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Saturday, June 30, 2007

What a Gorgeous Evening

Sunset behind Fremont Peak, North of Florence, on way to Canon City.

Here are photos I took this evening of the sunset and then the brilliant full moon. What a way to end June and get ready for the second half of this year (which is racing by so fast I can barely see it before it is gone.)

Full moon over prairie north of Florence on way back from Canon City. That tiny white spot on the left side is a light on the horizon. I could still see the dim prairie but my camera could not pick it up.

[I wish Blogspot had WISIWIG for our creation of our blogs. Sometimes I am horribly surprised about how it shows up on the blog once it is posted, and have to quickly go back and edit it with fingers crossed! Are you listening out there? Please!!!]

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

June Wedding on the Range

We traveled to Akron, in northeast Colorado, this weekend for a grandson Dusty's wedding. Dusty was raised on a ranch near Agate, which is near Deer Trail and even smaller, and has been riding horses and roping cattle (well, horns mounted on a hay bale in the beginning) since a tiny little guy so the wedding was held in the rodeo arena of the Washington County Fairgrounds with the guests watching from the grandstand.

The ceremony was held on a haywagon decorated with hay bales and sunflowers and the groom, groomsmen, and ushers wore their western clothes and black straw cowboy hats and entered the arena in an old wagon drawn by two lovely mules. [I can't help it, I adore mules. I think I took more photos of them than the bridal party.] The bride, and her attendants were in more traditional wedding apparel except that they wore white flipflops, instead of high heel slippers for walking in the arena dirt and up the metal steps to the bed of the wagon. Guests had been instructed to come in casual apparel, with denim and western style clothing, comfortable for a hot sunny day outside, the choice of most.

Dee, Mother of the Groom being ushered into the grandstand.

Dusty is the son of Joe's stepdaughter, Dee, whose mother passed away when she was in high school and she and her youonger sisters, Heather and Laura, were left with Joe, until their father, who lived in LA, and didn't want to raise them himself, gave custody of the girls to another family to get out from under child support payments. At this time, Dee was old enough to make the decision of where she wanted to live and she chose to stay with Joe and me, after we had married. She told us that any man could be a father but it took someone special to be a dad. We love Dee, her husband Dennis, Dusty and daughter, Tyler, very much. We consider
ourselves blessed to have our blended family of my son and 3 daughters; Joe's 3 sons and daughter; and Dee.

It seems like just the other day that Dee brought 3 year old Dusty to visit us and we rode the miniature train that toured the top of the Royal Gorge. "Sunrise, Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset. Swiftly fly the days."

The reception with a barbeque style dinner and country dance were held next door in the fair Events Center which was decorated with cowboy decor and more sunflowers. The biggest hit of the evening was a chocolate fountain with strawberries and marshmallows; the many children in attendance had a great time at that table.

It was such a joy to see Heather again after all these years. This was the first time we got to meet her family; she and her husband have 3 cute sons and an adorable daughter and are currently living in Norway. His work as a manager with Pratt & Whitney has taken them all over the US and the world, including several years in Singapore. She says she is amazed that a little girl from Deer Trail could be living such a life.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

May 12 x 12 Sweet Springtime Blossoms

Finally, it is done! I've struggled with this concept for 2 months and was afraid at times that it would be stillborn. Using paper mockups of the flower photos I tried many arrangements and was never happy until I thought of thinking outside the square.
I tried a new technique by fusing layers of blue and green nylon net between white silk organza with Misty Fuse to give it a luminous translucency. It was backed with a blue and green batik fabric and the top is a scan of the batik printed onto a sheet of silk ExtravOrganza. I printed photos of my spring flowers onto sheets of prepared silk satin (also new to me); these flower hexagons were then fused onto the ExtravOrganza and and machine satin stitched appliqued with a turquoise Mettlach cotton thread. I didn't do any stitching on the edges of the triangles between the hexagons because, once again, I didn't want the whole piece to have any effect of framing; in this series I like the effect of pieces cut out of my world.
I fused a poem printed on a silk Extravorganza hexagon and a butterfly cut from fabric to the back for the label.

