Tying knots

Granny pillow cover

Here’s those granny squares I have been working on. I’m trying to use up the last little bits of yarn from the ripple blanket, so why not make a matching pillow cover? This will be the front, with fabric for the back of the pillow case. All the squares are done and joined, but I still need to weave in the ends (most tedious of work, I avoid it) and crochet a border around it before sewing it to fabric.

I’ve also been working on a blanket for Peanut’s bed. He’s still in his crib for now, but I want his bed, once he transitions there, to have a thick and warm blanket to go on top of the covers, or as a layer between sheets and quilt (there’s another project I’m working on, a quilt for the bed). So I’ve been steadily making him a blanket, using three colors of yarn together and a size N (10 mm) hook. It’s chunky and heavy and warm.

Peanut's blanket

It’s about a third done, as I want it to be about six feet long. It’s as wide as a twin-sized mattress. I’m using Berroco Vintage yarn because it’s machine washable, and let’s face it, this blanket will probably need a lot of washing over the years being on a boy’s bed. I’m doing the simplest stitch of them all, single crochet, because I want the blanket to hold up well and be warm. I’m letting the colors add the beauty. It’s taking a lot of yarn, which I am only buying three yarn cakes at a time to go easy on the pocketbook, but I’m hoping it’s a blanket Peanut will treasure for a long time, so it’s worth it. I’m adding a row or two a day, just enjoying the process. I hope to have it ready for Christmas.

Peanut's blanket closeup

Big thoughts at Bowman

I believe each of us has a few favorite places that we’ve been in the world. One of my favorites is Bowman Lake up the North Fork of the Flathead. I love that lake and have made such good memories there it will always be a place that I call home. It was a perfect day at Bowman yesterday, even if it was as crowded as I’ve ever seen it. Oh yeah, Labor Day weekend. Note to self: go to the lake on a weekday.

BowmanPeanut had a great time splashing in the water on the lake’s edge. He tossed pebbles, felt the water on his fingers and toes. Big Country and I sat beside him and nibbled on that huckleberry turnover I mentioned in the last post. It was delicious as ever.

Peanut at bowmanAfter hanging out on the lakeshore for a while, we took a stroll down one of the trails by the lake. Over a bridge that crosses Bowman Creek, then back into the lake shallows for more splashing. Peanut loved being able to “hike” himself instead of riding in the backpack. He stopped to pet leaves, pick flowers, and look all around.

Peanut hikin'We stuck to big thoughts all day, and it was a perfect day. Sunny but not too hot. Surrounded by beauty and keeping the worries at bay. It’s hard to be unhappy watching your child explore the world.

Did you succeed in thinking big thoughts too?

 

 

 

Summer’s last sigh

We went on a little walk this morning after breakfast on the edge of the Flathead River. It’s a place we walk every now and then. Not really a hike, though we do pick our way over rocks and across sand. It’s more of a place for a stroll, then for standing beside the river to reflect. To think about whatever issues are consuming one’s life right now, or to shove those issues into a compartment in the mind and simply be instead. I always try to think only the big thoughts beside that big river. To listen to the water tumbling over rocks and refuse to allow the petty thoughts do their own tumbling about.

River bendDidn’t succeed in thinking big thoughts today, though. Instead Big Country and I talked over what we are always talking over, our business. Turning over what we’re doing in our heads, trying to do better. Sometimes it all feels like we’re trying to squeeze water out of a stone, blood from a turnip. But we talk about it still, because it’s our livelihood and we’ve got to keep striving, trying, working and working and working to make our business succeed.

But walking by the river helps. It’s where I can let the stress that seems all-consuming lately fall off my shoulder for a few minutes. Where I can listen to the sound of the water on the rocks, watch the play of the sun on the ripples, notice that the tired green leaves on the aspens are fading golden. Autumn. It’s almost here. It’s the last day of August, hurray!

River skyTomorrow we’re headed up the North Fork for huckleberry turnovers and a hike by our most favorite lake, Bowman. I’m going to try again with thinking those big thoughts, which to me really just means opening my brain to all that is happening around me, mapping it with the flashing of my neurons. Listen to the water. Feel the wind. Watch my son marvel at all these new sights and experiences. Forget about the stress and longing and fear waiting for me at home.

