Monday, November 6, 2017

Sunday Snapshots

photography, cat, flowers, azalea, lantana, Florida, fall

  A sleepless night of crocheting led to a few finished projects. (5 hats!) I should have been spending the day working on writing a pattern and weaving in a few leftover loose ends, but a feeble attempt at sleep ended in a brain that's not fit for counting. I went outside to clear my mind in the mild fall air instead. Something caught my eye that made me go back in for the camera... And what was supposed to be "one quick picture" later, I have a few snapshots to share: 

  A guest plant has made a surprise visit to Dad's yard... A little wild lantana (shrub verbena) popped up next to the driveway! As a child, I thought these flowers were extra-special because one bloom is like a miniature bouquet of multicolored flowers all on one stalk. It was difficult to pick these "magical" blossoms because of their many sharp thorns, so most were lucky to be left alone to grow.

  Back in those days, I would find a mix of the multicolored variety along with solid yellow ones. Little did I know how special those bright yellow flowers were... A Florida native, l. depressa is now on the endangered list of plants that are getting harder to find. It's quite common to spot l. camara (the multicolored ones) growing along the sides of roads here in central Florida, and apparently they'll work on taking over your yard as well.

flowers, azalea, salmon/orange

  Already having the camera out, I decided to get some shots of Dad's azaleas. This salmon/orange variety makes a beautiful specimen for practicing photography.

flowers, photography, azaleas, white

  The same flowers in white made for a challenge! I found it difficult to find the right settings to avoid washing out the picture, and a mild breeze picked up while I was trying. Originally I adjusted for a lower ISO and longer shutter speed, but kept getting a blurry picture due to the wind. Eventually I got an almost-perfect shot with a higher speed of 1/2500 and the ISO at 6400.

flower, photography, azaleas, pink, variegated

  The same setting got me an awesome shot of this pink variety without having to worry about blurry blossoms blowing in the breeze.

photography, flowers, azalea, bud, blossom

  And I tried my hand at a closeup of this little bud, but found the photo just didn't have much aesthetic appeal for me. I got bored with the azaleas and started to review my photos, and that's when I noticed a little green bug had been hanging out on the lantana in some of the best shots. I wanted to try again without the photo-bomber, so I went back to the driveway...

photography, flowers, lantana, l. camara

  The auto-rotate function on the camera got me again! I leaned over too far trying to check for that bug and got a vertical picture. I should have been paying more attention... I have no idea what could have distracted me so much...

photography, cat, black, Jump Steady

   Oh, yeah, maybe it's that... "ME!!!" said Jump Steady... "You're supposed to be taking pictures of ME!!!" Obviously, any further photos of the lantana were forgotten as soon as the cats realized the camera was out...

photography, cat, black, Jump Steady

  Of course, as soon as the cats had my attention they had to act like I was bothering them. With the photo shoot interrupted, Jump Steady felt it was a good time to go take a nap. I went back to see if there were any more interesting blossoms on the azaleas I might have missed...

photography, Florida, toad, southern

  And found something interesting, indeed! Another guest has invaded the yard, making a home in the mulch under the azaleas. Aw, this little guy makes a cool picture, all camouflaged in his not-so-hidden burrow... 

photography, Florida, toad, southern

  But Mr. Toad wasn't so happy that I was bothering him. He started to ooze some stuff out of his warts, and I don't speak Toad but I'm pretty sure that means "leave me alone". It's also gross. I'm almost positive that this is just the common native southern toad which is harmless, but I'm no expert... Okay, it's time to leave Mr. Toad alone.

