November 20, 2008

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The year of 2008 has been one of the busiest in my life. It has gone by so fast with Thanksgiving just a week off and Christmas is right behind it!!!!

I am currently holed up in a very nice hotel room in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Hence the Photo Booth Photo.!!

Tomorrow night I give a lecture at the Mississauga Quilt Guild Yearly Dinner Celebration with three classes to follow. This is my final teaching trip for the year. It is lovely to be back in my beloved Canada and a nice way to end the work year.

In order to catch you up with my year I am going to do a capsulated monthly version with short text and photos. It is the least I can do to make up for my very lax performance with my news letters!! It will be in three parts.....with four months in each section.....get a cup of coffee and enjoy!


The year of 2008 blew in with a big storm and gave our southwest home a good covering of snow. The beauty of living in Colorado is that the storms come in and the next day we have beautiful sunshine!!!! We really depend on the winter snow fall for the snow pack in the mountains which will bring us lots of moisture in the spring.



Lucky for me I was soon off to Florida, near Miami for a teaching assignment. Now that is a smart way to book my teaching gigs!...go to only tropical areas during the winter!!!

I stayed with Judy and Eddie kaplan....They convinced me to stay with them.....something I never do because of past traumas and dramas. They assured me if I did not like the arrangement...I could go to a hotel....so off I went. I had a wonderful room and bathroom off to one end of the house. I had internet and lots of privacy. They turned out to be the best hosts I have ever had! I happily spent lots of time with them and we even enjoyed a common love for Barack Obama and watched some television together.

Because I was so limited in time they took pity on me and drove me along the beach for some photos on the way to their house. Right after the last class they took me to South Beach which I love and we had a wonderful meal on the street.... It was wonderful to be there again....We walked along the boardwalk and people watched!!!! We also went into some of the art-deco hotels and then watched as the neon lights came on.....Wow!


I love the ocean so much and I feel so happy when I can walk barefooted in the sand. The palm trees on the sandy beaches are so interesting and sooooo tall....very little shade that is for sure. The Kaplans were kind enough to let me out of the car near a beach in Fort Lauderdale, ....just to take off my heels and walk along the beach was absolute heaven.


As we were driving along I kept noticing all the stacked plastic beach chairs on the beaches....finally I made Eddy stop the car....I ran across the road (Yes! in my heels) and snapped several shots.....I love the lighting and the lines in this photo.
It makes for a story photo...you wonder why they are stacked up like that and when will they be used again?!!


Shot down at South Beach on the board walk. The sun was rapidly sinking and the light was so beautiful. People were everywhere, enjoying the mild weather and the beautiful beach. From young couples with babies to old leathery men and their young trophy bits of fluff to gorgeous gay men on roller blades and old Cuban grandmothers......What a great area!


South Beach at night is a neon paradise....The lights are so vivid and they seem to pulsate with the wonderful beat of the salsa music blaring from every open door. We even went up to the gate of the Versaci mansion to peer into the beautiful gardens...What a loss to the world of fashion, no the whole world, when he was murdered!



February was relatively quiet month with lots of time in the studio, working on new projects and new designs for Robert Kaufman Fabrics. I had one trip to Dallas for the Fiber Arts Guild and a wonderful visit with friends.

So this is our cat Alberta Clipper and she is a real character.
Every morning she goes through these Yoga gyrations for her morning bath!!

Alberta was born on our family ranch back in Alberta, Canada and
she was one of the last wild kittens left on our family ranch.
She was captured with her sibblings and mother on a visit to home.

We have had her since she was six weeks old! I fondly refer to her as my family inheritance

Bertie is rather a jealous old girl and likes to make life miserable for the porch cats. She is a bit of a bully!! She takes her position of first cat very seriously!
We try to control her but have you ever tried to tell a cat what to do?!!!


This amazing Amaryllis belonged to my dear friend Dulany Lingo.
Everyone around here grows Amaryllis for the holidays. But Dulany always
finds unusual ones.
I went over one afternoon and we set it up in front of a black board
and got some terrific shots.

