Friday, November 25, 2011

One Nurse's Thanksgiving

Most of my adult life, we've had Thanksgiving whenever.  When I worked in the operating room, it was easier to have it on the actual day, since the OR was only open for emergency cases on holidays and weekends.  But I haven't worked there since DD was 4 years old, so all she ever knew was Turkey Day happened sometime around the 4th weekend of the month. In addition, she was only 5 years old when we moved across the country from our family, so out of necessity, it's just never been a big holiday for us.  I'm sure that's true for many other occupations, not just nursing.

Over the years, we've shared Thanksgiving with a couple of other families, but usually it's just the 2-3 of us, depending on where DD is living at the time. She was never interested in learning to cook as a child or young teen, but as she got to be college age, she began experimenting. She and some of her close friends would host a big Thanksgiving party for friends of all ages and the gal cooks a mean turkey, I must say. In fact, she's turned into quite a cook.  She didn't get it from me.

This year she was invited to spend Thanksgiving with her best friend from work and her family. I'm grateful for her many friends, as she never really has to spend a Thanksgiving alone. She may be 7 hours away, but she's still surrounded by people who care about her.

As for this household, well, I had to work Wed. night and Thurs. night, so our Turkey Day will be tomorrow. It'll be a small one, with only a turkey breast, Stovetop Stuffing, green beans, corn, sweet potatoes, deviled eggs, some sort of cranberry dish, and a storebought pecan pie (which we actually cut into tonight. Hey, in another world, it would be leftovers!)  Some years I do the whole Betty Crocker thing, but that's not going to happen this year. There are much more interesting things to do!  Sewing has been happening here, and though I'm not ready to post pictures yet, I'm happy the mojo is continuing.

So if cooking is your thing, hope you are having a great time. If shopping is your thing, stay safe! Weird people are roaming around out there. However you are spending this holiday weekend, I hope you are making wonderful memories. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Connecting Threads Giveaway

Pat at Bell Creek Quilts posted this info about a Connecting Threads Giveaway, and I boogied over and filled out the info.

You have to register to create a wish list, and once you do, you must add items to the wish list to total at least $50.00. Then you must email the wish list to someone, and share on your blog or facebook.

But the contest ends tomorrow, and the winner is announced on Thurs., so hurry!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

American Christmas

I received this as an email today, and I like it so well, I'm going to post this.  Most of us are quilters, and "get" this already, but still, feel free to copy it into your email and pass it around.

Christmas 2011 -- Birth of a New Tradition

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high
gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods --
merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This
year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine
concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift
giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes
there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in
a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates
from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some
health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned
detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a
book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down
the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift
receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or
driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift
certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about
a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this
isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town
Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or
motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a
local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is
struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin
their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery
and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave
your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at
your hometown theatre.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese
lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about
fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to
burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that
China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about
US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow
their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our
communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.

THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

Forward this to everyone on your mailing list -- post it to discussion
groups -- throw up a post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in
your city -- send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations,
and TV news departments. This is a revolution of caring about each other,
and isn't that what Christmas is about?

Monday, November 07, 2011

Broke the Barrier

With all that has gone on this year, starting with my arm injury last Dec., I had lost my quilting mojo. I'd walk into the sewing room, and walk out again, totally overwhelmed and uninspired. I didn't even buy any fabric between October last year and August of this year. Not that I really needed much--my stash is getting unmanageable.

But by late September, things had begun to turn around, and I finished 3 placemats for a blogging friend's children. I didn't think to take pictures, but she did, and they're on her site, here. I handquilted the center panels, as there were parts I wanted to stand out more, and then machine quilted the outer parts, all with glow in the dark thread--and it really does glow!

I also started 3 wall hangings for my own house for Halloween, but didn't get them finished.
As you can see, I've only reached the sandwiching stage. I have some embellishments to add as well, but they probably won't get picked up again until after the holidays.

In preparation for hanging them, I bought this hanger from Ackfeld Manufacturing:
Is this not the cutest thing?

They sent me a catalog with some of their products: fabric hangers, fabric hooks, ornament holder, etc.

