Thursday, December 31, 2015

Zoom!

The musical our church did had a song for the kids to sing, and it included the word "Zoom!" in it. The kids loved it (for that, and the fact it mentioned cell phones and eating Dads...go figure). But that word describes a lot of my feelings for 2015. Where has the time gone?

It's been a good but hard year.

A lot of political debates on Facebook have often left me questioning myself as well as why I even stay on social media (because it's the easiest way to stay in touch with all my family). I've been unfriended by a few people, and found that overall I was actually okay with that. While I hope to improve in how I express myself (that I'll speak with more clarity and kindness), I can't be untrue to who I am and what I believe. And I've been sadly disappointed to discover that arrogant disdain is found on postings by Christians as often as it is posted by those who aren't.

My husband and Dad both had some serious health issues. Bobby was in the hospital for heart/paralysis related issues that are mostly resolved; Dad had two stents placed a few weeks ago. Meanwhile our nine year old church lost two of its faithful members this year, one unexpectedly, and three more have been diagnosed with various forms of cancer in the last three months. All of this is normal with life, but it makes me realize how long we were blessed as a congregation to go without such heartache for so many years.

And this is probably the first year I've not blogged about so much that is on my heart. There has been so much clamoring on current events this year that it seemed anything I had to say was just one more bit of noise clanging to be heard. And quite frankly, I heard more than enough. The positive of all this negativity and opining is that I've truly been thinking and searching for answers and clarity on the problems and what my role in them should be. I know the popular thing is for everyone to post their goals and objectives for the new year either today or tomorrow, but for us that won't be happening until later in the month. Meanwhile, I'm still researching and thinking and praying for direction. There are so many needs everywhere that it's not always easy deciding how much and where to devote time and energy.

So tomorrow it begins...learning to write 2016 on bills and checks. I hope it won't be as hard to adjust as it was this year, and that time won't seem to fly by as fast. But I do know this....I'm not sorry to see 2015 go.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas gifts

Last year I decided I would make quilts for my family as Christmas presents. Needless to say, they weren't finished. I was bound and determined they were going to be completed this year. I came close - finishing all but two.  Here's some brief snapshots of the 26th (the day we could all be together). 
Mom was amazed by the cow print on the backing.

Checking out what was in every jar. I think they were pleased and surprised.

My nephew's quilt ( middle, standing). 

My brother and sister-in-law opening their quilt.
This is a distant shot of their quilt. Earlier this year they gave me a box of quilting supplies that had belonged to Amie's grandmother. In the bottom were some hand-quilted panels she had left over from quilts she had made. So I added plain blocks and a few other appliqued blocks to go with them and make them into a quilt. I felt bad for making her cry and taking her by surprise, but I knew that was something I would want.
My brother-in-law, who is camera and crowd shy, is an avid Monopoly fan.
Carly's quilt. Hers was probably started about five years ago.
It was started long enough ago that I was afraid the heart and star backing I had chosen would no longer be suitable (she's now in middle school) so I added an owl panel to the middle of the back.
While cleaning up my sewing room this summer, I found two star hexagons my grandmother had hand quilted. When my first quilt plan fell for my older sister fell apart, this became their backup.

The back of the quilt.
And the front of the quilt.

This will probably never happen again. And that's okay. I managed a surprise, and hopefully gave something they'll love and use, even if it is "a blanket" as my 14 yr old nephew calls them. :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I'll miss this view

We have a small window in our bathroom that overlooks the field beside us. The first five years this was a mowed field that had a small barn and for a while, horses. Eight years ago this section of the farm was sold to the county for an elementary and middle school. While we've not enjoyed the coyote, snakes and mice that come with an overgrown field, I have enjoyed watching the rabbits and deer and the small trees. This year the trees were big enough to change colors. We had a very late fall here, and the trees didn't change colors until first-mid December. I don't think these pictures do it justice. I'll miss this view next fall.



Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas lights

In the last few days we've driven by at least two houses that had trees or wreaths decorated with either blue or blue & green lights. I thought it was very pretty. I would have never considered blue a Christmas color, but blue is one of my favorite colors and I'm finding I like blue & white or blue & silver decorations when I see them.

Growing up, we always had the huge, multi-colored blinking lights. I remember the first time I saw a tree decorated with all white lights (and bows, and candy canes...nothing else). My Aunt Grancis had decorated the tree for my Grandma White, and I thought it was absolutely beautiful. A few years after that I began to see more and more stores carrying strands of just red lights, or white lights, or green lights. When we were in high school, the old faithful lights we had had all my life died. My younger sister volunteered to pick up lights after school the next day. We did go and purchase the lights, and we got ...all white, non-blinking AND put them on the tree before Dad got home. He was NOT happy. Who ever heard of boring ol' white lights at Christmas, especially ones that DIDN'T blink!?! My grouchy old bear muttered the rest of the week about the lights on our tree, but every time my sister and I walked by, we'd look at it and smile. We thought it was fabulous. And as an adult, I have white lights on all my trees. Although, I did consider getting red lights for my Alabama tree (it's a small white tree), but I ended up going with white. :)  I imagine when I go home the lights on the tree will be colored and blinking and it will make me feel like I'm at my childhood home. But there's just something majestic and beautiful about white lights in a dark room. I think I'll keep mine the plain but elegant white. Unless Bobby requests colored lights, and then, well, he might just have to get his own tree, haha!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Annette Carroll

Today we attended the funeral of one of the kindest people I've ever known. She had no problem telling you how she felt about something, but she was always gracious when she did. And if she later thought she was wrong, she apologized. My heart hurts for her children, who have now lost both parents, and even more for her grandchildren, who she loved dearly.

And I found the words to the song sang at her funeral so very fitting, and so descriptive of her:

Unfailing Love by Bethany Live and Jonathan Stockstill

I see You hanging there, I see Your nail pierced hands
For me, You paid the price for me
I see Your wounded side, I hear Your lonely cries
For me, You paid the price for me

It was unfailing love
Grace by Your blood
Come and pour over me 'til all I see
Is Your unfailing love

I see the crown of thorns, I hear them laugh and scorn
For me, You paid the price for me
I see Your Father's eyes turn from His bleeding Son
For me, You paid the price for me.


As one of the church members said, "She is someone who will be missed. Greatly." I'm so thankful her suffering is over, but her absence will truly be felt for a very long time. I couldn't help but reflect how no matter what people reminisced about, her love for her kids, her keeping the nursery during choir practice, and running the nursery for many years at church, teaching Sunday school, whatever they mentioned, they always returned to her joy or her kindness.

And that's my personal prayer for me tonight: that I will have keep my focus on the cross of Christ so much that my life will radically change, and people will continuously mention the characteristics of Christ instead of me when I'm gone. I honestly can't think of a better testimony.

Monday, December 14, 2015

I can't believe I didn't go!

