Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday

 This is Daisy.  Her owners came to dinner last night and Daisy came, too.  She was a very welcome guest and a happy one,  especially when she figured out that there was a cat in the house.  Daisy loves cats!  In this photo she is staring intently at Fetcher, hoping that he will play with her.


Paul took it upon himself to coax Fetcher downstairs and the two of them sat watching Daisy while Daisy watched Fetcher.  


They never did become quite the friends that Daisy hoped,  but by the end of the evening they could at least be in the same space without a fuss.   


Daisy got a kiss from her Dad for her good behavior! 


 Our good friend, Paula, had a birthday on Thursday and we were invited to help celebrate the big event.


It was a fun evening.  I thought it was cute when all the iPhones came out to record the big moment when the candles were lighted.  


Happy Birthday, Paula! It's such a treat to live close enough to be part of these happy occasions. 


I offered to make the cake and was surprised when Paula requested German Chocolate, which is my favorite as well.  I thought it looked pretty festive and it tasted good, too, thanks some  "high altitude" cooking tips I found online.  Turns out you can't bake at 5500 feet the way you can at sea level.  You have to use less sugar, use more flour and liquid, increase the oven temp, and decrease the cooking time.  Whew!  It was a bit nerve wracking and I was glad it all worked out.  .     


The topic last week in photography class was "windows" and I submitted this photo of a window in an artist's studio in North Boulder.  I love the reflection of the tree in the window and the contrast of the round window against the arched roof and wavy fence.  I wasn't satisfied with the color and as I view the photo now I see what was bothering me.  The sky is white like the roof, and that's probably not right.  I probably over lightened it when I was playing around in Lightroom and Photoshop.  To say I'm at the beginning of a big learning curve with these two programs is an understatement! But I'm learning. 


We've had a gorgeous day today with lots of sunshine and warm temperatures.  Seems like everyone was outside walking, hiking, biking, and gardening.  Hard to believe it is still January.  Ben and I went for a long walk.  I've learned that if you aren't going up, up, up and then down, down, down, it's not called a hike in these parts; it's a walk.  We went up and then down, and then up and then over and were pleasantly tired out after an hour and a half walking.  At one point we found ourselves at the Green Mountain Cemetery and admired the beautiful views of the foothills from there.


Fetcher has been enjoying this spring-like day, running in and out of the house, eating grass, and doing what cats do outside.  What this one does is hunt and I just answered his "meow" at the door to find that he had caught and brought me a good-size mouse.  I admired his catch for a few minutes but when he started to eat it, I said goodbye and came back in to finish this blog.  There are some parts of your cat's life that should remain private!



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Big Hike

It's 8:15 on Wednesday morning and I'm still in bed, watching the snow falling outside our big windows.  Ben is beside me reading about last night's State of the Union address on his laptop and I presume that Paul is asleep in his basement teen heaven.   

It's set to snow 2-4" today but that's not why we are getting a slow start.  Paul doesn't start school today until noon since all the teachers are needed to proctor a practice ACT test being given to the Junior class this morning, and Ben and I are resting from a big hike we did yesterday.  Soon enough we will all be up and about, but for the moment we are luxuriating in the peace of this snowy morning. 

The big hike of yesterday was the Mesa Trail, "the pride of Boulder, the central artery of one of the finest hiking trail systems in the US.   This rolling diverse trail runs 6.7 miles stretching between Boulder and Eldorado Springs with connections to nearly all canyon trails along Boulder’s Front Range."  ( Trail Girl )

You can see how it hugs the Front Range on this map.  We started at point 18, leaving a car at the South Mesa Trailhead, hiked to point 1, Chautauqua Park, and then walked the half mile 6th Street (to the left of point 1) down to our house.  



Here's another description of this trail:
The Mesa Trail is the main artery along the foothills of Boulder. This trail runs north-south between Chautauqua Park and Eldorado Springs and is intersected by most of the mountain trails of the area. Although there is no real elevation change from its northern point to its southern point, there is plenty of elevation change along the way. The trail climbs and descends again and again along its entire length, so be ready for a good workout. This trail is well maintained and spends most of its time right at the base of the foothills in coniferous forest. All along the trail are beautiful views out over Boulder City and the eastern plains. (Total Boulder)

We had done this hike about twenty years ago and it was fun and memorable.  We planned to do it again this spring or summer, but we didn't plan to do it yesterday.  As sometimes happens with us, we got going on one hike and when we got to a trail junction we decided to "just go a little ways" up that trail.  That's what happened yesterday.  We started out on the Homestead Trail, decided to go up the Mesa Trail for a bit, and then thought "let's go for it."   There was a dusting of snow on the ground in most places and patches of mud in others, but it was a beautiful sunny day, we felt good, and there was nothing on the calendar, so why not?  


