31 March 2023


28 March 2023


March isn't too early to focus on Thanksgiving or thanksgiving or giving thanks, right?

One of the podcasts I listen to every week reminded me recently that we shouldn't pray just when we need help, but also when we are thankful, which, I know but don't always remember, should be often.

I remember when I first moved to Colorado. I went from the middle of a small desert town to the border of a mountain national park overnight. All of a sudden, I was getting GREAT wildlife photos every single day.

I remember thanking God immediately the first time I got a photo of a mule deer with velvety antlers. I'd never seen any animal with velvet, and boy, was I addicted. I remember praying again as I printed the photos, then again when the best photo appeared on the front page of the newspaper I'd just begun working for. I remember thanking God when I got my first raise just a couple of weeks later because my photography was exceeding all expectations.

Now, it seems I don't get many photos anymore. Just my crocheted snowflakes. I feel like I haven't been out taking pictures the way I like to shoot for a year. I remember the days when I could fire off 600 shots in no time, such as when we visited The Wave.

I guess feel guilty because I haven't been thanking God recently for great photos. I think I've been grateful. I just haven't been focusing on gratitude.

On St. Patrick's Day, I got up and began working almost right away because work has been so busy. I had a live cam running in the background so I could hear the sandhill cranes, which are beginning to migrate north now, because I so love to listen to them. I remembered the times when Lizard and I would drive to Monte Vista in southern Colorado for the annual crane festival in March, and I almost cried because I don't think we will get to do that anymore. I looked over at my personal laptop screen and saw the sun rising over the Platte River where the cranes were gathered. I wondered if we might have a sunrise in our own backyard. It had been so long since I'd even looked out my bedroom window at sunrise!

A glance out the bedroom window blew me away. I threw on my shoes without tying the laces and grabbed my camera, then ran out to the fence as fast as I could to try to get a photo through the chain links before the miracle faded. It lasted but a few seconds. I thanked God over and over again for allowing me to see this sun pillar!

Later that day, Lizard and I were watching out the living room window, wondering if we might get more snow, when suddenly a pair of redtail hawks danced into view, swooping down low, then spiraling back up into the clouds before diving back down at breakneck speed. I've seen courtship rituals on wildlife documentaries, and we got to watch a couple of eagles from a distance (with a good telephoto lens) at Barr Lake doing their mating dance many years ago, but this was the first time either of us had been able to observe such a spectacle so close, so well lit and so spellbinding. I actually forgot to get my camera. We just watched and marveled. And thanked God for letting us watch!

The next day, work was so very busy again, but I didn't have to make my weekly trip into the office because it was snowing. I got only ten minutes that day to shoot snowflakes on my porch. I didn't get 600 shots. But I did get a few, and oh, are they beauties! I thanked God for the snow. I thanked Him for the ten minutes. I thanked Him for my camera. And I thanked Him for snowflakes each and every frame as I processed the photos later that week. (I still have about 30 more photos to process!)

I do constantly thank my Heavenly Father for allowing me to work from home so I can care for Lizard. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for this blessing. Yet, I don't always have the best attitude.

There is some jealousy within the office because I don't have to go in three days a week like most other employees must do now. I've been known to tearfully fire off defensive statements such as, "I'd cheerfully come in 12 hours a day, seven days a week, if I could have my husband back the way he was."

A couple of weeks ago, I was on the phone with one of our IT people in another state because my work laptop was misbehaving. The specialist working with me wanted to know when I'd be in the office again so they could see if the same problem was occuring there, or if it was just at my home. I explained I would be in for three hours the next week, which resulted in yet another, "Oh, you are so lucky!"

I do not consider Parkinson's lucky at all. I do not consider being forced to learn to be a 24/7 nurse and being forced to come up with realistic solutions to problems like sleepwalking and inability to use modern technology, and creative measures to prevent accidental overdoses and accidental skipped doses without diminishing dignity as lucky. After a few more good, hard cries, I realized this is another area where I need to change my attitude. I need to share the gratitude I feel rather than the bitterness. The remorse. The grief.

