Monday, May 23, 2016

The Weekend

Ben's birthday was on Saturday.  We celebrated by taking the first bike ride of the season.  It was a short ride but a good one.   Ben's long time friend Raymond shares the same birthday and we joined him and several friends for a Japanese Yakatori barbecue at Raymond's house, which was delicious. A beautiful night, good friends, and great food; what could be a better way to celebrate a birthday?  


The birthday boys got a full moon for their birthday; did you notice it? That's Venus to the right.  Quite a sight.


It was graduation weekend at Boulder High and Paul played in the grad band.  You'd think that Paul's purple hair would make him easy to spot but the since the school's colors are purple and gold it was a sea of purple.  Look for him in the center, right below the drummer.   



The first of the early poppies are blooming!  None of ours are yet, but we've spotted several as we walk in the neighborhood.  I love poppies and we didn't have them in Maryland so they are a treat for me to see. 


The weekend weather was wonderful and it drew everyone outside to garden or have fun.  On a walk back from Chautauqua we spotted these festive young folk having a great time in their colorful hammocks.  


I got started on a new machine stitched piece using a poppy I drew with Pentel pastel dye sticks.  This is for a small group challenge due June 9th and it isn't going as well as I'd like so I had to laugh when I saw this photo on Pinterest.  A ready supply of chocolate does sometimes really help when a sewing project isn't working out.  Too bad it's so bad for hiking and biking!  



Speaking of which, I also found this handy reminder of the benefits of walking and posted it on my fridge.  I've gotten to really like walking, but it doesn't hurt to remember that it's good for you as well as fun.  



Friday, May 20, 2016

Flowers for Mother's Day


Last night Ben and I sat out on the deck enjoying some wine, a few snacks, the lovely evening and each other's company.  The turkey vultures circled overhead as they returned to their roost a few blocks closer to the mountain, the hummingbirds made their distinct calls as they searched out nectar in the many flowers that are blooming now, and our neighbor's pond and waterfall, turned on now that the threat of frost and snow is officially over, burbled soothingly in the background.  

It was the first time the evening has been warm enough to sit on the deck and it was a welcome respite from a busy week.  

On Monday we had strong rainstorms all day which made delivering lunches for Meals on Wheels exciting and in the evening I went to the Front Range Contemporary Quilters meeting where I heard the South African artist  Rosalie Dace talk her amazing quilts. Tuesday was the Music Awards Banquet at school which required quite a bit of my time. Wednesday I had lunch with a friend and then we did some shopping for garden pots together.  Much of yesterday I was at the Boulder quilt guild meeting where I heard a local artist, Dorothy Raymond, speak about her artistic journey and enjoyed socializing and running the library.  

In between all this I've been gardening.

For the last few days I've been on a big push to, as Jim Crockett as the old PBS "Victory Garden" show used to say, "Get the plants in the ground!"  Now is the time to plant out here.  It's risky to plant until after Mother's Day and then we had rain,  and our growing season ends by the first of October, so it's now or never.  Ben has helped me dig out some old roses, move some poppies that were in the wrong place, and dig up the raised beds.  I've been weeding and planting a few herbs, a cherry tomato plant, and some annuals. 

  

This year I've been drawn to petunias, an annual that my mother loved to grow.   They are not my favorite flower since they aren't good for cutting and bringing into the house, but when I saw them at the flower center I immediately thought of my mom and knew that I had to have some.  I put some in a beautiful new planter right by the front door where they will get plenty of sun and where I can see them and remember her when I do.   It's a nice Mother's Day present for both her and me. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Finished!

Finished, indeed!  Good grief, I started this piece way back in October.  


Last fall my art quilt group challenged me to make a quilt using complimentary colors.  To get started I used a store bought stencil to put a design of blue Shiva oil stick on a bright orange fabric. 


Since I was into free form curved piecing, I added curved strips above and below the block.  I had so much fun doing that it was hard to stop, but it was getting pretty long so I finally had to! 


 Over several months I gradually added stitching of various kinds. 

 First I machine stitched down fat yarns like the gray line you see in this photo with the tuffs hanging off the stitching.  


Then I added decorative stitches that were built into my sewing machine, like the blue zig zag you see on the gold fabric.  



And finally I added hand stitching, like the orange and yellow marks on the dark blue fabric.


Doing the stitching was soothing and seeing the results was fun, but it did take a while, not only to do the work but to make all the decisions about what to add to the piece.  I also stitched around all the blue Shiva oil paint stenciling.


Finally it was time to stop so I finished it off with this multicolored binding


I always have to have cool backs on my quilts, even though no one sees them.  


