I’ve already promised (or threatened) to create separate posts for recent adventure and wildlife photos, since I’m still catching up from the Great Blog Silence of 2018, so let’s just decide right now that our 2018 Year in Review will exclude anything having to do with climbing mountains.
2018 was a year of endings and new beginnings. We’ve embraced our new life in Albuquerque, but we’ve also said a lot of goodbyes.
The hardest goodbye was the one we should have expected. Our beloved kitty Snowy passed away this summer, and we miss her every single day. We’d hoped very much that she would live to see her new home in New Mexico–no stairs for her to manage!–but she was ready to say goodbye. We were not.
We found each other at the Dunn County Humane Society in Wisconsin in 2002. Sporting ermine-soft fur and going by the unlikely name of Auntie Em, she was a street cat who’d just had a litter of kittens. Delicate and finicky, our girl purred softly, cuddled sweetly, and hated the smell of coffee. Snowy sat on my wrists while I wrote my novels, shamelessly drank from my water glasses, and imperiously did her own thing. We wouldn’t have had it any other way. She was our little Snowy Bubbles, our Snow Bunny, and we loved her.
Another goodbye took place near Pinewood Springs, Colorado. The week before I moved to New Mexico, my friends Takane and Betsy and I went up into the mountains above our friend Solveig’s childhood home, and we scattered Sol’s ashes to the winds. Solveig loved hiking, she felt ridiculously lucky to to live in Colorado, and it makes me happy to think that her mortal remains have become a part of the wilderness that she cherished. Solveig’s spirit is still with us, and I really believe she’s watching over me.
Even if a goodbye isn’t final, it’s always challenging to be parted from the people we care about. I miss all my Colorado friends–both the ones I met through Solveig, and the ones in the textile community that I found on my own. I’ve joined a new textile guild in Albuquerque, but the gals from the Denver Metro guild helped me become a modern quilter, and I’m grateful to them all.
2018 saw me working on two major projects: a charity quilt and a custom home. Since I figured I needed to exercise my skills as a project manager, I took charge of the Denver Metro guild’s QuiltCon Charity Challenge Quilt, working closely with over a dozen quilters to create “Enigma Variations.” Following the candy-bright color palette and “Modern Traditionalism” prompt assigned by the Modern Quilt Guild, I conceptualized the quilt, collected individual blocks from each contributor, commissioned the talented Amy Wade to do custom quilting, and then put it all together.
Here’s the artist’s statement that I wrote for the QuiltCon show:
We take inspiration from Edward Elgar’s haunting orchestral suite known as the Enigma Variations, whose theme is a counterpoint to an unnamed melody that is never directly heard. Thus the true source material is an enigma. We aim to translate Elgar’s exquisite sense of mystery into fabric. This quilt contains several “Enigma” blocks that both convey and conceal our source material. Through the interplay of our variations, we seek to create a feeling of expansive potential, while retaining a sense of mystery at the core. Blocks by members of the Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild. Quilting by Amy Wade.
I enjoyed designing “Enigma Variations” and seeing the project through to the end. It was a ton of work, but it felt good to make it happen. Project management also played a role in our other major accomplishment for the year: designing our new home.
Building a house is not unlike writing a novel (which is why I don’t have a new novel finished this year–the house took everything I had). You’re dealing with a huge, overwhelming project, and at all times you need to have your eye on both the big picture, and the smaller details. When you write a novel, you have to choose a genre and determine the scope of your undertaking. How many pages? What kind of a story? And then you actually have to write the thing, word by word. For house-building, you select the aesthetic style, the size, and the budget, and then you need to make hundreds of individual choices, just as you do when you’re writing a book.
Steve deserves all the credit for managing the budget and keeping track of our contractors and subcontractors. He’s an engineer, so spreadsheets are in his blood. But I will say that I spent a lot of time this year researching transitional Pueblo Revival houses, creating blueprints, selecting colors and finishes and fixtures and flooring, and designing landscapes. My Pinterest board was full of Spanish and Kiva-style corner fireplaces, and much more.
Steve mapped out the proportions for our fireplace using his excellent math skills. I, however, used LEGOS and painter’s tape.
It all worked out just fine.