Friday, June 15, 2018

Headed for a Heat Wave...

Yeah, lucky us: the first heatwave of 2018. I'm so (not) happy about this. By Saturday, the temps are supposed to be over 100, with "feels like" at about 105. Yippee. (Note that the sarcasm is dripping as much as the sweat will be.)

Feeding a giraffe
So today, I ordered two things from Amazon: a UV protecting umbrella (don't laugh - they exist and I'm carrying one on my noon walks - I don't care). It's me or skin cancer; and I've had 2 close friends die of melanoma. No thanks. The second thing was a "cooling towel." Aside from said noon walks, there's the regular hot-flash crap I'm dealing with. I may as well be comfortable. 

I have been using a regular umbrella, but it shades a bit - doesn't block UV rays. I've done some research and this isn't a "pretty parasol." C, my work cohort, says, "Oh, lace will diffuse the rays." Nope. Lace gives you a lacy sunburn! I got one that is endorsed by dermatologists and the Melanoma Foundation. I'll let you know how it works. 

At the Zoo...

Picking up on our travels, we had another of those "not quite what we planned" days, which are often the most fun. We started off for the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo -- America's "highest" zoo! Lest you think "high" as in funny brownies and smoking, we're talking altitude here. The zoo is 6,412 feet up. Actually built on the side of a mountain, so the walking paths are basically switchbacks. We started AND finished by feeding their giraffes. It was awesome! About 95% of the exhibits were "habitats" and only a few actual "cage" set ups. I thought the gorillas looked sad...

We spent most of the day there. It's also huge in square footage. Needless to say, on most of this trip, I got more than my 10,000 steps in!

"You have romaine. I want romaine!"
In addition to feeding the giraffes, we petted and brushed goats, fed a budgie (bigger version of a parakeet) and saw a sloth - a live sloth - inch his way along a rope. People couldn't believe he was real. 

Oops, looks like I got a Mennonite or some one of those religions in the photo here... there were a crowd of them. As I fed the budgie, I ended up giving my seed stick to a little Plain boy (sorry - I'm not sure they were Amish - their clothing wasn't as simple as I'm used to seeing, and the women didn't wear bonnets). 

Time for my sun bath
The sloth was something else. As we went into one of the buildings, we noticed 2 hammocks up near the ceiling. I really wasn't paying attention, till one of them moved. And out crawled this little guy. The Kid was surprised I was using my flash, and I don't think Mr. Sloth liked it either! So I turned it off and snapped a few more. He leisurely crawled out onto the rope and decided a sun bath was in order. 

People stopped because he apparently crosses a sidewalk on this rope and hangs out in a tree across from the building. Guess they can catch him if he makes a break for it... 

Pretty peacock
Then there was the peacock that was stalking The Kid. Seriously, every time we turned around, there was that bird. 

Of course, the only time he had his tail up, he was not facing in our direction, so the only shot I have is this one, where he's obviously thumbing his beak at us. He must've pranced around for a good 10 minutes, with his rear end facing us, just to annoy me. 

The HUMAN kids were obnoxious. The goats were better. They had an area where the wolves were, and they were lucky enough to have a litter. There was signage saying, "Please be quiet; baby wolves sleeping." Well. Nope. Gotta pound on the glass, and scream when Mama and Papa wolf prowl. Poor Mama looked a little stressed; probably wanted to eat the little humans. 

"Downward-facing Goat" pose
There was a pen full of the goats, so of course, we wanted to go in. I have always liked goats, but would never raise them - first off, we don't live where we could, and second off, they're not cheap to raise. 

But they are funny. This is a shot that I'd love to find an appropriate meme for. I was laughing and telling The Kid that this was "Downward facing Goat" pose. 

We thought about the Will Rogers shrine - on TOP of the mountain. According to one of the zoo guides, it was a "really steep 2-lane road" to get up there. Two reasons why we didn't go: (a) my car had been "chugging" the whole trip, not happy about the altitude; and (b) it was already 1:30 p.m. and we had a date with Kid #1 and J. for 5-ish, so we had to skedaddle. 

Will Rogers Shrine
The Will Rogers Shrine is located on the side of the mountain: look up their website, I'm serious. It's on the side of Cheyenne Mountain, and it's 8,000 feet up - so 2,000 or so feet higher than we already were. And you wondered why my car was chugging! I looked at the map just now, and dang - there are some hairy switchbacks to get up there. I'm kind of glad we didn't go. It is a beautiful "castle" and there's a chapel in there. And the admission is included in what we paid to get into the zoo. 
Who loves a wallaby?

But -- (gulp!) 8,000 feet up? I'm not sure I would have been enthused even if Hubby was driving. And he is used to driving in the mountains, where I am not. 

The "Australia" area of the zoo was interesting. Some of the exhibits were "standard" in that there were crocodiles... But around the perimeter, there were wallabys! If I wanted to disobey the signs (and risk a bite), I actually could have reached over to pet this little guy. He was rather intent on his dish, so I wasn't going to disturb him. 

