Art Workshop

I had a chance this week to take a class with fabulous quilter Jane Sassaman.  I’ve admired her work for a long time, she has a strong graphic sensibility, and she likes bold color.  I decided to do this at the last minute because I wasn’t sure how she would be as a teacher.  I needn’t have worried, she was wonderful.



This wasn’t a sewing class with a pattern provided, it was a design class.  So we brought in images that we liked on the first day and had a discussion of selecting shapes to abstract into our images.  The next day we worked on developing the shapes into a quilt.   I wasn’t quite ready to commit to an idea, so I brought in some quilts that I’ve made over the years and we looked at the images that connect them.   She was complimentary about my most recent piece about words and said I should continue on with this series.

The trouble with doing something in a workshop is that you never have the right stuff, especially if you change your mind.   I started with a giant box of solid color fabrics, and decided that this was not the way I wanted to go.    I had used the image of sky birds in a two older pieces, so I went back to this idea.    It’s just another ufo (un-finished object) at this point, but I’m excited about continuing to work on this.


Maybe it will look something like this, maybe not.


I just wanted everyone to know that my dentist is still recovering from his accident.  I went by to see him on Sunday, and he is now able to use a walker (zimmer frame in British?)to get around.   He still has some stiffness and pain in the broken arm, but he can use it.  He expects to be in the rehab hospital for another month, then he plans to spend a month at home, then he is thinking about returning to work.   Way to go!

Miss P had a setback when she was in the kennel and she broke open a bit of her incision.   This is all healed up now, and I think she has started to like wearing little shirts.   She struts around whenever we go for a walk.pen15


My hand is finally healed as well, I forgot I was injured and as soon as the stitches were out I cracked it open using it.   Oops!

And the mountain today.



Just south

I live in an area that is a mix of rural and urban.   I live in a house with natural landscaping (I only have a tiny lawn, the rest just grows naturally).  There is an open space (area with no houses) nearby, and it connects along the creek to the mountains so the deer can wander through the neighborhood.   The most prominent feature of this open space is called Pulpit Rock.


I took this picture one day when I was out walking Miss Dog.

It’s a rather large rock outcropping, you can see it from the freeway when you’re driving from the north, and it is clearly visible from the south part of town as well.


(Hint:  It’s that white blob in the middle of the picture).

It’s also quite near the local university, and it it popular for students to climb up, which they do often as an alternative to studying.   It’s part of my landscape and I navigate by it.


The neighbors swear that a mountain lion has a den back in this valley, but I have never seen it. (And I hope I don’t.)

August: Mora County


Right before I left for my trip I saw the move “August: Osage County.   It was well reviewed, had plenty of movies stars in it, and, most importantly, there was nothing else on.  This is one of those obviously written plays about a dysfunctional family (is there any other kind?).   I say that it is written dialogue, because drunks and drug addled people seldom come up with anything coherent and cogent to say.   It is hard to come up with a reply to an insane comment,  I tend to think of replies, but I don’t use my out loud voice to say them.

The movie is about two harsh sisters, the wimpy husbands, and the adult children.   Women hold families together, it was impossible to believe that these harridans could do that, these families would have disintegrated years before, so the movie is completely unrealistic.   Then I went to visit my late husband’s relatives.


This is not to imply that they are anything like these characters, but I did look at the family interactions in a new light.   In any small town, there are those who stay and those who leave, and there is a certain tension over the choices that are made, and subtle (or not so subtle) criticisms.


This past weekend was the 104th annual town festival.   The town is about 700 people, it at least doubles with visitors, some people are from there and coming back, some are relatives and a few are actual tourists.   The relative’s house is usually packed with distant cousins and others.   Last year was the first time I had ever been there without M.  This year some of the cousins was absent due to poor health: when we started coming to this we were the young people, now we’re not. 😉

There was an open family snit going on, I heard from all sides about the perfidy of one person who was not there.  There was also a new, father-less great-grandchild and a certain amount of sibling rivalry between the grandchildren that I had never noticed before.


I have always looked forward to going to this place, maybe even more than my husband.  You cross into New Mexico from Colorado over Raton Pass (elevation +7800 feet).   When you come over the pass, you see the beautiful high plains of New Mexico,  which I just love.


As I was driving along I was thinking about the fact that this might be the last time I ever go there.  We remember the first time we do some things quite vividly, the anxiety of the first day of school, the thrill of the first kiss, the adventure of the first big trip.   The last time we ever do a thing is largely unknown to us.   I had a conversation with my late mother about this, she had realized after coming home from visiting my brother that she would probably never be able to travel again, but it was only probable at that point, not final.   So perhaps it wasn’t the last time I will go there.


A goodbye

This weekend we said goodbye to the woman, hoarder, whose house we cleared.  It was amazing to see it cleared, we had all worked so hard to make this happen.


She lived high above the city, safe in her aerie.


She had a tree house, just in case she wanted to be higher.



This was the last forgotten bit, somehow overlooked in the general cleanup.



Her mother had come here to finalize everything, so we had a memorial to celebrate her short life.   Her beloved dog was there too, he seemed happy to be back in his house.   Our group was at this to express our sympathy.  Although I never met her in life, I know many things about her from going through her belongings.  It was melancholy, but still life affirming, her mother mentioned all of the charities that benefited and S gave the dog charity a check for $1000 dollars.   Her mother had printed up beautiful little wallet-sized cards, on one side is her daughter and the other was this.



