The Parkins Report

Events of 2004

It's been a quiet year in the Bitterroot. We took the Master Gardener course in the spring and tried our hand at gardening, in our new greenhouse, with mixed results. Apples got frozen out in the spring, but the cherries and plums were a bumper crop. The greenhouse yielded yellow squash and tomatillos into the fall, plus a few peppers, eggplant, wormy cabbage, and a huge crop of green tomatoes, which steadfastly refused to ripen in the cool summer and early fall, so we pickled them and made vegetarian mincemeat of them.

We replaced the wall furnace and water heaters with a central gas hot water system in late spring, getting rid of our wood stove as well, and expect to have new storm doors and windows by year's end.


This year, we went to Santa Fe, figuring we could get some of the family to meet us. We had a good week touring the old city and surrounding area: Taos, Los Alamos, Madrid, Las Vegas (NM). Shawna and the boys joined us for a trip to the Children's Museum and to Bandelier National Monument, a cliff dwelling ruin near Los Alamos.

A couple of car trips to the Seattle area for family and conferences covered the summer, punctuated by quilt show weekends in central Montana.

The big adventure of the year was a bicycle tour in October, along the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes in Idaho. We rode our tandem 62 miles in one day to celebrate Larye's 61st birthday.

Of course, several weekends at the cabin throughout the year.

On the Internet

Check our family web site for details:

This file in PDF format:


Working at what we enjoy: Judy at the quilting machine, Larye at the computer.


Realizations continues to grow: Judy quilts about 100 client quilts a year, plus charity work and custom restorations and construction.

This year saw a number of entries in the biennial quilt show in Missoula, including a quilt constructed by the Bent Needlers minigroup, of which Judy is a member, which took first place. This quilt also took first place group quilt at the Sapphire Quilters show in Stevensville and was accepted for entry in the International Quilt Show at Houston in November. The quilt (shown above being quilted) was made especially for display in the Yellow Room at the Daly Mansion museum in Hamilton. We also exhibited some of our quilts at the Ravalli County Fair. Yes, Larye is making quilts now, too; well, at least one a year.

Both Judy and Larye attended the Innovations Machine Quilter's conference in Tacoma, attending classes in design, machine maintenance, and marketing. Larye won the vendor's shopping cart door prize, so we ended up driving the 550 miles back to Hamilton nearly smothered in merchandize in our little coupe.

Larye continues to work for Perot Systems Government Services under contract to the Rocky Mountain Laboratories, performing Unix system administration plus some bioinformatics programming. At 3-1/2 years, this is becoming one of Larye's longest-duration projects in his 39-year career.

Information Engineering Services continues to be primarily an in-house department of Realizations, though Larye did teach a quilting software class early in the year, using a combination of Linux, Solaris, and Windows machines to set up a classroom network.


Larye & Judy Parkins

PMB 435, 610 1st St., Ste. 5

Hamilton, MT 59840

(406) 375-6139 (406) 240-3328 (406) 240-3328

Much more on the web. Quilts, trips, etc., plus an expanded version of this report with links.


No new additions this year.

Passages: Nicolaus, our black cat, February 13, Piton, Mark and Candice's cat, October 1.

Visits to Lakewood in February, August, and September to see Mark, Candice, and Ethan: Matt, Patricia, Ashley, Travis, and CJ were visiting at Mark's in August, so we didn't get to Wisconsin this year. We saw Shawna, Zanthian, and Zundrian in the spring at Santa Fe, and Mark and Ethan visited us in late June, prompting a rush attempt at baby-proofing our house.


The welcome mat is still out: we're in a friendly small town with great scenery, come on down.

A few drop-ins this year at Hamilton, and we got to visit friends in Bremerton during our summer trip to the Puget Sound area.

Our local circle of friends includes quilting and sewing groups, who make us feel very much a part of a dynamic community.


We took in a number of cultural events this year, including our second year to attend the Bitterroot Bluegrass Festival, and took in several musical performances, plus the outdoor Lunch in the Park concerts through the summer; we missed the Shakespeare in the Parks in both Hamilton and Missoula but caught the touring company in their home base in Bozeman when we went there for quilt shows.

Environmental Notice

No Microsoft products were used in the production of this newsletter.

Composition: Sun StarOffice 7 on a Sun Blade 100 running Solaris 8. Graphics and print rendering: the GIMP and ghostscript. Web servers: Linux.

The Parkins Report

Back Page

As much as we try to get the whole year on one page, it seems to end up either very terse or boilerplate with no content. Of course, we have the web to expand and link and cross-link ad nauseum. But, for those who like paper (but not too much, which is why this is on the back), here's a bit more explanation of the confusion upfront.

