Sunday, November 19, 2017

Fours Days Until Thanksgiving!

Around here the first sign of the approaching holiday season is the lighting of the Boulder Star, a string of lights put up on Flagstaff Mountain in the shape of a star.  This is the 70th anniversary of the lighting of the star,  a "symbol of hope that can be seen for miles during the long winter nights," according to the Chamber of Commerce which is now responsible for its care and upkeep. 

We love spotting it from various places in the city and on our drives home from nearby cities, like Longmont and Louisville.  Isn't it captivating?

When we hiked up Flagstaff the other day we could see the strings of lights close-up. You can just see the lights forming the top of the star in this photo I took. 

Apparently some people hike up at night, but we haven't.   Maybe we'll drive up one night this year and check it out while we also enjoy the view of Boulder.   

 (Press photo from the Chamber of Commerce.)

Around here Paul was quite busy last week running the microphones for a musical at the Arts Hub in Louisville.   He had a great time.  Not only was he in his element, but he got paid.  Pretty sweet.  So sweet, in fact, that he let me take his picture.

Paul the photographer critiqued the photo and declared it "not so good."  Yes, well, at least I snapped it before he jumped up and was on the move again.  I guess the Arts Hub liked his work because they've asked him back to do the microphones for a kids show in early December AND they gave him a raise!

I've been pretty busy myself.  As chair of the high school's music parents group I had to speak at three concerts last week and chair the monthly parent's meeting.  That was interesting and useful, but not exactly fun.  And some repairs were made to the ceiling and a wall in my studio which meant I had to move lots of stuff out of it for a couple days while the sanding and painting was done, and then move everything back in, none of which was exactly fun.  And then there was the clean up of the yard after the siding work was finished.   As Ben likes to say, "It's always something."

For fun I took a two-day quilting workshop about a different way to make a fabric collage.  This way involved using gel medium, a glue-like substance, to actually glue down pieces of fabric onto a background and make an image.  The trick is to thin it considerably with water. 

I had a great time making this wall hanging, which is about 16 x 20".  I hope you notice how the binding around the edge changes color to go with the image.  What a pain that was to do and I ended up with corners that were wonkier than I like.  But the effect is cool, I think.  

If you recognize the subject matter you must have worked in the photographic collections at the Library of Congress.   It's a photograph by Marion Post Wolcott, a photographer for the U.S.  Farm Security Administration, taken in North Carolina in 1939.  I used to work with the FSA collection and I always liked this image.   It was a lot of fun to simplify it and add color.   The red tablecloth, which I just love, was the suggestion of my teacher.  (Just giving credit where credit is due!) 

I'm pretty sure that using a glue-like medium on fabric is not such a good idea if you're making something you hope will last forever, but it sure is a fast way and fun way to assemble a picture quickly, especially a background like you see here.  Gluing down fabric strips is a lot faster than using an iron-on fusible (glue), and honestly, it will be a miracle if any of my artwork is around five years after I'm gone.  I can just see poor Paul wondering what to do with everything. 

Time continues to fly by and Thanksgiving is in just four days.  We're hosting and cooking, which will be fun.  No turkey here; the menu is fondue as the first course followed by a scallop gratin, a salad, Brussels sprouts and carrots.  Paula is making two of her fabulous pies;  I believe the debate over which types is still underway. 

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Snowy Day

Three inches of snow yesterday, the perfect background for showing off our new "Aged Pewter" siding and the wider "Navajo Beige" trim.  

The crew will be back after the weather clears to put up the new gutters and paint the concrete basement wall.  And then early next year we'll replace the wood railings on the balconies and front porch with sleek modern iron ones and there will be a big project to replace the side porch.  Our old one is actually falling down!  

But for the moment all is peaceful, just in time for us to enjoy a nice little snowfall. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A Transformation

This week a crew of guys came and ripped all the siding and trim off our house.  Although it was a bit chaotic, it was a good thing.  Ever since we moved in over three years ago we've been debating what to do about the old siding. 

At first we thought we'd just paint it and the big question was whether Ben should do it (he wanted to!) or whether we should hire the job out.  Oh, and then there was the little matter of what color we should use.  We couldn't quite get our act together to make anything happen, so we just held off. 

Good thing we did because earlier this year we decided we really wanted new siding, specifically a cement based product called Hardieboard

The first step in re-siding is a bit messy.  And loud!  Destruction certainly can be noisy! 

A house stripped of its siding doesn't look very nice, does it?  In the middle of projects like these I remember my mother's comment when we added the second story on our house back in Maryland.  The first step in that job was for the crew to remove the roof, exposing the framing of the 1st story.  My Mom came by to see what was going on and while watching the fellows sawing away at the roof framing she asked, "Do you think they know what they're doing?"   We said we certainly hoped so!  In that case and in this current project, things turned out well, but you do hold your breath when workmen begin tearing things apart. 

One great thing about getting new siding is that you can insulate the house while you've got all the siding off.  We had cellulose insulation blown in the first floor, which didn't have any, covered the whole building with 1/2 inch foam panels and then topped it all with a final insulating layer of Tyvek house wrap. 

The crew is fast and by day three they were already starting to put up the new siding and trim.  I'll show you "before" and "after" photos next week, but here's two images to give you an idea of the texture and color of the new materials. 

We're quite excited about how it's turning out! 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Finally! Haunted House Photos

I've mentioned that Paul is acting in Boulder High School's Annual Haunted House (HH) this year, but I promised not to post any photos of him in costume until it was all over.  And, finally, it is over, so here he is!

