Monday, October 24, 2016

Around Here

Around Here...

My thoughts turn often to Ben.  It's 9:00 am here so he's probably fast sleep after a day of hiking near Beni. His itinerary says:  Trail continues gradual uphill until we reach Beni.  This beautiful open area is situated below the secret Mountain of this region.  Local people brings their yaks up here during the monsoon season.  Overnight in tent. 

From this I take it they are camping in the countryside around Beni, rather than staying in the town itself. Here's a photo of Beni which I found online showing how the town is at the junction of two rivers. 

Taken by Dilip Raj Baral

Tomorrow and Wednesday are the last hiking days.  They'll go up to about 15,000 feet and see some "magnificent views of three secret mountains in this region."  Should be a beautiful way to end the trek.

I went to a benefit held in the interesting Swoon Art House here in Boulder.  I've been fascinated with this building which is located on a busy street at the edge of the residential North Boulder neighborhood.  There are many small artist studios in NOBO, but this rather large residence and studio for artist Rebecca DiDomenico really stands out.   Last year I took several photographs of it as part of my online photography class.  

The Art House isn't open to the public so I was excited when my friend Sara asked me to go with her to a benefit being held there for Blue Sky Bridge, a local group that provides support services to child victims of physical and sexual abuse.    Here's a photo I took as I arrived.

I know Sara from our work together for Boulder High's Instrumental Music Parents Association. Two years ago I answered her call for help to shop for the end of the year music banquet and we bonded while buying several hundred hamburgers at Costco.  Later I found out that she is also a volunteer educator for Blue Sky Bridge, giving presentations about abuse to 3rd grade classrooms in the area schools.  And with the rest of her spare time she sews wine bags and garlands from old silk ties!

We had a fun evening together....  


...checking out the Art House and its installations.  Several interesting pieces by Rebecca were on display including this one which used fiber.  

I've already voted!  Aren't you jealous?  Voting by mail is the best thing ever, especially since Colorado voters not only get their ballot by mail but big booklets full of handy information about all the issues, including "For" and "Against" analysis.  

Boulder High's annual Haunted House is legendary and this year I got up the courage to go. Traipsing through dark hallways and up and down wire steps while mad scientists and their patients (usually covered in blood or missing body parts) jump out and scare you isn't my idea of a fun time but I did admire the theatrical sets and performances.  Paul came, too, but of course he hung out with his friends.  It was Sara who got me to go, as her three boys have all been active in the Haunted House for years.   

I saw this on Facebook the other day and had to laugh.  I actually had a good time at parent-teacher conferences this year since Paul is doing well so far, knock on wood.  It was a real pleasure to hear Paul and his teachers talk about his work.  He's so lucky to have all outstanding teachers this year. 

I got caught up in a fun sewing project over the weekend.  It has something to do with Day of the Dead sugar skulls, and I'll tell you about it soon.  

Right before he left Ben and I signed up for Blue Apron, an online service that sends customers ingredients and recipes for three meals for two people each week.   Everything comes on Friday in one big box. 

All the food they send is perfectly fresh and portion controlled.  Check out that lovely lemon.  

Everything you need to make the recipe is sent to you except for olive oil and salt and pepper.

You get excellent instructions on how to cook the meal and additional tips and videos are available online.

 What I like about Blue Apron so far is that I don't have to go food shopping in order to have a great dinner.  And I'm trying all sorts of things I hadn't before, such as making a curry using powdered coconut milk, or making a burger from pork instead of beef.

You wouldn't think that a pork burger topped with pickled beets and a sauce made with goat cheese would taste great, but it sure did.  So delicious, if fact, that after I finished mine I ate the one that was meant for Ben!  (Hey, I hadn't eaten much during the day I and was hungry.)

I'm not hawking for Blue Apron but as a new customer I did get several passes for free meals that I can send on to anyone interested in trying it, so let me know if you are.

Our weather has swung back up to "warm" again, with highs in the mid to upper seventies all this week.   The fall colors continue to be very beautiful.  This is the tree outside our North balcony, with just a glimpse of the 1st Flatiron in the background. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

News from Nepal

I last heard from Ben on Monday morning when he called to say that our friends John and Lori had fallen on the first day of the trek.  John broke his ankle and was helicoptered out and he and Lori were coming home.  Yikes!   It was a sketchy connection at best but at least I got that important news.

This morning I again heard from Ben, this time by text.  

Ben:  Hi guys!  Pretty good time here....

Ben:  Arduous hiking...hard to compare with anything in CO.  Looking forward to showering and clean clothes.

Me:  Great to hear from you!

Ben:  Hi Love

Me:  Was the photo taken just now?

Ben:  Making friends!  Photo is from 2 days ago.  Wifi going off soon.

Me:  OK...loved the pics. 

Then Ben send this photo to our cat loving friend, Inger.

Ben:  Hi from Nepal...Doing ok. 

Inger:  What a handsome and exotic cat!  Thanks Ben!

It's not much, but it's enough!  

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Decisions, Decisions

A few months ago I finished piecing together this quilt top, a little (24 x 30") wall hanging made in a modern, improvisational (meaning no pattern and no measuring) style.  I prepared a back and layered it for quilting but then didn't know how I wanted to quilt it so I put it aside. 

One of my "while Ben is gone" projects was to finish this piece so I put it up on my design wall and thought about the various options for quilting it.  

Playing around on a little sample I had made from leftover blocks, I considered an overall pattern of diagonal lines....

...but decided all those lines would distract from the graphic impact of the piece.

I tried interlocking boxes using a variegated thread that changed from brown to black as it was sewn...    