[Please click the photos to see the details and read the poem.]
I began by printing the photos on regular printer paper and deciding the size to make the hexagons. It took a while to decide which flowers worked together and which didn't. Then I rearranged the hexagons in several patterns and decided on this pattern with the star in the center, but somehow I just wasn't satisfied. After the first month I even wondered if it was time to leave the hexagons and go to some entirely different pattern, but I still had several hexagon patterns that I really wanted to try and didn't want to give it up.
It just didn't really grab me until I realized if I trimmed off the corners of the square I'd get a large base hexagon which reinforced the design and gave it the Pow! I was looking for. This is the paper mockup that made up my mind. I wan't about to cut up the real thing until I could see it and be sure. My paper mockups sure save a lot of good fabric.
Up until I finished the satin stitching around the small hexagons, I still planned to quilt in the lines on the center star, but at that point, I realized I liked the simplicity of the open space in the center better.
Too see other 12 x 12 x 12 Challenge pieces check out the Quilt Studio blog.
Now can I finish the June piece before the end of June and get back on schedule?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Brush Hollow Lake

I still sound like Froggy the Gremlin, but I was able to do a little walking at Brush Hollow and take some photographs this afternoon after taking Amber home from her orientation at MacDonalds. I'm so proud of her for finding a summer job. This was motivated by the need to earn money to attend Church Youth Camp at Ponderosa with Mandy in July, as well as the other things that teens need cash for.
This photo shows part of the lake and bluffs looking toward the mountains around Pikes Peak.

This second photo is a prickley pear cactus blooming in the grass between the Pinon Pine and Juniper trees.

The weather was in the high 90s today, as it will be for the next week so it was not conducive to extensive walking, but it was pleasant to check out the flora and fauna around the lake this evening.

The third photo is an old gnarled Juniper.

On the way home I was also able to park on the side of the road and get some photos of an Apaloosa horse, that I've been admiring, pasturing on the prairie next to Highway 50.
These hollyhocks were blooming in the parking strip in front of a house in my neighborhood. It was so pretty, and I love hollyhocks so much, that I stopped to admire them, visited with the senior gentleman who raised them, took photos, and thanked him for beautifying my world. I have hollyhocks in bud and am dying to see what color they will be.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Me_Not Me Meme


Not Me


Not Me


Not Me


Not Me


Not Me


Not Me


Not Me

I just couldn't let everyone else have all the fun. Check out other memes at Debra S., Rian, and Deb G. and feel free to do your own.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Idle Hands are You Know What

I've been quite ill with an allergy induced asthma the last few days and haven't been able to do anything productive in the garden or with quilting. Slightly better today, but still can't do
much so while checking out Deb H's blog I found a link to a great photo manipulation website and "ol debbil made me do it."
Self-portrait, Fran on Prednisone.

Fran and daughters, Thanksgiving 1991,

"We all sailed in a yellow submarine,
yellow submarine,
yellow submarine."

Rabbit Moon
Grand Champion Quilt at the Houston International, 2007.

In my dreams!!!
What a fun way to get a different perspective on your quilt pieces, large or small.

Pencil sketch of multiple trunks of Mulberry Tree made from a photo. This could be a great tool for designing quilts based on a photo.

This photo transformed into this fantastic Easter Egg.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Deer Trail Old Timers

Joe and I spent the weekend in Byers to celebrate grandson Evan's 5th birthday and attend the 65th Annual Deer Trail Old Timers' Banquet. The Old Timers are those who have lived within a 50 mile radius of Deer Trail for at least 45 years. We get together to visit with old friends, reminisce about Deer Trail's history, sing and listen to old songs, and memorialize those we have lost in the past year; this year Joe's brother, Richard, was one of those who passed away and we were given a red rose in his honor.

Deer Trail is a very small town about 52 miles east of Denver on I-70 where Joe and I spent the first 3 years of our marriage operating the Deer Trail Auto Parts & Hardware Store. We lived upstairs in the back of the building. After commuting for 5 years from Boulder to my job with the City of Englewood, it was nice only having to go down the stairs to work. It was also a cataclysmic culture shock moving from cosmopolitan Boulder to boondocks Deer Trail.

