Monday, December 27, 2010

Celebrations, beginnings, and endings

It has been a peaceful holiday here in the mountains. Some snow, some friends, some family, and lots of good food. What more could we ask for? December 31 will mark our 18th wedding anniversary; the marriage that surprised many folks who had known us the 15 years we had shared each others' lives before quietly eloping to Santa Fe. What amazing years these have been...all 33 of them. My folks were married 67 years when my dad died...I'm thinking it's a bit optimistic we might live that long, but it's certainly a great goal!

This is always the time of year for personal reflection, and I've certainly been doing my share. It's like mental housecleaning, thinking about the past, planning for the future. I've made a decision to spend lots of time in California, visiting my grandchildren. I want them to grow up knowing grandparents, since I didn't. I want them to know and remember their Opa as the kind and loving man that he is, and their Mimi as the loving and fun person I want to be. I want to be around like family, and not company. I want to be there for them during the subtle changes as they grow. I definitely feel I'm embarking on a new phase of my life, and I couldn't be happier about it. It is reminiscent of that same feeling of excitement I used to get just before school started: a new adventure, learning new things and meeting new friends.

As for endings...well, along with leaving one decade and heading into the next with all the rest of you, I've decided to leave this blog for now. It began in spring of 2006 as a link and marketing tool for my yarn shop. Over time it has evolved into something much more personal, and I've taken your friendships and caring so seriously, I've even hesitated to use it much to promote my little Etsy shop. I've loved being able to share my world with you, and have greatly appreciated your advice and feedback when I've asked for it; it does, after all, take a village sometimes. Having the viewpoints of so many others has often helped me change my way of looking at things, and that has been invaluable to me; for those many gifts, I can't thank you enough.

However, having said all of that: I haven't felt terribly inspired to post lately, so I'm paying attention to that. I love writing, and have often dreamed of writing on a more serious level; I am allowing myself to imagine that maybe, just maybe, by not posting here, I will use that energy to write privately instead. Who knows? I only know that I feel like this blog has, for now, run its course. I am not ruling out posting again...just not in the near future. I need some time to, well, "marinate" on some things. Sort of like starting with a blank canvas and wondering where to start, I am both a wee bit nervous and a lot excited.

So, dear friends...thanks so much for being with me all these years. I will continue to watch your own blogs, and am sure I'll pop in now and again with my comments.

May you all have the most wonderful new year, filled with love, happiness, and health. I shall miss you.

With love,


(and my editor, Bob, sends his good wishes, as well.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas in Taos

Christmas in New Mexico has a definite feel all its own. In the early years of living here, I would try to get out and see the beautiful light of the farolitos, not to mention a few Christmas eves spent observing the celebration at Taos Pueblo. (Now I'm just as happy to stay home and cozy and not be outdoors with hundreds of people I mostly don't know, freezing.)

I've taken the liberty to copy a photograph of a painting I found on the internet to share with you. It is by local artist Jane Grover. It's a beautiful depiction of this magical evening. In addition, I'm going to share with you the description of this celebration, taken directly from the Taos Visitors Guide on line.

While Christmas is still a few days ahead, I send you my greetings now for a safe and loving holiday!

In the northern villages of New Mexico, ritual re-enactments of history by the Hispanic community — combined with medieval morality plays known as autos sacramentales brought to the area during the Spanish conquest — are faithfully re-created in distinctive Christmas celebrations.

At the Indian pueblos, Catholicism is intertwined with ancient American Indian beliefs. When the Spanish arrived in New Mexico in the 16th century, missionaries assigned a patron saint to each pueblo in an effort to convert tribal members to Catholicism. Because tribal rituals coincided with the saints’ days, these religions eventually merged.

A Taos Pueblo spokesman says that a large percentage of tribal members are baptized Catholic and that the church service is much like Catholic services elsewhere. The only difference, he says, is that the motifs in the chapel have native elements and tribal members wear blankets and moccasins.

On Christmas Eve, the northern pueblos celebrate this most important Christian holy day in a distinctive Indian way. Most moving are the vespers with bonfires and the procession of the Virgin Mary at the 1,000-year-old Taos Pueblo— a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The drama of the event unfolds at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, amid the orange and purple hues of a winter sunset. At sundown at the pueblo’s San Geronimo chapel, the archbishop of Santa Fe presides over vespers. As the sky darkens to a deep blue, torches are lit, and families build huge bonfires of ocote pine in the main plaza.

