LA VETA TO TALKEETNAH - May 2003

August 15, 2003

I had such hopes of keeping you all posted on a regular basis and that our sales section would be up and running. I have absolutely no excuse except to tell you that I am over-booked, over-worked and in a constant fuddle! My son-in-law Eric, who created this site is fully employed as a movie editor and he fits me in when he can.
I have learned to make up my own news letter thanks to an all day lesson from dear Eric. I tell you the man is a Saint! I can now jpeg, download, upload, link web sights, embed and insert the photos into the text. I must have dozed off when he was showing me how to make the print flow around the photos ...The next letter will be better.
Eric is currently working on our sales portion and it will be up for sure in two weeks.

STOP THE PRESSES!! There is a new baby in our family! Her name is MADISON SHEALY and she is absolutely gorgeous!
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She is the first child of our niece and nephew Quiana and Chris Shealy and the first grandchild for our brother Paul. He informs me that she prefers him to change her diaper because he does it so well and no one puts on the lotion as good as he does! Her Grandmother Linda is beaming with pride and her Aunt Nikkie cannot stop smiling. There is a general feeling of goodwill all around this wee baby and we are thrilled to have her in our family. Even Hakim who was the "baby" for so long is happy with her.

We met Madison at our family gathering at the Shealy homestead in July. What is it about a new baby that brings so many smiles, instant acceptance and an all around feeling of good will and love? We don't need any excuse to get together but this was a special time to celebrate the new baby; to rejoice in the restored health of my sister-in-law Wanda and to say goodby for the summer. We really do enjoy our gatherings and Stanley's special barbiqued ribs are a further insentive. I am very greatful to the Shealy side of the family as they have taught me the true meaning of familyand acceptance......a very special gift.
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Here we are on the front steps of the old Shealy home.
Top l-r is Carl, Dana, Wanda, Stanley, Paul.
Middle l-r is Barbara, Aleyah, Leigh, Hakim,Linda(proud Grandma), Nikki
Front l-r is Judith, Ernest, Miles.
The proud parents had already left with their little treasure. She was exhausted from being passed from hand to hand, squeezed, hugged, loved and cooed to.

As I told you in my first newsletter...our house in Los Angeles is for sale. It is a bittersweet decision as it is a beautiful old house and our three older girls were all raised in this house. So the day before we left for La Veta the girls came over to say goodbye and to have a picture taken on the porch. Although we all agree it is hard to keep up two homes it is still a feeling of loss to give up 1617 Donaldson with all its charm and beauty. We have celebrated weddings in the back yard: Barbara's ashes are scattered there and countless pets are buried there. Trees planted in memory of happy and sad times are thriving there. But we all agree that it needs a family to live in it full time and to create new memories for we have ours and they will never dim.
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Tara and her two beautiful children had just arrived from Yokohama, Japan and were in extreme jet lag....but here they are...Dana, Tara, Ernest and Kristin on the front porch of 1617 Donaldson and my four beautiful grandchildren Nicole,Gen,Rie and Kelse on the bottom steps..... Every summer Tara brings her children home to America so they can go to summer school and keep in touch with family. This year they attended a farm school in Ohio. They attended last year and decided it was so much fun they would go back.
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I am pleased to tell you that my oldest grand daughter,Nicole Szilagyi has graduated from Marshall high school in Los Angeles with flying colours...Not only is she very bright and very artistic but she is a very nice person. She even went the extra mile of attending the same school where her mother Kristin is the head of the english department. Not easy being the daughter of a teacher in the same school....Ernest and I stayed over a few extra days to see her play the role of Julia in Shakespear's "Two Gentlemen of Verona"
Here is a picture of her after her performance...
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She plans to go on to university next year but is undecided as to where. Where does the time go!!?? It seems like only yesterday she was playing kitty, kitty and drawing her 'Yenny Fly' cartoon strip!
I am waiting rather impatiently for a graduation picture! (I had to miss her 7:30 a.m. graduation because I was on the road.) So maybe this little note will get her mother's attention and one will soon arrive in the mail! Nicole was out to see us this summer and we had a great time but that is for the next newsletter!

When I signed off on my last newsletter I had just returned from my classes in Arkansas and Missouri. Well since that posting I have been in Lansing, Michigan (June 25th - 30th) to teach for Country Stitches and to Anchorage,Alaska July 5th -15th) to teach for Seams Like Home Quilt Shop. Both were absolutely fabulous.

