29 March 2013

Good Friday

28 March 2013

Heels Over Head

Slick Rock

a real-life adventure

Read Part XXII here.

Now available in ebook format!

Flashbacks in the rain continued until snow came. Ice was frightening, but it didn't send chills through me like the rain. I gradually did get braver. But my driving habits were not resurrected. Not yet.

In the spring, it was necessary to make a trip back to New Mexico, where I grew up. Normally, the drive took 10 to 12 hours, with rest stops and food breaks. This trip took nearly 16 hours, a new world record, I think. I stopped much more frequently. Not always at gas stations or restaurants. I pulled over to give my mind a break every once in a while. Driving had never been so tedious. So exhausting. There was nothing refreshing about it at all.

On the way to my old haunts, my nose responded to the ceaseless pressure by springing a leak outside of Pueblo. Not the snotty kind.

I used up all the paper towels and napkins in the car trying to keep blood off my clothing and the Ugly Duckling car. We pulled into the very next restroom-equipped place, which just happened to be Kentucky Fried Chicken, so I could clean up and try to stop the bleeding. I'm sure the employees and diners there thought I'd been beat up or worse. The kids tried to explain at the counter while I was in the restroom, but the stares and glares that followed us out of the restaurant told me the kids' explanation had not helped. Maybe diners and staff thought I was on drugs...

On the way back home two days later, outside of Trinidad, we caught up to a thunderstorm. I pulled over the very first safe place to do so, and I waited out the storm. The kids didn't seem to mind. I didn't have any flashbacks, and that was wonderful.

The kids made use of the down time by pooling their Starburst Fruit Chews and, for no apparent reason, wadding the two bags of soft candy into a softball-sized blur of sticky color, which they then proceeded to play volleyball with in the backseat. Yes. I'd pulled over in a rather morose mood, but I didn't stay that way for long. Once again, my kids prevented me from wallowing in a bad frame of mind.

In May, it was time for our annual trip to Moab. I really didn't want to go. One of the women I work with, Ardie, decided she would go, and she invited us to hike to Landscape Arch with her and her two kids if we met her there.

My kids had been looking forward to the trip for months, even though I tried not to encourage them. As the designated weekend grew closer, they began endlessly pestering me about details. Would we camp? Would we stay in a hotel? Could we have a pool? Could we have pizza while there? Would we hike? Would we bike? Would we four-wheel? Could we go rafting? Could we buy souvenir T-shirts?

The kids packed their backpacks. They filled every water bottle in the house and stuck them in the cooler. They pooled their allowance to buy ice. They packed the sleeping bags, tent and cooler in the car. They hung previous years' Moab photos all over the house. They drew pictures of arches and sunrises and plastered them all over the fridge. Taz put the bike rack on the car by himself, something he'd never been able to do before, and then he carefully loaded the bikes, just like I would have. Then he offered to help drive.

How could I refuse?

(Don’t get me wrong. I conceded on the trip to Moab. But I did NOT allow a 14-year-old to drive. At least not on THIS particular trip...)

Read Part XXIV here.

Table of Contents

Copyright 2013 by Deborah and Brett Atkinson
All rights reserved. No part of this book - prose, photos or graphics - may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without express prior written permission of the author.

26 March 2013

Wordless Wednesday

or hide white eggs...



fur balls

winter critter munch

half a man


the choir

plenty to eat

num, num

Where's the water???

Have winter coat; will travel.

I can't believe I got this shot!  I can't believe I got this shot!  I can't believe I got this shot!


Smile big and often!

On Sunday, March 17, perhaps better known as St. Paddy's Day, I did 50 crunches for the first time since 2004. (I've been very, very slowly working up toward my goal of 50 since January.)

long enough

A month earlier, I was able to pull my hair back for the first time since cutting it off a year ago due to a cast on my wrist that made brushing too tangling an experience.

True Love

Last weekend, I shot a (hoedown) wedding, and it was the first time since back surgery in 2004 I wasn't in excrutiating pain after being on my feet and stooping for six to nine straight hours. PT is working!!!

looking good before the squares are even finished

Because we had another snowy weekend, I was able to do a bit more sewing. Because I'm trying to baste "Welcome to the Jungle" in spurts to protect my back and the awesome progress I've made, I'm taking breaks, such as the time I spent putting together my second leaf block.

spring's herald

I finally got to take the new camera wildlife hunting last snowy weekend.

Cautious Model

More to come tomorrow!!!

Ghost Cone Scarf

Mrs. Micawber's gorgeous cowl was featured on the cover of the most recent Interweave Crochet, and last week, it was spotlighted once again in a daily fiber email.

