First Embroidery, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Thank you so very much for your thoughtful and caring comments about my Dad this past couple of weeks. They have been a balm to my heart.

When I was spring cleaning before my surgery, I came across a box of embroidery projects. Looking at those projects, most of whom have not seen the light of day for nearly 20 years, I was amazed at how many things I'd embroidered over the years ~ and also how many I started but never completed! It got me looking at all the things on my linen shelf that I had done, some of which were so worn out that I salvaged bits and pieces to use in other projects. The little bluebird doily is the first piece that I remember working on as a girl. My mother finished it by putting the lace around it. Somewhere, I think I have another still to be finished piece of this.

Embroidery Practice 1
I must have been in Junior High or High School, when my real interest in embroidery took off. I was given a stack of old embroidery transfers and my Mom and I cut bits of old cotton sheets to use as guest towels, which I then embroidered. This basket of flowers was one of the first, where I worked on stem stitch and lazy daisies.

Embroidery Practice 2
From there, I progressed to satin stitch by working on this poinsettia. How I wish now that I'd worked on a higher quality cloth!

Embroidered Hearts
I was fascinated by the idea of creating beautiful linens for my "hope chest" even though I didn't really have a chest to store them in! They had such lovely pillow slips available to embroider back then and this pair of slips with the hearts on them was one of the first ones I did.

Embroidered Violets
Violets have long been one of my favorite flowers, so I had to do a pair with violets on them. My color sense was still developing as you can see. They are a bit bright compared to most of the things I do!

Embroidered Pillowslips
My favorite pair of pillowslips were these with the pale pink and green flowers. By now, my stitching had really made progress and the stitches were ever so tiny and perfect.

From there, I progressed to working on a table cloth to match the Blue Danube dishes that I had been collecting. I worked on this through much of high school, sitting in one of the school libraries, stitching away during my free periods. There were many bets placed by classmates as to whether or not I would get it finished before graduation. No, I didn't make it, as it is only about half completed. There are many, many hours of stitching in this cloth!

It was finding this table cloth and taking a close look at the fine stitches that made me realize how loose my stitching has become the past few years. Once my stitching gets back up to that level, I'll work on it once more so that someday, my daughter, who now has that set of dishes, can use it.

Lilacs Dresser Scarf
One of the unfinished embroidery projects I came across was this lilac runner. Lilacs have always been my favorite flower and for many years, my bedroom was decorated in a lilac theme.

Embroidered Lilacs
Once again, I was amazed at the teeny tiny stitches.

Back of work
Even the back is fairly neat and shows the precise little stitches! So this is the project I'm working on at the moment. Working on getting back to those fine stitches. It's nice for a change to work for a while on something that doesn't take a lot of thought and creativity, just a focus on stitching.

I just love that embroidery is once again becoming so popular!


Eulogy for My Father

Myron N. Plooster, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

How can I remember my Father to you, to make his memory live for each one of you the way it will live for me?

Shall I tell you of his history and his achievements? That he was born a South Dakota farm boy, the much cherished and loved elder son. That he graduated high school at 16, having skipped two grades. That he went on full scholarship and graduated from South Dakota State University and later Princeton University where he achieved a PhD in Chemistry, Summa cum Laude? That he became a leading and respected world-class research scientist?

Shall I tell you of his great intellect? How his mind was so sharp that he could read complex computer programs as though they were novels or solve the trickiest puzzles. How he could do the math in his head faster than most of us could do it with a calculator. Shall I tell you how his memory for the majority of his life was instantaneous, vast and powerful? How he could read a page and later recall it at will? Or remember the date of anything that happened in his life or the name of everyone he ever met? How ironic then that in his last years, that this is the thing that was taken from him.

Shall I tell you of his sense of honor, his humility, and his contentment with life? How he loved his wife and his daughters? How he loved his sisters and brother? How he respected and looked up to his parents? How he loved his job. How despite his abundance of gifts, he was never proud nor arrogant and how he used those gifts to serve others. How he chose not to use his expertise in explosives to create weapons of mass destruction, but turned instead to finding ways to keep our soldiers safer on the battlefield or on board ship? Or to finding better ways of doing things, whether it was something as simple as shipping flowers, or what kind of busses to use on Highway 36 between Denver and Boulder or as complex as how to safely store oil reserves in old salt mines on the Gulf coast or experiments on board the space shuttle. How he used his gift of music to lead others in giving praise and glory to God rather than seeking riches and glory for himself?

