Sunday, December 30, 2007

There Is No Place Like Home

It's about 850 miles from our house to Kerry's family in Burlington, WA. While we are both glad we did not fly, it still is a long way; especially on the way home when all you want is to be home. We both felt like kids at Christmas waiting for Santa to arrive. The photo is of Mt. Shasta in northern California. It's taken from a gas station in Weed. Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen are the tail end of the Cascade Mountains.

The good news is a that we did not need the chains that Kerry purchased for his Honda Element. That means he can return them and get his money back. We sort of have this driving thing down pat. The night before we leave we have Chinese take out. The leftovers go with us the next day so we don't have to spend much time (or money) having lunch. This time we heated them in the microwave until they were really hot, wrapped them in a beach towel and then put them in the insulated cooler/warmer.

As usual, the trip to Gary and Susan's (that's where we stayed) included so much food that I may not have to eat for a week. Highlights of the food were:
+ Susan's homemade caramels (they melt in your mouth);
+fresh crab cocktail and clam chowder for Christmas Eve dinner;
+ real fruitcake complete with green cherries (made by a friend; I was the only person who ate);
+ Banana cream pie, chocolate cream pie, apple pie, and cherry pie made by Millie, the family baker (I combined banana cream and chocolate);
+ Gary's special breakfast of pancakes made from scratch, fried eggs (over easy) and bacon;
+ no bowling, but still Mexican food at Esteban's in Anacortes;
+ two pretty decent meals at Applebees (quesadilla burger);
+ homemade peanut brittle; and
+pomegranate martinis (Oprah's recipe) before Christmas dinner.

The other fabulous part of the trip was my visit to three fabric stores. I came back with two large bags full of wonderful fabric for future quilts. One place I went had remnants by the pound. I bought 1.6 pounds at $4 per pound. The highlight of the trip was Fabric Depot in southeastern Portland. I have never seen so much quilting fabric under one roof. The store covers 1.5 acres. If you are so inclined, go to Amazing place!

Last night we stayed in Medford, Oregon at the Windmill Inn. We expected snow over the Siskiyou Pass but woke to sunshine so hurried through showers and breakfast so we could get on the road. We stopped in Williams, CA for pasta at Louis Cairos. This restaurant is a legend along I-5. We had the Louis garlic bread. That's what they are famous for; the bread is smothered with garlic pieces that have been cooked in butter. The many pieces of garlic that fell off the bread were added to my penne pasta in a pesto sauce which I brought home for this evening's dinner. I can hardly wait. Kerry has leftovers too.

So what does tomorrow bring? Certainly a more austere food menu and time on the treadmill. Dorothy was right, there is no place like home.
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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Introducing Guest Blogger Doug And His Wonderful Story

Doug is my friend who travels around in his turtle (aka camper) with his wonderful border collie Kate. He sent me this today. It's the story of how he spent his Christmas in Portland, Oregon.

First I am sending this to you, not to have you think, hey Doug is a good guy, but to share my Christmas day experience with you. This is in the inner city, Portland, Oregon, but it could have been in Louisville, Tampa, San Diego. Away from the suburbs where you and I grew up. The people, I met today, may have known life in the burbs at one time, but not now. Of the men I saw today, many were my age, Vietnam vets. Some could have been in 41's war, a couple could have been in 43's war. In the meeting in the kitchen before dinner was served, Justin, the big fellow in the blue shirt told us. "Don't be surprised if someone cusses at you. Don't take it personally, they may be drunk, on drugs, you don't know, just don't let it get to you, smile and wish everyone a Merry Christmas". Justin asked if anyone would mind if he said a prayer, a short prayer, if that would be OK? We all held hands and he said a prayer for the people we were about to serve their Christmas meal. He asked God to bless the food, to look after these men and women" and at the end, "to watch over the group who had come to help today." Everyone responded "amen."

I arrived around noon and was told there was nothing to do for a couple of hours. I watched and listened, Closed my eyes a couple of time but mostly just observed. I had decided to volunteer on Christmas day but set out to find a location only a few days before the 25th. Several phone calls were made Monday morning, trying to find a shelter that would be serving a Christmas meal. Of the four I called, none were serving. One place gave me two other shelters to call. I decided the best approach would be to go there in person. I figured it would be harder to turn someone down in person, much easier to say no on the phone. The first shelter was in downtown Portland, next to the river. I parked across the street and walked past a group of men standing outside smoking cigarettes. Most of their personal belongings were in backpacks or black garbage bags. Inside I looked around and a fellow walked up to ask if he could help me. I asked about their need for volunteers; he said they had more than enough and while he appreciated my offer he just shook his head no. I was not needed.

We wished each other a Merry Christmas and I turned and left. I drove around and found the second shelter about a mile away. I walked in and sitting in a small cubicle were four men all in their thirties. Most in t-shirts and jeans. I was told the same thing, Thanks but we don't need more help. I just looked at this one guy and said "Jesus Christ, I really want to work", "I'll wash dishes, sweep, mop". I was not going to take no for an answer. That surprised the fellow, I guess most volunteers don't say things like that. "Be here at noon tomorrow, what's your name"? "Doug" I said, we shook hands and I left. I had gotten what I'd come for.

Justin asked if I could carve a turkey? "Sure, one of those things my father taught me when I was twelve". We all had jobs on the line. Everything was about ready. I could see Justin was looking, figuring. He said he had gotten enough for 75. We had a hundred. Justin said he needed a quick break and was going outside to smoke a "cancer stick". I made a remark about cigarettes and he turned and looked at me and said, "Cigarettes aren't bad, gave up heroin two years ago," he grinned. I shut up. An interesting man, probably in his late 30s, he'd been in that line outside the building a few years before. I asked him what he did when he wasn't running the kitchen. "Building a chopper" (motorcycle), he said his wife and daughter had been killed eighteen months ago, a head-on with a drunk. I shook my head "Motorcycles and working here keep me from going crazy."

