30 December 2014

Wordless Wednesday

New Year's Sunrise, 2011

New Year's Sunset, 2011



Mount Guyot First Light, 2009

New Year's Eve 2000, Downtown Denver, Colorado, scanned from a 35mm print

Someone to Watch Over Me

The Wave

Making a list, checking it twice,
2014 was full of not nice;
Yet tons of tiny blessings abound!

In January, we made our favorite trek so far to The Wave. We had more time and better weather this time around, and a quick trip to nearby White Pocket yielded even more of the photogenic and remarkable red rock formations. Paradise couldn't get any better than this!

I've alluded to this experience before, but it bears repeating. This was the very same trip on which I cracked a tooth. I'd spent hours in total wilderness, 100 miles away from anything, munching on almonds and pistachios as we walked and photographed. Two days later, during our journey back home, we stopped to see relatives, and the tooth cracked while I chewed a slice of soggy grocery-store pizza. The torpedo that raged up the side of my head from my jaw, past my ear and all the way to the top of my scalp, momentarily sent such a wave of shock and pain throughout my body, I didn't know at first if I would survive. I felt as if I'd been fatally stabbed in the brain.

My next thought, once my brain began churning again, was an attempt at humor. My tooth and the exposed nerve within were giving up the ghost on the equivalent of baby food?!? No way!

A very heavy dose of ibuprofen got us home, and my dentist was able to fix everything the very next day.

Before that traumatic experience, however, we'd stopped for the night in tiny little Boulder, Utah. After three full days of hiking, we thought the hotel would provide welcome relief in the form of a good hot tub soak. Unfortunately, January is off-season in canyon country, and the hot tub was closed. If we had driven just a couple of hours more, Moab would have shared steam and a warmer low than the -11 we woke up to the next morning. When the 4Runner wouldn't start...

I drive a standard. Starter and battery problems often may be temporarily conquered with a push-start. So of course, it wasn't the starter or the battery. Had to be the alternator.

Both the car and the tooth could have picked the wilderness to malfunction. I told my husband Someone was watching out for us.

Six months later, while The Lizard was Day Twoing in the Double Triple Bypass, arguably the most challenging cycling event in all of Colorado, the 4Runner decided once again to demonstrate its high mile-AGE. I was able to park sloped on hillsides and roll-start onto low-traffic roads following each meet-up with my cycling hero to make sure he had enough food and water. When he finished, it was all downhill to the metro area and a brand new Die Hard, just a block from a chapel where I could attend church while the battery was swapped out. Perfect!

I told my husband Someone knew I'd make the effort to get to church if He took care of the details.

Two months later, we made our first big road trip outside of The Wave or visiting my parents in about eight years. 3,350 miles later, we'd partaken of the best the Pacific Northwest, the coast, the fields of lavender, the North Cascades, Missoula and Yellowstone had to offer. I'd snapped about 600 photos of a grizzly and her cub with the point-and-shoot because that's what I had in my hands when I first spotted her. My instinct would have been to grab the Big Gun, my good Nikon, but it was in the car, and I didn't want to miss a shot, so the powerful and professional-grade camera rested.

The day after we got home from this megamile/megasmile fantasy, the good camera powered through a waterskiing wedding before biting the dust at 139,000 shots since I bought it in 2008. My beloved '99 4Runner bit the dust yet again in the parking lot of a metro salad bar, just a few miles' tow to the only shop open on weekends that end of town, where the mechanic informed us, "You know, your fuel pump has nearly 350,000 miles on it. It's old. It just gave out." And two days later, my dentist made emergency room for me on his schedule yet again when my gums bit the dust, thanks to a popcorn hull I'd been unable to de-floss since Yellowstone.

The camera ended up taking two trips to Nikon over the next four months before deciding it wasn't quite ready for the scrap pile yet. The 4Runner was ready for action again about four days after emergency surgery and is purring like a very happy kitty right now. Fingers crossed... The popcorn hull didn't fare as well. But my mouth isn't ready for the scrap pile either, although it is fond of Thanksgiving leftovers.

