Saturday, July 31, 2010

Shout Out

Need to give a great big shout-out to Bonnie Blue Quilts today.

I've seen their stand at a couple of shows and have bought some fabric from them and drooled over quite a bit more.  Recently I needed a particular fabric to finish a project and I ordered from Bonnie Blue on line.  There was a bit of a snag, and at the time, but it got resolved quickly and easily.  I found what I needed at another on-line shop and put the whole thing out of my mind.

Today the postal person brought me a small package from Richmond, Texas.  "Who the heck do I know there?" I wondered, as the postal sticky thingy was over the top line of the return address label.  Turned out to be Bonnie Blue herself, with a giftie and a note:

We apologize that your refund was not prompt.  Bonnie Blue Quilts strives to give great Customer service.  We want to let you know that your PayPal has been refunded $32.80.  We will be more careful of this matter in the future.  We have enclosed one of Paula's newest quilt designs as a small token of our customer appreciation.  We know you have other options to fill your shopping needs and we hope you will give us the opportunity to serve you in the future.

Now, I ask you (rhetorically), is that not fantastic?  Way to go, Bonnie Blue, and you BET I'll be back.  If not on line, at the next show.

Addresses Needed!

I can't believe the trouble I'm having giving away my Giveaway!

Sharon's William Morris FQs are ready to go in the mail.

And Karin sent her address, too, for the left over French General charms.

Nary a word, however, from Quiltmom Anna.  So I'm going to give that charm pack away to Kathy B who also commented that she would like it, and I happen to have her address!

Judi in the UK gets the cupcake pattern and Pati in Florida prefers chocolate rabbits, so she will get that pattern.  Judi and Pati, please email me your addresses so I can get them in the mail. 

I really only want to make one trip to the mailboxes place.

It is a gorgeous day here Near Philadelphia.  Himself and I had breakfast out on the deck and then I sat in the adirondack chair with a cup of blackberry sage tea, just to make the moment last longer.  Now it is off to buy groceries and then to come home and sew a bit.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Dog Days No More

Don't get me wrong.  Do not believe for a minute that the "dog days" of July have come to an end, though July itself is just about to do just that.

I don't even want to think about what August is going to be like.

I've been working on the quilt I'd been thinking of as "dog days" because it seemed to be reflective of the heat, the sun, the torrid air.

But now that the blocks are all assembled and the setting triangles are in place (except for the four corners) and I've begun working on the narrow pieced border, I've come to realize that this is not Dog Days.  No, no.  It is not.

It is Cinnamon Latte.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Philadelphia? Far From It!

A few weeks before Joe received his Master's degree, we had a big surprise.  We were expecting another baby!  This little one would be born when Tom was sixteen months old.  This news put a crimp in our plans to move to Philadelphia and have me be the breadwinner.  With the recession going on, we wondered what was going to happen next.

Most of the professors in the school of architecture had their own practices in addition to teaching, and for several summers Joe had been fortunate to find employment with one of them.  Jim's office was two towns over from Kent.  Jim had a business associate who was a recreation specialist, and that man's firm was looking for a young architect.  Joe met Carl and liked him immediately and when a job was offered, he was delighted.  The firm wasn't in Philadelphia, however, or even in the greater Kent and Akron region. 

It was in Chicago.

So West we went.

During the first year of being a mom, I'd joined the La Leche League of Kent.  My own mother had not been a good role model for parenting and, frankly, I was more than a little bit nervous.  From these women, I learned so much, not just about breastfeeding, but about how to turn a couple with a baby into a family, how to nurse, how to cope with fussiness, the foundations of good nutrition, and so much more.  When we moved to a suburb of Chicago, practically the first thing I did after the boxes were unpacked was to locate a League group.  Shortly before Sherry was born, I had begun the process of becoming a group leader.  All of the active listening training that I had taken with Help Line served me well, as I helped mothers get started and helped them solve problems in the early months of parenting.  At one point I spent a week as the national "on-call" leader for the League's headquarters in Chicago.

I've heard many times that Chicago is a terrific city, but we didn't have enough money to take advantage of it.  We bought our first home, a little three-bedroom ranch house in a suburb that may well have been the inspiration for  the song "Little Boxes":

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky,
Little boxes, little boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.

My neighbors were nice enough women.  But they were remarkably similar.  All Caucasians.  Mostly with two children, a boy and a girl. Winters in Chicago were brutally cold.  Summers were horribly hot.  Counseling pregnant ladies and leading group meetings wasn't quite enough for me.  I went over to the nearby community college and put up signs advertising my typing service and landed a little work.  We weren't close enough to a university for the dissertation market. 

