April Mornings

A stop at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge yesterday morning on my way home from work resulted in this little watercolor sketch!  Loved the morning light streaking across the grassy areas and how the dark tree trunks and haze of new leaves contrasted with it.  Too windy to see much in the way of wildlife.  Although I was blessed to see something just as I was leaving, which I'll share at the end of this post! 

After much fiddling, I finally got my new (to me) little featherweight sewing machine up and running well!  Recently, I also acquired a tiny steam iron.  With an ironing mat, the whole works fits on a folding wooden TV tray table!  Perfect!  I keep dreaming of downsizing to a tiny house of some sort, whether I actually end up building my Rosebud Cottage, or try RV living at some point, I've been wanting to get things down to smaller sizes.  With this little set up, I feel like I'm on my way! 

I've been doing a lot of stitching, but on things I cannot share yet.  To warm up on my stitching days, I've been piecing together patches for "Mollie Feathers".   Slowly but surely!  Hoping to have this assembled soon so that I can begin the decorative stitching on the borders! 

Back to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR.  As I was leaving, I scanned the trio of large cottonwood trees near the entrance.  The adjacent property is undergoing massive earthmoving in preparation for development and many were concerned that they would rip out these trees, which are known for the great horned owl nest that they host.  Thankfully, though they have moved dirt within just a couple of feet of them, they spared the trees, at least for now.  I wasn't sure there any activity in them this year.  But then, I spied that bumpy "knob" on the curve of the branch!  

Those knobs turned out to be three great horned owlets, near to fledging!  And if you look at the left side of the main trunk, you can get a glimpse of one of the adults feathers blowing in the wind!  So delightful to see them!  

Sadly, the owl pair that used to nest in my neighbor's tree has had a difficult couple of years.  One of the adults was killed last autumn after losing both owlets in the nest in the spring.  I have on occasion seen an owl in the area since then, but not nearly as often as before.  


Spring Recovered!

After all the snow and ice left, spring was still present at my house!  I was so heartsick over how all that beauty was going to be lost with the snowstorm, but all over the area, it springing back!  So very grateful!  The nice thing is that the storm brought much needed moisture to our area ~ almost 3" of precipitation, which for arid Colorado is a lot!  

Last night, the evening sunshine lit up this crabapple tree with golden light and the sight of it drew me outside. This tree was still in bud when the snow hit and as you can see from the first photo, is still coming into its full glory.  

Even the tree that I photographed the day before the storm that was in full glorious bloom continues to bloom beautifully!  

The forsythia retained its blossoms and the tulips all survived!  

Along the side of the driveway, they continue forth in glorious abandon between the still blooming lilacs!  

In the side garden, the violets are blooming!  

Inside, I've been stitching away on a few projects that I can't share just yet.  I've also been playing with a few small things for the house.  I found this pattern for these coasters on Pinterest and have been creating a stack of them in the evenings when I can't see well enough to stitch!  Much better than the old worn out cork ones that I have been using!  


Perfect Spring

Apple blossoms!  Their fragrance saturates the air on this lovely spring morning.  In the park beyond, the trees are covered in an ethereal haze of tiny green leaves.  Almost as perfect as can be.  Except for the forecast of heavy snow that is supposed to arrive tomorrow.  It's almost enough to make one cry. 

I long for days like this when the air is redolent with the fragrance of blossoms, the green becomes more brilliant every day and the spring bulbs literally bloom overnight.  This year, everything is blooming at once, which in Colorado is a rarity.  In years past, the apples typically blossom in May about the same time the lilacs usually bloom.  But this year, everything is early.  Glorious to have such abundance all at the same time! Such perfect days.  I wish they could last, unsullied by snow, for weeks.  

Rising early in the morning, the sunlight lights the forsythia with a golden glow.  

Such a glorious riot of warm color! 

Underneath, pale blue and white grape hyacinths bloom, along with a few tulips.  The creeping thyme is coming out of winter slumber.  

Across the path, the tulips seem to know that they must bloom today in order to beat the coming cold and snow.  

The white bleeding hearts couldn't wait either and where there were just stalks and green leaves yesterday, this morning suddenly there are cascades of blossoms! 

