Friday, January 26, 2018


You know, I thought I was going to get back to regular blogging. I really did. I really do!


So many other things keep jumping onto my plate. One time about a hundred years ago, I whined to my friend Dayle, "I've got too much on my plate!" "So get a platter," she replied without missing a beat. Pragmatic she is.

And I thought I was going to get back to regular, daily sewing. And I still do.

I've done some sewing, working on a couple of baby quilts from strings. Putting borders on otherwise-finished projects. Finishing something that has been in progress for seventeen years (pic coming in a week or so)!

Been itching to start something entirely new. You know, the kind of thing where you go to the shop and buy a whole bunch of brand new fabrics and forget you have those scrap bins. But my main store hasn't scheduled a big sale lately, and even if they did, I'm finding that they aren't carrying the kinds of things my taste has been running to.

Then the other day my friend No-Blog-Sarah (hint! hint!) posted a picture of these fabrics on FB and I just sat there at the keyboard transfixed. And, you know what, I didn't even have to get out of my jammies and head to the shop. Because I got them from here, the place that makes 'em. The photo above is from their site.

They came this morning. By Priority Mail. All tied up together in a lovely stack. And, if possible, they are even more gorgeous up close and personal than they are in the photo. I've got a lot on my plate today. So I'm going to put it away and get out the platter. Because these babies are demanding to be fondled. Now.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Reminder

I really should print this photo out and put it on my wall in a prominent place. It's a reminder that I need, more and more, as our country struggles with the political forces that divide us.

Most of the people I know voted the way I did. A couple of friends didn't, and we deliberately avoid discussing politics.

One of my friends is a very, very witty, intelligent, funny woman who is a meticulous quilter and a superb cook. She's more generous than many people, and spiritual in an independent sort of way. These are qualities that I must not lose sight of because she happened to support Mr. Trump for President.

There are other, long-time friends who I imagine were in the Trump camp, at least initially. As I said, we don't talk about it. We are all still people who enjoy dinner together.

Sometimes, though, when I read things people post on Facebook, I get confused. A piece of me starts to see people as who they voted for rather than who I have always known them to be. And that's wrong. So I need this reminder.

And wouldn't you know that it came from someone I've known my entire life, a good and decent person who isn't racist, misogynistic, or hateful; a person who happens to have a political stance that is polar opposite of mine. And we are part of the same family! Thanks, cousin.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Game

The past few months, since I returned from Spain, have been busy ones. First, of course, was the attempt to catch up with everything that had been neglected during travel: bills, laundry, house, dog. And the game. The game I'd found through Facebook not long before we'd left home. Three weeks away had made me very hungry to play.

Slowly (or perhaps not so slowly), the game edged its way into more and more of my time. Sewing time lessened. Blogging time became nearly nonexistent except for trying to write about the trip. Reading time took a back burner. The game was addictive.

Then, recently, some things happened that seemed to point out the obvious. It took a little while, though, for me to recognize the confluence that was happening. Somehow, these things all came together:

  • My pal Julie wrote that she was leaving Facebook. It had become a life weed.
  • Preparation for the hectic last two weeks of the year caused me to resume my practice of list making. My little piece of penciled graph paper became my constant companion.
  • A new year came and with it came an urge to purge. Himself and I are going through the house and filling bags and boxes with stuff, things we no longer need -- heck, some are things we never needed -- as well as tired clothing, dust catching knickknacks, books we won't read again.
  • A brief visit from my brother-in-law, one of the most goal-setting and self-disciplined people I've known. When he first got email, he developed a practice of dealing with it one time per day, first thing in the morning. And I believe that these many years later, that is still his habit. When he visited, he spoke of the reading he was doing in preparation for an upcoming trip.
  • I found the time to go visit the article that had inspired Julie, the Life Weeds article.
The picture at the top of this post is a bowl of porcelain berries. They are gorgeous. I've loved them for many years and even made a quilt based on their colors. They are also a weed. Their attraction is deadly to a garden. 

The game is a life weed for me. It has consumed time that used to be spent thinking, writing, sewing, cooking, being. 

This morning I pulled it out. Deleted it from my FB page. From my life. Funny how insidious these kinds of things can be. Porcelain berries. Life weeds.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Epic Trip Part Twenty-Two: A Full Day in Barbados

I'd bought us a pair of tickets to a full-day tour in Barbados on Sunday, and it was money well spent.

We were picked up at our hotel at the appointed time and our first stop was Harrison's Cave. Joe and I have seen stalactites and stalagmites before and always found them interesting. This time was no exception. The guide was outstanding and the people on the tour was amiable. One of them offered to take this photo of us inside the cave.

After we left the cave, the tour took us to the Flower Forest, a beautiful tropical rain forest. We weren't surprised that it rained just a little bit while we were there. We walked and walked and saw gorgeous exotic plants.

Some of our tour mates opted for a different experience, so we had a little time at the conclusion of our exploration to relax in the gift-shop lobby and enjoy a complimentary mango beverage before resuming.

We had a brief stop at Bathsheba's Beach, a lovely spot we'd visited before. There was a large group of people in the picnic area and conversation with them revealed that they were from a nearby church and had decided to have their worship service on the beach that day in celebration of Barbados Independence Day which would occur later in the week.

Next we were off to a Caribbean lunch at a place favored by locals.

Then it was time for the absolute high point of the day.

I've never before been to a place like the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. It was extraordinary. Our tour was timed so that we would arrive at the Reserve shortly after the beginning of feeding time.

Upon entering the reserve, the first thing we saw was a couple of huge turtles, lumbering along the pathway, unrestrained by fence or barrier of any kind. They walked with an intensity, with a purpose, and we were going in the same direction. We all arrived (us a bit before some of the turtles) at a clearing where a major feeding was going on. Pumpkins or winter squash or something in that family had been cut up and offered to all takers. And takers there were. In addition to the turtles were the green monkeys (some of whom used the turtles as stools), peacocks, deer, all eating together mindless of those of us within arm's reach. It was absolutely wonderful!

At the end of our visit we were treated to a very tasty rum punch which was totally unnecessary since we were already giddy from our experience.

And the next day, it was time to return to reality. We had missed Halloween, Joe had missed Thanksgiving, and we came home to people selling Christmas trees. Our Epic Trip was over.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Epic Trip Part Twenty-One: Reunited

I love this painting. I loved it the first time I saw it several years ago and I loved it again when I rediscovered it in the lobby . . .

. . . Oops, I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

I spent most of Friday on the move. The train from Near Philadelphia to the airport is a wonderful thing. It is efficient. It is inexpensive. I allowed the usual huge amount of time at the airport and found it practically deserted! It was the day after Thanksgiving, prolly the least traveled day of the year.

I had a layover halfway through my travels, with just enough time to grab some lunch. At the other end, a representative from my hotel helped me find a cab and just before midnight, I ended up in my favorite hotel lobby, that of the Barbados Hilton.

The thing about this hotel lobby that captivates me is that there are no exterior walls to the left and right! It is totally open to the outside -- beautiful water views on both sides. Of course there is furniture in the lobby that isn't shown in this photo from the hotel's website. That lobby is where I spent much of Saturday morning waiting for my sailor to arrive.

And then he did.

We spent the day relaxing, exploring the hotel property, playing in the pools, the hot tub, the sea. We napped. We talked. We held hands. We had dinner at Brown Sugar, a restaurant we'd enjoyed on our first visit to this lovely island. We turned in early that night; we had a very, very big day planned for Sunday.

View of the hotel from the beach.

A non-functioning lighthouse, just part of the charm of the property.

The bridge leads to the hot tub.

One of three or four pools.

Tiny crabs who scurried away, not wanting to make our acquaintance.

The sailor returns.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Epic Trip Part Twenty: Phase Four (Last) Phase Begins

I returned home from Madrid on November 12 and settled into not-quite-two weeks as a single parent of a very energetic English Springer Spaniel. Do not be fooled by how serene he looks in this photo! Sherry and her family had kept Blackberry while Joe and I were away. He was glad enough to see me, but he is really Joe's dog and kept asking me, "Where's Joe? Where's Joe?" How do you tell a dog, "He'll be back in two weeks"?

The two weeks were busy ones. The middle weekend was consumed by my semi-annual escape to Black Rock. And there was Christmas shopping to do, and plans to make, and this, and that. Not to mention four walks per day with You Know Who. I was glad to return to the little school for autistic kids.