Ultimately an English professor utilized my services and when he came to pick up his paper, he asked me, "How is your spelling?"  "Better than yours," I told him boldly.  "And your punctuation?"  "I've been a secretary for over twelve years."  He went on to tell me that he taught freshman composition and at his stage of life had read every possible freshman theme far too many times.  He was in search of a "reader" who would read and grade compositions and research papers for him.  He was a great big man with an ample beard and very soon we were calling him "Tevye."  This helped, as did the little bit of typing work.  I took a "Stretch and Sew" course and soon was producing T-shirts in all kinds of sizes.

By the end of our first year in Chicago, Carl was ready to leave the firm.  He and Jim were going to start their own practice of recreational planning, design, and architecture.  He invited Joe to join them, with the promise that after another year or two, he could return to Ohio and work out of Jim's office.

It was a potential step in the right direction, that is, East, and Joe joined Carl in the new firm. 

We were back in to counting the days until we could move back to Ohio!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Life in Kent

The four years that we spent living in Kent were happy ones.  One good thing that came from having spent that time in the Navy was the GI Bill, which provided a monthly check to Joe as a full-time college student.  We became eligible for the in-state tuition rate and that helped, too.  During the time that Joe had been away, the School of Architecture underwent some changes, and he returned just in time to participate in a new program.  The professional architecture degree normally took five years to complete; it would take Joe longer than that because of having transferred from a lesser school.  However, the year that we returned we learned of an option:  The 5-year professional degree was still available.  So was a 4-year bachelor's degree followed by a 2-year master's.  Furthermore, the master's students would be eligible to teach in a brand new associate's program.  Joe enrolled in this new option right away.  It would take no longer than the original plan, and he would come out with an advanced degree.

He spent many, many hours at his studies and his projects, leaving me with many hours to fill.  The typing business was great; I was learning all kinds of unusual things and meeting interesting people.  I learned of a crisis intervention center, applied, and was accepted into the forty-hour volunteer training program, which was one of the most important things I've ever done.  HELP Line was a university-sponsored telephone crisis line, and we did suicide prevention, drug identification, and all kinds of other crisis work.  Our training was built on the active listening model and I loved every minute of it.  After a couple of years, HELP line merged with Townhall II, a walk-in crisis center supported, I believe, by the county.  It included a free medical clinic where I took additional training to be a volunteer intake person.  I learned to issue slides for possible veneral disease specimens, to help women who thought they may be pregnant, to run pregnancy tests (this was long before the do-it-yourself type of test) and to take blood pressures, among other things.  How I loved wearing that stethoscope!

Joe and I had wanted to start a family and there were some problems on my end.  The doctors I saw in the Navy weren't any help at all.  Our personal theory was that they were trained as podiatrists and assigned to gynecology service.  But in Kent I met a physician who took my case to heart, and three-quarters of the way through our time in that town, I ran a pregnancy test with a most marvelous result!

It was around that time that I had begun to feel uneasy in the law office.  Hank and Brad were nice enough guys ("If you ever want a divorce, we won't charge you for it!") but their unconventionality was beginning to worry me.  I didn't know for sure whether they kept drugs in the office, and I began looking for a change.  Soon after I became pregnant, a half-time position opened up in the president's office at the University and I worked there until just a week before Tom was born.

As a new mom, I didn't plan to return to work outside of the home.  The typing business was earning enough, and at this point we had the teaching stipend to rely on.  However, when my wonderful doctor asked me if I would like to come in to his office one evening per week and transcribe his dictated chart notes, I was happy to accept the offer.  I did that for nearly a year.

Soon it was time for Joe to graduate with his master's degree and we began making more frequent trips home to Philadelphia in search of a job for him.  But there was a recession at that time, and architecture firms weren't hiring.  Since I'd always had a fairly easy time finding a job and since Tom was weaned, we came up with the plan that we'd move to Philadelphia, I'd get a job, and Joe would stay home with Tom for a few months until things got better and he could find a job, at which time I'd return to staying at home.

It was a terrific plan and it nearly worked.

Giveaway Revisited and Reinforced

Well, friends, it is Wednesday and while I've heard from Sharon, the winner of the William Morris FQ pack, Mimi has not contacted me to provide her address.  So, as promised, I'm picking a new winner.

The charm pack goes to Quiltmom Anna, who wrote:

Wow Nancy- 1000 posts and so many visitors too. It is easy to see why- I love your blog- I know that when I visit I am coming to visit a lovely lady who cares about others. I also know that you share your thoughts and beliefs and write many thought provoking posts. May you continue to enjoy blogging and celebrate another 1000 posts.

