Saturday, July 04, 2015

Catching up #4: Before and After

A trampoline used to fill this space. For years, the boys and friends enjoyed it. As they grew into adulthood though, the trampoline sat empty. With some missing side springs, rips in the surrounding net, and decrepit padding, it was starting to be a hazard ... and an unsightly one at that. Several years ago, we said good-bye to it, leaving an empty space that filled with weeds and grew unattractive and unusable for anyone but the bravest Frizcup players.

This spring was the time to make this section of the garden into a grandkid and visiting-little-ones-friendly area again.

Before ...

After ...

Before ...

After ... 


Before: Overgrown redtips, brush and weeds, no place to sit or play, unusable, unattractive

After: Redtips cut waaaaaay back, area cleared of weeds and mulched, paths lined with stones, sandbox, firepit, Mud Pie Cafe, baby swing, hammock, chairs, Frizcup "court"

We love our made-over backyard. I love that we have maintained the natural feel of the woods. We've already had several fires in the fire pit this summer. The sandbox has been used by grandchildren and friends. The Mud Pie Cafe has served lots of customers delicacies like mulch mud casserole and sand tea. Babies have been swung. Frizcup has been played. It's a usable, fun and relatively low maintenance space now.  A backyard for grandkids. Win,win, win!

Friday, July 03, 2015

Catching up #3: The garden


I can manage one garden area at a time it seems. The one that I attend to blooms and shines and the others seem to languish, weedy and sad looking, needing attention and loving care.

This year, I've focused on the back terrace/retaining wall garden, which is my favorite simply because I see it the most. I come in and out the door above the terrace so look down on it every time I come and go. I walk on the brick walk at its edge when I go down to the pool or take out the compost. I see it from the kitchen window, my reading chair, the porch, the deck. We put a whole lot of work into this area several years ago. It was the summer of 2007 when we dug into the collapsing hillside and built a retaining wall. A few years before that, we had terraced the hillside using busted up concrete slabs. My boys put a lot of muscle and sweat into this garden, so it's no surprise it's my favorite. I'm glad that it is finally really coming into its own.

I've planted several day lily cultivars in the past couple of years. This year they were so lovely.

The lemon thyme, rosemary, sage, lavender, and comfrey are well established. Parsley and basils of various types fill in the gaps. A couple of tomato plants find sun in the top terrace and volunteer butternut squashes are winding their way through the lower beds.

The knock-out, Julia Child, and other roses and the purple salvia were at their peak a few weeks back.

The white phlox and shasta daisies are starting to bloom. The pixie hydrangea has filled out nicely and the hostas are multiplying. I'd like a few more annual flowers for cutting. I did start seeds this spring, but they were old and the germination rate was poor. So, few or no bachelor buttons, cosmos, or zinnias.

Up next, some garden before and after pics ...

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Catching up #2: A Quilt Reveal

I love showing you quilts but can't always do it when they are in process because they are so often gifts. Erin and Luke celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary on June 5th (really??? 10 years! hard to believe). I'd been working on their quilt for ooooh, three or four years and was very glad to finish it and get it in the mail in time for their actual anniversary.

I suppose I wasn't actively working on it that long, but I did start collecting fabrics quite a while back. I also quizzed Erin on colors and quilt styles that she liked. She mentioned the Double Wedding Ring and together we picked a few fabrics. Fabric shopping with her was helpful and gave me good ideas about color and fabric styles. I also purchased a Marti Michell Double Wedding Ring template set a few years ago.

Maybe a year and a half back , I started cutting fabric. Lots and lots of little tiny arc pieces which were chain pieced over quite a few months. I would work on the quilt and then put it aside, pull it out again and have to re-read all my directions and start over. Did that a few times with both the arc piecing and the "clamshell" construction. (See here to get an idea of how it came together. This isn't the template set I used, but it's a helpful graphic).

