Sunday, August 28, 2011

Big CQ Countdown -- Block 3

Anyone who knows my friend Martha Green will recognize this "tribute block". Martha is a tremendously creative, prolific crazy quilt artist, and I've learned more from her than I can possibly ever thank her for. 

I've tried to stay true to the vibrant colors the Martha uses, and the skeleton image is an original piece of art by Martha. She made the image for me, and if you click on the image to see it full size, you will see the lizard on the shoulder of the skeleton, who is holding a mug of beer. There's a story behind it, of course, but I'll save that for another time and place.

Day of the Dead image, compliments to Martha Green
More blocks to follow!

I love gifts from friends!

I am so lucky! I have such talented friends. Two of my favorite friends were kind enough to bring lovely gifts to me at the Crazy Quilt Retreat in St. Louis. I received a crazy quilted tissue holder from Yvonne Streeter, and a bracelet from Lisa Caryl. Both gifts are handmade by the givers. (I highly recommend double clicking each image for a larger, clearer image.)

Top side of tissue holder.
Yvonne chose lovely colors.

Backside of tissue holder.
Lots of delicate hand embroidery!

My photography leaves much to be desired.
This bracelet has beautiful soft pinks and purples,
 and lots of sparkle.

It has been such fun wearing the bracelet and using the tissue holder this summer. Both have collected lots of compliments. Thanks, gals!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What I did on my summer vacation

I didn't have any plans for the summer, and it's a good thing I didn't. Life happened and I've been busy traveling between SW Colorado, Northern New Mexico, and Southern Oklahoma. More about that. First, apologies to all the people I've neglected. Unreturned phone calls, unanswered emails, brief instant messages ... I have been terrible at keeping in touch. I was either busy as a one-armed wallpaper hanger, I was out of ATT's service area, or I was with other people.

Here's the story. I don't expect anyone to read it all the way through. Only my mother would do that.

When I returned from the Crazy Quilt Retreat at the end of June, I had just a couple of days before I took off for Durango, CO. The Las Conchas fire, the one that threatened Los Alamos, was burning when I drove from Albuquerque to Durango. See the two smoke plumes in the rear view mirror of my car?

Aunt Helen showing how tall the sunflowers are.
My favorite Aunt Helen wasn't feeling well, and she needed to me housesit and dogsit with her adorable dog Muffin because as soon as she felt well enough she wanted travel to Birmingham to see her sister, my Auntie Irene. Auntie Irene is in a place that cares for people with dementia. She's not doing so great. Despite this sad situation, Aunt Helen and I had a great time visiting, cooking, and just hanging out. She watches Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune every day, which is when we would have a beer and feed a few peanuts to Muffin, her adorable dog. I had time to work on my crazy quilt while we chatted, and finished up several blocks; I'll post more photos of the completed blocks.

Helen's backyard is a tiny work of art -- even the deer think so!


[Update: Last week the deer's fawns showed up in the yard, and Muffin got a little beat up by Mama Deer when she (Muffin) barked at the babies! As far as I know she is bruised and scared to death, but not seriously wounded.]

I was in Durango for five weeks, and had time to visit with my son, Barry, who lives there. I enjoyed becoming better acquainted with Barry's girlfriend Shannon, who is smart, beautiful, fun, generous, kind -- everything a mother wants. I'd better shut up before I jinx it. Shannon's parents were in town for a few days and after meeting them it's easy to see how Shannon turned out to be so special.

The weather in Durango was wonderful. A little hot during the day, but cool at night. The weather in Oklahoma during that time was brutally hot and I was grateful to be in the mountains.

Cloudy sky from Aunt Helen's garden.
At the end of my stay in Colorado, my son and I drove back to Oklahoma, where he spent two weeks helping around the "place". He and his Dad are working to make us more self-sufficient, and they installed a large drip irrigation system in the orchard. I didn't take any photos because it was too hot to go up to the garden.

We celebrated every day by having a pool party from about 5pm until about 10pm. We stayed cool, had a wonderful time with each other, and laughed our heads off. No photos because I was wet!

After two weeks, Barry needed to return to Durango to prepare for a mountain bike trip through Arizona (and he missed Shannon), so we drove him to Albuquerque on Sunday, August 21, where Shannon picked him up for the remaining four hour drive back to Durango.

Rather than immediately return home, Bruce and I meandered through Northern New Mexico. We spent a night in Santa Fe, a night in Taos, and took an indirect route home through Northeastern New Mexico. Bruce took me to Philmont Scout Ranch where he spent many summers as a Boy Scout. It is beautiful and I'd like to visit again. We stayed in an old hotel in Cimarron, NM called the St. James, where we found excellent food and tales of the gunslingers who stayed in the hotel while in the area robbing trains and banks. A fair number of them shot up the bar at the St. James while killing each other.

Adobe walls outside our room at La Posada.

St. Francis Cathedral, Santa Fe

Sculpture at La Posada.

Garden at La Posada.

El Santuario del Chimayo.

Crosses on tree at El Santuario del Chimayo.

Cimarron River.

Palisades at Cimarron River State Park, NM.

Bruce taking photos at Cimarron River.

Sunrise over Philmont Scout Ranch, NM.
We visited the Capulin National Monument, a dormant volcano, which has spectacular views from the top.

By Thursday, August 25, we decided that we'd go home. You know the feeling, you know your own bed will feel wonderful, but it's hard to say goodbye. Glad to be home!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Big CQ Countdown -- Block 2

I had fun doing this block ... well, I always have fun embellishing blocks. Unfortunately, my iPhone camera didn't do a great job on the colors. The oranges are brighter, and the blue area behind the big yellow flower is actually purple. I'll be leaving Durango for home tomorrow and I'll use my better camera to photo the rest of the blocks.

10" block, muslin backing, silk, taffeta, velvet, cottons.
Thank you, Betty Pillsbury, for the
paisley class.
White sequin flowers, pink stop beads,
green wool stem stitch vine
On a different note, I've enjoyed spending the last month with my aunt, who continually amazes me with her energy, generosity, creativity, and intelligence. We have enjoyed talking about old family stories and current politics. We've eaten healthy foods, and enjoyed a 5pm beer every day. When we followed the beer with wine at dinner we called ourselves drunken sluts and laughed like maniacs. She is only 12 years older than I am and we have become more like sisters than aunt/niece. She has an adorable dog, Muffin, who makes us laugh every day with her persistent attempts to finagle food. (She is very well fed, but not allowed to eat all day long, as she seems to want to do.)

 Muffin, 2011

I am not looking forward to returning home as the temp in my hometown, Norman, Oklahoma, today is 108F, with a predicted high of 110F. Durango is very cool at night (50's and 60's) and usually in the 80's in the daytime. I hope I don't melt in the driveway when I get home and get out of the car. I feel so fortunate to have air conditioning. How did our foremothers survive weather like that?

While I'll be sad to leave, I miss my husband and my little dog, Abby, (at left) who has probably forgotten me. 

Wish me a safe journey -- it's a 12 - 13 hour drive from Durango to Norman. My son is riding back with me, and this will be the first time we've been alone together for that many hours since he was a little boy. He spent 3 months in Chile earlier this year, and he just spent a week in California. The purpose of the California trip was to take his girlfriend to see Stevie Wonder in concert. I am hoping for lots of good travel stories.

Safe journeys to you and yours, 
wherever you may be on the planet