I would choose the French General fabrics- The William Morris ones are probably lovely too.

Paulette of Sweet P Quilting - I think just used the Rouenneries French General fabrics in her latest quilt- it is gorgeous.

Thanks for the lovely giveaway but most of all, thanks for writing a terrific blog.



Isn't that just lovely?

You'll notice in the picture to the left of the charm pack are some more charms.  These are the squares left from the four French General charm packs that I bought to make the wedding gift quilt (photo someday, really!).  I'd like to give them away, too. 

Commenter Karin  wrote:

I so enjoy reading your blog. We are of the same generation and I identify with lots of things you blog about. I never win anything but that's okay. I really love the French General lines. They seem to get better with each release. Congratulations on reaching 1000 posts

So, Karin, if you would like these odd FG squares, send me your address, and I'll get them in the mail to you.  And, Anna, please send me your address so I can send your your charm pack.

The fire engine is not being given away.

I thought I should have another giveaway, something purple, perhaps, to celebrate the new laptop.  So I went downstairs to see what might be appropriate.  The closest thing to purple that I found was this little pattern for a cupcake quilt.  At some point, I guess, I thought I was going to make it.  That is no longer the case and so the cupcake quilt pattern is up for give-away.  So, if you need this cupcake pattern, leave me a comment indicating as much.

Rabbits Prefer Chocolate is another pattern I bought, at one time believing I had quilt to make that.  Oh, dear.  That isn't going to happen, either.  If someone out there is a real applique nut and has the interest and patience to do this, please leave a comment saying as much.  And promise to show me a picture of your finished quilt.  If we both live that long!

We'll draw the cupcake and rabbits winners on Saturday.  And, again, the coupe is not a give-away.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dude, I Got a Dell!

Well, the verdict came in this morning.  The Toshiba laptop is history.  I took it to work this morning and had my favorite tech guy, Hoss, take a look, which he was so gracious to do.  It didn't take long for him to return, telling me that the light for the screen had burned out and there was nothing that could be done.

Truth be told, I wasn't surprised.  I'd pretty much suspected this was going to be the case.  Although it really does seem to me that I should be able to get more than two years out of a laptop.  The Toshiba was the second one I'd bought since I began blogging a little over four years ago. 

Joe had said this morning that if I needed a new one to think about an HP.  He feels very good about HP.  I asked Hoss what he recommended.  He told me either HP or Dell would be his choice.

So after work I went shopping.  A twelve-year-old who works at the store counseled me and showed me a few different laptops.  I really was charmed by the tiny ones; I think they are called "notebooks."  But the twelve-year-old said that these don't have a CD drive, and I think I need that.  To play The Sims, if nothing else, the next time the urge strikes me.  We talked about HP and Dell and looked at various models.  The HPs were considerably more expensive than the Dells, and ultimately we settled on an Inspiron 1245, whatever that means.  The lad led me to the tower where the parcels were stacked and asked, "What color do you want?"  Color?  Aren't they black?  They are not.  "You can have blue or purple.  I think we are out of red but I can check." 

Oh, my.  Purple!

Marsha, eat your heart out.

Kent State

If you're nearly as old as I am, this photo means something to you.  It was taken on the day that the National Guard killed four students at Kent State University, May 4, 1970.

Joe and I were living in Norfolk, Virginia, at the time, and the coverage of the massacre shook us to our bones.

Joe had spent the 1966-67 academic year in Kent, pursuing a bachelor's degree in architecture.  He'd graduated from Temple University in Philly with an associate's degree, and had the confidence to go out to Kent to continue his studies.  The University, of course, did not accept all of his credits in transfer.  This is why the draft board wanted him -- in their eyes, he'd had four years of college, and that was all anyone was entitled to.  Our Navy years were filled with counting the days until we could return to Kent and finish his degree.  Now, suddenly, on May 4 of 1970, a year and a half before we were scheduled to return to Kent, the news was filled with the possibility that the University may be shut down.

It wasn't, of course, and in August of 1971 I moved there and rather quickly found a position with one of the rubber companies that Akron is famous for.  We moved into an attractive townhouse and began for the first time to earnestly seek relationships with potential long-term friends!  Farm tire sales wasn't exactly my cup of tea, and the northeast Ohio winter weather wasn't pleasant for a long car commute, so I began looking for a job right in Kent.  Meanwhile, I registered with the graduate school as a typist of dissertations and theses, and began to build a little business.  I had a lot of time to fill as Joe was very, very busy with his studies.

