Monday, October 19, 2020


For several months we have been experiencing poor air quality due to smoke from many western fires, including ones in California, Wyoming, and our own state.    

Here's a quick summary of the Colorado fires that have affected us.  At the end of July a lightning strike near Grand Junction started the Pine Gulch fire which burned until the end of September, destroying 140,000 acres.  In August we followed the progress of the Grizzly Creek fire that threatened Glenwood Springs and closed the famous Glenwood Canyon highway on I 70 for several days before it was contained.   On August 14th the Williams Fork fire started near Fraser and Granby, the area where Turbo's breeder is located.  As of the end of September it had burned nearly 13,000 acres and it is still burning.  The Cameron Peak fire started on August 13th near Ft. Collins, about an hour from us, and it has grown to be the largest fire in Colorado history, burning more than 164,000 acres and still only 56% contained.  

 Depending on which way the wind blows each day, these fires have sent plumes of stinky smoke our way, greatly decreasing the quality of our air.   And these are quite apart from the fires in other western states which also send smoke our way some days.  Some days the smoke is quite dramatic.  And it is always sad to realize that we are destroying our air quality.

For example, on Friday afternoon as I walked Turbo I was mesmerized by a plume of smoke that appeared to billowing down from Boulder Canyon but was actually from the Cameron Peak fire.   The smoke was so bad that I drove up to the half mile up to Chautauqua park to pick up Ben and his friend Scott after they had finished a big hike.  Of course they could have walked on back to our house but the smoke was so thick that I was quite worried for them.  And we ate our carryout dinner in the house rather than outside, even with the pandemic raging.  What was worse; the smoke or the virus?  We decided on the former and set up two air purifiers in the dining room and wore masks as much as possible.   

Smoke on Friday afternoon 

Ben found this photo online of the Cameron Peak fire taken, I think, yesterday, with the Lumpy Ridge climbing area on right and Estes Park below.  Estes Park is about an hour drive from here.    

Cameron Peak fire above Estes Park, source unknown 

But now all of a sudden there are several wildfires burning in the Boulder area itself.   None are threatening our own home in central Boulder, but they all are scary and dramatic and threatening to some of our surrounding neighborhoods.

On Saturday I was taking an online workshop about using digital photographs in quilts.  At the lunch break I took Turbo out for a walk and was astounded to see that the sky was turning an amazing orange.  This was from a new fire, the Calwood fire, named because it began close to the Cal-wood Education Center, where Paul first went to camp the summer we moved to Boulder.  The nearby mountain town of Jamestown was evacuated that afternoon.  I haven't heard the fate of the buildings there and I really hope that the Mercantile restaurant where Paul's band played several times was spared.   

Orange skies from the Calwood fire on Saturday afternoon at 4:30

It happened that Ben and I had 6:00 dinner reservations at the Flagstaff House, up Boulder Canyon.  Our table on the patio gave us an amazing viewpoint from which to watch the fire spread down the ridge towards the northern outskirts of Boulder.  In fact, the fire destroyed 26 homes north of town off of route 36 and is now threatening the town Lyons, about a 30 minute drive from here and where my favorite quilt shop is located.  Here's one of the photos we took from the Flagstaff House.   It was an amazing experience to sit on that restaurant's lovely patio and watch the fire as the night descended.

Calwood Fire north of Boulder from the Flagstaff House

This is a Daily Camera photo of one of the homes burned near route 36. 

courtesy of the Daily Camera 

The Calwood fire continues to burn and has destroyed almost 9,000 acres, making it Boulder county's largest ever fire. 

And today yet another fire has sprung up, this one up Lefthand Canyon, again right outside of town. This fire is threatening the mountain town of Gold Hill, where our neighbors have a second home.   

On another note, my sister Jean arrives tomorrow for a visit and I'm very excited to see her!  We were last together a year ago and it's been too long.  Unfortunately, our friend Janice, who was also planning to come, has contracted COVID and had to cancel her plans to join us.  She lives in Utah which currently has a positivity rate of 15% compared to the 5% where Jean and I live.  Many people in Utah resist masking and social distancing and everyone pays a price for that, which leads me to share this link to a clever song about masking up.

Since I always like to leave on a happy note, I have to share this photo of Paul and Turbo that we took last week when we visited with Paul at his new place.  Aren't they the cutest? 

Monday, October 12, 2020

A Transformation

This is the basement "bonus room" back in early 2014, just after we bought our house.  Along with the tiny bathroom next door, it made a perfect bedroom for Paul.  He set it up so one end was the gaming zone and the other was the bedroom, and we painted two of the four walls green, which was still Paul's favorite color at the time. 

