A daily record of gratitude; from quilting to photography to a mix of technology, books, movies and the musings of life!

Welcome to my Blog of my daily gratitude and photo of the day!

Since January 1, 2012, my goal is to write a daily sentence or two (or paragraph or two) about gratitude of the day and to include one photo (at least) that I took that day (but will add others from time to time). It has definitely been a challenge most days throughout the past eight years, and welcomed the challenge again this year - 2020 - Covid and all. I hope you will continue the ride with me!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Back in the Driver's Seat

That driving seat is being at the helm of my sewing machine after a "longish" break. It's like being in a pair of well worn shoes or a pair of favorite jeans, everything about just "seams" right!

I am also grateful to be back with my bee-mates and the catching up with them with the goings on in their lives...mainly coming and going on vacations and all that that entails.

Looking forward to driving my machines in the days and weeks ahead! Million stitches anyone?



Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Home is Where the Heart Is...

Books have been written and songs have been sung noting that there's nothing like home - as much as I/we love to travel; the return is always good and humbling.

Gratefully, our trip to Austin was very good, and one of the most simplest pleasures about this trip was the front porch swing at the Airbnb where we bunked. Even on the hottest nights this past week, I/we (it could hold two) still sat and gently swayed in that swing until the pesky mosquitoes proved too much. Thoughts swirled along with the pretty sounds of the wind chimes on that wonderful porch. My thoughts in the below Haiku

The Swing

Old wooden porch swing

gently swaying to and fro

rich summer pleasures



Monday, July 29, 2019

What Texas Heat?

Despite being 94 degrees as I write this post CST (came down two degrees in the last few minutes) at 8:22pm, we still feel like we can see and do quite a bit in these parts of Texas. I think as long as we are hydrated, wearing a cap and getting in a long(ish) walk/run very early in the am, anything is possible in this "glorious" Texas heat.

Today we were lucky enough to ride through the University of Texas campus on scooters, get in a round of golf at TopGolf - Austin (I bowed out and cheered my two guys on), and dinner at yet another great Austin BBQ, life is good here while on vacation. We are staying at a great Airbnb in the area near Barton Springs/Kinney Avenue, and close to everything we want to see and do without "too much traffic."



Below Bill and Ryan at Top Golf

A little Gin Rummy...

On scooters at UT (hook 'em horns)

Saturday, July 27, 2019

From The Capitol to Peacocks to Salt Lick

Compared to the Maryland State Capitol in Annapolis, the Texas State Capitol is BIG! And as they say, everything is bigger in Texas. We had fun exploring the building until we moved on to Mt. Bonnell and Mayfield Gardens to see the peacocks (close to each other enough to visit in an hour or so). I've never seen a baby peacock, and the momma peacock was so cute with her youngin'. It may have been a tad too hot for the males to spread their feathers; because they were more interested in finding shade and laying down (and no squawking either).

Today we drove out to the hill country once again, this time to Driftwood, Texas, and the Salt Lick BBQ. It was better than I thought (food!) and on a large 'ranch' complete with a huge and dusty/gravel parking lot. They really know how to BBQ all right, and everything we ordered - meat - was super tender and very tasty. Not a salad on the menu, but the potato "salad" and coleslaw were excellent.

And since we are in a foodie town, another meal out at the Shady Grove rounded out our day (and our tummies). Thankfully, we were able to meet up with a couple I met in Puerto Rico in April; Lauren and Frank who live in the area and had the evening free and it was great that they were able to meet the family.

BSoleille! Cheers to Austin and all it offers its guests and inhabitants!


Baby peacock and its mamma (peck on the head)

Salt Lick BBQ

Ryan checking out the BBQ pit (BIG ONE TOO)

Lauren, me, and Frank

Texas State Capitol

Thursday, July 25, 2019

"The Hill Country" LBJ and Miniature Golf

What do they all have in common? Nothing except while waiting for "The Best Daughter" to be done with work today in San Antonio, we checked out the "Hill Country" (which about 65 miles northwest of San Antonio), visited the White House of the West, or more commonly known in these parts as LBJ's (36th President; Lyndon Baines Johnson) homestead and sprawling ranch (still in operation with considerably less acreage nowadays), and a super fun round of putt-putt golf once back to SA toward the end of the afternoon.

