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Friday, August 29, 2008

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

The early color of the sunset from the Village Inn Parking Lot in Canon City. This is Fremont Peak; can you see the sleeping indian that the early settlers saw in the shape of this mountain?

We are taking off for the campground first thing in the morning and will meet son, Greg with Mandy and Evan, and son, Doug, with Jennie, there. I am so excited to get to go camping, even tho I've had to trade my tent for a camper. The pillowcases are all made, and half of the curtains are ready to hang (we'll have to do that at the campground, tomorrow, since we ran out of time today); I have enough to cover the windows flat, without any gathers, those will wait for the other half of the curtains to be finished. At least we will have privacy and color, instead of the hodge podge in there now. I've ended up having to buy bits of fabric here and there, where I could still find it available. I didn't remember at the beginning that I needed to do two lengths for each window and when I needed more fabric, the original quilt shop was out. I finally got all the fabric at three different places online and locally.

In the few minutes it took to drive to the top of the hill, east of Canon City on US Highway 50,
the color became this brilliant.

These are some photos I've taken in the last few days, ending with a spectacular sunset this evening as we drove home from Canon City, after shopping for groceries and supplies, and having skillet dinners at the Village Inn.

This is the reflection of the sunset on a thunderhead East of Canon City.

The herd of llamas [just some of our "native" fauna] on Department of Corrections land [state and federal prisons are the biggest employers in Fremont County, around 10 state prisons, and a Federal 4 prison complex; including the Administrative Max Prison that holds the worst of the worst, such as the original World Trade Center bombers, the Unabomber, Gotti, and the Oklahoma CityFederal Building bombers, until one was taken elsewhere for his execution. I can see the lights of this complex from my kitchen window, about a mile away to the south], north of Florence. Note the green grass, the first we've seen all spring and summer. Up till the 5th of August this all looked like dead straw. Hooray for the Monsoons!

Here is more green prairie off to the Wet Mountains in the South. That dark greenery, down in the Arkansas River Valley, is Florence. See how we snuggle down between the bluffs. The deciduous trees of the prairie grow only in the river and creek valleys. Those dirt mounds are prairie dog holes. I could hear them barking alarms while I took the photos, but couldn't get any pictures of them.

I was happily surprised that I had walked over 5000 steps today, the most I've been able to do since the first mini stroke in July. That could explain why I am so tired and need to get to bed so I can get up early in the morning.

Hope you all have great weekends!

Friday, August 22, 2008


I have to share this precious photo that my daughter, Michal Ann, sent me this morning. These are the new babies of her friends in the Denver area. They were able to go home from the hospital this week. We are all so thankful that the babies, Mom, and Dad are all doing fine.

Congratulations Paul and Kristi!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fabric and Color and Pattern, Oh Yes!

Here are the rugs, towels, washcloths, and fabrics that I've put together for our vintage camper.

I still need to find turquoise kitchen towels, and pot holders; turquoise is evidently not "in" for kitchens currently, at least, not at the local WalMart. I need to visit the Pueblo Target to see what colors they have.

The turquoise and brown fabrics were from the July fat quarters bundle, and the minute I saw them I knew they were just what the camper needed. However, Denise of the Canon City Creative Cloth Closet has been sending out lots of e-mails about new fabrics coming in, so I had to stop by and look and them, and Voila!, a turquoise fabric with colorful southwestern style lizards all over it, which adds the needed Pop to the scheme. Before I received the vintage style fabrics, I had considered doing a Southwestern theme, so now I have melded the retro and the Southwestern.

That all over diaper pattern fabric is what most of the curtains will be made from; and I'm just certain that at some time my Granny had curtains, made from a similar pattern, in her kitchen. Every time I look at it I get deja vu shivers.

The mattress on the permanent bed, in the camper, is also vintage, in that it is a three quarter size, rather than twin or double. Have you tried to find sheets for a three quarter mattress lately. The few places I've found online want a fistful of dollars for their scarce bedding. Since we will be using our sleeping bags, instead of regular bedding, I am going to find a heavy duty tan fabric and make my own fitted mattress cover (slip cover) for the mattress, and have pillow cases made from the various turquoise fabrics to brighten it up. I get the main bed and Joe uses the bed that is made by dropping the table top down into the bench seats. We are too old and large to share that very narrow three quarter bed.

I suppose that when we take our vintage camper for it's maiden camping trip, with us anyway, over the Labor Day weekend, we should take along some bottles of champaign to christen it with; my idea of the best way to christen it, is to drink the champaign. Too bad our local Abbey Winery does not make a champaign.

While looking at the new bolts of fabric at Denise's, I found these on a table in the back classroom space; they hadn't made it to the shelves up front yet. They stopped me dead in my tracks. I have a major thing for Art Deco design, and these are a very modern take on Art Deco in scrumptious rich colors. The purple on the left side is not nearly that dark in person. I don't know what I'm going to do with these, but I've been thinking that I need to find a quilting pattern that looks kind of Art Deco. Maybe something with the Drunkard's Path circles and squares would work.