I am now a member of Flickr.com and boy am I hooked.
It is a photography site that caters to photographers.
My kids got me set up with it and we share photos and
communicate through Fickr.
I use it as a filing system for all my photographs. It allows me to catagorize my photographs and I can decide if they will be private or open to public viewing!!


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Above, on the left, are my dear friends Jack and Anne Brockette of Dallas, Texas. Jack and I go way back through our love of fabrics and design. He has won so many teaching awards with his high school art programs that mix special needs children with regular students.

Jack makes wonderful art garments using silk organza and a Pujagi method of french seams. He has had many garments in the Fairfield Fashion shows.

After the classes of the Fibre Art Guild I stayed with Jack and Ann for a couple of days. I got to meet Joan Shultz (a long time friend of the Brockettes) who had curated the gallery show.

Joan Shultz, shown on the right, is the most amazing fibre artist. Her work hangs in galleries and private collections world wide. I really enjoyed our time together with the Brockettes. Here she is at the Dallas Arboretum. They took me there to photograph flowers!!


On the way back to Colorado from Texas I was able to snap this photo. I always enjoy the designs made in the fields. here they are highlighted with snow...
I often make sketches of the crop designs. I keep thinking I will use them for a fibre project one day!!!

I carry a small sketch book with me all the time. It is 4" x 6" in size and I usually fill up two each year! I use them to keep notes and ideas. There are lots of "To Do" lists!!


It was the Super Tuesday and I was in the Denver Airport waiting for a plane. There was a young man sitting there waving an Obama sign. People of all ages were coming up to speak to him. It seemed that everyone was curious.

I went over and found out that he was a university student in New York. He was coming home to Colorado Springs so that he could vote in the primaries!!
He felt so strongly about Obama that he was willing take the time to return home to vote. and to stand in an Airport waving a sign!

It was the first time I really related this election to the John Kennedy election.
The first time since Robert Kennedy was assassinated that I have ever felt hopeful.
I was a university student in California and helped to stuff envelopes for Robert Kennedy. We were so full of ideals and hope.

I went home and told Ernest all about this young man and what an impression he made on me. It was really an eye opener to see young people wanting to have a voice in the election process.


The best part of March is an annual teaching trip to Asilomar, California and the Empty Spools seminars. I always combine this teaching gig with a visit to my children in Los Angeles, Portland and Oakland, California. This coming year I will be teaching a Landscape/Seascape class, (my absolute favorite to teach). The students come up with the most amazing pieces....real art pieces. You do not have to be an expert either to take this class. My next class for Asilomar is late February,2009 You can check out the Empty Spools Seminars at www.emptyspoolsseminars.com


Here is my 2008 Crazy quilt Class in Asilomar. What a wonderful bunch of troopers. Most of us were down with the flue and the other half was fighting it off!!!! We carried on though and the students came up with wonderful pieces.


Every year at Asilomar I ask students to join me during low tide down at the beach. I love to show them the amazing anenomes. At first they look like big blobs covered with sand and bits of shell. The minute the water washes up the anenomes open up to show their glorious colours!!!


Here we are true beach bums with our trousers rolledup to our knees....Look at all the smiling faces!! This is what a walk on the beach and wading in the tide pools will do for you! You would never know that we were all battling a terrible flue!


You never know what you will find on the beach. This mussel shell acts as a base for a wonderful coral bouquet. We found it trapped in a tide pool.

I love to take photos of beach debris. I use my photos for reference in my art pieces. Many timesI use them for photo collages.

The beach is just a short walk from the Asilomar grounds. You can nip down there
before and after class or at the lunch break. I also check out the local newpaper for the high and low tides.

I like to go during low tide because of the star fish and sea anenomes. The pools trap all kinds of hermit crabs wearing turban shell outfits.

Some of the rocks are covered in pinkish grey mussel shells....all hanging on for dear life!! Down around the bottom in the water line are rows and rows of Turban shells.

The kelp washes ashore in various colors and shapes creating hidey holes for little sand crabs and various insects.


Here I am showing the girls some new stitches for their crazy quilt squares. In this class we complete four 12" squares and get quite a bit of embellishments and embroidery on them.


