28 February 2011

Snowflake Monday

Ice Mountain Snowflake Rug

Give your eyes and hands a rest and put away your tiny hooks and thread this week. We're going to make an Ice Mountain Snowflake Rug!


I pulled out all the white yarn leftovers in my stash from at least the last 20 or 30 years because I decided instead of buying a space rug for my wood floors, I wanted something unique. What I made has eight strands of yarn, including one that is off-white, which I believe adds a little bit of depth to the project.

My "handspun" includes at least two but possibly three skeins of Red Heart Super Saver (in various assorted balls leftover from multiple projects), two skeins of Aunt Lydia's rug yarn (does that date me or what?), one skein of an unknown brand with a little bit of sheen, one skein of Christmas yarn with an iridescent strand, two skeins of baby pompadour (from Super Yarn Mart... how old is that?!?) and one unmarked skein of boucle. Ends are extremely easy to weave in on this project, so I used up every small white ball I could find, joining new balls to whatever ran out, taking no thought to matching strands when tying knots. If you don't have any white Christmas yarn and are unable to get your hands on some, consider using a strand of metallic thread to add a touch of sparkle.


Ideally, this project is made with no new purchases, just busting the white stash. During the final row of my project, I ran out of yarn three times. I pulled some yarn off the biggest remaining skein each time and was able to finish up. At the very end, I was within inches of running out of two more skeins. Mission accomplished! Stash busted!

This is a very soft rug and suitable for cuddling if you decide it's too nice to put on the floor. If you use lots of acrylic yarn, it is weather proof and will take quite a feet beating. You don't have to block it, you don't have to stiffen it, and you don't have to glitter it.

Three Apostles

Ice Mountain is the middle of the Three Apostles, a trio of 13,000-plus-foot rugged peaks in the heart of the Sawatch Range. At 13,951 feet, Ice Mountain is the third highest point along the Continental Divide (behind 14ers Grays and Torreys Peaks), is one of Colorado's Centennial Peaks (highest hundred) and is considered one of the most challenging in the state to climb. One of the most popular routes for climbing Ice Mountain has a great name: Refrigerator Couloir. A day climb of all three peaks, North Apostle, Ice and West Apostle, is called Ice Squared, another awesome name. I have no desire whatsoever to climb Ice Mountain, but I'd sure like to get a sunset shot of it reflecting in Lake Ann at the base of West Apostle. The picture above shows the Three Apostles from beaver ponds at the base of 14er Huron Peak. Ice Mountain is the middle peak. The photo below is Lake Ann from the top of Huron Peak. Oh, and Sawatch is a Ute term meaning "blue earth" or "water at blue earth." See why this picturesque valley is called by that name?

Lake Ann

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!


The critters wasted no time staking out territory on the new rug.

Ice Mountain Snowflake Rug

Finished Size: 49 inches from point to point
Materials: White yarn leftovers, size Q crochet hook or desired size for number of yarn strands being used (I used eight strands and approximately 6 skeins of yarn)

Ice Mountain Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring. I wrapped the magic ring around all my fingers instead of just one for the rug version!

Round 1: Ch 3 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in ring, * ch 3, 2 dc in ring; repeat from * around4 more times; ch 1, 1 dc in 3rd ch of starting ch 3 (ch 1 and 1 dc count as final ch 3, and you will be working over the post of the dc on the next round). Pull magic circle tight.
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 3 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc around post of dc directly below, * ch 1, 1 sc between next 2 dc and pull tight, ch 1, 2 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 2 dc in same ch 3 sp; repeat from * around 4 more times; ch 1, 1 sc between next 2 dc and pull tight, ch 1, 2 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in 3rd ch of starting ch 3 to form 6th ch 3 tip of Round.

Round 3: Ch 3 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc around post of dc directly below, * ch 2, 1 sc in next sc and pull tight, ch 2, 2 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 2 dc in same ch 3 sp; repeat from * around 4 times, ch 2, 1 sc in next sc and pull tight, ch 2, 2 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in 3rd ch of starting ch 3 to form 6th ch 3 tip of Round.

Round 4: Ch 3 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc around post of dc directly below, * ch 1, 1 dc in next ch 2 sp, 1 hdc in same sp, 1 sc in same sp, 1 sc in next ch 2 sp, 1 hdc in same sp, 1 dc in same sp, ch 1, 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 3 dc in same sp; repeat from * around 4 times; ch 1, 1 dc in next ch 2 sp, 1 hdc in same sp, 1 sc in same sp, 1 sc in next ch 2 sp, 1 hdc in same sp, 1 dc in same sp, ch 1, 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in 3rd ch of starting ch 3 to form 6th ch 3 tip of Round.

