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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Baby It's Cold Outside!

Blizzards shutting down Colorado two weeks in a row; it's snowed here 3 days in a row, which is unheard off in this Banana Belt part of the state! It's making life difficult for a lot of people, but since I'm retired and not travelling anywhere for the Holidays I've just decided to stay in and enjoy it. We had planned to spend the New Year weekend with our kids in Byers, Colorado, as we do each year, but they are East of Denver on I-70, which has been closed from Denver to the Kansas line for a couple of days, so here we are. Joe took off from his business today and has been watching old John Wayne movies, reading, and trying to figure out if the computer will work faster if he adds some additional RAM.

I'm creature watching, and putting together Vansyoc/Van Syoc/ Van Scoyoc/Van Schaick, et al, family history books for two of Joe's cousins. This entails printing lots of text and photos from the computer, and in the process, I've rearranged mucho family photos into separate family files instead of files arranged by the multitude of dates on which they were originally scanned into the computer. This mess has bugged my efficiency expert self for years. When I get them all properly arranged for ease of access I'll back them up on CDs and distribute copies, for safe keeping, to several family members so in case of a catastrophe we won't lose them. We have a few photos scanned that were originally taken before the Civil War, and the originals are from various sources throughout the country. I just hope as family members pass away someone keeps these treasures safe. It breaks my heart to see old anonymous photos for sale in antique shops. These kinds of tasks are my computer games; actual computer games have no attraction to me, but I love to research and organize.

In the creature watching area, we had a big, fat raccoon eating stale cinnamon raisin bread outside the sunporch sliding door last evening. He left his/her tracks in the snow and posed for his portrait under the car in the carport.

The yard has been full of the little snow birds (finches, sparrows, juncos,doves) at the feeders and on the seed stalks of the garden flowers and herbs. This morning there were several Dark Headed Juncos happily pecking up the bread crumbs left by the raccoon. They left tracks in the snow also.

I read on my Colorado Birders e-mail this morning that most of the Christmas Bird Counts have been postponed due to the impossible driving conditions. Our local bird count is supposed to be next Friday; I normally take part by counting the birds that come to my feeders on count day. My days of hiking the wilds are past since I've gained the constant companionship of Ursula Oxygen, but I sure get a lot of enjoyment from watching them in the yard.

I'll spend New Years Day sewing on Women of the Bible blocks during another of our Virtual Retreats. I'm behind 3 blocks and hope I can get them done Monday.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Weather Outside is Snowy

Colorado is closed down; the Governor has declared an emergency and called out the National Guard to rescue people in need, stranded in cars or without power at home. Luckily we've only gotten about 7 inches of snow and less wind than further north. I ventured out this afternoon to get some photos for future quilting endeavors. Big, fluffy flakes were falling on my face and on the camera screen. I am so happy that we still have power and heat, as well as TV and the Internet.

Remember what my Lilliputian Prairie Pond loooked like last summer? Here it is today. The fountain is still running enough to keep it from freezing over so the birds and other creatures can
still get a drink. When the leaves start falling I cover the little pond with chicken wire stretched over a hula hoop and that provides an interesting texture to the snow and ice. I'm already thinking about what my January 12X12 project might look like.

We don't usually have a white Christmas so this blizzard is sure messing with people's travel plans. My grandson who attends CU was supposed to fly from Denver International to Sacramento tomorrow to meet with his girlfriend's family for the holidays but they don't expect to open DIA again until tomorrow evening.
Hope wherever you are, you are warm, comfortable, and have peaceful, loving thoughts about the holiday season.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

WIP Wednesday

Well, I see we're no longer Blogger Beta but the New Blogger! We're all in the same boat again.

This is the first Christmas since we moved to this house, about 4 years ago, that I've put up my nativity scene and my Santas. Their boxes were stored in the storage shed until this fall when Joe cleaned it out and found them for me. I'm so happy to be able to use them to decorate the house again. The nativity figures originally belonged to Joe's Mom; they are plastic but were made in Italy and I like their design. This year I bought a little stable to house them in. I now want to find a star and some sheep to add to the scene. It is important to me to keep in mind that we are celebrating the birth date of Jesus Christ at Christmas. It is so easy to get overwhelmed with all the shopping and preparations instead of sitting at the feet of Jesus and accepting the peace that he came to bring us.

We've just finished studying the sisters Martha and Mary of Bethany in our Women of the Bible group and I tend to be a natural Martha, except that I'm not that great at keeping house and cooking anymore. I am good at driving myself and becoming resentful about making myself so tired and guilty about what I don't get done. So it is good for me to have the nativity scene around to gently remind me to relax and enjoy. I also have an old King James version of the Bible, opened to the birth of Jesus in Luke, on the shelf next to the nativity scene.