The Calla Lilies always bloom late February and March in the Monterey area.
I was able to slip out each afternoon to catch these beautiful flowers back-lit by the warm sun.

I highly recommend that you come to an Empty Spools Seminar in Asilomar. The surround beauty is breathtaking and the accommodations are terrific and so are the teachers!


A postcard photo of beach debris. Memories of Asilomar!!!



I love to go to Los Angeles for one main reason....I have Grandchildren there!!!!
I get to see my girls and my in-laws plus I get to take photos.

Above is a photo of some of the primroses growing along the sidewalks near my families home in Toluca Lake.

To the right is my latest Grand-Dog. Her name is Cammie and she is a bundle of sweetness in the form of a Golden Retriever.

Below is Eric, Dana and Kelse. I always stay with them for a few days and I really love being with them. Kelse is now taking photography lessons. Eric is my dear son in law who takes care of my web site.....Dana is the most wonderful daughter anyone could have.

This was taken at our very favorite restaurant on lower Sunset...the french restaurant "Taix". We always meet there for a family meal and lots of laughs!



Here I am with Evie Ashworth who is the head
of the Design Department of Robert Kaufman Fabrics.
I love working with her and her team.
Everyone at Robert Kaufman is wonderful.
They are like a big family and I am very grateful to be part of the Kaufman family.

I spend a day with Evie and presented my new ideas
for a second line of fabrics. Ken Kaufman came for the presentation and
they really liked my designs. We will use chose seven designs to work on.
We are calling the new line "Botanica".... They want it to come out
for the Houston Quilt Market in October.

That seems a long way off but there are all kinds of decisions to make and lots of serious edits before it is printed in Japan.


I stopped in Oakland to see Jason and Brenda. The magnolia trees were is glorious bloom and I must have taken over two hundred photos. This will give you a good idea of the blooms. I went out everyday and walked different streets in search of Magnolia blooms!


Everywhere I went there were Obama signs...in windows, on banners and in yards. It was early in the Primaries but he was definitely an Oakland favorite.

Jason was recovering from a terrible bike accident and had returned to his photography. It was a God-send because it kept his mind off the pain and kept him occupied.

Below is my wonderful daughter-in-law Brenda and my Grand-Dog Cippo. Brenda is busy with making cards and stickers for Jason's gallery show.
I typed out the photography ID cards on Grandma Montano's very old typewriter which gave the type a cool look. The keys kept sticking!

The Gallery show was held in a popular Coffee shop/Gallery, called Roos just a few doors down from Jason's bike shop. Lots of neighbours, customers, family and friends came to the opening and stayed and stayed and stayed!!!!

His Gallery show was a huge success and I was so proud of him.
His specialty is street photography in black and white.
His photographs are very large, printed on archival paper
and mounted on Gator board. It gives a crisp contemporary look to his work.

Below is a photo of us at the opening. Notice the beaming proud Mummy. Next to that photo is me on the streets of Oakland. I was coming back from buying flowers for Brenda. Below both of these is a shot at the Gallery.




Goodbyes come much too soon. It was time to say goodbye to my family in Oakland and time to travel up to Portland, Oregon to spend a few days with Madeleine.

Jason and his father Fred Montano gave me a ride to the airport. I am lucky to be friends with my ex husband. We share two wonderful children and he is a wonderful father.

Fred works at Montanovelo as the accountant and general all around go to guy. Jason could not run his shop without his Dad.

It is always hard to say goodbye to my children...but I try to be brave.


I managed to hit four wonderful areas in early springtime on the West Coast.
Lucky me because back home in La Veta it was snowing!
These crocus were photographed in a yard near Madeleine's house.

I love Portland, Oregon, it is one of the most beautiful cites I have ever visited. The people are so friendly and accepting. There are huge green areas and it seems that every other person has a dog! Dogs are accepted everywhere, even in some shops! It is known as the city of bridges and of course it is home to Powels Bookstore, the largest, most wonderful book store in the world.
Here is Maddie and her beloved dog Belah which means beloved in Arabic. She is one of my three Grand-Dogs! Maddie always has to pause and wait for me to catch up....she walks soooo fast and I am very slow pausing to take photos.......