Round 5: Ch 3 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc around post of dc directly below, * ch 1, 1 hdc in next ch 1 sp, 1 dc in same sp, 1 tr in same sp, 1 tr in next ch 1 sp, 1 dc in same sp, 1 hdc in same sp, ch 1, 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 3 dc in same ch 3 sp; repeat from * around 4 times, ch 1, 1 hdc in next ch 1 sp, 1 dc in same sp, 1 tr in same sp, 1 tr in next ch 1 sp, 1 dc in same sp, 1 hdc in same sp, ch 1, 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in 3rd ch of starting ch 3 to form 6th ch 3 tip of Round.

Round 6: Ch 3 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc around post dc directly below, * ch 2, 1 sc in next ch 1 sp, ch 2, 1 dc between next 2 tr, ch 3, 1 dc in same sp, ch 2, 1 sc in next ch 1 sp, ch 2, 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 3 dc in same ch 3 sp; repeat from * around 4 times; ch 2, 1 sc in next ch 1 sp, ch 2, 1 dc between next 2 tr, ch 3, 1 dc in same sp, ch 2, 1 sc in next ch 1 sp, ch 2, 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in 3rd ch of starting ch 3 to form 6th ch 3 tip of Round.


Round 7: Ch 3 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc around post dc directly below, * ch 2, 1 sc in next ch 2 sp, ch 2, 2 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 2 dc in same sp, ch 2, sk next ch 2 sp, 1 sc in next ch 2 sp, ch 2, 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 3 dc in same ch 3 sp; repeat from * around 4 times; ch 2, 1 sc in next ch 2 sp, ch 2, 2 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 2 dc in same sp, ch 2, sk next ch 2 sp, 1 sc in next ch 2 sp, ch 2, 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in 3rd ch of starting ch 3 to form 6th ch 3 tip of Round.

Round 8: Ch 4 (counts as 1 tr), 1 tr around post of dc directly below, 1 dc in same sp, * 1 dc in each of next 2 st, 1 hdc in next st, 1 hdc in next sp, 1 sc in next sc, ch 1, 1 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, sl st in top of dc just made, 1 dc in same sp, 1 tr in same sp, ch 4, sl st in top of tr just made, 1 tr in same sp, 1 dc in same sp, ch 3, sl st in top of dc just made, 1 dc in same sp, ch 1, 1 sc in next sc, 1 hdc in next sp, 1 hdc in next st, 1 dc in each of next 2 st, 1 dc in next ch 3 sp, 2 tr in same sp, ch 4, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 dc in next ch, 2 tr in same sp as previous 2 tr, 1 dc in same sp; repeat from * around 4 times; omitting last tr and last dc of final repeat; sl st in 4th ch of starting ch 4; bind off. Weave in ends.

Finish: Weave in any ends still showing. Throw snowflake on the floor and finger shape. Treat your feet by standing on it, walking on it, dancing on it, or curl up on it and get the feel of Ice Mountain all over. You're done! Welcome to the exploded snowflake club!

Ice Mountain and the Refrigerator Couloir
Ice Mountain and the Refrigerator Couloir

25 February 2011

Friday Funny

Ken Nolan and friends majestically climbing Uncompahgre Peak in winter
My artistic interpretation of Ken Nolan and friends climbing Uncompahgre Peak in winter

Note: Several years ago, Ken Nolan, mountaineer extraordinaire, spotted paw prints in the snow leading to wing tip imprints at the end of the four-legged critter's journey. Ken, tongue-in-cheek, challenged fellow mountain climbers to explain the photo below in 10,000 words. This was my 2,548-word rendition of what really happened that day in 2006.

Class Assignment by Ken Nolan
"Class Assignment" by Ken Nolan

The snow was 18 inches deep, and the sun finally was shining. Blue skies were beckoning Bunny out of her protective den. She’d cautiously survived hunting season, third year in a row. Now it was time to see which of her forest friends had been equally as lucky.

Dressed in her finest and whitest winter wear, Bunny hopped out into the fresh powder, sinking a good two inches.