They hopped pretty much wherever they wanted, and tended to stay up above us on the grassy area set aside for them. That Australia area was, of course, gated, and there were lots of zoo staff around. 

American Eagle
We almost missed the eagles. They were actually below us, in an area terraced alongside the mountain. I felt sad about them, but in reality, they're living sort of a nice life. Both of the eagles were wounded to the point of having to have their wings clipped. The sign said that both were found injured, with wounds to their wings, so the reason we were able to see them in that fashion was because they really couldn't fly. 

One thing I noticed is that they try to give the animals some kind of exercise and stimulation. The eagle enclosure did have lots of perches, and the skyline view was up in the air, for the birds, at least. But this was the one shot where the bird was actually looking at us, even though he(?) was on the ground. They had a relatively quiet place there, which was probably for the best, all things considered. 

Sleepy guy
I don't know - I'm kind of ambivalent on that. Is it better that they're living, even in a zoo, rather than having died of their wounds? These birds hold so much symbolism for so many of us: both as the USA and as Native Americans in their culture revered them. It's something I have to think about. 

You have to love the comical face in this porcupine. This is the American version. They had an African one and that bugger was huge! It looked like a low-slung version of a dog, and jeeze - the quills on the African one looked to be almost 12" long! This little guy just climbed up on his limb, and as I watched, he fell asleep. And stuck out his tongue. How cute is that? In all truth, he wasn't anywhere near as cute as the otters were, but I wasn't able to get a good photo of the one otter - he was swimming so fast that we were just fascinated watching him. 
Vulture

Nothing says "zoo" like a vulture... In the enclosure alongside the giraffes were a rather decent selection of birds. The Kid spotted the vulture before I did. He was just sitting there, kind of eyeballing the tortoises. Which were moving, by the way! 

There were a lot of birds that could, I suppose, have flown away, but didn't. I'm not sure what they were, but I did recognize this one. 

What I appreciated about this place, as I said, was that so much of it was open. They were building, and expanding - they're raising money now for their new habitat for both penguins and hippos. I handed over five bucks for the cause... As long as they continue their research and learn more about how to safeguard what Agent Orange and his minions are trying to kill off, I'll try to help combat the scourge to our planet. 

We went to Green Line for lunch - a burger joint with THE best burgers. Seriously, I even ate onions. And I hate onions! 

This is, of course, a hole in the wall. The best places usually are. There are about 6 things on the menu. That's it. You don't really get a choice with the burgers, except "loaded" or "not loaded" -- but you can add bacon. We split an order of fries. 

So much for Whole 30 -- but I figured I walked that burger off at the zoo, so I wasn't totally worried. I was a bit concerned, because aside from my own feelings about onions, they usually disagree with me - heartily. But these were sauteed onto the top of the burger, and I just ate 'em. And they were fantastic. 

This restaurant is a favorite of Kid #1, so of course, I texted this photo to him and said, "Guess where we are???" As a mom, I'm entitled to drive my kids nuts. It's in the rules. 

This is one of those places that you really don't find unless the locals tell you about it. The special that day, which was really, really tempting, was pulled pork. I love pulled pork, and I'm always ready to taste a new version. 

But I'm glad I got the burger. 

After that, we found a local yarn shop (see below), and then we headed back to the condo. The kids were supposed to go hiking, but as we said - this was a day when things didn't go the way we'd planned. They ended up not hiking. Actually Kid #1 took Kid #2 to his house, and I got about an hour to myself. 

I needed it. I was planning on hitting the yoga studio near the condo, but a quick Google search told me that the class time they had was from 6 - 8 p.m. that night. I was due at their house around 5-ish, to attend a gig at J.'s studio. 

We only stayed at the party a few hours; both of us were tired, and since I'm not a drinker, it was time to go. 

Knitting...

Ewe & Me, a yarn shop in Colorado Springs. I poked around with the intention of writing a review, but you know what? The vibe was off. I think it was because Kid #2 followed me into the store and the guy (turns out the husband of the owner) was kind of giving him side-eyes. He was obviously with me, so I don't know what the guy's problem was. 

I only felt like he wouldn't have appreciated me interviewing him or taking pictures. It's a nice little shop, and apparently, they were planning a move to larger quarters at the end of the month. There was a group there knitting, and I bought these beauties - to support indie dyers and local spinners. Doing my part for the wooly economy. 

The blue one on the left? The dyer was actually there. Both are really nice yarns, and both are destined for shawls. 

The prices were about what I expected, and their sock yarn collection was pretty impressive. The kits were pricey, but then, I think kits usually are. Not too much in the books or needles department, but lots of frou-frou: mugs, bags, etc. 

I'll wind one of these up when I finish Close to You and see what I can do. 

