My yard

Part of the appeal of my house was that it had a large lot with just a small amount of lawn.   At our previous house it took an hour to mow and lots of watering to keep the yard looking nice.   After the last big drought, my husband ripped out the water hungry blue grass and planted buffalo grass, which only grows about 5 inches tall.   Some of the taller grass re-seeded itself, but I decided to leave it and have a meadow instead of a lawn.   (It will stay a meadow until the city forces me to mow).   My husband was a German, so he liked things to be orderly, but I love the way the meadow looks.

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This is some sort of wildflower.

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This is oregano that seeded inself into the lawn.

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These escaped from the flower bed.  The bare space by the house is where I had to remove the juniper because of fire mitigation.

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A weed.  Maybe it will stay and maybe it will go.

County Fair

I would be willing to guess that agricultural fairs are the same the world over.   I was struck by the need to attend our county fair on the last day, so off I went.   It’s about 35 miles west of town, out on the plains.   A big rainstorm had just come through so it was muddy, but the temperature had cooled off, so it was quite pleasant to stroll around.   The main point of the fair these days is to encourage young people about farming, so here is a girl and her goat.

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What is fair without monkeys?

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The monkey was infinitely more talented than the Western gunfighter act that I saw several years ago.  And he was apparently in the movie ‘Rock of Ages” with Tom Cruise.   (You can tell them apart because the monkey is shorter).

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Of course there is fairground food.  (A corn dog is a hot dog on a stick, dipped in a cornmeal batter and deep fried to deliciousness).

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And beer and rides.

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Quilts.  But there weren’t too many of these.  I have entered once, but I didn’t get a ribbon, so I stopped.

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Here’s a picture from the fair in 1916.  It looks like the big event was a baseball game.

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The big events for participants is the prize winning animals.  I did not stay for the final event, a demolition derby.  (Guys drive old cars around in an arena, crashing into each other until only one car is still able to drive.)  I’m pretty sure British fairs are similar.   Our state fair is coming up next month with more of the same only on a bigger scale.

Hand-y

After years of faithful service, my right hand decided to retire.  Okay, it didn’t really formally retire, it decided to plague me with carpal tunnel.  This meant that at random times, it would get numb and/or have flaming pain.   So when I went to my new hand doctor (the old doctor had the nerve to retire!) he said surgery was the answer.   After getting permission from my insurance, a week later he operated.

The first impediment is me.  I don’t want the standard anesthesia Versed which leaves you walking and talking with no idea what you are saying.  So we compromised with a nerve block and a local anesthetic.   While the hand guy is operating,  me and the anethesiologist had an nice discussion on the history of surgery and anesthesia.  It was quickly done, they loaded me up with pain killers and sent me on my way.

It was my other hand that had been left out of the discussion.  I hate to admit it, but my left hand is rather stupid.  It does not know how to do the simplest things.  I never thought that picking up a fork and shovelling food in could be a challenge.  The right hand shows it how to do something, then the left hand gives it a go, for at least the next ten days.

New art

I think that it is fairly obvious at this point that I am not much of a writer.  I tend to write short, choppy sentences and to be rather terse.  But, I did go to this blogging course and I feel that I owe it to my fellow students to at least try.  I also confess that I just wanted to meet the brilliant teacher of the course, I had no idea that I would actually have to write anything.  And that it would be personal.

Instead of writing I express myself in fabric.  Many of the pieces I have made over the years are fairly conventional, the art is in choosing the fabrics, how they go together.  Sometime things work, and sometimes they don’t, but you don’t know until you try them.  In the course one of the exercises was to write down some words as a starting point.  I have always wanted to do a piece with words, but this was an unfocused idea, I had no idea how to turn it into a reality (and in truth I still don’t).   I made a new list of words and played around with it to make this piece.   I wanted the background to be grey and to have the words in low contrast variagated thread.  It is machine pieced and hand embroidered and quilted.  I used wool batting, which is perhaps too poufy, it has a lot of texture.  I think it is somewhat successful.

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The second piece was a continuation of the idea, but with overlapping instead of concentric words.   This piece was started in a fever and is not very successful.  When I was working on it, the words seemed to be readable, but I used low contrast threads. It’s going to be seen from a distance, so the words disappear.  It is a single piece of fabric for the background, perhaps this is not the best choice either, but I wasn’t sure.  I added the buttons so that the circle would stand out, again I’m not convinced that it was a good idea.  I wanted it to be flatter that the other piece so I used a thin cotton batting  (wadding) that was a bear to quilt through.

