April 29, 2004

Hello Everyone!

This very long news letter is because I have learned how to scan and upload in photoshop and I am feeling quite cocky!! I have far too many photos but I could not resist. So get a cup of tea or coffee, relax and read on.......

I am writing to you from beautiful La Veta, Colorado, the home of eccentric earth children ( old hippies), artists, musicians / writers, numerous cranky old ranchers and the odd one or two conservative types ( such as Republicans who live here only part time).
It is beautiful here in the Wahatoya Valley because this year we have an abundance of moisture. Everyone is in good spirits.

March was a very dry month and we were worried about another summer drought. It was the only topic of conversation at the Pub and Grub and The Bakery. My friend Moose said not to worry because he knew snow was coming on the 10th of April ! When I laughed he said this was the date of the annual Easter egg hunt and for the last fifteen years they've had to cancel due to snow!!
Sure enough on the 9th it started to snow and did not stop for three days..Daffodils and tulips were under a foot of snow and the Easter Bunny got lost somewhere up on Mount Baldy. Rumor has it that he met a lady rabbit who invited him into her home to warm his feet at the fire and he hasn't been seen since!
Within four days this snow fall melted into the ground and the trees started to bud out.

My dear friend Ruth Stonely, from Brisbane Australia came for a visit and it was wonderful. She had been visiting and touring through England and Italy for a month with rain following her everywhere. She stopped in New York to visit Virginia Avery for a week and it rained cats and dogs there! So I was quite hopeful that she would bring the rain to La Veta and sure enough she did.
Ruth and I go back many years and I used to teach for her at Ruth's Patchwork Supplies on my annual Down Under Tour. She has put me up countless times at her home and we have shared a lot of happy and sad times. So I was very pleased to return some of her fine hospitality.

She arrived in Denver and we stayed that night with my cousin Faye Walker, who lives in Littleton. Ruth wanted to do a bit of shopping so I took her to several discount stores where she found lots of bargains. She had never been to a discount store before and was totally overwhelmed when I took her to Costco! I would rather clean fifty toilets that go into a Costco on a Saturday...but I had promised Ernest I would shop for him. Poor Ruthie spent the whole time with her mouth open, clutching the cart and murmuring.."I can't believe it !"

We got into La Veta that evening and already there were a few drops of rain. Every where Ruthie went - it was sure to rain!!

We showed her all the hot spots in La Veta and managed to put on a special dinner in her honour with Ricky Tims and his partner Justin Shultz ( my new neighbours), our brother & sister- in-law Babz and Brent Seawell (amazing musicians), Joan Hanley (extrodinary artist) Charles Eakins (composer and musician) and my cousin Faye ( dryest wit in town). It was a wonderful time and it made me feel good to just sit and listen to the conversations!

The next day Faye, Ruth and I took off for a two day visit to Taos, New Mexico. Ernest stayed behind because he hates to leave his ever growing pride of cats and he was helping our neighbour Phil Chambers to build the office/garden shed in our back yard. This little building is a sight to see! While the garden area has a brick floor, the office floor is elevated by a foot to accommodate the Skunk Condo. That's right a Skunk Condo!

We have a family of skunks who have lived under the old tin shed in our backyard for many we have a few ground squirrells (Whistle Pigs) that also call it home.
The tin shed will be taken out to make room for the new studio and guest house and they will have to move to the Skunk Condo. It has been insulated with straw so they will enjoy their new home under my office. I will unveil the new shed on my next newsletter.
FortGarland.jpgWe stopped in Fort Garland to tour the old fort and purchased a few postcards. I am always fascinated with the thick adobe walls and the old doors and windows.
This fort is now a museum and is open to the public year round. There is an excellent little shop with lots of interesting books on the area.

