Wednesday, March 29, 2017

"If you say so!"

The last couple of weeks have been particularly trying.  There was a long list of things I needed to catch up on, including following the shenanigans of the town budget committee when dealing with the library appropriation for the coming year; finalizing plans for the April guild meeting; creating a budget for and applying for tax exempt status reinstatement for the state quilt guild.  Oh, how I hate dealing with the IRS!  And why don't people return emails, for heaven's sake!?!

By Saturday night, I was just worn out.  Thank goodness for quilting - my therapy for tough (and not so tough) times.  Brunch with Pauline on Sunday helped, too.   I sold her a lovely quilt to send to her daughter in California, and afterwards, I engaged in a little fabric therapy at Jennine's quilt shop.  Perfect rewards for a difficult week.

But I do need to remind myself to chill out.  Last night's Friends of the Library meeting was one of those occasions.  One of our members, J-, has a drill sergeant way about her.  I think she's actually quite insecure, but she covers it up by issuing orders, even when it's not her place to do so.  We were going over the recent Friends auction and banquet (which I missed), suggesting ways to make it better next year before we forget.   J- had a long list of gripes, including some "very unprofessional" typos she claimed I had made on some of the posters.  I didn't think I had done this (only on some but not all???), but rather than argue as I usually do, I just smiled and said, "if you say so."  Everyone glared at J- who immediately stopped carping.  I went home feeling OK rather than mad.  That helps!

This week the cleaning ladies didn't come for some reason, so I did a little myself.  Later today I'll try yoga for the first time since I hurt my knee a couple of months ago.  Our instructor, bless her heart, has said that she will set aside a chair for me to use when everyone else is on the floor or on their knees.  I walked up and down several flights of steps at the library last night, without much pain, so I think I'm finally on the mend.  Things all seem to be looking up this week - if only the snow would melt!

Friday, March 24, 2017


This morning I read a very timely item on the Moda blog:  Before going to Alabama I had sort of lost my sewing mojo.    Maybe it was the weather.   I did a couple of smaller projects, including some wool applique.  Those were fun, and, when I finished, I found I wanted to sew again.  While away, I finished up some fairly easy appliqued swap blocks and hand quilted on my Atlantic Flyway wallhanging. 

Now that we're back, I've been reading a lot because of a couple of my favorite authors have just published new books.  But I've also spent a good bit of time cutting and sewing for the scrappy 2.5" block quilt I started before vacation.  I have made 5 out of 9 16" blocks so far.  I'm finding I need to cut a few more 2.5" squares, not because I've run out but because I need some brighter colors here and there.  A lot of my leftovers seem to be neutrals.  But I definitely have my mojo back.

I've been doing the Moda Blockheads 6" block of the week which I'm doing in the same fabric as I used for the swap blocks.  I hope that this will result in a larger quilt.  With only the 25 blocks I'll receive,  I really need a few more.  So far the Blockheads blocks have been nice.  Wednesday, I made a bunch of 9" blocks of the month for one of my guilds and then I went to a very frustrating meeting about the library budget.  Upon coming home, I  decided to make the Blockheads block to cool off.  That was great, but when I got finished I realized the block I'd made was 9" instead of 6".  So I made another one.  I did feel better after all that, but a little sheepish, too.  Don't know where I'll use that 9 incher - maybe I'll make a few more that size and mix them together.

Who knows?  I may even get back to Dutch Treat soon.  I still haven't found the white-ish batik that I'd like to use.  I had been using a sold white and it frays too much.  But Sunday I'll meet Pauline for lunch in Burlington and head over to Jennine's quilt shop to see if she has something I can use.  Hope so!

Saturday, March 18, 2017


Time goes by so fast on vacation!  We already miss the flowers, green grass, and budding trees, as well as the opportunities to walk to events, restaurants, stores, and the beach.  Seeing new things and having new experiences is the point of vacation, and we did that.   We also relaxed (sewing and reading for me, doing research and planning a new book for Paul).

We aren't sure we'll go to Fairhope again next year.  It seems too old fogey-ish to go to the same place four years running, but who knows?  There's still a lot of the world to explore, and we also want to get to Colorado to visit my nearly 95 year old mom at least once a year. 