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Both pieces are being submitted to a show next week, I’ll find out if the judges like either one, or if there is room for them to hang.  Judging is always very subjective, but it was great to be working on something new.  I have gotten into this particular show many times, but my piece for last year was uninspired and did not make the cut.

Women’s groups

In yesterday’s newspaper the advice columnist (agony aunt) answered a person who did not like the personal nature of conversations among women at work.   She gave some sort of sappy advice, my advice to the complainer would be to go back into their cave!   If you can’t share your life and concerns with your friends, who can you share it with?

I belong to several different groups of women, we come together for different reasons, and each group involves a different amount of sharing.  The Mennonite book group is obviously not made up of wild women, but they have all had a life and offer an interesting and different world view.   The same is true of my sorority and my exercise group.  But my quilting and knitting groups, supposedly the purview of traditional, conventional, staid women is a different matter altogether.

We tell stories about: stupid things that men do, sex, family, health, menopause, etc. and laugh and commiserate.   What we occasionally forget is that it is a public gathering and that sensitive souls could be shocked by the frankness of us old dames.  We also talk about books, movies, art and culture,  food and recipes, and our actual projects.  As far as I can remember we have never discussed the latest fashions, except to laugh at young women who wear them.

However, there are a few rules for me about what kind of women’s groups to belong to.  Any woman’s group with a president and a budget will involve endless, and I do mean endless, discussion of how to spend the money.   At these events I find my self wishing to do anything to escape, including formulating plans to dig an tunnel, pulling the fire alarm, pretend to have a seizure, etc.   There are some poor souls who apparently have no opportunity to express themselves, once they have the floor they will not relinquish it save for an earthquake occuring.   Then there are the know-it-alls, they are to avoided at all cost because they don’t actually listen, it’s all about them.

It is freeing to be able to discuss anything with a group of women, we are not necessarily like-minded, it provides a forum to share our concerns of life in general and our specific experiences of being women.  At least one husband would be murdered if his missus did not have a place to vent.  The groups let us turn trials and tragedies into funny stories about the essential comedy of life.

My favorite mountain

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Today I would like to share my favorite mountain with you.   This picture was taken from my front porch this morning.   In a person that you love, the best quality is that they are unchanging, the essential thing that you love about them stays the same.  Ah, but when you love a mountain, the best quality is that it constantly changes.   One time it is dark and mysterious, sometimes it is snow covered,  it can be ablaze with golden aspens, sometimes it disappears.  It always offers up something new.

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I have heard rumors that it is also quite beautiful as the sunrise breaks over the face of the mountain, with light gradually moving from the peak down to the base, but I am unable to vouch for this as I have never seen it 😉

Fun facts:  It was called Long Mountain by the Arapahoe,  El Capitan by the Spanish and it’s current name was give by an American explorer in 1806.   The elevation at the summit is 14,115 feet above sea level.   Gold was discovered on the back of the mountain in 1893, the same year “America the Beautiful” was written after a trip to the summit.   There is a cog railroad ($36/person) or a road ($12/person) to the top and you can see Kansas.   There is an annual foot race and car race to the top (they do not run at the same time), and fireworks on New Years’ Eve (set off by crazy men who hike to the top).

 

 

Mrs. Havisham

There are situations in one’s life that causes time to stand still.

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l’m not sure if being jilted at the altar is a good reason, it may have been a narrow escape, but I don’t know.

The  Waldo Canyon fire was two summers  ago.   I had taken down all the pictures so the painter (decorator) could paint.  Me and the painter were standing in the living room watching together when the fire crested over the mountain, 3 miles due west.   It was hot and the sunlight through the massive black clouds of smoke turned everything a weird orangish color, like a prelude of hell.   For a while, it was uncertain how far the fire would come.   But the painter kept on painting, the fire got under control after burning down 236 houses, then later in the summer came my bereavement.   I had hung up some of the artwork, but not all of it when time stopped.  These poor pictures have sat, leaning against the wall for the past two years.

 

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So today I decided that they had been there long enough, so finally they are in position up on the wall.

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Perhaps small steps can lead to bigger ones.

 

 

Deer Block

I know that you’re wondering ‘What the heck is a  deer block?’  Is it a place where deer have to live, like a tower block for deer?   Is it something that stops deer?  No, it’s not either one.   It’s a cube of deliciousness that deer love to nibble on.   It has molasses with oats, corn and magical ingredients that is irresistible.   I just cruise down to the nearby feed store (they also sell food for your horse, rabbit, guinea pig, etc.) and get these so that I can have some entertainment.

