23 August 2016

Lucky Ducks


We noticed a pair of baby mallards in Waterton several weeks ago. We saw them again the next few rides over the next couple of weeks. Eventually we realized there was no adult around. The babies were alone.


Instead of just training, my rides up Waterton became status checks. I always stopped to see if I could find the babies, even if it meant getting eaten alive by the biting flies. I couldn't ride home without knowing if the babies were okay.


We recently took another ride up Waterton after a three-week break doing other rides and not seeing the babies when we did ride Waterton. I had feared the babies were gone. It would be tough to grow up in Waterton without a parent to teach you how to stay away from predators.

But we'd seen a bear cub do just that two years ago. Could the ducklings do it, too?

It took some real stealthy looking, but I found our teenagers, still side by side, and it looks like they are going to make it! Mama taught them well before she disappeared!


22 August 2016

Snowflake Monday


I really love this little snowflake I designed for the top of my snowflake lamp, but when I tried to get a photo of the actual snowflake on the lamp, I couldn’t find it!!!

A few days after I finished the lamp last winter, I came home from work to find three or four snowflakes had fallen off their mounts. I'd made more snowflakes than I needed, and I decided to alternate. I replaced the fallen flakes with different snowflakes.

I hope that's what happened to this little Lost Boy. I hope the original prototype is one I ended up sending to someone to spread joy. I hope it's making someone very happy right now. That would make me very happy.

You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!


Finished Size: 3 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 7 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, water soluble school glue or desired stiffener, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line

Lost Boy Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 11 dc in ring; 1 sc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to start Round 2. Pull magic ring tight.

Round 2: * Ch 3, sk next dc, 1 sc in next sc; repeat from * around 4 times; ch 1, 1 dc in starting dc to form 6th ch 3 sp of Round.

Round 3: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc over post of dc directly below, * ch 6, sl st in 3rd ch from hook and in each of next 3 ch (straight point made), 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 12, sl st in 8th ch from hook and in each of next 2 ch, ch 1 (long point made), 3 dc in same ch 3 sp; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last 3 dc of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2; bind off. Weave in ends.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Finish: Tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.

If using glue, mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture or desired stiffener. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or plastic wrap. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch the snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

18 August 2016

Never Give Up

Yes, it's a shampoo commercial, but the story is awesome, and she does have beautiful hair. (Couldn't find a non-commercialized version of this to share, but I did learn child actress/model Valentina donated her gorgeous hair to Locks for Love last December!)

16 August 2016

Shower Fun


John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" has been playing in my head ever since last Friday.

"I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky."

Denver supposedly penned the song after watching the Perseids high in the Colorado mountains.

We didn't go high this time; we've driven to the San Juan mountains in the past in an attempt to shoot the meteor shower sans metro light pollution and with the scraggly skyline of the Cimarron. Previous predictions of hundreds of shooting stars per hour sent us into the high country with high hopes. Never, until this year, did our excursions prove successful. Either the camera I had at the time wasn't capable of capturing shooting stars, or the predicted celestial fireworks just didn't pan out as frequent as planned.

I turned one evening's adventure into star trails, which means stacking all the individual images in Photoshop, which shows the path of the stars over the course of about an hour or so.


Star Trails in the Cimarron circa 2007

The only successful meteor shoot I'd ever experienced prior to last Friday was the Leonids back in 1999, with a film camera. Back then, most hobby photographers couldn't shoot unlimited shots. I used all 36 shots on a roll. I think I saw 16 meteors that night, but I didn't have the camera pointed in the right direction for all those shots. Nevertheless, I thought it was a GREAT meteor shower because I'd never seen so many in one night.

I captured two shooting stars on one very long exposure and rushed the film to the department store the next morning before work so I could get the film back that night. I couldn't wait to see if the shot had turned out!!!

The department store printed all my photos green. "You must have light-leaked your film," they told me. "There's nothing on here but white streaks." They weren't going to charge me for processing. I begged them to print them again, and to print them black, explaining they were sky shots with stars.

The reprints were still a tad green, but the shooting stars were very clear. I don't know where those original pictures are now, but the best one looked something like this...


