Yarn Along by the Fireplace

Because I love both knitting and reading I enjoy joining Ginny and others on a Yarn Along every Wednesdays.  I’ve seen many beautiful hand knits and have added books to my ever growing book list by following all the Yarn Along links.

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I’m knitting by a roaring fire today because it is snowing outside and I’m working on a RomiDesign, Teresa’s Vacation Scarf.

This is part of the 7 Small Shawls – Year Four: Friends series.  The center part has a a simple lace pattern that is mostly stockinette but each end section has some beautiful lace which you can’t see.  I’ll show you in a follow-up post.  But today?  Well, today is all about  what book

I am reading.

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Hot off the press is a new Flavia de Luce novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley.  This seventh book in the series has another clever name, As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust and continues the outrageous sleuthing career of its precocious preteen leading lady, Flavia.  This young chemist and aspiring detective retains her droll wit as she goes abroad to the boarding school her mother attended as a child.  I’m halfway through the book and it is delightful.

So, what are you knitting/crocheting right now?  Read any good books lately?

If I Were a Poet

If I were a poet I would write a poem about the Colorado sky.

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The Colorado sky is unlike any place I have ever lived and I have lived in many places.

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Hubby and I went to Cripple Creek today with friends to see the ice sculptors but it was the sky that captivated us, not the ice.

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If I could paint these skies I would.

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I once painted nine months of Colorado sunrises into a stocking hat.  Do you remember?

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I think these skies have a hold on my heart and I want to live here forever.  Well, at least my earthly home can be here.  I have faith to believe heaven will be even more beautiful and I sure wouldn’t want to miss that!

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Do you want to see the ice?  The ice is, after all, why we journeyed on a winding mountain road just before dusk. First I will show you the flame thrower.

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He had his own musician who played fire throwing music behind a wall of ice.

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An ice castle seemed to be a favorite place for sweethearts to have their Valentine pictures taken.

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In front of a familiar ice cream store was an interesting piece of ice.  We have only frequented The Rocky Mountain Canary on summer days but never in the dead of winter.  Have you heard that Denver is called the Mile High City because it sits one mile above sea level?  Cripple Creek boasts of ‘2 mile’ ice cream because this mining-turned-casino town sits two miles above sea level.  Do you know why there would be a ‘canary’ store in a mining town?

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We enjoyed our little drive down the road to see the ‘ice’ but for these mountain lovers, the sky was the desert.

Have Turtle Will Travel 1

As the bikers in the Tour de France started their race thousands of spinners around the world simultaneously began the Tour de Fleece.  I spent the better part of an evening readying the Raven Ridge Targhee Top for my little Jenkins Turkish Delight to spin for the race.  She is such a dream to spin and just keeps spinning on and on all the way until she reaches the floor.  My husband has named her THE TURTLE because he thinks she looks like a turtle as the fiber wraps across the crossbars making a ‘turtle’ hump.

20140706-004859-2939697.jpgThis will be the first time I have tried Fractal spinning and I hope Little Turtle can keep up to the end of the race and finish these 4 oz.   This technique will supposedly help the colors pop better than the method I have thus far used of just splitting in long strips and spinning.  My plan of action to help Little Turtle is to take her with me wherever I go –  have turtle will travel.  I will take photos here and there of her adventures.  Yesterday she went to Summit county to be introduced to some relatives.

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She didn’t much enjoy the winding mountain roads we went on to get there because she kept bumping agains my leg which, of course, makes her stop spinning dead in her tracks.  As we climbed through mountain passes she wanted to sit on my lap.

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Little Turtle was more than relieved when we started up the driveway and she knew that my feet would be planted on solid ground giving her the ability to spin to her heart’s content.  The wildflowers were spectacular as we drove through the meadow and the Blue Columbines in particular were especially prolific.

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Little Turtle enjoyed the beauty from the deck as she twirled around and around although……….the dogs were a little scary and one almost chomped on her.  The big one is used to hunting and I think he thought Little Turtle was an unusual bird and the little one, well….let’s just say he is a ball of energy and wants to taste everything.  It was lots of fun visiting and meeting new family (but when is that baby going to pop out again?)

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The best of the whole day for Little Turtle was when she got to rest in the Turtle box and sleep the whole way home.  I let her do that because she worked hard the first day of the Tour de Fleece. Her Bossie friend wanted to spin while she slept.

