Autumn Colors

On Saturday (Sept. 26, 2009) my husband and I decided to go for a drive and check out the autumn colors.  He insisted this would be the prime weekend for color.  Well, we did see a lot of lovely autumnal color but there were still many aspen that hadn’t even started to change color – I think it will be another two weeks before it really hits the peak time for the most vivid color show.

Autumn Colors in Conejos Canyon

Autumn Colors in Conejos Canyon

We had been going to drive over Wolf Creek Pass to Pagosa Springs but got started too late so had to do a shorter drive.  We drove from our home in La Jara to Chama, NM over Cumbres/La Managa Pass – the color on the Antonito (east) side of the pass was really pretty, very vivid.  The trees on the Chama (west) side of Cumbres/La Manga Pass had barely started to change color.  Sometimes, the fall color on that side of the pass is really striking – it probably will be gorgeous there in two weeks.

Autumn Colors near Cumbres Pass

Autumn Colors Near Horca

After stopping in Chama for a bit, we continued on to Tierra Amarilla and then turned there to go over the Los Brazos Mountains to Tres Piedras.  For some reason, a lot of  the aspen trees in those mountains are dying – there are large areas of trees that are just standing sticks with no leaves at all.  We read an article in the Taos paper about it the next day – it’s called SAD, Sudden Aspen Death, and no one is sure what causes it.  I hope someone finds out soon so it doesn’t spread.

Autumn Colors Near Horca

Autumn Colors Near Horca

Even the trees that weren’t dead didn’t have much color, their leaves were smaller and less abundant and were just kind of curling up and turning brown instead of becoming a nice bright, golden yellow color.  The scrub oak along that road was changing to a  bright red which was pretty.

Autumn Colors Near Cumbres Pass

Autumn Colors Near Cumbres Pass

By the time we arrived in Tres Piedras is was dusk but there was still some lovely color to see as we drove on to Taos for dinner and a bit of grocery shopping!  As the sun was setting, the whole sky was the most striking, vibrant shade of orange – everything was bathed in this wonderful orange glow.  I tried to capture it with a picture but somehow the camera just wouldn’t pick up the orange glow that was everywhere.  There had been a lot of haze (probably from a distant forest fire)  in the air all day which most likely caused the orange glow as the sun set.

Autumn Colors In Los Brazos Mountains

Autumn Colors In Los Brazos Mountains

You can click on any of the pictures in this post for a larger version.  Most of them were taken through the windshield of the car as it was driving down the road, I could have gotten better ones if we had stopped and I’d used my big camera but, sometimes, it’s just fun to take pictures on the fly.

Even though the colors weren’t really at their peak, it was a beautiful and relaxing drive.  I got a lot of knitting done, too – worked on the felted cat bed while we were driving.  We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of this world, I’m so grateful that we do.

Advertisements

Creepy Crawly Creatures

For the past three weeks, I’ve been catching one of these Sun Spiders or Wind Scorpions each week.  It is always late at night when I’ve been sitting up knitting and watching TV.  Two of them were on the family room floor (one very close to my foot!) and one was crawling up the wall near my knitting chair.

Wind Scorpion, Sun Spider

Wind Scorpion, Sun Spider

Ever since we’ve moved into this house, 25 years ago, there have been one or two of these creepy “bugs”, usually always in June.  This year there were a couple earlier in June and then three in late August and September.  This is the first time they have been around this time of year.  For every one I see, there are probably quite a few more that I don’t see, too.

Every time I see one crawling on the floor or up the wall it gives me the creeps – they look so nasty.  They are nasty, too.  They even eat each other.  When I caught the first one, I put it in a big jar because I wanted to figure out a way to take a picture of it.  A few days later, I caught the second one and  put it in the jar with the first one – the second one, which was bigger, promptly ate the first one.  Then, when I caught the third one, I put it in the jar with the second one and before I could even find another jar to separate them – the third one (which was even bigger) ate the second one!

