Saturday, December 24, 2011

Annual Holiday Letter

Solstice 2011

Dear Family & Friends –

“All is calm, all is bright.” These famous lyrics just about sums up my year, thank goodness!

The beginning of the year found me still in the healing process from events in 2010 and adjusting to my new life in Georgia. One bright day in February I woke up and thought, “Hey, I am a pretty happy woman!” That thought still is true today.

In January I adopted my second dog, Oliver. Found wandering my subdivision on a cold night between Christmas and New Year’s, Oliver was dirty and thin, but had a bright spirit. He joined Sam and me and they quickly became best doggie friends. Oliver (the brown dog in the photos) is around 4 years old and I’m pretty sure a pure bred Shih Tzu, but he might have a little mix of something else thrown in Oliver and Sam keep me entertained 24/7. Sam is smart and active. Oliver . . . well, let’s just say Oliver is pretty laid back!

Spring brought travel and guests. I spent Easter in Mesa, AZ visiting with my friend, Nancy and my sister, Linda. One highlight was meeting my second cousin, Nate, a student at Arizona State University. The last time I saw Nate he was about six weeks old. Obviously, he looks a little different! LOL He is a great young man. It was good to see his mom, Kay, too.

March brought Martha for a visit. Unfortunately, it rained her whole visit, but we had a good time despite the weather. April brought my friend, David, down for a week. David got a kick out of the “southern accent.” I was so happy to show him my new “digs.” In May my friend, Kate, came for a few days. We didn’t have much time, but enjoyed shopping in Blue Ridge and great conversation. So, a lot of sightseeing was packed in these visits! And, when each friend left my house felt very, very quiet.

In June I started working for the Sequoyah Regional Library System at the local branch as a Research Assistant. It is a fabulous part time job for me. I love working in a library, enjoy the patrons and my co-workers are great. I average 15-18 hours a week and the money has really come in handy. I am so fortunate to have this job. I love going to work!

Martha came down again in October. This time the weather cooperated and we enjoyed some hikes and the beautiful fall scenery in the mountains. I discovered some beautiful roads and areas to explore. She also gave me a book on hiking trails in northern Georgia so I expect her to visit again this spring and we will put the book to good use.

Thanksgiving brought Sally here for nine days. Amy joined us and a great Thanksgiving was spent with Suzanne, Marlon and Paul. I loved having them here. We had fun cooking and talking, and talking and talking. A couple of weeks later, gal pal, Miki, stopped in for a few hours while she was here at a work related meeting. Trying to catch up on a year is always difficult in such a short time and I hope next year when Miki comes down we have more time.

I am having fun doing activities with several MeetUp groups. We went horseback riding twice this year, something I didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I did. I am considering some lessons this spring. My monthly women’s book discussion group has led to some wonderful friendships. I just joined another women’s group via MeetUp, where once a month we meet at a restaurant in the greater Atlanta area. Another way to meet people and learn the area. I am also on my subdivision’s pool and grounds committee. I am fortunate to live in a subdivision with so many great neighbors. I love living here in my subdivision, town and state. Moving to Georgia was the best decision I ever made.

Winter Solstice will be spent having bunion removal surgery on my left foot. Not exactly the way I want to spend one of my favorite days. It is elective surgery, but one that has to be done. I expect to be in a “boot” for around four weeks and will miss two weeks of work.

Peace and gratitude are two words that come to mind when I think of 2011. So much gratitude. I hope your year was filled with the same. May the returning light of this most holy time of the year bring you peace and gratitude now and throughout the New Year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Autograph Quilt

Moving from my life long home of Milwaukee in 2010, I left a lot of friends behind.  But, some of my friends had already moved from Milwaukee long before me and over the years I have made friends in other states and countries, as well.

No matter where they are or where I am, I miss my friends.  I've made some great friends here in Georgia and I do not mean to sound like I am slighting them, but lately I've been missing people not only in Wisconsin, but all over.  Anne in Ireland, Beth in Florida, Nancy in Arizona, Nikki in California, Sally, Becky and Miki in Michigan. 

So, I decided to make an autograph quilt.  These quilts were probably originally made for people in pioneer days who left family to travel by covered wagon to the western states.  Love ones would sign scraps of fabric and these pieces would be put together and made into a quilt for the families leaving.  Chances were that you would never see these loved ones again and maybe never have any further communication with them.  These quilts were treasured as a way to remember family and friends.

Historically, another way autograph quilts were used was for fund raising.  Community groups would solicit famous people for their autographs and make autograph quilts to be raffled off to fund the building of schools or libraries.

Well, my quilt won't be that noble.  I just feel it would be a nice way to have my friends around me!

I went online to find an autograph quilt pattern and did find one I like.  It is a "star" pattern.  I decided on a black and white quilt.  The stars will either be black floral on a white background or white floral on a black background.  I might do a red inner border to make it pop.  The sample shows an inner border  with half square triangles as the outer border alternating the two floral fabrics.  It was also important to find fabric that I liked, but was not too flowery for the men who will be signing it!  I will make sure they get the darker fabric (see sample below).

I just started sending out quilt squares to my friends far and wide.  Along with  the squares are special quilt pens and a letter explaining the concept.  Hopefully, they will embrace the idea and honor me with their signatures, words, drawings or whatever they want to put on the little piece of material.  Many friends will not receive their square until after the holidays.  I don't want anything to get lost in the holiday mail frenzy or set aside by a friend who is too busy to sit down and complete their part of the project.

I was able to have my friend, Miki, sign a square when she was here a few weeks ago. I quickly sewed it into the first block!  One down, twenty-four more to go (more or less).  Several of my church ladies are meeting soon, so a bunch of squares were sent to Joanne and she will make sure they are signed and returned. 
Miki wishes me peace, love and happiness

This will be one of my many winter quilt projects.  I'm so looking forward to seeing what my friends write on the squares!  But, no matter what they write, I know that this will be the  best and most cherished quilt I will ever make.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fall Visitors

In October my gal pal, Martha, came to visit.  This time the weather cooperated and we spent a lot of time outside.  Did some hiking, saw some waterfalls and just had a very nice visit.  Martha bought me a book on the hiking trails of north Georgia.  It's a hint!  Hopefully, she will be back down in spring and we will put the book to good use!

Martha & me.
 November brought Sally.  Returning from Puerto Rico where she had been caring for her mother for six months, she spent the first couple days resting.  That's OK - I had to work and I came home to wonderful meals!  Amy joined us on Tuesday and we all spent Thanksgiving with my sister, brother-in-law and nephew. 

Amy, me and Sally, Thanksgiving 2011
The following weekend brought Miki for a 4-hour visit.  Miki was down for a work related conference and she stopped in for a much too short visit.  Hopefully, next year she will stay a little longer!

I love having visitors and it's always sad when they leave.  My house seems empty and for a day or two I tend to wander around aimlessly. 

Not sure who will show up in 2011, but all my friends are more than welcome!  Come on down!