The adventures of a knitting grandmother

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She spins, she knits, she blogs about it all.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I'm Such a Lucky Gal

I'm a lucky gal, so very much so lately, and I'm gonna tell you why.

I won a little contest Kathy had about ten days ago. She challenged her readers to guess where she was going to go and knit on a Saturday afternoon, and she only gave one clue. I happened to be the lucky first reader to guess the answer (a Cubs game) and my lovely prize package arrived yesterday. A pretty notecard, a sock pattern, a Halloween pin for the Pumpkinknitter, and this beautiful ball of Regia in creams, greens, and orange, another perfect Pumpkin present. This is the first cotton sock yarn I've gotten, and I'm anxious to try it, especially with how hot it's been here. Thank you, Kathy, you are so generous!

Then this Monday I was totally surprised to become another winner! I was the first prize drawing winner for SYAC. Abigail had offered a copy of the Harlot's new book, Knitting Rules, but she already suspected (correctly) that I had already rushed out to buy it. (Abigail and I share many things in common, including being the Harlot's number one Arizona fans.) So she is sending me Last Minute Knitted Gifts instead. So neat, because I'd seen the book but hadn't taken the plunge yet. Well, see, I was spending the cash on sock yarn and other yarn last month, when I fell totally off the no-sock-yarn wagon while on vacation. And yeah, well, I did finally get Mason-Dixon Knitting, too, since the warshrag thing was getting hard to resist. But since I didn't buy any sock yarn at all for two months of SYAC, I still qualified for the final prize drawing. Woohoo! Abigail's knitalongs are soooo cool, I can't wait to see what she does next. (She's trying to persuade me into that sock cruise thing, too.) Thank you, Abigail, you are just too much fun!

I went through my stash the other day and made a list of all the yarn I now have and the projects I'm planning. It seems that the stash has grown considerably of late; not counting what's on the needles, I have enough yarn for at least 33 separate projects, and 13 of those are socks. Now if only I could figure out how to find more time for projects!

I am so lucky -- Blogger has been cooperating with me lately. You have no idea (well, maybe you do) of what it takes to get a chapter of LittleLace posted. I've had bad luck in the past with photos that won't post and whole drafts lost, as well as having Blogger die on me right in the middle of composing a post. The LittleLace chapters are so long, comparatively speaking, and are so picture heavy, that it becomes a challenge in itself. First I have the text all written out before I get on the computer (just in case Blogger crashes), then I load all the pictures, praying that they all upload successfully. Then I start typing like mad, hoping that my luck holds out. I cut and paste the pictures where they go, and try to proof-read. (Somehow, a mistake or two always slips through.) I preview it numerous times, and then tell it to publish, hoping that all the html is correct. There have been some really tense moments doing this. Once it's posted, I'm worn out -- who would know that blogging -- well, Blogger -- could be so stressful sometimes? But I am so enjoying doing this story, and I am so lucky to have so many readers who leave such enthusiastic comments! Thank you all, you also make me feel so lucky to have you for readers and friends!

Finally, now that Joe has recovered from the new church dedication, he has been practising making puff pastry. He's been doing rather well, too. And what do you do with puff pastry? You split it in half, stuff it with ice cream, and pour on the Sanders milk chocolate topping. Am I lucky, or what??

Monday, June 26, 2006

AL Challenge Three

***The previous chapters may be linked to in the sidebar, under The LittleLace Saga***

Chapter 3

Magda was miserable. She had always been a restless spirit, ever since her birth in the great southwest desert. The endless sky, the endless brown desert, the endless dust and dreariness had grated on her nerves for as long as she could remember. She hated the heat, the dust, the scorpions, and most of all the neverending work. Magda wished for blue oceans, seagulls, cities full of people living lives she could barely imagine. Magda dreamed of railroad tracks, taking her far, far away from the desert. She wanted to travel in a sleek, shiny railroad car, with cut glass and wine in the dining car and freshly pressed sheets in the sleeper. That was the way to travel. Not in a dirty, creaking covered wagon that was unbearably hot during the day and full of bugs at night.