So now, I have this whole new me I'm anxious to present next time I have the opportunity. Next time anyone says I'm lucky because I get to stay home, I can tell them with tears of joy, "There is no luck at all. It's a blessing. My husband and I had more adventures together in 14 short years than many people experience in a lifetime. I am SO grateful I'm able to be the one who gets to take care of him now. I'm so thankful I am deveoping skills and personality traits I never imagined might exist. I'm so happy my husband is able to live at home, even though so much of what he was and who he was is being taken from him every day. I am so very blessed."

27 March 2023

Snowflake Monday

I struggled with whether I should make today's pattern an Easter egg to go with my original Alkanet Snowflake or make it a pattern of its own when I went back to make a white version of Alkanet. Ultimately, I decided it has been so long since I have used broomstick crochet to make a snowflake, I should issue the challenge to crocheters to learn and/or try broomstick lace as a delicate and optically gossamery form of snowflake making.

Ultimately, the reason my Alkanet redo became a new pattern is because I didn't have any drinking straws when I began making the snowflake. Not a single one! I searched the house for anything that might be a feasible option. Pens, pencils and crayons seemed handy... Until I spied my oversized knitting needles. That opened the option of creating a whole different look, a true broomstick appearance, to a pattern that upon first glance, especially when worked in a dark color, doesn't even appear to be broomstick lace.

Here are some potential broomstick crochet tools I found around the house back in 2012 when I first attempted to use this method of crochet for making a snowflake.

The knitting needles I used for today's pattern were the perfect size, but I had only two, so I ended up working my loops in thirds (two sets at a time), which is why I didn't get photos of the process. Not a very good excuse, I know, but true. I worked a petal of loops with one needle, then worked the next petal of loops onto the second needle. I then carefully removed the first needle, trying not to pull existing loops out of shape (which actually worked amazingly well) and reused the needle for the next set of loops.

When I worked my way back around for the next Round of crochet, I had to pay a little closer attention to which loops should come next, so for those who aren't into counting and spending extra time gently straightening (again, without misshaping) loops, it definitely would be easier to use six loop holders. The idea of three or more straws tied (or stung) together came to my head, but I didn't have any straws at the time, so I couldn't try the method. I'll look for some straws I might be able to cut up and photographically add to today's blog post because I still need a white Alkanet Snowflake... I see a few McDonald's orange juices in my future. That makes me VERY happy! Please be patient with me while I use, clean and save drinking straws!!!

I ended up using six Sharpies as loopholders for my white Alkanet Snowflake, which wasn't ideal, but it did work.

Crestone Peak, at 14,300 feet, is the seventh-tallest mountain in Colorado. I have not climbed it and likely never will now that my favorite climbing partner has been grounded, but I've climbed nearby Humboldt and achieved some glorious views. I even went back the following week to capture sunrise on this photographic gem and its even more photogenic but slightly lower twin, Crestone Needle. I guess I'm going to have to design yet another broomstick crochet snowflake now to take the twin's name!

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, six stitchholders, 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

Crestone Peak Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 7 (counts as 1 dc and ch 5); [1 dc in ring, ch 5] 5 times; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 7. Don't pull magic circle too tight.

Round 2: [In next ch 5 loop work (2 sc, 1 hdc, 1 dc, 1 hdc, 2 sc)] 6 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 3: Pull loop on hook large enough to place on loop holder and place on loop holder, draw up loop in each of next 6 st and place on holder, [draw up loop in each of next 7 st and place on new holder] 5 times.
NOTE: This is what Round 3 looked like back in 2013.

Round 4: Pull up thread on hook large enough to make [3 sc in 1st loop on next holder, in next 5 loops work (5 dc, ch 3, 5 dc) and gently slide loops off holder onto hook, taking care not to pull too much on 7th loop (which will cause loops just removed from holder to pull tight), 3 sc in 7th loop, ch 3, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook, ch 4, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook] 6 times; sl st in starting sc.

Round 5: [1 sc in next sc (or middle sc of next 3/sc group on repeats), ch 4, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook (picot made), ch 1, in next ch 3 tip work (3 dc, ch 3, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook, ch 6, 1 sc in 6th ch from hook, ch 10, sl st in sc, ch 5, sl st in sc (tri-picot made), ch 3, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook, 3 dc), ch 4, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook (picot made), 1 sc in middle sc of next 3/sc group, ch 5, sk next picot, in next ch work (1 dc, ch 3, 1 dc), ch 5, sk next picot] 6 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 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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