An Evening Of Song, A Bottle Of Wine and A Wombat

While on our way to the EAA Airventure in Oshkosh, Gramps and I stopped to visit cousins in Dubuque, Iowa.  It’s a wonderful town on the Mississippi River, bordering Wisconsin and Illinois.  The weather was perfect and one evening we took snacks and a bottle of wine to a music concert at the arboretum.

The evening was cool (in July!), the grass was covered with blankets and lawn chairs and the air was filled with the singing voices of young people from all over Wisconsin.  We sipped our favorite wine from handmade glasses and shared a wonderful occasion with some of our favorite relatives.  The whole time we were surrounded by flowers, trees and bushes of magnificent beauty.  Could we have had a more perfect time?

Oh, and in the midst of this idyllic scene I saw a young woman carrying a small furry animal.  It wasn’t a cat or a dog.  It was . . . well, it was a wombat.  That’s right , a wombat.  A baby wombat in the arboretum in Dubuque, Iowa!

It was all snuggled up in a blanket and seemed as mesmerized by the stunning singing voices as we were.  But really, a wild animal in a crowded group of people just didn’t seem normal to me.  No one else seemed bothered, just me.

At the end of the program, we all showed our immense appreciation, finished off the last of the wine, gathered our belongings and headed home.  What a splendid evening we all had.

I think the wombat had a good time too!

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It’s Not All About The Fireworks

fireworks2July 4th was a special day for Gramps and me. We took the boat out on the lake to watch the fireworks put on by the local city. Sounds like a simple event, doesn’t it? Go see a bunch of big booms and then go home. But the way Gramps and I do it, it takes almost all day and becomes a grand affair.

First there was the beautiful boat ride across the lake to get to the prearranged spot. The sky had clouded over, which dropped the temperature pleasantly. We passed by the dam and saw many

birds and ducks on our way.

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IMG_0003We got to a perfect spot off shore with plenty of time to spare. After anchoring in place, Gramps put his fishing rods in the water. “Can’t catch anything if you don’t have a line in the water,” he always says.

Dozens of boats joined us in the cove. Some were playing music, some people were dancing, some swimming. Lots of children were laughing and beaming in anticipation. What a wonderful community we became.

While we watched a magnificent sunset, we enjoyed our picnic dinner of bratwurst, bean salad and hard boiled eggs. How peaceful! How serene!

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When the sun finally set, we were all ready for the fireworks show. It was brilliant and exciting and very colorful. Oohs and aahs followed each explosion. Applause was heard from all directions. Children and adults alike had a great American moment watching the fireworks.

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As the fireworks finale came to a close, we all lingered on the water. It seemed our new little community wanted to savor the day and evening. No one wanted it to end.

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Finally Gramps and I slowly motored back across the lake by the light of a half moon. Talk about romantic!

We had such a grand day filled with calm, excitement, quiet, big bangs, good food, fellowship and shared moments. And the fireworks were actually only one part of the day.

A Heavenly Retreat

I just returned from heaven! Well, not exactly. It was actually a quilt retreat, but it sure felt like heaven.

Twenty women gathered for four days to sew, talk, laugh, share and produce quilts. Does it get any better than that? I think not!

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This is what heaven surely looks like. Maybe not quite so cluttered, but certainly as colorful, as friendly, as relaxed, as exciting and as inspiring. I can hardly think of a place I’d rather be than in a room like this, filled with people like these.

IMG_0856Quilters generally are the most friendly, giving people. They will share whatever they have, whether it be knowledge, experience, fabric, notions, space, tips. Whatever you need, if they have it, it’s yours.

And creativity? Oh my goodness! A quilt retreat is a wondrous overdose of creative thought, expression and production. Just look at these examples from the design walls.

IMG_0835Aren’t the colors in this quilt spectacular?

IMG_0837Already getting the Christmas spirit. What a cutie!

IMG_0838This quilt still has borders to be put on, but it is coming along nicely.

