Absent from My Big Day

My eyeballs are all blurry from trying to make job aids on a very small computer screen. That hurts my eyes. But, it could have been worse. I could have been supervising my move from the Bobcat house. But on the contrary, Anita did that for me. She deserves a big reward. Well, I did pay to move her stuff from Austin. A small token of thanks.

And then, the relatives in Cameron helped with the unloading. I am incredibly lucky to have such a fine support system. I’m sort of at a loss for words to express my gratitude. Yes, me, all inarticulate.

Something else I am thankful for is that Lee hung up the curtains in our bedroom and finished turning it into his office/den. I’ll just sleep there.

According to the team in Cameron, Anita’s and my stuff totally fill the place they are stored. As soon as I get home, MY work of unpacking, downsizing, and organizing begins. It did feel weird to miss my own moving day. And I hope to heck it’s the last one! For sure!

Anita in the empty house.

The moving company we used is Square Cow Movers. Or moovers. They are small and local. Sort of. They are also in Denver. There was no hassle at all booking the move, and from all reports, they were just great. They even helped move this giant refrigerator.

Lee and the nephew has to disassemble it to get it in. It replaces the nonfunctional wine fridge in our pantry.

I highly recommend that company. And the price was reasonable, too! It feels good to have positive things to say about a company.

Over here in Colorado, a nice guy at the condo place found me a good box to mail things home in. That makes up for the unfortunate fact that they installed a family with children who never stop moving the entire time they’re awake upstairs from me. The parents are also stompers, thumpers, and droppers of heavy objects. That’s good, I think, because it makes me want to go home.

It was a bit cold for hiking this afternoon, so I shall visit the hot tub and rest my eyes. And I’ll soothe my muscles from not helping with the move. Ha!

Hexagonal Rainbow Stripy Glory

Hooray! My mistaken “invention” is finished! It’s perky, trippy, stripy, and glorious. If I were a baby, I’d want it for my floor mat, and I’d want to gum those wormy fringes.

It’s different, all right.

I had so much fun watching the stripes develop. And the fringe cracked me up. It makes the blanket a little feminine but won’t hurt babies.

It’s easy, too.

How to Make It

Intermediate and above knitters will want to know how to make one of these, so here we go, informally. Beginners, make the actual pattern! It’s easy.

Lion Brand Mandala in Gnome and Sprite with a little Honeycake.
from the Lion Brand site.

The basic pattern is NOT by me. It is an adaptation of Meadowland Baby Blanket by  Irina Poludnenko. (It’ a free download.) The pattern is supposed to create a square blanket, and if you follow the instructions correctly and pay attention to the diagram of how to make the triangles link up, you will, indeed, get a square blanket, just like the one on the pattern front page. Lots of people have made it, and it comes out quite cute.

However, I made a mistake after finishing the first triangle and picked up the stitches for the second triangle along the edge with the decreases, not the straight edge. If you look at the close-up above, you can see that I picked up the 96 stitches along the edge with a little jog in it (where the decreases that create the triangles are). So, you do this, too.

Other than that, follow the Meadowland pattern, but don’t stop after four triangular wedges (because it will NOT be a square). Keep going and make one more.

It really adds that pop of color to one’s bland timeshare condo.

For the sixth section of the blanket, you’ll attach the new triangular wedge to the first one as you go. To do this, end each right-side row with K2tog, knit next stitch together with the next cast-on bump from the first triangle. There will be 96 of them, and since there are 96 garter ridges in the triangle, you’ll end up having invisibly seamed the blanket. (In the close-up photo, the blue stripe was where I cast on, and the pink stripes are the last triangle.

You could also just knit the last wedge the same as the others and use mattress stitch to sew the edges together.

When you’re done, work the same edge as the Meadowland pattern calls for, or any other edging you’d like, such as single crochet.

Note that the two extra wedges meant I needed to start a third ball of yarn. If Sprite had been available, I’d have used it, but I used another color instead.

There you go, how to make a hexagonal blanket from a square pattern. If you read this and know a better way to describe the way I finished the last wedge of the blanket, let me know.