  The day progressed without any other photo-worthy moments. We went down to the old house to pack boxes of what can be salvaged, but came back empty-handed in the end. Starting in the kitchen, I tried to empty the cabinets... My cookie sheets: Covered in mold. Baking pans: Mold. Oven mitts, towels, ice cube trays, etc.: Mold, mold, and mold. I'm starting to think anything left behind is a total loss. It puts Rip and I both in a sour mood and makes rummaging through the remains a depressing task.

photography, long exposure, night photos, stars

  The sun set an hour earlier today, revealing a beautiful moon that's just one day past full... You can bet I was back outside with the camera for those night shots I've been working on. Again I had trouble capturing the perfect picture of what I'm envisioning, so I abandoned my attempts at getting the moon in the photo. Except for that issue, I think I'm getting familiar enough with the settings and I'm ready to try a scene other than Dad's trees.

photography, long exposure, nature, oak, moss

  Still, I love these shots for what they are... It might not be much of a scene to look at in a glance, but it's the feeling you get if your brain catches what's "wrong" with the pictures. I like things that have a creepy/beautiful style more than something that's just "pretty".

  Perhaps this photography will lead me in another direction after all... But that doesn't mean it will take me away from crocheting! I'm hoping my newfound hobby helps to feed my creativity; maybe it will just fuel my uncertainty in the end. All I know now is that I have a choice between going back out with the camera or weaving in loose ends on all those hats I've been making. For once, I'm actually looking forward to picking up the yarn needle.

Happy Crocheting!
PS - Although the pattern is still lost and may never be found, I finally finished that scarf.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Loose Ends

crochet, scarf, yarn tails, chain stitch, woven

  Keeping up with friends isn't easy in my current situation. I want so badly to have a binge day of catching up on everyone's blogs and browsing new patterns! Until I can find the time to do that again, I've made a goal to try to post something here once a week to keep me motivated... Well, this past week sure has been "something", but not much crochet is getting finished.

  I started a scarf during Hurricane Irma. It was meant to be a free pattern, but there's too many loose ends to deal with right now. (No, no... Not in the scarf, but in life itself.) As we watched the water rise around us, while we listened to the wind rip the shingles off Dad's roof, and the whole time wondered if we would have anything to return to, I crocheted to keep calm. When the cleanup began after the storm, the project suffered some neglect.
crochet, scarf, WIP, work in progress, chain stitch, woven

  I began other projects, and this scarf became buried under a pile of half-finished things. The good news is that I found the project with its hook still attached. Progress resumes amid frustration with the other work I started. The bad news... If I wrote down a pattern, I can't find it now! My yarn is in tangled piles, those other projects just won't come together the way I want, and I feel like I just need to finish something or give it up already. So instead of becoming irritated with counting more stitches in another unfinished item, I decided to complete the scarf with a round of plain double crochet:

crochet, scarf, WIP, work in progress, double crochet

  I like it, though I feel like that plain border is a form of "giving up". But perhaps it's all those loose ends in life that are aggravating me the most... As I sit on Dad's couch which is covered in the Big Huge Afghan (which produced the scraps that are making this scarf), I can look at some of my best work and know I'm no failure. I just feel like I should be doing something else right now.

crochet, scarf, afghan, WIP, work in progress, yarn scraps

  It's always good to be able to understand what is really bothering you, and to differentiate between it and the smaller issues that build under the weight of the big problem. I've come to a point where I'm almost ready to give up on crochet, but unfinished projects are not the real cause of all this stress! 

  Applying for help with FEMA has been a roller coaster ride. The low-interest loan we qualified for through the program is a start, but I think their amount is a joke if we're supposed to use it to rebuild our lives. Any chance I've had at a free day has been spent meeting another inspector at the house that's an hour away from where we're staying, or filling out more forms to get that loan. There's still our home full of our moldy belongings to clean out, the car to sell, and cats to find homes for. The one thing that hasn't changed is the constant pile of Rip's laundry needing to be done. No, it's not my crochet that is causing this meltdown in my brain... It's too many roadblocks stopping life from progressing that turns one missed stitch into a major disaster in my mind.