Here are the fat eighths of Moda's Prairie Paisley, that I mentioned in the previous post, for a quilt for my bed.

You really need to click on these photos to enlarge them to see the colors and patterns better.

It was sunny and hot (94 degrees) again today; our monsoon rains seem to be over for the year, and when I went out to set the sprinklers on the grass in front of the house, I saw several butterflies gathering nectar from the Butterfly Bushes, in the western shrub border that I planted to screen our place from the neighbors. I really wanted to get a photo of one of them with their wings open to show the brilliant orange color, but they only opened them when they were flying, and I couldn't photograph them when they were moving so fast. I've also got a couple of Rose of Sharon bushes and some old fashioned Sweet Rocket blooming now, and there are always butterflies and hummingbirds enjoying them. There are also a couple of old fashioned rose bushes in this border, but they bloom earlier in the summer. The old roses only bloom for a while in the late Spring or early Summer, unlike the modern roses, that bloom all summer long. I would like to get some climbing roses along the front fence that will bloom all summer. I also crave at least one of the fantastic, eye catching big, bright, hardy Hibiscus that I see blooming
now in some yards in Canon City. It is amazing to me that these tropical looking flowers can survive our winters, but the hardy ones can.

If I had the space and money, I suppose I'd have a botanical garden of my own with an integrated arboretum. Every plant I see, I want. I'll have one of those, and one of those....well maybe one in each color...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

Miraculous! We have had rain and cool temps for three, count them, three days in a row. It has drizzled, thundered, lightninged, and/or downpoured on top of the monsoon rains that we received last week. After the hot, miserably dry spring and summer we've had, this is fantastic! No more dust, shriveled and burned vegetation, not to mention dehydrated skin and hair. The world looks washed, and sparkley. No more red flag fire warning days with smoke hazing the sky. And even though the prairie never greened up in the spring, we now see a shade of green spreading over the hills and gullies; and when the 90 degree temps return later in the week, I am sure the green prairie grass will leap out of the moist earth.

The prairie grasses and flowers have adapted to our hot, dry climate by going into "hibernation"
(actually, animals hibernate and plants do something else, but I can't come up with the proper word at this particular time) during our periodic droughts, ready to spring back into life when the moisture finally returns. The average moisture received here is 12 inches a year, so you can imagine how dry it gets during a drought year. Prairie species have to be tough!

My garden is refreshed and so am I. I even went out during one of the brief dry spells in the early afternoon, fed the birds, and pulled some gigantic weeds that were trying to take over the herb garden, until Joe shooed me back indoors before I could wear myself out. Noone can pull just one! Those deep roots pull out of the moist soil so easily and satisfactorilly (I'm not sure that's really a word, but I tend to like speaking colloquially, even if I have to invent the colloquialisms.)

We are enjoying the vegetables from our garden, they taste good as well as looking good. I chopped up zuchinni, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, garlic from the garden with purchased onion, and made my version of Ratatouille; grated cucumbers into herb flavored yoghurt; and sprinkled celery salt onto juicy sliced tomatoes for meals this weak. Home grown tomatoes actually taste like tomatoes and, as Joe puts it, they don't crunch when you bite them, like what they sell as tomatoes at the grocery stores.

I actually started sewing the new retro curtains for our vintage camper/trailer this evening and found some light and dark turquoise towel sets, while shopping this afternoon, that go with the curtain fabric perfectly. When I sat down at the sewing machine, I was even able to remember how to use the poor neglected thing.

I'm also contemplating making a quilt for my bed using the bundle of Moda's Prairie Paisley fabrics that I purchased from Grandma's Attic Quilting. Since I love both paisley (Persian Pickles) and the prairie, I was intrigued from the time I read that they were coming out with the Prairie Paisley patterns and was overjoyed, when I saw the photos of the fabrics, to find that they were in the shades of blue that I adore. I am very fond of the blue English country floral comforter I've had for ages, but it is beginning to show signs of use by me and my cats. I'm afraid that one more trip to the laundry will shred it.

Friday, August 8, 2008

You Can't Keep A Good Granny Down

Our month long heat wave finally gave way to 3 days of cooler, wet, Monsoon here in Florence. It helps me and my dry, suffering garden feel better. I managed to walk around Toad Haven, without falling down,with the help of my gorgeous Aspen walking stick, handmade for me by granddaughter Mandy. I took lots of photos and even got to pick some ripe tomatoes, eggplant, squash, cucumbers and lettuces. The Romaine lettuce was great as the base of a lemon- dill tuna salad.

Thanks to Dave and Carl, the yardmen who I finally gave up and hired to help me when I couldn't get out to the garden this past month, the worst of the weeds and elm seedlings are gone and I can sit and admire and enjoy the garden without feeling overwhelmed by the work that needed to be done.

It's wonderful to be happy and hopeful again instead of so beat down as I have been. Hopefully, this weak, shaky body will be able to come back from the terrible punishment it has had, due to medication side effects, the past 15 months. I have lost 30 pounds and my clothes are beginning to hang on me. Ain't it Wonderful! Now only 65 more pounds to go. It is much easier now, to not want to gobble the junk I had been stuffing down. I think I was craving more energy and, somehow, thought that more food would help. Of course, it didn't.