An Elevated Experience

Yet another day of fun and new sights happened yesterday, which was good. I’d gotten irritated that the Cowboys football game stopped showing on the television here, because the team was doing “too well.” I went off to climb the hills around here, and just when I discovered it was perhaps too muddy, Cathy asked if I wanted to go with them to Leadville, Colorado to have dinner at one of their favorite restaurants.

Basically, I just wanted to see more of this stuff.

Well, Leadville was the last of the places I’d really hoped to get to see on this trip, so I turned right around and came home to change out of my muddy attire. Why did I want to go there? Well, it is the highest-altitude community in the US where people are living. And it has a cool history as a spunky mining community with not only saloons and that kind of fun, but a Jewish temple and a more museums per capita than any city in Colorado. Here’s an example:

The House with the Eye Museum. See the eye?

Of course, the scenery all the way to Leadville was beautiful. I was surprised to discover that, as the crow flies, it’s pretty close to Breckenridge. But, you have to go around all these mountains to get there. It’s fine with me. I enjoyed looking at mines, trees, hills, and rocks, though we picked a bad time to drive directly west, and I picked a bad day to decide to wear my glasses that don’t adjust to the sun. Enjoy some sights, though:

When we got to Leadville, I felt as if I’d found MY place in Colorado. It sure looked like a lot of hippies lived there, judging from the art, statues, rainbow flags, and brightly colored houses. Plus, there were houses here that non-wealthy people could live in. And double-plus, there are 360-degree mountain views. Awesome is the RIGHT word for it.

There were so many fun paint jobs, stained glass windows, gingerbread, and all that fun stuff.

I found myself amused when I went to see the highest-elevation high school, hospital, churches, Odd Fellows Hall…you name it…in the US. I really loved the look of the town and the different sights. I’d love to come back to go to some of the museums and ride the narrow-gauge railroad that’s up there. I keep coming up with excuses to return here, don’t I?

Finally, we went to dinner, fashionably early as always. The restaurant, Treeline, was beautiful and in an old building.

More important, though, they had amazingly good food. I had a pasta with lamb, where the lamb was marinated in red wine and olive juice. Huh. I wonder how venison would be cooked that way? There were also crispy and saucy grilled vegetables that I loved.

There was SO MUCH food, and such good wine! And the prices were very reasonable considering the quality and quantity. I’m so glad Cathy and Ken brought me! That sure zonked me out, though. The good news is that I didn’t have to get up so early this morning, so I have been very perky so far today at work.

Take care, friends. I appreciate all the feedback that people are enjoying my photos. I know some of you are really struggling (especially Anita, who just moved all her stuff to Cameron and has to supervise the moving of my stuff the next two days). If I could give everyone a fun and stress-free weekend like I had, I’d do so!

Sunset and Dining in the Rockies

I ended up spending the entire day yesterday with my patient friend, Cathy. I crammed a week’s worth of fun into that one day! I also crammed more than a week’s worth of exercise points in, but I feel absolutely fine in the leg department today, so my hiking boots must have done their job.

Fire on the mountain, but not a wildfire.

We left off in yesterday’s post after lunch. We went to check out the outlet mall, because Cathy hinted that it doesn’t suck. And that’s right, it doesn’t. The first place we went was not an outlet store, but a little jewel of a co-op gallery of art by local artisans. There was beautiful mosaic art and a lot of photographs, some by a photographer Cathy really likes.

Photo taken right near Cathy’s house. It was hard to photograph, because it’s shiny.

Imagine her happiness to find out that Stephen Johnson was working in the store that day! She found out he lives in her neighborhood, and they shared stories of seeing moose and other wildlife nearby. I enjoyed his stories very much and got some images of his photos. This is my favorite, partly because of the story of the pregnant cow moose, who he sees every year with her babies.

Look at her jump!

That was fun, as was finding a few items at the Columbia outlet that may help me ride Apache more in the winter. I got a head covering thing that would fit under my helmet, and a warm reflective shirt. We’ll see!