  To decompress, I've turned to my old hobby of photography. I've wanted to experiment with long-exposure shots in the dark ever since getting the new camera. I have also been meaning to try out a better photo editing program, plus expand this blog into more than just crochet... So I finally did a little of it all:

photography, photo editing, harvest moon, long exposure, night sky

  On the bright side, I'm learning I have a talent for taking some interesting photos in complete darkness. What's not so great is my skill to make them better with that new editing program. Above, I managed to turn a plain picture of the harvest moon into an amateur's artsy painting. Below, I edited a different photo of that same moon into... Something.

photography, photo editing, harvest moon, long exposure, night sky

  Those were both done before I realized that I was trying too hard, attempting to take a long-exposure shot of a light source ( the moon) in the dark. What I needed was a simple, balanced, dark picture to get what I wanted...

photography, photo editing, stars, long exposure, night sky

  And BOOM! I have that awesome shot that looks like the stars are out in the daytime. This is the kind of photography that can get me as excited as a new yarn at the craft store. (And psst... That last one isn't edited for looks; just a re-size and a logo.) So perhaps I need to feed my other talents for a while before I can get back to working seriously on my crochet. Taking pictures doesn't require me to keep count, untangle, or record stitches. It just feels good to look through the lens and capture my vision of the world. But first, there's some loose ends to deal with...

crochet, WIP, work in progress, scarf, yarn tails, chain stitch, woven

  Seriously, this time I mean those yarn ends! This morning we woke up to lows in the upper 30's. I know I do this every year, but... Don't I live in Florida??? Where did summer go? I want it back; it's too cold!!! Okay, I'll stop complaining and go finish that scarf now. I will need it if I'm going to be out at night taking more of those awesome pictures.

Happy Crocheting!

PS - In the meantime, I can stick to snapping shots of this amazing view every time I have to go back to the old house. 😃
sunset, lake, pictures, photography

Thursday, October 19, 2017

From the Stash #3: Salvaging

  As I continue to pick up the pieces of life after Irma, I'm also trying to organize my yarn stash into something that takes up less room at Dad's. Buried in the bottoms of bins and hidden from sight in bags, I'm starting to find some long-neglected projects...

  What we have here are the pieces of what was supposed to be a scarf... You can catch a glimpse of its potential in this post from 2015. After the out-of-control cat sabotaged the project, I continued my efforts to finish it. Shortly after that I published another progress post where you can tell I'm about to lose my mind... And that's around the time the project was abandoned.

  Today this UFO (unfinished object) was rediscovered in a bag at the bottom of a bin, and my first thought was to throw it all in the trash. There is so much work that we still have to do with moving what can be salvaged from the house, and I just don't have the energy to put this mess together.

 But a different thought hit me just then... We've lost so much to Irma! Do I really have to throw this project away? My idea would replace one of the little things I've lost, if only it would work... So then I found myself straightening out these rings.

  Once I squeezed them all onto my hand, I ran a piece of yarn through the middle of the loops. I wouldn't say it was easy to do, but it only took me a minute. A little help from another hand would have made the process go even faster.

  And then I tied that yarn into a big ugly knot, again wishing I had another hand. I didn't succeed in getting the knot as tight as I hoped. I think it will still work, anyway.

  It only took a minute to crochet a chain with the yarn still attached to the knot. A quick slip stitch to create a loop, and then I quickly wove the end towards the knot. That's where I tied it into another big ugly knot... Usually I would be against tying knots in my work, but it doesn't matter this time.

  Those pieces of a scarf that was never completed have now become a new bath pouf. It looks weird, but it feels so soft and... Pouf-y. It's much softer than the pile of store-bought mesh that was left behind in my moldy house. But how long will the acrylic yarn last? Hmm. I say if it holds up for a week, then I'm glad I got some use out of it before it goes in the trash. The pieces were about to go there anyway, right?

  I'm really happy to have a new pouf, silly as that might seem. Though we grabbed our valuables before the storm, so many "little" things got left behind and are now contaminated with deadly spores. It's things like this that I keep adding up in my head every time I find myself needing an item. It isn't worth getting sick trying to save a $2 ball of plastic mesh that's full of mold, but maybe it is worth trying to save less than $2 of yarn from the trash.

