Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My friend Kathy...

One of my oldest friends is Kathy Keefer. We met WAY BACK in 1973, when John and I moved from Washington, D.C. to Pennsylvania. We bought a cape cod house outside of Pine Grove. It had a small acreage, a beautiful little pond, and the best neighbors in the world -- Kathy and Denny Keefer.
This is a picture of Denny and Kathy -- on their porch. We spent countless hours on their porch...visiting, laughing, playing cards.  THEY are the reason we have a porch on our house!
Kathy deserved a great kitchen because she is the BEST COOK I KNOW -- and she is famous for her shoo-fly pies!!
About ten years ago -- Ross got a job in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It was a big move across the country, he didn't have very much money, and he didn't know anybody. I suggested he stay with Kathy and Denny while he looked for a place. Their house would be a 45-minute drive to his job. He said, "Mom, I don't know them that well."

But, at the end of the day, he had no place to park his U-Haul, and Kathy insisted...so he agreed to "stay with them" for a few days while he tried to figure things out. Ross pulled into their driveway, Kathy and Denny welcomed him with open arms -- Ross started his new job, and on the second day, Denny and his boys unpacked Ross's U-Haul (when he was at work) -- and told him to take his time to find an apartment...
For the next two years, KATHY KEEFER made Ross's birthday cake -- chocolate cake with peanut butter icing...
Ross loved the Keefers. Just like I knew he would.  Kathy took great care of him. Just like I knew she would. He adored the Keefer boys and during his time in Pennsylvania, he ate every holiday meal with them. They tease her by saying she quit cooking when Ross moved away.

When Ross was with the Keefer's, their grandson Filbert (Dennis Keefer III) was a sweet 12 year old boy. He hung out at his Grandma's house every single day...Filbert loved to play cards and tell jokes...and he laughed at all of Ross's stories...

Filbert...standing by the restored pick-up truck the Keefer boys were giving to Grandpa Den...

Last weekend, 22 year old Filbert was killed in a snowmobile accident.

Normally -- I never write sad things on this blog....

But I thought you should know why I am not writing my blog. For now.

Maybe for awhile.

It just doesn't seem important...

At this moment, everything feels wrong.

My heart is breaking for my friend....

Monday, March 20, 2017

Another NYC Flashback within a Flashback!!

Another old post about New York City...(even though I'm home now, I'll probably be in a coma for several days -- so I PRE-POSTED some old blogs so you won't be completely disappointed...)
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I've talked about my friend Sandy before...she started out as my hairdresser. The turning point in our friendship was when she made me the official tour guide of our 2009 trip to New York City!!
You know how much I love THIS particular shoe shot...me, Sandy, Evelyn, Carol and our Rockefeller Docent...
This is Sandy -- during our lunch at Tavern On The GREEN...we couldn't possibly know that this fabulous world class landmark restaurant would CLOSE by the end of the year...
Me, Evelyn, Sandy and Carol. It was the first New York City trip for the three of them -- and I LOVED BEING their official tour guide...
Of course, I take EVERYBODY TO ELLEN'S STARDUST DINER...and I cannot remember ever having a better time.
Back in our regular Iowa lives -- we love to get together and catch up.  I invited them over for a summer lunch...and OF COURSE, I GOT OUT MY BEST PORCH/PLASTIC DISHES...
I made a wonderful spinach salad (with strawberries and a rotisserie chicken..).
Fresh melon and grilled cheese sandwiches rounded out the menu.  I cannot tell you how delighted I am to own a plastic serving platter shaped like a fish...
With this group -- THERE WILL BE WINE...(the wine glasses are real)
Of course, the purpose of the lunch was to unveil the sofa I sewed this summer...
For dessert, I served ice cream treats...lol... I love these women. Sandy, Carol and Evelyn grew up together. By the time I met them, they had all lost their husbands.  I call them the Merry Widows. Their lives have not been easy -- but they survived, made adjustments, accepted very difficult changes and they help each other to make the most of each day.

Spending time with them is always a joyful thing for me. They make me laugh, they make me think, and they make me grateful.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

NYC Train Platform Wisdom

This is a picture of my two favorite blondes...my cousin Jackie and my daughter-in-law Emily...

I've been to New York City with both Jackie and Emily.  WE HAD SUCH A GREAT TIME...

