Monday, June 30, 2008

The Hike

Hiking is a favorite pastime for most anyone who lives in the Rockies, and we go every chance we get. With all the open space in our county, all you really need to get going are a pair of great hiking boots and some good friends. 

We started this morning's adventure at a creek, with the mountains looming all about us.

Isn't this creature exquisite? Looks like a spiny urchin beneath the ocean:

Of course, it isn't. It's really a giant dandelion, otherwise known as a weed.

One of my fellow adventurers climbed to the top of this extremely tall rock (gulp!) to survey the land before us. One cannot tell from this photo, but the rock she's standing on plummets straight down:

Mo of the mountain, the famous trail dog, probably works five times harder than any of us, because he only weighs six pounds and must be diligent in order to keep up.  He does indeed keep up, and never complains.  

Sparky is behind him.  Her job is navigator.  

Can you guess what this is?  And no, I didn't edit this photo in any way at all other than to crop it.  The colors really are this intense:  

It's the bloom on a cactus.  

Friday, June 27, 2008

Estes Park Wool Festival, III: The Loot

My favorite part of the Wool Festival is touring the enormous vendor building and getting loot. Vendors sell every thing imaginable for the spinning, weaving, knitting and crocheting enthusiast.  Fibers include silk, llama, alpaca, sheep's wool, cashmere, and even bunny (angora). 

Because I get carried away, I always make one pass through the entire vendor building and then decide what I'm going to buy.

Last year I bought a kit and made these incredible Scandinavian style mittens, designed by Linda Hellberg George, based on her grandmother's pattern:   

Straight out of a storybook, the cuff extends high up over the wrist, keeping hands toasty in even the coldest weather.  I adore the silver button:  
This year I bought these hand-dyed yarns, created by Laura Macagno-Shang of Missouri.  One daughter is getting the peach yarn with purple as an accent, while I might actually use the periwinkle for me:  

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Estes Park Wool Festival, II

Right in the middle of telling you all about the Wool Festival last week, I got totally side-tracked by that stinkin' pollen and all the rain-dancing I've been doing.   

Let's get back to the incredible Festival, shall we? Last week we took a look at the Alpacas, so now we'll move on to the sheep tent. Sheep are amazing and come in all sizes and colors, but I got to say, they're all sheep shaped. (Don't say that repeatedly or quickly or you'll get your mouth washed out.) 

Anyway, I saw my daughters, mesmerized, gaping into one of the pens. Of course I had to find out what interested them so much.  

"WOW!!! That's mind-boggling!!!" I shouted when I looked into the pen. The girls were mortified and tried to shish me. But stupid me, I didn't take the hint.

"That fellow is AMAZING! According to this sign, he's got the POLYCERATE GENE!!!" (This gene causes the sheep to grow extra horns.) The girls were not impressed that I could read the placard on the side of the pen.

Finally I figured out we were not looking at the same sheep.  DUH!!!  They were looking at this most impressive specimen of a ram:  

"wow...,"  I whispered, not even using a capital "w".   What more could I say?  

The sheep in the photo above are Jacob sheep, named for the fellow of Old Testament fame. Spinners like this wool, as they are able to spin yarn that is naturally variegated.  

Here's one last photo of a gentleman who was such a natty dresser I had to include him:  

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

To Catch a Rainbow

Catching a rainbow is about impossible; the photo never is as good as the real thing.  Nonetheless, I'm content with this photo.  We've been taunted with the promise of rain each afternoon, complete with thunder.  Delicious, cool rain that would wash away the pollen.  No matter how dark the clouds, a cruel wind always blows our wishes away.  At least we got a rainbow! 

Monday, June 23, 2008

Beautiful Sky and a Trick

As I was driving, I saw this incredible skyscape and immediately pulled over to snap. Normally it's not a great idea to shoot into the sun, so I had to hurry before it moved from behind the cloud cover.

That's when I realized I was viewing this scene through my new sun glasses with sepia lenses.I wanted the photo to look just the way I was seeing things;  so I took off my glasses, placed them over the lens of the camera, and snapped away. Yes, you could do this with your photo software, but the sunglasses produce a different look. Reminds me of the good old days when I carried around a camera, various lenses, and tons of filters, including the UV filter for taking photos through glass, the sepia filter, the portrait filter, the macro filter, etc.  Using sunglasses is so much easier!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I Feel Guilty

Gee! I feel just awful about complaining in my last post about something as trivial as pollen. Especially since I was treated to an incredible sunset tonight. See for yourself:

Amber Waves of...

Yes, the yellow powder on the deck in the photo above is POLLEN. One day's worth. I'm awash in pollen.  

In case I haven't made it abundantly clear, I adore living in the mountains.  I think I'm the luckiest girl alive to live in a place where each and every day I see sights that fill me with awe. With that said, there are just a few things that are... unpleasant. Like pollen.  

