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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Photos from Yosemite

Yosemite Falls

Here a some new photos from my brother, Steve,
that he just took on a trip to Yosemite. Next month he is going to photograph the Oregon coast.

Mother Bear with cubs

Bear Cub
Copyright: Images on Tile, Steve Metzner

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

WIP Wednesday

Since I've upped my walking and exercise for Woman's Challenge the last 2 weeks, I haven't gotten a lot of quilting done. I did finish my Virginia Tech quilt block and have been working on my May 12 x 12, but don't have anything to show yet.

What I have been doing and will continue doing for the summer, is working in my garden. Today I pulled tons of weeds from the herb garden and the paths around the raised veggie beds, transplanted to the herb garden a hyssop that had volunteered in my veggie garden path, and actually began spading the soil in my new flower garden by the back door. I had to quit after I did half because it began raining and I had to go to Curves and shopping. When the soil is turned over I will fill the raised beds beds with top soil and compost. I plan to plant lavender and xeric orange, yellow and white flowers to set off the lavender. I will then lay pavers between the garden and the house to make a small patio just outside the sun porch where I can sit and smell the lavender.

This whole area was dug up and the yucky dirt and debris for the sun porch and carport were dumped here so this is going to be a major improvement. Since most people come to our back door and that is where we go in and out, it will be nice to have an attractive area there. Last summer I tried to make it look a smidgeon better by placing a few potted plants in the area and spreading bark mulch over the ugly dirt, but it just didn't make it.

Before: This was Joe doing the initial trenching in the area. See why I need to do raised beds with added soil and compost. In the wall of the trench you can see the clinkers and burned brick remnants from the old refinery I wrote about yesterday.

That mass of greenery in the back is the Tarragon I planted from seed before I discovered that French Tarragon has to be reproduced from cuttings. The seeds that are sold as Tarragon are really Mexican Tarragon, which is prolific but not as fragrant or good tasting as French Tarragon.

My dream garden, thanks to
High Country Gardens: Plants for the Western Garden and Beyond. Tune in next summer, or the next to see if the dream comes true, on a smaller basis.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Surprised by Beauty

We went to the Home Depot in Canon City today to get landscape timbers for my new flower bed by the back door. While waiting for the workers to lift the timbers to the carrier on the top of the van, I discovered the most gorgeous view out the back door. Am I fortunate to live here or what? (Please click on photo to enlarge it and get the full impact.) The trees on the right are along Fourmile (Oil) Creek, the trees at the back are along the Arkansas River, and those are the Wet Mountains behind the mesas. We often see deer feeding in this pasture.

The oldtimers called this Oil Creek because there was an oil seep on the bank further to the north. The second oil well in the nation was drilled near the seep in the late 1800s (the first was in Pennsylvania). In this area some of the earliest discovered fossilized dinosaur skeletons were excavated from the Cope and Marsh quarries along the creek. Paleontologists from the Denver Natural History Museum still excavate in the quarries in the summers and there is a Dinosaur Museum in Canon City to display and interpret some of the finds. Dinosaurs from these quarries are also displayed in some of the well known East Coast museums. [Professor Edward Drinker Cope, of the Philadelphia Academy of Science, was a cousin of Joe's Great Great Grandmother Ruth Cope Van Syoc.]

When we drive on up the creek along the narrow Shelf Road we get to Cripple Creek, on the south slope of Pikes Peak, where immense amounts of gold were mined in the 1890s (now immense amounts of "gold" are bet in the legal casinos.) Canon City and Florence shipped locally grown fruit and vegetables to the mining camp by wagon on the Shelf Road; and the Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad was built up Phantom Canyon, north of Florence (which is 10 miles southeast of Canon City on the River), to carry supplies up and ship ore down for processing in the many mills in Florence. I tell Joe that with the coal mines, oil wells and 2 refineries, plus the ore processing mills, Florence must have been a noisy, smelly, dirty, wealthy place at the turn of the Twentieth Century.

Our house is built on the site of one of the refineries that exploded in 1926, killing some of the workers. When I dig in my garden I find shards of old bricks, chunks of concrete, pieces of cast iron, clinkers and cinders. Across the pasture at the back of our yard is still one of the huge old smokestacks and across the highway to Wetmore is the smokestack from the other refinery.

And now the lovely old victorian brick, stone, and cast iron fronted commercial buildings lining Main Street (built with the gold, coal, and oil money) are housing antique shops, restaurants and art galleries. [The 1942 on the old post card is the card number, not the date.]

Monday, May 21, 2007

Graduation Weekend

Had a great weekend with family at Brian's graduation in Byers. The drive to Byers was beautiful with green grass and wildflowers everywhere. The plains east of Denver are lovely in the wet years but pretty miserable during drought years. With all the snow and rain this year it is spectacular. Amber took some photos for me of the prairie running back to the Front Range and I share it with you here. Please click the photo to enlarge it to see the landscape better.