For a while, once they had arrived at the Canyon, Magda had found her restlessness diminishing. There were many things to see there. She was fascinated by all the travellers gawking at the canyon's rim. They came and went on a daily basis, just making another stop in their busy, mysterious lives. Magda couldn't stop herself from staring. Their clothes, their fine leather shoes and luggage, their jewelry, their money, all drew her like a magnet. Magda knew that she should be helping Momma and Poppa; she knew that she was being tremendously unfair to Moira, but she could not help herself. It was all just too fascinating for her. She had finally been content, in a way, happy to be a part of the ebb and flow of a bustling, busy little village, as it were. Content to spend her days where she was, her dreams of railroad tracks fading into memory...until yesterday.

Yesterday morning, Momma had taken her and Moira out for a walk on the rim. The air was clear and cool in the early morning, and Magda had been thoroughly enjoying herself, when Momma spoke the fateful words. "You are going to start working tomorrow."

What??!! Magda had been more shocked than angry. Momma explained that since Moira was doing all the housework and childcare, that it was now appropriate for Magda to go to work. Where?! Magda demanded to know. El Tovar, her mother replied. And doing what? Working in the cellar, Momma said. Washing dishes and laundry and polishing silver.

Magda was beside herself. How could she possibly mingle with all the tourists if she were going to be stuck all day in a cellar? Momma was firm. It's necessary, she said. Your Poppa agrees. It's really for your own good.

And so Magda had gone to work today. All day. The cellars had been hot and damp. And sweat had trickled down her neck all day. She had polished silver sugar bowls and washed out china chamber pots. She had ironed bedsheets until her shoulders ached. It had been the most miserable day of her life.

Late in the afternoon she was sent outside to pump water for the dinner washing. Oh, how refreshing it seemed to be out in the air, the light wind tossing her ruffles, cooling her brow. All around her she could see the tourists walking on the paths. Soon they would all be going into the hotels to enjoy the evening meal, with cut glass and stiff napkins and cool wine. Whereas she, Magda, would go back into the cellar and the heat--

All at once Magda couldn't stand it any longer. She could not, would not, work for one minute longer. She left the bucket of water sitting by the pump and marched around the building, up the front steps of El Tovar. She had every intention of going to find her mother and tell her that there was no way that she, Magda, could bear this even another moment, when she heard loud laughter coming from the area of the saloon. She paused and looked in. Several men were there, drinking and playing cards. She had seen them the day before. Now one of them leaned back in his chair and happened to catch her eye. He smiled at her for a moment, and then, to Magda's surprise, began to sing.

"There once was a night in the month of May,
A night when the sea was still.
I took myself walking down by the bay,
While the city slept on the hill.

I saw a fair maiden there on the sand.
She stood like a nymph of old.
Lace on her shouolders, lace in her hand,
Her hair fell like cables of gold."

Magda was spellbound. The other men at the table joined in on the chorus.

"Oh, my lace is as warm as new honey,
My lace is as sweet as the sea.
She's a wicked and wild
Most alluring child,
And I'll keep all her kisses for me."

Magda stared as the stranger began the second verse. She had never seen anyone like him before. His suit was dark and finely tailored; his vest a riot of color. His face was tanned, his brown hair thick and wavy. He was flashy, flambouyant, and utterly mesmerizing.

"She turned her fair head and saw me,
Her dark lacey eyelets did gleam,
Just like a raven, noble and free,
A creature born out of a dream.

From me she turned, and ran along the shore,
Lace billowing dark in the night,
Whipped about by the ocean's roar
Her beruffled spirit took flight."

Despite herself Magda stepped closer. The mysterious stranger covertly watched her as his companions again joined in the chorus.

"Oh, my lace is as warm as new honey,
My lace is as sweet as the sea,
She's a wicked and wild
Mischevious child,
And I'll keep all her kisses for me."

The stranger smiled to himself as he sang.

"I tried to catch her, that lace so fair.
She turned, and stood so still,
I took her hands and kissed her there.
"Would you my dreams all fulfil?'

I took her, brother, for my bride,
And forever more she'll stand
Within my heart and by my side,
In our house upon the sand."