Dog Days

Dogs are creatures of narrow habits.  Even before my yard was fenced there were trails on the hill where my dog always walked.   A perfect day for my dog is the day where everything is done exactly the same, at the same time of day.   So when we rushed off to the veterinarian without even eating breakfast, she might have suspected that something was up.

She had surgery to remove a cyst on her left side, and while they were in there the vet found two small lipomas ( fatty tumors that dogs get) as well.   I picked her up, got her pills and instruction and we were off for home.  She immediately started to panic when they stuck the cone on her head, so I was driving along telling her what a good girl she was and trying not to have an accident.  The vet had said “It’s okay to take the cone off when you’re supervising her, but don’t go to sleep without making her wear the cone.” “and no stairs”.  No stairs is sort of easy, I live in a three level house, so we would just live on the first level like I did when I broke my ankle.  There’s television and food, what more do I need? (as it turns out, quite a lot).

I blocked off the window seat where she likes to sit and survey the neighborhood.  I put up the baby gate to block the stairs.  And I had various movable bits to block the other rooms.  I pulled up an extra mattress from the basement so I could sleep in the living room.   This did not fall into the dog’s narrow experience of habit.   She stood at the stairs waiting to go to bed and gave me ‘the look”, it’s bedtime and we can’t sleep here!  I slapped the cone on her, then she went into total freak out.   She was hyperventilating and pacing back and forth bumping into everything.  I eventually gave in (I know I’m a soft touch), disobeyed the vets orders and took the cone off.   She got into bed with me (well on mattress anyway) and fell asleep.  I did tell her I would kill her if she touched the stitches, but I wasn’t sure if she believed me.  It was very unfair of the vet to give her pills and not give me any, because at this point I really needed something!

She is healing up and starting to feel better, and she is even getting used to the idea that we can live on the first level.  Only ten more days of this and then it will back to the old way, if she can deal with that change.



My dentist


This is a photo of my dentist.   I asked him if it was okay to write a blog post about him, and he said yes.  He has been my dentist for 30 years, we got started going to him because his daughter worked with my husband.  Over the years I have gotten to know him, his pets, the wildlife around his house (he lives over across the valley on the side of the mountain) and his whole family.

He’s a working-class guy from Pueblo, Colorado.  His father was an Italian immigrant who came to Pueblo to work in the steel mill, back when there was a steel mill.   His father was long gone, but his mother lived to be 100.   My dentist is well past the age when most people retire  (his son the dentist just retired), but he likes his work, and he is really, really good.  When he hit retirement age he got interested in forensic dentistry and learning about new things has kept him going.  He often has stories about cases that he is working on for the coroner, he has done dental identification of corpses, and bite mark analysis in criminal cases.

When I saw him last week I thought to ask him why he became a dentist.   He was studying to be a doctor and working nights at a hospital while he went to school.  He found it too difficult to deal with death, so he switched over to dentistry and as I said he is very good.   The entire time he is working on you he is blathering and telling bad jokes, he must know thousands of them.   Before you know it he’s finished and everything in your mouth is working again.

Unfortunately, he was in a very serious auto accident this week.  He broke his hip, and broke the orbit around one eye.  He’s had one surgery and more are to come.  So now everything will change for him.  I am praying that he recovers, but it will no doubt be a long process.  He’s a good man and I like him and his family a lot.

Old aquaintance


I had a visit from someone that I met in second grade, many long years ago.   The school we attended was a working-class, Catholic school, run by nuns who mostly hated children.  My friend lived across the alley and like me had a bunch of little brothers.   We started out the same, but life has taken us into much different paths.  Until recently my friend said she had not thought much about the past until she reconnected with other girls from this school via Facebook (and my brother was the one who connected me with them).  I did not like to think about this past because it was not very pleasant to dwell upon, but it is impossible to completely escape.  It is possible to contemplate now because it is the past.   We had our futures marked out as children, playing house to prepare us for our lives.  Perhaps working as a secretary, at a bank, or at a factory.   I took a leap into a different future.   It wasn’t easy, but it was the direction I needed to go.

This is my 12th birthday, I’m the one with glasses

Internet friends

The most amazing thing to me about the internet is that we can have connections with people that we would never meet in a million years.  I met you lot in London, people I would have never had occasion to cross paths with.   And it was a wonderful and interesting experience.  Today I met another person that I only knew from the internet, the author of  The Daily Coyote.


This is a blog that I have been reading for a couple of years, my friend found it somehow and we have kept on reading it.  Out of necessity she adopted a baby coyote when he was only 10 days old.  She is a talented photographer and the blog is mostly photos, with stories about Charlie the coyote, her dog Chloe, and the cats Eli and Mushy.  She has another blog about the rest of her farmily (not a mis-spelling): the bull Sir Baby, the cows Daisy, Maia, Fiona, Leila,  and the new punk chickens.

Besides these animals she also raises beef cattle, and that is how I met her.   I bought a 1/4 of one of her beautiful, grass-fed, dry aged Angus beef and we met at a truck stop outside of town to pick this up.  The meat was  in some boxes, cut, wrapped and frozen.  I also got an ankle  and hoof for my friend’s dogs and she was thrilled to get this (Miss P has dental problems, so no bones for her.)

I am so blessed that although I am a shy person, I have been able to meet such interesting people through the magic of the internet.   I have also done art projects with people I have never personally met.

p.s.  I got one of my art pieces accepted into an art show!