Tuesday, May 14, 2019

It's Spring!

It's finally reliably warm enough that we have to open the windows, and that means that the sounds of spring can be heard all day and into the evening.  The first birds start their chirping about 5:30 a.m, followed by the noise of the newspaper landing on the sidewalks, and bikes whirling down our street.  Spring is not a time for sleeping late; too much noise from outside and too many things to do.   We're our own gardeners, so you know we're busy weeding, pruning, mowing, and planting.  It's okay since these activities will slow to a grind in the next month or so as the summer heat sets in.  Spring is the time for all this garden busyness, and we like the results.  

Spring is also busy because it brings many celebrations like Mother's Day and birthdays.  For Mother's Day I wanted Ben to take a photo of me and Paul together.  Paul was cooperative, Ben was a good photographer, and the only problem was choosing among the several excellent shots.  What do you think?     

The actual celebration was at one of Dawn and my favorite restaurants, Oak at Fourteenth Street.  We left the kids at home and just enjoyed being with the men who made us mothers.  

Of course I thought of my own mother on Mother's Day.  Among other things, I think she'd be tickled with how plush our lawn is!  My Mom was a great grass grower.

 I gave myself two gifts for the big day.  The first was a 4-week Saturday morning class called "Very Beginning Watercolor.  I was especially attracted to the word very.   All I really know about painting is that I like the feel of a brush in my hands.  And that I need to learn a lot more about how to shade things in art.  The very first class we worked on exactly that.  I thought my shading on these pears was okay, but check out the little shadow at the bottom right side.  They all need work, though the green is the best, I think. 

The second was a new outdoor chair that would be perfect for reading and snoozing on the patio.  I'm sitting in it right now as dusk begins to fall, swiveling and rocking not only the chair but the hammock back and forth in the most soothing way.  It took me a while to find it, but I'm very happy that I did.    

Yesterday Ben took me for a hike up to the part of Amphitheater Rock that's used for rock climbing.  A couple of weekends ago he had volunteered a day of his time to improve the trail that rock climbers use to get up and down to the part of the cliffs where they climb, and he wanted to show me where he had been working.  Do you see the washed out gully on the right of this photo?  That's the old trail.  Ben, on the left is on the new, improved trail.

Ben helped move the rocks and gravel that were used to make these nifty stairs. 

Takes a strong person to do all that hauling!  Way to go, Ben!

We have a beautiful week in store for us, followed by falling temps and showers through the weekend and then down to the 60's again for next week.  Still, we all agree that spring is here for good now. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

A Little Catching Up

We again have a forecast for snow this week, 1-3 inches on Thursday.  We'll see.  The 6+ inches forecasted the end of April turned into just a couple of inches, very wet and pretty and gone within hours.  It was around just long enough to get some nice photos of the tulips with a snowy background.   

Since then we've been having a lovely spring. 

This goose decided to make her nest in a flower box up on a bridge railing.  Why, I don't know, as it's a very busy bridge with lots of car and foot traffic and a large and noisy construction project going on next door.  And how she thinks her goslings are going to make it out of the box safely, I have no idea.  We're keeping a watch to see what happens, along with lots of other folk, I'm sure.   Spring does have its dramas!  Good luck, Mama!

Time keeps hurtling by with days filled with lots of fun things to see and do.  Sometimes, though, I have to just stop and catch my breath in wonder at this beautiful place we live in.  Here's Mt. Meeker and Long's Peak, spotted from my car as I drove home from a quilt workshop in Longmont last Saturday. 

 Lots of quilting going on lately, but let me show you this interesting "before and after" of two journal quilts I made in March.  My friend Colleen and I got together to do some stamping and printing on fabric.  She brought the big butterfly stamp and I printed it on a scrap of fabric I had left over from some tie-transfer work I'd done last year.  See the green striped pattern at the bottom?  Well, that's ink that was transferred from an old tie. I thought it looked pretty cool so I added the leaf and some quilting and thought it was done. 

But no.  A week or so later I met with some other friends to try using Inktense pencils, a type of watercolor pencil that you can use to add a bright, vibrant color to paper or fabric.  I had brought my journal quilt to show them and decided to try adding Inktense to it.  Wow! What a pop of color!

When Colleen and I got together we also tried printing thermofax screens.  I had bought this image of some fernheads from Liz Kettle at Textile Evolutions and wanted to try it out.

