around the property.  There was a pole barn near a pond, all surrounded by nature.  Fiery, glorious nature.


Um, Blogger...this is sideways.  WTH??
We weren't the only ones having a good time, though.  Look who's having the time of her life, running around loose with millions of new smells to explore!


Yep, we brought Rosie along.  She got nice and tired on this morning walk, rolling around in the scrub growth and tearing around like a nutcase.  Here is some Sasquatch-quality video of the silliness.

video

That afternoon we left Rosie to rest, as we drove up into Brevard for an early lunch and then on into Pisgah National Forest.  Miss Chef had spent a summer in Brevard at a college program for high school students, and it was due to her great memories of that time that we chose to come here.  Our first stop was the very popular Looking Glass Falls.





Then we continued to drive through the forest, up to the Blue Ridge Parkway...where, in turning around to head back down, we happened upon a lovely lookout over Cold Mountain, of film and literary fame.


On our way back down, Miss Chef chose to follow the path less traveled...




...eventually leading us past a fantastic view of Looking Glass Rock.


We stopped for another photo opportunity as the late afternoon light began to change...one gorgeous vista  after another in this place!


We finished the day off with dinner back at the cabin and s'mores over a fire outside...and then a full-body brushdown of our stinky, burr-filled dog.


 Thankfully, her exhaustion made her far more amenable to my touching her tail and other normally off-limits parts.  She raised her head once or twice to look at me, then just passed out again.

Day 2 found us heading over the border into South Carolina, about 20 minutes to Ceasar's Head State Park.  Miss Chef remembered there being a lookout just off the parking lot there that was worth the drive.  And she was right!

Smoky-looking, huh?

We had brought Rosie with us this time, so we went ahead and paid the small fee to access the trails.  We chose the shortest, a 3 mile hike which I thought would be just the right length for our only-a-little-in-shape selves.  I sort of forgot about that whole "what goes down must come up" thing that goes on in the mountains, though!

"Whee, isn't this fun and easy!?"



About halfway through, we found ourselves at the top of a small, trickly waterfall that offered a nice view to the next hill.


After having hiked back up...and up...and up to the parking lot, we were quite ready for a nice, quiet afternoon back at the cabin.  First we drove back into Brevard, though, and had a lovely lunch at a place called The Square Root.  We were able to sit outside with Rosie, who drew lots of compliments.  Dogs are such a great way to meet people.  And the people of Brevard sure seemed friendly...at least to dog owners!

Then it was down time; the "rest" part of our weekend of R&R.


We left late the next morning, stopping in historic downtown Hendersonville for brunch, then proceeding eastwards, leaving the mountains quickly behind as we descended back down into the NC Piedmont area.  We didn't mind the drive at all, relaxed as we were, knowing we still had most of the afternoon to settle in at home and prepare to re-enter the working world.

On the other hand, one of us was just too worn out to even hold her head up...


This seems like an awfully short summary to me, and I know there are lots more pictures I wish I could show you.  But, if you stuck with it this far, thanks for coming along on our virtual mountain getaway.  Hope you all have restful, relaxing and refreshing weekends!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More Kitten Pics

I am totally supposed to be lesson planning!

Just a handful of kitten

Hi there, little one.
(Look at those teeny white toes!)

Off to explore, brb.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Uh Oh

We have a friend who seems to attract stray animals.  In the past year she's found and ended up adopting two small dogs.  I was always amazed at how this seemed to happen to her in particular.

Now I'm afraid she may have rubbed off on us.



We found this adorable ball of fluff when we went out to walk Rosie this evening.  It was mewing loud enough to hear halfway across the park.  We tried to find Mom and any siblings, but no luck.  And then Rosie tried to eat it.

Seriously, she snatched it out of Miss Chef's hands and...well, I can't say I'm proud of the way I started thumping on my dog, but it finally dawned on me that grabbing her jaws might be more effective.  We were both terrified that she had seriously injured the poor thing, and I knew there was no going back.  Off to the emergency animal clinic we went.  An hour and a hundred dollars later, we became the reluctant and TEMPORARY owners of a tiny 4-week old kitten.



