April 23, 2005

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I have so much news to tell you!
I have been working on a line of variegated silk threads and ribbons with Treenway Silks of Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, Canada and I am extremely proud of the whole line. We are now up and running with the line after months and months of blending, mixing, discarding, choosing, deep and meaningful discussion, hair pulling and great angst!!

So it is with much blowing of horns and waving of flags that I introduce to you
"The Montano Series" of Hand-painted Variegated Silk Ribbons and Threads" presented by Judith Baker Montano and Treenway Silks.

You can contact Treenway Silks at:
501 Musgrave Road
Salt Spring Island,
British Columbia, V8K 1V5
Toll-Free 1 888 383 7455
email address -

Or better yet you can click onto their websight right here to view and order "The Montano Series". Watch often as new variegates will be added


So far we have approved forty-two variegates! There are several special advantages to our line. The first being the beautiful and believable colour variations. All the silk ribbon and threads are hand dyed and the variegates are combinations I love to work with.

The colours are blended close together so that you get shading in your flowers and projects. The solid colours are added at 1 1/2" intervals, to create the beautiful variegates. This helps the embroiderer to achieve a more painterly look to a project.

Best of all we offer a dozen different green variegates. To me this is one of the most important hints about silk ribbon embroidery....**every variety of plant has a different green leaf and stem.....therefore each variety of flower, shrub or tree you work up requires a different green! **

We have a fabulous range of greens - from sagey desert greens, seaweed greens, gum tree greens, forest greens to garden greens! I think you will love them all. You can never have enough greens!!

The Montano series offers variegates that I use for my landscapes and free form embroidery as well as my crazy quilt projects. So you will see selections named...Ocean, Pebbles, Seaweed, Glacier Lake, Bark, Shell, Beach, Eucalyptus Bark and Slate. Another part of the series are beautiful variegates named after International places that I love such as La Veta, Tuscany, Taos, and St. Thomas with several more to come. ( I am currently working on Brisbane, Big Sur, Lake Louise, and Mandalay.)

Last but not least is the Cottage Garden Series which I am crazy about. There is an eight colour variegate called Cottage Garden (light and dark). Added to this are many floral variegates such as Autumn Mums, Pussy Willow, Faded Rose, Lily, Concord, Grape Hyacinth, Pansy, Daffodil, Fuchsia, Victorian Rose, Alberta Rose, Daylily, Red Hot Poker, Poppy and Peach Phlox. The list continues to grow.

Right now we offer a silk buttonhole twist and a 4mm. silk ribbon. We plan to add a six stranded silk floss and a soft twisted silk called 8/2. We will also have 7mm and 13mm silk ribbons. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do!!


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Late January Ernest and I joined our dear friends Mac and Shirley McLafferty for a few days of respite from the long winter days and drove to the spa Ojo Calente, just a half hour outside of Taos. We stopped at Orlando's for our Mexican food fix and took time to stop and admire the Rio Grand Gorge. Mac was so excited to show it to us and made us walk out onto the bridge. It was breath takingly scarely and wonderful all at the same time. I am glad I screwed up my courage to do it.

We loved Ojo Calente because the baths are outside, the food simply delicious and the setting was gorgeous. Ernest and I each had massages and scrubs. Best of all for me was floating in the Soda pool!


Here is Ernest in front of the Arsnic pool. After soaking all day we slept like babies all night. At Mac's urging we did hike up up to the plateau to the ancient Poji Indian site where pottery shards cover a huge area. Mac said " it is as if the women all got together and decided to smash a few pots and then walked off!" As you can see they are quite beautiful.

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Now that I look back on this trip, I realize that it was a very special gift and that our higher power works in mysterious ways. We lost our beloved friend Mac in April after a long hospitable stay. It was a terrible shock to all who knew him because he was a a very special human being. He followed the Indian way and the Lakota chiefs named him Standing On A Cloud. He was a good husband, father, brother and friend. He was graced with a kind heart and an amazing sense of humour and musical talent.

Just last week we attended his farewell ceremony in Cuchara at the creekside. Friends and family came together to celebrate Mac. It was wonderful to here the drums and Indian chants. Heartbreaking to see his dog Bear laying under his special shield hanging in the tree. His family sprinkled his ashes into the rushing water and everyone was able to hug each other and share wonderful food and stories about Mac. In some way I know that Mac was pleased with the gathering and it was a good way to say goodby to our special friend.


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March was a wonderful month for me because I turned 60 years old on March 17th. and I managed to celebrate it for two weeks! Turning 60 may send some people into dispair but I look at it as a great achievement and a marvelous journey that is ever unfolding. It comes to mind that it is best not to question why but to accept and try to learn the lesson.