In the spring of 1972 I was fortunate enough to be hired by a small law firm in Kent.  The two partners had a very colorful clientele, among them some Hell's Angels, and most of the Kent 25 (the students and faculty indicted by a grand jury on criminal charges associated with the events of May 4, 1970).  I could ride the campus bus or my bike to work.  The attorneys (we'll call them Hank and Brad) were casual, informal men, who sometimes were paid their fees in marijuana or guns.  They kept a suit, shirt and tie in the office in case they were suddenly called into court, and tried to keep their weight the same so that the suit would fit either one of them.

The typing business had really taken off and I formed a very nice association with a professor in the school of educational administration.  He often said, "I do not traffic in typists," but he sent many members of his introduction to research class my way, and when they got good grades, they generally stayed with me throughout their years in the program and I typed many papers for them and ultimately their dissertations.

I worked for Hank and Brad for two years until something wonderful happened.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The End In Sight

The Navy years were drawing to a close.  We couldn't wait for them to end and for Joe to get back to college.  The entire four years felt as though they were a part of our lives that were in parentheses, not really our lives, the lives that we'd planned, but rather something we just had to get through.  Uncertainty and waiting were two hallmarks of the experience.

Sea duty aboard the Orion did turn out to be as promised.  The ship went out on a three-or-four-day cruise every three months or so.  The rest of the time, it stayed in port serving as a repair base for the submarines that pulled up alongside it.  Every fourth night and every fourth weekend day Joe had to stay on the ship on duty.  The rest of the time, he went back and forth from home, like a "real job."  On the weekend duty days, I'd usually go aboard ship and have dinner with him.  The food was surprisingly edible, although I remember the milk as tasting funny.  A few times I stayed for the movie that was being shown.

 When we arrived in Norfolk, we learned almost immediately that the ship was going to move to Charleston; we just didn't know when.   

It turned out to be early in the winter of 1970.  We spent the last week of November getting packed, and since we were so close to Williamsburg, Virginia, we had our Thanksgiving dinner there that year.  We arrived in Charleston and rented a little townhouse that was brand new.

I quickly landed a job at The Citadel, working in the Armory in the Sports Information Office.  This was, of course, back when it was an all-male school.  I enjoyed my work, but didn't invest too heavily in it.  I had what the Navy called "short timer attitude."  While we were in Charleston, Joe learned that he'd passed the exam for promotion to E-5, but declined the promotion because in order to accept, he had to have a certain amount of time remaining on his enlistment, and that would have complicated our hope for an "early out."

People nearing the end of their enlistment who were planning to go to school often were able to get discharged early.  Joe's enlistment was scheduled to end on October 5, 1971, and because of our firm commitment to have him return to school (and get on with our real lives), he was able to be discharged just in time for the fall quarter to start.  We moved to Kent, Ohio near the end of August, got settled, and he returned to Charleston to live aboard the ship while I began to look for a job.

One of the happiest times I can remember was the evening I drove to the Akron-Canton Airport to pick him up as he wore his Navy uniform for the last time!

Business As Usual?

The mysterious dark screen on the laptop comes and goes.  I'm going to bring it to work on Tuesday and ask someone to take a look.  I'm hoping I can get one more year out of this laptop; I don't think three years is asking too much.  Is it?

Anyway, all of those recent trips down memory lane haven't halted the sewinig!  I've been working hard -- Dog Days (which is about to have a name change to something like Cinnamon Dolce Latte); at this point the rows are all assembled and there are two more long seams before I start the borders.  I'm like this quilt.  A lot.

And another project has become a flimsy; it is a wedding gift and a photo will be available shortly.  And My Blue Heaven is still my leader-ender project.

And yesterday I finished the binding on the Odyssea quilt.  I love this line of fabric and wish it were more readily available.  I found the fabric at a wonderful shop in Richmond when I was there at the time Nate was born; I bought a charm pack and a small amount of yardage and then picked up the lattice fabric here at home.  It's going off to Nate today!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Mysterious Illness

Oh, no!  My laptop computer is very, very sick!  Yesterday afternoon, out of the blue, the illumination of the screen went out.  I've no idea whether it is fixable or not and if it is how much money it will cost.  I was hoping to get one more year out of this laptop.

So presently I'm using my ever-so-slow-and-ancient tower computer that lives downstairs.  Will ask one of the techies at work to look at the laptop tomorrow. 

Blogging is on hold until further notice.  Darn it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Come Out! Come Out! Wherever You Are!

I've not heard from Sharon and Mimi, the winners drawn for my 1000th post giveaway.  Sharon and Mimi, I need you to email me and provide your mailing addresses.

