Sunday, August 28, 2016

Around Here

Around here sunflowers are blooming everywhere, looking so colorful and carefree.  On some streets the sidewalks are lined with them.  I love these happy flowers and used them as the focus of this month's block in my Machine Quilting Block Party quilt.  

This fellow popped out of the sewer the other day when a rainstorm caught him and his family down under the street.  It seems that when the heavy rain comes down the critters down in the sewers come up.  Usually Ben and I are not out on the streets in a storm but we got caught as we were walking home from lunch.  This is only my third raccoon sighting though they apparently live among us, as do foxes (I've seen two), bears (zero), coyote (one), and mountain lions (zero). 

Have you heard that VW is offering to buy back the cars affected by the company's emissions scandal?  Well, I'm one of cheated customers.   I got my buy back offer the other day and was soon out test driving the Honda CR-V.  It's a big bigger than my Golf, has all wheel drive --so good in the snow-- and is fun and smooth to drive.  But it only comes in automatic and I'd miss my stick shift.  And as nice as the extra interior space is when a tall person like Paul is riding in the car, those extra inches on the exterior would make parking it a tad more tricky in the tight Boulder parking lots.   Luckily I have several months to decide what to do.  If the emissions fix doesn't ruin the zippy ride, I may just keep my Golf and put winter tires on it for additional snow traction.

Speaking of Paul, he was thrilled the the band Too Many Zooz was in town Friday night to play at a theater a few blocks from our house.  The main attraction for Paul was the baritone sax player, who has come up with an interesting sound.  You can hear it if you click on the first recording on this site.  Since it was a 10:00 PM show near a college campus Ben and I went with him and while the crowd in the theater was "a good bunch," as Ben said,  it was party time outside on the streets at 11:30.   It was the end of the first week of school and everyone was celebrating.  Could I just say that the clothes young women wear nowadays distracts me and I'm not a young buck.  To which Paul just rolls his eyes and says "Oh, Mom."

And again speaking of Paul, I had to laugh when I read this in a magazine in the doctor's office this week.  So true.

Gus That Handsome Dog spent a few days with us a week or so ago.  He's getting to be quite a member of the household!  Do you think he looks comfortable?

I was up at 10,000 feet this morning hiking with a friend and it's quite cool up there now.  I had to hunt up my Smartwool hiking shirt.  Winter is coming!

I took these photos while I was out.  Seemed like there was texture everywhere I looked today.

 I'm looking forward to a mostly quiet week with temperatures in the 80's.  I think the hot days are over!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Cute Little Crab

After the busy days of last week it's good to have some time to regroup, get organized, tackle my long "to do" list and also have some fun.   

Yesterday I dug out my studio and spent some time working on a little piece of art for my Maryland friend Lee Anna.  While thinking of Lee Anna I realized that I never posted photos of the wonderful birthday present she made me... a hand stitched cute little Maryland crab.   

I love his black eyes, the red beads on his shell, and the seagrass he's hiding in.

He's not only cute but he's the cover of a needle holder,  a handy little book of felt pages perfect for storing your hand and machine sewing needles.  You can hand write a label on each page with the type of needle you're storing on it, but I'm not sure yet if I'll do that.

The edges are beaded, can you see them?

It's a lovely gift.  Thank you, Lee Anna!  

Monday, August 22, 2016

Sometimes It's Best Not to Know

Yesterday Ben & I hiked a trail up Flagstaff Mountain which was a loop of about three miles.  Ben was ready for more and wanted to go to the summit but I don't like that part of the trail and suggested that we pick up the Amphitheater Trail in Chautauqua, a trail I'd never been on.  It was only a half mile but that trail about did me in!  Here's a description of it:

"...climbs steeply from the Gregory Canyon trailhead to the Saddle Rock is made up almost exclusively of waterbeds and stone steps.  It will have your legs burning in no time as it makes is way up to a junction with Saddle Rock Trail."   

