Happy Fiber Days!

So, on Saturday my good friend Brady was kind enough to go along with me on my very first fleece buying adventure. I’ve thought about buying whole fleeces for a long time, and even had my friend Kim show me the basics at one point, but never quite got up the courage to do it until this weekend. Brady grew up on a ranch in Wyoming and he’s a very knowledgeable spinner, so I was delighted that he was able to go and help me pick my fleece(s).

I can’t even quite say what was different this time that I was ready to dive in and buy a fleece. They’re a big commitment because you bring home this bag of hair that smells like the barnyard, and with a lot of work and some tools it ends up being yarn you can start your project with.  I guess my spinning skills have grown such that I was ready to take the plunge, since when I first started spinning I recall saying that I would never be interested in prepping my own fiber. Why would I, when you can buy it already cleaned and prepared? Because it’s cool, that’s why.

This particular event was held in the front yard of the local yarn shop in Golden, CO, called the Recycled Lamb. This is a lovely little shop, where they teach not only knitting and crocheting but also spinning and weaving.

The day started off with a bang (literally) as several transformers in the street blew up just as we were crossing the parking lot, leaving the shop in the dark and with no working cash registers, but the shop owner and her staff were gracious and flexible, so people continued to shop in the semi-dark and visiting the shop was kind of fun this way. (I will have to go back soon when the lights are on, so that I can see what I missed).

Outside on the lawn, however, business carried on as if nothing had happened. There was a big table fully of sheepy fleeces and mohair (goat) locks.

Lots of lovely wool fleeces to choose from, and some nice mohair locks too.

There were also some mohair goats for the kids to pet. (Okay, I petted them too. Who could resist? They are adorable…)

Mohair goats...attracting lots of kids. (Pun intended)

There was a big display of alpaca products from a local alpaca farm.

A nice assortment of alpaca products. Brady found some lovely cria (baby alpaca) and I bought a whole blanket from an alpaca named Ashleigh.

Everyone was having fun petting the alpacas too. There’s a reason we love to knit with their fiber, they are super-soft.

Alpacas from Ancient Treasures.

Oh, and just for fun, a bagpiper dropped by to add a little music. I have always liked bagpipes as long as they were a ways away (they are loud!). Brady, however, is not a big fan.

A bagpiper dropped by to liven things up a bit.

My haul? One chestnut alpaca blanket from Ancient Treasures, one lamb’s fleece and half an adult fleece from Sister Sheep.

When I got home, I started straight away on washing the adult fleece because it was super-stinky and I don’t want to store it that way. But, that’s my story for tomorrow.

Happy fiber days, everyone!

Discontentment

Happiness is like time and space – we make and measure it ourselves; it is as fancy, as big, as little, as you please, just a thing of contrasts and comparisons. ~ George du Marier

I’ve been whining a bit too much lately. I only just realized this the other day, as I was thinking about a conversation that I had with one of my friends. You see, the truth is that while there are minor things in my life that annoy me (and don’t we all have those), I’m really very blessed. My health is good, my marriage is sound, and my job, while a bit boring most days, is stable and the people I work with are nice. Not only that, I’m surrounded by fiber people and all of the good stuff that goes with them – spinning wheels, yarn, fleeces and quilts. Why should I be discontented when my life is so rich?

I think to a certain extent that discontentment is a fact of human life. We all hate change and yet at the same time we itch for it. I have what my husband calls a ‘wandering spirit’ and she is always looking for the new, the better, and the different. Now, that can’t be totally ignored, because it can be a powerful force for positive change. But, it can make you quite unhappy if you let it, even when your life is actually pretty good.

I’ve decided to take a new tack on this – to count my blessings more often and spend more time focusing on the gifts and blessings in my life than the shortcomings. I’ve also decided to either deal with the things in my life that bug me, or decide to let them go and move on. Not everything has to become a big deal or a long-term project. I’m going to ask you guys to hold me accountable because I’m a known backslider.

Today I am blessed to have so many kind people who read my blog. Thank you all, and stay posted for more good things to come!

P.S. The baby blanket is coming along nicely and is about half done – I’ll post pictures soon. They panicked me just a little when I saw pictures of the baby shower on Facebook until I realized that the new mom is still very pregnant so hopefully I will be done in time. Wish me luck!

