I’m Back–No More Silence!

I realized I was quiet the month of September.  It is unusual for me to be quiet.  No thoughts, no words, no memories.  It was a hard month.  I was so desperately tired of politics, and it seemed to be in my face.  I was still at our Missouri home with a sales contract that was about to expire.  I was not going places like the past because of Covid-19.  It was just a hard month.  

Life, as we knew it, has not been the same since early March of this year.  We sheltered in place in Arizona.  We washed all our packages from the grocery store.  We were washing or hands every other minute.  All I could think about was getting back to Missouri to see our children and hope they were healthy.  

We weren’t sure how to get there in the midst of a pandemic, and having a three day trip where we didn’t want to stay in hotels or eat in restaurants (if any were even open).  Then Dennis got a stroke of genius.  He decided what would work is to purchase a travel trailer that was small enough that his car could pull it.  The only stops we had to make were for gas, and RV parks along the way.  If the RV parks were full, we could boondock in a Walmart parking lot.  

We found a trailer in April, and asked the dealership if they could hold it for a month so we could just pick it up when we were ready to leave for Missouri.  It was quite an adventure.  Our trailer was small, but had a love seat that fold down to a queen size bed, table with two reclining chairs, and a full bathroom, although a small one!  It had a ton of storage, so we were good to go.  We did find that the 2 recliners were pretty useless—first the bolts fell out of them on our first few hundred miles of driving, and the seats were too low for the table.  We have since replaced them with 2 regular chairs, and it was a perfect solution.

We made our way to Missouri, and parked the trailer in front of our home—our home is in the country, so there are no rules about parking a travel trailer.  We made a couple trips into the St. Louis area, and stayed several days at an RV park.  We could visit family without having to stay anywhere but our own place.

Things weren’t much different in Missouri than Arizona.  While Covid-19 was raging through the state of Arizona, it had not yet hit hard the middle of the state of Missouri.  Because it hit hard in the city of St. Louis, visiting our kids was limited.  They were wearing masks 24/7 outside their homes.  They were wary of us coming from the hot spot of Arizona.  

My grandkids ended their school year doing online classes.  My grandson who was a freshman at the University of Missouri, moved back home to finish his classes.  The university was refunding a good portion of their housing money if they moved out.  By June, Jack and his cousin, Niki, were tired of being confined in their parents’ homes, and they ventured their way to mid-Missouri where they stayed with us for almost three weeks.  It was so much fun to have them there.

But, that was not even easy.  A week after we arrived in Missouri, Dennis got sick.  I mean he got, “I cannot breathe sick.”  It was scary.  The really odd thing is that for three doctors’ visits no one suggested he get a Covid test.  Finally, we asked for one and was approved to get it to day the grandkids were to arrive.  I quickly called them and told them to not come until we got the results of the test.  Fortunately, Dennis got the results in 4 hours, and he was negative.  So, I called the kids, and they didn’t want to wait for the next day—they drove out that evening.  I think they really needed a change of scenery.

Their visit was not like previous visits where we went places and out to eat.  We were confined at our home.  The pool was used a lot, they took walks in our wooded neighborhood, an we played a lot of games.  It was a good break for all of us.  Then they went back home, and I needed things to keep me busy.  I started making quilt tops.  I became a sewing fool, but it kept me optimistic, and productive.  I am a project person, and I always need something to keep me going.  

As the summer moved on, the political world heated up.  There were demonstrations, okay, the most of them turned out to be riots.  Cities were burned, people were being nasty to their loved ones for not agreeing on things.  It was ugly.  It made me buy more fabric and limit my use of social media.

I was fortunate to make a couple trips. In July, I flew to the east coast to visit my sister. To my surprise, the airport in Washington D.C. was a ghost town. I had a great time visiting with her and her east coast kids and grandkids. Early September Dennis I drove to northern Georgia to visit dear friends/family. Their mountain home was a great retreat for us. The rest of  September was the low point.  I realized we didn’t see our kids as much as we wanted.  We didn’t see friends and extended family hardly at all.  Our contract on the house was about to expire, and I just wanted to go “home” to Arizona.  We planned our escape back for the first week in October.  It was time to go.  