In case you haven't picked it up, this year's theme was Circus.  HH guests followed a dark path through a weird and spooky circus, seeing icky things like a man swallowing a sword while blood ran out his mouth (yuck!) and menacing monkeys clanging cymbals (scarier than you'd think!), while various circus performers jumped out, swung out, and flew out of the darkness (yikes!). 

In one of the last scenes a creepy clown threatened us with his hammer while bloody and despairing people he had caged up in a corner cried out to us for help.   You got it; the scary clown was Paul. 

Ben went through the HH on opening night and declared it fun and not too scary.  I took Paul's two 14-year old cousins through with me on Saturday night and thought it was quite scary.  Good thing I was with two other adults because the cousins did nothing to protect me.  Quite the contrary, I ended up having to go first and hold their hands while I did a lot of screaming. 

Last night I worked with my friend Sara as a parent volunteer doing line management for the closing night.  My job was to recite the HH rules to the groups of people going through the house.  Sara got to slam the door shut behind each group as they started into HH.  Bam! the door slams behind you and you start down the dark stairs.....  Sara and I had such a good time working together. 

Before the evening started Paul took me on a quick "lights on" walk-through which I loved because I got to really see all the costumes and scenes.  It was all so well done. 

And then I got to go through the dark HH in the last group of the evening.  You'd think I'd be used to it all by then, but no, I was again very scared.   It was a great Halloween. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Jean was Here!

My sister Jean was here for the past few days and we've had such a good time enjoying each other's company.  She arrived on Tuesday afternoon and we did some shopping on Pearl Street and had dinner with our friend Lotus.  Wednesday morning Ben joined us as we headed to Glenwood Springs, about a three hour drive west of here, taking the scenic route over the Loveland Pass.  We poked around the shops downtown and then took an early evening soak in the hot springs and had dinner.  So relaxing.     


After more R&R --sleeping late and a fabulous breakfast at the Village Smithy in nearby Cardondale--we followed scenic route 82 through Aspen, up over Independence Pass, into Leadville, and down onto I-70 where we hit snow showers.  I was doing the driving at that point and the going was stressful.  Lots of white stuff coming down, socked in skies, and cars and trucks whizzing along without regard for the conditions; well, let's just say I was glad to get home!

No sign of snow showers in this photo of Jean up on the Divide, but you can see it was cold because she has on a coat!  If you know Jean you know she only wears a coat if the weather is really bad.  Way up on the pass it was cold and extremely windy, which was quite dramatic. 

Back down in Boulder at 5500 feet above sea level there were several inches of snow on the ground and trees but visibility was good and the roads were just wet, not snowy or icy.  We went out to one of our favorite restaurants (Basta) for dinner  and it felt like Christmas! 

Friday was a busy day of (more) shopping, visiting John at his new house, and a lucious crabcake dinner here at home with Ray and Paula. 

Jean is on her way back to Maryland, but I hope to see her again in a couple of months.  It's always such a pleasure.

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Beautiful Fall Week

We've had a lovely week of warm fall weather.  The maples and oaks have all turned color and the sumac is its beautiful autumn red. 

I don't know what this lovely shrub by our walk is, but the vivid colors capture my attention every time I go by it.

It's been a busy week, but there were two standouts, and they both happened in the same day.  Last Tuesday our nephew, Daniel, came into town for a short visit.  He is my brother Jim's second son and lives near Cincinnati, so a visit was a special treat.  He was in the area for work and could only visit for an evening, but it sure was a fun evening!

And it happened to work out that on Tuesday afternoon we put the Subaru Outback up for sale at Barnsley used cars and bought a 2017 VW Tiquan.   The VW dealer had lent me a Tiquan when my VW Golf was in for an oil change recently and Ben and I both really liked it.  Outbacks are extremely popular around here but we were feeling that ours was too big to park easily in Boulder's tight spaces and that we were ready to try an automatic on these busy streets. We loved the Tiquan's big screen for navigating, it's easy to use Bluetooth system, and its double size sun roof.   The dealer had a snazzy sport model in black which had been used as a loaner and had 4500 miles on it, and just like that we bought it. 

Goodbye, Subaru....

....Hello, Tiquan!

We have a fun and full weekend ahead.  I'm working the concession stand at the high school football game tonight to benefit the school's music program and at the Longmont Quilt Guild's quilt show on Saturday, Ben and Paul are working with Cocktail Punk tomorrow, and tonight is the opening night for the school's Haunted House.  Paul is a scary clown and I have a great photo of him in makeup but I promised not to post it until after the show is over on Halloween.   But I can show you these photos which were on the front page of the local newspaper this morning.  Looks like it'll be a scary event!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Scenes from the Weekend

I spent the weekend at a workshop on how to add images and words to quilts.  The teacher, Jette Clover, is a firm believer that artists need daily practice to build up their confidence in design and composition, and much like musicians do scales daily, artists need to do short design exercises.  So we did daily practices with paper and then posted them for class critique.  Such critiques can be a bit scary, but Jette had a wonderful way of making them pleasant and useful. After the daily practice the real fun began.  For three days we painted, stamped, stenciled, rubbed, embroidered, silk screened, and glued.  We transferred images using Thermofax screens, which I loved.  And we glued them onto organza, another technique I loved.  It was a fun and interesting three days!