Entering a quilt show and laughing about it!

Every year in October our local guild hosts a quilt show. This is fun because it’s a lot more relaxed than the normal shows I enter. For those of you that are interested, here’s a link with more information, including a download for a coupon for $1 off admission:

http://lqgquiltshow.org

I will have an entry this year, I will write a more detailed blog post about it in a day or two because it’s a very special quilt and not something that I have ever done before.

We have some really awesome ladies in the guild, and the ones that are organizing the show this year are at the top of the list. They are doing online entry which I absolutely love, and I thought that it was important to let them know how much I appreciated all the work that they have done to make this quilt show “the best little quilt show in Northern Colorado”. However, I did encounter a snag or two…. and it being Friday afternoon and me being a bit punchy after a stressful workweek, I ended up composing the following email.

Yeah, I know. Once the ball started rolling, I couldn’t stop. The entire situation is rather funny! So, I decided that I’d share the email…. enjoy!

********************* start of email *********************
Hi ladies,

I have attached a pic of the quilt that I just submitted for the show.

THANK YOU for coordinating this, and especially for the online entry process. It is MUCH easier for me, procrastinator extraordinaire, to sit down at my computer and paste in text that I have already typed before, and click a button rather than having to fight with “Her Royal Highness” (my printer who only sometimes deigns to wave a sheet of paper at me)…. and then assuming said paper actually has legible text on it, figure out what exactly I’m supposed to do with it, and when, and OMG now I am going to have to look up somebody’s phone# and house address because I waited too long to mail it…. The word counter function for the description box was especially helpful (I have never seen that in any other online entry submission that I’ve filled out) and I nailed it at exactly 150 words!

I am very experienced with this sort of thing (the entry process, and, well okay, I admit, procrastination as well), and I will tell you that there are quite a few regional and national shows that could learn a lot from you wonderful ladies!

Now, having said all that, I do have one teeeeeeny tiny suggestion…. When I submitted my entry I got the message “Don’t forget to send a picture of your quilt to Dawn Hunter!” But…. no email address was mentioned! Went back and checked the reminder email I received this afternoon (oh yeah, kudos for that as well or I would probably still be procrastinating!) ….. No mention of Dawn’s email address there either….

I am still assuming that emailing the picture is preferable to the alternate methods of (for example) smoke signals or (gasp!!) snail mail and hard copy, so I took it upon myself to try and remember the email address that Dawn recited to us ad nauseam at one of the guild meetings a few months back… I can hear her saying it, I vaguely remember it containing the word “hunter” and I think the first character was a “d”, but alas, that was many margaritas and glasses of wine ago so my poor brain has lost too many cells since the aforementioned meeting.

So I decided to actually see if my replacement brains* could come up with a suggestion for Dawn’s email address. Can you believe it? Six devices** and not one of them has an address book entry for the lovely Dawn Hunter? (Sorry Dawn!)

Last resort…. stored emails. I have a Longmont Quilt Guild folder in Bernadette’s email history (I am MUCH more organized electronically than in the physical realm)… Lo and behold, there is not one, not two, but a whole string of emails from Dawn from a year ago about canceling a LQG workshop exactly 1 year ago due to the floods. But…. Hold on, that email address doesn’t start with a “d” and it must be part of Panera or some other restaurant that has banned “hunter”(s) from entering their premises (at least until they disarm)!!!

So, ladies, you are getting an email copy of the photo because I can’t figure out where else to send it. I have put the email address that I do have for Dawn on cc:, fully expecting that it will bounce. I will attempt to dredge my sodden organic brain for memories of Dawn’s incantations at that dimly remembered guild meeting and put that on the cc: list too. Please forward the attached pic to her, and next year can you please put the email info someplace where people like me (that routinely misplace hardcopy Guild rosters) can easily find it? Thanks a bunch!! ***

And Dawn, if by any chance I was able to recall your long forgotten email address and you DO end up getting my picture after all, please please forgive me… you and I have known each other far too long for me to not have your contact information. I promise, if this does work, the very first thing I’m going to do is add your info to Bernadette’s address list, and the Elephant will also get a copy so that all the other brains except Sheldon can find it next time I need it. (All the other brains will then break out in the Hallelujah Chorus because they will know something that Sheldon has no clue about.)

OOPS. Sorry Dawn, that will be the second thing I do. Jon just got home and he has replenished our supply of cabernet….

And if all else fails, I will just post the pic to Dawn’s Facebook page.

Thanks again!! — Lori

* I have many spare brains, one is a smartphone and two are tablets and one is a laptop…. and most important of all, the home server (I call him the Elephant because he is big, gray and never forgets anything) contains much of the information and images that my poor sodden brain cannot retain. After all, my quilting really is better if accomplished with a glass of cabernet!

** Yes there are six, not five. I didn’t count the desktop that controls my Statler machine because it’s not supposed to be on the Internet. EVER. It does get to talk to one of the tablets occasionally. But I don’t really count it as one of my regular brains because if it can’t communicate its knowledge, what good is it? By the way, it’s called Sheldon and the tablet it talks to is called Amy…. Bernadette is the laptop because she’s little and smart.