IMG_0840A modern version of Log Cabin.

IMG_0842What a beautiful blending of shades and colors.

IMG_0844A close up view of previous quilt to show the details of the blending. Isn’t it magnificent?

IMG_0845Isn’t it amazing how this quilt appears to curve?

IMG_0846How to make a curve in a quilt with straight lines.

IMG_0847Doesn’t this look like a garden of flowers?

IMG_0852A most superb star! With the sharpest points!

IMG_0853The center of the star. Amazing!

IMG_0857This quilt tells it’s own story of living in New York, Central Park, bicycle paths, a building called The Lyric, The Empire State Building, The Statue of Liberty and . . . . .

IMG_0859of course, quilting.

So I’m back from heaven with quilts done, quilts started, quilts worked on, quilts planned. I laughed harder than I’d laughed in a long while, ate more than I should have, slept less than normal, sewed til it hurt and had the most wonderful, most productive, most exhausting time. I wish I was back there now.

The Joy Of A Good Brrr!

Here we are in Texas having one of the colder winters in memory. Trying to stay warm has become a full-time job for most of us, Gramps and Granny included. There is whining and sniveling going on in all corners and everyone seems to be wishing for summer to come now, not later.

Granted, we are not shoveling our way out of mounds of packed snow or dealing with subzero temperatures, but a little ice and sleet go a long way here in the new Old West. And believe me, we can complain about the weather better than most.

Joy ChooseBut in the midst of all this misery, I have tried to see the joy and wonder of it all. Most of the time I feel as though I’m swimming upstream by myself, but I am determined to make this my year of joy.

So I share with you the happiness of cold that I have discovered.

1 – The joy of winter clothes. I love the feel of sweaters and sweatshirts. Adding scarves is very fashionable now. Fancy socks have become my new passion and joy. Wearing my fuzzy slippers around the house is a real hoot!

2 – The joy of winter foods. I love soups and chili and stews with bread and wine. I love pot roast. I love holiday fare with warm pie ala mode. I love hot apple cider.

3 – The joy of fires in the fireplace. Gramps and I have one every evening on these cold days. Very cozy and romantic! And our new house has a gas starter, which makes it so easy for Gramps.

4 – The joy of Winter Olympics. Love the skating, the skiing, the snowboarding, the luge. Love the whole thing – all of it – from the opening flame lighting to the closing ceremony.

5 – The joy of the cat. I adore having our new kitten Oreo sleep on my lap, purring and providing lots of furry warmth on a cold day. We even take naps together! How wonderful is that!!

6 – The joy of cuddling. Gramps and I tend to sit closer together on a wintery day. We hold hands to keep warm when walking outdoors. And who can say no to a warm snuggly hug?

7 – The joy of candlelight. With these early sunsets and more darkness in the evenings, I use candles more often. I love the look, the feel and the aroma of candles. Sometimes we turn out all the electric lights and just use the fireplace and some candles. What ambience!

8 – The joy of indoors. When grandkids come over and it is too cold for outside fun, we must rely on inside activities. We love board games, puzzles, reading, old movies, new 3D movies, cooking and crafts. Indoors can be as fun as outdoors.

9 – The joy of sightseeing. How about a family slide show or movie night? Or a road trip without getting out of the car? Can’t be beat, really.Joy Oh

So no more whining and moaning for me. I’m having a grand time in this chilly month. I’m finding the joy in the cold! Brrr!!!!

Flat Shawn Goes To Texas

A few weeks ago Gramps and I got a letter from our grandson Shawn. He said his teacher had just read a great book called “Flat Stanley”, about a fictitious boy named Stanley who was flattened one night by his bulletin board. He becomes only half an inch thick.

In the book, Stanley’s parents mail him to his friend for a vacation because they can’t afford to pay for a plane or train ticket.

Shawn further wrote that he needed our help with a class project related to Flat Stanley. He had enclosed a laminated mini Shawn and asked if we would please take it to several exciting places in our city and take pictures of Flat Shawn enjoying himself, then return the pictures when we were done.

