Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Grace's Retreat

Marie, I enjoyed your recounting of Grace's retreat very much. You have such good recall; did you keep a journal or does this come naturally to you? By nighttime, I forget what I did in the mornings, these days. I know that planning a retreat is a lot of work for someone to take on and just flying into places, making connections, from your home location can be both stressful and tiring by the time you get to where you are going. I know that the four quilters who came in here after the retreat were all tired, especially after the long drive through Algonquin Park but they were exhilarated by the fall colours and that made up for the six hour drive. A retreat is a lot of organizing on both ends, the person planning and those attending. It's nice to make those connections with each other and keep them up through retreats.

The mention of sneaking forbidden 'fruit' out of freezers...Jane, it never works here. I always know exactly where that piece of sweetbread is that I've squirreled away in my freezer ...that's what toaster ovens are for.

I've awakened to a new President of the United States...both candidates must be exhausted after such an intense campaign.

We are having a break in our November weather...two days, yesterday and today, of warm sunny weather. I want to stop the clock but winter is coming on and we're all bracing for it. Gardens are being put to bed, wood brought up to the door, squirrels hoarding nuts and it's the week of deer hunting season here. I shake my head that such a thing can go on in such a populated area. It was two years last Monday that our friend Marianne was shot by a deer hunter and still, the township doesn't do anything to end this practice here. No walking in the woods this week or next.



Thank you for sharing. I felt like I was there with your vivid descriptions.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Marie's Travelogue

Thanks, Marie. Now the rest of you can see why I was hoping Marie would share her thoughts on Grace's Retreat. It was like being there all over again. Marie, start saving your pennies - I know there will be a retreat in another year or so....Joleen in MN

Retreat, part 3 of 3 - aren't you glad this is the end?

Another half-hour drive took us back to Petawawa for a late lunch, and then back to the motel for a pit stop and a bit of rest before heading out again to Grace’s home for a lovely wine and cheese spread which her husband and a friend had ready and waiting for us. The sections of meat and cheese on the tray were separated by a some ruffled type decoration which looked as though it might be edible also. Some of our more inquisitive types found this to be raw acorn squash sliced very thinly and folded in quarters - very tasty with a nut-like flavor. A bit more show and tell with Grace’s lovely cathedral window quilt; she says she’s ready to make another one of those - it’s a hand labor intensive project, but great for long cold winter days inside. Although the weather was slightly cloudy, cool, and damp, John and Grace showed us very warm hospitality.

Onward to dinner at The Sands on Golden Lake - more food!!!! Mixed greens salad, stuffed pork roast with potatoes and vegetables, and dessert. Certainly no body went away from this retreat hungry - in fact, we were all stuffed to the gills. We were seated in one end of the restaurant at a long table overlooking the lake, warm enough inside to open the windows, and clear enough to see the beautiful fall foliage across the water - bright spots of red, yellow, rust, and orange interspersed amid the dark shades of the evergreens fading into the mist. Grace’s Deaconnaires Choral Group of 12 or 13 women entertained the whole restaurant with several selections of ballads, spirituals, folk tunes, and show music, accompanied by accordion and the spoons. We were invited to sing along, and even had folks on the grass outside the windows chiming in.

Our last activity of the evening was Catherine’s trunk show, and there’s no way all the things she brought would fit into one trunk. This incredibly artistic and prolific quilter is in the process of having a house built and so many of the pieces she brought were quilted on a machine powered by generator. From 12" by 16" small pieces to queen size bed quilts, in all styles from very artsy/craftsy to old-world style album applique to whole cloth and traditional piecing with fantasticly detailed machine quilting, each expressed some facet of her lively personality and boundless energy. Even Celia P. sat quietly in awe of this wonderful talent. It took four people to carry everything back to her van at the close of the evening. Our hour-long ride back to the motel on dark country highways had all of us watching to keep the car in front in sight. Some of us went straight to bed, although the next morning I caught up with the fact that those who gathered in Grace’s suite made so much noise that the management had to call them to quiet down. I’m sure Celia P. was making up for lost time in not talking at the trunk show. Also final decisions were made on the lap quilt for the previous evening’s chef - an Irish chain quilt to honor his Irish heritage, with retreaters contributing nine-patch blocks where the focus fabric was to be food-related, set with unbleached muslin. Grace and her friends would set them together and present the quilt at a later date.

