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Monday, April 30, 2007

WIP Wednesday

Spring gave us a preview of summer today with a temperature in the high 80s, which cooled off fast in the late afternoon when a thunderstorm rained on us. As soon as these first hot days show up our business phone rings constantly with requests for air conditioning work and refrigeration repair. From now on Joe will be running pretty fast to keep up with the calls.

I am proud of myself for getting my Lilliputian Prairie Pond cleaned, refilled, and the new fountain pump installed yesterday. You can't believe how smelly and ugly the bottom of a pond becomes. I used a wet vac to suck up some of the yucky water, but it couldn't get all the sludge in the sand and stones of the bottom, so I jet sprayed the bottom with my watering wand on the hose and use a 5 gallon bucket to dip the worst out, then I just let the water run over until the trash and gunk on the top was gone and left the pond filled with clean, clear water, which I treated with anti-algae chemicals and then added the beneficial bacteria treatment. [While doing all of this I ended up with 2 more ant bites on the backs of my thights; ants must have a thing for cellulite. I have declared war on these critters.] It is so clear I can see the pretty river pebbles on the bottom. This pond fountain is a popular place for the local cats and birds to get a drink, as well as a meditation place for me. Now I have to unwrap, clean and set up my small patio fountain.
As you can see in the photo, some of my prairie plants are already growing and the prairie grass is starting to green up at the roots. This is a hot weather grass so it doesn't get green as early as the blue grass, it also requires only a fourth of the water and only has to be mowed about once a month.

Quiltwise, I am working on some more of my Women of the Bible blocks and I received my piece of Virginia Tech fabric and bought a fat quarter of maroon so I'm ready to make my memorial block.

I am getting ready to attend the Denver International Quilt Festival this weekend; I'll stay with my oldest daughter in Wheatridge and plan to get together with Debra Spincic and Samantha. How exciting to meet some of my virtual playmates! I am also working on a small thank you surprise for Debra and a birthday present for my daughter, but can't
show them here, or they won't be surprises.
A sad postscript to a couple of my past posts about Colorado weather. After all this time another of the women who was injured in the Holly Tornado has passed away from her injuries. Also, on the news tonight, it was announced that the little baby on oxygen, in one of the homes without electricity due to the blizzard, passed away from the congenital heart defect he suffered. Please pray for these bereaved families.
On a brighter note, the state of Colorado brought in mobile homes for the families who lost their homes to live in while they make arrangements to find or build new homes.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

April Showers, Blizzards, and Flowers

It is obviously Springtime in the Rockies! Colorado had another major blizzard on Tuesday. We lucked out and only had heavy rain and high winds in our area, but only 60 miles to the northeast a lot of people are still without electricity which provides heat, cooking, light, entertainment and even, in a few cases, medical equipment such as an oxygen concentrator for a tiny baby just home from the hospital where she had heart surgery. The combination of strong wind and heavy, wet snow knocked down miles and miles of electric poles and the linemen are
working so hard to replace them, but it takes time. The Red Cross and other emergency agencies are helping the people, even delivering hot meals to the residents at a local school.

The night of the blizzard several school buses got stuck in the drifts and over 100 school kids ended up spending the night in schools and homes closest to where the buses got stuck. One woman, who must have a propane range, cooked pancakes for 18 kids and put them down for the night until emergency vehicles could make it through to take them home the next morning.

I had a medical appointment in Pueblo that day and it felt like it must feel driving under the sea, with the drenching rain and wind gusts. Luckily, Joe had to go to Pueblo for business reasons and was able to drive me. I don't know if I could have handled the car, lurching back and forth in the
wind, with my arthritic hands.

The other extreme of Springtime in the Rockies is that by yesterday the temperature was up in the 70s and tomorrow will be in the 80s and the leaves and flowers are beginning to burst forth.
I had to go out with my little digital camera and document this Spring. Hope you enjoy the tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, periwinkles, and bleeding hearts, I sure do! If you click on the purple hyacinth photo you can see the honey bee that was also enjoying the flowers.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Virginia Tech Memorial Quilts

Please go to this link to find info on making a block for Virginia Tech Memorial Quilts.