The small collection of Santas have just attached themselves to me over the years, starting with the little celluloid Santa Christmas tree lightbulb, from when I was a child. The big celluloid Santa belonged to my Granny. I get a big kick out of the 2 Santa's elves that were made in Occupied Japan and have faces straight out of a Japanese folktale. These and the similar Santas as well as the tiny house and brush trees came in a box purchased at auction when we had our antique store about 18 years ago. Some things were just too good to sell to someone else.

I'm also making some Christmas quards with the family photo my son took at Thanksgiving printed onto fabric. I'm simply fusing these onto stiff stabilizer, backing them with some lovely new metallic polka dotted fabric and satin stitching around the edges.

In addition to the small nativity scene, above, I have needlepointed all the figures for another nativity. They've been hidden away in a drawer in my studio-bedroom for several years, which is a shame, because they are fantastic. Every year I forget about them until too late in the season to get them done. Finishing them is one of the goals I'm adding to my 2007 list.

Monday was Joe's birthday so I made a pot roast and biscuits dinner topped off with German chocolate brownies and ice cream; Joe's had a candle on top. I gave him a couple of Theodore Roosevelt's autobiographical books because he recently told me about the big old Roosevelt autobiography that he used to read from at a relatives house years ago but never managed to read the entire thing. I couldn't find an old copy like the one he read, but I found the recent reprint of the autobiography and another book he wrote about his experience on the ranch. Now he can read the rest of the story.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

December Journal Quilt_Passing the Torch

This final page in the fabric book honoring my Granny is a joint effort by three generations; I got granddaughter Mandy's permission to use a block she put together from my scrap bag; to her block I added some more of Granny's blocks, fabrics and sewing notions and designed, fused and sewed it together myself. Passing the Torch celebrates the passage of the love of quilting from Granny to me and on to Mandy and future generations.

I was so proud of Mandy when she put together such an attractive block from scraps without a pattern and without supervision. It looked so nice that I knew it had to be the centerpiece of the final journal quilt in this series. I sewed on muslin borders to make it the proper size and then fused on the Grandmother's Flower Garden block and the photos printed on cotton fabric; then I machine stitched around each fused piece.

A photo of Mandy holding Ditto centers the Flower Garden block; the lower photo is of five generations of our family and is the only photo that contains both Granny and Mandy. You have to use your imagination to see Mandy because she is in her mother's tummy and was born two months later. The baby is her brother, Ben. Her mother, my daughter Kat, was quite ill at this time with the beginning of the kidney problems that have plagued her all these years. Granny was 92 in this photo and only lived a year longer. My Mom, Evy, and I are also in this photo which is framed with long antique brass sewing machine bobbins. A bow of bias binding is tipped with tiny vintage wooden thread spools.

A piece of silk organza attached to the center of Mandy's block has the following quotation from Jennifer Chiaverini printed onto it:

"At last she understood the true lesson of the Christmas Quilt, that a family was an act of creation, the piecing together of disparate fragments into one cloth--often harmonious, occasionally clashing and discordant, but sometimes unexpectedly beautiful and strong. Without contrast there was no pattern, as Great-Aunt Lucinda had taught her long ago, and each piece, whether finest silk or faded cotton, would endure if sewn fast to the others with strong seams--bonds of love and loyalty, tradition and faith."

The back of the page has more of Granny's sample blocks and pieces fused onto a muslin background which is fused onto a thin cotton batting. One edge is finished with a binding of strips of vintage cloth; the other three edges are satin stitched. I had planned to bind the whole piece with the colorful vintage fabrics but after attaching the one side I thought that doing the whole edge would overwhelm the page.

I am very pleased with the journal quilt fabric book that I've completed. I missed a couple of months but think that I've said what I planned on saying from the conception of this project. I still have to figure out how to attach the pages into a book format and will post a photo when that is completed. I cannot express how happy I am to have taken part in this Challenge. It gave me the opportunity to learn so much about art quilting and fabric collage as well as creating the memorial to my Granny's life and creativity that I've wanted to do for several years. I now plan to display the finished fabric book, in July, at the art show on Missouri Day in my and Granny's hometown, Fowler, Colorado. There are many people there who remember her and will appreciate this tribute to her.

It is appropriate that I quoted from one of the Elm Creek Quilt books, since Jennifer Chiaverini is responsible for me being involved with online quilters. When I read the Master Quilter as a new quilter, I was fascinated by the online group of quilters and decided to get online and see what it was all about. That is how I became a member of the Quilting Forum which led to The Journal Quilt Challenge 2006, which finally brought us to the Quilt Studio Webring (see sidebar button).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

WOTB Beggar's Block

Here is my block for the Syrophoenician Woman. This one was just pieced and is not a precise as the PP'd ones.