Orange flames illuminate the night sky, shooting up spires of smoke. Other smaller bonfires are scattered throughout the plaza and in front of homes. Residents gather on rooftops covered in snow.

At the end of vespers, the chapel bells peal. The archbishop and acolytes lead a procession out of the tiny chapel, followed by six men carrying a dais that holds the statue of the Virgin Mary under a billowing canopy. At the front of the procession, pueblo men carrying rifles shoot live ammunition into the air to announce her arrival. Drummers and members of the church choir follow, and the throngs of people there for the bonfires join in the procession. The beauty, mystery and power of the scene are profound.

The Taos Pueblo Community extends a warm welcome to their Taos neighbors and to all friends of the Pueblo.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

We woke up yesterday morning to about 7" of snow here in our little part of the forest. I think I'll never lose the excitement that a first snow brings, even if it does end up involving a snow shovel. The dogs really love it. Our oldest dog, Meika (who is a senior citizen at age 11), is the picture of pure joy when it snows. It brings a lightness to her step and her spirits alike. May we all know such joy.

These aren't great photos...I took them last evening with my cell is of the moon rising over the mountain behind us, the other from up above our house and the dog corral, looking down on the Rio Grande Valley far below. It was a ribbon of silver, had you seen it person.

I have been really down this week. On Tuesday morning, I drove past the scene of a fatal automobile accident. A young man was speeding to get home and lost control of his car. No alcohol...but no seat belt. It has rekindled the memory of our own Kara (a former Sunflower), who lost her life farther up that same road a few years ago. Senseless waste, so avoidable. My heart aches for these families.

Please have a great weekend, and stay safe. Remember that being in a hurry is rarely worth it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Long time, no blog

The weeks here are flying. I've shipped off a box of donation scarves to the Santa Fe Scarf Project, and knitted several hats and another scarf to stash for next year's donations. This project is in its 7th or 8th year, conceived and managed by one wonderful woman named Sarah Bienvenu. She collects donations from the local yarn shops (my customers used to donate to this project as well) and when they are all gathered, they have a wrapping party sometime just before Christmas. They are then delivered to the homeless shelter in Santa Fe (St. Elizabeth's) for Christmas presents. The population there used to be primarily men, but given the situation our country is in, you can well guess that there are also women and children in need of these gifts. It is one of the highlights of my year; I love donation knitting. As a woman I saw on television said recently (after donating approximately 700 scarves she made this last year, knitted, crocheted, sewn, etc.): I do it because it makes me feel good.

There's been some time to spin, which has been fun. I managed some time at the drum carder this last week so I could make some wool batts to spin over the holiday. We are slowly condensing all the "stuff" in what was once the yarn shop; this photo is about half of what remains in my "fiber department" and the amount of yarn left in inventory is now down to not enough to worry about for now. It feels good. I never dreamed it would take two years to get to this place.

For those of you who have been suffering these horrible winter heart goes out to you. Forgive me for whining that we've not had snow (although some is predicted for tonight).

Off now to take care of more piles of paper. Hoping you're all well and warm.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Do you have our snow???

It appears that the predictions of a dry winter are true, so far. We've had gorgeous, sunny, days and if you didn't look at the calendar (or the thermometers), you'd think it was still fall. I know, I know...technically, it still is fall, but we should have winter snows by now, and especially considering our local economy is based largely on the business at the Taos Ski Valley.

A couple of days ago, Ani and I drove up to Pagosa Springs, Colorado. We saw some beautiful snow along the way. I'm posting a couple of photos to share with you...nothing worthy of National Geographic, but enough for you to get a little idea of the gorgeous vistas we saw.

This morning I finally got my act together and reopened my little Etsy shop. I've taken the last week to photograph new inventory, edit photos, give some thought to pricing. It's always so hard with the pricing, especially with the hand spun yarns. They always end up being a labor of love, no matter how you look at it; but then, I spin because I love to spin, not because I plan to sell it. I sell it because I can never use all that I can make.