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Ernest gave me a wonderful birthday at the Pub and Grub party and lots of dear friends came to eat and dance. It is wonderful to have a birthday on St. Patricks day because everyone celebrates!! Here I am cutting my cake.

Just before teaching at Asylomar I flew to Portland to see Madeleine and Brian. My baby girl is now a career woman and she flew in from Chicago just one hour earlier and was waiting for me! We had three fun packed days together before she had to fly out to Detroit and I journeyed on to see Jason and Brenda in Oakland.

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Madeleine and Brian spoiled me rotten while I was there with a a special dinner at Jake's Fish House and a breakfast brunch at a marvelous Patisserier called Pix. It is owned and run by a young woman pastry chef who studied for four years in Paris. The pasteries were works of art and the ambience was so wonderful I had to keep reminding myself we were not in france.

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Not only did they take me shopping they gave me a gift certificate trip to Powells Bookstore, simply the best bookstore in the whole world. I order from them all the time through the internet. It is one city block and three stories high of pure book heaven.

Now just imagine that you want to purchase the book Beloved by Toni you walk over to Fiction and there on the M shelf is over 24 selections.....softcovers new and used, Hardcovers, used, Ist. editions, signed, brand new. So much to choose from and it is like that for every book you want. The choices are sometimes headache inducing but you can fix that with a capucino and something to eat in the cafe!! Here is their websight and by the way any order over $50.00 is postage free!!

I want to share this photo of merangues on a tray from the Pix Patisserier in Portland ......They were delicious by the way and the variety of flavours was amazing......there was tawney port, rose, anise, and cerise.

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It was wonderful to see Jason and Brenda again. Jason is so busy with his ever expanding bicycle shop "Montano Velo" and Brenda, my beloved daughter-in-law is busy with her job at the Oakland Parks and Recreation Department and her pursuit of a black belt in Kung Fu!
We celebrated my birthday with wonderful dinners at our favorite Sushi Bar, a Korean Barbecue House and a Chinese lunch...It was so much fun. We even managed to have a Saturday afternoon to enjoy the shops in Berkeley where we had a beautiful Mediterranean lunch and I got to take photos of the Flower vendors.

They are now the proud parents of a young Border Collie named Chippo and I guess that makes me the grand parent!! Anyway he is a gorgeous little fellow and just way too smart. He goes to the shop with Jason and there his main job is to be the shop dog...then he walks home from the shop with Jason every night.

He is pictured below with Jason still wearing his surgery cone collar and a few days later with Brenda in Berkeley. They adopted Chippo through the Milo Foundation which is a group that go to various animal shelters and rescue animals that are one to two days of being put down. They put the potential adoptees through interviews and when approved the dogs or cats go to a good home. They can be found in the Bay area at various sites with their adoption vans.

You can contact them at
The Milo Foundation
P.O. Box 500, Willits, Ca 95490
707 459 4900 fax 707 459 9400
You can visit their websight at:

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Chippo needed to be checked after his neutering surgery and Brenda asked me to come along. We drove to a home in Berkeley where we met the founder of the Milo Foundation, Lynne Tingle. Brenda happend to look out on the porch, froze in place and then uttered the fatal words.
" Oh my God, Mum, you really have to come and look"!
There were at least twenty little dogs milling around out there. Tiny chihuahuas of all shapes, yappy Pomeranian types, little Poodly dogs....and there in the middle of them all was a bedraggled little terrier type (a cross between a wire-haired terrier and a wire-haired dachshund) just sitting there calmly looking around.


I then made the big mistake of asking " What about the little one there in the middle?"
Lynne, sensing a real bleeding heart, went into super sales mode and said "Oh he is a very special case and someone is already interested in him. He is missing one eye and his back left leg! We found him in a dreadful animal shelter near Modesto and he is in bad shape. He'll need lots of love."

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The rest is history. After arranging airline passage, a vet checkup, a trip for pet supplies at the local Pet Store and much running around by Brenda, I became the proud owner of a one eyed, three legged little dog named Oliver Tripod Twist. Here he is pictured with Lynne when we picked him up.

We flew to Monterrey on Sunday for my teaching tour at Asilomar and through prior arrangements, Oliver was taken to a local vets office for boarding.
I then checked in to my classroom and met my students.

By noon all hell had broken loose because the vet discovered that little Oliver had kennel cough..which can be easily cured but is highly contageous so he could not be boarded. Then they broke the news that he was probably much older than I was lead to believe. Instead of five or six he was probably more nine or ten and oh by the way did I know he was completely deaf!!