Sunday morning found us all at the breakfast table in the motel once again, preparing for our individual journeys homeward, and already starting to reminisce about the good times. Last minute checks to see that everyone had signed our picture frames, and promises to share photos were completed before Nellie and Clay, and then Brenda and Karen started their long drives back across Ontario. Those of us who remained at the table only had to exchange a look to start the giggles once again as the stories kept coming. I even offered to rent out my knitting needles, but that only set off more giggles. Those who were headed across the Algonquin Park toward Rosey’s were staying another night, and were already planning car games to avoid the inevitable adrenalin let-down from all the excitement. Grace left about 11 to go home and collapse, and Joleen, Celia B., and I left around noon to make our way back to Ottawa airport to fly home. Those remaining were talking about possibly going to see the pumpkin boat races on the Ottawa River, but since I’ve not heard anything about that, I strongly suspect several of them took a long afternoon nap. For those of you whose curiosity is bursting, pumpkin boats are the bottom half of a 1,200-1,500-pound pumpkin, cut and hollowed out to seat a paddler and floated on the river. Going through airline security cost Celia B. her folding scissors that had already flown to Germany and back, but my knitting needles went through without a hitch. We were home around 9:30 Sunday night, tired but happy, and ready to go again to the next one, just not this week.

I know this has been long and for some, boring, but you could have scrolled on by. Oh, yes, I made my block, well actually two, one with grapes, and one with pumpkins, for the chef’s lapquilt. Marie in Maryland

Retreat, part 2 of 3

So sorry about the small print - I don't know what key I hit that caused that. Glad to know Laura knew a way to fix it. M

The only order of business for Friday morning after breakfast was a trip to Walmart so Grace could purchase coffee on sale, so everyone was on their own timetable. Grace and Nellie were nearly through by the time Celia B. and I got there about 8, and by 9 even night-owl Celia P. had shown up. Waffles, cereal, eggs, sausage, bagels, and toast gave everyone some semblance of choice, and outside of the other travelers being a bit taken aback at this chattering and giggling group of women taking over a whole table meant for only 6, everything was fine. Nellie’s husband Clay even came and ate with us. One group decided to go sightseeing through the town while Grace, Jane, and Nellie went to Walmart. I stayed at the motel with my knitting just in case Grace’s buddy Dianne showed up while they were gone. The reports were that Walmart was quite crowded and Nellie decided to walk back (almost a half mile), although I think she admitted the cans of coffee got pretty heavy by the time she got back. Dianne did get there, and she, Grace, Nellie, Jane, and I visited for a while waiting for the other group to return. We got hungry, and since there had been no set schedule, we decided to go on to Tim Horton’s for lunch, not knowing that the remaining crew were busily traipsing through a grocery store getting picnic supplies for all of us. So we came back from lunch and a drive around to see most of the murals to a picnic on the patio of the motel, and more food, and to find that Brenda had arrived to join us. Have I mentioned that we ate and talked and laughed, and ate and laughed some more?

After lunch we had our goodie bag exchange there on the patio. Jean’s contribution were the lovely handmade totebags and we soon had them filled with all sorts of goodies - bookmarks with the word "GRACE" to remember Grace’s retreat, several fat quarters of fabric, a telescoping magnets for picking up pins from the floor, maple sugar candies, coasters from Korea, 2009 calendar mousepads for our computers, over-the-couch-arm quilted storage caddies for TV remote controls, and the folding sun hats are examples. Brenda’s handmade paper quilt-design picture frame with space for everyone to sign and leave email information were also a hit. The story behind the folding sun hats were that I’d been invited to a hat shower for a couple of ladies in my church who were undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, and I gone on the internet looking for a turban pattern for chemo patients. I’d found instead these folding sun hats - a flat-brimmed fabric hat with a flexible wire in the outside edge of the brim, which twists and folds down to fit in a zippered carry-case about 6 inches in diameter - at a price lower than I could make anything. A couple of our retreat participants are breast cancer survivors, as are several BBChat posters, and I’ve heard many of you say how much you enjoy your gardens and outdoor flowers, which set me thinking about skin cancer and sun protection - hence the sun hats. Of course I wasn’t particularly expecting the whole oversize bikini top exhibition from our Celia P., but it was all in good fun and the source of many more giggles and mental-image memories that will never be the same.