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Little Turtle slept through the stop in Breckenridge to visit old friends here from St. Louis.  And,

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What’s this?  Little Turtle was sooooooooooooo sad she missed the most incredible rainbow the old folks had ever seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Beautiful Day and Tea at Three

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It is a beautiful Colorado day with lovely blue skies, a light breeze and almost springlike weather but still not quite spring. A friend of mine used a quote from Charles Dickens to describe a day like today and I think they are perfect.

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“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:

when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade.”
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My Brown Betty teapot arrived today and she needs a little cosy to keep her contents warm. I will be knitting one of Kate Davies’ many ‘sheep’ designs, this one a tea cozy called Sheep Carousel. The pattern was sized to fit a ‘standard’ teapot and not knowing what size someone in the UK deemed ‘standard’ required a bit of investigating.  As I researched the pattern on Ravelry I noticed many UK knitters putting their finished cozies on a ‘Brown Betty’. Knowing how much the Brits enjoy their tea led me deeper into more research until I uncovered a charming history behind the Brown Betty teapots.

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The teapot itself came with a tiny card detailing the history further.  I found it interesting, you may not.  If you are interested read on and, if not, you can stop reading – pronto.

“During Queen Victoria’s reign, tea became a symbol of Britain’s greatest period of expansion and stability.  Every home owned a teapot, even if it was a basic ‘Brown Betty’ .  Tea was no longer a refined, upper class beverage but a basis of a whole meal.

While Charleston dancers and many Victorian glamours have disappeared from the scene, the humble ‘Brown Betty’ teapot has still remained a firm favorite.  Its origins go back to the 17th century and to the birth of the British ceramic teapot…”

The Brown Betty I bought is still made from Terracotta just as the Elder Brothers used in 1695.  I will see if the claims of ‘making the best tea in the world’ holds true.  They claim that the shape of the pot causes the tea leaves to be gently swirled around as the boiling water is added in thus producing an ‘exquisite’ infusion.  I have always used loose tea but put the leaves in a tea strainer ball.  After reading that it is best to just put them in completely loose for the best infusion I will give that a try.

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I also ordered some Yorkshire Tea which I read is a popular tea in some parts of the UK.  It has the finest little tea leaves, almost the size of coriander seed!  I don’t think I will even bother to strain it.

Are you a tea sipper?  What kind of tea do you enjoy?

Rocky Mountain Temperature Scarf

I enjoyed knitting my Colorado Sunset Hat last year for the Conceptual Knitters group on Ravelry that I decided to take on another whimsical challenge for 2013. This year I want to knit my Rocky Mountain temperatures into a scarf.

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Knowing that I will not see temperatures in the fifties until springtime, I only assigned colors for the winter temperatures. Each color covers four degrees. I smiled when I saw the temperature scale people were using in the group and followed suit with them fully knowing that I could carry those temperatures far lower than 28 degrees. But then, come summer, I won’t be coming close to those high temperatures so it all evens out in the end, doesn’t it?

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It took me a while to decide on a pattern and I changed my mind two or three times. Having liked the outcome of Cheryl’s Utah Sky Scarf, I settled on the Lacy Baktus Scarf. I will do as she did and knit two rows a day. This will make a nice sized triangular shawl to wrap around my neck and it will be very colorful when it is all finished in December.  You can’t really see the pattern much at this point but I will go ahead and show you the first week.

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EDITED:  I just checked the forecast for this weekend and it looks like the high will be in the lower teens.  I’m seriously contemplating breaking those temperatures down further.

Sitting Under an Aspen Tree Reading

I have a favorite place to sit and read in the Fall, it is under an aspen tree in a grove next to my house.  The leaves shimmer in the breeze and are golden in the sun against bright blue skies this time of year.  The temperature is perfect and I am still able to sit outside without a jacket.  I could easily nap under these trees but today I am enjoying words woven into a story that holds promise This afternoon, as I admired a fallen golden leaf on the ground, I discovered that I am not the first to enjoy this spot.  There was a rusted pencil sharpener lying amongst the golden leaves.

It is possible that this pencil sharpener is mine from a bygone day but it is more likely that it belonged to one of my girls.  They used to work on schoolwork under this tree when they were young, at least a decade ago.  It is easy to daydream on a day like today and let my thoughts drift back to pleasant memories of when we all lived together under one roof.

I just started Little Bee by Chris Cleave and can’t tell you much about it yet.  The publishers were very secretive about the plot saying they wanted the story to unfold in a magical way for you.  I’ll tell you more about it in a future Yarn Along.

