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Archive for March, 2008

I read something the other day which stated that in my lifetime I would never see Easter Sunday come this early in the year again and that only those living, that were aged 95 years and older, have ever seen it this early before. That struck me for some reason; to realize that this was in fact a “once in a lifetime” occurance.

It also got me to thinking about Easters when I was growing up. I must admit that I don’t remember much about my childhood Easters. I suspect that we got together with my mother’s parents or other family friends, to have a meal. I remember the smell of Saffron Bread that my grandma used to make, not just for Easter. It was much like fruitcake but very light and yellow; the color came from the saffron. She never used a recipe but in her later years my mom took notes from her about how to make the bread. Unfortunately, like others of her generation, it was “a pinch of this” and “a handful of that”. Needless to say, the bread never came out the same; plus, it’s very difficult and expensive to buy saffron. On top of that, I think she used English saffron which is more difficult to locate.

I have found several photos of my sister and I dressed up in our Easter Sunday best…new dresses, cute hats, carrying our baskets. I suspect that my mom drove us to Sunday School and picked us up at the end of the service. She was very good about that, but I don’t remember her actually joining us in church.

I know that Easter used to be about the resurrection of Christ but I also know that it became about the Easter Bunny and colored eggs and baskets full of “stuff”. I loved this holiday when the kids were small. I never bought the pre-packaged baskets wrapped in cellophane and full of junk. I always enjoyed finding my own baskets and stuffing them full of my own junk! I tried to make each basket special and about the child, Wendy or Greg, that would wake up in the morning and find it. I would find all sorts of “special” things for the kids…stuffed animals, books, designer pencils and erasers, eggs filled with kisses or chocolate eggs or even $$$$. I actually continued the tradition even after they had both graduated and gone to college. Of course, the junk got more and more expensive. Finally, about the time Greg reached 30 and lived in another state and we didn’t always see each other on the holiday, I decided it was time to give it up. I felt kind of empty for the next couple of years with no baskets for the kids. Wendy still lives in the area but she seems to take the lack of a basket gracefully.

I’m not sure how the tradition started, maybe because the kids slept upstairs, but I would (I mean the EB would) leave a trail of jelly beans from their bedroom doors to their baskets, which were downstairs. That meant that on the night before Easter, the two dogs had to spend the night locked up so they couldn’t eat up all the candy during the night.

We always colored eggs, too. Living in Maine, the only time we could find white eggs was for Easter. At first, the colors were plain and simple but as time went on, they became more and more decorative and elaborate. First, there was the wax that made a design once the eggs were colored. Then came glitter and colors that swirled around the eggs. There was also some kind of punch-out costumes. Of course, it never failed, a dozen eggs were hidden but only eleven were found.

This was my 58th Easter Sunday and it was a good one. We prepared dinner at Bill’s house…spiral ham, sweet potatoes and green beans. My daughter, Wendy and her boyfriend, Dan came. They brought deviled eggs and a wonderful chocolate cheesecake with fresh strawberries and a strawberry sauce. Both of Bill’s boys came, Kris and Scott. The big surprise was that Bill’s grandson, Trevor, came also. He will be 3 in April. We didn’t know he was coming so we didn’t get to have a basket or hide eggs but that didn’t matter. It was just special that we were all together. After dinner we played Wii and everyone had a good time.

It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and it was warm in the glass room. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the wind had died down. It’s a mystery how many more Easter Sundays we will enjoy but we know, this was a “once in a lifetime” occurance in more ways than one.

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The weather has taken a turn to cold and very windy. The sun has been shining brightly; however, the wind chill makes it feel about 18*. BBBRRRRR! Yesterday Bill and I sat in the sun in the glass room for awhile in the afternoon. It feels soooo good; the sun warming the body and spirit. Another sunny, windy day today but not as cold.

I had the opportunity to sew for a few minutes today before taking a short nap. It was a sleepless night at work last night and I felt tired and drained. I finished the border on the “Birthday Quilt”, now it just needs the binding which is already cut and ironed. Where, oh where, have I put it for safekeeping?

