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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Farewell, Marj

We received a sad phone call yesterday telling us that Joe's cousin, Marj, passed away. She had been hospitalized since an auto accident a few months ago.
Marjorie with her parents and baby brother.
Rest in Peace, Marjorie
15 July 1923 - 29 December 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Merry, White Christmas

Mom, Joe and I drove to my daughter, Michal's, home in Wheatridge (a northwestern suburb of Denver) on a warm, sunny Christmas Eve. We enjoyed watching 2 of the great grandchildren, Miles and Kaylee, make and decorate sugar cookies and later got to see their parents, Brooke and Donnie, Lindsay and Derek, and Kaylee's 4 month old baby brother, Sean, when they came to pick up the children. Sean was sleeping in his baby carrier so I wasn't able to get a photo of him.

Our contributions to the Christmas celebration were roast beef cooked with potatoes and carrots for Christmas Eve dinner; red grapes, layered bar cookies that I made; Joe's fantastic peanut butter fudge from his Mom's famous recipe; and a pumpkin and a pecan pie from the Village Inn (I seldom do pies).

We had a quiet Christmas eve with Michal Ann and woke up Christmas morning to a sky full of snow. It snowed all day and was gorgeous to look out at; I'm just glad we didn't have to drive in it because there was a lot of black ice under the snow on the streets and highways. Kat, Greg, Ben, Mandy and Evan and then Carl, Robyn and Jason arrived around noon. We ate my homemade cinnamon rolls and Michal's egg, bread and sausage brunch casserole, and sipped Mimosas, while Michal and Mandy chopped mushrooms, onions and peppers for the three pans of lasagna (one vegetarian).

With the lasagna we had Robyn's great green salad with rasberries, pine nuts, and glazed pecans; garlic bread; and vegan Robyn's Cashew loaf, which is a family favorite. After the meal we opened the presents from under the traditionally decorated Christmas tree. I lucked out with a set of crystal Chardonnay glasses, a soft, charcoal gray wool granny shawl, and a set of Bible commentaries wrapped in a yard of Ricky Timms' dyed fabric. Robyn went into the Longmont quilt shop and asked the lady for suggestions and she told her to get the Timms' fabric because I'd know what it was as soon as I saw it. Joe surprised me with updated Photoshop software to help me make my quilt fabric better.

Watching Ben and Jason help Evan make his Lego Star Wars creature and then Robyn playing Transformers chess was quite entertaining. Everyone learns quickly that you can't win when you play against Evan because he makes up his own rules(4 year olds can get away with that.) But Robyn gave him a good run for his money.

Mother strung beads for the granddaughters and the quilt on her lap is Kaylee's "Quiltmaker's Gift" quilt that I made for her. She is very fond of it and loves to have Grandma Michal read the book to her while she snuggles in the quilt.

After our sad Thanksgiving it was so good to have the family together for Christmas. We just wish Sharon and her family could have been here but we all talked to her a couple of times on the phone.

This morning the sky was blue and everything was coated with a thick layer of snow as we drove back home; everything looked beautiful. It hadn't snowed as much here as in Denver but the ground was covered with pristine snow until we drove into our back driveway. Cho Cho and Ditto were quite happy to have us home again and Cho is sitting on the desk, keeping me company, as I type this.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Unto You A Child Is Born

"The Nativity at Night
late 15th century
GEERTGEN tot Sint Jansabout 1455/65 - about 1485/95
NG4081. Bought, 1925.

This is one of the most engaging and convincing early treatments of the Nativity as a night scene. The brilliant light in the foreground comes from the Christ Child in the crib. It illuminates the figure of the Virgin, who bends forward, hands joined in prayer, Saint Joseph in the background, and the figures of the delighted small angels to the left.The radiance of the angel announcing the birth to the shepherds on the distant hillside provides another contrast between darkness and divine light. A third and lesser source of light comes from the shepherds' fire.The idea of the infant Christ illuminating the Nativity scene comes from the writings of the 14th-century Saint Bridget of Sweden. She wrote that in her visions the light of the new-born child was so bright 'that the sun was not comparable to it'. A century later, the interest of artists such as Geertgen in depicting naturalistically the contrasts of extreme light and shade served to heighten the sense of the miraculous birth.
See The Nativity At Night here and click on the zoom symbol to explore - can you find the tiny fluttering angel?

Oil on oak34 x 25.3 cm.
National Gallery, London
The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DN, England "
Love, Grace, Mercy and Peace to All!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Still Here_Still Stitching

It's been a while since I last posted here. I've been so busy getting Mom's new home arranged and handling her financial arrangements that I didn't realize how long it's been since I shared with you all.

After our snow and cold, the past 2 days have been sunnier and warmer. I got some lovely sunset cloud colors on my camera this evening from the parking lot of the Hastings book and media store in Canon City where I had been picking up books for grandchildren. The moon is even visible in some of them; the color was more in the south and east since there were no clouds on the mountain skyline to the west.

I haven't had time or energy to do any quiltmaking but have gone back to my long time sanity saver, needlepoint. I can do this in the evenings while watching TV with Joe. Christmas time always gets me into stitching more ornaments. I'm finishing some pieces that I started last year; I finished the green stitching on a tree and filled in the empty bars with gold yarn. There is also a photo of a Christmas tree that I stitched and beaded last year; the colored bugle beads make good tree ornaments. I'm also putting the background stitches around an angel, which is shown in the photo with another angel that I stitched last year. I finish these with a felt backing that covers a layer of thin batting.