In other words, it was one set of steep stone staircases after another.  I kept going because it had been my idea and I was sure that each set of steps had to be the last.  But no, gosh darn it, there's another, and another, and another.  

But yes, finally, finally, we reached the junction with the Saddle Rock trail and headed down.  I do love down! In all we hiked over six miles and about half of that was up.

I would never have hiked the Amphitheater Trail if I'd read the description first.  Sometimes it's best not to know. 

The rest of the day was relaxing and pleasant.  We had neighbors over for a drink in the evening and enjoyed getting to know them better as the cool evening descended.   It was so chilly this morning that we had to close the patio door while we had coffee.

Friday, August 19, 2016


It was the first day of school at Boulder High today which meant that the day began much earlier than it has lately.  I got up at 6:15 am to make sure Paul was up.  Sure enough he had slept through his 6:00 alarm having been up past midnight packing his backpack, studying his schedule, and feeling nervous about his new teachers.   The latter surprised me since every single one of them has a reputation for being "fabulous."   Lucky kid, yes?  

And he got an "off" period right before lunch.  Whoohoo!  80 minutes on your own in the middle of the school day; how great is that? His parents are less enthusiastic but we're hopeful he will use the time well.   And --yes, there's more -- he got into the coveted Digital Design class, which is usually filled with Seniors.   So he was a happy camper this morning, though a bit bleary eyed.  

I like that school starts on Friday since it gives everyone a chance to get into the new routine before school seriously starts on Monday.  

I was very glad to see this Friday roll around as it's been a very busy week.  Monday I met a friend for an early hike, then did Meals on Wheels, and in the evening went to the Front Range Contemporary Quilters meeting to hear and see a presentation by Deidre Adams.  I spent much of the day on Tuesday and Wednesday at Boulder High's Back to School Check-in Day giving out information about the Instrumental Music Parents Association, of which I'm this year's chair.  For those of you who haven't seen the inside of a high school lately, here's a photo of part of the cafeteria set up for check-in.  Can you tell the school's colors are purple and gold?  

Yesterday I went to the monthly meeting of the quilt guild here in Boulder where I worked hard setting up and taking down the library and generally doing librarian things, had fun socializing (I'm starting to know people!), and enjoyed hearing the speaker, Tamara Leberer, and looking at her work.  In the evening we went to a neighbor's for dinner.

After such busy days I was looking forward to Friday with its almost empty calendar.  Once Paul got off to school I went to pilates class and then puttered around making some order from the chaos of the week.  Around noon Ben and I went for long hike up in Chautauqua.  A storm was rolling in and the sky was quite dramatic.

In the photo below we're looking a bit more to the east.  All the red roofs are at the CU-Boulder campus.  Classes start up again on Monday and students moved back in this week -- more busy activity.  

The cold front has brought us some nice cool weather.  The forecasted highs this weekend are only in the upper 70's and everyone says that that hot days are over.  In any case, there are signs that fall is right around the corner. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Point and Shoot

Isn't this a pretty photograph?  It's taken with an iPhone 6s camera, which has been my camera of choice this summer.   I saw these crab apples on a recent walk on the Bobolink Trail with That Handsome Dog Gus but the sun was so bright and my sunglasses were working so hard that when I looked at the screen I couldn't see anything except darkness.  I decided to take a chance and pushed the big white button anyway.  I was quite surprised later to see how good an image I got.

Here's another photo from that hike.  To take this I looked at the grasshopper and then held the iPhone up near it, touched the dark screen to set the focus, and pushed the button.  Again, because of my sunglasses and the bright sun, I couldn't see anything on the screen.   When I brought this image into PhotoShop I did crop it quite a bit but otherwise made no adjustments.

Amazing results from a true "point and shoot" camera.

This photo of Gus was taken on that same hike.  This time I could at least see Gus since he was so big and light colored.  I love how the camera caught the action of the water.  

You can see a similar action here  This was taken at our neighbor's party Saturday night out on their lovely deck.  We were surprised that Fetcher had apparently been invited as well!  He hadn't told us, but there he was socializing and having fun.  One of the children is shown here trying to stop the kitty from leaving.   This was cropped also, but otherwise no adjustments were made.   

