Friday, August 31, 2007

Couldn't Resist Trying This One

It has been a busy, hectic, full week, and I've felt more than a little bit out of touch with my brain -- my whole self, actually! Stumbled on this wonderful Blog Thing a short time ago and am relieved to know my brain still exists and that it has a pattern! What pattern is your brain?

Your Brain's Pattern

Your brain is always looking for the connections in life.

You always amaze your friends by figuring out things first.

You're also good at connecting people - and often play match maker.

You see the world in fluid, flexible terms. Nothing is black or white.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Three Unrelated Pictures

Carol took up jewelry making last year and has been prolific. She sells her creations in the school bookstore. She will come in on a Monday morning with a bag of new things, and stop at my office on her way to the bookstore. "Anything you like?" she'll ask. "Take it." She's given me at least a half a dozen terrific pairs of earrings, and never lets me pay for them.

She liked the bag that I made for her, the one with the turtle fabric, very much. The problem was the white top -- apparently Carol's turned into a Slave To Fashion -- she was worried about carrying that bag after Memorial Day. She thought she would like to have one that was brown and black, so it would go with all kinds of things. Not a problem. I made her this bag and delivered it today. She started talking about her checkbook and payment. I would not tolerate that. Told her if she had to do something, she could give me a pair of earrings to give to our house guest, Anna Maria. She liked that plan.

Julie was the person who inspired me to Pay It Forward. I'm still working on my gifts; they should be done in another week. One day last week the postman brought this terrific quilted case! Isn't it wonderful? This was Julie's Pay It Forward to Me. I'm thinking that it will be a great travel and storage case for my brand new rotary cutter. Julie does terrific work. And is such a nice person, too.

Jo is part of the monthly birthday block group. She sent the dark red and asked for a 9-inch block with a cream backgound. I had such fun making this block for her. It will go in the mail tomorrow.

Sam, August 26, 2007

Monday, August 27, 2007

We Interrupt This Interruption for a Special Announcement

So much for my blogging hiatus.

News to be shared that is too important to wait.

Yup. That there is a stork

We learned yesterday at a surprise fortieth anniversary party (More About Which Later!) that this bird will be visiting Sherry, Chris and Sam sometime in March! With apologies to Mrs. Goodneedle, "Life is Spectacular!"

Sunday, August 26, 2007

We Interrupt This Blog . . .

. . . for just a little while, we hope.

The coming week will be very intense. It is a four-day work week (the deal at the school is that if we get everything done, we get the Friday before Labor Day as a free day off) and there is so much to do! Monday and Tuesday will be orientation for new staff. There are twenty-eight (so far) this year. The most we've ever had before is fourteen. Wednesday and Thursday are in-service days for all faculty and staff. I will be working long days.

The nights are busy, too. Monday night I'll be out with my Circle from church for our annual Chinese Dinner. We have been doing this together for about twenty years, one Monday night in August. Tuesday and Thursday nights I have obligations for school.

And -- we have a house guest! One whom we really don't know at all! Anna Maria is a seminary student spending several months Near Philadelphia, and is doing her work through our church. Families were asked to house her for a week or two during her stay, and today Anna Maria has moved in with Joe and me for two weeks.

So, I do not expect to have much time to do any blogging this week. I hope to return by the end of the week. And by then, I can tell you more about our lovely guest.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bonnie's Back

Bonnie started her Blog back in January. She posted a few times and then sort of dried up. Blogging wasn't her thing, it seemed.

She's recently returned from three and a half weeks in Ghana. She's resurrected her blog, and it is well worth the read.

The photography course she took last spring has apparently paid off, too.

Check it out here. My recommendation would be to scroll down to "Ghana Journal, First Impressions" and read your way up. For future reference, Bonnie's in my sidebar, under "Not Quilter's Blogs."

For Kendra with All Good Wishes

Kendra's wedding is next Saturday. And this is her gift.
A BOM, it is a combination of machine piecing and fused applique. All of the applique is hand buttonhole stitched. Kat did an exquisite job on the machine quilting.

