2021 in Retrospect

At the end of each year, I like to take some time to look back.  It helps me keep life in perspective.  So often, the year passes so quickly and leaves me feeling as though I haven't achieved very much.  Taking time to look over the past year helps me see that I really did accomplish a tremendous amount!  Let's take a look! 

I've journaled for a long time, but this is the first year that I feel like my journal reflects who I am.  It worked better for me than any other type of journalling that I have done, and I am continuing the same format into this year.  I loved doing the watercolor headers for each month, choosing a focus Bible verse as well as listing out the primary tasks that I wanted to accomplish each month.  I do think that this type of journal really helped me to accomplish many of my goals by keeping me focused.  

Like many people do, I choose a word for the year, which was Trust.  I felt like I needed to trust God that everything would work out.  And as usual, when I put my trust in Him, it has!  

I started the journal off with a 2021 page and a verse based on my focus word.  I filled that journal up by the end of July, so I had to start a new one, and did another 2021 page and another focus verse.  I didn't write quite as much in the last few months of the year, so I'm continuing 2022 in the same journal.  I should get about 4 months in it, I think.  

I really wanted to focus on painting this year.  I did a number of small studies, as well as a couple of larger works.  In the lower left, is a larger work based on the small study above it.  I loved seeing my work progress through the year! My favorite painting is the bunny!  I "need" to paint more bunnies!  

Nearly every week during the summer months, I spent a day in the mountains, most often in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I always took my painting supplies along and was able to do so many plein air paintings, both in watercolor and oil paints. 

I also did a fair amount drawing, sketching and watercolor painting at home as well as sketching out ideas for house plans, cards, paintings, and garden plans.  I also swatched all of my watercolor supplies according to the palettes they were in. 

As far as accomplishments go, I really did quite a lot this year!  
* I fixed my old wooden yarn swift, which had been broken for a long time  
*I moved my office into the guest room, and the guest room into the sewing (and now storage room) 
*I completed two books for my big 2018 trip to France (I still have England and the Netherlands to go).
*I scanned several boxes of slides and lots of family photos
*I got the RV repaired and then sold!  
*I published 4 issues of Crazy Quilt Magazine and made the decision to stop publishing
*My son-in-law sanded the front porch for me and I painted the rails  
*I fixed the bathroom ceiling, where a skylight had been removed long before I moved in
*I sewed a few little quilt mats to use on various pieces of furniture
*My sister and I downsized the family genealogy archive from 34 boxes down to 13!!!  Suddenly my storage locker is starting to look a empty-ish! 
*I finished a felted knit pouch I started several years ago
*I made a little pincushion
*I was able to get my garden bed built, installed, filled with dirt, and even got a few things planted!  
*I finished the last of the grandkid's stockings!  
Whew!!!  (And there were a few more that aren't shown, as I didn't necessarily take photos of everything!)

In the spring,  put my house up for sale and went house-hunting.  I made several trips to western Iowa, eastern Nebraska and Kansas in hopes of finding a home in a less expensive area.  I also did. few virtual tours.  I even put in an offer on one of them.  But in the long run, I realized that I did not want to be that far from my family and friends or move to a community where I didn't know anyone, so I took my house off the market and decided to stay put for the time being.  Making this decision, does mean that I must go back to work very soon, which is something I am very anxious about.

Through the course of the year, I took a fair number of photographs.  These are a few of the best ones. As you can tell, I love a good sky, green growing things, flowers, and lovely hoar frost! 

Some of my favorite memories in 2021 revolved around family!  I got to attend birthdays for 3 of the grandchildren!  My oldest son and his wife purchased a new home with some acreage, a long held dream for them! In June, we were able to get the entire family together for the first time in a year and a half!  What joy to all be together!  I loved being able to spend time with the grandkids!  I get to watch them on a fairly regular basis, which sadly will come to an end when I go back to work.  It was so lovely to see everyone at Christmas too!  Unfortunately, everyone in the family came down with covid, either just before or just after Christmas (except me - Thank you vaccinations!) and gratefully, they were all mild cases.  Everyone is now healthy again!  