97 "melons" with 1,358 tiny arc pieces sewn around 42 center diamonds later, I was done with the top! I chose vintage looking print for the back and used a Windsor blue marbled fabric to bind it. I'm pleased with both choices. The long arm quilting was done by Rebecca Verrier-Watt and, as always, her work is top notch!

I like to embroider my quilt labels and then hand-stitch them to the back.

Happy anniversary, Erin and Luke!

And thanks, Lindele - for reading, for your comment, and for your love of fabrics and quilting that inspired me so long ago. Wished we lived closer and could sew together!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Catching up #1

Oh, my word's been way too long, friends. I apologize. Though I do sometimes wonder if anyone lands in this space any more and bothers to read since I have been so remiss about posting lately. That's gotten to be a constant refrain, hasn't it?! I think about posting, but there just doesn't seem to be physical time or mental space to sit down and plunk it out here. But, I have hopes ... hopes of writing more.

How about a little catching up to start with. The last post was pre-triathlon. Andrew and I did the TriLatta on June 13th and I can honestly say that it was a blast! I was worried about the swim and figured if I made it through that open water swim without freaking out, I was good. I am happy to report that doing the practice swims paid off and I was calm and happy during the race. I never felt like I was hyperventilating, never had to roll over on my back, hardly even breast-stroked. It was easier than I anticipated to site the large red tomato shaped buoys and I even sort of "drafted" behind or alongside other swimmers. I was so happy when I finished the swim that I flashed a thumbs up at my cheering squad and headed up the hill to T1 (first transition).

I took my time getting ready for the ride. Wiped the sand and dirt off my feet. Put on socks. Drank some electrolyte drink. Remembered to tie on a bandana for the sweat (I hate getting sweat in my eyes) and buckle my helmet.

The bike ride was fun. I passed people going uphill. That, my friends, was a thrill that I had not expected. I passed a woman I had met the night before (at the pre-race meeting) on the uphills and she leapfrogged past me on the downhills. I ended up finishing before her in the bike portion, but she passed me on the run. No surprise there.

The run went pretty much as I expected, which is to say ... slow. Quite slow.  I walked some of the uphills, but did it with no shame as I saw people who were in front of me also walking. It was so encouraging to see Coty at several points along the run course. He is the epitome of race spectators. He figures out just where to go and shows up oftener than you expect along the course with claps, cheers, words of encouragement, and coaching. "Drop your shoulders, sweetheart. You're looking great!" (which I don't really think I was at that point, but it was still nice to hear, and yes, I did drop my shoulders and try to relax the rest of the way to the finish).

After crossing the finish line and seeing Coty and Andrew, I burst into tears. Just. so. happy! Andrew had finished strong, running the 5k at the end faster than he expected. We talked about doing the TriLatta again next year or finding another race. I'm thinking about a race in the fall, perhaps. We'll see. Anyway, I'm so glad we did it, enjoyed it thoroughly, and want to continue doing triathlons as long as I'm able.

Just a few more yards to go. 
There's Coty in the red shirt behind me heading toward the finish line.

My triathlon partner moves to New York City next week. Though we haven't trained together, except for a few bike rides, it meant a lot to work toward the same goal with my son, Andrew. Hoping we'll both keep it up and compete in another race together before too long!

Friday, June 05, 2015

One week to go

This time next week I'll have my race packet. I'll have my number on my bike and helmet. I'll have the bike loaded on the car ready to head to the park ridiculously early - 4:30 AM, that is, since the park gates will close at 6 AM and all competitors must be inside the park, ready for the 6:30 swim start (my swim start will be a bit later, since starts are staged according to age group and mine is one of the last - I think it's a 7:10 start).  I will have attended the pre-race gathering the evening before and heard race instructions. Training will be done. It'll be race day.

I'm fighting nagging nervousness. My panicky experience two weeks ago with the open water swim practice has me feeling a little less confident than I had been feeling. My trail run today, which felt long and slow has me a bit worried about that 5k at the end.