In San Luis we drove up to the catholic chapel "Capilla De Todo Los Santos" which overlooks the town from a steep cliff. The chapel is a classic design of adobe with wood and is a blend of Spanish, Indian and Moorish influences. The interior is highlighted with contemporary paintings plus beautiful artifacts. We were fascinated with the grave yard and a path that is lined with monuments to deceased monks.
Upon further investigation we discovered a path which winds around a rocky mesa with beautiful bronze statues depicting the stations of the cross. Because it was Easter week there were a lot of people walking the stations of the cross. The day was sunny with amazing cloud formations and as you can see by this photo of Ruth , the vistas were beautiful.
The culture of this area is fascinating and I never tire of its haunting beauty. It is a mix of Indian and Spanish heritage with a touch of cowboy.
It was wonderful to show Taos and area to Ruth and Faye. We stayed at my favorite San Geronimo Inn and Pat (owner) was her usual wonderful self. She always makes her visiters feel so welcomed and special. You can view her websight in my previous news letters.

The high light for me is always the San Geronimo pets. There is a large grey cat named Esther and her enormouse son Williams. Then there is a threesome of very large and gentle dogs of questionable pedigree. My favorite is Bonita because she sings whenever I play the piano...such fun.
We managed to tour over seven art galleries and it was marvelous. That is my idea of heaven! We viewed everything from Indian carvings to contemporary steel sculptures and traditional western paintings. There are several interesting boutiques and bookstores that caught our attention too!! It seemed to be quiet in Taos and we enjoyed it. Here are Ruth and Faye in the sculpture garden of the beautiful Lumina Gallery. It is my favorite of all the galleries and I always stop in.

I love taking photos in Taos because of the adobe buildings but also the wonderful doors and windows. The turquiose doors and trim are especially good against the adobe colours. Not only is it traditional among the Indians but it is the use of complimentary colours!!
Ruth even brought the rain to Taos and that was good too. We enjoyed some great meals at Orlandos and the Taos Inn. Of course I just had to introduce Ruth to my favorite fabric store - The Common Thread. She was very impressed and bought some gorgeous lace and ribbons.

We drove back the following day through a most amazing desert rain storm and arrived just in time to pick up Ernest and head out to the Pub & Grub for the Thursday dance night.

Brent and Babz Seawell have a wonderful four piece band called "The Sow's Ear". They play blues, swing and anything you want to hear. They are very popular in this area and play on a regular basis at Aly's Fire Side Cafe in Walsenburg, plus at the Pub & Grub during the winter and at the Dog Bar during the summer season.
They also put on some amazing jazz performances at their gallery, "The Parkside". Babz has an amazing voice and plays the piano too. Brent their peerlous leader, plays the bass, guitar and drums and is a great singer too. Everyone shows up when they are playing.
They have several c.d's and all are terrific. Their latest c.d. is called "Sow's Ear at the Dog Bar '03" You can order this c.d. by emailing them at or mailing your order to Brent and Babz Seawell, P.O. Box 225, La Veta, Colorado, 81055. The c.d. is $15.00 and postage and handling is $5.00.
If you listen closely you can hear Ernest and me dancing in the background.

The great thing about dancing in La Veta is that you do not need a partner and everyone joins in. Faye and Ruth thought they were too tired to go dancing but in the end we had to drag them away. You haven't lived till you've dined on dollar tacos, and danced to The Sow's Ear at the Pub & Grub in La Veta.

Ruths' visit was over far too soon and it was time to drive her back to Denver to catch a plane. Ruth certainly ran the weather gamut as you can see by the garden gate photo's. First we we had beautiful spring days, then rain and the day Ruth had to leave it snowed.

In March I went out a bought some paint for the gates and fence around the propane tank, while I was at it I picked up a yellow-green for the tank and bird house poles. Voila....the gates were the talk of the town...but I figure we all need a bit of colour in our lives and I love them!!

We have been in our little cottage for three years now and our progress in the yard seems very slow to me at times....but when I look at photos such as these I am reminded that two years ago there was no brick pathway or arbor or vine growing over the top.

We met up with Faye in Littleton and she took Ruth out to the airport. We had to hurry back home because it was snowing and I had to pack up for my teaching trip to East Lansing, Michigan. I got out of La Veta just before it started to snow too hard!! (April 13)

The ground was completely covered but the roads were pretty good. It is a two hour drive to Colorado Springs to the Airport and sometimes longer. It is a part of my work that I am beginning to dislike intensely. Travel takes a lot longer now with more and more regulations, such as less luggage and less weight allowed.

