Saturday, September 24, 2016


My brother Glenn was here for a couple of days this week, stopping in on his way to a conference in Utah.

I always enjoy hearing about his experiences as an insurance claims adjuster handling big money bodily injury cases and his work as a social activist specializing in transgender issues.  He's been an active voice in Cincinnati, where he lives, for transgender rights, successfully pushing the city to extend health-insurance benefits to transgender employees and making "conversion therapy" illegal.

On Thursday we went out to dinner with our friends Ray and Paula, and then headed back home for some after dinner refreshments and tales of Glenn's work, both his career and his activism. It was a great visit.

I took Glenn up into the mountains and then through the town of Estes Park where we saw this huge elk.  It was my first elk sighting and I was very excited.

Here's part of his harem, who lay in the grass patiently waiting for him.

For Paul's Digital Arts class he had to do some self portraits.  I love this one he composed.  The background is from a photograph he had made previously in Photoshop.  He's holding his saxophone and displaying a deck of cards -- a reference to his love of cardistry, the art of card flourishing -- with his photo on the most visible card, which is, of course, a king.  I think it's pretty clever!

I have to tell you the story of this purple shirt.  

Paul plays in the school's Drum Line and for the school picture taking day the group decided to dress in purple, one of the school's colors.  He found this shirt on the Kohl's online site and asked me to go to Kohl's and buy it since he needed it quickly.   I went to Kohl's and after searching for a while found this one shirt and it happened to be in his size.  What luck!  Only one shirt left and it would fit Paul.  I was feeling pretty good about that and then the cashier rang it up.  The bill came to $5.25!   Talk about luck.

It's windy, sunny, and delightfully cool today, just perfect for making and eating apple crisp.  A friend left me some home-picked apples the other day and we made a fabulous crisp which Ben and I ate up right away.

On Thursday she left me some more and another crisp is in the oven now and smelling mighty good. But first we'll get out for a walk on this lovely day.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Spikey's Home Improvements

I told you about our home improvement projects yesterday but didn't mention that Spikey has been enjoying some changes in his habitat as well.   I found two rocks in the garden and moved them into his home.  I'd say he likes them, wouldn't you?  


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Home Improvement

A deer just walked up Rosehill Drive in front of our house!  You just never know what you'll see when you look out our windows. 

Yesterday I was sewing in my studio with all the windows open to let the beautiful weather inside. The elementary school across the street was having a fall festival with live music and games and the sights and sounds of kids playing and parents visiting made me nostalgic for the old days when Paul was younger and we enjoyed similar kinds of events together.  Ah, the teen years are quite different.   

Thinking back to those earlier times reminded me of how much my mother delighted in Paul. Yesterday marked the fifth year of her death so I've been thinking of her a lot this past week.  

Okay, so back to the topic at hand -- fall home improvement projects.  Here's a photo of our house taken in the early spring.  

The previous owners painted it basically all one color, which I don't hate but I don't love either.  We plan to repaint sometime in the next few years.  A few areas, like the balconies, needed more immediate attention and Ben has turned his good skills to scraping, priming, and repainting them and is just about done.   

But recently I felt that the front entrance needed some brightening up now, some color to enliven it during the winter months ahead.  

Working with our designer friend Lotus, we decided to paint the front door, the pediment, and the balusters and railings and to tile the concrete porch.  Ben was willing to tackle the paint job, Lotus put us on the waiting list for her wonderful tile guy, so all I needed to do was to work with Lotus to select the colors. 

Here's the initial selection of color possibilities.  The two colors on the left side of the paint chip strip show the colors on the house and the larger chips show the colors I liked.  Watch this spot and you'll see what we chose and how it turns out!

Did you notice the heart shaped bed of blooming tulips on the right front of the house photo?  It's pretty in bloom and when the tulips are done blooming they are succeeded by a perennial with  tall stalks and little purple flowers.  Sounds nice, yes?  But no, it is a real challenge to keep that bed looking decent and after a year of messing with it I knew it had to go.  A friendly gardener suggested that we take it out and plant a dwarf blue spruce in its place.   So the other day Ben began the job of digging up the bed and getting it ready for a small tree.  My job is to help pull out all, and I mean all, the deep spreading roots of that perennial. 

