For the past couple of years we have treated ourselves to a skiing vacation with the ski club we belonged to prior to our retirement mountain move.  Last year we came out to Colorado and skiied Snowmass.  This year’s trip is also to Colorado to Beaver Creek.  They have had much lower than normal snowfall this year, the base is low and concerned for the season.  The weather system that tormented the country yesterday, gave them what they have been waiting for in the form of a foot of snow, but it is very sticky.  We almost didn’t get here.

Our flight from Norfolk left at 7 a.m. meaning a get up time before 4 to meet the group traveling together at the airport shortly after 5 a.m.  It was raining in Norfolk and the flight to Atlanta was bumpy and rough.  We arrived in the air over Atlanta early and were put in a holding pattern for 45 minutes and then allowed to land.  They were experiencing severe thunderstorms and tornado warnings, so there we sat for 4 hours.  Finally, our flight left for Denver, not  bad leg of the journey, until we got to the luggage carosel which did not want to feed our bags up onto the level where we could collect them. Four flights of people mostly going skiing clustered around one broken down carosel trying to get many oversized, overstuffed suitcases.  Finally all 35 of us were collected with no missing bags.  Loaded on the bus and off we head for Beaver Creek.  We weren’t even out of the airport when the trip leader realized we were 1 person short, so back to the airport, cell phone calls and 3 other trippers looking for this man, we finally set out again, group in tact.

Just as  the bus got to where the interstate started its climb into the mountains, we drove into the winter storm.  We made it through the pass before they closed it down, the bus slip slid up to the condo units we had rented and we unloaded in a foot of new sticky snow. Total travel time was 18 hours.

 It continued to snow lightly all night and until noon.  My hubby and I ventured out early to the rental shop to get our skiis and back in time to head out with his sister to try this moutain out.  I have never skiied in deep sticky snow before and it did nothing to instill my confidence in my ability.  The first run, we stuck to a green and easy blue slope, venturing to a different blue on the second run.  It took us over an hour to get down that time.  My very confident skier hubby wasn’t doing so well.  We went inside for lunch and decided to call our first day at the halfway point.

Our condo was advertised as ski in/ski out, it isn’t, the shuttle service from the village to our condo area is slow.  Hopefully the week will improve, right now, I’m not impressed.


When I was in school and when I worked, I was always ready for bed at 9:30 or 10:00 p.m., would fall asleep almost immediately, slept soundly, except when I had a kids in the house and would hear their not usual night sounds.  And I would awaken prior to my alarm clock going off almost without fail.  I have never been a night person, really not a napper either.

This process continued throughout the first year or so of retirement, being ready for bed before the night news and awake at the first hint of light in the morning sky.  Lately, this has changed.  Hubby is a night person, and since his arm break accident in October, has had more difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep, coming to bed at 2 or 3 a.m. instead of midnight or so.  This may be a part of what has disrupted my cycle, but I am finding more and more nights where I sit and knit while he watches TV or go to our bed to read and instead of being ready to fall asleep by 10 o’clock or so, I’m finding my self still awake when he comes to bed and often lying awake until 3 a.m. or later.

Last night was one of those nights.  I sat up finishing a hooded sweater for our 6 year old grandson, so that I could mail it before we leave for our ski trip, kissed my love goodnight and did not get to sleep until after 3.  Of course I awoke as the sun kissed the eastern sky and could not go back to sleep.

I resumed serious early afternoon workouts, walking 4 miles in an hour, stretching and some weight training a few weeks ago, hoping that would return me to my old sleep habits, but it hasn’t helped so far.

Here I sit now, near dinner time and I am so sleepy, I could curl up comfortably on our rock hearth and sleep, but I dare not give in to the temptation to nap for a little while, this late in the day, or I will again lie in bed and watch the stars moved across the sky and the minutes on the digital bedside clock click over one at a time.

A Winter’s Day

Again I sit at our table with my breakfast, but today there is no warm pool of sun to enjoy.  The wind is fiercely trying to blow yesterday’s rain clouds away while they squeeze out a bit more moisture in the form of mountain snow showers. The weather has indeed been fickle this winter so far.  Yesterday was in the 50’s and rainy, today it is in the 20’s and clearing.
Ski resorts are struggling with no snow, yet the Alaskan town has an emergency with 18 feet of snow.