We are in for quite an eye-opener, I'm afraid.  She has to be fed no less than every four hours.  We both work two jobs and are often away from home for 12 hours at a stretch.  We've recruited a neighbor to help out the next two work days, but I'm not sure how we're going to manage on such interrupted sleep.  Not to mention keeping her out of dog's reach once she becomes more active.

Whoo-whee.  Wish us luck, wouldja?

Yeah, there's more than one reason we don't have kids.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mission Accomplished

Miss Chef and I just returned from a four-day weekend to celebrate ten years together.  Since we met, we've talked about going to the mountains, so it was a natural place for us to retreat to for a quiet weekend together.

Little did we know ten years ago that ten years later this particular weekend not only would boast perfect, sunny fall weather, but it would just happen to be the peak of the fall leaf color around the NC Smoky Mountains. 





That's just a taste.  I'll be back later this week with more...but I've got 296 pictures and videos to sort through!

Now that it's Monday, I'd like to celebrate today as the official beginning of our next decade together.  It's been an amazing ten years together; I can't imagine what adventures the future holds for us.  Happy anniversary, Miss Chef!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

State Fair Report

Thursday is not one of my usual posting days, but we've got so much going on this month I don't want my weekends to run over each other!

We had a three-hour drive from Charlotte to Raleigh, but Miss Chef and I enjoy any time together doing something other than chores, so it was a pleasant way to spend our Sunday morning.  We arrived around 12:30, and wandered through the separate equestrian area before heading into the actual fairgrounds.

I was thrilled to be back around the youth barns--I was in a 4H club for a couple years in my teens, and went to the county fair.  These folks were much better organized and, probably, better funded than we country bumpkins.  All the horses were gorgeous.  For some reason, I didn't want to distract myself with the camera, so this is the only horse picture I took:


If you look closely, you'll see the image of the couple from the American Gothic painting, showing off a prize-winning bunch of corn.  The other side featured the man holding a stick of cotton candy and the woman wearing a tie-dyed shirt!

Ok, on to the fair.  Once again, I was seriously disappointed that all the judged livestock had vanished.  But this time I stopped to get some information and found out that every Sunday the week's competitors are removed, and then a fresh group comes in the following Monday.  So unless one of us takes time off of work, we'll never get to see the animals.  Hmph.

 Still, there were a few remaining in the exposition hall, so I was kind of able to get my fix.  It's not quite the up-close-and-let-me-rub-you-between-the-ears encounter I was hoping for, but it was better than nothing.

Aww, goat butts. I didn't want to use my flash around the animals, so these aren't all that clear.  Especially this one!


My other excuse is I was kind of far away and had to zoom all the way...but this goat apparently was not happy with her sale price!  Or else she was just bored standing around letting all these strangers admire her from afar.  Whatever the reason, she was entertaining me as much as herself!

I spent a lot more time "aww"ing over these guys, though.



Is that a little baby burro yawn I see?


I'm with you, sweeties.  The fair is exhausting!

Then I put my camera away for a while, because we were headed out to the midway.  We stopped by the poultry tent, but there was a 50-foot line just to get in the tent.  I'm glad people are so excited about chickens!  But maybe if they had some of their own they wouldn't have to stand in line to see them.  Just sayin'.

Anyway, the midway was a massive crush of people that made Miss Chef very unhappy.  It didn't make me want to clap my hands in joy, either.  Plus, we had planned to meet up with a distant cousin I haven't seen in a decade or more, and let me give you one piece of advice: the midway at the State Fair on a sunny Sunday afternoon is not the best place to catch up.  'Nuff said.

Somewhere in there, we managed to enjoy some fair food...corn dog, funnel cake, even a chicken pita.  Miss Chef was eyeing the Krispy Kreme burger stand, but couldn't bring herself to try to eat a whole one. "I'd like a bite of someone else's," she said, but I was not interested.  I settled for a regular hot dog and some cheese fries.

We had intended to take the train, but tickets were more expensive than advertised (really, Amtrak?  Do you think you're an airline or something??), and as it turned out, driving gave us the flexibility to stay for something that made Miss Chef very, very happy: the Carolina Chocolate Drops happened to be that night's featured concert.

