Monday, February 19, 2018

The Weekend Report

 On Friday ....

 I attended a workshop taught by Melody Randol, a local quilter who has won several national awards for her innovative landscapes. 

She makes extensive use of a thin translucent fabric called silk organza in her pieces in two ways.  First, she dyes it and then overlays it on fabric to change the colorization and, especially, to add dapples of light.  You can see that fairly well in this detail of a tree she has built with several layers of organza over cotton.

Second, she prints images of trees, ferns, and grasses right onto the organza, cuts out the image, and applies them to her landscapes.    You can see that in this image.

When I had taken Jette Clover's workshop in October we had learned how to print portraits and other images onto silk organza, but I hadn't thought of using it to reproduce images of nature to add to a landscape.   I've been wanting to try a landscape that has some grasses around a pond and mountains in the background, and will use this technique. 

Melody was an excellent teacher and I enjoyed spending the day with her and about 15 fellow art quilters.   We each worked on a small piece, about 6x9," to explore some of the techniques Melody taught us.

 On Saturday....  

I worked on my little piece, adding some blue organza to the sky and stitching down the greenery.  

In the evening we went to John and Dawn's for a tasty dinner of slow-cooked ribs.  Dawn has been in her new home for just about two weeks and it's amazing what she has got done.  The living room is all unpacked and organized so you can sit down and relax and the dining room is clear of boxes.  The china cabinets are full of china and crystal and the gas fireplace is actually usable since the boxes in front of it are gone.  Their new house is turning into a home. 

Paul had a gig with his ska band up in the nearby mountain town of Nederland starting at 10:00 Saturday, and I got up there about 11:00 to join in the fun.  Although I was tired when I arrived --okay, I admit that I don't usually stay up that late nowadays-- the lively music energized me and I stayed until the band packed up at 1:00 a.m.   The Pioneer Inn where they played can get a bit crazy as the night progresses; I thought this photo captured a bit of that. 

You may remember that Paul dyed his hair red recently  It's now fading out to a lovely pink, or, I should say, many lovely shades of pink.  Isn't it awesome?

 On Sunday...

I slept in late; no surprise there!  We took a hike up to Chautauqua, started a new jig saw puzzle, and I did some reading and sewing.  A nice laid back day.

By evening Ben and I were getting restless.  We'd been home enough and snow was expected overnight so we decided to walk downtown for a drink at the Bitter Bar before going home to make dinner.   Well, you guessed it, we ended up eating downtown at Oak, one of my favorite places.  We sat at the "Chef's bar" and watched the action in the kitchen and had a good time.

The promised snow did start to fall overnight and we awoke this morning to a cold but pretty winter snowfall which is supposed to continue throughout the day and into the evening, leaving us with about 2-5 inches by tomorrow.    We'll soon leave to do our Monday Meals on Wheels run and later will cook the dinner we didn't make last night, a chicken and white bean dish that should be perfect for a snow day. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Balconies and Valentines

Did you notice anything different about our house in the snow photos I posted the other day?  Something is missing. 

Yes, the balcony railings are gone.

Over the past few weeks Henry the carpenter has worked hard to get rid of the old flooring, repair the structural underpinnings of the balconies, and then install new Trek decking.  It took some doing but balconies are now all ready to receive their new, modern iron railings.

Amos the iron master came out last week and measured everything and told us the new railings would be ready to install about the middle of March.  Watch this spot; the "before" and "after" photos should be pretty dramatic! 

We are celebrating Valentine's Day with cinnamon rolls for breakfast, a nice mid-day hike in our warm but windy weather, and dinner at Ray and Paula's.  Wishing everyone a lovely day!

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Bit of Snow

We had a bit of snow on Saturday and again today.  Although it was only a couple of inches it was very welcome since so far this year we've only received about half of what is usual.  And apart from contributing to the slowly rising snow pack (and hence into our summer water supply) the snow is pretty. 

 But snow is always prettier with sunshine striking it, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow, which promises 50 degrees and sunshine. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018


Occasionally I'll catch Paul in a good moment and get him to pose for a photo.  This morning held one of those moments.  How do you like his new hair color?  

Sunday, February 4, 2018

And There Went January!

Whew, there was a lot going on in January!

But the last thing that happened was that I made a quick trip to Virginia to help my sister-in-law, Dawn, fly her cats to their new home in Colorado.  Her husband and twin sons had moved to Longmont in August but Dawn had to stay behind to finish her last six months of work as a doctor for Kaiser.  You can imagine that her retirement on January 31st was a cause for great celebration!

 Here is one of the two kitties that had kept Dawn company those six long months in Virginia.  He's on top of one of the packing boxes in the not quite empty house, calmly surveying the scene unaware that he would soon be stuck in a cat carrier for an exciting adventure. 

 But first, some more celebrating.   For old times sake we went to L'Auberge Chez Francois for our last dinner in Virginia.  The location of many special occasion dinners for both John and Dawn and Ben and me and our families, it was the perfect way to say a final goodbye to life in the DC area.

The next day it was time to pack up the cats and head to the airport.

Dawn is smiling in this photo but I can tell you that we were both a bit nervous a bout getting these cats through the experience!

