"I started photographing my domestic world and writing not just about what I had made,
but why I made it, examining the thoughts that accompany creativity and the act of making."
Jane Brocket from The Gentle Art of Domesticity p. 189 UK edition

Friday, August 21, 2015

Wildfire Weather

Hi!  Thanks for coming to visit : )  It is good to greet you from home, although I had a great time traveling. With pretty cotton yarn Betsy gave me awhile ago, I even got two dishcloths knit while I wasn't driving.
When we heard that there were some wildfires in northern California we decided to take the coastal route [always my favorite anyway : )] to try to avoid driving through smokey areas...a plan that did not entirely work.
While driving through Crescent City, CA we stopped at Brother Jonathan Point where I took this zoomed in view of St. George lighthouse which is seven miles from shore and difficult to see in the foggy mist that day.
Then looking to the south I took this less zoomed in view of the Crescent City lighthouse which I enjoyed touring many years ago when we lived in Crescent City.
South of Crescent City there was a huge herd of elk in a park protected area on both sides of the road.  Aren't those antlers amazing?
Then, not many miles south we started running into smoke from a wildfire east of Eureka, CA.  Typically this is the time of year when lightning strikes start wildfires and the on going drought in the West has made this year particularly vulnerable to fire and the loss of many homes and a few lives so far, too, as you may have heard through the news.
As we continued driving south, the smoke lessened and we enjoyed driving through a redwood forrest CA state park.
My youngest son, Tim, and I stopped in the northern San Francisco Bay area to pick up three family members to continue the drive to Burbank, CA, and the 50th wedding celebration for my older sister and my bother-in-law.  We saw many orchards along route I-5, and were very curious to know what was growing in them because we could not see as we sped down the road, and we wished the farmers had put out signs to inform us : )
Many sections of the southern freeways have oleander bushes growing in the median strips, which I think is a lovely choice.
My nieces planned a wonderful party and helped us make wonderful memories as we celebrated.
My oldest niece's sister-in-law made this amazing cake which made me think of Anne's wonderful sugar craft work. 
After several days of visiting we drove north and my family dropped me off to visit with my friend of forty years, Paula, and her husband Lee in San Jose, CA.  Paula and I met at the church we attended, and Lee told my husband, Louis, that IBM was hiring for a position he was interested in getting and did get.
Paula is an animal lover and has a beautiful little flock of chickens in her backyard.
This feathery girl seems to be thinking..."Did I really lay that!?!"  : )

My pictures don't do justice to this pretty and productive flock!
Paula drove me up into the San Jose foothills and this is a view of the southern Bay Area and some of the golden hills of CA.
While there are few trees in the foothills, the eucalyptus and old oak trees are especially beautiful, I think.
We enjoyed seeing this small herd of horses, also.
There are so many vineyards up and down CA, it always impresses me as I drive by them.
This thought provoking message on the mount impressed me as well.
The modern windmills springing from more and more locations pose a pretty and practical presence to me although some protest their worth.
The diminished snow cover on Mt. Shasta in northern CA while normal for this time of year also reminds us of our increased drought conditions.
But in spite of the drought, our household has been given or picked up fruit and vegetables which are being processed.
Various family members are canning and freezing the results and we are having yummy fresh produce meals as well.  A Fisherman Friend has given us delicious fresh salmon to enjoy several times, also.
The wildfires have made some of our sunsets especially colorful.
But it has been concerning to not be able to see Mt. Hood very well because of the smokey haze, as in this view several blocks from our home that I have often shared with you on clearer days.  Can you see Mt. Hood?  It is a bit of a shadow in the upper right of the photo...honest!
While I was traveling,  my youngest daughter attended the county fair and sent me this delightful Smiling Sheep photo which is the last image I will leave with you in this post.

Wildfire weather is a time of tragic loss for some and great concern for others.  Forestry experts explain that forrest fires positively contribute to the growth cycle of forests,  but we still mourn the loss of lives and property they bring.

Today marks the six year anniversary of the death of my husband of 38 years.  While I am celebrating with those around me who are marking 50 years of marriage, I am saddened and jealous that I can not celebrate 50 years of marriage or more with my husband.  Yet I celebrate the positive time we shared, particularly our shared faith: that pleasures on earth will be followed by the incredible pleasures of eternal life through Christ.

Months ago I added a page to my sidebar but did not bring your attention to it.  It is entitled "Louis."  In it I describe my view of my time spent with Louis on earth.  Adventures!  I invite you to read about them if you are curious : )

Since coming home during our stretch of wildfire weather, I have been picking sun gold cherry tomatoes, knitting, swimming, attending church, having luncheons with friends, planning to restring some cobalt blue glass beads I have been collecting along with those Teresa gave me, writing a poem, drawing, painting a watercolor picture, and planning a business link to this blog...my adventures continue!

Please tell me about your adventures whatever your weather may be.  I am eager to know!