The Chocolate Drops are three young people playing very old, traditional mountain music.  Their instruments include banjos, guitars and fiddles, along with a jug, a kazoo and actual bones.  These "kids" have spent a lot of time hanging around with nonagerian musicians, learning old songs and instruments.  If you like bluegrass or folk music at all, you'll love these guys.  (This is a pretty crappy video, and the effect of the jug playing is totally lost, but at least it'll give you an idea of their style.  Go here for some better videos.)

video

We had to scoot out before the concert was over, since we had a three-hour drive back home.  Like the little baby burros, I was wiped out and slept most of the way home.  We didn't get to bed until about 1 am, and I had a double shift of work and teaching the next day.  It was a long, difficult slog of a Monday, but I'd say it was still worth it--especialy for Miss Chef, who was over the moon about the concert.

On the other hand, I think next year I may want to seek out a more local county fair, or maybe try the South Carolina state fair---which, ironically, is less than half the drive for us.  Maybe at a county fair, I'll actually get to pet a goat!


Oh yeah, I did have one new experience: on the way out, I finally bought a deep-fried Twinkie.  Verdict: too much fried, overwhelming the Twinkie.  They are dipped in pancake batter, so it's like eating a thick pancake wrapped around hot Twinkie.  Does that sound good to anyone?  I ended up pulling it apart and eating the Twinkie part with my fingers.  Hot, melty Twinkie filling isn't too bad--provided you like Twinkies to start with!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hello There


Hi there.  Did you miss me?  I've missed you!  I'm behind in even reading your blogs.  But I don't feel guilty, 'cause I'm busy again.  And now it feels good!

The weather has been beautiful today, and I brought my grading outside.  For once, I wished I had more to grade.  I got stuck out there.  Literally, stuck.  I could not get myself to stand up and come inside.  The laundry, the dishes, the other chores and projects could wait.  How often does a perfect day come around on a Saturday afternoon?

So what's a girl to do?  Why, grab her camera and play!

Rosie does not make a good playmate when the camera comes out.

"Aw Mom, again?

Poor dear.  So I started experimenting (these are unretouched).




One of my favorite nicknames for her is Rosie Toes, so of course....  Notice the little patch of white hair on the back foot peeking out between the others?  Now you know her secret: she's not pure black!  Shhhhhh...

Every once in a while, she gets distracted, and I can finally snap off a portrait.



Of course, once I had the camera out, I had to look around to see what else was worth shooting.  That's my kind of hunting--no messy cleanup!


Yes, we still have tomatoes coming in!  Just the cherries; I tore out all the others a couple of weeks ago.  These sweet little cherries are more like berry bushes right now.  The tomatoes are small, but there are tons of them.


Gotta love that Carolina Blue sky!  See the big white tub in the background?  I'm experimenting with growing potatoes in there.  I read (somewhere) that you can plant them in a bit of dirt on the bottom, then keep adding soil as the potatoes emerge.  It's easier than mounding soil in a garden.

We'll see how that works out for me.  I also seeded some mesclun mix in a couple of planters.  Yes, we can garden just about year-round here.  Fall gardening is still new for me, so I have to be prepared for mixed success.  Still, you can't grow anything if you don't plant it, so I'm giving it a try.

I have neglected the flower side of fall planting, so pretty blooms remain an elusive prey for my photo shoot.  Still, nature has her ways.  The basil does not want to give up!


And this...this flower is pretty and delicate, though in person it is small and unassuming to look at.


But oh, oh...if only you could be here, right next to it, and smell it!  Sometimes I walk out the back door and it nearly knocks me off my feet.  It's a sweet olive tree (which goes by several other names), and it blooms twice a year.  We "met" this tree down in Mobile, and when Miss Chef found some in the nurseries up here, she bought two.  They are planted in front of windows, so we can open them and let the flowers perfume the house.