Turtle Rock

And you thought my little turtles were cute?!? Check out these. (Thanks, Goatfather, for passing on this link!)

in need of crochet

25 March 2013

Snowflake Monday

Colorado River

The Kokopelli Trail

Hi folks, this will be my last manflake post from the high desert canyons and ancient traveling route of Kokopelli. Indigenous people of the southwest US have myriad colorful tales and descriptions relevant to Kokopelli. Let's just say he was a hump-backed, flute-playing, fertility deity presiding over agriculture and childbirth. Kokopelli lore has been around since the early pueblo people. Ancient images adorning Hohokam pottery date from 750 to 850 AD. Mr. K got around the southwest when get'n around was no simple task, and he is quite worthy of his own manflake.

Along the Kokopelli Trail

Kokopelli is a fun topic to study on a rainy day, especially if you find the American southwest as mystical and magical as I do. Dig into Everett Ruess while you're at it. Or, peruse old canyon photography of enchanted Glen Canyon before the reservoir bearing John Wesley Powell's name was created. There's your 2013 homework assignment; enjoy.

Kokopelli also is the name of an isolated 142-mile mountain bike trail stretching from Loma, Colorado (just west of Grand Junction), to Moab, Utah. The route was completed in 1989 when mountain biking was still relatively new and mountain bike suspension that worked was just starting to exit the drawing board. Previous manflakes have been named after spurs off this trail. The route is a manflake's manflake and more or less follows the Colorado River west to just beyond the Colorado/Utah state border. After crossing picturesque high desert canyon country, the Kokopelli steeply climbs high into the La Sal Mountain range just before dropping back down onto the red slickrock of Moab. Although most of the singletrack riding is on the Colorado side, the old, rotting two-track and jeep trails composing the remainder are challenging in their own right. This is not an easy pedal.

Lion Loop of the Kokopelli

Most people tour the route in three to five days, and a handful of concessionaires provide guided trips in which all you have to worry about is riding. Guide services cook, clean and carry your gear so you don't have to. However, several speedsters have set some impressive one-day records while traveling under rules of self-support. In 2011, Jesse Jakomait set a blistering time of 12 hours, 18 minutes. Equally impressive was Lynda Wallenfel's 2006 time of 15 hours, 3 minutes. Perhaps there was a little Kokopelli blessing going on – it could happen!

I'm kind of partial toward today's manflake. Snowcatcher asked me to name it, and I thought Kokopelli might be fitting. I like the desert colors, mountain bike chainring structure (i.e., front sprocket) and Kokopelli hair spiking out radially. Thanks everybody, Snowflake Mondays have been quite the adventure. I've enjoyed sharing some of my favorite mountain biking areas, as well as my home stomping grounds. Enjoy this week's manflake.

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!

Kokopelli Snowflake

Finished Size: 4.5 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 7 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, 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

Kokopelli Snowflake Instructions

Foundation Round: Ch 30, 1 dc in 4th ch from hook, 1 dc in next ch, * sk 2 ch, sl st in next ch, ch 3, 1 dc in each of next 2 ch; repeat from * 4 times; taking care not to twist work, sl st into corner of first diamond to make a ring.

Ch 3, 1 dc in each of next 2 ch, sk 2 ch, sl st in next ch.

Sl st in tip of starting diamond.

Round 1: Ch 15 (counts as 1 dc and ch 12), sl st in 8th ch from hook, ch 4, * 1 dc around joint between next 2 diamonds, ch 12, sl st in 8th ch from hook, ch 4; repeat from * around 4 times; sl st in 3rd ch of starting ch 18.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

1 dc around joint between next 2 diamonds.

Round 2: Ch 3 (counts as 1 dc), * 1 trtr in next ch 8 loop, ch 3, sl st in 2nd ch from hook (picot made), ch 1, 1 dtr in same loop, ch 3, sl st in 2nd ch from hook, ch 1, 1 tr in same loop, ch 3, sl st in 2nd ch from hook, [1 dc in same loop, ch 3, sl st in 2nd ch from hook, ch 1] 2 times, 1 tr in same loop, ch 3, sl st in 2nd ch from hook, ch 1, 1 dtr in same loop, ch 3, sl st in 2nd ch from hook, ch 1, 1 trtr in same loop, 1 dc in next dc; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last dc of final repeat; sl st in 3rd ch of starting ch 3; 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 the snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

Daffodils and Kokopelli Snowflake Rock

21 March 2013

Heels Over Head

The Ugly Duckling

a real-life adventure

Read Part XXI here.