Every year Wake County Public Libraries has a used book sale. Some of the books are culled from library shelves (meaning they haven't been checked out in a long time); the vast majority are donated. Over the last ten years the sale has grown and grown and grown to the point it's now held at one of the buildings at the State Fairgrounds.

Between buying books for each other for Christmas and birthdays and the annual library sale, we've also purchased some books on vacations (museum bookshops have the best historical selections). And after seventeen years of that, our shelves are very close to capacity. They're so close, that books, like fabric, are on a "no purchase" list in our house (which means I buy 2-3 a year instead of an armload ;).

Thankfully we had too much going on this weekend, or the temptation to head over to the sale would have been WAY too tempting. My goal for 2016 is very similar to this year's. Read what I have. If it's not something I wouldn't share with someone or read or reference again, get rid of it. And while most of my reading list this year has been non-fiction, next year I think I'll add a little fiction to the reading pile. I probably won't have all the books cleaned off my dresser by the end of 2016 either, but hopefully it will be a much smaller stack.

I don't know if I'll be able to go to the book sale in 2016 or not. We may have to wait a few more years before making that a habit again. And I don't feel so bad for putting a few book titles on my Christmas wish list...he did it, too!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

presentation day

This afternoon I joined another lady from a local Quilts of Valor group to award a quilt to a veteran. This never gets old for me. Sometimes the task seem daunting (North Carolina currently has a waiting list of over 300 vets who've been nominated for quilts). Even with all of our group pooling our efforts each month and churning out a minimum of a quilt a month, we've still barely scratched the surface. And yet, when I go to a presentation and see the pride and humility of these vets, their joy, the tears, and their gratitude, a quilt seems like such a small thing. Our nation has many flaws, but the sacrificial attitude of most of our vets is certainly not listed among them.

So from this quilter to all the other QOVers out there...piece on!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

consensus building...or not

Last night Bobby attended Garner's Town Council meeting. One of the items on the agenda was the building permit for Bryan Rd Elementary School.  NC DOT at this point is refusing to pave the road; Wake County BOE will pave the part in front of them (because they want to straighten out a curve) but not the rest of the road. Garner TC does not want to grant a building permit unless the road is paved, saying that their town should not have a brand new school on a dirt road. The matter was postponed until this next Tuesday, hopefully giving DOT and the county time to reach a consensus.

Personally, other than the dirt created by all the construction vehicles moving on a dirt road, I think the state would cave and pave the road within a few months of the school opening. The monthly scraping and quarterly deposit of gravel on the road would not be sufficient to sustain the level of traffic they are talking about. And as slick as a dirt road is after heavy rains, it would only take a few school buses and a few minivans rushing in and sliding off the road for something to be done. There's actually a school bus that comes down this road now, and it does not go slow. I can only imagine how fast they'll actually go once the road is paved. Between parents complaining and the increase in traffic creating more frequent trips for road scraping, I think the cost in maintaining this road will become so high that they'll have to pave it. But that won't satisfy the pride of the town, and so the bickering continues.

Here's the layout of the proposed site
See that road at the bottom (the "parent entrance")?  Our driveway will be about 10' from that. If the permit is approved next week, our life is going to start radically changing in a few months.


Monday, December 7, 2015

transitions

Recently I read an article about the transitions in food over the years, and how it could be seen through cookbooks. They were able to pinpoint when people started using processed foods and microwaves within a  few years by the number of casseroles. I couldn't help but think if we looked at group cookbooks now,  they'd probably have a lot of crockpot soups and freezer meals. I certainly don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I just found it quite interesting. And this morning as I was thinking through my favorite Christmas goodies over the years, I was a little surprised to realize it follows the trend as well.

Growing up, making Russian TeaCake Cookies was one of my favorite Christmas baking events. They're really not Russian, and ours were always more cake-like (in hindsight, I'm wondering if Mom simply wanted the process to end and intentionally rolled the dough out thicker than required, of if she just really liked them fat and cakey). I loved eating the dough (a big no-no today that I think is a bunch of nonsense), loved using cookie cutters, but I really wasn't all that crazy about the finished product...unless we were allowed to put icing on them. And then they were incredibly good. We also had homemade apple pies (many people call them flapjacks) that were folded in half.  Perfect for a child's hand, but still so big that Mom made us split them. We had instant oatmeal chocolate cookies, "No Bakes" my Granny Rea called them, and Hawaiian Pie on Christmas day (all kinds of fruit with pudding and cool whip and sweetened condensed milk on a graham cracker crust) and fudge.

And then my middle school years rolled around. Mom was working and wrestling with the beginning symptoms of her lupus and arthritis (neither of which received a diagnosis until 20+ years later). Goodies became brownies (from mixes, not the homemade kind we used to make), Ritz cracker peanut butter sandwiches dipped in chocolate, chocolate dipped pretzels, chocolate chip cookies, and fudge.

High school was much of the same as middle school, except we girls started experimenting, and peanut butter balls, sausage balls, and Martha Washington candy got added to the mix.

I don't fix a whole lot of Christmas goodies anymore. It's just the two of us, and I think that's one of the things I miss about having my family with me for the holidays. Granted, even if I lived nearby, they'd be doing things with their families so it still wouldn't be the same. I try to make some of our favorites when we have a party or have someone over so we have plenty to share and still have a little bit here at home. And one of my goals while I'm home at Christmas is to master the art of mini apple pies. A friend of mine posted a video on Facebook that made it look so much easier than how my Mom always did it, and I am so tempted to try it. If it works, I'll be sharing and I might be starting a new trend!


Thursday, December 3, 2015

they come in batches

It seems once or twice a year there will suddenly be all these trailers for movies that I want to see. And this last month has been no exception. At this point we'll probably wait for most of them to come out on DVD or Redbox (which we've still never used).  But here's my list:

Mockingjay2: I must say I enjoyed the books so much better than the previous movies. Maybe because my mind can somewhat not envision the violence while reading. That's not an option in a movie. But I do want to see the ending of this series. I've come this far, might as well finish the race.

33: I grew up in a coal mining community. I remember the strikes, the layoffs, the fear in people's eyes. I remember the stories, overhearing people talking to my father, their pastor, about their fears and nightmares, but feeling there was no other way to support their families. I remember when this event happened, and praying. It's every coal mining community's worst fear.

Bridge of Spies: I had never heard of this story, but Bobby remembers reading about it in school. Like the movie listed above, this is supposed to be based on a true story.

The Letters:  A few years after Mother Theresa died, there was an outcry when her personal letters were released, revealing a woman who often questioned her faith and her actions. This movie is supposed to be based on her life story and her letters.

So in the insanity of the Christmas rush, I may call it quits for an afternoon or evening and actually do something that doesn't require me to think or do. That would be a blessing indeed.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

new to me

Things get lost in translation, no matter how wonderful or educated the translators may be. There's just some things that don't translate culturally.

