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Friday, July 27, 2007

Girls Day Out

Before my surprise hospital trip, Kat and I had planned that she would spend this week with me and we had several day trips to places of interest, like Old Bent's Fort; Amache, where a Japanese internment camp was located during WWII; the Sand Creek Massacre site; and Bishop's Castle, in the Wet Mountains, south of us.

Our plans were edited due to my lack of energy, but on Thursday we managed to have a great day out.

First we headed south through the lovely Wet Mountains, which were so green with multitudes of multi-colored wild flowers, to Bishop's Castle. Mr. Bishop has been personally handbuilding this fairy tale fantastical castle, and feuding with numerous local, state, and federal agencies, from native rock from his property, hauling the large stones up the walls with a primitive block and tackle method. In addition to unbelievable towers, he has a dragon's head smoke stack sticking out of the top of the castle, where the smoke from the fire puffs out in the winter. The castle is adorned with much airy metalwork trim, since the Bishop family have have long owned a metalwork business in Pueblo. As we have watched him build it higher and higher through the years, I've hoped he was as good an engineer as he is a designer. It has become an important tourist attraction in the area and he funds it entirely from free will offerings and a gift shop where he sells photos of his castle as well as all kinds of appropriate style items made by local craftspeople. Several years ago I bought the Celtic cross I wear at the giftshop. I've taken the grandchildren to see the castle several times when they were visiting, but this was Kat's first visit and she was properly awed by it.

We then traveled on south to San Isabel Lake, where we sat at a wet picnic table (on my Audubon throw as it had just stopped raining) and ate our picnic lunch, while watching squirrels, chipmunks and blue Stellar Jays looking something to eat. I was able to get a couple of photos of a small ground squirrel but the gorgeous Stellar Jays refused to cooperate and pose. As we were getting back into the car a deer walked across the road right in front of us and stopped to stare for a moment, but I couldn't get my camera out and operating fast enough to take her photo. As a photographer, I make a good fisherman, always talking about the one that got away.

Kat asked how close we were to the town of Rye, since her oldest and closest high school friend, Klee, lived at Rye. Since we were just a few miles from Rye we drove there and found her husband's name in the local phone book and Kat called and got directions to her home. It turned out that her address was Rye but their place was about 25 miles east in the broken canyon and mesa land at the foot of the mountains where the old Hatchet Ranch had been divided into mini-ranches about 10 years ago. We drove on narrow, gravel roads that wound around and up and down over the ridges and only lost our way once. We managed to figure out where we went wrong and after retracing part of our drive we finally found the road Klee lived on. Because of the broken nature of the land, not to mention it's extremely rural location, the cell phone service kept going out, which made checking the directions problematic. Now we understood why her three daughters had done their schooling online. Klee's husband, Steve, is able to do most of his work at home by computer, also, and only has to travel to the office every couple of weeks to meet with his colleagues.

Klee is an amazingly talented woman who raises several breeds of sheep, angora goats, and angora rabbits for their wool and fur, which she cleans, dyes, spins and weaves into marvelous pieces as well as selling the wool and yarns. I had last seen Klee at a family barbeque in Fowler for Missouri Day a couple of years ago. As we visited she was spinning her own wool with a drop spindle. She also makes lovely small baskets from pine needles as well as making papers from fibers, such as sunflower stalks, and okra pods. She and the girls make masks and collages from the home made papers. The family also grows a lot of their food in their vegetable garden, sing professionally at places like The Royal Gorge and are heavily involved in all aspects of theatre, which they started years ago at the Nomad Theatre in Boulder.

Steve and Klee designed and built their spacious and airy home which is designed around a solarium for growing plants as well a providing passive solar heating and cooling. They still have to complete some of the final construction tasks; finishing laying the stone veneer on the fireplace (the flat stones are carried down from the ridge behind the house a few at a time), and installing the door and window trim, etc. The views from the windows are spectacular from Greenhorn Mountain on the Western skyline to sweeping views of stony ridges and grass covered hillsides dotted with sunflowers sloping to the house. I loved hearing the baaing of the sheep and the song of the Rocky Mountain Canary (donkey braying) as well as the whispering breezes.

For dinner, Klee and Steve fed us homemade bread, home grown lamb and onions grilled on skewers, and the best coleslaw I've ever had made from a fresh picked head of cabbage with red grapes (I don't think they grew the grapes, but if they think of it they will probably put in a vineyard.) We had such a great time talking, laughing, and admiring the girls' artwork that we stayed later than expected and Klee led us back to the I-25 in the dark and sent us on our way home through Pueblo (rather than the mountains in the dark) with hugs and waves. On the way to the highway we were surprised by a black cow suddenly showing up next to the car on the side of the road. According to Klee, the locals all know that you have to watch out for those black poppers that pop up when you don't expect it.

It was quite late when we got home and altogether it was a wonderful day!

By the way, I want to express my appreciation to all of you for your prayers and encouragement. When I discussed the results of the echo cardiogram with my family doctor we were surprised to find out that I do not have Congestive Heart Failure, the test showed that my heart is beating strongly and the medical staff is mistified by what caused my condition. I now have appointments with a Cardiologist and my Pulmonologist in August and September for more tests. My doctor wondered, along with me, if this could be related to the Sarcoid that affects my lungs. I researched online and found that when Sarcoid affects the heart it can mimic heart failure. So now I play the waiting game again. At least I can breathe and my feet and ankles are normal sized and don't hurt so bad any more. But I am so weak and tired and my brain is just not functioning well, I am so forgetful and confused.

I actually managed to do more work on my June 12 x 12 the other day. This is the base piece which had to be quilted before I add the photos. The first sewing I've been able to do in weeks. And I am playing with the idea of doing something with the fantastic imagery of the echo cardiogram for my July piece. I'm also hoping to do some experimenting with a piece based on a drawing of a fantasy tree by Brena, Klee's middle daughter. She was gracious to allow me to photograph her drawing and do a fabric interpretation of it. She only asked to be allowed to receive photos of the process of creating it. Thanks,Brena.


sue said...

the castle looks simply amazing !!

Deb Geyer said...

I'm so glad you are feeling better! Looks like you had a wonderful Girl's day out!

Barbara C said...

I'm also glad to hear that you're well enough to have such a great outing and that you're also sewing again. These are great signs. I also love your desccriptions of your upcoming projects.

knicksgrl0917 said...
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Micki said...

Glad that you are feeling better. Your day out sounds like it was fun. Love the castle.

Debra said...

Your photographs are beautiful, the castle is amazing. Sorry to hear you have not been well.

Rian said...

Glad to hear your diagnosis is not CHF! You'll keep improving, I just know it. Looks like a great Girls Day! Good for you!

Susan Ramey Cleveland said...

I'm happy to hear that you're feeling better and that you got your day out finally. Also glad to hear you don't have CHF. Hope they find out soon what caused your problem so you can put it behind you.

Kay said...

Good new that you're feeling better Fran. What an enjoyable visit you must have had, and a fascinating life to look in on.

Deborah said...

Glad you are doing better. Sounds lke a great trip. Beautiful pictures.