Saturday, December 21, 2013


Solstice 2013

Dear Family & Friends
As the nights lengthen I find myself watching more TV than usual – not a good thing.  But, I have been scanning the TV listings looking for the movie It’s a Wonderful Life.  After years of watching this holiday classic and then avoiding it due to burnout, I am anxious to see it again.  Watching it again will be another affirmation of just how wonderful my life is.  No angels or drama needed to remind me!  Life is just good.
I’m still working part time at the local library.  I work with great people and the “cast of characters” that come into the library on a regular basis are fun.  I find great satisfaction in helping patrons find things from a popular book to a map of the fault lines across Texas.  Always interesting. 

This year my neighbor and friend, Pam, and I went to Palm Coast, FL in April.  We enjoyed the area, especially St. Augustine.  Pam left early due to work commitments . I got rained out the last day or so and returned home early.  In August I drove to Oak Island, NC where I was invited by my friend, Rita, to spend a few days at a beach house with a couple of other ladies.  Beautiful location right on the ocean.  We had a good time, laughed a lot, but I brought the rain with me so I left a day early.  Obviously, we got a lot of rain down here this summer! 

All is well with my extended family.  Suzanne and Marlon are always busy, but decided it is time to bow out of a lot of their volunteer activities.  Linda is still in Arizona.  She has had quite a few health problems this year, but is on the mend and looking forward to spending Christmas in Wisconsin with her son.  My nephews and the “greats” are all doing well.  The “greats” are all growing up too fast.  Aaron turned 21 in June.  Coggan is 10, Cadyn 8, Shannon 7 and Zach is 3.   

Martha visited me for a week over the New Year in January.  Then, I didn’t have any company for 10 months.  Beth (my friend of 52 years) stopped in for a short visit in October.  Martha returned for a week in early November.  Sally and Amy were here for their annual visit the week of Thanksgiving.  Michelle is coming for the week of Christmas.  Seems like everyone is coming at once, but I am so happy they want to visit. 

I have started fostering dogs for Life’s Little Paws, a cocker rescue group based along the east coast states.  I started with Murphy, a cock-a-poo and extremely adorable.  He arrived in mid-October and I expect I will have him through January or longer.  Luckily, Sam and Oliver are pretty laid back, friendly dogs - a little jealous, but they know they are the top dogs around here! It will be difficult to give Murphy up, but I will deal with it when the time comes.  And, unfortunately, there are always other dogs that need love and fostering. 

As I type this, with the lap top on my lap and dogs snoozing at my feet, I am also watching the birds at the feeder.  I have counted over ten species this morning.  A squirrel tries to get at the suet, driving my Sam, sitting at the window,  crazy.  It is such fun watching them.  There are so many simple pleasures – great cup of coffee, the creek behind my house, children in my neighborhood, my garden, a long walk, the good laugh or a much needed hug of a friend.  One quote from It’s a Wonderful Life that most of us recognize is from Clarence, the angel sent down to help the main character, George.  Clarence said, “Every time you hear a bell ring, it means that some angel's just got his wings.”  I don’t need to hear a bell to realize I have a wonderful life.  That bell would be ringing all of the time!  And, one main reason my life is so awesome is that you are a part of it – the wind lifting my wings, helping me to fly.  As Clarence wrote in the book he gave to George, “No man is a failure who has friends.”  I’ll include the love and support of a great family, too! 

May the return of the light this Solstice brighten your path on your life’s journey.  Have a great holiday season and to my friends far way - I hope to see you in 2014!

Friday, August 09, 2013


After I moved to Georgia  I realized how much I missed my friends back in Wisconsin and other places.  It was a big wake up call on how important my friends are to me, whether we were close in proximity or not.  I decided to try and do an autograph quilt.  I did two previous blog posts on this quilt.  First post link is here and the second post link is here if you are interested in reading the whole history.

Reminds me of newsprint
I finally got it completed, quilted and bound.  It was quilted at The Quilt Shop on Main in Jasper, GA.  I think I should have bound it in solid black, but I am happy with the way it turned out. The fabric is beautiful and the result reminds me of newspaper print.

Close up of some of the quilting
I especially love the backing fabric.  So pretty!

I love the backing fabric

The quilt has made me realize  more than ever how important it is to work at maintaining friendships no matter where you are on this earth.  Social media has become huge for me.  Facebook keeps me "talking" to friends far and near.  I can stay active in their lives and they mine, to a point.  As we all know, it does have its issues.  But, what a great way to stay in touch.