I had never heard of them before, but I really like what they have, and will probably order some of their hangers to include with wall-hanging gifts. I know I never seem to be able to do justice to some of my little quilts with just a dowel and ribbon.

What do you use for hanging wall quilts?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

More Pictures from 10/31

A bit blurry--it was hard to stand still long enough for a night shot, but it's the only one I have of the whole scene under the tent.

The Mourners.

The "deceased".

  Zombie Girl.

Freaky Spider.

Welcome to November, everyone.

"Over, Done With, Gone."

(Can you identify that quote?)

Where do I start????

Since I have lost 4 family members and a good friend all in 10 months' time, I just didn't get into the Hallowe'en frame of mind as early this year. If you've followed my blog, you know that I start dreaming of props and spooks and things that go bump in the night 'long about May or June, and usually have a theme by July.  DD came up with a theme for me, and I really like it, but never got around to putting it together, so I've decided to use her idea next year, and no, I am NOT sharing that right now, thankyouverymuch.

So I'd just decided to put most all my stuff out there, sort of in stations, for people to walk around and view. Aliens over here, mad scientist's paraphernalia over there, and a cemetery in the upper 40. Okay, yard.

I pulled out my 2 life-sized skeletons and Short Stuff (the little skeleton) and placed them in lawn chairs. Then I pulled out my casket from under the back deck where it had been tarped all year, and stacked it on 4 pallets I'd picked up from the loading dock at the hospital.

Hmmm, what if it rained? I guess I could still use the tarp, but wait: I have the canopy tent I bought last year for my Gypsy Curse theme.  I could place that over the casket. Then, bingo, ladies and gentlemen, we have a theme: The Funeral.

What can I say? It's certainly been on my mind this year.

So for the last 2 weeks, I've been in a frenzy, trying to put everything together. I bought the 12 pumpkins, but when it came time to carve them, only 4 were soft enough to carve. The other 8 were hard as gourds, necessitating a large knife and a mallet to pierce them!  All I could do with those were geometric faces--the usual triangles, etc. It took way longer than usual, and put me even farther behind. The good thing is, I got to watch some of my favorite Hallowe'en movies while brutalizing pumpkins!

Bless her heart, one of my neighbors came over about 3:30, walking her dog, and decided to help me get the last minute stuff done. It was probably the first year I've not regretted them changing Daylight Savings Time to the first Sun. of November instead of the last Sun. in October. We only got one Trick-or-Treater before 6:15.

Here are some stills from the evening. I was so busy, I didn't get out there to take pictures at twilight, which is the best time for Hallowe'en pics, so I'm debating lighting all the candles and battery-powered flicker candles tomorrow evening just so I can get good photos.

The zombie body in the casket. He sits bolt upright and moans "Welcome to our graveyard."

One of the tombstones. It reads "Ye who walk o'er me will wish you'd died 'fore me."

Entrance through the cobwebbed cemetery gate .

The front porch.  I had orange light bulbs in the porch and garage lights--that's why everything looks so red here.

 Rats gnawing on bones.

The Mourners.

If you're watching "The Walking Dead" on AMC, you'll get the significance of the next two pictures.

Tricycle Zombie Girl

Some of these required a flash and thereby decreased the creepiness, so I probably will go out at twilight and take more pictures. At any rate, Zombie Girl crawls out of the garage, but needs a flat surface, so I had to place a sheet of insulation foam there to bridge the narrow step. It was covered with leaves at the end, but she managed to push most of them off. 

This is the one prop that scared some children and brought one pre-teen to tears. Most of my gruesome and scary stuff was at the back of the graveyard so that parents could bring their little ones to the front door, but there was just nowhere else to put her. She was sound or motion activated, so sometimes she didn't go off, but unfortunately with excited little ToTs yelling and running around, she was set in motion at a couple of inopportune times.

We had lots of Trick-or-Treaters come around, but there was no way to count them all. Some came while I was trying to turn on lights and light candles, and then some came back later when it was dark just to walk around and look at the props. I dressed in old scrubs and zombied up my face, slung a stethoscope around my neck and became Zombie Nurse. Even the kids got what I was. I was having such a good time, I just sat out on the porch steps awhile and watched.