Well, Gramps and I were thrilled to do this for Shawn. We took Flat Shawn everywhere with us for several weeks and took pictures of some great adventures. I wrote a story of all the places and fun times Flat Shawn had. Here it is for you to enjoy.

Flat Shawn Goes To Texas

Flat Shawn lives in Arizona. His grandparents, Granny and Gramps, live in Texas. Flat Shawn decided to visit Granny and Gramps, so he jumped into an envelope and was mailed to Texas. It only took three days to get there, but Flat Shawn was very glad to get out of the envelope and stretch his legs.

Granny and Gramps were so happy to see Flat Shawn. They loved him a lot and wanted him to meet all their friends.

Flat Matt Haircut

First Flat Shawn had to get a haircut and get cleaned up. He wanted to look good for all his new adventures in Texas.

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Then Granny and Gramps took Flat Shawn out to dinner and a movie. He had a cheeseburger, french fries and a soda, his favorite meal. The movie was animated in 3D, so Flat Shawn wore special glasses so he could see everything. Everyone had a wonderful time.

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The next morning Flat Shawn went with Gramps in the car. Gramps let Flat Shawn help steer the car out of the driveway. That was so much fun!

IMG_0927 The two of them went to the car shop to get a new battery. Flat Shawn picked the one he liked the best – the green one. Then he helped Gramps put it in the car.

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While he was at the car shop, Flat Shawn found a truck door someone had left leaning against the wall. Guess what? He fit right inside! How funny was that? Flat Shawn thought it was funny too!

Right Edge w:Flat Matt

The next day Granny and Gramps took Flat Shawn with them to their Bible Study Class. Everyone was so happy to meet Flat Shawn. They all smiled and laughed and gathered around him to make him feel welcome. They even showed him a book in the Bible that had his same middle name – Matthew. How about that?

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Gramps wanted to show Flat Shawn all around his yard and garden. While the two of them were pulling weeds they found some mushrooms that had sprouted up overnight. Flat Shawn had fun pretending they were tables and he was ordering food. He and Gramps laughed and laughed.

Flat Matt & Mason

That evening, Flat Shawn’s cousin Mac came over to visit. He and Flat Shawn are good friends.They were surprised to see that they had the same color shirts on – red! They both played with the Legos and then sat together in the big blue recliner to watch some cartoons. They both liked the “Tom and Jerry” cartoons the best.

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Granny and Gramps love to sing and belong to the church choir. Flat Shawn had a great time with them at choir practice. He especially liked helping Miss Kitty play the organ. She used her fingers and Flat Shawn used his feet. What a team they made!

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After awhile, Flat Shawn wanted to play the piano tool He wasn’t supposed to do that because Miss Kitty was not there. But Flat Shawn thought he could do it by himself. Uh oh! Watch out! The piano lid fell right on Flat Shawn.

No worry! He wasn’t hurt because he’s already flat. Granny and Gramps got him out safe and all was well. That was close! Flat Shawn didn’t play with the piano again after that.

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The next day Gramps and Flat Shawn went looking for a new tractor. Flat Shawn picked his favorite again – the green one! Flat Shawn likes green.

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When they got home, Granny was decorating the house for Halloween. Flat Shawn wanted to help. He put out pumpkins, carved Jack-o-lanterns, made ghosts out of sheets, and hung a skeleton by the front door. The house was all set for Trick or Treaters.

Flat Shawn had so much fun visiting Granny and Gramps. He had lots of memories to take with him back home to Arizona. But right as he was about to jump back in his envelope, Gramps had one more surprise for him – a pet to take home! A gecko named Flat Gary. What a nice going away present is that!

Now Flat Shawn will have company in his envelope on his trip home. Won’t his parents be surprised when he arrives with Flat Gary?

Granny and Gramps hope Flat Shawn comes to Texas again for a visit soon.