Friday, March 25, 2011

The Tonic of Friends

I've spent the last 6 days entertaining 3 best friends from my Wisconsin days. While I've had opportunities to visit them since moving back to Idaho, this is their first time to see in person where I work, play, and garner my inspiration for my art. This is Judi who now lives in Oregon, arriving last Saturday - what's wrong with this picture(besides the fact that she seems a bit chummy with that good-looking stranger)? Amtrak arrives and departs from Sandpoint in the middle of the night and obviously it is not the middle of the night. All my raving about the wonders of train travel, and she is plagued by delays adding nearly 6 hours to the 8 hour trip.

And then after we'd settled in at home with our coffee and breakfast, it started snowing. "I left the sunshine and warmth and spring blooms of Hood River for this?" Judi inquired. "No, to see me," I replied. Not much accumulated, it quickly melted off and we saw no more for the duration of her stay.

Judi brought a little show and tell, which I failed to get pictures of, and this lovely gift by an artist in her area - I believe it's
Kathryn Watne - my signature birches done in enamel on copper (3 x 5).

That night we were treated to this view of the Supermoon, taken from my yard looking towards the lake. Click on the picture for a larger view. The water reflecting the moon is NOT the lake, but standing water in the field from the recent rain and snowmelt.

The Wisconsin contingent was due to arrive a little before midnight, also by train and also late, but only a few hours. They came bearing food and wine...lots of food and wine. This represents a couple of Wisconsin wines, an Oregon favorite that I could readily get in WI but have trouble finding in Idaho, a bottle of Washington wine that they won on the train during a trivia game at a wine and cheese tasting, plus the bottle of Washington wine that Judi brought.

This is just some of the Wisconsin cheese they brought along - cheese curds (Judi snatched these up!), white cheddar with blueberries, regular cheddar...

...and boxes of crackers, Eau Claire's own Silver Springs Wasabi and Mustard (they not only make the best horseradish sauces, but also grow the horseradish on site) and jam by a local Amish family. I've missed that jam - there's nothing like it here unless I make my own. Oh, and don't forget the smoked almonds, Dove chocolate & Reese's peanut butter cups. So I guess you know how we spent a lot of our time.

Of course, I had to give them the quick tour of the sites before Judi had to head home Sunday night. They were thoroughly impressed by my local yarn shop, and fairly impressed with the scenery too. Yes, that's a lot of snow still on the mountains and we are fairly bundled up. Judi, Cindy and LeAnn with Lake Pend Oreille in the background.

All three had come prepared to fill idle moments on the train and here. While all are avid quilters, like me they also dabble in other needlecraft. LeAnn is taking a class on rug hooking and brought her "homework" along since she'd be missing one class.

Although I didn't catch her in the act, Cindy rotated between two different embroidery projects and knitting (you can just see her knitting project on the table in the bottom left). With 3 kids and a part-time job, chances to relax with a book are few and far between so when she tired of working with her hands, she escaped into a novel. Judi also brought knitting and a book. You'd think that perhaps I'd have joined in since I have no lack of handwork ready to pick up and stitch, but I'd done major spring cleaning in prep for their arrival, so I simply enjoyed relaxing in their company. Although I must admit, their industriousness was making me feel a teeny bit guilty.

The weather wasn't all that nice, but we did get a chance to walk the bike trail and there was plenty to do inside. Cindy and LeAnn participated in my Monday afternoon yoga class, followed by dinner out at Eickhart's Pub. For my friend BC: the Saranac black Irish Stout is worth tracking down and giving a try. These pics are from Cindy's phone which definitely had its limits.

We managed a table right in front of the small stage where Truck Mills led Eickhart's Monday night jam with an interesting mix of "world music blended with blues and Americana." Truck (left) started with just the guy on drums (Chris Ervin), but one by one, additional musicians showed up until we had this mix of guitars plus a guy out of the picture frame playing harmonica. At one point, a blues singer down from the Yukon Territories asked if she could join them on a couple of songs too, and she was very good. What fun!

Wednesday was their last day and it turned sunny and quite nice, perfect for our planned tour of the downtown area. They got to see the student art show at the Power House as well as the exhibit I'm in over at Panhandle State Bank.

Here's Cindy studying one of the quilts in that show.

And then it was on to the variety of shops - you can see LeAnn did her part to boost the local economy.

Alas, all good things must come to an end...but not as soon as we thought. Cindy and LeAnn were scheduled to board the train at 2:35 Thursday morning, but a check of its status before midnight showed it was already 3 hours behind schedule. The girls got some sleep and eventually the eta settled in at 6:53. The silver lining here is that we witnessed a beautiful sunrise on the way to the station and they would be traveling through the Rockies in daylight which is a rarity. However, 6:53 came and went, and eventually we contacted an agent who now informed us the train would arrive between 9 and 9:30. Well, it was a good excuse to go out to breakfast and that much more time to visit (because you know women never run out of things to talk about). The train finally arrived at 9:45 and they were very glad to board and settle in for the long trip home. I checked not long ago and it looked like their train had lost even more time, adding 10 hours onto a trip that's already over 24 hours long. Not exactly the best introductory experience to Amtrak but in spite of the delays, they seemed to enjoy traveling by train.

I know I sure enjoyed seeing these friends, showing them my work and getting their opinions on work-in-progress - there's just so much you can do over the internet. They have definitely acted like a tonic. I'm ready to get back in the studio, get out my knitting needles, get going in general again. Now if winter would just let go its icy grip...


June said...

A lovely tour of the visit -- and since the house is all clean and the visitors left you with all that good food and wine, you can really settle in to some work. And winter will loose its grip, but while it's around, you might as well stay inside and make art.

The Idaho Beauty said...

You are so right, June. I'm really enjoying the lack of clutter and everything so clean, and yes, I have plenty of leftovers and things to snack on. Plus, their industriousness with their handwork projects while here appears to have rubbed off - I really am all fired up to make art again. Unfortunately, the studio was the one room I didn't get decluttered and cleaned! I just plain ran out of time, but now I have a little more deadlines have appeared so we'll be tackling it and the languishing projects post haste!