I do live in the city, but it’s close enough to the mountains that deer will wander through the neighborhood, eating our expensive landscaping.  Unlike my neighbor down the street, I have no expensive landscaping, so I don’t care if they come around (except when they come up on the porch and eat out of my planter box!).

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Apparently, this little fellow did not read the fine print declaring this for deer, because he was waiting for me to put out a new block.   The rabbits like to sneak out in the moonlight and snack on this.   I can see their light fur against the dark earth of the hillside.

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Here is a more typical customer.   I’m not sure who this is, his antlers haven’t grown out enough for me to tell.   He spent a lazy afternoon snacking and having a lie down.  I always enjoy having a visit from one of God’s cattle.

Here’s a picture of his doe.

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How to turn $ thousands into $ hundreds

Stuff, so valuable and desirable  when it belongs to us, becomes massively undesirable when it’s lumped together and sold in a garage (boot) sale.  I had the opportunity to follow someone’s stuff along its’ path from treasure to trash.

The story starts with the untimely death of a young woman.   (Well she was younger than me, so that makes her a young woman.)  She went into hospital, was doing fine and recovering, when she took a turn for the worse and died.   With no descendants or siblings and only a distant elderly mother, our group (actually one kind soul who does not take no for an answer) offered to help clear the house  and that is where it got interesting.   The deceased was a hoarder and her house was packed with giant piles of stuff.  Two stories of things with little pathways through to the important parts, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and laundry (although there was not much evidence that the laundry room was used).  She had never allowed any of her friends to enter, so no one knew what was inside.

I am a lover of mystery fiction, so here was my chance to play detective, to look for hidden secrets.  I got to indulge my general nosiness and score some interesting finds.   When I look at some else’s belongings I wonder why they kept this, why was it important?

I spent 10 hours in her bedroom sorting and cleaning.   I examined everything I touched and it made me rather sad.  There was masses of unworn and unused items, now they would never serve their intended purpose.   It was obvious that she was enthralled with ‘retail therapy’, buying things to make herself happy.  Did she forget that she already had a dozen tweezers, or could she just not be bothered to look for them in the confusion?

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After all, who has not one, but two of these things?  Not to mention 130 brassieres, 100 pairs of shoes and boots, 85 handbags, cupboards full of pots and pans, $400 dollars in loose change and at least one uncashed dividend check.  When she ran out of space in the house, she stored things in bins outdoors, in the garage and at a neighbors.  It took our group of ladies (none of us young) endless hours to sort, clean and haul away (this is where husbands and sons come in handy)  the hoard.

Then came the sale.  Over two days we flogged part of the detritus of her life.  Beautiful things, ordinary things, unusual things (but not the fur-lined handcuffs, I threw those away), all at about 10 cents or less on the dollar.  Lots of stuff sold, but lots was left over.

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It made me sad to know that this too is the probable fate of my beloved stuff: my Godzillas, toys and fabric.  My nephew will have to come here and do this, or perhaps if my group still exists they  will do it for him.

The best part of this exercise is that all the money we raised from this sale goes to charity, so a bit of good will come out of all of this.  The 130 brassieres were sold to the art department at a local college and they will be part of an uplifting (did I really say this?) art exhibit.

Imaginary Journeys

The very best kind of travel is through the mind’s eye.   None of the tedium of packing and getting ready.   Making long lists of things to do: stop the newspaper, empty the fridge, arrange for the dog, etc.  None of the inconvenience of being treated like cattle to be moved, or sardines to be tinned.  So today courtesy of Mr. A, I went on an imaginary trip to Santa Fe and it was quite lovely.   I was at my health club when we got on our stationary bikes and took an imaginary trip down to Santa Fe by watching a video of street scenes as we biked along listening to a great musical soundtrack.

I have been to Santa Fe many times, when I was in college it was a special treat to go to Santa Fe and eat dinner at La Fonda.  The plaza was a real center of the town, with a hardware store, Woolworths, a department store that sold fiesta dresses and the Museum of the Palace of Govenors from the Spanish colonial days with Native American vendors in front of it.   Now the stores cater to tourists, with restaurants, trinkets and art.

It was fun to be on this imaginary trip, we went by the corner of the La Fonda, and I saw that the old post office is now a museum of Indian art.   I kept wishing that the camera had turned more side to side, I was greedy for more.  But, it was still a fun trip if a little short, so I had a shower then went on with my day.sf9

This is sunset from the rooftop bar of the La Fonda.