Wind Scorpion, Sun Spider

Wind Scorpion, Sun Spider

I finally figured out a way to photograph the “bug” using a cutting board with a well around the edge which I filled with water.  These creatures hate water and it wouldn’t cross the water to crawl off the cutting board – so I could finally get some close-up pictures of the third one.  It is still living in the jar – it ate some ants and seems to be doing just fine.  I don’t know whether to let it go outside or just flush it down the toilet.

These things look like spiders and they are related to spiders –  they are Solifugae which is an order of Arachnida but a different order than the one to which spiders belong.  Here is an article about them:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solifugae

There are lots of urban legends about Solifugae which are all untrue.  Only one species has any venom and usually Solifugae don’t  attack anything larger than themselves.  They grow very large in some parts of the world and even eat things like lizards.  The ones I’ve caught in my house are all around 1.25 inches long.

What I think is strange, we’ve been getting a few of these things in our house every year for 25 years and none of our neighbors (that we have asked)  have caught any in their homes.  That really makes me wonder if there is a colony of them that lives under our house or something.  Perhaps next year we should put off a bug bomb under the house in the spring.  We don’t get a lot of insects in our house, just a few spiders and a few ants – and these yucky things.

Anyway, it has gotten a lot colder now – the first few flakes of snow fell yesterday – so, I think there won’t be anymore of the creepy creatures this year.  I hope so anyway!

You can click on the pictures for a larger view.

On-Line Knitting Class

Mirth Fitted Raglan Shawl

Mirth Fitted Raglan Shawl by Stefanie Japel

On September 7, 2009, I started the on-line knitting class taught by Stefanie Japel for the Mirth Fitted Raglan Shawl which she designed. It is the first time I’ve taken any sort of on-line class, or any sort of knitting class. Mostly, I wanted to take the class to learn how to knit a charted design. I’m almost ashamed to admit, that in my over 40 years of knitting – I’ve never knit a charted design and have always felt kind of intimidated by knitting charts, they look so complex and hard to understand. I’ve knitted lace before but have always followed the written out row by row kind of instructions. So, when I found out about the class I hurried to sign up as the main emphasis of the class is learning how to understand charts and knit from charts.

Stefanie is teaching the class through her Ning website:

Stefanie Japel’s Knitting Studio

So far, the class has been even better than I expected! Stefanie has uploaded so many detailed videos to watch about every aspect knitting this shawl. She explains every line of each chart and shows clearly, in a video, how to knit it. There are forums and live chat where you can get together to talk about your progress and any problems you are having. It is really a wonderful learning experience – I think even better than a live class. The reason I think it is even better than a live class is because you can do it at your own pace, you can watch the video on how to knit a row of the chart and then do it yourself. If you have some problems, you can watch the video again. If you need help, you can ask in chat or in the forum. A live knitting class might last a few hours and you could forget a lot of stuff before you ever started on a certain part of the design. With this video class, you will be able to finish the whole shawl in the three weeks the class runs.

In the first week of the class, I’ve finished knitting Lace Chart 1 and am ready to start on Lace Chart 2 for the second week of class. I’ve learned so much about knitting from a chart – it’s fun, it’s logical and it’s much easier to understand than the written out instructions for lace!  Stefanie is a totally charming teacher who explains things so clearly that it is easy to understand.  Hopefully, she will teach more on-line classes soon, this one is really an enjoyable learning experience.

Here are some pictures of my progress, you can click on any of them for a larger view:

Lorna's Laces Green Line Worsted - Fresh

Lorna's Laces Green Line Worsted - Fresh

This is the yarn I used, Lorna’s Laces Green Line Worsted.  It is very nice to work with.  I love the colorway which is called Fresh but think the lace pattern would have shown up better in a solid color.

Starting Lace Chart 1

Starting The Shawl

At the start of the shawl, there is a very clever cast on to make the top look great.

3 Repeats of Chart 1

3 Repeats of Chart 1

Here is the shawl after three repeats of Lace Chart 1.  The multi color yarn does hide the lace pattern a bit but it also hides the couple of mistakes I’ve made!