I'd posted the picture last summer when I picked it up from Kat. At that point, it was a project that I'd worked on over a couple of years and, unusually, did not know who the recipient was to be while I was making it. The thing is, I thoroughly enjoy the process of making these primitive style quilts, but really, they do not belong in our home -- they simply are not compatible at all with our decorating style (which is a peculiar amalgam of Contemporary and Arts and Crafts with a couple of Antiques thrown in).

When the quilt was finished, I thought of Kendra. She's an American history buff and comes from a family that appreciates the Country style. At that point, she wasn't talking about marriage. But I knew that day would come, and set the quilt aside for her. Her big day is a week from today and we're wishing her sunshine that day and always.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Welcome, Sweet Sofia!

When Diana and Phil's son Noah was born a few years ago, I made him a quilt. Both parents were teaching at our school at that point; Phil has since left to teach in public school, and Diana continues to teach seventh grade social studies. They didn't want Noah to be an only child, but another pregnancy wasn't a good idea for Diana. They decided international adoption was the answer and entered a very lengthy and frustrating process.

At last, just around the time we were leaving for Greece, Diana got the call to go to Guatemala to bring her daughter home! It was just a few days before Sofia's first birthday.

I don't generally make a teacher a quilt for a second baby. But the circumstances here were so special, I just had to. This quilt is a Disappearing Nine Patch made from Moda Faded Memories charm packs and yardage. I haven't quite finished trimming the knots, but I thought by the time I did, it would be too dark to take the picture.

Format Note: The Love of My Life has asked me to return to the format of photos on the left at the start of paragraphs. He so seldom asks anything of me, I'm happy to oblige, though I had begun to like the experimental format!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bag Lady

I've been making handbags. Two will go in the school store on consignment and two will be ready to go into the school store if/when the first two sell. One is a gift for Carol, who likes turtles very much. If the first two sell and I put the second two in, I'll start right away on two more. If nothing sells, I'm in very good shape for Christmas gifts! We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


When we were on Star Flyer -- a little over a month ago, already -- one of the interesting things we noted was that as Americans, we were a minority group. Of the 170 passengers, perhaps a dozen of us were from the United States. Joe and I spent most of our time with Brits and Aussies.

I would guess that there were thirty or forty nationalities represented among the passengers, and surely the same was true of the crew.

All shipboard announcements were made in English, German, and French, usually in that order. As we would stand on deck, as we would sit in the dining room, behind us we could hear all manner of languages, conversations we could not begin to understand. Here are my little epiphanies from that experience:

First, my paranoia evaporated. You know the paranoia I mean. When I go to get my nails done, the women who work in the salon are all from Vietnam, and while they are filing, trimming, buffing, polishing they speak to each other in Vietnamese. Those of us on the other side of the tables make uneasy eye contact, each of us knowing deep in her heart that the manicurists are saying things like, "Look at the hairdo on my customer!" "I can't believe she has gained so much weight!" "She really shouldn't wear that color!" Aboard Star Flyer, hearing these different languages form a backdrop to our daily activities was a pleasant experience. I knew that everyone couldn't be commenting on my turquoise Crocs. Could they?

Additionally, the burden of curiosity was lifted. When Joe and I dine in a restaurant where the tables are a tad too close, our own conversation is often interrupted by the distraction of the too-audible conversation from the next table. Phrases such as "He's now lost all the feeling in his arm!" and "And then I bought thirty pounds of eggplant" cry out for the hearer's full attention. When the conversation is in a gentle Dutch, Latvian, Swedish, or Whatever, the need to eavesdrop evaporates.

And finally, since nearly every traveler has performed the courtesy of learning English, we learned to be mindful of our own observations!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Lake Wallenpaupack Escape

I'm back but only briefly, as today I leave for an overnight retreat with the administrators of the school.