On our last days, it rained quite a bit, so we read and walked around town in between rain drops.  Sunday, we returned to the Gumbo Shack for dinner.  Tucked away from the traffic and a bit of a dive, it does serve some really good food.  They smoke their own meats right out front.  Monday, we ate everything left in the apartment for lunch and had dinner at the Lebanese restaurant, Sage, another favorite. 

We were on the road Tuesday by 7:30 am, trying a new route by Birmingham.  This kept us in Alabama and the Central time zone most of the day until we crossed into Georgia.  The change to daylight savings time made for a double whammy, but over the four days we did adjust.  The trip took us through Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York, with overnight stops in Chattanooga; Fairfield, VA (south of Staunton); and Montgomery, NY (near Newburgh).   A big snowstorm hit the eastern seaboard Tuesday, so we kept our eyes on the weather.  Wednesday morning found us crawling along the interstate over ice in Tennessee, but we didn't see much snow on the ground until we got to northern Virginia.  Then it started to pile up, with the most around Scranton (18" or so).   But the skies remained blue all the way, and the roads were clean and dry.  Good timing!

Besides the usual post-vacation grocery shopping and laundry, I have a long list of things to do, including picking up three quilts that were at the Wood Art Gallery show, working on a new budget for the state quilt guild, advocating for the library budget, and more.  Still, it's good to sleep in our own bed, make our own coffee, and just spread out a little more after living in a small apartment and the car for the last several weeks.  And... I'm looking forward to getting back behind my sewing machine! 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Just relaxing

We only have a few more days here in Fairhope, Alabama, before starting the four day trek back up north to Vermont.  How to best to "use" them?  Just by "chilling"!  I've been doing quite a bit of hand quilting on my Atlantic Flyway wallhanging.  I started hand quilting it on last year's visit, so it is time to get it finished.  I'm on the first side of the last border and doubt if it will be done by the time we get home.  But the closer I get to the end, the more motivated I'll be to finish.  Also, I'd like to get it all finished by April 8 when the guilds will be holding a Studio 180 class on that and another pattern.

But that's thinking ahead, and right now we live for today.  Friday was a lovely day, so we took a couple of walks, stopping at the Gumbo Shack for lunch.  The last time we were there, it was dark, so we didn't notice that they smoke their own meat.  My turkey sandwich was cut right from the bird - delicious.  We took some gumbo home for dinner, too.   I finished reading Fanny Flagg's latest novel (entertaining but a bit "meh") and started on letters of Elinore Pruitt Stewart, a woman homesteader in Wyoming in 1909-1911.  Fascinating and on my bucket list for a long time.

Yesterday was gloomy and called for another trip to the movies, this time to see Verdi's opera La Traviata live from the Met via simulcast.  At home we'd need to travel an hour or so to get there, making it a bit iffy to plan in winter.  But it would be worth doing a few times a year for such a unique opportunity.  The production was wonderful, and we enjoyed the backstage bits as well.  My mother, who has seen this particular production, wasn't wild about the modern staging - minimal in black/white/red accents - but we thought it helped focus attention on the main characters and music.

We woke up to rain, but after it clears we'll be back walking.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Most definitely not in Vermont!

Seen on our morning walk,,,

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

By Mobile Bay

It's a beautiful day!

"La La Land" and Fannie Flagg

It was cloudy Sunday and threatened to rain, so after lunch we headed up the highway to Daphne and the 12-plex.  We do like to go to the movies when we travel because we rarely go to our 2-plex which features movies of interest to kids and teens.  We usually wait to see the good movies via Netflix, but some are best on the big screen.  La La Land is one of those.  The opening number is just great as everyone is singing and dancing on the congested freeway.  It's an old fashioned story with a realistic ending.  One friend didn't like it; others (who love musical theater) loved it.  We liked it - it was perfect for a gloomy day.  Not that any day in Fairhope or on vacation can be all that gloomy.

Before the movies, I finished off a couple more appliqued swap blocks and read a little.  Dinner was at a nearly deserted Italian bistro, and we brought home quite a bit of food for at least a couple of lunches.  Monday was partly cloudy, but warm enough for capris!  So glad I brought some.  We took a couple of walks, roamed around the pharmacy, wrote post cards to various people, and visited the bookstore.  I got a first edition, signed copy of Fannie Flagg's latest, The Whole Town's Talking.  She lives here - wish I'd been able to come to her book signing last fall.  After I read it, I'll put it in a raffle basket for the library along with other fun things for summer.