Then we adventured out to find some cool green hiking boots Cathy wanted to get from Facebook Marketplace. She loves Facebook marketplace. I have to say they are pretty darned cool boots.

Ignore Chalkdust, the extremely lovely husky/shepherd mix, and look at the shoes.

After heading back to my house to change and get my knitting, we went back to Cathy’s. I feel bad for how many times I caused her to drive back and forth from Dillon to Breckenridge! She baked some brownies and I knitted, then we went for a sunset walk, which she does most days. You know, I hadn’t walked enough yet. Cathy needed to, because as she admits, she is a jock.

Sunset from their house.

It got colder and colder as we walked, but it was fine. We got to see some clouds and sun and mountains, which made it worth it. And, oh yes, I got to look at all the houses in the neighborhood, which are rustic and have interesting garage doors and other exterior details. Of course, I peeked inside when I could, too. There were some fine light fixtures.

When we got back, there was a special treat! Cathy’s friend, Sarah, had invited us to have a girls’ night fajita dinner. I was happy, because I’d enjoyed talking to her earlier, plus I would get to meet two more women. So, off we went.

This is Violet, a husky. I took pictures of the dogs, not the people.

Everyone had fun getting to know each other and eating. Sara’s new neighbor across the street was really subtle in her humor, so I enjoyed her a lot. And the other guest is an artist and was making a beautiful butterfly installation for the place where she works in Breck.

I spent a great deal of time asking Sara where all her art and textiles came from. Her mother had a business selling Native American jewelry, so she had traded for some nice stuff, plus she had Peruvian tapestries, too. Drool.

It turns out Sarah teaches Pysanky eggs at the art center, so I got to see some of them. I would love to learn that technique to do with some of my eggs. Thank goodness Cathy took a picture, to prove there were people at dinner.

I’m asking endless questions about the eggs. They are so intricate.

In addition to meeting so many fascinating women today, I believe I had my biggest exercise day since back when I’d hike with my older son on holidays. I still can’t believe I feel so good…well, other than my digestion telling me I ate too much rich food. Today may be a recovery day, though I intend to get in the right amount of walking in (after football).

My exercise goal is 30 minutes, and I have a hard time getting it at home. Not here. Thanks, altitude!

A River Walk in Silverthorne

It’s Saturday! I was all excited that I can do stuff all day long. Cathy S. Came to get me and we went for a walk with an organized walking group. They were women in my age bracket, but they were in great shape and lots of fun.

What a pretty river!

We walked along what I think was the Blue River. It was a great trail with bridges, good paths, and fine views. I took one of my hiking poles, and it helped a bit in some places. It was fun to use.

A memorial bridge.

We saw guys fly fishing for trout. That’s such a graceful sport. I looked for wildlife, but only saw a large woodpecker. That’s okay, though, because the trees and water were plenty entertaining.

The funniest part to me was that we ended up invited into a woman’s home at the end. She was a member of the group who had just had knee surgery. She had a great sense of humor.

At the end of the paved trail, there was a fun teepee kind of thing. This lady posed as a chipmunk in it. I told her she’d be in the blog! Great humor.

I really enjoyed the walk and the conversation. I mostly talked to Cathy’s friend, Sarah, who’s interesting, funny, and so smart. But everyone told great stories and laughed a lot. It was a fine way to get exercise.

With Cathy and Sarah

The weather was pretty good, too. It was chilly at first, but warmed up to 50. It felt very warm.

Looking happy.

I wish I had people to walk with at home!

Here we are telling the third from right woman that her hat was not ugly.

After the walk, we met Ken for lunch in a restaurant with really cool decor, the Red Mountain Grill. I’m glad we went, because it sure was cool from the outside. The décor was Mexican crafts on steroids. It looked way more Mexican than the Mexican restaurant last night. But it wasn’t an exclusively Mexican restaurant.

Crazy lighting.

I had excellent eggs Benedict and enjoyed endless mimosas. I can see why the locals like the place! That was a fine end to a fun morning.