Of the hundred or so homeless, only six or seven were women. When I was waiting to start my job a women came and sat at the table. I heard someone call her Mary. Mary had a sweet face but sad eyes, Bad dye job, red. Red was a popular color for the ladies today. She wore a parka, hiking boots and jeans. She asked someone if she could borrow their cell phone. We were sitting close enough that I could hear the conversation. She was calling her husband or boyfriend. She told him his brother had beating her up last night; she had 18 stitches in the back of her head and three in her knee when she had fallen down. The cops had come but the brother had told them she had a seizure and had fallen causing the injury. My take was she was bleeding pretty badly and he or someone call 911. After the ambulance had picked her up and taken her to the hospital, the brother trashed the tent where she was living and had thrown all her positions out in the rain. She told her husband/boyfriend the doctor had checked and the baby she was> carrying (pregnant) was OK. She was crying softly and asked when he was coming home. She then giggled, said she would be at the bus station to meet him, but not to look for a blond. "I dyed my hair red." I had a daisy stuck in a shirt pocket buttonhole, I gave it to her, she smiled said nothing just put it in her jacket pocket. These were but two of the hundred.

I'm sure there were a 98 more stories like Mary's and Justin's. Later when we were cleaning up, clearing off the tables, I noticed a very nice looking man, about 30 maybe 35, I asked him if he'd gotten enough to eat? He looked at me with cold eyes, but did not answer. I asked him a second time, again no response. I just wished him a Merry Christmas and moved to the next table. A man came up to me and said he had seen this fellow for two years now and he had never heard him speak to anyone.

There are times in all of our lives when we feel down, not loved, even forgotten. I have times like that, I think we all do, but I'm so lucky to be able to do and go as I choose. Guilty only volunteering once a year; yes I am. These people lead lives I/we know little or nothing about. Hopefully we never will be dealt a hand that has been handed to this segment of the population. As this Christmas day comes to a close, I hope you will take a minute and think about the men and women who live under bridges, in alleys, in boxes. I don't have an answer, I wish I did. I'm thankful for my friends, food and a nice camper where I can work, stay warm and get a peaceful nights sleep. Plus a sweet puppy to share my adventures.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Holidays To All My Blogging Friends

We leave tomorrow morning for our Christmas visit to Kerry's family in Burlington, WA. We are driving, which is actually a good thing. We get to bring our pillows. The airports are so stressful this time of year that I don't mind taking two days to get somewhere. At least at the end of the trip we are not stressed out. Plus there is a great fabric shop in Portland we are going to visit on our way.

We have chains for Kerry's Honda Element (it's four-wheel drive); it has better clearance than the Prius. Kerry even practiced putting the chains on. My job has been to check the weather, which up until a few hours ago was pretty rotten. We have to go through the Cascade/Siskiyou Mountains at the California/Oregon border. They have had some snow.

This Christmas feels different from others. First, Mark will not be home until Jan. 7th. I had one other Christmas when he wasn't here. He came home earlier in December; we went to Yosemite and had dinner at the Ahwahnee Lodge. That was really nice.

But this year, Mark is engaged (something I've wanted for so long for him); that certainly makes it different. That really is the best Christmas present I could get; my son has found someone who makes him very happy. Today I looked at a picture of me holding him in the hospital when he was just a day old and am amazed at how time has passed. It has been a joyous journey. I love being his mother.

My family, with the exception of my sister (she shops early so we have presents from her; it's not genetic because my brother and I don't) had what my brother refers to as our humanitarian Christmas. We gave money to charities designated by the person receiving the gift. I really liked doing that. None of us really need anything. Next year my sister will do the same with us.

That also meant that I never went to the mall; in fact, never set foot in a store to buy anything. Gift cards are the greatest invention and ordering them over the Internet is even better.

This week has been devoted to cutting, piecing and quilting as much as possible, because I won't be able to do it for 10 days. Yikes, I get nervous just thinking about it. I now have finished seven preemie quilts. I think all of this is somehow related to geometry; it was the only math class in high school that made sense to me. Quilting is all about putting shapes together. I'm looking forward to the classes I have in January, especially the one on applique.

Well Bloggers, it has been a joy to read about your lives during 2007. I am richer for the experience. We share a community that is far flung and diverse. Maybe someday we will all meet. Dykewife's graduation in June 2008 might be the right time to do it. We could sit in the front row, knit and cheer her on. Happy Holidays to you all.
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Monday, December 17, 2007

Miss Kate At Her Finest

My friend Doug just sent me an e-mail and included this picture of his border collie Kate. I just had to share it. She is so cute and so sweet. She did flunk herding school, but we don't hold that against here.
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Saturday, December 15, 2007

I've Been Tagged....

Blogauthor ( was the one who did it. The best part about the tagging is she included me in a group of artists. I hope my quilting will someday be a way for me to express myself; right now I'm just a learner. But I'm honored that she put me in that category.

So five little known facts about me. Here goes.
  1. A year after I graduated from college I went to Europe and got a job with the Overseas Weekly. It was a radical anti U.S. military newspaper based in Frankfurt, Germany and owned by two lesbians. I didn't know what that meant at the time. It was the Vietnam era with a whole lot of unrest among troops in Europe and elsewhere. We also had a Saigon edition and an office there. I was thrown off a lot of U.S. bases in Europe by base commanders who didn't like the questions I was asking. I also was the only female reporter on the staff which, for the most part, was former GIs who didn't want to go home after their Germany duty was completed. I learned more about life in the three years I worked there than I learned in college. The guys taught me to swear; they couldn't believe I had never done that. I also learned a few other things....
  2. I married and divorced my son's father twice; just call me a slow learner.
  3. My first job after college and before Europe was with Miller Publishing. I wrote for Hogfarm Management, Feedlot and Feedstuffs. Not very glamorous. It was the most sexist place I've ever worked.
  4. I competed in the Miss Robbinsdale (my hometown in Minnesota) pageant and didn't win, but it was fun to ride in the parade on the Fourth of July. My boyfriend Roger drove my convertible. I later learned he was gay but boy could he ever dance. My best friend at the time got to be a princess but not Miss Robbinsdale.
  5. I have had asthma since I was five; spent the next five years in and out of the hospital for at least two weeks at a time twice a year with pneumonia. Missed a lot of school but learned that reading was a great way to fill time when you are in an oxygen tent. I'm still an avid reader.