Hope you're going to have a great weekend...stay safe and warm!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving thanks

After a beautiful two day drive across CA, AZ, & NM, I am now happily resuming my place in our little family and household. My job now is to get back to the business of simplifying my life in as many small ways as I can. The last two days have been spent facing down six months' worth of summer dust and cobwebs in my workspace...not to mention the piles of things I left, in a rather breezy manner, in May. I guess I forgot they'd still be here when I returned.

Sunshine this morning, and lots of it. We've had a few false alarms on snow this last few days. Dinner today will be at a lodge high up in the mountains (10,400 ft., to be exact). It has become somewhat of a tradition these last years and I must say I don't mind not spending all day in the kitchen to make a huge meal for a small household.

I have much more to be thankful for than I had ever dreamed. These photos are of some of my many blessings.

I hope that you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving today, wherever you are. May you have lots of good food, laughter, and the love of family and friends surround you.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Back to the mountains

Today is my day to tie all the loose ends, pack the car, and see my daughter in law and grand babies for the last time for this visit. As I write this, I'm savoring the sound of the clanging bell and horn of the train which is at the bottom of my street. Funny how I was so assaulted by noises at the beginning of this journey, and now I have adjusted. I wonder what quiet will feel like when I get home.

Have a great weekend, I'll be checking in again soon.


I've been forgetting to share with you that I've received a couple of answers about the shells I posted here a little while back. The first answer came from a friend of a friend who is a professor (now retired) at Scripps Institute of Oceanography:

Hi Martie: From my colleague at the London Museum of Natural History: According to Jon Todd, the mollusk expert in the museum: "Almost certainly an Astraea (Vetigastropoda: Turbinidae)" Cheers, Elena Se also: and

The second answer, which is also correct, is from my spinning and blog friend, Shelly, who is a scuba diver in these local waters, so surely knows her stuff. She reported it as being a Wavy Top Turban Shell. Now that I've had these exact words, I've been able to locate internet information relevant to our local waters. Turns out people eat them, and report them to taste like conch (which I have never tasted). I think I am happier finding the empty shells along the shore and imagining that the prior occupant had to move into a bigger shell.

I also found this tidbit on line:

wavy turban snail/ wavy top snail (Megastraea undosa)

The wavy top snail has a large, heavy shell with undulating ridges spiraling along the outside of its reddish shell. The wavy top's shell can grow to 11 cm (4.3 in.) in diameter making this one of the larger snails to inhabit the lower intertidal and subtidal zones. Wavy top snails range from Point Conception, California to Baja California, Mexico. A similar species, the red turban snail, is smaller and ranges along the Pacific coast from British Columbia to Baja California, Mexico.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wrapping up

It has been a very busy week since I last wrote. I've been trying to balance the business of getting ready to return to New Mexico with spending time with my family. I'm trying to focus on all the goodness and not on the fact that I won't get to see my grand babies again until January or February. I have jokingly said I have postpartum depression. I continually remind myself that I must look forward, not back.

I fully intended not to take any quilting back to NM with me, and leave that for my California visits, but I am starting to cave in on this decision. I have a blue and white quilt I am taking home to hand quilt, and since we're driving over in our truck, I will be able to take the enormous roll of batting and the quilt tops I need to put onto backs and finish. I have done a tally of my quilting accomplishments for this past six months, and I'm pretty pleased:

  • 3 baby quilts
  • the sea life quilt for my grandson's bed
  • the Batik quilt for my kids
  • four donation quilt tops for the Bumble Beans Basics Quilt project
  • I machine quilted a top made in 1992 to its backing and took it to its new home
  • I finished hand quilting a log cabin quilt I put to backing in 1992, before moving to NM
  • I am almost finished hand quilting the double wedding ring quilt I showed you at the beginning of the summer
  • my scrap squares quilt top is assembled and ready for its backing and quilting (I am undecided if I will hand quilt it or not).
As much as I adore buying fabric, I'm going to try to put a brake on it until I return next time. I still have a big box of 30's reproduction fabrics I intended to use this summer, but never touched. (That was before I discovered all the gorgeous Westminster fabrics. Oh my.)

I've not been the only one busy around here. There is some spider I have yet to see that is happily setting up camp all over my big euphorbia plant in the front yard. It's a web unlike any I've seen goes in little strips, and reminds me of the edging one gets from using a serger. Maybe I should remember this for a good machine quilting pattern; nothing like inspiration from nature!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Safe arrival!