*** I realize that I am offering suggestions, and the obvious and sensible response to that is to encourage me to sign up to help out with a future show. I assure you that I totally agree, and I plan to do exactly that as soon as the time-and-a-half-or-more job that pays for my daughter’s college tuition (not to mention my fabric habit) morphs into something a little less stressful and all-consuming. I promise!

********************* (end of email) *********************

After all that, yes, I DID remember to attach the picture to the email. And the address that I guessed for Dawn was right. Bernadette and the Elelphant now have said address etched in electronic stone as of about five minutes ago, and before I have my glass of wine, I’m going to give all you good people a sneak peek of the quilt:

1409708359158

Apologies that this is not a great picture. This quilt does not belong to me; as soon as it was finished I put it up on my design wall (Dow Styrofoam insulation panel covered with flannel) and snapped a quick shot of it before delivering it to its owner. However, it WILL be at the show, hanging properly, with good lighting and I will get a much better shot then. You will enjoy it. I promise.

Posted in Quilting | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life is 20 jars of alcohol-infused cherries

One of my Dad’s stories from when he was in college in the mid 1950’s was that he and a couple of his buddies lived in the basement of a house.  They got a good break on rent because their landlady, who lived upstairs, would serve dinners and banquets in the main level of the house, and would hire her basement renters to serve at the dinners and help clean up afterwards.

Of course, being enterprising young college guys, that same year they also tried their hand at brewing beer.  One day, they were in the middle of serving a nice formal banquet, and all of a sudden they started hearing the crash of breaking glass…. yep, the beer bottles in the basement were exploding!  I don’t remember if he said whether they got evicted, I’m sure the landlady was NOT happy about the noise interrupting the nice banquet, or the mess that ensued!

In the 1970’s when I was growing up, our family spent a week or so around the Fourth of July every year picking cherries.  The lot where my dad’s office building was had a few fruit trees and the landlord agreed that my dad could have the fruit if he took care of the lot, mowed the weeds, sprayed the trees, etc. So we’d pick cherries, apples, pears, take them home, and spend days in front of the kitchen sink washing the fruit, pitting cherries, peeling and slicing apples and pears.  We griped about it, but it was worth it.  Most of the fruit ended up in the freezer and my mom makes THE BEST cherry and apple pies you’ll ever eat!

Fast forward to my adult life, we planted a cherry, apple and plum trees when we moved into this house, and I’ve done my share of picking fruit and freezing it.  One of my very earliest memories is begging for a bite of my dad’s cherry pie.  I don’t think I was even two years old yet.  And I still LOVE cherry pie, cherry Coke, anything cherry that’s slightly tart, slightly sweet.  Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia is the only real ice cream flavor on the planet as far as I’m concerned.  Yes…. ice cream, cherries…. I *am* my father’s daughter!

A few years ago, a quilting friend of mine introduced me to the concept of cherry Bounce.

Now, my dad never, to my knowledge, ever made Bounce.  He loves Cherry Coke as much as I do, and we used to add cherry syrup to Coke because we liked it so much better than the regular Cherry Coke or Cherry Pepsi.  But he never brewed any Bounce; maybe he liked his cherry pie too much to use the cherries for something else.

The basic concept of Bounce is to fill a jar with fruit (including seeds or pits).  Add sugar
to the jar (1 cup per quart), and then add your liquor of choice (I like brandy, we’ve also
used gin, vodka, and Southern Comfort with good success).  Seal the jar, and after a week, turn it upside down (that’s the “bounce”).  Repeat every week until the sugar is all dissolved, then it’s all been converted to alcohol and the liquid is ready to drink and can be drained off.

Obviously, you have to be over 21 to do this…. :-)

I like to save the cherries, pit them, cook ‘em up and thicken them, and serve them over ice
cream (that way the kiddos can have some too).

For the past few years I’ve made cherry bounce from the “pie cherries” on our tree, we’ve enjoyed drinking it and my eldest son has inherited the cherry loving gene.  However, my poor cherry tree is over 25 years old and hasn’t put out many cherries lately….

So this year I decided I’d go all out and order cherries from a local fruit stand.  I found out
that the “pie cherries” I like are the Montmorency varietal.  The fruit stand sells them by the bucketful, and, you can order them unpitted (for brewing) or pitted (for pies).

Imagine that.  I don’t have to worry about the birds getting the cherries, I don’t have to pick them and thus donate to the mosquito blood bank every day for a week, and, best of all, I don’t have to stand in front of my kitchen sink washing and pitting them for hours at a time and then wondering how the heck I’m going to get the cherry juice stains out of my favorite Star Trek T-shirt!

I ordered a 27 pound bucket of pitted cherries, those ended up in eighteen 1-quart containers in our deep freeze.  That’s about a pie every 3 weeks or so until next year.  Yeah, that’s about right…..

I also ordered three buckets of unpitted cherries for making Bounce, figuring I’d get Christmas all taken care of.  I quickly realized that my son hasn’t returned all of the quart jars that I’d delivered the previous years’ brews in, so I ended up getting some half gallon Mason jars.  And, that’s where the fun begins….

I filled twenty half-gallon jars with cherries, then started adding sugar.  I asked Jon to go
get sugar, he brought home a ten pound bag.  I used all that, and went out and bought another ten pound bag which also got used up.  At that point, Jon complained because there was no sugar in the house for his coffee!  Back to the store…. We’re now halfway through a fifteen pound bag of sugar, but I think that (finally) we’re good for a while!