Anne Marie is the sassy one! LOL
The past year I have also made an effort to send out more cards to friends - especially for no real reason, but just to let them know I am thinking of them.  Who doesn't like to go to the mailbox and find a piece of mail that is not a bill or junk?  And, sometimes when going through a bad time, knowing that a friend took the time to mail a card can lift your spirits.  I know it does mine.

There is nothing like picking up the phone and calling someone.  Hearing someones voice, their laughter - well, there is nothing like it.  And, sometimes you just need to talk.

Becky and Cary included their wonderful children - a great family!

My friend, Nancy, retired to the Phoenix, AZ area a couple of years before I moved to Georgia.  We have found a unique, fun why to stay in touch.  We both enjoy watching certain TV shows, especially Project Runway.  For the last couple of years every week we call each other within a few days after the show and discuss the program.  It may seem silly, but we really do talk about the clothing made, the techniques used, the results and, of course, the contestants.  Our conversation then goes into what is happening in our lives, the world, the books we are reading, mutual friends, etc.  We joked that after Project Runway is done for the season we wouldn't talk.  But, there is Design Star and Food Network Star!  Calling each other weekly to discuss a TV show may sound funny, but Nancy is one of my dearest friends and even though we are thousand of miles away, we are extremely close.

Close up of border and binding

Getting back to the autograph quilt, my friend, Kate, wrote on her block, "a quilt of 26 hugs." How true. When I miss my friends from Wisconsin and other places I can cuddle up underneath this quilt  remember how wonderful it is to have them in my life.  I can be quiet and still and think about how important they are to me and feel their love.

I am truly blessed.

Thursday, August 08, 2013


I like fresh goods.  I like good food.  I like to eat.  And, I love eggs. 
Look at these beautiful and colorful eggs
Fried, scrambled, poached.  I love them. 

Since retirement I have found a lot of pleasure in baking.  I have a "new" Kitchenaid mixer (bought at an estate sale) and I have been baking like crazy.  I find using good ingredients is a must.  Pure vanilla, good butter and, of course, eggs.

Good ingredients make fabulous cakes, like this Strawberry cake
I had been trying to find someone or someplace that sold organic/free range chicken eggs to no avail.  Then, a few months ago I stopped in a little craft store in Ball Ground, GA and the owner sold the eggs I was looking for.  She connected up with a local man who has a flock of "girls" as he calls them, he raises for pure enjoyment.  Over 55 chickens gives him a lot of eggs.  So, some he sells to the store owner, who, in turn, sells them to the public.  Beautiful eggs.  I would purchase two dozen at a time and had at least one double yolk in the bunch.  Yes - a real double yolk egg.  Who sees that in eggs from the grocery store?  I was in in egg heaven.  Deep orange yolk.  Shells of brown, white and blue.  What fun to cook with and so good to eat! 
Look at the deep, rich color of the yolks
And, while driving down the road close to my house I saw a sign stating "Eggs for Sale."  Another source for egg!  Yea!

The best thing is that while talking to my neighbor, Rachel, and she mentioned her parents had a small flock of chickens.  They could not use all of the eggs and sold them to friends.  REALLY?  My friend, Pam, and I went to check out the chickens.  And, I got right into the coop!  I could gather my own eggs.  How cool is that?  I lived in a city all my life until I moved to Georgia in 2010.  I have been around farm animals, but not chickens.  Rachel's mom lives less than a mile from my house.  Perfect.  And, the eggs are just as wonderful.

You can't get eggs much fresher than this!

Gathering my own eggs! 
So, now I text Rachel when I need eggs and within a day or so she delivers them to my door.   Tonight Rachel dropped off a couple of dozen eggs for me.  I hand her the money (considerably less than in the grocery store) and empty egg cartons.  One time she said I might want to wash them as her parents were out of town and they gathered the eggs in a hurry.  How fresh is that?  

Feeding the girls.
Looking at these eggs I have to laugh.  Along with the blue, brown and green eggs is always one HUGE white egg - far bigger than any "extra large" size eggs I would get at the store.  This egg makes me shudder a little.  Poor hen - having to push out an egg that size a couple of times a day. 

This is the lady who pumps out those huge white eggs. 
She doesn't seem too stressed!
Using these eggs makes me almost giddy and I love the thought that I am eating something so fresh, local and contributing to my neighbor's hobby.  It's a win/win situation. 
Fun signs in the chicken coop.
I love knowing my eggs come from good, healthy chickens.  I love that I can get them from a neighbor.  Now all I have to figure out is which came first - the chicken or the egg?