Every time I go to New York City -- I think of my earlier visits.

The Metropolitan Museum...we could never forget that visit....
Rockefeller Center....


St. Patrick's Cathedral...
Times Square...
The Rose Reading room in the New York City public library...


One of the core wisdoms of my life came from a day when Jackie and I were waiting for a train at Track #7 at Penn Station.  We were there in plenty of time...we were sure of it..

We were on the right track, we were kinda sure of it.

But the train never came. We waited...and waited...our Iowa optimism kept us standing at that place on the track for a very long time...

With just a sliver of hope left, we asked a train porter about the train we'd been waiting for in vain.  He snarled, "That train has left the station. Quit talking about that train."

We laughed so hard -- and I loved those words so much, I painted them on the back of the door in the guest bedroom...and every time I see it, I can see the two of us, standing on that platform...

For me, the wisdom is you've gotta know when it's time to move on. And there is real power in that...

Friday, March 17, 2017

St. Patrick's Day in New York City

I AM SOMEWHERE IN NEW YORK CITY today with Lilly. It's our first full day in the city, and, since it's St. Patrick's Day -- they are expecting 2 million people along the 5th Avenue parade route.

YIKES.

To avoid that crowd, the five of us (me, Lilly, Deb, Stacy and Lexi) are headed in the opposite direction -- down to Mood Fabrics, then Macy's...a ride on the Staten Island Ferry (for a free view of the Statue of Liberty)...

Tonight, we have tickets to see the movie Beauty and the Beast at the only theater in New York City with recliner seats!!

Even though we are going to try to avoid the actual parade -- it's going to be fun to be Irish today!!
Of course, I had to Frankensew a shirt...It started out as a graphic New York City shirt...

Until I cut it up -- added one green sleeve, a shamrock and an Irish flag.
Wow. Life just doesn't get any better than this, people!!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

My NYC Week


In 2012, I went to New York City with Ann Sagawa, and we spent a great day with my friend Jeff. I will ALWAYS remember the day we had lunch at Serendipity -- with the frozen hot chocolate!!



Here's my favorite picture from that visit -- the Hey Rita totebag with the Mood dog, Swatch.

Lilly is hoping to get her picture taken with Swatch!!  We watch Project runway all the time...


Jeff, in his usual "if-the-Unibomber-was-gay" costume...

Jeff is a one-of-a-kind individual. His sarcastic point of view about people and life -- his artistic attitude and incredible succinct way with words always makes me think.

Who else would host a "Chrismakwanzukkah" party?

Really. That's just so good, I'm gonna steal it....I love it....

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Lexi's Graduation Gift!!

For the next week or so -- this blog may be blank.  OR -- it may be some past posts about NEW YORK CITY...

The year was 2009...
My sister Deborah took ALL HER GIRLS to New York City. Her daughters Glennda and Emily, her DIL Stacy, and her two granddaughters, Lexi and Allie.

Lexi was 11 years old at that time.  And now -- she's 18 and graduating from high school.
Lexi and her Mom Stacy...
My favorite picture of Deborah on that trip.
Lexi, Stacy and Grandma Deb...
Fast forward.

Lexi is a Senior in high school this year.  Deb asked her what she wanted as a graduation gift, she said...I'D LIKE TO GO BACK TO NEW YORK CITY...

WHAT A FABULOUS IDEA, KIDDO!!

Once again, Deborah invited me to join them as the official tour guide...and I begged her to let me bring Lilly along.  SO WE'RE DOING IT.

I've been in training for five months...exercising every day, eating right, walking, swimming...hoping I'll be able to KEEP UP WITH THE YOUNG-UNS...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Lessons and New York City.

This week -- I am taking 8-year old Lilly to New York City.  I was 46 years old the first time I . 
went to NYC...

It was 1996, and  "Life Is Not A Dress Size" was about to be published.

It was on the Chilton Book Company 1996 Fall List.

I don't have a single picture from that trip.  But this is what I remember...

I'd spent an entire year writing Life Is Not A Dress Size.  My publisher put together a twelve-city marketing campaign.  UNHEARD OF!!  I was beyond excited.  But when they asked me to go to New York City to do a presentation about LINADS to a room full of "book reps", I was terrified. 