Golly, did we have a good and productive time away at the Lake. The cabin was not as rustic as "cabin" implies. It was very comfortable, and across the street from an enormous and lovely lake. We ate our meals on the deck, and could spy the lake from there. The walkway down to the lake was across the street.

There were five of us. We divided up the chores and put a chart on the fridge indicating who was doing what. It was funny how people, even though they were not signed up for a duty at a particular meal, would try to volunteer and help. We women are certainly well trained!

We had wonderful meals, laughed a lot, solved several of the problems of the world. And sewed. I taught Judy the Disappearing Nine Patch. I sandwiched, tied and began the binding on the baby quilt for Sofia and I made two more purses. Pictures to follow. Certainly hoping this can be an annual event. Need to stay on Honna's Good Side!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Long-time readers may remember that last summer our office played foster parent to a Fig, a newt from the Lower School Science Department. You could re-read all of that here and here if you were so inclined.

This summer we have Survivor, an anole from the same source. Here's how he got his name: Lower School Science Department acquired six anoles. At the end of the first week, he was the only one left. But he thrived all of last year, and when he was offered to us for summer foster care, we were pleased.

He's not particularly exciting. He's quiet. The crickets that he supposedly eat make noise. But he doesn't. And I say supposedly because although I've purchased packets of crickets every week and a half all summer long and -- under great personal stress -- inserted these bugs into the tank, I've never seen him eat. He's a little bit like a teen-age girl, I guess; they don't eat in front of anyone either. But he must eat, because the number of crickets diminishes.

He turns green. He turns brown. He turns greenish-brown. He climbs up the stick and he climbs down the stick. And every once in a while he leaps up and clings to the wire mesh at the top of the cage. That's about it.

But he must be feeling comfortable after having spent the past nine weeks with us. This morning a visitor came in and he tried to sell her car insurance.

Guilty Pleasures

Dear Julie has created a new meme, and I've been tagged. This one is a doozy.

She writes:

I'm officially launching a new meme, just because I feel like it. It's called "guilty pleasures". Aren't there some silly / dumb / embarrassing things you love to do but don't necessarily want your friends to know about? Pick three, or five or seven, and tell your fellow bloggers about them.

Here are mine:

1. I keep catalogs -- Hancocks of Paducah, Keepsake, JJill, Territory Ahead, among others -- in the powder room and study them there, turning down corners of things that appeal, though I seldom actually make the purchases.

2. Dairy Queen Blizzards -- chocolate with both Heath Bars and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups crumbled in. I haven't been decadent enough to go and by one alone, but two or three times each summer, I'll grovel and negotiate with Joe, something along the lines of, "I could do the dishes tonight and that includes the big gunky pan, if you would be interested to go pick up a pair of Blizzards (his is like mine but without the Reese's).

3. Oh, dear. This is the worst. Sometimes when I'm alone downstairs sewing, I'll put on Lifetime Television for Women and watch whatever movie they're showing. It is almost always about a woman who has been duped by a guy who is Up To No Good, and I swear they use the same living room set over and over and over. Joe will sometimes come in the back door and catch me at it and invariably he'll say, "Hah! Watching The Bad Man Channel again!"

Okay. Consider yourself tagged: Connie at Simply Quilted and Loie at Proclaiming Softly and Kristina at KD Made!

On the Road Again

For the last time this summer. I promise.

Honna inherited her dad's place in the Pocono Mountains, very near a lake. She and George go up frequently, and have invited Joe and me to go along. We've never been able to accept the invitation. Last month she had the brilliant idea that our monthly hand-sewing group might like to go away for a weekend, and five of us are able to go!

We leave around three o'clock and will be there in time for dinner. We have coolers containing the fixings for most of the meals, though we plan to dine out on Saturday night. We have sheets and towels and jamas and comfy clothes. We have swimsuits and sweaters -- just in case we need a break from sewing. We have machines and projects. Almost everyone has offered to bring a bottle of wine . . . .