BridgeI’m ready for August to be over. I’m ready for summer to end. It’s been a long summer, full of telling other people where the best hikes are instead of hiking them myself. It’s been a summer of hard, hard work. I am not writing this for sympathy. I am merely observing that I feel like those aspen leaves look: tired, faded. But on the other hand, perhaps I’m turning golden too. My favorite season of the year is just around the corner. I’ve got to believe that good things and easier times are coming with it.

Oh so lovely ripples

FINALLY finished my ripple blanket (another post about it here). Well, actually, I finished it two months ago… except for sewing in the yarn ends. Ugh, that is my least favorite part of any project and so my poor ripple blanket has sat in my project basket since June waiting for me to sew in the ends. But I forced myself to sit down tonight and sew in those darn ends. But huzzah, now the ripple is complete!

Ripple blanket completeI followed Lucy of Attic24’s ripple pattern. Very easy and with a great photo tutorial. Then I edged the blanket in white in double crochet. I used Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran yarn for the ripples and Berroco yarn for the edging. The Debbie Bliss yarn is really soft and I love the colors, but at $10.50 a ball in my local yarn shop, and a pretty dinky ball at that, it’s spendy yarn and I don’t think I’ll use it again. I like Berroco just a much and that’s two bucks less a ball. But anyway, had a great time with this blanket, which is lap sized (fairly narrow, but nearly as tall as me). It was quite soothing to sit on the couch at night and make colorful wooly ripples over and over. I used an H (5 mm) hook. I have also decided I won’t even attempt to sell this blanket… there’s no way I could get a fair price for it on Etsy or whatever. Guess that means I’ll have to keep it. ;-) Oh shucks.

Ripple 2With the yarn I have leftover from the project I am making a patchwork granny square throw pillow to match. It looks great already! Here’s a sneak peak:

GranniesThe granny squares have a white border and I will stitch together with the same white as well. I’m using a G (4.5 mm) hook for the grannies.

What crafty project are you working on right now?

August

Oh, August. You are my least favorite month (though you do share that title with February). The only good thing that happens in August is my husband’s birthday, which is today, coincidentally. Happy birthday, lovely love!

But anyway, August. Hot, sweaty August. My garden looks droopy no matter how much water I put on it, and I feel the same way. August is the last real month of summer where I live, and it’s just a hot slog until September, which is glorious and definitely the best month of the year in Montana. Not only is it hot this month, but it’s so dry and the thunderstorms don’t drop any rain, just lightning, which triggers wild fires. And smoke. It actually hasn’t been a bad smoke year (yet) but it sure makes it hazy around here. The light even looks different as a filters through the smoke. Orange light. Which makes it feel hotter to me.

Cliffs

And it’s been a tough month so far, with working all the freakin’ time, trying not to freak out about our bottom line at work (a worry I think most small business owners carry with them like a badge most of the time), counting down the days until September, wondering what new adventure’s on the horizon (can you tell I feel like the days are just creeping by this time of year?).

So it was a big help to me today to read a blog post by one of my favorite bloggers… about living like you’re dying (which we all are).

In the post, by Jenna Woginrich of Cold Antler Farm (LOVE her blog), she notes: “To encourage someone along their path might be the most important thing we can do for each another. Everyday we are given thousands of chances to lighten someone else’s load, to create a smile where one didn’t exist a second ago. How could we choose anything else?”

This is something I need to work on… lightening someone else’s load instead of adding to it. I mean, I try to be nice to everyone I meet. But sometimes, at the end of the day when I’ve been working for 10 hours and I just want to go home and eat dinner, I get tired of being nice and I just try to get through… not worrying about how I act might negatively affect people. But isn’t it so much better to be a light in the world? And I especially need to work on this where my family is concerned. It’s so easy to snap at my spouse, so easy to get short with my son. Why? Because they love me and of course they’ll forgive me. But they are the people to whom I should be the most kind… they are the ones whose smiles matter most to me!