Close to You will probably be finished this weekend. It's going to be too hot to do much of anything, though I do have a gem & crystal show at the studio tomorrow, which will take up my afternoon. 

I know. I could be knitting, but the gems and crystals will be cool. 

Bellabeat Report...

Quick report on the Bellabeat. I'm enjoying all the ways of wearing it EXCEPT that I don't feel like it records accurately, with me, at least, when it's clipped to my shirt during the day. At night, I clip it to my pjs, but during the day, it works best for me on the necklace or on my left arm. 

I'm adding meditations manually, and unfortunately, since being back from Colorado, my water intake has gone wayyyyyyyy down. Gotta get back to that. I need it. 

Random Picture...

I was in one of those weird FB "challenges" to post 7 covers of my favorite books, without a comment. Of course, the person I challenged says, "I only read e-books." Pffffffffth. 


Anyway, this is seriously my favorite yoga book. It also happens to be the first book I bought on the subject. As you can see, I've read it. Read it again. And read it again. I've read it out loud to my Yin classes over the years, and turned many people on to this author. 

She's one of those teachers (and there are only a few) who, if she said, "Come and be a trainee of mine," I'd totally be gone to wherever she is. 

Her style of writing is clear, unpretentious and down to earth. You feel like you can grasp some of the more esoteric aspects of yoga because she doesn't "dumb down" what she says. She's very precise in her use of language. 

And her yoga story is compelling. You want to read more from her, and it feels like you're right in front of her when you're reading her books. 

Anyway, it's far, far past my bed time and morning will come soon. Catch you soon! 





Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Back to The Knitting...

Yes, we'll continue with the trip, but I need to update you on the knitting. Among other things, too.

So - knitting. I got the chiropractor to adjust my wrists (it works but it hurts a bit, because my hands are still tender!). Tonight I got another point done. So it's on to #15... After that, 3 more to go and I'm done with the current "Close to You" shawl. I do want to do this one again, but not right now. I will look at a few other patterns I've stashed in Ravelry and I'm pretty sure that something will strike me when it's time to take up the needles again.

I haven't had a chance to do much on the traveling green sock because I've been walking at work. In between shifts, we have a couple of hours. So the person I work with has decided we need to walk. Only if it's raining do we not walk.

Today, we walked almost 5 miles in a little over 1.25 hours. Lucky for us, it was breezy, but I'm so quick to burn (even with sunscreen) that I carried an umbrella. Maybe I need to carry a parasol! Anyway, I was laughing because of the breeze -- it created a drag on the walk, so maybe I got a little more exercise than I would've done otherwise.

So, needless to say, unless it rains, the green socks won't see any appreciable knitting time till this shawl is done. I'm so close.

You know how, when you're working on a project, you get to "that point" where you're just going to push on regardless of any other project? That's where I'm at with the shawl.

No, I haven't added the fringe to the 2-Hour Shawl. No. I haven't started the other shawl either. But I'll power through the shawl this weekend, and get it blocking. Then I'll start on the shawl that's in the bag.

I don't think this is going to require strong blocking, like the first one I did. Difference in yarn weights. I'll show you what it looks like after I finish it.

The Garden Grows...

My milkweed has taken off. The tomatoes need topping, and I have to get in and thin the radishes. Hubby tried (thinning the radishes), but he didn't get very far. I also have to thin the carrots, while I'm at it.

The dill isn't as tall as I thought it should be. We thinned it out last year, and maybe we went a little too far. But the rest of the front garden is moving along. The brown-eyed Susans are going well in the bed by the gazing ball.

Also, I'll need to get the hummingbird feeders up. It's going to be a hot, steamy weekend, and I'm sure they'll be looking for nectar. I have a large red "cover" for the one feeder, and that should keep it a little more shaded because the front yard faces west.

Otherwise, I do plan to stay inside, with the A/C, and just veg. And knit more.

Red Rock Open Space...

Like a mitten
So. After we'd done Garden of the Gods, we found Red Rock Open Space. It's kind of off the beaten path, but we saw it on the way to Garden of the Gods, and made a commitment to get there afterwards, if there was time.  J. said it was "too open" for her. Well, yeah, but if you're living in the middle of the prairie, like we are? That's "prairie with rocks." We love that!

Grow where you can... 
One of the rocks that struck me reminded me of a big, red mitten. I mean, there's the thumb, and the body. It was laying sideways. There were people hiking with us, but luckily, we had peace and quiet while we were there. The signage said that mountain lions were there, and believe me, some formations made us feel like we were being "shunted" toward what would've been a great place for the big cat to pounce... but the only wildlife we saw, aside from the baby birds, were bunnies.

Foothills beyond the rocks
Standing on one of the rocks, I got a great picture of the long view. I love the contrast of textures and colors. Again, the aridity of the area really kept surprising me. The bright greens, then the rugged rocks, and the dryness of the air. I mean, it was in the 80s for air temperature, but with the dry, it didn't feel like it. The breeze off the mountains also helped.