I love teaching and there is nothing better than the moment when the light bulb switches on and your student gets it!! I never teach a class that I don't learn something...like a new stitch or method, even a new source.... That is what keeps me travelling and teaching. Teaching has also given me some very special friends who I would never have met if it wasn't for the travel and classes.

The classes for Country Stitches were booked out with a waiting list for the second year in a row. I love to teach for Anita Covert and her daughter Ann Covert Drain. They are terrific business women and go that extra mile to make sure there are lots of supplies for the students. Anita is an outstanding example of a successful business woman, she has one of the most successful quilt shops in the nation and has won many awards for her business expertise. She is also a lot of fun and we share a love of good books.
Ann is in charge of setting up all the classes for their three stores which is a huge undertaking. You just have to check the web sight to see the big selection they have to offer.
I taught six classes and gave an evening lecture.
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There is a great interest in Crazy Quilting in the Lansing area and even more interest in embellishments. I taught four days in the East Lansing store and then one each at their stores in Flint and Jackson.
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I was amazed at the number of repeat students and even met up with some I met way back when, through the Crazy Quilt Society. What a delight to see them all again. There is a wonderful comraderie among crazy quilters. Also it brings together women from all walks of life and I like that. We are brought together by a common thread and friendship blossoms.
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Many of the new students came with beautiful examples of silk ribbon and needlework. I love to see samples of work as it gives me inspiration and an idea of what students are interested in.

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I really enjoy teaching for Ann and Anita as they really know how to treat a teacher. They set up and take down the class room, put the teacher in a great hotel, They give the teacher a generous food allowance and understand that the teacher is tired after a day of teaching and guarentee she has a peaceful, private evening. I have signed a contract to teach for Country Stitches in April, 2004 and there will be several advanced classes added.www.countrystitches.com

While in Lansing, Anita took me to a wonderful bookstore and introduced me to the Stephanie Plum Mysteries by Janice Evanowich. After the first chapter, I was addicted and could not put the book down. I found more at the Anchorage Airport and continued reading.

The main character Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter in New Jersy with a zany family and an even crazier love life. I have now read all nine of her books and recommend them to everyone for a wonderful light and hilarious read! Even my husband is into Stephanie Plum and he adores her outragious grandmother. www.evanovich.com

I returned to La Veta for a fast change of clothes and to repack my bags. Ernest was all ready and a friend had graciously agreed to house and cat sit for us.

We arrived in Anchorage, Alaska at 11:30 p.m and the first thing we noticed was that everyone was still up, the shops were open and the streets were crowded with cars...and it was still light!! It was bustle, bustle everywhere. We never did get used to full sunlight at eleven p.m.

We were met by Pat Syta, a very nice lady who planned my whole trip. She and her husband Stan were our hosts and they give the word host a new meaning! They went out of their way to make everything a real pleasure and we were very spoiled, especially Ernest!
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Here is Pat and Stan with their two sons and daughters-in-law. We happend to visit during a heat wave which was a record breaker. The Alaskans were dropping like flies and there was not a fan to be had in all of Anchorage. Ernest called all around and managed to find one at Home Depot. Who would believe we suffered from heat and humidity in Alaska?!

Pat arranged all eight of my classes at Seams Like Home Quilt Shoppe which is owned by Maret Anderson. The shop is beautiful and bright and Maret made sure there were lots of suppies for the students.
www.akseamslikehome.com Some of the students were from as far away as Kodiak Island and Fairbanks, while one student came in from Orange County, California.
It was very convenient as Pat had signed up for most of the classes so we went in together, always stopping for a double cappuchino at her favorite coffee Kiosk. These coffee Kiosks seem to be on every street corner and all seem to do a great business.
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The classes were all set up in a two day structure which is wonderful for the students and me. I always feel I can teach so much more in two days. I was really pleased by the enthusiasm and effort of the Alaskan students.
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It was a pleasure to teach at Seams Like home and Marets' staff is so friendly and helpful. You can see Maret Anderson, The owner of Seams Like Home in the back on the right hand side of the second class photo. She was a gracious host and provided us with the most wonderful lunches.
On our first day in Anchorage Pat took us for a tour. We were really impressed with the city as it is divided by large wooded parks and you just never get the feeling of a large city. We even saw a mother moose and her baby...the only moose we saw on our whole trip!
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The Alaskan classes went from basic crazy quilting and embellishments to a crazy quilt chatelaine and more embellishments to a two day garden pathway class and a two day landscape class. A few stayed for all eight days!
There is a big interest in crazy quilting and embellishments in this area and I hope to return in the future for more classes.