For example, the Christmas story in Luke 2. Growing up, I always assumed Christ was born in a barn/stable. I don't know that I was taught that, but it's what Christmas cards and flannelgraph from Sunday School taught. (Yes, I know I just dated myself with that last sentence. Church kids today have NO idea what flannelgraph is.) When I was in college, I was surprised to hear a chapel speaker talk about the manger, and that in Israel animals were kept in one of two places: in a lean-to under or behind the house or in a cave. That was mind-boggling to me. It made perfect sense, but it was just so out of sync with everything I had ever thought.

A few days ago we received a newsletter that included an article from Jimmy De Young, (an prophecy teacher who lives in Israel and speaks a lot in America). I had to read it several times for it to make sense, and even then had to show  it to Bobby to make sure I was totally grasping what he was saying. I can sometimes be a little slow that way. :) You can find the article here. I'm not big on prophecy stuff, but this made sense to me. I've often wondered what kind of sign it was for a baby to be wrapped in a feed trough. I can't imagine it was all that common, although it would make it an easier identification of the baby. But signs usually mean something. I don't know of the accuracy of De Young's information, but it makes perfect sense and also helps one understand how God was proclaiming his Messiah from the very beginning.

So I'm rejoicing and pondering this information as I celebrate this month: our Messiah has come.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December 1

Today is/was my father-in-law's birthday. Some days it seems like he's been gone forever. Other days it seems like yesterday.

But today has been interesting for other reasons as well. We have a new puppy. I woke up to find a rope and a fan belt on the back porch. No idea where either came from. Both dogs also got outside the fence line and began chewing the landscape fabric off of my garden pallet. What is it with dogs and landscape fabric? If it wasn't supposed to be raining tomorrow, underground fence line flags would be going up and training would be commencing immediately.

And we had the big heron and three wild ducks at the pond this morning. As well as eight deer running through the field across the pond. The small trees in the field have finally started turning colors. When the sun shown before the mist and clouds totally covered everything this morning, it was absolutely beautiful. I snapped a few pictures. Come this time next year, that view from my bedroom window will be the progression of a three story elementary school.

Last year I had this brainstorm to make something for my family for Christmas. I ran out of time and didn't get it done, so thought I'd complete it for this year. I now have 22 days left, and I'm still not finished. Up until now, I've said "Life still goes on" so I've tried not to let these projects consume everything, but I think it's now to the point I've got to say "No" to any extra activities if this is going to happen. I've so badly wanted to post pics as things progress, but as soon as I do, someone in my family will decide to check my blog.

Meanwhile, the last of my Christmas decorations went up today, and hopefully tomorrow I can organize boxes and containers and reclaim the room that looks like a box explosion.

My younger sister is moving, and I'm not there to help. It stinks.

Meanwhile, I'm reading "Plague of the Frogs" about the abnormalities that happened in Minnesota in the 90's. I'm to the point where EPA is getting involved, and the perspectives on that are interesting. Growing up in a coal mining community and having friends and family members who work for power companies, I don't think I ever heard EPA mentioned in a positive tone. But my thoughts on that subject will have to be a post for another day.

There's been a lot whirling through this crazy brain of mine while I've been tackling projects. Some of it I may eventually get around to writing down.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Go Set a Watchman

There's a lot about Alabama I love. There's a lot about Alabama I hate. I think that can be said for any hometown/state. And I think that's one of the reasons why Harper Lee's book To Kill a Mockingbird was so popular. It covered the best and worst of a society, in its historical context, with all its horrors and all its good. It's also why I hesitated to read Lee's latest published work.

If what I have read is true, Go Set a Watchman was her original work. It was also rejected by the editor with a suggestion that she rewrite it from Scout's point of view as a child. The manuscript of Scout as an adult confronting a myriad of thoughts, emotions, people, and societal views was supposedly left untouched with her important papers. I bought the book, but hesitated to read it for some time. This past week, I finally read it, and was both saddened and surprised. Saddened, because racism and the ugly part of my home state is never a pretty thing to read. Surprised, because it addressed things head-on in historical context without any political correctness. New York's racism is brought up, women's place in society, Scout's issues and struggles with the church, the NAACP, states' rights, reverse racism, and even freedom of speech. It's all there.

It's been many years since I've read her first published work. As an adult, I prefer the second book, her first writing, much better. For a classroom assignment, I'm not sure if I'd go with Mockingbird or assign them both as a comparison/contrast in viewpoint and ways of presenting the same matter in different ways.

But grown-up Scout is right in many ways - once you leave home, nothing is ever the same.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

pictures and privacy

I have many friends who are extremely cautious about posting pictures of their children anywhere on the internet. Whether it be Facebook, their blog, twitter, or instagram, they either won't post pictures at all, or make sure to obscure their faces. I do my best to respect those wishes. It's their children; their responsibilities and viewpoints. Since my family is scattered across many states, and social media is one of many ways we communicate, that's not our policies. But I've thought about this a lot more lately as blogger has posted notices about Europe's stricter privacy policies, especially with pictures. A college friend who lives in Spain commented once that they can't use certain pictures in letters because of privacy laws. I find it a little funny and strange (and sad) that Europe is viewing individual privacy as more important than America does. I thought our nation was supposed to be the one that was more individualistic, but turns out, we're not.

There are many times I wonder how wise it is to post so much on social media. But I view this blog as a way of sharing my thoughts with family and friends, as well as a means of keeping a record of my life - a new way of journaling. And when my parents were here a few weeks ago, I hesitated to post pictures of their trip on social media, but knew my siblings and relatives would want to see them. What easier way for us to have a group conversation and banter with each other than Facebook? It's not the same as being together, but it's a decent second to that.

I'm trying to be more careful and cautious with what I post, but not at the expense of sharing things with my family. It's a delicate balance, and for now I'm leaning more toward the side of communication.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

plodding onward

Life doesn't stop. Not for company, not for illness, not for projects, not for anything. It just keeps going and going and...yeah.

So a brief update on what's happened/happening:

Since my last update, Bobby blacked out one morning, spent 2 days in the hospital, and we are currently trying meds to see what can help raise his low blood pressure (low for even a quadraplegic, which is REALLY low) and irregular heartbeat.

Quilts of valor...but that deserves it's own post with venting and bragging.

A parental visit...which included all kinds of fun things...that's like 4 posts worth of stuff

house cleaning - it's happening

Squirrel issues - they don't share the way I think they should

Chicken updates: 10 biddies nearly fully feathered and 2 teens have started laying

Books: I clearly have different thoughts and tastes than most; my pile is oh so slowly shrinking

Christmas....it's coming!

More elaborate posts to come...hopefully this week!


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

the sun has come out!

After 12 days of drizzle/mist/rain, our area of North Carolina is finally seeing the sun! I actually made it outside today for thirty minutes of yardwork, and then my arms said "No more!" so I quit for the evening. Yes, I'm turning into a big wimp. And with tomorrow's temps rising higher, I'm hoping the sun and air will dry out the ground even more, and I can cut the grass and weedeat. And MAYBE I'll finish trimming the shrubs. But realistically, I think that will wait until Friday. :) Or perhaps I'll do two more shrubs tomorrow and then finish them on Thursday. No point in over-doing it, you know.

