Sunday, December 27, 2009

happy new year

Happy New Year!  Last night was an amazing New Year's Eve.  It was the end of a decade and we were so fortunate to experience a Blue Moon!  A Blue Moon is the second full moon in one calendar month, which only happens about every 2.5 years, however, the last year a Blue Moon fell on December 31 was 1990 and the next year it will happen will be 2028.  Pretty awesome and what great energy it inspired!

To finish off 2009 right, we finished up the breakfast nook by hand sewing some pillows and hanging some nice lighting.

Bonus photos!  
Merry Christmas!
And a nice view from my dad's front door.

Enjoy the beginning of a new decade and good luck with all those resolutions!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cold cold cold!

Apparently I have had a request from one of my readers (thanks for being my reader Karen!) to break away from my frenzied knitting and actually blog a little about my frenzied knitting.

I have been delighted to find myself in a transition between stages of knitting obsession.  I am currently entering the stage of production obsession.  All I want to do is knit, and I want to knit many many projects in little little time.  I knit in the morning, on my lunch break, in the evenings, and every Tuesday night from 7-9 at Stix.  I have been cranking out knitting projects like there is no tomorrow, especially since days on end of negative degree weather have encouraged me to stay inside where the air is warm and the wool is soft.

But of course there is a tomorrow.  Life goes on with or without scarves, hats, sweaters, and fine lace shawls.  But with the economy how it is and a certain species of dolladollabills becoming harder and harder to find, my new habit of obsessive knitting today has started to make a dollar for me to tuck away for tomorrow.  

And with Green being the new Black, knitting and animal fibers prove to be a sustainable choice, and it's all the rage!  So with sustainability and 'greenness' at the forefront of my knitting, I have made a choice to cater to another new rage in alternative lifestyle, rock climbing.  Specifically, I am encouraging a move away from petroleum based products designed for rock climbers and on towards the woolly.  Obviously it's a benefit for some climbing gear to be made from the newest, strongest, bestest, whatever, due to safety concerns....But in my opinion, all those high tech 'endurance gear' materials aren't necessary for some of the accessories, especially chalk bags.  

A chalk bag's primary and obvious function is to hold chalk, not save your life.  Another very obvious function is to declare your flavor, your style, your spice. Most climbing gear is designed for purpose with little style in mind and when viewed from below, as most climbers commonly are, pretty much all that is seen is a butt and a chalk bag.  As seen below...

So to allow all those style-savvy climber out there to express themselves and their support for a more sustainable mindset, I have created Baa Bags.  They're made from sheep!   Hand knit, felted chalk bags, and (soon to come) bags made from recycled wool sweaters.  These bags will soon be available on Etsy and maybe at a climbing gym near you!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a beautiful day to celebrate with friends and family.  The sun was bright and the air was crisp and fresh.  A perfect morning for a run.  So run we did!  As part of the third annual Huffing for Stuffing fun run, a fundraiser for the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, and the largest running event in Montana!

Over 2,000 people participated this year, including a turkey, a naked indian, and a wide array of costumed runners and kids in strollers.  I beat my personal best in the 5K (a little bit longer than a standard 5K at 3.5 miles) with a time of 35 minutes 58 seconds and placed 436 out of 858 women.  My sister, cousin and cousin's husband ran the 5K, as well as many of our friends, and my mom ran the 10K with my brother. Harvey, Suka, and Shaun waited for us at the finish with another brother and there was definitely no shortage of people or dogs on the cheering squad!

I have to say it was an awesome way to start the holidays and I am already looking forward to the St. Patty's day fun run, the Run to the Pub!  

So happy Thanksgiving to all and get out an enjoy this beautiful holiday season!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Back to Work

Time to get back to work before the madness of the holidays hits.  I'm sure that before long another snow storm will hit and turn our nights into working days and our days into long naps.  So, before that happens, we decided to bust out a little more work on 'the Nook'. 

We sanded, smoothed, drilled, screwed, and installed hinges for our bench seats. In a rather un-straightly manner, I might add. 
After the cleanup from that ordeal, I decided to make another mess and cut the foam for our cushions.

Four fabulous inches of the most amazing double stuffed squishy foam!

To fill the rest of my time, I made Shaun a hat.  Cashmere, the lucky duck, covered in fishes.

And we bought giant bag of parsley for 50 cents and hung it all up in the window to dry.  Whee!  How much fun it is to save money!  Spices are expensive!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Finally Winter!

Well, as much as we hustled to get finished, our beloved breakfast nook seems to be at a standstill.  It's not that we aren't still interested... It's just that in the past week a few significant things have happened that have impeded our progress.  
First, I got a job.  So I have been working.  (Hooray for me!)  And at one of my favorite places (historically) I might add... The Gallatin Gateway Inn.  Absolutely gorgeous, now and in my memories of childhood, however tragically stuck in a streak of poor business for quite a few years now.
Second, Shaun has been sick, recovering from 'The Swine' as I like to joke.  Not sure what it was, really... But I think it was the 'Swine Flu'.  What a joke.  (Unless you're in your third trimester of pregnancy, apparently.  Sorry.)  So, swine is over and a bad cough remains... Bronchitis?   Shucks.
Third, my dad built a shed, so all of our working tools traveled to town in the back of a pick-up truck for the big installation, which seemed to take half a week.  Shed installed, tools home again, and BAM!...
Our fourth major impediment, a snow day.  And a serious one at that...

