Sunday, March 29, 2009

Busy as a bee!

I have again been neglecting my blog! I have been busy with work and travel, but it has all been good! I went down to South Carolina to visit my family and escape from all the snowy weather up here. So what happens? It snows! Well, for me it was only a flurry but the excitement it caused was hysterical! Schools closed, stores closed, and life stopped for a day. Children scraped together the snow and made teeny snowmen. I had a great visit with my family and was able to fix a few things and do some painting at Dad's house that he can't do anymore.

Something else I did was quite interesting, although it lasted only minutes. One recent evening my better half and I went outside to see something we heard would be visible. The space shuttle had hooked up with the International Space Station earlier that day. We were able to clearly see them as they crossed the sky. It appeared as if they were closer than a plane, and seemed to move a bit faster than a plane. Of course we were the ones moving here on the Earth! But it was quite a memorable moment to see the shuttle and Space Station. We waved to them! And I think they waved back!
I received a call on my answering machine from my nephew saying that their baby girl had been born on Tuesday! I won't go into details but my nephew and I share an interesting history together and he is very, very special in my life. This is his first child. But it would have been nice if he had told me her name, and now we're playing phone tag! I'll update you more in a future post!
I finally made it over to my friend's house to celebrate Christmas. Their tree stays up until the last of their long distance friends has made it over, which often isn't until Easter!!! Don't you love their tacky little tree, and it has LED lights so the tips of the branches glow. Notice the Easter candy under the tree? Their home is quite eclectic, but my friend is a fabulous quilter, cross stitcher and now a knitter. Her art is all over the house and it's beautiful. But there are the fabulous tacky touches everywhere tinsel Christmas trees.

The two of us took off to see Kathy Mattea in concert at the Jorgenson Center in Storr, Connecticut. It was a great venue with cozy seating and good food. Kathy put on a wonderful show as usual. If you want to know more about her music check her out in my links.
Sometimes I get artistic inspiration from the strangest places. This is a picture I took of the rug at the Jorgenson Center. I can just see part of this design as a hooked rug! But I'll just bet that finding the source to obtain copyright permission might be tough! Here's another floor that I thought would make a nice design for a hooked rug. It was on a cruise ship!We also visited the nicest hooked rug shop called Whispering Hills. Debbie, thanks for telling me about it! It had a nice variety of everything from hooks to books. She also has some great classes scheduled with Norma Batastini, Elizabeth Black and Nancy Blood. Worth a visit if you are in CT or MA. I bought a nice antique hook but didn't buy anything I already had. I finally finished my Padula rug a few weeks ago, and am glad it's completed because I have other projects I want to do. I picked up my Sunflower rug that had also been a UFO (unfinished object!). I was given the pattern when I first started rug hooking a couple of years ago, and had just started exploring with dying my own wool. I need to find out who made the design as it isn't marked, and is beautiful.
My friend came up with a picture of a chair mat that I had given to her a couple years ago. The mat was taken by someone and never seen again. I'm so glad that she had this picture so that I can put it with other photographs of things that I have made. It is a Moshimer pattern purchased at Cushings.
Another thing that has been occupying my time is the rug hooking group Wool Snippets. For many years Tammy and Bren have done a fabulous job with the group, and then the group had to move to another site and it lost it's luster for a lot of people. Tammy and Bren decided to retire from being managers, and JoJo and I took up the challenge. If you are a rug hooker and haven't checked out the site for more than a month please visit.
One of the members (JoEllen) is offering an online tutorial about dimensional rug hooking through her business for only $10.00. She has made some wonderful sculptured pieces and I am looking forward to her online class. The design is a bee skep with little bees around it. The class will start in Mid-April, and you can find out more on her blog.
Another quick project I will be working on is for a candle cuff swap on the Snippets group. And I need to make a chair pad for someone I know who is having a baby this summer. It will be a ladybug theme so it should be fun to design! In fact, with so many projects to work on I think I'll get off the computer and go play with some wool.
Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Maine Greetings

My life has been filled with a flurry of activities, so between storms, work and daily life I have been neglecting my blog. I finally removed the reindeer background in hopes that it would hasten the coming of Spring. But as I write this we are expecting a foot of snow.
I wanted to tell you about something that warmed my heart this past week. I was priveleged to attend a workshop in Bangor, Maine for MCEC, which is the Military Child Education Coalition. This organization provides support to members of military families who are left behind when a soldier is deployed. Deployment effects not only the soldier, but has many impacts on the family and children. It doesn't matter if the soldier is career military, or a National Guard unit serving in another part of the States or overseas. Often the spouse must take on a leadership role in the family they may not be comfortable with. The children feel the effects because one parent is away, and the additional responsibilities of the remaining parent often reduce the amount of time they spend with the child. Injury or death of the military member further complicates the family, and MCEC provides support for the family and training to people like myself who work with military families.
Our training was held at the Bangor airport, and at one point we were invited to join the "Bangor Greeters". The greeters are primarily made up of Veterans who realized that our troops were not always welcomed warmly upon returning home. In the early 1990's they took it upon themselves to ensure that every troop plane that entered that airport receive a warm welcome. Bangor is the first stop for many flights returning from overseas, and receives an average of 5 flights a day. Our training halted for an hour as we made our way to the area where the troops would get off the plane. There were about 10 WWII and Korean Veterans present, and one lone family. It was a mother with two young children (4 year old and an infant).
We lined up on both sides of the wide hallway, and the National Guard soldiers poured off the plane from Iraq...setting foot on U.S. soil for the first time in 15 months. We greeted them with "Thank You's", and "Welcome home", and numerous handshakes. Some of the men and women wanted hugs. Tears flowed from many soldiers and greeters eyes. The majority seemed very pleased and clamored for the touches and smiles that we offered. There were a few who showed that they needed space at that time and walked the middle...not making eye contact. We respected that, and I refrained from taking pictures out of respect for privacy. I cannot describe the emotion that was felt by everyone, both soldiers and civilians. I was able to observe the family greet their father and it brought tears to my eyes. That soldier was probably holding his infant for the very first time. I would estimate that 200 soldiers arrived on that plane, and it seemed that the line would never stop. Beverages and snacks were passed out to the troops, as well as cell phones so the soldiers could phone home and let their families know they were back on American soil. Latre that day those soldiers departed on other planes that would take them closer to their homes in other areas of the country. I hope that by now they are back with their families and able to tuck their precious children into bed each night.
The Veterans of the Bangor Greeters will meet the planes any day, any time...even if it is 3am. They keep track and constantly update a write on board with the number of troops that have come through. Before our greetings, there had been 805, 803 troops come through the airport, as it is one of the primary "first stops" for troop planes. They have also greeted 168 military dogs! I am so proud of and impressed with their dedication. They have set aside a large room in the airport that is full of unit coins they have been given. It is a tradition for members of each unit to carry the commemorative coin for their unit at all times. Should they be at a tavern and are challenged to produce their coin and cannot, they buy the round. The room also has tributes and letters of appreciation for the Bangor Greeters, as well as numerous patches and decals. This experience was a perfect compliment to the training we attended. Our society has defiled some soldiers in past wars because of their political beliefs, and their disagreement with war. We all need to support our military families and soldiers and show them that we care, respect and are proud of them no matter what. So when you see a soldier in the grocery store, or at church, or at an airport...please take a moment and thank them for serving our country. After all, they are sacrificing their families and their lives for you and your family.