Our house is back on the market, and we are getting really excellent showings and interest.  It is looking positive.  We packed up the whole house.  There is nothing left but furniture and a few cleaning products.  We traveled back with our trailer and stayed at the same RV parks we used going east.  When we pulled up to our Arizona home, I felt like I was truly home.  That was a good feeling.  We unpacked our trailer and took a couple days to unpack boxes and find new homes for the last of our Missouri belongings.  It feels good to be here.  We haven’t seen any Arizona family yet.  We are still finding our new normal.

The other day Dennis took the trailer back to the place we purchased it for a minor repair.  He said the lot was empty.  We bought our trailer before the everyone decided that was how to travel this year.  The lot was loaded with trailers of all sizes.   A friend of ours was thinking about purchasing a trailer, and when she priced them, they have doubled in price from when we bought ours!  Everyone is on the road with their RV!

So, here we are in Arizona.  Yesterday I took four of my quilt tops to a long arm quilting lady.  No, her arm isn’t super long—but her machine is!  I will continue sewing to keep me sane, and hopefully soon I will get to visit with my Arizona relatives.

Until then—I am back.  We are good.  We are happy to be back home.  Because we are still officially permanent Missouri residents, we voted at the city hall before we left.  Now I can ignore all the hoopla of the elections, and watch for the results on November 3.

Truth & Kindness

Truth . . . is it important?  This political season appears to be about “truth.”  We hear the word “lie” all the time on both sides of the political spectrum.  But, are we really wanting the truth?  And, where does truth come from?

For a few weeks I have been bothered by some statements I read on Facebook.  What is new with that?  Everyone is bothered by what someone is saying during this political time.  I will not state what was talked about in detail.  I see things all the time published that say things about Biden, and things about Trump.  I take them all with a grain of salt.  I am not sure anyone knows the truth any longer.

Anyway, the item on the internet this time was about President Trump.  It was something that they said he said, but taken out of context, taken from a different discussion about something else.  There were several people who were with him at the time he supposedly made the statement, and one of them, who is not a fan or friend of his, said that the president never said those comments.  He was with him that day, and that was a false report.  I tend to believe that when someone, who has no reason to support someone they are opposed, makes that kind of stand.  So, I did something I don’t normally do—I made a comment on this Facebook post that it was untrue, that even his non-supporter said it was untrue.  I was hoping the person who posted this would remove it.  What surprised me was not that it remained posted, but a comment replied to my comment.  Fortunately, it was from a person I do not know at all.  Here is the comment quoted verbatim:  “At this point does it even matter if it’s true? This is exactly the kind of thing he’s known for saying . . . .”   My reply was, “the truth ALWAYS matters.”

Does the truth always matter?  As a follower of Jesus, I think the truth always matters.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life . . . .”  ~John 14:6.  He also said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  Knowing truth sets me free.  I don’t have to live in fear.  There is a freedom in Christ that only those who have their faith in him can understand.  

As I look at what our media is saying, I just shake my head.  How do we know what is the truth?  How do we quit spewing falsehoods because it fits our narrative?  

I don’t listen or read the news very often.  I do listen to what people actually say, not just candidates, but people around me.  What is their source of truth?  Do we just believe something because it feels good?  Do we believe something because that is what we want it to be?  What is your standard for truth?  If it is just what you think is the thing because you like it, it fits what you want to believe—does truth change when you change?  Because we all change over time.  Why should I believe your truth today, and then five years from now your truth changes?  

For me truth is based in Scripture.  Did you know that there are over 5,000 manuscripts of the New Testament that were found by archeologists?  There are less manuscripts by Plato (only 5) describing Socrates (who never wrote anything—and Jesus never wrote anything), and yet people do not deny the existence or words of Socrates.  Interesting, isn’t it?  The gospels were written by eye witnesses to Jesus, what he did and what he taught.  They are from four different points of view, but none contradict the other.  God’s truth never changes.  He doesn’t change his mind.  He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

So, as I watch what is happening in my country—the election, the protests, people spouting whatever they believe is happening, I look at it though the eyes of truth.  I am human, and I make mistakes and may not see it as clearly as I should, but my source of truth will not change.  I have something I can rely on.