Here's what I made, using some fabric that Colleen had "rusted," by letting some metal rust onto fabric. 

I did a lot of machine stitching to emphasize the fernheads, playing around with stitches on my Bernina and using a variegated thread that changed colors as I sewed.  I really liked how they turned out. 

But look what happened to the piece when I added some color using Inktense pencils.   Pretty cool, yes?  

As I said, these were done in March.  Now I'm off of journal quilts and deep into two big projects, the Bellagio cityscape I showed in the last post and a big flower enlarged from a photograph, and I may end up using Inktense on both of them.

Monday, April 29, 2019

A No Snow Day

We've been advised that there will be snow.  We were advised that a cold front would sweep in yesterday afternoon bringing bands of snow that would be heavy at times and leave many inches on the ground. 

 It was a hard prediction to believe since yesterday morning was wonderfully warm and sunny, though a tad windy in some parts.  However, since bad weather was apparently on the way we decided to go out for a hike.  We joined our friend Lotus and her friend Chris and drove up Flagstaff Mountain to the beginning of the West Ridge Trail which leads to the summit of Green Mountain.  I was tired out from some serious hiking Ben and I had done the past two days, but I figured I could do it since I'd done it once before, five years ago when we first moved here.   Surely I'm in better shape now!  And it wasn't too bad until we reached a series of switchbacks which led up to the summit.  That was a "huff and puff" section, but then bingo! up we popped at the top with its amazing views of the Indian Peaks and the Boulder area.

Here we are looking happy yesterday.   

And here we are looking happy five years ago.

It's only a three mile round trip but you sure feel like you've accomplished something!

It didn't snow yesterday, but we were advised that it would start snowing by 11:00 this morning so I snuck in another, shorter, hike up in Chautauqua before we did our Meals on Wheels route.  But it never has started snowing and I'm beginning to think that the forecast is just totally wrong.  Doesn't mean that it won't snow this spring.  In 2017 we had a good dump way at the end of May!

Although it's cold and very overcast outside now I haven't heard any frost warnings, so maybe the flowers and tree blossoms will be saved.  I hope so, since they are so pretty. 

Still, this grey and cold afternoon is perfect for doing some work on the quilt of the photo I took when we were in Bellagio, Italy, a few years ago. 

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago I had made a drawing from the photo.

Now I'm slowly be surely making the buildings out of fabric, creating the basic structures to which details will be added later. 

It's a challenge for sure!  

Monday, April 22, 2019

Easter Sunday

Aren't these eggs cool looking?  Dawn and Paul and I dyed them over at my friend Sara's house Saturday morning, using pieces of old silk ties.  You wet the silk, wrap it around the raw egg, then wrap the egg a final time in muslin, tie it all up and then boil it like you would for hard boiled eggs, except that you add a healthy doss of vinegar to the water first.  The process makes the colored pattern from the silk transfer to the egg in often very surprising ways.   It's a neat thing to do with a gang of friends, and Sara hosts such a gathering each year, which is lots of fun.   

We enjoyed a relaxed Easter morning, getting out for a walk with That Handsome Dog Gus, who is visiting, and then Ben and I did the first bike ride of the season.  It was quite successful, as I was able to ride most of the way up the Boulder Canyon bike trail and most of the way up the hills back home in our neighborhood.  Ben, of course, rode all the way without stopping, but I was happy with what I was able to do.  Next goal:  all the way!  Later in the afternoon John and Dawn and their boys came over and we had a  pleasant time together and Dawn grilled her yummy lamb chops for us.

It's been fun having Gus here.  Hosting him is a family affair, though he sleeps in Paul's room, Paul gives him his afternoon walk, and he and does some "mental stimulation" with him, like getting him to sit while Paul has a tempting Popsicle in his hands.   Do you see the little dog on the table?  His name is Simon and I really like him.  He's one of several "rescue" dog being hosted by our neighbors right now.  We've been toying with the idea of getting a dog and have been thinking of  a Labradoodle or Goldendoodle in the 30-60 pound range.   I was mighty tempted by Simon's calm personality,  pretty coloring, intelligent curiosity, and the very fact that he was in need of rescuing.   But after having him over for a visit Saturday afternoon we realized that he is just way too small for us.  There isn't a part of the fencing that he can't slip his seven pounds through! 

