Working in the studio on Big Love- a fun, throw back to the seventies

It’s 5.45 am in La Veta, Colorado and four alarms go off. There is no snooze button. The only way to silence these alarms is to crawl out of bed and do as they command - go outside! Any dog lover knows that dogs have an adorable yet demanding way of letting you know when it’s time to take care of business and Katie, Wanda, Raisin and Mabel, better known as “the girls”, are no exception. Bounding out the door to greet the new day they search for excitement. Unsuspecting deer passing by become instant “play things” and the next ten minutes are spent corralling, instructing, begging, and convincing the girls to tend to their business and get back inside. Rain, snow, sleet or hail - all accompanied by the vicious La Veta wind - this is how a day in the life of Ricky Tims begins.

The 'girls' – Mabel, Katie, Wanda and Raisin

Armed with a glass of chocolate milk or a bowl of cereal, Ricky gazes out the kitchen window to marvel at the sunrise. It is spectacular today. The solitary house is perched atop a hill allowing 360º views of Colorado's purple mountain's majesty and vast rolling foothills. After taking in the morning and perhaps after taking a few photos of the sunrise, Ricky makes his way to the family room to tend to another great demand in his life…his laptop computer! Between answering emails, creating quilt designs, composing music and editing video, this computer is a well-worn tool of his business and is never farther away than arm's reach. A quick check of the news and weather on television and it's off to the office.

For most people, this is pure drudgery, but not for Ricky. For you see, in La Veta, miles of concrete, traffic jams, stop lights and road-rage are replaced with dirt streets, the ease of a one mile journey to any local destination and, if you pass another driver along the way, you're sure to be greeted with a kind wave of the hand.

Bohemian Rhapsody (86 x 86in)

The historic town of La Veta, with its three paved streets, is embraced by the two famous Spanish Peaks, also known as the Wahatoya (Breasts of the World), and the Sangre de Christo mountain range. A towering volcanic plug called the Goemmer's Butte looms just outside of town and is a distinctive icon in the scenic valley. While other towns experience urban sprawl and growing and sophisticated amenities, the hamlet of La Veta has managed to maintain the quaintness of 'small town living' in bygone years. This laid back, casual style attracts a diversity of people, but most of the 924 residents here have a common love for the arts. La Veta boasts a healthy collection of writers, artists, musicians and scholars

Ricky usually departs from home earlier than his partner, Justin Shults, so 'the girls' have a few more minutes at home before their day at work begins. However, once Justin says: 'load up,' the dogs gleefully pile into the back of the SUV and they make the whopping half mile downhill journey to the office.

Ricky Tims Inc. is housed inside an eight year old, two-storey South-western style adobe building originally built as a restaurant and office space. The entire 6,000 square feet are entirely used for the various aspect of Ricky's business - including his quilt retreats, concerts, fabric dyeing, sewing studio, music and video production as well as home to the tapings of with his co-host Alex Anderson. Once at work, Ricky, Justin, and the dogs quickly settle in to their second home. Soon other workers arrive and the 'gallery' (as it is generally called), becomes a three-ring circus where everyone will spend the day jumping through hoops.

As soon as Ricky's first important task is started, it is inevitably interrupted by a phone call demanding immediate attention on another matter. Ricky's personal circus act is to keep the creative side of this multi-faceted business running and it is much like the circus performer balancing spinning plates on poles. One plate is brainstorming a new design for his Red Rooster fabric line, another plate is designing a pattern for JWD Publishing, another is meeting the deadline for his next book with C&T Publishing. He spins a plate by creating licensed die cut designs for AccuQuilt and while spinning another he develops content and media for The act continues as he juggles time to compose and produces music for various projects. There are easily 15-20 plates spinning at any given moment and somehow Ricky, with the help of a team of talented and loyal employees, manages to keep all of those plates spinning. In and amongst this multitude of tasks, Ricky also finds time to check his emails and regularly monitors

Left: Rhapsodie Fantastique (30 x 30in). Right: Dad’s Lone Star – a collaboration with Ricky’s dad who pieced the diamonds and Ricky did the applique and quilting (92 x 92in)


The town of La Veta is located in the Cuchara mountain valley. The monolithic feature shown looming over the tiny mountain town is a volcanic cone called Goemmer’s Butte

A rumbling stomach and a brief glance of the clock alert Ricky to the fact that the morning has miraculously and quickly vanished. Nourishment is now needed. La Veta offers a small variety of good eateries. There's a diner for burgers, a Mexican place for tamales, a pub for pizza, a market where he can get just about anything and a bakery for sandwiches and soups. His cravings and schedule dictates his lunch location and then its back to spinning plates.

Ricky manages to assess his plates and begins tending to the one that seems to have the highest priority. That is, until the phone rings and there's a new, urgent issue. The plates begin to spin again. For example, in a few days, Ricky will be presenting a Ricky Tims Super Quilt Seminar that requires packing – or perhaps a magazine has called asking for high-res digital photos - or a group of several eager quilters are arriving in La Veta to share in an intimate, five-day La Veta Quilt Retreat where Ricky teaches some of his quilting techniques while leading students on a personal creative journey. In any case, there is a lot to think about and tending to these matters is not something that can be delayed. The afternoon is gone – and it is not likely that much actual quilting was done.

Late afternoon

South Cheyenne Canyon. Ricky often enjoys creating works based on photos from his travels. This quilt is based on a photo taken in South Cheyenne canyon in Colorado. (22 x 30in)

Justin and 'the girls' have left. The day has quickly passed. The employees have gone and the most urgent matters are tended to. It is during this time that Ricky finds his creative muse. Whether it is quilting or music – or approving the final edits on an article called 'A Day in the Life of Ricky Tims' - the short time between late afternoon and dinner is his – and usually productive.

Ricky locks the gallery doors and begins the drive up the dirt hill toward home. In the driveway he pauses to take in the magnificent sunset. The sky is spectacular. He is glad it never gets old and, after five years, he is still takes the time to soak in these special moments. He loves the fact that the vistas are never the same - that they are always changing and different every day. Then he realizes that perhaps his life is beautiful and exciting for the same reasons: no two days are ever alike. There is no such thing as a 'normal' day in the life of Ricky Tims.

After dinner, a bit of television or Xbox 360 will let him escape from work. He goes to bed wondering what the sunrise will look like when 'the alarms' go off and curious to know what plates he will spin tomorrow.

First published in Popular Patchwork May 2009