Miss Madalyne Rosemary made her entrance into this crazy world yesterday. Awaiting her safe arrival were her big brother, her dad, and a host of assorted aunties, cousins, and grandparents. It was truly a life altering experience for me, and I am now head over heels in love with a 6.6 lb. baby girl who shall be known as Maddy Rose.

To all of you who have shared this journey with me, I thank you for your interest, comments, support and love you have sent our way. It truly does take a village.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Still waiting

Not that many of you who read this are interested, but to my friends and family who are, there is still no baby as of this morning. So much for channeling the spirit of my dead mom to help out! (On the other mom had a huge stubborn streak, so maybe that's her gift to this baby, who is clearly biding her own time.)

Quick question...I've been finding these (empty) shells on the beach at low tide. Does anyone know what they are? I cannot find anything on the internet that looks like them and it's driving me bonkers. If you have any clues, I'd sure love some help!

More soon...Martie

PS These are not small...the largest measures 4" from bottom to top.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bit and pieces

We are all now in a holding pattern, waiting for the baby to make her entrance into this world. Her mom is more than ready for her to arrive, after long months on bed rest. Her dad is scheduled to leave on November 12 for his next jobs, this time far down in Baja California, with no easy access to transportation back here. I am scheduled to return to NM in a few weeks. We all thought she'd be here by now. As if we hadn't already guessed earlier this summer, this girl clearly has a mind of her own.

My mom's name was Rosemary...which will be the baby's middle name. I suddenly realized the other night that mom's birthday is Monday...November 1...and would have been her 100th birthday had she lived. I am harboring a hope that little Maddy arrives Monday, and maybe, just maybe, my mom is watching this all unfold.

Knowing I will leave soon, I'm trying to be extra productive with every moment that I have at home. I've been following a blog called Bumble Beans this summer, and one of the fun things that she loves to do is use scraps to sew quilt blocks. The method she uses is to sew the scraps to an old page out of a phone book, and keep building on that until you've covered the paper. I started out thinking I'd do a block a day, and then that old devil took hold of me and I obsessed until I stopped myself at 30 blocks. I'm hoping to have them in a finished quilt top by the end of this are some photos of the works in progress.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A summer love

It started innocently enough...but then, it always does, doesn't it. I couldn't help myself; once I started to fall, I fell hard. I was once again a woman possessed...barely able to sleep or force myself to do my daily jobs. All I wanted to do was be with my new love.

First, I found the bird of paradise fabric on sale. CHEAP. I knew I needed it, I just didn't know why. Then one of my comrades in fabric crimes, Liz, started handing me the batik fabrics to go with it. Next thing I knew, I was spiraling out of control, combing remnant bins for batik scraps, shopping on Etsy for more. The anticipation was building...I soon had enough to get started.

Inspired by a Kaffe Fassett design, I started cutting and sewing. The piecing went pretty fast. Then I got to the juicy part...the machine quilting. Using some of the free form quilting designs from Leah Day's website, I began with her "rain forest leaf" pattern in the center of each block. I worked like a wild woman, every chance I could. I quilted from the center out, ending with her "bamboo" design on the border. I've included a detail photo of the back so you can see how that came out. I'm super excited.

Yesterday, after a few hugs, it was time to part with my love. It went to someone else I love, and will be loved there. What better way to end a great summer?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The miners

Like many of you, I have been checking in hourly on the amazing progress of the rescue of those heroic Chilean miners. Listening to the CNN talking head earlier, I was reminded that those men were down there for an entire two weeks before they even knew if they'd ever be discovered, let alone, saved. Can you imagine????

It has been fascinating to hear the personal stories of each man. I was particularly touched by the story of the man who, from the beginning, had the presence of mind to keep a journal. The fact that they were able to set up their own little society and run it so efficiently is impressive, considering many of us can't seem to manage to get it together so well some days. These men could be role models for all of us, especially the politicians that have such nasty political ads running during this pre-election time. These men are the epitome of grace under pressure.

I hope Time Magazine considers using them as their "Men of the Year" this year...they deserve that title, and so much more. My heart goes out to all of them, and their loved ones...and how wonderful it has been to turn the television on and hear some good news for a change!

