Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Picture Wednesday, 1970s edition

Today's picture was actually taken by my Dad. A few years ago, when I worked in a slide library, I used the equipment to scan over 100 of his slides, taken mostly in the 1970s. I believe this picture was taken in Tralee, Ireland, during the Rose of Tralee festival. It's fun looking at the 70s cars, but what I like the most about this shot are the two people in the right corner. The man is wearing an awesome red plaid cap, and the woman is so striking with her curly black hair and red lips. Over 30 years have passed, and I can't help but wonder where these people are now.

Notes from the woods:
Because I'm in temporary housing, I've been using the public library's wireless internet for most of the summer, despite the run-ins with safari-gear-wearing, barefooted, and inappropriate-shorts-flashing characters. (There's even a man who wears skirts.) Unfortunately, their internet broke last Wednesday, and because there is only one IT guy in the entire state of Montana, who apparently spends most of the week fishing, I'm predicting it will be out for another week. The only way to connect to "free" wireless is standing in front of my TV, balancing my computer on top. It's so fun living in the woods!
For weeks we have thought the cat insane. She would hunch down near the heating grates in the floor, and simply stare. I didn't understand her unnatural preoccupation until one day last week, I heard squeaking. After a careful inspection of all the windows, in which I found nothing, I realized that the squeaking was coming from the floor. Yes, squirrels hang out in the ductwork. "Eh," I thought, and shrugged it off. It could be worse.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Koolhaas progress

I'm having tons of fun cabling along on Koolhaas. I've never knit anything using a pattern chart before, but it's working out fine. There are TONS of great tips on Ravelry on techniques to make this pattern easier, and above all is knitting without a cable needle. Grumperina has a great tutorial, and the technique is well worth learning if you even plan to cable. I'm not sure how anyone knit before the internet...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Jackson, Wyoming

This past weekend we headed south to Jackson, Wyoming, which required a drive through Idaho. It was my first time to see Idaho, and let me tell you, that potato stereotype exists for a reason. Anyway, Jackson is an odd place. The town is obviously extremely wealthy, and filled with expensive shops, art galleries, and only white people. Everyone is dressed impeccably and there are plenty of BMW's and Audi's parked along the streets. I looked at some real estate listings, and it seems pretty difficult to buy a decent house for less than $1 million.

Oddly, Jackson still tries to have an "old west" atmosphere, which comes off as out of place and sometimes, just plain wrong. A perfect example of this is the "shootout," which happens in the town square every night. I was expecting some guys running around shooting blanks at each other, but instead got an actor dressed like an old west cowboy lip-syncing to "Bad to the Bone" and wiggling his hips about in a non-western-cowboy fashion. There were also these "dancing girls" who pulled a poor man out of the audience and forced him to dance with them. Weird.

There are plenty of shops in which to browse, and some very good restaurants. We ate at a Thai restaurant (called "Thai Me Up") that, despite its cheesy name, had excellent food. This was the first time in many, many months that I actually enjoyed a restaurant's food and felt that I couldn't have made it at home.

Because, predictably, even the Motel 6 costs $100 a night, we camped 10 miles away in Grand Tetons National Park. It was August, so I couldn't figure out why it was winter in Jackson - the temperature dropped to into the 40s that night. (Before going back to the campground, we tried to find a coffee shop to sit in to pass the time and get a warm drink. But there wasn't one! If anyone needs a sure-fire investment opportunity, open a Starbucks in Jackson. You will get rich.)

The Tetons are quite distinctive; pointy and jagged. I wasn't even tempted to hike in them because they are so much cooler to look at from afar.

The next day we took a ski lift up to the top of a mountain right next to the town. It was my first time on a ski lift, and I was a little anxious about the jumping on and off, but it turned out to be really fun. This ski resort also has an "alpine slide" - a slide that is almost a half-mile long! I was SO excited... but then I found out (1) that one ride costs $15, and (2) you sit on a little board with wheels and go down a concrete chute. If I could have sat on a burlap bag and shot down a wooden slide, I totally would have done it.

By accident, we happened to visit the weekend that Jackson's Scottish Festival was going on. I was super excited for this, because I had not been to a Scottish festival in years and I am a former Highland dancer. As you remember, the Irish dancing at the Sweet Pea Festival turned out to be majorly lame, so I was happy to see some talented girls. If I ever move back to a city, I'm going to continue Highland dancing... I'll be the weird old lady in all the classes, but at least from the back I still appear to be a 12-year-old.

There were also bagpipers, of course.