I’ll share more from today when I get up tomorrow morning. It was a wonderful day, though!

Found the Troll, but It’s COLD at the Top of the World

Thank goodness I was feeling better today. The current theory is I had low blood oxygen for a couple of days. It was the last day of those extra-early meetings for a while, so I was all energized to help people out and get work done today. Nonetheless, when Cathy and Ken said they were coming to get me this afternoon, I did not say no!

Yay, it’s a troll!

They are such great tour guides, and they seem to like to show off the area as much as I like to see stuff, so it was a fun time for all. First, we headed over to the Illinois Creek Park where I couldn’t find the troll before. There was a well-marked sign that I had completely missed before, pointing the way to the troll, whose name is Isak Heartstone, and has only been there a short while. He’s by a Danish artist and made of recycled wood.

Wooden guy in the snow

It was pretty icy today, but we slid our way to the big guy. Not too many other people were there, so we could admire his beauty. I love how he’s holding a tree in his hand.

We were sliding in this picture.

Next, Ken drove us to the other side of Breckenridge, where we took a ride on the free gondola that takes you up to some resorts way up in the mountains (but not all the way up). The scenery we saw was so wonderful. You pass over a wetland that must be great in the summer and becomes cross-country skiing area once the snow gets deep. It was just right today, with some ice and some flowing water.

We looked and looked for moose and elk but didn’t see any. The woods were beautiful anyway. I enjoyed wandering around the ski village at the end of the gondola ride. They even had another statue of Ullr. The first day of ski season was booming, but not overly full of folks. I hate to think how crowded it will be later. I’d not be there.

Back into the Subaru we went, headed to the ski sites that we didn’t see last week. I think I grew tiresome repeating, “It’s so pretty” under my breath. After a stop to get water (because Cathy had skied in brisk wind this morning and was all dried out), we headed out to their favorite ski area, which is Keystone. It was a lot of fun to look at all the beautiful river and statues there. Lots of people were skiing, so I enjoyed all the people in their outfits as they warmed up at little fires and went to drink beer. It was quite stereotypical, but still fun to see. I can see why Cathy likes it there. There will be a LOT of slopes to ski down as it gets colder and snowier.

We then headed up and up to the Arapahoe Basin ski area, which is the highest one in the US, or world, or something. It’s way up there. Lots of young people were at this resort, where there was a lot more snow. But, were we as high in the Rockies as possible? Oh, no.

Arapahoe, really up there

It was a bit snowy, but the roads we were on were so full of forest and mountain vistas that I never wanted to stop looking. Those lodgepole pines with snow nestled in their branches had me grinning constantly. I could tell it was getting colder as we went up and up on what must be one of the prettiest drives I’ve ever been on. My pictures do not do it justice.

Ahead of us, I kept seeing the mountains rising up above the treeline, all rocky, snowy, and windy. Suddenly, Ken pulled into a parking area. We were on the top of the world! Of course, I wanted to take some pictures of the Continental Divide. Cathy wanted to take a look at skiers who started from there and went down the whole way (one of their sons has done it). We got out and, um, it was a bit brisk.

The winds were so strong it was hard to walk, and it was blowing bits of ice at us. Ken stayed in the car, and I didn’t blame him. But by gosh, I was going to go look at the highest part of this pass. Who knows when I’d be back?

What a cool place.

It was not hard getting photos, but we did our best. I had one very warm hand and one cold one that took pictures. For some reason I thought this was about as fun as fun gets, and kept laughing, even though I’d only ever been colder during Champaign, Illinois winters. What a treat!

On the way down, Cathy and Ken showed me where those skiers who started at the top of the world ended up. They just sort of shoot out of the woods right where the road is. There, people wait for them, or they hitch-hike back up to do it again. That’s extreme snow sports for you.

Hitchhiking back up

We went back down and saw another ski resort, but I am running out of names. Update! Cathy reminded me it’s Loveland Ski Area. This one was near Interstate 70, which we took on the way back. It was good to see it in daylight! The sun was coming out from behind clouds, and it was magical.

