Monday, July 29, 2013


     Many years ago, before I had children, I was fortunate to go to work at a place called Dairy's Madonna Gardens that just happened to be right around the corner from my house. So nice! Being able to walk to work. I was hired as the manager of the flower shop in this nursery, although it wasn't a very big place and even part time hours were spent many times just babysitting the landscape and being the body in that part of the nursery when the boss lady wasn't around. Big title for a small job, but it was a nice place to work.
     The nursery was owned by a couple named May and Frank Dairy (both deceased now, how sad). It was positioned on the main street of town and had been there as long as anyone could remember, although I'm not sure May and Frank owned it the entire time. As one walked in the main gate of the property there was a nice large pond with a little waterfall and a statue of The Madonna; I am assuming that was where that part of the name came from. I imagine it came with the nursery and was significant to the previous owners because neither May nor Frank were very religious. But it made a nice setting (Frank used that area to display the beautiful hanging baskets) and I suppose the wisdom of keeping the familiar name for business purposes played itself out in return local business.
     It was while working at this nursery that I met Jerry. Jerry was the manager of the nursery end of the business and worked full time being much busier than I ever was. He was pleasant and helpful and made it his business to get to know the plants and the particulars about them and the weed killers and foods and seeds that we sold. The customers liked him a lot and asked for him by name when he was out in the greenhouse watering or transplanting and not there to greet them as they walked in. We (or should I say he) didn't have much time to sit around and chat but as I got to know him I learned some things about him. He was a Youth Pastor at a local small church (I never asked, but I imagine many of those hours were volunteer as he was not supported financially by the church) and had gone to school to become a Pastor. He and his wife, Nancy, had been married the same year my husband and I got married: 1975.
     In the fall of 1979, while Doug was out of town, Jerry and Nancy asked me over for dinner one night. Nancy and I went on to be best friends (yes, she's the one I speak of every so often). Nancy was pregnant with her son, Jordan, who was born that December.
     That same year I became pregnant with Jennifer and left Dairy's to work at a flower shop in downtown San Luis Obispo. But early in 1980 Nancy and Jerry moved to live in a house on the nursery property and they were now just a block away. Our two oldest children grew up together and it wasn't long before I had David and then Nancy had Helen. We had great times together, but that's for another blog :)
     After a couple of years, Jerry accepted a job as Head Pastor for the Assembly of God Church in Taft, CA which was only an hour and 45 minutes away, but it seemed like my best friends were moving to the other side of the world. I would go visit periodically but it just wasn't the same as having them in the next block.
     Thirty three years have gone by now since Jerry and I met. He has left the pastorate and now works for Youth for Christ in Bakersfield. And in those 33 years Jerry has become more a part of our family than he knows. He has always been there when we needed him: visiting sick family members and performing the wedding ceremonies for both David and Joscelyn and Jennifer and Paul. He greets me with a hug and tells me how much he loves me and has continued to be a man people ask for by name and want to talk to. I have always been so glad that he became a part of my family.
     Last year, as I was at a quilting retreat I attend in Buellton, CA every January, I met a man, also there at the retreat, from Bakersfield. He was involved in a youth quilting program I knew my friend Nancy was sometimes involved with. I asked him if he knew or had ever met Jerry. He said to me, "Oh, yes! I know Jerry. What a gracious man!" I thought to myself "Exactly!" That's a perfect way to describe Jerry ~ gracious.
     Happy Belated Birthday, my friend!    

Friday, July 19, 2013

And...we're home!