One of the teachers made a slide show of each of the 41 students in the graduating class, showing pictures of each one from babyhood to their Senior photos which was fun and touching. The kids from this small school received an amazing number of grants and scholarships. We are proud of Brian for receiving a scholarship to the Colorado Art Institute. I'm so happy that he is going to get the training to allow him to become a professional artist. His Mom had some of his art work on display at the graduation party and my favorite was a self portrait which I posted here.

I was able to get a cute photo of Brian, in his gown, with his girlfriend, Tabi, and his cousin, Ben, who is a year younger (Ben is Mandy's older brother.)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Class of 2007

We're off to Byers for the weekend to see grandson Brian graduate from high school.

Way to Go, Brian!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

WIP Wednesday

I have 2 more of my completed WOTB blocks to post as well as the projects I'm working on.

For week 4 (a catch up block) I paper pieced Cross Road for Lot's wife. For this block I chose fabrics to represent the fire, brimstone and cinders that fell onto Sodom while Lot's family was led away by angels. Despite being warned, Lot's wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. Her story can be read at Genesis 11:27 - 19:38.

Week 11's block was Follow the Leader for Miriam, the sister of Moses. Miriam watched after Moses in his basket in the river when his mother attempted to save him from the cruel edict of Pharoah, to kill all the male Hebrew babies. Then, along with Aaron, she assisted in leading the Israelites out of Egypt. This paper pieced block celebrates Miriam's whirling dance of joy and thanksgiving to God after he led the Hebrews across the Red Sea on dry land and saved them from the Egyptians. I chose the reds and purples to symbolize her love and praise and the gold represents God's presence.

This week I am working on the HoneyBee block for the prophet Deborah (her name means "Bee" or "Honey Bee") who led the army of Israel to triumph over the ungodly Canaanites.

In addition, I have finished ripping out the seams to the Sunshine and Shadow block that I am making for comfort quilts for victims of the Virginia Tech shooting. When I got the block finished, I discovered that my 1/4 inch seams were not scant enough, so ripped them out, and am now ready to press and resew the block. Oh, how fun it is to "unsew"! The VT fabric was provided by Grandma's Attic Quilting online. Her husband is a graduate of VT and had just purchased a bolt of this fabric before the shooting took place.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Look Who I Found

Hey, all you Art Image Challenge alums, look who I found in the Gallery of the Quilt Show online? ElsieElf! Check here for her website. She's looking good and has a lot of great quilts on her site.

Remember her Fresh Snow? Ain't it great! that the quilting community is small enough that we run into each other from time to time?

We miss you, Elsie!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mountain Valley Orchard

Yesterday I rode up the Oak Creek Grade to Westcliffe with Joe, again. In a previous post I
mentioned the orchard and vineyard in the first valley over the Grade [the Oak Creek Grade was originally built as a wagon road to the silver mines in Silvercliffe over 100 years ago.] This
time the apple trees and lilacs were in bloom and I wanted to share them with you. The grape vines aren't growing much yet, you can see the stakes and wires behind the apple trees.

I would love to have an orchard of gnarled old apple trees but it is too late in life for me to grow my own. I've heard that you plant trees for the future generations, not for yourself.

I am late with my May 12 x 12. After seeing the quilts at the Denver show, my concept of what I was doing changed, and am I waiting for some silk organza and silk satin photo fabric sheets, that I had to order online, to arrive before I can finish the piece.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Allison Tagged Me

7 Things about me:

1. I live mostly in denim; split skirts, skirts, baggy legged jeans, jackets and vests, with
tee shirts layered with flannel shirts when it is cool. Indigo is my neutral, with a bit of pink or red to set it off. I resent having to wear anything else after years of a big lady dress-up job.

2. I have been a bookworm since I was 6 years old and could read; in a 1000 square foot modular house I have 141 linear feet of bookshelves, plus the books on my headboard and in a large basket in the living room, and the ones in Joe’s room. The largest majority of these are reference (field guides), how-to (genealogy, gardening, needlepoint, quilting and related), history, art, classical music, and theology.

3. I love to garden so much, that when I lived in an apartment over Joe’s shop in downtown Florence, I had a rooftop garden and patio (La Playa Brea) that got lots of attention from the tourists and antique shoppers. Here I have herb, veggie, and prairie gardens that I am creating from a weed patch.

4. I love to do needlepoint but I hate to make them into anything useable, so over the 25 years I’ve been stitching, I’ve collected a large collection of unfinished canvases. I am now attempting to make them up and give them to family members to enjoy rather than have them lying in drawers.