(Photo courtesy of L.A., please please please don't come and get me for using your wonderful picture...I couldn't help myself!)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sea changes

Sorry to be so long between postings. Things have been moving quickly around here. Mr. Sunflower was here for a much needed one week visit and our tenant of seven years moved I was busy cleaning and making that space ready for my friend Konny to come and visit for a few days.

Her visit last week was wonderful for both of us. The tides were quite high and conversely, quite low. We walked on the beach each of the three afternoons she was here, combing the reef and tide pools, collecting shells long since vacated by their owners. The tide pool in this particular photograph had not only the sea anemones, but if you look closely, little snail shells that were all occupied by busy little hermit crabs. It was just magical.

Walking the reef those days, it was hard not to compare the experience of those tides with our own lives, and the changes that come, no matter what we want. I've now been here almost 6 months, the baby is due within weeks, and yet again, I see changes in myself I never dreamed I'd see. It's all very wonderful.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Welcome to fall

I'm sitting here, scratching my head, wondering how it got to be September 24 already. I returned to CA from Taos a little more than a week ago, and the days have just flown. Two days after returning home, my DVR committed suicide (digital video recorder, for the uninitiated) and I could not watch television at I bought myself this sunflower jig saw puzzle. That was great entertainment until I realized that I was completely possessed by it, and losing sleep, so on the third evening I just stayed up until the wee hours to get it finished. So much for the idea of having it just be there to work on here and there...but then, doing things in moderation has never been my strong suit.

I also decided to wash all my quilt fabrics, instead of just using them as is. That was great entertainment for several days: washing, pulling off wads of threads, folding, stacking, refolding, restacking again...kind of like the hours I spent playing with crayons as a kid. Then I spent some evenings reading blogs about quilters who are using men's shirts from thrift stores for their fabrics. Ta da! What a great idea. Lots of stripes and plaids (which seem in short supply in quilting fabrics), plus the fun of cutting things up to reuse them. How could I go wrong?

First stop: my local hospice thrift store. Bingo! A great rack of men's Hawaiian shirts, most in size 3XL, so more fabric for the buck. But wait...the price tags...$8.00. $8.00 for a shirt in a thrift store? I can buy yardage cheaper than that. Must be the shop. Next plan: find the Salvation Army store in San Diego.

Well...that's exactly where I went today. I am still fuming from the experience. The men's shirts on the racks there were anywhere from 5.99-8.99, and let me assure you, they were nothing to write home about. But wait! I saw another spot with more men's clothes, more in the center of the store. Off I went. Guess what it was? The designer shop! Not truly designated as such, but it quickly became apparent, by reading labels. What about the prices? Well...the shirts there were starting at 20.00 each and many were in the 32.00 price range.

WHAT IS THAT ALL ABOUT??? I don't care if it IS a designer label. I thought these stores were there to help people who need to shop on limited budgets. As a former shop owner, I'm the first one to understand the costs the customers don't often consider, beginning with rent, employees, and the horrendous liability insurance costs, to name just a few. However...I feel like I'm missing something here. I thought, when I donate to these organizations, I'm making things that are in usable, if not great, condition available to folks on limited budgets. Will someone please help me understand this?

It reminded me of a year or two ago, when I started rug hooking. Following the advice of other hookers, I decided to cruise the Taos thrift shop for wool clothes to dismantle and use. One trip to the thrift shop there gave me the same feeling I had today...after find a not so wonderful wool coat on the rack for the not so thrifty price of $45.00. I was so disgusted, I have not donated to these folks again...preferring, instead, to take things to the town free box, where the folks who need things can "afford" to shop.

If you have anything to tell me to calm me down on this matter, I'd sure appreciate another perspective.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Life is just a bowl of..., it's tomatoes. Anila has an heirloom tomato plant that's cranking out these babies in our greenhouse. I have two bowls of them and need to do something to save them today. Thinking I'll just stew them up and freeze them. Any suggestions? I'm down to the wire...I only have this afternoon. Fast is good. No time for canning, or I would (actually, not enough to bother with for all the trouble).

Tomorrow I fly back to CA. It has been a great three weeks. Project Decrap is finished, for now, and it feels just great. I even managed to get some stuff weeded out here at the house. Now I'm all organized so when I return later this fall, I can get right to work on reopening my little Etsy shop.