As I sit watching the flurries, I am also being entertained by a flock of small birds that have found something of interest at the back of the house and keep landing on the deck rail, cocking their heads to check me out on the other side of the glass and returning to whatever caught their attention outside. While living in Virginia Beach, I used to feed the birds and the persisent squirrels who outfoxed my preventative measures, but have not here in the mountains. I guess that is partly because we have outdoor cats to deter the rodent population, and birds on the deck might prove too much temptation. I plant seed producing flowers and leave them for winter forage instead.

I sit here waiting for a 28′ tractor trailer truck with the log siding for the basement completion, worrying that with all the rain we have had that a truck that size is going to do significant damage to the driveway we finally got finished correctly last summer. That was another tale, in short, the original contractor for the house didn’t know what he was doing and we had a dirt lane, deeply rutted and nearly impassable, that took 3 weeks, much grading, rock removal, changing the pitch, a culvert and lots of gravel to correct.  I love our house, but desperately wish it was complete.  Building a house is one of life’s major stessors.

Retirement Perks

The weekend has come and gone and I have little to show for it.  Maybe that is one of the perks of retirement, you don’t have to get all of the chores done on the weekend.  We did get two workouts at the gym and I made homemade Thai curry, we had a little snow to enjoy, but no real work.

We soon will be leaving for a week to enjoy a skiing vacation in Colorado, another retirement perk, not having to schedule vacation time around the academic schedule.  The group we will be traveling with are mostly retired.  A surprisingly fun group, the group with which we celebrated the New Year’s arrival.  I’ve never been a good skier, didn’t start until I was almost 30, but it is a good time and they don’t keep the slopes open 12 hours a day like they do on the east coast, so you can ski for a few hours then come in and fix dinner or get ready to go out for dinner.

The weekend also found me starting two new knitting projects and winding yarn for a third. This is partly because I can’t decide what to take with me on our vacation and partly a reaction to having finished all my Christmas knitting, before Christmas, sort of a reaction only another knitter would understand.  When I was still in the work world, I never had more than one project going at a time, so maybe this too is a retirement perk or maybe hazard.

Well, since I slacked this weekend, I guess I should go clean the kitchen, a bathroom, do a load of laundry, or I can sit here and knit, since there is no job calling me tomorrow, perhaps I’ll just wait for another day.



Dimensions: 56”(142 cm) wide X 28” (71 cm) neck to point
2 skeins Malabrigo Rios or other worsted Merino wool
US size 8 needle
Tapestry needle
Set  up rows
CO 3 stitches
Knit 3 rows in garter stitch increasing 1 stitch at the beginning of each row (I use knit front and back of second stitch).
Pattern repeat rows:
*K1, YO* to end of row, no increase at start of row
Knit 1 row dropping the YOs from the previous row, increasing 1 stitch at the beginning of the row.
Knit 2 rows in garter stitch increasing 1 stitch at the beginning of each row.
Continue pattern repeat rows until shawl is desired size, ending with a knit row.  Bind off using preferred bind off method.  Weave in loose ends.

This is a quick shawl, generous and warm.
copywrite Fran Stafford 2012

Global warming?

Last eve was balmy, creek flooding rain falling beating on our metal roof.  Calm enough to not stir the windchimes off the back deck.  It had rained all day, sometimes like gentle spring rain, at other times torrential downpours.  The region needs the rain, so I can’t grouse about it too much, though it reminds me of the winters past on the east coast, 40F, rainy and raw.  Not the spring showers that are pleasant to walk in.

This morning brought a new spectrum.  It was 20F when I arose, only expected to make it to the mid 20’s today.  As often happens in this mountain hollow, the wind is blowing like it wants to remove our house from its path, a steady 25 mph with gusts reaching 45 mph.  The other morning surprise is a dusting of snow and light snow trying to fall.  The air is a swirling mass of white, mostly looking like it is blowing horizontally to the next mountain. I’m hoping more will find its way to the ground.

Growing up in eastern Virginia, before moving westward to the mountains, I always heard the saying, “if you don’t like the weather today, stick around for 24 hours, it will change.”  That seems to be true of this winter in the mountains too.

Wednesday Night Comraderie

     Wednesday night is Ladies Night Out, though we have a couple of husbands that come along and hang out on the fringes, accepting a bit of joshing from the group, giving some back, and always willing to accept goodies when we celebrate a birthday.  The size and composition of the group varies from week to week, but the purpose is the same, to socialize, knit together as we are all knitters, have show and tell, share patterns, yarn, needles and ideas.
     In some circles, these groups are called Stitch and Bitch, or Knit Night.  We have fondly nicknamed ourselves Clicks and Sticks.
     Our venue welcomes us, they have a huge table we take over each week, eating, drinking tea or coffee or an occassional beer or wine and sharing our week.  This group at times is silly, at times a support group, always friends.  When a friend from our group moves on due to job change, we celebrate our friendship with a party usually involving more food, yarn goodies and a new address book that we all fill with our addresses, emails or other means of contact, so that we can stay in touch.
     A few times of the year, we move to someone’s home and celebrate our friendship with a potluck.  Always we bring our knitting and/or spinning and continue to enjoy the Wednesday Night comraderie, even if it is on a Saturday.
    I cherish this group, they were my first friends when I moved to the mountains and I hope they continue to be called my friends for years to come.