When he moved out in early September I decided to claim the space for me and Ben.  I had visions of an area where several people could watch TV on a big screen, where there would be a nice rug to stretch out on when the mood to exercise hit, and where a bed would be all ready to hold Paul or guests or even me or Ben if the need arose.   Our upstairs guest/TV/office room only held two people comfortably, it always took a while to set the pull out sofa bed up, and we had no floor space open anywhere in the house for stretching or doing pilates or yoga poses.   

Having established the goals for the redesign of the bonus room space, the first decision was what color to repaint it.  After trying several samples on the walls I began to realize that I was a bit reluctant to paint over Paul's green.  Somehow losing that green was symbolic of losing my little boy.  Once I worked through that little issue I quickly decided that the new color would be Benjamin Moore's Steel Blue, a lovely blue grey that made me smile as soon as I saw it.     

Another big decision was what to put down for flooring.  The old carpet had to go since we'd had two small floods at one end of the room which resulted in about a third of the carpet being ripped up a year or so ago.   With the help of our interior designer friend, Lotus, we chose waterproof luxury vinyl in a deep walnut finish.   (We believe we've licked the water problem, but you never know.) 

I was really glad that we didn't do the installation when I saw how hard the two-man crew worked and what a great job they did.  

Ta da!  After a day's hard work the floor was down!  Ben is resting on the bed which the workmen kindly moved into its new position.  We were tired out from searching area consignment shops for some new-to-us pieces of furniture and getting rid of old things we didn't need anymore in this space.  I'm glad we live in a town where it's easy enough to find good used furniture and glad that we bought Ben's new old truck just in time to use in moving things in and out. 

Then we spent about a week prepping and then painting the ceiling and walls.  That was a lot of work!  We were too busy to take photos, but I'm sure you can imagine the chaos.  

But, finally it was over and now we have lovely space to watch our new 65" TCL screen, which Paul helped us pick out and get set up.   Check out the cool TV stand that Ben found online at Onkron.  It's on rollers so if you want to watch it while laying in the bed, you can roll it forward.  It also doesn't take as much space as the old style entertainment centers, and since we're just streaming nowadays we don't need shelves for components such as DVD players.  We moved the rug down from the old TV/guest room, the tail end of a sequence of moves involving rugs.     

In this photo you can see the bed area.  We moved the big ottoman from the small TV/guest room upstairs and it fits much better down here while providing another place to sit and a place to hold blankets to cuddle up in on our new-to-us chairs.  Can you tell when chair is "mine" and which is Ben's? 

And here you get an idea of how the rug offers an incentive to get down on the floor for some stretching.  The little ottoman (from Target!) is easy to move and the closet holds various straps and props used for stretching in front of the big mirror.   

So, it's all done now and we're very happy with the result.  We watched an action-packed movie down there last night and it was great, with lots of space and an open but still cozy feel. 

And in case you're wondering, this lovely swivel chair is "mine."   

Monday, September 28, 2020

The Last Days of Summer

Our long spell of hot and smoky days ended Sunday when a cold front moved through in a big rush, causing a twenty degree drop in temperature.  Yesterday was cool and cloudy and windy, the kind of raw fall day that finds you making pancakes for breakfast, which we did!  Today dawned bright and clear. 

As we thought, the arrival of students back at CU has resulted in a spike in our COVID numbers.   It is alarming, but it helps to see a visual chart like the one below where the light blue denotes the cases that are from CU students and the dark blue denotes the county residents.  It seems clear where the problem lays.  

As a result, the City of Boulder declared that CU students aged 18-22 years old could no longer "gather," and actually quarantined several fraternity and sorority houses that had hosted large parties as the school year began.   A "gathering" was first defined as "more than one person," but today the ruling was redefined to mean "more than two people," so at least two students can walk across campus together, or two roommates could go grocery shopping. 

 I do feel a bit sorry for all these lonely students, but then I feel a bit sorry for all us oldsters who simply want to get through this pandemic without getting sick or worse.  As you might imagine, the new ruling doesn't sit well with many students.  Notice the "Where is my money?" included on this sign. 

We've been doing a lot of painting down in the basement in preparation for new floors being installed tomorrow.  Paul's old green walls are going to end up a "Steel Blue," which should look great with all the bright white woodwork on the windows and closets.  But that painting happens after the floor goes in, since the baseboards will all be taken out as the new floor is laid over the old, and when they go back in they will be a bit higher than they are now.  So it's better to paint the walls after the floor is in.  

But meanwhile we painted the ceiling in Paul's old room and over most of the yellow walls in the adjacent utility area.  We also reworked the little alcove where the little fridge has been living for a few years now, giving it some different storage containers.  

Here is a "before" photo....

...And here is an "after." 