Now everyone in the saloon was singing the chorus. The room seemed to shake with their voices.

"Oh, my lace is as warm as new honey,
My lace is as sweet as the sea."

Magda was shaking. The mysterious stranger was looking right at her, his eyes boring into her.

"She's a wicked and wild
Most bewitching child,
And I'll keep all her kisses for me."

Magda gasped and ran out onto the porch. Thank goodness it was deserted. She dropped into a chair, trying to calm her racing heartbeat. Breathe, breathe, she told herself. She began to stop shaking. Then she heard it.

"My Magda's as warm as new honey."

She jerked around the chair. He was there, the mysterious stranger. Softly singing to her.

How did he know her name?

The stranger smiled.

Suddenly, Magda smiled, too.

An hour later, in the deepening dusk, two figures climbed aboard the last train of the day, just as it pulled out of the station.

"My Magda's as warm as new honey,
My Magda's as sweet as the sea.
She's a wicked and wild
Disobedient child,
And I'll keep all her kisses for me."

Sunday, June 25, 2006

I Need a Good Case of Finish-itis

Anybody got a spare case that they could sell me?

I've come to the reluctant conclusion that I've got too much on the needles. Too much. Too many. And I keep rotating, but nothing seems to make much visible progress. It's the result, I'm sure, of too much start-itis and not enough finish-itis. So this week I abandoned everything else and focused on finishing the Jaywalkers. And despite work and overtime and all that time-killing other stuff, I did.

So now what? I'm going to focus on finishing up the rest of the projects on the needles. I've got so many projects in mind, and the yarn for a good deal of them, that I'm being tempted beyond belief to start a bunch of other things, but I'm not going to do it. At least not yet. I've started focusing on finishing the Simple Lace Scarf ("Moira LittleLace") because she's been on the needles the longest. Hence her designation as the oldest daughter. Once she is done, then it will be the Lacy Kerchief Scarf ("Magda LittleLace"), and so on. We'll see how long I can resist temptation.

The most abandoned project right now is the Harebell Lace Sock. There's a simple reason for that. The gauge is so fine that I can only do a few rows before my eyes get tired and I have to switch to something bigger. Nowadays, everything is bigger than these Size 00 needles. But I don't want to do this sock any differently. It's working up so far the way I want it to, so I guess it will just take a while to get them done.

I'm still tying myself up in knots working on the poem for the current Amazing Lace challenge. It doesn't seem that there are many entries at this point in time; maybe everyone else is having the same difficulty. It's been years since I wrote any -- actually, I haven't done any since I've been out of school, and that's been a few eons. I wrote a quick poem for Roxie last week, but this Amazing Lace thing requires more effort, it seems.

Poetry and Harebell Lace. Both of them, slow but sure.


Jaywalker Socks
Pattern by Grumperina
Yarn: KnitPicks Sock Memories in Spring Prairie
Susan Bates Size 1, 5 DPNs

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Looong Overdue

A long time ago -- well, actually, just before I went on vacation -- I got an email from a lovely lady named Roxie, a knitter and soon to be published writer who had found my blog via The Sisterhood of the Travelling Stash. She wrote to tell me about some laceweight yarn she had that was tired of languishing in Oregon and really wanted to come and live in Arizona. I thought that this was very kind of her to tell me about this yarn that was so discontented in Oregon, but I had a hard time believing that the yarn really wanted to come to Arizona. I mean, it's really hot here and all that stuff. But I wrote back to her and said that if the yarn was really all that determined, I would certainly try to provide it with a good home.

So what should show up while I was away? A surprisingly large box containing more goodies than I could almost comprehend. This lovely lady had sent me oodles of laceweight to delve into. Laceweight that she had just sitting around and wasn't going to be using and that she wanted to give to this laceweight-deprived blogger.

There's four skeins (600 yards total) of a white cotton/rayon blend fingering weight. A bolt of lavender handwoven linsey-woolsey, about 12" wide and in the neighborhood of 8 yards long. There are 14 balls of silk yarn; SILK! One ball is navy blue, 240 yards; 2 balls are a bright green, 100 yards each; and 11 balls are a dark green, 100 yards each. The yarn makes me think of a boucle; the yarn is from Belding Corticelli and seems to be fingering weight.