The young lilac hedge planted just two short years ago is bursting into bloom as well.  My favorite scent and flowers of spring.  I will clip some of these blossoms to bring inside and enjoy despite the snow, in hopes that they will perfume the house along with some apple blossoms ~ my second favorite scent of spring!  Don't you wish they would bring back the purity of simple flower fragrances like these?

The pansies planted last fall along with some mums have been blooming quietly for a while now.  With the warm days, their tiny flowers have tripled in size! 

The aspen trees have hung clusters of brilliant heart shaped leaves from every twig and bud.  

The creeping phlox that has grown ever so slowly has turned into a lovely mat of icy lavender flowers this year.  

From the kitchen window over the stove, I had a morning view of the neighbor's cherry tree bursting into pristine white blossoms.  Rather like a dream.  

In a walk around the yard, I was surprised by the clouds of yellow blossoms on the holly shrub along the patio.  

Yet another shrub bears lovely twinned pink blossoms among it's fresh green leaves. 

Along the street, an ornamental shrub bears red, red leaves and palest pink blossoms.  

All so glorious!  How it hurts my heart to know that tomorrow, all this beauty will be covered in snow.  But it also makes my appreciation and joy of this beauty today, so much greater.


A Renewal Day

Sunday dawned with clear blue skies.  While enjoying my morning cup of tea, I realized how restless I was, how I wanted to be out of the house and away from the ever-growing list of chores and things to be done.  A day away from the routine.  A day just for me.  Why not?  Most days, I talk myself out if it and end up staying home working on things that need done.  Instead, this time, taking a day off from the usual won out.  

I packed up my watercolor sketchbook, camera and binoculars, packed a wee bit of lunch and headed for one of my favorite spots: Rocky Mountain National Park.  Though the air and wind had a chill in it, what a gorgeous day it was!  The sky intensely blue, the ponds reflected the sky and the snow capped peaks shone like beacons.  

I made my first stop of the day at Sheep Lakes on the western end of Horseshoe Park.  It was a great spot to stop and sketch.  

While sketching, this magpie kept me company, often begging for handouts with a chirring call, then sitting on the bench preening his feathers.  Though most of the time they appear black and white, when the sun hits them just so, they gleam with the most beautiful blue and green iridescence! 

After finishing my watercolor sketch, I made my way over to Moraine Park where the big elk herd was resting in the meadow.  

Further up the road, the mountain peaks were gleaming against the blue sky and the willows coming to life glowed yellow, orange and red.  

Along the streams, the snow forms shelves that reach out across the water where it melts from below.  

Around Sprague Lake, someone built this friendly snowman and a snow fort!  The snow here was level with the tops of the picnic tables still! 

I love the contrasts of the blue and white remnants of winter against the spring growth willows.  

Moraine Park again.  The elk herd was up and grazing their way slowly across the meadow.  

Longs Peak, looking majestic as ever.  My Dad made it to the top of this 14, 259 foot mountain on a few occasions, one of the with my sister!  Should my hip and sacra-illiac joints ever get better, it's a hike I'd love to accomplish myself one day.  

Trail Ridge Road is still closed for the season.  The peaks are still getting a fair amount of snow every week.  The road traditionally opens Memorial Day weekend every year.  

That glow along the left edge of this peak is blowing snow, glowing in the sun!  Still frosty and wintry up high! 

Most of the elk were in the large herd in the meadow, but this small group was grazing  in synchrony as they worked their way across the hillside!   

Beautiful and yet somewhat ungainly critters!  

I spent the evening hours in Moraine Park, watching the elk and watching the sunlight play across the meadow.  

The golden hour.  Such a gift to be able to simply sit and enjoy this beautiful place.  

Watching the setting sun kiss the clouds with light.

And at the end of the day, a quieted heart and soul.  

The Mighty One, God the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Psalm 50:1

From the rising of the sun to its setting
the name of the Lord is to be praised!
Psalm 113:3


Of Projects, Kitties, and Easter

Several projects underway to hopefully complete this month!  For the CQJP 2015 quilt, I had a small piece of green fabric that I just loved as the background.  But it wasn't enough.  I looked at nearly every quilt shop in the Denver/northern Colorado area in an attempt to find more or something different that would work as well.  NO such luck.  I had purchased the piece from a vendor at the annual Denver Quilt and Sewing show, so on Friday morning, I was first in line to get through the door and made a beeline for my favorite vendor that always had a wonderful selection of batik fabrics and was probably where I purchased the original piece.  As luck (or God's blessing!) would have it, they had a single yard of the fabric left and two 1/2 yard pieces.  I bought them all!  Sadly the vendor is retiring and this was their last show.  I will miss their selection of fabrics, but how grateful I am to have found exactly the fabric I wanted to finish this quilt!

