Oct 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

One of my most favorite days of the year! I'll be off tonight Trick or Treating with my favorite little man (oops, make that Pirate!). Wanted to take the time to say Happy Halloween to you all!!
Now I must do something completely scary...try to pack a rather large suitcase efficiently so I don't go over baggage weight limits! Two weeks of clothing, and a stack of "must bring to the U.K." items for youngest daughter sure add up!
Good bye for now....see everyone in a couple of weeks....

Oct 29, 2012

Here She Comes

As my slide show loads, I thought I'd get a head start on my musings for this morning. Sandy is still hours away, but already the leading edge of the winds are being felt. The sky is heavy with clouds, with the winds already beginning to pick up around my neck of the woods. I thought I had better do my blogging now, and then shut down for the day as I do things around the house that need doing :-)

Some of you may have already felt Sandy's wrath, and I know others are waiting her out. She's being called a once in a life time storm, and the reports from New Jersey (particularly Atlantic City) are something- considering we still have hours before this storm makes landfall.

So, if you have a a bit of time (and an warm cup of coffee!), sit back and enjoy yesterday's fun thanks to "The Silver Sisters" and their quilts! I am still shaking my head at how productive these women are. Maybe I will sit back with some hand stitching today as the winds blow all around us. It is definitely a good day for that!  Be well and stay safe until I return with new musings.

The Silver Sisters Quilt Show and Share and Family Challenge 2012:

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And a Wonderful Day was Had By All...

I could not have spent a more wonderful day if I had tried. I didn't have to try very hard, actually, since I was invited to a day of family fun and sharing at the home of my friend Pat's mother. Mom, her sisters, one husband, several daughters, two adorable (great) granddaughters, and various others (including my own little group of quilt friends) gathered to share in a quilt viewing extraordinaire. I could do little except gasp, shake my head, sit in awe and just snap photo after photo of amazing quilts! I'll let Noel fill you in with her blog post! Just go here and enjoy!!

I took close to 80 photos, and have been working on a slide show to share- hopefully I can finish and get it posted before Sandy barrels into N.Y. leaving her mark on us.
For those in her path- stay safe.
For me, I think now that the house has been battened, I've updated my information for up-to-date airport information (great week to be planning to fly!), the cell phone is charged, the Kindle Fire is almost recharged, I've restocked the water supply and finished the laundry I wanted to get done, I can think about heading for bed. Could be much ado about nothing...or could be a wild couple of days ahead. Either way, I'm ready!
Be back soon...with lots of quilts to share. Oh yes, and maybe a photo or two of Noel looking completely overwhelmed :-)

Oct 26, 2012

A Perfectly Ghoulish Night

Every year, our city hosts a Ghost Tour through the city. I've always wanted to take it, and decided to do it this year. I was worried as the Trolley Company has new owners, but it was a total hoot and just plain fun to be in a trolley full of people out to have a good time and hear ghost stories! We began our night at one of our cities "haunted" mansions. Living in an old city (settled in the 1600's by the Dutch) has its merits when it comes to historical legend! Ten Broeck Mansion is one of my favorite homes in the city and I should make a point of revisiting in the daytime! Being there at night was quite fun- we only walked the outside grounds and gathered for our story telling- hoping that the Lady in White might make an appearance in the upper window (she didn't) or that the purple Orb seen on a previous night would return (it didn't, sadly!). Not to say that we weren't in for a surprise as we returned through the dark, kind of creepy grape arbour!
We continued to the Anglican Church (met by the "man in the bloody shirt") and listened to local history and the ghosts connected to this particular site. Next up- again a favorite of mine- the NYS Capitol Building. First off, the building is magnificent and I had already known of the most famous ghosts to walk through its halls- the most famous being Samuel Abbott a night guard who died in the great fire of 1911. Our evening's host, Sally, told us the story behind the Secret Demon of the Western Staircase (the great staircase is made of limestone with elaborate carvings and a stone carver who was dismissed returned one night and hid a carving of a devil's face within the staircase). This is one of the highlights of the daytime walking tours- and it has been a long time since I've done that tour as well. Another thing for the list!

