People Are Like Elk


I’m sure you’re well familiar with the current news headlines and world events: refugees, war, hatred, taxation, bombings, pollution, Donald Trump’s ridiculous hair…. The list goes on and on.

But what you might not be too familiar with are the population dymanics of one of the largest deer species in North America, the Elk. (Note, the moose is the largest.) Elk (Cervus elaphus) play a fascinating role in our ecosystem.

They are large ungulates that eat a lot. They eat plants at an astonishing rate, including some of their favorites, aspen and willow.

And I have this theory: people are like elk.

You see, elk were designed to be part of a larger ecosystem. They aren’t the top of the food chain, but when there is no top predator to keep the elk population in check, they eat everything in sight, leaving little food for smaller mammals. Those other species then suffer.

We Homo sapiens are just another species in the grand scheme of things. We may think we are the top of the food chain, but there is so much in our world that we either cannot control or mess up horribly. So much of our behavior backfires on the general pattern of (our) species existence.

We are quickly sliding down a slope to extinction. At least extinction of the life we humans know. Throughout the last 100-150 years, here in North America alone, we have caused two key phenomena (among many, these are the two I am choosing to mention here) that have forever altered the continent: the almost total extinction of the bison and the permanent damaging of the continent’s natural hydrology.

The removal of bison not only aided in one of the largest acts of genocide in world history, but it actually changed the soil quality of the interior of the continent.

Hydrology can be thought of as a fancy term for the earth’s water system and how it works. It should be obvious how polluted and/or drained our water system is becoming. Do some reading on the Ogallala Aquifer. Or Coldwater Creek in St. Louis County, Missouri. And if those two situations don’t scare you enough, acquaint yourself with the Colorado River and its tributaries. Then read up on the history of water rights in the west or pollution in the east.

We have done this to ourselves, folks. We may think we’re the top of the food chain, but we are slowly killing off our very own existence.

Yes, science and research can help us. I believe we should be investing in more scientific research. But we need to take a healthy look at ourselves and see the bigger picture. We need each other, and we need every single natural resource around us. Those resources are finite, at least in the span of several generations, so use them well.


**Want reading lists of good articles on elk, bison and water? I’ll post them sometime soon.


The Truth Behind Black Friday…

The Writers’ Circle on Facebook gave us the following writing prompt a couple of days ago:

You are the only person that knows the truth about Black Friday and you know it must be stopped this year. You have 24 hours to stop this annual shopping spree!

What is the secret behind Black Friday and what is your plan to stop it?

The truth about Black Friday is that it is just one more in a long string of events used to subjugate most of the population of the United States.

Who is the puppet master of this great mind control experiment?

The few richest men and women in the world. They want you to NEED the cheap plastic crap and over-processed everything they push at you in TV ads. They want you to feel like you need so many of XYZ products in order to feel pretty, loved and part of society.

But what most people fail to realize is that, by buying into this capitalist, consumerist frenzy, you are giving up that part of you which makes you unique. You are giving up your identity, your skills, your creativity, and your sense of self worth. By spending money on corporate-made things you are giving up on your community. You are giving up the opportunity to learn a trade, use a life skill to make or build something you need everyday. You are making yourself a helpless slave to the rich elite. Who, by the way, need you so they can keep making easy money. But here’s the catch: they need you to remain uninformed, skill-less, without the ability to make your own clothes, grow your own food, or think for yourself.

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” So says Lady Liberty, right?

Indeed, the machine seems to be creating the huddled masses. The plan to stop the mind control? Learn a new skill. Support the artisans and craftsmen in your community who actually make the clothing and food you need – if, indeed, you choose not to do for yourself. That would be the ultimate derailment.


I love looking out over a snowy wilderness bathed in the pink light of winter. The diamond dust sparkling on the ground.


Rocky Mountain National Park.

So it’s no wonder that I incorporate snowflakes into some of my fair isle knitting patterns. When you take the time to design and make your own garments, why not incorporate your favorite images? My designs are unique to me; if you know me, you can look at a piece I made and see a representation of me.

A few days ago, on my Mountain Woolies feeds on Facebook and Instagram, I posted the following picture:


This is a pair of Snowflake (fingerless) Wristwarmers which I knitted for myself a few years ago. They have worn well and keep me warm in cold offices. I really love fingerless gloves because the keep me warm while still giving me the mobility to type and work.

Tonight I started on a pair of wristwarmers for an old college friend. I think I am going to publish this pattern soon, along with another wintery pattern. I really like this design and color scheme, and I made a bit of progress on the new pair:


I hope you like them as much as I do. I’ll post a picture when the new pair is finished.

If you like what you see, you might enjoy photos of my other recent projects. You can look me up on Instagram @mountainwoolies,  and Facebook at MountainWoolies.

The Rebel With Blue Hair

“It’s about something that’s bigger than me, or any single act of legislation. This is about a matter that should be of the highest importance to every American: my hair.” ~Elle Woods, Legally Blonde II

While that bold statement certainly made fictional Congressmen squint in confusion, it’s truth is beyond doubt: my hair is important.

Ok, so I’m NOT the girl who ‘gets her hair did’ every few weeks. Actually, I’m lucky if I get my hair cut twice a year. I’ve never dyed my hair, and I’ve only had highlights put in once. (I also lived without indoor plumbing in various cabins in Alaska for 25 months, but that’s another story.)

I’m just happy if my hair stays out of my face. Beyond that, I’m fairly apathetic.

Until the last couple of weeks.