Meanwhile, my parents are coming next week. A small part of me says I need to be inside cleaning like mad. Another small part of me shrugs and says "Why? Your Mom is going to clean most of the time she's here anyway!" I think it goes without saying that I did not inherit Mom's "every item must have a place and that place isn't in a pile" mentality.

And if there's any doubt that it's fall and October, the spiders are out. They're starting to take over the back porch again. If I don't get out there with a broom soon, all the hard work a teenager did power-washing our house this summer will not be anywhere near as noticeable. And that would be sad indeed.


Monday, October 5, 2015

decisions

Saturday should have been supply pick-up day, and this afternoon/evening I would have been in Cary helping precincts set up for tomorrow's election. But for the first time in 11 years, I cancelled. Yes, I was one of those people I begged people in training NOT to be. But Saturday was the second day in a row of very rough mornings at our house (bad enough I called the cardiologist), so I was very thankful I had made the decision the day before not to work this week.

And today? It's been great. Yesterday there was one very small episode, and today, as far as I know, there's been none. So I'm hoping Bobby's new meds are working and that this will be one of those things we can manage. And if all goes well, I'll be making my rounds again on election day in November.

Meanwhile, I've started researching presidential candidates. I said I wasn't going to do this before January, but figured I might as well begin the process of reading their books and slowly looking through their websites and twitter accounts. I'm really disappointed Walker dropped out of the race. He was one of the top 5 candidates I had planned to research. (And for the record, I'll read up on almost all of them, but there's some that have already piqued more interest than others. And NO, Trump is NOT one of them!)

But that's not on my checklist for today. Maybe I'll have time to read more tonight, but I'm bound and determined that my to do list will finally be all crossed out before the evening ends (instead of being re-written to include things from the previous 2 weeks!).

Anyone else still in shock that it's October?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

a new chapter

Since the end of May, Bobby has struggled with bouts of light-headedness in the morning. It's not uncommon for people who are paralyzed to have a drop in their already low blood pressure when they go from laying down to their wheelchair, so we weren't too overly concerned about it. Usually it got better within an hour of being in his chair, and the rest of the day would be okay. June must not have been a problem for I have no blood pressure readings from that month. But in July, things started getting crazy. We began getting Error messages on the blood pressure monitor, and we had one or two days where he just felt bad all day long. And there was no rhyme nor reason to which mornings or days this would happen. Just when we thought we found the pattern, it changed.

This past Tuesday, he passed out.  We spent 2 days at the hospital, learning that his heart is in very good shape, but he has a condition called atrial flutter. It's a very common heart arrhythmia, and can be treated by both medication and ablation. At this point, we are trying medication, and are to follow up with the cardiologist in a month. The first day home, he felt and acted the best he has in a long time. The next day was rough. This morning, I called the cardiologist. It looks like very slow mornings may be our new norm for a while (as in it takes 45 minutes to put a shirt on because of the almost fainting).

Everything I read says this is not life-threatening by itself, but if left untreated it can cause very serious complications. I feel helpless. There is nothing I can do to change this. We can and are modifying a few things that his cardiologist suggested, but overall, there's really nothing I can do. It's one of those faith, fact, and emotion battles. I want answers and concrete plans for the future. Faith says God's got it so I should chill. Facts say if there's a problem for an old person to have, this is one of the better ones. We've made it through every other hurdle thrown our way, and we will this one as well. But the inner me just wants this all to go away.

Monday, September 21, 2015

take a breath... a deep one....

Just got home from teaching my last training class for the upcoming election. It seems that half the classes will have at least one person that is either a) in disagreement with at least one policy and is excessively vocal about it, b) wants to throw out incredulous scenarios that have less than .001% chance of happening, or c) thinks they know everything so therefore don't need training but yet, are getting 50% of the exercises wrong.

Today was a great class until the very end when we encountered scenario "a".  Don't like a policy? I understand that. But we're not going to like everything that happens on election day either, but rules are rules. Ranting about how the board of elections should be changed, blah, blah, blah is not appropriate. If you want to change a rule, go through the process and get it changed. But to bad mouth your boss and hope to have him fired is not a good mindset nor a good appearance to project to your coworkers and the public. I'm still a bit riled up inside, and I've now been at home for almost half an hour.

This is one of the things that makes me appreciate the Board of Elections staff more and more. I only deal with this a few times a year. They deal with this day in and day out. It's their job. And yet, they are always kind, always helpful. Granted, they have their moments, too, but overall they are extremely helpful and considerate. I would like to think that if I had their job, I would behave in the same manner. But in all honesty, I'm not so sure. Kindness and long-suffering toward others are certainly areas where my character needs to grow. This sounds ugly, but I'm thankful that person is not in one of the precincts I have to supervise in the next two months.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

ideas

Every week, I'll have one day where as I'm in the middle of something (like making jelly, cleaning the bathroom, etc) and I'll  have several "that'll make an awesome blog post" moments. But since I'm in the middle of something, I don't write them down. When I finally do sit down at the computer and open up my blank page, I can't exactly remember what it was.  Yeah. That old age thing.

So here's a few topics that I've thought about the last few weeks, but don't want to write about.

Immigration - a college friend's Mom is going for yet another interview in an attempt to get an American visa. She's only been waiting for 20+ years.

Organ donation - my cousin's husband and a former co-worker, both my age, are now on kidney dialysis and both are on the transplant list. Makes me miss Mary all the more.

The View and Nursing - never watched the show and have no desire to do so. Not surprised or upset they dissed nursing. Shock and disturb...isn't that the whole point of talk television and radio?

The Refugee Crisis - absolutely horrified by the attitudes of many Americans

The Presidential Election - it's not even 2016 yet!!!

Adoption - the ups, the downs, the heartaches, the misinformation, the good, the bad, the cost, the process

And my non-serious matters or things I feel I can rationally write about? You'll get those topics in the coming days. :)





Tuesday, September 15, 2015

dated

Last week my oldest niece helped plan an college activity. They did a 1980's throwback party. Seriously. So while I'm digesting the fact that college kids today see my tween and teenage years as historic, a friend from high school posted this on Facebook (and I've edited to cover their names):

Conversation on the way to school this morning as we passed the Bankhead House.
Child - "mom, did you see that house right there, the big one?"
 Parent - "I do"
Child - " It has clothes in it from the 80's!"
Parent - "the 80's"
Child - "Yes! And from a battle!"

I guess the 80's for her would be like the 50's for me growing up. 
Talk about starting the morning off feeling old! 