Reading back over them, I sound pretty boring.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Four Preemie Quilts Finished

They can't be larger than 22 x 24 inches so they are pretty fast things to make, but also good experience for a new quilter like myself. I like the idea of these things cheering up a family that has a baby that is struggling with the beginning of life. Mostly they are made from scraps of fabric in my stash. I'll take them to the guild meeting tomorrow night.
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Friday, December 07, 2007

This And That

On Wednesday evening, I had a great conversation with Julia's mom Kathy. From the moment she picked up the phone we clicked. So we are both Kathy's and seem to have some of the same penchants in life. And we are both wonderfully irreverent, which I really like. I don't think I'm going to have to "show up, shut up and wear beige."

Certainly we found out that we both can fill a conversation easily. We talked for about 90 minutes. I finally had to go because I was starving; not that it would hurt me to starve. She's two hours ahead and had eaten. Anyway, I'm looking forward to meeting her and her husband Bud. Don't know when that will be yet. But we've exchanged phone numbers and e-mails. No date yet for the wedding.

We had river otters on the lower pond (pictured here) on Tuesday morning. They stuck around for a long time. Even flattened some grass on the north bank so they could clean themselves and then play a bit before they went on to the next pond for their next meal. Our ponds rarely get fished so we like to see the otters. They take care of the fish overcrowding for a while.

I took a sewing classes on Wednesday. They came with my new machine. I took classes 1 and 2. I'll take 3 after the first of the year. Met some wonderful women in the class and learned a lot about my machine, which is a Janome. Several of us are quilters so we had a great time discussing our passion. Learned something new from one of them that I've already tried. Instead of pinning the backing to the batting and quilt top, you can use an adhesive spray. I tried it yesterday and was pleasantly surprised how quick and easy it was. Also makes it easier to machine quilt and doesn't gum up your machine needle.

Spent yesterday finishing up another preemie quilt for the neonatal intensive care unit at UC Davis hospital. I have three so far and hope to have another one done before the quilt guild meeting on Monday night. Takes no time at all to make something that can be no larger than 22x24 inches.

I thought our Red Hat Christmas progressive luncheon was today, but it's next Friday which I'm grateful for. I have too much to do to get ready for the 356 Porsche Club Christmas party tomorrow night plus I have a quilt meeting in the morning to start the block of the month. I've never done this before but thought I'd give it a try.

Last night I finally cleaned up my fabric stash. I had just been flinging fabric around as I looked for something; finally it was just a big heap behind my cutting table. I'm sure it will turn into a heap again, but for now I think I know where things are.

We are going wine tasting tonight at Lincoln Produce Market; some of my book group members are going to join us. Well, that's all for now. Almost forgot, we got 3.4 inches of rain yesterday. That really helps.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Happy Couple

Here they are again right after they got engaged. And on the right is the ring he gave her. It was his maternal grandmothers. I don't think I've ever seen my son this happy before. I'm going to call Julia's parents tonight and introduce myself.
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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I'm Going To Have A Daughter-In-Law

Yup, my son Mark popped the question today and she said yes. That's Julia in all the photos. Mark is the guy with the camera and the striped hat in the second photo and in the bottom one with his arm around her. He gave her his maternal grandmother's wedding ring, which she can get made into anything she wants.

They called this afternoon after the hike where they got engaged. I could hardly understand what they were saying because they were giggling so much. I got tears in my eyes. I've been waiting for her for a long time.

They had already talked to her mom. Julia told her that she wanted to get married tomorrow. She's the only daughter so her mom really wants to be able to enjoy the whole process of the wedding. Not sure she was excited about tomorrow. I just said I'd go along with whatever they decided. I told her the line about the mother of the groom's job: show up, shut up and wear beige. She said no way. I look terrible in beige.

So a grand adventure is about to begin for these two. It started this afternoon on a hike outside Albuquerque.

They will visit us in early January; I can hardly wait. Today I was planning on writing about spaghetti squash but somehow that doesn't seem very important right now.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Perfect Sunday: Wine, Good Friends And Quilts

Our friends Brad and Bruce came for bagels and coffee this morning on their way to Reno for a week of well...with Bruce and Brad who knows. They have been in a committed relationship for at least 35 years. I worked with Bruce at PG&E. They left for Reno and the Atlantis where they play the penny and nickel slots and know all the best food and drink bargains in the town.

Then we headed to Grass Valley to forage for clean food. Bought beef from the Briar Patch Co-op which carries the local beef from Nevada County Beef, and picked up a spaghetti squash for dinner tomorrow night.

Then on to Nevada City for the perfect combination: wine tasting and quilt viewing. Ann Sanderson, whose quilts are pictured here, was the artist showing at the winery. She does amazing fabric art which involves quilting but you don't put it on a bed. The fish I found on Google Images, but I just realized that I also took a photo of one of her pieces with my phone. Hopefully I can add that with an edit. I'm sending it now. Okay, it's there. I love the frog.

This is one of those one-things-lead-to-another stories. So, the food at the reception for the artist and the wine tasting were scrumptious. There was a cheese that Kerry and I both agreed was just the best. We found the woman who catered the food for the event. We asked her about the cheese we loved; she showed us the label and then told us about a new cheese shop in Nevada City where she had bought it.

She gave us directions and two blocks later we were standing in front of this beautiful blue and white Victorian building. The store has been open only two weeks but from the business we saw, she will be a success. We will travel an hour for her cheeses.

We found the cheese we wanted, Jean de Brie. It's a camenbert that is a triple cream cheese; it looks like butter. We bought it. Then we tasted some other cheese and bought it too; a wonderful goat cheese. We bought bread and then Kerry got two dried apricots one dipped in milk chocolate and the other in dark chocolate. We headed out the door in foodie heaven. Turns out they were actually closed but stayed open to help us.