Here is a link to watch the video: "The Day They Kicked God Out of the Schools".

God bless and comfort all those who have been traumatized by the sad, horrible shooting at Virginia Tech.

Friday, April 20, 2007

WIP not Wednesday

My current works in progress are not quilt related. The rhubarb patch had gotten quite big and was about to go to seed, which is a definite no no. Then when I walked into the supermarket there was a special on large containers of California strawberries. (We have a few strawberry plants in our yard, but not enough to make anything from, and they are not bearing yet.) I brought home the strawberries, picked and deleafed the rhubarb and pulled out my great strawberry rhubarb jam recipe, and cooked
up some jam. It looks gorgeous in the
making,looks gorgeous in the jars, and tastes better than gorgeous on fresh hot breads. I can't eat much, due to my healthy living program, and I don't normally eat much jam or jelly anyway, but it is nice to have this on special occassions. Plus, I usually give away quite a few of the jars to friends and family. One jar went across the street to my neighbor Wally and his wife this morning.

The other work in progress is not nearly as much fun; it is sales tax report time for our refrigeration service business, so I am doing data entry and tax reports on the computer.

Did I ever mention that I name my computers? When we got this Dell PC, I immediately knew his name was Adam. When my Dad and his family migrated from South Dakota to Rocky Ford, Colorado in about 1930, when Dad was 14, the family rode in an old Ford, while Dad and a family friend, Adam Dell, drove their belongings in an ancient truck. The story of the "Big Migration" is a family favorite and a scream; especially when these "country hayseeds" drove through "the Big City of Denver" and discovered streetcars, stop lights, and penny gum machines. The Dells were close friends for years, and my closest cousin, Geraldine, married Adam's son in the Fifties, so we all became one family.

Here is a photo of Ditto helping me work on the tax report. At least I didn't have to do it alone.
From the looks of his eyes, I think he might be putting a hex on the tax collectors.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

April 12 x 12 Venus_The Evening Star

For April I chose to do a hexagon star pattern on the theme of The Evening Star. I had found a star block done in very old pink fabric in the box with the Basket blocks from the Vansyoc family. No one knows who made these blocks, but it must have been one of the old grandmothers because of the fabrics and hand stitching. My MIL Elsie did lots of crocheting and a little quilting but her quilts were machine sewn. Since I was fascinated with the block I wanted to make one and then I noticed how bright Venus was in the evening sky so decided this would be my April piece.

The hardest part of doing this quilt was photographing it for posting. Because of all silver metallic fabrics and threads, the light glared on it and made it look terrible. First I tried my usual method of lighting it from above plus the flash; one big shiny blur. Then I tried with no flash and only the overhead light; this was better but still quite unattractive. I was so disappointed and didn't want to post it, but this morning it finally came to me to try photographing it with only the natural daylight from the window; voila!... a presentable picture. I agree with Dee that quilters need to learn how to photograph their pieces. I never realized how much becoming a quiltmaker would drag me into photography.

For the background of the star I cut up an old nightgown that has been too small for years, but, I kept it because the fabric was so pretty. I felt it had the delicate blues and pinks of a Spring evening sky. For the star points I used a metallic silver tissue fabric from the stash of silkies sent to me by Debra S. I surfed the internet for a photo of Venus for the center hexagon, and
was delighted to find a nearly infrared space photo taken by the NASA Galileo project. I liked the color and it meant something personal to me because when working at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, my aerospace engineer son worked on this project and Joe and I were able to see it in the lab's clean room before it was sent into space. I downloaded the photo and printed it onto a June Taylor cotton fabric sheet and onto a silk organza to overlay the cotton for depth and more brilliant color, as well as the silky sheen.

I backed the slippery background fabric with muslin, so I could work with it, and fused the star pieces on with Steam a Seam 2; then zigzagged the edges with metallic silver thread.