On to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and its own set of ghost stories. I love this church. My two eldest children were Baptized there, and it has undergone a marvelous restoration and looks majestic once again. I learned that there are several Bishops buried within the Cathedral. I was surprised, but guess I shouldn't be. I loved the story of the priest who would pilfer mass donations and then go have a night of good eats at Jack's Restaurant down the hill! 

We drove past the Kenmore Hotel where Legs Diamond  took his mistress to dance and "hold court" while his long suffering wife sat at home, and then on to the boarding house on Dove Street where he met his demise in a hail of bullets. Nothing like a good gangster story- or the involvement of the notorious Albany Political Machine!

We then traveled to the north end of the city (my old neighborhood!) where we disembarked to learn of the apparitions that haunt Graceland Cemetery. 

(Just an aside here- I was a bit worried about my reaction to this stop as this is where my husband is buried, but upon our arrival there was a "cemetery party" going on and it was right at our burial location! I couldn't help but smile and think to myself "oh, sure! you're having a party and didn't think to invite me?" It took the edge off being there!)

As we traveled back towards the river and our starting point, we stopped at what is now the central offices for the state university. It is in the former (and very grand) D&H building. And we were regaled with tales of Abraham Lincoln's connections with Albany and his mourning train as it pulled through the city after his assassination. In particular I loved the story of the one year anniversary of the mourning train. It seems that that night- one year later- the tracks glowed a bright blue, a train pulled in backwards and time stopped! Fact or Fiction?? You decide. 
All in all it was a night of fun with a nice group of young and old- who appreciated the stories, the ghouls and most of all the tales from beyond! If you have a chance to take a ghost tour near you do it- you won't be sorry!  In the meantime, here is a little side show tour for you to enjoy:

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Oct 23, 2012

Weekend Annoyance and Excitement

I'm sitting here sipping the evening Pumpkin Latte, and feeling quite happy with myself and with life in general.  The petty annoyance of the weekend is behind me (I will explain in a minute), and the happiness and pride that ensued is still warming me from the inside out- kind of like this large cup of warm yumminess!
Now for a (not so) quick explanation: I have coveted a new camera for close to two years now. A camera that does more than point and shoot. A camera I can grow into (in my old age, lol!). One that will let me take real photographs, not just push the button and "hope they come out" photos.  I've watched coveted camera decline in price over the last couple of weeks (not that it still wasn't expensive) and then the event I knew would happen- did! The blasted camera that I currently owned stopped working AGAIN. Now to be perfectly honest, it could be a battery issue, but the battery I need is hard to come by and when that happens it is a trip to Radio Shack and a huge lay out of cash for theirs. So I decided to tell myself I was worth it, took a deep breath and ordered my coveted Nikon D5100.  
I was even more excited to learn it would be here in two (yes count them! two ....) days, putting delivery right at the best possible moment. I was joining the little family (son, DIL and grandson) for a trip to Syracuse on Saturday to be at the finish line of the Empire State Marathon the next day. Son's long time friend was running his second marathon in the space of a month in honor of my husband- raising money for the American Cancer Society through DeterminNation. Not only did I want to be there to welcome him across the finish line with a huge hug, I wanted to snap a photo to remember the event and his remarkable achievement. Getting the new Nikon Friday would give me a few hours in the afternoon to get a feel for it in my hands, and at least get comfortable with the Auto Mode for now. Friday came and went and there was NO delivery. I was a bit annoyed since the tracking information told me it was scanned at Latham and out for delivery. 
Saturday morning rolled around, and by our noon departure time I had no hopes of having a camera to take with me; I called my neighbor and had them on the look out for UPS and off to Syracuse we went.
Come to find out later, there was a shipment delay of 1 to 2 days due to "external factors" (whatever that truly means). Said delay would put delivery well into Monday. Fine! I'd deal. The kids got some photos Sunday, and I am hoping to get copies soon- especially the family shot Scott wanted after he collected himself from the 26 mile run. Below is a photo (I snagged it from Facebook) from his run in Rochester at the beginning of the month. The boy is amazing to say the least. He ran his first marathon (NYC) just last year (again for the American Cancer Society), and to do 2 back to back in 2012 is something I find totally incredible. This boy stands well over 6 1/2' tall- all legs and arms! He hurt. He was (in his own words) done in. Syracuse has some tough elevations to its course. But he did it...as he said while we hugged ... "I did it Momma! I did it!" 