All that is from one good night's dump.
And just a couple days ago, dad was on the tractor turning the compost.  Crazy weather.

But that's Montana for you.  A post I wrote earlier this year, in April, is another perfect example of big Montana dumps.  Click here to see that one.

More pics of the snow...  "We must document this historic day!"

Now it's time to play!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Home Improvement: Breakfast Nook

Shaun, Suka, Harvey, and I have finally moved into our new home above my dad's house and wasted no time starting our home improvement projects.  Most importantly, first and foremost, a breakfast nook.

These are our plans. 

Very detailed, as you can clearly see...  Lots of measurements... 

And let the work begin!

Installed, trimmed, and ready to stain!  A couple cushions and we'll be ready to start on the accompanying table.  Wheee!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The End of the World as We Know It...

It is 12:30 in the morning...  I can still here the music, the lights are still on, and I can still here the voices in the house below us, even though I am in my bed and ready to sleep.   Now, normally, this would be a normal roommate/apartment situation, but the house below our apartment belongs to my father, and the two voices I hear at present are he and Shaun... the dad and the boyfriend.  Shaun is still downstairs drinking with the dadman... should I be worried?  Is this one of those 'father-in-law' deals? (even though we'll never get married) Are they conspiring against me? my dog? HIS dog? god? dog? ... Oh my... they must be planning something against god... Or else they're conspiring to tear down a wall... or plant garlic... or turn the compost pile...Jesus! (Forgive me.)   I guess a few people would tell me I should be worried about this.  They seem to be getting along well... really getting to know each other, maybe for a few hours too many by now, but getting to know each other all the same.  On the other hand...I'm sure a few people would tell me to be worried about this...they're really getting to know each other... hmmmm...they're probably talking about the garlic...damn.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wyoming Weekend

If anyone ever tells you they want to see and live the 'true West', the way it was in the movies, the Old West, they need to go to Wyoming.  

Shaun and I have wanted to ride horses and drink whiskey and be part of that western frontier for a long time.  Shaun because it is different from what he was raised on.  It is a different, more primal side of the outdoors lifestyle that he loves.  Me because it is part of my heritage and my family history. It runs in my blood weather I want it too or  not.  
Finally, after two years of listening to Shaun whine about wanting to ride horses, this past weekend we had an awesome opportunity to spend time with my extended family, and do the Wyoming thing... saddle up and ride our trusty steeds up the mountain to hunting camp.  It was a short trip, to surprise my uncle for his 60th birthday, since he wouldn't leave hunting camp, but it was worth every minute, not to mention the saddle sore.

Old Hollow Belly
A long long history of broken arms, childhood pain and injury, and the most fun any one of us has ever had.

Shaun chopping wood on a beautiful, bright, fall day in Greybull, Wyoming.

The purple hills of the Big Horn mountains.

Shaun on Bugley.  "If Bugley's movin', Bugley's sweatin'."

Me on Tommy.

Hunting Camp.

Relaxing a little after the long ride.

Nice shed!  What a find!  I couldn't even get my hand around it mid-way up.

Debauchery ensued well into the night.  All those shadows are heads.

The ride home, Shaun was obviously a little exhausted.  A sign of good fun, for sure.

And, as (almost) always, check the title for more pictures!

The Long Road Home

Time to make the trip home.  Shaun and I packed up the Ninja van and say good bye to friends and family.  

The final few days were bitter-sweet for the both of us, but the cool days in Iowa were making our blood flow faster and the snow in the mountains of Montana was calling our names. 

So, we hit the road and headed to Springfield, Missouri to pick up our friend Lorin who found herself in the same situation as us, longing for the fresh mountain air of Montana, and was determined to pick enough walnuts to afford a plane ticket home.  When we called her with our road trip proposal, she had earned 40 dollars.

Oct 13-Day 1

We left Iowa around noon and stopped in Coralville, where we loaded up on good eats from the Co-op.  The drive was rainy, but it really went pretty smooth.  Some of the bushes along the road were awesome bright colors.  We arrived in Springfield, Missouri around 10:30.  It was so good to see Lorin.  Her words, "Never in my life did I imagine hanging out with you two in the mid-west."  And I have to admit, it did feel a bit surreal.

Oct 14-Day 2   

Our simple mission to get from Iowa to Montana, normally a 20 hour drive, turned into a possibly week long excursion.  Leaving Springfield around 10:30 am, Lorin introduces the Ninja to our Secret Asian Van.  Loaded down with an inflatable boat, a bike, two large dog kennels, a skateboard, four full sized backpacking packs, a summer's worth of canned goods, and a cooler containing a full deer, amazingly, we still had enough room for three people and two dogs to stretch out and even lay down in back for a nap.  Impressive!  Next stop, Taos?