Tuesday featured a booktalk at the library about One Minute to Midnight, which detailed the Cuban Missile Crisis in you-are-there detail.  The reviewer, who is also the president of the library's Friends group, did a great job.  I don't usually read nonfiction, but she made me want to.  Afterwards, we had lunch at a French bakery, and my turkey sandwich with cranberry mayonnaise was delicious.  Because it was threatening to rain again, we headed up to Daphne to the movies again, this time seeing Hidden Figures.  Wow!  It was an inspirational, great story about black women who worked for NASA in Virginia where Jim Crow laws were still in place with separate rest rooms and even the office coffee pot the "way it was!"

We have discovered a very nice walking path along Mobile Bay, with park benches for lovely views and this sculpture by one of our favorite Vermont sculptors, Jim Sardonis.

Saturday, March 4, 2017


It is one degree with snow at home, but today in Fairhope the high will be 66, and it's sunny.  We've been having a very low key time, walking around, visiting old favorites, and eating very well.  In between, we've been reading, sewing, and just plain goofing off.

Thursday, our first stop was the visitors center and then the library to pick up information about goings on in town.  We had delicious hamburgers at Panini Pete's and, in the evening, attended an historical talk about the arts in Fairhope.  Not at all what we expected, but very entertaining, the speaker was a raconteur with a great accent.  Walking home, we enjoyed the fairy lights strung on the trees which lend a certain peacefulness to downtown after dark.

Friday morning, we walked a few more blocks to the art center where they were still hanging the show that was to debut for the evening Art Walk.  We thought that event was just for the art center, but it turned out that it involved many art and antique shops downtown where there were musicians playing in a variety of styles.  Small crowds gathered here and there, and one short street was blocked off to traffic.  We were happy to join in and to enjoy a delicious Lebanese dinner at Sage, a place we discovered on the last night of last year's visit. 

Today's agenda includes a talk by a writer-in-residence at the library (AJB Johnson?), and I also want to visit the Page and Palette book store to check out their local authors' offerings.  One of my favorite books last year, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, was displayed there (even though the author isn't local at all).

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Welcome to Alabama

We left Barre Saturday, Feb. 25, arriving in Wilkes-Barre, PA, at around 3 pm.  The last 20 minutes of the drive were simply awful - thunder, lightning, heavy rain, and - worst of all - hail.  I had to pull off the highway twice, something I've never done before.  There was a lot of truck traffic, and even the truckers stopped.  There were emergency vehicles standing by, which was reassuring.

Sunday morning, we headed south amid much quieter conditions, stopping in Camp Hill to visit my college friend Madelyn and her husband, Jim.  After all these years in the north (45?), Jim still has a heavy Georgia accent.  I was happy to see Madelyn doing so well as she has stage 4 cancer and was using a walker most of the time the last time we saw her.  She was walking well and looking forward to hearing details of her latest MRI.  I'll call to get the scoop after we get home in a few weeks. 

After brunch, we heading on south, stopping overnight in Harrisonburg, VA, and near Chattanooga.  We made it to the Alabama line Tuesday morning and were greeted by this camellia bush at the Welcome Center.
From the Virginia line on down, we saw increasing signs of spring - daffodils, forsythia and cherries in bloom, buds forming on trees.  It seems to be an early spring for some, but in Alabama the daffodils have already gone by.  Jim wasn't going to be home until about 4:30, so we headed over to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts to see a special exhibit of Alabama quilts.  They had paired antiques with more modern quilts, many from the 1980's and 1990's.  I thought the contemporary ones were really uninteresting, but the antiques were beautiful.  Here's a sweet baby quilt which had some amazing quilting.
The sashing was a print that was fussy cut, and each block was about 4".  This is a very nice museum in a lovely park setting, complete with walking trails, picnic areas, a Shakespeare theater, and an Elizabethan garden which was planted with lots of herbs and pansies.  Azaleas are also blooming throughout Alabama.  Quite a sight for these northern eyes.

After a cozy evening with Jim, which included dinner at a Greek restaurant, we headed on our last leg of the trip, down to Fairhope by Mobile Bay.  It was muggy and cloudy, so I didn't take any pictures, but it sure was nice on the pier.  We had lunch there - gumbo for Paul and fried green tomatoes with shrimp for me.  Now for a few weeks of doing next to nothing - aaahhh!