You'd think that, after hiking all day, we'd be exhausted. Well, we were tired, but somehow, the energy of the place was there. We wanted to go back another time to try a couple more of the trails. Spoiler alert: we never did get back...

But it's definitely a place where we'd go again if we made the trip out.

God lights
One thing I remembered from Montana: when it's near time for the sun to shift, it shifts dramatically. One shot I took, I saw what my great granny used to call "God lights" -- where the sun streaks through the clouds and makes light patterns very interesting. I took a shot as we were leaving, and noticed that the "God lights" were strong in this picture. It's not touched up or retouched. It's just the way I took it.

We were hoping for rain, which never materialized. Not to put a damper on our trip - but because they so badly need it.

When we got home, we learned about a big wildfire southwest of where we were. It's sad to see the devastation, but again - Mother Nature has a way of doing it up right.

The land will recover. I'm sorry for the loss of people and property. I can't even imagine.

Tenacity
I couldn't imagine this burning. But it could. There are Buddhist teachings about impermanence, but I don't think we really have a grasp on that. We all know in our working brains that life is also short. Life doesn't last in its current form. But in our emotional brains? It's a different story. We tend to think it's going to be "this way" for the rest of our lives.

Not "this way" in the current state of unrest, chaos, and dysfunction (and I'm only thinking about Washington, not globally...). But "this way" in that my family will always be constituted the way it is now; nobody gets older or gets ill; everyone is where they are and nothing changes.

Yet everything changes... This park reminds me of it.  Looking at the trees clinging to the cliffs and being as green and vibrant as they are? That's amazing. That's something that I will have in my brain for a long, long time.

As we hiked, we just felt some sort of magic in the place. Both of us commented that we should, by rights, be totally exhausted. But we weren't. 

Stink-eye from baby birds

We found "Contemplative Trail" and thought, "how hard can that be?" Well. It was an "intermediate" trail! Wasn't a walk in the park, after all. We got a shot of a nest that we think may be eagle babies. Hubby thinks not, but I'm still wavering. Didn't see a parent, but the stink-eye one of the babies gave us? Definitely eagle attitude!

I mean, look at this up close. Tell me what you think. I'm going to have to post this to a birder friend and see what she's got to say about it.

I'd love to think they were eagles. They were certainly big babies. And the nest was pretty high up. I'll let you know what my bird friend says.

We got to a part where there was a scent. We couldn't identify it, but it totally enveloped both of us. A mix of floral and spice, like a conifer. I took a shot of a juniper tree, and got some other lovely root shots. It was a real wake-up call to see the trees growing out of the rock. I mean, talk about "bloom where you're planted." This is a true testament to fortitude and willingness to live.

I did have Kid #2 take some "awkward mom doing yoga" pictures. I'm always on the lookout for those kinds of opportunities, and sometimes they work. And sometimes I realize I need to work on my alignment! I drop my back knee in Warrior, if you're interested. I had my Monday night students work on this - lifting the kneecap to engage the quads makes the pose more stable.

Kind of like a tree clinging to the side of a mountain. Rooting down to grow up.

Random Picture...

Tonight, Quinn wanted ALL THE PETS. She was just clingy. I love that she's affectionate. It was hard to knit with one hand, though!

She's still in her Thundershirt, and will be for a while, till a nasty cyst clears up. Poor baby has more, and we're reluctant to get them operated on unless we absolutely have to. We would love to find a magic solution to this problem.

We've tried diet, supplements, medication... It's just the way she is. I'd say that that's the worst part of owning an Elkhound. Some are very prone to cysts, and they can be very obnoxious to deal with. There's been many a time when I've held her head while Hubby cleans something out, and the poor baby is just shaking. But she trusts me. Oh, she trusts Hubby, too, but doesn't like it much...

Tippi is zonked out alongside Raisa's crate. It's almost time for bed; I didn't sleep well last night, and I've got a long day tomorrow.

I need to close. I want to knit, but realistically? I need to hit the sack. That nearly-5-mile walk did me in. I have to teach tomorrow night, so I'm hoping the walk is a bit shorter tomorrow!








Tuesday, June 12, 2018

...And I Chickened Out...

This part of our trip was supposed to be, in this order: (1) Cave of the Winds; (2) Garden of the Gods; and (3) Cliff dwellings. 

Looks like a camel coming over the mountain!
Well. Remember how I said that I wasn't feeling well? That morning, I got up and my heart rate was near 100. That's not good, considering that I'm on enough medication to lower my heart rate that, in the words of my doctor, he's "surprised" that I'm still upright.