Also, there was an Art Fair going on the same weekend. I know - two festivals in one weekend?? Stimulatory overload! We walked around and saw a lot of neat art, but of course it was too expensive to buy (well, maybe not for the wealthy Jacksonians.) All in all, a pretty good weekend.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Finished Socks!

Yet another pair of finished socks! As all of you knitters know, there's no such thing as too many knitted socks. I really like these, because they are stripy and fall-colored.

This yarn comes with a small spool of matching thread to reinforce the heel; very useful, I do say. Next up: Koolhaas in some sage green Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran, which is squishy and soft and generally awesome.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wednesday Post!

I haven't talked about knitting in a while - once I get home in a month I'm planning on placing a huge KnitPicks order, but until then, I'm working with what I have. I'm almost finished with the "Fall Socks" (so-called because they are fall colors. Duh.)

Orangina has been floating around my knitting bag for over a year. I started this project excitedly, before I realized that I hated knitting lace. I'm not sure what to do about it. I spent 2 hours trying to get through one row the other night (one stitch is missing somewhere), and then threw it on the ground in frustration. This picture is dark and ugly because that is how I feel about this particular piece of knitting.

I really like how the lace looks, though. So, option one is to keep on plugging, and have a finished top sometime around March, which may or may not fit. (I read that this stretches like crazy, so I made up a XXS size, which could end up being tiny.) Or, I could repurpose this yarn into something else, like a Honeymoon Cami. I guess that decision will have to wait, however, since I don't have anymore yarn with me beside what's already been knitted.
In Yellowstone news, last week we also went canoeing on Hebgen Lake. The lake is about 10 miles from my house (down a really, really bumpy dirt road), and is so picturesque its insane. My shoulders really got a workout trying to paddle back from the very choppy lake center (I felt like I was on whitewater), and I was in some serious pain the next day. However, the whole experience was quite relaxing. I need to build myself a lake in my backyard in New Mexico.

As I'm sitting in the library typing this, two women keep going into the bathroom together. (It's a "onesie" - just a toilet and a sink in one room.) They appear to be mother and daughter, the daughter being college-aged. The first time I thought, "They must be washing they hands or something." But, then later on they went in there together again. What is going on here?

Monday, August 11, 2008


This weekend I finally visited the Mammoth area, at the north entrance to the park. This is the only major area I had not yet seen, so now I have been to every major area in the park. Whoo hoo! It was bright and sunny when we left our house, but by the time we got to Mammoth, the clouds had rolled in and it started to rain. The river had turned muddy, but the scenery was still colorful.

Our main goal in traveling to this area was to visit the Boiling River, where runoff from a hot spring mixes with the colder water of the river. You can sit in the water and soak up the warmth. Sounds cool, huh? Well, the first thing you see is this sign, warning you that an amoeba might swim up your nose. (Despite the alarming nature of the sign, no one has ever gotten sick by bathing in the water.)

The area you can soak in is pretty small, and there are a lot of people there, even though the area isn't on maps and the parking lot is unmarked. The current is very strong, and I was afraid I would be washed downriver as I made my way towards the warm water.

Instead of the water mixing together, it is both scalding and freezing. You sit on the river bottom, and are hit by a stream of boiling water; then you scream and shift quickly, where you are hit by extremely cold water. So instead of being a relaxing soak, you are uncomfortable in 2 different ways. Also, there was a French family sitting next to us with no concept of personal space. We didn't last long. Of course, to get back to the shore you have to wade against an extremely strong current of freezing water. It had been raining, so our clothes and towel were soaked when we got back. Brrrr. Then, there was the .5 mile walk back to the car in wet pants. Not so fun.

The north entrance is marked by the most famous entranceway in all the national parks. (Notice that the sun had come out by this point... thanks.) It was difficult to take a picture of the arch because people kept parking their cars in front of it.

On our drive back to the house was probably the most enjoyable part of the day; not only because of the prospect of warmth, but also because a mist had settled in the valleys and created a very spooky, moody atmosphere. The whole scene was very pretty, and at times like those its easy to appreciate the awesomeness of the park.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Trail Journal: Garnet Hill Loop

Trail: Garnet Hill Loop
Date: July 25, 2008
Distance: 8.2 miles
Time: 4 hours
Elevation: negligible

This was our longest hike so far, and let me tell you, I really felt it. Luckily it was mostly flat, and skirted the base of a hill rather than going up and over it. The day was quite hot - not New Mexico hot - but fairly warm and sunny. The majority of the trail went through open meadows that offered no shade at all. The views were mostly of small hills and the river down below.

