Saturday, November 26, 2005

First Round of Christmas Knitting DONE!

Family and Friends know that they are all getting hand-knit prezzies for the holidays (so don't expect much else...hint, hint). As of today, Saturday, November 25, all the knitting for the New Zealanders is done! The scarves have been wrapped and sealed in ziplocks for the trip across the ocean and will be shipped on Monday (john's scarf is still being blocked as we speak). Hopefully, this will get the gifts there around The Big Day and not sometime in February as has been the case in the past.

So what is left still to do before The Big Day? I am feverishly working on the items for Alan, Kathy, Jon, Ben, Skye, Himself, Kris, Steve, JF....oh, I have to stop lising them or I'll freak out.

Gotta get back to the needles. Happy Turkey Weekend!

Elk River Trail, Part Deux

Back to last weekend's adventure...

6. How to create a "Bum Fire" in three easy steps:
A. Find an old can and punch holes in the bottom.

B. Make sure air passes through the holes...try blowing in them!

C. Viola! A Bum Fire...and its Leave No trace too!

7.What's for dinner? Jan packed awesome meals for the trip and we enjoyed chicken alfredo, chedder biscuits, and lemon bars for dinner. No, we didn't wait until dark to gets dark at 5:30 in the winter!

8. Off to bed. Jessica and Lecia discuss the finer points of staying warm that night.

9. Make sure to always keep your campsite clean. HA! It looks like we were planning to stay for a week! (I wish). Yes that's me on the left knitting...he, he, he.

10. Take a luxury item with you for is that knitting coming???

11. Make sure you have friends along to help with the load. Tracey helps Lecia get loaded up for the hike out.

12. Grab a boyscout at the trail head to take a final picture.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Elk River Trail Will Never Be the Same

Cottonwood Adventures held a hike at the Elk River Trail on Saturday and Sunday. What a blast! All the girls that came on the trip had previous backpacking/hiking/camping experience so the trip required little if any "teaching" and more just having fun and enjoying the experience.

The trip was a hoot...from ill-fitting packs to leaking water bottles to "how to shit in the woods"...the Elk River Trail will never be the same.

Here is a little colorful imagery from the trip:

1. Fitting apack at the trailhead: Yes that is a knife in my hand. Lecia's exact words: "Cut this shit off of here."2. Happy Campers: Tracey and Lecia chillin' (literally) at "base camp."
3. Knitting trailside: Working on the "Panta" pattern with some Noro Shimano

4. Leaky Water Bottle = Soggy GORP.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Fast Asleep

Last night was the monthly KIP Meet-Up at Starbucks. Besides talking about knitting and chick stuff, we got on to the conversation of gardens. No, I'm not a food gardener. I have tried over and over and over again. For some reason I can't make them work. I don't know if I don't harvest enough or what. I love seeing the seeds sprout in the spring and the plants grow up tall, but after that I get bored. My gardens are all about the plants and the constant change of blooming periods.

The saddest gardening season is fast approaching. The last hints of color are in the mums and a few leaves are still on the spirea, forsythia and sumac. We had our first hard freeze two nights ago (even a couple of snowflakes), and the elm trees and osage oranges are responding by covering the ground in their last leaves.

This photo was taken in the first part of October when all was still green and the plants in the Big Garden were mature from a summer of growing.

I have to remind myself that the gardens need this. It is a natural cycle and keeps the insects and disease at bay. It is hard to walk out in the dead of winter and see naked trees, beds that look barren and devoid of life, and wilted planters.

Soon just a few months...all that is sleeping now will reawaken into bursts of color and life. Buds will appear on the apple tree in the Fruit Garden and the tulips, long forgotten, will pop up again and surprise me with their vibrancy.

Thank goodness for knitting or I would never make it through the sleeping season.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ready, Set, SHOP!

Christmas, Solstice, or whatever you celebrate is just around the corner. For those of you who do not have The Family overseas, I need to inform you that all your holiday shopping should be done by now and ready to ship. In fact, you may be running a little late already. Thankfully, I started knitting prezzies back in May.

However, if you are The Family that lives on the other side of the world (or even just on the other side of the county line), you know that shopping has become soooo much easier with All you have to do is search a wish list and ship it to the reciepient and "poof" shopping is done and most of the time it comes wrapped!

So what are we all wishing for this year?
The Americans: Libby & Himself (check it out...Kathy Albers jumped on the bandwagon this year!)
The Canadians: Molly & JF
The New Zealanders: Who knows what they actually want...they are getting scarves and they better like it!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Give A Girl A Chance

A beautiful Saturday afternoon in Kansas (a little windy, but still nice) and I am at work. Poop, poop, poopie, poop. Its my own fault for being nice. One of the guys who helped build the WATER Center needed a venue for his son's wedding. The bride is a few months pregnant and they are financially strapped, etc. What's a girl to do? I'm just too nice sometimes.

I do have to say that I really feel for the bride. She is young and beautiful and probably deserves more than what she is going to start off with. At 1:00 (wedding is at 3), she was the only one here. She was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and setting up all the tables and chairs by herself. Her friends that were supposed to meet her decided to go out to eat instead. So picture this: a young woman (maybe 20-ish), four months pregnant, two hours before her wedding trying to pull everything together. She was amazingly calm. I wish her the best of luck and hope that she can keep that kind of strength, focus and determination through out the rest of her life.

