22 March 2015

Catching Up...

As you may have noticed, my blog now has it's own very own domain!  The address is: http://www.ivoryblushroses.com . 

2015.03.20MollieFeathers
A couple weeks ago, I bought myself some lovely ivory blushed roses.  They dried so beautifully in the vase that I've left them out to enjoy.  Mollie Kitty is often to be found sitting next to them.  Though she looks a bit gruff in this photo, this is actually her "I'm very contented" face.  She's happy just sitting here, and especially with the bit of extra attention she gets when I'm taking photos.  

2015.03.14FeatherStitchProject02

As I looked at Mollie and the roses, I realized that they have the same basic coloring as my feather stitch project, so I've given it a new name ~ Mollie Feathers.  I think I'll print out Mollies photo above and use it as the quilt label on the back! 

2015.03.21ButtonFlowers02
I found some time yesterday to work on some embroidered button flowers for a special project that I need to complete within the coming week if at all possible.  

2015.03.21ButtonFlowers01
I also did a second set of button flowers for a smaller associated project.  What fun it was to pull out all the fancy mother of pearl buttons and find some unusual ones for these two projects! 

Right now, the calendar is filled to overflowing with things to do.  Many are work related things and because our department is somewhat understaffed at the moment, there are extra shifts on top of my already busy schedule.  Not nearly enough time to get all the projects stitched that I want and need to get finished! 

2015.03.16Bison02
I did take a little bit of time on my way home from work one morning last week to stop by the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge.  I was hoping to see lots of ducks on the ponds, but they were nearly empty.  Instead, the buffalo herd crossed the road right in front of my car and I got several nice photos of the bison!  I thought that this guy was pretty big ~ and I loved the way his horns curled.  

2015.03.16Bison01
Then this big fellow crossed the road!  He certainly has a bit of a teddy bear look going, but I'm sure that beneath that appearance of such a placid demeanor, a powerful beast lurks which one would do well not to antagonize!  

2015.03.16BarrLake02
I also stopped one morning at Barr Lake State Park a little ways east of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Denver.  It's a large reservoir, partly open to water recreation vehicles but the larger part has been made into a wildlife refuge.  It boasts the largest variety of birds spotted in one place in the entire state of Colorado.  It was pretty quiet the day I was there, but the snowy peaks of the high country were beautiful when viewed from across the lake!  I sat a long time just enjoying the birdsong and the gentle lap of water at the shoreline.  

2015.03.16BarrLake01
Their are trails around the entire lake and at various spots, boardwalks extend out over the water to provide additional wildlife/bird viewing.  I was tired enough after a long week of work, that I didn't walk too far, but I look forward to exploring more in the future!  It's nice to know that within such a short reach of the city, there are places like this.  In my increasingly hectic life, having a calm space to go and spend some quiet time in nature is renewing and a healing balm to the soul.  It reminds me of one of my favorite hymns, attributed to St. Columba of Iona:
Alone with none but thee, my God,
I journey on my way.
What need I fear when thou art near,
O King of night and day?
More safe am I within thy hand than if a host should round me stand.

My destined time is known to thee,
and death will keep his hour;
did warriors strong around me throng,
they could not stay his power:
no walls of stone can man defend when thou thy messenger dost send.

My life I yield to thy decree,
and bow to thy control
in peaceful calm, for from thine arm
no power can wrest my soul.
Could earthly omens e'er appal
a man that heeds the heavenly call!

The child of God can fear no ill,
his chosen dread no foe;
we leave our fate with thee, and wait
thy bidding when to go.
'Tis not from chance our comfort springs.
thou art our trust, O King of kings.

14 March 2015

Works in Progress

2015.03.13StitchingStudio04
With a couple of day off work, I've been catching up on some stitching projects.   My new camera arrived in the middle of it, so a great opportunity to play with it and capture a bit of my "studio" space! 