Were we done? Nope, when we got back down, we went to Silverthorne, Colorado, next to Dillon, where we drove through the neighborhood where their golf course is. They often see cool animals there. We did not see anything, but the golf course sure was pretty in the sunset hour (as were the amazing homes, where I did see two more elk statues).

By then, we were getting hungry, so we tried out a tiny new Mexican restaurant hiding in a shopping center in Dillon, Lili’s Bistro. We were the only Anglo folks that evening. The food was elegant and delicious, though the place looked nothing like any Mexican restaurant I ever ate at before – all gray and minimalist. My mole enchiladas were quite good, as was the salsa and spicy shrimp appetizers. We had such pleasant conversations that only the hard chairs inspired us to leave. I’m glad we took a chance on the new restaurant!

Mole enchilada, slightly used.

Now to rest, try to finish that baby blanket (hint, it’s turning out GREAT), and get ready for some hiking tomorrow. After a pretty hard few days, I am very grateful to my kind friends for giving me such a fun afternoon.

Under the Weather in Chilly Weather

I have no idea why, but I felt awful today. I was sleepy, fuzzy headed, and stuffy. It made being all brilliant and with-it difficult. Of course, times being as they are, I was sure I had a coronavirus. I took a nap and all that, and got through the day, which was long, long, long.

At least I had a winter wonderland to watch all day. Many flurries.

You know how some days all kinds of issues come up all at the same time? So I was trying to figure out a new part of the software I document, right when someone else really wanted me to edit something right that minute, and I was scheduled to try to figure out how to get Lee verified as my spouse so he can be on my insurance. With my fuzzy head, none of that was working, when the phone rang, and it was my old professor. I got scared he was sick, so I answered it, and he was like, “Hey, are you OK?” I said I’d call back when I was less unhinged.

Cute little flakes

Nonetheless, I actually managed to solve all the problems once I stopped going around and around in my head. Go Suna. I learned the software thing, found my marriage license online, had a great talk with my former coworker about our work stuff, and had a lovely talk with my former professor. It’s all okay. I even have energy to send to friends and family dealing with their own stuff.

The best news is that the yarn came to finish Ellie’s baby blanket, and I think it’s going to work out. I’m even finishing it as I go, since the darning needle I thought I ordered did not show up.

Pool equipment came!

In the meantime, I’m just striping it up like crazy and making a square baby blanket. At least I am sure it will be blanket sized and will go with the other one. It’s in softer yarn, too, Sridar Snuggly. Too bad I’m so wiped out from a very long (but good) Master Naturalist meeting, so not much knitting will occur.

But hey, snow, yarn, online conversations, phone calls. I may have been stuck in the condo all day typing or interacting, but it is a fine life, with ups, downs, and cute little animals to cheer me up.

Book Report: Anything Is Possible

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Here’s one more Elizabeth Strout book. This is not exactly a sequel, but it builds upon the events and actors in My Name Is Lucy Barton. Anything Is Possible impressed me, because it has the same people in it, but is a completely different type of book than the book about Lucy. Here, you hear about all the folks she encountered in her book and insisted she didn’t know anything about or understand.

And it quickly becomes clear that Lucy was right. Each of the people you learned a few facts about from Lucy or her mother before has a complex and interesting story to tell, with their own deep regrets, shame, and accomplishments. I was surprised over and over at how the people I encountered in the first book changed as they aged and had experiences.

There’s a theme of people surviving the loss of their mothers, many by having their mother just up and leave, others by having them pass away young. That made me empathize a lot, since I always felt like my mother was never really all there the whole time I knew her, even though I loved her an all her flaws. The same seemed to be true of almost everyone in Anything Is Possible, too. It warmed my heart to see estranged siblings realize their love for each other and estranged children realizing they love their parents (even the ones who were unacceptably eccentric, bordering on abusive). That gives me hope for my own situations, and that’s a thing that makes me really careful.

My view while reading.

