Thursday, July 5, 2018

Travel Karma?

It has been hot here -- again.     Although we generally get relief after a few days, we have been having more frequent hot snaps in the past few years.  When my kids were small, we could generally count on one really hot week each summer.   We didn't even bother with air conditioning.   Not in my house and not in my car.  Now we have several really hot days each summer month.   Even though I live further north now, I cannot imagine living without air conditioning, which is a little troubling.

This has been a busy week, with more happening than usual in my life.    My sweetie and I decided, after the never-ending flights to Oklahoma, to take a train to Illinois because one of his sisters, whose daughter was recently married, was having a wedding party to celebrate.   Yikes, our travel day was deja vu all over again!   We left for the train station at 6:30 a.m., boarded at 8:00, traveled only 400 miles, but didn't arrive in Illinois until 11:00 p.m. that night!   Most of that time was spent sitting still on the tracks in the middle of nowhere because of some switch work and dispatch problems.   Still, it wasn't all bad --  it might even be considered good news that we were hundreds of miles away when our search and rescue team back home was called out to search for one unfortunate subject, since temperatures got up to 104 degrees and the dog team we called in to assist got skunked!    The search manager was even able to phone me -- repeatedly -- for help, since, although I was stuck on a train, I did have my phone and internet access, so I was able to send out notifications and gather information for them from afar.

So, in the big scheme of things, we were pretty comfortable.  The worst part of our travel woes was that we completely missed that night's party with family, someone had to pick us up at the train station much later than they expected, AND I missed a chance to mani/pedis with the other women-folk.   But the wedding party the next day was so nice and it was fun to visit with everyone, so the trip was well worth the little bit of inconvenience.

And besides, we had a surprise up our sleeves for his family since an event popped up between our trip to Oklahoma and the trip to Illinois.  We decided that it wasn't appropriate to share our news at the wedding party, but we all met for breakfast the next day so that we could announce that (drum roll, please) we are getting married!   I had just told his sister flat out, in Oklahoma, that we would not be marrying because her brother really didn't want to.  But when he asked, to my great surprise, after being with him for the past six years, I just couldn't say no.   Go figure.   His sister teased me that I lied to her . . . at least I hope she is teasing, lol.
Now we each have a million things to do, and for sure, the time for talk and procrastination is over!  My house has to be decluttered and it is (past) time to get rid of things I don't really need or want.    I expect he is facing much of the same because he also has a house and his own piles of Stuff.   It is not going to be an easy road, because, besides both having way too much stuff, we each also have troubled adult kids who are apt to create what has become typical stress and drama during all our lives.   But we've decided that we will figure out a way to get married before we solve all of the world's problems, knowing that there will be countless tasks to do in the months and years after.   His strokes last November have convinced us that daylight's burning, that we don't want to let each other go, and that some things are too important to put off.  And for me, from a practical standpoint, getting us all into one house will simplify my life in many ways.  It is hard for both of us not to spend a little time with our ""wish it were" dreams, but it is what it is and we plan to make the best of it.

Today is the 4th of July and a low-key day for us this year.  We celebrated it mostly by not working on any of the  messes that need to be un-messed and spending time together.   I bought a little fabric (which I need like a hole in the head), we went to the farmers' market, and we drove around in my air conditioned car to look at houses that are for sale in the area.   Tonight we went to the movies for popcorn and Deadpool 2, which he enjoyed and I shook my head at . . .  the Deadpool movies are irreverent, filled with winks and nods to other works, and so silly that I can't help but secretly enjoy them.   We missed all the big fireworks displays, which is sort of a shame, but people will likely continue to shoot them off all week, so I am sure I will see one or two, and that will be plenty this year.

Tomorrow it's back to work on our attempts to move forward in this new life we've chosen.  We hope to choose a date by next week and then let the planning begin.  We don't want to go to a courthouse but want a small and simple ceremony with some of our close family.  Since I have officiated at a lot of weddings, we have a pretty good idea of what we can expect.  The details will iron into place pretty quickly, at least we hope so.

I hope your summer adventures are going well.   Seems like mine are just beginning.



(Marie Louise, I always send an email reply to you before I remember that you are a no-reply blogger, so I know my replies are not reaching you!   I appreciate your comments and hope you had a wonderful visit here -- I would love to hear all about it!)

Monday, June 18, 2018

OK and Home Again

It is hot here the last day or so, in the 90s, but no worries here in Mid-Michigan, where the forecast for Tuesday is a return to 70 degree weather.  I do not like the heat, I do not like the bitter cold, but nothing here lasts for long.    It truly is a pleasant peninsula, as our State motto proclaims.