2015.03.13StitchingStudio01
I tried stitching in my daughter's old room.  I really did.  But that grey just got me down and it felt closed in and away from everything, even though it is just steps down the hallway from the breakfast nook.  So I'm back stitching in the breakfast nook.  For some reason, this room, whose window is the same size and faces the same direction as my daughter's old room, seems to bring in so much more light.  I find I like the view slightly better too as it looks out over the patio and garden space.  It's also more open feeling with a large open doorway to the kitchen and another to the dining room.    I'm just so much happier stitching in this space.   

I'll probably move the rest of my sewing stuff up to the other room, but this is where I'll spend my hand stitching time.

2015.03.13StitchingStudio02

Some of the pearl cottons and ribbons have been put on 4" rings, which I've hung for the moment on the window.  Love all the color!  

2015.03.14FeatherStitchProject01
 All the seams are now finished on the Feather Stitch piece!  37 different feather stitched seams and one cabled chain, which I had done before I started feather stitching.  I really love how it has turned out so far and am excited about the way I want to finish it... but more about that later! 


2015.03.14FeatherStitch37
Here is a look at the rest of the seams.  This one has oyster stitch flowers.

2015.03.14FeatherStitch36
A feather stitched vine sprouts out of the cabled chain.

2015.03.14FeatherStitch35
A combination fo feather, fly stitch and french knots.

2015.03.14FeatherStitch34
Yet another variation on a triple (double) feather stitch with lazy daisies and a fly stitch.


2015.03.14FeatherStitch33
Feather stitching with silk ribbon embroidered leaves and french knots.

2015.03.14FeatherStitch32
I love the leafy look of this straight feather stitch with lazy daisies!


2015.03.14FeatherStitch31
This one has a very wild grassy look to me.  Loose and open.  A laddered feather stitch with straight stitch and lazy daisies.  

2015.03.14FeatherStitch30
This is a doubled feather stitch.  I've found that the two tone fabric on the left side of it makes it hard to see the stitches!  Really happy with how this came out though. 


2015.03.14FeatherStitch29
A variation of feather stitching with a cupped stitch that I use quite a lot.  This time I used some tiny jade beads in shades of green and peach. 

2015.03.14FeatherStitch28
I wanted to add one more seam with mother of pearl buttons, but I didn't have enough teeny tiny buttons.  Some heshi shell from an old broken necklace filled the bill nicely! 

2015.03.14FeatherStitchProject02

Here's a look at how I hope to finish this piece.  There will likely be a narrow band of dark brown in between the crazy quilted piece and the square inch stitched border.  I haven't decided yet if I will do more stitching on the little squares or not.  

2015.03.13PlantShelf001
As I said earlier, my new camera arrived!  The old one has taken more than 60,000 photos and has been giving me some fits occasionally.  Now it can rest and I will use it for back up.  The new one, a step up to a "premium" level camera, is amazing!  I had to play with it around the house and so took some photos of my plant shelf in the laundry area.  The little miniature african violets have bloomed almost non-stop since late last summer!  

2015.03.13PlantShelf02
This camera makes it easy and quick to change the focal point!  Same shelf, almost exactly the same view, but focusing on the ivy now.  This new camera definitely reads the light differently than the old one.  Learning to take the best photos I can with it will be another work in progress!  

2015.03.13SpringBlossoms
Of course I had to take the camera outside too.  To my delight, I discovered that with the melting snow, the daffodils in my protected corner along the front walk are beginning to bloom!  Hurrah!  Spring is upon us!  

2015.03.14Sparrow
The birds think so too as the sparrows are already nesting in the little birdhouse on the side porch!  The robins have been singing glorious songs in the warmish evenings and all the little songbirds have been filling the air with their twitter-pated song!  I love that Spring is working its way along too!  Just another lovely work in progress!  Can't wait to see the finished result! 


