Monday, November 30, 2015

Good weather for knitting

With the big snow storm that has hit WY (and we even got mentioned on national news!) the deep snow and icy roads have certainly not kept people from getting out and about, but it has given many a good reason to stay inside, keep a fire going, and just enjoy the first round of winter weather.  I find it a good excuse to cuddle up with a good knitting project! 

When I was in Port Angeles, WA in October, I got to visit a great little knitting shop!  I barely got in the door when I saw a knitting pattern hanging on a display of beautiful yarn.  The name of the pattern is Blue Water Cowl, by Shui Kuen Kozinski.  On the pattern it says, "This cowl is inspired by clear Blue Water."  Well, having been surrounded by water for two weeks, I thought that knitting this cowl  would be a good reminder of the Lighthouse Keeper experience.  I got Kathleen's attention and showed her the pattern and yarn, and she loved it too.  Seriously, when I looked at the pattern, I couldn't imagine how in the world it was knit, but the effect was so cool, I just had to try it.  How tough could it be???  I picked up a skein of yarn for myself, and I told Kathleen (who crochets) that if she bought a skein, I would knit a cowl for her.  She said she would also buy the pattern, and we had a deal.  The pattern had to be purchased from Ravelry, and a link to printing it off was sent to my email, ready to be printed when I got home.  So easy.  This pattern is knit in the round; it starts with casting on 280 stitches with the knitted method. 

At this point I am 2/3 of the way through the pattern.  It is the craziest thing I've ever knit; I can't imagine how the author of this pattern figured out how to make this design!  Seriously! The picture on the pattern looks like it was knit either with a little bit thicker yarn, or with smaller needles than called for in the pattern.  The fabric just looks more dense.  Mine looks a bit more lacy (although you cannot see it in this photo).  At first, I was not sure the more lacy look was going to work, but I think it will be fine.

I feel like I'm getting to the home stretch, and I am much more comfortable with the pattern now.  This is a good thing, because I have another one to make after this one is completed and sent to Florida!!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is a cold, snowy day in Wyoming...our first significant snow storm of the season.  How that contrasts with warm hearts that are full of gratitude and thanksgiving!

The chuckers visited me this morning, all puffed up and beautiful, searching the ground for seeds.  The furry rabbits are out; I saw a couple joyfully chasing each other in the deep snow around the woodpile.  Another contemplative bunny is sitting out in the yard, just watching a light snow filter down around her like powdered sugar from a sifter. I have plenty of firewood at the ready, and am about to start a roaring fire.  I am so thankful for a warm home surrounded by beautiful images from nature.

Yesterday, people were not in a hurry on the icy roads, but were careful and polite and patient.  Doors were opened for me at the post office, and at the grocery store, a lady insisted I get in line ahead of her because I only had two items in hand.  My music students were sweet, and parents all wished me a Happy Thanksgiving.  I am so grateful for all these acts of love; they are all around us!

Today will be a perfect opportunity to stay all tucked inside, pick up my knitting, enjoy the Macy's Day Parade and some football on TV, light some fragrant candles, keep the wood fire going, and enjoy a little turkey dinner. 

 And of course, I'm so grateful for my blogging buddies... Here's wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Holiday dish cloths

I have been enjoying knitting up some holiday dish cloths for a beginning knitting class (3 sessions).  The gals are all knitting like crazy and are finding that they like the circular needles.  It is so fun to see someone learn to knit, enjoy the activity, finish their small projects, and look forward to the next step or skill.  Yes, the new knitters are purling now and not making many mistakes, switching from knitting to purling. 

By the third session, they should be confident enough to try one of these patterns, a reindeer or a bell.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I have not abandoned my knitting...

All the while on the adventure as Lighthouse Keepers, I worked on a pair socks.  I nearly finished the first sock during vacation, but not quite. These are the first pair of men's socks I have knit, and of course, there's extra length in the leg and the foot...knitting on, and on, and on! Since I've been home, working diligently, I have finally finished up the pair...and they are ready for Christmas wrapping!  Whew!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Beautiful cards

Another craft we did one evening at the lighthouse was to make these cards.  I think they are so elegant and beautiful.  Pat showed us how to make them; she brought so many beautiful papers with her from her years of about a stash!

Everybody made at least two cards, some made more.  I can see how this could become another addictive craft!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Drives to see some highlights

After we got back to Port Angeles, Pat was so good to take me (the only one who hadn't been there before) and the other gals on a tour of some of the interesting spots nearby.

I got to see the John Wayne Marina.  In the parking lot area, Kathleen led us to a Geocache, which was really fun to discover!

We also drove west of Port Angeles,  along the coast.

 And stopped at Joyce - the General Store there was most interesting.

We saw the where the dam was taken out so that the Elwha River was restored to its original flow, and the salmon are returning.
Elwha River

We did some shopping in Sequim and in Port Angeles.  Found some mighty fine yarn and a pattern which I'm anxious to get cast on the needles!

Pat took us to see Lake Crescent, which is an awesome place.  The temperate rain forest there is quite an experience to see.  It was nice to have lunch at the Lodge and take a short walk through the rain forest.
Lake Crescent

The fall colors were still beautiful here.

We got to take a ride up to Hurricane Ridge.  It was a cloudy day, but the road took us above the clouds, and we could enjoy the peaks and the cloud-filled valleys.  It's an outstanding view.  We were at the Visitor Center at the end of the afternoon, so the sun was bringing an end to our tour.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Leaving the Spit

Our stay at the New Dungeness Lighthouse came to a close early on Saturday morning, 6:00 am, October 24th.  We spent most of Friday finishing up our outside duties (for me, mowing grass) and cleaning the Keeper's Quarters for the next crew who would be brought out and dropped off as we loaded up to leave.  The reason for such an early morning pick-up was because that was the best of low tide for the trucks to drive out to the end of the spit.