I was the guest speaker for the Palmer Quilt Guild and talked about the history of crazy quilting and was pleasantly surprised by the wonderful turnout. Hopefully even more people are now interested in my work.
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Pat is standing next to me in the last class picture and you can pick her out in some of the others. The lady just below Pat ( in white) is Sue Bathke who is an expert gardener. She found out that Ernest and I are mad keen gardeners and promptly invited us to see her beautiful yard and then introduced us to several other gardeners. For some reason the flowers are bigger and brighter in Alaska. It has something to do with the long hours of sunlight and the lack of pollution. This was one of the many pleasant surprises for us and to meet other avid gardners and to spend hours just visiting about flowers was wonderful.

Sue also gave us some wild rose plants from her garden. We shipped them home through the mail. All ready they are putting out new shoots. They seem to like it down here in the lower 48.
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Here we are at the Peony Gardens in Anchorage, which is run by a lovely lady named JudyWilmarth. (You can contact her at jwilmar@gci.net) Judy has been growing and selling peonies for years in the Anchorage area. In fact she supplies all the local nurseries. Nothing leaves her garden until it has been proven to thrive in the Alaskan climate. Ernest and I were agog at the many varieties and ordered a dozen different varieties for our Colorado garden.

After four days of classes Pat arranged for Ernest and I to take a small break and we drove to Seaward to see the glaciers from a tour boat. We drove along the Cook outlet which is famous for its strange tides and ominous silty sand which acts like quicksand.
The interesting thing about this Alaskan area is that everything starts out at sea level. The mountains loom up from sea level and look so majestic with their snow capped tops and ominous glaciers. The cook inlet is a perfect example of this with the incoming and outgoing tides, the mountains plus glaciers looming in the background.
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This area was really traumatized by the 1987 earthquake where parts of land shifted and saltwater seaped into the tree line. The devastation is still evident in the outline of dead evergreens. Some villiages such as Hope and Portage were abandoned after this quake. I love this photo of the collapsed house and old truck.

We were lucky enough to drive along the Cook Inlet when the tide was out so I was able to shoot some incredible shots of the rippling sand.

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I think the photo on the right is a good candidate for a needlework project. The trip to Seaward is normally two and a half hours but we took six hours because of all the beautiful scenery. We were so lucky with the weather and seemed to be living under a lucky star each day. Poor Ernest was constantly stopping for just one more photo. He is a saint to put up with me.

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This photo on the left is Lilly Pond Lake just outside of Seaward which is already a needlework project. The lake was covered with floating water lilies of a brilliant yellow and the surrounding trees were reflected in the dark water. I was so taken with the small delicate yet tough little lillies. I am so confident that I will finish it that I went out and bought the double matt and a frame!

We arrived in time to catch an evening dinner tour in Resolution Bay. The food and the scenery were amazing. It was awe inspiring to see the mountains and glaciers that line the bay. A Huge luxury liner was tied at the docks.
At the time I was heavy into a Stephanie Plum novel so here I am waiting for the boat on the Seward docks. I think I was heavy into book number five and couldn't put it down. I have Anita Covert to thank for this new addiction!

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It was wonderful to see all the birds, especially the Puffins. They look a bit rediculous in their effort to fly. Their little wings beat fast and furious to keep their big headed bodies aloft. They really won our hearts. There were so many sea birds living among the cliffs that is was hard to believe our eyes!

We also saw some whales who managed to take time off from feeding to come up and entertain the tourists. A real treat was a pod of dolphins who swam with the boat for many miles. There were several babies in the pod and they leaped in unison with their mothers. We saw so many seals all along the shore who did not even bother to look up at us...

The next day we went to the Seward Aquarium to get a closer look at all the local marine life and to buy some books on the area. At the risk of sounding silly to some people I must tell you this story. I was walking around the aquarium and noticed a huge tank in which an equally huge male Harbour Seal was swimming back and forth.
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When I walked up he dove down and made eye contact with me. When I reached out my hand he nuzzled up to the glass and when ever I made a petting motion his head would move with it. It lasted about five minutes and was a very poignant time. I still think about it. Of course the thought has passed my mind that I am quite heavy right now and he may have mistaken me for another seal...or I could take it for just what it was...a special gift.