Jenna also writes about the “Doacracy” in this country… if you want something, you just have to DO it. Don’t ask for permission, ignore what people are saying behind your back. I have dreams I am working toward, but lately they’ve felt so very far away, so unattainable. Again, I think it’s because it’s August… the interminable month of hot (can you tell I’m a cold-weather person?), but I am trying to step forward with renewed vigor, with verve, to seize what no one is going to hand to me. I am the only one who can make those dreams happen.

“This is a short, painful, confusing and heartbreaking life where most of us only have a few decades to really live the way we want to. So get on that horse, call that realtor, or buy that plane ticket. Stop living like you aren’t dying. It’s going to kill you if you don’t,” Jenna ends her post. Wow. Does that speak to you or what? Get going with your life!

Does anyone else ever get the feeling like you’re doing some weird voodoo mind meld with the rest of the planet? Or at least that specific blogger who wrote just what you needed to read today?

Sometimes life must be about the little victories, like adding just the right amount of cream to one’s coffee. Little victories are especially important in August. But sometimes life needs to have big victories. New opportunities, new friendships, new perspectives. Bring on the big victories, September. I am SO ready.

Lake Koocanusa

WEB 8-4-13 boys at lake koocanusaWe went on a family boondoggle today to Lake Koocanusa, which is west of Eureka. It’s a big lake, with a sweet long-span bridge over it. Big Country is obsessed with bridges (who am I kidding, I think they’re awesome too!). It was nice and cool out on the bridge, and breezy!

Boys at lake koocanusa 3Though sometimes I feel like all I do is chase Peanut around these days now that he’s walking, I also really enjoy that he is. We can walk out on bridges together, for one thing. His increased mobility has certainly opened up more of the world to him, and he likes to explore and see new things. And I’m sure we’ll look back on this photo in fifteen years or so when Peanut is taller than Big Country and have a nice time reminiscing over our little walk out onto the bridge.

Lake koocanusa bridgeWe’re all on a bridge going somewhere, aren’t we? The trick is to enjoy the crossing as much as anticipating what’s on the other side!

 

 

 

Portfolio

I’ve added a portfolio page/tab to my blog. I guess I’ve been pining for journalism of late (I really, really miss interviewing all sorts of fascinating folks and the opportunity to have amazing experiences), and this way at least I can show off my past endeavors.

Here’s a sample of what you can find in my portfolio:

WEB Single mom fireThe photo of Phylicia and her son Jace won me a first place award in the news photo category of the 2011 Montana Better Newspaper contest. Still, I wish her house hadn’t burned down. That poor gal had had a very rough run of it when the house fire occurred. Makes me wonder where she and that little boy are now.

All the current samples are pages from the Hungry Horse News, where I was managing editor. I wrote the stories, edited the stories, shot the photos, and designed the page layout. All in a day’s work at a weekly newspaper with a small staff. Work to be proud of.

Walking all over the place

My dad, step-mom, and brothers are here for a visit this week. Thursday we made the trek over Logan Pass on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park and hiked to Preston Park again, this time with my family. It was a beautiful, sunshine-y day with a nice occasional breeze. This time we saw a ton of wildflowers, including magenta paintbrush. I’ve seen scarlet paintbrush, but never magenta, so it was a real treat to see this variety.

Magenta paintbrush 2I love learning about wildflowers, and if I have a chance someday to go back to school, I’d like to get a degree in plant biology, with a focus on Rocky Mountain wildflowers.

Magenta paintbrush 1

Paintbrush and going to the sun mtnThe above photo doesn’t do justice to the carpet of wildflowers and Going-to-the-Sun mountain behind, but boy, it sure was a beautiful.

S k and j siyeh creekGotta start ‘em young, working on instilling that love of hiking. Although Peanut looks less than enthusiastic in this photo (he was distracted by the creek), he loves hiking already. He takes it all in, looking all over at the trees and mountains and flowers. Already he’s content to be in the backpack for two to three hours at a stretch. Though he enjoys little breaks so he can explore since he’s walking now. He’s walking all over the place and we hope that he always will love walking all over the place. Especially up mountains.

Siyeh creekHow blessed we are to live in a place like this, where this view can be an every day event.