For one thing, I had never been to New York City...and I thought of it as a very scary, dangerous place.

For another thing, I didn't even know there was such a job as "book rep".

But, with my biggest EVER show of Bravado (Websters dictionary:  1: blustering swaggering conduct: a pretense of bravery. 2: the quality or state of being foolhardy.) I said I WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO GO TO NEW YORK CITY...

By the time I got into my room at the dismal (soon-to-be-demolished) Mayflower Hotel, I WAS SO GLAD to be behind a locked door.  I sat in a small, cramped, run-down hotel room all night -- and ate a tasteless, lukewarm hamburger from room service because I was afraid to go out alone.  I was sure I would be attacked, or mugged, or robbed...

But I couldn't sleep because I was nervous about doing the presentation, and also -- there had been some tornadoes back in Iowa, and I'd had many worried phone calls back and forth with my family...

Considering my audience was a room full of 300 MEN,  my morning presentation went pretty well -- but as soon as it was over, I went back to my room to take a nap.  I WAS EXHAUSTED...
 
But the maid was making my bed.   As she was working and I was trying not to fall asleep -- we had a conversation about our very different lives.  Her name was Consuelo, and 17 years ago, she came to NYC from Puerto Rico.  She and her three children lived in Harlem, and it was a 30 minute bus/subway ride for her to get to work.  She did her grocery shopping every day on her way home, and she had to carry the bags up four flight of stairs.  She'd never driven a car or mowed grass.  Consuelo had never been out of the State of New York.

When I told her I was from Iowa, she immediately said, "Iowa was on the news this morning -- they had those horrible tornadoes last night." 

me:  "Yes, they were in my area.  My sister's roof was blown off her house."

With real awe in her voice, Consuelo looked me right in the eye and said:  I will never understand why people would choose to live in such a scarry, dangerous place...

Clearly, Consuelo was just as clueless about Iowa as I was about New York City.


The next morning, I wrapped my purse strap around my neck (twice) and left the hotel room to walk around Central Park.  Then down 5th Avenue.

The very next year, I took my sisters to New York City.   In 2000, I took the subway down to the World Trade Center and saw Leanne Womack in concert on the Plaza, singing Why Don't You Dance. 

I've been to New York with my sisters, Ronda, Deena and Deb, my cousins Kim, Jackie and Linda, and my friends Eileen, Donna, Mary, Judy, Ginny, Marion, Luveta, Ann, Sandy, Carol, and Evelyn.   One of the highlights of my life was planning a NYC trip for 53 readers of Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine.  

I am an unabashed lover of New York City, and I often say "if I wasn't so content living in the middle of my cornfield, I would live in New York City."





And I can't help but wonder who I would be if I'd seen New York City when I was eight years old...

Monday, March 13, 2017

My Sewing Sister Quilt Top

Here's another benefit of being a WOMAN WHO SEWS..
.
I am always -- I mean ALWAYS -- planning my next project. My brain is on fire with WHAT I SHOULD SEW NEXT. The list is constantly changing...some things move up in priority -- other things drop off the list completely.

Not every idea comes to fruition...but it's the CONSTANT PLANNING that engages my imagination and keeps me looking forward to the NEXT BIG THING...

I saw this quilt top for the first time during Mary's visit...

Weeks later, when I saw this friendship quilt at the feedsack class...I experienced serious WHY-DIDN'T-I-BUY-IT-REMORSE...
Right after the feedsack class, I drove to the OTHER SIDE OF TOWN to see if that quilt top was still there.
AND IT WAS!! I could not believe my good luck. For only $15 -- I now own a piece of sewing history.
I'm not smart enough to know how to "date" this quilt top, but I'm pretty sure most of the printed fabrics are from feedacks.

Maybe I will do a Google search of the names on my quilt...who are you, Alice Ellingson or Hazel Truesdale?

But mostly, I am incubating an idea about how I can incorporate MY ACTUAL SEWING SISTERS into this fabulous quilt top...

Oh, yeah -- this is going to be special!!