My liquor of choice is brandy so that’s what I put in most of the jars.  Ran out of that, so I bought another jar of brandy, and a bottle of Southern Comfort because that’s what the lady at the fruit stand got drunk on with cherry Bounce last New Year’s (she said it was really good but really wicked)…

I’m out of brandy and out of Southern Comfort but at least all my cherries are finally bathing nicely.  Here’s one of the half gallon jars just after I sealed it up:
2014-07-30 22.53.19
So, I got my twenty jars all stored in cardboard flats on the floor of my pantry.  A couple of
days later, I heard a couple of “pings” from that general corner of the kitchen…. YES!  We
have fermentation, the lids are popping, life is good!

A couple of hours later, I heard a POP! and then a HISS…. uh oh.  I looked down at the
bottom of the pantry and saw that the cardboard flats were completely sodden with red syrupy goo.  There was so much fermentation that the lids on those Mason jars had completely distorted, the rings around them couldn’t hold the seal and the liquid was oozing out.  And, not only was the mess covering the pantry floor, when I carried those jars, two at a time, across the kitchen to the counter, they dripped all the way.  Even the bottoms of my Crocs were no longer blue…

I spent the next three hours opening all the jars, bleeding off some of the extra liquid, and
sealing them back up with new lids.  Of course I saved all the extra liquid, it’s got alcohol
and sugar and will ferment up just fine!  I emptied all the quilting fabric out of a couple of
large Rubbermaid containers and put the jars in them before putting everything back in the pantry (see below), just in case we have more leaks.  The two large green jars in the top container have the extra liquid that I saved.

2014-07-30 15.34.17
The good news?  My kitchen floor is now cleaner than it’s been in months.  And, although I am my father’s daughter, at least I didn’t have to deal with exploding bottles!

And, a week later, here’s an update.  It was time to “bounce” the jars.  I did have a few more leaks so I took everything out again and cleaned up the plastic bins.  Here’s a picture of all the jars upside down on my kitchen counter, you can see the sugar in the bottom of the jars.  The jars on the left that are right side up contain more of the liquid that I removed from the leaky jars.

2014-08-03 11.35.10

Yes, Dad, the King genes are alive and well!

Now I have to figure out what quilts to make from all the fabric that I emptied out of those Rubbermaid bins…..

Posted in Family, Food, Other hobbies | Tagged , | 1 Comment

The omen

That phone call I mentioned last week? It may come sooner rather than later.  I just had a review with my boss.  In the middle of 2013 I was assigned to a project for which I did not have the skills and expertise.  Even though I went through a lot of effort to get the skills I need to do this job, I basically have been evaluated to being the lowest…. THE LOWEST…. contributor in the department for the ENTIRE YEAR. Relative to my peers, I am the person that makes the smallest, tiniest, least valuable contribution. LEAST.

I am expendable.

The stuff I did for the first half of 2013?  Busting my butt as the subject matter expert for our application’s users world wide? Doing what it took to make sure our application ran reliably and dependably?  All the all-nighters and weekends?  That meant NOTHING.  The fact that I spent the last half of 2013 taking classes (formal and informal), boning up on stuff as much as I could, to try and get out of this hole that was basically a setup for events that are happening and will happen in 2014?  Total waste of time and energy.

I now have the skills to do that job that they assigned me to do, but it also requires tribal knowledge that I do NOT have, and that is not documented anywhere.  The “team” members that I work with are so swamped that they don’t have time to field my questions or write anything down.  So, I basically told my boss, “Giving me a bad review and thus setting in motion the events that will lead to me being forced out of this company is not going to fix the problem.  And you have a REAL PROBLEM.  You have a team that has too much work and not enough people to do it.  And until you can fix the knowledge transfer problem, you can keep hiring new people and then later you’ll be firing them because they aren’t contributing, over and over, for forever and a day, because they won’t be able to do any better at this job than I’ve been able to do.”

Not that he has any say.  This is an edict that has come from waaaaay up high and he’s just doing what he’s been told to do.  If he doesn’t do it, well, fine, HE will get fired and they’ll find somebody else to do it in his place.

The fact that I’ve been a consistent top performer for YEARS?  Don’t they (“they” being the higher-ups in this company) even wonder how a top performer could go from the top to the bottom in six months?  And how the root cause of this extreme failure might not even have anything to do with that individual?

I am insulted. I feel angry.  INTIMIDATED. Depressed.  Mortified.  TOTALLY WORTHLESS.  Hysterical.  Annoyed.  Anxious.  Confused.  Disappointed.  And really.  Really.  REALLY, REALLY, *****REEEEEAAAALLLLLLYYYYY PISSSSSSSED OFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF.

I should note that I’m not the first.  We had a contract employee on our team that was “let go” a couple of months ago.  For the same exact reason.

I keep asking myself… Is there anything else I could have done to avoid this? The answer?  Probably, but I certainly don’t know what it would be and nobody else took it upon themselves to tell me.