The afternoon continued with visits to a nearby nursery and gift shop for prowling through the Christmas ornaments (Kathi, how many bears did you end up with?), and on to the blueberry farm’s gift shop where I know I heard Nellie and Celia B. having a debate over which of them would get a blueberry-patterned pottery bowl. Dinner in the evening was at a downtown restaurant, with a choice of salmon or prime rib with salad, herbed potatoes, vegetables, and dessert. Two or three of Grace’s quilting guild friends came from Chalk River to join us for dinner, and the chef/owner came out to welcome us before dinner. We all had a good time chatting and visiting before the meals made it to the table, but the noise level really dropped when the food appeared. As we were leaving the restaurant after a leisurely meal, the chef was sitting at a curbside table outside visiting with a couple of friends, and he asked what more he had to do to get a quilt; could he come and be measured for it? Of course that set off more gales of laughter, but as we were driving back to the motel, you could hear the mind wheels start turning, and the idea had taken hold to make a wall hanging for him - more later on this.

Back to the motel and gathering in Grace’s suite for show and tell. Those of us flying in mostly brought pictures rather than the real things because of luggage space, but the Canada crew held up their end just fine. Kathleen says she’s a very new and quite inexperienced quilter, but she certainly showed herself proud with a lapquilt done with 18-inch drunkard’s path blocks that were cut after layering, and portions of the arcs reversed and resewn to become a very unusual setting. You’d have to see it, I think, to understand the concept. Brenda, Celia B. and I left about 11 pm to hit the hay and plan for another day, with orders to be ready to leave at 9:30 the next morning.

Saturday morning dawned somewhat foggy, and as I snuggled under the covers, I could hear the train whistle in the distance as a freight went through town on its way south. Our group sort of straggled in to breakfast as it had been a late night for some of the more talkative ones in the group. Brenda’s sister Karen joined us fresh from seeing a performance of Cirque du Soleil (hope I spelled that right) in Ottawa on Friday evening, a birthday present from her daughter if I got the story straight. "Anyway", we managed to get ourselves sorted into 3 cars and headed for Chalk River to a quilt shop in the basement of a lady’s house. It was amazing how much variety of fabrics, quilt notions, patterns, and samples she has packed into the three rooms, with still room enough for tea and muffins for those who simply hadn’t had enough to eat. An hour later saw us piled into cars again for a short trip to the local library where there was a quilt show set up in the basement. Admission was voluntary donation, and gloves were available for those who simply could resist touching. There were about 50 or 60 items hung in a very nice showing, some artsy, some traditional, all gorgeous. Several of the items were quilted by Grace’s friend Catherine, and you’ll hear more about her later. Also available for sale were CDs with a complete set of photographs of each item in the show.

More later. Marie in Maryland

making font larger

If your eyes are as bad as mine, the previous post is a bit small. On my computer, control + will enlarge the text on any website. You can do it as many times as you want.
Everyone in the US, go vote.
Laura in Alabama
PS I l0ved the reports about the retreat. Please keep them coming!

Retreat, part 1 of 3

Okay, okay, I got the message!!! I thought with all the other varied reports about Grace’s retreat, I’d escaped writing one this time around. But since Joleen asked so nicely, here goes. I’m going to post it in installments because it is very, very long. Scroll on by if you wish.

I’ve said it before, as have others, and I’ll say it again - if you ever have the opportunity to participate in one of these retreat events, run, don’t walk, to do so. Each one is unique and different, but renewing friendships with some and making friends with new ones bring back the old saying, "Make new friends, and keep the old; One is silver, the other gold." Celia B. and I have been friends and worked together for nearly 30 years, and though Celia doesn’t read the BBChat page regularly, she had graciously consented to accompany me to Rosey’s retreat in 2004, and to the Michigan Lakeside retreat in 2005. So when feelers for participants in Grace’s retreat began to appear on the BBChat, we made our plans to come together once again. Late spring brought rapidly rising gas prices, which in turn sent airline fares into the stratosphere, and so in early June when it looked as though there was no end in sight, Celia went ahead and made our plane reservations for nonstop flights from DC to Ottawa and back, and rental car reservations too. We were all set, and ready to slog through the summer work routine, reading through Grace’s plans avidly each time anything about the retreat was posted.