Happy Crocheting!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Color Controversies

  The internet has been buzzing about the latest color controversy, the Pink/White/Teal/Grey Shoe. If you're wondering how these things happen, it's all in the lighting and camera settings of a photo. I'm not here to debate the colors with you... I'm just bringing you the yarn-y version of this little trick.

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  If you thought by that first picture that the yarn is lavender and mauve, then perhaps you should have a look at a different photo:

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  Now, I think with the next picture you can see there's something off in the coloring. But if you weren't already aware that we are playing games here, you might think that yarn is purple and white:

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  So, exactly what color is it???

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  Pink and purple?

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  Or grey and blue???

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  Does your mind start to adjust to the differences in white balance with each new look?

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  Or are you just as confused as some were over that famous dress that caused arguments around workplace water coolers?

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  And what if I throw in another choice in shades of pale lavender?

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  Or possibly one that looks almost brown?

color, controversy, crochet, Lion Brand, Pink and White shoe, Shawl in a Ball, Yarn

  Well, regardless of what colors you think this yarn is, at least I may have distracted you from realizing that I bought more yarn. But I have an excuse because it's a new yarn to me, and I wanted to share it with you. We'll see what it becomes...

crochet, Pink and White shoe, baby blanket, Charisma, Loops & Threads, Yarn

  But not until I'm done with the pattern for the original reason I went yarn shopping: I started a blanket for Rip van Winkle's grand-baby, but decided to add some contrast to this one-color project. I almost - almost - made it out with only what I needed, then saw the Shawl in a Ball by Lion Brand. I couldn't resist and I needed the yarn therapy after Irma. It's good to finally be crocheting again. The yarn hoarding? Maybe not so much...

Happy Crocheting!

PS - Never mind the four bins I've stored in Dad's garage... It's not really yarn hoarding if I only bought one ball, is it?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A House - GrannySpiration Challenge

We thought we got lucky at first, but we found out we were wrong when we went back with some flashlights and more time to inspect the house... 

  Those who follow the blog and have read my recent updates know I was one of many who lost their home to Hurricane Irma. This obviously makes it difficult to keep up with things like the GrannySpiration Challenge. It's been fun participating in the challenge and a great opportunity to work with other talented bloggers/crocheters, but I have no idea where my life will be going from here. I don't know if I can continue to commit to this monthly linkup and giveaway, so I'm choosing to give it up to make time to concentrate on where to go next... Meaning both mentally and literally finding a new house. For the month of October, for my last GrannySpiration Challenge, and to commemorate what was once my home, I'm sharing one last simple pattern: A house - My House.

challenge, crochet, free pattern, giveaway, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, house, Hurricane Irma, linkup, triangle

Don't forget to check out the links after the pattern to visit everyone in the Challenge and see what they've created! And as always, you can visit EyeLoveKnots to enter the giveaway and share your granny-inspired projects at the linkup.

  I hope you can understand that this pattern is not meant to be a big pity-party for myself... Inspiration for my project came from Sigrid of KatKatKatoen. I remembered a story she shared of both good and hard times, and wanted to recreate her project to lift my spirits. Sigrid has crocheted many bright, happy-looking houses, but in the end I felt like I couldn't make myself something so colorful when my home sits dark, empty, and full of mold.

  This project is quite pitiful compared to her fun and lighthearted houses... But please keep in mind that it is NOT meant to be so sad after all! As I sat staring at a tangle of black scrap yarn (yes, I saved the yarn), the idea suddenly hit me: This can be sort of like a funeral for my home. (I know... How is that not depressing, right?) This is my way of leaving it all behind; to move on to a time and place where I will be able to get back to happy crocheting. For now, this black house full of holes represents what I have left, and I look forward to crocheting one of Sigrid's happy homes when I find one of my own.

  You could crochet this pattern in color for a less-depressing motif to use for a housewarming gift... Wouldn't it be cute attached as a tag to a basket of goodies? I also could see it sewn to a pillow, towel topper, or as part of the gift basket itself - A crocheted basket, of course. 😉 See, I've still got the ideas, just not the energy to make them happen yet. I think it has a lot more potential if created by someone in a better mood than me!

