01 January 2018

2017 - A Year of Changes

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Change comes into our lives unexpectedly at times, like an early snowfall on a garden of flowers.  This has been the story of my year.   I would be lying if I told you everything was grand and beautiful as I'm certainly not where I thought I would be at this point in my life.  But there is beauty ~ and adventure! ~ to be had if we are simply open to it.  Like these beautiful wildflowers, that I found blooming profusely despite freezing nights,  I've chosen to keep on blooming despite the changes! 

My creation
It really has been a lovely year.  I've been able to do some traveling to places I've never been before such as Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.  Also to places I've been many times, such as Arizona, Rocky Mountain National Park, South Dakota, Utah, and other places in Colorado.  

My creation
This year has brought the gift of numerous wildlife and bird sightings!  The bobcat in Arizona was amazing to see!  I never get tired of seeing the elk, moose, and bighorn sheep in our Colorado Rocky Mountains, nor the occasional coyote or bear (though I wasn't able to get pictures of the several bears I saw!). And the birds are always captivating!  

2017 LPBoni Best Photos
It seems that everywhere I go, there is beauty and it's such a delight to be able to capture some of it in a photograph.  These are among some that I feel are the best that I took this year.  

2017 LPBoni Artwork
And with all those beautiful sights, many of them have gotten captured in watercolor sketches this year.  While I didn't paint nearly as much as I'd hoped, I was able to do more than during the past few years and I've been working to expand my knowledge and skill as well.  

2017 LPBoni Stitching
Stitching took a bit of a back seat once again due to all the changes.  But there have been a few projects that I've finished and several more that I've been working on that I hope to share in the future! 

2017 LPBoni Garden
The garden was glorious once again.  Spring in my yard was truly spectacular.  Losing this space is one of the hard things about the changes in my life, but I believe that at some future date I'll have another space to garden in, and God willing, it will be every bit as lovely as this one.  In the meantime, I'm hoping to spend springtime this coming year visiting gardens in France and Britain!  

2017 Granddaughters Then Now
One of the biggest changes that I've been able to witness this year is in my two granddaughters!  On January 1, 2017, they were just 4 & 5 months old.  And now, a year later, so grown up!  Walking, talking, and so much fun as they explore the world around them!  Truly, they are precious gems in my life and  it is such a privilege to be part of their lives!  

2017 Home Before & After
Perhaps the biggest change was coming to the decision to sell my home.  While I loved my sweet home and the flower garden, the yard was enormous and too large and expensive to care for on my own, especially with my knee, hip, and sacroiliac issues that came up in the spring.  With not being able to work at my nursing job, which required 12+ hours on my feet at a time, and needing to take an early retirement to regain my health, I needed to let go of my home.  It was hard, but God is gracious and with faith in Him, it was a step of faith to let it go.  Remarkably, the peace I felt surrounding the decision and ensuing sale was and continues to be overwhelming.  

2017 New Bedroom Home
My oldest son and his wife graciously invited me into their home, and I am now settled there as my "home base" for the time being.  Living in 120 square feet has been a bit of an adjustment, but prior to selling my home, I was able to downsize well over half of my possessions, maybe even as much as three quarters!  What I'm not able to use at the moment remains safely in storage for now.  It has been a bit of a challenge figuring out how to maximize my space here, especially since it must accommodate the needs of the kitties!  But I think I've gotten it mostly figured out now.  It is a joy to be here, watching my granddaughter growing up day by day and being an active part of their family!  

2017 Old & New Cars
Another change that took place was trading in my old car for a new one.  This has actually been one of the more difficult changes, and though my new car has all the bells and whistles, I miss the simplicity of my old car and how spacious and light it felt around me.  But, having a new car that is reliable and gets me where I want to go safely, gives me peace of mind when I'm on the road, even if I do feel a bit claustrophobic in it and frustrated with some of the new technology that seems to be mandatory these days!  

2017 RV Home away from Home
Another big change is that I'm now the owner of a small RV that will be the kitties and my home away from home for much of the year.  It was brown inside when I purchased it, but it didn't take me long to start transforming it into my own comfortable space!  There's room to pack my stitching and art supplies as well as all the necessities!  The plan is to start traveling in February and spend the majority of the spring, summer and autumn on the road.  Then as the seasons change and it gets colder, I'll return for the holiday season to my son's house.  More than likely, I will return there in-between trips throughout the year as needed.  

