Monday, July 18, 2016

Quilt Talk: Of the Earth

I made a big push yesterday to finish the piece I started in the workshop by quilter Jacquie Gering which I took back in June.  The workshop was called "Lines" and it was about lines in both the design and quilting of a quilt.  To teach this she used a pattern for her small work (measuring about 30"x20") called "Rising Sun."  Here's Jacquie's piece: 

Here's mine:

 My version didn't turn out to be a sun; it wanted to be a sort of Yucca plant, something from the earth. I loved Jacquie's teaching style and was really struck by one of her quilting principles: " Love what you make; make what you love." So I went with what I love.

Right now Boulder is full of summer perennials at the height of their bloom, and I've been quite struck by things that come from the earth.  So I started my "line" piece with earth colors and wasn't too surprised when I saw where it was going.

My bottom border was made by finding some scraps of old piecing which I made probably back in the mid-90's.  Back then I used what I think of as canyon fabrics in a table runner which I pieced in an improvisational manner.  Jacquie is one of the founders of the Modern Quilt Guild and improvisational piecing, that is, piecing done freeform without a pattern, is one of the hallmarks of the modern quilt movement.  However, it has been around for some time as shown by the ad hoc piecing in the quilts made by the quilters of Gee's Bend.   So when I ran across these scraps I thought that finishing them up into a border would be an homage to Jacquie's style, which has been my style as well, at least at times.

When it came time to quilt the piece I decided not to copy Jacquie's "sun" quilting.  Instead I did a few rays from the center to show how the plant was growing towards the sun, but then used one of the decorative stitches on my wonderful machine to remind me of the curly white plumes that are seen on the narrow stemmed Yucca, as shown in this photo which I found on the Internet.

I liked how my machines' decorative stitch is an abstract version of this part of the plant.  Here's a detail of my stitching.

I'm quite pleased with the finished piece.  I've named it "Of the Earth."  It's a good reminder for me of how much I enjoyed Jacquie's workshop and her slide show lecture.  You can learn more about Jacquie here.   

As for why I made a big push to finish this up?  Well, one of the three local quilting guilds I belong to  is having its annual picnic on Thursday at which all the pieces the members have made as a result of a guild sponsored workshop are displayed.   I wanted to participate, and that meant I had to get this piece finished!  Sometimes its good to have deadline. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

What I Could Have Written

I could have written about how Ben and his friend Kent climbed Mt. Sherman, one of Colorado's "14ers" the other day, which is a pretty big feat. 

Or how the Cold Springs fire is now out and everyone who was evacuated is returning home.  Thank you, Firefighters!

I could have told you about how I walked 17, 000 steps yesterday (or seven miles) starting in the morning with the Homestead hike with its beautiful wildflowers... 

...and ending with a walk up to Chautauqua to attend a Colorado Music Festival concert where I enjoyed a dramatic view of the Flatirons as night fell.  

I might have written about how the Pokemon Go app has hit here in Boulder and how it has gotten Paul to walk around the CU campus the past few days hunting Pokemon.  Pretty much anything that gets a kid outside exercising is okay with me!

Or how I'm working on the quilt I started in the Jacquie Gering workshop two weeks ago, trying to get it ready to hang at an event next week.

Or how Ben set his mind to trouble shooting our malfunctioning sprinkler system and cleverly got several non working ones to work again.  

Yeah, Ben!

But instead I spent much of this hot but breezy and beautiful day watching Spikey enjoy the out of doors and making a film about it.   Spikes and I both had a great time and I hope you enjoy the film!

Sunday, July 10, 2016


Yesterday I went to a quilting bee in Longmont, which is a twenty minute drive northeast of here.  As I drove back in the late afternoon I was surprised to see a big plume of smoke rising up from the mountains to the west.  At home I learned that a small fire was burning up near Nederland, the first mountain town to our west, about ten miles away.  Some 200 acres had been destroyed and many people had been evacuated from their mountain homes.  