Thankful for the family to be all together once again and headed back to Austin (with a must pit stop at Buc-ee's; stopped on our way down as well) where we will explore for the rest of our time here. Lots of good food in Austin, great live music and adventure around every corner...or so we hope!



Some pics from today's adventures

These two aced this hole!

LBJ was the first Vice President and then Prez to have his "own" plane.
"The Western White House" - needs much needed repairs and tours have stopped until 2024

This large White Oak branch weighing several tons fell off the tree yesterday (they were giving outdoor tours until yesterday)

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Greetings Y'All from Texas!

My sewing machines will be silent for the upcoming week while visiting "The Best Daughter" in the great state of Texas. Our day started early in getting to our local airport, flying into Austin and renting a car to drive to San Antonio ("The Best Daughter" is working here). Bill, Ryan and I stuffed a lot into our day/afternoon by visiting the top sites (The Alamo and The River Walk) before meeting up with TBD for dinner in the Pearl District of San Antonio.

A round of drinks to finish the day at The Hotel Emma (it's National Margarita Day in case you are wondering) completed a great day of travel and sightseeing in this "up-and-coming" city (by the way, it was here for close to 50 years before we were the United States in 1776!). The locals are claiming that this is the "new" Austin; with craft breweries, boutique hotels and eateries and a good strong vibe for all their visitors descending on this charming city!

BSolielle! The bright side of Adventure Around Every Corner!


Monday, July 22, 2019

CamPower for All - 10th Annual

Another great year for the local kids swimming in the Cam Diamond Swim Meet today at the Crofton Swim and Tennis Club in Crofton, Maryland. Several pools in the area convene for this "novice" meet with many of the swimmers earning beautiful ribbons for placing in their events.

The exciting news is that The Diamond Family are celebrating the 10th Anniversary Cameron Diamond Invitational Swim Meet which raises funds for the Cam's Playroom at Johns Hopkins Children's Center and local families in need. It's all about people helping people and I am thankful for all their efforts in supporting wonderful causes.

BSoleille! The bright side of  http://www.campowerforall.org/


Photos from the Cam Diamond Meet this evening! Founders: Carol and BJ Diamond

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Last of the Graduation Parties!

Another whirlwind trek to Cleveland (Saturday/Sunday) for the last graduation party of the season. This time for nephew, Dylan Pejeau (my youngest sister, Annette’s oldest son). It was a lovely party in celebration of his graduation from Rocky River High School in Rocky River, Ohio.

Dylan will continue his education at Cleveland State University. Wishing him success in his upcoming collegiate experience!

Wooohooo and Congratulations! ...and find the library...



Friday, July 19, 2019

#CelebratingOthers with Power Washer - Jeff Remy Rermgosakul

It's a wonderful thing to have a good referral when it comes to house stuff, including a good power washer for very dirty (moldy green) siding. It's been several years since our last cleaning (including the sidewalks and patios); and our previous power washer was hurt in a very bad accident and cannot work any longer.

So have you ever heard of "Nextdoor ___________"? We use Nextdoor Crofton for local news and all kinds of topics specific to neighborhoods (i.e., Why is there police activity two streets over? Or, who can recommend a good power washer, etc.?) If you have it in your neighborhood, you know of what I speak. It's a great forum to find something, perhaps from a neighbor, or someone very close, for just about anything (events, real estate, local crime/safety, lost and found and general stuff).

After getting a new roof this spring, the rest of the house looked quite dingy. But with all the rain, it was not a good time to get the power washing done...until today! Thankfully, I "consulted" Nextdoor Crofton and looked for recommendations from others who asked the same thing this past spring. After reading "reviews", I decided to call Jeff Remy yesterday morning. He promptly returned my call and was "in the neighborhood" to take a looksie at my job request and was at my house in 10 minutes. Due to a cancellation, he was able to do our house today.

