PUEBLO (AP) Shes a one-woman Christmas-decorating machine.
Except that Rhoada Stahles holiday trees and tables, her wreath-adorned doors and evergreen-festooned corners show far too much artistry to have been done by machine. The Pueblo West retiree has spent 40 years collecting decorations, haunting garage sales and flea markets, studying books and magazines, refining her hobby until its become gallery-worthy. And though theres potential for such a houseful of Christmas to resemble a hoarders nightmare, Stahle exercises restraint along with her enthusiasm and the decorating seems nearly perfect.
A transplant from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, she says modestly: To me, its nothing special. I just do what I like to do.
Stahle decorated her home and a half-dozen Christmas trees during the week before Thanksgiving and says she wont take everything down until the end of January. The trees are artificial evergreen except for one shiny aluminum tree thats a nod to the 1960s so they wont dry out and become messy fire hazards. Shell show them to neighbors if they drop in; otherwise, the trees and decorations are for her own enjoyment.
This time of year I dont have a house big enough to decorate, Stahle says. Ive done it for the last 40 years. Ive just always loved Christmas.
Stahle shops year-round for ornaments and holiday decorations.
Theyre easy to find. Hobby Lobby has had them since July. I look for them at flea markets and garage sales. I found these little cardboard (snow-covered) houses at a shop in Walsenburg, and all these little adobe buildings came from garage sales. I keep an eye out all year.
One of Stahles Christmas trees this year is a folk art-inspired creation of woven straw ornaments, cornhusk dolls, small wooden toys and horses, pine cones and red felt snowflakes, while another has shiny, multicolored-bead garland, glass balls, old-fashioned nutcrackers and twinkling lights. One small tree is decorated in her favorite colors of brown and orange, including bittersweet vine with orange berries, small owls and feathers. More owl ornaments decorate another tree, plus foxes, horses, squirrels and birds nests full of blue eggs. Two foxes, dressed in red and black, are perched on a nearby mantel.
Her trees are different every year.
I start digging around in the tubs in the basement. I never know till I start what each tree will be. I try new combinations. I look at Christmas magazines and books from the 1980s. I just recycle.
Ive just always been able to use my imagination, Stahle says.
She has no wish to return to the snows of Iowa, and she loves her view of Pikes Peak out the window, but this area is brown in winter, Stahle says, and her decorations bring color and cheer to her home.
She does little decorating outdoors, though, because she doesnt want it ruined by the perpetual Pueblo West wind.