One of my favorite places ever

After I left the Brown Sheep outlet store, I headed north into the Black Hills. I love the Black Hills. Prior to 1991, I had never been there. But that summer, I worked for the Forest Service out of the Harney Ranger District in Hill City, South Dakota, marking timber and fighting forest fires. (Wow, the building I worked out of isn’t in use anymore and is now for sale!)

When I had time off, I explored. One of my very favorite hikes was through the miniscule Black Elk Wilderness up to Harney Peak. I have no idea how many times I hiked those trails that summer!

Ready to go? If you enlarge this picture and look at the skyline in the center, you’ll see a wee bump. That’s my destination.

I made sure to fill out my wilderness registration card, just in case!

Whew! Almost to the top, although I swear the last steps up are the hardest of all.

It might surprise you to learn that at 7247 feet (2207 meters) Harney Peak is the tallest point between the Pyrenees and the Rockies!

The views are best on a clear day, but they weren’t too shabby even on this cloudy one.

Unfortunately, the clouds really started to rush in then, so I booked on down the trail, lickity split! I got pretty wet that last mile or two – fortunately, I wasn’t wearing cotton, so I dried off very quickly once I got in the car and out of the rain. As I headed down to civilization, the storm got completely crazy and I pulled off to wait it out.

This is what a hailstorm looks like from inside my car:

“Whoa, Mom, that’s making me dizzy!” -Chaos

Serpentine Mayhem

Lisa moved her blog to her own domain and is having a contest to celebrate! Leave her a comment by 5 pm EDT, August 5, to be entered and possibly win a gorgeous fibery prize.

Thanks to Janna for the heads up on this silly “test”: Which lolcat are you? I was Cheezburger Cat. If you don’t want to end up as Cheezburger Cat, you should probably have a snack before taking the test.

I’m very behind on blog reading after a weekend away. Please do let me know if you have a contest you’d like me to post about this week!

Reading Update
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (audio). Plodding along, but I will finish listening to these again before I listen to Book 7. I’m #96 on the waiting list (and there are 94 copies) – I need to speed up my listening, don’t I?!
A Killer Stitch by Maggie Sefton. Is it just me? Or do others have trouble getting into these knitting mysteries set in fictitious Fort “Connor,” Colorado?
Passon, Betrayal, and Killer Highlights by Kyra Davis. The second book about mystery writer Sophie Katz and her cat, Mr. Katz, is as enjoyable a read as was Sex, Murder and a Double Latte.

Knitting Update
Alas, I didn’t finish my TDF KAL project – the Sockamania Serpentine Socks. I got about 1.5″ knit on them Friday at the cabin (on the dock, with the cool breezes blowing off the lake…. ahhhh…) before everyone else arrived. Didn’t touch ’em again after that. (The cabin was great fun – it was sunny and there were no bugs worth speaking of.) I would’ve had to knit every waking minute (and a few sleeping ones, too) in order to finish these in time. Ah well, at least I wasn’t kicked out of the Tour for drug use, eh?! (Please ignore how shockingly dirty the bottom of my foot was in the picture below – what can I say, I was just back from the cabin.) (And obviously too lazy to go wash my foot and take another picture!)

“While Mom is obsessing over having such a dirty foot, I’m just going to steal this Addi. I’m sure she won’t miss it, since she isn’t using it right now anyway.” -Mayhem

Take that, Muffin Man!

Wendy’s giving away a copy of Starmore’s Fishermen’s Sweaters. If interested, send an email to her contest line before noon EDT, July 29.

Tink’s having a contest throughout the day today (July 27). Check in and answer the questions and you could “a mixed bag of surprise goodies” or a personal post from Tink!

If you remember the muffin incident, you will know why this made me very, very happy:

Mmmm… gluten-free, dairy-free cherry almond muffins… *wipes drool from keyboard*

But the fact that Bloglines hasn’t been picking up my main RSS feed (it had an ominous red exclamation point by it yesterday) makes me unhappy. (Note: Looks like it’s all better now – whew!) Good thing I’m heading to the cabin later this morning, eh? Have a great weekend, everyone!