This job is not for the faint of heart, especially in the Mid-Atlantic heat, but Jeff carried on without complaint and muscled through six laborious hours of power washing the entire house, windows and sidewalks and patios. While he worked I continually made sure he was staying hydrated and filled up his canister with ice cubes and freshly made iced tea almost by the hour!

Once he finished and cleaned up, he came in to take care of payment, and I decided that this 40 year old young man with five kids would be a great person for a #CelebratingOthers blogpost.

Jeff "Remy" Rermgosakul was born in Maryland to working class parents and has three sisters and two brothers. He said he was raised in Columbia and Silver Spring, Maryland, throughout his youth and graduated high school from River Hill in Clarksville, Maryland (due to redistricting) in 1997. He has been married and divorced twice and has five children ranging from 16 years down to one and an half year old twin girls. He revealed that his children are the best gifts ever and that they make him very happy every day.

Jeff is not one to sit still, and has held various employment opportunities across the board including Jiffy Lube for 12 years; various restaurants in the area for several years (bar manager/culinary manager), and a car salesman (he declared it was the worse job he ever held!). He said that he has always done power washing no matter what job he held in the past. Last year, he decided to take a leap of faith and pursue power washing full time. He does residential and commercial and is quite meticulous in doing a great job no matter where the job is located. In the "off season", he works for a few buddies that have their own businesses, mostly doing HVAC work that he says he enjoys.

What this blue loving guy likes about being in business for himself is that it gives him freedom with his schedule, along with his coaching responsibilities with the Blue Claw Wrestling Club. He loves wrestling and is currently helping coach his 10 year old son in the sport.

Interestingly, he also was involved in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) where he traveled throughout the USA in competitions and to Portugal for the European Championships between the ages of 21-28. As a young boy, his father took him and his family to visit relatives in Japan and Thailand, and also traveled to Ireland with friends. He said he'd love to get back to traveling, but has family responsibilities he needs to take care of first!

And lastly, when I asked him what he can share with me that no one else knows about him is that he loves to listen to classical music! Mozart and Tchaikovsky are his favorites! Love to hear this for sure!

BSoleille! The bright side of #CelebratingOthers with Jeff Remy!


Photos of Jeff the Power Power Washer  (if local and need someone: call 301.502.2149)

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Thursday Throwback to a Trip to Ocean City, Maryland

It's prime vacation week(s), and a "throwback Thursday" sounds just about right with the Kocan's and Tomoff's vacation in Ocean City, Maryland, in July of 2003. The kids in the photo all have the tshirt to prove it too! From the boardwalk, to the ocean, to body surfing, to boardwalk fries, to the rides and ice cream, everyone had a great time. It's great that when 15 or 16 years pass, no one remembers any tantrums, tension or tall tales. Only the fun and great memory of that time remains. Isn't that a good thing?

So Happy Vacation for those traveling anywhere this summer (and welcome back to those who have already had their vacation experience for 2019).

I simply love summer!



Kids: "The Best Daughter", Brandon and Nathan Kocan, Ryan, and Justin Kocan (he just graduated from high school this year!)

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

SAQA's Sacred Threads Exhibit in Reston, Virginia

A cross-pollination of bees, quilting bees that is, afforded several Southern Comforters a drive out to Reston, Virginia, to view the exhibition of a very inspiring quilt show starring the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA). We were all impressed with the breadth of work, insight, love and incredible stories of loss, grief, love and joy depicted in over 200 quilts.

According to their website, "a small group of women gathered in 1999 with a vision of a "new" type of quilt exhibit. Back then, topics of spirituality and inspiration were not always understood or welcomed at traditional quilt shows. There was not a "safe" or welcoming venue for quilters who saw their works as a connection to the sacred and/or as an expression of their own spiritual journey. Often the meaning behind the works were missed or misunderstood because the artist did not have the opportunity to share their inspiration with the viewer."

Founder Vikki Pignatelli and other committee members created a dignified exhibit that their artwork would touch all those who viewed it on many levels. Many of their themes then continue today in the artwork: Joy, Spirituality, Inspiration, Grief, Healing and Peace/Brotherhood, One word: Amazing!