Here is a photo of the side and back yard taken last spring.   

The gray wooden thing on the right is a compost bin that met the side of the garage.  The wooden gate leads into the back yard which is fenced with simple wire fence good for keeping dogs in the yard.  This summer it became clear that the compost bin had reached the end of its usefulness and Ben and a neighbor tore it down.  That opened up the question of replacing the wire fence with something more attractive.   

We didn't want to block the view from the side yard towards College Avenue so we chose this lovely iron fence which is made right here in Boulder.  The iron units are hammered into the ground eliminating the need for post holes and the supplier was willing to do the installation for just a bit more than the cost of the fence so we're having him do the work.  

I'd wanted a fence between us and our back neighbor ever since we moved in.  Unlike the side where the iron fence will go, we didn't want to preserve the view.  The work of this fence would be to block the view and make the yard feel more private and enclosed, or as they say now, "like an outdoor room."

Initially we thought that Ben & Paul could do the job but soon learned that digging post holes in Colorado's rocky soil was hard work that even my strong husband didn't care to tackle. So in a month or so a crew will be out to do the work.  This is the type of fence we're putting in.

This captioned photo might help you imagine of what we plan for the yard.

It's always fun to have new projects underway.  I'll be sure to show you the "after" photographs!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Cool Day

 It rained all last night, something that hasn't happened around here in quite a while.  It was soothing to listen to the raindrops in the middle of the night, though I'd rather have been asleep!  We awoke to a surprisingly cold morning and had to close all the windows and I put on a warm sweater.  

The yard and garden loved the rain.

It's been a good day to get caught up on some quilting work.  I registered three of my quilts online for the Longmont Guild quilt show which is coming up in October and pieced together the September block for Leah Day's online Machine Quilting Block Party.   I decided to do a back-to-school theme and really liked how it turned out.  Finally used some wonderful fabrics I've had for fifteen or so years.  


Fall-like weather is predicted for the rest of the week, though we should have sunshine again by Thursday.  I'm glad, since the sun on the flowers blooming right now is so striking.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Ice Dying

I spent a fun morning this past week doing some ice dying with my quilting friend, Becky.  She's done this type of fabric dying before and had all the supplies we needed and a nice big space in which to work, so I was very happy that she invited me.

We used cotton that had been prepared for dying and cut into pieces about 18 x 24".  We scrunched them up or folded them so they would fit into small plastic containers.  Then we covered each fabric with lots of ice cubes that had been whacked into smaller pieces.  Finally we dotted the ice with different colors of powdered fabric dye.  (The Dharma Trading Company, which sells dyes, had a good "how to" tutorial here.) 


In some cases we put one piece of fabric in a tall plastic container, covered it with ice, dotted it with dye and then layered another fabric on top and repeated the process.  

All that only took about 90 minutes so we had a nice relaxing lunch out on Becky's lovely deck and then I packed up my containers carefully into my car and headed home.  I set my containers on a table in the garage and left them there for a day while the ice all melted and the dye soaked into the fabrics.  Then I took everything out of the containers and threw it all --fabric and dye --into the washing machine for two cold water rinses.  I didn't have time to finish up by doing a hot water wash, so I just hung the pieces up and smiled!  They looked so festive and interesting!

This morning I washed them in hot water with Sythropol, a special "after wash" for newly dyed fabric.

Here are some of the pieces washed, dried, pressed, and folded.   I love how they turned out.

Here's a closer look at a couple which were scrunched up so as the dyes melted the colors randomly appeared across the fabric.

These two fabrics were folded and the dyes then made lines.

As much as I liked the full pieces, I also liked how you could focus in on a section and see something wonderful.  For example, this larger piece....

contains this section (about 4x4").

And this larger piece...

contains this smaller section (also about 4x4") 

Which leaves the question of which pieces to cut into smaller parts and which ones to keep whole?

