Category Archives: Life

English Paper Piecing Quilt, Part 3

This winter I’ve been working on assembling the top of my hand quilting project. It is not a fast process! The batting for a queen sized quilt measures 90 x 108″ which means that my quilt top needs to be about 86 x 104″ before it can be assembled into a “quilt sandwich.” My quilt currently measures about 47 x 40″ which means in terms of area, I’m about a quarter of the way done!

Here it is, looking bigger than it is because it’s laid out on a full size bed, on Saturday, February 22:

Quilt, February 2015

I’m so glad I stopped to measure it. To look at my box of unassembled quilt pieces is really quite depressing and makes me feel like I have even further to go!

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Snow! Finally!

I know this winter has been a weird or bad one for a lot of the country. Boston and a good chunk of the North East is buried. California’s wildfire season may start tomorrow considering their very low snowpack (with the Northwest not far behind). Even the south is getting hit with a winter storm right now.

Here in Colorado, we had no snow in town at 7,000′ and most of our south facing slopes up to almost 12,000′ were getting patchy. They were calling for some snow and although during my hike with Sprocket Saturday it looked like the snow might actually be coming it didn’t materialize before I went to bed that night.

I woke up Sunday morning to some wet, heavy snow falling. I had to go up to Ouray and when I returned, I shoveled about 3″ from my driveway and headed inside. It never seemed to snow hard but it snowed pretty constantly the rest of the day. I got a phone call as I was getting in bed that school would be delayed 2 hours the next morning. I shut off my alarm (Sprocket would be alarm enough with a delay!) and went to bed.

In the morning, I learned school was canceled. There were about 16″ of snow on the ground and it was time to get shoveling.

FSJ in the snow. February 2015

Shoveled driveway

Sprocket with snow on nose

Clinton Street

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The (Few) Happy Valentine’s Days

Valentine’s Day.

I honestly have had, in my 29 Valentine’s Days, two, and perhaps a third, that made me feel like this day of love really is okay.

1.

I was about eight. My family went “camping” (we were in our motorhome) at the ocean. I took my pink Minnie Mouse suitcase and packed it with “books and my stuff” but really, I squirreled away the last few heart shaped sugar cookies my mom had made (no one questioned whether I’d actually eaten them all), made Valentines for my mom, my dad, and my sister (I might have even made one for the dog…). I stole some of the Valentines decorations out of my room (yes, our rooms were always decorated for holidays) so I could decorate the motorhome on Valentines day, and not before.

My family was so delighted that I’d taken the time to make them feel special. I still remember my mom and dad just kind of tilting their heads and laughing a bit at the holiday exuberance of their oldest daughter.

2.

I was a sophomore in high school. Neither my friend or I had Valentines but we had planned an evening to watch Bridget Jones’ Diary and eat pizza. I had already established to my friends and family that I hated Valentine’s Day and that it was a stupid holiday designed to make single people feel dumb. (The prior year I’d wore a Maleficent t-shirt to my friends red-pink-and-white party.) We’d both read the books and in our own sixteen year old way, identified with the thirty-something “singleton” Bridget.

That morning, flowers had been delivered to my house from a “Bellarmine freind” (Bellarmine was my high school and, yes, it was spelled “freind.”) We spent a good chunk of our evening speculating who the “freind” was and giggling. Her mom had bought us pizza and had brought us a Papa Murphy’s heart shaped special. We gleefully tore into it with kitchen shears, ripping the heart apart into pieces we felt symbolized our young, tortured, lonely hearts.

When I got back to my house that evening, my parents had Valentines Day gifts for me. I had gotten a small potted rose, but the part that really made my day was the “necklace” of pickle balls on red curling ribbon. (My dad used to spend hours on spring and summer evenings “pitching” to me in the backyard. I was one lucky kid.)

I went to bed that Valentine’s Day feeling lucky to have a friend I could talk to about anything and a family that loved me and was able to poke fun at a holiday that had made me feel sad.

3.

It was my first Valentine’s Day with F. It was my first Valentine’s Day with a boyfriend ever.

He planned a trip for us to a friend’s beach cabin for the weekend. Weeks before Valentines Day I started shopping for a card and couldn’t find anything that I liked. I ended up making The Best Card Ever and having it printed online. It was the front page of Craigslist on the cover and the text of the personal ad that brought us together inside. I think I bought him a book I thought he’d like to go with it but I’m not really sure.

We spent the weekend hanging out in the Northwest winter damp. I didn’t feel the sense of romance I thought I’d feel but it was mostly nice. We’d get the hang of this, I thought.

We never did have an excellent Valentines Day.

 

 

This year, I’ll be out, hiking, alone for Valentines Day.

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Swan Creek Hiking & Salmon Spawning

One of my favorite phone calls of 2014 was one from my nephew, Andrew. I was just getting down from the mountains and had a message on my phone, “Hi, Aunty Beth. I was wondering if you could come over so we can go hiking.” I called him back and reminded him that I live in Colorado which is far away so I couldn’t come over today. He was very understanding and matter of factly said, “Okay, then we’ll go hiking next time you’re here, right?”

Andrew and I almost had conflicting travel schedules and only overlapped in Tacoma for one day so I was sure to follow up on my promise and get him outside. Andrew’s hiking requirements go as follows: “We get in the Jeep, drive to the woods, and hike.” (I found this out when I tried to convince four year old Drew that a walk in the neighborhood counted as a hike… he was not impressed.) Luckily for me, my mom lives near an awesome green space: Swan Creek Park.

Beth and Andrew

I’ve taken Andrew hiking here several times now and he loves it. Its big enough and the woods are dense enough that it really feels like hiking even if you are a 5 minute drive from downtown Tacoma. This time, when we got out of the car, there were signs announcing that the annual salmon run was happening. I was skeptical about there being much to see until we made it to the creek—the smell of dead fish was unmistakable.

Andrew inspecting dead salmon

Andrew was totally fascinated with the dead fish (“Aunty Beth, all of their eyes are gone!!”) and almost as excited with the few live fish still working their way upstream. I mentally changed gears: I was pretty sure we weren’t going to actually go hiking that day but instead would spend the whole time watching the fish and learning about them.

Watching salmon swim upriver

Much to my surprise, after wandering back and forth in the same area of the creek, Andrew was still interested in going for a hike. As a matter of fact, after hearing that he’d already walked a mile according to the GPS on my phone, he declared he was going to hike five miles.

Andrew

The trail was just muddy enough to be exciting but the sun was shining—an absolutely perfect day to be out in nature.

Trees

image

I’m so excited that he’s getting older. Even after learning about the salmon, he was still excited to learn about ferns and how they can help soothe stinging nettles.

Andrew.

We learned that this is in fact a plant, not an animal, and that it is called lichen:

Andrew and lichen

We saw big stumps that showed evidence of springboard logging and talked about that. We even learned the importance of silly selfies:

Beth and Andrew

We didn’t make it five miles but to my surprise, we did three miles—no crying, no whining, and all fun.

Andrew

Andrew even had so much fun that he was sure to tell his brother Junior that next time he just has to come hiking with Aunty Beth.

Andrew

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