Indeed he did, and I couldn't be any prouder of this young man if I had given birth to him myself. 
He is a role model, and I am very proud that he is my grandson's godfather. I can't think of anyone I'd want my little guy to look up to more (other than his daddy, of course!). It was a perfect day- and being there in person was quite exhilerating. Watching the runners come in to the cheers and applause of the gathered crowd is something I will remember for a very long time. 

Fast forward a day...I waited most of Monday am ( tracking again told me my box was on the truck and out for delivery) for my camera to arrive on the doorstep, and then decided that it would most likely be on the late afternoon run. Not wanting to resemble Old Mother Hubbard anymore, I ran up to the  grocery store to stock up on some fruits and veggies- it would hardly take any time at all. That was a big mistake! Exactly 11 minutes after I walked out my front door UPS drove up and not finding me home to sign for the box, took off with my camera delivery in tow. They'd return the next day- no real time period given! I was back to being annoyed! I had appointments today, and knew they would once again show up when no one was here, so I called UPS, told the computer I did NOT want the box delivered and to have someone call to confirm I wanted my box held for pick up. To make a long story short: my truck would be back in by 7:45pm. UPS was open until 9pm. I left the house at 7:45pm, got to the terminal at 8pm and filed into the rather long line of folks picking up missed deliveries. Finally- 30+ minutes later, it was my turn at the window, and lo and behold: no box was to be found. Are you laughing yet?? I know I wasn't, but it's ok if you do- really it is!  The gum snapping, way too chatty and extremely hyper young girl behind the counter called into the warehouse to see if the truck had arrived back as yet. Oh. No? It isn't back?? Won't be back until 9:30pm?? Really? How come??? She's having an entire conversation with Joe in back and I am producing steam out my ears!  Seems the truck broke down and they were arranging for a tow truck to haul it back. I'd have to come back tomorrow...they open at 9am.  I won't repeat what my reaction was. If you remember my story about the ill fated Vermont trip, you know I have this cloud over my head lately!  I know you're definitely laughing now- just go with the flow! I can laugh too (now), because I have my new toy in hand, and did I have fun this afternoon. I photographed my fruit bowl:

 I played with the lens and took a close up:

I even photographed the poor dog- totally ignoring "let sleeping dogs lie" !

I think I am going to be very excited about all this for some time to come. Just think- I'm headed to London (and several cities in Poland) in the very near future! Wonder how many camera cards I should make sure to have on hand??

All's Well That Ends Well, heh?? 

I think I need to go calm down now...