There were six cones of laceweight. The two on the left are a cream colored wool, cobweb weight as best as I can tell. The next one is a cream laceweight 50/50 wool/angora. The fourth from the left is a big cone of Italian wool/mohair that is extremely fine. It is definitely a cobweb weight. The last two cones on the right are a wool/poly blend boucle in ecru.

And the most gorgeous hank of laceweight I could possibly imagine! The camera doesn't do justice to the lovely pastels here, all the colors of the desert and then some. I estimate that there's about a thousand yards here, and I'm already dreaming about shawl patterns for this.

Roxie, you know that I can't ever begin to thank you enough for all this. Had I not been out of blogging range, I would have posted this a few weeks ago. But then, I wouldn't have been able to post the fact that you now have your own blog started up and running. So now everyone, stop over and say Hi to Roxie and welcome her to blogland. She's going to be a great addition to the knitnet.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Now that I have survived re-entry, back from vacation and into reality, having climbed Mt Laundry and survived Dust Valley, we are returning to normal blogging mode. Re-entry was somewhat complicated by physical shock -- going from the 70's in New Hampshire to the upper 90's in Arizona, after a 20 some hour travel day. I do well in the mornings here now but by early afternoon the heat factor is kicking in and I have to go off and wilt somewhere, despite air conditioning and swamp coolers and lots of Diet Coke and sparkling water. Then we had the dedication of our new church. The old one was outgrown a few years ago and the new one was finally built and ready for the dedication. We got home from NH late Wednesday evening, and at seven the next morning Joe was at the church. He didn't come home except for showers and a few hours sleep until last night. We were taking him meals and changes of clothing to the church. I got caught up in the choir rehearsals, hours of standing in the heat and dust, which contributed to more wilting. But the dedication Mass went off beautifully yesterday afternoon despite the heat. A fine dinner was served after the Mass and then there was a concert in the new church; we skipped the concert, since cleanup was still going on and we probably would have fallen asleep during it anyways.

Michael took many pictures for us of the service. This is one of the best ones he took of his dad at the altar.

I would like to once again thank everyone who left comments on "LittleLace of the Desert" and especially to all those who voted for me. I was very flattered by it all and have sent my congratulations to those who did end up in the top three. It has been my challenge to myself to write a Serial Adventure, to make it entertaining and to incorporate whatever the current challenge is. Chapter Three has already been written, but now I see that I shall have to get some poetry into the story. Sneak preview: The next chapter will feature Magda, the vain second child of the LittleLace family. I got a lovely comment on Challenge #1 from "Magda's" creator, Lisa Daehlin, whose pattern for the Lacy Kerchief Scarf in IK Summer '05 successfully auditioned for and won the role of Magda.

The socks have certainly done their share of traveling, lately. Here the Trekking sock is checking out the candlepin lanes in Boston. This was a first for us (except for the Bostonian members of the group) and was a lot of fun. Amazing, though, how much more expensive it has gotten to spend a few hours bowling!

Here's the sock checking out the Boston subway, the T. Some of the other members of the party indulged in the infamous "T Surfing", but the sock, with all those pointy needles, politely chose to decline. We had gotten rain off and on the whole time we had been in Boston, but this evening (Saturday) the sky finally started to clear. We walked through the market, smelling all the fish and strawberries, and went to Mass at one of the north end churches. Then we went to Piccola Venezia on Hanover Street for dinner. We were lucky to get a table for eight without waiting. Marvelous Italian food (pasta with mussels, clams, shrimp, and calamari). Then we went across the street to our favorite bakery in all the US, Mike's Bakery, where we fought our way through the crowds to get cannoli, chocolate mousse, chocolate-covered strawberries, german chocolate brownies, and pizelles.

On Sunday we headed up to New Hampshire, a state I had not visited before. More on NH another time, suffice it to say for now that I am ready to go back anytime.

The Jaywalker and the Trek sock agree.