I have a rule that most of the neighborhood knows now. All ToTs are welcome, no matter the age, but you must be dressed up in some way, even if it's only a mask. Costumers get a handful of candy, no matter how big or little you are. But if you come to my house, enjoy my efforts, but don't make any effort of your own, you get only ONE piece of candy. That's begging; expecting something for nothing, in my book.

What can I say? I'm a Conservative. (And that is most likely the only political statement you'll ever see on this blog. I don't beat people over the head with my views.)

Most of the visitors were done by 8:30 pm. It was a school night, after all. I still had the porch light on and the front door open, and was sitting down at the computer, when I heard a noise on the porch. I turned around, and their, staring at me through the storm door, was Michael Meyers! He was tall, dressed in the correct mask and dark clothing, was all alone, and never spoke a word. I swear, he 'bout scared the snot out of me! 

Serves me right, huh?

I shut everything down after that.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

Two weeks ago, on a beautiful Saturday morning, I decided to go buy my pumpkins. Rumor was there was a pumpkin shortage this year and I wanted to get mine "early".  This was a popular idea. Half of Hendersonville must have been out driving as well as the annual leaf peepers. 

I checked out several places, but Grandad's Apple Farm had the most pumpkins, and therefore, the best prices.

In addition, they had a barbecue stand going, a corn maze (that I found out about later), a huge dinosaur statue that all the kids wanted to climb and all the parents wanted as a backdrop for pictures, and two little goats and a llama you could feed by trickling 25-cent handsful of grain down a long trough.

 I appreciated the invitation below, but just didn't feel like maneuvering through the crowds. I like to take my time and look for weird  shapes or pumpkins with smooth surfaces for carving.

So I left, and came back the following Fri. morning, when I picked out 4 large pumpkins and 8 mid-sized ones for only $40.00.

Guess what I'm doing tonight?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


 See what hubby bought me from Cracker Barrel?

It screeches and groans on the hour.  I'm still not used to it and sometimes, late at night, when I'm indulging in a scary movie, it creeps me out.  Love it.

For those of you who have asked, YES! I am doing Hallowe'en this year!

More info (and pictures) in a day or so.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Autumn Sunrise

I got off work a little earlier than usual Monday morning, so I sat in my car a few minutes and waited. It was a partly cloudy morning, which generally means a colorful sunrise, and I was not disappointed.

I moved my car to a different part of the parking lot so I could get less obstructed views.

People were coming in and trying to park, so I turned to get back into my truck, and saw the first rays of the sun tip the trees on the hills behind me.

Then the clouds moved all the way in and the sun disappeared again and I went home to bed.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Autumn in My Little Corner of the World

It started the last week of September...

....and this is my world now:

I know I say this every year, but fall is my favorite season, and I'm so glad I live here now.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

End of an Era

Back in late July, I had the privilege of caring for the husband of the couple who own the closest local quilt shop.  (There was another one just a couple miles further, but they relocated about a year ago.) They have an unusual last name, but clueless me didn't make the connection until the off-going day nurse mentioned I would probably get along well with the wife, as she had lots of quilty stuff with her, and hmmm, she thinks they own a quilt shop. Duh.

I'm just one of many customers, and not a regular, so she didn't know me of course, but we talked quilting and about her daughter and son-in-law, (who service Berninas and used to live in my neighborhood) and cruising. When this couple lived in Florida, they used to arrange cruises for folks--didn't understand that part entirely--and we discussed cruise lines, etc. All in all, a pleasant case and I was able to get him comfortable enough to sleep through the night. I was off work the next two nights and when I came back, he was gone, so I assumed he'd gone on home.

On Thurs. before the trip, I dropped my Bernina off at the shop to be cleaned and oiled and serviced while I was gone, as I hadn't had this done since buying it second hand 3 years ago. It was then I learned that David had died! Seems he was diagnosed with stage IV cancer the day after I took care of him, was transferred to the hospital in Asheville, and died 2 weeks later. I was shocked--I'd had no idea. I dashed off a sympathy note to his wife and dropped it in the mail the next morning.