Skill level:

Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn
I used some scrap of Caron One Pound in Black - Total weight: Less than 0.5 oz/ 14 g
Crochet hook size H/8 - 5 mm
Yarn needle

Not important

Chain 2 at beginning of rows does not count as a stitch.

Gauge is not important... You can use a different hook size for a larger or smaller house, but it's also easy to add or subtract rows to change size (see notes in instructions).

(American terms)
Double crochet
Slip stitch

*The pattern begins with the triangle that creates the roof of the house. See the note after Row 3 if working more/less rows for the size of your house.

challenge, crochet, free pattern, giveaway, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, house, Hurricane Irma, linkup, triangle

Begin with a magic circle, or chain-3 and join into a loop with a slip stitch.

Row 1:
Chain 2. (3 double crochet, 2 chain, 3 double crochet) in beginning loop.
*If using a magic circle, you may wish to wait before tightening your loop. Stitches will be worked into this space again when creating the wall of the house. (You could go ahead and tighten it a little if you wish to work over your tail - just leave yourself enough space for your hook!)

Row 2:
Chain 2, turn. 3 double crochet in the first stitch.
Chain 1. (3 double crochet, 2 chain, 3 double crochet) in the corner space/point of triangle.
Chain 1, make 3 double crochet in the last stitch.

Row 3:
Chain 2, turn. 3 double crochet in the first stitch.
(1 chain, 3 double crochet) in the next chain-1 space.
(3 double crochet, 2 chain, 3 double crochet) in the corner chain-2 space.
(1 chain, 3 double crochet) in the next chain-1 space.
**2 double crochet in the last space.
Chain 2, slip stitch in the same space.**

If a larger triangle is desired, end Row 3 with 3 double crochet. 
Continue working more rows in the same manner: 3 double crochet in the first stitch; (1 chain, 3 double crochet) in each chain-1 space, (3 double crochet, 2 chain, 3 double crochet) in the point/chain-2 space, and so on...
Work from ** to ** in the last stitch of the final row of your triangle.

Moving on to the "wall" of the house, we'll now work across the bottom of the triangle...

challenge, crochet, free pattern, giveaway, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, house, Hurricane Irma, linkup, triangle

Row 4:
Chain 2, DO NOT turn.
Make 2 double crochet in the same space as the slip stitch. 
*Do not work into the post-spaces of the stitches across the side. Instead, work into the same spaces that contain the sets of double crochet stitches.
2 double crochet in the next space, 2 double crochet in the beginning loop, 2 double crochet in the next space, and 2 double crochet in the last space.

All following rows:
Chain 2, turn.
1 double crochet in the first stitch, and each stitch across.
(10 double crochet total)

I worked four rows this way before finishing. 
Bind off, weave in ends.

challenge, crochet, free pattern, giveaway, granny square, Granny-Spiration Challenge 2017, house, Hurricane Irma, linkup, triangle

Happy Crocheting!

Whether on wheels or the ground, in a valley or on a hill
May your house always stand around you, strong and still.
Should nature ever destroy your place to dwell,
Remember this one thing, and remember it well:
Possessions and walls will never fill your heart,
But a smile on your face is the way to stay smart.
A house is just a house, and you make your home...
Memories stay with you wherever you roam.

  Of course it's hard to replace sentimental things like family photos or that memento given to you by a special person, but things are just things in the end. And it can be difficult to go from having your own home to moving back into a room at your dad's house at the age of 33, which I feel is well past the time to become independent from your parents... To be alive and safe - even if you cry yourself to sleep every night because you don't know what else to do right now and you wish you could just go talk to your dog's grave like usual - It's part of being alive. Life will get better someday. Until then, I hope you will continue to share my patterns and tutorials while I'm unable to create more... It's the biggest way you can help to support me at this time. 💗

  It's been a great experience to participate in the GrannySpiration Challenge and a wonderful opportunity to make new friends. This may be the end of the Challenge for me, but there are some wonderful bloggers who will continue to share their lovely patterns and inspiration with the world... Please don't forget to support them, too!