12 March 2015

March Travels

2015.03.04BandelierNM03
Last week, I had a conference in Albuquerque, NM.  The day I was to drive was filled with winter weather advisories, so I decided to leave a day early (after having worked the night before and having NO sleep!).  Though I encountered heavy fog for about 150 miles, the drive to Raton, NM wasn't bad and the following morning, I rose before sunrise and continued the journey south trying to stay ahead of the snow.  By 8:00 a.m., I was in Santa Fe, NM with mostly clear blue skies and had managed to miss all the snow!  

With an unexpected day free to explore, I headed to Bandelier National Monument in the mountains north west of Santa Fe near Los Alamos.  Here, in a steep walled crack of a canyon, their are indian ruins carved into the soft Tuff cliff walls and the foundations of many roomed pueblos as well as some petroglyphs carved into the cliff walls.

The visitor center was lovely and set just the right mood for the walk to come. At one time, it was a hotel.  Now the rooms house the visitor center and many of the Monument staff who come to work here and help to preserve the ruins.  

2015.03.04BandelierNM02
The trail winds through a large circular ruin of many rooms and several kivas before heading up to the cliff walls.  

2015.03.04BandelierNM01
The cliffs are made of Tuff, which is actually compressed volcanic ash.  Many, many feet of compressed volcanic ash!  It is soft and easily carved, so their are many rooms carved into the cliff face as well as places where rooms were built out in front of the walls.  In places, water has carved the walls into amazing forms.  In a few places, they have placed ladders, which you may climb up to visit the interior of some of the rooms.  I must admit that being not fond of ladders, having knees that don't like ladders and carrying too much photographic equipment, I did not try the ladders.  

2015.03.04VallesCaldera
After visiting Bandelier, I followed the road up into the mountains above the canyon to see the remnants of the volcano that spewed forth so much ash.  This broad mountain valley known as Valles Caldera is 12 miles wide and is what is left of the massive eruption that left over 90 feet of ash in some places!  The thought is that when this volcano blew, it spewed over 500 times the amount of ash, rock and debris that Mount St. Helens did during its eruption!  Wow!  On this sunny, wintry day with the valley floor covered with snow, it's hard to imagine what that that eruption must have been like. 

From there, I headed south toward Albuquerque where I attended the conference.  I heard from many people that they had made the drive through the snow and that it was a difficult drive, so I was very glad to have made the drive a day early, even if it was on little sleep!  

2015.03.07MonteVistaNWR01
After the conference, I made my way north to Monte Vista, Colorado.  There is a National Wildlife Refuge here and each spring (and again in the fall, but on a lesser scale), the Sandhill Cranes stop on their migration north to fatten up for their journey and the breeding season to come.  Most of the ponds were still frozen, but beautiful none-the-less. 

2015.03.07MonteVistaNWR06
In addition to the cranes, who stand about 3 feet tall, there were thousands of Canada geese and a myriad of duck species.  At times the sky was simply filled with birds of one type or another!  The sound was amazing.  The cranes have a loud "kra-a-ack" call that reverberates for miles, especially when in flight.  

2015.03.07MonteVistaNWR07
The red tops of their heads really shows up in the sunlight!

2015.03.07MonteVistaNWR03
For such large birds, they are graceful in flight as well.  Their feathers create a unique whiffling sound as the move through the air and they call continually while aloft. The cranes mate for life and usually raise one young, so most often, they are found flying in groups of two or three dependent on whether or not they've kicked the youngster out of the family group yet.  Early in the morning or in the evening, they take to the air in larger groups as they move to/from feeding/resting grounds to nightly roosting spots. 

2015.03.07MonteVistaNWR09
The sky was glorious that evening with sun-tinged clouds lighting up the sky and the dark silhouettes of trees in contrast.

2015.03.07MonteVistaNWR11
Across the San Luis Valley, Mount Blanca was the backdrop for more birds in flight.

2015.03.08MonteVistaNWR06
I got to enjoy two mornings at the refuge.  Such a gorgeous spot!