So if I had any doubts about the matter, I am officially old and historic!  And to make matters crazier, I'm wondering if items from "a battle" would be items from WWII, Vietnam, or the first Gulf War, which my generation fought in. Kind of crazy to realize such a defining time in my life is not the "latest" war.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

the plate method

People always talk about eating healthy. I find that I will do okay with eating healthy for a few weeks, maybe a month, and then I'm done. It's not always a conscious "enough of this", but more of a "I just want one meal/one day/one weekend off." And once off that wagon, I never totally get back on.  Last month I was looking at various websites and trying to get some comprehensive understanding of the different views of "healthy eating" (and believe me, there are a LOT of VERY different ideas out there), when I found this on the American Diabetic Association's website:



This was the simplest method for managing sugar levels I have ever seen. They have a video to go along with it, as well as a print-out for foods that fit into the vegetable category (which includes many fruits), and foods that fit into the starch category (many southern peas, slaws, etc).

So we've been doing this for almost a month now. The craziness of the last week and a half has meant we've eaten out more than we planned, but we are both still trying to be cautious. Okay, my better half is being cautious. I'm at least considering what I order and it's health ratio before I order something now. :)

But I like this method because of it's simplicity. I can cook what I have on hand (yes, our hobby farming and purchasing means we don't buy a whole lot at the grocery store) and still know that we're being "healthy".  I've found I'm filling up faster, and I'm not as hungry between meals. My Dad's dr had suggested to him protein snacks between meals or when hungry, such as a quarter-size portion of peanuts or one half of a graham cracker with peanut butter on it.

So the biggest issues I have with dietary changes have so far been eliminated. Now if I can keep focused and make time to keep this up the next two months, then hopefully the next round of lab work will be much better. And who knows? Maybe by that time it will be a well-grounded habit for me.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

brick walls

The last few years, I've been using some of my sporadic free time to research family history. And in some areas, I'm stuck. I have quite a few records from aunts and uncles that I've been entering into ancestry.com. Sometimes their records match census records; sometimes they don't. One of the craziest things I've encountered with one side of the family is that the family names, births, marriages, and deaths recorded in the family Bible have no link to anyone in our family tree that I can find. It's driving me crazy. I have a small family tree mapped out, but no clue as to how it relates to my family.  Or I have names and dates, but they don't match anything in the census record. Or you simply can't find anyone at all. It's quite frustrating. Before the internet searches became so huge, a library in Raleigh offered classes once or twice a year on how to start researching your family, but I've not seen that advertised in a very long time.

And the reality is, while I'm very curious and would love to prove/disprove a few family legends, the reality is, it doesn't change anything at all. Regardless of who my ancestors were or where they are (or are not) from, I still have to clean house and fulfill obligations, show up to appointments. Life does not stop just because of what happened in the past, and the reality of what Jesus changed in my life does not evaporate because I do/do not have a certain heritage.

So I'll keep searching and pouring over beautiful but hard to read handwriting in search of certain names and dates. Hopefully I won't aggravate any more family members in the process with some of my discoveries (or lack thereof). And maybe when it's all over, I won't feel so much like the people who sit back in shock upon learning history is not quite what they anticipated.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

mental photographs

For years I took lots of pictures. Many of them are still waiting to be sorted into albums. I still take a lot of pictures, but now they're stored on the computer. At first I thought that was horrible, but I actually see many of those more than I do the printed forms. They're much easier to find, and it doesn't involve dragging out or putting up boxes when I need to look for one.

As I age, I'm finding I have many mental photographs that were never taken that are forever burned into memory. As we came home from a friend's memorial service today, I've thought about that quite a bit. There are many mental images that come to mind when I think of Steve Anderson, but I don't have an actual photograph for any of them.

One is a Sunday morning scene. Steve would sometimes dress up, but he usually wore khakis or blue jeans with a dress shirt and sport coat on Sunday mornings. He taught the 1st-3rd graders, and he'd be on one knee, chatting with the kids. And they loved it. My favorite memory of that oft repeated scene was when he'd chat with the Wells twins (two identical boys). Their faces would light up as he was almost always able to distinguish which was which. I never figured out how he could, but being the father of identical twins himself, he knew how important it was to the boys that they be recognized for themselves and not as a set.

Another is moving days. Despite the fact that his back and knee often hurt him, I can't think of a time we needed to move someone in the church and he wasn't there with at least one of his boys, helping. He was not afraid to sweat, and didn't mind in the least if his children did either.

My other mental images don't necessarily bring a smile to my face, but bring physical hurt. There were times he'd talk to my husband when he was discouraged or concerned about a member of his family. I love the fact that he loved and cared about his family so much, but it also makes me hurt because I know their biggest prayer warrior, emotional cheerleader, and supporter is now gone. He left some mighty big shoes for our church to fill.

And last, but certainly not least, would be his smile while he was talking about his boys. I remember one time in particular that one of his boys in their younger years (and no, I won't say which one of the 7), acquired a credit card from the house and figured out how to bid on e-bay using a parent's account. He was early elementary school at the time. His parents were quite startled to receive the e-mail that they had won the bid for the old coin, and he was quite excited when questioned about it. Steve was both horrified that a child that young had figured out how to make it all work, but also quite pleased that a child that young had figured out AND done his homework on the worth of the coin. (He was also very grateful the kid's top bid didn't go over $5.) They did change their passwords and discuss internet purchases and credit cards with him, but you could see the shock and pride in his eyes as he discussed it. And that mental image of his eyes haunts me. I so badly want the boys to see that again as they grow up, get married, graduate from high school, and live their lives. I know that God is sovereign and He will be faithful to provide for them, but that look of love and pride in the eyes is something that cannot be replaced.

I know the days and weeks and months ahead will be challenging as they experience new normals, some of them harder to deal with than others. But I'm so thankful they have memories of jokes and laughter and fun times with their Dad to give them something to smile as they grieve. And I'm thankful our brains do recall images of events, and that the memories of our loved ones live on inside us.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September already?!?

I think this may be a first...a harvest of pears, apples and grapes...all in one year! I don't think this has ever happened before. Usually we lose at least one, if not two, of those harvests. But this year...we've got all three!

September is an unusual line-up for us. The last two weeks of this month I'll be teaching a training class for the Board of Elections and gearing up for October's election, where I'll be overseeing precincts I've never visited before, as well as "mentoring" a coordinator in training. That last part scares me a little. The first election I worked as a coordinator, it was to be as a substitute, and my coordinator would be back the next election. That was 3 years ago. A year after I started, they began the mentoring program, but since I was then considered "experienced" I was never mentored. I've always wondered if I were doing things correctly, or if there was a better way to do things. Yes, I'm one of those weirdos who like to have rules and boundaries so I know what to do.

It's also time to clean up the garden mess and get everything ready for the winter. And we have about a dozen eggs set to hatch around the middle of the month, which means an extra 30 minute job every morning and evening once they hatch.

And somewhere in the midst of this is more doctor appointments and quilt time (if I'm going to finish quilts for Christmas, since I didn't do it last year).

This month is "manageable" but if we have any more major things thrown our way, then I'll have to start emptying the schedule somehow. My husband says I'm not a nice person when I'm overbooked, and I'm trying hard to be more realistic with how much/how little time I have.