PS - To add insult to injury, I've had an irritating spammer hitting the blog's comment section nonstop while I'm unable to tend to it as I usually would... As a result, I've enabled comment moderation. So if you leave a comment, expect it to disappear! It will not be visible until I have time to approve it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Mayflower Lace Stitch Diagram (pattern update)

chart, crochet, diagram, flower, free pattern, graph, Hailstone stitch, lace stitch, Love Knot, Mayflower Lace Scarf, Mayflower Lace stitch, modified long single crochet, Solomon's Knot

  I thought it would be fun to re-work an old design of mine, the Mayflower Lace scarf, in a different yarn and hook size than originally used. I came across a tutorial I had forgotten about making when I pulled up the pattern... I immediately felt like deleting the post because it's so horrible, but I think I'll leave it up just in case you want to check out the old way I made stitch charts. 😳 It seems embarrassingly unprofessional to me now, but it worked for those that needed help back then. It may even still be helpful to see the geometric pattern without all the symbols, but... Now that I've found Stitch Fiddle, it's time to make this graph the right way.

  I also realized that the tutorial linked in the pattern and graph posts no longer exist, so the whole thing is a mess! I was working on rewriting the pattern and recreating the tutorial with Caron Cotton Cakes, and I even tried to make the pattern a bit easier by working in between the stitches instead of directly into them. I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue with what I started because I wasn't quite happy with how the stitch looked with all the changes... Then Hurricane Irma hit us and my work got tossed in bags and bins.

Caron Cotton Cakes, chart, crochet, diagram, flower, free pattern, graph, Hailstone stitch, lace stitch, Love knot, Mayflower Lace Scarf, Mayflower Lace stitch, modified long single crochet, Solomon's knot

  Until I find it again and make up my mind, I hope you can enjoy the better chart! This diagram may be a bit confusing at first glance because I created a new symbol to represent the modified stitch... If you need additional help, I did find my original tutorial still available in video form (it's just a slideshow of the picture tutorial). That is a step-by-step lesson for the whole project, so just skip ahead to about 3:00 to see how to work the modified stitch. You can also avoid using the modified stitch and work a regular long single crochet in its place, which will make the stitches a bit more lacy. Find the original written pattern for the whole scarf here.

Click to enlarge diagram:
chart, crochet, diagram, flower, free pattern, graph, lace stitch, Love knot, Mayflower Lace Scarf, Mayflower Lace stitch, Solomon's knot, Hailstone stitch, modified long single crochet

chart, crochet, diagram, flower, free pattern, graph, lace stitch, Love knot, Mayflower Lace Scarf, Mayflower Lace stitch, Solomon's knot, Hailstone stitch, modified long single crochet

  Skipping that modified stitch might make the pattern easier, but I just love the extra texture added by the post-like stitch. Made in worsted weight yarn, it all comes together to make something both lacy and bulky at the same time.

chart, crochet, diagram, flower, free pattern, graph, Hailstone stitch, Love Knot, Mayflower Lace Scarf, Mayflower Lace stitch, modified long single crochet, Solomon's Knot

  If I was to work the stitch in a lighter weight yarn, I think I would like to use the regular long single crochet to create an extra-delicate fabric. Are you interested in experimenting with this stitch in different yarns? I'd love it if you share a photo of your work on Crochet is the Way's Facebook page.

Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Help Needed

  Although that picture of Michaels finally being open might inspire thoughts of craft supplies (most importantly, yarn), I am not here to tell you of my newest purchase. I'm here because I'm sad, angry, and begging for help from the rest of the world. No... Not help just for me, but help for the entire county where I live. Please share this story. We are damaged after Hurricane Irma and we have been forgotten.