Once again, any of these disasters could have happened while we were on vacation. Most notably, if I'd used the good camera on the grizzlies, would it have survived the wedding? I told my husband again Someone was watching out for us.

The following month, I pedaled up Deer Creek Canyon at the fastest turtle's pace I've ever managed. Ever. My adopted and now independent kids have called me more this year than in the past ten years combined. I've had sudden and unexpected peace envelope me during the deepest pits of depression at least five times this year. Most are too personal to share, but there's one worth repeating, and hopefully it will extend the Christmas spirit just a little longer.

One of my Christmas cards came back as undeliverable. I did a quick internet check to see if a different address might be on record somewhere. The most recent address matched what I had, so I ran another couple of quick searches looking for my friend's two daughters.

One had tweeted eight months earlier about her mom, whom I've known since fourth grade, being terminally ill.

Most of the depression I have felt this winter has come out of nowhere and without warning. This one was triggered, and it hit me hard. I didn't know how I would make it through the end of the day.

Then, bursts of sunshine penetrated the concrete jungle I call home during the workday and touched my heart with continual rays of joy powerful enough to smother the sadness threatening to devour me.

I received a cash bonus! Two of my bosses said very kind things to me I hope never to forget. My adopted daughter, who has learning disabilities, emailed me for the first time since I taught her to use a computer in 2002. Someone who bought snowflakes from me last year on an agreed payment schedule and who later paid only half the amount owed, explaining, "that's all they are worth," came to buy more snowflakes, this time in cash, full amount. That night on the train home, I expected the emotions I'd been holding back all day to overpower me, but the nurse I occasionally sit with when I work late sat across from me. Each December, she gives me a simple, small homemade ornament when she sees me, typically only once or twice during the busiest season, and I always feel guilty because I never have anything with me to offer in return. I fail miserably at being prepared for this kind of magic at Christmastime.

This year, I had a ball of my hollyhock thread, a tiny bit of stuffing and a crochet hook in my bag, and I immediately went to work on a heart amigurumi because hearts are super quick, and I don't need a pattern. I finished it just as we reached the final stop. She'd watched me work on it the entire trip. Her enthusiasm spilled out all over the train as she gushed, "You made that for me? You made that so quick! I can't believe you did that!"

I'd made it through the day and the train trip, and my soul, although still sad, was filled with unspeakable joy.

It was just a tiny little blessing. The littlest and simplest thing.

But it proved, once again, Someone is watching out for me.

Someone Loves You

29 December 2014

Snowflake Monday

Gorgeous Day, Albeit Cold

The name of the thread colorway I used when I designed this snowflake is Winter. Perfect!

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

Solstice Snowflake

Solstice Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in ring, * ch 6, 2 dc in ring, ch 6; repeat from * 5 times; ch 3, 1 tr in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form 6th ch 6 sp of Round. Pull magic circle tight, but leave opening big enough to allow stitches inside it to lay flat.

Round 2: 5 sc over post of tr directly below, * 9 sc in next sp; repeat from * 4 times; 4 sc in next sp; sl st in starting sc.

Round 3: 1 sc in same sc as sl st, * ch 18, 1 sc in 8th ch from hook, 1 sc in next ch, ch 1, sk 1 ch, 1 hdc in each of next 2 ch, ch 1, sk 1 ch, 1 dc in each of next 2 ch, ch 3, 1 sc in 5th sc of next 9 sc group; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last sc of final repeat; 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, Winter Colorway: * 5 sc in next sp, working up spoke [ch 4, 2 sc in next ch 1 sp] 2 times, ch 4, 2 sc in spoke tip sp, ch 3, 2 sc in same sp, ch 5, 2 sc in same sp, ch 7, 2 sc in same sp, ch 5, 2 sc in same sp, ch 3, 2 sc in same sp, working down spoke, [ch 4, 2 sc in next ch 1 sp] 2 times, ch 4, 5 sc in next sp, ch 8, 1 sc in 3rd ch from hook, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 dc in next ch, ch 3; repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Round 4, White: * 5 sc in next sp, working up spoke [ch 4, 2 sc in next ch 1 sp] 2 times, ch 4, 2 sc in spoke tip sp, ch 3, 2 sc in same sp, ch 5, 2 sc in same sp, ch 7, 2 sc in same sp, ch 5, 2 sc in same sp, ch 3, 2 sc in same sp, working down spoke, [ch 4, 2 sc in next ch 1 sp] 2 times, ch 4, 5 sc in next sp, ch 10, 1 sc in 3rd ch from hook, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 dc in next ch, ch 4, sk next 4 ch, sl st in next ch; 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.