“Welcome to my Fortress of Solitude. Would you like a tour?” -Mayhem

No yarn was harmed taking pictures for this post (although it was a close call)

Danielle needs participants for an online survey. If you have a four-year degree from a US college, you can take the survey and perhaps win a prize! (If you don’t have a four-year degree from a US college, you can leave her a comment that you would’ve taken the survey, had you been eligible.)

The yarn I dyed on Saturday with Jeanne and Deb is finally dry! Deb even took a few pictures of the process – way to go, Deb!

“Hmm, which flavor looks the best?” -Mayhem

“I have selected my victim!” -Mayhem

At that point, it seemed prudent to collect my yarn and whisk it off for reskeining. The “tasty” looking yarn is rather tangled, so it’ll be a project for another day. From the left, the base yarns are the KnitPicks superwash/nylon blend, two skeins of Wool2Dye4 (similar twist to Louet GEMS Pearl), and the KnitPicks superwash/nylon/speckled stuff blend. I was pleasantly surprised at how much better the KnitPicks superwash blends are than their previous non-superwash “bare” sock yarn. (Oh, and that pink skein is destined to be a contest prize, should I come up with a good idea for a contest.)

“Hey, where did that yummy yarn go?! Well, this skein looks like it might be good… if Mom doesn’t snatch it away like she usually does.” -Mayhem

(I did.)

“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM!” -Mayhem

Tuesday I finally bought a container for my dyes – I had them crammed into a plastic shoebox that wouldn’t stay closed because it was overstuffed. This is a scrapbooking box from Target – the other side also opens (for carrying paper) and will be perfect for my color card and color wheel… when I find the very, very safe place I put them.

“Well, what fun is that, having all those little rollable jars shut away?” -Chaos

Attack on the Fortress of Solitude

Jackie’s giving away two Ravelry invites – check out the details on her blog. She’ll select two lucky participants at noon EDT, July 27.

Speaking of which, the Knitty Professor needs help naming her new Delft “puking cow” creamer. Submit your name ideas by the end of the Tour (July 29) and you could win some yarn and your very own “puking animal” creamer!

Well, I was going to have pictures of the yarn I dyed with Deb and Jeanne on Saturday. However, now that the yarn is finally dry, it’s been very cloudy and too dark to photograph well. Maybe tomorrow! For knitting, I continue to plod away on my Sockamania Serpentine Socks (1.2 completed), which are also my TDF KAL project. Likelihood of completing my Tour is very low, especially since I’m heading “up nord to da cabin” on Friday for the weekend. But hey, at least I haven’t resorted to doping, right?!

Chaos has long considered the top of the refrigerator and adjoining cabinet as his Fortress of Solitude, because Mayhem wasn’t able to get up there. All of that changed recently…

“La la la la la la, I can’t see her!” -Chaos

“Hey, this is my Fortress of Solitude, Mayhem! Mine!” -Chaos

*whistling innocently* -Mayhem

“Go away! My Fortress! Mine!” -Chaos

“Hey!” -Mayhem

“Take that, big kitty!” -Mayhem

“Eeeeek! Run away!” -Chaos

“I rock.” -Mayhem

“Hmph.” -Chaos

“I didn’t want to sit on that stinky old refrigerator anyway, so there!” -Chaos

The Obviously Eternal Travelogue

In the last installment of the eternal vacation, I was driving down from Estes Park to stay with Kristi and Drew in Ft. Collins for a few days. We had a great time! (Well, Kristi and I did; Drew carried on with his usual workaday schedule and joined us for tasty dinners out.)

Kristi and I hiked Coyote Ridge.

We got a tour of Interweave Press and met Sandi and Erin of Knitting Daily.

We went to the Swetsville Zoo.