On the upside...Bobby's chair is repaired and he's now back in the driver seat in the van!!! The dogs are ecstatic to have us back in our normal routine. Sunday when I wheeled him out of the house to the van, they acted like he had been gone forever. Which to them, Mr.Outdoors had been "locked up" for over a week, which would be forever. We're hoping with two new motors, this chair will last us another four-five years. I know the back will need replacing in the next two years, but for now it's holding. And hopefully by the time we have no choice but to replace this one, we'll have a better idea of what will work and won't, and all the insurance upheaval will have settled down so everyone is clear on what options, if any, there will be. To be honest, I'm glad he doesn't have to make a decision now. Imagine shopping for clothes that you would have to wear every single day for the next 8-10 years without being able to try anything on, and the cost of those clothes are equal to the price of a car. That's a fairly good description of what wheelchair shopping is like for quadriplegics. And we get to postpone that! :)

Happy September!


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

hip hip hooray!

I "finished" putting up the last of the apples today. There is 1/4 of a bucket left, but my darling husband agreed that between their small size and bad places they weren't worth peeling and cutting, and he suggested I feed them to the chickens. YES! My very conservative husband who almost never wastes anything suggested I give produce to the chickens. Brownie points for him!!! So tonight after I finish the dishes, that canner is going into the pantry to stay for quite some time. Yes, my happy dance is about to commence.

And after 2.5 hours at the Orthopedic Services, we have some answers about his wheelchair. Both motors are bad - one shot, the other just not working well enough to continue using. Good news is that parts can still be ordered. We've decided to go ahead, whether insurance pays or not. That chair can be repaired within 2-3 weeks. A new chair...that would take 8 weeks if everything moved like a well oiled machine...which it never does. We are (I should say Bobby is) researching chairs and looking at options. His chair is 11 years old. While there have been a lot of amazing improvements in the wheelchair world since his last purchase, like computers, if the new bells and whistles don't help you function in day to day life just as good, if not better, than before, they're really not worth the price.  I think the wheelchair repair guy was shocked at how much debris (grass, rocks, straw, sticks, etc) he pulled out of the casings underneath trying to get to the motor. While they were showing us new models, I asked how they did on terrain. I got this blank look from the sales girl and the repair guy looked a little stunned. "Terrain?" the asked."Yes. He spends a lot of time outside, and I want to know how stable this chair would be going up and down hills and inclines." The lady was speechless; the guy shook his head and said "I understand. Trust me. I have a pile this big (he held his hands about 12" apart) of debris from outside in my office I cleaned out while trying to analyse the electrical system."  I'm not surprised. I wouldn't be shocked if there were cracked corn (from when he helps me and feeds the chickens or geese) in there. I don't even think a spider or toy car would surprise me. Their surprise made me wonder if most of their clients are sedentary.

I don't have my garden area cleaned up yet. That will probably have to wait for Saturday or next week. Meanwhile, our incubator is up and running, thanks to fellow chicken owners sharing fertilized eggs with us. Hopefully our young birds will begin laying before the fall starts (all our old birds that were laying have met the new neighbor in the field - Mr. Coyote). Bobby said if we hatch some out now, they'll be old enough to start laying in the spring. And he's right. So another adventure begins.

And life moves on.

Monday, August 24, 2015

stillness

Sometimes there are just no words.

A girl from high school died Saturday morning. Her family says goodbye today. She leaves behind a daughter who started middle school last week.

Bobby's wheelchair broke -on the weekend when repair shops are closed. And we relearn how dependent we are on that one piece of equipment.

A young friend is back in the hospital. Her 11 year old body has seen more pain and heartache than most adults will experience in several lifetimes put together.

And there's the ongoing health stuff that we seldom talk about - ordinary people would be calling 911; the quad community shrugs or nods and says "that goes with the territory". And I'm in the middle wondering where the path is.

So sometimes I have no words. I don't know what is the best or right thing to say, what I even need to ask God for. So many times I find the words "Lord, you know" coming to my mind.

And that's enough.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

almost there

This is has been a very different summer for me. There was the usual garden stuff, yard work, a few trips, but there was some unexpected events too.

I helped downsize/empty two different households. Those types of events usually make me come home and clean and sort and purge items. But in the midst of those two events, there was an estate sale for Bobby's great-aunt Grace, who was an avid quilter. They divided her fabric into five LOTS.  Yes, lots. Not boxes. I bought two of them. And yesterday, I finally had my living room and sewing room reclaimed. :)

 The above is my sewing room. My mom would call this extremely cluttered. I call it "organized".  There are several piles that should be eliminated once I finish those projects. Speaking of which, I might have to renege from my joke with Bobby that for every one project I finish I can start three. I think I counted 22 projects that are in various stages (meaning started, not just ideas bundled with the pattern). My husband is right, in that it's time to start finishing some things. Although I truly hope to prove him wrong in that even if I live to be 102 I'll never finish everything I have planned.

And my Mom, upon hearing about the merger of some of Aunt Grace's fabric with my stash, asked if I were going to open a quilt store. Silly Mom. Don't you know to do that you need BOLTS of fabric instead of bins of small folds stuffed into a closet?
 Even I am flabbergasted at how full my closet is compared to two months ago. It's breath-taking, and not necessarily in the excitement kind of way. In my defense, all those quilt tops on hangers?  Four of those weren't my creations. I inherited those from Mary. One of them I may offer to another one of her quilting friends who will visit this fall. As those get quilted, the stash of batting (bottom left of the closet) will also disappear, clearing up quite a bit of space. and I still have two bins in the room that didn't make it into the closet.   I threw away about 6 kitchen size trash bags of fabric. Some of it was rotting; some of it had been exposed to critters. I gave away quite a bit of fabric that was good but was not quilting fabric.

While washing the fabric, I came across quite a few remnants that only quilters would save. Nowhere near enough to make a garment, but the perfect size for making quilt pieces. I'm down to one pile left. Once I finish this mound, my dining room will be reclaimed, too! :)
 And here's what one of those mounds now looks like:
I think this winter is going to (hopefully) hold a LOT of sewing days. Meanwhile, I'm just looking forward to having my house back to normal. This one mound of fabric and two buckets of apples, and then this summer season should officially be over...except for yardwork. That never ends.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

garden

AAAAnnnnd, garden season 2015 is 98% over. Above is my one and only cantaloupe. Buster saw Bobby checking on it (it was in one of my pots instead of in the actual garden),checked it out, and must have thought it was a ball. Next thing we knew, he had it, was playing with it, and Little Dog wanted it. One of them ate some of it. Must not have liked it too much, for they left it one the doorstep for me.