I'm taking a finished baby quilt top for the teacher who has adopted a little girl from Guatemala; I'm hoping to get it sandwiched and tied. I even have fabric for binding. I'm taking my monthly birthday block for Michelle. I'm taking what I need to make two more purses. I'm taking my In The Garden Blocks as well as my Pay It Forward Blocks. Can you tell that I have a short attention span on occasion?

Can't wait.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dog Days of Summer

It is hot Near Philadelphia. Hot and humid. Downright sultry as Mama would say (Didn't you just love that movie? It was on a hot August day that we first saw it and laughed until we cried).

When I was a kid, August was for paperdolls. Paperdolls and Monopoly on the side porch. And accepting any and all invitations from friends who belonged to swim clubs. And starting to look at school supplies and, of course, plaid dresses.

Must be some kind of an instinct -- My own kids used to haul out the Monopoly game and take it to the front porch around mid-August, with no prompting that I can recall. They'd set up a jigsaw puzzle on the coffee table and we'd all pause a couple of times a day to insert a few pieces.

So it's hot, Near Philadelphia. And we've got about a month to go. We'll survive. But the pace slows down, the iced tea drinking accelerates, and while I certainly don't want to have to play Monopoly again, a jigsaw puzzle might feel very good. In the living room, on the coffee table, under the gentle ceiling fan.

The picture at the top reminds me of Sirius Black in the HP5 movie, which we saw last weekend in air-conditioned comfort. And if you, like me, wonder about why these are the dog days, you can find out here.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Summer Reading

Mostly, it's been a Bill Bryson summer. It is unusual for Joe and me to be reading the same author, much less the same books simultaneously. But that's what we've had these past few months. Joe had picked up A Walk in The Woods at the used book sale. He laughed outloud so many times, and shared so many choice tidbits that I had to read it myself. For our trip to Greece he bought The Lost Continent and I got In a Sunburned Country. All have been marvelous. Bryson writes hilarious and insightful travel essays that make for excellent summer reading as each chapter is self-contained. His writing is picturesque and occasionally heartwarming.

Then, of course, I read HP7, and agreed with everyone that it was excellent and there will be no spoilers or further discussion here. Just read it, already. You know you will eventually.
I'm such a sucker for medical memoirs, hospital stories, physicians' insights. I swear, if I ever had a previous life, I must have been a doctor. Hot Lights, Cold Steel by Michael Collins showed up on my Amazon "Recommended For You" list, so I got it from the library. It is about the residency period of an orthopedic surgeon and isn't one of the best medical tales I've picked up. There are a couple of interesting chapters, but by and large it is pretty obvious that he has written it far too many years since the occurrences. Worth a C+ -- a tad above average, IMNSHO.
Cheryl Strayed's novel Torch also came to me through the Amazon recommendation system and this was a good book. I'd give it a B+. A woman who is a bit of a legend in her town is struck with cancer and within a few weeks is gone. Torch tells about various styles of survivors coping with such a situation. The husband, the son, the daughter -- each has to mourn in his or her own way. Two of them are better portrayed than the third. I left the book still concerned about the son's potential for full recovery.
Thomas Mallon's Aurora 7 is such an unusual book! It was Maggie's choice for the neighborhood book club, "The Bookies," and we'll be discussing it on Thursday night. The entire novel takes place on a single day in 1962, the day of Scott Carpenter's space flight. There are many vignettes, many minor characters, but the center of the book is an 11-year-old boy whose life somehow becomes intertwined with Carpenter's -- a little bit the way ET and Elliott became connected -- and it is just a lovely book. A quick read that is not my usual thing and easily earns an A-.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Back to School: Some Thoughts

Nicole, in her post "Juggling" wrote recently about the speed with which summer is flying by, and how much she still hopes to accomplish before it ends. Her post put me in mind of a piece I wrote back in August of 2001. I dug it out tonight and decided it still rings true, so I thought I would share it with you. Remember, it was written six years ago, and I've survived not having any kiddos of my own going back to school! But there remains something wonderful and anticipatory about these last few weeks of August.