* All pictures were taken at Rachels mom's chicken coop.  Thanks, Rachel!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I have been busy quilting, just not posting what I have been working on!  So, here is some of what I have been up to.  Most of these are quilt tops that will slowly be professionally quilted as I can afford it.  Some I have posted months or even a few years ago as I was working on them, but not the completed projects. Thanks to my friends, Karin and Ann for being the "quilt models" even if they were hiding behind the quilts!

 My Aunt Grace's Circle of Friends is top is finally completed.  Yea!

This Block of the Month project turned out great.  I love the bright, happy colors of the 1930s reproduction fabric.

Karin is being silly!  This quilt does make you happy!  The center medallion and flowers around it are all hand stitched on the quilt.  This quilt top was a ton of work, but worth all of the time and effort.  More close up views will be shown after it is quilted and bound.

How can this bright quilt top not make you smile?  Just knowing it is finally done makes me smile!

So, what do you do when you win two charm packs?  (A charm pack is usually 44, 5" squares of fabric all from the same fabric line.) Purchase two more, throw them all in a paper bag and pull out four charm squares at a time (making sure they are all different) and make four square blocks! Arrange the blocks in a way that pleases your eyes, sew them together, add a couple of borders and you got a very, very simple and easy quilt top!

I had five fabric pieces featuring tea cups left over from a different project.  Those got fussy cut and added to the mix.

Here's the backing fabric.

This was quilted at The Quilt Shop on Main in Jasper, GA. I think they did a wonderful job.

It is time for Ann to be silly in this picture. 

I loved this fabric and the panels that came with it.  As much as I hate working with pre-printed fabric panels and after drooling over the fabric for about a year, I finally purchased it and made a quilt top. This little quilt will grace my back porch when completed.

Close up of this beautiful fabric.  Not fond of working with panels, but it was  worth is on this quilt.

Had to get the dragonfly panel in a picture!

I fell in love with this quilt while visiting a quilt store in Colorado in 2008. I purchased the kit and finally got it done in 2013. It is my hydrangea quilt, so soft and pretty. Again, working with printed panels can be a challenge, but it turned out great. Can't wait to see it once it is quilted.

Close up of these lovely fabrics.  So soft and pretty.

Close up of a couple of the panels and the pretty border fabric.
Finally, finally, finally this quilt is finished. I call it Jeannie's quilt after the owner of Ye Olde Schoolhouse quilt store in Cedarburg, WI, which was my home quilt store before I moved to Georgia. This was a project! Jeannie gave each of us in the Friendship Quilting Group a fat quarter and two quilt block patterns each month. We had to use the fat quarter fabric in each of the two very different blocks filling in the rest of the fabric from our stash. Over the course of the year we made 24 blocks. I added the Friendship Star square in the center. I think it is fabulous and can't wait to get it quilted.

Put on your sun glasses and gaze at the Tropical Breeze quilt! This was a Block of the Month I did from my new home quilt shop, The Quilt Shop on Main. I had never done a piano border before and it was fun to make. Before this quilt top was done, my friend Sally was visiting. She really liked the blocks I had complete at that point.  We stopped in the quilt shop and she saw the completed quilt. While we were both looking at it I said I wasn't sure about the border and thought it might be too loud. Sally laughed and said she just loved it. So, once quilted and bound it will go to Sally.

See Karin and Ann's twinkle toes? 
Thanks again to Karin and Ann for displaying and refolding the quilts for me. You're the best!

Monday, June 10, 2013


I've been fortunate.  Both this house and my former home in Milwaukee had screened in porches.  Here in Georgia, the porch is small, but it works for me. 

After I moved in I purchased this little bistro set.  It works great.  I use it a lot, especially in the morning when I drink my coffee and check my email.  The fabric for the pillows I had for at least 14 years. Last year I had the ruffled pillows made for the chairs.  Notice the doggie door to the right of the chair.  Sam and Oliver can go in and out without me having to open the screen door.  Very convenient for me and they don't seem to mind!

This is how it looked when I first got the furniture.  It isn't a
practical arrangement to enjoy the view into the yard, but it does make a great picture!

But, I struggled with furniture. I had some antique wicker pieces, but they were not comfortable and were very low to the ground. So, the past year I looked and thought and looked and thought and finally purchased two chairs and an ottoman from Home Depot. 

A better arrangement

The chairs rock and they swivel and they are very comfy.  I know I will be doing a lot of reading, dozing and gazing at my garden in these chairs.  This year I will make covers for the small pillows on the lounge chairs.  I think they look nice and go with the "shabby chic" look I going for.  The quilted pillow on the chair will also remain.