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Now I had a little dog in a motel that did not allow pets and Asilomar does not allow any animals in the buildings!! So I became a students were so wonderful about it all and for a few days we were able to hide him out but I got busted on the fourth day. I was frantic and very tired because Oliver coughed all night and I was worried sick about breaking the law!! So in complete desperation I rented a jeep from Avis and kept Oliver in there during the day until we were able to fly out to Colorado!!

I tell everyone that Oliver is my 60th. birthday present to myself and a five hundred dollar dog. Even though the Milo foundation sold him to me for half price because of missing parts...there was the expense of airline tickets, vet bills, food, doggy carrier, car rental, etc.

Suzanne Cox of Empty Spools joked and said "You should have bought a diamond!" I am just grateful I didn't get fired!!


I love teaching for Empty Spools at Asilomar because of the three nice ladies who run it, the setting and the fact that I get to be with my students for five days! This year they were simply outstanding. Once again I taught Basic Crazy Quilting and the results were stunning. I had students from Alaska, Illinois, Maryland and California with varied backgrounds and careers. It was wonderful to see the results.

But most wonderful of all was their compassion and understanding....... Can you believe one of my students was a veterinarian, Dr. Vickie Valdez Green, and she was so kind to Oliver and gave me lots of advice. On our last day they presented me with a beautiful card and beautiful presents for Oliver and they made me cry.

Ernest was at the airport to greet us and he simply fell in love with Oliver on the spot. We were bundled up and taken home to our little cottage in La Veta where we both fell into bed and slept for 24 hours!!

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All our pets have welcomed Oliver into their lives ...they just seem to know that he has been through a lot....he accepts them and even our huge 11 month old Pyrenees, Ella Fitzgerald. She watches over him in the yard. We have attached a bell to his collar to keep track of him and he is my constant shadow. He also sleeps at the bottom of our bed with a cat or two!! Everyone in La Veta loves him and his story...he is quite a celebrity.


I have purchased a new digital Cannon Rebel and I am loving it. The best thing about this camera is that all my old Cannon lenses fit the Rebel and it looks and handles like my old EOS10 camera.


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I am learning to use Photoshop by taking lots of photos and editing and printing the results. After all these years of being a photographer for my books and for my own pleasure I was just hired to do the cover shot for a music c.d!

We are most fortunate to have a marvelous blues singer, Ken Sajdak from Chicago, now living in Trinidad. He has two very successful c.d.'s already out. We had a great day together and I managed to take over 200 photos and then spent days editing them down to fifty. The above photos were taken in the Elmoro area near Trinidad, Colorado.


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I love being home with Ernest and our pets. We have had lovely big snow storms which means more moisture for our gardens. Ernest is a good sport about getting out to shovel the walkways. We will take our moisture however we can get it!! These two photos of Ernest were taken only ten days apart!!

We are enjoying our workout routines at our local Gym and weekly dancing at the Pub and Grub. Every other week we attend Open Mike Nite to enjoy our local talent.

I am currently working on a big commission trade with Joan Hanley a marvelous local artist and gallery owner. I have always admired her sculptures and fell in love with a bust of a young african man....She loves my crazy quilting wall we are trading. I am doing a nine square wall hanging with 26 family photos and I am enjoying the process.

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We have just been through three days of back breaking work in the gardens...transplanting perrenials....digging up plants that will be distroyed with the construction of the studio/guesthouse. Then there is the weeding, weeding, weeding!! The weather has been glorious and the daffodils have nicely recovered from the last snowfall.

We've had the boys in from Whispering Oaks Nursery to move large trees and shrubs to better homes in the yard, all making way for the studio/guesthouse. Even the old metal garden shed has been relocated. So now we wait patiently for the builder to set a date!!

I wish you much love and peace in your lives. Enjoy your summer and I will be back soon with the next chapter!!


I would like to leave you with a gallery of photographs that I like.

Below on the left is the interior of an abandoned adobe farm house in the Elmoro distrct near Trinidad , Colorado.
The photo on the right was taken in Sedgwick Park in Oakland, California where Brenda and I went on a guided tour.

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The next four photos were taken at the the Monterey Aquarium which is one of my most favorite places in the world. I had exactly one hour there and rushed from the otters to the jellyfish to the shark tank! I am fascinated by the jellyfish most of all. I want to do a Jelly fish project from these photos.

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I love the coral and tropical fish displays. It makes me very homesick for Australia and the Great Barrier Reef!
I waited patiently to see the Great White Shark they have in captivity but could not get a photo. She is soon to be released and I am glad. Some creatures just do not belong in captivity.

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This lovely little fellow is a very fancy Leaf seahorse. His camoflauge is so fanciful and beautiful.

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Last but not least is a photo taken in Taos of an old fence bathed in light with a snow storm looming in the background.

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