Eventually we passed into an area where it was shaded, and the river roared far below (maybe 100 feet? I'm no good at estimation.) However, it was only after 5 miles that we got into a seriously wooded area. Luckily there was also a creek running nearby, and I was able to dunk my head in and soak my hat. (I didn't take too many pictures of this hike. We were hiking with another couple and I didn't want to annoy them by stopping all the time.)

We came out of the woods and continued to follow the trail through waist-high (chest-high for me) grass. After accidentally dunking my feet into a creek (the bridge was a wobbly log and I fell off), all of the sudden the trail disappeared! Luckily the guy we were with was paying attention and knew that there was a stagecoach road running nearby. We forged through the grass and eventually hit the road. Whew! I was kind of worried there for a minute.

This trail wasn't all that breathtaking, but it had the advantage of being totally isolated. It also had the advantage of getting my new hiking boots dirty, so I no longer look like a dork wearing clean boots. It was quiet and serene. I also realized that I don't want to hike any farther than 8 miles. I'm sure I have the physical ability, but at some point hiking becomes un-fun. When you are tired of walking and just want a cold drink, you stop paying attention to the scenery - and that defeats the purpose.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Wednesday Picture #6

This is the view outside of my trailer. The other night I had to go outside and take pictures because it reminded me so much of Magritte's Empire of Light. (But more rural, of course.)

*Thank you to Heather J of Age 30 - A Year of Books who recently gave me the Brilliante Weblog award! It always makes me happy to know that not only do people read this thing, but some actually like it!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Sweet Pea Festival

This weekend we decided to forgo the usual hiking activity and hit up the Sweet Pea Festival in Bozeman, MT. I had overheard a few people talking about it, and when I found out that it was a arts festival, I knew we had to go. There were multiple stages with dancers & musicians, and about 100 vendor tents.

The art vendors were pretty impressive - there were many talented and creative artists and craftspeople showing everything from pottery to jewelry to wood furniture. (And one person with the largest amount of tie-dye I have ever seen in one location.) Unfortunately, the entertainment wasn't as professional. When I read there would be Hawaiian dancers, I was excited. But take a look at the picture below and tell me how many of these girls look "Hawaiian." (Answer: possibly one. The rest are pasty Montanans.)

Then there was a "folkloric" dance group. I was also excited to see this performance, as I took Folk Dance as my physical education requirement in college and really enjoyed those classes. But this performance... how can I describe it? Basically, these ladies took every dance form and combined it into one mishmash with no coherent theme. The lady below in the mask seemed to be the leader, and let me tell you, she was a certifiable nut job. She spoke in an odd manufactured accent, peppered her introductions with Irish words, and pretended not to know what a computer was. She kept saying things like "The magic is growing stronger! It wants me to dance!" Then she put on this Carnival mask and waved a scarf around. I guess the moral of this story is that perhaps more people need to ask themselves if their hobby, when performed in public, will be potentially embarrassing. It really was uncomfortable watching this performance because I was so embarrassed for the dancers.

I also was excited to see some Irish dancers (by now you can tell where this story is going.) I wasn't expecting Riverdance, but paying $15 to watch someone else's 7-year-old skip around a stage is not exactly good money value. I'm all for kids' dance lessons and recitals to make them feel proud of what they've learned, but at an arts festival I would have hoped to see something a little more professional. The only professional act we did see were Japanese drummers... but there were only 2 of them. Not exactly visually stunning, but they were talented.

Because we were in the big city, we spent the next day binge shopping (this is how its been for the past year... go shopping every 2 months and buy things while you can. I'm not really sure what people who actually live by shopping do - do you spend more money or less?) Because I'm predictable, I bought books and tea (total cost for everything: $14. I'm a big spender. The rest of our money was spent on food.)

I got some Vanilla Tea, which seems pretty decent, although a little weak. I haven't tried the Assam, but considering that the tin cost $2.69 and the contained tea doesn't even smell like Assam, I'm not too optimistic. But really I just wanted the container because I liked the label and it has a hinged lid. (The stupid people at Ross had to put the price tag right over the label... dorks.) The Zhena's Coconut Chai is excellent, and also gets props for having a cool looking tin (oddly reminicent of the insane dancers.)

The books I got were My Hutterite Life by Lisa Marie Stahl, Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs, and Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. Some of these were in the bargain books at Border's, and the others came from a thrift store. Obviously the whole "don't buy anything because you'll have to fit it into the car when you drive home" concept hasn't hit home.
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