Monday, July 7, 2014

lake como and blanca peak, colorado

this weekend we went with some adventurous friends out to backpack lake como in the spanish peaks of southern colorado. we packed up our cars and headed out friday morning, july 4th, for an adventure none of us really quite expected. after some minor transmission trouble around colorado springs and a stop in the tiny town of walsenberg for some subway subs, we drove out to the lake como/ blanca peak trailhead and set off. 
we climbed for about 6 miles and gained almost 4,000 feet in elevation, and camped at just about tree line. for those of you less familiar with this elevation over distance thing, let me just state for the record that i was pretty sure i was going to die on the way up this hill. every time we'd hit a switchback, or round a bend, we expected the ground to level out. it never really did. 

i think it took somewhere around 5 ish hours to climb this brutal trail. the lake at the top is most certainly gorgeous, and i have never slept better in my life than i did approximately 8 seconds after my head hit my pillow stuff sack full of spare clothes.

saturday, the boys climbed blanca peak at 14,344 feet while hannah and i sat on the shores of lake como in the sun, chatting about being married to graduate students and what life is supposed to look like at age 30. i like to think that though she and i didn't stand on top of the world, we definitely had a more enjoyable morning than the boys did. their photos from the summit are gorgeous, but on their way down, they also accidentally discovered the natural laxative properties of dried apricots eaten in large quantities. 

we were fortunate enough to round out this trip- after a steep, slippery climb down from about 12,000 feet at the lake back to the lesley's jeep- with a stay at a campground nearby. our new friends met us there with beer, delicious food (that we didn't have to cook ourselves!) and laughter. they were even kind enough to endure our endless stories of the treacherous trail up and back down this rocky mountain. in all, a weekend well spent. tiring, for sure, but well spent nonetheless!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

changachanga quilt: it's finished!

i finally finished the little african wax print quilt that's been sitting on my rocking chair for weeks, waiting on binding. i sat and sewed the grey border on by hand today while hubs read aloud to me from return of the king. as much as i'm sad to see this one go, it's both nice that it's finished and is a gift i'm rather excited to give.

as an aside, i also re-learned the word for patchwork in swahili (actually, i think it's 'mixed' as in, mixed up, but i was assured it was also used for quilts): changachanga.

please let me introduce the finished product, stitched for two recently married friends whose stateside ceremony in september i'm already pumped for. i hope you both like it as much as i do!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

do small things with great love.

do small things with great love. sit and have a conversation, share a cup of tea or a glass of juice, share resources and cookies. this is why i love what i do in refugee resettlement. i have friends who are fighting the good fight on capitol hill in washington dc, who are out in the wilds of africa or the streets of india attempting to affect change on a massive scale. that's not me. i can't do that. i so easily get bogged down by the enormity of it all, the bureaucratic red tape and snail's pace at which things change, if they change at all. i've told my world changing bestie from college several times, that while i can't stop the war in congo, i can bounce a baby for a few hours while his mother enjoys the friendship of others in her community in our shared space.

in these little things, i have been surprised by how much love i have found in my heart for a family of littles from sudan. we don't share much by way of language. we don't understand each other's cultures- middle eastern or middle schooler. we try hard to communicate stories or important information with mixed results. but one thing these littles (and their parents!) have in abundance and share very generously is love. whether it be hugs, dolled out liberally upon arrival and before leaving, the words 'i love you' spoken often and with a smile or lately, snapshots of any combination of the 9 of them sent to my phone via whatsapp, i never imagined my heart swelling to so large a size. i'm grateful to them for opening their home and their lives to me, for their endless encouragement in my miserably poor arabic skills and for giving me a reason to continue to practice them, for adding to the number of those i consider family by 9, with the promise of baby number 8 (who is girl number 7 and family member number 10!) in october.  more than anything, i'm grateful for this unexplainable love that bridges a myriad of divides, that i don't understand but don't have to, that is given to me freely and without reservation.

i was joking with them the other day that they were my birthday gift last year, as they arrived one day before i turned 29 last april. i can't imagine a better gift!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

african wax print quilt

i'm in the middle of several rather involved quilting projects lately, and sometimes i get bored with them. i put aside a sari quilt for a friend and the quilt i'm finally sewing for hubs and me to throw together this little african wax print quilt for a recently married friend. 

i stuck with a simple 5x5 inch square design because i really feel like the fabrics in this one speak for themselves. 10 columns by 13 rows and i've got a quick little lap quilt that i absolutely love. (i'm bad about keeping my own gift-secrets and so she has already seen the photographs. i think she rather likes it, too!)

some of these scraps came my way from a congolese refugee seamstress friend who taught me the swahili word for patchwork (which i promptly forgot) and who regularly opens her home to me and others. some came from my mother in law, who found them at her local goodwill (in north carolina of all places) and some she's been holding onto since she lived in kenya years ago. some came from the friend who the quilt is for on her trip to tanzania last summer, and some i bought from a woman from ghana who operates a shop on colfax here in aurora.

i love scrap quilts for the stories they tell, and this one has quite a few. stories of friends from far and wide coming together at dinner tables, eating mandazi, chappati and fufu, drinking tea thousands of miles from home. of years lived in refugee camps and the hope of families reunited. of a family relocated to kenya, learning to fry grasshoppers and hypnotize chickens and work with NGOS and governments. stories of dusty corners of africa, of miles traveled and years gone by.

maybe, just maybe i'll make another of these quilts to keep with the leftovers of the leftovers stashed in my closet.

please note the hilariously awesome v8 engine and sparkplug fabric mixed throughout this. i'm sad i didn't have any obama prints.