  Before the storm: September 9th. The emptiest I've ever seen a Walmart in my life. That's because it was closed as Irma began to roll through Florida...

  September 10th: Irma begins rolling through central Florida in earnest, and we watch the water rise from Dad's back porch in the last chances to be outside before it really got serious.

  September 11th: A day when many Americans were remembering those lost in the terror attacks. In Highlands County, it was forgotten by most as we emerged from our safety zones to view a world that was once again changed forever.

  99% of the county without power, and no FEMA in sight. Why? They tell us it's because FEMA was never scheduled to be here... The hurricane wasn't predicted to hit the area so hard.

  And while the news talked of Tampa, the Florida Keys, Miami, and other lesser-hit areas, Highlands County sat glued to radios in hopes of getting some information. Cleanup began without help from the government, but signs can be seen hung in places around town: "FEMA, where are you?"

  A week later, and still many without power. The famous Harder Hall sits abandoned and now damaged, but is still a favorite view of mine. (I just love abandoned buildings.) The streetlights on the main highway are still out. I do my best to snap as many pictures as possible while helping Rip keep an eye out for debris and dumb drivers.

    Highlands County gets brief mentions on the news stations, like with this area. A group of horses had to be rescued from chest-deep water. The stables are off to the left, behind those trees. But what's across the highway that got no mention whatsoever?...

  Oh, it's just a trailer park where every house is under water. No big story for the Tampa news, right? I mean, people that live in one-bedroom trailers in a tiny little park probably have plenty of resources and money to rebuild, right???

  I'm not asking you to make donations. I want you to help share their stories. These are the people that have been forgotten when they need help the most. These are the people the news doesn't want to cover, because maybe their homes aren't pretty enough for the evening highlights.

  They are the people that can look across the highway and know that the water still isn't going away fast enough...

  And with flood levels still being so high, they're probably praying for their lives with each passing rain cloud.

  Closer to civilization and on the main highway, things are getting back to something-like-normal. Taco Bell is finally open for those who can get there...

  And the waves on Lake Jackson have calmed to gentle ripples. Some might drive down the main road through town and see it as a beautiful sight.

  But if you take the time to get off the highway (unlike the local news), you'll still find high waters and the people who are living in them.

  There are places that are getting better...

  And then there are places where rivers have formed in drainage ditches.

  Some spots have obviously been a problem for a while. I'm not sure if the local residents have taken to dumping material here to keep the water out, or if it was a poor attempt by the county itself...

  But as you drive by, you can see that the attempts have failed.

  The water has been rushing over the rubble and biting at the banks. The erosion is getting dangerously close to washing out the road.

  Near that road, more houses can be found. Homes with no electricity. No power to cool refrigerators to keep food. No way to run an air conditioner in the humid, 90+ degree heat of Florida. Perhaps they can run a fan if they're luck to have a generator, but not all do.

  Crews may be at work, but there are still trees down on power lines. There are lines down in roads. And still people are living in their homes, cleaning up what they can in the hot Florida sun.

  Evidence of cleanup is all over the county. Piles of brush and debris line the sides of roads every direction you turn. Yet still, the garbage company refuses to pick up more than once a week. Locals are able to make extra money if they have a truck and trailer, subcontracting for the county by doing part of the cleanup.

  Some places look fine at first, until you turn a corner to find another tree on a line...

  And other places are cleaned up and repaired, but still have no power due to damage in nearby locations.

  What once were big, beautiful trees have now become hazards on the side of the road. One could think "it's just a tree", but we see more than that... Limbs close to the road are causing drivers to swerve into oncoming traffic. Debris gets flung up by tires to land on the windshield of the vehicle behind. It's not "just a tree". It's a danger.

  In middle-class neighborhoods, tarps cover roofs and ruined belongings sit out for the trash...