I spent some time getting additional photos on my laptop and learning how to optimize them for posting. I have finally been able to include several photos of “My First Grandbaby’s quilt”.





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I managed to find a nice t-shirt in the closet this morning, just right for “my” holiday. Wild O’Hares Brew Pub, Dublin, Ireland. It’s always nice to have a reason to wear it.

It has been slow here, not getting much quilting done. Greg and Vanessa came to spend the weekend. We had a great time, played some board games and some Wii games. We each took a turn finding our Wii fitness age. Greg did very well, with Bill right behind him. The three girls, Vanessa, Wendy and I, didn’t do very well. Our scores will remain a secret.

I tried a new recipe on Friday night, Maple-Baked Apple Chicken, from the Fall 2005 issue of Food and Family. It turned out very well and seemed to be well-received. I served it with a spinach & orange salad, sweet potatoes and pistacchio cake for dessert. I have been doing very well on the South Beach Diet and managed to stay away from the Lindt chocolates. I only had 6 or so chips and dip. So far, so good…I think I’m down about 4-5 pounds. If the weather gets warm I can start walking again.

Speaking of weather…UGH!!! Will it every be warm again? We had more snow Friday night into Saturday morning, another couple of inches. That doesn’t sound like much but on top of the 100 inches we already have, enough already! Although the sun finally came out today and there isn’t a cloud in the sky, the temp is only 36* and it is very windy. I think the wind chill is about 28* BBBRRR. They are predicting another storm Wed. and Thurs. Oh Joy!!

Since I did my cleaning last week before company arrived, I’m sewing today. I have managed to finish the quilting on a small 30’s print wallhanging. Not sure what will happen to it but I’m happy with the way it turned out. Since I’m not able to attend the baby shower, I wrapped the quilt and gave it to G & V while they were here. It will need another label once she is born. They seemed happy with it and said she will be spending her “belly time” on it. (I’m still having trouble uploading photos, so I’ll add one later.)

It has been a delightful day with lots of sewing. I watched part of a Patsy Thompson video during lunch. I tried a couple of times to quilt a feather pattern in the corner of the “Birthday Gift” but ended up ripping it all out. Instead I’m just doing some free motion “squiggly squares” which are turning out okay. For the most part I have been using this wallhanging as a practice piece for my free motion quilting. Overall it is better than I anticipated.

Cooking up some popcorn for dinner (not exactly SBD fare) and watching Dancing with the Stars while doing more quilting. I may actually finish two pieces today.

**Didn’t finish the second piece because I ran out of thread.


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Yesterday I decided to break down and finally purchase a new Janome MC6600P machine. I have been wanting it for a couple of years but last year the money necessary for the purchase was used to replace the AC in my FL condo. Since the government is being so kind and sending me $600 to stimulate the economy, I did just that! Although my plan was to go to the shop and just look, again, Bill talked me into buying it Now! I think that was fortunate…I was told that the price is going up within the next couple of months, possibly as much as 20%. I also looked at the Nolting Fun Quilter on a New Joy frame. The machine and the frame are both metal which is an advantage as opposed to the plastic frames I have seen. It’s a starting point and I will continue to do research. The Machine Quilting Show is next month and there should be a number of dealers there with demos and other information.

I’m really excited. I know it’s not the longarm machine I want to own at some point but it does have a larger throat and that should make some of my quilting easier. It was so many features that I wasn’t even aware of that it was even more exciting than I anticipated. All I wanted to do last night was sit home and play with my new toy. Alas, I had agreed to cover one of my coworkers for the night shift. All I had time to do was drop off the machine at home and get ready for work. It was a 14 hour shift which ended with a fire in an abandoned 4 story mill building that came in at 0500. Luckily it was spotted early and we were able to extinguish it within an hour or so.