     Well, that's the sad thing about vacations. They always come to an end. But this one was a really nice one. We had good weather: not too hot, not too cold. We did a lot of things that were very interesting which we had not done before. We went to the Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco. Went to see Old Town Sacramento (didn't even know they had an Old Town but it does figure) and spent two nights on a restored river boat. We drove through Weed, California (may not seem important but to my freshmen lit classes, it figures in the book Of Mice and Men and the students are amazed that there is actually a town called "Weed". I took pictures) to Sisters, Oregon for the biggest outdoor quilt show in the world (see previous post.) We went antiquing in Redmond, OR. There was a Lavender Festival the same weekend and we went out to visit a family-owned lavender farm (also see previous post). We visited Albany, OR. to see a workshop where the townspeople of Albany are creating a carousel (previous post). We drove though hundreds of miles of absolutely beautiful scenery: trees and mountains and rivers and lakes (Oregon is very green.) We had breakfast made for us every morning and fresh linen on our bed every night. We listened to 2 1/2 books on Doug's iPod. So all in all, a nice time was had for the 10 days we were gone.
     One of the nicest things about taking car trips is the opportunity to see the places in the United States that most people just fly over to get to their destinations. In our travels, over the years, we have come upon some very interesting and unusual sights. Quilts painted on barns, memorials to famous people and not so famous people. Small towns that are holding their own in the economic crisis by banding together and making it work. We have met so many interesting people.
     This year was a little different though. We did not take a trip last year due to my recovering from cancer surgery. And in the last 6 months I have discovered I have some food allergies. Food allergies make traveling more challenging. It's a lot more work. I take my own salad dressing and coffee creamer (almond milk), make my own protein bars, take peanut butter; all which necessitates taking a car refrigerator and making sure all the hotel rooms have fridges. We stay in a chain of hotels that have a hot breakfast and allows you to take fruit with you for the day ahead. Bananas and peanut butter are a life saver! You also have to ask a lot more questions. "Do you scramble your eggs with milk?" "Is the sauce a clear sauce or more of a gravy?" "Can I order a hamburger without the bun?" "Can I substitute fruit for another item?" "What kind of fruit is in your fruit dish?" "Are those shrimp grilled or sautéed in a sauce?" "Do you have a non-dairy creamer?" "Are your mashed potatoes made with milk?" "Is the salad premixed or can I have it without the cheese, or tomatoes or...???" "Can I order the ribs dry or are they pre-sauced?" I was amazed that, for the most part, people are very accommodating and only one wait-person rolled his eyes at me :) But I did get what I ordered so at least he took me seriously. And when there wasn't much on the menu to order at least I could order a hamburger and take the bun off myself, no sauce please, or most restaurants serve steaks and that is usually a good bet for me as they are usually just grilled, even though they are not always the least expensive item on the menu. And the places that serve breakfast all day, they are the easiest for me, and they are not hard to find. I was glad to see that many of the places we went had restaurants and bakeries that were vegan and usually had gluten free items as well.
     So, now it is back to the business of getting the stuff on my summer list done before school starts. I am getting a lot of things done for the guild's auction in September. I downloaded all the songs I wanted for my iPod and now just have to organize them. I'm spending two days with my sister next week. Got my two books read (yeas, I am counting the ones from Audible!) I have mastered a gluten free cake recipe and tried some quick breads that were good also. I tried to make crackers four times with three different recipes. No luck there. Got a baby quilt done and am working on another quilt I hope to get done by the time school begins. I got my syllabi (or syllabuses; both are correct) done and will do my common notebook formatting tonight. I haven't sat down and worked on my book. Too many thing running through my brain to concentrate but I have done what I call "mind-mapping" of one of the characters. So I can count that as some progress. I don't remember the rest of my list; I will have to go back to that post and read it.
     As far as summer goes, I will count this as a fulfilling one, and it's not even over yet!
     Summer on, my friends!  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Something Wonderful

     We walked into our hotel today and there it stood. This is what we came to Albany, OR. to see. Actually, it was one of the many items we came to see.
This is one of the 63 animals that will eventually be on the Historic Carousel in Albany, Oregon. So you say, "Well, isn't that nice?" And as it turns out, it is really nice. Briefly, here's the story...
     It was 2002 in Albany, Oregon. The logging industry along with the economy in general, and especially in small towns, was heading in a negative direction. In an effort to revitalize their downtown and bring tourism to their town, the town of Albany decided to get behind the building of this carousel. So they began to plan. The community at large and the businesses of Albany were asked to suggest animal for the carousel, adopt the animals and sponsor their animals. Then the hardest work began. Artists met with sponsors, came up with designs and details. The animals were to be hand carved (in the old fashioned, time honored ways of making carousel animals) hand painted and finished in a gloss automotive-grade sealant (like a shellac, only stronger.)

This is one of the many carvers that was working today. He is currently carving a rooster that will look like the artist's conception on the wall behind him. This is his third animal since he started carving as a volunteer ten years ago. He has already finished two horses. Like his work, all of the carving and painting is done on a volunteer basis. This project currently boasts 200 active volunteers with additional volunteers coming from all over the United States to spend some time working on the animals. To date the volunteers have logged over 145,000 hours. Anyone over the age of 14 years old can contribute hours painting, carving, running the gift shop or being a docent for the guided tours, although you don't have to book a tour. Anyone is welcome to visit the workshop anytime they are open.

   We spent about two hours looking at the animals, making contributions in the gift shop [ read shopping :)] and talking to the artists that were working. There were probably 12-14 animals in different stages of being carved. Another half dozen in the process of being painted (although no painters were working today...volunteers, you know) and about 10 animals that were done and waiting the completion of the project to get their poles. Not only have people sponsored the animals they have also sponsored the retooling of the over-one-hundred-year-old, donated, mechanical motor that will run the carousel, the chariots (seats) and the rounding boards (the decorative facades that make the canopy of the carousel.