Only five more weeks until our new family member arrives. From the perspective of the person who is not pregnant and not lying on my side all day, everyday, 24-7, it seems like it has passed rather quickly...and I know these next weeks will just fly. Awesome!

Friday, September 10, 2010


A few nights ago, around 9:30, my car horn start honking repeatedly. I was up here alone, and wasn't sure if I should grab a Rottweiler and go investigate, or hide in the house. I chose the second option. Then, at 2:15 a.m., it started again. I was starting to get creeped out.

Closer inspection the next morning showed no bear paw prints, nor little critter prints, so I went on about my business. During the course of the day, it lovingly honked at me as we did our rounds in town, and again, while I was washing the windshield. I was starting to worry it was the spirit of someone trying to get through to me. (grin)

A trip to the Santa Fe Toyota dealer solved my problems yesterday, it was a sensor going beserk. On my drive down there, I got excited to see this trailer full of fresh chile ristras, headed for someone's home in the future, whether to be eaten or for decoration. It is another harbinger of fall; I remember my neighbors in Chimayo telling me they hung them in their attic space to dry and store during winter. YUM...nothing like good Chimayo red chile sauce.

And while Oprah would have admonished me for using my telephone camera while driving, I decided this bridge was too cool to pass up. I apologize for the quality, I was driving into the sun when I took it. This was one of several art projects that happened with the Indian pueblos redid the roads north of Santa Fe some years back. I love that they celebrated their culture with art in a public place.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Heavenly scent

In town yesterday, I was surprised at my good fortune to be able to catch the end of the chile roasting season. I took these photos to share with those of you who live afar and have heard me rattle on about this in past postings.

You purchase your gunny sack of chiles in the grocery store, and included in the price is the cost of having them roasted in the gas fired rotating cylinders outside. Then, according to your individual experience or tradition, you take them home and put them up for use all winter. There are probably as many preferred methods for doing this as there are varieties of chiles. My preference is to load them in a black plastic bag fresh from the roaster, and take them home and let them sit for a while as they continue to blister a bit more. When completely cooled, I put them up in small quantities (4-6 chiles per bag) in freezer quality sandwich size zip bags and freeze them until they are needed. I have found it's just as easy to peel the remaining peels off as they defrost as it is to do them all before freezing them.

Having said first fall in NM, in a little village called Chimayo, I was under close supervision and much help from my neighbor, who assured me I shouldn't have the chiles roasted at the store, but should do them at home on my own gas grill. Well...that was an experience to remember. After inhaling the fumes all day, somewhere during the peeling and bagging process, my hands started feeling on fire from the chile juices. It was just insanely painful. It was never quite clear to me if she really did them that way also, if she had Teflon hands, or if she just had a good laugh on the new neighbor's expense. Whatever the case, while I love to smell them roasting in town, most years, I just buy them already cooked, frozen, and chopped at the grocery when I need them!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Decrapping report #1

Well this has been a great week. A pack rat at heart, I have had more fun than a barrel of monkeys going through things. I've made piles: one for the thrift store, one for recycle, one for relocation to the California house (this would be fabrics), and a pile for the dumpster. I'm feeling a bit ruthless at this point. Two days ago, I got rid of Christmas, something I've longed to do. Gone are years' worth boxes of decorations, baskets, and all kinds of other holiday tchotchkes that once had a place in my life but no longer do. I feel powerful. I can part with things! The end is in sight!!!

Yesterday I baked banana bread and put corn up for winter. This would be the corn that Anila grew in our newly fenced in garden. No small feat at our elevation and short growing period, she managed a crop of munchkin corn stalks that produced a hearty crop of mini-ears. They are so adorable...averaging 3-4" in length, I was able to put 4-6 in a one quart bag. Not that this will feed us for long this winter, but it's the principle of the matter.

Oh...and the other great fun of the week...Jackie at Canton Village Quilt Works is having a great sale this weekend...go check it out! (I say this happily, as I've already put in my stash order...sigh.)

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Plan B

Life this past four months in California has been devoid of the years' worth of, well, accumulation of stuff. Day to day activities seem to feel a bit more light-hearted when I'm not seeing all the things I have to do, haven't finished, or should have parted with years ago. You understand, probably. Most of us have a little of this stuff hanging around.