My sweetie and I went to Oklahoma last week to visit part of his very large family.  I packed a table runner (which I forgot to photograph when it was finished just before I packed!) and a little purse as hostess gifts, which were graciously received.
The trips there and back were daunting, as our planes were cancelled, rescheduled, and re-routed in both directions, making me think of Dorothy and Toto as we were swept back and forth through bumpy skies, coming and going.  The day we were scheduled to leave, our flight was cancelled and we were told to come back the next day.  Even then, we ended up sitting on a plane for the entire day before we got to the correct Oklahoma city!  The return trip was not much better, with the flight cancelled minutes before we left for the airport, sending us scrambling to reschedule again.  Our scheduled, expected-to-be relatively short trips there and back both took long, full days to complete.

But finally we arrived, and his twin and her husband were gracious hosts.  We spent the days talking and watching their children and their children's children and even one child's child's child.    People say that family is everything and this family has a richness of blessings that were a joy to spend time with.   

They say it was hot there, but I wouldn't know.  We only left the house twice, once so that the parents of the youngest children could have one blissful hour with adult company over dinner, and once to visit the Oklahoma City Memorial, which is both beautiful and sobering.   I loved that the memorial named all the survivors, recognizing that their lives were changed forever, as well as those who died and those who helped in the rescue efforts.   There were forest rangers on site and they did a wonderful job of explaining the truly moving symbolism behind every bit of the memorial.     Not one part of it was done carelessly, from entry and exit ways, to the size and placement of the chairs, to the place of honor where the Survivor Tree still stands.
Back home again,  I started work on a little flag quilt that will be a gift later for someone who is retired from the military.  
I had a great time on our trip, but it is always good to get home again.   And I was excited to get a couple more of my quilts back in the mail.  Getting them back is like seeing old friends after a long absence.

And now let the summer festivities begin in earnest!   I am hoping for some serious pool time with the Littles before it gets cold again!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The First Half

It's June already.  I am repeatedly amazed at how quickly my life is spinning by.  We are entering the half-way point of 2018, today.  It seems like only yesterday that I wondered if it would ever be warm again, and now we have spent a week complaining about the heat!  

My life continues in its up and down roller coaster path.  I am enjoying the highs and the plains, while trying to be philosophical about the dips.  Meanwhile,  I continue to quilt.

I've completed 13 quilt tops this year, and one little baby rag quilt.    Although there are a couple more quilts on the drawing board, I'm slowing down a bit now that my favorite scraps have been used up.  And I feel the need to get to some other sewing projects.  A friend has asked for a little purse for her daughter, and I've given away all my table runners so I need to make a few of those.  they make nice hostess gifts and are so easy to put together.   And my periodic embroidered quilt needs some love if I'm really going to get it finished by Christmas.   I have tons of elements still to embroider, and then it will still need to be pieced into a finished top and bordered before I can even think about having it quilted.  All I've done so far are the Transition Metals and the Lanthanoids, although I have also cut out the squares for the remaining elements.

In the Old Dog New Tricks category, I learned the truth this week of the old saying,  'Last one in's a rotten egg.'   I love my farm eggs and so did my mother and grandmother, so it was drilled into me from childhood that one must always, always,  always crack each egg into a separate bowl before adding it to a dish or recipe.  Obedient child that I was and am, I have always done so.   But this week, running late for an appointment and wanting to have a quick breakfast with my Sweetie before I left, I cracked my eggs -- one, two, three, four -- straight into the skillet.   Number four was, indeed, the last one in.   And for the first time in my entire life, it was rotten.    Good gravy, what a smell and, equally disgusting, what a sight.   Neither of us has been in the mood for eggs again since.   I don't think I'll neglect the egg-cracking rule again any time soon.   A word to the wise . . . 

The appointment I was rushing to was for my monthly pedicure.  I was never so happy to immerse my feet in scented oil as I was after smelling that rotten egg that morning!

This week was also the occasion of one of the two weddings I am officiating this year.  The couple had been together for decades and had raised their children together.   No Bridal jitters, no anxious Groom,  just relaxed and happy faces all around.   The wedding was  held in the barn on their property, with the sun streaming in and their family all around.  They knew exactly what they were promising and had a track record of keeping those promises.  A beautiful day for a beautiful couple. 

In family news, my grandkids are now big enough for full-sized adult strings instruments, which means a full-sized cello and a full-sized violin.   Since they were using mere fractions of the instruments when they began six years ago, it is a measure of how time has flown by.   They expect to be moving into the Youth Orchestra in the fall.   No surprise, I love hearing them play.