At the time we were there the town was dying on the vine because everyone could work and shop in the Denver metro area, commuting easily on the Interstate highway. Our store, the Jolly Grocery next door, an artist studio on the other side, a bar just a couple of lots east and 2 antique stores were the only occupied commercial building along Main Street, which pre Interstate was US Highway 40, the major route from coast to coast through Colorado.

Frequent I-70 travelers know this area of Colorado as where you are apt to be stranded by a blizzard in the winter. This is also Colorado's thunderstorm and tornado alley. I always told Joe that nature did not like people out there on the plains.

Before the 1965 flood of the East Bijou Creek, at the same time as the major Platte River flood in Denver, Deer Trail was a thriving town serving the surrounding ranches and wheat farms (think in the terms of sections instead of acres when considering the size of these farms) with several grocery stores and banks as well as any other shopping you could need to do. Denver was a lot further away in those days and the locals didn't just run over there casually.

Deer Trail began life as a stage stop and trading post for those heading to Denver in the 1859 "Pikes Peak or Bust" Gold Rush operated by an old mountain man and scout who was a friend of Kit Carson's. It didn't take long for some of the Gold Rushers to decide that the same grass that fed so many buffalo could also nourish cattle which were so desparately needed to feed the prospectors and miners. Soon after the Civil War cattlemen began driving cattle up from Texas and founded some large ranches in the area.
Deer Trail's claim to fame is as the home of the first official rodeo in the United States, held on July 4th, 1869, and documented at the Colorado Springs Rodeo Cowboys Hall of Fame. There is still an active rodeo ground in Deer Trail and next weekend it will be the site of a Little Britches Rodeo. This first rodeo is even listed as one of the 3 interesting things about Colorado on the Woman Challenge website this year.

When we lived in Deer Trail some of the old ranchers were still hosting a Fourth of July Chuck Wagon Dinner each year, using an authentic wagon that had been used during roundups at one of the local ranches. As well as the local residents many rodeo cowboys and clowns and Baxter Black, a nationally known cowboy poet, would attend. I have posted some of my old photos of one of these dinners on July 4, 1987 to show what it looked like. I don't know if the dinners are still being done since so many of the old ranchers have passed on; there just aren't very many cowboys who took part in the old roundups still around to supervise and teach how it was done.

We were sorry to see on our visit that none of the stores are still operating and even the bar has closed. Main Street is just a long line of empty commercial buildings. One of the old store buildings, that Joe used to store stuff in, has collapsed; probably because of the heavy snows this past winter. The only operating businesses are a couple of service stations and a small ice cream shop close to the I-70 interchange. We were surprised to find a new single street subdivision with several new houses on the west side of town. Deer Trail is now mostly a bedroom community for the Denver metro area.

I've never regretted moving here from Deer Trail, (I was a fish out of water there) but I do love the history and cowboy culture, and found, while living there, that the plains do have their own kind of beauty; and some of the people, such as Dutch Venter, the Editor and Publisher of the local newspaper, are fascinating to talk to.

Ralph Stuchlik, husband of one of Joe's paternal cousins, at 91, was the oldest man in attendance who was born within 50 miles of Deer Trail. This photo was taken by his daughter a few years ago before he was required to use a wheelchair.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Arkansas Riverwalk

I am taking part in The Woman Challenge as a member of the Lounge Quilters team. We each set our own exercise goals for this 8 week challenge and earn points toward our walk across America by meeting our goals and posting some exercise each day. Yesterday I did my walking on the Arkansas Riverwalk instead of just around my neighborhood. 15 years ago I was walking the MacKenzie Boulevard to Raynolds Avenue section (1 mile each way) almost every day. [That was before I was K Oed by the chronic illnesses I now live with.] In addition to being great exercise, it was also my meditation and re-creation time. Since I've been increasing my daily steps each week, I decided the time had come to return to the Riverwalk.

It was a gorgeous day, blue skies, sunshine, mid 80s temperature. I transferred Ursula Oxygen from her shoulder bag to her backpack, stuck my little digital camera in my pocket, picked up a handmade walking stick, and started walking.