Started out right: we headed to Cave of the Winds. I got there; got to the first blind turn, where all I saw was "air" -- and I couldn't do it. I seriously wanted to vomit, I started shaking, and I was (thankfully) able to back out and sit there, shaking so hard that Kid #2 got really worried, which I didn't want him to be. Anyway, he was initially a little disappointed, but I explained what was going on, and then he got a bit upset that I didn't tell him in the first place that I wasn't feeling well. We talked about it, and he said that he was disappointed because he knew I was looking forward to it. One of these days, on one of our trips, we'll find some caverns. It was just a really odd day - I don't think it was altitude sickness. I don't think I was drinking too much water (would be hard in that dry area!). But it was definitely a day that I was wobbly and not feeling great. 

Instead, we went to Garden of the Gods. Here's the thing: I thought "caves" = "underground" -- I didn't realize that we'd be taking hairpin turns on a narrow, 2-lane road up a mountain, with no guardrails. Ummm. I wanted to drive in the mountains. I really did. Till I didn't. 

It ended up that we had a really great visit to Garden of the Gods. We went through the Visitor's Center and got a map, then drove through, stopping at various pull-offs to hike. 

Kissing Camels
Had to laugh, because later that day, The Kid told me that he deliberately stood in front of me on all the hikes, "in case you keeled over so that I could catch you before you fell off the path." 

We saw the Kissing Camels. We saw a sky where the cloud formation looked like another camel coming over the mountain. We saw Balance Rock; we hiked and saw scrub oaks with cactus at their feet. 

I was amazed, as I had been the entire trip, at the sky. It was big. Vast. Blue. The clouds accented the blue. 
Where???

At our second pull off, I had to laugh. It was Pull-Off #13, and there was a sign: "In case of flash flood, climb to safety." Really? How? Where? And the number 13? Yikes, all signs that this could be interesting. It wasn't anywhere near a flash flood, of course, what with the drought, but we looked at all the trees around, and figured we'd be screwed: nothing was legitimately tall enough to escape a decent flood. 

There were a ton of magpies. I understand that they leave their nests for other birds, but boy, are they mean! This one was teasing us and just daring me to have a good shot at a decent photo. It wasn't easy. I also saw a Stellar's Jay that didn't do me any favors, but that was on another trip... (more on that later). 

I was surprised that we didn't see more wildlife. 

Sorry about the oddball picture of Balance Rock. Unfortunately, it was packed with people, and I really wanted just a shot of it by itself. But that wasn't working out for me. I had to get in the road, in between traffic flow, to take something that at least gives you an idea of the formation. 

Magpie
When you drive the park, it's one way, and this is the spot where it splits off and turns around. You can go from here to the Trading Post and out. Which is what we did. There was a gift store in the Visitor's Center (of course) and the Trading Post also houses a restaurant, a place where you can buy fudge (I don't like fudge...just sayin'), and all kinds of trinkets, shirts, and a very pricey art center. 

Manitou Springs was great; the lady at the Visitor's Center there gave us a map showing me the exact drive at Cave of the Winds. I think that if I'd had a mental picture, I could've done the drive... 


Balance Rock (at the left)
The cliff dwellings were interesting; of course, they wouldn't all have been lined up that way, because they were different time periods and tribes. But what they did was move them from another location to this mountain. Other than some rude people, we enjoyed walking through everything. Kid #2 bought me a Ginger Beer (non-alcoholic) so that my stomach would settle down. It didn't. 

We went into the town of Manitou Springs and found a Polish deli (used to be a BBQ place, apparently), and I was still feeling like crap, so all I ended up with was a plate of latkes. I ate one (that's not a good sign, ever...) and took the others to go home. Except that, about 3 blocks from the restaurant, a young panhandler rushed up to me and asked, "Are you emotionally attached to your leftovers?" 

What could I say? I gave them to him. He needed them more than I did. 

Cliff Dwellings
I wish I had had a water bottle. We stopped at one of the many mineral springs and I was able to taste the water. And yeah, it was VERY "minerally" - but I would have liked to have had a decent drink of it. It was also a bit fizzy. That was interesting. We had a young girl standing there, and she says, "Oh, you can drink that?" Ummmmmmm. Yes. You can. 

There was a bit more, but I'll save that. Suffice to say that this was the day that I took the bulk of the pictures I ended up taking. 

Other Stuff...

Yes, other stuff has been going on! Today, I toured "The Atrium" which is a building our church owns and where the office will be moving. I'm in charge of moving the office. Let's just say that a bunch of empty rooms eventually fill with crap. For grins, Hubby and I tugged at the carpet in what will be the new reception space. 

Huzzah!!! Hardwood floors. I'm talking pristine hardwood floors. So after dinner, up came the carpet and padding and about a zillion nails and staples. I mean, look at this... It's beautiful! We have the contractor who's working on the hall and he's lined up to buff it up for us. The curtains have to go, and eventually, that window has to be replaced (it's a very old jalousie type, and it's just not in good shape), but after a coat of paint, it's ready for move-in. 