Miss Chef obviously loves the way they smell.

~~~Φ~~~

And speaking of Miss Chef, and things that smell delicious, I've been wanting to post this picture of the yummy yummy dinner she made last Sunday.

Seared boneless pork chop in an
apple-cherry-butternut squash sauce,
with sweet potato/potato purée,
brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

You see, with all the lesson planning and grading going on around here--beyond our main jobs--the truth is, Miss Chef hasn't been cooking much.  People automatically assume that living with a chef means that I eat really well all the time.  Honestly?  I often have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner.

Many people also assume that's because Miss Chef spends so much of her work week cooking that it's the last thing she wants to do in her free time.  Honestly?  She loves cooking at home.  She loves cooking for me.  And she loves experimenting, playing with new ingredients and recipes.  She truly loves what she does.

But she doesn't have the time for it, or sometimes, the energy.  So when she does get inspired, I am truly grateful to have her in the kitchen.  I never take these meals for granted.  And I feel that they're worth remembering, and sharing.  I do wish you all could have a taste, I do.  But...I ate it all.  'Cause it was delicious! 

Tomorrow we are off to the North Carolina State Fair!  I'm sure I will find plenty to shoot with my camera there.  (If you're too impatient to wait, read last year's post and slide show.)  I am also trying to decide which crazy fried thing to try...Twinkies?  Oreos?  Butter?  Hee hee!  What crazy fried food would you like to try...maybe?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Fragments: Feeling Fine!


Hello, Friday!  So happy you could come again!

I've had a very good week, and am full of positive energy for the weekend.  It promises to be another lovely fall one, and I realized just a few days ago that I have Monday off!  So maybe I stand a chance of getting through my "to-do" list.

~~~Φ~~~

I think a large part of my contentedness springs from teaching this week.  For some reason, I headed into the quarter with a very different attitude.  Maybe it's because I've been through this syllabus once; maybe it's that my other job is very slow and boring right now; maybe it's because Miss Chef is teaching too; maybe it's simply because I'm not working overtime and every Saturday on my other job.  Or maybe I've just blissfully forgotten how much work it turns into once I have to write and grade homework and exams!

Whatever the reason, I entered the classroom more pumped up and enthusiastic both evenings this week.  And whether it's their nature, or I was putting out good energy, my students have responded well so far.  It's a small group, but I have several who seem to be truly interested in learning, rather than just getting some elective credits under their belts.

Or maybe it's this comment from a former student I recently uncovered, from a summer teaching job I had in France over 10 years ago: "Her attitude was positive and it seemed that she really enjoyed spending her summer with us."  I did enjoy those two summers, and I know that a student's perception of a teacher's enthusiasm for a subject is one of the top factors in student success.  So hopefully, we'll all have a great fall quarter.

~~~Φ~~~

For my newer readers...well, no, for all of you, I'd like to officially introduce the two tabs I added recently at the top of the page (right below that charming canine portrait). 

"About This Blog" is an introduction to me and what I do here.  Even if you've been reading for a while, you may find some new tidbits in there.  I decided to add that because I'm often frustrated when I discover new blogs, as I like to know where the writers live, if they're naive 20-somethings or experienced 50-year olds, how long ago they moved/started farming/got married, whatever.  So if you've had any lingering questions like "What the #&!! is a flartus??" you might check there.

The second tab is a collection of my favorite photos, suitable for desktop backgrounds.  I've used them, so why shouldn't you?  (Of course, I'm assuming you'll only download them for your personal use...otherwise, don't.)

~~~Φ~~~

I also wanted to respond to some of your amusing comments from last week's post.  I'm so glad you got a giggle out of it, and I have to say when I re-read it this afternoon, I started giggling again, too!  Mom L and Terry, seriously--those kayaks are not nearly as tippy as you think.  If you ever get the chance, and you're told they are stable, sit-on-top kayaks, please give it a try, ok?  Just make sure to pack a full set of dry clothes, just in case.  'Cause you will get wet, even if when you remain topside.

I should also tell you all that Miss Chef said she was "indignant" that I just had to share her story on my blog.  But don't worry, I'm not feeling guilty, because the truth is, she's the one who gave me the idea.  As soon as she was back on her kayak, she said "I'm sure this is going to end up on your blog."  I figured she was giving me permission! 

~~~Φ~~~

This nice cool fall weather means it's truly Halloween season here, and I have yet to pull the decorations out of the closet.  But, for you, I'm going to pull out another Halloween tradition around here: tangerine-glazed pumpkin cookies!


I wrote about these last year, but it was after Halloween before I shared the recipe.  So, to give you all a chance to try it, here it is, weeks early!  I amaze myself sometimes.  (The link is to the the Health Magazine website...so you know they're good for you, right?)

 Before you decide to comment that you're no good at baking, let me tell you: these are stoopid easy.  Last year, mine even turned out better than Miss Chef's.

Oh, and did I mention they're delicious??