Gracie xx

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Once in a Blue Moon

Can you see the moon rising?

The sunsets were often amazing at Oregon's Tillamook State Beach.

It was fun to try to capture a good photo of the Blue Moon...[two nights in one month when the moon is full].

This beautiful hydrangea bush was at the entrance/exit of the campground where we stayed.

The Coleman pop up tent provided a comfy, cozy home away from home for me.

I enjoyed crocheting  more rows on my Ruby Shawl.

And I also got to knit more rows on the baby blanket I'm making.

Very few folks braved getting into the cold ocean waves, but I was glad to be comfortable wearing a sweater when the temps inland were in the 100 F degrees!

The campground had many of these pretty berry bushes between campsites.

One day we really enjoyed exploring the little Tillamook museum.

The Native American arrowhead displays were amazing!

Also I marveled at the gorgeous Native American bead and leather work!

Did you know one could carve a wooden chain?  I didn't. WOW!!!

The sunset/sunrise light and our campfire light and warmth was wonderful!

Just before I left home I received a surprise package!  Thank you again, Tammy, for sending me these wonderful gifts from around Kuwait, and the dream catcher you crocheted for me.  I used the Bethlehem bookmark to mark my place in the encouraging  book, "Dreaming with God" by Bill Johnson that  I was able to finish reading while camping.  I appreciate so much our blogging friendship :)

And I was welcomed home by a package and sweet note from my blogging friend, Jennifer, whose generous blog giveaway I was blessed to win.  Thanks again, Jennifer!

I used some of the napkins and straws from Jennifer's gift right away for a tea party with my oldest daughter and granddaughters.  My daughter made a vanilla cake with homemade blackberry jam from our blackberry crop. [Also note some of the sun gold cherry tomatoes on the turntable from our plant! Harvest time is here :)]

With very little turnaround time, I am repacking to leave early tomorrow morning to drive to Burbank, CA, with some of my family members to celebrate my sister and brother in law's 50th wedding anniversary :)  I hope you are having happy times, too, and I look forward to catching up with your news soon!   <3

Gracie XX

Friday, July 17, 2015

In Gauge In July

So far in July I have had some wonderful celebrations with family and friends and I hope you have too.  I celebrated the freedom I have where I live. As part of the celebration on July 4th I made  fruit kabobs that we whirled around in canning jars full of homemade raspberry-lemonade spritzers...fun to make and yummy to drink and munch on.

Admiring flowers and the moon and having a tea/chocolate almond milk party with my granddaughters have occupied some of my time during the unusual stretch of very hot weather we have had so far in July.  Also,  water has figured prominently in my activities. I have continued to swim frequently at the gym pool, and I've watched others swim or play in kiddie pools, and my oldest granddaughter asked her pastor to baptize her as a Christian in the river by his house which I got to witness. [a bit of swimming and boating happened afterwards].

For those of you who crochet and or knit, do you crochet or knit a swatch to determine your gauge before you start a project like most patterns suggest you should?

I don't....or haven't....I know, but don't judge please :)

Monday night I joined a group of ladies at the church that I have been attending who gather to crochet or knit baby blankets for babies who arrive at a local neonatal unit. Before I came I had been told that we were asked to make blankets 16x22, or 22x28, or 28x34 inches in a non-lacy pattern, and if knitting use size 8 knitting needles with worsted weight, soft acrylic yarn.

Since I had appropriate yarn, I dug out my Knit Picks size  8 circular needles and attached them to a size 24" cord figuring that would be enough room for a small blanket. Then I cast on stitches until it looked like it would be big enough and started knitting.  I knit and knit and knit and knit...

I know :)

I completed very few rows before arriving.

When I showed the leader of the group what I had started she kindly told me that the blanket might be big enough to fit a twin size bed.  Really?

I started to frog my work, but before I had finished frogging she said, "Wait a minute.   Let's figure out your gauge." [I at least knew enough about "gauge" that I had brought my little ruler-knitting-needle-sizer-thingy with me so I efficiently whipped it out] [ahhh pride]

My new friend-teacher said, "See.  You have four stitches per inch so all you have to do is multiply the number of inches you want the width to be by four and you will know how many stitches to cast on."

See my enlightened mind?

In my over 44 years of knitting I am certain I have figured out how to figure out gauge before, but I am hopeful that this guided hands on experience will help me internalize the information forever and put it to use in a timely fashion in the future :)

So far July has had many exciting events, including the first awesome close up views of the dwarf planet,  Pluto, and devastating losses of life and property around the world, so my mind has not only been trying to wrap itself around stitching in gauge but also  thinking and feeling in gauge about life in and around me.

Life is engaging to me!  Is it to you?

Wishing you life engaged in love,

Gracie  xx

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother's womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  It is amazing to think about.  Your workmanship is marvelous-and how well I know it."  Psalm 139:13-14 TLB