More Demons in the Night

I guess we all have our demons, those things that stalk us when it is dark out and the night is cold. Even Westies, or at least my Westies, who have a new enemy.

I awoke startled at 4:00 a.m. Wednesday morning with a barking boy Westie on my bed. This is a fairly unusual occurrence, usually limited to thunderstorms and I assume burglars (we haven’t tested that one out yet and I hope not to). At first, I wanted to launch out of bed and immediately go find the cause of his concern, but the room was cold, the bed was warm, and there was no husband to send off on the hunt. So, I quieted down the dog and laid there for a minute trying to  figure out what it was.

Then it hit me. Sprinklers. Living here in such an arid climate, we have to water our lawns in order to keep the grass from dying due to lack of moisture. I run our irrigation system very early in the morning (4:00 a.m. to be exact) because it reduces evaporation and also allows the grass to be more dry when the doggies go out at six. It’s been so warm here that we were sleeping with the windows open and the sound of the sprinklers coming on must have awakened the dog….and set off the alarm, if you will.

I slept fitfully after that, so when the neighbor’s sprinklers came on at six, I heard them but interestingly, the dog did not. He was too tired, I guess. He continued to sleep off his ordeal so he could be well-rested when Thursday came…with the weekly threat of invasion from the milkman.

“Let the wild rumpus start!” ― Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

Continuing the Natural Theme

So, as long as I’m on a theme of nature and photographs this week, I’m going to beg your indulgence just one more time and share a couple of more photos from my new camera.

I was surprised, nay delighted, to find that the bushes in front of our new house are lilacs. I adore lilacs, they smell so wonderful that it just makes me want to go lay in the grass underneath them and drink in the smell. They also remind me of my childhood for some reason, although I can’t quite recall where I remember them from. (Maybe my Aunt Julie’s old house where my cousins grew up? I think her neighbors may have had lilacs along the back near the alley).

So, I toddled outside, new camera in hand, to see how the it does with closeups. I’m not expert on framing the shot but let’s say the actors were sublime so I’m okay with how the photos came out.

There's nothing more beautiful than lilacs. I swear these must have grown on Mount Olympus and been invented by the ancient Greek gods.

Gratuitous lilac beauty shot. Because one just is not enough.

I’ll end today with some good words from John Muir. For those of you who don’t know him, he was an early conservationist who probably did more than any other single person to establish our national parks. A wise man, indeed…

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.  ~John Muir

Nature Redoux

It was a mountain-filled weekend, which is my favorite kind. As a result, the knitting and quilting projects got short shrift, but there will be enough time in the evenings this week to work on those.

As I mentioned yesterday, my husband, having been cooped up two weekends in a row doing our taxes, needed to get out of the house. So, when Sunday morning turned out to be gorgeous weather, we decided on a drive to the mountains. On Saturday night, I bought myself a fancy-pants new camera so this also gave us a chance to try that out.

We loaded the Westies in the car and set off. We’d only been to Pike’s Peak once before, and that time the road was closed for the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb, which sounds like a very interesting event. (More on that here on wikipedia, in case you’re interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pikes_Peak_International_Hill_Climb)

I didn’t realize it was such a steep incline – it’s a 10% grade for most of the way, which doesn’t sound like much but is apparently enough to overheat many cars. We did fine on the way up but on the way down, we failed the complimentary brake temperature check and got to cool our heals at the ranger station for a while until the brakes cooled down.

Pike’s Peak, like all of Colorado’s 14’ers (mountains over 14,000 feet), has several different types of ecosystems, and it’s interesting to see them change as you go up.

Below the treeline, you see a lot of pines and rock outcroppings, like this one.

Below the treeline. This was probably about 8,000 feet.

The Westies were having a blast; they love to ride in the car but especially love it when we get out to explore.

Westies are true mountain dogs. Bred to chase vermin in the hills in Scotland, these pups love to climb rocks.

Higher up, you start to see some stunning panoramic views of the pines and the snowcaps.

Getting close to the top of the treeline. This was at about 11,000 feet, the treeline ends at about 12,000 here.

Eventually we rose above the timberline and it started to look more like a rocky moonscape.

