Monday, June 18, 2012
Friends have been made, relationships strengthened, and I know I will be seeing these ladies again in the future.
I'm not ready to pack it all back into Shamu just yet, so I'm out for a stroll through the town, following that ever beckoning ribbon of sidewalk.
The gates of Mercyhurst College North East call to me, bidding me to enter through, to follow the original brickwork paths beyond the admissions office, various hallowed halls and to St Mary's Chapel.
The gothic structures stand tall and regal, surrounded by stately trees, manicured lawns and the flowering of summer.
I'm the only one here---finding the comfort of an inviting wooden gazebo to sit, to finger-peck this post via my phone, and to share a bit of the evening glow.
I am so very blessed. I am keenly aware of how much so at this moment, watching the sun set and catching its last evening rays. So very very blessed, and feeling humbled and unworthy for all of this life and how it has unfolded.
And these are thoughts of gratitude for everyone who was so willing to open up their lives and their homes and their time schedules to make this incredible trip such a joy to experience.
I can't think of what else to say more than that. So I will hit send--and follow that sidewalk back through town----and start packing for home.
I’ve loved staying in B&B’s since the very first time I ever experienced one.
It was the early 1990s and I was heading to Spring Quilt Market ---this was the season of my life when my doll patterns were being featured in the large Butterick pattern catalogues, and everything was SO exciting.
I believe the town was St. Louis that year ----and I had traveled all the way from Idaho by myself ---flying in, picking up a rental car, finding my way to where I needed to go without the use of GPS ---goodness, those were the years just BEFORE I got internet access which didn't happen in my house until 1995. How did we ever do all this WITHOUT the internet?! Crazy to think of those years.
Because I was traveling on my own, I thought I’d like the comfort of a B&B and had contacted the chamber of commerce to help direct me to where I needed to go. I remember making a phone call to the proprietor who sent me brochures in the mail. And then I called back and made my reservation. THAT was how it was done, folks! There were no websites to check -- no google, no trip advisor, no nothing.
And I loved it --- from the very first night.
Even if I had to share a bathroom with people down the hall, I was hooked.
Hooked by the furnishings, the family atmosphere of breakfast in the morning, by the tangible history before me as I learned who built the house, who lived here, what interesting things happened within those walls ---- I think it is the romantic in me, thinking of the lives, the loves, the births, the deaths, the joys and the sorrows of those who had gone before. I was sleeping where they slept, eating where they ate.
The photographs down the hall of generations were intriguing. I loved the snack time in the evenings, the fridges stocked with cokes. The book cases full of novels to read ((There were no angry birds, facebook, or even laptops at this time!)) board games, and common areas used by other visitors ----I loved how guests chatted to each other much more readily and openly in a B&B setting than they would if they were staying in the anonymity of a Holiday Inn.
I got on so well with my fellow guests, that several times we all met in the evening to go to dinner together – even though THEY were not there for Quilt Market, only I was ---and thus started a long time love affair with making myself at home in the homes of others.
And here I am at the Grape Arbor B&B in North East, Pennsylvania!
There are actually two houses next door to each other that are ran as one property. I’m staying in the main house, in the first picture above. The second house is the one with the columns – both of them built in the 1830s.
There are two common areas on the ground floor – this one on the right as you enter the front door --
And this lovely area on the left ---
The dining room is ready to welcome guests to a scrumptious breakfast! There is one other group table in the dining room that didn’t fit in this photo --- and there is more intimate seating for couples out on the sun porch if you wish to dine alone, just the two of you.
There are touches of Amish made quilts hanging on the walls --- I loved the graphic nature of this tumbling blocks!
Follow me up the gorgeous winding staircase to my upstairs respite!
((Yes, I made about 4 trips getting all my STUFF up stairs!))
My room is large, light and airy! Doesn’t that large 4 poster bed invite?!
Load by load, I hauled in all the necessities and set them down in the sitting area.