This is something we find over and over again in the country. The clock does not rule your day. People are so friendly.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Good News

My friend Cathy came through her lumpectomy surgery very well. The doctor did not think it had spread, but they did send tissue for a biopsy just to be on the safe side. I now have her hospital number so tomorrow I'm going to call her. Thank you again for all your prayers. I'm sure they helped.

On another front, my son once again auditioned for the principle trumpet position with the Colorado Symphony in Denver; once again they did not choose anyone. He was one of the final three. I'm very proud of him for that, but I sure wish they would pick someone. This is the second time he's auditioned for them. He did much better this time.

A holiday letter arrived yesterday with some not so good news. Betty, my former boss, mentor and very good friend has cancer. She smoked for 52 years so I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise, but it really made me sad to think of what she has to go through now. She has been diagnosed with adenoid carcinoma.

She started chemo the day before Thanksgiving. I'm going to the Bay Area to visit her the day before her next chemo. That way she will feel about as good as it's going to get before they dose her again. She is a quilter so we can talk quilts endlessly. My quilting buddy Linda is in Mexico on vacation so I have no one to talk to about quilts except myself, which I do very well thank you.

She is being cared for at the UCSF Cancer Care Treatment Center in San Francisco. They are very good .

I guess we are not done praying yet.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Meet My New Sewing Machine

I've actually gotten it to sew. It looks a lot more complicated than it is. The top flips up; that's where the thread holder and bobbin winder are located. It's a little taller than my old one but much lighter in weight because it's all plastic. I get classes on how to use it. I'm going to take them; I learn much better when someone shows me how to do something. Although the manual is pretty good.

It was on sale; 40% off which brought the price down from $1100 to $700 plus tax. My limit that I wanted to spend was $700 so this worked out nicely. The saleswoman sat me down in front of a Bernina and told me she'd be right back. It was the most expensive machine in the store, $6,000. I quickly moved to another location and told her that I was not buying a Bernina.

Once I decided I really liked this one she still tried to move me up $400 to an adjacent Janome.

We took my old machine to the place that repaired it five weeks ago. I was getting ready to complain loudly when the manager of the store told me I had it on the wrong settings. I had fabric with me so he readjusted the settings and it sewed beautifully. This all occurred after I had purchased the new one. Oh well, every house needs two sewing machines. Now I have one to lend.
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Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Grinch Has Moved To Lincoln And He Broke My Sewing Machine

It is not working...AGAIN. One minute it was fine, the next it won't feed the fabric through. The feed dogs work just fine. Grrr!

I was in the middle of piecing a quilt block when it happened so now I am hand sewing the block together. Actually it's sort of fun to do it and think about the early quilters who had no choice but to hand sew. I'm sure that will wear off.

I had pledged fidelity to my ancient Sears Kenmore machine, but now I'm having second thoughts. I went on line to look at sewing machines on Consumer Reports. I'm going sewing machine shopping tomorrow in Sacramento. I'm going to a store that sells nothing but sewing machines and has reconditioned ones as well.

I'll get my old machine fixed and then just use it as a back up. I had decided to buy a new iron because the old one leaks water when I use the steam spray. Joann's fabric is having a sale on Rowenta irons so I may get one this week.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Prayers And Positive Energy Needed

The lovely young girl in the bottom right hand photo is my friend Cathy. We grew up together except that she got polio and ended up in that chair. Now she scoots around Phoenix in a bright red scooter, very cool. As if polio wasn't enough, now she has breast cancer. She's been through all the tests and on Monday, Nov. 26th she will have a lumpectomy on her left breast; ten days later she will start radiation treatment (the seed kind).

She called me this morning to tell me about it and to ask for my prayers. I agreed and then decided I should get the universe of bloggers involved. So whether you pray, send energy or just think good thoughts, she needs them starting this Monday morning.

This is sort of a double whammy because she will not be able to use her left arm for ten days after the surgery. When your legs don't work you count on your arms to make up for them. So she will go to an extended care facility where her needs will be taken care of and she can heal until she can use her left arm. Good news is that her dog Buddy can visit and so can her husband Ray.

The dorky looking girl standing alone in two photos to the left is me. I look like I'm ready to enlist in one photo and practicing for my wedding day when I will cut the cake in the other one. The other photos are some of my friends in Robbinsdale, Minnesota probably around 1953. Notice the ugly wallpaper on our dining room walls. I remember it vividly. It was on all the walls. It was liking having a forest cave in on you if you were in the room too long.
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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Palm Desert And Carnegie Hall

There is a relationship between the two. I was in Palm Desert when Mark told me that he will play with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall on Friday, Feb. 15, 2008. I know, it's a pretty feeble connection. I am so happy for him and so very proud.

Several years ago I bought him a T-shirt that said "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" The answer on the back said, "practice, practice, practice." Well he did and he's going.

He auditioned for a spot with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra last year, came in second and has been called periodically ever since to substitute or play when there are additional trumpets needed for a piece. Two weeks before Carnegie Hall he will play the same program in St. Louis.

He hates it when I brag about him so when he reads this he will probably not be really happy. But, why have children if you can't brag.

Palm Desert was very relaxing. One day I spent the whole afternoon in bed watching a show about the "juiciest Hollywood couples of the year." It was so trashy but I loved every minute of it.

I did get quite exercised each night as I sat on the patio and watched the sprinklers turn on on the golf course in front of our villa (condo). This is the time of year when they reseed both courses. That means they water a lot. It just irks me that no one there thinks about it what they are doing to the Colorado River. I never saw a single purple pipe the whole time I was there. Waste water would be just fine for their precious grass.

I managed to not eat any beef the entire week. Kerry succumbed the last night we ate out but he only ate half of a very small steak. I just ate fish, a bit of chicken, cheese and salad and was just fine. One of the best dinners I had was a tamale stuffed with goat cheese and smothered in cheese and tomato sauce. The sweet tamale was perfect with the tart goat cheese.

The drive back and forth (533 miles each way) was uneventful and boring. The Prius got about 47 mpg, but we were driving 75 most of the time or it would have been better. I need to have my tire pressure checked again. You get better mileage when the pressure is up around 40.