In February, I'm looking forward to seeing southern New Mexico with my dear friends, Bill and Sheryl, who will be traveling in their own RV setup!  It will be a good chance for us to figure out how to do this with each other around for support and encouragement!  

The one thing I don't quite have figured out is how to get around more easily once I'm in an area that I want to stay and explore.  I'm hoping, God willing, to find a small towable car within my tiny budget that I can tow behind.  Unfortunately, the new car isn't towable unless on a trailer, and that's a headache I'm not ready for right now!  Eventually, the new car will hopefully be getting a hitch on it to facilitate a possible trailer down the road.  For now, the RV made more sense for me as I start this new life that is so full of new experiences!  

2017 Kitties
One of the things that hasn't changed, is my two kitty companions!  Kitzy Cat and Thomas have settled into their new surroundings fairly well, though I'm sure they wish they had more space to romp.  We are going to try traveling together in February and I'm hopeful that they will adapt well to the RV life!  

While my knee/hip/sacroiliac situation has stabilized after some improvement, it still gives me issues and extended time on my feet is difficult.  I'm learning to pace myself, and use a cane when things are acting up.  But I'm glad to say that overall, I'm in a much better spot than I was in last spring, when I could barely walk for several weeks.  I'm definitely getting stronger and need the cane less and less and that gives me hope!  Not working nights has done wonders for the rest of my health and well being!  

Looking forward, 2018 is full of possibilities and adventure!  It is also the year in which I turn 60!  I'm starting off with a non-RV road trip to Arizona for a couple of weeks.  Then RVing to New Mexico with my friends, then possibly heading for the northwest in March and early April.  Then as a birthday gift to myself, I'm headed to France with a painting group.  We'll spend a few days in Paris, then a week in Giverney, where we will get to paint in Monet's gardens before and after they open to the public each day for a whole week!  I've loved those gardens from afar, so it is a dream come true to get to go and see them and to actually be able to paint in them! Wow!  I am SO excited! 

Then, since getting overseas is half the expense, (or so I tell myself!) I decided to extend my trip and revisit Great Britain for about three weeks, where I hope to spend some time with some friends I made on my 2012 trip and see a corner of the country I didn't get to see before.  I also hope to revisit Cornwall and New Forest, and then maybe a week elsewhere such as the Lake District once again.  

From England, I hope to travel to Amsterdam, where I am hoping to be able to visit with some distant relatives and maybe some crazy quilting friends(?!) before heading to Hamburg, Germany where I will catch the Queen Mary 2 and sail back to New York, via South Hampton, England.  I know it sounds crazy, but the tickets from Hamburg were nearly $1500 less expensive than sailing from South Hampton, even though the voyage is longer!  It will be a good way to reacclimatize slowly to American life after this (second!) trip of a lifetime!  I never thought I'd get to do a trip like this twice in my life!  Though with my reduced circumstances, it's a bit more of a budget trip than last time!  It gives me hope that maybe someday I'll get to do some other travel to far away places such as Japan and India! 

If any of you have suggestions of low cost places to stay in England, the Netherlands, or Hamburg, Germany, I would be grateful to know of them!  

Once back in the States in June, traveling in the RV will kick into high gear.  The kitties and I will be hitting the road and looking for places to explore!  I'm hoping to travel slowly, staying in one place for extended periods of time while getting to know the area.  More than likely, we will head north to places that I haven't seen before!  I'll keep you posted!  And if I'm coming to your area, let me know! I'd love to meet up for tea/coffee or lunch!  I'm also available to do crazy quilt workshops to help cover travel expenses!

So, here's to a new year, new experiences, new places to visit and people to meet!  My only goal this year, is to live a life of faith, stepping out of my comfort zone to go where my Savior leads!  
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.
- Philippians 4:6,7
The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in his way;
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the Lord upholds his hand.
- Psalm 37:23,24
Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
- Proverbs 19:21 

10 November 2017

A New Butterfly Pincushion!

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Ages ago, I started working on this pincushion.  The piecing and embroidery progressed quickly, and the butterfly got off to a good start.  But then as it came time to do the teeny tiny buttonhole stitches around the wired wings, things slowed down.  My aging eyes certainly don't work as well as they used to!  But a new Ott magnifier light made all the difference and this little butterfly finally got finished and now sits on her pincushion!  