Friday, June 16, 2006

LittleLace of the Desert

Chapter Two

At first, Momma LittleLace was very happy to be back at the Grand Canyon. It had been a number of years since she had last seen it, and there were a lot more tourists now than back in the old days, but after all was said and done, it really was like coming back home.

Momma and Poppa LittleLace had met at the Canyon. Momma had made her way out there to work as a Harvey Girl. She had been pretty young at the time, but had learned her job quickly. She had lived in a small house with several other girls, all of whom were busy husband-hunting. Momma was not sure she was interested in any of the young men working there, and she certainly wasn't interested in any of the adventurous types passing through on their way west.

Then she met Poppa. She saw him for the first time early one morning, feeding the mules that were taking the tourists into the Canyon. Talll, slender, dark-haired and handsome, he had come out West to find his fortune. Momma began to walk to work each day by the mule corrals. It wasn't long before Poppa noticed her, too, and soon they were spending all their evenings together, sitting out on the rim, watching the sun go down. Not too many months later, they boarded the train one early September morning and rode in to Williams, where they found a preacher and got married.

But that had been a long time ago. Now, however, the difficult years of trying to make a home in the southern Arizona desert seemed to fade away as Momma looked out over the Canyon again. She had come back to find that a number of her old friends were still working in the hotels on the rim, and they quickly made a place for her at the El Tovar. Momma was quite happy to spend her days showing the tourists the large collection of Indian jewelry that the hotel had for sale.

And Poppa? It took a bit longer, but soon he was working as a sales clerk in one of the many shops that were springing up along the canyon's edge. The days were long, but they both were busy working now, and the necessities of life were no longer a matter for worry in the middle of the night.

Then why was Momma now finding herself concerned? Not for where the next meal was coming from, but for what each day might now hold in store for her girls. Moira was spending her days as she always did, caring for the little cabin that they had found to live in, preparing the meals for the family, and watching over Megan and Baby Lace. Baby Lace was still fragile, and growing very slowly. Momma knew that without Moira, life at the Canyon with both her and Poppa working, would not be possible. Yet Momma was concerned that Moira didn't seem at all interested in finding any friends of her own age. Especially any young male friends. Moira was getting to that age where she really ought to be thinking about her own future, and who she would be spending it with. But no young men sought out Moira to walking with them to see the sunset.

Magda, however, was another story. She had never helped out much, and now at the Canyon she was seldom to be found at their cabin. Momma had noticed how many of the men who traveled through the hotels would glance at Magda as she passed by. This made Momma nervous, and she had quietly talked to Poppa about this last night. They had both decided that it would be best to get Magda a job in El Tovar or one of the other hotels, working all day someplace where she would not be out much in the public eye. Momma would talk to some of her friends later today, and see what could be done.

Momma did not have to be at work for another hour yet. She took Megan with her and went out to sit on the rim. The Canyon was still cool in the early morning. The birds were singing, and lizards scurried in the rocks. The sight of the Canyon, as always, brought a momentary peace to Momma's worried thoughts. Megan sat in her lap and cuddled her quilt. Momma had no worries about Megan. She stroked Megan's soft, wispy hair. The worries would come back, all too quickly, but for this moment all was well with the world.

***Author's Note***

As part of the Challenge of writing a Serial Adventure, the staff of The Amazing Lace has seen fit to request a photo depicting "Extreme Knitting", as if Momma LittleLace would be so irresponsible as to run off and dangle one of her children over the edge of the precipice. However, I propose to you, dear reader, that the photo of Momma and Megan at the Canyon's Edge reveals an extremity that most of you cannot imagine. Picture yourself, if you would, at one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, in June, dressed in an outlandish costume, making yourself finger-pointing, photo-taking fodder for flocks of friendly foreigners who are also present that day.

As if that were not enough, find yourself a local child who is willing to accompany you and take pictures of said outlandishly-dressed individual. Said child having disguised herself with a large sweatshirt and even larger hat, hoping that no one she knows has chosen to visit the Canyon today.

'Nuff said, dear reader.