If I have to vote for someone based on what other people tell me that I should think, I have given my power to them.  Who are the candidates—what did they really say?  You won’t hear the private conversations unless they are on a “hot mic.”  Listen to what they say, not to what others say about them.  Then do your homework.  Did they do what they said they would do?  Our candidates both now have political records.  What is true?  What legislation did they actually put through?  What have they done?  Does it fit what we want to hear or not hear?  Does it fit what is true?  

What is really sad to me is that there are more than 2 candidates running for president, but our system silences their voices.  I believe if you are able to get on the ballots, you should be able to debate.  Why do you need a number of votes before you can be on the debate floor?  The debate is not an election.  Let’s hear from all of them—the good, the bad, the ugly, and the crazies!

Let’s seek truth.  I saw a Facebook post that said our vote is not a Valentine, for the person who we “love.”  We should be voting for the person who we believe will take us where we want to be as a country.  We should know if what we want is based on a truth.

What happened to “agree to disagree”?  Why does someone have to get in my face to tell me what they think of me because I disagree with them?  Some say they did not get in my face, but writing something about how you feel about someone who thinks differently (and it is a judgmental statement) is “getting in my face.”  Why does one have to cry out all their thoughts about what they think of other people on the other side to make their point?  Where is that word “tolerance” — which seems to be in no one’s vocabulary any longer.  

Tell me what is good about your candidate?  Tell me why you think they deserve a vote.  Don’t tell me why you hate the other candidates.  Don’t tell me what you think of me because I don’t agree.  

I pray everyday that we will love one another.  I don’t see a lot of love.  The Golden Rule, which is actually something Jesus taught us, says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” ~Matthew 6:31. Do you want people to disparage you for your beliefs?  Same goes here.  It would be great if we can at least follow the golden rule, and not only treat others, but also speak about others as you wish them to speak about you.  Hmm.  Food for thought.

This Week In My Life

Yay!  We have gotten through the two major political conventions.  It is such a shame that we don’t get to see the conventions for the Libertarians and other political parties who feel they would do the best job in Washington.  I don’t do politics on social media.  Most of my friends and family know where I stand, but I don’t want to get into arguments with anyone.  I don’t want them to call me all the mean nasty names, or say they cannot figure out why on earth I think like I do.  If I recall, this country set up a system of secret ballots so that no one would be intimidated from voting the way they believed.  What happened to the idea that I don’t want to tell how I am voting, and you shouldn’t ask.  Yep.  We need “don’t ask, don’t tell” when it comes to elections.  How much nicer the election year would be!

So . . .  I continue to purchase fabric, and find designs that grab my attention, and dive into piecing quilts for my pure enjoyment.  I just completed a quilt top.  I was so pleased with it. I loved the design and I loved the fabric.  I laid it out across our king size bed.  I am standing on a two-step stool to take its photo to share with my quilting Facebook groups.  Dennis kept pointing at one of the squares.  Why was he putting his finger in my photo?  Then I saw what he saw—I put a square together upside down two rows into my finished top!  I have carefully, with my handy seam-ripper, taken out the square to put in properly so the design will all go the right way.  My new challenge—how to pull a square out that has all ready been surrounded by completed rows to make a change!  I will do the fix this week.  I think it will be easier than it sounds (I hope).

In the meantime, I have put up all my sewing materials because I am using my dining room in Missouri as my sewing room.  This weekend I was hosting a family at our home whom I have never met.  

