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.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Spring Snowstorm

Photos of spring flowers, taken on Thursday.  Temperatures in the seventies and sunny skies.

Photo taken on a hike up Flagstaff Mountain on Friday.  Temps in the 50's and storm clouds gathering.

Photos taken Sunday morning with temps in the 30's, more than a foot of heavy wet snow having fallen, and snow still coming down.

Actually, the paper says Boulder has measured 17 inches so far with a bit more to come today.  But the snow is so dense that it compacts into less height and quite a bit turns to water as it hits the warm pavement.  There's a little river trying to flow down our sidewalk on College Avenue but it's being dammed up by snow further down the street. 

Power outages and tree damage were forecast along with the heavy snow but so far we're doing okay. Still, the trees are laden with snow and every so often there's a "whoosh" and a splat as a big swatch of snow falls down from a tree.  

The city is warning people not to walk under trees and as I type this I'm seeing people walking down the middle of the street instead of on the wet and tree lined sidewalks.  

Ray and Paula were over last night for dinner which was a lot of fun and during the day I was happy staying inside sewing and reading and puttering around while the snow fell.   

Will this be the last snow of the year?  For the past two years there has been snow on Mother's Day, so we'll see!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"Welcome to Boulder!"

When we moved to Boulder in June 2014 the poppies in our yard were in exuberant bloom.  It seemed to me that they were welcoming us to our new home.  

Recently my art quilt group challenged each member to make a small quilt using a fused (glued to fabric) flower, and I immediately thought of those poppies.   I looked through the many photos of the poppies that I took that first June here and I selected one to use as inspiration for my piece. 

I wrote about my initial work on this quilt in a post on March 24th.  Now the piece is finished!  Here's how it turned out.  It's a 20" square quilt mounted on a 22" square painted canvas. 

The green, dark blue, and light blue outer borders are part of the canvas I painted.  This is the fifth time I've mounted pieces on canvas, but it's the first time I've painted the canvas with colors that extend the quilted piece outward.  I really like the effect. 

I think this is also the first time I've ever used a photo for inspiration.  I'd been doing a lot of abstract work lately and felt like a change.  

To reinterpret the photo in fabric involved using a Photoshop filter that breaks the image into parts (postor edges),  reading the color values of the parts and finding fabrics in those values to use in the piece.  Then the photo is cut into pattern pieces which are used to cut the fabrics into pieces that are layered or fused together.  Finally stitching and fabric markers are applied to highlight and shade the image.  It was a new process for me and a learning experience for sure!

Here's the main flower.  

And one of the leaves.  This image shows the affect you can get by quilting each square in the background before piecing them together.  Notice how the quilting lines don't match; the lines don't run all the way across the background.  It's an interesting affect, I think.   

 I applied some hand stitching to fill in a space I thought was too empty.

Here's a detail of the strips I fused to the quilt edges and then attached using a variegated thread to make a blanket stitch on my machine.   It's not really a binding because the fabric doesn't fold over the edge; instead the strips cover the front and back and the side are covered by a rat tail cord applied with a zig zag stitch by machine.    

Recently I joined the Front Range Contemporary Art Quilters,  a longstanding and very active local group with a mission to "support those [quilters] who express themselves by using contemporary images and techniques."  As I looked at my finished piece I wondered how it was an expression of myself.   I realized that the happy colors, interesting mix of fabrics, and exuberant feeling the piece  conveys reflected my own happiness, excitement, and exuberance at being here in Boulder.   With that realization I decided to  name this quilt "Welcome to Boulder." 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Sure Signs of Spring

The big birds flying around this tree are turkey vultures.  Early every April they suddenly appear in the sky above our neighborhood having flown up from somewhere down south where they have spent the winter.   Throughout the spring and summer they roost in a tree two blocks from us, flying away every morning to spend the day hunting and eating and flying back home every night to crowd into the tall tree and, one imagines, tell each other tales of the day's adventures.   In early October they are suddenly gone, having left for their winter home.  

They are fun to watch as they depart and return from their roost each day,  riding the air currents high above us, swooping and gliding in a leisurely way that makes you almost wish you could join them. 

But Spring has always been a busy time of year for me, and that's true even in retirement.  The winter's call to stay home, slow down, sit by the fire, read a book, do some handwork, build a stew for dinner is replaced by the urge to get outside, go hiking, hit the bike path, and get working in the garden.

To me, Spring has always brought the message to "do more!" at the same time telling me that I've somehow missed the winter.  The fact is that I didn't spend the winter months sitting leisurely by the fire.  And now the warmer weather is here and it's officially time to be outdoors, and time is propelling forward at this unstoppable pace.

The fact is that I'm busy the whole year because I like being busy.  And I especially like it in retirement because there are so many interesting and fun and useful things to do, no matter what time of year it is.  And around here people are outdoors all year around.

So this year I'm going to resist those old messages.  I'm not going to let Spring put me in a funk of thinking about time passing and too much to do and not enough time to enjoy life.  I'm just going to enjoy what the change in seasons offers.

The other day I saw another sign of Spring, the return of the Segway tours that for some reason pass by on my street.   I think it's a hoot that Boulder has a Segway tour and this year I'm going to join one and see just where it goes and what the tour guide says as he pauses the group at the corner by my house.   Should be fun!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Monday Morning Thoughts

This morning I'm thinking of my niece and my sister, both shown in this photo taken a couple of years ago. 

My niece Amy is celebrating her 40th birthday today.  Isn't it amazing when people you've known as little children grow up and reach milestones like this?  Even though she is quite grown up and busy raising a large family of her own, in one part of my mind Amy will always be the little funny blond haired girl we enjoyed all those years ago.  

And my wonderful sister has the shingles! The poor baby!  The doctor confirmed what I already knew, that she's in for a bad time for several weeks.  After hearing about the pain, the possible side affects of the medicine, and the chance of permanent nerve damage, Jean said of her doctor "I didn't like her very much!"   I feel so bad for my Jeannie Bean. 

Ah, life. 

Well, to end more happily,  here's a fun video Ben shared this with me this morning which made me smile. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Third Times the Charm

Under the table that holds Spikey's habitat is a bin for Spikey-related supplies and Ben's old toy Bear. Lately Spikey has liked hanging out on top of the bear.

But it can be a hard-won perch.  Here's a little video I made about the athletics that Spikey goes through to get up there.  Hope you enjoy it!