Monday, December 31, 2018

Day 5 Of A # Week Marriage, Going On Forever

Sunday afternoon:   After ruffling some feathers and squeaking some wheels, I left my sister with, I hope, a plan for some extra help that isn't provided by me.    I am back with my shiny new husband and we are enjoying our 5th day together.   We are a long, long way from settled, since we both have our separate houses and most of our separate stuff is well ensconced in them, but even being able to finally spend most of the day, and the night, together is a huge step forward.  We are finally getting around to thank you notes and announcements to the people who might not know yet about our nuptials.   We still haven't celebrated Christmas with either of our families and I still haven't shopped, but just this day of together is good good good.

My son, daughter (in law) and grands are winging their way back from Paris, where they spent the Holidays.  I am preparing for our favorite Holiday tradition of the year, our New Year's chocolate fondue get together.   We have done this, with a few lapses, since my son was a little boy.  I can't wait!

And today was our first Dominoes game of the season.   Our 'young' friend, who is in his 30's but with the spirit and mind of a 12 year old, was excited to have the games begin again, and so were we. He won the vast majority of the games tonight but for once I was able to actually take a few points,  far fewer than our friend but a few more than Jack did for a change.  

And now it is Monday morning already:  The end of the year is flying by and, like the rest of the year, will probably go by in a blur.    It is time to put the turkey breast into the crock pot, clean those fruits and veggies, get home to my Saginaw house to straighten up a bit and and prepare to celebrate once again.  It will be another busy day.    I hope this last day of 2018 will be peaceful and happy for all of you.   By the time I blog again, the year will be over and we will all be celebrating another new beginning.  

Thursday, December 27, 2018

And So This Is Christmas

What a strange Christmas.   Not a bad Christmas, mind you, but stranger than any since I spent the holiday home alone as a teen with strep throat, hallucinating in an empty house while my family went to celebrate at a relative's house.  This year there was no tree, no gifts, no special food.   I didn't think to prepare for Christmas before the wedding and the stores were closing by the time I arrived home late on Christmas eve afternoon.     But I had 24 hours with my husband and, even if nothing about the time was memorable, nothing went wrong, either.  

We took our first married Christmas selfie:
But the  highpoint of our day, no kidding,  was when we opened one of the gift jars of jam from my bloggy friend Barb at Cat Patches.   The jar we chose by random was Amaretto Black Forest Jam and OMG it has chocolate in it!   It took us a minute to realize that was what we were tasting but oh yeah, we caught on pretty fast.   Once we had eaten half the jar at our first sitting and I had paused to breathe, I got on my laptop and grabbed the recipe from one of Barb's old posts.   Michigan is known for cherries, too, thank goodness, and now I know exactly what to do with them.   You can find Barb's blog post here.


And now, as they said in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou?, I have once again R-U-N-N-O-F-T from my husband and marriage and am back at my sister's house.   Today's mission is to pretend that I am not here, in order to see what she can do for herself and what she cannot.   I admit to feeling a little hurt that I am, again, the one who needs to step up to this, since I really do need a bit of time to cement my new marital status.   But her son is So Busy working and her daughter in law took the kids up to their second home for the week since the kids are off school . . . so there ya go.    And I do not mind helping, not a bit, as I have proven with every other family crisis.  And yup, for sure, I am aware that sickness and death and surgeries are all inconvenient for families.    But golly,  we are apparently the only ones who think that it might have been a courtesy for other people to sacrifice a bit so that these old newlyweds could have had more than 4 days together in the first 20 days of our marriage.   

Shake it off.   Nothing lasts forever,  and my sister gets better every day, thank goodness.   Jack and I talk several times a day and my son and his family send me sweet and supportive messages and photos from Paris, where they planned a year ago, long before this surgery or our wedding were scheduled, to spend the holiday.   We are all looking forward to New Year's Eve and our traditional Christmas fondue and, when that is done, Jack and I are looking forward to some lazy time together, just gathering our energy for the next stage of our adventure together in the coming year.  

Life is good.


