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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

June 12x12 June is Bustin Out All Over

Done!!!! After all these months of struggling with this one, I finally figured out how to finish it, and here it is. I loved the photos and the concept but the methodology just took forever to jell, until I realized that "less is more." I simplified what I was trying to do and it looks much better and provides the effect I wanted.

Every June 1 I go around singing the old song "June is Bustin' Out All Over" and so naturally that was my theme for this June 12 x 12. I was so lucky last spring to get the photo of these two beautiful paint horses running through lower Beaver Canyon. The horse photo and prairie wildflower and June sky vignettes were printed onto prepared cotton sheets and fused onto the already machine quilted background quilt with Steam a Seam 2. The quilting design is hexagons separated with small triangles that I discovered from one of the hexagon quilt patterns in my collection. The hexagon photos are superimposed onto this pattern.

I am so thankful to Joe for getting my machine fixed today so that I was able to finish the invisible thread zig zag stitching around the fused hexagons.

I fused the hexagon shaped labels and some of the lyrics to the song onto the back of the quilt. Please click on the photo to enlarge it so you can read the fun lyrics. (For some reason the font I used for the label had quotation marks that look almost like the letter i.) I printed the label onto a June Taylor Quick Fuse sheet, and had a problem with the first one jamming up my printer because of the heavy,very shiny, fusible material on the back of the cotton. I then got a brain storm to choose the "glossy brochure" option for the type of paper used, and the second one ran right through and printed fine. I chose this heavy duty fusible because I wouldn't be able to stitch around them without messing up the front of the quilt.

Yesterday was one of those "perfect Fall days" and I celebrated it by visiting the Royal Gorge Quilt Council's Fall Show and the Canon City campus of Pueblo Community College. Stay tuned to Toad Haven Annex for some interesting and lovely quilts I was able to photograph. I'm missing Houston but at least I enjoyed seeing the local quilts.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Halloween

Evan with his Mr. Pumpkinhead, made by his mother, Kat. He loves school and gets to take apple slices and Tootsie Pop ghosts for the school party.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My Mother Warned Me

that there would be days like this. The Boston Red Sox won the World Series, completely humiliating the Rockies by sweeping them out of their own stadium. The Red Sox couldn't do anything wrong and the Rockies couldn't do anything right. Where in the world did they find all of those unbelievable players? Oh well, it reminds me of the first time the Broncos played in the Super Bowl; we Coloradoans are used to waiting for next year. And think how many years it took Boston to win a World Series. I just hope the Rockies don't have to wait that long.

The game was not doing a good job of keeping my attention, so I went to my bedroom and started doing the top stitching on my June 12 x 12, and a couple of inches from the end there was a strange noise from the machine and the needle holding element fell off. It is rather difficult to sew on a quilt without a needle. Joe, my fantastic tool man of a husband, checked it out and thinks he can fix it tomorrow, when he is able to find the appropriate equipment out in his shop. I hope he can because the really nice Canon City man that I bought the machine from, passed away a couple of years later and, as far as I know, no one else sells and/or repairs Berninas or Bernettes locally. How could I survive living without my machine if it has to go stay in Colorado Springs for a while? Now I understand why serious quiltmakers have multiple machines.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fran's Oct. 12 x 12 Scattering Abroad

Surprise! I finally completed another 12 x 12. For October I wanted to do a sweep of colored autumn leaves cut from a scrumptious fat quarter I found at the local LQS a few months ago. While examining the fabric I found a swag of leaves that I could cut out as a unit and use like Brodery Perse. I wanted to show the brilliant colors of the leaves and sky in autumn along with the smoky, misty atmospheric effects so I chose to use sheer fabrics over the background.

To continue my hexagon theme I decided to copy the pattern in a vintage pieced top I have where the hexagons are created with triangles. [Aren't those old fabrics great! I have a love affair with kitchen ware, quilts and fabrics from the Depression Era.] I printed some of my autumn landscape photos onto prepared silk organza sheets from which I cut the four bottom triangles. To complete the hexagon without covering the blue sky looking background fabric I cut one of the top triangles from organza and one from blue tulle. After fusing the organza and tulle triangles to the background with misty fuse I zigzagged around them with invisible thread.

The backing was attached to the top pillowcase style over cotton batting. The leaves on each end of the swag were backed with the same fabric as the backing since they extended beyond the edge of the 12 x 12 square and the swag was fused on with Seam a Steam 2 and then zigzagged with metallic gold thread.