I'm also working on my Mollie Feathers project and hope to have it completed this month as well.  Then there is a smaller piece... but more about that will have to wait for a much later date!  It too needs to be completed before the month is over!  Lots to work on!  Must say that it is very inspiring to have these three projects to work on this month!

Kitzy Cat has had a spring project as well.  She has a terribly thick coat of fur with an even thicker undercoat.  She sheds huge amounts of fur all year long, in big ugly clumps that I clean from the furniture and floor daily. So much fur also causes her to produce numerous hairballs ~ several a day.  The fur gets so long and thick that it makes it hard for her to move sometimes.  Though she looks pretty magnificent, she tends to be timid, sullen, not very friendly and has a hard time keeping her food down when her coat looks like this.  

My daughter-in-law Becca is a Vet Tech for a cat hospital and she gave Kitzy a "lion" haircut this past week!  I know that some people would consider doing one of these lion cuts on a cat to be akin to abuse, but if they could the transformation that it induces in Kitzy, they would change their mind!  She is friskier, happier, friendlier, doesn't cough up hairballs multiple times a day, keeps her food down and is the spunkiest, proudest cat you can imagine after her haircut!  Though she looks a little goofy, she's so much happier!  Such a dramatic, positive change from her usual sullen, timid self!  

The week before Easter, I was to go on a birding trip to Nebraska to see the Sandhill Cranes.  The trip was cancelled because of a spring blizzard!  I had to drive home from work in it.  55 miles of stop and go and poor visibility.  What looks like snow on the windshield is actually blowing snow.  Truly horizontal.  The roads were icy and miserable, but it was the wind I was most concerned about.  With the ice on the road, I thought it was more likely to be blown off the road rather than to simply slide off due to the ice.  Made it home (very slowly!) safe and sound and was quite happy to miss the birding trip!  Though the two people of our group who managed to make it there did get to see a rare whooping crane!  In all, Greeley got off easy with about 6-8" of snow, but the Denver area got hammered with nearly 2 feet of snow!

Easter was lovely!  The snow melted  and while it was chilly out, it was a nice sunny day!  It was made even better by having most of my kids spend the afternoon and evening at my house!  We had such a good time that none of us ever thought to stop and photos of us altogether!

The only photos I took this year were of the table while I was getting things ready.  The table was very simple this year.  Later it was filled with our traditional Easter dinner of Ginger Chicken, asparagus, Mandarin salad, lemon jello salad, deviled eggs, hot cross buns, an assortment of homemade pickles, and long grain and wild rice.  Dessert was a yummy lemon pound cake with lemon glaze and fresh strawberries!  All homemade from scratch and all very yummy! We've been making the same menu for over 30 years! 

Tulips and daffodils in a green teapot with the new little bunnies that my sister sent me made for a sweet centerpiece!  

On the sideboard, a pot of silk snowdrops that used to belong to my mother and the ribbon flower garland that I made several years ago dressed up the two hurricane candle holders.  It was nice to keep things simple this year.  Just a few touches that can happily stay out for the remainder of spring!

Our Easter prayer this year (adapted from "Celtic Prayers of Iona" by J. Philip Newell):

O God who brought us from the rest of last night
  to the new light of this day
Bring us in the new light of this day
  to the guiding light of the eternal.
Lead us O God on the journey of justice
Guide us O God on the pathways of peace
Renew us O God by the wellsprings of grace
Today, tonight and forever. 

May those without shelter be under your guarding this day O Christ
May the wandering find places of welcome.
O son of the tears, of the wounds, of the piercings,
May your cross this day be shielding them.

On our hearts and on our houses
The blessing of God.
In our coming and in our going
The peace of God.
In our lives and in our seeking
The love of God.
At our end and new beginning
The arms of God to welcome us and bring us home.