30 November 2012

Project Blizzard

Ta da!

"Project Smile" began in 2010, if memory serves correctly, thanks to another photographer, who, like me, battles depression during winter months, due to lack of daylight. (Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD)

The project goal was to capture photos of things that bring smiles, thereby creating a natural and fun tool to fight depression. I participated the entire first winter and then was heartbroken (and depressed!) when it didn't continue in 2011. Because I love snowflakes and winter (even though it's a difficult time for me emotionally and sometimes even physically), I launched my very own project, taking the new name of Project Blizzard because, as it turns out, the name Project Smile already belongs to a very worthy charity, as well as numerous dental charities that provide impoverished children with toothy smiles.

Before the first page of November 2012 ever opened, I came up with an idea to shoot the sunrise every day of this month. Ever since I moved to Colorado, I've noticed November sunrises are THE best. Plus, sunrises make me smile. Sunrises give me a reason to get up each morning during the cold, dark winter.

The first winter I did this project, my participation lasted from September through March. Last winter, I needed only three months, November through January. I'm pretty excited I was able to stave off unwanted SADness again this year until now, and I'm hoping this tool will help others who suffer similarly.

So here's to another hopefully winning battle this winter...

actual November 11 apres sunrise

On November 11, the sunrise was completely clouded over.

same shot with a graduated brown filter filter

Two hours later, the sun finally popped out, and I made good use of a graduated brown filter.

the most bleak and lonely place I could think of

November 26 was yet another gray day, with hints of snow instead of sun. In addition, I was scheduled for a medical procedure that day. So before my appointment, I drove to the most bleak and lonely place I could think of for my ugly sunrise. When I got back home, Photoshop to the rescue!

Photoshop to the rescue!

Thanksgiving in Grand Junction was a reminder of my childhood in New Mexico, with mountains on the east side and more brilliant sunsets than sunrises. While the Grand Junction sunrises were nothing to write home about, the sunsets illuminated my soul and my creativity, while bringing back a most precious humorous memory. (The Elk Charmer photo is my hilarious memory, NOT The Lizard deleting his blog!)

sky ablaze

over the rooftops

courtesy of my Elk Charmer

Full moon the last two days of November provided a spectacularly different type of sunrise.

November's full moon

sea of pink

Many more things made me smile this month.


Multiple colors of Christmas cacti are blooming in the same pot!!!

must spray...

My windflowers, decimated by mealy bugs during the summer, were tricked by our Indian Summer throughout November into sprouting all over again. They may have earned themselves a trip inside the house next freeze!


On November 3, Greeting Card Universe informed me one of my cards had been selected as Card of the Day.

Front page!

I don't typically get on the internet too much on weekends, but this, I had to see!

indoor happiness

During the first weekend of November, we had snow and brrrrrr cold. I replanted some itsy bitsy little pots a co-worker gave me in a Secret Santa exchange nearly a decade ago.



Coming up!!!


They're growing! They're growing!

Getting close...

On moving day at work, I couldn't closely monitor the hit count on my most popular pattern, the Light Rail Snowflake. Sure enough, during a box-shuttling trip, the counter advanced.

Darn!  Missed the magic number AGAIN!

My first 100K post.

Full house!

My second 100K post came five days later.

It will be a while before #3 hits six digits.

Once again, I missed the zeroes.


In August, I began a commissioned project to benefit the Colorado Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. On November 10, I finished tiny bear #12!

Peppermint Stripes in Vail

Christmas lights...

Red Hot Pokers in Vail

Oh, how I love Christmas lights!

Sunrise in Vail

And snowflakes! Oh, how I love snowflakes!

2012 Christmas Tree

I'm not so good with The Lizard's video camera yet. But I love our little four-foot, 17-year-old fiber optic tree! (Music is a perenial favorite: Christmas Eve/Sarajevo by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.)

first tiny present beneath the tree

Our first tiny present beneath the tree. (Shhh! It's a surprise for The Lizard!)

Goin' Sleddin'

curious arctic guest

NOTE: I had to close this post to comments due to the high number of fake fans attempting to post comments with dangerous links.

29 November 2012

Heels Over Head

Dream Car #1

a real-life adventure

Read Part V here.

Now available in ebook format!

I assumed that meant I had sustained the worst injuries. I was thankful the people in the other car were all right.

The ambulance was the winner. A uniformed paramedic stooped to take the place of the woman at my side. He lifted my left arm to take my pulse, and I cried out in pain. He hollered the vital statistics across to someone I couldn't see, and the people who had been securing my right side moved to make way for the backboard.