Monday, June 12, 2006

In The Woods

Just a quick post to everyone --

We're way up to heck and gone in northern New Hampshire. The only way I can get the internet is through Joe's cell phone, and it is so slow, it sucks up the minutes the way the gas station sucks up my paycheck. But I wanted to thank the Academy for selecting me as one of the first finalists in the Amazing Lace -- I'm tremendously flattered and excited by it and I can't connect to see how the voting is going!! When I get back home later this week, I'll respond to all the comments and emails and get back to Bloglines, but for now thank you everyone for all the kind comments on the LittleLaces and everything else.

We're having a terrific time up here and I will have lots to post about later on. Hope everyone of you is doing well and having fun, too.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Socks, They Do A'Travelling Go

It's pouring in Boston this fine Saturday morning, so I'm taking the time to download all my digital pictures to the computer and to update everyone on our continuing travels. Actually, we haven't seen the sun since we arrived on Wednesday, but according to the weather service, we should start drying out tomorrow.

On Thursday we went to Groton, New London, and Mystic on the coast. The Trekking sock was quite pleased to have its picture taken at the beach, being overcome by all the rain and water after it's birth in the desert. Everyone else in the party was also overcome by all the water, although we were fortunate to only encounter minor sprinkles that day.

Lunch was at the famous "Mytic Pizza", a movie I have heard of but never seen. In fact, none of us in the family has seen it, so I imagine we will have to rectify that situation one of these days.

Whatever the merits (or lack of) there may be in the movie, the food here was excellent. The pizza was among the best and the fried calamari was the best I have ever had.

Yesterday we went to the Boston Museum of Science. Such places are always fascinating, and good for several hours of entertainment. We also finally went out to see Wellesley, DIL's Alma Mater. What a beautiful, beautiful campus. My pictures do not do it justice. I think that if I had gone to school here, I would never have left.

Also for you Harry Potter fans, note carefully the doorway and what's written inside it.

Now, if only the rain would hurry up and stop.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Didja See It on the News?

My folks in Michigan did.

We came back home from the Canyon on Monday to unpack the trailer and repack for our trip to Boston/Providence. On Tuesday afternoon we drove up to Phoenix to spend the night with Joe's mom. Just north of Tucson we drove into a massive rainstorm. There was so much rain, the desert looked like a lake with the cactus sticking up out of it. There were WAVES of water on the highway. I had been knitting on the Trekking Sock but got way too nervous to continue with it. Annie was driving and had a heck of a time trying to see the lane markers on the road. This went on for miles. Finally it looked like the sky was clearing. We came out of the rain, only to head right into this huge dust storm. Visibility was next to nothing in spots. It was the worst weather we have ever driven through. Finally we came out of it about 30 miles south of Phoenix. We were able to get back up to full speed on the highway, but the storm was literally chasing us. These pictures I took don't even begin to tell how scary it was. We got to Nana's house and pulled into the garage, quickly unpacked the car and closed everything up with about five minutes to spare before the storm finally caught us again. At least this time we were safely in the house. Apparently this was a real record-breaker of a dust storm. We were unquestionably lucky to come through it okay.

Tonight we are in Providence. It's been raining here, but I think the chances of another dust storm are pretty slim. It's a fairly long flight from Phoenix to Providence. I got a little wild and crazy and brought some Peaches and Cream yarn and worked on a warshrag. Perfect plane knitting. And I think my nerves have finally recovered, although I can still see that huge wall of dust chasing us.

Move to Arizona, anyone?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Morning on the Rim

It's six a.m. on Friday morning. We had planned to take a hike of several miles down into the canyon today, but two things are preventing this. First, the temperature in the canyon today will be well over a hundred degrees, which makes our climb back out in the sun a prohibitively dangerous proposition. Second, I have developed some severe dry skin on my heels, which has split open into numerous little cuts. I can't put regular shoes on, much less hiking shoes. I can see already that I will be spending the day rubbing aloe lotion into my heels and doing a bunch of knitting in whatever shade I can find. But for now, I'm walking out to the rim of the canyon.