So now I have to figure out what the next step is.  I haven’t been fired… yet.  It’s pretty likely that it will happen, and that it will happen by the end of March.  It’s really tempting to just coast until then. Except that’s not how I roll, I can’t just not do my best; as stressful as this situation is, that would just compound the stress and magnify the loss of self-worth.  And, if there is an outside chance that I do avoid the big RA bullet, I have to be able to somehow continue to justify my existence after March.

I’m certainly not the first person this has happened to.  However, this is just one more link in the chain of events over the past few years that has continued to beat down my spirit.

Did I mention that I am really, really, REALLY PISSED OFF?

Posted in Engineering/programming, General | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A word…

I’m friends with a lot of other quilt artists on Facebook. A lot of them are picking a word for this new year… a word to inspire them in their journeys as artists. I’ve read through a few of their blogs, and it got me thinking about what word I would choose.

I anticipate that 2014 is going to be a volatile year for me and my family. At the moment I have one child that is unemployed, one that is employed but recently parted ways with his girlfriend of several years, and a third that is about to graduate from high school and start finding her own way in life. I’m very proud of all three of them, they have grown into responsible, caring, wonderful people… as a result, when they go through struggles and the ups and downs of life, I feel at least a bit of the emotional upheavals with them. My husband is frustrated with his job, so there may be changes there as well…

As for me….. Many of you know of my long-time employment with a major international corporation. That situation has had its ups and downs for many years, and my fellow employees and I are very familiar with the feeling of not knowing from one week to the next whether we’ll have a job next month, or even next week. After years of this (and a lot of therapy!!), I’ve come to the point (I think) of just living one day at a time… I’ll do the best I can, TODAY, and not worry about tomorrow…. because with this company, even though I put forth my best efforts, every day, time and again, I know in the end it won’t be enough. I’ve watched too many other people (coworkers that I really admired and looked up to) get released just because they happened to have the wrong job at the wrong time in the wrong organization.

Some of you might ask why I don’t leave and go somewhere else. Well, for one thing, there are a lot of people out there that HAVE left (voluntarily or not) and not many of them have found jobs in this economy, at least not in similar fields with comparable pay. Also, a few years ago, I got put on a project that was the BEST project I’ve ever been involved with in this company. The team of people that we had was incredible…. everybody had a common goal, we all believed in what we were doing, we had incredible leadership within our little team, and it was FUN to log in to work every day. In spite of the overall uncertainties, I would not have given up that experience for a second. Everybody should have a chance to work in a team environment like we had. (Those of you on that team that are reading this, THANK YOU for all your hard work, dedication, teamwork, sense of humor, etc.! I consider you more than coworkers… I consider all of you as very good friends.)

In the middle of last year, there were budget constraints for our project, so I was reassigned to a different project. New opportunities, new frustrations, and a whole lot of new experiences. I’m not sure at this point how it’s all going to work out. For one thing, the company has some financial goals to be met by 2015. So, I’ve got to anticipate that 2014 will be the year that I get the phone call from my boss where he tells me that I’m on the list of people for the next cutback.

I’m back in the mode of just doing the best I can and taking one day at a time. At least, where my corporate career is concerned. Yes, I’m trying my best to keep that feeling that I had on the previous project. However, I do need to figure out what I’m going to do with myself if and when I do get that phone call.

Therefore, my word for 2014 is PLAN.

Plan for the day when I get the phone call. Will I be joyful? Relieved? Pissed off? (Probably a bit of all 3, especially #3.)

Plan for what I will do next. Will I try to find another position in the tech community? Or will I take the leap and start quilting full time?

Plan for the next quilting endeavor… The paisley quilt has been on the circuit for a year now. It still is traveling to various shows (Phoenix in early February so far), but I do need to get another one finished. I’m not as prolific as some artists because I do have the corporate job… if that goes away, how much time can I realistically spend on a competition quilt versus doing something else to earn a salary?

I do want to quilt full time as a business some day. It makes sense for me to keep the corporate job for as long as I can (golden handcuffs), but in the meantime I can PLAN for how I will make the transition.

I did take some time off over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays; not as much time as usual since I used an extra couple weeks of vacation to take the British Isles trip earlier in 2013. In November, I completed a small wall hanging using the same shadow trapunto technique that I had used for an earlier competition quilt. This one is called “Fiesta on a Cloud”.

Fiesta on a Cloud

The colored shapes are based on a block from a pattern called “Fiesta Talavera” by J. Michelle Watts.  The quilt is about 20″ square.

I also quilted a quilt for a friend on my Statler. I’ll show some pictures of this one in a future post.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Posted in Engineering/programming, Family, General, Quilting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My fifteen minutes

I finished a quilt, “A Pocket Full of Paisleys”, very early in January of this year.  This was my most ambitious effort to date.  I started with an idea back in the summer of 2010, and ended up with something that was quite a bit different from my earliest vision.  And, had I known that it would take more than two years to complete, I don’t know if I would have started it…  but there you go.

I entered the paisley quilt in Road to California, which meant I had to have it somewhat completed by the October 1 deadline in order to send in photographs with my entry.  It also was photographed for a spread in Quilter’s Newsletter, even though it wasn’t technically finished.  I spent the months of November and December quilting every waking moment, and I swear I probably spent a lot of sleep hours quilting too.  After the quilting was done, I applied several thousand hot fix crystals to the quilt….. and burned my fingers plenty of times in the process.