The label with a quotation by Edwin Way Teale was printed onto a fusible photo transfer sheet and fused onto the back with two more of the cut out leaves from the same piece of fabric as the swag. (Just click on the photo to be able to read the label.)

Cutting out all of the little teeth around those leaves and then zig zagging around them was tedious work that left my neck and shoulders in knots. I did buy a new pair of small scissors that are a lot sharper than the old pair. These spring operated scissors are so much easier to use with my arthritic hands.

I'm now ready to assemble the June piece that has been staring at me from the back of the sewing table for several months and I have started doing a paper mock up of my idea for the November piece. I have virtual concepts for the July and August pieces but still have no idea what to do for September. Where has this year gone?!!

The 12 x 12 Challenge pieces can be viewed on the Quilt Studio blog.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

First Snow

After 2 days of warm, windy weather, I woke up in the middle of the night to the unfamiliar sound of rain on the roof. By the time I got up it had turned to snow and left a light dusting on roofs, porch chair cushions, and a bit that didn't melt on the ground. It continued to sprinkle off and on today and by evening most of the snow had melted. The temperature never got above 37 degrees all day.

When I went out to bring my potted Euphorbias and giant Aloe Vera, from my desert garden, into the sun porch, I noticed that a portion of the mutiple trunked Mulberry tree in the far corner of the mini prairie had been blown down and was laying over the chain link fence. I called Joe to check it with me and we discovered that it was too heavy to lift so it will be there until he can saw it up and remove it. I hope we will be able to get the fence straightened out again. This tree is a big favorite with the birds when it is leafed out.

Some of the Euphorbias and the blooming Aloe outside earlier in the Fall.

See my orange pumpkin where it grew beyond the rhubarb patch. I suppose I need to move it to the front porch for Halloween.

The Euphorbias and Aloe crowded into the sun porch.

I am such an outdoor person that I am never happy to see the really cold weather and snow arrive. I think of snow as a 4 letter word. Of course, I want it to snow in the mountains for the snowpack for next years river water, not to mention for the ski slopes, but I'd just as soon not have to deal with it where I live. I shouldn't complain, we really have mild winters and even when it is below freezing at night, we often have warm, sunny days and can still enjoy being out doors. And we did really need the moisture; there have been a rash of wildfires in the area in the past few weeks with the warm weather, high winds, and low humidity.

I love the color of my neighbor's maple tree on this cold, cloudy day.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Happy 23rd Anniversary

23 years ago, Joe and I gave up on ever getting my 4 children and his 5 children together at one time to share our marriage ceremony, so we drove from Deer Trail to Florence, where his brother Richard, a Baptist minister, married us at the Elm Avenue Baptist Church in Canon City. Richard's wife Janet, and son Curtis, stood up with us and we recited our vows on a Saturday night with the music of the water flowing into the baptistry for the next mornings service wafting around us. Richard and Janet took us to Mr. C's restaurant in Penrose for our wedding supper, then we (Joe and I) spent the night at a nondescript motel in Canon City, drove to Cripple Creek and Victor, in the mountains, for our honeymoon on Sunday and back to Deer Trail, so I could get to work in Englewood and Joe could open our Hardware and Auto Parts Store in Deer Trail on Monday morning. I had always wanted to lived "over the store" but had pictured a book or antique store, definitely not hardware and auto parts.

The kids still give us heck for eloping without them, but it was better for us to go alone than to leave out any of them.

We had met the previous January at a country and western dance class in Denver. I lived in Boulder with my 2 youngest daughters, worked for the City of Englewood (a southern suburb of Denver) and had lost my husband Lou in May of 1982. Joe owned a business in Deer Trail (40 miles east of Denver on I-70, lived in an apartment over the store, and shopped for stock for the store in Denver several times a week. His wife Lynn, had passed away in 1983, leaving him a stepdaughter, in addition to his 4 children from his first marriage. Several of our children were grown up and on their own by the time we married. We were older than most of those in the class and had a lot in common (and a lot of differences) so we sort of gravitated to each other as dance partners, and one thing led to another. (You've all heard that story many times.)