Can you see these details? It’s the original door and handle!
My fingers, catching the hasp to latch the door. How many generations of fingers have done the same since 1830-something?
How I love seeing original floorboards --- worn spots, and stencils and all ---
And I’ve made it my own, sewing away on little precious pieces in between my lecture, the walk along the Lake Erie Peninsula, backyard BBQs with the guild ladies, making this little haven my home away from home for just a few nights.
Thank you, North East Crazy Quilters for taking such good care of me and treating me to this wonderful gem!
Oh --- and you should SEE the breakfast. It sure beats my usual yogurt and banana!
We have 25 crazy quilters this morning, and the class will change over to 24 more for the afternoon session---how fun!
The reason behind offering the same class twice? More people get the opportunity to participate!
Check out Cheryl's green machine! She found it at the Salvation Army for $25! We've named it "Sally Ann"
I of course, had to take a turn and used her for my demo!
When I met Pauline, after having only known her via email up to this point, trying to get everything all arranged for my visit up to North East, I INSTANTLY knew I liked this woman!
She has a warmth and exuberance that can’t be matched. She has taken care of every detail to pull this visit together and its been seamless.
When she asked yesterday if I’d like to stop and see her family’s cherry orchards ---I was ALL over that!
My mom and step dad had peach/apricot/pear orchards in Idaho—and some of my favorite summer memories revolve around those trees and their bounty.
This picture is Pauline telling me --- “Not THOSE ones, there are riper ones over here!” She didn’t know I was just photographing their beautiful color ---but when she said “ripe, ready to eat” my mouth began to water and I moved quickly to where she lead.
I had just started picking when a big BOOM!!!!! scared the pants right off me!
And then, less than a minute later – BOOM!!!
She quickly explained that the booms go off to scare the birds so they don’t eat all the fruit. It makes sense --- but boy did it scare me too, even though I KNEW it was going to boom again on cue ---it reminded me of those little wind up jack in the boxes we used to have as kids --- you’d crank the handle, the song would play and you just KNEW that thing was going to pop up and scare you ---
But Boom or no Boom – How SWEET is this, to be taken to Pauline’s cherry orchard to pick my own sweet cherries and carry them back to where I’m staying?
Oh the bounty of summer --- it goes too quickly, better be sure to take notice of every amazing moment ----
And remember to catch the juice that is dripping off my chin in the process!
Sunday, June 17, 2012
I just returned from a cookout given by a guild member ----OH! It was so fun! And relaxing. And gorgeous out there on the bluffs overlooking the Lake Erie Valley with Lake Erie right there in the distance---
You should SEE all the grape vineyards in this area --- acres and acres and acres of gorgeous grapes growing on hillsides – their curly tendrils blowing in today’s blustery impending-storm-weather.
I love the curly swirlies of grape vines! I can’t resist trying to pull them straight --- and then watching them spring back into little coils. we had grapes growing in our garden as I grew up ,and when they were ready, the juicing would begin. Quarts and quarts of juice from the steam juicer – I can hear the lids pinging in my memory, and boy did the house smell good, and that juice was so good all winter long!
Okay – I’ve already gone onto one tangent, let’s see if I can reign this in a bit better ----How do I get from grapes to rhubarb?
We filled ourselves with home grilled burgers, potato salad, slaw, home made corn relish, --and then the rhubarb part comes! She served the most wonderful rhubarb bread pudding ((I should have gotten the recipe!)) warm with ice cream.
And yes, there are childhood memories attached to rhubarb too --- how vividly I remember being about 5 years old in our house in Minnetonka, MN – and picking the rhubarb from the yard ---dipping the end into the sugar bowl, and just chewing away. Just that memory alone makes my mouth water!
So it’s on the tail end of this wonderful gathering of quilters and dinner around the deck and rhubarb bread pudding for dessert that has me back in my room – unwinding --- getting ready to sew ---and browsing online.
