2015 / 2016

2016 came in with a visit from our daughter Tara and her family.
It was wonderful to see our son in law Yoichi and grandchildren Rie and Gen. Our son Jason came in for a short visit and we had a big party.

Rie had just returned from teaching in Indonesia and Gen was on a break from university. It was wonderful to have them with us. I don’t know where the time goes! I remember my grandmother saying the same thing but I really notice it with the four older grandchildren. They are wonderful young adults now.

I had earmarked three months of studio time in order to finish up a couple of landscape projects but a call from Jim West of Craftours instigated a wonderful teaching gig in Costa Rica. Sue Spargo was one of the teachers but could not attend as she was battling breast cancer. Jim asked me to take her place and I was reluctant but when I found out that Ginny Beyer, Kay England and Pepper Corey were the other teachers I said yes. After collaborating with Sue, we came up with a plan to continue with her project of an appliqué Toucan and to add my embroidery twist.

The tour group met in San Jose at a resort for the classes and spent a wonderful day of touring. It was wonderful to be with Jim, the students and my teacher friends. The February weather in Colorado was cold and snowing so it was wonderful to enjoy the balmy tropical weather.

I stayed behind, to travel on my own, for five days and ended up in the small coastal town of Jaco. It was wonderful and the beach was so beautiful. I managed to meet lots of local people and to travel to an animal sanctuary, hike up to waterfalls and to take lots of photographs.

One of the big highlights was taking photos of the amazing grafitti in the town of Jaco and up on Miro Mountain in an abandoned Grecian restaurant.

In March I celebrated another birthday (71 years) and I had the most wonderful day. I went hiking with the dogs, opened gifts. I enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Ryus Avenue Bakery and talked to all my children and relatives. The day was topped off with a fabulous dinner at the Bob Cat’s Diner. I went home with beautiful flowers and lots of good memories.

As of today, I have lost 72 pounds and four dress sizes. I am so much stronger and I have finally come to the realization that I am worth the extra effort it takes to stay fit. At the age of seventy-one it is my last ditch effort to finally lose that baby fat I blamed on my son (he is now 43!).

The difference of a year is amazing as I am healthier, stronger and more in control. I am looking forward to the rest of 2016..


2015 was a very busy year and an interesting one for me. There were lots of highs and lows, rather like a roller coaster ride.
I had lots of medical issues to take care of and one was cataract surgery. Some of you may recall me at the 2014 Quilt Festival wearing coke bottle bottom bifocals and walking with a cane. It was a very scary time but after four eye surgeries I have 20/30 vision and do not need readers.

I celebrated my 70th birthday on March 17th, 2015 in Charlotte, N.C. This was the year I faced the fact that most of my medical problems along with the aches and pains were due to my weight.

I met my daughter Maddie in Charleston, S.C. for our annual holiday and told her my concerns. Her answer was to start walking and we did. After a week of walking I was able to get around a couple of blocks without collapsing. Maddie is very fit and I started to eat the things she recommended (all organic and natural). Everything was delicious too. Because we were having so much fun I just did not miss any of the sweets or fried food.

Next I travelled to Oakland, California for a visit with my son Jason and his family. His birthday gift to me was a trip to Big Sur. Jason is a “pescaterian” and eats fish, dairy products but not meat. So I just went along with the program. It was delicious and between all the fresh food and keeping up with a four year old, I was able to walk further and further.

Back in La Veta I kept walking. I made it into a project by taking daily photos of flowers to post on my Facebook page. You can find it at Judith Baker Montano and the photos are part of a project called “On My Walk”. So now I have to walk every day to get my daily photo!

My cousin Faye turned me onto the Fitbit and that really started my walking program. Soon I was walking 10,000 to 12,000 steps per day.
By June I was down 28 pounds and had lost 2 dress sizes. I made a vow to not keep any of my chubby clothes and bundled them all off to Goodwill.

A sidewalk trip injured my right knee and got me into Physio Therapy with my friend Jytte Hale. She says working on me is like an archaeological dig because there are so many old injuries (Barrel racing, falling off horses, down cement steps, tripping in prairie dog holes, falling on sidewalks, etc.) Thanks to her expert help I am walking four to five miles per day and I no longer limp.

We lost our beloved Ella Fitzgerald, our eleven-year-old Great Pyrenees during the summer and we still miss her. The little dogs and the cats were at a loss for some time. The most poignant thing was that her best friend ‘John Coltrane” the black cat died two days later! They are buried together in the back yard. Our hearts will never be the same and we still look for her in the house and the yard.

The summer flew by with returning students for the studio seminars and family visits. The summer was very green and lush and a wonderful departure from the years of drought.

Our daughter Madeleine came out in August to overlap with our son Jason and his daughter Paloma’s visit. It was sooo much fun and sooo busy! We went swimming, did a lot of walking and ate a lot of delicious food.

Later in the month I took a special weeklong break and went on a Gypsy holiday with Jason and Paloma. We just jumped in the car and took off with only the southwest as our destination. Our journey took us to Taos, New Mexico, Ojo Caliente Hot Springs and countless photo shoots along the roads.

Paloma is our “baby” granddaughter and she really keeps us hopping! She is an amazing traveller. She loves to play in my studio with her crayons, tape and coloured paper. This time she wanted to make a quilt for her Mama and we found the fabrics she liked and started a simple 5” square lap quilt.

I spent a few wonderful days in Chattanooga, Tennessee teaching and lecturing. The weather was so mild and I was able to keep up with my walking. Sometimes that means walking in the hotel halls!

Back in La Veta there was a wonderful surprise visit from my niece Rita Fassett and her husband Mark and that overlapped with our oldest Granddaughter Nicole Szilagyi’s visit. We all enjoyed attending La Veta’s Oktoberfest and even managed a trip up the Cuchara Valley to photograph the beautiful fall colours.

It wasn’t long until The Houston Quilt Show and I spent a busy time getting ready for 11 classes and a lecture.

I returned home for two days and then went out on a big tour of Charlotte, North Carolina, San Diego, Orange County and Oakland, California. I was able to fit in family visits along with the work.

I enjoyed my classes in Charlotte and the students were terrific. The nicest part was that I got to stay with my daughter Maddie and her husband Tony! We managed to cram in a visit to the Rapture Center, a wonderful rainy muddy day at the Dog trials and a visit to the symphony!

While teaching in San Diego I was able to fit in a visit to the Carlsbad beach and to see my granddaughter Kelse.

Next it was off to Orange County and then up to Burbank to see our daughter Dana and her husband Eric. Kelse came up from San Diego to go with me to the Garment District and we spent a glorious day going through the fabric stores. She is a film student and is the designated costume designer. We bought fabric for a ball gown and below are the results!

I also got to spend an afternoon with our daughter Kristin and our beloved Nicole.

Last but not least it was on up to Oakland to see Paloma and her parents. We managed to spend time at the beach, and do lots of walking and shopping on Piedmont Avenue. It was a short but wonderful visit.

So that was my year of 2015. It was jam packed with adventure, life changes and lots of family time.
It was good to get back to Ernest and all our furry children. My home and studio are my sanctuary and I always look forward to private time in La Veta. Here is a collage of them all.

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