Mushu is now 2 ½ years old and finally mellowing a little.  We aren't having quite the traumatic/destructive episodes as we had in the first year of his being with me!  He has more personality than almost any other cat I've every known.  Definitely too smart for his own good (or mine!). In August, little Finn joined us!  He is a delight and such a sweetie.  He and Mushu have become good friends and having a playmate has been so good for Mushu!  Finn is a lap cat, which Mushu is not.  I love it!  He often sits with me at the computer, or when I'm painting or drawing!  Truly a sweet companion!  

There wasn't much travel in 2021, other than the very quick trips I made to go house hunting.  But in November, the kitties and I traveled to Tucson to spend Thanksgiving with my sister and her husband!  Mushu isn't much of a traveller (you can see Finn comforting him after a panic attack in the collage above - middle row right), so he'll stay home from here on out, but Finn is a lovely traveler!  

So, though in some ways I found 2021 to be a more difficult year than 2020, it was a good year.  I was able to accomplish a lot of the things that I wanted to, though I didn't get nearly as far as I had hoped to on the big photo/slide scanning project.  Hopefully this year will see that task done!  In all, now that I've had this opportunity to look back and evaluate, I'm really pleased with all that I was able to accomplish!  

One last thing;
** A follow-up note to my last post about the huge fires here in Colorado.  1084 residences were destroyed, 149 sustained significant damage.  Incredibly, my childhood home survived intact!  It appears as though the hundreds of trees and shrubs that my Dad planted helped prevent embers from reaching the house, even though every single house around it was lost in the fires.  So devastating for all.  


Wind and Fire

December 31, 2021

Our family moved to Boulder, Colorado in December 1965 for my Dad’s new job at NCAR.  There wasn’t a house to be found as IBM had moved in six months ahead of us.  My parents purchased a piece of land 7 miles east of Boulder on Davidson Mesa, overlooking the Colorado Front Range and Boulder valley.  


When they built the house, it was the only one on the western grassy slope of Davidson Mesa. Others would slowly be built on neighboring lots over the following years and decades. 



I remember walking the lots and trying to choose which one would be the best to build on.  My folks wanted to be high enough to have unobstructed views of the mountains and of Boulder valley.  As the house was being built, I remember my Mom, the daughter of a masonry contractor, pulling down the brick walls with her hands and telling the workers to build it right with the proper reinforcements and tie downs. The electrician who was having an ongoing feud with the general contractor for some reason, decided to wire the house in a crazy way as payback, which resulted in my Dad and I having to pigtail every outlet in the house and spend days trying to figure out which outlet and switch was on which breaker.  We had to permanently label all the outlets and switches and a room might have been wired to as many as six different breakers. 



We moved in on Halloween, 1966 amidst a snowstorm.  Over 100 kids made their way up the muddy road and driveway to trick or treat that year! 


In the first couple of years, we experienced torrential thunderstorms, which swelled the expansive soils around the house that then cracked the foundation.  We had to have expensive drains dug and placed around the perimeter of the house to keep the home from being torn in two and to keep water out of the lower level.  


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2009.07.25MommyGardenHouse - 102

My parents poured their blood sweat and tears into the home. They created gardens, planted trees and shrubs. They created an environment that the birds and beasts flocked to.  They held parties and gatherings and loved sharing the beauty of their home with others. They hosted guests from all over the world and gave refuge to others when they needed a place to stay.  Despite the house’s problems, it was a special place.


Every winter, the winds would come – the Chinook, that swept down from the mountains, bringing warmth at first, followed by snow as the front moved through.  


 January 6, 1969, one of these windstorms came with winds of 130 mph or more, and with it, devastation.  It took the roof of our home and the roof of one a couple of lots away. It cause two major fires, one on the side of Green Mountain near the Quarry, and the other at Boulder Airport, where it flipped planes, tore apart airplane hangers and burned the airport and planes leaving little behind.  