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I've done so much stitching in the past couple of years that has fallen outside of my comfort zone and so I wanted to do a pincushion for myself in my favorite colors and fabrics.  The linen and silk fabrics came from an assortment of old skirts of mine and bits of new yardage.  Then I added stitching in my favorites shades of green with touches of white and pale pink.   

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I've always loved the little white butterflies that visited the garden.  Pale green underneath and lovely white on top ~ my favorite colors!  And if you get a chance to look at them up close, some of them have the palest blue eyes!  

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Though my butterfly is a bit larger than the tiny visitors to my past gardens, it sits perched just as lovely above the embroidered foliage! 

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Completing a project like this makes me happy! 

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Will I use it as a pincushion?  Probably not!  More likely, it will sit on my shelf to brighten my day!  

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Creating the butterfly's body was the hardest part for me.  In the end I used a bit of felt and stitched and wrapped some silk chenille around it, incorporating the flower stamen that became the butterfly's feelers.  It turned out a bit larger than anticipated, but still lovely! 

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It's good to be stitching again.  Hoping to spend the remainder of this year getting some other old projects finished before starting on some new things!  

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I think this is the 39th pincushion that I have made!  

18 October 2017

A New Home on the Road!

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When I decided it was time to retire and sell the house, I knew that I wanted to travel and see the U.S.A.  Since the early 1990's it has been a dream of mine to travel the US by RV.  When the time came to actually do it, I had lots of ideas about the type of vehicle I would actually travel in.  For a while, I thought I'd build a tiny home and get myself a big pickup truck to pull it.  Then I thought I might get a good sized RV.  Then a small one.  For a while I thought I would purchase a cargo van and convert it.  Then I became enamored of some tiny handmade Japanese trailers (which I still would love to try building myself).  But reality set in that building or converting something wasn't very practical for me at this time.  I didn't have the space nor the physical capability.  Purchasing a new RV was out of the question and after looking at many of them, I realized I didn't want to drive a huge one.  So I've been looking for a used one that would fit my needs.  

It had to have a dedicated table and chair, a dedicated bed, a functional bathroom, and kitchen area, and mostly, it needed to be 24 feet long or less to facilitate driving, parking, and camping in National Parks.  It would be a bonus if it was fairly well insulated and if the holding tanks were heated.  The vast majority of small RVs had sofa beds that needed to be made up each night, or involved climbing up to a tiny space over the cab.  Very few were well insulated and truthfully, most that I looked at were poorly made and would have needed much work right away, even when new.  Plus, they were ALL brown and ugly inside.  Yuck!   

Then one day while searching, I expanded my search nationwide and at last I found exactly what I was looking for - in Ohio!  After a sleepless night of thinking about it, I looked up the Car-Fax on it, called the dealer, booked a plane ticket for later that same day.  My daughter in law drove me to the airport and I arrived in Detroit at 2:00 a.m.!  After a brief night's sleep at a motel, I rented a car the next morning and drove to the dealer and spent the better part of the day inspecting the RV, test driving it, then doing it all over again, all the while asking a gazillion questions.  I decided I needed to sleep on the decision, but woke the following day knowing she (the RV is definitely a "she", though her name isn't fully decided upon yet!) was going to be my new home on the road!  

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The dealer was great and even helped me return my rental car to Fort Wayne, Indiana, about an hour away from the dealer.  I got to follow along behind my new RV and see how she looked from behind!  

2017.10.04 Mississippi River
It's roughly 1,200 miles from Ohio to Colorado.  A good way to get used to driving a big rig is to get on the road and simply drive!  We crossed the Mississippi River...

2017.10.04 Sunset in Iowa
Drove under a gorgeous sunset in eastern Iowa, stopped for the night in Des Moines, Iowa where I stayed overnight with my cousin, then hit the road again in the morning...

2017.10.04 Missouri River
and we crossed the Missouri River in the rain.  Got pulled over in Omaha, as evidently I looked "suspicious" driving an RV with temporary Ohio tags.  Had to show him my registration and sales paperwork to prove I was the legitimate owner.  Thankfully, that was the biggest excitement of the journey!  

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While driving, I felt like I was driving a huge rig, but parking next to a semi put everything into perspective!  She's about 23 to 24 feet long ~ big enough! We arrived home in Colorado late the second day.  Two long days of driving gave me lots of practice!  Hopefully, there won't be too many long hauls like that in our future.  