All the work was worth it, the quilt went to Road to California in January and won the award for computerized embroidery.  I sent it to several other shows this year, where it’s done pretty well; it’s paid for itself and all the shipping and entry fees, and has contributed to the payments on my Bernina 830 LE.

Just after the Road to California show, I was contacted by Kit Robinson from Meander Publishing, she wanted to know if the paisley quilt had been published anywhere.  I explained to her that it was included in an article in an issue of Quilter’s Newsletter that was coming out later in 2013.  She then said that they wanted to feature something that hadn’t been published before.  Oh, well.

Well, after a couple of weeks, Kit contacted me again, and said she couldn’t stop thinking about the paisley quilt.  She asked me to verify that it would not be on the cover of QNM, and then she sent me a contract and other information about what they needed for the article.  The article was due in July, and the plan was to have it published in the November 2013 issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited.  Great plan, I’m thinking….  I plan to enter the quilt in Houston, which is at the end of October which is just when the magazine will come out!

In spite of being out of the country for a couple of weeks in June, I did get the article done and in on time.  However, Kit contacted me in late August and asked for some photos of the process of making the quilt.  I had these in spades, I probably had taken several hundred photos while I was stitching out the embroidery pieces alone!  So, I gave her all of that, more photos and more words.  At this point I’m thanking Phyllis Miller, my high school English teacher, who helped me become very comfortable with writing!

A couple of weeks ago, Kit contacted me again.  This time she sent me something:

201311 Machine Quilting Unlimited cover

Yep!  It’s on the cover!

The November/December issue will come out in late October and can be ordered from the Meander Publishing website:  http://mqumag.com/shop/

Many quilt stores also carry this magazine, and I’ve also seen it on the magazine racks in stores like Barnes & Noble.

The quilt is currently in Houston and will be displayed in late October at Market and Festival.  For more information, go to http://www.quilts.com/home/shows/index.php

I will be at Festival and am taking classes while I’m there, but will try to stop by the Meander Publishing booth whenever I can. I’ll bring my Sharpie!

Posted in Quilting, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

The 2013 Colorado Epic Flood

Colorado is typically a very VERY dry place.  We get intense heat in the summertime, we get the occasional sprinkle which soaks into the ground and dries up before you even knew it rained.  In the wintertime we get sub freezing temperatures for days on end.  It snows but the snow doesn’t melt, it evaporates before the temperature rises above 32 degrees.  Once in a while we get a BIG snowstorm that the whole country knows about because the Denver airport is a major hub and it messes up air travel for everyone.  If we’re lucky, we’ll get a snowstorm in the spring where the snow is actually wet enough that it will stick together and then, only then, can you make a snowman or a fort.

This week we’ve experienced what the experts are calling a 500-year event.  I haven’t watched the news yet today but yesterday they were saying that Boulder (just 10 miles down the road) got over twelve inches of rain….. and one of the local weather people said that if it was wintertime and this precipitation had been snow, it would have been twelve FEET of snow.

We’re not used to this.  I can count on one hand the times when I was a kid that we got to go out and play in the rain.  (Yes, you people that live in more moist climates, when it rains here, we go play in it!)  I vaguely remember the flooding of 1965, but I was only four years old so it didn’t make a huge impact on me.  In 1976 there was the Big Thompson flood which killed 144 people.  I was a teenager, we lived out on the plains where even the creeks are few and far between, but we’d just picked up my sister from church camp in the mountains not far from the disaster.  If the timing had been just a little different, that flood could have had a direct impact on our family.

So last weekend, when it was in the upper 90’s and we were hearing that we were going to have cooler weather (70’s?  YESSSSS!) we were ecstatic.  Never did we think that this cooler weather was going to be accompanied by rainstorms of epic proportions.  Calling off school in September?  Because of rain?  For TWO DAYS?  Really?

Those of you that follow me on Facebook may remember me posting something on Monday about forgetting to close my sunroof.  Yes, I was working in the basement, I heard the thunder but it just didn’t compute.  It never rains enough here for me to have to think about stuff like that.  I finally went upstairs, looked out onto the driveway, it’s POURING….. “Oh, holy crap. I left the sunroof open to keep the car cool!”  Yep…. the console cubbyholes were filled with water and the blanket on the floor in the back seat was damp.  The car will survive (it’s actually cleaner than it’s been in a while!) and I rescued all the wet stuff.  But, even then, it did not occur to me that we were going to have SO.  MUCH.  WATER.

Luckily, our house is on top of a hill.  We’re more at risk of flood damage from a plumbing problem than a downpour problem.  Years ago we dug out the window wells so that any water accumulating there would get properly routed around the foundation instead of into the basement.  The roof is 27 years old and we’re watching it pretty carefully, but so far we haven’t discovered any leaks.  Yes, we’ve been very, very lucky.

Jon wasn’t able to get to work in Boulder yesterday because we live north of the St. Vrain River and there was no way for him to cross it to drive southwest to Boulder.  He and I went out in the big green truck to see some of the flooding.  I took the camera, the battery died in the middle of it all, but I did get a few pictures. We didn’t venture out very far, just along one highway (Colorado Highway 119) that comes into town from the interstate.  We heard later that this road was closed.