It was a terrifying experience to have the windows explode outward over my head, to have my Dad slammed into the wall by flying closet doors, to see the 13 foot high wall of living room windows curling into the middle of the living room and to see gaping holes, where ceiling and roof once were; and later to watch the raging fires from the safety of a neighbor’s home throughout the rest of the night.  


1999 Fire

Thirty years later, when I was in a home of my own, we experienced a house fire, two days before Christmas.  The house and our belongings were a near total loss.  We lost two kitties.  But thankfully, my 4 kids had been spending the week with their dad and weren’t at home. I literally had the clothes on my back, my purse and my car.  Everything else was gone.  


It was catastrophic and until it happens to you, the magnitude, while imagined, is not the same as the reality of it.  The smell, the sounds, and the loss of a place where you feel safe and secure – it’s un-imaginably difficult.  


There were blessings too; such as the incredible support that we received from neighbors, the community, and from family, friends, and co-workers.  They carried us through.  We learned that our possessions were just “stuff” and mostly replaceable. We learned that what truly mattered were those we loved.  We were alive.  We were uninjured.  We were together.  And we could, and did, make a new home for ourselves.  New kitties came into our lives, and more than enough stuff to fill a house.  


2004.12.20Wind Damaged Doors02

My parents home was damaged by high winds again in 2004, when winds over 90 mph blew the double front doors right out of their frame.  My dad and I caught them as they blew in and held them in place in 75-90 mph winds while my Mom found and brought us the wood, hammer and nails to secure them in place to prevent further damage.  The framing around the door had to be rebuilt when the door was later replaced.


Yesterday, on December 30, 2021, the two big disasters of my life melded together.  Another ferocious windstorm barreled down, knocking over power lines, that then sparked wildfires in the grasslands at the western end of Davidson Mesa.  The fire spread rapidly pushed by winds of 90 to 115 mph.  As it raced towards the towns of Superior and Louisville on the south side of Davidson Mesa, emergency personnel went frantically to warn and evacuate people ahead of the firestorm.  Miraculously, as of right now, there appear to be no missing people; that everyone may have gotten out  - a true miracle.  Over 35,000 people evacuated ahead of the flames.  


The town of Superior is virtually lost.  Over 500 homes on the western side and the old town area are burned to the ground. The shopping center, including a Target, Costco, and many other shops, are gone.  


As evening wore on, the fire moved into other neighborhoods on the western side of Louisville.  It moved across the top of Davidson Mesa down the northwestern slope where we had lived and on into the Paragon and Spanish Hills neighborhoods.  

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 I watched the news clips, hoping for a glimpse of my childhood home.  And then I saw it for just a few moments; that easily identifiable pattern of windows, unlike any other in the neighborhood, filled with the orange glow of fire.  


While this morning, it appears that a few houses may have survived; it also appears that nearly every home along that side of the mesa while I was growing up has burned.  



This fire takes with it so many memories.  While I never wanted to live in that house again, because of how the wind impacts it on a regular basis (I’m truly terrified by high winds), I will miss knowing that it’s there.  I won’t be able to take my grandchildren to show them the house that their great-grandparents built, lived in, and loved for 43 years.  I will miss knowing that no one will sit and take in the sunrise glow on the mountains from that living room window, or the glorious sunsets over the mountains with Boulder’s twinkling lights in the valley below.  They won’t be able to watch the birds at the feeder from the breakfast table as they enjoy their morning coffee anymore.  The house will no longer be filled with the presence of so many family and friends, as I know the new owners also did.

2006.08.09Heavenly Color 01

My heart hurts for the thousands of people who have lost their homes, and those who also lost their pets. I know what they are experiencing this morning; losing everything they own in the blink of an eye; knowing they have literally thousands of decisions to make over then next few weeks and months as they rebuild their lives.  