If I don't hear from these ladies by Wednesday morning, I'll draw new numbers for my William Morris FQ pack and my French General charm pack.

Anchors Aweigh!

We spent a total of a year and three-quarters in Pensacola, living most of that time in Navy housing.  Most of our neighbors were families of enlisted men assigned to the aircraft training carrier Lexington, which went out of port for sometimes several weeks at a time.  We were fortunate enough to be able to afford a telephone, which several nearby families used as their emergency number for families to contact them.  We got into the habit of checking the recorded line on the base to find out when the Lex was due back in port, and writing the information on a chalkboard that we kept on our front porch.

We were learning to be married and Joe was spending a lot of time at the on-base yacht club where he learned to sail a Daysailer and I spent a great deal of time with the new Kenmore sewing maching we'd bought on time as a first stab at establishing credit.

Nearing the end of the year of extension in Pensacola, I approached the Captain.  "I'm still really happy here, sir," I told him.  He invited me to sit down for a chat.  On learning that there were two years remaining on Joe's enlistment, he told me that he was scheduled for two years of sea duty.  It would be possible to extend the time in Pensacola for one more year, but at the end of that time Joe would have only one year left and since sea duty came in two-year chunks, he'd for sure be off to spend that last year in Vietnam.  Very generously, he told me to call Joe and have him come over to his office.  When Joe arrived, he re-explained the options, and then offered to call BUPERS (Bureau of Personnel) in D.C. to arrange for an appealing stint of sea duty.  This was a very, very unusual thing to do.

The options for an illustrator-draftsman included a billet on a ship based in Groton and another in Norfolk.  Norfolk was relatively close to home and the description of the sea duty was attractive:  The USS Orion (AS 18) was a submarine tender and as such spent most of its time in port.  Every three months it would go out for a few days and then return to port.

We moved to Virginia and rented a little house and I rather easily found a job at Old Dominion University working with the M.B.A. program.  Meanwhile, Joe reported to the ship and learned that incoming sailors didn't go directly to their assignment, but had to spend a certain amount of time working as mess cooks.  The mess officer looked at Joe's records and determined that since he had spent four years in college, his job would be to type the menu each day.  What the officer didn't know was that I'd typed Joe's papers for him, and my husband wasn't a typist.  With the whole day to type a menu, though, it didn't seem as though it was going to be a terrible hardship and it beat slinging hash.  After just a couple of days, the paperwork verifying the promotion he'd earned from E-2 to E-3 arrived, and the mess officer was required to release him to the drafting shop.

It was about that time that we also learned that the Orion would not be in Norfolk for two years; in fact, after one year, she was scheduled to move to Charleston, South Carolina.

Friday, July 23, 2010

CNABATRA and more

A couple of people have written to ask what happened when we got to Pensacola.

Joe's orders directed him to report to CNABATRA during the first week of January, 1968.  We had no idea what CNABATRA meant, and when we got to Pensacola, our first order of business was to find a place to live.  We'd brought with us only a few basic housekeeping possessions -- things that would fit in the trunk and back of the car and in the rented car-top carrier.  The plan was that once I got a job, we'd send home and have everything else moved to us.  If I didn't get a job, I'd return home and Joe would live on the base.

We stayed in a rooming house for a few days and then moved into a half of an unfurnished duplex on "Z" street.  It was a cute enough place, and the rent was $65 per month.  Plus utilities.  We borrowed some furniture from the Navy Relief office until we could manage to send for our own things. 

Joe reported to CNABATRA and we learned that this was Chief of Naval Air Basic Training -- he'd been assigned to a two-star admiral's staff as a member of the drafting shop.  His principal responsibility, as I remember it, had to do with making charts about Naval Air Basic Training.  This was at the height of the Vietnam War and many, many Navy pilots were graduated weekly from the basic school.

Finding a job for me wasn't very easy.  As a Navy wife, I was suspect -- employers weren't confident that I'd be on the job very long before I'd have to move again.  I took the Civil Service examination for stenographer/typist and worked at several short-term places (yes, we did send for our furniture) while I waited for an opportunity to land a job on the base.  We found that the $65 per month (plus utilities) was more than we could afford to pay for rent and applied for base housing.  And waited.  Waited for both housing and a job I could count on. 

It took a while.  But in May everything happened at once.  We were offered a small one-bedroom unit in Moreno Court (I looked for on-line photos, and there aren't any), housing that was built well before World War II for $47 per month with the utilities included.  And the same week, I was requested to come for an interview on the main base.