I'm trying to be positive, trying to do all the mental work to set myself up to finish well. I'm telling myself that my goal is to finish, but really, I'd love to do it in a good time, though what that is for this first-time sprint triathlete, I'm not really sure.  We shall see. (Yes, I did the Ramblin' Rose in 2012, but that wasn't an official sprint tri. The Tri Latta is an official distance).

Tomorrow I'll do another open water swim practice. I hope I can breathe after 20 yards and don't have to flip over on my back and talk myself out of panic. If I do have a panic reaction again, I know what to do. It'll be ok and I'll just keep stroking and breathing and get past it.

I am so grateful for the gift of health; for the ability to swim, bike, and run; for the support and encouragement of family and friends.  I haven't shared in this space the really good news that my RA is now in medical remission, but that, too, is a tremendous gift which means that now when I hurt, it's not because joints are being destroyed, but because I've done a hard workout. It also means that I live mostly pain free these days, swollen joints no longer inflamed, hands and wrists no longer hurting all the time, rings sliding on and off easily. I wake in the mornings and do not hobble downstairs. It is good.

A year ago, I could not have imagined feeling this well. I had gotten used to pain, forgotten what it felt like to not hurt all the time. I just thought pain was my life. So, honestly, whatever happens next Saturday, it's been a journey that has been so worth taking. I'm already starting to wonder about the next race and how to improve ...

For now, time to pack the swim bag and get to bed. I'll keep you posted ...

Monday, June 01, 2015

The road map

Well, the nest is empty again for a bit. Joel came home from his second year at Chapel Hill, very glad to be home for the rest of May. To sit on the porch and read, to make fires out back with friends and talk into the wee hours, to eat home cooking, to work his old job for a while and make some money to carry him through a summer with an unpaid internship. Yesterday, after church and lunch together, he left for Nashville in his new/old car. I'm happy to report he made the almost 7 hour trip just fine. He texted last night that his host family are coffee lovers. Yay for that. My coffee buddy's in good company, it sounds like.

Coty snapped a picture for me as we said good-bye outside the restaurant yesterday. When I looked at the picture, I cringed a little. Oh, my! The wrinkles look deeper and well ... more abundant. I thought, "Maybe it was the lighting, maybe the bright sun made them show up more, maybe I don't really quite look like that."

Then I remembered a lovely interview I heard recently. As she pointed to her face and the etched lines at the corner of her mouth and the outline of her cheek, actress Frances McDormand said, "That one, that one right there. That's Pedro.That's my son, Pedro.  20 years of going, 'Hi!' and 'Wow!'  ...this is the map ... this is the road map."

So, imagine, if you will that I point to those lines at the corners of my eyes as I say, "This is 20 years of saying 'Hi!' and 'I love you' and 'Way to go!' and so much more." The lines are years of smiling, even at good-bye, entrusting this young man to the God he (and i) love and endeavor to serve.

In fairness, of course, I must say that many others are etched into that road map face of mine. Five other children who have made me smile and laugh (and yes, frown and cry), a husband of almost 36 years, grandchildren, parents, sister, nieces and nephews, friends ...

Thank you all, dear ones. Every picture of my face is that road map, pointing back to years of loving you. Or, if you don't mind as I mix my metaphors, each picture, a gallery in which your lives in mine are on permanent display.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Sari Bari Quilt auction going on now ...

Click here if you want to bid on Kokata Meets Provence. Let me warn you that when I try to go to that link in Internet Explorer, it doesn't work. Chrome and Firefox seem to be fine, but in Explorer, I get a message that the quilt is unavailable. It is still there, but only til Wednesday. There's just one bid so far, so it's at a very low price for the quality and beauty of the quilt, if I do say so myself.  And forgive me, but I'm afraid I don't think the pictures on the auction site do the quilt justice.

There are many, many other gorgeous quilts being offered. Here's the link for the general auction site. Go buy a beautiful quilt and give hope to women who are being freed from the sex trade in India!

Round 2 of the auction should be online by this evening. Even more beautiful quilts, including Kandyce's.

Lots going on around here these days.  Make Welcome classes, quilt sewing, triathlon training, and a backyard project. More later, friends ...