Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Road Trip - heading West

On Monday morning, we left Abilene, heading North West to the city of Lubbock where Michael and I had attended university at Texas Tech.  It was great fun to pass the towns that we remembered so well….Big Spring, Snyder, Post and  Sweetwater (home of the Annual Rattlesnake Roundup).

We enjoyed passing gorgeous, green cotton fields and stately wind farms…..

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We reminisced as we drove, remembering trips that we had taken and people that we had know during our 6 years in Lubbock.

We were reminded of the topography of the area, starting out with flat, flat grasslands and gorgeous blue skies…..

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and moving into the Llano Estacado region with Mesas popping out of the ground like giant mole hills…..

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We enjoyed seeing fields of pump jacks and the smell of freshly pumped oil…..

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We arrived in Lubbock around 11:00 and headed out to find some of the places that were important to us when we lived there.  Unfortunately, our Church was no longer there, our duplex had been torn down for a retirement center to be built and I was unable to recognize the building where I had worked.   Oh well, you cant fight progress!!!

We continued on to the Texas Tech University campus, actually being allowed to drive onto the campus….something that we weren’t allowed to do when we were students!!

We had forgotten how pretty the campus was, with a Spanish feel to the architecture….

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We visited the Biology building where Michael received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree under the tutelage of Dr. Robert Baker.  We enjoyed a few minutes visiting with him in the same office that we first met him in…. 38 years ago!!!

DSC00082 We also visited the Business Administration building where I received my Bachelor’s Degree…..

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….although it is now the Mass Communications Building.

We enjoyed taking photos of ourselves at the football stadium…..GO RAIDERS!!……

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….and the Will Rogers statue……

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We left the University and started the most fun part of the day…..a visit with some old friends over a two hour lunch.   We first met Bill and Gayle when we were all students at TTU and had re-connected over the last few years over Facebook.  They currently live in Denver but were visiting in Lubbock with family.   It was as if we had never been apart and we happily enjoyed our food and TONS of fun stories about our lives. 

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It was definitely the highlight of our day!!

After lunch we got out the GPS to put in the address for our hotel in Clovis, New Mexico.  The only problem was that we had both forgotten to book a hotel!!!  Fortunately we were able to use our phone to find a hotel and headed on the last hour and a half of our trip.

We enjoyed passing thru the towns of Tahoka, Anton, Littlefield, Levelland, Muleshoe (one friend used to pronounce it Mul-es-hoe rather than Mule-shoe), Progress, Farwell and Bovina.

One of the things that surprised us were the freight trains….we NEVER see them at home.  Before the day was over, we had seen over 10 different trains criss-crossing the countryside…..

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I am VERY happy with this photograph, especially as we were driving at 75 miles per hour at the time!!!

We arrived in Clovis, checked into our hotel, took a spin around the city and then retired to the hotel for an enjoyable night of relaxing and video watching.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Road Trip - Part One

The last time that Michael and I made a road trip was in 2006…a trip to Texas to visit our Mothers and then on to San Antonio, Texas and to visit some of Michael’s research sites in Louisiana.

Since then there hasn’t been a lot of time for car travel as we have done a LOT of overseas travel….. 8 weeks in England in 2007, 2 weeks in India and 4 weeks in Australia in 2008,  10 days in Portugal in 2009, two 2 week trips to China and then 7 weeks in Italy in 2010, 5 weeks in China and Thailand in 2011 and finally, 3 weeks in Turkey and 3 weeks in China in 2012!!!!

SO, with much excitement we hit the road for a car trip….starting in Texas and then continuing to New Mexico.

We knew that the trip to Abilene, Texas would be a very long and fairly boring trip so we downloaded the book “A Walk in The Woods” by Bill Bryson.  It was the perfect companion to our driving and we enjoyed a 10 hour drive to Shreveport, Louisiana on the first day and then five more hours on the second day, arriving in time to take my Mother out for dinner to celebrate her NINETIETH birthday!!!

On Friday, the day was spent getting ready for the big party and on Saturday we celebrated her Birthday in style with about 60 guests!! 

The food was fun…..

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The cake was BIG…….

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and the table looked great (my cousins put together the banner)…..

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Mom enjoyed every minute of the party, especially visiting with her 93 year old cousin…..

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…..Mom is on the right.

One of the most fun things about this time was that I got to spend time with many of my cousins….some of which I haven’t seen in  FORTY years!!!!  It was such fun to catch up with them  We rounded all of them up for one photo on the stairs……

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It was a fun day and we were all exhausted after it was over!!

On Sunday we spent time with Michael’s Mother, attending Church with her and enjoying the requisite Mexican Food for lunch afterward.

We packed up and got ready for the second leg of our journey…..on Monday we head to New Mexico……

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Use It Up - Part 3

 

After a few days, I returned to the studio to think about where I wanted to head next with the pieced center.

I laid out a 1 inch border of the brown “Grunge” fabric that we were given and was amazed at how well that ugly fabric looked!!!

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To make the best use of the fabrics, I decided that the next border should probably be 2 inch squares, as that would fit the quilt dimensions and would also use all of those squares that I had originally cut for the Nine patch blocks.