Next step is to get down all the stalks and tomato stakes. I've opened the gate so the chickens can go inside. They like to scratch and dig things up. I'm not crazy about the holes they make, but it does make tilling a little bit easier.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

hornets

This spring Bobby found a hornet's nest in our pear tree. It was about the size of a softball. I went to three different stores looking for some foam spray which my parents have used in the past. No one carries it anymore. We bought some jet spray, and followed the directions for dealing with it. I waited a week or two. No signs of hornets coming in or out of the nest, so I was going to take it down and keep. How many people have a small hornet's nest?

When I went back to claim the small shell, I was amazed to discover the walls were gone and a nest in its place.


Today, I picked pears using the fruit picker instead of my hands.
 

Too many yellow jackets and a few hornets were swarming around over-ripe pears, and the last thing I need/want is another allergic reaction to a sting. But, for the first time in several years...we have pears. I don't know if we can credit Buster and Little Dog for keeping the critters away, or if the extremely hot weather has ripened them earlier than usual, allowing me to get to them in time. No I just need to get them put up so I can get to the apples before they disappear.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

backpack drives

A friend of mine posted on Facebook the other day that the average parent spends $650 getting their child for school. She was aghast. I personally don't believe it. There's simply no way the average parent can afford that. Actually, I know very few people who could afford that.

And with everyone having backpack drives (the local Methodist church in Garner, the First Baptist HOPE group, the library, WRAL, Wake GOP, just to name a few) to help families in need, I can't help but wonder exactly what is going on here. I know not everyone recycles their crayons from year to year like we sometimes did, nor use the same binder from the year before (provided we had "taken care of it"), but there's seems to be an inordinate amount of need.

So using Wake County's school list, here's what it would cost for a 5th grader to go back to school:

2 two inch binders $6 each                                                                $12.00
• Glue sticks (set of 6) .50 for 2                                                          $  1.50
• Disinfecting Wipes $3.97                                                                 $ 4.00
• 1 box of tissues   $1.60                                                                     $  2.00
• 1 roll of paper towels $.97                                                                 $  1.00
• 6 marble composition notebooks $7.00 (4 in a pack)                  $ 14.00
• 1pack wide ruled notebook paper $2.97                                         $  3.00
• 1 box of colored pencils (pre-sharpened) $2.00                             $  2.00
• 24  #2 pencils (shaprpened) $3.00                                                   $ 3.00
• Crayola Broadline markers (set of 10)  $1.00                                 $1.00
• Ear buds or headphones (in Ziploc labeled with student's name) $10.00
Total Required by School:                                           $53.00              

Things people want but not required: Total if splurging: $50.00
Backpack  $25
Lunch box $10
Purse $ 15

Things a child needs that are on sale when school starts:
Underwear: bras $9.00, undies $8.00
Socks $7.00
Jeans (3 pair) $40.00
T-shirts (3): $30.00
Tennis shoes: $15-30.00
Running/gym shoes: $25.00 (recognizing this would be higher for a boy)
Total: $149

Grand Total: $253.00

That's a lot of money, but it's nowhere near the amount my friend had seen. Granted, if you had to pay lab fees and purchase a scientific calculator and locker fees and club fees that high schoolers often pay, the cost would rise quite a bit.  But the above prices I pulled from a Wal-mart and Target sales flyer. If you went to Dollar Tree or Family Dollar, you could bring that price down significantly if you needed to.

Do families need help? Absolutely! And I'm all for helping families out. But it seems to me with every group on almost every corner collecting school supplies, the county should be overstocked on school supplies by now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

last Gettysburg post


 I've never been one to ooh and aah over dresses. But this one, while pretty, made me laugh. I had to go back after reading the description and check it out. Those "flowers" on her dress are not only wildflowers from America, but INSECTS. Yes, Martha Washington attended the dance with a gown decked out in bugs. How awesome is that?

And I was a bit surprised by this, but I actually enjoyed the wax section of the Presidents better than the fashion segment of the First Ladies. The Presidents are built to scale, and briefly tell a little bit about each man. It was interesting to see how tall most of them were. The ladies were not made to scale, and their gowns are about 1/3 of the original size. But still, you could tell some about the styles of the time and the woman's personality by her dress.


The only thing I wasn't overly impressed with during the trip was the Cyclorama. That's a HUGE painting, the largest in North America, I think, that someone did of the battle of Gettysburg. It took several French artists to help complete it, and the canvas is placed in a circular barn. We bought tickets for it as part of a package deal with the battlefield tour, and I was most disappointed. It's a timed ticket, and after the presentation about it, you only have about 5 minutes to look and they tell you to leave. I'm sorry, but 5 minutes to view a painting that fills the equivalent of three rooms is NOT sufficient. That's an insult not only to the artists, but to the people who helped build the building to show it off. On the flip side, the gift shop for the park is very nice.

With all the controversy over the battle flag going on in the south and the constant vandalism of memorials and grave markers, we were a bit surprised to see how many battle flags and confederate items were on sale in almost every gift shop. Can't find something for sale in the south? Visit Gettysburg. In almost every shop we looked, someone was walking in and saying "Wow! You actually have this for sale? You can get this here?" and a puzzled shop owner would say "Yes. Why?" It was interesting to hear and see that things that are banned and "outlawed" here are considered just a part of history there.

I'm glad we went. It is truly a beautiful place, even if the history behind it is overbearing and heartwrenching to both see and think about.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Gettysburg

If you want a historical or education field trip and find yourself heading to Gettysburg, these places are definitely on my list of places worth visiting:

1. Gettysburg Diorama - If you like miniatures, you will LOVE this. If you need to see the large picture or no little about the Battle of Gettysburg, this exhibit not only explains it very well, but brings the little details to life.

Loved the spreaded cotton balls for the smoke...from a distance it looked very realistic!
Not only did they have canyons in the fields, they also had soldiers
(from both sides) taking down fences.
A true but sad fact.


2. Gettysburg National Park - a tour Yes. You can drive yourself around and look at a book and look at monuments, but here's some of the special things you're learn with a tour guide.
This is one of the US regiments that fought the 26th NC Regiment. (We hired a personal tour guide rather than deal with the lift on the tour bus, and he pointed out some extra things for us.) Almost everyone in this regiment were school teachers.

After the war, vets from both sides returned to the site and showed exactly where their units had camped and fought. As a result, most regiments have foot markers in each corner of the square where they fought. US regiments also have their own monuments, as opposed to the South, who only have State monuments. This is the far left corner of North Carolina's marker.
Bobby's great-grandpa had six older brothers who fought in the war. Three of them never came home. One died in Gettysburg, fighting with the 26th North Carolina Regiment. From the marker showed earlier, his regiment had to climb over three such fences while fighting. (In other words, they crossed through three different farms trying to conquer their assigned area.)  I look at an area that is so pristine and beautiful, and find it heart-breaking that it was one of many scenes of devastation.
This marker shows how far the 26th came (you can't even see the first fence or the NC camp site/monument from here).  As most of the Confederate soldiers were buried in mass graves with no names or markers, our tour guide said this field (between the fence and marker) is most likely where Needham Bryan is buried, (basing it on the fact he died July 3rd, which is the day they crossed the last fence). 
"Ten paces"  - that's how far the men had to go when the cannons opened fire.  I walked to the stone wall, "the high water mark" and it was more than ten steps for me. Although, I imagine if I were running in attack mode and in fear of my life, it might be less than 10 paces.