And today, after several days near 90 degrees, it was cool enough again for winter jackets.   Perfect sleeping weather.   Oh, Michigan!   I do love this State.   Like life itself, filled with unexpected twists and turns.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Business As Usual

I finally saw a crocus!   We had the most beautiful day on Thursday, 68 degrees and sunny.  I took
my second outside walk of the season -- as is usual for me this time of year, I passed people in short sleeves, shorts and tank tops, while I was dressed in jeans, socks, long sleeve shirt and a fleece jacket.   I was only a little chilly.    Yesterday was nice, too.


Of course, the sweet Spring weather was short lived.  We have winter storm warnings today, threatening 3/4" of ice and up to ten inches of snow.  Just to keep us on our toes.   It is a bit over 30 degrees as I write this, and temps are dropping.  Frankly, I'm starting to resent the ice and snow a little bit.  And it is obvious that the ice and snow doesn't care one bit.

The simple quilt top I was piecing earlier is finished, with a thin border I found in my stash, and I resurrected an old one, probably the first one I tried piecing together, and will have that quilted, too.  What the heck, I might as well start a whole stack of quilts, going from nothing to a dozen in the first half of the year.
In other news . . . I tried a new bread recipe this week when I had dinner with my kids.   They call it Miracle Bread and, although that might be an overstatement, it was pretty darn good.  I hesitate to even call it a bread recipe since it was so ridiculously easy, but what else do you call a process that ends up as bread?   There is literally no kneading.   Dry ingredients are combined, including a smaller than usual amount of yeast and a larger than usual amount of water, with a spoon -- not the kneading hook of my mixer! -- and it sits overnight.  Then the whole mess is gently dumped onto parchment paper and baked in a pre-heated, screaming hot dutch oven.  That's it.    For sure, it is probably not as good as the artisan breads I used to make, or as good as my bloggy friend Barbara at Cat Patches makes now, but it is delicious nonetheless.   And in my lazy elder years, easy peasy has a charm of its own.  

I am hunkering down now, watching the freezing rain outside my window and tamping down any hope of seeing my sweetie or my family this weekend if the weather gurus are right.   I am also wishing that I had stocked up on comfort (let's face it, I really mean junk) food!  No matter, I will find something to make or cook or bake from the staples in my pantry, because pretty clearly I am not in danger of starving anytime soon.  :)



Monday, April 9, 2018

A/K/A WINTER

Michigan Spring, known in other parts of the country simply as "Winter."  It was 17 degrees when I left the house for an Anita Goodesign embroidery "party" last weekend and there were white out conditions on the freeway.  I am getting a bit tired of dressing like a lumberjack and still feeling cold.
I am even more tired of scraping ice off the windshield.  But a friend who just got back from a few months in Florida told me it was 89 degrees when he started the drive north and lord knows I don't want that either.   I guess I am a weather malcontent; just no pleasing me.
I've sent in my 10th scrappy quilt to be quilted and I think I am ready to take a break from piecing quilt tops.   I have a list of other projects to mess around with.  I have material set aside for bags and table runners I need to sew and I have some machine embroidery to do.   I am (slowly) working on the periodic quilt -- the pattern is by My Fair Lady Designs and was the only one of its kind that I could find.   I am making the element-blocks, but don't think I will use the intended layout.  I haven't figured it out yet, but I would like to incorporate some quilted blocks, probably in the border, instead of having all embroidery.  I'm a long way from having to worry about those decisions though!
My latest quilt top, number 11 for this year, is a simple one.  I had planned to do other sewing this week, but this one accidentally got thrown together.
My sister tells me that it is supposed to be warm enough to walk outside in her area next week, so I am planning to drive down and spend a day.    We've been made no such promises here, a couple of hours north of her.  Fingers crossed that she is right!    I am ready for some outdoor exercise!




Friday, March 30, 2018

Spring Slowly

Michigan Spring, always a back and forth experience, weather-wise.  Cold one minute, 25 degrees yesterday, and today it's sunny and warm, with temperatures in the 50s.   But the snow is finally shrinking away and I've heard rumors that crocuses are starting to pop up, although I haven't seen them myself.  Day before yesterday and again today I took a walk in a sweatshirt.  Yesterday, and again tomorrow, I will need my winter coat.   Maybe that's where the designation "spring" came from, sudden changes springing up on us before the world settles down.   And it will -- the rodents are getting frisky and birds are cuddling up at the feeders.      
One of the nicest things about Spring is the increased light, and -- bonus! -- that light has led to increased egg production for the friends who have chickens, which in turn has led to increased gifts of eggs to me!   I love knowing the people and the chickens who provide my eggs.   And homegrown eggs are so much more beautiful than the grocery store can offer.  I admire each one of them before we eat them, feeling grateful every time.  There are so many wonderful things in my life that I have come to take for granted (shame on me), but somehow the eggs stop me in my tracks every time and remind me how lucky I am.  These days, after listening to the morning news, I often need those reminders.
I have been trying to get my taxes done.    I am such a procrastinator, for no good reason since my tax prep is simple now that I don't make any money or own much of anything.  Still, I have to bribe myself to get it done.   My bribe-to-self these days is the same as other days:  I continue to quilt in between the tasks that need to be done, still using scraps.  
One of these days they will also be quilted and I'll have that to show.   For now, it's just flimsy after flimsy.