Last Thursday, my bosses granted permission for me to be a couple of hours late on Friday so I could attempt to shoot what was expected to be the best Perseids show in history and then sleep a bit before reporting to work.

We set the alarm for 1 a.m. Friday because that was when the moon would set, got up and checked to see if the skies were clouded because we'd had clouds but no rain for about three weeks. We could see stars! We could even see shooting stars, even though the city lights from Denver and Aurora made the sky way too light! We grabbed the camera bag and the tripod, loaded up the car and rushed out east until we could no longer see the aura of Aurora to the northeast and north. We had to drive for an hour and a half to escape the light pollution!

Off to the south, Colorado Springs was still vivid on the skyline, but mostly because of the city lights reflecting off a huge cloud bank that was filled with electricity. Pretty cool to watch! But that wasn't why we were there.

The Lizard found a seemingly deserted dirt road, I set up the tripod and began shooting. We had to put on our fleece, but the weather was otherwise perfect.


Perseids literally rained all around us. We saw faint ones, we saw fireballs, we saw tails that took a few seconds to fade away. It was the most incredible sight!

I had not shot the night sky other than fireworks and lightning with my Big Gun, the Nikon D300. I had researched how to shoot the Milky Way, but I don't have a wide-enough angle lens for that yet. The D300 is what they call a cropped frame sensor, which means my favorite lens, 65mm, is more like 90mm, which is great for portraits and flowers. Not so good if you're trying to shoot the entire sky.

I started out with the 15-second exposures recommended for shooting the Milky Way but forgot to change the aperture, which I'd last used for macro flash photography. I was shooting at F16, which means a very tiny opening. Which means my first five or six shots, including one Perseid that just happened to pass through the sky where my camera was pointed, turned out all black. Not enough light. I didn't discover this until I checked to make sure I got the shooting star, and I was SO discouraged!


The next several shots were spent adjusting the aperture until I had star images with which I was content. From that point on, I manually fired the camera every time the shutter closed, paying attention to the block of sky where the camera was pointed but trying to watch the spectacle for as far as my peripheral vision could see. This isn't official or anything, but I think we saw a Perseid every five to ten seconds. For more than an hour!

I haven't yet gone through all 180 shots, but so far, I found seven exposures with shooting stars.


We shot until the camera battery died, then drove back home. I was so excited, it took me nearly an hour to fall asleep. I woke up at 7, then downloaded the camera and quickly scanned through the photos. I'd tried to remember which frames had shooting stars. 83, 111, 117, 126, 153...

I quickly processed the photos I remembered with Perseids, sharpening and increasing the contrast; my bosses had told me they wanted to see photos. I had to have something to show for my unplanned vacation time! Then I looked for the photo with the plane. Yes, a plane went through one of my exposures!!! I couldn't help thinking of Hervé Villechaize!


Then I quickly grabbed 36 consecutive exposures and stuffed them in a separate folder so I could run the star trails action in Photoshop. With that, my work was done. I rushed to water the garden, then The Lizard dropped me off at the train, and I had SUCH a hard time staying awake until 5. But I made it through the day, and oh, was it ever worth it!

I am SO glad we got to see the Perseids this year! What an incredible show! A true meteor SHOWER!!!

15 August 2016

Snowflake Monday


This is one of the final 20 snowflakes I made to finish off my dining room lamp last winter. I worked up the snowflake-covered rock during a recent trip to Aspen to train for next month's MS-150.

You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!


Finished Size: 2.75 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 7 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, water soluble school glue or desired stiffener, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line

Aspen Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 17 dc in ring; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2. Pull magic circle tight, but leave opening big enough to allow stitches inside it to lay flat.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in same ch as sl st, * ch 3, sk next 2 dc, 2 dc in next dc, ch 6, 1 sc in 5th ch from hook, ch 8, sl st in sc, ch 4, sl st in sc (tri-picot made), ch 1, 2 dc in same dc in main body of flake; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last 2 dc of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2; bind off. Weave in ends.

Finish: Tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.

If using glue, mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture or desired stiffener. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or plastic wrap. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

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