Here’s a map of the St. Vrain Greenway trails, the pictures were taken along the north side of Highway 119 between 119th (west of the junction of 3rd Ave. and Highway 119) and Emery Street (a block east of Main Street).  You can see the “normal” path of the St. Vrain River and Left Hand Creek in this view:

http://www.everytrail.com/guide/st-vrain-greenway/map

You can click on any of these photos below to see a bigger view.

Just west of 119th Street (north side of highway 119):

DSC_0312 DSC_0315 DSC_0318

The bridge over Left Hand Creek looking north, and flooding of the St. Vrain south of the waste water treatment plant:

DSC_0319 DSC_0320

The roundabout on Martin Street just north of Highway 119 (Ken Pratt Blvd.):

DSC_0325 DSC_0328

Harvest Junction shopping center (north side), between Martin and Emery.  If the entrance to the parking lot hadn’t been blocked off, we’d have driven in there to do some major puddle splashing!

DSC_0331 DSC_0332

Looking north from the stoplight at Emery and Ken Pratt:

DSC_0335

Somehow, looking at still pictures just doesn’t show the whole story.  Someone published a video on YouTube that makes it even more real (for my internet-phobic friends, you can click on the square in the lower right corner to make it full size, and click in the same corner to reduce it again.  To make it play, click on the button in the middle of the picture, or on the triangle in the lower left corner):

I’ve watched videos like this before when flooding events have happened elsewhere in the country, and thought to myself, Wow.  That’s a lot, lot, LOT of water.  But somehow, it’s different when you watch something like this and say to yourself, “Hey!  I know exactly where that is!” or “Oh, my goodness…. I just drove through there a couple of days ago!”

The local news stations were broadcasting images nonstop yesterday.  In Aurora, a reporter found a young woman who had just bought a kayak off of Craigslist a couple of weeks ago.  The woman was kayaking all over the place and having a ball…. she’d just had her first whitewater experience on “Peoria River” of all places! Entire parks are filled with water and have become lakes.

It’s going to take a long time to recover from this.  There are so many roads and bridges that have been washed away, so many homes that have been evacuated.  My family and I have been very very lucky, and now it’s up to us to help our friends and neighbors that haven’t been as fortunate.  Here are a couple of links:

http://www.redcross.org/co/denver/about-us/locations

http://www.unitedwayfoothills.org/floodrelief

Posted in Family, General, Photography | Leave a comment

A little quilt for a friend

When I started considering my trip to the United Kingdom, I contacted my friend Elise in France.  She and I had worked together for several years (via conference calls) but had never met in person.  We decided to meet up in London, and I decided to give her a little gift.  The weekend before we left, I grabbed a fat quarter of leftover hand dyed fabric, and stitched out a bunch of the designs that I had digitized for my “Pocket Full of Paisleys” quilt:

IMG_3104

It was fun to stitch these out in more than just one color!  It took a day to stitch them out, and another day to do the quilting.

At some point during this whole process I was thinking about Elise and I discussing how she and some of her friends were having a girls’ weekend at the beach and they were going to drink real champagne, and I had asked her if she’d ever had a mimosa.  To me, these embroidered flowers look sort of like cross sections of citrus fruits, especially in these colors…. so, I quilted “bubbles” coming up from the garden and embellished them with leftover bling that I used on the flowers. Hence, the name of this quilt is “Mimosa”.

For the rest of the quilting I decided to mimic the PFOP quilt by having a “light source” in the upper left corner (that term was used by a judge at one of the shows that I sent PFOP to).  I divided up the space in the background with flowing rays coming out from the corner design, and then used different background techniques between each set of rays.

I attached the binding just prior to leaving on the trip, and whenever we had a long coach ride, I’d pull out the quilt and do the hand sewing on the back.  It was quite a conversation starter!  The timing worked out really well since our stop in London was towards the end of the tour (and therefore I had plenty of time to finish).

Here’s a picture of me and Elise next to the castle at the Tower of London:

P1010956Diana took this photo with Elise’s camera and Elise eventually sent it to me.  I hadn’t realized until then that I had a turquoise jacket and a red shirt, and Elise had a red jacket and a turquoise shirt…. LOL great minds!  The tall building in the background is called “The Shard”.

Posted in Music, Quilting, Travel | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Finally. A quilting post! 2012 small group exchange

Things have somewhat settled down since we returned from our Ireland/Scotland/England trip.  I say that somewhat tongue in cheek because starting a new assignment at work is not exactly business as usual….  And, this week a friend had a family emergency so I’ve been helping out with the logistics of that too.  However, “back to normal” does mean getting back to quilting.

I haven’t exactly gotten BACK to quilting but at least I’m thinking about it.  Almost every year my small group does some sort of exchange or challenge.  In 2012, we each picked a focus fabric, and made a block using that fabric.  We then passed the block and a yard of the focus fabric on to the next person.  Most of us had some sort of guideline or rule… for example, size of block, types/colors of coordinating fabrics to use, etc.  The fabric I picked was from Northcott, the “All Tied Up” line by Dawn Spencer:

NCTIEDBR

This was a little different than the “blue/turquoise/green/purple” rut that I’m usually in.  For some reason, last year I was in a “let’s push that envelope” kind of mood; I wanted to get out of my comfort zone a little. 