And what do I find? A free kindle book with the title of RHUBARB! How’s that for a segue?!!
Rhubarb by M.H. Van Keuren is free tonight in the Amazon Kindle Store – and it’s got great ratings!
Martin knows every desolate mile of Eastern Montana’s highways. As a traveling salesman, his only companion is talk radio. Its reports of the paranormal keep Martin entertained—and hopeful that there’s more to the universe than selling screws and nails to far-flung, small-town hardware stores.
A bright spot in Martin’s routine is the complimentary breakfast at a motel in Brixton, a junction town well past its sell-by date. But it’s not the watery coffee, day-old pastries, and pre-mixed waffle batter he loves. It’s Cheryl, the housekeeper who sets out the breakfast.
Martin’s chance comes when Cheryl’s car breaks down and he stops to give her a ride. To thank him, she bakes him a rhubarb pie, and he works up the courage to ask her out on a date. She agrees—but then she’s gone. Left town for a guy she met on the Internet, or so everyone says.
But Cheryl’s stepfather doesn’t buy it. He blames Martin for her disappearance, sending Martin on a search for the truth. What he uncovers about Cheryl’s family and Brixton’s history is far weirder than anything he’s ever heard on the radio. Especially if it’s true that Cheryl’s salvation lies in discovering a long-lost secret recipe for rhubarb pie—which might just be the best, and the most dangerous, pie in the galaxy.
It was still free for me --- but double check that it is for you before you click purchase – things change without notice!
I’m loving my B&B surroundings! Here I’ve got my featherweight set up ---I’m using the “other” side of the bed as my place to sew –good thing I’ve brought my folding table because there isn’t a desk in here ---I scrounged an extra chair from downstairs to sit on --- and I’m ready to do some piecing tonight.
It will be an early night though – tomorrow is my REALLY BUSY day! Two half day workshops back to back….one going from 8am to noon, and the other from 1pm to 5pm – followed by dinner out with the guild girls.
This Ohio/Pennsylvania whirlwind trip is winding down – I start home on Tuesday morning – just going to go as far as I can. It was 9 hours to Dayton last Sunday when I drove up – and it about killed my leg by the time it was done --- I’m going to take more breaks and just go as far as I can ----and yes, it’s TUESDAY so those antique malls BETTER be open!
Have a great evening, everyone!
Every once in a while there has, just HAS to be a foodie post. That is one of the really fun things about traveling the highways and byways –finding very fun places that I can NOT get at home!
After yesterday’s workshop in Ashtabula, I was following the PA contingency home to North East, and they put their noggins together and decided on a very unique place for me --- The White Turkey in Conneaut, Ohio!
The White Turkey has been doing steady seasonal business for 60 years --- and it is such a fun throw back in time – think of your typical 1950s drive-in – only better! Their specialty is pulled turkey sandwiches, so tender they melt in your mouth.
We pulled up and the place was packed --- of course it was a beautiful June evening, and everyone was out to enjoy some good ole American fare and enjoy the surroundings.
The evening light was setling in, so pardon my washed out photos --- the sun was just at “THAT” angle ---and heading into my favorite time of day in the summer –mid evening.
This is where you are going to have to imagine the soundtrack floating on the air too --- cue up Frankie Valli and “Shhhhheeeeeeerrrrrrrrryy Bay ay Bee! -----Sherry Baby!” Our toes were tapping and we were humming along and singing as we waited in line to place our orders.
“what’ll it be, Ma’am?” and I step right up to place my order. I’ve studied the menu board. I’ve asked what they are famous for --- and tonight? I’m having a Large Marge pulled turkey sandwich, fries --- and oh my heck – some guy just walked off with a rootbeer float, and I MUST have one of those too!
I watch the other gals place their orders and we enjoy the music, the atmosphere, and each other while we sit on benches and wait. There is a picnic area out back with tables and umbrellas – a park like setting – we’ll carry our treats back and enjoy our meal “al fresco!”