Monday, April 28, 2014

arches national park

once, when flying over utah to the west coast, i distinctly remember thinking that the whole state looked like the moon. of course, i've never flown over the moon and maybe mars would have been a better analogy, but that the whole place is a foreign looking, dry, martian landscape was re-confirmed several times throughout this trip.

it's funny, because i definitely thought several times during The Night That No One Slept that probably i wouldn't want to go back. but after several nights' sleep and a shower, i'm already thinking about what i'd like to see next time we go out there. 

moab, what a place. it gets under your skin- literally  (or maybe just gets under your fingernails literally) and figuratively.
friday, hubs and i played for the 'hiking is more fun than mountain biking' team and headed out with our friend emily to explore arches national park. we hiked up to delicate arch, by far the most photographed space in the park, and then spent several hours hiking around devil's garden. we were never once worried about plummeting face first off a cliff and breaking bones on an out of control mountain bike. i'd say we won friday.

while hiking the 'primitive trail' around devil's garden, often following cairns across rocks and through red sand, i definitely had the opportunity to demonstrate my fear of heights. it turns out when these park service folks say 'primitive', they aren't joking. we also noticed upon completion of our 6ish mile hike that the trail sign clearly stated that it's not a great option for people with a fear of heights. oops. but really, i'm glad we didn't see that warning until after we finished. it was rather nice to get away from the massive crowds, hike through the weird orange sandstone pinnacles, fins and, of course arches, and marvel at nature. i wouldn't have hiked it had i read that warning before we went, so i guess this is to say i'm thankful for our failure to read well the trail signs! (i'd do it all over again in a heartbeat, too.)

utah, we'll be back for you you weird, wily, beautiful beast.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

moab, utah

for the entirety of my residency in colorado, i have been under the impression that moab, utah is an 8 hour drive from denver. i'm not sure why i didn't google map check this several times over, but much to my pleasant surprise, it's just over 5 hours away.  hubs was able to put down his homework for the weekend and we headed further out west with our friends for an adventure in utah's wilderness, beauty and red dust.

we made the drive out at night, managing not to hit any cows on the free range, and pitched our tents underneath more stars than i have seen at one time in my entire life. we woke up friday morning surrounded by breathtaking red canyon walls next to a little creek.  sometimes i feel like camping is too much work- packing, driving, spending a weekend out in the dirt only to come home and hop right back into work, and yet every time we do it i'm grateful to be surrounded by so much beauty and to leave the internets and smart phones and traffic sounds far behind.

our first night was lovely- peaceful and quiet. we got up, made the sort of breakfast one can only make while car camping (bacon! sausage!), and half our group spent the day hiking through arches national park while the other half tackled a mountain biking trail. i feel incredibly grateful to live in such a beautiful corner of the world, and to be able to share in an adventure with friends who did all the work of planning, arranging and driving this trip required! 

our second night included strong, persistent wind gusts and blowing dust, and though i most definitely woke up ('woke up' is a generous term because it implies i was previously sleeping, a task proved rather impossible with wind howling through the canyon, stirring up red tornadoes i am tempted to term haboobs and covering everything in our tent in several inches of dust) at one point and declared to hubs that i was over moab and camping in general, i do have the sneaking suspicion that i'll be back. the little slice i've seen of the state of utah is unbelievably beautiful.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

happy holi!

so i know i'm about a year late on this, but i just pulled some photos off my real camera- which, for the record, is probably permanently covered in holi 'paint' (worth it!) and i wanted to share a few more from our celebration several weeks ago.

i still can't figure out why the whole world isn't onboard with this holiday, even if the clothes i wore this day are still in a plastic bag in a back corner of my closet where i left them immediately after arriving home.

annoyingly, these are uploaded in reverse chronological order and i should be packing for our first camping trip of the year (we leave tomorrow and the only food we have ready is a pre-bagged 1/2 lb of almonds...). priorities.

michelle and hari

pursu: the man, the myth, the legend. we owe our holi-day gratitude to this man.

ramu, who holds us together like glue with his wife's delightful momos.

loff, loff, loff.

amme took a break from writing her papers to play holi. best decision ever, i think.

trying to get photos of holi powder in action = my camera may never function the same. really, i'm fine with that.

ramu showing us what we are about to be covered in, literally from head to toe. (i think it took me a week and a half to get all of the purple powder from out of my ears.)

i am grateful for this celebration of spring. i am grateful for the hilarious fun of throwing pigment at each other, for laughter and purple teeth and sneaking up on people and smearing their faces any and every color imaginable. once again, i am thankful for my thoughtful and incredibly generous friends to put all of this together for us, for the food and the tea and letting us ride around in their cars looking like we got in a fight with rainbow brite.

thank you for indulging me once again in my love for holidays from a religion i do not practice. holi 2015, i already can't wait!
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