I could tell you of his interests, his love of music, particularly the sacred choral and organ music of the church and especially of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. How he sang with a rich tenor voice capable of filling the largest sanctuary with glorious music? (Without needing a microphone) Or his deep love of nature and his love of the mountains, of hiking, climbing and camping, that he was a true mountaineer at heart? How he climbed every mountain peak that we could see from our home, many more than once. How even as a child he loved to be alone in the woods, watching the birds. How as an adult, he always had the binoculars with him to watch the birds or how he could identify them by their song and with his sharp eyes, sight the rarest birds. How he loved to share these interests with others? How he stood and watched the weather, always, until he understood intimately the patterns of the sky and what they foretold?

Shall I tell you of his personality? How he was a quiet man, introverted and thoughtful. How he was patient and kind. Slow to anger. And how deserved such anger was on those rare occasions it did occur? That he was slow to speak and didn’t speak unnecessarily, and how he never spoke a word that he later regretted. How he was well read and held an opinion only after having considered at all the facts. That he was precise and methodical, a perfectionist in all he did. That he had a love of language and a turn of phrase? That he had an almost impish sense of humor at times and how his face would light up with it. How he was a gentle man, always kind and caring.


Shall I tell you of his faith, His commitment to God that never faltered? How he served in the church both as an Elder and through the music program, singing in the choir, occasionally directing it, heading up the organ committee that chose the glorious Cassavant Organ in the sanctuary at First Presbyterian Church in Boulder, Colorado.

All these things give a glimpse into my Father’s life, snippets of our memories of him.
In these past few years, as my Father’s memory faded, he took delight in nature, in watching the clouds at sunset over the mountains. He saw beauty all around him. He cherished his daily walks. He giggled over a turn of words and took great delight in the puns that the rest of us missed until he showed them to us, even as his memory failed. In his last years, he spoke often of his loving relationships with his sisters and brother whom he cherished. He expressed over and over again how much he loved his wife, and what an amazing woman she is. He shared his pride and his worries about his daughters and grand children. And he shared his memories of the people he admired most in life particularly his own mother, Gertrude Nieveen Plooster and his Father-in-law, Dan Fernandez.

In these later years, we watched my father come full circle. Becoming once again like the boy he once was. It was hard to watch at times, and who among us fully understands why things happen the way they do. But then I’m reminded of Jesus teaching in the book of Matthew, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3-4. And I know that my Father entered the kingdom of Heaven as innocent and pure as a child

Daddy birdwatching in Holland
And so, at the last, how will I remember my Father? I will remember his deep and quiet faith that was ever present. I will remember his gentleness, his strength, and his humility. I will remember him brushing my hair out ever so gently on a Sunday morning before church when I was a child. I will remember Holly and I coercing him to read Dr. Seuss out loud to us and loving how he would chuckle and giggle at the rhymes. I will remember him napping by lying out on the living room floor. I will remember him standing windblown on the top of a mountain peak. I will remember him standing in quiet stillness in a copse of trees with the binoculars watching the birds. I will remember him sitting in his chair in the living room, leg crossed, reading the newspaper with a cat cradled gently in his arms. I will remember his rich tenor voice filling the sanctuary with heartfelt praise to God.

I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he resides in God’s presence, singing as only he could sing, worshiping and giving glory to God.

Daddy Mommy with roses 25Dec05 04


My Dad

Daddy 02, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

My Dad passed away peacefully at 9 pm on May 14th. How I will miss him. Despite the sorrow, there is joy that he is now resting with God.

May the Lord Bless you and keep you Daddy.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace.
numbers 6: 24-26


Happy Mother's Day!

It seems appropriate on this Mother's Day to post a picture of both my Mom and my Dad (with me at 4 months of age) today.

My Dad had a significant stroke on Friday and is in observation for a few days before they determine if he needs nursing home or hospice care.

Thankfully, I'm doing well enough after my surgery to have made the drive home to be with my family.