I shuddered in the memory of the last time I'd been taped to a backboard. Two years earlier, nearly to the day, I watched as firemen cut through my driver side door with "the jaws of life," just inches from my leg, to free me from my first dream car. The car I intended to keep for the rest of my life. The car I loved so much, I bought another one just like it after that first ordeal. And now identical twin Dream Car II was upside down in the I-25 median, yet another shattered reality.

I knew my neck wasn't broken the first time, too, but the driver who had run a stop sign and broadsided me knocked my car 40 feet through a fence and into the front yard of a home owned by a paramedic and nurse husband/wife team. I kind of wonder now how it always happens that someone with medical expertise is close at hand when I get knocked senseless. Is someone planning this out in advance?

The paramedic at my first big wreck was quick to respond ─ he beat the ambulance by a good two minutes, and his RN wife was close on his heels. The fire truck took longer, coming from across town. The whole time we waited, the paramedic held my head against my headrest as the nurse tried to comfort me, even though I kept assuring them my neck was fine.

The crew freed me from my mangled vehicle by sliding me onto a backboard. What a tricky maneuver! They taped me down to keep me from moving during the 45-second ride to the hospital a couple of blocks away.

The thing I remember best about my first brush with an airbag is the shot the doctor gave me to "relax" my muscles. They don't tell you as that needle's sinking in what kind of bruise you're going to have the next day.

The thing I remember second best is the nurses peeling the tape from my hair. Or should I say, peeling my hair from my head?

And I thought airbags hurt!

I wondered what memories from this new deadly airbag encounter would haunt me most...

Read Part VII here.

Table of Contents

Copyright 2012 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 November 2012

Snowflake Monday

I've moved into my new space at work, but I'm still sorting through (and living out of) boxes and boxes and boxes. Our shelving and cabinets are late and won't be installed for a couple more weeks, so boxes are everywhere.

In addition, I've spent all 18.5 years of my career with my employer working with two of three departments. As of last week, a short and holiday week, which provided a tiny bit of emotional rubber bumper for me (think pinball spontaneously pinging around huge spaces with sharp corners aimlessly), my small work group is now nestled in the third department. I'm going to be learning a whole new set of skills for the next few weeks. Or months. Maybe even years.

My own job has not changed, but helping my new co-workers as part of a team is like going back to school after many years of summer break. I welcome the opportunity to learn and expand my horizon, but I expect I may not be as focused on some of the fun stuff. I expect to be an earnestly attentive team player for a while as I learn the ropes. (I try to be proficient in my job every day, but it's been too many decades since I've had to master new job responsibilities! Can this old dog learn new tricks?!?)

This ordeal is not one-sided. I'm the only one on my floor who does what I do. My new team will have to learn my job just as I have to learn theirs.

So, once again I find myself dipping into my Cold Storage of snowflake patterns. Now I have 26 unpublished designs remaining.

This snowflake was inspired by my very own blue and white hand-dyed thread the first time I used professional dyes.

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: 4.5 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 8 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, 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

Cold Storage II 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 3 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in same sc as sl st, * sk next sc, 2 dc in next sc, ch 3, 2 dc in same sc; repeat from * around 4 times; sk next sc, 2 dc in same sc as starting dc; ch 3, sl st in 3rd ch of starting ch 3.
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 2 (counts as 1 dc), *9 dc in next ch 3 sp; repeat from * around 4 times; 8 dc in next ch 3 sp; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 4: Ch 4 (counts as 1 dc and ch 2), * 2 dc in 5th dc of next 9/dc group, ch 3, 2 dc in same st, ch 2, 1 dc in next gap between 9/dc groups; ch 2; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last dc and ch 2 of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 4.

Round 5: 1 sc tightly in same ch as sl st, * ch 2, 9 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 2, sk next 2 dc, 1 sc tightly in next dc; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last sc of final repeat; sl st in starting sc.

Round 6: * Ch 7, 1 sc in 5th dc of next 9/dc group, ch 6, 1 sc in same st, ch 7, sl st in next sc; repeat from * around 5 times, ending with sl st in same sc as sl st ending Round 5; bind off. Weave in ends.
NOTE: When working up a new white version of this snowflake 11 years later (while simultaneously preparing to move from one office building to another at work AGAIN!!!), I used ch 10 tips instead of ch 6 tips, and I really like the new variation!

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.

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