The rim at Mather Point is just under three quarters of a mile from the campground. By the way, the campground at GC, at least the RV portion, is one of the best we've ever stayed at. Clean, quiet, well-maintained, and very inexpensive ($22.00 a night), with a bank, post office, and large well stocked grocery nearby. I've been doing a three-mile plus hike along the rim every day since we have been here, either in the evening or early in the morning. I walk from the campground to Mather Point and then either in to the Village with it's lodges and shops, from which I take a shuttle bus (free) back to the campground, or else I walk the rim until the trail leads in to the park headquarters, from which it is easy to finish the loop back to the campground on foot. But this morning I'm only going to walk to the rim and back. My feet hurt too much right now for anything else.

There's no one out at the rim this early. At least, at the point I'm at. I have a beautiful view heading east up the canyon into the sunrise. The sun hasn't been up an hour yet and the canyon is silent, with only a light breeze stirring the air and the trees. Two lizards share my lookout with me. They sit on the rocks and sun themselves, no doubt warming up after the cool night temperatures. Later, this quiet point will be swarming with tourists. They come in by the bus load and the train load, all anxious for a couple hours to peek over the rim, take numerous pictures, and run into the gift shops to purchase their souvenirs. Then they leave again, and by five o'clock in the evening, the rim is quiet and peaceful again. I know that for many people, this is the only chance and the only way they have to see the canyon, yet they miss so much. The deep shadows of early morning or evening, when the native animals come out of hiding; the pervading silence of the canyon, the sun on the red rocks creating a thousand shades of reds, browns, and purples. It's time to be quiet with oneself, and let oneself sink into the depths of contemplation. The lizards and I are content to be where we are. We are one with the canyon.

Before I know it, it's eight o'clock. The first tour bus pulls up and disgorges it's load. A loud, really harsh voice booms out. Obviously it is that of the tour guide's. A mob of eager tourists, cameras at hand, rushes for the rim. They spread out and soon all one can hear is the clicking of shutters and the overwhelming voice of the tour guide, who seems bent on having his voice carry all the way across the canyon. I look down. The lizards have left. It's time for me to leave as well, and pick my slow way back to the campground. The morning meditation is over. But this evening, when my feet have somewhat recovered, I will walk the rim again, and regain the quiet contemplation of the morning.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Bright Angel

Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon -- my birthday hike below the rim, as planned. (Okay, it was the 31st.) The weather had turned hotter, so Joe and I began going down the trail at 4:30 in the afternoon, after the sun was lower in the sky and a good portion of the trail was in the shade.

The trail follows a fault line that cuts across the canyon. You can pick out the trail in the picture on the right. You can also see how the farther-away side of the canyon is higher than the closer side on the left. This is due to the difference in elevation on either side of the fault line.

We did not go down too far on the trail since we did not want to get caught still out after it turned dark. I think we went about two and a quarter miles down. The trail cuts through this steep escarpment, solid red stone walls. It is impossible for the camera to capture the sheer immensity of these rock walls. Evening is a good time for a short hike in the canyon. The shadows get long and create a lot of depth in the canyon. Very few people take advantage of the cooler temperatures, and so we pretty much had the trail to ourselves. We have been visiting and hiking the canyon for several years now. I learned to hike in the canyon. Most people find it a challenge to hike DOWN first and then go back UP. For me this is the natural way to do it. We have learned by hard experience how to avoid heat cramps and heat exhaustion and dehydration. These can ruin a hike - and a vacation - in no time at all.

Of course, this year I had to do something I haven't done before.

Here I am taking a break before we head back up the trail. This is the beginning of the Trekking Socks. Joe agreed to take the picture since no one else was around to see. I don't suppose many socks get knit while in the canyon. It was also about the only project that would fit in my small pack. You can see the trail below me on the right. The green area down in the middle of the canyon is Indian Gardens, a favorite stopping place of ours. We did not get there this time since the weather turned extremely hot (over 100 degrees in the canyon) and I had some foot problems. (The brace on my knee helps with chronic tendonitis and possibly some arthritis.)

Despite the heat we did get in some nice hikes. Wish it had stayed cooler, though.

Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday. I've got a zillion bloglines to catch up on as well as laundry and repacking for our trip out East on Wednesday. When I get the chance, I'll post about the yarn I bought in Flagstaff and the lovely "surprise" box that was waiting when I got back home earlier today.