We went to a quilt shop in Palm Desert; I was going through fabric withdrawal. Great shop. I bought some fabric, learned an important trick for keeping the quilt backing from wrinkling and got a nifty new tool to help me pin the quilt for quilting without destroying my fingers. Plus Susan found some beautiful fabric that she bought for a Thanksgiving table cloth.

Tomorrow I get my real crown for my mangled tooth. I got my Visa bill today. It would have been a whole lot less if I hadn't had that Tootsie Pop.
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Thursday, November 08, 2007

When Is A Desert Not A Desert?

Answer: in Palm Springs, CA. All the water you see in the photo is from the Colorado River. This is one of several reasons why the Colorado River is in danger. It's the Marriott Springs Resort in Palm Desert.

This is where we will be staying starting on Saturday night for seven days. The family timeshare is not in the hotel proper but is on the grounds of the hotel. It's a condo-type arrangement.

I'm always outraged at how the area around Palm Springs makes use of water. This hotel has a lake in the lobby! If you are staying at the hotel, you can take a boat from the lobby to some of the rooms and the restaurant. It's a big enough boat to carry life jackets plus it has to be inspected by the Coast Guard. As the boat leaves the lobby dock, two very large glass doors open and the boat passes out into the sunshine.

The timeshare is something that Kerry's dad bought several years before he died. Now the family enjoys it in November and February each year. Very laid back; lots of good food and company. I may not get a chance to post but I will be thinking about all of you...right.
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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Food, Glorious Food

We are having BLTs tonight for dinner. All the ingredients are within the 100-mile diet, except for the lettuce and the mayo. I know the lettuce is from California. The mayo is Best Foods.

Yesterday I got the bacon at the Farmers's Market from Bob at Coffee Pot Ranch in nearby Sheridan. The tomatoes are from Mulberry Lane Organic Farm ,which is across the field from me and the bread is from a small Roseville bakery which is not far away. I don't know where the wheat was grown. Kerry likes to have an egg on his BLT. Those are from our neighbor Mulberry Lane Organic Farm.

When we read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and discovered some things that we didn't like about mass-produced food we sort of talked about trying to eat differently. Slowly over time I've taken on the role of foraging for food. Not in the sense that cavemen and women did but in the sense that your supermarket does not have everything that is good for you. You search for what is good for you and in the process meet all kinds of wonderful people.

I never thought I would be this way. To me food has always been comfort; I didn't care where it came from as long as it filled me up. That has changed. Today I stood in line at Starbucks, gazed at the sweets and then just ordered a latte. I know, I know Starbucks is not everyone's favorite. But when you live where I live and want coffee you know that at Starbucks it has not been sitting on the burner for hours, you go for what you can count on...Starbucks.

Last night we had steak from a nearby rancher in Nevada County; it was delicious. The vegetables (three types of zucchini and tiny Japanese eggplant and onions) were from a local organic farm.

I'm sorry if I'm boring you with all of this, but I just feel like I have discovered food all over again. Just like "Oliver" said, it's food, glorious food.
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Sunday, November 04, 2007

An Iris Blooms In November

I've never had one bloom this time of year; it's one of the ones I transplanted because they were getting too crowded, which limits their blooming. I moved the rhizome in early September and here we are two months later and it's blooming.

It's been a busy weekend. We went to buy our tickets for the Placer County Art Tour that we do each year. We got the map and headed out to one of our favorites, but the gate was closed. So then we decided to go to a nearby winery that we like: Fawnridge. It's small and unpretentious with nice people running it. The husband still has his day job teaching psychology at two community colleges. They were the ones who told us we were a week too early for the art tour. So we tasted and bought some delicious wines including a port that I'm going to use on a pork roast I'm fixing today.

A photographer from the Sacramento Bee was there; she was delighted to see tasters because she was hoping to get some photos in the tasting room. There is a brouhaha going on in this county about wineries and their tasting rooms. Most of them are small and you travel down, sometimes private, and usually dirt roads to reach the tasting rooms. The county has written an ordinance that would restrict the operation of tasting rooms during most of the year. It's 18 pages long. Nevada County, which is right next to Placer, has a one-page ordinance. Anyway the Sacramento Bee is doing a story on this and wanted to have pictures at a small winery's tasting room. We obliged. I was ready for a nap after tasting wine at noon. The winery web site is:

The Fawnridge winery owners also told us about the "100-mile diet" during the course of our conversation about the importance of buying wine locally. No, you don't have to walk 100 miles but you do try to make sure the food you buy was grown and produced within a 100-miles radius of your home. It's a great way to reduce carbon. The web site is: The web site allows you to put in your zip code so you get a map of what 100 miles looks like for you. Ours includes San Francisco. The couple who wrote the book live in Vancouver, B.C. so the web site can handle Canadian postal codes.

Thanks to them I've discovered more sources of locally grown meat and vegetables. My favorite place is Flying Mule Farm. They actually farm the old-fashioned way with mules. The farm raises goats, lamb and vegetables. In addition I found a farmer's market that stays open all year in nearby Auburn. It's a lot more fun to shop this way. My Prius produces less carbon than those huge semi trailer trucks that deliver to big grocery store chains.

Today, I just got off the treadmill and am going to spend the rest of the day quilting. It's 80 here today.
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Thursday, November 01, 2007

My Only Trick Or Treater

came to me on his mother's blog this morning. Max unfortunately decided he didn't want to go outside so there is a limited showing of his fantastic costume, which his mother made. Max is my sister's grandbaby; he lives in Minneapolis with mom, Minna, and dad, Michael.

We've never had trick or treaters at this house; we are too far off the road and the houses are too far apart. Kids go into town so they can get a lot of stuff in a short distance.

But every year we are prepared. The first few years we had a bag of bubble gum. That finally got so hard that no one's teeth could have survived biting into them. So Tuesday Kerry bought a new bag of bubble gum. After my expensive tootsie pop you can bet I'm not going near bubble gum.