This was a particularly lovely example of the finished product. It was adopted by a man and wife (the wife raises alpacas and llamas) who gave it to each other for a Valentine's gift. All the animals have stories behind them. The family that adopted the rooster, pictured above, has their name engraved on the ankle band and the feathers on the rooster's tail will have all their grand children's names on them. There is a beautiful lion that has a saddle of a patchwork globe with the words for "peace" written along the saddle blanket in all the languages of the world, including braille.
     The volunteers that are creating this project hope they can finish the 52 of the 63 planned animals needed for the carousel's opening ride by 2016. They already have plans for a huge building on the workshop site, that will include artist space for conservation and restoration of the carousel in the future, a food court, business offices and carousel museum and gift shop.
     This was well worth the 2 1/2 hour drive to get from Redmond to Albany. If you want to know more about the carousel, the work and/or want to make a donation please visit their website at :  The work these townspeople are doing is an awesome example of cooperation, dedication and community spirit!

BTW... the pictures from the quilt show and the rest of the ones from the carousel workshop are now on Picasa.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Another Day in Oregon

     Well, we survived the day at the quilt show yesterday so we were wondering what we were going to do today. There was a brochure on the front desk of the hotel where we're staying all about the annual Lavender Festival this weekend. Most of the farms are in the western part of the state but one participating farm was listed about 45 minutes away in Madras, OR. So, after sleeping in and having breakfast and reading the Sunday paper, off we went to Madras to see what we could see.
     We got to the lavender farm and were amazed.... 4 acres of lavender; all in bloom. Colors from white to pink to a gentle lavender color to a dark purple. It was lovely! The farm is owned by a family (father and mother, about our age, son and his wife and little kids) and they not only make soaps and lavender wreaths but they also distill the lavender to get the oil and a lavender water. They had samples of everything and even food they had cooked, from cookies to breads to a tasty BBQ'd chicken, all with lavender. They were really passionate about growing their crop and seeing what they could do with it. The young wife was so excited because she was looking into getting her own bees so she could add lavender honey to their list of products. We bought some items and found some varieties we wanted to look into planting at home.
We spent over two hours there just walking around and talking to the owners. They had the place very nicely done; advertising the fact that they do weddings and other events. There were many people there who had brought their lunch and were eating at the little picnic area the farm owners had situated right by the rows of lavender with a view of the snow capped mountains in the background. The picture on the left is of a variety called Super Blue, which is used mostly for the distillation of the oil and water and used to dry for sachets; an all around sturdy and prolific grower. The picture below is of a white variety called Edelweiss. It is also used to distill into oils and water and has a totally different scent to it. They had over 50 varieties on the farm (there are well over 100 varieties of lavender) and every single one of them has a different scent when crushed. All of their lavender is organically grown so they have to spend a lot of time weeding and all the lavender is hand cut! We had such a nice time at the farm. It almost made us wish we could have gone to see some of the other farms that were participating in the festival. There are 22 individual farms that belong to the Oregon Lavender Association and almost all of them were participating in the weekend festival.
      In addition to looking into lavender honey production, the family is also growing Alpacas to sell their wool. This was a really cool couple of hours and we were happy to see this small family thrive and succeed doing what they love to do!

     After we finished at the Lavender Farm we drove over to one of the Oregon State Park called Smith Rock. This park is made up of volcanic rocks and mountains known internationally as one of the best rock climbing areas in the world. Now, I'm not a rock climber or even a hiker (or even a stair climber) but this place was astonishingly beautiful in its ruggedness. It is also known as the location where they filmed the movie Rooster Cogburn with John Wayne. There were dozens of people hiking and biking and just walking around. I can't imagine climbing something like the rocky crag in this picture.
The scenery was awesome and it was another instance where we have run across something wonderful, as we travel, that is totally unexpected, but that gives us another glimpse into the glory of the United States! I know that sounds kind of hokey but it really is true. There is so much to see and learn about in every state! It will keep us traveling!  
     Tomorrow we leave Redmond and begin the journey home. We read about a little town of Albany, OR in the Sunday paper. It's 2 1/2 hours west of here. The town used to be a big logging center, but when the logging industry began to falter the townspeople came up with a plan to bring income and tourism back to the town. I'll let you wonder what it is and I'll write about it tomorrow. :)   