Having stereotypes shoved down my throat for the last year has made me a very stressed and angry person. And in two months, I’m moving back to a situation where I can be myself.


But here’s the kicker: I have this evil streak, this devil’s advocate part to my personality that needs to be let loose. It has been pent up for the past 12 months, in the fear that if I showed my real personality, I would get in trouble. Texas, at least here in the Panhandle, is easily the most closed society in which I have ever lived. I’m scared to tell people I am NOT Baptist, I wasn’t a teenage mother, and I don’t eat red meat.

So when I move back to the real world in January, I’m cutting my hair and dying part of it blue. I just need to make the statement that I am free.

To that end, you should care about my hair.


30 Day Writing Challenge — Day 30: Something You’re Looking Forward To

What a coincidence. It’s funny that today is the last day of this challenge for me and the topic is making me look into the future.

So Jen, what happened today?

I was given a tentative job offer. I want to believe I am coming out of this horrid fog, into a bright sunny meadow of wild flowers.

The last year has had a few good moments and a few new friends, but I have had to deal with a two nasty bullies as work -both of whom are entirely inept at their actual duties but thoroughly successful at pulling the proverbial wool over their supervisor’s eyes, a bunch of men that only speak Texas (or ‘Bama) Redneck, and a job that absolutely cannot be left at the office. My shoulders and back are killing me, TMJ has overtaken the left side of my mouth/jaws, I have gained at least fifteen pounds, and I have spent more time than imaginable cleaning up other peoples’s messes and failures.

All the while, apparently, I am supposed to be happy and sweet about it. After all, this Conservative Texas! My place is to make coffee and answer the mens’ phones! Why wouldn’t that make me happy?

Interesting that the job I interviewed for a year ago was supposed to be very different than this. A coworker has the exact same experience; she is convinced we were lied to about the jobs we accepted here.

False advertising.

So today, I found myself grateful that I had done well enough at my previous job that they would want me back. And with a step increase, no less.

That is what I am currently looking forward to: a future back in Colorado. And a supervisor who does her work, does said work well, and just lets me be. I am looking forward to seeing numerous old friends. I am looking forward to grocery stores that don’t provide alters to the Almighty Beef. Yarn stores. (That should need no explanation.)

I am not super excited about the cost of living in Denver or the traffic, but I am going to find a way to get over these things. I have to.

Because I have been on the other side of that fence. The grass is definitely not greener.

So. Today was day #30 of this writing challenge. I felt less than inspired by a few of the topics, although yesterday was obviously inspired.  😉 I feel like this little writing discipline has given me a little boost of energy to go forth and pursue my creative goals.

To top it all off, I heard from a couple of old friends today, and although we are still miles apart right now, I think I am starting to feel connected again to the world.

Thanks to everyone who read my daily ramblings. I think I am going to keep writing, this time about a few topics of my choosing: my passions. Feel free to leave me a comment if you like.  🙂

30 Day Writing Challenge — Day 29: The Night of Your 21st Birthday

With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore…

‘Twas the night before Finals, when all through the house
Not a creature was partying, not even a mouse;
The study guides were place on the table with care,
In hopes that Jen would see them there;

The student was no where near her bed,
While visions of top grades danced in her head;
And friends in their fun, but I in my thinking cap,
Had not settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the sofa to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a Happy Birthday! sign, with no one near.

With a little bit of color and glitter, so funky and sick,
I knew in a moment it was from Girly Chick.
More gaudy than faux jewels, those letters they came,
And sparkled, and shouted, and showed off my name;

“Now, J! now, E! now, N and N!
On, I! on F! on, E and R!”
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
The glitter it floated away over all!

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the specks they flew,
With the wind full of dust and sparkles too!

And then, in a twinkling, I saw on the porch
The flickering and fleeting light from each little torch.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Across the porch Girly Chick came with a bound.

She was dressed all in sweats, from her head to her foot,
And her clothes were all glittered with sparkles and soot;
A bundle of snacks she had flung on her back,
And she looked like a peddler just opening her pack.

Her eyes — how they twinkled! her dimples how merry!
Her cheeks were like roses, her nose like a cherry!
Her droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And her frosty cloud of breath was as white as the snow;

The tip of her tongue she held tight in her teeth,
As she tried to open her bag from beneath;
She had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when she laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

She was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw her, in spite of myself;
A wink of her eye and a twist of her head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

She spoke not a word, but went straight to her work,
And spread out the snacks; then turned with a jerk,
And laying her finger aside of her nose,
And giving a nod, the chocolate candies for me she chose;

She threw the bag at me, to her driver gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard her exclaim, ere she drove out of sight,

My 21st birthday was spent studying for finals in college. Yeah, Dad always told me I was the boring child.

30 Days Writing Challenge — Day 28: The Word/Phrase You Use Constantly

When in doubt of what to say, use a code word.

A good code word not only carries multiple meanings but is ordinary enough so as not to arouse attention. It rolls easily off the tongue and is not interesting enough to make people question you.

But here’s the catch: you must not let on that you are using a code word. You must be able to keep a straight face and pass off your code word, all the while, entertaining yourself with the double meanings and sly snark of your code word.

I believe I have found just the code. Every day, my little code word comes in handy. It helps me keep from laughing out loud at people. It keeps me from overtly yawning at people. Best of all, it makes me sound like I am interested.

“Oh, that’s interesting!”

“What an interesting choice of clothing.”

“He’s an interesting person to work with. Most of his coworkers wonder how he’s managed to stay alive this long.”

See what I did there? Isn’t that interesting?

I’m always full of double meanings. It makes life interesting.