Of course we knew about the threat of mountain fires before we moved here.  And since arriving here two years ago we've heard dramatic stories of past fires, especially the 2010 Four Mile Canyon fire, the flames of which could be seen from Boulder at night.  In the ten days that it burned it destroyed 169 homes, including that of a close friend of one of our friends.   Here's a photo of it taken from Boulder.    

But since we've lived here there had been no fires of any importance, and I assumed this one would be short lived. 

But at home I read the news and realized that "zero containment" had been achieved.   And when we headed off to bed the wind from the fire shifted and smoke was blown across Boulder from the fire above it.  It stung my eyes and made it hard for me to sleep.  But at least I was safe in my home, and not tossing and turning in the evacuation center in Nederland. 

This morning the news was more serious.  The wind which had blown the smoke towards us had also blown the fire southeast.  The road from Magnolia Drive, near the top of Boulder Canyon, up to Nederland, was closed so that the helicopters ferrying water from Barker Reservoir near Nederland could work safely.  Pre-evacuation orders had also been issued for the area.  I had been to parties and done hikes off of Magnolia Drive, so this was getting personal!  

This afternoon I escaped the 95+ degree heat and strong winds by going to see Finding Dory in Longmont with friends.  On the way home I took these photos of the smoke from the fire, which I learned had now spread to 300+ areas, still had zero containment, and had forced the evacuation of almost 2,000 people, including the area around Magnolia Drive.  (Pets and livestock are also being evacuated.)  

These pictures were taken about twenty miles from the fire.  Our house is about eleven miles from the fire. 

When I got home I learned that much Boulder Canyon had been closed, extending as far down as the east entrance, which is in Boulder itself.   

Ben had spent the day rock climbing in Boulder Canyon in an area above Boulder Falls, relatively close to Magnolia Drive, and he not only smelled the smoke but could see the sky turning from blue to orange to black throughout the day.  

When he and his climbing partner made their way back to their car they found an evacuation notice on it.  As they drove down the Canyon they saw a caravan of three horse trailers making their way up the road, presumably to evacuate horses from the nearby ranches.  

This fire --now named The Cold Springs Fire -- isn't a wildfire.  Two men from Alabama camping on private property near Nederland were arrested late this afternoon for not property tending their campfire at the "ad hoc" campsite on private land.

Before the fire began my niece Jennifer and her family stopped by for a visit on their drive home to Virginia from Las Vegas, where they saw her husband's family.  We had lovely hour or so together...

...and Paul enjoyed visiting with his cousins.  

While their visit was too short I was so glad they went out of their way to see us.  And I'm glad they got in and out of town before the fire.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Denver Botanic Gardens


What a great way to spend a lovely summer day.  There's always something beautiful to see at the Denver Botanic Gardens. 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

At Home

We are enjoying being home and catching up on things around here.  Although it was plenty hot while we were away our gardens are doing well, thanks to our sprinkler system and some selective watering by friends.

We were quite surprised to find that the cherry tree which we had assumed was ornamental was actually bearing fruit.  

Yesterday Paul and I picked all the the ripe cherries and I plan to make a little sour cherry pie later today. 

And the cactus by the corner is flowering, the first time in the two years we've been here, I believe. 

After a day of caterwauling his complaints about being boarded at the vet's for over a week Fetcher  calmed down and is again roaming the yard and receiving strokes and compliments from all who stop to fuss over him as they walk by.

Paul got all four wisdom teeth extracted Thursday and was quite the trooper.  Today is supposed to be "the worst day" for pain, but so far so good.  He bought himself four new decks of cool playing cards and is practicing his "cardistry," which is fancy shuffling and card handling.  If you watch a few seconds of this video you'll get the idea.  I had no idea this was even a thing; thank heavens I have a teenager to keep me just a little bit in the know!  

Yesterday was Ben and my thirty-eighth wedding anniversary.   We celebrated with dinner on the deck and gave each other cards, which is about as extravagant as we get for this occasion.  I thought it was pretty wonderful that after all these years together we know just what type of cards each of us likes.  I want something pretty and artsy with a handwritten note and Ben likes something funny and a bit sentimental.  And that's just what we each got.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Road Trip!