We enjoyed many lovely coffee beverages and blogged on the street.

We visited bookstores and yarn stores.

And on Wednesday morning, I got back in my car and drove north and east into the wilds of Nebraska.

“Mom, the big kitty and I wish you would stop talking about that horrible time you call ‘vacation.'” -Mayhem

Randomly Monday

Congrats to Anne of Paper Tiger Knits who won the Biteberry yarn and thanks to everyone who participated!

Leah is celebrating her one-year blogiversary at her own domain. Leave her a comment with a specific pattern suggestion for the amazingly yummy laceweight yarn she has, and you could be selected to win a fun fibery prize. Leave your comments by midnight EDT, July 29.

Swaps
If you haven’t tried swap-bot before, I have to warn you it can be kind of addictive… although not quite as bad as I Can Has Cheezburger! 😉 Here are a couple of swaps that I’m signed up for:

Hand-Dyed Sock Yarn Swap – If you enjoyed Dye-O-Rama last summer, this could be for you. Currently, I think Jeanne, Deb, and I will just be exchanging yarn, because we’re almost the only people signed up!
Indie Music, Coffee, and CD Cover Art Swap – Now, since I’m obviously a mix cd junkie and a notorious coffee fiend (give me that espresso roast for my soy mocha and no one will get hurt… much), this one seems made for me, although I am a bit nervous about the cover art! But I’ll be brave and give it a try. 🙂

Reading update
“Banshee Cries” by C.E. Murphy (novella found in Winter Moon). Murphy describes this novella as book 1.5 of the Walker Papers and I have to agree. If you can, do try to read this after you read Urban Shaman and before Thunderbird Falls.
Charmed and Deadly by Candace Havens. I really do enjoy this sweet and fluffy series about Bronwyn, a witch who protects the British prime minister. This series is worth reading in order (Charmed and Dangerous, Charmed and Ready, Charmed and Deadly).
Sex, Murder and a Double Latte by Kyra Davis. A light-hearted mystery about mystery writer Sophie Katz and her cat, Mr. Katz. I believe there are two more books in the series so far – and I’m already on the list at the library for them.
Decaffeinated Corpse by Cleo Coyle. This is the fifth “Coffeehouse Mystery,” and I continue to enjoy the series. But really, who knew that owning a Manhattan coffeehouse could be so fraught with danger?! 😉
Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead. It’s not easy being a succubus with a conscience in modern Seattle… This is the first book in what looks to be a promising new series – I’m definitely looking forward to the next book!

A few random images
A business in my neighborhood that I’m sure is much more fun to wonder about than to know about…

At least May seems to recognize that the water might not be so good to drink, right?! And this would be why there’s another water dish in the bathroom…

*crunch crunch crunch* -Chaos

“I think the water looks fine, but I’ll wait to have a drink until Mom’s not looking.” -Mayhem

“Whoa. Maybe Mom was onto something about the water.” -Mayhem

Nip nippin’ away

Don’t forget about the Biteberry Yarn contest, which runs until 6 pm CDT, Friday, July 20 (aka as today)!

Wendy’s giving away a copy of The Celtic Collection. Send an email to her contest line before noon EDT, July 24.

Miss T is giving away a copy of Getting Unstuck Without Coming Unglued by Dr. Sue O’Doherty, which Miss T thinks “every woman who’s an artist of any kind – painter, writer, dancer, sculptor, singer, whatever – should read…” Leave a comment by noon CDT, July 24, if you’d like the chance to win.

Beware! My neighborhood pet store, Urbanimal, has some adorable rescue kitties (from Underdog Rescue) in need of homes. That’s how I ended up with Mayhem… There’s an adoption event at the store (2106 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis) on July 21 from 2 – 4 pm. Check out some of the kitties I was petting today: a little black kitty boy named Davis, a very fluffy and extremely affectionate black kitty boy named Wendell (I was oh so tempted), a handsome tuxedo kitty boy Clark Gable, a fluffy tabby and white kitty girl named Harriet (she looks like Matisse, Fraro!), and more…

Yesterday morning I was in the shower and May tried to jump up on to the shower curtain rod. I saw paws over the rod and then her little face peeking over. I could see the outline of the rest of her dangling body through the curtain… and then she fell to the floor with a mighty thump. Fortunately she seems ok. But it was scary for both of us! At least the commotion definitely woke me up.