Bunny in summer“Oh, my friends can wait a while! This is just too much fun!” she giggled as she rolled about, kicking up whirlwinds of spindrift and catching twirling snowflakes on her tongue. After a few minutes of careless frolicking, she absentmindedly rolled into a slushy discolored bank. Her clothes were now all wet, and yellow to boot.

“Ah, I see you’ve played in your morning coffee,” cooed Wiley Coyote, who had been vigilantly stalking her until she managed to season herself with a most distasteful spice.

Now alert and adding an attractive tint of embarrassment to her shiny coat, Bunny backed away into an Acme willow with hungry tentacles.

“You snot!” she cried, “Now look what you’ve done!” She tried to brush sporadic pinpoints of bright red blood off her coat, but realized that removed her fortuitous aromatic protection, too.

“I guess I’ll just have to wear polka dots today,” she smirked as she burrowed deep into the snow in an attempt to cave her way out of this mess.

Wiley in summer“Don’t waste your strength, Buggzette,” the coyote crooned. “I’ve lost my appetite for succulent hare, unless you happen to have any freshly bathed and groomed relatives lurking nearby.”

“Don’t you have any roadrunners to chase?” she snarled.

“No, I ate them all.”

She knew he was lying. She could see his ribs. She also knew her well-timed respite would last only until her harejob wore off. It was time for a visit to a distant neighbor.

24 February 2011

Still Healing

When I grow up, I want to be just like you!
Prior to emergency back surgery in 2004, the neurosurgeon said I'd be back to normal in eight weeks. He thought he would be removing a disk; I was unable to hold still for the MRI, so they didn't get a clear image.

While I was out cold, the neurosurgeon discovered a dime-sized bone chip embedded in my sciatic nerve and determined that was the root of my pain instead of a herniated disk. He removed the bone chip. When I came to, I was thrilled to learn all my parts were still intact and nothing had been removed other than the bone chip, but I somehow missed the part about how long the healing would take for this different-than-planned surgery.

We may never know how I chipped whatever bone that caused this situation. The neurosurgeon said it could have happened years earlier, or it could have been fairly recent.

At nine weeks, I was (very slowly) touching my toes. This was pretty exciting for me because other people I'd met who'd had back surgery had told me they still couldn't touch their toes at six months. A couple of back surgery recipients even told me they couldn't touch their toes after two years. Nevertheless, I was not healing as fast as I thought I should, and depression kept taking bites out of my sanity.

RtR 2005At six months, I asked the doctor what the heck was going on. I thought this was supposed to be eight weeks.

"Where'd you get that?" he asked. "This is minimal two years."

Two years?!? I'd been drawn for the 2005 Ride the Rockies, and we'd be embarking on that journey in just a month, and now I found out I still had another year and a half to go?!? This could not be happening to me. I wanted my life back. And I did not like my back!!!

Two years to be able to do some of the things I had been doing prior to the bone chip making contact with my nerve, the doctor explained. Nerve damage, he said, could take up to seven years to heal. If it was going to heal. No guaranties.

In February of 2011, that means I have eight months now to go. Eight more months that the dime-sized hole in my sciatic nerve can heal. If it can heal.

Gone are the days when I could make landmark improvement, such as the first night I was able to sleep on my stomach, nine months after surgery, something the doctor said I wouldn't be able to do and shouldn't do anyway. I'd always been a tummy sleeper, and I absolutely refused to give up on that one!

slow, slow, slowThe day I could put my socks on without sitting down.

The day I could climb the stairs without holding onto the rails.

The day I could swing my leg over my bike when I was getting ready to ride instead of having to lay the bike over and sort of twist it up underneath my leg.

The day I was able to ride two hours in the car without having to take a stretch break.

The day I carried my backpack for the first time since surgery. That was another thing the doctor said I probably wouldn't be able to do.

The day I wore jeans the first time since the doctor had cut me open... Lee Denim Day (in support of breast cancer research and awareness) last October!

I've made a ton of progress, and I'm still seeing tiny little things every now and then. I can't complain. I can do so much. I did two of the hardest rides I've ever done in my life last summer. I have been incredibly blessed.

My dear sweet husband often teases that he enjoys being married to a living barometer. That's because I can feel storms coming six hours before they get here. I can't say I like feeling changes in the weather, but it is kind of neat to have more accurate and reliable forecasts than I can get from any meteorologist. (I can laugh about that because in school, meteorology was one of the careers I thought I might like to do for life. Just didn't know I was going to have a built-in knack...)

owieEver since I was able to get back on my bike, I've faced demoralizing stiffness after a ride. Even when on the trainer in my basement during winter. I've been told arthritis can set in where you've been opened up, particularly at my age. So what I'm dealing with might not be all nerve damage. There may be other factors at play.