My view when I look out.  It is a great place to view the birds,
watch the antics of the dogs and just chill!

This picture was taken one chilly morning when
ice formed on the fountain.  Slightly rare down here.
The small table fountain is solar powered.  I love the sound of the water and it is just the right size for the antique wicker table I purchased at a junk store.

Now, I needed a light to read by at night.  I have a ceiling fan with a light, but the light it is not bright enough.  I wanted a hanging lamp that would stay out of the way, and since that would be tucked into the corer and very protected to the elements.  So, I copied an idea.  I purchased this little decorative bird cage for $19.99 at Home Goods.  Originally it had a wood finial, but I ripped that off before I thought to take a picture.


I wanted a funky color that would go with the porch, so after consulting two of my neighbors, Pam and Lisa, I decided on red.  But, first I had to figure out how to put the light kit in it.  I'm not real handy.

I finally asked for help and Lisa's husband, David, put the light fixture kit in it for me.  Alas, I once again forgot to take picture.

Then, out came the spray paint.  Since it would be pretty protected by the elements, but still outside, I used a primer first.

Then came the high gloss red spray paint.

After a couple of coats it was ready to hang.

Sorry for the broom handle!  LOL
Wa la - a funky new lamp for my porch.

I am not sure if I will keep the little grates on the bottom of the cage.  Right now the shadows are fun, but they might bug me when I am reading at night. 

Cost?  Hmmm - between $35-$40.  Not bad.  I think it looks fun.   

Candle looks goofy in the picture and is
not usually set on the table.  Oh, well . . .

I also needed a small table with store for my gardening tools and to set things on. I got this "table" at another junk store.  It was a mess.  My brother-in-law, Marlon, secured it for me, added a stable bottom board and wheels so I can easily move it around.  After a few cans of spray paint to match the light fixture that hangs above it, I think it looks fabulous and the cost was around $30. 

Come on over for a visit and we'll relax, have a long talk, enjoy a cold glass of lemonade while sitting in the porch! 

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Saying goodbye isn't always easy, especially when you know it is for good. 

I learned recently that a friend/former lover of mine died back in February.  While he had been in very poor health for years (cancer and surgery similar to what the late film critic, Roger Ebert had) and I knew he couldn't go on forever, I am still stunned by the news.  Surprised that he actually gone and also that I didn't realize it until now.  But, since my move to Georgia three years ago, none of his friends who knew me would know how to find me.  And, it was past time time for him to leave this earth - he really suffered.

He wove in and out of my life for over 45 years.  I met him when I was 12 and he was 17 and he dated my older sister a few times.  Later, in my mid-20s we met again.  We fell in love.  Oh - boy, we fell in love.  We did foolish things. He broke my heart, we hurt each other and both made wrong decisions that altered our lives, but the love - oh, that love - was always there.  He always had my back.  We both knew our relationship wasn't meant to be yet there were times we just kept trying.  Times of just friendship, times of beyond friendship, times of just being.  A decade could pass without our talking or a year, but no matter the amount of time there we were.  And, he was instrumental in helping me make a couple positive, major decisions in my life in the late 1990s for which I will always be thankful.

Sometimes relationships are easy, sometimes they are hard.  They can be good and strong and carry though a lifetime.  They can be sad, full of secrets and missed chances.  Ours was all and more.

Before I left Milwaukee in 2010 we talked.  He could still talk, but it was very difficult to understand him.  I wanted to see him before I left, but he wouldn't let me.  The deforming surgery and toll of his illness would have been difficult for me to see and he didn't want to see the expression in my eyes when I saw his face.  We talked several times since my move, but the last was in August, 2012.  He never forgot my birthday!  He said several things that should have made me realize it would be the last time.  He was making a final peace between us, letting me know his love was still there, as well as his regrets.  He was letting me go. 

So, now it is it time to let him go.  At least for this lifetime.

When we first got romantically involved, back in the late 1970s/early 1980s he would always tell me the phrase I wrote below - always in German, his first language.  Maybe over the years he told it to others - Lord knows we both had our share of relationships along the way - but maybe not.  I'm claiming it.  It does relate directly to what he knew I loved.  He would whisper it to me in times of sweetness, in times of passion, in times when I was so angry with him and times when he would just turn, smile and say, "Did you know that. . . " And, he knew it always melted my heart.  It was one of the very last things he ever said to me. 

Sie sind mein Mond
meine Sternen
mein Himmel
mein alles
And, to him I say, "You were always there and always will be.  So, until the next time 'round. I'll see you then and we'll finally, finally get it right. Promise."