Later we drove to Exit glacier which is rather ominous and is a deceiving beautiful turquoise blue.

You have to walk in about a mile to see the glacier so its' size is deceiving from a distance. Once you break through the trees the enormity of it all is quite a shock. I wouldn't get very close to it in spite of Ernest's encouragement. Notice the determined set of my jaw and the steely eyes?! I am saying " No thank you, this is far enough".
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When we got back to Anchorage we found out that last year an elderly tourist couple met with tragedy. The husband had his wife stand up close and kept urging her to step further back....a huge piece of ice fell on her and of course killed her... Yikes! what a mind boggling way to go.

Back in Anchorage I was enthralled to find one of the best fabric shops ever! It is called " The Three Sisters " has some of the most beautiful couture fabrics I have ever seen and I plan to keep in touch because of their large range of oriental fabrics. Their fabrics range from cottons to silks and satins with a large range of trims and embellishments. Needless to say I spent quite a bit of money, in fact I went there twice!
While at the shop I met Irene who is from the Inupiak tribe up near the arctic circle. Her daughter is a dancer at the Native Cultural Center. We went to the center and enjoyed the arts and crafts. The dancing was especially good and consisted of young people in their teens. Great to see them keeping up their tribal traditions. I was fascinated with the children in the audience and even made friends with a couple of them.

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This little girl on the left is Christine and she is an Athabaskan Indian. We walked through the outside exhibitions with her family. They come often to the Cultural Center to touch base with their roots. This little girl flirted with Ernest the whole time and by the end of the walk he was wrapped around her little finger. What a sweetie.

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This little one on the right is Inupiak, a tribe from near the Arctic circle and she really caught my eye. She was so enthralled with the dancers that she kept trying to get up on the stage to dance with them. Finally she made it and really stole the heart of the audience. She knew all the steps too!

Our last few days in Alaska were spent looking around Anchorage. The Native Hospital is marvelous as the halls are decorated with native art and the gift shop sells authentic pieces at reasonable prices. We had a wonderful lunch there.

We went to see the salmon jump the falls and that was amazing. They are so big and so red and so beat up but they keep trying to get up the falls. I went through a whole role of film just trying to get one jumping in the air!

We also found a marvelous book store called The Title Wave and it was so good I had to ship home two boxes. It is really up there with my favorites and well worth a browse. www.titlewavebooks.com

At the Art Museum we did some shopping for our girls and enjoyed the galleries. There was a display of drawings by four well known native artists depicting early life which was fascinating. The paintings range from Victorian to over the top contemporary.

We even went to a nursery to buy some plants. We fell in love with the Sitca Rose which is a prolific bloomer up there. It is really the old Hansa Rugosa but we will always call it the Sitca rose. It has a huge, fuschia, multi-petalled flower and gives off a beautiful scent. I figure if it thrives in Alaska, it will love La Veta!
We went to the Airport to mail off our plants and spent a few hours watching the water taxi planes come and go. Now that is a great way to travel.
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Here is a photo of the Sitca rose outside an old cabin in Eklutna near the Russian Orthodox/Athabaskan Indian grave yard, on the raod to Palmer.
Our last days were spent on a trip from Anchorage to Talkeetna to see Mount McKinley, an awsome sight. It is the largest mountain in North American, 22,000 feet, covered in snow and we got to see it in all it's glory.

We also went to the villiage of Talkeetna which is rumoured to be the inspiration for the T.V. sitcom "Northern Lights" All I know is there is a very nice man there who gave me some columbine seeds from his garden and they are now sprouting in my La Veta garden. ( Reddish range and bright yellow combination)
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Talkeetna reminds me a lot of La Veta in it's appearance and laid back attitude. We spent the night at the Talkeetna Lodge which claims the best view of Mount Mckinley. The view was outstanding and the lodge is very beautiful with luxury rooms and a friendly staff.

Ernest and I thought the beautiful begonia baskets at the lodge were even more outstanding. He had to take a photo of all twenty baskets. Here he is is with his favorite basket.

The next morning we ventured back down the road and drove over Hatcher's Pass, from Willow to Palmer. We both agree this was the high light of our trip.

