Friday, Dec. 5, 2003 | 8:26 a.m.
Susie Finlay is helping collect Christmas toys for 50,000 children in Texas without setting foot outside her home in Cold Creek.
Oh for pity's sake, get a map. Cold Creek sits west of U.S. 95 just north of Las Vegas. It's about 50 miles from the urban valley in distance. But it's worlds away in lifestyle.
Finlay's family, like the other 60 or so year-round residents of the remote mountain village, use solar power. Electricity hasn't been made available to them, and frankly, they're happy without it.
"We've got one foot in the pioneer days and one foot in modern technology," the 43-year-old wife and mother of five said. "We have satellite TV and satellite Internet."
They also have a cistern and a greenhouse, where Finlay uses both conventional and hydroponic gardening methods.
But, back to Christmas toys for Texas kids. The gifts will be collected in what reportedly is the world's largest Christmas stocking, which was unveiled Thursday in Dallas.
Nearly 38 feet tall and 29 feet around, the stocking composed of 74 quilt blocks breaks the Guinness World Record of 28 feet tall, said Stephanie Walton, the stay-at-home Dallas mother of two who came up with the stocking idea over the summer.
The stocking was hung at Dallas' West End Marketplace, where it is hoped residents will fill it to the brim with new, unwrapped toys for Santa's Helpers. The Dallas-based charity provides toys for 50,000 children through 40 community groups in Dallas, Tarrant, Denton and Collin counties.
Finlay was among the 62 people and organizations from five countries and 23 U.S. states who created the 3-by-3-foot quilt squares that were sewn together to make the sock's front.
Finlay, a quilter since age 8, is a member of an online group to which Walton sent a bid for blocks. She made two -- one with a large wreath and bow, the other with holly and berries.
"I thought this would be a good thing to do for kids," Finlay said Wednesday. "The stocking is basically three stories high, so I did something big and simple. I thought somebody's got to be at the top, and if you do something detailed no one will be able to see it that high up."
Good thinking. Her blocks were chosen to anchor the ends of the stocking's top section for that very reason, Walton said in an e-mail she sent Wednesday evening.
Finlay has a keen eye for textiles. She quilts and sews but also spins and dyes her own yarn, knits, weaves half a dozen different ways, makes lace half a dozen different ways and does embroidery and beadwork.
"I have more books on bobbin-lace-making than the Clark County Library District," Finlay said. She was giggling, but not joking.
Such work takes time and effort, but living far from the city's distractions give that freedom. An unfinished building that sits next to her family's cabin is to be a studio where she will fill custom orders and teach.
Standing in the studio's shell Wednesday, Finlay gazed through a window at pastel peaks that stretched to the horizon in all directions.
"I don't know how I'll get any work done," she said.
Cold Creek burbled in the wash below.
"You can just listen to the quiet here. You can't beat that."