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So here's a look at her.  She has comfortable bench seats at the table with plenty of room to spread out a stitching project or some watercolor painting.  The sofa has been replaced with a single bed with lots of storage underneath.  Behind that dolphin panel is a TV and DVD player and more storage.  The dolphins have to go... not quite my taste!

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 One of the first things I did when getting her home to Colorado was to discard the old foam topper and replace it with a new memory foam topper.  I also discarded several brown fleece covers and "drapes"! The bed is slightly smaller to fit the space, so I got out my quilting ruler and a sharp knife and adjusted the topper accordingly! 

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Compared to most of the RVs that I looked at, this one has nice quiet colors and a subtle print.  Much better than some of the wild stuff I've seen!  

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Though the kitchen is small, it's quite functional and the microwave is also a convection oven!  I will miss my toaster oven though.  

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The bathroom is a nice size for a small RV!  

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The 1970's looking psychedelic shower curtain has to go though!  

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There's a good size closet and a set of drawers. 

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Lots of storage under the bed for stitching and art supplies! 

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There is a nifty little fold out counter in the doorway of the kitchen area.  Next to the refrigerator, there is a nice pantry cupboard space. 

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There are a few planned updates, such as a coat of white paint on the interior.  Some new linen slipcovers on the cushions, hopefully some new flooring at some point and other personal touches!  

I think she's going to make a fine home on the road!  

13 September 2017

New Adventures

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A good sign that life is developing some sense of "normal" again, is that I've been stitching again!  Working on this project, a combination of English paper piecing and crazy quilting in some lovely Japanese taupe fabrics.  

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Ol' Trusty got traded in for this new Subaru Outback a couple weeks ago!  Oh my, there are so many bells and whistles on it, that it's going to take some getting used to!  She hasn't earned a name quite yet, but hoping it will be soon as we've already begun our adventures together! 

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We headed for the mountains one day last week.  The aspen trees already beginning to change color in some places.  Fall is definitely in full swing in the mountains. 

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Our first stop was Echo Lake, where I had a nice walk with my cane on the easy trail around the lake.  

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Such a pretty spot!  Quintessential Colorado!  

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This lovely gray jay followed me part of the way hoping for a handout, but I've learned it's better to let them find their own natural foods.  

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The thistles around Echo Lake were a lovely deep shade of plum purple.  

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From Echo Lake, we headed up Mount Evans.  The road winds gradually up the side of the mountain until it tops out at over 14,000 feet high!  

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After Labor Day, the road is closed at Summit Lake so that the high tundra can get a rest before winter sets in and the wildlife has some time to themselves.  At well over 12,000 feet in elevation, it's still pretty high!  

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The path leads around the eastern side of the lake and then if one chooses, there is a rocky steep trail up to the summit of Mount Evans or down towards the Chicago Lakes and Echo Lake.  Too steep for me!  I was content to wander the shores of Summit Lake!  

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The view of the Black Cliff is pretty spectacular.  It's hard to realize the scale in this photo.  

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Looking down the canyon, one has a good view of the Chicago Lakes below.  

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The tundra is in full autumn mode with colors changing rapidly.  

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Lots of beautiful blooms still visible though!  

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And many that one might easily miss if not paying attention!  

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The Mount Evans road is a great place to see Bighorn Sheep and higher up, the Mountain Goats are often around.  Always a treat to see them. 

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There's lots of small wildlife too like this Colorado Least chipmunk busy gathering food for winter!  

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Along the lakeshore, the colors in the grasses were lovely.  Reminded me of some of the scenes I saw in Scotland.  

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Just beautiful!

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At the end of the day, I took the road down and found an overlook where I sat and ate my dinner and watched the gradual sunset.  Loved the shading of the mountain layers. 

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Eventually the sunset came.  The air in Colorado has been filled with smoke from the. many western wildfires and it gave the sun an eerie red glow to it before it disappeared into the haze.  

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The smoke has been thick as the weather patterns have backed it up against the mountains.  I don't think we've truly had a clear day since the eclipse in mid August.  It's a good reminder of all the troubles taking place around the country and indeed around the world.  Many thoughts and prayers going out for all those affected by the fires and the hurricanes and earthquakes.  

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It's not often that we get to see the Colorado landscape appearing misty/cloudy.  Definitely beautiful in its own way, but I'm ready to see some clear blue Colorado skies again!  

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