I can tell you that moving from sophisticated college town, Boulder (California in Colorado), to tiny, rural Deer Trail, on the plains, resulted in a severe case of culture shock for me! However, after cleaning up and redecorating Joe's apartment, clearing out the junk in the half lot next to the store and designing and planting a garden, as well as being appointed Chairman of the newly organized Deer Trail Housing Authority and beginning the process of developing housing for local seniors, so they didn't have to move into Denver upon retirement, helped me adjust to the change.

[I had worked as Assistant Director of the newly created Boulder County Housing Authority and then as the Assitant Director of Urban Development and Executive Director of the Housing Authority in Englewood for the previous 10 years; was active in the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) and had just completed a year as President of the Colorado chapter when I married Joe and moved to Deer Trail. The City officials had gotten in touch with the Farmer's Home Administration about getting assistance in creating senior housing for the community and had been given my name as a resource. When they realized I had become a citizen of Deer Trail, they immediately appointed me as the Chairman. Talk about serendipity!]

To celebrate our anniversay we had dinner in Canon City at DeRito's, a popular Italian place run by one of the families who moved from Italy to Fremont County in the early 20th Century to work in the coal mines. The immigration of the Italians to this area has lead to a definite improvement in the local cuisine. We enjoyed roasted garlic in olive oil and balsamic vinegar with Italian bread and green salad with Italian dressing and blue cheese crumbles; moved on to chicken calzones (gloriously flaky crust) with green chili (the local hybrid of Italian and Mexican cultures); and for dessert we were blessed with scrumptious spumone. Spumone is one of my favorites and I don't get it often enough. When we moved to Florence 20 years ago, the DeRito family had a popular restaurant in Florence, and we have missed it, and the chicken calzones with green chili, so are delighted that they reopened in Canon City.

As you can tell from comparing the recent photo in the sidebar with the photo of us taken on a float trip on the Snake River through Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in the August before we were married, the last 23 years have brought many changes. Back then I weighed considerably less, we both still had dark hair, and Joe had a beard. How young we still looked! We had only one married daughter and one grandchild when we married, so a huge blessing has been the new additions to the family. I am so thankful that we both decided to attend that country and western dance class so many years ago.

Monday, October 15, 2007


The Rockies are going to the World Series after doing something that no team in the National League has ever done; they swept the playoffs; 7 games in a row. They have won 21 games out of the last 22 games they played. Red Sox or Indians, Here we come!!!!!!

What a game! Arizona had me scared after the 7th inning but weren't able to get the 2 runs they needed to tie the game.

I am sitting here typing this wearing my black T-shirt with a silver ROCKTOBER and the CR logo and tomorrow Sarah Jessica Clemetine, Toad Haven's official scarecrow is getting dressed in Colorado Rockies finery. Where can I find a Rockies cap? The paraphenalia is scarce because noone expected them to do what they have done.

This ain't your father's Rockies!

And I even finished cutting out the autumn leaves while watching the game. Luckily, I was finished before I had to start wringing my hands and crossing my fingers.

Purple Reign!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Broderie Perse

As you can see I got that messy cutting table cleaned off and now have a new project going there; my October 12 x12. After working on this I have a greater appreciation of what Debra S. has been doing with the flower Broderie Perse that she has been doing on her Tree of Life. Debra, what kind of scissors did you use? These leaves have a lot of little zig zags that have to trimmed in and out, and I have discovered that I need a pair of sharper, more precise scissors to do this with.

I worked on cutting this out while watching the Rockies win their third playoff game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Luckily it was not a close, bite your fingernails, kind of game. The cats all wanted to get on my lap, which is whatever happens when I sit in my recliner, trying to do anything. Precision scissor work does not mix with cats in laps. Tigger is currently sleeping on the dest next to my left arm, ocassionally he moves and hits the keys on my adding machine. It's especially funny when he lays on the feed key and the tape keeps rolling out. As long as he doesn't try to walk on the computer keyboard I can deal with it.

While it poured rain during the game in Denver, we only got cool, cloudy, windy weather here. We could sure appreciate some rain, there was a forest fire at Rye in the Wet Mountains near us because after all the spring and summer moisture there hasn't been any rain for over a month; along with the hot weather and heavy winds everything dries out and we are in high fire alert again.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Absolutely Cowboys!

While driving Amber to work this afternoon, we saw these cowboys (except I don't think those are cows, I think they are steers) riding along the verge of the road between Penrose and Canon City. The bigger guy has about 6 other fat and gorgeous Long Horn Cattle in a pasture next door to where Amber lives; they are bigger than these and have much larger horns. It is such fun living here, we never know what we'll see next! One day I stopped to photograph 4 of the long horns and one of them stuck his head over the barbed wire fence to get his forehead scratched, just like my cats.