Now, 20 years later, the beautiful show was held at a beautiful church in Reston, Virginia. My quilt buddies, Trish Rader, Debbi Carter and Deb Hoppe "shuttled" across town to view this wonderful show. So much talent and inspiration oozing from each and every quilt and exhibitor. I was thankful to take it all in, and garnered some new ideas for quilts that continue to percolate in my mind (but haven't made it out yet).

A big shout of Thanks to Misty Cole for setting up our guild's tickets to the show! And below are some of my favorite quilts in the show, including the "Eye Contact Project" (very cool).



Photo below: Trish, Deb, Debbi, Margy Hill and me

"Eye Contact; creating a connection". 5"X23"

Gerrie Congdon, Portland, OR
Ode to a Tree Can you see the word tree spelled out in a vertical line?

Linda Waddle, Auburn, CA
Well Defended

Diane M. Clapes
College Park, GA
Mama Robi

A close up of the Eye Contact exhibit; Misty Cole's 'Eyes' are the middle row and are her sister's!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The "Real ID" - Are you Updated?

The State of Maryland is going through the process of updating all licensed Maryland drivers and ID holders to the mandated Real ID (from the Real ID Act of Congress in 2005). It's a form of ID that meets increased security standards for state-issued driver's licenses and ID cards. Travelers will be required to provide Real ID or another TSA approved form of ID in order to fly after October 1, 2020. Forty states are compliant with Real ID so far (including Delaware, Maryland, VA and DC).

I looked it up on whether travel can take place with an "old" (non-compliant) license by using a viable passport, and the answer is yes. However, I decided to "comply" and "update" my license yesterday at the Annapolis DMV. Sigh...who likes going and waiting for "hours?"

Interestingly, the entire process was painless and I was very impressed with the efficiency provided at the Annapolis DMV (my wait was four pages read in a magazine). Thankfully, I already had the  "new" license with the "star" on it, but because I got it when it was relatively brand new; the documents required now were not required then. I scrounged up the documents needed that would prove that the person on my driver's license was indeed me!

The woman who updated my license was very personable and quick, even telling me to put my wallet away (I assumed there was a cost associated with this procedure) because there was no cost at all, just an update of their records with my official documents provided. Good deal for sure.

To further expedite an update, appointments are scheduled so the process can be quick (less than 20 minutes from the time you walk in the door; if not quicker).

BSoleille! The bright side of being compliant with a Real ID and can travel domestically (especially after Oct. 2020).


Sunday, July 14, 2019

#CelebratingOthers with Sister Pat Parachini, SNJM

If you think the life as a nun could be "boring" with repetitious prayer and solemness, you have not met dynamo Sister Pat Parachini! At 79 years young, Sister Pat is a force to be reckoned with as she continues to work almost full time in various spiritual leadership capacities in Maryland, and all over the world. I am tickled that she let me interview her (she is very modest and does not like the attention). She lives to serve others...and I hope you read on to see that she indeed does! (And yes, there is prayer and solemness too...comes with the territory of being a nun).

We met the lovely Sister Pat when she began working at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D.C., in 1997, for the Department of Missions and Pastoral Care; as a specialist in pediatrics in oncology and neonatology. When we talked about our first meeting, we both said it at the same time; meeting up on C53 with Ryan and his boo-boo bunny. Sister Pat lovingly asked Ryan about his bunny and the bunny's name. Well that question led to an unbelievable bond our family has had with her and our continuing friendships to this day. We think Ryan may have been one of the first patients she met while on the peds floor of the hospital when she first started at Georgetown, but she came to love all the children and families she served during those precious years there.

Sister Pat was born in Newark, New Jersey, to an Italian descent parents; an engineer father and an homemaker mother. By age 9, Sister Pat, along with her only brother, moved with their parents to Silver Spring, Maryland, where she has mostly lived for the past 70 years (although she did travel, go to college and lived internationally for a few years here and there).