I mentioned yesterday that KnitNana sent some homegrown catnip along with the stitchmarkers. May was quite taken with it…

“Hello? May?? Helloooooooo? Um, maybe you could let Mom get some of that nip out of the bag? Never mind, I can see it’s a lost cause… You’re such a niphead.” -Chaos

Hmm. Chaos might be onto something there…

Thursday is for thank yous

Don’t forget about the Biteberry Yarn contest, which runs until 6 pm CDT, Friday, July 20!

Eliza’s printing some small sock pattern books on an old-fashioned flatbed press (sounds very cool). She’ll give a copy away to a random commenter – you have until August 1 to leave your comments.

Time for thank yous! The random number generator loved me recently – through its graces, I received some Azul body butter (lemon), which is one of the products available at Kristi’s new store. (How does she have time with those busy twins??) I’ve actually been using the body butter as hand lotion and while it didn’t feel quite like what I’ve been using (duh, it’s body “butter,” not lotion), it’s done great things for my chronically dry hands. Thanks, Kristi! Think I’ll be ordering some more – maybe the “chocolate mousse” scent…

The random number generator also selected me to win some yarn in Jewel’s recent contest – I picked those two lovely skeins of Regia Bamboo. Thank you, Jewel!

I got that great (partially obscured) card of Charlie for supporting Debby’s husband Chris in the Get Your Guts in Gear bike ride to raise money for Crohn’s and colitis research. (Charlie the kitty has inflammatory bowel disease, too.)

“It looks like a kitty, but it doesn’t smell, taste, sound, or feel like a kitty. I give up. What is it?” -Mayhem

I received mix cds from Van and from E, plus a great insulated sheepy water bottle carrier from E! Thanks, Van and E!

“More of these wee unsheep. Hmph.” -Mayhem

“I see what you mean about the unsheep, May. Hey, I bet you could fit in this bag.” *hee hee* -Chaos

“Hmm, big kitty, I am not sure you have my best interests at heart…” -Mayhem

KnitNana sent me these adorable personalized black kitty stitchmarkers from Wee Ones. I love them! You should really go check out Wee Ones – she has more cats, penguins, sheep, dogs… Thank you so much, KnitNana! (She also sent some homegrown… catnip… but that’s a post for another day.) (The photos are most excellent.)

No, you don’t get caption commentary from black cat stitchmarkers!

Remember last week when I mentioned getting a little distracted over at etsy? I picked up two black cat-themed pouches and a black cat key fob from bagladiesinpa, and she threw in a matching black cat hair fastener for being a return customer! Awww…

“Big kitty, you better get over here! There are an awful lot of black kitties… Should we be worried?” -Mayhem

“I think it’ll be ok, May… unless you steal that hair fastener. Bet that’ll get Mom shrieking at us again.” -Chaos

“But it’s so cute! I can’t help myself!” -Mayhem

The more-orange-than-scarlet letter

I always notice trees. Maybe it’s because I have a forestry degree.

In my neighborhood, the more-orange-than-scarlet letter “A” marks elm trees with Dutch elm disease. I know we’re pretty lucky to have as many elms as we do, but the weather of the past several years has really hit our remaining elms hard. These pictures were all taken within two or three blocks of where I live… and this isn’t all of the marked elms.

Every year, fewer streets are shaded by arching elms, which turn even the most mundane street mysterious and lovely.

By the end of the summer, the trees in these pictures will all be gone…

“Well, sure trees are important, because otherwise the birds outside our windows aren’t up at my eye level!” -Mayhem