Friday, December 21, 2018

Gratitude

Although this month has been challenging in many ways, I have much to be grateful for.   Caring for my sister has been tiring and, yes, a tad inconvenient in light of my newly married state, but how lucky am I to be able to do it at 69 years of age, instead of being the one who needs the caring.      My grandchildren and son and darling daughter in law bring me endless joy.   And I have the sweetest husband in the world, at a time in life when no one would have predicted such a blessing, which must be why I am grinning like a Cheshire Cat in every photo.
And I have people in my life who I care about, and who have taken the time to care about me.   I am not happy with the wedding photos, but as I sort through them and crop them into something better, I can't ignore the happy, supportive faces of family and friends as they watch us 'tie the knot.'    I have gotten sweet notes and letters from many people, saying how much they had always hoped that Jack and I would end up together because they have enjoyed watching our relationship grow.    And I got a lovely gift from my bloggy friend, Barb, at Three Cats Ranch, a trinity of homemade jams that we can't wait to try when things settle down and this old married couple finally gets to sit down to breakfast at home together.   I am hoping to meet Barbara some day, as well as my bloggy friend, Kim, at Snug Harbor Bay.
So, while this isn't shaking out to be the Christmas, much less the first married Christmas of my dreams, I am grateful.   And my family, new and old, is on notice that NEXT year I intend to Christmas the heck out of the entire month of December.   So watch out, we will be up to our ears in twinkling lights, cozy hearths and baked goods then!  For now, I'll hold on tight to what I have, even if I have to do some of my holding from a distance.  


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Most Wonderful Time Of The Year?

Next week will be our First Christmas as a married couple.   We are still waiting to see whether we actually get to spend it together.   After a very rough start -- her pain pills were not delivered and it took us a whole day to get an emergency script -- my sister is doing better but not ready to be left alone yet.  Our 2 "marital" homes are two hours north of where I am now, and a winter storm is predicted for Christmas weekend.   My poor husband traveled home from D.C. yesterday, using Amtrak as he loves to do, and was delayed for hours in Toledo.  On top of that,  he came down with some kind of travelers' woe, either the flu or food poisoning.   Awful, whichever it was.   I sent him a message that I could try to find a day sitter for my sister and drive down to get him if he needed me, but he didn't respond, and later told me he thought he was going to end up in the ER.    Somehow or other he eventually made it home, and feels quite a bit better today, he says.    But this morning, helping my sister out of bed, I was struck with a wave of terrible nausea, so I am hoping I didn't carry some nasty virus to her.

As first Christmases go, this one will be memorable.  The only tree we have this year is a little artificial one in the front window of my Saginaw house, no decorations at all in  his house, no Christmas baking has been done, no grocery list made or filled, and not a single gift has been purchased.   We look forward to the time when we will look back on this and laugh, and we are really happy to have our rings, pretty much the only evidence right now that we are married.

We also have some photographic evidence now because we received our wedding photos today -- I love the internet! --  from the (expensive) photographer that was recommended by a wedding planner friend.   I am not impressed.  None of his photos are edited, but I am cropping and editing them myself and will make the best of them.   He did not take a photo of the eternity knot that we tire in our hand fasting ceremony, or of our rings, but we can fill those in ourselves.     Here is an edited photo of our "tying the knot" ceremony.   The knot itself, tied with symbolic colors to denote the intent to nurture, health and strength, and longevity, is at one of our houses; the hand fasting ended with the reminder that our bond is not formed by the cords, but by the promises we have made to one another.     
And then there was cake, baked by one of my new step-sons whom we hired rather than have a cake by a stranger, unthinkable.   The bite or two that I had of it was delicious.  Unfortunately, my new step-DIL took off with most of the tartan decorated macarons, filling a box and taking them home for herself . . . I guess I'm on notice of my place in this new family!   

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Sadie, Sadie, Married Lady

What a busy month.   I had two Thanksgivings -- one that I cooled, and one that consisted of a ham and cheese sandwich at a restaurant, and both of which were fun with family.    I turned a year older (and that's old!) and then, a week later, I got married.   

The day before Thanksgiving, I cooked dinner at my house because most of my family had other plans for Thanksgiving Day.   To our surprise, my oldest brother bought me and Jack a pair of carved decoys -- my brother has always liked working with wood and has made decoys since I was a little girl.   He made this pair of bufflehead duck for us, male and female.   He wasn't supposed to give us a gift -- we tried to impose a no-gift rule -- but  I love them.

On Real Thanksgiving, the ham and cheese sandwich day, Jack and I went to help my brother empty out a pole barn because he was moving the next week.   There, he gave us some goose decoys he had made.  I was in waterfowl heaven!