As soon as we saw these guys we stopped the car and Amber got permission to take a photo since she was on that side of the car. Last spring we saw a lot of long horn calves in a pasture further down the road. This is the first time we've seen anyone riding on the long horns.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

True Confessions

I have a terrible secret that I feel I need to confess about my stash. When I discovered my online Quilty Buddies about 4 years ago, I didn't have a stash, except for the scraps leftover from my few projects, because I didn't know about stashes. I thought I would just go out and buy fabric for each new project. Then I learned that a quilt artist needs to have a stash, just as a painter needs a collection of paints. So I began picking up a lot of pieces of batik, in all colors, because I loved them, and then I added more batiks, washed with gold to use for my Women of the Bible blocks. Finally, I realized that I needed much more variety in pattern and color, so last year I joined the fat quarter bundle of the month club at Grandma's Attic Quilts online. Then this year I added Grandma's monthly African Indigo fabrics bundle of the month and a Flower of the Month half yard bundle program from Quilts Online. Somewhere along the way I also collected a lot of pieces of the State Birds fabrics (I am a birdwatcher), and a few large pieces for backings and borders for WIPs.

Now for the horrible confession; each month as these fabrics arrived, I oohed and aahed over them, then washed, dried and folded them and (gulp) stacked them in a basket on top of the basket hamper in the laundry room and thought, "some day I need to press these fabrics and organize them in my bedroom studio area." Now, my laundry room is really just a wide corridor from the back door into the kitchen; and as the stack grew higher and higher, I was afraid it might avalanche down on top of anyone who passed through (in the rural tradition of SE Colorado, most of my visitors come in by way of the back door into the sunporch, rather than through the front door.)

For the past few weeks I have been organizing my bedroom/quilt studio, getting rid of stuff that collects, even though no longer needed, digging out my also piled under sewing table, moving a chair that was also piled under, and replacing it with a set of plastic drawers and tubs so that the fabric and WIPs had a home other than the chair and sewing table. [I've also been cleaning and organizing the living room and office, but that story is not as entertaining.] So this became the perfect time to start pressing those fabrics that now had a place to move to. I've never liked ironing, but pressing small pieces of fabric for quilts is rather enjoyable, if done in small increments. So each evening I have been pressing a set or two off this Himalaya of fabrics and placing them in tubs. It's now more the size of Pikes Peak (see top photo), and will soon become a scandalous memory, and I can now riffle through the tubs to find the fabrics I need for a project, without having to stop and iron the darn things first.

The assemblage of hexagons on the table is my June 12 x 12, still a work in progress (another shameful confession.) Now that I am organized, I have no more excuse for not finishing it.

This is almost as satisfying a project as pulling nasty weeds and elm seedlings from the garden. I feel so good when it is done and I can see the difference.

My stash is being admired by Qwilty Cat, made from a cutter vintage quilt, that I found at a friend's antique shop back in the days when I only dreamed about making quilts.

The next object of organization is my cutting table which is hidden under Women of the Bible and Names of Jesus pattern notebooks and tracing paper PP templates, scraps from previous projects, fabrics that I am auditioning for Names of Jesus blocks, recently purchased glues of various types, and heaven knows what else. By the time I get this place organized it will be time to start all over again.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Yellowstone and the Tetons in Autumn

My favorite time to visit Yellowstone NP and the Tetons is in the fall when the colors are so spectacular and there are fewer tourists. [I'm not a tourist, just a lover of these unbelievable areas, I belong. HoHo!] I didn't make it this year but my brother took a photographic tour of the area and is now posting photos on his blog. Do yourself a favor and check them out. I hope you each have an opportunity to see this unbelievable natural wonder.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Lovely Autumn Day

I had a full day Saturday and am taking it easy today to recuperate. It was one of those gorgeous warm, blue sky days but the winds were blowing very hard. I drove Amber and her mom, Valerie, to Colorado Springs for Amber's interview with the People to People Youth
Ambassador program. We are very proud that Amber was nominated to be a member of a trip to Washington D. C. , Spain, France and Italy next summer, especially since there has never been a Florence High School student involved in the program. The interview was held at the East Library on the far side of Colorado Springs from us.