My brother reported an interesting thing at Don's funeral on Tuesday. In Kentucky, where it took place, you can still smoke anywhere you want. The funeral home had ashtrays with their name and logo on them. And the ashtrays were being used. All sorts of ways to drum up business.

Well, that's all folks. The weather is warm and sunny here. My iris is even further along in the blooming process. I'll post a picture when it's open.
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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Another Quilting Project

This time I'm entering a contest; it's called a "challenge quilt." My quilt guild has one of these challenges each year at its February quilt show. You pay $10 and for that you receive a half yard of two different fabrics that you have to use in the quilt. This year's theme is Mardi Gras on the farm. One of the fabrics has the wild looking roosters; the other was the smaller colored blocks. I added the more normal type farm buildings and animals. The block is a variation on the Tic-Tac-Toe block. I got purple for the sashing and have ordered some fabric for a border from a company in New Jersey. The fabric has more of a human Mardi Gras theme. I'm also going to add some feathers here and there. We have to turn them into the guild by February 1. The members vote on them at the meeting that month. All the "challenge quilts" are displayed at the big quilt show the end of February with the first, second and third place winners in a special area.

I figured this was a way for a newbie quilter like me to get something in the show. Right now it measures 32 inches by 21 inches. It will get a bit bigger with the border and binding.

It's another beautiful day here so I'm going to fertilize my bulbs. I have an iris that is starting to bloom. It's one I transplanted; I guess it likes the new location.
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Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Death In The Family

These wonderful people became part of our family on July 4, 2004 when Charlotte, on the left, married my baby brother Richard. Her mother Nan is on the right and her baby brother Don is in the middle. Don died last night in a group home at the age of 48. His mother loved him dearly despite the problems he had dealing with life.
I never met him; he almost came to Richard and Charlotte's wedding but then decided it would be too much for him. I like this picture because of the look on Don's face. He's got his arm around his mom and that's all he needs to be happy. I'm not sure how he got to a group home, but that was where he spent the majority of his life.
My brother, who is the wordsmith in the family, wrote a wonderful eulogy for Don on his blog. Visit I stole the picture from there. Richard and Charlotte are in the air as I write on there way to Cincinnati to prepare for Don's funeral. In the end cigarettes did him in.
This is someone who never really had a chance; he had a family who loved him dearly but despite that there was something that kept him divided from the rest of society. He lived in his own cloistered and troubled world.
He will be laid to rest in the family cemetery in London, Kentucky. He went there a few months ago with his mom and picked out the place he wanted to be buried; right next to his dad. The family knew he was dying; his lungs were simply giving out. It happened on a Friday night about 10 p.m. The staff checked on him and he was fine, 15 minutes later they came back and he was dead. It was a quiet death; his roommate was not awakened by it. He deserved so much more in life, but at least he had a peaceful death. I hope all of you will say a prayer for Don and his family. Nan shouldn't have to see one of her children die. Children are supposed to outlive their parents.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Very Expensive Tootsie Pop

I just got back from the dentist, and I'm still alive. Bless his heart he had nitrous oxide. Once we established my total fear of his drill he trotted it out and I slipped into a blissful state of relaxation. He's also really good with the Novocaine needle. I didn't feel a thing. He drilled the old tooth down to a nub, put on a temporary crown and charged me $945. I get the real thing on Nov. 19th. He did one thing I've never seen before; he gave me sunglasses to wear so the glare of the light wouldn't hurt my eyes. Turns out they are also safety glasses. What a nice idea. So I'm heading out to my knitting group tonight for good conversation, an occasional bit of knitting, good food and some wine.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I'll Never Eat A Tootsie Pop Again

Here's the completed quilt hanging on the wall between our bedroom on the right and our sitting room on the left. I bound it with the red fabric that is in the quilt; Kerry got a piece of bamboo from our bamboo grove and we hung it on the wall. I sewed a sleeve to the back of the quilt through which the bamboo pole passes. I know you have seen it many times in many different stages, but now it's finally done. That's Nora in the lower right hand corner.

Now for the Tootsie Pop. We ate at Lucille's last night. It's a rib place that offers you Tootsie Pops as you go out the door. I took one, ripped off the wrapper and proceeded to suck on it. It was grape. I thought to myself just suck slowly, no need to break a tooth. Well, I did anyway. My upper right hand side molar is half gone. This is not the first time for me. I see my dentist on Thursday at 2 p.m. I am a big wimp when I go to the dentist. This is my new dentist, which means I've been there twice a year for the past four years but all I've needed is a cleaning.

My old dentist in Lafayette who took care of my teeth for 31 years always gave me nitrous oxide when I had crowns done. If this guy doesn't use it I will be tempted to drive for two hours to my old dentist.

In the meantime, I am wearing my retainer which encloses all my upper teeth. That way my tongue doesn't keep running into the ragged edge of the tooth remains and I can eat and drink without pain.
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Sunday, October 21, 2007

My Latest Quilt...Sorta

The quilt guild that I now belong to is having a quilt show at the end of February. They need lots of signs that tell people not to touch the quilts on display. I took home the white sign in the middle and created the rest around it. I think I'm going to get another one. I've never started from scratch, especially with something in the middle whose size I couldn't control. I need the practice.

Halloween is a great time to be searching for scary fabric. I'm going to put a very somber gray binding around the whole thing.

My quilting buddy, Linda, and I took another class at Cabin Fever Quilt Shoppe last week. This one was about binding, which is the last step in making a quilt. I learned a great technique that really gives the quilt a nice look. I've now completed four quilts and done the correct binding on two of them. Like I've said before, it's a learning process.

Linda and I signed up for an applique class on Nov. 8. Right now she's running the flu clinic for the local Kaiser facility so she's sort of tired at the end of the day. The Nov. 8th class means she has to leave work early. I convinced her, rather easily, that it was the right thing to do. Then I don't take anything until Jan. 28 when I take hand quilting. Not sure Linda will join me.

Quilting seems to be consuming my life these days. I also got some bulb fertilizer and tulip bulbs. I have three good-sized pots that I'm going to put the bulbs in. The weather is beautiful right now; it's supposed to hit 82 on Wednesday.