Interestingly, if you know Italian families, either they are "all in" religiously, or not. Sister Pat explained that her family was not "all in" (did not attend church much or talked about what faith meant) and were ambivalent about her joining the religious life in the early 1960's. Due to the strict rules at the time under Vatican I, there was very little opportunity for families to have regular contact with their daughters. Plus they knew she would never marry or have children (but thankfully, her brother married and had three daughters, and now seven grandchildren, which makes Sister Pat an Auntie to all of them which she truly loves!).

In 1961, Sister Pat entered the Order of the Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary as a novice https://www.snjmusontario.org/. And in 1963, she made her first profession of vows in this Order. So what made this humorous and fun-loving young lady become a nun? She believes it was her very strong idea to serve people as she saw her parents do in secular society. She said they always had a seat open at their dinner table for family, friends, and their children's friends, and were always hosting and helping others no matter where they lived. It was their way of serving and helping others. Her parents set wonderful values for Sister Pat and her brother and their home was dubbed "the gathering place." Sister Pat fondly recalled her Mom being a gourmet cook and baker and even baked homemade pizzas for the entire school after high school basketball games (now that's Italian!).

When I inquired about education, I was mesmerized on how much education means to being a nun (especially her Order). The nuns from her time and her Order are extremely educated and can discuss many topics of humanity with the best of them. They are also very interested in advancing all people across all borders of the world as it connects to the preaching of the Gospels and the goodness of mankind. This in itself excites Sister Pat as a spiritual leader and mentor of religious life.

Sister Pat earned her high school diploma from The Academy of the Holy Name (closed its doors in 1988) in Silver Spring, Maryland, then furthered her education at Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York, majoring in education and philosophy in the early 1960's. She then laughed about the fact she earned her other degrees by the decade. She received her Masters degree at LaSalle in Philadelphia the 1970's with a concentration in Religious Studies; and lastly, she earned her Doctorate of Ministry degree in the 1980's at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

In between all those decades of advancing her education, Sister Pat began her career in teaching. She claimed she taught all grades at some point, from elementary school through high school. Never one to sit still, she was directed to check out the Maryknoll Missionaries in the early 1970's https://www.maryknoll.org/ where she applied, and was accepted, to the mission and task of helping set up a new catechetical center in Kyoto, Japan, from 1973-1975.

It was all hands on deck for Sister Pat, who was the Assistant to the Director of the Japan mission, to implement activities, edit a monthly newsletter for English-speaking missionaries throughout the diocese (in Japan), and facilitate workshops in liturgical and religious education. Whew! I believe her time there whetted her appetite to grow and learn and take on even more responsibilities wherever her Order felt she could make a difference. An "adventurer" at heart, she traveled for six weeks following her Japan mission throughout Southeast Asia; Israel and Europe (and with no Internet/wifi/mobile phones to call home to reveal she was OK either!).

As you can see, Sister Pat's thoughts of "how can I help" never leave her. She is quite remarkable in that her calm demeanor, coupled with her joy of life, parlayed into a beautiful and meaningful career as a spiritual director and leader that has touched countless lives throughout the globe.

When I met and talked with Sister Pat about her illustrious career, she was very modest about all she has done (and continues to do). It was me "shouting" from the rooftops and how brilliant she has helped and affected more lives than she knows, including me and my entire family.

With a plethora of educational and travel experiences afforded to her spanning 50+ years, one of the most pivotal experiences she had was when she was invited by Dr. Aziza Shad to lecture at four conferences -the Middle East Cancer Consortium (MECC) from 2005-2008 (mostly held in Cypress). Those conferences themes focused on Palliative Care of the Cancer Patient. Sister Pat spoke about relationships of spirituality in that context, which, as we all know, is a very sobering topic for sure.

In addition to her religious experiences, training, teaching, lecturing, mission work and ministry, she is a published author of two books, and either a co-author or authored a chapter on two books; her most recent one: Worship and Church (authored a chapter on Liturgical Preaching). She has also published several articles on spirituality and preaching in the last decade.

This loving woman who loves the color yellow currently works part-time as a Spiritual Integrator (member of a clinical team) at Saint Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland; and Lecturer of Pastoral Studies at The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC.