I printed a photo of a painting by St. Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898), called "Evening Star", and the first lines of a poem by Scottish poet Thomas Campbell (1777-1841) called "To the Evening Star", onto silk satin and fused and zigzagged them to the same nightgown fabric for the back. (Please click on photos to see details and read poem) I sandwiched the front and back with a piece of cotton batting, sewed them envelope style, and machine quilted it with more metallic silver thread. (Thanks to Debra S. and Sande I am going to learn the technique of doing better envelope edges for my next piece.) I specifically chose not to do any binding or other type of framing for these "Nature Through the Seasons" monthly pieces, because I want them to represent squares cut directly out of nature.

This was my first experience of working with slippery fabrics; it's a whole different ballgame from sewing quilting cotton. I had never done a sheer overlay of a photo over a cotton printed photo before and was pleased with the result. The cotton just didn't have the color or sheen necessary to go with the shiny metallic looks of the other fabrics, which I felt added to the theme.

What I've learned from this project, so far this year, is that I need to continue to work on learning new skills as well as improving my basic sewing and quilting skills, so that I can display my works without embarrassment, and be taken seriously by judges in quilt shows. I need to look, carefully, at more quilts, in person, and take advantage of LQS classes in the area. I also need to get out of the house and watch how other quilters work, probably in some of the groups sponsored by the Royal Gorge Quilt Guild.

You can see all the April 12 x 12 pieces posted at Quilt Studio.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Colorado Tourism Press Release

Our snow storm is over and we had glorious blue skies and sunshine today. Joe had to drive up to an appointment in the mountains so I took my water bottle and book ("The Missionary Movement in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission of Faith by Andrew F. Walls_absolutely fascinating and eye opening) and tagged along.

We drove south through a couple of old coal mining towns (around which have developed a lot of attractive housing in the past 20 years) a few miles and then straight up the front slope of the Wet Mountains on Oak Creek Grade (this narrow dirt shelf road appears to angle up the side of the mountains at about 45 degrees). Just beyond the first ridge is a lovely little valley with a tiny fruit farm tucked in the bottom. There are gnarled antique apple trees as well as a new orchard of small trees on the other side of the road. They also have a nice size vineyard where they grow grapes for the Abbey Winery in Canon City. I told Joe that the first family to start growing fruit here (probably in the silver mining days) had to have been cockeyed optimists.

After driving about 25 miles up and down and around and around through the canyon and mountains, we turned onto a side road that was quite steep and very slippery. As a proficient control freak, when I feel out of control I panic! It's a good thing Joe was driving; after years of driving firetrucks and wreckers in Eastern Colorado, he knows how to handle a car in these circumstances (we were not driving an SUV like the people who live up there have to). We finally made it to the top of one of the lower mountains where there was a fantastic view of the snow covered Sangre de Cristos looming over the Wet Mountains.

I can see why people want to live there, but it requires a good four wheel drive vehicle, the fortitude to live with a dish internet phone system that isn't very efficient or effective, and numerous other challenges. Many of the residents of the mountains don't even have electrical service and have to depend on generators or solar energy systems. They also have to pay a considerable mileage fee to have their appliances repaired. This gives me the opportunity to take some lovely rides with Joe, meet some fascinating people and admire their interesting homes.

Driving back down that slippery road was easier than climbing it had been, but veeeery slippery. On the way back down the Oak Creek Grade I was able to get some wonderful shots of Pikes Peak, north beyond the Arkansas River Valley and Canon City. We then drove back home through Chandler Canyon and came into Florence on one of the numerous back roads. Joe says he has to get the high pressure washer out tomorrow to get the mud off of our white Chevy. We used that rather than his business van because it doesn't go up hills very well.

When you look at these photos (please click to enlarge them and get the effect better) you will realize that the main reason I have this blog is to let people know what a gorgeous place I am blessed to live in.

Friday, April 13, 2007

How Do You Spend a Snowy Friday the 13th?