~~~Φ~~~

Finally, it's high time I acknowledged Mal's (aka The Nekkid Chicken)'s award that got her onto my Christmas gift list.  I'm pretty bad at this; once I get around to posting after someone's given me one, I usually have something more urgent I want to talk about (like COOKIES, om nom nom!)

Where was I?

Oh, right, the Lovely Blog Award.
Of course, this comes with a set of instructions.

1. Accept the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.   That would be Mal, of the Nekkid Chicken blog.

2. Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers that you have newly discovered.

3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they’ve been chosen.
 
Hmmm...15 newly discovered blogs??? Sheesh, that's a tall order!  I'm not sure I read that many blogs at all (that's not true; I'm sure if I counted I would be astonished by how many I follow!).
 
Well, I'm going to share with you several blogs I really like, whether I've newly discovered them or not, and whether they add up to 15 or not.  Many of you probably know each other, but I still like to give a shout-out or pat on the back for good writing, fun stories or the equivalent of a warm smile.  If you're looking for something new, take a little scroll on down...

New note: Notice I'm not technically "awarding" anyone...if you want to claim it, please do.  But I don't want to make anyone feel they have to reciprocate or acknowledge this on their own blogs.  Just enjoy the pat on the back and continue on with your day.
 
1. Bossy Betty: Is, in fact, recently discovered.  Not only is she hi-LAR-ious, but she's an English teacher, so she certainly has a way with a phrase.  And she takes really interesting pictures.  And shares interesting poetry.  And I hope she doesn't get upset I just lined up so many fragments starting with  "and." ;)
 
2. The 7MSN Ranch: New Mexico skies, rambunctious burros, personable hens, a horse named Hank, a pot-bellied pig named Wynonna, the best rattlesnake guard dog north of the Rio Grande, and a human with fantastic photography skills, all living happily 7 Miles South of Nowhere.
 
3. Farm Fresh Fun: I can't remember what it was, other than a desire to stay close to the earth and the seasons, but I felt that Leslie and I had a lot in common.  And she has the occasional random animal invade her kitchen, so, you know, that's the fun part!
 
4. and 5. BooneDocks Wilcox and A Little Farm With a Big Heart:  Besides their sharing of their respective collections of furred and feathered residents, I often visit these two blogs to troll through their blogrolls.  'Cause they know some interesting folks!  (I've probably found some of your blogs through theirs, so I guess that's no news to you!)  Thanks to Joanne and AJ for letting me meet so many others.
 
6. Laughing Orca Ranch: From struggling back from a serious horseback-riding injury, to making some tough decisions and finding a wonderful new riding partner, to hikes and trips and life in New Mexico, Lisa has shown me a whole other side of the world.  And she's another great photographer (the fact she posts a lot of horse and chicken pictures doesn't hurt, either).
 
7. Mucky Boots Farm: Miriam and I have a LOT in common.  I want to be just like her when I grow up.
 
8. Cold Antler Farm: This is not a recent discovery, but it is a fascinating, ongoing story of a single 20-something struggling to start up a small working farm near the NY/VT border.  She has a gift for storytelling, both in pictures and in words.  She writes a lot of things I wish I could.
 
9. Morning Bray Farm: More donkeys!  A whole little herd of them!  Do they know how spoiled and loved they are?  Who cares; they're so entertaining and lovable.
 
10. Faites Simple:  This is truly a new discovery, just today.  Elaine is a Brit living in San Francisco.  I love seeing our country through a foreigner's perspective.
 
11. Patou Alpacas:  Speaking of Brits...this fellow's "ramblings" about his small alpaca farm are so warm and dry, I almost want to pull on my wellies and go check out fleeces with him.
 
Okay, I'm done....I think the rest of the blogs I follow feel to much like old friends to even try to include here!  Plus, it's nearing my bedtime, and if I'm going to find time to make those pumpkin cookies and get a fall garden started, I'm gonna need some rest.
 
Have a good weekend, everyone!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fall, Glorious Fall!