This morning as I drove to work I went through the public high school property as I normally do when school is not in session. I drove past the field where the Bandos were practicing, looking crisp and erect and so serious, and all at once it dawned on me that this is the first September in many, many years that I've not have SOMEONE going back to school! And I got a lump in my froat and was newly aware of my own mortality . . . .

I've always thought of Labor Day as the REAL New Year's Day, and I suspect I'm not alone.

It's a wonderful time of year. We have the sense of New Opportunity, Second (third, fourth, etc.) Chance, Fresh Beginning. We can see Potential ahead and wonder what it holds.

Today I'm really glad I work in a school. The housekeeping people are working their magic in the halls outside my office with their waxers and buffers and whatevers, with Ole Blue Eyes on at top volume in the background. Cars pull up to the little farmhouse on campus that serves as the bookstore and people emerge from the store with stiff new brown paper bags, full of Potential. Out on the field kids run and sweat and grin, waving rackets and sticks.

Kinda makes me feel like I should go out and purchase a plaid dress.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Smashed Potatoes

Were they ever yummy! I looked around Google for a picture (ours having been devoured last night) and the pictures show something that resembles mashed rather than smashed potatoes. So I chose this picture of baking potatoes because that is how you start. You'll also need some olive oil, salt, some sour cream, and some chives. And that is it.
. . . .
Start by baking the potatoes in a 400 degree oven for one hour. Just like that. No foil, no oil, no fuss, no muss, no bother. For four people, allow six potatoes because the men will want more! Let them cool a little bit. You can do this part a couple of hours ahead of time. Oil two baking sheets. When the potatoes can be handled, slice them in half lengthwise and one at a time do this: Place the potato half on the baking sheet, skin side down. Put a little bit of oil on the bottom of a sturdy glass and smash the potato half. When you have finished doing this, brush each potato half with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. At this point, I covered the baking sheets with foil and set them aside.
. . . .
Forty minutes before dinner, having the oven once again at 400 degrees, remove the foil and put the baking sheets in the oven for twenty minutes. When the timer rings, remove the baking sheets, and one-by-one, carefully turn the potatoes over. Put them all back in the oven for another twenty minutes.
. . . .
Meanwhile, cut up some fresh chives and put some sour cream in a pretty dish. You can combine the chives and the sour cream, or you can serve them separately.
. . . .
At serving time, turn the potatoes onto the serving platter with the skin side down and pass along with the sour cream, the chives, and additional salt to taste.
. . . .
They are scrumptions -- remind you of "baked" potato skins that you get in restaurants, but without the deep frying. Kind of a cousin to latkes. Downright delicious, if you get my meaning.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Company for Dinner

On our fortieth anniversary, Star Flyer gave us a bottle of wine as a gift. It has a picture of a clipper ship on the label. We brought it home to save for a special occasion. Tonight is such an occasion.
. . . .
We met Bob and Sherron a few months after we were married, so we've known them forty years. Usually our couple friendships begin from a woman I meet, but this one started with Joe and Bob's becoming acquainted on the train to Navy boot camp. They hit it off, sent the wives each other's phone number, and a lifetime friendship began. The first few years it was by correspondence as we were sent to different duty stations, and after the Navy discharge, Joe and I moved to the midwest for a long time, while Bob and Sherron settled just the other side of the river into New Jersey. But the geographical distance did nothing to diminish the depth of the relationship -- godparents to each others' eldest child, we've shared weddings and now grandchildren. Sherron is needlewoman; back in the 80s she introduced me to cross-stitch and much later I introduced her to quilting. We have a tendency to give each other fabric and share patterns. We all talk in the kind of shorthand that long-term friends develop.
. . . .
So tonight they are coming to hear about Greece and tell us about their summer and what their grandchildren are doing now. We'll open that bottle of wine and drink to friendship. And we'll laugh and tell stories, some of which we've told many times before.
. . . .
I've had fun today getting ready for this dinner party. The table is set with lovely linens that Tom and Anastasia gave me for Mother's Day -- I've used them before with the blue dishes, but this is the first time with the good china. I bought some shrimps and Greek style appetizers and Sherron is bringing dessert. In between we'll enjoy Joe's good London broil, Louisa's tomato salad and a new potato recipe that sounds promising. If, in fact, it is, I'll post it so you can try it.
. . . .
Bon appetite!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Christmas in August?