5. I am a batty, old cat lady. I am partial to Siamesers and currently have 2 neutered male lynx point Siamese housemates (actually I am their slave). I also have a pet long haired black male outdoor cat, who tells me when he is hungry and deigns to allow me to feed him, but after over 2 years still refuses to let me touch him. In addition, I feed a series of macho alley tomcats that come to eat long enough to win my heart and then disappear. These feed pans also lure skunks and raccoons to my back door on a regular basis.

6. I am a birdwatcher and have designed my garden to be attractive to the birds and other wild critters, with a tiny pond and fountain in my prairie garden to water them and birdfeeders throughout the garden. I belong to the CoBirders yahoo group and get daily reports on interesting bird sightings throughout the state. I’m also a member of national Audubon.
7. My d├ęcor style indoors and out is depression era southwestern farmhouse primitive with rocks, minerals, and interesting rusty junque stuck hither and yon. I am probably the only devotee of this particular style. I like to think of myself as a desert rat gypsy.

Now I’m supposed to tag 7 other bloggers to do this meme; who hasn’t done it yet? Jane Ann, Suze, Susan, Vivian, Nikki, JenClair, Jules? Great way for us to learn more about each other and lots better than 25 or 50 things, 7 is easy. But, only if doing it is fun for you all.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Favorites from the Denver Quilt Festival

Technodunce [sorry, I borrowed this term from one of your blogs, and can't remember who gets the credit] Granny Fran attempted to add a link to a slide show of my photos here; instead please follow this link to my Webshots album and watch it as a slide show or click on each thumbnail to see the photos and captions.

Surprise, surprise! I tended to choose quilters who were working with photos printed on fabric, quilts that translated family photos and nature into fabric, and quilts that incorporated hexagons. I see these as the direction I am attempting to travel in my creative textile endeavors. I am pleased that viewing this show encouraged me to stretch and learn the techniques I need to create quilts that can be entered into juried shows, instead of making me feel overwhelmed and hopeless.

"How does one eat an elephant? One bite at a time."

How does one create a prize winning quilt? One stitch at a time.

This quilt was pointed out to me by Debra as something similar to what she could see me doing
in the future. It was one large photo, printed in sections onto fabric, and assembled in such a way that it reads as a whole photo, then heavily quilted to enhance the scene. I'm now excited about translating the Colorado landscape, as photographed by me, into fabric.

(Please click on the photo to see the details.)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Denver Quilt Festival

I'm so glad Debra e-mailed me a few weeks ago and asked it I was going to attend the Denver

Quilt Festival. I hadn't planned to, but since she was coming, I checked it out online and realized I needed to be there. I made reservations at my favorite Denver B & B, my oldest daughters home in Wheatridge, and planned to be there on Friday and Saturday. On Thursday, Joe drove the car to Pueblo, had a flat tire, and decided I couldn't drive to Denver until he put on 4 new tires, which he did Friday morning. I drove up Friday afternoon, and got into a downpour and 5 lanes of bumper to bumper very slow traffic through the Denver Tech Center, so I stopped at Colorado Avenue for a late lunch and waited out the storm and traffic jam; so I didn't make it to the show until Saturday morning.

My middle daughter, Kat, joined me and as soon as we registered, I got on the phone to Debra. She and Samantha were straight at the back from the door at the Hoffman's Challenge Quilts, so that's where we met for the first time in person. I'd have known Debra anywhere, after about 3 years of seeing her photos online. I had only recently met Samantha through her blog and she is
cute, energetic and has a great sense of humor. The 3 of us had our photo taken in front of Kay's
Hoffman quilt. What a gas to actually know the quiltmaker whose quilt was chosen to be part of the Challenge show. We had so much fun looking at the quilts together and doing our own judging and wishing we could read the minds of the actual judges. Why this one and not that one? Surely this one deserved an award. What do they consider innovative?!!

And, let me tell you, we wept copious tears over the wonderful, personal quilts in the show, "Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece" curated by Ami Simms. Photos were not allowed of these quilts, but you can get the CD or buy the book at Ami's site.

Although I had charged my digital camera battery just before I left home, it was not holding a charge very well, and I wasn't able to take all the pictures I wanted to. Luckily, Debra and Samantha got a lot of good photos. I will post more photos of quilts that were meaningful to me tomorrow. Can't stay up all night posting photos. I'm posting later than the other gas because I stayed in Denver through Monday. My greatgrandson Miles, had his 5th birthday party Sunday afternoon and I didn't want to drive home in the dark, with it snowing and slippery on Monument Hill.