Nevertheless, I did everything I could to try to stimulate and encourage nerve growth, regeneration and rejuvenation. Avocado, blueberries, spinach, broccoli, lots of water, no red meat, no sugar, plenty of rest, tons of stretching, daily exercise, daily walking, daily prayer...

Last year during Ride the Rockies, I was stiff after each day's ride. After Day Four, the hardest day of the week, I wanted to go home. I didn't want to finish. I did finish, but I really had to fight my attitude every day. I had to continually tell myself this was vacation, and I was having fun. My back knew I was lying and wasted no time in letting me know.

The following weekend, I did the MS-150. After the first 75 miles on Day One, for the first time since surgery, I wasn't stiff. I couldn't believe it! It was a miracle to me. I don't remember if I was stiff after Day Two. I'd finished Day Two in my best time ever, even before surgery, and that's all I cared and celebrated.

self-explanatoryAfter Pikes Peak in August, I was depressed because I came up half a mile short. And I hurt. My body did not like me at all, and I wasn't sure it was ever going to forgive me. I didn't do too much athletically for the rest of the year, not only because of other things going on in my life, but because I felt my body needed time to recover, emotionally as well as physically. The longer I went without doing much, the more the depression kept trying to take over. And I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I was losing all the ability and strength I had built up.

After the busy holiday seasons, I was able to devote time to the trainer, not my favorite activity, but it was activity. I could try to lose the weight I'd gained, and I could try to rebuild some of my aerobic strength. Plus sweat a lot, and for some reason, that's a healthy thing to do. Stinky, but healthy.

Trainer miles don't count as real miles, so you'll never see them recorded in my road and trail miles; trainer miles count only for sweat and for keeping the saddle tolerable to the rear end throughout the off-season.

Two weeks ago, I wasn't stiff after I got off the trainer. I thought it was because I hadn't worked hard enough. So I worked a little harder the next night. Again, I wasn't stiff.

Ever since surgery, The Lizard has set up a footstool for me to use in getting on and off the trainer because I could not mount or dismount the bike without it. I just didn't have the flexibility, strength or balance.

a good rideLast week, I got on the trainer without the footstool. I had been increasing my mile-long sprints ever since the night I wasn't stiff when I got off. I really pushed this time. I did four one-mile sprints, and I did a mile more than I typically had been doing every night, in the same amount of time. I wasn't stiff when I got off the bike. Now I was beginning to feel this wasn't something I was doing wrong. This wasn't because I was slacking. This wasn't because I am a wimp. Something had changed, and I felt as if I was on top of a 14er, even though I'm a good 7,000 feet lower!

Now, I've been increasing my time on the trainer by a mile every night. And I can get off that trainer without the footstool. I'm not stiff when I get off. I can walk just fine.

I'm anxious to see how I do in this year's MS-150. I'm anxious to see how I'll feel afterward. I'm even excited instead of intimidated about Pikes Peak. I was worried two years ago that all the healing was done. I thought I was stuck in that condition forever. But I'm not!

I'm still healing. I'm still healing!

22 February 2011

Wordless Wednesday

snowflakes, roses and bears
Cortez loves orchids!
snowflake, lily and rainbows
by candlelight
our rings

Scrambled Signals

NOTE: Fundraising for 2016 has concluded. I haven't decided whether to do another booklet for 2017 because we haven't decided whether we can afford to participate in another MS-150 in 2017. I'll announce our decision as soon as we make it.

Snowflake Patterns to benefit multiple sclerosis
Yesterday I learned one of my readers never received the snowflake pattern booklet I sent via email back in January. Over the weekend I learned one of my Etsy friends had found all my lost emails to her in her spam folder.

I check my spam folder every day because, unfortunately, things I really want end up in the spam folder on a regular basis, and no matter how many times I mark as spam the garbage that DOES get delivered, it still comes to my inbox. (I have no need of dating services, I'm quite capable of finding education on my own, and I really don't need medical enhancement!) Aaaaargh!

I love modern technology! But it is frustrating when you send something electronically, and it never gets there.

If you made a contribution to the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in my name or my husband's name and did not receive the booklet I emailed, please let me know, and I will try to get it to you one way or another.

If you have emailed me with questions or comments and have not received a response, please let me know. I do try to reply to every email, if I am able. I promise not to ignore anyone! (Well, except spammers...)