How does that happen?  I don’t run an Airb&b.  But I do what I can do when I find out someone needs help.  A few weeks ago, I learned that a relative of my sister’s husband was sick.  She was diagnosed with cancer.  She is young, married and has three little children.  He husband is stationed at Fort Leonard Wood here in Missouri.  She is having her surgery in Columbia, Missouri, near our home.  I connected with her on Facebook.  I invited her family to come to our home for the weekend to have a quiet vacation-like weekend before she has major surgery.  

I don’t want a pat on the back for doing this.  We have a large home in Missouri, and are able to offer this.  If the tables were turned, and one of my children were going through something like this away from all their family and friends, I would hope someone would do the same for them.  The two school-aged boys spent their whole time here in the swimming pool.  They came out of the water for meals, and to sleep at night.  I have never seen two little boys have so much fun in a pool.  We ended their weekend with a wiener roast at the fire pit, and S’mores for dessert.  They have gone back home to be in school this week.  We will host her husband and baby while mom is in the hospital, and he will be close by.

I ask that all of you who read this blog will pray for Anita.  This will be the first surgery, and probably not the only one.  Pray for all the doctors and healthcare workers who will be tending to her.  Pray for a successful surgery and healing.  Pray for little boys who don’t understand what a cancer diagnosis means, and pray for a husband who has a lot on his plate, working full time in the military and tending to this family he loves dearly.

She is only expected to be in the hospital for two or three days.  Having her family here was a gift to me.  I loved watching those little boys play and love on their mom and dad.  The only thing I had to do was make sure food was on the table—and I usually do that daily anyway.  

Later this week, I will attempt to fix my “broken” square and complete the quilt top.  I have more fabric and a plan to start the next quilt.  I’m super stoked to keep sewing to keep my mind on things that are not stressful or controversial.  I get to make quilts with love.  I know to whom they are going, so as I stitch them, I think of these people who I love, and hope they will love wrapping themselves in my little bit of my artwork.

Thank you for reading this.  Prayers for my new friend and her family are most appreciated.  

Quarantine quilting

I have been on hold for a while.  I felt a bit like an airplane that was put in a holding pattern because of bad weather and told not to land yet.  So around and around the city I fly wondering when I can touch down.  I think I let social media and the news get to me.  People can be so quick to judge, and they can only judge from where they stand.  I don’t stand where anyone else does, nor does anyone stand in my place.  I was feeling low.  I was feeling like I was not allowed to have the feelings I have.  So, I switched off.

When Covid-19 first hit, I was in a minor panic stage.  I didn’t know what this virus was, how one gets it, and how dangerous it might be to go anywhere, especially since I am considered that “old” person who might die from it.  When we were told we were going to have to shelter in place, I decided I needed a project to keep me busy—to keep my mind off the scary stuff, and to keep me productive.  I chose making a quilt.

I was in Arizona at the time, and I diligently worked on the quilt top.  The week we were ready to leave for Missouri, I shipped the quilt top off to the long arm quilting lady who was from my Missouri town, but had since moved to Florida.  (For those of you who don’t quilt—she doesn’t have one arm that is super long—her quilting machine has a long arm. (Just wanted to clear that up from the image of a “long-armed quilting lady”).  Rather than finding a new person locally, I sent it to her, and told her to return it to my Missouri address.  The quilt will be a gift, and will be delivered to the recipient in just a few weeks.

Now I am in Missouri and things have not changed a lot.  In fact, the first month in Missouri Dennis got terribly sick.  He couldn’t breathe.  No, he didn’t have Covid, but he couldn’t breathe.  He is almost completely better, and we still do not know the exact reason for his respiratory distress, but we are taking the most caution in our lives.  We go the store, masked properly and properly spaced.  We avoid crowds.  We do our hiking in our neighborhood, and we pretty much stay home.  It was time to do another quilt.  I purchased some charm packs I saw online, so I found a pattern that I really loved and decided to make a lap quilt. For non-quilters a charm pack is a pack of fabric cut into five inch squares.  I ordered the fabric for the background color, and lo and behold, the same place that only took three days to deliver my order, took almost two weeks.  My project was on hold.  