Time will tell!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Going On A Moose Hunt

I finally saw a moose! Seven, to be exact.  For the two years we've been here I've heard about moose and elk up in the Indian Peaks near us and wanted to see them in the wild.  But I've haven't been up there much and didn't see any when I did get up there.  

But yesterday as we hiked up, up, up to Blue Lake which is in the Brainard Lake region of the Indian Peaks and we saw three big moose near one of the lakes we passed.  

Here's the scene from down our trail.  

Here's a closer look.

And here's a cropped in view.

And that, my friends, is as close as we got.

But, on the ride up to Brainard Lake, on Highway 72 about a mile to the turn off, four big bull moose came plodding down the road in the lane heading towards us!  As they approached our car they got spooked and broke into a run, hurrying across the highway in front of our car and into the woods on our right.  Now that was exciting!

One of the bulls had blood on its antlers, very similar to the moose in this photograph by Jeff Mitton for the local Boulder newspaper, The Daily Camera.  

Here's Jeff's description of why the antlers get so nasty looking:

During summer, antlers are covered with velvet, a layer of skin with a dense layer of short fur. The skin is highly vascularized to bring oxygen and nutrients to the bone, which grows quickly from spring through summer. But in the early fall, the skin dries and the antlers cease growing. The moose rub their antlers against branches and small trees, scraping the velvet off. This moose had scraped off some but not all of the velvet, so his antlers were ragged and grisly.  (Moose in the Willows, The Daily Camera, 9/17/2010) 

If you can imagine a big moose with "grisly" antlers like these running with three other big bull moose right by your car, you'll know why I was so thrilled. 

Blue Lake was blue and beautiful. 


  Ben got to try out the super cool water filter he will use on his Nepal trek in October, and it was good.

Besides the seven moose we got to see another creature of the wild, the ever popular striped chipmunk.   

Now to see some elk.  It's said that they roam the streets in Estes Park during the fall, so a car trip up there is on my list!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Living Vicariously

One of the great things about the Internet is experiencing other people's lives through their blogs. I thought of this yesterday as I helped a friend prepare to write a blog about her upcoming stay in Turin, Italy.  Although I have no plans to go to Europe any time soon it will be treat to read all about her time in Turin and see her excellent photos as she provides a day by day account of her adventure.  

Armchair travel is frequently available through a blog I enjoy titled [quilt] while you're ahead. The writer lives in England and is currently recounting her trip to Italy.  The other day she wrote an exciting  description of how she was able to see both the current pope and his predecessor.    You can read that post here: Tale of Two Popes 

Catholic News Agency 

Sometimes blogs will put you in the middle of a current event.  I'm following the amazing account of the flooding in Baton Rouge this month provided by a blogger whose house was severely damaged.   Her vivid posts provide a griping "you are there" picture of how unexpected the floods were and how much they are disrupting people's lives.   Her blog is Quilts and Dogs and I suggest you start on August 11 and read forward to today.  Her writing will make this disaster become real to you.

Coast Guard photo

Apart from describing travel or specific events,  blogs often provide a window into a life that's simply very different than your own.  There are blogs that revolve around lives in a city, or on a sailboat, or on a flower farm, but one I especially enjoy is about the life of a stay-at-home Mom.  This is true fantasy for me, the idea of happily using ones talents and love to raise a big family without ever working outside the home.  

Let me be clear; this isn't the life I wanted and I made a conscious decision not to live it, but my, it is a pleasure to read about it.  I do like a happy blog and although the writer definitely has opinions and expresses them, she focuses on the daily pleasures of her loving husband, beautiful home,  and large extended family.  I'm sure it isn't all so perfect, but I'm so glad she never tells us about the problems she has with her lovely children and husband.   You can find a good example of her posts here:  Memories On Clover Lane

Well, my own life has its problems at times but today (so far) everything is going great.  I got to sleep until 7:30 since this is the "late start" day at Paul's school, and have cleaned up the kitchen, vacuumed the first floor,  chatted with my sister on the phone, and washed and dried the lovely fabric I bought yesterday.   Now Ben & I are going for a quick walk before heading out for some errands and lunch.  

Living vicariously is a fun diversion, but every day life is pretty good, too.