A few days after I returned (and could manage not to sneeze my head off!), I picked up my machine, which had been serviced by Pete Bonesteel, husband of Georgia Bonesteel, of lap quilting fame (!)  The family was still recovering from the loss.  I renewed my 20/20 membership there ($20/year for 20% off all non-sale items all year long) when I paid for the machine.  The next week, I dropped by the shop in search of some more blacks for some Hallowe'en wall hangings I've started. Usually I just get a few fat quarters, but I was having trouble finding many. While searching, I heard a customer ask didn't the shop carry something-or-other, and the shop gal said they usually did, but they were in the middle of a going-out-of-business sale and didn't have any more. Clueless me again--I whipped my head around, and noticed for the first time how empty all the shelves were looking. There were sale signs on all the Horn tables, most of the notions had disappeared, and the long-arm machine was gone out of the shop. None of this was present 5 days before, so the decision had to have been made over the weekend. I'm assuming the shop help got first dibs on items in the shop, because they hadn't advertised the sale and there were no signs outside.
I guess the shop must have been too much for one person to handle, so she decided to just close down.  The signs stated everything was 40% off if you paid by check or card, and 50% off if you paid by cash.  So the next day I came back in with some of my pocket savings and loaded up. I felt like a darned vulture, but told myself she needed the money and I "needed" the fabric, and that's just life.

I loaded up on solids, and fabrics that "read as solids", and some that will coordinate with some rose fabrics I intend to put together later this winter. I also needed more kid fabrics, as I'd like to make some I Spy quilts for my great-nephews.

Grand total before discount: $198.00. And mostly in fat quarters, with a little yardage thrown in, as minimum cuts were one yard. With taxes and discount, $101.06.  And that included 2 cute little jack-o-lantern candleholders I couldn't pass up. All that fabric has been washed and dried, and about 1/2 of it has been ironed and put away. The rest is still piled up on the cutting table, ready for another marathon ironing session, but heaven knows where I'm going to store it.  I am running out of room.

I drove by there the first week of October. The shop is empty, dark, and no signage even to show it was ever there. So very sad. I wish his family the best.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Final Cruise Day

I almost forgot the rest of Fri. night.  Jack was tired, so he went back up to the room and to bed, while the rest of us went down to the Stardust Theater for a montage of Hollywood musicals. The closest bar was also taking orders for drinks--2 for the price of 1--but I don't drink often, so DD chose Bahama Mamas for us and by golly, that was pretty good!  lol!  Once the show was over, many of the crew members paraded across stage for us to meet and applaud. Herbert wasn't up there--I'm sure he was turning down beds and making towel origami animals for us all.

We still weren't ready to call it a night, so we decided to hit the chocoholic buffet. O.M.G. There were chocolate sculptures gracing offerings of brownies and fudges and cakes and pies and just about every form of chocolate you could imagine. I wish I'd thought to take pictures of it, because it was unbelievable! Three of the 4 of us were diabetics, but we decided to forget that little detail for an hour. The only thing I couldn't find was a chocolate/peanut butter combo of anything. Between the Bahama Mamas and chocolate, I went to bed a happy camper that night.

Saturday we weren't due into Victoria, BC until 6pm, so part of the day was spent sorting and packing what we could. It was an interesting system--we could choose what time we wanted to disembark, in 20-min. intervals, and place the corresponding color-coded tag on our luggage. Then we would place it outside the door by 11pm and it would all be taken to a central area for storage, to be unloaded the next morning at the dock. The hard part was trying to find room for all the stuff I'd bought on the trip; remember the $100.00 worth of fabric?  lol The suitcases were bulging, but I sure didn't want to overload myself with the carryons.

Sat. evening, we docked in Victoria, and were greeted at the pier by a welcoming committee whose speech ended with "God bless America and God save the Queen!" I'd forgotten for the moment that we would be in Canada, and would need our passports.