Hatcher's pass is only 3000 feet but is a cross between the lush green of Ireland and the Swiss Alps. The weather was perfect with clear blue skies. I do not know much about this area, except that it was a mining area. I would recommend this drive to everyone going to the Anchorage area. The roads are narrow and gravel=filled but passable with an ordinary car. Just be prepared to take your time.
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It took the best part of the day because we kept stopping for photos. We spent some time with a marvelous gardener named Dean who owns Coyote Gardens, on the Hatcher's Pass road.
It is a private garden which he opens up to the public one weekend of the year in late July and we caught him the day before the big opening.
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We were so thrilled to get a private tour thanks to Sue Bathke. Dean and his partner have turned a patch of Alaska into a paradise. One thing that really caught our eye was a patch of Himalayan poppies which are an amazing blue. They grow in Tibet at several thousand feet and require vast amounts of water. Ernest really wanted to bring some home with him but all the Alaskan gardners said it was best to just come back to visit the poppies in their gardens!

Throughout every bend of Hatcher's Pass we were met with incredible beauty.
The mountains were covered with Fireweed and Arctic daisies. The marsh grass was spotted with colours from rust to lime green and the sky was clear with big puffy clouds. We were so fortunate with the weather.

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Because I am always taking photos and seldom am I in them, Ernest insisted on taking this photo of me embracing the beauty of it all!
When we reached the summit it was an amazing sight because we could see over several mountain ranges. I wanted to burst out in song just like the "Sound of Music". This photo is my version of Heidi in the Alps....Judith at the summit of Hatcher's Pass!

I saw so many things to photograph such as close ups of moss, rocks and lichen with the idea of doing a series of needlework studies. I am stuck right into it now with drawings and ideas swarming in my mind!
All along the road were tinkling little streams and and some were dotted with this bright green moss. Also there were wild hostas wood fern growing everywhere. All this was highlighted with evergreens and birch trees.
We drove by a series of beaver ponds which were decorated with the ever present Fireweed and Arctic Daisies.

The beaver had a whole series of dams. It reminds me so much of my beloved Canadian Rockies and the beaver ponds near our family ranch.
Dad used to take us out in the evening and we would sit for hours just for the chance to see the beaver. One false move and there would be the slap of a tail and all would disappear. Here at the Alaskan beaver ponds everything was reflected in the still water. I could not shoot enough pictures. Luckily I listened to my students and took along three times more film than I thought I would use. I think my beaver pond photo will end up hanging in my studio.
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The Alaskan Marsh lands are amazing, teaming with birds, and flowers. It is very deceiving in it's beauty as it can be quite wet, full of mosquitos and muddy! Tiny little white flowers dot the landscape giving an almost surreal look. This was our first time ever in the tundra type landscape and we are still talking about the wonder of it all.
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The lichens and moss vary in colors and add to the beauty of it all. I could not take enough photos of the marsh land.
Everywhere we went we saw the beautiful little arctic daisy. It bloomed in the city and bloomed in the mountains and bloomed in the marshes. July was a perfect time to visit Alaska because of the beautiful wildflowers.
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I can't begin to tell you how much we enjoyed our short stay in Alaska. Thank you to all the hospitable people we met along the way. We made many new friends and had a lot of laughs. All my life I have been hearing about the beauty of Alaska and I was not disapointed. It was a once in a life time trip and I highly recommend Alaska in the summertime. I hope these photos have given you an idea of Alaska's beauty. I only wish I could show you more!

I must sign off now. Goodbye from La Veta. As you can see from this picture our little cottage is doing well and has been the center of lots of family visits and the odd party.
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We are enjoying the garden this year and we have water!!
We are also getting in lots of dancing at the Dog Bar, enjoying our family and friends, and getting to The Bakery as often as possible. I love our life in La Veta and I treasure my time at home.

Just recently my friend Joan Hanley talked me into putting a few pieces in her new gallery for her August Invitational opening.

I normally do not do gallery work but Joan is a good friend of mine and she is quite persuasive. I have always admired Joan's creativity and last year she immortalized Ernest with a portrait of him sitting on our front porch. Now there are prints and T-shirts available! Several women in town are going around with my husband on their chest!
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Joan is a renowned painter and sculptress who has an incredible eye and it reflects in her gallery. She bought an old house here in La Veta and totally restored it. I am sure it will be a great success. Here is a photo of us at the opening which was so exciting and enjoyed by all.

Every month there will be a new show and you can view the latest show plus Joan's beautiful work at www@joanhanley.com
I must end this very long newsletter now. I hope you have a peaceful and happy summer. I will get back to you at the end of the month.
Bye for now and I hope our paths cross soon ...LOVE FROM JUDITH


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