Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Animation in the Rocks

The Thinker
The red rocks in Roxborough come to life if you just give them a chance. All you have to do is look.

You might see an alligator, a dinosaur, or portrait of your Uncle Herman. Sometimes, it looks like the portrait of a president, an elf, or a gargoyle.
Mountain Goat
When we took our hike on Sunday, we captures some of these lively characters. I would like to think at night they come alive and play in the valleys and peaks, returning to their daytime poses contemplating their adventures. They watch us as we walk by, snickering at their deception. That's the sound you hear as the wind rustles the trees as you walk by. Maybe you stopped because you thought you heard something behind you.

"What was that?" you ask your hiking partner. "Did you hear that?"

But everything is silent. It must have been your imagination.
You continue on your way, not noticing that crease in the rock behind you is now curved into a slight smile.

African Lion face
Big Horn Sheep and Mountain Lion
Howling Coyote

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Enchantment So Close By

Have you ever visited an Enchanted Grove?

The next time you are in Roxborough State Park, take the path to Carpenter's Peak, but before going up to the peak, turn south. Continue down the gravel road for about a half mile until you see the statue of the eagle and Greek goddess.

Take the path.

Soon you will see the mountain lions on the rock ledge. You can disregard the sign I posted yesterday about what to do if you come face to face with a mountain lion. These pumas are not going anywhere. They are delightful wooden sculptures of three little cougars playing. This is best way to experience mountain lion encounters in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Ken and I took a hike on Sunday to visit one of the best-kept secrets in the Roxborough area. The woodland paths invite you in, calling you to play.


Turn the path to the right to see could be on the other side of the ledge.  You enter a clearing with benches and in the distance -- could that be -- a throne?

It is carved marble covered with images of lions as if to celebrate our local carnivore.


 But you are not done with your exploration of the Enchanting Clearing. A path crawls up to the west. Yes, you will be panting by the time you reach the top, but it is so worth it. You have now reach of the overlook of the valley you were just in. Sit back in the chairs at the top and enjoy the view.

This clearing was created by the Goodwins. It is truly a gift to all of us.

Monday, January 28, 2013

In the Path of a Mountain Lion

 Over the last couple of weeks, I have posted about the mountain lion in our neighborhood. As we took our hike on Sunday, this sign was posted at the beginning of the trail. Now it was mid-morning when we ventured into this territory, but I kept an eye out for movement along the top of the rock surrounding us.

It was about then that I looked down and saw a perfect paw print in the sand on the trail. That is one big kitty! He also appears to be traveling ahead of us. Since it rains the night before, softening the sand, I have to wonder how long enough did he pass this way before us.  Again, I glance at the rock formations over our head, hoping and not hoping to see the brown body of a lion slinking by.  We never did see the real one.

 But wait, what is that on that rock ledge?

Ha! Fooled you. It's part of the Enchanted Clearing at the end of our hike (they are wooden). More about that tomorrow.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hiking Close to Home

We will travel around the world looking for nature, adventure, and beauty, and I think we sometimes forget that nature, adventure and beauty are in our own backyard.

My husband and I live in Roxborough Park. It is a a subdivision and a state park south of Denver, one of the largest cities in the US. However, this slice of wilderness and paradise is a short hike away. These pictures were taken just three miles from our home.

Over the next three days, I will be posting more of the pictures of our "local adventure" as we follow mountain lion tracks and find our own little enchanted clearing in the forest.

It is a gorgeous day in Colorado today. The temperatures are in the 60's and the skies are a brilliant blue. The morning haze has not quite burned off adding so much depth to the landscape. It's hard to believe that it is January. Yes, we are desperately in need of rain or snow, but it is hard to pass up a day like this.

Take your camera and walk out your door.  What do you see?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ram Horns

Back in March 2012, I wrote about the herd of bighorn sheep that live in Waterton Canyon, only about four miles from our house. Waterton Canyon is my favorite bike ride mainly because of the herd. We see them nearly every time we go to the canyon.

On our last bike ride, this big guy just walked up on the road and posed for us. The Big Horn Sheep is Colorado's state animal, and well-deserved.  It is also the mascot of Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Now my sons did not attend CSU; they went to the University of Colorado in Boulder and Denver. But my 'third son' Eric did attend CSU. Eric and my son Dane have been best friends since grade school and were almost inseparable. Dane was Eric's best man at his wedding and they do a video blog together on YouTube. (If you want to see it, check out

Future CSU alum Oscar
modeling his new hat.
So when Eric and Margaret had a baby last month, we had to go visit them. Also being a knitter, I had to make Oscar some hats, including a Rams Horn Hat.  The pattern is in this book but I make the hat in the colors of the CSU Rams, green and yellow. It turned out adorable!

And I had to make him a Colorado hat as well. He might have to grow a little more before his hat fits perfectly.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Our Cougar Appears To Be Gone

Neko checking out the deer from our deck

Our backyard is filled with the deer herd and, according to the Department of Wildlife, that is an indication that our mountain lion has moved on. All the neighborhood pets are still around and there have been no reports from anyone seeing him/her. We are safe again -- for awhile. Like I said before, we wouldn't even know we had a lion in the neighborhood if it didn't snow and find paw prints.