Above the treeline, it's very rocky and the air is quite thin.

But the view is gorgeous…like literally being on the top of the world.

The view from the top. Literally.

And of course, we had to take the obligatory tourist photo…

Pike's Peak 2012. Yay!

We also ate our very first Fourteener donut because yes, they do have a donut shop at the top. I can’t say it was the best I’ve ever had, but hey, getting anything to rise at that altitude has to be a challenge.

It was a great weekend. The Westies must have really enjoyed it because they’ve been sleeping ever since. Hope you all had a great weekend too.

About the photos: I’m not much of a photographer but I’m hoping to improve on that. Needless to say, the images on this site are (c) 2012 Mardee Brosh. If you’d like to use one, please drop me a note at mardee.brosh@gmail.com. Unless you have nefarious purposes in mind, I can almost guarantee that I’ll let you use them if you ask nicely. (And seriously, who is going to find nefarious purposes for a bunch of Westie pictures? That would take more imagination than I have, that’s for sure).

P.S. Did I mention we saw Bigfoot? He sends hugs and kisses to everyone…

Bigfoot sends his love.

Nature as a Cure for What Ails Us

After two weekends in a row of being cooped up inside doing taxes, my husband had a strong desire to get out into the mountains this weekend. I’m always up for this, since nature has a bit of a curative effect on me – a few hours in the mountains just seems to soothe my soul for some reason.

So, on Saturday we went to Boulder and hiked up to Royal Arch. It’s a good thing he didn’t warn me about this trail beforehand because I probably would have chickened out. You see, it’s only a 3.2 mile hike round-trip, but it’s a 1300 foot altitude gain, which means it feels like hiking up 1.5 miles of stairs with a little flat just to give you hope.

We took the Westies with us and they were little troopers, hopping from rock to rock and scrambling up and up.  They got stuck in a couple of places where the next step was too high and they needed a boost, but otherwise pulled the whole way, both up and down the mountain.

It was worth it, because Royal Arch was beautiful. I hear it’s also a beautiful view through the middle and out over the side, but I have a strong (and I think rational) fear of falling off things and therefore did not climb to the edge with my camera.

Royal Arch. Cool natural rock formation and a popular hike near Boulder. Not a great hike for people with babies or kids, though, as there is a lot of rock scrambling towards the end.

On Sunday, we had another Westie adventure to the top of Pike’s Peak – I’ll share photos and stories about that tomorrow. Maybe by then my knees will have forgiven me for the climbing I did on this hike. 🙂

The Post that Is Not a Post

Well, I think we all knew this would happen. I’ve tried to write every day as a matter of personal practice. Like yoga, writing is something you just have to keep doing to keep your skills up, which I guess means you guys have to read me every day as well. (Sorry about that. I am sure some days this is more a slog than a blog). It’s true that I also write all day long at work, but that kind of writing doesn’t really count. It’s very formulaic and well, let’s face it…dull as dull can be.

Today is the first real day where I woke up without a single idea of what to write about. In fact, for a while I was writing several days in advance so that one of my readers had something nice to read with her morning coffee. (Sadly, that’s been harder to maintain than I thought it would be).

Today is different, somehow. It’s been a really dull week around here and the lethargy of it all has just set in. Even the Westies are tired and bored, it seems.

Usually when this happens, I tell my husband that we need a break and we head for the mountains. For me, that’s my favorite part of living in Colorado – the chance to escape away to nature and refresh myself. I always come back happy, a little dizzy from the altitude changes, and much more relaxed. But, we have a busy weekend scheduled, so I don’t know if we can pull that off this week.

And, I’m not sure it’s quite the fix for this. This has been building for a while and I think part of the problem is that I’m just not challenged enough. My work is boring and I don’t get out much, which for a very social person is killer. I have plenty of hobbies that keep my hands busy but my mind needs something too. I’ve considered going back to school, taking a local quilting or knitting class, or taking a second job that would get me out of the house more, but none of them quite seems like the right thing to do.

Perhaps I could try this?

When I get real bored, I like to drive downtown and get a great parking spot, then sit in my car and count how many people ask me if I’m leaving. 

~-Steven Wright

What do you think? Surely I’m not the first person to encounter this. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.