Today was Bill’s 59th birthday, mine is right around the corner. He wasn’t feeling that well and I didn’t get released from work until 0900. We met at AJ’s for coffee, went back to his place where he opened a couple of gifts and we watched a movie, Happy Feet. It was a Netflix rental, animated musical with an imbedded story about diversity as well as environmental protection. We had dinner at Mike’s Clam Shack so we could say hi to Jenna.

It has been pouring rain most of the afternoon and is forecast to last into the early morning hours. Thankfully it is not snow. We stopped by Wendy’s to feed the dogs and let them out. I also wanted to check the driveway and be sure I wasn’t going to have trouble getting in later. I’m spending the night sitting with the “grand dogs” as Wendy and Dan went snowboarding. They are so good when W&D aren’t here, especially Ginger, the problem “child”.

I finished the binding on my granddaughter’s quilt. I think it came out well and I’m really happy with it. I have also decided to order a blooming 9-patch kit from The Cotton Club. It is called Goldsun and includes blues, pale pinks and rust. That will probably be my first project on the new machine.

Other notes from this past week: Wendy and I had lunch together on Thursday at Back Street. She got off early because she already had 40 hours in and they aren’t allowed overtime. It’s always nice when we can spend some time together, just the two of us.

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I was hired by the fire department 23 1/2 years ago today. When I started my employment as a 10 hour/week ambulance billing clerk, my son was 8 and my daughter was 4. Never in my wildest dreams did it occur to me that I would become a fulltime firefighter and EMT and still be employed in 2008. My children will be 32 and 28 this year and I will be the ripe old age of 59. Wow!! Where did the last 20 plus years go?

My plan is to retire in September, 2009. It sounds much closer when I count 18 months rather than the number of shifts I have left to work, that number would be depressing. When it gets down to 12 months I’m going to make one of those construction paper chains so that I can pull off one piece after every unit I work. (A unit is four shifts, 2 days and 2 nights.)

Bill keeps telling me that we are going to have to talk about our retirement, that it’s going to be here before we know it and we won’t have any concrete plans if we don’t actually TALK about it. I think about it all the time but to actually sit down together and discuss our plans, to actually make a conscious decision to spend our retirement together…that’s scary! However, while sitting in the glass room in the sun over the weekend we did discuss some information listed in the new magazine about tax friendly retirement towns. There are so many issues to consider that is difficult to know where to begin.

W e have discussed renting a motor home for a year and driving around checking out different areas. The big drawback to that idea is the huge increase in fuel prices. I’m not sure that is a viable option any more. Plus, where can I put a longarm machine in a motor home? There is the idea of renting a place for several months in order to check out the area and see if it is someplace we want to spend more time. Do we want to buy a place and be strapped down with needing jobs in order to pay the mortgage. Kind of defeats the purpose of retiring, doesn’t it?

We both own places now and I have a condo in FL that is currently unrented and listed for sale. Should we sell one of the places in Maine and keep the other so that we can come here in the summer and have a place to stay. We aren’t even sure that we will be able to afford to stay in Maine in the summer.

Well, at least we started a discussion even though we didn’t make any decisions. We are going to Williamsburg the end of April. It was listed as the fourth best place to retire for tax advantages; however, there doesn’t seem to be any property for sale for less than $300,000. That’s way beyond our price range!

In quilt related news…I managed to sit at the machine around noon the other day. I got the binding sewed onto the baby quilt (lovingly title “First Grandbaby’s Quilt”) and finished the top of a small wallhanging made of hand dyed fabrics (alas, not dyed by me). “Fractals” I think the small one needs a larger border but haven’t decided for sure. I placed it on the design wall so that it can talk to me for awhile before I make up my mind. If I take the border off I’m going to use it as part of the backing. Hopefully I’ll get some photos posted one of these days.

The butterfly wallhanging for Greg and Vanessa still needs beadwork and crystals. I want to use clear glass beads for dew and I’ve done some google image searches in order to get the dewdrops on the plant just right.

I managed to finish quilting the triangles on the 30’s w/h.