The Syrophoenician Woman came to Jesus and begged for healing for her daughter who was demon possessed and suffering greatly. Jesus asked her if he should feed the children's (Jews) food to the dogs (gentiles) and his apostles tried to shoo her away. She persevered and kept pleading; replying that the dogs were allowed to eat the crumbs that fell off the table onto the floor. Jesus then told her that because of her great faith her daughter was healed. Her story can be found in Matthew 15 and Mark 7.

I chose the orange to represent the woman demanding Jesus' attention and healing for her daughter. The blue represents her trust and confidence in Jesus. The gold is always the presence of God which never fails, no matter what the situation.

I'm not getting much quiltmaking done and am having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit. Would you believe, I tripped on the two steps up from the sunporch into the house and fell down again. I managed to mangle two of my potted herb plants in the process and rebruised my right knee, bruised my left thigh and knee and wrenched my back. With major effort and pain I did manage to get back up and toddle to the recliner and I'm stiff and sore today. I think this is a definite sign that I need to get back to Curves to exercise three times a day. When I was going regularly and taking off weight my balance was a lot better. first goal for the coming year is to exercise at Curves three times a week and shed a minimum of 6 pounds a month until I reach the weight that my doctor recommends for me. This ought to resolve the falling problem plus improve my general health and condition.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Santa and Reindeers on Main Street

It was a gorgeous day, blue skies, sun, 66 degrees F., and Santa Claus making his list and getting his photo taken by proud parents. I took my foster granddaughter, Amber, to see the reindeer and ponies. There was a herd of seven reindeers from the Top Rail Ranch in Penrose in a pen at the local bank parking lot, which opens off Main Street. They are smaller than I realized and some had very large antlers, these were the females, there were only two young males. They are very tame and unafraid of even crowds of people. I was entranced by them, but then, I think camels are cute.

Santa's helpers were taking people on rides in a small decorated wagon pulled by two ponies, Biscuit and Gravy. I didn't care to try to climb up on the wagon but Amber enjoyed a ride around the block. That mansion behind the wagon was the home of the founder of Florence. For many years it has been a mortuary since Mr. McCandless didn't need it any longer. He named the town for one of his daughters.

We were lucky to find a parking spot in the parking lot. Main Street and the side streets were parked solid, I hope people were doing lots of Christmas shopping at the antique stores and art galleries. These are the kind of activities that make it fun to live in a small town that is an antique shopping mecca.

The picturesque commercial buildings along Main Street, that are now filled with antique shops and art galleries, were built at the turn of the Twentieth Century with the wealth of the gold from Cripple Creek, on the flank of Pikes Peak. The Florence and Cripple Creek RR carried the ore to be processed in several mills in Florence. There was also an active oil field and two refineries here, and numerous coal mines. Now Florence has antiques and art, Cripple Creek has legalized gambling and the old RR bed is a tourist scenic road through the Phantom Canyon. It's a tough life, but someone has to live here. We love company so you are all invited to stop by.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

WIP Wednesday

I almost forgot that this was Wednesday; I've had doctor's appointments all week and haven't had time to do much. Luckily, I'm getting good news on my condition except that I've gained 10 pounds back of the 35 pounds I lost last year; so I'm back on my eat healthy and exercise regimen as soon as my ankle can stand using the machines at Curves. Why is it so hard to continue shedding weight and exercising when it makes me feel so much better? Too many years of managing my feelings with food rather than a more positive way.

Here is a photo of my work table as it looks this evening. I'm piecing another WOTB block and assembling my December Journal Quilt. This JQ is built around a block designed and sewn by Granddaughter, Mandy, from pieces out of the scrap basket; the quilting heritage passing on to the next generation. Mandy was pleased to allow me to use her block in my fabric book. I want to get this completed and posted soon so I can then concentrate on Christmas.

I've been corresponding with Debra and Beth about making one of the children's quilts for the 40 Quilt Service Project. Beth is sending some great striped sky designs fabric to make a Strippy Nine Patch quilt. I am delighted to be involved with this project to make quilts for many deserving people in 2007. Quilters have such big hearts!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Thank Our Troops this Holiday Season

Remember my neighbor, Crystal, who was injured by schrapnel in Iraq early this year, so I made her a flag quilt with the logo of her Engineers batallion as a token of my appreciation. Now we can send thank you e-mails to military personnel on this Thank the Troops site. Thanks to Teri and Debra for this link.

Update on Crystal's condition. She is now sporting a bandage over most of her head, as she recuperates from surgery to repair the damage to her ear drums. They waited to do this surgery until she had healed from the schrapnel injuries and strengthened her body with physical therapy. Hope when she heals that she will have her hearing back. It's ironic that she lost her hearing from the concussion of this explosion; her older sister was born deaf and the family all converse with her in sign language.

We owe so much to these military men and women who are protecting our freedom from those who despise us and our freedom.

A side note: I just read that 1000 survivors are signed up to attend the Pearl Harbor 65th Anniversary Reunion this week in Honolulu.