Sunday Morning Musings

   The sun is golden, the sky azure, the air cold and still, a haze softening the mountains I see from my seat.  Like a cat, I found the pool of warm light near the dining room doors to the deck. The house is silent except for the electronic hum of the appliances. Here I sit with my coffee and oatmeal, being thankful for my health and the trappings of nearly 40 years of work.
    For almost 34 years now, I have been married to my husband, my best friend.  Together we have raised 3 children, a handful of pets, lost 3 of our parents,  owned several houses and now make our home in a log house of our design, it embracing many thousands of hours of loving labor by our eldest son and his partner.  Our life together has been good, no great.  We have had our share of medical scares, some serious, some inconvenient, but we are fortunate to be active and healthy for our ages. And fortunate to have loving children with their own mates and children, for us as grandparents to love, spoil, and cherish.
     As we are rural and sit amidst many acres of pastureland surrounded by trees, we often see deer, turkey, songbirds and hawks, hear the neighbor’s cattle and the coyotes.  Occassionally we see the coyotes,  a snake, a ground hog, and once a black bear. It is truly beautiful and peaceful here. At night without the light pollution of the cities, the sky is glittering with diamonds of light.  Last night with the moon so full, the house and nearby cedars were casting shadows, and a bold deer grazed within feet of the back deck.
    We are not isolated, however, with a major university town only 15 miles away with restaurants, shopping, entertainment, libraries and parks.  We have the best of both worlds.
    Now that I’ve counted my blessings, I will ponder how to spend the rest of this glorious winter day for tomorrow brings rain, snow, and wind.


SNOWY DAY MITTENS for making or wearing on such days.

This is a quick knit in spite of the colorwork.

Size woman’s 8″ circumference, 10.5″ length

1 skein Black Aran weight wool
12 yards Off white worsted or Aran weight wool
12 yards Gray worsted or Aran weight wool
8 yards Red wine worsted or Aran weight wool
Size US 7 circ or DPNs or size to get gauge
Stitch marker
Tapestry needle
Yarn bobbins (optional), if using yarn bobbins, wind white, gray, and red yarns on bobbins.

Gauge is 10 st X 14 rows = 2 inches in St st
Make 2
  • With black yarn, cast on 40 stitches using a stretchy cast on such as long tail.  Place marker and join in the round being careful not to twist stitches.
  • Knit 4 rows of 1 X 1 rib
  • Rows 1-3: Join white and begin pattern; *Knit 3 white, 1 black* repeat to end of round.

Drop white and cut yarn leaving enough tail to weave in later.

  • Rows 4-6: Join gray and work pattern;
  •  K 1 gray, *K1 black, 3 gray* repeat to last three stitches in round, K1 black, K2 gray
Drop gray and cut yarn.
  • Rows 7-9: Join red and work pattern for 3 rows;*K3 red, K1 black* repeat to end of round.

Drop red, cut yarn.

  • Rows 10-12: Join gray and repeat rows 4-6. Drop gray and cut yarn.
  • Rows 13-15: Join white and repeat rows 1-3. Drop white and cut yarn.
Remainder of mitt will be knit in black.

Work in stockinette for 2″.

Place first 7 stitches onto scrap yarn or flexible stitch hoder for thumb. CO7 stitches and knit to end of round.

Continue to work in stockinette for 5.5″.

To shape the top of the mitt, follow the next two rows 3 times.

*K2tog* repeat to end of round


Cut yarn leaving a tail. Thread through the remaining stitches, pull tight, secure and weave in end on wrong side.

  • Make thumb: 
  • Place stitches from yarn onto needle, pick up 9 stitches on sides and top of opening for a total of 16 stitches. Knit stockinette for 2″.
Next round, K2tog around, cut yarn and thread through remaining stitches, draw tight, secure and weave in end on wrong side.
  • Weave in ends from cuff.
  • Colorwork hint: while working cuff, twist the two working colors every two stitches.

Copywrite 2012 Fran Stafford

Farm life, knitting and spinning, cooking and family