I guess the quilting, I've been consumed by the "sturm und drang" of Creamy Silver's house purchase. I think her realtor should be horse whipped. That's all for now. Another wonderful week awaits me.
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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My Sewing Machine Is Home Again

And it works fabulously. The technician said it just needed some TLC which translates to cleaning and oiling, something we all need from time to time. I finished what I have to do for class tomorrow.

Today I actually didn't feel well for a while. First I was cold and then hot and then my stomach hurt. As soon as I found out my machine was ready, I was cured.

Kerry went with me because he is curious about sewing machines and where they fix them. I actually think that he could be a fabric artist. So no more prayers are needed, just kidding. The house is once again whole: a man, a woman, two cats and my sewing machine.

Class tomorrow is on quilt binding. We are making potholders as a way to learn. I can hardly wait. I pick up Linda at 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My Sewing Machine Is In The Hospital

Yes, it has to stay overnight. Here's what it looked like as I was preparing to put the case on so I could carry it to my car. The young man who looked it over said it could be fixed and I could pick it up Wednesday right before closing (7 p.m.). That means I still have another 24 hours until we will be reunited. Hopefully my manual will come by then so I can better understand the machine.

To compensate for my loss, I went to Joanns Fabrics, walked around and felt fabric. I did get the Insul-Bright for my binding class on Thursday. It's a type of batting that you use in pot holders, which is what we are making on Thursday evening when we perfect, or in my case learn, binding techniques. I got home and looked at the empty space on my sewing table and didn't quite know what to do. This should tell you just how hooked I am on this. It's not that I wanted to quilt this afternoon; with the machine gone I didn't have a choice, I couldn't.

So I took a short nap, wandered into my sewing room, discovered it had not magically re-appeared and then went back to bed to read a fiction book on quilting; the Elm Creek Quilt Camp series.

My quilting buddy Linda hasn't had much time for quilting because she's running the flu clinic at Kaiser in Lincoln. She's a retired R.N. and does this each year. The first day they had 500 but the second day they were swamped with 1,000.

I did buy a book of iron-on quilt labels so I think I'll spend tomorrow making some labels and coloring them so I'm ready to quilt again and finish a couple of quilts.
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Monday, October 15, 2007

Wedding Vows And A Calliope

My good friend Susan's daughter, Jennifer, was married last Saturday at the Amador Harvest Inn which is deep in the heart of the Amador County/Gold Country wine growing region. Jennifer, as you can tell, was a lovely bride. She married a young man named Paul who has a son, Jacob, by his first marriage. You could just tell that this couple plus Jacob are marked for success. When the couple exchanged rings they also had one for Jacob. He was so pumped up to have his own ring (he's in second grade).

The sun was out, the weather was warm, not too much of a breeze and lots of happy people. The rose petals you see behind the groom, well, there is a story behind them. Susan was appalled by how expensive rose petals were. All the rest of the flowers were silk, but because of the wildlife in the area anything you had on the ground had to be biodegradable. Susan bought $30 worth of rose petals and then set out to find the rest on her own. Any rose bush that looked like the petals were about to drop became fair game for Susan. I told her I would have joined her; we could have hit all the cemeteries in the area. She looked at me, smiled and said, "You were always so resourceful."

The family who owns the inn also owns Deaver Winery, which is right next door, so we had great wine with dinner.

Before I get to the calliope, one very important serendipitous thing happened. Kerry and I noticed a bunch of older Porsches in the parking lot of the winery. Kerry went to talk with the Porsche owners and discovered that they are a car;the owners have the kind of old Porsche that he has. Great discussion ensued; we are going to their monthly breakfast at Marie Callender just before we leave for Palm Desert next month for a week. These guys assured him they would come to the house, help him get it started and basically get us on the road so we can ride around in a very hot red convertible. I can hardly wait. He could get rid of the rest of his vehicles and just keep this one and I would be very happy. A Prius and a bright red (and newly painted) 1962 Porsche 356 convertible.

Now for the calliope; we stayed in nearby Sutter Creek for the wedding afterparty (pizza). Sunday morning we went in search of breakfast. The Days Inn had no trace of protein in its free breakfast so that wasn't good for diabetic Kerry. As we were coming out of the breakfast place in Sutter Creek we heard the sounds of a merry-go-round. There was a glorious calliope (sans merry-go-round) across the street that was thumping out some great polka music. There were two calliopes and three organ grinders in the downtown area. As with everything, there is a club for calliope owners. The one pictured was built in 1895 in Germany and then came to the U.S. at the turn of the century. It was part of a merry-go-round for many years until this couple bought it.

We got home Sunday afternoon and headed out for game night at 6 p.m. Being popular can be exhausting.

Today I couldn't get my sewing machine to work so early tomorrow we are heading for the doctor. I did manage to find a manual for my machine on line. It was listed under sewing machine relics (sigh). Hopefully the doctor can fix it up tomorrow because I have a class on Thursday evening with my quilting buddy Linda. I'll keep you posted on the health of the machine.
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Mighty Acorn, Al Gore and The Flattened World

Our remaining oak is a blue oak and this is an acorn from that tree. They don't put out acorns every year but this year they are putting out a bumper crop. Sometimes it sounds like popcorn popping in the microwave. I've been hit on the head a few times and they definitely hurt. If everyone of them became an oak tree we would have thousands of trees. They are very slow growing because they are drought resistant.

Now we come to Al Gore and the flattened world; if you voted for Bush in 2004 and consider him a good president, you might want to stop reading right now. But come back another time. I rarely get political.

Al Gore's new book "The Assault on Reason" is a real page turner or in our case a CD inserter. We listened to it on our trip to Washington.

New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani wrote in her review, "In 'The Assault on Reason' Al Gore excoriates George W. Bush, asserting that the president is 'out of touch with reality,' that his administration is so incompetent that it 'can't imagine its own way out of a horse show,' that it ignored 'clear warnings' about the terrorist threat before 9/11 and that it has made Americans less safe by 'stirring up a hornets' nest in Iraq, 'while using the language and politics of fear' to try to 'drive the public agenda without regard to the evidence, the facts or the public interest.'"