Chookyblue in Australia has had a terrific idea. You can go here to find out about it and join, if you like.

I usually start planning for Christmas in August, anyway. I write down the names. I start to pencil in ideas. I even start shopping, if I can. I have written the names, I have penciled in the ideas, and I have bought a few of the smaller items.

On my internet quilting buddies group, we usually have a secret santa among us. It is one of the things I look forward to the most durng the holiday season -- learning who my recipient is and starting to find things for her.

Chookyblue is proposing an international secret santa exchange, where people do not necessarily know anything about their recipient OR their sender without reading that person's blog. I think it is a brilliant idea and just can't wait until early September when I find out who my partner is. Chooky has urged participants to spread the word -- so consider it spread, and please think about joining! But do not dawdle -- sign-ups close on August 31st!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Going For It

Well, friends, I'm going to do it. I'm so appreciative of the comments from yesterday's post about whether I should make a baby quilt to put in the school store to sell. Everyone was so encouraging! That felt good. I especially liked Laurie Ann's wisdom; she pointed out that if the quilt doesn't sell, I'll be ready for the next baby shower! And she's right -- people do keep having babies!

Yesterday on the way home I stopped at the LQS for some Heat and Bond Light and got to talking with Pennie, the owner. She wasn't very busy at the moment, and I told her what I was thinking. She, too, urged me to try it, but cautioned that I was realistic about my nervousness that selling my work would take the joy out of it. Then she suggested that, considering my proposed venue -- a store on the premises of a school for students of predominantly wealthy families -- I consider making a handbag as well as a baby quilt. I think she's right -- my first Frenchy Bag went together like a dream, and I already know some things I'd do differently, so I believe I am going to make one of them as well as a baby quilt in the next three weeks or so before school opens, and see what happens.

Of course I'll tell you. You don't need to even ask!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Thinking It Over

Ever since we returned from our Star Flyer trip to Greece, we have talked about when we can possibly do another Star Clippers trip. The destination is less important than the time of year -- I work for a school and get plenty of vacation time, but can only take the days at certain times of the year without putting undue hardship on the institution. We are thinking that 2009 will be the year, and the schedules aren't posted yet for that summer. So there is plenty of time to ponder. And to save.
. . . .
Ah, there is the obstacle. This vacation was not inexpensive. And the next one, of course, will be less so. I've been trying to think of ways to make it more likely that we can do this in 2009. It will require some drastic measure of some sort.
. . . .
For several years I had a little part-time job for about seven hours per week, doing transcription for a podiatrist. It paid awfully well. Then this past spring, it pretty much dried up as the foot doctor switched to a voice-activated transcription system. The income from the podiatrist could have been dedicated to the next Star Clippers adventure. I've been thinking about contacting other medical offices in the area to see if they have need of an at-home transcriptionist. I have thought about contacting one of the large transcription firms, either the one I worked for years ago or another that hires part-time at-home workers.
. . . .
The other thing I have considered for the first time is possibly making quilts and selling them. I have never wanted to do this. I was always afraid it would take the joy out of sewing. Yet I keep making quilts and there are only so many beds, so many occasions, so many gifts. I wonder if I should try to sell one and see how it feels.
. . . .
The school store last year took on a new format and one of the features was employee crafts for sale. The store gets 10 percent. Jewelry makers and knitters showed up like wild fire. Someone asked me if I was going to try to sell my quilts.
. . . .
Now I am thinking about it. I am thinking that perhaps I will make a baby quilt entirely from scraps and left-over batting that I have on-hand, place it in the store, and see if it sells. If so, I'd do another. The families that send their children to the school are people of means, people who would not bat an eye to spend $50 or $75 for a baby quilt. I'm really tempted.
. . . .
What do you think?