2015.03.08MonteVistaNWR05
Having grown up on the plains just east of Boulder long before the area built up as much as it is nowdays, the song of the meadowlark was my morning wake up call.  It's still one of my favorite bird songs and one I definitely associate with spring and summer.  What a delight to catch this fellow singing so joyfully on this beautiful morning! 

2015.03.08MonteVistaNWR04
I sat at this spot quite a lot watching the cranes as they foraged for grain dropped in the fields after last autumn's harvest.  Suddenly, with a huge burst of sound, this enormous flock of Canada Geese, which had been silent until then, suddenly burst up into the air!  I hadn't even realized they were there!  Intriguing to think what brings an entire flock of thousands of birds suddenly into the air at exactly the same time! 

2015.03.08MonteVistaNWR03
The cranes were unperturbed by all the excitement!

2015.03.08MonteVistaNWR02
At one point, I was able to witness some of the crane's dance.  They leap and jump into the air as part of their mating rituals.  

2015.03.08MonteVistaNWR01
They are magnificent birds and it was such a treat to get to spend a day and a half observing them!

2015.03.08MtBlanca
As I headed towards home, I decided to make a brief stop at Great Sand Dunes National Park.  I'd been there as a child and again as a teenager... some 45 years ago, but hadn't made a stop there since then.  The road turns north into the park at the foot of Mount Blanca or Blanca Peak as it is sometimes called.  Mount Blanca sits mostly alone and is one of the four sacred "sky island" mountains of the Navaho.  My Dad also loved this mountain and I believe he climbed to its 14,344 foot summit on more than one occasion.  It's quite a climb as it rises more than 5,000 feet from the valley floor! 

2015.03.08GreatSandDunesNP01
Heading north around the west flank of Blanca Peak, one comes upon this band of tan sand dunes tucked in a crook in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains.  When I was growing up, this was a National Monument, but in 2004, it became the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve.  The dunes are the tallest dunes in the United States, standing up to 750 feet tall! 

2015.03.08GreatSandDunesNP05
On the eastern edge, you can see across the broad San Luis Valley to the La Garita and San Juan Mountains on the far side.  

2015.03.08GreatSandDunesNP04
One of the things that helps to keep the Sand Dunes contained is Medano Creek.  Right now, there isn't a lot of water as most of it is frozen.  But as it melts during the day, it fans out across the southern boundary of the dunes.  Later in the spring, it will become a much deeper creek and is a great spot for people to play in the water!  I have fun memories of our 8th grade science class making a field trip here for a few days way back when! 

2015.03.08GreatSandDunesNP02
With time constraints for getting back home, I didn't climb the dunes, but I did spend time walking along the creek and enjoying the patterns of wind and water on the sand.  When picking up a handful of sand, I found it exceedingly light in weight and realized that this was one of the things that allows the wind to pick it up from all across the broad San Luis Valley and deposit it here in the crook of the mountains.  

2015.03.08SangredeCristos01
As I left the park, I headed north through the San Luis Valley and marveled at the peaks of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains.  Stunningly beautiful.  It's no wonder that my Dad thought that these were some of the most beautiful mountains in Colorado!

2015.03.08SouthPark
After leaving the broad low San Luis Valley, the road continues north and eventually crossed into the higher "South Park" valley.  Yes, the same South Park as loosely featured in the rude comic strip of that name.  The real thing is beautiful, though often windy and cold!  I've driven the road through here in the winter, with the wind blowing the same direction as the car was traveling and had the ice form in forward pointing icicles!  Some of Colorado's coldest temps are often recorded in this region and the wind, never seems to stop blowing!  On this day, it wasn't too bad, but I was grateful to come up over the ridge on the north side and over into the Front Range of Colorado where it was significantly warmer!  

I arrived home in the early evening to the sound of robins chirping in the yard and the twitter-pated song of the sparrows and finches in the trees near my doorway!  How quickly things can change in just a few short days - from winter weather travel advisories and snow to sunny, warm and a hint of spring in the air! 



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