My Mom has been taking care of my Dad, who has advanced Alzheimer's, at home and doing an amazing job of it. At nearly 80, she is still involved in many activities with the Garden Club, Bird Club, Busy Bees, Bowling and playing MahJong.
She is an amazing woman!


Travels with Jonathan

I'm feeling so well after my surgery, that Jonathan and I decided to head south towards Tucson for three days before he left. He likes to take photographs as much as I do, so we travel together very well! Our first stop was Montezuma Well National Monument.

Montezuma Well trail
Spring was well underway here and near the water the trees were lush and green while the top was still very much desert. I love the path through the trees and all the blooming wildflowers!

Montezuma Well Outlet
We walked down to the outlet to view the 1,000 year old irrigation ditch, which to me is one of the prettiest spots in Arizona.

Yellow Columbine
The yellow columbines were blooming!

Arizona Sycamore
The Arizona Sycamores with their white and shades of grey puzzle bark were reaching for the sky over the rim of the well.

Montezuma Castle
A few miles down the road, we stopped to see Montezuma Castle National Monument and it's spectacular cliff dwelling.

Engelmann Prickly Pear
After getting our hotel room in Tucson, we went out to Saguaro National Park East for a preview. The Engelmann Prickly Pear were all budded and blooming! Such lush blossom buds!

Saguaro in bloom
The saguaro were just starting to bloom as well!

Saguaro Sunset
Saguaro cactus make for some wonderful sunset photographs! How lovely to be outside without needing a sweater, even at dusk! (It's still quite chilly in Flagstaff!)

Cat Claw Acacia (I think)
The next day we took a more leisurely look at Saguaro East. A walk along one of the washes revealed all sorts of interesting trees in bloom, like this Cat Claw Acacia.

Mesquite Tree in bloom
Lots of yellow blooms in the desert, such as these long blooms on the Velvet Mesquite.

Saguaro in bloom
And of course, there were more blooming saguaro to see! It's almost like all the branches are holding wedding bouquets!

Cholla Flowers
The Cholla were blooming with wine red flowers and the brightest yellow stamens and pollen!

Prickly Pear Bloom with Bee
The prickly pear blossoms start off bright yellow...

Prickly Pear Cactus Bloom
And as they age, turn a lovely peach color! They are just loaded with pollen and lots of insect and bird activity!

Cholla wood
Even the old skeletons of the cholla cactus is interesting. Love the patterns and color. Jonathan called it Tarantula wood and I must admit that I'm quite glad I didn't find any lurking!

San Xavier del Bac
On our third day, we visited the San Xavier del Bac Cathedral. The stunning white tower against the deep blue sky is stunning!

San Xavier del Bac 1
The morning sun was creeping over the wall. I loved the effect of light and shadow.

San Xavier del Bac Altar
Inside the Cathedral, the gilded altar immediately captures attention. They still had lilies decorating the front from Easter.

San Xavier del Bac ceiling
I love the painted domed ceilings and effect of folds of fabric.

San Xavier del Bac decor
This motif runs all around the church. The rope is the "Tie that Binds" all believers together in the church. The two "fabric" layers below that are the hem of Aaron's robe, decorated with pomegranate and tassels.

San Xavier del Bac vestmant
In the associated museum, they detail the history of the San Xavier Mission going back to the late 1700's. One of the displays includes this magnificent hand embroidered vestment that I love. Amazing embroidery!

Saguaro Blossoms n buds
Before heading back to Flagstaff, we made a stop at Saguaro National Park West. We found a saguaro with blooms and buds at eye level! Usually they are way over ones head! I love the texture of the buds.

Saguaro Pictographs
Our last stop before returning home, was to see the pictographs at the Signal Hill picnic area in Saguaro. In all the times I've been to Saguaro, I'd never stopped to see them. It never fails to amaze me how things such as this were created with the most rudimentary tools!

Here is Conrad, Jonathan's beautiful Australian Shepherd, who traveled with us. He loves to sit in chairs! I think he was feeling a little left out while Jonathan and I were working on a project! Now they have headed back to Colorado. The apartment is very quiet, but I'm using the time to finish a couple of projects and I'm enjoying a little more time off before I have to be back at work!