We also tore up carpet in the one back room that will be used as a file/storage room. There's a lot of clean-up to be done, as well as a bit of a job for our exterminator - ants. But it'll be ready when we get a new priest (by the end of the month) and the office will be moved over in about 3 weeks. 

Today was supposed to be my half-day at the church and I was going to come home and knit. Not a stitch. After pulling up about a zillion and five nails/staples, my hands are killing me. I earned myself a "concrete mixer" -- what the local ice cream store calls a "blizzard." 

I talked to our Warden (head of our church council) and we agreed that I could paint the room any color I liked. I'm leaning toward blue. The lady who did the decor for the remodeled hall wants green. But I don't like green. I prefer blue - a gentle blue that isn't "chilly" but is "calming." We'll put down an area rug, preferably something that looks vaguely "oriental" and it will be nice. She also said that she'd let everyone know that I was in charge of the move-over and to (basically) "get out of my way" so that I didn't have fifteen people telling me what to do and nobody helping when I really needed to get things done. 

Now to find me a desk. 

Random Picture...

This is what I mean by my love affair with the sky. It's just great to look up. You never know what you're going to see. It could be a bird. It could be an interesting cloud formation. It could be --- nothing but blue skies. And that's ok. 

It was a bit of heaven to be in a place where you could smell clean air. We were surrounded by scents. Some we could identify (like horse droppings!), and some we couldn't. But the point is - it wasn't pollution, and nor was it wild-fire smell (which wouldn't have been odd - there were fires in the state). 

We tried to figure out which trees were providing some of the smells. There were conifers, and junipers and oaks. There was yucca and there were cacti (I know, those don't smell). But we could never put our finger on it. 

Next time, I conclude this particular day. Honestly, I don't want this to be all "What I Did on My Summer Vacation," but given what else is going on in the world? I figured you all wouldn't mind a bit of distraction. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Moving Right Along...

So we're up to Memorial Day. We spent the day with J.'s family, minus mom. Not too chuffed about that; not like the kids are engaged or anything. 

Getting there was a trick! We were supposed to follow J., but she took a quick U-turn and rather left us in the dust! Kid #2 wasn't happy; we got there, but late. The house is beautiful and they have a nice, tight family. 

The night before, to try to sleep, we diffused my 3 favorites: Lavender, Cedarwood and Copaiba. It was certainly cool enough to sleep, but with the condo backing up to a busy highway, there was a lot of traffic noise. 

Yes, I do travel with my oils and a diffuser! It's a nice way to make the space feel like home, and the white noise of the diffuser is a good way to fall asleep in a strange place. 

We started the day with breakfast again -- so nice to be on a regular schedule of meals. This was the ENORMOUS blueberry scone I got at the Farmer's Market. I also had some dates, which I really enjoy. 

Those with my mug of tea? I was in a nice meditative state while waiting for Kid #2 to wake up. I love a peaceful morning. If I knew it wouldn't have awakened him, I'd have gone outside to sit on the patio, but the door to the condo was a bit sticky, and I didn't want to rouse the whole house. 

Needless to say, I had knitting, reading and just sitting in my own silence to keep me occupied and centered. It was a nice way to start the morning - which I don't often get in my "daily" life, since I'm having to leave for work on the early side and wrestle with traffic. 

The night before, I tried the apple cobbler. I'm not exactly sure what went wrong. I know that high altitude baking can be different, and a cobbler is about the most basic thing to make. But this bugger was a dead weight, lead-lined disaster. A waste of good apples, actually. I was sorely disappointed, because (a) I love a good cobbler; and (b) I really wanted to do something for the family pot-luck. I like to bring food. I enjoy cooking and baking, and with the limited kitchen, I could only do so much. Baking was going to be it. 

Except it wasn't. I know what I did wrong: I followed the recipe. It said to cut in the butter till crumbly. What I should have done -- what I usually do -- is melt the butter and stir it all together. That's what I get for following a recipe. I usually never do -- and look what happened. Sadly, the CPS Butter Cookies were the best we could do. 

And really, it was ok, I suppose. We had a great sliced Italian beef dish, courtesy of Kid #1, a lovely salad, a curried potato dish, some homemade potato-onion bread (J's uncle made it), and lots of good conversation. The house and grounds are extensive. Her dad has a lot of art in the yard. 

My grand-dog, Fee, was a pistol. The dogs had an acre or so to run around in, and it was warm. Actually, later that afternoon, it did rain for about 10 minutes, and then the temperature dropped. Anyway, Fee decided that the fountain was a good place for a drink. 

We left, and had the evening to relax. Strangely enough, I was starting to have tummy troubles. I wasn't sure if it was the after-effects of that veggie burrito from a few days ago. The food we ate at the house was fine; I'm sure it wasn't that. 

Knitting...

You'd think I forgot about knitting, right? Well, overall, I did probably a half inch on the green traveling socks. And since I've been home, I haven't yet put the finishing fringe on the one prayer shawl, but I'm going to get to that this week. 