Ah, at last it is the week of the retreat, leave slips are signed for the time away from work, last minute contact information is left with supervisors, who by this point are probably anxious to get rid of us for a few days, and minute details of what time we needed to be at the airport (2 to 3 hours ahead of scheduled flight time for international flights) are worked out. Uh-oh, that means I need to be at Celia’s house in Virginia by 6:15 am, which means I’ll have to cross the Wilson bridge over the Potomac River in rush-hour traffic. If you know anything about DC area traffic, you know that morning rush hour is 4:30-9:30 am, and evening rush is 3-8 pm, and the Wilson bridge is usually a huge bottleneck because it is part of Interstate 95 carrying east-coast traffic from Boston to Florida. So..... up at 4 am to finish last minute packing in one carry-on bag, clean undies inside, for the entire weekend so I won’t have to pay extra for checked luggage, and I’m ready to roll. Yes, the iron is turned off; yes, I left a voicemail with the code for my security system for a friend who will be picking up my mail; and yes, my passport, medications, and pop-tarts for breakfast are in my purse. And I’m off - traffic on I-95 is heavy but moving steadily, I’ve crossed the bridge and made the proper exit off the interstate to get to Celia’s house, and I’ve managed to miss the deer crossing the riverside drive so closely that all I saw was his underbelly and hooves in the headlights. I pull up in front of Celia’s house without making any wrong turns, and she meets me at the curb with, "You did want to go to Chicago today, didn’t you?" Guess what? A 4 am phone call from the airline that our nonstop flight to Ottawa had been cancelled, and our next choice on that airline wouldn’t leave until 8 pm that evening. By the time I arrived, she had gotten us rescheduled onto another flight which had us changing planes at O’Hare in Chicago, and leaving only a half-hour later than our previously-scheduled flight. Celia’s dear hubby dropped us off at the airport and we work our way through ticketing and security - no questions asked - and plenty of time to eat my poptarts. And at O’Hare, our incoming and outgoing gates are on the same concourse so we had no difficulty making our way through the busiest airport in the US; our flights were all on time, or even a few minutes early.

Arrival in Ottawa is now about 1:30 pm instead of our originally scheduled 10:30 am, but passing through customs and picking up the rental car is uneventful. A quick stop at McDonald’s for late lunch and we’re on the Canadian expressway making our way towards Pembroke. It’s a beautifully sunny day and the trees are showing their fall colors everywhere you look. The highway verges as we worked our way farther north and west were filled with bright red sumac underbrush, rusty brown cattails in marshy areas, and yellowed milkweed pods splitting open in the sun to release their fluffy seed-parachutes in the backwash breeze created by the traffic. At several points along the highway there are construction zones of one-way traffic with workers busily trying to finish resurfacing projects before the winter snows set in; one of these was a bridge construction which had a traffic light at each end rather than a flag-person controlling traffic - much safer for night-time navigation. Two hours put us pulling off the highway onto local roads into Pembroke, passing a blueberry farm on the way. We checked in to the motel and paused to unpack a bit and freshen up before setting out to find Grace in her two-bedroom suite, complete with kitchen and living area. She was delighted to see us, and even though we had only met once before in person, after five minutes it was like we had never been apart. Plans were for Jean, Celia P., Jane, Kathi, and Joleen who where flying into Ottawa to arrive about 9:30 in the evening, so Grace had sandwich materials, homemade wine, and Amish friendship cake ready for them to have dinner when they got in. By the time Celia B, Grace, and I decided to head out for dinner, Nellie had arrived to join us (her smoker husband went to find another motel), and we went into downtown Pembroke to a Thai-Chinese-Vietnamese restaurant. The food was excellent, though quite highly-spiced, and the conversation even better.