21 February 2011

Snowflake Monday

DeCaLiBro Snowflake and Mount Lincoln
How about a presidential snowflake for Presidents Day?!? This is my DeCaLiBro snowflake, and Mount Lincoln contributes the "Li" portion of the moniker. Yes, you guessed it; the mountain was indeed named for Honest Abe.

Lincoln Memorial in DC
The DeCaLiBro is another set of 14ers I’ve actually climbed. One of the four summits I’ve climbed twice in winter-like conditions but not calendar winter, so those climbs don’t count as winter ascents, darn it.

DeCaLiBro is the truncated name of four fourteeners that typically are climbed together in a day because the summits are so close together. The roundtrip hike of Mount Democrat, Mount Cameron, Mount Lincoln and Mount Bross from Kite Lake is 7.2 miles.

Mount Lincoln is the 8th highest peak in Colorado and 11th highest peak in the contiguous US. It is the highest of the DeCaLiBro.

A mountain bike trail climbs Bross and circles over to Lincoln. So I guess you know one of the challenging rides I'm hoping to successfully undertake one day!

The DeCaLiBro is pockmarked with old mines. Much of the high altitude land is owned by mining companies. In 2005, landowners cut off recreational access to the peaks, fearing liability in case of injury, citing dangers due to presence of old mine workings. (You’ll come across some really rusty and sharp surprises throughout the hike; trust me!) The nearby tiny but bold town of Alma inked a deal the following year to lease the peaks for a nominal fee to reduce potential liability to owners and make the peaks once again available for recreation. Alma is almost entirely dependent upon tourist traffic, and peakbaggers make up a gigantic part of tourist traffic in Colorado’s high country.

Here’s a little Alma trivia. The town sits in thin air at 10,578 feet and is the highest incorporated town in North America, stealing the title from Leadville, the 400-feet-lower home of the mountain bike race made famous by Dave Wiens, Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis, upon incorporation. Another mountain town that sits at just 9,000 feet, Winter Park, decided it wanted the elevation crown and annexed its nearby ski area the following year. Alma responded, tongue in cheek, by vowing to annex the DeCaLiBro summits, which would kick derrière and take no prisoners, since very little can exist year-round above 14,000 feet on American soil. Take that, Winter Park! There are no fourteeners close enough for Winter Park to annex.

Alma was named after the daughter of the town’s 1800s grocery store owner. Hmmm. Perhaps gutsy yet humble Alma deserves a snowflake of its own.

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!

DeCaLiBro Snowflake
Finished Size: 5.5 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 8 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, glue, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line

DeCaLiBro SnowflakeDeCaLiBro Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 6 (counts as 1 dc and ch 3), 1 dc in ring, *ch 6, 1 dc in ring, ch 3, 1 dc in ring; repeat from *4 times, ch 3, tr into 3rd ch of starting ch 6 to form 6th ch 6 sp of Round. Do not pull magic ring too tight.

Round 2: Ch 2, working over post of tr just made, [yo and draw up loop from tr sp below, yo and bring through 2 loops] 5 times, yo and bring through all 6 loops on hook (cluster made), *ch 10, cluster into next ch 6 sp; repeat from * around 4 times; ch 10; sl st in starting cluster.

Round 3: *3 sc in next ch 10 sp, ch 6, 3 sc in same ch 10 sp; repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting sc.
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 4: 1 sc in each of next 3 sc, ch 8, *1 sc in each of next 6 sc, ch 8; repeat from * around 4 times; 1 sc in each of next 3 sc; sl st in starting sc.

Round 5: 1 sc in each of next 3 sc, ch 10, *1 sc in each of next 6 sc, ch 10; repeat from * around 4 times; 1 sc in each of next 3 sc; sl st in starting sc.

Round 6: 1 sc in each of next 3 sc, ch 12, *1 sc in each of next 6 sc, ch 12; repeat from * around 4 times; 1 sc in each of next 3 sc; sl st in starting sc.

Round 7: Sk 1 sc, *1 sc in each of next 2 sc, ch 11, sl st in 2nd ch from hook, 1 sc in next ch, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 dc in next ch, ch 6, 1 sc in each of next 2 sc, ch 9, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook (picot made), ch 2, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook, ch 2, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook, ch 2; working back down last ch 9, sk 2 ch immediately before 1st sc picot, 1 dc in each of next 2 ch, ch 3, sk next 2 sc in main body of flake; repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting sc; 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.

Mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture. 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.


Mount Lincoln from Mount Cameron

17 February 2011

Eye Candy

My Kaleidocycle
Just look what you can do here if you have some square photos!

4 square images
four square images


kaleidocycle
time to play with scissors


Better than Rubik's!
Better than Rubik's!

15 February 2011

Wordless Wednesday

time to play
one of six
one of six
Success!

The Fight Against MS

Phil Keoghan and two women with MSThis is what my refurb iPhone can do in a dark theater...

I attended the Denver screening of "The Ride" to hear and meet "Amazing Race" host Phil Keoghan in person last week.

And all I can say is... "AMAZING!!!!!"

The Lizard and I have no cable at my house (by choice) and don't watch television (no time anyway), so I didn't know who this dude is, but last week's event was a benefit for the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, with ALL proceeds going to the charity. Regal Cinemas charged nothing for hosting this event and even provided a larger theater than originally planned when tickets for the smaller theater sold out.

Keoghan pedaled his Specialized Roubaix (Snowcatcher rides a Specialized Allez!) all the way across the US in 2009 to raise money and awareness for multiple sclerosis research. He, his best friend, his dad and a former California highway patrol officer spent 43 days crossing the US, averaging 100 miles per day and stopping in 39 cities, including Pagosa Springs and Denver, en route from Los Angeles to New York City. They raised $500,000 for MS in less than two months!!

When I first heard about this movie, I wondered if Keoghan knew anything about cycling. Last week, I found out he shares a love of two wheels just like me, although he says his riding across America dreams have been achieved, and he has no plans to repeat the feat.

He was racing his beater-up bicycle around the island of Antigua at the age of 10 and 11. So he knew how to ride, and he knew how to fuel his body. He didn't, however, know how hard 3,500 miles in 43 days can be on the body. This was not an easy task, but he rose to the occasion, even after being "bumped" by a car (in Colorado, of all places) and taking a good bite out of angled railroad tracks with more than 1,000 miles left to ride. He endoed, bruised his hip and leg, cut his face, tore his jersey and shorts and banged his helmeted head, and yet, following a visit to the local emergency room, he kept going. He didn't want to let down all the people who were following his progress and waiting for him in towns ahead.

Keoghan didn't just ride. He made appearances before riding each day, he made appearances after riding each day, he took the time to meet and talk to each person who stood in line to see him, signing autographs and listening to their stories, and he fulfilled all his "Amazing Race" duties and press interviews along the way. He battled Colorado's infamous wind. Oh, and he also kept up a blog! (which sadly, is no longer available) Having done a few long rides of my own, none this long, I think he did not sleep during those 43 days. In my opinion, he's got a little bit of Superman deep down inside.

To me, it appears Keoghan is doing for multiple sclerosis what Lance Armstrong has done for cancer. People with MS drove for up to four hours to meet Keoghan in the towns he stopped in during his ride, and two of the people he met along the way are his best memories of the ride, he said during a question-and-answer period after the screening of the film in Denver last week.

I'm not going to tell you about those two men because if you see the film, you'll quickly figure out which guys he's talking about. Both will bring tears to your eyes and give you just the determination you need to keep your own goals and priorities in sight.

Keoghan said he got involved with MS because many, many people kept approaching him for sponsorship of a wide variety of very worthy causes. He said he didn't want to do a hit and run... He didn't want to sponsor something for one day or one week, then move on to something else. He wanted to sponsor something he could put time and effort into, something he could devote a chunk of his life to.

After he formed a youth cycling team to benefit MS plus groom up-and-coming athletes for potential professional cycling careers, he learned a cousin has MS. So now, just like the rest of us who know too many people afflicted with multiple sclerosis, he has a connection. He is fighting MS from the heart.

This movie was among the most inspirational I've ever seen, and I highly recommend it. Take a good amount of tissue, though. This movie will hit you in places in your heart you didn't know exist.

Meanwhile, in my own fund-raising drive to benefit the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, "Carol" put me at the halfway mark on Monday, which means I am now a Premium Pedaler for the 2012 MS-150. I once again will get to register early, and I will get a discount on my registration fees. The most exciting thing, of course, is that this milestone was reached before half of my team (Great-West) has even registered! You, my readers, are amazing in your own right! Thank you for keeping the drive alive!