Also, I'm on Point Number 14 of the Close to You Shawl. There are 18 points total, so I'm almost done. There will be pictures next time. 

The gal I work with is on a "let's walk at lunch" kick, which is cutting into my knitting time! So the green socks are taking a bit longer than I'd like. 

Cooking...

This is what I came up with for the church luncheon we had. It's a really nice Shrimp & Rice Medley. Looking at it now, I should have distributed the tomatoes a little better for the picture... Oh well.

Shrimp & Rice Medley

Rice Select Royal Blend (Texmati Lt. Brown rice, Red Quinoa, Roasted Freekeh)
Water
2 cubes veggie broth
Salt & Pepper
1 c. frozen peas
2 t. Penzey's Sunny Paris
1 t. chopped pimiento
1 bottle Simply Dressed Lemon Vinaigrette
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
10-15 large cooked shrimp, cut into chunks

Make 2 batches of rice, according to the package directions, using the veggie broth as an additional flavoring. Warm the peas. Mix both together and cool (overnight, if possible). 

After it's cooled, place it into a large bowl and break it up a bit. Add salt, pepper, Penzey's spices, pimiento, and shrimp. Stir together. Add halved tomatoes and stir gently, adjusting seasoning if needed. Add about half the bottle of the vinaigrette and mix well. Chill. 

This serves about 10 people. 

I loved it. Everyone else did, too. Freekeh is a grain: young wheat, rubbed and fire-roasted. Tastes a bit like barley, but better. 

Random Picture...

I've been wearing a Bellabeat for the past month or so. It's not a "fitness trainer" per se, but more of a "wellness tracker." I usually wear it like a necklace, but I've used the bracelet option (this is the fitness bracelet, and tonight I have the leather one on), and the top part there, that looks like a leaf? It's a clip on - you can use it like a pin or the like. 

I like it. At first, I was a bit disconcerted that it doesn't have a heart monitor on it. But as you read about it and see what the point is, you realize that it keeps you on track for movement, hydration, sleep and meditation. "Lite" so to speak. I could have gotten a lot more sophisticated things. But I like my watch; I still do analog, thanks!

And I like the flexibility of wearing this several different ways. I like being able to track my meditations (though I'm not liking the voice on the guided ones - I'd rather do my own). 

I find that I move more. I find that I'm enjoying seeing my progress. And I love that this has a battery! No charging every 3 days! 

Fitness or wellness trackers aren't for everyone. But if you find one you like, it'll definitely give you a little incentive to move a bit more. And most of us can use more of that. 





Saturday, June 09, 2018

Colorado On My Mind...

We started out our next morning by running out for food for the dinner we'd planned to cook for the kids. I love the Sprouts Farmer's Market that's about 3 blocks from the condo. It's like Fresh Thyme, and we ended up using them quite a bit. 

THIS time, we actually cooked breakfast! What a difference eating regularly means when you're moving around as much as we are! 

The kiln - all 1800 degrees of it!
Around 11 a.m., we ended up at the forge with Kid #1 and he showed us the "scraps pile" where he messes with different pieces to create designs. Kid #2 got to pick out some pieces and they set about working on a bit of "yard art." It was great to watch him work, and I took some videos too. 

Here's the thing. He's been a welder for a long, long time. He spent a lot of years armoring cars, making "clamps for trucks" (straight up fabrication work making the same thing over and over) and learning how to create his own equipment when there isn't anything workable. In that way, he's a total clone of my own grandpa - a machinist who made his own tools when he didn't have what he needed to do the job. When my mom was cleaning out granny's house, she gave Kid #1 several of grandpa's tools. Somehow, the gene has been passed. 

Pneumatic hammer adding texture
The Kid has also done work in glassblowing, and has recently worked as a blacksmith - and he's working with Damascus steel and knife-making. Very 18th century? Well, yes and no. 

Those skills are unique and while it may not have been the "doctor" vision I had for him, he's happy. He's creating. He's working steadily. His experience in fabrication and estimating has been helpful working in an art studio because he's got an extremely pragmatic and practical frame of mind. 

Forming an arc
When we talked, he told me, "Look, mom - I'm always looking at the long game. I'm projecting out into my future, and I love what I'm doing here." I can't argue with him. He looks good, and he's mellowed out - he used to be a frustrated, somewhat angry person. I think a lot of it was in the finding of himself, and in the situation he was in here at home. It's not like we're bristling with art galleries, and even though you read in the news about "jobs growing," they're not growing in the welding sector. They just aren't. Warehouse jobs, driving a forklift or working on a shipping/packing line? That we've got, and I'm not knocking those jobs. But that's not how he wants to live, and I have to accept that he's more of a person who's going to go his own way. I worry. There's no retirement plan for artists and craftsmen. Also not much in the way of health insurance. These are grown-up problems and I wrestle with it for him. But I have to let him go his own way and trust to the Universe to take care of him. 

