Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Retirement actually begins!

Hunter's first week of retirement began with a farewell party at John Deere, honoring his 36 years with the company. Laughter and lively chatter flowed from the conference room where many people gathered to wish him well in his next career: RETIREMENT! Hunter gladly explained that for him retirement was moving on to another purpose-driven mission: MMAP. It will also be a time of visiting family and creating more memories with children and grandchildren, as well as exploring the wonders of the United States.

With the farewells said and the computer and keys left at the office Hunter shut one door and opened another. The next several days were spent in Minnesota at a niece's wedding and a time with our children and his one and only (at the moment) grandchild.

(Good family photo but not complete without Steve!)

His first week of retirement ended with quite a "bang", or should we say a "whirlwind"-a 95 mph whirlwind! The night we returned from Minneapolis, the Quad Cities, especially Milan where we are staying, was hit with a monster storm. The National Weather Service called it a "derechos", which is spanish for direct or straight ahead. This is a rare severe weather event, known for its longevity, incredibly high-sustained wind speeds and fast-moving nature. We safely, but a bit nervously, rode it out in our 40,000 pound motorhome which rocked back and forth, like a "cradle in the treetops". Pelting rain on our roof accommpanied the wind to create quite a lively symphony. Sleep didn't come for hours. In the morning light we discovered a campground strewn with fallen trees, some on other RVs as well as vehicles. Thankfully we were parked on a cement slab "out in the open", which we bemoaned when we first arrived!
Hunter immediately joined the crew of volunteers who spent the next several days sawing and hauling away the debri. Our only problem was a lack of electricity but with a generator we were supplied with power when we needed it.

(Hunter is the one in the "New York tuxedo"!)

I end today with a quote I found in a magazine targeting the older population.
"Don't resist transition. Embrace the change-learn about the new "world" you're in and take advantage of it. You still bring to bear all your prior experience, but you're riding on another level. It is liberating. Now, everything you do, you do because you want to. The best is yet to come."

Monday, July 7, 2008

Love/Hate Relationships

Iowa white-tail deer. Aren't they beautiful? I love to watch them while biking on the Bettendorf bike trail, but I hated their intrusion on my acre yard in Blue Grass as they nightly nibbled on 50 or more delicious hosta plants. Hunter loved to see them cross his path in the woods while he was bow hunting yet he really hated to kill them, although our children were raised on their meat.

Following is a video of another animal love/hate relationship. Ruthie, Rebecca's pet yorkshire terrier, "loves" Christian when he is in his jumper or high chair dropping Cheerios or other yummy morsels. On the other side of the coin, she (Ruthie) hates Christian when he trys to play with her, which amounts to grabbing handfuls of doggie hair. See what I mean!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

July 4th

July 4th is about fun and enjoying our freedoms. We are blessed to live in a country where we are free to do as we like, go where we want, worship God and His Son, Jesus Christ, where we are drawn. Yesterday, Hunter and I got on the motorcycle and went for a muddy hike in Loud Thunder Forest Preserve then hosted a father and his three children for an evening meal of brats and beans. What "freedoms" did you enoy on the 4th?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What's a mulberry?

Hunter and I have begun the routine of exploring our "yard" by hiking either early morning or evening. Our current location, at a campground in Rock Island, is surrounded on three sides by bodies of water, off shoots of the Mississippi and small roads leading to other seasonal camper spots. One evening, while on our trek, I noticed trees loaded with small dark berries. My "walking encyclopedia" husband immediately identified them as mulberries. That night we picked and ate our fill from several trees. Being an incessant baker I wondered about the possibility of harvesting those berries for a pie.
The following day I did some internet investigation and learned that this fruit was not really a berry but a collective fruit and only resembled a blackberry in appearance. The trees in Rock Island are white mulberry trees, rather than black ones. I only know this because they produce their fruit in spring instead of summer or early fall. Even though they bear the name "white" they can produce white, lavender, or black fruit. Locally the trees bear black fruit, which stains your fingers immediately! Since I learned they were suitable for pies, the following evening we gathered a plastic table cloth and set out to harvest dessert. It was fun to shake the branches and watch the fruit fall into piles on the red-checkered cloth. We are talking here about wild fruit, therefore along with the sweet morsels we got a variety of dried leaves, sticks, bugs, and tiny worms. When we returned to our RV we soaked our treasure in a large bowl of cold water hoping the little "critters" would swim to the surface while the berries sank. That didn't work exactly as planned. It took me quite a while to carefully examine the "berries" on the kitchen counter to feel relatively sure they were bug and worm "free".
Today I made the pie and it was truly delicious. I almost feel akin to Daniel Boone's wife! I even baked the pie in my "outdoor" oven!(Check out the picture below.)
Hunter just came back from a little fly fishing in the "backyard" and he said he spotted an elderberry bush. Another pie possibility? I'll let you know.