All of that time, we had a new worry hanging over us.  It had turned out that the draftsman Joe replaced at CNABATRA had been sent to Da Nang, and the sailor that he had replaced he was once again replacing in Da Nang.  It seemed inevitable that Joe was going to 'Nam after our year on Pensacola.  The stress was tremendous.  I began to suffer from tension headaches and digestive disturbances.

The position that I was offered was at CNATRA, Chief of Naval Air Training.  I served on the staff of a three-star admiral, the man that CNABATRA reported to.  I was assigned to the civilian personnel department and my duties included maintaining the personnel and time card records of all CNABATRA employees and working with the statistics involving civilian personnel (there were thousands of them) assigned to all of the bases under CNATRA's command.  I worked hard and learned a little bit about civilian personnel.

Towards the end of the year, the Captain called me into his office.  I could not imagine what I had done wrong, and trembled my way across the hall.  "Do you like working here?" he began.  I assured him that indeed I did, and that I was very happy.  He said that CNATRA was very happy with me, too, and promoted me from a GS-2 to a GS-3.  Then he said, "I understand that your husband is due for orders in January."  I confirmed this.  He told me that CNATRA would like to keep me and with Joe's and my agreement, CNATRA would arrange to have Joe's tour of duty in Pensacola extended for another year!

We agreed!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Off to Boot Camp

Continuing with the story from yesterday, Joe enlisted in the U. S. Navy and we got married, knowing we had 120 days before he reported to boot camp.  We had a wonderful summer, despite the unknowns hanging over us.  We had a long weekend honeymoon in Lake George Village, a long weekend camping at Thousand Islands, and a final long weekend camping at Expo '67 in Montreal.

Joe left for boot camp the first week in October.  He was due home just a week or two before Christmas.  Early in December, he phoned.  It seemed that the Navy recruiter hadn't been entirely truthful about what he'd offered Joe.  There was no guarantee of an illustrator-draftsman position, and, in fact, there were only 300 such billets in the entire Navy!  There was one vacancy and if Joe wanted to be considered for it, he had to waive the Class A school he was entitled to and compete with everyone else who wanted that spot.  If he was not selected, he'd be sent to corpsman school and immediately go to 'Nam as a medic supporting the Marines.  And he'd have to stay in boot camp an extra week before he would find out.

It was a very long week.

Finally another phone call came.  He'd be home for Christmas, and with about three days to spare!  And he'd received the illustrator-draftsman position!   The shore duty part had turned out to be true!  He'd been assigned to Pensacola, Florida, for a year, and was due to report the first week in January!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Give-Away Winners

There were 53 comments on my 1000th post.  So this morning at breakfast I asked You Know Who to choose a number between 1 and 53.  "Forty-seven," he replied quickly.  So I counted and discovered that comment #47 was left by . . .

. . . Sharon who said...

Either or none - just love you and the blog that we both keep in touch with each other through. What a transition we've made, eh? I guess I need to go look at how many posts I've made. I never even thought about that!

I asked Himself to choose another number for the second give-away.  He thought for a second and said, "Twenty-Six."  Twenty-Six is . . .

. . . Mimi who said...

Celebrate indeed!! Congratulations on hitting 1000 - woo hoo! If I am a lucky recipient I would choose the French General. Thanks for the chance. By the way, love the "cow" posts - awesome.

So it appears that the French General charms will be going to Mimi and the William Morris to Sharon, and my love and good wishes to both of them.  Sharon and Mimi, please email me your snail mail addresses, and I'll get your goodies in the mail quickly!

Thank you to all who commented.

A Special Day

Back in 1967, Joe and I were engaged, and had vague plans about being married in September of that year.  In those days (said the aging person), three or four months were enough to plan a wedding; things weren't as over-the-top lavish complicated as they are now. 

Joe was in his fourth year of college, but since he had transferred from one school to another, he wasn't a senior.  That whole year, the draft board had been harrassing him, and as soon as the year ended, he had to report for his physical.  We both had a pretty good idea of what would happen next.

I was at work when the phone call came.  Joe was calling from the Navy recruiting office, just down the hall from the Army physical examination suite.  He'd been told he'd likely be reporting for duty in a week, going immediately to basic training and then to Vietnam.  The man at the Navy office had offered him a 120-day delay in reporting, Navy boot camp, and then preferred duty as an illustrator-draftsman which more than likely would involve shore duty.  The trade-off was four years of duty rather than the two years that the draft board required.  It seemed a much safer option.  His question to me was, "How quickly can we get married?"