***************
MMWI:  252.8

P.S.  I got an email from Doris, as she was worried when I didn't post my MMWI number.  The thing is, I usually write my posts in advance so they go up automatically...and the Monday morning blog has usually already published before I get out of bed and do the actual MONDAY MORNING WEIGHT IN.  So, I have to go back in to add the number...But I am committed to sharing this embarrassing information because it's how I keep track for myself.  And it's also how I stay accountable.  THANK you for all the encouraging emails...I feel wonderful and am looking forward to taking Lilly to NEW YORK CITY this week.  (Winter Storm Stella is coming, too.) 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Memories or Art?

Here's a picture of our usual TMBC. Week in, week out, the four of us gather at our local grocery store for a non-gourmet breakfast. Always the same time...(which is why we call it the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club)...and always the same agenda. Coffee, catch-up and sew'n tell. We do a download about our previous week...and we help each other plan what's coming up.
Sandy, me -- and our two Lindas.
The one I call LP has been making TWO versions of the Splendid Sampler.
After the year-long Splendid Sampler hub-bub, with the quilting fabric and new blocks flying around her house -- she decided it was time to SPRING CLEAN her sewing room.

After our inspirational feedsack class -- she dove into her stash, looking for a vaguely remembered little sugar bag that used to belong to her favorite Grandma...
EUREKA!! She found it!! Can you see the printing on the bottom of the bag? "Los Angeles, California". We discussed what could be done to remove the stains...but she decided there was too big a risk of also removing the ink...
LP brought the little sugar sack to TMBC to show it to us. She talked about her California Grandma, and how much she enjoyed the annual visits to her favorite Grandma. It's funny how something so small and so simple could snap a grown woman back to her childhood...a little girl, traveling across the country in the back of a station wagon (oops -- that could have been my memory, not hers...I mean -- didn't every family have a station wagon back then?)...

We declared it PERFECT -- just the way it is. LP took the little sugar sack home, stuffed it a bit to give it some shape -- and then framed it.
You never, ever know what a child will remember.

I wonder, one day -- when Lilly is 65 years old, what she might touch that will remind her of me??

Friday, March 10, 2017

Feedsack Inspiration

As you well know -- one of the joys of my life is SEWING. I do it all the time -- almost every day. There are so many aspects of sewing that bring joy to my life.

The most important thing is, of course, THE SISTERHOOD. I have always enjoyed being in the company of other women who love to sew.  We share an instant bond...on so many levels. When I meet another woman who sews, I know who she is...

In my sewing life, I've had thousands of encounters with women who sew. Sometimes, they became friends. But, more often, our meeting is brief -- we share a meal, or a speaking stage, or work on a show together. But I am telling you -- when I look back at my sewing life -- I have never met a woman who sews who wasn't both kind and smart.

And that's pretty remarkable...

At the Feedsack class last week, with my sewing sisters of the TMBC...I started to think about this sewing sisterhood...
At the class, they handed out this essay about Feedsacks...
A hexi quilt top, made from Feedsacks...
The woman who made this quilt top had an incredible eye for color, didn't she?  And I wonder about her story...and how much I would have enjoyed spending time with her...
This "friendship" quilt top has been handed down through three generations of sewing women...TIME TO FINISH THE QUILT, GIRL!!
I was SO INSPIRED by that "name" quilt -- that I started to obsess about a similar quilt top I did not buy when Mary was here. Remember our trip to the antique mall -- with all those great $15.00 quilt tops? Mary bought one, and so did I, and then Sandy went back to buy one...but we all passed on the name quilt...OH MY GOD -- what was I thinking?? COULD IT STILL BE THERE??  WAITING FOR ME??

Saturday afternoon, after our Feedsack class, and a great lunch -- I went back to that antique mall...and guess what??
I paid $1 for a big bag of Feedsack fabric scraps!!
Really -- that bag was LOADED!!
But it's just possible that some scraps really are too small to keep!!
And WHAT ABOUT THAT FRIENDSHIP QUILT??

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Happy Birthday Lilly!!

Today Lillian Claire is 8 years old. Being a Grandma is the best job I ever had. We've had a wonderful year. We kicked it off last March -- when she turned 7 -- with a trip to Chicago.

This March -- our trip is to NEW YORK CITY!!

Here's a photo review of 2016...Chicago, Grandma Camp, some cooking, some games...lots of ordinary days, with a few very special moments.

What would my life be without you?
Happy Birthday, Lilly. You are my heart...