I think my cat, Chow Yun Phat (ChoCho) had the right idea! He and Ditto like to get under my bed when it's cold because there is a heat register that warms the area quite nicely. They also hide under my bed when strangers are in the house. This morning while I was getting dressed in the bathroom, I saw that his front half was under the bed and his tail and back legs were sticking out from the bedskirt. I was tempted to crawl back under the covers, myself, but I didn't. Instead, I pressed the fabrics that I showed earlier in the week, as well as some more gold washed batiks that I purchased for my WOTB blocks at the Creative Cloth Closet, in Canon City, this week; and did some more work on my April 12 x 12. I didn't finish it time for my posting date, yesterday, so I will post it on the 16th.
ChoCho likes to watch birds as much as I do; he would just love to be in Rian's house watching that dumb Robin smack himself against the window.

Here's why it was a good day to press fabrics. Actually, the storm shifted a bit and we only got the north edge of it, so didn't get the major blizzard that had been forecasted. Since the snow is quite wet and melting off the streets as soon as it falls, it should help bring on the spring flowers when the sun comes out again.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

WIP Wednesday

I'm working on my April 12 x 12 but don't want to show it until it's done and posted. Here is a teaser to whet your appetites. I've been wanting to make a star with a hexagon center like the one that was in the box of old family quilt blocks that my sister-in-law gave me and decided that it would make a great Evening Star for my April piece. It amazes me how many quilt patterns I can find made from hexagons. Now I understand why so many quilters make series of quilts. One is never enough!

I've also been preparing paper piecing patterns for more WOTB blocks. I've been printing my patterns onto tracing paper, which is a hassle because I have to cut it down to fit and then tape it with removeable double sided tape to a sheet of paper so it will feed through the printer. My new printer is more sensitive than the old one and won't feed it if it is the tiniest bit off so

yesterday at the Creative Cloth Closet shop in Canon City, I noticed and purchased a package of Carol Doak foundation paper to try. It should feed better and be less slippery to work with than the tracing paper. Hope I like it better; Denise (the LQS owner) tells me that she has good results using it.

After receiving my copy of the book "Sew One and You're Done" by Evelyn Sloppy, I decided to make one big star instead of lots of small ones. I've started cutting out the pieces for a large block quilt called Garden Magic, which goes well with the lovely fabrics sent to me by Debra S. The block will have to have a border added to make it big enough for the QOV standards. It will be a nice change to work with larger pieces after all the tiny pieces in some of the 6 inch WOTB blocks.

The wind has been terrible yesterday and today and the weatherman is warning us to be ready for a major blizzard on Friday. The weather is simply not cooperating with my Spring garden plans.

I got my hair cut yesterday, and once again, they scalped me! I want it short, but I also want to look like a female. With this wind the short hairs are spiked and I look more like a boy than a grandmother. Oh well, it grows fast. Maybe I should get some hair wax and purple and lime green hair dye. ROFL!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

New Fabrics for Stash plus Kaylee's photo

I just got two packages of fat quarters that I'm very pleased with. I ordered some fabrics to see if one would work as backing for my WOTB quilt when it is assembled. I got the name of the online shop from one of the other WOTB members: . She informed us that they had some nice fabrics with Christian symbols that we might like. They are quite attractive and good quality but I haven't decided yet whether I want to use one of them for this project.

I also received my monthly feature fabrics from Grandma's Attic and just love them. The are from the Kimiko's Garden Chinoiserie collection by Benartex and are based on the fine hand-painted porcelain of China in lovely blues and yellows. These deserve a really special project. So many ideas, so little time!

I wanted to share what the Easter Bunny brought me. This is a photo of my first greatgranddaughter Kaylee at 5 years. She is wearing the pretty dress that her Aunt Robyn gave her for Christmas and looks like a proper little lady, which she really has to much energy to be. Since Aunt Robyn only had a son, she enjoys getting dresses for Kaylee, and she sure has great taste. Kaylee will get a little brother around the end of August and we couldn't be more excited.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

More WOTB Blocks

Got two more of my WOTB blocks done.