While the project was on hold, I decided to visit my sister who lives in West Virginia, near the Maryland, Washington D.C., and Virginia border.  I was a bit wary of flying, but was assured that all precautions were being taken by the airlines.  The airport in St. Louis was busy but nothing like it was in previous flights I have taken.  The Dulles Washington D.C. airport was like being in Twilight Zone.  It was, for all intents and purposes, empty.  Changing planes in Atlanta found the busiest of all three airports.  I spent my week with my sister, and her granddaughters.  It was a great week to just kick back and relax.

Coming back home I had all my materials ready to start my quilt top, when I realized I was out of thread.  Dennis and I drove in to Columbia to one of their quilting stores to pick up a spool of thread.  This was going to be a quick visit.  When I got out of the car to run into the store, Dennis told me to take a look at their sewing machines because I have been talking about upgrading.  I laugh that I just bought the most expensive spool of thread on the planet—it came with a sewing machine!  I went from a Volkswagen of a sewing machine to a Lamborghini.  Didn’t even go with the mid size car—jumped immediately to the fancy sports car with all the bells and whistles.  Part of the reason was that I found a used machine that had only 80 hours sewing time (yes, it has an internal clock), it has wifi, and it does everything except make my lunch.  This Lamborghini of a sewing machine was one half the price of buying it new.  The store offers four three-hour classes to learn how to do all the things this machine can do.  I haven’t finished the classes yet, so maybe I will find the button where it makes my lunch!

I came home with thread and a new sewing machine.  As I was putting the top together, I realized I didn’t quite cut the pieces properly.  It was going together, but not as well as it should have.  I was thinking of scrapping the whole project when Dennis came in the room to look at the work.  He said he loved it, and would really like me to make it for him.  I asked why he liked it so much, and he said, “because it is really you.”  So my perfectly imperfect quilt is going to my husband when complete.  

The top is completed, I have bought the fabric for the back which I think will be perfect for it.  I am now moving on to my other quilt top.  I still love the pattern I used, and now that I am very familiar with its construction, this is the pattern I will be using.  When I was in St. Louis coming back from my West Virginia trip, I stopped at a quilt store and bought the most fabulous fabric.  It was not in charm pack, but I am perfectly capable of cutting a lot of 5” squares.  I have more control of my fabric choices this way.  When you buy a charm pack, you get what they give you.  This way I purchased 1/2 yards of many different fabrics that I thought would go great together.

Lesson learned–using directional fabric made putting this quilt together like working a crossword puzzle!

I have come to realize that I don’t make quilts just to make quilts.  The pattern has to speak to me, and the fabrics also have to speak to me.  For me a quilt is a work of art.  It’s a step above paint by number.  If I bought a quilt kit with the pattern and the fabric selected for me, I would feel like I was doing a paint by number.  Other people in the world have also made this identical quilt with the identical fabric.  That is not me.  I want some input into my projects that are part of me and no one else.

My fabrics for my next 2 lap quilts. One will have the dark purple background, and the other the light purple.

I’m revving up my Lamborghini, and I’m getting ready for another run around the track.  I’m still cutting 5” squares.  I need a total of 144 squares before I can start sewing.  This will take a little bit of time.  It’s the part I like least about quilting—all the cutting.  I could buy charm packs, but for me it takes aways my creativity.  Maybe sometime later, after I am ready to let go of my choosing everything to the time saver of precut fabric.  I’m just not there yet.

This has kept me in a positive mood.  I think about each project and who potentially I want to gift it to.  I hope they will cherish it knowing I made it especially with them in mind.  I cannot give names, but I have several people who will be receiving them.  

What are you doing during this stressful time to keep yourself going?  How do you fill your time when things feel tough?  Please share your thoughts.  I want to learn from you also.

 I will try to be more consistent with my posting.  I just couldn’t find words I felt worthy to share for a few weeks.  I love and appreciate each one of you who stop for a few minutes to read what I write.  I hope I can encourage you to find something to give you joy.

The Odd and Strange Summer of 2020!