I have finished a hat for my knitting buddy who is going through chemo therapy for breast cancer.  She shaved her head last weekend in preparation for the inevitable hair loss.  She said it is better to do this before you start seeing clumps of hair fall out.  Being a knitter, she is well stocked with warm hats but knew the bond of friendship we share would lead me to knit a special hat filled with well wishes.  She picked Shedir and I knit it with Rowan Calmer, a soft cotton yarn that will be easy on her head.  It is a pretty hat and I enjoyed knitting it although I will forewarn you that it is not one that you can just whip out in a hurry.

Joining Ginny and her reading buddies on a Yarn Along today and looking forward to seeing what books they are reading.

In Which the Mum is Entirely Surrounded by Water

It rained and it rained and it rained. And just as Piglet told himself, so I too am telingl myself that never in all my life, and I am goodness knows how old – never have I seen so much rain. Actually, this is far from true in my case but nonetheless, days and days of rain in the mountains have turned into warnings of flash floods and massive mudslides in fire ravaged terrain.

When the rain began we were asleep. It rained and rained throughout the night and I slept and slept well into mid-morning. I have had some sleepless nights lately and I think the rain helped me to get caught up on sleep.

I am not here all alone today with nothing to do except wonder when the rain will stop. Husband is working from home and Kenzie keeps wanting to go out and investigate. Just as rain is rather exciting to me, it is also exciting to her. She will never be a Very Small Animal Entirely Surrounded by Water who is anxious, it just isn’t in her temperament.  Last night she jumped in the bubble bath I was enjoying, enjoying that is until she jumped in.  Consequently, I won’t be taking her out with an umbrella over her head as my father-in-law does for his dogs because half the fun for her is getting wet.  I made her wear her cabled coat although I am not sure she likes it much.

The quaking aspen are starting to turn. The weather man reports 8-inches of snow on the top of Pikes Peak. If my thermometer drops a few more degrees this rain will turn to snow. I have a pair of wool socks on my feet and I am still in my warm pajamas. I know exactly what a day like today is for. It is time to pull out a project I have not worked on since July, my Girasole blanket.  Todays weather reminds me that soon, very soon, I will be wanting this blanket To Sit By The Fire.

And this rainy day has also drawn me to an old favorite, The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh.  I wanted to read once again the story In Which Piglet Was Entirely Surrounded by Water because, after all, NONE of us are too old for a little bit of Pooh!

Weekend Ramblings


Last weekend was perfect for a long anticipated outdoor wedding in the mountains. There were a few rough roads to travel on but the destination was well worth the trek — such a lovely spot.

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The bride’s father wore a kilt and hand-knit kilt stockings from Scotland. The mother-of-the-groom told him I knit socks and I had eyed his. He asked if I could knit some for him…..ummm….I don’t think so….. that would be a project I would only embark upon for a loved one.

The five hour trip to and from the wedding gave me a stretch of knitting time in the car. I worked on a swatch for the Master Hand Knitting class – the dreaded swatch, the seed stitch. Three times now.

This one will have to do! This is a very difficult swatch for someone who knits as loose as I do! One has to remember to give the working yarn an extra tug after every knit stitch so that the resulting fabric will be dense instead of lacy looking.

I worked on the ribbing for the Portuluca sweater. I was pretty excited to finish it up so I could move on to the fun cabling of the sweater body. Unfortunately, later that evening whilst setting up the cable row I discovered I was ten stitches too short. I unraveled the ribbing and put the whole thing in timeout for a few days.

With the western states ablaze with wildfires, I am more than happy to announce that our monsoon weather has arrived. With our afternoon showers the vegetation has greened up and taken off growing. I decided that I would reflect this new weather pattern in my Colorado Sunrise Hat. I’m well past the normal sizing of a hat and have now moved in to the ‘stocking’ part of this sampler hat. With several decreases behind me and more up ahead the rounds are going faster.

Kenzie patiently waits for the showers to stop every afternoon so she can run out on the deck. I think she hopes to see chipmunks flooded out of their homes. The birds don’t provoke her, the deer don’t provoke her but the chipmunks….. let’s just say she won’t keep her mouth shut about them and let’s all our neighbors know that she.does.not.like.rodents.of.any.kind.

It is pretty nippy up here in the mountains today. When I went for my walk after lunch I noticed that many of the aspen trees are already starting to turn gold. I think autumn will come early this year….

Slowing Down….

