24 June 2009

Solstice Ride 2009

We did our annual solstice ride yesterday. (It was a couple of days late, because it was dumping buckets of rain on the actual solstice.) Every year, there is a group ride on an 18 mile loop of trails in the mountains west of town. We meet at Wolftone Creek, and ride up the North Fork Deer Creek Trail, then loop along Mars Ridge and come back down Howard's Trail. The ride starts after work (usually around 5pm) and then we all have a cookout at the campground where we park. This year, we had a group of about 17 riders.

The beginning of the ride was interesting, as a quarter mile of road on the way to the trailhead was washed out by the creek jumping its bed at a bend near the road. It was shallow enough, and the gravel underneath stable enough that we were able to ride through the stream, and we only hit one deep spot where our feet got a little wet. I was smart to bring extra dry socks with me.

The weather was perfect, and as long as you were moving at least at a walking pace, the mosquitos weren't any problem. Our problems did start after a stop to regroup about 5 miles in. We hit the trail again, and were probably about 6-7 miles in when the drive chain on our tandem broke on a steep climb. Carlos and I waited for the next rider to come up behind us, to see if they had a spare chain link with them. Normally we have one in our packs, but we also use our hydration packs in the winter for skiing, and take out all of the bike tools. Unfortunately, the master links didn't make it back into the camelbaks this spring. The next rider up the trail was Nathan, and he did have spare links. Carlos sat and fixed the chain, while I held up the bike and tried to keep the mosquitos from eating Carlos as he worked. We got it fixed, and rode for a ways before it broke again on another steep climb (the section of chain Nathan gave us had just popped out completely) We walked up the trail pushing the bike (to avoid mosquitos), until the next rider caught up to us, but he didn't have a link, so we had to turn back. The nice thing about all that climbing was it was mostly downhill going back to the parking area, and we were able to coast back without any trouble.

Since we got back early, we got the campfire started, so when the rest of the group made its way back in, the fire was burning merrily. Normally, it is too dry for a campfire, but with the month of rain we had, there was no danger of the fire getting out of control. Everyone brought something to contribute to the cookout afterwards, but the elk and antelope kabobs were by far the highlight of the fare. We made our way back home around midnight, took showers and fell asleep almost immediately. An excellent way to spend the day/evening with friends! Carlos and I plan on going back with just a couple of friends and doing the whole ride, since we didn't get to finish it yesterday.

Thanks for stopping in!
'Til next time,

23 June 2009

Summer is here! (finally!...)

This has been the strangest spring I've seen since I moved here! We live in the mountains, and spring is usually dry, but we have had all the rain that Seattle hasn't for the past 3-4 weeks. It was so dark from rainclouds that I often had to turn on the lights inside during the middle of the day! Finally, though, the rainy weather has broken, and we are back to our usual sunny skies. I am glad, as tonight is our annual summer solstice (a bit late) mountain bike ride. Every year, a group of us ride one of the mountain trails nearby, then have a cookout afterwards. I always look forward to the cookout after the ride, as there is usually some good food happening, and tonight will be no exception. Antelope kabobs are on the menu, along with side dishes, and I made up a batch of peanut butter cookies last night, which will be dessert tonight.

Our ride will take several hours, and several thousand feet of hard climbing, with exhilerating downhills. The plan is to ride up Mars Ridge, and come back down north fork Deer Creek trail. I haven't been up in that area since before the Castle Rock wildfire, which raged through the area a couple of summers ago. It will be interesting to see how the fire changed the landscape, and what wildflowers are blooming there now. With all of the rain we've been getting, the flowers should be spectacular! (I'll bring my camera, and try to snap a few pictures. Not always easy when riding.)

I made the most of the rainy weather we had, and have been making jewelry (as usual). I found a tutorial for making pretty pearl flowers on one of the blogs I follow. The blog is in Hungarian, but the pictures are very good, and I was able to follow them to figure out how to make the design. Here is the link to the tutorial: http://kricsar.blogspot.com/2009/06/tutorial-3.html
I was really pleased with how it turned out! My husband just got a new set of strings for his viola, so I have been recycling his silver-wound strings into necklace cords by adding a jumpring through the ferrule, and wrapping a lobster clasp onto the other end. It makes a nice, light-weight necklace with clean lines, which don't detract from the pendants I hang from them.

I also made yet another skull bracelet, this time pairing the turquoise skull with a wire wrapped ocean jasper with gorgeous markings on it. I only have three of these skull beads left, and don't know if I will find them again (though I always look), so they are extra special to me, and I want to do them justice by making them into something really beautiful.

I have to keep this short, as I need to get my riding clothes, etc, together to leave soon.
Happy summer to you all!

18 June 2009

Raining Turquoise Skull Bracelets

It has been raining here every day for several weeks now, quite uncommon weather for our mountain valley, but it has been very conducive to working in the garden, and I have been doing a lot of that lately! I recently started a project to edge the beds in my front yard with flush-set, flat stones, to give the beds more definition, and to make mowing easier (I can just roll the mower right up to the edge of the grass, without needing to use a weed wacker.) We get clear patches in the weather where the sun comes out and things dry up somewhat, and I weed and plant, and when the rains drive me indoors, I make jewelry. Not a bad life! :D

I have been making more of my asymmetrical bracelets lately. I was originally inspired by a bracelet I saw in a Sundance catalog, and have made a number of bracelets of a similar design. For these bracelets, I make a section of tiny wire wrapped stone chains, and couple them with larger, unique beads and findings to make my bracelets. My newest favorite is my Ganesh bracelet. I traded with another Etsy seller for the silver Ganesh finding, and used an orange and purple color scheme, as it reminds me of India. I used earthy-colored tundra sapphires for the multi chains on the bracelet, wrapping them with fine silver wire, then grouped them with a big faceted nugget of amethyst, and a carnelian faceted round, capped with Thai silver bead caps.

After I finished the Ganesh bracelet, I still wanted to play with this bracelet design, and I had a few turquoise skull beads left in my stash, and decided to make another skull bracelet, using turquoise and coral. As I was working on this bracelet, a friend emailed me and asked if I could make her a skull bracelet, too. She wanted all turquoise for hers, and I modified the design a bit, to take advantage of a cool, Tibetan silver charm I'd been saving for a special project to use in the design.

I really liked how her bracelet turned out, and it seems whenever I start making pieces with turquoise, I end up making several. This time was no exception. After finishing the two skull bracelets, I made a turquoise pendant netted with fine silver wire, and strung it on a necklace made from one of my husband's used, silver-wound viola strings. I added a jump ring through the ferrule, and wrapped a sterling lobster clasp onto the other end with half-round sterling wire.

After I finish up my chores for today, I am going back to work on the jewelry for the upcoming benefit for Sagebrush Equine Training Center for the Handicapped (www.sagebrushequine.org). I volunteer there every week. They offer 130 free riding sessions a week to handicapped people and at-risk youth, and are able to do so through the generous donations of time by over 200 volunteers. Very cool! I am working on some horse-themed jewelry designs for the silent auction. I'll share what I make here, too.

Thanks for stopping in!