Morse Code

Growing up in Colorado had many perks. One of which was greeting the New Year. 

As a youngster, I was always fascinated by a group of mountaineers that would spend their holiday climbing the Peak as we called it; Pikes Peak with an elevation of 14,114 feet above Sea Level. They were climbers named "The AdAmAn Club", my introduction to them was in the somewhat later than the historical founding members of 1922. A unique group of mountaineers, who each year on December 30th and 31st, climb the icy slopes of Barr Trail on the east face of world famous Mountain.

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On a cold December morning, these original five fun-seekers began their journey up the steep slopes of the Cog Railway tracks and they picked up flares along the way, left there by railroad workers. Historically, at Windy Point, 12000 feet high, conditions were almost impossible, as the wind had pushed huge snow drifts over the right of way. One slip might have meant a slide of several hundred feet down into huge boulders.

cog railway removing snow, operating in April to late June depending on the weather

cog railway removing snow, operating in April to late June depending on the weather

Hours later, the “frozen five” as they would later be named, sighted the huge tower of the old summit house as it moaned and groaned in the bitter cold wind. Snow had drifted so deep near the huge steel doors of the summit house, that they entered through a second floor entrance. Once inside they managed to start a fire in the old potbellied stove and soon frozen eyelashes, noses, fingers and toes began to thaw and their faces began to glow with the thought of their accomplishment. They ate, sang songs, and waited for the midnight hour. Then at the stroke of midnight, they lit their flares and the other fireworks they had hauled up the mountain, and built a huge bonfire of old railroad ties. They celebrated New Year’s 1923 from the summit of America’s mountain as they do today.

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That night was the beginning of a Colorado tradition, which is now more than 90 years strong. That following spring of 1923, this little group of five adventurers organized their new club. Fred and Ed Morath suggested the name “AdAmAn” and the five ruled that only one new member could be added each year. 

Today, the public is invited to watch the progression from afar and as a child I was enamored. Every few hours they would signal by reflecting the sun's rays or strike a flair and communicate to the lookers on below. My mother and I would use a mirror outdoors to signal back and track their progression. I swear our "homemade" Morse Code made all the sense in the world at the time as I knew they were signaling me in return. We measured and guessed how far they could climb before the next check in. What a thrill.  

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Usually, when they hit the tree line, where only rock, snow and ice can be found they could be seen a bit easier from the townspeople below. I always imagined how brave talented and a little crazy the AdAmAn group was.  

On the afternoon of the 31st, the signaling stopped. I would wonder if they made it. That is until the fireworks at midnight would begin. My parents were correct, "just wait, a little magic is sure to happen"  

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Cheers to our pioneers and new beginnings.

 

 

Home Comforts

The study of bees

The study of bees

Back…. Way back: I learned a lesson from my Mother and Father. It was to care for ones belongings. In this day of furniture with an expiration dates due to poor quality of home designed items, I found it necessary for refresher course on caring for a wood collection of well designed furniture in an organic and natural way. 

Immediately, what comes to mind is a piece of furniture from my youth that my parents had positioned stately near our front door. A roll top Scandinavian designed desk.  A great place for keys, hiding mail, and unloading our daily pockets. Mind you, my bother and I were never to take advantage of its many drawers, mechanics, and storage possibilities for our childlike collections, for this was a cherished piece of importance in my parent’s eyes. It’s location and structure I will remember forever. 

I was always intrigued by the way the solid bowed curved door came to a close as well as all of the secret compartments that held mementos, movie tickets, photos and postal stamps. Along with a few miscellaneous keys, to this day I have no idea what they unlocked. 

Hard at work

Hard at work

The color was a blondish Teak Wood, complete with a beautiful grain that ran through all of the drawers with decorative minimalistic carvings. --- Getting off the beaten path here with all of my reminiscing, we had to care for this piece with it seasonal cleaning, maintaining and polishing.  Oh, how I dreaded those days when my Mother would say “Cleaning Day” for I would much rather spend my time out of doors exploring and challenging my youth with all of death defying feats I could dream up. 

She wins as always. And so we begin the process, not scheduled, but any time it was needed in her eyes. Understanding the process of mechanics and engineering behind the products today they knew how to properly care for their belongings, a process many people write about today. I now realize how my parents were before their time or I perhaps I wasn’t listening at the time… I prefer the prior. 

In any case, we always started this ritual the same way. Clean with soapy water, dry, finishing with turpentine, today we call it terpeniod combined with linseed oil. The mix was one part terpeniod, with two parts oil. More or less depending on sun damage, watermarks, wear or tear or the like. 

A study in watercolor and gauche    

A study in watercolor and gauche

 

After a day of drying and care, it was time to buff and wax. My mother somehow concocted a mix of bees’ wax and essential oils that smelled a bit like herb garden at the time. I’m not sure how she came up with the mix today. It must have been something passed on by her family. 

Today, I use a concoction made by my friend William Varney, and organic gardener that knows just about everything for gardening, cooking, entertaining to just giving great advise concerning the home. In our talks, I was thrilled he knew exactly what I was speaking of not only for the preservation and care of items but the renewals of sprit that my parents had instilled within me for the care of home.  He has come up with a signature paste wax of pure bees wax, scented with lemongrass and sage. Described in one word, heaven. If you have a chore as big as this, it might as well be enjoyable.

William Varney's love: An organic lifestyle. Jump with a click of his logo to learn more

William Varney's love: An organic lifestyle. Jump with a click of his logo to learn more

A must have for the new homeowner as well as the old. Jump with a click to learn more. 

A must have for the new homeowner as well as the old. Jump with a click to learn more. 

 

What initially brought my attention to this subject; yes, quite boring to some; of polishing and caring for wooden items of furniture was a snippet of an article I had found in country living UK. “Something to Make” scented wax polish, gifts from the garden by Deborah Robertson. Along with a few pages torn out of a 2010 Martha Stewart magazine entitled “Furniture First Aid” and my personal copy of a book everyone should have, as a go to for the care of everything “home” entitled Home comforts, the Art and Science of Keeping a Home by Cheryl Mendelsom published 1999.  A great reference for the care and joys of home care.  Today, You’ll find me in the midst of late summer tasks thanks to William and all of the mentioned above, including my parents… 

To my parents, thanks for keeping me indoors for a few moments to learn a lesson or two and for never letting me know where the keys were kept for that desk…