When we arrived back at the motel after dinner, Jean’s carload of flyers were just unpacking their car and getting checked in. Hugs and introductions (Celia B. and I had not met Kathi before) were the order of the evening, and Celia P. was already telling stories about the ride up from Ottawa in the dark. We all gathered in Grace’s suite where she presented each of us a deep blue tote bag from the City of Pembroke with all sorts of literature about the city and its tourist attractions, among them the 31 artists’ murals scattered on buildings throughout the business district, the nearby blueberry farm and gift shop, Canadian maple-leaf and Ontario provincial symbol pins, and other advertising goodies. The late arrivals scarfed down ham or turkey sandwiches, and we all shared the delicious friendship cake. Celia P. shared stories of her moves and destruction and rebuilding of her new home, and you know that each story set off gales of laughter for everyone. "Anyway", we all had a good time renewing friendships and cementing new ones, sharing the news of Celia B.’s daughter’s wedding, Stacie’s pregnancy, and Jane’s recuperation from her car accident and various surgeries. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in a corner with my knitting, and listening to all the conversations going on around me, giving me insights into various personalities and becoming more familiar with family members whose names I might recognize from the BBChat being spoken of with love. Many other BBChat regulars names were mentioned also as various participants recalled memories of Ohio ‘99, Minnesota 2000, and Rosey’s and the Michigan retreats. Plans were made for Friday morning breakfast at everyone’s leisure (continental breakfast served at the motel 6:30-9 am) before Celia B. and I drifted off to our room for the night. We had opened the window when we checked in to let some fresh air in (our room was on the west side with the sun shining in), and we never closed the window the entire weekend.

More later. Marie in Maryland

Monday, November 3, 2008


Evidently, Sara, you have never had the pleasure of eating frozen cake. Freezing cake just doesn't work for a compulsive eater like me. I gave half of the cake to a neighbor as I'd darn near eaten other half.

Neighbor's daughter was visiting with almost six month old baby, one of those smiley sociable types. She reached out to me to hold her. What a charmer. I can see their driveway full of bicycles when is is fifteen. I just started on her quilt on Saturday so I guess I'll mail it. It's very cute puppy fabric. The baby is clearly a dog person. Her family has a Newfoundland and a golden and grandpa has four Boykin spaniels two of which a wound up puppies about a year old. The baby was not the least bit intimidated by their frenzy of play and she reaches out for them.

Just got an email from DD#2. I'd asked for Christmas wish list and one of the two wishes was a cure for hot flashes. Glad that's behind me but sorry I have no wisdom to offer her. I've read that recent research has shown that the herbal approach is ineffectual. I remember just living with it. That was the beginning of sleep problems for me. Long after the daytime flashes stopped the night sweats went on for a long time until I got on the estrogen patch. That worked but doc stopped it when the researchers concluded that HRT Carries a breast risk. Oh hell, just getting out of bed has its risks.

Off to get the allergy shot then home to cut lots of fabric for next week's class. Since it's a flip and sew I should get it finished before I need it for a shroud.

Jane, who isn't answering the telephone until the polls close tomorrow night. I'm a lawyer and first amendment freak and I don't think the politicians have a constitutional right to intrude in my home. They can say whatever they want in public or print but I should be secure in my home. There I said it and I'm glad.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

More this & that

I forgot to add my 2 cents worth on the boat racing. Like some of you, I like to be near the water, but not on it. I like to kayak in the rivers, lakes, etc. but would never kayak on the ocean. I think it's wonderful that the nephew can do something like this. After all, some may look at me and say, why would anyone want to run?
DH slept most of the night and is currently sleeping. He said on a scale of 1 -10 he was a 5. Maybe a day of sleeping, resting on the couch is just the thing.
Our football team lost to Ga. Tech last night. Sigh- - - - The Gators won over Georgia, so we will have to put up with them gloating for another year.
Small towns--I loved Kinsale, in Ireland my favorite town.
I guess I'm a surburban girl. I like having my own house and green grass and flowers, and nice neighbors. Wouldn't want to live in Miami or NYC in a tiny apt. The convience of having a car to take me anywhere is great. By the way-good news-gas has come down 40 cents in a week. Maybe it will get below $2.00 a gal. soon.
Did anyone see the giant pumpkins? Some were over 1500 lbs. The seeds are worth a lot of $$$. I have to have the brownest thumb in the world, would have starved to death if had to grow my own food.
Jane- It's good to know that some small towns take care of each other. I have not experienced that part of small town life. My DH said his Mom always won the cake contests in their little town when he was a boy. It must have been like a county fair, she won blue ribbons.
If you haven't already eatten the cake, slice it up and freeze it in sections in zip-lock bags.
Going to play nurse Nancy some more then watch the 1:00 football game.
Sara in Fla.