Well, having a trail map would have been a good idea!  We added two additional miles to the trip by mistakenly taking one of the side canyon trails down, down, down to the east which meant we had to go back up, up, up to get back on the Mesa Trail.  I wasn't happy.  But once we were back on the trail my good spirits came back as we enjoyed the lovely scenery.  The ups and downs were hard work in the patches of yucky mud and there was one long scary descent down a steep ice covered mining road, made possible only by the Yacker Tracker chains we put on our hiking shoes.  

But we made it and we enjoyed the adventure, getting back home just in time to pick Paul up from school.  We dropped him off at home and drove back to get the car we had left at the trailhead, stopping off at Backkcountry Pizza for a well earned burger and beer.  

Doesn't Ben look in his element?  He had a great day! So did I but my body was sore.  Later that night, after Ben had gone upstairs to bed, I told Paul it was about bedtime.  "No way," he laughed, "It's only 8:45!"  And indeed it was!  I could have sworn it was at least 10:00.   


Monday, January 19, 2015

This


This book kept me awake last night.  I put it down about 11:00 PM but after tossing and turning realized that the unresolved plot was driving me crazy and keeping me from getting to sleep.  Picked it up again and read it for another couple hours until the exciting end.   It's the tenth in a series of  twenty mystery/thriller books set in the Boulder/Denver area.



This photograph is the one I submitted for the week two challenge of the photography class I'm taking which focused on line as a design element.   It is a line of orchids at the Denver Botanic Gardens Orchid Show that I saw with a friend on Saturday.  It was the first time I've ever traveled with the Nikon and the experience revealed my weaknesses in using a SLR.   Out of about fifty photographs only a handful had decent light.    But I learned a lot (my mantra lately).  



This cat so captivated Ben that he didn't move from this chair until the cat was ready to move.  (Photo taken by Paul.)   


This sampler is what the teacher of my "Bead Embellishment for Art Quilts" class thought we'd get done in the two-hour workshop I attended Sunday.


This is what I actually got done.  But it was fun and I learned a lot.


This is one powerful movie.  Go see it, but don't take the kids. You gotta be tough to handle American history.


This man tightened the toilet seat so it doesn't wiggle when you sit on it, fixed the broken hinge on a kitchen cabinet, transported Paul to his hair dye/cut appointment while I went to the movies, and made a delicious pasta soup for dinner tonight.  Those aren't the reasons I love him, but it was sure nice anyway.  


This day was beautiful. Almost sixty degrees with a nice wind and plenty of sun.  What a great way to start the week!


Friday, January 16, 2015

Photography Class

The year-long online photography class with Ricky Tims that I'm taking is in week two and I'm liking it very much.  Each week has a focus and a challenge.  The first week's topic was depth of field and after reviewing the video and downloads that Ricky provided I took a gazillion photographs learning how to focus on a single object within a group of objects, changing the aperture setting to change the point of focus.  

This is the photo I submitted for the week one challenge.  There are 250 participants in the class and only a handful of the submitted photos are critiqued by Ricky, but after reading those I see that my photo isn't straight and that there's too much going on in the lower right corner.  


This week the topic is "line," which is, of course, one of the elements of design.  We are to become aware of all the "lines" that are out there if only we will take the time to notice them and then submit a photo of one of these lines.  Ricky wants very simple compositions with the focus strongly on the line.  

I like this one I took but it is too complicated.  I could crop it quite a bit but we aren't supposed to be relying on cropping at this point.  Not to mention that I took it with my iPhone, which is a no-no since I'm supposed to be learning to shoot with a DSL.  Oops!
    
  
I also like this one, but again, I think it doesn't meet the "very simple" requirement.  And the white spot on the table leg is distracting. 


I'm crazy about this close up of Spikey's skin, but there's a lot going on here, too.   Today I'm going to do some more shooting and see if I can photograph one good line, nice and simple. 


 Meanwhile I keep grabbing a camera --any camera-- to shoot whatever strikes my fancy.  Yesterday I went to the Longmont Museum to see an exhibition on Charles Russell and Frederic Remington and asked my companion to take a snapshot of me and this fabulous life-size buffalo.  


And this morning when I awoke the light was so beautiful that I had to go right outside and try to photograph the amazing sunrise.  


There is something wonderful about just capturing the moment, and I think that will always be the main appeal to me of taking photographs.  I want to learn to take great photographs with a great camera, but I think that snapshot photography will probably always be my real love.   