Oct 14, 2012

Eye Candy

Has anyone stopped by the Temecula Quilt Company's blog? I love it for the sew-alongs and for the chatty news of what is new at the shop. The last two posts have shown photos of a wonderful Doll Quilt display the shop has going,  and there is so much eye candy it just excites me! It also reminds me that I am a bit behind in my 2012 challenge to make a small quilt per month! I need to really refocus IF I intend to keep that goal.  It's not that I've been lazy of late- the batik quilt is off being quilted, I've been hand quilting my small basket quilt and just this week I have resurrected Vintage Valentine and have been busily hand appliqueing the large center block over the last two evenings. I just need to finish the vase and the center is done! A few more of the smaller blocks ( a million and one dogwood petals!!) and I can think about putting this one together and taking it off the UFO list once and for all. It was supposed to be the Wedding Quilt for son and daughter-in-law, however, after all this time,  I find it hard not to think it might be a bit anticlimactic. They will still receive the quilt when it is totally finished, and well before the 12 year mark (like my son's quilt)!  I guess that is something to be "proud of".  Throw in a few pillowcases for adorable grandson, a second batik quilt  and then a few more catch up projects and I think I see a very productive fall/winter quilting season in the making. Now with that said, I think I will mosey on over to the recliner, pick up my needle and sew a bit. Tonight I head to the Berkshires to see Mandy Patinkin and Patty LuPone at the Mahaiwe Center in Great Barrington. It should be a good night.

Oct 7, 2012

It was a lost and found kind of day...

Well, it was just one of those days today. I guess I shouldn't be surprised considering yesterday didn't go exactly as planned! It started out fine...did my usual Sunday morning routine and returned home after a Weight Watchers meeting with a 3/4 of a pound loss on my second week of maintenance. I chuckled with my leader that it was the fact that we were driven to starvation on our bus tour yesterday :-)

Once home and changed into sweaters (yes, multiples- it is down right damp and cold here in the great Northeast), I took the time to drop the storm windows (the house was barely at 60* inside!) and then tried to rig up a decent view of the batik quilt to take a photo. After several tries, hoping all the time that it wouldn't hit the ground once again (or that the dog would stay off of it- thank you very much!) I had it hung from the top of the dining room swags. Precarious, yes, but working- so I quietly ran from the room and grabbed the camera. Sigh ... I used the camera yesterday, took all of seven photos mind you. Today?? Battery....dead. Guess it felt it needed to die in sympathy with the bus's battery. Can I tell you how frustrated I have been with this camera since the day I got it?? I seriously need to save my pennies for that Nikon I have my heart set on. So what is a girl to do?? Grab the cell phone- the very basic/old/ need a new one but really don't want to spend the money on one/ kind of cell phone. It is a bad photo, a very bad photo, but I'm sharing anyway since I promised you all a peek at the monster quilt!  I love it, and it is now in the hands of my machine quilter who totally got where I wanted this wonder to go artistically when I rambled on about camping, leaves, mud, "guy stuff".  She started giving me her vision and I am beyond excited. I promise to have a new battery or a better (borrowed) camera when it is back home in all its glory!!

The monster quilt- no more batik- phobias!!

Of course before I could skip out to meet my machine quilter extraordinaire, I needed to walk the dog. So off we went on our afternoon jaunt. Happy as two clams in a clam shell. That is until I got home. I had not taken off the dangling, "they just make me happy" earrings from the morning, and when I got home I discovered one was no longer dangling from my ear! LOST! I was not a happy woman. There was no time to retrace our walk then, so I just removed the one remaining piece of ear jewelry and headed out. 
I was sure that by 4:30 pm there would be no hope at all of finding a dark, brown and golden earring on the ground lying among the leaves and other debris of the neighborhood, but lo and behold! FOUND!! There!! 3 blocks from the house was my earring- lying just shy of a pile of leaves right near a newly clipped lawn! The fact that it didn't end up in Dennis' lawn mower OR swept to the curb (or worse yet- a leaf bag) is a miracle plain and simple! So it's a good day after all. I have a favorite earring back, the monster quilt is progressing towards being done-done and now I'm ready to get the last couple of borders on the flowered "Couch Quilt" for the daughter-in-law. If I can keep this tiny streak of good fortune going, maybe I'll find the pattern for my grandson's "big boy" construction truck quilt in the drawer with the fabrics?? One can only hope! 
And that is all I have to say :-)
"Good night, Gracie"!