Here's a fun photo I took of our neighbor surrounded by the five little dogs she rescued from a shelter in Texas (and her big dog, Bubba).   There are several rescue groups in Boulder and I'd guess that about 75% of the dogs you see here mixed breed.  Still, I'm mighty attracted to the "doodles," so I'd be surprised if we end up with a rescue.  Along with a dog there may be cat in our future.  I suspect that "all will be revealed" this summer.   

The past two weeks have been very full ones and I haven't had much time for quilting.  The time I did have I used to finish up this year's Outreach quilts, the quilts I make for two of my quilt guilds to pass on to worthy causes. 

 The one shown in the left side is the front of a quilt for a foster child who will attend a summer camp sponsored by an area church.  When the kids arrive at camp they find a handmade quilt and matching pillowcase on their bed; theirs to take home when they leave.  Isn't that great?  The guild makes forty every year.  The back of this quilt is shown in the photo on the lower right.  I know you can't see it well, but the front is a mix of African animal fabrics and the back is a fabric showing an African village alternated with some solid colored fabrics.   

The two in the middle right photos are ones that will go to Blue Sky Bridge, and the upper right is for Quilts for Kids (children in hospitals).   I enjoy making quilts for these programs, but I try to get them done by June so I can concentrate on art quilts the rest of the year.   It was a real tick to get them finished early.

Talking about biking and walking reminds me that I found this fun image online somewhere this week.  A good reminder!

It's a rainy day here which is needed and welcome.  Later in the week it will be sunny and in the seventies, perfect weather for spring gardening.  Meanwhile, I'm catching up on desk work this morning doing some quilting this afternoon.   

Sunday, April 14, 2019

What Is All That Green Stuff?

Look at all this green stuff that showed up around our house this week!  Its been brown or white here for so long that I'd forgotten what a green lawn looked like.  That's what a few days of cool but sunny spring weather can do after a late snowstorm.  We had another storm last Wednesday and it sure seems like the grass and flowers liked the moisture. 

As I reported in my last blog entry, Ben and I were longing for a little getaway and a rematch with the Hanging Lake Trail in Glenwood Springs, so we slipped it in on Monday and Tuesday, after our Monday morning Meals on Wheels run and before the storm which was predicted for Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning.   We made the three hour drive Monday afternoon, spent an hour at the Glenwood Hot Springs (ah, bliss!) and then had a good dinner at the fun and excellent Pullman restaurant, conveniently located next door to the Denver Hotel, where we stayed.  We were up early the next morning to hit the trail.  

We had twice before tried this hike in the early spring only to find it too icy and snow-covered for safe passage.  This time we came equipped with our crampons (strap on ice-walkers) and hiking poles.  They made all the difference.  Well, it probably also helped that I was in better shape this year.  This hike is among the most popular in the state, but that doesn't mean it's easy.  It's a mile and a half of unrelenting "up," (1135 feet), quite steep and very rocky.  

When you are close to the end of the hike the National Forest Service has installed a series of handrails you use to safely ascend up the last steep section....

photo by CLaP at claplist.weebly.com

...from which you get a wonderful view across the canyon you just hiked up and off to the mountains.  It's very dramatic.

And at the top is the lake itself, very beautiful with several waterfalls emptying into a turquoise lake.  It's called Hanging Lake because one side of it "hangs" over the edge of canyon, held in place by a natural dam.   There is a drop off of 100 feet or more on the dam side. 

A short hike above Hanging Lake is Spouting Rock, a waterfall that comes directly out of the rock and then flows into the lake below.  Ben went up and took this photograph which he kindly texted to me as I rested at the lake.    

 We celebrated our climb with an early evening visit to the Iron Mountain hot springs (ah, bliss again!) and another wonderful dinner, this time at Juicy Lucy's, a great steak and seafood place right near our hotel.

Then it was an early bedtime since we were tired out and the storm was coming!  We were on the road by about 7:30 a.m. and wonderful Ben drove three hours through snow showers,  "wintry mix," and thick fog to get us safely home.  It was scary to me but the mountain scenery was pretty.

Here are plows near Vail pass (11,000 feet) all ready for the troubles the day would bring.  I read later that parts of this road were closed during the afternoon when the really bad weather hit. 

We were glad to be home and we settled in to enjoy the three-inch snow that fell in Boulder late Wednesday afternoon and through the evening. 

Will that be the end of the snow around here?  When I see our lawn turning so green, I think maybe it will be.  But often we have snow in early May, sometimes even on Mother's Day even, so we're not putting the snow shovel away quite yet!