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It is so hard to put into words all the things I am feeling about this tragedy in my home region of Boulder County, Colorado right now.  All the disasters of my life seem rolled together in this new one.  And while I am not directly impacted, it erased the areas of my growing up years.  It has brought these earlier disasters back into sharp focus.  The old anxieties have resurfaced as what was once familiar is now changed irrevocably.  Life will go on, and the old home will live on in our memories and the photos that remain to us.  And I'm enormously grateful that the loss of life appears to miraculously be zero as I write this.  The things that are important, aren't our houses, the views, but the people who live within them, and those still remain!  

I pray that all these people who have lost homes will once again find peace and joy, new homes, and that they cherish their loved ones and hold them close.


Vlogmas Day 19 - The Last Stocking!

A short video on making the last stocking for the grandkids!  Enjoy!  

I've been having such fun creating "Vlogmas" videos nearly every day this month!  It was a last minute whim to do, and I've really been enjoying it.  Such fun to create simple little videos about how I'm preparing and celebrating the Christmas season this year!  


Vlogmas Day 7

I've been posting a video YouTube nearly every day this month!  Enjoy!  


June & July - Catching Up

 I've been missing in action for the past couple of months.  Thought I'd try to catch up just a little! 2021.05.31JuneJournal.wm-4

This is the header for June in my journal.  I used a photo I had taken in England as a reference.  I loved the mix of daisies and wild grasses that filled the orchards.  


One of the biggest tasks of June, was getting the family genealogy archive downsized to a more manageable level.  In all, there were 34 boxes to go through.  Daunting to say the least! 


Thankfully, my sister came to help!  We managed to pare those 34 boxes down to 13.  Five of them hold the actual genealogy records and our Mom did a fabulous job of putting that together.  One of these days, I'll get it scanned and hopefully be able to downsize those boxes into 4 or 5 books.  Both my Mom and Dad did extensive writing about their lives and even before their deaths, I had been helping to compile their memoirs into a book format.  I work on it here and there and hope to have my Dad's done in the near future.  They each have 3 boxes of memoirs and memorabilia.  And then I have 2 of things that I've kept over the years.  We downsized my stuff too!  So in all, just 13 boxes - much more manageable than 34!  It took us a week!  


The thunderclouds were amazing the day I took my sister back to the airport!  This is the aftermath, which wasn't nearly as epic, but still beautiful none the less!  We seem to be going from extreme to extreme.  It's either rainy and cool for a week or overwhelmingly hot and exceptionally dry.  I'm so grateful that we have had the rainy periods as it is easier to make it through the hot dry spells.  


July's journal heading is a watercolor of mountain pines and aspen.  Fitting as I've been trying to spend a day every week in the mountains!  It's definitely my happy spot these days.  


I really love the watercolor tabs on my journal!  July will finish off this one and I'll start a new one with August.  


Some of my mountain visits start in the early hours of the morning, so that I can get up there just as the sun crests the horizon.  Love these early mornings.  This was in early June.  The East Troublesome Fire spread through this valley and the ridge in the background.  The meadows have recovered beautifully.  The trees are struggling.  Most of the ones you see as red will die before next summer if they haven't already.  In places, there are still healthy trees, which are a joy to see!  


I make a point of painting each and every visit I make to the mountains.  On this visit I did an oil Plein air of Big Thompson Creek.  Can you see the elk that was watching me from the bend in the river?! 


It had been a while since I'd done a plein air oil painting.  I got caught up in the excitement and forgot to do the things that help me create a more successful painting.  I'm still happy with it though!  For me, painting is mostly about the journey.  In truth, I have little space left on my walls for more paintings.  One of these days, I'm going to have to put some up for sale! 


I loved those early mornings before the sun came up!  June had some amazing sunrises!  


On this day I hiked up to Alberta Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I scrambled down a steep slope and found a steady perch on a large rock where I did this watercolor plein air sketch!  Such a gorgeous spot!  I could have spent a lot more time there, but rocks aren't the most comfortable place to sit for long periods of time.  


I feel like I always struggle painting water, but I'm really happy with this one!  Using a white gel pen helps me add highlights after the painting is done. 