The Lizard is just $30 from his halfway mark, and if he is able to achieve his fund-raising goal this year, he will be a Premium Pedaler for the first time ever. And that certainly will make his Lizard Tail wag!

2009 start line
2009 Start Line

14 February 2011

Snowflake Monday

Golden Boy

A snowflake on Valentine's Day either has to have some hearts in the design or a love story behind it. I didn't have any hearty ideas in my head last week, so here goes my stab at a love story...

Mount Bierstadt often is captured in my photographs of bighorn sheep and mountain goats when I'm climbing nearby Mount Evans. I've named this pattern my Mount Bierstadt Snowflake.

I named this snowflake after Albert and Rosalie Bierstadt. Their initial attraction involves much more drama and intrigue than I've included here, but if you're curious, you can do your own research. I have opted to keep this story short and sweet. Regardless of how their relationship came about, Albert adored Rosalie and treated her with kindness and respect.

Mount Bierstadt and the Sawtooth

Mount Bierstadt was named after the famed 19th century painter Albert Bierstadt. The artist likely was the first European to climb then unnamed Mount Evans, which is connected to Mount Bierstadt via a picturesque ridge called The Sawtooth, and named the mountain Rosa in admiration not only of the tallest peak in Switzerland (a 15er!), but also his future wife, Rosalie. The Colorado legislature in 1895 officially renamed Mount Evans after the second territorial governor of the state but gave the name Rosalie to the 13,575-foot peak three bumps southeast of Evans. Rosalie Peak glances across stunningly beautiful Abyss Lake at Mount Bierstadt.

Rosalie Peak is the 207th tallest peak in Colorado, and Mount Bierstadt, at 14,060 feet, is 39th tallest. Mount Bierstadt from Guanella Pass is one of the easiest 14ers to climb. It was my 3rd 14er, and my then 14-year-old adopted daughter climbed it with me. I've made about 7 winter attempts up Bierstadt but have not reached the official summit in snow. Yet. I've also been up Rosalie Peak and each of its sub-summits, Bandit Peak and Pegmatite Points, as well as bumps Epaulet and Epaulie that connect Rosalie to Mount Evans.

One of my winter attempts up Mount Bierstadt was the day of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, but we didn't know about that until we were able to pick up radio reports on the way home. I will have more about the two peaks bearing the names of our lost space shuttles in a future snowflake post.

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!

Mount Bierstadt Snowflake

Finished Size: 5 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 7 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, glue, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line

Mount Bierstadt Snowflake Instructions

Mmagic ring.

Round 1: Ch 4 (counts as 1 tr), 1 tr in ring, *ch 6, 2 tr in ring; repeat from * 4 times; ch 3, 1 tr in 4th ch of starting ch 4 (counts as final ch 6, and you will be crocheting of the tr post in the next round). Pull magic circle tight.

Round 2: Ch 4 (counts as 1 tr), 2 tr over final tr post of Round 1; 3 tr in next ch 6 sp, ch 6, 3 tr in same sp; repeat from * around 4; 3 tr in same sp as starting 2 tr, ch 3, 1 tr in 4th ch of starting ch 4.
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 3: Ch 4 (counts as 1 tr), 4 tr over final tr post of Round 2, 2 dc over same post, *1 hdc in next tr, 1 sc in next tr, sk 2 tr, 1 sc in next tr, 1 hdc in next tr, 2 dc in next ch 6 sp, 5 tr in same sp, ch 6, 5 tr in same sp, 2 dc in same sp; repeat from * around 4 times; 1 hdc in next tr, 1 sc in next tr, sk 2tr, 1 sc in next tr, 1 hdc in next tr, 2 dc in same sp as starting 4 tr, 5 tr in same space, ch 6, sl st in 4th ch of starting ch 4.

Round 4: Ch 3 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in each of next 2 tr, *ch 6, 1 dc between next 2 sc, ch 6, sk next 5 st, 1 dc in each of next 3 tr, in next ch 6 sp work [2 dc, ch 3, sl st in top of dc] 5 times, 2 dc in same sp, 1 dc in each of next 3 tr; repeat from * around 5 times ending with sl st into 3rd ch of starting ch 3 instead of last 3 dc of final repeat; 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.

Mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture. 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.

Mount Rosalie in a sea of clouds

11 February 2011

Friday Funny

Remember those Christmas cards I was trying to get finished? Way back in December? Um, they never made it through the printer.

In 2009, I couldn't get the old printer to work, and in 2010, the new printer couldn't get me to work.