Bill picked up a 6′ table for me at BJ’s. I’ve been mulling over whether or not I needed one or had room for one and I finally decided to just go for it and make it fit. After moving the other table a few inches one way and the chest of drawers a few inches the other way…Ta Da, it fit right in. Unfortunately, the special lights I had installed above the other small table are now in the wrong place. I’ll just have to make do. Plus, I have to get rid of that other small table, there just isn’t enough room in a two bedroom condo.

We are meeting Wendy & Dan at Back Street tonight after yoga and spinning for margaritas and nachos. Not a very weight/health conscious snack but it doesn’t happen very often. No snow today, temps were near 50 and it is starting to rain with colder temps overnight and icing. At least we won’t have to shovel! ;o)

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Friends

Yesterday was a day to spend time with some girlfriends. Su and I had breakfast at Aroma Joe’s (aka AJ’s) coffeehouse. Breakfast usually consists of a coffee roll or scone and coffee. It gives us a chance to share what’s been happening in our lives. We try to meet at least once a week but that doesn’t always happen. We can truly be ourselves with each other, sharing our deepest thoughts, hopes and fears, never worrying that it will go any further. There is never concern over whether we will be considered foolish or weak in some way.

Su is my closest friend in Maine. She lived across the street from me when I moved to the rural area of Shapleigh in 1980. Coming from the Denver area, it was quite a shock to me to live where there were only three other houses on the street that I could see. It was dark and quiet and it creeped me out for quite some time.

Anyway, Su and her husband lived across the street with two boys, Mike and Jamie. They were about the same age as Greg, one older and one younger. Su and I became fast friends right away. As it turned out, we divorced our husbands within months of each other. I’m not sure how either of us would have made it through the “crazy time” without one other. As close as we had been, we grew even closer to the point of feeling more like sisters than friends.

Su is my mentor. She was sewing a long time before I started and is extremely creative. She has always been there for me to bounce questions and ideas around with. She is a great cheerleader, always telling me I’m doing well and believing in me even when I don’t believe in myself.

Su was diagnosed with leukemia in November 2006. She takes numerous medications but is holding steady. What would I do without her?

From there I met Deb at her house and we took a trip to Keepsake Quilting. It is an amazing quilting shop in Center Harbor, NH with what must be thousands of bolts of fabric, notions, patterns…the whole nine yards. (no pun intended) I did very well and came home with only 1/2 yard of Funky Monkey fabric for the lap quilt I want to make for Greg and a red fat quarter for the Christmas package wallhanging. I also picked up a small hangar (7″) for the purple piece I made for Wendy’s bathroom.

We didn’t spend as much time there as either of us would have liked because I had a spinning class at the gym at 5:15. We stopped at McDonalds for a quick bite and were back to her house by 4:00.

Deb and I met one another shortly after we both became single. We were taking line dance lessons in South Sanford and hit it off right away. We continued to line dance and also started taking ballroom dancing lessons in Portland. We joked that we danced every night of the week except Sunday, which was date night. That was funny because neither of us ever had a date! We would have danced seven nights a week if possible.  Deb and I shared a “pinky-swear” that no man would ever enter our lives and come between us.  I think she held the promise better than I did.

Su and Deb have both remarried since our single days in the early 2000’s. They are both happy but truthfully, I believe that Bill is by far the nicest, most polite and caring man of the three…John, Marc and Bill. I, however, remain single, by choice.

Today I picked up my granddaughter’s quilt from Georgette. She said it was a beautiful quilt which I considered quite a compliment. I’m really happy with the way it turned out. The quilting pattern is rosy posy and I think it worked up very nicely. Hopefully tomorrow I will get the binding sewn on and maybe have the handwork done by Greg’s visit on the 15th. They are predicting up to another foot of snow tomorrow and Bill is working so I should be able to sew the entire day. I always say that and it’s 2 or 3 in the afternoon before I manage to sit at the machine. I’m going to make an effort tomorrow to spend most of the day sewing. I think I’ll get out the sunlight and light up my sewing area. Maybe that will push away the “snowing again blues”.

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