It is a truly scary book. Our constitution is being eroded on a daily basis by the Bush administration. Mr. Gore's central argument, according to the reviewer (I agree with her), is that "'reason, logic and truth seem to play a sharply diminished role in the way American now makes important decisions' and that the country's public discourse has become 'less focused and clear, less reasoned.'" This is the assault on reason.

Now for the next book, Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat, A Brief History of the 21st Century." He's a columnist for the New York Times. The reviewer in the New York Times for this book was Fareed Azkaria."The metaphor of a flat world, used by Friedman to describe the next phase of globalization, is ingenious. It came to him after hearing an Indian software executive explain how the world's economic playing field was being leveled. For a variety of reasons, what economists call 'barriers to entry' are being destroyed; today an individual or company anywhere can collaborate or compete globally." The first barrier was the fall of the Berlin wall. The book is a hard read so I highly recommend listening to it in small doses. One of the Friedman theories that I like best is that countries with McDonald's don't get involved in wars. It's shorthand for saying that countries who have a stake in the world economy don't want to mess it up by doing something stupid like going to war. Countries without McDonald's include Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Just so you know that I'm now becoming some intellectually elite snob, my next book is a murder mystery by Elizabeth George and then a book by Jennifer Chiaverini, "The Christmas Quilt." See I'm not a snob afterall.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

I Won Something; I Never Win Anything

Went to my first quilt guild meeting tonight and walked away with a Rowenta travel iron valued at $55. I bought $5 worth of raffle tickets and won. I almost left because my asthmas decided to rear its ugly head. I went over the the raffle table and asked the woman what would happen if I won but wasn't there. She asked why I had to leave. I told her I was having an asthma attack and didn't have my inhaler. "You use albuterol?" she asked. "Yup," I replied. "This is your lucky day, use mine," she said as she handed me her inhaler. That enabled me to stay until I'd won the iron. Now you have to love an organization where people will lend you their inhalers. I immediately went to the membership table and paid my $25 to join. I figured with the $5 plus the $25 I was already ahead plus I now know who else has an inhaler with them if I forget mine again.

There were 125 people at the meeting (two men, not to mention Hector who is a great quilter but is somewhat of a recluse so doesn't come to meetings). I got there 45 minutes early and was amazed to see a full parking lot at the church where they meet. Quilting is almost like a religion so why not meet at a church.

They have a section on the agenda called "show and tell." I was in awe of the quilts that people showed us. The speaker for the meeting was a woman known for her scrap quilts. That's code for someone who can't throw any scrap of fabric away and needs to do something with what she saves. The quilts she showed us were beautiful. She confessed that she never saves anything smaller than two square inches; but then her caveat was "unless it's a really interesting fabric."

I agreed to all kinds of things while I was there; people were so nice you just couldn't say no. I entered a contest with the theme of Mardi Gras on the farm. I got two fat quarters (that's another bit of quilting jargon; sort of reminds me of the French Quarter in New Orleans) and am supposed to make something out of them for display at the quilt show in February in Auburn. I have no idea what I will do. I also signed up to make a "Do Not Touch" mini quilt for the same quilt show. Everyone wants to touch the quilts so they hang these quilts between each quilt to discourage the fingering of fabric.

Also, as a member I have to make a name tag for myself by my third meeting or I have to pay 25 cents each meeting that I don't have one. I wish I'd had my camera so I could've taken pictures of all the name tags I saw tonight. I'm feeling creatively challenged and happy; very happy.

How many people in blog land think that I am hooked? Raise your hands, shout out "quilt block and walking foot" and than say amen. That's all from Lincoln, CA tonight.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

This is a walking foot; a strange name for a sewing machine foot that allows you to stitch in the ditch. This is what happens with any new craft; you have to learn the lingo.

The walking foot moves the fabric forward in sync with the feed dogs (sigh); those are the teeth in the plate under the needle. You probably aren't interested in the translation anyway. You just want to know why I'm showing you this foot. Well, I've gotten to the quilting part of my quilt. Until you put the quilt top (the pretty part), the batting and the backing (any old cotton) together and start to sew on them you don't have a quilt. To me this is the challenging part. Some folks just turn their quilt top, batting and backing over to professional quilters, but I didn't want to do that without trying it first.

I did the easy part, stitch in the ditch. Basically you just follow along as close to the seam as you can get. You start from the middle and work out. And you use safety pins rather than straight pins to hold the whole thing together.

The fancy part is called "free motion quilting." And I'm terribly intimated by it. It's the art in arts and craft. My Thursday class taught this technique; I've been practicing, but I'm certainly not ready to a do this to my quilt top. I'm going to work through this but it's going to take a lot of practice on muslin (it's hard for me to not write "Muslim"). At the fabric store I asked for a yard of Muslim. I'm sure I wasn't the first to do that.

Despite the age of my sewing machine (born 1976) I have been able to find all the attachments I need to quilt. For a nanosecond on Thursday I thought I might have to buy a new machine; then I found the quilting/darning foot. Does anyone remember darning socks. I do. I wonder what happened to my mother's egg.

I finally feel like we are back to our usual life; I got on the treadmill today after a 12 day absence. That's when I knew things were back to normal. Plus we are having leftovers tonight: meatloaf and potato salad that was leftover from the Red Hat Ladies barbecue.

The only thing that is not normal is Kerry's health. He had a blood test prior to our trip, but we didn't get the results until mid-trip. His platelet count is 24,000; at 20,000 doctors worry about bleeding out. You are supposed to have upwards of 250,000 platelets. This is the lowest his count has ever been. He's now having his blood tested every four weeks. Scares me to death. Also, his glucose level was over the top so now he's taking insulin pills. I'm much more worried than he is; that's my job in this relationship. He may have to go through another chemotherapy treatment for the platelet disorder (ITP). Until we figure that out we are not venturing very far from home.

I'm going to my first quilt guild meeting tomorrow night. My quilting buddy, Linda, is out of town so I'm going alone to scout it out.
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