Solstice Snowflake

26 December 2014

23 December 2014

Wordless Wednesday

In the Spirit

December Cake

Let's Skate!

Rudolph

Ornament Contest

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus

two to go

yum

Christmas lights always make me happy.

Hudson Gardens

the reason for the season

Silent Night

Better Than Christmas

The Big Gun is home!!!

Sunrise on the Highline Canal with the iPhone:

Sunrise on the Highline Canal

Sunrise on the Highline Canal with the point-and-shoot:

Sunrise on the Highline Canal

Sunrise on the Highline Canal with my newly refurbished, brand new circuit board, Nikon D300:

Sunrise on the Highline Canal

Sunrise on the Highline Canal

Sunrise on the Highline Canal

Sunrise on the Highline Canal

Sunrise on the Highline Canal

22 December 2014

Snowflake Monday

Bandon, Oregon

I'd planned to use my second "Frozen"-inspired amigurumi today, but limited internet access and demanding work responsibilities have forced me to alter the Snowflake Monday schedule yet again. Maybe it's better this way; crocheters are still trying to crank out quickie snowflakes before Thursday, and the amigurumi I'd planned for today took me two weeks!

We hadn't planned to overnight in Roseburg, Oregon, following my nephew's Shady Cove wedding last month, but we couldn't resist a drive up the Oregon Coast, which resulted in lovely Bandon sunset photos. Roseburg also put us closer to our flight out of Eugene the next morning. I created this snowflake in Roseburg after a half day of the most inspiring beach photography.

Roseburg Snowflake

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: 6 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

Roseburg Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: 12 sc in ring; sl st in starting sc. Pull magic circle tight, but leave opening big enough to allow stitches inside it to lay flat.

Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), [yo and draw up loop through same sc, yo and draw through 2 loops on hook] 2 times, yo and draw through all three loops on hook (starting cluster made), ch 3, * sk next sc, yo and draw up loop through next sc, yo and draw through 2 loops on hook, [yo and draw up loop through same sc, yo and draw through 2 loops on hook 2 times; yo and draw through all 4 loops on hook (cluster made), ch 3; repeat from * around 4 times; sl st in top of starting cluster.

Round 3: * 3 sc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 3 sc in same ch 3 sp; repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in same starting cluster as end of Round 2.

Round 4: Ch 5 (counts as 1 dc and ch 3), * 3 sc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 1 dc over sc into top of next cluster, ch 3; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last dc of final repeat; sl st into 2nd ch of starting ch 5.
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 5: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), * 1 dc in middle (2nd) sc of next 3/sc group, ch 3, 1 dc in same sc, sk next sc and next ch 3 sp, 1 dc in next dc, ch 8, 1 dc in 8th ch from hook, 1 dc in same dc in main body of flake; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last dc of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 6: * 2 sc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 2 sc in same sp, 6 dc in next ch 7 loop, ch 7, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook (dc picot made), ch 5, sl st in 2nd ch from hook, 1 sc in next ch, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 dc in next ch, ch 3, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook (dc picot made), sk next dc picot, 1 dc in next ch, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 sc in next ch, sl st in next ch, 6 dc in same ch 7 loop 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.

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.

Roseburg Snowflake
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