Back to Bernina

When we returned home from our long trip, our cat Bodacious was not exactly overjoyed to see us. Ruth had apparently done too good a job of house-and-cat sitting. He looked at us with disdain, as if to say, "Oh, you DID decided to come back, eh?" I'd sent Bernina off to the shop the day before we left for a much-needed tension adjustment, clean-out, and general tune-up. I hoped she wouldn't respond the same way!

I belong to two different monthly block exchanges, and when we came home, both were in need of attention. Today after work I did them, and it sure felt good. Bernina, unlike Bodacious, was simply purring as we moved along. Becky had sent the autumn leaves and asked for a Monkey Wrench using a gold background, and Michelle sent along a quiet Christmasy print, requesting the Triangle Chain block with red and green added. I liked her print a lot, and was happy it called for muted red and green rather than the traditional bright ones.

I was happy to be behind my machine again!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A Weekend in Onset

Joe has a small sailboat, and this summer it needed repair. A week or so before we left for Greece, he took it to the place where it was built in Wareham, Massachusetts. This past Friday we left to go pick up the boat and spend the weekend in Onset, the town next to Wareham.
Onset is a small beach community on Buzzard's Bay, just this side of the Bourne Bridge to Cape Cod. You'd say that Onset had passed its prime, except you'd have this niggling feeling that it never quite hit its prime. In addition to the beach, there are a couple of ice cream places (one of which was excellent), a handful of mediocre restaurants, one sweatshirt place and a couple of fudge and saltwater taffy shops. And a superb public restroom. My hunch is that those who live in Onset year-round do a lot of drinking during the long winter season. Why do we even go to Onset, you might reasonably ask. For the sailing, she replied, and for Heartbeat Quilts, more about which in a couple of paragraphs.
On past visits, we've stayed at a very nice inn on Onset Pointe. It was full, however, and after surfing the web for alternatives, I contacted the Harbor Watch Inn, who were filled for the weekend, but offered me the last remaining room at their newly acquired nearby property, the Bridge View (which turned out to be aptly named). We arrived mid-day Friday after picking up Windspirit, having risen at 3 in the morning in order to drive past New York City before rush hour. Our room wasn't quite ready, which was understandable, so we went off to get some lunch and when we returned, it was done. The walk over to the second property was quick, and not to put too fine a point on it, the place was an absolute dive. The room, for which we paid far more than I care to admit, was a third-floor walk-up that pretended to be a suite. Hah! The air conditioner, which functioned minimally and left a trail of water on the floor, was too small for the window and cooled only the kitchen. The sitting room consisted of a set of shelves, a couple of pictures, and a molting wicker loveseat in a space about four feet by four feet, facing the door to the deck. The bedroom had no window, and slanty eaves, and a big box fan. The deck was the feature for the suite; it measured about six feet by eight feet and contained two of those ubiquitous, uncomfortable white plastic chairs and a small table. The view from the deck is pictured above and below.
My mother always told me that if i can't say anything nice, not to say anything at all. She never said that I couldn't tell the whole truth in addition to saying something nice. So I must tell you that the bed was unexpectedly comfortable, the sheets were clean, and the shower, though so tiny that the soap dish had to be erected on the wall outside the stall, had more than adequate water pressure. Beyond that, well . . . .
I can't speak for the main proper of Harbor View Inn, but if you go to Onset, and you probably won't, I can't recommend the place based on our experience. Probably the worst part was that on the second day, no fresh towels were provided. Unconscionable, I think, anywhere, but especially in a beach community in August. I kept remembering the Hotel Xixil in Nebaj where we stayed in Guatemala; it cost two dollars a night and as Dayle was fond of saying, was no bargain!