I do not mind the security at all but it still is not consistent from one airport to the other and this is most nerve wracking. It has helped me decide to cut down on my teaching tours and spend more time in my studio.

I love to teach and will pick special venues in the coming years....and that is why I travelled to East Lansing, Michigan in a snow storm to teach for Anita and Ann of Country Stitches in Lansing, Michigan.


This is my fourth visit and the classes are always wonderful. Anita is an amazing business woman with stores in Flint , East Lansing andJackson. Please visit their web sight at

I am including a couple of class photos and a wonderful one of Ann and her two sons, Joshua and Bryce. I always ask to see them and Ann is good enough to parade them by every year. The boys are growing like weeds and are very active in sports. They were good enough to pose for this picture in front of my class too!

I arrived back in La Veta on the 20th of April, the day before a huge blizzard
dumped four feet of snow in three days!! My poor peonies, tulips and daffodils were snowed under for the third time in three weeks!
The whole villiage came to a stand still and it was wonderful..This means that we will not have to haul water this summer and the drought is coming to an end. We could not go anywhere and one night the power went off!

As you can see by this photo it was a serious storm. This is our front walk way and that gate is four feet tall! ...and this was just the first day and when it was all over there were six feet drifts and a four foot average.

Ernest has never experienced a blizzard before and was in a state of shock. The old L.A. boy was even more shocked when he had to get out in it to shake the trees down...(no use me going out there as I am only 5' 3'' in my shoes!)

I am home now for ten weeks, the longest home stay since I started on the road. I will play a lot of catch up with the garden and some projects.

I am taking water colour lessons from my friend Kathy Hill every Saturday. She is a marvelous teacher and I am really enjoying working in a new media. She is well known in our area for her beautiful landscape renditions of the Wahatoya Mountains and our valley. You can see her wonderful work at which she shares with her husband, author Robert Hill.

I am also taking computer lessons from another friend, James Cooper who is teaching me the Photo Shop program...Maybe I will be able to get this newsletter up more often and they won't have to be so long!!

I am currently working on a small crazy quilt (16 blocks) which was started for the March 2004 Asilomar class. It will be the project for the crazy quilt section of the upcoming "Encyclopedia of Quilting" by Leasure Arts. I have been asked to be in charge of the crazy quilt section and I am delighted. This wonderful book is being edited by Laura Nownes of "Quilts, Quilts, Quilts". She is such a talented lady and a delight to work with.

At Asilomar we made four crazy quilt blocks ( 11 1/2" squares) and embellished them with the idea that the four blocks could be made into a wall hanging or be the beginning of a quilt. It was a marvelous class of 21 interesting women from all walks of life. They ranged from a woman who was commemorating a daughter who had committed suicide to a woman making a gift for her husband on their 40th wedding anniversary.

One woman travelled from Boston while several were from California. It was just wonderful and I was very sorry to see the week come to a close. They did beautiful work, put in long dilligent hours and the feeling of comradery was incredible. Here is the group to the right and sitting under a big tree.

If you have not been to the Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar...please check into it. It is one of my most favorite teaching assigments. The setting is so beautiful, with lovely old buildings nestled among the twisted junipers and the rugged ocean shore... Diane, Gayle and Suzanne do a wonderful job every year and can be reached at 925 934 1188 for further information. I will be back for the March 6 - 11, 2005 seminar.

Right after the Asylomar classes I slipped down to Big Sur to visit some lovely friends, Erin and Tom Gafill, who run the Big Sur Arts Initiative. This is a non profit organization which administers to the children of Big Sur and organizes art, theater and music classes.
Erin organized two days of classes and thanks to the ladies who attended, we raised $1,000.00 for the childrens' art program. It really made me feel good and I am so appreciative of the ladies who came down from the Monterey Quilt Guild and further points. We will do the same thing next year and will be better organized and hopefully will raise even more money.


Big Sur is a vast expanse of wild land with a huge variety of people. There are many migrant workers with children and those with children who live so far out they have to be home schooled. Thanks to Erin and Tom, these children receive a wonderful introduction to the arts at free or little expense.