Recreation: as you might have guessed, if you don't know, our main recreational vehicle is a bicycle built for two, in the “normal” tandem seating configuration, which hasn't gotten a lot of use, in terms of marathon touring, for a number of years. Since we lost a whole person with our Weight Watchers play-to-win adventure last year, we tried to plan some serious bicycle touring this year. However, the quilting business keeps us pretty busy on the weekends we are home, so we didn't get out to train as much as we would have liked. Finally, we settled on planning an easy tour along the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes (i.e., River and Lake), an old mining railway converted to a bike trail, running 72 miles across the Idaho Panhandle. Our “training ride” consisted of a late Sunday afternoon dash to Darby, 30 kilometers up the valley, a couple of weeks before the planned tour, during which we learned that :

Well, the day of the ride, we arrived at our intended starting point in pouring rain at near-freezing temperatures, so we returned to the car and proceeded to our overnight destination, which then made it possible for us to ride a 100-km day instead of three 60-km days. It's taken us a while to learn we can change plans in mid-stream and still have fun. We were also glad we decided to abort the rainy ride when we had a tire failure very early the next day: repairing tires in cold rain is not only difficult, but presents the very real danger of hypothermia. As it turned out, we achieved a 100-kilometer day with no further problems, our longest single-day ride since our Canadian Rockies Tour in 1988.

Also in the recreational category: Larye had “wood-strip canoe” on the list of things to do someday, but the day keeps getting put off, so we compromised and purchased an inflatable canoe this summer. We've only been out once, but it was great fun, and we're looking forward to regular small lake cruises next season.

Quilting: Judy's work-from-home business is based around a Gammill long-arm quilting machine, a 30-inch throat sewing machine that glides on rollers on a 5-1/2 foot by 14-foot table. All those intricate designs you can see on our web site or on quilts you may have been fortunate enough to acquire are created by Judy steering the machine around on the quilt with a set of handlebars mounted to the sewing head. In addition to quilting tops for customers, she makes a number of quilts for family, friends, and for sale. Larye started piecing quilts last year and is working on his third quilt, and hopes to learn to run the machine in addition to performing tune-ups and repairs on it.

The quilt studio is in a converted storage area in the back of the garage, but has since expanded to take over nearly half of the garage proper, with an office added last year and a sewing and storage area this year.

Quilting is a very popular activity in Montana, so there are not only a lot of potential customers, but also a lot of competitors. Judy's specialty is highly custom and heirloom-style quilting, so her customers are mainly serious quilt hobbyists, quilt shops and pattern companies, as well as those who want a special treatment for a show quilt or very special occasion. She also repairs old quilts or constructs new tops from antique blocks, and makes custom quilts to order. Judy is a member of the Bitterroot Quilters Guild, the Bent Needlers, a subgroup of the Guild with special interest in hand appliqué work, the Comforters, another group that makes lap quilts for patients at the Marcus Daly Hospital's Hospice center. She also maintains membership in the Smockers, a subgroup of the Missoula Quilt Guild, maintaining friendships and contacts within the Missoula sewing community. She also provides pro bono quilting services for various charitable organizations, such as the Missoula Senior Center, and contributes a quilted wall hanging each year to Montana Public Radio as a premium during their annual fund drive.

Bio-what? Larye's career is a bit mysterious, sometimes even to his employers. His job title is “system administrator,” which means installing computer software and hardware and managing the systems over their lifetime. However, he usually takes assignments that involve “rescuing” systems from neglect or solving a specific problem for which no local expertise is available. Essentially, what he has been doing for most of the past 40 years. He works with various software systems, but avoids Microsoft Windows if at all possible. Yes, there are a few computers on the planet that do not run Windows. For the past eight years or so, Larye has earned a living mostly managing computers running various versions of Unix, such as Sun Microsystems Solaris or Open Source software like Linux, and, more recently, with Apple Macintosh OS/X, running either essential networking services, web-based applications or custom software.

In his current assignment, there is a certain need for the users to have custom software written to solve a particular problem in scientific research. Since Larye has also been trained in software design and construction and worked for a time in the early 1990s for a software developer, as well as supporting large systems development projects in the 1970s, he is able to work with the scientists to develop rapid, ad hoc solutions to data analysis problems, using software libraries, toolkits, and programming systems commonly used in life sciences research. Which all makes for a very interesting job.

Bioinformatics is one of those hybrid types of interim careers that usually is taken to mean a biologist who knows how to program computers, but may also include computer scientists who work closely with biologists to solve problems in DNA sequence analysis and study genes and proteins. Bioinformatics isn't in Larye's job description (which is in the GSA contract as “information systems support specialist”—a technician grade), but he performs much of the work that would be required for such a position, and studies microbiology, biochemistry, genetics, and bioinformatics as necessary to contribute to the work at Rocky Mountain Laboratories. He has received contributing author credit on three papers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, two of which involved sequencing and publication in Genbank of the genomes of two strains of Streptococcus pyogenes , a particularly virulent human pathogen responsible for pediatric rheumatic fever, toxic shock syndrome, and necrotizing fasciitis, as well as severe upper respiratory infections. Recently, he produced computer simulations of DNA microarray experiments on another project.

Our best wishes to all of you for happiness and good health in the coming year ahead, and a fervent wish for peace and harmony among all humanity.

Larye & Judy