I also decided that, after another 1 inch border, I will add a piano key type border that will be made of all of the small pieces of leftovers……

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In the middle of all of these decisions, I started wondering if I wanted to try overdyeing the center section to darken all of the fabrics and then applique something funky over it.   I spoke with my friend Anita  (who is a wonderful hand-dyer) about my idea and she said that she would be worried that some of the light colored fabrics wouldn’t take the dye.  She also encouraged me that the composition of the piece was good, so I have now abandoned the over-dye idea.

Who knows what new idea will take its place!!!!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Getting started……

 

Back in May I posted about a challenge that was presented to a group of friends.  You can check here for the original post about this project.

Well, after laying out the fabrics in all sorts of arrangements, and looking at tons of books for ideas, and changing my mind every day, I finally got fed up with waiting and tromped upstairs to make a start on the project.  I decided that I would just start cutting and sewing and see what would happen!!

I started out by spending time measuring various pieces and trying to determine the sizes that might work best.  I finally came up with the idea of basing the project on 6 inch blocks…..4 patch blocks that use 3 inch patches and 9 patch blocks that use 2 inch patches.

I began making a few half-square triangles and then added some other squares to make a block…..

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This is the back of one such block, showing that I had to make a TINY, TINY seam in one of the fabrics to make the patch big enough…..

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I then started making 9 patch blocks

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After I had made 4 of these I realized that they didn’t have enough contrast so ended up taking them apart and re-piecing them with some light colored fabrics.

On of the fabrics that I was given had large dots on it so I decided to fussy-cut it to make the best use of the dots.  After making a photocopy of the fabric, I played with different layouts so that I wouldn’t cut the fabric wrong…..

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Having “un-sewed” and re-pieced almost everything that I did originally, I was pleased to lay them out and see that they looked ok……

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Now it was time to see if I could add the 4-patch blocks that I had made.  Unfortunately, I tried every imaginable layout, but they just didn’t look right.  So, I pulled out the thread picker and started taking them apart too.    I turned the triangles  into Flying Geese blocks and laid them out around the 9 patches……

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VOILA…..at last, I can say that I am starting to like the piece!!!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hitting the trail…...

Back in January, Michael and I started planning for an upcoming trip to Texas to give my Mother a 90th Birthday Party.  We decided that we would add some vacation time to this trip and spend a few days in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  As we talked we started reminiscing about our honeymoon that was spent Backpacking in the Pecos Wilderness area of the Santa Fe National Forest.  As we talked further, we decided that we would return to the area and re-trace a portion of our honeymoon journey.

Now it gets interesting…..first of all, our equipment was all old, out of date and HEAVY, so Michael has spent a lot of time in the last few months searching for and purchasing some nice new equipment.

The next worry was whether or not my knees would hold up to such a journey.  My Physical Therapist said that he felt sure that I wouldn’t have any problems, but I was concerned anyway.

So, we planned to do a day hike along the Appalachian Trail to test out the equipment and my old (and remodeled) knees.  Today was the day for the journey………….

We had postponed several times due to the rainy weather, but since the weather service was predicting a decreasing chance of showers as the day went on, we decided to give it a try.

We arrived at the approach trail to Blood Mountain (the tallest mountain on the Georgia section of the AT)……

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The first thing that we noticed were TONS of mushrooms, of all sizes, shapes and varieties….

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This one was really interesting……

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….and Michael climbed the side of the mountain to photograph this one……

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As we hiked upward, the weather changed from fog, to rain, to sun and then back to fog or rain again……so much for the predictions!!!

Our first view from the top of the mountain was shrouded in fog, so we continued a bit further to the Blood Mountain Shelter…….

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….where we proceeded to have morning tea  (coffee, tea and Trail Mix)…..

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We enjoyed using our new stove……

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….which weighs over a pound less than the old one!!!!

As we started the return journey, the clouds started parting and the sun began to shine……

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At each outlook we were able to see the surrounding mountains more clearly…..

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We learned a valuable lesson when we missed the White Blaze that marked a turn in the trail…..

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….and instead ended up on this shear face of lichen covered rocks……

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As the rocks became more and more slippery, Michael decided that we had indeed missed the trail.  We ended up traversing the rocks on our butts and then climbing “cross-country” to return to the trail.    Needless to say, we watched diligently for blazes for the rest of the journey!!!

As we arrived at the turn to go back to our car, we were both feeling healthy and the weather looked good, so we decided to climb further down the trail and visit the backpacking store at Mountain Crossings.  Most of this leg of the journey was wonderful, except it started pouring rain just before we reached the bottom. 

We made a mad dash across the road to the store, only to be met with movie cameras and crew.  They were apparently making a Sci-Fi movie about a backpacker….will have to watch for it!!

The rain returned while we were in the store, but stopped long enough for us to make the short hike up the road to the parking area…..

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The great news is that my knees didn’t hurt at all and should be fine for future hiking.

The bad news is that we found out that the area we were planning to hike in New Mexico has been closed due to potential fires and/or floods, so we will not be able to backpack there this year.   After today’s success, we are thinking that we might make a day trip to one of the other National Parks in the Santa Fe area…..will let you know!!!!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

It’s Raining…..again!!

 

It has been raining almost every day for the past three weeks which has been great for the flowers….

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……but has caused some interesting new life to sprout in our yard.

These little dainty mushrooms appear early each morning but have shriveled and are gone by midday…….

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They are about 2 inches in diameter.

 

The funniest ones are these tiny growths on our deck railing…..

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Oh for a bit of sunshine!!!!!

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