Strout is right, anything IS possible. You also can’t predict what’s going to happen with people. Even the most broken of us can rise above early experiences, but it’s not guaranteed, either. Strout did a masterful job of showing us that “stuff happens” to everyone, but we will all learn, grow, and remain able to love.

Anything is possible. I am happy, content with my life situation, and no longer dwelling on my own shame, doubt, or eccentricities.

I hope you get a chance to read both of these books, and read them in close succession. You’ll experience complex emotions, but in the end, you’ll be realistically optimistic about humans and their resiliency.

Good Excuse for Not Blogging

I didn’t manage to blog anything yesterday, but it was all good. After work, my friend from when I lived in Austin, Audrey, drove over from Colorado Springs to hang out with me. We used to go to church together and were in a lot of groups together, so it was good to see her again.

We were happy together.

Mostly we talked about what was going on in our worlds that doesn’t appear on Facebook and blogs, and it was great to catch up. I honestly think the best thing about this trip has been the opportunity to have really good conversations with one person at a time. You don’t get to do that very often these days, but most of my friends seem to be fully vaccinated now, so visits like this can occur.

We had an early dinner at the Mexican restaurant that’s just down the road from where I am staying. I’m glad we stopped at the statue I kept walking by before, because it was on the other side of the road. It was Ullr, the snow god, who protects people who engage in winter sports. He is one cool skiing god! It’s a great statue.

Skiing god

The food at the restaurant was really excellent, as was the “real” margarita made with fresh juice and good tequila. There was a slightly sweet tomato and onion salsa that Audrey and I both just loved. Wish I had that recipe! But the main dishes were way beyond what I expected. We both got chile rellenos, but mine was stuffed with squash and other vegetables, and served on a bed of the most divine sauce, made from sweet corn puree. It was a delightful surprise addition to the meal.

View from the restaurant. Cool restaurant on the lake.

Plus, we splurged on dessert, and I got to have tres leches cake, and a good one at that. Audrey had beautiful and puffy sopapillas.

After we got back, we talked and talked, and I knitted on a simple blanket with the same technique as the weird failed one. I’m so glad Audrey was willing to drive over!

Today she’s going to explore town while I work. I don’t have the usual glut of meetings, so I may see if we can have lunch together or something. It snowed overnight, so I’m looking forward to the sunrise so I can see it (yes, I wrote this before sunrise).

The pool, before they built the flower beds yesterday.

More later.

Looking for Birds

It is true that I got invited back to the bird feeder where I saw the Steller’s Jay last week, since it was owned by my online friend, Elizabeth AKA Liz. I now envy her greatly, because I discovered she gets to see all sorts of wildlife right from her house. I only saw this incredibly cute squirrel, though, because I got too cold sitting on the porch waiting for a fox to walk by.

I am cute.

There was also another squirrel, one of the black ones with tufted ears, as well as a chipmunk with a tail way longer than its body, but they weren’t into posing. I’m sort of glad we didn’t see any brown bears or moose, since I had to walk home around sunset.

I had a great visit, and enjoyed the beautiful home in its inside, too! I did get better mountain chickadee photos and some tiny and precious nuthatches, too. Those are sure happy birds.

The Steller’s Jay came back and we discovered that there are two variants, and these are the southern Rockies version, which has white eyebrows that add so much to their charm. It’s just a spectacular bird, and the only crested jay west of the Rockies. So there.

I’m glad I got to see some good birds, because I took a whole bunch of pictures of an owl before realizing it is one of those fake owls. I swear I’d seen it move. But nope.

After a pleasant and brisk walk home, where I figured out all the shortcuts, I was home in time to order a beautiful pizza with onion, meatballs, and mushrooms (a combo only I would love, I guess).

mmmmmmm

The pizza place had a grumpy as heck menu. Every item said no special orders and food will be delivered as ordered and don’t you dare try to get half ingredients on their darned pizzas. It fit, I guess, given that it’s New York pizza.

Since Liz and I didn’t get a chance to take a picture, we will have to work very hard to remember to do it when we go on our planned hike later! I sure enjoyed my bird watching visit, though!