Saturday night, it turns out, was "The Illumination." We had no idea this was to occur, nor did we know what it was when we heard about it. But after dinner we went out to the bay and when we saw what was happening, we hurried to our accommodations because we realized quickly that we had the best view in the area! What had happened, was that flares had been set and lit all around the perimeter of the bay. All of the population of Onset and the surrounding area turned out for the event and I imagine that the ice cream stand made its budget for the year that night. It was quite lovely; my photo doesn't begin to capture it.
On Saturday, my sainted husband braved the hideous traffic jam across the bridge to Cape Cod on my behalf. Years earlier, Bonnie had told me there was a good fabric shop in Hyannis. And was she ever right. Heartbeat Quilts is probably the best quilt shop I've ever been in, and in honor of the visit, I lifted my moratorium on fabric purchasing!
Click to enlarge, and in the back you'll notice at the left a piece of amazing batik that reminds me of the old "raw umber" color I loved in the Crayola sets (I think the hue has since been retired). Next is a book. Then, you know, having been to Greece I can't get blue and white out of my mind -- Joe picked all of those pieces out and is drawing up a plan for our Greek memories quilt. In the front row, again from the left, are some aquamarine batiks that I had to have, a fat quarter pack of blue and white seaside theme FQs, and the black and yellow are the background and accent fabrics for a Stack and Whack I've wanted to make but hadn't bought the feature fabric for until yesterday. A wee speck of it is visible between the black and the yellow, but that is all I can show because it is to be a Christmas gift for someone who may read this Blog. I also bought the newest Australian Patckwork and Quilting magazine and got two or three really good ideas from it, a FQ pack gift for Honna, and a couple of notions. Not that the economy of Hyannis was in danger, I'm certain, but I certainly did my part!
I dreamed of quilts in my comfy bed in my grungy room last night. Today we had a safe and uneventful trip home. And our travels for the summer have come to an end.
Let the sewing begin!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Continuing in Holiday Mode

Two winters ago we saw a wonderful play, "Opus," by Michael Hollinger, when it opened in Philadelphia. Michael's lovely wife Megan teaches at the school where I work, and she had told us a bit about the play, so we decided we had to see it. Turned out to be about the best play we'd ever seen. It is about the highs and lows of a string quartet, and as we watched it, we kept thinking how much Tom, our violist son, would enjoy it.

. . . .

This spring Megan told me that "Opus" would be opening in New York this season. We pressed Tom and Anastasia to find a date that they could come up. They arrived mid-day yesterday and we left for NYC in the early afternoon. Traffic was horrible, and we were quite pressed for time. We made it to the play with minutes to spare. T&A liked it as much as we had hoped they would.

. . . .

We don't go to New York very often. On the odd occasion that we do, if we're spending the night, we always try to stay at The Algonquin. I'd known of the hotel for ever, it seems, but we never stayed there until about five years ago. It was everything we had hoped for -- it is a small hotel, and not glamorous and sparkly like some of the Westins. Instead, it is elegant and familiar. The lobby is done in shades of caramel, eggplant, dark green, and mahogany (oooh -- do I feel a quilt coming on?) and makes one think of dear William Morris. The walls in the corridors are papered with old "New Yorker" cartoons; perusing them makes the wait for the elevator quite pleasant. The rooms aren't large at all, but are beautifully appointed and we love the elegant old bathrooms -- the one last night had a marble vanity. We love to eat at the Round Table and have become partial to the Caesar Salad there. Their Eggs Benedict measure up to Honna's and my standards quite easily. I like to stay at the same hotel or B&B each time I visit a place. It certainly feels right to have The Algonquin be "our place" in New York.

. . . .

Got home about twenty-four hours after we'd left. T&A have headed south again; they will be spending tonight with Amy and Andrew in Alexandria and return to Richmond tomorrow. And tomorrow we, too, leave again for another couple of days of holiday! Stay tuned . . . .