Dawn sprayed the inside of the carriers with a "calming spray" said to "mimic the pheromone produced by mother cats to calm their kittens."  It was similar to what we used when we flew Fetcher out in 2014 and it worked just as well, leaving the kitties calm enough to be hand-carried through security and dozing throughout the flight.  

It all went well and here we are, happily smiling after our arrival in Denver.  Mission accomplished! 

As happy as I was to help get Dawn and the cats reunited with John and the twins in Colorado, I was also glad to have the chance to reunite briefly with friends while I was in the DC area.  My cherished sister, Jean, drove up from southern Maryland to have a little "slumber party" with me the first night with me in a hotel in Tyson's Corner.  It was such fun.  

The next day I drove up to Baltimore to have a long chat with Margie, who had once been our next door neighbor and later was Paul's day care provider for several years before she moved to Pennsylvania.  

That night I stayed with Greg and Lorraine, parents of Paul's friend Alex who had come to visit us right the first week of January.  Loved catching up with them and seeing how their other son, Tommy, had grown up.  

On Thursday I had lunch with Sara, a co-worker at Holy Trinity day school where I worked after retiring from the Library of Congress.  Then I drove into DC to visit with Rhonda, another colleague from Trinity before driving to Tyson's to meet Dawn.  

It was a whirlwind of visits but so rewarding.  Isn't it amazing when you can just pick up from where you left off even though you haven't seen a friend in years?   What a gift to have friends like that. 

Now I'm back home and it's Super Bowl Sunday and light snow is falling.  I had a quick but good trip and am glad to be back home.  

John and Dawn's Virginia house still has to be emptied, cleaned, and painted before it goes on the market in a few weeks.   But their long move is almost completely over! 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Snowy Sunday

 Finally we've had a decent snowfall!  Saturday night the snow began and it continued until about noon on Sunday, leaving us with about seven inches.   It's winter in Colorado and it's supposed to snow.  So glad it finally did.

The twins and Gus were here so it made for a cozy family type of a day at home.

Gus continued his campaign to make friends with Fetcher.....

...and great progress was made on the jig saw puzzle.

While some caught up on their sleep..

...others braved the weather and got outside. 

Everyone did at least a little snow clearing, though Ben did quite a lot.   It was fun to see folks on the street enjoying the weather...

 ...and even our cars looked like they were happily giving each other a kiss!

As always on a snow day we ate well.  We had French Toast for breakfast,  Risotto with Sausage and Parsley for dinner (so good the twins even had seconds), and served cheese popcorn and Duncan Hines brownies to bribe the kids to participate in "Family Movie Night."   It's so hard to choose a movie that everyone might enjoy.  We watched "Master and Commander," which was somewhat successful.  

Speaking of movies, Ben and I went to see "The Post" last week and thought it was excellent.  You should go.     

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Around Here

Around here we are having a very busy month!  My SIL, Dawn, was in town last weekend for her boys' 15th birthday and we enjoyed a fun few days shopping and eating out together.  And, of course, we had cake and ice cream with the twins on their big day Sunday.  Dawn flew home Tuesday to wrap things up in Virginia before her official last day of work on the 31st.  

It snowed a bit on Monday, just enough to make doing Meals on Wheels exciting as we navigated the snow and traffic.   It was great to see some snow!  I'm watching the weather reports for this weekend as some additional snow appears to be on its way. 

We have a new garage door.  Here's the old one...

...and the new one.   It's insulated, which will make the garage a little warmer as well as the two rooms above the garage, the tv/guest room and my studio.  I must report that all that insulating we did when we resided the house this fall is making a difference.  I used to have to turn on the portable heater when I watched TV, but now don't even think about it.  

And the next home improvement project is underway, redoing the two balconies off the master bedroom.  They are a great feature but after thirty years of use they were dirty and cruddy and dated looking. 

The idea was to replace the old wood flooring with a Trek-like decking and to replace the wood railings with modern ironwork.  Unfortunately, things aren't going quite as planned.  The carpenter reports that the joists on one balcony appear to be rotten and a structural engineer is coming tomorrow to tell us what kind of repairs are required.    $$$$$$!!   After all the renovation we did on our Maryland house and on this one, we are sure used to hearing "You never know what you will find when you start tearing apart an old house.. "  More than the money, I really resist having to pack up everything breakable in the dining room for the third time in two years.    The joists run into the dining room ceiling which means the ceiling has to be ripped up.   Urgh!  Quell mess!  Oh well, the balconies have to be made safe as well as more stylish, so we're in for it.

Partly in response to the upheaval going on around me, I've been sewing up a storm. I finished up a large quilt to donate to Blue Sky Bridge and a small one to go to the local Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.   I do love making these Outreach quilts.  Today I showed the two I had just finished at one of my quilt guilds and I got all choked up just thinking about how they would be used to comfort a baby or a child.  And also their parents.  I often think of the parents when I sew these types of quilts and hope they will get some comfort from these expressions of care and concern for what they are going through when their child is ill or in distress.   

Dawn's husband, John, flew out today to join Dawn in Virginia so he could be at her retirement party on Sunday.  We're minding the twins which means that the guest bed is open again for business, much to Fetcher's pleasure.  His love of that bed is made even stronger by the presence of That Handsome Dog Gus who is also staying with us over the weekend.   Fetcher can tolerate Gus for a while, but then it sure is nice to cuddle up with the twins!