We completely cleaned the house, washed all the linens and towels, and had everything put back together for the new Keepers.  Yes, that meant not sleeping in the beds that night, nor using any towels.  That was a long, uncomfortable night...just sayin'.

We got a phone call about 5:20 am saying the pickups were on their way, so we had about 30 minutes to close up our suitcases, finish packing the food from the refrigerator into our coolers, round up all our garbage from the week, and haul everything out to the road.  The new Keepers (two couples) were quick to unload all their stuff - and they told us this was about their 8th time to spend a week here.

We all wished we could have either arrived or left the lighthouse in daylight, but that didn't happen. Nevertheless, once we were loaded, it was an interesting ride back.  We saw that there was a sea lion that had washed up on shore, and the drivers of the pick-ups were happy to stop, shine their headlights on the sea lion and let us out to take a look at him.

One question that was asked is what happens when there's a week with no one at the Keeper's Quarters.  Amazingly enough, this is such a popular activity, nearly every week in 2016 (except for a few in the winter months) is already booked.  And if there is a week that doesn't get booked, usually two couples associated with the Lighthouse Association volunteer to take that week.  They will start taking bookings for 2017 in December.

It certainly can be a great get-a-way...filled with time to unwind, watch nature, escape stressful routines associated with home and work, and to live in the moment.

Monday, November 16, 2015


We watched a glorious sunset from the top of the lighthouse one evening.  This view is looking back toward the Olympic Peninsula, near Port Angeles.  It's a good view from the end of the spit that extends out 5 miles.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Break into song

As the days went by, we gals found that we got a charge out of breaking into song, when some idea reminded us of a good lyric or refrain from a childhood song, a musical, music of the old west, patriotic pieces, or the pop music we grew up on.  You know how that goes... you remember the refrain...but some of the words in the verses come out "la, la, la."  Sometimes I was so tickled and entertained at how good some were at remembering lyrics from way back "in the day." 

In the upstairs study... a tiny room...I found a great place to compose.

One of our duties while at the lighthouse was to put a daily entry into the lighthouse journal, which was on the buffet in the dining room; several of us took turns doing this task.  It was most interesting to read what other Keepers had written during their week-long stay.  We enjoyed composing some poetry to capture our experience, and we included those pieces in the journal.  Perhaps it was because we were retired teachers that we were willing to take some extra time be inspired - to write - to create - to chose our words carefully.  Several Haiku poems emerged.  Here's one we composed while in a restaurant, waiting to be served:

Lighthouse Ladies

Woven together
Like a treasured tapestry
Friendships old and new


I think I already mentioned that we did not watch a TV show or listen to a radio the whole time we were together.  We all wanted to be in the moment, enjoy the surroundings, listen to nature, listen to each other, listen to the quiet.  So, all our meal times and crafting sessions were filled with stories of our lives.  We learned so much from each other - things that enriched our own experiences. 

Here's a poem I wrote, entitled "AFTER."

After a kaleidoscope of color rises over Dungeness Spit,
After lingering shadows of fog lift above the bay,
After the Stars and Stripes are reverently hoisted atop the pole,
After voices in the Keepers' Kitchen begin to joyfully anticipate the new day,
After six strong women share another of their life stories, their courage, 
their compassion, their bumps in the road, their humor...
They just might break into song, a verse from the past for the moment.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Searching the beach

On another day, I searched the beach for a sea shell or two and some smooth rocks tucked in between all the driftwood. I had fun taking pictures of old pilings, lots of driftwood, a few flowers, and the lighthouse.

Also,  I was introduced to kelp; I'd never seen it growing off shore before or how it ends up in big "ropes" on the beach.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

An afternoon at the beach

We had two days of high tide that kept visitors from walking out on the spit.  One of those days was  sunny and beautiful, and big waves were crashing on the beach.  Donna lured us all down to the north beach to watch the waves.

And it was a good opportunity to see if we could figure out the timers on our phone cameras...and it worked!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Taking care of the grounds and playing

Every day started with raising the flag, opening the lighthouse/museum, and a lovely breakfast.  We had a list of duties that had to be completed while we were there.  Kathleen and I noticed that the windows in the back porch needed cleaning; they looked pretty bad.  Another duty was to wash the curtains downstairs, and of course, there was always watering more of the grass, and watching for visitors.  Once we got started cleaning the windows...we just kept going all the way around the house, until we had cleaned all the windows!  Some places were a little tricky to get close enough with the ladder, but we managed.  The gals who washed the curtains were not particularly surprised when a couple of them shredded  in the washer/dryer  from sun rot.  Oh well.  Time to get new ones.
Front porch of the Keepers' Quarters

One evening I shared a craft that I had brought along for all the gals: dying silk scarves with bits of tissue paper.  (Thanks to Nancy S. who showed several of us knitters how to do this.) It was an easy craft to pack in the suitcase.  The gals were willing to give it a go...although some thought they weren't very creative and worried about the outcome.  But when they saw their finished scarves, they were delighted!!  We had a lot of fun playing with shapes, colors, and discovering the way different shades bled on to the silk.

We completely covered the dining table in saran wrap, and that did the trick for a good workspace. 

They were really pretty hanging out to dry on the clothesline.