It was a busy three weeks.  He found an apartment.  I found a dress.  Honna found a dress.  A coworker provided a recipe for champagne punch.  Aunts grew suspicious at the hurried-up nature of the wedding and carefully studied my abdomen looking for evidence of The Reason.

We were married on a Friday evening by candlelight.  I wore a short, white, Mexican-style dress and carried daisies.  Honna's dress was yellow and similar in style.  She carried mixed flowers.  Ice cream, cake, and the champagne punch were served at my mother's house following the ceremony.  It was July 21, 1967.  Forty-three years ago.

The other day I was in the company of two other women and as talk turned to anniversaries, one of them said, "I'm not totally sure I'd marry my husband if I had it to do over."  I was amazed.  And then the other one said, "I'm not sure either."  Holy cow.

I'd do it again.  In three weeks.  Or in a minute.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Blue Heaven

Well, Dog Days is ready to be assembled, and I started that process this afternoon.

I didn't have enough going on, what with finishing the Indigo and Caramel Baskets (now a flimsy, in the queue for quilting), Bill's Baskets on hold waiting for additional brown for a wide border, another project (as yet unmentioned and unphotographed) in flimsy stage and also in the queue, and a temporary loss of interest in my current Leader-Ender project, more about which someday when it is back in favor.  So I needed a new Leader-Ender project and thought about this terrific Asterisk that I'd seen a few weeks back on Selvage Blog.  I picked up a stack of nice batiks that all look mighty fine together and cut a few starter squares and cut some long strips.  This first block strikes me as gorgeous, if I do say so myself. 

But you know what tends to happen with me, especially in the summer, don't you?  That's right.  My Leader-Ender projects get noisy and demand to be made real projects instead of Leader-Enders.  I'm hoping this one will not get insistent that way. 

With a potential name of "My Blue Heaven," you'd think it would be well-behaved, wouldn't you?

Monday, July 19, 2010

For a Dear Little Girl

At last I have the binding on the baby quilt for Andrew and Amy's friends Meg and Ben, who are expecting a little girl on or about Labor Day.  I bought the fabrics in late April when I was in Richmond welcoming Nathaniel.  I pieced the top in short order and had begun hand quilting when I went down to welcome Elijah.  I took it with me but didn't sew a stitch during my visit!  Too busy holding and admiring the baby, I guess.  Then it seemed to take for ever for me to finish the hand quilting on it -- we've had so much going on.

Last night, after having spent much of the day machine piecing at church, I got the last stitches in and machined the binding on.  Today it hardly took any time at all to hand stitch that binding down.  We'll be going to visit Andrew and family in a few weeks and I think I'll just take it along rather than put it in the mail. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Martha and Mary

Today was the best Mary/Martha Sunday I can remember. 

Normally, I cringe and frown quite a bit when this story pops up in the lectionary.

(For extra credit, friends, guess which sister I identify with.)

So this morning when I looked at the readings, I thought, "Oh, here we go again."  The Old Testament reading juxtaposed against the M&M tale very loudy.  Abraham being visited by three angels.  He had his servant killing, marinating and grilling a piece of fresh meat.  He had Sarah in the tent baking bread (and if the temperature there and then was anything like it is here and now, Sarah's an absolute saint for obliging her man on this particular task.)  He himself, Abraham, that is, scurrying about, setting the table, washing the feet, prolly arranging an attractive centerpiece.  Way to go, I think, for entertaining important guests.

So.  Fast forward through the Psalm and the New Testament lesson the to Gospel.  And what do we have?  M&M once again, with Jesus and the guys having dropped in for dinner.  Mary, slacker that she is, hangs out in the front room with the men, leaving Martha to get the entire meal ready and on the table.  And, to put the icing on the cake (metaphorically speaking), Jesus sides with Mary!  Do you believe it? 

Frown.  Cringe.  Snarl.

Coincidentally, tomorrow night a friend of ours who is a young pastor is coming to dinner.  With his wife (who's a kick-ass quilter,by the way) and a second couple (another quilter and her delightful husband).  I spent a good bit of time planning my menu, shopping at not one but two stores to get what I need, and kind of had the thought that if the sermon was not to my taste the morning, I'd spend that time considering what kind of flowers to put on the table and whether it would be nice enough to have the shrimps and crudite on the deck, and whipped cream vs. vanilla ice cream to top the cobbler.

Yeah, yeah.  Call me Martha.

But wait!  Listen up! 

Our terrific pastor took the position that Martha got a bit of a bad rap and that the human side of Jesus got carried away.  I sat up.  I took notice.  I paid close attention (kind of like Mary would have done).  Pastor suggested that if the story were being lived and told today, when Jesus popped in and saw Martha get afluster at the sudden need to serve a meal (what with the local grocery being closed, it being the Sabbath and all), why Jesus would have suggested they all work together in the kitchen.  He even offered to cut the tomatoes while Martha threw together a frittata or some such.  No mention of Mary.  And that suited me just fine. 