And lastly, when I asked Sister Pat what make her "tick", she stated at this point of her life, she feels truly blessed for her rich life; which includes her relationship with God; her unbelievable spiritual mentors, and her deep friendships she maintains with her friends, family and co-workers. She also absolutely adores her religious community where they problem solve the needs of everyday life to the larger world. And what ultimately fascinates Sister Pat is how everything in life is connected to the preaching of the Gospels and how they teach us all how to love. This gives her great joy of seeking the light and hope in every situation!

In closing, I asked Sister Pat to give me a couple her favorite quotes (bible or not); and she forwarded the following to me (I'm including them all):

"In the twilight of life, God will not judge us by earthly possessions or human successes, but on how well we have loved." (St. John of the Cross)

"As we tread the same path, let us extend a hand to one another to surmount the difficulties that present themselves." (Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher - Sister Pat's foundress of her Order - The Sisters of the Holy Names.)

"Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action." (1 John 3:18)

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." (Jeremiah 31:3)

BSoleille! The bright side of "SelflesslyCelebratingOthers" with Sister Pat Parachini, and she does indeed serve others, right?


Photo of Sister Pat and Ryan below

Recent photo of me and Sister Pat Summer 2019

Ryan with Sister Pat at her Farewell Party at Georgetown

Ryan with Boo-Boo Bunny on the left.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Love Rock

We all know nature can be funny, and I have posted a few hearts I've found in leaves and rocks, along with a plastic tie and the vacuum cleaner cord. So I was delighted to find another "heart" in a stone while looking for sea glass and shark teeth at Chesapeake Beach!

Okay, it maybe a stretch, but I'll take it!

BSoleille! The bright side of an heart stone.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

A Chesapeake Beach Morning!

My friend, "tall Linda" (AKA Linda Duret) whisked down to Crofton a little after 8am to pick me up so we could get down to Chesapeake Beach to visit with another mutual friend, Mary Hall and her husband, Denny. We wanted to look for shark teeth (and sea glass), enjoy the water, and catch up with each others lives. Thankfully, we accomplished all three before noon, four things if you count the sea glass!

The "wildlife" along the beach was amazing including a nest of ospreys not far off the beach, "shore butterflies" and the antics of Mary's pooch, Blondie. We could not have "ordered" up a better morning consisting of brilliant sunshine and a slight breeze coming off the Bay. I had a wonderful time trying to capture the shore life on Chesapeake Beach, Maryland; all photos from my camera phone.

BSoleille! The bright side of the Bay beauty...


Photo below of me, Linda and Mary

Osprey nest

Shore butterly (Swallowtail - they like to eat the minerals in and around the sand)

Not one, but two butterflies!

Million years old shark teeth washed up on the Chesapeake Beach

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Baltimore Appliqué Dropout

In 2000 I signed up for a year long class with Southern Comforter Guild member, Jean Reager, who began teaching locally the Mimi Dietrich's Baltimore Album Quilt (Mimi is world renowned for her quilts and techniques in all things Baltimore Album). By September of that year, my son Ryan relapsed with his Leukemia, and I became a "Baltimore Appliqué Album Dropout" because I could not finish out the year.

Thankfully, when he got well enough, I was able to return to the class in 2002. I did several of the blocks, but never completed the quilt. Tonight's guild meeting was to show either our BA blocks or completed tops, or hopefully, to inspire others to share ideas to finish the quilts. (It's been way to long, right?)

The bag I keep my unfinished blocks in I made in 2000 at our guild's retreat. To tell you the truth, I haven't opened in over 15 years. It was a treat to open it tonight and see what I actually had in it; the blocks I did really do, but not like so much. I think that's why it was never finished, I simply do not like the colors I chose and everything looks mismatched to me. Other members who showed theirs were awesome, and I hope they will get the inspiration from tonight to get their quilts done.

BSoleille! The bright side of the entire Baltimore Album process...19 years later...and the "need" to get inspired and finish!


Photo of two of my blocks (Susie Stevenson holding one of them)

Retreat bag made in 2000 and not opened for 15 years!