We are also having unseasonably warm weather again in Colorado. We are under a "severe drought" with the moisture being about half of what it should be. It is January, and the temperatures are in the low 50's today. We should have some temperature in the 70's early next week.  That probably also means we will have a horribly hot summer again. I think I need to move further up in the mountains.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

She's (or He's) Back -- the Mountain Lion, that is ...

She's back! Or maybe she was never gone ...

We just have a dusting of snow, and again, big kitty paw prints show up, surrounding our house. I wouldn't mind so much if the paw prints didn't circle our house -- it's like she is hunting for something in the house. I am thankful mountain lions can't open doors or windows.  I also know Neko is communicating with her. In the last couple of days, Neko has been running from window to window (and we practically live in a glass house), howling and stalking. He obviously sees something we don't.

It dawned on me today that I only notice the paw prints when there is snow on the ground. And it seems to be every time there is snow on the ground. Now part of me wants to think that the lion only comes around when it snows, but it more logical to think that she is there all the time, but we only notice her when it snows. Hmmm.

We have lived in Roxborough since 1986 and have been visited by mountain lions several times even though we have never actually seen one. Some of the neighbors have seen them and even taken pictures of them. Our first experience with a mountain lion is when one killed a deer in our driveway and dragged the carcass under our swing set. The boys were just pre-schoolers at the time (they are now 25 and 28), so we were a little more worried at the time than we are now. I called the wildlife department after we found the deer and asked what to do. They told me that as long as we had deer around, we don't need to worry about our children. I asked them if the mountain lions knew this as well; did they send a brochure to the mountain lions?  As long as everyone knows the rules, we should be fine, right?

Before you start thinking that we are crazy to live in an area with lions around, there are a few times that you need to remember:

First, lions are nocturnal so they hunt when we are asleep. I also understand that they are most active at dawn, and that's when I am making coffee. If they want to come in and have a cup, that is fine; other than that, they don't bother me.

Second, lions like deer. I am not a deer. I think I am safe.

Third, they don't like animals that fight back. They hunt deer and rabbits and such -- animals that run away. I don't run, but I would have no trouble socking a lion in the nose. No fear.

Fourth, I have Neko. Neko will take on anything. That's why he is not an outside cat.  We strongly believe in preserving our local wildlife and we do our part by keeping Neko out of their way.

The truth is that I am not that worried about mountain lions in the neighborhood. Yes, we have to be aware of them and careful when outside, but that is one of the pleasures of living in the Colorado foothills.  We share our surroundings with coyotes, foxes, raccoons, skunks, bears, and thousands of birds, including owls and eagles. It is worth it.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wolf hat on Etsy

I added some new items to my Etsy shop. I put my hats in an artisan shop at the local mall, and my sales really didn't do very well. I sold lots of my catnip mice, but only sold a few hats. I have been giving many hats away, but I thought I would make one last try to sell some of them online. I have never had any luck before, but there is always a first time.

This is my wolf hat. I love wolves almost as must as I love cats. It is actually a little too small for me to wear, so I will have to make another to fit my big head.

If you want to see more of hats, just visit the shop using the link below.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

One of a Kind Hat

My son Dane graduated from the University of Colorado (go Buffs!) a couple of years ago, but he still loves his CU hat. I designed and knitted this hat for him to wear when he traveled with the CU Marching Band to all those football games in distant states such as Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas.

However, don't ask me for the pattern. Although I can make it and give to my son, copyright laws would prevent me from creating a pattern and promoting it any way.

That is fine with Dane. He likes having a hat everyone at CU wanted to have and he was the only one who did.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Ashley's Lacy Scarf

 My niece Ashley wanted a lacy delicate scarf in purple, so being the cool aunt that I am, I pulled out my knitting needles and designed this one. It is make with Cascade Alpaca lace in a beautiful color. If you look really closely at the yarn, it is variegated blue and pink. However, it makes this lovely lavender and seems to shimmer in different lights.  The only thing that I don't like about Cascade Alpaca Lace is that it is so delicate that it breaks easily.

Thank goodness I have nieces because I love knitting lace. Never could talk my husband or sons into lace.

I have never been big on blocking, but for some reason, I love blocking lace. It is so stretchy and pliable. I made the points on the ends very prominent for more effect. I may have to make one of these for me as well.
I posted this pattern for sale on Craftsy patterns, but if you really want it, leave a comment and I'll get you a copy.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

How Dumb Does He Think We Are?

Every morning Neko plays a game on Ken and me. No matter which one of us gets up first, he meows, cuddles up against the leg, and basically looks cute and adorable. With all our defenses down, we head to the pantry to fill his food dish.

Then the other of us gets up and he pulls the same trick. At first, we thought he was just a Hobbit trying to get Second Breakfast, but after 9 years of this behavior, it dawned on me: He really thinks we are that dumb! Doesn't he know Ken and I talk to each other? Instead of "Good morning" as our sunrise greeting, our first words to each other is always "Did you feed Neko?" The answer is always "Yes."

Yet there are those two yellow eyes staring at me, pleading for his food dish to be filled again. His fur is so soft, his tail is so straight, and his gravelly meow is so sweet that you can't help melt and grab the Ocean Whitefish or Tuna Treasure flavored cat food can and spoon out another morsel or two. And maybe this time, he will appreciate me, or thank me, or maybe just not be so distant to me.

Fat chance. Maybe we really are that dumb. Maybe he really is a Hobbit.

Gotta go. Time to feed the cat.