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show

     So tired! But it is a good tired. We just got back from the largest outdoor quilt show in the world. Yes, that's what they call it: the largest outdoor quilt show in the world. Now I're thinking...right. A little town in south east Oregon has the largest outdoor quilt show in the WORLD. Well, the operative word here is "outdoor". This little town in Oregon hangs 1300-1500 quilts in one morning BEFORE 9:00 a.m. and thousands of people come from all over the globe to look at these quilts, shop in the town, eat the food and take pictures of the quilts until 4:00 p.m. when the quilts are all taken down and returned to their owners, except for the ones that have been purchased; as far as I could tell, about 3/4 of the quilts hanging were for sale. The quilters set the price. So some of the quilts are a great deal and some are overpriced. But most of them were under priced from what I could tell. Take for instance, a spectacular hand appliqued, hand quilted queen size quilt for $1500. I couldn't afford to buy it but it was well worth the $1500 if not more.

Picture doesn't do it justice
I took pictures of the crowd but they were too small to enlarge very well. But here are some of the prettier quilts we saw. I took over 300 pictures, so I won't put them all here.
I would have a difficult time choosing which one of all of these I liked the best. Many of the quilts came from quilters who submitted them from many foreign countries. The dead line for submission is always June 1st. So the volunteers of this show categorize all these thousands of quilts and decide where they should be hung all over town. Yes, you read that right...there are no paid employees that do this show. From the people who put out the parking signs, to the people who hang the quilts, to the people who stroll the streets asking if anyone has any questions, to the people who organize the smaller groups of fund raisers who sell water and sodas in the crowds, to the people who take down the quilts, to the people who label and sell each quilt...all volunteers. In a publication handed out to all show attendees, the city of Sisters, OR spends approximately $121,000 to get this show running every year, but most of that goes for city beautification, and I must say the city is beautiful, I am assuming all year round. One can only imagine how much revenue this quilt show brings into the city each year. All the hotels, motels filled, all the restaurant meals, the retreats set up at the junior high, the week of classes from world-renown teachers, people shopping at the antique stores, the fabric stores, the candy shops; it goes on and on and on and on!
     Well, I guess you can tell, the show was great. And I was majorly (not really a word, I don't think) impressed. Although I must say that with all these quilts and only 7 hours to see them all...well, it was a bit overwhelming. I know there were ones I did not see. There is no possible way to make sure you saw each and every one. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to how they were hung except for one section with one guild's mystery class that were all hung together; about 15 of them. That was cool. They all looked the same but oh, so different! There were signs posted that said if you wanted to find a particular quilt that the Head Organizing Committee at a certain location could help you. But I don't know if that would really be necessary for most people.
     All in all, I was amazed. I have been involved in putting on several quilt shows and let me tell you, these people have got this down to a science! And I was amazed at the whole atmosphere of the town: everybody was SO nice; townspeople and guests alike. All 300 pictures I took were, for the most part, taken after people making sure they were out of my way.
I have always wanted to come to Sisters for this wonderful show and I am so glad I got the opportunity to do so. I am also thankful that Doug suggested we come and that he was there the whole day, shopping, holding the quilts in the breeze, helping me take pictures and listening to the endless talk of fabric, colors and how amazing it all was. I don't know if I will ever get back to Sisters to attend this show again. I bought a T-shirt, a Christmas ornament and some postcards and a shopping bag to remember it all with. We had lots of fun and even though this was the main focus of our trip we still have things we want to do before we turn home. I will try to upload all the pictures into a Picasa account so that anyone can find them, in case you want to look at them all. All the quilts were amazing and remember...the pictures are nice but they really don't so them justice!
     Tomorrow we are planning on sleeping in a little and then driving to Madras, OR to visit a Lavender Farm that is part of the yearly Oregon Lavender Festival. We are leaving Redmond on Monday morning but we haven't decided where we will head. We're having a great time...wish you were here! :)

Friday, July 12, 2013


     Just a little add on here for today's post. Tomorrow, July 13th will mark the 41st anniversary of the day Doug and I met. Happy Anniversary honey, I love you !    

Vacation Con't...

     Today is Friday. We got into Redmond, OR yesterday around noonish. We had driven from Klamath Falls in the morning, stopping at a very nice (and huge) quilt store in La Pine, OR. Yes, bought some really nice Christmas fabric I couldn't resist and found a couple of gifts for the kids. We checked into our room in Redmond and decided we would scope out the town of Sisters so we would have our bearings the day of the quilt show; which is Saturday. It is a beautiful little town. We found the singular quilt store where I was able to purchase some postcards of the quilt show and a lovely lavender sachet pincushion for my small but growing collection. The store was jammed with women and men, mostly women. The fabric selection was great but the ladies at the counter were kind of snobbish. Two of them were ok but one was a bit short with me when I asked if they would be giving a discount the day of the show. She said, "Why would we?" Gee, I don't know...a discount brings even more people into the store and when they get a good deal, even a small discount, they buy more. DUH. Anyway we got some good information about a shuttle to the show and a back way into town to the shuttle stop, which is at the high school. And we got a hint on a good local place to eat dinner. By the time we walked around a little and visited some of the other stores, ate dinner and got back to Redmond (1/2 hour drive from Sisters) it was after 8:30. We were tired. We watched a little TV and then went to bed.

