Friday, December 2, 2016

Hello, December!

It has started to snow lightly while I sit at my computer this morning.  It's very pretty and festive but since I'm supposed to drive about 45 minutes out to Erie at noon to do some quilting I'm not totally happy seeing the flakes fall.  

Well, it is now December and we have moved out of our long beautiful Indian Summer and into the beginning of winter.   Our snow today isn't supposed to amount to much but it's a cold, damp thirty degrees, which isn't too pleasant.  

Our Christmas decorating is done and I love having the house lit with cheerful lights now that it is dark by 4:30.   

Ben and I strung some garland and lights around the front door.....

...and I made this little decoration for the planter with things I found in my holiday boxes and around the house and yard.  I thought it turned out nicely.  

Paul and I decorated this cute tree which was given to us by a friend last year.  

We were both in the mood for a real tree but it wasn't practical given our travel plans.  I quite like this silver one, but I've promised Paul that next year, for sure, we'll do a big, real tree!  

Seems like there was a lot going on this week, but the main event for me was finishing up the Boulder High music program's wreath and flower sale.  I was responsible for the sale last year which about drove me crazy since we sold nineteen different products.  That wasn't working, so this year we cut back to only seven products and as Chair of the music parent's group I didn't manage the sale, just helped the new coordinator.  She was wonderful and it was so fun to get to know her; meeting new people can be a great side effect of volunteer work!

Although we simplified everything it is still a big job to receive 217 wreath and 120 plants and get them picked up by the students who sold them so they could deliver them to their customers.  All the profits from the sale went directly into the student's "music accounts" which are managed by the parent support group and from which students can request payment for music lessons and other related music needs.  So it's a good thing, and well worth the effort.

Still, I'm glad it's done!  And I love the wreath Paul sold us. 

Well, it's still lightly snowing.  It's time to get ready to leave for Erie though it's mighty tempting to follow Fetcher's lead and just hunker down in this nice warm house. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

In Between Holidays

We've been enjoying a relaxing and happy Thanksgiving break.  We had Thanksgiving dinner of homemade tamales, beans & rice, and apple and pumpkin pie with our friends Ray and Paula and their extended family.  In addition to Paula's wonderful mother, Pat, and her accomplished sister, Andrea, they have a niece and nephew at CU who Paul enjoys talking with, and we all had a pleasant visit.

On Friday Ben went to Boulder Canyon with his rock climbing partner, Dan, while I did some hiking around town with Dan's wife, our friend Lotus.  Later Ben made us his good risotto for dinner, with lobster he had flown in from Maine, a tasty holiday extravagance.

On Wednesday I finished the Thanksgiving table runner I was making, just in time to use it for the holiday.

The fun turkeys were the inspiration for the rest of the fabrics, a brown stripe to frame the turkeys, a white with Thanksgiving words and phrases, and a contrasting fabric using details of turkey feathers. I love choosing fabrics and these were particularly fun together.

I did some simple quilting which shows up nicely on the back.  

And I've had time the past few days to work on this neat Superman quilt.  I'm finishing it up for the Quilts for Kids program which my quilt guild in Longmont supports.   Someone else made the basic top with the gold, blue, and Superman fabric squares surrounded by a red border but that person didn't want to quilt and bind it so it was passed on to me.  

I thought it needed something more so I added the red Superman logos.  I found a free clipart image online, resized it to fit the block, traced it seven times onto a paper-backed fusible web, ironed the web onto red fabric, cut the seven logos out, and then sewed them to the gold blocks.   A bit time-consuming but worth it, I think.  

Now I'm machine quilting it with random straight lines that criss-cross to make angles.  I'm using a plastic ruler to make the lines straight.  Even though I don't have the technique down perfectly, using the ruler is a big help.  

I'm enjoying working on this quilt and am looking forward to giving it back to the guild at the December Christimas party and knowing it will be a bright and comfy blanket for a sick child. 

Last night Ben and I went downtown for happy hour and found Pearl Street mall all lit up for the holidays.  So pretty.  

It made me want to get our house decorated, especially since we won't be at home for a week over the holiday school break.   We're going to the Virgin Islands and will be snorkeling on Christmas!

I hope we get some lights up outside later today when my menfolk are free to help.  Meanwhile I'm doing some decorating inside, meaning that I'm making a mess opening up boxes and looking through holiday supplies.  The trouble with decorating for the holidays is that you have to work through some messes like this...

...before you get to some festive results like this!  

