More skygazing

I didn’t make quite as much progress on the quilt as I was hoping (10 strips out of 21), but it was still an neat evening, thanks to the eclipse. Kevin got out his tripod and new fancy lens, and got some amazing photos. (He was up anyway, working on his final project for the game development certificate he’s been working on at UW for the past year.)

Here’s the sequence between 1:42 am and 3:00 am:

Neat, huh? Click on the images for the big versions — I was so impressed at the detail that he managed.

And here are the bits of sky transition squares, in the morning sunlight:

I’m feeling very hopeful that these are going to end up working out. My vision is still a bit hazy, and this example photo isn’t perfect, but I want that late-afternoon golden look that just makes the lake shine out and the mountains pop:

Finally, something for the blog

There’s so much going on here (hint: a house!), but I’m feeling leery about jinxing it and a bit reticent about posting all of the details for the world to see, so blogging has suffered. If we get past the inspection details, and financing, then I’ll definitely start posting more frequently (endlessly?) about choosing appliances and little home projects. But as much as I’ve been scheming, I’m trying not to be too public just yet, lest it all disappears.

So, between THAT excitement, and a big crunch at work, and a secret gift knitting project, I’ve had nothing particularly bloggable. Kevin’s been taking a game development certificate at UW for the last year (it ends tomorrow night), and had a ton of work left for his final project, and I was feeling overwhelmed with too many new concepts and half-way-along research (insulation, and slabjacking, and kitchen renovations, and energy efficient appliances, and curtains, and garage storage systems, and carpet, and utility sinks to name about a tenth of the topics I keep getting waylaid by). So, I decided to take the day and make progress on the quilt.

As you may remember, I had almost finished the near-shore land, and the lake (4 squares remain of 32), when I realized that I’d made all 28 squares of my yellow and blue sky four strips too small.

Since I’d sewn the squares together already, I not only needed to add the extra strips, but first had to rip out all of the seams holding the squares together. And since these were my first squares, and my piecing was pretty wobbly, most of them were a fair bit under 5”x5”, so I’d actually put multiple seams between squares in hopes that it would make the quilt less rippable. So, yesterday, away I went with the seam ripper:

I’d finished the blue and was really getting going with the yellow, when I realized that I’ve never liked that blue to yellow transition, nor the two half-blocks sewn together, and so I should take this as an opportunity to fix things. So, I started eight yellow squares from scratch:

And before I knew it, the daylight was almost gone (especially now that the sun is setting at 8 pm! So sad.), and I had eight full yellow squares. I spent the rest of the evening working on the 16 blue squares – even with only one round left, all of that matching and sewing and pressing eats up time. But now I’m so happy with it.

The best part is that the yellow is so much smoother now. The first version, with its half squares, didn’t allow for long vertical strips, and so the long horizontal strips got lost in the busyness.
I also have a new plan for the yellow-to-blue transition. Hopefully it will work, and I can show you in a few days. (You can see the beginnings of blue encroaching in half of the yellow squares…)

Longest Post Ever: the Wyoming Roadtrip

Oops! It’s been almost a week since we got back from Wyoming, and still no post about it! We took a LOT of pictures, and even once we pared the keepers down to 101, that’s still too many for a blog post. So, the full flickr set is here, and here are some of the highlights:

It’s about a fifteen hour drive to Jackson, and people had early evening activities on Thursday. We decided to drive out to Spokane (about 5 hours) on Thursday night. The boys had too much fun gearing the walkietalkies to the same channel, and then we were on our way. The stars were amazing once we got out past the Cascades. Perfect Milky Way views out the passenger window of the mustang.

The next morning, we drove across the top of Idaho on I-90, past Coeur d’Alene, endless crossings of the Clark Fork, a ton of old silver mining towns, and a log truck that had spilled its cargo all across the highway. The views were gorgeous, but some of the winding mountain roads were daunting.

Once in Montana, we split off down I-15 just before Butte, which crosses back into Idaho, where we turned onto a series of smaller state routes to get through Targhee National Forest and into Wyoming.

It amazed me how much of the trip consisted of highway winding along next to the river and the railway line. Put the small farms in, with the hills rising to mountain ranges on either side, and the image solidifies.

(click here for the similar shot with me in the frame… Not worth its own post, but certainly representative of the non-knitting passenger activities of the drive.)

There were forest fires all along the route that roiled the clouds and turned the sky rose-purple. Those dark clouds against the blond wheat and blue mountains were sensational.

The Idaho-Montana-Idaho portion of the drive was a treat to me. Can you even imagine living with those colors on a daily basis? The photos aren’t saturated enough — the real-life view is deeply vibrant. Growing up, I always found Massachusetts beautiful. And then when I moved to Seattle, I couldn’t get over how green it was. (And *how many* greens it was.) This was a color explosion to the next level.

In Wyoming, once we made it over that huge pass, we stayed at one of Kevin’s coworker’s parents’ house. We saw the Secret Service in their SUVs. (Cheney was just down the road — in town for the opening of a new welcome center in Grand Teton National Park.) Steve’s mom is a quilter, and a knitter, so we had a lot to talk about and I learned a lot.

On Saturday, we went to the southern portion of Grand Teton National park and walked along the Snake river for a few hours. The mountains were amazing –they inspire such wonder at was required to raise them.

After we walked a good ways along the river, the trail petered out and we started just exploring. The signs of buffalo were everywhere — a fact I found quite thrilling although we didn’t see any in person.

We found another three kinds of animal droppings, which was neat, and Kevin came across a splinter of a LARGE bone.

I know that Montana is supposed to be the Big Sky headquarters, but this wasn’t far off.