The knitting has slowed down on the home front after pushing myself a little too far in Camp Loopy. Coming home from a recent trip to Texas, I knit for twelve straight hours and the muscles across my knitting shoulder were so fatigued that I could barely lift my arm the next day. Knitted stopped completely for a full week and I am gradually adding it back into my routine. I got a massage yesterday which has done wonders and will be visiting her frequently while she tries to elongate my kinked muscles. When will I ever learn to knit in moderation….. so ……. hard …… to ……….do

I worked on the Colorado Sunrise Hat while I was away from my smoke filled Colorado skies. Thankfully, the fires have been contained and we have moved into monsoon weather patterns.
I’m not overly thrilled with the progress on this hat. Maybe it is the fact that the colors in the sunrise are almost the same every day and all my motifs are looking the same. I think I’m going to throw in more blue and choose narrower motifs for the remainder of the hat.

That being said, I am still having fun with this ‘conceptual knitting’ process and will enjoy wearing this hat come winter. No doubt I will remember all my early morning photo shoots. The early mornings are still chilly here in the mountains but one thing is for sure -I don’t need to wear gloves like I did when I shot for the corrugated ribbing!

Have you guys heard of Craftsy? There are three on-line classes that I am itching to take:

Carol Feller’s Celtic Cables

Mary Jane Mucklestone’s Fair Isle Vest and

Drucilla Pettibone’s Spindling Class

I really like the concept behind these classes. You view and work at your own pace but you have the added benefit of interacting with the instructor and others in the class. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? I’m especially excited about it because I live a good hour from my closest knitting shop and the teachers on Craftsy are designers that I am familiar with. What a great idea! Now to decide which one to take first………..

And one last thing……guess who discovered a live chipmunk under my stove this morning? My chipmunk watchdog, protector of our deck and I guess now I can proclaim that she also protects the house from the little varmints!

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Waldo Canyon Fire from the western side

Last Saturday I met my daughter in Woodland Park for lunch. As she was driving up the pass through Colorado Springs from Denver she called and told me cars were backed up and there were fire trucks everywhere. Moments earlier I had witnessed a huge plume of smoke rising out of Waldo Canyon and I told her I thought we had another fire. The going was slow but she eventually made it through the mountain pass.

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We sleep with our windows open in the mountains and when we woke on Sunday morning the house smelt of smoke. We went to church and towards the close of the service our pastor received a reverse 911 call to evacuate his home immediately. His home bordered the western side of the fire. By the time we got back to our house the air was so dense with smoke that we had to shut all the windows in our house despite the high temperatures outside, a record heat wave for us. That afternoon the pass was closed and all the little towns along it had been evacuated.

All day Monday we watched in horror as the size of the fire doubled within a few short hours. The news coverage was 24/7 and we were glued to the television waiting to hear that the fire was under control. It was far from being controlled as we would soon see. My daughter called her hospital in Denver and told them she was staying with us, we were glad.

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On Tuesday we decided to go ahead with plans to see a baseball game in Denver. We also wanted to make sure our daughter got home safely. We had to take a back mountain road to get to Denver since the pass was closed. As we headed towards Woodland Park we were stunned. The plumes of smoke were much larger than we had anticipated.

We sit two thousand feet above Colorado Springs so the horizon in the above photograph is actually the beginning of the mountain pass, descending down into Colorado Springs. These photos were taken with my phone and do not give justice to the actual scene set before us. It was the kind of scene that makes one suck in their breath at the sheer power of natural destruction. We were able to see why Woodland Park was under pre-evacuation.

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As we headed north to Denver on a road which ran along the backside of the Front Range we were reminded of how destructive a forest fire can be. Twenty five miles of fire damage from the Haymen fire stretched before us reminding us of what a forest fire leaves behind. It has been ten years since the Haymen and the area is still desolate with very little vegetation growth.

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At the Rockies game that night we still could not get our mind off the fire and kept checking our phones periodically for live updates. Of course, it did not help that a fire had just started in Boulder and we had a clear view of it in the infield. I was beginning to feel like there was no escape and there were fires in every direction.

In the third inning my daughter received a phone call from a friend who had been evacuated letting her know that her neighborhood and the entire mountain was on fire. With winds at 65 miles an hour the fire had swept like a tidal wave over a ridge and down the mountainside into Colorado Springs, an unprecedented firefighting disaster. Nothing could be done to save 367 homes. The main highway going through Colorado Springs was shut down so that people could evacuate. The numbers evacuated now rose to 32,000.

We walked home from the Rockies game in stunned silence. The film footage was horrifying and all the pictures being posted by friends on Facebook looked like surreal. We could hardly believe that this was happening to Colorado Springs, our friends, our old church, my husband’s work facility ……

The following photographs were taken by Ron Adair, a dear friend of ours who is a wonderful photographer. This is from the Colorado Springs side of the fire.