On my birthday, I got the sweetest surprise form my fiancĂ©'s daughter, flowers and a welcoming note.    I was in tears for a long, long time.  

The following week was super busy, with a fundraiser gala that I was committed to help with, multiple packages to pack and mail, and a wedding to plan.  My DIL and so were busy with their kids and school, and the people who claimed they would be my helpers (and supposedly took off work to do it) fell through or didn't show up, so I spent a couple days picking things up and  hauling decorations into our venue.    And that was fine, I had a lot of nervous energy to burn off.  

Our wedding day was cold and sunny; perfect weather for a Michigan winter wedding.   My grandkids played their cello and violin and our family and a few close friends were there.   I loved our ceremony, which we created ourselves, with a pagan handfasting flair.     We  had invited our guests to come in "daytime clothing," and my dear brother took us very much at our word, wearing the same stained sweatshirt and pants he wore when we cleaned the pole barn.   I love my family.   I pinned a boutonniere on him and had him walk me down the aisle.  I wore silver sandals and the pretty bracelet that my bloggy friend, Kim, made for me.   I have been wearing it ever since.
We don't have our pictures back yet, but as you might remember, finding a dress was a real struggle for me.  In the end, though, I had two and no idea which to wear.   So I wore one for the ceremony and then, too soon, before and post-ceremony photos were taken, I changed into the other.   Afterward, several people told me they liked the first, and least worn, dress best.  Oh well, I am disappointed that I didn't just stay in the one dress, but it is a small disappointment.   All in all,  it was the best day ever.



Monday, November 26, 2018

Winter Storm

My grandkids are having a Snow Day, the first of the year, and I am having one, too.   From the texts they sent me early this morning I am guessing that they are way more excited about it than I am, but there is something pleasant about being stuck inside on a snowy day.  My house is warm and cozy and there is plenty of work to be done, but it is also cyber Monday so I am pretending to shop just so that I have an excuse to stay under a blanket and sip tea.  I haven't purchased anything yet, but you never know.   I think hot cocoa will be in order later today, too, so there is lots to look forward to.
Jack is at his house 25 miles away and we talk frequently on the phone, imagining that in just a short while we will be able to snuggle in and greet future snow days together.  In fact, as we both know, it will still take some time for us to dispose of our houses and we are no closer to finding a new home that we both like.   Our wedding approaches with a blizzard of family illness that is likely to delay plans even further, and we can't help but wonder whether our wedding day will be complicated by another winter storm or the surgeries that some of our guests are facing, but we will handle whatever comes.  We know we have a lot to be thankful for.



Monday, November 5, 2018

Falling Into Place.



It is truly and fully the most beautiful time of year here in Mid-Michigan; the colors are gorgeous and the days are still not too cold, mostly in the 40s.   It's the perfect season for caramel apples, breakfast of champions.   Yum.
Wedding plans are moving along, although I now feel that the choice of venue was a mistake since they send changes and throw wrenches into our plans every couple of weeks.   So far we can roll with their disorganization but it has definitely made it less fun.   As an example, we originally gave a top limit of 51 guests and got a menu proposal for that number.   A week ago, long after invitations were out and responses were back, they emailed us without apology or recognition of their audacity to tell us they had decided to have a limit of 45.   Since we actually only invited 45 people, it was not a problem for us, but it makes us less and less confident in our choice.   They've also decided that the 'cozy' room where we intended (at their suggestion) to have the ceremony is not big enough and now want us to rent a second ceremony room at an additional charge.   Again, we don't much care, but it is frustrating, and thank goodness we are not starry eyed 20-somethings who had an actual vision of how this was going to go.   I keep telling myself that it will all be fine and will make good stories afterwards, but it has been a constant distraction that awakens me at 2 a.m. every few nights.

