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


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


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


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


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


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.

Monday, August 3, 2015

heading home

I spent quite a while after supper trying to upload some of the pictures I made on my phone during this last week. Let's just say wifi/e-mail wasn't cooperating very well for a while, so I won't be posting things until..one day this week.

We left last Tuesday. Bobby had an appointment that morning, and our original plan was that we'd leave after he got home and we were loaded. But as the "joke" is in our house, that didn't happen. We left about 11ish.  After I canned 7 quarts of tomatoes and finished a load of clothes because it had two pairs of shorts that I needed and my dryer was NOT cooperating. But we made it. So thankfully, this scene will most likely not be awaiting me upon my return.

 But this view will:

Bobby's great-aunt Grace had an estate sale (she's in a nursing home) about a week before we left. She liked to sew, but her specialty was quilting. They divided her fabric into 5 lots. I bought 2. After five days of washing a MINIMUM of five loads of fabric a day, there's still one box to unpack (and a card table full not yet washed). WHAT was I thinking? (Besides it was a good buy, and it's family, and I like those colors, and...did I mention it was a good buy and I briefly considered getting a 3rd lot?!?) You could see more of the couch than this when I left, but it will still be covered when I return.

And on top of that, and partly because of this, I was in the process of rearranging my sewing room, and nowhere near finished. And Thursday I meet with a co-teacher to prepare for upcoming election training sessions.  So my goal is to blog at least every day this week as a way of having down-time and to update on everything happening in life, but realistically, that might not happen.

But now you know why I've not been blogging. :)