As a thank you to Debra for all the teaching, encouragement, and fabric she has provided to me, not to mention the pedometer she sent me, I made a spirit doll for her. Here is a close up of the doll, which is covered with fabric photos of some of her quilts and website logos. I got the idea of a spirit doll from Robin Atkins' Bead Lust blog. I had so much fun
making this one, and my greatgranddaughter, Kaylee, admired it so much, that I'm going to make a lot more of them for my loved ones. Kaylee wants a Princess Doll.

This is the first time I've been to a big quilt show with all the vendors, etc., and I gained so much from it. While admiring the hand quilting being done by the lady tending her Soft Fabric Photos' booth, I mentioned that I couldn't hand quilt due to arthritis, and she directed me to the booth of Jean's Impressions Quilts, where they were demonstrating a system of hand quilting that creates perfect stitches on back and front of the quilt without moving the fingers or wrist. Jean has been using this system for over 40 years and demonstrates and teaches at shows and guilds all over the country. I bought a lap frame (which doesn't have to be held), Aunt Becky Tool for the under the quilt finger, and a beautiful thimble with a solid brass top piece that lasts forever, and will now start learning her system. I've always been a great admirer of hand quilting and never thought I would be able to do it. Thank you so much to both Jeans for directing me and demonstrating the system.

I didn't have time to look at or purchase fabrics (luckily) but I did manage to get some tools that I've needed for some time (a Clover stilleto and an embroidery hoop with a hands free stand for stitching on crazy and journal quilts), as well as a tiny latch hook type of tool for beading that Debra had discovered. I now realize that you need 2 days to be able to look at both the quilts and the vendors.

I also enjoyed talking to the ladies at the Janome booth, where I discovered that my Bernette 75 might have been marketed by Bernina, but it was made by Janome. I've been seriously researching whether I should choose a Bernina or a Janome when I am ready to make the leap to a computerized machine.

All in all, my first foray into the world of large Quilt Shows was quite worthwhile. Debra was not happy with the motel she was at; too bad that she didn't stay at my Bed and Breakfast. It wasn't as close, but was a lot more fun, and the commute was not bad, including the scenic deadend route through an industrial barrio when we took the wrong turn off of I-25 (It was Cinco de Mayo!).

This is the view from the deck of the B & B showing the lilacs blooming and the Rocky Mountains in the distance. The spreading junipers are showing the flattening results of all the blizzards this winter. The green is due to the copious rain and hail this week.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Flower Scanning

I've been so intrigued by the scanned flowers printed on fabric that Allison makes that I had to try it myself. This is going to take a lot of experimentation to learn how, and how not, to do it. I went out this morning and picked an Iris a panicle of Bleeding Heart flowers and leaves and a handfull of tiny violets. I arranged them on the scanner glass, covered them with a crocheted doily and fabric and scanned. The iris was so fat that it cast funny shadows and the crocheted doily was too coarse to get the effect I wanted so I switched to a vintage (and very fragile) lace doily and covered it with an orange fabric to set off the purplish blues in the bouquet.

The second scan was more pleasing than the first but I ended up with some little particles of pollen on the glass. How in the world can I keep that from happening the next time? I've decided it looks like one of the antique floral postcards we have from Joe's Gramma May's collection.

I'm going to have to collect some flatter flowers to try again see how that works.

I've been so frustrated today, trying to print photos on fabric, for a current project, with the minimal photo software that came on our Dell computer (Adobe Photoshop Starter Edition) and the software that came with our new HP Photosmart C6180 all-in-one. I wanted to print multiple photos, in sizes of my choosing, on one prepared fabric sheet. These programs want me to do it their way. To print small photos I have to print a whole page of one photo (what a waste!); or to do many different photos on one sheet I could print a contact sheet, which made each photo exactly the same tiny size and shape, and cropped the photos to fit, which removed half of what I wanted to print.

Finally, this evening I did what I've been threatening to do for over a year; I ordered and downloaded the Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0. Now I'm still frustrated, as well as completely confused. Now I need to learn to speak a whole new language in order to get this program to do what I think it can, if I only knew how to command it. Have you noticed that computer geeks, who design these software programs, are not like us?! They have no conception of how to translate their postgraduate info into our kindergarten minds. Oh, to be 10 again! It isn't enough to use it or lose it; we have to keep relearning it at a higher level. Windows Vista?!!! How I long for my old original Windows 3.0.

Who knew that learning to make quilts was going to require me to learn not only photography, but digital photo manipulation? Nowadays, we oldsters don't get to retire and rock in our rocking chairs; we have to, as Alice said, " run as fast as we can, just to stay where we are. If we want to get anywhere, we have to run faster!"

With all this going on I haven't gotten the scanned flowers printed onto fabric yet. I wish I could get the iridescent effect of silk organza without so much transparency.