One reason we went downtown for happy hour was because there was a CU football game at 5:30 so we figured downtown would be less busy than usual.  It was a big game and CU won, making them Pac-12 South champions and earning them a place in the Pac-12  championship game.  I only know this from the local paper, since I don't follow football.  But last night about 10:00 we heard lots of festive celebrating from University Hill and downtown, both of which are within a half mile, and we figured that CU had won.

But my winning team is the CU Women's Basketball team which is on fire this year with a winning streak of 6-0.  I had season tickets the first year we got here and really enjoyed the games.  They lost often but their games were hard-fought and were good entertainment.  Last year I didn't get to any games and wasn't encouraged to by their consistant losses.   This year there's a new coach and she's off to a great start.   I got to a game yesterday and loved seeing them play, especially when they won again, 67-50.

It's hard to believe that Thursday will be December 1st and that in only 27 days it will be Christmas!

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Weekend

The temperature did take that big drop of  thirty-some degrees last Thursday night, knocking out our neighbor's beautiful "Knock-Out" roses and leaving our Hollyhock limp on the sidewalk.  But it quickly bounced back up and this week we're again having mostly lovely sunny days of fifty and sixty degrees.  Looks like both Thanksgiving and Black Friday will be wonderful days to be outside. 

Have you heard that REI is closing its stores on Friday for the second year in a row?  They are urging everyone to go outside and play instead of going shopping, including their own employees who are paid for the day off.  It's fabulous!  

If you have some time, have fun exploring REI's Opt Outside web page; there's some cool photos and a nice video there that may inspire you to join the movement. 

I was at a quilting retreat the past three days in Longmont, which is about thirty minutes from Boulder.  It was an "in town" retreat, meaning it wasn't up in the mountains.  Since it's closer to home you don't spend the night and you're more able to come and go.  You can get back home in time for dinner or you can stay and sew until the hall closes down at 10:00 PM; it's up to you.   I had a lot of fun and made a lot of progress on my current projects.

I sewed the November block for my Machine Quilting Block Party quilt.   This on-line class uses sun-themed blocks to teach machine quilting, but I gave up the suns after the first month and changed them to seasonal and holiday themes.  My 16" square Thanksgiving block was great fun to make.  I had bought the theme fabrics a few months ago and found a couple more in my stash and really enjoyed seeing them all come together.   Can you tell that the green is turkey feathers? So clever.  I also made a table runner, but I'm going to post that on Thanksgiving.

My big goal for the weekend was to put borders on a "camp quilt" that I'm making using cat fabrics.  One of my guilds makes twin-size bed quilts for foster kids who go to a week-long summer camp at the church where the guild meets.  The kids enjoy them during camp and then take them home with them in a matching pillowcase.  Last year the guild made quilts for more than forty campers, which is pretty cool.   If I'm going to quilt mine by the May due date, I had to get the borders on, make the back, and get the whole thing basted together at the retreat.  Which I did!

Here's a closeup of those silly cats.

Speaking of silly......

Yes, that is Spikey asleep on top of Paul's head!  We gave Spikey a nice warm soak in a tub in the kitchen sink while we played cards last night, then put him on Paul's shoulder to watch the game. Instead, he crawled up Paul's head and peacefully zonked out for a snooze!  Paul was a real trouper, playing two games until we finally woke Spikey up and put him in his cage, oops, I meant habitat; he's a very sensitive lizard!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

First Snow of the Season

We're finally having our first snowfall of the season.  Only an inch or two is predicted for Boulder but up in the mountains they should be getting 5-10 inches, which is great for the ski resorts and for our water supply.  It's been quite dry here the last month so this precipitation is very welcome.

But the big story here is the the amazing drop in temperature, from a record high of 80 degrees yesterday to a low of 15 degrees tonight!  Coupled with some good size winds, so this is a real storm.

I had a quilt guild meeting today and kept watching my email expecting a message from the schools saying that after school activities were cancelled.  That would mean the big orchestra concert tonight would be off and I could sit in front of the fire with Ben.  But no, we live in Colorado not Maryland, so everything is still a "go."

Ah well, I guess I can enjoy the fire after I get home.  It will be even sweeter knowing that all the concerts (and my little speeches) are done until May.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Weekend

Daylight Savings moved us into the dark time of the year, when the sun is just rising when I wake up at  6:30 a.m. and has set by 5:00 p.m., when it seems like the day is over.  When it's so dark like this I really appreciate holiday lights.  

So I was quite cheered to see the first of them appear just several blocks from our house on University Hill.  I guess they put them up so early because the college students will soon be on winter break.  In any case, I love them. 