When we moved to Florence from Deer Trail 20 years ago I managed to lose my large collection of needlepoint beaded ornaments that I had made, so each year I try to add a few ornaments to my recreated collection. I've also made ornaments for the kids through the years. The one piece I was sorriest to lose was a tree top angel that a male friend made for me when I lived in Boulder. Jack was fascinated when I began to needlepoint in the early 70s and had to figure out how to do it backwards, since he was lefthanded. Later, he actually found a book on needlepointing for lefties.

I love to make quilts, but I do not find it relaxing, and I wear out quickly. The rhythmic hand stitching of needlepoint has always been a very relaxing activity for me in a way that nothing else is. I am so thankful that I can still hold and manipulate the tapestry needles, which are larger than the quilting needles that I am no longer able to use.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Same Sunset, Different Eye

Those of you who enjoyed my sunset photos need to check out my brother's photos of the same sunset. We both needed the refreshment that those colors gave us.

Our replacement monitor has arrived and it is wonderful to be able to see the writing on the screen again, however, this is one of those new long, narrow rectangular ones they are making now. It may be fine for watching wide screen movies, but it distorts my photographs, and I'm not pleased. Are any of you having that problem? If so, have you figured out how to adjust it so people don't look wider than they are tall? (Would I exaggerate?)

I also received my locker hooking book and my free motion quilting foot for my Bernina, but I haven't had a chance to try using either. I spent this cold, snowy day setting up a filing system in one of our file cabinets for Mom's and Dad's records, while looking for addresses and phone numbers for insurance companies, etc. that need to be notified of Dad's death. Yesterday I was in Fowler getting papers out of a safety deposit box and picking up more clothes and other items for Mom, and we will go again tomorrow, if the snow clears up. I had no concept of how much there is to do after the loss of a loved one. I am glad to be able to report that Mom is settling in well at her new place, and even wants us to bring her sewing machine and some material so she can do some sewing. At this point do you suppose I could interest her in quilt making?

I can't seem to shake off this awful virus and am still coughing and hacking and dragging. I sure would like to be able to soak in the sun for a while, but winter is definitely upon us. Very soon the days will begin getting longer; Hooray for the Winter Solstice! I may build a bonfire and jump over it like they did in the old days in Britain. Or I may just wrap some rope lights on the porch rail and set up the teepee shaped light assemblage that I found at the store for my front yard, since we don't have any evergreens in the garden. "If winter comes can Spring be far behind?"
I love my neighbor's idea of the perfect Christmas tree, although I imagine it looks strange this evening in the snow.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Today Steve and I went to visit the banks, Post Office, Fowler Tribune, and City Hall, as well as picking up a few more items from the house for Mom's new home. Driving home from Fowler this evening this is part of the sunset I enjoyed. These photos were taken East of Pueblo.

Looking North toward Pikes Peak.

You definitely need to click on these to enlarge them.

Looking west toward the Spanish Peaks (Huahatolla) left, and Wet Mountains to the right. The highest peak in the Wet Mountains is Greenhorn Peak (Cuerno Verde).

Looking Northwest over Pueblo toward the Wet Mountains.

West toward Spanish Peaks and Wet Mountains a little later. La Veta, where Ricky Timms lives, has his gallery, and films The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson is in an unbelievably beautiful valley as the foot of the Spanish Peaks.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Life Goes On

Wouldn't you know, with all the stress, I have fallen prey to a miserable chest cold. When I try to talk I croak. I'm on antibiotics because my sick lungs are susceptible to pneumonia. It's been a couple of years since I last had a cold and I had forgotten how rotten "the common cold" makes you feel.

I decided that today had to be a relaxing and resting day, and since it was a beautiful morning and early afternoon I rode with Joe to a nearby Penrose alpaca farm. I have a weakness for alpacas and their soft, luxurious wool. While Joe worked on Robin's dishwasher, Gary to me for a tour of his place and introduced me to his 60 alpacas. Their Australian shepherd, with one blue and one brown eye, and the white Great Pyrenees accompanied us, as did a sleek black and white cat (I never met a herd cat before). I am in love and am going to have to drive by occassionally to admire these wonderful animals.

After the tour, Robin showed me the treasures made from alpaca wool that she sells in her small store. Robin is an artist as well as alpaca farmer, and I was delighted to see a needle felted alpaca with blanket that she had made. They have their wool processed by a place in Kansas and have several natural colors of yarn, with photos of the alpaca who donated the wool on each label. I really admired the hand knitted socks and sweaters and the sheer woven scarves looked almost like silk. I hope one of the kids asks me what I want for Christmas, because I have my eye on a hand embroidered black scarf.

I also want to share my newest treasure with you. My 11 year old granddaughter Rachel, from Salt Lake City, gave me a drawing for a quilt design, and someday I hope to use it to make a quilt for her.

Tomorrow we will start moving Mom to Canon City. Mom and Dad have lived in Fowler for 57 years, and in their home for around 40. It is so hard! I don't want to do this; I don't want to play this game anymore, it's not fun. I just want things to go back to the way they were. My reaction to losing Dad is nothing like what I expected. I don't feel sad, it hurts too bad to be just sad. I literally hurt physically, my whole body, with a hole in my middle. I feel like something is horribly wrong with my world, something like anxiety, but not just sadness. I told Joe that death isn't just the loss of someone, it is the loss of an entire lifestyle. "This too will pass." For the last 40 years this has been one of those common sayings that help me to keep putting one foot in front of the other, whatever happens. Thank God, humans are so adaptable.