I made a pact with myself at the beginning of 2010: I would use the entire year to absolve myself of all the stuff I don't really need to have anymore. That clearly fell off the calendar. Yesterday I started Plan B. I am referring to this plan, lovingly, as decrapping. This term seems to give me a certain freedom to be a little more liberal in getting rid of things. I'm thinking about submitting it to the next Oxford English Dictionary, a term reserved for those of us who, well, treasure things a little longer than most. What do you think?

Plan B is a multi-phase plan (please know I'll be creating the plan as I go). Phase I began yesterday down at the shop, where the detritus from the yarn shop still lurks. Notebooks full of things no longer needed, a pile of one page patterns that didn't sell, drawers with oddments of office supplies, old files, notebooks, and boxes full of yarn company samples need to be dealt with in one way or another. I have two drawers full of brand new knitting needles, a box of leftover knitting books and audio tapes, some knitted shop samples, and yes, there's still that pesky matter of the yarn that's left.

Yesterday was spent down there beginning Phase I. I am headed there again this morning, and plan to spend as many days in the two weeks I'm in here Taos working on this project. I'll pretend it's the spring cleaning I didn't do before leaving for California. It'll also be really great to come back, later in the fall, and not have to face such a monster mess.

And speaking of spring...I was stunned to come back last week and see my rose bush is still cranking out the blooms up here at almost 8,000 ft, right on the edge of fall. Who would have ever thought? Oh...and I love the reflection in the kitchen windows...saved me taking a cloud photo for you!

Friday, August 27, 2010

More signs of the times

I arrived in NM a couple of days ago, and found myself driving back to Santa Fe yesterday morning. At 11:00 a.m., I took these two photos from the plaza area downtown. One, the St. Francis Church. The other, the native Americans who sell their jewelry under the portal at the Palace of the Governors. What's wrong with these photos?

There's hardly anyone around. Even though it's the week after the big Indian Market, it is still summer and I have never seen the plaza in Santa Fe so devoid of tourists at this time of the year. This is what I would expect to see later in October, or early November. A sad picture(s), to be sure.

More evidence as to why Taos is suffering from the lack of tourists...I'm sure glad I closed the shop when I did.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Unconditional surrender

A couple of months ago, we went to lunch down at the harbor in San Diego. There is a new museum there (new since I moved to NM), on the retired USS Midway aircraft carrier.

Nearby stands this sculpture, a 25' tall recreation of the very famous photograph taken at the end of WWII on the streets of NYC.

I was quite taken by it, and took many photos. It's only recently, after all, that the nurse in the original Aug. 14, 1945 photograph passed away (the sailor was never identified and her identity was unknown until around 1970). There are several other sculpture installations in this park area. One is a bronze statue of Bob Hope, speaking to a group of (bronze) soldiers and veterans. There is a recording of his voice and comedy routine that plays there, and lights on it at feel as though you are really there for one of his many, popular, USO shows..

Anyway. It turns out this statue, known as "Unconditional Surrender", is scheduled to be removed at the end of August. It is on loan from the artist. It is made of foam core with a urethane outer coating, and was never intended to withstand the outdoor weather. There is a movement afoot in San Diego to try to see if there's any way to have this duplicated in bronze, to remain there forever...and of course, as always, there are those who would like to see it go away.

I hope they can find a way to acquire a permanent version of this piece; it is, after all, a scene that still occurs frequently enough in this military town. What more fitting place than this?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Giveaway at Canton Village Quiltworks!

This just in...

Jackie at Canton Village Quilt Works is having a giveaway of an AccuQuilt GO block cutter, courtesy of the AccuQuilt folks. If you check out her blog, there's information there on how to register for the drawing. While you're there, check out her awesome fabric collections...and do some stash building!

Good luck!

Friday, August 20, 2010


I was awake a lot last night, thinking about what home me, to you, to so many who don't even have one. The moon was blasting in my window, urging me to get up and write. I declined.

Now, in the light of day, it doesn't seem as pressing as it did at 2:3o in the morning, but I know it is. I have now been here with my family for almost four months...months that have flown past. I spend part of my time staying at the home of my son, so I now have the feeling of a new home to add to my list. One of you generously offered to me a few months ago that home is where the heart is. You are so very right.

In the little downtown area below my house, there are some non-traditional homes I've long wanted to share with you. I can't recall the history of how/why they were built just now...lo siento. Perhaps in another posting?