I came up with a block and sewed it up, and then passed that block and a yard of the above fabric on to the rest of the group.  For my quilt, the only “rules” were that each person had to use a recognizable amount of the fabric and their contribution had to be a 12-inch finished block.  Here’s the block I came up with; it’s from one of the Quiltmaker 100 block collections:

2012-01-15_13-39-40_397Once we made our initial block, we would put it and the yard of focus fabric in a bag, and pass the bag on to the next person on the list, and then each month we would work on a block to add to somebody else’s bag.  At the end of the year, each bag would go back to the person that started that particular project, and the bag would contain a block from every other person in the group.  We had eleven participants so that’s how many blocks we each ended up with, but we didn’t get to see ANY of the other blocks in our bag until the end of the year. 

At our December meeting we had the big unveiling, where we each finally got to see what everyone else had added to our quilt during the course of the year.  These ladies are awesome quilters…. they are somewhat intimidated because I’m not afraid to try complex designs, and I’ve entered my quilts in shows…..  But, they really came through!  Here are the blocks that I got back in December (my initial block is on the upper left):

2012-12-05_12-18-09_707Isn’t this fantastic?  And, you know what?  EVERYBODY got back a set of blocks that were really AWESOME!  The really cool thing is that one lady had this … excuse me… really BUTT-UGLY fabric.  I had no idea what I was going to do when it was my turn to add a block.  And you know what?  Out of all eleven projects, the collection of blocks that lady ended up with was my favorite!  The really cool thing about an exchange like this is that you are really pushed out of your comfort zone, you have to work with colors and styles that you would never consider.  I can now say that I really like yellow and gray…. and I used to HATE yellow!

Our local quilt guild has a show every October, so our little group decided that each of us needs to finish our 2012 project into a quilt and enter it into the show.  So, now that I’m done gallivanting around, I need to figure out how to set these blocks and get the top pieced and quilted by mid October…..  Holy crap.  That’s only three months away!

I have a few ideas.  In my initial block I used some color gradations (dark to light blues, greens, browns and oranges) and I set aside that group of fabrics with the intent of using them in the final quilt.  I need to figure out how to set the blocks, and what (if anything) I can do with sashing.  And, I need to get this all done in the next few weeks so that I can have enough time to get the top quilted in time for the show in October.

Ummm…. I guess I’d better sleep now while I still have the chance!

Posted in Quilting, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Trip of a lifetime!

A few weeks ago, my teenage daughter Diana and I took the trip of a lifetime, to Ireland/Scotland/England, on a tour with several other members of our city’s chorale.  We were gone for two weeks, stayed in five different cities, and presented six concerts (plus provided the music at a Sunday morning church service).  I had been to Ireland before, but it had been nearly 30 years in the past and my perspective with this trip was much different than before.

Our group was roughly 60 people, 35 of whom were in the musical group (the rest were friends and relatives that came along for the ride and became our “groupies”).   The singing we did was fantastic; all our concerts were in old churches, from the little stone church in Kells, Ireland to the St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland…  All different venues but fantastic sound everywhere we went!

One of the groupies has posted videos of one of our concerts on YouTube here:  http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7GExEaU4MJUCdsv4rlNtbg/videos  (My favorite of all the songs is “The Ground”.  Also, listen to the “River in Judea” rehearsal at St. Andrews in Holborn; at the end you can hear how “live” the room was.)

Aside from the concerts, we also got to do plenty of sight seeing.  I am sure glad I have a decent digital camera, I could NOT afford film, much less developing, for all the pictures I took!  Here are just a few.

Dublin:  St. Patrick’s Cathedral, harp in the Trinity Library, our accompanist Kati Rittner with Diana in The Church (now a bar/restaurant but where Handel rehearsed prior to the first performance of The Messiah), and Diana learning how to be a barmaid :-)

   DSC_0012     DSC_0060     DSC_0072

photoOn the way to Belfast, we got to stop at Barmeath Castle.  The owners had attended our concert the previous evening and hosted our entire group.  They have kept up the castle and grounds and it was very impressive!

DSC_0215Belfast:  We sang in the church where C. S. Lewis attended as a boy.  The vicarage had a doorknob that inspired a key character in his books, and we drove past a small park that had a statue of someone entering a wardrobe.

DSC_0401   DSC_0304We also got to visit the Belfast Castle which is now owned and run by the city, and used for occasions such as weddings.  The prior owners were definitely cat lovers; we saw several statues and mosaics of cats in the gardens.

DSC_0367 DSC_0374A few of us also got to visit the Titanic museum.  The shipyard was located here and the museum was fascinating!  The building is huge and has four sections that each look like the prow of the ship.  The height is the same as the ship, so that visitors can get an impression of how big the ship really was.

DSC_0387Edinburgh:  Our ritziest hotel was here (the Carlton) and we really enjoyed our time here.  Most of the places we sang in were small local stone churches, but we gave a lunchtime concert at the St. Giles Cathedral.  This is the view from where our director was standing!