2:45: Well, the wedding guests are starting to arrive and its getting a little wild. It very windy outside so everyone is congregating inside the building and the set-up crew (that finally arrived) is still setting up the reception area. Note to self: weddings are insane, make sure to elope in next life.
3:30: The 3:00 wedding finally started and in about five minutes it was over. What is the status on the bride? Poor thing, as soon as she hit the wind, her veil blew off and into the fountains. I'm sure she is probably about ready to collapse with emotion and stress.
Reception: (Is it totally wrong that I'm craving some of that cake???) Everyone has been seated, there is music in the background, cheese, veggies, and crackers for snacks, and things seem to be going okay. **I have only managed to knit one row during all of this (why do I even bring it?).
Yea...I finally weaseled in and snagged some wedding cake!
5:00: Many of the guests have already left, the cake has been eaten, the snacks are gone and the bride and groom are opening prezzies. The bride was sweet enough to come find me in my office to ask what time they needed to leave--she was afraid she had overstayed her time.
Well, I think they are starting to break things down. I can smell candle smoke and the noise level is dimished. My accomplishments for today: two "sets" of rows done on Molly's scarf (the scarf that won't die--been working on it since August) and the realization that there are amazingly strong women out there whoface struggles that I cannot begin to imagine.
Best wishes to all the girls out there--keep your head up and grab life by the ________ (you fill in the blank!)

Kansas Hiking for a Japanese Magazine

Yesterday was Veteren's Day and as a government employee I had the day off. What to do with all that time...sleep? read a book? How about guide a day hike on the Elk River Trail for three gentleman from Japan? Great idea!!

For those of you who may not know, my friend Jan and I have a hiking and backpacking guide service called Cottonwood Adventures. Typically, our focus is on getting women involved in backpacking through trips and outdoor education courses. Our reputation has spread(scary thought) and we were recruited by the Coleman Co. to lead three visitors from Japan. The visitors interests included hiking in Kansas, nature, historic Coleman products, and American culture. The visitors, all guys, included a representative/interpreter from Coleman Japan, a Japanese outdoor magazine, and a photographer.

We met at 7 a.m. in Wichita and headed east to Beaumont for breakfast at the historic Beaumont Hotel. The guys ordered a "typical American breakfast" of bacon, egs, hashbrowns and biscuits. They seemed to really enjoy the atmosphere of the small diner in the Hotel.

From the Hotel we continued east and stopped at the scenic rest stop in Greenwood Co. The guys remarked that most Japanese have never seen the horizon line -- they see it on the ocean, but not on land. They were struck with the beauty of the rolling flint hills and the sheer distance visible all around them.

Next stop was at the Conoco at the junction of Hwy 400 and 99 to top off water bottles and then on to the trail. At the trailhead we ran into friends of ours who will be joining us for a Cottonwood Adventures backpacking trip next weekend (small world!)

Throughout the journey along the trail we stopped to talk about Kansas natural history. We found a skeleton of an armadillo - an animal the visitors were not familiar with. Later in the day, we saw one rooting for grubs. This close encounter was a real treat for the guys. We discussed Kansas geology and reveled in the natural limestone outcroppings, tunnels, and cravasses.

Jan and I dropped our packs at our scheduled lunch stop before we all continuted on. The guys really wanted to get down to the lake so we bushwacked down a slope, around some poison ivy, over a bunch of fallen trees before reaching the lake shore. The phototrapher took a number of pictures lakeside.

At about 1 p..m. we truned around and headed back to the creek where all our lunch gear was waiting. Knowing that the guys were interested in Coleman products and Americana we brought two different types of Coleman stoves to prepare the meal on: the Xpert and the F1

We prepared jambalya, corn bread and carrot cake. I brought in two bottles of wine: a red zinfindel and a shiraz. I filtered water from the creek to prepare the meals and we also discussed the specific cooking technique/equipment that we use: the Bakepacker. While we were eating, our friends came by on the trail as they were hiking to their overnight spot. By the time we cleaned up from lunch, the sun was already getting low in the sky (damn winter). The photographer had expressed an interested in visiting the dam and shooting some pictures of the sunset over the lake, so we booked it on the way back to the cars. We stopped momentarily to watch six wild turkeys as they walked through the woods below the ridge we were hiking on.

On the trip home we stopped at Toot's Diner in Howard, KS for hamburgers, curly fries and pie. All in all, it was a great day. The only mishaps were: I hit a squirrel (boo hoo) abd a bird (yikes!), and narrowly missed two deer. (These theings ONLY happen when I'm driving Pat's car). Coleman will be bringing in more international visitrs in in the spring, so Jan and I may get a chance to take our business world-wide once again.

More letters from the trail next weekend!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

And so it begins...

Well, I have broken down and created my own blog. Hmpf. I guess this will give the world a chance to experience all my adventures in knitting, hiking, and environmental education. Watch out world!

I have been working away on my Christmas knitting projects - scarves for everyone! The great thing about it is that everyone wears the same size! Attached is a photo of all the current WIPs (works in progress). Yes, there are three there...I just get tired of working onthe same pattern all the time so I switch back and forth. Hopefully (its getting more desperate now), I can get everyone's done by the holiday.

Off to go knit!