DD had decided to do a hop on/hop off excursion--a very informal tour on a bus throughout the city. She got to see part of the museum that we only heard about, but would love to see some day.  We trotted past it on our horse-drawn trolley ride.

That's our guide, Jan, and our Clydesdales, Dolly and Molly, who were voice-trained. If they picked up the pace too much, Jan would simply say, "We're walking ladies, we're walking", and the horses would slow down again.

Jan drove us past a house similar to one that sold recently for $499,000.00! 

Not much to look at, was it? I thought examples like this were only found in California or New York.
I would have loved to stop in at this little place:

Victoria was a pretty little town, and very tourist-oriented. Passersby would wave and call out a greeting, and wait patiently for our little trolley to clear the intersection.

We passed a "state building", though I forget what the actual title was.  It was gorgeous, with a fountain in the middle and people just hanging out on the lawn. I would expect more security, but maybe the inside was well guarded. Or maybe that's just an American thing. I just didn't expect it to be so accessible.

The building faced the harbor, and perpendicular to that was the Queen's Hotel. It was also lovely:

We passed some parks that I would have loved to explore.

This one had a huge water pitcher playground for the kidlets:

There were peacocks strolling the grounds, too, but the best I got was a blurred pic as we trotted by.  (Molly and Dolly were feeling a bit frisky.)

Looking across the Strait towards Port Angeles, WA.  Twilight, anyone?

It was only an hour excursion, so within minutes we were back at the busy pier.

If we'd been a little less mobility-challenged, I would have loved to tour the Butchart Gardens, but there just wasn't an excursion that fit us. Next time, if there is a next time, I'll research non-cruise line excursions to see if there is some way to tour the Gardens.

As it was, I could feel a cold starting, and was just as content to go back to the ship, eat supper and finish the packing. Herbert, who had placed various origami towel creations on our bed this week (swan, puppy dog, penguin, monkey--we missed the elephant) had left a towel heart with a sweet note in the middle thanking us for being such nice passengers. I'm sure that was what he told all his customers, but it was a nice touch. Jack's back was really bothering him, so we persuaded DD to give up her firmer sofa bed for him and sleep in the queen-sized bed with me. Unfortunately, he was the only one who got much sleep. Between his snoring and my sneezing and coughing, DD didn't rest well, either. I'm sure if we ever do this again, DD will want her own room!

We were supposed to be out of our staterooms by 9am. DD didn't read that part of the daily newsletter, so she was a little miffed that I'd set the alarm clock so early, but as it was, we still didn't have time to get breakfast--again. My brother and his wife left early, but due to the weather pattern, part of their flight was cancelled, so their airlines put them up in a hotel in Vegas (!) and flew them the rest of the way home on Mon.  DD couldn't find a good combo of flights for herself, so she'd chosen to spend the night in WA and fly out the next day. I wish we'd done that.  The airport was so crowded, we couldn't get a wheelchair pusher, and getting through Security was a PITA. One of the gals at the ticket desk told us it is this way every Sunday during cruise season--not enough wheelchairs or pushers.  (Just warning you!)

I'm sure I was the most popular person on board the plane, what with all the coughing and sneezing. I offered to wear a mask, but the flight attendant said they didn't carry any. Seems like that would be a handy item to add to their stock, with the close quarters and re-circulated air. So I utilized my hand sanitizer and the tissues as much as possible, but I have to wonder how many of my co-travelers came down with a cold the next day. I apologize if you were on my flight!

We touched down to a warm, humid night in Charlotte--such a change from the week's 50s highs. Airport assistance was at a minimum, I couldn't remember where I parked, and I'd lost the parking receipt sometime during the week. The lack of sleep and my cold really did a number on my head, so halfway home, we pulled off at an exit and Jack drove the rest of the way. We brought in just enough baggage to find our meds and toothbrushes and gratefully collapsed into bed about 1:30 am.

Looking back, I'm so glad we went when we did. Parts of the trip were really hard, and I don't think Jack would have been able to do this if we'd waited another few years. Despite all that, we saw some amazing scenery, experienced things we'd never have the opportunity to do here, took far too few pictures, and made some wonderful memories.

I'd do it again in a heartbeat.