One of my favourite parts of that walk was that there were lots of duck families on the river — always a treat. Also, in the next picture, you can see the layering of mountains — the ridges cascaded away in succession — so lovely.

Here’s one last photo of the day, with me changing out of hiking boots in Kevin’s car.

We went to a rodeo, which I’ll spare you the photos of — you can tell that I’ve been raised in the suburbs, since I found all the chasing of calves alarming and depressing.

I’m not a dying yarn person, but don’t these colors make you want to DO something?

This was on a 5 mile hike we did on Sunday. Better yet, there was a bold little chipmunk chirping at me while I was taking this photo, and a zillion grasshoppers (or similar??) flying around clicking with their yellow wings.

The ride home was a bit long — we did all 15 hours in one day, but I don’t really recommend the 84 route through Oregon — it’s straight and not as interesting as we were hoping. We had books on tape and the iPod, which helped, but it wasn’t the sort of driving where you wonder what will be around the next turn. We were sort of amazed how congested traffic became as we crossed the midline of Washington — not because there was so many cars, but because people stopped honoring the passing lane concept and just cruised along in their favourite lane at 55, regardless. At least the Cascades were gorgeous in twilight. We made it back by about 8:30.

Fish tank fun

The “Gramma Rock”, so named because the gramma used to live inside it, has always been a bit of our nemesis. In addition to housing our first zoos and lots of coralline algae, it’s also been host to the annoying green fan algae and the alarming red algae. not to mention bubble algae and aiptasia. When both the green and red algae started reproducing on the same day, it seemed time for drastic measures.

We’d talked about pulling it out a year ago, but decided that the gramma would never forgive us. And then we stalled a bit, in his memory. But, with the red algae making a nasty comeback, and the ongoing dominance of the green, when I raised the subject a week ago Kevin was very enthusiastic about pulling the rock out.

Here’s the tank before it went:

(The gramma rock is the huge lump in the right third of the tank.)

Kevin documented the removal. Here’s the tank with the lights off, and me with a towel prepping to remove the huge rock. (Like the Seafair tan?? :-))

Here is the tank under the blue lights, all murky from the sediment raised from under the rock:

The rock removal left a big sand bed, and let us move the unhappy torch coral out of the corner and into the current and light. The torch coral looks so happy. And a bonus: the clowns are venturing further right in the tank. Nice!

We’ve put the rock in fresh water in the quarantine tank in the bathroom to re-cure (i.e. lose all of the negative life-forms). I had a momentary lapse, since that also meant losing the zoos (purple and orange), and about a zillion starfish and snails, but Kevin was adamant (and correct) that it was for the greater good of the tank.
We were intrigued to find a crab about 2″ across after the second day. We’d spied him a handful of times, when we watched the tank by flashlight well after midnight, but it’s good that he’s now away from the coral. As for the experience of letting rock rot, I wish that there was a way of blogging smells, but for all of your sakes, it’s probably just as well that there isn’t. Picture every bit of loveliness that the phrase “low tide” dredges up. Luckily, it isn’t our turn for a Brown Dinner anytime soon. Here’s the sanitized version of the rock, pre-water and pumps:

We have no idea whether the rock will become part of a new, better system (contingent on buying a house), or just be an exercise in letting go. I think it’s quite pretty and hope to keep it. We’ll see!

Bag of awesomeness.

We’re leaving for a road trip in about a minute, but before we go, look at my awesome bag!

The pocket on the left is all of my normal purse stuff, the middle holds 5 possible knitting projects, and the pocket on the right holds just my current things. Wow! Plus all of the little zippered and snapped compartments your heart could desire.

And even better, here it is closed next to my 6″x8″ cutting mat for size reference! Neat!

Alright, off to Wyoming!! We’ll take pictures!

Handmade, for us.

Lynn, of Scott and Lynn (the same long-time family friends who invited us to the Red Sox game!), made us a wedding quilt. It’s truly gorgeous.

Here it is on the futon: the colors couldn’t be prettier or richer, and it just glows there. I can’t wait until it gets greyer (not something I say often), because if it looks this cheering in August, it will be cozy and amazing in December.

Here’s the back:

I love that stripe of color.

And the front:

And a medley so that you can see some of the fabrics close up, not to mention the quilting!

Isn’t she talented? I can’t even imagine how much work this was — it’s gorgeous.

Red Sox in Seattle!!

We were invited to go see the Red Sox vs. Mariners game on Sunday, by friends of my parents that live in the area. The game was amazing, and the seats could not have been better. We were front row, right behind the Red Sox bullpen. On the whole, I’m not a particularly star-struck person, but it was a thrill to keep seeing all those faces from 8 feet away.

The game was neat. In addition to gorgeous sunshine and all of the Blue Angels flying around for Seafair, the Red Sox were just ON. 9-2!, Manny had a home run, Ortiz stole second base, there were several amazing layout catches, and the Mariners moose ran over Coco Crisp with an ATV.

varitek was having trouble hitting, but he just kept battling all game. He’s so serious and professional. His last at-bat was a long series of fly balls. He didn’t end up getting on base, but you had to admire his perseverce.

Kevin got a great shot of Ortiz clocking it.

He was probably the most fun to see in person and close up. When he was warming up before going up to bat, it was just incredible to see how powerful a person he is. You just don’t get that from TV. (Plus there was a pretty major contingent of little kids all obsessed with “Big Papi”. Good to see that these west coasters are raising their children right. :-P)

Here are Ortiz and Crisp congratulating Manny on his homer:

.. and mirabelli yelling at the moose after he clipped Coco Crisp. The bench was really upset.

And it was fun to see Beckett pitch such a great game. Here he is coming off in the 8th.

Baseball games don’t get much better than that.