The Littles, who are not so little anymore, were on Spring break this week from school.  Yesterday we spent time at a pottery painting place, and at Yogurt Yetti, a perennial favorite, where you fill your own cup with as many flavors of yogurt and topping as you choose.  The kids get crazy mixtures, I always choose mango and pineapple and coconut.    It was good to have some time just being with them.

We even found time to play a board game, a rare treat usually reserved for summer vacation and long school breaks.  This time we played a game that is new to us, Power Grid, which was recommended by one of our 'cooler' relatives in Menlo Park.  Like all the games we play, it involves strategy and a lot of time.   I thought the kids were kidding when they said it would take us about 5 hours to finish the game, but no, they were serious.   Actually, they had played before so we finished in a speedy three  hours.  It was fun, and we will certainly play it again.   
I am driving a lot since my honey can't drive anymore, and the weeks have been full of tasks and mileage, but things are settling down.  At least we hope they are.   We never know how far away we are from the next challenge, so it has been good to take some time to appreciate what we have and a little sunshine.   But lest I forget how fragile life is, I got a gentle reminder from a vanity license plate today that said ARRRR.   It made me laugh, that would have been a good one for me these past few months.   I am hoping for some boring days ahead, what a lovely thing to contemplate.  :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Still Scrapping It



With the daylight savings time change, we sprung back into several inches of snow here in Mid-Michigan's middle of the mitten.  It is beautiful here, but has been good weather to stay indoors.  And if I have to be indoors, I might as well be sewing.

I've made three more quilt tops from my scrap pile, and I am finding more hidden pieces of fabric and orphan blocks that I can already see becoming yet another top or two.   Good grief, will the endless hoard of fabric ever end?!  At this rate, I am not sure I'll live long enough to buy fabric of my own choosing for a quilt, but it doesn't much matter.  Every time I start one, I think how disappointing it is not to have chosen the fabric, and every time I end, I am in love with the way it turned out, especially since it feels like I've made something out of nothing.  As of this writing, so far this year, I've donated two full trash bags of fabric and, along the way, I've made 8 quilt tops, all from stash, plus one little rag quilt.  The smallest of the pieced tops so far is a 47" square, and the largest is the size of a double bed.   None of them were started with any real idea of where I was going, which has also been fun.   I just add things on til they look done to me.  And the resulting color combinations, dictated by what's on hand and many of which no sane person would choose, have been delightful to me.

I've sent six of them in for long arm quilting, and will probably keep doing that.   I know that talented friends quilt on their home machines, but I am not confident enough to try that yet.   Besides, I am not impressed (at all) with my Brother, which has constant stitch and tension issues.   I am fairly certain that it would ruin any quilt I tried on that machine since I already have to toss the occasional simple block.  And I love my Babylock, but I keep it pretty much tied up with embroidery projects.   So instead I am spending my children's inheritance on quilting services and hope they like the quilts which are, at least, a little more interesting than most of the junk I will leave behind!    I am really looking forward to seeing the bursts of color in my house in the meantime.   When my sweetie gave me the AccuQuilt gift he said he hoped that I would eventually make a dozen quilts.  In his mind that was a huge number that would  make him feel like he had chosen a really good gift.  In my mind, it would justify the expense.   It is looking like I'll be able to reach that mark sooner than either of us expected.

In other news, my grandson was one of three kids at his school this month to qualify for a chemistry competition and he said that it was a lot of fun; he finished in the top half of the region but not high enough to go on to the state level, and he was happy with that.  So was I, of course.   Both of my grands love school this year, and I love seeing that.     It is amazing for me to see them excited about math and science, neither of which excited me until long after I was out of school.  I never even took chemistry, which was discouraged and called a 'boy's subject' by my high school career counselor who saw it as mostly an opportunity for the boys to mess around and blow things up.   My grands both continue to play in band (baritone and flute) and orchestra (violin and cello), too, and so of course they get better every year.  The credit goes to their parents, I think, who have always provided the message that it is satisfying to learn things that seem hard at first.   They definitely do make their Grandma proud.  :)