Kayakers on the Catawba River, US National Whitewater Center

This is a cheat picture--I've already posted it on my upload photos page.  And I took it in August, which is hardly fall.  But I don't care, because fall has brought such fabulous weather that it's almost painful to stay indoors.

The rain that began right before our illustrious Panthers game last week ended up enduring for almost two days.  And if the greenery didn't immediately spring forth with new luster, the temperature and humidity both dropped dramatically.  Since then, it's been like emerging from summer hibernation. 

This lovely weather is most fortunate, because October is a busy, busy month for us here in Flartopia.  Tomorrow opens a new quarter of teaching for Miss Chef and me.  (For newer readers, we both teach part time at the Art Institute here, Miss Chef in culinary arts and I teaching French.)  Somehow, even though Miss Chef is picking up an extra lecture class, we will be able to enjoy three weeknights together, and she still has her full Sunday off.  Before classes start back up, we got one more summertime activity in.

Here's where I make my picture more relevant: today we made the short drive again to the US National Whitewater Center, this time to go kayaking on the Catawba River.  We had each played around on a kayak once, down in the bayous near Mobile, and both enjoyed it.  This second outing proved just as enjoyable, not least because of the fabulous weather.  We cruised up the shoreline of the river to the inlet of a largish creek, and continued in for about a quarter mile or so, twisting with the waterway.  We saw a great blue heron, an anhinga and, back out on the river, a low-flying flock of Canada geese.  In spite of Miss Chef's nervous alertness, there was no sign of alligators, lol.

We took turns leading and following, warning each other of shallow sandy bottoms, coming suddenly upon submerged logs and even fishing an empty beer can out of the water.  Kayaking is amazingly easy, especially with these sit-on-top fiberglass designs that are reassuringly stable.  As Miss Chef said, tilting left and right, "I don't think it's possible to tip these."

You know what's coming, right?

As we headed back down the river past some private docks, I suddenly heard a great deal of splash noise behind me, and turned to see Miss Chef perched, somehow, sideways on her tilted kayak.  But only for a moment.  With a modest splash, over she went.  Next thing I saw was an upside down kayak, one floating shoe, and her head bobbing on the other side of the hull.  (She had taken off her shoes earlier, to trail her feet in the water, alligators be damned.)

I felt warring emotions of panic and hysterical laughter.  It soon was obvious that Miss Chef was fine, calm as could be, if a little confused.  She had no idea, after all her earlier experimentation, how she managed to finally tip the kayak.  As I clumsily manuevered back towards her, my dad's boat safety lessons came rapidly back.  "Stay with the boat, I'll get your paddle," I told her.  "Though you might want to get your shoe before it sinks or floats away!"

It turned out Miss Chef could actually touch bottom, so it only took five or ten minutes to collect her paddle and shoe, flip the boat over to find her other shoe floating beneath, and get her hauled back onto the kayak.  I am very proud to say that I managed to keep the giggling to a minimum until we were safely underway again.  I also bit my tongue to stop from suggesting that maybe the alligator had flipped her over.

We continued on our planned course, paddling around for two hours before returning the kayaks and other equipment.  As it turns out, the last laugh was on me.  We had both brought a change of clothes, but I had somehow neglected to include a pair of pants.  Which meant that I was stuck wearing my jeans, soaking wet from drips coming down the double-ended paddles.  We ate lunch on the patio of the River's Edge restaurant, and I was well chilled before we left.  By the time we got home, I couldn't get out of those wet clothes fast enough!

So begins our month of adventures...before October is out, we plan on taking the train to the State Fair,  driving to the mountains for a long weekend in a cabin, and celebrating Halloween at the Renaissance Festival.  I have high hopes that at least two out of three of these adventures will leave us relatively dry!

As I go back to working two jobs, you will undoubtedly notice that I'll be posting only once a week.  But, at least for the next month, I'm sure you'll find it worth your while to keep checking in.  With all these exciting plans, there's no telling what trouble one of us will get into next!

As for you food-following folk, I would like to tell you that as I wrote this post, we were grilling dinner outside...in the rain.  We forgot it could rain more than once a month.  But that's ok, 'cause we got to see a rainbow!  A double rainbow!  But it didn't go all the way across....so we remained calm.  And now Miss Chef tells me our Italian sausage and chicken leg quarters are almost done, so off I go!