 Another "point and shoot" of the party, showing one of the host's toys --the incredible pizza oven.  In both this and the above photo, I could see what I was shooting but had to shoot very quickly.  Again, the results come from the quality of the camera and not the photographer's skill.

Two photos from other recent hikes, showing off the camera's work.

This morning I was up on Flagstaff Mountain hiking and spotted turkey vultures hunkered down in two tall pines.  I've never seen them up there and had to try a shot or two even though I was looking straight into the sun.  Another case of shooting blindly with nothing but a dark screen in front of me.  And more amazing results, yes?

I couldn't resist messing around in Photoshop with these images to make them more like the scenes from Alfred Hitchcock's creep movie, The Birds.

This is my favorite.

I love snapshot photography and studied the rise of amateur photography and the development of hand-held film based cameras for my Masters in American Studies degree.  

When Kodak sold the first Brownie camera way back in 1900 the marketing slogan was "You push the button, we do the rest," which was a reference to the fact that users sent the entire camera into a lab which removed the film processed the negatives, and returned the reloaded camera and the printed photographs to the owner.  

 Images taken with Brownies are fun to look at but aren't of the quality and technical capabilities that we're used to nowadays.   When I'm using my iPhone 6s I feel like the "point and shoot" promise has been fully realized, and I love it.   

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Very Good Birthday

My birthday party on Saturday was great fun with good food and good friends, one of which remembered that I love German Chocolate cake.  What a surprise when she showed up with one!  I don't know which I liked better, the lobster rolls or the cake; everything was wonderful. 

On Sunday I sent to see Paul's band play at a party in a house up one of the nearby canyons.   I enjoyed hearing them play and tried mighty hard to take some decent photos, but to no avail.  The one below is the best I could do.  

One of the songs they do is Streetlight Manifesto's "Somewhere in the Between" which has this chorus:  

So you were born, and that was a good day
Someday you'll die
And that is a shame
But somewhere in the between was a life of which we all dream
And nothing and no one will ever take that away.

If you're lucky that just about sums up life, don't you think?

That Handsome Dog Gus was at my birthday party and is now spending a few days with us.  He is wants to make friends with Fetcher and is doing his best to not rush at the cat or otherwise be too imposing since this is, after all, Fetcher's home.  Good dog, Gus!

Fetcher, on the other hand, is in the doghouse with us since he didn't come home last night until well after midnight.  Whatever he did all night sure tired him out because he was still sleeping in my studio at noon, making himself comfortable on the ironing board.  Ben says Fetcher left us a mouse on the driveway, but if he thinks that makes up for coming home so late, he is wrong!  Bad Fetcher.  Neither Ben nor I can sleep well if Fetcher isn't home, so I sure hope he comes in by bedtime tonight. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Thoughts Before a Birthday Party

On Monday I turn sixty-five.  The very thought is pretty amazing and is worthy of wise reflections  about the passing of time and the pleasures and pains of living. 

 But tonight is my birthday party and we have been busy getting ready so I don't feel very wise,  just excited and happy to be seeing my friends and enjoying a fun dinner of lobster rolls, corn salad, pesto pasta, and pie a la mode for dessert. 

I wanted to show you this nice photo of Ben's father with two of his three sons and all of his grandchildren.  We sure had a good visit with him and Ben's brother's family.

Did you know that yesterday was National Oyster Day?  Well, it was and we went down to Jax's Seafood to eat free oysters and enjoy happy hour.  We had a good time. 

It has been a lovely day with temperatures in the high 70's to low 80's and sunshine mixed with clouds.  Now that we have the deck all set up for entertaining it appears likely that it may rain, but you never know around here.  We'll have fun in any case.  I'll tell you all about it, complete with photos, I hope, later.  For now I'd better go make myself look ready for a party instead of someone who just spent several hours cooking and cleaning!