Although the alcove is now Steel Blue, the stairway and walls near the door are all now grey.  Goodbye sunny yellow and hello soothing grey! 

I don't think I ever wrote about how I finished the leaf quilt that I last mentioned way back on August 5th.  

I quilted it very heavily, which I enjoyed doing very much. 

Here's a detail of the back showing some of the dense quilting.   I really enjoyed creating this quilt and look forward to hanging it in the living room for the fall season.  Thanks again to quilt artist Rian Ammerman for posting her tutorial on the process she's worked out for creating this type of piece. 

Ben has been busy with his own creative project, the updating of a 2000 Ford Ranger XL, which he bought two hours after the owner, our neighbor, put a "For Sale" sign in its front and rear windows.  Talk about an quick sale!  Well, Ben has wanted a truck for some time and this one was easy to buy at a great price.  Not only will it be great for schlepping things -- we've already schlepped a used dresser from the thrift store to Paul's new digs -- but it will be a great vehicle for Paul to use when he learns to drive.  When Paul first sat in the truck his comment was, "Do you think Dad will let me buy this from him?"  Well, probably, but first you need to get a driver's license!  Ah, well, all things in their time. 

Ben has already given the truck a good cleaning, upgraded the seats, and replaced the rear latch.  Next up, new door handles.  

And the other big news around here is that we bought a gas fire table from Costco, just perfect for warming up the cool nights outside.  Add a few faux fur blankets and we may be able to do some "social distanced" visiting on the patio this winter.  

For soon enough our Indian Summer will be gone and the darker, colder fall and winter months will be here.  

Already the colors are changing, and if Ben and I don't get up to the high country soon to see the golden Aspens, they'll have turned without us enjoying their display.    

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Around Here

Around here we have several inches of snow on the ground this morning!  Yes, it is early for a snowfall, but no one is complaining since we need the moisture so badly.  Not only for our plants,  but to dampen the Cameron Peak wildfire that has been burning north of here since August 13th.  For weeks we've had hot and smoky days, and we hope the 14" of snow that fell on the fire will stop it from growing, if not extinquish it all together.   

Labor Day was very hot but then the temps fell some 50 degrees and we had a high of only 31 on Tuesday. That night we had a hard freeze that killed our summer flowers and vegetables and a wet heavy snow that snapped branches all over the neighborhood, including our neighbor's which just missed our new fence.   

We always have comfort food when it snows.  This time it was homemade banana muffins for breakfast and Spicy and Saucy Cherry Tomato Pasta, which was a tasty way to use the cherry tomatoes harvested from the garden before the freeze.  We added ground sweet Italian sausage and it was really good.    

I also picked several vases of flowers that are beautifying the mantle and other surfaces inside.  

I sure have loved the zinnias and dahlias this year and I'll miss seeing them from my studio window.

Around here we are celebrating Turbo's first year with us.  He arrived "home" last September 7th as a tiny little pup and is now a full member of the family.  Here he is up at Chautauqua before the snow hit yesterday.     

He sure is a lot of fun.  Lately he's been watching TV with me in the evenings.  He's always hung out with me in the TV room, but now he seems to actually watch the screen which I find very charming.  If a dog barks on the screen, Turbo gets upset and barks back at them.  Otherwise, he'll watch anything. 

Around here Sheba continues to demand equal time.  Yesterday she was so darn cute sitting on Ben's chest while he slept that I had to take her photo.  (Ben loves these photos!) 

Around here we getting ready to redecorate the basement.  Now that Paul is living with friends, it's a good time to put in new tile floors and to repaint.  We'll keep the bed and drawers for both guests and Paul to use when they visit, and hope to add a larger TV watching area than the two-seat area we have upstairs.  There will also be some open space for doing some stretching/Pilates activities.  I'm thinking of dark waterproof Luxury Vinyl Tile for the floor and neutral paints in white, cream, and soft blue or grey, as shown in the paint ad below, for the walls.   

Around here we got out for a little adventure last week, a drive up to the ruins of Caribou, an old mining town at 10,000 feet in the Indian Peaks.  It was a trick to find it and we were on a gravel road for almost five miles, so we were excited to actually get there.  But no sooner had Turbo leapt from car for a walk but it began to rain.  We enjoyed the views and the cool sweet air up at that elevation before the downpour started in earnest and we headed back to Boulder.      

 Around here I finished a cute outreach quilt out of some Princess fabric.  

And then I created a fun little reversible table topper out of some leftover wine-themed fabric. 

Around here I've been enjoying making my way through the amusing TV show,  Episodes.  Nothing better than a good show that has five seasons!  

Linking to my friend LeeAnna's "I Like Thursdays" at Not Afraid of Color