Bobby looking across the field on our "take our time" trip the 2nd day.

One of the areas where soldiers tore up farm fencing to add to rock fences as ways of making barricades.

Our tour guide gave us the stories behind many of the monuments, but this one was one of my favorite. A PA regiment was standing near a tree during the battle, when a cannon ball hit the tree, causing part of it to fall, along with a nest of baby birds. The men stopped fighting, and put the nest and the baby birds back in the tree before resuming the fight. This monument for that regiment illustrates that story, as well as showing the regiment crest, backpack, rifle, and ammunition box. We did see one or two other tree statues, but this one looked fairly realistic and truly captured the humanity of a group of boys in the middle of a very trying time. New York's regiments also had incredible monuments, especially the ones from the group of engineers or firefighters.
3. Dwight D Eisenhower farm

and for #4 and 5, pics will come tomorrow
4. Christ Church  - Sat night presentation of civil war music and poems
5. Wax museum of Presidents and replicas of First Ladies' gowns to the inaugural ball 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday

I'll have to save Gettysburg pictures for two days next week. Let me just say now that it was amazing, beautiful, heartbreaking, and mind-boggling. I am so glad we went, and I am also very glad that we didn't do that for an earlier anniversary. A battlefield, although this one is especially interesting, is not a romantic place to visit. And as much as I loved the area and could see myself living there, I'm not sure I could handle living in a place whose main mode of business is constantly reliving the past, especially such a painful one.

Today was another training day for the board of elections trainers. I've just got home, and my mind is whirling with things that need to be done and trying to decide what needs to be done first.

Tomorrow I meet my niece to give her some stuff before she heads back to college, (I was supposed to be heading the opposite direction to a baby shower), and at some point I really hope to get my house back in order before the craziness of grass cutting, garden maintenance, and election training hits full force.

Slow and steady isn't winning any races for me these days, but it is keeping my head above water.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

the barber shop

Prior to visiting Lib's Place on our way to Gettysburg, we stopped at a nearby town, only to discover the shop was closed on Wednesdays. Go figure. There was a couple making out on a bench between the quilt shop and the barber shop (which was next door). While I was checking out at Lib's Place, I mentioned to them that the place was closed for the day, and they became very concerned. Turns out, the owner of the store is the sister of the barber shop owner, and their stores actually connect in the back. Whenever the quilt shop is closed, all they have to do is go to the barber shop, and she'll let them into the quilt shop through the back way, and ring them up. For their regular customers, they are sometimes allowed to cut their own fabric if the barber is busy with a client. Are you as astounded as I am?

I was of the mindset at first that since there was no sign on the store saying that, we should forget about it and head on to our stopping point. Bobby reminded me we weren't that far (a 10-15 minute drive), we didn't have a timeframe, and it was one of the patterns I particularly liked. So we backtracked.  Same couple was still out front, only this time talking. Bobby laughed and said "I wonder if one of them is the barber. The girl was keeping an eye on us when we were here before looking at the signs and the store."

Turns out, the tattooed girl WAS the barber, and she was as nice as nice could be. She led me into the back, her living quarters, and to the back entrance of the quilt shop. I had told her what I was looking for, and she got it and rang it up for me. I really hated the shop was closed, for while it had a simple layout, the quilts on display were excellent, and she had a very large selection of patriotic fabric. It would definitely be a nice place to check out when it's officially open.

I have so say, it was my first time to enter a closed quilt shop through a barbershop, with a female barber, but I was very impressed with two young women who are working together to make their business work. Sisterhood. There really is nothing like it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"I'm Rowing!"

Last year many North Carolina quilt shops participated in an event called "Row by Row Experience". Unlike a shop hop where you pay to participate and are required to visit as many places as possible in a weekend, this crazy event starts June 1 and goes through August 8. Quilters go to any participating quilt shop (this year in almost every single state!), pick up a FREE pattern, make 8 rows, quilt them together, bind the quilt, and return to one of the quilt shops where you got a pattern to show off your quilt. If you're the first to show off from that shop, you win a prize. Be the first to finish in your state, and you win a big prize. It's quite cool.

We allotted extra time on our trip to Gettysburg to do just this. I couldn't help but laugh in one of the shops as I was looking at their fabric, and a small group of ladies came into the store. The sales clerk asked if she could be of assistance, and they happily chirped "We're ROWING!"

We stopped at three shops in Virginia (one actually twice, but that's a different story), and my favorite by far was Lib's Place.

 Had to take two shots of the store as it wouldn't fit in one click (without crossing the very busy highway in front).The section on the right in this photo is their classroom space.
 And the left front part of the store is a mixture of quilting and crafts. Upstairs was scrapbook stuff, and the back walk (behind the stone wall/fireplace) was their fabric. The layout of shelves and the stairs near the front entrance (not much you can do about that!), it was not very wheelchair accessible, but the staff was very accomodating and gracious. My only peeve with the quilt section was they had a LOT of panels for sale, taped closed,,,with no pictures or panels on display to know what was for sale. Other than that, everything about that store was AWESOME. And the most incredibly, amazing thing in this store...was the bathroom.  Yes, I felt stupid, but I actually pulled out my phone and hoped no one was waiting outside and started photographing!!!

 Corner cabinet...I don't know why, but corner cabinets have always been one of my favorite things!
 Bobby thought this was crazy when I showed him the picture, but they had the most beautiful fabric, think upholestry or curtain fabric, on a hanger, sewed into folds as a toilet paper holder by the commode. VERY creative and decorative. Who would have thought a toilet paper holder could actually be described as elegant? I certainly wouldn't have!
 And I thought this hanging on the wall above it was quite nice as well.

 Normally quilts on walls, especially in a bathroom, are wall size, at most, twin size. NOPE! Not here! They had not one, but TWO full-size quilts!
 And the second quilt was applique (behind the loom).  I mean, who has a small sized loom in their bathroom?
 And this footstool! Child's size, but rather than trash it because the seat was worn-out, they simply made a seat out of ....(have you already figured it out?)....men's ties. How do I know that's what it was? One, the material, and two...my husband and Dad have some of those exact same ties.  How cool!
And this made me laugh. I'm not sure Bobby found it as funny as I did.

But these sweet people who had teenage boys - excuse me, young men - coming in to say hello to friend and grandparents, so kindly asked what other shops I had rowed to on my way, and when I mentioned that the last one I had visited was closed, they became very alert and concerned. "What? Was there not a sign on the door?"  I told them the closed sign, along with the hours for when the store would be opened was there. "You mean there wasn't another sign telling you...."

And that was when our trip took a very bizarre and interesting turn.