Oct 6, 2012

An Ill Fated Trip

It was supposed to be a fun day. What could be better than a day of chocolate, wine, shopping, apples and apple pie? Even the threat of fog, afternoon rain and a cold front couldn't dampen my spirits. I had looked forward to this trip for a few weeks now. I love Vermont and this full day bus trip with a friend seemed like a perfect excursion. I was up before dawn, showered, dressed, grabbed my early am yogurt and berries, walked the dog and jumped in the car to drive to the pick up destination.  The bus was early, everyone was excited- on time and ready to roll with time to spare. Chocolatorium here we come!
With a quick stop to pick up more passengers (and then a ridiculously early stop for coffee and bathroom break- really? after only half an hour on the road??) we hit Route 7 and continued on our way through Hoosic, around Bennington and into East Arlington, VT for our introduction to the history of chocolate, chocolate tasting and of course ample opportunity to buy chocolate of any and all varieties! 
Also scheduled: lunch, shopping and general merriment at The Vermont Country Store in Weston, A tour and wine tasting at Honora Winery with time to shop their award winning wines, and a stop at the Apple Barn for a tour, coffee and apple pie (ala mode of course!). 

At the Chocolatorium we learned about the history of chocolate and watched a short (an interesting video about the harvesting of the seeds of the cocoa tree and how the seeds are dried etc. to become chocolate. We each had a small box of chocolates which we tested with guidance of our host (aroma, snap, after tastes....) and learned the differences in chocolates/ chocolate blends (and what can pass as "chocolate" but really isn't!). It was both informative and fun- and left me with a bit of a sugar high (smile). Just the aroma of the place was enough to put a smile on your face. What transpired next, however, did not make for happy smiles. 
After our chocolate pleasure we re-boarded our bus to discover that it had suffered a breakdown and was not about to start no matter what our driver did. 36 people, one driver and one tour guide- stuck in Arlington where the only shops were the chocolate shop we just exited and a "florist" shop. 
Now think about those people stuck on an airplane on a runway for hours on end- no working bathrooms, no air, no food....you've all heard the horror stories. Well, this wasn't all that bad in comparison, I guess. We at least had the port-a-potty outside the chocolate shop, the shop owners were genuinely concerned for us and kept bringing out samples of chocolate and fudge and small bottles of water until the water ran out. 
We could exit the bus (before the rain and cold hit) and walk up and down the road...and generally just wait it out. And wait we did- for over 4 hours!!
So much for the winery. Then as time passed, so much for the Vermont Country Store. It was also very obvious that there was not to be a speck of food anywhere to be had either. I never thought I'd say it, but the thought of only chocolate being available as a source of nourishment- well it was a bit sickening.
By late afternoon, a smaller bus finally arrived from Albany (mind you now- it is Columbus Day Weekend- and the height of "leaf peeping" season!) with barely enough seats for us...we almost had to draw straws to see which of the last on the bus had to sit with the driver and Madame Tour Guide had to sit on the bus steps. OK, so  I won't complain- the seats on this new bus were quite comfy- as it was definitely one of those "party buses"...tables up front for four, "disco lights" along the upper ledges....need I go on? The lights never went off, the air conditioning continued to chill us all to the bone, but we made it to the Apple Barn where the coffee was HOT (and very good!) and the pie was delicious. Of course, ANYTHING would have been good by 5PM!  Again, I won't complain- I was able to get the Vermont Maple Syrup I promised youngest daughter (can't get good Vt. Maple Syrup in the U.K. you know!), bought myself some pumpkin butter, honey crisp apples (my most favorite apple), and one big ole candied apple covered in crushed nuts which I intend to eat a slice of each and every day until it is totally gone! I do have to watch my girlish figure, you know! Nope- won't complain (until next week when the tour company will definitely be hearing from me, and most likely 34 other people!).

On a brighter note, maybe it wasn't all that ill fated after all. I did get to meet "Cocoa". Enjoy this little slide show. It is all I have to say I was on a "Taste of Vermont Tour"!

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