I have not written anything in a while.  This has been an unusual summer.  Ha!  Hasn’t it been all of 2020?  Do you even remember before March when everything seemed normal?  Nothing has been normal since that date.

When I write my blogs, I want to be in a good place mentally so that I am an encouragement rather than a drag on my readers.  It just seemed hard to do.  When we arrived in Missouri in May, about a week after our arrival, Dennis got sick, and I mean “I can’t breathe” kind of sick.  He did not have COVID-19, thank God, but he was sick for about three weeks.  There are no real answers yet, although he is feeling good again.  What would cause such lung distress?  He has cardiology and pulmonary appointments in the coming weeks that may answer some fo the questions.  He was at his primary card doctor last week, and I was allowed to be there also.  The doctor listened to his heart and lungs and stated that they were nice and clear.  Go figure.

That started our most unusual summer.  I think I just feel out of place here in mid-Missouri.  I has been my home for 7 years, but I feel our Arizona home is more home.  That could be that we have the majority of our belongings there.  We have a minimum here in Missouri.  If we have more than two guests, we must use paper plates, since the majority of our dishes are in Arizona.  We call this our vacation home even though it is still our primary residence.  We live in an area of Arizona where we have many goods and services just down the road, unlike living in the country.  We have made meaningful friendships there.

There is the another reason this summer is unusual.  I fully expected that we would close on the Missouri house and not be here this summer, or maybe just for part of the summer.  It looks like we will be here the whole summer.  That is a good thing since the Coronavirus is running rampant in Arizona, and it is not a good time to return.  We are not sure when a good time to return will be.  We definitely have to figure out this breathing issue before we go back to a place where the danger of catching the virus is high.  That may delay our return from our planned September date.  Being here as long as we will be here was not in the plan.  Once again, God’s timing is always better than mine, and it is good we are stuck in the country where the virus is not as crazy as it is in the cities.  

Then there is the unrest in this country.  It was ugly.  I don’t watch the news much right now because I find it distressful.  I understand being upset by what appeared to be a tragic death, but I don’t understand destroying property and harming others.  I don’t understand the hate, and yes, to me it feels like hate.  It makes me sad, and it makes me worried for our future generations if this kind of behavior is acceptable.  I don’t understand defunding police departments.  There are such sweeping generalizations that if there are a few bad apples, we just get rid of them all.  Law and order doesn’t seem to be of importance any longer.  

So, I haven’t written anything.  I spend my days walking 3 miles in our neighborhood, hitting the pool, playing dominoes with Dennis, watching movies, and cooking.  I’m working on creating some more quilts, but with the pandemic, it is hard to get fabric and supplies easily.  I have been waiting a week for a delivery that has yet to arrive.

Life is not normal.  I miss seeing my friends.  I miss going to church to worship.  We stream our service every Sunday, and that has been good, but getting out of the house just feels good sometimes.  

The end of this week I am flying from St. Louis to Dulles Airport in Washington D.C.  My sister lives an hour from there in West Virginia.  I am going to spend a week with her.  I understand that Southwest Airlines is not filling the center seats, and everyone is required to wear face masks.  I think the trip should be safe.  I think a change of scenery will be good for me.  When I arrive back a week later, we will have our travel trailer parked at an RV park outside of St. Louis and we will spend a week hanging out there.  I’m not sure if I will be seeing anyone other than our kids, since we have been careful who we are connecting with for health reasons.

I went out to lunch with a few ladies last week.  It was the first time I ate inside a restaurant since early March.  It was a little unsettling.  This new normal is still a learning curve.

I know that in the meantime God is working.  He is in control.  God is always working behind the scenes.  Sometimes we don’t see it until after the fact.  Then it’s like an ahh-haa moment.  We see how we were blessed in the midst of everything we do not understand.

That’s where I am today.  Just moving along.  Going with the flow.  Accepting things as they are, changing what I have control of, and letting go of what I cannot do.  It will all work out.  

I wish for this world peace and contentment.  I wish for you during this crazy year, peace and contentment.  

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