5 Repeats of Chart 1 - Ready to Start Chart 2

5 Repeats of Chart 1 - Ready to Start Chart 2

The shawl now has five repeats of Lace Chart 1 completed and I’m ready to start with Lace Chart 2.  It is getting very large – it’s on a 47 inch needle and starting to get a bit cramped.

Can’t wait to see how the new lace pattern from Chart 2 will turn out!

Ravelry Meetup In Santa Fe

RavelryButtonRavelry held a Meetup in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the Oodles Yarn and Bead Gallery on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009 and I got to go!  We don’t live really close to Santa Fe – a little over a two hour drive – but my husband said he didn’t mind driving down so I could attend the Meetup and get some shopping done in Santa Fe, as well.  So, we went!  Well, he didn’t attend the Meetup, he hung around Borders Bookstore while I was there.

For those of you who don’t know what Ravelry is – it’s an on-line community for knitters, crochet people, spinners and weavers.

It was so nice meeting Mary Heather and many other Ravelers and putting faces to user names.  There were lots of people there – well over 20.  Everyone had fun visiting, knitting and shopping at Oodles Yarn and Bead Gallery.  It is a very nice Yarn Shop – lots and lots of yarns and cozy areas to sit and knit.  Even though we’ve been in Santa Fe many times, I had never been in this shop before.  It is a narrow but very long store and they have an amazing amount of yarn.

I’m so glad my husband didn’t mind driving down so I could attend the Meetup – it was very enjoyable!

Here are some pictures of the Meetup – you can click on any of them for a larger view.

Mary Heather visited with everyone.

Mary Heather visited with everyone.


Long, narrow yarn shop.

Long, narrow yarn shop.


Having fun.

Having fun.

Everyone enjoyed shopping.

Everyone enjoyed shopping.

Cozy space to knit.

Cozy space to knit.

Afterwards, we got some shopping done at a nice grocery store called Sunflower Farmer’s Market – kind of like Whole Foods but more reasonably priced and so many things available in bulk and very fresh produce.  We shall go back there next time we are in Santa Fe.

We also ate dinner at a nice Italian restaurant called Pranza.  The soup was amazing – you could taste every individual flavor – spinach, cheese and cauliflower. 

Dinner at Pranza's

Dinner at Pranza's

All in all, we had a very fun Saturday road trip to Santa Fe!

Roasted Green Chili

It is the time of year for roasting green chillies, they are very popular in this part of the country (southern Colorado and northern New Mexico).  Every little grocery store has a chili roaster outside and there are people who just set up chili roasting equipment alongside the road to sell the roasted green chili, the local farmer’s markets usually sell them as well.  The smell is wonderful, it is so evocative of the southwest. 

It is amazing how much the chilies shrink after they are roasted – what starts out as a huge burlap bag filled with fresh green chilies comes out of the roaster and fits into a much smaller plastic bag for you to take home.

Just out of the roaster.

Just out of the roaster.

My husband helped me get our batch ready to freeze.  We set them out on paper towels to drain – after roasting, they build up a lot of fluid in the plastic bag they were placed in right out of the roaster.  Then we put 5 or 6 chilies in quart size freezer bags.  I rolled these down tightly and sealed the bag and then placed them in another quart bag and rolled that down tightly as well before placing in the freezer.

Preparing chilies for freezing.

Preparing chilies for freezing.

They thaw quickly when you want to use the frozen chilies.  After thawing, you clean the chili and then chop it up to use on just about anything!  Roasted green chili tastes good with so many things – it is great on top of any sort of meat (kind of like mushrooms on a steak), it tastes wonderful in omelets or scrambled eggs, you can put it in any sort of soup or stew.  It’s also a very tasty topping for burgers or sandwiches of any sort.  Of course, it makes fabulous green chili!  We use a LOT of green chili!

Click on the pictures for a larger view.