...and liked the blocks but not the thread. 

Finally I decided to do an overall open pattern of interlocking boxes in a plain white thread.  It turned out pretty well. 

Then I had to decide how to finish the edge of the quilt.  A traditional binding was too, well, too traditional.   I liked the idea of a corded edge but had never done it on a piece this large.  So I decided on a faced edge, one where a facing on the front is pulled around to the back, leaving a smooth clean edge.   Here's a detail. 

Here's an overall view of the finished work.  

My studio was now in shambles but I had finished the quilt!  Instead of cleaning up the mess, it was time to make decisions about some home decorating projects. 

This morning I met my designer friend, Lotus, at the tile store to pick out tile for the 1st floor bathroom and for the front porch and foyer.  I love tile stores!  It was kind of sad to think this most likely be the last time I'd need to shop at such a wonderful place, since we're nearing the end of our remodeling projects.  

For the bath we picked out large white subway tiles and a glitzy glass accent strip. We're thinking about the larger gray tiles for the floor, but haven't decided yet.  

 For the porch, large porcelain pieces that mimic the look of slate but have none of the maintenance problems.  

 I think it will look super!  It won't be installed for another three weeks or so, and the bath isn't being tackled until the end of December.  But at least these decisions are made, and that's a great start.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


We are enjoying what may be the last of the long, warm and beautiful Autumn we've had this year. Yesterday we hit a record high of 85 degrees but by tomorrow the cooler weather is moving in and we'll be in the 50's and 60's by mid week.   The average date for the first snowfall is October 18th so it's about time for the season to change. 

I was out hiking at the Boulder Valley Ranch yesterday and had to stop and admire the beautiful colors.  

And knowing these long warm days are numbered has made me notice the wonderful flowers that may just be the last for the season.

Well, my sweetheart is across the world in Nepal now.  He was happy and just a bit nervous to be starting this adventure

After two days of traveling he arrived in Kathmandu.  He took a few photos in his hotel before crashing in bed for a good rest. He then disappeared into the countryside to begin his trek.  Since there is no Internet there, who knows when we'll hear from him again?

Before he left he finished painting the front porch, which I certainly appreciated.

Here's a "before" view of the house.

And here's the "after."  I love the change and smile whenever I see our new bright and welcoming front door.  In a few weeks we're having the concrete porch tiled, and that will also make a big change.

One of my quilt guilds had a quilt show this weekend.  I had a couple of pieces in it and realized when I saw them on display that I'm quite pleased with how they turned out.  I've resolved to spend more of my sewing time on original work like these.  

And in an inspired moment I rearranged the living room, moving the chairs and sofa  to take more advantage of the fireplace as winter descends.

More "before's and after's."

It's not quite right since the sofa is too close to the stairs now, but it's a start and my designer friend, Lotus, is going to help me get Spikey's habitat away from the fireplace and the my leather chair closer.   The one already next to the fireplace is Ben's; he called that spot almost the moment we walked in the house for the first time, smart man!

Monday, October 10, 2016

"...And I Must Go"

On Wednesday Ben is leaving for a two-week trekking trip in Nepal.  I write that calmly but it's beginning to dawn on me that he'll be gone for longer than at any other time in our marriage.  And quite a bit of that time he'll be "silent" with no phone or Internet.

But how could he pass up such a great adventure?  When he learned that some friends were joining a trek organized by Sherpa Mountain Adventures, a small company run by two brothers who grew up as Sherpas near Mt. Everest, he was intrigued.   One of the brothers now works in a Boulder restaurant and goes back to Nepal each year to lead a trek in the area around his old home, hiring his Sherpa friends and family members to guide the tours.  Last year, after the earthquake in Nepal, the brothers organized a medical mission trip which one of our friends joined.  She had a great experience and is going on the trek this year with her husband.

So, a small group of Boulder residents including two Ben knows,  led by native Sherpas and organized by a Boulderite with a good reputation, trekking in the foothills of Mt. Everest.....well, what's an avid hiker and climber to do?

Just to be clear, he's not hiking anything higher than 15,000 feet (for comparison, we live at 5,500 feet and Everest is 29,000 feet.)  But he'll see some great views of Everest.  And have lots of opportunities for meeting local people and experiencing a completely different way of life.   Should be quite an adventure.

It's my choice not to join him, and I expect to have my own adventure of living without him here for several weeks.   No, I'm not talking about sex! You've been listening to too much Trump!  But I do wonder, will I hike as much when Ben isn't here to encourage me?  Will I really do more quilting when I have the extra time?  What will it be like to manage all the chores without Ben's help?   How will I deal with missing him?  When you've been married almost forty years, a little time apart can be its own adventure.  

Ben's first stop is Hong Kong, where he has a twelve hour layover.  Lucky Ben is being met by the daughter of our friends Ray and Paula, who is now living in the area and is willing to give Ben a personal tour of the city.  Then he flies to Kathmandu, where he'll be for two days before the tour officially begins.  The group will take a jeep drive to an area east of Kathmandu and south of Everest and then trek around the area, visiting monasteries and hiking Pikey Peak until they arrive in Phaplu on the 26th.  On the 28th he leaves Kathmandu for home.

It's not easy finding the places he's going on a map of Nepal, but we have found a few.

The past few weeks Ben has been busy finishing up some home improvement projects before his trip.

He worked with the fence company (one man, locally owned) that installed our new iron fence on the College Avenue side of the yard.  I think it turned out great.  

And he's been prepping and painting the front door and porch.  He'll finish that up tomorrow and I'll show you some "before" and "after" photos.  I'm loving how it looks!