It seemed like the piece wanted to be a table runner but Fetcher insists on sitting on any quilt that he finds handy and I couldn't bare the thought of all his cat hair on all that stitching so I hung it up as a scroll.  I like how it livens up the corner of the dining room.

Seeing that I was writing about this piece my sweet husband just got out "the good camera" and took an excellent photo of the quilt; isn't he nice?


He always likes to have me in his photos, so here I am next to my art work.  



Did you notice my new haircut?  And that I lost the pounds I had gained over the holidays?  Yes, those holidays, the ones that happened five months ago.  Well, better late than never!   For both losing extra pounds and for finishing quilts!




Saturday, May 7, 2016

Spring Concert

As I type it is raining cats and dogs outside.  We're in for a weekend of rain intermixed with showers, not such a great forecast for the CU graduation this morning and Mother's Day tomorrow.

But we've had a week of glorious sunshine and warm weather so we can't complain.  Here's a photo a friend took of me and Ben on a hike yesterday; notice the blue skies and the short sleeve t-shirts.


But this morning the rain was moving in over the Flatirons as you see in this photo I took from our balcony when I woke up.  At least we're not going to have snow, as we did the last two Mother's Day weekends!


This week has been a busy one with two spring concerts at school.  Paul played in the Wind Ensemble at the band concert Tuesday night and then with the full orchestra last night.  Both included tributes to graduating seniors, for which I had volunteered for various jobs.   The main one was the senior slide show, a juxtaposition of baby pictures and senior pictures that was shown before the concert.  Finishing that project up was a big tick off my "to do" list.


Each senior was given a yellow rose tied with a purple ribbon and getting them ready was another job I took on.


At first I thought that any color roses would do, so I wasn't concerned about finding ones to buy.  But the day before the first concert I learned they had to be yellow, and the hunt was on.  I went to six stores before I found what I needed.  Apparently yellow is not a common rose color these days, at least not in supermarkets where you get the best price on a dozen roses.  Just a few minutes ago I was in a grocery store and noticed its lovely rose display.  But sure enough, not a single bunch of their roses were yellow.  For the second concert I needed four dozen yellow roses, but by then I had figured out how to preorder them.  

After I'd finished messing around with five dozen yellow roses during the week, I was pretty smitten with them.  Aren't they beautiful?  I think I'll buy myself two dozen next week and just enjoy them.


Both of the concerts were quite good, and last night's was especially fun as over 200 musicians, most in full costume, on the stage playing "Star Wars."  The violinists had affixed "glow in the dark" strips to their bows which looked cool when the lights were turned down, as you might see in this photo.


Paul dressed as a storm trooper and looked mighty fine.  In all the rush to get to school on time --you try carrying four dozen roses in vases of water to school! --we didn't get a photo of him.  Think I can coax him into it as a Mother's Day present for me? 
  

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Make Your Own Sunshine

It's been a cold and wet few days around here, with rain and snow instead of that famous Colorado sunshine.


On top of that I've had a bad cold, so it was a good time to hunker down at home. 

Looking for something cheerful to do, I remembered that I needed to finish up my April block for the Leah Day machine quilting block party.   The colorful pansy fabric would be fun to work with on such a gloomy day.  I quilted half of it in white and then switched to a vibrant yellow thread. 


It made me feel happier just to look at this lucious color!  


After I had finished quilting the Leah Day block I wanted to continue working with this beautiful color so I got out a scrap quilt that was waiting to be quilted.


Without much of a plan I started doing some meander quilting over it.  It seemed like I was scattering sunshine as I worked.
 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Around Here

Around here....It's definitely spring.   We had several sunny days with temperatures in the low seventies, perfect weather to welcome the tulips which have come into full bloom.



Around here...The beautiful weather lured us outside to begin the season's gardening tasks.  We worked hard last weekend to clean up the perennial bed on College Avenue, weed out the raised gardens in the back yard, and sweep up the patio and deck.  It's nice to revisit the improvements we made last year in the yard and to dream about future changes.

I'm experimenting with a new seating area under the oak tree next to the raised beds so I can sit and watch the goings on along College Avenue and admire the Sanitas mountains in the distance...


...and we bought more frost proof pots for the patio.


Around here....The good weather put indoor work like quilting on the back burner for a few days but i did manage to make the next block in the Leah Day Machine Quilting Block party challenge.  When I finished I realized something was wrong with it; can you tell what?


Around here...We're in for several chilly days with off and on rain showers, perfect for catching up on indoor work like reversing the position of the lower left yellow and white four-patch on that quilt block.

Around here...We're hoping the rain showers won't hold up the crews that the city is sending around this week to remove all the brush piles that now line the city streets.   These are the result of the many branches that broke off the trees during the March 24th snowstorm.   They are taking up much needed parking spaces and they're also ugly and we're ready to see them go!