When we decided to go to Ohio for Jim's birthday we also decided to drive instead of fly.  We had the time and the car and Ben and I have always enjoyed making a road trip together.  So over the past eight days we've about 2500 or so miles to and from Columbus, Ohio, with a stopover both on the outgoing and the return trip to visit Ben's father in Indianapolis.  

Can you visualize the U.S. map in your mind and name the six states we were in?  

They are Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and, finally, Ohio. 

Do you imagine us driving pell mell across all these states, putting in ten to five teen hours behind the wheel each day?  We've done that in the past, but not this time.  Paul assured us he gets car sick and would have a miserable time.  So to make things easier on him (and on us; after all we are older now) we spaced out the drive and drove between four and eight hours each day.  

Paul not only survived the trip but seemed to enjoy it.  It's good to get away from home sometimes and it was certainly fun for him to see Jim and all the family who gathered for the big birthday bash.  He also liked seeing Granddad and Nancy, his wife, again.  

And he really liked meeting Granddad's new dog, Chloe.   This little miniature Shih Tzu pup weighs only three pounds at four months old and is a bundle of joy.  

Check out this video and I bet you'll smile, if not laugh out loud.   (If it doesn't play, try this address )

Our visits with Ben's Dad and Nancy were relaxing and fun.    

Nancy is a traditional quilter and I enjoyed seeing her quilts, most of which were made by hand and all of which were very well executed.   Here is a cat quilt that she finished recently, all appliqued and quilted by hand.

On the return trip we spend an evening in downtown St. Louis.

Our hotel had an excellent view of the Gateway Arch.

We had dinner at the Broadway Oyster Bar, a fabulous New Orleans style restaurant within walking distance of our hotel that we found on Trip Advisor.

As a matter of fact we ate very well on our trip, thanks to Trip Advisor recommendations.  Who would have though that there would be an amazingly good Thai restaurant a brief drive from our hotel in suburban St. Louis?  In the old days, you'd only know this from guidebooks or from talking with the locals.  Now that info is a click away.

Which makes me think of all the ways road trips are so much easier nowadays.  Cars routinely have air conditioning and zoom along at 80 miles per hour.  They also have satellite radios to keep us entertained and of course we have our games, movies, music, and books on our cell phones and tablets to keep us amused when we're tired of looking out the window.  And let's give a "Hooray!" for our GPS directions.  How did we navigate before GPS became ubiquitous?

We arrived home yesterday afternoon, happy to have enjoyed the trip and equally happy to be home.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Happy Birthday, Jim!

My big brother Jim is celebrating his 70th birthday today.  Happy birthday, Jim! This t-shirt was from his son and it says "Born in 1946; Limited edition." 

His birthday bash was held last weekend at his house in Ohio and I'm glad to say that Ben and Paul and I were all there.  It was a lot of fun to see my brothers and my sister again. I think the last time we were all together was three years ago.  

That's my brother Glenn on the right, then Jean, then Jim, and then me. 

Many of my extended family were also there and it was great to see them. 

We all love watching the little ones having fun, like cute Clarke here who is making faces with his father's face.

And we love seeing the ones who were once little and are now growing up, like inquisitive Reed who was fascinated by our tales of bobcats in Colorado.

And what a treat it was to meet this charmer, my grand-nephew Owen, who will soon be one year old. 

I'm quite a fan of my sister-in-law, Kathy, here in the blue shirt, who is the mother of five of my nieces and nephews.  I've known her since she was eighteen, can you imagine?  We're shown here with Kathy's daughter Amy and four of Kathy's grandchildren.

Jim and Kathy were great hosts and Kathy even got Captain America to drop by and wish Jim a Happy Birthday. 

 Jean brought Jim a pan of my mother's much loved homemade fudge and then surprised the rest of us with little packages of it to take home.  I've already had three pieces!

And if all that wasn't enough I finally got my 2016 Mother's Day photo.  Thanks to Paul for posing and to Amy for taking the picture!

Jim is a big fan of my blog and one of the reasons I write it.  Have a great day, Jim!