It’s a hot spot for caravanning motorcycle riders too --- what a great place to stop, stretch your legs, enjoy some good grub before getting back on that ribbon of highway.
OH . WOW!
I quickly decided that the rootbeer float was first to be devoured…that ice cream was melting fast! The pulled turkey sandwich was delicious --- and of course, fries are the perfect vehicle for ketchup, and lots of it – just the way I like them!
I’m so glad we got to experience this little bit of “high end dining” on our way between Ohio and Pennsylvania ---THIS is what summer is about, isn’t it?
White Turkey even has a website --- check it out, and make a plan to stop the next time you drive through Conneaut ---they are open seasonally, so keep that into consideration, and DO get the root beer float!
We passed breakfast picnics complete with the overwhelmingly mouthwatering aroma of bacon ala Coleman stove. Mmmmm! Is there any better hunger inducing smell than bacon cooked outdoors?? It was a happy fathers day breakfast in full regalia.
We kept walking--get away from the bacon!!!
Such a beautiful area, ending our tour at the lighthouse.
Yesterday was our Jared Takes a Wife workshop #2 in Ohio ---Two guilds, five hours drive apart, both chose this one as their workshop.
I tend to think of it as a great “beginner” or “intermediate” workshop – the sewing is very straight forward, everything comes from 2” strips except for the very center of the block ---and it’s a great way to divide those scraps up into color families and really have some fun with the piecing.
And then someone pointed out that my “easy” quilt had 53 pieces in each block ---and suddenly I saw it through a newer quilter’s eyes.
Even “simple” quilts can seem overwhelming when the block has more pieces than you’ve ever put in one block before.
And I had new appreciation for those who were brave enough to come play, and understood why they might feel a bit out of their elements and over their heads ---This simple 30 block quilt adds up to 1,590 pieces not including sashing, cornerstones or borders.
But they dove in anyway! With both feet and both hands, and fabulous scraps and individual color plans and schemes, with stories of who they were making this quilt for, or how big they wanted to make it ((Some are going BIGGER than the 30 blocks!)) and we sewed and sewed and sewed all day!
I have to give the prize of dedication to Jean --- and I think everyone in class would agree with me.
I was told early on in the morning that Jean was going to have to leave by noon ---she had a family funeral to attend that afternoon so could only stay for the morning.
The story unfolded and we grinned and laughed and understood even farther ----it wasn’t just ANY funeral that she had to leave for. It was her mother’s funeral!
Now before you gasp and say you wouldn’t have BEEN in class in the first place – consider this:
Jean’s mother has been ill a LONG time. The end was welcome, peaceful and well received. But it took a while ----and for over 2 weeks now all of Jean’s extended family has been camping out at her house just waiting for mom to pass on ----
And since the class was paid for, and all her stuff was cut up and ready to go, and because she needed some mental health hours with her closest quilting buds --- and to escape the insanity of too many people in her kitchen, she came to class! And we knew she would have had her mother’s blessing to do so as well.
Jean, you are my hero! All of our thoughts went with you as you left at noon to go to be with your family. And I just feel like your mom was smiling right along with all of us --- and nodding in understanding!
Yep --- our quilting IS our therapy. Being surrounded by like-minded quilters who get us, and understand – IS the best medicine.
And I’m still chuckling to myself about it ----
So let’s share some photos, shall we?
I’m writing from North East, PA ---I’ve settled into a lovely B&B and even set up for sewing some last night!
This morning I’m meeting with some guild girls for a walk----my legs and my camera are ready! The glimpses I got of Lake Erie on the drive over are awe inspiring ---so be watching for photos of that to come.
My lecture is at 2pm today --- and we’ve got dinner planned for this evening ---I’m in VERY good hands and excited to be in a place I’ve never ever been before --
My best wishes to the fathers out there --- I’m wishing you a very very happy Father’s Day!