We always go to Saturday Market in downtown Portland. The Saturday market is a wonderful place filled with vendors, food, music, artists and interesting people.
There are buskers everywhere performing for the very appreciative crowds. Maddie and I always do our birthday and Christmas shopping there.


Maddie took me for a really nice drive to see some of the old areas of the city. Best of all she took me to a Blues concert for my birthday.....It was terrific!!!
One of the three singers was Shamika Copeland!!! one of my all time favorites!....Shamika Copeland can make the blues get up and shake!!!! She was amazing and people were up and dancing in the aisles!

All too soon our visit was over and it was time for me to go home!!!! I hate saying goodbye to Maddie.


I was in for a real shock when I got home.....Forget about spring on the West Coast....La Veta was socked in deep winter and we were up to our armpits in snow!!! My little cottage looked so forlorn and cold.....as you can see by this photograph everything was in the grip of Old Man winter....

Ernest had given up keeping the walkways cleared because it all blew in five minutes later! He is a real sport about the snow. He is really an L.A. boy and had never seen snow till he moved to La Veta!


It was fun to open up my birthday cards and some presents.
Here I am with my favorite surprise gift.
A pair of crazy Shamrock glasses from my friend Robin.
A great gift for this St. Patrick's Day baby!!!!
Any gift that makes you snort with laughter is a winner!

Of course the best part of travel is coming home to your own bed!!!
I travel so much that I have the floor plans of all the major hotel rooms
memorized!! I can get up in the middle of the night
and get to the bathroom without switching on a light!!

I love teaching but the travel is wearing thin.
The airlines are cutting back on everything and
lots of times the planes are late and people get cranky.
The worse part for me is that now I have to
ship stuff because they are limiting the number of bags.
Some day we will be beamed up and sent off to our destinations.....
but something tells me that will not be in my lifetime......sighhhhh!!!!


April in Colorado is a challenge to say the least!! One day there is sunshine and summer like breezes with Daffodils, tulips and Hyacinth nodding their heads. The next day it below freezing with hurricane force winds , snow drifts and ice-cicles hanging along the roof line!!!! Of course the flowers are all under the snow drifts!!
But before you despair the sun comes back out and the flowers all try again to look cheerful and the snow has disappeared and there is lots of mud!!!!
The photos above give an idea of what we go through, As avid gardners this drives us mental....These poor little daffodils and Hyacinth have been beaten down three times!!!! It is enough to make me want to sit in a corner and suck my thumb or perhaps screaming into a pillow would be better!!!!
I always warn the April students to be prepared for anything. The April Crazy quilt seminar is always a great bonding experience and there is lots of laughter!! The barametric pressure is up and down with the changing weather. One day they are in T-shirts and we are off to take photos., the next we are looking out at snowflakes!

To the right is a photo of our beloved Wahatoya Mountains on the third day of our class. As you can see from the snow on the mountains....we had been through a snow flurry!!!! We were in T-shirts and light sweaters for this excursion!!!

The students were simply wonderful and there was such a feeling of friendship. They came from all over the USA and brought with them lots of stories and fun.
Here we are out in the snow on the first day of class!


It did not take them long to get right into the swing of Crazy Quilting. There were piles of fabric everywhere and the girls were really coming up with wonderful squares!!! The studio is just right for six students. They have lots of time in the studio and can work as much or as little as they wish!!!!

I always make time to visit other artists in their studios and homes.
If Ricky Tims is home we always go for a visit and if we are lucky he will play the piano for us. Ricky has several seminars in his gallery and always brings his students to my studio for a visit. It is nice to share the talents of the artists in La Veta.

So here comes Trouble, walking along the studio porch, in the form of a very spoiled furry little cat who thinks he is a person!!!!

Oscar D'Wilde One is my cat and I have raised hims since I found him, lost in a field, as a kitten. He thinks I am his mother! He cannot understand why he is not allowed in the Studio when a seminar is in session.

He spends his days plotting to get into the classroom. He hides in closets, suitcases and tries to look invisible on counters, shelves and even the ironing board!!!!
This is the second day of class!!! No snow!!!