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Wednesday morning my husband and I drove back through that lonely graveyard of trees to get back to our home. When we got to Woodland Park we stopped to get a hamburger only to find that Wendy’s was closed and the town had evacuated. Only a few businesses remained open and the town looked like a ghost town. The hospital had evacuated and as we passed it I snapped the following picture.

Driving away from Woodland Park I kept thinking that the fire from our side looked like an atomic bomb explosion.

We were only home a couple hours when we received a reverse 911 call telling us to pre-evacuate. We assumed it was because of the Waldo Canyon Fire but found out later it was because of a fire on a neighboring road. It is difficult to describe the emotions that overcome you when you look around your home trying to decide what to save. Loving photography as I do, I gathered up boxes of photos and photo albums. Knowing how much time had gone into my hand-knits, I grabbed all the shawls I had knit and one drawerful of hand knit socks. I grabbed a couple of framed stitched samplers because I knew my fingers had lost the capability of replacing them. And being a mother of grown daughters, I gathered up all the sweet little things children make their mothers as they are growing up.

With an arsonist on the loose who had started 22 fires in our area over the last couple weeks I would be telling a falsehood if I said I remained calm throughout the packing, instead I felt a flood of panic overwhelming me. A couple hours later the pre-evacuation was lifted and we went on to our Wednesday night church meeting where extended prayer time ministered to my heart and gave me great peace. I was once again reminded that we need to leave our worries,cares and anxiety at His feet. As I left church the sky was absolutely beautiful and looked like a Monet watercolor painting.

This has been a long, emotional week but each day the fire has become more contained. Containment does not mean the fire is out but is safely contained within a barrier that will prevent it, Lord-willing, from spreading. As of today, a good many evacuations have been lifted. The mountain pass was opened yesterday for residents to get back home. My pastor is still displaced as the firefighters secure that western perimeter of the fire. They are camped around his home in tents. There have been 18,000+ firefighters.

Stories are starting to circulate as we hear of people we knew who lost their homes and it is difficult hearing them. The firefighters have yet to tell their stories. They are heroes, these firefighters. There are many tears and I think there is a sense of being shell-shocked. The media was allowed to go in today and film so I’m sure there will be many more emotions surfacing over the next few days. We still have a long, dry summer ahead of us and have been warned to live with a heightened sense of awareness to grass fires and structural fires. Please keep us in your prayers when you think of Colorado.

I know this has been a longer post than usual. I suppose I needed to get some of my emotions out and into words. I’ve had inquiries from all around the world from my internet buddies and I appreciate each and every one of you. And, the outpouring of concern and love from others outside the state has given great encouragement. Our hearts are filled with thanksgiving that we are safe and unharmed. Any fear we had was stilled by prayer. Despite the dangers we face every year of forest fires we love our state and we love living here. We almost always have enough forewarning to pack and get out. When these things happen we are reminded that these are earthly treasures that we will not be taking with us and we are also reminded of how much STUFF we have — too much stuff! Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers!

Today is the day I join with many others on the 2012 Joy Dare and count my blessings!


411.  For Stress-relieving laughter seeing outfits my daughter bought for her baby and her friend’s baby and….

412.  For a videos of my granddaughter letting me see and hear her discovering how to laugh.

413.  For A picture texted to my of her ‘chillin’ out with the caption telling her Gran to ‘chill out’ during a stressed out moment when I really needed to chill out.

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414.  For God’s protection over our lives and property.

415.  For the surprisingly low number of deaths in this fire.

416.  For reverse 911 calls.

417.  For the outpouring of compassion and help in the community in and around Colorado Springs.

418.  For the FIREFIGHTERS that risked their lives and endured incredible heat to protect us and our property.

419.  For a photograph of a beautiful rainbow over Garden of the Gods a couple days ago.

420.  For photographs of big horn sheep walking around on the grounds of Glen Eyrie castle which was untouched by fire.

421.  That our beautiful Garden of the Gods was also untouched by fire.

422.  For friends that check on us and hearing from people we haven’t heard from in a while.

423.  For knitting friends I’ve met on the internet checking in to see how I am.

424.  For the peace that passes understanding when I cast my anxiety upon my Savior.

425.  For the unknown community in the world that have prayed.

426.  For time spent with my daughter throughout the terror of this fire.

427.  For the tears of compassion that flow freely when seeing others suffering through a tragedy.

428.  For stories that are starting to circulate like the one of a pastor returning to an unharmed home and seeing that the fire had come right up to the deck and he could see the bootprints of a firefighter who had stood on his deck and defended his home from the encroaching fire………and the words of hope and encouragement he took away from that scene ……