Much to my surprise, the annual lighting of the Flagstaff Mountain star was on Veteran's Day this year.  Seems like it was lit much later last year.  We all love seeing the star, since it's right over our house and guides us home from wherever we are.

Flags were on the graves of soldiers buried in the cemetery down the street for Veteran's Day last Friday. 

And my brother, Jim, made this wonderful collage of photos of my Dad who served first in the Navy and then in the Marines.  My mother was also in the Navy.  I've always loved the photo of her and my father in their military uniforms which was taken on their wedding day. 

It's going to be a busy week filled with work for the Instrumental Music Parents Association at Boulder High School, for which I'm Chair this year.  Yesterday I joined a group of parents at an envelope stuffing party to get out the solicitation for the annual Instrument Fund Drive.  And this week there are three concerts that our group helps with, including a little speech at each by the Chair. Which is me.  Which means I have to talk.  Oh, well, it will be all right, but I'll be glad when it's over!  

As a reward for such good works, I'm signed up for a three day quilting retreat in nearby Longmont starting Friday.  It's an "in-town" retreat, so I get to come home and sleep, which is always a good thing.  I made this cute quilt block Saturday afternoon at a mini-retreat; isn't it cute?  It's the tenth of twelve seasonal blocks I'm making for a big lap quilt.

I have to show you this photo I took of Paul sound asleep on his bed one night when Ben and I came home from dining out.  You know how parents love to watch their children sleep!  You hardly ever get to do that when they are teenagers and we couldn't help but smile at both him and the phone nestled on his shoulder.  

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Day After

We got a text from Paul yesterday telling us that he was "doing the no hate just love protest outside for school."

I didn't know what that meant so I checked the Daily Camera online and found out that a couple hundred Boulder High students were outside the school with signs saying things like "No place for hate at BHS" and "Love not hate."

I have to say that hearing this brought tears to my eyes.  I was so proud of the kids and especially for Paul for readily joining them.  It was an anti-Trump protest, but the focus was on exactly what I'm upset about -- Trump's hatred and bigotry.

Paul came home with this button, which sums it up. 

I had other reasons to be proud yesterday.  

First, Hillary's concession speech and Obama's remarks, both of which upheld the democratic process. 

What a class acts!  

I agree with them.   America did choose a new president and that means he'll be my president.  That's democracy in action, folks.  

I've never liked any Republican presidents, but they were still the president of my country.   Trump's mean spirit and ugliness is unprecedented for sure and I'm prepared to drag myself out of the comforts of my home and daily life to fight that if it continues, but he is still the president-elect of my country.  

Second, both my old home state, Maryland, and my new one, Colorado both went blue.  Wheeha!

Third, I was proud of Colorado for passing Proposition 106, Medical Aid in Dying, known as the "right to die" initiative, and also Amendment 70, which raises the minimum wage to $12 a hour by January 2020.  I love living in a progressive state. 

And lastly, while I wasn't "proud," I was very happy that California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maine all voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana.  Yeah!  Fewer people going to jail for using a drug that I equate with alcohol.  

 And North Dakota, Arkansas, and Montana all approved or expanded medical use of marijuana.  Another Yeah!  Fewer people in pain, fewer patients nauseated from chemotherapy, and more people sleeping better at night.  In my book that's a good thing.      

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

"...and the World Still Spins"

I spent yesterday in a class on how to use acrylic rulers to do machine quilting.  It was a good diversion from the tensions of Election Day.  I had a bad feeling about the election and certainly needed a distraction. 

Early in the evening I went up to Longmont for a quilt guild meeting where I received a third place Viewer's Choice ribbon for a quilt I had hung in the guild's recent show.  That was a nice surprise and another welcome diversion.  

When I went into the meeting the Democrats were doing okay but by the time I had come out they were beginning to sink.  And, as we know, things got grimmer as the evening progressed. 

I'm still in shock.  I've seen some bad Presidents but I've never seen one who is as racist, arrogant, misogynist, crude, hateful and unprepared as our new one.  I hope that as he assumes the mantle of the Presidency he will become more rational and inclusive.  But even I don't have that much hope and optimism.  

It was beautiful this morning and we had promised to walk Gus so out we went.   It was good to see the beautiful Flatirons and and the lovely mountains.   The words to one of the songs in Hamilton kept ringing through my mind, the line in "What Did I Miss?" when Jefferson comes back from Paris and sings "France is following us to revolution, there is no more status quo; but the sun comes up and the world still spins."     

Gus found a big stick and his enjoyment of it reminded me that everything is better when you're enjoying the things you love.