     This morning we got up and lazily got ready for the day. Redmond is THE antique center of Central Oregon (who knew?) I found some great maps in one store. I love maps. In another store I found a great cast-iron, standing bird feeder at a ridiculous low price and Doug found me a small treasure. It's an old pincushion in the shape of a globe with a place for a thimble and a tape measure! Too cute! Had to come home with me!
     After the thrill of finding this lovely little item we decided it was time for some lunch. We were directed to a small hamburger stand a couple of blocks away called Dawg House II. It had a big sign on the door stating that it was owned and operated by a veteran. The hamburgers were some of the best we have ever eaten. I had mine with grilled onions and mushrooms and Doug had his with an Ortega chili, both sans bun :) Yummy!
     After lunch we took in a movie: Pacific Rim. It was good. A modern tech Godzilla type movie. And now we are finishing up our day by doing laundry (a necessity when traveling for more than a week and you don't want to lug multiple suitcases!)
     All in all we have had a great time so far. Oregon is beautiful...water everywhere including a river swiftly running behind the hotel where we are staying. It is lovely to be able to watch the rushing water as we eat breakfast in the morning.
     Tomorrow is the quilt show. We will be up early to get to Sisters by 8:00 or so. I would really like to see how they accomplish hanging 1300 +/- quilts in one morning all over town. We were talking to one shop owner yesterday and she said it was a miracle to watch them take it down last year when it decided to thunderstorm and rain towards the end of the day. She said they got all the quilts down and wrapped in two hours, and none of them were damaged! Amazing!
     If I am not too tired to blog tomorrow night I will catch you up on Sunday. We're not leaving Redmond for home until Monday.  


Wednesday, July 10, 2013


     We're on vacation! Yay! I remember the first time I blogged on vacation. It was the summer of 2008 and we took a drive from Santa Monica, CA to Chicago, IL on Route 66. It was something new to me but I learned a lot about blogging and I had a lot of fun. You can probably still find that blog somewhere on Google but I have moved on to this blog and though I don't usually journal daily activities exclusively, I decided that since the people I know and love read this blog, it would be just as easy to use it for our trip.
     We are currently in Klamath Falls, OR for the night. We went to San Francisco over the past weekend, and were planning on heading north from there, but Doug had to return home for an interview on Monday morning. So Monday afternoon we struck out again to spend two days in Sacramento, CA. Capital city of California. But other than view the Capital building from about a mile away we pretty much stuck to an area call Old Town Sacramento; 7-8 square blocks of original buildings down by the railroad tracks and the Sacramento River. It is a part of town that was raised 10 feet at one time to keep the river from flooding the businesses and streets. This created an underground of old doorways to closed businesses that they left and now use for tours. Kinda cool.
     We stayed the two nights on a refurbished River Boat that was originally used to get people from Sacramento to San Francisco. After being used in WWII as a hospital ship it was sunk during a storm in the San Francisco Bay. In the 1980's someone salvaged it and restored it back to its original glory (at a cost of 9 million dollars) and now the Delta King is permanently docked in Old Town and used as a hotel and restaurant. It was a good experience. The doorways are small and narrow, the floors are slanted, there are no ice machines and the Wi-Fi doesn't work all the time. But the air conditioner worked, and you couldn't feel the movement of the boat and the food was good. So, overall, a neat place to stay!

     Two days in Old Town and we visited a restored school house from the turn of the century. I went in and sat at the teacher's desk. It was so small as far as space went, not size wise. I talked to the docents who were in costume, and retired teachers, and enjoyed them very much. I would not have been able to be a teacher back then as teachers were always single women. It's funny that some of the same rules they have posted I STILL use in my classroom, like: one student at a time to the privy (bathroom)!
     We went through Weed, CA today. I knew it was an actual city, as I have researched it. (From the book Of Mice and Men that I teach to freshmen) but it was cool to be able to get the city sign as we went through. Now I can post it on my bulletin board for them to see. :)
     Tomorrow we are on our way to Redmond, OR which is about 1/2 an hour from Sisters, OR where the quilt show is Saturday. I don't know what we're doing between now and then but I'll keep you posted.
     Gotta love summer!