Lover's Knot is my block for Leah. It is fused and machine appliqued with gold zigzag stitches around the edges. I chose the red fabric for Leah's passion for her husband Jacob, the pink is for her love for her children, and there is a little blue mixed in there because she knew that Jacob loved her sister Rachel more than her. [Makes me think of a favorite old song of mine, "Am I Blue?" by Ray Charles. I guess that is a sure give away of my age.] The gold, as always, represents the presence of God and His comfort to her in her sadness. I'm extremely uncomfortable with the idea of polygamy but found that the book "The Red Tent" helped me understand what it might have been like. It is an exquisitely written story. Hopefully, finishing this block will get me going on catching up with my blocks. Making these blocks is always a special treat for me because I only have to make one of each and they are such lovely blocks with special meaning. Leah's story can be read at Genesis 29-35. Her sister Rachel's block is not completed yet, that's one that I'm behind on.

The next block is The Palm for Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah, whose name means Date Palm or Palm Tree. Tamar tricked her father-in-law into doing his duty toward her according to the Levitical Law on widows and, therefore, ended up in the Genealogy of Jesus. I chose the green fabric for the palm frond against a gold washed sand color representing the desert, with the gold, as always, symbolizing the presence of God. This block was paper pieced. Tamar's story is told in Genesis 38 and Matthew 1:3.

A very Happy Easter to you all.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

WIP Wednesday

I am starting on my April 12 x 12 and working on a couple of my WOTB blocks, but most of my energy this week is going toward working with Mandy on her quilt ideas. She brought some photos of friends from her church youth group and wants to do a photo transfer quilt with them. In February my fat quarters from Grandma's Attic were pink heart and valentine motifs, which I thought would be perfect for her memory quilt and she agreed. So I explained that the first step a quilter has to do is wash and press her fabrics in preparation for the cutting and sewing. So here she is spraying with Magic Sizing and pressing away. This is her first experience at ironing and she caught on fast. What a
lucky generation, when I was a kid we had to iron most of our clothing, now it's wash and wear. She tells me if her clothes are wrinkled she just runs them in the dryer a while.

I had also been saving the monthly 4 x 4 inch swatches for her and she has learned to chain stitch the squares and is now at the point of learning to put the strips together; I have to teach her how to nest the opposite pressed seams and pin them so that her seams all match. She is getting so good that I can leave the room and do other things while she sews on the machine. We are going to make her a quilted pillowcase with these squares.

Amber and her younger sister Mikayla are spending the night with Mandy and we're going out for pizza and a movie. Unfortunately, with the age difference and three girls, Mikayla is ending up being "odd man out." Too bad we didn't think to invite one of her friends to come along.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

March 12 x 12 Promises of Spring

Finally! March really got away from me, but here is my quilt, just before the April ones are due.

This piece continues my series interpretating Nature through the Seasons, using hexagons and my photos printed on prepared fabric sheets. I got the idea for this one from a poem that is quoted on the label. I visualized the dead looking landscape above the ground with all kinds of promised goodies hiding underground in the form of seeds and roots. In a Grandmother's Flower Garden pattern, I used my flower photos in the hexagons surrounding some of the natural flora and fauna that would arrive with the warmer weather and longer days.

The landscape is from Centennial Park in Canon City, with wild American Widgeon ducks feeding on whatever they are finding in the winter dead grass that wasn't covered by snow. The smaller hexagon is a photo of seed pods from Toad Haven, and that is our very own Thaddeus Toad in the center of one of the flowers. The Easter Egg represents rebirth and resurrection, which is another promise of Spring. The bees will pollinate the flowers of summer to provide the next crop of seeds of promise. [The photos of the bees on their comb and the Easter Egg are the only ones that were not taken by me.]

The pieces are fused with Steam a Seam 2 and machine zigzag stitched with Sulky irridescent thread to represent the miracle that is going on under the winter to spring landscape. I finished the piece envelope style because I didn't want a more definite frame.

This piece is also posted on the Quilt Studio blog along with the other March pieces.

Please feel free to click on the photos to see them larger.