I liked this story.  A lot.

Even came up with the next scene:  The frittata done, the bread sliced, the tomatoes meticulously and gorgeously sliced, the wine poured (a nice white, I think, chilled to perfection) everyone sits down at the table.  Whose turn is it to say grace?


Cue Mary -- who, of course, knows exactly how to proceed:

"Be present at our table, Lord . . . ."


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

I began blogging in May of 2006 and this is post number 1000.  I put a hit counter on the blog in August of '06 and as of a half-hour ago, there are 199,059 hits.

I had no idea what this would turn into or how many wonderful people I would "meet" through this experience.

I'm going to celebrate the 1000 posts with a quilters' giveaway.   I have a charm pack of French General to give away and a pack of William Morris fat quarters as another giveaway. 

To enter, leave a comment on this post indicating which you would prefer to win.  Please don't advertise my giveaway on your blog; I'd like my gifts to go to regular readers and don't care for the idea of giveaways as traffic builders. 

This coming Wednesday is an important day (more about which later), so that will be the day that I ask my very versatile husband/design wall/dog trainer/random number generator to pick a couple of numbers and I'll try really hard to get the gifties in the mail on Thursday.  Or Friday.

Today was the semi-annual quilt day at church, where 15 or 20 of us take our machines and our projects and sew together.  I was working on a wedding gift (pics to follow) and made very good progress.  Ultimately I became really worn out from the heat and came home shortly after lunch with about one and a half hours' worth of work left on the project.  With any luck, I'll post a pic of the finished flimsy in another couple of days.

Other people were working on various things.  Susan was piecing a top for her daughter's bridal shower.  Which is tomorrow.  One doesn't want to let these things wait until the last minute.  Marsha was pin basting baby quilts.  Helen was suffering from some sort of concentration impairment and tried out various projects and by the time I left had come close to finishing one indigo and caramel basket. Jane and Dot were assembling peachy purses for the craft table at the Oktoberfest.  Misty was binding an amazing quilt that I didn't get to photograph.  Newcomer Joan was doing something very intricate involving cats.  And Arnetta, also a newcomer, had brought this quilt along which she was planning to machine quilt herself.  I just loved it and I hope that you can enlarge the picture by clicking on it to see the blocks that appear a bit of a blur at this point.  They are scenes of African tribal life, featuring the most wonderful people who seem to be about as happy as the fabrics Arnetta chose to build her houses.  And don't overlook her church -- she has some metallic thread to do the cross on the top of the steeple!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dog Days

At one point I knew why they were called "The Dog Days of August."  Not any more.  And it doesn't matter because, as we all know, it isn't even August.  Yet.  One lives in uncomfortable anticipation.  The July '10 Heat Wave Near Philadelphia continues.  I've lost count of how many consecutive days we've had the air conditioning on.  Most summers it is a total of ten days, spread over three months.  It's been at least that long for this particular stretch.  And it isn't even August.

But as long as we're talking Dog Days, here's my favorite dog -- look how big he's getting!  He's his daddy's best friend, and still fancies himself a lap dog, though that particular thinking will need to be revised soon.  I wish I knew how to get that reflection out of his eyes.  It doesn't suit him.  He's had black as well as honey-colored freckles pop out at the rate of one or two per day for the past few weeks, and has begun to grow some fringe on his arms and chest.  Oh, he's going to be gorgeous, Lord Hazelmere of Blackberry is!

When I got home from White Oak, I started in on a gift quilt from some French General fabric I'd picked up, and was moving merrily along until I discovered that I needed more.  I went right to the Old Country Store website and ordered some.  I think that was yesterday.  Or possibly Tuesday.  Not sure.  Anyway, it came today already!  OCS's price for French General was quite a bit less expensive per yard than Hancock's of Paducah's.  Just sayin'.

Anyway, while I was waiting for the shipment to arrive, I finally cut into the batik strips I'd bought from Wanda ages ago.  The blocks came together so quickly, and I'm liking this effort pretty much.  Needs another vertical row yet.  It's the same design as "We The Purple" was.  It seemed like the colors were reflective of autumn and I was thinking of calling it "November Morn," but this afternoon, as the temperature reached the 90s yet again, I thought it might really be about the heat of July, 2010, and oughta be named "Dog Days."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Okay, Everyone, Just Smile!

Andrew and Eli