  But in low-class areas, trees are on houses. Five days later, there are no tarps here... Only neighbors helping as much as they can to clean up while taking turns cooling off in the shade. It may be true that some of them are on government benefits. Certain people say they don't deserve more help because of it. But I'd like to know how they're supposed to fix this on their own when they're already low income and can't afford generators, cleanup equipment, or the expense of having to buy prepared food in a pinch. Yet they are out there cleaning up as much as they can with their bare hands, waiting for help that still hasn't come.

  Gas is still in short supply in certain areas. Fuel pumps have been damaged, and some places don't have electricity to run the station. Those who live in these locations away from the main highway aren't out of the woods yet... Some don't have enough gas to drive to an open station, and it's miles (and miles) to walk to fill a can.

  This is an area that has been known to flood for a long time. We were all under the impression that the county was working on a solution. I suppose they haven't found it yet.

  But around the corner, somebody is working on another problem. The road home is closed. I have to go the long way around. So, let's look at some more of how Highlands County is "recovering"...

  Homes with water up to their doors...

  Water still over roads and in yards...

  And places that are a little scary to drive through because you can't see if there is still a road under that water until you drive through it.

  Some places are getting better...

  But the whole town stinks like stagnant water and rotting garbage.

  Cleanup efforts are stronger in higher-income neighborhoods.

  And some places almost look normal again despite the piles of brush waiting to be collected.

  On the new way "home", bright skies and sunny fields could almost make me smile.

  Turning a corner on a back road, you could barely tell a hurricane ever went through here. Nothing but a few piles of pine needles gathering along the edges of the street...

  But that is not the way to my house, because this is what my ceiling looks like after Hurricane Irma destroyed my home.

  With the first quick inspection, we saw a roof still on the house and standing walls - More than we expected to find when we returned.

  As I return every day to feed the stray cats that are left behind, I find more damage we missed in our excitement of seeing the mobile home still standing.

  Every day, the mold gets darker and creeps farther across the ceiling. As I was loading the photos for this post, my dad was watching the news. They were featuring a story about how homeowners were returning to the Florida Keys to find mold in their homes... I can sympathize. But I can't understand why the news isn't concerned about covering the same story in an area closer to home. The same thing is happening to homeowners here, but nobody seems to care.

  Hidden behind a storage cabinet in the bathroom, Irma's winds pushed in my walls. Sure, they were ugly walls in an old mobile home, but they were my ugly walls in my home. I'm lucky the wall is still there and my things aren't blown across the neighborhood. There are people in this town that can't say the same. Yet we only get a short mention during the news... Power is expected to be restored... Soon.

  The bedroom wall that we never got to finish... Mold.

  The ceiling in the kitchen that is falling in: Mold.

  The window I used to love to look out of to watch the birds: Mold. And what's left of my greenhouse, destroyed.

  You're probably starting to get the point by now, right? My floors that were supposed to be finished next month: Mold.

  And mold. More mold. As the "local" news is covering a few sights that can be seen from the highway and moving on to the more-important Florida Keys' mold problem, I wonder why they act like we don't have the same problem in Highlands County. It makes me angry.

  I still count myself lucky that my house doesn't look like the travel trailer at the back of our yard. It didn't make it, just like our shed. But, hey! We did find part of that shed after all. The door landed about 400 feet away from the house, and part of three walls - Or maybe it's the roof and two walls, we can't even tell because it's just a pile of flattened metal - Is about 100 feet away from that. We think the rest might be in the neighbor's pond.

  We can't live in our home due to contamination. We don't even know how much of our things we can salvage from it without getting sick. And with the foundation blocks skewed, I'm not sure if it's safe to try. Still today, eight days later, there is no power in the neighborhood. But we have a place to stay at Dad's, and hot food to eat.

  There are people camping in their cars in parking lots here. We need FEMA, just like the signs around town say. We need the news to acknowledge we exist with more than a brief mention of when electricity will be restored. WE NEED HELP. And I don't mean me, I mean the whole area and all the people in it that were affected by Irma. Please share this story any way you can, as many ways as you can to get the word out. With not much money left and no home to return to myself, this is the only thing I can do to get help for those that need it.

Thank You!