Spare moments this last week have been spent starting quilts for homes for folks I'll never know. I have found some wonderful quilting blogs this summer, and am once again reminded of the enormous heart and generosity of folks in the fiber world, joining together to do hand work to help others. My current focus is using up old quilt blocks I got in a swap back in 1992 (yes, they've been waiting all these years to be used). I have twelve blocks, so I have assembled them in groups of three, to border four separate smaller quilts. I am going to donate these quilts to a project called BASICS, started by quilter and fiber artist Victoria Findlay Wolfe when she learned of the needs of a community based group in the south Bronx (BASICS/Promesa) that is helping disadvantaged Latino families. She designed a simple house block and asked bloggers around the world to donate a block if they would like to join in. She received 550 blocks and to date, has generously assembled 50 quilts with them, some of which will be auctioned off in a fundraiser in early September if you are in that area. Victoria's quilts are then quilted by Jackie at Canton Village Quiltworks. Entire quilt donations are also being accepted...of all sizes...if you are interested in helping out, be sure to visit the BASICS website and check out the specifics on what they're looking for before you get started.

I plan to spend all of today working on this quilt. While I'm sewing, I'll count my blessings that I have so many homes in my heart, so many friends and family I love so much, and the opportunity to help others feel as secure as I do. I wish you a good weekend!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Signs of the times

It has been busy here, in a very good way. There was a pretty serious scare about four weeks ago, but mother and baby are doing well now, and we are counting the weeks to a safe arrival. We are hoping for another 10 weeks, and if they go as fast as these last four have, that time will pass swiftly (easy for me to say...I'm not the one on 100% bed rest).

These are a couple of signs I wanted to share with you. The McDonald's sign in Chinese had me in shock...I saw this while driving to my sister's house in Los Angeles recently. The other sign, on the car, was in the parking lot at the hospital last month. It really cracked me up.

Just a little social commentary to ponder.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Big brother present

In between other things, I've been able to work on and finish the quilt I will give my grandson this weekend. It was so much fun to do. I plan to do another just like it, with the leftovers, and save it for a present for another special little guy I know.

I've been following a few quilting blogs as time allows. Once in a while, if I have a few extra minutes (not often these days), I check out the blog rolls on some of those blogs and go exploring to find someone new. Somehow or another, I found the blog of a woman named Leah Day, who gave herself the challenge of creating and demonstrating 365 days of free form quilting designs. So far, she is on Day #207. Each of these designs is demonstrated in a video clip (also available on YouTube). She is professional, precise, and just a pleasure to learn from, unlike some (no doubt, well intended) YouTube tutorials I have watched that were either horrible to listen to, hard to see, or both. I think, frankly, that Leah and her designs just rock. After watching just a few of her video clips, I felt the freedom to go off and do my own thing on the whale quilt shown here, from bubbles in the ocean, waves crashing over the jellyfish, the rhythm of the sea grass, to the bubbles repeated again on the borders. Thank you, Leah Day. If you haven't visited her blog yet, I encourage you. She also sells quilting accessories to help support her efforts...I purchased my quilting gloves there, as well as some cool little Teflon discs that fit under my bobbin and have successfully stopped the back lashing and globs of threads on the back of my work.

I love the internet for all there is to learn out there!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Food, Inc.

During the middle of the crazy busy week that just flew past, I finally got around to watching this documentary. I had seen small portions of it on television, and discussions about its importance, much earlier this it's been around quite a while. Perhaps you've already seen it.

If you haven't, you might want to consider it. Some of what I saw was similar to information that was in King Corn (visit their website here). Some of it was about Monsanto, and how they have just about tied up our food from one end to the other, beginning with the seeds and including stories about private investigations they conduct to make sure farmers aren't saving and re-using seeds. It was a lot about how poorly many people eat in this country, either through lack of time, thought, education, or money. It painted, over all, a sad tale. It's no wonder there is so much obesity and illness. Our grocery stores are veritable mine fields of unhealthy products.

It's a cautionary tale, to be sure, and to my mind, one that needs to be seen be everyone.

WARNING: If you decide to watch it, it's probably not appropriate for smaller children, due to some fairly grisly footage taken in some farms, feedlots, and packing plants.