Around here...The big news is about Paul.  For the past few months he has been playing with eight other Boulder High kids in a band focusing on ska music.  The other day they auditioned for the Battle of the Bands which will be part of the Boulder Creek Festival over Memorial Day.   It was great fun to watch the audition and even more fun to hear that they had been accepted into the competition!



There are good days and bad days in the parenting lifetime, and watching Paul perform was one of the good ones.  He was sick and had just started around of antibiotics but he made it to the audition and did great.  



If you'd like to see the video I took of one of their audition performances, click here.  In the Battle of the Bands Paul will play one of the solos that the trumpet played in the audition since Paul was sick. 


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

An Ordinary Tuesday

Yesterday Ben and I did Meals on Wheels and then I went to the Front Range Contemporary Quilters monthly meeting and showed my poppy quilt in their wonderful "Show and Tell."  It was scary to stand up and talk about it and display it before such fabulous art quilters, but it's good to scare yourself sometimes and I not only survived it but enjoyed it.  

Tomorrow promises to be another full day with working at the high school for a while, meeting a friend to lift weights at the gym,  driving Paul to various activities, and some kind of hike thrown in somewhere.  Thursday is also busy with half the day spent at the local quilt guild meeting where I'm the librarian.

So it was nice that today was just a regular day with nothing on the calendar except an afternoon pilates class.  

In the morning Ben and I walked three miles across the CU campus, down to town, along the Boulder Creek path, and back up the long hill to our house.   It was cloudy when we hiked but we could still see the Flatirons.  I took this photo of Ben as he waited for me to get a drink of water in one of the CU buildings.   I still get surprised when I see the Flatirons as we walk and drive around town.


We walked in town primarily because the trails are still snow covered and wet from the big melt that's taking place in these days after the weekend storm.  It looks like the snow hasn't damaged many of the flowers or even the blossoms on the trees, which is certainly a good thing.


Back at home I spent several hours at my computer wrapping up the Tribute to Graduating Musicians slide show that I'm doing for the band and orchestra seniors at Boulder High.   I got a copy off to the teachers for review, which is always a wonderful step.  Now it's just making corrections and probably adding a few last minute additions to the photos.

Since I was on a roll I processed some new library books so they'd be ready to put out at the quilt guild meeting Thursday, updated the library records, and wrote a little blurb for the guild's upcoming newsletter.


Fetcher kept me company.  It was hard to be mad at him even though he was getting cat hair all over the Christmas quilt that I'm finishing up!



My mind has been with my sister who is still suffering from Shingles.  I wanted to send her something to make her smile despite her pain.   I thought about flowers but then decided to use Smilebox to make and send her a little slide show of photos from happier times.  I thought it turned out cute and she emailed me saying it had, indeed, made her smile.   (Even though it says "Click to View" you can't; this is just a photo.)  



Then I was off to pilates class which is really a private lesson I usually share with a friend.  She wasn't able to come today so I had a whole hour with just me and the teacher.  Which means I worked!  But I sure felt great afterwards.

When I got home Paul was home from school and came up to visit with me in my studio. Fetcher was still there snuggled up on the quilt.   He clearly was hoping to be petted and Paul did the honors. 


Ben also came home from the rock climbing gym and he brought the makings for dinner.   The menu was baked Halibut in mango sauce (ready to bake courtesy of Whole Foods), fresh broccoli with lime juice, and a new recipe from the New York Times, a mushroom stew served over polenta.   It was a complicated recipe but Ben was a patient and careful chef,  I was a very helpful sous chef, and we had fun cooking together.

No wine with dinner, just ice water with lemon, since I'm trying a regimen of "no alcohol on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday" for a while.   And no chocolate for dessert, either!  It's tough but it has helped me lose the pounds I gained over Christmas and I am sleeping better, so that's a nice reward.  

During dinner Fetcher meowed and meowed to go outside even though it was getting dark.  All afternoon he slept in the studio on my quilt and now he wants to go out?  Sorry, kitty.  Our neighbor reported that their cat went missing last week, so we are again nervous about the mountain lions, raccoons, and foxes that inhabit our neighborhood after dark.



After dinner Paul and I watched Flash on TV, one of the four shows we've been watching together this season.  Tonight was a critical episode and we held our breaths while Flash sacrificed his power of speed to the evil Zoom in order to save Wally.  If that wasn't bad enough, Zoom used his new power to snatch Kaitlyn as he flashed back into Earth Two!  Whoaaa...... who would have guessed?

 Paul is sure it is all part of a secret plan that Flash has up his sleeve, but I'm not convinced.  


Well, in order to calm down from that excitement I settled down to write this post before heading up to bed.  

It's been a great day.