I even managed to drive to Canon City today to shop at the health food store and City Market for a few things, and drove home the back way and took lots more photos of the refreshed countrside and the fantastic monsoon thunderheads in the sky. By the time I got home and carried the 2 bags of groceries in, I was shaking and had to collapse to recuperate a while, but it was worth it.

Before the "you know what" hit the fan in early July, Joe and I purchased a vintage, small travel trailer from a neighbor. It is so old it actually has real wood paneling, instead of pressed board or
plastic. Outside it is white with a retro turquoise band around it. June's fat quarters packet of the month from Grandma's Attic Quilting consisted of lovely retro looking turquoise, brown and
cream prints that I thought would be perfect as curtains and pillows for a refurbished camper, so I ordered enough to replace the odds and ends that the fisherman who owned it before scrounged up to cover the windows. Now I have to get Joe to tear out the hideous orange shag carpet and put down something more suitable. As soon as I feel up to sewing again, I will turn that little camper into the cutest thing you've ever seen. [The camper was where I was sleeping the night I had the first mini stroke; and I reveled in the luxury of a bed instead of a camp cot in a tent, even though it wasn't very attractive, yet.]

Maybe we will be able to go camping in the mountains with some of our kids over Labor Day weekend. It's wonderful to be human again, even if tottering!

The first landscape is of a great thunderhead building over Pikes Peak with Castle Rock (next to the Arkansas River) in the foreground. This photo was taken from the back road into Florence from Canon City.

The second landscape is of Florence, down in the River valley, behind the Southfield Coal Mine sign. This bluff has been mined out underneath the ground. We no longer have an active coal mine in the area because the cost of underground mining is prohibitive and we don't want open pits. Wyoming can have all the open pit coal mines they want out in all that empty land. For 150 years good quality coal has been mined in this area and we still have retired miners with Black Lung disease.

You really need to click these landscapes, to enlarge them, to really get an idea of what you are looking at.

The not so great side of the August Monsoons is that there is quite a bit of flash flooding and lightning along the whole front range corridor. On Wednesday, lightning hit the 90 year old steeple of the Catholic Cathedral in Pueblo and started a fire. They are now in the process of determining whether it can be repaired or will have to be removed. I'm hoping they can save it as it is a beautiful, historic feature of Pueblo.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The View From 70 Years

I spent my 70th birthday, July 31, in the ER at St. Mary Corwin Hospital in Pueblo and got moved to the telemetry observation ward around 10:30 that evening attached to all kinds of cords, dials, beepers, etc. It was not anything like I had imagined celebrating. Luckily, after a month of ER and hospital stays the doctors and I feel we have figured out what is going on and I am hopefully now on the way to recovery.

Thanks to being one of the rare cases of Lipitor (for high cholesterol) side effects, I had the year from Hell with the symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure with extreme edema, weakness, and water on the lungs making it difficult to breath. After being clued in by a cousin that his similar symtoms were caused by Lipitor the doctor took me off all Statins and I thought that things were looking up; the CFI symptoms were gone but I became progressively weaker, light headed, confused, and falling. My biggest mistake was to keep forcing myself to go on and do what needed to be done even though I was so tired and weak. Then I had the first TIA that I already blogged about.

After more TIA episodes and ER visits in Canon City, I was so weak and ill and unable to eat and my blood chemistry was very messed up so I was sent back to the ER at St. Mary Corwin Hospital in Pueblo because they had my original test results and better access to specialists and they admitted me for overnight observation. The hospital doctors finally discovered that the reason I has having fainting spells and falling was due to extremely low blood pressure. When lying down the BP was high, when sitting it decreased, when standing and or moving it dropped very low, within just minutes. Exactly opposite of what you would expect.

The BP meds had been greatly increased, to help run off the retained water when the Lipitor was causing the edema. Now that I no longer suffered from edema the BP medicine dosage was

way too high. So we stopped the blood thinner and BP meds and will now start over from scratch to get my BP stabilized at a healthy level. Hopefully Mother Nature will do what she's been trying to do all along, get to equilibrium, this time without help or hindrance from meds.

I am home, Kat and Mandy have been with me this past week; I am beginning to regain my appetite, but am still going to eat a healthy diet to lose more of my excess weight and take that strain off my body and systems. My muscles are so weak that I have to begin slowly to regain muscle strenth and be able to once again live a normally active life.

I am very weak but at least not hopeless, which is how I've felt for the past month. Maybe one of these days I will feel good enough to be interested in making quilts again. Normally, I would not bore you all with these medical details, but if someone else out there is having a similar problem, they need to know the effect that Lipitor had on me. I am told that it is extremely rare, but had my cousin not clued me in, and I had kept on taking the Statins, I might not even be here to write this blog.

Thank you to all my quilting buddies who have been encouraging me during this experience, even when I've been unable to read or write blogs.
Even when ill I need to have flower photos, so here are the flowers in front of my doctor's clinic.