While we were waiting for Amber, I discovered an interesting quilt hanging with a display of art works displayed in the hall. I had to take a photo for future reference, since it looked like a fun quilt to make. Now we wait to see if Amber is accepted into the program. If she is, I'll be blogging more about the program, since we will be doing fund raising for her plane fare and tuition.

Since it was such a beautiful day, on the way home I meandered through the local countryside to take Autumn color photos.

This area was one of the first agricultural areas east of the mountains in Colorado when the Pikes Peak or Bust gold rush was going on. Vegetables and fruits were grown along the Arkansas River here to supply the miners in the Leadville area, and later the Cripple Creek and Victor area. My father tells me that during the 1930s the road between Florence and Canon City was lined with Coal Mines and orchards. Canon City still holds their Blossom Festival each Spring and yesterday was the annual Apple Day in Penrose. Here is a photo of apples at the Colon Orchard [Colon as in Christopher Colon (Columbus). There is a large population of Italians who came here in the early days to be coal miners.]

Here is a pumpkin patch across the road from the apple orchard with the Wet Mountains in the distance. The patch was surrounded with large sunflowers, which are now dried up.

Here is a fall display at the Di Nardo brothers' cider stand in Canon City. There are several woodworkers in the area who carve these sculptures with chain saws, to sell to the tourists.

The Virginia Creeper vines along the fencerows are turning red, I especially like the way they look when they grow up a tree and the red contrasts with the still green leaves.

The Cottonwoods along the Arkansas River are beginning to turn yellow. This photo was taken at the River Walk.

Many of the local farmers and ranchers have their own arenas for practicing calf roping. This is the arena on one of the Adamic family's farms along MacKenzie Boulevard. [We also have a Slav population were originally coal miners. In addition we have many Hispanic locals, some of whom have been in the area since the Arkansas River was the northern border of Mexico. There is also a population of Cornish and Welch former miners. By now these populations are so intermarried that there are some really interesting genealogies to be traced. One of the humerous things this has led to, in my opinion, were the Italian chicken Calzones smothered in Hispanic green chili that used to be a special at a local Italian restaurant that has, sob!, since closed.

After I got home in the late afternoon, Joe and I drove to my folk's home in Fowler to visit my cousin Frankie and his family, and Aunt Lucy from Albuquerque, who stopped to visit on their way to Denver to visit another of our cousins, who is fighting cancer. Aunt Lucy was taking a nap when I took this photo, so I didn't get a picture of her. Young Zack is wearing his treasured vintage Broncos shirt, he and I are avid Broncos fans. Liz is a Dallas Cowboys fan and Valerie is for the San Francisco Forty Niners. Frankie, who is named for my Dad, says he roots for whoever can beat the Cowboys, which is his way of teasing his wife, Liz.

They traveled in Alaska this past summer and Valerie and I discovered that we both love the books about Alaska by Sue Henry.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Rockies Won Wild Card!

After 13 innings of up/down/up, too many times to count, I am exhausted, but happy. In their habitual, win impossibly, style the Rockies beat the Padres by the skin of Matt Holliday's teeth (literally). Now I can relax until Wednesday afternoon, when the Rockies play the Phillies in Philadelphia. Wouldn't it be great if the Rockies won the World Series in the same impossible style? No, I refuse to think about it, it takes too much energy.

My vote:

Matt Holliday - MVP

Troy Tulowitski - Rookie of the Year

Now let's get back to rearranging my quilt studio and stash so I can do more quilting. The sewing and cutting tables had gotten so piled under I couldn't find any place to work. Moved out my old pressed back chair and bought more plastic drawers at WalMart today. The chair couldn't be seen for the In Progress projects piled on it so I decided it could be better used in the dining room.

Surprise! The Agony & Anticipation Continues

Would you believe that the Rockies won their last 2 games, and the San Diego Padres lost their last 2, resulting in a tie, so there is going to be a one time play off game this evening in Denver to determine which team will go on to the playoffs for the World Series. Needless to say, the Rockies fans, including Joe and me, are overjoyed and anxious. This is some rollercoaster ride for this old gal who never chooses to ride the rollercoaster. While the kids rode the rides at the old Elitches Garden in Denver, this mother sat in the shade, admired the flowers, and needlepointed. You can bet I'll be in front of the TV at 5:30 pm today; a few more hours of heart thumping anticipation! [Todd Helton, Rockies' first baseman celebrates win!]