Now available in ebook format!

Chapter Seven

We didn't take a trip that first weekend because it was raining. But weather didn't dampen my kids' parade. Taz asked again if he could have a slumber party in the car.

I drove us to church the first Sunday, even though it was still raining. I figured, if you can't be safe going to church, you can't be safe. Period.

The following weekend, I took the kids to Barr Lake because it was close. I'd intended to take I-76 because it's an interstate, but not as harrowing as I-25. But I chickened out and took side roads instead. We lived to tell.

Taz's first concert was the following weekend. No problem. I'd practiced. I was ready for this.

Taz stayed at school. I picked up Raz after work and drove to the middle school. In the dark! I did it!!! I did it!!! I did it!!!

Taz played so well! Of course, how difficult can "Three Blind Mice" be? Nevertheless, I was proud of him. It was time for that long-awaited and well-deserved dinner out at a nice restaurant. We exited the school, and much to our horror, rain was falling.

The three of us froze in our tracks. Quite literally. We were soaked within minutes, and the temperature was typical Colorado Rockies autumn.

"What are we going to do now?" Taz asked.

I was tempted to let him have that slumber party after all. Just not with the boys he'd hoped to invite. The three of us could hole up at the school for the night. I was sure the nurse's office would have plenty of pillows and blankets.

I tried to work up my courage. I'd been an avid four-wheeler without four-wheel drive more than half my life. Mud had been exciting. Rain had been romantic. I could make a short jaunt home. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

I waited for all the concert traffic, mild though it was, to dissipate before starting the Ugly Duckling. The kids were uncharacteristically quiet. The windows fogged. Raz drew circular smiling faces on her window.

Finally the school was locked up, the windows were dark, all headlights were gone, and I buckled up and started the car. I said a silent prayer and put the car into gear. Taz asked if we could pray. I smiled and turned the car off.

"Heavenly Father," Taz said softly, reverently, "please help us to get home safely and help the car not to roll over. Help the car not to slide in the water. And help us be able to see out the windows. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

As precious as Taz's prayer was, it made me realize my kids were harboring the same insecurities and fear as me. Outwardly, we seemed fine and well-adjusted. Deep inside, though, demons from May 25 still lurked. I realized I could help exorcize them by making this trip, and doing it without whimpering and whining.

I started the car again and put it into gear. My instinct was to start singing. We knew many happy songs. That would have made us all wash away the doubt and memories. But I fought the urge so I could concentrate on the task at hand. I began rolling forward and slowly made my way toward 120th, the four-lane, busy-all-hours-of-the-day way home.

The green light cast an eerie glow on the rain-soaked street, and then instead of turning left toward the nice restaurants, I signaled right, toward home. Taz didn't protest.

The next mile seemed like 20. Headlights from the westbound lanes played connect the raindrops on my windshield. There were no cars in the eastbound lanes for as far as I could see. I stayed in the right-hand lane, hugging the curb as I set a turtle-like pace.

Onward I drove until it happened. I shrieked and slammed on the brakes. The car came to an immediate and clean stop, but all three of us were mildly thrown forward, feeling the tight lock of the shoulder straps.

"Mom, what happened?" Taz shouted. Raz was crying.

"Nothing," I whispered, trying to catch my breath. "I just remembered."

"Me, too," Taz said as he placed his hand on my shoulder.

Something about the streetlights reflecting on the street and the silent drumming of raindrops on the roof had warped me back in time. I didn't see the red neon King Soopers sign and the traffic light at my turn on Madison. I saw a dull gray jersey barrier suddenly spinning at me in slow motion, and I felt dizzy. It was a good thing I hadn't eaten. The half-processed food would have been all over my lap.

Taz massaged my shoulders. After a few minutes, he asked if we could pray again. Raz asked me to turn on my blinkers so someone wouldn't run over us.

"Heavenly Father," Taz said a little more boldly than the first time, "please help us to make it home safely, and help my mom not to be afraid. Oh, and thank you for helping me hit the right notes tonight. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

Not only did that prayer work miracles on my attitude and my heart, but Taz had successfully pulled what was important back into the forefront.

"You know what, Taz?" I said, wiping away salty tears, "you did play very well tonight."

"Can we have ice cream sundaes for dinner?" he quickly retorted.

Read Part XXII here.

Table of Contents

Copyright 2013 by Deborah and Brett Atkinson
All rights reserved. No part of this book - prose, photos or graphics - may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without express prior written permission of the author.
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