Here he is again....trying to look invisible by laying on my teaching materials.
I am a bit of a sucker for animals and they are part of my life. Oscar is my personal cat but he shares space with nine others.....

Alberta is our other house cat and all the others are porch cats.....ferral cats who are now fat, happy, neutered, protected pets all with a special name and a special place on the porch to sleep.
We have two dogs, Ella Fitzgerald and Oliver Tripod Twist.


We always go up to the Dog Bar Sunday Evening which is two thousand feet higher and seventeen miles south of La Veta, in Cuchara. The view along the way is amazing.
Here is a popular stop along the way. Friends of ours raise miniature donkeys and if we are lucky they are up near the fence. All of them are adorable and real suckers for carrots!!!!

The barn is a famous landmark in the area. It is one of dozens of well kept vintage barns. They take a lot of extra care but it is money well spent.


We invite the students to our home for a big barbique meal. Ernest does it all cooking ribs and shrimp/vegetable skewers, along with salad and a big pie!!!!
I could never run the seminars without him because he keeps the students happy with treats in the morning and afternoons!!


Ernest is a real "Mother Hen" and is the bedrock of my family. He is always busy with the garden and his pets and keeping everything running smooth.

To the right is a photo taken of me at the La Veta Library. I was so happy to record all the old houses, sheds and barns of La Veta through photography and watercolor painting. I printed them out on silk and worked them into a wall hanging using my new fabric line "Botanica" and my thread and ribbon line. I love La Veta and it felt good to be able to give something to my community.


I take the students to our Local Quilt store and it is always a lot of fun. They are wonderful to carry my whole line of fabric. Here I am sitting on the fabric bench patiently waiting for the students.

Just down a couple of store fronts is a wonderful artist's Co-Op called La Veta Fine Arts. I always find something wonderful in there as do the students. It is nice to be able to support the local artists and yet have something beautiful to show for it!!!!
I am a member of the local SPACE gallery which was started years ago for the local artists. It is run with volunteers and has a huge variety of art from pottery to paintings to sculpture to Glass and fibre arts.


All too soon it was time to say goodbye to my students. Five days seems like such a long time but it just whizzes by. Here we are in the studio for our final class photo!

Everyone was in a bit of a dither to get on the road because we heard a storm was coming in!!! Of course I made light of the whole thing and said not to worry ...it won't amount to anything!!!!!!

Many times the students know more than the teacher and they all headed off after lots of hugs and kisses and promises to keep in touch. Many of them chose to stay over in Colorado Springs to be close to the airport....just in case.

Everyone phoned in to say the roads were clear and that a storm was coming in from the north. It was a bit windy but that was all! I went to bed without any worries and very happy they were all snuggled in for the night.


My pet skunk (who lives under my office in the garden shed) and a young fox came in for their nightly meal on the porch. Notice that the fox is waiting for the skunk to finish! He is very wise and very polite!

I am torn about feeding the wild fox but I figure if he eats the dog food he won't eat my cats!!!!
When we woke up the next morning everything was covered in a foot of snow!!!
All that was showing was one lone frozen daffodil!!!!


Wow! what a sight! My Victorian Lady in the garden was wearing a snow cap! Ernest had to go out and shake all the tree branches because the heavy, wet snow was bending them to the breaking point. I stood on the porch in my sheepskin slippers and told him how to do it!!!!!

Two days later all the snow was gone, soaked into the ground. I know we really depend on these big spring snowfalls for our moisture so I am not complaining, but I just wish it could all happen in March. Just once I would like to see all the bulb flowers bloom in all their glory without getting obliterated by the snow!!!!


The sun came out and melted all the snow and life on the porch was as usual.
The cats, all very fat and happy were lolling in the sun shine. Tuxedo Man(shown on the left) was in his usual place on the top rung of the scratching post. Ella was keeping watch over everyone from the studio porch and Ernest was out in the garden checking on the state of the flowers!!!!

I was back in the studio working on a new project for the big art book I am writing for "Dragon Threads".....Life is good in La Veta!!!

Goodbye For Now!!! I will soon post the second part of the HIGH LIGHTS OF 2008.
that will cover the months of May, June, July and August!!!

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