One arc done
I can clearly see that he's doing what he loves. Watching him move between the extreme heat of the kiln (any misnomers in terminology are mine, folks!) and the anvil and the large pneumatic hammer was really fascinating. He kept saying, "Stay back there, Mom!" Lucky me, I brought the long lens! I wasn't as close as these pictures might make you assume. 

He has a hammer that was made for him (not the one in the picture above) and has an old, old anvil that he dragged with him from Virginia. He created his own forge/kiln. J. does a lot of work in the forge as well, so a lot of the tools are available for him. He showed us some of the knives he was working on, and they were pretty impressive. They're not quite done, but he's working on trying a new way to do handles. 

He also has a big project - a 6-panel large gate for a person who wants a "front entrance statement piece." They do a lot of that there. J. did the design work, and he created the framework, and is working on the internal design. They have an art student working there, and the student cut out a zillion (or so it seems) aspen leaves, which he'll attach to the places on the gate where J. has specified they go - it'll look as if the aspen leaves are blowing gently across the gate. He has to manufacture the latch too - yes, you can order them, but the client is paying for hand-made, and that's what they'll get. 
Dunking the rods after the first forming

He got to go to a huge install in Salina, KS, where she won a juried art show and was able to put her sculpture in a prominent place. The city exhibited a wide variety of artists, and the citizens voted on which ones they liked; the city ended up buying a couple of them - among them was J.'s piece. That's how public art works out there, apparently. 

Forming the centerpiece
So we spent quite a bit of time there, watching the metal change and seeing his mind work in the creation of this piece. It wasn't done by the time we left, but he said it would be.  He told us that he's thinking of coming home for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. He has a piece he's working on for me, and I'm anxious to see it. 

The most fascinating part of it for me was -- well, there were two parts. Watching him form the twirls and then form the bowl of the centerpiece. You could see the concentration - he was totally zoned in on what he was doing, which was impressive. 

Making the curls (that's his hammer in the back there)
A little confession: He took a while... I mean, as a kid, he immersed himself into a lot of different things, such as music and art. But he wasn't jazzed about school. Not that he wasn't smart - he's incredibly smart. But it took a while for him to find his niche. As a mom, it makes my heart smooshy to see him do what he wants to do. 

After we were done in the forge, he and Kid #2 wanted to go to a brewing supply place for some hose - in Castle Rock. I got to test my skills driving in true "foothills." They both decreed I was a dud! 
Sparks from forming the bowl

I don't do well in blind corners. But we took a nice scenic route - Rt. 105, I think, and saw beautiful homes, farms, cows, horses, mini-donkeys and one alpaca! They did razz me a bit and at times, I was kind of freaked out. One of them accused me of "stomping" on the brakes, which I don't think I did. I was just cautious. 

Yes, I got passed by the locals, but I told them that I thought it was mostly their familiarity with the roads. 

At 3 p.m. (jeeze, meals are later and later!) we found a Mexican restaurant and ate there. We ended up coming back to the condo and spending the evening there - just me and Kid #2 - so we could do our baking for the next day's Memorial Day celebration with J.'s dad (mom wasn't there... a little odd, but hey - they're not engaged or anything). I decided to drive to his house so in case there was alcohol, I was ok and in control. It's definitely an "adult child of an alcoholic" thing... 

Air Force Academy Football Field
I made - or tried to make -- an apple crumble. It failed. Baking in high altitudes. Not so much. Kid #2 made CPS Butter Cookies and they were fine. Thankfully! 

On the way home, we had a chance to stop at the observation pull-off by the Air Force Academy. Nothing was going on due to the holiday, but we did have a nice opportunity to take some pictures. I can just imagine when the students are doing "touch-and-go" maneuvers. It must be impressive. 

The condo didn't have AC - which was a surprise to me at first. But the weather the entire time was perfect. So we closed it up while we were gone, and in the evenings, opened all the windows for about an hour or so and it cooled down nicely. Also, the condo had 52" ceiling fans in every room! We had a chance to do a little laundry and wind down from our adventures. 

Random Picture...

We caught the full moon. Even with the light pollution in Colorado Springs, the skies are almost as big as Montana's are. 

We didn't do a lot of stargazing, and I was frankly surprised that I didn't see the Milky Way, like I did in Montana. What we did see were clouds that we felt we could grab. We saw weather move in, and move out - without barely a drop of rain. The cloud formations were amazing, and while it may seem silly, I took several "cloud shots" for later use. Kid #1 said they were in this "weird bubble" and we thought it would rain a couple of days. That's what the forecast said, but nope. 

I mean, the one day it did "rain" -- I thought they were going to throw a parade! But it lasted less than 10 minutes. 

They're under watering restrictions. There were signs all over with the fire ratings and it seemed like everyone was taking it very seriously, which is a good thing. Kid #1 lived through one huge forest fire in VA - he's not interested in doing it again!