Of course I need no urging to go to Big Sur which is one of my most favorite places on earth. Erin is my dear friend and the niece of another dear friend and hero...Kaffe Fassett. She is also the daughter of Holly Fassett who runs (with her son) The beautiful Napenthe Restaurant. Holly is wonderful and is such an amazing knitter. She can produce the most intricate patterns with very little effort and thanks to her... every expectant mother in the area receives a baby blanket made up of knitted squares!!

The artistic gene goes way back in the Fassett family and Erin is truly blessed. I love her work and never tire of looking at it. She has a style and grace all her own and you can view her work at

The above photo is taken from Erin and Toms' living room and that is Chai and Erin below. The one on the right is Erin giving me an art lesson in blending complimentary colours to achieve that 1920's look in a painting.


I had one glorious day off and Erin and her son Chai took me to the beach where we perched on a very high cliff and sketched.... it was heaven!! As you can see by these is breathtaking... Chai is a favorite young friend of mine and attends art school in Oakland. He has well and truly inherited the Fassett art gene and we will be hearing about him in the future.

I must not forget to say thank you to Emily Gafill who gave up her bed for me. She stayed with a girl friend so that I could stay with her parents. I left some ribbons and embellishments for Emily and I hear she sews everyday and is really talented at it. I look forward to seeing her work when I return.


I travelled from Big Sur to Oakland to see my son and daghter in law...Jason and Brenda Montano. It was marvelous to see them again but I was horrified to see that Brenda had her knee in a cast and was on crutches!!! She had to have orthoscopic surgery due to a mishap at her Kung Fu class. She is simply amazing as she is very slender and fragile looking but she can do finger push ups and throw giant men to the ground!!
Here they are on the right


Jason had just opened his bycicle repair shop and was anxious to show it off. It is situated on the neighbourly Piedmont Avenue. As you can see he is very happy and business is do well. He is very fortunate to have his father help out a couple of days a week and this allows him time for racing.

I was pleased when a man and his son came in to pick up the boy's bycicle and when asked about the charge..Jason said.."There is no charge because it was minimal repair" They left very happy and I know they will be back....

If you live in the Oakland area and need any bike repairs or parts please stop in or just go by to say hello. You will always be welcomed. Jason is situated at Transition Sports, an outstanding sports shop which caters to tri-athlets.

Jasons' business is Montano Velo at Transition Sports, 4266 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, California 94611. Phone # 510 601 1824 and Fax # 510 601 1834. Jasons' email address is He really knows his trade as he also races at the high amature level and has been on the circuit for several years.

Because Brenda and I are both Pisces and our birthdays are only three days apart....we went out to celebrate our birthdays at their favorite Sushi Restaurant.
It was wonderful to laugh and fact we ended the evening by going to see Jason's Dad Fred and Grandparents Mary and Steve Montano who are well into their nineties!! I hope I have half the energy at their age.

We were up at the crack of dawn to get me to the airport and it was off to Portland, Oregon to see Madeleine and Brian. I hadn't seen the kids since their graduation last May.

It was so good to see my beautiful daughter's smiling face and to give her a big hug. We had the day together and went right off to Powells Book Store which is the grand daddy of all book stores!!! Six hours later we staggered out and I was thrilled to have found lots of books that were on my list. You can view the book store on the web at
I buy a lot of books from them because they sell used books, have a huge selection and any order over $50.00 is free shipping.

Madeleine and Brian have a wonderful apartment on Eastridge in a quiet neighbourhood. They have adopted two more from a pet store and the other from a neglectful neighbour. The cats are very lucky...

I don't know how my family got so into cats!! We seem to attract them like crazy and of course we are all bleeding hearts and cannot turn any away!!

Both Madeleine and Brian are graphic designers and it has been a struggle in Portland which has the highest unemployment in the nation. It is also one of the most beautiful cities in the nation! Brian is fully employed now with Sound Images and you can see his wonderful portfolio at his websight</> I know you will be impressed with his websight.