So I thought I'd do January cards. But those never made it through the printer, either. Actually, they never made it onto the computer screen...

ALL my cards were mailed this week. So if you're on my Christmas card list, you shouldn't be looking at this picture (that includes you, AlyeskaAurora!!!), and please don't read the poem below. You should have the real thing by Monday! I FINALLY got them done! On time! Just not in time for Christmas.

Happy Valentine's Day!
'Twas two months after Christmas and all through the town
the lights and the stockings were all taken down.
Through the snow and the ice and the wind with such sting,
all the creatures and humans hope it soon will be spring.
And we with our bikes on the trainers prepare
for the day we can smell wildflowers in the crisp mountain air.
This greeting is painfully late, as you see,
but that doesn't mean it has any less glee!

Merry belated Christmas, a luck-filled deferred New Year, happy overdue Groundhog Day and tons of timely love this Valentine's Day!

10 February 2011

Unspent Dreams

peaches from Shonna
Every time my phone rang since last August, shivers would go up and down my spine. As time wore on, I hoped it would be the call so the suffering could end. Yet I dreaded hearing the news. I couldn't picture Shonna not being here anymore.

On October 16, the phone rang, and it was from Shonna's number. She hadn't been able to use the phone in a while, so my stomach was twisting and turning again. To my surprise, it was Shonna. Her sister had dialed the phone for her and was holding it to her ear.

Hawaiian quilting"Will you sing at my funeral?" Shonna asked, weakly.

Her entire family was hoping she would make it until Christmas. She did. I sang at her funeral two weekends ago.

As I got ready to go to bed back in October, after talking to Shonna on what would be our final phone chat, and I saw the jars The Lizard and I had been collecting for Shonna for three years. Before she was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006, we brought her fresh Palisade peaches every year. She canned peaches. She always shared. After she started chemo the first time, we made all kinds of plans. She was going to teach me to can when she got better. I was going to help her can peaches.

The Lizard above GeorgetownWe were going to make a quilt together. She wanted to watch The Lizard in the Triple Bypass with me. She wanted to help with Makeover Madness -- every year. She wanted us to go to Estes Park for a weekend with her and her husband. She was going to write a book, and she wanted me to edit it. She wanted me to design a dress for one of the dolls she planned to make. She was going to teach me to direct music. She wanted us to come over for dinner when she felt good again. She wanted to go to the balloon festival in Albuquerque one more time.

Shonna never got better. Chemo took more and more out of her each year, as did the ferociously spreading cancer. But she gave it her all. She fought that cancer monster for four years and two months. Her last six months were filled with pain and suffering, yet still she clung to life for the treasure it was. Each time I visited her, she seemed to be drifting further from us. On Christmas Eve, she told me simply, "It won't be long now."

"It" took nearly another month.

Now that the pain and suffering have ended, I feel relieved. I miss the Shonna I knew before her third diagnosis. I miss her bubbly enthusiasm and her magnetic laughter.

Makeover MadnessMost of all, I wish we had been able to do all the things we'd planned. I wish she could have taken that one last second honeymoon with her husband. I wish her final years could have had more joy and less pain.

And yet, the things I did do with her are more important than the things we didn't do. The things I gave up to spend time at her bedside would never have brought me the joy I felt performing simple acts of service.

Bottom line is there are many things I'd like to do with family and many of my friends. Sometimes I allow life, commitments and work to dominate my schedule. I had always thought I will be able to do what I want next week, next month or next year.

Bottom line is if there are things I want to do with those I love, I shouldn't wait. I CAN'T wait. Not now.

One of Shonna's blue ribbon dollsWith Shonna, I didn't have much choice. We didn't make our grand plans until she wasn't able to do most of the things we schemed. Now the time has come not to allow miles, time or the economy to prevent me from living my dreams, showing my love, spending time where it counts most.

Bottom line is I spent the last six months doing what I needed to do and being where I needed to be. I gave Shonna foot massages. I covered her hospital room with balloon festival photos. I sang to her. I read to her. I was there.

When the day comes that Shonna and I meet again, there will be no regrets, except maybe over the blasted peaches I expect to ruin because I was never properly taught to can. But I'm sure we'll have a good laugh over that.

If you take anything at all from this, my moody ramblings, please let it be to spend the time your loved ones need. If you can't be cheering cyclists or admiring hot air balloons, just give the gift of time. In the end, that's all that matters anyway.


Rocky Mountain Balloon Festival
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