We finished the draft of our ceremony and I am happy with that, so the important work is done.   I have the dress I think I will end up wearing; it's hanging on my closet door, a simple lace top, chiffon bottom thingy, but I still need to find shoes.   His kilts finally arrived, Clan MacDonald of the Isles hunting tartan.   They got here 3 weeks later than promised but in plenty of time since we changed our original October plan.  They do not look at all like the tartan we saw on the Scottish website, so he will decide whether to wear his new ones or stick with his old traditional pattern of MacDonald of the Isle.  Either way is fine with me.   I am experimenting with make up since I don't wear it normally, and so far can't see the difference in selfies I've taken with the ridiculously expensive airbrush makeup done at the local salon, or with just moisturizer like I wear every day, or with the variety of other foundation options I've messed around with.   To my eyes I look the same ragged self in each of them.    I know this part is all vanity and just silly, but I am trying to go through the motions and make an effort, except that the downside is that I am being reminded at every turn that there is no young and blushing bride.  He would like me to wear flowers in my hair, which seems a too-young throw back to my hippie days, so I am considering feathers instead, just for fun.  I bought a little foo-foo and a friend makes fascinators that she has promised to show me soon.   I am also playing around with DIY table centerpieces and picked up maple syrup for favors at the Farmers' Market today.   I like being able to send little treats home with people so I think I'll get caramel and chocolate covered pretzel rods, too, because they are portable even for the out-of-towners and really, just because I like them.

My young musicians are practicing the Pachelbel Canon faithfully, and they are excited about the wedding, which is a tonic to me.   I still need to decide on flowers, and tag the favors, but we have a month yet to go.    

As for the old poem about what a Bride needs to have, I figure I am the "something old," and so, for that matter, is my sweet Groom.   My dress is blue,  and I will need to think of something I can borrow, I guess,  but since I'm not superstitious I'm also not too worried about that.   The coolest "something," though, is a gift my bloggy friend Kim from Snug Harbor Bay made for me,  a gorgeous bracelet that she stamped with our names and wedding date.          How sweet was that?!   I was so surprised and will treasure it forever, both as a reminder of my wedding and as a sign of her sweet friendship.   Besides her blog, Kim has a lovely Etsy shop and several physical booths at Antiques Et Cetera in Kentucky with TONS of stuff for sale.    She is such an example of someone who went after her dreams and made them happen with grit and hard work.   Thank you so much, Kim!
We have what I hope will be our final meeting with the venue coordinator this Friday.   If the venue works out as we are (relatively) sure it will, we have things well in hand.     Besides, as my sweetie points out whenever I get stressed, no matter what else goes wrong, at the end of it all, we will be married.   Life is good.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Checking In & Whining

My goodness, I am amazed at how much work there is in planning the smallest, simplest wedding.   We are only inviting family, and only family members who live close by, at that  -- we will have a second, much larger celebration after the Michigan wedding in Illinois, where the bulk of my fiancĂ©'s family will gather -- so fewer than 40 people are expected.  We are far too small a group to justify the large halls that are nearby, and many of the smaller venues had a minimum of 50 people.  It is not a big group, but it is too many people to mingle comfortably in either of our houses.   The challenge was unexpected -- it took us 7 weeks to find and lock down a venue -- but we finally jumped that hurdle this week.

And now I need to find a dress.  I know many women who shop, and who dress, and who are lovely.   I am not that woman.   It was my stated intention to never wear anything again, now that I am retired, except jeans and t-shirts.   And yet here I am.   My beloved is not on board with my suggestion that I wear jeans and a t-shirt that states "BRIDE" on the chest.   And since he will be wearing kilts, I will not wear pants.  So I have been shopping myself into a panic.   

This chore is not as easy as you might think.  I am nearly 70, short, not in the best shape of my life, formed something like a cantaloupe or at least a roma tomato, with arms that no one needs to see bare, and nothing nothing nothing looks good on me.  I will not wear white and probably should not wear black or navy, my go-to colors.    And anyway,  nothing nothing nothing looks bridal on this body.   

Our guests are a casual group, only one or two of them are likely to even own a suit, but even if our invitations didn't say "business casual/daytime," I would not be inclined to wear the full ballgowns that my sister favors, although I recognize (having been told repeatedly) that I am allowed to be more formally dressed than our guests. I don't help the process, I guess, because I don't want long, don't want short, don't want sparkle, but don't want to disappoint my groom, either, by not dressing the part to the best of my ability.   I will not admit to anyone how may dresses I've tried on,  or how much I've spent on ordering and returning internet purchases, and so far all to no avail.   

I think I've tried really hard to find something, but now I need to try harder, because now we've set a date -- December 8 -- and the invitations have been mailed.  We are starting to work on the ceremony and have talked to the officiant.   It's getting real, y'all, and I need to find something to wear.     Yes, I know that this is a silly and fortunate problem to have.  I am so very lucky, and we are happy and excited . . .  but I can't help but wonder, just a bit, if I should have talked him into a courthouse wedding before we got this snowball rolling!    

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.  :)