DSC_0416There was a street artist outside the cathedral every day.  He made the most incredible landscapes using spray paint, scraps of newspaper, and a putty knife.  Here is one of the paintings that we watched him create; the entire process took only about 20 minutes:

DSC_0694We took a side trip to see Rosslyn Chapel (made famous by Dan Brown in “The DaVinci Code”).  The carvings on and in this building were spectacular!  Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside.

DSC_0458 DSC_0460

DSC_0468You can’t go to Edinburgh without noticing the Edinburgh Castle up on the hill.  Our group got a guided tour, and we got to see the crown jewels of Scotland (no pictures in that room either unfortunately, but those crowns looked just like I’d always imagined a King would wear!)  There were statues guarding the entrance to the grounds, one of them was of my ancestor William Wallace.

DSC_0606

 

Lindesfarne (Holy Island):  We took a westerly scenic route from Edinburgh to York, and stopped at the island on the way. The road is open only when the tide is out.  There is a castle on the island, and in the town there are ruins of a monastery.

DSC_0764 DSC_0757 DSC_0810York:  The town is dominated by Yorkminster Cathedral, and is also surrounded by a stone wall that dates back as far as the Roman times.  We got to tour the inside of the cathedral, as well as some of the historic places in the town.  A few of us spent some time exploring the wall.

DSC_0903 DSC_0959  DSC_0987         IMG_20130626_210221_827

London:  We spent three nights here and it wasn’t enough…. there is so much to see and do there! I was thrilled that I got to finally meet my friend Elise from France; we had worked together for over four years but had never met in person. We had a fabulous time and she was able to come with us on some of our tours.  Of course, the first thing we did was go down to the nearest pub!

IMG_20130628_182553_717The “must see” sights include Big Ben (which is the name of the bell inside the Elizabeth Tower), Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square and the Victory Column, the Tower Bridge and the adjacent Tower Museum (where we got to see the Crown Jewels of England), and, of course, the tube system and shopping at Harrod’s (we only bought chocolate!)

DSC_0042DSC_0044 DSC_0058 DSC_0084

Our final concert was at St. Andrew’s in Holborn, with the English National Opera Community Choir.  We joined them for the first song, then they did the rest of their numbers.  After intermission, we presented our numbers and they joined us for the last one.  It was our best concert of the tour, and a lot of fun!  The church was small but the acoustics were awesome and the organ was very beautiful.

DSC_0152 DSC_0149 The day before we left was a Sunday.  We participated in the worship service at St. John’s church, and afterward the vicar hosted us in the “garden” for lunch.  We were able to entertain our hosts with a couple of our a capella numbers there.  Then, we were free to spend the afternoon sightseeing.  Diana and I hiked all over, we went to Baker Street and also to the BBC headquarters (but the Dalek wasn’t that scary!)  The next morning, we had time to visit the T.A.R.D.I.S. before it was time to go to the airport.

DSC_0208 DSC_0209 DSC_0256It was good to get home, but I would not have missed this trip for the world.  I got to know a lot of the chorale members a lot better, I got to meet Elise, Diana and I had a lot of fun, and this was the first REAL vacation I had taken in years.  In fact, I took another week off after we got back, just to recuperate!

Posted in Family, Music, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Okay, I did it.

People have been bugging me for years to start a blog (or at least, update my webpage which is older than OLD dirt).  I promise, I’ll do my best to keep this more up to date than I have managed to do with that webpage that I built while I was waiting for Y2K to crash and burn.  (wow.  almost 15 years ago? Imagine that… no wonder I no longer look like that picture!!)  Okay, so those of you that didn’t know me then…  here is the link.  I’m now about 20 times grayer and a little (okay, more than a little) heavier… but much, MUCH wiser (I hope).  http://www.users.qwest.net/~lsquared/

Of course, it doesn’t help that my provider made it IMPOSSIBLE to update that page.  So, it’s out there for posterity and anybody that wants to look at my older than OLD dirt stuff can go there.

I also have an old (i.e. newer than OLD dirt but still old) webpage.  Not as much there, mainly because I hated the design and didn’t have time between divorce and kids and job to do much with it.  But there’s an old picture of me (a little grayer than before) and a couple more quilts and such….  http://home.comcast.net/~lsquaredking/wsb/html/view.cgi-home.html-.html

I have a few things on Facebook that I’ll try to put over here just so that those of you that do NOT want to fight with FB can still see what I’ve been up to in the last two or three years.

I’m sure some of you are asking… so, Lori, why did you finally take the plunge into blogging?  Well, in a few months some of my art is going to be published in a magazine, and I thought that now would be a good time to get this started, so that (a) they will be able to publish the link to my blog in the article and (b) I will have a couple of months to actually put something IN the blog so that when the article comes out in (I think) November, it will actually look like I’ve accomplished something!

It’s amazing what happens when I get three weeks off from the job (which can be very stressful but DOES support my fabric habit).  I take two weeks, go off to Europe with my teenaged daughter, and then spend a week recuperating.  Today is day 4 of recuperation.  I spent day 3 with my husband hiking in the Colorado mountains.  We’re both very sore, so I’m confined to the Lazy-Boy (which is where I sit for my telecommuting IT job) but I am NOT going to log in to my work computer….

Happy Friday everyone!

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment