Friday, July 25, 2014

Row by Row

Many North Carolina quilt stores are participating in this "thing" (for lack of a better word) over the summer and early fall.  Quilt shops in Canada and across the US who are participating are offering a free quilt pattern (36"x 9") if you visit their store between July 1 and Sept 1.  Once you acquire 8 rows (or more) and put them into a quilt (totally finished, quilting, binding...the works), if you are the first person to show off the quilt at one of the stores where a pattern originated from, you get a prize from that store. NC is a little behind the buzz (we've only had 2 winners out of who knows how many stores), but evidently a lot of people are doing it, as the Cary store has already had 1,000 people come by the store and request patterns. That's a lot of customers in just three weeks!

While it would be incredibly awesome to be a winner, I'm being very picky about what patterns I'll do. If I'm going to invest my time and money into a quilt, I want it to be one I like, not just something I've thrown together helter skelter. The down side is that some of the patterns I really like are not close in Murphy, NC.  If you drive much further west, you'll be in TN.

For a look at NC's patterns (or at least the ones showing pictures of them), you can visit Facebook's NC Row by Row Experience page.  To see whether or not your state is particpating (and what shops), visit

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Last week I finally got around to filling up the hummingbird feeder (yes, I know that should have been done in March or April). IMMEDIATELY, as in, within an hour, we had hummingbirds.

One little fellow seems to camp out at the feeder. I was able to get a few pictures of it this morning, though they're not the best quality since I had to zoom so far.

Hanging out on the dog pen (which is near the back porch & feeder)

Drinking from the fake flowers (he'll usually stay almost a minute each trip)

Taking a break between gulps
I keep calling it a "he" though realistically it's probably a female since it's so dark. The male birds are usually bright colors, which just seems wrong. I know that it's a protection thing for the Mom while she's on the nest and that makes perfect sense, but it still seems a little backward.

Monday, July 21, 2014

not a lot of patience here

Sunday morning we stopped on our way to the drugstore for some Benadryl, as every home remedy and pharmacists suggestions were not curbing the swelling or pain from the wasp sting. (For those of you on Facebook, I did NOT use the chewing tobacco suggestion). And I figured day three of swelling and redness and itching and hurting was enough. Time to pull out the big guns. By the time church had ended Sunday morning, I was getting very drowsy, but the swelling was 90% gone and the redness was reduced to a spot about the size of a dollar bill. I've been pumping it every 4-6 hours, and am noticing a steady improvement. But there's not a lot of patience on my part. I want this red itchy spot gone like YESTERDAY.

We were laughing about the irony of the fact I cleaned out the medicine cabinet two weeks ago. Everything out of date was tossed. And I tossed almost a whole package of Benadryl that I bought about 4 years ago when one of the boys cutting grass got stung (and like me, he has "mild" reactions to them) and it's not been used since. It's probably been 8 years since the last time I was stung (and that one was by a wasp, not a yellow jacket), and I will be perfectly okay if I never, ever get stung again.

As for home remedies, I will say this. Everyone has a different body chemistry, and what works for one person might not work for another person. I will say the cream with ammonia in it did the best for stopping the itch, though the smell about makes me sick. It's even worse than boiling the vinegar mixture for canning pickles. UGH!

Today I'm rejoicing that there's no swelling, at all, and I only have a red oval about the size of four quarters, and even that is breaking up into small bumps. :) Progress. (Even though I must admit I was disappointed to wake up and see it still there.)

Happy Monday.

Friday, July 18, 2014

several posts in one

Anyone else having issues with google blogger? Due to some computer issues, we switched from Internet Explorer to Google Chrome for internet connection, and ever since, I've not been able to post. I can read my blog and see the blog feed for other blogs I read, but once I click on Post, all I get is a blank page. So tonight I have a little extra time, and decided to try Internet Explorer again...and it works. Go figure.  So here's a brief week in review:

Tuesday - up at 3:30 am and so we can both be ready and have breakfast before Election Day begins. What should have been a simple and easy day (low turnout, as is the case with most local elections), turned out to be eternally long as people got careless, didn't follow their checklists, and resulted in a drive to downtown Raleigh when I should have been at home. We eat supper at home at 10:35pm. And thanks to the disability lifestyle we live, we weren't in the bed until midnight. I jokingly said we should stay up three more hours just so we could say we'd been up a full 24 hours.

Wednesday - laundry and housework day...and I'm still not caught up!

Thursday - yardwork. While weed-eating, I got stung by a yellow jacket. I have mild allergic reactions to wasp and yellow jacket stings. And this is what a "mild" allergic reaction looks like:
According to, my whole leg could swell and it would still be classified as a "mild" reaction.  And yes, I do know all the warning signs for a serious reaction, and know to advance to the nearest urgent care/dr's office/call 911 (whatever can happen within 10 minutes) without passing go or collecting $200 should any of those signs appear.

And en route home from Target Pharmacy (to get Benadryl cream and talk to the pharmacist for verification purposes), we had to check out the progress of South Garner High:

one of the views from Hebron Church Rd.

New Bethel Church Rd.

and you can now see the houses on Hebron Church Rd from New Bethel Church Rd.

And yes, I'm aware the pictures are blurry...I didn't ask my driver to slow down. I'm sure he would have obliged had I asked (whether grudgingly or gratefully I don't know), but seeing as he's assumed the responsibility of letting the chickens out in the mornings and locking them up in the evenings without me asking him to and it was getting towards that time to get them in, I decided it would be inconsiderate of me to ask. :)

Friday -  Quilts of Valor Day at Bernina World of Sewing. I wasn't quite feeling up to par today, so I was late getting there and stayed late (for some reason I was thinking it ended at 3 and I stayed until 2, only to get home and discover I had 1pm on the calendar...oops!), and after resting a bit I tackled some housework and errands (with supper at our spot...El Dorado) and am trying to get a few things lined up for tomorrow....the Raleigh Coin show, and maybe the Antique Show as well...maybe.

And that wraps up this crazy but productive week.

Monday, July 14, 2014

spin doctors

We joke a lot about spin doctors in relation to politics and journalism, and how anyone can spin a story to make it sound totally different. Dan Quayle complains about the practice quite a bit in his book Standing Firm.

I've been thinking about that a lot the last few days. Mainly because Tuesday is election day here, meaning I go on call in about an hour and will have the "calm before the storm" (which is ironic given the thunderstorms out there) tonight.  Several years ago I had two opportunities to work in early voting (a special feature NC has that I love). Both places had what we call observers (where people representing a party or candidate come in and "observe" the process to make sure it is fair and honest).  The difference was in how the leadership perceived them.  At one site, our supervisor's response was "It doesn't matter whether we have observers or not. We're still going to be following the manual and our checklists and doing the best job possible. But having said that, you do need to read you manual on these pages about dealing with observers."  And at the other site, the supervisor had an attitude along this line: "I hate to tell you this, but we have observers trying to catch us doing something wrong. So be on your top behavior and don't let their mind games get to you. I hate it, but we'll just make the best of it."  Do I need to tell you which polling place was the better one to work in?

I've tried to emulate that positive and efficient site leader. I want to be the positive person tonight and tomorrow.  I don't want them groaning when they see me pull up and come in for inspection. Some will; some resent my presence. But I want them to know I see this as a team effort. I'm there to help them and if there are any problems, to effectively correct them. And I'm not very good with confrontation. It's not first nature to me.

But my goal and my prayer for tonight and tomorrow is that I will be firm, yet kind. That my brain will be free from "brain fog" when asked questions and that I can clearly articulate answers. That at the end of the day they will view this process as thorough and just to everyone...that we've put our best forward, regardless of whether anyone was watching or not.

And even though I can't/won't say this, when it's all over, I really do believe someone is watching and recording what we do and say, even if we call him God instead of "political party observer".

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

hurtful thoughts

Four summers in a row we upended our lives and brought three foster kids from a Belarussian orphanage to live with us. It was hard. It was fun. It was heartbreaking. It was fulfilling. It was exhausting.

As we've joined countless other Americans watching footage of all the illegal immigrant children now in our country who have overwhelmed the processing centers and the border offices, I once again checked into being a foster parent, wanting to specifically request some of these kids. Mikalai's words still ring in my ears: You have a big house with no kids. We're kids with no family. Why can't we stay here?

And I want it to be that simple.  I wish there was no such thing as red tape and regulations and home studies and fire inspections and laws...just simple supply and demand. It makes me angry that any Susy Q can become a Mom, but for me to adopt or foster I must attend parenting classes, have every inch of my home and personal life invaded, submit to a physical and countless interviews, fill out reams of paperwork, have a background check and a fire chief come inspect my home, and in North Carolina for fostering we'd have to include little fire escape route exit charts for each bedroom (you know, toddlers and primary age children really read those), and then I can only put only child in a bedroom. It doesn't matter that Henrietta has five children and lives in a two bedroom house and that we've requested a sibling group, we're still only allowed one child per bedroom. 

So kids will continue sleeping on floors and in cars, and our bedrooms will remain empty because someone deemed themselves authority they do not deserve and mandated ridiculous requirements. (And yes, I know there is a reason for those requirements and deep down I somewhat understand, but it's still overkill.)

And as I listen to all my conservative friends who are supposed to show mercy and compassion to the downtrodden and remember "how this country was founded", I'm reminded of how this nation was formed of immigrants and unwanted, so much so that we mounted this poem at the entry port to welcome people:
New Colossus  by Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

And now this country that was once a "light set on a hill" says no to women and children who are sick with TB and scabies, who come from countries torn apart by drug wars and risk dying just to get here to this land of promise, and we with our huges houses that has empty beds and bedrooms and pantries loaded with food say "We can't afford you. Go back."

When President Nixon criticized Chinese leaders for not allowing people to leave their country, their response was, "If we open the doors for anyone to leave, will you open your doors to let the flood come in?"  And according to my Chinese students, that was the end of the conversation.

I do think rules should be followed. But there should also be a humanitarian factor in place, as well as some common sense that exists (unlike some of our foster parenting rules).

We reap what we sow, and if you sow your seed correctly, the harvest is always greater than the planting.

Mikalai's words still ring in our empty house: You have a big house with no kids. We're kids with no family. Why can't we stay here?

Monday, July 7, 2014

and so it began...

Last week the construction, well, the clearing of the land, for the future site of South Garner High School began. This is directly across the street from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, and is about one mile from us. After years of talk and rumors and town hall meetings and letters, and about two months behind schedule, the property is finally being cleared.
Here's the sights from last Monday, about 2 days into work on the property:

It's unreal. Bobby says in all his life, he's never seen this stretch without trees all the way to the road. Hopefully I can post pics this week as well. You'll be amazed at the change in just one week.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Quilts of Valor

For the last several years I've wanted to participate in a quilts of valor group (they make quilts for soldiers who have been wounded or served our country in a war), but the closest groups at the time were in Wake Forest or Fayetteville...both of which were too far to go for a day of quilting. Then last fall Bernina World of Sewing in Raleigh started a group that meets once a month. I've made it the last two months, and am really enjoying getting to know the ladies, as well as seeing the variety of quilt blocks and tops everyone is making.

At our last meeting, I finally completed the squares for my quilt top, and it's not quite turning out the way I had hoped. My fabric choices are very different from what most people do (red, white, and blue), but the print, which you can't really see here, is an Army print, and all the colors surrounding it are in that print fabric.

Here it is on the design wall in the classroom:

So far I've been able to sew the bottom two strips together. Hoping to have the entire top finished by the 18th so I can turn it in to the lady who does the quilting (QOV wants all quilts to be professionally finished...and I'm not at that level yet!).

So hopefully there'll be more pictures to come!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


About 16 years ago, I moved to North Carolina with just a truck load of belongings. My parents gave me the bedroom suit I had used as a child, I had a bookcase from college, as well as a trunk full of towels and washcloths and a set of dishes. Bobby told me he had some things if I wanted them, and he showed up with his cousins at my apartment bearing a kitchen table and chairs (from his brother), a couch and cookware (from his best friend Hank), and I had two end tables I bought for $5 from a yard sale at a nursing home that was going out of business.

The couch was one of the first things we replaced. Around our 8th year of marriage, Bobby's nephew was getting ready to move into a new house, and he mentioned to me that we should probably offer them our kitchen table and chairs, since it had belonged to his parents. They were thrilled with the offer, and we ended up purchasing a table and chairs from Craigslist.

A few weeks ago, we were blessed with the opportunity to receive the kitchen table, bench and chairs that had belonged to Bobby's aunts. I can't decide what I like best about the set...the design, the much more narrow table, or the fact that it belonged to family.

Either way, we are VERY thankful for this unexpected blessing!