I had a lot of time to think, and during that time, while I was missing Joe far more than I'd anticipated, it became very clear to me that I wanted to realign my priorities. My hospital chaplaincy job took the better part of two weekends each month, plus the occasional holiday. Weekends and holidays are the very best times to visit family in another state. Weekends are sometimes when organized quilting opportunities come up. I was reluctant to accept these kinds of opportunities, knowing that I was leaving Joe so much for work. Weekends that worked for us didn't always work for the remote family. I loved my job at the hospital; I knew I was doing good work and had done so for four years. I'd been thinking that five years would be about right, but during this period of Single Dog Parent, I came to understand that four years was actually the right amount of time.

Thanksgiving came and I was happy that -- as usual -- my niece had invited me to join her massive gathering. Tom and his family came up from Virginia and it was good to spend time with them at Karen's home.

The day after Thanksgiving, Tom left his wife and the children at Sherry's where they were staying and came down to Near Philadelphia. The two of us had an exceedingly rare opportunity: We went out to breakfast at the Best Place in Town. It was lovely to talk without interruptions!

And then he took me to the train that went to the airport.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Epic Trip Part Nineteen: Continuing the Transatlantic Crossing

The Guest Blogger writes:

The capital of Cape Verde (Cabo Verde in Portuguese) is Praia, on Santiago Island. These first two photos show this mist or fog, but the locals just call it Sahara Sand. At first, I didn't believe that sand, however fine it could be, could blow from the Sahara Desert 600 miles away. But after a full day of breathing it, I could feel it in my nose, in my eyes, and in my throat. I now know and believe in Sahara Sand. Our visit was on Monday, November 13th, and the stores and shops and market were open.

Praia is the capital and busy with an active port and highways. On the other side of the island we visited an old fort (with resident), and the small village below.

In the small town below the fort, we saw women sweeping the dirt street and selling their wares. At a small square the local women knew we were coming to visit and they put on a dance presentation for our tour.

All of the Cabo Verde Islands are very dry and poor. The population is a mix of Africans and Portuguese, in a Creole culture. The main industry is fishing. In the past. this is where slavers would bring the captive Africans to be carried to Barbados in the new world. Today and for the last several years, the Chinese have improved the roads and schools, and built the first university and other facilities for the locals. In ten years they are to pay back this investment. In the meantime, the Chinese are allowed to fish the local waters at will. We were told that many of the construction workers used for these new developements are the Chinese rather than local residents. The local residents have experienced a doubling in the cost of their fish, while still appearing to be poor. I think we all left with a troubled feeling.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Epic Trip Part Eighteen: Phase Three Begins

Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Madrid was the Blogger and her daughter, not her husband. Last we heard of him was on Gran Canaria. What the heck happened to Himself?

Well, as it happens, Himself has long had a passionate desire to cross the Atlantic Ocean aboard Star Flyer or one of her sister ships. And as it happened, the trip that we'd previously planned to Spain and Morocco just happened to end at the place where Star Flyer's Transatlantic Journey began! And so, with my full blessing, he fulfilled his dream. The Madrid part was decided later on.

After leaving Las Palmas, Star Flyer visited, I believe, two more ports, both in the Cape Verde chain. First up was Mindelo, and we'll let Himself, the Guest Blogger, take it from here:

Mindelo is on the island of Sao Vicente, one of 10 islands in then Cape Verde chain. These islands are spread out over several hundred miles and are located about 600 miles from Africa. This group of volcanic islands is due east of southern Mauritania and northern Senegal. The climate is very dry, but often covered in clouds and mist. The high mountain locations get the most fog and are, therefore, the best places for crops. Our tour took us in two buses up a narrow, rough, and very steep road to the top of the highest point in the island. At the top, clouds below covered the view of Mindelo.


This is a volcanic island, but the sandy beach is not black. Rather  it is yellow! This is Sahara sand.  600 miles away sand storms have sent sand to Sao Vicente island. You will hear more of Sahara sand in the next port, and you will see it in the air.  In the center of the island is a fresh water oasis, very green and all cultivated. We were in town on a Sunday and the shops were  all closed and quiet. Almost everyone was at the beach.  Upon leaving the island we sailed around the island to the west and pasted many miles of rocky coast.