Madeleine is now employed part time as the assistant to Shelly Westerholt the owner and designer of "Urban Girl North West". She designs and produces wonderful handbags and apparel. You can view them at I am impressed with these good looking bags and plan to order a few! Maddy really enjoys working for Shelly as it is interesting, challenging and has to do with fashion.

Maddy is also busy with the Portand Ballet School where she is a regular. She does their graphics in exchange for lessons .She is also working freelance so if you need a designer for business cards or other things... contact her.
She has been very busy getting her portfolio and websight together (will be up May 15) and you will be able to view her portfolio at her new websight Madeleine has a style all her own and is a wonderful designer......Of course I am not prejudice at all!!! My dream is to have her design my books in the future.

We had a wonderful afternoon in the port town of Seaside on the beach, flying kites which was a first for was a lot of fun. Brian has one of those tricky ones that looks like a jet and he can really make it dip and dive. I was very happy with a little box kite which just stayed up there and did not require any skill at all.

That evening the kids surprised me with a beautiful array of birthday gifts and dinner at a seafood restaurant. Wow!! It was such a treat.
At the restaurant I noticed a lot of birthday celebrants being serinaded and embarrassed by the staff.....I was dreading it!! When our desert arrived Madeleine reached into her purse and produced a candle and a match! They quietly sang happy birthday and it was wonderful.



All to soon it was back to La Veta home to a birthday party arranged by Ernest on the 17th. at dance night at the Pub and Grub...It was lots of fun with relatives and friends. So my 59th birthday party lasted a few weeks and it was great.

Before I close this newsletter I must right a wrong. Last October I travelled to Cape Cod to teach for Helen Weinman at her shop Heart Beat Quilts. I took class photos and then it was home for a week to make kits for the Houston Show. I got back from Houston and a week later finished off the film. Then My Father died and in the next few weeks the film was forgotten. Anyway I just came across the photos..sent copies off to Helen and now I want you to see the photos.

I love teaching for Helen as she and her wonderful mother Sylvia have become great friends. You can see a collage of Sylvia in "Arts and Inspirations". My classes are always filled at Heart Beat Quilts and the staff is exceptional. Above right is a photo of Helen, mother Sylvia and best friends June and George. We had a lovely evening together with the most delicious sushi I have ever tasted. Below left is a class photo.
Helen has one of the largest collections of Hoffman fabrics and an extensive book selection. You can view Helen's wonderful websight at Helen maintains this wonderful websight and it is full of wonderful information and lots of good stuff to buy!

It was a fast four day trip but Helen got me to the beach for a walk. I love to look for mermaid toenails which are really the irridescent lining of a shell and comes in yellow to coral colours. I get the most interesting photos in Cape Cod and this particular one of mermaid toenails and seaweed will be added to a group of photos I am putting together for a card line. You can view some of my photos on this websight, under Photography.

I will end this letter with an official La Veta welcome to my new neighbours Ricky Tims and Justin Shultz. Here is a photo of them in front of their booth at La Veta's Winter Fest. Ricky's beautiful quilt art will be an asset to our community.

At the previous Houston Quilt Show, Ricky came up to tell me that he would soon be my neighbour and that he and his partner Justin plan to build a quilt retreat on forty acres just outside of La Veta. I was shocked that he even knew about La Veta!

I saw them next them at the Pub and Grub just after Christmas and found out they had purchased a home just down the street....I am thrilled to have them as neighbours. Ricky and Justin's Quilt Retreat near Mount Baldy will be a great asset to the community. Already they are planning a quilt show for La Veta and finally I have friends here that really know what I do for a living!! I look forward to lots of good times with them. You can see Ricky's beautiful quilts on his websight

Have a very happy summer and I hope it is a peaceful one. Perhaps our paths will will have to be in La Veta as I am not venturing far from my garden! I do not have to travel until July 29th when I will be off to beautiful Augusta, Main. ( Please check the calendar)

Love to all


P.S. I am almost embarrassed to introduce you to a new member of the family...Here is Oscar de Wilde One, a wee little kitten who was abandoned and starving, just 4 months old and weighing 4 pounds...
he is a sweet little fellow and is my special buddy and he thinks I am his mother!!


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