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed my walks along the river; huge cottonwoods, willows, Russian olive trees, wild plum thickets, and poison ivy [I keep my distance] are all draped with wild grape vines and the numerous varieties of green are a treat for the eyes. The river was high with Spring runoff, but not flooding this year. There is also an irrigation canal that takes out along this stretch and several creeks feed into the river as well as some marshy areas, probably caused by beavers building dams along some of the small creeks. In places there is a high bluff rising above the trail, on the south side, which is covered with trees and bushes. Small springs trickle down the bluff in several spots. This kind of lush greeness is welcome in our arid climate. You probably have to be prairie born and bred to love the big old cottonwood trees the way I do. Every once in a while I have to pull off one of the broad leaves, fold it the way my mother taught me, place it to my lips and blow through the top opening while pulling the bottom tightly to produce a loud raucous blast. I love showing my grandchildren how to do this from time to time. The child in me is still alive and well.

The Riverwalk is one of the favorite birdwatching spots in the area, and although I can't do much birdwatching while doing aerobic walking, I did see an Eastern Kingbird, and a mother Mallard with her little flock swimming behind her, as well as hearing the lovely songs of Yellow Warblers. Any day I see or hear a Yellow Warbler is a very special day.

I'd also forgotten the scents, which along with the sights and sounds, make this walk so enjoyable; the ripe smell of the marsh, the fresh sweet smells of green growing things, and the acrid scent of cottonwood leaves. As warm as it was the shady areas and the breezes were a welcome relief to the sunshine. Another thing I had forgotten; the overwhelming whine and stings of mosquitoes in the shady areas next to the marshes. Next time I'll remember the mosquito spray.

I walked the first three quarters of a mile and back this time. Next time I hope I can do the entire mile. The Riverwalk extends on west through Canon City to the old Tunnel Drive which leads up to the edge of the Royal Gorge. As my step goals get higher I can walk even further than this mile stretch. There is another section of Riverwalk from Florence east to the Florence River Park that I want to walk along also. The plan is that eventually these two sections will join so that there will be over 10 miles of Riverwalk through Fremont County. As the new Regional Park, west of Florence, is developed, the goal of joining the paths will that much further along.

One of the fun benefits of walking the western portion of the Riverwalk is seeing rafters floating along the river from the trail. There are even a couple of raft take out areas in our beloved Centennial Park in Canon City. This park is also where the Royal Gorge Tourist Train rides begin and end at the old railroad depot.
I appreciate the fact that the Parks and Recreation District has placed comfortable benches at intervals along the Riverwalk. One of my favorite cogitating spots is at the Raynolds Avenue end of this section of the trail where you get to the bench after a significant climb up the bluff to the road. The bench here overlooks a Beaver Pond at the side of the River and has a vista to the northern mountains across pastures and subdivisions. These are some of the subdivisions that now cover some of my formerly favorite hay fields. I'm not the only one who loves this area.
I'm glad I did this walk yesterday, because today we had a dirty gray sky and high winds from the south that blew over my patio furniture and even some limbs and trees in places. At least once each Spring we get this type of wind that is so bad that it blows sand from the National Sand Dunes in the San Luis Valley over the Sangre de Christo and Wet Mountain ranges into our air. Not a good day to walk.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Maybe it's Catching

When my daughter, Kat, and her family were here to spend Memorial Day with us, she brought me a surprise. Lovely hand sewn nine-patch blocks that she had made when she was leading a Girl Scout troop a few years ago and teaching them about quilting. She said she sewed them while watching TV and while she enjoyed doing it, she isn't happy that the seams don't all match, and she doesn't think she will do any more quiltmaking. She left the blocks with me for safe keeping. I think she'd kind of like me to make something for her from them.

When I got ready to take the photo I told her to arrange the blocks nicely. This arrangement was Greg's creative contribution to the event. I think they would look nice with matching sized blocks of a plain dark blue similar to the print background and that would make it possible to do something of useable size with these few blocks. So far, this is the only sign of interest in making quilts that any of my daughters has shown. I think the quilting bug skipped over the daughters to granddaughter Mandy.