Since we enjoy such marvelous summer weather, we need no air conditioning.  We simply keep the windows open.  So of course, everything in the house is covered in pollen.  Came home the other day to find both dogs wearing sweet little suits of pollen.  Forgot to rinse out the tub before I got in it, and so I enjoyed a pollen bubble bath.  Must clean off kitchen counter tops and floor daily to remove the residue.        

Last night's sprinkle of rain wasn't enough to wash the pollen off completely:

Oh well. Soon this will pass. I still think I live in paradise.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Estes Park Wool Festival


Besides doing a lot of awesome family things, we also managed to get away on Sunday to Estes Park, the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park,  for the annual Wool Festival.  This four day extravaganza is a paradise for anyone who crafts with fiber.  During the first two days classes are held in spinning, weaving, knitting, felting, etc.  Then on Saturday and Sunday the vendors show up, as well as the animals who produce all those glorious fibers.   

Our first stop was the alpaca tent.  Alpacas produce fiber that is much softer than sheep's wool, and therefore highly prized and much more expensive.  Alpacas are docile and sweet, and make a humming noise when stressed or frightened.  Most every animal we saw had been shorn, making them look other-world-ish like the fellow above.  

We here in Colorado are on constant guard about cougars, who have been known to kill the alpacas.  One rancher told us that his solution was to get a llama, who will serve as a guard to the alpacas.  I was surprised to hear this, because while llamas are much larger than alpacas, they also were quite sweet.   
These are sisters, Endine and Henrietta (please use the French pronunciation).  The owner is hoping to sell them as a pair.  Sadly, my yard isn't large enough. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Another Skirt

Daughter picked out the fabric for this skirt from the home decor department. The underskirt is dupioni silk, while the overskirt is a synthetic.

Dupioni is one of my favorite fabrics. The way it reflects the light is one of the reasons I love it. It does have a huge drawback: it sheds horribly. That is why I make French seams (basically a seam within a seam). Here's how the French seam looks on the wrong side:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hidden Treasure

One never knows what glories await on a hike. One of my girls climbed to the top of the enormous rock pictured below:

And this is the treasure she discovered:

Sunday, June 8, 2008

I Ate an Elephant

I was looking at old photos when I came across these gems.  

Once upon a time there lived a little girl who delighted in shocking her older siblings and parents.  (She also adored dressing up in lime green platforms just to go to the pool.)
She loved to claim to have eaten an elephant, her way of explaining the enormous "puppy belly" she got every time she ate a meal: 

But of course, for tiny little girls, puppy belly never lasts long. And so, when people asked her what happened to the elephant, she'd squeal with laughter and tell them: "I pooped him out!!!"

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Romeo and Sparkyette

Sparky and I were cleaning house and came upon one her many theatre portfolios. I thought I'd share some clips from one of her more memorable shows, Romeo and Sparkyette.

In this first shot, Sparkyette is backstage with her dresser, preparing for the ball scene.

Romeo, clearly smitten, searches for Sparkyette's balcony.  Look at the passion on that face:  

Romeo declares his undying love for Sparkyette.  
Sparkyette rises from her bed chamber to find out who is making all that accursed racket:  

 Sparkyette is taken aback by Romeo's fervor and politely asks him to quit sniffing.   
Romeo does not honor the fair maid's request, and Sparkyette has no choice but to try to escape.  
Although the production was an enormous hit, Sparkyette vows she will never work with this Romeo again.  

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Perfect Tuesday in Summer

Although it's not quite summer, one of the best things to do in town this time of year is to go to Farmer's Market, held every Tuesday, June through October.  Today was the opening day.  You can't find a better setting, as this market is located in the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains west of Denver.  The elevation is around 7500 feet, (Denver is but a mere mile up) which means there's 40% less oxygen than at sea level.  

That also means that oftentimes we dwell among the clouds.  Look to see the shadows of clouds on the mountain in the photo above.  Here are some of the things I love at Farmer's Market:  

Fresh produce:  

Lots of hand-crafted items, including wearable art:  

Delicious food, including these lovely pastries made by a genuine French pastry chef:  
Sparky also adores the market.  Here she is in her favorite dress, trying to charm said French chef into giving free samples of her wares (it worked, by the way) :   

Fresh flowers, grown and brought to market by one family:  

And after market day is done, Mojo settles down for a nap on my desk:  

A Class Act

This is a photo I took of St. Mark's Square in Venice, one of my favorite cities. Note St. Mark's Campanile,  also known as the belltower, one of the most recognizable icons of the city. I love Venice so much that I often return there in my mind, and I will seek out anything that reminds me of the beloved city.  

I was in downtown Denver this past weekend. I've always been intrigued by the belltower there that reminds me of the one in Venice.  I wanted to see it up close and personal.   

So off I went...

Almost there...

Finally I arrive.  My search for an oasis of class and culture within a metropolis of cold glass has ended.  This is what greeted me in the window:    

The Aphrodite of Accordian?  Definitely not what I had in mind...