We made it to Las Vegas, New Mexico, just a bit south of Taos.  We arrived at a hot springs bath at 15 after midnight to find out they closed at 12 and didn't have any camping.  (Our guide book had been rather vague about the details of the springs.)  So we drove up a mountain, ran over a dead skunk (releasing the stink all over the car, of course), and eventually found a decently flat spot to set up our tents in the pitch black.

Oct 15-Day 3 

We packed up camp and were on our way back down the mountain, 70 miles from Taos, by 8:30 am.  It was a quick drive to Taos, only to find out it wasn't very cool.

So we bummed around the downtown area for a little while, stretched our legs, had some really bad restaurant service, ate some chips and salsa, then continued on our way.

We stopped for an early dinner at the High Country bar in Chama, New Mexico, then drove on to set up camp just outside of Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  We pitched our tents near a little creek by the road and had enough time for a short hike before dark.

Lorin and I climbed to the top of a hill and watched the sun set.  The trees turning colors were so beautiful and it felt so good to be in the fresh mountain air again.  Our campsite was in a high animal traffic area and it was obvious that a lot of creatures had been to the creek and had bedded down right where we had set up our tents.  We continued to look for footprints and signs of animals while we were walking and at the top of the hill, we found two piles of bear scat.

Of course, that made us both pretty nervous since we were hiking on animal trails through low brush at dusk.  On our hike back down, as it started to get dark, we talked a little bit louder and I made sure to keep the dogs pretty close to scare off any animals that might be around.  A good nights sleep for both of us after that, I'm sure...

Oct 16-Day 4

In the morning there was frost on our tents and it was downright cold.  It was good encouragement to move fast and I was looking forward to soaking in Pagosa Hot Springs in town.  We had the car packed up and were ready to go by 8:10.  Earlier in the morning, as we were packing up, Suka ripped off a toe nail while he was playing.  By the sounds coming out of his mouth, we  thought for sure he had broken a leg or tore something.  Thankfully it wasn't anything that serious, so the last thing we did before we got in the car was hold him down and bandage him up so he wouldn't bleed all over.  He were on the road by 8:20 and headed for the Springs.
As it turned out, all three springs in town were 'resorted' and way too expensive for our dirtbag travel budget, so back in the car we went.
We ended up in Durango around lunch time.  The whole area from northern New Mexico through southern Colorado was so beautiful!  I washed my hair in the sink at the laundromat and Shaun and I shared a 6 minute hot shower for $3.75.  Not quite the hot soak I was imagining, but it felt pretty good.
The drive north of Durango was all Colorado mountain.  And Colorado mountains have high high mountain passes.

The brakes got hot over one of the high passes between Durango and Ouray, so we stopped for some bloody Marys just above Silverton, Colorado.  Other than that, the Ninja van did great, even over our highest pass of 11,018 feet!

The town was very small and colorful from above and it was such a beatiful day!  It was warm and the sun was shining on the snow capped mountain peaks that surrounded us on all sides.
As we crossed Douglas Pass around 7:00 pm, we stopped for a minute and watched a heard of elk cross the road ahead of us.  We even heard one bugle!  What a treat!
Our last big pass took us into Ouray, Colorado, a really cool little mountain town.  We made it to Dutch John, Utah pretty late at night, and camped next to the water in the Flaming Gorge, just south of the Wyoming border.  It was a beautiful clear night, so we drank vodka and whiskey, listened to Moab Jazz on the Navigator, and played around the campfire until the stars spun above us.

Oct 17-Day 5
We woke in the morning to watch the sun rise at the end of the lake.  Steam rose from the water as the cliffs around us turned orange, then grey, and the desert began to come to life.  It was a quiet, magical experience.  We cleaned up the last night's shenanigans, re-packed the car, and were on the road again by 10.

The drive across the Wyoming border to Lander was quick and easy.  We arrived not long after noon and took the dogs on a beautiful hike up Sinks Canyon to the gorgeous Popo-Agie Falls.

After our hike, we ate dinner on the patio of the Lander Bar and had a great night chatting with the Lander town folk.  We camped a couple blocks away in the city park with the sound of the river flowing by.  Lorin strung up her hammock in a clump of trees and, despite the fall chill, we envied her in the morning when we discovered all the elk droppings beneath our tent.

Oct 18-Day 6:  The morning push... home, that is...

The morning was fresh and quiet.  We ate a great hangover breakfast at the Maverick Hotel, which seemed to be a real hot spot for the locals.  Biscuits and Gravy for $4 and on the road by 9:30. We drove through the amazingly stunning Wind River Canyon then stopped off for a short visit with my aunt on the farm where my mom grew up.  We finally rolled into good 'ol Bozeman at 5:15, happy, dirty, and delightfully exhausted.

2622 Miles, 6 days, 2 dogs, 3 good friends, booze, tents, farms to mountains to deserts and, finally, back to the mountains.
The mountains of Montana that we call home.