Beautiful Albertal Falls!  


Another day I went to Brainard Lake.  The Indian Peaks Wilderness is probably my favorite spot in Colorado.  We spent countless hours here while I was growing up.  My dad climbed most if not all those peaks in this view and led many hikes and climbs over the course of his life.  I've been up a few of them too, especially Mount Audubon, the peak on the right.  I've climbed it at least three times.  Also the ridge to the left, which is mostly out of view in this photo.  Niwot Ridge is the gateway to the peaks on the left.  I'm not nearly as capable of intense hikes like these now, so I opted to take a slow walk around Brainard Lake in the foreground.


I stopped along Mitchell Creek and did a sketch in gouache.  It's an opaque form of watercolor and handles a little differently.  The colors are more intense, so I was out of my comfort zone!  But fun to try and I think I captured the feeling of the place. 


The Marsh Marigolds and Globe Mallow were in bloom, so I was glad to be able to capture them in the sketch! 

There were lots of other things that happened in May, June and July - mostly house hunting in Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska.  I made 4 different trips to look at 12 houses.  I made one offer - refused as they had what they hoped were better offers.  I later heard that they fell through.  So, for the time being I'm staying put and have taken my house off the market, but I do need to find a job in the near future.  

One of the happiest things to happen in June was getting the entire family together for the first time in 16 months!  Love this photo of the grandkids with me!  

The whole family!  We took these at a park near where I live.  It was an overcast and damp day, but we were able to get our photos in between rainstorms!  While I've been blessed to see each family group individually during this past Covid-impacted year, I dearly missed having my family all together.  To finally be able to gather together was emotional and wonderful!  Truly, it was the best gift I've had in a long, long time.  


May Journal & May Issue of CQ Mag

Lilacs are the theme for May's journal!  Lilacs are probably my favorite flower, especially when it comes to scent.  All the more treasured due to their short bloom time! I was a little late getting this one set up, but managed to get it done on May 2nd.  I played with a looser version of lilacs than I've painted previously.  

There have been lots of changes going on in my life for the past couple of weeks, and it is reflected in my task list.  Notice all the packing!  Well... things have changed again, and so that's going to get postponed if not cancelled for now.  More on that in another post.  

The RV repairs have hit some snags.  We replaced the battery disconnect and the relay, which controls the flow of power from the batteries to the RV.  But now, there is no power flowing to the relay, despite everything appearing to be intact.  So, once again, we are at square one.  I really need to get this fixed so I can get it sold.  I'm not using it and it costs me money every month in insurance and it's taking up space at my good friends farm.  Time to let it go, but it sure seems to be a struggle to get it ready to sell.  I don't want to invest lots of money into it, but it does need a few basic things in running order.  Sigh.  

I changed the Covid tracking this month in anticipation of a possible move to either Nebraska or Iowa.  Despite their lower populations, I discovered that their rates of infection and deaths are in the top 10 states in the USA for covid infections per million people.  Colorado is 44th.  

It has been good having a spending tracker.  Helps me to see where my money is going.  I was trying to do this on a spreadsheet on the computer, but I wasn't getting it filled out.  With this, I'm able to put the receipts here and fill it in more consistently. It appears I spend money on the cat, on books for the kindle, and snacks.  Need to work on the snacks and eliminate them!  That would probably help my weight!  I struggle with craving salty crunchy snacks.  Goldfish crackers are my snack of choice.  Carrots just don't have the same impact! 

So, here it is the May spread.  I may need to re-do the house hunt/pack portion to reflect how the month has already changed for me. 

Crazy Quilt Magazine May 2021

Crazy Quilt Magazine: Crazy Quilt Magazine May 2021

Crazy quilting, 2020 Challenge Project, Issue #3

Find out more on MagCloud

In other news, the May Issue of Crazy Quilt Magazine is out!  Featuring the work of 8 crazy quilters and their 2020 challenge projects!  Beautiful work!  I hope you'll check it out!