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Closing in on a Bathroom Renovation

Isn't this an oddly shaped box?  It's a new toilet; could you tell?  

We found it on our driveway today when we came home for the delivery of the new windows that will soon go into Paul's bathroom.  That "Marvin" truck in the background carried the windows but the toilet and other plumbing supplies were delivered earlier.  The renovation of Paul's bathroom will soon be underway! 


Here's the tiny basement bath now.  




The basic plan is to tile the entire space with big, neutral colored tiles that have a touch of green (Paul's favorite color) and to install a frameless glass shower stall.  To do that we need to replace the window with two smaller ones and put some framing between them so the shower stall glass can be  anchored to it.  The wall cabinet will come out, the toilet replaced, and new lighting installed.  The doorway, which is quite narrow, will be widened a couple of inches.  The only thing that we'll reuse is the corner sink, which we installed in June.  The room should feel much more spacious and modern.  We'll lose the cool green color but there's a whole wall of it in Paul's room, so not to worry!


The project should be done by the end of February, after which we'll get serious about redoing the kitchen.  And that, I think, will be the end of our interior renovations.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Weekend

It's Sunday night already.  Where did the weekend go?

Friday night we had friends over for dinner and made buttermilk fried chicken.  I had never fried chicken at home before and it was a real adventure!  I used this recipe from Thomas Keller's cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home.  First you made a brine using several lemons and lots of bay leaves, soaking the chicken for up to eleven hours.  Then you dredged the chicken in a seasoned flour mixture, then in buttermilk, and then in the flour again.  Then you fried it in several inches of oil.  It took a quart of canola oil!   


Since I had never fried anything before, it was a bit nerve racking, but the result was crisp fried chicken with great flavor.  Hmm....so good!


This is a photo of a bobcat that was spotted in the yard of a house several blocks away from ours on Friday.  He didn't stay around for long, but does prove that these creatures are out there.    


Knowing that bobcats and mountain lions are out there makes me more willing to be "pinned down" by our own cat, Fetcher, who has taken to cuddling up on not just our laps, but our chests.  Can you tell that I can't move?  


Yesterday we went for a hike up in Chautaugua with our friend Paula, and that Handsome Dog, Gus.


Gus loves to find big long sticks to chew on and carry on his hike.


It was a warm, beautiful afternoon.  Much of our snow has melted, but there is still quite a bit on the hiking trails along with the dreaded ice.  We get a lot of ice because the sun comes out during the day and melts the snow but then the temperatures fall at night a good twenty degrees and everything freezes.  We expect another dusting of snow during the next two days.  

I love this photo I took of Ben & Paula walking down the hill with Boulder in the distance.


I made a big push to get the charity quilt top done that I started before Christmas, and was happy to finish it up today.  I think I'm going to piece a back and then return it to the quilt guild for someone else to quilt.  I've enjoyed working with the "Girl's Rule" fabric. Very inspirational!



On Friday I went to another quilt store in the area and picked out some fabric for a Valentine's table runner using a pattern I had borrowed from my new quilter friend, Missy.  I loved my fabric selections and couldn't wait to see how they would go together in the pattern so today I cut got busy and cut out the pieces and pieced them together.  I hadn't been sure about the black & white fabric and almost switched to a green leaf pattern, but l love how it turned out.   The center rose squares have words and phrases printed in gold, like "I Love You" and "Friendship."   Very sweet, but the black & white fabric gives it quite a bit of movement.    


This afternoon Ben & I went to the CU Women's basketball game against UCLA.  My team has lost their last few games and I was expecting we'd get trounced.  The opening minutes sure pointed to a killing and at one early point in the game UCLA was ahead by 21 points.  But the Buffs didn't lose heart.  They clawed their way back and by halftime they were only nine points behind.  They kept fighting, and with seven minutes left in the game they were tied.  They ended up losing, but they put up a good fight.  

Here's how the local paper captured the game:   The Buffs turned a laugher into a thriller into a heartbreaker and fell 90-84 to the Bruins at the Coors Events Center.    It made for an exiting afternoon!  Go Buffs!



Thursday, January 8, 2015

Colors

We got tired of our stark white kitchen the other day and painted it Anjou Pear by Sherwin Williams.  



The new color warmed the kitchen right up.  Amazing what paint can do!


We had an amazing sunset the other night.  We don't see them from our house as we are both too close to the foothills and too far down from them, but I happened to be out walking up the hill closer to the mountains so I was in the right place at the right time.



Talking with a friend about making fabric Valentine's Day cards got me in the mood for some new pink batiks, so when I was out today I bought these little beauties.  Don't know what I will do with them, but they make me smile!