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!

The back yard

My back yard is on the side of a hill, so there’s really not much that could be done with it.   But I do enjoy the wildlife in the area.


You can see how much his antlers have grown since the last picture.

I also have hummingbird feeders.   Earlier this year is was a crime

scene after it was vandalized.  I suspected the bear or the squirrels,

until I got this evidence.


I get two kinds of hummingbirds, rufous and





ruby throated.   The rufous are quite aggressive and regard the feeder as their own personal property.  They are always ready to defend it, that’s probably why the raccoons had to wait until a dark night to raid it.

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.


This is some sort of wildflower.


This is oregano that seeded inself into the lawn.


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


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.


What is fair without monkeys?


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).


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).



And beer and rides.




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


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


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.


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.



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.




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.